Saturday, March 28, 2009

Virtual Barbershop auditory illusion

We've all heard of optical illusions - our eyes playing tricks on us. Here is a very famous one, which many of you must be familiar with :
It looks like Albert Einstein alright, but get up off you seat and take a few steps back , about 15 feet back, and someone else very familiar will come into view

And there are many more such optical illusions and we've all seen so much of them. But have you heard of auditory illusions? Your ears tricking you to hear the equivalent of surround sound ( or even better ) when there's only two physical audio sources - your headphones to be precise. Sosit back, relax, close your eyes,  put on your headphones ( it simply doesn't work with speakers ) and play the following clip. 

How does it work? Well we have only two ears anyway, but we can still pinpoint the exact location of sound. It has all to do with the positioning of our ears, the difference with the level of sound reaching the ears, and the way our brain interprets those differences. To record the above auditory illusion , two microphones are placed at the exact position where your ears might be i.e approximately 3.5 inches apart, and the same sound is played back to you at about the same position i.e directly positioned in/on your ears via headphones. Your brain does the rest just as if it is hearing the audio from the original sources. Such recordings are deemed as Binaural Recordings.


Monday, March 23, 2009

G-Mail now comes with Undo Send

Ever since Gmail introduced Gmail Labs, the face of Gmail changed forever.  With Gmail Labs, the developers at google can skip all the beurocratic redtape and launch new Gmail additions on the fly. As a result there have been many additions to Gmail adding new features and modifications to current features which have made Gmail really a pleasure to use. Now there is another addition to the the Gmail Labs features.
Does this scenario sound familiar : You are composing an email and in a hurry you send it, only to realise a moment later that you forgot to mention some important point, or may be you just realise that you have made a major spelling mistake or may be your better judgement just is against the sending of the message. If only there was some way to undo the sending of the message just like you undo your mistakes in a word processor. I know this has happened to me many times before.

But GMail now has just the answer - Undo Send. You have a 5 seconds grace period after the clicking of the "Send" button to stop the e-mail and send it back to the drafts. This really would turn out to be a life saver to  many people.

The option isn't turned on by default and as such you have to activate it. To activate it, log in to gmail, click on settings on the top right of the page. select the labs tab and scroll down to the undo send feature. Enable it by selecting the enable radio button and scroll down and save your settings. And viola - thats it

Saturday, March 21, 2009

music from Maruti

The guys over at Maruti Suzuki sent me this amazing collection.

I bought my Maruti Suzuki dZire a few months ago. Despite recommendations from friends and to be fair - even warnings regarding price difference, feature gap and everything, we decided to go in for the top end model.The one reason to do so was that in our previous purchase ( Maruti Alto ) , we had gotten the base model and every time my dad had to make a sharp turn , he always complained bout the lack of power steering which was present on the higher model. I didn't want to feel bad later,  that I should have gotten the higher model , so I personally put foot down that we were going to go straight for the top end model.

One of the best decisions in my life - despite my dad's constant complaints that we could easily have bought a vehicle in a better class at the price we were paying for the top model of a lower class. He prefers other cars over our current one - anything else, actually.

But everything else apart, it is a real convenience. I didn't have to put in any extra accessories at all. The car came pre-packed with a bundle of accessories - power steering, ABS, Airbags, ACC aircon , a stereo, fog lamps, alloys, tubeless rubbers, nice looking beige upholstery - everything.

And some of those features are a nice little touch of comfort. The air conditioner has one of those Automatic Climate Control thingys, you just set the desired temperature and the aircon will do the rest. The fan speed, air intake mode, air outlet vent are all controlled automatically. I can drive all the way from the shivering  11 degrees in the morning to the boiling 40+ degrees of Mumbai's blazing afternoon without feeling even a slight change in cabin temperature.  Why I haven't touched my aircon since I set it to my temperature softspot ( 23.5 C ) about two months ago. ( alok doesn't like the acc though, so i do have to reset it every time he joins me for a ride )

The stereo is pretty slick too. Alright, I admit that its no nightangle, but its quite good, above average sound quality, good volume, and  the radio reception is a tad bit sketcky. But it does justice to my MP3 collection ( another thing that alok doesn't like ). I felt like that the only thing they didn't dish out with the stereo was a nice little song collection, but now looks like that's taken care of too. It is a modified Signature Collection with songs from the oldie goldie songs era i.e 50s through 70s. The songs are quite good but not really my cuppa joe, my mom loves it though...

