Source Perfect

I was reading this article and its prequel that was posted on /. As the title of the story suggested, the author makes a point that all software source should be open. That is, programs should not be sold without bundling the source that was used to produce it. The point he is trying to make is that, just as buildings and bridges do not hide what they bring along with them, so should software not hide what it was built from. He does advocate crippled source to make sure that people dont recompile and all that, but that idea still being that only by making source open can one actually make sure that people dont write sloppy code.

I like that idea. As in the point that source should be open to make sure that programmers do their work properly, and dont hide behind the compiler for producing bad code. But the idea as he has presented is not, according to me, viable. The reasons are simple.

  1. The analogy between buildings and software is not correct and does not hold. Firstly since seeing a building or a bridge is not the same as seeing a source. The analogy is more like blueprint and building. Secondly, what one can do with source, one cannot do with a blueprint - like reusing a part of it, copying it ad-infinitum and so on.
  2. Even if we do make it open, who is going to check it? How qualified is he going to be to have to see source that does not compile and tell you if it is good code or bad? When was the last time you saw source code and judged it?

But coming to back to what I was saying. I do find myself agreeing with that fact that source should be made available. Only then can we get some sort of responsibility as far as building source is concerned. And this is a major flaw in the entire process of software building which i believe is fundamentally creating problems with the software (read IT) world. So this is what I suggest. What should rather be done is that we should have some sort of third party certification. Just like html is checked for adherence to standards, code should also be checked for adherence to standards. And companies should be able to proclaim that their software is "Source Perfect". I dont really know if we have such an idea lying around, but this sure is worth trying.

Of course, this has its drawbacks. The standards that need to be checked adherence to. That is the need of the hour. We need to define what good software is. Everyone knows the properties of good software. We should be able to standardise that and make it platform, implementation independant. Then we can be on the first step towards building a world having software that is "Source Perfect".

We had a recent meeting, for some work. There we were meeting these alumni, who were 25 years down the line. I was making a presentation to them, and said "And that is the reason I think I can safely say that we might be having one of the the best websites in the world". To which the answer was "That is precisely the problem with you new generation. Have faith. Say 'Ours _is_ the best website in the world'"

Amen to that

~!nrk

November 29, 2002

What was that again?

hi

just a thought

if

a. ppl can control it

b. it gives u an easy temporary escape route for sometime as compared to the tougher alternative of goin thru a process and maintaining ur cool...and by getting away from painful situations, a person can concentrate on the main things on hand..that else get bogged down due to worryign abt them..

c. taken infrequently, shldnt do grt physical damage in short run, and in the long run all of us are anywys dead..

if one can use it to buy some time to deal with life so that other imp things can be done more efficiently, then

why shouldnt a person drink/smoke?...

I have never done this before. I mean posting other people private stuff on my blog. Ah well, everything has a first right? And this is fine, I guess, simply because there is little personal about this.

I dont smoke or drink. In the words of people who know me, I have the best dope profile. I have long hair, work on computers, read and believe in 0wnz0red, I listen to hard rock and death metal and front a scowl for a neutral face. That meant that no one ever fully believed me when I told them I dont really do em dope. That explains, I hope, to the third party reader about the italicized post earlier.

The answer to the question is just this - No he should not stop drinking or smoking

The world has people, and people are humans. Humans have consciousness and since time immemorial you have had this consciousness in trouble. There is pressure, there is pain. These negative feelings have been the bane of conscious thought ever since the first guy figure out that rolling is different from dragging. And humans have taken a zillion ways of dulling this all pervasive, all powerful consciousness. They drank, smoked, doped, took drugs, injections, morphine, invented GOD, started religion, invented prayers, formed associations, for institutions, established schools and colleges. All designed with one objective in mind. To dim the consciouness and dull the intellect. No, dont take me at face value. You think, prayers are different from drinking? Think again. What do you do when you are unhappy, or otherwise feeling down. Have you ever heard about the healing effects of auto-suggestion. Or the narcotic effects of the same. Ever seen Fight Club? Do you know what Oxygen is? My dear reader, the whole life structure you have been exposed to one that is designed to not let you be at full capacity. Music - Ah well, this is one of the most powerful of narcotics available to all of humanity. What are the only things that dont depend on language, customs, place of birth, color of the skin and sex? Music, sex, narcotics, religion. See the similarity?

Why? I have no idea. But this just makes me feel that we were not be be born on earth at all... But that is another story.

Back to the point of discussion. There is nothing fundamentally evil about smoking and drinking. Okay there is the angle of health right? I mean you will die sooner if you smoke and all that. Well here is the deal. You think the other solutions are any less deadly? Religion - kills inventiveness, kills the spirit, kills innovation, kills motivation and lets you live longer - why? Music - eats into time, halves effective ability to focus. Society - one of the biggest ills of the recent society - does everything that religion does and worse, makes you feel good about it. So how are drinking and smoking different - they probably shorten your life, but what if they allow you to make your life more productive?

Okay there are exceptions to all rules, including this one. And the exceptions can be found both ways. So lets forget that for a moment and focus on the thought at hand.

There is no good or bad about smoking and drinking. There ought to be no reason why you should not do them and till stay in a society and practice religion. But the decision not to smoke or drink should stem from what you feel about losing control over yourself. Do you really want to lose it? Then go ahead, you will not be worse of for it. And that is the closest you will get to truth, coz there is none of that out there.

~!nrk

ps: no thought is arbit, it is all in the mind after all.

November 22, 2002

Uh..Huh?

Basically was caught up the last few days. So did not post. Ah! well, that must be obvious. I mean there is little precious that can happen right? Well so here I am back after the break, with a bang.

Okay.. i found this comfortable position for the keyboard by keeping it in my lap. And believe me it is really good considering that I dont have proper furniture for working on the computer. And it does show. I mean, i have been feeling my hands go numb after typing non stop for a long time. And my speed also gets affected. And this position is really good as I can type fast and at the same time I really dont see my hands paining. It is really a win-win.

Dont know why I am rambling like this, but basically I just love the way I can type fast. And I just saw swordfish. Okay, I really dont know how people can buy all this hacking bull shit. It is almost as if people write authentication code in standard html and expect every system to give one of two messages...
If (1) then the printf("Access Granted",green) else printf("Access Denied",red);
Almost pathetic how cinema can make people believe a lot of stuff. Just like timelines for a lot of other stuff gets compressed in the world of cinema, the timelines for hacking, security, for carefully laid systems all get compressed into a few taps of the keyboard. I know I will live to one day see "offline backup systems" being hacked using satellite technology. That day I will sleep in peace.

So what do I write about? There is a lot to be written, but dont really have the enthusiasm for that now. So I will call it a day now and retire, hoping for a better morning.

Bubbly bubbly bye...

~!nrk

November 19, 2002

Music

I love Metal. Metal Music. I really dont want to bother about definitions or try to tell you what *I* really think Metal Music is or ought to be. That is not how I work. Rather I will just try to make a little distinction for those of you, who are not necessarily into this kind of music.

The entire scene of Rock and Metal is not really clean. Once you start delving into it, it starts getting murkier and horribly convoluted. The convolution starting with the nomenclature. There are a variety of rocks, metals and other stuff all over the place, each band promoting yet another of its own variety to stand out. I dont have either the patience or the capacity to go into all these. Primarily look at three kinds of music, rock, metal and alternative. And that is more than enough for you to enjoy music in all its glory.

Rock basically stems from the early rock-and-roll bands of the beetles with their amazing (now dated) attitude towards life. It progresses with time becoming more modern and more rich with groups like Rolling Stones, Led Zepplin, Van Halen, AC/DC and peters down at groups like Guns N' Roses. Here you see attitude, a common aspiration set, and musically an increasing dependance on guitar strings, on distortion and a decreasing volume and increasing pitch of vocals. The technology use also increases across this set. The themes are predominantly emotional, with love hanging in big time. "she" is almost always there. So are misunderstandings and broken hearts. Of course you do also find traces of other stuff, like fear, animosity etc. But that is more attitude than anything else. Rock is one of the biggest influences on the lifestyle of a large number of people over a particularly long period of time.

Metal is the big brother of Rock. Whatever Rock can do Metal can, only harder. Metal is the more noisier, faster and more rich cousin of rock, so much that it almost becomes a disincentive to a majority of Rock fans. "GN'R is fine, but I just cannot listen to anything harder". Metal in its numerous hard and noxios forms - hard, trash, neo, industrial, etc. focusses on topics different from the traditional ones. Aliens, Satan, God, the Sandman, fear, anger, jealousy and other more baser and powerful influences are found in plenty. Guitars are particularly caustic, vocals throaty, lyrics explicit and sex being not the only reason. Metallica, Megadeth, Pantera, Slayer and other incredible powerful bands form the line up here reaching bands like Clown, Gwar and others that make words like 'music' a distant stretch of the imagination. Metal is more about making a statement, not to those around you, but to yourself. While rock shaped how people lived, ate, drove and danced, metal shaped the way people thought and felt. "she" and love a mostly missing.

