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I don’t Twitter a lot, in spite of having an account which I visit once in a while and tweet at an even low rate. To me, Tweets are too short and too soon; The 143 characters is something too low a number to post an opinion without multiple breaks. Thats just my take and clearly it is different from the large segment of the rest of the world population.

Anyway, I am still wondering what made the Twitter founders to decided on restricting the length to 143 characters. Yesterday, during a dinner party I hear some of them commenting on this. I didnt get the rationale fully, but it was apparently chosen based on some SMS research, using curtailed English words.

I did a few Google search, but nothing quite came with the explanation. The Wikipedia interestingly has a page for 143. Would you believe? As it turns out, 143 indeed has some very interesting properties.

143 is the sum of three consecutive primes (43 + 47 + 53), as well as the sum of seven consecutive primes (11 + 13 + 17 + 19 + 23 + 29 + 31). But this number is never the sum of an integer and its base 10 digits, making it a self number.

Every positive integer is the sum of at most 143 seventh powers (see Waring’s problem).

143 is the difference in the first exception to the pattern shown below:

32 + 42 = 52
33 + 43 + 53 = 63
34 + 44 + 54 + 64 = 74 − 143

The Jnanapith award for the year 2007 was announced in 2010. What a coly cow is this? What on earth is going to be the explanation for this 4 years of delay? Anyway, the 2007 Jnanapith award (for 2007 – Jnanpith Award Announced on 24th September 2010) quite deserving went to one of the great poets of India. This year’s Jnanapith award went to ONV. I am sure, the first reaction many of us had was “it came late. But better to be later than never”.

Growing up in Kerala, ONV was very much a house hold name. Who can forget his poem “Bhoomikkoru Charamageetham” (A Requiem to Mother Earth), which we were exposed during high school Malayalam language class. The poem was written 30 years or earlier and it is in Malayalam. I am not sure whether there is an English translation out there somewhere, but the poet’s pain is in much similar pain as echoed by the girl who presented a thought provoking talk at UN summit in 2008.

One of my friend pointed me to some of the recent Malayalam documentaries, which included one on Bhoomikkoru Charamageetham. Unfortunately I never got to see them. Hopefully, one of these days, I will get access to them. If any of you have access please don’t forget to share.

Recently, this came up during the lunch discussion with my colleagues at Broadcom.  I remember reading up an article somewhere, quoting the impact of birds migration due to cellular phone towers.

Researchers from Research Institute for Nature and Forest, Brussels, Belgium have investigated into this subject and published an article (more reports here). According to the authors (Joris Everaert and Dirk Bauwens),the house sparrows do not prefer to stay near the GSM base stations because the radiation in the 900 MHz range is adversely affecting them. The paper investigated the male house sparrow population. The statistics quoted in this paper clearly shows that, there is some kind of an impact the cellular tower radiation is causing onto the city birds.Perhaps a more scientific study on this is needed to assess the details, but this itself is a reason to worry.

Another interesting blog comes from India, which also suggests that the Belgian research finding is correlated to what is observed elsewhere.  But then, I am wondering how come there were thousands of sparrows flooded across almost every street at Schaffhausen. We had been on a family holiday there, last year. It was the place where I have seen the highest amount of sparrows, all waiting to get fed and pampered! May be they have adapted to the technology, huh?

Was following the latest test match between India Australia test being held at Bangalore. Today is the 5th day and it is heading for an exciting finish. I was glued to  cricinfo for online updates. Cricinfo ball by ball commentary is always interesting with occasional wits and funny side remarks. With lot of online readers and followers, there is no shortage of hilarious comments. Here is an interesting passage on the final innings when India was chasing 201 on a crumbling, and alarmingly reverse swinging pitch at Bangalore. Tendulkar is batting!

Just to give a prelude, if we turn back the clock to 1999, when India was touring Australia. Remember that infamous LBW decision against Tendulkar? The Umpire Harper and bowler Mcgrath? Here is the video snap for your take on the controversy.

Now, 11 years later, the same two counties are playing each other. The batsman is the very same Tendulkar, but everything else is different, including the playing country (Bangalore and not Adelaide), the  umpire is not Harper either. Anyway, here is cricnfo running commentary:

21.1 Watson to Pujara, no run, 129.3 kph, played off the front foot towards mid-off
“When you play for 21 years, nothing is new to you and everything that can happen has happened before. Even the ‘hit-on-shoulder-LBW’,” says Insachwetrust. Imagine the fun if Harper was here to give this one too.
End of over 20 (5 runs) India 104/2 

