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Archive for December 2008

Nutmeggers

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A nutmegger is a nickname given to the residents of the State of Connecticut. According to this Wikipedia article, Connecticut was known as the nutmeg state before it was dubbed as the Constitution State in 1958. I came across this name while playing Trivial Pursuit with my friends. I actually love the name because it is so much easier to say frickin nutmeggers as opposed to frickin Connecticut drivers. I know it might sound harsh but those of you who have lived in Connecticut for any part of your life would know what I am referring to.

You actually do not need to live in Connecticut at all. If you have ever driven through the Merritt Parkway, you will see all the symptoms of a Nutmegger. One of the distinguishing quality of a nutmegger is randomly hitting on the brakes for very little or no reason. While nutmeggers are not afraid to put the pedal to the metal, a drop of rain on the windshield could bring down their speed considerably while people from other states would just turn on their wipers and slow down just a tad. The other thing that distinguishes nutmeggers is the sense of entitlement of the left lane irrespective of their speed on the highway. In fact, some nutmeggers love to drive at the same speed as the person on the right lane but feel that it is much better idea to block all the people behind them rather than them moving over to the right lane.

Among nutmeggers, there is a completely new breed that is the Fairfield County nutmegger. These are a sub class of a nutmegger who illustrate all the above qualities with greater consistency along with some more specif characters. Fairfield County nutmeggers are known for their complete lack of concern about others on the road illustrated by the fact that they have no problems turning on their brights and keeping them on even when there is oncoming traffic. The best symptom on a Fairfield County nutmegger that does not relate to driving though, is the fact that an inch of snow predicted gets the entire town into the local grocery store preparing for, what in their heads is, a disaster of huge proportions.

So there it is. I have been meaning to vent about this for a while but if it wasn’t for the discover of the word nutmegger, I would not have been able to come up with this post.

Written by tundal45

December 25, 2008 at 12:37 am

What books should I be reading?

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The owner of the Commercial Complex where my office is gave us a $100 coupon that can be used ONCE and one of the retailers within the campus. The only retailer that is attractive to me is an used book shop. It works out because I have been wanting to read some more books.

Of the books I have read so far, I really liked Shantaram, The Catcher in the Rye, and Ishmael, to name a few. What I like out of my reading experience is not just to be engaged in the book while I read it but growing from the reading experience intellectually, spiritually and emotionally.

So far I have come up with a list by going to Amazon and looking at other books people bought in addition to one of the books listed above. I asked for recommendations through Twitter, which also updates my facebook status and so far have only received recommendations on facebook (C’mon Twitter friends!). The books I have so far are listed below:

I am sure that I might be missing a lot of good books. While the $100 is a limiting factor for now, I would love to hear from anyone who stumbled upon this post. I promise to post on my experience on books I read as well. I hope to hear from everyone.

Written by tundal45

December 23, 2008 at 6:30 pm

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What’s wrong with American Cars?

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If you talk to Daniel Snow, you will find that there is nothing wrong with them. Snow is an Assistant Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and has experience working for one of the Big 3 Companies (as stated in his article). He believes that American cars “are among the best in the world” and plans to buy a Chevy Cobalt SS when he is in the market for his next car.

I came across his article through this post. I was looking for some reading material while I ate my breakfast, and considering the amount of talk that is going on this topic, I decided to look into it. Besides, I have been paying attention to these events over the past few weeks. Most of the stuff I read is rarely sympathetic to the Big 3. I personally love Japanese cars, I always have. The reliability and fuel economy is amazing. They are just made to last. Since I was already biased, I thought an article “in defense of American Cars” would help me get a balanced perspective. So I decided to read on.

However, I soon realized that the arguments put forth were rather weak. In his article, Snow talks about how “GM, for instance, offers 20 models that get 30 miles per gallon–a statistic that puts them in good company with the likes of Toyota and Honda.” At first, that looks great. And don’t get me wrong, GM is definitely headed in the right direction with a statistic like that. However, without telling us how many total models GM manufactures out of which 20 are hybrid, the number in itself does not hold much value. I think it would be better if snow were to give us a percentage so we can better understand the impact of GM’s efforts.

Snow further adds that GM offers “nine hybrid models, more than any other company.” The problem here is the same. Without putting the number 9 in context of the total number of models, this statistic does not add value to the argument.

