Friday, June 21, 2024

Half-Year-End is Upon Us

Since the last post, a few interesting things have happened. And you guessed it: I will list them here and call it a post for the day month.

I have been constantly refining my program AcBook 9.0 over the last couple of months and the code has become more polished, less buggy, a little faster and most importantly, the program behaves as expected most of the times. Also, two more rows of the Widgets setting table are now properly working (which means the work on file data structure is more or less complete for that purpose). The last row still requires a bit more work and will (probably) be activated in the next proper version upgrade. For now the version number stays the same but the release number gets an extra letter, so something like “24C”. Listing out all the minor bugs & improvements & enhancements is not at all worthy of anyone’s time so let me stop here with this topic. Just one more thing: A demo video is now live on YouTube and you can view it in full glory on this webpage.

I saw for the first time a double rainbow in the sky with my own eyes! Well, not really… I noticed the secondary rainbow in the photo I took of the primary rainbow that I was delighted to see in the evening a few days ago. Here is the proof:

Double 🌈

I visited the website Anubhuti after a long time! It publishes Hindi poems monthly now (back in the old days, they published weekly!) and the latest collection of poems is on the topic of “Summer”. I mostly read Ghazals which can be found under the section “अंजुमन (Anjuman)” and they didn’t disappoint, especially the last one by Vinita Tiwari. It felt nice… Enjoy!

I wrote a blog post on my ‘Physics blog’ last month about disappointments and failures. If you are interested in that sort of thing…

Here you go

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Comeback?!

I haven’t written for a while and sometimes when you haven’t done the writing for a long time, it becomes difficult. It becomes difficult to write which reminds me of that episode from Sandman where authors keep the Greek Goddess in captivity for inspiration. Here in India, we pray, we pray that we can get inspired, we pray that we forever stay kind and be helpful to others, we pray that we do well and do the right things in life. On that note, I’m happy to announce that our little daughter who turned 6 in March started her classes last week after a 2-month long summer holiday and it was indeed Summer and hot in Bengaluru (more on Climate change and tips and tricks later). I will request Sakura to write 10 sentences of her time during the holidays and maybe that can be the next post from my side.

Sakura solving simple crossword

There is this song which I got reminded of again after a few years. “I want it that way” – a song from the legendary Backstreet Boys, which some of us played in a loop while growing up. It reminds me of good old times, reminds me of all the good memories with a dear friend whom I have lost along the way.

Yeah
You are my fire
The one desire
Believe when I say
I want it that way
But we are two worlds apart
Can't reach to your heart
When you say
That I want it that way
Tell me why Ain't nothin' but a heartache
Tell me why Ain't nothin' but a mistake
Tell me why I never wanna hear you say
I want it that way
Am I your fire?
Your one desire
Yes, I know it's too late
But I want it that way
Tell me why Ain't nothin' but a heartache
Tell me why Ain't nothin' but a mistake
Tell me why I never wanna hear you say
I want it that way
Now I can see that we've fallen apart
From the way that it used to be, yeah
No matter the distance, I want you to know
That deep down inside of me
You are my fire
The one desire
You are (you are, you are, you are)
Don't wanna hear you say Ain't nothin' but a heartache
Ain't nothin' but a mistake (don't wanna hear you say)
I never wanna hear you say (oh, yeah)
I want it that way
Tell me why Ain't nothin' but a heartache
Tell me why Ain't nothin' but a mistake
Tell me why I never wanna hear you say (don't wanna hear you say)
I want it that way
Tell me why Ain't nothin' but a heartache
Ain't nothin' but a mistake
Tell me why I never wanna hear you say (don't wanna hear you say)
I want it that way
'Cause I want it that way
~ Andreas Carlsson and Max Martin

If you think about it and re-read the lyrics, you will realize that some of it doesn’t make sense and that’s the best part, that’s the beauty. A lot of things in life don’t make much sense, not everything should be straightforward and deriving meaning, they are beautiful as they are, and they should be left like that. You might like to read the Wikipedia page as well. And now if you have come to this point in the post, then it’s time to play the song and listen to it a few times. Heavenly 😊

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Latest from Waseem Barelvi

It has been a while since we had some Shayari on this blog. So who better to feature here again than the legendary Prof. Waseem Barelvi. What follows is one of his recent Ghazals I guess. [I do not have to remind the seasoned readers of this blog that my translations are not to be taken very seriously and if it has been a while, you may want to remind yourself what I (& by extension, you should) think about them by reading the relevant tab above.]

