Category Archives: the way things are

designing a traffic light

I was thinking about the design of a traffic light this morning while waiting at one. It occurred to me that since their purpose is primarily providing safety, their design would have to include some fail-safe algorithms. Ideally it would require that at any intersection, all traffic lights would have to talk to the others and respond collectively in the event of the failure of any one of them. At an level of a single traffic light, if there is a failure, you would want a blinking light (ideally) and make sure that it does not stay green in case of any failure. At the intersection level, the neighbouring traffic lights must also change behaviour. For instance, the adjacent roads (ones that are at 90 degrees to the failed light) should not allow pedestrians to walk through.

To add a bit of complexity, you’d want to think of scenarios where there are two failures. In those scenarios it is easy to settle for a very conservative solution (turn everything to blinking lights and assume people will respond like an all-way stop sign). And I suspect that traffic lights today follow the same rule as they were likely to have been designed some 40-50 years ago.

It would be interesting to see if this net throughput could be improved while preserving the same level of safety.

What are you made of?

There is always someone out there who can do what you do – a bit better even. Here is an example.

How long do you think you can hold your breath? With some practice, I have been able to do it for 1 minute 30 seconds. Once, I might have touched 2 minutes. I am proud of that –- it took me a lot of practice. But as I said, there is so much more out there!

Diving in deep water is done with oxygen cylinders attached to the back of divers. As the divers descend, due to the increased pressure under water, their tissues absorb more nitrogen than they would on the surface. During ascent, the excess nitrogen is expelled and if the diver comes up too soon, nitrogen bubbles could form in blood vessels. This might cause excess pressure on blood vessels and internal organs, causing extreme nausea, passing out or even death. Therefore, all divers who dive below a certain depth must come up at a strictly governed pace. Continue reading What are you made of?

life’s little pleasures

It is great to know how others associate my (somewhat diverse and unrelated) interests with me. Associations across interests sometimes turn interesting and here is an example.

Last Monday I received a parcel from the couple from the love nest. Well, any gift would make my day but this one was super special since it came from people I love and it came to me when I really need gifts. Sigh! Do you guys get it?

It totally made my day.

The gift is a book. Umm… on photography. Err.. on erotic photography. A few years ago when I was a student of photography, this is where I wished I could be (dreams, right? me agrees!) I am the photographer in the group, I am told. I have also been warned to not to reciprocate the love with any porn or even remotely porn material 🙂 Maybe they don’t trust my taste but that is another matter.

I also loved the extensive use of wrapping paper and sealing tape that took me 10 minutes to take off (was this their idea of foreplay?)

I am still excited over the gift though I have not even read a single page. Madame et Monsieur, you rock!

queues revisited

I was tempted to put up this picture. The queues don’t change much even in the rain. (I posted my reflection on the bus queues some time back).



the queue

I was tempted to put up this picture. The queues don’t change much even in the rain. (I posted my reflection on the bus queues some time back).

I find it intriguing that people prioritise personal space over protecting themselves from the rain :). A contrast to what I am used to.

FYI, It is raining in Helsinki since yesterday and the temperature is around 10 degrees. Ofcourse, in defiance of nature, I still don’t wear any warm clothing. This is all the summer I get in here and I am not letting it go. Aaargh!

funny queue

Take 1:

Take 2, from a little further away:

This morning I could not help taking this picture of the bus stop opposite from the one that I take every morning. Every once in a while, I see a few people standing while looking in the same direction but have never come across such a neat formation. This one was just most natural to them obviously and people fell into this line as they converged into the bus stop from both sides.

Continue reading funny queue

@ 200kmph


in motion

On a trip last week, I took the train to Tampere, a nearby city. The train touches a max speed of 200kmph and I know it since they display it on the screens inside. On the way back after a tiring day full of meetings, I decided to take some pictures of the view I could see. I still sometimes feel “blessed” to see a bit of sunlight after 5 PM! On a similar trip once to Oulu, all I could see was darkness since it was November back then.

So well, back to the pictures I was trying to take at that speed. I noticed that the LCD display in the camera did not show upright objects as upright. They were all tilted towards the direction in which the train was going – which happenned due to the slower refresh rate of the display. The images would not show this slant, however since the time it takes to “capture” the image from the CCD (charge coupled device) to the phone’s working memory is much lesser than the time it takes to process those bits and display them onto the screen.

train in motion
Look at the above picture for example. Since the train was moving so fast, I am sure that the trees closer to the train are not shown in the same place as they really are. Motion changes the view.

nothing but snow
Some of the images were clear enough because most objects in the image were further away. Objects closer to the camera would be more distorted than the ones further away.

All of those pictures are uploaded here. You are free to download the hi-res ones and study them for yourself if you want.

Leaders / Managers

Leaders / Managers, originally uploaded by harindertakhar.

Good managers are capable of tracking the activities of their respective areas of responsibilities; are good at planning, budgeting, evaluating and facilitating their team and its resources. They use the resources they have to their fullest, and regularly discover new ways to get the most out of what they already have.

Continue reading Leaders / Managers