Saturday, July 10, 2010

Research and camera lenses

There is a resemblance between the way we do research and the camera lenses. I am just trying to tie them together :)

Macro lens - Go deep into the details
Telephoto lens - Foresee the trends that drive the technology and demand new technology/solutions
Wide angle lens - Get the big picture
Prime lens - Focus on a topic

Where to go to Friday Jummah prayers in Menlo Park?

As I am working in Menlo park during this summer, I had to find a new place to go to Friday Jummah (congregational) prayers. Menlo park itself does not have a mosque and there are hardly any Muslims around the area. Fortunately, I found two options which worked out for me. I take 2 - 3 hours off every Friday to make it to the prayers. It's good to get away from the busy life for at least a few hours and be with the community every week.

Islamic Society of Stanford University holds a Friday prayer starting at 12.15 pm (till 1.10 pm). This one is the closest to Menlo park (about 2 miles away). It is managed by the students at Stanford. Stanford does not have a mosque though. (Good thing about Purdue, where I study, is that it has a mosque in the campus itself and there is a large Muslim crowd.) They hold the Friday prayers in the 3rd floor of the old Union building (However, they do have special wudu areas). You get about 50-60 people altogether. Where to park your car? There is a paid parking lot at the intersection of Mayfield avenue and Lagunita drive. You can either use your credit card or use coins to pay. During May/June (where the Spring semester was still in progress), it was somewhat difficult to find a parking spot in that car park (You better go there about 1/2 an hour early). But now, being the summer, there is ample parking available in that lot.

Muslim Community Association (MCA) mosque in Santa Clara (Yelp). It's about 15 miles (1/2 an drive) from Menlo park, but I very much like this place - it's a quite big mosque with a large gathering. If I have more time, I usually drive to this place instead of Stanford. They have two Jummah prayers one at 12.15 pm (I usually go to this one) and the other at 1.30 pm. In addition to the large prayer areas, the mosque has many other specialized rooms. Talking about parking, it does have a big parking lot, but it gets filled pretty quickly on Fridays - so you better go there a few minutes before if you want to park in the mosque itself. There is also a parking lot close to the mosque which you can use.

Other useful links:
South Bay Islamic Association
Muslim Community Association

Hope this information might be useful to those who are new to this area.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

[Security/Privacy] Can we bridge the gap?

I was wondering how we may apply secure computing (e.g. computation over encrypted data) in real life scenarios where you have to interact with real objects as opposed to bits and bytes. It seems to me quite difficult, if not impossible, to achieve the same "invisibility" in the physical world; the very nature of the tangibility makes it hard to do so.

Consider the example where I want to mail my digital photos to Walgreens and get them printed. However, I want Walgreens to see neither the photos nor the printed copies. You see the similar privacy/security problems in getting something printed through a courier service such as UPS. I am not aware of any technology that we could use to solve this problem. One important thing is for the solution to be economical for me (the service requester), the amount of work I need to do (hence the cost) to recover the actual thing (actual photos from printed copies) should be cheaper than the service I want (getting the photos printed) in the long run. Otherwise, I might as well buy my own printing machine and do the printing myself which will eliminate the problem of privacy/security.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Driving/Hiking in the Big Basin Redwoods park

For the memorial day long weekend, I drove to the Big Basin Redwoods state park. The drive around the park area was really nice as it is covered with big redwood trees. I spotted a few deer as well. The road is very curvy and narrow; at times you have only one lane - so you have to be careful when driving and enjoying the view around you.

Big Basin state park

I parked the car in the park headquarters ($10 for parking, $5 for the map) and hiked about 10 miles. It was a good workout for me and the trails are spectacular and covered with large trees and a water stream flowing close by. Make sure to take the trail Skyline-To-The Sea Trail to Berry Creek Falls to Sunset Trail if you want to see the beautiful waterfall. The total round-trip distance is about 10 miles. You'll need 6 to 8 hours to cover this particular route and enjoy the surrounding.

Big Basin state park

It was a little hot and humid on that day. You better take a big bottle of water with you as you get dehydrated quickly there.

Big Basin state park

Driving/Hiking around the Golden Gate Bridge

I recently visited the golden gate bridge and stopped at both north and south sides. One of the main stops in the north side is the vista point which you find it immediately to the right after you cross the bridge from the south. You get a good view of the bridge from there. You'll also find the statue of the lonely traveler and a distant view of the Alcatraz prison island. The parking lot is somewhat small and you might have to wait a little bit to find a parking spot. There is also a side walk along the bridge.

Golden gate bridge

From the side, you can drive/hike along the beach. We drove along Marina Blvd and Manson St (North East) and Lincoln Blvd (North West). If you want to take photos, it is better you go there in the morning or late in the afternoon close to sunset. In the afternoon, the sun directly falls on the bridge and it is hard to take any good photos.

Golden gate bridge