Custom ROMs.. Flashing.. Rooting..

May 25, 2015Santosh No Comments »

Custom ROMs

stock ROM is the version of the phone’s operating system that comes with your phone when you buy it.

custom ROM is a fully standalone version of the OS, including the kernel (which makes everything run), apps, services, etc – everything you need to operate the device, except it’s customized by someone in some way.

So what does the “customized” part mean? Since Android is open source, developers are free to take stock ROMs, modify them, strip them of garbage, optimize them, add things, and pretty much do whatever their imagination and skills allow.

  • Why You Want Custom ROMs
  • Update Frequency

Using a custom ROM usually results in more frequent updates that fix bugs and introduce new features because the developer behind the ROM doesn’t have the same procedures and red tape that the manufacturer+carrier combo does.

  • A quality update can be churned faster because it doesn’t involve the bureaucracy of 30 different project managers, 15 vice presidents, and 5 dozen marketing departments.
  • A ROM developer usually gains a loyal community which beta tests his updates in real life situations and provide feedback, or even fixes bugs – that’s the beauty of open source software.
  • Oh and did I mention that ROMs are usually free and supported by optional donations? If you can’t afford to pay for it, you don’t have to.
  • Finally, most custom ROMs out there are updateable over the air (OTA) and without reinstalling anything.

Who doesn’t love open source after this?

  • Better Performance And Efficiency

Custom ROMs are oftentimes faster, more efficient, and use less memory because

  • the developer ripped out useless garbage, such as carrier installed apps or
  • the developer optimized the kernel. For example, an undervolted kernel can provide a much better battery life than the stock one.
  • Upgrading To A Better/Later Version Of Android

Most custom ROMs nowadays come with the ability to install applications to the SD card, called Apps2SD.

This is currently not possible on stock ROMs, even in Android 2.1 and is supposedly on Google’s TODO list.

If you have run out of space on your phone (which I have repeatedly on my Hero), Apps2SD is a killer feature to have.

  • About That Rooting Business…

Don’t confuse custom ROMs with rooting – they’re completely different.

The Downsides Of Custom ROMs

Of course, there are dangers of using custom ROMs which you should be aware of.

  • Something Could Go Wrong

First of all, something may go wrong with the flashing process (that’s the process of installing the ROM) and leave your phone in a bricked state. The chances of this are pretty low nowadays, and most of the time you can restore it back to normal.

Try to go for the ROM that has been tested by time and has lots of positive feedback.

  • Clean Wipe

In order to install a custom ROM, you need to perform a clean wipe.

This means you will lose all existing data, so you have to back everything up first.

  • Potential Problems

Custom ROMs could have bugs… but then so do the stock ones.

However, in case you do find a bug, you actually have a 2-way channel of reporting it – post in the ROM forum and you will more than likely get an answer back and your bug acknowledged.

Try doing this to your phone manufacturer and see if you can get past the first level of outsourced monkeys, let alone actual developers.

  • You May Void Your Warranty

It’s possible that custom rooting will void your warranty because you will “break the seal” on the boot loader by installing a custom one which on some phones apparently can’t be undone (this includes the Nexus One). Because of that, the manufacturer might be able to tell that the phone has had a custom ROM installed and not honor the warranty, in case you need to use it.

Now, in most cases, the benefits of the custom ROM outweigh the possibility of your warranty being denied. I recommend getting a warranty from your carrier and using that in case anything bad happens (that warranty is usually unconditional and covers things like losses and physical damage).

What’s A Bootloader?
Taken from: Android 101

In literal terms, the bootloader is code that is executed before any Operating System starts to run. Bootloaders basically package the instructions to boot operating system kernel and most of them also have their own debugging or modification environment. Think of the bootloader as a security checkpoint for all those partitions. Because if you’re able to swap out what’s on those partitions, you’re able to break things if you don’t know what you’re doing.

As the bootloader kicks off before any piece of software on your device, it makes it extremely processor specific and every motherboard has it’s own bootloader. This is one reason that all Android phones have different custom ROMS developed due to high variance of processing hardware present on the device.

Android Bootloader
Every Android phone has a bootloader that instructs the operating system kernel to boot normally. But you need to understand one thing here that as Android OS is an open source OS and is available on a variety of different hardware, every manufacturer has their own version of bootloader specific for the hardware present in it’s environment. At its most basic level, your Android smartphone is like a hard drive, made of up several partitions. One of those partitions holds the Android system files, another holds all the app data you accumulate (which is how you’re usually able to update without losing all your stuff), and others to do more behind-the scenes stuff.

A lot has been said about bootloaders being “locked” and even the developer-friendly Nexus devices shipped with a locked bootloader (Nexus devices and a couple tablets are easily unlocked with a single command).In fact, a lot bootloaders are locked and encrypted, meaning simple commands like “fastboot oem unlock”, won’t do a thing.

Why are Bootloaders Locked?
A bootloader is usually locked on an Android device because although it’s an open source OS, still the manufacturers want you to stick to their Android OS version specifically designed for the device. In order to apply this concept, manufacturers lock the bootloader. With a locked bootloader on Android devices, it is virtually impossible to flash a Custom ROM and forced attempts void warranty as well as usually end up in bricks. Therefore, the first step is to always unlock the bootloader.

Why keep a bootloader out of reach? One of the biggest reasons is that the carriers and manufacturers don’t want to have to support hacked phones. The other is that a lot of time and money is spent developing these things. HTC Sense ain’t cheap. Neither is TouchWiz. But Samsung and HTC both have managed to find a middle ground with the modding community, and pressure is on other companies to do so as well.

