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May 31, 2007

reCAPTCHA: Stop Spam, Read Books

Filed under: Computer Software,Interesting Sites — Suramya @ 9:50 AM

I am sure that you have heard of Captcha by now, if you haven’t then I guess you are not in the technology field. Captcha’s are those annoying images with text that you have to enter before registering for most forums and posting comments in some blogs.

Captcha’s work because they can’t be read by computers so a human is required. Here’s a website thats using this necessary evil [1] and putting it to a good use. Basically what it does is uses captcha’s to convert scanned books to text.

Why do we need to do that, Can’t we just use OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to convert the books to text you may ask? Well its like this, OCR is not perfect and it has a lot of trouble with certain kinds of words e.g. clot might get read as dot etc. So what reCAPTCHA does is that it uses sending words that cannot be read by computers in the form of CAPTCHAs for humans to decipher and then saves the converted text. So with a lot of usage books that were previously inaccessible would slowly become accessible.

If I used captcha’s I would definitely use this as it is a good cause but I don’t use Captcha’s as they don’t work with text browsers. After I had to spend 20 mins trying to download a file that was protected with a captcha on a server to which I only had ssh access (I got around it by saving the image file to the computer, copying it to my local system, viewing it and then entering the code… ) I decided that I will not use it on any of my systems/sites.

Anyways, Check out reCAPTCHA and if you have to use Captcha’s use this one instead.

– Suramya

My vacation

Filed under: My Life — Suramya @ 7:39 AM

Got back from a five day vacation in the hills and it was an amazing experience. Its so pretty and peaceful over there that its unbelievable. We left from Noida at 5 am to pick up Deepa Aunty from her place and then drove to DhanaChuli which is near Nanital. It was a great drive and we talk about everything and anything with discussions ranging from; politics to religion to philosophy to current affairs. It took us almost 10 hours to reach there because of traffic and some detours.

Once we got there we stayed at a cottage in the hills that overlooked our land. Spent the day relaxing and talking with people. There were 9 of us over there so there were some interesting discussions. It had rained earlier in the day so the place looked clean and washed. Went to bed early because I had had only ~2 hours of sleep in the past 24 hours but we got up early the next day, had a nice breakfast sitting outside in the sun (I almost got sunburnt) and I played with the dogs (There were 3 of them: Annie, Nancy and Goldie)

The next day was the same; relaxed and enjoyed the sun. I flew my RC plane but I think the batteries I was using in the remote were weak so the plane didn’t fly that well, it was nose diving after flying for a little distance, so we decided to adjust the flaps but we did it the wrong way so the plane was nose diving almost immediately after the adjustment. Realized the mistake after a couple of hours (We had packed up the plane after a couple of crashes. ) but didn’t get a chance to try it again.

We walked around the property and I took a lot of pics. Will post them up shortly. We also drove to a few places which were really nice but I can’t recall their names or spell them correctly so I won’t try…

We left from there on Wednesday morning at 9:30 am and got back in Delhi at 7 pm. Its really hot over here compared to there. On Tuesday we actually had a hailstorm over there which was nice (I wasn’t driving, so I could enjoy the view) and the entire time we were there we had to wear jackets as it was cold.

Well this is all for now. Will post pics later. Now its back to the rat race for me..

– Suramya

May 25, 2007

Waking up early…

Filed under: Humor — Suramya @ 2:43 PM

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– Suramya

May 21, 2007

Harry Potter Psychic Serpent Series

Filed under: Books Related — Suramya @ 5:14 PM

The new Harry potter book is going to come out shortly (I think. Not sure of the exact release date but am too lazy to look it up) and I guess a lot of people are eagerly waiting for it as its the final book in the series. But I am not. I don’t like the series that much. Oh the books are decent enough to read once but they are not worth buying and keeping. Now I know Surabhi is going to get mad at me for saying that but thats what I feel.

I was surfing the web and found a link that pointed to Harry Potter Books 5-7 and I decided to check it out. Its a good thing I did because otherwise I would have missed finding this great series.

The Harry Potter Psychic Serpent Series is actually fan fiction but I loved it. Its a three book series each of which is over 400 pages long. This is what the Harry Potter series could have been like if it wasn’t written for kids. The books are a fun read with a good story line and have an interesting way of looking at the characters, but they are not for kids so don’t read it if you are under 17 or are easily offended by hints of sexual encounters.

