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Showing posts from 2024

Cash on Delivery Parcel Scam

I recently experienced this scam first hand. I received a VPP parcel (India posts version of Cash on Delivery) for Rs 2340 at my newly registered company's address. Luckily, the postman was alert and warned me about the possibility of a scam. I refused the parcel and I guess that was the end of it. But this seems like a successful scam as my Google search revealed. Here's how it works :  1. You receive a VPP parcel through India Post, often labeled as containing "important documents" or "registration materials."  2. The Cash on Delivery (COD) fee is high – Rs. 2340 – designed to pressure you into paying without checking the contents. They make enough from the ones that accept vs those who reject What's inside? From what I have heard they can contain the following  1. Worthless items: Think low-value books or generic reading material.  2. Copies of easily accessible documents: They might even include a copy of your company's registration certificate

[2nd June 2024] Interesting Things I Learnt This Week

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1. The Rubyglow pineapple : The Rubyglow pineapple, grown exclusively by Melissa's, is a mix between a normal pineapple and a Morada pineapple (that's usually inedible). The fruit, which was previously only available in Asia, features the pineapple's typically yellow center with a distinct ruby red colored outer shell. The rare fruit went viral and has now completely sold out by Fresh Del Monte.   My Take : The headlines about these limited-edition fruits are eye-catching, but the high price tag and quick sellout make it a minor story.  The real takeaway is the ongoing effort in genetic engineering to improve fruits – tastier, more nutritious, and longer-lasting.  This type of innovation holds the potential for significant global impact, compared to the more subtle changes LLMs might introduce. 2. Weather Union : Weather Union is a crowd-supported weather infrastructure project initiated by Zomato. It leverages a network of weather stations to collect real-time weather d

Will LLMs help us break the language barrier

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   In a world where knowledge is often confined by the language in which it's expressed, Large Language Models (LLMs) hold the promise of revolutionizing information access. These advanced models can bridge linguistic divides, enabling a more inclusive global knowledge landscape where everyone can thrive. Let's explore how LLMs can excel at breaking language barriers and the challenges they face in this mission. Advantages of LLMs in Breaking Language Barriers Seamless Translation Beyond Words: Current translation tools often miss cultural nuances and context. LLMs, trained on vast amounts of text data, understand the deeper meaning behind words, allowing for sophisticated translations. They capture cultural references and underlying intent, resulting in more accurate and natural-sounding translations that truly convey the essence of the original information. This goes beyond mere word-for-word substitution, offering a richer and more precise communication. Bridging the C

[19th May 2024] Interesting Things I Learnt This Week

1. Complaints are a gift: Seth Godin writes that complaints should be viewed as opportunities rather than nuisances. While they may seem like mere whining, they provide valuable insights for improvement. In the medical field, for instance, doctors often dismiss complaints if tests are negative. However, the true goal of medicine is to enhance patient well-being, not just to pass tests. Though we aren't obligated to heed every complaint, engaging with them can uncover underlying issues. Addressing these problems is essential to our role. Thus, complaints, when taken seriously, can lead to meaningful solutions. My Take :  While Seth Godin often highlights what may seem like obvious problems, they're often the ones we overlook. Complaints can be a goldmine for understanding user pain points, which are key to finding solutions. In fact, I used to find inspiration for improvements in the feedback from various apps I've worked on. It's amazing how many improve

[12th May 2024] Interesting Things I Learnt This Week

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1. How LLMs Work, Explained Without Math : This post by @miguelgrinberg explains LLMs working in simpler terms as well as defining some of the important LLM terminology.  My Take : Now that all the initial hype around LLMs have kind of subsided, educating about the actual tech is taking a front seat. Its a good starting read for anyone trying to understand LLMs. I kind of loved the statement by the author "I wouldn't trust any workflow in which the LLM produces output that goes straight to end users without verification by a human.", which is pretty much on point here.    2. 37 tips from a Senior Frontend Developer :  Ndeye Fatou Diop got inspired by  @abbeyperini's post and compiled his own list of tips.   My Take: These are some very sane tips which all software engineers should follow. These are not taught in schools but are valid none the less. All engineers learn these the hard way, but thanks to Ndeye you can learn is from his post there.  3. Glance App : Gl

