Few people have had the privilege of being part of IITR folklore. Captain Nemo, sometimes called Abhay Bir Singh Rana, has been a famous pirate, hacker, mentor, blogger, quizzer, web developer and a friendly bot. What he has never been, we can swear by the lines of code that went into Muzi, is just almost famous. Well, not many were surprised when during the interactive session of TEDxIITR , people swarmed him instead of the panelists.
Luckily for us, he agreed to appear in this column and gtalked with us.
WONA: We’ll break from the tradition (shudders) and ask a different first question because we desperately want to know the story behind your alias.
Nemo: I was part of an Age of Empires clan in Kota. I used to play under various names, like Godfather, Eragon, and of course Harry Potter, but none of these stuck, and I was still nameless. I was like Maerad in the The Gift, looking for her true name. I brainstormed with a single-mindedness only the urge to find your true name can bring about, one night, scanning my mental repository of all that I have watched and read (quick as pagerank, we are sure!).
Nothing quite chimed the bells of approval in my brain as Capt. Nemo did. Captain Nemo from “20,000 Leagues under the sea”, by the immortal master of Sci-Fi, Jules Verne, is someone I tried to understand the first one million times I read the book. He is a classic example of the anti-hero,neither helping nor hindering the protagonist . The name “Nemo” itself means “No One”, and I felt connected to that definition somehow (I was in some sort of Ayn Rand fever at the time).
WONA: That’s one mission accomplished. Now, you have earned yourself a popular image of a bot on campus. But, is there an female R2D2 we don’t know about?
Nemo: Sadly, no. Well, people like to draw unfounded connections to pass the time of course. It was Nimmo they chose for that in my third year, because of the obvious similarity in our names, I suppose but it’s high time I quashed any rumours you might have heard. If you insist on me coming clean about my first crush on campus was , I would go with Krati.
WONA: As one would expect, you reached a certain level of admirable notoriety on campus with your hacking skills, in your first year itself. Care to enlighten the juniors who might not have heard of your shenanigans?
Nemo: Harshil and I were working from the Committee room in the Hobbies Club and we managed to sniff out the FTP password of Cognizance. To have some fun, we decided to mess with them. We moved ahead incredibly fast in Illushun and obviously everyone got suspicious . While we should have left at it leaving everyone miffed by climbing up the leaderboard with the speed of light, we went ahead and cleared the entire database. This really riled up the Cogni people who wrote an impressively long email to the Disciplinary Committee claiming 40k in damages. But, the gods were kind. We were let off with a fine of 20 disciplinary marks fine and Rs.5,000. In our defense, we were naive first yearites. If we were to do it now they won’t even know what hit them. (Sure, and you thought he would be apologizing?)
WONA: For most of us, that little (mis)deed would have been the be-all-and-end-all of our purpose here. Considering we are interviewing you, have you done anything crazier?
Nemo: Once, in my first year, someone mailed the entire college from firstname.lastname@example.org email address saying that the next day was a holiday. Now I’m not publicly claiming to have done this but rumour mills have it that a certain someone with an army rank in his pseudonym is responsible. Let me know if you find him/her, he seems awesome. And, as cool as your magazine might be, there are other fruits of my work that you can’t talk about.
WONA: You were rejected by IMG in your first year. Err.. your thoughts?
Nemo: IMG is one of the most hardworking sections in the campus. I really respect their work ethics and their nerdy culture. But they missed out on me and Harshil. It’s ironic because we both ended up as founding members of SDSLabs. Ah well, their loss really!
WONA: What do you think of WONA?
Nemo: I used to read WONA cover to cover. Now, I mostly just skim through, though.(your loss, really!) I think that WONA is great at what it does, but it is lagging behind the times. I have no kind words for your web team and your website has never really amounted to much. I think you people should stop dragging yourself and really try to fly. I think it should be more than just a news magazine and become something far bigger/better than that.