What Apple is working on

This is perfect, from the always excellent Dr. Drang.

What Apple is working on:

How do I know all this? Well, as someone who bought his first Mac in 1985, I’m “a source familiar with Apple.” But what’s more important: wouldn’t they be stupid not to be working on all of these?

Seriously, all the Mac rumour sites out there–Why is it always news that Apple is working on something? When something more concrete–read actually on the road to being shipped–comes about, and evidence for such a thing has unearthed, then perhaps its news, no?

Asimov on privacy

“It seems to me that the advance of civilization is nothing but an exercise in the limiting of privacy.”

Isaac Asimov, through the character of Janov Pelorat, in the Foundation Series.

I find Asimov to be the Jules Verne of this century—and not at all because Asimov writes science fiction and describes technology and feats of the future. Looking back, he has incredible foresight with respect to human society, and that forms the basis of his fiction. Sociology and Political Science, not science fiction. Sure, his novels are set in the future, and span distance- and time- scales that are ‘science-fictiony’, but how does that matter to a social narrative?

All that Asimov describes in his Foundation series, is what Man has been talking about and experiencing—without identification.

Tractor beam built from rings of laser light

Tractor beam built from rings of laser light

It is well known that light can push on objects – this is the basis for using solar sails to propel a spacecraft. But getting light to pull on something is a bit trickier.


The new tractor beam might be useful for collecting small dust or atmosphere samples from other worlds and delivering the particles to a robot for analysis.

“NASA contacted us,” says Ruffner. “They were wondering, can we put this on a space probe and get dust from a comet?” It is possible, he says, but not any time soon. “This is still very much in its infancy.”

On the one hand, science fiction looks more like science fact with each passing day. On the other, anyone in the 1970s and 1980s would have predicted that we’d already have achieved much cooler stuff than even tractor beams by the time the second decade of the new millennium came along!

But… this is way too cool. 🙂 I think this is the second big usage of photons for thrust, after solar sails, right?

Recipe: Tandoori style baked chicken

I know, most other people would call it ‘Tandoori Chicken’ or ‘Chicken Tikka’ or some such. But the fact is, I’m not actually using a tandoori oven. I’m using the oven in my kitchen, and so it’s only a tandoori-style chicken. Anyway, here goes.

  • Cut the chicken into fairly large pieces (as an estimate, ‘proper’ tandoori chicken often involves leg quarters).
  • Make a marinade out of yogurt, ginger and garlic paste, cumin powder, coriander powder, garam masala, red chilli powder, salt and bit of sugar. Mix well, and coat the chicken pieces thoroughly. Let the marinated chicken sit for a half hour.
  • You’ll need a baking tray of sorts. It needs to have a flat bottom, and it needs to be large enough to accomodate your chicken pieces. I often use the disposable aluminum cookie baking sheets!
  • Use a little bit of cooking oil (a teaspoon is more than enough) to coat the bottom of the baking tray. This is to ensure that the chicken pieces don’t stick to the bottom on the tray!
  • Arrange the chicken pieces on the tray. Make sure the pieces don’t end up one on top of another.
  • Use excess marinade to coat the chicken pieces. However, make sure that there isn’t too much excess marinade in the baking tray. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a watery tray by the time you’re done cooking, and the tandoori effect won’t appear.
  • Bake at 350F for about 45-50 minutes. Chicken should be fully cooked; please check before removing from the oven.
  • Remove chichen pieces from the oven. If there’s a bit of gravy remaining in the baking tray, you can use this as a glazing over the chicken pieces. If the gravy is too watery, let it stay inside the oven for a few more minutes until it thickens.

Your tandoori style chicken is ready!

Note that instead of cumin, coriander, garam masala, etc, you can certainly use other spice mixtures. Whatever flavour you want to have in your chicken, can be used as a spice. So can some herbs (basil, parsley). Experiment!

And Bon Appetit.Image

Trusting your GPS

This is why you should not blindly trust your GPS:

The three, who are students from Tokyo, set out to drive to North Stradbroke Island on the Australian coast Thursday morning, and mapped out their path on their GPS system.

The road looked clear, at low tide – but the map forgot to show the 9 miles of water and mud between the island and the mainland.

As the three drove their rented Hyundai Getz into Moreton Bay, they found the GPS device guiding them from a gravel road into thick mud. They tried to get back to solid ground, but as the tide rose they were forced to abandon their car. Passengers on passing ferries watched in amazement.

Also, I have a question: how oblivious do you have to be to not realize until it’s too late that you’re driving into a body of water? Yes, GPS’s are known to be flawed, and they’re far from perfect—but this?!

I have a nagging feeling that these guys should reconsider making travel plans by themselves in future. 😛

Hating Scott Adams

One of the blogs I read is The Evolving Scientist, and a recent post takes issue with the latest Dilbert comic. Scott Adams (Dilbert author) is anti-science, the post goes.

There is also this bit:

Scott Adams, creator and current author of the cartoon Dilbert, is a dick. He pretends to be his own fan online and is a horrible boss on par with that which he depicts in his comic. Not to mention, last year he distorted behavior ecology in animals to justify sexual abuse towards women.

