Showing posts from 2015

Geminids 2015

3 years ago I witnessed a spectacular Geminid meteor shower. This year also we set out for a view of dark sky. Its quite tough to find such place near the city. Still we referred the light pollution map and tried to find a spot in the "green zone".

Spotted 50 odd meteors throughout the night whenever I was looking up. Most of the time I think we were busy setting up telescopes, tracker and lenses.

Spotted Comet C/2013 US 10 Catalina as well in the morning sky.

Also captured some regular objects like Jupiter, its moon, Venus, Mars etc.


Panorama to Movie

I take a lot of panoramic pictures either with the in camera functionality or stitching later with software like autostitch. However I did not find a good way to showcase that. I upload them to Facebook or flickr sometime but justice is not done to them as its looks a very short height image to compensate for the huge width. I posted the question in stackoverflow as well.

Finally I found a simple way to do that in Mac using iMovie.

Just import the image into a new movie in iMovie and stretch the image along the timeline for the length you want the output movie to be.

That's it. Here is a sample I generated

From the following original image.

This video format is good for Facebook and Instagram where screen with is limited and panning the across the image eventually displays the while image with proper details.

Once it is in video format it can also be converted to a GIF image using any online tool. Especially sites like lets you post to Facebook in such a way that it a…


I recently visited Hampi in present Indian state of Karnataka. It was capital of the Vijayanagara Empire in 14th and 15th century . It was one of the richest and largest city of its time probably richest ever after Rome and largest ever after Peking-Beijing. it was finally laid siege to by the Deccan Muslim confederacy.

Thanks to Google Maps , I did mess up the route a little bit near Mahbubnagar as you can see from my location history screenshot above. First I overshot the right turn by taking the fly over by mistake. Maps did not tell me explicitly that I have to go below the fly over. It was a long one and divider cuts are not very frequent in this highway. Secondly , inside the town maps suggested me to get down from the highway (SH 20) and get into another via taking small roads inside town. It probably did not realize that these roads are shorter but definitely wide enough for car. I should have ignored the left turn and continued in the alternative route (which is actually the…

Getting Started With PHP & AWS DynamoDB

MySQL has been the most favorite among PHP programmers. In fact this very blog was hosted in LAMP stack (Linux-Apache-MySQL-PHP) a little while go using wordpress. MySQL is still my first choice when it comes to traditional RDBMS (Oracle is kind of too much if its not an enterprise software ). When it comes to NoSQL we often go to Google Appengine/Datastore combination but its a different ball game together as its a platform as a service and datastore can't really be used even from compute engine infrastructure. With recent PHP support of GAE , you can use HTTP interface of Google datastore to create your application , otherwise Google cloud SQL is the solution for deploying wordpress like solution. Published on

Even with Google Cloud's rapidly growing set of cloud service offerings, it has a long way to catch up with AWS's portfolio , especially scale and maturity wise. When it comes to fully manages NoSQL like database on cloud DynamoDB is probably leading the marke…


If you ask someone outside of India what the vacation destination they know in India, there is very high chance that they will say Goa. Its in the west coast of Indian subcontinent and famous for beaches of Arabian sea. It used to be a Portuguese colony for a long time till 1961 when Indian arm force invaded it. Initially it was part of union territory Daman and Diu (Directly governed by central government ) but in 1987 it became as separate state. Which makes sense as Daman and Diu are way up north near state of Gujarat and culturally different. However all of them still have Portuguese influence. It's one of the 3 most football crazy and fish loving state of India (Others being West Bengal and Kerala even the north eastern states to some extent.).

I grew up in a town pretty close to a beach in the eastern coast of India , so Goa beaches are nothing special for me. However it's highly commercial place with inflow of tourists from so many countries. Goan cuisine is also very …


It has been a while now that I have written something in this blog. This post should have been here 5 months ago but I was waiting for myself to process all the pictures taken in the trip and do a final post. Recently I realized that ain't happening. Well thats what the TSA woman official said to me after seeing my T-Shirt slogan which said "Imagine all the people. Living life in peace" in her southern accent.

Anyway trip to Seattle was full of learnings. A lot of PHP, Couchbase and system administration of physically hosted servers. Key learning was how to deal with people who are technically challenged. While a little bit of technical details may make them nervous, lack of the same may make them think you have no control over the system. Management do not remember details. You can reiterate the same thing over and over without actually worrying about freshness of the update. Sometime asking direct questions or expressing direct concerns may not help, on the contrary it…

The Ashes 2015 season ends.

The Ashes season of this year ended. Glad that England re-gained it. Not because I am a Aussie hater (like most Indians because of Australian aggressiveness and domination in the past ) but because they have been playing really good lately. Youngsters like Joe Root is now # 1 batsman in ICC rankings.

Since last couple of months or so I have been enjoying the cricket broadcast on the Radio (BBC 5 live extra with Tunnel Bear VPN app for UK ) and TV (also star sports online streaming ). This is usually the most interesting series for me because of classic English commentary and playing conditions. Of course I am more alert when India tours England and Australia but there is something about these two countries' rivalry.

I will miss the commentary of Nasser Hussain and Michael Atherton. (Coincidentally they were born only 3 days apart ) I think they are the most accent free and speak slow. While Cris Rogers and Pup decided to retire after this series legendary wicket keeper run machin…

Configuring Mozilla Thunderbird with Office 365 Email

There is no outlook for linux users. Setting up email, calendar, contacts etc in linux with office 365 (or exchange) account could be painful.However there is a little known fact that office 365 also have SMTP feature for configuring non exchange compliant client like Mozilla Thunderbird.

Since office 365 is a cloud hosting by Microsoft which is multi-tenant, setup configuration is pretty much same unless the company decides to override anything.

