Revelation of Reality

“How many times have you read that book, Aimee?”

Aimee Vass was propped up on her elbows on her bed, reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for the seventh time. She didn’t look up from her book, but she sighed in response.


Her mother walked into the room and snatched the book out of her hands and made her way across the room to Aimee’s desk.


“Mom!” Aimee cried, her hands still grasping the air. “What are you doing?”


“You’re spending way too much time reading these silly Harry Potter books. Actually, you’re wasting your time. Do something else! Go outside! I’m not even sure you’ve finished your homework,” her mother replied as she slammed the book down on the desk.


“Mom! Watch out for--” Aimee started to say.


Too late. The book slid off the desk, taking Aimee’s wand that she had bought at a gift shop. The label claimed that J.K. Rowling herself had fashioned for her fans. The wand split in half as it started falling down with the book on its tip, and Aimee’s mother pulled the wand back.


“Mom! Now, look what you’ve done!” Aimee leaped off the bed and started to grab the two pieces, but her mother had already thrown them away in the trash can next to her bed.


Her mother huffed and said, “Why do you need it anyway? It’s just another piece of wood, you can always get another one from a tree outside!”


“JK Rowling herself made it!” Aimee protested, throwing her long blond hair behind her shoulders. Her brown eyes flashed with irritation.

Her mother smiled at her daughter’s childish folly, and said, “That’s what they say, so kids like you buy it. Anyway, come out for lunch now.” and walked out of the room, picking up Aimee’s fake Maurader’s Map and placing it on her bed on the way out.


Aimee sank into her chair, frustrated at her mother for once again, not accepting the fact that Harry Potter was the best series around. It wasn’t like her mother loved to read that much anyway, so why not let her?


When she opened her computer, she noticed she had just received an email from none other than JK Rowling herself. Aimee was such a big fan that she had dared to email her favorite author and had expected a response. She hadn’t gotten one, so it was surprising that Rowling would email her now. The email wasn’t a “Hi, how are you doing”, but instead it contained a special invite for Aimee.


Hey Aimee,
Hope you still love Harry Potter! I’m hosting a book signing tomorrow afternoon at the lighthouse near the lake. It reminds me of the place where the Dursleys had run to when Harry started receiving thousands of letters from Hogwarts! I’d really love it if you could come, and maybe you can bring your books!
J.K

Aimee read the email three times before finally believing it, and pumped her fist in the air, shouting, “YES!”. Without waiting for her mother’s call, she skipped out the door to lunch.

Was it too good to be true?

The next afternoon, Aimee stuffed all of her Harry Potter books into one large bag and ran off to the lighthouse. Unfortunately, it was a rainy day, and the water soaking her hair and falling in her eyes wasn’t helping her reach quickly. She swung off her bag and covered her head with it, determined to get her books signed first. When she reached the lake, she looked around, bewildered. Where were all the people? Where were her fans? Where was J.K. Rowling herself? The email had been from her….right?


Aimee walked on, crossing the bridge that led to the lighthouse. She didn’t find anyone there, either. She set her soggy backpack down, climbing up the stairs to see if people were there. She knew that it wasn’t possible for people to be there, but it didn’t hurt to check. No one there.


She went back down the stairs to leave and picked up her backpack, but she pushed against the door, it wouldn’t budge. She tried harder, but still no result, just that the door wouldn’t move.


“Come--on--door.” she strained as she put one hand on the handle and the other pushing against the wood. Come to think of it, she didn’t remember closing the door at all. But she didn’t hear a thud or a slam of a door closing when she was upstairs either. Starting to get worried, she pounded on the door, until her hands started hurting and were splintered.


“Ow,” she moaned, glaring at her swollen hands.

She threw herself against the wall, but still, the door wouldn’t budge. Aimee was sure she had cracked her rib cage. Tears welled up in her eyes, and one mischievous tear slipped down her cheek.


“HELP!” she cried. “SOMEONE HELP! I’M STUCK IN THIS LIGHTHOUSE!”
But no one was outside, because of the rain. She thought she heard heavy footsteps near the lighthouse, so she yelled again.


“HAGRID! IT’S ME, AIMEE! HAGRID!” she cried, remembering how a half-giant named Hagrid had come for Harry Potter in the first book.


Another idea struck her head, and she ran upstairs, to the large flashlight above. She clicked it on, and it began to spin. Hopefully, this would signal to people that there was someone stuck inside. But wait…no one was outside either, and the rain was falling fast now, and it clouded everything outside.


Desperate, she ran to the windows and pounded, screaming. When nothing happened, she ran back down, and with one last shred of hope, pointed her finger at the handle and whispered, “Alohomora.”


That was the spell to open anything that was locked, and Aimee thought it might work. If it worked for Harry Potter, Ron, and Hermione, why wouldn’t it for her?
Still, nothing happened. She turned her back to the door and slid to the ground. Her stomach rumbled from hunger, but she couldn’t do anything. She had planned to get her book signed, linger for a while, and then return home for lunch. Worst of all, she hadn’t told her mother where she was going, because she was afraid that her mother might not let her go. Even if her family looked for her, they wouldn’t find her in the lighthouse. She was going to starve to death. And no one would even know.