[5th May 2024] Interesting Things I Learnt This Week

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  1. Nerves Project: The Nerves Project is a toolkit for building software for small devices (embedded systems) like routers or sensors. It combines Elixir, a powerful programming language, with a reliable runtime environment to make development easier. Imagine building with Legos instead of tinkering with wires. Nerves takes care of complex tasks like networking and device control, so you can focus on the unique features of your project. My Take: This is a very interesting project. Someone like Sun(now Oracle) tried doing something like this for Java and were not very successful IIUC. Would love these folks to succeed. Maybe this will be the turning point where Elixir finds its perfect use and widespread adoption. 2. Bank scam with genuine notifications : A scammer used a badly implemented bank notification to trick users into authenticating and drained user of USD 18,000. Details in the blog post and on reddit . My Take: I had talked about Monzo implementing a very nice mechanis

[28th April 2024] Interesting Things I Learnt This Week

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 1. Open UI :   An GenAI tool test and prototype our next generation tooling for building powerful applications on top of LLM's. My Take: This integration is incredibly exciting! While I haven't had the chance to test it myself yet, it feels like a major leap forward in developer workflows.  I can see a future where more IDEs incorporate similar tools, eliminating the need to constantly switch back and forth to ChatGPT. This would streamline the development process and potentially lead to the creation of even more powerful developer tools.   2. New Vaccine Strategy Breakthrough :  It discusses how it could eliminate the need for yearly flu shots . The vaccine uses a modified virus that cannot suppress the host’s immune response. This allows the immune system to fight the virus using small RNA molecules . The strategy was successful in protecting mice from a lethal dose of a virus. The researchers believe this strategy could be used to create vaccines for many different viruse

[14th April 2024] Interesting Things I Learnt This Week

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  1. Opera adds built-in support for local LLMs - Opera is adding local AI models to its browser. Users can choose from 150 local LLM variants, keeping their data private on their device. This is part of Opera’s AI Feature Drops Program for early adopters. My Take : Locally running LLMs will become a commonplace very soon. It requires not just software but hardware support as well. On older hardware it might takes ages to get anything done. But on newer hardware it will be good I guess. The best software to get them integrated is going to be the browser for most folks IMHO . I was hoping Firefox to be the first one to do it, but I wish they work towards it. I have no hope of any of the big personal computing softwares to be doing it. They will push for only their models to be running and working across devices, also trusting them to not harvest data off it, would be a challenge. Never the less, integrating LLM APIs in browser will open up some interesting avenues for web applications.

The path forward

 Throughout my life, I've often found myself choosing paths different to those taken by most of my peers. Sometimes, this was a deliberate choice, while other times it was a result of the circumstances life presented me with. One instance of this occurred when I opted to pursue a Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science, while most of my peers were flocking towards Electronics. Later, when many of my peers were planning to leave India, I made the decision to stay and eventually secured fulfilling roles that prevented any regrets about my choice. Similarly, while everyone was engrossed in developing for iPhone and Symbian, I ventured into Android and published apps on that platform. I vividly recall attending a mobile conference at IIMB in 2009-2010, where during a talk, I was the only individual who solely knew Android, while others were proficient in Nokia or iPhone. Despite being advised that only Symbian and iPhone would yield financial success, I'm glad to have jumped on

[March 31] Interesting Things I Learnt This Week

 1. MRI Headphones - This is an interesting post about how MRI Headphones work . During MRI normal headphones cant be used at they use metal and have magnets. So there is a simple solution for that, have electronics outside and audio piped through a tubing.  My Take: When I first read about it, I was blown over by the fact that there were headphones for MRI. I have never seen one but then when I read the post about how and why it works, its seems like a no brainer. Its a simple elegant solution which has been invented because of the constraints on the system. 2. How many natural satellites does Earth have : There has been multiple discussion and articles on it. Earth has one permanent moon, but many other objects are temporarily captured in Earth’s orbit. These temporary moons are called minimoons, quasi-satellites, or ghost moons. Some are asteroids that get caught in Earth’s gravity for a short time. Others are pulled in by the sun’s gravity and follow a similar path to Earth.

