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Author Archive Jayanthi

ByJayanthi

Pharming

The online world unfortunately is not a fun place as it seems. There are other types of people around too seeking to grab credit card numbers, bank account numbers, steal pictures of children and/or any personal data that is floating around.ย 

Let us assume that you would like to visit a website, www.abac.com (a fictitional website) What happens when you visit www.abac.com and do a bit shopping and submit your bank account details or any other personal details only to realize after a day – that the website that you visited was actually a fake one?ย 

This type of attack is known as ‘Pharming’. ‘Pharming’ is done by modifying the victim’s file or by a more complicated technique known as ‘DNS poisoning’.ย 

To protect oneself:

The best way to protect oneself from ‘Pharming’ attacks is to:

  1. install the latest version of anti-virus software
  2. Apply the patches as and when posted
  3. Associating one-self with a good ISP
  4. When making payments ensure that SSL(secure sockets layer) is enabled for the website
  5. Keeping with the latest in the security field(where are the breaches, what was stolen, what is the newest type of attack)
  6. And keeping ears and eyes open! ๐Ÿ™‚

We have seen yet another concept of ‘Information security’ in this post.

This is the third post for ‘MyFriendAlexa’ by @Blogchatter!

ByJayanthi

Who are better multi-taskers? Men or Women?

She was busy in the kitchen. It was a Monday morning. The school bus would be here anytime. It was idli for breakfast. While the first kid was unhappy about idli being the breakfast for the day, the second kid was super excited!  One preferred  coriander chutney. The other one preferred sambhar. Husband was already rushed and late for a meeting(what’s new?! :)) It was a super busy morning making breakfast/lunch – sending the kids and husband off to school/work and getting herself ready for work too!

After work, she had to give attention to both kids as each of them had separate requirements. One needed chart paper for a project, the other needed a printout. Home work, exams, were all over the place and seemed to be solely her responsibility. Dinner had to made and her own needs had to be met too. While her husband did step in every once in a while to help out…he could never keep with all the things she could do… 

Sounds like a familiar story? It is not mine ๐Ÿ™‚ but I am sure it is many a woman’s story…

Multi-tasking is the art of doing multiple things simultaneously in my view. Who does this better? 

Working moms, stay at home moms, work from home moms, young ladies are all into multiple things at once. They will don multiple hats during the day and night. They create yummy food for their family according to each one’s taste, teach their kids, do their projects, become a doc for their kids during medical crisis, shuttle the kids from class to class, support their families, keep up with their own personal interests and more! I feel like they are demi-gods brandishing the ‘multi-tasking’ sword…

With all the above points, I have a faint idea about who is the better multi-tasker.. don’t you? ๐Ÿ™‚

This post is my second post for #MyFriendAlexa by #Blogchatter!

Have a wonderful day! ๐Ÿ™‚

mutitasking

ByJayanthi

Hacking

While ‘Information security’ always gives us images of breaches, hacks, stolen credit card numbers and bank account numbers, my blog has always been associated with the concepts of ‘Information security’ or the many defenses that are there to keep your information safe.

In this post, I will like to delve into the reality of letting off the ‘Information security’defenses down. Apart from the breaches and hacks, what are the other ugly things that are possible?ย  While this may be common knowledge to those in InfoSec domain – it may not be known to every one. It is always a common thought – “it will not happen to me” – it is a reality that it does happen quite frequently and everybody gets affected at some point or other!

  1. Remotely controllingย  Android/Apple deviceย 

ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  There are a variety of ways in which one can remotely control another person’s Android or Apple device.ย  There are plenty of apps that allow you to control an Android device from a PC, via an another Android device, via WiFi, via Bluetooth and really the possibilities are endless!ย ย 

I am sure most of you remember the time when Saket Modi, the co-founder and CEO of Lucideus hacked the phone of a person sitting in the audience. Through this hacking, he was able to procure the subject’s SMSes, contacts, call logs, GPS locations and more! (Source:ย https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fT6pUQrY6M)

2. Hacking cars?

Is this even possible? Yes – maybe in the future! Researchers have shown that hackers can remotely kill your engine, lock the doors to your car, put the car in reverse gear without your permission and many other frightening moves!ย 

Automotive hacking may be a distinct possibility as the years roll by!

