Suramya's Blog : Welcome to my crazy life…

September 4, 2020

A ‘genius’ on Quora wants to know if they can sue someone for removing them from a Whatsapp Group

Filed under: Humor,Interesting Sites — Suramya @ 11:50 PM

Every once in a while you will come across something that highlights the self entitlement of the poster. Today’s winner of entitled litigator (to-be) is a gentleman who posted the following question on Quora: “I want to file a case against a WhatsApp admin for removing me and my spouse from a group without a valid reason. Can it be done as it has affected us mentally?”. I don’t have words on how petty and entitled you have to be in order to think that someone removing you from a whatsapp group is a valid reason to sue the admin of the group.

The person doesn’t say where they are from but based on their eagerness to sue, I have a feeling that they are from the US as American’s are the most eager litigator’s that I know of. On one side its funny but on the other hand its scary how much people think is due to them and how far they are willing to go to get what they feel is due to them. Some of the cases filed would boggle your mind. We have had a kidnapper sue his victims for breach of contract when they escaped and another one sued for being misled that a sugary snack has a lot of sugar. In all a lot of bizarre lawsuits that have been filed till date, mostly in the US but there are a few gems from Europe as well. I was curious and searched for the most ridiculous law suites ever filed and boy did the Internet deliver. Below are some of my favorites from the search results:

Woman Says Jelly Belly Lied To Her

A California woman filed a mind-blowing lawsuit in 2017 when she felt misled by the fact that Jelly Belly candies contained sugar, Jessica Gomez filed a complaint against the jelly bean maker over its use of the term “evaporated cane juice” appearing on the packaging for Jelly Belly Sport Beans.

She said she thought it meant the candies were sugar-free and that they were a healthier snack option. The candy company called the suit “nonsense” and urged the courts to drop it because the product’s nutrition label clearly shows its sugar content.

The case was dismissed after the cart ruled that the plaintiffs failed to show facts specific to their purchase and reliance on advertising.

The next one just made me roll my eyes, the lady this guy sued had a lucky escape. Imagine living with someone so entitled!

The ‘First Date From Hell’

A Texas man made international news and became a poster boy for pettiness when he sued a woman after what he called the “first date from hell.”

Brandon Vezmar, 37, went on a date with a woman he met on Bumble in 2017 and was angered when she apparently spent the whole night on her phone. Vezmar sued the woman, hoping to get back the $17.31 he spent taking her to the movies.

The woman eventually just gave him the money back, so he’d drop the whole thing and leave her alone.

Here’s another Gem, Apparently this genius didn’t know that things in the sun get hot (especially if they are painted black). I learnt that lesson in kindergarten… But why use your brain when you can sue.

Fan’s Burned Butt Means Lawsuit For Dallas Cowboys

In 2012, a Dallas Cowboys fan sued her favorite football team after she claimed she suffered severe burns after sitting on a hot bench at a game. Jennelle Carrillo, herself a Texan, got lawyers involved after attending a team scrimmage in August 2010 and unwittingly sitting on a very hot seat.

The temperatures that day were more than 100 degrees and the bench itself was black, but Carrillo claimed she had no way of knowing that the seat would be so hot because the team didn’t have signs posted warning fans.

The lawsuit disappeared after initial media mentions.

The next one just makes me think, what the hell was this guy thinking?

Dangerous breasts

A man visits a nude bar. We’re not sure how the joke normally goes, but in this instance it ends up in court. In 1996 a a man named Paul Shimkonis sued his local topless bar claiming a dancer’s breasts had given him whiplash. Shimkonis described the breasts as ‘cement blocks’ which had caused him physical and mental anguish. His request fro $15,000 in damages was denied by the judge. We find ourselves wondering what sort of dance move can cause that level of momentum.

If you have some free time and need to laugh you can check out the list of ridiculous lawsuits here and here.

The really scary part is that sometimes these idiots win and then we get warning labels telling us that the Hot Coffee we ordered is actually Hot.