More pics :
( Click for larger pics )

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

this is Chirag

I've already written about my friend Alok . Let me introduce you to another one of friends :

Chirag K Shah

Our friendship was forged under unusual circumstances - me running to him any time i had emotional issues and crying out my heart to him ( at a time when we hardly knew each other )  - sorry about that dude - but then, if those events hadn't occurred , we would probably not share the bond that we do now. Being in the same class at college, housed in the same hostel and in the same room, we practically spent almost all the 24 hours of 2 years together. It's really sad to know that we'll never meet and spend time together in the same careless ways ever again. And him living so much distance from me, we'll probably hardly ever meet and since he's pursuing education in the US, probably never in the near future.

I find this guy's mindset and ideology very interesting. He is all about spending his time efficiently , that is why he's probably the most lazy and the most active person ( at the same time ) you will in the whole wide world. He is highly opinionated person ( so am I, but then, this isn't about me ) and very interested in politics and finance especially on how the two are intricately linked together and if you get him started on it, he'll keep on talking till you are deaf in the ear -but with absolutely no dull moments, guaranteed! We used to talk for hours together, starting from early in the afternoon right through dinner and well into the wee hours of the morning when we could no longer keeps our eyes open. That's what I miss the most about him...

I'll post more about him and more of my friends later.


You can view his orkut profile here:

The last few years in review

The last few years have really been something. For those who have forgotten or need a refresher, here's the last few years in review :

Year 2005:

Year 2006 :

Year 2007 :

Open video in new window

Year 2008 :

You have got JibJab to thank for all these. They have great video parodies of many events of the previous years esp political satires. So stick around for more...


Monday, March 16, 2009

A bloggers greatest dream

As a blogger I come upon a major question upon my day to day blogging - What do I blog about next? I'm sure many of you are facing the same problem. Or you have an old outdated blog that you would like to bring back up to pace and aren't sure what to post first. Well this tool is just for you.
The Lazy Bloggers' Post Generator is an amazing online tool which will help you generate a post to put on your blog. You have to select the relevant information what applies to you and presto! - your new post is ready for you, just copy it and paste it into your blog's new post.

The lazy bloggers' post generator :


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Good reads

Over the course of time I have read plenty of novels, books, publication and short stories by various authors. My favourite author so far is Michael Crichton , god bless his soul, I was really looking forward to his next book. But later on that, for that's not what this post is about. I would like to share a few of my favourite short stories with the readers. Both of these are very amazing stories which always give me goosebumps near their ends. I have to warn you though, me being a Sci-Fi fan, they are all total science fiction stories, and may sound nerdy at times so if that's not really your cup of tea, you might just want to skip these stories.

The first one is without any doubt - The Last Question (1956) By Isaac Asimov.
This story is about a super-computer of sorts which has been asked a very import question which it is unable to answer. It ponders over this question for the rest of eternity, surpassing trillions of zillions of years overseeing the progress the human beings make during this time. But finally at the end of eternity and at the end of time it finally figures out the answer and in one burst of brilliance its executes the answer in an act that would make any reader completely change their perspective about time, life and eternity.
 You can read the entire story here.

The next in line is - Rescue Party by Arthur C. Clarke
This story is timed around the time when our sun , the sol, is about to go supernova. Someone arrives at Earth to know more about the inhabitants of this doomed third planet and possibly rescue some of them. There is nobody on the planet, but they discover the trace of a not-so-ancient civilization. Their mission a failure, they  leave the solar system and following a heavenly direction pointed by a transmitting antenna array they finally make a discovery which surpasses their wildest imaginations.
 You can read the entire story here.

So, do read those stories and let me know what you think of them. I'm post about more interesting works of literatures in a later post.