Alternative is all else. In between, in the flanks, all around. Floyd, Linkin Park, Amorphis and so on and so forth. Probably all other forms like Gothic, Grunge, Rap and the lots can be dumped into this couldron. Alternative is what you do when your emotions are too raw and need either a time-out or healing. "she" might hang around, either to be dumped or slaughtered. Alternative is everything from bad-ass to everything sensible about music.

This is good. But the problem is not to tell a Rock fan what I feel about Metal, not to tell an Alternative fan about the stirrings of a Gothic Symphony. Rather, it is to address that mire that thrives in what we call the pop and the classical. Pop is all that rock is not. Infested with sugary femme fatales and boyish kids with neither the originality nor the substance to move from the disco floor to the home, from the lips to the heart. It is not that I am against pop. It is just that I hate it.

Classical is everything pop and rock are not. Classical is what I call all other forms of music, especially indegenous music evolved over the centuries. Music where everything is not just black or white. Music that realises what it really is, and the incredible power it holds over the listener. Music that is single minded in its pursuit to replicate the world in the air waves. Music that told you where to go, not what is or what can be. That is what I refer to as Classical.

Classical music is really a mature form. Evolved over time, it is aware of its potency. It knows what music does to the emotions, and knows how to manipulate them and how to effect them. Only that it is simple. Classical normally deals with music in its elements. I deals with singular, basic emotions. I knows happiness, sadness. It knows peace. But it does not care about higher emotions. Nor does it concern itself with more baser forms of emotions.

Rock and Metal fundamentally differ in this respect. These are considerably richer forms of music. Richer in the amount of emotional content that they can carry. They can tell a story and not just evoke an emotion. They can evoke fear, anger, angst, helplessness, anxiety. They are emotions from one mature intelligence to another. They deal with the adult and not the child.

People are put off from heavier forms of music because it is noisy. Because it will affect the ears and cause deafness. Hey, dont do that! Give Metal a Chance. If it is loudness that concerns you, just turn the volume down. But listen to harder stuff. If you thought noise was not for you, you are sorely mistaken. Nothing can replicate you as powerfully and as completely as metal or rock. While classical can make you yearn for what you are not, metal can show you what you are. Metal is noise, but noise is not bad, or silly or a cause for deafness.

People tell me that Metal really hits them when they are drunk, when their defences are down. If you want more proof that metal talks to your heart and your soul, you probably are better off listening to britney spears talking about how beautiful she is.

Dont discount something just because it is noisier.

Give metal a chance.

Ever wondered what would happen if you were all alone in a city. Everything else existing, but if you were the only living person in the entire city. How would that be.

I am thinking I will write a little fiction in the days to come. Am kinda fed-up with all this serious stuff. The first part of the story coming right up.

~!nrk

October 26, 2002

Objectivism

"Lets think objectively" is a common ring you hear, especially if things are not going the way the speaker wants them to. "Objectively speaking..." said that very important person when he was asked about his views on the oil embargo. "It is time people rose above their narrow considerations and thought objectively" said a great saint who was dressed like what seemed like a saint.

So I decided, I would do it. Objectivity in everything I do. Be in oil embargoes or just basic thinking. But I failed.

How would you go about thinking objectively. Someone said "do it with math. There is nothing more objective than math. There is nothing more objective than cold numbers which know not what the user wants." That sounded good. But I really wanted to objectively evaluate who among two girls in my class was more beautiful. Objectively, I assigned scores to various aspects and summed them up. I got an answer that demended a recount. So I objectively did the exercise all over again. A second re-count became a necessity, for the results just got flipped. This continued for sometime, when I realized that the answer actually depended on the time of the day. As time passed relative beauty changed. Objectively I concluded that beauty depends on the time of the day.

Then someone asked me if the actress in the new bond movie was beautiful, and objectively I asked him the time of the day. And he hit me on the head with a rolled copy of the filmfare magazine - quite objectively.

When I was a kid, some people at the place I studied showed a remarkable lack of imagination. "If I become Prime Minister for a day" was a favourite topic for essay writing. And the course was not FNT101 Introduction to Fantasy. Last I knew the people at that place were still that unimaginative and they still have that for a topic.

And I could never do justice to that topic, simply because I could never do justice if it actually happenned. Governmental role has been critisized so many times and so severly, that this would not even matter. The most common grouse has been that it is always partisan, and never neutral. Or in other words it is never Objective.

But every theory dealing with either human behavoir or with human action is based on the fundamental assumption that humans are selfish bigots, who dont care two hoots about what happens to the rest of the society. Surprisingly though, that is true.

The point is. WAKE UP PEOPLE, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS OBJECTIVITY. I am sick of people using Objectivity as an excuse to do anything they feel like. I am sick of people complaining of lack of objectivity in others. I am sick of not understanding why other people cannot be as objective as me. This is my wakeup call. There is no such thing as objectivity. WAKE UP.

I love compl(I)ments, with an I and not complements which has an E instead of an I.

so long and thanks for the compliments

~!nrk

October 25, 2002

CATB Revisited

This is in continuation of an earlier post, where I talked about the Cathedral And The Bazaar (CATB), which I believe is one of the most powerful essays of its kind. In this post I want to talk about an experience which makes the Bazaar a more meaningful idea.

Okay the basics first. The CATB talks about two forms of software development - the cathedral or the proprietary model (the Microsofts of this world) and the bazaar or the open source and related models (the people behind GNU and Linux etc). In comparing the two models there have been sevaral ideas thrown in, economic, psychological etc. Here is another insight.

Was talking to a friend yesterday, who had worked in an Infotech company called Infosys. During the discussion we almost immeadiately agreed that she was not a person who hated technology, until she joined Infosys. Something happenned at Infosys that forever changed her opinion about technology. This somehow brought on deja vu for me. I remembered having the same discussion with more than one person earlier. Suddenly it struck me, that the reason why ex-Infocions were shying away from technology could actually lie with their stay in Infosys, and might not be a coincidence after all. I decided to find out more.

It seems that Infosys, during the days of boom, used to the hilt its USP of cheap Indian workforce. Infosys, periodically hired some of the best talent in the country by throwiing enormous amounts money at them. In fact, Infosys became such a phenomena that any engineer, irrespective of discipline, wanted to end up doing a job with Infosys. So much so that there actually were fears that there would be a resouce crunch in other engineernig disciplines in the country if Infosys continued on its path. Fortunately, the bubble burst, but that is another story.

Now all these engineers, intelligent people mind you, who were 'bought' by Infosys were taken to their imposing zoos and housed in A/C cubicles and were given crap as work. Infosys followed standard "cathedral" models of software development. Small groups were given specific tasks. Each individual was further given smaller, meaningless, 'coglike' projects. It primarily consisted either of repititive 'copy paste' of existing code, or testing and recommending changes to other code authors. Work was always in small modules.

There was no real development - no one developed a sensible module, everyone attacked a small very very focussed I/O situation. There was hence no learning, either of the programming language or the logic of the problem or hints of the solution. Further, due to reasonable code archives, development was little other than copy-paste. It generally ended up as dreary repititive work, but someone had to do it, and someone human. Not only was there no learning, but the reward for doing something well was repitition of the same job - over and over again. In the name of specialisation, absolutely no job rotation was possible, atleast not enough to retain interest. And about having ownership of written code - hah forget it.

One another class of operations was testing and bug-fixing. The testing section was another nightmare. Testing, is something not generally relished by builders of code themselves. Imagine having to test code that has been _assembled_ by another person. Sheer boredom - no quality work was possible. Still more stagnation in the entire process.

Bug-fixing was worse. Yeah it was. Bug-fixing naturally involved more than one person, the testor and the actual developer. And relations between the twain always managed to deteriorate. This meant that bug-testing was never with a view to improve code, or performance, but just to impress/escape observation of peers. All the wrong reasons, for the most critical of operations.

And this is a typical model of software development. So what did this result in?

First of all, it made the people involved _hate_ code. And not just code, the hatred extended to just about any technical issue. Considering that most of these people were engineers from established institutes, such hatred was no mean feat.

Secondly, the sheer monotonicity of the jobs resulted in a very high turnover of jobs in the organization. The high pays helped, but not for long, and not in the current environments. And not to mention, this did not help the quality of code in any positive way.

Third, the code suffered, and the costs sky rocketed. Some of the prices that Infosys quotes, almost makes me jump out of my skin. And this is just not restricted to Infosys alone. Ever looked at the prices of software? If you are a developer, you will know how high they *really* are. Have you ever looked at the quality/functionality of most software and wondered why it cost so much. Well here is the reason for you. Incredibly costly man-hours. And the model is to blame.

The best part of course, is that I have not even touched the great sink called maintenance, and services. That is another story for another day. But looking at the basic development model alone, doesnt it not look so incredibly inefficient. Compare this with a plausible model using open source components, and a bazaar style of development. Can the Cathedral ever match the prices of the Bazaar?

No, never. Once the customers realise that, the Cathedral will find survival difficult.

signing off as in the last post - Long live the bazaar.

