Thank you Google, for the fonts!

Despite being primarily an advertising company, which tries to monetise you in every way possible, Google has gotten into the good books of typophiles by making some really beautiful fonts available for free (do the fonts have any embedded advertising codes?). In a world disfigured by Comic Sans and Arial, fonts like Lato, Lora, Roboto etc. provide immeasurable relief to the eyes of typophiles! Lato will become an Arial at some point I guess, but not for a few more years. websites seem to support many of these fonts seamlessly: hence the visual upgrade for this blog too.

The Master of them all…

He [Knuth] was deeply disappointed when saw the typesetting from Addison-Wesley for the second edition of volume 2, because in 1973 Addison-Wesley had replaced its mechanical typesetting technology with computerized typesetting that did not reproduce the high quality of the original printings of volumes 1-3.

Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Consequently, in 1977 Knuth began developing a new typesetting system to enable high quality computerized typesetting, in particular for TAOCP. This system was announced in his 1978 American Mathematical Society Gibbs Lecture entitled “Mathematical Typography” and published in the Bulletin (New Series) of the American Mathematical Society, volume 1, 1979, pp. 337-372. Knuth had two goals for his system:
(1) achieving the finest quality printed documents
(2) creating a system that would be archival in the sense that it was independent of changes in printing technology to the maximum extent possible.

Knuth’s system, developed with help from Stanford students and colleagues, had three primary components: the TeX typesetting engine, the METAFONT font design system, and the Computer Modern set of type fonts [4].  Combined, these revolutionized digital typesetting. Knuth made his code publicly available, and it has been widely adapted by commercial typesetting systems.

Knuth put hooks in his TeX engine so that others could make additions, with the condition that any resulting system be give a different name. That produced a vibrant, worldwide community of users and developers for TeX and related systems like LaTeX, ConTeXt, LuaTeX. Knuth’s TeX was an early success story for the free and open-source software movement.

From: Turing Award Citation for DEK (1974)

Special thanks to Knuth for the Computer Modern typeface; every article written in TeX looks professional and beautiful, thanks to this font. Especially in the ages when Times New Roman was the default font in Microsoft Word!

For those tired of Computer Modern, Palatino is another beautiful font.

Thank you, Microsoft too!

Microsoft has also scaled heights in the last decade with their typesetting: undoubtedly, Segoe UI (and the mobile version) is beautiful. Calibri, Cambria, Constantia, Consolas are all nice in their own way — any day better than Arial and company — and are thankfully the default fonts in Office since the last 9 years!

My Favourite Google Fonts

Droid Sans | Droid Sans Mono | Droid Serif | Inconsolata | Lato | Noto Sans | Noto Serif | Open Sans | Open Sans Condensed | Roboto | Source Sans Pro

Cricket typography

Every World Cup and major ICC event comes with a nice upgrade of the interface for display of score panels, scorecards etc. I thought the fonts used in the recent World T20 were rather nice, but the current IPL fonts are an abomination (more so than IPL itself? :j)

The fonts appear to be a hideous Monospaced font, the stereotype of the 2030s science fiction fonts as conceived by 1990s designers! Not to mention, the ugly batsman on strike indicators that keep blinking (wow, sci-fi FTW!) To catch a glimpse of these fonts, head over to Match 2 – a slashed zero too!

Ah, IPL has indeed fixed the monospace font at least: see IPL Match 8 Video — but the blinking marker remains!

Some interesting links:


Give, and let live!

giveIt’s been a while since I blogged, but I thought it important to share information on some very interesting NGOs/charities I’ve come across [recently]. I understand the India has a huge number of NGOs (read a debate about the legitimacy of some of these NGOs a while back!), and it’s rather difficult to find good NGOs/charities on a regular basis. I do get badgered by enthusiastic management trainees from the popular NGOs once in a while, and I often turn them away since I like to donate to more obscure and upcoming charities rather than established ones (I also suspect they have more ‘overheads’, like paying the salaries for the MTs!).

