Archive | October 2012



We live in a world where the need of Internet is felt on a daily basis.

NEARLY almost everything is done through it. Emphasis on ‘NEARLY’

That is because, while the use of web browsers have drastically changed over the years, doing heavy computing work e.g. photo-editing, gaming (not the FLASH kind) etc. is still requires one to leave the browsers and use a computer application.

This is not to say that web browsers are under-developed. From what I have read, a lot of investment has been done on improving the engine and speed. Yet, the ‘native applications’ have a upper hand in two aspects –

  1. They come with some form of vector extension that allows multiple operations simultaneously.
  2. Presence of multi-core processors.

Web browsers loose on both fronts as JavaScript, rightfully called the language behind the net, till now did not allow access to multi-core or vector instructions.

This is leading for top tech companies like Google to TRY replacing it with Dart. It’s time for Intel to upgrade JavaScript.

And it has – Enter River Trail, an open source parallel extension to JavaScript, which is currently being worked on in Intel labs. In simple words it does what exactly was lacking in web browsers – brings the processing power of Intel’s multi-core CPUs and their web extension to the web browsers.

This will make it possible to stay on the browser for heaving computing work from photo-editing to perhaps 3D gaming.

Now for understanding the ‘techie stuff’ behind the working of River Trail. This new open source code is made to feel as natural extension to JavaScript with just a simple ‘data-parallel modeling program’.

This is really the key – Parallel implementation is everything. It is WAY better than serial implementation. Think of it like electric circuit where parallel arrangement of batteries always gives more output.

The other cool top ups are –

  1. It works with upcoming HTML 5
  2. It uses OpenCL as an intermediate language (so can work on any hardware and not just Intel)
  3. It plays with WebGL (which brings 3D visualizations on web browsers)

And for the cautious or paranoid users – Don’t worry about the safety as River Trail was designed to inherit the security traits of JavaScript.

What does this mean in the future? Well, it definitely would not make ‘native applications’ obsolete but a complete new way of using browsers.

River Trail is already available on Firefox as an add-on. Let’s use it and see!

Read about it first on –


Further reads –


‘Context is all’ (Margaret Atwood). Does this mean that there is no such thing as truth?

“Never … ask for the meaning of a word in isolation, but only in the context of a proposition” -Frege

If I ask for the opposite of ‘light’, the first question that I will be asked is in which context do I want to know the opposite of light – whether it is in the context of weight I am talking about (in which case it would be heavy) or in context of shade (in which case it would be ‘dark’). The problem with trying to understand an issue is that one should know in what context it needs to be seen in. The question arises: Had I not mentioned the meaning of light in the context I was talking about, I would have perhaps been told that the opposite of light as what the listener may think of light at that time. So would that be the right answer? We cannot say because in a way both can be the ‘right’ answers. Context in a sense give a scope or a criteria, in which a particular knowledge can be assessed. If we did not know the context, we can not be sure to what extent the particular knowledge we have is right or true.

Now before I say the statement ‘the opposite of light is heavy’ or ‘the opposite of light is dark’ is true, let us explore what do we mean by truth. To me, something is true only if it exists – as in it is there in this world materially or abstractly. But, just to see the meaning in different context, let us see the meaning of truth in different dictionaries. Truth according to Webster Dictionary is ‘a judgement, proposition or an idea that is true or accepted as true’. Truth according to is ‘conformity with fact or reality’. Truth, as per Oxford dictionary is ‘a verified or indisputable fact’. Isn’t it ironic that the word that is associated with reality or surety has an enigmatic meaning itself?

Now, let us pause for a moment and think about this paradox: why is ‘truth’ even in definition so varied? Are there different truths for different things? The problem with defining ‘truth’ is that there are various ways which it can be interpreted in. Through centuries, philosophers and scholars have come up with numerous theories on ‘what‐truth is’. Each of the theories offer logical explanations and can present perspectives which are widely accepted to be applied to a broad set of occurrences that is observed in world.

