Saturday, May 10, 2008

Lots of photos

Some photos, siting unshared for long time!
0. First Photos from my Canon EOS 30D
First Photos from my Canon EOS 30D

1. ECE Day 2008: Every year ECE organizes a BIG fun-n-fair to let the hungry and tired raccoons (aka ECE'ians!) eat and relax!
ECE Day 2008

Why raccoons? Here it goes from our department website:
Introducing the ECE Raccoon
The unofficial ECE Day mascot is the raccoon. The idea developed at a SAC meeting when discussing the defining characteristics of an ECE student's life. SAC members found that the raccoon best exemplified those characteristics since they, like ECE students, tend to be nocturnal and are always scrounging for free food. Raccoon eyes are indicative of the sleep deprivation that sometimes accompanies an ECE education.

--- edit some more photos 19-May 08 ---

2. Photos from plane
Photos from plane

3. Sunset, flowers mountains and much more
Sunset, flowers mountains and much more

4. Humming bird, bees and ducks
Humming bird, bees and ducks

5. Flowers, Squirrels and Leaves
Flowers, Squirrel and leaves

WD320, she's sexy!

With me increasingly relying on my laptop these days, I had always worried about it crashing! For people like me, who rely on their laptops for a hell lot of things in their lives, the biggest fear is loosing all the data, and have NO backup! I believe that if data is worth keeping, it is worth backing up!
As, one of the numerous, old saying goes:
Being too busy to worry about backup, is like being too busy driving a car to put on the seatbelt.

So, some time back, I plunged into yet another research... choosing the best external hard disk. And guess what, I found her! She's sexy, sleek and efficient!

Isn't she cute: My WD 320

There are 2 kinds of drives, to choose from. And for a while I considered building a not-so-very-common thrid option too.
0. 5.25" external HDD, the one with bigger form factor
1. 2.5" HDD, sexier of the species, aka passport HDD.
2. Internal HDD in an enclosure, a home-grown solution.

I went with "passport", not because it's sexier, but because it fit my needs better than others. So, how does one decide on the HDD, I've come up with my own metrics. This, by no means is complete, but a good place to start.

0. Purpose
You will be surprised by the fact that too many people going out to buy HDD don't have a clue WHY are they doing so. When asked, they say 'To store data'! WTF, I gawk! What else will you do with a hard disk??? Shove it up your ___, huh? ... Coming to the point, I classify needs into two:
- Backup
- Increased Storage
You either want additional space for backing up all your critical data Or you want to _just_ expand your storage capacity for more data: viz. music, movies, ebooks, etc. And once you have decided on that, 80% of your job is done. But the rest 20% will take much logner. Choosing the right model.

If you want a backing store, reliability is the MOST important factor. The speed (5200rpm or 7200 rpm), the form factor, and noise are the least of your worries. You don't mind if it takes a hour to back up on a reliable HDD, but you sure as hell would be pissed off if you can backup everything in 15 minutes but there is no guarantee that you can rely on it the coming morning!

All the external HDDs that I looked at, the 5.25 ones were built with only one goal in mind: Speed! So all of them spun at 7200 rpm. And as a side effect, they run pretty hot, reducing reliability. To make it worse, most vendors these days don't put fan on HDDs! To cut the cost, of course. Thus, they rely on users to provide the right environment. As a result, the rate of failure is very high. So I ruled our 5.25" HDDs. At least all the current models.

WD320 is soooo hooked on to my lover, my TP-T43

1. Capacity
Now your job is easier, within the budget you have, you will want to go for the one with highest guarantee/warranty period and then highest capacity. Mind you, the manufacturer will ONLY replace the HDD if it fails, they will charge a @#$ing hell lot of money (of the order of a grands of dollars!) to recover your data. So be very paranoid about reliability when you buy HDD for backups. BTW, simple solution is to buy two and mirror the backup! (Yes, that's the result of taking Greg Ganger's Adv. Storage Systems this semester!) But it can be expensive, and more of a headache to maintain the 2 in sync.

For the same capacity, the passport will be more expensive than the bigger one. But mind you, do research on the reliability well. The market is flooded with so many models, that you might be tempted to take the latest and fastest one. I would recommend taking a generation of HDD older than the bleeding edge ones. The passport versions are really cool, actually the size of your passport, don't need external power supply and you can carry them around with you regularly. 5.25" ones, on other hand, are bulkier, heavy, spins faster and hence are much more noisy, generate more heat, have higher data transfer speeds, and needs an external power supply. You definitely can't carry these along regularly. But they have amazing capacities, of the order of TBs on regular consumer models.

