Monthly Archives: August 2011

Window Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts help make our work easier. In this post I will be listing a few keyboard shortcuts that help modify certain properties of the windows that are opened by us, without using the mouse.

Alt+F4 This helps in closing a window.
Alt+F5 This shortcut helps restore the window to the original size.
Alt+F7 This is to switch between the current window in any direction.(You need not keep the mouse pressed to drag the window. With this shortcut you can move the window size using the up/down arrow key.)
Alt+F8 This is to re size the current window.
Alt+F9 This helps minimize the currently open window.
Alt+F10 This shortcut maximizes the window recently closed.
Ctrl+Alt+Left/Right Cursor This is to help switch between Work spaces. This may not work on some computers but do work on most of the systems.
Alt+Tab This is to switch between alternate windows that you have already opened in the background of the presently open window. Press Alt+Tab and then release the Tab key. Then press it again to choose between the list of windows open in the background. After choosing the window release the tab key and the desired window appears on the screen.
Ctrl+Alt+Tab This is to switch between the windows open in all working spaces and not only the ones that we are currently working on. Just like the previous command , press Alt+Ctrl+Tab and then release the Tab key while keeping on pressing the Alt and Ctrl keys. Now use the Tab key to select from the windows on the screen.

Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated since it marks the birthday of Lord Ganesha, the son of Lord Shiva and Parvati. According to the Hindu calendar it is celebrated in the month of Bhaadrapada on shukla chaturthi, the fourth day of waxing of moon. Starting on the fourth day, the festival lasts for ten days, that is , it starts on the fourth day and ends on the fourteenth day of the month – Anant Chaturthi. The festival usually falls between August 15th and September 20th. This year, the festival is from 1st September to 10th September.

Ganesha Chaturthi celebrations in India

 The festival is celebrated in  India, Nepal and Fiji in Asia and also by the Indians residing in USA. As a part of the celebration, idols of Ganesha are made by skilled artisans and sold. The people buy these idols and bring them home. The size of the idol may vary from a few inches to about 25 feet or so. Small temporary mandapas(pandals) are erected in the nook and corner of every road and every lane. The mandapas are decorated very beautifully with flowers. The idols are also very grandly made based on religious themes or current events.The priests then do pooja(rites and rituals). They invoke life in the idols. This is called Pranaprathishta. This rite is then followed by the Shodashopachara. The word means offerings to the Lord in sixteen ways like 21 modakas, coconut, jaggery, 21 durvas(a type of grass).  Throughout the ceremony the Rig Veda, the Ganapati Atharva Veda, the Ganesha Ashtothara and the Narada Purana are chanted. For ten days the idol is worshipped and then on the eleventh day, the idol is carried through the streets accompanied by singing and dancing, to immerse it in a nearby water body. This ceremony is known as Ganapati Visarjan. The Ganapati Visarjan is also done on the 3rd, 7th, or 9th day by those keeping idols in their homes(depending upon their tradition.

Ganesha Chaturthi celebration in Paris

Outside India in countries like USA, Nepal and Fiji also the festival is celebrated. It is celebrated in some of the European countries like Paris, Liverpool, etc. . In USA the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh is a community that holds organizes programmes to mark Hindu festivals. In Canada also Ganesha Chaturthi is celebrated by the Indians residing there. The celebration of Ganesha Chaturthi in Mauritius dates back to almost 1896. A family of the name Bhiwajee was the first one to start celebrating the festival in Mauritius and the tradition is still being continued. The festival has gained so much popularity that the day of Ganesha Chaturthi has been declared a public holiday for the people of Mauritius.

Environmental Impact

Natural Bodies affected by the immersing of plaster icons into them

In olden days the Ganesha idols used to be made with clay. Traditionally , the idols were made out of soil taken from the backyard of one’s own home. After the divinity in the Earth icon was worshipped, it was returned to the Earth by immersing it in a nearby water body, thus completing the cycle of creation and dissolution in Nature. But that is not the case today. Today, they are being made with Plaster of Paris. This is the most important aspect of Ganesha Chaturthi on the environment. When idols made of Plaster of Paris are immersed into the lakes or oceans or seas, the acidity of the water increases and so does the quantity of heavy metals in the water. On the day following the one on which the plaster icons are immersed, shoals of dead fish can be seen on the shores.

