Sunday, October 4, 2009

New laptop for me :D

I have ordered a new Dell vostro 1520. Expected delivery - 7th Oct 2009. (This up-coming wednesday)

Their customization idea is good, and I spent a lot of time to pick a configuration that would work well on linux. I also chose an n-series one, which means it has freedos, and no other preinstalled OS. I don't have to pay for any preinstalled w*dows that I am never going to touch anyway. Linux... oh! here I come to install you with open arms. ( I am also thinking about bsd. When there are good options, one must use them. It is foolish to not even look at / try the other options ever simply because one is good enough.)

My key requirement was hardware with full specs openly released so that perfect opensource (free) linux drivers could be written.
Graphics card: So I chose the Intel 4500mhd graphics card instead of an ATI or NVIDIA. This is good enough for me. Why it can run compiz, and render all those simulators like torcs and flightgear very well. I think it could render most linux 3D games quite very well. What if it cannot run the bleeding edge w**dows games - I am never going to run them or the w**dows OS even.)

Wireless lan card: The default option was a 'dell wireless' card (which I suspect uses the dreaded-linux-incompatible closed-specs (that's what I heard, I may be wrong) broadcom chips). So I chose an Intel 5100 a/g/n wireless card which was actually cheaper by a few hundred rupees.

I heard Intel releases all its specs and Intel hardware usually have fully working open source linux drivers. Including their graphics cards. So this is good news for me and helps in choosing among options.

It also has an LED backlight for the screen, good for ecology (power saving and battery runtime). It is a 15.4 inch screen. The resolution is 1280x800. I guess I can live with it. I need a tall screen for viewing code and manuals and pages. But I can manage with this resolution I think. 1280x800 is actually a widescreen (16:10 ratio) not a 'tallscreen'.
But on the other hand a widescreen may actually have the advantage that you can put your code on one half and docs on the other.


What distro of linux:
Well this is a another huge time consuming question. At first, my choice was linux from scratch (LFS). But after realizing that I also had to complete my PhD, I settled for something in between. Gentoo.
I can still compile everything from code. Not that much time needs to be spent compared to LFS.
I can still customize everything to a great depth and extent. So for now, gentoo it is. I am in the process of looking through the webpages about gentoo right now.

Why all this effort:
A personal computer is another whole new place, another dimension where I can live. So I need to get it just right to my taste. I should not cripple my freedom and creativity, which is why I love things like free(dom) software and GNU stuff.

Aquaponics, vermicompost, roof plants update

Note that now I stay at the hostel in the IISc campus. I come home on weekends.

* My aquaponic system:
My aquaponic system is ... well, the transformer of the pump controller is damaged (seems to be due to heat or something).
Now the plants in the tubs are not watered by the fish-water now.
Only the muck collected all these years and rain water (this is the monsoon season now) has kept them green. Including a rice plant which has several rice grains ! This is just one plant from one rice grain that I found in the sack of rice we eat at home. This rice grain was one of the few in the whole sack whose husk was still on it.
From one plant from one rice grain, I have got several (30 to 50?) rice grains on the plant!! What a scale of reproduction!

And the fish - I can't feed them properly as I stay in the IISc campus on weekdays. But they seem very fit (I am not a fish doctor - they just looked fit to me). I have prepared a small, new batch of fish feed (from chickpea flour, ragiflour and curd (yogurt) made into a paste, solidified on a hot dosa plate and cut into small squares. I have put this in the freezer. I shall instruct my parents to feed the fish with this for now, from the IISc campus, through phone during weekdays.

I plan to repair my homemade pump controller in the near future.

* Vermicompost
Yay the worms are doing very well. My mother is religiously collecting bio-degradable kitchen waste garbage in a bucket, and I dump this into the bucket with vermicompost and worms when I come home for the weekend. Vermicomposting is really low maintanance! Its working very well with a little commonsense knowledge from past experience and the internet's vermicomposting websites, and very little work on my side.

* Roof plants
On the roof of my house I have a small patch of soil, the size of a floor mat (common indian floor mat size). It is only a few inches thick. I am a strong believer of liquid gold used in a sensible, safe hygenic manner. I also have tried to innoculate the soil with as much biodiversity as possible. I have added to the soil, a little vermicompost diluted with a lot of water, some water from my aquaponic system, lots of cowdung from the areas around my house. (The cows/buffaloes are grass fed - this is like a village type of area in Bangalore.)

So now the roof actually has 8+ corn plants! They are now having some corn like things on the tops of the stalks, I have to wait and see what they mature into.
I dislike buying seeds from a seed 'manufacturer'. I believe plants have been there long before our industrialized seed 'manufacturing'. They can surely grow and reproduce on the own, if we only let them!
The corn seeds I used were actually ones from a half kilogram batch bought for eating purposes.

