Miraculous visions – 100 years of Einstein

A century after Einstein’s miracle year, most people still do not understand exactly what it was he did; Economist.com attempt to elucidate.

[Listening to: Tabba (Techno) – Musafir [Club Mix – CD1] – Musafir (05:49)]

Next IE ver. in 2006 – ins't that too late already?

As per Seattle Times, the next version of IE will ship in 2006, but isn’t that too late already? Already Firefox is my primary browser and I love it – not to mention the millions others who are seening the light. My bigger concern is the millions of other people who don’t realize the issues with IE and all the spyware, etc and causing themselves harm.

[Listening to: 06 babu ji zara dheere chalo (original mix ) – – (04:59)]

Rethinking the whole media center bit

Well, the idea of assembling a computer and making it dual boot and trying out both Media Center and Myth TV does have me tickled, and if you have been following my useless blabbering here you know I have done a fair amount of research and also swayed in the past, but after reading this excellent review by Brian, I am now not very sure. If something is wrong, sure I am quite comfortable mucking around and getting it working, but I am not sure if everyone else who comes visiting is as comfortable. Bottom line, if most people cannot use it (because you get dumped in Windows-la-la-land or some Linux shell), is it really worth it? As Brian says, “Media Center could be this stable if it started out using NT Embedded, but that would make it an appliance and not a PC“. Tells you I am still confused….

[Listening to: Track 01 – New Artist (38) – New Title (38) (05:09)]

The death of Mac?

As of December 2004, the Mac share as measured by online activity is 2.7 percent (Linux is 3.1), with all the rest going to various flavors of Windows, is it truely the death of Macs? John Dvorak disccuses the Grim Macintosh Market Share Forebodes Crisis. The crux of the matter he says is, the ease-of-use and simplicity of the platform is killing it, because people cannot perceive that simplicity is ever worth MORE than complexity. Simpler should be cheaper. An example that John takes, say you have two identical products on the market—word processors, for example. For the sake of argument, let’s make these two, X and Y, almost exactly the same. But product X is written in tight assembly language, fits on a floppy disk, and takes up 30K of memory. Product Y is written in some high-level language, comes on a CD-ROM, and takes up 500 megabytes on your hard drive. Which will outsell the other? I argue that the packed CD-ROM always will, because the public will perceive it as a greater value. You’re getting more for your money.

I would go so far as to argue that the CD-ROM product could even run slower (which obviously would be the case), and you’d still have more people buying it. The 30K program could compete only by being cheaper!

Now imagine the 30K product has tight, fast, bug-free code, but is more expensive. What would be the result? I’m guessing three percent market share.

This is the dilemma Apple faces, and there is no way around it. The long-term consequences are obvious. Apple is the easy-to-use, less complex platform. Thus it should be cheaper, not more expensive. It’s that simple.

[Listening to: Tez Dhaar – Musafir [Club Mix – CD1] – Musafir (05:20)]

VMWare Beta 5 adds interesting features

The beta 5 version of VMWare adds some interesting features, especially where you create multiple snapshots by allowing the user to take an unlimited number of point-in-time, saved-to-disk snapshots of running virtual machines. This makes it easier to capture and switch between multiple configurations and accelerates testing and debugging. The Snapshot Manager displays thumbnails of all the snapshots on a single screen and makes it easy for users to track all their snapshots and revert to a previously saved snapshot. Also, when reverting to a previously saved snapshot, a new branch is automatically created so other snapshots continue to be available. You can check out the screenshots here and download the beta.

[Listening to: Rama Re – Musafir [Club Mix – CD1] – Musafir (06:57)]

Which aid group to use?

There is a list of aid groups which are accepting donations for the victims; which is a good one to pick? Though, all of them are doing a job that helps humanity and I am not questioning their dedication or anything, but I do want to pick one where most of the money I donate goes to the victim and as less as possible towards the overheard or administration fees (though I understand this is getting into a catch-22), what do you think?

Before and after the Tsunami

Here is a very chilling series of satellite images from CNN that provide a before and an after view of some of the damaged areas:

 

Just when I had the Digital Media figured out

After a lot of research and more reading and talking to Karan and having thought I had a handle of this thing I come across this article on slashdot where the folks at Snapstream have configured a PC PVR with six tuners (yep you read it right, six)! *sigh* seems like we are back to square one.

[Listening to: 12 – Track – (04:38)]

The height dumbness!

Not sure if it can get any better, but this post is the perfect example of an Idiot! And please like someone else pointed out, don’t generalize on one person’s folly!

