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Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired. - Jules Renard 

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Technology Development for Indian Languages

Department of Information Technology, Government of India initiated the TDIL (Technology Development for Indian Languages) programme with the objective of developing Information Processing Tools and Techniques to facilitate human-machine interaction without language barrier.
Government is all set to provide the following products and solutions in public domain over the next one year:
1. Free fonts (TTF and OTF) and word processors in all Indian languages.
2. Optical Character recognition (OCR) in all Indian languages for information extraction, retrieval and digitization.
3. Internet access tools for Indian languages like Browsers, Search Engines and email.
4. Speech Interfaces for Systems such as Railway Information, Healthcare, Agriculture, Disaster Management and other public utility services.


I installed the Tamil word editor available in their website and it is pretty decent. I think this is a very good start by GOI in the right direction. Even if few of their above mentioned goals are realized in the immediate future, it will definitely make in a difference in taking IT to the common Bharatvasi.

| posted by Ramki @ 11:22 PM


Important Questions in Science

If you folks noticed, lazydesi has been lazy for the past week. It will remain so for the next week too, because our advisors suddenly woke up and asked us "How come you have not graduated yet?" and we are being forced out of school next week. I have been faking being busy all week long and was teasing my self-imposed "blog block" (and so does Ramki, I think) but I could not resist posting this.

For the next quarter century, the important 125 questions that will be asked in science are listed in a Science magazine special (they are celebrating their 125th year). The top 5 are :

1. What Is the Universe Made Of?
2. What is the Biological Basis of Consciousness?
3. Why Do Humans Have So Few Genes?
4. To What Extent Are Genetic Variation and Personal Health Linked?
5. Can the Laws of Physics Be Unified?

That article must keep you occupied for a week I guess :-)

| posted by Shankar B @ 9:55 PM


Google QR

There are a lot of cool Google tips and hacks floating around, some of which I've mentioned in my weekly e-column. (For example, you can use Google as a dictionary by typing "define:ersatz," or whatever.)

But here's a nice, tidy list of all of them in one place, some of which are new to me. Bookmark this baby!

| posted by Rajan @ 11:26 AM

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Earth is expecting visitors in 2012 !!!

An orderly visit of Extraterrestrial Federation in 2012 representing 88 star constellations – the world is getting ready for the most spectacular event

"The world is getting ready for something spectacular in 2012. According to researchers, the Federation of the Universe representing all the 88 star constellations will officially visit earth in 2012 and reveal themselves. It will bring an end to all UFO cover-ups in various countries.

In many countries all over the world the rumors are floating around that many Governments are being contacted at this time slowly to announce their presence and coming official visit."




[Via Jwalkblog]

| posted by Ramki @ 7:43 PM

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Onion in 2056

Onion - dubbed as America's finest news source is a very funny spoof website on news and current affairs.
See how Onion will be in 2056. Also refer to our earlier post on Onion and Squooshy pineapple.

| posted by Ramki @ 9:51 PM

Friday, June 24, 2005

Scary News about DFW Airport

Air traffic controllers in the DFW airport were regularly hiding potential mishaps and did not report it to the higher ups. Almost no action was taken either to prevent or to reduce the risk of planes getting very close to each other on takeoff or landing. A whistleblower from the DFW airport has now spilt the beans : a Star Telegram story and a NY Times story .

Scary indeed.

| posted by Shankar B @ 3:11 PM


Unclear on American Campus: What the Foreign Teacher Said - New York Times

Unclear on American Campus: What the Foreign Teacher Said - New York Times: "Valerie Serrin still remembers vividly her anger and the feeling of helplessness. After getting a C on a lab report in an introductory chemistry course, she went to her teaching assistant to ask what she should have done for a better grade.

The teaching assistant, a graduate student from China, possessed a finely honed mind. But he also had a heavy accent and a limited grasp of spoken English, so he could not explain to Ms. Serrin, a freshman at the time, what her report had lacked.

'He would just say, 'It's easy, it's easy,' ' said Ms. Serrin, who recently completed her junior year at the University of California, Berkeley. 'But it wasn't easy. He was brilliant, absolutely brilliant, but he couldn't communicate in English.'

Ms. Serrin's experience is hardly unique. With a steep rise in the number of foreign graduate students in the last two decades, undergraduates at large research universities often find themselves in classes and laboratories run by graduate teaching assistants whose mastery of English is less than complete."

| posted by Rajan @ 6:49 AM

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Mira Nair to make Gangsta MD (remake of munnabhai)

Nair changes pace and mood next spring to begin filming Gangsta MD, a caper about an African-American boy who lives a double life as a 'fake' doctor and a gangster.Gangsta MD, which is being written by Jason Filardi (Bringing Down The House) is inspired by a Bollywood film Munnabhai MBBS. Nair says she plans to cast Chris Tucker in the lead role, and some Indian actors - Gangsta MD's love interest, she says, will be an Indian girl. Also in the works are a sequel to the immensely successful Monsoon Wedding to be shot in Pakistan, and a film set in the crisis in the Middle East.

[ BBC article]



| posted by Rajan @ 8:09 PM


Housing Market Bubble

Buying a house has always been considered a safe option. After all, house is a safer investment compared to shares : the housing market doesn't crash very fast, and you can't sell off houses very easily, so everyone assumes that there will be enough time to bail out. However, what happens when the house market bubble busts. Many countries are seeing a slow but very steady decrease in the housing values.

There is a significant difference between these two investments : people tend to borrow for buying a home much more often than they do so for buying stock and low interest rates have encouraged home buyers to do so. Also, very low inflation rates that are prevalent now result in little appreciation of the property value. A beautiful Economist article on the worldwide housing market explains what is in store for house buyers everywhere around the world.



Another relevant Economist article.

| posted by Shankar B @ 4:48 PM


Gender Equality ??

The Formula One president and CEO : "You know I've got one of those wonderful ideas ... women should be dressed in white like all the other domestic appliances." [article ]

Is it so difficult to NOT think of women as incapable ?? Men are incapable of so many things women are capable of. How come that is not commented on. Can such changes come within a single generation ? I guess not. It needs a lot of changes in the social and economic spheres of life. With the changes happening in Asia I hope social engineers can bring about some other changes in addition to the  economic ones.

[via http://brutalwomen.blogspot.com]

| posted by Rajan @ 6:52 AM

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Another kid invents an airport device ignored by adults

Apparently, the adults responsible for airport safety are so busy developing sophisticated and silly devices, they're leaving it to kids to come up with the obvious ones. A while back, an Eagle Scout in the US created a shoe scanner that interested people at Chicago's O'Hare airport. Now, a 12-year-old boy in Scotland has invented a device to monitor airport runways and notify pilots of debris that could interfere with landings and cause crashes. Basically, it's a camera mounted on a little platform with wheels, which rolls along the side of the runway. Folks at the British Airport Authority like the idea so much, they're working with the kid (and presumably some adults) to flesh it out into an actual product. Perhaps the young inventor is a precocious wunderkind, but you have to wonder what the adults have been doing all this time. The kid was inspired by the Concorde crash of 2000, which was supposedly caused by debris puncturing one of the plane's tires.

