Thursday, August 28, 2014


As much as my mom might roll her eyes at hearing this, I'm not too much of a fan of clutter. Especially on my gadgets.

I've spent hours organizing my music collection (using a fantastic tool called Tag&Rename) and I kinda get a kick out of photo organizing.

When I got my first computer, I quickly saw the merit of the 'Quick Launch' toolbar, a handy place to keep all the rubbish at bay. It was our cheap version of the cool icon-bar on Apple computer. However, as Windows got more evolved (I use that term cautiously), the Quick Launch bar went away and caused me immense distress. Until I discovered a workaround. It's pretty simple.

Step One: Right click the Taskbar, and deselect 'Lock The Taskbar'. Then drag it to increase its height.

Step Two: Create a folder - call it Toolbar (or anything else you fancy, really). Keep it anywhere. You won't be accessing it much.

Step Three: Right click the toolbar. Go to Toolbars -> New Toolbar. Navigate to select the 'Toolbar' folder you've just created. Voila! Your 'toolbar' is created there, and now you can drag and drop shortcuts and create your own Quick Launch. 

Right click and deselect 'Show text' and 'Show title'.

Step Four: Drag and drop shortcuts of apps you commonly use onto this little toolbar.

And there you have it! All the commonly used programs are right down there. Making it easy for you to access them. If there are certain files that you access regularly as well (For eg: I have an Expenses file and a cycling log whose Excels are linked down there so I don't have to navigate every time I need to make an entry).

Oh, and a couple more things:

1. I hate having icons on the desktop. A clean desktop is more therapeutic than you think. It also forces you to keep new downloads / documents in folders they should be in rather than the most convenient location. It's easy to hide icons from the desktop. See?

2. If your computer is slow to start, it could be because there are lots of rubbish apps (Adobe Acrobat updater, anyone?) that feel compelled to start when the computer starts. Thankfully, you can disable all of them. Go to your start bar, and type in 'msconfig.exe'. Then go to 'Startup' and uncheck whatever you don't want at startup. Some tools might be useful, of course, like your antivirus, but in general, you can safely uncheck most of these.

There we go. Hope this helps :D

Friday, August 08, 2014


Ok, you young idiot.

Yes you.

Firstly - the good news. You'll still have hair when you turn 30. But not by much. Also, you're married to an awesome woman. I don't want to spill the beans about that here (why take away from the joy of discovery?). All I will say is - keep an active interest in audio products, especially ones that play lossless files. Also, yes - you'll end up in MICA and advertising, like you wanted. Living the dream of wearing shorts to office and making PPTs at 11 PM.

However, life is not all hunky-dory. There are going to be some ups and some very downing downs, but I can't tell you about them, because, heck, you love Back To The Future as much as I do, and you know what happens when you go mucking around with the space-time continuum too much.

However, here's some advice for you. Keep these things in mind, won't you?

I know. Most boring start ever. But seriously, this will make more difference to your life than the Darcy-Weishbach Equation ever will. You'll start earning soonish. Just plonk away a teeny amount like 1000 a month into an RD or something. Do some compound interest calculations and (to use 2014 lingo), what happens next will astonish you.

No, really, you idiot. Stop hogging at Thrissur AFC and get a good mutual fund instead.

You stay in freakin' Kerala. Most people around the world would do anything to be where you are (no, not in the hostel exactly - but you get my point). Tons of your batchmates go on bike rides. Join them. That way, you won't be spending your 30th birthday wondering how to pack all that you want to do in 5 days of an upcoming Kerala trip. Just... Go. Discover. Do. Click. Soak it in.

Write and draw.
You used to draw some decent comics when you were in school. You stopped while at college. Don't. Keep drawing. Soon, the internet will allow you to publish stuff online. Write. Write a lot. Regularly. That way, some of the stuff you do publicly online later will be less embarrassing. And trust me - there's a lot of rubbish out there with your name on it.

Listen to a lot of music.
You're stuck in a rut of listening to the same 30 songs over and over again. Explore new genres. Rock, metal, prog, classic, world, Mallu film... There's so much to listen to, and when you're 30, you'll feel like you wasted your 20s not listening to at least 1 TB by now. (Haha, you don't know what a TB is... How cute. Wiki it. Oh wait.)

Make music. Even if it's bad.
Soon, you'll be in a place which has talented musicians, a recording studio, a captive audience and tons of free time. Take advantage of all of that. Play stuff. Record. You'll never get that opportunity again. Going to MICA and not making music is like going to Barbeque Nation and eating paneer. Just publish something to call your own.

Value free time.
Treasure every free minute. And dammit, do something. You while away way too much time. Get off your arse. Exercise. Lose that flab. Go for a walk. Explore the cities you've stayed in but know jack about. Do anything. Just don't laze around. You gotta look back at each day and say, "Yeah, I did something awesome today."

Do this and you'll be fine. I wonder if my 40-year-old self would be kind enough to send me a letter, now...

Your just-turned-30 self.

Saturday, May 31, 2014


The room was abuzz with activity. Journalists uncomfortably shifted in their chairs, murmuring among themselves. Rivals from various TV channels forgot their contractual obligation to confidentiality, and freely discussed things that had been going through the grapevine. For, if what was being rumoured was indeed true, it would change the landscape of India’s favourite sport for ever.

The murmur suddenly reached a crescendo, and then fell to absolute silence. He’d come. Lalit Kumar Modi. Some say the most powerful person in the ICC, the one who really calls all the shots.

