Why I don’t talk about my drumming

I was chatting on facebook the other day with a friend called Priya Martin. We were sharing our bad habits when I decided to goof around a bit. I was able to save the conversation because I was chatting from Empathy, a universal chat client. I am dvidby0 in the chat:


– dvidby0@chat.facebook.com, 05:16 –

so, your turn again.

make it good.

– -591296334@chat.facebook.com, 05:17 –


I can’t think of any

I always leave closet doors open

– dvidby0@chat.facebook.com, 05:17 –

that’s bad?

– -591296334@chat.facebook.com, 05:18 –

yeah, according to my mom at least

oh yeah, I seem to misplace things a LOT

– dvidby0@chat.facebook.com, 05:18 –

okay. Another bad habit of mine is i don’t talk about my drumming.

– -591296334@chat.facebook.com, 05:18 –

why is that a bad habit?

– dvidby0@chat.facebook.com, 05:19 –


let me explain.

this will take some time.

let’s say I did talk about my drumming.

You follow me so far?

– -591296334@chat.facebook.com, 05:20 –

yes, I do

– dvidby0@chat.facebook.com, 05:20 –

you would ask me a few questions about it.

i’ll tell you a few things.

right? I mean in a chat, okay?

– -591296334@chat.facebook.com, 05:21 –

right now?

okay, When did you start drumming?

– dvidby0@chat.facebook.com, 05:21 –

No no.

– -591296334@chat.facebook.com, 05:21 –

k, so people ask you questions

– dvidby0@chat.facebook.com, 05:21 –

i meant, in a hypothetical chat where i did tell you about my drumming,

– -591296334@chat.facebook.com, 05:21 –

in a chat

and then?

– dvidby0@chat.facebook.com, 05:21 –

these things would happen.

you would ask me a few questions about it.

i’ll tell you a few things.


– -591296334@chat.facebook.com, 05:22 –


– dvidby0@chat.facebook.com, 05:22 –

so, we would have a little conversation about that, but since most people aren’t into drumming, even those into music

the topic wouldn’t carry for too long, right?

It would be over in five lines or so, maybe.

– -591296334@chat.facebook.com, 05:23 –

yup, I imagine I would have a hard time talking about drumming

go on

– dvidby0@chat.facebook.com, 05:23 –

And that would save some time.

– -591296334@chat.facebook.com, 05:24 –


– dvidby0@chat.facebook.com, 05:24 –

and we wouldn’t be wasting 16 lines here discussing this.

right? (17)

– -591296334@chat.facebook.com, 05:25 –


right, so this is a much better topic

– dvidby0@chat.facebook.com, 05:25 –

AND 7 minutes.

So now you see why that’s a bad habit that I don’t talk about my drumming.


When you are in an empty room for some time, you may hear whispers.

There’s a fully sound-proofed room at the annexe of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in France. It’s used for measuring and calibrating units of sound intensity and frequency. The decibel was first set in that office, and so was the Hertz.

It’s in a far, secluded corner of the sprawling bureau. From the outside, it looks like a small, ordinary office. But it’s when the huge padded and reinforced metal alloy door hisses open slowly via combined pneumatic and hydraulic pumps, releasing a burst of chilly, lifeless air from within its dark cavern, that you first feel a distinct sense of discomfort.

You enter the room, and the door swings back closed, enclosing you with liquid darkness that you can feel clawing up your limbs and crawling into your clothes. There are no incandescent bulbs inside because the air must be at a uniform temperature throughout the room for correct accoustic measurements. There are no fluorescent tubes either because they produce a constant hum, which would be loud in that chamber.

In short, it’s pitch black.

But it’s not silent, especially not after a few minutes.

The first thing you realize after some time is that there is a constant low sound, pulsating regularly. The man outside would already have told you what that is. It’s the blood flowing through your veins. Even then, it’s unnerving.

