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List: Must watch Indian movies

  • [x] Tumbad (2018)
  • [x] What Will People Say (2017)
  • [x] Trapped (2016)
  • [x] Masaan (2015)
  • [x] Drishyam (2015)
  • [x] Talvar (2015)
  • [x] City Lights (2014)
  • [x] A Death in the Gunj (2016)
  • [x] Dhobi Ghat (2010)
  • [x] Rang De Basanti (2006)
  • [x] Khosla Ka Ghosla! (2006)
  • [x] Black Friday (2004)
  • [x] Mansoon wedding (2001)
  • [x] Dil Se Re (1998)
  • [x] Bombay (1995)
  • [x] Jane bhi do yaaro (1983)
  • [x] Pyasa (1957)
  • [ ] Pather Panchali (1955)
  • [ ] Aparajito (1956)
  • [ ] Apur Sansar (1959)

Why I stopped posting on social media

(Watch this if you want to watch experts talking about this) Once upon a time, Facebook was exciting and charming. This was a time when I enjoyed the likes and comments and craved for more. Soon I joined Facebook groups and started tailoring my posts for maximum exposure. You upvote all your friends’ posts and tag them, you don’t express a divergent opinion, you have to be witty in your expression, and many more. The fun of Facebook soon started fading as more and more of my family members started following me and I started to censure my online presence. The new start of social media for me was Reddit. Free of societal censure and a friendly subreddit for almost anything soon captured my need for open spaces. But Reddit also faces the same restrictions as Facebook and that is what upsets me most about social media. The very essence of them is to engage you and promote expression. It takes a more sinister form in the case of Facebook and its other avatars with subvert manipulation, coercion to share more information, and ultimately bundling that user data into commodities. Reddit takes a bit more innocuous approach by avoiding commodification of data and providing a higher degree of privacy. The dopamine addiction of social media reached its peak for me with Reddit and r/memes. I had started amassing Karma to become eligible to post on r/memes and the grind was real. This is the biggest problem I have with social media, the dopamine-fueled compulsion to post and share. Again Facebook and its avatars are much much worse at this and deploy your own brain chemistry against you. Lack of filters for information, news, influencers, promotion of polarising content are not bugs but features of social media that try to keep us engaged. The more you engage with social media the more it changes you. Slowly and steadily it gives incentives to behave and project yourself in a certain way and the manipulatory techniques get better as they study your habits and make more and more addictive algorithms. For me not being subject to the biggest involuntary human experiment is certainly appealing and so is stopping my free will and quirks from eroding. So the reason I stopped posting on social media is not that I hate it or it is boring but it is just simply too dangerous for my own psyche.

