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September 21, 2014

India’s Mangalyaan races to MARS

Filed under: Interesting Sites,My Thoughts,Techie Stuff — Suramya @ 7:30 PM

Did you know that India’s very own Mangalyaan is racing to Mars and about to do the final course corrections to enter Mars orbit? If the corrections work then India will be the first country to successfully enter the Mars orbit on the first try and the first Asian country to make it to mars.

The Indian Space Research Organisation has published a handy slide deck (PDF) explaining what happens next. There’s lots of little chores like uploading of commands going on at the moment, but things get interesting on September 24th. :) The PDF has a breakdown of what is expected when the action starts so do check it out.

I am going to try staying up at night to see if there is live coverage of the event. This is a great day in the Indian Space age. :)

Now, there are a lot of folks who are making comments to effect of “India should spend money on feeding the poor, instead of launching space rockets”. I have seen multiple comments to this effect on various blogs and forums. What these folks don’t realize is that spending money on the poor is all well and good but we need to start spending money on the Space program as well because end of the day we don’t have that much room on earth and the only place for us to go once Earth is full is out in space. There we have a lot more resources, enough space to expand and figure out new technologies that will make it easier/cheaper to feed the folks on earth.

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

– Suramya

Links:

1. India vs America: Earthling invaders in race to MARS
2. India’s MOM Mars mission makes final course correction
3. ISRO Website

September 17, 2014

Register for a Free MIT Photojournalism Course to become a better photographer

Filed under: Interesting Sites — Suramya @ 1:58 AM

Too many so called photographers today think that putting a black and white filter on a photo of food makes it an artistic photo. Unfortunately that is not true. If you are interested in Photojournalism or just want to learn how to take good photographs (and I am not talking about selfies here) you should check out this free MIT course: Documentary Photography and Photojournalism: Still Images of a World in Motion.

Check it out if you have some time.

Thanks to Lifehacker.com for the link.

– Suramya

March 4, 2014

MIT wants you to Peel a Pine tree branch if you need a water filter

Filed under: Interesting Sites,Techie Stuff — Suramya @ 1:12 AM

Boffins at MIT have run some tests and found out that if you peel the bark off a Pine tree branch and pour water through the stick, then it will block upto 99% of e-coli bacteria and a host of other bad stuff giving up to four liters of drinkable water per day. This makes it a lot cheaper than any current commercial water filtration implementation in the market and a lot more scalable.

Dirty water is a major cause of mortality in the developing world. ‘The most common water-borne pathogens are bacteria (e.g. Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhi, Vibrio cholerae), viruses (e.g. adenoviruses, enteroviruses, hepatitis, rotavirus), and protozoa (e.g. giardia). These pathogens cause child mortality and also contribute to malnutrition and stunted growth of children.’ People have been working on engineering cheaper and cheaper filtration systems for years, but now a group of researchers has found a promising and simple solution: a tree branch. ‘Approximately 3 cm^3 of sapwood can filter water at the rate of several liters per day, sufficient to meet the clean drinking water needs of one person.’

Of course there are some caveats; the system can trap most types of bacteria, the smallest of which measure about 200 nanometers but currently cannot trap viruses most of which are much smaller in size. Also, the stick needs to be kept wet or the filtration is not that effective.

The researchers have published a paper in this week’s journal PLoS ONE where they go over their findings and demo this functionality. Check it out if you have some time.

I am definitely adding this to my things to know in case of an emergency list. :)

Thanks to Slashdot for the initial story.

Additional reading: Need a water filter? Peel a tree branch – MIT News Office

– Suramya

March 30, 2013

Will you get fired over your Twitter history?

Filed under: Interesting Sites,My Thoughts,Techie Stuff — Suramya @ 6:00 PM

Ideally you should know if you have posted something online that will get you fired, but as we all know there are people in the world who are a bit slow and need extra help in figuring out stuff. So for these people there is a new web service called “FireMe! Who wants to get fired?” that goes over your tweets and uses an algorithm to figure out the chances of you getting fired if you boss reads your Twitter history.

Personally I think that if you need help figuring out whether you said something online that will get you fired then there is a high chance that you actually did post something which will get you fired. :)

According to the site, they are doing this to raise awareness about the dangers of public online data. Plenty of folks have been fired for things they posted online. Don’t become another statistic, post responsibly.