– Suramya

August 31, 2020

World Map listing Literal Translations of Every Country’s Name

Filed under: Interesting Sites — Suramya @ 10:57 AM

‘What’s in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.’ a famous quote by William Shakespeare from Romeo & Juliet. When we talk about Country names it turns out that the names incorporate lots of insights into the history and culture of a place. To understand this in more detail Credit Card Compare which is an Australia-based website recently dug into the etymology of place names to create a world map that highlights the literal translation of the world’s countries names.

“We live in a time of air travel and global exploration,” the company writes in the blog. “We’re free to roam the planet and discover new countries and cultures. But how much do you know about the people who lived and explored these destinations in times past? Learning the etymology—the origin of words—of countries around the world offers us fascinating insight into the origins of some of our favorite travel destinations and the people who first lived there.”

Name translations for Asia

Some of the names are obvious and I already knew about them, others were a surprise. For example I didn’t know that Bhutan’s literally translates as “The Land of the Thunder Dragon” or that Brazil literally means “Red like an Amber”. The obvious ones are India which means “Land of the Indus” and Russia which means “Land of the Rus”

Check out the full selection at: World map: the literal translation of country names and details on origin of these names here.

– Suramya

August 24, 2020

India has the cheapest Mobile Internet in the world

Filed under: Interesting Sites,My Thoughts,Tech Related — Suramya @ 2:58 PM

Internet services were launched in India on 15th August, 1995 by Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited and in November, 1998, the Government opened up the sector for providing Internet services by private operators. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Internet’s launch in India and its astounding how much the landscape has changed in the past 25 years. My first net connection in 1998 was a blazing 33.3kbps dial-up connection that cost Rs 15,000 for 250 hours, this allowed you to use graphical tools to browse the internet like Netscape (which was the precursor for Firefox). For students there was a discount pricing for Rs 5,000 for 250 hours but they only got access to text/shell based browsing.

Now, 25 years later the landscape is completely different. Internet connections costs in India are the cheapest in the world as per a recent study done for The Worldwide broadband speed league by in association with M-Lab.

Five cheapest packages in the world

The five cheapest countries in terms of the average cost of 1GB of mobile data are India ($0.09), Israel ($0.11), Kyrgyzstan ($0.21), Italy ($0.43), and Ukraine ($0.46).

Conversely to the most expensive, none of these countries are islands. Further, they all either contain excellent fibre broadband infrastructure (Italy, India, Ukraine, Israel), or in the case of Kyrgyzstan rely heavily on mobile data as the primary means to keep its populace connected to the rest of the world.

This is based on sampling done in Feb 2020

Rank Name Plans measured Average price of 1GB (local currency) Currency Conversion rate (USD) (Frozen 27/04/2020) Average price of 1GB (USD) Cheapest 1GB (Local currency) Cheapest 1GB for 30 days (USD) Most expensive 1GB (Local currency) Most expensive 1GB (USD) Sample date
1 India 60 6.66 INR 0.01 0.09 1.63 0.02 209.09 $2.75 14/02/2020

If you compare the costs to prices in the US, you will notice that Internet (data) is significantly more expensive in the US as opposed to India.

Rank Name Plans measured Average price of 1GB (local currency) Currency Conversion rate (USD) (Frozen 27/04/2020) Average price of 1GB (USD) Cheapest 1GB (Local currency) Cheapest 1GB for 30 days (USD) Most expensive 1GB (Local currency) Most expensive 1GB (USD) Sample date
188 United States 29 8.00 USD 1.00 8.00 2.20 2.20 2.20 $60.00 24/02/2020

The cheap internet data connections in India is completely due to Reliance Jio. Till Jio launched their services in September 2016 the cost for 1GB of data was Rs 249 for 1GB (Airtel/Idea) & Rs. 251 for 1GB (Vodaphone). After Jio launched all other ISP’s starting loosing customers to Jio at an astronomical rate and had to cut prices in order to stay in business. Now, 4 years later we have the cheapest data in the world at ~Rs 6 per GB. 🙂 This proves that healthy competition is the best way to get good service at a competitive pricing. If there was a monopoly then they can choose the pricing as per their desire and since folks don’t have an alternate option they have to use their services.

