Posts Tagged ‘india’

1. Building a Better Teacher
A good article from NYT which talks about a quest to make high school teachers better and more effective . The article had some interesting points. For eg it implied that improving existing teachers is better than hiring better teachers. (partly because there are 1 Million+ teachers in US alone and finding so many good ones is hard). One of the ideas was that to be effective a teacher to grab student’s attention. Overall an interesting read. Although, it made me think if there is any similar studies made on university level education (especially graduate level). Andrew Gelman’s thoughts about the article is here

2. Top five gadgets from Microsoft’s research labs
I saw many interesting prototypes from TechFest. My favorite was Microsoft’s Translating Phone. Most of them were real cool.

3. Google News
Google had some nice posts this week and my favorite was Hopping on a Face Manifold via People Hopper. The application is very interesting. The problem is a real hard problem (even if you forget that they are handling millions of photos) and they seem to have done a decent job ! I noted that all people in Orkut are automatically opted in. Yikes .. Looks like another buzz like privacy controversy is in the making.

A polyglot Google Chrome beta, with new privacy features is a new feature in Chrome to automatically translate pages in foreign language. Cool !

Some cool applications for Android smart phones – Android app can recognize a person, pull up his status updates and Microsoft’s Tag Links the Physical World To the Internet . The concept of Microsoft tag looks pretty interesting !

Talking about Smartphones, NYT had a nice graph on who sued who on mobile patents – See more at An Explosion of Mobile Patent Lawsuits .

4. How To Improve Chat Roulette
A nice article on improving chat roulette.

5. At Last — The Full Story Of How Facebook Was Founded
A controversial and conspiracy theoryish article on how facebook was founded. Not sure how much to trust or what to make of it.

6. Spring 2010 jQuery Talks
Jquery recently has become one of my favorited libraries. I find using it pretty delightful ! This page has some slides that give a nice overview of JQuery.

7. Don’t Look Back
An interesting commentary on a book by Taliban’s Abdul Salam Zaeef. Had some interesting aphorisms. Another interesting but disturbing article from Joseph – The Karachi project.


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Indie Blogs – Part 1

I love blogs and spend a significant time every week reading blogs. Most of the blogs I read are technical . After I started my blog, I had some fun chat with my friends about my blog and other stuff. After some hesitation one of my friend asked "why you Indians always write about technical things ?". We had a good laugh over it and I gave a vague answer that people write on all topics.

After coming home , I was curious about blogging scenario in India. I know we are big shots in IT but what about blogging ? Are we so shy that we don’t write much or are we monochromatic that we write about some fixed set of (safe) topics ? Of course these are not research questions but I was curious of the answers. Obviously, I am not interested in blogs of big guys – Amitabh   or Aamir Khan . I have nothing against them but I was mostly interested in every day guy’s blogs.

One of the things I felt which would trouble a newbie indie blogger is the language issue. India has so many languages and not many blogging platforms support all the languages. Heck, even most popular operating systems don’t support all the languages. So if you want to have a blog in some less popular languages (I refrain from giving a name 🙂 ) you will face lot of hurdles – lack of support with blogging tools, platforms, not much support from search engines and a potentially much restricted audience.

For this post, I will use the term Indie blog to refer to blog written by an Indian guy/girl though not necessarily residing in India. That was a vague definition but this word seems to be catching on. So this post is an attempt to take a peek at Indie Blogs.

First in terms of blogging platforms , most popular indie blogs seems to be hosted on either WordPress or Blogspot. No surprises there. But there are some home grown blogging sites like BigAdda  or Bharat Student. They are not as mature as WordPress or Blogspot. These sites try to be primarily a portal or a social networking site. Blogging mostly seems to be an after thought.

Next I tried to find some good blog directories for indie blogs. I liked this site  but others were not much impressive. Desipundit  seems to be popular and it was good too. Its contributors page was striking as many of its contributors are actually out of India  but still connect back. Cool !

I found that a huge number of bloggers write in english – well, that is in Indian english. Some even transliterate their blogs in English. I felt that technique was quite effective as it allowed them to jump between their primary language (say tamil) to deliver punch lines and english easily. There were quite some blogs which were primarily written in Indian languages with Indian scripts. Nice ! But I guess most people will have trouble viewing them .

I have been following some indie blogs for some time. Some of them were very good and I have become a regular follower and some were boring and I have stopped following. There were also lot many blogs that were very good but were not continued – perhaps the main author got caught up with life 🙂

As expected the blog topics cover the whole spectrum – politics, philosophy, literature , technology . I even found some good fun blogs. I will try to introduce some of my favorite blogs in this series.

The following are some of my favorite (primarily) fun blogs . (In no order).

1. Doing Jalsa and Showing Jilpa
This is probably one of the most famous indie blogs. Has a lot of humorous posts. Probably one his most popular post was his excellent critique on Mile Sur Mera Tumhara song in the post Mile Sur Mera Tomorrow? Fail . Love it !

2. Autobiography of an ordinary man
Another excellent blog. Written by Shenoy. The posts have posts with unique sense of humor and touch that has been dubbed as shenoyism .