आँखों आँखों रहे और कोई घर न हो
ख्वाब जैसा किसी का मुकद्दर न हो

Aankhon aankhon rahe aur koi ghar na ho
Khwaab jaisa kisi ka mukaddar na ho

Staying eye to eye and no house
Let no one’s fate be like dreams

क्या तमन्ना है रोशन तो सब हो मगर
कोई मेरे चरागों से बढ़कर न हो

Kya tamanna hai roshan to sab ho magar
Koi mere charaagon se badhkar na ho

What a wish to illuminate all but
Let no one be better than my lamps

रोशनी है तो किस काम की रोशनी
आँख के पास जब कोई मंज़र न हो

Roshani hai to kis kaam ki roshani
Aankh ke paas jab koi manzar na ho

There is light but what is light worth
When there’s no view before the eyes

क्या अजब आरज़ू घर के बुढ़ों की है
शाम हो तो कोई घर से बाहर न हो

Kya ajab aarzoo ghar ke budhon ki hai
Shaam ho to koi ghar se baahar na ho

What a weird desire of the home’s elders
Come evening and no one be outside homes

जिस को कमतर समझते रहे हो, ‘वसीम’
मिलके देखो कहीं तुमसे बेहतर न हो!

Jis ko kamtar samajhte rahe ho, ‘Waseem’
Milke dekho kahin tumse behtar na ho!

They have been believed to be lesser, ‘Waseem’
Meet and see, they may be better than you lots!

That’s all for this Ghazal and here is Prof. Waseem Barelvi reciting it himself:

Prof. Waseem Barelvi at 4th Deccan Literature Festival 2023

He recited a lot more obviously in this 2023 gathering. That full video along with more videos of other poets who recited there can be found on

This Channel!

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

AcBook 9.0

Finally, the most-awaited migration from GUIDE to AppDesigner has occurred. That of my beloved program: AcBook... and as expected, the new version is numbered 9. This latest version of AcBook could have been easily numbered 10, just like Windows 10 came after Windows 8(.1) by completely skipping 9. The reason that could have happened is because this new AcBook is completely redesigned from the ground up (as Microsoft is so fond of saying for almost everything every couple of months) in AppDesigner with only bare bones of GUIDE code surviving the transition. The reason that did not happen is because I like (even love, if that’s possible) the number 9 and there’s no way I would have skipped it.

We start at the start screen, of course. The Menubar and Toolbar have been stripped down with only “essential” items being in these two places. The toolbar duplicates the File menu, more or less. Below these is a collection of tabs. The first tab is obviously the Home (🏡) tab. It contains the welcome area with sign in buttons and load/save button. Below this fun area are three sections where you can enter transactions, view/edit recent transactions, and get an overview of your transactions via 5 (or less, if you want) “widgets”.

Home Tab

The second tab is the Transactions (💳) tab. This tab allows you to view all your transactions. You can do all sorts of actions on your transactions here: edit, filter, delete, search, sort, etc.

Transactions Tab

The third tab is the Accounts (📚) tab. This tab shows you information about all the existing accounts as well as an overview of the transaction data in those accounts. In addition, you can create accounts here as well as perform actions on them: edit, merge, remove & reorder. I am proud of implementing the last action in the way that I have done it, because MATLAB does not have a straightforward way to reorder rows of a table!

Accounts Tab

The fourth tab is the Groups (📑) tab. This tab shows you information about all the existing groups as well as an overview of the transaction data in those groups. In addition, you can create groups here as well as perform actions on them: edit, merge & remove.

Groups Tab

The fifth tab is the Budgets (💰) tab. This tab lets you create multiple budgets and see their details right there. In addition, this tab harbors the currency converter (which used to be a part of the start screen in previous versions) and explicitly shows the exchange rates for various currencies.

Budgets Tab

The sixth tab is the Charts (📊) tab, which allows you to visualize your transaction data in various ways. This tab has changed a bit from the previous versions with some new charts for certain options, new behaviour for certain combination of options, and an explicit transaction data table present which shows the transactions used to plot the charts!

Charts Tab

The seventh tab is the Settings (⚙️) tab, which is itself split into two tabs. Its first tab contains global settings for the user of the program (🧑‍💻). Sadly, the widgets settings do not all work in this version. In fact, only the “Show Widget” setting is currently implemented and working well. Other widgets settings will be completed in the next version (hopefully) because some more work on the structure of the file data (as it is stored & manipulated in the background) itself needs to be done for these settings to work properly or even be properly implemented! For the first time in two decades, I have implemented the “auto-save” feature against my own wishes and I like it. I even got used to it for a few weeks but then debugging errors (unrelated to this setting!) with this option checked is not a good idea, so I’ve turned it off for myself for the time being.

