Suramya's Blog : Welcome to my crazy life…

June 7, 2021

Why is eating a burger with your hands ok, but eating a naan/ethnic food with your hands not?

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 10:29 PM

When you eat using your hands in any of the western countries a lot of people look down upon you as someone who doesn’t know how to eat properly in civilized company. This is not just in high end restaurants, it in the local diner and other such places (that are not fast food) and for a long time I just took it for granted that this was normal. I use a fork & knife as well as anyone but there are foods that I have to eat using my hand and others I don’t eat with my hands even though others do so. I can’t eat rice with my hands for some reason. I just don’t enjoy it, but Jani does and she makes fun of me for it. This makes it interesting when you are out for a meal and start eating with your hands. People look at you strange.

Then earlier this week I saw this cartoon below and it made me think, even westerners eat food with their hands and they are ok with it as long as it is western food. As soon as there is any other type of food involved it suddenly becomes ‘uncouth’ to eat with your hands. Isn’t this a double standard? Why is it ok to eat a pizza with your hands but not ok to eat a naan or roti with your hands? You eat Fries with your hands so why not pakoda’s?

Eating food using your hands rather than cutlery.

In the end it comes down to the colonial mindset, our food is ok to eat with the hand but if you eat your traditional food with the hands then it is bad since you obviously must ape the western way of doing things. There are reasons behind why eastern civilizations eat food the way they eat. As per the Vedas and Ayurveda the nerve endings of the fingertips are believed to boost digestion. In fact, you become more aware of the textures, taste and aromas as you eat using your hands and engaging the fingertips. In addition, when you eat with your hands if the food is too hot for your fingers, you know it is too hot for your body/mouth. This allows you to ensure the food is not too hot or too cold before you put it in your mouth.

That doesn’t mean that all food should be eaten with your hands. For example, if you are having pasta I really don’t think that it should be eaten with your hands but rather should be eaten with a fork. I think that you should eat food as the natives eat it for the best experience. When I visited China two years ago I couldn’t use a chopstick for the life of me and had to constantly ask for a fork during meals. Then after a lot of attempts I finally figured out how to use chopsticks successfully and then I found that I was enjoying the food more. Plus the locals liked that I was making an effort to follow local custom and tradition. Same when I eat south Indian meals, I am fine using my hands till I get to the rice portion but I do try (unless I can get away with using a spoon) 🙂

If someone does things differently from how you do it, it doesn’t make it better or worse; It is just different. The more differences we look for the more we will find, similarly the more similarity we look for the more we will find. People who travel to other countries and expect things to be exactly the way they were at their home country are missing the point. The goal is to enjoy the diversity of custom and culture we have in the world.

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

– Suramya

June 6, 2021

Startup company working on ways to get identities of all website visitors

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 10:16 PM

There is an important saying that everyone should remember: “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should!” and I use this very often. Latest in the list of companies that need to know this is a Kansas City-based tech startup called Stealth Data LLC. They are using data mining and machine learning to allow websites to uncover “individual names, phone numbers, emails and physical addresses” of the users who visit the websites. To put the cherry on top the co-founder doesn’t see any privacy issues when doing this. I mean how much more private information do you need to disclose before it becomes a ‘privacy’ issue. Once I have the name, phone no and address there are enough databases already leaked that can give all my remaining information including Social Security# / Aadhaar No etc.

The propoted goal is to allow companies to see details of people who visited their site and then cold call them to pitch their products if they didn’t complete a purchase.

Stealth Data’s third co-founder Chad Sneed experienced marketing frustrations firsthand through his family’s dealership, Dennis Sneed Ford in Gower, Missouri. Sneed, who’s a vice president and partner, said the dealership spends a significant amount on marketing, from search engines to third-party advertising. A bulk of the dealership’s website visitors were anonymous, however, which meant it couldn’t follow-up with visitors to try and close a sale. Sneed wanted to unlock that information and started talking to the dealership’s outside marketing firm, Phame Influence, to see if it was possible. Puckett, who co-founded Phame with Paris, also is a trial lawyer.

“My lawyer hat instantly says no,” Puckett said.

But after digging further, he discovered it’s legal and that using the information for cold calling and emailing is fair game.

