Saturday, December 29, 2012

A few things that made my 2012 interesting..

It has become my regular practice to write a wrap-up blog post each year. Time has come to say good bye to the year 2012. I was keeping my blog readers updated on the with regular updates. Year 2012 - a year of changes summarizes the first two trimesters of the year. In a following post, I thanked all the wonderful people who made my 2012 remarkable. This year was truly remarkable, and probably it was one of the 3 best years so far (the other two were years 2010 and 2004). I foresee a much more interesting year 2013.

Now time to look into some random things that made me 2012 a unique year. This is an unordered list.

1. Broken resolutions - Yes, those resolutions which rarely works. Not to stay up too late, not to spend much time on the Internet, .. these resolutions! :P

2. Successful goals - Surprisingly, 2012 turned to be a very successful year. It didn't start pretty well, to be honest. Learned more realities of life throughout the year. :D

3. Movies - Oh.. too many of them this year.. :D

4. Nightly walks - I always enjoyed a long walk, in the nights. ^ ^

5. Busy days getting the documents ready for the Portuguese visa. It was not fun. However, now all it gives is nice memories.

6. Pahar Ganj - When I said I am going to stay in a place called Pahar Ganj during my visit to India, some guys who are from New Delhi were scaring me saying Pahar Ganj is a dangerous place. I myself noticed that the place is dodgy, as an over-crowded place next to the central railway station. Staying there for a few days gave me a more insight of New Delhi.

7. Trip by HoHo bus in New Delhi - It was interesting (in a strange way) to travel alone to tourist attractions, such as Qutub Minar.

8. Three-wheeler negotiations in New Delhi - New Delhi by tuk-tuk was fun!

9. Exploring Colombo - Sometimes we don't really get the chance to explore the city that we live in. It was this year, when I really explored more of my city. :D

10. Random Shoppings in Colombo city!

11. Summer in Lisbon - Summer experience in Lisbon is really great.

12. Yellow bus travel in Lisbon - "Yellow bus" is a convenient way to explore Lisbon, in 48 hours, for 25 Euros. Visited many interesting places such as Lisboa Oceanario.

13. Shuttle travels to Taguspark campus!

14. Lunch at Taguspark canteen.

15. Dinner for 4.45 Euro at "Acucar & Canela".

16. My weekly blog posts on my stay here in Lisbon. Interestingly, the blog views got to a peak in the month of October. Moments with Twitter.. and Moments with Twitter - II became two of the mostly viewed posts, all time.

17. Living away from home and the country for the first time.

18. Nights at Bairro Alto and Cais do Sodre.

19. Group discussions for P2P exams!

20. Getting soaked in the wild rainy days in New Delhi during the second visit.

21. Gurudwara Bangla Sahib. Going to a temple of another faith that I was never aware of, turns to be interesting, like exploring a new world. This year, I went to many places of worship, of different faiths, including Central Mosque of Lisbon.

22. Visit to Munneswaram and the other surrounding Hindu temples. It felt great to have such a religious trip with family, after a long time, without much preparation.

23. Beach Wadiya of Wellawatte. Never mind the big fat rat.. :D

24. Emirates! I like the airlines, and Dubai Airport. This was not my first time though.

25. Letters from KTH - It was surely one of the highlights of the year. Letters regarding EMDC was always promising and made me smile big.

26. GSoC Awareness sessions all over the island. We did it big for GSoC 2012. More evangelization!

27. Optimism - Not that 2012 was full of good events. It had its own share of negative events and depressing moments. I feel, it was me being optimistic, made me take some brave decisions to withstand the currents, which eventually turned as the right decisions. :-)

28. Crazy friends - I am surrounded by them here. So no comments on this right now. :D

29. Portuguese classes. This one. :D I rarely did the homeworks. Probably, I should have put more effort. However, we have completed the Portuguese Level-1 now. :)

30. Being a student once more, after two years. Makes me feel younger! EMDC, IST, and Lisbon - It is a cool combination.. :D

We are going to Madrid, Barcelona, and Nuria in Spain the coming February for the EMDC winter event. Apart from this, I have plans to visit home next year, and also a short trip to South India, may be. Finally to KTH, Stockholm for the second year. 2013 seems more promising.

If you are really bored, you may also read the blog post on the year 2011. :D

Lisbon - Week18

[29/12/2012] - The festival season, and Lisbon is celebrating. And now we feel the need to start studying for the upcoming exams, which commence by the 7th of January, next year. Exams - a great way to start the new year. We were still spending time going to shopping centers (Colombo, El Corte Ingles, and Centro Vasco da Gama) and watching movies.. :D

oh, and time to welcome the year 2013 now. :-)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Lisbon - Week17

[22/12/2012] - Lisbon is getting into the festival season. We are finally having the Christmas break. Our exams start on the 7th of January. We have got the time table for the second semester already. The below modules will probably be the subjects for the next semester.
SDTF64 - Fault-Tolerant Distributed Systems    
PADI764 - Middleware for Distributed Internet Applications
CMov764 - Mobile Computing    
AVExe364 - Virtual Execution Environments

[21/12/2012] - I got the residence permit from SEF. We also have already bought the flight tickets to Madrid and Barcelona, for the EMDC winter event 2013.

[20/12/2012] - We are done with all the project demos, discussions, as well as the Security presentation on SeCrawler, which is a role-aware Secured Crawler, based on Crawler4j library.


Friday, December 14, 2012

YaCy Introductory presentation for P2P module

Lisbon - Week16
[14/12/2012] - One of the busiest days. We submitted 3 final projects today, of Cloud Computing, P2P, and Security modules. You may have a look at the project.
[10/12/2012] Today we did an introductory presentation to the YaCy Decentralized Web Search - The Peer-to-Peer Search Engine, for the P2P module. The presentation we did is given below, for your reference.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Lisbon - Week15

[08/12/2012] - The project deadlines are approaching the coming week. Everyone is getting busier. A few interesting events did occur during this time span.