Friday, March 13, 2009

Where's the other Core?

So, I get a call from this guy who's a friend of mine and the conversation goes a bit like this :
Him : Hi there..blah blah... So I went to this place to get a new computer, I had planned to get an Intel CPU, but the guy convinced me to get an AMD, but now I find out that it's a single core, and I wanted a dual core.
Me : How did you figure out if its a single core and not a dual core.
Him : I checked online.
Me : You checked the manufacturer's website ?
Him : Nope, I checked it out on eBay, and it says that it's a single core. Do really need to check the manufacturer's website? And besides, I checked and I confirmed that it's actually a single core.
Me : And how exactly did you do that?
Him : There's just one CPU on the motherboard not two.
Me : -- ** WTF **--

And so I go on to explain that dual core does not mean two physical CPU's and stuff. To add to the gravity of the situation, the guy is actually a computer engineer!!

And that situation really got me thinking? Does any engineer really know absolutely nothing about his field of expertise until he's been trained by the company? And the answer to that is a resounding yes. The reason may be that engineering is such a vast field that you really can't teach anyone any specifics. Take for example the field of electronics. I, myself, am pursuing a course in Electronics an Telecommunication Engineering and I definitely don't know much about any particulars in electronics - the scope is just way too large. Is it really possible for any single person to know every single thing about electronics? And then come the line separating the fields - like for example, Digital Signal Processing - Does it fall into electronic engineering or computer engineering, and why so? The lines are simply too blurred to figure it out.

So it all boils down to this. This computer engineer doesn't understand the concept of CPU cores. Me, an electronics student am much more into computers and software than I'm into electronics. And I have a few friends who have pursued Automobile engineering and atleast one of them can vouch that he knew more cars going into the course than when coming out.

I would really like to go on and on about this topic, but this post has gotten too long. I'll definitely pick this topic up later. Till then,


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Digital Will

So you have developed a nice little presence on the internet, have a nice bolg, a well balance paypal account, your podcasting solution, your social networking profile, your online shared photos , files and documents, may be you have pending cretits at online stores like the itunes store. Ever wondered what would happen to them in the sad event of your death or incapacitation ?
 You would think that the accounts will pass over to your family, but sadly that's not the case. If you read the entire Terms and conditions shown while registering for the website, you will realise that most of time the information there in is not actually your property - it belongs to the service and you are just being leased access to it. This is especially true in case of free services. And in most cases the access is not transferrable. So, your relatives are going to have a hard time getting access to that information, or even trying to close down public access to it - like for example : your facebook profile.
 That's where LegacyLocker comes in. You enter your account information , referred to as Digital Assets and select benificiaries for each Asset separately - for example your PayPal information may go to your spouse or your online documents to your business partners, and so on and the details are stored with them using very high level of security . On the event of passing away your death is confirmed by contacting two 'verifiers' - who are people whom you can trust to convey the true information, and by your physical death certificate and then your assets are securely transferred to your benificiaries.
There's a one time fee or an annual fee. The service is also available for free but you are restricted to 3 assets and 1 beneficiary.

Legacy Locker - 

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A picture set

Many people like to put up funny pictures on their blogs. But, why do they do it? Does it make them look cool? Or do they think that by see the funny pictures the readers will in turn believe the poster to be a funny guy? May be they are just bored?

Well I've decided to put up a funny picture set too. What's my reason : Because I can.

I do this every time I get bored at work too.

Yeah  right, I want to stay safe too, from you mostly..

So now we all know what the sign painter's previous job was.

The touchscreen is pretty much what separates it from my old phone too.

He's like Obama, quick, someone make him a President too..

How do things like this even happen?

As long as you are going to learn swimming, you better do it from from the experts.
C ya,

I hereby promise

So I finally got the blog working just the way I wanted it, modified the layout, the design and all. So the first thing I do is I tell all my friends about it. They checkout the blog and just dismiss it. Why, I ask and comes the reply - will it be around for long enough to be worth following or even ( gasp ) commenting?..

