Saturday, October 15, 2016

Volume 12

Contentment is knowing that you are right. Happiness is knowing that someone else is wrong. –Bill Bailey

I and my Superpartner have come to an agreement that I’ll be content and she’ll be happy or vice-versa, depending on who steps on whose foot the first thing in the morning.

Anyway, right now I am both happy and content because Sketchbook volume 12 has recently been released. Not only released but has found its way to me just after 4 days of it being released! EMS takes its job pretty seriously. Smile So without further delay, here are some adorable photos of THE BOOK:

Just opened the cardboard box...

Just removed the green paper...

Just removed the bubble wrap...

Just removed the lower cover strip...

Here you have Ao – the ‘troubled’ brother of Sora – in full glory adorning the cover of this highly-anticipated volume (by me at least!). I guess Ooba-san missed her chance this time again.Smile with tongue out

As is customary here on this blog, I will share photos of a few pages that I find interesting and hilarious some days later. As a sneak peek, let me share the themes of the chapters for now (Disclaimer: These show my gut feelings not actual understanding because I don’t know how to read/write/speak Japanese!):

Chapter Theme
159 Slugs. (Also, Kokage explains Abstract Art to Ao?)
160 Kei & Takane discuss ‘Frog & Prince’ story…
161 Hazuki visits Sora and they try baking cake… with Ao’s help!
162 Different hairstyles & Kate’s confusion with words (as usual).
163 Kei & Takane meet SuzuKaze combo (for the first time?).
164 Sora, Daichi, Kokage, Nagisa & of course, Bugs!
165 Asaka, Nagisa & of course, Grasshoppers vs. Locusts.
166 Kei & Takane meet Asaka & Daichi fighting with their Monsters!
167 Kate teaching English to others…
168 Asaka, Daichi, Nagisa & of course, Ichthyology!
169 Intro of a ‘new’ character w/ SuzuKaze combo…
170 Sora, Juju, SuzuKaze, Nagisa & of course, Ornithology!
171 Sora, Kei, Takane, Kokage, Nagisa & of course, Entomology!
172 High jinks of SuzuKaze combo & Kate (the usual)…
173 Entomology and Botany too with Nagisa…
174 Sora, Kei & Takane want to attract birds (bit more Ornithology).

Last nut lot beastly, if you’re wondering about the source of the quote above, here you go:


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Highlights from my US Trip

My travelogues are forever late and this one is so too. I travelled both to the West and East coast when I went to the US in July this time. I basically just did a lot of touristy things and walked a lot, to the extent that my ankle got a sprain towards the end of the journey, which took almost about 2 weeks to heal. I travelled to San Francisco, Dublin, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Greenwood, touching 3 lovely states meeting a few friends & family along the way. I met Him at Stony Brook after my trip in the West and we also travelled to Boston. For little details on what all we covered and where all we went, refer to the album.

South Rim of Grand Canyon

I know we can find zillions of pictures on the internet but have a look at mine too please. Smile I can guarantee one thing with my albums that they have less portraits. That will disappoint you if you are looking for portraits. If you are disappointed enough by now, let me just share with you some interesting bits from the trip:

Someone asked me if I was an American or British?! It made me shudder. I wanted to ask ‘How/What makes you think that?’ but I didn’t.  If it was a joke, I just wanted to laugh at it. If it was a sarcastic question, I didn’t want to understand it. I just replied with a simple ‘Neither’.

Snap by that same person :)

Before this trip, I had always thought there was just one plant which grew in deserts, one that required less water (or no water) to grow and that it was named Cactus. But I saw dozens and dozens of different Cacti (or Cactuses) in California. Also, it was strange to find out that the oh-so-popular-California was a drought-stricken state.

One among the dozens

One more among the dozens

I also thought Las Vegas was about young, eccentric, crazy people who love to gamble. As they show in movies, my perception was that people got engaged & married without themselves realizing. I wouldn’t say my perception was entirely incorrect. But it was also about average & sane people, happy & elderly people playing on the machines in casinos.

Gambling machines

Vegas was so hot in the day time that one could drink a swimming pool full of water and still remain dehydrated. I realized that meals in US go hot & cold hand-in-hand. It isn’t always a hot meal as in China. People question me here if I buy a cold drink after a hot meal. They are concerned when I order cold noodles or eat ice-creams for lunch. Here people like to have warm water, hot soup, and even hot desserts.

Cold lemonade               Hot sandwich & chips

Jason, our host in Boston, told us a Spanish proverb on a fine morning:
There are 2 types of lazy people: those who get up late & do nothing, and others who get up early only to have more time to do nothing.Smile with tongue out

Street vendors in Boston

Martin Roček, one of the YITP professors at Stony Brook didn’t shake hands with me (as he had flu), he shook elbows which was a unique gesture to say the least. Smile

Seagulls in Stony Brook

Saturday, August 20, 2016

What the… Bleach?

