Sunday, October 25, 2015

Real-time video streaming from war zones using miniature drones can help to counter America's carefully controlled and falsified reporting of its wars

US doesn't allow independent reporting from the war zone in any of the wars it wages. The world gets to hear and see only the incomplete, distorted, controlled, falsified, abridged, misleading, self-serving and altered version of events that actually take place, to suit America's military-industrial complex and its foreign policy objectives. For example, the drizzle of reports about America's use of napalm and depleted uranium radioactive bombs in Iraq is most likely just the tip of the iceberg, and the world may never get to know the complete truth because America never allowed the truth to be recorded and reported. And this helps America to an astonishing extent because whenever allegations are made against America, America asks for evidence, knowing fully well that there wouldn't be any!

And the same story can be applied to all other wars waged by America - in Libya, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Vietnam, and elsewhere.

Can we reveal to the world the true extent of the atrocities and barbarism conducted routinely, systematically and prolifically by the United States on other nations' peoples as a part of its official policy? Yes we can. Miniature sized camera-laden drones can be covertly deployed to the battlefields where America is waging its illegal and repulsive wars, in order to record and transmit video - in real-time - and thus reveal to the world the true extent of its genocide on innocents, bypassing the current controlled flow of information.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

An illogical obsession with introducing touch-based controls everywhere

When should mechanical/physical controls be eschewed in favor of touch-based controls? When:
  • You want to change the functions, layout, number, size, etc., of the control buttons [like in smartphones].
  • When you want to protect the controls from dust, water, etc.
  • When you want to eliminate/reduce the effort to push the mechanical/physical buttons.
Some automobile manufacturers [e.g., Honda] have introduced touch-based controls in some cars [e.g., Honda in City]. I think this is a ridiculous and backward step. Why? Because:
  • The functions of these touch-based buttons remain fixed. They don't need to be changed.
  • There's no extra need to protect the controls from dust/water.
  • There's no compelling need to reduce physical effort to push physical buttons.
  • A user must look at the touch based buttons in order to operate them [to correctly place his fingertip on the correct button], unlike physical buttons/controls that can be operated quickly and correctly without requiring us to look directly at them.
  • Many times, touch-based controls accidentally get pressed, leading to undesired and unintended operations. Over time, a user subconsciously starts being extra careful, creating unnecessary extra mental load.
  • There's a certain kind of live feedback we get when we're, for example, rotating a knob to set the fan speed to the correct level. This feedback is quite satisfying and helps us to stop at precisely the most satisfactory point. This feedback is completely missing from touch-based controls.
  • In a physical rotating knob, you can continuously vary the level of the setting that the knob controls, and feel/hear the changes in real-time, and stop at exactly the level that you deem fit. However, in a touch-based system, you need to repeatedly touch the button to move the setting in one direction, and in order to move it in another direction, you need to move to a second button and repeatedly touch it. This setup is far more cumbersome compared to a physical rotating knob where you neither need to repeatedly touch nor you need to shift between up and down buttons.
In summary, car manufacturers and other companies shouldn't mindlessly employ touch without giving thought to its need and usefulness according to circumstances. Touch should be employed where it's going to be genuinely useful.

Update [12-Aug-19]: I'm most happy to see that more and more people are recognizing that touchscreen-based controls are a menace in specific places [like cars], and that some people are also specifically pointing to the fact that you need to look at a touchscreen-based control in order to use or manipulate it, whereas in case of a physical control, manipulation is possible without having to look at it. My thinking was right!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Clothing is, in many ways, similar to civil engineering

When I looked at the below French Connection [FCUK] shirt today, I felt and realized that the business of manufacturing clothing - such as shirts - and the clothing products themselves bear similarities, in more than one ways, to the civil engineering discipline.