Check out the full report at: Worldwide mobile data pricing: The cost of 1GB of mobile data in 228 countries.

– Suramya

January 14, 2020

Paris Musées releases Images of 100,000 Artworks to the Public for free

Filed under: Interesting Sites — Suramya @ 1:10 PM

Remember when the Art Institute of Chicago released 52,438 HD art images into the public domain? Paris Musees, a collection of 14 Paris museums, collectively said, “Tiens mon vin” (Hold my wine) and released 100,000 digital reproductions of artworks in the city’s museums as Open Access — free of charge and without restrictions — via its Collections portal. Paris Musées is a public entity that oversees the 14 municipal museums of Paris, including the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Petit Palais, and the Catacombs.

“Making this data available guarantees that our digital files can be freely accessed and reused by anyone or everyone, without any technical, legal or financial restraints, whether for commercial use or not,” reads a press release shared by Paris Musées.

At this stage, images available are of 2D artworks, such as paintings or photographs, that belong in the public sphere under a CC0 (Creative Commons Zero) license, which allows creators and owners of copyrighted or database-protected content to place those works in or as close as possible to the public domain. (Works still in copyright will be available as low definition files, so users can still get a feel for the museums’ collections online.)

It’s nice to see more and more organizations making their work available online for free under CC licenses.

Thanks to Metafilter for the initial link.

– Suramya

January 6, 2020

Using Math to figure out why One Knot Better Than Another

Filed under: Interesting Sites,News/Articles — Suramya @ 3:12 PM

Have you ever wondered why certain knots are more stable than others? Or have you stressed about which knot is the most suitable one to use in your specific usecase and had a disagreement with someone about the best option? If so then fear-not MIT researchers have developed a mathematical model to predict a knot’s stability and now you can argue for your choice with conviction that math supports your choice. From the paper’s abstract:

Knots play a fundamental role in the dynamics of biological and physical systems, from DNA to turbulent plasmas, as well as in climbing, weaving, sailing, and surgery. Despite having been studied for centuries, the subtle interplay between topology and mechanics in elastic knots remains poorly understood. Here, we combined optomechanical experiments with theory and simulations to analyze knotted fibers that change their color under mechanical deformations. Exploiting an analogy with long-range ferromagnetic spin systems, we identified simple topological counting rules to predict the relative mechanical stability of knots and tangles, in agreement with simulations and experiments for commonly used climbing and sailing bends. Our results highlight the importance of twist and writhe in unknotting processes, providing guidance for the control of systems with complex entanglements.

To give some more context, below is an extract from a SciTech Daily Article covering the research. To be honest I had to read the article a few times to understand what they were talking about but it sounded interesting. Not sure how useful it is but is definitely interesting. 🙂

In comparing the diagrams of knots of various strengths, the researchers were able to identify general “counting rules,” or characteristics that determine a knot’s stability. Basically, a knot is stronger if it has more strand crossings, as well as more “twist fluctuations” — changes in the direction of rotation from one strand segment to another.

For instance, if a fiber segment is rotated to the left at one crossing and rotated to the right at a neighboring crossing as a knot is pulled tight, this creates a twist fluctuation and thus opposing friction, which adds stability to a knot. If, however, the segment is rotated in the same direction at two neighboring crossing, there is no twist fluctuation, and the strand is more likely to rotate and slip, producing a weaker knot.

They also found that a knot can be made stronger if it has more “circulations,” which they define as a region in a knot where two parallel strands loop against each other in opposite directions, like a circular flow.

By taking into account these simple counting rules, the team was able to explain why a reef knot, for instance, is stronger than a granny knot. While the two are almost identical, the reef knot has a higher number of twist fluctuations, making it a more stable configuration. Likewise, the zeppelin knot, because of its slightly higher circulations and twist fluctuations, is stronger, though possibly harder to untie, than the Alpine butterfly — a knot that is commonly used in climbing.

