Monday, June 30, 2008

It's Iron Ore, Stupid!












Economist and NYT columnist Paul Krugman, in a recent article, pointed out something that startled me, not just because it implies dire consequences, but also because it's so obvious!

Let me explain. The relentless, near-vertical rise of crude oil over the past year has been attributed to many-a-factor. Growth in developing countries, poor supply growth, petropolitics, gas-guzzling cars and everything else. But one argument has been particularly appealing to politicians and OPEC leaders: speculators.

What does that mean? Well, a speculator is someone who 'thinks' a commodity is going to be overvalued in the future and thus, he buys lost and lots of that commodity in the futures market. Everyone else would hear the false alarms rung by him and buy at higher prices too. Then, he would sell that contract for a higher price, booking his profits without any demand-supply logic.

Invariably, the interaction between the financial markets and the commodities market have seen oil prices jumping. And till I read Paul Krugman's article, I was also of the opinion that speculators were to blame for the crisis, and that we could head back to the days of $50/bbl of oil.

But then, there's a problem: iron ore. You see, it is a known fact that iron ore is not traded on any International exchange, rather, its price is set in a deal between producers and consumers each year. Consequently, you'd think that iron ore prices would remain stable if there really were not speculation (since there is no market as such, there cannot be any speculation). But the truth is that iron ore prices have also nearly doubled over the previous year. Where's the speculation now?

Of course, I knew of the iron ore situation but I wasn't able to look at it from a broader perspective, until I read Krugman's article.

I have thus concluded that we will run out of oil one day (this might seen a simple fact to some but to politicians, it is nothing short of a disaster). The only way out of this slick is to develop clean, alternative fuels. Hydrogen cells, solar energy, wind energy: there's plenty of free energy to go around. If only we'd try to study the possibilities.

Students Gear Up for Extended Hours

WEEK 58 DAY 1


Sri Chaitanya IIT Academy, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Jun. 30: The VP has informed students that she was unable to convince the Director of the benefits of the compromise package reached on the new timings. Thus, the new formula, much the same as the original, envisions classes from 7:30 AM to 3:30 PM, a test from 3:30 PM to 4:30 PM and study hours from 4:30 to 6:30 PM (the reduction from 7:00 to 6:30 is the only change).

However, whether the move is practical is another matter. Already, amny students have threatened to openly disobey the VP. However, OTFS has learned exclusively that ten days hence, the top-scoring students would be allowed to go home earlier. There is some logic to the argument: if the top-scorers were allowed to go home to study from Day 1 itself, then everyone with good or bad marks would line up for similar treatment. To avoid this, the ten day windows has been extablished.

AIEEE Results
OTFS has exclusive access to the results of Saturday's AIEEE Test. Namrata of S1 topped with 230/306, followed by Sushobhan (222), Divya (215) and Abhidarshan (200). The VP has expressed her dissatisfaction at the Chemistry marks, which were abysmal.

IIT Unit Test-2
The IIT Unit Test conducted today was a spolier for most students. Maths Paper-1 and 2 were rated an amazingly low C (very difficult) on the Instant Poll, while Physics was given a BB. Impressively, Organic Chemistry was the easiest of the papers, with many students beting at a 50+ score.

Mr. Sanjay Singh has told S1 that in Kukatpally, the matrix-matching software has been installed. It is just a metter of time before the same is done in SR Nagar as well. (OTFS)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Tribute to India's Greatest Soldier

A hero, an inspiration and a great human being: Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw is all that and more. He fought against the Axis Powers during the Second World War and, after Independence, masterminded the war to free Bangladesh. He was India's first Field Marshall.

Affectionately called Sam "Bahadur" by his Gorkha Regiment, he had a flair for witty comments and taking on politicians. He once quipped that anyone who says he is not afraid of anything is either a liar or a Gorkha!

As a leader, Manekshaw inspired his troops, instilling courage and hope in them. As a person, he was a role model, a true patriot and one of India's greatest soldiers.

Sam "Bahadur" passed away in Tamil Nadu on Jun. 27, 2008, at the age of 94. He will be remembered forever by the people of this great nation.

[In Pics]

United in Unity










In a move that would give the Republicans nightmares, Democratic Presidential Nominee Barack Obama staged a joint rally with former rival Hillary Clinton. The venue: a little place called Unity in New Hampshire.

This is a tactically important move as Obama needs to win Clinton's voters to his side in order to take on Republican Nominee John McCain. But that's not all: Clinton needs Obama or rather Obama's money to pay back her failed campaign's debt, said to be near $20 million.

'I've admired her as a leader, I've learned from her as a candidate. She rocks. She rocks,'' said Obama.

Could we be headed for an Obama-Clinton ticket? Only time will tell...

Feedback: otfs@rediff.com

Congress Prepares for Polls


The Congress Party has made up its mind to fully back the PM on the India-US Civilian Nuclear Cooperation Agreement. Congress Supremo Sonia Gandhi raised the election war cry today by asking party workers to highlight the achievements of the party, such as the NREGA, Loan Waiver Scheme, Bharat Nirman etc.

Furthermore, in a strong-worded statement issued after CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat blamed the PM for the political crisis, the Congress called the Left's opposition to the deal 'absurd.'

