May 132010
 

How mad can an engineer be? It remains an unanswered question. But how crazy can an engineer be in his childhood? Analyse yourself after reading these incidents of my life.

(FYI : All the incidents in these stories are real, and any coincidence of the incidents with any other individual, is purely incidental. I reserve the rights to narrate my own stories.)

1. The very first fascination of my life, related to engineering, was electric motor. In my case, it the fan in our room, that went round and round, on a flick of a switch. I was too much interested in it.  And it had a regulator, which had to be rotated to increase or reduce the speed. I was really interested in knowing what went inside to make the fan rotate. And my interest inspired me to build up a crude theory that there was a smaller motor inside the regulator, which turned upon the rotation of the regulator knob, and it somehow made the fan to rotate.

Why I thought this, I still cant figure out. I was too small to understand the meaning of most of the words I have typed above. I never knew the word theory, or that fan, as it was called, which was actually a motor, or why a regulator was called so. But I had a desire to get the imaginary “small motor”, out of the regulator.

Once there was no one at home, and I decided to fulfill my desire. The regulator was housed in a casing which had charred of from the top, due to the heat generated in it. I inserted my tiny fingers in through the top.

It was my lucky day, as I was standing on a wooden bed and only few fingers of my hand were touching the wall. I was thrown away by the electric shock on to the mattress and escaped shaken, but without injuries. My desire for the motor vanished, and during engineering, I found it to be my weakest subject.

2. Then after a few years my maternal uncle bought a scooter. And I was very much interested in its working. By that time I had read some of the volumes of ‘Young Scientist’ in our school library. And somewhere in those volumes, was the theory of thermocouples which became a point of interest for me. Now, I knew that scooter burned petrol for its power, but I was unaware of a machine called as internal combustion engine, residing inside the scooter.

On analysing deeper, the problem at hand(how scooter works?), and the limited data I had acquired(working of thermocouples), my somewhat adult mind put two and two together. I later found out that by putting two and two together, the answer that I had got was zero. Because I had made up a theory that the petrol burnt up to give out enough heat for one electrode of the thermocouple and the other electrode was placed somewhere far at the front of the scooter to allow proper cold temperature at that point. Armed with this theory, I completed my junior years in the college, and even educated my younger brother about it.

My theory was ultimately negated by the subject IC engines in the fourth semester of engineering.

3. The third incident also involved IC engine and my brother. My brother, luckily had an appetite for all the information and explainations I conjured about anything, with even doubting once….Not so now, after so many years of foolery.

I was in the second year of engineering, the first engineer to be in my family, and after completion of the third semester, our family went to Goa for a picnic. Once while crossing a river, we used the roll-on roll-off ferry boat service, and me, the ‘to be engineer’ of the family, choose to seat near the engine room, which offered a good view of the loud, smoky, oily engine.(I had no idea, that I would go ahead and become a marine engineer. But thats how fate works.) So as I was sitting there, admiring the oily, ugly thing, my brother approached me and asked what that black noisy thing was? And I informed that it was an engine. I had read somewhere about the different types of engines like 2-stroke and 4-stroke. And upon seeing the engine structure, I immediately “recognised” it to be a 3-stroke engine.

Any mechanical or automobile engineer will laugh at me at this point. There is no such thing as a 3-stroke engine. There are just 2-stroke and 4-stroke engines, depending upon the number of power strokes for every rotation of the engine. What I had seen were the three cylinders of the boat engine, and assumed that they were 3-stroke. I even informed my brother that 3-stroke were more powerful as compared to 2-stroke, but less powerful than 4-stroke. My brother swallowed all the information and basked in the glory that his elder brother was so well informed.

My this theory was again negated by IC engines in the semester that followed immediately. As I reached home from the college home that day, the first thing I did was to tell my brother the truth. I didn’t want him to be laughed at.

He stopped believing in my theories from then on….

So, can’t you gauge how crazy an engineer can be in his childhood?

May 062010
 

Just today, me and my friend reaped one of the many benefits of having some knowledge of the internet, and bit of confidence in various schemes available on it. You might have heard of a website providing revenue generation schemes such as mginger. The modus operandi of this site is, once you register your mobile number on to it, you keep on receiving messages informing you about various schemes by different providers, and for every message you receive, you get paid.

Now the amount of money you receive for each sms is, well, peanuts. If you refer your friends, you will receive some small amount for every message your friend receive. Just to test the authenticity of the scheme, me and my friend had registered on that site last year, around this time. For a month or so we tracked the progress of our account, and finally deduced that it would take 7 lives to make the 300 rs., which are required for the payout. So we completely neglected it later on. The messages kept on coming, but we didn’t de-register since it was not harming us, and we could delete them even without reading.

