Friday, December 12, 2008

Flip HowTo

This is a very old idea, which I looked first at this site, and hence this post may not be that new, in terms of freshness of content. However, its always interesting :-).

Goto this site:

type something there and you will get like this:
:sıɥʇ ǝʞıl ʇǝƃ llıʍ noʎ puɐ ǝɹǝɥʇ ƃuıɥʇǝɯos ǝdʎʇ

(-: ǝɯɐs ǝɥʇ ǝɔuǝıɹǝdxǝ oʇ ǝɔuɐɥɔ ǝuo sı sıɥʇ '(ǝɯ ǝʞıl) ǝɟıl ɹnoʎ uı sʇdıɹɔs ʇɟǝl oʇ ʇɥƃıɹ pɐǝɹ ʇou ǝʌɐɥ noʎ ɟı ˙ʎsɐǝ os ʇou sʇı lɐɹǝuǝƃ uı ɥƃnoɥʇ uǝʌǝ 'llǝʍ sɹǝʇɔɐɹɐɥɔ uʍop ǝpısdn ǝɥʇ pɐǝɹ sʎɐʍlɐ uɐɔ noʎ 'ǝsnɐɔǝq unɟ sı sıɥʇ

Technical details:
This is possible because of unicode. Unicode has a huge set of character set. People were able to find a similar, corresponding upside down character for each character in the english alphabet.

If you are interested in what those characters are, here it is:
This is copy pasted straight from the page's source code.
var flipTable = {
a : '\u0250',
b : 'q',
c : '\u0254', //open o -- from pne
d : 'p',
e : '\u01DD',
f : '\u025F', //from pne
g : '\u0183',
h : '\u0265',
i : '\u0131', //from pne
j : '\u027E',
k : '\u029E',
//l : '\u0283',
m : '\u026F',
n : 'u',
r : '\u0279',
t : '\u0287',
v : '\u028C',
w : '\u028D',
y : '\u028E',
'.' : '\u02D9',
'[' : ']',
'(' : ')',
'{' : '}',
'?' : '\u00BF', //from pne
'!' : '\u00A1',
"\'" : ',',
'<' : '>',
'_' : '\u203E',
';' : '\u061B',
'\u203F' : '\u2040',
'\u2045' : '\u2046',
'\u2234' : '\u2235',
'\r' : '\n' //thank you, Yeeliberto

So as long as you have all these languages in your unicode font, you are really good to go in terms of getting things done (i mean upside down). If you have a complex language script (like say tamil or hindi), such a feat would be difficult, since tamil has horizontal lines at the bottom when character is flipped (think க as ab example). so its difficult to find an equivalent character. Same with hindi ( think of का - or for that matter any char as there is a line at the top for every character).

Friday, December 05, 2008

Donate with AdSense

This adhoc feature allows people to donate a part or whole of their earnings to Tides foundation, which will aid the relief efforts at Myanmar and China devastations.

Although I had some hand in this project as my small 20% percent, a lot of credit should go to Elizabeth.

See details here: Inside AdSense: Make your ad cents (and dollars) count

Go AdSense!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

gtalk2voip spams

When I was happy that the heysan trouble was over, here comes gtalk2voip. I guess I registered for this sometime back and now they send an IM saying that they have updated things.

Off-line message from: date: 20.11.2008 14:06:06

New feature on GTalk2VoIP:
Using Gmail voice chat to make or receive phone calls:

When will companies stop using IM to spam. IMs are tooooo intrusive.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Heysan the IM Virus/annoyance/nagchatware

If you are receiving a message that someone has tagged you in, and gives you a link, please dont click it. It seems to be a virus/whatever. The bot pinged me through so many people in the last few days, while they dint know that the bot was doing all these.

What kind of messages do you receive: tagged you in a photo on stole your cookies. To recover click on uploaded a new photo on commented on a photo on

None I know of, please ignore the message and keep moving. DONT CLICK IT.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Making libsvm work in Mac OS X - Matlab R 2008

It was painful to get libsvm on matlab working in Mac OS X. First was a false error.