The series starts off with Harry entering his 5th year at Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Psychic Serpent where he gets a snake with the Sight. Hermione’s torn between Ron and Harry, who’s torn between her and Ginny, who’s torn between him and Draco Malfoy, who’s torn between her and loyalty to his father. Plus: a Prophecy, Animagus training, a Dueling Club, Snape’s Penseive, kilts, giants, house elf liberation and more!

In the second book “Harry Potter and the Time of Good Intentions” Harry is in his 6th year and he gets a chance to make one change in history and he uses it to prevent his mother from being killed and ends up creating a whole new world in which he has a sister and two brothers, Malfoy is his best friend and they both are in Slytherin. Now he has to decide if he wants to change it back or not. Can’t tell more without spoilers so…

In the third and final book of the Trilogy “Harry Potter and the Triangle Prophecy” its Harry’s 7th and final year of school. In a time of uncertainty, the Muggle world has found a source of comfort and stability. Only Harry suspects that it isn’t safe. Wizards are more concerned about themselves than Muggles since Voldemort’s return, but are only Muggles at risk? Will anyone listen to Harry? He must decide whether to make a sacrifice that will change him–and the wizarding world– forever.

The Author has written some other books also in the same universe but I haven’t gotten the timer to read them yet. They are on my “to read” list.

Check it out if you are bored and want something interesting to read.

– Suramya

May 18, 2007

Bird Watching

Filed under: My Life — Suramya @ 1:53 PM

Yes I am talking about actual birds. The feathered ones… Sheesh..
Used to be an avid Bird watcher. Remember one summer when I was in 8th where I got up every day at ~5 am to go take photos of nests. Unfortunately the roll of film I was using was messed up so none of the pics I took got developed but the experience was fun. Me, Surabhi, Aditya and Soumya would spend hours trying to find nests and then taking pics. Infact I have pics of a peacock’s nest that we found when I was in 9th. Its a great shot. Will share it if I get the time to scan it and if I feel others are interested in it.

A couple of days ago I had mentioned that I have a nest in my bathroom window and I promised that I would take some pics. I did take the pics and I must say that the eggs look a lot prettier than the chicks. This one looks like a roasted chicken. I guess he/she is not more than 4-5 days old, a week tops. If you look closely at the pic you will see the two unhatched eggs in the front.

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Nest in my Window

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

– Suramya

PS: Let me know if you want me to share more pics.

May 16, 2007

Scariest thing about drafts

Filed under: Humor — Suramya @ 3:36 PM

So true…

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– Suramya

May 15, 2007

Random thoughts

Filed under: My Life — Suramya @ 4:32 PM

This post has some random thoughts that I have been thinking about so is a bit less organized than my usual posts.

Well… This past week wasn’t a lot of fun, spent the last three days coding/debugging for more than 18 hrs a day. Not fun. The worse part was that my cousin was over for all three days and I couldn’t spend time with him because I was working. But the feeling that I got once I got the stupid thing fixed was unbelievable. Made it worth the time spent. Then I spent most of Sat and Sunday sleeping to recover from the work.

It was bad enough that I find another Suramya posting comments on my friends blog (Meghna’s), She had to turn out to be a girl. Now everyone is confused so as to which Suramya said what. Though it would be interesting to get to meet her, just to be able to say “Hi, Suramya, I am Suramya”.

Then I was reading Surabhi’s blog and there I read a comment where another friend of Surabhi decided to start calling her ‘Sur’. Thats even more annoying. Had to spend a month in college where both of us were being called Sur by friends. I finally managed to convince everyone that I had been known as Sur for a longer time than her (Since 1996) so she couldn’t start poaching on my nick name. Now I dread that I have to do the same again. Ah well.. It would have been worse if I had met the friend but since I haven’t I guess I can ignore it(I think).

Yeah Yeah. I know. Its childish. But its 3 am. I am tired. That annoyed me. So there.

Oh I have a bird nest in my bathroom’s window. There were three eggs in it and one of them hatched. The other two should be hatching shortly. Will take pics tomorrow.

Been doing Yoga at 5 am for the past week. Its pretty relaxing. But I know I would never get up at that time so I go do Yoga and then comeback and goto sleep. Started running also, but that part is not so much fun. My legs hurt but I think I am getting better.

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

– Suramya

May 7, 2007

Spiderman 3 and my thoughts on it

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 3:43 PM

Went and saw Spiderman 3 on Sunday. It was an OK movie. Yeah I know that the special effects were great but the movie was ok. I had expected it to be a lot better.

I had some issues with the movie plot/story that spoiled it for me and I am going to talk about them in this post along with the parts that I liked, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet, don’t continue reading as the post might contain spoilers.

