/* */ vita graphein/-: February 2005

Friday, February 25, 2005

messed test and other stories

Had the first test (Digital Communication) of this semester and was it bad? I have begun to rely on a 'cheat sheet', that is a norm in some subjects and this test we could not take that help. So it was more studying than usual (haha) and had to do a lot of that. My performance on the test itself wasn't too great, but hopefully, the prof thinks otherwise! Got done with that yesterday, and sure is a big relief, not to mention I have another one (Pattern recognition) next Thursday and that following Saturday have another (Signal Processing in Telecommunication) before Spring break. Yes, the 10 day long break we get from March 10 I think. Hopefully I can see some of the movies I have downloaded finally!

Work is also getting a bit monotonous at the Telefund and sometimes its a bit boring. The supervisors at the place are real brilliant in every sense of the word, no seriously, really nice people of character, so sometimes that eggs me on to goto work. Environment is good, but work can get screwed sometimes. I have another recording assignment tomorrow and I am looking forward to that as well. Should get it done easily now, because of some know-how now.

Also we got our own
internet connection yesterday. Had planned only for the internet, but when he was installing it here, we decided to might as well go in for cable connection for TV as well, as it costs a little less, if we had both services, like about $35 after tax for a month, when it would have actually cost us like $40 after tax without cable and only internet. Might sound weird, but yah, the more services you use, the cheaper it gets here. Anyway doesn't matter too much as this is going to be shared by like 5 people (we 4 in our house and 1 guy who lives in the apartment above us). Not too bad, for wireless and cable convenience, I presume.

This is the next biggest thing in America. See, broadband internet or high speed internet(HSI), was big and now having that base in a wide sense here, the next generation of implementation is coming around. That probably explains why USA has the maximum number of VoIP providers now, compared to other countries. Yes, VoIP, has been researched for a while, but now the players like Vonage, Lingo and SpeakEasy are competing. This was actually one of the reasons I pressed for getting our own internet connection, as we need a router to plug in the phone line. Anyway we have decided to go in for Vonage, and shall soon be getting it. Right now we are fricking paying like $62 for our Verizon landline every month for no shit. I mean, we cant; call outside the calling area, and just use some extra features like Voice mail and answering machine, this is fricking pissing big time and we did not realize until recently. Writing about this, is getting me in a real bad mood, and I fricking want to chop their ***** off.
Sorry about the flame up, I am cooling now, and thought I will delete the above two lines, but I think I will just leave it in there. So, we are getting the Vonage connection as I said, which is going to give us unlimited calling in US and Canada for a flat rate of $24.99 per month. It is awesome I think and cannot have anything better. There is also a loophole in this system, which I will not elaborate here, as it may be inappropriate, but all I will say is that, this modem can be taken to any country and hooked on to any HSI connection and calls to US and Canada are still unlimited free for the same plan. You get what I am getting at.... ? Will email you about the plan if you want, as Vonage also has some policies, perusal of it will make it clearer and I won't post them here.

Modern Marvels
That aside, I was just seeing on TV yesterday during the news (yes, we watch the news almost everyday), that probably;y Chicago is going to have the World's Tallest tower. It is called the Chicago Trump Tower, vision of Donald Trump (remember, 'The Apprentice'), and construction has sort of started, with almost 75% of the space sold out. The exact height is not yet known, but speculations are on that this is going to surpass the tallest buildings in the world. Chicago already has probably one of the world's best skylines and this is going to be another gem, and some day is gonna be on Discovery Channel. There is also the Burj Tower in Dubai, which is also competing to be the world's tallest tower and is sure going to be one helluva project. I am overawed by all this shit man, it is all simply so awesome!

Rambling a bit
So this is a blog of course, but have you heard of bleg and blawg? Well, the former is a blog specific to beg for money and the latter is a blog specific for legal (law) matters. So makes sense, b(l)eg and b(law)g? Funny, that such words even have a meaning. That is all not all. The IEEE Spectrum Mag carried an article about the different blog words in use, may of course not be official, but the lingo sure has caught on. It is a really funny and nice article and if you should check it out here. Speaking of b(l)eg, I also came across a site calling themselves 'Foundation for Internet begging'. They have membership and benefits! Incredible. In fact they of course ask for money and say that if you cannot donate as you may say 'no money', then please join the group and start begging along, what audacity. A lot of people do it, and you know what, it is paying off as well, to an extent. In America, you never know what you can come across..
Back home, in Indian news, I also read about IIT Delhi, developed a mobile phone charger, that is driven by wind. Neat stuff.