[07/08/2012] - Tivemos o exame de português hoje. Eu estou contente que eu não desisti. Muito graças ao nosso professora por seus cuidados. I feel a bit guilty of not putting enough effort on learning Portuguese so far. I have loads of Portuguese speaking friends - I speak in English with all of them, so far. :)

[05/12/2012] - We get a student visa for 3 months, when we fly to Portugal. However, we are supposed to be present for an interview at SEF to obtain a residence card, usually covers a period of a year, for the Erasmus Mundus students, as we are going to study here for a year. SEF can be reached by metro. From the metro station Porque, turn right (when facing away from the entrance) and walk to #20. The interviews start at 8.30. I reached SEF by 8.20 and had to stay for 1.5 hours to complete the interview. It is better to reach around 8 am to be the first in the queue, and leave early.

Documents to take to SEF (information provided by IST)
1.      Passport;

2.      Proof of Residency;
One way do make  proof of Residency
                                                       I.            Declaration passed by your landlord;
                                                     II.            A copy of the identity card from your landlord (SEF needs to check if the signature on the declaration passed by our landlord is the same);
                                                   III.            A copy of the deed to the house (For SEF to check if the house is really the propriety of the person who is passing the declaration).

Or
Other way do make  proof of Residency
Certificate of Residence passed by the  parish council (you landlord will assist you  in doing this.

Or
If you are in a residence
You must tell me in which one so I can include it in the declaration, therefore you don’t need to do the steps before described

3.      Proof of means of livelihood
If you have Scholarship, the documents that prove you are receiving it.
If not, a copy of your bank account transactions for the past six months.

4.      Declaration elaborated by your institution (A formal letter/document provided by IST, in our case.)

5.      A proof that you have health insurance

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Lisbon - Week14

[01/12/2012] - We are getting closer to the final project deadlines, as the month of December reaches. I was bored and needed a change. Hence visited Colombo, Centro Comercial (metro station is Colegio Militar), bought Nexus7 tablet from Worten, and came back home. :)


Pensão Amor, which used to be a strip club at the former red light district of Cais do Sodré, in the historic times, is now a regular bar and a tourist attraction of Cais do Sodré, selling quality drinks as a bar. However, the price is simply thrice the amount than that you would find in the neighbourhood. Interestingly, it is crowded as it still holds the images and architectural marvels of its past pride. Check their website for some old live cams captured on the bar and the neighbourhood. We paid a quick visit to this place.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Google Code-In 2012


I am mentoring for GCI for Haiku for the second time this year. This presentation is based on my experience as a mentor for Haiku in Google Code-In 2011. Hence the examples used in this presentation are mostly from Haiku. I hope, this presentation will be useful to any student as an introduction to Google Code-In.

Please note that this year the code-in rules are slightly changed.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sri Lanka - La Isla Bonita..

[20/11/2012] - Lisbon - Weeks 12 & 13 - 3 months since I left Sri Lanka. We celebrated Deepawali in Lisbon, the 13th of November, at the Radha Krishna temple, followed by an Indian dinner at the temple.

The International Day!
It was interesting to represent Sri Lanka in the International Day at the IST Taguspark, the 19th of November. The presentation I used is given below. Copyright holders or origins of the images are indicated below the photos that are not mine.

 
"Tropical the island breeze.. All of nature, wild and free.. This is where I long to be.. La isla bonita.."

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Optimism is the selection of the nature

Lisbon - Week11
[06/11/2012] We got the Amazon accounts and now time to do some experiments on them. Reading is a trap, and it takes time. Mastering Linear Algebra in 10 Days: Astounding Experiments in Ultra-Learning seems to be a promising read. I myself feel the time to accelerate.

Optimism
Being optimistic is the natural choice. We usually worry more about future events, than the past. I usually explain: Say we were worried whether the event X will be favorable to us. We have two possible results. Either X is finally favorable to us, or it is not. If it is favorable, we actually didn't have to worry about it at all, for the past days. If it is not favorable, we didn't still have to worry for the past couple of days, as now we have more time to worry about it. :D My suggestion is, do not worry about the future events unnecessarily. It gives nothing. Each day throws more physical and mental challenges on us. We survive and thrive. We naturally do not worry whether the tomorrow be the last day of the planet, or at least for the individual, where the possibilities are pretty high.

In a parallel world
If we really think about the life events, we can notice one pattern. We can't actually pictorize our life in a chronological order. We remember the events in chunks, instead. For example, I can think about the university life of 2006 - 2010 the lectures, the time we wasted together with friends, and the Google Summer of Code developments (2009 - 2010). But I can hardly multiplex them. I remember how the coding with GSoC was interesting, and also remember the nice times we had at the university, mostly in an independent manner. Because, the life is parallel.

Memories
No matter how hard a situation feels at the moment, the memory it leaves is always a positive one for me. The first half of 2012 was not so easy, and it was full of challenges. However, when reviewing them after a few months, I don't have anything strong to regret. I just have the good memories of the array of events. Minor things we do often make a good memory after a year or two, if not by the end of the year. I am pretty sure the shuttle travel to Taguspark, highly interactive lecture sessions, living alone for the first time, having mixed feelings intermittently, stepping back and thinking positively, these weekly blog posts, and exploring Lisbon - everything will be very interesting memories!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Lisbon - Week10

[01/11/2012] Amidst a busy schedule of lectures and projects, we got a long weekend of four days with the All Saints Day today. We decided to join the Halloween at Bairro Alto, Wednesday, the 31st night. It was interesting.

Is Freelancer.com a complete scam, or a partial scam?

Reviewing a website or service is mostly not the target of Llovizna. However, due to the increased population of Freelancer.com, I wanted to provide some feedback and cautions on using this site.

Freelancer.com, as its name suggests, a web site that lets the freelancers meet the employers, or task/job/project providers. It is based on Australia, and has grown to a very high level that no other freelance company or organization can even reach. The strength of such web sites is its users. Freelancer has plenty of it. You can compare this strength with that of Facebook to some extent. While everyone complains about the Facebook's policies, no one bothers to switch. Why? Other websites do not have the users! (I am not underestimating the user base of elance.com or Odesk. They have a huge user base. So unlike Facebook, freelancer.com has a huge competition).