One of the most eminent theories is the Correspondence theory, which states that ‘something is only true if it corresponds to a fact or an axiom(1). So statement ‘grass is green’ is true because grass is green in real word. The Coherence theory, on the other hand, states that ‘a proposition is only true if it fits in with the overall set of evidences or beliefs(2). There is no reason to believe that the Americans did not land on the moon because there is enough evidence given by NASA to show why it cannot be just a ‘conspiracy buff’. Another theory of truth, the Pragmatic theory, measures ‘truth’ in terms of usefulness and relevance in practical life. So accordingly, floating of a ship on water mean that Archimedes’ principle, on which principle of flotation is based, is true.

Though each of the theories seems to capture a fragment of ‘truth’ itself, personally I feel, none seem to do complete justice in explaining the nature of truth. As a believer in Correspondence theory, I might justify this theory with a statement like ‘the capital of Bulgaria is Sofia is true because it is a fact’. But what would I say to a statement like ‘There is no life in outer space’ which is not yet been proven as fact? Can it not be true? Coherence theory also fails to give sufficient conditions to distinguish between a truth and a lie. We know in case of many judicial trials, the Jury or The Judge could not unearth the “Truth”, because of their sole reliance on the presented evidence only, which may have been supporting the side which was untrue. Furthermore, Pragmatic theory ignores a lot of knowledge that may not be important in some context. Will a Pragmatist be right in saying that “Madonna’s last name is Louise Ciccone” is not true just because it is trivial information to him in his daily life? Thus we see that each theory differs from the other theory on the basis of context.

Then is it enough to say that “Truth” depends on the context only? To an extent, it does make sense for us to be arriving at such a conclusion, but we cannot yet say truth is always contextual. My baby cousin may think at the moment that tooth fairies exist while I have grown out of it. However, it is absurd to say that they exist for my cousin but not for me. Regardless of what is said or believed, tooth fairies do not exist – a fact, which cannot be manipulated by any context. So, certain truth can exist without context. Furthermore, the statement ‘context is all’ is self-contradictory because if it is true then there is one statement (Context is all) that remains true regardless of the context.

Looking through context may at times lead to a disagreement or a dispute between people with different perspectives about the same subject. But that does not mean there is no truth in either perspective. A statement as ‘Got‐the‐keys’ seems harmless enough at the first glance, but let me assure you that statement got my dad and I locked out of our house for an entire night. Before leaving the house I heard my dad say ‘Got the keys’ to which I responded ‘yeah… OK’ and closed the door. It was after coming back I got a shock when my dad asked my for the keys and I told him he said he had it when I left. He looked at me dangerously saying ‘No… I asked a question ‘Got the keys?’ to which you said ‘yeah… OK’, remember?’ Though I could accept his argument, I could not say I was wrong in my view because I heard him say ‘Got the keys’ as in ‘I got the keys’ (to which I said ‘yeah… OK’ and shut the door). Both of us were speaking the truth within our own context.

Sometimes a statement can be true within a context though it may be dependent on context. It is like saying 2 + 2 = 4 is true in mathematical context or every action has an equal and an opposite reaction in Newtonian context. Both the statements are true, though in a context. The theory of relativity states that one cannot know whether one is at rest (stationary) or moving at a velocity – it depends on one’s frame of reference. Though this theory may appear to instill the relativistic(4) nature of the universe, it does insist on one absolute truth – the value of the speed of light. So to state, that ‘there is no such thing as Truth’ is not correct because truth exists, whether within a context or across the contexts.

The concept of context rises due to one thing we humans have: perception. History is the witness to how context makes us see a fact or event in different lights – or different truths. When I am giving an IB history test, there are always questions on sources(5). Sometimes questions are on the reliability or the authenticity of the sources in order to make me get a more accurate image of what may have really happened by looking at when and by whom the source was made or written and what it is referring to – i.e. by looking at the context.

To me, the problem of denying anything such as truth, like being satisfied by the concept of relativism, seems extremely dogmatist. I think if we accept that ‘context is all’ then rather than solving the problem we are creating a new one because we can let our prejudice and belief see anything the way we want to. At the same time, refusing to just accept or take in account different evidences and beliefs before making a judgement seem to me as being ignorant and naive.

