So little time… so little to do

December 4, 2010

The gadget lust

Filed under: arbit,geeky — Priyam @ 3:37 am

Oh boy!!!… has it been a while since my last post. I think I have been a little busy with a lot on my plate most of that time. But seriously, is that even possible. If anyone told me that, I would not believe it. So I take that to be the case even for me. As it seems, it should get crazier from now on. But that is on the professional front. I digress. Let’s come back to the topic of this post.

Lately, I have been following a few gadget blogs which allow me to keep abreast of many of the cutting-edge electronic devices being leashed onto the world. Understanding the technical aspects, to some level, of many of them, I wonder how many of them even make a quick buck. I guess that is where marketing steps in. Being of the technical mind I can personally shove aside the longing lust that many feel for a shining well-marketed gadget. But when I lust for something, it has to have that technical as well as aesthetic appeal. Introducing the attractively addictive Android-based Adam tablet, a brainchild of a start-up called Notion Ink ( site), hailing from a special corner of the world – my motherland – India.

I have researched many products before buying them, seldom repenting the electronic purchases. But when I say I lust for this device, it should mean a lot. I have been following the exploits of this small company for many months now, with an ever increasing appetite. And now, it is very close to delivering the promised device. Too bad that that I have only been following it from the sidelines, being a mute spectator without active cheering (pre-orders limited to people who have commented on their blog posts at http://notionink.wordpress.com). On a positive note, Rohan (the CEO) is now to keep me (us) updated twice a week. Irrespective of the feeling of being left out of a Christmas self-gift, I feel actively updated about the whole building process, especially since it is a software-hardware start-up out of India. I hope and wish for the best for this device. And for me to get my hands on it.

A special request to the team at Bangalore – make it happen… fast… please. I now understand what my wife feels looking at an awesome outfit. Nah, still can’t fathom that. 🙂

July 21, 2008

quad pro duo

Filed under: geeky — Priyam @ 1:18 am
Tags: , , ,

If you are wondering what the title means, it is an intended pun from the phrase “quid pro quo”. I use it here to express my indecision over whether to go in for the intel core 2 quad or duo processors. On face value it should be a clear choice favoring the “quad” processor, but then you must read on to understand my concerns. Let’s first take a step back to the time when the proverbial pandora’s (here Intel’s) box was opened.

A few days back my girlfriend won an elephant in the form of a brand new Intel D975XBX rev 306 (nicknamed Bad Axe) motherboard in a lucky draw. That watered the seeds of a desktop that I have been yearning secretly for a while. I do have enough intensive machines at my disposal to which I login remotely to get my work done. However, as networks and physically inaccessible machines go, there is always that crunch time when they refuse to reciprocate your urgency. Hence the need for a physically accessible machine outside my lab cubicle. Not necessary, perhaps needed, certainly appreciated.

Now coming back to the motherboard. Now officially Intel claims that the board will support the Core 2 Duo (C2D) line of processors including the (quad core) Extreme editions (which at the time of writing fetches them a cool $1k !!) Compared to that the Core 2 Quad processors (Q6600 & Q6700) are perhaps a more sanely $200 approx. This should make the choice even easier except for the fact that officially the quads are unsupported by the Bad Axe (the BX2 version does). However, users, albeit few, have reportedly got it working with the latest BIOS updates. So what’s stopping me ? Well considering that I fix the cost at around the $200 mark for the processor, let’s look at the specs a bit :

The C2D processors that I can afford runs at a clock speed of around 3GHz whereas the Quads at that price work at 2.4GHz approx. Sure I can overclock and all that, but then again I would like to get a comparison without all the dirty business. Still this does not tilt the scales to the C2D considering that I get a quad processor in the Q6600. However, it becomes a bit of a stretch to actually term it so. It seems that all that the Q6600 [Q6700] is is a twin C2D E6600 [E6700]. The two C2D cores do communicate but over the bus which might result in decreased performance. Further they do not share the 2x4MB L2 caches, which might result in information duplication. In that sense the 6MB L2 of the C2D does not seem to be that bad after all.

The punchline however comes when I tell you that I do very limited, if at all, multithreaded programming. However, it would be nice to be able to run my processor intensive codes parallely with different parameters. Now here is a question for you. Walking in my shoes, what processor would you go for ?

