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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Google Drive : Rumour Turns True

Today Google Launched Google Drive ! They also increased the Gmail quota to 10GB from the existing 7.5 GB. Now I will no more struggle with labnol's tip to find the large emails and delete/forward them to save Gmail space.

Google Drive is giving 5GB initially and more space can be bought. I am still a Dropbox fan and will continue to use it. In fact Google docs is gone for me now. All my existing documents are under Google Drive and interface is same as Google Docs. May be the only difference is it has a desktop client which will have all the documents synced with Google Drive cloud automatically like Dropbox.



You can start using Google Drive now at drive.at drive.google.com/start

Let me know the feedback.

Source : http://googleblog.blogspot.in/2012/04/introducing-google-drive-yes-really.html

Update : 24-04-2012

Oh. Yes, I forgot to mention about Microsoft Like Sky Drive. They have been offering whopping 25GB. However they are going to limit it to 7GB apparently. But if you have an old account , you can still act upon and claim the 25GB free storage

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Stargazing session with Amgonna and friends

Me and my friends at work have been stargazing session since the beginning of the winter. However it never materialized. Sometimes full moon dominance, sometimes volunteer activities at work, every now and then there was some reason for unavailability of common free time. To be honest, push from my side was also less because of personal/family functions and shifting house etc. Suddenly we realized it's April and with clouds prevailing every now and then probably the last chance of these season for stargazing.

 



 

Conditions : We knew we missed the best conditions to view sky in the winter in December/January and opposition of mars on 5th April but it was still not too late. However opposition of Saturn was just few days back on 17th April and was one of the best time to see it. Weather was unpredictable but we had our eyes at sky and forecast report every hour and finally there was some encouraging sign on the session day. It was almost 80% clear sky when we started.

People : We already had some enthusiastic people my work who were keen to go for a stargazing session. To attract more number of people I also floated the idea in the AHAA mailing list, however we were still missing a platform like meetup.com where we could collaborate and plan the event out. Problem ! meetup.com asks money for creating groups and its too formal for few armature astronomers trying to discuss mutually to plan event according to availability and suggestions of other participants. For meetup.com event somebody have to really take a lead and decide the time and place well advance before the event without the consent of other participants. This did not look right. Somebody suggested to use one of my friend's start-up venture Amgonna.com . It not only have a simple registration process/Facebook-login feature but also much more collaborative. Everyone can suggest location, time and ideas during the planning phase of the event.. So we did it. We planned everything transparently in the following forum

http://beta.amgonna.com/plan/detail/4f83f33ddb1bc0743a000000

 



 Equipments : We had a 5 Inch Celestron Newtonian reflector and a 90mm Maksutov Cassegrain with us. We also had a 80X20 Binoculars and several SLR cameras and Tripods. We had printed some of the sky charts and brought a LED red light for reading them. We also used Laptops, iPad, Android phones loaded with Stellarium and Google Sky Maps.

Once we reached outside the city, sky looked bit darker but light from one of the building construction sites reduced the sky visibility. After some basic discussions on celestial coordinates , Zodiac, Ecliptic we move on and reached the Osmaan Sagar lake side at  Gandipet.

Artificial Satellite ? We saw a bright star like thing moving very fast across the sky and within second realized that it is one of the artificial satellite.I narrowed down the possibilities and most likely we saw H-2A R/B as per Heavens-Above.com. It shined a lot for a second, the panels may have reflected the sunlight directly.

When we had visited this site last time on 17th April for Leonid Meteor shower it was very dark. This time timing was bit early so we had some lights sources causing pollution. As cloud cover was coming up, we assembled the telescopes quickly and pointed at Saturn right away which was rising in the eastern sky with Spica in Virgo. For most of the people it was first time experience. They had seen the magnificent NASA images but never saw it in their own eyes. It was jaw dropping. Most of the people said the word "Wow" as soon as they saw a glimpse of the ring. It was so sharp many checked if I had pasted a Saturn image at the back of the telescope. Some said it looked like a postage stamp of Saturn stuck at the other end. Due to cloud cover we did not really attempt to see the deep sky objects but we went through most of the constellation. We also saw the crescent shape of Venus through the telescope it looked like a zoomed out Moon. Finally we attempted to see Mars but due to wind we could not stabilize the telescope and failed to view  the polar ice caps at higher magnification.

