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Pocket reading list : Week 1 of Mar

Why Copenhagen Has Almost Perfect Water : Water bodies in urban places are pretty disgusting. They aren't usually maintained by City Works, garbage is dumped in them willynilly and the city sewage flows into it untreated. Apparently Copenhagen did something about it, that worked. Clean water bodies are something that cities should seriously consider, not just for their appearance but because the ground water reserves are directly affected by them.

Inside the Sony Hack : I don't know if you've heard but the hack on the Sony corporation was one of the biggest last year. Hacks on corporations apparently happen regularly, it's just that they aren't publicly reported, unless the hackers decide the release the information to the public, which is what happened in this case. Personal information on thousands of Sony workers was released to the public. Not worrying about that for the moment, the hack disrupted the internal networks of Sony and it made day-to-day work next to impossible, from giving out paychecks to finalizing contracts. An account of the other side of what might happen to a company when it gets hacked.

The Machiavelli of Maryland : 'Jack of all trades but King of none' is probably the best way to describe this guy. This is the story of a man who has been consulted by companies, countries, kings and ministries; read about what he had to offer.

Mysterious Detour While Driving? It Could Be Due to the Curvature of the Earth : I really don't know how to sell this story because I'm afraid I'll sell it short no matter what. It's an account of the consequence of living on a spherical earth but thinking that we're living in flat space.

Inside the plot to kill JFK: The secret story of the CIA and what really happened in Dallas : President John F. Kennedy was shot dead. The man who pulled the trigger was caught. But the story doesn't end there. This is the account of how the CIA could've been involved in the assassination of a President of the United States. Honestly, the CIA. The Intelligence agency of the United States. I mean c'mon, no matter how progressive a President is, you still don't assassinate him but hey, what do I know about politics.

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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…

on MOOCs.

For those of you who don't know, MOOC stands for Massively Open Online Course.

The internet is an awesome thing. It's making education free for all. Well, mostly free. But it's surprising at the width and depth of courses being offered online. And it looks like they are also having an impact on students, especially those from universities that are not top ranked. Students in all parts of the world can now get a first class education experience, thanks to courses offered by Stanford, MIT, Caltech, etc.

I'm talking about MOOCs because one of my new year resolutions is to take online courses, atleast 2 per semester (6 months). And I've chosen the following two courses on edX - Analyzing Big Data with Microsoft R Server and Data Science Essentials for now. I looked at courses on Coursera but I couldn't find any which was worthy and free. There are a lot more MOOC providers out there but let's start here. And I feel like the two courses are relevant to where I …

On programmers.

I just watched this brilliant keynote today. It's a commentary on Programmers and the software development industry/ecosystem as a whole.

I am not going to give you a tl;dr version of the talk because it is a talk that I believe everyone should watch, that everyone should learn from. Instead, I am going to give my own parallel-ish views on programmers and programming.
As pointed out in the talk, there are mythical creatures in the software development industry who are revered as gods. Guido Van Rossum, the creator of Python, was given the title Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL). People flock around the creators of popular languages or libraries. They are god-like to most programmers and are treated like gods. By which, I mean to say, we assume they don't have flaws. That they are infallible. That they are perfect.
And alongside this belief in the infallibility of these Gods, we believe that they were born programmers. That programming is something that people are born wit…