Shifting to Wordpress

I just thought today that I'd shift my blog to Wordpress. I feel that there is a lot more scope for customization in wordpress, than in livejournal. The link to my new blog is (the name is so, because the 'A' in my name really expands to 'Athrasseri', though I've been using my father's name for simplicity).

I have been fiddling around with wordpress since today morning. Still some customization to be done, but I'll leave it for later! I have exported all my previous entries (without their comments) to my new blog.

"The Pianist"

I've brought with me from college six DVD's full of movies in avi format, and am watching them one by one. I saw The Pianist a couple of days ago. It's an excellent film, based on the true story of the Polish pianist Władysław Szpilman, a Jew, who lost his family in the horror of the Holocaust. But he miraculously survived and went on to live till he was 88. He died recently, in the year 2000. He was helped by a German officer called Wilm Hosenfeld.

There are numerous scenes which touch your heart. I was particularly touched by the scene in which the hiding Szpilman is found by Hosenfeld. The officer enquires about his identity, and he says that he is a pianist. The officer takes him to a room with a piano, and asks him to play it. Then Szpilman, who had been hiding in terror, not having eaten for days, plays the Ballade no.1 in G minor, and the officer is touched. From that moment onwards, the officer develops a deep respect for Szpilman, and brings food regularly to his hiding place, till the end of the war.

The movie is based on the book The Pianist: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man’s Survival in Warsaw, 1939–1945 by Władysław Szpilman. Got to read the book sometime.

Ekiga - simply wonderful

Today I talked to my uncle and family in Los Angeles, using Ekiga. I told them to install Ekiga for windows, and get an SIP account. I was able to make a call successfully at the first attempt itself. I didn't expect it to work so well, to be honest! We used Ekiga for the FOSSMeet video conference with Paul Frields, but we had to meddle around with it for a couple of days before it worked perfectly.

"Be Silent, Consume, Die"

I came across this website about Alternative Education, on Aanjhan's blog. I was quite impressed, and joined the mailing list, which is very active. It comprises of mainly parents who are disgusted with schools, and are looking for alternative ways for educating their children.

Recently there was a very good thread (it's still going on), about consumerism and the state of our world. The mailing list is a Yahoo group and unfortunately it doesn't seem to support viewing as a thread. Anyway, here is the link- Be Silent, Consume, Die.

A Decade of "Harmony through Music"

Harmony School of Music, where I have been learning music since I was ten years old, celebrated its tenth anniversary yesterday. The main programme was the felicitation of Sri.M.K. Arjunan master, the renowned music director. Actually the celebrations had started three days earlier. A music and drawing competition for children was held during the first two days, and over 200 children, from various institutions participated. The third day was the traditional style anniversary, with the students' performances. And yesterday's was the valedictory function, along with an orchestra comprising selected songs by 25 different music directors.

I have many fond memories of Harmony. Since I'm now at Kozhikode, unfortunately I can't visit regularly, but I do go there whenever I get time. Jimmy master, director of Harmony, and my piano teacher, my guru, my friend- is a man of great character. I'm not eligible to describe his qualities, but he is perhaps the best person I have known in my life. I have been unbelievably lucky to have been his student for the last nine and a half years. I am what I am today, mainly due to the influence of the experiences I've had at Harmony.

I received my education - in every sense of the word- there. At school, you just learn to mug up some facts so as to write some stupid examinations. But at Harmony, you learn a lot of things. You learn to be punctual, to be regular, to work in a group, to be humble and to have compassion for your fellow beings, along with music. It's a holistic process. That's why the vision of Harmony School of Music is "Harmony through Music" - to be at harmony with everything around you. It is Jimmy master's belief (and mine too) that music is a divine gift, and it's not just for entertainment. Those who are learning music should pursue it with devotion and love, so as to experience the higher spiritual ecstasy which music has to offer.

Anyway, for the moment, I'm extremely happy that I was able to be a part of this anniversary which marked a milestone in Harmony's history.

Back Home!


Fourth sem is over at last! It's been quite a semester. The heaviest so far. And boy, am I glad it's over!

I reached home around half past midnight yesterday (or today, whichever you prefer!). After the exam, which got over at 12.30 pm yesterday, I went to Kozhikode with my friends, for a treat by five friends whose birthdays fall in the vacation. Febin had this "great" idea of keeping our luggage in the cloak room at the railway station before going for the treat, and spending the night in the waiting room, to catch the early morning train. When we reached the station and found the cloak room, we found that it was nothing more than a shabby little room where you can keep your luggage only if it is locked (no liability), and that too for Rs.10/package/24hrs. To add to the misery, you had to go through a wet corridor which smelt of rotten fish, to get to the cloak room. So AKP, Sabu and I decided to leave immediately after the treat, by bus.