The formal paper is published at: Science Mag.
Thanks to Slashdot for the initial link.

– Suramya

September 13, 2019

Apparently knives manufactured from frozen human feces do not work to no one’s surprise

Filed under: Interesting Sites,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 1:58 PM

Let me start this by saying Eww Gross. I have no idea why someone would decide to make a knife out of their own shit but apparently that’s a popular trope in literature. The story goes something like this:

“There is a well known account of an old Inuit man who refused to move into a settlement. Over the objections of his family, he made plans to stay on the ice. To stop him, they took away all of his tools. So in the midst of a winter gale, he stepped out of their igloo, defecated, and honed the feces into a frozen blade, which he sharpened with a spray of saliva. With the knife he killed a dog. Using its rib cage as a sled and its hide to harness another dog, he disappeared into the darkness.”

So a whole bunch of researchers decided to test this story out and basically spent a lot of time freezing crap and then trying to cut things with it. I am really happy that I work with software and if/when I meet any of the scientists in this study I don’t think I will be shaking hands with them 😉 (Yeah, yeah… I know that they don’t touch the stuff with their bare hands but still). Though it is apparently possible though to use frozen feces as a chisel though as shown by the memoir of Peter Freuchen, the Danish arctic explorer. When he was trapped in snow in a pit and unable to get out he used his frozen excrement to make a chisel and get out:

Freuchen (1953) describes how he dug himself a pit to sleep in and woke up trapped by snow. Every effort to get out that he tried failed. Finally, he recalled seeing dog’s excrement frozen solid as a rock. So, Freuchen defecated in his hand, shaped it into a chisel, and waited for it to freeze solid. He then used the implement to free himself from the snow: “I moved my bowels and from the excrement I managed to fashion a chisel-like instrument which I left to freeze… At last I decided to try my chisel and it worked” .

While living off the land with no tools is good and all I would recommend that you try some other ways of making a knife if you actually want to survive instead of freezing your excrement.

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

Source: Science Direct: Experimental replication shows knives manufactured from frozen human feces do not work

– Suramya

August 14, 2019

Sun Plasma & Solar wind recreated in a Lab

Filed under: Interesting Sites,News/Articles — Suramya @ 6:55 PM

It’s safe to say that without the Sun life would not exist on Earth and this fact was known even during ancient times when the Sun was worshiped as a God. Over the years scientific advances allowed us to learn more about the Sun and we figured out that it was a Star and like all stars made up mostly of Hydrogen and other gases. However the temperature there is so hot that most of the gas actually exists as plasma, the fourth state of matter. (This is not the same Plasma as what’s in our blood) To recap, the first state of matter is a Solid, when that is heated it will convert to Liquid state and then to gaseous state. When gas is superheated atoms break apart into charged particles turning it into plasma.

Even though we can see the sun there are a lot of mysteries about how things work in it. For example, we know that Sun has a magnetic field that we think is generated because of the spinning Plasma and this along with the temperature of the plasma creates charged particles that can escape from the Sun’s gravity, which is called Solar Wind and is of great interest because so far, we didn’t know exactly how/why these plasmas escape the sun’s magnetic fields. There are efforts ongoing to directly study the phenomenon directly, for example we have the Parker Solar Probe which was launched in August 2018 which is expected to reach and even dip below the Alfvén surface (The point some distance from the sun’s surface, where the magnetic field weakens and plasma breaks away from the sun) but that is expensive and not always available. Plus we can only observer a limited area at a time due to the sheer size of Space.

