For a phone without an OS!

And now for something entirely different (or may be not). Someone got their latest retail therapy shipped without an OS: My Pixel 2 XL Arrived With No OS . Whereupon my reaction was, awesome! Only a few years back, you expected to build or even buy a PC (by which I mean Personal Computer, not something running Windows) without an OS to begin with. The maker of the motherboard used a standard booting protocol like BIOS or UEFI . Most standard devices like disks, keyboards, mice, scanners, and printers would use public data exchange protocols. Anyone could use these to put together an OS. There was no question of collusion between the maker of the motherboard and the OS. If your OS was coded to the published standards, it would boot and let you use the hardware. In turn, the OS provided open APIs to be used by applications. Some OSs like Linux keep their code public. When you install their binaries, you can verify their md5 hashes. If any 3-letter state or non-state actor ha

The way Indian officialdom communicates

2017/10/31 Issues concerning Aadhaar linkage with SIM ‘will be clear by Dec 1’ This article written by a S Ronendra Singh (SRS), mostly quoting Aruna Sundararajan (hereafter, AS), is a good case study that explains why we cannot put together a 757-class plane in India. AS is first introduced as "Secretary, Department of Telecom" under the photo. Then there is her ominous proclamation "It is in customers’ interest to link the mobile number with the UID" --- which is exactly how bullies speak: "You had better link your mobile number with UID, because we will both be so much happier that way." But I digress. The very next para ends "... Aruna Sundararajan, Secretary, Ministry of Telecommunications, told BusinessLine in an interview".  So which is it, department or ministry ? But then AS takes over, and she is in a different league of muddle altogether. Here are some jewels: “What we have told the TSPs (telecom service providers) is t

The state of journalism in India

Leaving aside perhaps 50 campuses, college years in India are the most soul-draining phase of life, converting India's oh-so dandy "demographic dividend" into a big heap liability of unemployed and unemployable people. Some of them then masquerade as "journalists". Below (in roughly recent-first order) are quick comments on some truly asinine "news articles" from "Indian journalists". 2017/10/30: Show me where this article explains which safety standards are being flouted, and how: Study shows 76% of LED bulbs flout consumer safety standards in India . The only transgression we hear about is that the lamps did not bear the manufacturer's name and address. Address? When did your last mobile phone have the manufacturer's address? I am not defending the manufacturers --- they are scum. But where's the journalism ? This is a parrot-piece from ELCOMA, which is getting its shit beaten out by illicit imports from China.

Cargo Cult Civilization

India has never been able to understand or internalize Western civilization. Plundered from and by the West while it was on an entirely different and incompatible civilizational path, it developed a spectacular hybrid schizoid form of social and political organization that have been flailing away for centuries. Central to Western civilization (no matter what Gandhi thought about it) is precise documentation . Central to the Indian condition is improvisation , aka jugaad . No two strategies could be farther apart. The West wrote down chamber music to be played to the exact note and bar and they are played that way centuries later. In Indian classical music, no raga is performed the exact same way twice, even by the same artist. These can both be useful and consistent strategies, and it is foolish to look down on either. But mixing them up leads to anything between comedy and annihilation. Indian law was laid out by the British and large parts of that has persisted through independe

Your Aadhaar bucket-o-links

(Most recent stories and links first.) 2017/12/13 HDFC's depravity: Here's what you sign when you link one  HDFC account to Aadhaar (highlights added): I hereby submit my Aadhaar number as issued by Government of India, to HDFC Bank and voluntarily give my consent to link them to all my accounts / relationships (existing and new ) maintained with HDFC Bank in my individual capacity and / or as an authorized signatory. I authorise HDFC Bank to map my Aadhaar number at NPCI to enable me to receive Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) from Government of India in the above specified Savings account. I understand that if more than one Benefit transfer is due to me, I will receive all Benefit Transfers in this account . I, holder of the above stated Aadhaar number, hereby voluntarily give my consent to HDFC Bank to obtain and use my Aadhaar number, Name and Fingerprint/Iris and my Aadhaar details to authenticate me with UIDAI as per Aadhaar Act, 2016 and all other applicable laws.

Banks OK with fake ID, mobile carriers not

2017/10/16: The crescendo of SMS, emails and even automated voice calls saying "link now to prevent mobile service disconnection or freezing of bank accounts" continues apace. People have started to wonder if there are sinister reasons for this desperation. 2017/10/03: Every Indian with a bank account or mobile phone is getting three email and text message reminders every day from their banks and mobile operators to link ("seed", in the fertile Indian version of English) their new national ID number (called "Aadhaar") to their bank and mobile accounts. Failing which their bank accounts will get locked up when 2017 ends, and their phones will turn into pumpkins by Feb 2018. The interesting twist is, the banks only want to know the customer's ID number, to add to their record. Whereas, the mobile companies insist on capturing the customer's fingerprints, which they then send to Aadhaar's servers,  to validate the customer's ID number.

Your Equifixed identity

2017/10/13 The sordid story of Equifax gets worse and worse. Now they are in cohorts with sites pushing malware to your phone or laptop! It's that sadism-masochism story over again. Equifax is effectively roaming from door to door, slapping people in the face when they open the door, saying "put me down, please"  and The People and their piss-ass lawmakers are going "nope!" The story is so absurd that even the first pilferage of over 140 million SSNs looks like it may be staged. 2017/10/03 In the worst case (for them), Equifax will lose those class-action and other lawsuits, and have to pay some cash. How am I helped by a few hundred to a few thousand dollars in my quest not to get my identity equifuxed? If I lose that kind of cash, I am far from broke. (If my bank silently deducts such amounts, I may never notice.) What I cannot afford to do is to bandy words with random humorless government agents with their coats fitting awkwardly under their left ar