The 4th semester has been more of staying at home due to illness rather than going to college. And that also meant spending more time with experiments.
However, the time at college is not unaccounted either and college felt unbearable. I was unable to understand what was being taught in class and half-slept during the lectures and practicals. I felt extremely bad about myself and felt like I was wasting time. On top of that a girl buddy’s boyfriend decided that making my life hell was his top priority because he suffers from insecurity and keeps getting into fights for all sorts of trivial things. Ahh!
Coming to the tech front, many new things have happened. My BeagleBone Black setup is ready for use and I’ve even got the board housed in an enclosure.
Very soon, I’ll be getting to active ARM development and also see if I can make interesting electronic circuits.
On the web, things have been bittersweet. On one hand, my CloudFlare account now has the option of using Railgun to speed up delivery of uncacheable content (all thanks to my webhost). On the other hand, my AdSense account got finally approved after 6 months of wait, only to get click-bombed and disabled a week later (for reasons I’m unsure about). Now, I’m just trying my luck with other ad networks to see if anything else can be done.
Right now, Rongali Bihu holidays are on. I’m here at home trying to study whatever I can for the upcoming end semester exams from 6th of May so that I don’t perform poorly. 6th of May? Oh well… birthday ruined.
The 4th semester is finally wrapping up in this manner.
I will be writing again soon. Till then, take care.
The first mid-semester exams are over. Things seemed to have settled down. At college, everything is just as any other day, with boring lectures and uneventful moments.
What really kept me motivated was constant experiments and new ideas. That’s pretty much what keeps me active even at the worst times.
I learnt a little bit of the Cisco router’s command line and am manage the network interfaces with it, by just random fiddling around when I got bored.
Then Manjaro Linux 0.8.9 was released with a huge number of bug-fixes and improved hardware support. To add to the great news was that Manjaro now officially supports KDE and 0.8.9 release has an official KDE variant. So, just because I was bored, I installed KDE desktop and the K Display Manager and got rid of XFCE, LXDM and the optional GNOME components. And guess what? KDE actually runs better than what I had expected. The system-wide proxy settings are automatically pulled from the environment variables (set with /etc/profile.d/proxy.sh script). Also, it would be worth mentioning that the BlueZ 5 bluetooth stack works flawlessly with BlueDevil in KDE. Back then, in XFCE, BlueMan had stopped detecting my laptop’s bluetooth adapter after I upgraded to BlueZ 5 from BlueZ 4. Rest of the features work fine, and I’m very satisfied.
I got myself an Arduino Mega 2560 R3 microcontroller board so that I can build circuits and DIY (do it yourself) electronics. At present, I’m learning the Arduino code.
Arduino Mega 2560 R3
I also ordered Beagleboard.org‘s Beaglebone Black as I am very curious about single-board PCs.
Beaglebone Black A6A
Right now I’m looking for a HDMI-to-DVI/VGA adapter so that I can hook up my old display to it and a externally powered USB hub to attach peripherals to the board. Hoping to get cracking and experimenting in a week or so.
My workstation, a customised HP Z420, is going to arrive soon. So I have one more reason to be excited.
Coming to blogging and WordPress, I have noticed an interesting finding. If you are a user of the WordPress HTTPS plugin, uninstall it as soon as possible. This plugin has a poorly written page filter than significantly degrades page loading performance and causes regular timeouts in the admin panel. For a month I was unable to figure out why the admin panel was working poorly on technofaq.org, until I disabled the plugin. Also, its interesting to note that trying to secure the admin panel with HTTPS and serving the site over plain HTTP can be a real pain. I’m not saying it has problems serving pages. What I am trying to say is that, if you are securely connected to the admin panel and are making a new post, any new image or media attached to the post will load from the secure site even when the site is served insecurely. This is an undesired behaviour. In my opinion, WordPress should integrate HTTPS options properly into the GUI so that we do not have to depend on tweaks and third-party plugins to secure the admin panel while serving the site as it is. For now, I stopped using HTTPS, until I find a proper fix.
Right now, I’m writing my General Proficiency report for college.
Also, Pyrokinesis, Assam Engineering College’s annual fest is on, and I might be attending it when I’m free.
So its finally time for me to lift my hands off the keyboard. I’ll be writing again soon. Take care and have fun!
