Saturday, December 27, 2008

Floppy mail at IIT Kanpur

While googling for something, I came across an interesting blog entry. This captures the experience of Floppy Mail at IITK - read yourself to find out more about it.

Here is where I found it -

below are some postings on various groups about the early days of email/internet at iitk.

most of it had been compiled and posted by vartika bhandari (btech, iitk, cse 2002)
and in the later part there is a reply from Prof Dheeraj Sanghi (also a btech from iitk) where he talks about his btech days.


Subject: Floppy Mail at IITK!!!
Date: Sun, 27 Apr 2003 22:47:10 +0530
From: Vartika Bhandari
Organization: iitk
Newsgroups: cciitk.general

Some interesting trivia about the beginnings of e-mail at IITK, gleaned
from archives of soc.culture.indian:


Xref: quagga soc.culture.indian:446 comp.dcom.lans:3550
>Path: quagga!m2xenix!percy!tektronix!!uw-beaver!!!usc!!!lll-winken!aunro!alberta!!!kudu
>From: (Gopi Kuduvalli, The Gemini)
>Newsgroups: soc.culture.indian,comp.dcom.lans
>Subject: Floppy based electronic mail
>Message-ID: <>
>Date: 10 Aug 91 05:21:50 GMT
>Reply-To: (Gopi Kuduvalli, The Gemini)
>Organization: The University of Calgary
>Lines: 64

A friend of mine (name withheld by request) recently returned from
India. He had an astonishing, if somewhat amusing story to tell about the state
of computer networking in India:

He was at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IITK), visiting
a friend. This friend was busy for the whole of the evening storing data
on floppies, and making a neat stack of them, while my friend waited
patiently. After seemingly infinite time, the IITK systems fellow came
out sorta sweating and all that swearing, "These guys have no other
business; Din raat mail bejte rahte hai (Keep sending mail thru day and
night)". My friend asked him what his problem was, the mail would go over
the network and he doesn't have to physically carry it, does he? To my
friend's surprise, the systems fellow replied that they do. They store the
mail on floppies and send by Courier service to National Center for
Software Development (NCST), Bombay!


Some statistics on Floppy Mail usage (again from soc.culture.indian):


DATE No. of Mails
28/1/91 17
1/2/91 5
4/2/91 8
7/2/91 10


DATE No. of Mails
28/1/91 45
4/2/91 25
6/2/91 - (the floppy goes even if there is nothing on it)
8/2/91 28


Finally...the advent of leased lines:

From: S. Ramani (
Subject: Indian Inst of Technology, Kanpur is now on a leased line to
Newsgroups: soc.culture.indian
Date: 1993-04-16 02:24:04 PST

I am posting an Email I received today. It brings good news that the
leased from IIT Kanpur to Delhi is now commissioned. So, the Email to
Kanpur ought to flow relatively more reliably. However, please do not
forget that they are reached thru two 9.6 Kbps leased lines
(Bombay-Delhi and Delhi-Kanpur). Do not expect very convenient talk
sessions and ftping of heavy files. The ERNET staff in the Indian labs
are working hard all the time, and we have to recognise the
step-by-step progress they are making in the face of very significant

------------- Email from kanpur follows ---------------------------
Date: Thu, 15 Apr 93 17:31:04 GMT
From: (Vipul Jain)
Subject: IITK is on INTERNET!!

It is a great pleasure to announce that IIT Kanpur is on Internet.
Kindly update your nameserver/hostfiles/routing tables to recognize
our router and Sparc system. iitk_janus (CISCO ROUTER) (SPARC SYSTEM)

ernet-staff at iitk



"...the vision of beauty is possible only to unfettered contemplation..." -- Bertrand Russell


A reply to the earlier posting by Prof Dheeraj Sanghi


Subject: Re: Floppy Mail at IITK!!!
Date: Sun, 27 Apr 2003 18:24:54 +0000 (UTC)
From: (Dheeraj Sanghi)
Organization: Computer Science & Engineering, IIT Kanpur
Newsgroups: cciitk.general

The report is exaggerated a little. We did have floppy mail
in the early 90s, but it was a very smooth operation. All
the mail gets queued in one machine. One command, and it gets
copied to the floppy. Usually one floppy a day, and not an
unmanageable stack.

