A questionable blog

Weather Wallpaper on Ubuntu

You can set up a cool desktop wallpaper in Ubuntu which updates a satellite image of the weather. I found this method in a couple of other sites, and I had to modify it a bit.

1. Save this piece of code in a file named “” in your home folder


cd ~/.gnome2/
while true
while [ $COUNTER -lt 30 ]; do
wget -O world.gif
temp=$(stat -c%s world.gif)
if [ $temp > 200 ]
then rm world_sunlight_Wallpaper.gif
mv world.gif world_sunlight_Wallpaper.gif
sleep 5
sleep 3600

2. In a terminal, execute

chmod +777

3. In the menu item “Startup Applications”, add the following

Name: wallpaper

Command: sh ~/

Comment: sweet

4. Logout and Login in Ubuntu

5. Go to home folder and view hidden folders (CTRL+H), and open .gnome2

6. Change desktop background by left clicking your desktop. Drag and drop the file “world_sunlight_Wallpaper.gif” in to your bakground.


p.s. you can modify this simple script to use images from or other websites.


A review of Ryder’s translation of the Panchatantra

File:Kalila wa Dimna 001.jpg

Killing of ‘Lively’ by ‘Rusty’ in Chapter 1: Loss of Friends. Image Source: Wiki Commons.

Arthur W. Ryder’s translation of the Pancha-tantra (Five-principles) is a book I am enamored with. The Panchatantra is a collection of old Sanskrit stories compiled sometime before Christ by Vishnu Sharma. The book seeks to ask and answer the question: ‘What are the means to a happy, joyful and content life?’ Its results are in the form of poems and tales with animals as characters. Panchatantra’s tales have subtales that illustrate individual points. The book provides strategies for success, instead of formulas. However, one has to learn the art of aptly applying Panchatantra’s strategies.

The Panchatantra is a discussion of the important aspects of life. Based on the titles of the chapters from Panchatantra, we can say that the important things in life are: friends, strife and resolution, gain of wealth and the right course of action. First, a large number of poems are devoted to how a person should select and maintain friends. Good friends are trustworthy and dependable, whereas, foolish and cunning friends can lead to fatal results. Next, it pays to be clever and outmaneuver your enemies, i.e. recourse to deceit is acceptable as wise conduct in war. Last, gain of wealth and benefits is important. They can be easily lost through foolish action. In Ryder’s opinion, as stated in his introduction to the book, the keys to happiness given in the book are: resolute action towards chosen goals, company of good friends, and fulfilling work. The rest of the things in life are necessary, but are not worthy of relentless pursuit.

In my opinion, Ryder does a great job of writing poems which rhyme. However, I do not like names such as ‘Increase’ or ‘Smart’ for a person or an animal. Sanskrit names with translations as a footnote would have been my choice. In any case, I believe that many will benefit from a careful reading of the translation of the Panchatantra.


Comic Stripped

The beginning

Big pdf smaller

How to make a big pdf smaller

Use ghostscript!

gs -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -dCompatibilityLevel=1.4 -dPDFSETTINGS=/screen -dNOPAUSE -dQUIET -dBATCH -sOutputFile=output.pdf input.pdf


Another thing:

If you have some trouble processing text files, it might be due to the Ctrl+M character at the end of each line. Remove it using vi by doing a search and replace might be the easiest way.

Carnatic Music

There are two things that I like about Carnatic music, which are listed below.

  1. People don’t sing about themselves all the time! and
  2. Veterans in the field are regarded with respect.

Sometimes, it is good to think about other things than oneself. Most problems of the youth are transitory, though they might evoke intense feelings. Carnatic music teaches a culture of respect for other musicians and that music is not restrictive, especially of age.

I Fly Again ( Phir Se Ud Chala )

I like the music better than the lyrics. A liberal translation of the song is provided here.

I fly again
leaving far below this world, with the wind I fly to find you.
Far far away are those people and those valleys.
Now a soft misty cloud touches me.
Yet, let no cloud make my eyes wet.

I don't stop to rest.
I fly away from me and 
accede to this eternal sadness.
All cities seem the same,
the villages the same,
the people the same,
their names the same.
And I fly again.

These dreams like dust settles back even after I dust them off.
So many dreams, what can I say, how broken I left them.
Then why do these dreams follow and lift me up again and fly?

From branch to branch, from leaf to leaf,
I fly in rain, in desert and in pain
to die and die and become a demon?
From branch to branch, from leaf to leaf,
sometimes the day is night, and at others the day.
Now what is truth and what illusion?

Here, there, helter-skelter,
the wind may even take me to you.
Your memories draw me,
your memories draw me towards you.
In these vibrant visions, I fly and wander.

Working in lab on a friday evening

Whose rooms these are, I think I know,
They must be asleep in their beds though.
They will not see me stopping here,
To watch their windows cover with snow.
All my lab mates must think it queer,
To stop without a coffee shop near.
Between the shop and the deserted lab,
The scariest evening of the year.
I gave myself a break,
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only sounds are the sweep,
Of cars slushing and winds across the lake.
I can get to home and try to sleep,
Yet no results, ergo no sleep.
Hence, it would be long before I sleep,
Hence, it would be long before I sleep.

The Spring

Spring here is pretty, with birds singing and flowers after the winter’s drought – colors splendid. Little sunflowers almost hidden by the green grass. Suddenly some tulips, carefully laid out by watchful hands. Pine cones and Maple leaves; and tickling grass, wet from yesterday’s rain.

Ah, the rain. Did I tell you that we love the rain back home? The smell of the scorching earth cooled by the sudden downpour. The sky groaning and warning that it would give us more potholes and fill up the streets and subways. We made it up with the smell of hot pakoras and bajjis and some chai and movie at our home. We learned to like the power outages, which would take us back to candle lights. Sorry, where was I? Spring…

We had no spring back home. All we knew were monsoon and summer. Did you know we had coconut trees in our backyard and our grandfather made fans and broomsticks out of their sunburnt leaves? And we had a neem tree, whose flowers and leaves and seeds… I liked that tree a lot.

Back then, I used to write and read about other places… The grass was not greener at home, but food definitely tasted better. Food… have to get something to eat now.

How does it matter if I attain this world?

This world of palaces, crowns and kingdoms.
This world of the societies that hate humanity.
This world of hungry scavengers of wealth.
How does it matter if I attain this world? 

Everyone's afflicted, everyone's thirsty,
Tears in eyes and sorrow at heart.
Is this a world or a foolish joke?
How does it matter if I attain this world? 

One's happiness here, is another's toy.
This place that worships the dead,
Where you profit from death than being alive.
How does it matter if I attain this world? 

Youth passes away in apathy, 
and young bodies sold in market.
Even love here, is but a trade. 
How does it matter if I attain this world? 

This world where a human is nothing. 
Even trust and friendships are nothing. 
Where even the promise of love is nothing. 
How does it matter if I attain this world? 

Burn, burn and destroy this world,
Burn, burn and destroy this world.
Take this world away from my eyes. 
This world of yours, you can keep it. 
How does it matter if I attain this world?

This is a loose translation of this song.

Easy job

I was wondering if there was ever an easy job? Jobs where you don’t have to work all day, jobs where you can take it easy and take time to enjoy life. Could you think of one?