So scientists set about trying to recreate the plasma layer & magnetic field in a lab and a research team from University of Wisconsin, Madison has achieved this goal by creating a 3-meter-wide plasma containment chamber called the “Big Red Ball”. In it they placed a permanent magnet about 10 centimeters wide and 10 centimeters long and filled the ball with a plasma made from helium gas and drove an electrical current through it. This created a force on the plasma that made it spin around the dipole. Using this technique, the team was able to successfully re-create the shape of the Parker spiral, as they describe in a paper published today in Nature Physics. With their mini-sun in place, the researchers can take measurements at many points inside the ball, allowing them to study solar phenomena in three dimensions. While this is not a perfect recreation of the sun, it is a significant advancement and will give us a greater understanding of how/why the sun works the way it does.

The experiment was also able to mimic a region around the sun where the plasma hangs in a precarious balance. Within this boundary, plasma’s are contained by magnetic fields, but outside it, centrifugal forces from the sun’s rotation overpower the magnetic fields, and plasmas stream outward. The researchers found that “if you spin [the plasma] hard enough, you can get it to spin out from centrifugal force,” Peterson said. The team believes that the plasma blobs they generated are analogous to those in space that fuel the sun’s slow solar wind.

Some aspects of the model, like the density of the plasma and its proportion of charged and neutral particles, don’t reflect the composition of the real sun’s corona and solar wind. But the experiment is still informative, said Aleida Higginson, a solar physicist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory who works on simulations of the solar wind and was not involved in the study. “We’re talking about lab conditions on Earth versus the sun, so there are obviously going to be some differences. I’m still impressed,” she said. “If they really did get reconnection, and got blobs, I think that’s really cool and promising.”

Overall this is very cool, and I am looking forward to more advances in this area.

Source: Sun’s Puzzling Plasma Recreated in a Laboratory

– Suramya

July 25, 2019

Someone has made a Hurricane Proof House from Recycled Plastic

Filed under: Interesting Sites,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 4:44 PM

Plastic is one of the most popular material for making things and is extremely popular. However there are some significant disadvantages of Plastic that are becoming more and more apparent due to the focus on environment and climate change. Some biggest disadvantages of Plastic are as follows

  • Durability: Plastic is light, mold able, sturdy, and can have countless forms, but one of the most known features is its durability. Plastic can survive for many centuries before nature is able to degrade it
  • Environmental Harm: Since Plastic takes a long time to degrade it continues to clog our waterways, oceans, forests, and other natural habitats. These are consumed by animals who mistake them for food and then die. Recently 9 deer were found dead in a famed park in western Japan after eating plastic bags
  • Choking Hazard: Plastic is one of the most popular building materials for small items. These toys and small plastic objects of many uses can easily get into children’s hands (especially babies and toddlers) that unknowingly put them in their mouth.

So what do we do about it? Banning it is not a great idea till we have replacement options available. For example plastic straws are banned in a lot of places but paper straws don’t last long enough to be useful.

A Canadian company called JD Composites has a potential solution to the problem. They have created a process where they took about 612,000 plastic bottles and shred them. The result is then melted and injected with gas to create a plastic based foam. This foam is them shaped into 5.9 inch thick panels which are then used in house construction. Based on the testing done at a certification facility these panels can withstand winds of over 300 miles per hour (hurricane strength) and as an added bonus they also provide better insulation. If the process becomes mainstream it will keep a large no of bottles (and plastic) out of landfills. While this is a positive step there are still a lot of certifications/studies etc that would need to be done on the process to ensure there are no unexpected side-affects from the process. We don’t want to be in a situation like we were with asbestos where we found out that it causes cancer a few decades after it was put in a large no of homes & offices as insulation.

A sample three bedroom home was created near the Meteghan River in Nova Scotia and is actually up for sale right now. If the builders are unable to find a buyer they are planning to list it on Airbnb and see if that creates enough buzz about the process for it to become mainstream. I hope that this process becomes mainstream quickly so that we can reduce the amount of crap we are putting in the garbage.

