Falling from the Sky

Dreams. Do they come true?
Sometimes they do.
But for those who dare to.

I have had dreams of me jumping. Jumping from cliffs. Jumping from buildings. Jumping from trains. Jumping from any place where jumping is a possibility.
I have wondered, how it must feel like to jump. I have never mustered courage to take the leap forward and jump. Of Course I fear for my life.

And today, I have the opportunity.
Once in a lifetime opportunity. To jump. Jump from 14000 ft.

So today, I did not think whether I should do it or not. I just did. I picked up my phone, called the agency and booked my slot on the spot without thinking too much.

The day of jump was just another day. I woke up late. Had my breakfast. Took a taxi to the appointed location of jump. I reached there before time, filled up a couple of forms and completed some necessary formalities and was ready for the jump.

A beautiful Australian blonde lady helped us with our jumpsuits and the necessary safety gear. We were explained some basic safety precautions and then were put onto a bus that would take us to the airport. The airport was almost 30 min drive. On our way to the airport we met our jump instructors. Every one was assigned an instructor and we quickly familiarized ourselves.

We reached airport and then got into a small airplane. The airplane was of the size of a small store room. It had enough space for 10 people to sit. Unlike the passenger aircraft there was no one to explain the safety features of the flight. We just figured it out ourselves. There were no detailed procedures to lock the door and no fancy communication with pilot before take off. It was just a high five with the pilot. He asked us in his Australian accent : “Are you ready mate”. We all shouted a big yeah and he started the engine.

The plane started moving on the taxiway and the only door in the plane was still open.
It was a different thrill. The plane is moving and the door is open!
After a while the plane was on the main runway. The engine roared and we were pushed back due to the acceleration. One of the instructors said – “it’s cold mate, let’s close the door”. And the door was finally closed just before we were airborne. Apparently it’s not much trouble if you leave the door open while take off !!

Within minutes we were at about 5000 ft above the ground. I could see the clouds below me. I was trying to imagine how it would be to jump from over the clouds, pass through the clouds and then come out of the clouds like a shooting star.

Slowly the big city of Melbourne started looking like a playground. Buildings started looking like tiny ants. Just then the pilot informed us that we were just 3 nautical miles away from the jump spot. Still no signs of fear or anxiety on my face. I was still lost in the beautiful view outside the window of the city. And then when were just 1 nautical mile away from jump spot, the door was opened.

When the door was opened and the cold breeze rushed in, the dream became more real. Some even shouted in excitement. Shouting takes away the fear out of you for a moment. And you can do the craziest and scariest things while you are shouting.

One after the other the passengers started jumping. With every jump came a sound of shouting which quickly faded away. And then came my turn. There were no signs of fear until this point. I was all excited. Then I was asked to put my legs out of the plane and sit on the edge. I followed the instructions – took my feet out and sat on the edge of the plane. I could see the ground below was far far away. I was scared. It was shit scary. The moment for which I was waiting for so long was here and I was scared like hell.

Half of body was out of the plane and half in. I was told not to hold anything. So basically I was just sitting by myself without holding anything, latched to my instructor and was almost hanging for the plane. I looked at the ground for a moment and then looked up at the sky and closed my eyes. Just then the instructor pushed himself out of the plane and in a fraction of second we were falling freely from 14000 feet. I opened my eyes and screamed my lungs out. When you jump, your body spins in the air for a second. It was the last time I saw the plane from the corner of my eye disappearing in the sky.

The instructor ensured that our body is stabilized and we are facing downwards. Then he tapped on my shoulder to signal that it was okay for me to open up my arms.

I opened my arms and it felt like flying. Yes I was flying. Literally.
Arms wide open. Legs spread out. Screaming like an eagle.
The moment of fear was gone. I had a big smile on my face.
I could see the clouds below me.
In no time I was flying inside the clouds and at the blink of an eye, I was out of the clouds.

The famous MCG which looked like a dot from the airplane was of the size of a coin now. The temperatures were freezing up. The cold air gushed through my mouth every time I opened to scream or speak something into the camera. After a point the pressure of the air pushed my checks back and it became impossible to keep my mouth open. I had to struggle against the force of wind to close my mouth.

After a few more seconds of free fall, the instructor opened the parachute. It felt like someone has just pulled me back holding my collar. It takes a few seconds to open the parachute. And when it was open, our free fall stabilized. We were no more falling from the sky. We were now hanging from the parachute that was descending slowly.

The slow descend from the sky gave us another opportunity to look at the world differently. I looked around. On my left, there was vast ocean, blue in color. Water and water every where – as far as one could see. On my right was the city of Melbourne and the vast land of Australia. The instructor steered the parachute and we landed safely on the designated landing spot.

I stood on my feet and looked up at the sky one more time. All I could see was clouds and the blue sky. I had fallen somewhere from these very clouds.

It is once in a lifetime experience to jump from the sky.

