Computer Science Association, BITS Pilani

December 21, 2011

Alumni Research Talks – II

Filed under: Campus,Events,Geeky — csa2010 @ 7:16 am
The last blog post had pretty much introduced Alumni Research Talks to everyone. The speakers for the event and their topics of discussion have been finalised. We thus have a whole range of really hot research topics for the event with some highly prolific BITSian alumni throwing light on each of them this January.
We have Abhishek, who did his final semester thesis from Chennai Mathematical Institute, who would be giving a talk in ART describing certain aspects of Coding theory. His talk will focus on  encoding and decoding schemes in the context of non-binary cyclic error-correcting (Reed-Solomon) codes which finds applications as varied as compact disc players and deep-space exploration.

Natthu, another talented 2010 BITSian graduate, is currently doing his masters from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He will be uncovering topics like Virtualization, with a special emphasis on Virtual Machine Managers (Hypervisors).

Prasanta will be here to provide insight into ICTD (Information and Communications Technology for/and Development), which is an initiative for designing low cost solutions for our emerging communities. He did his Masters in Software Systems from Pilani, and is currently working as a software engineer at ebay.

Rizwan, yet another prolific 2010 alumnus,  who is currently taking his Masters at IIT-K, will be here this January to describe some techniques to analyse randomised algorithms, and to discuss some of its applications in various domains. He will also be discussing the use and scope of CS in quantitative finance.

The co-founder of TheFind Inc (a shopping search based startup with more than 17 million unique online hits every month), Shashikant boasts of a masters degree at Stanford University amongst many other things. As his profile suggests, he will discussing certain aspects and hairy intricacies of owning a technical startup, with a particular emphasis on people having a CS background.

Srikrishna is currently undergoing his Ph.D at University of Wisconsin-Madison. He will be helping us remove that familiar fog of doubt amongst us BITSians regarding taking Ph.D/MS for higher studies.

Swapnil is doing his masters at UIUC. This January, he will be throwing some all-important light on the potential of Supercomputers, its power requirements, its construction, speed and applications.

Finally, we have Vineet, a 2011 alumnus currently working with the Advanced Technology Group at NetApp, India. He will visit his Alma mater during ART to discuss the potential, advantages and disadvantages of Flash Memory over conventional storage devices, and different research aspects pertaining to it.

We look forward to seeing all our decorated seniors around, and we hope their endeavour maneuvers the largely clueless BITSians to the right paths to research.

Complete profiles of the speakers can be viewed at http://art.bits-csa.org/speakers.php
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December 23, 2010

Google goes nuts? Presenting the Body Browser

Filed under: Body Browser,Geeky,Google — csa2010 @ 8:17 am

One would associate an uber-cool firm like Google with innovations and ground breaking products in all fields computer-y and internet-y and geeky. True, this new one is all that, yet a lot more.

Google Body Browser

Presenting the Body Browser. Google’s entry into the world of biology with a mind-blowing twist. The Body Browser is all that a medicine and physiology student would need to master the intricacies of the human body. Powered by webGL plugin-less 3D technology, it simulates the human body like never before. You can zoom in, zoom out, go through the various systems and explore blood vessels and tissues from a level never imagined before. Excruciating details, and awesome 3D effects make it brilliantly engaging to say the least. You can even make muscle tissues transparent to allow better study of underlying parts. The images are based on the data from the Zygote Media Group, and 3D rendering right into your web browser is made possible owing to WebGL.

Of course you’d need a web browser that supports WebGL, which is a drawback for the time being. As of now you can use Beta versions of Google Chrome 8 or Mozilla Firefox 4, but more and more browsers will start supporting WebGL with time.

You can check the Google Body Browser in action here (using one of the aforementioned web browsers) here at  http://bodybrowser.googlelabs.com/

To wrap it up, another path-breaking product from Google. Way to go.

February 23, 2010

BUZZ Off.. !!

Filed under: Geeky — csa2010 @ 4:53 pm

Google Buzz is the newest kid in the flourishing town of social networking. For those who don’t know, Google Buzz is a social networking and messaging tool from Google, designed to integrate into the company’s web-based email program, Gmail. Users can share links, photos, videos, status messages and comments organized in conversations and visible in the user’s inbox.

But this venture of one of the world’s most appreciated innovator seems to have backfired. Many Google users are not as impressed by Buzz as expected. Buzz was certainly a good combination of Twitter and Gmail right in you inbox. Though many things about Buzz were quite cool and impressive, it failed to strike the right cord for many.

