Manage your time: The Pomodoro technique

The best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time!

In the every new year, every new month, every new week and in the every new dawn, we all have certain plans to achieve or finish something. Obviously, all most none of us ever achieved anything as we planned. Whether it’s about finishing a report or finishing a code, we usually procrastinate and at the end of certain time frame we regret ourselves and filled with guilt and grief. The main reason for such a failure is due to the improper time management. There are many proposed techniques and methods which are expected to increase the individual productivity and satisfaction.

The pomodoro technique is one such a method followed by many all over the world. It was proposed by Francesco Cirillo in 1994 and from then many workshops, seminars and papers are conducted and published to spread the effectiveness of the technique. Of course, it seems many people benefited by the technique. The idea is to split your work into many pieces of time frame (a pomodoro), say for example 25 minutes. You just have to focus on one work in that time. After 25 minutes you can take a break for 3–5 minutes, then you back to another pomodoro and a pomodoro cycle continues up to 4 such pomodoro’s. After that you can take a long break which can lasts up to 15–30 minutes.

In order to follow this technique, all you need is a timer, few papers and a pencil or pen. For to be more efficient, first make a time table, which may like, working hours: 8:30 to 1:30 and 2:30 to 5:30. So, you should use this technique only during the working hours and it is inefficient for leisure time activities. Now you have to time-boxing your to do’s which is supposed to be done with in the working hours. Usually, as I said earlier, a pomodoro time can be of 25 minutes (it is considered as the most effective). But you can vary it between 15–40 minutes or even higher or lesser. The rule is once you fixed your pomodoro time you shouldn’t change it for different pomodoro’s. For example it is not valid that first pomodoro is about 30m and second is about 45m. The time should be a constant. Now you can allot number pomodoro’s to finish a particular task.

For example you have to finish a article and for that you may need 2 hours. So, you can allot 4 pomodoro’s (if it is 30m) and every 30m you should take break between 3–5m. In the break time you shouldn’t neither think about the work which you’re currently doing nor allotting that time for some other tasks like calling someone. The break period is especially to recreate yourself. In such a way, once four pomodoro’s (a session) are completed you should take a break of length 15–30m. An important rule is that, your task shouldn’t exceed not more than 5–7 pomodoro’s. If it exceeds, split it to fit less number of pomodoro’s. For example, to complete a report you may need 20 pomodoro’s. So split the work into your to do list like, for introduction 4 pom’s, for methods 2 and results and conclusion 5 and so on. It makes you more efficient and productive. Note down the number of pomodoro’s required to complete the work by an ‘X’ mark (or by some other mark, that you like). For example, your to do list make look like this:

Jan 10, 2016

1. Write introduction	RP: X X X AC: X X X
 2. Check for references RP: X AC: X X
 3. Finalize the intro part RP: X X AC: X X

Here, RP is required or alloted pomodoro’s where as AC is the actual number of pomodoro’s taken to complete the task. It could be very useful to analyze your productivity at the end of the day.

A pomodoro should complete without any interruption. If it interrupts, the pomodoro is not valid and you have to start your timer from the beginning. If your task is about to complete in a minute and if the timer rings, you have to stop your work and should take a break. In a case like, the things can be done within few minutes of a pomodoro, you start the timer at the right time finish your work and go through it again and look for some improvements. Remember, a pomodoro should always be completed. Else, if you’re pretty sure that work is completed, you can abandon the pomodoro and shouldn’t mark X for the completion in the to do list. So, take few minutes break (again!) and go to the next pomodoro.

Of course, there would be distractions. It may either internal or external. When you start a work, you, yourself think that you forgot to do something, like you supposed to send a mail to your boss and something like that. In such a case, write down those things under your to do list and go back to the work which you have started and focus on it. The point is in real life up to 99.99% there is no such a thing called immediate urgency. The interruptions that you have added under the to do list can be considered during your long breaks. If they really seems valid (most of the times not!) you may add them to your to do list and can add some pomodoro for them. Or even you can postpone to next day or to the weekend. If there are many small tasks which can not constitute a pomodoro you can sum up them all and allot a single pomodoro for them.

In the another case, externally some may come to meet you for some discussion and may be for some collaborative work. In that scenario, use The Inform, Negotiate, Call Back Strategy. When you approached by someone, inform them that you’re bit busy and depending upon your pomodoro cycle status you can tell them, I’ll catch you after 30m or so. And the important part is after the cycle (during the long break) call them, and depending upon the situation you could either allot them a pomodoro or allot some other time in that week (or in that year!).

At the end of the day, you should analyze your pomodoro’s and estimate your productivity. You may have qualitative or quantitative estimation error. i.e., your allotment may not enough to complete the task or you may have extra time. By analyzing your chart you could make better estimations. It is always better to use simple tools like a paper and pen for the list and chart preparation. For somebody its hard to note down everything. They may try to remember the things at the end of the day and to evaluate their productivity.

Of course you may look for some digital assistance, like a spread sheet or even a simple notepad. Some softwares like gnome-pomodoro are available for desktops and laptops (apt install gnome-shell-pomodoro in Ubuntu Gnome) and many mobile applications like Pomodoro timer is also available. But in the end, the idea is that you should have a time table, you should have a to do list and you should have split your to do’s into many pomodoro’s. And you have to mark down each and every pomodoro (even the abandoned ones) and have to analyze the things at the end of the day. This technique can also be effectively used for a pair, group and even by organizations. For more details look here.

