3rd AnniversaryWed, 27th Jul '11, 11:53 pm::
Today was our 3rd wedding anniversary. Hard to believe how fast time passes. Since the anniversary fell on a Wednesday, we decided to celebrate it a bit earlier and took a short vacation in Longboat Key last weekend. But we saved the gifts for this week. Juliet surprised me by designing new business cards for me and in return, I did what I always do - spoil her with shiny things (necklace & earrings).
Things have been pretty busy for both of us lately, especially with her long 6am-7pm surgery days. I've been working on KType.net steadily and can't wait till I have something ready to share. Last weekend I took some time to create a Google+ extension in Chrome and so far over 2,000 people have installed Plus Minus. I did not expect such a positive response and was pleasantly surprised to see that people love it. I'm planning on making a Firefox version soon. In the meantime, I'm learning CoffeeScript.
More science, not lessFri, 22nd Jul '11, 1:32 pm::
I went to bed late last night and woke up to the sound of loud beeping alarms. Having survived an electrical fire that shook me up from peaceful slumber in 2005, I still panic a bit whenever I detect loud continuous beeps in my sleep. To my relief, I discovered that there was no fire - it was just a power failure and my security system and computer UPS were beeping to alert me that the battery backup had kicked in. Not knowing if it was just me or the whole neighborhood, I walked over to my neighbor's house to check and he said the whole neighborhood was without power because of a transformer malfunction. He called the electric company and was told the power would be back in two hours.
With no power to go back to, I ended up just hanging out with my neighbor and we talked about "The World". It's been a long time since I had a good, friendly argument offline and frankly I was surprised at how different the world appears to him than it does to me. To me, NASA, space exploration, and particle physics research are a necessity. Pushing the boundaries of science, regardless of how soon the research can have practical applications, is imperative. To him, all government-sponsored research was taking away money from hard-working people and giving it to lazy scientists so they could put shrimps on treadmill (depressing link below). In his view, all research should be funded privately and not at the taxpayers expense.
I argued that yes, while 1 out of 1,000 grants involves putting shrimps on treadmills, scientific discovery is not like running a factory. You cannot just say "cure cancer", expect a bunch of researchers to go into a laboratory, and come out with a single cure. That's only possible in Spiderman comics. In real-life, people from all over the world pour their hearts and souls into one single tiny aspect of the entire problem and tirelessly work on it for decades, and if they are fortunate, discover something meaningful. My neighbor has chronic back pain and I asked how would he feel if scientists discovered a special protein that gets released into the shrimp's bloodstream whenever it starts to develop signs of chronic fatigue and that we can create medicine that have the same beneficial effect on humans with chronic back pain? After a few moments of silence, I could sense his mind-gears turning.
Being cynical as I am, I expected him to quote yet another talking-point from some news article but surprisingly he said "You know, that's not so bad. What's half a million bucks when you can get rid of life-long pain for millions of people?" I exclaimed, "And that's exactly what science is! We don't know what is going to work and what's not but we have to keep moving forward. Going to Mars and beyond may seem like a waste of taxpayers money when you could be building more schools but without promotic scientific research, you will never be able to break out of the problems we have in the world today."
We argued back and forth for the next couple of hours about everything from drug legalization to policing of the Internet but before we parted ways, he thanked me for changing his views on scientific research. He said "You know, I never looked at it that way." That made me feel genuinely happy. I expect others to disagree with me on socioeconomic matters as it is quite often not a matter of black and white but rather infinite shades of grey. However, science is a matter of black and white to me. Science good, not-science bad. Of course there are shades of grey within scientific research itself but overall, the world will be a better place with more science, not less.
- Sen. Coburn Targets Shrimp on Treadmill, Other NSF Spending
Sen. Tom Coburn is stepping up his crusade against the National Science Foundation this week with a new report that said the NSF funds frivolous research and fritters away its own management funds.
"Nobody is dreaming about tomorrow anymore..."
"How much would you pay for the Universe?"
- Neil deGrasse Tyson: What NASA Means to America's Future
Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, a Distinguished Speaker at the University at Buffalo, answered a student's question about federal cutbacks to NASA funding.
Introducing Plus MinusThu, 21st Jul '11, 2:52 am::
If you use Chrome and love Google+ but hate how messy the Stream gets, check out my new Chrome Extension: Plus Minus. It lets you easily mark Google+ posts as read. New posts in your stream show up normally and after you read a post, click the triangle next to the person's picture to shrink the entire post into just two lines.
Try out the extension and leave your feedback in the comments below.
