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Showing posts from 2019

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.

Preeti's photoblog on Instagram

Preeti shoots a lot of photographs during her fieldwork. She's an ecologist so she gets to visit pristine wilderness and breathtaking forests.

Do yourselves a favor and follow her account on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/aranyamloki/ .

Here's what you can expect.

Living Root Bridges are handwoven usually made to cross rivers using Ficus roots. While a single root perishes in constant rain, together these possess power to withstand any calamity. Meghalaya is one of the two states in India to have these architectural wonders. - - #incredibleindia #livingrootbridge #livingrootbridges #india #architecturephotography #architecturewonder #communitypower #aranyamloki #ecology #ecologist #intothewild #intothewoods #intothewilderness #biodiversity #greenpeace #landscape #naturelover #earth #planetearth #meghalaya #mawlynnong A post shared by Aranyam_Loki (@aranyamloki) on Feb 23, 2019 at 7:49pm PST
PS : aranyamloki is actually two words - aranyam and loki - which together mean i…

Arrested Development Season 5?!

Why did i not know about Arrested Development Season 5?! Well that pretty much settles how I’ll be spending my day tomorrow. Maybe they’re only available on Netflix US and not yet on Netflix India.

ECT - Know better [Youtube TED-Ed video]

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TED-Ed videos in general are very information and I just came across this one which talks about Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT).

ECT is painted in a bad picture, mainly because of movies showing an outdated treatment. While we can't expect the movies to educate us, here's a video which can.


Takeaway - ECT now-a-days is delivered in mild doses and is concentrated to effect certain parts of the brain. ECT isn't the first thing doctors use for brain-related disorders but one of many therapeutic options. ECT might not even be the only solution as it if often paired with medication for long-lasting effect.

Ashtrays in airplane toilets

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I was traveling by air recently and I noticed the ashtrays in the airplane toilets. It reminded me of a question I had earlier about why airplane toilets still had ashtrays even though smoking on airplanes got banned a long long time ago.

And then I remembered this video I watched earlier which answered the question :


Basically, the reason why modern airplanes still have ashtrays in their toilets is to safegaurd against human stupidity. Even though smoking on airplanes is banned and is punishable by fines and/or jail time, people apparently still do it. And smoking on airplanes can lead them to make emergency landings.

If you don't understand why smoking on airplanes is a problem, think for a moment about how air circulation works on a tin can flying tens of thousands of feet in the air.

Apparently, fires were started in airplane bathrooms because smokers threw the lit cigarettes into the trash cans.

Now you know.

GitHub papercut - Forgotten branches

As you can see below, once you login to GitHub, you will be able to see the Pull Requests and Issues that are relevant to you. Issues that are assigned to you, PRs that you opened, PRs that your review was requested for etc. But one thing is missing.

Branches.

Branches are what lead to Pull Requests in the first place and there are a few times when I choose to push a branch but not open a PR against it.

It might be because I am not done working on it.

It might be because I am not sure if it will be reviewed quickly at the moment.

It would be nice if GitHub allowed me to see all branches I pushed to GitHub and their statuses, especially the branches that aren't under review as PRs.

Keep this in mind if you are not sold on the value of this request. When the company you work for uses GitHub, you might touch ~5-10 repositories over the course of an year. Not all work can be reviewed and merged immediately. Not all work is ready for review in the first place. You could definitely arg…

Watch random on Netflix/Prime

I'm in love with Netflix. The catalogue of interesting movies and tv shows I have access to is mind-blowing and incomprehensible. One might say that I spend a little too much time watching stuff on Netflix.

But.

BUT.

There is one thing I miss about regular old television.

The opportunity to randomly stumble across something I love and haven't watched in a long time. The possibility of coming across something that is amazing that I would have never found, if not for the fact that I was flipping through channels randomly.

I'm a little surprised that Netflix doesn't already have a Random button that let's Netflix decide what I should watch, given how much it knows about my interests.

At the same time, I would love to see a Watch again button that would play something I've watched and liked. Heck, it would be doubly awesome if Netflix just played the movie or tv show from the middle, instead of starting from the beginning.

Finally, I wish Netflix would one day le…

Single term for elected officials

I was watching Stephen Colbert interview Trevor Noah for the Late show and Trevor Noah brought up a point that reminded me of debates I've had with friends. He briefly talks about how all politicians should have term limits. He goes to an extreme and says that the all politicians should only get one term. Period. One term.

This reminded me of debates I had around this topic with friends of mine. Not all of us were in favor of term limits. If I remember correctly, I was also in favor of very short terms i.e. one or maybe two at the most for all politicians.

One of the counter-points I remember for not setting very short term limits on politicians is how slow the government moves. The fact that changes in the government happen and propagate very slowly, setting very short term limits on politicians will prevent them from having any meaningful impact. Therefore, it will further prevent people who want to do good from entering politics, for fear of wasting time and energy.

I just rea…

[Podcast] 99 percent invisible - The Secret lives of color

A lot of my colleagues at the Austin office talk about what their favorite podcasts are, when they have time to listen to them and what not. For some reason, I never really made the time to listen to the podcasts they recommended. That changed yesterday.

