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. – google.org) with a HTTP 1.1 request. The web server on website (www.google.org) 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!

CODE HERO: A GAME TO DESIGN GAMES

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 –

http://primerlabs.com/codehero

http://www.i-programmer.info/news/144-graphics-and-games/3034-code-hero-play-and-learn.html

http://singularityhub.com/2011/08/29/a-video-game-that-teaches-you-to-make-video-games-code-hero-rocks-maker-faire-next-the-world/

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?”

Commencing with Clay

When the course, Research through Artistic Practice started, I was not sure what will I be getting out of it. In the first few classes, we discussed our earlier works with each other and Rakhi, the faculty that was heading the course.

After our experimentation with cloth, we had decided to try working with a new material: clay. At first, there was almost a childlike excitement in me. I could already picture myself making shapes and modeling with it, as I did in childhood with dough. The first day we got clay, we saw a film that used claymation, before getting our hands dirty.

I was not sure what I wanted to make when I started working. Looking at others, it seemed as if they had some form already thought out. Someone was doing pots, someone else was doing faces, some replicating natural forms. I kept molding and kneading the clay, hoping for an idea to hit me.

I made a few things – a coin, dice, a toy castle. But none seem to be too interesting to be taken forward. Then in the middle of kneading some clay, I tried making marks on it. It seemed sort of like fish-bone marks on a flat rough surface. I showed to another classmate, saying “Hey look! I found a fossil”

Given the reaction (a few laughs and couple of praises), I was suddenly very interested in making this more finesse.  In the end I made it look like an excavated piece of rock with a fossilized element.

I took a lump of clay, flattened it and went into garden. I had an idea in my mind and I had to test it out. I saw a tree near the edge of the garden. Going near it, I felt the bark. Bingo! I put the clay on it and pressed it hard. After waiting for a few minutes, I took of that clay and looked at the surface. I sighed. Not the desired effect I wanted. While the impressions of the bark did come on the clay, it did not look like the hide of dinosaurs. I wasn’t fooling anyone.

Over the course of weeks, there was not much engagement with clay (as I would have liked). But time and again, the question came – “What should I do with the clay?”. With the pressure to give some form of output coming, I started working with it again at home. This time I was very influenced by the story I was writing and since it involved monsters (obviously), I wanted to try developing them. Using some reference sketches I had made, I decided to make a 3D model of a monster dog that played a part in the story. I was not going to let my inexperience to stop me from trying. I knew that wiremesh skeleton structure was needed before putting clay on it for modeling. With that little knowledge, I went ahead to make the beast

 

 

Ok. So it did not turn out as I planned. But hey, I thought to myself, it’s the learning that counts.

In the coming next week, I decided to work more with the idea of sculpting. This was also due to the fact that Pragya and I were thinking on an artwork for the gallery we were curating, which required 3D models of left hand. And what better material than clay for it?

Good think of working together, was that the shortcoming I was having in my ‘clay-over-wiremesh’ technique was sorted out by Pragya’s idea. We ended making armatures of left hand bone.

Adding clay on top turned out to be a lot easier then. The sculpture gave some semblance of a hand. It was a bit deformed and most definitely was going to have cracks, but given the concept of ‘left-handness as a glitch’ for our artwork, we decided to let it be like that.

The artwork turned out interesting and got mixed reviews.

While showing it in class, I did not get any useful feedback besides not enough quantity of work. I just had to spend more time with clay.

Given the workload and projects going I had, I did not account for the fact that time is not exactly something I had. I mean, it can always be argued that I could always take out time and try working, but that was besides the point. The truth of the matter was I was not finding the idea of working with clay to make sculptures (and improve on it) as exciting and worthy.  I mean, sure if spent more time on it, I would perhaps be able to make a perfect sculpture or form, but what was the point? I kept asking myself, “Why clay?”.

But what turned out to be a question from my frustration soon become the starting point into exploring the medium itself. Why clay? Hmm. Why has clay been used by so many people over so many centuries? What is it about it that it is still being used today?

To understand the material, I believe I should not just experience it kinesthetically but also read about it. The historicity of the material helps in giving a framework…a context where the evolving relationship of the material with people can be glimpsed at.

Given my interest in history (well… any knowledge for that matter), I got a perfect excuse to explore this material.

