What is Elon Musk upto? Probably World Domination!

Wrote this for a Technology Blog – Durofy.com

Elon_Musk

We usually don’t do profile pieces, but this is special! I sincerely apologize in advance, if this looks like a deluge of information or a fan boy’s love letter to Elon Musk, I’m sorry, because this is probably just that (Google Sapiosexuality). If you are a science geek and a technology nerd like me you’ll probably already know who I am talking about. He is not your ordinary pop star or reality television celebrity, he is not the president or the dictator; He is just intelligent and that is his superpower because every time this guy is on the news, he has done something that is mind blowing-ly awesome or going to do something like that. When certain news agencies told us that he was the inspiration for Tony Stark in the Iron Man movies, they might not have been wrong but more on that later.

Read more…

Clean up Your Online Presence – Look good for your potential stalker.

At some point in your life, somebody(other than yourself) will Google you. That is an established fact. Most of us spend the major portion of our day online and it is bound to leave a trace. Those pictures of you, the one time you got drunk, can ruin your college application. What if your boss accidentally stumbles on that tweet you sent when you were seriously frustrated at work? Some strongly worded political opinions might scare off potential networking interests. And you wanna look cool when somebody takes the trouble to Google you.

These are  some tools that come in handy when you wanna look nice and dandy,

FireMe!

fme

You would definitely want to know if a tweet is going to get you fired and this tool will tell you exactly that. FireMe! is a tool from Ricardo Kawase and his team at the University of Hanover in Germany. FireMe! uses an algorithm to find tweets that have the potential to get you into trouble and sends you a warning. If they find such a tweet, they send you a message saying,

Can you imagine if your boss gets to know that you said: ‘I hate my job so much’. You said that on Twitter and the whole world can see it!

You can also go to the site and check their FireMeter! score – your chance of getting fired as a percentage. I scored 3%, so I’m guessing I’m good.

Continue to Durofy.com for the source article.

3D Printing – The Future is Here

Wrote this for a Science and Technology blog, Durofy.com

If you have not heard of 3D printing yet, I am sorry, you’ve been missing out on a great deal of awesomeness. 3D printing or Additive Manufacturing otherwise known as the father of ‘The Replicator’ (The last one is a Star Trek reference, don’t sweat if you didn’t get it) is probably the next big thing that is probably going to revolutionize the way you look at the world.  Now, it is time I quit stalling and start telling you what it is all about.

3D Fashion

3D Fashion

Usually manufacturing is done by a process of subtraction, simply put, make something bigger or larger than what is required then subtract the unnecessary things and voila! There is a masterpiece.

Continue to source article at Durofy.com

The Gift of the Senses – Bionic Hand and Eye

I wrote this for durofy.com, an Engineering and Technology blog.

Are we nearing the realization of trans-humanism?

Are we nearing the realization of trans-humanism?

Science gives us amazing things, this is one of those times you think you won’t live to see this happen and BAM! It is right here, right now! When you saw Darth Vader cut off Luke Skywalker’s hand and then he got a new prosthetic hand that could literally do everything that an ordinary hand could do, how long did you think that it would take for science to come up with that?

Continue to the source article at Durofy.com.

What if…

Anthropic principle is something that has provoked and prodded my brain for quite some while now and I am sure that it will continue to do so in the future too. May be the universe is not how we think it is, I don’t mean it in a banal we-still-don’t-know-much about the universe way but in a basic fundamental way. The concept of time, energy and entropy are things or abstract concepts that we have devised in order to understand the weird things around us. For example the concept of time, once thought to be infallible is now known to be relative.

Now consider this, concept of relativity tells us that as we move faster and faster, time slows down for us. The first time you learn this, it just blows your mind! This is not just a theory but a proven fact, the global positioning satellites are intentionally set at a faster rate so as to counter for the time dilation that they experience due to the fact that they are moving at the speed of thousands of kilometers per second. If that correction is not made you could have an error of up to 11kms while using your GPS. Thanks to our friend Mr. Einstein! Now let us push this knowledge a little further, to be precise, faster and faster. Time slows down further and further. If you are aware of the ‘The Twin paradox’, you will understand this better. Now let us push it further, consider a object or a particle that is moving at the speed of light, time slows down do an extent that you can essentially say that time stops for them or they do not experience time at all. Photons, even though they travel millions of light years, for them the instant they originate from a source is the same instant that they are absorbed by another body, hypothetically, if you ask a photon ‘what is time?’ they would have no idea of what you are talking about! For them time does not exist!

