My First Sky Dive From 15000 Feet

My very first (tandem) sky dive from 15000 feet. Free fall for the first 10000 feet and then parachute at 5000 feet. I did it with GoSkyDive in Salisbury, UK.

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My instructor was Ryan Mancey. Ryan is the chief instructor at GoSkydive. Extremely friendly chap and made it so easy for me. I could not have done without him. Ryan has jumped about 8000 times in past 20 years of his experience in sky diving.

Geared up in the jump suit and tandem harness, walking towards the plane.

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Ryan, my sky diving instructor.

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Getting into the plane.

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Hanging off the edge of the plane, the scariest moment.

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Out in the air. No Fear, No Stress. Enjoying free fall for 10000 feet.

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Shouting as loud as I can “15000 feet here I come”.

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Ryan filming me with a GoPro tied to his wrist. He did excellent photography, shot lots of stills and video both.

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Finally the parachute was deployed at about 5000 feet.

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Then Ryan showed me how to fly the parachute.

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Watching other divers in their parachutes.

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Finally touch down in the drop zone. Alive on the ground :).

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Installing Altera Modelsim on 64-bit Ubuntu 14.04 – Linux

I downloaded and the ModelSim-Altera Starter Edition for Linux from Altera (now part of Intel) website at the following webpage:

http://dl.altera.com/?product=modelsim_ae#tabs-2

I then installed it on the 64-bit Ubuntu-14.04. After which I ran the following command from within the bin directory of the installed Modelsim and despite the executable present I got the following error:

command$> ./vsim: No such file or directory

I investigated further on internet and found that I require 386 – 32-bit libraries for Ubuntu since the Modelsim seems to be 32-bit. So I took the following steps on the Linux command prompt:

$>sudo dpkg –add-architecture i386
$>sudo apt-get update
$>sudo apt-get install libc6:i386 libncurses5:i386 libstdc++6:i386
$>sudo apt-get install lib32z1 lib32ncurses5 lib32bz2-1.0

After installing the above, and invoking vsim, I got the following error:

libXft.so.2: cannot open shared object file

So I took the following steps:

$>sudo apt-get install libxft2 libxft2:i386 lib32ncurses5

Then I got the following error and to fix that I took the following steps

libXext.so.6: cannot open shared object file. libXext.so.6 not found

$>sudo apt install libxext6

$>sudo apt install libxext6:i386

And finally, this solved the problem. I was able to invoke Modelsim using ./vsim command.

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Restoring a Laptop When the System Restore (OS factory reset) Discs Fail

Just want to share my experience and learnings in upgrading the hard drive of my laptop and restoring Windows OS from restoration discs provided by the manufacturer. I had bought a HP-G62 107SA laptop a few years ago. This laptop came with an Intel Core-i3 M330 processor and 320 GB hard drive. The OS that the laptop was shipped was Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium, pre-installed. The laptop did not come with any Windows installation or restoration disc however it came with a software utility that allowed me to create restoration discs. In past laptop manufacturers used to supply Windows-OS installation discs along with the laptop but now they only supply a hard drive partition with factory utilities from which one could create such OS factory restoration discs. So I created the restoration DVDs, total 3 discs, which I never needed to use until now. Also the restoration discs can only be created once, the utility does not allow the discs to be created again.

Recently, I started running out of the disc space so I decided to upgrade the hard drive to a TB. I purchased a 1 TB 2.5 inch laptop hard drive and replaced it with my current hard drive. I then bought a 2.5 inch SATA enclosure and put the old hard drive so that I can still access the data whenever I want to.

