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Pocket reading list : Week 1.2 of May

The CIA Waterboarded the Wrong Man 83 Times in 1 Month : In the name of the war on terror, the American government seems to have carried out operations that violate human rights and numerous international laws. This is one such account of a man tortured, maybe even for the sake of learning how effective the methods of torture were, and not coincidentally, the man was trained by the CIA to fight against the Russians, the very agency that tortured him a decade later.

Being A Developer After 40 : Now that I'm on the path to becoming a software developer, I'm taking such articles seriously. This is an account of a software developer who has over 15 years of experience in the industry and who has seen one fad after another pass. A question that every software developer has to address at some point or the other is whether or not they are programming in the right language, whether or not they are moving forward, with respect to the community and what not. And this guy has pretty good answers for such questions.

The first rule of pricing is: you do not talk about pricing : A brilliant article on how people are tricked into buying the more profitable of two/three options by corporations. Or, to put it another way, an account of human behaviour with respect to pricing and how an organisation deciding on releasing a product should/can decide on how much to ask for it.

FIRING PEOPLE : I haven't even been hired but I'm already reading about getting fired. This is a brilliant account of what all can happen when one gets fired and what the one getting fired, the company firing one and one's colleagues can do to ease the transition, through purgatory.

Airbnb Tech Talk: Zach Holman - Git and Github Secrets : Git has become an integral part of my day-to-day life so the better I get at it, the easier my life is going to be. While most of the Github secrets are already known and widely used at the company I work for, Git secrets that he talks about are in fact very interesting. I hope I can slowly squeeze these into my daily routine. To go with this, you can refer to the Git Cheat Sheet to interesting/helpful commands.

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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…