Then you sit down on the soft padded floor. You are forgetting whether your eyes are open or closed, it’s so dark. You imagine the darkness facing you, staring at you, cold and expressionless, the ancient darkness that was there before our lights, before our Earth was formed, before all else. A tiny ball of panic starts rising up your throat.

It is then that the whispers start.

You can scream. But nobody will hear you. If you have asked for fifteen minutes, they will let you out after fifteen minutes. Those guys are very particular about time, staying in a place that measured the second.

It is not someone else who is whispering to you. It is you. There’s always so much noise in life, they never got to say anything. Now they know, those voices, that you are listening. For fifteen minutes you are theirs. That is all the time they need. And the things you hear are the things that you never wished to hear ever, even without knowing it. Everyone has things like that, you too.

It’s not a good idea to scream. It will drown out the voices for some time, but there is only a limited amount of oxygen in the room. If you scream, you will notice that you start panting. You will have increasing difficulty in breathing. But they won’t know that outside. They will only let you out after fifteen minutes. That is one clause you must sign before entering the sound room.

When you start having trouble breathing, the whispers get louder. And then you can’t scream any more, because you know that you may start to choke. Then you must huddle up and listen.

You cannot cry. You must breathe normally, in and out. You must sit quietly in the blackness, amidst the pounding of your heart and the rushing of your blood through your vessels, amidst the whispers that are tearing your mind apart.

When they come out from the sound room, they all grow quieter. They walk quietly, drive quietly, and reply in brief to questions. It’s because the whispers will keep knocking about inside their heads till the end of their lives. There’s always so much of it to listen to, there’s no room for other sounds.

Some of them end up in quiet padded cells of a different kind.

In the winter of 1997, when faced with several public cause litigations, the annexe office of the Bureau admitted responsibility for several cases of terminal schizophrenic dementia admitted in various institutions around the country. That same winter, they stopped issuing permits for visitors to the sound room.

Schizophrenia as understood today, is when one communicates with or acknowledges the presence of an other being who is not there. One of the above patients, however, reported in a rare and brief medical interview that she was fully aware that she was talking to herself.

If you want to know what the voices say, there’s a way that sometimes works. After midnight on a clear moonless night, you must go somewhere open, like a roof. You must be alone. Look up so that the sky spans your entire field of view, and there is no source of light in the field. Calm yourself and try to think of who you are. Who are you to yourself? Step outside yourself and observe this being you have been inside for all these years. Don’t look away from the sky. Visualize your face, spell your name inside your head. Who are you? What do you do everyday? How are you different from everyone else? What do you mean? Why are you?

If you are (un)lucky, you might actually start hearing the answers.

Don’t make it a habit.

Don’t sleep with a patched OS X

I am running a triple-boot (Windows 7, Ubuntu 10.10 and a patched Mac OS X 10.6.3) on a Dell Inspiron 1525 with Intel Core 2 Duo, 250 GB HDD and 3 GB Ram, and using Grub 2 as the bootloader.

A few days ago, Debsankha, one of my collegemates, installed for me the last of these operating systems and fixed the bootloader in exchange for a treat at KFC.

It was working fine until yesterday, when I was working on my desktop and the laptop was on in OS X but wasn’t plugged in. My laptop battery is near the end of its life so it discharges quickly. I couldn’t find a power source for the laptop so I decided to make it sleep to conserve charge till I needed it again. I pressed the power button and chose Sleep, then went back to my work.

Later when I tried to boot it I saw that I couldn’t even go beyond the first boot screen (which is one that asks for the HDD password), because my internal keyboard was disabled. This is a bug with patched OS X’s when it doesn’t have a clean shutdown.

I tried hunting for an external USB keyboard, but couldn’t get one. But I rebooted it a few times and then my keyboard was suddenly working again. Later I discovered that rebooting a few times often reactivates the keyboard.

