Saturday, April 30, 2011

Chemicals in what we eat

Recently, the guy who wallpapered my office told me that the gum they use is CMC powder mixed with water. CMC powder is also used in making icecream; and since he came to know of that, he has stopped eating icecream! 
50 grams of CMC diluted by more than a full bucket of water made enough gum to wallpaper the entire office! 
More on CMC powder is available here - it is a man-made gum with the technical name Sodium Carboxymethyl Cellulose Gum. A companion piece on artificial strawberry flavouring - you can read here. And a little more about milk.
We eat so many chemicals that our bodies don't even decompose fast enough after burial. See this article.

The Murky Business of Sovereign Ratings

Feb 2011 ratings show United States and United Kingdom at Ranks 15 & 16, with India at Rank 56. Norway and Switzerland are at the top of the table (no surprise here). The surprises are Italy (30th) (Its debt is 116% of GDP! Its financial mess is well known), Spain (34th), Ireland (43rd) (which has asked for a bailout package from IMF in Nov 2010), Iceland (46th) (which went bankrupt and has twice refused to bear losses of their private banks in 2008) and Portugal (44th) being ahead of India. Greece is the only one out of the so-called PIIG countries that is below India (65th). One can quarrel with these ratings, but I suspect that won't help much. More ...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sathya Sai Baba departs

Expect some sleazy stuff of palace intrigue and financial misdoings to come out, now that Sathya Sai Baba has departed, leaving no clear successor or succession plan, but huge wealth and assets meant for public charity. The rumbles began even as the Baba was on his deathbed.

One prosaic, non-spiritual lesson we can learn from this is, WRITE YOUR WILL. Howsoever rich or poor you are. So that your heirs do not fight or do not have too much trouble with paperwork where nominations are not recorded, or where property title deeds are mortgaged, or where your property may need to be sold in order to share proceeds.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Linux at 20, and My Personal Experience

Linux has turned twenty, though there might be more than one known "birthday".  
A few months back, I moved my whole office progressively to Linux. 84% have Ubuntu and the rest have Fedora. Since then, I have moved almost everything to Linux and OpenOffice, StarOffice or LibreOffice (I have all three whose files are perfectly interchangeable. 
Recently I read with pleasure the following paragraph: 
Linux runs everything from air traffic control systems to infotainment systems to nuclear submarines. Linux also powers the $10-billion CERN super collider, the special effects in Avatar. Zemlin also pointed out that Linux-powered stock markets now trade “72% of the world’s equity trades in 2010.” This, I might add, was before the London Stock Exchange went to Linux earlier this year. And of course, there’s been a “complete inversion” in supercomputing. In ten years, the top 500 supercomputers have switched from 96% Unix to 96% Linux. (taken from here). 
Looking back, I think I made the right decision. I had hardly any teething troubles,  got my assembled OS free machines much cheaper, and now my employees actually prefer Linux because of its speed and its cool graphics. They also regularly raid the Ubuntu software store and use nifty little and large applications for a variety of purposes. We have a script that automatically backs up contents of each machine in the office, including the Windows partition on 2 hard disks, onto a 2TB hard disk every day between 10 am and 12 noon.
Large part of the thanks for this transition are due to Nandan Bhat who runs Linux-based certification training courses from Novell and Red Hat in my city. My only gripe is that our heavy-duty printer, a scanner-cum-printer from Canon, has a Linux driver that for some reason does not work. So occasionally, for long print jobs, I need to switch one machine to Windows.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Google out-googled - and that too by an Indian company!

Google features quite often in this blog for all the interesting things it does. However, here is an offering that out-googles Google - and that too, on GMail and Google Apps! What's more, this quiet, really useful product (you will really be missing out on something if you don't check this out) has been developed by an Indian company, headquartered, where else, but in Bangalore!  More ...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Libyan Mess: The Awkward Position Obama Finds Himself In

Why does a woman agree to sleep with a known serial womanizer? Because she naively believes that she will be the woman who will cure the poor man of his womanizing ways. 
Why does a leader of a republic wedded to democracy attack nations run by despots? Because he believes (whether naively or not) that he will be the one who can liberate the poor (actually rich!) country from the despot, and introduce a happy-ever-after democracy. More ...

Friday, April 08, 2011

The NDM Virus controversy is back!

The recent controversy over the NDM-1 bacterium a.k.a "superbug" is important - any drug-resistant infection needs to be stamped out, wherever in the world it occurs. So while I am not suggesting that the findings of the researchers are wrong, I am suggesting that the focus on New Delhi and India almost exclusively is as a result of a deep game played by Big Pharma.
Naming the bacterium after New Delhi and conducting follow-up surveys, taking samples surreptitiously from the Indian sub-continent, and warning the rest of the world about this "superbug" from India is an insidious game being played by Big Pharma to detract attention from the fact that the same bacterium was discovered being repeatedly introduced into the UK from the US and 3 other European countries, before it was discovered in a Swedish patient transiting India en route to the UK. Given below is this story, which no  newspaper has so far written about. More ...

Monday, April 04, 2011

Google's mother-of-all business model

Google makes its money from search. We all know that. But how many of us know the crushing blow that Google is delivering to several small and big companies in several industries? We are not speaking of the rude shocks that thousands of small businesses get from displacement from their usual place in search listings when Google tweaks its search engine algorithm. More ...

Friday, April 01, 2011

The Libyan Mess: An American Opinion Leader's Viewpoint

What I have feared in earlier blog posts - that US involvement in Libya is ill-considered and can turn into another Iraq - is coming true much, much quicker than I feared.
Look at this. A real mess is in the making!

Google Public Data Explorer: Now visualize your own data in 3D for free!

In May, 2010, I had commented about the Google Public Data Explorer. At that time, I had said that the next step would be to allow users to upload their own datasets to take advantage of this excellent visualisation engine.
This has now happened. See this. At last, I am happy that something really good that I predicted has come to pass. 
You can now use this great visualization engine to display your own data in three dimensions, with the third dimension being time.