The new hard drive was blank and I needed to restore everything to its factory reset state, as it would have shipped to me from the factory, so I made use of the  OS factory restoration discs that I had created. I inserted the first disc, no problems in its installation and Windows files copying, then second and then third. It took about half an hour. After which the laptop booted from hard drive and showed me the windows logo and while still continuing the installation process. After few minutes and few cryptic messages the restoration utility popped a message stating that the restoration had failed and the first disc should be re-inserted. This was extremely frustrating, after waiting for almost half an hour the installation failed for no apparent reason I re-inserted the first disc and then pressed retry but it did not accept the disc and kept ejecting the DVD out of the tray. The only thing I could do was restart the computer, which I did. I went through the same steps, all again. Another hour wasted and still got the same error. I tried this atleast about 3 times with no luck.

Third time when the message from the restoration utility was on my screen showing the installation/restoration had failed, coincidentally, I pressed Ctrl+Alt+Del and the screen turned to the Windows 7 screen where it provides various options, for an example to open task manager, Switch User or lock the computer etc., so this meant the installation was pretty much ok even then the utility displayed failure. Also while referring to various online blogs about such failure I learnt that by using keyboard short cut I can invoke command prompt while the restoration was stuck at the message. The blog-post suggested, from the command prompt I should invoke Administrative tools and from there enable the default Administrator account to be able to login. After trying that I learnt that since I had Windows 7 Home, the OS did allow changing users and groups from Administrative tools. So I then pressed ctrl+alt+del and went for switch user option, from which I logged into my account for the first time. However, when I restarted the computer, the OS still booted and ended up stuck at the Windows 7 preparing the computer for the first time use screen. So I again searched the internet to find the cure and I came across a blog-post where I learnt that I could disable the process of boot time restoration and first time use screen by editing registry. I managed to get the Windows to boot properly. After it had booted to the desktop, the Windows 7 activation pop up turned up. So I clicked and did activate now over the internet and entered the Windows key from the back of my laptop. And guess what, the Microsoft website told me that the copy of Windows that I had installed (from the manufacturer’s restoration discs) did not match the serial number and it would not activate the installed Windows. So I investigated further and found that the restoration installation of Windows was infact Windows Home Basic and the Windows Key that was provided on the laptop was for Windows Home Premium. So frustrating. Also when I went to Microsoft’s website to download an ISO for Windows 7 Home Premium using the Windows key on my laptop, it identified and said since the key belonged to an OEM Windows 7 product I need to contact the manufacturer of the laptop.

The thing is, I could not have known about these problems when I had bought the computer, alteast until I do such  an upgrade. I was basically helpless. I was not sure if HP could help me at this point in time after so many years of buying the laptop.

So I decided not to waste time in chasing them. I thought of fixing it in a different way. I downloaded a genuine Windows 7 Home Premium ISO from internet (from other sources) and created installation discs from it. I installed the Windows Home Premium on my laptop and then attempted to activate the Windows using the key provided on the back of my laptop. Guess what, it worked. Microsoft recognized that key was correct for the installation. Finally I had a working system, almost bricked my laptop :).

Then I installed all the drivers for the laptop . It just so happened that I also updated the driver for SATA which belonged to the hard drive interface. After everything was installed, I attempted to enable and download Windows OS updates. The OS gave me some weird 0x800…. hexadecimal error for not being able to connect to the Microsoft updates. I looked for a solution on the internet. Many people had said, if I disabled and enabled the Windows updates the updates will start working on its own. So I did that with no success. Some also suggested to disable the update service delete a certain folder and then enable the service, I did that but with no success. I came across a post where it suggested that sometimes Windows OS updates fails due to having different hard drive driver. Then I remembered, I had installed and updated the SATA driver for my hard drive. I uninstalled the SATA driver, and Windows was left with its built in SATA driver. I retried checking for Windows updates and guess what, it worked. I had no idea why this was the case.

Finally I have a working Windows laptop and I have also installed Ubuntu-Linux side by side and dual booted. Wasted almost a day sorting all these things out.

