Suramya's Blog : Welcome to my crazy life…

November 8, 2019

Diwali Trip to Delhi and more

Filed under: My Life,Travel/Trips — Suramya @ 4:34 PM

Last to last week was quite eventful as me and Jani took a 9 day trip to Delhi + other places and celebrated Diwali. The trip started with us flying to Delhi on the 18th and for some reason the drive that usually takes an hour on an average took us a bit longer than 2 hours. Thankfully we had kept enough of a buffer when leaving that we had a whole 15 mins before the check-in counter closed. The flight was a bit delayed but otherwise uneventful. I have to say Vistara is fast becoming one of my favorite airlines for domestic travel due to the sheer professionalism of the staff and the standard of service they maintain. Once we got to Delhi it was quite late so we crashed and then on Saturday we spent the first half of the day running errands and finishing dental appointments. In the evening Jani and me drove over to the Sector 18 market to try out the local chaat’s and other foods. The whole area has changed quite a bit and I could barely recognize the place.

On Sunday we left early in the morning from home for my dad’s brother’s place in the Village. The drive was quite uneventful for the first half and as we neared the place there is a particular temple called ‘Gufa’ (cave) which has some religious significance. Since it was the Sunday before Diwali a million folks (at least it felt like a million folks) had descended on the place for pilgrimage/prayers and the traffic cop told us to take an alternate route if we didn’t want to be stuck in a jam for the next 3-4 hours. So we took a detour and the road took us through the real interiors of Villages and as it was the first time Jani was seeing the north-Indian villages it was a great experience. After a while just as we were supposed to merge back on the highway we found another traffic jam which was about 2-3 kms long. Once again one of the local folks directed us to use an alternate route and this one was scary. The path was barely wider than the car and both sides was overgrown with plants reducing the visibility even more. Mom was scared stiff and I actually have a video of us driving through the path. It is difficult to believe that this was a regularly used road but as per the guy who directed us it was used regularly.


The ‘wide’ path we had to drive on

This time we were able to merge back on the main road without issues and shortly after we reached our place in Baoli. It was great to be there and meet Chachaji (Dad’s younger Brother) and Chachiji (his wife) but the place felt empty. This was the first time I had visited after my grandmother passed away and usually when I visited my cousins or other relatives would also be there at the same time. This time it was just us so it felt weird and empty. It was great spending time with them and having homecooked pure healthy food. After spending a few hours relaxing and catching up we took our leave to drive over to mom’s place.


Family photo at Baoli

The drive was great and interestingly the roads are in amazing condition. The road connecting the villages (not the highway) was in better condition than the main roads in Bangalore. The road follows the Ganga Naher (Canal) and is a beautiful drive. There was no water in the canal as they had stopped the flow to do cleanup and maintenance of the canal bed but still the drive was impressive and fun.

Thanks to the great roads we made good time and reached Basera quite quickly. I was visiting the place after almost a decade and there were a lot of changes in the village and the house. But at the same time things were same enough that I got a weird sense that something was off but it was tricky to identify what was causing it. For example the road in front of the house was raised up by almost 6-8 inches. This meant instead of going up two steps to get to the front entrance of the house it was just 1 step and it caused cognitive dissonance for a while. Initially I thought that I was remembering the enterance being a lot higher since I was younger/shorter when I last visited but after a while, I figured out that it was actually because of the raised road that everything looked lower.

We had tea and homemade sweets post which I took Jani around the house and Gher (traditionally the men stayed separate from the ladies and stayed in the Gher. Plus the farm animals etc were kept there as well. Since I spent a lot of my childhood here there were a lot of stories to tell about my childhood and places I remembered. Ashok bhaiya joined us after a bit and took us to the orchard behind the Gher. He spent a lot of effort telling me about the various plants and trees that are there but most of it went over my head. Thankfully Jani was there and since she is really interested in plants/gardening they both had a good long conversation about trees and basically ignored me which was fine with me as I was happy listening without having to contribute.

While we were exploring it turned dark and we headed back home for some amazing food dripping in homemade butter and some homemade pickle. After dinner we hung out for a while catching up with family and then crashed as we had started quite early in the morning.


