An Owl's 2 hoots

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Lazy Saturday

Today I did not have anything to do, so I went to a town park. Below are some snaps which I took there.

Vithyaasama photo edukaren pervazhi nu eduthadhu!. Adhigaprasangi thanama irundhaa, mannichudunga!.

Their own world Posted by Picasa

Look at these ants. No care in the world - the human world, I mean. Their life is so simple - no education, no jobs, no NRI's X+1 syndrome.. all they have to worry about is gathering food, escape the occasional clumsy human's foot. Sigh!.

Age of a Tree Posted by Picasa

Says the fallen tree:

I would have lived longer
- if they did not try to find my age!.


Nature's Love Posted by Picasa

Mother Nature's way of expressing Love - heart shaped leaves. Basically, nature seems to be benevolent most of the times. Look at most of the so-called "natural disasters" - earthquakes, tsunamis in S. Asia - all caused due to Man's pursuits.

Have a nice weekend!


Thursday, July 28, 2005

Annoying terminolgies in CS field and...

... some nice ones.

I wanted to write about this for a long time, but kept forgetting about it.

Note: Non-computer science readers: Please forgive me. You may not be familiar with some of these terms. But hey!, you would atleast know whether they are annoying or not!.

Disclaimer: I am not against any particular technology or platform.

Below are some terms frequently used in CS and IT fields which annoy me to any extent - although I use it so very often. Reasons maybe that I cannot stand listening to un-necessary jargon (by the way, what is the non-technical term of jargon?), or maybe I have heard some of these terms being used and abused a lot, or may simply be since they just don't make any sense. So, here goes:

1. Server: A server (in the real world) is someone who serves people; who awaits orders. Now, when did this "server" become the all-powerful entity in an infrastructure?. "Oh, is this the server?. Wow!, looks menacing.. must have atleast a ton of RAM in it". "Sorry.. server is down.. you cannot complete the work". Bah!.

2. foobar: Now, I really want to scissor-kick the person who invented this term. Believe it or not, this word was one of the main reasons why I did not proceed to learn C++. The book was filled with foobars. I think I hate this term the most.

3. plug-in: Another well abused term (mostly in the Java community). There is something inherently plugged-in this term which makes my blood boil!.

4. Any and every software engineering terms: What I call as "bajanai terms". I have met atleast N number of CS people who said they hate this field. "Specifications, estimates, requirements".. kadha adikaadha.. Please code already!!!.

5. Hello World: Need I explain this?.

6. IT: and all other fancy abbreviations (why is abbreviation such a long word?). When did good ol' Income Tax become Information Technology?. Please stop stealing historical shortforms.

7. Coding: I don't know why I exactly I hate this, but I would anyday prefer "implementing" or "programming" or even "writing software" in place of this. Coding sounds too cheap and local.

8. Samba: Ok, Ok. This is definitely because I don't like that genre of music.

9. *NIX: What's up with that?. Hey, either write UNIX or specify which particular flavor. Don't remind us that you are a nerd.

10. C#: I just completed my Java course and guess what happened?. A new technology called C#. I felt so cheated. :-(

11. GUI: I don't mind saying this as a short form, but please don't say it as a word. Gui.. gui.. so irritating.

12. On-Site: This is a term used by software professionals back in India. As I recall reading somewhere, it is now a fashion to mention "On-site" rather than "abroad" or "overseas". Saying on-site makes it sound as if the person is going to another country (U.S) and would be physically present ONLY in the aapees there.

13. Ontology: This is kind of a personal observation. In a recent conference I attended, I saw this word being mentioned/used/implemented by every second guy. Talk about overkilling!.

If you are thinking: "Lookee.. it's a self-hating CS guy", please don't. I myself use most of these terms several times in a week, and put a smile behind it too!.

On the other hand, there are some terms which I like a lot and I put a sincere smile when I say it:

1. Concatenation: ah!. such a nice sounding word. That's what we need in today's world. Joining, co-operation. How can one not like this word?.

2. Time complexity: Efficiency is very important in what one does. It's not enough if we work hard, we need to work smart. Time and Timing is very critical. How can one not like this word?.