[Listening to: 10 – Track – (04:54)]

Help with tsunami relief

If you have not done your part yet, then you can do so from both Amazon and Google, who now have links on how to contribute to the Tsunami relief on their homepages (here and here respectively). I am not sure what kind of service would be the right one, but I am sure any kind would surely be helpful! I would be doing my bit for sure.

Update:
Slashdot also picked up on this and Apple has also changed their homepage.

[Listening to: 01 – Track – New Title (38) (04:36)]

Tsunami death toll tops 67,000

CNN is reporting that the death toll now is over 67K :(. Everyone I know is OK, but there are thousands of families who are not! Events like these does make one think, how easily we forget mother nature and take everything for granted. Does make me think even more on the delicate balance nature has for us to survive in this harsh universe.

[Listening to: ChhodNaRe(Rimix) – – (05:01)]

The big shaker

With over 23,000 people dead, and so many more suffering the Magnitude 9.0 off the west coast of Northern Sumatra was a 9.0 magnitude Earthquake on Sunday, December 26, 2004 at 00:58:49 UTC. Having live for almost 7 years in the Bay Area, which as most people know is a very earthquake active area I have made it a hobby (of sorts) to go read up more on such events. Here are the details as reported by the USGS:

  • Magnitude: 9.0
  • Date-Time: Sunday, December 26, 2004 at 00:58:49 (UTC)
  • Location: 3.244°N, 95.825°E
  • Depth: 10 km (6.2 miles) set by location program
  • Distances:
    • 255 km (160 miles) SSE of Banda Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia
    • 315 km (195 miles) W of Medan, Sumatra, Indonesia
    • 1260 km (790 miles) SSW of BANGKOK, Thailand
    • 1590 km (990 miles) NW of JAKARTA, Java, Indonesia
  • Location: Uncertainty  horizontal +/- 5.6 km (3.5 miles);

The USGS says the devastating mega-thrust earthquake of December 26, 2004, occurred on the interface of the India and Burma plates and was caused by the release of stresses that develop as the India plate subducts beneath the overriding Burma plate. The India plate begins its descent into the mantle at the Sunda trench, which lies to the west of the earthquake’s epicenter. The trench is the surface expression of the plate interface between the Australia and India plates, situated to the southwest of the trench, and the Burma and Sunda plates, situated to the northeast.

In the region of the earthquake, the India plate moves toward the northeast at a rate of about 6 cm/year relative to the Burma plate. This results in oblique convergence at the Sunda trench. The oblique motion is partitioned into thrust-faulting, which occurs on the plate-interface and which involves slip directed perpendicular to the trench, and strike-slip faulting, which occurs several hundred kilometres to the east of the trench and involves slip directed parallel to the trench. The December 26 earthquake occurred as the result of thrust-faulting.

Preliminary locations of larger aftershocks following the mega-thrust earthquake show that approximately 1200 km of the plate boundary slipped as a result of the earthquake. By comparison with other large mega-thrust earthquakes, the width of the causative fault-rupture was likely over one-hundred km. From the size of the earthquake, it is likely that the average displacement on the fault plane was about fifteen meters. The sea floor overlying the thrust fault would have been uplifted by several meters as a result of the earthquake. The above estimates of fault-dimensions and displacement will be refined in the near future as the result of detailed analyses of the earthquake waves.

The world’s largest recorded earthquakes have all been mega-thrust events, occurring where one tectonic plate subducts beneath another. These include:

  • Magnitude 9.5 1960 Chile earthquake
  • Magnitude 9.2 1964 Prince William Sound, Alaska, earthquake
  • Magnitude 9.1 1957 Andreanof Islands, Alaska, earthquake
  • Magnitude 9.0 1952 Kamchatka earthquake.

As with the recent event, mega-thrust earthquakes often generate large tsunamis that cause damage over a much wider area than is directly affected by ground shaking near the earthquake’s rupture.

More Information:

Two guys who got fired but still kept working on their project

I think, this is the ultimate geek story about two guys who got fired from their jobs at Apple but still kept working (to finish the Graphic Calculator) – oh how I wish I was there!! BTW, you can download the free versions even today (and no they are not from 1993).

To Media Centre PC or not, that is the question?