We cannot that deny that context plays a major role in getting to the truth. However, just because we do not know what the truth – the absolute truth – is, does not mean that it does not exist. Context gives or tries to give us ways to view the truth or fragments of the truth. Like in History, when we cannot be sure about the truth, then going through different interpretations of a certain event can be the only way to obtain the real picture of what must have happened. Truth is not something that can be decided upon, as done so by a community or by oneself: it may exist, whether we know it or not at that moment. That is to say, had I been bought up in a 16th century European community, then one of my undeniable truths would be about the existence of a giant tortoise on which our ‘flat’ planet rests.


(1) – Lagemaat 2005

(2) – White n.d.

(3) – Lagemaat 2005

(4) – Relativism is a philosophy which states that everything is relative and absolute knowledge or truth does not exist. Its beliefs are analogous to the philosophy ‘Context is all’

(5) – An extract of a famous speech or a historian’s book or even a picture.


Lagemaat, Richard van de. Theory of Knowledge for IB diploma. Cambridge
University Press, 2005.

White, Alan R. Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Volume 2, ‘Coherence Theory of Truth’.

How websites work?

(Another Essay explaining the website functioning technically)

Ok. So now since we are already enlightened with the knowledge of ‘What is Internet and how it works?’ (I know it’s somewhere in back of your mind), I thought I would – for my own benefit – research and write about a prominent element associated with (and in) it – Website and talk about how it functions. Yes, its quite beautiful actually.

Website is the collection of inter-related web pages.

The web page is a text file which contains set of HTML tags that describe how the text should be formatted when a browser displays it on the screen. Using HTML, a web page may also display images, audio, or video. It may incorporate elements from other websites with suitable markup anchors.

The pages of a website can usually be accessed from a simple Uniform Resource Locator (URL) called the homepage. The URLs of the pages organize them into a hierarchy, although hyperlinking between them conveys the reader’s perceived site structure and guides the reader’s navigation of the site. Web pages are accessed and transported with the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), which may optionally employ encryption (HTTP Secure, HTTPS) to provide security and privacy for the user of the web page content.

The website needs to be hosted on at least one web server, which is accessible through the Internet and whose primary function is to deliver web pages on the request to clients. Web servers are able to map the path component of a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) into a local file system resource (for static requests) or an internal or external program name (for dynamic requests). That is to say, the client’s user agent will translate URL requested by the end-user into a connection to combination of host (www) and domain name (e.g. – with a HTTP 1.1 request. The web server on website ( will append the given path to the path of its root directory giving the local file system resource. It will then read the file, if it exists and sends a response to the client’s Web browser. The response will describe the content of the file and contain the file itself or an error message will return saying that the file does not exist or is unavailable.

To enable users to access, retrieve and view documents and other resources on the Internet, a software application is used called web browser, which acts an interface and brings information resources to the user.  The software component of the web browser that takes marked up content (such as HTML, XML, image files, etc.) and formatting information (such as CSS, XSL, etc.) and displays the formatted content on the screen is called web browsers engine (or layout engine). HTML is passed to the browser’s layout engine to be transformed from markup to an interactive document and display any kind of content that can be part of a web page.  Nowadays, web browsers include additional components to support e-mail, or Internet Relay Chat (IRC). More and more applications are being developed, which sometimes through addition plug-ins in the browser can be accessed.

Summarizing, to develop a website, it is essential that several different components work together in order for the Web to be accessible to people. These components include:

  • Content – it is the primal information in a Web page or Web application for which the user has accessed. This could be in form of –
  • Text, images, videos and sounds.
  • Code or markup language.
    • Web browsers – software which acts as an interface.
    • Web server – to host the website.

Plug-ins – a piece of software which enhances another software application and usually cannot be run independently.


Hope this helps. This is a short gist for basic TECHNICAL understanding. I mean there is always Wikipedia, but then how will I show, I know stuff if I do not write up. Wait for more!


When we say First person-shooter game, most of us get a mental image of shooting soldiers or monsters in a realistic or surreal space. We like these games but how many of us know how to create one?

Now many may say that game designing is a completely different field than game playing. Well the game ‘Code Hero’ begs to differ. Created in Primer Labs, it is a game that teaches one how to program computers, and make games. No no no – Don’t mistake it for another boring educational game. In fact it’s just the opposite – It’s a game with a lesson embedded in it. That is what makes this game awesome. Within the gameplay one has to run around with a special gun which allows to copy and paste coding from the virtual environment, which can be used to manipulate, build or destroy structures – thus customizing the reality of the game. Thus one can build an ideal game (and create an army of coders to ultimately defeat Null, the evil artificial intelligence that is threatening to conquer humanity).

