The world, how it works, surroundings, myself, etc.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Halting the gears

It's general knowledge that glxgears can be used to get a quick peek of a graphics card's performance. glxgears is fill-limited, that is, the frames-per-second (FPS) depends on the size of the window. I describe here a small exercise with glxgears: Halting the gears.

Increasing the window size decreases the FPS. However, the perceived sense of rotation (clockwise or anti-clockwise) of the gears appears to switch as you increase the window size. That is, as you drag the corner of the window and make it larger, the gears will appear to be rotating clockwise and then at a point they'll apear to be moving anti-clockwise and then again they'll appear to moving clockwise at a point... and so on. This is akin to the rotation of a fan wherein you can sometimes feel the blades moving in a direction opposite to the blades' actual direction of motion. So, after making x no of rotations, if a point p on the periphery of a gear lands ahead of it's original place, the perceived sense of rotation is the same as its actual rotation direciton. However, if the point p falls short of its original place, the gear will be perceived as rotation in the opposite direction.

The Exercise: Drag the corner of the window to increase the size and bring it to the point such that the perceived sense of rotation of the gears is just about to change. At this juncture, it'll appear that the gears aren't even moving -- as if they're halted. It's a bit difficult to manouvre the size to a perfect standstill, but it's worth the pains!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Techies' In-expressive-ness

Techies are Inexpressive. Techies understand things, they analyze things, they reason out things, but they just aren't able to express it. They feel at a loss of words when contemplating description. For instance, if they are impressed, they have, in their gamut, precisely only the few words: cool, ulti-(mate), fundoo. Other more articulate and suiting adjectives remain foreign to them. Of these, the word "cool" is pretty vehemently abused. They have a bit too many numbers, equations, and logic going in the left lobe of their cerebrum to be able to attend to the artistic calls of the right lobe. Understanding things in terms of equations is OK but when it comes to several social aspects, equations simply falter. To answer in a more technical way, the descriptions of social interactions and understanding can be expressed only in very high degree equations, well beyond the impulses of the left-lobe. And I'm doubtful of even this.

With the breed of Geeks, the situation is even worse. Talk to them for a minute and you'll realize how inarticulate they can be. Ask a computer geek a doubt and he'll answer you back with a string of technical jargon, most of them obscure commands, and this array will be terminated by a broad grin (if you are lucky) emanating out from his bespectacled face. Needless to say, you didn't understand a thing and you are left with a similar doubt, only transformed a different and unfriendly space. Actually, they are not to be blamed too.
 -- PS: Exceptions are everywhere. I'm not referring to those. 

My short tryst with Death

First, a direct lift off from my yesterday night's diary entry:

Glass Cleaner is dying
One of my fishes, the one that used to spend most of its time stuck to the aquarium's glass walls, is dying right now. It had jumped out of the water and onto the floor, a shock for me when I returned back to the room. I put it back in water, but its fins are stuck. I can still see the to and fro movement of its lungs as it breathese, but the fins are still stuck. It cannot move its body. Though it seems to be trying hard for survival, gasping for breath, I don't think it can. By the time I'll be awake tomorrow morning, it'll be dead -- and I can't do anything about it! Oh! no. Even as I'm just writing this, it made a desperate attempt to move and has changed its place to the other corner of the aquarium. But why is it trying to reach the water surface? Please don't jump out again. Please don't die like this before me! I've covered the top of the aquarium now and put in some fod. The other two fishes are having their feed, whereas the subject of this writing is standing almost vertically on its tail, its body still appearing stiff. How painfully it must've writhed on the floor -- why did it jump out? Why does it want to change its silent life to a painful death? Why does it still want to jump out?

The smallest fish, a tiny body with a tiny mouth, is nowhere to be seen. Where did it go? Did it too jump out? I searched everywhere on the floor. I cannot find it. Instead, what I find is some flies and random insects sitting motionless. Oh! no, they too are dead. One is a more than usually large beetle, black and upside down -- its arrangement of legs are silent. Another is a black but grasshopper-like flying insect -- it can't move, its dead. There are innumerable other small flies, worms, ants too! What happened in my room -- did Yamaraj make a visit? And where must've the little fish jumped off?

I now look back at the aquarium, and find a black and white strip of body below some yellow stones. Oh! no, that must it be -- that is it. It's dead. I take it out of the water. Oh! my God, it's abdomen is eaten up -- it's completely hollow -- what happened? I cannot see what's inside and I throw it out.

But what exactly happened in my room? I remember well that everything was fine when I left it some 3 hours ago. Death, it seems, danced its way in my room. If I sleep, will I wake up? Has death left or ....?

Back to this blog:
I was scared like hell yesterday night. Luckily, when I woke up this morning, the glass cleaner fish is alive. It has survived. And so have I.

Monday, September 19, 2005

What's a "hi"?


I thought Hi was no more than a salutation. But seeing the overuse of this small word, I have reason to believe that it is being abused for varied purposes. You see it everywhere. A signification multitude of my mails have the subject "Hi", primarily used by someone who wanted to send me a mail but wasn't sure of the subject, but still didn't want to leave the subject line unfilled. I just got a mail which dealt with a sysadmin-related problem, but even this was greeted with a "Hi" in the subject line. The rest of the mail was entirely unrelated to the preamble of Hi. Don't people realize -- it's perfectly ok to leave the subject line blank instead of filling it up with the unnecessary Hi.