Rules and Glossary

  1. A Pomodoro Consists of 25 minutes Plus a Five-Minute Break.
  2. After Every Four Pomodoros Comes a 15–30 Minute Break.
  3. The Pomodoro Is Indivisible. There are no half or quarter Pomodoros.
  4. If a Pomodoro Begins, It Has to Ring: If a Pomodoro is interrupted definitively — i.e. the interruption isn’t handled — it’s considered void, never begun, and it can’t be recorded with an X.
  5. If an activity is completed once a Pomodoro has already begun, continue reviewing the same activity until the Pomodoro rings.
  6. Protect the Pomodoro. Inform effectively, negotiate quickly to reschedule the interruption, call back the person who interrupted you as agreed.
  7. If It Lasts More Than 5–7 Pomodoros, Break It Down. Complex activities should be divided into several activities.
  8. If It Lasts Less Than One Pomodoro, Add It Up. Simple tasks can be combined.
  9. Results Are Achieved Pomodoro after Pomodoro. If not, The Next Pomodoro Will Go Better.

Pomodoro. Kitchen timer used to measure 25-minute intervals. The name of the Technique comes from the first timer used which was shaped like a tomato (pomodoro in Italian).

Time-boxing. With this technique, once a series of activities has been assigned to a given time interval, the delivery date for these activities should never change. If necessary, the unfinished activities can be reassigned to the following time interval.

Qualitative estimation error. This error occurs when all the activities needed to reach a certain goal haven’t been identified.

Quantitative estimation error. This error occurs when the estimation of a single activity (or set of activities) is higher (overestimation) or lower (underestimation) than the actual effort.

Best of 2016

At the end of year every magazines, websites, blogs and newspapers publishes a list of best things of that year. So, here are my bests of 2016. The choices not based on expertise but on my personal preference.

Best photo of the year: Anyone, who visited Thiruvanaikaval, surely knows her. She is Akila and this is my favourite picture of her captured by Ethirajan.

Akila: Have a seat and look around

Best research article of the year: Optofluidics of Plants by Demetri Psaltis et al. (DOI: 10.1063/1.4947228). This paper explores optofluidic mechanism which can be used for the understanding of how plants function. Apart from its technical significance, the authors explained the things in a manner, so that even a graduate student with slightest idea about either optics or plant physiology can understand most of its parts.

Best article of the year: Who was Ramanujan? URL An excellent article depicts the life and times of great mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan. In addition, photographs of the original manuscripts makes this article to be considered as the primary intro material to anyone who wish to know about Ramanujan.

Best news media of the year: Modern media behaves as news makers rather than news breakers. In such a scenario, unbiased opinions are essential to explore the truths underneath the facts. And I hope, Wire serves best in that case.

Best cartoon of the year: Cartoon by Surendarnath in The Hindu.

Best meme of the year: Source Unknown. Shared in Facebook.

Best social media of the year: Created by the founders of twitter, Medium offers blogging solutions. Even though it is similar to wordpress and blogger, the UI is awesome with features like time to read and highlighting and sharing options.

Best moment of the year: Dhoni’s ultra fast stumping in ICC T20 match (March, 2016) vs Bangladesh.

Star of the year: P. V. Sindhu: The fourth Indian and the first Indian women to clinch a silver in Olympics.

Best book of the year: From the fishing hamlet to red plant: India’s Space Journey — Even though there is much of technical details, which may tired a layman, the book portraits the stories of hurdles and success of an institution built on the modern India.

Best fiction of the year: Farthest Field: An Indian Story of the Second World War by Raghu Karnad. This is the first book of the author, narrates the lost epic of India’s war, in which the largest volunteer army in history fought for the British Empire, even as its countrymen fought to be free of it. It carries us from Madras to Peshawar, Egypt to Burma-unfolding the saga of a young family amazed by their swiftly changing world and swept up in its violence.

Best short story of the year: Set in Buenos Aires, the story ‘Disappearances’ by KJ Orr, excavating the mind of a retired plastic surgeon while he observing a particular waitress in a cafe. This story was selected as the best national short story by BBC (The author resides in London).

Best literature magazine of the year: Even though many literature magazines are in Tamil, Thadam by Vikatan group joined as special one in the list. Released by a big media offers a great opening. But still it acquires trust by bringing the variety of things to limelight which are hardly noticed by the mass such as painting, sculptures, poems, technical overviews on cinema, dalit literature etc. This makes thadam as the best among the others.

Best tamil movie of the year: Andavan Kattalai by ‘Kaka muttai’ fame Manikandan. In tamil cinema, the hero is usually depicted as a middle class man. But, he is so masculine to challenge the minister of a state and the heroine should fall in love with him, even if he is a beggar. In such a scenario, telling a story of a real common man with real life incidents should be applauded. A special congrats to the director for showing the lead female character as bold and intellectual, which is very rare in Indian cinema.

Best hollywood movie of the year: Don’t breathe by Fede Álvarez. Just with few characters and an excellent screenplay, the film brought the viewers to the edge of the seat.

Best movie of the year: Kammatipaadam by Rajeev Ravi. The film centres on Kammatipaadam, a slum locality in Ernakulam, Kerala. It focuses on how the Dalit community was forced to give up their lands to real-estate mafias and how modern urbanization of Kochi metro-city took place over the plight of the Dalits.

Best song of the year: Ae zindagi in Dear Zindagi movie composed by Amit Trivedi and Ilayaraja. Sung by Arijit Singh.

Best game app of the year: Atomas: Require some little chemistry knowledge, you have to build new atoms by combining the available atoms with certain rules. Perfect entertainment for hours with less phone resources make it awesome.

Best productivity app of the year: Google Keep: A simple sticky notes with great features like place reminder, hand written notes etc. Since it is available as chrome extension too, you can keep and view notes across your devices.

