Friday, 20 March 2015

IISC Open Day 2015

Note : This post is about my experience during the IISc Open Day 2015. As I am a Computer Science student, I focussed my tour in the CSA and SERC Departments only. As much as I wished to cover other departments, there was no time to cover all of them. I managed only a few.

Open Days are fun and exciting, the whole atmosphere feels like a country side carnival. Almost everything in the university, from the decorated departments to the banners and posters and stalls heightens the energy levels among the audience as well as the participants. The environment is just perfect. I loved the feel of the IISc Open Day 2015. Everyone, from kids to parents were bubbling with enthusiasm. The kids eyes were filled with curiosity to learn and obtain answers to all their questions. Scenes of students flocking together to the demos and experiments section, reminded me of the golden days of school exhibitions. It brought back memories from fun science trick experiments we did and intimidated  the other kids in class. Those days were great. We did what we loved. 

SERC Open Day Banner

At Indian Institute of Science, Open Day is that day the university invites the public to view the work of its Students, Research Scholars and Professors. It is during this day, when the public gets access to information about the creative work and whereabouts of the university. The major goal of the Open Day is to showcase the talent and social impact of the work being carried out in the campus. A large percentage of the IISc Open Day audience are school children and undergraduate college students, who are keen to learn about the scientific research being pursued at the oldest and most renowned university in India. I was looking forward to this day for two main reasons. The first being, I was a volunteer for the SERC Department for the Open Day activities and secondly, I too like the other undergraduate kids, was excited to learn about the amazing work being carried out at other labs in the campus. During my last two months as a Research Intern, I was told about the cutting-edge research carried out at my lab and the neighbouring ones. I was however curious to learn about the other labs in the SERC, CSA, and other Departments as well. The Open Day, served this purpose well for me. 

Poster for SERC Open Day 2015 
Being a part of the SERC's ( Supercomputing Education and Research Centre) first ever Open Day was even more exciting for me. The weeks before the Open Day, we had volunteer meetings to plan the events. There are about 12 labs in SERC and each lab had volunteered to hold activities showcasing their work. I tagged along with my labmate to the meetings and decided to help. We discussed about the various events that we would be holding for the audience on Feb 28, 2015. A multitude of activities such as online coding competitions to be held on HackerRank, fun activities involving science and technology for kids, onspot quiz competition,  exciting talks, demos, and poster presentation from all the labs in the Department were decided. The Prizes ranged from Internship opportunity at SERC to IISc goodies such as T-shirts and mugs.  The whole goodies part excited me :D We also planned to design a t-shirt for the occasion and my lab guys decided to help with the design. However, we did not have the t-shirts ready by the proposed day due to few technical difficulties and the plan was dropped. I liked the design though. I have posted a picture of the t-shirt below. 

The SuperComputing t-shirt.
The Superman logo was a metaphor for SuperComputing.
Designed by Adarsh :D
Back View. 
On the day of the Open Day, my work was to stand by my lab poster and explain it to the audience. I was also organizing the Interactive Demo called " We Can Track You",  as shown in the poster below. However, due to a failure in the hardware equipment I couldn't go forwards with it. The event was to showcase real time detection of facial emotions of people by using Computer Vision Algorithms. I was a bit disappointed about the demo getting cancelled, but on the bright side, preparing for the event was a good enough experience for me. Below are images of the posters of the interactive demos, interesting talks and Poster sessions that were being conducted at SERC on its first Open Day.

Interactive Demos at SERC

Poster Presentation

The Exciting talks @ SERC

A few days to the Open Day, I  sent out personal invites to my friends and family, who I presumed would be interested to attend the Open Day. Since, most of my classmates from my undergraduate college were Interning at companies in Bangalore, it was more easy to convince them to attend. One of my colleague and college mate from undergrad, who is also interning at IISc, was giving a talk on Big Data called "From Big Data to Big Knowledge".  The day before the Open Day, we sat together and rehearsed his presentation. I was pretty excited about the portion of his presentation wherein he would be talking about IBM Watson and its ability to master the American game show 'Jeopardy'.  Two of my good friends, who are currently interning at CISCO and CITRIX agreed to attend the IISc Open Day with me. 
Selfie with the fastest SuperComputer in India

Lab Poster Presentation 

Picture with friends at SERC.
Left - Vamshi Reddy Centre - Girish Kumar and Right - Me

XRCI Director giving a talk at the CSA Dept, IISc
on the Open Day 2015

Flower Show at the Main Building  for the visitors

To the guys who send "pseudo - proposals" to me

An open letter to the guys who think they love me and send proposals on "Whatsapp" "Facebook"  "Hangouts" and other similar pseudo-places.

Wake up!  Stop imagining. Relationships aren't like dreams. They are true. They are real. They exist in our world.

Have you ever asked yourself the following questions.

  1. Have I spoken to you in person? 
  2. Did you get to know me, before you decided to send a proposal? 
  3. Did we spend enough time getting to know each other?  
  4. Have we gone out together on dates and do we have favourite hangout places ? 
  5. At the least, did we have a couple of coffee chats together? 
  6. Have we walked long paths together, without knowing where we were heading?  
  7. Do you know of my likes and dislikes, though i haven't mentioned about them to you?
  8. Can we complete each others sentences ? 
  9. Can I predict your moves and actions ? 
  10. Do you know how to turn my bad days and moodswings into a good one? 
  11. Do we make up for each others shortcomings?
  12. Do we acknowledge each others faults and have adjusted ourselves to deal with them? 
  13. Do you know what ticks me and cracks me up ?
  14. Do you know about the people in my life I care alot about? 
  15. Have we met each others friends and do they seem like our immediate family? 
  16. Have I introduced you to my family, or at least spoken to you about them ?
  17. Do I know your deepest desires? 
  18. Do you know my life aims and goals? 
  19. Do you know what songs make me dance and what food I crave for ? 
  20. Do you know the color of my eye? Have you taken to the time to understand my complicated being? 
  21. Do you know of my adventures and were you by my side when i was at it ? 
  22. Have we fought and patched up like it didnt happen at all ?
  23. Did we talk about the "list"? Have we ticked off a few of them at least?
  24. Are you aware of my adventurous and sporty side? 
  25. Have we met without prior notice and made random plans together? 
Ask yourself, these questions, before you come to conclusions on your own. If Most of the answers are NO, don't waste your time. A word of advice to all the guys out there," Be a man, and express your emotions to a girl,  by looking her in the eyes. Tell her in person. Don't take to such pseudo-forums. They are the cowards choice. Be brave. Stand up for yourself and don't say the "L" word like wishing  "Good morning". It means more. Respect it. 

