Saturday, February 25, 2012

Laughing at Gidwani

I typed the title of this post and in hindsight it sounds much like a movie of the elite sort. But this is serious.

For years, my dear friend Mohit Gidwani wrote blog posts in this blog. Let me find a link to it, hold on a sec. Oh here it is. Wohoah there's a new entry there! This was unexpected. No well forget that. My point was this: for some years towards the fag end of the blog's life, Gid would often write a "Phoenixy" post once every few months just to give the impression of life. I would scoff and laugh at his pathetic attempts at keeping a blog going while Obscured by Words was going strong after all these years.

However it occurs to me that over the last year or so - that's precisely what I've been doing. Overloaded with work and recklessly poor, I haven't had the motivation or the time to carve out some stone tablets either. In short: this blog isn't really getting anywhere anymore.

I resolved to write more, but really - it is impossible given the number of hours I work every week now. So I've been seriously thinking of putting this blog down and putting a little "Hiatus" tag on it forever.

I don't know whether I should, but if you do have any unresolved (preferably nonsensical) questions, email me and I shall answer them for you in a wise and hearty manner. Other than that, I expect not much more from Obscured by Words in the near future.

Thank you for your time.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Occam's Razor

In Philosophy, Occam's Razor, sometimes expressed in Latin as lex parsimoniae (the law of parsimony, economy or succinctness), is a principle that generally recommends that, from competing hypotheses, selecting the one that makes the fewest new assumptions usually provides the correct one, and that the simplest explanation will be the most plausible until evidence is presented to prove it false. (source:'s_razor)

Silverleaf's trading framework, called occam, is inspired from this principle and stresses on simplicity of architecture emphasizes minimizing "assumptions" (by building as little as possible from scratch), utilizing frameworks and libraries wherever possible.

"nanos gigantium humeris insidentes" (Standing on the shoulders of giants) was famously uttered by Sir Isaac Newton signifying that we can achieve much and see far not by any virtue or sharpness on our part but because we are carried high and raised up by the giants that came before us. So too, we must acknowledge the Boost C++ Libraries as the giants that have made occam possible.

"silver sTrade" proof of concept coding and preliminary systems testing was completed from 19 December 2011 to 6 January 2012. Newly christened "occam", development was begun on 10th January 2012.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Short Term Focus FTW

(Thoughts from a chat conversation last night)

The biggest thing on my mind, at most times, is "Where shall I have lunch?". If today's been done with, then the question oft changes to "Where shall I have lunch tomorrow?" with  a sprinkling of "What's for tea?"

Around me, I see friends getting married and having kids and what not. That always scares me because the only thing I'm still worried about is my next snack.

Now don't get me wrong - I'm all for lunch and lunch breaks and the like. It's a good thing this very clear, razor sharp short term focus. I only bring it up because people  at my workplace (the minion rank and file ones (which includes me), termed "flunks" by the powers-that-be) are wondering who will tempt them with delicious coffee trips and exotic lunches once I'm gone.

I like to believe that once I'm left, they will hang up a little sign on my desk which reads "Missing, presumably fed". You will, right guys?

(Credits to Douglas Adams for the last bit)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

At Right Angles to Reality

This is about stuff from over 4 years ago. In net-terms that's an era ago: almost infinity. To give you an idea: At that time, hardly anyone I knew read XKCD. I had to explain to most what I liked about a comic which is drawn using stick figures. Abstruse Goose had just started and Dresden Codak was still a flitting thought in Aaron Diaz's mind. I had not come across Reddit yet!

Back then, Sandhya and I created a few panels of a webcomic - a take on the people, stereotypes and popular jokes of IIT. I would write these and Sandhya would use the breaks from her EE-DD to draw them. Then I'd colour them and post online. I wrote a total of about 35 panels, but eventually we drew 7 before the project abruptly halted and was relegated to a "hiatus" stage.

Shashi made some valiant efforts to keep this alive by ripping off our work and putting in his own story-lines: 1 2 3 4 - thanks for the effort and please feel free to rip off any others too :)

Anyhows: Here are the original 7 panels. Here's wishing Goodbye to Nerby.

May 11, 2007: Once Upon a Time, in a Galaxy Far, Far Away

May 12, 2007: Strip #2

May 30, 2007: Strip #3

May 30, 2007: Strip #4

May 30, 2007: Strip #5

June 1, 2007: Dead Man's Chest

June 8, 2007: Muthu Returns! Encore!

Goodbye Nerby.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Goodbye Marker-World

Around this time about 3 years ago, Mohit "Giddu" Gidwani and I were prisoners in that Red-walled sought-after prison complex that we eventually grew to know and love, IIM-A. Desperately seeking some distraction from the pressures of academics, we conceptualized "Marker World".