Jani Helping with cooking by making Poori’s

Next morning we got up quite early (based on our normal wakeup times) and after another filling meal Ashok bhaiya took us around the village and fields. We took the tractor and me & Jani relaxed in the back in the trailer while bhaiya drove. The first place we visited was a Bura refinery (Bura sugar is the least refined or processed form of sugar or sugarcane juice.) they were making the Bura for sale and apparently that has added chemicals in it and is different from the one made for home consumption. It was cool to see how it is made though it was a bit stinky as the burning wood combined with heated sugarcane juice gives off a very strong smell.
We didn’t hang around for long and soon we were on our way to our fields where we were growing Sugarcane and the attached orchard had a lot of different fruit trees. I remember Mango, Guava, peach but there were a lot more. As before Jani and Bhaiya discussed the various trees and how they were grown etc. For me I was enjoying the nature and fresh fruits. After a while we drove over to the other orchard where we primarily grow Mango’s and this one was infested with monkeys. Apparently the infestation is bad enough that farmers regularly loose a lot of their crops to them and since they are so many of them you can’t even chase them off without risking them attacking you. Thankfully we weren’t attacked while we were there and soon drove back home for lunch.


Jani & me at the Sugarcane fields

Lunch was quite relaxed and we chilled at home for a bit before heading out again in the evening to check out the Naher and buy some plants from the nursery near the place. This time I drove and we first visited a water powered Mill (or Atta Chakki in Hindi) which was shut down for a bit due to the ongoing repair in the canal. After that we drove over to the nursery where Jani was in heaven. We bought a lot of plants for a fraction of the cost compared to Delhi/Bangalore and thankfully they were all for the house in Delhi instead of Bangalore as my balcony is running out of space for more plants. 😊

After shopping we returned home and had dinner. Since folks in the villages sleep early everyone soon went to sleep while Jani and me went to the roof to try seeing the Orionid meteor shower. But we were not lucky enough to see much and if we had stayed up longer I am sure we would have seen something but we were also tired so we crashed soon.


Family Pic at Basera

Next day we woke up early and headed back to Delhi. On the way we passed a village named Jani and the police station for the same. I made sure we took a pic of Jani in front of the police station for Jani village and the folks watching us gave us funny looks while we were taking the pics. The drive back was uneventful and we made good time and reached home without much delay. Once we reached home, Jani had a dental appointment which took most of the evening and then we crashed.


Jani Village


Jani Police Station

Next day we explored Delhi and visited the usual suspects. Starting we Lotus temple, Humayun’s tomb, India Gate and last and not the least Kutub Minar. I was visiting Humayun’s tomb for the first time even though I have been staying in Delhi for years. It is quite nice and well maintained. After exploring Delhi we returned home and starting the next day I was working from home so we basically relaxed at home for the most part. Jani and mom did go shopping a few times and bought a bunch of stuff. I am happy I had the excuse of working so I could avoid joining them for their shopping expeditions.


Lotus temple


Us at Humayun’s tomb

Unfortunately I managed to catch a viral during one of the visits and just as my work ended on Friday I started feeling the effects and by the time I went to bed I was miserable and the next 2 days were painful and tiring. Basically I survived on Soup and meds. Thankfully by Sunday afternoon I was a bit better as we had Jeeto mausi, Mausaji, Axu and Montu visiting for lunch. Lunch was fun even though I couldn’t eat much but it was great to catchup with them after a long time. Post lunch we did the puja in the evening and lit the Diya’s which was nice. Surprisingly hardly any folks were bursting crackers this time, so it was quite peaceful and not too bad pollution wise.


Monday again I was working so I spent the day in my room while Jani and parents hung out and shopped. Our flight was in the evening so we all piled into the car around 6 and drove over to the airport. Since we got there early enough we went to the Airport Lounge and it was tiny. Hardly big enough for more than 30-40 people at a time and not much food/drinks options were there either. The flight back was mostly uneventful and we reached home around 2am. Thankfully most of the luggage survived the trip except one bowl that was sacrificed to the travel gods during the trip.