Aimee sobbed uncontrollably, wondering why Rowling had sent her that email but never decided to show up. Was it possible that it was all a hoax? But it couldn’t be. She wouldn’t do that to her fans.

Several hours passed, and night was falling now, but the rain still thrashed as hard as it had before. Still, no one had come. A clap of thunder rang, and Aimee jerked awake. She had cried herself to sleep, hoping that maybe an owl would notice her and send help, or maybe someone would send a Patronus. None of those had happened.


Aimee started to question herself and, she had never imagined that it would come to this point, Harry Potter. She had read the books so much that she believed it was real. Even at home, she would think that she was a witch and would try to curse her annoying little brother. But now, she realized, none of that was real. Harry Potter was a different person in a different world, but it was not the real world. There was no such thing as magic, no such thing as giants, no such thing as three-headed dogs, and no evil sorcerer named Voldemort who wanted power for himself.


As this dawned upon her, Aimee realized with disappointment that she needed to find her way out, the Muggle way. No, not Muggle. The real, human way.


At that moment, the door clicked open, and Aimee quickly stood up, and before she could hide, the man who came in spotted her.

“Hey, you lass! What are you doing here?” he shouted.


“I-I got stuck in here,” she stammered, and she pushed past the man and out into the open. She kept running, running, running.


“You forgot your bag!” she heard the man cry.


She stopped in her tracks and turned around. She considered going back, but she turned around again and continued running. Those books weren’t that important that she would risk her life again. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t real, because it really wasn’t, and that’s what fiction is all about. It felt as if a veil had been pulled off her head, and that was why she had finally come into the real world. Her mother had been right. She was wasting time on it. It wasn’t real. It wasn’t real. It wasn’t real.

She was glad to be back, in her real home, with her real family.

What is Ganesh Chaturthi?

Shri Ganesh

Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the most popular festivals celebrated in India. Ganesha is the god of wisdom and prosperity, and Hindus joyfully and hopefully worship this god for an easy life ahead. Ganesh Chaturthi falls in the month of Bhadrapada, on Shukla Chaturthi. Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated to commemorate Shri Ganesha’s birth and arrival to Earth.

A popular story behind the reason for this festival starts when Goddess Parvati goes to take a bath and makes a clay idol of a boy. She brings it to life and tells the boy to make sure no one comes in while she is bathing. Shiva, the destroyer, had tried to go through, but Ganesha would not allow him. In the heat of the moment, Shiva cut off the boy’s head. To make up for this sin, Shiva replaced it with an elephant’s head, representing animals, and granted Ganesha the power to create obstacles for the harmful deeds of the demons and remove obstacles for good deeds, hence his name Vighnaharta. Hindus celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi in order to gain wisdom and succeed in whatever auspicious task they choose to complete.

The worship of the god himself has been recorded since the fourth century CE, but it was freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak who publicized this festival, around 1893. Because Ganesha represents all people, Tilak used this as a way to connect people and unite them as true Indians against the British, lighting a determinate fire in their souls. He used this as an opportunity to make plans with other leaders to overthrow the British government. Since the British could not deny the Indians of their religion, they had no choice but to let the Indians proceed. In this way, Ganesh Chaturthi became a public festival.

Ganesh Chaturthi is special mainly because he represents the union between nature, animals, and humans, and by worshipping the god, people symbolize the harmonious lifestyle between nature and humans, which help each other thrive by removing obstacles through their own work, and also helps remove their past sins.

In India, each area has its own way of celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi. In Gujarat, Ganesha resides in their homes for 10 days. A Ganesh idol is placed on a bed of rice and welcomed with showers of milk and water. Ganesh idol is decorated with chandlo which is made with kumkum and sandal paste and aarti is performed after lighting incense and saying many prayers.

In Andhra Pradesh, people perform a Ganesh puja and read mantras and stories about Ganesha. They throw rice mixed with turmeric onto the idol of Ganesha and offer prasad, which is tamarind rice and sweet Pongal.

In Rajasthan, people celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi publicly. People cover a large image of Ganesha with kumkum, then put a garland of red flowers around an idol of him. Motichoor laddoos are also made, as they believe it to be the god’s favorite food. A common tradition in India is to not look at the moon during Ganesh Chaturthi.

My family is from Maharashtra, where Ganesha Chaturthi is the most popular. We clean and decorate the house to welcome Ganesh for 10 days, though in different parts of Maharashtra, the day Ganapati goes back home depends on when his mother Parvati arrives, on Bhadrapada Shukla Saptami. We dress up in bright new clothes on this day. My mother makes twenty-one modaks, which is believed to be Ganesha’s favorite dessert, and are offered as “naivadyam”. We also offer durvaa-grass to Ganesha. My dad sets up the pooja. When everything is set up, we perform an aarti. Ganesha Chaturthi is my favorite festival of the year. There is always a happy environment in the home. Modaks are also my favorite food, and Ganesha is my favorite god. Most importantly, I continue to learn Indian culture even though I live in the US.

Bring your terminal to life with Zsh

Introduction

ZshI have been using Linux for a better part of two decades now but I won't say that I am an expert in Linux. Till recently I didn't even know that I could change shells and what capabilities other shells have. I was more of a functional and casual user than anything else who knew how to get a few things done but didn't know the internals and the intricacies of the operating system. One of the intricacies is to change the default Linux shell from bash to zsh. Zsh is indeed a powerful shell with a lot of extensions, customizations, and community support with themes to tailor the shell to ones own preferences. That was another thing I didn't know that there are themes for shell. I always used to think that bash shell is what you have and you have to use it without complaints.