Best travel app of the year: Trainman: The app is initially released and majorly considered for PNR prediction. But it has more interesting features like auto upcoming train reminder, train running status update and train speed calculator etc.

Best e-reader app of the year: eReader Prestigio: With extended support to almost all forms of the text, this app provides complete solution to android e-book reading requirements. It can voice your text (Indic language support is not available!), adjust the brightness to optimum level and offers options like, font style and size changes, text and background colour etc.

Best tools app of the year: CamScanner: With an android phone, conventional scanners are not required any more. This app provides professional level scanning of documents with pdf and image options.

Best photography app of the year: Google Snapseed: With professional photography editing tools and special filters makes this app to the top position among the similar apps.

Best messenger app of the year: Telegram: Probably this is the only app available as open source with high security options. The speed of the app is so fast and much better than whatsapp. An unique feature is that it is available for all platforms so that you can use the app (simultaneously) in all your devices ranging from Apple iphone to p4 desktop system. The only limitation is that it doesn’t have a calling facility but the variant of the same app ‘voicegram’ can be used for that purpose.

Best fitness app of the year: Pedometer: Among many huge fitness apps, this simple, small and smart app just measures your footsteps over a particular time and displays the number of calories burned, walking speed and distance.

Best multimedia app of the year: VLC: This is the default app for many in their laptops and desktops for multimedia requirements. For android, VLC moved to a stable version from beta in this year. As usual the app is awesome and you can download the subtitles on the go, or watch youtube videos. An extra feature is that it can play songs or videos from directories directly!

Best smartphone of the year: Moto G 4th Gen: I’m a big fan of Moto. So this may be biased. But with stock OS and excellent finishing (to know the level of finishing just check the volume and power keys of the device!) Moto G4 rocks.

Best laptop of the year: Lenovo Yoga (i5): This super slim laptop with excellent performance and specs with affordable budget makes it top of the list.

Best OS of the year: Apricity OS: A derived version of Arch linux, the OS offers super speed and excellent linux experience.

Thats the end of the list. Any suggestions or opinions? Please comment below.

A Tribute To A Magician

Martin Gardner is well known for his famous ‘Mathematical Games’ articles in ‘Scientific American’ magazine. He contributed that column for almost twenty years. It seems intellectual youths of the period between later 50s and early 80s enjoyed much of his puzzles.

For me, Writer Sujatha introduced Martin Gardner in his famous ‘Katrathum Petrathum’ series in Vikatan. In one of the article, if I remembered correctly, while telling the ‘Lady or the Tiger’ story (I hope every one knows that story and its mathematical significance!) he told about Gardner and his famous ‘Mathematical Games’. Later, I found his ‘My best Mathematical and Logic Puzzles’ in central library of Karur. But the book is in reference section and I supposed to write down some problems everyday and tried solve it. Obviously, I even don’t understand most of the puzzles and give-up within a week.

Then during my under-graduation days, I once again gone back to Gardner, when one of my Math professor talk about recreational mathematics during an lecture. This time, I’m capable of solving many of his problems and got addicted to such puzzles. This practice fairly helped me while attending an bank exam (Cleared that exam but luckily or unluckily I opt to do Ph.D rather than to become a teller!).

Then, puzzles and Gardner gone into the thin air for many years. Few days ago, I don’t know how but, while searching some random stuff, I once again came across Gardner and found an interesting book, ‘Martin Gardner in the 21st Century’ by MAA (Mathematical Association of America).

Martin Gardner : The Puzzle Man (1914–2010)

Even though its a tribute edition, the book discussing the solutions of some of his famous problems, rather than discussing his contributions or his biography. Some interesting articles of Gardner are also included. Non mathematician may feel prosaic while reading the text, yet its a good book to give a try. At least one could wonders the usability and applicability of Maths in different arena.

To seek your attention towards the book, let me to tell you two tricks discussed in the book (Demonstrated!). First one is a coin trick named as three penny trick in the text. Consider three coins, which are placed in a row. You’re blindfolded and requested to assemble the coins in a way either all heads or all tails. The only condition you know is that there should be at least one head and one tail in the sequence. The idea is to flip the left coin first then the middle coin. Now check with the spectator, whether the required condition is reached. If not, go for one more left flip. Now it should be aligned in a way as requested, independent of whatever be the initial position. It may seems so simple. But when you replace the coins by cups and a question with the condition of at least three flips to achieve all-ups or all-down could be interesting.

The second is a card trick. Take about 15 cards and arrange them as 5 piles with each pile consists of random number of cards (say 4,1,1,5,4). Now remove one card from each pile and place the removed cards as a new pile. If the piles are arranged in a row, the new pile can be placed anywhere in the row, front, middle or at the end. Repeat the process, after ’n’ number of iterations, you always end up with an arrangement of 5,4,3,2,1. Depending upon the initial arrangement, the ’n’ may vary. But always end up with the above order!

Some more interesting problems such as Courier problem, RATWYT and Monty Hall Problem (MHD) are discussed in the book (There are three doors and opening one particular door would leads you to a car. Another two will leads to a goat. Now you allowed to choose one door, say A. Then either one of the other two doors will be opened, but not the door with a car. After this you have an option to switch from your selection. Even though it seems 50–50 problem, its not actually. There are many famous solutions available for this problem.).

Gardner not only wrote about Maths and Maths articles. He had wrote two novels, many books on magic and many short stories. Two of such short stories are also included in the book. The last one (both in the book as well as by Gardner himself) ‘Superstrings and Thelma’ is enough to showcase the Gardner’s writing skills to captivate the reader.

