Thursday, December 18, 2008

Obama TIME Person of the Year

Barack Obama has been named the TIME person of the year. This, perhaps, nicely caps off his achievements this year. But his ascendancy to the world's most powerful office comes with high expectations and high hopes, especially in such uncertain economic times. If all that he said is to be realized, a "brighter day will come".

Henry Paulson, Nicholas Sarkozy, Sarah Palin and Zhang Yimou are the runner-ups.

On the tech front, Apple has announced that it is pulling out of MacWorld.

It's hard to believe 2009 is almost here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Flickr Photo of the Day: Eiffel Tilt-Shift II

This is a tilt-shift fake.

For those who are interested, here is the depth-map that I created and fed to the lens blur filter and here is a shot of the various layers of the mask before assigning gray-values..

There's also a version in my photostream with the focus set on the École Militaire made from the same depth-mask.

March 2008: A nice fella named Martin has made a comprehensive tutorial on how to achieve this effect

Eiffel Tilt-Shift II, originally uploaded by Hanna María & Arnar

Web Browser Security Handbook

Google has compiled and released a Web Browser Security Handbook for web developers. It is released under the Creative Commons license.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Which path will you choose?

"Space is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence."

See: Frame by frame analysis

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The week in recap

President-Elect Barack Obama
The recent democratic election of an Afican-American to the world's most powerful office has resulted in optimists around the world asking if a country's top office can be headed by a person from a minority racial group.
"I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that, in no other country on earth, is my story even possible." -- Barack Obama, NDC 2004

2 days ago, Mozilla Firefox turned 4. The next milestone will be the release of Mozilla Minefield, which comes with a new JS JIT engine called tracemonkey.

Michael Crichton
Michael Crichton, one of my favorite authors, passed away last week. Fans may remember Crichton for Jurrasic Park and E.R. drama series. Crichton introduced me to the fast-paced genre of thrillers. His novels had the courage to deal with controversies that often leave the reader pondering over the realism that one associates with life. I will always remember reading "The Andromeda Strain" through the silence of the night into the wee hours of the morning.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Obama Wins

Barack Hussein Obama II is the junior United States Senator from Illinois and President-elect of the United States of America.

On November 4, 2008, Barack Obama defeated John McCain to become the 44th President of the United States and the first Black President in U.S. history. He will take the oath of office and become the 44th President of the United States on January 20, 2009.

Source: Wikipedia

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Good Game on Wall Street

With main street, wall street and your street going haywire, Sequoia Capital gives its take. Get the presentation.

It has been almost a month since the collaspe of Lehman Brothers, and this is where we are today.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Photo of the Day: Print Gallery (Escher)

Escher's Print Gallery (lithograph) (1956)
A picture of a picture which contains itself. Or is it a picture of a gallery which contains itself? Or of a town which contains itself? Or a young man who contains himself?

At first glance, it is easy to dismiss this piece of art. But on closer inspection, it brings to mind several provoking questions - what is that white patch in the centre, what is so unique about this work? To ponder for some time brings even more conundrums than answers - a memory trapped within a memory, reality encased in a fake-reality?

If you are inspired, here is a gallery of Escher's works.

On a side note, I have been browsing through Douglas Hofstadter's Pulitzer Prize-winning book "Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid", which I chanced across while reading ReadWriteWeb.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Things on my radar screen

This week seems to be an exciting week, so here's a list of things I am looking at:

Google Chrome
As a browser, Chrome is rock solid, and it runs impressively on older computers running Win XP. If you have not tried it out, I suggest you give it a spin. If you are stilling IE, please ditch it in place of Chrome. (CNET's somewhat bias JavaScript speed test shows Chrome being 65x faster than IE and 10x faster than Firefox.) 
Related news:
SquirrelFish Extreme (Webkit's new JS engine)

Adobe CS 4
Adobe has released its CS 4 suit of applications. Lightroom 2 is out too! Photoshop CS 4 comes with cool new features like the content-aware scaling/resizing, and smoother panning/zooming. GIMP already has the content-aware resizing feature, called Liquid Rescale.