I think many of you may have been wondering where I’ve been for such a long time and why I haven’t written anything. There’s a reason for that which I’ll explain later. But before that, let me tell you what I was up to.
After the new year celebrations back in my hometown, we returned to Guwahati on 8th of January. Due to the temperature difference between Digha and Guwahati, I caught cold, cough and breathing difficulties. Assam is a few degrees colder than West Bengal, and that’s obviously a no-brainer. I spent a whole week in bed, unable to move or talk properly. As if that wasn’t enough, my digestive system decided to revolt, making me unable to eat anything. There were several visits to the doctor and another week of no activity.
After the whole illness drama got over, I was too weak to go to college, so I spent my time at home perfecting my coding skills and watching movies. During this time, I got myself a MicroTik RouterBoard RB-751, because I had this sudden urge to study routers and networks. I flashed a couple of firmwares, tested various routing options and attacks in simulation. But then, I felt I wasn’t doing anything practical. So, I tried to do what I wanted to do in the last 3 years: build my own home streaming network. It was successful in the end, and felt like a dream come true. I documented the steps and made a video out of it for TechnoFAQ TV.
Here is the video:
In the meanwhile I ordered myself a Cisco Linksys X3500 ADSL2+ home gateway from eBay to replace my ageing DLink DSL-G604T. It was shipped but the courier (Blue Dart) decided to “cache” my shipment and delayed the delivery.
I began going to college, but classes were a hit or miss. Some were held and some weren’t, but being among classmates again felt wonderful.
In the beginning of February, my X3500 shipment arrived. I unboxed it and set it up, replacing the DLink and RouterBoard with a single device. It didn’t seem anything special at all, but the performance was epic. My DSL speeds were greater than 9000 Kbps, whereas the DLink would average at around 7000 Kbps. The X3500, being a dual-band N access point, performed better than both the DLink and RouterBoard combined. Now I get pretty good WiFi signal in my bedroom, the garden and toilets (heehee!) too.
One day later, Alcheringa 2014 at IIT Guwahati began. I enjoyed the Saturday and Sunday to the fullest with my friends. I won’t be describing the events here as they are widely popular and published in the newspapers.
This was followed by Saraswati Puja. I spent the whole day at college with friends, hopping from hostel to hostel. Out of compulsion, I had to have the bhog (feast) 4 times at 4 different hostels. After the whole day, I was tired of eating.
And the award for the best looking lady goes to:
Okay, that’s enough, I guess. 😛
After that classes begin at full steam and labs start.
I also managed to set up OpenVPN despite being behind a proxy and firewall and was able to route some of my home traffic via Japan just for testing. My Android devices which could not play live streams like ShoutCast before could do now. So its music, music everywhere.
Also I installed Mac on a non-Apple machine, a.k.a Hackintosh. So far, its pretty good, but the graphics drivers are not properly loaded and the video performance is poor.
Now, I’ll come to the point where I’ll tell you why I haven’t written anything in a long while. Well, for some reason, the WordPress admin panels on all my hosted blogs were timing out for some reason or the other. After a whole day of troubleshooting alongwith the webhost’s staff yielded nothing in particular about misconfiguration or heavy resource usage, I made the plunge by requesting them to backup, delete, recreate and restore my userspace. We all thought that would not make any difference, but on the contrary WordPress was running stably again and I am now able to blog.
Before I left for my hometown in December, I made sure static content on my site be delivered from Amazon S3 and CloudFront. After 2 months of testing their service, I realised it was not worth it. CloudFlare serves static content faster than CloudFront, atleast in India. So I rolled back and deleted my S3 buckets.
SOVIC is an NGO that is based in my college. This NGO runs several child welfare schemes. They requested me to build a website for them, which is now live at sovic.in.
So, this is what life has been till now.
I’m waiting for my upcoming new camcorder and a workstation so that I can make awesome videos.
After a long 1 month streak of end-semester exams, the wave seems to have finally calmed down. Its holiday time now, and I have devoted myself to learning Python with the book Learn Python the Hard Way. I’ve managed to reach chapter 26, and I have another 26 more :notbad: :D.
In the meantime, our 3rd semester CSE batch had mini-project submission. Well, that was just yesterday. I had coded a very simple PHP web interface for the GNU Compiler Collection that lets anyone test the output of their C and C++ on a web browser, nothing fancy. I and Kirtiman Mishra submitted it as a mini-project. I am working on adding more features, while my friend Akshit Tripathi is working on improving the UI. The source is now on GitHub. 🙂
Maybe, in the later half of this month we will be going to our hometown for giving our relatives a visit.
