iRead, iLearn, iWrite. Hence, iBlog.

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Great Indian Scientist Dr. Vikram Sarabhai: A Documentary [Weekend viewing]

An interesting documentary made on the life and works of one of the pioneers of Indian Science, Dr. Vikram Sarabhai. Thanks to his untiring efforts, India's Space research programme has been able to attain a level of competency & proficiency that makes countries around the world seek out our partnership in their own programs.

Not only is his contribution in building up India's Scientific and Technological base immense, but also his endeavor to nurture & develop India's human capital & his interest in art & humanities has seen some fine institutes in India being set up to work towards these goals.

Little slow a pace the documentary has, but a nice & engaging one nevertheless.


Dr. Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai


Wish more such reports and documentaries are made about the many other other Scientists and Technologists who have strived & continue to strive to help realize the dream of recognition as a technologically advanced, knowledge powerhouse nation called India.

You may view the remaining parts here: Part 02 and Part 03


Possibly related posts:

Dr. Homi J. Bhabha – Scientist in action [suggested YouTube viewing]

MMRCA Aircrafts in flight [weekend YouTube watching]

Alan Turing’s three greatest contributions: Richard Buckland

WTF was this Pakistani thinking?!!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Suggested weekend reading - Science, Engineering & Technology [2010.12.11]

A collection of Science and Technology-related articles and reports that I found interesting. Do read them.
Reccomended Science and Technology-related articles

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Take Hi-resolution detailed pictures with your cheap cellphone camera

Had to send someone scans of an article today. With no more college, did not have access to a free scanner :D & doing it from a commercial place would have cost me 5 bucks a scan - a loot I'd say.

Anyway, I have a Nokia C3-00 which comes with a fairly decent 2 MP camera. It took reasonable pictures of the pages - served the purpose.

Hi Res pics Low cost camera

However, if you have a much lesser costing cellphone that comes with a lower resolution camera, like a VGA camera, you can still produce hi-resolution, detailed pictures using it.

The trick to do so is to use a feature called Panorama that is available in many photo editing softwares, including free one.

Instead of clicking the whole picture in 1 single frame with your low-cost camera, you should instead break up the target into multiple smaller sections & shoot that portion of the scene with your camera. While taking picture of the adjacent section, you must see to it that there is an overlap of scenery with the previous section. Higher the overlap, better would be your final, bigger panorama image.

Overlapping image to create panorama picture

I made use of the panorama feature available in the Windows Live Photo Gallery. Will need to do some trial and error in the beginning before you develop the needed skills and judgment.

Click the picture to view a larger sized image

Take hi-res pictures with low-cost camera phones


Possibly related posts:

Seam carving pictures to remove unwanted elements

Warbird in Pune: MiG-23 MF Flogger Aircraft [Updated]

Install & run Unigraphics NX4 (or older) in Windows 7 and Vista

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter: Manufacturing 02 - Lean Manufacturing

Friday, November 26, 2010

#Barkhagate - The buck does not stop here

Over the past couple of days, one has been witness to an incessant barrage of finger pointing (the Social media version of it) at NDTV Group Editor-English News Barkha Dutt for her alleged role as a go-between for the Congress Party & its Tamil Nadu coalition partner, the DMK, in arriving at a mutually agreeable seat sharing agreement after they were voted to power in the 2009 General elections.

Her role, or as she would prefer, alleged role in the affair was came to light when The Open Magazine published a series of articles along with taped conversations revealing the seedy underbelly of politics in India, where political parties could be heard hankering bargaining for portfolios and berth in the cabinet ministry & other favors being curried, through these intermediaries, one of them being Ms. Dutt, who as one gets an impression after hearing the tapes, has the Congress party's ears.

Though commoditization of electoral seats & ministerial berths is an open secret in India, given the coalition nature of our politicking, what with the "benefits" one accrues after holding such a position, the fact that the absolute proof of this was now available in the form of those taped tapped telephonic conversations - tangible display of the afflicting rot every one is already aware of - meant that our sense of outrage took on an all new dimension, exponentially growing in intensity, aided by a convenient platform to express our sense of hurt & betrayal by a person belonging to a group considered to be the 4rth pillar of democracy - the free press, that is supposed to hold the people in power to scrutiny & evaluation, least they stray away from their intended path of public service into self-service.

Such a role naturally calls for the press to maintain a dispassionate distance from the players whose probity, or lack of it, it is their job to report about.

Instead, we were made witness to such a person from the press jumping into bed with these very political constitutes, playing her role in effecting a resolution in the unholy arrangement of political conveniences called coalition politics, casting serious doubts about the objectivity of reporting of one of the biggest & undoubtedly influential media personalities in India.

