Suramya's Blog : Welcome to my crazy life…

May 30, 2021

You can now run GUI Linux Apps on Windows 10 natively

Filed under: Computer Software,Linux/Unix Related,Tech Related — Suramya @ 10:17 PM

With the latest update of Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), you can now run Linux GUI applications on Windows natively. This is pretty impressive considering Steve Ballmer famously branded Linux “a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches” back in 2001. In just 20 years, Microsoft has changed it’s stance and started adding more Linux functionality to it’s operating system.

Arguably, one of the biggest, and surely the most exciting update to the Windows 10 WSL, Microsoft has been working on WSLg for quite a while and in fact first demoed it at last year’s conference, before releasing the preview in April… Microsoft recommends running WSLg after enabling support for virtual GPU (vGPU) for WSL, in order to take advantage of 3D acceleration within the Linux apps…. WSLg also supports audio and microphone devices, which means the graphical Linux apps will also be able to record and play audio.

Keeping in line with its developer slant, Microsoft also announced that since WSLg can now help Linux apps leverage the graphics hardware on the Windows machine, the subsystem can be used to efficiently run Linux AI and ML workloads… If WSLg developers are to be believed, the update is expected to be generally available alongside the upcoming release of Windows.

The feature is still only available in Windows 10 Preview Builds but is expected to be released for general use in the near future.

I would love to see the reverse being developed. The ability to install and run Windows applications on Linux natively / officially. There is Wine/Crossover but they don’t support 100% of the applications yet. It would be cool if MicroSoft contributes to either of the tools to allow people to run windows software on Linux.

I personally use Crossover to run the Office Suite and it works great for me (For the most part). The latest version supports Office 365 and most of it works fine except for Excel which still has a bit of a problem with large files but works otherwise. Which is why I also have Office 2007 also installed where Excel works without issues even with large files.

Compatibility with MS Office suite is why a lot of users don’t want to switch from Windows to Linux or Mac. OpenOffice/LibreOffice is great but the UI sucks and the files are not 100% compatible (atleast the last time I tried it, it wasn’t) so the files might not look the same as you expected when you share them with Office users.

Source: Microsoft doubles down on Windows Subsystem for Linux

– Suramya

May 29, 2021

Post Vaccination Day 6 update

Filed under: My Life — Suramya @ 11:28 PM

I had my 1st Vaccine shot on Monday and it’s been 6 days (if you include Monday) with no side effects as of now. I did have a severe headache for the last 2 days but that could have been due to a sinusitis attack or could be a reaction to the shot. I don’t know for sure.

The other thing that both me and Jani saw was that we both kept feeling very sleepy for some reason. Which is why I slept for the majority of the past few days. I did wake up early (6am) but by 12 I would be extremely sleepy and doze off again. Which was fun. I haven’t done this (slept as much as I want everyday) in a while. The downside of that is that I broke my 14 day streak of posting daily on the blog. This is the longest I have blogged continuously in a very long time.

On the negative side, 😉 I still don’t have a better 5G connection and I still have to pay for my Microsoft license. 🙁 Maybe they will fix that in the next patch release (2nd dose).

Well this is all for now. I need to get back to my assignments now since I slept most of the week. Will write more later.

– Suramya

May 24, 2021

Human Upgrade 2.0: Patch 1/2 (Vaccine Dose 1) applied successfully

Filed under: My Life — Suramya @ 1:52 PM

Got my first dose of Covishield vaccine today which has finally connected me to 5G! and I do have a weird urge to install Windows on my computer…
I think once I get the second dose I will be able to connect wirelessly to 5G networks and type with my thoughts. But am scared that the chip implanted by Bill Gates will force me to use windows going forward.

– Suramya

PS: In case it is not clear, the above is sarcasm. There is no connection between the Covid vaccine and 5G or Bill Gates. If you think there is, please reexamine your life choices.

May 23, 2021

Rapid Prototyping by Printing circuits using an Inkjet Printer

Filed under: Computer Hardware,Emerging Tech,Tech Related — Suramya @ 10:50 PM

Printing circuits using commercial inkject printers is something that is becoming more and more convenient and affordable day by day. In their 2014 paper Instant inkjet circuits: lab-based inkjet printing to support rapid prototyping of UbiComp devices Prof. Kawahara and others showcased several applications from touch sensors to capacitive liquid level sensors. If you are interested in trying this out (I am sorely tempted), then checkout this Print Conductive Circuits With an Inkjet Printer post that walks you through how to modify your printer.

The Ink to print these circuits is available for purchase online at You need the following to start printing circuits:

  • A low-cost printer such as EPSON WF 2010
  • Printing substrates like PET and glossy paper
  • Oven or hot plate for sintering & drying the ink
  • Empty refillable cartridges

A good area for experimentation would be for wearable circuits on clothing and other such places. But there are a ton of other applications especially in the embedded electronics market.

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

Thanks to Hackernews: Rapid Prototyping with a $100 Inkjet Printer for the link.

