Interstellar was one of the most anticipated film of the 2014.  The first trailer that came out made me feel that this is going to be Nolan's most defining work, it was so well made that seeing it once a while became a routine of sorts for me. Even after umpteen number of views, the charm never lost - Everything was perfect about it, the Apollo footage shown, the brilliant background score of Zimmer  and that epic shot of Mathew Macconaughey driving which still remains etched in my mind. And the message shown at the end - One year from now. Yes i was hooked, this film with an ensemble cast was my most anticipated film of the year.

One year was too long a period for me to wait, so i went online trying to dig every small little info i could possibly get about this film.  From various online forums i came to know that movie is based on  a 2008 script which was later reworked on, there was no escaping now from reading the script. On an unusual cold night in Chennai , laying on the terrace beneath the ever puzzling space i took a dive into the script. It didn't matter to me that the reading was on mobile, i just kept on wondering about the scale of this film. The script was brilliant, the scope of the film was massive with many challenges like rich world building. I felt at that moment this film  would go beyond Kubrick's space odyssey and usher a new age in Sci-Fi films.

 

 Lesson 1 : With Great expecations comes great disappointments.

Mathew McConaughey dons the role of Cooper an Ex NASA pilot who has no option left other than becoming a farmer. In the words of the principal of the school where Coop's daughter Murphy goes to study , we see the great tragedy that the humankind is facing - "We don't need engineer's , we need farmers" he says . The apocalypse of the future world comes in the form of crop diseases, most of the crops have been destroyed by blight and other variants. From a statistical point of view, time is a commodity which is fast slipping from the hour glass of human race.  The grim setting of the film  accentuates the fear in everyone's mind that we might soon become an endangered species, there is no where to run or hide for the people, so much so that they have gone collectively into a delusional form of thinking where humankind's greatest achievements are looked upon. Murph's teacher in a parent meeting with Cooper goes on to extent of saying that Apollo mission never happened and mankind had never visited moon. 

In a world where people believe that everything will be alrighty by going back to oldways of agriculture and simple life, Coop is a misfit. His agony is evident when Coop says "We used to look up at the sky and wonder about our place in the stars. Now we just look down at our place in the dirt" , Mathew McConaughey is brilliant in these portions where he exhibits his vulnerability and helplessness. But the good stuff for the engineer is yet to come when Coop discovers a gravitational anomaly that causes his robot harvesters to misbehave and go haywire. In an ensuing scene , Coop discovers that the 'ghost' which Murph seems to be talking about is the result of this same gravitational anomaly. Coop soon deducts that the anomaly is pointing to the cordinates of a location which we later realizes as secret base for NASA after the government has publicly discredited the space program.

Things happen jet paced after reaching NASA where Dr.Brand (performed by the wonderful Micheal Caine) convinces Coop to join the program as the pilot for a mission which might just save the human race. The mission is to find hospitable planets where humans could migrate to (Plan A) or start over from the beginning at a faraway planet and create a human colony (Plan B) . Anything more that i add here might turn out to be a spoiler, so let me just end it at that.

 

I really thought that the first half of the film was quite good, there were few plot holes here and there but over all i was very happy with what i had been seeing. I had massive expecations for the second half, which is why i was left disappointed after leaving the cinema halls. I was turned off by how much they have cut down from the original script, maybe that being the reason why i got disappointed. I kept on thinking as to how someone like a Peter Jackson or Alfonso Cuaron could have done more justice to script, No offence mean't here but Nolan has this thing going on about how he tries to reduce the CGI and use practical sets whenever possible (Remember the floating scene in Inception ?) . But this was journey into the cosmos and i thought that the special effects were not right up there. I had read this article in wired on how they had achieved a simulation of black hole with great deal of efforts, but honestly none of the geekiness associated with the simulation translated into a 'wow' effect on screen. 

The conclusion is , this is by no means a bad film but if you had high expectations - You might just be disappointed.

Posted in | Comments(0)»

So this is a book which i read a small portion of . I find the content to be very interesting.

And ML being a subject which i am interested in, i should come back to this when i have time.

 

http://mines.humanoriented.com/classes/2009/fall/csci568/collective_intelligence.pdf

 

Now thinking about it , i am prettty convinced that i should be focussing more on python than any other language going forward. 

Posted in Python | Comments(0)»

 

I find this post to be really inspiring. 

Dear (insert name here),
I heard you enjoy a certain programming language named Python. Programming is a wonderful activity. I am a little jealous that you have access to computers at your age; when I grew up I didn't even know what a computer was! I was an electronics hobbyist though, and my big dream was to build my own electronic calculator from discrete components. I never did do that, but I did build several digital clocks, and it was amazing to build something that complex and see it work. I hope you dream big too -- programmers can make computers (and robots!) do amazing things, and this is a great time to become a programmer. Just imagine how much faster computers will be in five or ten years, and what you will be able to do with your skills then!
--Guido van Rossum (inventor of Python)

 

 

Posted in Python | Comments(0)»

It was one of those things which i saw first in facebook shared by  someone whose posts i find very amusing. The facebook post was regarding how a relatively lesser known university (Calicut University )  from India has managed to  reach the unique distinction of the 4th Most searched university in Google. I found the post very entertaining for its sarcastic take on how the unsure students would have gone through binge searching sessions to take their university to this status.   

