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Showing posts from August, 2009

Of Atoms & Molecules

Well maybe not but remember back in school, when you wondered what exactly an atom look like? You didn’t? Well I did. Looking at bugs under the microscope in biology was exciting for sure, but what I really wanted to see were atoms, at the very least molecules. After all how was I supposed to understand how they work when I cannot see them? Well it took a long time but it’s finally here. IBM has gone and done it now.
This is the 3D image taken by an IBM scientist. Unimpressive huh?

Now lo and behold!

This look familiar? Impressed now? I was. The above image was taken by what is known as an atomic force microscope. Like the venerable electron microscope, but more powerful and with an eye for the third dimension, the AFM is able to make the nano world something we humans can appreciate visually. Using a silicon micro scale cantilever coated in carbon dioxide (tiny, tiny needle), lasers, an "ultrahigh vacuum" and temperatures that hovered around 5 Kelvin, the AFM imaged the pentac…

Partly Cloudy, Chance Of Labels

Google Blogger is turning 10 this week and the celebrations have already begun folks! After the teaser announcement a couple of days ago and an impromptu blog post later, we finally get the first gift in the form of label clouds.
The label widget was woefully inadequate, with only two ways of showing labels. The blog post goes on to say that this was the most requested feature (why am I not surprised?) and now we finally have it. Not only is it possible to show the labels as a cloud, you can also select which ones you actually want to show up in it. Yippee!
I’ve been waiting for this feature myself but for better or for worse, just last week I found this fantastic flash cloud widget for my blog from Blogger Buster. And while this new feature is definitely news, I think I’ll just keep the one I’ve got.
Here’s how they both look: What do you think? Should I keep the old one or toss it?

Profile: Vinayaka

Name: Ganesha/Vinayaka/Ganapati (don’t recall the rest) Parents: Lord Shiva & Goddess Parvati Residence: Kailas (unverified) Email: None – (please get with it! Gmail is good) Festival: Vinayaka Chavithi In short, this is the Ganesha whose birthday we celebrated yesterday. 

While the precise origins/cause/reasons of this festival are as yet unclear to me (more on that later), it definitely is one my favourite festivals. “Why?” you ask…for the same reason I don’t like most of the others. Food! (what were you expecting? some deep philosophical treatise?) Most Indian festivals usually demand lots of sweets, not this god, leastways not in my house. This is one occasion where I wholeheartedly & unabashedly dig in.
Another peculiarity about this festival in my house is that my dad gets to do it! And here you were thinking that festivals are a universal celebration of religious fervour. No sir. Not here. According to the in-house religious expert a.k.a my mother, the majority of festivals …

How Did I Get Here?

Ever since Firefox introduced me to the world of tabs, I’ve often asked myself this question. There I am just browsing, maybe looking for something when a video or link grabs my attention. And before I know it, I’m off on a journey into the unknown …or a wild goose chase as the case may be. Usually I can get back to where I started without much ado but that’s only usually. The hardest route to trace back is when I get lost in Wikipedia, that vast black hole of time.
And today I finally have my app for that ;). Wikipedia Diver is a Firefox add on that answers my question. From the add-on page: This extension creates an sqlite database in your profile directory, and then logs all clicks between pages on Wikipedia to that database. It adds an item in the tools menu titled "WikiDiver Graph," which loads a page that allows you to see a graph of your Wikipedia browsing, arranged into "dives" (where a dive is a series of links through Wikipedia). What this means is that you…

IE 8 Safer Than Firefox…?

Couple of days ago, my sister came down with fever. Kind of sudden too, no heed, no warning. Tuesday she was fine and she had even gone to college in the morning. When she came home in the evening she had fever and wasn’t able to eat anything. At least eat and and have it stay inside. Pretty soon that night she had a fever of 103 F. After the usual round of doctors and tests she seems to be well on the road to recovery. But quite a tense couple of days. Good thing we’re not the panicky type of family!
Moving on from the serious to the absolutely hilarious. Techcrunch ran this storyon how Yahoo website users are directed to upgrade to the new safer IE 8. Now leaving aside the dubious and debatable safety of IE 8, it definitely makes sense to show this to the millions of IE 6 & 7 users. But surprise surprise, this is shown even to users of Firefox users! While just last year, Yahoo was touting the Firefox 3 release. Guess I finally found out what ‘alignment of business interests’ mea…

Fair Use Policy

A couple of weeks ago, I found on Airtel’s website that they had introduced new (unlimited) plans for broadband users. I was very excited since it meant I could upgrade to higher speeds for the same price. Unfortunately I also found out that they had imposed bandwidth caps in the guise of ‘Fair Use Policy.’ I was puzzled. Had Webster’s changed the definition of unlimited? I hurriedly googled it. No, the definition was the same, so what was this all about?
I decided to find out something about this so called FUP. What I found was horror, anger and betrayal. I’m not talking TV soap, just the reactions of consumers to the FUP. I found this petition going around with around 2000 signatories. Also one user had deciphered the FUP to layman’s language right here. Be sure to look at the spreadsheet showing deficiency in service. It would have been funny if it wasn’t so real.
As I see it, the company can either remove the unlimited plans or at least charge us half the rates for half the speeds.…

Tweetotaller…I’m One Too

I just read this Why I Don’t Use Twitter post by Devin Coldewey on Techcrunch. He managed to articulate most of my doubts on Twitter’s value, way better than I ever could. And he might have just invented a new word while he was at it. Impressive!
But the reasons why I don’t ‘get’ the whole Twitter train are different. For one thing none of my friends are on it, which is not surprising (for most of them, Gmail is still the ‘latest tech’). As for news, I still get mine the old fashioned way via the paper. For another, I cannot post from my mobile as it is too expensive, so real time is out of the question. The best use I’ve come up with so far is to pass around links, sort of like a bookmarking service.
Like most people, I have a lot of ways I consume information. For local news i.e about India (right now, national is local), my best source is still the newspaper. My favorite paper, The Hindu, still delivers the best content unlike the other gossip tabloids masquerading as papers (I’m lo…