Juliet and I took a trip down to Longboat Key this weekend and stayed in a cute little beach cottage. We spent the mornings splashing in the Gulf and the pool and the rest of the day looking at critters. We visited Big Cat Habitat and Mote Aquarium, both in Sarasota, FL - must see places if you are in the area and love animals.
Just uploaded some pics from my trip down to the Big Cat Habitat in Sarasota, FL with Juliet this weekend.
Saw this Common Marmoset yesterday at Big Cat Habitat in Sarasota, FL. I title this piece: "Soon..."
Spotted this preserved giant squid at the Mote Aquarium in Sarasota, FL today. It's body was over 30 feet long and weighed 500lbs when it was found off the coast of New Zealand a few years ago.
For the past couple of years, my wife and I have indulged in a quirky endeavor. We love animals and no matter where we travel to, we make sure to check out local animal shelters, rescue habitats, and wildlife sanctuaries. And if permissible, she feeds the critters. I created a site called "My wife feeds", linked below. Feel free to share!
I dug into the code behind G+ tonight and made my personal blog sync with my G+ posts. I've had my blog for almost ten years now and don't plan on giving up on it anytime soon or rather ever. However, it is a pain to copy-paste content from G+ to my blog all the time so I automated it. I shared some of my findings behind the JSON XHR on reddit.
I wish I could nest circles on Google+. I have a circle for relatives and a circle for family. My family circle should automatically be a part of my relatives circle. Similarly, I have a circle for my programmer friends and a circle for my tech-savvy friends. Instead of having to add all my programmers friends to both the circles, I wish I could just drag the entire programmer circle into the tech-savvy circle.
Circles can be a lot more powerful than just groups or tags if you allow circles to contain other circles. Technically, this feature is possible (though it might not be trivial to implement). In the past Gmail did not have nested labels but now it does. So I'm pretty sure that if enough people clamor for this feature, it will be added.
If you didn't get the joke in the image, see this.
Life plansThu, 14th Jul '11, 4:10 pm::
After over three years, I went grocery shopping all by myself today. Usually Juliet does all the shopping and sometimes I tag along but she's been pretty busy with work lately. Now that she is qualified to assist in surgeries at a number of local hospitals, she leaves the house by 6.30am and gets home after a long 10-12 hour shift. I'm keeping pretty busy myself with my research and consulting work but thankfully I'm not as busy as her. So I've started to become more of a house-husband and help her out with chores.
It's finally starting to feel like normal life now. I hope to visit India next year and have my cousin Keval try out the KType app. For the next year or so, I want to work with him and others like him to improve KType and make it more accessible. Only time will tell what happens after that.
Juliet and I want to start our own family in a year or two and we'll most certainly need a bigger house. I bought my 750 sq. ft. house six years ago as a single, care-free guy and never imagined that someday I'd get married and need more space! While it's a bit early for us to buy a house, we still spend hours on Zillow each week, fawning at all the pretty houses with lots of rooms and space. We want a 2,000 sq. ft. house with half an acre of land or more but in the area we live in, large plots of land almost always come with a huge 5,000 sq. ft. house. Unless there is a big reason to move, we'd rather stay in this area because the weather is great, the people are nice, and we like the relaxed pace of life.
I know it sounds lazy but our long-term plan is to organize our life and standard of living such that we don't have to have full-time jobs. We want to travel, raise a family, and spend time with our loved ones without having to work 40-60 hours per week. That means while we can technically afford a gorgeous Mediterranean-style waterfront villa, we have to resist the urge to sign our lives away to the God of Mortgage and the Deity of Bills and instead live below our means when it comes to big-ticket items - house, cars, gadgets.
For now, our hunt for a mid-sized house surrounded by lots of evergreen trees in a large plot of land continues. Here's hoping we find it within a couple of years.
One of most interesting articles I've read in a while.
- How Digital Detectives Deciphered Stuxnet
It was January 2010 when investigators with the International Atomic Energy Agency realized something was off at the uranium enrichment plant outside Natanz in central Iran. Months earlier, someone ha...
I came across a photoshop of my old comic Calm Down!, originally designed by my friend Tony Yang:
If you ask a stranger to take a photo of you, it is the stranger and not you, who owns the copyright of the image.
This 9-minute long video taken in one continuous shot made me feel really happy: The Grand Rapids LipDub.
We went snorkeling to Egmont Key this morning and saw lots of pretty tropical fish. I bought a water-proof case for my camera last week and took it underwater for the first time today. The water was pretty rough and the visibility was quite low, so I wasn't able to take a lot of good photos but I did take a few short clips that came out nice. On the way back, we spotted a couple of dolphins, a few sharks, and a manatee from our ferry.