Also a very good read about bootloaders:…hy-it-matters/

What’s a kernel?
Taken from: Android A to Z: What is a kernel? | Android Central

A kernel isn’t something unique to Android — iOS and MacOS have one, Windows has one, BlackBerry’s QNX has one, in fact all high level operating systems have one. The one we’re interested in is Linux, as it’s the one Android uses. Let’s try to break down what it is and what it does.

Android devices use the Linux kernel, but it’s not the exact same kernel other Linux-based operating systems use. There’s a lot of Android specific code built in, and Google’s Android kernel maintainers have their work cut out for them. OEMs have to contribute as well, because they need to develop hardware drivers for the parts they’re using for the kernel version they’re using. This is why it takes a while for independent Android developers and hackers to port new versions to older devices and get everything working. Drivers written to work with the Gingerbread kernel on a phone won’t necessarily work with the Ice Cream Sandwich kernel. And that’s important, because one of the kernel’s main functions is to control the hardware. It’s a whole lot of source code, with more options while building it than you can imagine, but in the end it’s just the intermediary between the hardware and the software.

When software needs the hardware to do anything, it sends a request to the kernel. And when we say anything, we mean anything. From the brightness of the screen, to the volume level, to initiating a call through the radio, even what’s drawn on the display is ultimately controlled by the kernel. For example — when you tap the search button on your phone, you tell the software to open the search application. What happens is that you touched a certain point on the digitizer, which tells the software that you’ve touched the screen at those coordinates. The software knows that when that particular spot is touched, the search dialog is supposed to open. The kernel is what tells the digitizer to look (or listen, events are “listened” for) for touches, helps figure out where you touched, and tells the system you touched it. In turn, when the system receives a touch event at a specific point from the kernel (through the driver) it knows what to draw on your screen. Both the hardware and the software communicate both ways with the kernel, and that’s how your phone knows when to do something. Input from one side is sent as output to the other, whether it’s you playing Angry Birds, or connecting to your car’s Bluetooth.

It sounds complicated, and it is. But it’s also pretty standard computer logic — there’s an action of some sort generated for every event. Without the kernel to accept and send information, developers would have to write code for every single event for every single piece of hardware in your device. With the kernel, all they have to do is communicate with it through the Android system API’s, and hardware developers only have to make the device hardware communicate with the kernel. The good thing is that you don’t need to know exactly how or why the kernel does what it does, just understanding that it’s the go-between from software to hardware gives you a pretty good grasp of what’s happening under the glass. Sort of gives a whole new outlook towards those fellows who stay up all night to work on kernels for your phone, doesn’t it?

What’s CWM?
Taken from: AddictiveTips » Blog ArchiveWhat Is ClockworkMod Recovery And How To Use It On Android [Complete Guide]

ClockworkMod, abbreviated as CWM, is a popular custom recovery for Android phones and tablets developed by Koushik Dutta (Koush), a well-known name in the Android dev community. ClockworkMod recovery allows you to perform several advanced recovery, restoration, installation and maintenance operations on your Android device that aren’t possible with the stock recovery, and is one of the most common ways used to gain root access, back up device data, install a custom ROMs, kernels, themes, mods and more. However, for anyone new to Android customization and hacking, some of its options might prove to be a tad confusing. In what follows, we will cover all that this recovery is capable of doing, and how to do it.

About Android Recovery
All Android devices ship with a recovery console that is basically a partition on the device’s internal memory and can be booted into. The stock recovery of almost all Android devices provides a few basic yet handy options that allow you to factory reset your device and also to recover its operating system using an official ROM in zip format, but that’s all you can do with it. That’s where a custom recovery comes handy.

A custom Android recovery basically replaces the stock recovery with one that lets you do all you can do with the stock recovery, plus a plethora of more options to give you a lot more control on your device. With a custom recovery, you can install official and unofficial ROMs as well as other updates including apps, themes, kernels etc. using zip files, wipe not just user data but pretty much every partition on your device, mount the storage card for USB mass storage access without leaving recovery, partition your SD card, wipe Dalvik cache and battery stats, fix permissions, perform, manage and restore backups and so on.

Introduction To ClockworkMod
ClockworkMod recovery is one of the most widely used custom Android recoveries that is available for most mainstream Android devices. It is our custom recovery of choice here at AddictiveTips and almost every custom ROM that we install on our devices is done using this recovery.

ClockworkMod recovery has been developed by Koushik Dutta (also known as Koush) – the same guy who brought us the Android ROM Manager. He can be found at his blog hacking away at Android devices and at Twitter.

CWM options explained:
[REF] CWM – Clockworkmode menu options & Partitions– GENERAL KNOWLEDGE – xda-developers

What’s Firmware?
Taken from: What is Firmware, Rom and Firmware Flashing ? – I Teach Android

What the heck is this firmware? Definition of firmware is permanent software programmed into a read-only memory
In Simple words, you can understand it like windows for pc , in case of android we are going to do same thing – installing firmware (Froyo,Gingerbread, ICS, Jelly Bean etc.) on your phone. All phones have their different firmwares and installing tools regard less to the Andriod version (Froyo,Gingerbred). So never think that we can install any firmware on any android phone like we do in PCs.
Wiki link for even more info: Firmware – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

What’s Flashing?

Flashing refers to the overwriting of existing data on ROM modules present in an electronic device with new data. This can be done to upgrade a device or to change the provider of a service associated with the function of the device, such as changing from one mobile phone service provider to another or installing a new operating system.
In simple words flashing is called installing firmware on your phone.

What’s Rooting?
Taken from: Rooting for Android: What, why and how? | Ubergizmo
WiKi link:

When carriers and manufacturers sell you your device, it is almost certain that the device would come with certain software restrictions in place. There are a variety of different reasons why they might do that – some claim that this is done to protect the user, preserve the device’s warranty (this policy will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer), prevent users from getting rid of carrier bloatware apps or simply because the manufacturer would prefer if your device was distinguishable from the competition based purely on its user interface (i.e. Samsung’s TouchWiz, HTC Sense UI, etc).

Whatever their reasoning may be, chances are if you are looking to customize your device on a deeper level, you’d be out of luck and this is where rooting comes into play.

Rooting is essentially a process that allows users of smartphones, tablets or other devices running on Android to gain “superuser” access to the software. This will allow the user to perform administrative tasks such as writing to locations normally restricted by the system which in turn will allow for deeper customization. For iOS users, rooting on Android devices could be thought of as a close equivalent to jailbreaking your device.

What are custom ROMs?
Taken from: Custom ROMs For Android Explained – Here Is Why You Want Them

A stock ROM is the version of the phone’s operating system that comes with your phone when you buy it.

A custom ROM is a fully standalone version of the OS, including the kernel (which makes everything run), apps, services, etc – everything you need to operate the device, except it’s customized by someone in some way.
So what does the “customized” part mean? Since Android is open source, developers are free to take stock ROMs, modify them, strip them of garbage, optimize them, add things, and pretty much do whatever their imagination and skills allow.

What is ADB?
Taken from: Android 201: What is adb? | Android Central

According to Google “Android Debug Bridge (adb) is a versatile tool lets you manage the state of an emulator instance or Android-powered device.” That certainly sounds like Google, doesn’t it? To put it simply, adb is two different applications — one running on your computer (Windows, Linux or Mac) and one running on your phone. When your phone is connected, and USB debugging is enabled, you can issue commands and communicate with the phone using your computer screen and keyboard.

Your Android phone uses a modified Linux kernel and tools as a base. This means that quite a few Linux commands can be sent via the adb server (the one running on your computer) to the adb client (the one running on your phone) and they will be executed. In our example picture, I’ve sent the “top” command over the wire to my phone, and my phone sent me back the information and printed it to my terminal.

This can be awfully handy for debugging things that aren’t going right, as well sending those weird commands you need when you’re hacking away in the middle of the night. Chances are, if you aren’t actively debugging something or trying to break hack at your phone, you won’t have much use for adb. And that’s OK — there’s more than one way to have fun with an Android device.

What’s baseband?
Baseband is the Radio or Modem version depending upon the Phone Model, Carrier and Android Software Stack version. The Radio/Modem file is flashed via Recovery tool (other options are ADB/ODIN). The mismatched Radio/Modem and ROM will lead to things not working. You need to find the matching Radio/Modem for the particular ROM you are running.

The radio firmware controls basic low-level functions like network connectivity, Wi-Fi, and GPS. Upgrading Radio firmware will fix connectivity issues, increase range or performance, decrease battery usage, etc. Incorrec tRadio frimeware can disable some functions in your phone such as MMS, 3G Data, VM Notifications, etc. Network operators/carriers select the correct version of the Radio firmware that is suitable for the phone, network and bandwidth.

There is also Modem and Baseband Radio Processor chipsets in Mobile phones. Usually, Google, Phone Manufacturers and carriers develop various types of modem firmware/software that controls the functions of these chipsets.

Firmware is the overall version of the Android system on your phone. Baseband version is the version of the radio embedded in the device. Since Android is based on the Linux operating system, they show you the current version of the Kernel used in the heart of the system. The Build number is just an indicator of which numerical version of the current overall system was built by developers for your device.

You cannot update any of these from the official web site. Updates to the Android system are pushed to the phone over-the-air by the manufacturer or the cell phone carrier. The only other way to update or change an Android phone it to install custom modified ROMs in place of the existing system firmware. That usually requires rooting the phone and a fairly considerable knowledge of how to hack hardware.

What’s Dalvik?…and-downfalls/
Dalvik is named after a fishing village in Iceland where ancestors of Dan Bornstein, the person who wrote the VM’s original code, lived. Dalvik is designed for fast execution speeds and operatation in resource-constrained environments like those in mobile devices (with limited memory, CPU and battery power). A Dalvik VM is designed to run multiple instances of itself with each instance hosted on its own separate process and running one application each. When one instance crashes, other concurrently running applications don’t suffer.

Although Android apps are written in Java, they are first compiled into the Dalvik Executable (DEX) format to make them run on the Dalvik VM. DEX files are generally smaller than compressed .JAR (Java Archive) files, making them suitable for mobile devices.

The main difference between Dalvik and a typical Java VM is that the former is register-based while the latter is stack-based. Register-based VMs require fewer instructions than their stack-based counterparts. Although the register-based VMs also require more code, they are generally considered to exhibit faster startups and have better performance than stack-based VMs.

The Dalvik source code license is based on the Apache license. That means, it is free to modify and hence attractive to mobile phone carriers.