The only book reviewed by Gardener is also included in this collection. The book’s ‘name is ‘popco’ and in which the grandfather of lead character was influenced by Gardner. It is such a modest and appreciable review with the summary of the novel (He doesn’t disclose the climax). He complains about only one thing, about the usage of ‘f’ word through out the text!

With lot of maths the book may persuade somebody towards the subject. For others, especially those who interested in early bird numbers, flexagons or how to find the cube root of 52367419803 or any equivalent number in seconds may try once.

தமிழ் கவிதை

ஏறத்தால இரண்டாயிரம் ஆண்டு பாரம்பரியமிக்க தமிழின் தற்கால புதுக்கவிதைகள் பற்றி எனக்கு தீராத சந்தேகங்கள் பலவுண்டு. அவற்றில் முதன்மையானது, நிசமாலுமே அவையெல்லாம் கவிதைகள் தானா என்பது.

தாய் தமிழ்னாட்டில், போலி ரேசன்கார்டு நபர்கள், வந்து குடியேறிய பீஹார்காரர்கள் உட்பட ஏறத்தால, ஏழு கோடி பேர் கவிதைகள் எழுதுவதாக ஒரு புள்ளி விபரம் சொல்லுகின்றது. வெளியிடும் ஊடகங்களைப்பொருத்து மூன்று வகையிறாவாக பிரிக்கலாம். ஆனந்த விகடன், குமுதம் மற்றும் தினசரிகளின் ஞாயிறு மலர்கள் போன்ற வெகுஜன ஊடகங்களில் எழுதுபவர்கள். மொத்தமே பத்து பேர் தான் படிக்கும் தடம், உயிர்மை, காலச்சுவடு போன்ற வந்த, வரவிருக்கின்ற, நின்ற, நிற்கவிருக்கின்ற இலக்கிய இதழ்களில் எழுதுபவர்கள். இவர்கள் தவிர்த்து ஓர் ரகசிய இயக்கமும் உண்டு. தானே எழுதி, தன் தாய்க்கும் தாரத்துக்கும் கூடத்தெரியாமல், ரகசியமாய் தானே படித்து ரசிக்கும் ஒரு கூட்டமும் உள்ளது. ரகசிய இயக்கம் குறித்து நாம் அஞ்ச தேவை இல்லை. இலக்கிய பத்திரிக்கைகளில் வரும் கவிதைகளை அவற்றின் ஆசிரியர்களே படிப்பதில்லை என்பதால், அவற்றாலும் சிக்கல் இல்லை. ஆனால், வெகுஜன பத்திரிக்கைகளில் கவிதை எழுதி இலக்கியத்திற்க்கு சேவை செய்யும் சிலரால், தொற்றுநோய் ஒன்று வேகமாக பரவி வருகின்றது. (இவன் எழுதி இருக்கற மாதிரியே நேத்து டாய்லெட்ல இருக்கும் போது நாமக்கும் ஓன்னு தோனுச்சே.. அடுத்த தடவ அத அப்படியே அனுப்பிட வேண்டி தான்!)

சுஜாதா ஒரு முறை எழுதியிருந்தார், புத்திசாலித்தனமான வரிகளை உடைத்து வைத்தால் அது கவிதை அல்ல என்று. ஆனால் இன்று கவிதை என்று எழுதப்படும், பெரும்பாலானவை வெறும் வார்த்தை விளையாட்டுத்தான். விகடனின் இந்த வார இதழில் வெளிவந்துள்ள (90ம் ஆண்டு சிறப்பிதழ்) கவிதை இது. “திருமண தகவல் மையம் சென்றிருந்தேன். அநேகம் பெண்கள் சீசர் போல் நெப்போலியன் போல் ஒருவன் வேண்டும் என்றிருந்தார்கள். நேற்று ஒரு நெப்போலியனையும் ஒரு சீசரையும் தெருமுனையில் பார்த்தேன். விவாகரத்தான அவர்கள் தனியாகத்தான் இருந்தார்கள்.” படித்து முடித்த உடன், “கவிதையா?? இது கவிதையா??” என நானே கேட்டுக்கொண்டு இரண்டு முறை சுவரில் முட்டிக்கொண்டு (வேறு என்ன செய்வது?) அடுத்த பக்கத்துக்கு சென்றேன். வாசகர் கவிதைகளை பிரசுரிப்பது எப்போது தொடங்கியது எனத்தெரியவில்லை. ஆ.மு.வில் (ஆன்ட்ராயிடுக்கு முன்பு) கவிதை உதித்தால்(!) உடனே ஒரு 25 பைசா போஸ்டுகார்டு வாங்கி எழுதி ஏதாவது ஒரு பத்திரிக்கைக்கு அனுப்பிவிடுவார்களாம். கவிதை வந்தால் தமிழுக்கு சிறப்பு, வராவிட்டால் வரலாற்றுப்பிழை. ஏதோ தமிழுக்கு என்னால் ஆன சேவையாக 25 பைசா என்பது உள்ளிருக்கும் நீதி.

இமெயிலும் வாட்ஸ் அப்பும் வந்த பிறகு, தமிழுக்கான சேவை வரி நின்றது தான் மிச்சம். ஆசிரியர்கள், செயலியிலேயெ முடிவெடுத்து அச்சுக்கு அனுப்பி விடுவதாக பேச்சு. கவிதைகள் அளவுக்கு கட்டுரைகளோ, கதைகளோ, நாவல்களோ எழுதப்பட்டதாக தெரியவில்லை. காரணம் எளிதானது. மற்றவை எழுத கொஞ்சமாவது விசயம் வேண்டும். சிறப்பாய் வேண்டுமெனில் அனுபவம், அறிவு, பொறுமை தேவை. ஆனால், இவை ஏதும் கவிதை எழுத தேவை இல்லை என்பதால் தான், “மொட்டை மாடி நிலா பால்கனியில் கலா

வந்ததே காதல் விழா” என கவிதை செழிக்கின்றது.