And students loved it. IIT Kanpur was the only institute
in the country to have email (or floppy mail, if you
please). When the leased line came into existence, the floppy
mail continued for some time, but some politics, and some
ego hassles later, the floppy mail was stopped. And with this
the email to students stopped. The 9.6 kbps leased line was
too unreliable to allow 3000 users to send unlimited emails.
So only faculty and PhD students could send email. And their
emails would be read by someone to ensure that they are not
misusing the small amount of bandwidth that we had.
The concept of privacy was unknown at that time.

What would you prefer: floppy based mail, or no email at all.

Many people even at that time felt "no email" option is better.
Having floppy-based email was tarnishing Institute's image
as a place for high technology. On the other hand, someone
like me would argue that it enhances our image in that we
have found an innovative engineering solution to achieve
faster communication. Before that a letter and its reply
would invariably take 3 weeks. Floppy based mail would get
you a reply in maximum 48 hours.

And you could FTP a file through email (there were many
email-to-FTP gateways on the Internet), and you could
get a webpage in the similar fashion (though there were
very few webites then).

And not surprisingly, most of the people who wanted to stop
floppy based email (and eventually succeeded) were those
who had email access through the leased line.

And by the way, MIT at Boston (Media Labs), has now picked
up that concept, and has a similar solution to provide email
to rural communities. In their words, there are many communities
who cannot afford permanent online Internet connection,
and an intermittent, asynchronous connection is one way to
bridge the digital divide.

And those who have done computer networks course in CSE
would remember that a truck loaded with tapes running on
a highway has more "bandwidth" than a fiber optic link.

So don't think lowly of low-tech. As an engineer, your focus
should be problem solving and not on technology.


Dr. Dheeraj Sanghi
Associate Prof., CSE Dept., and Off: 259-7077,7638 Fax: 259-0725,7586
Head, Computer Centre Off: 259-7252,7651 Fax: 259-0413
IIT Kanpur, UP 208016, India Res: (0512) 259-8627


Monday, December 15, 2008

Our Deepest Fear

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear
is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness,
that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?
Actually who are we not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn't serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people
won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine as children do.
We were born to make manifest
the glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And when we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

- Marianne Williamson

Thanks to Chakresh for pointing me to this piece. I really liked it and hence it finds its place over here. :-)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Reporting from IIT Delhi

Visiting IIT Delhi for a conference I am struck by the lack of infrastructure in the hostels. The wash rooms really need a wash. The walls are in dire need of a coat of paint. Seems like an institute which is hard strapped for cash. Looking at the hostels no one would be able to say that these are IIT hostels. Compared to IIT Kanpur, the IIT Delhi rooms are far worse than even the wash rooms of IIT Kanpur. IIT Delhi alum seriously should consider donating to uplift the hostels.

On the personal front, life is not really upbeat. Had never thought that recession would hit me personally and that too multiple times. But cannot really help it. Let's see how things finally turn out.

Another interesting thing - met a school mate who seemed to have taken the next step in life - marriage. That set me thinking. When I was growing up I had never thought that there was more to life than to study, get a job and get settled. Now looking at things I realize that life is a race which can be run in so many ways and everyone is doing it in his/her own style. It would really be wrong to brand one way as better than the other as each one has its own merits and demerits.

Will write as and when have more things to share. :-)

Friday, December 5, 2008

The year that has been

A post after quite some time. I had been keeping busy with a lot of stuff. The main thing was making the right choice for my future. Now I have a moment to stop and catch my breath before I start running again.