If you search the Internet as a user who got annoyed by the scammers in Freelancer.com, you may find multiple complaints. I hope a few of the suggestions I give here will be useful to you.

1) Chances are high that you may just lose money, instead of earning
After a several bids, you are awarded a project from an employer. Now you gladly accept the project. Freelancer will charge 10%, 5%, or 3% of the full amount immediately, based on your subscription. Most of the beginners start with a free account, and hence are charged 10% of the full amount from Freelancer.com.

As a newbie, chances are high that the experienced employers will not hire you. That means, you are getting your project from a newbie employer. In other words, an employer without any reviews. He may be a fraud. He may just try to get the job done, and leave without paying a cent. Freelancer suggest requesting a mile stone payment model for this, where you request at least 20% (suggested is 50%) of the complete amount. You start work only after getting the mile stone created. Once the mile stone created, the money will transfer from the employer's account to the Freelancer.com's bank account. So the chance of the employer cheating will be minimal. Once you have completed the job, the employer will inform Freelancer.com that the project is completed and hence the payment can be released.

However, say, the employer decides to stop communicating with you, as soon as you accept the project. As Freelancer.com suggests, you will not start working till he creates the milestone. You may avoid working without getting paid, in this manner. However, even if you decide to abort the project, Freelancer will not refund its charges, in ANY case. This is clearly mentioned in its FAQ. That means, if you accept a project worth 500 USD, your credit card will be immediately charged 50 USD. Whether the employer is genuine or not is not the question.

2 Possibilities:
Worst Case: You will not be completely paid the 500 USD, as you are new, and hence met with an evil employer. You will end up with a loss of 50 USD, and with an incomplete project which will ruin your freelancer.com profile for eternity.
Best Case: You got an awesome project and an awesome employer, who promptly pays 500 USD. Note that your card was charged 50 USD in day-0, and say you complete the task in day-2. You will have to wait for a month or even two, to get the first payment from Freelancer.com. Check the next point (Point-2) given below to see why!

2) Getting your first payment out of Freelancer is a nightmare.
Let's say, you have successfully completed your first project and want to get paid. Now comes the troubles. For some unknown security reasons, they have included a 3 week period of verification, before the first payment. That means, employer pays the complete amount, fully satisfied with your job. This broker (i.e. Freelancer.com), decides to keep your amount in 3 weeks, in their bank accounts.

Let's think of a few cases.
Case 1:
You get paid for a project - 200 USD. You request withdrawal via paypal for 200 USD. Reducing 1 USD, they schedule 199 USD, to pay in 3 weeks. Now, within that three weeks period, you are awarded another project worth 100 USD, from the same or another employer. As you accept the project, Freelancer will immediately charge you 10 USD (or according to your subscription). Where will they charge from? Not from your credit card this time. They will charge from your Freelacer.com balance instead. Now the balance will be 200 USD - 10 USD = 190 USD in your account, where your previous request for the transaction was 200 USD. With the below message, Freelancer.com will cancel your payment request! "Not enough funds to complete your withdrawal request!"

You may request for 190 USD again now. They will schedule your payment now. But it will be scheduled again for a day after 3 weeks, again! Wait for 3 more weeks!

Case 2:
You have a basic subscription. You, as in case 1, have asked a transfer. Since you know that accepting a project at this moment will cancel your payment request, now you are cautious. You will try not to withdraw the complete amount. Say, you request just 100 USD, to avoid facing the above mentioned issue repeatedly, or you decide not to work with Freelancer.com till you receive your first 200 USD withdrawal request. Now, assuming that you have a subscription with a monthly fees (not a free account). Within 3 weeks, the next month will come and Freelancer.com will charge the monthly fees from your balance, and cancel the transaction request as in Case-1. Freelancer.com will give an evil smile to you, as a big troll!

How to avoid these?
1) Once you have received your first payment from Freelancer.com, the consequent payments are done twice a week, and hence will not take much time. Just be cautious, if you are a new user. Once you received the payment for the first job, do not try to withdraw the entire amount. Chances are pretty high that the balance will go negative, and your payment request will be cancelled, as we saw in previous cases. Request withdrawal for just a part of it. Say, 150 USD (75%), instead of the entire 200 USD. Avoid accepting any big scale project, till you receive your first payment. Once you have received your first payment, you will become a master, and will not require to read this blog post at all.

2) Avoid having multiple currencies in your account, and try to keep USD as your default. Say you keep Euro as your primary currency. When you are awarded 200 USD, you decide to change half of it (100 USD) to Euro. You will have to face additional hurdles by this.
* Freelancer.com money conversion facility is not free. It will charge you.
* Say you have 100 USD and 60 Euro in your Freelancer.com, as you have transferred a 100 USD to Euro, as above. Now you have requested the withdrawal of 60 USD, and your primary currency is Euro. At this moment, if a project is awarded, or if Freelancer.com decides to charge you the monthly subscription fee, they will surely charge from the 70 Euro, as it is your primary currency, and they will not touch the 100 USD. That means, though you felt that you have balance in your account, so that your transaction is safe, it is not safe, in real. Freelancer.com will get an additional chance to delay your payment by further 3 weeks. It is better to keep the balance in a single currency, which is also your primary currency, to avoid this. In other words, better to stick to USD.

3) Avoid accepting suspicious projects.
A few cheats open jobs with very high amounts, targeting the newbies to cheat. In these cases, the employers themselves too will be new, or at least will have negative ratings. It is always better to avoid the first project with a higher value to reduce the risk of immediate money loss to Freelancer.com in the name of bidding charges. Within a few days of testing, I just lost 50 USD to Freelance.com, just because I accepted a project from a suspicious employer, who didn't bother to respond further, after I accepted the project. Probably, he must have thought that I am clueless, and would work without getting the milestone payment requests accepted (without getting paid).

An update made on the 6th of August 2013: Always Google for the project title and the description.  Some of the employers themselves are freelancers in freelancer.com or similar sites. I was contacted by an 'employer' in Freelancer.com to complete a task for 80 USD. He was sending me the information over personal email instead of using Freelancer.com, against the Freelancer policies. I asked him to create a project in Freelancer.com with milestone, and also let him know that my budget is 200 Euro. He rejected the offer, as it is beyond his budget. A quick Google revealed me that, he was hired by another employer to do the project for 200 USD, and now he is trying to subcontract me for 80 USD! Obviously 200 Euro is greater than 200 USD. So he didn't hire me.