My initial reaction was , "Whoa . That's cool. Nobody would have expected this"  

 

I was very interested in the subject that i did a bit of googling and tried to find out the source of this information. Apparently this comes from BBC , a name which can be trusted for online media content . The article Google reveals most searched for Universities  written by   Sean Coughlan  who is an award winning Education journalist. Surely there was no reason to doubt the credibility of the article.    This is the list that is published  in the article.   

 

 

Top 20 most searched universities by Google users worldwide, 2014

1. University of Phoenix

2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

3. Open University

4. University of Calicut

5. University of California, Los Angeles

6. Anna University

7. Stanford University

8. London School of Economics

9. Columbia University

10. New York University

11. University of Mumbai

12. University College London

13. University of Oxford

14. Florida State University

15. Harvard University

16. University of Cambridge

17. Liberty University

18. University of Rajasthan

19. University of Michigan

20. Annamalai University

 After going through this list couple of times , i kept on wondering as to why the ivy leagues had less representation. A bit of skeptic in me started thinking on the lines of whether this information is indeed accurate. I tried in vain to find any google public release documents which supports the information mentioned in the website. I soon realized that the news is being copied by other online medias by changing the content but the list essentially remaining the same.   Since i couldn't find anything , i knew that there is one source available in public domain which could validate my doubts once and for all.

Enter Google trends  

Google trends, thanks to google is a website through which we could make analysis of  how frequently something has been searched upon through google's search engine. It is a hefty little tool for those who likes to analyse things and we can make some meaningful insights through it. Usage of Google Trends is pretty much self explanatory and i am pretty sure that even if you are trying it out for the first time you wouldn't be finding it much difficult.   And Google trends do give us the option making 'n' number of comparisons between  varying search topics in google.  For demonstration purpose , let me do a comparison between the search terms facebook,orkut and myspace for the year 2007   

Now you can draw out your own conclusions from it or take home some key pointers from it , but let's dive into the question of how we can check the accuracy of the information given in our context. So this is my strategy (It is not much of a strategy afterall) , i am going to make comparisons between search terms  of the below given sample points    

A - MIT    

B - Harvard  

C - Stanford 

D - University of Calicut    

This is the result i got from google trends which further deepened my  doubts on the authenticity of the information.

The above comparison is for the year 2014 alone. And to be honest doesn't this result makes sense ? It does, MIT is the clear victor with Harvard and Stanford neck to neck and University of Calicut is not even in the picture. ( I have also tried with the search term 'calicut university' and couldn't see much of difference there also')  

But i need to be absolutely sure. There are two ways of making comparisons in Google trends.

1 - Search Term
2 - Search topics

What we did was option 1 , by specifying the exact search 'term' and understanding how frequently these terms were searched for in Google and comparing them with other search terms. Now let's do option 2 which is way more cooler and more effective in making comparisons for a much larger set called search topic. For Example Google has algorithms to make search queries such as 'Tokyo' ,'Tokkyo' , 'Capital of Japan' etc fall into a single search topic that is 'Tokyo'. This seamless condensation of search queries into topics offers us a much better picture while doing analysis of searches.

 


With Search topics , Harvard is the victor with MIT closely following and Stanford slightly below. University of Calicut is not having a search volume close to these three.   Now go back into the table given earlier and see if you can correlate it with  the info received from google trends . I just can't , there is no way google trends is telling me that Harvard could be 15 in the same list where University of Calicut is #4. So this leaves with only with these two options  a) BBC got from some previleged information from google which they haven't disclosed with anyone else b) Google trends API is going bat shit crazy right now.   On a personal note , option a and b looks wrong to me because the proof seems to be there right in front of us from the orginal BBC article           

 

         

 

This image taken from the original article is a comparison between searches for Coursera and Cambridge university. And here is the same comparison that came from Google trends for the period from 2009 to present.  



Hope you saw the similarity which proves that the source for BBC also happens to be Google trends. But what i still doesn't get it is how they got the list totally wrong. Also if they were using Google trends, then it is not exactly a scenario of "Google revealing the most searched university". Guess media gets away with such misleading titles quite often these days. I guess the only person who can provide some clarity will be the writer. He is in twitter and i hope to bring this to his attention.

 

PS : The only reason i took the pain to write this post is my sincere wish at not seeing wrong information published tomorrow in plethora of print and online mediums. It is strange how poorly facts are checked before most content gets published.  

 

Posted in useful | Comments(0)»