Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Expense Splitter…

…or ExpenSplit in short, has seen a major upgrade this year. It is such a major upgrade that it removes all the limitations that my Superpartner could point out all those years ago! These will be discussed as spacetime allows but first, first things first: The look of the program has more or less completely changed.

ExpenSplit - Main Screen

The top third now has not only the revamped data input table but also the text area for names of the group members. The latter used to appear as a popup window in earlier versions. What a dumb choice of GUI-making that was! Anyway, the input table is now more user-friendly with the drop-down menu in “Involved?” column having clear texts {‘Yes and Paid:’; ‘No.’; ‘No but Paid:’} (instead of earlier {+,0,-}!) to let one know what will be done with the input amount. The name and currency of each transaction now appear above the table. In addition, the total amount for each transaction is now also shown below the table.

ExpenSplit - Input

The middle third, as before, contains the table for splitting transactions. It might seem like nothing much have changed here (apart from the ‘Total’ column) but this table can show the data in two different formats now. One is the usual ‘Splits View’ and the other is what I have called the ‘Transfers View’ which shows positive and negative numbers with straightforward connotation of ‘pays’ and ‘gets’, respectively. This table will also get an extra column added for currency if one enables the multi-currency option.

ExpenSplit - Transfers

The bottom third, as before, contains the table for calculating payments. It might again seem like nothing much have changed here but this table can show the final payments in two different formats now. One is the usual ‘Detailed View’ and the other is what I like to call the ‘Simplified View’, which just writes down the payments as instructions. Also, when muti-currency option is enabled, the currency for final payments can be chosen and the instructions are updated accordingly.

ExpenSplit - Payments

Let me now properly point out the elephant in the room that has been casually pointed at in the above paragraphs. Yes, transactions in multiple currencies in a single file are now supported in ExpenSplit, for my Superpartner’s sake. This feature is enabled from the ‘Options’ menu. The data is obtained from and the user is recommended / urged to get an API key from there to update the exchange rates bundled with the program. Those rates will be way out-dated by the time you get your hands on this program. (If this feels familiar to you, good to know that you use AcBook.)

Let me also point out that the two ‘new’ formats in the latter two tables have not appeared out of thin air, but are just the data that were saved to an Excel file (along with the .mat file) in earlier versions. This inclusion of double ‘views’ in the tables suggested some changes for how the data is saved in this version. That is, saving data in the .mat file and in an Excel file are no longer done via a single button. The ‘Save’ button just saves the data to a .mat file whereas a new ‘Export’ button saves the data to a properly formatted Excel file. (Again, this should remind you of AcBook.) These operations along with a couple of others like setting (& getting) default names and currency are done via the new menu bar and toolbar.

ExpenSplit - Top Bars

Yes, the toolbar has returned (with 4 buttons) along with a revamped menu bar with a lot of never-before-seen options (which include those already discussed above) in this program (but familiar from my other programs, see the tabs near the top of this blog). Something that is not often appreciated is that the resizing behaviour of the GUI has become slightly better than before. This is due to the slightly ‘improved’ UIGridLayout, but the flexible grid feature of GUILT is still not here!

That is all that is ‘new’ and ‘improved’ in this version. Thanks for reaching all the way down here! Now go download this program and start sharing your expertise in splitting hairs or expenses, for that matter.

ExpenSplit 3.0

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Being Cultural…

Culture doesn’t make people; people make culture. –Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Half an hour of Culture

Let’s be ‘cultured’ in this day and age.

That’s all for this post. I will leave you with

Invisible Women

Friday, August 26, 2022

To Explain the World

As the year marches on, to meet the quota on this blog, I copy and paste here a post from my WordPress blog. Enjoy!

Stained Glass Window

Today is Ed Witten’s birthday, apparently. I recently completed S. Weinberg’s book “To Explain the World”, so I will instead collect some excerpts from that book here. Let’s start with one from near the beginning of the book.

There remains a poetic element in modern physics. We do not write in poetry; much of the writing of physicists barely reaches the level of prose. But we seek beauty in our theories, and use aesthetic judgments as a guide in our research.

I like the phrase “barely reaches the level of prose”. It really made me laugh out loud, while reminding me of a quote by Francis Crick:

There is no form of prose more difficult to understand and more tedious to read than the average scientific paper.

Moving on, Weinberg also cites the preface to the “Treatise on Light” by C. Huygens:

There will be seen [in this book] demonstrations of those kinds which do not produce as great a certitude as those of Geometry, and which differ much therefrom, since whereas the Geometers prove their Propositions by fixed and incontestable Principles, here the Principles are verified by the conclusions to be drawn from them; the nature of these things not allowing of this being done otherwise.