Well, I was wrong and there are a lot of things you can change about your terminal and in this blog post, I am going to show you how to do it. I know there are a lot of tutorials around the web that show you exactly this and some are good than others. But this is more for me than anybody else. Really. When I started working for AWS, I got an opportunity to meet very smart people who have extended the capabilities of software tools to the limit of what they can do and then some. That is one of the reasons why I wanted to learn more and more about the basics so that I can have a very solid foundation.

Why Zsh?

By installing a different shell, you can actually decorate and customize your plain old command prompt to something fancy very easily and you have a lot of options. Of course, you can also customize and decorate your command prompt on bash shell, but for that you need to know a lot of configurations and parameters if not all. And you need to build the configuration file by hand as well.

As I mentioned earlier, there is a vibrant and strong community support and there are several themes available along with pre-made scripts that you can just run and choose options to configure and tailor. That's what I plan to show you in this post.

Preparation

All the Linux installations come with a bash shell by default. Depending on the distribution you use, there might be other shells also installed but we need to ensure that Zsh is installed. I am using Ubuntu to show the commands. The steps remain the same on a Red Hat clone as well. Red Hat clones use yum to install and maintain software whereas Debian and its clones use apt.

  • Ensure you have Zsh installed. Run the following command.
    sudo apt install zsh -y
  • Check if the Zsh installation is done properly and where it is installed by running the following command.
    which zsh
    It should show an output something like /usr/bin/zsh
  • Now that Zsh is installed, change your default shell to zsh by running the following command.
    chsh -s $(which zsh)

Once the command runs successfully, restart your session in order for the terminal to start in the new shell environment. Once the terminal starts, the Zsh configuration scripts starts automatically to enable the user to configure settings and preferences. We are not going to do any configurations at this time and will leave this for later once all the components are installed and ready. On the prompt, select 0 to Exit and create a placeholder .zshrc file so that the script doesn't run again.
(0) Exit, creating the file ~/.zshrc containing just a comment.
That will prevent this function being run again.

Now we are getting to the good part. First of all we need to install and download Oh-my-zsh. Oh-My-Zsh is a delightful, open source, community-driven framework for managing your ZSH configuration. Download and run it using the either of the commands below. Generally all Linux installations come with wget preinstalled and you will have to install curl. Curl is a powerful tool for testing and debugging and if you don't have it, don't worry about it and don't bother downloading it. If you don't have it and don't know about it, you probably won't need it.

sh -c "$(wget https://raw.github.com/ohmyzsh/ohmyzsh/master/tools/install.sh)"
==OR==
sh -c "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.github.com/ohmyzsh/ohmyzsh/master/tools/install.sh)"

Next we need to make the terminal our own by installing and configuring themes. There are a lot of themes available for Zsh but my favorite is PowerLevel10K. To use it first clone the Powerlevel10K repo using git. If you don't have git, install it by running sudo apt install git -y on your terminal.

git clone https://github.com/romkatv/powerlevel10k.git $ZSH_CUSTOM/themes/powerlevel10k

Once this is done, we will clone auto-suggestions and syntax highlighting repos which are plugins which extend the capabilities of Zsh a lot. Again there a lot of plugins available for Oh-my-zsh but for now we will concentrate on these two.

git clone https://github.com/zsh-users/zsh-autosuggestions.git $ZSH_CUSTOM/plugins/zsh-autosuggestions


git clone https://github.com/zsh-users/zsh-syntax-highlighting.git $ZSH_CUSTOM/plugins/zsh-syntax-highlighting

Now that all the major components are downloaded and ready, it's time to personalize, configure and make the terminal prompt our own. Open .zshrc (It's located in your home folder) file in your favorite editor and add the following linesZSH_THEME="powerlevel10k/powerlevel10k"
POWERLEVEL9K_MODE="nerdfont-complete"

Uncomment the options to activate them as needed. I suggest the following options.
CASE_SENSITIVE="true" # Around line 21
ENABLE_CORRECTION="true" # Around line 45

Finally add the plugins that we cloned earlier for autosuggestions and syntax-highlighting at around line 71
plugins=(git zsh-autosuggestions zsh-syntax-highlighting sudo)

Once done, save and exit. We are not done yet. We need to install a font that will allow us to use cool fonts and icons to spice up the prompt. The font that we need is Fira mono font. While the font itself is free from Google, we need the patched version. The entire fonts library is available on Github. The fonts library is a huge one and you don't really need all of those. Just download the medium regular complete font and that will be sufficient. To install it, you can either double-click on the font file and open it in File manager and click install or create a .fonts directory in your home folder and copy it there. I recommend the first option to install it system wide.

Once installed configure Terminal app preferences --> Profile --> Text to use Fira mono font to harness the power of Oh-my-zsh

At this point you need to log out and log back in to ensure the changes made so far are persistent.

