Weekly Brief #2

This week, I have quotes on making dreams a reality, individuality, peace, and jealously as an indicator of success.

Also included are two amazing articles to how to deal with an awkward social situation we’ve all come across, and how to be a better leader.

Continue reading “Weekly Brief #2”

Get this Clear: People Will Not Give Up Luxuries to Protect the Environment

Anthropogenic activities sure do harm the environment. But I am rather appalled at some solutions (taught to schoolkids) which advocate abstaining from luxury and our sensual pleasures.

People will never give up their luxuries and sensual pleasures to save the environment. That’s not a solution. There’s a better way to do this.

Read more.

Why Black Money is a Menace

We all talk about “black money”. Those huge stashes of undisclosed money, mostly cash, tucked away secretly by certain individuals in safe havens.

We drool over it. We say it’s bad. We say it’s illegal, it’s unjust, it’s unfair, it damages the economy, and so on. We talk about everything but the point. But wait, hold on a second.

                   Image Credit: www.rvs.school.nz

There’s the reason why it’s a menace! The last point, up there. Yeah, it damages the economy, or, to put it a bit more quaintly, it affects the health of the economy. Few manage to get beyond accusing those with stashes of black money. As for the few who are able to surmount this first barrier, many get stuck at the second.

How does black money affect the economy? To get that, we first need to go through some basic economics.

What exactly is “Black Money”?

The first part is more of lexicography than economics. Yes, I’m referring to the metaphorical use of the word “black”.

Loosely speaking, when we refer to black money, we are referring to any form of money that the government can’t keep track of.

Image Credit: opinion.bdnews24.com

So, how does the government keep track of money? Through taxes. Rates of specific taxes are fixed. Suppose, you are paying 14.5% VAT on a restaurant bill. When this VAT gets deposited with the government, a simple back-calculation reveals the total bill amount.

For example, if VAT is the only tax charged on a bill, and the government receives 145 INR as VAT, rate of VAT being 14.5%, it knows that the bill amount must have been 1000 INR.

Same goes for other taxes: customs, central excise, service tax, and so on. So for income tax: merely by knowing the amount of tax you pay, the government knows how much you earn every month.

There are other methods too, such as, bank transaction records, credit card bills, and so on.

In fact, there is a separate branch of intelligence known as revenue intelligence, or financial intelligence, that keeps track of this paper trail you leave behind. And thus, it knowns how much money is circulating, in addition to where, when and how.

This is a complex system. Financial Intelligence is no cup of tea. And like every system, it has its own set of loopholes. When you manage to successfully exploit these loopholes and siphon off money with the financial apparatus of the State unable to keep track of it, such money becomes “black”.

Going “off-grid”

In today’s world of computerized banking, it is increasingly difficult to go “off-grid”. Most of our transactions no longer involve paper money or coins, it involves sending computer commands to update that imaginary value known as your “bank account balance”. And all of it is logged. It’s a gold mine for financial intelligence, it’s easy to keep track of.

What isn’t easy to keep track of is paper money, and coins. You’re using it everyday. You’re paying the bus conductor, the taxi driver, the hawkers, and so many hundreds of other people. Most of these transactions are not taxed.

So, it’s difficult to keep track of. Although there are ways, if you don’t declare to the government how much money you’ve transacted, and if you manage to do it properly, it often goes unnoticed.

That’s why, most of the black money is cash. It’s why criminals don’t take payment with credit cards (the sanity of one who does is to be doubted). It’s why bribes are given in cash. Paper money doesn’t have a GPS tag or an RFID chip attached to it to keep track of.

Economic Policymaking

Every country has what is known as a Central Bank, which is empowered by national legislation to use various measures to control the state of the economy. As for India, our Central Bank happens to be the Reserve Bank of India, its governing legislation being the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934.

The Central Bank is the chief economic policymaker of the country. Through various indicators, it monitors the health of the economy, and is empowered by legislation to accordingly take various measures (such as, modifying interest and exchange rates) as it sees fit to keep the national economy in proper shape.

