An Unknown Indian

Thoughts of a FOSS enthusiast

Tributes to a doyenne of Carnatic music

Posted by Balachandran on July 18, 2009

The great D K Pattammal, the senior most carnatic musician  among the women is no more. The great artist, one of the women trinity of carnatic music passed away on 16th July, 2009 due to cardiac arrest. And with that, the world has lost the last surviving member of that great trinity.

Considered to be first women to give a full kutchery(concert), she was also considered  at par with most of very experienced musicians at a very early stage of her career. She has remained the authority not only on the complex and very puritanical Dikshitar compositions, but on the compositions of freedm figher-poet Subramaniya Bharathi and composer Papanasam Sivan as well.

Along with greats MS and MLV, Pattammal created a great legacy of carnatic music, really hard to find in these days, where true classical music concerts are a rare occurrence and the people interested in these great treasures is gradually reducing(Worse that those people are being mocked at by a few “modernised” ??? people).Well for now, salutations and tributes to D K Pattammal. May her rest in peace and Long live her kritis.

Posted in General | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

My first BOSUG meet

Posted by Balachandran on June 16, 2009

Hello folks, I attended my first BOSUG meet last Saturday(13th June, 2009) at the Sun office(Divyashree chambers).  Though the turnout was less, it was really a nice meeting and learnt quite a bit. And of course had the chance to attend the session of Max Bruning and had a chat with Moinak.

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Posted in Computers, FOSS, My days, OpenSolaris | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

The GNU Scientific Library – Numerical library from GNU

Posted by Balachandran on March 24, 2009

Hello folks, its been a long long time. Just thought of putting this tiny piece of info on GSL here. The GNU Scientific Library is a numerical library from the GNU. This is really useful for those who deal with complex mathematical functions day in and day out.

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FOSS and data privacy

Posted by Balachandran on December 23, 2008

Hello folks, A few days back, there was an OT thread in the ilugc, which eventually ran into the topic of data privacy and FOSS. A few people on the list were commenting that data privacy was of supereme importance in FOSS.(The original post).

       I had raised my views over there and wish to highlight them.

File access permissions:

In GNU/Linux, or any other UNIX, the default file access permissions are 755. This means that, the owner can read, write and execute the files. The users in the same group as the owner can read and execute only, and the other users in the system can also read and execute only. (The file access is actually the decimal notation of the bitmask for the r-w-x, where 1 means allowed. So 1-1-1 means read, write and execute and 111 in binary is 7 in decimal).

So this 755 permission by default essentially means that, anybody who has a login in that system can read and execute your files. So the concept of supreme data privacy is lost. Infact, with default settings,any user can read any file in a GNU/Linux system.

There are ofcourse ways to modify the defaul permissions and make it such that the owner can read-write-execute and others can’t do anything, by setting the permissions to 700 using the chmod command. To make this as the default property, the users can also make their umask to be 077. by default umask is set to 022(umask XOR 777 gives the file access permissions).

            There were references to RMS opposing could computing etc. citing that data privacy is lost. In my view,  the probable disadvantage of cloud computing is that data ownership might be lost. But from my understanding, there will be no changes to the privacy.

Posted in FOSS, GNU/Linux | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

What a match!!!!!!

Posted by Balachandran on December 15, 2008

         Hello folks, It was the greatest test match I have followed in recent times. What a thrill it was. Not even a 100 Twenty20s can equal the thril of this first test betwwen India and England at the great MAC, Cheapuk, Chennai. 

       It was thrilling right from day one and it should be said that India pulled a victory from the jaws of defeat. Or Englad lost very badly from a great advantage that they had at the close of ay 4 and the beginning of the first session of day 5.

      Thanks to the start by Shewag and Gambhir and the firm partnership between Sachin and Yuvraj, that was unbeaten till the end, India now has the fourth highest successful 4th innings run chase, worth 387 runs.

      Hope this develops an interest in test matches among the Twenty20 loving poeple.

Posted in Cricket | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

World’s first LTE mobile phone chip

Posted by Balachandran on December 10, 2008

          Hello folks, Having joined Moto, I am getting in touch with the latest developements in the mobile phones and wireless communication sector. And the news of the World’s first ever LTE mobile phone chip is a positive sign.

          LG has announced that it has created the world’s first ever LTE chip. For people who or not in this domain, LTE is the abbreviation for Long Term Evolution, a 4G technology aimed at high-speed wireless broadband and AIPN(All IP Network). It has promised really high data rates and the chip has not disspointed with 60Mbps download and 20Mbps upload rates. Also, theoritcally, mobile handovers are possible even while travelling at a few 100 kmph!!!

          Good time for movie addicts. Once the phones are out and the service is in, no more full night downloads are required. Theoritically, a 700 MB movie(one Compact Disk) can be downloaded in less than  a minute. Well, technology is fast developing and lets grab it with both hands.

Posted in General | 1 Comment »

Science, Mathematics and Engineering

Posted by Balachandran on December 9, 2008

          Hello folks,  a blog after a long time. This time it is the reflections of my thoughts as a result of a look-bask of four years of engineering. I agree that I might be at fault and am not attempting to push the blame around. But the complaint this time is the quality of Maths and Physics in the syllabus. 

         I had always believed that an engineer must be good at Maths and Physics, apart from his/her discipline. Actually in fact all engineering disciplines grew out of these 2 fundamental domains.

        But during the four years of engineering, I never was happy with the mathematics/physics that we had. In fact our(at least the BE CSE) knowledge of contemporary Physics is close to zero and that of application of Mathematics is no better.