SR Tendulkar 8* (15b 2×4) SR Watson 4-0-10-1
CA Pujara 43* (54b 4×4) PR George 4-0-21-0
19.6 Watson to Tendulkar, no run, 131.0 kph, he lets another one pass down leg side
19.5 Watson to Tendulkar, no run, 129.6 kph, left alone down the leg side
19.4 Watson to Tendulkar, no run, 136.2 kph, shades of Adelaide! Tendulkar ducks into a short ball and gets hit on the shoulder by one that does not rise at all. Watson appeals, just like McGrath did in Adelaide, but Bowden says not out, unlike Harper did in 1999. Replays suggest the ball grazing the bails.
19.3 Watson to Tendulkar, no run, 130.2 kph, he wasn’t in control of this one, reaching for the ball outside off and thick-edging towards gully
19.2 Watson to Tendulkar, FOUR, 129.1 kph, perfect. Tendulkar moves forward to a full and straight ball and meets it with a straight bat, driving the ball with care past the stumps at the bowler’s end
19.1 Watson to Pujara, 1 run, 127.0 kph, Pujara stays on the back foot to Hussey at gully, Hussey lobs the ball towards Paine who wasn’t expecting it, the Indians steal an overthrow
No slips in place, just a gully.

I remember reading this Spectrum magazine at a friend’s house in Zurich, last month. I am not going to reveal his identity any further ( I fear a backslash:-)), but he has a nice habbit of keeping pretty good collection of magazines in the bathroom. The collection includes National Geographic, The Economist, Scientific American and Le Monde. I am not one of those guys who relish reading at length in those hot seats, but for once, I did scan through the hanging Spectrum magazine.

Anyway, the one I wanted to mention is the Spectrum article on “the Internet speed”. The fastest internet speed is enjoyed by South Korea and not the United States. The average speed itself is 11.7 Mbps. When you desperate for the best browsing, now you know where to head to! The list of countries which top the list is a bit of surprise. In Europe for instance, the fastest pal is Romania, the eastern beautiful land which is not really known as the internet bull dog. Switzerland is 10th, which is not really surprising, because I never found the speed less there. The Euro cup live HD streaming was so peaceful that I never had realized the need of TV.

Ah, back to the country statistics! Don’t worry too much if you feel doomed at the prospect of applying for a Korean visa. There are places in US  which are as good; in fact better! If you go by the fastest internet cities/towns, then Berkeley is the place. Average speed of internet at Berkeley is 18.7 Mbps, which is better than the Korea’s national average:-).

All these are published by Akamai technologies. An interesting thing, reported by them is on the trend in the average speed. It turns out that, the average speed has come down, in the recent years. Korea itself slowed down there.  The Korean downloads were 29 percent slower in 2009 than 2008 and they were further 24 percent slower in the fourth quarter than in the third quarter of 2009.

After Neruda (one of the greatest poet of all time, in my book), the first name come to me from Peru is Vargas Llosa. South American writers are always special, for their sheer brilliance in writing. Gabríel Garcia Márquez, Llosa’s contemporary from the Spanish speaking continent,  is more known (who is one of my all time favourite), but the latter is no less in literary genius. So, a well deserved Nobel laureate. New York Times has published a nice report on this year’s literature Nobel.

Via Lance’s blog/Twitter, I came to know that Wolfram alpha can now input TeX. This is very useful. In fact, I believe this is a great addition to the search tool. For someone who is familiar with TeX syntax, it is pretty easy to manipulate with functions, plots and datasets.

This came up again for the nth time, as I hear at various discussions and debates at various places including the internet. But as always there is learning (at least for me) for the taking. Here is a nice and cute summary on the Bayesian philosophy, drafted Radford Neal . Ah, the latest revisit to this Bayesian versus Non Bayesian came up when I was chatting with a Finance friend. I cannot divulge the details of the conversation here, but I thought of writing a bit about the Bayesian inference, which to me is always the formal and correct statistical method (I must admit that, I am somewhat novice to have a strong counter argument, which is tame, but frankly I need to learn more!)

I can never have enough of Aart De Geus, my former CEO who still very much remain as my role model. Every time, I hear something from him, it is inspirational and mind blowing. No wonder  Daniel Nenni is damn impressed by Aart’s presentation at the EDA CEO’s meet last month (A detailed account is here in Nenni’s blog). Well, the point Aart stress is the need of collaboration and more so at these times, where the social networking has spurred by the internet shaping. It happens everywhere these days, more so in research. Many years ago, it was a norm to have single author publications, but things have changed off late. Now we have authors collobarate across boundaries and continents, sometime even without seeing them personally. I think this is a good trend. Everybody benefits. Aart ofcourse was stressing that semiconductor industry need no less. Gone are the days, when discussing problems were considered unethical. In a free world, one needs to be fearless in asking questions. After all,  talking is good!

