And then came 2011

This is a quick web card for the New Year's eve. Party time! :party

Hope you like it :)

Everything has a first time

When I finally got hands on my own computer around 4 years ago, I hardly knew even how to change my wallpaper! But I couldn't help starting to mess with Adobe Flash, this magnum opus piece of software. Well, lets just say it had its side effects ;)

Aaand here comes.. The Mission, which is the first flash animation movie I ever made! Yay! I swear it wasn't meant to be a funny cartoon, but never mind, you won't believe anyway. Just see how naïve and superficial it is. Without much intro, take a look at the 4 years old crazy weird stuff. I assume no guarantee if it makes you go mad and insane. And I hope this doesn't prevent you from coming back to my blog ever again ;)

Further Thoughts
This movie was made out of the sudden motivation I had after I figured out how to add music in a flash movie(back then).
It was amusing to go through this noob work of mine. Its source is implemented in a way I'd straightaway call stupid at present.
I remember that I drew the dialogues with hand just because I didn't know then that I could actually type in the text. Imagine that!
Also, all of the movie is done frame by frame, without any automatic transitions and it surprises me now that how much patience I had then.
I guess you would have noticed the really weird play and pause(which appears as a stop) buttons. Those were added when I learned for the first time how to make buttons.
And you may also notice that there's a a vague sync in the animation and the background music, which I can't remember now was intentional or accidental!

Okay now, which is your favorite scene in The Mission? My personal favorite is where the guy swings the axe from his one hand to the other :P

Troubleshooting Sony Vaio overheating in Ubuntu

Note: This is a techy post, and may not be of interest to most of the readers. If you're having a laptop and is facing overheating/fan-control problems in Ubuntu, read on.

About two months of hacking into my new Sony Vaio, and the girl is still HOT. Literally. :|

The problem
Performance of Vaio in Ubuntu 10.04 lucid and Windows 7 Home Basic had their inherent differences. One thing that riddled me from the beginning was the overheating while working in Ubuntu.
On battery power, Windows gives a fair 4 hours time, whereas Ubuntu cuts it down to less than 2.5 hours. The CPU fan seems to be restless in Ubuntu even when the laptop is pretty idle, while Windows keeps it calm and cool.

So after Ubuntu started making much noise last day, I went deeper into the topic.
The CPU temperature in Windows can be checked using Core Temp. Windows managed to keep it around 45°C.

To check temperature in Ubuntu we can install lm-sensors. It even provides us with a panel applet. To my surprise, Ubuntu started out with a temperature of 50°C and it never went lower than this. Rather, in a short while it went up to 55°C. Rebooting the Vaio to Windows dramatically cooled down the CPU. Now there's a bit of trouble!

Sensors applet in Ubuntu - before

One of my friends has a Dell laptop, and he said that the situation is just the opposite for him, where Ubuntu is cooler and gives more time on battery. A bit of Googling pointed to more people suffering from the same problem with Vaio and Ubuntu. Obviously I ruled out the situation as a Vaio-Ubuntu thing.

But then a spontaneous thought popped in my mind. There was yet another difference between our laptops - I had a premium graphics card (ATI Radeon HD 5145). A little bit of analysis proved that the problem lies in the driver for the graphics card. We just need to install proprietary drivers rather than open-source ones.

I had installed ATI proprietary drivers as mentioned here in the last part. But the lsmod command showed the radeon module in the list, which meant: Ubuntu is still using the built-in open source radeon module. Which also meant that the above method I used for installing proprietary drivers didn't work correctly - the kernel modules weren't properly installed.
After some trial and error, I figured out how the drivers from ATI can be installed correctly.

Installing proprietary radeon drivers - the proper way
Provided you have downloaded the drivers from the official website, run the following commands:

$ sudo chmod a+x ./
$ sudo ./

In the installer window, select Install drivers option, and then Automatic option. After this, run the following commands:

$ sudo aticonfig --initial -f
$ sudo aticonfig --input=/etc/X11/xorg.conf --tls=1

After this, running the lsmod command should give you a list with the fglrx module.

The result
After the proprietary drivers are installed, the graphics during boot are bigger and kind of distorted. But after booting up, everything looks normal. Most importantly, the temperature problem seems to be solved! The starting temperature is now around 40°C :)

Sensors applet in Ubuntu - after

Was this post useful to you ? Let us know ^_^


Windows is still more efficient in power saving than Ubuntu, as far as Vaio is concerned. The problem lies with the power and temperature management in the GPU, rather than the CPU. For this, we can only hope for the day when hardware driver manufacturers show more support towards Ubuntu.

