The messaging wars are at its peak!

WhatsApp deviated from their no-advt policy just at the start of this month. That triggered everyone to start searching for alternatives to WhatsApp’s addiction!

Here is what I could find (and wanted to try) since then:

1/ Amity : They claim themselves to be the Interactive Messaging app, and they hail from Australia. Seems very exciting!

Here is an introductory video too:

2/Allo : This is the recently launched chatbot from Google! I think this will win the race hands-down! Their AI is very slick and you maybe even (if I say so) more human than Siri! (what am I saying?)

Although there are other non-Zuckerberg players like: Telegram,Viber,Hike,WeChat,Skype But now the segmentation has started to take its evil form in! With WhatsApp you never needed to think if the other person might or might not have the software!Kudoz to them for launching the app for Symbian S60 platform!! But ever since FB took over, just as with the deviation from no-advt policy, who knows what level of invasion might creep in! :-/ Hence my motivation to stay away from any Zuck platform!

Coming to my current phone: Jolla: Sadly only whatsapp (dislike now) and telegram seem to work via ported android apps on Sailfish OS. I wanted to try out amity app and allo on Jolla but there’s a bit of an exercise involved over there to get things working!

Further, here @RL, we had  thought of creating a messaging app ourselves couple of years ago! We thought of calling it ‘Z.(shout out to deamypixel@RL) It was build around the premise of adding a ‘Z to every greeting.

say: good morning, ‘Z says: good morningz

say hi, ‘Z says: hiz!

say bye, ‘Z says: byez!

Maybe when the right opportunity comes we will give a shot at churning this one out! Any collaborators?

Until then the search for the the whatsapp alternative is still on!

Talking to mysql on Bitnami google-cloud Tomcat instance

The Java deployment world is plagued with infra issues! Things we need to take care of:

  • Apache
  • Tomcat
  • RDBMS
  • Firewall/Ports
  • Shell accesses
  • Security/Encryption/Keys
  • File System Storage
  • Indexes corrupting and the list goes on…

So after my failed attempt to understand/decipher CORS issues on the AWS platform, I fortunately stumbled on google-cloud! And it is one hell of a bouquet of services for us petty and dev-ops-complaining Java folks!

So churn out a bitnami tomcat instance and you get the feel of the aws thing. For over a month now my google cloud app was(still is) talking to the mysql instance on aws, before that starts to drain my mini wallet, time to configure a mysql instance on google-cloud. And here are the steps:

  1. Have access to the SSH into your google cloud instance working
  2. Create following script (/home/bitnami/mysql-init):
  3.  UPDATE mysql.user SET Password=PASSWORD('NEW_PASSWORD') WHERE User='root';
     FLUSH PRIVILEGES;
    
  4. sudo /opt/bitnami/ctlscript.sh stop mysql
    
  5. sudo /opt/bitnami/mysql/bin/mysqld_safe --defaults-file=/opt/bitnami/mysql/my.cnf --pid-file=/opt/bitnami/mysql/data/mysqld.pid --init-file=/home/bitnami/mysql-init 2> /dev/null &
    
  6. sudo /opt/bitnami/ctlscript.sh restart mysql
  7. Remove the script in step 2.

So it turns out to get mysql talking on your bitnami instance you only need to reset the password.

Further to enable remote access do this in

/opt/bitnami/mysql/my.cnf:

  •  #bind-address=127.0.0.1
    

Next to enable remote mysql access via workbench you need to enable firewall ports to allow connections for tcp 3306 for a specific ip on your google cloud instance.

And there you go, you have a lot powerful config, much like aws ready to be used, backed by google!!

 

 

Sculptor’s Log

There was once a log, ready to have a meeting with the Sculptor, getting ready for the grind!
Casually it approached the scene, not knowing what is to happen to it next,
Waiting to see who/what is the Sculptor is and what can he do for it?
Seeing a couple of wasted logs around the scene, it could not resist but ask their state!
They said in chorus – “One word, Do as the sculptor says” as they were tossed out of the view.
“Ahh, What could the Sculptor ask me to do” was the only thought pacing up and down the log’s mind!

Log being chiseled!

