Suramya's Blog : Welcome to my crazy life…

March 18, 2023

Scientists create a working supersolid in the lab

Filed under: Emerging Tech,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 11:34 PM

It seems that every year we learn more about the universe that makes the basic physics that we learned in school inaccurate or rather puts a lot of caveats in to the theories. Originally we had 3 states of matter: Solid, liquid and gas. Then came things like superfluids, Bose–Einstein condensates, quantum spin liquid, supercritical fluid, quark–gluon plasma, Rydberg polaron, and so many more weird possibilities. Last week, scientists from Innsbruck University in Austria have managed to create a new state of matter in 2D called Supersolids. Till now the researchers had only been able to create a 1D (a few molecules long) chain of SuperSolids but using cutting edge research they were able to create a 2D ‘paper’ of supersolid.

If you are like me, by now you will be wondering what on earth is a supersolid… Basically it is a state of matter that incorporates two different states of matter at the same time i.e. it is a solid as well as a superfluid at the same time. This gives it the ability to be a solid and still flow like a liquid without any friction at the same time. If that sounds confusing it is so because we are talking about Quantum effects which seem to exist in a state of constant contradiction and confusion (At least for me, when I try to understand them).

“To picture a supersolid, consider an ice cube immersed in liquid water, with frictionless flow of the water through the cube,” wrote Bruno Labruthe-Tolra, a physicist at Sorbonne Paris North University.

So, to create a supersolid, you first trap some atoms, then cool them, then play with their interactions. “If you tune those correctly, and you tune the shape of the trap correctly, you can get a supersolid,” says Norcia, the lead author.

Using this method, in 2019, researchers began to create a basic, one-dimensional supersolid: essentially, a thin supersolid tube in a straight line.

That’s what Norcia and his colleagues at Innsbruck University and the Austrian Academy of Sciences have now done. By tinkering with the device they used to trap atoms and the process they used to condense the atoms, they were able to extend their supersolid from one dimension into two: from a tiny tube into a small sheet.

There are a lot of interesting usecases for this technology when it matures, we could use it for lubrication in industrial machinery, create frictionless surfaces for tests. It could even be used in vacuum as is for various usecases. But that is still quite a way off because the work to go from 2D to 3D has just started and is still in the pre-research stage. However, while that is going on we do have a superSolid paper available for study while will give us more insight into this fascinating new substance.

The research has been published in Nature: Supersolids go two-dimensional

Source: We finally have a working supersolid. Here’s why that matters.

– Suramya

March 12, 2023

Researchers create mini-robot that can navigate inside blood vessels and perform surgery autonomously

Filed under: Emerging Tech,Tech Related — Suramya @ 11:13 PM

Performing surgery is a delicate task and at times it is almost impossible to reach the area we want to operate at without having to cut through other important tissues. This is even more apparent when we talk about surgery inside a blood vessel or artery, which could be the key to removing an obstruction or stitch a wound etc. Till now we didn’t have the ability to release an autonomous robot inside a blood vessel that could navigate to the correct location, perform the programmed actions (or allow the doctor to manually take over) and return.

This was only possible in the realm of Science Fiction but thanks to the efforts of Researchers at South Korea’s Hanyang University this is now actually possible in the real world. They have successfully demonstrated that their I-RAMAN (robotically assisted magnetic navigation system for endovascular intervention) robot can travel autonomously to a superficial femoral artery in a pig, deliver contrast dye, and return safely to the extraction point. Their results and paper was published on 9th Feb in IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters: Separable and Recombinable Magnetic Robot for Robotic Endovascular Intervention.

This study presents a separable and recombinable magnetic robot (SRMR) to deliver and retrieve an untethered magnetic robot (UMR) to a target vascular lesion safely and effectively for robotic endovascular intervention. The SRMR comprises a delivery catheter and UMR connected to the end of the delivery catheter by a connecting section. An external magnetic field (EMF) interacts with the permanent magnet of the UMR; it can effectively generate magnetic torque and steer the delivery catheter to reach a target lesion. Furthermore, the rotating EMF allows the UMR of the SRMR to separate from the delivery catheter and perform the tunneling task. After completing the tunneling task, the UMR can be safely recombined with the delivery catheter in the vasculature via a simultaneous application of the EMF and suction force to the delivery catheter. The SRMR functions of steering, separation, movement, tunneling, drug delivery, and recombination are validated in a mimetic vascular model with a pseudo blood clot. Finally, the SRMR is successfully validated in an in vivo experiment of a mini pig’s superficial femoral artery for contrast delivery, separation, movement, and recombination.