~!nrk

October 04, 2002

Consciousness

Okay, here I am back. This is the first time I am doing a second post in the same day. But I just cannot help it. For I have discovered an incredible piece on the net. The page talks about some exerpts from the book "The User Illusion" by Tor Norretranders (Translated by Jonathan Sydenham;Viking Penguin, 1998; ISBN 0-670-87579-1; 467 pages). And I think it is amazing. You ought to read that book. As the author of the page said, if it does not excite you, check your vital signs. In the exerpt, the author of the page talks about the term "user illusion" which is again very similar to the concept of the "Sphere of perception" that we had talked about earlier. Amazing really. Googling a lot now. Will add more to this post as and when.

Update: Check out the first link that google threw up. Some more reading the book without buying it. I _am_ going to buy it, but this it till then. Check this out...

Shorthand: conscious self = "I"; unconscious self = "me"

...

(Ref: The Inner Game of Tennis. "When you short-circuit the mind by giving it an ‘overload’ of things to deal with, it has so many things to attend to that it no longer has time to worry. The "I" checks out and lets the "me" check in.)

...

Spirituality merely involves taking your own life seriously by getting to know yourself and your potential. This is no trivial matter, for there are quite a few unpleasant surprises in most of us. The dominant psychological problem of modern culture is that its members do not want to accept that there is a Me beyond the I. The Me is everything the I cannot accept: It is unpredictable, disorderly, willful, quick, and powerful.

From the Amazon.com editorial review of the book "The Inner Game of Tennis" (Paperback - 122 pages Revised edition (May 1997) Random House (Paper); ISBN: 0679778314)...

A phenomenon when first published in 1972, the Inner Game was a real revelation. Instead of serving up technique, it concentrated on the fact that, as Gallwey wrote, "Every game is composed of two parts, an outer game and an inner game." The former is played against opponents, and is filled with lots of contradictory advice; the latter is played not against, but within the mind of the player, and its principal obstacles are self-doubt and anxiety. Gallwey's revolutionary thinking, built on a foundation of Zen thinking and humanistic psychology, was really a primer on how to get out of your own way to let your best game emerge. It was sports psychology before the two words were pressed against each other and codified into an accepted discipline.

October 02, 2002

Primed to Discover

Did you ever notice that after you have just learnt a new word, it seems to pop up from all sorts of places. And you wonder how you were able to make sense of stuff in the era before you learnt the word. I have been watching myself watch new words pop out all the time, and have been wondering. It seems this is not just a problem with me, and in fact it is actually a documented fact. When you learn a new word, though it drops out of your consciousness, your sub-consciousness is 'primed' to tag these new words. This is a way in which the sub-consciousness tries to cement your learning through repetition. By tagging words to pop-out it is ensuring that you consciously learn them.

Remind me to thank my sub-consciousness the next time I meet it.

Hey, how would it be, to meet my own sub-consciousness. Remember the sphere of perception we had defined earlier. It was the set of all inputs that a person actually learns from. Well, I guess we ought to add the term 'consciously' to that now. And this also calls for us to rectify the entire setup of the learning process that we talked about.

In an earlier post, I had talked about the two differentiators that make a difference between the way people learn and develop. Taking on the model of the neural networks, there are two primary difference, the amount of input accepted and the learning rate on these inputs. The amount of input accepted was tagged with the term "sphere of perception". Now, we ought to make slight changes to it. The sphere of perception also includes that part of the "sub-consciousness learning" that is relayed back to conscious levels. Although our definition itself does not change, what changes is the kind of inputs available under the definition. Seems that the sub-consciousness is a really aware entity, and it probably gets a lot from its sphere of perception, than the average human does.

Hmm, and where do the twain meet? Dreams? Okay, more broadly sleep. hmm.. Sounds interesting. Imagine a person who did not sleep at all. Well, that person would not be in touch with his sub-consciousness. And what if one day, he finally falls asleep? That is that day, he can actually meet his fellow (sub)consciousness. Wouldnt that be great? I know there are a lot of wrinkles, but those can be ironed out. And what cannot be, we will submit that to a "temporary suspension of disbelief".

Hmm, so how will that meeting be like? Lets say, meeting your sub-consciousness will allow you to form opinions. Maybe that is the final stretch that man has not tapped. I mean, think about it. The meeting of the consciousness with the sub-consciousness could be the fertile ground for "imagination". The ability to "generate" new ideas out of nowhere. Maybe, this ability is not just a matter of conscious effort. Maybe the ability is nothing more than a meeting between the consciousness and the sub-consciousness, followed by an exchange of ideas. Actually it makes sense in a obtuse sort of way.

Lets see if I can put this in the form of a fictional piece. But for that I will have to sleep and see what my sub-consciousness has to say.

~!nrk

Rammstein

And more specifically stripped. Incredible song. Or for that matter kokain. Man those riffs just drive you out of your mind dont they.

Filled up a survey today, about some perception thing, of companies recruiting on campus. Was so totally painful. I dont really understand. Why did I spend so much time filling it up. There was this HUGE matrix, which had to be filled with my opinions. Someone did not tell them things properly. I dont have opinions. Not atleast as many to fill up that monstrous matrix of theirs. Well, I did try, for a while. As i tried to form opinions on the spot and them put them on paper. Do you know how hard it is to form opinions on the spot? It is. And if you are finding it easy, you dont form opinions, you just think you do. Trust me on this. :)

One of the most incredible things is the fact that most people around you dont bother to form opinions. They have a few of their own opinions. You can figure out that this is their own opinion when people can be completely irrational about it and its consequences. But most other opinions you see around are only the sum total of the opinions formed from the positive part of your sphere of perception, that is all.

Okay, enough of rambling. Lets continue with the discussion we were having last. In the last post, we talked about the a number of definitions that led to the definition of the LSI or the linear scale of information. Given any observation, it can be located on this scale. What is an observation. An observation is any representation of a Data Source or DS. A photo is an observation of some reality. A word is an observation of some idea. A poem is an observation of some emotion/idea. A simple sentence also is an observation. So is a complex mathematical model of the universe.

One peculiarity about the LSI should be kept in mind. The LSI stretches from 0 to infinity. It is unbounded on the upper side. This means that a DS lies at infinity, and a completely useless bit of information lies at 0. We define data to lie in the small reaches, closer to 0 on the LSI. Information, relatively is higher on the scale. It represents a higher richness of data about a particular DS. Knowledge tends towards the object itself. A picture, worth a 1000 words, is therefore higher on the LSI with respect to the words it replaces.

This can be extended to any object, idea, thought or any other information content without any modifications. We can therefore use this structure to compare and develop better and higher forms of information management systems. That is what is envisaged as the end objective of this study. This structure can be used to describe any informational content with ease. We will go into details about the implementation of this structure soon, but before that we shall look into the way this method can be used to model interactions.

We define an interaction to be a process that allows for transfer of data between a DS and a DA using a Data Transfer Medium. This is the simplest definition of an interaction. An interaction can give rise to one of the following results. Information will be transferred from the DS to the Data Acquirer. In addition, the DS can change its state due to the interaction of the DS with the DTM (also known as the medium). Further, the interaction between the medium and the DA, will cause changes in the DA. Note that these changes are in addition to the simple transfer of information that can be attributed to the interaction.

This in fact follows from the defnitions we had seen yesterday. We have already talked about a query that is used by the DA to get information from the DS. Now when the query travels from the DA to the medium, the medium has obtained information. This causes a change in the medium itself. When the query is transported to the DS, the DS undergoes changes because of the informational content in the query. The exact similar process occurs when the DS replies with the answer to the query. The reader may note that no change occurs in the DA during the asking phase of the query, and no change happens in the DS during the reply phase. The DTM undergoes change twice, with both the query and the answer.

Lets see some practical explanations of the entire structure. Any systemic structure can be abstracted using this. In fact, now with the addition of the term interaction, we can now model dynamic changes in systems too.

Mail me, if you think there is some structure that cannot be abstracted using this framework. We will go into more practical considerations using this framework in later posts.

This is the first time that I actually continued a post beyond just one post. That must mean, I dont really think this idea to be crap.

Regards,

~!nrk

October 01, 2002

Data, Information and Knowledge

This in short is the brief history of the universe. I am not writing this blog after being overly fascinated with the book with the title that sounds obscenely like the quip I just quipped. In fact I think I read that book a long long time ago. What I am writing this is because I have an alternate view of the universe. A view that breaks down everything into a point on the line, defined with ends of data and knowledge, with information lying in the middle. I know I am getting a little too abstract here, but then I hope things will be clearer to be as we go along.

When I used to study science, something struck me as very odd. Physics, especially of the variety that is normally taught in the high schools, breaks down the universe into two sections. The physical universe and the law that govern this universe. What struck me as odd, is the fact that god actually defined such a cute little dichotomy in his world. Just like we have data and instructions, male and female, good and bad, we have matter and laws. Okay matter, energy and all that dark crap too, but basically the tangibles and the intangibles. Okay, this is not also very true, but... Wow, this is tough, getting the definition right. But basically the problem with god and his universe boils down to this - how did he come up with something that exists, and then threw away a hell lot for us to discover. Why all this segregation? Why this duality? Why was matter there, for all of us to see, and the rest of the relationships, laws etcetera for us to discover?