Thanks to PopSci for the initial Link,

– Suramya

November 25, 2012

Social Media At Work

Filed under: Interesting Sites,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 12:05 AM

There are plenty of companies in the world who have an open policy in regards to social media and a lot of companies which block these sites. Personally I don’t spend much time of Facebook, Google+ etc so for me it doesn’t matter if the sites are blocked or not. However other folks do spend a lot of time of FB and to these folks it does matter if the site is blocked or not. If you spend some time on the web you will see loads of posts for each position but more and more companies are slowly blocking these sites citing productivity losses and bandwidth hogging.

Learnstuff.com has an interesting info-graphic on the Social Media At Work that Kayla Evans shared with me and since the numbers looked impressive I decided to share them with my readers. According to the site the average college student spends three hours checking their various social media sites, but only two hours studying, which is scary. Workers aren’t faring much better, either. Every time someone at work gets an IM, a Facebook message or a tweet, it takes them a whopping 23 minutes to get back on task according to the research.

A little while ago I was part of a focus group for cell phones and we were discussing what do people need in a smartphone and one of the comments other folks in the study made that I found interesting/scary was that Facebook is a lifeline for them and if they can’t check it then they don’t know what they would do. Obviously I am paraphrasing but the sentiment is clear.

A lot of People are spending more time on FB ‘liking’ their friend’s posts instead of actually spending time with them. Go spend time with your friends, if you don’t want to end up like this guy:

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

– Suramya

July 19, 2012

Sensordrone brings us one step closer to having a real life StarTrek Tricorder

Filed under: Interesting Sites,My Thoughts,Techie Stuff — Suramya @ 10:56 PM

Anyone who has watched Star Trek would love to get their hands on a Tricorder, but till recently Tricorders have been the stuff of Science Fiction. However slowly but steadily the technology to build them is getting there. We have the Tricorder Project which gave us the blue prints to create a basic version of the tricorder. It was cool and let you watch Magnetic field fluctuations etc (among other things) but still required you to build the thing yourself. Now comes Sensordrone, a project that pairs a sensor-heavy dongle with your smartphone and then opens them up for use using different apps. Me Want! :)

Its basically a sensor package that you pair with your phone and then run apps to visualize the various data, with no need to build the hardware yourself (I am more of the software building person.) Sensordrone is a Kickstarter project so its not really a real product yet but since people have pledged $153,655 for the project already (target was $25,000), it does seem like this is going to be an actual release pretty soon. They are aiming for an Oct 2012 release and it would cost about $200 or so. When it comes out I think I probably will end up buying it… Does that make me a Geek? Hell yeah… :)

Excerpt from their website:

If you have a Sensordrone, you can run apps on your tablet or smartphone to monitor carbon monoxide and air quality, find gas leaks, measure your child’s temperature, log the weather, and much more.

For example, apps using the capacitance sensor can work as a stud finder, a proximity monitor, or a liquid level monitor. Apps using the pressure sensor can work as a barometer, an altimeter, calculate elevation differences so you can measure the height of a building, be hooked up to a pressure cuff to work as a blood pressure monitor, and more. Humidity sensing is not just for weather, it determines comfort level for infants, finds the optimum conditions for storing foods, and could even help prevent mold from growing in your home

Sensordrone makes any sensor application as easy as running an app!

Thanks to Engadget: Sensordrone lets your smartphone monitor temperature, air quality, inebriation for the heads up.

– Suramya

March 24, 2012

Einstein Archives website starts project to get 80,000 documents online

Filed under: Interesting Sites,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 1:55 AM

Seems like slowly everyone is finally figuring out that sharing information is good (except for RIAA/MPAA etc). First Royal Society journal archive was made permanently free to access then Sir Isaac Newton’s scanned notes got published online by Cambridge. Now the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has published some 2,000 digitized documents from their Albert Einstein’s archives ranging from personal correspondence to scientific papers online (on alberteinstein.info). These documents are fully searchable and can be examined right down to the finest detail. They will continue adding additional documents over the course of 2012, with the ultimate goal being to get all of the 80,000+ items in the university’s archives online.

This is an amazing collection that can maybe help more people understand how one of the most brilliant men in history thought. I would love to go through the archive, but unfortunately they are mostly gibberish to me. I am sure other folks would find them most interesting and who knows, this might spark some idea in someones mind that could end up changing the world.