Some of the solutions suggested by the non-governmental organizations are as follows :

  • Re – introducing the methods of making idols out of clay and soil.
  • Using an idol made of stone and brass and using every year, instead of immersing.
  • Recycling the idols made of plaster and painting them again so that they can be used the next year.
  • Introducing a ban on dumping idols made of plaster into the natural water bodies(Instead, they can be dumped into tanks).
  • Using biodegradable materials like paper mache to make idols.

Happy Ganesha Chaturthi !!!

Spy Pen Camera

This is a gadget that greatly interested me. It is basically a mini Digital Video Recorder and one of the very few of its kind. Not often do you find cameras concealed in pens. The high quality recorder helps in legal cases where the police and lawyers may need evidences. The cameras has a resolution of 2 million pixels. It has a USB 2.0 port and is compatible. It is easy to plug and play. It also has a built -in microphone. It is 150 mm long, 15 mm wide and 15 mm thick and weighs 70g. It is available in silver and black colors.

You could wear this small pen innocently in your shirt pocket or place it on your desk or organizer. You could even start writing something while the camera does its job of recording.

Spy Pen Camera

Some of its features are as follows :

  • It has a built-in memory of 2 GB, 4 GB,8 GB.
  • The battery is a built-in rechargeable Lithium Battery.
  • It can easily be plugged into the PC and played.
  • It can record up to 4 hours at a stretch.
  • Power supply is through the USB port.
  • Video Format – AVI(640 480 pixels).
  • Audio Video Voice Format – PCM 128 KB/s.
  • It has a Data Transfer Rate of 700 KB/s (reading) and 600 KB/s(writing).
  • It has a video frame rate of 15FPS.


We, the students of Amrita School of Engineering(Amritapuri)  have a group called SFIH(Students Forum for Indian Heritage). The group works on preserving and exploring the excellence of the Indian heritage and culture. The group organises different trips to places in India, which are rich in ancient and history but the people do not know of it. Apart from this, the group also organize  weekly activities and speeches by famous people about the tradition of India. For those people who want to know about the Forum, the website is almost over. You can visit the site. I will mention it in one of my future posts.

The other day as a part of the events related to the forum, we went to Cochin. At Amrita, a Sanskrit course is being offered for those who want to learn the language in a month. There were people from seven nations who were learning Sanskrit. Along with them there were twenty Engineering students(among which I was one,. We went to Veliyanad, a place in Cochin, to see a performance by very experienced performers, of Kudiyattom. They were to enact a scene from Ramayana – Balivadhom.

A scene from Balivadhom when Sugreeva meets Rama(from left : Rama, Laxmana, Sugreeva, Hanuman)

Kudiyattom is one of the four  art-forms of Kerala(India), the others being Kathakali, Krishnanattom and Mohiniyattom. It is believed to be 2000 years old. The art-form had its origin in the 17th century. ‘Kudi’ means together and ‘attom’ means perform. The word means performing in front of a group. They usually enact parts of the Ramayana or Mahabharata or a Sanskrit Drama on the stage. The performance is accompanied by music.The instrument played is Mizhavu. Along with the Mizhavu we also have the kuzhithalam. The mizhavu is kept in Mizhavana, a wooden box. The art-form is usually performed by Chakyars and Nangyars(who play the musical instrument kuzhithalam). The makeup is very heavy and takes 2-3 hours to put on. They have different types of make-up for different characters. There is a green paint on the face of a noble character.

The performance was absolutely breathtaking. It usually lasts for an hour or so. My friends and I had not seen Kudiyattom before though we had heard of it and that too, when we had to study of Kerala History(which included the different art-forms of Kerala). In the art-form people perform in Sanskrit. It is not in the ordinary version of the language. They include intonation  when they speak. The main reason that we were taken was because the play would be performed in Sanskrit and the foreigners who were learning Sanskrit would benefit from this. There are no words to describe the performance. In this art-form, the performers have to be a good speaker apart from being a good dancer. This is because between  the performance the actors shout out the dialogues. These have to said in a specific tone with swaras. They are not just spoken. The mizhavu needs a lot of force and effort to play. It is a percussion instrument. There was perfect coordination between the musicians and the performers. For every movement of the hand there is a different beat. Were the musicians in front, they would have easily known when to change the beat. But the musicians sit at the back while the performers play in front of them. Thus, the musicians do not know when to change the beat. This comes only out of practice. In the performance that we saw, they did wonderfully well. The coordination was awesome.