3. Information Integration: Lots of disparate information are scattered all over the place. How to bring them all together. What a wonderful concept!. Who would'nt like this one?.

4. Java: Hee hee. I am sneaky. Its the only Object-oriented language I know. And I spent money to learn it. So, I better like it!. Hee hee!.
Also, complements next point.

5. Object-Orientedness: Complements above point.

6. Data Mining: Now, the person who invented this term is a genius. It could have been data digging, data exhuming, or umpteen other words. But only DATA MINING could refer to the process of getting precious knowledge from raw and otherwise useless (integrated) data.

7. Hashing: I am not sure why I like this term, but the concept of hashing fascinates me. Such an efficient process in search and retrieval. May also be because I call "#" symbol as hash instead of "pound". Ha ha .. take that!.

8. Schema: Good ol' data base terminolgy. A humbling term, which reminds one to keep his/her feet firmly on the ground and organize their data sensibly.

9. blog: hee hee.. cheap shot!..

Just for fun!!.


Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Four years here

Today - July 26th 2005 marks the 4th anniversary of my stay in the US. I have learnt a lot of things (and am still learning) in my stay here. This post is a reflection of the past 4 years (just the highlights)- most of which were spent as a student. It could be a long post (I may be amused to read it after a few more years), so bear with me.

Defining moments (2001-2005):

1. Got an admission for MS in Arizona State University with no assistantship. No idea about courses.

2. Experienced a sinking feeling (in more than one sense) when the plane took off from Madras. Reached Frankfurt. Some guy was calling his parents in Madras. Gave him my home number to inform them through his parents. He did'nt even bother.

3. Reached Phoenix on the same day I started from India (!!). Senior had come to pick me up. Blast of hot air (dry heat!) hit me on the face outside the airport- Welcome To USA!.

4. Senior said he had some rice and buttermilk. Ate them hungrily. Crazy jet-lag. Did not know when I fell asleep. Rudely awoken by the song - "Mudhal kanave (majnu)" from the music system in full volume by senior's roomie. Realized that its every man for himself here.

5. Went to Comp. Science senior to ask him about what courses to take. Was planning on taking all courses that ended with NETWORKS (Computer Networks, Advanced Computer Networks, Wireless Networks, Broadband Networks, etc.), since most of us were planning to take it. He asked me to identify my area of interest. ???!!?

6. Several things to do: SSN office, apartment search, FEES, course registration, etc. etc. One of the guys who would be my roomie was feeling home-sick and wanted to go back to India!.

7. Another senior took me to a trekking trip nearby. Saw an original diamondback rattle snake on the trail.

8. Mistakes galore: misplaced my passport, BE transcripts, etc. in the registrar's office. Panicked for hours before I got them back. Registered for a horrible, horrible course (biggest mistake in my life, till now); at the same time, also registered for the course which would pave the life for me from then on. Little did I realize it then.

9. No assistanship; no hourly job yet; worst!. Took the TA test and passed it. Was included in the pile of applications. Got an hourly job as an usher/ticket collector in a NFL stadium. Sustainance was possible!. Learnt that no job is less; learnt to give respect to all. FIRST EYE OPENER.

10. September 11 - bang!. I was going to the lab of the god-forsaken course which I had taken. Saw some commotion with people watching TV. Thought it was a movie. Terrible day!!

11. Too many things happening at the same time. Got selected in the first round of a summer internship job. Had to go to Denver for the second round interview. Thought I did well. Came back and saw an email.. "Dear Mr., Although your qualifications.... ". I did'nt have to read it any more. Bulb!. FIRST MAJOR FAILURE. Devastated.

12. Somehow completed the final exams. Yet to find an area of interest. Yet to find an assistantship. Where is that "Land of Milk and Honey"?.

13. Out of the blue, there was an opening for an RA in Data Mining for a person with background in Image Processing and Analysis. Was asked by the professor to do some preliminary work for him to decide. Had never worked harder during that december, yet the prof. was killing my works. Like a rubber ball, was bounced again and again. This was it!. Finally, the prof. said, "I like your resilience.. you can join me". Oh, how happy was that day!.