Incidentally, the magazine revealed the role of yet another journalist in trying to influence governance & policy decisions through, among other things, tailored news articles written by him & interviews he conducts during course of their tapped telephonic conversations with power-broker Niira Radia.

All these expose's were made in the background of 2G Spectrum scandal, where the Indian exchequer was made poorer by Rs. 1.77 lakhs crores [nearly $39 billion USD], as a result of the twisting & breaking rules by the then Telecom minister to selectively favor chosen a few companies, contrary to the spirit & rules of fair play.

However, overcome by this, not unjustified, swell of anger & disgust, we seem to have chosen Ms. Dutt to take it all out on. The arrival of Social Media networks has made it that much more easier to just let it out. So intense has been the extent of the revulsion being directed at Ms. Dutt on these platforms, that even mainstream media had to take note of it & could not help not writing about it.

Yet in this ensuing din, the other journalist, a male, save for an occasional, almost inadvertent mention, seems not to have even a fraction of the outrage directed towards him. Nor is there a similar feverish anger being displayed at the minister who oversaw, what is being touted as, the biggest financial improprieties to hit India. Such glaring disparity in our show of anger and outrage calls for us to ask ourselves a question or two.

Our outrage seems to be borne out of the fact that a journalist was caught playing the role of a broker between two political parties engaged in, what is essentially a self-serving activity. Yet we seem not to ask ourselves whether the lady would have been able to play the role she was caught playing, if the political parties themselves had not been agreeable to the idea of her playing such a role.

The unhinged moral depravation displayed by our elected officials & parties they represent spawns such roles that need to be played to ensure the continuation of their way of politics. The availability of people to play such a role arises out of the need for people to play such a role for the political parties engaged in a perennial endeavor of opportunistic dalliances.

What role would the Radias, Sanghvis & Dutts have to play if the political masters they were caught serving & influencing had instead been morally upright individuals of impeccable probity & morals representing organizations that genuinely believed in serving and leading the people of this country to a bright and prosperous tomorrow.

One must also take a long & hard look at our current multi-party system of politics, where even a outfit that exists in no more than one state is able to dictate terms & hold the central government to ransom, bargaining for benefits in return for ensuring the continuation of the central government.

It would be hard to envisage a role, if any, such power-brokers would have to play if a party had only to deal with members of its own when allotting ministerial berths. The politics of coalition dharma rests, not so lightly, on the seat of opportunistic moral adharma.

Normal human nature dictates that when tempted, be tempted & in face of continual temptation give in to it. Ms. Dutt, due to the nature of her work that brought her in close proximity of the power wielders of this country, should naturally have been lured by the power-induced high intoxicating the movers & shakers she had to report on. Faced with the chance of experiencing such a high herself, took her down the path, indulging in actives, in which she now appears to have been caught with her pants down.

Elements like Barkha Dutt, Vir Sanghvi & Niira Radia are merely symptomatic of the larger rot afflicting the system - easily dispensable elements, to be replaced just as quickly by other individuals willing to do the bidding in return for a chance to experience the high. The malady extends much beyond them, or twisting the title of a talkshow hosted by the lady - the buck does not stop here.

By focusing our rage & discontent at the lady & heaping scorn on her, we end up seriously undermining the enormity of the rot that needs to be set straight. By stealing focus away from the actual problem we shall only end up festering the sores till it consumes us all.

Let the revelations of these tapped phone conversations be utilized to galvanize public intent to put in place clean and honest governmental setup by making a consolidated effort to elect only clean, honest & progressive leaders from parties that espouse policies and ideals relevant to the seat they seek to get elected.

With such leaders occupying the seats of power, the likes of Radia & her ilk in the media houses would automatically get consigned to the ashes of irrelevance.

This scandal, & the innumerable others falling out of the cupboard every other day, can either become the fulcrum of a genuine process of reforms & course-correction of our system or it can be fritted away in venting out our anger & frustration, harbored by not a few, borne out of the divergence of views from those of Ms. Dutt's & the inability to express them on as wide a platform afforded to her.

The choice is ours to make, & to make it quickly, least it becomes too late.

The Outlook magazine has similarly posted a series of tapped phone conversations taking place between power-broker Niira Radia and host of other rich, powerful influential Indians - All Lines Are Busy.

A good forums thread to follow for staying on top of the news of the 2G spectrum allocation scandal - Two-G (2G) Spectrum Scam Tapes and follow-up


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Open & read any PDF files on the Internet with Google Docs [and other reading tools]

While browsing through the Internet, I often come across articles or reports that is made available in the form of a PDF file. Adobe Reader integrates quite well with Firefox, thus making it possible to open the PDF file in it from within the browser itself.