Matlab threw some weird error like this:
expr: syntax error
/p/matlab/bin/util/mex/ line 13: [: too many arguments

and make did not work. SO I guessed that this was the error (which actually was not). On searching the net, I figured out that we should ignore this error and keep going.

The second was the issue with libsvm. The file make.m was referring .obj files while the makefile was generating .o files. So all .obj was to be search and replaced with .o. Things started working after that.

Hope this helps others who are struggling with libsvm and matlab in OS X.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Google News Blog: Google News: Now in தமிழ் (Tamil)

Google News Blog: Google News: Now in தமிழ் (Tamil)

Let me point to the latest Google release for the (Tamil koorum nallulagam) market. :-).
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Google news in Tamil. Tamil news stories aggregated from various tamil news sources and seperate category for Srilankan news, Google News Tamil rocks :-). In case you want to know who worked on it, its my dear friend Kiran Gunda and his teammates.

Everyone I know who reads tamil liked it (myself and my father as of now ;-) )...

Thank you Google!
(Obligatory thanks to Google for all the good food that added 10kgs to my weight).

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Trekking at Skandagiri

This blog post is about trekking to a place called Skandagiri (aka Kalavarahalli Betta - Betta in Kannada means hill). Nandi Hills is something most people in Bangalore know about, which you can see from Skandagiri. This trek was done by myself and my college friends (totaling 15 people). This place is 6km from Chick bellapur. At the foothills of Skandagiri is Papaghni mutt. From the mutt, it takes 4-6km walk to reach the top. I will split the blog into two parts. During the first part, I will stick to general info, for those who are planning to go trekking there and are here through Google search looking for more info. The second part is mostly my experience there.


View Map

You should be able to see Chick bellapur here. From there ask for Papagni Mutt and from there, you trek.

What time is it best to go?
Good question, it is good to go during times when it doesn't rain. We had people skid even though it was totally dry. Remember that, if its gonna rain, you have no shady place to take shelter. If you really meant time, its nice to see sunrise, so do a night trek. The ideal climate for trekking is to have clouds but not rain. The clouds stick below the hill. So you can see sun rise above the clouds, which is something you can see otherwise if you were a bird ;). It is a great idea to trek on Full moon day mostly because its easier to trek, as you will have some natural lighting. On an average, during weekends, the guide told me that around 1000 people trek, which is a fairly large number, by most standards.

How do you go there?
Pack all these:
1) Torch - very very important if you do night trek. I got a three LED bulb torch that cost like 120 Rs. It was very powerful and I should say, the brighter torch you have, the easier it is to climb.
2) Water and Snacks - Pack as much snacks and water as possible. Remember that every snack you take up, you will have to carry apart from your body weight. So be choosy of what U want to take up. Please don't litter at the top of the mountain. We saw a lot of Lays packets at the top. Now that you have carried so much snack items to the top, it wont take a lot of effort for you to get them to the foothill. Collect all of them in a plastic cover, come down and drop them near the dustbin near the mutt. Its not tough to do. Also don't empty the water bottles on the way down. You could do better service to others than to make a slippery path for them to climb. (sorry for preaching, but we did face/see all these).
3) Shoes and Jerkin - Wear the shoes and go, keep the jerkin in your bag. When you climb, you will sweat, so its a nice idea not to wear it (I wore it, it was stinking when I reached top). Also check the grip in your shoes. No point if it skids - you are going to climb up the hill.
4) Cash - (credit cards don't work ;) )
If you are taking a vehicle (cab/ van etc), then the spending for you will be this:
Rs. 225 for trekking in wild - permit (We had 15 people climbing up).
Rs. 400 for the guide - You can find guides in the night waiting there on Sat and Sunday. Other days, it seems that they don't allow beyond 1 AM or something. So if u are trekking on a non-sat-sun, be early there. Our total expense per head ended up Rs 370. It becomes cheaper with more people sharing the conveyance expense.

How much time does it take to trek up from Mutt?
It takes 2 hours if you can climb up fast. If you are average climber it should take 2.5 hours. If you are slow climber, it should take 3-3.5 hours. More than that, check your health if you are young :p.