Tara persuading Bali not to fight with Sugreeva

As I mentioned earlier, the play was based on the killing of Bali (Balivadhom) from Ramayana. Bali and Sugreeva were two monkey brothers. Bali was the eldest and the king of the monkey kingdom. Once he went to the forests for penance, and never returned. Sugreeva, the younger brother thought that he was dead and took over as the king of the kingdom. But after sometime, Bali returned and to his great anger saw that Sugreeva was ruling in his place. He then started creating problems for Sugreeva.

That was when Lord Rama meets Sugreeva. Lord Rama was in the forest searching for Seeta who had been abducted by Ravana. On his way, the Lord sees Sugreeva and asks him what his problem was. Sugreeva narrates his story and Rama decides to help him. Sugreeva, confident that someone was ready to help him, challenges Bali for a fight. Had Rama decided not to help him, Sugreeva would probably never have gathered the courage to challenge Bali, because Bali was undoubtedly the stronger of the two. But he challenged him. During the battle Rama hid near by and struck an arrow at Bali. When Bali dies, he tries to find out from where the arrow came. With great difficulty he takes out the arrow from his chest and finds the name Rama inscribed on the end of the arrow. He then understands that it was Rama who shot the arrow. He asks Rama why he shot the arrow. He says that he had not done anything wrong to Rama and that they had not even met before. To this Rama gives an appropriate reply and there ends the play.


Coming to the performers, they were brilliant, absolutely mind blowing. The make up was such as to accentuate the expressions of the artists. The play was divided into three scenes -the first on was that of Rama and Laxmana meeting Sugreeva along with Hanuman. In the scene Sugreeva narrates to Rama what had happened between him and Bali. It is also in this scene that Rama decides to help him. The second scene was that of Sugreeva challenging his brother and Bali thinking about it. Bali thinks of it for a long time. He is angered by the fact that Sugreeva has challenged him to fight. His wife Tara asks him not to go. But Bali, being the typical male that he was, tells her that she does not know of his power. And he narrate two instances to show that he was a really strong monkey. In spite of Tara’s repeated requests, he does not pay heed to her and agrees to accept the challenge. In the third seen, the two brothers are found to be fighting and when Bali almost defeats Sugreeva, Rama shoots the arrow and Bali dies.

Among the performers, my favorite was The artist who played the role of Rama. Second best would be the one who enacted Bali. He had the longest role to play and some scenes required a great amount of effort and skill to  be enacted. He did it in a wonderful manner.  The performance lasted for about two hours. It was an unforgettable experience and I am so glad that I decided to go with them. Given a chance to watch Kudiyattom being performed again, I would gladly watch it.

Formatting Memory

Do you know how to format the memory on your hardware ? If you do not know, then you have come to the right place. The process is very easy.

  • Type the Linux command ‘df’.This Linux command shows you the free disk space in your computer.(To know more about the command you can always go to its manual page. Just type man followed  by the command. This goes for all the Linux commands.)
  • After this go to System at the top and choose Administration. Choose Disk Utility. From the side bar on the left, choose 250 GB Hard Disk.
  • Under the heading Volumes, it shown how the memory in the disk has been divided between the extensions.
  • Click on the part of the memory that you want to format and choose Format Volume from below. A box appears that gives the option of choosing from the different types of extensions. Some of the extensions are ntfs, ext1, ext2, ext3, ext4, etc.(ntfs partition is chosen if you can share the space between Windows as well as Linux.). Give it any name that you want.
  • Go back to the terminal and give the command ‘sudo blkid’. This command requires root privilege since you are trying to format the memory of the system. (You obviously need the permission of the owner or the head of the system to do that.) This command is to find out the uuid of the different memory space partitions present in your system.
  • Copy the UUID of the id of the system whose memory space you want to format and type the command vim /etc/fstab. This is a file sort of thing already present in the system and you are using vim editor to edit it. Once the file has been opened, you see that there is already something that is written inside the file.
  • You have to type the UUID, followed by the memory partition where you want to mount it. Then you type the type of partition that you have chosen(like ntfs or ext1, etc.). This is then followed by the mounting options. For that you give ‘errors=remount-ro      0       1’. This is done so that if there are any errors in while mounting the partition the system removes it and remounts it. The extension ro is given so that it is in the ‘read only’ mode.
  • Now you have to go back to disk utility and and choose the 250 GB Hard Disk. Choose mount memory. It will ask you the root password. Enter the password and click OK.

This is how you format a memory. I hope you find it useful.