So while Code Hero offers a juicy treat for gamers, it allows techies to copy the code they like in a Java editor and use it in their own environment.

So what if you are new to programming? This may seem too technical where words like ‘coding’, ‘Java’ ’emulation’ seem like jargon and overwhelming (ok I admit it, the last word is nothing to with this game. I just put it there to scare you). As the comedian Russell Peter says, ‘No problam Budddy‘.  Code Hero welcomes beginners as it is  a new type of learning; players start out using powerful code without needing to understand it, then slowly master that code to conquer specific challenges. It’s a game you can play without programming experience where learning happens naturally and the moment when start coding is the beginning of a new world of possibilities.

This is a part of a new paradigm in empowerment. Alex Peake and his colleagues at Primer Labs want to change the way in which people educate themselves. They believed interactive media such as video games are the best way to engage people as it allows them to control the pace of their learning, and direct the lesson to that information which most interests them.

One can pick up some interesting ideas from Code Hero, he or she can close that window on their desktop, open up a Java editor and start to try things on their own unaided.

Furthermore, Peake intends for there to be a parallel version of the game in the real world catered to just this type of exploration. “Actualia” is the flip side of Codia – a collection of Code Hero gamers and enthusiasts who gather to discuss, enjoy, and educate their peers on programming. Think hacker space meets game forum. Actualia will allow gamers to meet face to face, turning the education of Code Hero into an avenue to social learning and community that has long defined the best universities.

Can learning programming get more awesome than this?

Watch this video to get the feel of the game

Read further on –

The Matrix Deciphered: From Code to Cult

A reflective article I had written up a while back for a fortnightly newspaper.

The box office hit ‘The Matrix’ which revolutionized the movie effects has created a milestone in film industry. Though known for the advance use of computer technology, it has left series of philosophical questions for the fans to ‘mind chow’ about. Here, Anupriy Kanti sets out to ‘decipher’ the reasons for its success and secrets.                                    

…Neo touched the armchair slowly…the only object in the endless white zone. “This is…real?” Morpheus looked at him. A glint in his eyes sparked behind his pince-nez. “What is ‘real’? How do we define ‘real’? If real is what you can feel, smell, taste and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brains”…

So is Reality an illusion? Is it no different than our dreams, thoughts or perhaps emotion? Could the world around us actually be ‘Matrix’, a computer simulation designed to lull us humans into a feeling of complacency while our actual bodies are being harvested and used as batteries for the artificial intelligence we helped create?

The more one ponders upon these dubious questions, the more one realizes the difficulty of attaining the answers. The movie starts with a tight black-clad mysterious female hacker named Trinity’s (Carrie-Anne Moss) superhuman escape through a nameless city from some businesslike black suited ‘Agents’, who then decide to catch next target, Neo (Keanu Reeves).

Meanwhile strange events start happening in Neo’s life. From a message in his computer and a mysterious call from Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), a deep-voiced man who strangely says that he has been looking for him for several years, to an unsuccessful escape from the Agents, he soon discovers that the world he lived in till now was a hoax, elaborate façade designed by malevolent machines to use the essence of human for generating power. He was ‘The One’ to destroy the system and bring salvation to human species with the help of Morpheus and Trinity.

The movie, directed by and brainchild of Wachowski brothers in 1999, was not just an ‘action flick’ for entertainment but a philosophical science-fiction bringing a revolutionizing change in film-fight sequences and mindset of many viewers regarding the outlook of the ‘reality’. The film earned $460 million worldwide, and became one of the most iconic and imitated films in recent memory. It portrays the amalgamation of creators’ love for the comic book and Japanese animation traditions, as well as reflecting an affinity with video game culture with stylistic elements including certain modes of framing and lighting, along with an emphasis on martial arts.

However this Matrix cult, which includes the sequels of Matrix trilogy, ‘Matrix Reloaded’ and ‘Matrix Revolution’ was mostly propagated and popular due to its prodigious action scenes and ‘the bullet time’ photography, in which the action slows down or freezes as the camera seems to circle 360 degrees around the characters.

