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August 19, 2015

University Computer courses available online for free

Filed under: Interesting Sites — Suramya @ 12:27 AM

Thanks to the whole push on elearning, there is a whole trove of courses made available online for free by various universities like UCLA, Stanford etc. Unfortunately till now there was no consolidated list of these courses available so you would have to search through each of the university’s website to find a course that you liked which you can imagine was quite painful and manual. Fortunately those days are over now thanks to the effort of someone called ‘prakhar1989’ who has compiled a list of ‘Awesome Courses’ available online for free and posted it online on Github so that folks can maintain it easily.

There is a lot of hidden treasure lying within university pages scattered across the internet. This list is an attempt to bring to light those awesome courses which make their high-quality material i.e. assignments, lectures, notes, readings & examinations available online for free.

Some of the Courses from the list are:

  • CS 61C Great Ideas in Computer Architecture (Machine Structures) by UC Berkeley
  • CS 140 Operating Systems by Stanford University
  • CS 162 Operating Systems and Systems Programming by UC Berkeley
  • CS 425 Distributed Systems by Univ of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • CS 2043 Unix Tools & Scripting by Cornell University
  • CS 5412 Cloud Computing by Cornell University
  • CIS 194 Introduction to Haskell by Penn Engineering
  • CS 421 Programming Languages and Compilers by Univ of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • CS 5114 Network Programming Languages by Cornell University
  • CS 61B Data Structures by UC Berkeley
  • CS 97SI Introduction to Competitive Programming by by
  • 6.851 Advanced Data Structures by MIT

The list goes on and on. Some of the courses are quite interesting. I did go through the first lecture on Introduction to Haskel and for the first time the language actually made some sense to me. Unfortunately doing the course requires time and effort and at this time by the time I get home I am in no mood to study. Hopefully this will change of the next few weeks as things settle down.

Check out the site if you want to do some learning on your own time and pace.

– Suramya

August 13, 2015

Online Tools help share details of NASA’s Journey to Mars with us mere mortals

Filed under: Interesting Sites — Suramya @ 12:30 AM

This month marks the three year anniversary of Curiosity rover’s arrival on Mars and what better birthday present can NASA give to the rover than releasing two new online tools that allow casual users to explore Mars from the comfort of their homes.

First off we have Mars Trek, which is a web-based application providing high quality visualizations of Mars using data collected by NASA during the past 50 years of exploration. The second offering is called Experience Curiosity that allows viewers to journey along the Curiosity rover on its Martian expeditions. It simulates a 3-D version on Mars based on data from the rover and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

These are not the only tools that NASA has made available. A few months ago they also opened up a whole bunch of data to the public using free API access points so that people can consume the data and come up with innovative uses for the datasets. Their About Me section pretty much sums up what they are expecting to achieve with this site so I am just going to quote it instead of trying to think of sometime impressive to say:

We have a new Open Innovation team to continue NASA’s efforts to meet the White House mandate to set our data free – in a format that is useful for you. In doing so, we hope to spark your creative juices and equip you with tools to innovate your world – whether local, global, or interstellar – leveraging our digital assets. We may not be able to offer you the ride-of-your-life on a spaceship (at least for now), but we can certainly work together to solve looming challenges here on Earth – using NASA data, tools, and resources.

If you think you have an interesting application for the data then check out NASA’s data portal and the list of API’s they have made available.

Source: New Online Exploring Tools Bring NASA’s Journey to Mars to New Generation

August 7, 2015

Books For Non-Physicists Who Want To Understand Quantum Physics

Filed under: Interesting Sites — Suramya @ 1:37 AM

If you have ever wanted to understand Quantum Physics but found that all the physics gobbledy gook went over your head then you should check out this list of books by Chad Orzel that try to explain Quantum Physics to non-physicists.

Chad has also written a book on how to How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog (Not sure why you would want to do that, but hey… who am I to judge). The title is interesting enough that I am tempted to buy it to check it out.

Example entry from the list:

How the Hippies Saved Physics by David Kaiser is, as the title promises, a highly readable look at the role counterculture and “New Age” thinking played in sparking the renewed interest in quantum foundations that started in the 1980′s and has exploded into the modern field of quantum information. While none of their colorful attempts to explain ESP through quantum phenomena actually pan out, showing why they can’t work proved surprisingly fruitful.

Check it out if you have some free time and want to learn.