Source: This Hurricane Proof House Made From 612,000 Recycled Plastic Bottles Can Withstand 326 MPH Winds

– Suramya

July 17, 2019

Using Machine Learning To Automatically Translate Long-Lost Languages

Filed under: Computer Software,Interesting Sites,My Thoughts,Tech Related — Suramya @ 1:25 PM

Machine Learning has become such a buzz word that any new product or research being released nowadays has to mention ML in it somewhere even though they have nothing to do with it. But this particular usecase is actually very interesting and I am looking forward to more advances in this front. Researchers Jiaming Luo and Regina Barzilay from MIT and Yuan Cao from Google’s AI lab in Mountain View, California have created a machine-learning system capable of deciphering lost languages.

Normally Machine translation programs work by mapping out how words in a given language are related to each other. This is done by processing large amounts of text in the language and creating vector maps on how often each word appears next to every other word for both source and target languages. Unfortunately, this requires a large dataset (text) in the language and that is not possible in case of lost languages, and that’s where the brilliance of this new technique comes in. Focusing on the fact that when languages evolve over time they can only change in certain ways (e.g. related words have the same order of characters etc) they came up with a ruleset for deciphering a language when the parent or child of the language being translated is known.

To test out their theory/process they tried it out with two lost languages, Linear B and Ugaritic. Linguists know that Linear B encodes an early version of ancient Greek and that Ugaritic, which was discovered in 1929, is an early form of Hebrew. After processing the system was able to correctly translate 67.3% of Linear B into their Greek equivalents which is a remarkable achievement and marks a first in the field.

There are still some restrictions with the new algorithm in that it doesn’t work if the progenitor language is not known. But work on the system is ongoing and who knows some new breakthrough might be just around the corner. Plus there is always a brute force approach where the system tries translating a given language using every possible language as the progenitor language. It would require a lot of compute and time but is something to look at as an option.

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

– Suramya

Source: Machine learning has been used to automatically translate long-lost languages

May 27, 2019

Microsoft and Brilliant launch Online Quantum Computing Class that actually looks useful

Quantum computing (QC) is the next big thing and everyone is eager to jump on the bandwagon. So my email & news feeds are usually flooded with articles on how QC will solve all my problems. I don’t deny that there are some very interesting usecases out there that would benefit from Quantum Computers but after a while it gets tiring. That being said I just found out that Microsoft & Brilliant have launched a new interactive course on Quantum Computing that allows you to build quantum algorithms from the ground up with a quantum computer simulated in your browser and I feel its pretty cool and a great initiative. The tutorial enables you to learn Q# which is Microsoft’s answer to the question of which language to use for Quantum computing code. Check it out if you are interested in learning how to code in Q#.

The course starts with basic concepts and gradually introduces you to Microsoft’s Q# language, teaching you how to write ‘simple’ quantum algorithms before moving on to truly complicated scenarios. You can handle everything on the web (including quantum circuit puzzles) and the course’s web page promises that by the end of the course, “you’ll know your way around the world of quantum information, have experimented with the ins and outs of quantum circuits, and have written your first 100 lines of quantum code — while remaining blissfully ignorant about detailed quantum physics.”
Brilliant has more than 8 million students and professionals worldwide learning subjects from algebra to special relativity through guided problem-solving. In partnership with Microsoft’s quantum team, Brilliant has launched an interactive course called “Quantum Computing,” for learning quantum computing and programming in Q#, Microsoft’s new quantum-tuned programming language. The course features Q# programming exercises with Python as the host language (one of our new features!). Brilliant and Microsoft are excited to empower the next generation of quantum computer scientists and engineers and start growing a quantum workforce today.

Starting from scratch

Because quantum computing bridges the fields of information theory, physics, mathematics, and computer science, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Brilliant’s course, integrated with some of Microsoft’s leading quantum development tools, provides self-learners with the tools they need to master quantum computing.
The new quantum computing course starts from scratch and brings students along in a way that suits their schedule and skills. Students can build and simulate simple quantum algorithms on the go or implement advanced quantum algorithms in Q

Once you have gone through the tutorial you should also check out IBM Q that allows you to code on a Quantum computer for free.

– Suramya

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