Thursday, 19 March 2015

A walkthrough my days at IISc through these pictures.

SERC, IISc Bangalore - My workplace for the next few months

The hugging tree. I call it "Reverse Chipko movement"
The hugging tree - creating a natural gateway.
The quick climber. He was so pro at it.
Welcoming Modi outside the main gate.
The Flower show at IISc - Main building
Photographer capturing the flowers in minute detail.
The circle outside IISc Main Gate
The Sleeping tree. An Untold Story.

Random treks at the protected forest area inside.

HPC Lab Poster Presentation
IISc OpenDay 2015 with friends
Attending a talk by RBI Chief Dr Raghuram Rajan.

Talk by Xerox Research Director, Manish Gupta

Talk by Dr Charles Elkan, Lead of Machine Learning Division
@ Amazon, Seattle.

Yo, Bikers! 

Hack your way to learn.

"The best way to learn a new skill is to HACK - BREAK - FIX it. And fix it before you are in trouble"

These days i am busy learning and getting acquainted with new technologies and codes. I have been reading many white papers, research papers and hanging out at places like stackoverflow, stack exchange and other developer and community forums. Hanging out here is like walking into a party. There are days where you are greeted with many dazzling perfect solutions that work like a piece of cake, And then, there are the other days, the dry ones, when you are left alone to tackle the army of warnings and errors marching from your neatly maintained code.

When in this situation,

Do you feel isolated? helpless?
Do you know the solution, yet withdraw yourself?

As a newbie, one tends to be very curious and at the same time doubly cautious in working with codes and machines. I usually double check with the installation guide and read other peoples experiences with the same software/errors/solutions before i get my hands to fire the commands. It is quite a risk. I know. I have been there, Kid.

But, is it worth the risk? Is it worth breaking?

Well, what is life without risk. Jokes apart. My answer is yes.

Become Rajinikanth, take the risk. But do it with precaution. Before breaking, make sure you can reverse the effects, if it goes wrong. Keep a copy of the original files. Keep a log of our actions. Use scripts if your making an installation. Ask for expert advice from your colleagues and seniors. Do a safe trial. Make sure no one else is affected. Be cautious. But, break.

Cos only when you break and fix can you learn.

Hack-break-fix-learn is the mantra.

Happy Learning!

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

How to add a native user to the Xeon Phi Co-processor ?

In this post I will be discussing on how to add a new user to the Xeon Phi Co-processor. While using the offload programming model of the Xeon Phi co-processor system, a new user account is not essential for running programs. Offloaded programming model uses a default user called as micuser to execute the programs on the Xeon Phi. But, while running native programs, a programmer might have to get a new user account to do so, inorder to login/ ssh into the co-processor itself.

The  system administration guide by Intel  for Xeon Phi states that, "Users will automatically be added to the /etc/passwd file for the coprocessor if they have an entry in the host’s /etc/passwd file, the user authentication method is set to local and their user id falls in the range specified in the /etc/sysconfig/mic/default.conf file.
(See “User Access” in Intel® Manycore Platform Software Stack (Intel® MPSS) Boot Configuration Guide.)
At the same time, a home directory will be created for them in the disk image used to make the co-processor’s RAM file system"

However, in my case it was not so. And i had to try the other methods suggested.

Since the first method didnot work, i tried the second suggestion which says users can also be added to the co-processor’s /etc/passwd file using the micctrl --useradd command.

micctrl --useradd=<username> --uid=<uid> --gid=<gid> [--home=<dir>] [--comment=<string>] [--app=<exec>] [--sshkeys=<keyloc] [MIC list]

The user name, user ID and group ID must be supplied. If home is not set to the home directory of the user, then /home/<name> will be used.  If a comment is not entered then 'User Account <name>' will be entered in this field.  The default start application is /bin/sh if no other is entered.  The 'sshkeys' parameter allows the specification of a directory to find the users ssh keys.

example :  micctrl --useradd=tejeswini  --uid=10058 --gid=10058 --home=path/to/home/dir/ mic0

Note: The gid and uid can be obtained by typing "id" on the terminal. 

You ought to reboot the system by typing

service mpss stop 
micctrl --reboot mic0
service mpss start

however it didn't allow me to ssh into xeon phi after this. I, also tried micctrl --passwd=<username> mic0 to change the password and unfortunately, nothing changed.

The next method we tried was logging into xeon phi as root by

$ ssh root@mic0
password: *******
[root@<hostname>-mic0 /]# useradd tejeswini
New password : *******
Retype New password: *******
[root@<hostname>-mic0 /]# su - tejeswini
[root@<hostname>-mic0 /]# exit
[tejeswini@<hostname>]$ ssh tejeswini@mic0
password for tejeswini@mic0 : *******

This worked. And it was that simple!! I am still trying to figure out how to make the first two methods work. Do leave a comment if you  have any suggestions.