Fine-tuning my misinformation detector

I was at my best friend’s house, surrounded by her relatives, we all were talking about a myriad of topics and suddenly she made a weird comment. “Do you know that plants die when given water heated in a microwave?” My reaction was of laughter and ridicule considering the overall implausibility of the claim. She was committed to defending her claim and we started throwing arguments. She didn’t remember the source (looking at you WhatsApp), was uncertain about the mechanisms via which such a phenomenon could be explained, and certainly hadn’t tried it. She didn’t concede though, her counterclaims included things like maybe there is some unknown mechanism and if I am too skeptical I should go out and try it myself. Soon her family joined in too who collectively labeled me a skeptic who needs research papers to trust things. This got me thinking, was I actually wrong? So I went online and searched for this supposed phenomenon and found nada to support it. A similar thing happened while watching a youtube video of a supposed spiritual leader who cited research done by his own foundation to support his claims of planetary motion affecting our daily lives. In both of the cases, my misinformation detector went off because I knew that they cannot be true based on my knowledge of physics and biology. Water heated by microwave doesn’t magically change chemical composition to become poisonous for plants and planets don’t affect your lives. The real question is what other facts I swallowed because my misinformation detector laid dormant. The pattern for detection was my biases, I distrusted astrology, and don’t tend to trust modern technologies, so the pattern for misses has to be the same. Things that seemed correctly aligned with my worldview, political and social believes might have been missed. I guess a similar thing happened with my friend, whose mistrust of modern contraptions and insistence on old ways might have made her ignore her really substantial knowledge of botany and physics. I must have my blind spots too, relying on evidence-based veracity detection is not always possible and it still leaves me open for improper research, corporately funded research biases and makes me vulnerable to people who sound like experts. Most importantly relying on evidence doesn’t work on opinions. Opinions like this cake is good could be subjectively true and claims like religion is good for society are hard to access in few seconds. So I thought of coming up with another filter that takes these things into account. “Cigarette filters make smoking safer” is a good example of such misinformation. Sounds legit, is repeatedly told by smart people who smoke, and is an utterly made-up marketing ploy. They slightly reduce the tar deposition in your lungs but don’t make a huge difference overall. How about advice given by gym trainers to exercise a particular body part to reduce fat content around it, utter misinformation. So the first lesson, don’t trust people who sound smart or expert without some basic inquiry. How does it work? Why does it happen this way? If they don’t demonstrate a deeper understanding of the subject they might be knowingly or unknowingly misinforming me. This still leaves the first example untouched, a friend who knows far more about botany than I do could not be trusted on botany facts. So the second filter has to be checking for biases and possible motives for the messenger who is bestowing the knowledge onto me. This is certainly hard and will need more practice. Still not a perfect art but this does make a significant improvement in my current strategy.

Experimenting with three.js

Three.js was the first javascript library I ever worked with and It was gorgeous. Easy to program, plenty of resources, and examples with immediate visual results. I have used three.js to showcase my 3D designs and build a basic 3D navigator. Here is a brief of that excursion.

Setting up three.js:
I used atom along with the three.js master to do initial setup on my windows 10 PC. Detailed information can be found here. For windows, it was very easy. You just extract the add that path to your atom project path and you are ready to go.

First attempt:
There are many examples on Three.js website along with some basic documentation . All these examples are also available in the along with other required resources like textures, fonts, and loaders. So basically choose your example make changes and debug until it runs. A live server package on atom is very helpful for debugging as you just run your code on live server and use inspect option on your browser to debug your code.

A simple starting point:

Check out this simple tile flipping in 3D to get started.

Some trivia quizzes I made

As a part of the college quizzing team I made a few quizzes for practice, here are some of them.
Test your metal

How to download spotify playlist as .mp3 files

Spotify premium is unarguably the worst interruption in music listening and I have been trying to avoid it for a long time. The obvious option is to buy premium but that still gives you limited access to the data and you have to pay to get it. So I started exploring on the internet to find alternatives. There are some paid softwares which download your Spotify playlists but might as well pay the Spotify instead. Recently I discovered a way around which allows you to use download the spotify playlist with a bit of hassle.

Step1: Convert spotify playlist to a youtube playlist.
Use this or other similar tools to transfer your spotify playlist to youtube. Don't forget to check the results as there might be some 1 hour long compilations in the youtube playlist.

Step 2: Download that youtube playlist.
Things get pretty messy here. There are multiple bad options to do download a youtube playlist and it took me a while to find the most elegant way to do this step. If you just google downloading a youtube playlist then you can find this or similar alternatives to do the job slowly. They either download in batches of 20 or as single files and it really sucks if you have more than 20 songs in your playlist.

Youtube-dl is arguably the best option for downloading files from most of the streaming services (List of supported sites) and you also directly download episodes and shows directly from spotify while skipping the step 1 completely using youtube-dl.

On your lenux system you can download youtube-dl by running

$sudo curl -L -o /usr/local/bin/youtube-dl

$sudo chmod a+rx /usr/local/bin/youtube-dl

You can download the playlist by running following command:

$youtube-dl --audio-format best --ignore-errors [playlist url here]

You can also choose audio format by replacing best with "aac","flac", "mp3", "m4a", "opus", "vorbis", or "wav". With "best" format youtube-dl automatically downloads the best format amongst available.