தமிழின் ஆகச்சிறந்த கவிதைகள் எழுதி முடிக்கப்பட்டு விட்டன என்பது என் எண்ணம். ஆகவே கவிதை எழுத கை அரித்தால், கம்பராமயணத்தையோ, கபிலரையோ படிக்கலாம். படித்தபின்னும், நமநமப்பு இருப்பின் நிச்சயமாக எழுதலாம். சமீபத்தில், பெண் கவிஞர்கள் குறித்து ஜெயமோகன் தடம் இதழில் (செப்டம்பர், 16) “அவர்களுக்கு (பெண்கள்) தீவிர வாசிப்பு இருப்பதில்லை. அதனால் படைப்பில் ஆழம் இருப்பதில்லை” என்றிருந்தார். ஆண்டாளில் இருந்து இன்றைய தமிழ்நதி, பரமேஸ்வரி போன்றவர்களின் தீவிர ரசிகன் என்ற முறையில் இந்த கருத்தில் எனக்கு உடன்பாடு இல்லை. மாறாக, இதை பொதுவாக வைக்கலாம். நல்ல கவிதை படைக்க நல்ல வாசிப்பு வேண்டும் என்பதாக. 9ம் நூற்றாண்டின் கடுமையான ஆணாதிக்க சட்டகத்துக்குள் இருந்து கொண்டு, பன்னிறு ஆழ்வார்களுள் ஒருவராக உயர்ந்ததற்க்கு, ஆண்டாளின் பக்தி மட்டுமே காரணம் அல்ல. பெரியாழ்வாரின் புதல்வி, அவரைப்போன்றே இலக்கணம் கற்றுச்சிறந்திருந்தது தான் காரணம்.

பி.கு. நல்லா இல்லாத கவிதைகளை சொல்லி விட்டு நல்ல கவிதைகளை சொல்லாமல் விட்டால் எப்படி? சாம்பிளுக்கு மூன்று.

கபிலர் — குறுந்தொகை

சுனைப்பூ குற்று தொடலை தைஇவனக்கிளிகடியும் மாக்கண் பேதைதானறிந்தனளோ இலளெ பள்ளியானையின் உயிர்த்துஎன் உள்ளம் பின்னும் தான் உழையதுவே…

(வனத்தடாகத்தில் பூப்பறித்து, மாலைகட்டி அணிந்து காட்டில் கிளியோட்டும் இந்த பெரியகண் அழகி அறியமாட்டாள், தூங்கும் யானைபோல பெருமூச்சுவிட்டு என் மனம் அவள் நினைவைத் தொடர்வதை…)

தமிழ்நதி — ஆனந்த விகடன்

மாடியை ஒட்டிய புத்தக அறையினுள் எப்படியோ சேர்ந்துவிடுகின்றன சருகுகள்… வாசிப்பினிடை தலைதூக்கினேன் செல்லமாய் சிணுங்கி ஒன்றையொன்று துரத்திச் சரசரத்தன கட்டிலுக்கடியில் பதுங்கின மேலும் சில பெருக்க மனதின்றி விட்டுவைக்கிறேன் ஈரமனைத்தும் உறிஞ்ச வெயில் வெறிகொண்ட இக்கொடுங்கோடையில் எந்த வடிவிலேனும் இந்த மாநகர வீட்டினுள் இருந்துவிட்டுப்போகட்டுமே மரம்.

தேவதச்சன் –

வெட்ட வெளியில் ஆட்டிடையன் ஒருவன் மேய்த்துக் கொண்டிருக்கிறான் தூரத்து மேகங்களை சாலை வாகனங்களை மற்றும் சில ஆடுகளை

Free and Open Source Grammar Checker

Many typesetting packages offer spell check as a default option and this is true even in the case of open source packages like Libreoffice. But anyone looking for a style and grammar checker, always redirected to numerous paid options.

So, one Daniel Naber of Bielefeld University, took this problem for his thesis and developed an open source code for style and grammar checker, which is currently available for everyone in the site The site offers an online checker, and browser tools such as firefox and chrome extensions.

In addition, as an offline support, Libreoffice and OpenOffice extension is also available. Thus by installing the extension into your Writer, you will get a curly blue lines under the text with errors. Like any spell checker, by clicking the corresponding word/sentence you can get the suggestions for that error.

Here I brief the installation of LibreOffice extension in Ubuntu. For stand alone usage consult the website.

Language tools requires Java to run. If you’re using Ubuntu 16.04, probably you have a Java environment of version 8. For those who are using Ubuntu 14.04 or less, supposed to update (or install, in the case if you don’t have) the version. To check the Java version type the following in terminal

sudo dpkg --list | grep -i jdk

The output should show something like, openjdk-8-*. In case if you don’t get anything, you have to install the environment in your machine. The commands are as follows:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:openjdk-r/ppa sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install openjdk-8-jdk

To verify the proper installation once again try the command

sudo dpkg --list | grep -i jdk

In case, if you have some older versions in the system, configure Java to make sure you’re using the latest.

sudo update-alternatives --config java sudo update-alternatives --config javac

Sometimes, there is a possibility of errors due to the older versions. In such a case, it is better to remove the Java completely from the system prior to the installation of latest version. To remove,

sudo apt-get purge icedtea-* openjdk-* sudo apt-get autoremove

Once again, in order to make sure that no Java in the system issue the command sudo dpkg --list | grep -i jdk . Then follow the installation steps, as mentioned above.