May 12, 2008

My nightlife

Filed under: arbit,geeky — Priyam @ 3:53 pm

circle of my life

September 4, 2007

The eleventh hour

Filed under: arbit,geeky — Priyam @ 1:18 am

People who know me well will put a tick against the box which describes me as a perpetual procrastinator, much to my own chagrin at times. But such can be said of many of my fellow researchers, and I have met a few in my lifetime of grad school, you know the place where people of should-you-not-be-working-now age pose as students. In fact a typical week of many a researcher goes by in the following manner (statement valid only if the person has not struck gold yet with something that he/she has a real interest in doing) :

The meeting with the advisor usually ends with a to-do list as long as your girlfriend’s wishlist. Mind you, in research terms that is not always a bad thing, it quite simply means that there are still alleys to dig for that coveted prize. But then there is the usual overwhelming feeling of so little time, so much to do. So you begin with the most obvious thing that any man racing against time would – procrastinate. After all meetings take up a lot of energy and one needs time to gather ones thoughts to attack the problem. And much more importantly the next meeting is still a whole day or two away. Meanwhile what’s up with the world and did anyone post a message on my orkut or facebook ? In the movie this would be the place where they picture the clock and show it hours hand replace that of seconds, in double time. So ends another fruitful day of research.

Someday after that meeting, not much to go into the next : This would be the time when your brush up on your gathered thoughts, try to find that sheet of paper or the copy where you jotted down all that is expected of you by the next meeting. Finally having found that, you go through the items one at a time, mentally arranging them either by the time that each task promises to take or by the importance of each towards your next meeting. With a long list, this can easily take up more than a while, what with all the messages, mails to reply to and keeping track of the game going on in another distant part of the world. The next task is now discarding all those that you know will not be possible to complete by the next show-down, so why bother. Now that that is sorted out, we begin with the easiest ones which take away the feeling of not having done anything from the boss. Imagine this as the warm-up routine before any game. And from nowhere you are engulfed by this enormous feeling of “wow, I have done so much for one day”. Which brings us to that familiar “P” word.

The night before the meeting : You have obviously slept more than you planned to, procrastinated more than you wished to, achieved less than you hoped to. So now what. This is not the time for the weak at heart. You stare at the clock, making a quick estimate of the time in your hands, and cross check it with the wishlist of work. A further pruning, a few further reading needed comments and we are bang on target with our schedule. Before you loathe the poor grad student, do remember, the list to start with was longer than that of a weary eyed person standing in queue in front of an electronics shop on Thanksgiving. The general feeling of having failed suddenly gives way to the surprise of not having enough time to assemble all the results and thoughts – the fruit of guilty labor. Now one is faced with a new kind of challenge. Of work done but not properly represented in the form of report and presentations. Thus begins the process of recreating the magic of previous days, logging what worked and what did not, and if you are an experienced enough player, you are ready in time for the meeting, albeit high on enough caffeine to drive your eyes red. The feeling of having worked so hard.

P.S. : This is by no means what I do. Ok, not always. A further disclaimer seems necessary to remind the reader than this may be detrimental to the health of your thesis, not to mention the fact that by the time you graduate, your friends would be seeing off their kids to school.

July 5, 2007

M*A*S*H smash

Filed under: geeky — Priyam @ 4:34 pm

Recently I have bit by the MASH bug. This 70’s show (no pun intended) was something I used to watch a long time back, and recently when I came over to the US of A. I came across a lot of the episodes uploaded on Stage6. It is encoded in DivX quality and with firefox it needed me to install an add-on called MediaPlayerConnectivity. In Linux one would need to configure DivX to be played with Totem (for some reason Mplayer takes a long time for playback on my system, Totem does just fine). I have enjoyed many a episode of this series but today I was in for a shock. The add-on just does not kick in with Stage6 videos. I guess the people may have changed something on their site but luckily I have found a work around. joox.net lets you play videos from stage6 by uploading the link. Of course you need to be a registered (did I mention free) user to be able to do that for now. The video plays just fine from joox but it is too slow sometimes. I hope the stage6 people should give me back the ability to play divx files in Linux using the firefox add-on. Till then, enjoy, albeit in a slower mode.

May 16, 2007

Finders keepers, losers weepers?

Filed under: arbit,geeky — Priyam @ 2:48 am

Fact : The record number of H1B applications on the very first day forced the use of a lottery based system of deciding who gets to be kept back and who gets to pack their bag. Fact : This trend is more likely to continue till some form of remedial action is taken.

