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March 25, 2014

Was a Keynote speaker at IndiaCom 2014: IEEE International Conference on Computing For Sustainable Global Development

Filed under: My Life — Suramya @ 1:25 AM

Early this month (Mar 7th) I was asked to give the keynote talk at INDIACom: 2014 IEEE International Conference on “Computing For Sustainable Global Development”. I gave my talk on Cloud Computing since it has been in the news a lot recently and there is a lot of interest in it from the general public. It was a pretty amazing experience and I had a lot of fun at the conference as I got to meet some pretty interesting folks with whom I discussed various things/technologies.

As the conference was in Delhi I had to fly there from Bangalore for the weekend and since I also wanted to avoid taking too many days off from work we decided to take a late flight to Delhi on Thursday night. Unfortunately though, our flight got delayed by an hour so instead of landing at 11:30am as expected we got there at 12:30am and by the time we got home it was almost 1:30am. Once home I did a bit more prep for the talk and crashed. Then I had to wake up early the next day to get ready so I could be there on time but thanks to traffic we got delayed and got there just about in time for the talk.

The funny part was that I was introduced as ‘Prof’ Suramya Tomar initially but thankfully they corrected it later. The talk went well and most of the questions I got during the talk were about how private the cloud is and how safe the data that is stored on the cloud is compared to traditional storage.

After the talk I sat through a few of the technical papers that were being presented and they were all pretty interesting. I did get a physical copy of the conference proceedings (a book about 1 1/2 inches thick) with all the papers that were presented that I am planning to read one of these days when I get some time.

One of the interesting things I noticed during the sessions was that about 60-70% of all the papers were authored/co-authored by women which is something that was very surprising to me as normally during such conferences the ratio is the other way round.

I am planning on transcribing my talk (I have my notes and the outline I created, plus a video of the talk) and posting it on the site sometime later this month/early next month. I will also expand on the talk with a few articles I am planning to write so keep an eye out for new items on the site (will announce it on the blog when I post stuff) in the near future.

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

- Suramya

April 19, 2013

Random Thoughts

Filed under: My Life — Suramya @ 1:50 AM

Just some random thoughts for todays post. Yesterday (well technically the day before) I lived through the third earthquake of my life. It was an interesting experience, I initially thought someone was shaking my bed (or rather kicking it) then saw the ceiling fan shaking and realized it was either an earthquake or a rally fat person jumping up and down on the roof.

Spent about 30 mins yesterday trying to figure out why my latest blog post didn’t show up on Facebook and then realized that this was because the FB sync script runs on my home computer and the desktop was shutdown since I was traveling. Felt kind of silly when I realized that.

Found some old sourcecode that I have been looking for a while on a CD that I had burnt in 2001, unfortunately I still seem to be missing one header file, but there are signs that we might have removed the header file altogether from the software, but the only way I can be sure is to compile all the separate files and see if the final product works. That requires a bit more effort and brainpower than I have willing to spend at this time. Maybe over one of these weekend I will try this, all I need is a lot of time and loud music to help me concentrate.

Noise canceling headsets are awesome and worth every penny spent. Just need to be aware that when I have them on I don’t hear anything including my phone ringing. So need to make sure I have the phone on the desk in front of me when I am using the headsets so I can see when a call comes in. Otherwise I seem to miss a lot of calls.

Well this is all for now. Have lots more random thoughts but need to get some sleep, or tomorrow will be bad.

- Suramya

November 24, 2012

My Trip to Lakshadweep

Filed under: My Life — Suramya @ 11:26 PM

Early this month we (Me, Vinit, Surabhi, Vir, Mom and Dad) went for a week long trip to Lakshadweep. It was a much required and anticipated trip (I have been wanting to go since 2010) especially after the crazy week I had dealing with Hurricane Sandy. We left on Thursday night by train from Bangalore to Cochi and from there we took a flight to Agati island. There were ~15 passengers in the flight, including the 6 of us and the 2 airhostesses. The runway on Agati is a narrow strip of land sticking out into the ocean and when landing you can see water on both sides of the runway. Below is a shot of the island I took during our approach; the entire island is about 7 kms long and 1.5 kms wide, and we were the only tourists on the island…

Arial Shot of Agati Island
Arial Shot of Agati Island

We were there for 7 days and spent all the time on the beach, including having our lunch delivered to the beach.