This is a fantastic achievement, and although there is a lot of work still left to be done before this can be deployed for actual human use we are still a step closer to truly universal repair bots. Imagine an accident victim who is bleeding internally, the doctor deploys these robots to restitch the blood vessels to stop the internal bleeding and within minutes the bleeding is stopped and the doctor can start the post-op work. I can imagine these being sold as part of the standard medkits in the future (way in the future) where you have a few pre-programmed options available and depending on the situation a person can select the correct option to deploy.

However, all is not rosy (as always). If these go into active use and become common enough to be deployed in med-kits then we would need systems to prevent these bots from being repurposed. For example, instead of being programmed to stitch blood vessels the bots are programmed to cause more damage and start internal bleeding. There are so many other scenarios where this could be misused so we would need to think of all the cases, mitigate the risk and only then deploy them into the world.

That being said, I am still excited to see the possibilities this opens up.

Source: ACM Tech News Newsletter.

– Suramya

March 11, 2023

Thoughts about a list explaining how Linux users are characterized by these properties

Filed under: Linux/Unix Related,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 10:44 PM

It is always amusing to me when I read these lists that claim to characterize people, in this case while I was researching about companies acquired by Microsoft I ended up at Rational Wiki: OS Wars section where there is a section that claims that “Linux users are characterized by the following properties: I found it amusing so I am going to list them out here with my comments and thoughts about each of them.

An unhealthy desire to recompile the kernel at every opportunity.

[ST] Compiling a kernel was something that we had to do in Linux back in early 2000’s, but even then I never really had to compile the kernel to get things to work. I did do it to understand the process, but was never forced to do so. In fact I can’t remember the last time I had to compile the kernel on my system.

A disdain for newcomers who don’t know how to recompile the kernel.
Constantly rebuilding their machines because a kernel recompile failed.

[ST] Since I never had to compile it, I don’t expect others to do so. If you want to do it then its your prerogative but I don’t care one way or another.

Thinking those who don’t compile on their own computers or don’t use shell scripts and terminals on a daily basis are not real Linux users.

[ST] Unfortunately, there are idiots who think this, and attempt to gatekeep others and put them down just because they don’t use the ‘proper tools’/command line etc. I did write about this earlier: Stop hating on people because they don’t use the same tools as you because everyone has a different way of working and what works for you might not work for them and vice-versa. For example, I really dislike video tutorials and prefer text but I know plenty of folks who like video because it shows them what to do instead of having them imagine it. There is no one true way…

Constantly having incidents reported for not being in the sudoers file, but not being sure who they’re being reported to.

[ST] I don’t have incidents being reported constantly but did have to look up where the incidents are reported, which as expected was in the log files that an admin/root can audit.

Believing vowels are over rated, especially when it comes to naming important programs you expect to use every day.

[ST] Nope. I like my program names to be descriptive and really dislike SMS talk.

Cursing at Mac users for the number of shiny devices they can connect their computers to.

[ST] Again a nope. I can connect more things to my Linux machine and have them work off the bat than I could on a Mac. Sure some of the software is more polished on a Mac but from a connectivity perspective my Linux machine can connect to pretty much anything (sometimes a bit of tinkering might be required).

Either cursing that they need root, or cursing because they ran something as root that they really shouldn’t have.

[ST] Had this issue only when I was first starting out. After a little while things become automatic, if I run a root command as a non-root user, I just have to prepend sudo to it (or copy it to the root terminal). Accidentally running a command as root on the other hand is a much bigger issue. Haven’t done it in a while now but it is something to be careful of. I set the prompt to let me know what machine I am connected to and as what user so it makes it easier to spot if you are in the wrong window.

Believing a windowing system is a very clever way of having lots of command lines on screen at the same time. Like screen only less clever.

[ST] I really don’t get people who think like this and unfortunately there are folks who are like this. They think they are cleverer than everyone else and love putting others down.

Arguing with each other over which distribution to use.
Arguing with BSD users over their OS of choice.

[ST] This is a fight that I still see every once in a while but things have calmed down quite a bit from the earlier days where a question about which is the best distribution would ignite a flame war.

Arguing over whether to use a GUI or command line.