More than a decade… all gone poof in one chapter numbered 686. That is just another way of saying: One of the greatest, long-running manga ‘Bleach’ has ended!

Bleach Captains

And what an end that was. I can’t say I enjoyed the ‘end’ of Bleach as much as I’d have liked… It’s not that what was covered in this last chapter was underwhelming. It was more about what was not covered and shown that overwhelmed me. It was shown that things have settled down and people have moved on… (I was also disappointed when I couldn’t recognize the main character when he first appeared in this chapter as his ‘moved-on’ self!) But given that a couple of chapters earlier, there were fierce Battles (yes battleS, with a capital B and capital S) raging on, it seemed quite a jump-cut-paste to “everything turned out fine” ending.

Everything turned out fine in ‘InuYasha’; everything turned out fine in ‘FullMetal Alchemist’; things turned out well in ‘Scrapped Princess’ (recently re-watched with my SuperpartnerOpen-mouthed smile); hell, even it turned out well in ‘Naruto’ but that ‘fine’-ness and ‘well’-ness was introduced after the ongoing ‘conflicts’ were dealt with in reasonable detail. Their endings seemed to fit in nicely with the previous build-up and resolution of conflicts. But in Bleach, the build-up was excruciatingly detailed as much as the resolution was swift. And that threw me off my balance. That made me think of open-ended stories. That makes me expect more of Bleach next week.

And most importantly, that makes me no more wiser as to why the hell is this manga titled ‘Bleach’? or…

Is it ‘Breach’?

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Great Wall

After 1.5 years in China, I finally stepped outside the province of Guangdong. Thanks to a SAS conference in Beijing, I travelled there last month. Beijing is very cold in the winters and quite dry & hot in the summers. I was more anxious than excited, anxious about the pollution levels there. People told me that it’s impossible to travel without masks and people sometimes have to inhale imported bottles of fresh air to survive. I stayed there for 4 days and the pollution index was never more than 120 ppm which isn’t so bad.

Beijing looked very historical to me. It was a nice combination of the old & the new, the ancient & the modern, the lively & the quiet. The locals told me there are at least 30 million registered residents in Beijing and the whole city is nothing but a series of circles of different radii. The cost of the apartments increases depending on how far you live from the center of the city. Surprisingly people of Beijing seemed very happy. Pollution and extreme climate had no effect on their love for the city.

Chinese Tea House near 'Sun of the Altar' park

The first day we went to a Park, basically just one side of a large park called ‘Altar of the Sun’. As we walked along the park, Vivian, my colleague from office told me a bit of the Chinese history. Some of the kings from the Ming, Qing and Song Dynasties had 40+ children and how they felt it was important to have many sons because a large family was equivalent to a strong family. After the park visit, we had dinner at one of the old Beijing houses which was converted into a restaurant. They served the best of fish, prawns, shrimps and other sea-food to people who could eat them and sympathized with vegetarians like me (the only one there). I have no idea why they do so. I happily enjoyed the mushroom soup, special greens, baked eggplant and lots of fresh fruits.

Crushed Tofu

Veggies, sauces & Rice pancakes

The second day was us attending the conference and getting hit by what Marketing does to people, the latest of which I realized was having a robot on the premises. The sessions were mostly in Mandarin. They gave me a Bosch earphone to hear the translations. I figured someone at the back end was translating stuff. The device was handy only in the morning because it stopped working by the noon. I guess the translators got too tired by then. After a long day of trying to understand what was being said, I tagged along with people to a famous Beijing restaurant where they wanted to try the Beijing specialty “roasted duck”. I felt that the cooks had some special talent in cutting vegetables and meat. While returning, I looked at the skyscrapers and tall buildings which were beautiful in the evening lights. I thought of India and wondered how many years behind we actually were. People usually state things like 10/15 years. My question is, how far ahead/behind will we be then? Open-mouthed smile

SAS Robot

We went to the ‘Great wall’ on the 3rd day of our trip. A wonderful person named Sha came along to show us around. We started our walk to Badaling (one of the areas of the wall) and it wasn’t very easy. I was requesting my fellow travelers to take the rope car while going up but they weren’t convinced. There are steps only in a few stretches and mostly one needs to walk on steep stony slopes. People were gasping for breath, so was I. I took very many breaks before reaching the top of just a small part of the wall. I observed that the wall stretches for miles and Sha told me that the construction of the wall hasn’t stopped. They are either repairing something or building more. There were some ‘Hero Stones’ where one could stand and take photos to feel like a ‘Hero’ I guess. Many stones had names of people engraved on them. The sky was blue that day and I took some nice pictures (all from the phone). I also did something funny of sending post cards to people from a small post office at the Wall. I soaked my feet in very hot water that night and prayed for the ache in my legs to ease. It did work and I slept for 9 hours without moving an inch.

