Skip to main content

Pocket reading list - Part 3

Up in the Air: Meet the Man Who Flies Around the World for Free - The story of a man who figured out how to game the airplane ticketing system to rack up miles, enough in fact to be have been flying for almost an year non-stop. It reminds me of the George Clooney movie where the lead actor himself prefers flying and living in hotels to living at home and being among family i.e lead a conventional life. I did not know that the air ticketing industry could be gamed to such an extent and I intend to try it out myself one day!

The Web We Have to Save - Though preachy at times, there is a subtle message to be taken away from this article. The author, rightly, points out that definition of the what internet is grows narrower and narrower by the year. I read a study where a large number of teenagers associated facebook and other social networking sites as the internet. In fact they went as far as to say that they weren't online but they were on facebook. The internet was supposed to disseminate information to all who want it but in the process of streamlining this process of curating information, we have made the channels narrower and narrower. I personally don't see the point of facebook anymore, something that I was very much interested in a couple of years back given the amount of new links/articles/posts I used to find on it.

The Man Who Broke Atlantic City - I've read articles about how gambling can be gamed, about card counting and about bugs in slot machines that can be manipulated for a big pay day. This article, unlike any other on the subject, talk about human ingenuity in turning the tables on the casinos. It is commonly known that if you play long enough, the house always wins. This is an account of how you can change the rules of the game to your advantage.

The Fake Bomb Detectors in Iraq - War is debilitating to a large number of people. It is also very lucrative to a few who can take advantage of it. There was an article talking about the new F-35 fighter jet being developed by the Pentagon, which turned out to be an example of how military technology can be (and is) used for political leverage and monetary purposes. In fact, there are facilities constructed by NASA, which are completed even though the equipment these new facilities needed to test are taken out of commission. This is a similar story of how a handful of people fooled military and countries into buying fake bomb detectors.

Not fade away... how robots are preserving our old newspapers - While the immediate benefits of digitizing old news papers aren't obvious, it should be obvious that studying them can help us understand our past better. The intricacies of our ancestors, their practices, the language. In another similar account, an article outlines how japanese food made it's way into the USA by looking for newspaper clippings and ads from over two centuries ago. This is an account of one such gargantuan effort to preserve our old newspapers, something which should be happening worldwide.

Supercharged Tuberculosis, Made in India - We've all known about drug resistance for a while now and how deadly diseases have developed drug resistant versions. This is an account of how certain strains of drug resistant Tuberculosis are spreading in India and the steps needed to be taken to identify them in the first place and to then develop a cure.

How I Became an Artist - An inspiring account of how through perseverance and sheer hard work, one can become an artist. And it's a story that translates easily to any other field.

A twelve-year flash of genius - If you've read the previous article, you'll understand that years of hard work eventually paid off in him getting a job or in his work being recognized. Some tend to romanticize things by saying that the artist blossomed over night and his skills grew exponentially within that time. This is an account of how wrong this romanticization is and the kind of harm it does to others aspiring to be in a similar position.

The case of the 500-mile email - A curious case of how a certain email server wouldn't deliver mails if the recipient's server was further than 500 miles away!

Why do some countries drive on the left and others on the right? - On the surface, it seems that most countries which were ruled by the British drive on the left hand side of the road while some changed to the right side after gaining independence. Some, India for example, probably thought it was too silly to thump one's chests after independence by changing which side of the road to drive on but that's a whole other issue. In fact, there is a deeper reason as to why the early British or the early Europeans used to travel on the left hand side of the road.

Popular posts from this blog

Animation using GNUPlot

Animation using GNUPlotI've been trying to create an animation depicting a quasar spectrum moving across the 5 SDSS pass bands with respect to redshift. It is important to visualise what emission lines are moving in and out of bands to be able to understand the color-redshift plots and the changes in it.
I've tried doing this using the animate function in matplotlib, python but i wasn't able to make it work - meaning i worked on it for a couple of days and then i gave up, not having found solutions for my problems on the internet.
And then i came across this site, where the gunn-peterson trough and the lyman alpha forest have been depicted - in a beautiful manner. And this got me interested in using js and d3 to do the animations and make it dynamic - using sliders etc.
In the meanwhile, i thought i'd look up and see if there was a way to create animations in gnuplot and whoopdedoo, what do i find but nirvana!

In the image, you see 5 static curves and one dynam…

Pandas download statistics, PyPI and Google BigQuery - Daily downloads and downloads by latest version

Inspired by this blog post :, I wanted to play around with Google BigQuery myself. And the blog post is pretty awesome because it has sample queries. I mix and matched the examples mentioned on the blog post, intent on answering two questions - 
1. How many people download the Pandas library on a daily basis? Actually, if you think about it, it's more of a question of how many times was the pandas library downloaded in a single day, because the same person could've downloaded multiple times. Or a bot could've.
This was just a fun first query/question.
2. What is the adoption rate of different versions of the Pandas library? You might have come across similar graphs which show the adoption rate of various versions of Windows.
Answering this question is actually important because the developers should have an idea of what the most popular versions are, see whether or not users are adopting new features/changes they provide…

Adaptive step size Runge-Kutta method

I am still trying to implement an adaptive step size RK routine. So far, I've been able to implement the step-halving method but not the RK-Fehlberg. I am not able to figure out how to increase the step size after reducing it initially.

To give some background on the topic, Runge-Kutta methods are used to solve ordinary differential equations, of any order. For example, in a first order differential equation, it uses the derivative of the function to predict what the function value at the next step should be. Euler's method is a rudimentary implementation of RK. Adaptive step size RK is changing the step size depending on how fastly or slowly the function is changing. If a function is rapidly rising or falling, it is in a region that we should sample carefully and therefore, we reduce the step size and if the rate of change of the function is small, we can increase the step size. I've been able to implement a way to reduce the step size depending on the rate of change of …