Hopefully, by the end of this month, I will be proficient in Python and Java and develop something nicer and cooler. 🙂
Finally, our mid-semester exams got over and things got pretty much back to normal. Again assignments and labs resume, making the whole schedule hectic. Nothing is pretty interesting at this moment worth saying about, except that I made new friends with people I didn’t know earlier.
Most of my time is either spent in classes, or doing homework and assignments, or helping classmates out with their stuff. Trying to stay in sync with Techno FAQ and all the latest happenings, but I’m not being able to keep up like I used to.
Also, I trying to set up Ruby on Rails on my hosting account. Truth be told, its indeed a pain in the a** on shared hosting. I have set it up already on my tablet PC and trying to learn the language. Now I am just earnestly hoping that it works on this web host too.
So this is it for the while. I’ll be writing again soon.
It has been quite a while since I have written. What was going on during this time was assignments, labs, projects and stuff that every burdened engineering student faces.
The mini-project was an extremely awkward situation though. Me and my project partner we considering making a web interface for GCC (GNU compiler collections). I have seen a lot of such projects on the web, and I wished to make something different in my version of it. So I proposed using a web terminal/console to emulate a interactive environment for running the created executable. Our guide was, however, not interested in using third party programs to enhance the project. So I had no other choice but to compile and display the output using PHP like every other guy did. I don’t know whether to punch myself on the face or to blame the education system. My partner is a beginner as he is still in the process of learning HTML, CSS, JS and PHP and it’ll take him a while to actually catch up. The funny part is that our guide insists us to focus more on writing the SRS (software requirement specifications) than doing the actual project itself. Nevertheless, I installed Apache with PHP and MySQL on my tablet PC and implemented the compiling and the output display the way our guide wanted it to be, and to be honest, it’s very boring.
In the meanwhile, my college’s Computer Centre engineers came to know about be, and now they approached my requesting help for strengthening their proxy servers to provide better performance. I came to know that they were using a version of Ubuntu that was long outdated. I first enquired about their requirements, then proceeded to install Manjaro (I was wary about installing Arch Linux as it had a chance of breaking on updates, hence Manjaro). RedHat or CentOS wasn’t actually going to solve the problem as the packages in their repo was so old and unsuitable for their requirements. Within 30 minutes, I finished installing. Then set up a Squid proxy with 2GB disk caching and 512 MB RAM caching. A couple of tests showed it was loading things faster than their already running Ubuntu proxy server. The only thing remains is setting up user authentication, and after that I expect it to be ready for use.
Coming to the personal front, I bought myself a Reliance 3G SIM as Airtel was disappointing me. Then dad gave me a Huawei E355 mobile WiFi smart dongle which is giving me pretty satisfactory download speeds as of now, about 3-5 Mbps. I even wrote an unboxing review and article on it. My old laptop from 2001 is repaired and ready for use, and I’ll be reviving it soon with a good Linux distribution. Right now, I feel ill and have a dry cough and a bad headache, but forced to use the PC to write C code for college assignments (*insert education system rant here*).
Techniche 2013 is going on at IIT Guwahati, and I’ve seen lots of events yesterday, which includes Robotics (like Robocalypse, Robofest, etc.), the exhibitions (Indian Army, National Disaster Rescue Forces, North-east Frontier Railway) and a canine show (where sniffer dogs display tricks). Today I might go and watch the RC airshow, irrespective of how badly my body is aching right now. I’m not interested in attaching any pictures here because the news agencies document the whole event so well, but one thing that interested me was this:
You can see that is a battery powered rotocopter that can take images while flying in the air, it has 4 fans and no counter rotors or wings. Two fans spin in one direction and two the other way and the pressure difference it creates makes it move towards the direction it files. Its controlled by a 2.4 GHz wireless controller/remote.
Well I guess that’s pretty much of what’s going on right now. The mid-semester exams are near, starting on 9th of September. I just hope they stop throwing assignments at us, because I want to study for the exams with no extra workload. But then, who listens to us?
College has reopened. Now I’m in my third semester. Things have got rough from now on.
