Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Today's run

Edit 2008-05-29:
I just realized that viewing the map on google maps is better than viewing on MapMyRun. So here is the same run on Google maps (To get this just paste the link of the KML file in google maps search box and then click on 'Link to this page' which will show the code to embed. The KML file already has to be hosted on the web somewhere, and MapMyRun does just that):

View Larger Map

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


There were very high expectations of four records being broken if Michel Fournier went to the edge of the space. But the balloon left without Michel Fournier and hence there will be no free fall from 40 km height. What an anti-climax!
Here is the entire story from BBC News: Link

Image from

Monday, May 26, 2008

Spectacular photo of Phoenix landing

This is one of the best photographs I have ever seen. The Mars Orbiter shot a picture of Phoenix when it was parachuting down at 1.7 times the speed of sound (remember all this was happening in Mars, about 275 million km away from here!)

Free fall from 40 km!

I hope Michel Fournier makes it safe on earth after his free fall from a balloon from a height of 40 km (for those metrically challenged and still follow archaic units it is 25 miles or 130,000 ft). At that height he will be able to see the curvature of the earth and also the darkness of space since the atmosphere is so thin at that height. If he succeeds in this mission he will break 4 world records: fastest freefall (he will break the sound barrier), longest feefall, highest parachute jump, highest balloon flight. See Link.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Today's Run

Edit 2008-05-29, On google maps:

View Larger Map

Landed again on Mars !

A few seconds back the Phoenix landed near the North Pole of Mars!

Karnataka Election Results

Just heard about assembly election results of Karnataka. Seems like BJP will form the government. I guess as long as they don't show their fundamentalist colors, it will be ok.
Here are the results:

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Indiana jones and Kingdom of the Crystal skull

A very entertaining movie! Definitely worth watching it in the theater.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Friday, May 23, 2008

A rose is a rose is a rose - are you sure??

Well if you gave a rose to independent scientists and to industry affiliated scientists, they would not agree. How do I know? Well they were not able to agree on the effects of Bisphenol A. This chemical is found in many hard plastics like polycarbonate which are in reusable bottles and many many other products (6 billion pounds of this chemical produced in a year in US alone). Almost all of the independent scientists agree (based on their tests) that this chemical has adverse effects on the human body and can cause cancer and reproductive problems even in minute quantities. But on the other hand, scientists funded by companies which produce this chemical, refute this completely and came up with publications claiming there are not adverse effects in low quantities and also sometimes even beneficial to us! Now do I need to tell you where is the truth?
I came to know of this issue through a report on the PBS on how a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter uncovered the truth. Check out the article on

Downloading tracklog files from MIO C220 GPS

MIO C220 GPS does not allow you to download the tracklogs. A very small change to a data file is required to enable the transfer of the tracklog gpx files. This webpage describes how to download the GPX files from MIO C220 in detail: Link (Worked for me without a problem.)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Geo Tagging

I have a lot of photos most of which have time stamps. But it is more useful to have a 'geo-stamp' , that is, a location stamp for the photo. Most cameras (atleast until now) do not have GPS chips. But there is a very simple automated method to get geo stamps.

All that you need is any camera and a very simple GPS unit (need not have any fancy map or anything).

Set the time on camera:
Before you go and shoot pictures make sure that you set the time of your camera very accurately (to within seconds). Setting the time on the camera accurately is the key for geo-tagging this way. Time is the only common parameter for the photos taken and the GPS track logs. So if the time is off then the lattitude and longitude will also be off based on how fast you were moving at the time of taking the picture.

GPS Receiver track log:
Switch on your GPS receiver and start recording your track. Most GPS units automatically record in either GPX or NMEA formats. Either is fine.
Take as many pictures you want but be sure to carry the GPS along with you (in your pocket or bag at all the times).

After you have taken all the pictures, you now need to use a software called gPicSync (a free open source software which can be downloaded here:

Step by step:

  • Download and install the gPicSync.
  • Open gPicSync.

  • Select the folder in which your photos are located.
  • Select the the folder in which the GPS track is located.
  • Set the time offset: You would have set the time on the camera to local time. But the GPS records all the time in UTC (GMT). So the program would have to know what is the difference between your time and UTC. For San Francisco it is -7 (when day light saving time is on). For India it would be +5.5.

  • Then click on synchronize button.