Its almost 1330 hrs and I have to shower and stuff. So I am outta here with the next post soon.
P.S.. yesterday, I had to cook and made a real good dish, using potato and other vegetables, came out real brilliant. Write to me for the recipe if you want ;)

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The week that was

Have been through another shitty week. I had said I may write in to tell you about what I cooked on Saturday, but as time went by, I had to cook today, and made Okra Sambar and Potato fry. The Saturday I had to cook, I actually went out with my (American) family, as they said they had some Valentine's dinner for all international students. It was kinda cool, never had been able to make it to a large outing like this over the entire last semester, though I had been called on numerous occasions, but somehow never found the time to do so. Anyway actually met up with a couple of old friends there whom I hadn't seen in a while. Good food though and had a decent time there for about a couple of hours. The place was about a 20 minute drive from my house and they had come to pick me up as well. Also they had a raffle for all international students there and gave away gifts and stuff. They had about 20 gifts for say like 30 people, and my name was called out 2nd. (By the way, the Americans are slowly getting to pronounce my name correctly!). Went up to the stage, lay my eyes on the biggest package that was there and slowly started clearing the whole stage, as this large package was below everything, and the audience was in splits seeing me do so. Not knowing what it was, I picked it up, a flat package, as tall as me. Got to know later, after unpacking of course, it was an (awesome) IKEA table.I use my laptop now on that, jus the perfect height and size. Really cool shit!! So after all that, I escaped cooking that Saturday, and my roomies ordered pizza home.

Sunday was not too different, as usual called home in the morning and got myself updated on what's been happening in the home and in general. Then of course had to goto work (Telefund) that afternoon. Made a little over 200 bucks (for the college of course), and was a decent day. There was an internship fair this Wednesday, so Monday and Tuesday was all preparing for it.

The Internship fair
Had about 80 odd companies some in and about 5 for my branch, but to be specific, there was none looking for signal processing or communications. Nevertheless, I slept a bit early the day before, like about midnight, as I had to be up like 7 the next day for the fair. The fair as such was at 10 AM, but I had volunteered to be at the employers receiving, that is escorting them and their stuff, to their tables and help them set up. No, not that I got paid for that, but just a way of networking beforehand itself and making an impression. We all have to transact with reality (my prof says that), and reality bites, so I have to work around it sometimes. Anyway was receiving the employers for over 2 hours, carrying their goods and boxes and trying to get my foot in the door. At about 10, shed my worker clothes, and put on the best suit I had (yes, you are not allowed into the room without that attire). Spoke to guys from Philips (but they had come looking for power electronics background, and that was something I hated big time in RV, sure many are gonna agree), Barry Wehmiller, Nicor, Mitsubishi Automation, Norlux and Borg Warner. Anyway was a decent experience and hopefully can hear from a couple soon. Who the F cares if the internship is not exactly what you want. After all beggars can't be choosers, so time is very important and time is money, so even if you have to spend both in the summer, the deal is the internship. So that is more important and wins hands down.

The Recording
That evening was one of my biggest recording assignments on 2 counts so far. One this was my first official recording in the recording room, that too without any of my supervisors or any help reachable that evening. The other big thing, was that I could not afford to screw this up, as two internationally acclaimed people (Greg Beyer on percussion instruments and Erin Lesser, a flutist). They were performing, Due East, and sure was one hell of an experience for me. It was a stunning performance and I enjoyed every minute of the 2 hours I was doing work there. In fact about an hour before the concert, I arrived there and went down to setup and fix the mikes. They were practicing in a empty hall just right in front of me and all I thought were they were just some students performing and even asked them to like move a chair and stuff so that I could fix the mike. As I settled in patching the cords and stuff and since this was a faculty recording assignment, I had to make a Beta copy in addition to the DAT copy I normally do. That day was really cold and by the time I made it back home like 10 PM, I was cold as hell and of course hungry as well. I almost forgot, after the internship fair in the morning, I had gone to my friend's place and he had to get something from a Junkyard, so we drove down there and first time I saw a Junkyard here. Huge, but was told this is one of the smallest ones around, but that was big big enough. Saw the car-crushing device and all cars numbered and smashed and abused. For the first time, do anything to a car here and not be reprimanded for it (haha). It was fricking so cold and windy that day and had no idea it would be so, that it was one of those days where I had a bad time again. Still haven't learnt too much I guess!