Source: CBC News
Thanks to Engaget for the initial story.

– Suramya

February 11, 2012

Dr Who and Star Trek now to have an official Crossover

Filed under: Interesting Sites,Techie Stuff — Suramya @ 10:38 PM

Dr Who and Star Trek are my two favorite shows and even though there have been numerous fan fiction titles where the two cross over, there was no official cross over till now…. :) In May IDW is going to publish a Doctor Who/Star Trek: The Next Generation crossover series. I am definitely going to go buy the books when they come out. I have read the Star Trek cross overs with X-Men and a couple of others but I believe this one is going to be the best.

Make it… geronimo!

Bleeding Cool has squirrelled out news of an upcoming crossover that might send certain minds reeling. That in May, IDW are to publish a Doctor Who/Star Trek: The Next Generation crossover series. Featuring The Doctor, Rory, Amy, Captain Picard, Worf, Data, Geordi LaForge, Deanna Troi, Will Riker and the rest. And that this art, featuring the Doctor, Rory and Amy on the bridge of the Enterprise is a cover that will be used in the series.

Doctor Who has never engaged in any such officially sanctioned crossover outside of the Doctor Who universe before. The closest was Dimensions In Time, a much derided charity telethon show which featured characters from the BBC soap opera Eastenders. Then there was Death’s Head who kinda popped in and out. Star Trek has also seen comic book crossovers with X-Men and the Legion Of Superheroes. But this is the first time that two such major competing TV sci-fi franchises have been allowed to merge in any way before.

Source: Bleedingcool.com

Maybe there is hope for an official Star Trek & Star Wars crossover?

– Suramya

February 9, 2012

Biocomputer can retrieve images from DNA storage

Filed under: Interesting Sites,My Thoughts,News/Articles,Techie Stuff — Suramya @ 4:06 PM

Practical bio computers took a step closer to reality thanks to work by Sivan Shoshani1, Dr. Ron Piran1, Prof. Yoav Arava2& Prof. Ehud Keinan. They have managed to create a Biomolecular computer that is capable of decoding images stored in DNA. Biocomputers are something that I find really interesting and I try to keep an eye out for any new developments in the field. Even though this doesn’t sound like a big deal, its a huge step forward because till now we could only store a very limited amount of data in Biocomputers (stuff like a couple of 0’s & 1’s) but now that we can store an image we are closer to being able to store more complex data and the best part is that since this doesn’t require an interface it can work directly with organic flesh.

A biomolecular computer made in a test tube has proved capable of decoding images stored in DNA. The computer, built by scientists from The Scripps Research Institute and Technion–Israel Institute of Technology have created a mixture of DNA molecules, enzymes, and ATP (the substance that provides energy for our own cells) that successfully decrypts information from a DNA chip, in this case the images shown above. The images were first encrypted onto the chip, and then decrypted by the computer and stained in a way that displays only particular sequences. This means that several images can be overlapped on the same chip, then recovered separately by looking for separate genetic sequences.

The boffins have published their paper in Angewandte Chemie, a German journal of chemistry. Tried to read the paper but unfortunately its behind a pay wall and I am curious about the issue but not curious enough to pay for access.

Thanks to The Verge for the initial story.

– Suramya

February 7, 2012

Music for Programming?

Filed under: Interesting Sites — Suramya @ 3:41 PM

As some of you know, I love listening to music and am usually listening to music in the background when working/coding as the music serves to filter out the background noise and lets me focus. I got into the habit of doing this at work at my first company where I had a really loud co-worker who just wouldn’t stop talking. I usually put my playlist on shuffle and listen to all sorts of music when working (Kishore Kumar, Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, Boney M etc etc).

Apparently other folks do the same thing and think that listening to music while coding is good and helps you concentrate. Found this entire website called musicForProgramming(); which has hour long mix tapes intended for listening while programming to aid concentration and increase productivity. I tried the first tape for about 5 mins and then called it quits. Unfortunately the music annoyed me more than it helped me concentrate because it was just a bunch of strings, lutes etc and I prefer music with more rhythm & beats.

However plenty of other folks have recommended this site so you should check it out and see it helps you pretend to work more efficiently.

Regards,

Suramya

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