January 24, 2006

How python was born..

Guido van Rossum was one of the speakers at the SDForum talk this morning. Its always interesting to find out the reasons why a language was born, and thats exactly what he spoke about before he jumped into python internals.

Guido happened to live a perfect normal school kid life until high school when he discovered computers in his school basement 30 years ago. He jumped into Algol-60 Fortran and Pascal and then continued to learn other languages as he went along.

About 20 years ago, while he was working with C and Unix, he also worked on implementing a new language called ABC which was ported to Mac and PC (DOS). ABC was designed to be simple enough to teach people who don't know computers very well. They, infact, taught it to a librarian to test how easy it was. Unfortunately, though the philosophy behind ABC was good, its lack of integration was one of the cause of its failiure.

After ABC, Guido worked on implementing Amoeba, (a new OS) and soon realised that it required a scripting language. The lack of a bridge between shell and C, the experience of having developed an elegant scripting language (ABC), availability of some free at hand and having a lot of nice ideas on implementing a new language contributed to the reasons why Guido started thinking about a new language.

In 1989 (during christmas) he started working on these ideas. His objectives were clear, he wanted the simplicity of ABC, make it interactive (shell), make it extensible, work with other languages, and wanted it to be simple enough so that he can implement it himself. The time chosen to pick the name for the new language, according to Guido, was not more than a heartbeat.. and it had something to do with his pre-occupation with Monty Python's Flying Circus

And hence python was born...

January 15, 2006

Steve Jobs on a Movie poster

Mike Davidson is running a contest to design the best Steve Jobs Movie Poster
The quality of some of the submissions are quite good. However, more than the quality of some of the submissions, is the humor in it which caught my eye. Here is one which I liked

January 13, 2006

Holophonic sound: how do they do it ?

What is Holophonic sound, and how the heck do they  do it ? I've summarised my finding from the various sites I visited in search for an answer.

If you ask someone who understands GPS devices they will tell u that one needs atleast 3 satellites obtain a location fix in 2D, and atleast 4 to get a 3D fix. Human(and most of the animals from the animal kingdom) however, can do the same with just 2 eyes.

The human ear, similarly, has a remarkable ability to identify the source of a sound in three dimensions. But unlike 3D movies, which uses polarised glasses to show us movies from different angles to each eye, nothing similar existed for the ear for a long time. Stereophonic sounds which controls volume and channels to each ear have existed for a some time now. And if you have any home theatre system with more than 2 speakers you might have also heard surround sound effects in the comfort of your home.

If 2 cameras can accurately capture 3D images for the eye, why is it that 2 microphones and 2 speakers can't reproduce 3D surround sound ? I started pondering over this question when I first heard the holophonic mp3

The problem with the ear is that unlike the eye, the most complex part of the ear is unassuming that its easy to ignore its importance. For a true reproduction of surround sound using headphones, one has to take into account the contours of the ear which distorts each sound from different angles in a little different way. One way to do it is by placing migration phones insider a object which looks like head and has contours like the ear to distort the sound. The other way to do this, (which will soon invade the digital world if it hasn't already), is using mathematical models which can take a sound and its 3 co-ordinates as inputs and return a volume and delay for each ear. Its possible that such models already exist, however its not as widespread as it could be one day.

January 12, 2006

Google address translation

John Resig has come up with a very example of how to do address translation of a physical address into a lat/long using geocoder library. The examples he provided work only in US and Canada.

Apple's MacBook, Mobile crunch, google video store and blogofy

Steve Jobs launched the new year with a 15" Intel-based MacBook. Compared to the Powerbook, MacBooks are more than 4 times faster with just a small increase in price. If I hadn't bought my Powerbook in march last year, I would have definitely bought the MacBook this week. The other interesting feature on MacBook is the MagSafe connector which is nothing more than a simple power connector using magnets to stick to the laptop which easily give way when someone trips over them.

Techcrunch gave birth to a new blog today Mobilecrunch, which would be written by Oliver Starr and will focus purely on mobile technology.

Google video store has opened up.... and all of you who were waiting for it should probably pack up and leave now. Google might have got the search part right, but the UI is probably one of un-appealing. If you really want to see how a video store should look like you can start looking at iTunes which does a good job of helping you find what you are looking for.

January 09, 2006

H.R.3402: Shutting down anonymous posts on internet ?

Decian McCullagh  mentions that H.R.3402 has provisions which make it criminal offence to post a message without disclosing your true identity. The prohibition is part of the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act

The prohibition aparently only restricts annoying anoymous messages. But who decides whats anonymous and whats not ? Whats not annoying to you could be extreemly repugnant to me.

A lot of web discussion forums including services like Slashdot, which allow anonymous comments, would soon be full of criminals. And if this is really acted upon and force users to create accounts on each of these webservices just to post a comment, how many of these services will you be posting your comment on ? Personally I have a slashdot account, and I rarely leave anonymous messages, but if someone comes with a new services tommorow which forces me to create an account with a new loginname and password, I'm pretty sure I'll be thinking twice about it.

If you are one of those who don't mind creating accounts, but use same or similar passwords everywhere, this would be good opertunity for password harvesters to take your passwords.

Remember the PGP export embargo ? Did that stop the world from using it ? Is it really possible to actually enforce this on the internet if the law is just applicable to US ?

If you have read the bill or have some more information on this law I'm interested to find out more.