Posts

The Wayback Machine Firefox Add-on

Running into URLs that are broken or return a 404 Not Found error happens pretty regularly for me, especially if the URL is related to academia.

I also know about the Internet Archive or Wayback Machine (http://archive.org/), a non-profit organization that stores snapshots of the internet (well, parts of it), on regularly basis.

Today, I finally put one and one together and looked for a Firefox addon to easily search the Wayback Machine for the broken URL. The search turned up a bunch of results but updating/tuning the search eventually led me to what I think is the official Firefox addon by the Internet Archive (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/wayback-machine_new/).

Public speaking beat practice

Are you loud?

That's the only question I am going to ask in this post.

If you are, how loud are you? Loud enough to be heard by ~10 people in a small-ish room? Loud enough to be heard by ~100-ish people in a small conference room? Loud enough to be heard by ~1000s of people in a large conference hall? (I think no one is that loud!).

I am watching a talk from PyCon US 2019 which is what prompted this question.

In a lot of speaking events, the first barrier between you and the talk attendees is sound. If they cannot hear you, it will not matter how good your topic is, it will not matter how good you are at communicating.

I, thankfully, am loud. Loud enough to be heard by 100s of people in a small conference room. I know it because I have conducted a few workshops at local Python events and conferences and I got good feedback from the attendees.

Even though I'm loud enough, I will resort to using a sound system. If one exists, and if it works reasonably well enough, I will use i…

TurboTax Dark Patterns

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If you don't know, TurboTax is a popular tax filing product in the USA. TurboTax has been found to intentionally hide it's free-to-use product from the general public. TurboTax offers a free product for tax payers who belong to a certain income bracket. But, it actively works on preventing the product from being found online.

To do so, it employs dark patterns. Specifically, it tells search engines to not index and therefore not display the free version of the software.

Search engines are what we use everyday to find the website that we are interested in accessing. There are few that remember the exact URL that needs to be accessed. Therefore, if a website wants to be hidden from the general public, it can tell search engines that it does not want to be found.

See the coverage by ProPublica for more information - https://www.propublica.org/article/turbotax-deliberately-hides-its-free-file-page-from-search-engines .

What I'm interested in knowing now is if this coverage wi…

Hertz v Accenture

I just came across a very interesting story

Hertz is suing Accenture for not delivering. Hertz hired Accenture to enable Digital Transformation. Specifically, Accenture was to revamp Hertz's online presence. Alas, Accenture didn't deliver on the statement of work and it asked for more money in order to complete the project.

I don't remember the last time I remember a tech consultancy firm was sued for doing a bad job. I have heard about tech consultancies doing such a horrible job that all of their work had to thrown out. Actually getting sued is a first as far as I can remember.

Ohh. The actual amount. Hertz is suing Accenture for the 32 Million $ that was spent and additional fees Hertz had to spend to rectify Accenture's mistakes.

The actual lawsuit can be found here -  https://www.theregister.co.uk/2019/04/23/hertz_accenture_lawsuit/ [PDF]
The Register's coverage of the story can be found here - https://www.theregister.co.uk/2019/04/23/hertz_accenture_lawsuit/

WFH

Here's a quote from an article on working from home and productivity hacking from the article - "I Let a Stranger Watch Me Work for a Day — And I’ve Never Been More Productive".


..., I work from home. ... , let me assure you of one cold, hard fact: getting shit done without anyone but your staggeringly beautiful cat to hold you accountable is hard. Rampant procrastination, on the other hand, is easy. Without the social pressure to be productive enforced in more traditional workplaces, it’s all too easy to succumb to tempting diversions like ...Because of this, I often find myself wishing I had a regular office job. That way, I’d at least be part of some sort of team; a team whose judgment I’d be so pathologically fearful of that I’d rush to get the job done with sparkling focus and productivity in a time frame that would make my boss weep with pride. I’m not even being delusional with that fantasy — studies show people are more productive when they work in team…

[Book] Word by Word by Kory Stamper

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I came across this interesting graphic on the Author's website that will hopefully get you interested in the book - Word by Word by Kory Stamper


There are things around us that we usually don't pay attention to. Things that have a rich and interesting story behind them if we took the time and energy to read up on them. This book, Word by Word, opens up the world of dictionaries, the people who make them and the English language.

Before I talk about the book, let me talk about why I read this book. I've been interested in reading Strunk & White's Elements of Style for a while now. I'm interested in the English language and I'm interested in writing better and Elements of Style is one of the books I've come across a number of times as a good starting point to better my writing.

When I was discussing this with a work colleague (Hi Jonathan!), he recommended that I read Word by Word instead.

Now, coming to the book, it's written by a Lexicographer (Kor…

cowlick

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I'm reading Word by Word by Kory Stomper which is funny, insightful and delightful. I highly recommend it.

One of the words I came across in the book is "cowlick". I didn't know that "cowlick" is actually a word defined in the dictionary. Specfically Merriam-Webster defines "cowlick" as

a lock or tuft of hair growing in a different direction from the rest of the hair This reminded me of the comic strip


Side note : I'm a little sad that images of the comic strip I've come across don't mention the original creator of the strip. I'm not sure if the watermark was stripped (likely) or if the original creator never added the watermark in the first place (highly unlikely.)

Also, a "Tract" is an area of land and one of the examples for usage is
huge tracts of land  which is apparently a reference to the a Monty Python joke -


[Graphic Novel] Andre The Giant

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I read Andre The Giant graphic novel at the Austin Public Library a couple of weeks back and this page made me stop and think. I'm privileged and lucky enough to feel the same way.

[Book] Enduranve by Scott Kelly

I finished reading Scott Kelly's Endurance yesterday. It took me four days to read the whole thing, spending a couple of hours everyday. I picked the book up when trying to buy a few books for friends of mine (Hi Alex & Anna!). If you didn't know, Scott Kelly is an astronaut and being a spacenut, I thought it'd be interesting to read his book.

The book was itself an autobiography which revolves around the path he took to become an astronaut and the year he spent in space aboard the ISS. The flow of the book keeps you interested by alternating between stories of how he became who he is and his year long mission in space.

All in all, I definitely recommend the book to anyone who is interested in space and science. There is some profanity in the book and I came across a young readers version of the book which I guess has been cleaned up.

Moving on, in the book, Scott Kelly paints a picture of the Space Shuttle, the Soyuz, the ISS and more. I have seen a few pictures of t…

Science on ArsTechnica

I love ArsTechnica's reporting, on technology in general, and especially on Science.

To give you an example, here are three recent articles that are from three completely different fields of Science published by ArsTechnica which I loved

Fairy crop circles, termites and resource competition in plants - https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/02/its-not-termites-new-study-gives-fresh-take-on-how-fairy-circles-form/

Particle science using the IceCube Neutrino detector on Antarctica -
https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/03/the-perils-of-upgrading-a-particle-detector-buried-in-antarctic-ice/

Schlieren imagery and studying sonic booms -
https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/03/nasa-visualizes-supersonic-shockwaves-in-a-new-awe-inspiring-way/

In conclusion, you should read ArsTechnica.