14. Started learning things; realized that I had done a good thing choosing that course; identified my area of interest. 2 semesters go as a flash.

15. My first paper!.

16. Got introduced to a research lab in Phoenix through the University. They were requiring someone with my background.

17. India trip - after 1.5 years. Nice 30 days.

18. Back. Continued research work and courses. Revisited the Phoenix research lab who said they were willing to offer a summer internship.

19. After a few tense weeks, got the internship. Nice environment and ideal atmosphere for widening my works. More papers.

20. Expected the lab to take me in for full time; unfortunately a grant was cancelled. Bulb!. Another low point.

21. At the same time had to finish thesis. Applied for OPT (a.ka. time bomb!). Started applying for jobs side-by-side. Worst period for US economy.

22. Graduated at the end of 2003!. Felt so relieved!. My PG!!

23. Approached by a research lab in Florida since I had some experience working with biologists. Had to wait for 1 month to get things going. At last!, offerred a research assoc. post!

24. Leaving Arizona after 2.5 years. Different experience in Florida since I would living alone.

25. Applied for H1B, and got it in June. More papers.

26. Parents visited me in Dec. 2004.

26. Been almost 1.5 years after coming to Florida.

27. Going on.

Some unforgettable incidents:

Some exciting events during my stay here:

1. Encounter with a full grown alligator: Happened at the Everglades National Forest, FL. Had been canoeing with 2 other friends. Right after we started, the canoe went out of control and drifted towards the opposite bank - straight to a 12-foot alligator. I was at the front end. Thud!. Pure and raw fear; a certain slaughter in the making. People were shouting at us to get back!. Thats easier said than done. Somehow used our oars to come back a bit. But not for long!, went again and hit the guy again smack on the torso!. I thought I was finished already!. Luckily he was not impressed with us and ignored us!. Whewww!!. We were out barely for 50 feet from the renting station. Returned the canoe back and packed up. Great escape!.

2. Sky diving: In Florida; 12,000 feet tandem-jump. Jumped from the plane with the instructor; 60 seconds of free-fall at 120 Mph; then 6 minutes of parachuting. Awesome experience!.

3. Big Hurricane season 2004: Lots of storms; lots of wind power.

A big learning experience altogether. Lot of highs and lows. But on an average, it has been good. I don't know how long I would be staying here. No plans made; just taking life as it comes. Right from the course which I took in the first semester, till now, everything seems to be connected somehow. So, lets see how it goes from here.


Saturday, July 23, 2005

Left or Right?

lefty Posted by Picasa

I started playing football (soccer) with my colleagues at work. The first thing everyone (excluding me) noticed was that I kicked the ball with my left leg - I am right-handed. I hav'nt played football seriously till now, but even if it is a stone on the road, semi-consciously I kick it with my left leg. Not only that, I shuffle a pack of cards with my left hand doing the shuffling action. Even at the gym, I noticed my left leg and arm is slightly stronger than the right. And yet, I am right-handed.

My handwriting was pretty bad when I was in school - my tamil teacher used to say - "kozhi kirukkal" and "kye ezhuthu thala ezhuthu maari irukku". At that time, I retorted by saying, "it is not how I write, its what I write that matters".

Maybe I was meant to be left-handed, and someone or something caused me to change to right-handed. I hope it was not because of someone telling me it is wrong to use the left hand for writing. Whatever be the case, I feel I am missing something!.


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

(hee hee)e-mail

The following incident was re-told to me by my friend KR when he was still in university. Conversation between a student and his friend who works for the d.evil (Microsoft):

Student: dei.. enga university computer system a hack pantaanga da. email down.. :-(

Microsoft peetar: adhuku dhaan Microsoft Exchange server use panni irukanum.

Student: yea, nee solradhu sari dhaan. Avanunga hack pandra samayathula epidium Exchange server crash aagi irukum illa?. Correct da!

Microsoft peetar: ?!??!?!?.

A lighter post after 2 pretty heavy ones.

Hackers breaking into university computer systems is not new; in fact, even today there was a story about a break-in at the University of Southern California (USC). I remembered the above incident when I read this.


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

So, they DO agree...