Aren't grad students kids too????

| posted by Ramki @ 11:18 PM


Virtual Immersion

A man plays into his real-self in a game :


| posted by Shankar B @ 11:08 PM


War of the Worlds

The movie is going to be released soon, the links below are related :

1. A web comic of War of the Worlds updated every week.


2. A story about H. G. Wells' political views.

| posted by Shankar B @ 11:00 PM


Geek TV Channel

Finally, a TV channel that is dedicated for geeks : the research channel. Most of the programs are from universities. This TV channel has simultaneous online broadcast (though many shows are repeated). From the website :


ResearchChannel is a consortium of research universities and corporate research divisions dedicated to broadening the access to and appreciation of our individual and collective activities, ideas, and opportunities in basic and applied research.

One of the major goals of ResearchChannel is to use program content creation and manipulation processes as testing medium for analog and digital broadcast and on-demand multimedia offerings, thus providing an unusual opportunity to experiment with new methods of distribution and interaction on a global basis.

For our many viewers on cable, direct broadcast satellite, and the Internet, ResearchChannel is the C-SPAN of scientific and medical research.

| posted by Shankar B @ 10:56 PM


Rip-Off

An inside view at management consultancies :

Who are management consultants? What power do they have? How can they charge so many millions for their services? Do they really deliver any value? Why do organisations use them? How can some organisations pay tens of millions and even hundreds of millions of euros or dollars or pounds year after year to their favourite management consultancies?

At last, an insider takes the lid off Management Consulting and reveals how too often it has become a licence to take almost unlimited quantities of clients' money. In Rip-Off! - The scandalous inside story of the management consulting money machine, the author shows that there can sometimes be truly great management consultancy. However, he also reveals how most of the world's major Management Consultancies have become enormous factories churning out thousands of almost identical "vanilla" consultants, whose time must be sold to clients, whether clients have problems to be solved or not.


The book is available in Amazon for $15.

| posted by Shankar B @ 10:54 PM


Films Division-India

Remember all those nice cartoons like "Ek Chidiya", "Village Level crossing story", "Baloon's story"; all the news reels that used to be shown in Doordarshan and the nice National Integration songs that used to be telecast on DD... Well, all of them and many more videos are available from the Indian Films Division website.



The option to view the videos is not immediately available in the website. Select "Search" and within each category/option, you can see the different formats of the videos(wmv,realplayer etc) for viewing!

These videos really reminded me of my childhood days. Hope u also enjoy these videos! :-)

| posted by Ramki @ 4:14 AM


Bush Pilot

Wish Dubya's (and every leader's) head were not just a cockpit like this ;-)

| posted by Ramki @ 3:32 AM


A New Dictionary

A dictionary that displays the definition as it's typed in real-time. Each character narrows the possible matches until your term is defined.

| posted by Ramki @ 3:29 AM

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Jack Kilby - RIP

Integrated Circuits inventor Jack Kilby, 81, died of cancer on 20 June 2005. His profile is in this TI page. He is survived by two daughters and 5 grandchildren. May he rest in peace.

| posted by Shankar B @ 3:01 PM


Science creates sperm and eggs

Cells from human embryos are being used to develop human eggs and sperm that might eventually lead to the development of a human life in a laboratory .

The research was presented yesterday at the annual meeting of the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology in Copenhagen.

Two research teams have announced similar findings – one from Melbourne's Monash Immunology and Stem Cell Laboratories and the other from Sheffield University in England.

| posted by Ramki @ 12:49 AM

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Moon Illusion

A full moon looks larger closer to the horizon and smaller as it rises. This can be seen with the naked eye : but it's all in your mind. Such a difference in size is seen only by the naked eye and not by cameras. This is called the moon illusion. This NASA page tries to explain why.





This year, the full moon hangs the lowest since 1987 : the full moon day is the day after the Summer solstice (which is on Tuesday 21 June) and this illusion is most pronounced only from the northern hemisphere. Check the NASA page for moonrise timings to see the effect in full glory. A small experiment at the end of the page shows how you can prove its an illusion.

| posted by Shankar B @ 9:42 PM


Father's Day Special

A bicycle spill threw Michelle Lopez off a cliff through woods and rocks. Her father did what a brave father would : Mike Lopez jumped 150 ft off the cliff to save her.









He rolled on the slope like a pinball and was with his daughter before he knew it, with just a few cuts and scrapes. The father then helped the daughter walk slowly up the cliff and after one hour they were met by an emergency crew. The daughter considers Mike her superhero. The humble father commented "I'm not at all a hero. I think I just did what any loving parent would have done for their child." Mike Lopez was bound to Iraq but delayed his trip because of his daughter's injuries. The daughter is back at home for Father's Day.

| posted by Shankar B @ 2:48 PM


Funny Videos

An awesome show (spoof of a magic show). I could not find more details about the artists though!
Russian Candid-camera
Paris Hilton ad (NSFW)

| posted by Ramki @ 3:32 AM


Airline to shutdown engines to save money :-)

In yet another cost-cutting move, Northwest Airlines said it would shut down one engine on each of its flights within the continental United States.

| posted by Ramki @ 3:14 AM


Some Followup Stories

The following stories are followup to some older stories that were written on LazyDesi.

A followup to the Michael Jackson story : Insult, the comic dog from Conan's show, conducting a no-holds-barred interview of Jackson fans. Very funny and at times very vulgar language use.

Followup to justice department sleeping with the tobacco industry : Senior officials from the justice department asked the defense council to underplay the penalties.

Followup to Brazil's energy policy story : Brazilians are saving money by switching to their newer fuel.

| posted by Shankar B @ 12:37 AM

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Google Wallet in the offing, soon..

Is there anything Google won't eventually launch on its own? Wall Street Journal and Reuters are reporting that Google is getting close to launching a PayPal-wannabe payment system , nicknamed Google Wallet (not quite as fun as "G-Money" would be). The rumor is based on a panel discussion where an e-commerce consultant said some of his clients had been approached by Google about using such a system. Of course, Yahoo had their own PayPal wannabe for a while, called PayDirect, that they eventually shut down after no one used it. Even eBay had their own PayPal wannabe that no one used before buying PayPal. Despite that, Google certainly seems to be pretty good at getting people to adopt their offerings -- and if they can really improve on the PayPal experience, a lot of pent-up frustration directed at PayPal could drive plenty of users to the Google solution.

[Via Techdirt]

| posted by Ramki @ 2:10 PM


Sanskrit invocation in MIT Commencement

I guess this month is commencement month in many leading Universities and each of them seems to be making some news or the other.

This week's story: 'Massachussets grads go vedic at convocation':

 Sanskrit hymns reverberated across America's premier Massachussets Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, when over 2,000 students chanted the sacred words during their graduation ceremony.
  MIT's Hindu Chaplain Swami Tyagananda offered an invocation in Sanskrit and in English that reflected the large international crowd's spirit of unity and goodwill as 2,308 men and women received 1,107 undergraduate and 1,464 graduate degrees at the 139th MIT commencement exercises, the institute said in a report on its website.
  Also Swami Vivekananda's works were quoted during the June 3 ceremony.

More on the story from Rediff and Indiainfo. Do International newspapers ever cover such stories??? Just wondering !!!

| posted by Ramki @ 1:45 PM


20 Questions

20Q.net - Play 20 Questions against the computer with this artificial intelligence version of Twenty Questions. "Everything that it knows and all questions that it asks were entered by people playing the Game." (The computer is well trained. Try real tough ones and you will be surprised with how it narrows it down).

