Suramya's Blog : Welcome to my crazy life…

September 7, 2023

Youtube2Webpage: Create Websites with Text from Videos

In my last post, I had talked about preferring text content to videos and coincidentally my Hacker News feed happened to cover a tool that takes a video link and creates a webpage with a transcript generated from the video’s closed captions paired with screenshots of the video. The program is called Youtube-to-Webpage. It is a Perl script that uses yt-dlp & ffmpeg to do the processing.

I tried it out using the curl video I talked about in the previous command as the input and the software did a decent job capturing the details. The output is very plain and looks like the following:

Transcription of Curl Training video
Transcription of Curl Training video

Since the program uses the built-in YouTube captions for getting the text from the video, the transcription is only as good as how good the captions are. One enhancement, that could make it better is to use a Speech-to-Text engine and use that text in the output. The slightly tricky part would be to match the screenshots with the audio/transcription timestamps.

Check it out if you prefer to read text instead of videos. I wonder how the output would look if we feed this to a LLM and ask it to make it like an article. That can be something we can explore for the next post 🙂

– Suramya

August 18, 2023

The Judge by GoblinTools is a great tool to tell how written text comes across qualitatively

Filed under: Emerging Tech,Interesting Sites,My Thoughts,Tech Related — Suramya @ 7:17 PM

Readers of this blog (and those who know me) know that I am usually quite skeptical of tools that claim to judge the emotional content of text or tell how the text comes across qualitatively. However, this new site called The Judge – Goblin Tools is quite impressive. As per James over on Mastodon, the tool was created to help neurodivergent folks communicate better with the normals avoiding misunderstanding, bad assumptions about intent, etc.

I tested it out with content from my blog and I have to say that it summarized the tone and content quite nicely. For example below is the summary it gave for my post on Celebrating India’s 76th Independence day!

Emotionally, this text comes across as proud, patriotic, and reflective. It begins by acknowledging and celebrating India’s 76th Independence Day, recognizing the significance of gaining freedom from British rule. It highlights the sacrifices, bloodshed, and tears endured by many individuals who fought for India’s freedom, emphasizing that not all their names are known and that this is a tragic aspect. The text expresses a sense of frustration with the tendency to focus solely on iconic figures like Gandhi and Nehru, disregarding the efforts of numerous other freedom fighters.

As the text looks towards the future, there is a strong emotional undertone of remembrance and gratitude towards those who paved the way for freedom. It cites famous slogans from freedom fighters, adding a sense of inspiration and reverence for their contribution. The passage acknowledges the importance of remembering the sacrifices made by past generations for the betterment of the nation.

There is a shift in emotion when it proudly proclaims India’s progress and achievements in various fields, such as technology, space exploration, and healthcare. It displays a sense of national pride and triumph over past perceptions that diminished India’s image. The text mentions India’s relief efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic and positions India as a nation capable of compassionate and humanitarian actions.

Moving forward, the text acknowledges areas that still require improvement, alluding to societal customs and mindsets. It expresses a desire for growth and change while also highlighting the need for self-reflection in other countries that criticize India, pointing out their own flaws and challenges.

The passage concludes with a message of unity and inclusivity, promoting the idea that humanity should transcend differences in caste, religion, nationality, sexuality, and age. It embraces the concept of a global family and emphasizes the values of humanity and national loyalty.

Overall, this text conveys a mixture of pride in India’s accomplishments, gratitude for the sacrifices made by freedom fighters, and a sense of reflection on the challenges that still exist. It aims to inspire unity, progress, and a commitment to the values that define the nation.

It did manage to capture the exact tone I was going for so that is quite nice. According to their About Us page, the site uses AI technologies in the backend including OpenAI’s models. They are planning to move to open source alternatives as and when they become available and reliable. Keeping that in mind, I would not recommend using this to analyze any text that has private or confidential information because it might be used to train OpenAI’s models. That being said I would be keeping an eye on this software and once they go to an opensource model and allow us to run a local instance of the tool I certainly wouldn’t mind using as part of my writing toolkit.

– Suramya

August 14, 2023

Little known HTML UI elements that work without JavaScript/CSS

Filed under: Interesting Sites,My Thoughts,Tech Related — Suramya @ 9:24 PM

The current iteration of the Internet is extremely GUI focused and if you don’t have Javascript enabled a lot of sites just stop working even though that shouldn’t be the case because they don’t really need Javascript (JS) to be rendered. Unfortunately, thanks to the profusion of JS Frameworks more and more sites are incorporating it to the point where it is just getting silly.

