Monday, August 27, 2018

Where is that server?

I was tying to find the geo location of a few DNS IPs that we use for our proxy server today, and stumbled upon these two sites: https://tools.keycdn.com/geo and https://ipstack.com

So just out of curiosity I decided to check some Indian (and India related) sites and their geo locations. The most surprising one for me was Paytm and Flipkart. While the later seem to be hosted in India, Paytm seem to be hosted on AWS in Singapore. Of the banks: the HDFC seem to be at odds to use Cloudflare hosting from USA. With GOI (hopefully soon) enacting the DEPA (Data Empowerment and Protection Architecture), many of these sites would need to move with in India, this includes some which I am directly associated with. Also despite what some Chinese mobile companies want you to believe that their user data is stored only in India / Singapore (which may be true), their IP address location seem to indicate a different story. One more fun: google.co.in points to a server in USA.

Here are more:



























Sunday, August 26, 2018

A quick trip to my alma mater: Pune University

I had a quick visit to my alma mater the PU (now SPPU). I had been visiting the campus after quite a long gap, and more so I was going in monsoon time. A time when the campus is lush green and as always pleasant than the rest of city. So I was surprised to find that the British era main building has been mostly renovated and looked great again.


And one who has been in PU for even a short graduation course cannot forget the great old tree - the place where multiple generation of students relaxed, studied, chilled and romanced. I always make it a point to walk though this tree every time I visit the PU campus. The tree is getting old, a branch was completely rotten, but it still stands still as a magnificent caretaker of numerous seekers of knowledge who folk to this Oxford of the east. 






Saturday, August 25, 2018

Odd tech trials #1

I use a lot of tech. And more often that not, I use them in ways that a typical user may not really use the tech. Nor it is the way tech companies design their products to be used. Here are some odd experiments I am currently running:

1) Using a Windows desktop PC with out a mouse. I have almost a decade old machine, of which internals have been upgraded over time. About 5 years ago (around the time Windows 8 was released), I had also bought a touch screen monitor, but seldom use the "touch" part of it. Few weeks ago, I decided to give up on my old wired mouse and keyboard in leu of a wireless keyboard I had got for an iPad (but which I found no use of). Now, I didn't have wireless mouse, so I decided to just rely on using the touch screen. So far the experiment has been going great. But these days, I use my desktop PC a lot less as I am away from home most of the time. (PS: this post is being written on my desktop PC).

2) Using an Android phone without Google account. I have been using Oppo A3s as my secondary phone for a while now. A week ago, however, I was getting increasingly upset over the way Google was tracking my movements. Yes, I could shutoff the tracking options, but then I decided to nuke the phone and use it without any Google account. But without a Google account on the phone there is no way to download apps from the Play Store. Being an Oppo phone, however, there was a "Oppo Store" where you could install most of the popular apps on the "Play Store", and the Oppo store didn't need you to setup an account or anything, but it indicated that it would constantly send "usage information" to "improve user experience". Something I have ZERO interest in, and of-course something that raises my inner eyebrows. So I nuked the phone again and set it up with out anything, disabling and removing everything possible to the bare minimum. But I needed two apps (one a popular messaging app and another an apartment security app) - for both of these I found a trusted source to get the APK and side load them on to the phone. As of now things are going fine. I don't recommend people doing this, but one can pretty much have a locked down phone (android), if one really wants it that way.

3) Using an Android phone just to take photos. I had been reviewing the so called phone called "Kodak Ektra". Now even though you can make phone calls using this "phone", it is very much a camera in all ergonomics sense. I tried to use it as my secondary phone but I just couldn't. So next I nuked this phone and removed all the apps (including phone and messages) except the camera app, the Google Photos app and Snapseed. Now I have a "smart camera" - that has only one function : take photos, on device editing (using the fantastic Snapseed), and backup to Google Photos over a Wi-Fi connection. Coming to think of it sounds pretty cool. I am just wondering, why have companies not yet come up with camera products that would offer this very limited and focused function: take photos, offer on device editing, and backup on cloud storage. I definitely think there is a sizeable marker for this device - and I already have a neat prototype of this ;)

Friday, August 24, 2018

Playing with OpenCV : dynamic magnification



I have been playing around with OpenCV (https://docs.opencv.org/3.3.0/index.html) on Android quite a bit these days. While I am using OpenCV for image processing and image recognition work (using caffe bridge), I wanted to implement a UX scenario with dynamic magnification when a user is interacting with an image. An example of this UX is seen below:



You can see this kind of UX on iOS when trying to select a text. This is the equivalent for selecting a part of the image. After trying out a bit, I figured we could do with some simple lines of code as follows:

  Mat img = ...; // the source image is read into this Mat
 int sz = .. ; // size of zoomed area in pixels
 int sf = 2 ;  // the scale factor
 int scaledFactor = sz * sf; // this would be the total width of the zoomed area            
  int mxX =  mnX + scaledFactor;
 int mxY =  mnY + scaledFactor;

 // the centre of the circle depicting the zoom
 Point circleCenter = new Point((mxX-mnX)/2, (mxY-mnY)/2);