In this case, the original genuine employer has offered him a reasonable amount to do the task. Now this freelancer himself has become an 'employer', and is trying to get an innocent freelancer to do the same task for peanuts! Now he will be able to finish the task and earn 120 USD without any effort, while securing good reviews on Freelancer.com for the quality job. Seems many of these 100 - 150 Words for 1 USD article deals are made this way. Some experienced freelancers prey on the novice/new freelancers, who are otherwise talented. It is a shortcoming of the freelancing sites that they focus only on the reputation on the site, and not the experience and qualification of the freelancer, outside the website or network.

By being extra careful, you will be able to receive your first payment within a month, escaping the dirty tricks of the scam users of freelancer.com, and once you have received your first payment, you will be fine with the game! Hope this long blog post was useful for you. Wish you all the best, and hope to see you soon with the critical analysis of yet another service.

You may read the sequel of this post titled, "Freelancer.com exams and reviews - why you should not trust them.." for a more recent analysis and review.

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Lisbon - Week9

Brigadeiro - A Brazilian sweet mix, made of
condensed milk and butter
[25/10/2012] We have completed six weeks at IST, and are currently busy with the projects.

Two months!
I usually live a life, something similar to that of a kids' fantasy movie. While completing my second month at Lisbon, I thank Instituto Superior Técnico, KTH - Kungliga Tekniska högskolan, and the EMDC Consortium for the great EMDC program, and my special thanks goes to my mom who supports me in all my crazy decisions. :-) It's a great pleasure to study at IST from a great staff and a wonderful set of friends. I always recall the blessings of Vishaka madam, Shehan Sir, Chandana Sir, and the staff of University of Moratuwa (UOM), which always give me a very strong positive energy. The greetings and prayers of the good people are always a great strength. I still recall the 19th of August, when I said goodbye to my friends. Just taking a moment to thank everyone who are with me during all the tough times.
 

Autumn!
Right now, Lisbon is really wet and cold! Rainy days. Have a look at the web site of the weather station at IST. Thank god, it is not that cold (yet)! Anyway, not to compare with the world's coldest spots, such as Oymyakon or Grise Fiord. I guess, Stockholm will be closer. Boa noite!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Installing OMPP-0.7.1 OpenMP Profiler on Ubuntu 12.04

OMPP is a profiler for OpenMP. Installing and running it on Ubuntu is pretty straight forward, and is discussed below, assuming you already have gcc and g++ installed on your system, with OpenMP support.

Download OMPP and extract.

Set the below parameters in Makefile.defs in the ompp-0.7.1 directory.
# Set the Installation Directory (different from the extracted directory).

# root directory for the installation
# e.g., INSTDIR=$(HOME)/ompp or INSTDIR=/usr
INSTDIR=/home/pradeeban/programs/ompp-0.7.1/ompp

# Set OpenMP C/C++ compiler
# e.g., OMPCC=icc, OMPCC=pathcc, etc.
OMPCC=gcc


# Set OpenMP C/C++ compiler flag,
# e.g., OMPFLAG=-openmp, OMPFLAG=-mp
OMPFLAG=-fopenmp


# Optionally, you may also set an output directory.
OMPP_OUTDIR=$(INSTDIR)/output
Now you may 'make'.
make
make install


Set ompp to your path variable in your ~/.bashrc.
export OMPPDIR_HOME=/home/pradeeban/programs/ompp-0.7.1/ompp
export PATH=$PATH:$OMPPDIR_HOME/bin

Optionally you may also set the output format of the report into formats such as CSV.
export OMPP_OUTFORMAT=CSV

Now you should be able to compile and run your C/OpenMP application with ompp as below.
kinst-ompp gcc -fopenmp mult-good.c -o mult-good
./mult-good
 
Upon running the application, an output file with the results will be created.
mult-good.2-0.ompp.txt

Note:
You may encounter the below error when 'make install'
`lib/libompp.a' and `/home/pradeeban/programs/ompp-0.7.1/lib/libompp.a' are the same file

This is because of setting the installation as same as the extracted directory of ompp, in Makefile.defs. Installation Directory should be different from the directory that you extracted, to avoid conflicting with the lib files. I have created a directory "ompp" inside the extraction directory for this.
# root directory for the installation
# e.g., INSTDIR=$(HOME)/ompp or INSTDIR=/usr
INSTDIR=/home/pradeeban/programs/ompp-0.7.1/ompp



When compiling with kinst-ompp  in Ubuntu you may encounter the below error.
ERROR: unbalanced pragma/directive nesting 
Make sure to have the line endings of the source files to have Linux/Unix, as the above error was found when the source file contains the "Windows" line endings.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lisbon - Weeks 7 & 8

oh, I am becoming a loyal customer of Pingo Doce.. ;)
[17/10/2012] - This fortnight went pretty fast. Probably, I am feeling so, because we are getting familiar with the lectures, the campuses, and Lisbon. 

Life at Técnico
We have two days lectures at Alameda, and two days at Taguspark. However, we feel more attached to Taguspark, as we spend more time there, where we just return home during the lunch breaks at Alameda. Returning to our apartment is not an option for Taguspark. Moreover, the shuttle travel is pretty interesting. I joined INESC-ID on the 9th of October. We got some interesting tasks to do. We got the access to campus Fenix site, and received the student identity cards, along with an email address. Portuguese classes have started at IST. It will be 40 hours, with 2.5 hrs a lesson, with 2/3 lessons a week, followed by a final exam. Seems it will be interesting.

Central Mosque of Lisboa
Mosque Visit
I have gone to many religious places including the Hindu temples, Buddhist temples, Christian and Catholic churches, and Sikh Gurudwaras. But this was my first time to go to an Islamic place of worship. The Central Mosque of Lisbon (Mesquita Central De Lisboa) is situated at S. Sebastiao, the end of red line. We loved the mosque and the environment. It was remarkable.