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My Experience & Learnings in Treating My Mother’s Asthma

I would like to share my learnings and experiences in help treating my mother’s asthma. My mother has had asthma for almost past 20 years. For past couple of years the asthma symptoms had become severe, especially coughing and wheezing despite all the inhaled medicines that she was taking. I am no doctor or specialist in this field however there were some common sense things that I was able to observe and note being a human and a researcher and that is what I would like to share with you (please read my disclaimer).

My mother lives in a metropolitan city in India. She would have consulted about 5-6 different GPs (MBBS qualified) and about 5-6 different consultants (Masters, MD, MS qualified) in past 20 years since she had the first symptoms. For the first couple of years, she contacted private GPs near to our home, as she did not know why she was coughing and becoming breathless at times. Surprisingly one of the first GPs that she contacted, informed her that it was all in her head, she was imagining it, and there was nothing wrong with her! Gradually the asthma symptoms worsen over the years, so severe that she could not even walk for 10 meters or climb stairs without coughing and becoming breathless. She had a persistent productive cough even during the day. The medicines were clearly not working, the inhalers did not seem to have any effect at all.

In the city, most people who could afford, would choose to buy medicines and treatment privately. Also medicines sold in most pharmacies are branded i.e. medicines with certain brand name associated with it and are much more expensive than generic ones, otherwise containing the same drug. It is my view that quite a lot of the private GPs and consultants prescribed medicines of the brands for which they get a commission for prescribing, from the manufacturer and the pharmacies nearby.

Recently my mother visited me in the UK. I could see that her symptoms had worsen and become more severe. While my mother was in the UK, I had to take her to see a nurse in a walk-in clinic for sudden knee pain. In a causal conversation, I asked the nurse about the available treatments for asthma in the UK. The nurse asked to see my mother’s record of spirometry tests for past 6 months. My mother did not have such a record. It was at that moment I realised that it was very important for my mother to have regular spirometry tests and to continuously test whether the medicine was having the desired effect and how the asthma was progressing. (At that time I wondered why didnt those GPs and consultants carry out regular spirometry tests.)

After that I carried out internet research  in order to help show my mother a proper and correct way of taking her dry powder inhaler. I showed her the following youtube video.

I observed how my mother took her inhaled medicine, it was then I noticed that my mother was not taking the medicine correctly at all (for past 20 years). Also she was not gargling with water and removing the leftover medicine from her mouth.

As a researcher I thought, my mother has suffered enough, and I wanted to get into the bottom of this. So I did my own internet research on asthma. I decided to get my mother to see the best consultant for asthma in the UK privately. Since my mother was a visitor in the UK, she could not be treated on NHS. I also believed that UK is ahead in the research on asthmatic treatments than in India. I then realised that I will need to produce a record of spirometry tests in order for the consultant to diagnose and treat my mother’s asthma while she was here on this short visit to the UK. So again, I did some internet research on whether I could get/buy a spirometer of my own which I could use it to keep a record of my mother’s asthma. I found a portable and handled Chinese brand CONTEC SP10 Digital Spirometer. The spirometer has rechargeable battery and comes with USB interface to download patient’s data in a computer which could then be printed. The spirometer plots the readings in trend and graph format.

I then searched the internet to learn a correct way to operate the spirometer and conduct the tests. In my search, I came across a very comprehensive and useful spirometry manual explaining everything in detail.

I studied the manual and learnt to conduct spirometry tests as properly and correctly as I could. I started doing regular daily tests and created a printed record for my mother which she could show to the consultant in the UK. I also understood the reversibility test (test to see if the inhaled medicine work i.e. spirometry tests before and after my mother had the inhaled medicine). From the results, I could clearly see that the medicine was not working at all, there was no reversibility.