Discussion about space and astronomy in general went on among the people as Manohar and Nikhil shared their knowledge with others. We also discussed about the basic designs of the telescope and how it works.

When we were about to end the session few cops were roaming around and asked if we have permission for movie video shooting and we explained to them that we were actually looking at stars, nothing else. It would have been a strange thing for them I hope people in India take more interest in Astronomy and do sessions like this. Sometimes I feel its more fun and relaxing than any other entertainment we know of. I wish kids get addicted to telescope instead of gaming consoles. I have been a strong believer of outdoor sports always and I believe in outdoor activities too.



I am really thankful to all those who joined the session, specially those who extended their help  bringing the telescopes to site and assemble. I don't really appreciate people doing all the talking about interest in astronomy but not care to spend even for two hours for some real observation. People who showed up were not all amateur astronomers but they were passionate people in their respective fields. I met people who left their easy jobs and started their own ventures and follow their own interests like media and ad or travel every weekend to peruse their hobbies and interest . There is no doubt they will succeed in their fields. This kind of passion separates them others who just want to do everything from an A/C room, possibly over the internet.



We  have plans to visit Rangapur Observatory which has a very big telescope and contributed to astrometry and Birla Planetorium Hyderabad which recently deployed a 11 Inch telescope in their premises. If anybody have any information how to get in touch with them and pay visit, please share with me (possibly in the comment of this post)

Links :

All photos 

Amgonna.com

Amazon.com | Buying a Telescope

Yahoo Group | Association of Hyderabad Amateur Astronomers  

Facebook | Association of Amateur Astronomers Hyderabad 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

IEEE GOLD STEP Event at Warangal on 7th April 2012

GOLD (Graduates Of Last Decade ) Affinity Group of IEEE Hyderabad Section Organized STEP ( Student Transition and Elevation Program ) event on 7th April 2012 at Warangal, Hyderabad. We started from Hyderabad around 9 AM  with our speaker in this event Arun. It took almost three and half hours via national highway 202. Most of the road was newly constructed and pretty smooth. I already had a trip last month I had a chance to visit NIT Warangal this time which reminded my UG college VSSUT which also has huge area, lots of departments including the traditional engineering branches. I  also and meet few very active IEEE volunteers. Session started at a local Hotel Landmark where graduating students from near by colleges were waiting. After a short introduction to IEEE GOLD , I handed over to Arun for his session titles "Entrepreneurship as a career path ". It was a very  useful for upcoming engineers. His slides can be found in the GitHub repository.

We had a high tea/snacks break during which students interacted with the speakers and other volunteers from industry. After the tea break we also had another extended panel discussion session for answering student's queries and the speakers and people from Industry shared their experience with the students. This was one of the very fruitful session and met the expectations of the students in my perspective. We had fun answering very interesting questions from the students as well.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Syncronize your web accounts with IFTTT

I just came across this wonderful service provided by the website http://ifttt.com . I always wanted to synchronize photos , links posted in various web accounts I have automatically. This website called "If This Then That" works pretty much like a cron job you define in Linux machines.

For example I share interesting links in Facebook and Twitter but forget to bookmark them for my future reference. Later I struggle a lot to dig down the link in my Facebook/Twitter steam history. I wish I would have bookmarked those links in my Diigo account.   Using this portal I can create a task which will be triggered whenever I post a link in Twitter or Facebook it gets saved in the social bookmarking site Diigo with appropriate tag , so that it can be searched easily later on.



Another example is that whenever I post photos in Facebook I wanted them to get backed up in my Dropbox account also this again helps retrieving Facebook photos for  printing later. Usually the best photos of mine goes to Facebook even if I forget to upload them in Picasa, so they are worth saving :)

Similarly this portal supports 36 different web accounts (they call them channels) and any of them can be used as the triggering event and acting event.

