Thoughts on Rails

Riding the Train of Thought

Archive for July 2006

Bats! Rats! Congrats!

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Bats! Rats! Congrats!
Funny title there… and a not so lovely photograph – but hey! When in the last three years did you and I see such a photograph in my collection?

Not once!

That was because I was using a point-and-shoot Nikon coolpix 2000 camera all these days. Yes, all those silly photos and some beautiful landscapes were from that little 2MP camera.

So what has changed? Triple the number of pixels and a manyfold increase in versatility that has been added to my arsenal – a Nikon D50 digital SLR camera!

What does it really mean? Simply speaking, better pictures. Better – technically. Such as this one of a flying bat captured at midnight. A lot of creative experiments are now possible too! Just hang on till I get the working of the camera in my head. Once it starts feeling natural, the quality of photos is bound to go up.

What next? I’m now in a position to save up more $$ than before – simple – I’ll be able to earn more! And so, the next plan is to add a Nikon D200 to the weaponry in the coming 6 months. Hopefully the plans should materialize as per schedule.

I’ll now go grab a few more photos, while you can think of some ‘doable’ experiment/assignment that is both fun and challenging – so that we can test the camera’s abilities and limits… do let me know if you have been trying something on a simpler camera but was not possible due to it’s limitations – I’d like to try and teach my camera some tricks! hehe :-D

Congratulations to Nikon – for making another photographer happy – really happy, for spending that precious money on something worth it!

Written by hiway

July 30, 2006 at 1:11 am

Posted in news, photography

Another Python Post

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Congrats to python! As i type this, a program is being written. Once i finish writing it, i will save the file, open it up in the mobile phone’s file browser and select to install it as a Python script. Then exit the browser and fire up the Python runtime environment. Select to run a script and execute this program. It will connect to wordpress via xmlrpc and post this as a clog entry.

I find this exciting!

Tools used: python for series 60, easyedit, wordpresslib, few extra libraries from python 2.4 installation on my desktop, that were transferred to the mobile.

Now I need to write a gui frontend to this script soon…

Written by hiway

July 19, 2006 at 5:19 pm

Posted in computers, python, software

Python Post

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If you see this, posting to wordpress from Python works really easily ;)

Written by hiway

July 19, 2006 at 4:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Adobe Lightroom beta for Windows

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Great news for all the people holding their breath for the much anticipated Adobe Lightroom- the Windows Beta release is out!

They even have a package with sample images and other stuff ;) Goodies! Though I doubt I am going to download 100+ MB on a dial-up! Heh, I am writing this as I am downloading the 7MB “only software” package.

Hope it woks well!


Written by hiway

July 19, 2006 at 12:26 pm

Monsoon Wanderlust

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No doubt, the monsoon is here… and the atmosphere is filled with a fresh fragrance of wet earth and leaves. It’s a time to gather up buddies and go on a long tour or trek. And don’t we love to test out limits while climbing challenging mountains, crossing fast paced rivers and streams? Gruelling yet enjoyable!

I love to spend my time in Panchgani and Mahableshwar… close enough to home (6 hour journey) and far enough to forget everything else! Yet, every time I visit these beautiful places, I feel saddened by the constant deterioration of the landscapes and picnic spots – thanks to tourists!

I appreciate an article in “Yuva Sakal” (18 Jul 2006) that mentions a few points to remember when trekking… I am translating from Marathi, and adding a few points that can relate to general travelling.

  • While travelling in rainy season, preferably carry lightweight luggage.
  • Remember to wear strong shoes with a good grip. Sandals and chappals may cause trouble on slippery surfaces.
  • When crossing rivers and streams, make use of “human chain”. Hold each other’s hands to gain balance and support in strong currents.
  • Do not defer from a known route. It may be temping to take a more difficult route, but refrain from it as long as possible. Also, stay away from cliff edges.
  • Always carry necessary first aid and also carry extra stock of any prescribed medicines. Carry your own drinking water, even if it is available naturally and freely, just keep a backup.
  • Leeches are common near ponds, if they stick to you skin, apply tobacco or limestone on the spot. (That means, you might want to carry some of that too.)
  • While roaming around, do not kill any animals or insects, large or small… they are an important part of the ecosystem. We are the guests, not owners – always remember that.
  • If you are about to take a challenging route, inform the local people about it. You might want to chat with the tea vendor or the shopkeeper on the way… in case you are lost, these people are your backup when search and rescue begins.
  • Take care that you do not disturb the ecosystem. Do not light fire for cooking and leave it unattended. If you have to leave, make sure the fire is completely extinguished and that flammable objects are not lying nearby.
  • Do not throw away any plastic bags or bottles. Bring them back and dispose them in garbage bins; even little things like chocolate wrappers.
  • If you cannot live without beer and alcohol, at least do not leave the bottles behind. It is disgusting to see broken glass lying all around… and dangerous for other travellers.
  • Just once again, you are not the owner of nature… when you go out into the wild… you are a guest. Behave like one.