– Suramya

May 22, 2021

The Programmer Move: Automating everything has a logic behind it

Filed under: Humor,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 11:48 PM

In the past few weeks I have seen this joke multiple times where they talk about programmers automating something in 10 days that could be done manually in 10 mins. It does seem funny and people love to think that programmers like doing things the hard way. At times this is true but not always. There is a reasoning behind why we spend 10 days automating a 10 min task. When people look at this they don’t consider the frequency of the task i.e. how many times we are doing that 10 min task. Most of the time you will find that the 10 min task was being done fairly frequently and wasting a lot of time.

Programmers move

When I evaluated candidates for automation in one of my previous companies we had a calculation we used to determine if a process was a candidate for automation. We looked at the time required to complete, complexity of the task (ease of automation), the frequency at which it was done (hourly/daily/weekly/yearly) and the resources freed if automated. Then we looked at how long it would take to automate the process. Looking at the two values we would take the call to automate or not depending on the return of investment from the automation. So, if we had something that was only 10 minutes but done daily then spending the 10 days to automate would probably make sense. On the other hand if the task was a one-off or done yearly then it wouldn’t be a candidate for automation.

Programmers love to automate things. I have automated most of the tasks that I do frequently for system maintainance etc. However not every task needs to be automated and assuming that programmers are doing it just for the heck of it is a disservice. But it is funny. Take a look at a Rube Goldberg machine if you want to see this taken to the extreme, where everything is automated in a manner as complicated as possible.

Rube Goldberg machine: Professor Butts and the Self-Operating Napkin

– Suramya

May 21, 2021

Magnetic Computers: A step closer with a new cheaper magnetostrictor alloy created

Filed under: Emerging Tech,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 11:44 PM

As of today computers work by setting bits (zeroes and ones) in silicon chips that require electricity to function. There is also work happening where folks are using Quantum particles to store and process data (in Quantum Computers), then we have optical computer which performs its computation using photons. Except for the first one the rest are still in early development stages. Now we have a new contender in play that uses tiny, changeable magnetic fields to form the zeroes and ones that make up the invisible bedrock of all computers.

A magnetic computer leverages the “spin wave”, a quantum property of electrons; in magnetic materials with a lattice structure. This involves modulating the wave properties to generate a measurable output. The advantage is that this uses very little energy and generates almost no heat. In order to generate this field efficiently we use alloy’s that act as a magnetostrictor. Historically the best magnetostrictor rely on using rare-earth materials which are expensive and mining them generates a lot of toxic waste.

Researchers at University of Michigan along with Intel have created a new alloy that acts as a magnetostrictor by mixing Iron with gallium which is a lot more easily available and is cheaper to mine.

The University of Michigan researchers are hardly the first to use gallium to make magnetostrictive materials, but their predecessors had run into a pesky limit.

“When you go above 20 percent gallium, the material is no longer stable,” says Heron. “The material changes symmetry, it changes crystal structure, and its properties change dramatically.” For one, the material becomes much less shape-shiftingly magnetostrictive.

To get around that limit, Heron and his colleagues had to stop the atoms from shifting their structure. So they crafted their alloy at a relatively chilly 320 degrees Farenheit (160 degrees Celsius)—thus limiting its atoms’ energy. This locked the atoms in place and prevented them from moving about, even as the researchers infused more gallium into the alloy.

Through this method, the researchers were able to make an iron alloy with as much as 30 percent gallium, creating a new material that’s twice as magnetostrictive as its rare-earth counterparts.

This new, more effective magnetostrictor could help scientists build not only a cheaper computer, but also one that doesn’t rely on rare-earth minerals whose mining generates excessive carbon.

This makes allows them to create a system that could compute 0’s and 1’s using magnetic fields in a cheaper and more efficient way than traditional computing. For basic operations, this new system would only need power to change the bit value on the system and once the value is set they don’t need power to keep the value. Unlike silicon which requires power constantly without which the values are lost.

The field is still in it’s early phases so we don’t expect to see devices using this technology for the next few decades. But the base is being built and the new systems will be here sooner rather than later.

The research has been published in Nature: Engineering new limits to magnetostriction through metastability in iron-gallium alloys
Thanks to PopSci: How shape-shifting magnets could help build a lower-emission computer for the initial link.

– Suramya

May 20, 2021

Thoughts on NVIDIA crippling cryptocurrency mining on some of its cards

Filed under: Computer Security,Computer Software,My Thoughts,Tech Related — Suramya @ 8:11 PM

You might have heard the news that NVIDIA has added code to it’s GPUs that make them less attractive for cryptocurrency mining by reducing the efficiency of such computations using a software patch. On one side this is great news because it means that GPUs will be less attractive for mining and be available for gamers and others to use in their setup. However, I feel that this is a bad precedent being set by a company. In effect they are deciding to control what you do with the card after you have bought it. A similar case would be a restriction in your car purchase to stop you from using it on non-highway roads. Or to stop you from carrying potatoes in the trunk.