Just few days back the subject of this registration crept up in our conversation, and again we logged in to check. The amount collected was 30 rs. well below the payout limit. But while navigating the site, we found and interesting tabs providing discount coupons. The catch was that for every coupon downloaded, 1 rupee was deducted from our balance on mginger, which was ok with us. On browsing the list of coupons, we struck gold. One coupon was for the online auction site tradus and on a purchace of 625 rs. and above on this site, it gave out a discount of 305 rupees.

I am a fan of tradus and hence know the various useful products available for auction or sell. We immediately downloaded one coupon each from our accounts. Then I browsed through tradus and bought an 8gb sandisk pen drive costing about 800 rs+delivery charges, and paid only rs 574. My friend bought a 3 user license of kaspersky internet security 2010, for 649 and paid only 330 something.

So in the end it seems that we did manage to get some benefit out of this internet venture. And that too without any investment. Internet does provides with some good deals if  you have patience to search. I am hoping to get few more useful coupons from mginger.

Upon googling for such more schemes today, I came across a site called mgarlic. A colleague joked that he would like to come up with a site called mAjinomoto.com.

I laughed….and registered on that site too. Who knows what I might get next year?

Apr 242010
 

Disclaimer : The contents of this writeup should not be considered as an express mandate to download contents from the internet illegally. The author does not take the guarantee of a legal or a virus free download. Piracy is illegal and warrants appropriate actions against the perpetrator of crime by the regional government.

Downloads have a very high percentage share in the internet usage today. It could be anything from ebooks to movies, music, software or virtually any digital content available on the internet. Many of the different protocols(protocol, in laymans terms, is the way computers communicate with each other on the network)being used for file transfer online are HTTP, FTP, P2P etc. Bittorrent is the latest of all this protocols using P2P technology, and has taken over the world of downloads by constituting about 43% of the downloads on the internet. But it has been hard for people to use this technology, since the way it works seems a bit complicated for many who are used to traditional downloading protocols. Lets delve deeper…

Bittorrent download operation basically consists of two sets of file download. The first file is called as the torrent file which contains all the information of the file/files to be downloaded along with the information of the tracker(or the servers which sees through the file transfer. Once the file(which usually is about few kbs) is downloaded, it has to be opened in a download client which supports bitTorrent protocol. The most popular among them is BitTorrent and utorrent. Other file sharing softwares have started incorporating bitTorrent and can be used for such downloads. Once you run the torrent file using this download client, your actual download starts.

The file being download is not hosted on any single computer. In fact, it may not be hosted on any central server at all. People like you and me can create a torrent file and share it. The important factor is the tracker, or the computer which keeps the check of the status of each torrent file on multiple computers and facilitates the file sharing between them. The downloadable files are divided into several pieces and every other piece my be download from different hosts.

To begin with the download, one may have to avails the services of a torrent indexing site like torrentz.com, or go directly to the websites hosting the torrent files(like the monova, mininova, btjunkie etc.). Once you download the required torrent file, you are good to go about using the torrent client. Note that each of the page containing the torrent file also gives the information, authenticity, quality(in case of movies) etc. about the file you are about to download. Such information is fed in by the users who have already downloaded the file, and its quite useful to check it out before downloading the file.

There are two types of computers on a bittorrent network, seeder and leechers. Seeders are those computers which either seed a new torrent(seeding means keeping a file for others to download), or which seeds the file after finishing downloading themselves. Leechers are the computers which only download a file but do not share it. Bittorrent networks have tried many possible ways to thwart the leeching attitude. One way is by keeping the record of the upload to download ratio of a particular peer(peer is the computer connected in the bittorrent network), which should ideally be 1. This means that the peer has uploaded all the contents which he has downloaded.

For the download to be fast enough, the torrent should have a large number of seeders, which will be disclosed by the sites which host the torrent files. Once you start downloading, you become one of the seeders( you have the option of reducing the seeding bitrate if you are using pay per use connection, but multiple attempts to download in this fashion can lead to a blacklisting of your IP address).The success of bittorrent depends on the number of people sharing the files.

As I said earlier, the file being downloaded is divided in to large number of packets, and different packets may be downloaded from different peers. Also, once a packet is downloaded on your computer, it is shared automatically and any peer which has not downloaded that particular packet, can upload it from your computer. This goes on continuously till the entire download is complete and you wish to stop that particular torrent. Once you stop it, your computer is no longer a seeder for that particular torrent.

All being said, I should remind you that this technology has largely been used for sharing material illegally across the internet. Any movie of software that you come across on the internet may not be a version that can be distributed freely. Also many times, viruses are spread in the disguise of genuine content. Users should take care about that.

So go ahead. Bite the torrent!!

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