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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Yeahh!! I won a prize!

Was at home in the afternoon when the Courier came to deliver my prize - a Sheafer Ballpoint pen. The contest was organised by Digit magazine in association with IBM some many months back. Don't quite recollect what had to be done to win the prize - questions had to be answered, I think.

But I do remember telling myself that the only prize that would be of any use to me would be the pen. The rest, if I'd won, I'd probably have passed them on to someone. Then again at that time I'd thought they would be giving away a pen set - a fountain pen and a ballpoint pen as I was looking forward to owning a decent fountain pen after the last half-expensive Parker fountain pen [had a plastic body - hence half expensive :)] I had bought lasted only a couple of months, thanks to my careless handling which resulted in the pen dropping on the ground and its nib going kaput. Turns out the prize is just a ballpoint pen; no fountain pen - KLPD. Will probably pass it on to someone anyway - have a whole bouquet of multi-colored pens of various kinds on my table.

Bouquet of pens - see, how studious I am!! [or at least would like you to believe]

The Sheaffer pen, as I learnt is the 3rd prize - the 1st prize being a Canon camera, 2nd an iPod Nano & the 4th a watch, none of which I was particularly looking forward to winning. Had my heart set on the third prize & I won it - happy I am anyway.

Having won a few such prizes online earlier, one thing I realised is that each time I won a prize, it has invariably been in a contest I forgot all about after entering. Wait myself silly each week to catch the latest episode of Cell Guru on NDTV and, once uploaded, scroll to the end of the episode first to see if they've announced my name as one of the winners in the giveaway they conduct at the end of almost each episode & after experiencing KLPD each time not seeing my name, go back to the start to begin viewing that episode. Never enter my name when they give away Micromax or one of the many Chinese rebranded Indian handsets though. Giving away a HTC Desire Z this week - actually last week, but they had not broadcast the episode last Saturday, due to the 2011 Cricket World Cup final match that India won.

Found out recently that Airtel has activated my free GPRS Internet that came with the Nokia C3-00 handset I purchased some months back. The moment I inserted my SIM card into the C3-00, I got an SMS saying that as an Airtel customer, I was entitled to free Internet surfing on my Nokia C3 handset, subject to a data transfer limit of 2 GB each month for the next 6 months [total data transfer of 12 GB]. Had bought the handset in November. But each time I tried surfing, it kept getting connected through the Airtel Live service and I kept getting charged for the surfing. Had spent a full morning then, talking to various operators at their call center trying to get my GPRS configuration in order so that I could make use of the free Internet, but to no avail. Then gave up all hope and forgot all about it as there was no real need, since Internet access is available on the desktop.

Was fiddling with the phone the other day, while waiting to pick up Mum, when without realising, went to the Internet section and clicked on a bookmark. Viola!! the site opened up and was not even being interrupted with a message every few minutes, informing me of the amount that had been deducted for the browsing as it would happen when connected through Airtel Live - my legitimate, free Internet through GPRS had been activated on my Nokia C3 :D.


Update: Was catching up on watching an episode of Gadget Guru broadcast a few weeks backs in which they showed the proceedings of the Gadget Awards 2011 ceremony. Learnt that it has awarded the Nokia C3, the budget phone of the year award. Vindication of my purchase decision made a few months backs :). A good purchase, if you can get it for <= Rs. 5700 INR [~ $129 USD]. Got mine for Rs. 5600 INR [~ $127 USD].


Having Internet access on the cellphone does have some advantages though. Waiting becomes a lot more tolerable. Also, when I feel like taking a quick peek at discussions going on different forums, without wanting to take part in any of them, doing it on the cellphone instead of the desktop means I can do it and be done with it & not keep on using the computer for long hours thereafter as it invariably happens when I use the computer, with the initial intention of doing a quick surf.

Thanks a lot to the wonderful people at Digit & IBM for giving me a prize - much appreciated. Thanks again!

Some pics of the pen that came today.

Click on the thumbnail to view larger-sized image


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Sunday, April 03, 2011

Indian Cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma: 27th year

"Saare Jahan Se Achcha"

Never have Iqbal's words soared such great heights [quite literally, in this case] touching the emotional chords of every Indian who has heard these magical words being uttered by the first Indian in outer Space, Cosmonaut Squadron Leader Rakesh Sharma.