Life as an exchange student
Moving to another country, as an exchange student or otherwise, gives an additional advantage. It gives you a chance to change your habits. Probably, you can overcome your addictions, or simply start a life with new paradigms there. For example, you may be a night owl in your home country, and in the host country, you may be able to overcome that habit pretty easily. We can always consider the positive effects of this.

Bairro Alto
Night skyline at Bairro Alto
Bairro Alto comes to life in the night. It is where the youths of Lisbon come for a road side beer, to stay on the roads for the entire night, talking to random strangers. This place is ideal to break ice with guys and girls, from different countries. As the famous Erasmus Corner and the related bars are located in this area, this place is always full of exchange students. Chances are high for you to meet a national of your country, if you regularly pay a visit here. We had our dinner at an Indian restaurant located here, followed by a long night over the roads of Bairro Alto.

Statue of poet António Ribeiro, the "Chiado", in the Chiado Square in the night.
It is rainy days here. We are already given the project topics for the modules. oh, and just noticed how clearly Google Maps shows my apartment. :) These days may be good, bad, busy, boring, fun, confused, tiresome, sleepless, or whatever. but are surely remarkable and unforgettable. :) vê-lo na próxima semana!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Installing Ethereal on Ubuntu - 12.04

Ethereal is a popular network protocol analyzer, currently known as Wireshark. Wireshark can easily be installed on Ubuntu and the Debian based systems, using, sudo apt-get install wireshark to install, and run wireshark.

However, you can still find the binary packages of the previous versions of Ethereal. The ubuntu/debian package link is broken. But, building from source is pretty easy. Download the source and extract. Move to the root directory of ethereal, and using the below commands, you can simply build and run Ethereal, without much effort.

./configure

Install required dependencies, such as libpcap, that may be missing in your system.
sudo apt-get install libpcap-dev
Make
make
sudo make install

Confirm the installation by running ethereal from terminal.
ethereal

Friday, October 5, 2012

Lisbon - Week6

Arraial Do Tecnico at IST
[5/10/2012] - So the month of September is completed. Now into a new month.

Quotes from the lecturers!
The lectures are going pretty interesting. Some quotes from the lecturers are really wonderful and deserve sharing here.  
"If you think that way, the rocket to the moon is a glorified firework" - Our Cloud Computing Professor.
"Human nature - That is difficult to understand" and
"Small world, it's difficult to accept as being similar to reality"
- Our Peer-to-Peer Systems professor.
I am enjoying the analogies and thoughts shared by the professors at Instituto Superior Técnico.. ♥

Arraial Do Tecnico
IST by night
We had one of the most famous annual open music concerts of Lisbon, at IST last night and tonight. We enjoyed the music, and broke ice with many other local and exchange students. The night was colourful. We were listening to some nice music from José Malhoa, Dirtyphonics and a few other bands. I am becoming a fan of José Malhoa.

La Isla Bonita..
Everyone who has been an exchange student surely would have experienced the feeling of missing his country at times. This might have been considered a 'cultural shock,' but it is not. You can still miss your home country, while enjoying your stay at the host country, as an exchange student. Unlike the migration, where you usually migrate to another country with your entire family, an exchange student goes to another country, leaving his or her family and loved ones at the home country. 

The minor things that we did with our family or significant others will be truly missed. In one way, it gives some strong life experiences. Exchange programs are not just learning the course modules. It lets us learn to adopt to a new world, and to value our relationships. I surely had a nice time in Sri Lanka, the beautiful island, and truly miss it, and the memories I had there. It will be one happy day, when I return to my country, with an academic success.

2012
I smiled even during the most challenging times, and made many interesting and tough decisions single-handedly, this year. I am strong in my journey. 2012 is a beautiful year. Smile!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Lisbon - Week5

Radha Krishna Temple, Lisboa
[30/09/2012] August 23rd, 2012 was a Thursday. So my weeks count at Lisboa ends at Wednesdays, and I am supposed to blog on the weekly posts on Thursday, for the past week of Thursday - Wednesday. Anyway, no one is going to assess these posts, and reward me for accuracy. Hence no worries. Here I am blogging for the last 10 days ending with yesterday!

Lectures!
Now the lab sessions have started, and we will get the project descriptions the week starting from tomorrow. We have already completed two weeks of lecture. I will blog about the lectures and how our 3 3-member teams are going ahead with the projects, separately! Ana Milosavljevic and Tamás Balogh are the other two members in my team, and we will surely have some nice projects by end of the semester.

Cats of Lisbon are awesome!
Autumn has begun
We are no more with summer, and it is getting too cold a few nights. Autumn has just arrived! A few of my friends living here didn't forget to scare that winter will be even colder and it will be cold more inside the apartment than outside, at the road!

Templo Radha Krishna
We had a nice time at Comunidade Hindu de Portugal. The temple (Photos) is located at Telheiras, the end of the green line. The temple also has a nice canteen that sells Indian sweets at a reasonable price. The canteen sells lunch too.

Llovizna
With these weekly posts, I can see that blog Llovizna is currently in its third generation. It started in 2008, under my own name ("Kathiravelu Pradeeban") with some random technical entries. By repositioning it under the title "Llovizna," I made my blog to move into its second generation, targeting to address the common reader base of my blog. Recently, with the move to Lisbon, my blog is shaping as more of a travel entries of an exchange student. I can see the difference in the Google advertisements posted on my blog too. Earlier they were almost always about some software. Now they are more about universities, travel and holidays at Europe, and localized content targeting Portuguese. This may be because I am connecting from Portugal, and hence the segmentation. However, I will also keep blogging on the technical aspects, and will maintain the Llovizna-quality in the upcoming posts, that will be useful for the readers.

2013
Just 3 more months for the coming year. 2012 is really going awesome. Vê-lo novamente em breve!

Virtual Credit and Debit Cards..

It was impossible to transfer money to a paypal account in Sri Lanka or India, or transfer money that already exists in the paypal account to a local bank in Sri Lanka or India. Since now I am in Europe, it should be possible. I decided to update the address, and see how it goes.