''The party is backing the Prime Minister and he is part of the party,'' said Congress spokesperson Veerappa Moily.


The party reiterated that India's nuclear power plants work at less than 50% of their capacity (this is a fact states by former President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam as well). Thus, India needs to import uranium, which costs just a fraction of crude oil today. It added that if India were to grow at 9-10% annually, nuclear energy was necessary.

It also claimed that the Left's opposition to the deal was ideological rather than rational. The Congress, which is currently looking to the SP to keep the UPA alive, seems to be preparing for early polls as well.

With UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi fully backing the PM, it seems all over for the UPa-Left bonhomie. If it ever really existed, that is.

[With inputs from NDTV]

Happy Birthday to Me!


Man, it was just a year ago! Time flies really fast...
Now that its my birthday, I've got no resolutions to make. But where will I be next year?
One thing is for sure, one year from now, I'll be sleeping late and waking up even later. With the burden of entrance exams off my shoulders, I might even take the time to watch more movies.

Then again, the results of those exams would have also been declared. Maybe I'll be packing my bags for IIT-K/M(C?)/H. Or maybe IIIT is where I'll be headed. Or, BITS might be in the offing. Heck, maybe I'll get into VIT too!

What about my friends? My old BVBPS friends would always be there with me. My new friends... well, I hope they'll stay on.

And what do I want to learn from this year? The art of efficiency... that's by far the most important thing right now.

Cheers!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Goodbye William!

Bill Gates, the man who led the software behemoth Microsoft in its march towards numero uno, will spend the last day of his 33-year old career in Microsoft today. He will now be spending more time with his charity, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

[CNN]

Record Oil Prices Push Down Asian Markets





Soaring oil prices have caused a sharp fall in Asian stock markets, with investors worried of a possible wave of monetary tightening and slowdown in demand.

China's Shanghai Composite fell 5% to a 16-month low, while India's Sensex fell 4.3% to this year's low. In India, inflation touched a 13-year high of 11.42% [NDTV Profit], with the RBI having recently raised rates.

The situation was grim elsewhere as well. The Dow Jones fell 3% to a near two-year low.Germany's XETRA DAX was down 0.8%, while the London FTSE was up marginally by 0.1%. Tokyo Nikkei 225 fell 2%, with Sony Corp. losing 4.3%.

The only blip of green in the ocean of red was the Thailand Exchange, which gained 0.2% after internal political developments.

[With inputs from CNN Money]

Compromise Formula Reached

WEEK 57 DAY 5


Sri Chaitanya IIT Academy, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Jun. 27: Crucial talks between the VP and the students of S1 yielded a compromise formula. Although the morning timing of 7:30 AM stands (some students have decalred that they simply cannot make it that early, to no avail), the new proposal is fairly attractive.

The new formula, approved by the major powers of S1, are as follows:
  • College will begin at at 7:30 AM, with an extra break from 8:20 to 8:30 AM.
  • Classes end by 3:30 PM.
  • After 3:30 PM, the class would be divided into groups based on marks scored and average potential. Then, each group would be given an assignment/practice test consisting of anywhere between 15 to 22 questions (in total) from all the subjects.
  • Students can take as much time as they need to complete the assignments/practice tests. However, an average time of at least one hour per person is estimated.
  • After the students have finished their assignments, they can go to their lecturers to clear any doubts they might have.
  • Lecturers can also assign some work to students after they finish their assignments.
  • Once a students is finished with his or her assignment, and if a lecturer has not given him or her any work, he or she can go home.
  • There is no uniform time for students to go home. A student who studies well will be allowed to go home at an earlier time than a student who doesn't.
However, the feasibility of the deal, particularly that of providing a daily assignment, is a practical matter. The main reason the students approved of the deal is because there is a window of opportunity for a student to go home even before 4:30 PM, if he or she can finish the assignments and alloted work quickly enough. (OTFS)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bandh Prevents Crucial Talks

WEEK 57 DAY 4


Sri Chaitanya IIT Academy, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Jun. 26: Students of S1 were scheduled to meet the VP over the contentious issue of the new timings. However, the meeting was postponed on account of a bandh called by some outfits.

At 12:20 PM, political activists charged through the IIT Campus and ordered all students to leave. Mrs. Jhansi, with whom OTFS spoke to shortly after the incident, said that she didn't feel the necessity to hold the students of S1 back. Students of the other campuses were left a few hours back.

Now, the crucial meeting will have to be held either tomorrow or on Saturday. If not, there would only be a tiny window of opportunity left on Monday. Sources have told OTFS that the VP proposes to hold daily practising tests (DPTs) during the extra three hours. However, a similar move last year failed miserably.

Students Transferred
As though to warn students of S1, the VP shifted Mounik and Aakash to S3 from S1 with immediate effect. The reason cited for this was their poor marks in all the recent exams. However, students suspect a foul connotation. The decks are now paired for an all-out showdown.

Many parents have also expressed their anger over the new timings. Some of them have asked the students to ignore the timings and bunk college, if necessary. Others have said that they would fight it out with the VP and even the Principal himself. Ironically, some parents have welcomed the new timings.

