Friday, October 06, 2006

Windows Vista Buy

While Windows Vista expected to be released to manufacturers around October 25, retail PC pre-loaded with the new operating system won’t be available until the New Year. Microsoft and its partners are doing their best to get the new operating system into consumer hands this holiday season, even if it may come in the form of a piece of paper.

Microsoft is planning an upgrade program for those who purchase new PCs this holiday season. According to Information Week, the upgrade coupons will either be free or provide discounted pricing:

Customers who buy systems running Windows XP Home Edition can upgrade to Vista Home Basic Edition for a flat $49 fee and to the higher-end Windows Vista Home Premium Edition for a cost of $79.

The Windows Vista Technology Upgrade Program runs from Oct. 26, 2006, through March 15, 2007. Distributors are expected to have the new SKUs in house for system builders by Oct. 15.

Microsoft has not officially announced the coupon program, but has commented that it is currently working with its partners on a plan for such an offer.

Those who wish to preview a Windows Vista might want to clear their schedules for tomorrow’s RC2 release.

Sansa Rhapsody music orgy

t's not often that three big players hop in bed together and invite us to watch. So we wasted no time this afternoon at the Sansa Rhapsody music orgy, where SanDisk showed some slow tender lovin' to their new bedside partners Best Buy and Real Rhapsody.

The hour-long menage a trois led to the birth of four new Sansa players. There's the 2GB e250R ($139), the 4GB e260R ($179), the 6GB e270R ($219), and the hulk-size 8GB e280R ($249). All four feature a 1.8-inch TFT color screen, can be expanded by popping in a microSD card and come pre-loaded with hours of music you didn't know you wanted. They also include an FM tuner, voice recording, and have a removable 20-hour battery (though you have to unscrew 4 screws to get inside the battery compartment).

The player is meant to compliment the Best Buy Digital Music Store with Rhapsody 4.0 ($14.99/month with $0.89-cent downloads, or free-for-all $0.99-cent downloads). We compared it to our second gen 4GB iPod Nano. R-rated hands-on pics after the jump.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Kerala Subcastes

The Nairs who till recently followed the Marumakkathayam family system constitute the most important section among the Hindus of Thrissur. Now a vast majority of them have taken to agriculture while others have been absorbed in Government service and other professions. Till a few decades ago, the Nairs were divided into several sub-castes and inter-dining and inter-marriages were not permitted among them. The Nairs attached to Namboodiri and Kshatriya houses for certain domestic and religious services were called Illathu Nairs and Swarupattil Nairs respectively. Charna Nairs, Pallichans, Vattekadans, Odathu Nairs, Auduru Nairs and Attikurussi Nairs are other Nair subdivisions. Every Nair had a title affixed to his name. Achan, Kartha, Kaimal and Mannadiar were some of the titles of nobility conferred on the Nairs by the Rajas of Cochin while Panikkar and Kurup were the titles of those who maintained Kalaries as their hereditary profession. Menon was the title conferred on the Nairs who followed a literacy career. When the country underwent tremendous changes, strict observations of caste rules fell into disuse.

The Samanthans, though very few in number in the district, are said to have sprung from the union of Kshatriya men with Nair women. They have marumakkathayis. The Ezhavas who follow Makkathayam are numerically one of the strongest communities in Thrissur. They have attained important positions as merchants, landowners and cultivators. A good number of them have also taken to learned professions. Velythedans, Velakkattalavans and Chaliyans are hereditary washermen, barbers and weavers respectively. Ezhuthachans otherwise known as Kadupottans who follow the patriarchal system of inheritance are supposed to be the descendants of Pattar Brahmins. They are hereditary village school masters. The Valans, Arayans and Mukkuvas are fishermen mostly living in the coastal areas of Thrissur district. Besides, there are a number of other castes like the Mannans, Velans, Pulluvans and Pattilans in the district.

