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<Summary> YATB, Yet Another Technology Blog </Summary>

Friday, January 28, 2005

Open Source In India

Slashdot has a story about Open source in India. Like a lot of stuff in India it's overhyped and totally ridiculous. Consider

a) How many Open source projects have you see intitiated byIndians?

b) How many Open Source Contributers do you know from India?

Check out openbsd.org, and the geographical map they show of there devleopers, India does not figure.

c) How much contribution has been made by Indians to Open Source here.

GNU India


Ramanraj K (Chennai) - Rs 1,026


Deeproot Linux (Banglore) - Rs 15,000

Atul Metha (Delhi) - Rs 10,000

Vimal (Kochi) - Rs. 500

For those not from India you just need to divide it by 45 to convert it to US Dollars.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Writing an Essay


An Exemplary College Application Essay

3a. Essay:
In order for the admissions staff of our college to get to know you, the applicant, better, we ask that you answer the following question:
Are there any significant experiences you have had, or accomplishments you have realized, that have helped to define you as a person?

I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling walls and crushing ice. I have been known to remodel train stations on my lunch breaks, making them more efficient in the area of heat retention. I translate ethnic slurs for Cuban refugees, I write award-winning operas, I manage time efficiently. Occasionally, I tread water for three days in a row.
I woo women with my sensuous and godlike trombone playing, I can pilot bicycles up severe inclines with unflagging speed, and I cook Thirty Minute Brownies in twenty minutes. I am an expert in stucco, a veteran in love, and an outlaw in Peru.
Using only a hoe and a large glass of water, I once single-handedly defended a small village in the Amazon Basin from a horde of ferocious army ants. I play bluegrass cello, I was scouted by the Mets. I am the subject of numerous documentaries. When I'm bored, I build large suspension bridges in my yard. I enjoy urban hang gliding. On Wednesdays, after school, I repair electrical appliances free of charge.
I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst, and a ruthless bookie. Critics worldwide swoon over my original line of corduroy evening wear. I don't perspire. I am a private citizen, yet I receive fan mail. I have been caller number nine and won the weekend passes. Last summer I toured New Jersey with a traveling centrifugal-force demonstration. I bat .400. My deft floral arrangements have earned me fame in international botany circles. Children trust me.
I can hurl tennis rackets at small moving objects with deadly accuracy. I once read Paradise Lost, Moby Dick, and David Copperfield in one day and still had time to refurbish an entire dining room that evening. I know the exact location of every food item in the supermarket. I have performed covert operations for the CIA. I sleep once a week; when I do sleep, I sleep in a chair. While on vacation in Canada, I successfully negotiated with a group of terrorists who had seized a small bakery. The laws of physics do not apply to me.
I balance, I weave, I dodge, I frolic, and my bills are all paid. On weekends, to let off steam, I participate in full-contact origami. Years ago I discovered the meaning of life but forgot to write it down. I have made extraordinary four-course meals using only a Mouli and a toaster oven. I breed prizewinning clams. I have won bullfights in San Juan, cliff-diving competitions in Sri Lanka, and spelling bees at the Kremlin. I have played Hamlet, I have performed open-heart surgery, and I have spoken with Elvis.
But I have not yet gone to college

Friday, January 14, 2005

Do No Evil

We all love google, don't we?. You don't know about a particular programming paradigm, you google. You want to know about latest news, you google. Even if you don't know what you are looking for you still google. Google, today is one of the those companies which commands respect and for that matter envy from a lot. But still a lot of times, while searching, we end up finding something that we never even wanted to look for. Consider this, while I was preparing this blog I did a bit of research on Google, it's algorithms and stuff et al. I started with some random searches like "Google search engine", "Search Engines design". Yes I got a bit of what I was looking for but nothing to say "Whoa!". Clever users could rebuke me that I must be more specific about my search try to put a quote there, use a more specific keyword, use OR keyword, you NOT operator and even use the "means like(~)" operator. I don't agree. Explain or I flame you, is that what you are thinking. Then in that case I owe you an explanation.

PageRank, root cause of evil.

Google indexes it's documents according to PageRank. A bit on PageRank is due for explanation before we proceed. What page rank means that every page has a rank, I bet even your cat knows that. But every ranking has a policy, you could rank yourself as someone senior in your office, while someone could rank you as a bonehead So what matters to us as users is how exactly does google do ranking of pages. Just over a decade back you could search for "President of United States", chances were that you would be taken to a page which would have "President Of United States" written 500 times and then in the end followed by "Sucks". Google changed all that, it started searching on the basis of hyperlinks. Consider this you have set up a webpage of yourself, you would have written on your frontpage "Welcome to my Webpage". With a lot of information about your "Projects" and "Family". In a tiny corner lies "About Me". So how come if I search for "Michael Homepage" I get on to your webpage. Well if you have a lot of friends then, they would have started to put up links like visit "Michaels homepage". So what matters to google is that as long people have interest in you, they would be setting links to you and you would get to there. This simple approch single handedly changed the way search and research was done.

So what's wrong with this. Pretty much all. If you use google on a regular basis you would be surprised about the amount of "spam" that you get. I no longer can restrict myself to "Top 10", a lot of times what you find in "top 10" well is not "top 10" for you. Why? Just about a year back, I could confidently restrict myself to those "top 10" and be happy about it. The trouble is that as people have realized about the basis of PageRank they have been setting up link farms. So you could pay $10000 and the company would set up 1000 links to your webpage with a lot of informative hyperlinks. And if you really want in that "Top 10", also set up a contract with some Indian SEO Company ready to optimize your website for $10000. Just choose your pick. The sad truth is that cooperates today are ready to do pretty much anything to put your webpage on "Top 10". Even sell their souls.

