Posts Tagged ‘computer’

The people whom the birds bring me in touch with!

November 15, 2013

I wrote to the MObirds listserv, mentioning a piece of doggerel that I’d written about birding.

(You can see it

here )

and also giving the link to the video I’d taken, of an Indian Blue Robin bathing

(the post is

here )

and I got a reply from someone called Ken Thompson.

He said:

“Greetings, Deepa

“Sorry i didn’t get a chance to me you when you were here in St Louis. I have to mention that besides my two main obsessions (genealogy & birding), i’m a fan of spicy food — and the samples of southern Indian food that i’ve had from Priyaa & Gokul (restaurants) have been delicious! It’s interesting to see some of the same vegetables that we grew on our farm in Ohio, prepared in totally different ways.
“I’ll be following your future posts with interest.
“Cheers,
“Ken Thompson
“near the confluence of the Illinois, Missouri & Mississippi rivers”

I found this email very interesting, so I replied to him:

“Wow, Ken, what an interesting email! One of the vegetables I know of, made completely differently, is Okra…I’ve yet to taste gumbo, though. What other vegetables have you noticed? Eggplant, maybe? A liking for spicy food …how did you come by that?

“Genealogy seems to be a very riveting topic, too….in India, we have not been great at documentation, so our efforts to trace our roots falter and fail after the 3rd generation preceding us. My son-in-law’s grandmother was an Eitzen, and his mother and uncle once came down to St.Louis and had great fun tracing various branches of the family tree.

“Do you have a blog or a website that I can go through?”

To which I got this reply:

“No, no blog, website, or any such. Am actually an ancient mainframe computer programmer (40+ years experience), being forced into the 21st century by my geek-boy sons. Both of whom cook up dishes too hot for me, even. Was brought up German/English, in northwest Ohio, USA. Dad’s mother still spoke German, we made our own sauerkraut (imagine, weak kimchi), ate much potatoes, cauliflower, green peas, root crops, etc. To me now, aloo gobi & mutter ANYthing are ‘comfort’ foods. The only way i’ll voluntarily eat eggplant, is baingan bharta; still not a big fan of okra, tho. Have tried many different cuisines, mainly from Europe (English, German, Bosnian, Italian, Russian) thru the Middle East (Persian, Lebanese, Afghani) to India, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan & Korea. Saint Louis is nice, in that respect. My wife agrees with all of the above except Korean, and some of the very southern Indian dishes. Years ago, i decided that life is too short for dull food, and have been trying (almost) anything since.
Genealogy can easily become an obsession. I call it my socially acceptable form of OCD. On some lines, with help from other researchers, have tracked back into the 1700s in America & Germany, and in England & Scotland for my wife. On my Thompson line, have not been able to trace back past 1850 or so, in New York state. Am currently reading thru the parish records of the Roman Catholic church where my mother’s family lived, finding many relatives that i never heard of before. It’s the most that i’ve used my Latin & German language training in DECADES! And none, or very little, of this research would have been possible without the Internet. It’s rather mind-boggling, really.
“Well, i’ve rattled on enough. Must get ready for work tomorrow.”

I was chatting with and when he heard the name, he went ballistic. “You mean to say you are in touch with KEN THOMPSON?” he exclaimed in huge capitals.

“Er, yes,why, who’s Ken Thompson?” I said.

“Read those words….an ancient mainframe computer programmer (40+ years experience)” he said. “I’m sending you a link….read it.”

So he sent me the link to the

Wiki entry about Ken Thompson.

I was totally zapped when I read it.

“An American pioneer of computer science.Thompson designed and implemented the original Unix operating system. He also invented the B programming language, the direct predecessor to the C programming language.”

Amongst other awards, he’s won the Turing Award and the National Medal of Technology. WOW.

This is the person with whom I am casually discussing birds and genealogy! My toes curled.

But the wonderful part is….the fantastic people that birds bring into my life! Ken may be a supernova….but I must say that every person I meet as a birdwatcher is highly interesting and enriches my life further.

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We work at our laptops…

July 1, 2013

Dad said he had some work to do…
Sit on the porch, and on his lap
Keep his computer and work… tap-tap-tap.

DSC01580

Madam decided to get in on the act.
She brought out her laptop, too, in fact.
“Don’t disturb me, I’ve some work!” she said
As to her screen she bent her head!

New laptop!

June 29, 2012

After my laptop and I went flying over a granite surface last January, in Chambal, my friendly neighbourhood laptop repairman, and my dear friend

Chandan

together brought it back to life, and it’s been performing creditably ever since.

However, I decided that, like in other areas of my life, I must make a new beginning, and for the past few days, has struggled to load a version of Ubuntu on it, too, to improve my usage.’