Yeah, I'm well aware that this is not my first attempt at blogging, I've tried it a few times before. I never bothered to keep them updated. And finally after waiting for a long time, I deleted 'em. Then I started a new one and the whole cycle started again. But, my friends, thims time it's different.

I hereby promise to keep updating the blog as regularly as I can and to never ever give up on this blog...

So, now guys, will you please take this blog seriously and keep following it, and most of all please, please, pretty please do comment. And let me know what you would like to see discussed here so that I can bring you posts that you may like.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Font Conference

This is sooo funny, I'm sure anyone who's used any kind of word processing software will recognize most of these "characters" :



mind your parking

I happened upon this interesting image while I was surfing the net.

I'm so going to do this the next time I can't find a parking space due to people like this.

Monday, March 9, 2009

meet Alok

A dedication to my friends :
This, ladies and gentlemen , is Mr. Alok Kamat :
( you can't really blame me for the pic, he refused to give me a better one )

He is without doubt one of the most influential human beings in my life.
He's always there when you need him, what ever be your needs, your questions your problems , just give him a call and he'll be right next to you even before you hang up the phone ( he drives very fast , you see ) . He has really helped me go through the thick and thins of my life. He's an extremely cool guy to hang out with and with knowledge on almost all subjects in the world, a conversation never gets boring with him around.
You haven't ridden in a vehicle unless you have done so with him at the wheel. He'll squeeze every last bit a vehicle has to give and have you clutching the seats screaming for more. He is not just about the driving either, he's an avid auto enthusiast with loads of practical knowledge about the inner working of auto mobiles. His number is definitely the first I call whenever I have any problems with my car or my bike. If it wasn't for him I probably would have never decided to take up biking. He's even completed his graduation in automobile engineering and he's looking forward to work in the same field. So if any of you happen to have any contacts at volvo or ferrari, do give him a call.

Orkut users can check out his profile at :

oops ! i forgot to backup!

Okay, a little bit of background information first : I've created and manage a website for the local Rotary club , the Rotary Club of Bombay Mulund East, which my dad is a member of. The website and hosting is registered under my dad's name and his card is automatically billed for it.

The this is that dad's credit card expired and the renewal of the site was defaulted, my dad was mailed regarding it and he completely forgot about it. I realised it only after my hosting had expired and all my files had been deleted!!! And although i had the domain pointed to another hosting account immediately, the damage was already done - my data was gone. Although I had a backup of the data it was way too outdated to be of any real use as I had done a lot of changes, bug fixes and additions on the live site that I hadn't backed up to my local computer, all I was able to recover was the static content - you know, all the boring stuff...

So here I am back to square one, trying to completely rebuild a lost site, but since I'm doing it afresh, I've decided to follow some good practices like using version control, using CSS to larger extent - I just cant get myself to give up the good old TABLE technique and actually using some of the more powerful tools that I payed for - like mod_rewrite, subdomains, php, sql, and much more...

But the number one thing I learned from this is BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP.. And on that thought, I haven't exactly backed up any of the data on my local machine, so I guess I'll be headed to the hardware store to get an external drive soon.

BTW although it's not much now, the site in question is

So if anyone has any tips that may help me in my journey, please do post them in the comments.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

why do i blog?

why do people normally blog? Some do it for expressing their creativity, some do it for the sake of entartaintment while others do it just for the sake of money. The guys at conducted a survery of the various reasons why people blog, you can find it here -

But of all the reasons mentioned in the report and many more which aren't , why is it that I decided to do it. Well most people tend to claim that they do it as an outlet for their creative thoughts, or to stay in touch or to share their knowledge and experiences.. while others are more forthcoming and just blurt out the truth that they do it for the money or for the networking or for influencing other people. But me... well I've just got a LOT of time on my hands I'd like to kill and I've no better idea how to do it. So that's what this leads to.

I've a gap of about a quarter of an year before my college begins and I'm looking forward to use this blog to document all the interesting stuff I do ( or more likely - come upon on the internet ) in this time. So people, please do comment on the articles and I'm looking forward to your constructive criticism to make this blog even better.

Pranav "PeeKay" Koli