Life Of Navin

Random Musings, Random Bullshit.


Google Gets Into The Halloween Mood!!

We all know that Google constantly crawls the Web with help from spiders... but I guess zombies seriously scare the $hit out of the tech giant!!

Showing some timely techie humor, the search giant has updated its robots.txt file for Halloween. For the technologically uninitiated, search engines trying to index Web sites look for robots.txt files for instructions about whether they're permitted access to particular pages.

The Google robots.txt file on Friday begins with the following term:

User-agent: zombies
Disallow: /brains

Generally this sort of thing it's called an Easter egg. But I guess in this case it's a Halloween egg!!

For more funny easter eggs, head over to

Happy Halloween!!

The First Video Game Turns 50!!

OK, so here's a question I'm pretty sure you don't know the answer to: Which is the oldest video game?? Pacman?? Naaah....... Mario?? Naaah...... Its gotta be Pong right?? Naaaaaaaaaaah ....Well here it is: Its Tennis for Two, a game which was developed by, brace yourselves for this, a Nuclear Scientist!!

After writing about GTA recently, lets now head in the opposite direction.“Tennis for Two” started off as a science experiment, created by William Higinbotham for the annual visitor’s day at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York and was never meant for commercial purposes. His aim wasn’t to kick off the multibillion-dollar game industry — he just wanted to “liven up the place” with his invention. And in pure Geek-ishtyle, he did it by modding a oscilloscope that was meant to be used to study stuff like particle projectiles!!

Hundreds of people lined up to play “Tennis for Two” on Oct. 18, 1958. Players saw a side view of a tennis court on an oscilloscope screen and used an aluminum controller to serve and volley the “ball,” a bright dot that left trails as it bounced from one side of the “net” to the other.

To celebrate the game’s 50th anniversary, Brookhaven gave players another shot at “Tennis for Two.” On Friday, the lab opened its doors to the public from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., displaying “Tennis” alongside more modern game hardware, including the Nintendo Wii, the Sega Genesis and the Atari 2600.

Here's a video, of the first video game ever!! Enjoy!!

God bless Prof. Higinbotham's soul!!

Craigslist Used By Innovative Bank Robber!!

Now here's a story that'll most definitely be made into a movie: and I mean a full on Italian Job kinda flick..... Danny Ocean would've been proud of this one!! Here goes: A crook robbed an armored truck outside a Bank of America branch in Monroe, Washington, by hiring decoys through the popular site Craigslist to deter authorities.

It gets even better: He Escaped...... For good!! "A great amount of money was taken", Monroe police said, but did not provide a dollar value. Hmm... must've been quite a few greens eh??
Craigslist is a site that provides local classifieds for jobs, housing,personals, services, events, and anything else you can think of. But this is by far the most innovative use of the classifieds site!!

Here's how it all happened: At around 11:00 a.m. local time on Tuesday, the 21st, the robber, wearing a yellow vest, safety goggles, a blue shirt, and a respirator mask went over to a guard who was overseeing the unloading of cash to the bank from the truck. He sprayed the guard with pepper spray, grabbed his bag of money, and fled the scene.

But here's the hilarious twist. The robber had previously put out a Craigslist ad for "road maintenance workers", promising wages of $28.50 per hour. Recruits were asked to wait near the Bank of America right around the time of the robbery-- wearing, what else?? yellow vests, safety goggles, a respirator mask, and preferably a blue shirt. At least a dozen of them showed up after responding to the Craigslist ad. As it turns out, they were simply placed there to confuse cops who were looking for a guy wearing a virtually identical outfit.

I guess one can safely claim that the economy really is in the toilet when someone this innovative is robbing banks. I for one say let the guy keep the money. His plan was just too ingenious. Let's call it even. What say you'll??

I came across the ad that was for a prevailing wage job for $28.50 an hour --One Of The Unwitting Decoys

The Rubik's Cube Strikes Back!!

So you've finally figured out how to solve the Rubik's cube huh?? And now you're the star of every party, showing-off by solving a Rubik’s Cube in under two minutes, eh?? Well, I hope someone throws the Rubik’s Mirror Blocks Puzzle at you!!