  • Game theory suggests that the information (as measured by Shannon's entropy statistic) required to identify an arbitrary object is about 20 bits. The game is often used as an example when teaching people about information theory . Mathematically, if each question is structured to eliminate half the objects, twenty questions will allow the questioner to distinguish between 220 or 1,048,576 objects. Accordingly, the most effective strategy for Twenty Questions is to ask questions that will split the field of remaining possibilities roughly in half each time. The process is analogous to a binary tree search algorithm in computer science.


  • | posted by Rajan @ 1:17 PM

    Friday, June 17, 2005

    Wacky British News

    A secretary spilt ketchup on a senior associate of the law firm Baker & McKenzie. Richard Phillips, the associate whose pants were stained, took it to the laundry and got it cleaned for £4. What he did next is wacky : he emailed the secretary asking her to refund him for the expense. Like what any polite secretary must do, she promptly forwarded that to many people and you can predict what happened next.

    Spilling : Oops. Asking to pay up : Foolish. Forwarding to the whole company : Priceless.

    | posted by Shankar B @ 11:16 PM


    Only dead scientists are known to teens

    British teens seem to be out of touch with modern science. Very few of them can name any great living scientist. I took this quiz in guardian only to find out that I am not far too behind. You can follow up the quiz with this article .

    | posted by raj @ 10:02 AM


    Football scores with networks

    Football scores with networks: "A senior Nimbus official confirmed the bid amount. 'Many eyebrows might be raised but there's no denying that we have bid Rs 504 crore. Make no mistake, we have specific plans. But I can't divulge anything more at the moment. We're waiting for the AIFF's verdict,' he said.

    | posted by Rajan @ 7:39 AM

    Thursday, June 16, 2005

    Mukhtaran Bibi all set to visit U.S

    Following up with the news posted couple of days back.
    Link

    "Under pressure from Washington, the Pakistani government on Wednesday lifted its travel restrictions on Mukhtar Mai, whose gang-rape and its aftermath set off worldwide outrage at the treatment of women in Pakistan.

    Mukhtar Mai, also known as Mukhtaran Bibi, was to visit the United States last week at the invitation of human rights groups, but she found her name on the government's list of people barred from traveling abroad. The restriction met with bitter protests from human rights advocates, here and abroad, as well as objections from the State Department."

    | posted by raj @ 9:06 PM


    Intel may invest in India testing plant | CNET News.com

    Intel may invest in India testing plant | CNET News.com: "Intel manufactures its chips in plants located in the United States, Israel and Ireland, stable countries with fairly extensive electrical and utility systems--key factors chip companies examine in determining where to build a fab. (Local tax breaks are the other big factor.) Because most fab operations are controlled by robots, low labor costs are typically a minor consideration in this decision.

    By contrast, labor costs are a greater consideration in testing and assembly facilities, which are more low-tech. As a result, Intel has located most of these in developing nations such as Costa Rica, Malaysia and China, among others.

    Testing and assembly facilities also cost less than fabs, which can cost $3 billion to build.

    Indian officials had lobbied Intel to build a fab in India. The country is also trying to woo more hardware manufacturers to build in India, putting the nation in competition with China and Taiwan.

    No major manufacturer has a fab in the country, although a Korean entrepreneur has laid plans to create a foundry in Hyderabad, according to sources. To help build India's chip-manufacturing industry, the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay has created course curriculum around semiconductor design that it currently is trying to port to other universities, according to Sunil Sherlekar, the head of the embedded-systems group at Tata Consultancy Services."

    | posted by Rajan @ 9:29 AM

    Wednesday, June 15, 2005

    'Mactel' Desktops May Offer Triple-Threat OS

    'Mactel' Desktops May Offer Triple-Threat OS: "While Apple developers initially looked upon Apple's choice to move to Intel processors with mixed feelings, the ability of the new Macs to also run Windows-a practice long since adopted by some Mac users who run virtualization software such as Microsoft Virtual PC-may be the fulcrum for the company to gain some new customers, ranging from computer enthusiasts to businesses.

    So far Apple hasn't discouraged the idea of running Windows on its forthcoming Intel gear. Meanwhile, Microsoft, sources familiar with the company's plans said, is considering how and whether to support Windows on the forthcoming Apple hardware as well."

    | posted by Rajan @ 11:47 PM


    Readers - Step up and Identify Yourself

    Lazy Desi has been an underground website whose readership comprises many lurkers that we don't know about and many friends who drop in frequently. Some of the readers are victims to extreme soliciting from our Sales Department a.k.a Holla and probably know/are known to everyone here. However, some of you are from the alma-mater, orkut gang or such, of one of us. We would like to know if any of you maintain personal blogs and if so we would like to blogroll you. What we need from you is the following :

    1. Name;
    2. Blog's Name and URL;
    3. A brief description of what your blog is about;
    4. How frequently you update it - or try to at the least :-)
    5. If you want to specify, how you came across Lazy Desi;

    We would also like to get comments about the website content, design or anything else that flashes your mind. Bring on your brickbats and/or bouquets.

    Leave your details in the comments section. Friends of Lazy Desi, or FoLD as we would like to call it, will be on a separate HTML page or a sidebar with links to your blogs. We will update the page with blogrolls by the end of this month. We will try and maintain this post at the top of the page so that you don't have to disinter it.

    | posted by Shankar B @ 4:27 PM


    Smart Replies

    Hum: I'm a photographer I've been looking for a face like yours!
    Tum: I'm a plastic surgeon. I've been looking for a face like yours!

    Hum: May I have the pleasure of this dance?
    Tum: No, I'd like to have some pleasure too!

    Hum: How did you get to be so beautiful?
    Tum: I must have been given your share!

    Hum: Will you come out with me this Saturday?
    Tum: Sorry! I'm having a headache this weekend!

    Hum: Go on, don't be shy. Ask me out!
    Tum: Okay, get out!

    Hum: I think I could make you very happy.
    Tum: Why? Are you leaving?

    Hum: What would you say if I asked u to marry me?
    Tum: Nothing. I can't talk and laugh at the same time!

    Hum: Can I have your name?
    Tum: Why, don't you already have one?

    Hum: Shall we go and see a film?
    Tum: I've already seen it!

    Hum: Do you think it was fate that brought us together?
    Tum: Nah, it was plain bad luck!

    Hum: Where have you been all my life?
    Tum: Hiding from you.

    Hum: Haven't I seen you someplace before?
    Tum: Yes, thats why I don't go there anymore.

    Hum: Is this seat empty?
    Tum: Yes, and this one will be if you sit down.

    Hum: So, what do you do for a living?
    Tum: I'm a female impersonator.

    Hum: Hey baby, what's your sign?
    Tum: Do not enter.

    | posted by Shankar B @ 4:16 PM


    Comedy Gem From Daily Show

    Daily Show is a goofy news outlet that airs on the Comedy Central channel. Jon Stewart is the host of the show. The reporters and interviews they do are wonderful : they fake the way the "media" does it. One of the comedy gems is from the recent Michael Jackson trial and how the media reacted to it. There was so much media frenzy that CNN had headlines (both on their website and their news channel) on Monday that the jury has decided on a verdict - not the verdict itself, but the jury being ready with it. The first segment of the video captures similar frenzy in the other outlets.