And the moment of the log’s meeting arrived…
Placed in the hands of the Sculptor, the log could not giggle profusely!
And then.. Bam! Sculptor’s chisel tore apart a big chunk from the log.
And the log screamed to the Sculptor, “What are you doing, please stop”
The Sculptor stopped, and asked whether the this log did not have a chatter with other logs?
The log said, “They said only-to listen to you,they did not tell you’ll make me undergo this chisel”
The Sculptor looked clueless, and the log asked itself to be excused.

After some time of pondering…
The log thought of going through the process as one strike a day…
And the deal was made…
Days,Weeks,Months passed and the log took the blow daily and frowned and complained..
And then one fine day, the Sculptor said to the log, I’m done with you.
And then the sculpted-log was moved to a different place — not knowing where and for what, it cooperated!

Being sculpted

A few days later…
The log was placed at a higher platform, and then by chance it got to see itself in a mirror!
And it could not believe what it could see — A beautiful deity crossed its sight.
Not believing that was It, the log waited for another such day and then the belief was confirmed.

Outcome of fore-bearing the chiseling

The log had a good after thought..
All the suffering, the chiseling, was given to it for its shaping.
Had it complained and not gone through the grind, it might have become another wasted log…
Thanking the Sculptor, (and the wasted logs for the advice), for his efforts, it just smiled.

(This post is inspired from a story over-heard — all images are googled, no claim on ownership)

Bots – BOring Tasks Systematized!

We are surrounded and supported by a bots ecosystem. I will try to bring that into perspective to evaluate the current rate of explosion of bots and newer solutions coming around it — and how to stay human still!

Connected with the Bot Ecosystem!
  • When we wake up,with help from an external alarm clock , we are taking help of a Bot.
  • When we are parking our car and when reversing it, there is a smart system that warns us for the exact safe-distance to keep going. That’s a smarter Bot!
  • Notice the cool soap dispenser that spits soap when we put our hand under it? That’s a Bot!
  • Recall the automated vacation response you configured in your favorite email client? Well, you have guessed, that’s also a …Bot!

We have never thanked these systems for their existence, for we know they are physics concepts glued together mechanically. A Thank-You comes and goes via a heart! 🙂

Coming back to the topic, now imagine all of those Bots, fusing into a single system with a human structure!

SuperBot
Hey, I am SuperBot and can do everything that was listed above & much more!
  • What was your reaction when the last time, your car backing system told you incorrectly that you were 1 meter from an obstacle while there was a gap of roughly 5 meters!
  • When was the last time your alarm clock did not wake you up?(battery out or way too low?)
  • Isn’t it way irritating when the mechanical soap dispenser does not spit the soap, instead only throws out the air?
  • Haven’t we all misfired a wrongly configured vacation response and feeling way embarrassed and apologizing for it for all day long to colleagues and co-workers!?

As for the premise, these bots *independently* do their job perfectly. But when they break, nothing else is affected around it. Well I am yet to hear about misconstruing a vacation response due to a non working soap dispenser!(all right that’s way too much exaggeration — but we get the point!).

The fact that they are disconnected, allows us, the user of that system to fallback/switch to another means. Say the car backing system is down, well ask a passerby to help you. Your alarm clock is out, well start working on your body’s alarm clock(no excuse here!).

I will construct two hypothetical views that are actually happening in the bots eco-system and obviously I am opposed to such developments. Hence suggesting a way out, as I cannot stop these movements.

  1. Once these systems are connected, and one of its components starts acting strange(see I elevated it to a human), the whole behavior might be eccentric to say the least. If your SuperBot is out of battery, it might just get you to wake you up but might not be able to help you with and send the vacation responses.
  2. Add the internet to the mix!

    I’m out of order but controlled via the internet.

The take away from the whole story:

  1. Let us as individuals, not try to fuse all our bot dependency into a single system. It makes it highly probable to fail and although it gives us lot of convenience, but at a high cost of dependence. This whole connected thing is a convenience at the cost of our freedom.
  2. The most secure sites are still subject to theft/fraud ( I am only referring to financial losses). When a fused bot with the thinking of the whole internet is there, and one small error/condition unchecked/unnoticed will be not safe, to say the least.

