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Posted on Jul 11, 2011

Anwar Ali’s new Malayalam poem: Near the Window in the Flat

Got a sneak peek of Anwar Ali’s new poem ഫ്ലാറ്റിൽ ജനാലയ്ക്കൽ which he has now posted on Urumbinkoodu.

The nostalgia that it evokes is shocking. മലയാളം (ഭാഷയും നാടും) ഇന്നു നിൽക്കുന്ന ഇടം നന്നായി വരച്ചു കാട്ടിയിട്ടുണ്ട്. ഇംഗ്ലീഷ് വാക്കുകൾ കത്തികൾ പോലെ കോറുന്നു – എല്ലായിടത്തും ഇംഗ്ലീഷു നിറച്ചപ്പോഴും പരിക്കു പറ്റാതെ സൂക്ഷിച്ചു  വച്ച കവിത മുറിഞ്ഞു കരയുന്ന പോലെ. Also, the simple little childrens’ ritual of throwing fallen teeth onto the roof crawls out of memories, becomes a symbol of lonely childhoods and then suddenly grows into a huge motif of our collective loneliness as we throw our innocence into the unknown.

I thought that my nine year old son perhaps would be immune to the feeling in the poetry – after all, he has not had his teeth thrown on to the roof. But I was surprised to see him moved, especially by the ending, revealing to me how much we cherish the little parts of ourselves that we lose as we grow up, and how we want to hook them up somewhere  - on a rooftop, in a small hole on the tree, in the the cobwebs of memories.

Posted on Jul 9, 2011

Type Malayalam on iOS

The KeyMagic folks are back with a bang again, making it work on jailbroken iOS devices. The Malayalam layouts are already part of the default KeyMagic installer, which means that you get the option to type in Malayalam if you just install KeyMagic.

Thant Thet has just come out with the iOS installer, and the Malayalam layout on iOS will have to tested by someone who owns a jailbroken iPhone. Volunteers, please.

Android should be the next target, I guess. Already, enough complaints have been raised that it is not possible to type Malayalam on Honeycomb. jKeyMagic, which should work on all Javascript supporting browsers might provide some solace till a proper solution is in place (Disclaimer: I have not tested jKeyMagic yet).

Posted on Mar 20, 2011

Type Malayalam on Mac OS X: Phonetically, Naturally

From the time I moved on the Mac, I have been rather upset with not having access to a good interface to type Malayalam on, though the reading problems were more or less solved by the excellent instructions on 33dots.com. I really missed Mozhi Keyman, and Google transliteration was not a very good replacement, as text had to be copied from the browser every time.

So, I was excited to hear from Harold James of Workers Forum about the new transliteration service, KeyMagic, and the Malayalam phonetic keymap for Keymagic created by Junaid. Junaid has created Malayalam keymaps, for both the phonetic scheme Mozhi and the native keyboard layout Inscript, to work with Keymagic, and he has a packaged installer for Windows.

It was sufficient to add Junaid’s keymap files to the OSX IME package published by the Keymagic team, to make Malayalam typing possible on my Mac. The packaged app is available for download here.

To install, just follow the instructions below:

1. Copy KeyMagic.app to ~/Library/Input Methods.

2. Log out and log in again (or just restart).

3. Open System Preferences, go to Language and Text, and enable KeyMagic in the Input Sources tab.

4. Check the option Show input menu in the menu bar.

To type in Malayalam:

1. On the menu bar, click on the input menu and select KeyMagic as the current input source.

2. The input menu on the menu bar now shows the options Malayalam-Mozhi and Malayalam-Inscript. Select Malayalam-Mozhi for phonetic typing, and  Malayalam-Inscript for the Inscript keyboard layout (the one used by CDAC LEAP/GIST software).

I just tested this on Snow Leopard, but it should work on Leopard and Tiger as well, by following the installation instructions given along with the OS X installer on KeyMagic site (download).