What do you do after you reach top (can be rephrased as: What to do there)?
Actually nothing ;) Once you reach the top, till the sunrises, you have nothing else to do other than eat and sleep (and probably star gazing which I will describe momentarily).

When should I get back?
After you watch the sunrise, get yourself off the mountain. Its going to get hotter and you will sweat. If you climb down with the sun overhead, its really not a pleasant climb down. (We started at 7 AM and reached down at 9:15 AM). By the time we reached the bottom, we were all exhausted and the sun overhead can be more irritating. Since you haven't had sleep the whole night, its even more irritating. So get off the cliff after the sun rises. Personally, I found that it was far more difficult getting down the cliff and your knee trembles. DO NOT do a free fall walking/running down the path. That is very dangerous.

PART 2 - My Experience:

Monday, March 17, 2008

Why is it not so easy to sell apples in ISS

This post is as a result of watching a few engedu talks on space station (totaling over 3.5 hours).

Whatever technical details I describe are from talks that are a combination of what Edward Lu, Daniel Bursch and Jim Newman describe about the international space station, the Soyuz, MIR, space shuttle, weightlessness and other related stuffs. Whatever you read below will be minor(?) details for the actual content of this post: "Why it is not so easy to sell apples in International Space Station", even though there is a lucrative market :).

The International Space Station:
Well first of all, the International Space Station is the (only) inhabited place outside the earth. It’s the place to be, if you are not on earth. International Space station is a joint effort from US, Russia and the ESA (European Space Agency). The economics in the space station cargo transfer is like this. It is cheaper to take something into space (roughly $10000/kg) but its costlier to bring it back (roughly $30000/kg). So it’s cheaper to take apples to the space station, sell it, but it’s not so cheap to bring the empty bag back to earth.

Some extra info: The only vehicle that is capable of taking cargo on large quantities is the Space Shuttle. Space shuttle can carry cargo close to 10 tons(!) whereas the Soyuz module has very less cargo capability (typically in Kgs).

How do you reach there?
There are currently two ways to reach (3 in the future with ESA coming up). Use the Space Shuttle or the Soyuz vehicle.

About Space Shuttle and Soyuz: Space Shuttle is a billion dollar transfer vehicle. For a successful liftoff, we need to ensure that more than few hundreds of critical parts work without glitch. Edward Lu talks about "Simple is Good" strategy which the Russians adopted (partly due to the fact that they didn’t have lot of funding). There are several failure modes in Space Shuttle, whereas the Soyuz has very few failure modes, and is pretty simple to use (due to less complexity).

Getting Ready for Space to sell my apples:
Launch Preparation:
To get myself ready to sell apples, first I need to choose which of these two transfer vehicles I need to get to space. I will try to put the details first for both. We shall defer the decision to choose which of these vehicles at a later time (or when I actually go to space to sell my apples).
There are two roles in which one can enter the International Space Station (henceforth ISS). One could enter as an astronaut or as space station visitor(think of Charles Simonyi). As a space station apple seller, one could choose either of these roles. For the former, one needs to enroll in the Astronaut program. Well for the later, you need something like 40-50 Million dollars.

Reaching as a Space Visitor:
Even though you are just a space visitor, you are given a 3 months intense training in weightlessness (which usually comprises of weightlessness training, swimming, parachuting and stuffs like learning to operate the space shuttle/Soyuz control systems, learning how to fly them).

In general, the space visitor is not expected to fly the shuttle/Soyuz, but learn to get out in case of emergency. Most of the astronauts/cosmonauts are not civilians and are often skilled & commercial pilots. In fact, Ed Lu suggests that around 50% of all Astronauts are not civilians). In any case, you need to invest time and money to sell apples in space :).