The situation in S1, now desribed as being 'tense,' has heightened the CBSE/ICSE-SSC divide in the class. CBSE and ICSE students blame the SSC system, which encourages the extended-hours system, while SSC students (with the exception of a few) have denied such allegations. (OTFS)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

RBI Hikes CRR, Repo Rate





Taking a tough stance against the rising inflation, the Reserve Bank of India raised the Cash Reserve Ration (CRR) by 50 bps and the repo rate by by a similar, though staggered, margin. CRR is the percentage of funds a bank has to park with the RBI, while the repo rate is the rate at which banks can borrow from the RBI for short-terming lending.

The move comes soon after inflation in India touched a 13-year high of 11.05% under the Manmohan Singh Government. As per the Reserve Bank of India Act (1935), maintaining economic growth and lowering inflation are the RBI's twin objectives.

The new move will suck out Rs. 20,000 crores from the market. The CRR will be raised to 8.5% with immediate effect while the repo rate will be raised to 8.75% in two instalments.

RBI Governor YV Reddy added that although the spike in inflation was primarily due to the rising cost of crude oil, there were also some underlying pressures in the monetary markets. The RBI has vowed to take more measures to bring down inflation.

[With inputs from The Times of India]

Improvements Results Declared




WEEK 57
DAY 3


Sri Chaitanya IIT Academy, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Jun. 25:
The results of the IPE Advanced Supplementary Exam (IPA) (the "Improvements") were formally announced by the BIE today.

Students can obtain their results via the following sites: http://examresults.ap.nic.in, http://results.sify.com, www.myguruonline.net, www.rediff.com, www.aarvy.com, www.examresults.net, www.resultsonmobile.com, www.nettlinxresults.net, www.manabadi.co.in, www.manabadi.com, www.results.manabadi.co.in, www.groomingindia.com, www.go4result.com, www.greatgala.com, www.brainparlour.com, www.educationguide.co.in, www.schools9.com, www.manabadi.in, www.ourschool.in, www.pratibhaplus.com, www.studentwala.com, www.getyourresults.com, www.webdunia.net, www.andhracafe.com, www.ushasri.org and http://results.sol.net.in and www.bharatstudents.com.

You can also dial 1100 or 22222222 from any BSNL Landline phone (the latter will only work in Hyderabad). Similarly, Airtel users can dial 543212 or 1250108 or 552800. Vodafone users can dial 56731, Idea users can dial 5545678, Tata users can dial 12900 and Reliance users can dial 1234 for the results.

[Source: The Hindu]

Already, it is known that while Divya Ravi still tops the erstwile J1 with 463, the old second-place of 460 was replaced by Sushobhan Sen, who raised his score to 462 (98.3%).

Students Protest new Timings
According to a notification from the VP, all Sr. ICON sections will work from 7:30 AM to 7:00 PM with effect from July 1. However, students of S1 unanimously passed a motion to block the VP from enacting such a barbaric measure. Many parents have also vowed to prevent the college from imposing such timings.

OTFS has exclusively learned that the VP is ready to negotiate with students on the issue, although she has refused to compromise on the question of marks. She is however, ready to allow students who study well and get good marks to leave earlier.

The lecturers, Mr. Sanjay Singh, Mr. Vara Prasad and Mr. Akbar Kamal, ridiculed the move, saying that there was no way they (the lecturers) would stay till seven, at least not this early into the academic year.

Marks Released
The results for Monday's Maths and Physics IPE test were relased today. While some students performed very badly, many scored full marks in both. (OTFS)

UPA-Left Lay Final Road on N-Deal






The ninth meeting of the UPA-Left Coordination Committee on the Indo-US Nuclear Deal ended with no significant move ahead, except that a decision to hold just one more meeting and take a final decision on the historic agreement was taken.

According to a short statement read out by External Affairs Minister and Congress Chief Negotiator, all parties on the Indian side of the deal expressed their stand on it.

According to sources, the PM, who has been pushing hard for the deal, has been asked by party members to be more flexible on the issue. He might also skip the G8 Summit and send Mukherjee instead. Meanwhile, the Left has stuck to its stand that the deal will not happen.

[NDTV]
THIS IS A DEVELOPING STORY

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hanuman to Obama's Aid!










Democratic Presidential N0minee Barack Obama is all set to receive a quaint gift from an Indian temple. The Sankat Mochan Dham Hanuman temple in New Delhi will be presenting an idol of the monkey-God Hanuman to him after performing some traditional rituals.

The idol, which is gold-plated and weighs 15 kg, will be sent to him via one of the Democratic party's representatives, Carolene Saurce. The head priest of the temple also added that he would encourage Indian Americans to vote for the Illinois Senator.

The reason for thsi gift is a "good luck" charm that Obama was seen carrying, one that resembled a little Monkey God, which reminded the priests of Hanuman.

[CNN-IBN and IANS]

S1 Stays till 6:00 PM

WEEK 57 DAY 2


Sri Chaitanya IIT Academy, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Jun. 24: For the third time in two weeks, Mr. Sanjay Singh conducted classes for S1 from 4:10 to 6:00 PM, a move that has left many students disgruntled.

No students was allowed to leave before 5:55 PM, and he justified himself on the basis of Monday's IIT Exam.