The beach where we spent most of our time

Well, except for the time we spent in the water scuba diving. Both me and Vinit got our diving certificates (I actually had to study for tests) but it was worth it. We did 4 openwater dives and 5 confined water dives in 7 days plus did a lot of snorkeling as well. During the dives we saw 2 sharks (one White tip and another whose name I can’t remember), couple of dolphins, a sea turtle (while diving, lost count of ones we saw from the boat and from the beach), crabs, tuna fishes, star fish, crabs, lobsters etc etc.

We did take a ton of photos (~1500) and I have posted a selection of the pics here. I was going to post them here as well but then decided to be lazy and just provide a link to the album here. Check it out.

I have been meaning to post this for a while now but life got busy. Ah well… It was an awesome trip and I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a great vacation spot.

- Suramya

October 22, 2012

Did something new. Had to use a Bookmark for my novel.

Filed under: My Life — Suramya @ 11:55 PM

As some of you know I read a lot, read quite fast and hate leaving books in the middle; which is why I normally finish a novel in one sitting and have rarely ever used a book mark for a novel. Most of the bookmarks I get with books usually end up being misplaced or stuck inside a book, never to be used. But not this time… Things have been a bit hectic for the past few weeks and because of that I actually got to use a bookmark for the purpose its supposed to and it felt weird. For the past few weeks I have been trying to finish a book (Finally finished it yesterday BTW) and by the time I got time to start reading it would be late at night and I would be so exhausted that could barely read a chapter before crashing for the night.

It took almost a two weeks to finish a book which would normally take me about 2-3 hours. Makes me miss the times when I used to get the time to read multiple books a day. :( Ah well, hopefully I will get a bit more free time to read in the future.

Now I think I need to go crash as I have an early morning tomorrow.

- Suramya

October 10, 2012

Tired but still alive

Filed under: My Life — Suramya @ 2:18 AM

So I haven’t posted here for a while. Not because I didn’t have anything to say but because I was too busy traveling and at work. In the past few months I have done:

Banglore -> Abu Dabi -> Jersey City/New York -> Fort Worth, Texas -> Dallas, Texas -> Austin, Texas -> San Antonio, Texas -> Dallas, Texas -> New York -> Washington DC -> New York -> Abu Dabi -> Bangalore -> New Delhi -> Bangalore.

This doesn’t include the short trips I made to various places in NJ while I was there. :) Have a lot of photos but need time to catch my breath now that I am back home and can stop living out of my suitcase.

Its late and I am tired plus I have an early morning meeting tomorrow so going to crash now. Will write more later.

- Suramya

August 5, 2012

Reinstall Status: 2 days later

Filed under: My Life — Suramya @ 11:59 PM

Most of the system is back to normal and is configured the way I like. However still having some problems with installing certain programs like Citrix. Basically it looks like the 32 bit version of the ia32-libs library is broken in Debian Unstable and they are expecting a fix any day now. However till its fixed it looks like I can’t install the Citrix client which is required for my work. Guess I will be using the Raspberry Pi to connect to office system till the fix is here.

Other than that, there is a slight issue with static when I skip ahead in a video, i.e. I get a lot of static on the soundtrack if I fastforward the currently playing music/video. Sounds like it could be a driver issue.

During this entire process I realized that running a 32 bit OS is a lot less work than a 64 bit OS esp if you are running on Debian unstable since in the unstable branch a lot of the 64 bit packages are broken at this time thanks to the above mentioned library.

I am debating if I should go back to the 32 bit version. Will decide in a couple of days after doing a bit more research on the topic. I might be getting a SSD in the near future so will have to reinstall any ways once that comes in and depending on my mood then I will choose 64bit or 32 bit. Not really eager to get an SSD when for a little bit more I can get a 2-3 TB drive but Krishna, Sid and Anil have done their level best to convince me of the advantages so thinking about it quite seriously.

Well this is all for now. Should go to sleep now since I have an early start tomorrow and today has been a long day. Will post more later.

- Suramya

July 9, 2012

Watched the Amazing Spider-man

Filed under: My Life — Suramya @ 12:37 AM

Watched the Amazing Spider-man this weekend after a week of trying. Verdict after watching the movie: ‘meh…’, The movie was decent, not great. Although this review could have been affected by the fact that the 3D in the theater we watched it in (Fame Lido) was screwed up completely. Not sure what the problem was but most of the 3d scenes were really off, not sure how to explain it but at times the foreground was overlapping with the background kind of like the two were merging together. Made me queasy after a while, the effect lasted about 2 hours after I had finished the movie.

