Communicating Science and Technology

Author: Arvind Padmanabhan

Learnings from ScienceComm’17 India


Yesterday I attended a conference organized by Swissnex India that was hosted at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) at IISc campus in Bangalore. Although the event was focused on science, the theme applies just as well to technology. Being an engineer, I write more about technology than science per se. Nowadays, the boundary between science and technology is fuzzy and the lag between research and commercial application is also shrinking.

The premise is that science is not just for scientists. Everything that’s discovered and later applied comes back to affect society and the common man. Genetically modified foods, cancer research, climate change, species extinction and artificial intelligence are just some areas of science that people need to know about, discuss and debate. But science and technology is not written in simple language. Use of technical jargon and dense writing are common traits of scientific writing. It may be understood by the scientific fraternity but not the common man. Worse still, if written by journalists who don’t understand science very well, facts can be misrepresented, misquoted and misunderstood. How then can we simplify science for all?

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RADAR Basics

Author: Arvind Padmanabhan

The use of pulsed RADAR for range and speed measurement


In college you study so many interesting subjects that it’s really a pity that you don’t have the opportunity to pursue most of them. You have only one life. You have to choose one discipline to focus on. In fact, to contribute most as an engineer, you have to concentrate on the important problems of your chosen discipline. But when you are starting your career, choosing a discipline is not easy. Often students will look at job availability, growth opportunities, pay scales, and so on. This is good strategy for the average student. But if you’ve proven yourself as among the best, it’s more important to make this choice based on your passion. The question is really not to ask which is a good job but rather what you are passionate about. With passion, and a willingness to learn and work smart, you can be good at any job you choose.

I have always been a communications engineer but most of my career has been about software protocols for wireless communication systems. I never got a chance to work on RADAR, which we may consider as the grand daddy of intelligent wireless communication systems. While radio broadcasting came earlier, it did not have the intelligence that RADAR brought. With RADAR, one could sense the world around without having a line of sight. RADAR was extensively used during the Second World War. Some even attribute the victory of the Allies more to RADAR than the atomic bomb. RADAR in turn contributed to the development of many other technologies in areas of astronomy, medical technology and meteorology. Today RADAR has branched into Electronic Warfare (EW) and to win the battle in the domain of EM waves is as important as winning it with physical assets.

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Analytics for IoT

Author: Arvind Padmanabhan

Key takeaways from Matlab Expo 2016 @ Bangalore


Yesterday I attended Matlab Expo 2016, an event that showcased products of MathWorks, customer case studies, technology tips and demos. As is common in many such events, you are overwhelmed with so much (useful) information that often it’s hard to remember most of them. At the end of all the presentations, demos and interactions with fellow delegates, I tried to figure out a common thread. It was not that difficult to find one given that both the keynote speakers, Richard Rover from MathWorks and Mahesh Mehendale from Texas Instruments, spoke about it: Internet-of-Things.

Pretty much every tech event these days makes a mention of IoT. Often, IoT takes center stage. IoT is definitely changing the way we live and work. This is just the beginning and the coming years are going to see an invasion of IoT products and services in every aspect of our lives, across industries and applications. I pick out three key things that I found useful at this event.

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Essential Resources for Sourcing Components for Prototype Building

Author: Arvind Padmanabhan

Takeaway from India Electronics Week 2016


Today is the last day of the 3-day electronics event at Bangalore. It’s an event showcasing not just manufacturers, suppliers and integrators but also start-ups and ideas from the world of IoT. I visited the event yesterday and I would be lying if I said that I was amazed by what I saw. The event did bring awareness about who is doing what and where we can buy stuff. In this article, I’m going to focus on the latter.

There is a wave of interest in IoT in India. Engineers who have been traditionally confined to writing software, want to get into hardware. While plenty of resources are available to get started, they do not know where to buy stuff or even what to buy. At the event, I visited many stalls that supply components and modules particularly to the hobbyist and maker community. I will highlight these for the benefit of the community.

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Why India Cannot Build Smart Cities

Author: Arvind Padmanabhan

A Call for a Change in Approach


The truth is that India can build smart cities but the way we are going about it appears to be wrong. Today I sat through many talks that addressed the topic. This was part of the 2015 that’s taking place right now. This is the state’s premier IT event that’s currently in its 18th year. The event is being attended by government bodies, industry players, academia and notably start-ups.

Indeed the presence of start-ups at this year’s event was pleasing to see, both at the main conference as well as in the accompanying exhibition. This goes well with the event’s theme Fuelling Growth Through Innovation. The point however was made rightly that innovation can come not just from start-ups but established companies as well.

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Building an Open Source Community the Joomla! Way

Author: Arvind Padmanabhan

Insights from Joomla World Conference 2015, Bengaluru


We have been fortunate to host this year’s Joomla World Conference in Bengaluru over the last three days. Though I missed the sessions of the first two days, I’m glad I could make it at least for the final day. I met developers, volunteers and evangelists from all over the world — from Uganda to California, from Malaysia to Pune, from Holland to Hong Kong. Today was an action-packed, fun-filled day of talks and interactions over coffee and lunch. I’m told the crowd was even bigger on the opening day.

This morning’s keynote address started with the statement that, “Technology does not better the world, people do!” This underscores the importance of community building, which is key to making open source work. Open source is ultimately about final products that better the world, but such a goal would not be possible without the community itself. What does it mean to build a community?

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A Room Full of “Pythoners”

Author: Imran Nazir

A Summary of Pycon UK 2014


Pycon was a four-day event (19-22 Sep) covering all things Python, with talks, workshops, Q&As, food and drinks. There was time to socialize with fellow delegates, hackers and programmers. Alas, due to personal commitments I only had two days, day one and the final day.

Although a recent convert to the Python programming language I had heard of this UK “franchise” of event before. Previously it had been hosted in my home city of Birmingham, England. For some years now, it has been held in the historic city of Coventry at the University of the same name. The venue was the Technocentre, a purpose-built conference venue.

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