Mrs. Jhansi Absent
The VP, who criticises students for being absent even for a single day, was herself absent today, much to S1's relief. (OTFS)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Hips Don't Lie

OK, this is officially my favourite song. Hips Don't Like, by Shakira, is a great song for any party. I decided to get my hands on the lyrics.

Hips Don't Lie lyrics

Ladies up in here tonight
No fighting, no fighting
We got the refugees up in here
No fighting, no fighting

Shakira, Shakira

I never really knew that she could dance like this
She makes a man want to speak Spanish,
Como se llama, bonita, mi casa, su casa
Shakira, Shakira

Oh baby when you talk like that
You make a woman go mad
So be wise and keep on
Reading the signs of my body

And I'm on tonight
You know my hips don't lie
And I'm starting to feel it's right
All the attraction, the tension
Don't you see baby, this is perfection

Hey Girl, I can see your body moving
And it's driving me crazy
And I didn't have the slightest idea
Until I saw you dancing

And when you walk up on the dance floor
Nobody cannot ignore the way you move
your body, girl
And everything so unexpected - the way
you right and left it
So you can keep on shaking it


I never really knew that she could dance like this
She makes a man want to speak Spanish
Como se llama, bonita, mi casa, su casa
Shakira, Shakira

Oh baby when you talk like that
You make a woman go mad
So be wise and keep on
Reading the signs of my body

And I'm on tonight
You know my hips don't lie
And I am starting to feel you boy
Come on let's go, real slow
Don't you see baby asi es perfecto

Oh I know I am on tonight my hips don't lie
And I'm starting to feel it's right
All the attraction, the tension
Don't you see baby, this is perfection
Shakira, Shakira

Oh boy, I can see your body moving
Half animal, half man
I don't, don't really know what I'm doing
But you seem to have a plan
My will and self restraint
Have come to fail now, fail now
See, I am doing what I can, but I can't so
you know
That's a bit too hard to explain

Baila en la calle de noche
Baila en la calle de dia
Baila en la calle de noche
Baila en la calle de dia

I never really knew that she could dance like this
She makes a man want to speak Spanish
Como se llama, bonita, mi casa, su casa
Shakira, Shakira

Oh baby when you talk like that
You know you got me hypnotized
So be wise and keep on
Reading the signs of my body

SeƱorita, feel the conga, let me see you
move like you come from Colombia

Mira en Barranquilla se baila asi, say it!
Mira en Barranquilla se baila asi

Yeah
She's so sexy every man's fantasy
a refugee like me back with the Fugees
from a 3rd world country
I go back like when 'pac carried crates for
Humpty Humpty
I need a whole club dizzy
Why the CIA wanna watch us?
Colombians and Haitians
I ain't guilty, it's a musical transaction
No more we do snatch ropes
Refugees run the seas 'cause we own our
own boats

I'm on tonight, my hips don't lie
And I'm starting to feel you boy
Come on let's go, real slow
Baby, like this is perfecto

Oh, you know I'm on tonight and my
hips don't lie
And I'm starting to feel it's right
The attraction, the tension
Baby, like this is perfection

No fighting
No fighting

See the full video on Youtube

Mugabe Wins Unopposed


Big surprise: Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has won the Presidential run-off without a single vote being cast, thanks to the opposition MDC's leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulling out of the election. The reason given for this is that the ruling ZANU-PF had made it impossible to hold free and fair elections.

CNN and BBC have reported that the opposition leader was detained several times by state-controlled police. Peaceful election rallies were banned or sabotaged. In short, Robert Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since Independence from Britain in 1980, refuses to give up power.

"Only God can pull me out of power," he said.

Mugabe faces a great deal of discontent in his country, as he oversaw the conversion of Zimbabwe from Africa's grain basket to a net-importer of food, where inflation is soon to hit two million percent!

There have also been reports that Opposition activists were beaten up by police forces and the entire army was ordered to vote for Mugabe or risk court marshal.

It is to be noted that BBC, CNN, Al-Jazeera and other news agencies are banned from reporting in Zimbabwe.

Juniors Face First IPE Test

WEEK 57 DAY 1


Sri Chaitanya IIT Academy, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Jun. 23: Students of the IIT campus faced an IPE Exam today. Although this is routine for the seniors, it was quite an experience for the Juniors, for whom this was the first such exam.

For the seniors, the Instant Poll rated the exm as very easy (AA). Although the grammar employed in the test was extremely poor, a major problem arose when a question in maths was unclear. The question wrote "pi 2" which could have meant "pi*2", "pi/2" or anything else (it meant "pi/2" according to Mr. Vara Prasad).

Too Many Assignments!
After Mr. Sanjay Singh's 202-question assignment, Mr. Vijay Bhaskar released an assignment to S1 today containing 33 questions. However, S1 categorically refused a timeline to complete the assignment, saying that they would do it whenever time allowed. (OTFS)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Inflation at 11.05%

laxndii

With inflation at 11.05%, the Congress and its allies are running helter-skelter, with nothing but elections on their minds. Perhaps if they had improved the agricultural sector, adjusted prices to prevent artificially high demand as well reduce the burden on the poor, and signed the Nuclear Deal to ensure our energy security, it wouldn't have gotten so bad.