But Adobe is bit of a bloatware. If you are in the habit of running multiple resource-intensive applications running in the background [CFD analysis, multimedia encoding] while surfing, not having to run Adobe to read a PDF file may not be a very bad prospect.

Recently installed this nifty Firefox add-on that lets the user open the PDF files in Google Docs instead.

Open online office document with Google Docs

Once installed, Google Docs viewer adds an option in the right-click menu to open the document in Google Docs. Additionally, if you have to stop reading it mid-way, and do not want to save it on to the hard disk [say, if you are surfing from an Internet cafe, where you are not allowed to save anything on to the Hard Disk], then you can easily login and save it in Google Docs and resume reading next time by simply logging in to Google Docs.

Alternately, if you don't have install privileges on the computer, then you can open the document in Google Docs by simply entering the URL of the document in this page.

Speaking of reading stuff later, I have also Read it later installed in Firefox. If you come across something interesting to read but can not read it at that moment, then you can simply click it on the Read it later button & it will save the page, which can be accessed later from a drop-down menu to when ever you feel like reading. It also allows you to sync the list on to an online account so that you may read the unread from a different computer - not tried it myself out though. Very useful if you are a pathological procrastinator [me! me! me!] or uber-busy who finds free time intermittently [undoubtedly - not me].

Another add-on that I have been using for some time now to read web pages without distractions is the Tidyread Firefox add-on. Removes all the unnecessary elements from the page and displays the actual content in a standard reader-friendly format.


Possibly related posts:

MozBackup : Create backup of your Mozilla-based software [Firefox, Thunderbird, Flock etc]

Understanding Nuclear Energy and Technology [suggested weekend reading]

Write and edit any PDF files for free

Creating your own, unique email id - Google Apps

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Legends of the Indian Air Force - Air Commodore Mehar Singh [weekend viewing]

Stumbled upon this awe-inspiring documentary made on the life and times of Air Commodore Mehar Singh. It has a simple, sedate yet effective narration that does not fail to convey the yeomen service he rendered towards the country and the impeccable leadership qualities displayed by him, leading his men and their machines performing tasks in face of immense odds and the most adverse of circumstances and coming up trumps.

The documentary, it appears, was issued to be made by the Indian Air Force. It is quite unfortunate, however, that no particular effort is being made to make these and other such documentaries available to the common masses, especially the young in an easily accessible manner [this uploaded copy may be a pirated version]. The general lack of awareness displayed amongst the average Indian about the activities and achievements of Armed Forces, though not necessarily translating to lack of respect, coupled with the declining recruitment numbers in our Armed Forces, simply does not bode well for the country.

Would have been so much more nicer if the good folks at South Block decided to upload them on to the official website of the respective branches of the Armed Forces and also keep the site regularly updated with content that would not only raises awareness but also inspire people to consider the forces as a suitable career option.

Moi had also prepared a video of sorts, actually a mashup of video sourced from different places, and then strung them together and added some music to go with it.

The theme I tried to portray was that of India's Nuclear weapons programme and its delivery platforms. First attempt at doing something - quite some fun it is. Music by Bangla Rock Band Cactus. Hope you people like it.

Please watch and comment.

Not likely to to be able to blog actively for the next few months [starting from the past few months]


Possibly Related posts:

Dr. Homi J. Bhabha – Scientist in action [suggested YouTube viewing]

World’s Air Forces and their Flying Machines

Reclaim ‘Bombay’ and ‘Bangalore’

India’s Fast Breeder Nuclear Reactor Core being transported & lowered into place

Saturday, October 02, 2010 - my new Blog address

Have changed the address of the blog. No particular reason go for the change except for the fact that I felt like changing it ;). Any way, the choice of the earlier domain name in the first place was bit of a disconnect between the Blog's name and the content - there is nothing particularly Shubh or Ashubh about this space or the stuff I post here.

So when I came across the thread on TDF, where a fellow forum member Ravi, who runs, was selling domain names for Rs. 99 INR [around $2.2 USD] for the first year, I decided to make the switch.

Besides being a smaller, snappier name, the word aame means "self", written phonetically in English & the .in TLD indicates my Nationality - more meaningful a name to associate with what is essentially my personal blog, I think. Also a lot more socially acceptable than the "Soul Dementia" that was my blog's address not so long back - fortunately wasted no money on that domain name - it was a free domain :D. Somebody also pointed out that AAME could be an acronym for All About ME - not a very incorrect description about the blog, save for maybe the All part [that someone, however, also pointed out that AAME could also stand for Alcoholic Anonymous ME - in case I decide to take it up & then reform myself, I'd have a very relevant name to blog under].