The superhuman agility and strength of characters are show in slow motion and through multiple point of view, rather than blinding or confusing the audience with to much speed, thus giving them a ‘visual thrill of omniscience’ and sense of control and power over the temporal world of the film. By providing the luxury to watch the ‘split-second events’ over a longer time interval, we feel a sense of mastery over time.

One can go on analyzing, but the interesting question still remains: What is The Matrix? For that, I quote Morpheus “…Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself…”

What is Internet and how it works?

(An essay I wrote to explain the working of Internet technically for laymen, thus helping me understand it better)

Ok. On the face of it, it seems silly to even ask this. I am WE KNOW what Internet is. (“It’s this thing..this thing…umm..on my computer…that let’s me..facebook?”). OK fine. But how does it work. Come on. We must have all wondered about it sometimes. I am sure many know some bits of it. I was faced with this question by my mentor. Given the amount of hesitation and uncertainty I had in explaining it. I decided to read and write about it. So here it is –

The name is short form for internetworking. It’s a publicly accessible network for an interconnected computer networks which communicates by ‘packet switching’ communication method (transmits data in a sizable unit called ‘packets’) using Internet Protocol, a protocol standard meant for Internet, for routing across network boundaries.

Internet Protocol (IP) uses the Internet Protocol Suite which classifies the protocols into four hierarchical layers, each layer defining the scope and reach of the protocols as suggested in their name.

Lowest communication layer is the Link layer which consists of physical components that link up computers (LAN functions at this level).  It is called link as, it provides the basic connectivity functions interacting with the networking hardware of the computer and the associated management of interface-to-interface messaging.

Next is the Internet layer provides a way of communication between multiple computers across network boundaries. This is the foundation of Internet, thus deriving its name. It uses IP-bases packets that get transported to the destination host specified by an IP address.  This layer contains IP address, Internet Protocol Version 4 (IPv4) and Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) which is used to identify and locate hosts on the network.  IP addresses consist of four numbers separated by dot where each number is called an octet.

Above it is the Transport layer which is responsible for delivering data to the appropriate application process on the host computers via a basic data channel. It does so by establishing a numbered logical construct called port which allocated specifically for each of the communication channels an application needs.  The Internet and Transport Layer combined are referred to as TCP/IP which forms the communication protocol for the Internet.

The last and topmost layer is the Application layer, which contains all protocols and methods within the context of process -to-process communication across the IP network, handles application based interactions.

Internet carries a range of information and services such as the World Wide Web, the interlinked system of hypertext documents which can be viewed as a web page via a web browser. Web pages frequently subsume other resources such as style sheetsscripts and images into their final presentation and may be retrieved from a local computer or from a remote web server. It is formatted using Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML). All aesthetics and design aspects present on the page can provided by Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) instructions.

As machines understand instructions in a particular way, to be able to communicate better with computers, programming languages were developed, which helped in controlling and creating programs. This has a significant impact on web, when scripting languages like Javascript or XUL were developed, so as to make the web pages more interactive.

Internet works using the client-server architect, where machines in the network are categorized into clients (which has an application or system that sends request and accesses a service made available like web browser Google Chrome) and server (which has program running to serve the requests like web server Apache).  The client initiates communication requesting for a specific resource using Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) to the server, which responds back with the content of the resources. It’s important to note that while server has a static IP address, client typically have IP address assigned by the Internet Service Provider for a particular session.

This is because as the numbers may be tedious to deal with, an IP address may also be assigned to a Host name (www), which is sometimes easier to remember. Hostnames may be looked up to find IP addresses, and vice-versa. Domain Name System (DNS) maintains the domain name hierarchy and provides translation services between it and the address spaces (an example being .com). In a domain name, each word and dot combination you add before a top-level domain indicates a level in the domain structure. It is the DNS that connect to each other across the Internet and cache lookup information to make name resolution more efficient.

To make the infrastructure and make the web easier to navigate, Web servers is able store a piece of text called Cookie on a client’s hard disk. Cookies allow a Web site to store information on a user’s machine and later retrieve it. The pieces of information are stored as name-value pairs. While they are not software and cannot be programmed, carry viruses, or install malware on the client, they can be used by spyware to track user’s browsing activities.