Another section among the Hindus is the Kammalas who are divided into carpenters, masons, braziers, blacksmiths, goldsmiths etc. As their service is essential, they are till engaged in their traditional occupations. But in recent years a sizable section of them have taken to modern education and steady progress. The Devanga Chettis and Kaikolans are weaving castes found in Mukundapuram taluk. They immigrated into the district from Mysore and Coimbatore respectively. The Vaniyans Kudumis, Pandithans, Kallans, Pandarams, Ambattans, Vannans, Chakkiliyans and Kusavan are also immigrant castes. The Vaniyans wear the sacred thread and resemble Konkani Brahmins. The Pandarams are engaged in making Pappadam, the favourite crisp cake of the Malayalees. Ambattans are Tamil barbers and Vannans are Tamil washermen.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Kerala Caste system

Even more diverse than religion is the caste system. There are about 500 castes and sub-castes among the Hindus in Kerala. Though the system was introduced by the Brahmins for their own benefit, there is a possibility that there was an overall intent to keep the masses satisfied by creating a community where they could interact. Thus, the farmers had their own community, the merchants and soldiers had their community, and the untouchable had their community where they could interact and be equal. The caste system was accepted and followed by all inhabitants of Kerala, even Christians.

The Brahmins, the priests in charge of ceremonies which brought rain for the farmers and health for the populace, were greatly respected. They appropriated for themselves the top rung of the social ladder. In 1959, 20.8 % of the highest paid government positions were occupied by the Brahmins who totalled only 1.6% of the population (22.p.34). All occupations are caste dictated. Caste distinction differentiates one from the other; the colour and design of their dresses, the ornaments they wear, and how they wear their ornaments, how they drape their saris, lungis, pyjamas, skirts and sarongs. All these have meaning and significance. Women of a particular caste are prohibited from covering their breasts; women from another, their midriff or their legs. Intermarriage between castes is prohibited.

Nambudiri Brahmins, being the priests and custodians of the temple and its property, hold much power and wealth. In Kerala, Nambudiris are a separate class of Brahmins. They believe that they are the custodians of Vedic religion. There are five subdivisions in the Nambudiri castes, each with different occupations in the management of the temples in their charge. The top-most are the "Tampurakkal" (lords). They are the owners of all temple wealth, and administrators and decision makers. Next in power are the "adhyas" who are the supreme spiritual beings, temple priests who are in direct contact with the gods. Next come the "Visishtas" (the qualified), those qualified to conduct the rituals in the temple. Next comes the Samanyas (ordinary), the ordinary folks who study the Veda, ayurvedic medicine, and other special treatises. The last group are "Jatimatras" who are engaged in traditional learning, philosophy, and witchcraft. Very rarely do Nambudiris practice any profession for financial purposes. They receive their part of finance from managing the land holdings of the temple.

Next in rank to the Brahmins are Ambalavazis, who assist the priests with ceremonies in the temple. They stay in the ambalam, a building attached to the temple and, in the absence of the priests, conduct religious ceremonies.

Next in hierarchy are the Nairs (also spelled Nayars). They are the traditional warriors and feudal landholders who perform the function of Kshatriyas and Vysyas. The rajahs gave titles such as pillai, panikkar, nambiar, menon, karthas, kaimal, etc., to Nair families for services to the royal family or the country or for distinguished performance in battle. The titles were conferred upon the family in perpetuity and all members were entitled to use it. These titles have become subcastes.

Kammalans come next in the hierarchy of the caste system. The sudras or artisans, such as goldsmiths, blacksmiths, carpenters, washer-men come next. Below them are pot maker, brass worker, and Kaniyan who is part time astrologer, protector of the paddy from pestilence, and part time umbrella maker. From the leaves of the umbrella palm, he makes umbrellas four feet in diameter that are worn on the head like a hat, as the Thais do, or hold it by a handle. He is the heir to the leftover food at feasts. Then come the Ezhavas (Thiyyas) or toddy tappers, the Mukkavas or fishermen, etc.

Till the early part of this century, members of different castes had to keep prescribed distances from each other. A Nair had to keep 16 ft. from a Namboodri, an Ezhava 16 ft. from the Nair, a Pulaya 32 ft. from an Ezhava. (These distances are cumulative. Therefore, an Ezhava must stay 64 ft. from a Namboodri.) Woodcock even speaks of a caste called Nayadi who are not only prohibited from walking on roads, but were also prohibited from being seen. I have never heard of them.

