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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

November 24, 2014

Answering scientific questions in plain language with ‘Ask Smithsonian’ video’s

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

Have you ever wondered if lightning can strike twice or if Stress can Turn Your Hair Gray? A lot of us have questions that usually require a whole bunch of scientific language to answer and while that works for adults it is usually not the most useful thing when trying to explain things to a kid. Keeping that thought in mind the Smithsonian has created short videos (about a min in length) that answer such questions in plain English. Check them out at the Ask Smithsonian video archive.

The best part is that you can also submit your questions to the site and if selected a video with the answer would be uploaded to the site. Some of the questions that are currently answered on the site are:

Ask Smithsonian: Does Chicken Soup Really Help With a Cold?
Ask Smithsonian: How Do Noise-Canceling Headphones Work?
Ask Smithsonian: Why Don’t People Smile in Old Photographs?

Thanks to lifehacker.com for this great link.

– Suramya

November 23, 2014

Presenting hack.summit a virtual dev conference Dec 1st – 4th

Filed under: Interesting Sites,Techie Stuff — Suramya @ 11:55 PM

Developer conferences are a great way to meet developers and learn about the latest and greatest technologies and programming skills etc. However most of them happen in places where they are not accessible to a majority of the people in the world, primarily because of cost and time taken to travel there which is quite unfortunate. I know there have been multiple conferences that I wanted to attend but couldn’t because they were in the US or Europe while I was in India.

To fix that problem the nice folks at hack.hands() have created a free, live, online event from Dec 1 – Dec 4th where top speakers from their fields will be available to answer questions and have their brains picked. You can register for the event for free by visiting their website.

The hack.summit() conference is a live, global event put on by the fine folks behind real-time programming assistance service hack.hands(). From December 1 to December 4, a wide range of speakers will present and answer democratically popularized questions over Crowdcast via Google+ Hangouts. Speakers in attendance include wiki inventor and Design Patterns pioneer [Ward Cunningham], Codeacademy founder [Ryan Bubinski], Google Glass creator [Tom Chi], Python Software Foundation’s [Alex Gaynor], and even the inimitable [Jon Skeet].

The goals for this conference are simple and admirable: to educate developers of all stripes about best practices, to encourage mentorship in the programming community, and to spread the joy of coding by supporting coding non-profits.

Thanks to hackaday.com for the story.

– Suramya

November 17, 2014

Microsoft launches free Visual Studio Community 2013

Microsoft is on a roll recently and is becoming more and more active in the open source community by releasing many of it’s core tools and programs as open source, making them free and cross platform. Earlier this week news came out that MS had released a significant portion of their .NET framework under a permissive opensource license on Github. Before everyone had even finished digesting this news MS posted news that it is releasing Visual Studio Community 2013 as a free download for individual and small business use (teams of up to five people).

This is a brilliant move on their part to keep their market share. One of the major issues people had when developing software for Windows using Visual studio was the cost associated with the licenses. When I was in school and wanted to get a licensed copy of Visual Studio for my use I was told to go buy a pirated copy because the original cost was way too high (Rs 60,000 if you want to know). Keep in might that this is before the Dot com and Tech boom so that amounted to a couple of months of salary for most folks. As you can imagine most people went for the pirated version instead which costed Rs 100 or so. Now fast forward a few years to when open-source started taking off, now the development environment could be downloaded off the internet legally for free. A lot of folks including me switched to open source development tools. The only people still using MS Studio were either using their work/university licenses or were on pirated copies.

Now with .NET opensourced and available for use on Linux, Mac and windows, making a free version of Visual Studio available makes it easier for people to start working on and building software in the MS ecosystem.

I know of a few people who will find this news exciting. For the rest of us, this doesn’t impact us directly but definitely shows which way the wind is blowing in the software world and highlights the fact that FOSS is here to stay. :)

Official Announcement: Microsoft Blog
Via Betanews.com

– Suramya

PS: I know that Visual Studio express has been around for a while but it was a severely limited version as opposed to the Community version just released.

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