    In the second segment of the video, Jon Stewart talks to his field reporter Stephen Colbert, who is the "flavor of the day" expert. Watch the video, its pretty darn funny.

    [Via BB]

    | posted by Shankar B @ 9:10 AM

    Tuesday, June 14, 2005

    +ve Attracts -ve

    HIV +ve and -ve that is. In Gujarat, matrimonial ads placed in India by HIV +ve men has, much to their surprise, attracted proposals from HIV -ve women. Reasons are multifold : the need for a partner, support or in many cases, even financial security. Such women are mostly from middle or lower classes, include divorcees, widows and professionals. Gaurang Jani, a leading sociologist from Ahmedabad says "There are a lot of factors, many of them which can be linked to financial stability that the women might be actually looking for. However, the fact remains that such cases of negative women getting married to HIV positive men are now on a rise."

    | posted by Shankar B @ 10:25 PM


    Raped, Kidnapped and Silenced - New York Times

    Raped, Kidnapped and Silenced - New York Times: "I've been sympathetic to Mr. Musharraf till now, despite his nuclear negligence, partly because he's cooperated in the war on terrorism and partly because he has done a good job nurturing Pakistan's economic growth, which in the long run is probably the best way to fight fundamentalism. So even when Mr. Musharraf denied me visas all this year, to block me from visiting Ms. Mukhtaran again and writing a follow-up column, I bit my tongue.

    But now President Musharraf has gone nuts.

    'This is all because they think they have the support of the U.S. and can get away with murder,' Ms. Jahangir said. Indeed, on Friday, just as all this was happening, President Bush received Pakistan's foreign minister in the White House and praised President Musharraf's 'bold leadership.'

    So, Mr. Bush, how about asking Mr. Musharraf to focus on finding Osama, instead of kidnapping rape victims who speak out? And invite Ms. Mukhtaran to the Oval Office - to show that Americans stand not only with generals who seize power, but also with ordinary people of extraordinary courage."

    | posted by Rajan @ 9:13 PM


    Google Toolbar bundled with WinZip

    In a marketing tactic used primarily by spyware and adware companies, Google has begun bundling its Google Toolbar and Desktop Search software with the popular WinZip archive utility. The move comes as Google begins to expand its bundling effort with a number of leading software applications. [ article ]

    | posted by Rajan @ 3:49 PM


    Interactive Video

    In this interactive video (quicktime required), click wherever there is a glow and make a girl play with her dolls. Different clicks lead you to different storylines. Have the sound on. The video is not fot the light hearted.

    From the website :





    Enter a child's play house and sit down. A small girl appears. Engage with her at your own risk.

    Play With Me is an interactive installation that uses stop-motion animation and sound to create an uncertain reality. Events quickly escalate away from the viewer's control and a terrible scene unfolds.


    This is creepy. The homepage has more videos by the group, one of which won the Short Film Special Mention in Cannes Film Festival. Interesting link : Making of Clara.

    [Via RMIT]

    | posted by Shankar B @ 1:21 PM


    Drop out of college says Steve Jobs

    "Your time is limited so don't let it be wasted living someone else's life," Jobs said to a packed stadium of Stanford graduates , alumni and family during their annual commencement yesterday.

    | posted by Ramki @ 2:02 AM

    Monday, June 13, 2005

    Smokin !!! China Turns the Clock Back by 40 Years

    Two thirds of the men smoke in China. 90% of the men believe that smoking isn't harmful. They have a trusted source after all : their government. Annual sales of 1.8 trillion cigarettes is very lucrative, especially so when the state owns 99% of the current market.

    The government websites encourage smoking :
    cigarettes are a kind of miracle drug : solving your health problems, helping your lifestyle, strengthening the equality of women, and even eliminating loneliness and depression.


    This disinformation and a terrible lack of public education programs to discourage smoking has set China to have the most smoking related deaths by 2025.

    Western companies are taking notice too. Compliance to WTO rules will let China open up the tobacco industry to foreign companies : they are ready to drill a hole to China through their countrymen's pockets.

    In a related story, US federal prosecutors did an about-turn on the ongoing tobacco industry case. They diluted the $5 billion for 25 years settlement to $2 billion a year for 5 years. The prosecutors have a very convincing argument : "... (they) tried to put the focus on future smokers who might become hooked if cigarette makers continue their alleged racketeering." What was meant for education and rehabilitation is now thinned down to educating future smokers about the ill effects of smoking. I bet a Lincoln on whose pockets got full here.

    [First link via China Study Group].

    | posted by Shankar B @ 1:32 AM

    Sunday, June 12, 2005

    Solutions to MATHCOUNT Puzzles

    Last week, I posted a few sample problems from the MATHCOUNTS competition that is held for middle school kids. The answers and the solutions to the sample questions are in the comments section. Since nobody posted the solutions or answers in the comments section in the original post, I thought I can post the solutions as a separate post. If you are still solving it and were about to post it, my apologies to you.

    The solutions are my own. If you think anything is wrong in the arguments and if you have different/better solutions, post them in the comments section.

    If you want to solve the problems on your own and then compare solutions/answers, go to the original post first.

    | posted by Shankar B @ 4:54 PM


    Another Essay on Writing

    I am posting an essay on writing in the comments section. It is by a famous author. Can you find out when it was written and if possible by whom without looking up on the web? I will post the author's name in the comments section after 3 days.

    Hint : Watch the words.

    | posted by Shankar B @ 3:23 PM


    50 Writing Tips

    Writers, take notice. Put the verbs and the subjects at the beginning of a sentence. Use the verbs in their simple past or simple present form. Avoid adverbs. Use active voice to show emphasis. These and many more tips to budding journalists, complete with detailed examples and homework (I hear shrugs), is available here. I feel that the tips are helpful to anyone who does a significant amount of writing.

    Every tip is in a separate HTML page. I wish there is a single downloadable PDF of these pages. If I make one, I will share it here.

    | posted by Shankar B @ 3:07 PM


    Macintel

    The new developments in the Apple world has everyone startled. Apple going with Intel has created ripples in the industry, nobody is quite sure what the future holds for Macs with this new development. But being the maverick he is, Steve Jobs must at something to come up with this plan.

    http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/06/12/business/apple.php

    --Holla

    | posted by HollaMan @ 6:36 AM


    Draw-space

    An interesting flash..


    [Via brainblog]

    | posted by Ramki @ 12:53 AM


    Men's room Monologue

    Very creative, humorous depiction of the plight of public bathrooms.

    | posted by Ramki @ 12:43 AM

    Saturday, June 11, 2005

    We Didn't Start the Fire

    Billy Joel's hit "We didn't start the fire" was a collection of historical events that happened since his birth. I used to wonder about some of the historical references. Now BBC has descriptions for the collection of events that the song is about. Here it is.

    Another illustrated version of the song along with the music is here.

    | posted by Shankar B @ 10:59 PM


    A Distant Hydrogen Economy

    Warning: The Hydrogen Economy May Be More Distant Than It Appears - Popular Science: "Unlike internal combustion engines, hydrogen fuel cells do not emit carbon dioxide. But extracting hydrogen from natural gas, today’s primary source, does. And wresting hydrogen from water through electrolysis takes tremendous amounts of energy. If that energy comes from power plants burning fossil fuels, the end product may be clean hydrogen, but the process used to obtain it is still dirty.