In a related article, CNN has acknowledged that the US indeed lost the Vietnam war. Although this was a fact for several decades, many of the hard-nosed politicians, veterans and citizens refused to agree. So many euphemisms were cited to the one too many mess-ups which were made there.

Incidentally, I was reading this article which was mentioning about how double-standards were being used by the west in viewing and accepting terror attacks in developing countries. Although the article mentioned may have been written using an over-enthusiastic and over-zealous pen, the author still carries the point home.

I guess it would take some more time for "them" to come around.

Updated: Civilian deaths in Iraq.


Saturday, July 16, 2005

Anniversary of the Mushroom-shaped-cloud

Yesterday (July 16th, 2005) marked the anniversary of the first nuclear explosion. The first test was conducted at the Trinity test site, New Mexico (USA) in 1945. During the explosion, a 40,000 feet high mushroom-shaped cloud was formed and the blast was seen from almost 250 miles away. All life forms within a 10 mile radius were vaporized. The A-bomb was born!.

A-bomb Posted by Picasa

This was the beginning of the "Manhattan project" which ended with 2 Japanese cities being destroyed during WW II. That was the only occasion where an A-bomb was used for military reasons against a nation.

We have come a long way from that first explosion. The atom and the nuclear power has been associated with mostly beneficial uses - nuclear energy and nuclear research (world over), but sometimes for threats (N. Korea) and at times for lies (search for WMDs).

This year, thousands of people visited the site of the explosion. Nothing remains there, of course.

True story: today while I was returning back home from the beach, I saw some rain-bearing clouds (hey!, it's Florida!) resembling a mushroom.

Lets hope that the only mushroom shaped clouds we would see in the future are real clouds.


Friday, July 15, 2005

Interesting road-side signs

I found these interesting signs on the roads of florida.

Deaf Child Posted by Picasa

Gator crossing Posted by Picasa

Scary 1Posted by Picasa

Scary 2 Posted by Picasa

Scary 3 Posted by Picasa


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Mysteries of mankind

Posted by Picasa

A person is first an individual - a life form primarily. Social and ethical aspects would probably come only later. Simply put, man first thinks for himself, lives for himself and then if he is safe and sound, he ventures to help others . People who deviate from this aspect are not human beings, they are something else.

Note: The above are my views and I don't plan to substantiate it with references. But somehow I feel this is fair to assume.

If that being the case, why does a person who can tolerate an attack on his individual self (say, abusing verbally - "you are worthless") becomes incensed when the same is said in general - "all men are worthless" or "your type of people are always like this" (apply some caste name here). Why should something said in general affect us? And it does affect us and we react too. To me, it seems to be counter-intuitive.

To think in a broader sense, perhaps it is because of this mystery, that mimicking human brain using Artifical Intelligence has not become such a big hit as we expected it to. We are way too complex for a computer to understand!


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Nizhalinn arumai

Time and again, I am being proved that I am just an ordinary human - various bulbs, lessons in humilty... the list goes on and on. This time, however was my state of helplessness due to my dependency on a thing as materialistic as a cell phone.

While I was gloating about my relief on how I escaped the hurricane, I failed to look beyond my one-dimensional view. Seems that the winds knocked some telecommunications towers of my service provider (T-Mobile) elsewhere and I am being affected by that. In fact, I did'nt even know that I was affected until my cell phone mysteriously glowed by itself. Little did I know that it was happening when someone was calling. But here was (is) the weird thing - I can make calls, just not recieve them. My friend KR who lives in Minnesota usually calls me multiple times during the weekend. Now, I always kalaasify this guy since his phone coverage is bad in his residence. Now it was his turn to turn up the heat. Oh my, what a dose I got from him!. Nizhaloda arumai veyyil la dhaan therium. I don't remember being so isolated in the recent past.

So, I called customer support. Apart being put on hold for eons, the voice recording was adding insult to injury by saying "Now that your complaint has been logged, you can hang up and we will call you right back...". Nondhuttein. They must have restored the service partially, since today it seemed to work most of the time, but one of my colleagues said it did not ring when he called me.