But then think about it. What was matter. Ask someone in the dark ages, (dark ages NOT defined as the time before the computer) and their *ologists will tell you that it is nothing but a combination of air, water, earth, fire and something else. Somewhere down the time line, people will tell you that matter was made of unbreakable balls, called atomz. Then people went berserk. Matter was made of all sorts of strange. mystical and mythical substances, which incidentally no one can see, but ought to be there for matter to make sense.

So what was different in matter in the dark ages and now? Nothing. It is the same old matter burnt and forged into different shapes, but still the same old matter. What changed is information. The information known to man and this knowledge has changed the way people look at matter. If this information was not available, a lot of people in nagasaki would have been nth-generation residents, instead of what they are now. Matter has changed because of what matter is to different people. To the ordinary man, matter is nothing more than just earth and air. Hence what is important about matter is not matter itself, but information about matter. What we see as matter is nothing but the extract of the information conveyed to us by the various input devices.

We will now look at a totally different way of seeing the universe. A way in which there is no difference between the various units of matter, energy, ideas, minds and everyother thing in the universe. This unified way of looking at the universe is going to help us define the entire universe on a one dimensional scale rating information content. This will then give us a powerful way of dealing with many problems on a vastly simplified, unified methodology.

But before this we need to get some basic framework necessary. We postulate the existence of three different types of entities in this universe. The first is the Data Source or the DS. The Data source is characterised by the fact that it contains data. It owes its existence to the data it contains. There is no restriction on the data it contains. Of course we havent defined what data itself is. But we are deliberately not defining it, since it will be globally defined with the circumstance under view. And moreover, we cannot define it in isolation from other units underconsideration. Now the second entity we postulate about is the existence of the Data Acquirer or the DA. The Data Acquirer or the DA can query the DS for data through the use of what is known as a Data Transfer Medium or DTM.

Given these basic units, we define some terms. The first term we will be defining is the Data Completeness (DC) of an entity. DC is defined as the relative content of data of a particular kind in a particular Data Source. Hence DC is defined for a DS and Data Type. For example a DS has 100% DC about itself. Any DS can answer any question itself. So its DC is complete. Note that DC is independant of the query for data, or the way the query is designed, or the DA itself or the DTM for delivery. The actual response of the DS to a query is a function of the ability and capacity of the DTM and the DA.

This leads to an interesting and obvious statement. Any DS is 100% Data Complete with its own data. In fact, any entity, which is 100% DS with the data of any DS, is virtually indistinguishable from the DS itself. This is because the said entity can answer any question about the DS. This means that any DA cannot distinguish between the impersonating entity and the Data Source itself.

Now the DC itself does not give any powerful medium for expressing data relationships. Since the DC is fully defined with the data type and the DS, we define another term called the Relative Data Completeness or the RDC. RDC is defined as the relative compelteness of data given the DS, the DA and the DTM. For example, a still photograph has an RDC of close to 100% for the original static setup, given that the DA is just seeing them with just sight as the source of data input. The moment the DTM expands to include say touch, the photograph no longer has 100% RDC.

The RDC therefore gives a powerful medium to express the quality of data relationships between the DS, the DTM and the DA. We will dwell more on various examples for these terms in later posts.

Data is always handled in packets called observations. This observation is not the observation that is defined for an experiment. Observation is a taggable block of data. Observations differ from one another in their quality. Observations are generally substantiated by data. The amount of data represented by an observation is its relative richness. Richness of an observation is defined on a scale called the Linear Scale of Information or LSI. Data is one end of the LSI scale, while knowledge is the other extreme. Information is lying in between. Data are the small individual pieces of information, that border on indivisibility. Knowledge is completeness of knowledge. An entity which has a 100% of Data Completeness (DC) is perfectly knowledgable, and can infact replace the DS itself. An entity having an RDC (Relative Data Completeness) of 100% implies that for a particulat DTM and a DA, the entity appears to be the DS itself.

We will stop this round of definitions here. Check back for more data and information on these terms soon.

tada for now

~!nrk

September 29, 2002

Wassup!!

I have this door that leads into the small balcony outside my room. The door is a brown wooden one, with a cast iron latch and a aluminium handle to pull it shut. It has a door stopped which is a wooden wedge hinged to the door jamb. When the door is open, this is swung to fit into the gap between the door and the jamb. Now what often happens is that sometimes the door stopper is in place and I have a class to go to. So i hold the aluminium handle and yank the door, when it fails to budge giving out a small crunch as the screws in the door hingers are strained out of their sockets. I mutter "oh shit!", and un-stop the door and try to close it. And the act of trying to forcibly shut the door misaligns it and it wont fit into the frame without a lot of pulling and grunting.

And I am sitting here writing about it.

Well, just outside the door is the balcony it leads to, (wow!!). It is about four feet deep. And sitting here, I can see the wall in great detail. The bottom of the wall has the floor skirting to prevent it from gettnig muddy. And this skirting is not not only muddy, but also wet and slimey from all the rain water that fills up the balcony. The floor is a similar color. But the wall is white. Guess that is why the skirting was provided in the first place.

The top of what wall is relatively clean. But the sides bear impressions of the dirt that flowed down the sides every rainy season, and the algae that grew on it after the rains. The most important thing about my balcony is that there is a tubelight right next to it. And I can sit outside at night and read books by the light of this light. And what is even more remarkable is that, this does not hurt my eyes when i am sleeping. And finally mosquitoes are miraculously not attracted to the light, even in the rainy season.

Outside my balcony is the outside. Some trees, some bushes, some undergrowth. Cool wind always finds my room in its path.

hmm.. just smell that.

~!nrk

September 24, 2002

Wish I was a Camera sometime

This is a line from a song by Bon Jovi. But I dont wish to capture just her beauty alone, I want to capture ALL beauty. And I just dont want to be any camera. I'd rather prefer if I was a Nikon Cam, with an assortment of lenses, and a stand at that same time. Otherwise, being a camera is just not worth it.

And, of course, I also wish I and my camera were invisible. But of course that would lead to problems with the photonics of the entire process of photography. Light would be free to go through my cam, and a shutter would not really help. But then, I really want to be invisible, and hope my reel becomes opaque just for the exposure time to catch the light, and it goes invisible again.

*Grin*. Okay, the reason I want to be invisible, is that I want to capture moments, as they happen. I dont want people to freeze up because I am there. I dont want birds to fly off. I dont want animals to give me glances and slink away.

That probably is the reason that I rather stick to photographing, dead things and other things that cannot run away from me. But I really want to be invisible.

Did you ever sit next to that road. And looked at the myraid colors and images flash past you. The sights and the sounds. The smells and the colors. The people in their hues and colors, going about their business. Businesses, varied, moving, and incredibly fascinating. And you wish, you were a camera sometimes.

Someone looked at some of the snaps I had shared, and had written to me expressing his opinion that I was a nature lover. Hmm, maybe, maybe not. I think not. I am not a nature lover or anything. I am a photolover. I am just photophyllic. Just dont care a damn, what those photons bounce off, as long as they differ in energy in patters that i like.

Art and science.. Or is that art and crap. you tell me.

Why is it that the cheap food is always the best tasting. If it has too much of oil, cholestrol, and is probably cooked in unhygienic surroundings. And it just tastes yummy!

~!nrk

September 16, 2002

long time no C

Listen to a group called "Jars of Clay". If you are one of those that loves ROCK. But dont mind the occasional strings. This is the group that will freak you out. Real kewl music, somewhat yucky but appropriate vocals, and the best of it all, acoustic riffs only. Sometimes a little other strings thrown in. Really good mixture.

What kind of a user are you? What do you use in those innumerable online forms that want you to describe your level of computer usage? Where do you fare on the four point scale - Beginner, Advanced, Expert, Guru. Actually how do you define where you stand? And how do you do that with respect to somethin as abstract as "computer usage"?

You know what I feel. When it comes to computers I think we are living in a dream world. I somehow have the feeling that I will just wake up, and all things that dont make sense to me suddenly wont exist anymore. Here is a sample of what baffles me. "What dont we have an introductory course to computers".

Wait. I know most of you would be really ready to click that small button on the right top corner of your browsers. Hang on for a sec. Think about it, there are no really introductory courses to computers. There are a lot of people out there, people who offer course, people who understand computers, who make the mistake of totally screwing up an introductory course. Who make the mistake of giving content that has little or no meaning to end users. Who dont respect the difference between an end user, and a budding programmer, or an entry level system analyst, or a rooky business administrator.

Most (okay, all the course that I have been exposed to, the most is only a disclaimer) of the courses I have seen suffer from one of the two problems.

  • The course has the wrong content for a focussed audience
  • The course, introduces the end user to the computer, not the computer to the end user

Take a course that is typically floated in academic institutions, CS101 Introduction to Computing. More often than not it will have some bit of electronics, some stuff about decimal and binary systems, then it goes on to programming logic and problem solving and generally end with a project in C. WHY??? The next course would be somewhere in the second year CS204 Fundamentals of OOPS. Again, WHY??? What is this course seeking to achieve. Just tell me how many people are actually enlightened by such a course. I personally dont think anyone would be. If OOP really tiltillated you, you would have read Bjarne Stroustrup anyway. So what is this course doing for you. Of course pedagogy is abysmal. Mostly you have professors who learnt OOPS when it was still an embryo, teaching you that course, who in a nutshell, suck.

