Suramya's Blog : Welcome to my crazy life…

March 31, 2021

French monks praying for buyers for 2.8 tonnes of cheese from their monastery

Filed under: Humor,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 11:59 PM

The Covid lockdown had a major impact on small/medium scale business worldwide though it was absolutely required. It still caused a lot of economic hardship for people and there is a French monastery located south of Dijon in Paris that has a major problem. Due to Covid they were unable to sell their cheese production to restaurants and visitors so they are stuck with over 2.8 tonnes of cheese that they need to sell immediately before it spoils.

“We tried explaining to our 75 cows that they needed to produce less milk but they don’t seem to have understood,” said brother Jean-Claude, in charge of marketing at the monastery, which was founded in 1098.

They are now working with Divine Box, a french startup to allow people to buy the cheese online. Unfortunately they don’t seem to ship internationally else I would have loved to place an order. Maybe during my next visit to France I will visit the monastery and purchase the cheese directly.

Source: French monks locked down with 2.8 tonnes of cheese pray for buyers

– Suramya

March 30, 2021

Let’s Honor people by putting them on Indian Currency notes

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 9:00 AM

I recently saw the news that UK is honoring Alan Turing, Pioneering Computer Scientist And Code-Breaker by putting his image on their new 50 pound note. It made me think that this is something a lot of nations do to honor people who were famous, or contributed in a major way to society or the country issuing the note. Here’s a brief overview of Interesting Famous People on Banknotes around the World. It is a great way to honor people and ensure people know more about them.

That made me think that it would be great if we did the same thing in India. As far as I know none of the currency notes in India have ever had an image of anyone other than Gandhi. I mean, yes he is the father of the nation and we should honor that, but I feel we should also honor some of the other famous people like our Freedom Fighters, Scientists, Artists etc. I would love to see a new note with the photo of Sardar Vallabhai Patel, Bhagat Singh, Sarojini Naidu or Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose on it. We have so many people who sacrificed their lives for the country, can’t we even put their photo on a note?

Others who should be considered are the world famous scientists like CV Raman, Homi Jehangir Bhabha or Srinivasa Ramanujan. These are Nobel prize winners who changed the world but are hardly known in India. We should also look at famous artists/actors/musicians/poets etc like Rabindranath Tagore etc. Definitely not proposing to put any politician’s photo on the notes because that is a can of worms we don’t need to open. Every political party in India will start screaming if their party’s candidates don’t have their photo on the notes 🙂

I know that stamps that were released to honor a lot of people, but nowadays not many people still send physical letters so the gesture is not as significant as what it used to be. I would still recommend releasing new notes with other people’s photos on them.

If you agree with this, please share on Social media, tag the PMO accounts and media outlets.

– Suramya

March 29, 2021

New Liquid created that can store Solar Energy for Almost Two Decades

Filed under: Emerging Tech,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 11:14 AM

Solar power is one of the cheapest sources of power currently available, however the biggest problem we have with is that it is only available during the day and requires us to store the power in a battery which is not the most efficient way to store energy. Now, after over a year of development a group of Swedish scientists have created a liquid called norbornadiene that allows us to store solar power more efficiently than anything currently possible.

The solar thermal collector named MOST (Molecular Solar Thermal Energy Storage System) works in a circular manner. A pump cycles the solar thermal fuel through transparent tubes. When sunlight makes contact with the fuel, the bonds between its atoms are rearranged and it transforms into an energy-rich isomer. The sun’s energy is then captured between the isomers’ strong chemical bonds.

Incredibly, the energy stays trapped there even when the molecule cools down to room temperature. To put the trapped energy to use, the liquid flows through a catalyst (also developed by the research team) creating a reaction that warms the liquid by 113 °F (63 °C). This returns the molecule to its original form, releasing energy in the form of heat.

“When we come to extract the energy and use it, we get a warmth increase which is greater than we dared hope for,” the leader of the research team, Kasper Moth-Poulsen, Professor at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering said in the press release.

