Friday, August 2, 2013

Crowd sourced decisions, anyone?

With the DRS being lambasted by everyone these days, especially in light of some horrendous decisions in the ongoing Ashes, here's an idea that the ICC could consider.

Crowd-sourcing umpiring decisions.

Let's face it. Real-time media like twitter has cricket fans/commentators/ex-cricketers pouring over opinions about the nature of a decision(out/not out) the moment they catch it live anywhere - stadium, television, internet, etc. They opine their own POVs after watching replays/snicko/hawkeyes. And this operates in fantastical real-time. So, why not make use of it?

The idea I think is for ICC to invest in such a decision making mechanism that lets users vote on every decision *only* when given an option. Of course it goes without saying that everyone gets only one vote per decision.

Some points to consider:
1. What if there are not enough voters?
2. What if you can "fix" the outcome by hiring a load of people to work for you?
3. How quickly?

(1) I doubt if this would be the case given that these days most(okay, I don't have a statistic to back this up) of the cricket watching public spends time online too. Also, the commentators, ex-cricketers are all active in this space as well.
(2) Well, I think there are enough mechanisms already to fight this - like assigning ratings to users based on their past voting history. A good start to such a scheme could be to enlist ex-cricketers, commentators - who are *trusted* - and eventually rope in the general public.
(3) Say 30-40 seconds should be good enough once the replays/hawkeye/snicko show up on TV. Umpires seem to need this time anyways in the current DRS scenario.

Of course, this system is far from perfect but atleast the idea of a single decision making authority making a blunder could possibly be alleviated.

And why shouldn't people have a say? It's their game too after all.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Do we actually cherish photos?

533, 345, 478 , approaching thousand...

The numbers are the sizes of the photo albums posted on Picassa, Facebook and other online photo repositories that I am privileged to see. The sizes are colossal, the events are diverse - friends meetup, baby shower, baby born, marriage, random trip, random clicking, etc. On any normal non-album viewing day, I probably have to register about 40-50 images of the surrounding milieu on my retina (I am not going to scientifically prove the validity of this claim). But 300s and 400s is a tad too many, good enough to create retinal chokage. I can't help but feel exhausted around the 40th or 50th photo (see what I did there?). To alleviate boredom, I then switch to thumbnail view of the album to quickly scan through photos. That way I can completely ignore one set of similar looking photos and quickly shift focus to the next set of similar looking photos. Our eyes are so powerful to grasp these differences, you see. In one instance, a friend of mine actually posted their honeymoon photos which had detailed shots of the interior of the cottage that they were staying in, including the restrooms. Apparently, when they entered it, it was all so neat and nicely laid out. But let's not kid ourselves here, this is no Burj Al Arab's Royal Suite.

After the viewing session is over, I get pings on chat - "Machi, endha photo irukkardhuliye range?" or "Check 186th photo, andha scenery chance eh illa" or "Dei..andha photo la avan semma comedy". The responses to such questions/observations undoubtedly lie in the assumption of me having had a whole-hearted viewing of the album and that the answers are at the tip of my typing hands. But I know that's not true. So, then begins the unenviable task of second-viewing of the album, looking for specifics. Especially the questions concerning photo numbers are tricky because online albums don't number their photos in the thumbnail view(a feature which ideally you would want). So, now it turns into a math problem that I have to solve.

"Hmm...5 photos in a row,  so.. 5 3s 15, 5 7s 35, 37th row, okay 186.."

Let's set the facts straight, we are in an era of uninhibited clicking. It's so mandatory these days that you aren't ready to buy a phone that doesn't have a camera in it(the phone-activity on the phone forms hardly 1% of its usage). The point-and-shoot-ers and DSLR-ers are running amok with the things that they can do, especially the latter, whose actions were hilariously captured by a witty blogger. And the results are there to see.

"Cha..I shook it..". Click.
"I closed my eyes..". Click.
"I want my side view..". Click.
"I am not in the centre..". Click.
"Align me in the corner..". Click.
"Need another one, just the bust". Click.
"Machi..Semma kevalama irukku..". Click.
"One more..". Click. "Just one more.." Click. "Last one..". Click.