I think I liked the first 2 spider-man movies better (the less said about the 3rd one the better). This one was a bit more gritty and they did try to show the conflicting emotions that spider-man always deals with in the comics, but once he puts on his mask he is a wisecracking fast talking character which was kind of missing in this movie. There were a couple of scenes where he wisecracks but not a lot. The character is a bit more true to the comic books but over all the experience wasn’t that great. It didn’t put me to sleep but neither was it a ‘wow!!’ movie.

Now the next movie I am waiting to watch is Batman. It should be a lot of fun, and I don’t think its in 3d which is good. Although I only have problems with 3D movies in Bangalore, I didn’t have any similar issues when I watched 3D movies in Delhi.

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

- Suramya

July 1, 2012

Had a fun weekend

Filed under: My Life,Techie Stuff — Suramya @ 11:08 PM

This weekend was fun, parents are in town so they came over. I originally wanted to go watch the new Spiderman movie but couldn’t do so because something came up, but other than that the weekend was great. Mom and dad spent most of the weekend here before Surabhi called them back. Having parents over is both a positive and negative thing. Positive in the sense that your house gets cleaned and stuff gets arranged/organized, the downside is that stuff gets arranged/organized. Simple example, for the past year the switches in my kitchen were wired in a certain way, 1st switch was for the exhaust fan and the second was for the lights. Now dad rewired them so that the 1st switch is for the light, now it makes perfect logical sense but for the past few days every single time I go to the kitchen I switch on the fan when I want to turn on the lights… and its annoying…

As some of you know I use a hard-drive platter as a coaster and over the past year the platter I was using got a lot of scratches and it seemed to be ready to be replaced. I had a 200GB drive that had died a while ago sitting in my drawer so after I made sure it didn’t have any important data (stuck in it the freezer and then was able to read the drive. Yes you read that correctly, sticking drives in the freezer actually helps recover data) I dismantled the drive. Surprisingly it was a pain to dismantle the drive, there were 6 screws in the spindle that took me almost 1/2 hour to unscrew because everytime I tried to unscrew the entire platter would rotate. Finally had to stick another screwdriver in there and got the platters out. Now I have a brand new coaster. :)

The drive had three platters so if anyone wants a coaster, let me know. BTW its also reflective enough to be used as a mirror.

Other than that I finished some work and upgraded the OS on the RaspberyPi. Initially I had installed the Debian Squeeze (Ver 6) standard install but today I upgraded to Debian wheezy public beta build. It installed without issues and I like the new build, it seems a bit snappier than the old install, also they have included a new configuration tool that comes up the first time the system boots up that allows you to configure various options using a menu based system (sort of like the Debian installer used to work). Haven’t really played with it yet, but looking forward to it. Maybe the stupid wifi card will work on the new build. If not I am going to go steal a powered USB hub from someone.

Going to connect the Pi to my TV and try playing a movie on it to see how it works… lets see… Hopefully it will play without issues. If not, then its an excuse to fiddle with it till it does work.

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

- Suramya

June 23, 2012

Experience so far with the RaspberryPi

Filed under: My Life,My Thoughts,Techie Stuff — Suramya @ 10:46 PM

In one word, the experience so far has been awesome! I recently got my hands on the RaspberryPi and as I mentioned earlier I will be blogging about my experience with it. I had to go buy a USB keyboard as I didn’t have any USB keyboard at home (yeah yeah, lot of people ask me about that… My old PS2 keyboards worked fine so didn’t even realize I didn’t have USB). I bought the mouse as well since I didn’t want to disconnect the mouse from my main system every time I booted into X on the Pi. I got the wired version of both because I wasn’t sure if the Pi could support wireless. It does support wireless stuff but it depends on how much power each device pulls and since I didn’t want to take a chance I went with wired.

Set it up, hooked it to my 2nd monitor and booted and it came up perfectly. Initially there was a problem with the display switching of for about 1/2 a sec at random intervals but that was easily fixed with a line added to the config file. Basically the problem was that the HDMI output wanted more power than the board was giving and since that is software controlled I was able to change it by adding the following line to /boot/config.txt

config_hdmi_boost=4

The other, I won’t call it an issue but distraction I had to fix was that when the system started up in full screen, there was an inch of black space around the display on all four sides. This also was easily fixed by adding the following line to the config file (more details on troubleshooting and available config options are available Here):

disable_overscan=1

I added the line, restarted and both the issues listed above disappeared. After that I played around a bit with the system and found that the average boot time is about 10-15 seconds to the login prompt. If I start the GUI interface it takes between 20-30 seconds for it to come up and be usable. Was able to browse the web and install software without any issues at all.