As for the bots ecosystem, I would love to see

  • a centralized parking bot, letting a big relief to all humans from this petty job
  • an aerial bot that delivers newspapers

But then again, I won’t allow either of them talk to each other, A single Bot good for One Task. 🙂

Questions to ask to a VC

Incase you stumble upon a VC, here is a list of questions that can help you use their knowledge/expertise/insight for your products long term vision and validation!

1/Does your experience tell you [your-product-name] is a unique solution?

2/Do you think the idea will be accepted?(a)by people b)by investors?)

3/Are you convinced by the idea and ready to risk loosing your investment? 🙂

4/What are the areas that [your-product-name] needs to specifically work on?

5/What is the suggested milestones/checkpoints you recommend that are
important post launch/before/beyond?

6/Do you think [your-idea-name] needs investment/funding/backing?

7/Does [your-product-name] need to rush the idea to the market?

8/Is it ok to go for an [country-location-name] only launch for now?

After this form of scrutinizing is over, ask the VC to take off their hat and give feedback about your product as a normal user(if they have the capacity to be your products consumer).

Hope this is helpful to anyone reading it 🙂

Autos hold the key to the future of self driving cars!

This is part-2/epilogue to an earlier post title Why is new-style(apps based) cab booking still a mess?

In my recent bad-experience with the cab booking scenario, I decided to try out the autos on a similar route of commute! Fortunately, I can shout out to an auto-walla from my home and there is never a dearth of options thanks to the auto-wallas agreeing to go by the meter!

Time for a good detour of the main route?

What is the most weird mode of transportation you have ever been subject to?

My 7 km long most weird transport medium! [PS: I was not driving! ;-)]

While keeping a tab on the state of self driving cars, and the experiments being done, no wonder the google-car looks so much like a delhi-auto!

Delhi-auto as google-driverless-car!

And having experienced first-hand the skills of an auto driver, I am inclined to suggest,for any thinking future self driving company, if you are looking out to train your cars, reach out to the auto-wallahs!

Here are the motivations:

  1. Lowest ground distance — matching to the sef-driving car’s design.
  2. They know the best routes — Point A to Point B, you end up spending 500 bucks or 250 bucks!
  3. They know how to best absorb a speed breaker cruising @ 25 kmph and make you feel as if you’re flying!
  4. They know how to best wake you up(in case you start to feel dizzy) by bumping you in a pot hole!
  5. I have never heard/read about an auto wallah being involved in an accident( a quarrel is not an accident) — Best premise for self driving cars!

What I am suggesting is have the driverless cars minds trained by putting an Augmented Intteligence chip in an auto! First ride, they just learn what is the route all about, good roads, bad roads,bumps,breakers. In latter rides, they should pick up: speed up/slow down suggestion,collision detection, collision prevention, safe stopping etc. All this should happen in shadow mode, where in realtime the chips response and the actual response should be monitored! Once an acceptable level of confidence is arrived at, let the chip start talking about its suggestions. Once the driver starts trusting the suggestions, go auto-pilot! 🙂

Also, I doubt if the driverless cars are made to ride as a sensitive travellers? Like lets say someone cannot handle bumps as efficiently as a child can, Do these vehicles cater to this requirement?(PS: auto wallah do cater to this requirement!)

The future of driver-less cars is exciting, but the possibility of breaking it down is also very high, as someone can use a VR thingy and make the AI sensors of the car sense that an obstacle is coming and in reality there is no obstacle and eventually a future race of hacking driver less cars where you’ll come across advt like “Make the other driver-less cars around you go automatically slow”

My car makes other cars give me more way!

In closure, The roads will be way too full of cars and quarrels, we should look up! 🙂

Why is new-style(apps based) cab booking still a mess?

I assumed this new style will beat my old/traditional way of the whole cab experience, but HELL NO!