How to use graphics.h in Ubuntu?

Semester 7 at college came up with a bunch of new and interesting stuff. One of them is the computer graphics lab, where we all got to do simple graphic programming in C.

Soon enough, this turned out to be a bit uneasy.
The reason was that we were forced to work in Windows, since there is no support for graphics.h in the gcc compiler in Ubuntu. To make things worse, the computers had Windows 7, and we had to install a simulator called DOS-box to run the programs properly. All this felt so messy and I just wanted to run back to the comfort of programming in Ubuntu!

Then there was some solution here. Basically, we've to install some packages and libraries which enable us to compile graphics.h programs in linux. The original article is a bit old and many packages mentioned are obsolete now. So I've written a patched up, more up-to-date version of the same.
Hope this saves you from going back to the bitter blue screen of Turbo C ;)

Click image to enlarge

Step #0
Make sure you have the basic compilers installed.
You need the build-essential package. For this, run the command:  

sudo apt-get install build-essential

Step #1
First we need to install a hand full of packages. You can simply run the following command and get it all done.   

sudo apt-get install libsdl-image1.2 libsdl-image1.2-dev guile-1.8 guile-1.8-dev libsdl1.2debian-all libart-2.0-dev libaudiofile-dev libesd0-dev libdirectfb-dev libdirectfb-extra libfreetype6-dev libxext-dev x11proto-xext-dev libfreetype6 libaa1 libaa1-dev libslang2-dev libasound2 libasound2-dev

Step #2
Now, download libgraph.

Copy the file libgraph-1.0.2.tar.gz to our home folder. Right click on the file and select Extract here.

Open a terminal and run the following commands, one by one. 

cd libgraph-1.0.2
sudo make
sudo make install
sudo cp /usr/local/lib/libgraph.* /usr/lib

Step #3
Now you're ready to compile your C program!

You have to type in the line #include<graphics.h> , just like you'd do in Windows.

In programs using graphics.h in Turbo C, you'll be using something like this:

int gd=DETECT,gm;

In Ubuntu, you replace the "c:\\tc\\bgi" part with a NULL

int gd=DETECT,gm;

Finally, while compiling the C file, don't forget to add a -lgraph parameter. The code will be something like this:

gcc heart.c -o heart -lgraph

And there you go! :)
Feel free to use the example code I made: heart.c

Was this post helpful? Let us know:

Although this implementation helps us to run all graphics.h functions, some predefined constants like SOLID_FILL may not be supported. Anyways, we can use integers instead of such names. This fixes the problem without much effort.

The graphics window can occasionally crash on focus. Rather than a bug in the graphics.h implementation, this is a common bug in gnu/linux graphics which apparently affects many other applications.

We're free

India celebrates yet another independence day

Wishes to all Indians across the globe..

Thanks to my sister for making up the Rubik's Cube pattern! 
I had concluded that this pattern is logically impossible. And then she surprised me :)

Penciling : A hand drawn blogger template

Here's a new blogger template for you people. This was originally an experimental idea which sparked in my mind, and now its out there for you to grab.
Its called Penciling.

Penciling is a whole new concept, drifting away from the regular lines and boxes and from the web 2.0 glow. Its set in a more natural, hand drawn, paint dabbled look. Its simple, yet gives attention to the fine details.

You can take a detailed look at the template here.
Can't wait? You can download it here.

This template is for everyone who seeks fun and simplicity. There are colors, yet it is light themed, giving a feeling of openness.

All aspects are drawn in those modest pencil lines.

Although it may seem so obvious and simple, it takes care of every finer detail in the design.

There's the fun in all bits and pieces.
There's even some quirky ideas put in here and there.
The template comes with et Smiley set  installed. Now give more forms to your expression. :)

I hope you'll welcome this attempt of mine and have fun with it and share it with those who may need it.
You can get the template here : Download Penciling
For further tips and customization, you can go to : Penciling demo blog
You may want to see a test post

If you have a problem with installing the template, or if you want to know some tips and tricks, see the Quick Reference:
1. Installation
2. Essentials and Best practices
3. Customization 

Liked it? Didn't like it? Do give your feedback. Drop me a line here

Exploring Wonderland

Thoughts about the rarely explored depths of Wonderland
This is an entry from my journal which date back a few weeks. Today I'm posting it here! 

Lewis Carroll wrote Alice's adventures in Wonderland for Alice Pleasance Liddell, and later was published for kids all over the world. It was implemented and adapted in many forms, out of which some became legends, like the Walt Disney's version.

There are hardly any one who hasn't heard of Alice in Wonderland during their childhood. As for me, this particular story wasn't something which attracted my great attention. Even when I grew up, I never took any effort to take a look at the details of this popular tale.

