Thursday, December 29, 2011

Indian Navy Sea King Helicopter aboard US Naval Warship [Photograph]

Indian Navy Helicopter aboard US Warship
The Malabar series of Naval exercises are a yearly Naval engagement primarily involving participation by the Navies of India & the United States of America. Other countries who have been invited to participate in these exercises, up till now, include Japan, Australia & Singapore. The exercises this year were held in the month of April. Scheduled to be held off the coast of Okinawa in Japan, the situation arising at the Fukushima Nuclear Power plant, prompted a withdrawal of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force [Japanese Navy]. The exercises were held in the Philippine Sea.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Google-powered Educational Courseware [Google University]

Yesterday, while browsing through the Internet, which I do a fair amount of, I was struck by this realization. Our Internet experience would have been so much poorer & exceedingly dreary & tedious without the invaluable service provided by the Google search engine. Its bots, crawling through the near-infinite maze of web pages on the Internet, indexing them, categorizing them & then, making just the relevant pages available to the user in the form of search results, when the user keys in a particular search string. Such ease & convenience in accessing information has, thus, made it possible for a much greater number of people to gain the knowledge & information they seek, without having to encounter brick-walls in the form of protocol, hierarchy, red-tapism, or even prior knowledge in the field in which the information is sought, at each step of the way, as is the prevalent practice in the traditional stream of knowledge dissemination.


It is indeed true that the Internet, itself, has made possible for dissemination & acquisition of knowledge in a manner & scale far greater than traditional means introduced earlier. However, without the help of a search engine to bring it all together, & inform us that various portions of information we seek are actually available at different locations, our search on the Internet would be akin to groping our way through the dark, in the hope of getting lucky. It would have lead to the Internet being a network of disparately located islands of information, virtually isolated from one another. A person, who is aware that information about a topic is available at a given location [web site], may not also have known that additional information could also be accessed at another website, without the help of a search engine to point that out, as would be the case today. Data ghettos we would end up with, as opposed to the ocean of information that the Internet is today.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

MiG-29 aircraft [MiG-29UPG] of Indian Air Force [IAF] to fire Russian Kh-35U Anti-Ship missile [Photograph]

Upgraded MiG-29 aircraft [MiG-29UPG] of the Indian Air Force [IAF] equipped to fire Russian Kh-35U Anti-Ship Cruise missile

The photograph, above, shows an Indian Air Force MiG-29 aircraft, currently in Russia to receive a Mid-life upgrade, loaded with a Kh-35U Subsonic Anti-Ship Cruise Missile . The entire fleet of these Russian-origin aircrafts are to receive a Mid-life/Life-extension upgrade. Following the upgrade, these aircraft are to be identified by the nomenclature UPG as suffix, i.e., MiG-29UPG. Capability to launch the Kh-35 missiles are being incorporated into the MiG-29 aircraft as part of the upgrade package decided upon.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Indian Space & Defence programs [something to read]

Was reading the December issue of Aeromag Asia this afternoon. Has some interesting articles including one about the newly-established Bird Strike Research Group of India [BSRGI]. Also of interest is the article about the Engine & Test Bed Research & Design Centre [ETBRDC], a division of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. It speaks of some challenges that are unique to small-sized Gas Turbines. Worth a read.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sony Ericsson Xperia Active - my first Android [Uncontrolled Joy]

I have been using my new handset since the past week - a Sony Ericsson Xperia Active [also sold by the name ST17i]. Filled with glee, owning my first handset running Google's Android Operating system :-) . While it came with Gingerbread installed out-of-the-box, a notification to install Ice Cream Sandwich has already been sent across. Being my first handset running the Android, still getting to know my way around the O.S's environment. Getting a hang of things, however, wasn't really any issue. The interface is so wonderfully intuitive that I was able to get going with the phone even without having to take a look at the user guide.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Active [ST17i] cellphone

Intend to explore the handset a bit, initially, in its factory default configuration. Once I develop a fair amount of comfort with the device, will jump right into the game, rooting1 it & a Cyanogenmod install, if available. Have already installed MoboPlayer & a Notepad app from the Android Marketplace.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Top Computer Science Research Institutions in India [Institute ranking]

Computer Science, or rather 'Computer Engineering', is quite a buzzword in India. Every Engineering College that has started in India in the past two decades or so, has invariably had Computer Engineering as one of its first course offerings.