So as it stands now, my Blog address is If you have linked me any where on your blog/website, then please make the change - sorry for the inconvenience.

Plan to retain control of the earlier domain name for some time, least some enterprising Joe decides to start a "mother of all" pedo bear website using that domain name. Also have a few active email addresses associated with that domain name [Google Apps] - switch will take some time.

I have also brought in my blogs that I use for jotting interesting and important news under the domain name:

P.S: Upon changing the address of my blog, the blogroll widget emptied out all by itself. Am in the process of re-populating it. If you were earlier listed in the Blogroll [My posse], but find your blog missing now, please do drop me a line informing me about it along with your blog's URL - I currently have no record of the entries in it and have to re-create it from memory - very helpful if you let me know of your address.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Establishing a sustainable model for Electrically operated transports

Bumping an old post - watch.
Shai Agassi, ex-President of SAP AG (PTG) spoke at a lecture series organized by NDN in his capacity as the founder and CEO of his company Better Place. He spoke about Project Better Place, a developmental initiative of Technologies that would make the use of Electric vehicles a viable solution for everyday transportation needs.
Highlights of his speech:

Google's unwise spam/bot verification process

Needed to create an alternate e-mail account to transfer a certain group of e-mail types from an existing account to another to try and end the insanity prevailing in that account.

Being a long time user of Google's email service [Gmail & Google Apps] & the other associated Google services that one can access with a Google account, thought no further than Gmail again to create a new account.

However, I was dismayed to discover that Google now asks me for a cell phone number for verification to ensure that the account is being created by a human & not bot or spammer.

Google asking for a cell phone number to register a new account

Now, the reason I am dismayed with this step, does not have anything to do with any privacy concerns arising out of sharing my number, but the fact that it is now necessary to possess a cell phone to create a Google account.

It is an especially unsound move for a country like India, where, despite impressive cell phone penetration, not every body possesses one, yet. Now, it may so be that Google allows the number be used for verifying multiple Gmail sign ups.

So everybody who wishes to sign up with Gmail would now need to either posses a functioning cell phone or have somebody sitting by the side who has one, so that the verification code can be received - how cumbersome, a total put-off.

The reason given for them to implement this step is to verify if the registration process is being performed by a bot or human, &, if the former, stop it. But then if that is the case, why are people made to recognise a Captcha & enter the corresponding alphabets and numbers in the previous page of the registration process.

If Gmail has not faith in its ability to detect Bots using captchas, then should they not replace with some other form of captchas, say, like the Re-Captcha, an entity it bought over not so long ago or completely do away with captchas if they find it ineffective. Cell phone verification and captchas are nothing but duplication of the same intent.

I remember, when in the second year of college, being asked by classmates to assist them in creating their first e-mail account. I, myself bought my first cell phone only when I was the second year of college. Now-a-days it is, however, not a rarity to see kids as young as in class 9 & 10 carrying one around, as they race from one tuition class to another. However for a vast majority of people in India, a cell phone is still not an indispensable device to possess and many are doing fine without it. By coupling registration to Google account with possession or access to a cell phone, it is going to turn off a significantly large number of Indians from using the extremely useful set of services Google has to offer & turn to other similar service providers.

I hope better sense prevails over the people at Google & they roll back this step.

I, on the other hand, decided to try out Microsoft's Live e-mail account & created an account with it instead.

Microsoft considers password of medium strength even if its exceeds permissible character limit

As it turns out, your password will never be too strong for Microsoft, even if it exceeds the 16-character limit imposed on password length.

Update: [2010.09.27] After I posted this, somebody tried to create an account with Google, but was not prompted for entering a cell phone number. Tried it myself - no number asked for this time around. People speculating that since my IP is dynamically assigned to me by my ISP [Tata Indicom], the IP address [or range] assigned to me during that session was probably used by someone else to to create spam accounts [or tried to run a bot to automate signing up] & hence I was prompted to enter the cell phone number when I tried to sign up.

However, the reality behind this roll-back is likely to be far more mundane, having nothing to do with any abused IP numbers or some such gobbledok - it may just so happen that my blog is the first thing Larry Page accesses after logging on to the Interweb every day. So seeing me complain about the cell phone verification process, gets his coders to roll it back - a lot more plausible an explanation I'd say.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

ZERO DAY: United States Air Force website hacked [defaced site]

The screenshot should tell you all - The United States Air Force had one its website defaced.

Click the picture to view a larger-sized image

Hacked & defaced website of United States Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals

By the time I got to the site, they had already restored the site. But Google still has the cache of the defaced page. Will be replaced after its next crawl of the page, so took a screenshot for posterity.