The popularity of internet has made it possible for various methods of communication between users on different network. One of most widely used one is Email, a method of exchanging digital messages from an author to one or more recipients, which uses a Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) for sending mail. Another one is File transfer, which is the transmitting of files over a computer network or the Internet and uses File Transfer Protocol (FTP). Another major development is Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), which is a range of technologies, methodologies, communication protocols, and transmission techniques for the delivery of voice communications and multimedia sessions.

A new type of networking called Peer-to-peer (P2P) has become popular, which is a distributed application architecture that partitions tasks or workloads among peers.

In summary, the functions of internet cannot be attributed to one particular element or source. It keeps developing and growing organically, providing more and more ways to link the virtual world.

So I hope it made some sense…or was helpful in someway…No? Well, it’s knowledge, so just take it and leave it at the back of your mind. May help someday.

Subjective ‘spiritual’ reality

Excerpts from Journal: 12th Feb 2012

Subjective reality seems the easy way out.

Emotionally I feel satisfied with life and world but intellectually, there is always something missing.

Is it my need…my human need to crave for a better understanding of universe so as to make sense of my place in it or is it something only a selected few see missing?

If everyone has their own truth is it to say that there is nothing independent of our perception? What about the time before us? Was the reality subjugated to the perception of dinosaurs?

There is a stench of anthropological bias in this way of thinking.

Ancient religion and cultures found a way to answer the ‘Why’ questions in their own subjective ways limited by socio-culture context they were in.

I remembered discussing with a friend about ‘spiritual reality’. Her argument was that there is a higher power and that praying (in any form) is the way to connect with it. She even used quantum mechanics ‘wave-particle duality’ principle  to back up her ‘everything-is-energy’ argument.

For the most part, I kept listening first and then questioning the logic of her argument. But it seemed that she got this perception that I was disagreeing with her.

But for me, it was not about disagreeing or not believing what she said. I think I was questioning myself.

Is this spiritual divine energy for real? Or is it our need to believe in it?

For what?

I read an article on web about ‘How our brains copes up with the idea of death’. There was this paragraph which went on the lines of –

“Being the only species which is consciously aware of its impending non-existence, humans have developed cultural system which portray the world as a meaningful, purposeful place in which death is not the final end. Besides the idea of an eternal soul, we talk of transcending death through social achievements like heroism, memorials and heirs. Decades of scientific research indicate that our mortality has a pervasive impact in our lives and that when we are reminded of our fragile and ephemeral nature, we quickly banish the thought by making our individual egos subservient to grander ideas like family, religion and nation. “

I hear a lot of people become ‘spiritually awakened’ and getting done with religion in some ways.

The more I thought about it the more I felt that even the concept of ‘spirituality’ was of human creation.

Having filled our physical and emotion needs, we as human embark on trying to explain or engage in the awe of the cosmos.

If this is true, this leads me to some bit of frustration. I wonder if every BLOODY thing we do is reduce our cognitive dissonance!

A conversation of a friend echoes in my ears still..

“So what if its human creation? If you believe it, it is real for you, right?”

“Yes but, then if it just about believing. It means reality is limited to our sensory perception, which can be wrong at times. Does it not make sense to acknowledge it, if not transcend it. Is there no difference between knowledge and opinion?”

“You have to believe in something, you can’t live like this. It will be mentally exhausting”

It’s funny how she concluded by that. It was almost as if I was trivializing the idea of having a set belief. I was not sure if that’s how I thought. But whatever said, this is how the it seemed.

People talk about having an insight, feeling enlightened which can not be expressed or rationalized.

I cannot deny that those moments have never happened to me, but it is scary to hear people say so because then there can be no further discussions.

That is not to say the point is to agree on same thing. But it would be difficult to look at the other’s perspective, engage in it (with or without accepting it)

As Sam Harris, philosopher and author, said –

“Water is two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. What if someone says, “Well, that’s not how I choose to think about water.”? All we can do is appeal to scientific values. And if he doesn’t share those values, the conversation is over. If someone doesn’t value evidence, what evidence are you going to provide to prove they should value it? If someone doesn’t value logic, what logical argument could you provide to show the importance of logic?”