After logging back in launch Terminal. The P10K configure will run for the first time. Follow the prompts to complete the set. My suggestions for the configuration are:

  • For Prompt Style choose (3) Rainbow
  • For Character Set choose (1) Unicode
  • Choose whether you want to show current time on the command prompt or not. I suggest (3) 12 hour format
  • For prompt separators choose (1) Angled
  • For prompt heads choose (1) Sharp
  • For prompt tails choose (1) Flat
  • For prompt height choose (1) One line
  • For prompt spacing choose (1) Compact
  • For Icons you can choose your preference. I like a lot of fonts and I recommend (2) Many icons
  • For Prompt flow choose (1) Concise. Again this is a personal choice. I recommend Concise
    • Choose (y) to select Transient Prompt to provide a clean work area
  • Choose (2) to have Quiet Instant prompt mode
    Choose to save to .zshrc and apply the changes we just made.

And that's it. You are done! You now have a fantastic command prompt.

Preparing for AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional

Introduction

They say that AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional is one of the most AWS SA Pro Badgedifficult AWS certification exams. I am very excited that I passed it in the first attempt. To tell the truth, I was extremely nervous about the exam. You see, till I joined AWS in March 2019, I didn't have any experience or even exposure to AWS. I knew about cloud and what it is and what it can do for businesses of course, but didn't really know about the technologies, the architecture, the scope and depth of AWS. From there to now when I am a Certified Solutions Architect for AWS at a professional level is huge. Even if I say so myself. So how did I get here? Well, that's the story I am going to tell here. I promise I won't bore you with any gory details of what the technology is and how I spent hours and hours studying and reading (which incidentally I did), but this will be quick recap of my experience and what I found useful and what to ignore.

The Prep

It took me about 6 months exactly to date to take this test from the time I appeared for my previous exam. Not all the time was spent on studying and preparing for the exam. There were times when I got derailed and didn't quite study for days at end. But overall I anticipate it would take somewhere in the range of 3-4 months at a minimum to really prepare well for this exam. I initially started with the SA Pro course on Linux Academy as I had really good experience with it during the SA Associate exam and the course is really in-depth with the trainer - Adrian Cantrill going deep technically and provides a lot of hands-on demonstration and labs along with a lot of links to product documentation which is immensely helpful to read and understand the service and product in detail.. And it was definitely helpful to be familiar with the screens even though they were outdated. And that was the problem with that course. It was made in early 2019 and for a myriad of reasons, it has not been updated and now that A Cloud Guru has acquired Linux Academy, ACG is pushing students to use their course. And since it was slightly more updated and recent, I completed that course as well. It has nowhere near the depth and detail of the LA course, but the trainer - Scott Pletcher does a fantastic job of explaining the concepts and preparing the student for the real world scenarios and walks through the questions step by step which was helpful. More importantly, he provides a lot of links of re:Invent videos and links to white papers which are crucial to read before even considering to take the exam.

Reading

There are so many whitepapers on the AWS site that you can spend all your time reading those for several months and not get through it. So you need to be very judicious in choosing which ones to read. My recommendation is to read the following ones without fail. There is also some recommendations on the AWS training site which provides some guidance on preparing for the exam.

Although there are a few more you should read, but these are the absolute minimum.

The FAQs on the AWS site are also a very valuable resource and it has a lot of information. FAQs have been vilified by its overuse and nonsense FAQs that some companies put on their sites. But the FAQs that AWS has put together are really very high quality and it provides great overview of the service and its boundaries and capabilities. Spend some time going through as much as you can but at a minimum review the following:

The next resource is the product documentation. Product documentation can be very long and boring and at times confusing. But the level of detail it provides is just amazing. You may not have to read the developer guide cover to cover, but figure out which areas are a little weak for you and invest time in reading that section of the documentation. Regardless of your comfort level, one of the most important documentation you can read is AWS Organizations. It is really useful. But consider reading some of the documentation from the list below.

Watching

Youtube is a great resource if you use it well. AWS has created its own channel and they post re:Invent videos on that channel and a lot of tech talks that they host. They are great and can provide 300-400 level information. I strongly recommend that you spend some time watching the re:Invent videos. Make sure to watch the re:Invent videos that are at least 6 months old as services and features announced within six months will not appear on the exam. I recommend watching the videos for:

Practice

Finally, there is no substitute to practice. Take as many practice tests as you can. Whizlabs has a lot of practice exams. Although I found the questions to be oriented more toward development and some of the answers were flat out wrong, but it helped clarify things quite a bit and forced me to read product documentation which otherwise I would not have read.

Exam day

Finally on the exam day, take plenty of rest and calm your mind down. If you are into meditation, then I would recommend meditate for some time before going to the exam. It really helps with the concentration as the exam is really long at 180 minutes and 75 questions and it can be very intense. If not, then find the way in which you groove the best and go for it. In today's world sitting in one place without having any gadgets and / or notifications is not very easy. A couple of hours before the exam, avoid drinking too many fluids as there are no breaks in between and if you need to use the rest room, the exam timer continues to wind down. So plan accordingly.

Reading long questions and longer answers is very tedious and it is very easy to miss an important point. One of the strategies in reading long answers is to read them vertically. While the technical definition of vertical reading is very different, I am using vertical reading to mean that you scan the text of the answers vertically and try to identify the salient points that differ and would make sense in that scenario. In several situations, the answers are very similar with only one or two things different in each answer. Focus on that. Choose the one that BEST suits the situation asked in the question. Reading horizontally can tire you out and it is very easy to get lost in the word jungle and miss the right answer.