Sometimes we must not think too much.
Sometimes we must just do what we want to. – without thinking of pros and cons.
If we keep thinking about pros and cons then logic will always defy emotion.

It won’t let you chase your dreams.

To chase, you must not think, you must believe.

Why Lutyens’ MSM is mad over Yogi

Disclaimer: This is not a political opinion; I’m just trying to be funny 😉

So, why is the media mad over Yogi?

It’s not because he is a Yogi, or because he supposedly made controversial statements about minorities, or because he is uneducated, or because he will be the “trump” for country or the state…

It is because once again they are made to look like a bunch of idiots who have absolutely no clue of what’s happening in the political circles which is supposedly their topic of “expertise”

Because once again, they have been proven wrong. Since 2014, their political predictions have gone terribly wrong. Actually, it’s an understatement. They have been exactly opposite of what media predicted – be it the 2014 general elections, or the Bihar debacle or the UP thumping. And then now, the CM choice.

Imagine their plight right now :

Their HR dept. must be like – Guys, you must redo the Politics 101 course again.

Their bosses must be like – Guys, if you get this wrong this time again, then we must start adding disclaimers: ‘All stories are based on imagination and the editors are not responsible for any repercussions later’

NewsX boss – Barkha, you will cover page 3 tomorrow.

Their book store owners must be like – Ye wala book wo Fiction category mein rakho…

And try to imagine the plight of the news traders. They had shortlisted the ‘probable choices’, also published the news of Intelligence Bureau checks.

They had already prepared a whole bunch of articles describing the early life, the raise in political clout, compiling the data about education, wealth and what not…See this tweet:

And now they have to throw all of this and start again!

Right now, BJP to them right now is like that sadist school teacher asking : Table yaad kiya ?
Yes, Sir. 1 – 10 sab kiya hai…
OK… 7.83 ka sunao    🤣🤣😅😅😉😉

Their current situation is like 2 duffer friends preparing for exams….

Bhai ye le is saal ka question paper. Tere bhai ne jugaad kar ke nikala hai… bas yahi aayega exam mein …

Next day morning be like : DK Bose, ye kaun sa subject hai  ?? 😱😱😨😨 😭

 

Nationalism is the new Secularism

Nationalism is the new Secularism
Nationalism is the new Secularism

Recently (to be more specific, after BJP came to power) I have noticed many media persons, secular and liberal brigades condemning and demeaning the feeling of ‘Nationalism’.

For e.g. this article by a notorious and biased reporter : Nationalism is the new Hindutva.

They are often seen connoting Nationalism with Hinduism or Hindutva. It seems there is a conscious effort to malign and demean the feeling of nationalism.

And it makes me wonder: What is Nationalism?

In my opinion, Nationalism is an ideology that takes pride in developing, preserving and maintaining a national identity – irrespective of the race, religion, caste or political beliefs.  It often invokes a sense of pride in nations achievements and is commonly linked to patriotism also.

Bapu Ji was Nationalist, so was Chaha, and so was Neta Ji (the real one).

How does it relate to Hindutva? – It DOES NOT. Nationalism has nothing to do with Hindutva. Being a nationalist does not mean being communal.

Nationalism does not mean communalism. Period.

Nationalism is not the responsibility of a single party or religion. Every party – weather it is the ruling party or opposition, must feel proud of its nation. Isn’t that the ulterior motive (at least at the face of it) of forming a political party and fighting election – to make ones country better.

I fail to understand why is nationalism linked with Hindutva. Hindus are not custodians of nationalism. Every Indian citizen must be nationalist. What’s wrong with it.

Liberals and Seculars (pseudo or real) have always fought for equality, irrespective of one’s religion, caste or race. Nationalism is that one feeling that unites us all Indians.

The feeling of nationalism has breached all the boundaries of our socioeconomic background. The rich takes pride in their nation as much as the poor does. The ‘so called’ upper castes love their country as much as every other citizen does.

Mark my words, Nationalism is the new Secularism

Things to do after setting up dedicated server

Setting up a dedicated server is easy. Operating it is difficult.

Thankfully there are many control panels that make the job of system administrator easy. However one must know what exactly to do after the system is up and running The list is endless, but there are some important things that almost every system admin must do.

The foremost worrying thing for me was to ensure that the system performance is up to the mark.

In my case I had a unique challenge – My website experiences 100K + visitors every day and  peak loads of 1000 + users at a time.
This happens quite d few times in a day. All these users need to connect to DB to fetch some information. To handle this peak load I made following settings in my VirtualMin system :

  1. Increase max DB connections in MySQL settings such that it can handle peak load.
  2. Increase the max execution time allowed for PHP Script.
  3. Increase max processed allowed by FcglD script
  4. Increase the max processing time / IO Timeout for FcgID scripts.

How to troubleshoot problems:

  1. Monitor the Apache error logs for your server.
  2. Monitor the MySQL errors to see if there are aborted connections or clients.
  3. Monitor slow queries in MySQL.
  4. Login to your PHPMyAdmin with your root user and see the recommendations.

