Aug 30, 2006 Hacker Puzzle Solved! Hacker Puzzle Solved!

Hehe Take look at this.

Aug 24, 2006

Astronomers say Pluto is not a planet

Posted on Thu, Aug. 24, 2006 - Associated Press

PRAGUE, Czech Republic - Leading astronomers declared Thursday that Pluto is no longer a planet under historic new guidelines that downsize the solar system from nine planets to eight.

After a tumultuous week of clashing over the essence of the cosmos, the International Astronomical Union stripped Pluto of the planetary status it has held since its discovery in 1930. The new definition of what is - and isn't - a planet fills a centuries-old black hole for scientists who have labored since Copernicus without one.

Although astronomers applauded after the vote, Jocelyn Bell Burnell - a specialist in neutron stars from Northern Ireland who oversaw the proceedings - urged those who might be "quite disappointed" to look on the bright side.

"It could be argued that we are creating an umbrella called 'planet' under which the dwarf planets exist," she said, drawing laughter by waving a stuffed Pluto of Walt Disney fame beneath a real umbrella.

The decision by the prestigious international group spells out the basic tests that celestial objects will have to meet before they can be considered for admission to the elite cosmic club.

For now, membership will be restricted to the eight "classical" planets in the solar system: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

Much-maligned Pluto doesn't make the grade under the new rules for a planet: "a celestial body that is in orbit around the sun, has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a ... nearly round shape, and has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit."

Pluto is automatically disqualified because its oblong orbit overlaps with Neptune's.

Instead, it will be reclassified in a new category of "dwarf planets," similar to what long have been termed "minor planets." The definition also lays out a third class of lesser objects that orbit the sun - "small solar system bodies," a term that will apply to numerous asteroids, comets and other natural satellites.

It was unclear how Pluto's demotion might affect the mission of NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, which earlier this year began a 9 1/2-year journey to the oddball object to unearth more of its secrets.

The decision at a conference of 2,500 astronomers from 75 countries was a dramatic shift from just a week ago, when the group's leaders floated a proposal that would have reaffirmed Pluto's planetary status and made planets of its largest moon and two other objects.

That plan proved highly unpopular, splitting astronomers into factions and triggering days of sometimes combative debate that led to Pluto's undoing.

Now, two of the objects that at one point were cruising toward possible full-fledged planethood will join Pluto as dwarfs: the asteroid Ceres, which was a planet in the 1800s before it got demoted, and 2003 UB313, an icy object slightly larger than Pluto whose discoverer, Michael Brown of the California Institute of Technology, has nicknamed "Xena."

Charon, the largest of Pluto's three moons, is no longer under consideration for any special designation.

Brown was pleased by the decision. He had argued that Pluto and similar bodies didn't deserve planet status, saying that would "take the magic out of the solar system."

"UB313 is the largest dwarf planet. That's kind of cool," he said.

Aug 22, 2006

Controversial Matches in Australia

This is the match where Murali was called for 'throwing' for the second time in Australia. It was very sad to see how he suffered that day and no matter what I do appreciate the heroic act by Arjuna.

Aug 17, 2006

Linux in my Laptop

After getting exhausted with Windows XP, I decided to install Linux into my laptop. I tried different versions. Still I am not satisfied 100%. But without additional fancy features, Linux is far better than Windows XP.

My first thought was to install Ubuntu. After reading some reviews, I got to know that my specific model (Dell Inspiron E1505 with Intel Core Duo) has some issues with Ubuntu. A lot of people had experienced in corrupted BIOS after installing Ubuntu into this specific model. So, I am waiting till they fix this bug.

Fedora Core 5
Well I have experience in RedHat environments, especially in ES which I think is one of the best stable Linux version for high-end servers. Fedora was easy to install and looks very nice. It detected my sound and gave better video graphics. I have successfully installed the new kernel for SMP versions and it handled the two CPU cores nicely. Well-done! But with SMP kernel my sound did not work. Wifi did not work at all with any of the kernels. And I could not mount the NTFS Windows partitions. And I felt like Fedora is bit bulky. So I did not like it.

I was amazed with the performance of the Knoppix Live CD. So I decided to install it into my hard disk. It detected my sound, with good graphics and Knoppix was the only Linux version allowed me to mount NTFS Windows partition. I had some fun running the Windows programs with Wine in Linux. But this also did not detect Wifi. And after installing SMP kernel, the sound did not work!

Well I am waiting to see how I can fix those issues with Linux. I am experimenting with several Linux detros and hopefully will come up with a solution which will please me most (definitely than Windows did).

Aug 16, 2006

Careless Code Reuse Causes Killer Kangaroos

I'm not sure about the how much of this story is true (some say that the Aussies have experienced this behaviour in testing). But it is a nice example for careless object oriented programming.
- Lasantha

Careless Code Reuse Causes Killer Kangaroos Mutant Marsupials Take Up Arms Against Australian Air Force The reuse of some object-oriented code has caused tactical headaches for Australia's armed forces. As virtual reality simulators assume larger roles in helicopter combat training, programmers have gone to great lengths to increase the realism of their scenarios, including detailed landscapes and - in the case of the Northern Territory's Operation Phoenix- herds of kangaroos (since disturbed animals might well give away a helicopter's position).

The head of the Defense Science & Technology Organization's Land Operations/Simulation division reportedly instructed developers to model the local marsupials' movements and reactions to helicopters. Being efficient programmers, they just re-appropriated some code originally used to model infantry detachment reactions under the same stimuli, changed the mapped icon from a soldier to a kangaroo, and increased the figures' speed of movement.