Every riders woes – Minutes before boarding a cab!
  1. Booking beforehand
    • Apps:You cannot book the app based cabs beforehand. One service allows, but only 0000 to 0700 hrs ? That’s superb customer service, Their systems maybe do not take peak hour requests!
    • My Way: Go ahead and book the cab even two weeks ahead and the cab will be right there for your need!
  2. The day of the booking
    • Apps: You forget about your last minute travels plannings, instead dedicate one human to constantly check for cab availability.
    • My Way:No problemo sire! We’ll be there and we’ll also carry your luggage from your house to the cab!
  3. At the 11th Hour of the booking
    • Apps: Hope you get through “ride now” option! And if you cancel, you are logged out of making any further bookings! Grr!
    • My Way: We will be there in exactly 10 minutes! Unfailingly!! (beat this experience!)
  4. The cab is there — where?
    • Apps: I am standing here, where are you (happens atleast 2 times) + Sir I thought booking was for 1130 hrs, you are coming after half hour, please cancel your request + Sir, you please cancel as you are not coming + Once I had this cab driver run away,with the cab, right infront of my eyes! That was so sorry look on my face!
    • My Way: The cab is visible right infront of your gallery!(Beat that! again? anyone??)
  5.  The ride begins
    • Apps: Sir, which route?. Hope you know where to go. We’ll ask someone there.(spend 15 minutes searching and asking everyone around)
    • My Way:Sit back, relax, sleep, They tell me when the spot is reached!(They use their phone for reaching the destination! -Ain’t that smart!)
  6. Post-The-Ride :: Tu Kaun?
    • Apps: me:Thank you for not abducting me and extorting money!
    • My Way: me:Thank you for taking care of my traveling woes!

Although “My Way” is 2x cost wise, but other comforts are simply not comparable! I can quote 10 more other problems with the apps. It’s still not my preferred way of traveling!

Driving dislikes me! I am interested to reach my destination with least hiccups!

I’ll post a follow-up with the state of self driving cars!

Javascript muggles don’t mess with Java’s strong type def structure!

Yes, this is going to be a rant post!

If you are in sync with the recent developments happening in/around open jdk you might have come across the JEP-286 | Local-Variable Type Inference

This JEP has been authored by none other than Brian Goetz and endorsed by Mark Reinhold himself(Yikes!).

I will straight away come to the points why I(no-one) vehematically (n:vehement) oppose this improvement!

  1. Code is read more than just written.
  2. There is max context when someone is writing an implementation for a method! All context needs to be dumped then and there. By bringing in this change, all this context will be lost for ever!
  3. This change introduces the idea of “I know its suppose to return X”, there will be no way to verify the claim, except the compiler-interpretation.
  4. Such changes belittle the language semantics! Well remember this: Milk of a lioness can be held in a gold container only else it goes sour! Java respects this semantics as of now! (Its really cool!).
  5. You can leverage power of automatic type suggestions while one is on RHS of the equation/statement, which has given a great boost to the language via lambdas. LHS *has* to be clearly defined.

Following are demo videos showing how easy and quickly one can do an alt-enter in your favorite ide and have the LHS of the assignment automagically inferred!

1/Simple example from the JEP

 

2/Complex examples using files from the same JEP

local_var_file

 

There are couple of surveys seeking public opinion on the same here are their links:

  1. Survey 1
  2. Survey 2

Finally, if you have seen Mark’s Java 9 intro speech, he starts off by talking about

1/No copy pasting a feature from any language just because its cool!

2/ Readability:

This JEP is not only killing Readability, but its not consistent across the language.!? There goes universality and compatibility into the garbage collector!

Let’s just keep evolving without giving up the things that make Java really stand strong on its feet! #DieJEP286

Brute force AI : You don’t train the robots!

Isaac Asimov established three laws for the AI world:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

While studying A.I. we never questioned the validity of the 3rd law! What is existence — for a robot? Did we ever question the existence of the refrigerator and ever wondered how it *felt* when we are away for a long holiday? How is a robot different from a refrigerator?

Automatic Doors Have Feelings?

For most of us human-kind we are yet to understand consciousness at an individual/self level, forget re-imagining it(ha ha ha ha ha!) for a mechanical thing! And now we come to the moot point of this post – Why on earth are we training the robots?

Allow me to put things in perspective:

We train things where there is scope of learning. Try to picture this: need to learn = knowing you’re lacking something + you value what you want to arrive at!

Can a robot fit into this definition?

Would you ever want to teach your refrigerator to not give ice cold water to the elderly guest coming for the evening?

Would you ever want to teach your television to turn the volume down during the wee hours of the day?

Just because the refrigerator and the television have evolved to the structure of a human body, do we start believing them as humans?

Why should a human body only evoke human feelings of caring/empathy?