Like most other countries, I like to believe that the political will-force in the US lives in a realm quite apart from the realities facing the land it governs. A cap on the number of H1B visas to be granted each year is one of the many things that bring this fact to the frontline. Of course, this does not affect the very people who elect their governing body, so it is a matter not readily published in the front pages of the daily media. Instead it makes headlines in countries which make their presence felt in every corner of the work force here. But let’s take a closer look at what has and might happen. I leave it to the quicksand of time to reveal what will eventually turn out to be true.

As would be true with any place, Americans are definitely not a happy lot with their jobs been taken offshore in want of cheaper labor. Neither can one expect to be greeted with a broad grin when you come to their land to earn your bread. This is but natural. For fact, it is one of the symbiotic relationships that perhaps affect either party in a good way and bad. While people shout at their jobs being handed over to “foreigners” nobody seems to care for the revenue created when the product of these jobs are sold in these very places. On the other hand, while my country continues to worry about brain drain, it never seems to complain about the steady flow of foreign exchange in its coffers. Win some, lose some.

But here comes the interesting part that does not seem to directly affect the lot in either shore. The H1B criterion as seen from a student’s perspective. If you contact anyone who has been gearing up to face the realities of higher education in the US, you will find that an extraordinary amount of time, effort and money put into the  whole process. While some bright and some lucky ones find themselves on the payroll of the universities, others are forced to bear the brunt of the raw side of the currency conversion rate to support their formal education. The returns in the form of intellectual or monetary property due to this influx of students makes no surprise the reason for the universities to market their education in countries like India and China. From the students point of view, this burden is still bearable staring at the future which promises a good return of investment…….. but only if one is able to work for a couple or more number of years after graduating. Place a cap on the visa, and what you get is the harsh reality of being left high and dry with heavy bank loans to repay. This hardly makes a case for leaving ones dear and near ones in search of higher education and perhaps the options of a better life, economically, even after returning to the motherland, as one would have promised at the time of being granted the much coveted student visa.

How does India stand to gain from this ? For starters, this will certainly make one double think whether it is worth investing lump sums in an education which can be obtained at a fraction of a cost in ones own motherland. The ratio of return would also probably be much higher, given the economic boom in India. But is the lack of action on the part of the US enough to ensure a check on brain drain in India. Definitely not. It will only be a matter of time till some form of affirmative action is put in place or some other country appears to glitter brighter. I believe, this is the right time for India to spring forward and embrace actions to make sure this extra wave of students are granted their right to quality higher education which can be beneficial to the national growth.

Whether some years down the line this situation prevails and I am told to pack my bags and head home is something left to be seen. I am sure, I will be able to head back with a bright grin and tears of joy.

April 27, 2007

Green->House effect

Filed under: geeky — Priyam @ 6:59 pm

… I am talking about the slipping green – the once international (or is it still) de facto trading currency – U$ Dollar. I still remember the time when I started my coin collection and was interested in the value of coins and notes that I owned. That was a time when the Dollar would have squared with thirty of the Indian Gandhis. From that moment onwards the only recollection of this face off that I have is the Rupee slipping, or at best holding ground for some time. The times, they are a changing…. or has been for the last few months or so. So hows does that affect me ? Well directly, and indirectly.

Directly in the sense now that I have to sell off more of the dollars to fetch the same Indian convert. Now, due to my financial status the amount I send home at present does not really make a big difference to a small change in the conversion rate. But I bet it does to a whole lot of other people. I could well imagine a lot of people out here not being happy at the steady climb at the rupee. Specially if they are steady senders. But I, for one, feel happy about the position at present. I am not a well read person in the field of economics but from what I understand this current state has a lot to do with internal matters of economic India. The economy, as I understand, was growing at a steady, and at time, alarming rate and the government was paying considerable attention to curb overheating, not to mention inflation which had hooked on tot the growing curve. With a important states going under the ballot, it was just understandable that inflation would be a major agenda of campaigning. The decision to increase bank interests and the RBI taking its hands of stemming the growth of the Indian currency seem to be all attributed to that. Good or bad, is something which will probably be decided on a per case basis. What happens if the dollar loses ground ? For one, petrol being imported majorly into the country become cheaper due to its selling price being tagged in the USD. Not surprisingly, “gas” has become cheaper in India as people in the US look for more fuel efficient cars. As a lot of other factors are based on this one commodity, it seems to keep a check on inflation, more importantly survival costs of the lay man. One would say that it would thus be selfish for anyone to wish otherwise. Well, not true.