  • Voila! you are all done ! All your pictures now have a the latitude and longitude information in the EXIF data. If you upload them to picasaweb or flickr, they can be shown on a map with no effort at all!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Converting GPX to KML files

GPX files are the most common format used for GPS tracklog files. But Google Earth accepts only KML files. Hence the need for a converter. I found this software called GPS Babel which converts GPX files to KML Files.

Here is a step by step instruction for converting GPX to KML:

  • Click on "Let's go"
  • You should now see the following text in the message window
  • gpsbabel.exe -p "" -w -r -t -i gpx -f "C:\TEMP DEL\Track saved on 2007-07-29 15_18_24.gpx" -o kml -F "C:\TEMP DEL\Track saved on 2007-07-29 15_18_24.kml"
  • And then:

  • Now you are ready to use the KML file. You can double click on the KML file that was just created to see the track log in Google Earth !

In my next post, I will probably list the steps that I followed to extract the track logs from my MIO C220 GPS to my computer.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Another clip on Clinton!

Seems like everyone now wants to poke fun at Hillary Clinton (rightly so):

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Hillary is 404

A humorous take on Hillary's failure:

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

We now know who the nominee will be!

It is time for Clinton to just drop out. There is no way she can get enough popular vote or get enough delegates to make it on her own. If she stays in the race anymore, it means that she is in the race only to help McCain and Republicans.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Salman Rushdie

Got to see Salman Rushdie! He gave an interesting talk on how public and personal lives have started merging.
Also Rushdie does not like Google's plan of making all the books available online. Says it violates copyright laws and amounts to stealing.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Mexico in San Jose for a Day

Today is Cinqo de Mayo : I was in Mexico for a day right here in San Jose!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Funny democratic ad!

Windows Vs Ubuntu


Program typeWindows Cost ($)LinuxCost ($)


Microsoft Office150Open office Word Processor0


Word processingMicrosoft Office Word
Open Office Word Processor


SpreadsheetMicrosoft Office Excel
Open Office Spreadsheet


PresentationMicrosoft Powerpoint
Open Office Presentation


Drawing, Flowcharts etcMicrosoft Visio150Open Office Draw0


Web BrowserFirefox


Email ClientThunderbird


Desktop SearchGoogle Desktop
Google Desktop


Photo ManagementPicasa


Video PlayerVLC



5 years since mission accomplished !

Quite an accomplishment indeed: Link

Monday, April 28, 2008

John McCain's true intelligence exposed

Carefully watch the part of video where he talks about economy:

A very interesting video on how we are all hooked to consuming things and how it is affecting our environment and health:

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Rev. Wright

After watching Bill Moyer's interview with Rev. Wright and after watching today's speech by Rev. Wright, I think it was quite unfair on the part of media to project him as some kind of a an uneducated freak who by some chance had become a pastor and was leading a sect. From watching the entire interview and the entire speech, I have had a chance to get a bigger picture of this very educated and witty personality.Actually the speech was quite informative and entertaining!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Upgrading from Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon) to Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron)

Fastest method to upgrade your existing installation of ubuntu to 8.04 s to download using torrent. In my case I currently use Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon) on a PC. So I followed the following steps:

1. Download Alternate Setup CD for Ubuntu (Use the torrent version: ubuntu-8.04-alternate-i386.iso.torrent ) from the page (Do not download the regular live cd. The regular cd is for a fresh install and not for upgrading).

2. After it has been downloaded, right click on the file and click 'Write to Disc'.

3. After the CD has been written, eject and insert in the cd rom drive of the computer that needs the ubuntu upgrade.

4. A window pops up automatically: Click Run Upgrade

5. (After that it asks whether you want to download the latest updates,Click on Yes.

6. Press close when the following window pops up.

7. Click on Start Upgrade:

8. Ubuntu does the rest:

9. While cleaning up, on the following window click on 'Remove':
10. Remove the CD before you click on restart:

11. Enjoy !

( Endolith suggests a way without having to use a CD. See Link . I have not tested this non-CD method though.)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Great Music

I just can not get any of the songs in this batch of All Songs Considered (especially the Raconteurs).