    Once hydrogen is extracted, it must be compressed and transported, presumably by machinery and vehicles that in the early stages of a hydrogen economy will be running on fossil fuels. The result: even more C02. In fact, driving a fuel cell car with hydrogen extracted from natural gas or water could produce a net increase of CO2 in the atmosphere."

    | posted by Rajan @ 10:40 PM

    Friday, June 10, 2005

    Ram caught on the wrong foot

    A French shoe manufacturer, which enraged Hindus by selling designer shoes with images of Lord Ram, has taken the product off shelves.

    The Hindu Forum of Britain has asked Hindus worldwide to boycott all French goods and participate en masse in the protest rally outside the French embassy in London on Sunday.

    The forum has also asked Hindus to stop flying by Air France and write to the International Olympic Committee suggesting that the selection of Paris as a venue for the 2012 Olympics 'will not be' in keeping with the ethos of human rights and religious freedom.



    Apparantly it is not the first time that American and European companies have tried to use images of Hindu Gods to promote their product. Watch this slideshow from Indiatimes which lists few such instances in the past and how the companies reacted to Hindu protests.

    Following are images from the slide show:






    Ganesha Beer

    Holy Bikini!

    Sacred Seat

    Its interesting to see how all the companies reacted to the protests from a billion strong Hindu market.

    | posted by Ramki @ 6:11 PM


    Meet your meat

    CAUTION: This video link is not for the light-hearted. It shows the pathetic state of treatment of animals in animal farms and slaughter houses. The Video is even gruesome than Taliban videos of humans being beheaded. I strongly recommend all the light-hearted to look at other entries in lazydesi.

    Man is indeed on top of the food chain. But watching this video made me think that there should be Dinosaurs or godzillas trying out all these acts on the human kind as well. Greed for the money coming from animal meat has really made Man a ruthless animal!

    Make sure you watch this video in full-screen mode. PETA-TV is an online animal rights television channel.

    [Thanks Lad]

    | posted by Ramki @ 5:56 PM


    30 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do on the Internet

    The Web is learning new tricks every day. These surprising sites and services will help you solve problems and save time--and one might even make you a star.

    | posted by Ramki @ 12:16 PM


    Norwegian Informatics Olympiad

    One day, little Toby decided to visit RIM (Research Institute of Mathematics). As he knocked on one of the doors, he found a scatterbrained mathematician who was mumbling for himself something like: "100110 is 1*(-2)^5 + 0*(-2)^4 + 0*(-2)^3 + 1*(-2)^2 + 1*(-2)^1 + 0*(-2)^0, i.e. -30". Suddenly the mathematician noticed Toby, got very scared, ran away, and locked himself in the hydrant. read on

    Interesting small programming challenges like the one above and their solutions are available at the Norwegian Informatics Olympiad website.

    [Via Jan's diary]

    | posted by Ramki @ 12:11 PM


    A Puzzle

    You have two eggs and a 100 story building. You have to find out which floor of the building if you drop an egg it would break. The eggs break in such a way that if it breaks at floor k, it breaks at all floors from k to 100, and will not break till k-1. Egg can break in the very first floor or not break at all. What is your best strategy for finding out this floor? Remember, you are not given this floor information a-priori. Both eggs can be broken at the end of this search.

    Can you give a simple formula for the number of steps that you will require?

    [Thanks Ramki]

    | posted by Shankar B @ 12:07 PM


    Redefining the Kilogram and Meter

    Scientists from the U.S., Britain and France have proposed that the kilogram, a random measure officially represented by a cylinder of metal housed at the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures near Paris, be replaced by a more precise measure based on natural phenomena like a quantity of light or atoms.

    The proposal has precedence -- the other six of the seven basic units of the international measurement system are defined by natural phenomena. The second, for instance, is defined as 9,192,631,770 cesium atom oscillations, while the meter is defined as the distance light travels in a vacuum in a 299,792,458th of a second. In contrast to these unchanging definitions that can theoretically be measured anywhere, the kilogram cylinder, a physical object available only a single physical location, is subject to slight mass changes due to contamination or surface loss.

    In other precision-measurement news, physicists, engineers and statisticians at the National Institute of Standards and Technology are nearing the end of a four-year effort to provide standard rulers for the extremely small. The rulers use the spacing of atoms within silicon crystals to measure the dimensions of structures as tiny as the individual logic gates of microprocessors. The new rulers are accurate to within 2 nanometers -- about the span of 20 hydrogen atoms.
    [Via Smalley's Research Watch]

    | posted by Ramki @ 11:45 AM


    Supply Chain of a laptop

    Many of us, who have ordered HP or DELL laptops get it shipped from Shangai. Take a look at the bigger picture and try to decide where exactly parts of your laptop were manufactured.

    [Image source WSJ]

    | posted by Ramki @ 11:29 AM

    Thursday, June 09, 2005

    Neural Plasticity

    Brain is a very plastic organ : it can learn new things and organize itself for things it was not intended to be. These guys are taking it to the extreme :




    On June 8, three volunteers will be hooked up to electronics that will give them new sensory powers. For two days, they will adapt to life as a cyborg. One cyborg will feel magnetism. A second will "see" the world through a robot's artificial eye. The third will sense metal objects hidden behind walls.

    "The devices are cunningly simple, hacked together from mobile phone vibrators, burglar alarm spares, metal detectors and so on," says Ms Angliss.


    Are we going to get the directional sense of birds and detect small changes in temperature like sharks? This can also make immersive systems a reality and can be a boost to gaming industry. I, for one, welcome the cyborgs.

    [Via Mindhacks], a blog that is maintained by the authors of the namesake book. I am itching to get my hands on the book.

    | posted by Shankar B @ 5:01 PM


    God Gets a Helping Hand from Man

    A thief entered a low-security (no security actually) Peninusla Temple Shalom in San Fransisco and did away with one of their precious possessions : a torah. These torahs are not simple to make or copy : a new Torah must be meticulously copied from an existing scroll by a trained scribe, who pronounces each Hebrew letter aloud -- for accuracy -- before writing it on squares of animal skin. The pieces are later sewn together and reeled onto giant wooden rollers. It takes almost an year to make a new torah and a single letter that is destroyed makes the torah unusable.

    Also, Judaic law enforces that not a single character can be added to the 304K+ letters in the torah, hence no serial number or stamps, hence no trace if it gets lost. When a spate of thefts in the 70's and 80's shocked the Jewish council, they did not turn to God to bring the torahs back, they turned to Man - to be precise, his technology. The council created a Universal Torah Registry, the system works like this: A synagogue mails in a form with their contact information and the number of Torahs they want to place in the system, and the registry sends back a computer-coded template for each scroll. The 3.5- by 8-inch template resembles an IBM punch card, with eight holes arranged so their position relative to one another describes a unique identification number in a proprietary code. This template is perforated into the sides of the scroll and that is a unique identifier for every torah.

    Read more details and rest of the story in this Wired column.

    | posted by Shankar B @ 12:25 PM

    Wednesday, June 08, 2005

    Laloo Lookalike

    A Mumbai based company has made a doll that looks like Laloo. It sells for Rs. 144 and seems to be a hit in Bihar.




    This actually reminds me of the figurine of George's mother that he freaks about in Seinfeld.

    | posted by Shankar B @ 7:05 PM


    Inside a Tornad-Oh

    A National Geographic Exclusive : Last June 11, Tim Samaras and two colleagues did the near impossible - they chased down a tornado and placed a probe with video cameras directly in its path. Beginning at precisely 2:23 p.m. the team caught images that have - in a breakthrough—made it possible to calculate wind speeds close to the ground, where tornadoes rip through human lives. Even after his team found the tornado and drove along a dirt road in Iowa to a place they were fairly certain lay in its path, Samaras remained unsure of where exactly he should leave the probe. He stood watching the tornado boil toward him, then, at the last second, he jogged over, hefted the 80-pound (40-kilogram) probe, and shifted it 40 feet (10 meters) to the north. Samaras guessed right: The eye passed just 10 feet (three meters) from the probe, giving the cameras the closest ever view of the fierce winds turning just off the ground around a tornado's center.




    Inside a Tornado


    The video footage is amazing and eerie. The probe had 7 cameras, 6 on the side each with 60 degrees of viewing angle and one on the top. I read somewhere else that one of the cameras was damaged and the footage is only from 6 of the 7 cameras. Pretty cool storm chasing indeed.

    More footage of a different tornado is here.

    | posted by Shankar B @ 5:31 PM


    Eric Schmidt @ UCB

    Dr. Eric Schmidt (M.S.'79, Ph.D.'82 EECS), the CEO of Google was the commencement speaker at Berkeley :


    Eric began his talk on Technology, Leadership and Passion (link to video) by acknowledging the "awesome debt I owe to Berkeley," recounting that almost everything he has accomplished in the 29 years since he left Berkeley is derived from what he learned on our campus. Eric urged our new graduates to take risks, make mistakes, and look to one another for support:

    "When you think of what you are going to do, when you take the wonderful skills that you have and this amazing platform your predecessors have built for you, do it in the context of what is most essentially human, the good things about humanity, things that matter. Devote yourself to making the world a very, very much better place. You will be able to do it."

    [ More berkeley multimedia]

    | posted by Rajan @ 3:43 PM


    Shortcut to Exam Success

    Bob's third cousin runs over Bob's father when he is walking his family dog Skippy and they both die. Bob's mother is pissed off and shoots the cousin. All this happens on Bob's exam day because of which he develops a headache. If he is brave enough to go and take a test that day, he gets 15% extra marks for the exam. The conditions are that Bob must be from UK and must be writing A-level exams (thats higher secondary equivalent). This is how it works : Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) represents England's three main exam authorities and they have decided to give extra points to students who are stressed on their exam day for the following :

    1. Recent death of parent or close relative - 5%
    2. Recent death of distant family member - 4%
    3. Witness to distressing event on day of exam - 3%
    4. Hay fever - 2%
    5. Death of family pet on day of exam - 2%
    6. Pet dies day before exam - 1%
    7. Headache - 1%

    These extra points are seen as "a way of compensating a candidate who has been genuinely adversely affected by a situation beyond their control."

    Recently, Tamil Nadu cancelled all entrance exams to professional degrees for plain political reasons (the whole episode is a story in itself). I was sitting here wondering "[sh]it happens only in India" and now I see this from UK.

    How did they quantify anguish to 5% for parents death and 2% for pets death? How do you prove that there was such a problem on the day of exam? Who decides whether these extra marks must actually be given or not? How can you ensure it is fair? This scheme is a low hanging fruit waiting to be abused.

    I think Einstein was on the dot when he said " Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the the universe."

    Some relevant PDF documents from JCQ :

    1. Special Consideration
    2. Complete document covering adjustments in exams that include many genuine things : go to page 70 for special consideration.

    | posted by Shankar B @ 11:24 AM

    Tuesday, June 07, 2005

    Preach What You Practice

    There is an old adage : Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach. But some dolphins actually teach what they do, to their children nonetheless. Some bottlenose dolphins in Shark Bay wear marine sponges on their snouts as a protection when they forage. They pick and choose the marine sponges that are conical. The kicker is that only some dolphin mothers can do it and they teach their kids how to do it. Read the New Scientist story for the rest.




    Also : a National Geographic Story.

    | posted by Shankar B @ 10:00 PM


    Mathematics Competition for Kids

    MATHCOUNTS is a national enrichment, coaching and competition program that promotes middle school mathematics achievement through grassroots involvement in every U.S. state and territory. This year, the competition was in Detroit. I watched a TV program on ESPN2 (who would have thunk) that showed the "quarter finals and up" portion of the competition and it was pretty fascinating. The kids were very fast with the replies. Permutations and combinations,calculus and high school geometry can help them solve some of the problems quickly. However, they are at middle school level where they are usually not taught these tools yet. Some sample questions :

    1. In the following summation,

    TESS
    + SEES
    ----------
    ELLEN
    ----------

    what is the value of T if every letter takes a unique value between 0-9 ? Align the digits so that T aligns with S and with the first L in Ellen.


    2. What is the greatest 4 digit multiple of 9 that consists only of even digits ?

    3. Starting Monday Jan 5 2004, Juan receives paycheck every other Monday. When will she receive 27 paychecks in the same year first?

    4. If an equilateral triangle of base 10cm is filled with 1cm equilateral triangles then how many of those will you need?

    5. If all 5 digit numbers that use only 2 and 7 are arranged from lowest to highest, what is the 31st number?

    6. 7A1, 50B is a six-digit number divisible by 72, what is A-B?

    7. On a number line, how many numbers are no more than 8 positions away from 20 but atleast 10 units away from 35?

    Neal Wu is the winner of the year. His mom and coach were both present at the prize-giving ceremony. This 7th grader from Louisiana attributed his success to constant practice and very fast reading. Check the website for more details about the competition.

    Post your answers and solutions in the comments section. Write the question number, your answer and the amount of time you took to answer each of the questions that you solved. I will post answers on Saturday night and solutions to it on Sunday night, all CST.

    Remember, most of the questions were answered by the kids within 10 seconds, so keep your solutions simple.

    | posted by Shankar B @ 4:00 PM

    Monday, June 06, 2005

    Newsweek's Nordland Writes

    Rod Nordland is the departing Baghdad Bureau Chief of Newsweek. He has seen two years of war and he has something really insightful and straightforward to say. Read the MSNBC article for his candid writing. Excerpt :

    What went wrong? A lot, but the biggest turning point was the Abu Ghraib scandal. Since April 2004 the liberation of Iraq has become a desperate exercise in damage control. The abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib alienated a broad swath of the Iraqi public. On top of that, it didn't work.

    ...


    Basic services like electricity, water and sewers still aren't up to prewar levels. Electricity is especially vital in a country where summer temperatures commonly reach 125 degrees Fahrenheit. Yet only 15 percent of Iraqis have reliable electrical service. In the capital, where it counts most, it's only 4 percent.


    There is more of such things about this Dad's war. Many American soldiers on the checkposts at the Green Zone are brutal and rude not only to Iraqis but to Americans and British too. Univ. of California journalism professor Mark Danner has some similar story to share about the behavior of these soldiers.