This year has been a great learning experience for me. It has taught me how to face failures, though in a manner harder than I would have liked. But it has also taught me to hold my own come what may. A great quote that I have learnt to follow during the placement season - "Praan jaaye par bakchodi naa jaaye". For people who are challenged with Hindi, it means that you may lose your life but don't lose your attitude.

Another thing that I have seen this year is people falling apart and other people coming in close. Again the change has been really fast and drastic. People I thought who were really close have grown quite far apart and people who I thought I would not be able to gel well with have come in real close.

Hopefully the posts will continue now. Rest only time can tell. :-)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Let them eat cake

Rajdeep Sardesai on the current state of affairs

An excellent article by Rajdeep Sardesai on the current state of affairs in India. Blasts after blasts keep happening but there seems to be no political will to actually tackle the issue. The only thing that politicians want to do is politics.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The site is back up

Finally I have been able to update my homepage after quite some time. It had been quite a while since I had updated my site. This time I decided to change the template also a little. I moved to a little more blue color. Content obviously has been updated. Lets see if I get time to update it again.

With the resume writing going on these days, a process of self-discovery and introspection is also going on. And while thinking about myself, I decided that it was time I revamped my homepage.

You can take a look at it here:

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Life comes back a full circle

While teaching the first-yearites today in the Java tutorial, I realized that life comes around a full circle. I was teaching with full enthusiasm and energy. Yet, there was a person who was sleeping and another one who seemed to be interested only in biting nails. Looking at that I realized for the first time how painful it is when you are putting in all your efforts and you do not see them being reciprocated from the other side, Coming to think of it, this fifth year is teaching me a lot of different things.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


An hour ago I was in a gloomy mood and posting a sad post. And here I am dancing away to glory. How much difference do friends make. It is really awesome to see. Listen to a giggling friend and you actually forget what you were upto. That is the power a few people have in your life.

The taste of failure

I am sitting here trying to write something but all I know is that I am not feeling good. It is a very difficult thing to put down but I think the title of the post sums it up pretty well. And the feeling gets even more weird when you think you were poised to succeed surely and then out of nowhere failure stares you in the face. Anyways, these freak incidents do keep you tied down and you start to think again with your head.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Value for People

This day is teaching me that I seriously need to start valuing people. I am learning how important is that they are being good to me and hence it is equally important that I be good to them and make them feel the warmth.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

IITK alumnus helping Bihar flood victims

The catastrophic floods in the east Indian state of Bihar resulted in many deaths and much hardship, but the suffering could have been much worse if it was not for the efforts of some valiant individuals. One such hero was Anand Mohan, who has just graduated from India's premier engineering institute, the Indian Institute of Technology [IIT] and is set to join a multinational mining company in Australia in mid-October.

It is great to see your own batch-mate doing such great work. You might not be a very close friend but it still feels nice to see someone doing a great job. I hope this is the first of many laudable things that the people of my batch are gonna do.

Horstman's Laws

#1:Until You’ve Got Something, You’ve Got Nothing
#2:You Don’t Get Credit For What You’ve Done,Only For What The Recruiter Knows You’ve Done
#3:I’ll Take 90% Less Ability For 10% More Attitude Every Day of the Week

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

GRE Word List

Looking at Manjish mugging up the word list, I was wondering what is the use of drinking up this list which you will never use in your life. I thought this might be a way to test language but then language is what is used today. Not some long list of words that are never used. Then the word list thing may be just a way to test your hard work and patience. But then there could be better ways to test that. You could simply look at the projects or publications or recommendations. If you wanted a standardized test score there may be some better way to do that. The word list thing appears very strange to me.

Compared to the GRE, GMAT seems a much more thought out test. It has Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning and Sentence Correction which at least on the face seem to test concepts that are needed everyday. Other than these, it has simple math as well as writing skills test. Overall GMAT appears to be a much better indicator of a person's personality than the GRE.

