NaNoWriMo: Herein lies madness

They tell me people don’t like to read. I don’t know about them but I like to write — actually, change that to love — I love to write so much that I signed up for NaNoWriMo. This love for writing may be short-lived or even impulsive. Or it might be the start of a new world of awesomeness for me. Who cares?

After all, it’s November and that’s the only thing I care right now. Because it’s time for some insane non-stop writing and a lot of bang-your-head-against-the-wall — I mean NaNoWriMo.

Yes, I declare myself a participant of NaNoWriMo 2013. I accept the challenge. As part of the challenge,  I will be working on my virgin novel “Life Beyond Control“.

To give a glimpse (or maybe a lengthy teaser) of it, Sid is madly in love with his family and finds himself entangled in a serious delusional series of nightmares. He is, however, determined to go the distance — life beyond control — and do anything to retain his family. Did he succeed? Or did he go too far? Therein lies madness.

Wanting to know what Sid did or what happened to him, I asked him and he replied keeping his cool,  “What happened? I don’t know. You tell me..”

Eh fine. If you don’t want to reveal the plot, maybe the narrator will. Oh wait. The narrator doesn’t want to spoil the story either, at least not before the end of November.

Wow. They really know how to build up the tension. If you are like me and want to keep track of Sid’s adventure (or is it misadventure?), here’s a handy widget, displaying Sid’s progress:

Track Sid's adventure

See y’all at the end of November!


[HOWTO] Reset Unity configuration using unity-tweak-tool

Not so recently, the command unity --reset was deprecated when Unity migrated its settings from gconf to gsettings. This happened in the 12.10 development cycle and as a result, there was no easy way to quickly reset the Unity configuration in 12.10 and later.

In order to fix that, we bundled a script with unity-tweak-tool which resets Unity configuration for you. The script utilizes gsettings API and is considered more secure than using dconf reset.

To use it, run the command

unity-tweak-tool --reset-unity

in a terminal. After doing so, log out and log back in again. You should hopefully have a Unity profile that was reset.

If in the unfortunate case you run into a bug or other anomaly, please consider filing a bug report against unity-tweak-tool on Launchpad. We will try our best to fix it for you.

For the attentive ones, it is in fact the same script that was posted on Ask Ubuntu. It should have made it into the Unity source code but we got lazy and Mir was announced; everything got thrown into the backburner and we took the easy way out and just rolled it into unity-tweak-tool.

50,000-word novel in 30 days? Challenge accepted!

It’s always been my lifelong long-time aspiration to author a novel. And this is going to be my best bet achieving that. Through NaNoWriMo.

So, what’s this NaNoWriMo?

NaNo in a Nutshell

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 p.m. on November 30. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel. Here’s a little more about how it all works.

One-day event

The Office of Letters and Light, the nonprofit behind NaNoWriMo, identifies one real issue with potential novelists: lack of time and motivation. Most wannabe writers, myself included, will never be able to make the time it takes to write a full novel.

The desire wanting to write a novel will be present but low down other “pressing” priorities for it to have any impact. NaNoWriMo intends to deal with this — by putting itself at the top of the priority list. I am fine with that. As long as I manage to complete my novel.

First draft

There is also an emphasis on the quantity rather than quality. Reason: quantity is much easier to measure than quality. After all, the only real purpose for a first draft is to exist.

I do have my Semester exam in November but I plan to make time right before and after the exam. Heck, exams come every so often but a chance to write your novel? Not often enough.

P.S. I’ll let you in on a little secret. I totally posted this to prevent myself from falling back on the promise to complete a novel this November. If no one knew about my challenge, then there’s no shame of me failing on the challenge.

If you see me anywhere after November, ask me if I did get done with the novel. I probably would have — but if I decide not to in the middle of the month, the possibility of being shamed will hopefully act as a sufficient motivator to get me to complete the first draft of the novel.

Heroes don’t exist

How’s life, girls and booze?, I inquired my friend. I hadn’t seen him around for some time and I just wanted to catch up with him. Now, this question is not something I usually ponder upon, but his reply made me self-reflective and dwell in my world. So, join me for a ride as I turn my heart inside out, will ya?

This is the first blog post on the topic Life, girls and booze as I talk, comment, explore or blabber about it.