Marker World was meant to be a geeky, hastily drawn together, 4-colour comic. We planned to etch our imagination on whiteboards using nothing but coloured markers and without Photoshop. We outlined various grandiose plot-lines and flatter-than-paper characters.

On October 21, 2008 we drew our first panel, titled "Hello Marker-World". To be accurate, Giddu drew it while I observed from the sidelines (from the comfortable distance of one bean bag, one could term this "backseat drawing").

Alas, we never did get down to drawing any others, and thus this lonely panel stood like a billboard on the highways of the internet, bravely weathering visitors and changing climes. Over time, the hosting service that kept the images went down and none of us noticed - not unlike those wind-demolished Tata Indicom ads on the Expressway.

Today I am shutting down the Marker World website. It was a grand idea that we never really got started upon. In memory of our times at IIM, here is that one panel which we made with much gutso and enthu.

I miss IIM, with all it's buzz and vigour. The depression and the hukkah. The frisbee and floodlights. And Economics.

Goodbye Marker-World.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Spewing Hate

This is about Facebook.

Mainly: I hate it.

There - I said so out loud. May the catharsis begin.

My first reaction to every new Facebook feature is... "How do I opt out?". The ever-raging debate: "To add or not to add family". The most inane and boring things I have ever read proudly displayed as status messages. Photos of everyone from your dog to your grandmother. Gah.

Facebook could have made a really good Addressbook. But then they added some features and blew that chance.

So, my recommendation: Sell all your facebook stock, delete your profile and join the offline bandwagon. But then I'm a cynic. And everyone knows - never take life advice from a cynic.

Over The Last Hill We Fly

Over the last hill we fly.

The shining desert city glitters below
Me, like a jewel a thousand
Pinpricks of Pale Yellow light form
Patterns discernible in the black night.

The sea beyond smells of drunken
Mirth which pays no heed to the
Oppressive norms of society.

How glorious, but this isn't my stop.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

SG 306

"Good evening sir. Welcome to fl-" I switch my brain off. Avoid hearing their artificial welcomes, two facetious smiles and a ripple of Chinese whispers.

I seat myself, buckle in. "Sir may I tell you about..." Yeah yeah bring it on bring it on. Tell me all about the lovely emergency exit. You don't really want to tell me and I definitely do not wish to listen. But unfortunately you have to tell me and I surely must pretend to listen.

Thank you very much.

I'm a row 18 traveller. I know which rows are the back emergency exits with additional legspace (row 18). Which airhostesses are going thru nervous breakdowns (look for the extra puffy eyes) and which damn pilots do not for their lives know how to make a decent announcement (the drunk ones).

I hate being a row 18 traveller.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Is that a Facebook "Like" button? :-O

Hello All.

Yes the all-pervasive "Like" button has invaded this blog too. I know, I had vowed to stay away from the Facebook AppPlatform and all the evil that it stands for. Unfortunately, Network Effects have willed me to swallow my pride and add the damn button already.

This brings me to a question of netiquette, or rather facebooketiquete: Is it acceptable for one to "Like" one's own blog postings? Anyone?

Cheerio! :-)

PS: For those looking to add the "Like" button to their own blogs, this is the easiest source I could find:

Friday, April 01, 2011

Banksy: Wall and Piece

He's a fly by night operator - draws his hood over his dyed hair, he walks into the dead of the night to arrive the scene of the crime. On foot, always on foot. He takes mere minutes to unbundle his cans of paints and specially prepared stencils.

That bizarre photo of a carefully shaded girl child holding a balloon which forms a crayoned "NO FUTURE" over by the bridge street corner was him. That defaced thousand dollar billboard with a wolf-like mouse molesting a famous celebrity was him. His trademark signature drips down, akin to a the Joker leaving a calling card behind a robbed bank.

Banksy is a British graffiti artist and political activist. Known for his contempt of government, Banksy displays his art on public surfaces and is known to even build prop pieces. Lately his every occurrence is labelled as high art and cordoned off, preserved and auctioned off for tons of money, none of which actually goes to him.

His work is vandalism. For ever anti-War depiction of children suffering, he could be put behind bars for 2 years. For every anti-authoritarian slogan written out in 7-foot high capital letters, he could be fined more than he has earned in his lifetime.

There's no light around him. He works in the dark. Banksy steps back and looks at his half complete shade of a starving little boy toting a machine gun, wondering what it'll actually look like in the daylight. He hears sirens in the distance and quietly trots off leaving his precious hour's effort still unrefined. Such is life.

Some of my favourite Baknsky works are shown in the above pictures. Check out for more stunning displays of his art.