However, when I chose Mac OS X 32-bit at the grub menu, I got just a blank screen. The light showed some initial hard drive activity, then it went off. The menu entry in grub is supposed to boot OS X via the verbose mode by default (similar to adding the –v flag in the Darwin bootloader), but not a single line of the verbose was being displayed. I looked up online and many threads discussed waking up problems with both original Macs and patched ones. Many of them said that when the screen remains blank, everything’s working fine, except the monitor is not waking. I tested this by waiting for sufficiently long, then typing in my password, pressing enter, or increasing the volume (which is supposed to make a sound), but it appeared that the waking problem was not just with my monitor, and that my system wasn’t really booting. I even tried an external display, to no avail. I changed BIOS settings, trying to get USB devices or the Wi-fi switch to wake the system, but it didn’t work.

Finally I called up Debsankha, who told me to chuck Grub 2 and chainload the Darwin bootloader, and boot with the –v flag. He sent me this link, in which it’s explained how to modify the settings to enable this. Note that the OS X section he talks about is in the /boot/grub/grub.cfg file, which I couldn’t figure out at first.  Make a backup of the file somewhere, in case you screw it up. In any case, you can always generate a working grub.cfg file just by typing update-grub in the Linux terminal, but if you screw up grub, you can’t log in, and then fixing the grub is a bit messy. With the backup, you can just boot with a Live CD or USB and copy back the .cfg. Saves some minutes. To test the .cfg code, you may preserve the existing menu entries, and create a new one, as I did.

IMPORTANT: change the partition numbers in those lines to suit your system. The 2’s there (eg hd0,2) refer to the partition number of the Mac Volume, and the 4’s to that of the / volume of Linux. Check what these numbers are for your system using the Disk Utility. Mine were 3 and 8, for example.

DON’T run update-grub after you change grub.cfg. The file will then be regenerated, and all your changes will be overwritten.

So I did this and rebooted. My menu entry showed up after some tries and I got the Darwin screen, at which I added –v and booted. There were only about 6 lines of text printed, when it tried to load the sleepimage, and said ‘Wake kernel!’

Debsankha looked in the Boothelp file of chameleon and told me to add the flag Wake=No. So I typed –v Wake=No and booted again. This time it worked. It had taken me all of a day.

I’ve preserved the Darwin chainloader entry in my grub. An added bonus is it doesn’t go into verbose by default, so no flags means a GUI boot. Although the ‘GUI’ here is just an inert silver apple in the middle of the screen, I saw that there were quite a few threads even to try and get that using Grub 2.

Debsankha said and I also saw on the web that there might be some kext which would take care of these sleep disorders. However, I have had enough. I’m not going to touch that sleep button again.

If there’s any little point here which you would like to be discussed in detail, you may add a comment. I’ll surely reply.

Inquivesta Wallpaper

I designed this wallpaper for Inquivesta 2011. I just took the logo and inverted the colours. Hope you like it.

Inquivesta Wallpaper

By the way, I decided, right now, to participate in WordPress’ Post a Week 2011 Challenge (I’m not so sorry now that I migrated from Live Spaces – it’s frankly cooler here), starting with this post. And I’m going to be using all the dirty little tricks of the trade, including advance posting. Good luck to me.

Default fonts in Chrome appear in Italics

Most of my pages in Google chrome on Ubuntu 10.10 were showing text in bold and italics. I tried changing the default font settings of the browser, but those were okay. Then I tried to change the chrome theme, but that didn’t work either. Then I found a couple of threads that addressed the issue, but they were all directed towards Windows platforms. The essence of the idea, though, worked even in Ubuntu, when implemented a bit differently.

In Windows, I guess you have to open the Arial font from your Windows/Fonts folder. That should do the trick, according to the online forums. If not, try reinstalling it.

In Ubuntu, I instead installed all the Microsoft fonts. This you do by typing in the terminal:

$ sudo apt-get install msttcorefonts

Wait for all the fonts to download and install. Then restart the browser. It worked for me.

Hope Google gets rid of this in future versions.