Space For Rent

Subsiste Sermonem Statim Subsiste Sermonem Statim

Orkut vs Facebook

Posted by Kunal on October 18, 2010

A story told by my gmail inbox. Orkut’s popularity peaked in 2006 when I just got onto Facebook. Since then, Orkut declined sharply and it has pretty much died since 2009. Also of interest are the spikes in activity in the month of March, which can be explained by my birthday falling in that month. I used a fantastic visualization extension called Graph Your Inbox for this post.

Orkut emails in my inbox over time

Facebook emails in my inbox over time

Combining the data on the same graph

Posted in General | 3 Comments »

When I have the time

Posted by Kunal on February 20, 2009

Originally posted on a mailing list that I am a part of, this is a list of things that I would do when I have free time on my hand. However, as is my wont, free time or no free time, I will end up doing most of these thing through structured procrastination if at all. C’est la vie!

  1. Understand the world of money and all the jargon that comes with it.
  2. Learn a musical instrument (notwithstanding two failed attempts at being a rockstar).
  3. Buy a fancy road bike and take part in a century ride.
  4. Relearn mathematics.
  5. Learn a real dance.
  6. Get back to reading all the unread books on my shelf.
  7. Live without a laptop and internet for a month.
  8. Run a marathon.
  9. Go on a eurotrip (when I have the time AND the money).

Posted in General, Life Log | 1 Comment »

Youtube and nostalgia

Posted by Kunal on November 25, 2008

An essential part of being a desi grad student in America is watching old Indian television ads. By old I mean late 80s and early 90s, when people of my age were growing up. The monopoly of Doordarshan on the television meant that we all have grown up watching the same things. Youtube, the great time waster, is as usual more than happy to provide tons of old ads and suggesting other relevant ads. I have experienced quite a few of these ad watching sessions in my house. Memories. They come flooding back and the jingles are still surprisingly fresh in memory.

For a country that produces mostly formulaic movies with an utter lack of creativity, the television advertising industry is a class apart. In my limited experience of watching american television, the ads are very dull and stupid here. Perhaps it is due to lack of interesting subjects :)

Posted in musings | 5 Comments »

Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from nonsense

Posted by Kunal on September 23, 2008

Heroes started its 3rd season this week and I have mixed feelings after watching it. I didn’t like the second season as much as the first season and the new one doesn’t look promising after the first show. I think the problem is that the plot is growing more and more convoluted. Heroes has one character who can freeze time and travel back and forth in time, as well as two other characters who are all-powerful (they absorb the powers of everyone else). As you can imagine, this is just a recipe for non-sequiters and inanities. Time travel is itself full of very interesting possibilities and in my opinion, the Back to the Future series deals with the cause-effect conundrums quite well. The writers for Heroes have just gone amuck with all the super powers.

Even Harry Potter, a series that I admire very much, had its share of problems as the series grew. I wrote about it briefly in the past.

Posted in General | 4 Comments »

Google Chrome and the new era of the browser OS

Posted by Kunal on September 2, 2008

Unless you are living under a rock (narrowly defined as someone who doesn’t obsessively follow the blogosphere/social news :)), you would know that Google is releasing an open source browser called Chrome today. Since I am twittering a lot* about it, I thought I might as well type more than 140 characters for this topic.

I have played with Chrome when I was interning in Google during the summer and was quite impressed by the software. As you will notice after using Chrome, it is fast, sleek and more reliable than Firefox Lately, FF seems to crash a lot on me; most of the times due to some flash website or something similar. Chrome’s ‘one process per tab’ architecture will mitigate this problem. Firefox’s traditional strength has been its community and the plethora of addons that make it so useful. It would be interesting to see how the community reacts to another open source browser. When I first used Chrome, I was very excited about the new thoughtful features in the browser, but a lot of it is now implemented in Firefox 3 as well. Infact, Mozilla just announced that they further improved the speed of their javascript engine, a fact that removes some shine off V8, Chrome’s javascript engine (when it was first implemented, it was waay faster than the state of the art at that time. 20x or so). Lots of excitement notwithstanding, I had to keep my mouth shut till the official release :)

With the recent release of Mozilla Ubiquity and now Chrome, there will be a paradigm shift in terms of how browsers are viewed. To rehash what many people have been saying, the browser is the new OS. Not Operating System as in the classical definition of something that manages resources, but OS as a software platform. Think of Ubiquity as the new command line and now Chrome brings separate processes and integrated offline experience (through Gears), and you get something that starts resembling a good platform to build your applications on. This is clearly an exciting phase for browsers!