Cut. Go to a beginner course in a professional Computer Academy. The course reads like: C/C++. Introduction to RDBMS, Internet technology, JAVA. Hey, hold on. The guy does not know what a bloody computer is for god's sake. What the hell will he use a database for?

Cut. Go to a Introductory seminar in a Corporate Place. C/C++, Word, Excel Functions, Macros... WHY? Hell, darling, your user does not know one error message from another. All errors are the same to him. Word is fine, but he is afraid of the computer dammit.

Cut. An introductory course in a Business Management Institute. Internet, eCommerce, SAP and other tools, Networking, XML, Web Protocols. Gurgle, gurgle aaah. Hey do you know what a nincompoop he is going to prove himself to be. The information you give him will be all that he is ever going to know regarding these topics. And to his dying day, he will assume that he knows computers. Do you have any idea about how much damage you are doing?

Will some course teach someone, who does not yet love computers, to love it. Will some course teach a person that a computer is an extremely logical unit, and that all you need to know is a few principles and everything will make sense to you.Will any one teach users what to expect from a machine and what not to. Will someone tell users the incredible beauty of computing, the power of C, the modular C++, the vastness of the Internet. Will someone break open a computer and show people, that inside it all, you just have some dumb wires. Will someone help the beginner, not feel threatened by the machine. Will someone help the beginner, not feel threatened by anyone who is not an beginner?

I sure do hope so. Will put out a 10 important things in a Introductory course soon...

~!nrk

September 14, 2002

Context Sandbox

This came to me when I saw some students carrying their CPUs to the presentation for a course. There is this course we have. Dealing with databases. And for that course the students have to do a project - a program. The platform could be anything, as long as it used databases for functioning - ASP, VB, VC++ whatever. And at the end of the term, the students taking that course have to make a presentation.

For the presentation, the students had to carry their CPUs to the professor. Why? Well basically, the architecture for the project required the students to connect to a remote database. And this was generally a painful process, considering that we are not doing Computer Science here, and most of the times, a final connection is establised through a lot of trial and error. By the time a connection is established and a connection string is finalized, a number of changes would have been done to the system that the student is working on, and the student would not be in a position to replicate the same on another machine.

Thus, this database project used to fail regularly, if the student just carried around the program as code, or as the executable (remember the DAOs and ADOs required were part of the OS) or in any other format. This almost forced the program to run only on the machine it has been written to run in. Thus we saw people carrying CPUs to and fro the prof's room for the presentation. The idea was that the all that needed to be added was power, and the program would run.

What do we have as part of a computer system. An application and data. Right? Wrong. There is also a context. The context is the executing environment of the application. Now in modern computing, this context is defined by the OS to an extent. And the context is realised by .dlls, APIs etc. The idea being that those entities not inherent to a particular application should be outsourced and be maintained by another party, or the OS. But look carefully, there are a lot of cases when third party tools are installed only for a particular program.

Lets look at some examples from the Windows world. Plugins into programs are one such set. Say Photoshop plugins, or Internet Explorer plugins, or Acrobat Reader plugins. For most of the scenarios, the application (Acrobat) and the data (.pdf file) alone would constitute the complete context. But for say some other scenarios, the plugin would also be a part of the context. Without it, having both the application and the data would be effectively useless.

Lets look at another example. Codecs. Say you have an AVI file. An AVI file normally can encode its video and audio streams in different formats and the application requires codecs to understand the two streams. Now what good is a great movie (data) on your machine (media player) without the Codec.

The above examples illustrate the need for an execution context in addition to the application and the data. Now lets look at what a context sandbox is.

A context sandbox is that minimum amount of information which will allow an action to be performed on a secondary machine, when the action is currently being performed as such on a primary machine.

There are some qualifications to be stated here:

  1. It is assumed that the primary and secondary machines are fundamentally capable of performing the action. In other words no definable context sandbox can exist for your washine machine to play your favourite movie.
  2. Information will be assumed to mean only that relating to software. Software will also be loosely defined as a sum of data and instructions. This means that information such as "Go get a life, buy another mp3 player" is not a context sandbox for a primary machine which is an mp3 player.
  3. Quality of performance is not an issue we will be dealing with here. Fundamental capability does not promise quality of performance.
  4. A machine is defined as the sum of all units that allow performance of a particular task. This includes hardware, software and any other environmental issues including power, temparature etc.
  5. Performance "as such" implies without change to the machine. Of course the machine being as described above.

So that is the idea. We will look more into ramifications of it in future posts.

Watched Memento today. Really kewl movie. This is the second time. Nothing new was learnt, but spent some time on the nuances of the amount of overlap the screenplay writer allowed between the scenes. Really well thought out.

~!nrk

September 08, 2002

Enlightenment

\En*light"en*ment\, n. Act of enlightening, or the state of being enlightened or instructed.

Enlightenment is a completely themeable, highly configurable Window Manager for the X Window System, traditionally used in Unix environments. - That is from the homepage dedicated to the Window Manager for X.

But we are talking about the former - The state of being instructed. I like to think of learning as a passage from ignorance to enlightment. That is the only way learning should occur. Let me define 'enlightment'. When you learn something new, there is a time, when you dont know anything about it. And as you learn it you go into enlightenment. You know you are enlightened, when the topic is no longer strange to you. You know the basics of the topic. You know what rules are involved, and you really 'understand' those rules. The topic is no longer a representation for a cause-effect. You no longer understand the topic in a particular context, but understand the idea beyond the concept. That is enlightenment.

Let me explain. There are a lot of ways of learning

  1. Just learn that A gives rise to B
  2. Learn that class A gives rise to class B
  3. Learn all cases A which can give rise to corresponding cases of B
  4. Learn the reason why A gave rise to B
  5. Learn what happened
  6. Learn why something happened

The case (f) my friends is enlightenment. That is when you dont need to learn anything. The memory requirements are minimal. You learn a basic law of the universe. You have understood something that goes far beyond where you saw it first.
"Into this state, my teachers, let my brain awake..."

That is the problem with our learning system. We learn upto c, and then someone comes along and gives us smatterings of d and f in utterly in correlated chunks. Let that change, things will not be so tough after all.

Wishful thinking? mebbe, mebbe not.

Nothing goes according to plan, if it did, why would it still be called just a plan. It would be reality.

~!nrk

September 06, 2002

Points of View

Did you notice, that whenever you differed with someone, things never really go the way you imagined they would. You would have gone through the entire argument, and discussed it over and over again in your head. And it would have seemed so obvious then. The first word out of your mouth and you are on your own.

And moreover when you are giving a point of view, observe your audience carefully. The main question they will be airing is not - what? But why? Not, "what" is the opinion and what are its merits and demerits. Rather the focus will be on why you are taking that point of view. Sad, but true. So the next time you listen to a differing point of view in an argument, spend your time thinking about the what and try to let the why for a later date. Then look how much you will benefit and how many potential arguments will immediately peter out.

Gotta do some submissions in the next few days. Oh how I hate this!

~!nrk

September 04, 2002

No post yesterday

Not because I was busy or anything. In fact I did write a good post. And then I hit the post button, which immediately resulted in a 500 server error. Phut... The entire post - lost in electronic space. Funny right? We are building networks, to keep things under greater control, and make them work for us. And what is happening? Things get more mysterious and inexplicable. For example, where did my post go. Okay you will trace it to some web server. Then to some RAM space, which subsequently got de-allocated. So? Where did my post go?

Today, I made that heavenly drink again. Soft. Take some peppery mixture, and jet some aerated drink into it. It is heavenly, especially if the receptacle is an earthen pot.

We went to this place. It is called poilon. This is a dead giveaway about me for some 5000 people in this country. The rest of humanity wont know about it. Well, it is this place someway further down on the highway next to my Institute. It is a small, unkempt place. Basically an eating outlet - cheap and affordable. And the food there is incredible. You go there, and sit cross-legged on these wooden platform things. Then you order the stuff you want. The stove is almost next to you, and as the cook prepares your order, you can writhe in the sweet agony of the delicious auroma of your order. And when you are sufficiently famished, on the verge of mental breakdown, the food arrives. Piping hot and delicious.

You just cannot help stuffing yourself. Even as the tears pour down your cheeks due to the hot food. Then we made this heavenly drink. Oh god, it is almost as if you died and were standing in front of the pearly gates.

I just hope this post is posted and does not result in a 500 or a 404 and quietly comes as a 200. Amen

~!nrk

September 03, 2002

Sphere of eConsciousness

I had defined a term in my post on Tuesday, August 20, 2002. The term was Sphere of Perception. I had said that it is the sphere which a person identifies and understands. It defines the region from which inputs are used by people for learning.

There is a related term, I want to talk about. eConsciousness. Offline, your entire perception is defined by your senses. Your sight, hearing, feel in addition to smell and taste. So what are your online senses? What part of the online life are you attuned to? What is your source of information from the online world? To round it off, what part of your online presence are you attuned to? What is your eConsciousness?