    Very sad indeed.

    | posted by Shankar B @ 10:40 PM


    Breathe like a fish underwater

    An Israeli inventor has developed a way for divers to breathe underwater without cumbersome oxygen tanks. His apparatus makes use of the air that is dissolved in water like the gills of a fish. The product is covered by patents in USA and Europe. An interesting invention though!
    So folks, watch Animal Planet and National Geographic. Try to mimic nature's working. Bingo! You've got a patent !!!
    (Via slashdot)

    | posted by Ramki @ 9:49 PM


    The Day the Email died

    Apparently, the Wall Street Journal's offices had a technical glitch sometime recently that left them without email for a day or so , resulting in reporters discovering what it's like to do work without email. Obviously, it wasn't that long ago that everyone worked that way, but it still shows just how much people have come to rely on email these days, and how people learn to cope without email.  Of course, we're still waiting to see if the concept of email free workdays expands beyond the few companies that have tested it out.   
    (Thanks again to Techdirt)

    | posted by Ramki @ 9:32 PM


    Investing in Crazy Entrepreneurs

    There are some nutty entrepreneurs out there. There are plenty of perfectly normal ones as well, but apparently even the top VCs have difficulty telling them apart. Michael Moritz at Sequoia recently spoke about some of the crazier entrepreneurs he invested in including the one who tried to kill a co-founder by driving a truck through a plate glass window. And people wonder why investors want to do some due diligence? If you're around Silicon Valley you start hearing plenty of these stories over time. Of course, sometimes, it's just not possible to realize how crazy someone is until pretty far into the process. Still, what's funny is that even the craziest entrepreneurs will still be able to raise money the next time around if they helped some VCs make a ton of money last time.
    (Via Techdirt)

    | posted by Ramki @ 9:29 PM


    Optical Illusion

    An amazing optical illusion is linked to below. Simple and it sets in very fast. No gimmicks with viewing angles or anything and is supposed to trick everyone.


    Click on the image


    There are many more available from the homepage.

    | posted by Shankar B @ 7:15 PM

    Sunday, June 05, 2005

    Wedding on top of Mount Everest

    Since many friends of Lazydesi's - Ramp, Maggi and Shankar are getting married this month, thought this article might interest'em!

    | posted by Ramki @ 9:31 PM


    Rajnikanth cannot smoke in his movies now :-(

    The Indian government is to outlaw all images of smoking in Bollywood films and television shows in a move praised by campaigners as a "sensible step" but attacked by film-makers as a curb on artistic freedom.

    The ban, the most comprehensive of its kind in the world, will outlaw shots showing cigarette packs and advertising hoardings. Foreign movies and serials, increasingly popular especially when dubbed into local Indian languages, will have the offending images electronically blurred.

    "Bollywood's biggest star, Shah Rukh Khan, is a singing, dancing, chain-smoking actor whose films are clouded by cigarette smoke. And with a production line bigger than Hollywood's, Indian movies have in recent years moved away from soppy romantic musicals to ape the west's blockbusters, where bad and good guys are seen smoking heavily."

    | posted by Ramki @ 9:20 PM


    Camera sees "Through" objects

    Researchers from Stanford University and Cornell University have put together a projector-camera system that can read a playing card that is facing away from the camera.

    The projector beams black and white pixels at a scene and the camera captures the way the light bounces off objects in the scene. A computer algorithm monitors the data and changes the patterns to gain the needed information.

    For example, how can one read a playing card that is facing away from the camera? "In the card experiment, the camera cannot see the card directly, but it can see the surface of the book [behind the card]; the light from the projector bounces off the card, then bounces off the book and hits the camera," said Pradeep Sen from Stanford University.

    [Via attu]

    | posted by Ramki @ 4:33 PM


    Neither Boring Nor Stupid

    Princeton has started an "Art of Science" annual competition where they invite the research community to submit imagery produced in the course of research or incorporating tools and concepts from science. The response was overwhelming: more than 200 entries from nearly 100 individuals in 15 departments. They selected 55 of these works to appear in the 2005 Art of Science Exhibition.

    The gallery is online. The top three prizes went to :










    The prices were split with golden ratio : a very important mathematical quantity that was cheaply bastardized by the book Da Vinci Code. The prize amounts were $250, $154.5 and $94.5 the ratios of which are 1.618033....(the golden ratio). I chose the same numbers for the aspect ratio for the images above :-)

    [Via Amygdala]

    | posted by Shankar B @ 9:32 AM


    Buzz by the Spelling Bees

    NY Times has an article about how spelling bee competition is dominated by Indians. Five of the seven winners in the past years were kids of Indian origin. This year, the top 4 contestants were all Indians. The article discusses how Indian parents are ok with their kids doing rote-learning, a necessary skill for spelling-bee, as opposed to wholesome education that America advocates.

    See the comments section for the complete article if you dont have NY Times login.

    | posted by Shankar B @ 8:30 AM

    Saturday, June 04, 2005

    Foreign Exchange TV

    Foreign Exchange is a new weekly, half-hour international affairs series, hosted by noted author, journalist and international commentator, Fareed Zakaria. The series probes the global questions of the moment from a profound, new perspective. Join Fareed in conversations with international newsmakers, politicians, diplomats, and journalists, as he examines America's role in an increasingly complex and interdependent world.


    Fareed Zakaria was born in Bombay and educated in the US. He is now the editor of Newsweek International and writes widely for The New York Times, The New Yorker and The Wall Street Journal. He has appeared on a variety of programs, including Charlie Rose, BBC World News, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Meet the Press.

    | posted by Shankar B @ 5:05 PM


    Jesus Blogs

    Jesus Christ maintains a livejournal. Funny and at times very blasphemous, this site is not for the light-hearted. A sample post from there :


    Bush Badmouths Jesus


    Jesus writes about retards :

    I was talking to Dad the other day about Retards.. I am sure a lot of people have that age old question. Why, God, why, Jesus, why would you make a little tiny baby anything but perfect? Why did my baby come out with a damaged brain, or a damaged heart? Now little Tommy can't learn about the Bible, can't appreciate your magnificence like we do. And when, they ask me...in those hushed voices...why...why, Jesus, why did you make my baby retarded? I can only smile and pat them on the head and say, "Because I can, thats why."



    Even Moses guestblogs on Christ's blog. Don't read any of the links if you are sensitive to religious issues.

    | posted by Shankar B @ 4:40 PM


    Prince of Persia

    Awesome Flash version of Prince of Persia. Must play!

    | posted by Ramki @ 2:29 PM


    Golf Mongolia

    "One man hitting a Golf Ball across Mongolia covering 1234 miles in 90 days with 12170 shots"
    Reason: Like Forest Gump, he just felt like Golfing!!!
    (Via J-walkblog)

    | posted by Ramki @ 1:54 PM


    Image Re-touching

    Glenn Honiball's Image Retouching. View before-and-after shots, using a very nice interface.

    Retouching artist Glenn Honiball has an old masters eye for understanding light and knowing where the shadows should fall. Coming from a family of commercial artists, he has spent the last 20 years developing both an eye for subtle detail and style that is so natural the images don't appear to have been retouched at all.

    | posted by Ramki @ 1:44 PM


    Morphing Celebrities

    Take the Celebrity Lovechild Quiz.