So weeks the rolling by and yet another one has almost come to an end. Now I have an official webpage where my school schedule and courses, etc are up. Hosted it on my university server and if interested you can check it here. That is pretty much it, and I have to get back to some serious assignments which have been pending. Have my midterm coming up soon and have to get myself in shape for that. Also just put a file with scanned docs from my work at the telefund here. Just put it to show the kind of money making every week and bonuses.

Friday, February 11, 2005

too many things

A week has passed by after the Jazz Day which has been real tight. The nights this week have been spent in every other way apart from sleeping. Not real good I know, but I can't help it at this point. The courses have been getting intensive and assignments as usual are becoming more common and more importantly harder! Anyway, I have begun to expect it and that's what makes it even worse.

On the workfront, I had a sudden recording assignment which came up on Wednesday. Since I do not have classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I thought that I would have some extra time to sleep on the morning of Wednesday, but it was not to be. I was up like 0730 hrs, and I had to leave home like 0845 hrs. There was a women's chorus happening that day and as usual my supervisor, who by now must have become familiar among you people especially after reading the previous post, emailed some weird mail. So went in there like about 0900 hrs and had to do the mike setup and the patching of the all the cords and the setting up of the soundboard, as I was starting the recording, and the later shifts could just use the initial settings. This was a little different kind of recording, as they were recording directly to CD and hence there was no editing or DAT conversion to be done, which was cool. Now I have actually figured the concept well and is actually simple. Even you can comprehend,

(output) ----------> Mike -------> Mixer ---------> Recorder (CD/DAT)

Baby Cry room

So as you see, the flow diagram is very simple. Just to kill the curiosity if you are wondering what the "Baby Cry room" is all about, well it is another room adjacent to the recording room where if at all there is any crying babies and the like, then the parents or caretaker can be with the baby and still catch up with the performance. That is why from the Mixer there is an output tapped to the Cry room. Was all this necessary? Never mind, just put it up.

Weather suddenly for no reason went back to being cold and of course it sucks big time. Still waiting for better times. In the midst of all this I forgot to mention about the Superbowl. The (New England) Patriots prevailed over the (Philadelphia) Eagles and it sure was a great match to watch. One of the few channels we are getting on our TV, showed it and I caught every single minute of it. Michael Douglas was the first presenter and as usual there were the big honchos, like William Jefferson Clinton and George Walker Bush Sr. Then there was Will Smith and family and of course Sir Paul McCartney who actually performed at Halftime. Of course very well taking care that there was no slip up like last time (remember the Janet Jackson-Justin Timberlake episode, which was ridiculously termed as the wardrobe malfunction!). In fact I believe the songs which he performed were also carefully picked so that it does not create further national embarrassment. Triviality in the face of a good game and I couldn't care less. So sure the game was closely fought and the Patriots won 24-21 in the end to make it their third win in the last four years.

There was something else which happened personally in my (telefund) job. I was surprised when I was named 'Caller of the week' for the last week and this; and had my picture appear on the front page of the weekly newsletter, but more importantly gave me lots of hours as bonus, basically get paid for not working. I wanted to scan it and put it up, so you can see, but could not. Probably shall do so in the next post. Yeah, some thing to cheer about albeit small. I am sure most of you making waves in the corporate industry as well, which counts for much more than any of this. Keep the momentum and don't stem the rut.

Spring break is coming up in a couple of weeks time and will have about 10 days off. Haven't yet decided what to do though. A good break indeed from the rush. All concept of time and day have been merged and there seems to be no order in my life. A cleanliness freak I used to be, but my room is getting more and more crowded and messy with clothes and stuff all over. I try to set it once in a while, but before I can do it, its back to square 1. I just cleaned up my table the other day, threw away lots of paper and other stuff, and every now and then, I have to do it else the house is going to look like shit. Right now the room where I sleep (ya, I still do it sometimes) is all over the place with wires, cables, routers, laptops (all of us in the room have one now) and CDs and DVDs. When we need space, just push everything aside to make space and live. Funny, but still clean in a generic sense.

One of my friends sent one of the most awesome presentations I have seen in a long time and thought those who have not yet seen this, do so. Its basically an insight into how the media in 2014 would be. Plain brilliant, check it here.