The Great Wall [Badaling side]

Hero Stone's hype

On the final day of our trip, we went to Tianenmen Square & looked at Forbidden city from outside. The square area had all sorts of places that a capital city should have. There were flags everywhere, large & wide administrative buildings & I enjoyed learning more of China’s history from Vivian. We also did some shopping for friends & family. I admired the extensive Metro system (16 lines that even colours are difficult to distinguish) & the 16-lane roads (with one allowed to take one’s car either on the odd or even days) that Beijing has.

Adminstrative buildings

Tianenmen Square

Beijing metro system

It was a short trip & I plan to travel to Xian, Shanghai, Chengdu, Mongolia and Tibet someday.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

D. Bones & Clocks

How many of you remember the cartoon called “SWAT Kats”?

Doesn’t matter… This post is NOT about cartoons featuring cats. This post isn’t about the book by David Mitchell either. The novelist not the comedian, who is also a great read / listen / watch.

This post is about photos of the book cover taken with my Panasonic GX7 under various circumstances. Let’s go through them one by one:

Manual Mode

Manual: f/5.2, 1/100s, ISO200, AWB with Flash (Vivid Colour Style)

iAuto Mode

iAuto: f/4.0, 1/20s, ISO3200, AWB with No Flash (Standard)

The following photos showcase some of the built-in Art Filters I find interesting.

Art Filter: Expressive

Expressive: f/4.0, 1/15s, ISO3200, AWB with No Flash

Art Filter: Dynamic Monochrome

D.Monochrome: f/4.0, 1/20s, ISO3200, AWB with No Flash

Art Filter: Impressive Art

Impressive Art: f/4.0, 1/25s, ISO3200, AWB with No Flash

Art Filter: Toy Pop

Toy Pop: f/4.0, 1/13s, ISO3200, AWB with No Flash

Art Filter: One Color

One Color: f/4.0, 1/20s, ISO3200, AWB with No Flash

Finally, a proper full-on cover-shot:

Manual Mode

Manual: f/8.0, 1/125s, ISO400, AWB with Flash (Vivid Colour Style)

Hope you’re buying the latest in the GX series…

85/80/7 Mark II

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Overdose of Shayari

I watched Umrao Jaan (again) last week and enjoyed listening to a lot of beautiful Ghazals in this movie. O and what a movie this is – the stunning and charismatic Rekha, great actors like Farooq Sheikh and Naseeruddin Shah, the movie cannot go wrong. Now I can’t wait to share some of my favourite Ghazals from this movie.

जुस्तुजू जिस की थी उस को तो न पाया हम ने
इस बहाने से मगर देख ली दुनिया हम ने

Justuju jis ki thi us ko to na paaya ham ne
Is bahaane se magar dekh li duniya ham ne

I could not get what I desired the most
At least I got to see the world along the way

सब का अहवाल वही है जो हमारा है आज
ये अलग बात कि शिकवा किया तन्हा हम ने

Sab ka ahwal vahi hai jo hamaara hai aaj
Ye alag baat ki shikva kiya tanha ham ne

Everyone’s condition is the same as mine today
Though it’s different that I complained in silence

ख़ुद पशीमान हुए न उसे शर्मिंदा किया
इश्क़ की वज़ को क्या ख़ूब निभाया हम ने

Khud pashimaan huye na usey sharminda kiya
Ishq ki vaza ko kya khoob nibhaaya ham ne

Neither did I repent nor did I shame him
I have well fulfilled the custom of love

कौन सा क़हर ये आँखों पे हुआ है नाज़िल
एक मुद्दत से कोई ख़्वाब न देखा हम ने

Kaun sa kahar ye aankhon pe hua hai naazil
Ek muddat se koi khwaab na dekha ham ne

What kind of a tragedy has befallen these eyes
That I have not dreamt for quite a while

उम्र भर सच ही कहा सच के सिवा कुछ न कहा
अज्र क्या इस का मिलेगा ये न सोचा हम ने

Umra bhar sach hi kaha sach ke siva kuch na kaha
Ajra kya is ka milega ye na socha ham ne

Have always spoken truth, nothing but the truth
I never thought of what will be its consequences


ज़िन्दगी जब भी तेरी बज़्म में लाती है हमें
ये ज़मीं चाँद से बेहतर नज़र आती है हमें