I learned that changing the country in the paypal account is impossible, and we just have to create a new account with the new address, new credit/debit card, and new phone number, dropping the old account. So now I need Portugal credit card. The debit card I got from BPI for my current account was a temporary card, and it doesn't hold those three digit security code. That simply means, I can't use it online.
Then my friend Dipesh introduced me to the Virtual Debit Card. I was able to buy it from the near by ATM and activate it from the MB web site. The card will have a valid period of either a year, or till your card expires, whichever that comes first. Now, I can buy stuff online using this virtual card, and I also linked it to my paypal account.

I find these virtual cards interesting, just like the VMWare that runs on top of the host operating system, and is capable of running multiple guest operating systems on top of it.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Lisbon - Week4

Instituto Superior Tecnico - Taguspark Campus
[21/09/2012] Yesterday, it was exactly one month since I left Sri Lanka. I flew to New Delhi on the 20th of August, with a transit of 3 days, and reached Lisbon the 23rd. That also means, I am marking my first month at Lisbon the day after tomorrow. The world is however highly connected. Thanks to the Internet, Skype, and Facebook, I am tightly connected to Sri Lanka.

Taguspark 
An IST shuttle service connects Taguspark - Oeiras campus with the Alameda - Lisbon campus, which is otherwise, poorly connected to Lisbon. Taguspark is a science and technology park, full of major companies and industries. It seems the easiest way to reach to Tagus Park through public transport is through the bus route 15, which is infrequent. Hence we have to be careful not to miss the shuttle. Taguspark area is closer to beach, where the shuttle often takes the route through the scenic road adjacent to the beach and the Tagus river.

Lectures!
Lectures are going pretty interesting. We have formed 3 groups of 3 consisting of the 9 EMDC students for the lab sessions and projects, for all 4 modules. Apart from the Erasmus Mundus students, some local masters students as well as the Erasmus Students too join our lectures. Lab sessions will commence starting from next week.

Integrity Aristotle
I recently joined Elance, and wanted to verify my profile. They scheduled a skype video for integrity verification with Integrity Aristotle, which is a global id, and age verification service provided by Aristotle. I was not aware of the existence of such service before, and it was a nice learning experience for me. The service called me on the scheduled interview time, just to take a quick photo through the video chat. Within a few minutes, my Elance profile got a "verified" badge. Sounds interesting. Isn't it?

Our lectures have begun, and chances are high that these weekly posts getting shrunk. Vamos esperar e ver. :-)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Lisbon - Week3

Delicious Octopus at Sintra-Pena!
[15/05/2012] we were able to meet each other following the same course, and break ice this week. We received our admission letter signed by the EMDC coordinators from KTH, along with the insurance for the year. We also had a welcome reception by NMCI, and received a welcome kit that included a local SIM, with the operator Moche. Our lectures begin the coming Monday, the 17th of September.

The time table is given!
The modules for the first semester will be, Peer-to-peer Systems and Overlay Networks (Codenamed "SERS"), Cloud Computing (CN), Network and Computer Security (SIRS), and Parallel and Distributed Computing (CPD). We will have the lectures and lab sessions of SERS and CN on Mondays and Wednesdays at the Tagus Park campus of Instituto Superior Tecnico, where the SIRS and CPD will be on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Alameda - Lisbon campus. Both campuses are connected by the IST shuttle service, for the students' transport.

Museu de Marinha
We paid a visit to Museu de Marinha (Photos). It is a wonderful place. It is free for entrance on Sundays, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Make sure to enter the ticket counter before 2 p.m., and get the ticket, free!

Cascais
Sunset at Cascais
Cascais and Estoril are two of the mostly praised beaches in Lisbon. We walked from Cascais to Estoril (Photos). Seagulls everywhere! The Sunset was scenic. The beach water was cold, probably because we are reaching the end of the summer, and autumn is coming to us! I was able to notice the oil wastes leaking from the sailing boats polluting the sea water.

Sintra
The train travel to Sintra (Photos) was remarkable. Our 35 Euro monthly charge of the travel card covers only the Lisbon area. Hence we had to buy the train tickets (one-day) for Cascais and Sintra, as they are not under Lisbon urban area that is covered, though they are still in Greater Lisbon. The forests and environment of Sintra reminded me Sri Lanka, and its forestation in the places like Ohiya. I had grilled octopus at the restaurant of Pena Castle - Sintra. It was delicious!

ESN Card
Students are really interested in getting the ESN (Erasmus Students Network) and Erasmus Lisboa cards. ESN card is 5 Euro/month, and Erasmus Lisboa is 10 Euro/month. Both come with exciting offers, free parties, and discounted trips. We joined ESN. It was a long queue with students from different countries!

Connecting with family
Museu de Marinha
Studying abroad teaches some life lessons, while also letting us learn to survive in a new environment, alone. Communication with friends and those with an access to the Internet is always easy for me, as I am online, almost always, when I am home. But calling my parents who do not appear online much was always a bit expensive. Skype came to help at this point. I credited my Skype account with 10 Euro. It also charged an additional 1.5 Euro, as a tax, which is applicable only to the countries of European Union. Since I am from Portugal, I had to pay the additional amount! It costs 0.121 Euro/minute to call Sri Lanka. I found the country-specific monthly skype credit option cheaper. You can buy 60 minutes of skype credits for Sri Lanka, for a month, for just 6.29 USD (4.79 Euro). This is just 0.08 Euro/minute. I will go for this option henceforth.

Our lectures start the day after tomorrow. I have stayed at Lisbon for almost a month, without any lectures. Now the real schedule begins! You can expect more blog posts on the course works in Llovizna very soon. :) Bom fim-de-semana!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Why you should avoid traveler's cheques?