This all comes back to the old story about DRM and how it is being used to restrict us from actually owning a device. With DRM you are essentially renting the device and if you do anything that the owner corporation doesn’t agree with then you are in for a fun time at the local jail. DRM/DMCA is already being used to block farmers from fixing their farm equipment, medical professionals from fixing their health equipment and a whole lot more.

Cory Doctorow has a fantastic writeup on how DRM works and the problems caused by it. DRM does not support innovation, it actually forces status-quo because it is illegal to bypass it.

I have an old X-Box sitting in my closet collecting dust, I want to run Linux on it but that requires me to break the law because I would need to bypass the DRM protections in order to install a new OS. Today we are ok when they are blocking cryptocurrency, what if tomorrow the company gets into a fight with a gaming company and decides that they will degrade the game performance because they didn’t pay the fees for full performance. What if tomorrow they decide, to charge a subscription fee to get the full performance from the device? What is to stop them from degrading or crippling any other activity they don’t agree with whenever they feel like? The law is in their favor because of DRM, laws like DMCA (and other such laws) make it illegal to bypass the protections they have placed around it.

This is a slippery slope and we can’t trust the corporations to have our best interest at heart when there is money to be made.

There is more discussion on this happening over at HackerNews. Check it out.

– Suramya

May 19, 2021

It’s not your right to do whatever you want, whenever you want

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 4:20 AM

It’s unfortunate that we have to say this, but way too many people believe that they have a right to do what ever they want all the time. That is why we have folks driving drunk, or refusing to wear masks, or not get vaccinated. You have a right to your opinions but you can’t endanger other people. Which is why people are required to pass a driving exam before being allowed to drive and can’t drive drunk.

It is not your right to not get vaccinated. You have to do it because it is required for the health and safety of the public. In India there was a growing movement of Anti-vaxxers because people are idiots and they feel that they know more than everyone else. My cousin told me a story about a guy in their village, he was taken to the hospital to be vaccinated and refused to do so. He basically told the staff to get lost and came back without getting vaccinated. Now, a month later the covid cases in India spiked along with the news coverage of the deaths and lack of oxygen supply. Now this same person is running around trying to get a vaccine because he is now scared out of his mind. Same is happening to the other anti-vaxxers.

The only solution for the pandemic is to get everyone vaccinated. It is your duty to get vaccinated and convince all around you to do the same. It is not your right not to be vaccinated.

– Suramya

May 18, 2021

Protect your computer from Russian malware by installing Russian Keyboard on your system

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

Adding a Russian Keyboard to Protect against Ransomware sounds like an urban legend or fake news. But apparently there is a sound reasoning behind it, basically the authorities in Russia don’t prosecute for cyber crime unless a Russian company or resident files a complaint. So by ensuring no Russian computers are infected the various Ransomware authors keep themselves safe from investigation and prosecution.

There was various ways to check if a computer in in Russia but the easiest option is to check if the computer has the Russian/Cyrillic keyboard installed. Apparently this includes Ransomware like DarkSide which infected the Colonial Oil pipeline earlier this month. The full list of exclusions are as below. Simply put, the malware checks for the presence of one of these languages on the system, and aborts teh install if any of them are found.

List of excluded languages

Will this protect your system against all malware? Of course not. But it is a good step to do if you are running windows and there is no harm in having an extra language installed on your computer. (Unless you are one of the rabid anti-russia type folks).

Brian’s post has a lot more details about this Ransomware and some of the other protection steps that you can take. You can check it out here: Try This One Weird Trick Russian Hackers Hate

– Suramya

May 17, 2021

IBM’s Project CodeNet: Teaching AI to code

Filed under: Computer Software,Emerging Tech,My Thoughts,Tech Related — Suramya @ 11:58 PM

IBM recently launched a new program called Project CodeNet that is an opensource dataset that will be used to train AI to better understand code. The idea is to automate more of the engineering process by applying Artificial Intelligence to the problem. This is not the first project to do this and it won’t be the last. For some reason AI has become the cure all for all ‘ills’ in any part of life. It doesn’t matter if it is required or not but if there is a problem someone out there is trying to apply AI and Machine Learning to the problem.

This is not to say that Artificial Intelligence is not something that needs to be explored and developed. It has its uses but it doesn’t need to be applied everywhere. In one of my previous companies we interacted with a lot of companies who would pitch their products to us. In our last outing to a conference over 90% of the idea’s pitched had AI and/or Machine Learning involved. It got to the point where we started telling the companies that we knew what AI/ML was and ask them to just explain how they were using it in their product.

Coming back to Project CodeNet, it consists of over 14M code samples and over 500M lines of code in 55 different programming languages. The data set is high quality and curated. It contains samples from Open programming competitions with not just the code, it also contains the problem statements, sample input and output files along with details like code size, memory footprint and CPU run time. Having this curated dataset will allow developers to benchmark their software against a standard dataset and improve it over a period of time.

Potential use cases to come from the project include code search and cloud detection, automatic code correction, regression studies and prediction.

Press release: Kickstarting AI for Code: Introducing IBM’s Project CodeNet

– Suramya

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