This phenomena is not hard to figure out, though. Ever since the "IT-boom" India witnessed, first gaining widespread public attention in the 90s, an inordinately large number of students, those about to take up undergraduate studies, have been influenced by the promises & challenges of this sector. As a result, wanting to reap the benefits of the opportunities offered by this sector & enjoy a lucrative, high-paying professional career [compared to the other sectors in India], one has seen students rush to apply for the course in far greater numbers than other branches of Engineering1.

Supercomputer for Aerospace with GPU Architecture [SAGA-220], currently India's fastest Supercomputer in terms of peak performance

Such rush is not without complete justification, either. Nearly every major company in the field of Computer & Information Technology has a sizable presence in India, & expanding their operations here. The nature of work done at these centers, too, is said to be rising higher up the value chain. Thus, in order to cater to the increasing demands of qualified professionals required in these industries, newer educational institutes. as well as the older, established ones, therefore, ensure they have a Computer Science department in their portfolio.

However, as with anything else, with a quantitative surge, one tends to witness a qualitative dip. This is no different for these educational institutions either. The variance, quite often vast, in the quality of education imparted in each institutions & the the infrastructure they posses, calls for a need to put them in perspective, assigning rank, in order to visualize a clearer picture of the situation.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Download for Free an amazing book of wildlife photography [24 hour e-book giveaway]

20111218-Wildlife-Photography-Free-Download-01Budding photographers, perhaps even those who've bloomed, especially those interested in wildlife photography should find this bit of news very helpful. German wildlife photographer, Uwe Skrzypczak is giving away as a free download, a copy of his book, 'Wildlife photography: On Safari with Your DSLR: Equipment, Techniques, Workflow'.

I just finished downloading his e-book. I was actually hoping it would have lots of high-resolution photos of the wild [National Geographic-like], which was what primarily piqued my interest in the download. With my eye still nearly wholly shut, what with the spurious coffee I'm drinking, which I'm quite sure is just mud water, I missed reading the description of the book. This, as it turns out, was not so bad a thing to have happened, & not just because it is a free download. Quickly going through his book, I realised that the author has put in genuine efforts in writing it.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Indian MiG-27 flying alongside F-16 of the Singapore Air Force [Photograph]

Each year, India plays host to the Singapore Army & their Air Force, the Republic of Singapore Air Force [RSAF], as they arrive in India, to carry out their annual military training exercise. This unique arrangement, agreed upon by the two countries, arises from the fact that Singapore itself has insufficient land mass or airspace to undertake such exercise, required to hone & sharpen skills, on its own soil. Their Air Force bases itself in Indian Air Force's Kalaikunda Air Force Station in the state of West Bengal, while the Army has been conducting their war games in the ranges of Babina [Uttar Pradesh] & Deolali [Maharashtra].

This, naturally, should work to the mutual advantage of both nations involved. The Indian Air Force [IAF], I presume, benefits a shade more than the other branches of the Indian Armed Forces, from this annual engagement. This is because, Singapore's Air Force fly, now Lockheed Martin's, F-16 multi-role combat aircraft [Block 52 (C&D variants) & also an advanced variant of the Block 52 (Block 52+)]. The same aircraft, albeit, flying mostly older variants, form the spearhead of Pakistan Air Force's [PAF] fighter fleet. Thus, for the Indian Air Force, this yearly engagement with the Fighting Falcons must be helping it gain a great deal of understanding of the aircraft's flying characteristics, learning of its Achilles Heels that could be exploited. This, thereafter, could help IAF fine tune it tactics, needed to neutralise the bandits, in event of any future confrontation [someone had, sardonically, perhaps more appropriately, referred to the PAF as bandicoots].

