Tuesday, May 29, 2007

My Girlfriend Wishlist

- Looks sweet and innocent.
- Is sweet and innocent.
- Quiet and talkative.
- Serious and fun.
- Fair and slim [but slightly chubbier, small girls sometime seem more lovable].
- Down-to-earth.
- Can feel how I feel.
- Tells the truth.
- Sensible.
- Capable.
- Has a child's heart.
- Intelligent, well-read and good at school.
- Loves me the same way I love her.
- Caring.
- Takes care of herself, self-conscious.

Friday, May 25, 2007

November Rain

November Rain by 'morena7

One day, anyways this had to happen. Been expectin this. Been tryin to get used to it. So what difference it makes that it happened now?

Just it happened..

Thursday, May 24, 2007

What do you think of eticket?

I've been hearing a lot of fiasco has been happening cause Dialog's 444 MTicket service isn't working. Yesterday I heard angry moviegoers had even been a bit unrest at movie theaters. Whatever, before plunging into it, I'd like to ask you people who have used it [either Dialog's mticket or etickets, the system behind]. What do you think of the service? Is it reliable? Or are all rumors I hear [that although you book your name doesn't appear on the database] true?

C3: Preventing a MiG make an Airbus (or his own wingman) go "Mayday!"

United States Department of Defense photograph of an F-8 Crusader intercepting a Tu-95 'Bear-B' over USS Oriskany, dated May 25, 1974 [Wikipedia]

Last weekend I read in a national defense column that the most important reconnaissance asset of the Sri Lanka Air Force, a Beechcraft aircraft [probably carrying a HISAR system] had come under attack by our own Navy who erroneously identified it as an LTTE aircraft while it was on a routine patrol off Trincomalee. The same scenario of the guy who dropped from the tree and got attacked by a bull as well. As usual however, for the luck of AF and Navy both, the aircraft wasn’t hit. What this event shows is the lack of command, control and communication coordination between the security forces of Sri Lanka. No point buying $20 million jets [I hear the same amount was spent to send Mahinda administration (mob) to watch finals at West Indies, dunno whether Rs or $s] if you can’t effectively guide them to their targets. Either they’d get shot down [mind you, we didn’t know LTTE had night bombing capability till they bombed us and we still don’t know what sorta A-to-A capability they have] or will shoot at someone else. This is a very real threat.

Imagine the Navy patrol mentioned above had some serious anti-aircraft capability? What would’ve happened? The SLAF would be deaf and blind by now, if they can be more so. The real threat is, having sophisticated weaponry, and shooting down an airliner on finals to Bandaranaike International by mistaking it for a Tiger aircraft. This was, and is, a very real threat and I was really relieved when they decided to close down the place at night. Already at least one commercial aircraft has come under fire already, suspected as a fleeing LTTE aircraft. Luckily it was way out of range, but again, anyway we shot at it.

This is the scenario of placing weapons, not systems. What we need is not something that shoots, but does it effectively. For that, we need to field a weapons system, and man it with guys who are at the bottom of a command chain on top of which would be the executive president. What we need is a National Military Command Center kinda thing. I guess the Joint Operations HQs can play the role, but it doesn’t seem implemented by the way things are going on.

In a real life scenario, this command center would be the nerve center of defense command in the country, with direct access to Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of Defense and finally, the President. It would have at least one back-up. This command center would have weapons officers and interception directors directly in contact with all ‘live’ defense patrols in sea and in the air. The weapons officers would be able to positively confirm a target acquisition by a Kfir pilot or a Dvora gunner [for instance], and then authorize interception and weapons release. They would be in contact with especially the commercial air traffic control at Bandaranaike International and Colombo Airport, and commercial naval movement at maritime traffic control center in order to avoid confusion with commercial movements. The command center would be the upper point of reconnaissance data input by reconnaissance radars, patrols and watchpoints in the sea and on battlefront. This way they would be able to trace a threat’s movement in minutes, and authorize an already moving patrol to intercept, or to scramble an alert mission at any time of the day. The command center would have a general officer commanding, to whom weapons directors would be able to look up in a crucial situation. He, in turn, would have direct secure access to high level defense staff at the Defense Ministry and in turn, to the president. If a MiG-29, say, has to carry out a night radar-guided attack against an LTTE aircraft, the target would have to be acquired, designated and identified to be friend or foe in surgical precision. Else our inexperienced pilots [or the heartless former Soviet mercenaries] would sure down a commercial jet. This would be a tragedy and a crime, with irrevocable consequences.

This is the vital requirement of proper Command, Control and Communications coordination as we go towards increasingly complex weapons. If someone says it would be a useless spend, or don’t have cash to do that, then it would be better not to buy complex weapons. First we need a proper coordination of command and proper communications. If we had something like this, the incident I mentioned at the top of the post would never have happened.