Zindagi jab bhi teri bazm mein laati hai hamein
Ye zameen chaand se behtar nazar aati hai hamein

Whenever life brings me in your company
This Earth looks much better than the Moon

सुर्ख फूलों से महक उठती हैं दिल की राहें
दिन ढले यूँ तेरी आवाज़ बुलाती है हमें

Surkh phoolon se mehak uthti hain dil ki raahein
Din dhale yun teri aawaaz bulaati hai hamein

The roads to my heart smell of red flowers
Your voice invites me so as the Sun sets

याद तेरी कभी दस्तक, कभी सरगोशी से
रात के पिछले पहर रोज़ जगाती है हमें

Yaad teri kabhi dastak, kabhi sargoshi se
Raat ke pichle pahar roz jagaati hai hamein

Your memories knock sometimes, whisper other times
To wake me up during the late hours of every night

हर मुलाक़ात का अंजाम जुदाई क्यूँ है
अब तो हर वक़्त यही बात सताती है हमें

Har mulaaqaat ka anjaam judaai kyun hai
Ab to har waqt yahi baat sataati hai hamein

Why is the end to every meeting a parting?
These thoughts trouble me often these days


दिल चीज़ क्या है आप मेरी जान लीजिये
बस एक बार मेरा कहा मान लीजिये

Dil cheej kya hai aap meri jaan lijiye
Bas ek baar mera kaha maan lijiye

What’s in a heart, you may have my soul
But just for once, you believe in my goal

इस अंजुमन में आपको आना है बार-बार
दीवार-ओ-दर को गौर से पहचान लीजिये

Is anjuman mein aapko aana hai baar-baar
Deewar-o-dar ko gaur se pehchaan lijiye

You will come to this gathering again and again
Make sure to recognize these walls and doors well

माना के दोस्तों को नहीं दोस्ती का पास
लेकिन ये क्या के गैर का अहसान लीजिये

Maana ke doston ko nahin dosti ka paas
Lekin ye kya ke gair ka ehsaan lijiye

I know friends do not have much regards for friendship
But what’s this that you ask for favours from strangers

कहिये तो आसमां को ज़मीं पर उतार लाएं
मुश्किल नहीं है कुछ भी अगर ठान लीजिये

Kahiye to aasmaan ko zameen par utaar laaen
Mushkil nahin hai kuch bhi agar thaan lijiye

I can bring down the Sky to Earth if you ask
Nothing is too difficult once a decision is made

शहरयार (Shahryar)

Saturday, May 28, 2016

More Errors in Translation

Let us continue lambasting Translator (see this post for our previous attempt). We are going to keep doing this till the camera translation for Japanese is released in the Win10 (mobile) app(s).

Bad Translator

Now where to begin! These sentences are not even in the same equivalence class… The Hindi sentence (literally) means “I am very grateful to you?”. Yes, you must have noticed something. The sentence doesn’t have an interrogative word so how the hell can it be a question! The English sentence should actually translate to something like: मुझे आपको कितना चुकाना है?

After this, my Superpartner suggested we try translating our own sentences in the Translator to see how well it does instead of getting fired up at the stock phrases on the app’s live tile. I asked her to shoot off 10 random sentences at me; I typed them up in Translator and Translator did its job. Here are the results of that experiment:

1. Let us have a Skype call. ⇒ हमें एक Skype कॉल है।

Crap! Not a good start. It should have been something like: चलो हम एक Skype कॉल करते हैं।

2. This is very expensive. ⇒ यह बहुत महंगा है।

On the mark!

3. Can I bargain on this? ⇒ मैं इस पर सौदेबाजी कर सकते हैं?

Aaah… almost right but the Pronoun-Verb matching is not the Translator’s strong point as we already know! So the last two words should read: सकता हूँ and probably it is also better to add क्या in the front to make it a proper question.

4. Today is very humid. ⇒ आज बहुत उमस है।


5. I am looking for some cheap souvenirs. ⇒ मैं कुछ सस्ते स्मृति चिन्ह के लिए देख रहा हूँ।

Almost perfect. Just omit के लिए. And instead of देख, use खोज to show ‘better’ grasp of Hindi than just literal translation.

6. Is there a flat for rent here? ⇒ वहाँ एक फ्लैट यहाँ किराए के लिए है?

Not a great translation on the face of it because it took ‘there’ literally. The translation can easily be salvaged by just changing the first word (for 'there') to क्या and it sounds perfect!

7. Where is my next assignment? ⇒ मेरी अगली काम कहाँ है?

Dammit, get the genders right! काम is masculine so use मेरा अगला instead of मेरी अगली!