One of the primary reasons why Buzz has seen some detest from the users is Buzz forces its way into your mailing system. A Gmail user is left with little choice but to accept Google Buzz. So even though you may skip noticing  it a few times, finally you may say ‘what the heck’ and accept it anyway. Another eccentric drawback is that Google has defiantly interfered with the user’s personal privacy. When you agree to take Google Buzz in your life, remember one thing, you automatically follow some of them (without your knowledge) and they will follow you automatically as well. So in case, you do not want them to follow you, you have to go to each contact and put an ‘uncheck mark’ against them one by one. When you send a message on Google Buzz, you have an option to keep as public or private. But if someone replies or comments on it, your followers can see it. Google has quite a clean image on the web, but such tactics can very well tarnish it out.

A recent New York Times article stated that “Google is known for releasing new products before they are fully ready and then improving them over time.” Google has twice tried to address privacy concerns: first by making the option to disable public sharing of contact lists more prominent and later by changing one of Buzz’s features from “auto-follow” to “auto-suggest”. This allows users to choose whom they follow, and, therefore, who is revealed on their public list of contacts; the list is still public by default. These changes to the way that Google Buzz operates have, however, been criticized as inadequate and the company has been criticized for failing to take its users’ privacy concerns seriously.

Buzz has received a cold reception at the hands of the media as well as the general public. And the matter of fact is that there is nothing new and original in Buzz. PCWorld’s JR Raphael criticized Buzz for both its intrusive nature and privacy concerns, citing above all that it merely adds “more noise into an already buzzing area of my life”.

If you are a user who has no use for Google Buzz, login to your Gmail account and scroll down to the bottom of the page. In the footer links you will see a link which says “turn off buzz”. Just click on that link and Google Buzz will disappear from your Gmail account forever. If you want to turn on Google Buzz again(Why would you??), scroll down to the bottom and click on the “turn on buzz” link. But Google should quickly strip Gmail of this feature themselves rather than make the users do it. We just hope that Google soon realizes that even the best can make mistakes. After all, it is their ability to rectify and learn from these follies which sets them all apart.

November 13, 2009

IF I by Demetri Martin

Remember the Amphitheater meet? To really understand CSA one has to look beyond the managerial aspects of it and delve into its technical as well as social depths.

Friday the 13th, a get-together of the association with Demetri Martin‘s award-winning ‘If I’ video to be aired as a starter followed by the semester review meeting. There was a decent audience that gathered despite the chilly night and the sudden illness that many of them (inside and outside the association) took to.

The introduction ‘nubes‘ receive for Demetri is thus:

  • he composes everything on his own for his show: the music, the art and the witty lines of course;
  • his jokes are not just funny but they are thought-provoking;

The show takes us through different phases of Demetri’s life by exploring the dictionary meanings of the word ‘IF‘ and using it to explain some why he did the things he did. Here are the hidden thoughts that should get you searching You Tube for the videos (the links can be found below).

  1. Trying/Doing things that you really like: Does solving the cube interest you more than studying for a mid-term test, go ahead!
  2. Achieving technical competency in areas where you think you are good: Good at social media? When a social media activist asks you to talk about it for five minutes on the topic are you up to it?
  3. Keeping your mind strong through self-imposed hurdles: Does waving at the girl-next-door scare you? Do at least one thing everyday that makes you feel scared/insecure.

Trust me, you’ll find your niche in the one hour you spend on it. The entire video is in 6 parts of nine minutes each:

55minutes of watching and 5 minutes of reflection (maybe a blog post?) should make your day! Hope you have all the fun in the world, provided IF you have access to youtube… 😛

November 5, 2009

Newsletter: BYTE

Filed under: Geeky,Papers — csa2010 @ 5:16 am
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

As an association we would be incomplete without regular (or irregular) newsletters talking about:

  • the changing face of technology
  • what are the must know things for students (from our point of view)
  • what Computer Science Association (CSA) is upto

We’ve decided to roll out a newsletter titled BYTE that is going to give you a ‘bite’ into the latest news from both on-campus and off it.

BYTE 0: Introduction newsletter of Computer Science Association (CSA)

First Yearites Orientation

Dualites Orientation

This was a welcome message to first year and dual Computer Science students about what CSA is and what it is planning. Click the above links to view.