I also have on the roof, chickpea plants which have already produced chickpeas long ago. Some corriander that bolted, but I'll let the seeds from the bolted plants fall and reseed themselves! I like 'natural'. Our job is easier if we only have to assist nature, not control it. (We can control it after we have understood it, right now we have understood very little about all the bacteria and interactions in natural biodiversity and how plants exactly work.)

I also have two tomato plants that have come up on their own. (Some tomato pulp must have probably, accidentally fallen on the soil). They are producing tomatoes.

I have also planted lots of potato plants from the separted eyes of a few potatoes. They are also quite big plants now. Haven't dug up to see if there are any potatoes but I don't care. Let them grow all they want. If they dry up, the new potatoes under the soil will produce new plants. A stage will reach when I can just dig and find atleast a few potatoes anytime I want.

All this has managed to sustain itself on the monsoon rains and maybe my mother's occasional watering. I come home only on weekends, remember?

Monday, July 6, 2009

My firefox bookmarks

Here are my firefox bookmarks, slightly edited with grep and sed.
There _may_ be some useless links but there are many awesome ones too and I really want you to not miss out on them:


Connexions - Sharing Knowledge and Building Communities

mmm... (ok I couldn't think of a better subheading)

The Electronic Journal of Combinatorics
Algebraic & Geometric Topology e-Print archive
Math Texts
NUMDAM :: Search and download archives of mathematical journals
Online texts
MIT OpenCourseWare

How a transistor works, an alternate viewpoint
Al Zimmermann's Programming Contests
Programming Contest Calendar - Algorithmist

Hacking Linux Exposed

Home Automation on *nix

Linux Home Automation Project
The Open Source HCS project
Mathematical Association of America: MAA Online
Complex Analysis
A First Course in Linear Algebra (A Free Textbook)

Eric Brasseur

Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center
IBM Research | Ponder This | January 2004 Challenge

LinuxFocus Index theme - software dev
LinuxFocus Magazine, English
Single list of HOWTOs
Mark's lecture material
Fravia's web-searching lore: Main entrance: Finding Information and Knowledge on Internet

Autopilot: The UAV Project
Inertial Sensors and Systems

Linux Journal |
Linux Gazette
Computation, Memory, Nature, and Life
Stephen Wolfram: A New Kind of Science | Online - Table of Contents
Computer Collector - Geniac Document Archive
Spark, Bang, Buzz and Other Good Stuff.

Beginner Seeking Guidance ( Need to sharpen my mind ) Text - Physics Forums Library

International Lighting in Controlled Environments Workshop
the Discussion Board || Make your electricity from scratch!

Graph Theory - (english) book by a German author
An Introduction to Wavelets: Wavelet versus Fourier Transforms
Python Tutorial
Nyquist Plots

Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster
Cooking For Engineers - Kitchen Notes: Scoville Units
Daily Musings: Kollu Paruppu (horse gram) Chutney and Rasam


Bill's Art bots
Hack A Day
berkeley : Basic Semiconductor Circuits lab
Electronics Index
Circuit Cellar Discussion Board :: Index
Robotics India - Your online robotics community
hackday 6 MOSFET PWM
Open Circuits
practical, common electronic components
'Junk' Reuse - Identifying Electronic Components
Popular Electronics Magazine
Ashish's hacks
GPS & GLONASS RX - theory
semiconductor physics

mobile phone LCD hacks

LCD - mobile phone - Berty's Page
Thomas Pfeifer's Homepage - Elektronik, AVR-Projekte, Tipps und Tricks
Nokia LCD Library
Nokia LCD types

electric vehicles

Electric Bicycle Experiments Homepage of the revolution
Electric Vehicle Challenge - Swan TAFE
EVDL Library
Electric Echo Blog
Electric Echo - Home


Embedded projects from around the web
Wolfgang Wieser - All About Semiconductor Manufacturing!
Elliott Sound Products - DIY Audio Articles
The Best of Bob Pease
Where to Buy Components
John Kent's VHDL FPGA Projects
Wireless FM Transmitter
VA3AVR's electronic circuits for the hobbyist
Guido's Home-page

aquatic ecosystems

Aqua Botanic - Plants and biological filtration
Wetwebmedia's Freshwater Index (SubWeb)
Backyard Aquaponics
Fish: Search FishBase
114 Photos of Mineral Deficiencies in Plants (~ 1 meg) for Visual Diagnosis
Hydroponics Plant Nutrient Deficiencies and Solutions from High Nutrients
Worm Composting :: Setting up Your Worm Bin, and Moving In :: All Things Organic, Worm Composting
green water-why, how, myths