Personalization, Tom, Dick and Harry.

You are searching for "Operating Systems". And so has been your blonde girlfriend, who decides to impress you with your geeky IQ What do you get? Your girlfriend and you would get the same set of links. It's unto you to filter it to satisfy your quest for variety of operating systems and if you are bit (un)lucky you would have to filter this stuff for your girlfriend too, albeit using a different approach. People who spend their day specializing there searches have point. Why don't I try to put in Quotes, try to be specific, like do I want to know about Memory Management, try to add those keywords. Really. I thought I was promised "flying cabs" by 2010. Also consider this, today you searched for "+How +to make chicken", you as usual start filtering out all of these. Some are plainly out of context, they might deal with "Why did chicken cross the road?", Lots of links that you filter out, so couple of days later your girlfriend comes in and you have to make chicken for her, you search again, you get the same set of links, what Google lacks today is intelligence. Yes if I could save dime for every time I had to say that.

AD-sense, I _sense_ a rat.

Google has pretty amazing feature ad-sense, you have a webpage dealing with "Pets", adsense would "sense" that your webpage has information about pets and it would put up advertisements about "Selling and Buying Pets" on your webpage, sharing a percentage of profit with you. Adsense is where a lot of money for google comes in. This ad-sense, again relies on the "textual" rather than "contextual" information on your webpage. That’s where trouble starts, if you are programmer and you searching for "inheritance" in comp.lang.c++, chances are that you will get links like


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And no Huston, I did not make them up.

Asta LaVista Baby.

People have often commented that because of monoply of Microsoft, we have lost a lot of innovation. The trouble is that people have learnt to live with Microsoft, if you place in front of them any other Operating system, they won't use it simply because, it won't run their favouraite Game or Email program. Google does not have that that sort of backup. If IBM does come out with it's promised "Natural Language Understandable" search engine along with an index as wide as Google, I would say "AstaLavista Baby".


Being a programmer, has taught me a couple of things, one of them being "Never Underestimate Complexity". If its cold outside, it could very well be burning inside. Surely Google is doing a great job. It has to write a lot of clever algorithms and manage thousands of computers. No mean feat. But, I feel a bit perplexed every week when google comes out with a new product. Why not just just get to the drawing board and think a bit about how we can essentially improve search as a whole? Why not fulfill that promise of "flying cab"? Why not?

So long people.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Inside MSDOS-1.0

Inside DOS,

Some points on DOS operating system { MSDOS 1.0 }, when I did not even exist on this earth. Facinating.

Design Issues

a) Efficiency --> Well every operating system needs to be efficient, given those times this one had be better. Notably, give maximum consideration to user space, so that _user_ gets to use resources not _system_.

b) Speed --> Coded completly in assembly. Though not primarily because of speed.
c) Compatibilty with CP/M --> Provide compatibilty with CP/M so that software compiled for CP/M could effectively run without modfication on MS-DOS.

Bit on organization.

High memory for transient component of DOS. Could be overlayed by application if need be.
User memory.
Command Resident //Could have been replaced by any other command prompt, did not know this one.

File Structure

FAT file system

Sector 0 --> MBR
Sector 1-6 --> FAT
Sector 8-13 --> Copy of FAT
Sector 14-30 --> Directory Structure // Each sector 128 bytes, Each directory entry 32 bytes
// 17 * 128 / 32 = 68 Directory enteries in total
// No it could not be resized.
Sector 31-2001 --> User space.

Most importantly file structre was NOT hierarchical. Only "root" directory. No sub directories.

Maximum file size = 65535 bytes. No not 65536. Pretty efficient overall.

Only _one_ sector buffer. i.e. we only had one single buffer for whole of the file system and that was for just one sector.

Queries to file system had to specify for reading any file. So if we are looking for byte streams like we have now, each record was effectively of size 1.

a) Record size, the size of the record.
b) And the record number.

So if an application wanted to read 2nd record, with each record of 90 bytes. Request would be generated for reading 128-90 from sector 0, and then 90 - ( 128 - 90 ) from next sector.

Some questions:

Though the article says that there was only one single sector buffer, it also says that the IO system was able to "look ahead" in FAT to know if we are to read consecutive, blocks. But if it could do so, then it should be able to put them in some sort of buffer otherwise there is just no use of _looking_ahead_

At one time he gives an indication that the number of sectors for FAT(7) is pretty much fixed, but then again in his example regarding internal fragmmentaion, he conisders FAT to be as long as 24 sectors.

Even looking back just 68 files looks quite pathetic.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Indian cops and CS girls

Here is an interesting story about Indian cops


I have also thought about these cops things in India, I laughed my ass out when I read

" The judge refused to consider the agreement on which the student clicked, for there was no signature in ink . "

As murthy points out according to this ALL of e-com in India in India. Cool so I should stop buying the books from the net.

Anyway one of my friends has watched the clip he told me that the clip is just about 173 seconds long, which makes me wonder can anyone really do something good in those 173 seconds :-).

Also I came across this post on women computer science students


Makes sense to me, considering I really don't know any good women CS programmers, yes I have come across them through net but that is obviously very rare, and I have to admit that whenever I look at them, I can't help saying

"Would you go out on a date?".

Oh well what else.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Why are you in IT?

Just some thoughts after reading


Why are you in IT? The moment I ask this question to a lot of my friends and for that matter even foes the answer is.

"Just came in because my aunts son is earning $6000 per year".

Oh well thank you very much. The trouble is that the more I come across people the more I realize why a lot of them are in IT. I am often left wondering "How can you be in IT if you don't _enjoy_ it?". My bad, because I know 1 year down the line a lot of them will be placed in so called branded companies around the world.