As always, Aart has that super skill to put things in an eye catching manner. Daniel phrased it more aptly in his blog, as follows: “Aart also introduced the word systemic (yes I had to look it up) and a mathematical equation correction: Semiconductor design enabled results are not a SUM but a PRODUCT. As in, if anywhere in the semiconductor design and manufacturing equation there is a zero, the results will be a bad wafer, die, chip, or electronic device, which supports GFI’s vision for a new type of collaboration between partners and customers.” Beautifully put and phrased.

If you have ever listened to Aart’s talks, it is a no brainier to guess the kind of super presentation slides he makes. Here is the one from this talk (Again, please read Daniel’s blog for elaborate discussion on this). The analogy is the task of finding a vegetarian restaurant without the service of a vegan mother in-law. The point is that, at the moment it is still long and expensive a route. We need smarter ways to speedup (and cheaper of course).  I leave you to Daniel’s blog for further read. It indeed is a fabulous read.

Wireless transmission at rate in the order of 1000Mbps! It was once considered to be  like the holygrail in wireless transmission. Well, now we have the Wireless HD and WiGig, which can scale these mountains.  The new WiGig standard is coping with the possibility of multiple of 1000Mbps. We can transmit up to 7Gbps, albeit short range (in the form of 10 meters or so), all without any wires using WiGig over the 60GHz spectrum available, largely unused across the world. Come to think of it, 7Gbps is hell a lot of data for a tick duration of time. Just about 10 years ago, we would have easily brushed away the need for something like these, because we never really could fathom an application which needs these sack of data. But things changed since then. Now, we have the blue ray players and uncompressed HD video eminent for a wireless transfer to the high-definition displays.

Couple of months ago, the WiGig alliance and WiFi announced a co operative agreement to share the technical specification and compliance testing for the 60GHz and WiFi. So, from a standard point of view things are moving pretty fast. Afterall we seem to have learned from the atrocious delay in the many earlier standard evolution, most notoriously the IEEE 802.11n. A product compliant to WiGig/IEEE 802.11ad is still far away, but there is serious motivation to get the standard spec evolve.

There are two parallel drives on the 60GHz spectrum. In terms of productization, the non standard, some flavour of proprietary solutions are  kind of available in the market.  The Sibeam’s WirelessHD™ and Amimon’s  propritery WHDI solutions on 5GHz spectrum are  available now. On 60GHz only one product (as far as I know) is available and that is compliant to WirelessHD™.

By the way, the WirelessHD™ also published the 1.1 version of their consortium spec. The IEEE spec and WirelessHD™ are now showing no sighs of consensus, which is  abad sign. Hopefully, at some stage these two merge and get one standard spec. My concern is that, in the event dual standard, there is potential interference between the  two standard compliant products. The one chipset WirelessHD™ compliant which is available (not sure whether it is selling) is damn too expensive. So, we need tremendous price scaling down to make these things viable from a business point of view.

The WiGig product is unlikely to hit the market in the next 2 years, but it will come sooner than later. The three main applications of WiGig are  (1) Short range streaming of uncompressed video for HDMI to HDMI devices (2) Desktop storage (which is much like the wireless USB once talked about highly during the UWB days).The much talked about USB3.0 will become an important requirement for this to happen. Intel will have to abide this transition on all processors, which I am sure will happen at some stage  (3) Docking stations: Wireless transfer between monitor and docking station.

Pricing is going to be the single most bottleneck for WiGig to get into the mass market. Under $10 chipset is a bare minimum requirement to have any kind of penetration into the consumer electronic market. Learning from the way, things moved in the past, pricing problem can be scaled in a few years.

In my opinion, the killer need for 60GHz to succeed will be to get serious power savings. The antenna size will be significantly small (because of the higher carrier frequency) and perhaps that may perhaps be a silicon based integrated antenna. To get into portable devices, we may have a solution which stress less on battery. Can we look that ahead now, say 5 years from now?

The new spec has some very interesting features. While it consume 1.6GHz of bandwidth, with multiple antennas it calls for some sophisticated signal processing techniques to scale the 1GHz mountain. The radio design is extremely challenging. Above all, we need backward compatibility with the WiFi. I hope by then we can get away with those annoying IEEE 802.11b out of the box!

So, the days ahead are exciting. It is natural to pose this question: how much more on wireless? As Marconi’ said. “It is dangerous to put limit on wireless”. So true!

It is pity that, I didn’t bother to learn or understand this topic from EPFL. Many a times I had casually walked across and through the rooms where a good flair of this work got done, but never made it to the details. Now, on a completely different context, I came across the paper by Ozger, Leveque and Tse on the capacity scaling. It is fascinating indeed. A gist of this was there for me to grab during one of the IPG seminars, but then it was all misty and cloudy. Over this weekend, I am going to read the paper in a little more detail.

Come to think of it, it may be possible one day, that we can have a realistic relay channel setup. May be future short and medium range wireless LANs. I am going to make a modest attempt and pen down a bit on a possible model in a few days time. I think it has potential.


October 2010
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