Saturday, April 29, 2006

Orkut Rocks!!!

After being unsucessful in my search of old school friends for so long, Orkut finally came to help. In past few days I met almost 10 old friends on orkut and got connected to many others through these 10.

10 might seem like a small number but the fact to be noted is that these ppl are all from only 2 out of the 7 different schools I studied in before coming to IIIT. Now the contact chain is getting longer and longer...

What is amazing is that most of these ppl have heard about IIIT Hyderabad and they know that IIIT H is the institute to be in!!! It feels so good to hear great about ur Institute from outsiders. Things have changed drastically over years IIIT is making its name.

In other news, 4 papers got accepted in ICPR from IIIT. We had a party and it was great fun. Link to pramad's post for the same.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Recent events/updates

Getting little time to blog, so here is one post related to some recent events:

Being 22:
Yep, Another year of great experiences ends and adds one year of seniority to me :). I Don't plan to be comprehensive about last years nice things but it has been great, with sister's marriage, quite a few home trips including first Air trip, becoming part of a big community of OSS developers, great jobs offers, a number of new friends, a lot of fun and other stuff. [Will link to posts related to them later]. Hoping similar interesting stuff for this year too :)

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Farewell
: We have recieved farewell from our sub-juniors. Already mention about it but here are some snaps :)

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Saturday, April 15, 2006

International characters on Us-English Keyboard

While writing any foreign language like Français, Portuguese or Espanôl, we need many accented characters. Since US english keyboard doesn't have special keys for this ppl usually find workarounds using combination of keys or by cutting pasting from written text.

I came across a nice article on how to use these characters on a normal US-En keyboard. The steps for this are briefly as follow (they apply to Linux and KDE only)

1) Go to KMenu->Control Center-> Regional And Accessiblity-> Keyboard Layout.
2) Add US-International layout to the set of layouts, after enabling keyboard layouts.(Do not remove the normal english layout)
3) Now in the panel you will notice an icon showing keyboard layout (only if you have multiple of them )
4) When ever composing internal language text, select the US-internaltion layout.
5) For entering short accent keys like
á é ú í ó just press the single quote key before pressing the alphabet
6) for grave accent keys like
â ê ô û î press the exponent key (Shift and key containing number 6 on main board) before pressing the alphabet. Similarly for getting characters like ü ö ë ï ä you can press Shift + " + key(u,o etc.)
7) For typing keys like cedilla ç press Right ALT+Comma
8) For quote ' " you will need to press space key after the normal keys (since they are behaving as modifier key now)

There are many more characters that can be obtained using further combinatios of keys. Some internal of these key mapping are stored in the files in the directory: /etc/X11/xkb/symbols/pc/

For command line you may use this to set the keyboard layout to us_intl and back to us-en
setxkbmap -model pc104 -layout us_intl -variant basic
setxkbmap -model pc104 -layout us

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Mahaveer Jayanti 2006

Today (11 April) is Mahaveer Jayanti. As usual for last 3-4 years, I went to temple with some friends. Its usually one of the two visits I make to the temple in a year, so Its of importance atleast to me.
(These photos are of Jain temple at Aagapur, Hyderabad, India)
Mahaveer Jayanti 2006

I came to know that many who searched Mahaveer Jayanti 2005 ended up going to flickr photos uploaded by me. I though ppl would like to have some more for this year, so here are them. Some Jain temples are really beautiful and you must check them out.
Mahaveer Jayanti 2006Jain temple Aagapura, Hyderabad



Maharveer PrabhuMahaveer Jayanti 2006



Since I myself don't know much about Janism so I wudn't say anything further, but there is this interesting thing in the temple, which the notes on the photo(flickr) should tell you how to use it. 100_3205.JPG

On our trip, we also went to Karanchi Bakery, this was the first time I was there and I am sure its going to get regular visits from now on. Also visited this Agrawala sweet shop while coming back. The shop provide 100% pure veg stuff: cakes, pasteries etc. Some preview should be helpfull :) [No I am not paid for adverstising for them, but yes the option is open] [and Yes I do love sweets a lot]

Sweets ummm... Delicious
Pastries can be eggless too

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Linux Gaining grounds in India?

There was a post/story I read on rediff.com yesterday (via Google news of course) titled ¨Linux is a big Hit In India". The post got slashdoted today. The story does bring some interesting information about some heavy deployment of Linux in India.

The interesting news was that India's largest Insurance company, LIC(Life Insurance Corporation of India) sealed a deal with Red Hat to use its desktop and server software.