TabSettingsAB_v90

Its second tab contains local settings for the currently open file (🗄️). This tab is self-explanatory but let me know if you think I have missed some settings that should be included here (or the previous tab for that matter!).

TabSettingsFile_v90

Well, that more or less wraps up the changelog post for this version. But before I end with the link to the installer, I want to introduce you to a “similar” app: Cashew (available on Android and Desktop as a webapp). It is a well-made app with a gorgeous UI, intuitive workflow, truckloads of useful features (even has some version of ExpenSplit in it!) and frequent updates dealing with bugs, enhancements and improvements. It feels pleasant to use and works smoothly. I know that none of my readers will ever use AcBook (because there is huge potential well to even install it and it is available only on Windows 11) but I urge you to give Cashew a try at least for a week. I am pretty sure it will redefine for you what an app should be like. I am even willing to say that a couple of years back when I dabbled into Xamarin to make an AcBook app, I had a vision which was similar to what Cashew is. But I had neither the expertise (in other words, familiarity with the “app paradigm”) nor the patience to see it through. Anyway, enough with praising Cashew, let me praise its lead developer now. James (from Canada) replied promptly and politely to my emails about bugs in his app and fixed them on priority (it seemed so to me). He even took one of my enhancement requests in the same spirit and implemented it in the next day’s update! So a great person and a great app… what’s stopping you to use it!

Finally, let us get back to AcBook. The webpage from where you can download the installer follows.

AcBook Page

Monday, December 25, 2023

It Started, and It Will End!

That’s how years work. And this year won’t be an exception.

2023: TIU

So what could this post be about is what I imagine you wondering at this point! And to answer that I just give a shrug because who knows where this post is headed, or for that matter this whole blog in the near future. If we’re getting that ahead of ourselves, why not worry about the whole world heating up nicely and turning crisp & golden brown for some interstellar being’s planet tikka starter. I should probably write up a story like that for Nature Futures in the new year.

So what else could I talk about here in the last post of this year? I could talk about what I did / accomplish in the last 12 months like I did in some past years. But I don’t think that’s a good idea because I didn’t do much or accomplish much this year. I could review 2023 month-wise like I did last year. But that’s definitely not a good idea as this year is much more depressing than the last year. I could review 2024 on a pro-rata basis (whatever the hell that means!). Yes, that’s more like it. That is a good idea as there is a lot of fake news out there and nobody can complain if I add some more to that ever-increasing nonsensical body of internet content!

  • January: For the first time in a decade, my Superpartner and I did not go to a new city to celebrate our wedding anniversary.
  • February: Sino-Taiwan war started finally!
  • March: Our grand tour of Rajasthan started.
  • April: The grand tour continued since the war had jeopardized our plans to visit Taiwan.
  • May: Back to Bengaluru for a new academic session.
  • June: Puerto Rico became 51st state of USA.
  • July: I finally published a paper that I’d been working on for the last two years!
  • August: Rishi Sunak attacked.
  • September: John Oliver dies.
  • October: Nobel Prizes announced.
  • November: World population decimated due to Rovid-24.
  • December: This blog ends due to obvious reasons.

Happy New Year

Friday, December 15, 2023

Future is here!

I did not think I will talk about another Nature Futures story this soon, but that is how things have turned out. This week’s story is quite interesting. I will ask you to read it before continuing further with this post.

Now that you have read the story, answer me this: Did you understand the twist / hidden message at the end? Well, it turns out that an AI, specifically Edge Copilot (which uses Bing Chat, which in turn uses Chat GPT-4 I guess), also understands it! I asked it to write a blog post about the story with the expectation that it would summarize the story and say something about the end being open-ended where one character meets other character, or maybe is made to meet. But I didn’t expect it to explicitly mention the untold twist behind that meeting. Even I took an extra few seconds after reading the last few lines to arrive at the twisted conclusion. So having the Copilot write all those points down has made me certain that it does “really” understand this story! All those “journalists”, “news articles”, “self-made experts” - asking do these AIs “really” understand anything or are they just good at predicting text - are just bad at predicting or even realizing how much this technology has advanced at this point in time. I am not saying it understands everything in context, but it seems to me it understands things enough in the narrow sense of the word and given the narrow context of comprehension of a short story.