 

But the blame also lies on the Left, whose Common Minimum Programme has been a nightmare for every section of the nation, including the government itself. Hopefully, the next government, whether Congress-led, BJP-led or (God forbid) something-else-led, will learn its lessons sooner than later.

 

PIC BY OTFS

IDEA: NDTV'S THE GREAT INDIAN TAMASHA

THE PIC IS NOT MEANT TO REFER TO ANY CORPORATE ENTITY.

Mayawati Withdraws from UPA




Bahujan Samajwadi Party leader and UP CM Mayawati has officially written to President Pratibha Patil, withdrawing her party's support to the Congress-led ruling United Progressive Alliance. With this, the UPA is now weaker by 17 MPs.

Mayawati justified her move as being for the welfare of all the people of India. However, the Congress and it's UPA-allies such as the NCP have played down the move, saying that the UPA was formed without the BSP's support and they did not need it either.

However, although her move will not reduce the UPA to a minority, it will put pressure on the Congress to keep the government alive. Mayawati's move comes after two key developments: inflation rising to a 13-year high of 11.05%, over which the Opposition has called for the PM and FM to resign, and the N-Deal, over which the PM has threatened to resign.

The move will however, add to the Congress' worries as it is now banking on the support of the Samajwadi Party (the BSP's major rival in UP) for its 39 MPs. The SP has also indicated that it was ready to 'relook' its oppostion to the N-Deal.

[With inputs from IBNLive]

Where is the Monsoon?


The rains in Hyderabad seems to have stopped entirely. The maximum temperature yesterday, according to the MET, was 37C, which is more like a summer-time temperature. Although the evenings are much cooler courtesy the clouds cover, but the city has not witnessed a drop of rain for several days.

And the irony is that many parts of North India are reeling under severe floods!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Shanghai Composite Plunges 6.4%






Shanghai's benchmark index the Shanghai Composite nose-dived 6.4% to close at 2,700 levels, a day after if had gained 5.2%. The fall, which further damages a market that's over 50% off it's high, is seen a result of losses in US markets as well as severe profit-booking.

In addition, historic oil prices also helped pull the market down.

PetroChina, the world's second-largest oil-producing company (after Exxon Mobil) fell 5%, while several financial stocks tumbled by 10%.

The BSE Sensex was down 300 points to just graze the 15,000 level. The Hong Kong Hang Seng Index was down 500 points.

The Hero Returns

The unimaginable has happened. Manmohan Singh - named "Weakest Prime Minister ever" by the opposition BJP - has decided to take the Left by the horns.

Manmohan Singh, the man who resurrected India from the economic grave in 1991, put his heart and soul, not to mention his career and repuation, on the line for the India-US Civilian Nuclear Deal (the "N-Deal"). However, faced with unrelenting opposition from the Left, he seemed to have dropped the deal.

Now however, sources say that he has made up his mind that the deal must be sealed even if the Left withdraws support. The other allies of the UPA, in no mood to go into an early election, are divided.

The second-largest component of the UPA, the RJD, has formally announced that the deal is in the best interets of India and that if China could sign such a deal and become a mighty power, so could India. They have decided to back the Congress. The same is the case with the DMK, as DMK member Kanimozhi made it clear in the Rajya Sabha.

Furthermore, Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi also appears to be backing the PM and his deal. According to sources, she told the Left that the PM had made up his mind to go ahead with the deal and that it was impossible to go against him now. The Left, for their part, have said that if the government went ahead with the deal, they will withdraw support, rendering the government a minority.

Or so they hope. Because, recent developments of a thaw between the SP and the Congress have indicated that the SP could formally back the UPA government. And the maths shows it plain and simple: UPA - Left = minority. But UPA - Left + SP = majority.

So as the Mahabharat of Indian Nuclear Politics begins, the public can but wait and watch and hope that the deal - endorsed by eminent personalities including former President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam and opposed by Pakistan and China - materialises.

[With inputs from PTI and NDTV]

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Foxy and Fiesty

Product: Mozilla Firefox 3.0 (2008)
Category: Browser
Released: Jun. 17, 2008 globally
Rating: ***** (5/5)
Download from here - we recommend it

I started using Firefox 2.0 because it was fast. But I soon discovered a lot more about it. And that's why I was so excited about downloading its newest avatar, Firefox 3.0. And I got a lot of what I was hoping for.

For instance, the start-up time has been reduced. The interface is sleek, with a new set of buttons including an improved look for the forward/backward button. But that's the least of it: Firefox 3.0 has an all-new address bar - dubbed the "awesome bar" - that includes detailed query searches through user history, easy bookmarking, an enhanced drop-down menu and a built-in security check.

Another useful feature is the new download console. Previously, users could only cancel a download and restart it. Now, FF3 lets you pause and resume downloads, a very useful feature indeed! Firefox 3.0 is also faster as its makers claim that it's 10 times faster than Microsoft's Internet Explorer 7 and twice as fast as Firefox 2.0.

Instead of a pop-up asking you to save your password for a particular page, FF3 just brings in a little slider that stays there until you do click it. Your account is not stalled from opening. Memory allocation has been revamped, with FF3 using far less RAM than its notorious predecessor. The Favicon also makes it easy to use. Firefox has thankfully retained its spell checker.

