Recent Articles

Biking to work in Chennai

Oct 3, 2014   #Biking  #Chennai  #Tips 

I’d written quite some time ago about seriously giving biking in Chennai a shot. I’ve recently joined Pramati technologies in Chennai and have been biking to work (about 9km one way) almost every day for the past month-and-a-half. Here are some observations and an initial attempt at guidelines for people considering biking as a means of commuting in Chennai.

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Two trends towards partial programming language freedom everywhere

Jul 17, 2014   #LLVM  #JVM  #NaCl 

Two common backends seem to be emerging that enable programmers to choose a language and system suitable for their work irrespective of whether they’re developing server side code or client side code. Programmers who develop services that sit behind communication protocols such as HTTP have always enjoyed the freedom to choose the programming language and system that best supports what they need to develop, because clients who use system requirements placed by these languages do not get passed on to clients who make use of these services. Client-side programmers have, however, had limited options when it comes to programming language choice for various reasons, the most significant of which is perhaps accessibility to APIs for doing various things on the client device. Hence if you program for iOS, pick Objective-C. Android? pick Java. Windows? Perhaps C# .. or F# if you’re adventurous. Web browser? You got Javascript. For once, two common performant backends - Java byte code and LLVM bit code - are emerging as the common ground enabling portability and hence programming language diversity.

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Wash dishes. Don't collect garbage.

Jul 6, 2014   #Garbage collection 

In computer science literature, “garbage collection” refers to the process by which unused computer memory is reclaimed for use by a program. Such memory is usually referred to as “garbage” and the “garbage collector” periodically runs to do this job. Though I understand the process to some extent, I’ve never been happy with the metaphor since it doesn’t help at all with suggesting possible techniques for doing the task and is just used to label this part of a programming system with automatic memory management. In this post, I explore “dish washing” as a metaphor for the same process and argue why it is a better one to adopt for teaching purposes.

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Jun 28, 2014   #Mathemusicking  #Children  #Mathematics  #Music  #Cognitive models 

Recent writing in the field of ethnomusicology has re-asked the question of “what is music?”. Christopher Small coined the term “musicking”, which to me expresses that there is no such thing as “music” that is apart from the act of “musicking”. Music and mathematics have shared a historical bond with each other - with mathematicians finding fascination in musical patterns and musicians relishing in artistic construction using mathematical patterns, more recently involving computational patterns. The relationship that both these activities bear to the functioning of human cognition also share great similarities. Mathematicians have long declared the activity of “doing mathematics” as a creative process that is not steeped in certainties, as a naive view of mathematics might suppose. Paralleling that, musicians also often demonstrate intellectualization of the activity of musicking that resembles a mathematical theory of the constructs that they are building. In consideration of such deep connections, in this essay, I explore the parallel thesis - there is no such thing as mathematics, there is only mathematicking - and where I name the joint activity “mathemusicking”.

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Being the change I want to see in Chennai

Feb 21, 2014   #Traffic  #Biking  #Chennai  #Gandhi 

Was it Gandhiji who said “Be the change you want to see in the world”?

There are quite a few things about Chennai traffic that I would like to see change … and where better to begin than with myself?

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Bye Bye Javascript Promises!

Feb 11, 2014   #Promise  #Asynchronous  #CSP  #Sweet.js 

In my previous post, I explored how programming with promises can be made close to programming with values. After some more work on it, and some learning from bluebird, I came to conclude that my brain doesn’t think well with promises. So I wrote a macro for Javascript that expands “tasks” into async state machines that communicate using channels (i.e. CSP). I want to talk about the specific options for error management implemented in the task macro.

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Implementing CSP channels using Promises

Jan 25, 2014   #Promise  #CSP  #Future  #Asynchronous  #Clojure 

Promises are the new old thing in the land of Javascript async abstractions, though they aren’t as good as CSP-style channels for async programming. In this post, I describe a channel implementation based on promises that attempts to bring some CSP-style programming abilities into the JS world … now, instead of in ES6.

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Anchoring time in the body - 2nd edition

Oct 3, 2013   #Tala Keeper  #Metronome  #Layam  #Training 

In part-2 of How to Practice Carnatic Music with a Metronome, I described some beginning exercises for the vina that combine meditation with practice of basic right hand plucking techniques that need early mastery. I described five such exercises for anchoring the flow of musical time in the body through breathing.

One problem with having so many exercises is that it isn’t clear to beginner students which one to pick that’s right for them .. and, to be fair, neither did I have a clear idea of which one would be good for beginners – if I were to pick one. Now that some time has passed since I came up with those exercises and some students have had the chance to try them out, I do have a better idea and I can suggest one.

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How to practice Carnatic music with a metronome - Part 3: Role Inversion

Sep 29, 2013   #Tala Keeper  #Metronome  #Layam  #Training 

Status: Draft

In part-1 and part-2, I covered some very basic techniques for “anchoring time in the body”. In this part, I illustrate a technique for practice that I call “role inversion” with a pallavi as an example.

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How to practice Carnatic music with a metronome: Part 2: The (real) basics

Sep 12, 2013   #Tala Keeper  #Layam  #Training  #Metronome 

Status: Draft

Part 1 presented internalizing “layam” or musical time as the practice goal for working with a metronome. In the course of teaching vina, I realized that practice with a metronome already requires a sense of time and if this has not been nurtured initially, it can lead to an aversion to practicing with one to gain mastery over time and an unhealthy reliance on it, even if warned as I did with Part 1.

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