Well, I have been thinking for a long time (for those who know me, know that is quite unusual, mostly my poor brain just gives up and packs up due to overload – but that’s a story for another day) of getting a Media Centre at home of some sorts. Being a Microsoft geek it was obvious of the choice of going with the Media Centre 2005, but being a geek, and not to mention the consistent and persistent push of my dear friend Karan, who is a huge proponent of OpenSource (and no he is not the sort of a guy who bashes MS just because of them being MS), I realised, I could not just take it at face value and decided to read up a little more – after all at the end of the day this would be sitting next to the TV and is something that needs to look half-decent and not something that would live in the study so who cares what it looks like. It also needs to be usable (whats the point otherwise), and of course can integrate with the TV, etc.

So, the two choices I looked at was Myth TV and Microsoft’s Media Centre – both in my opinion excellent pieces of software (though remember I have not actually installed any of the versions). So after reading many articles that describe living with the Media Centre, and Building a MythTV, and comparing the two head-to-head, I finally did decide on getting a Media Centre. Phew, job finished, ya?! Right! Think again. After thinking I was done with the difficult part, now I had to figure out if it makes sense to buy one off the shelf or actually build one?

There are many choices that you can buy off the shelf. Some from the leading manufactures like Dell has nice ones, and so does HP, and not to mention, very cool looking ones from Toshiba not to mention that there are even laptops that you can use. Then there some from lesser know companies (at least lesser known to me) such as this one recommended by Digital Home Magazine. Of course then there are some you just drool looking at – though they might not be the most practical. Still more others from Hi-Grade, UVEM Classic 3, etc.

Of course, you can always build your own, where you have total control on what you select and how they integrate. But then you need to worry about among other things what cases to buy? I mean there are tons and tons of them to pick from, some cool ones and then some others that look quite nice.

Oh and not to mention, do you want to have a case which has a fan and can be noisy, or a fanless one which are quiet, but then what about support of the other components? Other components? Once, we have decided the case, then rest of the components come into play, you still need to get a CPU, Memory, Graphics Cards (which are compatible with Media Centre), Tuner Cards that work (I want two, so I can watch and record at the same time), lets not forget a big HDD, but then do I need SCSI or not? Oh dear…. you are getting the picture…. :). Lets not skimp out on the sound card, DVD drive, and last but not the least, what kind of remote do you want, Network connection options. And now with the Media Centre Extenders┬áthat do so much, the choice does not get any easier…. aaarrrgghhh!

I have swung between buying an off the shelf (where I started earlier), to now building my own (where I stand as of now), I hope you see my conundrum here… any pearls of wisdom?

Ah the old days…

Well, I stumbled upon this link showing the photos of Google’s spanking new campus and celebrating their 6th birthday. But not long ago, when I was stomping around in Mountain View and Palo Alto, the same building use to be Silicon Graphic’s, very funky, very cool and very geeky kick-ass campus. Its a shame, Google did not keep the funky colours, IMHO it would fit right in with their personality!

[Listening to: Don’t Throw It Away! – Dirty Vegas – One (04:19)]

Good RSS Reader?

I have been using Feedreader for a bit, and though it is decent, lately it takes an awful long time to load including 100% CPU usage and the load time is measured in minutes and not seconds – its that bad. So, the question is, what readers do you use and recommend? I do have the online ones like Bloglines, but I prefer the ones where I can download and read it offline – as opposed to being online. Any hidden gems you can recommend?

[Listening to: Roses – Dirty Vegas – One (04:08)]

Tips for finding a new job


[Listening to: Miracle Drug – U2 – How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb [Bonus Track] (03:58)]

Debugging Indian Computer Programmers

Picked this story up on slashdot, so you might have already seen it there. Well I can speak of this first hand, though the write-up is intriguing, this is something I would get and read up and only then provide my perspective. Have any of you read this, if so what are your thoughts?

The H1-B visa program allows many thousands of non-American technical workers (about half a million at the moment) to hold jobs in Silicon Valley and elsewhere in the U.S. – jobs which are seemingly difficult to fill from the American labor pool for a variety of reasons, and which are eagerly filled by employers who find that qualified, talented people come from countries all over the world. N. Sivakumar’s first-person account of being an Indian programmer working for companies in several U.S. states over the past decade illustrates a side of the H1-B system that doesn’t get talked about much: the experience of skilled, highly educated workers taking jobs in an environment that offers, besides welcome employment, various levels of hostility and resentment. Read on for my review of his book, Debugging Indian Computer Programmers: Dude, Did I Steal Your Job?

[Listening to: MMM MMM MMM MMM – Crash Test Dummies – Pure Driving Moods [UK] (03:55)]