Overall the trip was a lot of fun and going forward I am going to visit Basera & Baoli much more frequently.

– Suramya

October 31, 2019

You can’t have ‘b’, ‘l’, ‘m’, ‘r’, and ‘t in your password if you are using macOS 10.15.1 aka Catalina

Filed under: Funny News,My Thoughts,Techie Stuff — Suramya @ 12:50 PM

Users of Twitter App on macOS 10.15.1 aka Catalina just found out that they couldn’t log in to their account if their password contained any of the following characters: ‘b’, ‘l’, ‘m’, ‘r’. When I first read the news I thought it was a joke but then realized that its an actual issue in the latest version of the MacOS. The problem is showing up on the Twitter app but other programs might be effected as well.

According to Twitter in-house developer Nolan O’Brien, these particular keypresses are gobbled up by a regression associated with the operating system’s shortcut support. Normally, users can press those aforementioned keys as shortcuts within the app to perform specific actions, such as ‘t’ to open a box to compose a new tweet.

Something changed within macOS to capture those shortcut keys, rather than pass them to the password field in the user interface as expected. So, in other words, when you press a shortcut key in Twitter when entering an account password, the keypress is ignored in that context rather than handled as a legit password keypress.

This reminded me of the weird and basic bugs that showed up in older versions of Windows. Apple really needs to work on their quality control if they want to stay in the game.

Source: The Register: You’e yping i wong: macOS Catalina stops Twitter desktop app from accepting B, L, M, R, and T in passwords

– Suramya

October 17, 2019

Japanese Pop-star stalked using reflection in her eye – Highlighting dangers of digital debris in our digital artifacts

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 4:26 PM

Over the years we have all learnt that sharing personal information like address, phone no’s, location etc with strangers over the internet is a bad idea. However with Social media this line is getting pretty blurred and people post all sorts of personal data online without any thoughts on how it might impact them. In addition to people personally posting information the various data items that we post online have digital information embedded in them in form of meta-data that tells information that you might not want to be public. For example, all modern phones embed location information in any photo taken unless the user explicitly opts out (which is rarely done). Looking at one of the pics taken with my phone during a trip you can see that it has the following information (There’s a lot more info, but this just shows some of the more interesting parts):

Looking at the data you can see that I was at Kovalam beach on 7th Oct and if I had something to hide about where I was during this time then this image would give information that I might not want known. A few years ago there was a case where a model posted a cropped version of a photo on her blog without realizing that a thumbnail of the original uncropped version was embedded in the cropped pic and one of the visitors to her blog managed to recover the thumbnail and view the original image which happened to show the lady in the nude. There are now software available to strip this and other information from any photos you share. I suggest you check them out if you post images frequently.

In addition to the information embedded in the file you also need to be aware of what is visible in the picture itself. Earlier this week a Japanese stalker was arrested after he stalked and assaulted a 21-year-old “Japanese idol” at her home. The guy zoomed into a high-resolution selfie posted by the singer to view the train station reflected in her eye. After he found the image he used Google Street view to identify the station and then used the angle of the sun and other data points to narrow down the building and the floor the star was staying at. The guy identified himself as a ‘fan’ whereas a more accurate description would be a creep or stalker.

As the resolutions of photos go up so do the dangers of sharing these images, for example if you have a high-resolution photo with your keys in the image, it is now possible to create duplicate keys using the image. There is work ongoing to use the fingerprints shown on an image to generate high quality 3D prints replicating the fingerprints and in a test the printed finger was able to unlock a Galaxy S10 using the finger print scanner. In fact Tokyo Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper has gone so far as to tell people that they shouldn’t make the V-sign with their hand, which Japanese often do in photos, because fingerprints could be stolen. (What a world we live in, right?)

So you need to be very careful about what you post online. Stay safe everyone 🙂

Well this is all for now, will post more later.