Now, go to the site and download the LibreOffice extension file (.oxt). The file can be installed either by double clicking the same or from the LibreOffice extension manager. For the second option, open LibreOffice writer and go to Tools >> Extension Manager >> Add. By choosing the languagetools.oxt file, it can be installed. In case, there is an error (for Ubuntu only), install the following:

sudo apt-get install libreoffice-java-common

You may still need to configure something, if the extension doesn’t works. Go to Tools >> Options >> Language Settings >> Writing Aids >> Edit and check Language Tools. To verify the installation, type (as suggested by the developer!) Feel tree to call. If the extension is working it will show a blue curly line under tree and suggest you to change to free!

PS: If someone really interested to learn what’s inside the black box, can look into the developer’s thesis: A Rule-Based Style and Grammar Checker and for those who wish to contribute the further development, can look into the source at Git-hub repository: LanguageTool.

INO — Myths and Truths

Once again India based Neutrino Observatory (INO) begins to appear in the headlines of newspapers. As a physicist I hope, I may have a slight better understanding than the fellow layman’s. This is what the result of that confidence.

So, long long ago, in the 60’s India pioneered in the neutrino research. First Muon flux density related research article was published from the results collected in Kollar gold mine. Those details are greatly explained by our former president APJ Abdul Kalam in one of his article in The Hindu (Dated: June 17, 2015). Once the Kollar was shut down researchers were supposed to leave the field and are looking to establish a research observatory somewhere else. This begins with 80’s and the proposal was got ready around the new millennium and sanctioned during the last UPA term.

Initially, Nilgris was the targeted place. But then Minister of Environment Jairam Ramesh rejected that proposal on the fact that the place comes under Mudumalai Tiger Reserve. So, that the Potipuram village of Theni comes in to the limelight. Some people worrying why not Himalayas? Why its particularly in Tamilnadu? The answer is geologically simple. The western ghats are much older and much stronger than Himalayas. Also, a single charnockite rock based mountain is preferable and that’s why the choice is Potipuram.

First voices against the observatroy were raised not from TN but from Kerala. The then chief minister Achuthananthan expressed his concerns on environmental pollution due to the constructions and he afraid the explosives used to break the mountains may damage the Mullai-Periyar dam, which is situated at a distance around 100 Kms from the Potipuram. Even though his concerns on pollution should addressed properly, the effect of explosives on the dam would highly negligible. Iduki, the place where the dam is situated, itself running lot of hydro-thermal projects with lot tunnels! Also, I don’t think government of TN would risk on a project which could damage that particular dam. All over the years, TN has struggled to keep the dam and I hope it wont risk on such a sensitive issue.

After Achuthananthan, Vaiko of MDMK party and G. Sundarajan of “Poovulagin Nanbargal” brought the issue to the court and National Green Tribunal (NGT). Even though, both are highly reputed activists and stand for many issues of TN, this time I think, some concepts misleads them.

The following points are the accusations aroused by the INO opposers. (1) It will induce radiation effects (2) It will pollute the area, since they are going to break the mountain entire village will be demolished (3) It will be used to store the radioactive wastes and

(4) It will be used to monitor some rogue nations nuclear weapons, since there is the collaboration of Fermi lab, India doing the things in favor of USA.

Selected INO region in Pottipatti, Theni

Let us to see the things point by point. Firstly, Neutrinos are everywhere, the mean time you’re reading this, crores and crores of Neutrinos transmit across you. The sun, the stars and the galaxies produce much and much neutrinos and they are available every where in the universe. Since they are highly non-reactive, we need a specific isolated place to capture them. Otherwise, there isn’t any possibility of radiation from the observatory.

Secondly, for the observatory a cave of diameter 2 meter only going to carved and with much modern state of art instruments it wont create much pollution in the area. Recently a TNEB project was established in that particular area. Experts say, pollution from the observatory would be much lesser than that TNEB project. Also, locals afraid that thousands of gallons of water will be sucked from their source. But TIFR assuring, only a limited amount of water, which couldn’t affect peoples usual usage, will be utilized for the observatory.

Thirdly, there is no need to store radioactive elements in such a observatory, with this much of huge spending’s, in a place like lone mountain range. Once when there was research activities in Kollar, people thought that DAE hiding nuclear wastes there. But now its clear that no such activity was ever happened. This would suits to Potipuram observatory too.

Lastly, there are natural and artificial neutrinos. Artificial neutrinos are produced during the nuclear fission in reactors. By capturing those neutrinos we could measure the amount of plutonium produced during the uranium fission reaction. (Uranium is used in nuclear reactors as fuel. By enriching the byproduct Plutonium, from the reactor, atom bombs can be made.) It is proposed that (some experimental evidences too available) by setting up a compact, dynamic neutrino observatory we could monitor the amount of plutonium produced in the area of interest (an another fact is that — they are actually measuring anti-neutrinos for that purpose).

But the point to be noted here is, for such a purpose, you don’t need to dig a cave in a remote village. With all these doubts and questions what is the importance of such a observatory? The answer is to know more about a fundamental particle called Neutrino!!!