Thus began my ‘research’. I checked out how the clay was not just a material that was used for pottery, but figurines, tablets etc. It was even used (and still being used) as medicine in various civilizations as it was believed to cure stomach upsets. Cleopatra used it on her face for complexion. The more I was bombarded with facts and information, the more excited I got. I mean , knowing that there was a scientific hypothesis regarding clay being a major factor in abiogenesis (origin of life) is good enough to make you get all in the awe of the material, right?

I couldn’t wait to get to college the next Monday. Having, few sketches and ideas on paper, I had to get my hands on clay. I was very intrigued by the experience, our ancestors must have gone through, while working with clay.

I tried making a few things –

This is my replication of the famous excavated figurine ‘Venus of Willendorf’ which was found somewhere near Ethiopia and is dated to be about 22,000 to 26,000 years old. While the exact reason for its characteristic and purpose is not sure, there are enough speculation going on regarding its existence.

This is my version of a seal with symbols found in Harappa. The fascinating thing about the Indus valley script was the fact that while more than 417 distinct symbols have been found, most have not been deciphered. There is no Rosetta Stone equivalent for the language. Many theories have been formed ranging from it being a proto-linguistic code to it being a series of pictogram.

Finger fluting, by Wikipedia definition, was ‘the lines left by fingers on soft surfaces’ as seen in prehistoric art spanning over Europe, Australia, New Guinea during the Upper Paleolithic period. Being a form of cave painting, many figures and objects found in cave walls seem to have it, but the intention is not very clear as most of the time, it is hard to see a proper form. I decided to make one. Again, for the experience.

I am not sure if I have a defined concept going here. But looking back at these few ‘artifacts’ I was fascinated by enough to make them, I tried finding a common thread. Each of the elements had mystery or ambiguity attached with it.

Use of clay here as representative form or a surface for marking or printing give us an insight about the olden times, but it leaves so much more questions. Questions about its purpose, its value and – not to forget – its content.

Kind of like…Artwork in a gallery

The idea of endless possible explanation and interpretation is what makes both of them fun to ‘read into’.

Perhaps making artwork with clay (My own version of prehistoric artworks which I am working on) will finally help me understand and appreciate gallery space…

Irony of Life

12:39 AM

Friend: I thought about what you said…me going through a pattern repeatedly. You were right.

Me: yeah… listen about that… I am sorry. I should have not said anything.. I hate that about myself at times..

Friend: What do you hate about yourself?

12:40 AM

Me: talking in anthropological or scientific way about emotions and the effect takes away the perceived human unique experience

sorry

at times, I forgot how you may take it..

12:41 AM

Friend: unique piece you are.

Me: yeah.. i hate that about myself at times too :P..

12:42 AM

its like then suddenly I feel naked.. as if the social facade I put on has slipped off..

until someone reminds me by their reaction…

like right now you did

😛

Friend: I am guilty.

Me: no you are not..

you are just human

12:43 AM

reacting like one..

which is normal

sometimes I should too..

12:44 AM

Friend: and you are not human? that’s what you mean?

Me: no..

I am as much human.. perhaps more in some way.. 😛

12:45 AM

but most of us are humans in a very socially-constructed way..

like there are things to be said and a way to say them…

for it to feel…right

12:46 AM

even if it may or may not be the truth

..but to me… being human is not JUST about adhering to socially constructed norms and reactions..

12:47 AM

talking about things in a very primal, rational way doesn’t mean that there is no poetry in it…

Friend: i know all this

Me: ..but it doesn’t come that naturally, right?

12:48 AM 😛

Of course, you know all this.. this is nothing new..

Friend: see, things that don’t come to you naturally, you don’t do that.

and things that don’t come to me naturally

I don’t do that

Me: yeah

Friend: its cool right

12:49 AM

Me: but unfortunately the way the world and we human being function…

12:50 AM

your way is more preferable to others than mine..

what seems natural to you, I mean…

12:51 AM

making me be careful about what i should express about what I think and feel by making it sound natural and genuine

even if it may not be it..

which to me is the fascinating thing…

12:52 AM

Friend: fascinating to me too.

12:53 AM

Me: 😉

but don’t get me wrong.. its not like I think I am too different and rest all are same…

the beauty of life is that each of us are different…

12:54 AM

and the mystery is that while we are, I yet feel more different than others in a specific social context

12:55 AM

the funny part is that while at one level people get astonished, shocked, mesmerized or freaked out with the fact that I feel that way…

at another level, they empathize or atleast try with some of it..

as if they feel that way too…

12:56 AM

making the sense of alienation a common collective, shared feeling

…which to me is IRONY OF LIFE