India-Russia Manned Space Mission [Soyuz T-11]

Dutifully ripped off Wikipedia

Today [3rd April 2011] marks the 27th anniversary of the historic journey that took the first Indian into Space. Strapped inside the Soyuz T-11 mission capsule [the first variant of which first went to Space in 1966 & whose improved variant continues to perform nearly the same task even today], mounted atop what was essentially an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile [ICBM] to travel to the furthest reaches of Space not travelled by any other Indian before. Cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma, besides becoming the 1st Indian in Space, also became the 138th human in Space.

This journey by Cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma, in which he spent more than a week aboard the Salyut-7 orbiting Space Station, was made possible as part of Soviet Union's Intercosmos programme - an outreach initiative by the Soviets, using Space travel, to enhance friendship & co-operation with Warsaw Pact nations, & in a few exceptional cases like that of India, Non-Aligned Movement [NAM] countries. Thus Cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma, then a Squadron leader in the Indian Air Force [IAF], was selected for this mission with then Wing Commander Ravish Malhotra, also serving in the Indian Air Force, was to be his backup undergoing all the training and procedures being performed by the primary members selected for the mission.

With a still-fledgling Space programme that India had at that time, the Scientific significance of the an Indian mission may have been somewhat limited. Material Science experiments devised, however, would have no doubt benefitted from the zero-gravity environment on-board the Salyut-7. However, the upswing of passion and inspiration the travel evoked amongst Indians was, without doubt, immeasurable.

Later, another Indian was said to be undergoing Astronaut training at NASA to be part of its manned mission, plans for which had to be aborted due to some reasons IIRC [will add to this or retract after confirmation - remember reading about it somewhere but can't locate the source any more].


Update: Yes indeed, 2 more Indian Scientists Nagapathi Chidambar Bhat [Nagapathi C. Bhat] and Paramaswaren Radhakrishnan Nair [Paramaswaren R. Nair], his backup, were undergoing training to become Astronauts at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration [NASA] to be part of the STS-61-I mission aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger as payload specialists. However following its unfortunate crash during take-off on an earlier mission that resulted in its destruction, this mission was cancelled and they were unable to go to Space.

Thanks to the helpful member on the forum for pointing towards the Challenger disaster incidence - helped fine tune the Google search that got me the answer.


Subsequently, however, 2 women Astronauts of Indian origin Astronauts Kalpana Chawla & Sunita Pandya Williams did become members of its manned Shuttle mission & Astronaut Edward Michael Fincke is married to an Indian-origin Engineer with association with NASA. There was also news an Indian Space tourist  aboard the Virgin Galactic - don't remember the exact details now - not so relevant.

Its Space programme having reached a certain level of maturity, the Indian Space Research Organisation [ISRO] has scheduled its own manned Space programme, with the maiden launch scheduled for the 2016. Lots of technologies need to be developed and validated and rated for the human Space flight that India would embark upon. One of the most critical of these technologies would be the launch vehicle - the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle [GSLV], that is to power the mission, has had to face certain challenges impeding its successful launches in the last couple of attempts - expected failures that symbolize the authenticity & genuineness of an R&D programme.

Watch: Indian perspective on Manned Space Missions - reasons & necessary Technologies [Aero India 2011]

Extremely unfortunate to find that no Indian newspaper found the anniversary of this achievement by Cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma worthy of coverage, even in one of its inner pages as a footnote. Does not bode well for a country that fails to recognise and honor Science & Technology and its men in uniform - primary factors that determines a country's strength and destiny. In this case we've managed to dishonor and disregard both in one go.

The only article I found after searching was published a few days back appeared in the Financial Times, which my chacha Google tells me is a UK-based publication.

Read: India: Rakesh Sharma

Also no coverage in any of the MSM television news channels here in India, that otherwise specialize in whipping up hysteria and infusing melodrama even while reporting about paint drying.

Found this solitary report in a Tamil news channel: Rakesh Sharma Space Travel

Some pictures concerning the occasion.

Click on the thumbnail to view larger-sized images

Indian Cosmonaut Squadron Leader Rakesh Sharma Indian Cosmonaut Squadron Leader Rakesh Sharma with the Soyuz T-11 capsule
Soyuz T-11 capsule blasting off for Space from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in present day Kazakhstan with Indian Cosmonaut Squadron Leader Rakesh Sharma on-board Then Prime minister of India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi with Indian Cosmonaut Squadron Leader Rakesh Sharma and his backup Wing Commander Ravish Malhotra
Commander of the Soyuz T-11 mission Yuri Malyshev on his visit to India later Commander of the Soyuz T-11 mission Yuri Malyshev on his visit to India later

photos via

A recording of the conversation that took place between the then Indian Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi and Cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma while in. On being asked by the Prime Minister how India looks from up there, Rakesh Sharma replied with the historic lines stated at the beginning.

Cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma speaking to then India's Prime Minister Indira Gandhi from the Soviet Salyut-7 Space station

You may download and listen to the complete song, whose line was used by Cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma to give the reply.

Read: Saare Jahan Se Achcha - its continued popularity & recital even today a testament to that fact that Indians pay more heed to the message rather than the messenger.

On line of the Soviet Intercosmos initiative, I had asked for India to extend a similar proposal to the Islamic Republic of Iran - a mutually beneficial arrangement that would harm none, yet serve the purpose of realpolitik beautifully.



To the possibly 7-odd people* who probably visit this blog & wondering why there has been no recent updates - offline activities & commitments take precedence over activates of my online avatar & they are currently leaving me with no time to stay online as much, if at all, or as long as I would've liked. Situation likely to continue for the next couple of months at the very least. Had a few half-written write-ups about a few interesting things I had been reading prior to the virtual stoppage of online activities. May be able to post them only much later though.

Friday, March 18, 2011

India's Unmanned Aerial Vehicle wallpapers

Some hi-res photographs of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles [UAV] operated by the Indian Armed forces.

UAVs in the picture:

IAI Searcher

Lakshya remotely piloted target drone

Click on the thumbnails to view larger-sized images

Indian Armed Forces Unmanned Aerial Vehicle [UAV] (Lakshya  remotely-piloted target drone) Indian Armed Forces Unmanned Aerial Vehicle [UAV] (Searcher Mk II)
Indian Armed Forces Unmanned Aerial Vehicle [UAV] (Searcher Mk II) Indian Armed Forces Unmanned Aerial Vehicle [UAV] (Lakshya  remotely-piloted target drone)

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India's Main Battle Tank [MBT] T-72 Wallpapers

A few hi-res photographs of the Indian Army's Russian-origin Main Battle Tank [MBT] T-72 that I use as my desktop wallpaper.

Click on the thumbnails to view larger-sized images

Indian Army Main Battle Tank [MBT] T-72 wallpaper Indian Army Main Battle Tank [MBT] T-72 wallpaper

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Automatically backup hard disk data across multiple Dropbox accounts

While in College, one of the least liked things was submitting our journals for "correction" [read: professor tick marking alternate pages of the journal, while looking up & talking to the other professor sitting on the adjacent table doing something similar]. We invariably ended up writing pages after unending pages of hurriedly written experiments and assignment reports, copied from someone who had finished it a day early after finding a senior who had photocopied a [his] previous years journal to complete his own submission the previous year and had now handed the year-old photocopy to the friend, in which half the words had begun to start fading. It was the most unproductive time-wasting activity we had to undertake every 6 months for the 25 marks allotted for our journals. Diagrams were a different issue though - loved drawing them.

Now with no more hurriedly filed journals to submit, actually missing that activity a bit. So, in order to re-create the mood of filling up journal pages half-asleep in an handwriting I myself wouldn't be able to read the next day, I 've decided to write this post in the format resembling that of a journal write-up. Also has a little bit of the hurried element thrown in for good effect.

Note: If you can afford it, then please do consider using their paid service. Also, if a free user, then do not create more than one account for yourself. The second account created for this post was only to demonstrate the ability to achieve stated aim - purely academic reasons. Would be very unfortunate, if the good folks at Dropbox have to wind up their service due to user abuse.



To set up an arrangement that will automatically backup a file or complete folder from the hard disk to multiple Dropbox accounts.


  • 2 or more Dropbox accounts

If you haven't yet got them, then please sign up here [referral].

  • Windows operating system - Windows XP onwards [Windows 7, Windows Vista including Windows XP etc.]
  • A computer [duh!]


  • The partitions on the hard disk are in NTFS. FAT partitions can not be used to set up this arrangement.


The procedure can be broadly divided into 2 parts:

  1. Installing and running multiple instances of the Dropbox software
  2. Syncing files and folders so that they are backed up across multiple Dropbox accounts.


