Docker is almost the rage these days. If you don’t know what Docker is, you should head on over It’s a container engine, designed to run on Virtual Machines, on bare-metal physical servers, on OpenStack clusters, on AWS instances, or pretty much any other form of machine incarnation you could think of. With Docker, you can easily create very lightweight containers that run your applications. What’s really stunning about Docker is that you can create a lightweight container for your application in your development environment once, and have the same container run at scale in a production environment.

The best way to appreciate the power Docker puts at your fingertips is to try it out for yourself. If you wish to do it, I would recommend the browser-based interactive tutorial on Docker’s website.

While it is easy to build Docker containers manually, the real power of Docker comes from what is known as a Dockerfile. A Dockerfile, using a very simple syntax that can be learnt quickly, makes possible automating the process of setting up and configuring the container’s environment to run your application.

On a weekend I finally took out time for myself and sat down to embrace Docker, not only through the interactive tutorial on Docker’s website, but also on my server. I was half lucky in that I didn’t need to have to set Docker up on my local system or VM, because Linode just happened to very recently introduce support for Docker. I started playing around with Docker commands on the shell manually, and slowly transitioned to writing my own Dockerfile. The result: I wrote a Dockerfile to run a small container to run “irssi” inside it. Go ahead and check it out, please. If you have a system with Docker running on it (and I really think you should have one), you can follow the two or three commands listed on the README file to build and run my container. It is that easy!

Tempting Firefox plugins for the mischievous minded

     I thought I would make a quick mention of a web page I came across that introduces really useful third-party Firefox plugins which a person such as myself who gets involved in hanky-panky from time to time can make really good use of. I know I have relied on Firebug on far too many occasions to mention to slice and dice and hack away at the source of live web pages, and on Live HTTP headers slightly less so for inspecting the crud that goes back and forth under the hood while browsing. But the page lists other more tempting plugins that could make your life a lot easier if you swing that way. :)

Of digital cameras and photography

In our house, we had two polaroid cameras. Brother and I, being young, were never allowed to touch them, but we saw parents use them often. On every birthday party, every gathering, we’d have a lot of pictures taken and then developed — you know how it used to be and is with polariod cameras.

Then one miserable day when I was still in school, some miscreants broke into our house and stole the cameras. Ever since, we have been deprived of cameras.

We do have digital cameras in our cell phones now. Brother is obsessed with taking pictures of himself with his cell phone all the time, while dad enjoys snapping cats when they aren’t looking. And mine’s just not good enough (at slightly more than 0.3 Mpx (mega pixels), you can hardly dream about becoming a photographer). But, that’s the conundrum: these cameras are just not up to the task. Granted, I could probably invest in a sophisticated cell phone equipped with a better camera that might cost me an arm and a leg, but cell phones don’t appeal to me. Furthermore, if you are from around here, you already know the perils of keeping an expensive cell phone. And, it is not like you can separate out the camera from the cell phone without decapitating it completely.

All these years I have waited for occasions where friends would bring their cameras, to take snaps of myself. That may probably paint me as desperate, come to think of it. I have also been to some exotic places and wished dearly that I had had a cam.

Finally, last week I decided to reach out on a limb and buy a proper, standalone digital camera. A friend from Down Under, Grant, helped narrow down the choices of cameras, constraint by my self-imposed budget, to the Canon PowerShot A580, and the Nikon Coolpix L16. I nearly went for the A580, but on the day I was going to place an order for it, I had a reeking afternoon (which I may if I feel up to it blather about another time), and decided to settle on the Nikon L16, overkill features and therefore price being the reasons for turning down the A580.

I have been playing with the Nikon L16 since the last week. I am no seasoned camera owner or photographer to be able to expertly judge how well the camera fares, but I find it satisfactory. The product page is here, so you can check out the features of the camera without having to rely on my words. I have been playing with different shooting modes, exposure settings, flash settings, and whatnot. These are all novel to me, and I am enthralled by what something so small as this camera is capable of. The fruits of my toying with the camera are on display on my flickr account. The camera works seamlessly with the MacBook. The installation CD that came with the camera has a Nikon Transfer utility and a copy of Panorama Maker 4 for OS X.

As an aside, people who frequent my blog will have have noticed instantly that I have reverted back to the simple, clean theme for the blog. The previous theme was neat, if you can put it that way, and I have tried some other themes too, but I always find myself at home coming back to this theme.

Stay safe, folks!

lolcat picture!

I put up my first lolcat picture last night. You might find it both cute and funny. The malnourished cat in the picture was trying to hide amidst plants in the porch next to our little garden.

Note to self: How not to light a BBQ fire!

It is barely past two in the afternoon. I am still struggling with the hangover from last night’s BBQ party. The lower part of my torso aches like it has never ached before, in part from sitting on my knees and in an uncomfortable position for hours at a stretch while grilling and cooking the BBQ meat. Also, I drove a lot that night too.

It took Ammar and I just a little less than an hour to make a fire. It wasn’t until this morning that mom told me that we would have been more successful with making the fire had we used oil instead of the gratuitous amounts of petrol we poured in. Not only does the fire, that way, last long enough for the coal to do its magic, using oil leaves an after taste and smell in what is being cooked that simply make the stuff more delicious.

Practice makes perfect, now. However, as I soberly told Rakesh when he had asked how to do BBQ while standing next to me watching me move the grilled meat over and sideways, there is really no future in it.

On a more serious note, someone should really teach Munir how to blow a sheesha.