One interesting fact that I noticed was that the system didn’t appear to honor the rcX.d convention. I was trying to get ssh to start be default on the Pi when it booted up so I put an entry in the /etc/rc2.d directory called S25ssh which was a symbolic link to /etc/init.d/ssh and this should have started up SSH everytime the system booted up but for some reason that wasn’t the case. I tried fiddling with the number, made sure the file was executable etc but nothing seemed to work so I finally ended up adding the line in /etc/init.d/rc.local and then it worked fine. Haven’t really debugged it but it felt like it wasn’t supported or something else was overriding the instructions.

Finally once everything else was working the way I wanted it to, I decided to try get my Wireless dongle working on the Pi. Unfortunately I could only get it to work partially. The system detected the dongle without issues but gave the following error as the firmware for the dongle wasn’t installed:

zd1211rw 1-1.2:1.0: couldn't load firmware. Error number -2
usb 1-1.2: Could not load firmware file zd1211/zd1211_ub. Error number -2

The fix for this was easy, all I had to do was run the following command to install the firmware:

apt-get install zd1211-firmware

Once the command finished, the card was activated and I was able to see the networks around me including my home wireless network. However for some reason it was unable to get a DHCP lease from the router no matter what I tried, I even tried setting a static IP but it still wouldn’t go out to the net. I think the problem might have been because the dongle was trying to pull more power from the USB than the board supported, but since I didn’t have a working powered USB hub I couldn’t test the theory. Wondering if I should go buy a powered USB hub… Haven’t decided yet but it might be required as the Pi only has two USB ports and already I have three devices that I want to connect (the number will go up as I find more and more uses for the board).

Well this is all for now. Will post more once I play with the board a bit more.

- Suramya

June 20, 2012

I am now a proud owner of a RaspberryPi

Filed under: Computer Hardware,My Life,Techie Stuff — Suramya @ 11:54 PM

After waiting for almost 6 months from when it launched, and a month after I placed the order I am now a proud owner of a RaspberryPi :) For those of you who are wondering what on earth I am talking about, its a computer the size of a phone (see pic below comparing it with my old Nokia N95) costing $35 that is powerful enough to play Quake3. Its amazing how small this thing is and the features they have managed to cram on to the box. It was delivered yesterday and I was a bit upset at the customs duty I had to pay on the device (paid about 50% of the cost of the device + the cost of shipping as duty) but it still turns out to be a lot cheaper than any other contender.

I was really excited to work on it but when I got home and started to set it up I found that my SD card reader/writer was no longer functioning :( so after a few hours of trying and turning the house upside-down for the other card reader that I know I have and just couldn’t find, I finally gave up and messaged Krishna at 12:30am asking him to bring a SD Card reader with him to the office (which he did, thanks!) the next day. Had to wait a day to get back home and once I got home with the reader I then downloaded the Debian image to my computer and wrote it to the card, powered the system with my old blackberry charger, plugged in an Ethernet cable and a HDMI cable (actually HDMI to DVI cable if you want to be picky) connecting the Pi to my second monitor. That’s when I hit a snag. Turns out that I don’t have a single USB keyboard at home, all my keyboards are PS/2. :( So now I either need to borrow a USB keyboard or go buy a small one. In any case I powered the Pi up to see if it works ok and it powered up fine.

The first boot took about a min, but after that the system gets to the login prompt in about 15 secs, which is pretty cool. I can reduce the boot time further by disabling services that I know I won’t use (like NFS etc). Unfortunately SSH wasn’t enabled on the box, so without a keyboard and no remote connection I couldn’t really do anything more at this time, but I am full of idea’s for this device.

Below are some pics of the Pi in action:


Comparison shot of the RaspberryPi next to a Nokia N95


The RaspberryPi hooked up and ready for action


Initial Boot Sequence of RaspberryPi

I wanted to take a comparison shot of the Pi next to my Galaxy Nexus but I was using the Nexus to take the photos (didn’t feel like pulling out the camera, take a pic, take out the card and then upload the pics as compared to; take the photo, FTP to computer).

Well this is all for now, am a bit sad, but still excited. Keep an eye here for more on the Pi and my experiments with it.

- Suramya

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