With all this preparation, it is possible that during the exam you might feel that the exam is easy and you may lose concentration and focus. The trick is to take few very short breaks at a strategic intervals to keep focus and stay sharp. The exam center provides you with a piece of paper and pencil. Use it to draw architecture diagrams to visualize the question and also write down your thoughts. It helps.

Final thoughts

With all these preparation, I am certain you will pass the exam easily and with flying colors. AWS certified solutions architect professional is a very valuable certification which not only will enhance your career prospects, but also help in increasing and improving your understanding of the cloud and highly scalable, resilient and highly available architectures.

All the best!

The Volcanic Eruption

A short story by Nandini Dharwadkar

VolcanoThere were many volcanoes near our village. For a long time they were dormant, but I knew that they were active volcanoes and would erupt sooner or later. I asked my father about this, but he always laughed it away and said that we will always be safe and nothing will happen to us. But I think, he too knew that the volcanoes would erupt soon and destroy our homes. He kept it from me so I wouldn’t be scared and worry too much. My sister Tallulah, was scared too and asked me, “Tehya, will we be safe?”
 
One day, there was a rumbling noise and earth shook violently. Suddenly, I realized that this is what I had feared the most. My father shouted, “Everyone! Get your most important belongings and let’s all hurry to a far place before the volcano destroys our village!” We all obeyed knowing he was right. We all ran to a far distance. When we stopped, we saw the lava bubbling down the mountain to where we first lived, destroying and burning everything in its path. We were all very distraught and heart-broken. I was extremely sad as that was the only place I knew as home.
 
We all recovered very quickly because we knew that if we stood there mourning about what had already happened, we would not get anything done and solve our problem. So my father gathered us all and we made a plan. We would first collect enough wood, enough to build 5 house (there were 50 people in our tribe). Then we would make weapons out of some of the extra wood to hunt animals for food and clothing and to protect ourselves. Tallulah and I were in charge of getting the wood for the houses. It was hard work, but we completed the task. After we were finished, some men started constructing the houses. It took our tribe a whole day to form a new village, but when we were done, we were all satisfied with our work.
 
At night, after everyone was asleep, I secretly went to our old, burnt village. I missed it very much! I thought of the good memories we had in the village. I thought of when Tallulah was born. That was the best memory. There was a lot of commotion around our house because everyone had come to see the baby. Suddenly, a hand on my shoulder interrupted my thoughts. It was my father. He said, “Those were some good memories, eh?” We both laughed and started back for our new home.

How to unblock file sharing on Windows

Have you ever come across a situation where you want to access another computer via itsFirewall Options UNC (\\computer-name\share) and came across a "Network Path not found" error? Although not too uncommon, this errors can puzzle you in cases where you know all the services required for file sharing are running. I faced this issue the other day and finally after a bit of tussle, I managed to solve the problem. We were trying to access a computer at one of our remote locations and it was giving this error. What made this even more puzzling was that local users were able to access the same computer by using the UNC path. We tried all we could and knew but still the error was the same.

Then I searched on the internet and found some references and a very useful knowledge base article (KB article number 840634) on Microsoft support website which addressed this issue. Apparently somebody had enabled the firewall and the firewall is designed to block File and Printer Sharing from any network and allow access only in the same subnet in its default configuration.

To allow file and print sharing on your computers from any network, follow the steps described below:

  1. Click on Start --> Settings --> Control Panel. If you are using the Windows XP Start Menu, you can find the Control Panel on the right side of the start menu.
  2. Category view: In the category view, click on the Security center and then click on Windows Firewall to open the Windows Firewall configuration window. In the Classic view, you will see the Windows Firewall icon.
  3. Ensure that the Do not Allow Exceptions check box is not checked on the General tab
  4. Click on Exceptions tab and highlight File and Printer Sharing and click on Edit...to modify the settings. The file and printer sharing is done through port number 445.Enable Port 445
  5. Highlight the TCP 445 and click on Change scope... or just double click to edit it. In the resulting screen, select whether you want to enable for any network for just your network or for a custom list of networks. In case you choose custom list of networks, you will have to manually enter each subnet you want to enable for it to work.
  6. Click OK your way out and now you should be able to access the computer(s) over the network using UNC path.

A word of caution: I don't recommend setting the scope to Any as is shown here. It means that anyone who can reach your network will be able to access the computer over the network. Either select just the subnet you are on or explicitly define the subnets that you know and trust that would be required to connect remotely using UNC path.

Dasara Greetings and Blessings

Greetings and blessings on the auspicious day of Dasara.

Dasara

On this very auspicious day of Dasara which marks the triumph of good and truth over evil, may the Lord bless your lives and bring joy to your lives. Dasara is the day on which Lord Ram killed the demon king Ravan to defeat Lanka (modern day Sri Lanka) and ended a period of terror and torment of common people by the "Asuras"; evil personified.