Today was my turn to cook and that is getting boring by the day, but have to do it, it is the rule of the crib. Speaking of cooking, I found a resource which tells you exactly how to cut different vegetables and stuff. I mean like how the right and left hand should do the work. Not sure if I need it more than you, but I am most likely to disregard it and do it the way I do, but some of you who appreciate culinary skills way more than me may be interested to check it. Funny that I am even taking about this. I have started eating out a lot and this was one thing I did not want to fall into, but I am doing it shamelessly. Grabbing fast food and washing the buccal cavity with pop has become a bit too common with me as well. There is no dividing line between breakfast, lunch or dinner and more so when they are supposed to exercised.

Have to cook again this saturday, will probably write then about what I made.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Jazz Day and Saturday

I was thinking today morning about going to write today about how contrasting the last two days have been. It fortunately did not turn out to be so and has been a nice two days in terms of the times and the weather as well. Speaking of the weather, you are not going to believe this, but the last two days have been the most wonderful weather I have seen in almost like 2 months. It has been roughly like 8-10 C and that has been awesome. I cannot believe that I am experiencing such good weather, and sure feels like weather back home, of course though may still be colder than normal. Anyway a temperature on the positive side of zero is very well appreciated under any circumstances.

To talk about the last two days, as I had mentioned about the Jazz Day in my last post, I was working in the School of Music for most of Friday. That day was the first, in almost my entire stay away from home to get up like 7 AM. Never seen how that early looks here. I actually did not want to work until the morning, as I would be exceeding my no. of hours working this week. But seeing an email sent out by my supervisor as not enough people were available for work, I had to go. This email is so funny and so warped that I can't help but share that with you...

From : Peter Gerlach (my supervisor)
To : (all people who work as recording men-- LT is me)
Subject : Invasion of the Teenage Hepcats

Message : OK, kids, we need to record in CH, 155, & 171 all at once tomorrow at 0830. To date Jim has signed up for that time slot. If you count, you'll see that we have a total of 3 rooms and 1 Jim. Now, I am not a math major, and for good reason, but if I recollect proper it takes some fairly esoteric cyphering to make 1 equal 3. I had hoped to be available to all in case of emergency, but I guess this qualifies as such. I, however, am, like Brother Moore, singular. For 1+1 to equal 3 requires acts in which I am not prepared to engage with Jim, and which, even if I did, would seem (and again, I'm not a biology major, either) unlikely to give the desired result, he & I each being possessed of a Y chromosome (if you get my drift). In other words, gentle readers, SOMEBODY SAVE MY SORRY ASS AND TAKE THE 3RD 0830 SLOT!!!! Likewise, Jim & Kristen are signed up for the afternoon shift (1410-1450). As LT was there & scratched I assume he's not available, and Chris & I both have class in DuSable until 1350, and I'm too freakin' old to run that far. Ergo, it would be a thing of beauty if Tony or Jared could take that one (come on, Jared, don't you want 1 shift she didn't sign you up for?) Please respond ASAP so as to prevent further anguish on my part. Peter

This was an awesome thing I got, and I had a great laugh about the whole thing. I kinda felt I should help out and after all I get paid for it. So went like 0815 there when the first recording was like 0830 and setup needs like atleast half hour. When I entered the Music building, I spent a while searching for my sup and not too many people around were of help, but when I said I am the recording man here, I was treated differently and suddenly there was a frantic ushering and calls to the place as they were short of manpower. Anyway once I settled in, the first school trooped in and I was all set, soundboard, headphones.. all in place and was ready to start. The group was like about 12 people and one of them was stunning. They kinda played pretty neat with the trombones and the guitars and the drums. The piano was also neat and there were some instruments I may never know the names of. Anyway, I was recording their warmups, their actual Jazz performance and then the critique. The significance of such a day is that High schools do this every year, not like an examination or something, but just to come down to a university and get critiqued by professional musicians and music faculty so that they can improve their performance. Each school goes through a total of about 40 minutes. I did a total of 4 schools and was kinda neat considering all I had to do was press the record/pause/play/rewind buttons on the system when needed after the initial setup and I get paid for it nevertheless. Each group had atleast a couple of 'really nice people'. As I do not have class on Friday, I got done with this like in the afternoon and then I went to work on my other job (the Telefund) till like 9 PM. It sure was a long day but yes, it was interesting.

