Showing posts from December, 2013

My 5 favourite reads in 2013

2013 was an insane year, in the sense that I finally got back to my reading ways, which had long deserted me, following my choice to attend BITS Pilani, over 4 years ago.

Here are my five favourite reads from 2013.

[NB: These are NOT books which were publishedin 2013, but ones which I read in 2013]

5. Flatland : A Romance of Many Dimensions - by Edwin A Abbott.

Flatland is a marvelously imaginative book, which could be classified as math-fiction. My interest in this book was piqued by some personal ideas that I had about dimensions and dimensionality, and while this book didn't further my ideas in that field, it didn't contradict them either.

Published in 1884, and written by an English schoolmaster, this novella recounts the life story of A Square (no really, that's a name). The story is set in a two dimensional universe, where the third and subsequent dimensions are unheard of. This universe - or Flatland as it's called - has some very quirky features, as Mr Square exp…

Isaac Asimov's vision about 2014, written in 1964 : a look back

When Isaac Asimov, the great science fiction writer paid a visit to the New York World's Fair of 1964, he asked himself one simple question -

"The scenes, set in or about 1900, 1920, 1940 and 1960, show the advances of electrical appliances and the changes they are bringing to living. I enjoyed it hugely and only regretted that they had not carried the scenes into the future. What will life be like, say, in 2014 A.D., 50 years from now?

"What will the World's Fair of 2014 be like?"

In an answer to this question, Asimov wrote an essay titled "Visit to the World's Fair of 2014". In this essay (the aforementioned excerpt is taken from the same), he envisioned the evolution of technology in the fifty years leading up to 2014, and gave some stunning insights into how the world would have changed in that period.

I have always been an avid fan of Asimov's writings. His science fiction has consistently been as close to "literally mind blowing&quo…

The Dropbox Delta API

The Dropbox Delta API is a rather interesting API. It is interesting in the way it works, and it is interesting in what it tries to achieve.

Consider a scenario, when you need to trigger an event, depending on some change in your Dropbox account - be it a file addition/creation, a file edit, or a file change. The sad way to do it, is to pole your Dropbox folder, and then check for a particular file, and then compare metadata and so on.

The Delta API takes most of the trouble out of this, by allowing you to fetch a cursor that denotes the present state of your Dropbox folder, and has information about all the changes that have happened in it, since the last fetch.

So, to trigger an event when something has changed in your Dropbox folder, all you need to do is, call the Delta API repeatedly, and check the cursor - and depending on the what the cursor contains, trigger whichever event you want.

Since Python has the easiest learning curve when it comes to using new APIs, let's take a…