31 December, 2007

New Year, New World

It's a new world
It's a new start
It's alive with the beating of young hearts
It's a new day
It's a new plan
I've been waiting for you
Here I am

('Here I am' By Bryan Adams)

24 December, 2007

Last Week Recap: Microprocessors

Last week was spent mostly thinking about Microprocessors. Apart from curiosity there are couple of reasons why I am so much interested in Microprocessors.
  • In next few days, I am planning to buy some hardware which is capable of hosting an web-based application. I do NOT know if I could use old (less powerful processor) hardware (many CPUs) and combine it do get something useful, need to find this out. Other option is to buy brand new hardware from Dell/HP/Lenovo.
  • I would like to learn how to write software to take advantage of multiple cores in the processors.
  • I would like to give a try to build simple robots (toy car like) based on simple processor (may not even need processor but still). I wonder how exactly processors are used in real cars.
I read some of the books on Microprocessor's published in 197o's (!) , at the library. Intel 4004, 8008, 8086, Motorola 68000 etc. So far I have understood:
  • Random Access Memory (RAM), types of RAM (DRAM, SRAM), cost trade off.
  • How processor is connected to RAM. (address bus, data bus, control bus)
  • Registers in the processor (program counter, stack pointer, accumulator etc.)
  • Processor clock (uses quartz)
From Ulrich Drepper's paper I could understand some basics about Memory Cache. Processor is fast, DRAM is not, so we need memory cache. Need to re-read stuff about NUMA, relevance of Cache memory for multi-core processors and why a programmer should know these details.
Also need to find more information about OpenMP and actually use it (gcc 4.x has it).

I also wonder if there is Museum of Computer History in either Mumbai or Pune and would it be interesting idea to build such Museum. So that students and school children can appreciate and remember the great people behind today's computers (or mobile phones that they are carrying in their pockets).

Good Read : Great moments in microprocessor history.

17 December, 2007

Conference In Banagalore


I attended FOSS.IN 2007, from 4th to 8th December at IISc Bangalore. I decided to attend the conference because of my interest in Firefox browser and Linux Kernel. The conference had great speakers Rusty, Naba, Ulrich, Mitchell Baker and many others. I hope I learned enough to have motivation to work on source code of one of the projects. Overall It was worth the effort of traveling from Mumbai to Bangalore.

I gave a lighting talk on GLPK in 3 minutes to audience of 15 people. I tried to describe why it is good project for people/students who want to improve their programming skills (specifically C and Linux). The reason are that while working on linear program solver one has to think about floating point arithmetic, numerical stability and how to use multiple processors/cores to make program faster.

The lighting talks were good too. You could give a talk on any talk. This guy gave a talk on egg-omelet, it was so good that my mouth was watery :). Thanks Danese for arranging the talks.

Thanks Mozilla team, Fedora team, Sun team, Kernel hackers and all other speakers for interesting talks.

In the evening temperatures dropped to around 16 degrees Celsius. Most of the days I stayed in my hotel room. One evening I visited M. G. Road to buy few T-shirts. Later I realized I could have shopped in Malleshawaram.

Mumbai Airport

My flight to Bangalore was delayed by 30 mins, so I got to spend few hours at Mumbai International. Airport, domestic terminals. It has quite improved, they have increased the security check area, passenger lounge area. CCD and Crossword are there inside the terminal.

Outside the terminal they have build a huge shelter, should be useful in rainy season. So now passengers should be able to catch a cab without getting wet in case of rains.

Jet Airways In-flight Entertainment System

Flight took of in east direction (strip is east-west I think), sky was clear, got to see other side of Mumbai from the sky. The slums actually look beautiful from the sky. This was first time I used Jet's In-flight entertainment system, it was good.

Basically it is a touch screen (medium size), where you can choose the menus. You plug in the head-phone in the whole on the left hand of your seat. They have lots of music options (classical, pop etc.). Later I watched a Friends episode.

03 December, 2007

Bangalore Conference

I will be attending open source conference FOSS.IN/2007, in Bangalore from 4th till 8th Dec. Drop me a mail if you want to hang out, discuss about airlines industry, algorithms to solve lp/mip, scheduling problems, Linux, computers etc. If there are music festivals going on somewhere in Bangalore, I would be interested.

At the conference I just want to have fun, learn some Javascript, about Linux (process scheduling part) Kernel, parallel processing. Also want to collect info about different option available for fast Internet connection and cheap hardware.

Recently I have been thinking about some of following problems:

- Collecting data from various sources and analyzing it and use it for making better decisions.
  • Patients diagnosis at hospitals.
  • Travel/transportation data.
  • Students performance in school and other places. This data can be combined with his/her preferences/hobbies and used to offer career advise.
- A cheap computer for student with very limited functionality, which will make teenage students ready for using "real" laptops. Basic functionality should allow them to type alphabets and words.

- Hardware re-cycling.
- Portable device to measure quality of air, water and food, quickly.