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A Personal Ad Server

I like programming, I’m a bit embarrassed to admit. As a fifty-year old, programming is not what I am supposed to be interested in. I should be managing large teams of people and making insane amount of money. That’s the way we think in today’s hyper-competitive and overachievement-oriented world, where we are all in a race to nowhere. But, what can I say, I do like programming. In particular, I like web programming, which is even worse. I mean, any teenager with a diploma from any of those fly-by-night schools can do web site development and such. I would like to think that I do it with a difference, but who am I to judge?

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PinPoint

MySQL on Mac OSX Yosemite

If you use XAMPP for dev work on your Mac at home, and updated your OS to Yosemite, you may be temporarily distressed when you find that your MySQLd doesn’t start up. The fix is fairly simple.

Edit /Applications/XAMPP/xamppfiles/xampp. (You may have to use sudo to do this.)

Look for:

$XAMPP_ROOT/bin/mysql.server start > /dev/null &

And add unset DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH on top of it. It should look like:

unset DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH
$XAMPP_ROOT/bin/mysql.server start > /dev/null &

Restart MySQLd and you it should work.

MotherTeresa

Philanthropy of Mother Teresa and Other Spiritual Leaders

Philanthropy comes in two flavors. One is where you make a lot of money doing whatever it is that you do, and then spend a large part of it in directly helping other people. Bill Gates is a philanthropist of this kind. The second kind is where you collect money from a large number of people and put it to good use. Organizational charities do philanthropy of this kind. So do spiritual leaders, like the god men of India.

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Driving in India

I have had the pleasure of driving in many parts of the world. Being fairly observant and having a tendency to theorize about everything, I have come to form a general theory about driving habits as well.

You see, each place has a set of driving norms, a grammar or a dialect of driving, if you will. In Marseille, France, for instance, if you switch on your turn signal on a multilane street, people will immediately let you in. It’s not because they are polite and considerate drivers (quite the contrary, in fact), but a turn signal indicates the drivers’ intention to change lanes, not a request to let them. They are not seeking permission; they are merely letting you know. You’d better let them in unless you want a collision. In Geneva (Switzerland), on the other hand, the turn signal is really a request, which is usually denied.

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Accents

If you learn a new language as an adult, or if you learn it as a child from non-native speakers, you will have an accent. There is a scientifically proven reason behind this. Each language has phonemes (basic sound units) specific to it. You can discern only those phonemes that you are exposed to as a baby. By the time you are about eight months old, it is already too late for your brain to pick up new phonemes. Without the complete set of phonemes of a language, an accent, however slight, is unavoidable.

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Richard Feynman — How Much Can We Know?

We open our eyes, we see the world, we discern patterns. We theorize, formalize; we use and rationality and mathematics to understand and describe everything. How much can we really know, though?

To illustrate what I mean, let me use an analogy. I wish I had the imagination to come up with it, but it was Richard Feynman who did. He was, by the way, quirky enough to compare physics with sex.

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Indian Politics – the Last Resort

In India, they say politics is the last resort of a scoundrel. And it does seem to hold true there; Indian politicians are, by and large, corrupt crooks and bullies.

A quick Google research shows that it was Dr. Samuel Johnson who said, “Patriotism is the last resort of the scoundrel.” I guess our colonial rulers modified to suit the Indian condition. In any case, Indians staying out of politics suited the colonial rulers just fine. What is sad is that the Indian politics still attracts mostly scoundrels even after almost seventy years of independence.

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Disappearance of the Middle Class

Most people (who are likely to read this post) think of their financial station as middle class, so you might find it strange that I should say the middle class is disappearing. But the polarization in the wealth distribution of the world is very real, and it is visible at every strata of the society. I would like to convince you by anecdotes and examples before getting logical and formal about it.

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Robotic Takeover

Years ago, I read this fictional story by Marshall Brain called Manna. It talked about the robotic takeover of a fast food chain by an intelligent system.

Marshall Brain, as you may know, is the founder of HowStuffWorks.com and a well known speaker, teacher, writer etc. Although he wrote Manna as fiction, he was so certain that it was the way of our future that he actually patented the system he described (if memory serves). Of course, he was right. I just got this link from a friend about how fulfillment centers work — how do you get the same-day or next day delivery on all those mountains of things that you order from the Internet? Here is how. It is astonishing how similar this scenario is to what Marshall Brain described in Manna.

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