Reaching as an Astronaut:
To enroll in the astronaut program, one has to qualify for very specific height requirements. Its much more stringent in the Soyuz. The shortest in the Soyuz is like 5'2" and the tallest is like 6'2" or something like that. In general, the Russian average height is lesser than that of the Astronaut limitations. In fact, the Russians have stringent limitations for leg length, arm length etc., the astronaut training program is for 2 years at least. The cosmonaut training is also for almost the same time. In some cases where you are an Astronaut commanding/flying the Soyuz, things get different (like what Ed Lu experienced). The Russians have a stringent training and an exam at the end. During the training, one is trained on a simulator located at space center near Moscow. At the end of training, the cosmonaut usually have a *formal* test. A chit is taken out of the chits on which is written possible worst day scenario. The cosmonaut is put on simulator with the scenario and they test the cosmonaut's response to the situation. Only those who are able to handle them successfully will be able to fly the Soyuz. Although the Astronauts in US don’t have such stringent rules, one certainly has to qualify the training.

Getting to space station through the Shuttle:
If you are getting to the space station from Shuttle, you have to be at the Florida Shuttle Launch center. Each astronaut is allowed to take a few kg load(s) of personal cargo. If we are going to sell apples after becoming astronaut, it’s pretty logical to carry those apples in the personal load. Ah! Did I forget to tell you that actually there are few apples and fresh fruit loads that are sent by the Mission Command on the cargo loads that reach the ISS! (OMG, we already have a competitor). Both the Space Shuttle launch and the Soyuz launches have their own rituals. Every space shuttle mission has a name like STS-# (e.g.: STS-109 etc) and they have a logo for the mission, which represents what the mission is. For example, if we could influence the Mission Command about our apple selling, we could have apple somewhere in the mission logo :). The other ritual is the Mission Commander getting down the space van and checking the weather before the flight. The Mission Commander/director usually gives this statement before lift off - "Good Luck, and God save you if you screw up".

A week before the actual shuttle launch one is quarantined. Hence, you should choose the kind of apple that you want to take to the space station before that. Also, it is important that you have someone you know all along, who is in the mission command around to provide you fresh apples before you embark on the space shuttle. It is generally said that the reason for quarantine is to ensure that the astronauts don’t catch any diseases and fall sick. Guesses are that the true reason is that the last one-week is crucial to a successful mission and hence one should not possibly be disturbed. Quarantine helps on that front.

The space shuttle is a huge vehicle, which is always kept facing the sky when it is assembled with the solid rocket boosters. These solid rocket boosters are fueled a day or something before the space mission. Hence, there is always a cost associated with refueling the boosters if one chooses to postpone the mission. There are huge cranes that transfer the space shuttle from the hangar to the launch pad.

Being solid boosters to blast off, the journey during the initial phase with solid boosters is usually not really smooth. But once the solid booster phase is over, the ride becomes really smooth to the ISS. The space shuttle should orbit in paths same as ISS when it wants to dock. So, the space shuttle gets into the 200km altitude orbit. Also, generally the space shuttle does not dock into the ISS 2 hours after liftoff; it takes a day to get into the orbit it requires as well as ensuring all the necessary precautions are taken.

To tell about the space shuttle, it has 5 computers on board for running the space shuttle-by-wire. 4 of them do the same calculation and verify if the results are same and the 5th one is a different computer from a different vendor that is a failsafe (standby) computer that takes control when the 4 computers bluff. On a side note (about space station, not the shuttle), most of the Space station design ideas are flicked from Nuclear Submarine. Do you know the reason why? The Space station is subject to the same radiation problems that Nuclear Submarines face!. You write a bit as 1 in memory and after seven hours read it back, and it may not be the same 1!!!. Some astronauts have reported random bright lights in their eyes while sleeping, most of which are random retina neuron firing due to the radiations.

Docking into the ISS is a critical step in the whole apple-selling mission (you are reaching your market!). There have been previous incidents in MIR (Russian space station) where Soyuz cargo had collided with MIR at great speed! Also, the general rule of the thumb in space is, if you want to go slow, you should never speed down, you will go fast! (I don’t know why it’s that way). Space shuttles that want to slow down usually go at larger orbits than ISS and then return back....