Ensure you do the following :

  1. Setup regular server Backup – preferable a daily backup.
  2. Make sure, you copy the backup on a different machine / system regularly.
  3. Ensure OS and security updates are installed regularly.

 

As I come across other important settings / configuration to manage the system, I’ll list down more.

Keep watching.

The declining standards of news articles

The standards of news articles are degrading day by day. This is not the first instance where I have read such an article. It has been almost 2 years since I have started noticing such low quality articles in print media.

Finally I was so frustrated that I decided to blog about such articles. It may not improve the writing quality of our current print media, but it may help the readers on how to quickly read a 100+ words article in less than 30 seconds.

See this one example news on a “leading” news portal. The key news is : “A pilot spotted a drone like object near domestic airport in Mumbai and alerted ATC which in turn notified the local police.

 

 

Now how do you convert a simple news into a lengthy article ? This is a trick our print media has mastered. And remember, you don’t have to go to prestigious colleges to learn this art of writing. It is something we learned in good old school days. Just repeat the same information again and again in different forms from the perspective of different people.
Seems to me like our print media is very much inspired by the creativity of daily soaps on Indian television wherein someone will make a crazy statement and then the camera will show faces of every one in the scene 3 times, in different zoom settings. 5 minutes are passed and nothing new has happened in the story. Same is the quality of this article where more than 100 words are written but the information is only of 30 words.

I’ll post more such examples as I come across.

VirtualMin – The most underrated open source control panel

To scale up my website and apps, I recently moved from VPS to Dedicated Server hosting.

The dedicated servers are undoubtedly more powerful than VPS, but they also come along with their own problems of managing. I chose to go for a un-managed server to keep the costs low. And with the new server, the search for a ‘perfect’ control panel started.

At first, I tried the Sentora Control Panel – but it had lot of limitations. I listed the limitations in my previous post here.

Thankfully, I stumbled upon Virtualmin. I read a lot of blogs to find the right panel. I must thank some blogs like this one and this one that did a fair amount of comparison of different control panels – and I feel both of them have underrated the Virtualmin.

Virtualmin can literally (and I mean it) perform ALL the tasks that a server administrator has to do – without knowing any linux commands. Everything is managed by a really nice (bootstrap enabled) Web UI.

Infact it provides so much flexibility (and options) for managing the server that sometimes it may scare away a beginner.

I tried to Open source version which comes for free (to keep my costs low) and I can vouch that this open source version is sufficient for all kind of tasks.

In my next blog, I will list some of the important customization and settings one must do to get things up and running.

Limitations of Sentora Control Panel

I recently moved from a VPS hosting to a Dedicated Server Hosting for many reasons – which I am not listing here.

Typically Dedicated hosting are costlier than VPS and so I wanted to save some money by not opting for managed servers and proprietary control panels.  Instead I chose to go for Open Source web panels. As a matter of fact, I am a big fan of Open Source.

I compared the list of open source web panels on the web and finally stumbled upon Sentora (which is a fork of ZPanel). I decided to try it out.

It has been only few days using Sentora – and I must admit that I am impressed. However, there are some serious limitations of Sentora – especially if you have used any other proprietary control panel in past. For e.g. in past I have used cPanel and Direct Admin.

In this blog I am listing some of those limitations. Before I get into details, I would like to thank the whole Sentora Team for all their hard work and maintaining Sentora.

Limited Cron Job Support

Sentora supports cron jobs. However, it is really – really limited. For e.g.

  • Cron task can only be a PHP file !! What if I want to run a python script or a JAVA program as a cron job ?
  • You can schedule jobs only in the format of periodic interval. For e.g. run every 10 min or daily etc. What if I want to run job on every Sunday at 10:00 p.m. ?
MySQL users have all permissions

When you create a MySQL user, the user has all permissions. This is an issue because sometimes I want to restrict some access to certain users. For e.g. allow Insert / Update and don’t allow Delete on certain Databases.

Sentora does not create a OS User

The main problem that I faced was that when you create a new Client, it does not create respective OS user. I am sure the Sentora team will have reasons to do so, but I will list here the problems that a server admin faces.

  • I could not do a SCP (copy from remote server to local server). The only way to transfer files was via FTP. This is an big issue if the file size is large.

How to overcome these limitations

You can overcome these limitations – but its not a easy job for someone who is not very familiar with the Linux OS.  For e.g. I went ahead and created a OS user for the client. Of-course I restricted the access of the user to limited functionalities.

Here is what I did to overcome the above limitations:

  • Create a OS user. Make sure you restrict his access.
  • Once the OS user was created, I was able to transfer large files using SCP
  • I was also able to set up custom cron jobs using the crontab utility.
  • Login via root MySQL user and restrict the access of SQL users

In my next blog I will document the detailed steps on how to migrate your domains and data from old hosting server (which might be running a different control panel) to Sentora Web Panel.