What’s init.d?

init.d is a folder located at /system/etc
To keep it simple, it allows the user to run scripts at system startup/ boot.
You can adjust many different things/settings with scripts. You can tweak system settings, prolong battery life etc.
To enable init.d and to get some scripts, go here:….php?t=1881401

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Random Shots

August 2, 2013Santosh No Comments »
Random Shots

Just landed…

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August 8, 2010Santosh No Comments »
Perfume.. It’s  more than a great sensory addition to an outfit. A perfect scent will enable you to leave your own mark on someone. It’s your own sensory signature. Sometimes someonewalks by and you can smell a refreshing perfume and sometimes the smell is so overpowering you turn around to see who’s  wearing it! The strength of smells varies with the percentage of essential oils and how much they’re diluted. Perfume bases are 78% to 95% denatured ethyl alcohol, and essential oils make up the rest of the scent.
Did you know ?
Perfume is the most expensive, and is made up of about 22% of essential oils.
Eau de Parfum is the next in line and is 15-22% essential oils.
Eau de Toilette is 8-15% of essential oils.
Eau de Cologne is about 4% essential oils.
Woodsy: Earthy, refreshing and energetic, these are great for causal, everyday wear.
Fruity: Great for warm weather, these are fruity, spicy and tropical.
Floral: Always a classic, floral perfumes are feminine and romantic.
Oceanic: These have a modern smell that uses synthetic elements to evoke the smells of the beach.
Orientals: Spicy and sexy, these scents are dominated by notes of musk, vanilla or heavy flowers.
Also, every fragrance has three perfume notes – top, middle and base.
The top note is what you smell right after application (mostly alcohol) and lasts for one minute. The body of the perfume is the middle note, which is acquired 5 to 30 minutes after application. The base note is how the scent smells after mixing with your skin and body, and is produced two hours after application. These three perfume notes are the reason why you shouldn’t purchase perfumes simply because they smelled lovely on someone else. Everyone’s skin will react differently with a perfume, producing middle and base notes unique to individual body chemistry.
At the perfume counter, spray the perfume directly onto your skin rather than on the sample cardboards, and don’t smell it directly from the bottle. After you’ve spritzed yourself, wait 30 seconds to smell the scent so that you don’t get a whiff primarily of alcohol. Like wine, perfume needs some time to breathe and open up. If you’re still unsure what perfume is best after spraying 10 different types, ask for a sample to take home. Once you find the perfect scent, go back and make the purchase. Also, ask the perfume salesperson for coffee beans, not to munch on, but to smell in between each perfume to neutralize  the smells. That way, you’ll  smell each individual smell, not a mixture of smells.
Apply the perfume to your pulse points, such as your neck, wrist, cleavage, and the folds of your elbow and knees.


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Automatic flush toilets

February 12, 2010Santosh No Comments »

These days I see that lot of public restrooms install automatic toilet flush systems. I see the general idea or so called ‘the good intention’ behind the invention – to avoid spreading germs. It’s supposed to give us the helping hand by flushing the toilet without us ever touching the flush knob. Very nice idea, but there some serious issues with the way they implement it sometimes. We have one in our office and I am so fearful of the auto flush, I try to avoid  going there as far as possible !

First of all, it often  goes off when I don’t really need it. Ok, I can handle that, but what bothers me most is I can’t really make it go off again when I need it ! I wave my hands in front of the sensor and hope that it would go off.. nothing ! I have seen manual override switch on some auto flush systems, but what we have at our  office doesn’t have that. I looked all over there is no override ! You are left at the mercy of the flush release mechanism.

Few days ago, when I was trying to make it go off, it suddenly worked ! In case you have ever had this issue, may be you can try this.. When you want it to go off, move away from sensor’s ‘sight’ (which is usually a straight line that you block when you are using the toilet). Hold your palm 6 inches away from the sensor for about 10 seconds. The model we have at our office has a green LED that keeps flashing all the time. Wait until it stops flashing (usually within 10 seconds) and then remove your hand… flush goes off..

Why not allow  manual override button as a backup release mechanism ? Are designers just that dumb or the want their product to be in total control ? Either way, I don’t care anymore… I have found the override and for that I don’t need to press any buttons !!

Now I wish I could open the restroom door without having to touch the knob ! Any ideas ??!!!

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Auto shop rip-off !

December 5, 2009Santosh No Comments »

I visited a local Meineke car care center#256 in NJ today (39 Finderne ave, Bridgewater, NJ 08807) to check on brakes as my car was making noise whenever I applied the brakes.

I walked in and the owner himself asked me what needs to be done. I said “I need you guys to inspect my car’s brakes for me”. He asked “Something specifically wrong with them?”. I said “It makes squeaky noise when I apply brakes”.
He inspected those and called me inside the shop to discuss the estimate. He had removed 2 wheels from passenger side of the car (1 front, 1 back). He said “The front rotor/pads are thin. We can’t refinish rotors, we will have to replace them.” I asked “what about back axle?” He said “Back axle is fine, you don’t’ need to replace those rotors/pads”. Total estimated cost to replace rotors/pads/hardware on the front axle was estimated at $400. I asked him if he can show me the new rotor that he is going to use on my car – just to see how bad my brakes were. He went inside and came back with a rotor. I realized right away that it was a different model and had a different shape. He said it will be similar to the one I have on my car but new like ‘this’ one. So I couldn’t compare.
I agreed to pay $400 and get it fixed. Then the car was fixed after 2 hours and taken out for the test drive (by some other guy). When he came back and hit on brakes to park it, I was able to hear the noise! I asked him about it, he said it will go away once the rear ones are replaced. I said “But the owner said that the rear ones are just fine?”. He didn’t know how to answer that question, so he went inside and came back with  “those can last for  some more time, so you don’t have to replace them right away”.
I decided to drive it around for some time so I took off. After driving for few miles I realized that nothing had changed noise wise ! So I went back to the store and mentioned about the noise still being there. He said “but you didn’t say anything about the noise !” That was a news to me ! That was totally dishonest answer and I simply couldn’t believe the direction he was  heading into ! He had asked if I had any specific issues and I had clearly mentioned about the noise. But then again, it was  he said/she said kind of a situation. I know for sure what I had mentioned to him, I could recall all my conversaion, he couldn’t (or at least he didn’t agree) !
He suggested replacing the rear axle rotors/pads for me to fix the noise issue. I asked “How much?”. He said “for the  same cost.. $400!”. I wasn’t going to go that route anyway, at least not in that workshop !

