Online Readings-4

(Disclaimer: This is dedicated to some Technology stuff I read and found interesting over the past two weeks..)

A couple of weeks back, I saw this blog post called “The evolution of search in six minutes”, with a video attached. To me, it is a very well-made, down to earth post on, well, the evolution of search as we use it now…and how it might be in the future. I feel its a must watch for everyone irrespective of their search-technology awareness.

And yes, although I cannot understand a bit about “Quantum Computing”, this article on “Machine Learning with quantum algorithms”, on google research blog, made an interesting read. May be, at some point of time, if I can manage to understand the science behind it, I might try to put it forth in a more common-manish way :P. Thanks to Praneeth for sharing this.

For a couple of days in the past fortnight, I was addicted to the idea of “Forensic Linguistics”. I was searching for some Applications of linguistics (rather…Applied Linguistics) and this video, although not “extraordinarily” shot, made me more curious about the subject. I even managed to get a book introducing the concepts of Forensic Linguistics (online)…but, its so easy to drift when you don’t know so many things 😉 😛

Although I was fascinated by “Wolfram Alpha” when it was first announced, I soon drifted…well…I just told you why. But again, this particular blog post on Wolfram Alpha site, on handling/solving permutations related queries, fascinated me a lot 🙂

And then, I work in applying Language Technologies for Language Learning. I found something similar, but not related to “Language”, on the Communications of the ACM pages today. It is titled “Massive scale data mining for Education”. It talks about the use of massive math-query logs of students to predict clusters of difficult math problems, ways to track the progress of students etc. Yes, like they say, if it works, it will really be a massive scale student modeling. I loved the way the article ended. “We experiment, try different students on different problems, discover which exercises cause similar difficulties, and which help students break out of those difficulties. We learn paths in the data and models of the students. We learn to teach.” – It’d be interesting to see how it goes! 🙂

Back to CACM again, this piece on the duality of defining computing as an “instrument for human mind” (of a human mind and by a human mind too?? :P)… and connecting it to Steve Jobs and Dennis Ritchie ….was interesting too.

Lastly, again on CACM, there was this extremely insightful and well-written article on “Natural” Search User Interfaces by Marti Hearst. I just loved reading it and would recommend it to everyone interested in “Search”. Its a bit long…but surely worth it, IMHO.

Jai Hind, for now!!

Published in: on December 20, 2011 at 1:43 am  Comments (2)  
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Online Readings-3

After I began this, I actually became more organized with respect to my online readings 😛

I read today that British library made the archives of 300 years of news paper articles available for users. Its amazing that news papers from 1700s will also be accessible from now on (for a fee ofcourse!). It would have been nice if this pay-and-use option was provided, with better usability… on some of those websites like… like… DLI or AP Press Academy archives 😉
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There was another interesting article on the free software activists releasing a p2p search engine to take on various commercial engines. Although I am not very impressed (yet) with the UI and its results, I am curious about what happens next, to Project Yacy. I hope it will improve its performance in due course of time! 🙂
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There was this small piece of news on Rishi Valley school turning 80. Although I don’t know very much about their operations, I like the fact that they ran for 80 years, despite the fact that they are not exactly a conventional kind of school…
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(On to some serious stuff…)

The other day, while roaming in the library, I found “Spectator” magazine in the racks. Any sight of English newspaper or magazine in print is making me feel relieved these days 😉 So, I grabbed it and began reading. I loved the part where there are one-liners about all important events around the world. For someone like me who reads news sporadically, it will provide a good overview I guess.

Now, coming to the point, there was this piece by Michael Henderson called “Deadly game“, on cricket and deaths. Although it came in the backdrop of Peter Roebuck’s suicide, this article spoke about many other cricketing suicides too, which was a revelation to me. However, in my view, this is not how a “supposed to be obituary” column should look like. It might or might not be full of facts but it was very untimely.
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There was this piece in “The Hindu”, regarding the ban of a film titled “Dam999”. The title refers to the Mullaperiyar Dam in Kerala, which was built in 1895 and given to Madras state on a 999 year lease. However controversial it might be – imposing a ban on release is just shocking. I remember some such issues happened when “Arakshan” was released too. Very recently, there was this another issue of removal of A.K.Ramanujan’s essay. I don’t understand what can be called “Freedom of expression” now 😦 Wonder how governments can act so partially!
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Finally, there was this piece in “The Hindu” on Stalin’s daughter, who passed away recently. This was a “heavy” read. Although there is no doubt about the troubled life she might have lead during the Stalin times, in general, her’s seemed to be a sad story. Reading such stories, without actually knowing the background (whether she had some psychological issues? etc) makes me wonder about the purpose of life, again.
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(End of discourse for today)

Published in: on December 2, 2011 at 9:00 am  Comments (1)  
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Online Readings-2

Although I have been doing very-little non-research e-readings over the past few days, I found certain interesting things worth noting down.