Intricacies of this delicate game aside, knowledge is power. The key for the Central Bank to make appropriate decisions about maintaining the economy is being aware of what the hell is going on. And the fundamental element in that process involves keeping track of money (which is pretty much all economics revolves around): how fast it’s changing hands, how much leaves the country, how much enters the country, and so on.

Image Credit: in.reuters.com

Only when does it have a full picture is it able to make an effective evaluation of the economy and do what it has to accordingly.

The Art of Governance

The another, perhaps more important reason why governments cry hoarse over untaxed money is loss of revenue. 

The art of governance involves keeping money in circulation.

Your job as the government is to take money from the people, and then use that very same money to give services from the people. The people avail such services by giving you more money, and the cycle goes on and on.

Similarly, when people work for you, you’re paying them money. Some of it comes back to you as taxes, which you’re again using to deliver services and pay salaries, and……..

That’s all governance is about. Keep the money circulating. Because it’s job is to look after us. And this is how it’s all done.

The Problem

So, when you exploit loopholes in the system and go “off-grid”, the Central Bank effectively loses track of your money. And when it loses track of your money, it is unable to factor in the effect of such money when evaluating the health of the economy. What happens as a result is an erroneous analysis of the economy, which in turn leads to (slightly) miscalculated corrections that do not have the entire required effect on the economy.

Secondly, when you don’t pay your taxes, you are disturbing the money circle that is like a match made in heaven for allowing the government to do its job: deliver services.

No wonder governments go crazy about black money!

Image Credit: Tumblr

The Truth About Portraits

Photography is something that I have grown up being extremely familiar with. I am used to a camera with a shiny lens being pointed at me every since I was born.

I remember playing with cameras at an early age, the memories stimulated by the pictures of my own innocent childhood, which ultimately led to me to take my very first photograph at the age of four.

I have learnt much of my photography from my dad, and the rest by personal experience. One thing I very much noticed about my dad’s photography was what I believed to be his unique approach to portraits.

I always noticed that he liked more to take portraits discreetly, than with the person in the frame striking a pose for the same. Quite obviously, many were uncomfortable with this “odd practice”, often even scornful.

He had a logic for it. And I believed in it. I followed it, and I still do. I have no intention to budge from that in the near future.

Perhaps you have already noticed that most of my portraits are taken discreetly, with the person in the frame either not bothered, or perhaps he or she has not realised that I have pointed my 18-55 mm lens at them.

A discreet portrait, with the person totally unaware that I am taking her picture.

Another discreet portrait of my friend of my brother. She was totally unconcerned about me taking her picture, much like I am now totally indifferent to a camera pointed at me.

Another one such. Perhaps bro was totally unaffected, or perhaps he didn’t notice me. I won’t speculate.

That’s done with more or less some samples of my “discreet portraits”. Now then, let’s compare them to the “indiscreet portraits” which I have in my photography collection.

In fact, I, the photographer, was stimulated to take this photograph above when he looked at me in this way. And the next one too falls in the very same category.

Having gone through both the categories of portraits, which do you think are better. Alright, maybe not “better”, since that is an extremely relative term.

But I think the discreet portraits are certainly much more natural than the posed ones.

That was the philosophy my dad followed, and still does. And I too do.

I do not despise photographers who make people pose for their photo sessions. I actually like much of their work. But the truth is, if I am to make a choice, I would go for discreet portraits rather than posed.

Posing

Having said that, let me introduce you to the problems I often face since I follow this “out-of-the-world” policy.

Some people have a (crazy) habit of posing every time a camera is pointed at them, even when no one is asking them to.

You may be a stranger, a family member, a friend, an acquaintance…. doesn’t alter anything, at all. 

I find this especially irritating quite often, since many do not budge from their pose even when I request them to, for the sake of sticking to my principles.

Others are disappointed when I refuse to take portraits with them posing. They feel like that it is good to be self-conscious and put up a nice image of oneself to be documented to the world, which I feel lacks a bit of respect towards how an artist wants his or her piece of art to turn out.

At the end of the day, if you ask me which is better, I'd definitely 
say portraits taken discreetly, without the person in the frame 
being self-conscious of this appearance. 

We ought to respect everyone’s principles, even when they are antagonistic to ours.