        Most of the universities with engineering concentrate only on pass/fail of the students. No importance is given to understanding of the subject. I confess that I still don’t know one practical application where multiple integrals or partial differentiation is currently being used. All our lectures were centered around scoring marks in the exams and not on understanding the subject.

      The state of Physics is still worse. The only Physics course we had in our first semester was on some traditional concepts and after that we never had anything on Physics. I really don’t know how people understand architectures of computers without knowing much on the underlying Physics.

        Hope that the situation changes soon and people realize the importance of Mathematics and Physics to engineering courses.

Posted in My days | 2 Comments »

The “vi” nightmare

Posted by Balachandran on October 22, 2008

I have been having a nightmare for the past few days, since I got an account created for me in one of our company’s local server. The trouble is that the server running a nice operating system has only “vi”.  I really don’t know why when every other server has both vi and emacsAnd for someone who is used to emacs alone for the past few years(about 3 to 4 years ), moving to vi is a great nightmare. And the fact that it has no other editors, not even nano or pico is really troubling me. I often end up pressing Ctrl+e or Ctrl+A and something wierd happens.

And since it is not even vim, but plain old vi, it has made me start a frantic serach for possible ways of using vi with emacs key combinations. Any help from anyone ?

Posted in Computers, FOSS, My days | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Py3k looks like a new language

Posted by Balachandran on October 21, 2008

    Hi folks, another long gap. I had been trying to work with Py3k, but in vain. I had not updated myself even to Python 2.6, when I read about the release of RC1 for python 3.0(Py3k), and its documentation I was totally stunned to know that everything right from the basic “print” statement to the use of strings has changed. When I weent through the “What’s new”, I just understod that my knowledge has been just repositioned to 0(Though I need to agree that it was always close to zero 😦 ).

      Looking at all these, I am certain that all my previous code will shout hundreds of errors when I use the python3.0 interpreter with those code. Also, I had the habit of working with the python interpreter shell for quick needs. And now am getting errors very very frequesntly with that. Though I had been reading about the huge changes between the 2.x versions and the (then)impending 3.0 version for the past few months, I didn’t realise how grave it was until I started using the new version.

    Luckily, they have a converter that will convert code from the 2.6 version to the Py3k. And it seems they had made 2.6 with an hint of the appraoching storm. So, I think the best way to convert any old 2.x code of mine,  that I might want to use, to 3.0 is to convert the code to 2.6 first and then to 3.0 using the converter.


     Oh God, I think I have a new language to learn before I can say “I know something in Python”.

Posted in Computers, FOSS, My days | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

“Contributing” to FOSS and some rants on “mailing lists”

Posted by Balachandran on October 6, 2008

     The ‘Omlette” post of the list made by Mr. Atull Chitnis triggered me to write this post. I may be too dumb in not knowing what Mr. Atul Chitnis’ contribution to FOSS is. But definitely the omlette post was of the wrong tone, though its intentions were good. If you find this post harsh on you, I am really sorry Mr. Atul Chitnis.

{For those who had not gone through the post, here is the link,

      When Atul made his “Omelette post” to the mailing list, it created a huge uproar in it. The reason was he had called “translation” and “packagin” as low-hanging fruit. Then, after the large protest that it created, he made another “clarification” post through which he stressed that he was correct and that it ws the mistake of the list members that they didn’t know english. At point went to say that he is well versed in English and FOSS. Is that an outburst of his ego ? Does he mean to say that others are inferior to him in english ? Well, not just Atul, anyone who converses in english is that, it idioms are lifeless and depend much on the tone of the speaker. This is one good example of that. Though the idiom is not deregatory, the way he used it, that is, his tone was definitely demeaning. May be he is good at english and its idoms and other great tools. It is just that he doesn’t know how to talk or express.

      Without delving much into what Atul knows and what he doesn’t, I though of having a post on what all I think as a significant contribution to FOSS. First of all, every contribution is as important as every other one. Just like most graduates feel that testing inferior, there is a thought among a few people that jobs like distro specific packaging and translation is not that as great as writing a kernel. On the otherhand, the reality is that the person who translates a document or a man page into his/her native language knows much more than the person who implemented it, atleast from my view point. It is because, the person knows the intricacies of the software and in addition to that has a literary mind to translate a document from english or some other language to his/her own language.

      Coming to packaging, not everybody on this earth can compile, solve dependencies and install software on GNU/Linux. most people want to have it just like the windows world, that is a “Next… Next.. Finish” kind of installation. And when people feel that packaging for distros is not as great as actual coding, the software the those “geeks” code will be used noly by them and the geek community that surrounds them. It will never the reach the common man, who was the original intended user.

     I do agree that contribution in the form of code directly to the projects and kernel are of importance. But that doesn’t mean localisation, translation and distro specific packaging are not important. After all, when you target the third world audience, it is the latter that takes up higher priority.

     And coming to the language used in mailing lists… In a country like India(or any other country where english is not a native language), where you *should not* and *cannot* expect everybody to be an expert in english(yes, we are excellent in grammar, but we believe in simplicity. I personaly feel that there is no necessity for all those blows and whistles of idioms in a FOSS mailing list. You may be a excellent programmer. But keep it at that. You need not show off your english skills), you are supposed to send an email in simple english. For example, since is an ‘Indian” event, shall I post to its list in Hindi/Tamil/Kannada/… and complain when the non native sepakers of that language in the list don’t understand ? So, it must be uderstood that all users of a mailing list must write in such a way that the intended people get your message easily. If your intended target is just the elite english speaking community or the Hindi speakng community of the list, then please mention so.

Posted in FOSS, My days | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »