Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Play with Google Sets!

A tool called Google Sets featured on Google's Technology Playground - Google Labs is often overlooked and not many people know its great potentials.

Idea of Google Sets is quite simple and intuitive, it just automatically creates sets of items from a given few examples. For instance, you provide Google Sets few examples of colors like "Red", "Green" and "Blue", it will come up with more examples of colors which could later form a larger set.

If above example does not appeal to you then think again. I will give a more realistic scenario, say you are trying to find some alternatives for file archivers like winzip or pkzip. Try it with Google Sets and you will be amazed when it is suggesting additional terms for your set by considering words that might appear together in lists on Web pages etc. you may find the results you receive more useful.

You may see some irrelevant results but the idea here is not level of accuracy but the exposure to a set of suggestions that could give you some idea.

All said and Done:

Google Sets is really an amazing tool and can help you find suggestions for forming your set.

For further reading, please take a look at How Google Sets Works by Bill Slwaski

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Uplifting Trance Around The World!

A serious uplifting trance addict can not miss TATW (Trance around the world) weekly radio show by Above and Beyond. It is a 2 hour mix broadcast directly from Above and beyond's London studio every Friday 19:00-21:00 GMT

Since episode 227 (1st of August 2008), Trance Around the World has been available as a free podcast at the iTunes store. You can subscribe for free and enjoy :-) Every TATW episode is highly recommended and sweet on ears.

TATW is available on radios across the world and here in India, the radioshow is available on WorldSpace Satellite Radio's The System Channel 202 (Thursdays 22:00 GMT, encore Sundays 15:00 GMT).

I wish Above & Beyond folks come to Bangalore for a show :-)

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ruins of Alamparai Fort

The ruins of Alamparai Fort (also called Alampara) lie near Kadapakkam, a village 50 km from Mamallapuram.

It was built during Mughal era and had well structured dockyard from which zari, cloth, salt, ghee etc were exported to Europe and the middle east.

According to history, the fort was destroyed by the British in 1760 and again by 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake which resulted in a massive tsunami.(source: Wikipedia)

How to reach:

You can either drive from Pondicherry or Mahabalipuram via scenic East Cost Road. Here is the route on Google Map for your reference.

View Larger Map

A good place to hang around and you can have a quite day with a nice view of the sea. Local fishermen will give you a ride on their boat to the adjacent seashore. You may need to bargain and if you know Tamil then it will come in handy :-)

A short walk will give an easy access to the beach

A scenic view of Bay of Bengal from the Fort

Local fishing boats

Ruins of the Fort

All said and done:

Scenic views at Alamparai Fort will definitely mesmerize you. Here, the seashore is quite without crowd and the beach is pristine. This is because, very few people know about this place and sometimes an advantage for you. It is a short drive from Pondicherry and Mahabalipuram and can be easily reached via East Coast Road that connects Chennai with Cuddalore via Pondicherry. A must try.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

What If Matrix Ran on Windows XP

This is funny but no offense to anyone!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Jadoo from MTNL

Most of us spent a considerable amount of money on expensive handsets hoping that someday some service provider would offer 3G here in India! Well, that time has come at-least for folks in Delhi! For the first time in India, 3G services are available in Delhi, courtesy MTNL.

MTNL's (Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd.) 3G network is based on the UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) technology which is one of the popular 3G technology used worldwide. The 3G network infrastructure in Delhi has been built with equipments from Motorola.

Christened as "MTNL 3G Jadoo", the services from MTNL will support new era of mobile communication in India. 3G is capable of offering advanced services such as video calls, broadband wireless data, faster online video streaming and a better gaming experience due to it fast data transfer rate which can reach up to 2Mbps.

The company plans to launch the service in Mumbai in March 2009 but I wonder when Bangalore would get it.

I think the time has come to scrap my old Imate PDAL! :-)

Source Business Standard

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bangalore traffic caught live!

If you are interested in knowing the live traffic information about Bangalore, then you should checkout Bangalore Traffic Information System. This site has been there for a while now and probably the first of its kind traffic information system in India that provides comprehensive traffic and route information such as;
  • Detailed Bangalore map with real time traffic congestion indicators.
  • Live traffic Cameras (hey! I had only seen that in the movies!) that provide images of major intersections in the city.
  • Directions around the city with rough estimate of Auto Fare.
  • KSRTC bus route information.
  • SMS based information queries.
  • A Java based map application for those who have GPRS enabled mobile phones.
  • Carpool service (still incomplete)
Bangalore Traffic Information System or BTIS in short is a service from Bangalore Traffic Police in association with MapUnity (developer) and Airtel (Sponsor).

Here is an embedded BTIS live traffic map for your reference. It is not very clear how BTIS gathers information on traffic density but my guess is that they get this from analyzing more than one source of information like the Cameras, number of Mobile phones in the area, GPS devices in BTS buses etc.

Live cameras cover quite a lot of intersections and circles in the city and provide basic lowresolution images (unfortunately they are not 360 degree views) of the current traffic conditions. This is something unheard of in India before and an amazing stuff! Certain cameras are not functioning properly but still a very good effort by the BTIS folks

BTIS can provide directions from location A to location B by plotting the route on its Bangalore map. It is convenient for those who don't have GPS in the vehicles. However, I must say that the BTIS tries to calculate the direction information based on your request but mostly may not be accurate and some times it fails to provide direction information all together. It may take a while for them to tune up the algorithms but again it is a wonderfull effort in the right direction.

Here is a screen-shot of directions for Indiranagar to MG Road.

If you are on the move, you can get traffic updates via SMS as well. BTIS on Mobile lets you query BTIS traffic information just by sending SMS to 52225 (Airtel users) or 9845027222 (non Airtel users). There are codes for different locations and are well documented on their site.

Another best feature of BTIS is that its capability to provide bus route details. You pick source/destination and BTIS shows you various ways of getting around on Buses. It provides stop and transit information for different bus routes. Amazing for those who stick to buses to ease the choking traffic.

BTIS application is available for mobile users too. All you need is a java (J2ME) enabled mbile phone with GPRS and you can browse BTIS on your phone. Here is a reference video that I found on YouTube by raghulj.

Their Car Pool service is yet to start functioning and we will have to wait to see what it offers.

All said and done:

An applaudable effort by the BTIS folks and it succeeds in providing the information that peope like me are looking for. I really wish that Bangalore Traffic Department, Mapunity and Airtel find great success and provide more goodies for us.

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Bangalore Weekend - Quick drive to Shivanasamudra and Somanathpura

We had recently visited Shivanasamudra and Somanathpura on a Saturday. It was really a good visit and here is a brief write-up on how to reach, what to see etc.

How to reach Shivanasamudra:

  1. Drive on SH17 (Bangalore - Mysore highway)
  2. Reach Maddur and take a left turn to get on SH33
  3. Drive on SH33 which will lead to Malavalli, a small town
  4. Continue further and join NH209 which will eventually take you to Shivanasamudra

    Except SH17, road condition is not good and be prepared for a bumpy ride! Shivanasamudra is almost 130 kms from Bangalore.

    Here is the route on google map to get a better idea.

    View Larger Map

    Alternate route is to take Kanakpura road from Bangalore, which is NH209 but the road condition is unfortunately bad again.

    At Shivanasamudra, Kaveri River splits into two causing western and eastern branches. The western branch is known as Gaganachukki Falls and the eastern branch is known as Bharachukki Falls. Both are spectacular.

    Gaganachukki Falls:

    Gaganachukki Falls (twins) can be viewed from two different locations, one from the Shivanasamudra Watch Tower and the other from the Darga Hazrath Mardane Gaib.

    View from Watch Tower

    A view from the Darga Hazrath Mardane Gaib

    Bharachukki Falls:

    A short drive on NH209 brings us to the eastern part of the falls - Bharachukki. It is the best as one can climb down and have a closer look at this amazing falls. The roar of the falls is just refreshing and can not be described in words but experience it.

    Bharachukki Falls

    A closer look

    A view from the Teppa

    Recommended try at Shivanasamudra:

    A teppa ride to have the closest view of Bharachukki is something great. The boat-man steers the Theppa through the rapids of rising water that really gives a thrilling experience. You can literally touch the falls and you also realize the depth of the water. Boat-man told me that it could be as high as 80 feet! At the end, he gives a nice 360 degree spin for a while, which is cool.