I didn’t quite expect so much workload right at the beginning of the session. The advanced computing assignment required us to write 30 programs in C. To add to the misery, I had friends calling me up on the phone asking me to explain how to write the code. Want to hear something worse? Some even tried to compile some of my codes on Turbo C++ when they were actually meant for GCC. Call it laziness or reluctance to install Linux on their part, I had to find ways to rewrite some of the code. So much for a home assignment.
Adding to my woes is the mini-project. That leaves no time for self-study, group activities and hobbies.
I did make a new friends with people who study now in my classroom. But I still miss my friends who are in Electrical Department. I hardly get to see them.
I tried to complete my work for today and then tried to write a post about my holiday in detail. But to my horror, my site wasn’t loading. My web host notified me that their datacenter provider SingleHop was going through a major outage in their Chicago base. So the server was unreachable ever since morning. It only seems to be back now. I was also planning to test my code for mini project on the server, but no.
Bored, I idled. Then me and a friend set up a torrent seedbox, then another friend asked for assistance with his blog. The server wasn’t back up until 5 PM.
I got off the computer. Studied discrete mathematics for a while. Then went out for grocery shopping. Right now I am sitting on a bench and typing this out on WordPress for Android (a handy app it is, indeed!).
Tomorrow begins another tiring week, another Monday.
Time flies swifter then you can imagine. The Techno FAQ website and the forums are finally ready as expected.
Then came the second semester exams at college, with two months of gruelling theory and practical exams. And as luck would have it, IIT-JEE advanced exams also came in between.
The college exams went fair. But I fared poorly in JEE advanced. So no IIT for me this year too. Funnily enough, I got NIT Silchar again this year in JEE mains (formerly AIEEE). My parents are in two minds, whether to send me to study there or whether to continue studying in AEC. I personally don’t feel like going, as I am not really interested about wasting another year for nothing.
Only time will tell what my parents finally decide.
Coming back to the topic, after exams, there was a one-and-a-half month long vacation. We all went to our hometown in West Bengal to spend time with family and get refreshed. My upcoming post will be about our trip in full detail.
Today, I renovated my blog with a new theme called Liquorice. Its beautiful. I rearranged the pages and posts of the blog to make it look like a personal diary. From now on, I will be writing on serious topics and life stories and try my best to be a better writer.
On the techie side: I changed my Linux distro on my tablet PC to Manjaro. I wrote about it too at Techno FAQ blog. The computer is running faster than ever, and management is easier from what I have noticed so far. Soon I’ll be getting my new camcorder and a workstation so that I am able to edit videos properly. The workstation will also be no doubt handy for experiments. I’ve also sent my old laptop (bought in 2001) for dust cleaning, and have plans of reviving it with Crunchbang Linux.
Life has been like this so far. I’ll be writing my next post very soon.
So finally the boards result and results of various competitive exams were out. I got opportunities to study in three places, namely, NIT Silchar, Assam Engineering College in Guwahati and Institute of Engineering and Management in Kolkata.
For a while dad was confused about what to do as I did not have my permanent resident certificate for Assam state. Then rounds for WBJEE got stuck. That meant I was forced to leave for NITS.
On the final few days before Assam CEE counselling, dad managed to get my PRC. So getting admission in AEC was a moonwalk cakewalk. 😀
Then choices remained were NITS and IEM. Mom was really fixed on her decision to put me in an NIT. So IEM was dumped and we all went to Silchar.
On reaching NIT Silchar, we had a long discussion and debate on whether to join or not. Finally, it did come to light that if I stayed there, I wouldn’t be able to study for the upcoming JEEs. Add to that, 3 students in each hostel room and travel facilities to Silchar are extremely limited. Getting airline seats is a lottery. And road and rail transport can be erratic because of landslides.
Putting all those into consideration, I decided to abandon Silchar. I’m back in Guwahati. Classes in AEC will be starting on 4 November. Also, I’m continuing my IIT JEE coaching at Concept Educations, Maligaon, Guwahati.
So its like that.
Apart from that, me and a couple of my friends are working on the Techno FAQ blog. It will soon be released at http://technofaq.us.to/ . We are working on the theme and Facebook integration and hope to be fully functional soon along with the page and the group. The great news is that the Facebook group is reaching 4000 members soon, and time for celebration is not far away. You can speed it up by joining here.