Here's how:
  • Both entail the choice of correct materials, with properties such as the right strength, flexibility, etc.
  • In both, the concept of finish applies [in clothes, it means how cleanly and properly has the stitching being done, etc., while in civil it means the same for construction finish.
  • In both, the concept of design applies, albeit with a bit of philosophical difference. While design in the context of clothing refers primarily to the look of the product [and a bit less crucially to aspects such as "proper" covering of the body], in the case of civil, design refers to both the structural specifications/strength and to the look of the structure.
  • In both, joint/stitch applies. In civil, this means securely joining the various sub-structures, while in clothing it refers to properly stitching the various parts of the cloth.
  • Fit applies in both too. For clothing this crucial aspect refers to something properly and smartly fitting the designated customer segment, while in the case of civil the term capacity is somewhat analogous.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Mankind's fixation with numbers that are multiples of ten is irrational

"The United Nations will be celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2015. That event must be grasped as an opportunity to advance the idea." [source]

Mankind has a certain fixation with multiples of 10 [and 5]. We celebrate 10th, 20th, etc., anniversaries more than, say, the 4th or the 17th anniversary. This is not rational. Just because a number happens to be the multiple of 10 doesn't make it any extra special or significant or meaningful. 10 itself is just a number like every other number. Just because the number of digits increases at 10 doesn't mean that it is any extra wise or logical or useful to celebrate the 10th anniversary of something more than celebrating, say, the 8th anniversary. Similarly, it isn't any extra wise or helpful to plot and analyze the profitability of a firm over a 10 or 15 year period, than it is to perform the same activity over, say, 12 or 17 years [or 12 or 16 years, to avoid suggesting a "clean" interval of 5 years].

There's nothing any extra significant about the 70th anniversary of the UN than it is about the 69th anniversary.

We must also remember that it is only because we use the decimal number system that we encounter addition of digits at multiples of 10, 100, etc. Also, it's only because of this base-10 system that we get this clean look with all zeroes often - 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, etc. Had we been using a base-7 or a base-16 number system, our "special" numbers would've been completely different [for example, what is 16 in our base-10 number system would've been equivalent to our 10 in a base-16 number system], implying that considering 10 to be any extra special is a mistake and not rational.

Update [11-Nov-15]: Leahy's statement that "year-end is essentially an arbitrary point" is just another way of looking at the above thought.

Update [11-Sep-16]: Similarly, the "great" 700 score barrier for GMAT is rather arbitrary. Why did this so-called "important threshold" have to be a multiple of 100? Why wasn't it 690 or 710? This is because we're just obsessed with thinking/working in terms of "easy" numbers that are multiples of 10, 100, and so on, rather than working with exact and genuinely critical/useful values which will most likely be "weird" numbers.

Similarly, the claim that 150 hours worth of preparation is ideal for GMAT is another example of our fixation with clean, simple numbers that are multiples of 5/10/20/50/100. Suppose the actual, optimal number of hours is 136, then it means that we're unnecessarily making folks waste 14 hours because we're trying to dish out a simple number.

Similarly, the claim that chewing food 32 times results in complete/proper digestion seems fake, because why would the right number of chews have to be 32, the number of teeth in an adult human? It just seems like someone picked the number of teeth and assigned the same "easy" and "related" number as the optimum number of chews. Easy doesn't necessarily mean the best or optimal.

Update [17-Oct-16]: Vehicle manufacturers ask you to get the vehicle serviced at 5,000 or 10,000 km [VW asks at 15,000]. Why did these numbers have to be multiples of 5,000? Couldn't these have been "weird" looking numbers like 6,000, or 9,000, or 13,000?

Update [24-Mar-17]: Why are estimates about number of stars or galaxies expressed in terms of powers of 10? Why aren't these expressed as powers of 2, 3, 5, 7 or 8? Is the number 10 something special compared to other numbers? Is it "simpler"? Does expressing as powers of some other number make the estimate less accurate [the reverse could actually be true]?

Update [4-Aug-18]: Every little man is having a collective orgasm now that Apple has become the first "1 trillion dollar" company [actually it was PetroChina, but let's leave that for now]. So what, I ask? Has it become "1 trillion euro" or "1 trillion pound" company? And if it does that one day, will that be a reason for another collective orgasm(s)? What's the significance of touching the undoubtedly clean-looking number 1,000,000,000,000 on the US dollar line? Was Apple's success any less when this figure was, say, 999,999,998,557? Ordinary men have this fixation with so-called "special" numbers. Apple had already achieved what is being celebrated now when it had touched the 999,999,998,557 number. And why is this particular number more important on the USD line, but not so relevant on EUR or GBP or CNY lines? Who decides what number is more important than the other, and why?