Monday, January 05, 2009

India Trip

I got back from my trip to India yesterday. Overall I had a great time. I had some problems trying to get into the country however. In ignorance, I assumed that I could get a tourist visa on arrival. This was not the case. When they discovered that I did not have a visa, they immediately tried to deport me. I was given two options: either fly to Sri Lanka in an attempt to get an Indian visa, or fly back to France. I was leaning towards the Sri Lanka option, but after lengthy negotiation I discovered a hidden third option. Several hours later I was issued a temporary landing permit. This allowed me to stay in India for three days. In those three days I visited the Bureau of Immigration and got an extended exit endorsement until the end of my trip.

I spent most of vacation relaxing at my parent's house by the beach. We did some exploring along the coast between Chennai and Mahabalipuram. We found a cool place with a network of pools surrounded by rock cliffs. After Christmas we took trip to Kerala for a few days. We stayed in Kumarakom and explored the backwaters, lake Vembanad, and a bird sanctuary. I was hoping to spend a few days on a house boat, but unfortunately we were visiting at the peak of tourist season so it was impossible to reserve one for a decent price. We took several boat rides and even rented our own canoe. Kerala is an incredibly beautiful place so I made sure to take plenty of pictures.

For Christmas I got a PS3. I managed to get video output to my monitor after buying an expensive HDMI to DVI cable. I have been having trouble trying to get the audio working. There are three audio output options: RCA, TOSLINK, and HDMI. I have a cable which converts RCA to a male TRS connector. If I want to get audio to my speakers/headphones, I need a female connector. Using the audio in/out ports of my computer would do the trick, but unfortunately I am having sound card driver issues in Ubuntu. If I fail at fixing the driver problems I'll need to buy another cable.

On my way to India I worked on a new version of Swarm. On the way back I worked on a vectorization program (see this blog entry). Neither of the projects turned out as well as I was hoping. I have now abandoned releasing the new version of Swarm since it isn't much of an improvement. The vectorization program is slow and does not seem to do a very good job. Here is the Mona Lisa with 100 triangles:

Original image:Iteration 10:Iteration 50:Iteration 150:It took about one hour to get to iteration 150 and its rate of improvement seemed to have leveled off. I assume that 100 triangles can represent the Mona Lisa much better than this solution, so I am going to work on improving both the efficiency and the effectiveness of the program.

I have finally finished reading Anathem. Overall I thought it was a great book, although I got really bored by some of the long philosophical discussions. Since I didn't bring GEB to India, I have started reading A Game of Thrones.
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