3. Gilmananda
This is another real fun but rarely updated blog. Some of his posts made me remember the fun events during my college life. It is written in taminglish and the posts contain lot of tamil dialogs. If you are going to read this blog, I would suggest taking a look at his archives. Most of the posts are serial and rely on some characters/events from previous posts.

4. Lightning Strikes Everyday
This is another nice blog with posts on variety of topics. I liked the recent post on VTV .

5. Random Thoughts of a Demented Mind
Another good blog with some great acerbic posts.

6. Son Of Bosey
Another interesting blog. Has some nice Onionesque posts spoofing on latest news.

7. Dubukku- The Think Tank
A blog written primarily in Tamil. Has lot of humorous posts.

8. Dappan Koothu
A blog talking on variety of topics (a lot on movies !) . Has lot of interesting posts.

Have fun with these Indie blogs !!

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1. Cookies, Supercookies and Ubercookies: Stealing the Identity of Web Visitors
This is a two part post by Arvind Narayanan on identifying the identity of a person using a variety of techniques. The first part is here and second part is here . The techniques include using a more sophisticated version of cookies, using browser history in a more intelligent fashion , using data from social networks and social bookmarking . There were some interesting observations in this post like the set of Facebook groups that you are member of is more or less unique. He also talks about federated identities which are convenient but makes it easy to track.

He also gives two useful links – One which uses browser history to find the Wikipedia topics you are interested in. The page is here. Beware, once you visit the page it starts analyzing your history – so visit it only if you really want to. That said, I felt I got a lot of interesting info from my previous pages ! The second useful link is a page where if you give your email id , it tells which of your online identities are linked – Check it out here . I have to say , I was pretty impressed with the results.

2. Please Rob Me !
This was my favorite site of this week. It uses information from Twitter and with some simple processing tells if the house is empty ! I am sure no robber is going to take its word but still it was a fun project and hopefully serve to raise awareness ! A BBC article is here.

3. Some Fun Stuff
I got some positive comments about including comics in the post. So here are the comics that impressed me this week. XKCD  talks about tautology   , Abstruse Goose on Gödel’s incompleteness theorems  and probably the most relevant to us is from Calvin and Hobbes.

4. E-mail Provides Interesting Insights Into Social Networks
An interesting article . Has some discussion on triadic and focal closures.

5. Facebook directs more online users than Google
What happens next ? They are already one of the largest link or image sharing site and now they are becoming a bigger referrer. I am not sure how it is going to impact the users but I only hope it doesn’t increase the number of crappy ads they show ! (at least don’t show the ads i have actively rejected earlier !)

6. A 50-Watt Cellular Network
Hmm interesting. I think (i have not cross checked) Times rated the CEO of this company as one of the top 8 people to watch out.

7. Mirror symmetry broken at 4 trillion degrees
I don’t really know the significance of it. But the fact that we can generate temperature of up to 4 trillion degrees is mind boggling. I was naturally curious how they measured the temperature , which is detailed in this post titled Hottest Soup in Universe . "Technology has improved so much" !

8. Bloodied By Warner, Redbox Also Damns New Releases To Piracy
After the Amazon-McMillan row comes Warner Vs Netflix/Redbox. Basically, both of them will hold off on the release of new Warner Brothers DVD and Blu-ray movies until after they’ve been on sale for 28 days. Bad time for consumers !

9. Forbes India: Why CEOs want Govt job
Nice read !

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1. India’s Labs Waking Up, Surge in Global Science Papers

        Article talks about how the research “output” from India is increasing. I can only hope that the contents are at least half true. IMHO , lack of incentives to do cool research is a bigger impediment that corrupt politicians , anachronistic policies or lagging infrastructure. It is quite heartening to see India’s profile increasing even with these restrictions. Another interesting thing to note was that the full article mentioned that University Of Texas is one of the top collaborators. Nice !!.

2. USB 3.0 SuperSpeed gone wild at CES 2010, trumps even your new SSD

        This was an interesting news that I guess, most missed in CES. USB 3.0 rocks. Probably, I have to qualify that one of the candidates for USB 3.0 rocks. Time will tell if this standard prevails , but the speeds are fascinating.

3. China’s High-Speed-Rail Revolution

        An article about China’s high speed rails. It beats other competitors like Japan,Germany and France. Its top speed is 312 Kmph. Wow !! (Where the hell is India and US ? )

4. How Google Might Enable Property Owner Advertising in Streetviews Images 

        I think the idea is cool !!

5. Your Passwords Aren’t As Secure As You Think; Here’s How to Fix That

        Probably the article that shook me most. I got it from one of Pals. I think it has made me reevaluate storing passwords in apps. The most shocking revelation was that Pidgin was storing the account passwords in plaintext. I agree with their rationale but I would have preferred a message box saying the passwords will be stored in plaintext when I opted to store my passwords. Atleast it would have alerted me to the possibility without me digging this information from the Net from a (reasonably) obscure article.

6. 254A, Notes 0: A review of probability theory

        The best link of today – Terry Tao’s notes on Probability. I think, to call Terry Tao as a genius  is by itself an understatement. I am still digesting the info in the notes. There were some interesting new information like Borel-Cantelli lemma , so I look forward to taking a deeper look. After taking a course on Random Graphs, I also look forward to his course on random matrices . Although , I have to admit, I don’t fancy my chances of understanding most of the topics in the course 🙂 .

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