Besides this a small list of big enterprises using Linux already was provided in the post: IDBI Bank, Canara Bank, New India Assurance, LIC, BSNL, IRCTC, ABN Amro, Airtel and even the governments of Maharashtra and West Bengal.
Another such list is maintained at http://shakthimaan.com/misc/database.html

I am sure Linux does have long way to go ahead in terms of Desktop adaption in the country. But the news like this will surely help dispell some FUD created by big enterprises against Linux. More important would be some ISV coming up with software on Linux. Budding Indian enterpreneurs can definitely try looking at this option now where they can directly compete with others who are also in the starting stage of understanding/exploring software development for Linux.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Bar Camp Hyderabad: Apr, 2006

The first ever Barcamp in Hyderabad turned out to be huge success. The number of ppl attending (participating ? ) went to be over 200. IIIT Hyderabad was fortunately able to uphold the sudden increase in number of registrants. Great organization by Ramesh, Rajan, Rajat, Sunil, Tarun and many others.

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Coming to the content part. I was surprized to see the amount of information flow that happened during the presentations. Many ppl in the industry are amazing too was my conclusion, really. There were presentations by Ramesh and Jay from Pramati which gave a broad overview of Web 2.0 and opportunities in the space respectively.

There was a presentation by Rajan on how attention rather than information is the new thing to focus in Web 2.0, Pramati guys spoke about XForm which I only heard of earlier, the presentation was really informative.
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The Cordsys guys then spoke about the whole overview of limitation of HTML, then introducing XForm based artichitecture and gave a wonderful demo of their product which is like a nice GUI designer toolkit running over web browser.
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Prof. Kamal from IIIT spoke about the MeraSystem project. Which he explained wonderfully well and removed lots of confussion I had about the whole WebOS thing. The main focus of the webOS is on centralizing data and not processing alone as is mostly interpretted.
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Sumeet from Yahoo then spoke about Yahoo UI libraries, and a lot more about interesting use of some popular opensource products at yahoo and Yahoo's Contribution back to community. Pretty interesting to know that they use MySql for some of their heavy backends and Php quite extensively. New terms like JSON, Serealized PHP and others also popped up.

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Kiran from Pramati spoke about the Eclipse in the Web 2.0 space and Usability impact. Sometime in middle there was talk by Sharad Solanki on the Tangible User Interface and Web 2.0 interface, pretty interesting comparision and conclusions to take home.
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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

French Course experience

Recently we had this French course conducted at IIIT Hyderabad. The profs were from CIEFL. I have been posting a lot about the course in earlier posts. I thought I would share some conclusions I derive from the course.
In the beginning when I sent a mail asking for names I got around 120 replies. Yes I knew many of them just wanted to keep it as backup, so I estimated the number of serious students to be around 60. Unfortunately the course cudn't start at time and it could not have been made a regular course. It started at time when one mid semester exams were already over. (The course finally started on 28th Jan). So the course was clearly made a Non-Academic course taken by student only for interest as there won't be any mention of same in the gradesheet.

Dean based to his experience asked me to have a commitment fees from student so that they take it only if they are interested. We decided over an agreement which helped in getting approx 40% payment from students and rest by the institute (this was b'coz the course was not part of curriculum, thanks to Dean we were not required to pay all the money ourselves)

The course finally started with around 30 students paying fees on time and others asking to enter when the faculty finally started taking the classes. Since languages courses can´t have more than 30-35 student in one batch. I had to stop allowing ppl from registering for the course. What happened during the course left me amazed. Slowly students started bunking the classes. The number of student coming regularly was getting lower in every class. By the end of Feb the strength would have easily come down to 15-20, after Feb the attendence decrease was even more shocking. In the last few classes we had attendence like 5-4-3 and so on.

I was seriously shocked to see such a decline in interest of students over time. I can't help but conclude that attendence rule and grades are must to have the students come to class. Even things like Language courses which is totally started on basis of interested student and not a compulsion cannot maintain the strength over time then compulsory courses will surely have lots of problems in doing the same. Committment fees didn't seem to work out well either. May be its just my way of thinking....

(More about French Learning in later posts)

Sunday, April 02, 2006

How IIIT is different

Dr. Abhijeet Mitra's speech during the Farewell, expressed something that has been in my mind for quite some time but never came on this blog. Its is in regards to How IIIT is a different institute. There have been some opposing thoughts shared by many ppl so I take the opportunity to clear some confussions.