Initially people thought neutrinos (there are three types of neutrinos) are mass less, but recent studies shows that they could have some mass. Measuring such a things would greatly help us to understand the properties of the particle. Which could, on the other hand, will enhance our knowledge on the understanding of the universe. So its basically a basic science. One reasons for the slowness in this project is not many people would be benefited from the project. A few of locals may get jobs in the observatory. There is feeble possibility of development in that area. So people wonder why this much of spending is essential? The answer if some one asked what is the use of general relativity and quantum mechanics (in the sense of basic science) in the days of their development and restricted the research, now you probably can’t use GPS in your SMART phones!

For more details I recommend the following links.
1. Why India’s Most Sophisticated Science Experiment Languishes Between a Rock and a Hard Place? By Nithyanand Rao and Virat Markandeya on 06/04/2016 in The Wire
2. Going all out for neutrino research By A. P. J. Abdul Kalam and Srijan Pal Singh on June 17, 2015 in The Hindu
3. Neutrino detectors could help detect nuclear weapons in Science Daily on August 12, 2014

For technical documents you could visit here.
1. Status of India based Neutrino Observatory by Naba K Mondal
2. INO — FAQ’s
3. INO — Project Report. Vol. I
4. Jiangmen Underground Neutrino Observatory (JUNO) Project, China

Customize Your LaTeX Bibiliography

Eventhough LaTeX offers wide range of bibliography options — Supervisiors/Editors/Publishers never satisfied with the defaults and here’s the way to meet their expectations.

If you’re an LaTeX user and whenever you’re ready to submit a paper, you should probably come across a request on slight modification of your bibliography style. Something like:

Why don’t you emphasize your title? You may add a semicolon between author names! and so on…

It become so hectic when your journal has a specific reference style and which does not falls on any category of the default bibiliography styles. One way to solve the issue is to type the references as bibilography list like this:


Hacene, Abdullah Al Mulla, Saad Makhseed, Moyyad Al-sawah, and Jacob
Samuel, Fluorescence and nonlinear optical properties of non-aggregating
hexadeca-substituted phthalocyanine, Optical Materials, 32, 108-114


But this is always not so easy. Especially, when you’re supposed to resubmit the manuscript to some other journal, once again you have to modify every thing. So, the better way to play along is to generate your own style file (.bst) with specific contents. Let me to begin from the scratch. When you include a bibliography with bibtex, you typically have a structure like this:

% File main.tex \documentclass{article} \begin{document} \end{document} \bibliographystye{plain} \bibliography{list}

Here the list indicates the file list.bib, which contains the bibliography in bibtex style and the plain indicates the bibliography style to which the input is to be formated. Most of the time you can choose your style from the defaults and they are listed here.

To creat the the custom bibiligraphy style file, open a terminal and type:

latex makebst

This program will ask you questions and build a custom bibliography style. It’s a lot of questions, if you’re unsure just press enter and it will select the default values. At the end it will ask you if you want to proceed to compile your bst file. Once you agree, your specific file will be created. For minor corrections you need not to run the entire program. By simply modifying the (.dbj) file generated along with the (.bst) file can be used for that purpose. Once you modified the things by running latex mystyle.dbj , the (.bst) file can be altered. The complete log file designed to fit the requirements of the journal “Applied Organometallic Chemistry” can be obtained here.

To apply your new style (let’s assume you assigned the filename mystyle.bst), issue the following commands to install the style file locally:

mkdir -p ~/texmf/bibtex/bst cp mystyle.bst ~/texmf/bibtex/bst/ texhash ~/texmf # Make TeX aware of what you just did

Alternatively, placing the file in your working directory will also be fine. Once you have finished this all, apply the bibliography style in the main.tex file.


Submit, grab a cup of coffee, and relax.

Thanks to: Gabriele Lanaro

Windows Makeup Story

This is how to makeup your hate to perform like your love! It’s not a hate story but a make up story!

First let me to swear that I’m a diehard Debian and I never or will ever have an affair with this windows. But sometimes or most of the times (if your guide is not familiar with linux) there is no option but using the cracked windows. So this short note is for those who (like me) expecting some linux flavor when dealing with windows. Some this features are now available by default in windows 10, this one is just for win7 users. First and foremost thing I don’t like in windows is its welcome screen. In Linux (Especially in Ubuntu), you can easily customize your login screen. I personally prefer my wallpaper as the welcome screen. So, if your pictures folder or your picture has the read+write+executable (chmod 777) permissions, your wallpaper would be your login background. Windows by default not offer this feature. But by altering system configuration file you can do that. This link provides those instructions. Alternatively, third party tools such as Windows Log On Background Changer (I prefer this) can be used to simply change the background of welcome screen.

The second and most expected Linux tweak for windows is “open folders as tap”. And of course windows by default not offer this one and you’re supposed to look for some third party tools. Two famous tools are Clover and QTTabbar. QTTabbar is an open sourceware and it is in active development. But for me Clover suits well. (One thing and the only thing I don’t like in Clover is its icon. It’s like a green flower. Personally I don’t like it!).

Tabs in Windows as like in Ubuntu

One more tweak I really like in Linux is “open terminal here”. Surprisingly without much effort, by clicking shift+right mouse button, you will get a dialog box with “open command window here”.

Open Command Window here!

Then there comes our latex. Like I don’t like windows, I don’t like MikTex too. I prefer typing in gedit and compile it using texlive in terminal. Gedit has a windows executable and its working fine, except the thing when you open the second file, it will be opened as a new window instead of a new tab. Like in Linux, installing the complete texlive package is simple in windows too. Download the image file (.iso) from here and mount it using any of the following, such as WinCDEmu , daemon-tools , or Magic ISO . By running the batch file install-tl-windows it can be installed to your system. And like in linux it can be run from the command window (terminal) itself.

