Updated: 11.07.2006; 18:23:50.
Raju Varghese's Radio Weblog

Dienstag, 11. Juli 2006

The New York Times reports that "At Colleges, Women Are Leaving Men in the Dust". I noted a similar thing here at the graduation of the Kantonsschule, Wettingen on July 1: girls outnumber boys by a pretty wide margin. Now we know why our forefathers did not let women into universities and kept them away from education: we men did not have a chance against them. At one point that was forgotten and in our naivity and sense of fairness let them in. Too late now :-)
6:23:49 PM    comment []

The dreams of 31 teams have turned to dust at the World Cup. Italy won. And yet, who can blame them for dreaming. The Swiss team, for instance, were in great spirits when they set out. A restaurant in town proudly proclaimed on a banner that we would be the champions. Though they got through the first round without getting a goal - a world record,by the way - they failed miserably in the next during the penalty period. That was a weakness that they have to work on.

UBS predicted the winner way back in April. Their Economic Research team used the same programs that they employ for their bread and butter jobs. And they were right! 1-0 for them.

6:04:43 PM    comment []

Sonntag, 29. Januar 2006

I rarely fill my car with high-octane gas but there have been occasions when I did thinking that it is beneficial to my car or my wallet. Apparently, it is a waste of money to do so unless your vehicle is expressly desinged for it.

12:35:42 PM    comment []

The IAA was signed into force by George W. Bush on the day the capture of Saddam Hussein was announced. The old magic trick was put to good use here: while everyone was watching the seemingly momentous event in Iraq, back at home a law was put into place that allowed the goverment to "obtain an individual's financial records without a court order. The law also makes it illegal for institutions to inform anyone that the government has requested those records, or that information has been shared with the authorities" (quote from item 4 of the top ten censored news items in 2005). The law also defines that financial institutions are not just banks but any entity that handles money transations! Scares the sh*t out of me; why was such a wide-ranging power granted? Incidentally, finding the official document took a while: it is there at the Permanant Select Committee on Intelligence but clicking the link on the page provided gets you an error. You need to fiddle with the link (convert back-slashes to forward slashes) to get hold of the document. No prizes for guessing which OS they are using!

12:21:42 PM    comment []

Dienstag, 25. Oktober 2005

I am quite impressed with some of the Web 2.0 applications that are emerging. Google Maps and AJAX-based mash-ups based on that have triggered a whole set. Live Plasma and Kartoo are different: they are flash-based. Live Plasma lets you view related bands and movies in a graphical manner. Type in the name of a band and it will show you other bands that are connected with the first. I still have not figured out what the lines, colors and sizes mean. But, hey, it looks clever. Kartoo is an interactive search engine. Check it out!
7:57:15 AM    comment []

When I visit India I see the big steps that are being made. Some things are changing quite rapidly. One of my pet peeves, however, has been the dilution of education. I have no issues with the dissemination of knowledge but I do think that the industry that has grown up around it has negative consequences. For the educationists it is the money; for the students a way to climb up to a well-paid job. Of course, there are excellent institutions and I am proud to say that my school and university days were spent in two of the finest. Nevertheless, at the other end of the scale there are egregious examples: so-called colleges in a crowded backroom with a teacher who has just gone through the same course a few months earlier, helping cram for the upcoming exam.

Kevin Barnes, who now lives in Bangalore, India relates the difficulties in finding good programmers.

An example of the explosion in the number of educational institutions: when I was done with school and was looking for an engineering college/university about 30 years ago, Kerala had 1. This was the REC (Regional Engineering College) in Trivandrum. Now there are about 70. No doubt, some of them are good but I cannot believe that they are all of a high standard.

20 years ago BA, BCom and BSc degree holders were relatively common; 10 years ago MA, MCom and MSc were a dime-a-dozen. Talking to some of them did not give me the impression that they were masters in their fields. Now, of course, it is BE, BTech and a curiously named title, MCA (Master of Computer Applications). Of the students that have gone through this system I have met some world-class ones, but I cannot believe that the masses being churned out are close to that category. Where is it all going to lead to?