Heroes don’t exist


Know him? Superman, arguably the most popular superhero in the world, has everything to do with this blog post. Because heroes don’t exist. Not in the world we live. They only do in books, comics, movies and other fictional works — much like Superman, Batman and a host of other superheroes.

It’s rather unfortunate we are culturally trained to worship people as “heroes” when they do good deeds. Doing so categorically moves the actions of “heroes” into the extraordinary / supernatural category and the common man will make no effort to remotely emulate those actions. Because, only heroes can do that!

Terming a person as ‘hero’ is a convenient way to appreciate the actions yet quickly move away from doing so yourselves. Instead, consider them nothing more than a fellow human being and their actions will no longer look monumental and you might even be persuaded to replicate their actions.

Besides, heroes don’t actually exist. There is a Mr Hyde in every Dr Jekyll and that is not excepting the “heroes”. Molly Willms puts her case against heroism so eloquently in her Ditch your heroes: they don’t exist1:

Hello, my name is Humanity, and I have a hero problem.

I know the concept of heroizing is varying degrees of importance from culture to culture, but many of us have a tendency to idolize and idealize those who do things we deem “good.”

Think about it: when it comes to scandals and discussion, there’s little that measures up to the attention we give “good guys” when they do something bad.

As much as we are quick to worship heroes, we are also quick enough to throw dirt at them, as soon as they fall from grace. If only we recalled the little fact that they are not meant to be infallible! It’s not like they claimed to one either.

Big names, from the recent famous infamous Lance Armstrong and Tiger Woods to the historic ones like Gandhi and Mother Theresa, all had their unpopular sides. Molly makes a case against several other prominent people (take a look!) and I don’t want to dwell in the misdeeds — not because it would leave a bad taste but rather because it would make my point too strong. 😉

I’ll leave you with this beautiful dialogue from one of the episodes of Sherlock.

Heroes don’t exist, John. -- Sherlock Holmes


Dr. John Watson: There are lives at stake Sherlock. Actual human lives. Jus-Just so I know, do you care about that at all?
Sherlock Holmes: Will caring about them help save them?
Watson: Nope.
Sherlock: Then I’ll continue to not make that mistake.
Watson: And you find that easy, do you?
Sherlock: Yes. Very. Is that news to you?
Watson: No. No.
Sherlock: I’ve disappointed you.
Watson: Good. That’s good deduction. Yeah.
Sherlock: Don’t make people into heroes John. Heroes don’t exist and if they did, I wouldn’t be one of them.

If you were wondering what my friend replied to my question How’s life, girls and booze?, this is what he had to say: Life is boring, girls are complex and I can’t drink booze. Another teetotaler I presume.

  1. For whatever reason, the entire website is down. Here’s a useful link to an archive of the entire article. 

When Open Source software get nothing in return

There have been a lot of success stories of big governmental organizations switching to Open Source solutions to cut down costs. The latest one doing the rounds: French Gendarmerie switching to Ubuntu and cutting down IT costs by an impressive 40%.

Using an open source desktop lowers the total cost of ownership by 40%, in savings on proprietary software licences and by reducing costs on IT management. Using Ubuntu Linux massively reduces the number of local technical interventions, says Major Stéphane Dumond. “The direct benefits of saving on licences are the tip of the iceberg. An industrialised open source desktop is a powerful lever for IT governance.”

All’s well and good when you put it in the perspective of such organizations. But, what does the Open Source software community get in return? Some good name and a gentle pat in the back. Is that enough? Not much really.

There was a slight compensation when the German city of Munich reportedly were planning to distribute free CDs of Ubuntu 12.04 to its residents. That’s a step forward but certainly not good enough. Why I say it’s not good enough is because they can do more – a lot more than what they are currently doing.

Since these organizations will more than likely have their own support team and not rely on purchasing support contracts, the only reasonable source of revenue via clients buying support contracts for Open Source software gets blocked.

Now, if we can get them to exercise some Corporate Social Responsibility, all of us can have a happy ending. For a start, they can maybe donate a part of their savings to a FOSS organization or a company. I believe that’s reasonable and fair for all sides.

If that sounds too much, hiring a developer or two and getting them to work on their upstream software is a good bargain at the least.

It’s possible I don’t have a full picture of what the organizations do with their savings. And I would be very glad if they do share my thoughts on how they can benefit Open Source that benefit them. After all, that’s the underlying philosophy behind Open Source.

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