The website in question belongs to the United States Air Force's Court of Criminal Appeals. Ironical that your crime targeted a website dealing in crime.

The United States Cyber Command, with its annual budgetary allocation of $2 Billion USD [2008 figure] couldn't stop the exploit. Well at least they restored the site back to its pristine glory by the time I checked their site this evening. Also their main website was not harmed [at least from a visitor's perspective].

P.S: Is there any reason why the United States Armed Forces, with their multi-billion dollar budget and generations ahead jaw-dropping, eye-popping gizmos weapon systems does not do a 301 re-direct to take me to when I type in I instead get the site not found page when I type the latter [Using OpenDNS, get re-directed to their page].Same goes for the websites of the other branches too. The United States Marine Corps website is however the exception - automatically re-directs me to - wonder why? Genuinely curious.


Possibly Related posts: Nameserver not responding Hacked !!!! (Digit's site hacked, but hacker causes no harm)

26th November 2008: Channel 4 Dispatches - Terror in Mumbai

Make site accessible without the www

Update : Make site accessible without the www

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Exercise Garuda: Indian Air Force in France [French report]

The Indian Air Force, in June, embarked on a trip to France to take part in the Grauda series of Air Exercises with the French Air Force. This time around the Singapore too sent in its Air Force flying the F-16s [Block 52 variants]. The latest issue of the Armee d'aujourd'hui has an article about the same. Can't read French - kala akshar bhains barabar :)

Click the thumbnail to view  a larger-sized image of the article

Armee d'aujourd'hui - French Ministry of Defence publication Armee d'aujourd'hui - Table of content
Indian Air Force Sukhoi-30 MKI at Exercise Garuda, France

Indian Air Force at Exercise Garuda, France

Indian Air Force in France to take part in Air Exercise Garuda

Of special interest was the participation of the French Rafale, with rumors circulating around the Internet stating that their participation was far less than what was earlier anticipated. Difficult to draw conclusions from this article, but the article says Rafales were introduced to in the exercise to "complicate matters"?. Also that the Indian Air Force flew on the aircrafts [twin-seater variants] and were mighty impressed with its performance.

More than 20 hunters can be hired on the same scenario, "says Lieutenant-Colonel Maurer. It even happens that hunters from other French bases just "complicate" the laborers, as the Rafale squadron 1 / 7 Provence of BA113 Saint-Dizier. The exercise area includes the Massif Central, a part of South-West and some sea off Corsica.

More than 20 hunters can be hired on the same scenario, "says Lieutenant-Colonel Maurer. It even happens that hunters from other French bases just "complicate" the laborers, as the Rafale squadron 1 / 7 Provence of BA113 Saint-Dizier. The exercise area includes the Massif Central, a part of South-West and some sea off Corsica.

In the middle, from left to right: A French pilot has the Rafale a "colleague" of India. Drivers and F16 Singapore. The 105th Squadron of the Air Force Singapore is set on the French base at Cazaux.

In the middle, from left to right: A French pilot has the Rafale a "colleague" of India. Drivers and F16 Singapore. The 105th Squadron of the Air Force Singapore is set on the French base at Cazaux.
As pilots, they show "a great curiosity about French tactics and procedures," as the captain concedes Amit Vij, the 8th Pursuit Squadron of India. But Garuda gave two of them the opportunity to fly on the Rafale. Although a significantly smaller size than the Sukhoi, the flagship of the French Air Force "was very impressed," said Col. India to follow suit before his crew towards the tarmac sunburned.

As pilots, they show "a great curiosity about French tactics and procedures," as the captain concedes Amit Vij, the 8th Pursuit Squadron of India. But Garuda gave two of them the opportunity to fly on the Rafale. Although a significantly smaller size than the Sukhoi, the flagship of the French Air Force "was very impressed," said Col. India to follow suit before his crew towards the tarmac sunburned.

On a side note, with UAE now showing less of an inclination to acquire the Rafales to replace their Mirage-2000 EAD/RAD/DADs & the Brazilian decision hanging in limbo & no International customer to show for the highly capable aircraft till now, the French would now be even more eager that India's MMRCA contract be won by it. Gives Indian negotiators the much needed upper hand in extracting the best deal out of them, if IAF makes its preference for the Rafale known.

I also maintain a tagging blog for noting down news of aircrafts competing the MMRCA acquisition programme [Current]  [old - now shifted to Blogger]


Possibly Related posts:

India’s Medium Multi-role Combat Aircraft program : A comprehensive summary

World’s Air Forces and their Flying Machines

Pictures from Yudh Abhyas 2009 Indo-US military exercise

[not quite] Suggested Reading for the weekend – 2009.11.28

Aviation reading [suggested weekend reading]

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dakshin Gangotri Station: Pride of India [Antarctica] [suggested weekend reading]

India, in 1983, marked its permanent presence on the snow-covered continent  of Antarctica with its first Research station - Dakshin Gangotri [meaning Southern Gangotri (source of the river Ganga)].