“We have absolutely traded privacy for convenience,” Sneed said. “People want a customized experience online. They already know that Facebook turns on your microphone, and they say they do it for speech-to-text, but really they do it to serve you customized ads.”

It is a common mindset of people who are pitching such ideas to claim that people don’t care about privacy and would trade it for convenience. I disagree (obviously) and so do a lot of others. I foresee a lot of lawsuits in the company’s future. It is possible that the practice is legal under the current legal framework (in the US) but I doubt it is legal under the GDPR and other such privacy laws. I think that we really need to look at the privacy laws in more detail soon so that such dubious companies are stopped.

There are many implications of such tech, it can be used to identify people who visit porn sites, whistle blowers, sites can use it to target people who might not want their browsing habits to be revealed. For example, criminals (or governments) can setup a site that caters to LGBT folks and then blackmail them about their identities. This would be a gold mine for anyone planning on misusing it and this company seems to be fine with it as long as they get money.

Source: Slashdot: Startup Stealth Data Working To Uncover the Identities of Website Users

– Suramya

June 5, 2021

Some thoughts on Self Taught Programmers

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 9:38 PM

There are a lot of posts nowadays that make fun of people who use resources like Stack OverFlow, Udemy, Google etc by implying that they are not ‘real’ programmers because they reference those sites or use the solutions to solve problems and there are others who look down on self-taught programmers. Some of the best programmers I have worked with are self-taught and some of the worst one’s were university taught. It doesn’t matter how you learn to code, it is how you apply it. The cartoon below is just one of the examples I have seen making fun of self-taught programmers.

Self Taught Programmers

Personally I think there is no harm in reusing code or preexisting libraries to solve the problem you are working on. Remember, the goal of a programmer is not to create the most elegant software from scratch. It is to solve business problems efficiently and fast. By not reinventing the wheel every single time, you are saving a lot of time that can now be spent solving the actual problem. Some people think that if you do this then you are not a real programmer. That is not the case, a real programmer is someone who can solve the problem they were tasked to solve correctly, quickly, cheaply and securely. It is ok to reuse code for other projects without rewriting everything.

A little while someone asked a question of Quora (I think) stating “If I can just copy-paste code from Stack Overflow, why do I need to hire a programmer”. The top answer was: “You need to hire a good programmer so they know what to copy from Stack Overflow.” Figuring out what to copy and how to join them together is a skill in itself.

We all build on top of code that already exists: The OS you are running is code, the IDE is more code, the Debugger you are using is code along with the compiler etc. If you really want to do everything from scratch then you should write your own assembly language editor from scratch. Then write an OS, compiler etc from scratch and so on. Actually now that I think about it, the processor you are using is running Firmware. You should create your own CPU and firmware and then write the software to run on top of it.

That doesn’t make sense does it? So why are folks against using other people’s code or getting a hint on how to solve a problem from others? Obviously, you need to ensure that you are not in violation of any license or copyright when copying code but other than that it is ok to look at other people’s code and get ideas or copy it (if it is opensource & allowed).

What do you think?

– Suramya

June 4, 2021

Being a student at 40

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 4:22 PM

As some of you know I am currently taking a study break and doing a degree in Cyber Security from EC-Council University. I love what I am doing and the classes are quite interesting. However, it does feel a bit weird when I tell people that I am in college at the age of 40 and the following image best captures the feel of being a student at 40:

How do you feel, my fellow kids?

I mean I am in class with folks who were born in the 2000’s. Earlier I was filling out a form for someone who was born in 2000 and my first thought was that he wasn’t old enough to be vaccinated. Then I realized that the guy was already 21. Man I feel old.

But that being said, I love that I get to work/study with such great students and teachers. I mean, it is an online university and I was expecting really slow responses over email and in chat. But, I have gotten responses to my emails within a few hours even on a Sunday and earlier this semester, I submitted my assignments around 11am on Monday and by 5pm they were already graded and the score submitted. Plus I can always schedule a Skype session with the profs to clear my doubts and they all are very flexible in their timings.

All that being said, I love studying what I enjoy and even though it feels odd being a student again I am enjoying it quite a lot. So, if you want to learn new things or change your career then go for it. There is no age where you are too old to learn new things. All you need is an open mind.

– Suramya

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