7:33:04 AM    comment []

Dienstag, 16. August 2005

I've been bitten by a usability bug in this badly designed road sign at the border between Germany and Switzerland. The bottom half of the sign says Schweiz (Switzerland) but the arrow on the top half is so close to it that one would associate the two though there is a thin demarcation between them. Have a look and see which way you would turn to get to Schweiz. Left or right?A picture named traffic-sign.jpg 




6:35:43 PM    comment []

Samstag, 23. Juli 2005

Tim O'Reilly on wholesale surveillance.  In my opinion there is something new here: armed with such technology the police can now say "show me a person and I will show you his crime" instead of what we have been used to so far namely, "show me a crime and I will find you the culprit".

3:37:04 PM    comment []

I bought a Level One WBR-3406TX (router/firewall/wlan access point) and was sorely disappointed. The documentation sucks but I can take that. What got me angry was my inability to get WAP encryption working. For a while I settled for WEP as a better-than-nothing proposition. As that been cracked I knew that WPA or WPA2 was the way to go. Despite several hours of time I could not get it to work. In desperation I turned to the web and found a web page that says that it is actually not implemented yet. I suspect that the code is there but it is not fully functional. How can a company sell a product if it does not meet the specs. That was it! I returned the thin g to Brack where I bought it from. Incidentally, I have got great service from Brack: never a wrong order, prompt delivery within 2 working days, good web site for ordering, etc.

9:41:34 AM    comment []

Donnerstag, 21. Juli 2005

McDonalds in Letzipark, Zürich is now open 24 hours a day. Wow! What Americans have been taking for granted has now arrived in Switzerland. A small footnote on the poster says that between 4 and 5 am on Mondays through Thursdays they are closed. Ok, fine. I still consider that 24 hours. And I hear that they now offer WiFi access free of charge!

9:31:21 PM    comment []

Montag, 18. April 2005

Two useful tools from Microsoft: LogParser and PortQry.

LogParser allows the interactive disection of various logs and log-like sources with an SQL-like language. Great stuff!

PortQry is way better than telnetting to the port under inspection and decoding the output.

10:06:26 PM    comment []

I have to read this article on higher-order functions more carefully. There seems much that I can learn from it. Within the first few paragraphs I discovered what the difference is between lambda functions and the run-of-the-mill variety that we all use in any decent language: The normal functions are created and named in one step.
9:54:31 PM    comment []

As a one time amateur musician, I sorely missed the camaraderie of playing together in a band.The end of academe signaled the end of that: the band members were cast upon the real world and we all went our own ways. With the coming of modems that could transmit data at decent rates I though that jamming over the wires would soon be reality. Even now with high-speed broadband connections, it isn't there yet. The problem is not bandwidth but latency. Skype would be a favorable starting point. And some have started using it for such a purpose. The result is not awe-inspiring but at least it is a start. Maybe, tagging network packets and prioritizing them is the next step whose time has come.
9:49:29 PM    comment []

A few times my internet server was bogged down with a cpu-hogging perl process. As I did not suspect malicious activity, I just killed the process after checking the user that the process was running as. And I went on my merry way. On two occasions, however, my ISP called me and reported that their firewall could not handle the traffic and had to be restarted due to packets from my server. I could not figure out what it was until I pulled out my Sherlock Holmes magnifying glass and dedicated about 30 minutes to the problem at hand.

What I discovered made my hair stand on end: I was hacked! Not rooted, thank god. The weakness was an old version of a twiki that could be used to run any perl script by searching for a non-existing item. Of course, the search query had to be carefully constructed with lots of %XY character codes to achieve the desired effect. WIth this in place, the perpetrators could DOS IRC's they did not like and perform other nefarious deeds.

Needless to say, I have closed that twiki down.

9:29:47 PM    comment []

© Copyright 2006 Raju Varghese.
July 2006
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31          
Jan   Aug


Click here to visit the Radio UserLand website.

Subscribe to "Raju Varghese's Radio Weblog" in Radio UserLand.

Click to see the XML version of this web page.

Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.