That’s all for now! Enjoy the monsoons and make sure you don’t hurt mother nature!

Written by hiway

July 18, 2006 at 7:04 pm

Posted in adventure, travel

What makes you a photographer?

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Souls... Convincing yourself to become a lifelong student of photography is not an easy affair. Certainly, it is not for everyone to become a photographer by profession – then how does one decide if this line of work is the right choice? And once the decision is taken, the real work begins – being a photographer.

How does one “be” a photographer then? Is it through meticulously following a routine of taking at least a few photographs in a day, or is it through reading a pile of photographic magazines every week, or is it through getting that first assignment and keeping them coming? What else? Self propaganda at every social meet? Gifting photo frames with your photos? What makes you a real photographer?

As I meet new people, I tend to tell them that I’m a photographer… and there’s my handy little camera sitting right next to me to just prove the point. Some ask to see my work, depending on the situation and time, I take out my mobile phone from the pocket and run a slideshow of a few photos – the results are mostly very positive. Yet I sometimes wonder if all that is overkill!

Seriously, though I practice photography regularly… as a hobby and as scientific experimentation (yes). Though I try to keep myself updated about the latest happenings in the world of photography… I deeply feel there’s more to it. I’m looking for the answers…

p.s. The photo is of Amit, my cousin and myself… or rather, our shadows… something about the photo always puts me into the world of introspection. Hence it’s name – “souls”.

Written by hiway

July 16, 2006 at 7:24 pm

Posted in photography

Tea – Keeping India Together.

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Tea – Keeping India Together.

A lot happens over a cup of tea. People exchange their everyday concerns; the weekly dose of gossip; make new friends; take matrimonial decisions; share the weather report and the hot news; argue; flirt; make the final adjustments to that important report… write blogs ;)

Tea is the company to a solitary soul and a silent listener to many-a-conversation. It gives a refreshing warmth as well as a comforting reassurance… “life isn’t as bad as it looks”, when things are going wrong. Tea is also the common man’s way of celebrating life’s little victories.

When two travellers, complete strangers get stuck in their way and meet, more often than not, one of them will ask “chai lenge?”

Visitors are often asked “Chai?” (“Tea?”)… be it rain or shine. Though people say “no”, it is assumed that they will enjoy a couple of sips with their host.

Even the corrupt officials love tea… especially because it gives them an excuse to walk away from the desk for other business.

“Chalo, chai lekar aate hain” is a common way of letting a person know “we need to talk…”

But apart from these few negative connections, tea emerges as the single most strong glue that binds India together. Yes, that’s what tea does – it keeps India together!

Written by hiway

July 15, 2006 at 1:31 pm

Posted in rant

New Stuff…

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Evening RideToday, me and Amit went on a pleasant evening ride. Came back with a photo of the modified motorcycle handle, and a few more. Tested my new toy – Nokia 6680 for its photographic capabilities – and sadly, due to my aquaintance with better cameras, it miserably failed :( Well, can’t really help it! I dont feel like uploading photos from the 6680′s camera here. Someday, if I get an exceptional photo, I might think again. Anyway, a review from me is coming soon. I seem to really like the phone except for it’s silly camera!