A lot of people think that using a command line makes you superior to other users, I think that you should use whatever works best for you at that point in time for the task you are doing. For example, if I am editing a video or sorting images I will prefer to use a GUI but for other tasks I prefer using the commandline. At the end of the day the idea is to get the work done, not argue about what is the best interface to do the work in.

Arguing about whether Emacs or vi is better. (Obviously vi is way better. No question. Unless you’re Richard Stallman or another member of the Church of Emacs.)

[ST] I prefer vi because it is installed by default on all Linux systems so if I ever have to recover from a crashed system I have an editor that I can use to edit files. Emacs is fine but I prefer vi / Notepad++ / kwrite for general editing.

Arguing about which language is the best for writing scripts (essentially the modern-day equivalent of the Tcl Wars between Tcl and GNU Guile’s implementation of Scheme).

[ST] I have no idea about the TCL wars and don’t really care what language you use for writing scripts. I have written scripts in Bash, Perl and Python for the automation and scripting I had to do and the language was chosen based on 1) What I was trying to do and how complicated the logic was 2) If I was trying to learn a new language the script was written in that language.

Complaining that we’re calling it Linux and not GNU/Linux.
Interjecting for a moment to explain why it’s actually GNU/Linux
Complaining that we’re calling it Open Source and not Free Software.

[ST] Complaining about the fact that someone calls it Linux and not GNU/Linux is just annoying and doesn’t make you look knowledgeable it makes you annoying. Technically they are correct but Linux is the expected usage and no, I am not about to start calling it GNU Linux just because some idiot thinks I should do so.

Constantly complaining about virtually all sorts of random, obscure problems such as their computer randomly shutting itself off at 9 pm on Mondays.

[ST] This is not just Linux users, any person who is a power user will face these kinds of issues and will ask around on how to fix them. General users will just get the helpdesk to come fix their systems for them.

Complaining that this list is not indexed from 0.

No, I don’t number my lists from 0. Just because Arrays are indexed from 0 doesn’t mean that I have to number everything starting from 0. However, I do prefer that the ground floor (1st floor in the US) be called the 0th Floor (or G Floor) instead of 1st floor like they do in the US because that’s how they do it in the rest of the world.

Believing that time started on January 1970.

🙂 No comments 🙂

Being able to understand this list.

Ha ha… I think any person actively working with computers like a sysadmin/programmer would understand this list.

I think the list should be updated but it did make me smile so I guess that is a win 🙂

– Suramya

March 8, 2023

Be Kind Buddy – A Website for translating rude messages to polite ones

Filed under: Interesting Sites — Suramya @ 2:11 PM

There are times when you really want to rant at a person when they are being absolutely dense, however doing so is not professional and not really recommended. There are studies that found that bosses that scream, curse or rant at their reportees / counterparts are not really liked and their attrition rate is a lot higher.

As always someone out there decided that this is a problem that can be solved by technology and created a website: that takes any text with curses/sarcasm etc and converts it to a more polite version stating the same thing. I tried it out a few times and the results do make sense but at times read like bland corporate speak.

Some of the examples I tried and the responses I got:

Prompt: You need to get your head examined and stop suggesting such stupid ideas
Response: It’s important to consider other perspectives and ideas. Perhaps we can explore some alternative solutions together.

Prompt: Why don’t you do your job and send me the documents that I requested last week you lazy ass
Response: Hello, I hope you are doing well. Can you please send me the documents that I requested last week? Thank you.

You can try using it for your communication but my recommendation would be to take the text given to get an idea of how things could be phrased better and then write your own message. This way you avoid you message sounding like an auto generated message/bland corporate non-speak message.

– Suramya

March 7, 2023

What not to do when laying off people

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

Elon Musk drama seems to be almost impossible to avoid now since he has taken over Twitter, if it is not one thing it is another. Personally I feel that he has bought Twitter and can do whatever he wants with it whether the rest of us like it or not. He has been firing people pretty much since he took over, last week was the most recent batch where ~200 folks were laid off.

What is interesting and super unprofessional is that it looks like the folks who were laid off didn’t get an official notice that they have been terminated, instead their access just stopped working one day. Haraldur Thorleifsson, who was a senior director at Twitter was one of the folks impacted by this, so they reached out to HR at Twitter who didn’t (or maybe couldn’t) answer the simple question “Please confirm if I am an employee or not?”. After 9 days of getting nowhere, he posted a public thread on Twitter tagging Musk asking if he was laid off.