So this is where I stand: After wasting 2 hours of my Saturday morning, $400 hole in my pocket and lots of frustration,  I stillhave the problem I started the day with ! I tried to contact meineke but they don’t have contact numbers on their website for customer care/complaints etc. I could only find local store numbers. I have emailed them but I don’t expect any response anyway. Each shop is individually owned and operated… so there goes the hope of resolving the matter by escalating it !

This is really frustrating ! You don’t know much about cars and these car shops rip you off every time you visit them. They offer $40 off on brakes and make sure that the amount is adjusted in the estimate ! The rotors for my car are available online for about $25-$35 and he charged me $70 for each. Same is the case with brake pads.. a pair is available for $25-35 (top of the line ceramic pad set sells for $80), and I paid $119   !

Just be warned: If you go there because you have a pain in the arm, you most likely will end up with a new prosthetic leg !!

Addendum:I just came across this website called ‘’  and searched for keyword ‘meineke’ and got so many complaint reports !!   Check it out.

Comments welcome ! :)

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Heaven and Hell

October 25, 2009Santosh No Comments »

I stumbled upon this mallu joke  which I thought of sharing with you all. Hope you like it.

Background: The word ‘mallu’ is affactionately used to address people from southern Indian state of Kerala (the language they speak is called Malayalam, hence the word mallu).

To follow this joke, you must be an Indian citizen or must have deep Indian roots, or you must be an ABCD (if you don’t know what ABCD means, you are wasting your time reading this page) or you must hold 3 year diploma in Indian culture.

Disclaimer: No intentions to hurt/offend anybody.. :)

Here we go:

The angel Gabriel came to the Lord and said ‘I have to talk to you.  We have some Mallus up here in Heaven & they are causing problems. They’re swinging on the pearly gates, my horn is missing, they are wearing Lungis and Kerala saris instead of their white robes, they are riding  Mercedes and BMW’s instead of the chariots, and they’re selling  their halos to people for discount prices. They refuse to keep the stairway to Heaven clear, since they keep crouching down midway  eating samosas and drinking chai. Some of them Are even walking around with just one wing!’  The Lord said, ‘Mallus are Mallus. Heaven is home to all my children. If you want to know about real problems, give Satan a call.’

Gabriel called Satan to talk about it. Satan said  ‘Hello? Damn, hold on a minute.’  Satan returned to the phone, ‘OK I’m back.  What can I do for you?’ Gabriel replied, ‘I just wanted to know what kind of problems you’re having down there.’ Satan says, ‘Hold on again. I need to check on something.’ After about 5 minutes Satanreturns to the phone and said, ‘Man I don’t believe this…….Hold on.’  This time Satan was gone at least 15 minutes. He returned and said, “I am sorry Gabriel, I can’t talk right now. These Mallus down here  have put out the fire in hell and are trying to install air conditioning !!”

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The lightning phenomenon

August 16, 2009Santosh 2 Comments »

Lightning: A giant discharge of electricity accompanied by a brilliant flash of light and a loud crack of thunder. The discharge can occur between the cloud and the ground, other clouds, or within a single cloud. The electric field within the storm is much stronger than the one between the storm base and the earth ‘s surface, so about 75-80% of lightning occurs within the storm cloud (which never reaches the ground). The spark is only about 1-2 inches in diameter but can reach over five miles (eight kilometers) in length, raise the temperature of the air by as much as 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit (27,700 degrees Celsius), and contain a hundred million electrical volts. One thing is for sure,when that discharge of electricity occurs from clouds to the ground, you don’t want to be in that path ! Although most of us relate lightning to the thunderstorms, it’s been seen in volcanic eruptions, extremely intense forest fires, surface nuclear detonations, heavy snowstorms, and in large hurricanes as well.

What causes it?
The creation of lightning is a complicated process. We generally know what conditions are needed to produce lightning, but the exact way a cloud builds  up the electrical charges that lead to lightning is not completely understood. Convection theorists believe that a moving thunderstorm gathers  positively charged particles along the ground that travel with the storm. Bottom parts of clouds contain negatively charged particles. As the differences in charges continue to increase, positively charged particles rise up tall objects such as trees, houses, and telephone poles—and people. The negatively charged bottom part of the storm sends out an invisible charge toward the ground. When the charge gets close to the ground, it is attracted by all the positively charged objects, and a channel develops. The subsequent electrical transfer in the channel is lightning. Lightning in turn balances the charges and it stops within fraction of a second. The thunder is a bi-product of the lightning. Thunder is the sound caused by rapidly expanding gases along a channel of lightning discharge. Energy from lightning heats the air to 20-50,000 degrees Fahrenheit. This causes a rapid expansion of the air, creating a sound wave.

