Sunday, July 10, 2011

So, what are the names of your circles?

So I've had google plus for about a week now, and am loving most things about it - from its unidirectional relationship model (which in my opinion models real human relationships very well, as we had in our papers on the yarta mobile social middleware), to its very useful mobile app. Looking forward to the upcoming features.

However, with the coming of circles comes the question: what do you call them? Do single word common nouns really suffice in representing the multiple groups in which we categorize those we know?

Personally, I don't think so. I mean, I have friends from work, friends from Paris, friends from LA, .... then colleagues from several working groups... the list is endless! And then there is the question of coming up with names to determine "closeness" to a person.

Therefore, I think I might settle on a content based naming scheme, especially for the second challenge above; after all, isn't the whole use of circles to (restrict) share(ing) of content?

So, here is a suggested list of circles, in increasing order of closeness :) :

  1. knows-my-name (basically, public)
  2. knows-my-profession
  3. knows-name-of-my-wife
  4. knows-name-of-my-girlfriend
  5. knows-name-of-my-crush
  6. knows-name-of-my-boyfriend (!!)

So, what are your ideas for circle names?

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Nine Years, and Still Going Strong

Yup, it has been nine years now since that crazy car accident [details here] in the south of France, and all is well :).

In fact, Chandra is going to be in Paris in a week, and I will be the UK a week after that :).

Here's to close shaves and second chances.

Happy re-birthday (Ashish) Chandra, Akshay (Sharma), (Rahul) Kapoor, and yours truly :)!

Friday, June 03, 2011

Dhinka Chika, the Evolution

I'm sure a lot of you have seen/heard the dhinka chika song from "Ready" by now. I too like the peppy beats, and especially the innovative lyrics -

ek tujhse chatting karne ki khatir main.. internet lagwaaonga rey!* --- waah waah! :)

[*'just for chatting with you, I will get internet']

Here is the promo video, in all its over-saturated color glory :).


And then Varun told me that there is an "original Telugu version", which he likes more; this set me searching.

Here's the original, Ringa Ringa, in its original Telugu, the native language of the peppiest dance numbers coming out of India ;-). I do not speak the language, but am pretty sure that the lyrics are also pretty innovative, since I hear a lot of English terms, especially the "landline" mention at the end :)


And as a bonus, here is the missing link of this transformation from Hyderabad to Mumbai -- Telugu song but dubbed in Hindi :).


Quite a transformation, no? The question now it, which of these will be first used as background music in a Hollywood movie? :)

[mobilePic] Drink of the day: elephant house orange barley sri lankan soda :-)

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Thursday, June 02, 2011

[mobilePic] Seen during my 8mile hike today :-)

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

[mobilePic] So, it begins! #knitting :-)

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Gajar (Halwa), Second attempt.

And here is the second attempt in 2 weeks at making carrot halwa :).



Based on the recipe by my mom at this video.
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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Gajar (Carrot) Halwa: mom's recipe :-)



Based on the recipe by my mom at this video.
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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A [small] idea to [further] improve Google Docs for Collaboration

Re-posting from this crazy idea added today.

Birthday post coming soon...



I love Google Docs. I use it for a lot of things --- to store recipes my mom sent to me when I was in grad school, taking instantly-ready meeting minutes collaboratively, as well as discuss paper-writing plans with my colleagues, among others.

When Google released Wave, I loved it; but sadly people like me were in a minority and the project was killed. However, I am very happy to note that Google has kept on pulling the much-liked features of Wave into Docs, including instantaneous collaborative editing (April 2010) and, most recently, advanced discussion/commenting features (March 2011).

However, there is still one extra feature which I wish they could add, and this one would not even take much coding -- just some basic JavaScript. Here is the idea:



I often use Google docs in a conference call. It is a great way to conduct meetings, with attendees posting their questions directly in the doc, and updating it with answers as they are agreed upon in the meeting. The same thing goes for action items. And this way, the minutes are ready at the end of the call, thus saving a TON of time.