The team that made up the first set of residents of Dakshin Gangotri was lead by Major General [retd] Satya Swaroop Sharma, former director of India's Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment [SASE].

I recently received this nicely written, informative white paper that he had authored, in which he gives a very nice, sufficiently detailed account of the work & effort that went into setting up Dakshin Gangotri for catering to needs of Indian Scientists & Researchers, who have been year-round visitors to Antarctica since then, as part of Indian Antarctic Programme.

Click on the thumbnails to view a larger-sized image

  Dakshin Gangotri Station: Pride of India [Antarctica]
Dakshin Gangotri Station: Pride of India [Antarctica]
Dakshin Gangotri Station: Pride of India [Antarctica]
Dakshin Gangotri Station: Pride of India [Antarctica]
Dakshin Gangotri Station: Pride of India [Antarctica]
Dakshin Gangotri Station: Pride of India [Antarctica]
Dakshin Gangotri Station: Pride of India [Antarctica]
Dakshin Gangotri Station: Pride of India [Antarctica]
Dakshin Gangotri Station: Pride of India [Antarctica]
Dakshin Gangotri Station: Pride of India [Antarctica]
Dakshin Gangotri Station: Pride of India [Antarctica]
Dakshin Gangotri Station: Pride of India [Antarctica]
Dakshin Gangotri Station: Pride of India [Antarctica]
Dakshin Gangotri Station: Pride of India [Antarctica]
Dakshin Gangotri Station: Pride of India [Antarctica]
Dakshin Gangotri Station: Pride of India [Antarctica]

Since then India has setup up one more permanent Research base there - Maitri, with another research station, Bharati, being in the process of being set up, targeted for completion in 2012.

He has, in fact, also authored a full book sharing his experiences in Antarctica - Breaking the ice in Antarctica: The first Indian wintering in Antarctica. It is also available for reading on Google Books, as a partial preview - currently reading it - amazing stories, engaging narration.

Speaking of Google Books, started using GoogReader to them. Displays them in an easy to read book-like layout, making reading very convenient [HT Lifehacker]. I would however have liked them include a feature that remembered the last book read and also the last page read before closing the application. Probably available in the paid version, not sure - check it out, but a very nifty application even as a free app.

National Centre for Antarctic & Ocean Research (NCAOR)


Possibly Related posts:

Dr. Kota Harinarayana: Development of Complex Systems – Issues and Challenges

Suggested reading for the weekend – 2009.11.15

Space Agencies & Manned Moon missions: International Astronautical Congress 2009

The 9 Theorems of Innovation at Google – Marissa Mayers

Monday, August 09, 2010

Stumpy, Elephant mascot of 2011 Cricket World Cup - making a statement

Not much of a cricket fan, least of all the utterly dull, languorous 5-day Test match format [its connoisseurs are stuck in a time warp - there, I said it - now sue me #kidding], I was flipping through the sports channels during the 3rd Test match being played between India & Sri Lanka. Just as I was about to switch to the next channel, they happened to telecast the unveiling of the mascot of the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup - Stumpy, a 10-year old Elephant. Now, being decked up in some sort of a rain coat notwithstanding, what struck me was the actual choice of the mascot - an Elephant.

2011 ICC Cricket World Cup Mascot - Stumpy, the Elephant

Though stripped of its rights to physically host any of the matches, Pakistan still remains one of the organizing members or hosts of the games, however just-on-paper it may be. The tournament is supposed to be just as much of a contributory effort of Pakistan [again, on paper] as any of the other 3 countries & it it would not be unexpected on parts of the Pakistanis to expect that their participation as hosts get highlighted in important aspects of tournament [such is that country of great expectations - they expect everything from everybody - weapons, money, trade aid....the list is endless - the inflated sense of entitlement that they posses].

In light of their continued participation as host of the World Cup, choosing an Elephant as a mascot seems to me as a way for the other 3 countries - India, Bangladesh & Sri Lanka, to make a statement - the World Cup is not Pakistan's baby - they're an outsider - a hanger-on, leeching off the revenue it would generate.

The message should not be very hard to get across to the Pakistanis - the Elephant is native to all the 3 countries except Pakistan. No elephant has ever roamed in the wild of, what was described by its founder itself, the moth-eaten country. The elephant has had no presence or association with Pakistan.

