Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Just being frank

I tried writing what i wanted to say, don't know what effect it would have.
I am not thinking about any rejection or acceptance , I just want to convey that yes I might have been a total idiot but still I am still very much interested. Let it be known that even though it is late, even though I was not able to express what I meant , even though I wanted to say how badly I wanted to take this thing further on.

Now since I wrote some things of what was really going inside me , so hopefully I will be peaceful once more and all that desperation, restlessness and frustration will depart my soul and allow myself to be immersed in all my idiosyncrasy once more.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Chineses Challange in Myanmar

The news article that a Chinese company has inked the deal with Myanmar Military governement to build a pipeline from the port of to in China is a troubling news.

Till now China was forced to ship almost all its Oil and Natural gas imports from Middle East and Africa through the Mallaca Strait. This was a very comfortable situation to governments who wanted to have a tool to keep the chinese in control in case of any tricky situation arises. Even China is aware and acknowledges the fact that "certain major powers" could choke the Mallaca Strait and bring the Chinese Economy to a grinding halt. Now Since inking the deal , China has a route to Bay of Bengal and its Energy Lines are secured in a better way.

The problem for India have increased because of this latest development. It will result in Chinese Navy presence in Bay of Bengal. If in case of any hostilities ,India wants to stop the oil shipping to China , then it must block both the Strait of Mallaca and this alternative shipping route. This will definitely streach the resources of Indian Navy and so the effectiveness of the "blockade" will be reduced.

The question to ask is that what can India's Foreign Policy do to deal with the increasing influence of China in Burma and where does India stand in the eyes of Myanmar Junta.

With the rise of Military Government in Burma, slowly Burma has become isolated from the world. It is enduring several sanctions from various countries because of the crackdown on the democratic movements. This has resulted in Myanmar economy to turn to shambles. China stepped in this situation and using several Chinese MNC's it has been involved in developing several projects like Oil & Natural Gas, Mining and others. Myanmar also provides a market for cheap Chinese goods which is killing Myanmar's own Industries. China has leveraged its strong position in Myanmar to get several benefits from the Junta. Now as far as India is concerned ,than the Myanmar Junta is trying to balance India and China and be non-aligned with both the countries. Myanmar is using India as a counter weight to China. In the past India and Myanmar have agreed to several key projects like the Sittwe port which allow access to Mizoram through Bay of bengal , when Bangladesh refused. There are several other examples of such co-operation between the two countries.
India and Myanmar coming closer has been a result of India deciding to engage Myanmar's Military Junta , even though that will be mean supporting anti-democratic regimes. This is the need of the hour as the main concern is to limit the influence of China in Myanmar.

Maybe India could have supported the democratic movement in Burma and should have developed strong ties with the pro- democratic leaders in Burma. But at this point of time the possiblity of Junta being overthrown is remote. So the best course of action is to swim with the tide.
In the case of any democratic movement takes place and the Junta rule is in danger , then China will definitely support Myanmar's Junta and that would be a tricky situation for India. Maybe in such a case India should find a proxy country which will try to help the people of Myanmar against the Junta, while at the same time not appearing to be anti-Junta supporter.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Flankers in Tezpur.

The news of 4 Su30MKI being stationed in Tezpur , which is located to the north east of gawahati in Assam was received with much joy by all the nationalist defence/strategic analysts in India.
There is no doubt that positioning the Flankers(Su30MKI) in North east will surely strenghten Indian defenses in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam.

Flanker is a very potent air domination fighter jet. The latest technology and advanced avionics put together in a single platform will make sure that this plane can take on the most formidable offensive and defensive enemy hardware. Su 30 has a large operating range and since they have been based in North East , so now they can strike deep into Central China.

The question that many people asked was that why was this step taken some time back and what message does India sends to its neighbour by taking such a step.

I second the suggestion that the recent acquisition of some hardware like Aerostat Radar and other similar sytems. The point is that Su30 is a very precious piece of military hardware and it is not a wise choice to just place such a thing close to a border with China. So once Indian Military was ready with the ways to provide proper security cover for Flankers from surprise air attack or a saturated strike of missiles, they were kept out of harms' way. Now with a cover of latest radars , Indian Fighter Jets in Assam and Arunachal are safe.
The other question is that what would 4 Su30MKI would do against an enemy with numerical superiority. I believe that even stationing 4 Su30MKI is a calculated move.

A fighter jet is a machine of no use if the supporting infrastructure in form of ground control , maintainance facility etc are not capable of supporting a particular kind of aircraft. It takes time to set up these facilities for a modern machine like SU30MKI. So IAF is trying to develop these facilities by first placing 4 SU30 and then the numbers can be increased to squadron strength without much problem.
Also till the time sufficient number of Fighter Jets can be placed , the flying crew of IAF will become familiar with the terrain and operating conditions of North East.

Since Phalcon(AWACS) has also arrived so maybe Indian Defence planners though that operating Phalcon in NOrth east will be only possible if it is provided with escorts like Su30MKI and hence having a base of SU30MKI in North east becomes required.

Overall having a large number of SU30MKI suddenly in the North East will surely send a very offensive signal to China and so for the sake of not making the tension levels of situation to rise India will slowly induct sufficient number of Flankers in North East to provide a sufficient detterence to any possible Chinese Misadventures :)

Restless...after the brief encounter

well as a person, i always assumed that there are something that I would never fall for even if I wanted , there are some temptations that will always remain at an arm's length from me even if i tried to indulge in them and even though how much I fantasize , some things will always never come true. So here I am writing this post to tell myself and someone else that some of these assumptions just ended in a bitter sweet way after that brief encounter.