Gokul, who had his aunt's house nearby, went and kept his luggage there-he had booked his ticket- while the rest of us decided to carry it around with us. Then we went to the beach and spent a relaxed couple of hours there, watched the sunset, and reached Mezban, on time for the treat. We had a great time. After the treat, AKP and I got a KSRTC super fast bus, and reached Thrissur at midnight. Achan came to pick me up from the stand- I disturbed his sleep!

Anyway, three months of vacation in front of me, and lots of stuff to be done!

My first Vishu away from home!

Yesterday was Vishu, and because of the end-semester exam that begins tomorrow, I decided not to go home. And that meant it was my first Vishu away from home (Last year, the end-sem ended a couple of days before Vishu). Most of my friends stayed back, so we decided to celebrate Vishu here. We kept the Vishukkani, and got up at 4'o clock in the morning to see the kani. Six of us- Gokul, Arun (AKP), Aditya, Gobind, Febin and myself spent the night in Gokul's (and Febin's) room so that it would be easy to wake up and see the kani. Then we went back to sleep, and woke up at 7.30 to go to the temple. Though I couldn't go home for Vishu, it was great to celebrate it with my friends, that too in the traditional way!

Trip to Tirunelli

I was at Tirunelli, in Wayanad, for the last couple of days. I went there with my father and two uncles. It's a beautiful place, with nothing except a temple and a guest house, nestled deep inside the forests of the Western Ghats. It has mountains on all four sides -  Brahmagiri to the North, Udayagiri to the East, Kari mala to the West and Narinirangimala to the South.

It was my first drive in the Ghat section (9 hairpin bends) sitting behind the wheel! It was a fantastic experience. Tirunelli is 125 km away from my college. The best part of the drive, apart from the Ghat section is the portion from Mananthavady to Tirunelli, 31 kms entirely through the forest.

The temple is supposed to be nearly a thousand years old, and is set in a scenic landscape, with the Brahmagiri in the background. A fascinating feature of the temple is an aqueduct built by an ancient ruler, leading down from the mountain and into the temple. It is supported by granite pillars a couple of metres tall. It brings water to the temple even today!

Then there is the Papanashini river - a rivulet, rather, where the rites are performed. It's right inside the forest, and a five minute walk from the temple. There was not much water, owing to the beginning of summer, but still there was enough to bathe in.

It was a great trip, and I'd like to go back there sometime. I was so captivated by the beauty of Brahmagiri, that I'd like to go trekking there. I see that there is a trail to the top, but it's the core area, and you need permission from the forest department to go there. Someday...

FOSSMeet Report

No one except  Manu Krishnan seems to have written any reports of FOSSMeet@NITC 2008, which concluded yesterday. Well, I'm sure we'll have more feedback from those who attended the event, in a couple of days. Meanwhile, I thought I'd write.

The event started off (on Friday evening) with a conventional inaugural ceremony. Since we couldn't get anyone else, we had to make the Director of National Chemical Laboratory, Pune- who had come to take part in a conference on polymers at that time- the chief guest. I wasn't there for his talk, but heard that he talked well about free software (whew! narrow escape!).

After the inauguration, there were a couple of talks which went on till 10.30. The first one was on Octave and Maxima, by R.Deepak, Lecturer in ECE, NITC, and the other was on Blogging, by Kiruba Shankar.

I don't know much about what went on in the main conference over the next two days, because I was volunteering at the lab where the workshop for school children, FOSS@School, was going on, led by Pramode. Those who missed any talks, don't worry! We've got all the talks recorded, and will be putting them up on the FOSSMeet website soon!

Now, about FOSS@School. For me, it was the single biggest PLUS about this year's FOSSMeet. (Especially when you consider the number of talks that had fewer than 10 listeners...) Around 42 motivated and energetic students, of 8th, 9th and 10th standard, took part in the workshop. 35 of them came from various parts of Malappuram, led by Seena teacher of Tharakan High School, Angadippuram, who took a lot of trouble to bring the children to NITC. She was accompanied by a few other motivated teachers as well.

The children truly enjoyed the workshop, in which they were mainly introduced to basic programing in python, through Adventures with Neko. They picked up concepts like defining functions and writing loops very easily through this approach. On Sunday, Joseph and company, from Jyothi Engg, College, Thrissur, came with the line following robot they had made, and demonstrated how it worked, to the kids. They were also given a brief introduction to PHOENIX. You'll be able to read more about the workshop on Pramode's blog shortly.

Besides this, on Sunday, there was a session of discussion for school teachers, led by Ani Peter and Praveen of SMC. They should be writing about it soon...

That's it about this year's FOSSMeet. I'll add more if something strikes me...


Ragam 08 is going on at NITC. In fact, today is the last day. Yesterday there was a pro-show in our open air theatre by the Tamil singer Karthik . It was great and everyone enjoyed it thoroughly. Today's programme is a rock show by a band who calle themselves "White Noiz". I didn't go, I can hear them from where I'm sitting, in the computer centre. Anyway, they do justice to their name- they are producing a lot of "white noise"...

This sure is going to be a busy week... Two lab exams coming up, and then FOSSMeet@NITC on April 4-6.