Technology

daylight savings time

They switched off Daylight Savings Time yesterday, setting our clocks one hour back. It’s amazing to see how cellphones, computers and any other centralized time-telling device suddenly goes back in time as if nothing changed. The inhabitants of 2026 Willowtree Towers, however, spent the extra hour earned quite wisely, sitting with friends on their totally awesome futon, eating a rather late dinner, discussing the implications of the extra hour:

Somebody: “You know, now I can study for one more hour”
Otherbody: “You know, now I can sleep for one more hour”

The Printer Conspiracy

Did you know that your printer prints the date, time, and printer number in secret dots on every page you print? I’d once watched a documentary about how forensic scientists use the dots on print evidence left by imperfections on laser drums to track down printers (and hence suspects), which was pretty cool. But this, especially when the end-user is totally uninformed, is outrageous.

life update

Welcome parties, classes, kickball and a pretty looking iMac I bought from Dave, who is a very cool guy, by the way. Writing will stabilize once I have The Internet at home.

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arnab dot international

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the first ever arnab dot org blog post from outside India! I really wanted to do a post from Frankfurt; but couldn’t find free/sanely-priced internet anywhere at the airport. It’s raining right now in Ann Arbor, the current weather more or less seems like Bangalore; which I’m very happy with. Anyway, that’s all for now. Off to get some mexican food with seniors!

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of computer science and philosophy

I’ve always been intrigued by the similarities between the Computer Science and Philosophy disciplines. Both are so abstract that they apply to everything in the world, but an objective analysis leads you to the opinion that they both have no tangible result whatsoever. That is, a computer scientist, or a philosopher never does any real work. By real work, I mean something that you can explain to a 5 year old:

“Johnny, what does your father do?”
“He’s an eye doctor. He treats people who cannot see properly”

“Debbie, what does your father do?”
“He’s a computer scientist.”

“Which is?”
“He sits in a room all day staring at drawings, and sometimes in front of the computer typing things”

(Whole class is now making fun of Debbie because her dad is a loser)

Another very interesting thing is how very core computer science concepts have uncanny parallels in phliosophy and real life. Graph scoring and searching algorithms like BANKS and PageRank work on directed graphs where edges between nodes depict relationships between them; and it’s almost always better (in terms of speed and accuracy) to introduce “backward edges” — a relationship in the reverse direction of every relation in the graph.

Kind of like saying that there’s no such thing as a one-way relationship between two people.

Indiatimes -- the new spammers on the block?

It seems the newspaper group we all love so much has reached new heights – referer and comment spam. From Rojisan:

This is a bit surprising coming from a media outlet, but I’ve given them about two weeks and several attempts to clarify the situation with India Times and/or the Times Group. Since it’s such a big company, and with a reputation to protect, I’ve given them much more time to respond than I usually do.

What I do know is that the tag was for indiatimes.com, which is operated by timesgroup.com, and that the attack came from (in my case, at least), Spacecom Broadband, probably somewhere around New Delhi. I also know that no one from indiatimes.com or timesgroup.com has been willing to respond to my messages about this incident.

They’ve spammed around 4000 websites, it seems. I’d really like to write a long post about indiatimes and how much spam it sends me; but it quite reliably lands in my spam folder, so I don’t care too much. But this might be an example of revenge spamming or just some spammers trying to taint indiatimes’ “reputation”.

Drupal downtime

It’s a freak coincidence, Drupal, Drupaldocs and Drupaldevs are all down right now. Note that Drupal.org is down for scheduled maintenance, and has not been hacked or taken down or anything*. They’re changing the powerlines at the server room or something, and it’s just taking a little longer than expected.

Drupal versions <= 4.6.1 (and a bunch of other PHP apps) have a security problem which makes them vulnerable to code injection, which means bad people can do bad people to your website. To solve this, all you need to do is go to drupal.org and download the latest patched version. Since the site is down at the moment, here’s a temporary fix:

1. delete xmlrpc.inc in the includes directory.
2. upload a blank file in its place.

This should keep you safe from attacks, but will disable the weblogs.com, etc. “ping” notification, and the blogapi. You can later update the files when drupal.org is back up.

Remedy for the forgotten generation

Rahul writes about the absence of an entire period of music from public radio:

So the teenyboppers have their Casio tunes, and our parents have Mohammad Rafi. Nothing for us. I think I belong to Bombay radio’s forgotten generation.

Rahul, you’re in Mumbai, where Go 92.5 exists — probably the only channel in India that played music I could tolerate. I’m not sure if they’ve changed their programming or target demographic since, but I really had withdrawal symptoms when I left Mumbai a couple of months back. Imagine yourself in Delhi — where you have the option of factory-processed hindi music on RadioCity, chirpy and mast hindi music on Radio Mirchi, or casual hindi music on Red FM.

Of course, Delhi does have a glimmer of hope in AIR‘s FM Rainbow which does play classics, but most of the Radio Jockeying would make even a six year old with speech impediments cringe.

While it seems Bangalore too has AIR FM Rainbow, the only thing people listen to here is the schizophrenic Radiocity 91, which has English-speaking RJs(Radio Jockeys) playing Hindi songs interspersed with Kannada advertisements. Not quite the thing for me, ya know.

My night in shining armor, comes galloping from the United Kingdom via the Internet: Virgin Radio UK generously provides Shoutcast streams that are make up most of my daily listening. Shoutcast is seriously a great source of free music; there are so many supercool radio stations; especially niche ones that cater to very specific audiences, like GothMetal Radio for all the pretty men and women wearing black mascara, for example. Plus Shoutcast is free. As opposed to WorldSpace, which is very nice, but costs a little more than free.

Attacked by the Lucene Bugzilla

Lucene’s Bugzilla was apparently migrated over the weekend, resulting in hundreds of emails being sent to the lucene-developer mailing list, all of which were totally useless and a royal pain to delete using a web-based interface(I was using gmail). Considering there’s atleast some hundred people on that mailing list(I guess), multiply that with the close to a thousand emails, and you have a lot of useless email that could have been avoided if someone just turned off email notification before bulk updates / migration.

Also, in case you haven’t noticed, Lucene’s now become a top-level Apache project, putting it in the same league as the HTTP Server, SpamAssassin, Jakarta, and Struts. The Lucene project now comprises of Lucene Java, Nutch, and Lucene4c. I’m really looking forward to updates on Lucene4c; the webpages seem to be comatose.

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living on the edge

This website runs on Drupal CVS, updated once everyday. This means arnab.org is always running on the latest Drupal code. While this practice is a little foolhardy, it’s a lot of fun to open up your website and notice all sorts of new features pop up from different places.