Monday, April 21, 2014


I was once interested in Artificial Intelligence (enjoyed I, Robot) but then I never really understood how can you program a machine to ‘learn’ so the interest sort of faded away. Then I took a Neuroscience course a couple of years ago and coded (to get a first-hand feel, not that I invented it!) something called a Perceptron, which can be ‘taught’ to do some binary operations. So it rekindled my interest in AI, though I guess I’ll never code one myself as was shown in the recent movie ‘Transcendence’. (Watch it if you’re interested in the portrayal of humans’ collective dumbness in action!) These were slight brushes on my arms of AI over the years but one that hit me right in the face was Cortana, the digital personal assistant in Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview. Following the demo video (linked above), I also played around with setting reminders, searching directions, calling people, playing music and most importantly, asking ‘funny’ questions. (The success rate of my ‘accent’ getting recognized seems to be slightly more than 50%, but whatever is recognized is ~100% accurate.) Here are the answers I received from Cortana (you can figure out the questions or just peek!):

Where are you from?

Are you dead?

Where is Clippy?

Do you like Clippy?

What do you think of Clippy?

Are you bored?

For more interesting questions and answers, watch this video:

Now you know what to avoid :)

I haven’t tried ‘people reminder’, which is supposed to be the unique feature of Cortana but I did try (actual need!) ‘place reminder’. Here’s the story: I forgot to buy sugar when I went for grocery shopping last week so I asked Cortana to remind me when I next go for shopping. She inquired where do I go for shopping and gave options: Waldbaum’s was the second option. I chose it and the reminder was set; note that she didn’t ask about the time! I was at Waldbaum’s yesterday and lo & behold I saw a message on my Phone reminding me to buy sugar! (Not that I was going to forget again but it’s nice to know ‘geo-fencing’ works!)

As I have mentioned already, I watched ‘Transcendence’ yesterday and Cortana correctly identified the nearest theatre when I asked it to find one in the morning. She also showed me the driving details. I then asked her if I can walk there to which she replied, ‘Sure… here is the walking route’ and opened up the Windows Maps app. It would be better if in the final version of WP8.1, one could choose Here Maps as the default maps app.

With such a technology in place, all you need to do is ‘ask the right questions’ and ‘ask them clearly’. It doesn’t sound quite right listening to

‘Sorry, I didn’t get that.’

Monday, April 7, 2014

First look at Shayari…

… in this year. I really liked some of the Shers that came up on Anubhuti couple of weeks back so tried translating the Ghazal named इरादों का”.

इरादों का बड़ा पक्का रहा हूँ
खुदा का नेक दिल बंदा रहा हूँ

Iraadon ka bada pakka raha hun
Khuda ka nek dil banda raha hun

Have been strong willed forever
Have been good hearted forever

मेरे घर फूल बरसाओ बहारों
कि खारों से बहुत ऊबा रहा हूँ

Mere ghar phool barsaao bahaaron
Ki khaaron se bahut ooba raha hun

Shower flowers on my house, O Spring
As I have been bored of thorns forever

तिज़ारत दिल का वो करने लगे हैं
हिसाबे-प्यार में कच्चा रहा हूँ

Tizaarat dil ka woh karne lage hain
Hisaabe-pyaar mein kachha raha hun

While he has indulged in trading hearts
I’ve been a bad love-accountant forever

सज़ा दे दी मुझे मेरे खुदा ने
कि तेरे बाद भी जिन्दा रहा हूँ

Saza de di mujhe mere khuda ne
Ki tere baad bhi zinda raha hun

My God has given me this punishment
Even after you, I’ve been alive forever

कि रिश्तों में नहीं है बात अब वो
लगा यों बोझ मैं ढोता रहा हूँ

Ki rishton mein nahin hai baat ab woh
Laga yon bojh main dhota raha hun

Relationships aren’t what they used to be
I have felt dragging them along forever

बगावत कर ली जो मैंने ही घर से
दुखा के माँ का दिल रोता रहा हूँ

Bagaawat kar lee jo maine hi ghar se
Dukha ke Ma ka dil rota raha hun

It is true that I have rebelled against my home but
Breaking mother’s heart has left me in tears forever

कहा उसने तो मैंने जान दे दी
बहुत वादे का मैं पक्का रहा हूँ

Kaha usne to maine jaan de di
Bahut vaade ka main pakka raha hun

I gave away my life when he asked for it
Have stayed firm on my promises forever

फ़साने याद फिर आने लगे वो
मुसलसल रात भर रोता रहा हूँ

Fasaane yaad phir aane lage woh
Musalsal raat bhar rota raha hun

Have started reminiscing about the past stories
Have been weeping through the nights forever

अज़ब ही बात थी उसकी गली में
अभी तक मैं वहाँ जाता रहा हूँ

Ajab hi baat thi uski gali mein
Abhi tak main vahan jata raha hun

There is a strange thing about his street
I have been roaming around it forever

बहुत प्यारी लगी हमको जो चीज़ें
उन्हें पाने को मैं तरसा रहा हूँ

Bahut pyaari lagi humko jo cheejen
Unhen paane ko main tarsa raha hun

Those things that I loved the most
Have longed to obtain them forever

चरागाँ कर लिया हमने भी घर को
अँधेरों में बहुत घुटता रहा हूँ

Charaagaan kar liya humne bhi ghar ko
Andhere mein bahut ghutta raha hun

I too have brightened up my house now
Have suffocated in the darkness forever

–अमित दुबे (Amit Dubey)

Read more of his works here.