The Tryst with Happiness

Argument for the day

If you are an atheist, you are bad. If you’re religious, you’re good. 

This familiar old debate, put forward by the believers,  has been ongoing for decades, ever since it was introduced among the masses during the period of the Renaissance in Europe.

Before I proceed further, let me set your expectations by publicly proclaiming that I am an atheist.

Nevertheless, I have sincerely tried to abide by the principles of fair debate. This is my personal take at this issue. I hope that the offended reader might forgive me.

Let’s make this argument in the spirit of the scientific method.

I, and anyone else who would try to use his rationale putting aside prejudices and bias, would say that the argument of the “believers” to defend their stand does not hold water.

Religion Does Not Preach Hatred

The most common argument used to defend believing in God, and religion, is that “religion makes you good”. The believers will then go on to cite several merely statistical examples of instances where the atheists have taken to all anti-social activities you can think of, and the believers have remained as they are………

Without even going into intricate details, I have a very simple question for them:

I can cite several examples of people taking to anti-social activities in the name of religion. How would you care to explain that? 

From my point of view, hitting out against humanity in the name of religion is a misinterpretation of what that religion preaches. No religion in the world preaches hatred for other human beings. 

Without going into religious philosophy, I am basing all my arguments with this firm belief in mind.

1. Being Good

Atheism makes being good impossible more difficult. 

This might seem hypocritic. But this is a fact in which I firmly believe.

If you would care to study the philosophy of all religions, you would come across one common point: all of them lay down certain guidelines by which its followers are expected to abide by. That is basically the fact that a value system is laid down before you, ready to be followed.

All people are not great. But the religions existent today were formulated by great (good) people. Therefore, the value system they laid down is what represents real values and good qualities. 

Besides, those believers who cannot intrinsically accept the value system laid down by their religion with heart and mind, often end up practising it due to the fear of God.

Whereas, if you are an atheist, there is no concrete value system laid down before you. You have to build your own value system. That is inherently more tough rather than following one already before you.

Every atheist is not a great (or good) person. The principles of the value system of his life, the atheist chooses himself, in its entirety. Thus, as a result, he may adopt principles or “values” in life that he believes to be good, which are intrinsically bad.

Whereas, what if atheists fail to formulate or believe in an intrinsic value system? This is where atheism suffers a serious disadvantage. If an atheist does not believe in a value system, the only way to keep him abiding by one is by the fear of something.

That ‘something’ cannot be God, they don’t believe in him. Our social system is such that it is easier to impart fear of God than a fear of something earthly. The job then becomes much more difficult. 

Those who can follow an intrinsic value system are the so-called “good atheists”, and those who can’t are known as the “bad atheists”.

THE CONDENSED IDEA
Religion makes you good. Atheism too makes you good, albeit with 
greater effort on your side.

Most people debating religion vs. atheism fail to proceed any further. Some do, and I too will.

2. Suicidal Tendency

Some people have even gone to the extent of linking (needless to say, unscientifically) atheism with suicidal tendency! In the following way.

Suicidal Tendency is directly proportional to the degree of atheism you embrace.

Hmm! Have we found any statistical proof for the same? I have never referred to, or even heard of any scientific research paper establishing such a connection.

I think I would like to slightly tweak that sentence quoted in bold.

One of the factors affecting suicidal tendency in a person is whether he has found purpose in life. 

Once again, religion makes it easier than atheism. It is so because every religion lays down a duty, a purpose in life for its every follower:

  • Service to self.
  • Indirectly, service to God by service to mankind.
  • And for some, only service directly to God.

Most believers take at least one of the three listed above as their purpose of life. Thus, every person who believes in God and adopts a religion automatically assumes a duty in life. 

When a man finds purpose in life, or he believes he has a duty to perform here on Earth, he thinks it worthwhile for him to live on Earth, and devote himself to that service.

When he does not, two possible things can happen:

  • He ends his life.
  • If not, he becomes an anti-social person.

Once again, atheism hits the court with a disadvantage. If you are an atheist, you need to find for yourself a purpose in life. That is once again more difficult than someone handing you a list of your duties you are to perform in your life. 