Getting to space station through the Soyuz:
If you are getting to the space station through Soyuz, you generally have a 1-year training period, if you are the commander and a 3-month odd training if you are a traveler along. The launch assembly is at the Baikonur cosmodrome and the place nearby where the rocket launch pad exists. Flying on the Soyuz can happen only if you pass the training and the test. Assuming we have done that, there are a lot of Russian rituals that happen. Before blasting off to space, the day before, the cosmonauts visit the Kremlin, visit the graveyards of Yuri and the Father of Russian Cosmonautics, Konstantin and pay respect to them. After that, they sign the register in Yuri's desk.

In general, the Russian technology has always been to let the rockets sleep when they assemble (I mean to lay them horizontal). At Baikonur, there is a train track to move the rockets to the launch pads. They have little worry like the Space Shuttle to ensure that the shuttle is always erect when transported, as they are made erect only on the day of launch using huge cranes.

Getting into the Soyuz involves taking elevator from the top (uh! then its not elevating ;) )of the rocket. It is a two-hour wait after the cosmonauts board the Soyuz in their space suits and check their pressure/temperatures. As a shrewd Apple seller, one should just mentally count how many apples one has taken, and how to sell them once reaching the ISS (the market).

And then you blast off into space. The rockets are liquid fueled unlike solid boosters. Hence the journey is much more smoother. However, when one stage ends and the other stage starts, there is a 4G to 0G to back to 4G again.. The mission commander on board the Soyuz has a checklist that he has to keep ticking off to ensure that the launch goes smooth. As a Soyuz passenger, we are anyway in constant touch with the base to ensure that launch steps are not missed. Once you are into space, the travel is smooth and the only destiny in space is the ISS :).

Spending six months in the space station - What to do beyond selling apples?
Well, didn’t I tell you that you have to be in the space station for 6 months, as a part of the ISS crew apart from selling apples? (I know I didn’t ;-) ). If you came back immediately after selling your apples, you are going to stare at a huge "space flight" bill. So, it’s a wise idea to actually do something similar to an RA/TA thing for the Houston Mission command for 6 months and reduce the space flight bill. :) Words of Wisdom: A wise businessmen always reduces his liability. Once you are close to the space station in whatever (Soyuz/ shuttle), on docking, the first thing that is done is pressure equalization. Get the ISS habitants near the hatch, because that is the time they are going to smell something. When the pressure is equalized, make sure you keep your apples close to the pressure notch, so that the smell reaches the other end and your potential customers are enticed. ISS has state-of-the-art air purification system. Hence after a few minutes the smells vanish rapidly. People who have been to the space station tell you that the ISS smells like "nothing".

Once the ISS hatch is opened for you, get out and get your cargo (apples) along and keep it in some safe place. Get yourself comfortable and sell apples :). The better businessmen you are, the more you can sell. Sell all your apples and get ready to dump the empty bag somewhere in the station (ESA Cargo dock? what say?).

Now that you have 6 months at your disposal at the station, try out your luck at all things that you can do. Weightlessness is the best thing. Try the superman stunts that you cant do on earth. ISS is like a 1000 square foot house on earth, but remember that in ISS there is nothing called roof. Human has access only to the ground of a house. At ISS you have access to every corner and hence ISS might appear much bigger than that.

If you ever wanted to get out of the ISS on a walk (space-walk), you need to get your pressure down first. From 15 psi to 5psi on the Russian space suite and 4psi on the American space suite. The time to prepare for the space walk is usually 2 hours on American space suite. People usually have a heavy workout before space walk, to remove nitrogen from body. The Russian space suite requires lesser time to prepare for space walk. The American space suite has a thread that always connects to the ISS, whereas in the Russian suite, the astronaut has 2 prongs, each on one hand. The space suite has enough radiation prevention system to ensure that the inner temperature is in the 20 degree centigrade range. But the space walker has to face his own body heat. So usually, the space walker has water cooled under wears :D.. sounds cool? ;)

Other job that one could do on the space station is to take photographs of cities and sell them when back :D (oh! well, not really sell as all photos astronauts take are on public domain). Also, you could go over auroras and enjoy like being inside the neon-bulb. Auroras are of different colors based on the magnetic intensity and other factors (which I don’t know of). One naive thing most people do when on zero gravity first is to try doing somersaults on the gravity less surrounding, which sounds cool the first time being weightless, but gets natural (since you have already played all those games when doing your training in weightlessness on ground). For your entertainment, we also have a DVD player on the space station and some nice movies to play.