First newsletter of Computer Science Association (CSA)

BYTE 1

  • The theme for this newsletter: Sports! (owing to BOSM 2009).
  • A special thanks to Jim Burgesse who has been kind enough to grant us permission to use his Comic Strips to engage people in both the issues.
  • An important highlight is that this is the first time that CSA newsletters are going online!
  • IBM Technology Day 2009 at BITS Pilani has been covered and a further insight into Supercomputing has been provided.
  • The BYTEsian of the issue is Mr. Uday Kovur who has written the review for Football Manager 2009, which was easily one of the fast catching up games during August-September (among the BITSians)

Watch out for the next issue of BYTE. Till then

Happy BYTEing

October 29, 2009

Using GMail better

Filed under: Geeky — Shyam Sunder @ 8:29 am

GMail has become one of the most extensively used e-mail programs both for general as well as enterprise use. The most exciting aspect of it being that it offers all its great features for free! As college students we would have started creating GMail ID’s for the purposes of:

chatting with one’s family
staying in touch with old friends or
simply for the sake of opening new social networking accounts

But many of us would have overlooked some features that are present in the inbox page of GMail which make our life more comfortable. So here are seven tips that should make using GMail an enjoyable experience:

  1. Leave your inbox as less cluttered as possible
  2. Tasks and Calender
  3. Use Google Docs
  4. Surf the best articles using Google Reader
  5. Multiple Accounts
  6. Documentation
  7. Use GMail Theme

The above points have been expanded below with illustrations. This would definitely get you exploring various other things in GMail for yourself (which is thoroughly enjoyable).

1) Leave your inbox as less cluttered as possible: Use multiple inboxes? Honestly, there is nothing more disgusting to look at! Instead use labels and filters extensively. How? Read on

  • Suppose you are a part of a Google Group which sends you a lot of e-mails every day then apply a filter on it. The option is available in the “show details” part of the mail header: filter messages like these. Just click on it. The best sequence of actions that can be taken for further mails is: i) skip the inbox ii) apply label iii) apply to already existing conversations.
  • The down arrow on the labels (in the labels section on the LHS of your inbox) is to customize the label colors. Choose your pick since that will help to distinguish between different labels in case you are using many.
  • Labels and filters can be especially helpful if you subscribe to mailing lists: dictionary.com, FORBES India, etc. You can put a filter and apply a label so that you can check out the mails when you have time.

2) Tasks and Calender:

  • Need to arrange a meeting with someone? Or have to remember test dates? There is nothing more useful than a calender. It is more like the calender we would have used during our school days for marking exam dates and assignment submissions.
  • Just mark all the dates and important things to remember and click on print. A new window will open which will let you save the calender as in PDF format that you can refer to time and again!
  • Tasks are another light-weighted useful feature which you can use as easily as you would use a To-do list in a mobile phone. And what’s more all your tasks appear on the calender as well so you would have no excuse to miss out on anything.
  • Once you set up an alarm you would receive a mail telling you that a particular task is due.

3) Use Google Docs: These have come under severe criticism from time-to-time; but honestly what is the best way to

  • share a document with multiple users
  • create a questionnaire and maintain the entered information
  • quickly be able to get multiple users to work on a sales presentation at the same time

No prizes for guessing: Google Docs it is!

4) Surf the best articles using Google Reader: It is the best alternative to

  • subscribing to mailing lists or
  • visiting a blog/website to check for updates or
  • sending links of articles you like to family and friends through GTalk or mail

Google Reader lets you get information from various websites simply by adding feeds (Atom and RSS) and what is more you can decide who to share it with and in return also read shared items from their list. It is increasingly becoming similar to Twitter nowadays with strikingly familiar phrases like:

  • ‘follow more people’,
  • ’21 people are following you’,
  • ‘like this item’, etc

5) Multiple Accounts: The tip is to bring everything to GMail. You have more than one account? Get all the mail delivered to an account you prefer to use. It cuts down your job of looking at multiple email ID’s. You can also send mail from that particular account. This is a must do if you use too many accounts and can’t keep track of which to use when! 😀

6) Documentation: Part of a college association that stresses on the need for formal documentation? Now it so happens that documentation work comes right at the end of the semester where you would rather find yourself studying than compiling what you have done in the year. You can make your life much simpler by simply going to the mails/chats which you used to communicate details or plan out work and click on “print”. This will open up a new tab consisting of all the conversations and they can be used as a reference; especially useful for internal documentation.

  • You can save the page as PDF using MS One Note or Adobe PDF
  • This bookmarklet is a useful tool for converting webpage to PDF but doesn’t seem to work well with GMail so prefer the above.

7) Use GMail Themes

  • There are a lot of themes to try from and they are visually more pleasing when you compare to the disastrous Orkut themes.
  • It will let you approach GMail in a different way each time 🙂

If you are already  at ease with using various facets about GMail or if you are beginning to discover GMail, please write about it and drop the link in the comments. Either way, we would love to hear from you. Happy mailing!