THE CONDENSED IDEA
One of the factors affecting suicidal tendency is finding 
purpose in life.

Religion makes it easy. If you're an atheist, you gotta
work it out yourself.

3. God gives us company

Perhaps the greatest human fear is loneliness.

We often embark in such conquests in life during which we fail to garner any support from people we are very close to, leave alone other people.

The greatest emotional breakdown occurs when we lose the support of the people with whom we have the strongest emotional bonds. The people on whom we depend for emotional stability.

We feel hopeless. Be it believers, or atheists. However, believers have an advantage. Religious philosophy says that God will always stand by you, if you do good. The believers ‘feel’ the presence of God as their emotional support.

Atheists cannot do that. The only way out of such a situation would be to have confidence in yourself. For that, you need to have a very high sense of self, which is easier said than done.

THE CONDENSED IDEA
God serves as an emotional support in times
of loneliness.

Atheists have to develop enough self-esteem
to go without anyone in times of 
loneliness on Earth.

4. Atheism tenders humanism

Arguably the greatest advantage of tending atheism rather than religion is that you remain totally grounded to the Earth.

Religion teaches us to pray to God in order to ask for what we want to accomplish. Yet, speaking of practical reality, both believers and atheists are aware of the fact that praying to God rarely accomplishes much. Once again, a victory for atheism!

Or is it not true? Well, from the point of view of psychology, praying does make you accomplish something. 

“Hooray! ” says the believer. “What did I tell you?” Whoa, not so fast, mate! I’m not done with my psychological perspective of the matter yet.

Praying works not because your prayers reach God, and he delivers on your requests. Absolutely not.

Prayers do work because of your brain. When you pray, you are actually convincing your brain to what you are saying as a ‘prayer’.

Perhaps contradictorily, therefore, I believe that atheists also should pray. Because of its tremendous psychological influence on your behaviour, which have often been demonstrated in scientific experiments.

A practical person knows that praying to God does not help. He knows that what he accomplishes in life is decided by he himself. He defines his future by his present actions. He knows that only he is responsible for what has happened, what is happening, and what is about to happen.

Practically speaking, God does not remote control humans. There is absolutely no evidence for that! If you wait for God to make you accomplish things in your life, you’ll never achieve anything.

By should you wait for something to happen to you which will never happen?

THE CONDENSED IDEA
Praying to God does not work. 

Be practical. You decide your present, and
therefore your future. No one else does.

The Conclusion

I personally believe that it would be unjust to definitely say which is a better choice: religion, or atheism. I believe that we should respect everyone’s choice, regardless of whether we agree with it. 

At the end of the day, the aim of the believer and the atheist boils down to one simple yet hard-to-achieve prospect: finding happiness in life. 

Those who cannot take the hard path of atheism take to religion. Those who can, they stick to atheism.

CLOSING NOTE
Religion and atheism are just two different paths 
to finding happiness in life, the former the 
easier, the latter the tougher.

We ought to respect every person's choice of 
either.

Mars now has a MOM

Remember the Mars Orbiter Mission? Yes, that’s the fancy thing that the Indian Space Research Organisation launched on November 5, 2013.

The Mars Orbiter being prepared for a pre-launch test, at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. Image Credit: ISRO

The MOM was launched using the famous Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, which has so far been the most successful launch vehicle ever in Indian aeronautical history, and among the most successful in the world. Only its maiden mission was a failure.

MOM was put into Low Earth Orbit by a mission PSLV titled PSLV C25.

PSLV C25 lifting off from First Launch Pad of the only Indian spaceport in Sriharikota. Image Credit: ISRO

The Mars Orbiter Mission is equipped with a main engine known as the Liquid Apogee Motor, and six smaller thrusters. The smaller thrusters were simultaneously fired six times through the month of November to slowly raise the apogee of the Low Earth Orbit of the MOM.

A firing of the Liquid Apogee Motor on November 30, 2013 pushed the spacecraft hurtling towards Mars.

MOM has used an orbit known as the Hohmann Transfer Orbit to get to Mars fast, and at the same time, by using the minimum fuel.

