## Monday, July 07, 2008

I made a nice watermelon strawberry lemonade. Pictures shown above. It is an interesting twist on just plain regular strawberry lemonade. I used two cups of diced watermelon, one cup of sliced strawberries, 2 tbs sugar, half cup lemon juice. (I like it a little tart, if you like it sweeter increase the sugar). Blended everything with some ice. Added two cups of water to the mixture, and finally a garnish of mint leaves.

## Tuesday, May 13, 2008

### Managing the layout of figures in Latex

The placement of figures in your Latex document can sometimes be painful. I have recently started using the tabular environment to manage the layout of my figures in Latex documents. The idea is similar to using tables to manage layouts in html documents (before the popularity of CSS).

Here is an example:

Option 1:
\begin{figure}\begin{center}\begin{tabular}[c]{cc}  \begin{tabular}[c]{c}        %% Put figure (a) here  \end{tabular} &  \begin{tabular}[c]{c}        %% Put figure (b) here  \end{tabular} \\  (a) & (b) \\\end{tabular}\end{center}\end{figure}

The above will result in a two-column layout for the sub-parts of a figure. An easier alternative is not to have the nesting in the tabular environment and just have the following.

Option 2:

\begin{figure}\begin{center}   \begin{tabular}[c]{cc}        %% Put figure (a) here                  &        %% Put figure (b) here        \\       (a) & (b) \\   \end{tabular}\end{center}\end{figure}

When the sub-figures are of the about the same size, option 2 works great. But when the sub-figures have different sizes and you want to align the figures a particular way then using option 1 gives more control. The other advantage of using Option 1 is that you can take the nesting of the tabular environment as far as you like. Consider this variation on option 1:


\begin{figure}\begin{center}\begin{tabular}[c]{cc}  \begin{tabular}[c]{c}        %% Put figure (a)_0 here & Put figure (a)_1 here \\  \end{tabular} &  \begin{tabular}[c]{c}        %% Put figure (b) here  \end{tabular} \\  (a) & (b) \\\end{tabular}\end{center}\end{figure}

In the above example we have added two figures in the first column
while we just have a one figure in the second column. Note that this
same result can be achieved using \multirow and \multicolumn within
one tabular environment. The explicit tabular environment is more
intuitive for me and makes it easier to visualize and design the
layout.

## Tuesday, May 06, 2008

### My new webpage

I have a new webpage -- finally!!! Everything you ever wanted to know about me and more can be found in Neha Rungta's Official webpage .

## Tuesday, March 20, 2007

### Nice Quote

"How is it that little children are so intelligent and men so stupid? It must be education that does it."

## Tuesday, February 13, 2007

### Wikipedia - A credible source?

Many of us look up definitions on Wikipedia. Last semester I was in a Multi-Agent Systems class; in my lab reports for the class, I often cited Wikipedia as a source for certain definition and descriptions. So it was interesting when I came across this article on College: Wikipedia Not Source for Papers . I think it should really depend on the professor or the teacher whether Wikipedia is acceptable for the particular subject matter. In my personal opinion one should not cite Wikipedia when talking about state of the art research matters, nor should one cite it in a technical document submitted at conference or journal. I see no harm in citing it in term papers for simple definitions like Condorcet Voting Methods .

## Saturday, February 10, 2007

### India, the next superpower -- why not?

I read an article on CNN
India the Superpower, Think again
. CNN's Cait Murphy puts forth an argument on why India should stop taking pride in its enormous economy growth and curb its enthusiam in its bid for being a superpower. The article contains a lot of correct facts but fails to convince me with his argument. The writer's source of considering India as a superpower is the number of results he got when he googled "India" and "superpower" and not some International study. I googled the exact same two words and looked at the articles that popped up. Even the most optimistic articles referred to it as a "potential" superpower. To see the futility of the source, google "Ghana" "superpower" and you will get a large number of hits claiming Ghana to be the next superpower (Based on the fact Ghana beat USA in the Soccer World Cup in Germany). But Ghana does not have 1 billion people and an 8% growth rate so the writer decides to talk about India.

