Saturday, April 28, 2007

Tech update..

So it's time to bore you with stuff that keeps my boredom at bay. Few of the technologies that I have embraced and felt great about. Here are few of them:
  • Google web history: Few days back, google's personalized search history metamorphosed into Google web history. There were a lot of murmurs that google now has all the knowledge about you.. Guys give it a break!!. Even if google has it.. so what?? Believe me, there are a million ways to track you down, sniff on your IMs, see your browsing history and even get your password. Google's worth is around 100 billion and would certainly not be interested in identity theft scams, so give it a rest. It's really helpful if you have forgotten to bookmark something (delicious ofcourse) at work and want to look at it later.
  • Google recommendation(GR): This was bound to happen. Clearly, Google let its snazzy neural networked monster lose on my web history to recommend me web pages. It looks a lot like StumbleUpon, but it's not. StumbleUpon is to GR what yahoo directory search was to google search. StumbleUpon gives you some random sites, some funny ones, you hardly spent 30 seconds on them. GR on the other hand gives you well defined searches, some you can spend the whole day on without regret. It helped me find the right drivers for my card, a tutorial on a topic I had totally given up on.. its simply great. It still needs a little bit polishing though. It quite clearly also takes the site that it recommends as an input for the next iteration. This might be desirable at times but sometimes the results just get too convoluted. E.g I was searching for some actress' web page. GR recommended me another one the next day.. fine, I thought.. but now since GR thought that I have visited two sites (one on my own and one by recommendation), I would really be interested in them and started bombarding me with web pages of different actresses. I had to go and delete the web history to take care of that. I guess the next step for them is to monitor the time you spend on a website to compute its weightage... they surely would have some brains working on the issue.
  • Ubuntu Feisty Fawn: Finally upgraded to feisty fawn. It's without doubt the best desktop distro I have ever used. It has rock solid stability and flexibility. Now Fedora is definitely more secure than Ubuntu but I find Ubuntu much more usable.. and I dont care much about security on my laptop.
  • AIGLX + Beryl: I had posted earlier about XGL+compiz on my Dapper. It made the system so unstable that I never even thought of installing it on Edgy. People all over user groups were crying over lack of Linux driver support for ATI cards, so I had given up all hopes. GR popped me a link about installing AIGLX+Beryl on ATI drivers (somehow I never though about aiglx, was too fixated on getting fglrx to work on my system with mediocre results). Did the installation and am totally in love with my desktop. I have totally shifted from metacity to beryl. I removed all the obtrusive features like wobbly windows and magic lamp effect to get me simple snazzy desktop. For once my terminal windows are truly transparent/translucent. The beam out effect on closing windows is fast, fashionable and unobtrusive. Of course I retained the rotate cube functionality when I switch desktops by mouse(which i hardly do) to show off when needed :P.
  • Evolution+Gaim(Now Pidgin): Well.. I was using them for ages but never customized them. Gaim kicks any other IM clients a** (civility enforced :P). It gels amazingly with the desktop environment. Help me remove redundant entries for user.. i.e. it shows only one entry per user irrespective of the number of accounts or aliases he/she has logged in as. The psychic mode is another awesome feature that notifies me when someone has just started typing me a message before they complete it.. works really well to spook people out. Evolution did a great job importing contacts from gaim and I find its junk filtering mechanism more usable than thunderbird.
I was planning on a new laptop (this one is almost 2 years old), possibly a MAC.. but I think I've changed my mind. Ubuntu can be, whatever I want it to be.. it supports non-free restricted drivers.. and has my 2nd favorite OS underneath (minix is my 1st fav but has still a long way to go).

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

India Shines

I am not a conventionally patriotic person, but boy.. this makes me so proud. India plans an unmanned mission to moon next year. There are still debates if there'll me a manned mission by 2015 or not. Well, India is still a third world country and putting a man on then moon makes little sense when people are living in abject poverty and corruption is rampant.

But the commercial aspect of it is interesting. India launched the Italian satellite for just $11M, whereas the cost of doing so elsewhere is between $50M to $200M. Not only is India helping other countries set up their own infrastructure in a cost effective way, its furthering its own knowledge and, am sure getting rich in the process. The market of space tourism is just heating up. It costs about $20M to spend some weeks in space.. just imagine the rush if India started offering it for $1M.. maybe less. I am sure there'll be year long waiting list to get on that ride. I am pretty sure that our scientist President and PhD Prime Minister had something to do with it... not that they are going to admit it(they are really modest).

Lets see how India is able to use this market to its advantage..

