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