Today was another first in the sense I had that off campus course (Digital Communication Signal Processing in Telecommunication, ELE 598 in Naperville). This place is like a 40 min drive from here and my friend was driving me down there. The class was at 9 and we had to leave like 8-815. I am not sure why, but I was up as early as 0645, which beat Friday's record of waking up the earliest in all my time here. By the time we left from here it was almost like 835. We had never been there before and made a wrong turn somewhere and hence got to class about 30 min late. Nah, not like it matters. This was the start of a 6 hr class! As class went by, it wasn't as difficult as it seemed and today's material was really simple stuff and I never knew time going by, believe it or not. We had like a couple of breaks as well, and the campus really rocks, as it is like a corporate campus, mainly designed for working people in and around Chicago to come and take classes. The shitty part is that, there are 10 students taking the course and 8 of them come from Dekalb (where I live). So they might as well transfer the course to on campus, but like we make the rules. Anyway time went by and the assignment due is also something I have already done last year when I took Random Signal Processing. Since the class was ok today, so was the day. Its definitely all in the mind.

As usual lots of assignments to catch up on in the next couple of days and of course the Superbowl is tomorrow. Yo!

Thursday, February 03, 2005

going on

I just found a little time to write before another long night starts and of course another hard day. These days I only take a short nap roughly between 2 and 8 PM IST and then rest of the time, I am 'trying' to get some work done. Its been a little rough so far, but feel its worse than the last semester. Anyway, this Saturday, my first offcampus (a place called Naperville, about a 40 min drive from here) starts and that is a 6 hour straight class!! Never had any experience of like that ever before of the same class and that too hard as hell for a full day. This subject is Digital Signal Processing for Telecommunication. The other thing I have done this sem, for good or bad, is that I have registered for an extra class this sem, and that is Control Strategies for Multilink Manipulators (basically a basic robotics course, involving neural networks). I took this class as I want to get done with my course work asap, and then start my thesis too.

In fact as I write, side by side, I am working on my thesis topic report which I have to turn it in like tomorrow. I won't elaborate on the topic and the research too much, as I am sure you would not like to read too much about it, as much as I would not like to write about it. Today was a long long day as well, when I had gone around campus to update my permanent Social Security Number to various places, like the bank and stuff. Tomorrow there is some high school Jazz Band playing, at the School of Music, and they have a lot of shifts lined up. Since I never had classes on Fridays, I signed for quite a few of their shifts from the morning, thinking I can make some money. Was a wrong decision I guess, as I never anticipated the work that would line up this week. Still have my thesis report to be turned in and of course the assignments (all belters in MATLAB) and then the class coming up. So its a tight time. In the meanwhile we had our first IEEE meeting for this sem today and had to sit through even after the free Pizza and pop we always have at the start. I am the assistant secretary of the same in my University so have to be there of course. After all that, today was my cooking turn and I had come home and made 'dal' and as one of my friends has made the most correct observation which I subscribe to this day, with dal you can never go wrong-mix anything, add anything or do anything with dal, it will always come out good, trust me. It always works, and we being experienced a bit in that field now, people who do not cook, this is one of the safest bets

I have been having a great time at the other place where I make a lot of money and have been paid almost double of the time I worked in terms of bonuses and stuff. The other thing I want to say is that, the other day, my friend was saying 'Have you ever wondered that the internet seems to be made for America, I mean, catered to the US?' Until that I never realized how true that could be. Think of it, when was the last time you went to a site and when you had to register, the default country was United States. Or when you goto online sites, the price is default in $$. Isn't it funny, you see a website and it could be from any country, but a website has always an American influence? Its sort of the way the internet itself evolved I guess, and the way things have grown around. Life here is online and I have grown into it as well. I mean from checking the weather, to timezones and from buying stuff and of course email and news, internet is the life here. And when not that, its MATLAB, crazy stuff.

Have been sleeping as I said earlier like 2 AM for the last 15-20 days, not with any real specific reason, but work and some music and stuff. Also, got the entire series of Band of Brothers.

Anyway , I have been writing this on and off for the last 2 hours and now I need to get some serious work done, and tomm and the day after is going to be hectic, will get back probably like Sat night again.

Also, another big big thing happening, the Superbowl this Sunday (the world cup finals of American football). The Patriots and the Eagles square off and I have requested my work off that day to watch it, weird.. huh? Yes, watching in that trash TV of ours and of course, I am still looking for all those DVD/CDs and other electronics people wanted from the trash, will definitely catch hold of a few and ship them to the people who requested, yes, free shipping included.

A quick word, I am currently only burning the movies on DVD, not mush time to see them, funny it may seem, so have seen like 3/50 so far. Too bad, I am missing the fruits of the work, but will catch up soon.