Dasara (also called as Dusshera, Vijayadashmi) is celebrated all over India with much fan fare with exchanging visits and wishes to relatives and close friends and by seeking blessings of elders. In most parts of India, people enact "Ram Lila" a short play on the life of Lord Ram which culminates into Lord Ram burning the effigies of Ravan, Kumbhkarna (Ravan's brother) and Meghnad (Ravan's son). Watch this beautiful song from the film Swades which captures the spirit of Dasara very aptly and the burning of the effigy by Lord Ram.

The burning of the effigies is symbolic to cleanse society of all evil by burning it. The looks and the feelings on the faces of people when Lord Ram arrives is just great.

Here's sharing warmest greetings and blessing with you all. I pray for us all to root out evil from our society and live in peace and harmony with each other.

Ayurveda: The Ancient Indian Magical Science

The diversity of spices and herbs used in Ayurveda cooking...simple, yet deeply rooted in science.

Ayurveda is the oldest known practice of medicine in India, about 5,000 years old. Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word, and it translates to “Science of Life”. As etymology goes, ayur means “life”, and veda means “science” or “knowledge”. What is the history behind this knowledge? What concepts lie in this science deeply rooted in Indian culture? Why is Ayurveda important and what are its benefits?

 History of Ayurveda

Ayurveda has been around since c. 3300 BCE, from ancient Vedic culture. It is said to be an eternal science that started from Brahma, the creator and the universal consciousness, who then passed it down to Dhanvantari, who accepted the knowledge through meditation. In this way, Ayurveda has been taught orally and through example for years until it was written down in the well-known texts known as the Vedas and Ayurvedic texts were available in the 8th-century BCE. Some of these texts include Charak Samhita, Sushurta Samhita, and Ashtanga Hridaya. They discuss ayurvedic methods of healing and how Ayurveda evolved.

  The earliest known practice of Ayurveda comes from the Aryans, the people who formed the center of civilizations in the Ganges Basin. They had begun to practice positive spirituality taught in the Vedas, and were cultivating the rice, mung beans, urad dal, ginger, and turmeric that were included in the Ayurvedic diet. 

However, its practice was not confined to India. As invasions by Genghis Khan and Mughals in the 13th and 16th centuries CE, respectively, made their way into conquering India, Ayurveda became the preferred way of medicine for many foreigners, and was able to rise to a higher standard throughout the world. Even as the British took control and tried to force a new way of life onto Indians, Ayurveda inspired the founding of the Indian Medical Institute in 1763, where botanists tried to understand the science behind Ayurvedic plants and methods. Even though the popularity of Ayurveda soon receded into the traditional outskirts of society, as India regained independence, its practices and beliefs were acknowledged and revived by the new government, and has continued to spread throughout the world. 

Ayurvedic Beliefs

The goal of Ayurvedic tradition is to maintain and balance health through the balance of the mind, body, and spirit, all of which are connected to the universe. This can be achieved by the right thought process, a healthy diet, and nutrient-rich herbs. When either the mind, body, or spirit is imbalanced by stress in a person’s consciousness, diseases are caused and the connection between the mind, body, spirit, and universe is disrupted. 

What exactly could be defined as health? A person is made up of a unique pattern of energy of physical, emotional, and mental characteristics. This energy causes the nutrients to distribute within the body, keeps a high metabolism, and acts as a lubricant for keeping cell structures together.  The five basic elements of nature, space, earth, air, water, and fire form the three basic types of energy, called doshas: vata, pitta, and kapha. They control body functions, bring in positive energy, and are used to define people of their strengths and weaknesses. Usually, one of these doshas is dominant in each person, another is secondary, and one of them is least prominent. Depending on which one is dominant, a person develops positive characteristics that pertain to that dosha. However, when one of these energies is imbalanced (due to stress on consciousness), the cells do not function properly; good health is ruined. 

Vata Dosha

The Vata dosha controls the basic body functions and movements, such as cell division, breathing, blood circulation, heart functions, blinking, and defecation. This energy is the strongest of all three, and it is composed of the elements space and air. When in balance, the Vata dosha promotes creativity and flexibility. This positivity is disrupted by over-frequent eating, fear, grief, and staying up too late; this develops into anxiety, asthma, heart disease, skin problems, and rheumatoid arthritis. People who have a dominating vata dosha have a tendency to let go of things as easily as they can grasp them, such as having high energy but easily exhaustible, or earning money quickly but spending it almost immediately. Vata people are also less confident, weak planners, and susceptible to diseases. They are attracted to raw vegetables, but have to eat warm, cooked food and juicy fruits to keep their diet stable. 

Pitta Dosha

The Pitta dosha controls the body’s metabolic system, the absorption of nutrition, and body temperature. It is made up of fire and water, and when these are balanced, pitta promotes intelligence and understanding. This can be disrupted by eating extremely sour or spicy foods or spending too much time in the sun; this imbalance causes anger, hatred, and jealousy. People with a primary Pitta dosha externally have medium height and build, and have many moles and freckles on their face. Internally, they have sharp intelligence and penetrating ideas, strong metabolism and appetites, and have ideal leadership qualities. Pitta people like to exhibit their material prosperity and are easily agitated and aggressive toward hate. As for the diet, Pitta are attracted to hot spices and like cold drinks, but salads, dairy products, and sweet foods are best for them. In order to balance this dosha, people should avoid excessive heat, exercise during the cooler part of the day, and eat cooling, non-spicy foods. 