His speech started with very basic thought that if anyone things makes lot of sense, I can't quote it totally but here is the gist : IIIT is not trying to be like any particular college in the country, We are trying to have something different here which has not been tried by anyone in the country. We are doing it in a kind of learning and doing mode rather than emulating some other college. IIIT is going to be brand in itself. (OT: During our Open House representative from a college in Delhi informed that they take IIIT Hyderbad as the role model for their new institute).

In his speech he didn't emphasize specifically the difference IIIT means in terms of education. I should try to add it from my point of view. IIIT's faculty are very determined to make the institute a leading research institute and fulfill the growing needs of researchers in the country, which other colleges have been ignoring all this while, which includes the IITs across the country.

Yesterday evening while talking to Dr. PJN we learnt that making a research institute is our institutes' goal but it does require lot of prework. It does require a solid UG course and curriculum so that the undergrads are ready for taking up research or even any other high end work in the industry. UG is also the right time to get the student interested in to research. This is why institute boast of research at UG level.

Isn't it very true that most of the students who do their UG studies in other good colleges do not get motivated for higher studies (whether within the college or outside). This is different from ppl who do their UG in not so good colleges(as in quality of education, infrastructure) who are kinda forced to do PG to get the good university brand name in their resumé. This includes ppl with big funds who go abroad joining any university (even rank > 100). Most ppl I knew in my town used to write GATE for the sole reason of either coming in to the CS field from some other field or getting a PG from IIT so they can get a good job. This is just a generalization. In exception there must be many truly motivated ppl who do PG in IIT too, infact I have met quite a few of such ppl in recent past (at ACCV and soon). Isn't it strange that almost no one takes a MTech or MS in IIT after doing a B.Tech there (unless ofcourse they are in dual degree from the beginning).

When I joined IIIT, I had no idea that I would be doing my Master's here. Not even that I wud be doing Honours. It just so happens that the curriculum gets you interested in to higher studies. I am now very positive about coming back and doing a Ph.D after 2-3 years of industry experience. Yesterday Sharat kumar from BTech 2k2 batch shared similar experience over his PhD admissions in to top notch colleges. "Sir (prof PJN), I never though in my second year that I would even consider doing a Ph.D ...". So is the situation of many ppl who are doing MS in India or abroad.

The important factor here is that the MS or PhD is not motivated by monitory benefits. After going through such highly motivating and interesting courses. You are tempted to try higher education instead of taking up a job very early. Sharath also shared how the flexibility in coming out of dual degree programme and going abroad for higher education helps ppl. Prof PJN remarked that flexibility is to ensure that students interested in higher education can remain motivated in that rather than getting distracted by the whole placement/campus bussiness, ..."by taking entering in to dual degree programme students are commiting to higher education not to higher education in IIIT"

When it comes to jobs, many ppl get it wrong that our college doesn't care about them. It is understood by faculty that everone has his own goals and needs. According to Prof PJN, Firstly monitory needs might require you to join a Job and secondly a proper Job which you like instead of research may be the right thing to do for you. In the first case you can anytime come back for higher education if that interests you., or you can take up part time courses like MS and PhD and in second case you can use your excellent skill to shine in the industry. (As a matter of fact many of my friends in jobs are comtemplating higher education).

Sorry for the huge post :)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

April fools traps...

Over years April fools day has been becoming more and more uninteresting. Today it was not so. We had lots of funny news articles and so on.
Google did launch a interesting Beta product on this day. Its Google Romance. Those unaware of the date might have tried it for once. Since the product may get removed from the site soon. Here is a screenshot. Should go thru the quick tour of the product its funny :)

Slashdot on the other hand totally fooled me. I didn't remember the April fools day and on my first visit to slashdot today, I truly thought that slashdot was Hijacked. Oh my God. Slashdot guys are truly creative and humourous.

The funniest post from slashdot read
" Our marketing department has done extensive research over the last 3 quarters and discovered that our audience is strangely disproportionately skewed towards males. Like, 98.3% males to be precise. To correct this oversight, we have decided to subtly tweak Slashdot's design and content to widen our appeal to these less active demographics. Don't worry! We'll still continue to serve our core audience, but we hope you'll work with us as we try to find a balance that will work for all.
In the evening the top news on slashdot was Bill gates buying open office. :)

Any interesting article you came up across ?

In totally unrelated stuff, we MSbR students were called up last in the list of students to be given Farewell and all the time before being called we kept wondering if we were again made April fools. (You know MSbRs date of leaving is not a very well planned :)) Well we did get farewell at the end, photos in next post probably.