I remember visiting the temporary one at San Franciso's Howard Street in Dec 2004. This news bring back memories.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Stanford Eng Launches Online CS Classes

For the first time in its history, Stanford is offering some of its most popular engineering classes free of charge to students and educators around the world. Stanford Engineering Everywhere (SEE) expands the Stanford experience to students and educators online. A computer and an Internet connection is all you need. View lecture videos, access reading lists and other course handouts, take quizzes and tests, and communicate with other SEE students, all at your convenience.

This fall, SEE launches its programming by offering one of Stanford’s most popular sequences: the three-course Introduction to Computer Science taken by the majority of Stanford’s undergraduates and seven more advanced courses in artificial intelligence and electrical engineering.
Check it out at Stanford Engineering Everywhere

The first course, Introduction to Computer Science (Programming Methodology), has Mehran Sahami as the instructor.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Quote of the Day

"In life you make the small decisions with your head and the big decisions with your heart."
-- Omid Kordestani (Senior Vice President, Global Sales & Business Development at Google)

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Bill Gates, Seinfeld, Microsoft and Nothing

Official Explanation:
After seeing the new ad from Microsoft, which debuted today, some may wonder what Jerry Seinfeld helping Bill Gates pick out a new pair of shoes has to do with software. The answer, in the classic Seinfeld sense of the word, is nothing. Nevertheless, the spot is the first and most visible sign of an ambitious effort by Microsoft’s Windows business to reconnect with consumers around the globe.

See also: LA Times' Analysis

This is non-sequitur.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Flickr Photo of the Day: Grandfather

Originally uploaded by [brett walker]

I realise that I have never featured black and white photos before, so here is one. This b/w photo reminds me of the poem Grandfather by Chandran Nair.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Ancient Wisdom

However, the fact that you are graduating from Harvard suggests that you are not very well-acquainted with failure. You might be driven by a fear of failure quite as much as a desire for success. Indeed, your conception of failure might not be too far from the average person’s idea of success, so high have you already flown academically.

About a week ago, famed British author J.K. Rowling gave a commencement address at Harvard University where she shared her own humbling experiences on failure and framed the concept of imagination as a powerful tool to influence reality.

While some thought that Rowling wasn't worthy of the honour of giving the commencement address, Rowling's address is perhaps a better one than Oprah Winfrey's at Stanford. Both gave moving anecdotes and pressed into the graduates the matter of failure and finding happiness, but Rowling's account was more compelling as she balanced candour with grace and formality.

To that end, Rowling also dished out valuable advice about life:
Given a time machine or a Time Turner, I would tell my 21-year-old self that personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a check-list of acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two. Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone’s total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.

She ended her speech with an overarching quote on life from the Roman philosopher Seneca:
As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.

Wisdom, no matter how ancient, is never late.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Firefox 3 - 17 June 08

I received this email today:
Dear Add-on Developer,

Firefox 3 will be released June 17th. If you have a Firefox 3 compatible version of your add-on, we recommend you upload it to at this time. If you are waiting until the final release day, we suggest to upload into the sandbox and nominate for addition once Firefox 3 has been released.

Full details of the final release can be found here:

Thank you for helping build one of the most amazing software releases in history.

Best Regards,

Firefox Product Team

With the release of Firefox 3 also comes the chance to set a new world record - a chance to prove the Firefox 3 is not only better but more popular than IE 7 or any other web browser in the history of the Internet.

Take back the web on 17th June!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Solutions to Google Treasure Hunt

About a month ago, Google launched the Google Treasure Hunt challenge with the following code:
Solution: base64 decode

Note: The Google Treasure Hunt page is built on Google's App Engine platform.

Solution to Problem 1:

Problem 1 is a standard pascal's triangle kind of problem involving big numbers.
My solution is in C.

Solution to Problem 2:

For this problem, you need a bash shell. Modify this script accordingly...

Solution to Problem 3:

Problem 3 is relatively easy, once you get the definitions right. It can even be done using pen and paper! You need to understand that "A.B.C.D=>W.X.Y.Z" means if your destination IP is A.B.C.D, then your next target IP is W.X.Y.Z. Also, "A.B.C.0/24" means "A.B.C.*"

This is my solution in C.