The fuel is super efficient and can store up to 250 watt-hours per 1 kg of fluid, this is approximately twice the energy capacity of the Tesla’s Powerwall batteries, so you can see how big a breakthrough this is.

The project has been granted 4.3 million Euros from the EU and will last 3.5 years to develop prototypes of the technology for large-scale applications.

More details of the project are available at: Interestingengineering.com.

– Suramya

March 28, 2021

Louvre’s entire collection is now available online

Filed under: Interesting Sites — Suramya @ 12:24 AM

This is very cool, Louvre has made it’s entire collection of over 480,000 works available online for free. You can check it out here. It still doesn’t beat going there physically because that is a whole other experience, but it gives folks who can’t visit in person a chance to view the collection in hi-res images.

It is great that more and more museums and collectors are making their archives available online for free.

– Suramya

March 27, 2021

Outrun: Run a local command on a remote server

Filed under: Computer Software,Interesting Sites,Linux/Unix Related — Suramya @ 9:49 AM

A lot of times we have to run a command that requires a lot of processing power and is extremely slow on your local computer. I have faced this issue in the past and at times wished there was a way to push these commands to a remote machine with a more powerful CPU to run the command. Now, thanks to the efforts of Alexander Overvoorde (Overv), Jakub Wilk and Xiretza this is now possible. They have created a tool called Outrun which lets you execute a local command using the processing power of another Linux machine without having to install the command on the remote machine.


Sample Execution of ffmpeg on a remote server

The software does have a few limitations, but on the whole it is very cool:

  • We need to have root access on the remote server (or sudo access) as the system needs to run chroot on the remote server
  • Both client and remote server need to be on the same architecture, so you can’t set up a session from an x86 machine to an ARM machine. Which is unfortunate because the first usecase I had for this tool was to run software from the RaspberryPI on my server as and when it needed more processing power.
  • File system performance remains a bottleneck

Check it out if you need to run commands with more CPU cycles than what is available on the local machine.

Thanks to Hacker News for the initial link.

– Suramya

March 26, 2021

Thoughts on my Blogging frequency and why it is low.

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 9:30 AM

Earlier today, I was just lazing around and started thinking about why I am finding it harder to write blog posts or rather why I have not been blogging more frequently over the past few years. Part of it has been due to the workload and time that I need to spend on personal stuff, but I feel that the main issue is due to my use of Twitter. Let me explain why I think that is the case.

If you see some of my earlier posts they are about a site I found or a news item that I saw and wanted to share my thoughts about. Other posts were more detailed but are not what I am concerned about here. When I would find something interesting I would put it in my drafts folder on the Blog and later add a few lines/paragraphs about it before posting it. However, now when I see something interesting I post about it on Twitter most of the times with a few lines. That gets it out there with my immediate thoughts about the topic so there is little incentive for me to write a more detailed blog post about it. Obviously there are exceptions but a lot of the time I see myself doing this. For example, There was an article about Documenting a possible pre-Christian burial site as it is literally about to disappear under lava. It was very interesting and I posted about it on Twitter. So I didn’t have it in my list of articles to talk about when planing my next Blog post.

There is no solution for this, I feel that I just need to consciously decide if a tweet could be better as a blog post and if so save it as a draft on WordPress instead of tweeting about it.

March 25, 2021

Fools deleting company data after being fired and how to protect against this threat

Filed under: Computer Security,My Thoughts,Techie Stuff — Suramya @ 4:34 PM

Over the past few years I have seen multiple news articles and stories about idiots who were unhappy with their job or were fired and decided to take revenge by deleting data, accounts or destroying company property. The common factor in all the stories was the fact that the person was subsequently arrested and jailed. The most recent story I saw was this one, where a genius decided to delete 1200 Microsoft Office accounts after being fired and ended up in jail for his troubles.