I was browsing through the BBC website and realized that BBC is in Hindi. I assumed that the articles might be of poor quality, just the way Google News provides us with sub-standard Telugu news. But, I am wrong. I randomly opened a piece on life on the other planets, and found it to be a good article. I searched for the original on BBC, and found that the Hindi version is not a line-to-line translation. I am happy! :). Amazing that they are coming up with good content in so many languages. Hope to see Telugu sometime soon (since Tamil also exists as of now, in their list).
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This piece by P.Sainath, on a variation of “paid news”, was a good read. Although I enjoy his satire a lot, this time, it took a while for me to figure out what exactly is going on in the article. Putting those thoughts aside, though I can’t watch Indian news channels, I guess I can understand what is happening. I guess the days of DD were far better in terms of news coverage, despite the fact that we never had a choice! 🙂
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There was another BBC article (English) titled “Why does every person need 200kg of steel every year” with scary pictures of the amount of “material offspring” we are all producing. I can’t comment much on this…but hopefully, our management guru Halley will do soon :). Ofcourse, let me confess that reading such articles always make me worried about the future.
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I was reading a piece on “Lexical Diversity” by Philip McCarthy. Putting aside the fact that I struggled to proceed, because of information overload (Sigh!), I was stuck by this part:

“Thus, LD has been used by researchers in fields as varied as stylistics, neuropathology, language acquisition, data mining, and forensics; and LD indices have been found to be indicative of writing quality, vocabulary knowledge, speaker competence, Alzheimer’s onset, hearing variation, and even speaker socioeconomic status”

-Wow! As I read more on that part of it, in a literature survey by the same person, there were many more interesting applications to the concept. More on it later…but, was amazed by the diversity in application areas!
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Since it has been ages that I saw it, I opened BangaloreMirror today :P. I would call it the most entertaining newspaper in Bangalore, for various reasons. Sometimes, its also educative, though no one bothers to see that angle. The very first item I found was on Putin’s new twin brother in China. It was a headline news in BM! BM Rox 🙂
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I will end this session, with a piece by Jorge Luis Borges, on “The Analytical Language of Wilkins” (about which I blogged a while ago, here). Although it did not provide any new insights (except for the references to more artificial languages), I liked the quote by G.K.Chesterton mentioned in the end:

He knows that there are in the soul tints more bewildering, more numberless and more nameless, than the colours of an autumn forest… Yet he seriously believes that these things can every one of them, in all their tones and semi-tones, in all their blends and unions, be accurately represented by an arbitrary system of grunts and squeals. He believes that an ordinary civilised stockbroker can really produce out of his own inside, noises which denote all the mysteries of memory and all the agonies of desire. (G. F. Watts, page 88, 1904)

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School Disperse, Jai Hind! 🙂

Published in: on November 24, 2011 at 7:30 pm  Comments (1)  
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Online Readings-1

Inspired by Halley, I also decided to jot down some notes on my online readings (both in Telugu and English). They are not (..and they won’t be) as informative and knowledgeable though 🙂 These are just for my own reference.

First comes Telugu:

When I began writing this post 10days back, the day began with reading eemaata’s november 2011 issue. There was Suresh Kolichala’s translation of A.K.Ramanujan’s essay: “Three hundred Ramayanas: five examples and three thoughts on translation”, on which I spent quite some time (Original Essay here and Telugu translation here). Firstly, I could have read the original itself (which I did, after reading the translation). But, I was more than happy to read it in Telugu. It was a good translation and a good read. Coming to the essay, I still don’t find anything blasphemous in it! About an year ago, Bombay university dropped Rohinton Mistry’s “Such a long journey”. I remember it being a very interesting read too and was surprised that someone can found it “bannable”.(my old blog post on the novel here.)

Such incidents leave me wondering about the tolerance levels of people as well as the workings of universities!! Who adds? and who removes?

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While on travels last week, I read Balantrapu Rajanikantha Rao’s memoirs “Rajani Bhava Tarangalu” in parts. Though I had some trouble sometimes, with the language, I am amazed at his energy levels. I don’t remember the first time I heard the name, but the first time I read something about him was in a 2008 eemaata.com article by Kodavatiganti Rohiniprasad(link here). This also linked to 2 more interviews – one in Andhra Jyothi and the other in Vaartha. Now, on a revisit to all these, I noticed that there is a very informative article on Rajanikantha Rao garu on eemaata.com, again. It’s now a decade old, though still timely, for people like me (link here).
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And next, English:

There was this extra-ordinarily ridiculous article on NYT, about a guying suing his wedding photographers, several years after the wedding and a divorce! Okay, I hope no one will sue me for saying that! I was surprised that it came up in the top headlines on NYT website. To verify if I got it all wrong, I was browsing through the comments to the post. One of them said: “I had to look at the top of the article twice to make sure I wasn’t reading an article from the Onion!”…I heaved a sign of relief 😛 😛
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I also happened to read a long elaborate article “How ready are we for bio-terrorism?”, on NYT. Though I don’t claim to have grasped the entire problem by reading this, I think it provides a good overview of the efforts on developing bio-defenses, the state of the art and the future. (specifically in the USA only, though).
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Perhaps, the best of all these readings over the past 10 days, is an year old article from “The Newyorker” magazine, written by Jonah Lehrer…on scientific experiments, results and their replication. Its in two parts, which can be read here and here. Thanks to Santosh, for the pointer.

Atleast for me, its so well-researched that it made me dizzy because of the overload 😛
Although I still don’t have any answer to my confusions on performing scientific experiments and their eventual impact, the article is good food for thought. It also gave a sense of assurance that people do think about such stuff 🙂

Rest in next!!

Published in: on November 19, 2011 at 4:48 pm  Comments (1)  
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