We come to face the flip side of a muscular Rupee. What used to keep the value in check was RBI’s buying of dollars to create a steady demand for the green. With a strong godown full with it, the tying hands are off allowing a face off between the two currencies. The consequential loss of demand takes the smile off the software industry and exporters in general. The whole standing point of their business being based on strong brain-power on lesser cost seems to wear off as the rupee gains resulting in lower profit or higher costs to client. Neither of this, as can be expected, is an attraction. With export of software and service (ITES) being a big chunk of the Indian claim to fame, it will be very surprising if the downward trend is allowed to continue without any check. I guess once it has dipped low enough the chaining hands will once again be brought in to play their part in stabilizing the market.

Disclaimer : The author is not an economist, nor a regular follower of the economic trends. He just happens to have an interest towards finance and some free time here and there to wander around reading articles following the Indian and/or international market. Hence the information contained herein is not to be taken as words of a guru. For that matter, all of the others posts should be treated under similar light.

December 6, 2006

A lot of nothings…

Filed under: geeky,sports — Priyam @ 12:46 pm

Statutory warning : most of the stuff in this entry are technical in nature and may be boring to some (if any) readers. This is an aberration from the general content of my posts !

Well, what do you expect? It seems just like the other day that I arrived here, and the first quarter of the academic is year behind me already. Haven’t got much sleep for the last week or so, some nights out of necessity, some just for the heck of it. So when I warmed up my bed for such a long time today, it felt like a long overdue thing. So finally I get time to play around with my new laptop. People who know me know that I am the kind of person who spends time and (some) money on sight and sound. I am glad that I spent a few extra dollars on the slick screen that came with my new Dell laptop. I was really pissed off when the Ubuntu distribution I tried out did not give me the best effects out of the box. Google, google, hack, hack…. and finally !! A great screen. I would say it does not come far behind the excellent Mac ones.

There are other things in Linux to be taken care of still. The wireless thing is not readily supported, though the Ethernet car works just fine. I expect to get that working by today. And stupid Matlab will not install because of some display problem. Now these are real deal breakers. And high on the priority list of working around right now.

In my perpetual search for extensions to Firefox, finally my hopeless search of getting European football action delivered to my browser is satisfied. For sometime now I have been trying to get the latest news, scores and schedules of the big league matches displayed in my personalized Google home. That and the authentic weather of the three cities that I am interested in, the ones that I have stayed in. But things just refuse to refresh, with updated and authentic information. And finally, FootieFox looks like the answer to the football part of the search. This thing so excites me with what it promises to deliver that I am tempted to devote a separate blog entry for this extension alone. But I refrain from reporting too early. Let me evaluate it for a few days and then probably I will give it its just dues. Right now it reports that Reading leads Newscastle United 2:1 in the English Premiere League.

October 26, 2006

Geeky Times….

Filed under: geeky — Priyam @ 10:15 pm

ok so in the midst of all the gloomy work schedule and deadlines screaming at me there is something good (or so I hope) lighting up a smile on my face…. ok a bigger smile…. review for another of my work just flowed in and it was not cut to pieces as I had expected. Turns out the work that I do is not that bad after all. Before I get carried away, let me inform you and remind myself that there are changes and explanations to be provided before the second paper gets accepted finally. But I have time for that.

Till then enjoy…. oops!! sorry, work !!! Lotsa deadlines, remember ?? !!! 😦

October 23, 2006

Deadlines…

Filed under: geeky — Priyam @ 8:26 pm

have you ever wondered why they call it a deadline….?? Is it because you are supposed to be almost dead when you reach that timeline….?? In that case I shudder to predict my state of affairs in the next 10 days. Already tagging along a bag full of deadlines I was greeted by a mail from my advisor asking me to give a presentation at an upcoming seminar in just about more than a week’s time. Someone had cancelled and he thoughtfully offered me the place. It is indeed quite a good thing for me but then again, is it ? With three assignment submissions, two mid-terms and a paper deadline already taking their aim at me in the space of 10 days, this one just sits pretty like the cheery on top of the icing.

Did I mention that procrastination can sometimes land you in unexpected workload, like now ? I wish I could repeat the wise words from my heart – “I love deadlines, specially the whooshing sounds that they make when passing by”.

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