Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Algorithm for stress reduction - HRD Ministry

Board exams cause stress.
So, get rid of board exams.

Students run after marks.
Replace marks by grades.

But what's a grade?
People getting a score in a pre-defined range, get the same grade.
How does that reduce stress?
A single mark does not matter.
But if he/she is on the borderline, then the impact of a single mark with a grade is much worse!

Well, we still need to select candidates for further study on 'merit'.
So, let's have a common exam.

But on what?
Let's have a core curriculum which is uniform across the country.
Just like SAT.

So, we are back to a single exam - but worse.
It is the same across all India and on a well defined narrow range!

Time to open an academy. Lots of money in helping students crack SAT!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Importance of Error Messages

I was trying out Asterisk server and Sip clients. I used ekiga as a client. It would just fail to register.

I tried on Fedora and Ubuntu in a VM. Same symptoms. I was running the server and the client on the same machine.

Googling did not help. Then on Ubuntu, I installed an alternate client - Twinkle. The message now was - port 5060 already in use. It was obvious - both the Asterisk server and the client were trying to listen on 5060 and I should have known that. I used an alternate port for Twinkle and it worked.

I tried Ekiga from Fedora with Asterisk running under Ubuntu in a VM. It worked!

If only Ekiga had a little finer exception handling and gave the reason for failing to register!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

There had to be a reason!

I was surprised to find comments in Chinese on the blogs. Most of them seemed innocuous. So, I let them be. Today I noticed that there were dots after the comments and the dots were a link to an undesirable site!

I presume it was to push rankings by search sites.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Migrating to Fedora 13

I had updated to fedora 13 soon after it was released - following the update approach as I have been doing for several years now.

I downloaded and updated fedora-release-13-1.noarch.rpm

Next step -
yum -update
Well, it failed. It complained about a number of packages and suggested I try
yum -update --skip-broken
Failed again. One of the problem packages was rb_libtorrent-python.

It could not be removed as Miro depended on it. It seemed strange.

'yum update Miro' worked and installed a few more dependencies. However, Miro stopped working and the update broke a few other packages - e.g. Firefox.

I reverted back to the original state. Erased Miro and rb_libtorrent-python.

Now, I could update the system using
yum -update --skip-broken
But it cautioned me that
Skipped (dependency problems):
mutter-mbl x86_64 2.28.1_0.12-1.fc13 fedora 1.2 M
mutter-moblin x86_64 0.43.8-4.fc13 fedora 2.4 M
I decided to clean the two packages before updating. I was not using moblin now, so I erased the group 'Moblin Desktop Environment'

The above two packages did not get erased and had to be removed manually.

After that the upgrade was fairly smooth other than the unstable network I was experiencing. I had to restart update about a couple of dozen times before the downloads were completed! Over 2 GB of packages were downloaded. Sadly, delta-rpm's still play no role across fedora versions.

After moving to Fedora 13, installing Miro was a breeze. There were no issues at all. So, what was the problem with rb_libtorrent-python?

The version on f12 was 0.14.10-1 while on f13 it was lower 0.14.8-2!

Subsequently, I noticed that java-1.6.0-openjdk was higher in f12 than in f13. However, it did not cause any issue in upgrading the system. Java openjdk package for f12 was retained. Packages updated from f13 repository did not complain about the mis-match of repositories.

By contrast, one of my systems with Arch Linux is using the same or higher versions of packages as Fedora 13. The packages have been steadily updated over a period of time with minimal friction.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Education - Not Reform but Revolution

It is enjoyable to hear a talk like one by Sir Ken Robinson. On reflection, there is sadness as well. Our education system continues in its attempt to mass produce and churn out apples which look and feel the same. No wonder, as Robinson says, most people just muddle through life.

Uncle, Look Behind You

A few days ago, a two wheeler seemed to be changing lanes but suddenly slowed down instead. I had miscalculated and had to break a bit hard.

The person behind me was furious, but I ignored his honks. At the next round about he stopped on my side and was very upset with me. The gem was - "Uncle, look behind you when you drive?" Sounds even nicer in Punjabi.

Oh, well!

Fortunately, one day, the cars will be driven by computers. I have more faith in computer software.