OpenDNS: DNS that actually works, unlike PTCL’s or Cyber.net’s DNS.

PTCL‘s, and sometimes Cyber.net‘s, DNS servers bail out on me frequently. For example, today when I couldn’t get the system to resolve any host address, I temporarily switched to using Cyber.net’s DNS servers. To my surprise, I could resolve some of the more popular websites only, including google.com, hotmail.com, yahoo.com, etc. I asked someone online to resolve Freenode’s address, went online and asked on ##slackware whether anyone would be kind enough to share their DNS settings. edman007 was kind enough to point out the DNS of OpenDns.com. I’m using those now, and so far, they have been working extremely well and without fail.

  • 208.67.222.222
  • 208.67.220.220
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Special Besan Ka Halwa

Cleaning my study today, I found written on a piece of paper a brief but complete recipe to quickly make Besan Ka Halwa. As I fell back into time, I remembered everything from the point where how someone went to great lengths to clearly convey the recipe across to me online to the point where I strenuously made the halwa, which I should like to mention was the first complete thing I cooked, and tasted it. Nostalgia can be so bitter and sweet all at the same time.

The ingredients and instructions I am typing “as is”. I imagine that preserving something as special as this on a piece of paper is nearly impossible, so I decided to immortalise it on my blog.

Ingredients

  • Besan (Flour of dried chickpeas) – 1 cup
  • Elaichi (Cardamom) – 3
  • Milk – 2 cups
  • Egg – 2
  • Cream – 200 mg

Instructions

  • Take frying pan (non-stick) and wooden spoon.
  • Fry dry besan for 5-10 minutes till colour changes and smells good.
  • Put beans of Elaichi (cardamom).
  • Fry further for 10 minutes, and don’t stop stirring (which is very important).
  • After 15 minutes, add cream, and stir fast otherwise cream will stick to the bottom of pan.
  • Stir cream for 15 minutes.
  • Add sugar 6-8 tablespoons full.
  • When sugar has melted, put milk.
  • Stir gently with milk in the mixture, slowly and constantly.
  • Once mixture has homogenised, keep stirring slowly and you will see bubbles bursting.
  • Keep on frying till it leaks ghee (fat).
  • Break 2 eggs and mix them quickly.
  • Fry for 5 more minutes.
  • It is ready to serve. Add almonds or pistachios, if you like for taste.

(Note. Someone was kind enough to point me to Glossary of Indian Food Cooking Ingredients which mentions some of the ingredients used in this recipe that may sound alien to some of the readers)

I could care less: The bastardisation

I suppose I was being needlessly anal when today I pointed out that someone’s use of the phrase “I can actually do shit when I am high” actually meant “I can actually do nothing when I am high”. Some wise-ass, who I should not have been talking to wasting time in the first place, suggested that since “shit” equates to “stuff”, that makes “I can do shit” equate to “I can do something/a lot”. I didn’t buy that, of course. However, that got me thinking about it all.

During my almost three year stay at alt.english.usage, I became familiar with a lot of bastardisations of the English language. Bastardisations, simply put, are senseless, inverted forms of phrases that are, originally, chiefly British. These original phrases are meant to be sarcastic and as such have some sort of sarcasm cleverly hidden in them. Bastardisations on the other hand are chiefly American, mostly coined by the Americans, and carry the same semantics as their original British counterparts, often with the sarcasm lost.

I find that this page briefly but clearly and quite remarkably touches upon the bastardisation of the elegant phrase “I couldn’t care less”. I am not sure, though, what splitting hair about all this would help achieve, seeing as few and few people (and the count keeps plummeting) are concerned in this age with the differences between British English and American English, and everything else in between.

I just thought I should mention.

Symbian SDK and Carbide.c++ on Windows Vista (glitches)

(I sincerely hope that writing about Windows does not in the least harm my overly popular reputation of being a Windows-Hater and Linux evangelist.)

You will likely run into a few glitches trying to get Carbide.c++ and Symbian SDK to run on Windows Vista. The core of the problem causing the glitches I will touch lightly upon is the new permissions model introduced in Windows Vista which admittedly has come a long way in the right direction from what previous versions of Windows had to offer. The good news is there are easy, few-click fixes required to get everything jogging on the right track.

Symbian SDK requires Activestate’s Perl to be installed on the system with the PATH environment variable containing an entry to the Perl binary. The glitch is not with getting Activestate’s Perl installed: It is with setting the PATH variable. Activestate’s Perl installer is clever enough to automatically modify the global PATH variable, but, in Windows Vista, the operation fails as the permissions model in place does not allow applications not running as administrator to alter global environment variables (among other tasks). An immediate fix is to run the installer as administrator by right-clicking on the installer binary and selecting “Run as Administrator” from the drop-down options menu, but as far as I have looked, that option does not appear for the installer. The work around is, as JayWalker pointed out to me when I asked, to manually set the global PATH environment variable to point to the directory containing the installed Perl binary (this can be done by going into Control Panel > Systems > Advanced > Environment Variables, or through right-clicking on My Computer icon > Properties > Advanced > Environment Variables).

After installing Carbide.c++, you will notice that it will crash as soon as it is invoked with an alert to check a particular log file for information that caused the crash. The log file simply tells you that Carbide failed to find the Java swt package. That is baffling because the swt package is right there inside the plugins directory along with every other package under Carbide’s root directory. Reading the only result google came up with for anything matching this particular situation, I found out that this particular glitch is due to the permissions model of Windows Vista. The exact explanation what happens escapes me, but the quick fix is to run Carbide’s binary as administrator.

Apparently, Carbide, as well as Eclipse, is behaving errantly under Windows Vista. I suspect it is the JVM that is not playing nice with Windows Vista as it crashes every now and then.

Winter downpour, and I.

Minutes before midnight, I sit partly drenched in what appears to be the first absolutely chilling downpour of winters this year. Standing on the roof earlier, under a sky covered neatly in a thick albeit somewhat transparent robe, feeling the breeze lashing against every bit of exposed body, I could have sworn I was in haven. It was simply quintessentially amazing.

As I type this, I can make out from the sounds of rain drops brushing against and making impact with leaves emanating from across outside the window that the downpour has steadily picked itself up. For a brief moment there, almost as if intentionally to give way to rain to steady itself, the breeze died down. If it was not winters and especially in Karachi, for I have said many times before how sick Karachi’s weather is, I would have wasted no time in more closely connecting with the sublime beauty that lay around me.

Before I could even begin typing down the string of thoughts hanging across my mind into another paragraph, the entire neighbourhood plunges into darkness. The ensuing quietude is almost extraordinary, save for the growing footsteps of rain drops and the hissing of the chilly wind running in gusts periodically. Someone in the neighbourhood fires up their generator, the ugly noise coming from which continually taints the beautiful picture. I continue to sit in front of a screen dimly glowing, surrounded from all sides by nothing save darkness. I can hear the rain drops still, the dancing leaves, and the sneezing wind. I close my eyes and despite the generator making itself obnoxiously heard, I can sniff that special aroma that grows out of gardens when they are lovingly sprinkled with water.

Drop after drop, gust after gust, I continue to sense in different ways the emotional outburst of nature.