Solution to Problem 4:

I used the bigint class for this problem. This question is the toughest among the 4 questions. You may even need to generate up to 90000 prime numbers to solve it. (if you have a better solution, please share...)

This is my solution in C++. Takes minutes to generate the solution. So pls be patient.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Mozilla Add-ons T-Shirt

I was having lunch when the postman came with a "mysterious" bag meant for me. When I saw that the sender address indicated that the bag was from the UK, I wondered if it could be a friend from the UK. However, when I touched and felt the flimsiness of the content inside the bag... it suddenly occurred to me that it was Mozilla T-Shirt (for my work on making Fireclip compatible with Firefox 3b4)!

Wow. I never received news that Mozilla will be sending this t-shirt to me, so it came as a surprised. This t-shirt is definitely cool! Thanks to Mozilla! and thanks to all who helped on Fireclip!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Flickr Photo of the Day: Roller coaster planet

...attached a Ferris wheel. At Tokyo Dome City.
It's stereographic projected version of this pano.

See where this picture was taken. [?]

Roller coaster planet
, originally uploaded by heiwa4126

The Howling of the Gods

It was so loud it was so quiet we didn't sleep we slept.
We didn't dream. We dreamt of panthers and hatpins, orchids and ashbins.
There was no moon; no moon was there
Ever so magnificent. Even the dogs were mesmerized.
Make that: the gods—even the gods were mesmerized.
There were no dogs; no dogs were there.
Even so, sleep was impossible—
All that howling! We dreamt of panthers and hatpins, orchids and ashbins.
Didn't we? No; and if we did,
We weren't dreaming.

-- The Howling of Gods, A New Book of Common Days by Jay Hopler

Friday, May 16, 2008

Debian-OpenSSL Fiasco

I couldn't comprehend today's XKCD comic...

... so I decided to google around for answers.

So what is this Debian-OpenSSL fiasco? I was surprised when I read that openssl's random number generator had a vulnerability that has affected the security of RSA keys since September 2006. This bug has gone unnoticed for more than a year!

However, surprise turned to shocked as I began to understand the bigger picture in layman's terms.
Instead of using random data to generate basic "seed" values for keys, the OpenSSL PRNG used the current process ID, a unique process identifier. The problem is that, in Linux, the default maximum process ID is 32,768, meaning the seed value could be overcome by brute force, or systematically applying different values in the range 0 to 32,768.

This is a security catastrophe. The experts are saying that "ANY cryptographic material created on vulnerable systems can be compromised."

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Time saver for Ubuntu: Gnome Do

I just installed Gnome Do on my Ubuntu Hardy and I am impressed. Gnome Do is inspired by Quicksilver.

$ sudo aptitude install gnome-do gnome-do-plugin-rhythmbox gnome-do-plugins
I love the fact that you can open apps and stuff right from the comfort of your keyboard. This is an immense time saver and it is a must-have for an serious Ubuntu user.

After installing, remember to read the user guide.

Tip 1:
Get gnome-do to run at startup by going to (Menu)System->Preference->Sessions and adding the command gnome-do -q
Tip 2: I didn't like the shortcut "Super + Space" so I changed it to "Control-Space" as the control key was the left most button. You can do this by opening Configuration Editor (run gconf-editor) and changing the key binding to "<control>space" in "/apps/gnome-do/preferences" inside gconf-editor.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Fastest way to upgrade to Ubuntu 8.04 within 24 hrs of release

Yes... the long awaited Ubuntu 8.04 is finally out... but everyone is trying to upgrade their system through the Ubuntu Update Manager. Why get stuck with the Ubuntu Update Manager and a sluggish Ubuntu server when there is a faster way? Even, the Ubuntu mirrors take time to get the latest release.

Note: This guide is meant for the impatient...
  1. Get the alternate cd iso bittorent file. Get it. (Note: this ONLY works with the alternate cd, and NOT with the Live CD.)

  2. Use a bittorent client such as transmission to download it.
    (Tip: sudo apt-get transmission if you dont have transmission.)
    This will take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours. Depends on your luck.

  3. Verify the iso file you downloaded using a MD5 check. (Get the MD5 file from the same place where you got your bittorent file.) (This step is optional but recommended.)

  4. Mount the iso file. E.g.: (note: /cdrom is similar to /media/cdrom) [Time saver: no need to burn CD!]
    sudo mount -t iso9660 ubuntu-8.04-alternate-i386.iso /cdrom -o loop

  5. Hit Alt-F2, type in and run the following:
    gksu "sh /cdrom/cdromupgrade"

  6. Sit back and relax. Go and grab a cup of coffee. Restart your computer at the end of the upgrade. The upgrade takes about 30 mins on a Intel C2D 2.0GHz.
    Enjoy a game of classic minesweeper while the installer runs in the background.
    Don't panic if your system does not function "normally" during the upgrade.

    Note: if you encounter the "exclusive lock" error associated with aptitude, hit ctrl-alt-backspace and re-login.

  7. Say "hello" to Ubuntu 8.04 LTS! Congrats for making it through!
    Note: some programs may appear to "crash" when you first login. Don't panic. Simply click away the error messages, logout and re-login and most of your problems will be solved. (For me, I had to coax my wireless to work.)

  8. You may now remove the CD entry to the image found in the file: /etc/apt/sources.list
    Tip: Hit Alt-F2 and run gksu "gedit /etc/apt/sources.lst" and comment the following line:
    deb cdrom:[Ubuntu 8.04 _Hardy Heron_ - Release i386 (20080422.2)]/ hardy main restricted (or something similiar, with the "8.04")

  9. Total time I took ~ around 2.5 hours.

Thanks to Albert Bicchi's guide for insight into this matter.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


This blog has been very quiet for almost a month. The primary reason is that I have been busy writing an extension called Fireclip for Firefox.

Fireclip is a nifty tool which allows you to clip out portions of webpages and reload them later to check for updates. The latest version is 0.2.1 and it is a stable release.

This blog post is a CFC (call for comments) or rather, call for reviews on Mozilla's Add-ons Page. Fireclip is currently labeled "experimental" and reviews are needed before it can go public. So, to all those out there, please get a Mozilla account and write a review here (on the right)! Thanks!

If you are interested in trying out Fireclip without registering an account, download, extract the xpi file, and drag and drop it inside your Firefox browser.

More Resources:
- Official information
- Short video tutorial

File Sharing Services

Here's a list of file sharing services which I find useful.

Anyway, it possible to solve a rubik cube in 6 seconds.... even better, 0 seconds for this one.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Random Updates for the Week

Random stuff:

1. Flickr is turning 4 on 15 Mar. Here is your chance to get your photo printed and put up for display at Flickr's "pin-up" exhibit in San Francisco. (Do this before 12 Mar. Your photo must have a min res of 1500 x 2100 pixel too.)

2. This "horror story" on G-Archiver rocks. If you are a hacker, you got to be smarter too. If you frequently download shareware or freeware apps from "untrusted sources", you have to be more careful. On a side note, I didn't know there is such a cool tool as Reflector.

3. I have been reading Microsoft's "Heros Happen Here" (rss) Comic. I must say I like it.

4. Firefox 3 T-Shirt Contest. Oh, and Firefox add-ons developers who are able to achieve Firefox 3 beta 3 compatibility by March 18th are eligible for a Mozilla Add-ons Developer T-shirt.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Draft Lessig for Congress

Stanford Law Professor, Lawrence Lessig, is considering whether to run for Congress. Lessig is better know as the founder and CEO of Creative Commons and also the founder of the Free Culture movement.

In the above video, notes how Lessig rapidly displays short phrases to make his point. Some call his presentation style the "Lessig Method".

I will support Lessig if he chooses to run for Congress.

Update: Lessig has decided not to run for Congress.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Happy Lunar New Year

Wishing all readers good luck, good health and a Happy Lunar New Year!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Security of Wireless Keyboards

While I was marveling at the convenience of wireless keyboards and mouse recently, a thought struck me - with all the worries over WEP and WPA, how secure are wireless keyboards which rely on simple radio frequency (RF) or Bluetooth technologies? Is it possible for a hacker to intercept your keyboard key strokes or even transmit fake keyboard strokes to your computer?

I went home and did a little bit of research and found that all is not that rosy, including this report on Microsoft's wireless keyboard. Even banks are at risk.
Logitech representatives say their RF wireless keyboards scramble their security codes each time the computer boots up. With more than 4000 possible combinations in the Logitech models, it's unlikely (though still possible) that someone else's nearby receiver would pick up your radio signals. HP is increasing the number of security codes for its keyboards from 2 to 256. (Source: PC World)
But how exactly does Logitech fare? Perhaps, not very good.

I am staying away from wireless keyboards for now.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Happy Birthday LEGO

As children, we play LEGO. As adults, we reminisce the times we spent playing LEGO. Suddenly, I miss LEGO. Happy Birthday LEGO. I can't imagine my childhood without LEGO.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Davos as a moment of reflection

The World Economic Forum was held in Davos, Switerland, from 23 to 27 January. It was a meeting of political and business heavyweights as well as influential figures such as Al Gore and Bono. This year's WEF took on a new dimension as Google, through YouTube, posed "The Davos Question" to web users worldwide. Google even set up a "YouTube Room" fitted with five computers (with digital cameras) for attendees to respond to the Davos Question.

For many bloggers, the YouTube room was a "silicon valley moment" in the making. Perhaps, the defining bit was not the two cents worth of the attendees, but the culture of participation that has pervaded the web and social computing. The room was also an arena which saw bloggers utilise web services such as flickr, twitter and qik alike, to democratize information.

It would have been hard to imagine all these happening a year ago.

If viewed a decade from now, Davos will be an insignificant speck of dust on the pages of history. However, Davos is just a case in point. The confluence of technology can only offer so much, but the adoption of technology, especially in third-world counties, is going to make the world an even better place in 2008.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Flickr Photo of the Day: Licorne 3

Beauty or beast?
This is the third picture of a series of the Licorne thermonuclear test in French Polynesia.

This is a scan of a (digitally restored) hardcopy of a picture taken by the French army which could be purchased in Tahiti at that time.

Licorne 3, originally uploaded by Pierre J.

25 Years wiith Adobe

It has been a quarter of a century since Adobe was founded, and this year, Adobe celebrates its 25th anniversary. It can be said that Adobe has come a long way - from the humble beginnings of its PostScript language, to the ubiquity of its Acrobat and Photoshop software, and then to the acquisition of Macromedia along with its popular Flash software.

In a way, Photoshop has become the underpinning of the artistic world. As mentioned by Bruce Chizen in the video (read on), it's almost impossible to find something that was not created in Photoshop everywhere we look, be it illustrations in the newspapers or magazines, and even the covers of books.

So, take a trip down memory lane and look at the video celebrating Adobe's 25th anniversary or the comprehensive newsletter (direct download). You will discover a lot more about Adobe than you have ever known.


This week, Project10X published the Semantic Web 2008 Report, which is worth taking a look at. The report touches on topics such as Web 3.0, Social Computing and future trends.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Macbook Air

Last week, Steve Jobs gave his keynote at Macworld in San Francisco, and unveiled the Macbook Air. (Download Steve Jobs' Keynote). Although the Macbook Air comes with 1.6 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo, an iSight Camera, an innovative multi-touch touchpad and a back lid keyboard, it is missing some other stuff. Of course, one only realises this after breaking out of Steve's Reality Distortion Field. Where is the firewire port and the Ethernet port?

Last week was also significant as I was nowhere near a computer during Steve Job's keynote. However, technological innovations have made it possible to get live updates half way round the globe. I used twitter to provide me live updates via my mobile phone (I don't have a 3G/wifi-enabled mobile phone). SMS (short messages) were popping in at about one every 5 seconds at its peak (imagine the excitement!). Sadly, the messages stopped coming just before Steve Jobs announced the Macbook Air. (I later learned that twitter crashed, probably due to heavy traffic from Macworld.) I waited about an hour before I received the delayed updates.

Anyway, I have finally uploaded the KDE 4 Wallpaper pack to omnidrive.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Bill Gates drinks Diet Coke

For all Coke lovers and Bill Gates' fans...

Bill Gates drinks Diet Coke during Gizmodo's CES 2008 Interview.