<not very awesome> - Engineering Questions and Answers
WebEE Tutorials - The Official Dilbert Website by Scott Adams - Dilbert, Dogbert and Coworkers!
Thomas Greenleafs hobby programming
ibiblio - transmission lines intro
ibiblio - Lessons In Electric Circuits
ibiblio - Open Book Project
ibiblio - Socratic Electronics
Battery Chargers and Charging Methods
Chaitin, The Limits of Mathematics. (LISP here)
Roland’s Blog Mathematician, linux hacker, former athlete
The C Book - Table of Contents
The Math Forum @ Drexel University
xkcd - A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language - By Randall Munroe
VU3RDD Station Log » Putting together a Junk Box
Homebrew Radio How-to
Hacker's Delight - Home
The Feynman Lectures on Physics Website
Introduction to Airplane Design for Education and Learning - Saving Power on Intel systems with Linux
ffmpeg and youtube : Using A Sharper Stick « Oldskooler Ramblings

eco geek

eco search engine

Thursday, July 2, 2009

My IISc course now Ph.D


Instead of the MSc program I am now going to persue the direct Ph.D program.
(They offered me an option between MSc and PhD and I readily agreed to the latter.)

I am very happy now.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Changes in my environment

Below are some changes in my environment that could occur when I join my pg programme:

When I shift to the IISc hostel, I don't know whether I need to take my desktop with me. I don't even have a laptop right now.

A good part of me becomes a void without my own personal computer. I am a linux person.

Hopefully, they might provide the students with a unix account. Then it will be bliss. (real bliss)

Let's see.


I like to (at least try) to grow my own food. Food nowadays, even in India, (at least in the cities) is certainly not free of pesticides, and very probably grown with NPK fertilizers not paying attention to soil-biodiversity (earthworms, micorrzheal fungi [correct the spelling yourself if your picky], nitrogen fixing bacteria and humus, et al).
And then food is becoming more and more expensive, probably because it is transported using polluting fossil fuel that's imported.

So I have recently tried to attempt to grow some food plants myself (I enjoy growing plants anyway). Though the quantity of food that I have grown so far is negligible compared to what I consume, I tried out the grow-your-food experiment more as proof-of-concept on a small scale. I could scale it up anytime. I have successfully grown a handful of ground(or pea)nuts from just 5 plants, a fine bunch of fenugreek plants, around 1.5 kg of tomatoes (around 10 fruits were lost to a nibbling rat-like mystery animal - the pesky thing :)), small potatoes (maybe I should have taken better care - they would have grown up well), some spring onions, lots of mint, quite a bit of fennel seeds as well as fennel as a leafy-herb-thing, three or four garlics, some beans.

All these were grown in a very small area. Except the tomatoes which were outside on the ground, most of the others were grown only in a thin layer of soil (the height of your palm)!, spread over a ledge of my house. The fennel and mint was grown in my aquaponic system.

I wonder if I would be able to continue to try this after I join my pg programme.


Some people may say I'm wasting time doing all sorts of things, but I've read in a kazillion (good) places (places include webpages, books, etc) that anybody _should_ have a hobby to be sane.

Well I do have hobbies, that I am proud of. I am constantly in the quest of things to do. Places like give me a high. You would understand.

Nothing (my hobbies, that is) is going to affect my research. I have a passion for science that can only be deep.

Why even google has their Fridays reserved for their employess doing whatever they want. A lot of good google products were born out of this.

Creative juices flow, but never when you're working on them and trying hard, slogging to get a bright idea.
The greatest of ideas have never arrived because someone sat down at a table and tried hard to make it come. The awesome-est of ideas come up when you have lunch, or go to the bathroom.

What about Edison's 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration?
That's very much true. I enjoy the perspiration part, even if it is 99% of the time. But this always follows the 1% inspiration (the 'idea') that comes, not when your sleeplessly slogging but when you are doing something completely unrelated like tending to your bean plants.
There is no point in the 99% perspiration that does not come trailing with the 1% idea in front of it.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Admission offer - M.Sc at IISc (or Ph.D?)

I couldn't be a happier person.

I got a letter today offering admission to an MSc program at IISc (indian institute of science) in the Electrical department, systems and signal processing.

I may also be able to take up the direct Ph.D program instead of MSc. But it is not yet confirmed and is being processed. It has a good probability that it will happen. I am praying it will happen.

Another update on my current status: All my 8th (last) semester undergrad formalities (exams, etc) are completed (finally!) Only the results/report cards are being awaited now.

Another thing that prevents me from being totally happy is that the admission to M.Sc/Ph.D is going to be provisional until I get the report cards saying I passed my under-grad, before a certain deadline.
Although the probability is low that I fail to pass my under-grad, I still cannot rest happy until everything is all confirmed.