– Suramya

October 16, 2019

Netflix greenlights animated series ‘Ghee Happy’ starring Hindu deities as Children

Filed under: My Thoughts,Uncategorized — Suramya @ 12:10 PM

Very happy to hear about this new NetFlix animated series Ghee Happy that has just been approved for development. It is a cartoon that will follow Hindu deities as children discovering their powers in a deity daycare. The series has not started production yet and it will be a few years before its launched but its a positive step.

Indian mythology is so rich and diverse and most kids nowadays have no idea about it. Talk to a kid and they will be able to name multiple gods from the Greek pantheon but ask them to do the same from the Hindu pantheon you will get 2-3 names at a max. This is because the Greek gods have been part of so many stories and adaptations over the years that are not 100% accurate but keep the basic story the same. Till very recently there were hardly any novels/stories about any of the Hindu gods or even about the Indian epics. This was because people were scared to offend others who would take offense about any deviation from the standard telling of the tales. Even with this I won’t be surprised if some idiot files a court case against the cartoon once its launched because they are offended.

I think we should allow such adaptations provided they are in good taste and not deliberately offensive. I would love to see similar series about the Christianity and Islam but don’t think that would happen in the near future. Although I do know there is a comic series where Jesus is a primary character and was in a lot of trouble because of it.

Source: Netflix greenlights Pixar veteran’s animated series ‘Ghee Happy’

Well this is all for now. Will post more later.

– Suramya

October 15, 2019

Theoretical paper speculates breaking 2048-bit RSA in eight hours using a Quantum Computer with 20 million Qubits

Filed under: Computer Security,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 12:05 PM

If we manage to get a fully functional Quantum Computer with about 20 million Qubits in the near future then according to this theoretical paper we would be able to factor 2048-bit RSA moduli in approximately eight hours. The paper is quite interesting, although the math in did give me a headache. However this is all still purely theoretical as we only have 50-60 qBit computers right now and are a long way away from general purpose Quantum computers. That being said I anticipate that we would be seeing this technology being available in our lifetime.

We significantly reduce the cost of factoring integers and computing discrete logarithms over finite fields on a quantum computer by combining techniques from Griffiths-Niu 1996, Zalka 2006, Fowler 2012, Ekerå-Håstad 2017, Ekerå 2017, Ekerå 2018, Gidney-Fowler 2019, Gidney 2019. We estimate the approximate cost of our construction using plausible physical assumptions for large-scale superconducting qubit platforms: a planar grid of qubits with nearest-neighbor connectivity, a characteristic physical gate error rate of 10−3, a surface code cycle time of 1 microsecond, and a reaction time of 10 micro-seconds. We account for factors that are normally ignored such as noise, the need to make repeated attempts, and the spacetime layout of the computation. When factoring 2048 bit RSA integers, our construction’s spacetime volume is a hundredfold less than comparable estimates from earlier works (Fowler et al. 2012, Gheorghiu et al. 2019). In the abstract circuit model (which ignores overheads from distillation, routing, and error correction) our construction uses 3n+0.002nlgn logical qubits, 0.3n3+0.0005n3lgn Toffolis, and 500n2+n2lgn measurement depth to factor n-bit RSA integers. We quantify the cryptographic implications of our work, both for RSA and for schemes based on the DLP in finite fields.

Bruce Schneier talks about how Quantum computing will affect cryptography in his essay Cryptography after the Aliens Land. In summary “Our work on quantum-resistant algorithms is outpacing our work on quantum computers, so we’ll be fine in the short run. But future theoretical work on quantum computing could easily change what “quantum resistant” means, so it’s possible that public-key cryptography will simply not be possible in the long run.”

Well this is all for now will post more later

– Suramya

October 13, 2019

Our Trip to Varkala

Filed under: My Life,Travel/Trips,Uncategorized — Suramya @ 11:01 PM

This last weekend it was a long holiday so we went on a trip to Varkala, Kerala. Its about 700kms from Bangalore and as per Google maps would take about 13 hours to drive there. As I had no interest in driving for 13+ hours and reaching the site exhausted we decided to take an overnight sleeper bus to Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) and then hire a car to take us to Varkala which is about another 2 hours drive. Initially we did think about taking a TT (Tempo Traveller) as we normally do as that would have come out to be a bit cheaper but then the majority voted for taking a bus so that we get some rest and not reach the resort exhausted as travel in a TT is not the world most comfortable way to travel.