While you’re entitled to your opinions about the meaning and interpretations of the comic that you find offense with, let me venture some conjectures—you tell me how much I got right.

How am I doing with the conjecture bit?

I’ve enjoyed reading The Evolving Scientist for a while now—but today you lost a little bit of my respect. As I said, you’re free to put forward your interpretations of the comic, but you should be a little bit more thorough before you declare to “hate” someone.

By the way, this was my takeaway from the NY Times article:

On the other hand, employees also say he knows his limitations and combines deep trust in them with an instinctive ability to motivate people. They understand that to survive in this age of dominant restaurant chains, they must embrace some of his more unusual ideas and obsessions — but more on those later.

No one is more critical of his management skills than the humorist himself. “I’m quite sure I’ve succumbed to the pigeon theory of management,” he said. “Flying in every so often and dumping on everything.”

Oh, and I tried searching for the other reasons that you hate Scott Adams, but my searches with both “Scott Adams” and “Dilbert” returned empty results on your blog. Would you fix the search option, please?

"No Results"

"No Results"

Lyrics of Alvida from Life in A Metro

Everywhere I look, some of the lyrics are invariably wrong, so I decided to write them down myself. This is a personal favorite.

Alvida (Life in A Metro)
Sung by: K.K. (also by James)
Music: Pritam
chupke se kaheen
dheeme paon se
jaane kis tarah, kis ghadi

aage badh gaye
humse rahon mein
par tum to abhi thhe yehin

kucch bhi na suna
kab ka thha gila
kaise keh diya alvida

jinke darmiyan
guzri thhi abhi
kal tak yeh meri zindagi

lo un bahon ko
thandi chhaon ko
hum bhi kar chale alvida

alvida, alvida
meri rahein alvida
meri saansein kehti hain

alvida, alvida
ab kehna aur kya
jab tuune keh diya

(Interlude 1)

sunle bekhabar
kyun aankhen pher kar
aaj tu chali jaa
dhundegi nazar hum ko hi magar
har jagah

aisi raaton mein
le ke karwatein
yaad humein karna
aur phir haarkar kehna kyon magar
keh diya

alvida, alvida
koi pooche to zara
kya socha aur kaha

alvida, alvida
ab kehna aur kya
jab tuune keh diya

(Interlude 2)

hum thhe dil jale
phir bhi dil kahe
kash mere sang aaj hote tum agar
hoti har dagar gulsita

tum se hai khafa
hum naraz hain
dil hai pareshan socha na suna
tune kyon bhala keh diya

alvida, alvida
koi pooche to zara
kya socha aur kaha

alvida, alvida
ab kehna aur kya
jab tuune keh diya

(oo HOO)
alvida, alvida
kyon socha aur kaha

(Interlude 3)

lo un bahon ko
thandi chhaon ko
hum bhi kar chale

Dravid and the mastery of the struggle (via sidvee)

Excellent cricket post – on the batting of Rahul Dravid.

Dravid and the mastery of the struggle The celebrated writer Amitav Ghosh once said about the process of writing: “It never gets easier; it’s always hard, it’s always a test. I’ve reached a point in my life where if a sentence seems easy, I distrust it.” For many writers, practicing their craft is daily, ongoing struggle. As Susanna Daniel says writing can lead to a state of “active non-accomplishment”. “Stunted ambition. Disappointed potential. Frustrated and sad and lonely and hopel … Read More

Statistics and veiled truths

My Statistics professor started his first lecture with a quote that went: Lies are of three kinds: lies, terrible lies, and Statistics!

I was reminded of this while reading this ToI report. It’s a report about the eating habits of teenagers, who apparently skip meals out of choice because they think they eat too much.

I agree – it’s not a good trend. And yet, when a ‘study’ churns out numbers, what exactly do those numbers mean? For example:

The survey conducted by the Schools Health Education Unit, found that one in 10 teenage girls between 14 and 15 years missed two meals a day thinking they are overweight.

One in Ten? Among what strata of the population? The filthy rich kids? The lower middle class? The chai-wala‘s daughter? The kind of people who read the Times of India? The kind of people who cannot afford a daily newspaper? Who?

It’s incredible how anyone and everyone churns numbers out – without the slightest attempt at a qualifying statement. The numbers are from the chosen sample population, not the entire population. When the numbers are extrapolated, it is assumed that the population is identical in diversity to the sample population. Are these extrapolations even valid? Do the researchers know? Should we know when they churn out numbers at us?

Maybe they are – maybe the study was thorough in its research and actually sampled from all possible strata of society. But even then – shouldn’t there be a qualifying statement?

I’m not taking away from the problem of concern here. Sure, it’s a serious issue that needs to be looked at. Sure, having a study with concrete numbers helps bring attention to the concern. And yet, I can’t help but think that – forget skipping meals – more than One in Ten children of 14-15 years of age in India would thank their respective Gods if they got one full meal a day.

(link via India Uncut.)