Saturday, April 19, 2008

George Stephanopoulos

George Stephanopoulos while interviewing Stephen Hadley (President Bush's National Security Advisor) fails to realize that Hadley was making an error while referring to Nepal instead of Tibet.
The American media is accelerating its sinking in the dirt.
See the video here:

Friday, April 18, 2008


ABC Democrat Debate was quite pathetic. The moderators asked questions on topics that nobody was interested in. There was no question about the US economy or about the health sector which are the main concerns of most Americans. Why would the moderators instead stoop to a very low level and ask questions about issues that are fit only for a tabloid?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Tired of Windows

I have gotten sick and tired of Windows and have completely shifted to Ubuntu. Windows was very very slow and last year I installed Ubuntu in a dual boot mode. Now I feel that I do not need windows at all. So have completely wiped out windows and now my computer runs only on Ubuntu and it is awesome.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Protests atop Golden Gate

Seems like the protests have already begun in full swing two days before the olympic torch arrived here in San Francisco. A banner was unfurled atop Golden Gate (Link). What are we going to see next?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Peabody judges listen to me !

On April 1, I declared my favorite program to be the radio show: Wait Wait Don't Tell Me. On April 2nd, the same program is awarded the Peabody award!

Olympic Torch relay in San Francisco on April 9th

The Olympic torch will go through the streets of San Francisco on April 9. This is going to be a very interesting event. San Francisco will be the only city to host the Olympic torch relay in North America. San Francisco also probably has the highest concentration of human rights groups and people who are ready to protest at the drop of a hat.Now that we also had some incidents in Tibet we can only expect to see record number of protesters in the streets of San Francisco on April 9.

Also it so happens that San Francisco Bay area is a hot bed for creativity and entrepreneurship. So we can definitely expect to see a lot of creative ideas these protesters will come up with. In my opinion it will be an interesting spectacle to see!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Radio always rocks!

Some of the best programmes are not on the TV but are on the radio: my favourite - Wait Wait Don't Tell Me.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

India: Country of Billionaires!

I was quite pleasantly surprised to find 4 Indians in the top 10 billionaires of the world. Indians have been making a distinct mark in the world economy and things are looking up for India.
As much as I am happy about seeing a lot of Indians making more wealth, I am just as much concerned about increasing divide between the richest and the poorest in India. I also hope that more wealth percolates down to the poorer people of India over time.

Here is the list of billionaires from the most 'trustworthy' Wikipedia:

Name Net worth (USD) Citizenship Residence
Sources of wealth
&&&&&&&&&&&&&&01.&&&&&01 Buffett, WarrenWarren Buffett $62.0 billion Flag of the United States United States Flag of the United States United States Berkshire Hathaway
&&&&&&&&&&&&&&02.&&&&&02 Slim Helú, CarlosCarlos Slim Helú $60.0 billion Flag of Mexico Mexico Flag of Mexico Mexico Telmex, América Móvil
&&&&&&&&&&&&&&03.&&&&&03 Gates, BillBill Gates $58.0 billion Flag of the United States United States Flag of the United States United States Microsoft
&&&&&&&&&&&&&&04.&&&&&04 Mittal, LakshmiLakshmi Mittal $45.0 billion Flag of India India Flag of the United Kingdom United Kingdom Arcelor Mittal
&&&&&&&&&&&&&&05.&&&&&05 Ambani, MukeshMukesh Ambani $43.0 billion Flag of India India Flag of India India Reliance Industries
&&&&&&&&&&&&&&06.&&&&&06 Ambani, AnilAnil Ambani $42.0 billion Flag of India India Flag of India India Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group
&&&&&&&&&&&&&&07.&&&&&07 Kamprad, IngvarIngvar Kamprad and family $31.0 billion Flag of Sweden Sweden Flag of Switzerland Switzerland IKEA
&&&&&&&&&&&&&&08.&&&&&08 Pal Singh, KushalKushal Pal Singh $30.0 billion Flag of India India Flag of India India DLF Group
&&&&&&&&&&&&&&09.&&&&&09 Deripaska, OlegOleg Deripaska $28.0 billion Flag of Russia Russia Flag of Russia Russia Rusal
&&&&&&&&&&&&&010.&&&&&010 Albrecht, KarlKarl Albrecht $27.0 billion Flag of Germany Germany Flag of Germany Germany ALDI, Trader Joe's

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Scientific Temper

The biggest challenge of the 21st century would be inculcating scientific temper in students. Why so?

There are a number of parties have vested interests in preventing the scientific temper from spreading. The recent and still on-going saga of Evolution vs Intelligent design is only a precursor to other stumbling blocks that that are expected in the path of expanding our scientific knowledge.

