About Tarun

I've loved. I've lost. I've lived a little... I've searched. I've found. My heart is brittle... =)

Biking for Multiple Sclerosis

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#BaliBikes is back and this year, I aim to push myself further.
I promise to ride 1 mile for every $5 that is donated towards Bike MS, an organization that helps people with Multiple Sclerosis. Feel free to share this post and help it gain momentum.

Donate here: bit.ly/balibikes

Find out more: http://www.nationalmssociety.org/What-is-MS

 

Ice Bucket Challenge: Just saying

As a lover of science, mathematics, and basic well-rounded logical arguments, I find incompletely supported arguments extremely annoying!

Lately there have been a lot of people complaining about how the Ice Bucket Challenge is the stupidest thing ever. One of the most popular arguments that has gone undisputed in my circle of friends is that the Ice Bucket Challenge is wastage of water while people are dying of thirst in Africa. The inhumane living conditions in some parts of the world are no joke. However, the argument is, kind of, invalid.

Consider this, the flow rate in shower heads in the US are mandated to stay below 2.5 gallons per minute. This is roughly 9.5 litres per minute. Most of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos I have seen involved buckets which were sized somewhere between 4-6 gallons (~14-23 litres).

Most people I know wait a good half-minute (to 2 minutes) in the shower before the water attains the optimal temperature. It is a luxury most of us have gotten used to. That amounts to the wastage of anywhere between 1.25-5 gallons (4.75-19 litres) of water. I am assuming people perpetuating this argument have R&D’ed, theorised and optimised their daily shower routine to the point that their water wastage is far below the water content of the median ALS Ice Bucket Challenge bucket.

I am certain that most people I know do not have water consumption habits that are optimized to an extent where their water wastage on even a weekly basis is below 5 or even 10 gallons (~19 or even 38 litres). I haven’t even accounted for the average toilet flush (1.6 gal. per flush or 6 litres per flush) or cooking habits, or the several other tertiary activities we go about on a daily basis that (inefficiently) consume water.

As for my Indian friends that have attacked the challenge, I have one word for you: Holi! You may not apply cold water to the burned area.

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(Holi is an Indian festival that often involves people throwing color and water on each other. In some parts of India, like my hometown, it is virtually impossible to leave your house on the day of Holi and last 15 minutes without getting drenched.)

Now, getting to the water problems in Africa. Here is a map of Africa:

Africa_satellite_orthographic

You may notice that most places in Africa that are suffering from water deficit in Africa have easier access to water from the Atlantic, Southern and Indian oceans, Mediterranean and Red seas and other lakes and rivers within the continent than to the water in Europe or North and South America. One of the primary concerns with water scarcity is not the lack of water. It is the lack of water fit for consumption. It is not economically feasible to transport water inter-continentally, or even to purify salt water. Reverse osmosis is expensive.

My point is this: There are going to be people who are going to hate. It is the mere nature of social dynamics. But please just think through the arguments you buy into before you perpetuate them. Besides, the social media (accidental) geniuses that made this viral have done an immense job for the ALS Association. I wonder how much it would have cost them to pay for advertising at a comparable scale.

It is, without doubt, one of the most successful pyramid schemes I have ever seen.

 

PS: Some important links

To Donate: http://www.alsa.org/donate/
Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amyotrophic_lateral_sclerosis

Bali Bikes

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I promised to bike as many miles as the number of likes I received on Facebook. It’s not much in comparison to some cyclists, but the 70 mile weekend was a first for me.

Microsoft’s Cortana Gets A Sneak Preview, Looks Like A Circle And Will Call You Whatever You Want

This seems like an obvious, but interesting, development. Can’t wait for more news on the matter.

TechCrunch

Microsoft’s Cortana virtual assistant is coming to its mobile devices in Windows Phone 8.1, and a new set of leaked screens from The Verge shows a bit of what you can expect from the Siri clone. Unsurprisingly, Microsoft decided against using a holographic female avatar (i.e., the Cortana from Halo) as the visual representation of the software, and instead stuck with a small animated circle.

Cortana’s settings reveal that the assistant can be set to suggest things to a user, which indicates that it’s more than just something that works when called upon like Siri, but in fact can offer up suggestions to you throughout the day while you’re doing other things. It can also glean information about a user from their email, allowing it to keep track of things like flight departure times and more.

cortanasettings1_560

As mentioned in a previous leak, Cortana differentiates itself in part through transparency, offering…

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An Alien’s Perspective: Breaking ethnic barriers

Wichita State sees a great influx of international students, and for those of you who arrived in the U.S. and joined WSU this spring, you’re probably still in your honeymoon phase. Either that, or you are slowly starting to transition into the next few phases of being an international student in a new country.

And as you start getting used to the way of life here, you might be more aware of new issues bugging you, whether they are academic or social.

It isn’t uncommon for people to notice social groups that seem to be constructed predominantly of people who share a similar ethnic background. You may have noticed this, or might in fact have a friend group consisting only of people with the same cultural background as you.

It took me a while to notice this when I started out here. My first few roommates were from cultures very different from my Indian culture, and I was lucky enough to get to know a variety of people and ways of life.

So when I walked into certain places and realized immediately that I was clearly a visible minority, it would make me nervous about whether or not I was welcome at that place. There were certain times of specific days that I would avoid some of the common meeting places because I felt unwelcome.

It all went back to the first few times I went into the game room at Wheatshocker Apartments, and I was greeted by pin-drop silence and roughly 40 pairs of eyes on me. The tension in the air was so thick you could cut it like butter. In fact, that might be how I put on five extra pounds. Needless to say, this did no good for my self-confidence.

“Excuse me,” I squeaked as I took off.

It wasn’t until a few months later that I finally mustered the courage to speak to some of the people from the group and realized they were just as confused as I was. We laughed the whole matter off, and that was the end of one of the most awkward chapters of my stay out here.

It is easy to resort to making friends with people you have a lot in common with. And sometimes, this can mean making friends who share your ethnic or cultural background. As an international student, you have the opportunity to meet people and learn about different cultures.

Sure, you might not have much in common with others at first glance, but an awkward first conversation should hardly keep you from forming friendships that could last a lifetime.