Firefox also guarantees a a safer online experience. Lastly, it is now more customisable with a host of new add-ons and a easier way to find new ones. And the zooming feature is better than ever.

However, the old format for tabs has been retained. I was hoping for a collapsible tab bar so that a jumble of little icons would not interfere with my online activities. That hasn't happened. The search engine is still far too basic for a browser of the stature of Firefox. Perhaps an Opera-style search mechanism could have been introduced.

And as usual, Firefox is fully compatible with all major websites including Blogger, GMail, Facebook and CNN.com. And even as we speak, the Mozilla Community is working on Firefox 3.1!

All-in-all, the new browser is excellent and has already set a record for highest downloads on the first day (we contributed to that too). We might add that this was the first record in the category, according to Guiness. Interestingly, the relases of Firefox 3.0 comes a little while before the launch of Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8.0.

Ladies and gentleman, the online war has just gotten hotter!

OTFS

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

IIT UT Marks Unveil Dark Horses

WEEK 56 DAY 2


Sri Chaitanya IIT Academy, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Jun. 17: The results of yesterday's IIT Unit Test-1 were released today, with some interesting ranks coming out. Divya Ravi maintains her dominance by bagging the first rank. Interestingly, Sandhya Monica Kiran, an average student in First Year, emerged second followed by Sushobhan.

The VP did not meet the students on their marks, yet. Additionally, she has not forwarded the proposed alterations to the key. OTFS estimates that around 26 marks are hanging in the balance over the issue of errors in the key.

More Exams!
There's no rest for the weary. The college has announced an IPE test for Monday, AIEEE for net Tuesday and an IIT Test on the next Monday.

Doubt-Clearing Session
An extended session of doubt-clearing was undertaken my Messieurs Sanjay Singh and Akbar Kamal. Attendance was mandatory up to 5:00 PM and students were free to leave after that. The session was held exclusively in S1, where most students stayed till at least 5:40 PM. (OTFS)

Firefox 3.0: History is being Written, Again

The people at Richmond are shivering. That's because the biggest software sensation of the year -Firefox 3.0 - is being released today. Touted as 'bigger and better than ever,' the browser is also on the verge of setting a new world record (you can help by visiting spreadfirefox.com).

The reviews of FF3's beta versions and RCs have been highly encouraging: it's supposedly faster, sleeker and more customizable. But is it really?

Find out tomorrow, when OTFS presents its review of Mozilla Firefox 3.0.

Feedback: otfs@rediff.com

Monday, June 16, 2008

Talk to OTFS

We all love to talk. It's human nature. Some of us leave comments. But what if you want to do more.

If you have an interesting take on happenings from around the world, tell us and we could have a long conversation about it! You can now email OTFS at otfs@rediff.com and we will try to respond to them all.

You will see a reminder of this email ID after select posts.

Feedback: otfs@rediff.com

*Personal questions and requests will not be responded to. Spammers will be blocked.

Long but Moderately Easy Exam

WEEK 56 DAY 1


Sri Chaitanya IIT Academy, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Jun. 16: The first IIT Unit Test of the year ended today with mixed reactions. While Physical Chemistry, Physics-2 and Maths-2 went well for most students, Organic Chemistry, Physics-1 and Maths-1 were plain horrible for most.

The Instant Poll rated Paper-1 difficult (CC) and Paper-2 fairly easy (BB). However, many students have objected to the fact options were still being provided for the Matrix Matching questions, something that is simply not done in any IITJEE-mock test.

Lecturers React
Mr. Sanjay Singh said that although the paper was by no means difficult, students would face trouble in writing it with a calm head, which is essential. Mr. Vara Prasad said that the paper was exactly of the IIT standard except the matching questions. Mr. Kumar said that the paper wasn't very difficult, just 'challenging.' And Mr. Akbar Kamal praised many of the questions for their depth.

Subtraction
A major problem faced by the students today was the way the question papers had been photocopied. The mathematical symbols '-' and '=' were not copied and most of the time a blank was left in their place. While the students had to manage on their own for Paper-1, corrections were made in Paper-2.

EXCLUSIVE| EAMCET Results
OTFS has exclusively seen the results of Saturday's EAMCET exam for SIIT1. Divya scored the highest marks (123) followed by Namrata (122; Maths - 69), Sushobhan (122; Maths - 67) and Sandhya Monica (113). Some of the smartest students however, failed to deliver, and Mrs. Jhansi vented her ire on them. (OTFS)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Dowry: The New Slave Trade


An OTFS Original Documentary

Our FIRST Video Documentary!

Hassan in Hyderabad

Kamal Hassan's new blockbuster Dashavataram was playing at Satyam Theatre today. Naturally, there was a crowd.

But 'crowd' is an understatement! The entire road was jammed as people rushed into the theatre, some to catch their seat and others to buy a ticket! Naturally, pedestrians were pleased as they could easily cross the road (as no vehicle was moving!). But then came along the traffic police and lo and behold, the jam was gone!

That might sound like a fine piece of fiction, but it's not. A sip of Sprite and a good chat with a pair of friends. And so ends another day!