1. Installing and running multiple instances of the Dropbox software

  • For this experiment, we shall back up our data to 2 Dropbox accounts. Hence we need to install two instances of the Dropbox software on our computer.
  • Thus, in order to install 2 instances of the software, we would be requiring 2 user accounts.
  • If you have already created two user accounts, then you may jump to the section titled, "Running multiple instances of the Dropbox software simultaneously". Else, read on if you want to know how to create user accounts.
  • Creating multiple user accounts in Windows 7 & [possibly] Windows Vista

Automatically backup Hard Disk across multiple Dropbox account

Visit the Control Panel & select the User Accounts option.

Automatically backup Hard Disk across multiple Dropbox account

Once there, select the Manage another account option.


Next, click on the Create a new account option.

Automatically backup Hard Disk across multiple Dropbox account

Then you can create the new account. The account can be a Standard user account. No need to create an Administrator account. Here, Dropbox User is the name of the new account created.

Automatically backup Hard Disk across multiple Dropbox account

Once done you will see the newly created account in the list of user accounts.

Automatically backup Hard Disk across multiple Dropbox account

Important: You must assign this new account a password.

Once the new account has been created and the password assigned, log out of your existing account and log into the new account [Dropbox User, in my case]

Once logged in, install a copy of the Dropbox software on the hard disk. Since the new account created is a Standard user account, you will be asked to enter the administrator password to the install the software.

When you are asked to select the destination where the Dropbox folder is to be created, select a location that has an NTFS partition.

Click on the thumbnails to view larger-sized images

Automatically backup Hard Disk across multiple Dropbox account Automatically backup Hard Disk across multiple Dropbox account

As you can see, in my case, I have selected the L: drive for creating the Dropbox folder.

Once done, you may log out of this account and log back into the original [SD, in my case] account. Install another instance of the Dropbox software here too. Again the destination where you create your Dropbox folder must have an NTFS partition.


Here, the destination of the second [actually the first, since I've been using this account since long] Dropbox folder as shown is F:\Downloads.

  • Running multiple instances of the Dropbox software simultaneously

Here, as I always log into my SD user account, the Dropbox account installed while logged in as that user name will start up automatically.

The task, now, is to start the Dropbox software that I had earlier installed while logged in under the Dropbox User account.

In order to do so, create a shortcut on the desktop, with the following as the target location [assuming your C: drive is the one where your OS has been installed. If you've installed it some place else, you'd probably know the path of the file for which a shortcut needs to be created :)],

Automatically backup Hard Disk across multiple Dropbox account

Alternately, you may copy-paste the following into that box [including the quotes]

"C:\Users\Dropbox User\AppData\Roaming\Dropbox\bin\Dropbox.exe"

Once done, a shortcut shall be created on your desktop.

Invoke the context menu associated with that shortcut [usually done by right-clicking on the shortcut] & select the Properties option.

In the Target box, add the following string at the start of whatever is already present in that box,

runas /user:username


If, as in my case, the user name is made up of 2 words, then you will need to enter them within double inverted commas. Else the double inverted commas are not to be used. Thus by doing so, each time I click on the shortcut, I can start a second instance of Dropbox under the Dropbox User username, even while I am logged in as the SD user.

Each time you click on the shortcut, you will be prompted for the user password associated with that account. After you enter the correct password, your second instance of the Dropbox account too shall start. If you do not wish to enter the password each time, then, as shown in the picture you may append the /savecred operator to the earlier line that we had added. You may copy-paste the following into the target box.

runas /user:username /savecred

However, please note that the /savecred switch is not recognised in Windows 7 Home Edition & Windows 7 Starter Edition [& possibly the corresponding Windows Vista editions]. Even if added, it shall be ignored without harming your arrangement & you will be asked to enter the password each time. Also note that there needs to be a gap equal to one spacebar click between the appended string in the Target box and the content originally present there.

If you wish for the second instance of Dropbox to start automatically each time you log in, then you must copy this shortcut into the startup folder. It location is normally as follows,

C:\Users\SD\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup\


Where SD must be replaced by the appropriate user name under which you want the second instance to start on your computer.

Now as you can see, I will have 2 instances of Dropbox starting up each time I log into my SD user account.

Automatically backup Hard Disk across multiple Dropbox account

Alternately, instead of creating a shortcut on the desktop and then sending it to the Startup folder, you may directly create the shortcut in the startup folder and proceed as instructed. I have not done it that way, but don't see why it wouldn't work.

Thus, as you may have realised, in order to run more instances of Dropbox simultaneously, you would need more user account. Number of simultaneous instances of Dropbox = number of user accounts.