 // the source rectangle 
 Rect rect = new Rect(mnHX, mnHY, sz, sz);
 // the scaled rectangle 
 Rect scaledRect = new Rect(mnX, mnY, scaledFactor, scaledFactor);
 Mat roiFrame = new Mat(img, rect);  // get the are of interest to magnify 
 Mat scaledFrame = new Mat(roiFrame.rows()*sf, roiFrame.cols()*sf, img.type());
 Mat circleMask = new Mat(roiFrame.rows()*sf, roiFrame.cols()*sf, img.type());
 // create a circular mask 
 rectangle(circleMask, new Point(0, 0), new Point(scaledFactor, scaledFactor), BLACK, -1);
 circle(circleMask, circleCenter, sz, WHITE, -1);
 // zoom the rectangular area
 resize(roiFrame, scaledFrame, new Size(), sf, sf, INTER_LINEAR);
 // now copy the zoomed area into the source image applying the circular mask 
 scaledFrame.copyTo(img.submat(scaledRect), circleMask);
 // indicative circle
 circle(img, new Point((mxX+mnX)/2, (mxY+mnY)/2), sz, GREEN, 1);

 // cleanup ..
 roiFrame.release();
 scaledFrame.release();
 circleMask.release();

The above code is essentially a fast way to get a source rectangular area on the screen where a user is interacting, scale that area to a factor as needed, then apply a circular mask to give an effect of magnifying glass, then copy this back on to the source image so that it overlays to give a smooth UX with dynamic magnification when selecting a portion of the image.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Axiostat becomes the first from India to get USFDA approval for wound dressing.

Wounds are a traumatic. Some wounds may immediately kill a person, others may hurt over a longer period. Having been associated with a company researching into this domain, I can tell you that for both of these, wound care is absolutely essential and an important part of that is dressing.

Axiostat (http://www.axiobio.com), a Bangalore based company just got USFDA approval for their patented (http://www.axiobio.com/axio-clotting-technology/), emergency wound dressing tech ( 
http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2018/mar/01/axiostat-is-first-indian-wound-dressing-to-get-usfda-nod-1780418.html). Apparently, their products are being already used in Indian military (http://www.axiobio.com/military/). Now, with this approval, they also have the possibility of a larger global market.

This is quite a good news. These are some of the companies and alike that GOI needs to froster and encourage. They are not the ones that have short term benefits (of creating lots of jobs, say) albeit  have long term impact not only in India but have global outreach. Something, I had argued back in 2014 in this article (http://tovganesh.blogspot.in/2014/12/make-for-india-makes-more-sense-than.html) and also echoed in a well written article by Amit Paranjape (https://swarajyamag.com/science/israel-the-startup-nation-lessons-for-india)

As a policy, GOI not only needs to encourage local manufacturing, but would have to go the extra mile to encourage disruptive, forward thinking companies who may not have capital funds today but have superior brain power to make products, and IP for the world audience of tomorrow. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A week with Apple Watch

So, here I am. After avoiding to get a watch in the first place, I recently bought an Apple Watch (Series 1) for myself. I didn't go for Series 3 because I am not really a swimmer or runner and the Series 3 doesn't actually offer substantially more in terms of features against the price difference. With the difference in price, you can actually purchase AirPods as well.

In 2013, months before Apple released their first Watch model - I had written a post stating why calls, text and tweets won't define a smartwatch (see. It is not calls, text and tweet that would make a smartwatch) - which I am pleased that I wrote - and I am so right in every aspect of what I wrote there. Apple with its Watch, initially had a mis-step. It tried to position itself as a luxury watch maker, failed, and quickly pivoted its strategy to what a wearable watch truly made sense: tell time, track fitness, have a quick way to call up digital assistant, and 3rd party apps to extend the functions not in the core system.  When I see the Siri watch face on my watch - I can't help but pat myself of how close is this interaction model to what I described in the article above :)



The interaction model that I proposed and the Siri Watch face have so much in common (see http://tovganesh.blogspot.in/2013/09/it-is-not-calls-text-and-tweet-that.html).



Third party apps are there, but are still a long way to go.

There is still a lot to improve until we really have a wearable computer that doesn't look like a piece of brick, and one whose battery lasts for at least a full day of heavy use. The Series 3 with LTE is definitely not that one device as Joanna from WSJ notes in her review of the latest iteration of the watch that I didn't get (https://www.wsj.com/articles/apple-watch-series-3-review-untethered-and-unreliable-1505905203).

For one thing is sure, smartwatches are here to stay. It is only to be seen if they take as much time as smartphones to evolve or would we see substantial breakthroughs in a much shorter period. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

Using the iPhone for programming




I have been using my iPhone like a computer for some time now. The primary thing I do with my computer is programming. I dislike laptops and more dislike carrying around one. Over about 2 months ago - I experimented using the iPad as my primary go to computer. With the multitasking enhancements introduced in iOS 11, I could pretty much use it as a primary computer with a number work apps installed: Terminus (for ssh to development Linux server), Pythonista (for a fantastic on device python interpreter with a number of libraries I use - numpy to be specific, Working Copy (for managing git repositories), Textastic (the most fantastic source code editor for iOS). With these apps in place my next quest was to see if I could manage even without the iPad around. This is my week 2 of the experiment and I think I haven’t faced a lot of issue for on the go programming. These tools just work great for me. Now I can pretty much keep my laptop at home and use the desktop at work, while on the move I just use my phone. There are a few things like join.me and teamviewer that may just work better on a bigger screen, but then I can also connect my phone using the lightning to vga dongle that I sometimes carry - if there is really this need. 

Oh - and did I tell you that I wrote this post on the same phone ;) 

Peace.