Kapha Dosha

The Kapha dosha controls muscle growth, weight, body strength and stability, and the immune system, and it holds bones, muscles, and cells together. Since it has formed from Earth and water, it also supplies water for all parts and systems in the body. When in balance, the Kapha dosha expresses love, calmness, and forgiveness. However, by sleeping during the day, eating too many sweet foods or foods with too much salt and water, Kapha will provoke attachment, greed, and envy. With a dominant Kapha dosha, people have excellent strength, endurance, and stamina, yet they gain weight easily and have a slow metabolism, as they do not like exercise. These type of people are also calm, tolerant, and forgiving, and have a reliable long-term memory, but are vulnerable to flu, sinus congestion, and other diseases involving mucus. As for their diet, Kapha people are attracted to sweet, oily, and salty foods, but are balanced by bitter, astringent, and pungent foods. They also avoid sweet and sour fruits, and beans, raw honey, garlic, and ginger are best for Kapha people. To balance this dosha, people need to get plenty of exercise and avoid heavy foods. 

Treatment

Ayurvedic treatment helps regain balance and harmony with life, by increasing resistance, reducing stress, and removing impurities within the body, cleansing it to prevent disease. Ayurvedic treatment falls under 8 categories, as it depends on where the imbalance has occurred: 

  • Kaayachikitsa – Internal Medicine
  • Baalachikitsa – Pediatrics
  • Bhuta Vidya – Psychiatry
  • Shalakya Tantra – Ear, Nose and Throat Treatment
  • Shalya Tantra – Surgery (not practiced in the United States today)
  • Vishagara Vairodh Tantra – Toxicology
  • Jarachikitsa/Rasayana – Geriatrics and Rejuvenation
  • Vajikarana — Aphrodisiac Therapy, Fertility, and Conception

Usually, herbs, common spices, and oils are used in treatments, and these ingredients can be cooked into foods that possess specific healing properties. A common Ayurvedic food is Kitchari. The cooling spices used in it, cilantro, cinnamon, coriander, mint, and fennel help reduce inflammation in the body. 

Ayurveda is a science containing deep knowledge about the human body, but it is definitely not magic. It simply states that keeping stability in life the only way, and really the simplest way, to maintain excellent health.

दसरा!! Dasara – The festival of joy & righteousness

Apta Leaf
In Marathi, there is one saying
"दसरा सण मोठा,
नाही आनंदा तोटा"

This means that Dasara is such a festival which is full of joy, happiness and commemorates the triumph of good over evil. We celebrate the nine days beginning from Ashvin Shuddha Pratipada as "Navaratri" and the tenth day is celebrated as "Dasara / Vijaya Dashami". In 2020 अश्विन शुद्ध प्रतिपदा falls on Saturday October 17th.

During this vowed religious observance, a pot is installed (घटस्थापना) at a sanctified place at home. A lamp is kept lit in the pot for nine days. The pot symbolizes the universe. The uninterrupted lit lamp is the medium through which we worship the effulgent Adishakti, i.e. Shree Durgadevi. During Navratri, the principle of Shree Durgadevi is more active in the atmosphere.

Mahishasurmardini

There are a lot of anecdotes relevant to Navatri and Dasara. They say the demon "Mahishasur" started terrorizing Swarga Loka (Heaven) and Prithvi Loka (Earth) after Brahma granted him a boon that no man or god would be able to conquer him. . He invaded Swarga Loka and defeated the king of gods Indra and took control of Swarga Loka. He drove all the Devas (Gods) out of heaven. Eventually, they created his nemesis in the form of a young woman, Durga, also known as Shakti or Parvati. She combined the powers of all the gods to fight Mahishasura. The goddess then attacked Mahishasura's empire, and after nine days of fighting, during which Mahishasura's army was decimated, he was finally killed on the tenth day of the waxing moon by her incarnation Kali (which appeared from her forehead). Durga was henceforth called Mahishasuramardini, the killer of Mahishasura.

9 Forms of DurgaNavaratri is celebrated to worship nine forms of Durga Maa with fervour and devotion. Navaratri is celebrated in different ways throughout India. In Gujrat, they try to please the Goddess by a special dance called "Ras-Garba". In Bengal the festival of Durga Puja is celebrated. In Kearala, the "Onam" festival represents Navaratri and Dasara. They believe that Bali raja was so kind, that even if he was pushed to Patal lok (The nether world), he would come to the earth to see if everybody is doing good on Dasara.

In Mysore (an ancient city in the south Indian state of Karnataka, around 125 Km from Bangalore) there is a tradition of holding a grand procession through the streets of the city with the idol of the goddess Chamundeshwari riding in a golden Ambaari (elephant-seat).

Jai ShriramIn North India, Dasara is the day when Prabhu Shree Ram killed the demon Ravan. So the nine days are dedicated to Ramlila i.e chanting Rama Bhajans and on the tenth day statue of Ravan is burnt. The burning of the effigies is symbolic to cleanse society of all evil by burning it.