I was on my way back from a friend's wedding. On a train that takes 7+ hours. I'd watched all the movies I had downloaded on Netflix and Amazon Prime. And my phone was at < 15% battery so I couldn't spend anymore time browsing the internet. I needed to do something to cope with my boredom which wasn't a drain on my phone's battery. Which was when I remembered the podcasts I had downloaded on my phone, along with the movies.

One of the podcasts my colleagues highly recommended was 99% Invisible.
99% Invisible is about all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about — the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world. I had a bunch of their episodes on my phone and I chose to listen The S…

A GitHub paper cut got fixed!

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A while back, I wrote about a GitHub papercut - the annoying fact that the `Changes` tab in a GitHub PR will by default list/show all the changes in all of the files in the PR. There are times when a large number of files are changes. There can be times when a large number of files are modified automatically, which don't need to be reviewed manually.

Up until recently, the only way to see the changes in files you cared about was to manually hide changes in the files one after another.

See my earlier blogpost for more info - https://rahulporuri.blogspot.com/2018/11/github-papercut-collapsing-files-in.html .

Up until recently.

Because I recently saw this when reviewing changes in a PR -



[Youtube] Mike Pence rap

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I just saw this and I had to share it. I HAD TO!!!

__future__ is mysterious

Let me jump the gun and go straight to what I find mysterious -

Running `from __future__ import *` raises a SyntaxError. Specifically, you will get the error -
>>> from __future__ import *
  File "<stdin>", line 1
SyntaxError: future feature * is not defined Now, that's weird and mysterious.

For those of you who are not steeped in Python land, __future__ is part of Python's standard library. It is a library that can make the version of Python you use currently behave like a __future__ version of Python. For example, adding the line `from __future__ import print_function` on Python 2.7 will change print into a function (Python 3) instead of being a statement (Python 2).

Now, so far, there's not much that's mysterious about the __future__ module. Sure, it's an interesting way to make one version of a programming language behave like another version.

One of the __future__ module imports is barry_as_FLUFL , which is an easter egg. It was introd…

[Local meetup talk] Porting Python application from Python 2 to 3

For those of you interested, here are the full set of slides I used for the talk - Talk slides .

TL;DR :

- Why should you port your applications from 2 to 3?
- What does it mean to port your code base?
- How can you port your packages/apps?

Why?

Python 2 end of life (EoL) is 2020. After it's EoL, there will be no more feature additions, changes or bug fix releases on the 2 or 2.7.x version of Python. You might not care about changes to the underlying Python language as long as your code keeps working. FYI any new security vulnerability will not be fixed on 2.7.x. Maybe you don't care about that either. FYI the packages you use will probably stop supporting Python 2.7.x. Some already have. Use numpy or pandas in your code base? They already stopped supporting Python 2 and all new feature releases will be Python 3 only. See here and here for more info.

What?

There are roughly four types of changes between Python 2 and 3

- Syntax changes. One of the most popular example has to be…

Bye Bye to Facebook and Twitter

I think it's about time I said goodbye to Facebook and Twitter.

There was a time in my life when I got a lot out of the two social networks. I came across a lot of meaningful content. I had a lot of interesting discussions, which were mainly offshoots of discussions I was already having in person.

I can't remember the last time I had a meaningful discussion on either of the platforms. I don't remember the last time I came across something on either of the platforms which I wouldn't have come across anywhere else on the internet.

I think it's about time I moved on from the platforms. I've mostly been inactive on the platforms the last couple of years, posting occasionally with links to articles, videos and other interesting stuff I found on the internet.

While I was becoming less and less active on my social media platforms, I wanted to make an effort to make my blog more active. My social media posts were usually stuff I had written on my blog. It's about …

2019 resolution : Books edition

I've been using goodreads.com to track what I want to read and what I read for the last two years. At some point, there was a reading challenge on goodreads, which I participated in in 2017 and 2018. As you can see here , I more than exceeded my goal in 2017. I almost reached my 2018 goal, which you can find here .

But, if you look closely, you'll notice that there are times of the year when I read voraciously and there are times of the year when I don't touch a book. Or times when it takes me a month or more to read a book that usually takes me no more than a week, at best.

That's what I want my 2019 reading challenge to be. Not the number of books I read but read regularly. Read every month. Every week. Every day.

Further, I spend a lot of time reading articles online, both short articles related to tech news which don't take more than a couple of minutes per article and long form reports that take anywhere between 30 minutes and an hour. I've wanted to cut …

[Comic book] Bad Machinery

I read a charming little comic book today called Bad Machinery : The case of the team spirit. Christian Holton, a colleague of mine at Enthought, gifted it to me for Christmas. Well, actually, his son apparently picked it. I guess our dinner conversation about comic books made it abundantly clear to him how much I love comic books.

The comic itself is a webcomic that got published into books. The full webcomic can be found online.

The first volume, The case of the team spirit, was funny, captivating and charming. I loved the humor.

Thanks Christian and family, this was a lovely little Christmas gift. And hopefully the start of a new tradition :)