A Hohmann Transfer Orbit. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

This is the most efficient type of orbit to get to Mars from Earth. The spacecraft is first put into Low Earth Orbit by a launch vehicle, which is indicated in the infographic by the green line.

The thrusters are then fired to give a boost to the spacecraft, and therefore raise the apogee of the orbit, thus putting the spacecraft into a new, elliptical orbit, indicated in the infographic by the yellow line.

Another firing of the thrusters further raises the apogee of the orbit, and puts the spacecraft into a trajectory that would send it hurtling straight towards Mars.

Trajectory corrections besides these two main firings of the thrusters may be performed as and when necessary. 3 such trajectory correction maneuvers were planned for MOM, out of which only two were ever deemed to be necessary and performed.

Before leaving for Mars from Low Earth Orbit, MOM used its on-board camera to image home. Image Credit: ISRO
This fascinating image was shot on November 19, 2013, at 13:50 IST (08:20 UTC). I can safely presume I was then lazin’ away during the last period in school! It was taken from an altitude of 67,975 km, with a resolution of 3.53 km per pixel of the camera.
Meanwhile, towards the end of the long journey to Mars, ISRO began posting pictures giving a rare look in the processes involved in the manufacturing of the orbiter. They are available of the official Facebook page of ISRO.

September 16, 2014

ISRO issues a status update stating that all commands required for autonomous insertion of MOM into Mars orbit have been successfully uploaded to the orbiter. The 32 metre large antennae of the Indian Deep Space Network, commanded by ISTRAC (ISRO Telemetry, Tracking & Command Network) was used to send the commands to the spacecraft.

Image Credit: ISRO

A few days later, ISRO released another infographic on its Facebook page that detailed the ground stations that would be used by ISRO for the MOM:

  • ISRO’s own Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) ground station near Bangalore
  • 3 other ground stations of the NASA Deep Space Network (NDSN) located in Madrid, Goldstone, and Canberra
Image Credit: ISRO
Image Credit: ISRO

In this context, it would be worthwhile to note that the first messages sent home whether MOM has been successfully put into Mars orbit would be sent to the Canberra ground station of the NDSN, as it would be the first ground station to have the spacecraft in its footprint.

That would be before the spacecraft is able to feed back detailed information back to ISRO once it appears in the footprint of the IDSN.

Liquid Apogee Motor Test Firing

ISRO later announced that since the 3rd Trajectory Correction Maneuver had not taken place as it was deemed unnecessary, there was enough fuel to carry out a test firing of the LAM, which had been inactive since December, when it pushed MOM hurtling towards Mars.

It was deemed necessary as there were initial apprehensions among technicians that something might go wrong with it due technical issues involved with its long period of inactivity.

Image Credit: ISRO

 A Wonderful Infographic

ISRO later released another wonderful infographic detailing the precise steps that would be involved in inserting MOM into Mars orbit. 

Instead of me talking, let the infographic do it all for you.

Image Credit: ISRO
The infographic detailing the steps involved in inserting MOM into Mars orbit. Image Credit: ISRO

Another Status Update

This was posted on September 19, 2014, at 07:58 IST, on the official Facebook page of ISRO.

Image Credit: ISRO
Image Credit: ISRO

Another Informative Infographic

ISRO soon released another infographic on September 21, 2014. I say, ISRO is becoming social media – savvy with this mission, indeed.

Image Credit: ISRO
Image Credit: ISRO

September 22, 2014; 06:00 IST

ISRO declares that MOM has entered the Gravitational Sphere of Influence of Mars.

Image Credit: ISRO

LAM Test Firing Commences

ISRO later added that the scheduled test-firing of the Liquid Apogee Motor would take place at 14:30 IST on September 22, 2014.

Image Credit: ISRO
First step towards success. Image Credit: ISRO

The operation was then declared a resounding success, relieving the worried minds of many, including me.

Image Credit: ISRO
Success achieved. Image Credit: ISRO

ISRO indeed had a redundant plan should the LAM not perform as expected. However, that would have resulted in a partially successful mission. Nevertheless, that possibility has now been eliminated, and the mission proceeds as expected. 