We shall define eConsciousness loosely as that part of the online life you are attuned to. This basically consists of two parts. The first part is the part of the online life you actually know and identify. What exists on the World Wide Web. The answer to that question is the first part of eConsciousness. The second part pertains to that part of the online life, which you truly understand. What is the part of the life online you truly know. What part are you comfortable with. What part of the online life you know makes sense to you, and is not a source of fraud waiting to happen.

Why did I get this idea? Well, it goes like this. I got this message from SmileyGram for an E-card. This was basically from a friend of mine, who apparently had given my email address. I had to go and check out what was happenning there. So I checked the URL and pointed my browser to it. It took me to a page which needed 5 names and email addresses to show me the page. And nothing was optional. Of course i filled it with ****@****.com to get to the page.

I then mailed my friend asking her not to put my email in such forms again. I have been long enough on the web to have my name in a decent number of email databases. I really dont want another one getting hold of mine. The reply was along the lines that this was a 'good site' and that it 'just' needed 5 friend's names and the card is 'worth it'. My friend is showing remarkable eConsciousness of the first kind, not much of the second variety.

This I think is the case with a majority of the users. These are the users who click on the funlove messages. These are the people that download and run cute screensavers with trojans and backdoors. These are not people who are exactly alien to the online world. In fact they know of more free email sites, more free ecards sites than the first 3 pages of google. But they dont really understand the net. If we are to make the net a more secure place, it is this set of people we have to target. It is this set that must be told that not everything on the net is what it seems. Educate them, and we just might become safe in spite of all that Microsoft has planned for us.

One day I am going to develop an eConsciousness quotient.
Should help. Dont you think. tell me if you think so, or if you dont. [of course after demungle the email id]
Hmm, the winter is coming. Things are becoming cooler, and I have started skipping the baths. :)

~!nrk

September 01, 2002

Slashdot: News for nerds, stuff that matters

I remember. When I was a kid, there was this great desire in me to learn. I was one of those kids whose hands itched whenever they saw screws, bolts, clips and any other mechanism that allowed you to take a peek. Toys were amusing. They did their part of entertainment, but then they also provided great mechanisms to open and play with. I loved simple toys, not because I like simple things, but because they were ingenious and used simple hacks to come up with brilliant mechanisms.

Then I grew up, and this craze to know stuff got translated into reading technical stuff. Reading about obscure things became a passion, a fashion. Things mundane were out, exotic was in. Things that were worth reading were either the too big or the too small. Deep Space or the string theory. Anything else was mere time-pass. And anything remotely emotional / human was - bah.

Then I grew up a bit more. And I started reading Slashdot. This was a take on the words 'slash' and 'dot' used as part of any standard URL that is pronounced. Today I will introduce you to slashdot and will introduce you to some of the people who reside on this online space. And I will also talk about something slashdot is proliferating, in the sphere of self moderated expression.

Slashdot (henceforth known as /.) is a news link posting site. This site has a huge fan following, which it has built over the years. Now these users of this site submit stories, as and when they happen all over the world. There are a set of authors of the site, who go through all the submissions and choose the ones more suited to be published on the site. Typically something between 10 and 20 stories get posted in a day. The idea of the site is not to be an exhaustive collection of links, or to be a detailed discussion on various topics. The site couldn't care less about such objective. The site is driven by a need to make a good omlette of news links each day, which makes sense and generates interest in all sections of its diverse users.

So how does this work. Imagine. There are millions of eyeballs, who are reading a similar number of sites and stories all the time. Anything that happens is immediately sent as a story to /. And stories are accepted within hours. Thus each day, there are a host of stories, related to various categories of interest to the nerds, at one place. The efficacy of the system is such that, Slashdot starts becoming a starting place for people to check up on important happennings, rather than keep track of hundreds of news services for anything remotely interesting or spectacular or out of the ordinary.

The aim of posting such news links on the site is not just to provide work as a clearing house for links. Slashdot provides for discussions amongst the members on the various stories that are posted. Although this is commonplace now, slashdot was one of the pioneers of this method of discussion boards. And by-far it remains one of the most powerful mechanisms of self-regulated online discussions. We will talk about the method of moderation soon.

The moderation of Slashdot is a two step affair, carried out entirely by the user community. The first level of moderation is the moderation, done by the moderators. The second round of moderators is the meta-moderation, done by the community to the moderation of moderators. Now the best part of this two step moderation is that none of these moderators and meta-moderators are not fixed. They are dynamically selected and allocated tasks automatically. This happens like this.

Moderators are selected randomly from the entire set of serious users (seriousness is tracked and kept record of). Each such selected user is given 5 points which he can use to moderate user comments. A comment can be moderated positively or negatively. Positive moderations are more visible to other users (users can view messages according to the moderations) Thus better and more important messages are seen by a greater number of people.

These moderators are automatically checked by the meta-moderators. Every metamoderators is given 10 moderations each day and asked to rate it as fair and unfair. This not only corrects any errors, but also reflects on the fairness of the moderators and will decide when they will be given moderator status next time.

Hence the entire setup is a great experiment on the self moderation capability of online communities. So far, so good, (so what).

I will talk about the kind of people on slashdot, in another post.
~!nrk

August 30, 2002

Absolutely Nothing!

Anarchy - the next form of government. Anarchy Rocks!!!

Welcome back. Oh well, I just wanted to welcome myself. Reborn. Well basically I had these exam things. They lasted 5 horrible days. Had 8 of them coming at me. Of various hues and sizes. Some qualitative, others quantitative. Some were a strain on the brain, some on the memory, some on the heart and others left a deep scar on my psyche. And totally change the way I thought about nothing.

Have you ever thought about nothing. No, I mean it. Did you ever think about nothing. No, not vacuum. Not that. Just about nothing. No, not even void. Just nothing.

For when we talk about vacuum, we talk about the absence of matter (as we know it) in space (as we know it) but surely inhabited by a whole lot of other stuff. For example, there is a hell lot of light in vacuum. There is a hell lot of other energy, or matter, or non-matter in vacuum. I am talking about something even more bare as compared to that. I am talking about nothing. Absolute nothingness. Where there is no time, for there is nothing to identify time. There is no matter, no energy, for either of these would immeadiately make it the swarming space we have here. And there is nothingness pervading everything. And that is so thick that it is almost as if there is nothing there at all.

Yeah, I know. You are thinking that all I am talking about it just a play of words to impress you. What if I tell you how to get there? What if I give you a series of steps which if executed will get you there? Then you will believe me right?

Let me try. Do you know where the true nothing is? Inside you. Absolute nothing is your consciousness. Absolute nothing is your intelligence. Absolute nothing is your sense of "I" or "ID" or "IS". That my friend is the most absolute of nothings which you will ever get to. Did you ever bother thinking about consciousness. There have been all forms of inferences to it - as a place. As a plane in space. As another dimension. Others have dismissed it a nothing other than just a bunch of neurons. I dont know. I believe that, there is something that distinguishes us from non-intelligence. I believe that we are not just the sum of several atoms. It is too easy. If we were, that would mean that we are symbols of random sparks that happened sometime ago.

Dont get me wrong. I dont believe that we were either from the 7days of work or from the golden lotus from the lord. Far from that, I accept that we were from random sparks of lightning in amino acids. But I believe that something happened then. We were introduced to nothingness. An element of basic consciousness was transferred. There appeared a means of trapping nothingness in the fabric of matter. And that became life.

So that my friends is a theory that I came up with, to just pass some time. Listening to "Symptom of the Universe" by Ozzy. Sexy strings.

Did I tell you, my speakers rock! They are oh so incredible incredible.

The next song is "Am I going insane", how appropriate.

~!nrk

Security?

"Typically with these types of issues it will be six to nine months until we see a massive attempt to start exploiting it," Cooper said, adding that a preemptive patch was critical.

This is from an article, that discusses yet another *sigh* security disclosure by MicroSoft. It is incredible, what this guys cannot do. I mean they teach you this at school. "How-to-code-sensibly-101". And these guys come up with pathetic code, time after time. They are simply amazing. I never knew they had so much of code which could give rise to so many critical bugs.

But that is more irrevelant. What i felt more about was the above statement by Russ Cooper, head of security at TruSecure Corp. What a hell load of crap. How long does it take for a CR4c|<3r to take a vulnerability and mount an attack you said? 6-9 months. WOW. get real. I'd say something like 6-9 hours is more like it. Does the guy know anything about the current state of security? Mebbe he ought to read of a project called the honeynet. Ask them. The script kiddies take that long to get easy to use GUI tools to launch attacks. Not crackers. Atleast not the talented ones.

The only thing we can bank on is that no one does serious work on Office anyway, so it does not matter what crackers do. Yah I was just joking. There is no solace. Those people at Redmond keep churning bad code. These guys at security agencies keep tracking them. Those people keep playing down the seriousness. And cracking continues to be done by kids with ready to use tools. It is sad. Wonder what happened to M$'s trust initiative. Remember sometime back, Bill Gates asked all his programmers to stop coding and sit around fixing bugs. Wow, I mean look at the nerve of the guy. He produces sloppy code, then he is under pressure and asks his own programmers to do what they were supposed to do better, and gets mileage out of it, and establishes M$ as a security focused company because of his initiatives. Simply, pathetic.

Have my end terms starting from next week. Sad. I have eight subjects and five days. Lets see how it goes.