He refers to the slow growth rate in the first 45 years after India's independence as the "a derisory Hindu Growth Rate". I found no basis for the term "Hindu Growth Rate". If the term refers to government policies, the first 45 years after India's Independence the Left-leaning "Congress party" has governed India and set socialist policies. Only recently we have seen a rise of right wing parties. If the term is referring to the majority of the population well then its derogatory and offensive. It takes a country time to stand on its own feet after gaining independence from another country. After 50 years of America's Independence they were mired in a Civil war. Women got a right to vote much later than 50 years after independence in the US. In that perspective 45 years is a very short span of time for a country to start making headway and post good returns.

The writer presents some facts on the number of children who do not have an education and are malnourished. The children in America battle obesity, guns and metal detectors in schools, and low Math and Science scores (compared to other developed countries). This hasn't stopped America from continuing to be a superpower. My point is, I agree things need to improve but it is not a strong enough argument to support the writer's hypothesis. There a lot of people in India who have a better standard of living than they did 1o years ago. There are no comparitive figures on what "has" improved in India along with the ugly "facts" of how poor and uneducated the people are in India. A booming economy will in turn help people of the country. It takes time for the benefits to trickle down to all stratas of society. So why not take pride in an enourmous growth rate? It has caused others world wide to sit and take notice. With 1/8 of the population residing in the same country, and where each person is driven to prove his worth to the world. To people who say India can't be the next superpower, I say -- why not?

## Tuesday, February 06, 2007

### Guru

I have returned to blogging after a long break. I saw the acclaimed movie "Guru" with the high profile, recently engaged couple: Abhisheik and Ashwariya. I had high expectations from the movie reading the great reviews, it being a Mani Ratnam movie, and more importantly it being based loosely on Dhirubhai Ambani's life. I was fairly impressed by the movie.

There were some flashes of brilliance in the movie that are typical of a Mani Ratnam movie. In a very non-bollywoodesque scene the protagonist is shown very eager to marry his friend's sister for her dowry. There is a very natural touch to the scene which makes you chuckle. Abhishiek's interactions with Mithun after things turn dour between them are also interesting. The sweeping background score makes it even more enjoyable. But sadly the second half loses steam. It does not contain as much punch as the first half. Abhishiek has truly performed at new level altogether.

Given that the Bachans are so close the Ambani family, Abhishiek grew up around Dhirubhai. That probably enables him to play with the role with such elan.

## Tuesday, November 21, 2006

### San Jose = New India

Me and friend have been considering rechristening San Jose to New India. The number of Indians in the bay area is staggering. I was there recently for a conference I really felt I was in India by the sheer number of Indians I saw there. There is multiplex that exclusively plays Indian movies. So for a change I had the option of actually picking which movie I wanted to watch. We ended up picking Don. We got something to eat at a fast food India place nearby. Someone from the town I grew up was there and came up to me and asked me if I was "Neha". We trying to compute that from all the places in the world what was the probability of this happening in San Jose. The conclusion was "Quite High". We also a had a single data point to prove it, so it was decided to be statistically sound for this problem domain. The service was very typical of something you would find in India. No the US sweet and sugary customer service. My friend was asked twice to show her receipt when her order didn't show up. Embarssingly we found it more amusing than insulting. All things said and done, the food was really good, and after Utah it felt like being back home. On the next day I had the best Mysore masala dosa ever. It felt like dosa from a really good South Indian restaurant located in South India and not on El Camino Road in San Jose.

## Wednesday, November 08, 2006

When I saw this video I was confused. Earlier Ponting seems to be having a sort of "banter moment" with Pawar saying "come on mate hand me the trophy". I am willing to give Ponting the benefit out doubt that he was pushing Pawar away as part of joke. Pawar is the president of the Board of Cricket Control in India, and cabinet minister in the current government. A lot of Indian viewers were shocked at this incident. A lot of that outrage has to do with a cultural background of respect and deference to other people older in age and in better social positions.

Ponting has offered to apologize to any Indian official offended by his actions. He should be specific and target his apology to Pawar. He did not mention it was part of a joke or trick being played on Pawar. So maybe he just got carried away in the moment. It is the first time the Aussie's have won the ICC Championship Trophy.