Six months is quite some time and people often start getting depressed in their 3rd month on board the ISS. It is important to understand that and get one's act together. After all, now that you have sold your apples, your idea now is not to quarrel among the inhabitants, but to reduce your space flight bill.

Flying back to Earth:
Flying back to earth can happen only when the next crew comes back to the ISS. Flying back can happen with the same 2 possibilities like the way you reached the space station. Either on the Soyuz or the Space Shuttle. The journey back to earth is much more dangerous than the other way (oh well you could say the other way as well). When any rock/item passes through the earth's atmosphere, it faces rapid friction and burn up on the earth's atmosphere. That’s why our earth's surface is not pimpled like that of the moon :-). Your space vehicle will not be spared, it is also going to be subject to the same thing. Temperatures outside the vehicle can get from anywhere between thousand degrees to around 4-5 thousand and beyond (correct me if I m wrong here). The space shuttle crews often seen bright light all along the sides of the shuttle (due to the rapid heat that burns outside) and a broken tile is an impending disaster, as the heat can reach the inside through the broken tile. No wonder Columbia shuttle mission ended up on a sad note.

On the Soyuz it’s rather less eventful, mostly because you are sitting inside a vehicle and unable to see much outside as a crew member (the commander can see outside, I guess). The attack vector of the Soyuz is much more than the Space shuttle. Hence, it is easy to maneuver the Soyuz in case of issue to few hundred miles on either side (or left and right). The last 5 miles in the Soyuz is always a guess, because there is a parachute involved and it can lead you anywhere in a designated radius. The Space shuttle lands in a standard space shuttle track and there is one on either coasts (Land on Mojave Desert or on the east coast). In the Soyuz, you take a few hours to get to a safe place, because you land in Kazakhstan, in the middle of nowhere and the Russian rescue helicopters get you into a make-shift tent to get you warm, you get a hot cup of coffee or something and then take you to the Space Center near Moscow, where they have the media circus and then they leave you home. It is common for local folks near the landing site in Kazakhstan come and see the cosmonauts, because they believe it gives great luck to one when one sees those "people from space" :).

[The Fun Part] Lets put the balance sheet for the business:
Time Investment:
As Astronaut/ Cosmonaut: 2 Years for Training, another 1 year (or a fast track 9 weeks) if learnt to fly Shuttle but end up flying Soyuz.
As Space Tourist: 3 months for training at Russia, 2 weeks on board the ISS and 6 months if you decide to stay there for 6 months to foot your bill. (In truth if you stay longer at ISS the cost gets higher, lets forget that for the moment).

Money Investment:
As Astronaut/ Cosmonaut: Several million dollars on the simulators in US and Russia. Your portion of the cost of blast off into space and well, cost for essential supplies that you use up on the space station (water, oxygen, electricity etc) and of course the apples that you took to the space station.
As Space Tourist: 40 million dollars to get to the space station for those few days in ISS.

Wisdom: A lot of wisdom on space in general, which obviously cannot be a part of the balance sheet :(.
Selling Apples: Of course, we went there to sell apples, so our return on investment will certainly not be zero :). The shrewder businessman you are the costlier you can sell. The bigger problems with selling those apples are the point that if you were on the Shuttle to ISS, you won’t reach there so early to have fresh apples. But you can carry a lot more on the shuttle to ISS. If you were on Soyuz, you have very little space to carry such things. Another big problem is the fact that the customers on board the ISS may not be wealthy enough to buy your apples for millions of dollars to make the business viable. As they are also co-astronauts like you, they might end up to be your competitors.

What’s the final say?
It is not a viable business plan to sell apples on the Space station (as you might have guessed).

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Why flying with Superman is dangerous

This blog post is all about explaining why flying (as a human) with Superman (being carried by him), is a not so great thing. This post is basically about trying to reason something logical with illogical assumptions, hence does not hold any real world value, but a lot of fun value.