Looking at various other instances of Hi, every chat session invariably begins with a Hi. Actually, it's nice. Follows the KISS principle. Want to begin a letter, say Hi. Want to start a conversation, say Hi. Wish to start a speech, say Hi. Wish to write an invitation, say Hi. The problem is that it's not used as a salutation but as an opener, as if to get things in motion. We don't begin with a Hi because any other thing wouldn't suffice, but rather just to begin -- akin to clearing one's throat before a conversation. What would happen if everything began with a Hi? God would invent you and say -- Hi (instead of tathastu). The first thing you'd speak to a newborn would be -- Hi. Yamaraj would land at your doorstep and say -- Hi. Imagine every research paper beginning with a -- Hi. The morning newspaper starting with a Hi. The PM addressing the nation on 15th Aug and starting with a Hi. Often people look at you with awe and astonishment if you utter the name of one-who-must-not-be-named. But with the growth of Hi, people around you would be sent shuddering with astonishment if you _did_not_ begin anything with a Hi (one-that-must-be-named). Your examination paper question paper would start with a Hi. The answer-sheet will have a Hi already printed. Even then a student will append a Hi. A lawyer would drop the usual "Your Honor" salutation and begin his legal proceedings with the quintessential Hi. The judge, instead of saying "Objection sustained" would say -- "Hi, Objection sustained". The convict, standing before the jury would start with a Hi.

It gets even more painful. Even advertising isn't spared. Hutch is so confident about the applicability of Hi that they pay for gigantic billboards but use only a tiny corner of it to say -- Hi. Probably if Hutch had it's way, when you receive a phone-call, everything else would be proceeded by a machine-generated automatic Hi for bot the caller and the callee.

PS: Even this post begins with a Hi.

Friday, September 16, 2005

My theory on A$$holes

Here I describe my theory and speculations regarding the breed called A$$holes.

A$$holes: The breed of people who can't think. They perhaps have brains, but they just refuse to think. The idea of logic, brain, and the like is foreign to them. Invariably, they employ the power of speech as a substitute to the power of thought, which they never use.

A$$holicity: A$$holicity, or A$$holic content, of a population is defined as the ratio between the number of A$$holes and the size of the population. It can be expressed as a fraction or as a percentage. For example, if it's known that the A$$holic content of a population is 50% (or 1/2), it means that one out of every two person in that given population is an A$$hole.

A$$hology: The study of A$$holes. It's important because this helps in their identification. The farther you are from them, the better.

  1. A$$holes are everywhere.
  2. The A$$holicity of any given population is at least 1/3.
Theory: As a child I had known the story of a monkey and a bird. It was raining heavily. The bird was sitting happily in its nest, whereas the monkey was shivering in the rain. The bird felt pity and suggested to the monkey: "You are way stronger than I am. Why don't you build a home for yourself? Then you won't have to shiver like this." This monkey was an A$$hole. Needless to say, the logic didn't pierce into his top row. Instead, he attacked back and tore the nest of the bird itself.
That's how A$$holes are. It'll take all the power in nuclear forces before they accept reason.

George Bernard Shaw mused:
Few people think more than two or three times a year. I've made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week

It's bewildering to see how poorly used thought is.

Ayn Rand said:
If I were to speak your kind of language, I would say that man's only moral commandment is: Thou shalt think. But a 'moral commandment' is a contradiction in terms. The moral is the chosen, not the forced; the understood, not the obeyed. The moral is the rational, and reason accepts no commandments.
God didn't force thoughts upon us. He left humankind with this choice -- and this was the flaw -- how can someone make a choice without thinking?
Everyone is entitled to be stupid. But some people abuse the privilege. -- Anonymous

Returning to the A$$holic characterisics, they are omnipresent -- in the park, in the lawn, in the school, in the bus, everywhere. You can't get rid of them. But maintaining distance is crucial. Their content in any of these population will always be at least 1/3. There's no magic about this number. It's just the theoretical lower limit. The actual (practical) A$$holic content of a population can far exceed this. For instance, the A$$holicity of places like Parliament, Assembly, politically motivated meetings are in the tune of 98%. The rest 2% are passers-by.

Even if there are only 1/3rd A$$holes in the world, they'll collectively account for 2/3rd of the mess. Practical values shoot this messiness to over 80%. This fits the 20-80 rule that 20% of the people are responsible for 80% of the productive work done.

A$$holes are important, nevertheless. In times of depression or when you are feeling low, they serve as the lower reference-point of a depressed state. You'll automatically start feeling better. Whenever you are depressed, think of an A$$hole.

Conclusion: Never reason with an A$$hole.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Ufff.. the day today

What a pathetic day it was today. Things were going wrong with such
monotonic consequence that the even my PC gave up, just a day before I
have to give a demo to someone from Microsoft Research (sponsor for my
Display Wall project). It was wreckage. I was yet to complete the
preparations for tomorrow and here it was, my 1GB inferno lying
exhausted, uninterested in booting up despite all my pleadings. The HCL
guys were called up. I suspected an SMPS failure, as is generally the
religion in such outbreak; but the HCL guy declared that it was
something more serious -- the motherboard. It needed to be replaced. Now
started the wait for another guy from HCL service center who brought a
new motherboard. Things were settled not before 7:00 in the evening. I
had to settle with 512M RAM as this present motherboard supposedly isn't
supporting 1GB (needs some BIOS update, the HCL guy tells me).

And that was just one story. Today was the worst ever network failure in
the history of IIIT that has passed before my eyes. The central switch
in the server room broke down. Even rebooting the central switch, as is
infamously the norm in the server room, didn't work; it was hanging no
sooner it was booted. This ate up the whole day, and my lab (Room 227)
didn't get the network back even after all the others had got back their
life. Things improved only by 7:00.

The last two "No computers day" at the institute didn't leave me this
helpless but today I felt -- the PC doesn't work, the network doesn't
work, what the hell! what am I supposed to do?

Ufff.. the day today.