There is a very interesting story about why we give the leaves of "Shami" to each other on Dasara. They say that when Pandavas went to "Adnyatwas" they hid their weapons on Shami tree. And when the Adnyatwas was about to end the Kauravas took away the cows of Raja Virat under whose shelter Pandavas lived. So to save the cows Arjun got his weapons back from the "Shami" tree and that was "Dasara"

There is another very interesting story about the "आपट्याची पानं" (Leaves of Shami tree).
Apta Leaf
It goes like this:

Once there was a boy names Koutsa, who wanted to offer Gurudakshina to his Guru. his guru after Koutsa insisted, asked for 14 crores (140 Million) of gold coins. now Koutsa didnt have as many coins so he went to King Raghuraja. To fulfill his demand, Raghuraja decided to attack Indra and get the money. But when Indra came to know that Raghuraja was going to fight him he was scared, later he knew the main reason of the fight. So he requested Kuber (Treasurer of God) to load the "Shami" tree with gold coins. Now Koutsa offered all the coins to his guru but Guru accepted only 14 crores of coins nad asked Koutsa to put the remaining back on the tree. Later on those coins were distributed among people, and since that day was "Dasara" we give each other the "Shami" leaves symbolically.

Indians give a lot of importance to start any project, journey, activity or make a purchase at an auspicious time. According to Hindu Mythology there three and a half very auspicious days (साडे तीन मुहूर्तांपैकी एक) in an year on which you can start any project or make any purchase without waiting for an auspicious moment. Dasara is one of those days. Therefore many people buy jewellery on the occasion of Dasara. The 9th day is "Ayudha Pooja" when everyone gives their tools of the trade -- pens, machinery, books, automobiles, school work, computers etc. a rest and ritually worships them. They start afresh from the next day, the 10th day which is considered as 'Vijaya Dashami'. Many teachers/Schools in south India start teaching Kindergarten children from that day onwards. Students also pay homage to their respective teachers as they are considered the third god (माता, पिता, गुरू आणि दैव - Mother, Father, Teacher & God).

Quality issues with Apple Watch

iPod 5th Generation

Background

I have been a big fan of Apple devices for a really long time. Right from the iPod 4th Generation (I still have it and it still works even after 14 years) with Video to iPhone 11 Pro. Over the period of time I have used a lot of devices from Apple and swear by the quality, reliability and durability of Apple products. But sadly, nowadays the quality of the products has been declining quite a bit. Apple's image even took a beating after the Antenna-gate, Bendgate and Battery-gate issues. But it weathered the storm and kept bringing great products. Although they may not have been bleeding edge or latest technology or even the most innovative, they were high quality products. But now it seems there are quality issues with Apple Watch.

The issue

I'm afraid that there may be another scandal or issue brewing with its Apple Watch line of products. It could be called as Watchgate or Screengate. This is an issue with the Apple watch where the screen just pops off.
Apple watch with popped screen
Though by far, I am not the only one facing this issue as there are threads on Apple community discusions which you can read here and here. In fact one of my friends also faced this issue. It is a known issue and Apple has also acknowledged it as it is now a separate category on Apple's support page.
Apple support options
I faced this issue with Apple Watch Series 3 twice in the last 18 months. First time around it was within warranty and Apple quietly replaced the watch for me. But now when the screen popped the watch was out of warranty and they refused to repair it without me paying a ridiculous $159 repair fee.

Frustrated!!!

I was left with a watch whose screen had popped off. The poor glue was trying in vain to keep the assembly in place. Paying $159 for repair of a watch which I expected to again face the same issue didn't seem worth it. So I kind of resigned to not use my Apple Watch again. My wife even suggested getting a Fitbit so that we could be a Fitbit family. I was really frustrated and I fired off an email to Tim Cook the text of which is below:


Hello Mr. Cook,

I have been a lifelong Apple user starting from iPod 3rd generation and the successive products. In fact i have never used any other smart phone in my entire life. It was very exciting and great feeling to buy my Apple watch 3 around 1.5 years ago but since then my experience with the renowned Apple quality has not been what I have come to expect. The screen has a tendency to come off very now and then and it appears that the glue used is of low quality. I have been using the watch as per Apple's recommendations and have never even once taken it in water.

I had it repaired once last year and it was replaced for me. Now the new watch has the same problem in less than 9-10 months and now I have been asked to pay $159 for repairing the watch which doesn't seem right to me. It clearly is either a design or a manufacturing defect resulting from usage of low quality components in the manufacturing process.

I have worked at Apple for a few years and I know the rigorous demands on quality that Apple has and working at Apple has shaped me and my career in a positive manner.

I just hope you will take the time to read this email and take the appropriate action. I really love the Apple Watch and feel really bad to stop using it because of the issue.


Tim Cook is a busy man and he is preparing for Apple's event tomorrow on Oct 13th. But I believe he should address customer issues on priority.

Viola, the solution

Anyway, I slept over the issue and in the morning had a brain wave. What if I glue the screen with super glue? I always have some kind of all purpose super glue at home and this time around I had Gorilla Glue.Gorilla Glue

So the first thing I did in the morning was to apply a little bit of Gorilla glue around the edge and put the screen back. I took care to not damage or displace the connector which connects the screen to the body. I factory reset the watch several times in the day (I don't know why it didn't start up immediately), but finally by the end of the day it started working again and now I am very happy and proud to say that I fixed the Apple Watch myself without paying the ridiculous amount as repair charges and hopefully the watch is good for another couple of years.