Then I looked for the best or one of the best consultants for asthma in the UK. I found one such consultant and booked an appointment for my mother. On the first visit, the consultant carried out spirometry tests. I showed the previous test results to the doctor and he confirmed my findings. The consultant was worried and informed us that my mother’s symptoms were quite severe and she needed urgent medical attention or even hospitalisation. In order to be 100% sure that the symptoms were of asthma and also to reduce the severity due to the inflammation, the consultant prescribed a course of steroid tablets. While my mother was taking the steroid tablets, I kept regular daily record of her spirometry tests at home. In a second follow up appointment after a week I showed the spirometry tests results to the consultant. The consultant also conducted a spirometry tests and confirmed the same by comparing the results with the previous test. Since I informed the consultant that my mother could not take the powered inhaler properly, he changed the inhaler type and prescribed a metered dose inhaler which generated a mist of medicine to be inhaled together with a spacer. The following youtube video shows how to use such an inhaler.

After taking the medicine with this type of inhaler and the spacer, my mother’s asthma symptoms started getting reduced slowly, particularly the coughing and wheezing. My mother then went back to India and continued taking her metered dose inhaler with a spacer. She carried the portable spirometer with her in order to continue to keep the record of her asthma at home in India :).

I am happy to know that her severe coughing has stopped. I am not saying that she is cured however, I could clearly see the difference before and after she started the prescribed medicines by the consultant in the UK. She is now managing her asthma much better than previously. Atleast there is no persistent coughing and wheezing. She could sleep well at night. This was not the case before, on the contrary the symptoms were worsening. The consultant in the UK was the guardian angel for my mother. I can say he pretty much saved my mother’s life.

Here is my experience on the treatment of Asthma that my mother received in Ahemdabad, India:

  • All of the consultants that she consulted, prescribed only powder based manual inhalers. Every new consultant she visited, would change the brand and make of the inhaler but the active drug inside remained pretty much the same.
  • These consultants/specialists would typically conduct a spirometry test only once when my mother would go to see them for the first time however, they would not carry out the follow-on regular tests in order keep a record and see the effect of the medicines that they were prescribing.
  • None of the consultants or GPs informed or showed her properly how correctly to administer the inhaled medicine using the inhaler.
  • None of the consultants or GPs informed her that she needs to gargle with water and remove (spit) the residual medicine from her mouth after taking the inhaler.
  • None of the GPs and consultants informed the reason behind this, this is because any medicine remained in her mouth was useless. The inhaled medicine was only effective in her lungs. As a result the medicine would have gone in her stomach for past 20 years and caused a lot of side-effects.
  • None of the GPs or consultants prescribed steroid therapy ever since she had the asthma, despite it had become severe.
  • Before coming to the UK, she had seen a new consultant who even suggested that she had throat problem. The consultant also sent a camera down her throat to inspect.
  • While my mother was in the UK and before finding the consultant in the UK we thought we would try a famous consultant in Mumbai. The consultant would not even look at the spirometry tests that we carried out at home using the portable spirometer just because they were not done and paid for in his clinic despite paying his consultancy fees beforehand. I even went to great lengths to format the test results in a similar format that the spirometry machine in his clinic would have produced.

After all this, I lost my confidence in the asthma consultants in the city. They did not seem to know very basic things. One important thing I can not emphasise enough is, if you are coughing and wheezing despite taking inhaler medications then your asthma is not managed, it is not controlled, you need to do something about it, something is not working, perhaps change your doctor.

By writing and sharing this, I hope to help others like my mother as I believe my mother suffered unnecessarily for almost 20 years.

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NLP: Neuro-Linguistic Programming

I recently completed the NLP Practitioner course in London (the UK) and officially became an NLP Practitioner. I learnt NLP with the world renowned coaches Toby and Kate Mccartney. The course details and website is at http://www.tobyandkatemccartney.com/

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So What is NLP ?