So, what I chose is Western Digital My Passport 320GB (Model: WDME3200TN)
It's sleek, sexy, smart and very very silent. I don't care that it runs at slower 5400 rpm, I feel safe when I entrust her with my GBs worth of backup data. If you are looking to buy one, I strongly recommend only WD or Seagate. And yes, if you choose, you MUST buy a decent HDD hard-case to protect your prized possession, I recommend CaseLogic for that.

WD320 with CaseLogic hard case, I just love that red color!

For now, I just dd out the whole partitions to WD-320. What I am yet to do is device a nice incremental backup system from the off-the-self Unix tools. And any recommendations in that regards are most welcome.

Oh, I missed they third option, I bet you are interested. It's a simple solution. You buy a regular internal HDD, ones that go into your desktop PCs. They are hell more reliable than external ones. Buy a nice external enclosure, the one with good fan and thermodynamics. And BINGO! Fit your HDD into it, and you have your 5.25" equivalent external storage! But I failed to find a good external HDD case, and so dropped the idea. If you don't care about the looks too much, and are more hungry for capacities, I urge you not to rule out this option completely. It will definitely turn out much cheaper and more reliable than other options. Of course you won't get those jazy si-fi-movie-like glowing lights, if you care about it!

Photo Credits: Self
Equipment: Canon EOS 30D + Tamron 18-200mm

Logical! Debunking the myth...

Yeah! Shaolin is back after a long time... you people guessed it right, I was deep buried in a zillion assignments... I'm through with yet another semester. And I think I'm still alive, sane and kicking a$$, more than ever before!

So what I have for you today... well this was just one of the many random stream of thoughts which I keep experiencing during mental turmoil of attaining harmony. Or, maybe it is a thought that takes birth as some random alpha particle from the outer space bombards the neurons; just the way it randomly flips a bit on memory bus running at near-optical speeds.

It, by no means, is as pristine as the original thought, but then... doesn't everything dilutes the moment it comes out of your mind! I still thought of putting it up here.

If you are tooooo technical, you tend to be come too logical! Wow! Ain't that good! I would argue otherwise! Well, almost. Why...being more logical is definitely a great plus, as long as you don't have to deal with "REAL" humans. What do I mean...

Haven't you ever been in a situation where you couldn't reason something... something that you couldn't explain despite the fact that you fully understood the situation. Get me one parent who has been successful in being absolutely logical with her kid EVERY single time! No! You won't find a single one! All the hard earned logic is not better than rat's sh_t when it comes to reasoning with kids! I think it's a little more clear that I want to say: You can't reason every single thing in your life every single time. Logic, as Akio said, HAS to take a backseat when dealing with humans.

Wish I had a good example to quote here, all that penned down for this post weren't good enough. I had to scrap them. So this might be too abstract and difficult to connect to, for some of you. Still I trudge on...

There are many such numerous situations where logic JUST takes the backseat. As Akio Morita, the founder and father of Sony sums it up nicely:
You can be totally rational with a machine. But if you work with people, logic often has to take a backseat to understanding.

After all, that's what makes us humans, each being bilogically the same (now medical students, don't argue on DNA, ok!) but radically different from the other. Otherwise, if every one was AS logical as machines, all the time, all the same, would we be any different from the machines!!! Ever read Roger Penrose's Shadows of the Mind: A Search for the Missing Science of Consciousness?

Then... how do I fix it? At my job I HAVE to be logical... rational to earn my daily bread! Yes, by all means, be logical, be the MOST rational person you can become. But don't loose that human touch. The touch that makes you so human in the first place. When the need arises, become a human, again. And above all, be cognizant of the time you have to switch from one to another.

The only way to do that is to do something different every once a while (Note: Watching idiot-box as doing something different is NOT the answer. As the name suggests, watch too much of it, and it will turn you into one of it's species, Saggy, I know you are going to disagree :D ... but may be you are one of the few smart ones to know _what_ to watch on that idoit box!). One nice way is (now I can't bet my a$ on it that it works, but hey, it is logical that it works ;-) )... read novels, and play sports where you deal with LOTS of real humans. Get your a$$ of your routine once a while and do something completely different. Easier said than done, but hey, who said sanity comes free! I envy my brother who's dentist and has to deal with differnt patient every single day!!! He's far good at dealing with humans than I am.

Such hobbies makes you think differently every once a while, many a times not so rational. So pick a hobby, preferably where you interact with other humans and you have regained your identity, just what GOD wanted you to be! Probably you have gone bonkers by now :)