A panel from Batman:Arkham Asylum

Then, I happened to read a Batman Comic titled Batman:Arkham Asylum. More than the usual adventure, this was an out of box comic - set in a dark, vague atmosphere, it explores the nightmares in the irritated minds of Batman and his archenemy the Joker.
In the beginning pages of this comic, I saw a portion from Alice's story quoted:

Click to enlarge

At this moment, I was largely surprised to see the depth of an otherwise celebrated children's story. The words pictured the exact intensity of madness and chaos dealt within the comic. Right then i badly wanted to read Alice's adventures in Wonderland, and I kept pondering about the scope of the book's content.

The Tim Burton movie
Very soon, justifying my (late) admiration of the book's depth, I could see the trailer of the latest movie adoption of Alice by Tim Burton. The book goes through a number of crazy and weird characters out of their minds. The movie was brilliantly crafted to group these characters, to define relationships among them and thus to weave an excellent story.

Curiouser and Curiouser
Back to the topic, let us take a closer look at Alice in Wonderland.
The ideas in the story are so consistent even when they are ported from a childish sense to adulthood or to philosophy..
The flow of events in the book takes abrupt turns. Conversations are cut off at curiosity awakening questions. The book challenges everything conventional. At many points, we see the rules of language and grammar twisted acording to one's thoughts. Remember the opening where Alice says "Curioser and Curioser". This implies the freedom of thoughts. It is not necessary that we go by predefined rules to get at anything. Our mind has the power to be free. the jabberwocky underlines this idea in its complete sense.

 The Mad tea party

Adventures of the mind
Alice's story is of exploring one's own mind, and the world around. the little girl Alice jumps into adventures and risks and experience a series of wonderful things, in the Wonderland. Speaking of adventure, here's a portion from a letter written by Christopher McCandless, the aesthetic voyager, to his old friend:

So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.

At the end of Alice's adventures, Lewis Carroll concludes it as the wonders of childhood:

..and how she would keep, through all her riper years, the simple and loving heart of her childhood: and how she would gather about her other little children, and make their eyes bright and eager with many a strange tale, perhaps even with the dream of Wonderland of long ago: and how she would feel with all their simple sorrows, and find a pleasure in all their simple joys, remembering her own child-life, and the happy summer days.

This highlights the statement  "The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure".


"Anything's possible in Human Nature... Love. Madness. Hope. Infinite joy."
The God of Small Things

Alice is everyone. And Wonderland is all that world of crazy adventures waiting for us. On a deeper context, this amazingly written children's story takes in a bunch of basic philosophies of life. That's truly a lot of moral we can expect from such a simply told story!
There's no element of wonder in why people heart this book even when they're in their teens, in their twenties or even forties. If you haven't yet had a lucky chance  to read through these fascinating pages, do so at the next slightest opportunity. Wonderland - This is one place you'll blindly fall in love with!

Tale of the spiral head

Here's the story of how the little white character, the blog, and the comic came into being. 

The one above, may be called the first ever digital representation of et. Well, he was not 'et' when this picture was made; he was just nameless.
So, after numerous doodles of et in notebooks during my bored-to-death college hours, I draw him on the computer. The way he sits, the way he looks, everything was either a whim or almost accidental.

That was a time when I was looking out for a sensible name for my blog(I had almost given up after giving weird names like 'The smiling firefly'. Now seriously, what does that even mean?!). And then I sit and look at this character who is carried away in his own world of thoughts. Right then the right name came to my mind. That's it - the eternal thinker.

We have a name now. I was thrilled. But soon I looked back at the character and realized that he was still nameless. This is the one who inspired the name Eternal Thinker. Suddenly I picked up the first two letters of these words and gave him a name: et.

Identity crisis
Now you see that et is one original character with one original name. Nevertheless he had to face a lot of difficulties in establishing his individuality. et reminds everyone of the extra terrestrial, of course. And together with his alien-like looks, our et lost a major part of his originality.

Extra Terrestrial and Eternal Thinker

But et somehow was catching up. He was defining his own place on Earth. Then came the deadly blow.

The Killing Joke

Zoozoo came a year after et. But et still wasn't a brand icon. The awful result - severe loss of identity.
I have this et-made-of-egg thing on my desk, presented by my sister. After vodafone introduced their own fair white character, people would look at this craft and say, "Hey where you got that zoozoo from?!". 