Eager to demonstrate their flying skills for some visiting American pilots, the hotshot Aussies "buzzed" the virtual kangaroos in low flight during a simulation. The kangaroos scattered, as predicted, and the visiting Americans nodded appreciatively... then did a double-take as the kangaroos reappeared from behind a hill and launched a barrage of Stinger missiles at the hapless helicopter. Apparently the programmers had forgotten to remove that part of the infantry coding.

The lesson? Objects are defined with certain attributes, and any new object defined in terms of an old one inherits all the attributes. The embarrassed programmers had learned to be careful when reusing object-oriented code, and the Yanks left with a newfound respect for Australian wildlife. Simulator supervisors report that pilots from that point onward have strictly avoided kangaroos, just as they were meant to.

From June 15, 1999, Defense Science and Technology Organization Lecture Series, Melbourne, Australia, and staff reports. Item taken from Software Testing and Quality Engineering magazine, Volume 1, Issue 6 (November/December 1999).


Unitech Cup - South Africa pulled out

South Africa pulled out from the Unitech Cup merely because of the fear of complete defeat by the two powerful cricket teams in the subcontinent. They were clearly looking for a reason to avoid the confrontation with the red hot Sri Lankan team and the powerful Indians. It was strange to see the team came from Johannesburg which is famous to be one of the most dangerous cities in the world, being afraid of the security of Colombo when it is very much certain that they are not a target of LTTE!

Well played South Africa, at least you avoided the defeat.

Unitech Cup tri-series in Sri Lanka, 2006

What is good for the goose is not good for the gander
Osman Samiuddin
August 16, 2006

It is easy to criticise South Africa's decision to pull out of the Colombo tri-series. People can cite the case of Australia. In 2002 they refused to tour Pakistan because of the 'war on terror' yet three years later continued their Ashes tour of England despite the July 7th terrorist attacks; some will rightly ask whether South Africa would have pulled out of a tour to Australia or England in similar circumstances?

Australia and England both stressed last summer that such attacks should not disrupt normal life. A similar and more robust argument can be made here, especially as the blast was unrelated to a broader 'war on terror' and instead part of a local, long-running conflict. Given the modern world's increasing polarization, it is easy to spot double standards in that sort of behaviour.

Many will also insist that no place in the world is really safe anymore, from any kind of violence. Can foolproof security be offered anywhere? Johannesburg is a dangerous city, as Saqlain Mushtaq and Mohammad Wasim found out on the 1997-98 tour when they were attacked and mugged, putting the tour briefly in doubt and delaying the first Test. Pakistan are playing a Test in London days after a major terrorist plot at the country's leading airport, in a country which is still on a high level of alert. How safe are they?

But any criticism of South Africa's decision should also be tempered, to an extent, by the understanding that safety is a very personal concept. A Pakistani player's notion of safety is likely to be different to that of a South African. If he is a resident of Karachi, he will have few qualms in traveling to Delhi, Mumbai or Colombo because he is likely to be more immune to such incidents. Tragic as they are, because they happen regularly enough in his city, they build up a certain resistance. The same can be said of a player from Colombo, Delhi or Mumbai; unsurprisingly, since 9/11 the only countries to play a Test in Karachi are the three teams from the subcontinent.

The stance of the forgotten party in all this - India - confirms this. By choosing to stay on, we can assume that the incident hasn't affected them as much as it has South Africa. Even if it is because, as some suggest, they feel compelled to do so with Mumbai - another recently terrorist-hit venue - due to host a Champions Trophy final soon, and if they felt a sense of real danger, they might have made some noises.

Should we expect players from the West Indies, Australia, New Zealand and South African to hold the same notions of safety? May be not. Whether it is a fight for freedom or terrorism, homegrown or international, it has not afflicted those countries as much as it has this region. They are not used to such incidents on as regular a scale and thus likely to react differently. Further, their perceptions of the region may indeed be misplaced but when they concern as basic a concept as safety and self-preservation, they can also be rigid.

But given that the subcontinent constitutes such an important bloc in the cricketing world, we should expect from them, at the very least, an awareness of local complexities and cultures, and thus be in a position to make informed decisions in such situations. If South African players were au fait with the nature of the local conflict in which foreign cricket teams, historically, are an unlikely target, they might not have been so eager to leave. Although not half as ridiculous, their departure leaves them open to accusations of the kind of ignorance England displayed when they dithered over touring India in 2001, in the absurd belief that the country was a security threat after 9/11.

Clearly something needs to be done for this isn't the first time it has happened in Sri Lanka. In April 1987, a bomb blast in Colombo forced New Zealand to pack their bags and head back. New Zealand was affected again, five years later in November 1992, when another blast curtailed their tour and saw some players returning home (uncannily, New Zealand were also touring when a bomb in Karachi cut short a tour in May 2002). Australia and West Indies famously refused to play their World Cup games in 1996 in Colombo. And South Africa have also been previously affected; in 2003 they refused to play in Karachi and Peshawar, after a bomb blast in the port city. Not many will bet that it is the last time either.

For once, Pakistan and India can adopt the moral high ground and show the way. In 1998-99, Pakistan were due to visit India for their first tour in 12 years and security concerns, in light of threats from extremist groups, dominated the build-up. Similarly, before the 2003-04 tour to Pakistan, many Indian players were wary of crossing the border, especially so soon after an attempt on Pervez Musharraf's life. And because of their unique history, both sides were more at threat than any touring team in recent time. Ultimately, both tours went ahead, destroying myths, shattering perceptions and enhancing ties. A uniform display of that will from the cricket community would be admirable.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo

Aug 10, 2006