In Quest of a Digital Reading Device

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Good ebooks on just about any topic are widely available today. The Project Gutenberg itself contains about 21000 books, including the classics, and other books whose copyright has expired. The only problem is reading them, from the computer screen. With the new monitors it’s not too much strain on the eyes, but you get a stiff back and neck, if you sit continuously staring at it. If only there was some device roughly the shape and size of a book, which can display the ebook page by page, which you can read lying on your back, sitting, or any way you want, it would be easier. Sure, it can never match a real book, but it would be almost good enough. And when you finish reading a book, all you’ve got to do is upload the next one! A lot of paper can be saved.

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For new users of GNU/Linux

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I’ve written a small article for new and would-be users of GNU/Linux. You can read it at-

http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dctxxbh3_26gkpwpg

(not complete- work in progress)

4510

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One week of classes over. These are the courses- Network Theory, Solid State Devices-1, Mathematics-3, Logic Design, Random Signal Theory and Signals and Systems. The courses have suddenly become advanced compared to the last couple of semesters and involve a lot of abstract maths. I simply can’t understand why they emphasize so much on adavanced theoretical courses ignoring the practical aspects. Without exaggerating, we are being introduced to multimeters, resistors, colour codes and verifying with multimeters, while we learn random signals and networks and flip flops in theory. It’s pathetic. And whatever lab work we have consist of second-hand experiments which are repeated over and over again every year. Well, it’s just the continuation of what school labs used to be. That’s where I think Phoenix can make a difference. What sense is there in learning science from books, if you can’t feel the joy and excitement of watching the circuit you made work perfectly? For me, ideally, labs shouldn’t have fixed time slots(all our labs are in afternoons when the eyes of half of the class are drooping) or fixed experiments. They should give guidelines such as- you should complete so many hours of lab per week or these are the types of experiments you can do, and leave the rest to the students.

Final Harry Potter Book Released!

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After long months of eager anticipation and waiting, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final part of the history-making Harry Potter series is in the hands of the fans. People even spent the night before the release in front of bookstores, to get their hands on a copy. Undoubtedly many would have had to go home disappointed. Others ensured that they would get an early copy, by reserving one weeks before. It’s nothing short of “Potter Mania”.

But is the Potter phenomenon anything more than an incredible marketing stunt? I’ve read the first six books of the series, and I’d agree that they’re a pleasant read- most of all it’s the little details that are charming. The storyline goes just as any fantasy does. But I wouldn’t call the series a literary marvel or anything of the sort. There have been arguments that the Potter series awakened a dying habit of reading in children, but the fact is that children started reading more of Potter, not more of everything.

Read this article which appeared in the Hindu Magazine today…

Back at College!

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After a mammoth 100 day long vacation, I’m back at NIT. Tomorrow’s registration for the next semester, and classes start on Tuesday.  It’s going to be a busy day. It’s really just a formality- there are no choices in the courses being offered, but got to run around and get no-due certificates from everywhere.

Man – Nature’s Victim…

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Floods and heavy rainfall have unleashed terror and suffering in all parts of Kerala over the last couple of days. It’s made me think whether man is making himself a victim of nature. Such heavy rainfall used to occur every year, but I don’t think monsoon was always associated with such widespread suffering. The floods are mainly because of the environmental imbalance created by the unscientific construction of buildings and expansion of cities. Open fields got filled to give way to buildings, rivers got obstructed by dams, and the water has nowhere to flow. The situation is only going to worsen over the next few years.

Until a few decades back, man used to be a part of nature. He used to eat food that grew in his surroundings, used to build his house with materials that he found around him, cured himself with herbs that were in plenty around him(I know, because my Ammamma makes incredibly effective medicines from little plants you’d have dismissed for a weed), when he fell sick. His occupation would change depending on the season. In every way, man was a part of nature, just like every other living thing on earth. What’s man doing today? I almost feel as if man is behaving like an alien creature that landed on this wonderful planet, realized that it’s a treasure trove, and started exploiting it for its shortsighted whims and fancies. After a while, the creature established its authority over the earth, and started devising laws for regulating and legitimising its plundering activity, under the fond name of  “progress”. What man has done over the last couple of centuries can be compared to what a set of aliens, intelligent but lacking wisdom, would have done. I feel that Mother Nature could wipe out humanity in one single sweep, but is extremely tolerant like a mother towards her child gone astray, because ultimately we are her children, not aliens. Still people all over the world blame Mother Nature for not giving them sunshine when it rains, and not giving them rain during the hot summers.

How ungrateful and ignorant man is… Albert Einstein once said, “Only two things are infinite- one is the Universe, and the other is man’s stupidity. And I’m not so sure about the former…”

Cool Tux Wallpapers

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Here are some cool tux wallpapers…

http://user.cs.tu-berlin.de/~karlb/tux/index.html

One that I liked particularly well-

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