Destroying company property when you leave is a good way to ensure you are never hired again by any company. I mean if I was interviewing a candidate and I found out that the candidate had deleted critical data when they left the company I would probably never hire them. End of the day if you have demonstrated that you are not mature enough to deal with a loss but rather delete data/information then you are not a fit to work in my team. I know a lot of people will come and say that people should be given a second chance and what not but this is a serious issue. There would be a major lack of trust in play here and with that the person’s efficiency would be horrible and multiple other folks would have to keep monitoring what this person was doing on the servers which is an overhead I wouldn’t need.

So, now looking at this from the company’s side. How do you prevent something like this from happening? The basic step is to ensure that the access rights of the person are terminated as soon as they are let go. Secondly, they should not be allowed to access their system after they are fired. In one of my previous companies, the physical security team would escort a person off-premises without allowing them to log on to their computer or anything. By the time the person was off premises their accounts were already de-activated. They should also be removed from any company related mailing lists, chat rooms, telephone trees etc immediately. Any commonly known account passwords should be changed immediately and if the person had admin access a check should be made for any unauthorized accounts with admin access and for any backdoor’s being installed.

In the case of a threat where the person hasn’t been fired yet you need to have systems in place to perform regular audits of all admin/root activity. There are a lot of other steps that can be taken and out of scope for this blog post. SANS has a great paper on Protecting Against Insider Attacks and RSA has a list of best practices that you can check out as well.

If you need help securing your network/system please reach out and we can discuss in more detail.

– Suramya

March 24, 2021

Doctor Who: 17 years since the show was revived. Some thoughts around it.

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 3:46 PM

As per BBC, 17 years ago the greatest show ever was resurrected when Christopher Eccleston was announced as the Ninth Doctor in Doctor Who’s return to the TV screens. I am a big fan of the show and I remember being super excited when the first episode ‘Rose’ was leaked on the web and then watching the full season. It was disappointing when they regenerated to the 10th Doctor but then again Matt Smith was brilliant in the role so there’s that. This was the first time I watched Dr Who as the older Doctor Who episodes were not available widely. I had however, read every single Target adaptation multiple times along with most of the other novelizations.

I recently did a re-watch of the entire series starting with the 9th Doctor as I was feeling nostalgic and I got all the way up to the 11th Doctor’s second season before stopping. I loved the 9th & 10th Doctor but didn’t really like the 11th (Matt Smith) & 12th (Peter Capaldi) at all. Matt was too hyper and Peter was too dour and grumpy all the time for my liking. Though they did have some great companions: Clara Oswald, Amy Pond and Rory Williams and some of the stories were nice. I didn’t like River Song much though, her character was a bit annoying at first and then they made it too meta and confusing.

After I got tired of the 11th Doctor, I stopped the re-watch but then saw a clip about Sarah Jane’s Smith’s introduction to the show. That made me realize that I had never watched all the episodes of the first three doctors. So I started watching the show from the 1st doctor onwards. Though, to be honest I didn’t like the 1st Doctor much as he was too arrogant and rude. Couldn’t watch the 2nd Doctor because most of his episodes were lost when BBC decided to discard/overwrite the tapes with the episode’s. (Thankfully a majority of episodes starting with the 3rd Doctor onwards survived.) So for the past few months I have been watching the 3rd Doctor’s episodes and I really like them. I mean the special effects and the costumes are hilariously bad but the stories are fun to watch.

I still like the 4th Doctor the best from the original series and the 10th from the new one. Overall I would rank them as follows: 10th Doctor (David Tennant), 4th Doctor (Tom Baker), 13th Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), 9th Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) and the 3rd Doctor (Jon Pertwee). The others are ok, but not my favorites. I know a lot of folks don’t like the 13th Doctor because it is played by Jodie but the stories in her arc have been some of the most interesting ones since the 10th Doctor and their acting has been superb. For a lot of the 12th Doctor stories I fast forwarded through them but the stories from the 13th Doctor were so interesting I hardly had to forward through any of them.

Waiting for the next season of the show to be released but till then I have a lot of old Who episodes to finish watching.