Some facts about lightning and precautions to take:
1. Each second there are 50 to 100 Cloud-to-Ground Lightning Strikes to the Earth world-wide.
2. Most lightning strikes average 2 to 3 miles long and carry a current of 10000 Amps at 100 million Volts.
3. Thunder can only be heard about 12 miles away under good quiet outdoor conditions.
4. Lightning can kill people or cause cardiac arrest. Injuries range from severe burns and permanent brain damage to memory loss and personality change. About 10 percent of lightning-struck victims are killed, and 70 percent suffer serious long-term effects. About 400 people survive lightning strokes in the U.S. each year.
5. You can get struck by lightning even when the center of a thunderstorm is 10 miles (16 kilometers) away and there are blue skies overhead.
6. If your hair stands up in a storm, it could be a bad sign that positive charges (in the ground) are rising through you, reaching toward the negatively charged part of the storm. Your best bet is to get yourself immediately indoors.
7. The threat of lightning continues for a much longer period than most people realize. Wait at least 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder before leaving shelter. Don’t be fooled by sunshine or blue sky!
8. Inside homes, people should stay away from windows and doors and avoid contact with anything that conductselectricity, including land line telephones.
9. Surge protectors do not protect against direct lightning strikes. Unplug equipment such as computers and televisions.
10. A house or other substantial building offers the best protection from lightning. For a shelter to provide protection from lightning, it must contain a mechanism for conducting the electrical current from the point of contact to the ground. These mechanisms   may be on the outside of the  structure, may be contained within the walls of the structure, or may be a combination of the two. On the outside, lightning can travel along the outer shell of the building or may follow metal gutters and downspouts to the ground. Inside a structure, lightning can follow conductors such as the electrical wiring, plumbing, and telephone lines to the ground.
11. A shelter that does not contain plumbing or wiring throughout or some other mechanism for grounding from the roof to ground is not safe. Small wooden, vinyl, or metal sheds offer little or no protection from lightning and should be avoided during thunderstorms.
12. Avoid contact with cement concrete walls, which contain metal reinforcing bars.
13. Avoid using washers and dryers, since they have contacts with the plumbing/water and electrical systems.
14. Rubber shoes will not give you any meaningful protection from lightning.
15. A car (with a metal top) can offer you some protection – but keep your hands from the metal sides.
16. Always avoid being the highest object anywhere—or taking shelter near or under the highest object, including tall trees. Avoid being near a lightning rod or standing near metal objects such as a fence or underground pipes.

If someone is struck:
1. If a person is struck by lightning, medical care may be needed immediately to save the person’s life. Cardiac arrest and irregularities, burns, and nerve damage are common in cases where people are struck by lightning.
2. With proper treatment, including CPR if necessary, most victims survive a lightning strike.
3. Victims of lightning do not retain the charge and are not “electrified.” It is safe to help them.

It will be nice to get struck by the lightning and then live to tell about it, isn’t it ? But then on one of these days, may be not !! 😉

Most of the information on this page was adapted from the NOAA’s National Weather Service’s Lightning Safety Web site. The animation image was taken from the wikipedia website.

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August 8, 2009Santosh 2 Comments »

After a very heavy rain over night, I captured this shot the next day morning. These are droplets formed  naturally  on the back of the dead tree leaf. I moved it indoors and placed  on a black paper for this shot.

I really like the shape of droplets here,  they are perfectly round. Hope you guys like it. As always, comments welcome !!

Thanks for visiting!

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Capturing the lightning bolt

August 1, 2009Santosh 7 Comments »

Here is my attempt to capture the lightning  on a stormy night. Pl let me know what you think.


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INS Arihant – India joins an elite club

July 28, 2009Santosh No Comments »

India launched it’s first indigenously built nuclear-powered submarine named ‘INS Arihant’ (destroyer of enemy) this weekend. With this, India joins an elite clubof 5 nations comprising of the US, Russia, France, the UK and China,  which possess capabilities to build nuclear  submarines. INS Arihant has been built under the advanced technology vessels (ATV) programme at a cost of $2.9 billion at the naval dockyard in Visakhapatnam. The secret nuclear submarine project was started in the 1980s though it was envisioned by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 70s.

Some stats now.. The 6000 ton submarine is powered by an 85 megaWatts capacity nuclear reactor. It can acquire surface speeds of 22 to 28 kmph and submerged speed upto 44 kmph. It can carry a crew of 95 and will be armed with torpedoes and missiles including 12 ballistic missiles.

INS  Arihant can also be armed with cruise missiles including 700-km K-15 missile, capable of carrying nuclear weapons. With US, Russia and China already fielding 5,000-7,000 km range missiles, 700 km sounds pretty lame in comparison. But hey, you got to start somewhere right ?

There are concerns that this may trigger an arms race in the region and destabilize it. But lets face it, wasn’t that the concern when India developed it’s first nuclear capabilities few years ago? Besides, India believes in “no first strike” theory, which means India will only use nuclear weapons as a retaliatory measure against a first strike by the enemy, they won’t strike first. So as long as you are a good, peace-loving, god-fearing country and don’t attack India (for whatever reason), you have nothing to worry about !!


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Sonia Sotomayor Grilling

July 19, 2009Santosh 2 Comments »

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has begun a public confirmation hearing for Sonia Sotomayor to take a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, which would make her the court’s first Hispanic justice. Sotomayor was nominated by President Barack Obama. Republican senators began their attacks on Judge Sonia Sotomayor last week. The grilling by the Senate Judiciary Committee usually continues for days touching upon various subjects including gun rights, antitrust cases, abortion, affirmative action and so on.

Here are some details of the hearing plan:
Day1: The 19-member Senate Judiciary Committee will begin its hearing. Each of the 12 Democrats and seven Republicans on the committee will be allowed opening statements up to 10 minutes.
Day2: The hearing resumes with questioning of the nominee. Each senator will be allotted 30 minutes for this first round of examination.
Day3: The hearing resumes. he first round of questions is expected to be completed by mid-day, at which time the committee will move into closed-door session with Sotomayor to discuss her FBI background review. After a lunch break, the committee will resume open session  and will begin the second round of questions. This time, each senator will be allotted 20 minutes.
Day4: The hearing will resume. If the committee has not completed its second round of questioning it likely will do so on Thursday. Some senators may request additional time. Then they will hear from outside witnesses.

After the hearing concludes, committee members are typically given a week to submit written questions. After Sotomayor answers them, the committee will vote whether to recommend her for confirmation by the full Senate. After at least a few days of debate, the Democratic-led Senate will vote on  Sotomayor. Questioning was expected to continue for several more days. A vote on confirmation could come by the end of the month.