View from Oceanario de Lisboa
I was so much into traveler's cheques, as they are safe, and in addition, their advantages are preached a lot. However, after having difficulty in encashing them in Lisbon, and spending a lot of money for this, I realized, it is a good idea to avoid it, unless you are flying with a considerably high amount of money. Your passport and a return ticket are required to obtain a standard traveler's cheque from a bank. I learned from HSBC, Colombo-06 that the maximum I can take to New Delhi from Colombo was traveler's cheque worth of 1000 Euro, when I tried to purchase 2000 Euro of traveler's cheques. To purchase the traveler's cheque of 1000 Euro (168,280 LKR), I had to pay an additional amount of around 15 Euro (2524 LKR). Since even to change the currency, we need to pay almost the same amount. Hence I don't consider this an additional expense, as my alternative would be to take the cash with me, in Euro.

However, after having difficulty in encashing them in Lisbon, and spending a lot of money for this, I realized, it is a good idea to avoid it, unless you are flying with a considerably high amount of money. Your passport and a return ticket are required to obtain a standard traveler's cheque from a bank. I learned from HSBC, Colombo-06 that the maximum I can take to New Delhi from Colombo was traveler's cheque worth of 1000 Euro, when I tried to purchase 2000 Euro of traveler's cheques. To purchase the traveler's cheque of 1000 Euro (168,280 LKR), I had to pay an additional amount of around 15 Euro (2524 LKR). Since even to change the currency, we need to pay almost the same amount. Hence I don't consider this an additional expense, as my alternative would be to take the cash with me, in Euro.Now, I am with the traveler's cheques worth 1000 Euro (100Euro * 10), in Lisbon, trying to encash them.

Interestingly, among the branches of 3 banks in IST, BPI and Santander Totta clearly declined to encash. They mentioned that they had stopped using it! Thank God, Caixa Geral de Depositos, the third bank in the campus, agreed to encash. The bank officer noted that he hadn't seen a traveler's cheque for months! I have to pay a comissao of 33.65 Euro and Imposto s/commissao of 1.35 Euro, making it 35 Euro of total commission. Deducting this from the amount of 1000 Euro, I was paid 965 Euro. Please note that the traveler's cheques are already in Euro. So this 35 Euro was a waste of money that I had to spend just because of my unwanted attraction towards the traveler's cheques. To repeat what I mentioned before, avoid traveler's cheques, unless you are planning to travel to a city full of thieves!

Now, I am with the traveler's cheques worth 1000 Euro (100Euro * 10), in Lisbon, trying to encash them. Interestingly, among the branches of 3 banks in IST, BPI and Santander Totta clearly declined to encash. They mentioned that they had stopped using it! Thank God, Caixa Geral de Depositos, the third bank in the campus, agreed to encash. The bank officer noted that he hadn't seen a traveler's cheque for months! I had to pay a comissao of 33.65 Euro and Imposto s/commissao of 1.35 Euro, making it 35 Euro of total commission (3.5%). Deducting this from the amount of 1000 Euro, I was paid 965 Euro. Please note that the traveler's cheques are already in Euro. So this 35 Euro was a waste of money that I had to spend just because of my unwanted attraction towards the traveler's cheques. To repeat what I mentioned before, avoid traveler's cheques to save your time and money, unless you are planning to travel to a city full of thieves, or if you have already confirmed that the country/city you are visiting is traveler's-cheque-friendly, and they change them at the major banks or shopping centers for free or for a minimal charge.

An update on 30/12/2012: "With effect from 1 January 2013, The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited "(Bank)" will discontinue the sale of Travellers' Cheques service, while the encashment / payment of Travellers' Cheques service will not be affected."
That is a message from my Sri Lankan bank. It seems that traveller's Cheques are becoming old-style.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Lisbon - Week2

25 de Abril Bridge
[07/09/2012] - I was saying to myself, that I won't be able to continue Llovizna as a travel blog, though I wanted to reposition it. Contrary to my own disbelief, I am here summarizing the week2.

Travel Card
Getting a travel card to travel across Lisbon was surely an important and urgent task for us to do. We took it in the "urgent" option, which is option C. We got the card the same day, after waiting for 3 hours in the queue. We just needed to take a photograph and passport with us. We had to pay 12 Euro for this. Under the normal service, it takes up to 10 days for the card to be released. We charged the card for one month (35 Euro), for the Lisbon urban area, so that we can move anywhere in Lisbon in Metro, bus, or any such public transport.

Metros
Castelo de S.Jorge
Metros are pretty frequent in Lisbon, and is the mostly recommended medium to travel - buses are not that frequent, compared to metro. Our station Arroios is located between Anjos and Alameda, on the way to Rossio from Alameda.

Bank Account
Next we had to open a bank account. IST has branches of three banks. We were encouraged to open an account at BPI, where we can open a current account free of charge.

NMCI │ Núcleo de Mobilidade e Cooperação Internacional
I submitted the filled admission form, photographs, and the passport scanned copy, by hand. Got some leaflets.

Yellow Bus
Yellow bus is the most convenient way to explore Lisbon. It is identical to the HoHo bus we saw in New Delhi in the way it operates. The only difference is, the Yellow bus provides 4 routes, where we can explore all 4 of them. There are alternate services similar to Yellow Bus too. One such service titled "Lisbon Sightseeing" offers this for 24 hours. But since we got 48 hours, we were able to travel 3 days! (Saturday evening, Sunday whole day, and Monday morning). The 4 routes are Tagus tour, Olisipo tour, Tram tour by the hills, and Belem tour. These tours start and end at Rossio. We took metro from our station Arroios to Rossio. Keep your yellow bus ticket safe forever, as if you produce the card when you want to buy them for the second time, you will get a 50% off, straightly. Isn't that just awesome? :)

Sightseeing in Lisbon
A crab in Oceanario Lisboa
The yellow bus Olisipo and Tagus tour are on a double decker bus, which has an open upper floor for us to sit and enjoy Lisbon. We visited Belem on the Tagus route. Belem is awesome, by the banks of Rio Tejo (Tagus River). It has a museum of weapons inside the riverside fort - Santa Maria de Belém (5 Euro) - (Photos). I loved the lemon tea by the river side. The "25th of April" bridge reminds San Fransisco.

Estrela
Basilica de Estrela and the park in Estrela are surely not-to-miss (Photos). A tram tour from there is a good option. Trams are pretty slow, and since they share the same route as the ground transport, they often have to wait till the traffic clears up.

