Origins of Rangde !

The video on YouTube talks about the origin of RangDe and the ideas that the founders had before they decided on micro-credit (RangDe doesn’t cover the gamut of micro-finance yet !). The founders – Smita  and Ramakrishna share the 4 ideas that they had, and that was rather interesting to know

  1. A for-profit firm that certifies establishments that they are child-labour free
  2. A firm that allows for an non-exploited form of access to domestic help. (My note: people in India are very well aware of domestic help, and most are not sensitive to the right treatment of them, and that includes the majority of the middle class)
  3. Social media – a channel that focuses on the social aspects of development issues (My note: very true about the videos made in India not viewed by Indians, more on this later)
  4. A micro-credit organization

Watch the video, atleast to steal some ideas ;). And here is the embed video of the interview

P.S:  This is part of the wonderful interviews by D.Murali, Deputy Editor of Business Line, and his channel on YouTube, pitstop4performers

Setup Samba on Ubuntu Jaunty

samba connect failed NT_STATUS_BAD_NETWORK_NAME ubuntu, samba connect failed ‘Access Denied’, Samba connect failed ‘Invalid password’

So, I have a VM on which I installed Ubuntu Jaunty. I was using it sparsely, but realised that some projects are better off being built on Linux than on Windows Vista that I run (don’t ask, the machine came preloaded with Vista !).

Installing Ubuntu was not a problem. Using xming to get the X was also not a big problem. Well, it was a problem initially; and then had to fix the (rather unintuitive UI) firewall settings to allow connections between the guest and the host.

The problem though was getting Samba to work. Now before you ask me to RTFM, let me answer that one needn’t read the whole manual. Just follow these instructions on installing Samba on Ubuntu and to access directories on Linux from Windows. Very simple eh; well so I thought. I did everything that was documented, but still no love. I was trying to share the home directory of the Linux user on Windows. The user names on Linux and Windows were same. I setup the workgroup to be the same too (in the /etc/samba/smb.conf). Even then, I could not connect to the Linux machine.

One of the nice links to troubleshoot this problem of connectivity, especially the NT_STATUS_BAD_NETWORK_NAME was this one. I found out a few commands to check the samba configuration. Even then no luck.

So, I go back to original link and try to find out what I am doing wrong. And then in the comment section I see this gem of a comment by user Kim SJ.

Took me a while to notice that the “[homes]” line is commented out as well as the lines in that section. Maybe others will fall into that trap too… hope this helps.

And that is when it hit me ! The [homes] section in the /etc/samba/smb.conf on my VM was commented. After I modified the file and I can connect to the Linux share. What a thing to miss ! So, to setup samba on Ubuntu jaunty, where you want to share the user’s home directory, you need to do this

sudo apt-get install samba smbfs
sudo smbpasswd -a <Linux_username>
sudo vi /etc/samba/smbusers
#add this line
<Linux_username>= “<Linux_username>”
sudo vi /etc/samba/smb.conf
# add two lines after Authentication
security = user
username map = /etc/samba/smbusers

# Uncomment below three lines – including #the [homes]
comment = Home Directories
browseable = yes
# add line
writable = yes

The <Linux_username> is the Linux user whose home directory you wish to share. For my Linux machine running on a VM, this is good enough. I keep the usernames same between my Linux machine and the Windows machine and things work fine. I noticed that if the passwords are also the same, then I needn’t provide the password when I map a network drive using net use. Awesome !

The story of numbers

Review of the book – The Story of Numbers by John McLeish. Suggested read.

Have you ever wondered what a number is ? It is not some sort of a philosophical question. What exactly is a number – something that lets us count ? Yes, that definitely it is. But are they real entities (no Mathematical pun intended!) ? Are they some sort of abstract entities which are completely out of the reach of human thought, with our counting merely a manifestation of this higher thought ? Or are they merely contrivances for making trade and barter easy? Well, this post is not about discussing what numbers are or what we think they are, rather it is about a book by the same name by John McLeish.

So, is the book about numbers, or as the title suggests about how Mathematics has shaped civilization. I’m certain that it is not about the latter. The book doesn’t deal with how Mathematical discoveries shaped civilization or the decisions made by the generations part of those civilizations. So, is it the story of numbers, well, in part yes, in part no. It is more of history of numbers than story of numbers (is there a big difference I wonder !). Should you read the book – yes, go ahead read it. It is a brief overview of how we humans have started counting and our perceptions about numbers – from the initial evidence of counting, to the Babylonians, the ancient – Egyptians,  Greeks, Chinese, Indians right to where we are now. It is not a complete record of the history of the numbers, but it is enough of a record to pique one’s interest about the history of arithmetic and logistics (calculation as defined by the ancient Greeks).

The book chronicles the various civilizations – Sumeria and Babylonian, Egyptian, Greek, Arab, Jewish, Mayan, Indian, Chinese and the contributions done at various times by each of these civilizations. This post is going to be too small to describe all of those, but the majority of Mathematical innovation done by these civilizations were to solve practical problems – like finding out how to organize the queens for the Chinese king or handling fractions. Most of the time was spent in finding specific solutions rather than general ones, though, things seem to have changed with the Arab introduction of algebra.

The description of the modern times (so to speak) from Francis Bacon onwards is rather lacklustre. I would have preferred that the author spent more time on the historical times trying to provide more anecdotes on how the Mathematical innovations shaped civilizations. Nevertheless, I would suggest this book to anyone interested in the history of one of the very basic thing we take for granted – the number :). Will rate it a 8 out of 10, for the effort in trying to get the historical details about numbers. That sure is worth the time spent.

As an aside, in case you are interested in Mathematical feuds, listen to this interesting program about the history of Calculus.