However, what I miss is the "follow $user's cursor" feature, using which I can make my screen auto-scroll to the portion of the document that my colleague is currently seeing on his browser. This would help immensely when people on a conference call are trying to read/discuss a document together, and thus need to be on the same page, literally :). [ To those who have played Quake III or other multiplayer FPS games, this concept should not be new :). ]

Implementing this should not be a problem either. The Docs page already sends cursor positions periodically to its servers, we just need to add screen boundaries to this information in some manner. On the receiver's side, it will simply involve some JavaScript to scroll the screen to the appropriate position.

So, what say?

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Google's Surprise for my #30

So unless you are living under a rock, you know that I turned 30 today. Thanks to all of you who have sent in their wishes through various forms of communication. Will take me a day or two to get back and acknowledge them all personally :).

I will write a detailed post later [busy with preparation for my LA trip which starts tomorrow], but here is something I saw today which was a pleasant surprise [click the images below for large sizes].


Clicking the image got me to this page.


Very cool Google, very cool!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

[mobilePic] Yup, it's here :-) #nexus-s

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Time to Disco

Just got news on another paper acceptance, which takes this week's up to three -- Two papers in GPC 2011, and one in Policy 2011. I figured it's time for some music :).

Speaking of that, here is a playlist (following the success of my item-song playlist earlier) of Bollywood Disco Songs.

For inclusion, the conditions are:
  • The song should be in a Bollywood-produced movie [no Hollywood, Kollywood, or any other]
  • The song should not be a remix
  • The word "disco" should be in the title [on in the main chorus] of the song.

So here is the playlist [also at http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=DE29FABDE56E1EDE ]



As always, suggestions from you will be most appreciated :).

cheers,
-A

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love - Thirty

[I'll be turning 30 in less than three weeks, and since I am currently single, I figured the title of the post was apt :).]

Happy support-local-card-and-chocolate-industry day Y'all!

Hope you all have stuff planned on this wonderful Monday evening. As for me, I am going to a movie+dinner V-day non-date with not one, but two wonderful ladies - for a ménage a Tron, that is :).

Moving on, here are some links for you on this special day:

1. The usual Indian Hindu right-wing propaganda against V-day, and my rebuttal.

2. A cute service by the city of Paris -- free V-day message on city billboards [hat tip: KSam]

3. Some wonderful V-day toons from Savage Chickens -- I especially love the Zombie one.

And finally, some videos. The first is a pro-love con-love classic from Trishool.


And the second is a multi-lingual ballad from Khuddar, which was on TV this Saturday.


So, what are _you_ up to today?

Love,
-A

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Help Needed in Branding New Project

Hi all,

We [me + some very smart folks] are working on a new idea, of a software platform which will be open source, and will allow people/groups to perform common tasks (discussed below).

Where you come in
We are looking for a name, and I would greatly appreciate suggestions from you. The idea is that the name will be of the software which can then be used by various sites (something like "powered by $name$ v2.1"). It is OK to suggest nouns/adjectives etc, even in non-english languages (e.g., Ubuntu), or mythological characters, as long as there is a connection between the name and the ideas we want to project. Without divulging too much, here are the key words/concepts that we want to portray:
  • Tracking, but not of a virtual/coding activity like bugs or issues, but or real world stuff (e.g, tracking the progress of how much a cake has baked so far)
  • Accountability, transparency
  • We are looking for something with a positive connotation (e.g., progress), as opposed to negative one (e.g., supervision, watchdog, etc.)
  • Involvement, participation
  • The name should not be about "what" is being tracked/monitored, but the act itself.

The Reward
Well, in addition to my heartfelt gratitude to all those who send in their suggestions, the person who provides the selected suggestion will get his/her name and website prominently displayed on the "credits" page of the project website. :)

Thanks a lot in advance.

cheers,
-A
P.S. Anyone in LA on March 5th (Saturday)? Come celebrate my 30th birthday with me on the beach, with Holi colors :). Details coming soon.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Two Years of Not Forgetting

Today is January 26th, India's Republic day (also Australia day), commemorating the day 61 years ago when India formally adopted its constitution.