Mobius Strip

This has no connection with what I am talking about, I just think Mobius strips are cool!

All these concepts, starting with colors  shapes, sound, mass, energy, the electromagnetic spectrum, time, entropy etc., are just abstract concepts that we perceive or can put a number on, tools that we devise so that we can warp our heads around what is happening around us. The known universe exists the way it does is because we see it this way, the way we possibly can. And still with all these things we can only explain only 4% of the known universe! What about the rest 96%, we have enigmatically termed them as ‘Dark matter’ and ‘Dark energy’.

Now I am going to take a leap of Imagination. Consider a sentient being in that 96% swimming at the speed of light, with no concept of time at all and not even making a splash in the electromagnetic spectrum. For us they would be “dead” the instant they were “born” AND they would also be immortal at the same time, if time does not exist for you, you are literally immortal. Again, these are terms that come from our understanding of things around us and may be they hold no meaning in defining these creatures. We will never know if they exist at all, at least with the limited technology that we now possess. It is times like this that makes you look forward to the future. What would it be like to establish contact with these beings? I cannot even comprehend how it is even possible with my limited cranial capacity! It is times like this being an immortal really pays off. Then again, you wouldn’t want to be the dumb un-evolved caveman in the midst of much more evolved descendants.

Living beyond the grasps of time, how fascinating would that be?

Shall we know….

I know, Most of us will see that this is a loooong post, skim through the whole thing, find the words citizen, government, bureaucracy, read the flowchart and think that, here is an other ‘hypocritical do-gooder’ who thinks he can change the country! I would think so, and I’m not going to say you are wrong either; this is exactly that!

No, I am not asking any of you to hold a banner and become a social activist nor am I asking you to go on a indefinite fast for a noble cause. But if you do all this there wouldn’t be a greater thing. Every one of us has our own families to feed and our own friends to be with. We may not want to go out of our way to try and change the nation; that does not mean we don’t care because we do care! We do feel bad for the plight of our nation!

Well, basically we are not happy with our public administration<i.e. the action part of our government>, we feel that most part of the bureaucracy is either corrupt or insensitive to public needs and we feel that we cannot do anything about it because we are at their mercy.

Although we may not find the need to act upon these problems right away, we should know how to act when a situation arises. Just the awareness on what you can actually do about it will definitely make you a better citizen.

Throughout our school life we learn things like, how is a member of a legislative assembly or the Member of Parliament is elected, what is the structure of the judiciary, what is the rajiya sabha or the lok sabha, what is the work of the president or the prime minister. It is only once in a while that we get subtle hints on what a responsible citizen should do.

A government is not just the prime minister and his cabinet of ministers. It includes a lot more than that,

A government is a summation of many organizations (E.g. Ministry of rural development, PWD, Defense ministry, etc.), and each such organization is nothing but summation of people, i.e. common man.

A government is like a cart with two wheels, one is the bureaucracy and the other or the nation’s citizens. If only one wheel spins at a time, the cart will keep spinning in the same place. If both of them spin in opposite directions, the cart will break. If and only if both of them spin in the same direction, the cart will move forward.

So, why are we taught only about how does the government function and not about how we are suppose to be? Why are we not taught about how to BE governed? It is because of this ignorance on our part that sometimes we feel that the government is not doing enough even if it does what it has to do. It is because of this ignorance, neither do we demand transparency & quality from the government nor do we hold the government accountable for its actions.

In contemporary times good citizenship is equally important as good governance, hence there is a need for a new discipline or at least a sub discipline that teaches us how to be ‘good citizens’. This shall and will empower the common man. This discipline essentially may include four basic categories of information that every citizen should know.