Live Webcast

As of all major events, the Mars orbit insertion, which will go down as a historic milestone, shall be broadcasted live by the State broadcaster, Doordarshan.

10407656_1555502054673151_2570646093292577551_n

As this infographic says, a broadcast will be starting from 06:45 IST, or 01:15 UTC, on September 24, 2014. 

It is true that a live webcast would be available on the website of ISRO, but let me set your expectations by mentioning that it requires you to install a Windows Media Player Plugin, which comes with its own set of problems. In one word: don’t try it.

If you plan to watch on TV, well and good. Since the broadcast is being done by Doordarshan, a live stream of the same should be available on their official YouTube page:

http://www.youtube.com/user/doordarshannational


Update: Mission Successful!

September 24, 07:09 IST: ISRO Telemetry, Tracking & Command Network (ISTRAC) confirms that they have telemetry indicating that the Forward Rotation of the spacecraft has started.

“Forward rotation of MOM is essential in order to make the direction of firing opposite to the direction of motion of MOM,” explained ISRO in a Facebook post.

Image Credit: ISRO

September 24, 07:12 IST: Spacecraft enters eclipse, meaning that it went into the shadow of Mars. The Sun was blocked, but telemetry to Earth was available, as Earth was still in MOM’s line of sight.

Image Credit: ISRO

September 24, 07:18 IST: The Liquid Apogee Motor is expected to have started firing. Telemetry was instantly not available as it takes radio signals about 12 minutes to reach Earth from the Red Planet.

September 24, 07:24 IST: Spacecraft enters occultation, meaning that Mars comes in between MOM and the Earth, blocking all communication between them.

Image Credit: ISRO

September 24, 07:30 IST: ISTRAC receives telemetry from MOM, thus confirming that the engine burn of the Liquid Apogee Motor is proceeding as planned.

Image Credit: ISRO

September 24, 07:42 IST: A post on the Facebook page of ISRO says that the Liquid Apogee Motor is expected to have shut off by now. They have to wait till MOM comes out of occultation, and a further nerve-wracking 12 minutes for signals to be picked up by the Canberra ground station of NASA Deep Space Network.

Image Credit: ISRO

September 24, 07:50 IST: Occultation is now behind us! Telemetry must have activated. Allow it another nerve wrecking 12.5 minutes.”

Image Credit: ISRO

September 24, 08:02 IST: Victory! ISTRAC confirms that MOM has successfully been put into the intended Mars orbit, based on telemetry received from the spacecraft.

Image Credit: ISRO
Image Credit: ISRO

For those who wouldn’t mind watching an excruciatingly slow (although not relaxing) documentary of the whole event, take a look at this recording of the live broadcast by State broadcaster, Doordarshan, on the official broadcasting website of ISRO.

http://webcast.isro.gov.in/

Footnotes

It would be worthwhile to note that the Mars Orbiter Mission has been criticised, apparently on the basis that $ 74 million was spent on this mission. Such critics hold their ground by asking what justification is there to spend so much money of an “insignificant mission to another planet”, when half of the population of India doesn’t have a square meal every day?

To those people, let me ask, “How do you justify India spending at least twice that amount just to burn firecrackers during Diwali?” “How do you justify much more money being spent to just make the Hollywood film, Gravity, as Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, had famously made note of in a statement?

What about the applications of the technology developed for this mission? At the end of the day, almost all components of this whole mission came from private contractor or public sector companies in India, the same technology which they are now using for their daily jobs. The technical spin-offs we get from this mission are worthwhile in nation-building, as PM Mr. Modi reiterated in his statement today.

At the end of the day, the mission cost every Indian a mere four rupees! I don’t think Indians are so selfish not to sacrifice their evening tea of a day for this historic leap into space. 

I end by quoting Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi:

“Mars now has a MOM. And I know that MOM never despairs.” 

Dilemma’s Done?

I opened my eyes in bed, and probably still half-asleep, looked at my phone. The lock screen said in bold, “05:43”. What the…? Had I woken up so early, that too without an alarm? I always thought of myself as a tight sleeper, who cannot be woken up save by my phone’s alarm ringing at least a couple of times. 