– Suramya

June 16, 2015

Watch an 8-Bit recreation of Jurassic Park

Filed under: Interesting Sites — Suramya @ 10:30 AM

If you don’t remember the original Jurassic Park movie (or weren’t around when it was originally released) and want a refresher of the movie before you watch Jurassic World then you don’t have to watch the entire movie again (although you should do that anyway because the movie is awesome), you can get the highlights by watching this 8-Bit recreation of Jurassic Park:


Click to watch 8 Bit Jurassic Park on YouTube

Thanks to NerdApproved.com for the link.

– Suramya

May 17, 2015

Penn Libraries Launches Digital Resources Online Platform

Filed under: Interesting Sites — Suramya @ 11:04 AM

In an effort to make information more freely available and answer the growing demand for open data Penn Libraries have made some of their cultural heritage materials available for free downloads as high-resolution images along with machine-readable descriptive and technical metadata about the images via their OPenn digital resources website. Looking at the site I see that they are not kidding about the images being high-resolution, I downloaded one of them just to see how it looked and it was a 3400×4444 image file 45MB in size.

From their press release:

Images from items such as a 16th-century Portolan Atlas and a unique book of Ciphers made for Pope Calixtus III in the 15th century are available on OPenn.

More datasets, including manuscripts from Penn’s own holdings and items from other institutions, will be added in the near future. Historic diaries from a variety of Institutions belonging to the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries are next in line for inclusion on OPenn. Many of these documents are unknown while others are celebrated, such as the Union League of Philadelphia’s Tanner manuscript, a unique firsthand account of the events surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

”Allowing all those who wish to use data from the site to do so, in whatever way they desire and without requiring them to ask for permission, creates boundless possibility and an exciting unpredictability surrounding the outcomes,” said Will Noel, director of Penn Libraries’ Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

It’s good to see more and more libraries making their works available online for free. It can only help with spreading the knowledge.

– Suramya

April 26, 2015

How to create Electric Ink for projects

Filed under: Interesting Sites,Knowledgebase,Techie Stuff — Suramya @ 9:48 AM

At times using wires in a project might not be the most practical option because of space/weight limitations. If that is the case then you should take a look at Electric Ink for creating cheap circuits. In fact you can make your own Electric Ink using a process which is quite simple. The good folks at the Popular Science site have provided us with an instruction guide that I am reproducing here so that I don’t loose the instructions in case PopSci decides to reorg their site:

Materials:

  • Powdered graphite
  • White vinegar
  • Syringe
  • Elmer’s clear glue (I think any clear glue should work)

Instructions

  • To make the ink, put powdered graphite in a cup, cover with vinegar, and stir. Let it sit for a few minutes.
  • Once the graphite settles on the bottom of the cup, remove the clear liquid on top with a syringe.
  • Stir in about a teaspoon of glue to keep the graphite suspended. A thick line of paint has a resistance of a few kilohms per inch.
  • Draw the circuit, wait for it to dry and then you can test it out.

I was wondering if this would work on T-Shirts, under a laminate or other such protective coating to prevent the circuit from getting washed out. Maybe I should try this out over the weekend on one of my old T-Shirts. Wonder what kinds of design’s I would be able to make before hitting issues if this works.

– Suramya

April 17, 2015

How to find information when Google can’t find it

Filed under: Computer Tips,Interesting Sites,Knowledgebase,Techie Stuff — Suramya @ 10:36 PM

For most people if you can’t find something on Google then it’s not there on the internet. However that is not true and there are other ways to find the information you are looking for even if Google can’t find it. Now some of you might be wondering, how can something be online without Google knowing about it because don’t they index everything? Unfortunately, that is not true. According to studies there are a lot of sites out there that are not indexed by any search engine. This part of the internet is called the Deep Web. Deep web is not to be confused with Dark Net which contains sites that can’t be reached via the regular internet. Deep Web sites are accessible via the regular internet and it is a lot bigger than the visible internet. In-fact some estimates suggest that the deep web is 400 to 550 times larger than the surface web.

So how do you find something that is in the Deep web or just not indexed by Google? Well, you can always try one of the following options depending on what you are looking for.

Wolfram Alpha

For example, if you are making factual queries about data (e.g. facts, figures, etc) then you should take a look at Wolfram Alpha. Their Wikipedia page explains how the engine works:

Users submit queries and computation requests via a text field. Wolfram Alpha then computes answers and relevant visualizations from a knowledge base of curated, structured data that come from other sites. The curated data makes Alpha different from semantic search engines, which index a large number of answers and then try to match the question to one.

Using the Mathematica toolkit, Wolfram Alpha can respond to natural language questions and generate a human-readable answer.

Topsy

Topsy maintains a comprehensive index of tweets and since Twitter is the best place for real-time sharing of thoughts/news then it is a good place to search for current events/trending topics. I just tried it out and it looks to be pretty effective and efficient.