To illustrate how the Big 3 is learning from its past mistakes, Snow informs us that “a person who replaces her big Chevrolet Tahoe SUV with a Tahoe Hybrid saves more gasoline than one who trades in a Toyota Corolla for a Prius.” That’s great for those people but the bump in fuel economy is something that will obviously favor a brand that was not known for its fuel economy. Corollas have always been fuel efficient cars. They are definitely more fuel efficient now than they used to be but they were never horrible in terms of fuel economy. Tahoes on the other hand were huge gas guzzlers that was initially designed and manufactured with power in mind. So it is obvious that by introducing hybrid models, the fuel economy will increase dramatically. Again, I would like to re-iterate that Chevy deserves the props to be headed in the right direction. But the fact that the presentation of these arguments attempts to hint that the cars manufactured by American manufacturers are better than the foreign vehicles is where the problem lies.

In my personal opinion, not all American cars are bad. There are brands that are manufactured by the Big 3 that are profitable and, dare I say, somewhat reliable. The problem is that they have too many brands floating around. GM is the one with the most brands. Do we really need all these brands? Wouldn’t it be much better to focus on the brands that are profitable and then get rid of brands that are not doing so well. Once these manufacturers go lean, they can really work on competing with the foreign counterparts at every level from safety, fuel economy to great designs and reliability. They also need to figure out how to cut production costs and figure out a better deal with the members of UAW.

If the Big 3 decide to continue with their modus operandi, it is clear that they cannot survive the competition. I hope that the people with the power to make decisions realize what is needed of them. If that happens, I would not be surprised that more and more people will buy American cars not because they are patriotic but because they are in the market for reliable and well-designed vehicles.

Written by tundal45

December 16, 2008 at 2:56 am

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Ubuntu continues to amaze me

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Before I go any further, I want to tell you guys that I am no expert with linux. I am what you call a noob. I work in an industry that is completely dependent on Microsoft Products. Therefore, its no surprise that my work environment is Windows. For my home laptop, I have a XP Ubuntu Dual Boot setup. Since I paid for XP, I figured I’d keep it for those times when I need to be in a Windows environment.

I had used Ubuntu in the past when I was working at the Berkman Center for StopBadware.org. In fact, Berkmaniacs get major props to introducing me to Linux and all things Open Source. My passion for Ruby and Rails also stems from my ties with the center. At that time, I was using Ubuntu 6.10 (Edgy Eft). I started the switch to Linux first with my office computer and loved it so much that I installed in on my old huge HP laptop. I remember back then I had to dive into a lot of forums to get my wireless card working and getting few other things to work properly. While it was a pain, it was a good learning experience.

The hard drive on the laptop died sometime after I had moved to my new job and I never got around to fixing that. With new job and new things to learn, there was very little time to dedicate to projects. Once I got my new Inspiron 1525 (that came with vista installed, ugh) and started running into problems with few Windows only apps I was using, I decided to downgrade to XP. But as good as XP is, it is still Windows and I started missing Ubuntu again.

It took me a while to research the dual boot setup and because I was expecting something to go wrong, I had to wait until I knew nothing critical was due for few weeks when I decided to install Ubuntu. At that point, the latest release was Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron). To my surprise, everything went seamlessly and everything worked right off the bat. I was very happy, not only for myself but for the Ubuntu community in general. I was also very impressed by improvements made between 6.10 and 8.04.

I thought that was the end of surprises to me until tonight when I upgraded to Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex) and once again, it was like clockwork. While I was not too nervous about the upgrade, I was keeping my fingers crossed for sure. But everything just works. I love the Pidgin integration to the user account. You can finally be connected to both your wireless and wired networks. The network update is heaven.

All in all, Ubuntu and Linux in general has moved forward in leaps and bounds. I think a major factor, besides the effort the Ubuntu core development team and the community puts in along with the vision of Mark Shuttleworth, was the fact that a major computer manufacturer like Dell started prepackaging some of their products with Ubuntu and few other flavors of linux. This definitely helps in the area of drivers and such. The fact that linux has evolved from a very geeky OS with a tough learning curve to sleek sexy easy to use OS that it is today is another key improvement.

The biggest hurdle definitely comes with regular users initial fear of the unknown. Once people get introduced to linux and learn that it is really not that hard to work with and has amazing security features as well as a great big world of free and open software available, I see no reason for users not to stick with linux. The only thing that’s keeping users at bay are the same old issues with drivers and certain windows only applications with not so great linux alternatives. The good thing is that this improvement is opening doors all over the world for people who want to use computers but cannot afford to pay for one. Keep doing what you guys are doing. Major props to everyone who is involved.

Written by tundal45

December 13, 2008 at 5:22 am