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Showing posts from September, 2011

Let's go back to the fountain pen

I love my Emacs (and org-mode), but there is something else about my fountain-pen. My fountain-pen is excellent for doodling and doing creative thinking. I guess the personality and non-uniformity of the handwriting adds a lot to the thinking process. Or maybe it is that handwriting requires more hand-eye coordination, or is more relaxing than typing. We are wired as analog and may process/control analog things better. I don't know what that special thing is. But for a task that requires deep thinking, I first hack at it with my pen and then move to Emacs to edit the text and digitally save/archive the text.

They should produce a tablet with a natural (high resolution, comfortable) pen input. That would save me a lot of time from having to type my writing to make it digitally available. I tried some tablets, and I was not happy with their pen support. I would be a loyal customer for an iPad like tablet with natural pen input. It could be a specialized device, it doesn't have …

Privacy through lies

A short sci-fi story by Vernor Vinge, synthetic serendipity, mentions "friends of privacy" which fabricates lies to re-achieve privacy that is violated by web-services *cough*Facebook*cough*. Here is an excerpt.
Doris Nguyen. Former homemaker. Mike eyed the youngish face. She looked almost his mom’s age, even though she was 40 years older. He searched on the name, shed collisions and obvious myths; the Friends of Privacy piled the lies so deep that sometimes it was hard to find the truth. But Doris Nguyen had no special connections in her past. This privacy through lies idea has been explored somewhat. I have heard of a proposal where a node sends 4 different data to be processed (1 correct and 3 incorrect), so the server cannot learn what is the correct data, and the node can use only the reply to the correct data and discards the other 3 replies. I was wondering if this "privacy through lies" approach can be or is explored further.

Trip notes from Mobicom 2011

I am attending MOBICOM'11 at Las Vegas, and mostly enjoying it. I took some notes from the talks. Here I will share my notes about a couple of talks which I found more interesting than the others.

SmartVNC: An effective remote computing solution for smartphones. The goal here is to improve on the usability of solutions (such as AndroidVNC) that allow accessing a remote PC from a smartphone. The problem with AndroidVNC is task-inflation: user needs to do a lot of zooming and panning and also the small keyboard is inconvenient for typing. The solution offered is to use macros to automate common user-specific tasks in AndroidVNC. The macros appear as a sidebar and the user can click a macro to perform several steps quickly. These macros are defined as hooks at the GUI level (instead of app-level or OS-level) so that they can be application-agnostic as well as robust and extensibleDetecting driver phone use leveraging car speakers. The goal is to block the delivery of a call or SMS fo…

Tenure advice to new faculty

A month ago, I participated at a panel as part of the new faculty orientation program of the SUNY Buffalo. There were 5 recently tenured faculty in the panel. The idea was that we would convey our tenure advice to the new faculty. I was the only one from the Engineering School, the others were mostly from Social sciences. We had 80 minutes for 5 speakers, so I expected to get 15 minutes. But, the panel was rather informal and the speaking times were not enforced. So, I got to speak as the 4th speaker for 5 minutes only. The other speakers had come with 3-4 printed pages to talk, I had keynote prepared keynote slides (which I ended up not showing with a projector). Since I feel I didn't get enough mileage out of these slides, I am sharing them here.
UBNewFacultyAdvice.pdf

The panel also exposed me to some cultural differences among Social and Engineering disciplines. I didn't find their advice actionable, and probably they found my advice blunt. I won't discuss more. I am an…

Rapid prototyping FTW

Image
Very interesting talk. It is worth your 6 minutes. Sorry, Dijkstra approach, you lose.

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