As a Rubik's cube enthusiast (I've actually solved it once....the crowning moment of my life!!), I seriously understand how hard it is to get the frikkin' colour combination right!! And this piece of gaming wonder surely makes the Rubik's cube look like a kid's toy. Also known as Hidetoshi Takeji's Bump Cube, the puzzle challenges its user based on geometry rather than by matching color sequences.

To solve the Bump Cube, you must set 27 blocks of nine different sizes into a neat and tidy cube. Unlike the original Rubik’s Cube, you can’t just pull the stickers off this one and pretend you’re a genius (or pull the entire thing apart as some frustrated Rubik's tragics have been known to do [I tried this once]) as all the blocks have the same colour.

Available in Japan, Hidetoshi Takeji's Bump Cube costs around USD$20.

The YouTube clip below shows how its done - in 55.47seconds!! .

A Review of the Bump cube

So get Bumping!!

Virus Busting Beyond The Final Frontier!!

Another day, another what makes Symantec's latest competition so special?? Well, how about this.... The winner gets to go into space!! Oh yeah, space, the final frontier, antariksha etc etc etc.

Three competition winners will be first invited for a zero-gravity flight on the 'Vomit Comet', where they can experience weightlessness and all the fun that brings (they've named it the vomit comet for a reason!!), then one of these will ascend to the final frontier.

I'm not sure how Symantec plans to choose the grand prize winner, who will spend around five minutes in space before being brought back down (it's a very short amount of time, but it's space!! Come on). Perhaps they'll be assessing those winners based on a simple fight to the death kind of competition when weightless.

The competition is meant to represent the fastest software from Norton's new software, which can blah blah blah, do you really care about the reasons?? I'm going to register on the website roughly four billion times (unless they block all my ip's by then) to get a chance to see the Great (Fire)Wall of China from the sky.

Less than 500 people have ever been into space, but one lucky virus-fighter will get the chance to join that exclusive club in the sky -Symantec Press Release

The 23 Toughest Math Problems!!

It sounds like a mathophobic's worst nightmare.The folks at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) have put out a research request it calls "Mathematical Challenges". The goal of the research is very ambitious: "to dramatically revolutionizing mathematics and thereby strengthening DoD's scientific and technological capabilities."

DARPA is known worldwide for its Urban Grand Challenge competition for Driverless automated cars in urban areas.

So if you're a super-god in math and want to prove it then give one of these a shot.... be warned, these ain't no math puzzles!! What's more, DARPA has stated it will award research grants for the researches but doesn't say how much they'd be worth. So I'm guessing its some astronomically high amount!!