Update: Broadband to me made free in India!! Holy s**t.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

I am High!!

const n=10;
integer array A[n];
integer x,i;

proc Sort
integer k,x;
do ~(k<1)>
do i
if A[i]>A[i+1] ->
1=1 -> x:=1;

$Input Table:
do ~(i>n)->read A[i];i:=i+1; od;

$ Test Sort:
call Sort;
do ~(i>n)->write A[i];i:=i+1; od;


Hmm.. before you bombard me with any questions, let me answer them all..
1) What Language is that?
Ans: PL

2)What does it do?
Ans: Its a really bad inefficient implementation of bubble sort.

3)Does it actually compiles and runs?
Ans: Yes, Of Course.

4)How do I know it?
Ans: Cause I WROTE THE COMPILER!!! I can not express in words, how elated I am. Well, of course, its just another project. But.. its a friggin compiler!! I wanted to make one, when I first came to know about them(about 10 years ago).. It's totally surreal. It gives me error messages when I make an error(Type error, Syntax error, out of Scope etc etc) and it took almost 3 months to finish it (well.. only 2 weeks for coding though). It totally amazes me that how a figment of my imagination can suddenly become so tangible, so real.. so alive.

Sincere thanks to Dr Per Brinch Hansen, for helping me realize a dream. Its been a pleasure being his student.

There is also sadness deep inside.. I realize that I may not get to work on a compiler ever again in my life..but there is hope..
If I have a geeky kid or a grandkid, you know what stories I will be telling them :P

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Its alive!!

Remember the good old school/undergrad days.. when you thought you knew everything. No? Well then I guess it was just me. I was as enthused by open source and Linux then, as I am now, but was apparently not a very good programmer(good by the standards of ppl of my age though)... but of course I didn't think so then. I made a Linux Task Manager on the lines of Windows task manager which had a similar interface and used to parse the data from the /proc directory. It was one of the best term projects and I so was excited by it that I went and uploaded it on Sourceforge. Of course I did not maintain it... I was young and brash then :P.

Fast forward four years.. I g0t a mail regarding missing files in that project!! I went and checked the sourceforge page and was shocked to find a 93.1% activity and about 96 downloads!! I downloaded the old tarball and it was missing a few source files... who would want to download such a project?? I found an old CD containing the source codes of my projects.. used qt3to4 to convert the project format and re-uploaded it. Ofcourse, I marked it "ceased development".

I just looked into the source files to see if I could quickly fix some of the stuffs there... There was a bigger surprise waiting for me. I had done implementation in the .h files... used namespace-less header.h files, used fscanfs in C++ code... programmers doing any of the above stuffs should be immediately stopped from using the computer and should be sent to concentration camps and tortured until they start following the guidelines.

There was a time when I would bring the project into any discussion I was involved in... Fortunately there is still time and there is still no such product. I swear to totally change and refactor the code as soon as I get time...

PS: If you are a Qt expert and are free, you can contribute to the project.. wont take long to get it up and running.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Phi Beta Delta

I got nominated for membership in Phi Beta Delta. You ask why? Not to sound boastful(or to reaffirm the fact that modesty died the day I was born), I'll attach the verbatim copy of the nomination letter:

March 8, 2007

It is our pleasure to inform you that you have been nominated for membership in Phi Beta Delta by Dr. Patricia Burak, with the concurrence of the Membership Committee of the Syracuse University Alpha Sigma chapter. Phi Beta Delta is the nation's first honor society dedicated to recognizing individuals who have demonstrated scholarly achievement and performed outstanding service in the areas of international education and exchange.

There are three basic categories of members: first, distinguished international and domestic faculty and staff; second, international students and scholars who have demonstrated high scholastic achievement at Syracuse University and have demonstrated interests and/or involvement in international activities; and third, domestic students who have demonstrated high scholastic achievement and/or comparable experience.

The ceremony was on April 9'07. Here are the pictures and a brief video of the speaker explaining the meaning of Phi Beta Delta.

Now... I just NEED a job :(

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The final Cap

If you guys are following the news, you would know that the H1B cap reached on the first day itself. The immigration services received a whooping 150,000 applications to fill 65,000 H1B quota( 6800 of which is reserved for people from Singapore). It is yet to be decided that how many of those applicants held an advanced degree from US. The US government has decided that it will randomly select 65000 applicants from the applications received and reject the rest. That effectively means that around 70,000 people will not get the visa(even the ones who have already got a job). Add to that, the number of people who might get a job(people like me).

Now let me do some simple maths here.
  • 90% who apply for H1B visas have technical jobs with salaries > $50000.
  • A new grad can earn anywhere from 65K to 90k.. and pay 15k to 30K in taxes.
  • Let me take a conservative estimate and say that all 70,000 people would have paid $10,000 in taxes.
  • This means that they would have contributed to $700 million to the US economy.
Now what happens to that $700 million?? Those generated jobs don't vanish into thin air... they are outsourced. What happens next?... the government cries about outsourced jobs.. while other economies flourish. If US was a privately held firm, the CEO would have been sacked by now.

PS: Who would have thought that I would write about international politics and economy.