I like this “way of doing science” as it is how I think about theoretical physics research, especially high energy physics. Of course, the sentiment above is as valid for any theorist or experimentalist or phenomenologist or someone in-between. Because in my view, the phrase “⋯Principles are verified by the conclusions⋯” is so broad that the “conclusions” include everything from experimental results (Gedanken or physical or any other kind one could think of) to results in terms of equations (Abstract or useful or any other kind one could think of). This broad view further enforced by the next phrase “⋯nature of these things not allowing of this being done otherwise”, puts into perspective that the “dated” view of scientific method (Hypothesis → Experiment → Confirmation? → Theory or Re-Hypothesize!) is indeed “dated”. The scientific method should instead be thought of as “Principles → ??? → Consequences”. [A better discussion along similar lines can be found here.] The “???” could be anything from a one-page mathematical proof to a simple thought-experiment to a backyard contraption to a billion-dollar lab experiment to a decades-long development of a theoretical framework. The former view of a scientific method is good enough to be discussed in a nursery class where kids don’t even realize that something could be subtracted from 0 whereas the latter is what actually happens in the real world of scientific research. Though, even the real researchers could be in denial of this fact most of the time, because the early nursery education is quite hard to override, even by the time one becomes a faculty member. A personal example of this: after I finished my talk on “3d supersymmetric localization” at SNBose and asked one of the senior professors what he thought about the talk, he replied, “I am a real physicist”! I laughed out loud, and thought, “Oh, he’s that kind of a physicist!”. By “that kind” I, of course, mean someone who hasn’t been able to move past the above-mentioned nursery education.

Someone at this point will surely interject and say something like, “what about the real world?” or “what about this thing’s usefulness?” or “what about the real world applications?” or “when will I actually need this in my real life?”. For all those interjectors, I point my index finger towards the future posts which I will write on this blog slowly and steadily, but surely, as I continue burning various bridges. Because why not? In short, here are my two cents: Have you seen the real world recently? Why the hell would I ever think about it, except in my nightmares? Supersymmetry and Superspace is a much better and nicer place to live in and it turns out to be quite useful to avoid the real world, and that’s all I need in my real life!

That went off in a different direction than intended so let’s get back on track with another excerpt from the book.

The search for knowledge of practical value can serve as a corrective to uncontrolled speculation, but explaining the world has value in itself, whether or not it leads directly to anything useful.

This again echoes what I said above or rather, what I said above echoes these thoughts of Weinberg. Of course, it’s the latter.

We get intense pleasure when something has been successfully explained, as when Newton explained Kepler's laws of planetary motion along with much else. The scientific theories and methods that survive are those that provide such pleasure, whether or not they fit any preexisting model of how science ought to be done.

Weinberg so eloquently expresses the need to throw away the “outdated” view of the scientific method, which according to him, had outlived its usefulness already at the time of Newton. And finally,

The rejection of Newton's theories by the followers of Descartes and Leibniz suggests a moral for the practice of science: it is never safe simply to reject a theory that has as many impressive successes in accounting for observation as Newton's had. Successful theories may work for reasons not understood by their creators, and they always turn out to be approximations to more successful theories, but they are never simply mistakes.

Well-said but it seems this moral is not taken seriously even by many self-appointed real physicists in this day and age!

That’s quite a long post which I definitely did not intend for it to be. So let’s leave it there, as I move on to another book of Weinberg:

Third Thoughts

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Travelogue – Jaipur

It has been a long time since a travelogue featured on this blog. So it will feel different today! Earlier this year, when the first month was about to end, a wedding had been scheduled and postponed (no points for guessing the reason). But since our tickets were booked and we had plans after that wedding for our own wedding anniversary, we filled the void in our scheduling due to the wedding ‘cancellation’ with other things whose details don’t need to come out here. Our time for sightseeing Jaipur post the ‘now-non-extant’ wedding remained more or less the same.

We started with a simple lunch near the sight-seeing center of Jaipur, whose yellow bill (see below) was interesting to say the least. We had ordered two plates: 1 Ordinary Thali (plate) and 1 Rajasthani Thali. The difference being that the latter has an extra “Gatte ki Sabji”. (I think it also had an extra raita.)

Our First Lunch at Jaipur

Of course, we didn’t pay the extra ₹1. That’s just so that the bill doesn’t carry the inauspicious/fraudulent number 420. [This blog can carry such a number without any consequences, obviously!]

Then we visited the City Palace Museum, whose entrance fee was exorbitant. But since we were already there, what else were we supposed to do? We forked out the fee and got a A4 sized B&W ticket. They couldn’t even afford a colour printer with all that money they’re raking in! What the hell? Anyway, disappointed at this first interaction, we entered the place where the royals still live. Yes, this palace is ‘real’, as in, the royalties still live here. Though, those premises are not open for the tourists. There are other 6-8 places inside the palace, which have been converted to mini-museums, where one can roam around and admire ancient artefacts and learn some history. These mini-museums have different themes: clothing, weapons, art, furniture, etc. One room where the king held meetings with his ministers and public was also ‘on display’. Overall, it was a nice walk around this pristine palace.