A simple site that would be a few hundred KB in the old HTML/CSS world is now multi MB in size. A few days ago I encountered a site that was downloading ~95MB every time it was loaded and all the site did was display a few thousand rows in a table. I figured that out because it was taking a few mins at high load for the site to load and I was shocked to see the amount of data being transferred for no good reason.

If you ask website developers they will tell you that JS is needed because it allows them to create fancy sites with interactive controls etc, but as I recently found out, this is not the case. HTML has a bunch of UI elements that most people don’t know about that allow us to create interactive sites or generate beautiful sites. The I’m betting on HTML site has examples of many such elements that I am going to start using in my sites going forward. Some of the examples I really liked from the site:

<datalist>: The HTML Data List element

Is that a typeahead I see? 🧐 Doesn’t seem to have built in validation, but the UI is there at least. Note that Safari requires option tags to be closed, or it just gives up. 😮‍💨

<details>: The Details disclosure element

A little dropdown thing for disclosoures and stuff. Can by styled quite aggressively.


You are being watched.

There is a Dialog element as well, but it doesn’t work when embedded in a WP Blog post. Check out the site linked above to see it in action.

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

– Suramya

June 20, 2023

It is now possible to track someone using SMS Receipt Messages

Filed under: Computer Security,Interesting Sites,My Thoughts,Tech Related — Suramya @ 6:04 PM

With modern technology it is getting more and more easy to track someone. There are many apps, devices etc that allow a target to be tracked in near realtime by someone. This can be done using an App on your phone, find my phone functionality, family phone track etc etc. As someone who is worried about getting tracked they can disable GPS, get a new dumb phone that doesn’t support GPS etc which can mitigate the threat to a large extent. Unfortunately, now there is a new attack surface that allows an attacker to approximately locate a target with up to 96% accuracy.

Researchers have figured out how to deduce the location of an SMS recipient by analyzing timing measurements from typical receiver location. Basically they measure the time elapsed between sending a SMS and the receipt of the Delivery report and then use a ML model to predict the location area where the target could be located. The other advantage of this attack is that it doesn’t require any specialized equipment or access to restricted systems but can be executed via a simple smartphone.

Short Message Service (SMS) remains one of the most popular communication channels since its introduction in 2G cellular networks. In this paper, we demonstrate that merely receiving silent SMS messages regularly opens a stealthy side-channel that allows other regular network users to infer the whereabouts of the SMS recipient. The core idea is that receiving an SMS inevitably generates Delivery Reports whose reception bestows a timing attack vector at the sender. We conducted experiments across various countries, operators, and devices to show that an attacker can deduce the location of an SMS recipient by analyzing timing measurements from typical receiver locations. Our results show that, after training an ML model, the SMS sender can accurately determine multiple locations of the recipient. For example, our model achieves up to 96% accuracy for locations across different countries, and 86% for two locations within Belgium. Due to the way cellular networks are designed, it is difficult to prevent Delivery Reports from being returned to the originator making it challenging to thwart this covert attack without making fundamental changes to the network architecture.

The biggest problem with this method is that it doesn’t depend on any software or anything that needs to be installed on the target phone. You just need a phone that supports SMS, which is pretty much all phones in the market. There is an option to disable delivery reports which would mitigate the threat to an extent but is an opt-out setup rather than an opt-in. One way to reduce this vector would be for manufacturers to disable the delivery report by default and folks who need it can enable it from settings instead of the other way round which is the case right now.

Source: HackerNews: Freaky Leaky SMS: Extracting user locations by analyzing SMS timings
Full Paper: Freaky Leaky SMS: Extracting User Locations by Analyzing SMS Timings

– 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

November 28, 2022

Internet Archive makes over 500 Palm Pilot apps available online for free

Filed under: Interesting Sites,Tech Related — Suramya @ 5:05 AM

The Palm Pilot was the first ‘smart’ device that I owned, and coincidentally it was the first device that I bought with my own money, so it always has a special place in my heart. I started off with the Palm V and then upgraded to the m505 when it came out. I loved the device and used it almost constantly for a long time. Unfortunately, they made a bunch of bad business decisions and the company collapsed.

Now, the Internet Archive has created an online archive of 565 Palm Pilot apps available to run in your web browser and on touchscreen devices. The apps are not as sophisticated as what you get nowadays but they are a blast of the past and some of them stand up to the passage of time quite well.

Check out the archive at: Software Library: Palm and Palmpilot.
More details on the project: The Internet Archive just put 565 Palm Pilot apps in your web browser

– Suramya

October 5, 2022

3D Scanning was used over 160 years ago to create photosculptures

Filed under: Interesting Sites,My Thoughts,Tech Related — Suramya @ 1:32 PM

When we talk about 3D scanning we all assume it is one of the emerging technologies and with the recent advances it has been growing more and more popular. A usecase that is becoming popular is to scan a sculpture or art installations so that the scans are published online and can be converted to VR or used to 3D print an exact replica. For example, The State Darwin Museum in Europe has been slowly digitizing / 3D scanning its collection. Other museums have been doing the same as well.