We started from my place around 7:30pm as our bus boarding was at 9:15pm but since it was raining we couldn’t get any cabs so we ended up taking my car where all 7 of us (including the driver) squeezed into the car and even with the traffic we reached the pickup point early enough that we had time to have a quick dinner before boarding the bus. Due to the delay in us booking the tickets we were right in the back of the bus and the road was initially quite bumpy and the driver really loved the brakes. I almost took a header down from the upper berth but thankfully managed to grab a railing before I pitched over fully. The seats were quite comfortable and clean so after playing a round of UNO we crashed (we would have continued playing but the lights were turned off and it made it hard to play. Plus we were all tired as well so we decided to sleep early.

Once we reached Thiruvananthapuram and got into the car the first order of business was food so we went to a local restaurant and attacked the food. It was quite good, or we were just that hungry that we finished the food in record time. Post brunch we drove to Poovar Backwaters and took a 3 hour boat ride through the backwaters. The boat ride was quite fun and I enjoyed the beautiful views. This place is a birdwatcher’s paradise and I can’t remember how many different varieties of birds I saw during the ride. About halfway through the ride we stopped for a snack break at a floating restaurant and it was ok, nothing too special though the juice I had was fresh and tasty. Apparently the tea was one of the worst people have had but since I don’t drink tea I can’t comment on that.


All ready to explore the Backwaters

After the snacks we rode over to the Golden Sands beach which was basically a regular beach between the backwaters and the ocean. They just gave it a fancy name to attract visitors. We had to cut the beach visit short as it started drizzling and in any case we couldn’t get into the water as it was dangerous. We did see a crab and were trying to catch it when a big wave came and the crab escaped in the water. You should have seen how quickly everyone ran when they realized that the crab was MIA in the water.


The place was a bird watchers paradise

After the beach we spent another 1 1/2 hours touring the mangroves and by the time the 3 hours were up we were all more than ready to head back. The last 45 mins or so were esp boring as we basically went round the place in circles and we all were a bit sleepy by this time but Jani and Akanksha were especially hit as they had both taken motion sickness tablets and one of the side effects of this particular table is excessive drowsiness.

Since we were all tired and had no interest in looking at more mangroves/backwater we headed out to the hotel. On the way we stopped at Vizhinjam Light House making it just before the closing time giving us about 15-20 mins to explore the lighthouse. For some weird reason they have a requirement that everyone climbing the lighthouse has to remove their shoes. As it had started drizzling this meant that we had wet feet/socks when we climbed the stairs. The view from the location is spectacular and worth the time to see at least once.


View from the lighthouse

After the light house we drove to the hotel and checked in. We got lucky and got one of the suites giving us a nice place to hang out and chill. The hotel is located at a great location and was a good experience for the most part. The major issue we faced during the stay was that the service is super slow. To give an idea of the slowness it took over an hour for them to serve us dinner after we ordered and I was ready to go to the kitchen to yell at them when they finally served the food. I was happy with what I ordered but the rest of the folks were not super impressed with the food. The other issue I had was that the linen / bed sheets etc were super old and quite rough/uncomfortable.

But the view from the room was amazing. We could see the swimming pool from the window and just beyond that was the beach. We got up early morning the next day to enjoy a swim before starting the touristy things. It was a bit of a surprise when we got down and walked over to the beach and saw the entire beach front area in front of the hotel taken over by Pandits and worshipers for puja (prayer). So we walked a bit toward the empty part of the beach beyond the fishermen selling fresh catch and entered the water.


View from our room

The water was phenomenal, and the waves were super powerful and a lot of fun. We got thrown around quite a bit and had a blast. We could only go in a few meters into the surf and that was more than enough to chill/fool around. Jani stayed out to keep an eye on us and spotted a dead puffer fish on the beach which is something I hadn’t see before.


