MonthMarch 2013

Calculating the population of India on Wikipedia

Exploring the English Wikipedia randomly, I encountered this template used to approximate the current live population of India. It uses the following simple formula:

(1176242 + 42.197260273969 * days_since(2010,1,26)) * 000

It’s based on population at a specific data + projected growth. The ‘update’ is done by (best guess) some bot hitting action=purge every night to re-do the calculation.

And where is this used? After looking at the template’s info page, the only article this seems to be used in is the India article, and that too only for population density statistics, rather than actual population statistics. Weird, since if Density can be calculated based on projection, I guess population could be too.

The machinations that people invent on Wikipedia are very fascinating! I hope to discover more over time. If you’ve suggestions on places for me to look (please, no WPBannerMeta / associated templates!), leave comments!

Arranged Shag & Childbirth Without Sex

Absolutely hilarious, but you could easily dub out a few words and have it pass for real. Not sure if funny or sad.

Has quote about how Jesus was Indian, because among other things, because “Parents had a son without having sex”.

This entire BBC series (Goodness Gracious Me) is incredibly hilarious. Most of them are on Youtube. Highly recommended.

Thanks to QCoder from #wikipedia-en for the tip. Cheered up an otherwise bad day :)


Entitled to an Outsourced Job

Trigger warning: Completely inappropriate background music for the subject matter being discussed

I ran into this very interesting video from Senthil‘s facebook feed. The part that I found most interesting was the sense of entitlement – that despite not knowing anything about what they are going to be hired for (aka Programming), and admitting it to everyone, they still expect to be given jobs when they want.

While this would make sense in someplace like the military, where you go in and then train, it makes no sense for graduates of an engineering program, where they spent 4 years of their life training. They claim that they spent four years studying programming but can not pass a simple written programming test, and do not want to even attempt writing it.

I don’t understand engineering students, and I’ve been surrounded by them for the last 5 years.

Tor Flashproxies on your browser

Tor is one of those things that you don’t really need at all until you really really need it. I don’t need it right now, but I still try to help it as much as possible. One of the easiest way to do so is to run a flashproxy (has nothing to do with Adobe!) on your browser – super simple to setup, and effective for people looking for bridges.

The easiest way to use it if you’re a Chrome user is to use the CupCake extension (the initial colorscheme is a bit… geocities-y, but I’ve sent in a patch to fix that). You can also add this snippet to your Mediawiki wiki either as a userscript or gadget. If you’re running a site, you can simply use the snippet on the flashproxy site to have it run for all your visitors.

Experiencing ‘Embrace, Extend & Extinguish’

I am too young to remember Microsoft doing anything that could be considered effective ‘Embrace, Extend & Extinguish’ (my first browser when using internet at home was Firefox 0.9), and hence could never appreciate the general suspicion with which everything Microsoft was viewed with. Google’s handling of Reader has remedied that for me, however. I was around to witness all the events that Ed Bott at ZDNet discusses, and hopefully I have learnt my lesson.

Fool me once…

On Whatsapp

Whatsaapp (and GTalk) has completely replaced SMS for me. The only sore point was that it was not ‘Android’y enough – looked too much like an iOS port, but it worked well enough (and had enough people in it) that my forays into Hike were never long enough. The latest update fixes the design to be a lot more flat and pleasing to the eyes, and I’m quite happy to stick to it. (Plus I just ran into their post about why Advertising sucks, so doubly happy to support them :) )

Mediawiki Bugzilla quips, aka ‘Behind the Scenes (sortof)’

You might have heard of If not, do go there! (And I am sorry about your afternoon)

Mediawiki maintains something similar, but much shorter in size & form, at Bugzilla quips. I already appear a few times, but will try to appear some more!

Android RegEx bug: ‘null’ replacement with Matcher.replaceAll

Android’s Regular Expressions engine is API compatible with the generic Java implementation, but under the hood uses ICU’s RegEx engine. This usually causes no problems, until it does and then you’re sortof fucked, but not really.

On a recent project, a subtle bug in Android’s Matcher.replaceAll behavior bit me. When replacing values of captured groups ('$1''$2', etc), Android’s implementation replaced a reference to an empty group with the literal string 'null' instead of just skipping it (aka replacing with empty string ''), which is what most other Java implemetations do. The string 'null' is, I think, never the right behavior. And the inconsistency causes unit tests to pass when run on the desktop JRE to fail when run in Android, which is a major pain.

Fortunately Android is Open Source, and I was able to track down the offending piece of code, and just write myself a simple replacement that has the bug fixed:

View the code on Gist.

You’re welcome. Yay Open Source!

How to file a bug report

Valerie, our awesome ‘Bug Wrangler in Training’, has written a nice blog post on how to report your first bug.

Blogging more often, bye bye Twitter

I’ve been mostly off Twitter for a while now, interacting with it rarely, and only on my Phone. While I’ve had a vague feeling of uneasiness ever since they unveiled their now business friendly developer policies, it really hit home when my favorite Android twitter app, Falcon Pro, hit Twitter’s arbitrary user token limit (and Twitter declined to care). That, plus the Google Reader saga have jolted me out of complacency a bit.

It may be cliche, but “If you are not paying for it, you are the product” rings rather true at the moment.

So I’ll mostly be off Twitter (and Facebook too) now. seems inactive, but I will probably give it a shot too. I’m going to pick up the slack by actually blogging instead. Twitter seems to have completely killed my long form text writing ability. My Nexus 7 and bluetooth keyboard will hopefully help bring it back! Twitter is still good for publicity, so I’ll need to find a way to feed my blog links into Twitter.

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