Dear @elonmusk

9 days ago the access to my work computer was cut, along with about 200 other Twitter employees.

However your head of HR is not able to confirm if I am an employee or not. You’ve not answered my emails.

Maybe if enough people retweet you’ll answer me here?

Elon was as ‘classy’ as ever and with jokes, silly emojies and then publicly mocked their disability, insinuated that they exaggerated their disability and saying they “did no actual work.”.

It is his right to fire people, but there is a right way and a wrong way to do it and this is definitely the latter. When Vinit was running his own company and had to lay off people because of funding issues, he did it in a fantastic way (See below) and I have seen other folks do the same thing.

Four years after he started, a website for construction materials, Vinit Bhansali realised with horror that he had lay off eight employees. “It’s hard to tell your team you have to let them go. So, I reached out to everyone I knew — old friends from school, investors, acquaintances in the startup space — to find them jobs. Even VCs who had chosen not to invest in my company helped out and shared the resumes with startups in their portfolio,” he says. Eventually all eight were placed.

I have been part of companies that laid off employees and it was a painful experience even for those of us who weren’t laid off. All of us leveraged our connections to connect the folks impacted with teams that were hiring, a quick search on Mastodon/Twitter will get you links and posts from folks who don’t even know the folks impacted reaching out to help in anyway they can. That is humanity, that is how a person should behave.

This way of firing where a person doesn’t even know for sure they are fired or not is the worst way to fire someone, ghosting an employee is not a mature/professional way to do this. Imagine the stress an employee goes through if they are not able to log in even once due to a mistyped password or other technical issues. Then you have the uncertainty of not knowing if you are still employed and can afford to pay rent, buy groceries etc. For Musk its all a big joke because he never had to deal with not being able to afford food or have to worry about the rent being late but for most of the others people in his company they do have to worry about this along with a whole other set of responsibilities.

Have I been laid off?

The worst part is that a lot of people don’t see anything wrong with this. They still think he is the greatest thing to happen for mankind where in reality he is just another narcissistic billionaire who has gone back on pretty much every promise he ever made.

– Suramya

March 6, 2023

Twitter is down… Again!

Filed under: Computer Related,Humor — Suramya @ 11:07 PM

Twitter downtimes are becoming more and more common, and even though I don’t spend that much time on Twitter anymore (Mastodon is so much better and more fun) this was too good to ignore.
If you visit (or any url on twitter) right now instead of the content you get an API error message stating that “Your current API plan does not include access to this endpoint, please see for more information”.

Current API plan does not include access to this endpoint

Looks like the team managed to nuke their own connections to the API while attempting to restricting some API calls to paid customers only. Although this is an error that should have been caught in UAT or QA testing. I mean that is the basic 1st thing to check to see if all services are working after a major change like this one. But it looks like it was pushed to prod directly without validation.

I guess firing a majority of your teams with almost no notice or Knowledge Transfer sessions is a bad move and makes it harder to keep your site up and running. Who knew?

– Suramya

Resolving Citrix error: “No active policy is found in Secondary authentication cascade” when connecting via Android client

Filed under: Computer Tips,Knowledgebase — Suramya @ 8:37 PM

I was try to connect to Citrix using an android device and after authentication, I got the following error message: “No active policy is found in Secondary authentication cascade. Please contact your administrator.”

I tried doing a search for the error message but none of the solutions were applicable in my case. I was accessing the log in page using Firefox mobile and on a hunch I switched the view to “Desktop Site” by clicking on the three dots on the top right corner of the browser (See screenshot below). Once I did that and resubmitted the page, things automatically started working without any errors.

Enable Desktop Site in Firefox

My guess is that the mobile view doesn’t allow the server to run secondary validation checks because of the limitations in the mobile view. Switching to Desktop mode removes the limitations so things start automagically working again.

– Suramya

March 3, 2023

Someone is now claiming that they can’t use Microsoft Windows for “Religious Reasons”

Filed under: Humor,News/Articles,Tech Related — Suramya @ 3:10 PM

The Operating System (OS) wars have been going on since we have had computers and the ferocity with which some OS users defend their preference at times borders on that of fundamentalist religions. The following incident just takes it to the logical conclusion, where a new joiner in a company doesn’t want to use windows on their office laptop because their religion does not allow use of Apple or Microsoft owned Operating Systems.