Dead Puffer fish we found on the beach

We spent about an hour in the water before we had to head back as we had a tight schedule for the rest of the day. We had a quick breakfast at the hotel and headed out to visit the Jatayu Earth Center/Adventure Camp. The idea was that we would spend a few hours at the adventure camp, visit the statue and then head back.

Unfortunately, by the time we reached the center it was 11:30am and hot enough that you could fry an egg on the road, so we discussed and reached a consensus to skip the adventure sports and just take the cable car to the top to see the statue. We could have taken the steps and trekked to the top but due to the heat none of us dared. The statue was impressive and the 65 acre land around the statue was filled with a forest and looked amazing. After fooling around for a bit and taking a lot of pics we took refuge under some trees and then under the wings of Jatayu.


Us at the Jatayu Earth Center


Sharukh and Ayush trying to copy Jatayu’s pose

Once we got down from the statue it was late enough that we were starting to feel hungry again so we headed out to ‘5 Spoons’ restaurant which was ok. Most of the items on the menu were not available and the dishes we did get were average. However the Chilli Paneer we got was surprisingly good.

Post lunch we headed back to the hotel with a plan to get Kerala massages at the hotel followed by a long and relaxing swim in the pool. Scheduling the massage took some time as the staff was super slow. To make things interesting they could only schedule massages for 2 people at a time. While the rest of the folks went for a swim me and Jani volunteered for the first slot. After we agreed and were about to head in we found out that there was no guy available for the men’s massage so I had to wait for 30 mins while their massage guy came over.

The massage was interesting in a lot of ways. When I got to the room I was asked to strip and wear this strip of cloth the size/width of a thong. The windows of the room didn’t have curtains and I could see houses and folks chilling from where I was standing. I only hope that the women’s side had more protection from peeping toms. The guy giving the massage was quite decent and while it wasn’t the best massage I had it definitely wasn’t the worst either. I felt a lot more relaxed after the massage and went for a swim after the massage.

For dinner we walked over to another restaurant walking distance from the hotel and were joined by 2 other friends who were coincidentally in Varkala at the same time during their road trip. The dinner was fine but it took them ages to get the food. The Veg sizzler was quite nice and apparently the seafood platter was good as well. The rest of the dishes were quite average. Because of the slow service it took us a while to finish dinner and then we retired to our room to chill.

As it was Ayush’s birthday we had planned on a surprise birthday celebration. While Shahrukh kept Ayush busy me, Jani, Sharukh and Shashank blew up balloons and decorated the cake etc. Post cake cutting we proceeded with the traditional beating the crap out of the birthday boy ritual. Fortunately for Ayush both Jani and Akanksha were softhearted enough to stop the beating after only a few hits. We then opened the local wine we had picked up and I can say without any hesitation that it was the worst wine I have had the pleasure of tasting. We only managed to have a few sips each before we gave up and abandoned the rest of the bottle.


Celebrating Ayush’s birthday

Next day we didn’t have much planned so we got up early morning and spent the morning playing in the pool. We stayed in the water till the last possible min and it was great. Unfortunately we had to leave the pool as it was getting late and we had to freshen up before we checked out from the hotel thus we got out, freshened up and walked over to another restaurant for breakfast where the food was a lot better and we had the entire place to ourselves.

Once we were done with food we checked out and then drove over to Kovalam beach. We took the beach road which was quite scenic but in bad repair so the drive took a while. Just as we reached the beach it started raining so we had to run to the nearest restaurant which was right on the beach. Personally I am not a huge fan of Kovalam beach as I think its overrated, crowded and not worth the time. There are other beaches nearby which are a lot better and more friendly but this is a beach that is so famous that everyone wants to visit atleast once. This was the second time I visited and though it was a litter less chaotic than the last time I was there it was still too crowded. The food at kovalam was quite nice and we ended up spending almost 1 1/2 hours there.