Chrome is currently being released only for Windows and so I won’t be able to use it much. I will wait till I can get my hands on the beta release for my favorite real Operating System ;)

* I hate Twitter, but I love micro blogging. 140 characters seems too limiting, but it is quite useful for people like me who are lazy to write big blog posts :)

Posted in Geek Life, open source, Software | Leave a Comment »

Second ammendment

Posted by Kunal on June 26, 2008

Justices Rule For Individual Gun Rights

I don’t know what to think of this. On one hand, my libertarian leanings make me think that gun-control is wrong; the civilians should be able to carry out a armed revolt against the government. It is admirable that the United States had such a radical/revolutionary clause in their constitution. On the other hand, guns in the hands of people just doesn’t make sense. People argue that guns in the hands of people who can’t use them responsibly gives gun-ownership a bad name. But when you live in Atlanta and hear of students getting mugged at gun-point (with a sawed-off shotgun no less), gun ownership seems just wrong. Guns probably made sense in the USA 200 years ago but it doesn’t make any sense in the present day to me. It is an antiquated idea that should be disposed off. Make love not war :) Perhaps my libertarian friends can disabuse me of my notions.

Posted in musings | 7 Comments »

Corporate talk

Posted by Kunal on June 7, 2008

Paul Buchheit‘s list of corporate values:

– Don’t be evil

– Don’t be stupid

– Change the world

– Make a bunch of money

Posted in Humour | 6 Comments »

Geek Learnings of Unix for make benefit glorious head of kunal

Posted by Kunal on April 11, 2008

One of the best things about being a grad student is the fact that currently I have 3 machines at my disposal. Three linux machines have really brought out the Unix geek in me. I will try to document some cool tips that I have grokked from the interwebs. Without much ado, here are some learnings –

1. Coloured grep

Why didn’t anyone tell me about this before? This should be a standard IMHO. Just invoke grep with the option –color=tty for a coloured output. I have created an alias for this and put it in my .bashrc.

alias grep='grep --color=tty'

2. SSH

With multiple computers at your disposal, SSH is a necessity. One great feature of SSH is the ability to authenticate using public key. Not only is this method more secure than passwords, but it is also painless.

This page on Debian administration explains how easy it is to set up public key authentication.

3. Screen

I am a complete newbie to screen but it seems like an awesome tool. Screen is a great way to have persistent command line sessions. If you want to reconnect to your work terminal from your laptop or another machine, screen is just the solution. screen -dr is a real savior.

Posted in Geek Life, Software | 3 Comments »

But Why?

Posted by Kunal on October 23, 2007

I am a big fan of open standards and open source in general. As a consequence, I get a lot of questions like “Why would anyone give away valuable software for free?”

Boost provides an excellent answer:

Businesses and other organizations often prefer to have code developed, maintained, and improved in the open source community when it does not contain technology specific to their application domain, because it allows them to focus more development resources on their core business.

Individuals contribute for the technical challenge, to hone their technical skills, for the sense of community, as part of their graduate school programs, as a way around geographic isolation, to enhance their employment opportunities, and as advertisements for their consulting services. There are probably as many reasons as there are individuals. Some of the apparently individual contributions come from employees of support companies with contracts from businesses or other organizations who have an interest in seeing that a library is well-maintained.

While it isn’t very difficult to imagine why open source software works, it is much harder to explain why Wikipedia works as there are fewer incentives at play. Very few infact. But wikipedia still works and it serves as an excellent starting point for finding information about absolutely anything. Maybe it is the sense of giving back to the community that makes it work or maybe something else. I can’t put my finger on what makes it work. The following joke I think sums up the mystery of wikipedia perfectly

The problem with Wikipedia is that it never works in theory, it only works in practice!

Posted in musings | 2 Comments »

Linkin Park = rock ?

Posted by Kunal on June 5, 2007

It seems Linkin Park is hugely popular in India. At least thats what Google Music Trends says. There is even someone called Mithoon in the top 20 songs in the rock genre! I surely hope that this is not representative of the average music listener in India.

Posted in Music | 6 Comments »