The first major issue I have with the movie was how they made the Sandman responsible for Uncle Ben’s death. This is completely against how the comic’s and books look at that event. His death was a major point in Peter Parker’s life because he felt responsible for his death as he had let the crook that killed him get away because “It wasn’t his problem”. This guilt made him realize that “With great power comes great responsibility”. So when they made Sandman the killer they changed a basic fact of Spiderman history. I know. I know. Its just a movie, but still its jarring/annoying to those who follow the comics.

The second problem was that they had way too many villains in the movie. You didn’t need the Sandman, The green goblin and Venom in the same movie. It made the movie look too cluttered and jerky. It just wasn’t flowing from one villain to another smoothly. They should have had only one villain or at most two. More than that was pushing it.

Loved the dance that Peter did at the Jazz club. It was funny. Overall the music was well chosen and appropriate.

When threatened why didn’t MJ tell Peter that Harry was going nuts and had threatened her? That whole part of the movie (Peter and Harry’s rivalry) wasn’t needed at all.

Over all the movie was fun, but it could have been a lot better if they hadn’t tried to put so many things in it at the same time.

– Suramya

May 6, 2007

Friends, How would the world be without them…

Filed under: My Life — Suramya @ 7:24 PM

On Saturday I went to Yash’s Birthday party and it was a lot of fun. Got to meet people I hadn’t met in ages. Met Yash and Nora for the first time after their wedding. It was nice, they weren’t looking/acting any different. Some of Yash’s MBA classmates were also there and we spent the night talking/enjoying. I got there at 8:40 pm and was the first one to get there (Yash had asked me to be there by 8:30 – 9:00) and everyone else joined us by 9:30 pm and the second set came it at almost 11:30 pm. We cut the cake at almost 1 am and started dinner at 1:30 am. We were there all night before we realized that it was almost 5 am and while Yash and Nora were too polite to ask us to buzz off we should leave so we left.

Before that Gaurang was in town for a week and he crashed at our place for a day/night which was a lot of fun, Was meeting him after almost a year. So it we had a lot to catch up on.

That reminded me what the important things in life are: Family and Friends. All the material wealth in the world won’t do you any good if you don’t have a friend or a family member to share it with. Meeting friends, reliving memories and catching up with each others life is a good way to de-stress and it rejuvenates you.

I have been a bit bad about keeping in touch with friends recently and now have decided that that has to change. I will be calling and emailing a lot of people in the coming days so that I can get in touch with old friends. Who knows maybe we will get to meet also.

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

– Suramya

May 4, 2007

Inverter Woes

Filed under: My Life — Suramya @ 7:12 PM

Over the past few weeks I have noticed some issues with my UPS when the power goes out and our Inverter kicks in. Earlier then the mains power came back when the UPS was on inverter it would loose power for about 1/2 a second which is enough to restart any computer connected to the UPS. So I took it for servicing and the guys over there increased the sensitivity of the UPS and it looked like it worked for a while…

Two days later I noticed that when the system was running off the inverter power it was having trouble, basically it looked like the UPS was cutting to battery and then back to mains ~ two times a second. Spoke to the UPS people and they said that it might be a problem with the inverter voltage/frequency and asked me to reduce the sensitivity or connect it to a socket without the inverter. So I bypassed the inverter and connected it directly to the mains.

Now the problem is that there is one hour loadshedding in the morning and if I am running the computer the UPS drains out in 20 mins and shuts down. Which was a pain. So I installed the UPS control software on my desktop and reset the sensitivity back to medium. Then I was just playing with the various options and I saw that the incoming voltage was 280 Volts (Normal voltage in India is 220 Volts) when the inverter was running.

I thought that it might be a bug in the software and it was probably showing the wrong voltage so I took my digital multimeter out and used that to measure the voltage. Sure enough it was 280 volts. Immediately disconnected the UPS from the inverter line and connected it directly to the mains line.

Spoke to the inverter people today (actually dad spoke to them) and they tried to tell me that the inverter was giving a cosine wave instead of a sine wave so thats why the voltmeter was reading the voltage incorrectly and that its supposed to give 280 volts and if we put more load on it then the voltage would go down to the correct value. Told them to stop BSing and send someone over to look at it. So a tech is coming tomorrow.(Hopefully).

Till then all my equipment is off the inverter line. Hopefully this will get fixed soon.

– Suramya

PS: Incase you are wondering; an inverter is sort of like a UPS but for the whole house. The one we are using is 1400 KVA. You also get ones with larger capacities that can support AC loads etc.

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