1) Superman can fly and can attain super sonic speeds. There is something myseterious about his body and its perfectly aerodynamic - enough drag and lift to keep him in the sky(and hence does not retard his speed due to poor aerodynamics).

What are the problems:
1) Speed: Superman can attain supersonic speed. But there are problems that arise when he carries someone with him. Superman cannot attain Mach1 (1225 km/hour), because the Sonic Boom will cause temporary or permanent loss of hearing for the human with him (mostly because of the large problems associated with boom). Another assumption here: Sonic boom is usually associated with objects that are aerodynamic - and as said above, I assume Superman is aerodynamic. Another thing to consider with speed is the air friction. Althought I don't have statistics to quantify at what speed a normal human's dress would start burning, I can make a guess that air friction could burn out at high speeds. So, superman watch out when flying at high speeds along with a human. However, it is to be noted that superman is not subject to the air friction problem, because of some mysterious reason, his clothes never catch fire. :-)

2) Altitude/Height: Superman, as seen in TV, can even fly to space(where there is no oxygen) and come back with no issues. However, when he carries someone with him, he needs to ensure there is enough oxygen in air for the human. Anything above 18000 feet is death zone (roughly 5500 meters). There are other problems when superman flies with someone at higher altitudes. There should be significant radar signature for superman(with person). Hence, when superman enters a country's airspace, he could get picked up by defense systems. In the 1980s, a soviet airdefense personnel found radar blips, for which he did not inform his bosses about the blip and made a surmise that it cannot be US missiles, because he believed, if US had to attack, it would never attack with a few missiles, it would be a large fleet. It was eventually found that it was sunlight reflected from clouds (a false alarm). Read the story here. If Petrov had not been the air defense personnel in command and if Superman enters the air space of Soviets, he could even be one of the reasons for the cold war to have become a nuclear war.

What should superman do when a supersonic missile is fired at him? This is a tough question. Assuming that superman anyway cannot fly very high, he should make every effort to first reach the ground, drop the person and then go back to air and then fly hypersonic/ultrasonic/whatever and then destroy the missile, like he has been doing all throughout the superman story :-). The reason he has to fly back after dropping the person is that, if he doesn't, he would be hit by the missile. Being superhero, he does not suffer any damage :p, but the human will.. :).

In order to avoid the radar problem, superman has to fly at very low heights. In that case, he will have to be careful about the sudden change in topography, a gorge, a mountain etc. Also, there is this weird problem of having to be the target of some random AK47 or RPG when flying over Afghanistan. Hence, superman's flying with a person is not going to be that easy :).

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

My Maldives Trip

The trip was between 3rd and 6th Feb 2008.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Go Green!!!

A month back at the NGEF - Old Madras Road junction, I had a really memorable incident. The cab I was sitting was waiting to join the Old Madras Road. As usual there were quite a few 2 wheelers, cabs, buses all lined to join the Old Madras Road, as if there weren't enough vehicles already on it.

The traffic cop did something remarkable. There were quite a few cycles waiting on the left of the junction to join Old Madras Road(OMR) towards the city. The cop stopped vehicles both sides of OMR, gave a safe pass for all the cycles. A few of the two wheelers also tried to join the party, but were denied entry. Once the cycles were on OMR, the cop let traffic on both sides of Old Madras Road. After a few minutes he allowed vehicles from NGEF side to join OMR. I was really astonished. Its possibly the few times when I have seen cycles given preferential treatment. I was really happy that day.

I remembered my days at Cisco, when I used to cycle to work. It was always a big fight for a cycle near the trinity circle to justify its presence. There were vehicles all around who would keep honking even though there is no space on the left, because the cycle obviously was slow. Also, the amount of pollution and dust at these junctions put off cycle riders.

I know that the incident I saw was really sporadic and the probability of seeing a similar incident holds same probability of me winning the Lottery and distributing the amount to all readers of my blog :D. But, I sincerely believe that this is probably the way to go for a greener Bangalore and my best appreciations goes to the cop :-).

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