Post lunch, we drove to our pickup point near the music college and we reached there almost an hour before our boarding was supposed to start and there was nothing around where we could sit. Finally we sat down in a Gandhi museum near the pickup point, but luck was with us that the bus reached early and we boarded. Once again we were at the end of the bus and had a great & bumpy ride. This bus was via ‘orange tours’ and I didn’t like the bus quality. There were cockroaches in the bus and the blanket they provided was stinking so badly that I had to open the window to get fresh air and avoid throwing up. The driver was quite good though, he got us to Bangalore an hour earlier than we expected so we reached home by 8am and got ready by 8:30 and was on the way to office on time.

Overall the trip was quite fun. The next time we will take Kerela Lines both ways as their quality & cleanliness was much better than Orange Tours. Well, this is all for now. Will post more later.

– Suramya

October 10, 2019

Taxonomy of Terrible programmers

Filed under: Humor,Techie Stuff — Suramya @ 11:58 PM

If you have been in tech for a while you would have had the dubious pleasure of meeting some or all of the types of programmers described in the following post: The Taxonomy of Terrible Programmers

In one of my previous companies I had the pleasure of working with the The Arcanist and trust me it was a painful experience that I still remember more than a decade later. So what is an Arcanist?

Anyone who has worked on a legacy system of any import has dealt with an Arcanist. The Arcanist’s goal is noble: to preserve the uptime and integrity of the system, but at a terrible cost.

The Arcanist has a simple philosophy that guides his or her software development or administrative practices: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – to an extreme.

The day a piece of software under his or her auspices ships, it will forever stay on that development platform, with that database, with that operating system, with that deployment procedure. The Arcanist will see to it, to the best of his ability. He may not win every battle, but he will fight ferociously always.

All change is the enemy – it’s a vampire, seducing less vigilant engineers to gain entry to the system, only to destroy it from within.

The past is the future in the Arcanists’ worldview, and he’ll fight anyone tries to upgrade his circa 1981 PASCAL codebase to the bitter, tearful end.

We had to fight him to move from a system that required you to edit HEX code for making any changes to a web based UI that controlled the system and gave extra functionality. In the end the project was moved to a different team as everyone realized that he was going to kill it just because he was used to the old system and didn’t want to change.

Check out the linked article for details on the other types. If you recognize some of the behaviour’s described in the post as something you might do, I suggest you take a good long look at yourself and seriously think about changing as being classified/identified as one of the types of people in this list is not a great carrier move.

– Suramya

PS: Before you ask, yes this post links to a really old post. The post has been sitting in my draft folder for ages and I finally decided to publish it.

October 8, 2019

The hated font Comics Sans is actually very useful and life changing for people with Dyslexia

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 6:18 PM

Comic Sans is the font everyone loves to hate. In fact there is a whole movement to ban the font which is something I didn’t know till today. I don’t really like the font but spending money and effort to ban a font just because you don’t like it seems a bit extreme.

There’s a petition to ban it from Gmail and myriad stories about how terrible it is. Even Weird Al chastises people who use Comic Sans in his music video for “Tacky.” (“Got my new résumé/it’s printed in Comic Sans.”)

A Ban Comics Sans movement began in 1999 with graphic designers Holly and David Combs. In a 2010 interview with The Guardian, Holly said, “Using Comic Sans is like turning up to a black-tie event in a clown costume.” Their manifesto states, “By banding together to eradicate this font from the face of the earth we strive to ensure that future generations will be liberated from this epidemic and never suffer this scourge that is the plague of our time.” Their website sells t-shirts for anyone who wants to drop $26 to make sure their stance on this font plague is clear.

Even though the site bancomicsans.com now redirects to usecomicsans.com its still not because they think the font is ok, it’s because the font is so hated and that makes it cool to use it (Yeah, I don’t get it either but that’s what ‘cool’ people do.). I personally think that the font is kiddish and would never use it for official communications or purposes. But there is an aspect of using Comic Sans that I wasn’t aware of till earlier today and it blew my mind. Basically Comic Sans is a font that makes it easier for people with Dyslexia to read. This is because unlike other fonts which use repeated shapes to create different letters, such as a “p” rotated to made a “q,” Comic Sans has irregular/unique shapes for each letter making it easier for folks to read the text. I personally find comic Sans to be a bit hard to read for long text but that’s probably because I am used to reading text in Calibre/Arial/Times New Roman etc. But for people who have issues reading regular fonts its a lifesaver. In this way using a Kindle is a great thing as I can choose the font I am most comfortable with for reading and it doesn’t need to be a ‘good’ font.