hacker

3. ATM skimming

Many people are sure to have fallen to this type of hack. A small skimmer is attached to the ATM machine by means of which bank details are retrieved.ย  The numbers are then transferred to blank ATM cards and money and data are stolen!ย 

4. Keylogger

‘Keylogger’ is a type of surveillance software which when installed on your system, can monitor every key stroke, record passwords, captures screenshots and more. It can be run in invisible mode and thereby the user will have no clue of its presence. This is commonly used by employers to keep tabs on their employees.ย 

In addition to all this, the devious mind can find ways to see your private Facebook picture, Instagram pictures and any other private information. In short, the more you want to keep it private online, the more someone is eager to see it! ๐Ÿ™‚

This is just the tip of the wild side of security hacks… anything is possibleย  for a determined mind!ย 

How do we protect ourselves from all this?

Maintain a minimal online presence.ย  And it is good to keep up with all security updates and install all patches and upgrades as and when posted.

This is my first post for #MyFriendAlexa. I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with #Blogchatter

ByJayanthi

Idli or Dosa?

Born and raised in Tamil Nadu, a state in Southern India, Idlis and Dosas  were always a staple at home. Idli for the totally unfamiliar, is defined by Wikipedia as “savoury rice cakes” that is made from fermented batter and which is had mostly for breakfast. Dosa on the other hand, is a savoury crepe made from the same fermented batter. Both of them are served with a huge range of accompaniments to suit the palate. While both idli and dosa are ideally served for breakfast, if you are from Tamil Nadu – you don’t mind having it at any time of the day! ๐Ÿ™‚ 

How do we make them?

While I will leave the exact recipe for making the perfect idli and dosa to Google, I can say that idli/dosa batter cannot be made in an instant unlike other foods. If we would like to make the idli/dosa batter (totally homemade),  tomorrow morning, the process has to be started 24 hrs earlier – if you are in a tropical climate and longer if you are in a colder climate. 

This because, the lentils have to soaked and ground in a special appliance called a ‘grinder'(or we can do it in a blender too) The resulting batter has to be fermented at least for 6-10 hrs(preferably overnight) .

Once the batter has beautifully fermented,ย  the idlis and dosas are ready to be made and relished with the different accompaniments! ๐Ÿ™‚

Accompaniments to the idli-dosa duo:

Now, there are a variety of chutneys that can accompany the popular idli-dosa combo. There is coconut chutney, coriander chutney, mint chutney, tomato chutney, onion chutney( and my kids prefer all the colored variations! :))ย  and even more combinations to make this humble food even more tasty!ย 

There is also the very authentic Tamil Nadu ‘sambhar’ (lentil based vegetable stew as per Wikipedia) that can accompany the idli or dosa along with a a variety of chutneys to make the food super yummy! ๐Ÿ™‚

How should it be?

Now, depending the quality of the lentils, the temperature and the duration of the fermentation and the proportion of lentils, the idlis and dosas might come differently. Technically, the idlis have to soft (like ‘malligai poo’ ๐Ÿ™‚ aka ‘jasmine flowers’ and dosas may or may not be crisp. But the taste is definitely out of this world! ๐Ÿ™‚

Idli
Idli

Can we order them from outside?

Oh…yes, we can and while other states might boast of pani puri stalls and chaat houses everywhere , it is the humble ‘idli’ that will adorn the streets of Tamil Nadu. Numerous idli shops will definitely pepper houses in Tamil Nadu and home cooks will even sell freshly made ‘idli-dosa’ batter for nominal prices.

A mother’s best friend! ๐Ÿ™‚

Did you know – most of us mothers in/from Tamil Nadu will be at a loss if we do not have the idli-dosa batter at home in the refrigerator at any point of time? ๐Ÿ™‚  The idli-dosa batter is definitely a mother’s best friend! When most mother’s are always at their wits end for “lunch box” and “breakfast” ideas, having the batter always saves the day. We can whip dosas and idlis in a jiffy and save the day! ๐Ÿ™‚ 

Dosa
Dosa

Now the great question – is it Idli or Dosa that satisfies your palate?

While each of them have their own taste and texture(obviously because one is round and soft and the other is crispy and flat), I have seen most having a preference for one or the other – but not both.

While the daughter in the house loves the soft variations and can gulp them as it is without any accompaniments ๐Ÿ™‚ the son, can hardly get the idli down his throat without the frequent ‘eowws’ ๐Ÿ™‚ His idea of the Tamil Nadu’s favorite food has to be the crispy counterpart lathered with a generous dollop of ghee that gives it an immensely wonderful aroma!