Why are people with no scientific backgrounds allowed to propose theories and also expect them to be taught in schools? If the few who are are so convinced of Intelligent design theory, why can't they come up with evidence to validate such a theory? Why don't such people publish in scientific journals so that the rest of the scientific community can scrutinize and evaluate the theory? But instead the Intelligent design community discusses the postulates and theories in the media with pundits who have absolutely no knowledge about biology or science. These people want science textbooks to add a note saying Evolution is only a theory and there are other plausible theories that could explain the diversity in the living organisms. I do not dispute the fact that there could be other theories, but why do they only stop with Evolution? How about Newton's theory of gravitation, Relativity, Quantum mechanics and on and on. The fact of the matter is that science is always finding a better theory or model that can explain the observations. None of the theories: gravitation, relativity, quantum mechanics have all been accepted as sacrosanct, but instead there are a number of scientists who question each and every aspect of these theories and try to prove them wrong using observations and experiments. That is why we have had so many models for the atom: Rutherford's model was superceded by Bohr's which in turn was improved by Schrodinger. Do we finally have a perfect model of the atom? No. Everything is not explained, but now we do have a way better idea of how the atoms work compared to what we knew about them 80 years back.

Why don't the few who dispute intelligent design also start disputing other scientific theories? The answer is they don't have to. They can achieve their main goal by just sticking with opposition to evolution. What is their main goal: to discourage scientific temper and thinking. Are they achieving their goals? YES. They are getting more and more people into believing what ever they proclaim and the herd is growing. Not only have all the republican candidates rejected the theory of evolution (to pander to their constituents), I have seen very educated people coming from very diverse backgrounds from various countries now starting to question evolution and believing in Intelligent design. This is tragic.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Chinese Media

After all the protests in China and also many concerns expressed from many countries all over the world about human rights violation by China in Tibet.... This is what China had to say on its official (and probably the only) news agency:

"Countries around the world have expressed their support to the Chinese government on its handling of the recent riots in Lhasa, capital city of China's Tibet Autonomous Region" (Link)
How can a government keep fooling a billion smart people?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Gun culture in US

The second ammendment gives the citizens of US the right to bear arms for the security of a free state. This freedom to own guns has given rise to the phenomena of shoot-outs in schools and colleges and a very high crime rate in many cities of USA. The US has the highest number of guns per capita (90 guns per 100 people). Is it a coincidence that US also tops the firearm related death rate? I personally do not think that average citizens of the US will be able to secure the country better than the armed forces of US which is well trained and has superior technology.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


I was quite surprised by the number of people not liking Multi-culturalism. Why so? (Link)

I am surprised because most people who were making the comments on the BBC WHYS blog were from places that were very multicultural (like US). I also got a feeling that the host on the radio show that discussed this topic on air was also a bit biased against multiculturalism.

Monday, March 10, 2008


Just got to know about Manjunath (News article: Link His Blog: Link) Wish him all the best and hope that things will change for better for him.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Monday, March 3, 2008

124,000 roses as dowry !

I did not know that in Iran the groom pays the dowry to the bride. Someone owes a 124,000 roses to his bride (Link).

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Taking virtual breaks

I think getting away from the cell-phones and the internet would itself be the ultimate way of achieving nirvana. I am not sure I can even stay away for half a day. I bow to those who can even do that for 24 hours ... Orz !!! ( Link )

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Gas Prices to hit $4 (per gallon) soon

The gas prices are predicted to reach $4/gallon very soon (Link). I am extremely happy about this. I wish this will encourage people to use public transportation. For people in the bay area, check out the trip planner (Link) . It charts your trip from any point A to B completely using public transportation.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


I think today's debate was won by Obama. No matter what happens in Texas and Ohio primaries/caucuses, Obama will be the Democratic nominee for the general elections.

Obama's robes

A robe worn by Obama during a visit to Kenya has now become a point of contention. Hillary Clinton has now used the picture for scoring points over her opponent Barack Obama: Link

I think this again proves the point that Hillary Clinton is 'stuck' in the mud of old school politics and silly games as Obama points out. Obama on the other hand has always projected a good statesman like personality and it has worked well for him. As long as Obama keeps his cool and just ignores these silly tricks from Hillary Clinton, he will win this race.

It wil be fun to watch what happens in today's debate. What else will Hillary throw at Obama?