## Friday, October 20, 2006

### CS Enrollment going down

CS Enrollment is going down. Right now at BYU there are 450 undergraduates in the Computer Science vs. 1000 a few years ago. This represents a nationwide trend in the US. So what is causing students to stay away from CS? The most common answer people talk about is the scare of out sourcing. But everybody I know is getting a job before getting out of college. This includes people with bachelors, masters and PhDs which makes it even more perplexing.

## Saturday, October 14, 2006

### Shahid Kapur in a Pepsi Ad

Here is a old pepsi advertisement that came out just after Kuch Kuch hota hai became a blockbuster. Now here is the interesting part, the dorky guy whose "dil maange more" after the movie is over, is none other than Shahid Kapur. I just happened to come across it on youtube and could not stop laughing when I saw Shahid. For people unfamaliar with Shahid Kapur, he is a mainstream actor now and looks kinda like this -- Pic of Shahid Kapur .

## Monday, September 18, 2006

### Mehndi Pictures

When I was in India I got Mehndi put. I had a blast. It was amazing. I am sad I didn't take pictures of how nice the color had turned out. It took two women (professionals) about 35-40 minutes to do each hand (Front and back).

## Monday, August 14, 2006

### Shocked to find Chaiya Chaiya in "The Inside Man"

I rented the DVD for the Inside Man a couple of days ago. It had all the trappings of a movie I generally like. The plot line is about bank heist starring Clive Owens and Denzel Washington. A good thriller is always welcome with the recent of dearth of good movies Hollywood is churning out. More on that subject later. Clive Owens is one of most under-rated actors around. He really gets into the skin of the character he is playing. His British accent adds to his charm ofcourse. As soon as the movie started playing starting with the globe of the Universal Studios thing, I hear in Sapna Awasti's voice "Jin ki sar ho ishq ki chawan, pav ke neeche janat hogi", the evergreen Chaiya Chaiya song, an A.R.Rahman blockbuster from the movie Dil-se. The original soundtrack keeps playing as the credits roll. A remixed version of the song plays during the end credits of the movie too. Somehow to me (I am a prejudiced audience because I hear and see the song in a different context) did not gel with the setting of the movie. I almost expected Shah rukh Khan and Maliaka Arora to jump out from somewhere and starting dancing. Instead I was subjected to some scenes from Manhanttan. Inside Man is a good movie if you have nothing to do or you are a graduate student.

## Saturday, August 05, 2006

### Globalization in a flat world

Before I come to my interesting tibit here is a little background on the subject: "Vegetarian Food on International Flights". On International flights we have to order special meals when we book our ticket because a vegetarian meal is not an accepted standard option on International flights. So we can order stuff like Asian Vegetarian or Western Vegetarian. Plus we have to specify we are ok with dairy products otherwise we get no desert and some excuse for butter with the bread. On some airlines if you request a vegetarian meal they will give you the lowest common denominator that is dairy-free, low-calorie, sugar-free in addition to being vegetarian. No prizes for guessing how bad such a meal tastes.

The last two trips I have gone to India I have flow Northwest-KLM. Last year on KLM instead of bringing us our "special meal" during mealtime the stewardess came and asked, "Would you like chicken or vegetarian curry?". Note this is on a flight going from Detriot to Amsterdam and not some direct flight in and out of India. A guy sitting a couple rows behind us was quite appalled at his given choices. He asked the stewardess whatever happened to the traditional choices of beef or chicken. A similar thing happened this year too. Again the standard choices were chicken or vegetarian curry. The option for the sides were a crossiant or aloo parantha (its a kind of stuffed Indian bread). The guy sitting behind was curious why there was a standard vegetarian option. The stewardess explained since they were getting so many requests for special meals, a.k.a vegetarian meals, it was getting hard for the airlines to keep track of them and manage them. It was more cost effective for them to have the vegetarian meal as a standard option.

This makes you think that globalization in a flat world is very multi-directional. If there are American food chains in India there is Indian food on an flight operated by an American airline flying from the US to a city in Europe.