8. What is cooking in your mind? ⇒ क्या आपके मन में पक रहा है?

All the right words but sounds weird! I don’t even know how to translate the Hindi phrase back to English. The right sounding sentence just needs the first word moved to the fourth place: आपके मन में क्या पक रहा है?

9. Shall we go to the park today? ⇒ हम पार्क करने के लिए आज चलें?

This is about parking a car or what? How can one park a car today? It should be deducible that ‘park’ has another meaning here. The translation should be simply: क्या हम आज उद्यान (पार्क) चलें?

10. I am taking my baby for a ride. ⇒ मैं मेरे बच्चे एक सवारी के लिए ले जा रहा हूँ।

Almost there… Just need to insert को after बच्चे. (We are too familiar with both Hindi & English to explain why that simple insertion is needed for the sentence to make sense but it is!) A slighlty better translation would be: मैं अपने बच्चे को (एक सवारी पर)/ घुमाने ले जा रहा हूँ।

So there you have it… Judge Translator on your own time. Smile

Hindi and/or Urdu

Monday, May 16, 2016

Correcting and Generating

This post is basically the end-piece of the bold declaration I made earlier this year. Finally, I have finished re-GUI-ing all of my programs, including recoding and / or coding new features. You can find previous relevant posts here, here and here. This post is about the Keystone Corrector and Polorama Generator.

Apart from this year’s theme of including new features like a waitbar, try/catch-ing ‘all’ errors, remembering folders accessed, constant height of buttons & texts, etc., these two have gained a new element in their GUIs. This element is about previewing the relevant transformation. Let me show you what that means for KC. You get to see the mock-up of the region you selected (in cyan) on left and on right you are shown an outline of the fully transformed image (in green) along with the ‘corrected’ (cyan) rectangle as follows:

KC Previews

Let us now move towards PG. First one is for a full 360° Polorama (a bland green circle) and the second  one for a 180° Polorama with some space left empty at the center (much more colourful):

PG Previews

That’s all I have to say about these. You can experience them first-hand by clicking on relevant tabs above.

Next we deal with some huge numbers. Specifically, views of some of my photos on Google maps! Who knew that I had submitted these but then it’s Google… it has access to almost everything I do / keep / share online so let’s leave such philosophical questions behind and just enjoy these photos. That’ll also help increase these (already huge) numbers some more (click on the photo to read the text).

Google Maps Views

Stony Brook University Hospital

Thursday, April 21, 2016

A 5-star Victory

Last week I found my Superpartner very happy. Well, because a fellow MATLAB user gave him 5-stars for his Keystone Corrector program. For those of you, who do not know what this program does, please refer to this page. Now what does He want to do from here, do more work on the Program I guess and that’s scary. Last time, when He had such an urge, the Program was AcBook and we spoke only about AcBook for the next 30 days. Well, not literally but technically, yes. Anyway, so you might see an update on that KC page soon or a blog post about KC or both.

I was recently pointed to this article and since am currently living in this part of the world, I have an urge to go and visit it myself. Well, more on that sometime later.

We also reminded ourselves of these two beautiful shers this week:

ज़िंदगी तुझ से हर इक साँस पे समझौता करूँ
शौक़ जीने का है मुझ को मगर इतना भी नहीं

Zindagi tujh se har ik saans pe samjhauta karun
Shaukh jeene ka hai mujh ko magar itna bhi nahin

To compromise at every breath with you, Life
I am fond of living but not to this extent!

मुजफ़्फ़र वारसी (Mujaffar Warsi)

आज फिर कुछ कमाल होने दो
दर्द को बेमिसाल होने दो

Aaj phir kuch kamaal hone do
Dard ko bemisaal hone do

Today let us be amazed again
Let there be incomparable pain

विजय प्रताप आँसू (Vijay Pratap Aansu)

We can see the Taipei 101 from outside our house. One evening last week, we went out to do some night photography. Just looking at the tower from a distance made us happy and we clicked a few pictures. Refer to the alt-text of the pictures below to understand what all we tried.

Auto: f/5.6, 1/6s, 200mm, ISO3200

'Sparkling Lights' Scene Mode

Manual: f/5.6, 1/20s, 189mm, ISO800

Manual: f/5.6, 1/25s, 200mm, ISO800

After this completely random post (is what anyone would call it), I will leave you with a bit more randomness. I have been reading on the internet a lot about 1) Climate change or Global temperatures rise 2) Animal cruelty and what we as wise citizens could do. I am not finding good literature / original research to read up on these issues so if anyone can share such literature, please do. If you are also concerned about these issues, spread the word. Thank you.