50 10n6 & 7|-|4nk5 f0R h4x0R-5p34|<
~!nrk

August 25, 2002

Incredewl = Incredibly kewl

Check out this link at slate.com. And Incredibly it talks about the topic I was talking about in my last post. About how the RIAA is responsible for its own state of affairs.

Just some perspectives first. The MPAAs and the RIAAs of this world are leaders in crying wolf, at each and every change that ever happens. Right from the disbelief filled furore over motion pictures ("Who in his right mind will want to watch a motion picture?") to the RIAA screaming blue murder at audio cassettes and the problem of "home taping" in 1980. The tight monopolistic short-sightedness of these associations is their undoing. Do read the article, it does give a good perspective.

Lets believe we are in front of the Oracle (the geek variety with the predictive powers and not the RDBMS variety). Lets pretend to peep into the future of music and the RIAA. Lets also assume that humans are inherently reasonable intelligent.

The cost of making music is falling. This means that more and more artists would be able to make their kind of music. This will not only proliferate the number of musicians, but will also multiply and mix the various genres and styles. Music will just be music and everyone will have access to an unprecedented variety of it. How would someone control it. Lets see...

Placing controls in the music itself. Ya, but if you are intelligent, so am I. What you can make I can break. Check this article which almost seems to say the same thing. Considering an industry with a great many firms, a great many independants, who will be able to enforce such a format? It is not about the power of the control placed. Too restrictive ones will cost you customers, too loose and it is not a constraint any longer. It is like Icarus flying between the ocean and the sun, and this Icarus is bound to fail. Forget everything, what will you do to music that will prevent a dictaphone from recording the sound that emanates from the speaker?

Okay so you will place controls in the playback system. Huh? Get real. And the same problems will plague the hardware too. You either lose customers or you will lose the entire point of the exercise.

Maybe you will try to control the swapping of music. Did you know the RIAA and the MPAA got permission to hack into networks which allow P2P sharing of services. Look what happenned. ISPs refused to allow the MPAA and the RIAA to attack their customers. Simple. Why would the rest of the world change its priorities just so that the RIAA can make some money? They will not. As long as RIAA is not the God of File Swapping, swapping will go on. For the masses want it. And Capitalism is in the want of the masses.

Why does it seem so bleak and unfair to the RIAA. Because the RIAA has not moved on. The RIAA is stuck in the past and refuses to budge and inch. The government will entertain it as long as it is strong. Once the artists realize that the RIAA is an intermediary, a pain in the ass, a source of inefficiencies and a drain on resources, the RIAA will cease to exist. Atleast the RIAA that exists today.

What will happen then. Lets take another peek onto the Crystal Ball. By the time artists would have eliminated the intermediary, one additional change would have occured. Money as we know it would also have completed its transition to the online world. Distribution and Payment would be online.

Why will people pay. Because people are not thieves by birth. Because if you music is good, you will have fans who care about you. And to live you will not need too many fans (remember the RIAA mammoth is no longer there). And as an artist you will have a global audience and a small fan following. Your music will be exchanged freely. The charts will be the number of times your song is exchanged. The more a song is exchanged the more the excitement it will generate, and more people will want to possess. And a new form of ownership will start. "Original Copies" will become a symbol - of fan-following, of loyalty, of integrity. Swapping networks grade users on their loyalty points, and this will automatically become an incentive. The consumer will spend but will get a lot more, and he will spend even more. Public performances will become a craze, another show of loyalty. And if you are a good artist, you will get money. Independent of which side of the bed your music house or the RIAA woke up today. Independent of which genre is being played by MTV. Independent of whether you have great resources to make songs or not.

What else might happen? Try this. Abstract art will meet with music. CGI and music will become a craze. Videos with music will drive the popularity. Music will come with additional components, like beat information for automatic playback at discos, visualization information, which will automatically be loaded by you winamp and a lot more. This complete entertainment units will replace the mp3 of today.

Of course there will be a time when everyone will see this happening and tom, dick, harry and their friend sally will also want to make music. The swappers will kill them. There will be a great rout, of icons and the newcomers and only the best will survive. And only the best will survive.

You think this will not work? Do you like music? When was the last time you went to a concert? Why did you pay for the ticket, and not just stay outside, salivating, at the gate, listening to music?

Think about it. This is no big deal. This is just a correction being made to the error committed by 2nd wave capitalism - the commoditization of music.

Practicing miniature photography now. My friend got a digi-cam. And that is setting right a great imbalance committed by this world - of not including a camera when I was sent down from the heavens.

gotta go get shot

~!nrk

August 23, 2002

Milestone

Today we unite in celebration of the fact that my first two blogs have rolled off the "5-blog" limit in the editor. This means that we have really taken off.

The ANN project report, I was talking about yesterday, is complete. See, I am being precise here. The project report is complete. Sadly not the project. Atleast not the part that we had promised mid-way through the evaluation. But it is done and now there are a lot more things on the mind that it is not possible to waste further thought on it.

I wanted to talk about an article I had read over at salon.com, led by slashdot. But I will not. However I want to talk about something that I have been thinking about for sometime now. It is basically because i eyed this article. Basically the article talks about a great number of developments on the CopyRight front. If you are any person who keeps in touch with the happennings on the net, you would have surely heard of the peer-to-peer programs. These programs, (remember the estwhile napster and the latest kazaa, bearshare, limewire and the host of other Gnutella clients?) allow people to share music, programs and other software. The MPAA and the RIAA have been up in arms, entreating the law-makers to do something to protect the "poor artists" from being ripped off their hard earned money.

This discussion will not focus on what the MPAA and the RIAA themselves are a sad representation of. Nor will we talk about the nature of the money in this business, or who actually makes the money, how profits have been increasing regularly, or how most of their claims are hypocritical in their own right.

Instead lets look if the entire concept of CopyRight actually makes sense, in this new world. CopyRights came into being in order to protect the interests of the people, who put in substantial investments to come up with something new. The idea was that the investment that the entity put in, so as to produce the new product/service, has a chance at being redeemed. Hence giving a initial start to the entity, as a monopoly offering the particular service, would allow it to do the same. The two aspects of the idea were that a) there was a quasi-monopoly created and b) the corresponding entity would have time to recover the costs it put in.

What is the difference today? Well, both concepts of monopoly, time and costs are being revised and rewritten. Digitization has ensured that the costs of production and reproduction, have hit the floor. It is possible to create copies of the same original quickly and painlessly. Similarly, it is possible to create new originals, with much greater ease, thanks to digitization. Hence what was seen as a major cost is no longer so great a quantity. The concept of time itself has also been changed. With industries rising in a matter of years, allowing monopolies itself is archaic.

Lets look at this from the point of view of a recording studio. In the past, a recording studio was a big deal. Yeah it is so today too. But computers have made it possible for a small desktop to do a great part of what required incredible hunks of sophisticated machinery. Those were the days when cassettes and CDs had to be mass produced. Thus making a song was not just and idea and a guitar. It involved a lot more people, capital and time. Thus it was reasonable to assume that there was a need to somehow protect the poor guy strumming the guitar, till he and his music studio made some money.

Now things are different. No longer is your setup cost the same. Nor is the cost of distribution so high. You do not always required CD stamping machines or cassettes production units. Also it does not really take years for a song to be really well known all around the world. What then is the CopyRight act protecting here? How exactly is originality defined? Is it just the ability to compile a song? What does a mammoth organization like the RIAA need that they are preventing easy access of songs for the fans? What is the justification for maintaining the MPAAs and the RIAAs of this world, when music no longer is what it used to be? Instead of trying to use the "second wave" tactics to prevent change, should the change itself not be studied? Instead of trying to change the rules of the game, should we not seek to change the game itself?

I think it is time, we stopped using the dated tools and structures of the older era to control the change of the new era. Music is not what is was. It is time we accepted the change and then advocated checks, not vice versa.

Look ahead and you are a dreamer,
look back and you are a laggard,
but if thou thinks you can get away,
by not looking, beware you are a hazard

I know it is sad. About what I could come up at this time of the morning. Methinks me needs to sleep.

Oh, and Jack says hi

~!nrk

August 21, 2002

I am Jack's Brilliance.

What is in a mind? What is it that differentiates one mind from the other. I have Artificial Neural Networks as a course this term. And they tell me it is all in the weights.

Let me elaborate. Artificial Neural Networks work like this. Inside your head are tiny little orange balls called neurons. There are a number of these things in your head, millions of them. And they are connected to each other to form a network. These connections help in "learning". What basically happens is that every new situation is an input to the network. And with each new input, the neurons "learn" the input and reconfigure themselves. This happens over time, and hence people grow wiser as they gain experience.

So, essentially, it all boils down to two things

  • the way learning happens with each new input
  • how much of these inputs are provided

Now my arguments goes like this. It is tempting to assume that the human learning differs from each other in the learning function used. But this may not be the truth because, if there were different learning rates and learning methods, and some were better than the other, Mr. Darwin and his theory would have ensured that the best remain while the others would die. In fact this would also mean that the child would always be more "brilliant" than the father and so on. But clearly this is not the case.