My learnings at Google

I just quit Google after almost 7½ years. When I had joined Google in 2016 I was exploring to start up with a travel planning, sharing and booking platform. But then when I got the chance to join Google I told myself that I will stay for 3-4 years and learn how Google's culture makes it build products that people love, at scale. Also, their engineering culture was something I had heard a lot about and thought this is my best chance to learn about and implement it in my startup. But then I managed to overstay at Google for various reasons.  There are various posts talking about what is wrong about Google here , here and here . But I wanted to look at its positives and I hope companies adopt it rather than a toxic culture which is brewing everywhere. Here are a few things which stood out for me (in no particular order): 1. Blameless postmortems : Blameless postmortems are a powerful tool for learning from incidents and improving system reliability. The key aspects of it are   a. Foc

[March 24] Interesting Things I Learnt This Week

 1. Ultrasound becoming Utra small - How MEMS technology has miniaturized ultrasound imaging. It discusses the limitations of traditional ultrasound machines. These machines are bulky and require multiple probes. MEMS technology allows for the creation of a single probe that can image the entire body. This probe is small enough to fit in a lab coat pocket.  The article also details the technical aspects of MEMS transducers. My Take : Any and all technology is bound to get cheap and miniaturized over time with progress in science and technology. Utrasound is something which can be thought of a speaker and a mic in very layman terms. These are bound to get smaller over time and be more effective. But like any other tool, this can be misused and the reason for skewed male/female ratio in India can also be attributed to ultrasound. My worry is if this tech is available more widely and portable, it will further skew the gender ratios in India(and probably a lot of other countries). This pa

[March 17] Interesting Things I Learnt This Week

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1. LocalSend : On its website explains what it is, in a minimalist way with just two lines written there Share files to nearby devices. Free, open-source, cross-platform. This is all this product does My Take : This is an incredible app which works across different platforms. I tried it on Android and Linux and my experience was super boring, which is great. This process there is always a market for simple products which just work. I hope this app becomes like VLC player which is another great open source software which just works across different platforms. 2. Arduino GIGA R1 WiFi : A 3.6kW, Arduino controlled, single-axis tracking, ground mount solar system   My Take : Amazing work and all of it is open source. I guess anyone working to setup solar panels should look into this for better efficiency.  3. Oxygen Production at Europa : NASA's Juno mission has found that the ice-covered Jovian moon generates 1,000 tons of oxygen every 24 hours – enough to keep a million humans b

[March 10] Interesting Things I Learnt This Week

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1. Kitten - The Streaming HTML framework - Kitten is a small, JavaScript-based web framework designed for people who want to build web applications easily. It is designed to be easy to use and fun to work with. Kitten accomplishes this by using plain HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Additionally, Kitten supports features like WebSockets, htmx, and Alpine.js. A starter tutorial for it is at https://ar.al/2024/03/08/streaming-html/ My Take:   This is a new framework that I find it very interesting, and it's worth keeping an eye on. It introduces some intriguing concepts, including streaming HTML and a JavaScript Database (JSDB). While this approach seems more suited for small web applications rather than web-scale ones, it might not be relevant for large organizations. However, for hobbyists like myself, it presents an exciting opportunity to try something new. I'll definitely be following this closely.   2. Radicle Heartwood Protocol & Stack -  Heartwood is the third ite