Quite a snub from the organizers I'd say - something that the country should've got used to by now, what with not a single IPL team owners bidding for Pakistani players, its invitation to play in the Champion League Cricket being withdrawn, countries refusing to step foot on its soil and thus having to face the ignominy of losing to those countries on some "friendly foreign soil" - the list  goes on and on. Can't say I'm not enjoying it though #evilme.


Probably related posts:

You are cordially invited to our wedding

Lets see if u can stay awake without yawning after watching this

Only in Pakistan – antonyms are synonyms

Tata Capital ad - What are you trying to imply Mr. Tata?

Sunday, August 08, 2010

MMRCA Aircrafts in flight [weekend YouTube watching]

With the results of India's MMRCA acquisition programme just about a year away from being announced, it would not be a bad time to watch each of the competing flying beauties in all their flying glory.

Mikoyan MiG-29 OVT & MiG-35 [Duration: 4 minutes 48 seconds]

Mikoyan MiG-29 OVT & Mig-35 in flight

Some more Vectored-thrust flightgasm: MiG-29OVT <--> MiG-35

On Wikipedia: MiG-35, MiG-29

Note: MiG-29 OVT is the Technology Demonstrator [TD] aircraft that validated the vectored thrust and other technologies incorporated into the  MiG-35.

Dassault Rafale - On Wikipedia

Eurofighter Typhoon - On Wikipedia

Saab JAS 39 Gripen - On Wikipedia

Lockheed Martin F-16 Viper/Fighting Falcon - On Wikipedia

Another: F-16 Cockpit tour

Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet - On Wikipedia

As for which aircraft moi rooting for - purely on aircraft ability and manufacturing setup, I'd have gone for the F-18 Super Hornet - Boeing has undoubtedly one of the most evolved ERP and Supply Chain Management in place. The second M in the MMRCA is best exemplified by the Shornets, IMVHO of course [a blog topic for some day, perhaps].

However, considering that the Indian Air Force currently operates no American combat aircraft, which would then require a completely new logistics supply chain and maintenance line to be setup, adding to the overheads & with its history of imposing sanctions as and when it desires, I'd be very averse to the idea of buying them, their technology advantage notwithstanding.

Instead, moi would like the IAF to recommend and the MoD to decide on purchasing the Dassault Rafale aircraft. Having been a very satisfied operator of the Mirage-2000H aircrafts, the Indian Air Force had earlier expressed its desire to purchase additional Mirage-20005, an advanced iteration of the Mirage-2000 to bolster its rapidly declining squadron strength. However, in ways typifying our bureaucratic babooz, by the time the decision had been taken with much delays, Dassault had already shut down the production line of the aircraft, cost of restarting which for the Indian contract would've rendered the final cost of the aircrafts unviable. So started a hunt for an aircraft for the Indian Air Force through an acquisition programme labeled the biggest defence contract in the world out there.

Besides being a capable aircraft in its own rights [moi, the Armchair, brochure reading, YouTube watching Air Chief Marshal speaketh], India has also had a fairly satisfactory defense relation with the French, both in terms of user-experience and supply of spares [the latter factor marking an absolute low as far as Indo-Russian ties go]. Sharing commonality with the Mirage-2000, it would be an easier task maintaining the flight-worthiness of Mirages, to undergo a comprehensive MLU programme of its own to keep them air-worthy for the next 20 odd years [expected to fly till 2030-35] and the Rafale, owing to the commonality inherited from being products of the same company - Dassault.

Yet, the fact that it does not have an operational AESA radar may work against it, for if newspaper paper reports are anything to go by, the Indian Air Force is big on having them on its MMRCA aircraft. This condition, if strictly enforced, could leave only the F-16 Vipers and the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet in fray. The Vipers & the Super Hornets with their their AN/APG-80 & APG-79 radars respectively are the only competing aircrafts with operational AESA radars. Although all the competitors have assured an AESA by the time the contract is awarded, the AESAs being in the final stage of testing they claim.

A quickie comparison between specifications of the different aircrafts.

Click on the info-graphic to view larger-sized image

Quick comparison between specifications of aircrafts competing in the MMRCA acquisition programme

Whichever aircraft comes out on top is expected to serve in the Indian Air Force till around 2040, forming the workhorse of the IAF along with the Tejas, with the FGFA and the Su-30MKI forming the strike components [there is also the AMCA, which may fit in role similar to that of the MMRCA, though more advanced aircrafts that would outlast the MMRCA]. All in all, very interesting times ahead.