Hence the case for the other idea. That what actually differs from person to person is the inputs given. "Hold on...", you will be saying, "moron, all people live in the same world, how can each persons input be different from the others". My answer is simple. People do not live in the same world. Each person lives in his/her perception of the world. And this is what makes the difference.

Here I want to define a term - Sphere of Perception. It is that selected inputs that are filtered from the various inputs, and fed into your learning network. It in essence captures what you see the world as, and what you would like to learn from. We will understand it more as we go along. But one final clincher. Remember, how the big talk always asked you to see the truth, and gain enlightenment? Well, that proves my point. The constant struggle of man should be just for one thing. To gain enlightenment - by expanding and extending one's sphere of perception.

I have to Submit an assignment in ANN tomorrow. Doesnt seem as if I will be able to make the deadline. Lets see how it goes.

Perception IS the reality, all else is an ILLUSION.

~!nrk

August 20, 2002

The Cathedral and the Bazaar

Or CatB as it is popularly known, is a mecca of thoughts.

A collection of ideas central to tommorrow. Why tommorrow? Ever heard of the third wave? If you have not, we'll postpone detailed discussion for another day. But what it essentially means is that there were two waves of development in the human past; the first wave - when man learnt to grow food. The second wave - when the industrial revolution happenned. And in the same line, todays knowledge revolution is the third wave. And this third wave is changing the fundamentals of our society.

And for me, that is the one and only commandment. Over the days, you will be treated to several of my ideas regarding it. But for now we will stick to Cathedral and the Bazaar. Why am I talking about this? Because, I have several ideas related to this, which i want to discuss.

Cathedral and Bazaar, is a juxtaposition of two means of working, especially with reference to the software industry. The Cathedral is the organized juggarnaut for software production. It is the means employed by the Microsofts, the Oracles and others of this world. Where software is atomized into a set of small, simple tasks, doable by everyone. The Bazaar is the opposite. The unorganized wave of will, driven by motives other than those of profit, moving towards an undefined goal. It is the way the Linuxs of this world are built.

Why am I talking about it?

Well, I found a gem, that for me proves a central point of CatB. Yesterday we had a talk by some seniors who had come from McKinsey. Now these people, working consultants, were talking about the informal and helpful work-culture in McKinsey. The topic of discussion was the effectiveness of the mailing list and how helpful people of McKinsey can be. To quote from memory, "These people are very very helpful. When I was new to the topic, I posted messages, asking about everything and anything, and people responded. They answered all my doubts. And just a few days back, there was a question about which I actually knew something about. So I took that extra half an hour to post a reply. It felt great. That is that work culture here at McKinsey"

That aint no work culture, that is Maslow at work. The satisfaction of having helped. The power of knowledge in the knowledge economy.

The precise idea behind the bazaar in CatB.

The Bazaar is not an accident. Long live the bazaar.
I am Jack's wannabe bazaar

~!nrk

August 19, 2002

Change

Did not have anything else to do, at least nothing that would enthuse me right now. So am getting on with my next post.

Was chatting with a friend, who had just gone to the United States, to pursue her post-grad studies. The difference between this place and that, she felt there was not in terms of the weather, or in terms of the land, or the color of the skin of the people there. What she said psyched her out the most was that on the streets there was this solemn procession of cars. Cars and more cars, moving in orderly funeral perfection. What was wrong with the scene was that there were no people to see. None at all, no open cars, no two wheelers, no pedestrians, none at all.

"Man boxed by metal", I'd said.

I am not a Luddite. Far from it, I am a programmer (by heart and mind), I revel in technology, I do system administration as a hobby. And I love it. But somehow that statement struck a raw note in me.

For what is the limit of human endurance? I dont see our genes modifying themselves, to accept this change that we see. What then is the limit of human acceptance, when man will break. When will the surroundings go beyond a certain threshold of acceptance, after which the human mind will refuse to accept of rationalize them. We talk about technological progress, and about change happening at an increasingly fast pace.

What is the limit? Who will break first? Man or Change?

Happy thoughts on this Glorious evening. The sky is overcast. and there is a gentle breeze blowing across the land, and my room lies smack in the middle of it. And there is a glorious song playing on my Cambridge SoundWorks speakers. Can life get any better?

50 10n6 & 7|-|4nk5 f0R the small and the beautiful

~!nrk

August 17, 2002

Rain

Wow, this is a first. The second time in two days. Must be a record of sorts. Lets just see how long this goes.

Why do people hate rain? Did you ever sit on the street, watching, when it is about to rain. Did you see people scurrying about. There is a faint mixture of amusement and annoyance in the way they scurry away from water. Why?

Isn't it the same water you take bath in, everyday? What is bad with getting wet. Or is it that we are concerned about our clothes? Or that mebbe our appearance would get spoilt? Agreed that not everything we carry with everyday is water-proof. Why then do people strive to cover their heads as they run to find the closest cover? Is the head not water resistant?

Okay, I know what you are thinking of right now. That we run away from rain, because it will get us ill. Hmm, well then you ought to be ill everyday, after your bath. And more importantly, who has ever taken the pains to see if there is a relationship between getting wet in the rain and falling ill right after that?

Do you know what I think? I think it has got more to do with social engineering of the mind rather than anything else. We have been fed images of people running away from rain. We have been fed "data" telling us that one falls ill after getting wet. We suffer from a global mis-consciousness. We therefore think that we ought to run from rain, and if needed help others "realize" the same. Global mis-consciousness. Figures, doesnt it. And there seem to be more of such examples. But maybe for another day.

Do you know what tastes incredible on a hot day, when you have a parched throat. Take a earthen drinking tumbler, add the juice of two lemons in it. Put in a little mixture of condiments, add some artificial flavour. Open a bottle of aereated soda, and pressure mix the entire concoction. Taste it. Brilliant.

I know.

I am Jack's Global Mis-consciousness

~!nrk

August 16, 2002

I am Jack's Laziness, and his excuses.

I like Fight Club, not for what it says, but for what it does not say.

Fight Club is like one of those strict teachers in school. They always mean good, but always end up being taken wrongly. That is Fight Club. I normally dont bother discussion films. One reason being that it is just not worth it. Most of the movies in our part of the world end up being exponents of faces, clothes, songs, dances and other acts.. never of thought. So is the case with a majority of the movies from other parts of the world. At the most they end up being cases of incredible CGI (Computer Generated Imagery). There are few movies that end up being those that change the way you think. That provide a new means of looking at life.

I could go off into a number of tangential directions here. I could talk about movies I like, for example. Or I could talk about the differences between movies in our part of the world and other parts of the world. Or mebbe I could talk about my new habit of quoting from movies and poems. Or i could talk about Fight Club.

But this is my BLOG, and I choose to talk about what films should be.

This is a problem I have with a lot of people. The way they assign abnormal properties to various items in daily life. There are units for entertainment, there are units for learning and there are more and more units. And we tend to make them water-tight. probably because we cannot handle different facets of the same unit. We cannot accept that something that is supposed to teach can be entertaining as well. And something that is meant for entertaining can teach. That is Jack's water-tight problem. And what people fear, more than cross-listing of functions is hidden functions. We just cannot accept anything that is subtle, or hidden. Especially when another meaning is apparent. Fight Club, is a sorry victim of the same. One friend told me, "it is telling you to discover your inner self. Destroy, attack and plunder and you will discover your inner self". I felt sad. I am Jack's shaking head.

What is especially sad is the fact that all through the guy just had a smile of his face. Incredible. I mean is this just going to be a big joke. Is that how we learn?

I'll come back to Fight Club in later blogs. But for now, birds are-a-chirping and the sun are-a-rising. And I think i need to go to sleep.

I am Jacks bbye,

~!nrk

August 15, 2002

Second post

Editor's Note: The name of this blog was once Quaxzarron.

You might wonder. why the name quaxzarron.

Well it is a long story. I have this fascination for letters. and the lesser used, the more i am fascinated by the letter. And in particularly i am ga-ga over Z and Q. There is something about these two letters. I mean first of all they sound so refined. It is almost like the soft wash of the sea on the shore, or the quick retort of a duck. These sounds are so natural, as in nature... Okay, alright, it is obvious that i am making it up. Oh well anyway...

I liked these letter... and oh did i forget X. Well that is another letter i love. And i am rather pissed by all these new naming schemes that use X a lot. OS-X, XP and whatnot. well, i wanted to use all these adorable letters in a screen name of mine. Those were the days when I was relatively new to the world of the Internet. So off I went for a few hours, tossing these three letters over and over in my mind, till I realised that the combination with Q X and Z in that order was the only one that would even be decently mouthable. And hey presto! I got a brand new name.
Ofcourse similarity to Quasars and Pulsars did its candidature no harm.

Since then i have been using this as a frequent name. Especially in places where they dont accept an underscore character "_"

ciao for now,

~!nrk

June 19, 2002

First Post

Fine,

This looks like a better interface to blog. And the bar on the top looks kewl too.
I mean the color is so similar to the windows system that I use, that it almost blends with the toolbar on the top. But right clicking produces the menu of the page. *Brilliance* and hence i realise that it must be a part of the page itself.

Sometimes, well mostly, i stun myself with my own brilliance.

ciao for now,

~!nrk

May 24, 2002

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