Here’s , opening up the exciting package (I waited for him to come home!)

ds opening comp  stl 250612

and setting it up…

ds and comp 2  stl 250612

Here’s on Gtalk, also looking at what is going on…

ga gtalk  stl 250612

So…here are the old one and the new one, sitting companionably together on the island in the St.Louis kitchen:

two comps funnel web   enright 280612

The new model (it’s also a Toshiba…this is going to be my third Toshiba, and each time it’s smaller and lighter….) is the Toshiba Portege R 835 P83…probably a dinosaur for all the techies and geeks, but very exciting for me!

Also, the old machine had used up all the RAM, and was using the disk memory, and hence had started working at, in DS’ memorable phrase, “Paint-dry speed”. It is a relief to see the prompt response of this new baby!

OK, since I feel very happy to have the laptop, here’s a lovely pic of roses for all of you….

roses funnel web   enright 280612

This pic is dedicated to all the Jhatgussas I know.

The Innovation Trap

March 29, 2012

Harish Bhat, who is a friend on Facebook, and posts a lot of interesting stuff, posted about

the flexible e-paper display launch .

Though I am impressed by the innovation in terms of material use and invention, I still feel that products like this fall into what I call the classic Innovation Trap.

The Innovation Trap is the phenomenon of designers being blinkered and hobbled by designs and forms that they are familiar with. In the case of the product above, it seems to be the goal to get as close in appearance as possible to laminated paper..to resemble some form of actual paper. But one wonders why that resemblance is needed at all.

The classic example of the Innovation Trap was when automobiles started being designed. Being familiar only with horse-drawn carriages, early cars looked boxy and square, exactly like the old carriages. It took a while to realize that though it was irrelevant for horse-drawn carriages, for cars, aerodynamics would improve the efficiency, and that the shape of the automobile must be very different from that of a carriage.

This problem was once again demonstrated when, in the era of tailfins and long lines, with the cars looking like ships, the VW Beetle was introduced. It was pronounced an ugly car…when it was actually very functional in design, and hence very beautiful.

In similar fashion, there is no need for outer-space-only spacecraft to have the sleek, aerodynamic, cigar-shaped look of the rockets that lift off from the Earth’s atmosphere. Since they operate in a vacuum, and there is no resistance from the atmosphere, outer-space-only craft (I am sure there is a technical name, very scientific) for such vehicles), they can look as clunky as they want to be, with antennae, and solar panels, and such, sticking out in all directions. Maybe design has to take into account the possibility of an aerial snapping when hit by a passing meteor, but in general, it does not need the shape that a craft that needs to enter the Earth’s atmosphere should have, to reduce the friction and heat of re-entry.

Another example of this is the “qwerty” keyboard, that is still widely in use. I know that many computer techies (like ) use

the Dvorak keyboard

and many mobile phones and keyboards have an “abcd” keyboard; but the majority of all keyboards still use the “qwerty”, which does have many problems. But…it’s as if we, when used to something, are often unwilling to conceive of

something different .

This applies also when someone has made a true innovation. When Sony built the Walkman, for years, we saw me-too’s flooding the market. Now the iPad and the iPhone are cool things to imitate…even when their drawbacks are quite apparent.

I suppose one may also call it “design fashion”. One particular design becomes the “norm” and other designs, even if better, fall by the wayside sometimes, and are not commercial successes. The cathedral of “That’s the way things are always done” seems to loom large on the skyline of design, and sometimes real creativity is sacrificed at its altar.

How long it took for the no. of camera exposures to be counted downwards, or the fuel guage on cars to show how many miles the fuel available was good for (varying with the speed of the car) rather than just showing how much petrol was in the tank! With the innovation, one could get the actual information one really wants…how many exposures are left, and how many miles one can drive the car for. (Most cars in India still have only the old-fashioned petrol guages.)

But in spite of the Innovation Trap, true innovation and creativity continues to happen, and that’s the great thing about the human mind….!

Wonder Full Spill Chequer…

January 3, 2012

I have a spelling checker.
It came with my pea sea.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss steaks aye can knot sea.

Eye ran this poem threw it,
Your sure reel glad two no.
Its vary polished in it’s weigh.
My checker tolled me sew.

A checker is a bless sing,
It freeze yew lodes of thyme.
It helps me right awl stiles two reed,
And aides me when I rime.

Each frays come posed up on my screen
eye trussed too bee a joule.
The checker pours o’er every word
To cheque sum spelling rule.

Bee fore a veiling checker’s Hour
spelling mite decline,
And if we’re lacks oar have a laps,
We wood bee maid too wine.

Butt now bee cause my spelling
Is checked with such grate flair,
Their are no fault’s with in my cite,
Of nun eye am a ware.

Now spelling does knot phase me,
It does knot bring a tier.
My pay purrs awl due glad den
With wrapped word’s fare as hear.

To rite with care is quite a feet
Of witch won should be proud,
And wee mussed dew the best wee can,
Sew flaw’s are knot aloud.

