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Bundle of sticks

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Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"Uththishtata Bharatha... (Arise India)"

[This post may seem to be mixing two issues - Deal with it :) ]

"Take a twig and you can snap it between your fingers, take a bundle of sticks and you can't do anything to it" is the summary of the lesson imparted by the ailing old father to his bickering sons. We all know that.

When Alexander the Great arrived at Takshashila (current Pakistan), and was all set to invade India, the entire sub continent was made up of numerous kingdoms. These kingdoms individually were relatively small, save Magadha which was larger. There was still a concept of Bharath, which is modern India, but then they were all individual kingdoms. Alexander was poised to defeat India and kings like Ambhi even sided with the foreigner in his quest to invade Bharath. Chanakya foresaw what would happen if Alexander continued on this path, as you might have too - Each twig could be easily snapped by Alexander. He decided to for…

Of Systems and Designs (Non Technical)

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Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"The ability to handle rejection is an important quality to have"

[I started reading this fantastic book called "Design Of Everyday Things" by Donald A. Norman. The book is highly recommended by the way. This post is inspired by the book. Let me start off by saying I am no expert - these are my opinions only]

Systems and Designs seem to be very technical words. But, to me, they are more like common sense. These days, that is... Actually, from yesterday, because I started reading this book and now I have suddenly become an expert in the area.

Driving in Bangalore is a pain, which most of you are aware of. But driving a car can get a little more annoying because of all the motorcycles that swarm around you. Motorcycles are inherently unstable and tend to move in unpredictable paths in excessive traffic. So a driver of a car has to be extra careful when he drives because he has to concentrate on a number of haphazardly moving vehicles on both…

Of Random Seeds and Other Random Bits

Baba Gyani Triviani said:
"If you believe in fate and destiny, then the randomness in this world is pseudo-randomness"

Random Number Seed
I am sure most of you would have used a Random number generating piece of code in your program at some point of  time or another. And when you were looking up code, you would have noticed the word 'seed' but would have ignored it. Some of you would have even noticed a word called pseudo-random number generator. Well, I did. And I didn't know what this seed was until a few days back.

Let's try out an experiment. I will use Python in this post, but you can use any other language - Java, Ruby and they will all behave in the exact same way.
>>> import random>>> random.random()0.23108685984562283>>> random.random()0.017276293409835386 If you try this piece of code on your machine, your results will be different from mine. Isn't that obvious? It IS a random number generator after all, you might say. …

The (fake) Quest To Eradicate AIDS with Mythical Mystical Indian roots

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Swami Gulagulaananda said: "When in a game, play..."

I have won several lotteries organised by Shell, Coca Cola and other companies. Each prize was no less than 500,000 GBP. And I have also been fortunate to share my surname with super rich heirless millionaires, facilitating unscrupulous lawyers to wire their enormous funds into my account so that I can send them their share for making it happen. Considering the number of lotteries I have won and number of inheritances in my name, I am richer than Bill Gates ten times over.

But alas, we are aware of how scams work. Some of us, at least. So I continue to be penniless as before.

Recently, I got an email - The brevity of which prompted me to reply, and then began an interesting conversation.
from: Robert Adair
to: r-adair@hotmail.co.ukdate: 17 October 2013 21:29subject: Your revert awaitedhaving a proposal to discuss with you To which I replied, with equal conciseness...
Regarding what And I got a reply to that...
from: Robert Ad…

Jailbreak old iPod - Convert to hand held computer

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Swami Nikhilaananda said:
"An Apple a day will definitely make me bankrupt"

[The purpose of this post is not to tell you how to get themes, mod or dropdown menus]

I have an old iPod - 2nd Generation 8 GB one lying around. With the rapid rate at which technology becomes obsolete, I often wonder if investing money into buying gadgets really makes sense. Apple promptly stopped support for the older generations of devices, with no software updates beyond 4.2.1 and none of the newer apps work on my device either. Which means, I have to be happy with whatever apps I had installed. It suddenly went from a savvy gadget to ordinary music player - something that phones do as well.

I also have a Raspberry Pi and I thought - it would be really cool if I can somehow make my iPod a screen for the Raspberry Pi - Act as a monitor. That'll give me a small computer of sorts. My first thought was to run a VNC server on the Pi and a VNC player on the iPod because I was looking for a GUI. Ho…

The Rama Krishna Paradigms

Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"The moral fabric is netted, the sizes of holes not constant"

Let me start off by saying that the attitude in this post is intentionally cynical

As kids, we are taught a series of moral lessons - "Don't hurt others", "Don't steal from others"... and as we grow up "Don't covet others' wives" and so on. As children, we are taught to take these statements as truths, we don't question them, we simply accept them. The reason being that we don't have the maturity and experience to validate them. So we accept them, and we follow them.

As we grow up, we gain both experience and maturity. At this point, we can begin to validate our lessons and accordingly strengthen those that matched with reality and discard those that didn't. AI junkies will consider this as strengthening of synapses and those who've read 'I'm OK, You're OK' will relate this with the PAC model.

This is however t…

Kodachadri Trek - An Experience

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Swami Nikhilaananda said:
"And then when I saw the leeches, blood drained from my face..."