Oceanario
Lisbon Aquarium (Oceanário de Lisboa) (16 Euro) (Photos) is a must-visit, on Olisipo tour (Photos). It provides a nice view of the longest bridge of Lisbon - The Vasco da Gama Bridge (Portuguese: Ponte Vasco da Gama)

Sao Jorge Castle
Sao Jorge castle (9 Euro) (Photos) is yet another interesting place, where one can geta bird's eye view of the entire Lisbon. As it is a hilly place connected by a narrow road, the mini bus connects it - but not the regular big buses.

IST
We have 9 students following EMDC at IST. Most of them have already arrived at Lisbon, and we are meeting each other, and breaking ice already. Seems the upcoming days will be more fun. Manter contato! ^ ^

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Lisbon - Week1

It is one week since I arrived at Lisbon (the 23rd of August)! I have started settling down. Since I got two Portuguese speaking apartment mates, and a friendly Portuguese landlord, I am pretty sure, I will be able to learn Portuguese pretty quick. It is my first time staying away from home for a long period. My longest was the recent stay of 10 days in New Delhi.

I was the first to arrive. Since this is a vacation time, the university, including the university bank branches, is closed almost completely. Probably since this is the end of summer, the weather in Lisbon doesn't feel like a summer, rather it was mildly cold with 20°c, along with long days. The Sun sets around the 8.20 p.m.

We were able to grab some useful and interesting tips from the landlord. In the supermarkets, the brands marked as "%" are the own brands of the super market, and are generally cheaper, though are of the same quality as the others. Pingo Doce and Minipreco, the two super market chains of Lisbon, provide the economic options.

We will be provided with a SIM for our phones by the university, where we will be able to call anyone in the university network free of charge. That will surely be fun, as we will be calling our friends free! Apart from the regular marketing for goods, we also did minor road trips. The upcoming days will surely be more interesting, I feel. :) boa noite!

Year 2012 - a year of changes

Opposite to IST, Alameda, Lisbon
Time has gone pretty fast. When I was selected to follow the Erasmus Mundus European Master in Distributed Computing (EMDC) in the first half of this year, going to Lisbon seems to be far away. But sorry for repeating the phrase again - time has gone pretty fast. I was selected to DMKM (Erasmus Mundus Master Course in Data Mining and Knowledge Management) as well, where the first year will be at University of Lyon Lumière Lyon 2 in France and the second at University Polithenica of Bucharest in Romania. Distributed Computing and Data Mining both are my research interests. Considering the advantages of both the courses, finally I decided to follow EMDC. I quickly accepted the offer for EMDC, and started working on that.

Getting the Portugal study visa of course needed a considerable effort. It also made me travel twice to New Delhi. I utilized my first trip to New Delhi in summer as a sight-seeing tour in New Delhi. It was a great experience, including the negotiations with the three-wheeler drivers. The second trip made me float. I was even worried whether my travel documents got wet by the heavy showers, on my way to the Portugal Embassy in Chanakyapuri. Thanks to God, my bag was strong enough not to let the water in.

I was working at WSO2 for the last 2 years, and it was my job since I graduated. Interestingly I was an intern too at WSO2. It was a great learning experience, as my first job. For some unknown reason, the Emirates decided to send me in the business class, though I had bought a ticket for the economic class. That gave me a positive feeling (Feeling lucky.. :D)

Lisbon seems pretty cool, and started to settle down here. Along with these changes, Llovizna too is facing a few changes (may I say, improvements?) I foresee, the completely new set of blog posts dominating the blog, along with my traditional mixture of technical and personal posts. I see a few posts on my experience on studying abroad, and related tours. Hope that will make Llovizna sexier. ;) To match with this, I have enabled the Google ads into my blog, as I feel they give provide some advertisements that are related and useful to the readers. For example, I could see the advertisements of the European scholarship programs in the blog post that mentions about the European Study visa. Hope the overall reader experience is made more positive.

I hope the upcoming days will be more exciting, as the course is starting on the 17th of September. I will keep the readers updated on this. Tenha um bom dia!

Diaspora - an open source alternative to facebook?

I recall, one of my tweets, two years back.
hopes #diaspora* (http://www.joindiaspora.com/) will become a nice alternative to #Facebook soon, as ppl hav started to realize fb's tricks. May 29, 2010  

Diaspora is supposed to be an open (open source) alternative of Facebook. As the same case with Windows, we claim Facebook too an evil, regardless of its popularity, and regardless of the fact that all of us use it. Nevertheless, nothing hasn't overtaken Facebook yet, and the attempts to mimic or replace it have generally failed. Google+ appeared to be a competition. Still it seems to be a mere cross of Facebook and Twitter, while not causing the much expected stir. Many of the users haven't failed to notice when Google+ follows what Facebook already does. For e.g., the cover photo. Facebook fanatics have already started claiming Google+ a failure.

An interesting fact of diaspora is, as a community run, distributed social network, it tends to have so many installations online, where you can register for one of them. joindiaspora was the first of them, and https://diasp.eu
and https://wk3.org are two among the other few. Much attention to diaspora is not given from the general user base. Probably because of its community driven and distributed nature, it lacks a central location or network to evangelize about, except the excitement from the open source enthusiasts.

For me, it seems it is not that easy to replace Gmail or Facebook that easily. All the gmail-killers or facebook-killers that have been introduced lately failed to grab the attention of real users, except the reviewers.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Micronations and ocean colonization

Two years back, I got to know about the Republic of Rose Island. An engineer, along with some professionals, gets creative, and decides to build an island nation in the mid of the sea. However, later it was dashed by Italy, due to the legal violations of Italian law. Probably he could have implemented it legally.

Stories of micronations resemble fairy tales, and in the worst cases, they sound like a mere hoax. After 2 years from this, recently I read about another micronation, known as Sealand, which also seems to be active till present. Interestingly, the Principality of Sealand has been selling the titles of Lord, Lady, Baron, Baroness, Count, and Countess through its website. 

I still feel, ocean colonization is interesting. If living in these artificial islands in the mid of the international sea borders is possible, living in another planet won't be that hard either. Let's first colonize the ocean, and secondly we can colonize the space!