Check out the full article for more insights: Hating Comic Sans Is Ableist

This whole article made me think about how things we take for granted can be huge issues for others and that we should try thinking about things from the other person’s view without judging.

– Suramya

October 3, 2019

Pics composed of as many pixels as there are animals still alive in that species

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 11:16 AM

Inspite of what certain people might think, we are at the edge of ecological disaster and species extinction and biodiversity loss is a major threat. As per a UN report published back in May Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’; Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’.

The Report finds that around 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever before in human history.

The average abundance of native species in most major land-based habitats has fallen by at least 20%, mostly since 1900. More than 40% of amphibian species, almost 33% of reef-forming corals and more than a third of all marine mammals are threatened. The picture is less clear for insect species, but available evidence supports a tentative estimate of 10% being threatened. At least 680 vertebrate species had been driven to extinction since the 16th century and more than 9% of all domesticated breeds of mammals used for food and agriculture had become extinct by 2016, with at least 1,000 more breeds still threatened.

The problem is that the numbers are too big and the species so removed from our daily lives that most people don’t bother thinking about it. An Imgurian user JJSmooth44 decided to make a project that visually shows how scarily low the population of some of these animals is by creating Pics which are composed of as many pixels as there are animals still alive in those Species. You can check out the pics here: These Pics Are Composed Of As Many Pixels As There Are Animals Still Alive In These Species


African Wild Dog. Estimated between 3000 and 5500 remain


Amur Leopard. Estimated about 60 remain


Asian Elephant. Estimated between 40000 and 50000 remain

Some of these animals are endangered because of loss of habitat and encroachment, the others because people think parts of their body have medicinal value or its just the ‘cool’/’in’ thing to have things made from animal organs or tusks etc. The thing is that this needs to change else we will loose priceless parts of our world and once its gone we can’t bring them back.

Think about it.

– Suramya

October 2, 2019

Chinese scientists manage to grow leaves on the far side of the moon

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 12:03 PM

As you know there is a new space race kind of going on where a lot of countries are working towards making a habitat capable of sustaining human life on the Moon (and on Mars). One of the key things that humans need to survive is Oxygen and there is only so much filtration and chemical systems can do to produce Oxygen. There are limitations in artificial systems used to generate oxygen and the easiest way to create Oxygen is to use a system that is self sustaining and depending on the type produces edible food as well: Plants.

Till now growing plants on the Moon has been in the realm of Science Fiction but not anymore… well Technically speaking we have grown a plant but we still have a long way to go before we can plant a garden on the Moon. China’s Chang’e-4 spacecraft achieved this milestone earlier when they managed to grow two cotton leaves in the 2.6 KG mini biosphere that was part of the payload on the spacecraft. The leaves lasted a lunar day (14.5 earth days) and died during the first lunar night due to the cold. The experiment continued until May though to test the longevity of the apparatus and all systems were green at that time.

Plants have been grown in low Earth orbit on the International Space Station, but this experiment marked the first time a seed had sprouted on the moon. Xie Gengxin of the advanced Technology Research Institute at Chongqing University, who led the design of the experiment, says he and the team are now writing scientific papers based on the results.

Xie says the team initially wanted to send a species of small tortoise on the voyage. However, the mission constraints were too great. “The weight of the Chang’e-4 probe demanded that the weight [of the experiment] can’t exceed three kilograms,” Xie said. The experiment had a pressure of one atmosphere. It was integrated with the spacecraft two months ahead of launch and spent another month in space before landing. “Even though it is very meaningful to choose tortoise, the oxygen inside the payload can only be used for about 20 days for turtles,” Xie says, in explaining why the idea was dropped.

Obviously there is a lot of work still remaining before we start talking about human colonies on the Moon, but we are a small step closer with this new achievement.

Source: IEEE Spectrum: China Grew Two Cotton Leaves on the Moon

– Suramya

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