Category-1: Effective usage of schemes

This category may include information on schemes that will benefit the public in their daily life; it will enlighten them on hoe to derive the most from the policies that are made for their welfare.

For example, consider this policy implemented by the rural development authority of India. It is called National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), it is the flagship program of the government that directly touches lives of the poor and promotes inclusive growth. This act aims at enhancing livelihood security of households in rural areas of the country by providing at least one hundred days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. Unique features of the act include time bound employment guarantee and wage payment within 15 days, incentive- disincentive structure to the state government for providing employment as 90% of the cost for employment provided is borne by the Centre or payment of unemployment allowances at their own cost and emphasis on labor intensive work prohibiting the use of contractors and machinery.

Category-2: Concepts

This part may include concepts pertaining to citizenship and the importance of knowing them.

For example, what is tax? Why is it important to pay tax? What happens to the money you pay? What will happen if we don’t pay tax? Which section of the population is exempted from tax? – This section shall seek to answer such questions.

Category-3: Accountability measures

This category shall throw some light on how to make the government accountable for its actions and how do you derive quality from the government.

Consider the Right To Information Act, It means the freedom of people to have access to the governmental information. It means openness and transparency in the functioning of the government. It envisages the appointment of a Public Information Officer in every governmental ministry and department to attend to the demand of the people for official information against nominal service charge for certified photocopies of the documents. There will be however be exemptions from disclosure of information in eight areas of the country defense, security, intelligence agencies related information, cabinet papers, minutes of advice including legal ones relating to decision making, trade or commercial secrets, information likely to breach of privilege of the parliament & state legislature.

Information commission shall fine an official Rs.250 per day (subject to maximum of Rs.25,000)  if information is delayed without reasonable cause beyond stipulated 30 days.

We can file an application by,

  •  Filing RTI application through Public Information Officer (PIO) or Assistant Public Information Officer (APIO) of the concerned department.
  •  File an application through post office.

The information shall be provided to the applicant within 30 days from the date of receipt.

Nominal charges required:

  • Application fee (Rs.10/-) for central government departments, different for different state government.
  • Further fee (Rs.2/- per page)
  • Fee for document inspection (First hour free; thereafter Rs.5/- per hour.

Category-4: Guarding against exploitation of civil liberties

Our civil liberties are the basic right or the freedom that is offered to us by our constitution. This part may tell you how to protect your rights and how to retaliate if it is offended in any way. For example, knowing how to issue a police complaint in case of any infringement and following up on it is a very essential knowledge that one should posses.

Let us assume that my laptop is stolen, then I should go to the police station in whose jurisdiction the crime took place and not the police station in whose jurisdiction I live in, to give a complaint. Any personnel present in the police station ought to record a report from me and file a First Information Report, I will be asked to sign and I will be provided with a copy of the FIR.

Then if the culprit is nabbed and my laptop is found, the police will inform me about it and file a petition in a trial court. Then I will get a court summons asking me to appear before the court of law for the proceedings. Once the laptop is identified to be mine and the crime is proven, I will get it back and the offender will be penalized with respect to the case.

The complete procedure does not include taking even a penny from you, except that you have to pay for your own bus charges.

This is just a basic idea on how a new branch of civics can be formed in order to teach the people on basic citizenship. So the next time a 6th grader from a rural school opens his social science textbook and reads about NREGA, he will tell his unemployed dad on how to save their lively hood and not to buy a bottle of poison for the whole family, the next time you submit your passport application form expecting get a passport within 10 days but it has already been a month, instead of paying thousands of rupees as bribes, you shall just fill up a ten rupee RTI application form.

Every citizen gets a government that he deserves; eternal vigilance is the price that you will have to pay for your liberty.

An ideal citizen is well-informed, right conscious, duty conscious, participative, having a stakeholder mentality and assertive. Let us be one shall we?

Instaling Apache – PHP and MySQL too………

Finally i got back to my senses after wasting too much time. I thought of finishing whatever I’ve left incomplete, so I took up php to start with. First of all I needed to install Apache and php. I had no idea that just this would take one whole day, but still it was worth it……..
I use a Ubuntu 9.04(Jaunty Jackalope) Desktop Edition, I thought this collective info on Installing and configuring apache2 along with PHP and MySQL would help people spend lesser time on just installing it rather than using it.