For email

IMAPServer hostname: outlook.office365.comPort:993SSL: SSL/TLSAuthentication: Normal passwordOutgoing:Server hostname: smtp.office365.comPort:587SSL: SSL/TLSAuthentication: Normal passwordUser Name: your company email

For calendar you have to install the following addon.

Installing the Add-on:

Install the latest version of the Lightning add-on.Download the latest version of the Exchange Calendar and Tasks Add-on. Latest version 3.3.1: Ericsson/exchangecalendarIn Thunderbird, click on Tools | Add-onsClick on the Gear icon…

New Horizons reaches Pluto

Finally we know how Pluto looks like. Looks at this for a minute before you read further

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft just completed 9 years journey from earth and flew past Pluto today. Pluto was discovered in 1930 but it was only visible through telescope (~magnitude 11) that to just a single point of light. It was 9th planet of solar system when this spacecraft left earth in 2006.

Even the best image of Pluto that we had  till last few month was by Hubble Space telescope. Which barely told us about the texture.


Its also worth notable that this is the fastest moving man made object ever till date, which is why it could made it to Pluto under a decade. It was also launched using the fastest rocket NASA had that time. An Atlas-V rocket was used.

My family have a little contribution towards this mission as well.  My uncle Dr. Ranbir Sinha worked primarily on the design, analysis, computer simulation of separation, and test predictions of the payload fairing…

Reliance mobile Stuff

There is a lot of useful reliance mobile codes that are obviously useful but not documented for AP circle of India pre-paid GSM

Check talk time balance - *367# Check 2G/3G balance - SMS "MBAL" to 55333(Tollfree) or dial(only for GSM) *111*1*3# Recharge 3G pack - Rs.225,get 1GB 3G data,local & STD calls@1p/sec, Free FB, TW &WA for 30 days. To activate dial *777*225# OR SMS,ACT 3G225 to 53739. Rs.144,get 500MB 3G data,All local & STD calls @1p/sec, valid for 30 days. To activate, dial *777*144# OR SMS ACT 3G144 to 53739.R Rs.95, get 350MB 3G data, All local & STD calls @1p/sec, valid for 15 days. To activate, dial *777*95# OR SMS ACT 3G95 to 53739.

Installing Cyanogenmod 12 (Nightly) in Nexus 4

Today I decided to void my Nexus 4's warranty ! Probably it was out of warranty anyway. I had used Cyanogenmod earlier phones of mine and its simply awesome. For a long time I waited for a stable release of Cyanogenmod with Android Lollipop but none of the Cyanogenmod 12 build is stable till now (as I type) for Nexus 4 (Mako). I lost my patience today and went for the recent nightly build.

Following were the steps
Download Cyanogenmod ROM zip file. Download the clockwork recovery.Download the sdk tools for android.Download gaaps.  Make sure the sdk tools is in your PATH so that its accessible from command line.Start your phone in recovery modeTurn off the phoneHold the power and volume down button till some text appears on the screenInstall clockwork recovery
$ fastboot flash recovery recovery-clockwork-touch- recovery option Factory reset and wipe cache from the menu.Choose "install from zip" option Copy ROM file to the phone's SD card (or emul…

Downloading hi-resolution images from Google Photos using picasa web API in python

Out of 15 GB quota given by Google for combined usage of Gmail, Picasaweb (now Google Plus Photos) and Google drive I had used up almost 98% of them.

After cleaning up old and big emails which were not required  (searched "size:10m" in gmail) I figured out there still a lot of space taken by Google Photos. I have moved on to Flickr recently for my high resolution photos because Google counts any photos which is more than 2048 pixels (either height or width) towards their storage quota. The only photo being stored in Google photos now a days are the ones which are automatically backed up from my phone. Earlier I had set it up to back up the full resolutions photos hence I ended up running out of storage quota very quickly.

There is no straight forward way to filter Google Plus Photos by size and delete them. Also I wanted to download them before I permanently delete. I decided to do this programmatically as I did not find any tool online.

The below script basically scans a …

Sunsign or Moon sign

For those who know me must be thinking already that I have changed my opinion about astrology. No I haven't, from the outset I want to be clear that this post is about the amount of reality actually astrology has.

Last week I was randomly looking at sky and noticed that there is a bright star next to moon. It must have been one of the brightest star because it looked bright even in moon's glare. After I paid attention to the nearby stars I quickly realized that its actually Aldebaran (Rohini in Indian terms) in the constellation of Taurus (Vrushabhaa Rashi ). This is not an unusual sight because the whole reason, the 12 zodiac constellations are relatively famous than other 68 consternations is that the Sun, Moon and other planets appears to pass through them. You never seen Sun, Moon or planets near the north pole.

Now as per Indian Astrology if you were born at a time when the Moon was around the consternation of Taurus your moon-sign becomes "Taurus(VrushabhaaRashi)&q…

Comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2

Comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2 is one of the brightest of recent times. It was bright enough to be seen in naked eye in early January 2015. While it was fairly easy to spot with the charts, it looked bit different than traditional naked eye comets which has a prominent tails. This one looked like a greenish ball of cotton from binoculars and small telescope like the ones that I have. A really dark sky was only be found almost an hour drive from the city outskirts.

In fact this outing of ours was featured in the local news paper Deccan Chronicle  also.

 These kind of stargazing outings keep happening in the city these days. Join AHAA - Amateur Astronomers in Hyderabad for such activities.

Panoramas in Manali

Following are couple of panoramas created by multiple DSLR shots taken and stitched together using Dermandar. This online tool not only joins the images flawlessly without any distortion but also provides an excellent viewer which can be embedded anywhere. To my surprise it also displayed the moving panorama in-line in the Facebook and could be displayed in mobile Facebook browser itself.