Difficuly Exam, Setback for Students

WEEK 55 DAY 6


Sri Chaitanya IIT Academy, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Jun. 14: After promising to study hard in exchange for going home at 5:00 PM, the students of S1 faced a setback as today's EAMCET Test was rated C (mildly difficult) on the Instant Poll. Most students complained that Maths and Chemistry ate up most of the time and just a few minutes were left to solve Physics.

S3 Bombed by the VP
After the terribly dismal dismal performance in this week's IPE Exam, the students of S3 taken to action by the VP. Apart from a few students who scored decent marks, she made each and every students stand up and explain why they had fared so poorly.

In S1, although th VP did not react to the results, they were still fairly low with some students scoring in 20s/50 in Maths.

Common Test?
There is an ongoing confusion over whether Monday's IIT UT would be a state-wide common test or not. While the VP has said that it would be a common test - complete with matrix matching and multiple answer questions - Mr. Sanjay Singh has said otherwise. However, OTFS has reason to believe that it will be a common test.

The exam will began at 8:00 AM on Monday.

ICON Material
Students who have paid the first installment of their fees (Rs. 15,000) can take their new ICON Material from the Librarian after producing the receipt. (OTFS)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Two Great Documentaries

This week on NDTV 24x7, two great documentaries will be screened.

The beautiful journey across the sands of time, Cosmic Africa - The Earth, The Sky and Us, will be screened on Sunday at 3:00 PM. It deals with how nomads in Africa look at the sky, the stars and the world.

Ethiopia once suffered a massive famine that killed off many children. To save them, many families in other countries adopted Ethiopian children, hoping to fill a void in their lives as well as gift a child a great future. But what happens when that child, now an adult/adolescent, goes back to their country of origin to see what fate could have held for them? Growing Up deals with the issue.

And if these two great documentaries can't satisfy you, NDTV 24x7 also presents for the first time on Indian Television, the 2008 Academy Award Winner for Best Documentary, Taxi to the Dark Side. The documentary deals with issues of terrorism.

So next time you turn on the idiot box, ditch MTV and grab the opportunity to more about the world you live in.

Rain Hits Hyderabad


Thursday afternoon in Hyderabad saw a welcome respite from the sultry conditions. After a lot of hide-and-seek, the rain finally burst through the clouds. Of course, the usual floods and overflowing drains followed suit (now I know what the GHMC hasn't been doing this summer). Nonetheless, the rains came as a happy moment for Hyderabadis as it marked the end of the long, extraordinarily hot summer.

So it's time to get out those umbrellas and raincoats and celebrate the ecstasy of walking in cold, comforting rain.

What's a Narco Analysis Test?

In the much-talked about Aarushi Talwar Murder Case being probed by the CBI, a recent move by the CBI was to conduct what is called a narco analysis test on one of those supposedly involved in the case.

But what exactly is a narco analysis test? OTFS explains...

A narco analysis test in one in which a suspect is injected with a 'truth serum,' a drug that makes the suspect fall into a state of semi-consciousness. They are still able to speak but cannot control themselves, giving out sensitive information in the process.

The drug is however, generally harmless. Sodium Amytal, Scopolamine and Sodium Pentothal are some commonly-used drugs.

However, the process does not have legal validity and a court of Law may admit a confession made under such a condition on under extreme cases. Furthermore, are the process does carry a small chance of complications, a narco analysis test cannot be carried out without a court order.

Although of little use in court, the test is extremely useful in getting new leads in a case. There are no significant side-effects of the test.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Bandhs Disrupt Indian Life

Ever since the Congress-led UPA Government raised fuel prices (and OTFS believes that it was the best thing to have done, if not the only thing), political parties have been taking full advantage of the situation.

Across India, lives have been paralysed by bandhs. Right from the Telugu Desam in Andhra Pradesh, to the high-and-mighty Left in West Bengal to unions in Jammu and Kashmir, the price hike has proved a godsend for such parties. The main opposition BJP for one, is surely overjoyed.

In all this mess, we seem to have forgotten that there is a crisis. Oil is hovering around $133/bbl - that's far too high for the government to keep subsidising. Artificially cheap fuel means artificially high demand. High demand means higher prices. It's a vicious cycle that ends only with collapse.

Society seems to have forgotten the merits of nature. No one seems to want to walk anymore. Everyone wants to ride in their swanky, gas-guzzling cars. Public transport, ignored by people and governments, seems to have faded into oblivion. But when fuel prices move higher and higher (Gazprom expects it to hit $250/bbl in 2009, but we doubt it), it is ultimately up to society to change itself.

Remember that old bicycle you once had, aging away in some corner of your garage? It would be nice to use it again. Don't spend your money on fuel: spend it on a pair of shoes. Walking is the best exercise after swimming. Going to the department store alone? How about using the bus rather that driving? Is it raining? Remember to turn off the ACs at night, even if still feels hot (that's a personal observation I've made).

These a re just a few suggestions. The ultimate answer is a shift towards clean and renewable energy. Nuclear energy is also one option that needs to be explored. In the meantime, the last thing we need is for the opposition to politicise the issue. Fuel prices and double-digit inflation are a matter of concern to everyone and only a concerted effort across the world (particularly from OPEC) will really work.