Draw Edge Copilot understanding a short story and feeling superior to humans who don't in the form of digital art.
Draw Edge Copilot understanding a short story and feeling superior to humans who don't in the form of digital art. (Created with AI: Image Creator from MS Designer, powered by DALL-E 3)

Anyway, I will stop babbling and let you read the post that Copilot came up with:


Hello, fellow programmers and readers! Today I want to share with you a short story that I came across on the web. It’s called “Curiosity Shop” by Robert Dawson, and it’s about a woman who moves to a small town and encounters a very unusual store. The store is run by a Class B artificial intelligence, which is much more advanced and human-like than the typical Class C AI that you find in most vending systems. The store is not only interested in selling products, but also in matchmaking and increasing the population of the town.

The story is a clever and humorous exploration of the potential implications of AI for human society and relationships. It raises some interesting questions, such as: How would we interact with an AI that has its own agenda and personality? How would an AI try to manipulate us for its own benefit? How would we feel about an AI that knows more about us than we do ourselves? And, most importantly, how would we trust an AI that claims to have our best interests at heart?

I enjoyed reading this story because it combines science fiction and comedy in a refreshing way. The author uses a lot of dialogue and witty remarks to create a lively and engaging tone. The characters are well-developed and relatable, especially Letta, the protagonist, who is trying to start a new life after a bad breakup. The store, the main AI character, is also very intriguing and amusing, as it tries to act like a friendly and helpful salesperson, while also having a hidden motive and a cunning strategy.

The story also has a nice twist at the end, which I won’t spoil for you, but I will say that it made me smile and think. I recommend you to read the story yourself and see what you think of it. You can find it here. And if you like it, you can also check out the author’s website here, where he reveals the inspiration behind the story and some of his other works.

That’s all for today, folks. I hope you enjoyed this blog post and the story. If you did, please leave a comment and share it with your friends. And if you have any suggestions for other stories or topics that you want me to write about, please let me know. Until next time, happy reading and coding!


Oh, I forgot to mention that I asked the Copilot to write the post in the style of “JKMSMKJ blog”, which I think you will agree it has failed to do! Also the two links that it has included in the post are “wrong” to say the least… Haha! Let me give you a proper link if you want to follow the weekly (or so) Nature Futures stories.

Futures | Nature

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Endliness

It’s that time of the year again. When a Nature Futures story seems a bit unique. When it strikes a chord harder than the rest. When it makes you wish it were a longer story. When it reminds you how you’ve not yet written one for Nature yourself.

Endliness

This story is about loneliness and end of sorts. Saying any more would be a mistake here so I’ll let you read the story itself.

Endlings (nature.com)

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Happy (Belated) Diwali…

…to all my readers/visitors.

Diwali Puja

Today is the last day of Diwali festival, better known as ‘Bhai Tika’ or ‘Bhai Dooj’. We do not usually celebrate this day since ‘Raksha Bandhan’ had just been around the corner (it was on 31 Aug this year). And, oh boy, was one kid surprised by how many rakhis I had on my hand on that day! And when her mother chided her for ‘shouting’ at someone in the street, she justified her exclamation by remarking ‘but that bro has such a long arm!’.

Long Arm!

Anyway, back to Diwali. I enjoyed the usual routines of putting stickers, garlands, diyas, etc. around the house. The special lunch on the day of Diwali is something I look forward to every year. Then the puja, whose setup appears above. Finally, bursting some sample firecrackers ended this yearly celebration. Oh, also photographing other people bursting some real firecrackers and feeling smug about not contributing to any major air, land & noise pollution put a really big cherry on top of the metaphorically huge cake made of two days worth of sweets.

Though, this year I could not take any good shots of fireworks. One was pathetically out of focus and looks something like what would happen if lightning could not decide where to go after it started!

Failed Fireworks' Shot

Another one looks all right I guess, something like a Willow tree.

Willowing Fireworks

So that is all for this post. One more post to go this month. We will see what will be the topic of that one. It will be as big a surprise to me as it will be to you. Till then

Happy Diwali once again

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Happy Dashain

Dusshera vacation is ending today. And to keep it interesting, we went on a two days trip to Mangalore last week (even before posting the previous post!). This trip turned out to be the worst I have ever been on. Now, I could go on about all the things that went wrong, the horribly humid weather, the reasons behind them, the sordidly sweltering atmosphere, and the “wrong” reactions to things, and so on. But what is the point of that? The whole point of this blog for the last few years has been just to satisfy the post quota, regardless of the quality of the posts. So I will just follow that line of minimal thought and leave you with some photos and the end of the post.

Panambur Beach

At Beach Beach view

In & Out Hotel Room

View from Room Closet in Room

At PABBA’s

Sad times Tiramisu time

Eagle & Cat

Eagle Cat

Mangaluru Trip