Better drop two of the Fulcrums to buy support systems alone. That would pay up, and would help to get the best out of those two without getting stuck in more shit.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Ghost of A Machine: ATM Blues

Last Saturday was going to be the quintessential super Saturday. I planned thus. First thing in the morning, I'd get the hell outta house, goto university labs, meet up with the top engineer in my project team, talk, get stuff done, by which time another top man from another campus would've joined us. Then we'd go out and spend the better part of the day doing life-is-good stuff like gadget shopping, eating out and going to movies. But ole Murph was to raise 'is ugly head.

To do stuff, one needs money. So I headed up the small hill towards Sri Lanka's richest state-owned bank, where I proudly bank my fortunes. Pant upto the ATM. No one in sight cause it's still a bit early. Pop in my card. Aaah, life is good.

The ATM asked me to punch in my PIN, which I sleepily did. Then, it asked me the service and the amount, which I promptly punched in. Then, after all this, it suddenly says, “Transaction Cannot Be Completed: Invalid PIN!!”

Now wait one darn minute. Wrong PIN? Okay, but why not tell me the second I punch it in? why say after all this? Typical girl. I'm a Web engineer by day job, and my code would tell you the second you enter wrong authentication information. Period. That's the way I've used to get machines work. Are ATM's engineered along a different philosophy? or is this darn slimeball broken? I punch cancel, get the card out, and then try again. The same story. Did I change my PIN? Negative, if yeh ask me. I don't remember changing the PIN, not really. Actually, once in a blue moon I've used that ATM system. What could be wrong? And my super Saturday was tapping its foot impatiently.

OK, this might be broken. I didn't like the look of the machine even. It was, well.. hah. Even the by-screen buttons were out of alignment with the screen. I had to count the options from bottom, and again count the buttons from the bottom to find the right button for an option. Fine, try the next town.

There stuff look like a bit matching to the Richest State Bank thing. The ATM machine is crisp and new, there's music blaring in the cubicle, and I pop in the card. Grr. Same story. Get my card, show me her everything, ask me everything, and then say the PIN is wrong. Try a second time, and super Grr. She decided to retain my card.

I'm positive for about 99.9% that I didn't change the PIN. Usually I don't use the card. The account was operated by my dad usually, and I know he doesn't know how to change the PIN and let's face it, dads aren't that tech savvy. What he does everytime he forgets it is ask me the number and I give it.

From all state banks like Peoples' and Ceylon, NSB is humane. The service is better markedly I think. But the ATM is kaput I think. Perhaps the database is corrupt. I wonder what they use. Perhaps the IBM iSeries and DB2? Most banks use it. It's reliable, but I can't be too sure till I go pit my wits one-on-one against their IT division and get the thing sorted out. Let battle commence!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Big MiG Deal

Latest MiG-29 version, OVT.

I've been thinking about this MiG-29 deal which seems inevitable now, and looks like would happen within weeks considering the situation. If the reports I hear are correct, the GoSL is to purchase upto 4 MiG-29 Fulcrum jets along with a lease option of a trainer. Thinking of the cost of a Fulcrum which is around US$15-20 million, this is no bullock-cart purchase. This purchase is vital to national security, and air defence fighters and associated weaponry cost. A lot. And currently I don't think US$s is the thing SL has got most of. That exactly is why the AF people should have spent several nights up analyzing all options before stumbling upon this. I hope they did so.

I'm not against the MiG-29 as a jet. It's an awesome piece of military jet. But the thing is MiG's have not been put against this kind of challenge anywhere in the world yet. Actually, NO Fulcrum has shot down another aircraft in anger for all these years [service entry 1983], but it's considerable that 12 MiG-29's have been so far shot down in various theaters [by F-15s and 16s, most]. Soundbite for people who chant about it's superiority. We can't afford to test aircraft, but that's only one point of the story.

If I were given the chance, what I would spend money mainly on is, getting the thing done with available assets and very importantly, keeping the aircraft at at least 10-15 minute high alert status. This costs serious money. And that was what we didn't have or the last four times we got bombed. Keep aside air-to-air combat, we couldn't scramble even a kite atleast to track down the terrorist aircrafts' operating bases. And I'm serious when talking about 'available assets'. We already have aircraft with more-than enough performance to counter the threat posed. I would see about upgrading Kfirs and F-7's Since we're short of time as well, being able to field the weapons fast is VERY important. And we've been flying these jets for ages. Kfirs are combat proven and have confirmed arial kills to their credit in South American hands. Our pilots know how to waltz them upstairs, and our engineering wings know how to maintain them. By talking with Pakistan about F-7's and Israel Aircraft Industries about the Kfir, we could've got it done. Was that an option?, or was that simply wasn't cause it wouldn't pour commissions into someone's pocket? Now this advantage can't be won with a completely new and sophisticated type like Fulcrum without putting a lot of cash and mistakes down the drain. And for crying out loud, WE NEED THAT CASH and we can't afford MISTAKES!!