    Waiting Teppas

    But, the sad thing is that the visitors have really littered the place with plastics, which makes us realize that after all we are here to do damage than enjoy the serene beauty of nature.

    You can enjoy the pure nature and may want to stay-put till evening :-). But, If you need to visit Somanathpura, climb up to get into your vehicle. In no time, you will be on the route to Somanathpur (Please refer to the initial route map) and soon you will realize that the journey ahead will be harder than you thought. Worn out road will be a major obstacle unless you have a serious off-roader like Hummer :-)

    Once you reach Chennakeshava Temple at Somanathpura, you will forget all the pain. The mesmerizing temple with its extremely detailed carvings will definitely touch you.

    A view of Chennakeshava Temple - The tripple shrines (Shikharas or Gopuras)

    A rear view of the Shrine

    Depiction of various types Shrines seen in Northern and Southern India

    Star shaped platform has detailed 6 layers of Friezes. Lowest of all is the procession of Elephants symbolizing the strength of the base, horsemen, a band of foliage, an imaginary beast "Makara", depictions from hindu epics and Swans. Each object in these friezes is unique and shows the expertise of the sculptors.

    Panel Carvings

    An incomplete depiction of Shrine kept as a challenge for others to try out?

    Each lathe turned pillar looks unique mainly because of the ancient primitive tools used for turning the stone blocks.

    Rear view

    Hindu Deities

    You can spend a good time exploring the detailed carvings and trying understand what they tell us. You can also get government provided guides to get more details about different carvings.

    Once you are done appreciating the temple, you can head back to Bangalore via Shrirangapattna-Mandya->Bangalore or Bannur->Malavalli->Maddur->Bangalore routes.

    What to carry?

    Extra pairs of cloths if you want to get wet at Shivanasamudra, packed food as getting a decent hotel around these places is difficult and of-course a good Camera.

    Round trip distance is approximately 350 kms. Incase you don't want to drive, you may try conducted tours by KSTDC to these locations.

    We hope you enjoy as much we did. All photos are taken on my Olympus C8080WZ camera

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Recession Blues?

Current market condition is definitely troubled and people are pondering over "recession" and its consequences.

People started speculating that the US economy would enter in to a recession in the early 2008. They were mostly right as it is mostly a reality now. The word recession looks like a buzz word now and it is also being searched frequently on Google and the trend is increasing.

Check for yourself on Google Trends report on the word "recession" :-)

Average worldwide traffic of the word "Recession" on Google has too many peaks in 2008 showing that the search frequency of the word "recession" is growing.

More interestingly the majority of the traffic seems to be from Singapore and India!

The panic started when people learned about the bankruptcy filing of Lehman Brothers and Merril Lynch getting taken over by BoA. Story continued with other Ameircan giants and made the things worse. People frantically started speculating on who could be next, recession, possible job losses etc.

Here in India, things really started to heat when rumors started spreading over ICICI Bank's bankruptcy filing (even though we don't have anything called 'filing for bankruptcy'),and people lined up at the ATMs, cash soon dried up at some ATMs with this mass panic. But, I knew ICICI bank would not fall so soon as Indian Banks have little exposure to sub-prime lending. But, by and large, situation was tense and slowly things stabilized after our finance ministers assurance that all banks here are doing god with enough cash reserve.

Recent Citibank crisis again fueled a rumor here that the Citibank India operation would get a hit and the depositors would lose money. I was a little worried this time as I mostly bank with them. Citibank Indian (outgoing) CEO Sanjay Nayar, even sent a public email to customers stating that the bank was doing really well with no cash issues.

Anyways, I'm finger crossed on how this recession would shape over the next few quarters.

Hmm...World is flat, Isn't it? Anything that happens at the other end of the world, just comes here in a day!

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Converting vegetarian?

I listened to Infected Mushroom on Last.fm early morning today. One word to say, Excellent! Without wasting much time, I browsed their collection and kinda liked them all.

I have always been an ardent follower of progressive Trance and never missed an episode of Armin's state of trance on Digitally Imported radio or Tiesto's Clublife podcast!

Infected Mushroom, a psytrance group from Israel is just awesome! Their one of the albums "Converting Vegitarians" is amazing. It just takes you in to a psychedelic world! Here I'm, at the door of psytrance! I've gotta explore more into them now.