Lessons learnt: I realized some subtle things: I was the same person 2 years ago, when I did not yet have a cell phone. I did not care about it, in fact, even the land line which we shared in the apartment was rarely used for talking (only surfing). Apidi irundhavan, pudhusu pudhusaa yedhuko pazhakkam aagi.. tholla thaangala.

My brother used to read 'Autobiography of a Yogi' and such books and used to tell me: You got to be attached to the un-attached. I used to tell him - "ennada solra?. poi rasam saadham saapudu".

Ippo puriyudhu....

Aaaga mothathula nalla paadam enakku.


Saturday, July 09, 2005

Has this happened to you?

While blogging, I just noticed myself doing some things unconsciously, which amused me. I am not sure if this happened to anyone else?!.

1. When you go blog-hopping, have you noticed a girl's name and clicked on it (which takes you to the profile - obviously no age there - "kaanjiyaa?") and clicked again on the blog link - only to see loooong poems, and you are out of there in 2 seconds?. I must admit, I have done this several times. So stereotypical of me.

2. Feel annoyed or *gulp* jealous that a lousy post received 30+ comments?. And pretend to feel better since the author himself has written lots of comments?!

3. See a really nice post and feel obliged to comment - only to see that your thoughts have already been expressed - "yovv.. ellam munnadiye solliyaachu. po po.."

4. Forced yourself to comment because you have an obligation to do so, since you visit some blogs frequently? .. (please, please, frequent visitors to my blog - I don't mean you.. you are gems!!!)

I just hope these things are natural to everyone. Else, I am one screwed up mental case!!

Just for fun!.

PS: Reason for my happy mood - great escape from hurricane dennis!


Friday, July 08, 2005

Useless fact # 4

It's been sometime since I wrote about useless facts. I was watching some celebrity news and as usual it was regarding some materialistic crap. Thinking more on the subject, I came up with this:

Useless fact # 4:

The reason why hollywood actresses don't change their last names after marrying is because they know that they would divorce some time or the other.

Proof: Is'nt this true.?
hee hee.


Previous useless facts:

Thursday, July 07, 2005

ஆப்பு தான்!!

Aappu - courtesy NHC Posted by Picasa

Looks like this hurricane season would be a record breaking one. This is the first time in the recorded history that 4 named storms have materialized so soon (it's barely july). Also this is the first time a category-3 hurricane (> 114 mph) hit the US since 1936 so early in the season. And Dennis (nalla peru vekkaraanga) seems to be coming right to the Gulf coast.

PS: Strike Category 3, make it Category 4 (updated on July 8th).


Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Saturation point

In schooldays, we read about famous contributors to Physics like Einstein, Planck, Newton, Raman, etc. Ancient mathematicians like Pythagoras, Aryabhatta, Ptolemy to "recent" ones like Euler, Ramanujam, Erdos, etc. were also well read about. The case can also be extended to Biology and Chemistry. Although work has been done in Physics, Chemistry, Medicine (as the Nobel prizes would indicate), why isn't the common man hearing anything about them?

For instance, the "latest" I can think about a major contributor(s) in the field of, say, Medicine would be Watson & Crick (of the DNA model), which was way back in 1962. I checked the Nobel prize web site and to my shame, I missed an Indian (Dr. Har Gobind Khorana) who won it in 1968. Why is that?. Is it my ignorance, or is the sylabi so badly outdated?. I know, that in this age and time, one can get infinite resources on the Net, yet, I think students would benefit if they are asked to study contemporary science side-by-side with their traditional school courses. For this reasoning, I am not considering post-graduates or post-docs in one particular field - in which case, one NEEDS to advance his/her knowledge. This applies to the extension of one's gamut of General Knoweldge.

So how much should we learn and what should we learn?

Lets take Physics as an example. Physics is a field where one good idea can turn the whole world upside down. Relativity overturned Newtonian concepts. Now quantum theory is threatening to disprove relativity. In Life sciences, Darwin's evolutionary theory was looked upon with disdain when he proposed it. But does this mean that one should not read about a "disproved fact"?. Do we need it for historical reasons?. In short, what is deserved to be known?

Is the world now made up of too many small things and none substantial?

I do not know the answer.

PS: Do we feel the same with Literature, Poetry and the Arts?