Here is what I am confused about..
A room full of people spend lot of tax payer’s money to go over someone’s views and to find out where they stand on key issues. And all this continues for days, even weeks if you consider the complete process start to end. This also gets lot of media attention with bunch of network television channels  broadcasting the news and/or hearing coverage most of the day. Now, correct me if I got this all wrong, but isn’t it true that they don’t really have a ‘choice’ here ? All they are doing is grilling  ONE candidate which they will eventually confirm ? So why not start with at least   2 or may be 3 candidates, grill all of them (as much as you want) and choose a best one ? At least that adds some value. What’s the point in grilling just one person who will be nominated at the end anyway ?

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Konkan Railway (कोकणरेल्वे: काल आज आणि उद्या)

July 11, 2009Santosh No Comments »

** Apologies to those who can’t read Marathi script **

I wrote this back in 1995, thought of posting here. Comments welcome !

कोकणरेल्वे: काल आज आणि उद्या

(जून १९९५)

कोकणरेल्वे… उंचसखल डोंगराळ भाग आणि फेसाळणार्‍या नद्या यांच्यावर कुरघोडी करुन विज्ञानाच्या मदतीने स्विकारलेली एक भलीदांडगी योजना. आता तर ती बहुतांशी पुर्णही होत आलीय. पण तीच्या स्वागतासाठी सज्ज झालेलं मन मात्र साशंक आहे. तीच्यापासून होणार्‍या फायद्याने सुखावण्यापेक्षा होणार्‍या नुकसानाने मन भेडावलंय. निसर्गरम्य कोकणचा उभा छेद घेत जाणारी ही रेल्वे आपल्या रुपाने जे काही आणणार आहे त्यापेक्षा बरंच काही इथून घेऊन जाणार आहे हीच खंत मन जाळतेय. उन्नत्तीसाठीम्हणून ती येणार आहे, पण इथला समतोल पार बिघडवून जाणार आहे.बहुतांशी कोकणी माणूस हा रसिक आणि हळूवार मनाचा असतो. गर्द हिरवी रानं, नीळंशार आभाळ आणि लालभडक माती असं वेड लावणारं वातावरण लहानपणापासून बघीतल्यावर, त्यात मनमुराद भटकल्यावर तो रसीक न झाला तरच नवल! कष्टाळूपणा अंगात मुरलेला.. छक्केपंजे ठावूक नाहीत. सरळमार्गी जगणं. खिशात दमडी नसेल पण तुमची उठबस करण्यात कुठेही कमी पडणार नाही. तुमच्यावर मर्जी बसली तर कमरेचं वस्त्रही काढून देईल पण एकदा का मनातून उतरलात, की तुम्ही मेलात तरी ढुंकूनही बघणार नाही. गरजेपुरता पैसाही हातात न आल्याने मग्रुरी, व्यवहारीपणा याचा गंध नाही. कुणीही यावं आणि फसवून जावं. आपण फसवले गेलोय हे समजल्यावरही तो आपल्या नशिबाला दोष देईल. फारतर तुम्हाला शिव्या घालून तुमच्या आयाबहीणींचा, पोराटोरांचा उध्दार करीत पार आजोबा पणजोबांपर्यंत पोहोचेल, पण हातून मात्र काहीच होणार नाही. म्हणूनच जणू काही मालवणीत शिव्यांचं अमाप भांडार जपून ठेवलेलं, कधी कुणावर उधळलं जाईल सांगता यायचं नाही !इथली जमीन मात्र बरीचशी डोंगराळ आणि निकस. त्यामुळे वरुणराजाची कॄपाद्रूष्टी असूनही चार महिनेच भात, नाचणी करता येते. इतर वेळी जमीन पडीक. या चार महिन्यात जे काही कमावलं असेल, त्यावर वर्ष काढायचं. उन्हाळ्यात काजू, आंबा, फणस, कोकमं यांचं उत्पन्नं येतं, तो एक दिलासा. बाकीचं वर्ष तसं काटकसरीतच जातं. चाकोरीबाहेर जावून काही करायचं म्हणजे पैसा नसतो, तरी कुणासमोर हात पसरायची सहसा वेळ येत नाही.

इथला परिसर जेवढा निसर्गरम्य तेवढाच शांतही. डोंगराच्या कुशीत दडलेली एखादी वाडी, त्यात विखरून पडलेली दहाविस घरं… माडांच्या रांगा आणि आंब्या-फणसांच्या गर्दीत घरं शोधूनही सापडायची नाहित. एखादा मातीचा रस्ता.. त्यावरुन धूळ उडवत जाणारा एस.टी. चा तांबडा डबा.. प्रत्येक गावात एकतरी नदी, किमान एखादा मोठा ओहोळ तरी असणारच. माणसांपेक्षा पक्षांचाच दंगा जास्त. मोठे कारखाने नाहित त्यामुळे प्रदुषण, बाहेरगावच्या लोकांची वर्दळ हा प्रकार नाही. इथले सागरी किनारेही तसेच शांत. निसर्गाने नटलेले असूनही निर्जन. असं हे इथलं वातावरण.. संपूर्ण काव्यमय. इथला प्रत्येक माणूस रोज काव्य जगतो म्हटलं तरी ते वावगं ठरु नये !

पण आता हे सारं बदलणार आहे. हळूहळू बदलायला सुरूवातही झालीय. रेल्वे आल्यामुळे मुंबई अधिक ’जवळ’ येईल. दळणवळणाचं पुर्वीपेक्षा अधिक प्रभावी साधन मिळाल्यामुळे इथे कारखाने वाढतील. इथल्या रहिवाश्यांना रोजगार मिळेल. आंबे, काजू, फणस, मासे यांची निर्यात वाढेल. पर्यायाने  हाती पैसा खेळेल.

