Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cool Tool

For those who are dying to see an easier way of typing sinhala letters/words/sentences etc. here is a fun tool to get yourselves moving.

Real Time Unicode Converter, is a unicode translation service hosted by the Language Technology & Research Laboratory at University of Colombo School of Computing (UCSC).

You just have to type the sinhala word as it is pronounced using English & the tool converts is to sinhala unicode real time.

This is how it is done.

The text you type - aayubowan! mei magei blog eka
Sinhala unicode converter output - ආයුබොවන්! මේ මගේ බ්ලොග් එක

Here's to seeing more sinhala letters on web pages!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Drive Smart - Save Loot

Driving in Sri Lankan roads is a nightmare at times! Heavy traffic, poor road conditions, little shopping malls on the pavements eating up one-third the road's width are a few of the many annoying things drivers have to run into. Of course driving comes at a cost, despite the comfort in travelling it brings. This little post is to tell y'all how to drive without burning too much deep a hole in your pockets.

Stay away from aggressive driving
I certainly could use this tip! ;-) I was like "oh-heck!", while reading an article about fuel efficient driving. Apparently, driving like a mad man & hard breaking eats up fuel as much as 40%. Plus it can also increase emission of greenhouse gasses by a considerable level. The right way of driving is to accelerate slowly & smoothly & hit the top gear as soon as possible. How feasible this is in SL roads remains a question though.

Stick to speed limits
Accelerating on highways always increases fuel consumption. It is reported that increasing your speed from 55mph(90 km/h) to 75mph(120km/h) can raise fuel consumption by as much as 20%. Driving at a constant 55mph can improve mileage by 10-15% under same conditions.

Avoid idling the vehicle
Not only does idling waste fuel, it also gets you no where & produces a lot of greenhouse gasses. If you are going to remain stationery for more than 30 seconds, except in traffic stop the vehicle.

Say no to poorly inflated tires
Make sure the tires are inflated properly. This prevents rolling resistance & in return can save fuel by as much as 6%. It is a good habit to check tire pressure at least once a month. Although it is not a good idea to inflate the tires to the "maximum allowed" level for that particular type of tire.

Drive in right gear
I think I am a little too lazy to change gears for some unknown reason. :-D. It is said that the best way to move about with stick driven vehicles is to accelerate smoothly & going up to the top gear as quickly as possible without accelerating too hard. Driving in a gear lower than you need wastes fuel; so does letting the engine labour in top gear on hills and corners.

Avoid the air-conditioner
Using the air-conditioner in a hot weather can increase fuel consumption by 10% in city driving. Rolling down shutters can help save fuel if you are driving at low speeds. But at high speeds driving with open windows may actually have an adverse effect due to the wind resistance.

Choose the right octane fuel
Most cars are designed for normal low octane fuel. Higher prices do not necessarily guarantee improved performance. Do not just blindly ask for higher-octane fuel unless you are certain that is indeed what your vehicle wants.

Service & Maintenance
Regular, timely service is indeed the way to go. A poorly tuned engine can use up to 50% more fuel and produces up to 50% more emissions than one that is running properly.

Turn off power accessories
Shutting off power consuming accessories, in your vehicle before turning off the ignition, can decrease the engine load the next time you start the vehicle up, hence saving fuel.

Park in the shade
Besides helping to keep your car cool, which reduces the need for air conditioning, parking in the shade also minimizes the loss of gas due to evaporation.

Tracking Tweets

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Oops! My Language Just Died!!!

The newest publication of UNESCO's Atlas of World Languages reads that about 6000 languages are facing some kind of threat that could eventually lead up to their extinction. 2500 of the 6000 languages are listed as endangered & 200 languages are completely dead & gone. The atlas ranks the 2,500 endangered languages by five levels of vitality: unsafe, definitely endangered, severely endangered, critically endangered and extinct.

"199 languages have fewer than ten speakers and 178 others have 10 to 50. Among the languages that have recently become extinct, it mentions Manx (Isle of Man), which died out in 1974 when Ned Maddrell fell forever silent, Aasax (Tanzania), which disappeared in 1976, Ubykh (Turkey) in 1992 with the demise of Tevfik Esenc, and Eyak (Alaska, United States of America), in 2008"
- Quoted From The Publication

What are the dangers of a language becoming instinct?
  • A language encodes local knowledge on a community's traditions, culture & ways of life. Death of a language will prevent those outside that community from being aware of diverse sociological behaviors.
  • Medicinal secrets will also be veiled forever.
  • Threat of losing valuable pieces of Literature, poetry & other aesthetics
Many organizations, following the UNESCO's initiative have joined hands together in preserving the endangered languages. Although the dead languages are beyond resurrection, there is still hope for those are in threat of disappearing from the face of the earth thanks to such concerned individuals.

To Standardize Or Not To Standardize

I recall the time I used to carry a pack of floppy disks with such pride, as if they were the world's most prized possession. A few years later I look back & stand in dismay wondering how "lame" I have been. Although I still have the floppy disks with my valuable files stored in them I am constantly worrying about being able to get the data when I need. Some of the modern day computing devices do not even have a floppy disk drive to read floppy disks.

Storing digital data is not so effortless as filing away a stack of papers. One has got to make sure that the format in which the data is available will supported by data processing devices in the years to come. Not only the unavailability of hardware & related software, but also data on storage devices are subject to corruption & decay. Hence the need of us being a little more proactive as far as long term data preservation is concerned.

Technology has come a long way since the days people wrote on stone slabs. Storing data on digital media is faster, economical and also saves paper! The need however is in establishing a standard in digital data formats just so that we can still dig out what we have buried 15 - 20 years afterward.