If a professional photographer is hired to capture the essence of an occasion, you would expect him to go about doing this business of serial-clicking and finally filtering out the ones that captured the best moments. Logical indeed. But regular lazy people that we are, we don't have the patience to sit and sift through all those that we have clicked. So, as long as my Picassa account allows, I shall just load it up with all that I have clicked and when I am out of space, I shall create another google account and start doing the same. I shall also send these albums to my friends and families for their viewing, ignoring the fact that the sheer number of photos don't cover up for the lack of any sense of aesthetic appeal that the album might have or the weariness that the repetitive nature of the photos might cause.

This is not a polemic owing to my not being a part of some of these photo albums, though I don't deny it partly is. But let's face it, how many of us are so full of enthu to repeatedly look at albums of events that even you were a part of? Most of our viewing happens during the trip/event itself on the 2.5'' - 3.5'' camera LCD screen and towards the end we are already full of it. And finally, it's all "I'll just go home and dump everything online".

I sometimes wish we get back to the good old roll-camera days when albums were a physical possession not a virtual one. We took photos because we wanted to not because we simply could. There was a price associated with photos, literally and figuratively. But now, it's a case of abundant availability resulting in negligible value. There's simply no time nor interest to put an effort into making an album minimal these days, convey it's essence to the people who you want to send it to. It's not as if we did all this before the advent of the digital camera. We didn't have to maybe because we didn't we an option but then we were content with whatever limited number of images we could create. Why can't any event be captured in 40 to 50 different frames? Isn't that enough to gauge how it went and check out the people and the places they were in?

For now, photos is just "yet another online thing we do".

Friday, April 6, 2012

Excellento! Bravo!
Quite an achievement for mainstream media, considering competition all round.

Just begs the question on why we never saw a tweet/blog/news report that went

"Received request from a corporate media manager to broker for them regarding a cabinet post. Refused. Will not be part of lobbying."

Why is self-trumpeting selective?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Daemonizing a script in UNIX

There are occasions when you would want to execute a script as soon as your OS boots.
The point of interest is a script my_good_work written in your favorite programming/scripting language. I have taken the example of a Dtrace script and so my_good_work becomes my_good_work.d for this post.

I describe how you do this in a UNIX based OS (Solaris to be precise)
Demonizable scripts need to be placed in /etc/init.d/. In my case, I created the boot-driver script dtrace which does nothing but sets up the command line for running my_good_work.d with its runnable parameters. The dtrace script plugs into the OS's boot framework. You need to specify actions that need to be taken when the script is executed with start and stop as command line arguments.

For example, I did (in bash)

case "start"
                 // start my_good_work.d script
                 // /usr/sbin/dtrace -s ~/my_good_work.d

case "stop"
                 // kill `pgrep dtrace`

You can find a plethora of examples to do this in the /etc/init.d/ folder.

After this, you need to create a hard link to dtrace and place it in one of /etc/rcN.d/ folders. It really doesn't matter what N is (as far as I know). You need to create the hardlink as [S|K]NNdtrace.
S - Use this if you want to execute the script during startup
K - Use this if you want to execute the kill the script during shutdown
NN - Sequence number that is used to specify the order in which the scripts are executed.

In my case, I did

# ln /etc/init.d/dtrace /etc/rc2.d/S09dtrace

And you are done!

- Creating a copy and renaming it instead of creating a hard link will most likely won't work, neither will a soft link
- You need to be root for doing this entire exercise, because messing with boot options is not a joke!

Thursday, September 24, 2009


In the midst of intellectual tumult, do come such wonderful gems (so, I say since there is none else to say)

cReAtEd him, iNiTialized to JoiN me but he didn't yIeLd. I lOcKeD him up, sElf . He uNloCkEd and eXiTeD. I had to cAnCeLl and TERMINATE.

By now, you should have guessed what this means.

In any case, something that can help to figure out
1. I am a grad student.
2. I have an assignment deadline to meet tomorrow.
3. I still have to go the distance.
4. It's crapping time and what better place than Facebook to share crappiness and get recognised for it too.

So, there you go...

Still can't figure out?
I can't help iy, Google definitely can..
Go find it!