So, what is your favorite and how do you like to eat it? ๐Ÿ™‚

ByJayanthi

Introduction to Ethereum

Just like Bitcoin, which is highly known, ‘Ethereum’ is yet another open source implementation of the Blockchain concept. However, the similarity between ‘Ethereum’ and ‘Bitcoin’ ends just there. While ‘Bitcoin’ is a cryptocurrency,ย  ‘Ethereum’ is a decentralized network for implementing ‘Smart contracts’. Recall, that ‘smart contracts’ are similar to normal contract clauses, but are automatically enforced without any interference from third parties.

The ‘Ethereum’ logo was first used in 2014 and the project was live on 30th July 2015 – so,ย  it is an absolutely brand new blockchain concept!ย  The ‘Ethereum’ idea was first conceived by Vitalik Buterin.

Now moving onto the article, the basic idea behind the blockchain technologyย  is the different nodes agreeing on transactions and having the same copy of the transaction. Instead of all the nodes in a network agreeing on the the coins moving towards andย  away from a user(like in a Bitcoin), in a Ethereum network, the nodes have to agree on the smart contract transactions.

So, what can we do with a Ethereum blockchain?

Have an idea for an application? You can get it deployed on the ‘Ethereum’ blockchain. It is no longer a huge chore to build blockchain applications and definitely much more easier to get applications deployed on the Ethereum blockchin.

ย You can create your own cryptocurrency, voting ballots, crowdsale or any idea of for a decentralized application without feelings and human emotions entwined in it. For more information about creating your own decentralized applications on the Ethereum blockchain please visit:ย https://www.ethereum.org/

Ethereum

To conclude, here are a few terms associated with ‘Ethereum’:

  1. Ether – is a form of currency that fuels the Ethereum network. It is specifically called as a “crypto fuel” and not as a cryptocurrency as it is used to pay for the smart contract services.
  2. Ethereum wallet – where will the ‘ethers’ be stored? In a Ethereum wallet of course! The Ethereum wallet is also used to “write, deploy and use smart contracts”
  3. ย ‘EVM’ or ‘Ethereum virtual machine’- The EVM almost reminds me of the JVM or the ‘Java virtual machine’. The EVM runs on the Ethereum network and is a Turingย  software. Similar to the JVM of the 90s, the EVM simplifies the process of creating applications.ย 

It should be noted that Ethereumย  is another rapidly evolving technology. How the world will react to it and how the governments will react to it is left to be seen. This article is largely for informational purposes only!

Liked this article? Like and Share! ๐Ÿ™‚

ByJayanthi

Young India!

As India celebrates her 72nd Independance day, I was mulling one important aspect of India that can easily stand out from other countries. This was the fundamental aspect that really stood out when we moved back 8 years ago…what was it? read on to find out more…

Youth:

The world all around me was/is very young (initially, I thought it was because I had returned from the US after 14 yearsย  – that I had aged and the next generation had emerged! :))ย  But while that may have been one reason, India itself had gotten the title of being the “youngest country in the world”. According to Wikipedia, “50% of India is below the age of 25 and 65% of India is below the age of 35”!! Additionally, according to another report from ‘The Guardian’, India has 600 million people who are under the age of 25!! Cool, statistic don’t you think?! ๐Ÿ™‚ย  It is hard to believe this statistic unless you live in a country with such a young population.

Every side and every corner you turn, you will only bump into teenagers, singles and young couples! ๐Ÿ™‚ There hardly seem to be many with 2 kids tagging along like us! (ok, a bit of an exaggeration there – but you get the point,right – India is very “youthy”?! :))

How does it affect you?

It definitely rubs you the right way. You feel young and energized and can totally appreciate all the new and latest brain storms. In all my remote work experiences, I have always worked with people younger than me!ย  While I thought it was initially a one time thing or an occasional happening…it happens all the time – (while, what they think of me is for another blog post :)) –ย  ย and I am sure that is true for most of us from my generation…

Startups:

India and particularly Bangalore or Bengaluru is home to a number of ‘startups’. Makemytrip, Flipkart, Snapdeal, Ola cabs, Zomato, redBus and many more organizations are all shining examples of Indian startups. According to this report from Bangalore Mirror, the average age of startup founders is under 36! (Superb, don’t you think?)ย 

There are still a huge number of startups that are mushrooming at a rapid pace with extremely bright ideas. Now, how long these organizations last and whether all of them do well in the long run, is anybody’s guess – but the feeling of entrepreneurship and moving from the tag of “employee” to “employer” is strong in India! So much so, that many start their own companies after a few years of corporate experience!

Here is to a young India making a positive difference to life in the world…

Happy Independence day to all!! ๐Ÿ™‚

ByJayanthi

What are Smart Contracts?

‘Smart Contracts’ is a term that is often used in the Blockchain world. ‘Smart Contracts are similar to legal contracts but are encoded in the ‘Blockchain’ . ‘Ethereum’, the public blockchain is the most popular way to create smart contracts.

We encounter physical ‘contracts’ throughout our life. Contracts are present when we start a new job(detailing the job details and the date of salary payments)  , when we buy a new house(detailing our mortgage payments and the corresponding dates , when we buy a new vehicle(detailing loan payments)

Home loans, car loans and most other critical dealings come with contracts. ‘Contracts’ enable the buyer and seller to keep their word. In a home buying scenario, once the buyer completes all his mortgage payments, the loaner company should release the title and deed and all appropriate paperwork to the buyer. There are lengthy clauses which cover every aspect of our business dealings.

An example of a legal statement might be as follows: ‘If the bill is not paid by a certain due date, then add a corresponding late fee or revoke the license’. 

What if this could be automated and enforced without any manual intervention? Is this possible? yes – by means of smart contracts. 

In a ‘smart contract’ the contract itself is coded and it is further stored and monitored by the Blockchain network.  Once a condition is met, the contract executes automatically. This ensures transparency along with elimination of middlemen.

‘Smart Contracts’ are mostly written in the ‘Solidity’ programming language.

This is just a short glimpse into the world of ‘smart contracts’. Join me as I uncover more technical topics about the ‘Blockchain’ world  in subsequent posts…

 

ย 

smart contracts
ByJayanthi

PSG Tech reunion

As July 2018 dawned and dragged by, I could see a few of flurries of excitement here and there. There were subtle blips of happiness on the online radar too. Some of us were proudly announcing our itinerary to our happy destination on social media channels. We were all eagerly setting our plans for the big day and the planning committee was working in full momentum. There were invitations to be created and given, momentoes to be ordered, albums to be created, food to be ordered and oh, the list was an endless one. There were online meetings held regularly to plan and execute the things perfectly for the D-day!(Sitting inside the planning Whatsapp group was a special privilege(and one place I really managed to keep quiet! :)) and I could see the umpteen number of things that had to be done to make this day perfect and kudos to all of them to make it happen)

Where was this and what was happening?

This was the silver jubilee celebration for the Class of ’93/94 BE/BE(SW) of the alumni of PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India on July 27th, 2018. Going back to one’s alma mater is always a warm feeling for anyone, and visiting it, 25 years after graduation is extra special!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Many of the alumni traveled from as far as the US, UK, Mexico and other countries to be together and celebrate this special day. 

25 years is a long time in a person’s life. We had grown through highs and lows of personal and professional life. Many of us had become “Sirs and madams” ๐Ÿ™‚ in our organization and had reputations that were hard to beat. But still, we all traveled to the one place that made us feel 17 again! ๐Ÿ™‚ We could throw all our caution to the wind and experience 1989-1993/94 again for just a day!

July 27, 2018!

The morning of July 27,2018 dawned and I was as usual late! It was 10 a.m. and I finally landed at my alma mater. Who was there? There was everyone(who had promised to come) and after a while I could recognize most of them. It was an amazing feeling to meet the entire(or almost) Class of ’93/94 in person. Even though we all play peek-a-boo on social media and see what others are doing in their life, it is a special feeling to meet everybody in person. We had changed in predictable ways and it really wasn’t difficult to identify everyone after a while. Life hadn’t changed and we were still in 1993/94, right? Nope – unfortunately not… 

For those of us who returned to Coimbatore after 25 years, the changes within the college were phenomenal.  The college had grown by leaps and bounds and there were newer departments. The bridge was absolutely new and traffic in our college was totally new to us! (When we studied, there were only a few buildings near us) Some of our old Professors were still present and it was pleasure to see them and reminisce their teachings(whether they remembered us or not! :))