ही नाण्याची एक बाजू झाली. दुसरी बाजू तेवढीशी दिलासा देणारी नाहीय. रेल्वेमुळे मुंबईच्या गुन्हेगारी जगातली माणसं इथं दिसू लागतील. कारखाने झाले की बाहेरची माणसं डोकावतील. प्रदूषण ओघाने आलंच. जागेची टंचाई भासेल. मातीच्या भींती आणि नळ्यांचीछपरं असणार्‍या घरांऐवजी सिमेंटची घरं दिसू लागतील. सिमेंटचं जंगल फोफावेल.   झाडं निर्दयीपणे तोडली जातील. डोंगर उघडे होतील. किनारे गजबजून जातील. कोकणची   एकेक ओळख पुसली जाईल. इथला कोकणी माणूसच आमूलाग्र बदलून जाईल. जेव्हा जेव्हा खेड्यांची शहरं झाली, तेव्हा तेव्हा तीथल्या माणसांच्या मनाची दुकानं झाली – हा इतिहास आहे आणि कोकणचं भवितव्य ! कष्टळू, सरळमार्गी माणूस ही प्रतिमा पुसली जाईल. पैसा ही एकच भाषा त्याला कळेल. प्रत्येक बारीकसारीक गोष्ट तो पैशात मोजू लागेल. पैसा आल्यामुळे माजोरीपणा वाढेल. तो धुर्त आणि पुर्ण व्यवहारी होईल.. हेवेदावे, मारामार्‍या हे रोजचंच होईल. आता गणेशोत्सव, दीपावलीसारखे सण कुणाकडूनतरी पैसे उसने घेवून पण एकजूटीने करणारा  कोकणी माणूस काही वर्षानी ते स्वखर्चाने करील पण तेव्हा तो एकाकी असेल. आपल्या माणसात असूनही परका असेल.

कोकणरेल्वेचा हा प्रकल्प गल्लाभरू पुढार्‍यांना खोर्‍यानं पैसे ओढून देईल. वरीष्ठांपासून कनिष्ठापर्यंत यात गुंतलेले सारेच आपला खीसा भरुन  घेतील. पण तळागाळातल्या कोकणी माणसाच्या हातात मात्र काहीच पडणार नाही. काहीतरी हातात पडल्यासारखं वाटेल, पण ते हाती येण्यासाठी बरंच काही गमवावं लागलंय हेही जाणवेल. तरीही तोच आज सर्वाधिक आनंदलाय.. कोकणात रेल्वे येणार या एकेकाळी अशक्यप्राय भासणार्‍या कल्पनेनेच शहारुन गेलाय.

आणखी पाच-दहा वर्षांनी या कोकणात मन रमावं, गुंतून पडावं असं काहीही नसेल. उघडे-बोडके डोंगर, परदेशवासीयांनी गजबजलेले किनारे आणि सिमेंटची जंगलं यात जीव गुदमरून जाईल.. आगामी संकटाच्या या चाहूलीनेच घाबरं झालेलं हे निसर्गप्रेमी मन घेवून आतापासूनच निघायला हवंय एका नव्या कोकणच्या शोधात… जीथे एका बाजूला उंच हिरवी पर्वतरांग असेल आणि दुसर्‍या बाजूला अथांग दर्या… मात्र मधल्या निसर्गरम्य प्रदेशात खडखडाट करीत धावणारी रेल्वे नसेल…

– संतोष म्हाडेसर

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No beef please

June 25, 2009Santosh 1 Comment »

I have been wondering about this for quite some time now. May be you can help me with this. This is about those who call themselves ‘pure’ vegetarians – can be Indian vegetarians (especially Hindus) who go visit western/foreign countries for work or pleasure or westerners who choose to be vegetarian.

They often go to fast food restaurant chains and order veggie/gardenburgers often  with french fries. Perhaps that’s the only veggie item they find on the menu! Do you think they really get 100% vegetarian burger? Let’s take a second here and think  about it.. Chances are, customers standing in line ahead of them have most likely ordered beef (or chicken) burgers! Person who is cooking those burgers   in the kitchen has just flipped those beef burgers on  the grill. Now he takes order for the veggie burger and starts cooking it, yes, on the same grill !!

Now, is that really a veggie burger? Or a veggie burger with some beef/chicken flavoring on it?

May be it’s just me but I feel really bad for those pure vegetarians who think they haven’t had beef/chicken ever in their life! What do you say ? Go ahead, correct me if I have mistaken !

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Against the Sun

May 30, 2009Santosh 2 Comments »

Thinking of posting my pictures one at a time (like this) so that everyone can enjoy them slowly (slow & painful death?!). It’s like having wine or beer. We can’t drink the whole bottle  at once, can we ?

Rocky mountain, Colorado

Anyways.. This picture was taken in Rocky mountain national park, Colorado (in 2007). We were there during fall.

This shot was taken against the sun and I was kind of worried about the results. But it turned out okay, I believe ?

Comments welcome !!

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August 1, 2006Santosh 9 Comments »


The Splash !

All you need is just one drop.. bowl full of water.. little bit of gravity.. set the shutter at 1/4000.. and oh yes, lots and lots of patience.. Mix it all together and you get the splash !!
  • Camera/Lens used
    Body : Canon Digital Rebel XT (350D)
    Lens: Canon EF, Focal Length 50mm

Shots Settings (All): Aparture=1.8, Shutter=1/4000, Manual Focus, No flash

Splash 01
Splash 02

Splash 03
So what do you think ? Did I get it right? Let me know which one you like (if at all)! Also, any questions and/or suggestions? Pl let me know…
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