I must emphasise that is very important for each one of us to give; we all have [one or more of] a roof over our head, good clothes to wear, and the luxury of a bike/car and smartphones, tablets and laptops. Let’s try to help others educate themselves, lead a healthy life and sustain themselves in changing and challenging circumstances. I think there’s an adage that 1/6th of one’s salary must be spent in ‘good deeds’; assuming that the taxes we pay are part of this, I am sure we can still part with a few thousands every year to help the needy. I also think that many of us are happy to donate, but aren’t aware of the best charities. All of us can’t become Bill and Melinda Gates (दाता लक्षेषु जायते), but I think a little help here and there can go make a big difference to at least a few people!

I think we all have causes we’d really like to support (mine are usually health, education, food, culture), so it’s good to share the word and let people know. I even toyed with the idea of a social portal for sharing, rating and ranking NGOs, but here goes my first effort. Here’s a list of NGOs which I have donated to in the past and I firmly believe to be sincere and doing good work, in their chosen sphere (I hope to have a dedicated post about each of them, and hope to update the links below):

  1. Deepam Trust (email; no webpage as far as I know for this Deepam trust)
  2. National Trust Niramaya: A Health Insurance Scheme for the welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities (web)
  3. Uday Foundation for Congenital Defects and Rare Blood Groups (web)
  4. Ramakrishna Mission Students’ Home (web)
  5. Madras Sanskrit College/V. Krishnaswami Iyer Sanskrit Educational Trust (web)
  6. Sevalaya (web)
  7. Samskrita Bharati (web)
  8. Teach for India (web)
  9. Veda Rakshana Nidhi Trust (VRNT)*
  10. Vidya Vikasa Trust: College Education of the Visually Impaired (web)*
  11. Wikipedia!
  12. Khan Academy!*
  13. Blood! Check out

There are any number of sayings about the importance of giving, and here’s a large collection of Sanskrit sayings!

*updated 11-Feb-2016

Anne Frank  “No one has ever become poor by giving.”


Vishakha Hari mentioned in one of her discourses on पञ्चरत्न वैभवम् that this great kriti actually contains a 100 names of Lord Rama. One can only marvel at Tyagaraja’s genius and the grace bestowed upon him by Lord Rama!

Here is a link to the namavalis:

I must acknowledge and all the contributors there for help in discerning the different names in the Kriti, through the translations and word-splittings.

See also:

Jaya Janakiprananayaka!

It’s been a while since I have blogged, but I just had to write about this new-found obsession of mine, with Jagadanandakaraka. I keep humming it all the time these days, despite my scanty knowledge of Carnatic music. I have always been a fan of Nata ragam, but Jagadanandakaraka is not just about music. It is about Sri Rama, Sri Tyagaraja and much more than even Srimati Vishakha Hariji had so beautifully put forth, in her discourse on the Pancharatna Kritis.

(You can find the notation for Jagadanandakaraka here.)

Over the last couple of days, I have been so fascinated by the commentary I heard, that I found it too difficult to resist blogging on it.

Some quick highlights from the discourse:

  1. Sadkavihridalaya: Story of Tulasidas, and how Lord Kasi Viswanatha instructed him to write in pradesha Hindi bhasha, rather thank Samskritam.
  2. Pada-vijita-mauni-sapa: Whole of Balakandam in one charanam
  3. Purahara-Sarojabhava-Keshavadirupa : Vishakha narrated a lovely story about a goldsmith from Pandarpur, who was a great Shiva bhakta, but would not even utter the name of Panduranga and how Panduranga so beautifully opened his eyes!
  4. One can recite the whole of Jagadanandakaraka as ashtottara namavaLi! (I am trying to get the right count; I am certain there are close to a 100 namas!)

Obviously, Maharshi Valmiki was not satiated just by writing Srimad Ramayanam, he had to ‘sing’ it again in various verses as Tyagaraja, for the benefit of one and all!

Jaya Janakiprananayaka!

Happy Birthday, Dr Doyle!



147 years ago, on this day, was born the creator of arguably the most famous detective of all time, fictional though, Sherlock Holmes! 


There are two famous lists of favourite stories: that of Conan Doyle himself, in 1927, and that of the Baker Street Journal in 1959.