City Palace - Where Pigeons Roost

Inside City Palace

After exiting, we planned to visit the nearby tourist attraction and an astronomical observatory of olden times: Jantar Mantar. The name Jantar Mantar is akin to saying Hocus Pocus I guess, because in ‘those times’ astronomy, astrology, magic & mystery were more or less the same! The entrance fees were not exorbitant here but they had another trick up their sleeve. They promoted a bundled-up scheme such that with a single ticket one could visit 8 tourist attractions in two days. We had only one day to spare and had time to visit 5 places at most. We thought to take up this jumbo ticket (believing there was some discount involved; but there was none as we realized the next day) as this would save us some time queueing up at the ticket counters.

Jaipur Tourism Ticket

Back to Jantar Mantar for now. First thing we did after entering its premises was to go to a projector room to learn about the history of this place and the science behind the huge observatory. It was very interesting but Sakura fell asleep and that ruined our plans to roam around the place! It was also nearing the closing time so we couldn’t have roamed around as much as I’d have liked. Anyway, she woke up after a few monkeys including baby monkeys showed up and started rummaging around water cooler and garbage. So that was the end of our scientific excursion.

On to the second day. Our plan was to go farthest from our hotel to the Am(b)er Fort and then weave our way back to the city center and finally to our hotel in the evening. Something like this (click for a large map!):

Touristy Route in Jaipur

Sadly, our driver had other thoughts and we ended up at Hawa Mahal instead of the Amber Fort! Anyway, we roamed around this place for a while and took some photos as well. City view is quite splendid from the high-rise tower at this place (click for a large panorama)!

Panoramic View from Hawa Mahal

Hawa Mahal

After that, we made sure the driver understood our planned route and we landed up at “Panna Meena ka Kund”. Quite a marvelous architecture as far as stairs go. The moss-covered pond not so much.

Panna Meena ka Kund

Then we made our way through narrow streets to the entrance of Amber Fort. Quite a crowd greeted us. But we were unfazed and roamed around the place as if no one was looking. Some interiors of this palace have too many entry and exit points so it can feel like a maze. We made enough loops to not get bored or frustrated, admired the architecture including a mirror hall, and exited via a Café Coffee Day. The shortcut cave to Jaigarh Fort was closed for renovation so we thought of skipping it altogether. I mean, if you can’t take a hidden shortcut in plain view from one fort to another, what’s the point!

Amber Fort

Garden inside Amber Fort

So, we skipped on to Nahargarh Fort (skipping Jal Mahal altogether), which used to be a residential fort of the royals, still feels like a maze with repeating patterns of architecture. Also, this palace is quite cool, literally! Airy rooms, corridors, cool breeze blowing everywhere. Very interesting construction, which reminded both of us of places our grand²-relatives lived. Not the grandiosity, of course, but the feel of the structure & organization of the central quadrangle, rooms, windows, doors, in-wall closets, etc.

Inside Nahargarh

Outside Nahargarh

With all this roaming around, lunch time was passing us by. So we made a beeline to a restaurant / hotel named “Laxmi Misthan Bhandar” that my father had suggested. It was a crowded affair but we got a table, though there was no parking available outside this place, so the driver went away someplace suitable for parking and for his own lunch I guess. We indulged ourselves as much our stomachs would let us, despite the prices being exorbitant once again!

Our Second Lunch at Jaipur

Then we headed on to our final destination, the Albert Hall Museum, the highlight of our trip. It is relatively small (compared to others we saw in this trip) but it is well-maintained and has well-captioned inventory. We saw our first ‘live’ Egyptian mummy up close in this museum (with its X-ray too). We can definitely recommend this place if you are visiting Jaipur for more than a day and suggest you spend at least 2 hours here. We barely spent an hour before Sakura started demanding we head back to the hotel because she couldn’t walk any more as her (and her imaginary animal friends’) legs had started aching. So we did the sensible thing and headed back to hotel because of my aching legs.

Albert Hall Museum

And so this worthwhile trip of 2022 came to an end. I leave you with the website of the hotel where we stayed.

Radisson Hotel

Saturday, May 21, 2022


…is the number of posts on this blog this year. But I hope to rectify that in the half or so remaining year. That is, in the rest of the year, this blog will see the required number of minimum posts published in more or less regular intervals. Let’s hope for that statement to turn out to be true. Otherwise, this year’s December will turn out to be quite hectic for me. Anyway, who all were disappointed with the “storyline” of the movie: Dr. Strange 2: Multiverse of Madness? With all those colourful visuals and masterful stunts and fun action scenes, who forgot to focus on the actual thread connecting those? That loss of focus led to an ending that seemed like a copout on the writers’ part. Which further led to seemingly insufficient enjoyment on my part. On the other hand, a recent Ghazal that I heard makes ‘insufficient’ the heart of its content, which somehow led to sufficient enjoyment and smiles all around my household. So we will read that Ghazal in the rest of this post. As usual, read the relevant tab above, before reading my translations below.