    Using state-of-the-art computerized gubbins, we have merged together the faces of 20 random celebrity pairs to discover what their illegitimate offspring may look like.

    (Via J-walkblog)


    | posted by Ramki @ 1:39 PM


    Multitasking


    Multitasking : Origins in India



    From Shalin

    | posted by Shankar B @ 10:48 AM

    Friday, June 03, 2005

    jobs, travel, cat, post, xxx, mobi

    What's common between these words? - These are the new domain suffixes approved by the ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers).

    What's interesting in this list is that Porn Industry gets its own share of the Internet thro the xxx suffix. The reason for having a seperate suffix for adult-oriented sites is that this will allow greater protection for children, because filters will easily be able to exclude any sites with xxx suffix. I don't if it really can help protect children as these companies will have their domain mirrors in other suffixed addresses as well.

    Soon, we might have a seperate domain for ads and spams - with the claim that filters can filter them better!!!

    | posted by Ramki @ 2:39 PM


    Korea - The Testbed

    It's no secret that folks in South Korea are quite a bit more connected than most other places in the world -- with much wider spread adoption of high speed wireline and wireless broadband technologies. Many companies have gone to South Korea to see how people there are using these technologies to get a head start on how others around the world are likely to use technologies after they catch up in the connectivity department -- and companies with experience there are looking to spread that knowledge elsewhere as well. Because of this, it's not at all surprising that you can find lots of cool new gadgets in Korea first -- but what might surprise some people is that they're not all from Korean companies. Instead, plenty of foreign gadget makers are releasing products in Korea first, as a test bed, before pushing the products out around the globe.  Of course, that foreign competition leads to some patriotic complaints from local companies -- but, as the article notes, that doesn't seem to stop many from buying iPods or other foreign gadgets.
    (Via Techdirt.)

    | posted by Ramki @ 2:20 PM


    Sudoku

    Meaning "Number place" in Japanese, Sudoku is a very popular newspaper puzzle in Japan.
    The objective is simple: " Fill in the grid so that every row, every column, and every 3x3 box contains the digits 1 through 9. "

    That's all there is to it. There's no math involved. The grid has numbers, but nothing has to add up to anything else. You solve the puzzle with reasoningand logic.

    Sudoku became a rage among the Japanese in the late 1980s but it was not until 2005 that it caught the fancy of the rest of the world.

    Recently Indian Newspapers - The Hindu, Hindustan Times, Deccan Chronicle and The Asian Age have started carrying Sudoku puzzles in their puzzles section and the puzzle seems to be catching up with the Indian public as well. I am wondering why Times of India is not following suit!


    | posted by Ramki @ 1:42 PM

    Wednesday, June 01, 2005

    Is West Obsolete?

    Brian Walden of BBC argues that the concept of west is going to become obsolete soon. The concept of "west" he argues came from countries that were united by a reaction against the possibility of Russian expansion after the world wars. But after the world wars and the cold war, this concept is becoming obsolete. Quoting a German politician : "Russia and America are both alien influences in Europe and eventually they'll both withdraw from it. Then we can return to our historic destiny." America is alienating and being alienated by many European countries. Political beliefs and American capitalism is still a big no to many Europeans that have socialist roots. Also, Europe is considered much more secular than American heartlands. All this is breaking up the "west".

    Although, the "west" may die away in the view of "westerners", I believe that the concept will live on with people in the Middle East and Asia. Since most of Asia differs culturally, politically and socially from the US and Europe, I feel that Asians will continue to use west to denote them. Islamic nations will also use the concept to differentiate their ideology from the predominantly Christian following in the US and Europe.

    | posted by Shankar B @ 2:10 PM


    Geocaching

    'Geocaching' - Global GPS Cache Hunt. I thought it was interesting, people were playing with GPS. I remember having a lot of fun playing treasure hunt when I was a kid. An example of web clues on finding the cache can be found here.

    What is Geocaching?

    Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for gps users. Participating in a cache hunt is a good way to take advantage of the wonderful features and capability of a gps unit. The basic idea is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do is if they get something they should try to leave something for the cache.

    Are there any other names for Geocaching?

    The GPS Stash Hunt, Global Positioning Stash hunt is interchangable. Geocaching has become the standard for the game, however.

    The word Geocaching broken out is GEO for geography, and CACHING for the process of hiding a cache. A cache in computer terms is information usually stored in memory to make it faster to retrieve, but the term is also used in hiking/camping as a hiding place for concealing and preserving provisions.

    So what's the big deal? You gave me the coordinates so I know where it is. Seems pretty easy.

    It is deceptively easy. It's one thing to see where an item is, it's a totally different story to actually get there.

    How much does a GPS unit cost, and where can I get one?

    GPS Units can range from $100 to $1000 depending on the kind of capabilities you are looking for. Use a Garmin eTrex , which runs for around $100, and can get you to within 20 feet of any geocache (depending on the location). The next step is one with a built-in electronic compass, has topographic maps, more memory, etc.

    How do I use a GPS unit for Geocaching?

    If you need to get a basic instruction on how to use a GPS unit, try the book GPS Made Easy : Using Global Positioning Systems in the Outdoors .

    To play, you'll need to know how to enter waypoints into your GPS unit. We're currently working on instructions for each particular GPS unit. In the meantime, your GPS should come with instructions on how to enter a waypoint. If you have any problems, try the online forums . There's always someone to help.

    What are the rules in Geocaching?

    Geocaching is a relatively new phenomenon. Therefore, the rules are very simple:

    1. Take something from the cache

    2. Leave something in the cache

    3. Write about it in the logbook

    Where you place a cache is up to you.


    | posted by Rajan @ 1:57 PM


    Oh justice, thou art such a rarity

    And just when one started assuming that Russia had once again become a democracy, comes this one :

    Brief Background : Michail khodorkovsky was the undisputed oligarch in Russia only 2 years back. With billions of dollars in his privately owned company Yukos, he represented the new and emerging Russia to capitalistic West. Not for long, yesterday he was handed a nine year sentence for tax evation. Essentially Kremlin doesnt like anyone challenging its authority and will ruthlessly clamp down upon them like a criminal gang. From what I have read, this seems to be more a case of vendetta justice than justice for the poor people. With all the bad things people have to say about US, I think it has a far fairer justice system than any in the world. No dont even bother to talk about India, if ever your case gets heard in Supreme Court, there is a chance. However SC cannot move on its own and must act upon the evidence presented in front of it. And this is where the culptits can manipulate their way to a scot free life.

    http://www.mosnews.com/commentary/2005/05/31/khodorkovsky.shtml

    Recently I have been following another story on the sentence to former Australian beautician held in Indonesia for drug smuggling. While the normal sentence for those having smuggled much higher quantities was 0-5 years, in this case thanks to the jingoism displayed by the Australian media about the quality of Indonesian justice system, Schapelle Corby was given a very harsh 20 year sentence. Its best to avoid these poor nations which dont have a real concept of democracy or fairness.

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,15481770%255E2702,00.html

    The latest update on this has been that the Indonesian embassy has attacked by bio terror, very shameful for both countries if true.

    | posted by HollaMan @ 9:42 AM

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