Conan Doyle's list:

  1. "The Adventure of the Speckled Band"
  2. "The Red-Headed League"
  3. "The Adventure of the Dancing Men"
  4. "The Adventure of the Final Problem"
  5. "A Scandal in Bohemia"
  6. "The Adventure of the Empty House"
  7. "The Five Orange Pips"
  8. "The Adventure of the Second Stain"
  9. "The Adventure of the Devil's Foot"
  10. "The Adventure of the Priory School"
  11. "The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual"
  12. "The Adventure of the Reigate Squire"

The Baker Street Journal's list:

  1. "The Adventure of the Speckled Band"
  2. "The Red-Headed League"
  3. "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle"
  4. "The Adventure of Silver Blaze"
  5. "A Scandal in Bohemia"
  6. "The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual"
  7. "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans"
  8. "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons"
  9. "The Adventure of the Dancing Men"
  10. "The Adventure of the Empty House"



Nano Smiley Face made from DNA!


“A nanotechnologist has created the world’s smallest and most plentiful smiley, a tiny face measuring a few billionths of a metre across assembled from strands of DNA. Dr Paul Rothemund at the California Institute of Technology can make 50 billion smileys, each a thousand times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, with his technique.”

Ref: Paul W. K. Rothemund (2006) “Folding DNA to create nanoscale shapes and patterns”, Nature 440:297-302 (16 March 2006) doi:10.1038/nature04586


read more | digg story

Burning visible images onto CD-Rs with data (beta)

“By carefully choosing the right 1s and 0s to burn to a CD, it is possible to burn visible images on normal CD-Rs. These images rely on the fact that the 1s and 0s created by pits in the CDs surface reflect light differently…”

This is just insane!

There are even MATLAB programs etc on the website to help you do the same!
What an innovative idea! Remember, this is nothing to do with the Lightscribe kind of stuff… since Lightscribe requires special media…

Read more at Instructables:

read more | digg story

Cometh Holi, cometh the Ho(o)ligans!

Holi, the Indian festival of colours is quite a one-of-its-kind festival, commemorating both the destruction of Holika, as well as the burning of Manmatha, symbolising desire/lust. Read more on the mythology on wikipedia:

However, the colour-throwing, as fun as it may be, has often been quite a nuisance, since a lot of people are quite paranoid about the synthetic colours, their adverse effects on the skin/eyes, leave alone merely getting very very dirty! A lot of hooliganistic behaviour has often been seen in various cities, Delhi I think, being particularly notorious, and Bombay too, uncharacteristically.

Even in an elite place like IISc, there is too much of hooliganism to believe or bear. The messes were messed up, as were several corridors. And after all this, this was probably the cleanest of the last three Holi’s I have seen here. The first one was a veritable disaster with colourful handprints on the brand new hostel’s walls. The next time, not even departments were spared, with colour strewn all over. This time, being a working day, the damage was contained I should guess. People walking into messes with colours strewn all over is never an endearing sight, more so if they take food — from the perspective of everyone’s health and hygiene! — dirtying chairs and the food alike.
The bottomline is that the celebration of the victory over the Asuras, of Prahlada being saved is celebrated indeed in Asura fashion. Some serious soul-searching needs to be done by these people. No one objects to peaceful enjoyment. Why drag in someone who is not interested? (Curiously, I say all this even though I’ve had to suffer nothing!) Why is there a failure to merely respect each other’s preferences?

π day

π = 3.14159 26535 89793 23846 26433 …

3.14 = March 14 happens to be pi-day every year. Curiously enough, it also happens to be Einstein’s birthday! gives you a search engine to search for digits of π. For example, a search for 15081947 gives

“The string 15081947 occurs at position 604,341 counting from the first digit after the decimal point. The 3. is not counted.

The string and surrounding digits:

99538905839657483550 15081947 01003364946075415680″

If you are quite crazy about π, you might want to pick up this geeky T-shirt (I created something very similar on photoshop, yet to print it!) from thinkgeek.

Indeed an enigmatic constant!