Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mumbai Marathon 2009: Results

Update: Updated the links to ChampionChip site. The old links don't work anymore. Also updated my net finish time and rank.

Chip timer results for the Mumbai marathon 2009 are out. See yours at ChampionChip UAE:
As for me, I finished on rank 967 961 for the half-marathon, with a gross time* of 2:37:32. Since I started the race around 7 9 minutes after the official start time, the net time** should be around 2:30 was 2:28:35. That's what the soft target for my first race was (the real, hard target being just to finish the damn race). So I am satisfied with the result. (But, as I would cover in another blog post, things could have been better...)

* Gross time: the time period beginning from the start of the race (i.e. when the elite runners cross the start line) till the time you cross the finish line. This is considered your "official" time for a race.
** Net time: the time period beginning from the instant you cross the starting line till you cross the finish line. This is your actual time for the race.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

A good tutorial on epoll

For the last few days, I have been toying around with the idea of using epoll to write "high-performance" TCP-based servers. While the man pages are helpful, they aren't exactly very useful to get you started. And "tutorials" have been hard to find. Not having any prior knowledge of select() or poll(), it has been tough to grok epoll.

Today, though, I stumbled upon a tutorial (or rather, a section from the book Linux System Programming by Robert Love) which I think is very useful for epoll newbies:
The Event Poll Interface
Here's an Amazon link to the book.

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Friday, January 09, 2009


So I bought a pair of Adidas running shoes worth Rs 4899 earlier this week. Add to this Rs 4000 worth of non-refundable air fare to travel to Mumbai, and I have already invested nearly 9000 bucks on the upcoming half-marathon. Such big investments make it impossible for the baniya in me to back out of the race now. (Plus, after nearly three months of training, I am fairly confident of finishing the race. How quickly I finish though, is a different matter altogether...)

Talking of investments, one kind of investment you will need to start thinking about soon is the one you will need to make under section 80C to reduce your tax liability. Although, in these troubled times, I don't know how many people will go with ELSSs, here's a small piece of advice if you are thinking about ICICI Prudential: be sure to find out whether you are investing in a one-time payment scheme or a recurring payment scheme.

In the latter case, you will have to repay the amount for at least the next two years (three years in total, which is the lock-in period for an ELSS). I was burnt badly by this issue last year — I had made a huge investment with ICICI Prudential the year before, and then invested in different mutual funds (including ICICI Pru) last year too. Only later on did I realize that I had bought recurring payment policies both the times (the concerned managers never informed me that this was the case). So this year I will have to invest more than Rs 1 lakh in ELSS (which is the maximum amount on which you can save tax under 80C).

Remember, ICICI Prudential is an insurance company first and then an investment house. Their managers sneakily made me buy two insurance policies with huge premiums, zero sum assured on maturity and completely subject to market risks. It is much better to invest with real mutual funds (like SBI or HDFC MF), which have a one-time payment policy as default and where there's no attempt to sell you insurance.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Re: When you need IE

In my last post today, I asked:
How do you get rid of Windows when important websites (for you) work only with IE?
Here's the answer, if you are using Linux: CrossOver from CodeWeavers (there's an OS X version too). I just installed IE on Ubuntu and tried a couple of websites which I knew didn't work well with Firefox. Preliminary conclusion is that they work perfectly fine on the newly-installed IE. Hurray! So I don't need to install Windows, yet.

Note that CrossOver Linux is not free software; it is a proprietary version of Wine, the well-known Windows Emulator (not!) for Linux, BSD and OS X. So you have to shell out a few bucks (around 40 USD) to buy the "Standard" version ("Professional" one costs more). Although it can run a lot of Windows apps on Linux, even if it was only for this reason (ability to run IE), I think its worth the cost.

I didn't have to buy CrossOver, however. :) I downloaded it for free in late October when CodeWeavers gave it away with their Lame Duck Presidential Challenge. Then I forgot all about it, until now. (I also downloaded CrossOver Games that day — Steam works well with it, so I've heard. Maybe I'll play some real games again.)

If you really don't want to spend the money, you could try Wine itself. But I haven't used it, so I can't say whether it works as well as CrossOver.

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When you need IE

So now that I hardly ever play games, I believed I would never need to install Windows again. Silly me.

How do you get rid of Windows when important websites (for you) work only with IE?

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

So what happened to the Zune?

This new (or rather, end of) year story just made my day: every first generation 30 GB Zune reportedly freezing after midnight of 30th December or, starting 31st December, 2008. (See one forum thread here, or a Google trends graph for "zune freeze" here)

So, what was the issue? Apparently, someone forgot to take care of leap years in their code. I would _hate_ to be that someone right now.

This reminds me of my first new year at CT: more than one date handling bug in our code caused weird things to happen around the turn of the year. Thankfully, our failures were nowhere as epic as this one.1

I wonder how long us programmers will keeping tripping at each happy new year's.

1 The most any business guy reported was that some flight/fare was not showing up correctly, and no one apart from a couple of devs even knew what had happened (that was before we became heavy on processes, and JIRA was no longer a joke).

Update: Apparently the piece of source code that caused this problem has been identified and is out on the internets. So what did it? Well, seems like a date routine from Freescale was the culprit. See this forum post for the gory details.

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