A cool breeze blew past me, reminding me to prepare myself for the obstacles ahead. I looked up at the sky and felt like a giant, for the clouds seemed to be within my reach. In the epic Mahabharata, in the Mahaprasthanika Parva, the Pandavas and Draupadi begin their journey up the Himalayas to reach heaven. And then a dog accompanied them... I knew I was about to embark upon a similar journey; I sensed I was very close to heaven, for nowhere else can beauty of this magnitude exist - the lush leaves of plants and trees all around me painted in various hues and shades of green, the soft gurgle of the stream, the eternal croaks of frogs and chirps of mysterious birds that refused to show themselves... The entire area seemed to be the epitome of vibrant life, for even the fallen trees were teeming with life, with  mosses and colourful mushrooms growing side by side, a perfect example of w…

Reflections of the Complacent

Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"Pardon my affectations, this is me being a flibbertigibbet"

I stared into his eyes as he stared into mine. Some times I wonder if eyes are really the window to the soul, and if he could read my mind through my eyes. "What's your plan?", I asked him. "I am going to write a blog post with them", came the reply. "For the life of it, I can't believe that I can't remember most of these words, you know?", he continued. I could sense anguish in his exasperated voice. "And that's why I am going to write this post, even if it ends up being a rigmarole", he paused.

"Rigmarole", I smiled, and took out my phone. I have a need to find the meanings of words if I don't know the meaning, an OCD of sorts. So I have a dictionary app handy all the time. "Looking in the lexicon, eh?" he grinned. "What's the point of this?" I asked him, getting rather annoyed at the bombastic…

Of Beliefs and Prophets

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Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"Problems don't arise due to beliefs... Problems arise when you force it upon others"

Religion has been around for thousands of years and I am sure it is not going to go anywhere anytime soon. With the advent of Social Media, information can travel across the world rapidly. These are two facts.

There is nothing wrong with believing in something. We all go through life's ups and downs - and some times we are alone when we are down. Sometimes, we don't have anyone to fall back upon though we would have loved to have someone to reassure us. And when you feel all is lost, you find solace in God. You pray to God, pray that all your troubles go away. You derive strength from faith. Even if your problems don't all go away, you feel invigourated. Problems are given to you only because God knows you have the strength to solve it, they say... And even if you didn't, it works - perhaps a placebo effect. People do remarkable things because …

How much thought do we apply?

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Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"In mob psychology, if there is success, everyone shares the fruit, if there is failure, the leader gets hanged"

Just the other day I was reading a very interesting book that spoke about how application of mind to do something beyond the mundane autopilot mode applies considerable stress on us. For example, an experienced driver doesn't require much thought while driving everyday to work. Not much thought is applied on when to brake and when to accelerate. Experience makes you do this automatically. Same goes for typing. I don't see which key is where, the only thing that comes to my mind is the word that I have to type and the word gets typed. However, considerable amount of strain comes when I have to multiply 43 x 76 or if I have to remember a couple of numbers in mind like 46.83 and 35.78 for some time (working memory)

It might seem obvious to some of you that activities such as mathematical calculations are not really natural while wal…

One Shoe Doesn't Fit All

Swami Gulagulaananda recounted the old saying:
"Before you judge me walk a mile in my shoes"

A great thing about being in India is the myriad colourful lives that you get to see around you. Different people living their lives in their own ways. And every single person has different qualities that define him or her, their own personal idiosyncrasies and peculiarities that make them what they are, that define them. Some are logical, some are cold, some are jumpy, some sensitive, some optimistic, some pessimistic,  some balanced, some depressed and some ecstatic... You get the picture.

But it gets interesting when you try to analyse why people are the way they are. As in, we are aware of what qualities are desirable and what are not. Like, optimism in general is considered a good quality while pessimism is not. I say 'in general' because there have to  be certain negative inclinations at times too, for it helps us prevent pitfalls due to over-enthusiasm. But in general,…

Golem - A Flying Robot - Idea for a project

Baba Gyani Triviani said:
"Look up in the sky, it's a bird, it's a plane... No, it's Golem!"
Project Golem(Note: Golem is a mechanical robot in 'Batman of the future' which is controlled by a guy remotely such that movements of his hands translates to corresponding movements of the robot, much like the movie 'Real Steel')

I had been to Ayana, a hackathon in PESIT recently and saw quite a few hardware hacks. With the arrival of Arduino into the market, robots seem to have become quite ubiquitous, which is a good sign. Students, most of the time, design and build single purpose robots, that could be a line following one or a maze solving one. Rarely are they developed as systems.

The Raspberry Pi is an interesting device - The size of a credit card, it comes with 2 USB ports, an ethernet port, a power in port, an HDMI port, a video out and a sound out along with an SD card slot. The cost is supposed to be around $25. The advantage of a Raspberry Pi …

Rapes are sour

Swami Gulagulaananda wondered: "Sāma, Dāna, Bheda, Danda - Which of them is the most effective of all?"

Sāma, Dāna, Bheda, Danda
This is a political methodology to approach a given situation. Start with conciliation or gentle persuasion (Sāma). If that does not help, offer money/material wealth (Dāna). If that still does not change the status quo, use threat or cause dissension (Bheda). Use punishment or violence (Danda) to resolve the situation where the previous three fail

Media in India has lost all credibility. And just like the boy who cried wolf, it has become difficult to judge when the media is being aggressive with an honest intention and when they are messing with our minds. Of late, every day I see a report on rape, and I wonder if the rapes have been happening with this frequency all along or if it is being reported more frequently after the ghastly Delhi incident that made the entire country livid. Whatever the reason be, it is not pertinent to the discussion, it …