But interestingly, this is not a new technology and it was in use over 160 years ago to create what is known as photosculptures. A recent article on talks about how in the late 19th century (1861) the art of creating realistic, 3-dimensional replicas using a series of 24 photos that were combined to create a 3D image was extremely popular. This process was called photosculpture and was invented by François Willème, a French painter, photographer and sculptor.

Example of a photosculpture created using this technique. (PC: University of Virginia: Department of Art)

He perfected the art of taking photos from 24 camera’s in a circle with the subject standing in the middle, synchronizing them to create a 3D model that could be projected on a screen. Then a pantograph was used to cut the layers of the picture into thin sheets of wood. The artist would then assemble the cuttings to create a rough 3D replica of the object. Once the base was created they would fill in the details using materials such as bronze, plaster of Paris and terra cotta to create a realistic result.

A visual overview of how Photosculptures were created

This whole process was a lot cheaper than having a sculpture created via the normal process and a lot faster so it became quite popular for a while with the public. But with other competitors patenting their own versions and the demand reducing he had to shutdown the studio by late 1868. Check out the following article for more details on the process More than 100 Years before 3D Printers, We had Photosculpture which is quite fascinating.

It made me think that we have this unspoken assumption that the previous generations were not as smart/advanced as we were and only in the modern world we have these amazing breakthroughs that wouldn’t have been possible earlier and then you read about these inventions and techniques that were there hundreds of years ago that does the same thing (albeit a bit more crudely) as our modern cutting edge technologies. There was a lot of scientific advances done historically that were lost due to various reasons and sometimes I dream about how the world would have been if we had not lost the Library of Alexandria or the Nalanda University which were amongst the many institutes destroyed by invaders and their staff & students slaughtered. Imagine how many advances were lost, how much wisdom was lost over the years due to this…

– Suramya

August 30, 2022

Oregon Trail: You can now play the MSDOS version online for free at

Filed under: Interesting Sites — Suramya @ 3:37 PM

Oregon Trail is a game that has become a cultural touchstone of the era with the famous “You have died of dysentery” message that most of us got when we played it. There are multiple versions of the game available but the original version from Atari and then the DOS versions are the most popular ones. has continued their effort to archive classic games and now has the DOS version of the game available to play online for free. I briefly tried it out using Firefox on Linux and it works great. I did have to consciously decide to stop playing as the game is addictive, So consider yourself forewarned. 🙂

Screenshot from Oregon Trail

The version here is running on FreeDOS so in theory you should be able to download and play it locally but from what I could tell this version is online only. Check it out if you have some free time to kill.

Edit (31st Aug 2022): You can play the 1978 version of Oregon Trail online as well.

– Suramya

August 29, 2022

Can you explain complex ideas using only the top 1k most used English words?

Filed under: Humor,Interesting Sites — Suramya @ 10:27 PM

They say that the best way to gauge if someone understands a topic in depth is to see if they can explain it in language simple enough that a 5 year old can understand. Too many people use acronyms and buzzwords to explain stuff that just confuses people and makes it harder to figure out what people are talking about. There was an old XKCD joke about explaining something using the top 1k most commonly used words in English (See an example about a Rocket below). There is a book about it as well called the ‘Thing Explainer‘ that I had gifted to Vir (my Nephew) a while ago. They both (Vir & Sara) love it and still refer to it quite often.

Theo Sanderson was inspired by the idea and has created a website where you can attempt to explain something with only the top 1000 most commonly used English words.

Up Goer Five

Writing like this actually sounds a lot easier than it is and when I tried it, it took me a few tries to write something that passed the test. Check it out and share your creative writing. 🙂

– Suramya

May 13, 2022

Artist draws 100+ sketches at the same time!

Filed under: Interesting Sites,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 9:14 PM

Art requires skill to be able to do it well. However, when people talk about skilled artists, some of the examples look like the artist took a bunch of paint and threw it at the canvas, but when that painting is displayed in a gallery there will be 100’s of people talking about the energy, passion and whatever else shown in the painting, which is basically paint thrown on the canvas.

Alexis Bantiles on the other hand is simultaneously drawing 100 different sketches at the same time! using a customized pole that holds 30+ colored pens and I have trouble drawing one… I am in awe of the skill, practice and effort required to achieve this.

Drawing 100 different sketches at the same time.

Source: @nowthisnews

– Suramya

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