Today also marks the second anniversary of the official founding of Never Forget (NF) by a group of friends on January 26, 2009, in response to the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008 (the original announcement can be found here).

Unfortunately, after several months of feverish action (including a 100+ volunteers signing up, some productive on-the-ground meetings and media coverage by the local press), the movement slowly fizzled away. As of today, the movement and the website is pretty much defunct.

That said, we have not given up on the idea; and I, for one, definitely believe that the idea was good. What was lacking was in our implementation of it.

The former belief was further strengthened this Monday, when I had the good fortune of meeting someone who was until recently a very senior member of India's election apparatus. He affirmed the core idea behind Never Forget, and gave some very valuable advice.

On the implementation front, I have gotten a fresh boost (thanks to T, who likes the overall idea, and has volunteered to co-lead the development effort), and will be able to give a concrete, if small, amount of my free time to it on a regular basis.

Hopefully we will have a basic system up soon for you all to provide feedback on. But for now, I need your help. Please post in the comments section what you feel went wrong with NF (and what went right). That will go a long way in guiding us as we rebuild both the system as well as the movement.

best wishes for a happy republic day.
-A

Monday, January 17, 2011

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Who Tweeted That? A Proposal for inter-disciplinary Research

I love my Android Phone (I have a Nexus One), and more importantly, love the fact that there are three apps that I use regularly that I myself have written -- for uploading photos, for knowing train timings while getting ready to work in the morning, and bus timings as I leave work. Being an engineer, the ability to make stuff which can be used in real life is indeed very satisfying to me :).

The above, combined with the inordinate amount of time I have spent recently writing research grant proposals, led to the following blog post, which was originally posted on my Crazy Ideas blog.

Let me know what you think :).



[No, this is not about the latest means of communication, rather, about something which has been in vogue for about 150 million years.

Motivation and Context

Often as I am walking in my neighborhood or near my lab (which is next to a forest), I hear bird calls, and wonder what bird is trying to communicate with its peers. Now, if it were a celestial object, I would have whipped out my phone and used Google Sky Maps, but alas, there is no such app for bird calls. Hence this proposal/idea.

The proposed system

My idea is rather simple, at least in terms of a user interface. Quite similar to apps like Shazam which let users find out more about a song they are hearing. Basically, it should work like this from the user's perspective:

  • I install the app
  • When I hear a birdcall, I click "record" and point my phone toward it
  • When done, I click the "upload" button
  • I get the information about the bird (Name, Wikipedia link, samples of bird calls. etc.) on my phone :)

Paying for the app

Now, apps like Shazam make money when people end up buying the songs that they recognize using the app. For the app being proposed here, there is no such revenue stream. However, the users can 'pay' by uploading the location of the phone (and consequently, the bird) when they upload the bird-call. Of course, the system should not store any other data which is personal, but the location can be very useful to secure funding to create this system (see below).

The players behind the curtain

I feel that in order to provide the functionality proposed above, several unanswered questions will need to be addressed by specialists of several disciplines:

  • Ornithologists, who can provide the information about existing samples of bird calls, as well as locations where they are commonly found, so as to quicken the search. They will, in turn, gain valuable data about where the various bird calls were heard (by virtue of the location uploaded by the users), which might lead to interesting discoveries.
  • Computer Scientists, who will have to solve the problems of performing the search at large scales while being responsive enough so as not to bore a smart phone user :).
  • Mathematicians/Digital-Signal-Processing researchers, who will have to propose ways to model bird calls for easy searching, as well as propose compression techniques suited for audio which is neither voice nor music.

So, do you think the above idea makes sense? Is there an NSF/NIH/EC call where this can be proposed? Do you know of researchers who would be interested in working on this? Let me know in the comments.

-A

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

[mobilePic] First Coffee of 2011 at INRIA :-)

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Saturday, January 01, 2011

[mobilePic] The Scene from my NYE Dinner :-)

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