Installing Apache2

Apache HTTP Server is a free software/open source web server for Unix-like systems.
#sudo apt-get install apache2

This will complete the installation of apache2 web server. To check whether your Apache server is running, just open your web browser and type “http://localhost“, you will get a default page which says “It works!“. Now you need to know where the configuration files and document root for your Apache web server.
By default all the configuration files are located at /etc/apache2

Editing the document root
Default document root for apache2 is /var/www. If you want to change the default document root you need to edit the /etc/apache2/sites-available/default file and look for this line “DocumentRoot /var/www/” here you can change where ever you want to change.For example if you want to change /home/wwww the above line looks like this “DocumentRoot /home/www/”.
The main configuration file located at /etc/apache2/apche2.conf. At this stage reading through all the ‘.conf‘ files inside the /etc/apache2/ directory will be a good option.

Installing php in Apache
If you want to add support of php and cgi scripts install the following packages libapache2-mod-php4,php4-cli,php4-common,php4-cgi

#sudo apt-get install libapache2-mod-php5 php5-cli php5-common php5-cgi

This will complete the installation of php support for apache2.
Restart your Apache server

#sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart

To check whether your Apache server is parsing  you php scripts just do this.

#sudo gedit /var/www/index.php

Enter the following script and save the file
<html>
<body>
<?php echo “Hello World!!“; ?>
</body>
</html>

Now go to your web browser and type “http://localhost/index.php“, you should be able to see a page which says “Hello World!!“.

Troubleshooting PHP 5
I got stuck at this point for a long time, my browser kept asking me if I  wanted to download the php file instead of actually displaying it!!.
This will happen if Apache is not actually parsing the php after you restarted it, to resolve this just install libapache2-mod-php5.

#sudo apt-get install libapache2-mod-php5

It is installed when you install the php5 package, but may have been removed inadvertently by packages which need to run a different version of php.

You may also need to actually enable it, by doing

#sudo a2enmod php5

followed by

#sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart

If sudo a2enmod php5 returns “$ This module does not exist!“, you should purge (not just remove) the libapache2-mod-php5 package and reinstall it.

Be sure to clear your browser’s cache before testing your site again.

Recommended module
The worker MPM provides a threaded implementation for Apache2. It is considerably faster than the traditional model,and is the recommended MPM.You can install this using the following command.

#apt-get install apache2-mpm-prefork

Installing MYSQL with PHP 5

#sudo apt-get install mysql-server libapache2-mod-auth-mysql php5-mysql

This will install MySQL. Once MySQL is installed it will ask you for a mysql-root password, note that it is just mysql-admin password and not your system’s root password.

Set mysql bind address
Before you can access the database from other computers in your network, you have to change its bind address. Note that this can be a security problem, because your database can be accessed by others computers than your own. Skip this step if the applications which require mysql are running on the same machine.

#sudo gedit /etc/mysql/my.cnf
and change the line:
bind-address           = localhost
to your own internal ip address e.g. 192.150.1.34
bind-address           = 192.150.1.34
If your ip address is dynamic you can also comment out the bind-address line and it will default to your current ip.

If you try to connect without changing the bind-address you will receive a “Can not connect to mysql error 10061“.
You might have to go through the MySQL commands from a proper reference to create a user and play with the database.

Once you are done with all this, to verify that Apache and mysql are running just nmap your own system and if you’ve done everything right you will see something like this.

#nmap localhost

Starting Nmap 4.76 ( http://nmap.org ) at 2009-11-30 13:00 IST
Warning: Hostname localhost resolves to 2 IPs. Using 127.0.0.1.
Interesting ports on localhost (127.0.0.1):
Not shown: 997 closed ports
PORT     STATE SERVICE
80/tcp   open  http
631/tcp  open  ipp
3306/tcp open  mysql

Nmap done: 1 IP address (1 host up) scanned in 0.12 seconds

I got a lot of help from the Ubuntu forums, a special thanks to all the guys who ask questions and to the guys who answer those. 🙂