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

– Suramya

March 20, 2021

Watched Justice League Zack Snyder’s cut

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 11:33 PM

The Justice League Snyder’s cut came out earlier this week, I was initially on the fence about watching the movie as I had really disliked the original Justice League, but then the reviews came out and I saw that most people really liked the movie, so I decided to give the movie a shot. When I started watching I wasn’t aware that the new movie was over 4 hours long which is ridiculously long for a movie, even Hindi movies are shorter and usually max out at 3 hours long.

However, in this case the 4 hours was worth it and I loved the movie. It felt more like an extended mini-series than a movie, especially with the chapters in the movie. The new movie made a lot more sense watching it and the scenes flowed into each other rather than stand alone shots that were stuck together for some reason. Each of the characters was given a proper storyline in this version and that made a whole lot of difference in how the movie played out. I still don’t like the Flash in the movies as opposed to the TV series but he was less annoying this time around than the previous version.


Zack Snyder’s Justice League

There are a lot of changes, cut scenes, new scenes in this version and you can check out The 45 biggest differences between ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ and the 2017 theatrical version, if you are interested (There are spoilers here. Obviously. )

The one downside of the 4 hour movie was that I couldn’t see the full movie in one sitting. I mean I could have, but I needed to study for my exams so that forced me to take breaks. That also contributed in making the movie seem like an mini-series rather than a feature film.

The epilogue of the movie was a bit confusing, but I feel that might have been setting up the stage for future movies. Let’s see… After this release I can honestly say that I am looking forward to the next iteration in this universe which wasn’t the case so far. I mean Aquaman and the Wonder Woman movies were good, but then we had Wonder Woman 1984 which was pretty bad. So I wasn’t that excited about the next movie in the series, but that has changed a bit after this movie.

– Suramya

March 19, 2021

Growing mouse embryos In a Mechanical Womb

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 7:00 AM

Scientists from Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel,have achieved a major milestone in the research on pregnancy and how it works. For the first time, they were able to take fertilized eggs from the oviducts of female mice just after fertilization (Day 0 of development) and had grown them in the artificial uterus for 11 days. The gestation period of mice is 20 days so in human terms it would be about 5 months of pregnancy.

The mouse embryos looked perfectly normal. All their organs were developing as expected, along with their limbs and circulatory and nervous systems. Their tiny hearts were beating at a normal 170 beats per minute.

The major problem the scientists are now facing is how to get enough nutrients to the embryo so that they can survive post the 11 day mark. As by then the embryo has a placenta and a yolk sack, but the nutrient solution that fed them through diffusion is no longer sufficient without a blood supply.

This is a really cool break through, and once the problem of getting nutrients post 11 days is solved we can expect similar experiments with mammal and then human embryo’s. The medical advantages of this technique are vast, it will allow doctors to monitor the fetus for abnormalities and correct them if required. Another advantage would be to allow couples to have a child without having to bear the child naturally which would enable folks with busy lives or those who work in dangerous environments (think armed forces) to have kids without going through a surrogate mother. Transgender couples or same-sex couples will also benefit from this technology as they would be able to have a child which wasn’t physically possible for them before.

Finally, coming to the Sci-Fi angle.. we have long talked about spaceships and it is a common trope that frozen embryo’s are sent into space to populate a distant planet with a limited no of adults to pilot the ship. Having a human gestate all the embryo’s would not be feasible but a mechanical womb would solve this problem and give us a way to travel to the stars. A few days ago I was reading about this push to have a vault established on the moon with frozen sperm and eggs to be used in case of a global catastrophe to repopulate the planet. Till now it would not work without human wombs but if we can get the mechanical womb to work with a reasonable success rate then having a seed vault on the moon suddenly becomes feasible.

Obviously, there is a lot more work required before we are at a stage where humans are born from a mechanical womb but this is an important step in that journey.

Check out the paper published in Nature for more technical details on the achievement.

Thanks to Slashdot.org: Scientists Grow Mouse Embryos In a Mechanical Womb for the initial story.

– Suramya

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