Employee claims that she can’t use Microsoft Windows for “Religious Reasons”

I wonder that their stance is about using other software/websites/services owned by Apple/Microsoft. Have they stopped using Github because it is owned by MS? What about LinkedIn? or Mojang, X-Box? or any of the thousands of companies they own or have stakes in. Do they use Beat headsets? Shazam? Akamai? Apple either owns or has stakes in them and a ton of other companies as well.

I personally use Linux as my primary OS and would always prefer to use it whenever possible. However, I have had to use Windows at work in most of the companies that I have worked in because that’s what the standard setup was over there. I did push for Linux in some of the orgs and we ended up replacing Windows with Linux for some of the developers in a few companies. That being said, refusing to work with an OS because you don’t want to is a bit over the top for me and calling it against their religion makes it even more out there…

Source: Whitney Merrill on Mastadon

– Suramya

March 2, 2023

Intel Releases SDK allowing C++ Developers to start writing code for Quantum Computers

Filed under: Quantum Computing,Tech Related — Suramya @ 8:26 PM

Intel has released a new software platform for Developers (SDK) who are looking to work on Quantum computers. They are not the first (Microsoft released an online course/setup back in 2019) and they certainly won’t be the last to do this.

Unfortunately, while they have released the platform it doesn’t actually run on a quantum computer but rather runs on a quantum computer simulator they have built. But the really interesting thing is that this SDK that they have released allows developers to use C++ to build quantum algorithms instead of having to learn a new programming language which immediately increases the no of people who can hit the ground running and start developing with the SDK.

The platform, called Intel Quantum SDK, would for now allow those algorithms to run on a simulated quantum computing system, said Anne Matsuura, Intel Labs’ head of quantum applications and architecture. Matsuura said developers can use the long-established programming language C++ to build quantum algorithms, making it more accessible for people without quantum computing expertise. “The Intel Quantum SDK helps programmers get ready for future large-scale commercial quantum computers,” Matsuura said in a statement. “It will also advance the industry by creating a community of developers that will accelerate the development of applications.”

Intel will be launching their own version of a Quantum computer in the near future. They are taking a slightly different approach than the others to make the computer, they are basically trying to build this computers using their existing chip-making technology by putting transistors very close to each other, running them at super low temperatures and then use single electrons in the circuit which makes the transistors act as qubits. This sounds like a promising approach but I feel that this is more of a stepping stone on the way to the fully quantum setup as it is a hybrid version of the existing computers and a quantum computer.

Source: Slashdot: Intel Releases Software Platform for Quantum Computing Developers

– Suramya

March 1, 2023

Don’t burn bridges by behaving unprofessionally when you leave a company

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 4:47 PM

The message screenshot below was shared by a friend who is changing jobs. It is a perfect example for why you shouldn’t burn bridges when you leave a job because you never know who that person might be connected with and they just might end up sharing what you did when you quit ensuring that you don’t get that offer.

My new boss who was my ex boss is friends with my current boss and they are neighbours
My new boss who was my ex boss is friends with my current boss and they are neighbours 😬😄🙈

It is highly tempting to vent, curse or blast your manager/seniors/company when you leave or post nasty comments in public about it but you should please refrain. There was a case back in 2017 where a US flight attendant Steven Slater spectacularly quit his job aboard a JetBlue flight by grabbing a few beers, cursing out the airline on the AP and slipping down the plane’s emergency slide. This got him instant fame and spotlight and lots of people were applauding him on how he ‘had the guts’ to tell the truth and leave in an epic fashion. But this ‘epic’ resignation cost him his job, he was charged with criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and criminal trespass and had to pay a $10k fine. He can no longer work in the airline industry because no one wants to hire him and I don’t blame them. What is the guarantee that he wouldn’t pull a stunt like this again?

There was a case where a person was being interviewed for a job at one of my old companies and one of the hiring managers was talking about the candidate to a co-worker who had worked with the candidate before and commented that the person had behaved extremely unprofessionally with their boss on their last day because they were no longer reporting to him. The hiring manager discussed this with their manager and the decision was made to drop the candidate from consideration. It is a small world and you never know where you might cross paths with a person again down the line.

This is not to say that you shouldn’t respond to inappropriate behavior or actions. You can do that in a dignified/professional way like reporting to HR, putting in an official complaint etc. Or you can do it in an unprofessional way by cursing them out or posting a profanity ridden comment about them on their linkedIn page. See the difference? If you chose the first option, you might get asked about it during the interview and in the latter case you would just get dropped from consideration.

What do you think?

– Suramya

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