In the last quarter of the 19th century, the Ezhavas were untouchables. They were barred from entering Hindu temples and could not go to schools. They were engaged in toddy tapping, coconut plucking, in coir factories and cashew nut plantations.

Nanu Asan, Ezhava born in 1854, protested against the treatment of his people. He built and consecrated his own temple to Siva and performed worshipful ceremonies. When questioned how he could usurp the Brahminical function of consecrating a temple for Siva, he replied that his Siva was an Ezhava Siva. His dictum was "One caste, one religion and one God." This helped to strengthen the organization he formed, Sri Narayana Dharma Paripalana (S.N.D.P.) Yogam. He was later known as Swami Narayana Guru. He threw open his temple to Pulayas and Parayas, and other untouchables, thereby increasing his following.

Mahatma Gandhi's attempt to abolish the caste system further helped the Ezhava movement. To the untouchable, Gandhi gave the name Adidravidan, meaning first Dravidian. Later the term Harijan (Children of god) was adapted to represent all the untouchables. Even then, there was continued resistance to admit untouchables to temples. When Swami Vivekananda returned from America to Kerala the Ezhavas were agitating to end caste oppression. With Vivekananda's help, they were able to strengthen the SNDP. Dr. Palpu, an Ezhava medical practitioner, convincingly argued that if a man becomes either a Christian or a Muslim and changes his name, he is no more an outcast or untouchable.

Fearing the possibility of a wholesale conversion of untouchables to Christianity, in 1936, Ramaswamy Iyer, the Dewan of Travancore, decreed admission of all Hindus, irrespective of caste or creed, into the two thousand Hindu temples. Still, some hard nosed Nambudiris would not give up the caste system.

Only the eldest male in the Brahmin family is allowed to marry women of his own caste. Nambudiri women are not allowed to marry men of lower castes. Unmarried Nambudiri women have to stay indoors and are allowed very little freedom. Therefore large numbers of Nambudiri women live and die in seclusion as spinsters. A Nambudiri Brahmin can have four wives.

Many younger Nambudiris enter morganatic marriages called Sambandham, with Nair women. A Nair woman may have a Nambudiri husband along with her Nair husband. Sometimes the Nair women were forced against their will to marry Nambudiris for financial reasons because Nambudiris were land lords. A Nair woman can be "visited" by a Nambudiri who has priority over her Nair husband.

The marriage ceremony among Nairs is not very elaborate. It is a matter of exchange of clothes. Marriage of young girls before puberty to a Nair or a Nambudiri was common. Her husband was not obliged to visit her but he may. After marriage, she remains with her parents until puberty when her husband may claim her. She remains in her parental home and her husband moves in with her. A girl or woman can receive as many men as she pleases. Normally they are of her own caste or from a higher one. A Nair can visit as many women as he pleases. A father had no obligation to provide for his children. The property of the family will come to them through their mother. This is the matrilineal system of inheritance called Marumakkathayam. The oldest male member is the administrator of the family property, whereas his sister is the owner. This system gives more privileges for Nair women. Although the man is the administrator of the family-wealth, he cannot dispose of the property without the consent of his sister, nor can he give any of the property to his sons. This helped to maintain the family unit and gave Nair women considerable say in the financial affairs of the family. The family house, called Tharavadu, is never disposed of.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Following are some celebrated media scandals in the United States over inaccurate or fabricated stories.

April 1981 -- The Washington Post relinquishes a Pulitzer Prize for a story written by Janet Cooke about "Jimmy", an 8-year-old heroin addict who did not exist.

February 1993 -- NBC News admits that it attached explosive devices to a General Motors truck to show the vehicle's dangers in a fire for a November 1992 "Dateline NBC" report. NBC apologized to GM, which filed a lawsuit against the network for staging the crash.

May 1998 -- New Republic magazine fires Stephen Glass for embellishing a story on teenage computer hackers. A month later, editors apologize to readers after finding that Glass invented all or part of 27 of 41 articles he wrote for the weekly.