Possibly related posts:

Warbird in Pune: MiG-23 MF Flogger Aircraft [Updated]

World’s Air Forces and their Flying Machines

India’s Medium Multi-role Combat Aircraft program : A comprehensive summary

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program: An Overview 01

[not quite] Suggested Reading for the weekend – 2009.11.28

Know your Jammu & Kashmir [suggested weekend reading]

The recent eruption of riots, arson & mob violence in the Kashmir valley of the Indian State of Jammu & Kashmir evoked an interest in knowing more about the issue at hand. After going through the sources of information available, one belief that was reiterated was that the nature of reporting and point of view adopted by the media houses [quite contrary to the view that the media houses should only report the news without voicing an opinion - it's the job of the reader] is based more keeping in mind commercial considerations than taking the plunge and asking the real hard pertinent questions that are bound to cause discomfort to people in the place of power.

Rioting, stone-pelting arsonists running their writ in the Kashmir Valley

Sharing some links of interest - by no means exhaustive but may help gain some perspective of the issue confronting us.

Article 370

Kashmir Article 370. You may read the full book here [chapter links on the right]

Brief History - Article 370

The truth about Article 370 [URL to e-book present on that page]

Essays & Books

Converted Kashmir - Memorial of Mistakes [e-book]. Also available on Scribd. A hard copy of the book may also be purchased here. Chapters of special interest - Governor Jagmohan, Article 370

Jammu & Kashmir:  Self-Determination, Demands for a Plebiscite and Secession

The Linguistic and Cultural Diversity of Kashmir

Pakistan's role in the Kashmir insurgency

Home Minister’s Statement in Parliament on Jammu & Kashmir

The truth on Kashmir and terrorism in India - US State Department report on Terrorism

Paradise lost

Terrorist role of Pakistan

Articles & Columns:

Stone throwers killed my child: Kulsooma

Naiveté in Srinagar

The Shadows in J & K

Why giving in to Kashmir -fatigue is not a good idea

Anarchy in the valley

My thoughts on Jammu & Kashmir - B. Raman

Forgotten people of Jammu & Kashmir: Refugees from POK

Dispatch: the politics of policing Kashmir

Kashmir Deal - Solution or Surrender?

Valencia to Valley, money passes - With Kashmir on the boil, trail from Spain blips on security radar

Kashmir survey finds no majority for independence

Hair cut fuels Sikh protest

Abrogate Article 370

The Ugly world of Kashmir's online rebels

Afghan heroin used to lure youths for stone pelting

Af-Pak Behind the Lines: Kashmir

Blogs, websites & News outlets:

Kashmir Information Network. Please take a look at its Book section - available for reading online

Panun Kashmir: A Homeland for Kashmiri Pandits

Roots in Kashmir

Rising Kashmir

Jammu & Kashmir Newspoint

Indo-American Kashmir Forum

Terror unleashed - An exhibition on Kashmir

The Kashmir [Please do check its Blogroll]

Kashmir Herald


Possibly related posts:

Suggested reading for the weekend 2010.06.19

How to make any Website a reader-friendly page

Suggested reading for the weekend

UCAV: How to wage a war from your living room

Reclaim ‘Bombay’ and ‘Bangalore’

Thursday, August 05, 2010

1945-1998: 53 Years, 2053 Nuclear detonations, 14 minutes

Came across an interesting work of animation prepared by a Japanese named Isao Hashimoto. Starting from the first Nuclear test detonation in 1945 at New Mexico by the Americans, it animates all the 2053 confirmed Nuclear test explosions till 1998, that culminates with India's Shakti-series of tests [that was preceded by the Smiling Buddha] and Pakistan's copycat Chagan-Chaman-whatever-it-is-they-called-theirs test. Since this animation was prepared in 2003, North Korea's 2 Nuclear tests remain undocumented here.

Set to a scale of 1 second denoting 1 month, & mapping the test locations on a map of the world, it gives us a sense of perspective of the mindset & prevailing threat perceptions during the Cold War era. Built primarily as a weapon of deterrence [thanks to MAD] & make policy statements*, one can see the mind-boggling frequency with which the power centers of the time tested their devices at the height of the Cold War - the animation goes bezerk with the light & sound display of Nuclear explosions during that period depicted.

Duration: 14 minutes 24 seconds


The video denotes only those Nuclear explosions that were backed by confirmatory data, the data having been sourced from the compendium Nuclear Explosions 1945-1998 published by the respected Stockholm-based organization SIPRI. Thus India is shown to have conducted a total 4 Nuclear tests, while Pakistan 2 and the Vela incident finds no mention.

* except in case of a certain nation that has been termed an "International migraine", who uses it to threaten the world with suicide


Possibly related posts:

Establishing a sustainable model for Electrically operated transports

The boy who built his own Nuclear Reactor

Russian Surface to Air Missile (SAM) Simulators

The girl who silenced the world for 5 minutes