LaTeX in windows command prompt

One more thing I prefer that windows should have is, “always on top” option. Like the all above, using a third party tool called “always on top” we can achieve that goal. You have to run this script first, and then have to press ctrl+space bar on an active window to have it always on top. By pressing the ctrl+space again will revert you back.

Patna.. Patna..

Had an adventurous day and explored Patna in depths. Wish to motivate some others to explore the city with some facts.

When talking about Patna, its better to start from its roads. The roads are constructed during the period of King Ashoka and are still in use. If you are lucky some 100s of years old road stones may be thrown at you by the kids playing along the road. The drivers are extremely friendly and whenever two vehicles from opposite directions meet, they have a chit chat for a while. So unbelievably you can ride a 38 kms in just 3 hours.

You can start to explore Patna from its railway junction. From there many buses available to reach a famous place called Gandhi maidan. It is expected to spend your time fruitfully even in your travel. So they are freely teaching some “bowing” poses so that you can aware of how important is self control. Sadly they don’t consider people whose height is less than 4.5 feets as grown up and excluded them from this practice.

Once you reached Gandhi maidan you can start to explore the place from any direction. If you still have stamina even after the bus exercises, the better place to visit is Golghar and this one was built by British for storage purpose. Once you step up to the top of the building through its lengthy steps its hard to control the desire of reaching ground by jumping from there. Some times if more than 5 people are there, you may not get a space to execute your jumping experiment. At such a times they have an another set special stairs to get down.

Patna Museum : Entrance

One of the important place you should not miss in Patna visit is Basantha Vihar restaurant. It’s just near Patna museum but still you can reach there only if you are scored atleast a 90+ in geography during your high school. For those who scored below 90 can follow the guidelines below: Take a left from Patna police station, cross the road, you will see an big plaza, take an right and get into it. Go straight, then take a left, go straight, again left, then go straight; now if you have no problems in your eyes you can clearly see the Patna police station again (unable to see?? Heard some good eye specialists are available here!) Dont loose your heart and now you have almost reached the destination. Take a left again and go straight. Ahh.. You should be excited. Once you stepped in there, water will be provided with in 15 minutes of your entry and order will be taken in another 15 minutes. Then pickle and salt like items will be served by the next 30 minutes and towels and tissues will be served by the next 15 minutes. In such a heavy hospitality your hungry should be already vanished. If you are still in hungry you can check the prizes in the menu card once more to get ride of it.

From Basantha vihar you should go to Gandhi maidan again to continue your exploration. It’s very very near to our restaurant and just by the walk you can reach there with in a hour. From there to visit Ganga Ghat there is shortcut run on the sides of the maidan. If you are tired of the walk, you will refreshed by the sand breeze freely available in the maidan. Once reached the other side, you have to pick an auto, preferably with an old driver. He will teach you the meaning of budhism and the effect of karma. Since Ganga Ghat is a holy place such a lesson is mandatory to enjoy the atmosphere there. Again a 20 minutes of walk will take you to the holy river.

The return from ganga ghat should be by a bus. So that you can understand the basics of crystallography. They beautifully allighned people inside the bus even with their water pots and rice bags. The bus with the capability of carrying 25 humans are heavily doped and converted to carry 4 times than the actual. If you are not happy with 3D packing in the bus you supposed to walk again a 25 minutes to reach our old destination Gandhi Maidan. Apart from the jokes (or reality!!) Patna museum is one of the important places you shouldn’t miss in Patna. Again in a British building some wonders dated back upto 1st century AD is beautifully kept here. Many sections are dedicated to different era with different themes. (Even a section is available for Rahul Sankiruthiyan’s collections!!) Some astonishing Bihar paintings and some Ajantha Elora paintings are available in the first floor. Actually it’s a day out. But a day is not enough to explore either the city like Patna or even its single museum.

Madhavi’s world

Only very few authors can touch your soul, only very few can impress your thoughts and only very few can inspire you. Madhavikutty (Kamala Das) is one of such authors.

Yesterday I was gone through a book with some of her selected works, “Intha piraviyil ivalavu thaan (Only this much, in this life)” translated in Tamil by Pugazhenthi published by NCBH. The book is comprised of three parts: First part covers the thoughts of an elderly women who is miserable of her health, her late husband and people’s critics.

Yet there flows the love and confidence all over her texts. She shares her worst dreams, convey her concern on children, worries about the tress and ponds of her village Nallappattu and her conversion to Islam. She seems like an old pendulum clock, oscillating between her past and the residues of her dreams, yet she sounds beautifully.

She speak about her silence on criticism. She says, “I am an Eagle staying in the nests of Parrots. If I opened my wings the nest will be into pieces so its better to be quiet!”. The second part consists of very few of her poems. She is addressing her worries and wounds of life to Allah.

The soul that know how to sing : Madhavikutty (1934–2009)

Even with some breakages due to translation, still a reader can catch her thoughts. The third part consists some of her short stories. Often her writing is known for her boldness and for openly expressing truth. This book is also have such a nice collection of stories.

I wish to point out three stories from the collection. First one is “Swayamvaram”. Its about an old beggar woman who thought herself as a princess of Avanthi. The story reveals how even in the small world of beggar women the evil hands of society pokes and kill the dreams. The end lines of story will make every male to shy about their role in this society.

The “Red Petticoat” portraits the worlds of two different woman, a mistress and a maid, and their fears and thoughts. “Daughter of a freedom fighter” shows the real situation of persons who spill their blood and spoil their life for the freedom of this nation. They were no longer required for us and they are just a symbolic of some fools who wasted their life.

Finally, after a long time a book impressed me very much, hope you can too like this.

Background Image from Google Images. Photograph by KC George.