गुलशन में उसके हसने से गिणती कम पड़ जाती है
इतनी कलियाँ खिल जाती हैं, टहनी कम पड़ जाती है

Gulshan mein uske hasne se ginti kam pad jaati hai
Itni kaliyaan khil jaati hain, tahni kam pad jaati hai

As she laughs in the garden, the count seems insufficient
So many flower-buds bloom, the branch seems insufficient

कुजागर और किस्मत दोनों बनने ही कब देते हैं
जब मेरी बारी आती है, मिट्टी कम पड़ जाती है

Kujaagar aur kismat donon banane hi kab dete hain
Jab meri baari aati hai, mitti kam pad jaati hai

Both the potter and fate obstruct the creations
When my turn comes, the clay seems insufficient

कितने कड़वे लोग हैं, इनका लहज़ा कितना कड़वा है
चाहे जितनी चीनी फाँकें, चीनी कम पड़ जाती है

Kitne kadwe log hain, inka lahza kitna kadwa hai
Chaahe jitni cheeni faanken, cheeni kam pad jaati hai

Such bitter people, their temperament being so bitter
For all that sugar they gulp, the sugar seems insufficient

रूखी सूखी खाकर बच्चे खुश होकर सो जाते हैं
जिस दिन चटनी मिल जाती है, रोटी कम पड़ जाती है

Rookhi sookhi khaakar bachche khush hokar so jaate hain
Jis din chatni mil jaati hai, roti kam pad jaati hai

Stale and dry food is enough for kids to go to bed happily
Whenever they get chutney, the roti seems insufficient

मरना भी आसान नहीं है हम जैसे मज़दूरों का
फंदा छोटा पड़ जाता है, रस्सी कम पड़ जाती है

Marna bhi aasaan nahin ham jaise mazdooron ka
Fanda chhota pad jaata hai, rassi kam pad jaati hai

Death does not come so easily to labourers like us
The noose seems small, the rope seems insufficient

माँ के पाँव दबाकर जब मज़दूरी करने जाता हूँ
इतने पैसे मिल जाते हैं, मुट्ठी कम पड़ जाती है

Maa ke paanv dabaakar jab mazdoori karne jaata hun
Itne paise mil jaate hain, mutthi kam pad jaati hai

After caressing mother’s feet, when I go for work
I get so much money, the fist seems insufficient

छोटे मोटे पीर फ़कीरों के घुटनों तक आने में
अच्छे खासे लोगों को भी सीढ़ी कम पड़ जाती है

Chote mote peer fakeeron ke ghutnon tak aane mein
Achchhe khaase logon ko bhi seedhi kam pad jaati hai

Reaching the knee-level of ordinary hermits and paupers
Even for many good people, the ladder seems insufficient

डॉ नवाज़ देवबंदी (Dr. Nawaaz Deobandi)

What a Ghazal! Waah!! Waaah!!! It is such a pity that even the existence of seven Shers in this Ghazal seems insufficient.

Last Day @ Kolkata

Listen to it once more,

with this Link!

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Two Many Ends…

2022 starts… 2022 has started… And what a start!

One of my weekly staple manga “Dr. Stone” has ended after 232 chapters on 6th March this year. It was a great run for the last 5 years or so. I tried to summarize the manga in this post years ago. It was that and more, touching geoscience, food science, computer science, and even, rocket science towards the end. The last few chapters tied up the loose ends with an incredible twist. What a reveal! What an ending! What a sci-fi story at the very heart of it! Incredible.


One of the blogs that I follow is ending this month. More precisely, Loren Shure (author of the blog) is retiring from MathWorks at the end of this month. I feel like I have been following her MATLAB blog since my undergraduate days. Though, that might not be possible on grounds of reality. But it must definitely be somewhere between 10-15 years that I have been regularly following her blog. Her posts were fun to read, easy to follow and overall, taught something new, always! The same style showed in her YouTube Live Stream videos that she hosted a few times in the last year. Apparently a dozen, according to this playlist!

Given the imminent end-of-the-world, let us end this post with a great Sher from Dr. Nawaaz Deobandi.

दिए की लौ ने ऐसी बद्दुआ की
हवा बिखरी पड़ी है रास्तों में

Diye ki lau ne aisi baddua ki
Hawa bikhri padi hai raaston mein

The lamp’s flame has put such a curse
That the air lies scattered on the roads

–नवाज़ देवबंदी (Nawaaz Deobandi)

What a collection of words! What a Sher! Waah!! WAAH!!!

Nawaz Deobandi - All India Mushaira 2015