About my plans for Nikon D50, it waits another fortnight… because I spent some decent amount on this smart phone. I don’t feel very smart now. But well… this is a nice handy tool to show a prospective client a slideshow – about anywhere. and it helps me keep myself running on time – which I usually miss, because I simply forget other things while riding on the train of thought… (that’s how this blog got it’s name – thoughts on rails)

Work stuff: I am working on a project that requires surveys – both in online and paper based format, the results of both will be later collected for further processing. So the idea is to create a software that can store a questionnaire/survey in an open format (think: XML) and convert it to online form (think: XHTML + CSS2 + PHP + XML) and also in printable form (think: XHTML + CSS2)

Later, I need to write a small translation software to convert these responses (in XML) to whatever format the client requires. I am working on the prototype using Python, Qt4 GPL and PyQt4 GPL. Ah, that means good news! The software will be open sourced… but not until I can at least make it do the expected work! If you really really need to satisfy the urge to peek at the code, mail me at harshad dot sharma [at] gmail dot com. At the time of writing, it is in alpha stage… hardly anything works, but pieces are taking shape.
The whole project consists of four modules:

  1. Survey XML Generator
    Creates an XML file, which gives the complete document structure, sections, questions and possible responses for each question.
  2. Survey Creator
    Generates XHTML/HTML and PHP from the given XML data.

    1. Simpe XHTML, for generating printable survey (CSS will be hand-coded)
    2. XHTML/PHP, for creating online surveys and mailing the responses back.
  3. Online Survey
    Takes responses from users and mails them as XML files to a predefined email address, also stores a copy on the server. As for the paper based surveys, we expect to have a bunch of people to sit and feed the gathered data into the online form at the end of the day.
  4. Response Translator
    Translates XML to database/spreadsheet format, as required by the client.

Now you know what’s keeping me busy ; Not just that, a website design to go along with the whole survey work… yes that and my own website :) Thankfully I don’t have a girlfriend to add to the list ;)

Anyway, I guess I will go grab a nap… somewhere in the scale of 9 to 10 in the following Python program

amount_of_sleep = {
2:”a little”,
4:”considerable amount of”,
5:”seriously long”,
6:”more than average”,
7:”slight overdose of”,
8:”a lot of”,
9:”hell lot of”,
10:”insanely crazy long”}

for x in range(1,10):
print “I need %s sleep.” % amount_of_sleep[x]

P.S. I just turned back to be greeted with a very friendly bed!!! Oh and here comes a photo from the Nokia 6680 ;)

My Welcoming Bed!


Written by hiway

July 11, 2006 at 1:36 am

Major Backup!

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We all hear about major hardware failure, thought I’d change the story a bit… finally got a DVD Writer and a few DVD-Rs, backed up all my photographs on 3 DVDs. From a 2 mega-pixel camera… 14 thousand files – 10 Gigabytes of images! And loads of other stuff still to go…

I wonder how much bits I’m going to generate once I lay my hands on the dSLRs ;) Maybe a DVD every week :P heh heh heh

Anyway, it’s good to know that is a software/hardware issue threatens my photographs today – it’s not going to hurt me as much. Though an earthquake could do a lot of harm! (Still need to make two copies of the 3-DVD set and send to friends across the country)

Is backup THIS serious? Yes. I once lost 3 months worth photographs – because I forgot to copy them over during the final backup before a format-reinstall!!! And… I got most them back, because I had sent a CD to a cousin, that included the best photos from those 3 months. Unintentional, but useful backup.

Moral of the story: send gift CDs to your relatives :) If I send say, 100 photos of 800×600 quality (because I’m paranoid and afraid that someone will grab the CD and sell my original photos)… so where was I? Yes, if I send 100 such “gift” photos, I also send an encrypted file containing the same 100 original files. They can access the low-res for their enjoyment… if need be, I can recover the originals. Not a bad deal is it?

Anyway, I’m tired – been awake since 02:00… it’s been a very busy day. I submitted the broadband request form to BSNL today, hopefully I should have it in 1 month (waiting list, they say). Anyway, now its 21:36… I’m sleepy.

temp = “!dlroW thgiN dooG”
temp2 = “”

for x in range(1,len(temp)+1):
    temp2 += temp[len(temp)-x]
print temp2

Written by hiway

July 6, 2006 at 9:50 pm

Posted in computers, rant

Let the photoblog live again!

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Yellow Hibiscus

Originally uploaded by Harshad Sharma (हर्षद शर्मा).

Integration with flickr is complete. The template has been decided upon (for the while, at least). And I’m now going offline for the day.

Yes, I still use dialup, and I love it ;)

Might get broadband soon, I’m actually supposed to submit the form in BSNL’s office today… looking forward to the day when I will be ‘always on’.

Written by hiway

July 6, 2006 at 7:53 am

Posted in Uncategorized


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