Monday, September 8, 2008

What's the meaning of loose?

Loose - not rigidly fastened or securely attached

Lose -
to suffer deprivation of or part with especially in an unforeseen or accidental manner

Now I don't know why people cannot understand the simple distinction between the above words. They are entirely different though they might have similar pronunciations. I notice that people blindly use the word 'loose' without realizing that they actually meant 'lose'.

Talking to a friend of mine, I realized that there were a lot of other things that people were commonly confused about. The most glaring example was 'there' & 'their'. Do I even need to explain the difference?

I got a new girlfriend

I got a new girlfriend. What I mean is that I generally need something to focus on in my life - I need a goal to keep going. And this must be the same thing with other people when they spend all their time on their girl friends. Without something to focus on, I seem really lost. Not that I am not lost otherwise. But still...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Meeting with the Faculty

Recently, there has been a great concern in the department about declining interest of students in research. Hence a meeting was convened to discuss the same. Quite a few faculty and almost all graduate students were there. The reason why I am posting this here is because I am not feeling too good after the meeting.

I raised the valid concern that Dual Degree (Bachelors + Masters - 5years) students are only interested in just completing their thesis on time and getting out. They are just looking for a good job after graduation. This did not go down too well with the faculty. Somehow I did not like the way the faculty reacted to this. We were there to discuss the issues and I felt this was one thing that needed to be addressed. But it seemed as if it hurt people on a personal level. A few people started talking as if what I was saying was blasphemous. But one needs to realize that a dual degree student is essentially an undergraduate rather than a postgraduate in attitude. They joined a course directly out of school and did not realize whether they actually wanted to do research or not.

The above issue apart, I was happy that a few other valid concerns were raised in the meeting as well. Lack of faculty was discussed as was the lack of special interest groups. A few first year m-tech students raised the issue that they felt overburdened but I personally feel that this is more about managing time than anything else.

After the meeting I was discussing with Ashish what is the real cause of lack of motivation in dual degree students. We were of the opinion that the atmosphere for research is not there. If somehow we can create such an atmosphere things might improve. Creation of special interest groups is one way. We realized that if such groups can be sustained successfully, a lot of people will take part in them. Even people looking for jobs will be interested in such groups. Lets see how things turn out.

I think the essence of the meeting was that finally we need to introspect what is wrong and why is the motivation not there. Taking my personal case, I was interested in doing computer science and even on campus scored better in comp science courses as compared to other courses. But somehow, I cannot imagine myself doing a PhD. I am not motivated enough to stick to academia. The 4+ years at IIT K have not really added to my zeal for computer science so that I can think of continuing in it for the rest of my life. Hence I started looking for other alternatives.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

What to blog?

Till the time one does not maintain a blog, one keeps wishing that if there was a blog what all one could write and share with others. But once you set up a blog, it becomes difficult to actually pen down anything. Not that the ideas stop coming, they are still there aplenty. But a process of evaluation kicks in. At least, with me this happens quite a lot. I start thinking whether should I even share this or should I keep it to myself. What will people think about me? Will I come across as too kiddish or too mature? Or will I be revealing too much about myself? The final result is there for all to see - my second post on the blog and yet nothing substantial up there.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Google to the rescue

For the past 2 days I have been trying to set up a blog but was unable to do so. Not that I can't set one up but I was trying to set it up in a particular way. I had a domain and wanted the blog to be hosted at but did not want to buy hosting space. I tried setting up the blog in the web space provided by my college and was successful in redirecting the domain to the required place but the permalinks showed the college URL only. Hence I had to abandon that idea.

And I here I am at, thanks to their customize URL option. In fact, Google has come to my rescue at every stage of this buying and setting up my domain business. First of all, it helped my buy the domain at the cheapest possible price along with security feature of not displaying my whois info. Then it setup Google Apps on my domain which means that I have a mail-id. Google really makes it a breeze for a person to buy a domain and set up services on them without paying anything.