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Fri, Feb 15 2002

I'm home after a couple of hectic days - went to Kurunegala on a quick visit day before yesterday and got back yesterday morning and almost immediately started work <g> No, it's not computer work but rather television work - I don't know whether I'll be going back to producing programs but I've already started reviewing stuff that others have done. I guess it's going to turn out to be pretty interesting since I'm already involved in a variety of projects after just one day at work - guess that's the advantage (or disadvantage) to going back to a place you'd worked at before :p

I saw something yesterday which has been going through my mind quite a bit but before I get into it, I should (I guess) put in a word of caution - I don't believe that there are many (if any <vbg>) Sri Lankan readers of these pages and so some of my rants might not make much sense due to the fact that you don't know the people I'm talking about or the cultural scenario. I'll try to sketch out these things if I do remember but can't always remember that I will remember since these are basically my thoughts jotted down whenever I feel like it :p But on to what I started to say ... Yesterday was Valentines day (as you probably know :p) but it isn't something that has been widely celebrated in Sri Lanka till about six or seven years ago. People (or should I call it organizations/businesses? <g>) started picking up on the cash potential of Valentines day over the last few years and at the time I left the country, it was still not that big a deal but the prices of roses would shoot upto around Rs. 200 (or even as high as Rs. 400-500) per rose on that day. I came back to find that it's become a much more widely hyped event - everybody has gone Valentine crazy and businesses offer Valentines promotions, radio stations and cellular networks have Valentines promotions etc. Basically, it has become an overly hyped and overly commercialized event like quite a few other holidays (even though it technically is not a holiday :p)

So much for the background <g> When I came to Sri Lanka this time, I realized that there was an anti-Valentine group that was protesting the fact that the highly hyped celebrations of Valentines day in Sri Lanka is utterly crass commercialism and that it is basically against the culture of of Sri Lanka. Yesterday, I saw a pro-Valentines rally which was composed almost entirely of young people (of course :p) who were protesting the fact that they had a right to celebrate Valentines - and even more so, the right to a free choice as to what they could do. Now to be honest, I have mixed feeling on the issue - in fact, I had a raging argument with myself when I saw the rally since on one hand, I believe utterly in individual choice (and the freedom for individuals to make their own choices ...) I found the rally itself to be slightly comical and in extreme bad taste. Sri Lanka is a nation with many problems - the biggest of which is a multiple-decade spanning civil war which has crippled its economy and has brought all progress to a stand-still. At the moment we are enjoying a brief respite brought about by a ceasefire agreement that many hope will turn into a full blown peace initiative. Under such circumstances, I find this rallying for (or even against ...) Valentines day to be almost a petty action.

But on the other hand, is it right to put any conscientious objections aside at any time just because we think the timing isn't right? Doesn't that by extension mean that it might be construed to be all right to be silent in the face of injustice just because we thought the timing wasn't right? I am not sure ... there are many facets to this problem and I would like to write about it at length but unfortunately, I don't have the time since I have to get ready for work :-( So till the next time ...
posted at 06:17:06 AM  link  comment

Tue, Feb 12 2002

I have suddenly received several inquiries as to how to set up a PHP comments system with Blog - probably due to the fact that the URL I link to from my FAQ for a comments system done by Tyran Ormond is no longer working. I have modified the FAQ to point to a new zip archive that I have put up with the scripts that I use myself and some Blog specific instructions on how to set up the scripts. I have also included the original documentation for the scripts though it seems to be out of sync with the scripts themselves in certain places <g> Anyway, check the FAQ section on the Blog page for more information if you are trying to set up a PHP based comment system ...
posted at 09:15:17 AM  link  comment

Mon, Feb 11 2002

There's been no updates from me in a long time and so I decided it was time to change the trend :p The reasons for my silence are many but the main one is that I've been away from Colombo since the middle of last week and had no Net access all that time. I did get back yesterday and thought of doing an update but was too busy catching up on all the missed e-mails and sorting out all sorts of other stuff. Finally, I have time for a nice long update on what I've been doing, how things are going so far and my plans for coding etc.

First, the consensus about life in Sri Lanka after about a week - it's basically a lot of good and bad <vbg> Does that make it fifty-fifty? I'm not sure since I feel that it is mostly good even though it might not seem so to somebody from outside :p For instance, one of the worst things about being here is that Internet access is prohibitively expensive due to the fact that local calls aren't free (unlike the US) and so I can't remain online for too long. This would count as a major minus but then again, staying offline probably gives me more time to do other stuff :p The good: some of the best cellular facilities (and phones) in the whole of Asia - if not the whole of the world. The bad? You have to pay for each facility (like WAP, GPRS, SMS etc ...) and so the costs mount up. The good: you can get almost any software on every street corner <vbg> The bad? Nothing I can think of :p The bad: power cuts every day due to lack of rain. The good? Nothing I can think of :p

A really funny thing happened soon after I got over to Sri Lanka. I wanted to buy a multi-region DVD player since I had quite a few US DVD's but was sure I wouldn't get US DVD's once I got here. I enquired at the duty free shop at the airport and was told by the Sony authorized agent no less that their DVD player played discs from all regions. I was kind of nonplussed since I didn't believe that Sony made multi-region DVD players since that basically defeats the whole purpose of having region specific DVD's. The guy at the shop was insistent however and so I bought the player since I was told I could return it if it didn't work the way I wanted it to. I take it home, set it up and put in a US DVD and sure enough the message pops up saying that I couldn't play it due to region restrictions! I took the player back to the Sony agent's workshop and was told to take it to their service center. I did so and was asked what the problem was, told them and was told it was a minor adjustment. They took the player in, did some stuff and returned it to me. I didn't have a US DVD disc with me and so I took the player home and what do you know? It now worked with US discs! I am surprised that the Sony agents themselves would do this but since I now have a Sony DVD player which plays discs from any region, I'm not complaining :p

I also had some problems with the game consoles I'd brought over with me. I had bought a multi-system TV at the duty free shop as well since I knew the consoles all had NTSC output whereas the TV signals in Sri Lanka are in PAL. The TV worked fine but all the consoles needed 110V power whereas they only have 240V in Sri Lanka! I'd brought along a few converters for just this purpose but I hadn't read the instructions properly on them and realized only when I tried to use them that the converters could not be used with electronic items! I went out and got a step-down transformer, hooked the consoles up to that and the tried them and voila! It worked fine :-) At least it seems to work fine but since there are so many power cuts and I'm not at home much, I really haven't had much time to play games. Oh well ...

What about coding and the promised releases of my apps? Well, so far I haven't spent a day at home - either I'm not in Colombo at all but don't have access to my computer since I had to leave it behind or I'm in Colombo but am out getting stuff done or searching for work. I do want to get to work on some code but I fear that it'll be some time before I actually do so - especially since there are power cuts at night and batteries can run only for so long. So, while I do not intend to stop working on any of my apps, I fear that I won't get to work on any of them soon either :-(
posted at 08:45:03 PM  link  comment

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