Thursday, December 15, 2011

2 songs - simply brilliant!

Heard this song a couple of weeks back. Virtually captivated, since then, by the sublime & mellifluous feeling that seems to descend in the room each time I play the song. As the song, titled Ganga, played, I sensed being transported away from the hustle & bustle of a grindcore-sque life, even if for the brief moment, while the song is played. 'Nuff said. Listen.

Rabbi Shergill - Ganga

Despite not knowing the language [Punjabi] in which the song is sung, had no difficulty at all feeling for myself the pathos being conveyed. The song, as stated in the video, is from Rabbi Shergill's forthcoming album, whose previous albums, too, had an awesome list of soundtracks. Eagerly awaiting the release.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

India-Russia military co-operation

India, with its socialist form of democracy had always enjoyed a warm & cordial relationship with the erstwhile U.S.S.R. [its legitimate successor being present day Russia] since the early days of Indian democracy.

India-Russia Cooperation

Significant military co-operation between India & the Soviet Union, however, only began post India's debacle against China in 1962, following which it undertook a significantly large modernization & expansion program of its Armed Forces. Looking for suitable supplier of military hardware to arm its expanded Armed Forces, India approached many countries, among them the U.S.S.R. Thus, the PT-76 light tank became one of the first major Russian [Soviet] hardware to be inducted into the Indian Armed Forces. Since then, Russian military hardware has, for all practical purposes, become synonymous with the inventory of the Indian Armed Forces. Not surprisingly the Soviets/Russians are the largest supplier of defence equipment to India, by a huge margin over the second largest supplier. This statement of fact is unlikely to change for a long time to come. With time, this generally mutually beneficial relationship based, primarily around trade of defence equipment & other strategic systems has only grown stronger and deeper.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Get a free copy of IBM's Cloud [Computing] for Dummies

20111207-Cloud-Computing-For-Dummies-01IBM is giving away for free, copies of Cloud for Dummies, a book sanctioned/sponsored/written/whatever-ed by it. You can either ask for a hard copy, which will probably take time to arrive if at all, or you can choose the e-book option and download the 75-odd page book instantly. I preferred the latter, the tree hugger that I am [not, nevertheless].

A quick look through the book evoked a fair bit of interest. It is, as the front page indicates, targeted towards mid-sized enterprises who could leverage the benefits of Cloud-based services & storage for their benefit.

A cloud service that I find immensely useful would be Dropbox. Complete integration with Windows Explorer means I can upload to the cloud by simply copy-pasting within the windows environment itself.

I even tried syncing content between two [or more] Dropbox accounts. It worked perfectly, though I don't use it in this configuration.

You could sign up for Dropbox using this link [referral]. You sign up for an awesome service, while I get some 256 MB of free additional space.

To order your copy of Cloud for Dummies, you need to enter your details here. Fill it up with garbage data, if you are choosing the e-book option.


Explore the flight deck of a Space Shuttle [360 degrees interactive]

When Space Shuttle Atlantis returned back to Earth & touched ground on 20th July 2011, it drew the curtains on U.S.A.'s Space Shuttle program, amongst the most ambitious Scientific & Engineering endeavors ever undertaken. While watching any Space launch mission, conduced by any country, is just as exciting, something about the launch of the Space Shuttle had just that much more profound & dramatic effect.
With the Shuttles now taken out of action, Russia's Soviet-era Soyuz Rocket, which incidentally is the direct derivate of an ICBM, is the only proven, operational system for conducting manned Space mission for now. The Chinese Shenzhou is experimental in nature.
The U.S has proposed the Space Launch System program, following the cancelled Constellation program, as replacement for the Space Shuttle program to undertake heavy-lift missions to far off reaches of space*. The first manned mission is projected to be performed in around 2029.
These retired Space Shuttles are now expected to be placed in museums around USA, where visitors can view these Engineering beauties in all its glory. For those who can not make the trip just yet, a bit of the shuttle environment can be experienced right on the Internet itself.