HT Semi-Legitimate

2. Syncing files and folders so that they are backed up across multiple Dropbox accounts.


  • Right-click on it and select the Pick Link Source option.


  • Now navigate to one of the Dropbox account folders where you wish to backup the existing folder [Source2, in my case] & select the [Drop as > Junction] option.


  • Thus now a folder named Source2 will also be created in the Dropbox folder account along with the content present in the original Source2 folder. Any change you make to files and folders in either one of the Source2 folder [either the original or the one inside the Dropbox folder] will automatically get reflected across the other Source2 folder. These files and folders will correspondingly also get synced to your online Dropbox account.
  • Similarly, any change you make to the files in your online Dropbox account [add, delete, modify] will get synced and reflected across the folders on your hard disk.
  • In order to sync the files across multiple Dropbox account, follow the instructions given, starting 5 bullets above [Pick Link Source > Drop as > Junction]. The only difference being that now you must execute the [Drop As.... > Junction option] in the Dropbox folder of a different account.
  • Thus now, you have created an arrangement where by your data from the hard disk will be synced across multiple Dropbox account and you can modify them at any one location & it will get updated across the others.
  • You can, in fact, sync & backup multiple folders from your hard disk to your Dropbox account
  • If you wish to sync a file & not a complete folder, as was done previously, the procedure to be followed is the same, except that in the Drop As... option you may select the Drop Symbolic Link option or Hard Link [if available] option instead.


  • Even without the Dropbox account, using the Link Shell Extension, you can create automatic backup & syncing of multiple files & folders across Hard Disk partitions. Even within the same partition, you can save the same file or folder at different locations. It would like a RAID 1 arrangement for selected files and folders. You can also use it to mirror a complete drive too [not yet tried it though] using Link Shell Extension.
  • Read through the entire Link Shell Extension documentation, a software which is actually a front-end GUI for features already present in Windows OS that support the NTFS partition, and see what sync & backup arrangement suits you the best. Currently, I am using the arrangement as described above. Will keep you updated if I make changes.


  • The changes made to files and folders are instantly synced across all folders [original folder & Dropbox account folder on the HDD] on the hard disk. Occasionally, it may so happen that these changes may not be reflected at that very moment in your online Dropbox account. This can be resolved by simply logging off that windows session & logging back in as the same user or the next time you restart your computer, they will also be shown to have been updated in your online account.
  • Similarly if you make changes to a file through one of the online Dropbox account, they are immediately synced across all the folders on the hard disk. However, the same file may not get synced instantly in the online account of the other Dropbox account. This issues too can be resolved, as described above, by logging off & then logging back in or the next time your computer is restarted.


We have successfully set up an arrangement that will back up your hard disk data across multiple Dropbox account.


Hence proved.

[okay, it sounds illogical, but in absence of being able to draw any coherent conclusion after performing an experiment, this was what we invariably ended up writing in the journals :D]


India's Tank-EX Wallpaper

The Tank-EX [also MBT EX] was a proposed upgrade to the Russian-origin T-72 Main Battle Tank in service wit the Indian Army. It primarily involved mating the chassis of the T-72 with the Turret of the Arjun Main Battle Tank [MBT] combining the positive attributes of both. No further news available of this upgrade proposal.

Click on the thumbnails to view larger-sized images

20110305-Indian-Army-Main-Battle-Tank-EX-Wallpaper-01-TN 20110305-Indian-Army-Main-Battle-Tank-EX-Wallpaper-02-TN

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Indian Air Force's Surya Kiran Wallpapers

Photographs of the Indian Air Force's aerobatics demonstration team, the Surya Kiran that I use as my wallpaper.

Click on the thumbnails to view larger-sized images


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India's Main Battle Tank [MBT] T-90 Wallpapers

Some pictures of the Russian-origin Main Battle Tank [MBT] the T-90, a derivative of the of the previous design iteration, the T-72, also operated by the Indian Army, that I use as my desktop wallpaper.

Click on the thumbnails to view larger-sized images


20110305-Indian-Army-Main-Battle-Tank-T-90-Wallpaper-01-TN 20110305-Indian-Army-Main-Battle-Tank-T-90-Wallpaper-03-TN
20110305-Indian-Army-Main-Battle-Tank-T-90-Wallpaper-04-TN 20110305-Indian-Army-Main-Battle-Tank-T-90-Wallpaper-05-TN
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