Sow ewe can sea why aye dew prays,
Such soft wear four pea seas,
And why eye brake in two averse
Buy righting too pleas.

— Sauce Unknown

Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

October 17, 2011

A lot of people impact the world in many ways…but some also have that elusive quality…charisma. One such, I think, was Steve Jobs.

One of the best accounts of Jobs’ life that I’ve read was in Time magazine:

click here to read it

Portrays him well, warts and all. The photo essay in the same issue is also stunning. I suppose all of you would have read it, and seen it…but still….

At almost the same time, Dennis Ritchie’s death didn’t seem to make many waves, though it must have been a loss to many geeks.

HP Unveils Non-Computer For Those Who Don’t Need A Computer

August 5, 2011

HP Unveils Non-Computer For Those Who Don’t Need A Computer

May 14, 2011 | ISSUE 47•19

non comp 050811

A customer tries not using his non-computer

PALO ALTO, CA—Hewlett-Packard announced Friday the release of the first-ever non-computer, a fully unusable device specially designed to address the demands of individuals who have absolutely no need to own a computer.
CEO Léo Apotheker told reporters the non-computer was a long-overdue innovation that would finally allow consumers with zero interest in computers to enjoy all the benefits of not having one.

“For too long, manufacturers have catered exclusively to people expressing at least minimal interest in what a computer has to offer,” Apotheker said during a press conference. “Meanwhile, there’s an untapped group of consumers out there who’ve been telling us for years, ‘Hey, no thanks. Computers aren’t really for me.’ Well, as of today, someone’s finally listening.”

“If you’ve never wanted a computer, this is the product you’ve been waiting for,” Apotheker added.

The non-computer, with its total lack of any software, keyboard, monitor, memory, or internal circuitry whatsoever, was constructed to free users from the computing functions that have historically turned off people who don’t like using computers. Expected to retail for $4.99, the non-computer, Apotheker said, is the ideal machine for anyone who can’t imagine typing, surfing the web, or sending an e-mail.

Apotheker later noted that the whole non-computer, including all non-peripherals, weighs less than a pound, and that because it doesn’t need a power source to charge the battery it doesn’t have, the device is ex≠tremely portable.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re in a coffee shop, on a plane, or camping in the middle of the woods,” Apotheker said. “The non-computer’s inability to even switch on, let alone pick up a Wi-Fi signal, means you’ll be able to not use a computer wherever you are. It’s that easy.”

“Best of all, you never have to worry about breaking it,” Apotheker continued. “There’s no data to lose or delicate parts to worry about. A non-computer works just as well smashed up into 50 pieces as it does right out of the box.”

Mike Fieler, a writer for the technology blog Gizmodo who acquired an advance prototype of the non-computer, said the device could be hugely successful, especially among those who have never been in the market to buy a computer, don’t know or care how computers work, totally avoid computers in every area of their lives, and may in fact be irritated by the very sound of the word “computer.”

“Personally, I like actual computers as opposed to things that are not computers,” Fieler said. “But if I weren’t a computer user, this is just the kind of non-performing product I’d get, no question.”

With its low price and utter absence of features, the non-computer may prove irresistible even to the most reluctant consumers, some of whom told reporters they were intrigued by the new product, but still skeptical that the non-computer could deliver on its promise not to compute.

“I guess I’m a little worried that I’ll get it home and it’ll light up or process data or do something else I don’t want,” Philadelphia resident Stephanie Palmenteri said. “All I need is a thing that will go on my desk and leave a clean rectangular spot on the wood when I move it every now and then.”

“In the commercial, they showed a man watching television while his non-computer sat untouched on the coffee table in front of him,” Aaron Mitchell, 42, said. “Pretty cool.”

The non-computer may be purchased through HP’s website, http://www.hp.com.

Incredible…

December 29, 2007

Amazing! Someone has something nice to say about a Microsoft product!

http://sriniram.livejournal.com/19621.html

I found Vista slowing down my laptop so much, I had Chandan and anushsh take it out and install XP for me…ah, well, I missed a chance to be a dictator (or, to be precise, a dictatrix.)

Some glitches still…

November 17, 2007

The new comp still has a few glitches, not ironed out yet…I can’t post to Metroblogs (have done so from my ancient dino!)…can’t play a few Yahoo games, esp bookworm which is one of my favourites…

Getting a new laptop to work takes a LOT of effort…! Also, the “skin” that I got to prevent that super-white keyboard from rapidly becoming a grey keyboard is useful, but makes it necessary to use much more pressure on the keys….

What’s the big deal with this white fascination, in computers as well as human skins in India? The dust and dirt of the Indian climate makes it such a difficult option…

Thought for the last ten minutes of the day

May 3, 2007

Careless Click On Computer Can Cause Chaos.