  • The Mathematics of the Brain: In my opinion, the toughest math problem ever. the aim is to develop a mathematical theory to build a functional model of the brain that is mathematically consistent and predictive rather than merely biologically inspired.
  • The Dynamics of Networks: Develop the high-dimensional mathematics needed to accurately model and predict behavior in large-scale distributed networks that evolve over time occurring in communication, biology and the social sciences.
  • Capture and Harness Stochasticity in Nature: Address Mumford's call for new mathematics for the 21st century. Develop methods that capture persistence in stochastic environments.
  • 21st Century Fluids: Classical fluid dynamics and the Navier-Stokes Equation were extraordinarily successful in obtaining quantitative understanding of shock waves, turbulence and solitons, but new methods are needed to tackle complex fluids such as foams, suspensions, gels and liquid crystals.
  • Biological Quantum Field Theory: Quantum and statistical methods have had great success modeling virus evolution. Can such techniques be used to model more complex systems such as bacteria? Can these techniques be used to control pathogen evolution?
  • Computational Duality: Duality in mathematics has been a profound tool for theoretical understanding. Can it be extended to develop principled computational techniques where duality and geometry are the basis for novel algorithms?
  • Occam's Razor in Many Dimensions: As data collection increases can we "do more with less" by finding lower bounds for sensing complexity in systems? This is related to questions about entropy maximization algorithms.
  • Beyond Convex Optimization: Can linear algebra be replaced by algebraic geometry in a systematic way?
  • What are the Physical Consequences of Perelman's Proof of Thurston's Geometrization Theorem?: Can profound theoretical advances in understanding three dimensions be applied to construct and manipulate structures across scales to fabricate novel materials?
  • Algorithmic Origami and Biology: Build a stronger mathematical theory for isometric and rigid embedding that can give insight into protein folding.
  • Optimal Nanostructures: Develop new mathematics for constructing optimal globally symmetric structures by following simple local rules via the process of nanoscale self-assembly.
  • The Mathematics of Quantum Computing, Algorithms, and Entanglement: In the last century we learned how quantum phenomena shape our world. In the coming century we need to develop the mathematics required to control the quantum world. Something I'll dedicate my life to studying in the future.
  • Creating a Game Theory that Scales: What new scalable mathematics is needed to replace the traditional Partial Differential Equations (PDE) approach to differential games?
  • An Information Theory for Virus Evolution: Can Shannon's theory shed light on this fundamental area of biology?
  • The Geometry of Genome Space: What notion of distance is needed to incorporate biological utility?
  • What are the Symmetries and Action Principles for Biology?: Extend our understanding of symmetries and action principles in biology along the lines of classical thermodynamics, to include important biological concepts such as robustness, modularity, evolvability and variability.
  • Geometric Langlands and Quantum Physics: How does the Langlands program, which originated in number theory and representation theory, explain the fundamental symmetries of physics? And vice versa?
  • Arithmetic Langlands, Topology, and Geometry: What is the role of homotopy theory in the classical, geometric, and quantum Langlands programs?
  • Settle the Riemann Hypothesis: The Holy Grail of number theory. Do read about it!!
  • Computation at Scale: How can we develop asymptotics for a world with massively many degrees of freedom?
  • Settle the Hodge Conjecture: This conjecture in algebraic geometry is a metaphor for transforming transcendental computations into algebraic ones.
  • Settle the Smooth Poincare Conjecture in Dimension 4: What are the implications for space-time and cosmology?? And might the answer unlock the secret of "dark energy"??
  • What are the Fundamental Laws of Biology?: This question will remain front and center for the next 100 years. DARPA places this challenge last as finding these laws will undoubtedly require the mathematics developed in answering several of the questions listed above.
You need to submit your research plan by Sept. 29, 2009. So get going people!!

Lightbulb = WiFi hotspot??

Some fresh news for wireless net users. Boston University's College of Engineering is launching a program, with a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, to develop the next generation of wireless communications technology based on visible light instead of traditional radio waves.

Here's the method proposed to be used: Researchers expect to hitchhike data on light emitting diodes (LEDs), to create "Smart Lighting" that would be faster and supposedly more secure than current network technology.This initiative aims to develop an optical communication technology that would make an LED light the equivalent of a Wi-Fi hotspot. Here's a diagram of what they plan to achieve

The ability to rapidly turn LED lights on and off - so fast that the change is imperceptible to the human eye - is key to the technology. Flickering light in patterns enables data transmission without any noticeable change in room lighting. With such widespread LED lighting, a vast network of light-based communication is possible. A wireless device with a Wi-fi enabled LED could send and receive data though the air at speeds in the 1 to 10 megabit per second range with each LED serving as an access point to the network. Such a network would have the potential to offer users greater bandwidth than current RF technology which is severely limiting. Ultimately they plan to replace LED's by regular light bulbs.

Moreover, since this light does not penetrate opaque surfaces such as walls, there is a higher level of security, as eavesdropping is not possible. This means no more Khalsa college hacks from laptops on the outside. Of course, as long as we eliminate windows from rooms ;) . Also, for you environmentalists, LEDs consume far less energy than RF technology, offering the opportunity to build a communication network without added energy costs and reducing carbon emissions over the long term.

But I do have my doubts:
  1. LED's are unidirectional in the fact that they can transmit data but cannot recieve to enable a two way communication, a light sensor too will be needed which increases costs
  2. Would you ant to turn on thelights just to access the net?? I mean what if you prefer working in the dark?? Ever heard of anyone seeing pr0n with the lights on??
  3. The existing infrastructure is all configured for technologies mean complete replacement of all infrastructure even though it is (almost) fully functional already.
The pro's and con's are its time to actually work at this new innovative technology....lets hope for the best!!

Imagine if your computer, iPhone, TV, radio and thermostat could all communicate with you when you walked in a room just by flipping the wall light switch and without the usual cluster of wires -BU Engineering Professor Thomas Little.



Finally after all these years, here's to the beginning of what was there, what is there and hopefully what will remain!! So here are my thoughts & words -Online!!

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