The morning routine took place with precision. Sitting in the auditorium, recognizing old friends,  and whispering to my friends was a really warm feeling. Prayers were sung, speeches were given, momentoes and the batch report were presented. As the batch report was unveiled, it showed the stellar strength of our batch mates. Each and every one of us had done exceedingly well in life and some had even managed to retire! ๐Ÿ™‚

Nostalgia took over and and as were re-living 1989-1993/94 days, we tried to see if the shops we used to visit 25 years ago were still around and we also wanted to see the hostel that housed us for 4 years(though I did not finally get to see the hostel) We wanted to see and experience all things that were present 25 years ago when the only work we had in life was to “study”! 

The evening saw the very popular ‘Tech music’ (songs sung by talented singers) and as the night progressed, it was evident that the glorious day would soon end. There were many who had weekend getaways planned to celebrate the silver jubilee reunion, but for me it was back to routine from the very next day.

As I came back home and was reminiscing the days leading up to July 27,2018 and the very day, I keep thinking when it will be when we will meet again…

On a side note, I observed that the Western world grapples with not having enough women in STEM(Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), but we women in the reunion were light years ahead of our times. We, women engineers had conquered the ‘engineering Everest’ years ago and many hold high positions in the industry even today. 

 

 

ByJayanthi

Review of ‘A to Z of Mental Health’ By Arjun Gupta

About the e-book: A to Z of Mental Health tries to explore the various aspects of mental illnesses that are sometimes ignored.You will finish this book with richer and more meaningful knowledge about mental health and how it affects every person.

Review: Mental health plays such an important part in today’s life. It is heartening to see the world opening to such issues to help the sufferer. But it is even great to see such a mature topic been written by such a young author(he is only 20!) The author gives an insight into the mental health issues faced by forces in the army, navy, air force, colleges, the common triggers for many mental health ailments, diagnosis, technology and mental health and so on.

It is true that exercise also plays a huge role in healing all sorts of body ailments and and it is good to state that mental health is no exception. It is nice to see the author list the phone numbers in each city for any individuals seeking help on mental health issues.

Personally, I am not sure, if the Internet is a good place to seek any sort of medical advice for any ailment. The author correctly states that there are “no right answers” to be found on the Internet and it is better to talk your problems instead. 

A very good and purposeful book and I am sure it will help the individuals who are suffering. In addition, I also hope it motivates non-sufferers to help them and not shy away from the problem.

You can download Arjun’s e-book for free from this link:

 

 

ByJayanthi

Writing

We writers are a lucky lot! ๐Ÿ™‚ No, really…I mean it… what other profession allows you to don the multi-profession cape with the glide of a mouse?

Writing:

There are different types of writers – namely the medical writer, the technical writer, the travel writer, the poem writer, the master story teller but all of them share the pen that gives their thoughts a life. 

A writer can write about anything that he wants to – the butterfly, the cloud(technical and non-technical! :)) , the traffic (the web traffic as well as the physical traffic) , life of a chef, life of a programmer, life of a an engineer, the details of all the professions and so on… what a wonderful life! I have never enjoyed anything more in life than writing. It is the greatest boon to be able to write and write anything under the sun. And to think that I had never written anything major till my Master’s degree papers came along! ๐Ÿ™‚

The difficult part of writing:

1.Unlike other professions, once you are done with writing about a particular topic for a period of time from different perspectives – I feel like “I am done” writing about the topic! And people are “done” reading about the topic too!! ๐Ÿ™‚

For example, if I tell my son to read the other posts on my blog, after reading the one that has just been published (he follows my blog too! :)) he always says that he has finished reading them all! ๐Ÿ™ 

So, once I am done writing about a particular topic, I seem to be really “done”. And I think my readers are “done” reading the topic too! ๐Ÿ™‚

The good part is that there are still plenty of topics to write about and even the littlest topic can evoke a great deal of emotions…

2. The second difficult part of writing sometimes is – that while writing itself takes a quite a bit of time with research and all(esp for my technical articles) but the reading hardly takes 3-4 minutes! ๐Ÿ™ Sometimes, I feel like I should write a huge novel so that nobody can finish reading it quickly enough… ๐Ÿ˜‰

Keep up with my pen as my writing adventures continue into the technical and personal fields! ๐Ÿ™‚