The above rules are called recipes and you can brows through many recipe ideas from the other users. I have share a rule in which Facebook photos gets uploaded in one of my Dropbox folder.

This is a very interesting service as it runs automatically in every 15 minutes and you can manually force it to run the rules whenever you want. Most of the tasks I have created till now has worked without any issues till now.

Another good news about this portal is that it uses OAuth for most of the user account credentials so that you don't have to share your password with IFTTT for giving limited access.

Visit IF THIS THEN THAT and play around tasks now !

Current Running Status Of Train In Indian Railways : Official Source

Now there is a official way of knowing the current status of train in Indian railway. Three years back I had posted about the a third party site which gives you the best possible location of a running train. The IT department of Indian Railways has cleaned up there website and trainenquiry.com and redesigned in the new version.

You can get access to the beta version of the website at the following URL

http://www.trainenquiry.com/searchtrain.aspx

Click on "Go to the new look" button to get to the following screen where there is a search with auto suggest box and you can search with the station names after which the train is named. Once you select your train it will show you the latest known position of the train and amount of time it is running late. I doubt you will see any train before time given the track record of Indian Railway.



It will be great to see the position in the map too , but they have done a great job by showing the relative distance covered in a slider.

I always has a feeling that Indian government websites are primarily designed for Internet Explorer but these days I see many websites including Indian Railway runs well in Firefox and Google Chrome. In fact few days back I got an email from IRCTC that there is a minimal version of website ( https://www.irctc.co.in/mobile ) to book tickets specially designed for Tablets and Mobile Phones. The above website which gives the live running status also claims the same. It is great to see railways adopting technology for convenience of passenger.

One of the notable thing is the announcement where IRCTC appeals not to take the print out of the electronic ticket while traveling. They are encouraging to carry the electronic versionin Mobile and iPad. However one of my friends was asked to show the circular in which it says you may not bring the print out and show the electronic version instead. Refer to the official notice numbers at the bottom for the circular. You may want to quote the same in this kind of situation. In either case you have to carry the a valid photo ID card accepted by railway.












1) Railway Board Letter No.2008/TG-I/10/P/SMS dated 20.07.2011
2) Railway Board Letter No.2008/TG-I/10/P/SMS dated 01.02.2012

Monday, April 2, 2012

Khichdi and Mix vegetable Curry

When I started my blog I was supposed to be about technology tips and How Tos . However it has taken many direction from there. One of the reason which motivates me writing posts about everything is that it may work as a diary which can remind me thing which I have learned over the years without really having to be dependent on anybody else. The following is one of the very few dishes I know.

Steps to prepare Khichdi and Mix vegetable Curry

  1. Take two clips of rice and one cup of yellow Mung Daal and wash them with water few times.

  2. Keep them in the pressure cooker with four to five cups of water and half spoon of salt.

  3. Wait till two whistles.

  4. For Tadka/Chaunk  take two spoons of Ghee and one spoon of Jeera/Cumin

  5. Fry till the smell of cooked Jeera/Cumin comes and add them to cooked rice and mix.

  6. Chop Tomato , Cauliflower , Onions, Carrot  and Potato mix them with  Frozen Peas, Corn and Chillies

  7. Take a pan and add two/three spoons of oil, one spoon of Jeera/Cumin,  two spoon of Ginger and Garlic paste and sauté them.

  8. Sauté onions and green chillies.

  9. Add all the vegetables except Tomatoes and Capsicums.

  10. Mix and cover it for two to three minutes.

  11. Add three/fourth spoon of salt , mix all the vegetables.

  12. Finally Add tomatoes and capsicum

  13. Also add Turmeric, Coriander powder and  red Chilli powder

  14. Mix everything and cover it for ten minutes in medium heat.

  15. Take spatula and try to cut the vegetable with minimum force to check if they are cooked completely

  16. If it cuts then stop cooking else continue for few more minutes and check again.

  17. In the end garnish with coriander leaves


That is all for now. More coming in future posts.

Source @pinksum