[March 03] Interesting Things I Learnt This Week

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1. New Prompt Engineering Technique using Star Trek references : This is a very interesting and pretty long article which goes into how talking about star trek makes LLM spit out better results.  My Take: The idea of using Star Trek references to enhance LLM performance is certainly intriguing. However, it also serves as a stark reminder of just how much we still have to learn about the inner workings of these complex models. While we can observe and utilize their outputs, the actual mechanics behind their decision-making processes remain shrouded in a degree of mystery. This lack of understanding doesn't deter me from seeking new ways to explore and understand LLMs. In fact, this unique approach only strengthens my curiosity and compels me to delve deeper into their capabilities and limitations. Ultimately, uncovering the secrets behind LLM operations could pave the way for even more innovative and effective applications in the future.   2. StreetPass : StreetPass is a browser

[Feb 25] Interesting Things I Learnt This Week

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1. How a group of birds got their names - This is an article about the collective names of groups of birds. It discusses how these names came to be and how they have changed over time. The names are often based on the birds’ characteristics or behavior. Some examples are a “murder of crows” and a “parliament of owls”. The article also mentions a book called “ The Boke of Seynt Albans ” which contains a list of many of these collective names. My Take: The evolution of names across centuries is a fascinating journey, often revealing a captivating rabbit hole of linguistic transformations. At times, it strikes me that we may become overly fixated on specific details that are destined to fade with the passage of time. In doing so, we risk losing sight of the broader picture. This phenomenon is particularly evident when exploring historical instances that highlight the intellectual contributions of women. Unfortunately, history illustrates how their brilliance was often stifled through fo

[Feb 18] - Interesting things I learnt this week

A few interesting things I learnt about this week are 1. Coffee Stains in LaTeX - This package provides an essential feature that LaTeX has been missing for too long: It adds coffee stains to your documents. A lot of time can be saved by printing stains directly on the page rather than adding them manually. My Take: There is too much fun to be had with LaTeX. I guess the rest of the world missed this wonderful piece of tech completely. These small and sometimes pointless tools are what really make any technology platform stand out among others, not because of the tech but the fact that its users are emotionally invested to build these kind of tech nuggets 2. Meshtastic - Meshtastic is a project that enables you to use inexpensive LoRa radios as a long range off-grid communication platform in areas without existing or reliable communications infrastructure. This project is 100% community driven and open source. LoRa uses license-free sub-gigahertz radio frequency bands EU868 (863–87

[Feb 10] - Interesting things I learnt this week

This is second of my experiment series to compile a few interesting things which I read about during the week. I hope I can continue this for this year at least. 1. Eagle 7B   - The race for better models is on. Gemini from Google is there but its another closed source one. But this one is open source. It claims to have transformers with 1 Trillion Tokens Across 100+ Languages.  My Take: Models are going to be get better in the open source world with each passing day. Very soon we will have GPT4 level models running on our local laptops and phones. The open source is going to be a big part of it. How people build on top of these models is going to become even more interesting. I have not tried this model yet, but I am guessing it will be faster than llama2  2. Text Generation WebUI - This is an amazing tool which starts a webservice on your machines and makes loading and configuring various LLMs a breeze. It will autodownload models once you have given hugginface project name.  My T

[Jan 28] - Interesting things I learnt this week

 This is my experiment to compile a few interesting things which I read about during the week. I hope I can continue this for this year at least.   1. One Pedal Driving : This is an article about one-pedal driving in electric cars. It discusses what one-pedal driving is and the benefits of using it. One-pedal driving allows you to accelerate and brake using only the gas pedal. This can help extend the life of your brakes and increase your car’s range. It also reduces stress while driving. The article also details how one-pedal driving works and how to use it safely.  My Take: This is really nice idea. I drive a smart hybrid which I kind of drive in a one pedal mode. Not sure if I am getting most bang for the buck, but I kind of am used to leaving the accelerator and the car slowing down and coming to a stop where I want (obviously I need to brake for complete stop) ever since I learnt driving first, thanks for my trainer.    2. Reading QR Codes manually - This guide teaches you