Modi took his seat, and quietly surveyed an army of journalists and cricket enthusiasts in front of him. He spotted a few legends of the game as well, some not from India. He knew very well the implications of what he was about to say – it would draw flak from the pundits, shock among the masses and panic amongst advertisers. He knew it all. But ‘Lalz’ was a brave man. Despite a voice frequency which could make a tuning fork move on its own, he knew how to get into dangerous and controversial things. And pull them off. After all, he was the kingpin in his school Tazo mafia. A quick thought of him exchanging a worthless Cheeto Tazo for a prized international Lay’s one from a ‘gelf’ Mallu sucker flickered through his mind. He smiled briefly and then let out a puff of air. It was time.

“Ladies and gentlemen, thank you all for coming”, he delivered. “Our great sport, started by our British and Australian ancestors in the 1870s, has come a long way. From Grace to Bradman to Sobers to Lillee to Richards to Tendulkar to Murali. It’s been a journey. But change has been constant, my friends. And we must endeavour to move with the times.”

The crowd took in a small gasp. They knew what was coming.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it is my honour, privilege and deep responsibility to unveil before you, The World Test Cricket Championship.”

The crowd stared. They knew precisely this was what would happen, yet they couldn’t believe this was happening. The journalists took it all down, not wanting to miss a moment. This would shape the future of cricket as they knew it.

“The top eight T20 teams in the world will now battle it out over a period of ten years to decide to World Test champion. But, I sense unrest among a lot of you, and would like to assure you that this will have no impact on the current T20 or ODI schedules. The yearly World Cup of each will continue to happen, we will continue to have the IPL, but we must embrace this new format, which is making waves around the world. This IS the future of cricket.”

There were questions galore, but no one knew where to start. Lalit saw this all and continued to smile. Perhaps now he could continue, he had prepared a long speech for all eventualities.
“See, over 130 years ago, when England and Australia played that first T20 match, when Charles Bannerman scored the now legendary 57 not out off 33 balls, little did we know how cricket would evolve. Many things have come and gone since. The scoops and reverse sweeps have made way for cover drives and square cuts. Those of you who watch grainy images of Don Bradman’s epic 166*, the highest T20 score to date, will attest to that fact. The rebellious Kerry Packer, in a bid to increase the amount of advertiser revenue possible, staged ‘longer’ matches, which he called One Day cricket. And to the horror of many people, he started using white uniforms regularly to distinguish his so-called one-day league! But today, it is accepted practice to wear whites and no one really raises a fuss.”

“Last year, after a complaint by some of the counties in Papua New Guinea complained they were not getting enough matches, the PNGCB came across a novel idea – a three-day match of 50 overs per day... With two innings. Many of you remember that, I remember there being much criticism in the press... Your press... About the same. How the world’s top T20 country could do something that could kill the game! But the floodgates opened! People loved this new method. Cricketers loved it too! They said it didn’t have the frenetic pace of T20, and could focus on constructing an innings.”

“RUBBISH!”, screamed a legendary Malaysian T20 cricketer from the crowd, part of the 1977 World Cup winning squad. “Constructing an innings? What nonsense! It’s all this new generation and their lazy attitude! In our days, we’d just get out there in our coloured outfits and smash the bloody ball around! The worst kids would be given the ball, to teach ‘em a frikkin’ lesson. Why, we used to thwap sixes the height of the Petronas in those days...”

Modi sighed. He expected backlash. “I agree to your point, sir. But this is not 1977 anymore. Things have changed. There are more youngsters interested in building their technique and defence. And what’s more, bowlers are starting to feel marginalized, and have got better. Infact...”, and he knew this statement was going to bring the house down, “I have made it mandatory for each team to select bowlers on merit.”

The din took five minutes to subside. “Defence?!” screamed a pundit. “What new-fangled rot!” and left the room in disgust.

A journalist, known for his statistical bent of mind, took the audience mic. “Sir, this is very brave. But... Everything’s going to change. What will a good innings be now? A batsman has virtually unlimited time to score runs. Will we be seeing scores of 200s and 300s made by a single batsman?”

“It could very well happen. The idea is to give a batsman time to construct an innings and the bowler, being a vital part of the game, will aim to outfox the batsman proactively rather than hoping for an error. We’re hoping that someone will be able to better Shane Warne’s 2/4.”

Some of the audience couldn’t fathom it. A bowler taking more than 2 wickets in a game! Things would never be the same! What would happen to the IPL, the institutional tournament which was into its 23rd year? How would players be able to handle the heat and conditions for 5 straight days, for over 80 overs per day? All this fitness nonsense was going to ruin the game, many felt.

Modi smiled, realising his work was done. “On a parting note, friends. I’d just like to tell you not be afraid of change. Yes, this may seem too much and too daring. But it could have easily been the other way round. Imagine if we had started out with Test cricket instead, and slowly changed to T20 over the years. Imagine if Bradman were a Test cricketer – imagine the number of runs he would have scored! Imagine if bowlers were given competent wickets to bowl on all this while, they might actually have had a role to play. Why, some of them might have picked up all ten wickets in an innings!”

At this last point, the audience burst into laughter. Modi’s legendary wit had worked again. And at once, they knew it was alright. Change was inevitable. Yes, many could picture parody articles on cricket websites for the next few days (“Modi proposes timeless Test matches”, one satirist was already thinking up). There would be flak.

But that was how cricket had to evolve if it were to keep up with the other sports of the world. T20 cricket was for too long snubbed by Americans as being ‘mentally bland’, compared to the intellectual requirement of golf or 3-day baseball. Perhaps Test cricket was that lease of life that was required to save cricket.

In a corner in his room in Bangalore, a young cricketer who’d never been able to break into the India T20 team smiled. Rahul Dravid knew his time had come.


This piece was originally published on Yahoo! Cricket.