As the robots evolve in physical,analytical capabilities, we as humans are bound to develop attachment to them! Its our nature to en-lifen what crosses our path!

The problem comes when the thing starts to get reciprocated and we go into the spiral!

That cannot happen!

We waste precious time thinking/exchanging human feelings with a machine trained & programmed to behave as humans! Already there are dozens of problems to be solved and addressed at the individual level and we bring an inconsequential no-op to the equation!

Bigger / Better Things to figure out?

Human-Kind put to shame at the end of the following video:

For the sake of humanity, we should not do such things! We are trying to train the robot to complete its work, inspite of the human obstructing it to complete its task? I leave the dark consequences of this dare for you to figure out! I will summon The Terminator to my help!

Call this guy now!

To summarize:

  • You don’t train a robot (You are wasting your time if youre doing this)
  • You program a robot (You do it once and forget it for-ever!)
  • You can train a human (You may come across donkeys too!)
  • You cannot program a human (Except self, tread with caution!)

Please don’t code the heart into a machine!

(Brought to you by yet another reflection/inspiration via @ideapreneur)

Learn Exactly How I Improved My Digital Security and Privacy In 2 Days

You have zero privacy anyway, Get over it! – Scott McNealy ~ 1999

What is the real fuss all about?

In real life we have privacy, well kind of, no stranger can enter our houses still? Well think again from an evil strangers perspective, there are layers of security already there that ensure our security:

Systems: Govts,Municipality,Locality,Society,House.

People: Police,Neighbours,House occupants,Passerby,You.

Q: So why is it that the digital security has caused so much trouble?
A: Each and every individual (You) & their digital account (your) is a potential target for the evil stranger!
Here’s the simple math: online world population x online accounts per person == potential virtual estate targets for the evil stranger!
Assuming that a person has a single email account atleast, the online world is as insecure as the real world, add to the mix these accounts are held by anyone from 8+ years to 60+ age with varying degrees of meaning of security in their minds!

Defining the attacks

All attacks can be broadly arranged into these 2 categories!

  1. Illegal entry (un trusted)
    These attacks are generally entrusted to be taken care by the system you are connected to! Say you go a friends place for a dinner; you would not expect to take care about your food from the dacoit running on the streets! You would trust your friends premise would take care of this already, any mischief would be assumed to be an illegal entry actually questioning the system as a whole!
  2. Pretending to be someone else (trusted)
    Its not just people, systems can now also presume our identities and hence are subject to being trusted or not! When this happens, the systems can be abused on behalf of an individual. So it is not just a stranger mis-using your credit card, but worse, a lesser-known stranger!

The Warrior Approach

Every digital identity is under attack, and like in the real world, a responsible citizen keeps their ears and eyes open, in our digital avataar, we ought to think likewise!
There is no fool-proof way to secure your digital identity except taking care of known best practices! You break the rule; you end up paying the price depending on where you committed the mistake!

  1. Choose better passwords
    a)Create/Update and change your existing account passwords from here http://passwordsgenerator.net/b)If you have a number of connected systems and too many passwords to manage, think about getting a password management system(they are not safe too!) or best keep them in an offline system with a ready access!
  2. Never trust a new system
    The least you trust a new system, its fun when it turns out to be totally trustworthy, and if not atleast you don’t end up loosing a fortune!
    Use this mantra in life too, good results recommended! 🙂
  3. Never trust a known system too much!
    Know your limits, you own your body totally, but a flu attack can happen on the best of days uninvited!
    Even your trusted disconnected home system is subject to virus attacks from the chinese-make pen-drive!
  4. You are as secure as the world around us!
    The equation of trusted<->non-trusted keeps getting updated regularly, that keeps the battle on between the evil strangers and the white hats!
  5. Question Everything!
    If you are not finding the answers, start looking for the right ones elsewhere! Don’t take anything for granted, for the but obvious, have an inquisitive mind!

Few years into the future, and these practices might not change, only the systems we interact and correlate with will keep upgrading!

Conclusion

The Question is, how do we trust

Workout Guy

from

Tiffany

Either be a paranoid like Agent J or start following the warrior approach! 🙂

PS:This was written for an opening @ THN.

ReverseLogic ~ Making Ends Meet!