Quite, you could say, disappointed, I went back to bed. But I could not sleep. Had enough. I waited to hear a sound from my phone. Finally it did, at 06:15 in the morning, the time I am supposed to wake up.

Today was the Computer Theory examination. One of my most-admired, and quite ironically, also often the most-hated examination of mine.

Most admired because it is the only subject in which you are guaranteed an 80% aggregate without studying absolutely nothing.

The most hated because you often have to write down stupid things: such as, steps to open MS PowerPoint, how to do Mail Merge in MS Word, how to exit MS Word……. all that absolute bullshit.

Not to speak of occurrences away from school, the first question my dad asked me after returning home was, “How was your Computer Exam? Any stupid questions this time, huh?” I gladly (not to mention, truthfully) mentioned that there were not “stupid questions”, and the programmes to be written down were as simple as they possibly could be. 

Image Credit: hdwallpapers.com

Some people, which includes my brother who has spent 9 years on Earth, were partying today, celebrating “Independence Day”, as it is the last day of examinations.

To me, this is not I-day. I was always quite indifferent to examinations, and still are, and probably will be in the near future. So it doesn’t matter whether it the starting of exams, or the ending of exams, or the beginning of holidays, or the ending of holidays. I go about with the same spirit. 

Of course, not to mention that I do look forward to vacations, so that I can spend some time with myself, and do what my passions and interests dictate.

That’s precisely what I am up to, right now.

First thing’s first: robotics. (And, Java)

If you probably recall, I had bought a LEGO Mindstorms EV3 Home Kit in August. In case you’re wondering, it is a kit that allows you to build robots of your choice with the famous LEGO bricks and elements, and then attach things like sensors, motors and gyroscopes to it. In a word, a LEGO model that can move by itself as you say.

Image Credit: Sagnik Sarkar (CC-BY-SA)

I believe that the graphics on the box are a bit too glamorous for a starter. Quite obviously, and quite expectedly, the one most impressed by it was my brother, and I impressed upon him, with my dad as support, that let’s go step by step. 

Let’s not jump the gun, or make that thing according to the manual. Start with basics, and then move on. Which I already know how to, having attended a Robotics Workshop during my summer holidays this year.

So, basically, I a CAD concept of the robot I want to build on a software known as LEGO Digital Designer, and then actually build it. Programming is done using a totally GUI-based programming software, based on LabVIEW. Needless to mention, I dislike GUI-based programming software.

I have discovered that there is an API and interpreter available for programming this thing with Java. Praise the Lord!

So now, my primary task would be to learn Java well enough so that I can use the API to programme this robot using Java. That would also help be in my academic, in the very same subject whose examination I had to give today. Started already, expecting to finish soon. As soon as possible!

Second Thing’s Blogs.

I have in bag many blogs that I plan to draft, review, and publish. Now’s the time to put them all through the fast pace, so expect lot more literature here soon.

No trailers, please! And no special requests for trailers, too.

Third Thing’s Photography.

During these two (‘valuable’) weeks of examinations, I had done quite a lot of photography. Needless to mention, I’ve got a huge backlog, lots of pictures to stitch into panoramas, much more to be edited and processed, and embedded with the watermark.

Then uploaded, captioned, copyrighted, and shared. All this takes place during this following week.

And more.

I don’t possibly know what else. I am leaving for a nice two weeks’ trip to Bhutan next Friday, so I need to at least get all these targets fixed up for good by Friday afternoon.

Whatever happens, blogs and social media of mine will be woken up from today after a long slumber.

An Accident, Perhaps

We have conventionally been taught that accidents are bad, and should be avoided. Ok, admitted, I’m probably generalizing a bit too much, but it holds too.

Well, a different approach to look at the whole issue would be that accidents are good.  Sometimes, they can be.

For example, thanks to Alexander Fleming neglecting to clean his laboratory, he discovered penicillin. I believe that we must all be ready to accept the consequences of our accidents and mistakes. Mind you, they might just be good.

Image Credit: Sagnik Sarkar (CC-BY-SA)

Want more examples? Sure is. This is an example.

A result of me mistakenly opening the Camera app on my phone, and then accidentally snapping a picture of myself in the mirror trying to close it.