അപ്പോ, തൊടങ്ങ്വല്ലേ  മാക്കിൽ മലയാളം ടൈപ്പിംഗ്?

Posted on Jan 30, 2011

Re-enable right click and copy-paste on OnlineSBI

I have been thoroughly frustrated by not being able to copy-paste payee account numbers and addresses into the SBI online banking website. Having to type everything by hand takes a long time, especially for a product of the cut-paste generation like me. On top of that, entering account numbers by hand is error-prone.

While I curse the feature, I can understand when my good friend @srijitm tells me that these features prevent people from inadvertently copying passwords (and other sensitive information) to the clipboard which can be accessed by someone else using the PC or through a hack.

So I drop plans to create a BeatOnlineSBI extension to help the world beat the evil designs of the bank.

But I am still frustrated, so I download and install the Anti-Disabler greasemonkey script (thanks to Mark Pilgrim) which re-enables the right click functionality. Tthis does not solve the cut-paste problem as the fields have oncopy and onpaste handlers set to false. A couple of lines added to the Anti-Disabler script does the trick:

if(e.getAttribute("oncopy")=="return false") e.setAttribute("oncopy", null);
if(e.getAttribute("onpaste")=="return false") e.setAttribute("onpaste", null);

Now I can freely copy-paste stuff in and out of the online banking site, as long as I use Firefox to access it. Making the script work on Safari and Chrome is for another day.

Posted on Jan 29, 2011

Why Twitter Not?

I am back on Twitter, more than 6 months after I made a conscious decision to keep away from it for a while.

Being one of the earliest users at Twitter, I did not really feel the need for it until I left Cisco, its vast network of brilliant people, and the constant exchange of ideas and information. The move was multiple relocations rolled into one – the relocation from the swarming Cisco cloud to a decrepit 2-man office; from the confined yet anonymous, responsibility-free existence of a nuclear family in Bangalore to the satisfying, distraction-filled joint family existence back home; from the cutting edge of networking technologies to bleeding at the edge of biotechnology without formal training; from the comfort of concentrated technical work to the distractions of administering a start-up. This coincided with Twitter’s bursting upon the global scene, the network effect finally taking it past that critical velocity below which new web startups live constantly resisting crashes and burn-outs. Cut-off from the IT network, Twitter was my saviour, my new link to my old world, which people kept calling the new world.

But Twitter was new territory. I was excited by the freedom of being able to write down thoughts at will, to be read by an actual audience that provides instant feedback. The 140-character limit was counter-intuitively liberating; the freedom from grammatical structure and increased opportunity to play with words brought in a freshness that was exhilarating. Twitter was the Liril of the Web.

The whole world stumbled on it, new opportunities and new pitfalls were discovered, sometimes by people of eminence who suddenly found themselves on slippery slopes. Though insulated by obscurity, I too discovered that Twitter was not the dawn of a whole new free unselfish world. I learned that it was very easy to shoot my mouth off, without assessing consequences. I learned that being frank in Twitter poses the same dangers brought about by naïve frankness in life. I learned that recording my every action and thought every day on an online platform opens me up as a target of analysis – Twitter is not really a diary, a tool for confessions. I learned that using Twitter with absolute frankness takes away my power to lie, an essential life-skill. I learned that my personal opinions on politics, society and culture, aired freely on Twitter builds a profile that might not fit with the image that my business wants me to project as its representative.

Yet I could not write without being frank – my writing, however limited it might be, has to reflect my opinions and values. Yes, it has to, as long as I can clearly mark it as personal writing unconnected with other entities that I represent. As long as I can be sure that what I write is my opinion, what I would like to be recorded and published as my opinion, not just a fleeting thought aired in a conversation.

Twitter is a powerful communications and networking tool. It is a great business application. But unless I remain anonymous, lines drawn in life shall extend to online life as well. For Second Life is also Life.

I am back on Twitter.