PIC: COMMUNIST FLAG

Mrs. Latika Returns

WEEK 55 DAY 3


Sri Chaitanya IIT Academy, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Jun. 11: After a week of uncertainty, S1's English teacher Mrs. Latika returned to joys and moans. She asked the students to bring their textbooks tomorrow.

In another similar development, Mr. Giribabu appears to have left the SR Nagar campus (again) as a new lecturer, Mr. Kumar, replaced him today. Mrs. Jhansi told OTFS exclusively that chances of Mr. Giribabu returning were very slim. Mr. Kumar has done his M.Sc. (Mathematics) from IIT-Madras and speaks Hindi, English as well as Telugu. Students of S1 approved of him in general.

Tests
OTFS has confirmed the suspicion that Monday's IIT Unit Test is a state-wide test. That explains why the syllabus is so small for the students of SR Nagar, who had completed it during the summer. (OTFS)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Hit Counter: One Year On

On Jun. 9, 2007, Opinions 24x7 launched its hit counter to keep track of the number of people visiting the blog. Needless to say, the results have been far beyond expectations.

As with everything, we had some expectations from the Hit Counter. Our estimates for the number of hits in a year pointed to something in the range of 10,000-12,000. We've missed our target: we've done far better! At about 23,500 hits, OTFS is more popular than a plethora of other, much older blogs.

After we crossed the 15,000 mark, our viewership grew rapidly and from around 20-30 hits a day, we've easily averaged 60!

And now as we enter the second year of counting, the Hit Counter will stay on as a mark of history: a sign of the changing fortunes (good and bad) of this blog.

In the mean time, OTFS will continue to provide top-notch content to its viewers. We welcome comments from all of you. An opinion, after all, is an expression of freedom.

Negotiations Successful

WEEK 55 DAY 2


Sri Chaitanya IIT Academy, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Jun. 10: Students of S1 are rejoicing over their victory in thwarting the VP's attempts to keep them in college for a whopping eleven hours a day. After a combined attack on the decision by the students and their parents, the plan has been scrapped.

Now, students will be allowed to go home at 5:00 PM, with just one hour of studying in college. However, the VP has warned that the move will only be effective if students fetch good marks. OTFS has learned that the college will now try a new strategy; going after parents and asking them why their wards were not performing well.

Exams
Yesterday's Maths (1) and Physics received extremely difficult (DDD) and difficult (D) on the Instant Poll, where DDD is the lowest possible score. Similarly, today's Maths (2) received DD (very difficult) while Chemistry did a little better at C (slightly tough). Most students have complained that questions were of the standard of IITJEE rather than IPE.

For example, a particular question was:
∫(x-a)(x-b)(x-c)...(x-z) dx = ?

Most students said the answer was too large to solve. However, a tiny handful of them rightly guessed that (x-x) was a term in the series, and (x-x) = 0. Thus, the answer is the all-encompassing "zero!"

The problem is that such a question is expected in an objective test, not an IPE test.

EAMCET and IITJEE
The college will be conducting an EAMCET test on Saturday, Jun. 14 and an IITJEE test on Jun. 16 for the students of Sr. ICON. (OTFS)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Clinton Backs Obama











Senator Hillary Clinton has finally conceded defeat at the hands of her rival and presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama. In her closing speech in Washington, where she officially suspended her campaign, she touched upon a multitude of issues.

She implored her supporters to back Obama and highlighted the fact that in the last 40 years, there have been just three Democratic Presidential tenures (two of Bill Clinton). She reminded voters of the issues - terrorism, Iraq, healthcare, the economy - and stressed that Obama would be able to solve their problems.

She also thanked her supporters, campaign staff and family for their support. In her speech that lasted nearly half an hour, was commented upon by Obama. He thanked her for her support and highlighted her contribution towards inspiring women and even his own daughters to fight for their rights.

Clinton closed her campaign by meeting thousands of her supporters. However, rumours are out that she is trying to tag along with Obama as his running mate, making for the most unique President-Vice President duo in the history of the United States.

As Clinton's historic campaign ends, a new one begins. Obama will now have to catch up to John McCain, unite a deeply divided Democratic Party and win over Clinton's crucial electorate. The second phase of this campaign begins now. (OTFS)

[CNN]

New Timings: 8:30 to 7!

WEEK 54 DAY 6


Sri Chaitanya IIT Academy, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Jun. 7: In a controversial move that sent ripples through the top brass of the college, Mrs. Jhansi announced that on Monday and Tuesday, college would function from 8:30 AM to 7:00 AM, the longest ever. Furthermore, she added that the timings 'might' become permanent.

This applies only to S1 and S2, not S3, who would be allowed to leave at 5:00 PM as usual.

Response
SIIT1 condemned the proposal and threatened to boycott all homework and studies. The students clearly states that it was such extended timings that had lead to a burn out among the seniors last year, because of which SR Nagar's IITJEE and AIEEE ranks were disappointing.

'Impossible'
OTFS spoke to several lecturers on the issue. Mr. Sanjay Singh said that 7:00 was an upper limit; similar to the move taken up last year, assignments would be given to students and they could leave once they finished.

Mr. Vara Prasad used even stronger words, calling the abnormally long timings 'impossible/ to maintain.

S1's think-tank has already started looking for all possible loopholes in the plan. (OTFS)