After all
And after all, et found his amazing place in comics. It was a nice deviation. et now starred in a web-comic which is even named after him - et On Fire.
Hopefully the nightmares of identity crisis isn't haunting him much, in this new world of fun. I've set him free by establishing it as an independent webcomic, rather than a secondary section of this blog.
et is on his journey forward. Join him in the discussions, encourage him and wish him good luck. :)

See the very first of et goodies >>
* et window logon screen
* first et wallpaper
* first et wallpapers - more blood!

PS: Today I included transcription in the et comics, where you people can help out in making the comic better. Take a look at it here and see how it works.

Custom icon for your USB drive

This is a simplified version of my earlier post on USB drive icon customization : Little about the USB stick.

In this post, I intend to explain only the simple steps to get your own icon displayed when your USB drive is plugged in. For detailed information, check the above mentioned post.

So, how to display your custom icon for your USB drive, actually?
#1 Plug in your flash drive. Now you see any lame hard drive icon displayed in its place, of course.

#2 The first thing you need to find is the icon you are going to use. So get a file with a .ico extension. You can google and get like hundreds of icon files, so no worries.

#3 After this, you need to create the autorun file. Go on, create a new text file with the name autorun.inf. Make sure the extension is .inf and not .inf.txt
Now type in the following lines in the file and save it:

icon = et.ico

Here et.ico is the name of the icon file I use. You can replace it with your-icon-name.ico

#4 So well, that's it! Copy the two files (the icon and autorun.inf) into the USB drive, and you're done. The next time you plug in your drive, be ready to see your new icon in action.  

Note #1 This can involve more issues. You may want to hide and protect the above two files so that it doesn't accidentally get deleted every time - in both windows and linux platforms.
Again, you'd have a favourite game or a cool icon for one of the softwares. All you'll have is their .exe file with the icon. Still you can use it as an icon.
Find out more in the old post : Little about the USB stick
Note #2 On a quick run, you can download the et icon and autorun.inf files and copy them onto your usb drive in a go.
Download zip

Bulk image resize script in Python

This is a simple python script I wrote for mass resizing large collections of digital images. Its one of my first python scripts, but does a lot of good work. I can just tell the script which folder contains all the images, then sit back and relax while the processing goes on.

Why resize my Images ?
Most of the images from your digital cam will be around 3MB. Their dimensions will be approximately 3000x2000 pixels. Now that is waaay bigger than the size of your monitor!
Even if you have a 21" monitor, your image needs only a size of 1600x1200 pixels for best view. Of course, if you have some special images out there, bigger dimensions enable more zooming and cropping-the-favorite-part and stuff.
Still you'll find that majority of the images are not worth their huge sizes. If you have a 15" monitor and you resize an image to 1024x768 pixels, you'll not even feel any difference in the quality. But then its size on disk will reduce from 3MB to atmost 500KB - that's only 20% of the original size! Doing a little math, if you have 5GB of images, it will all reduce to a simple 1GB with no perceivable loss in image quality!
And that's what this script is all about.

Working how to

This script now works in linux platform. You can install it run it from the terminal.

Here's a screenshot of the process: (click to enlarge)

The script displays the progress, currently processed folder and file etc. Note that this is intended for large scale image processing. But I won't mind if you use it for processing small amount of data. Actually you can use it beautifully for generating thumbnails and so.

Download script

Download source (in case you want to dig into it)

Refer the read me file in the downloaded archive to install.
After install browse to the required folder and type imageresize --start and the scaling process simply starts!
The script comes with a few custom options. Too see them type imageresize --help
Caution: The script replaces the original image with the resized image. So take care to move your special images before you call the script. Also, note that all the images in the sub-folders are also scaled down.

You need Python imaging libraries installed for this to work. If the program exits with such an error, you should install these modules first. Get it here.

Alternative way
The program can work also with Imagemagick, an awesome command line image processing tool. This results in slower image processing. The output images are bigger in size than the above script, but its quality is slightly better.
(In Ubuntu, install the program as sudo apt-get install imagemagick )
Get Imagemagick here, and the corresponding script below:

Download script

Download source (in case you want to dig into it)

Enjoy the free space in your hard disk!

An evening of Chirps

Thus occurred the 1st ever tweetup at Kannur !
Today, April 4th 2010, marked the beginning of tweetups (or twitter meet) in my district, ie, Kannur. The meeting was held at the beautiful spot of Kannur lighthouse near the Payyambalam beach.
The simple occasion was attended by 8 Tweeple around the place. As for me, I could also meet two of my blogger/online buddies in real for the first time. :)
We sat around discussing a few intellectual things, thus for two hours, at the end of which we had plans for more, fully featured tweetups with a lot of twitter guys and girls around.

I'm in the middle Woooo!