Toby and Kate Mccartney define Neuro-Linguistic Programming as the study of the structure of subjective experience. They further explain that the name Neuro-Linguistic Programming comes from:
N – Neurology: The study of the mind and nervous system; how we think.
L – Linguistics: The study of language and how we use it.
P – Programming: The sequence of our actions; how we motivate ourselves to
achieve our goals.
Neuro: The nervous system (the mind) through which our experience is processed, how we represent the world to ourselves via our five senses:
  • Visual
  • Auditory
  • Kinaesthetic
  • Olfactory
  • Gustatory
Linguistic: Language  and other non-verbal communication systems through which our neural representations are coded, ordered and given meaning, including:
  • Pictures
  • Sounds
  • Feelings
  • Tastes
  • Smells
  • Words (Self Talk)
Programming: The sequence of coded instructions, the patterns that we run, to create the behaviours that achieve our outcomes.
In other words, Neuro-Linguistic Programming is how to use the language of the mind to consistently achieve our specific and desired outcomes.

“Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is the process of creating models of excellence. Modelling is the complex activity of capturing in a learnable transferable code the differences that make a difference between an excellent performer and an average performer, between an excellent work team and an average one…” John Grinder – NLP Co-Creator

“At the heart of NLP is a wide range of methods and models suitable for any personal or business development. NLP offers a new, fast, flexible and dynamic approach to change. NLP is empowering, life changing and truly makes a difference…” Toby & Kate McCartney

Wikipedia says:

Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is an approach to communication, personal development, and psychotherapy created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in California, United States in the 1970s. Its creators claim a connection between the neurological processes (“neuro”), language (“linguistic”) and behavioral patterns learned through experience (“programming”) and that these can be changed to achieve specific goals in life”

Recent Scientific References on NLP

The Effect of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) Techniques on Young Iranian EFL Learners’ Motivation, Learning Improvement, and on Teacher’s Success“, Anita Lashkarian, Sima Sayadian in Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences Volume 199, 3 August 2015, Pages 510–516, The Proceedings of the 1st GlobELT Conference on Teaching and Learning English as an Additional Language

The New Dimension of Educational Leadership – Modelling Excellence Through Neuro –Linguistic Programming Techniques“, Vlad Teodor GrosuEmilia Florina GrosuTatiana Dobrescu, Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, Volume 141, 25 August 2014, Pages 500–505, 4th World Conference on Learning Teaching and Educational Leadership (WCLTA-2013)

Neuro-linguistic Programming based on the Concept of Modelling“,  Emilia Florina Grosu, Vlad Teodor Grosu, Carmen Aneta PrejaBoros Balint Iuliana, in Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, Volume 116, 21 February 2014, Pages 3693–3699, 5th World Conference on Educational Sciences

Neuro-linguistic programming and application in treatment of phobias“, Mahishika Karunaratne, in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, Volume 16, Issue 4, November 2010, Pages 203–207

Applying ‘what works’ in psychology to enhancing examination success in schools: The potential contribution of NLP” in Thinking Skills and Creativity, Volume 4, Issue 3, December 2009, Pages 170–177, Applying Thinking Skills within Educational Settings and Beyond

Sunflower therapy for children with specific learning difficulties (dyslexia): A randomised, controlled trial” in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, Volume 13, Issue 1, February 2007, Pages 15–24

also at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17210507

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DIY Solar Charging Station for Electronic Gadgets

DIY Solar Charging Station for Electronic Gadgets using an existing Mobile Power Bank, Solar Panel and charging cable with multiple pins (Mobile Phone, Tablet, Power Bank etc.).

 

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Oxford Launch 2014 Weekend

Participated in the weekend long event called Oxford Launch 2014 . The aim was to come up with a Minimum Viable Product at the end of the weekend. Twitter page of the Oxford Launch event.

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Then I joined the team SenseCrowd

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NanoSat Weekend at Satellite Applications Catapult

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My Second Quadcopter

Here I would like to show you the second Quadcopter that I built.

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Unboxing My Very Own Zedboard

I purchased my very own Zedboard in order to work on some of the cool FPGA stuff at my home in my Electronic Lab. This board has the state-of-the-art Xilinx Zynq 7020 FPGA. Here I show unboxing the contents of the Zedboard that I received.

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