July 1998 -- CNN retracts its discredited "Operation Tailwind" report, broadcast the month before. The report alleged U.S. use of nerve gas on deserters in Laos during the Vietnam War. The cable news network apologized to the Pentagon and fired two producers associated with the story.

May 2003 -- The New York Times national reporter Jayson Blair resigns after fabricating quotes, falsifying datelines and using material from other newspapers in dozens of articles. The Times publishes a four-page account in two articles detailing Blair's fabrications. The scandal led to the resignations of the paper's top two editors.

March 2004 -- USA Today says it found numerous examples of fabrication and plagiarism by star reporter Jack Kelley, who was forced to resign in January that year. The paper's editor resigned in the wake of the scandal.

January 2005 -- Independent panel finds that CBS News failed to authenticate documents used to substantiate a Sept. 8, 2004, broadcast that said U.S. President George W. Bush received preferential treatment while serving in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War. CBS fires four employees. The network's top news anchor Dan Rather had already said he would step down in March.

May 2005 - Newsweek magazine retracts a report that U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo Bay had desecrated the Koran. The retraction came as the White House, the Pentagon and the State Department all heavily criticised the report and said it had

Friday, April 29, 2005

1868 Qwerty Keyboards

This photo is a QWERTY keyboard, not all that different from the keyboard under your fingers on your computer today. However the one you see in the picture is 122 YEARS OLD!

The QWERTY keyboard, was present on the very First Typewriter. Despite more than a century of efforts to dislodge it. It is commonly believed that the original layout of keys on a typewriter was intended to slow the typist down, but this isn't strictly true. The main inventor of the first commercial typewriter, Christopher Latham Sholes, obviously wished to make their typewriters as fast as possible in order to convince people to use them. However, one problem with the first machines was that the keys jammed when the operator typed at any real speed, so Sholes invented what was to become known as the Sholes keyboard.

What Sholes attempted to do was to separate the letters of as many common digraphs as possible. But in addition to being a pain to use, the resulting layout also left something to be desired on the digraph front; for example, "ed", "er", "th", and "tr" all use keys that are close to each other. Unfortunately, even after the jamming problem was overcome by the use of springs, the monster was loose amongst us -- existing users didn't want to change and there was no turning back.

The original Sholes keyboard (which is known to us as the QWERTY keyboard, because of the ordering of the first six keys in the third row) is interesting for at least two other reasons: first, there was no key for the number '1', because the inventors decided that the users could get by with the letter 'I'; and second, there was no shift key, because the first typewriters could only type upper case letters. (Sholes also craftily ensured that the word " Typewriter" could be constructed using only the top row of letters. This was intended to aid salesmen when they were giving demonstrations.) (Nothing's simple in this world. For example, instead of the top row of characters saying QWERTY, keyboards in France and Germany spell out AZERTY and QWERTZU, respectively.)

Speaking of which, the figure left shows the 'A', 'S', 'D', and 'F' keys in white to indicate that these are the home keys for the left hand. Similarly, the other four keys shown in white are the home keys for the right hand. The terms home keys and home row refer to the base position for your fingers (excluding thumbs, which are used to hit the space bar) when you're practicing touch typing, which means that you type by touch without looking at the keyboard.

Sholes didn't invent these terms, because he actually gave very little thought to the way in which people would use his invention. The end result was that everyone was left to their own devices, effectively meaning that two-fingered typists using the "hunt-and-peck" method ruled the world. It was not until 1888 that a law clerk named Frank E. McGurrin won a highly publicized typing contest with his self-taught touch-typing technique, and a new era was born. .. QWERTY survives. It is the keyboard people LOVE to hate, but it is as much a cultural standard as the Roman alphabet, the steering wheel, or the 4x3 TV screen

Friday, March 18, 2005

Buying CDs

If you didn't know the art of buying the right DVD cd to burn then heres a right article to lead you into the underworld of the nerds,1412,66911,00.html

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Guten Morgen

Good Morning from Germany! These pages will lead you into a work of intelligence which you might have missed in your busy daily life. Thats because I'm a lazy guy trying to find ways to get myself busy and help this world realise there is more to bread and butter that one can live for. So keep enjoying and coming back to read the best blog ever to be published in this part of the universe!