Image Search

If you are trying to identify an image, or find more information about a particular Image then you can always try Google image search. However if that doesn’t return any relevant results then you should try out specialized Image search engines like Tin Eye or yandex.ru. I use a Firefox Extension called Who Stole my Pictures that lets you search across multiple engines in one shot from your context menu. Side note: This also search on Bing but 99.99% of the time Bing doesn’t return any results no matter what you search for.

On the other hand if you are just searching for images you should try PicSearch.com which is a image search service allowing a user to search across over 3 billion pictures (as per the site).

WebForums and Discussion boards

Another great way to find answers is to search on enthusiast forums and discussion boards. These forums have a whole community of folks who are passionate about that particular topic and would love you to point you in the right direction or walk you through figuring out the solution. Just ensure that you are asking Questions The Smart Way.

BoardReader.com allows you to search across multiple discussion boards and forums available on the net. StackExchange.com has multiple sub sections on hundreds of topics, Reditt.com has subreddits that focus on thousands of topics and most of them have actual relevant information as not all of the site is dedicated to cat video’s.

IRC

IRC stands for Internet Relay Chat and is designed to facilitate group communication in discussion forums, called channels hosted on IRC servers. There are channels dedicated to pretty much any topic you can think of on some IRC server somewhere and you can get answers to questions or help with a problem in real time.

The difficult part is finding the appropriate channel to ask your question.

I have used IRC Search in the past to find channels with a good success rate. Another option is ixirc.com/.

In addition to the options listed above, you should also check out the following resources for additional information and search options/methods that you can try out when searching for data:

That pretty much covers what I wanted to talk about in this post so this is all for now. Will post more later.

– Suramya

April 16, 2015

Pretty cool time waster

Filed under: Interesting Sites — Suramya @ 9:39 AM

If you are tired of working or just need a break then you should try playing Escapa!. It is a very simple game that requires coordination and patience. Try it out and don’t blame me if you end up wasting a whole lot of time at the site.

– Suramya

April 15, 2015

Please defend Internet Freedom in India

Filed under: Computer Related,Interesting Sites,My Thoughts,Techie Stuff — Suramya @ 1:34 AM

Not content with watching the US and certain other countries screw around with net neutrality the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has decided to pitch in and make a mess of things (again) in India. These are the same brilliant folks who decided in 2007 that an entire IRC network (undernet.com) should be blocked in India because there are a few channels on it that promoted piracy. It took a few years for the stupid ban to get lifted. Even now a bunch of URL’s are blocked but for the most part things are ok.

Unfortunately that is not going to be the case for long if the telecom lobbyist’s have their way. They want to break up the internet access to Paid and free access with the Telecom’s deciding what content should be available to a user. If a site doesn’t pay then they would either get blocked or get put on a ‘slow-lane’ where traffic to the site is artificially slowed down to give more bandwidth to paying sites. In short they want to take away net neutrality. So what exactly does net neutrality mean? In short it means:

  • All sites on the internet must be equally accessible (that means that no site’s traffic is given priority)
  • The same access speed at the telco/ISP level for each (So assuming all else is the same then all sites will be accessible at the same speed)
  • The same data cost for access to each site (per KB/MB). (No reducing of data cost to sites that pay Telecom’s money)

TRAI has released a consultation paper with 20 questions and wants you to send them an e-mail by 24th of April, 2015. Please visit Save the Internet to submit your responses to TRAI. It is as simple as going to the site, reviewing the email with the answers and then sending it out. Your 5 mins just might save the net in India.

More information on this issue is available at the following sites:

Once you have emailed your responses please help in spreading the word to others via Social Media/Email/Smoke Signals.

– Suramya

January 7, 2015

Over 2,400 classic DOS games now playable in your web browser for free

Filed under: Computer Software,Interesting Sites — Suramya @ 11:28 PM

Last year the Internet arcade released over 900 classic arcade games playable in a browser to the public. Not satisfied with that accomplishment they topped it by releasing the over 2400 classic DOS games to the public and as before they are all playable in your web browser. The list of games include classics like Prince of Persia, The Oregon Trail, Castle Wolfenstein and many many more. This collection sure brings back a lot of memories for me.

If you’re a PC gamer of a certain age (cough), you’ve probably lamented that many of the titles you played as a kid are hard to use on modern systems without downloading emulators or waiting for special re-releases. Well, it just got a lot easier to relive your gaming glory days. The Internet Archive’s growing collection of web-based retro games now includes roughly 2,400 MS-DOS classics

I think I am going to be spending some time ensuring that the games function correctly in a browser. Purely for verification of the work done here of-course :)

– Suramya

Source: engadget.com

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