There's one issue though. It might prove difficult, or almost impossible to use guns and heat homing missiles against Tiger aircraft respectively because they operate very close to ground at night at very low speeds and the thermal signature of a light aircraft piston engine is very low. The missile would be VERY confused if they use any kind of IR countermeasures. So some kind of radar-guided weaponry is required. In this sense the Fulcrum has got what the doctor ordered. But I think the best option we'd have bought is upgrading the Kfirs. It could've been cheaper still even we bought four dedicatedly air-to air configured Kfirs from IAI, who would've gotten it done easily [I wonder whether the Palestine-keen Mahinda administration got the Israelis sour as well]. If someone thought Kfirs and F-7 fleets were aging, why not opt for less sophisticated, low-cost and to-the-point Chinese defence interceptors like JF-17 of JHC-7 Flying Leopard? The rest of the money can be well spent on better ground-based radar-aided fire control systems and most importantly, keeping the bought jets in at least a 10-minute scramble-ready status.

All in all, what can be seen is that the MiG deal is just overweight. I just wonder how long we'd be able to keep them operational. Remember Bangladesh buying Sukhois [-24s I guess]? Perhaps the Tigers would wait till we run about mad and run out of money, and then resume their night visits. And sensing the AF disregarded the well-valued option of upgrading/buying already combat proven and familiar Kfirs, perhaps there's a big under-hand deal here as well, as the case was for all military deals in the past. I don't think under-hand, big-commission deals are easy if you deal straight with Israel Aircraft Industries or Chinese state aircraft corporations.

US$ 80 million. Better used mending Colombo's overflowing gutter system than wasted on unmanageable ultra-sophisticated Fulcrums. And what about the peace process now? Are we going to finish this by war, or what? Mahinda, PLEASE stop and think if you're for the country truly.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Just Unjust: Story of an Innocent in Death Row

Today while watching CNN I saw the touching story about a young girl in Baghdad death row. She had been convicted for a crime she had not committed. Her boyfriend had killed her wealthy uncle and her cousin, and the police had arrested her and tortured her and taken a forced statement out of her. Her parents were also interviewed by CNN. Her dad has sold everything he had in the battle to save his daughter. Previously also Iraqi police had taken forced statements out of women, after torturing them and raping them. In this girl's case, the court had refused even to listen to what she had to say, and just convicted her guilty only by the statement the police had gotten out of her. She had been having a cordial relationship with the cousin she is convicted to have murdered. Afterwards she had started an affair with this boy, and he had done the murders when she had visited her uncle with him. And after the forced conviction of her, today she is in an Iraqi prison in death row, unsure whether she'd be able to see sunrise tomorrow.

Her parents have done almost everything they can, and even written to Iraqi president asking for a pardon. Her lawyer says now everything legally possible is closed, and unless any new groundbreaking evidence surface, her fate is technically sealed.

It's so so tragic, to get hold of someone and torture them senseless and get some statement out of them, and then convict them even without hearing what they have to say and send them to death. This is practically the situation here in Sri Lanka as well, only here the person sometimes faces death even before producing before courts, like in that situation when an innocent balloonman was convicted by police to have called a school. This is the peril of having the death sentence in force, cause there always will be the risk of convicting an innocent person to an irrevocable punishment. I think the death penalty is the ultimate state-induced violation of human rights. Any country with death penalty in force has a regime which fundamentally refuses human rights. Killing a person who has killed doesn't do any good, if you ask me. There should indeed be another perspective to look at other than this pre-human ape-like one. There should always be another solution.

Until such humane solution is universal, until we ourselves tame and become humans, stories like the one of the Iraqi girl I mentioned will always be heard. This is only one: there must be many other innocents who were wrongly convicted and executed, cause them and only them would have know that they're innocent. There should be a stop to this. A judicial system cannot 'see-through' a person, just rely on evidence, which can prove very wrong.

Still her parents have hope. She has hope, till her heart beats. Womens' Rights Organizations there are working hard to get her verdict reconsidered. But in reality it's uncertain, cause she has already been convicted.

I wish she would be ok. I sincerely do. I hope you would, too.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

State of the Air Force

Now the Air Force has been caught practically 'pants down'. The Tiger air wing has bombed four times and got away safely, and SLAF couldn't scramble as much of a firework rocket to intercept. If the Air Force was proper, Tigers would have been detected and shot down the first time they got airborne. But now they have attacked four times with a high degree of success. What is the AF doing?

The Air Force has been spending or improper arms deals, focusing only on commissions and not proper equipment of force for years. The Air Force was recommended to obtain night flying capabilities about 5 years back, but nobody had looked into it. But we have invested in huge amounts on now non-flying assets such as the two C-130 transport jets. Obtaining MiG-27's was also a pathetic wastage of cash, which could've gone in proper upgrading of effective Kfir jets, perhaps getting night and some air-to-air capability. It was known from years that the Tigers were building airstrips and were obtaining air force capabilities. To say the AF was 'not ready' is, again, pathetic, isn't it? I wonder what the hell they were doing. And now, after years of corrupt deals and doing nothings, what we're left with is an Air Force that cannot protect Sri Lankan airspace.