I never thought that this situation that began just like so many other situation (which has loads of initial exitement then a sudden realization of reality) would have a different ending.

So here I am on the 4th day from that fateful meeting. I am just not being able to describe how I am feeling , totally restless and completely lonely and just thinking "ohh man , I just wish things were different, what if we could just say what we want to say , what if it would not have been too late, what if there was more time ".

I know very well that with time , it will all change back to the way it was. I will be back to normal and once more become a guy who thinks that some things in his life are controlled by destiny and there is no need to "take a chance". But this again is one more of my many assumptions which might as well be changed for ever and how i wish it would !!!

but I will remember it as a day on which I came so close and yet that proverbial adam's apple remained out of reach. this day has broken my inhibitions and things will never be the same.

I write this post not to drown and forgot my sorrows but to remember them and make it an unforgotable experience.

Monday, June 15, 2009

India and SCO(Shanghai Cooperation Organisation)

The news right now is PM MMS(Manmohan Singh) has gone to Yekaterinburg to participate in SCO and BRICS meet. This is the first time India is participating at PM level in SCO and it is really interesting to see what policy and attitude India should have towards SCO.
Right now SCO is a group with two big brother Russia and China. Russia wants a firm control over SCO because this organization concerns Central Asia which is in Russia's sphere of influence. Naturally Russia is trying to project itself and reduce the influence of USA in Central Asia through SCO. The brief conflict between Russia and Georgia in August 2008 might have firmed the views in Moscow that USA still thinks of encircling Russia and include CIS states into its sphere of influence.
So Russia is trying to transform SCO into a military cooperation and understanding in addition to present goals of SCO.

China on the other hand is not comfortable with the military cooperation part. Some of the possible reasons might be that then SCO will visibly become anti US or anti-NATO. and maybe China's influence on SCO would also decrease in that case.

China is keen to use SCO as a channel to tap the energy resources of Central Asia without having a transport route passing through Russia. Naturally Russia will find this as a decrease in its influence on Central Asia.

Now India comes into picture. India definitely has eye on the events of Central Asia and the airbase at Ayni in Tajikistan is not just coincidence. Till now India has shied away from SCO and one reason was that an observer status in SCO is not in line with India's status. If India were to be active then it should be give the position and power that it deserves. Now Russia has tried to have India roped in SCO , by organizing BRICS and SCO at the same time.

There might be many reasons why Russia is interested in India being active and one possible reasons is that it will strengthen Russia own position.
If India tries to get involved in SCO it might find some concessions from Russia in CIS states and it might straighten India's security as well as energy security. India is also trying to have Afghanistan become active in SCO and this way Afghanistan can develop stronger ties with its Central Asian neighbour and become less dependent on Pakistan. Russia does not like Pakistan involvement(ie Taliban and Al Qaida) in Afghanistan so India does not have to worry about that.

I believe that India's action of waiting till the right time to actively participate in SCO has been a right move. Now India will get the high tables and a voice that will be heard.

India can surely counter China by working with Russia in this organization.
Definitely India will not be pleasing USA by becoming involved in SCO. Probably US will try ti offer some incentive to India to keep away from SCO, maybe a bit more pressure on Pakistan to address India's long standing demands.

It would be interesting to see how India associates itself with central Asian countries and how much leverage it can get out of SCO.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Year Long Tale of USBasp

It all started during summer of 08. After completing the Embedded Robotics the previous semester , I realized that the plain simple Parallel Port Programmer that we were using till then for programming the AVR microcontroller was not just sufficient for programming. It is a big pain when you need a PC with a parallel port and the every time you have to burn a new code in the micro-controller you need to physically bring the robot to the PC or in the worst case you have to take the IC out every time and put it on the programmer board, flash the code, remove it and again put it back in the robot's circuit. More so I was thinking that for competitions like Robocon we needed a programmer that is more efficient and can be used with a laptop ie USB port.

So after some googling I came across USBasp and some other USB programmer like AVR Doper. The simplicity of USBasp appealed in the first look. So I quickly soldered one PCB of the USBasp circuit. But some issues came up. First I found that the Atmega8 in USBasp was running at 12MHz and according to data sheet of ATMega8 only ATMega8 can support 12MHz CPU clock frequency and ATMega8L can clock only upto 8MHz, now here in Hyderabad (Gujrati Gali) mostly ATMega8L is available and so I tried desperately to find a ATMega8 to have USBasp completed. Somehow I found one.
Now when I tried to test the circuit it gave error "USB device not recognized" and after checking the circuit again and again I could not find where the problem is so I abandoned the whole thing.

When the summers ended and during 5th semester , we started preparing for Robocon , we ordered 2 different USB programmer and both worked well and clearly were almost same as USBasp. Next in the 6th semester I became the TA for Embedded Robotics , so we again ordered 10-12 USB programmer for students. There was big time problem with the delivery of the programmer and this created lot of problem for conducting the course.
In the mean time Jayant one of the hopeful MS student for Robotics Research Lab came and I told him about USBasp and when he tried he made it work and that too even with ATmega8L , I was totally surprised but happy that now even I can make tha thing work somehow.

When the next summers of 09 started I set down with PS Abhimanyu determined to make USBasp work. We had with us the working USBasp programmers that we had purchased and the information that Jayant had got it working.
The first thing I did was to check all the connections of the 1 year old circuit and Lo!! I could not believe myself when I found 2 bugs in the wiring. What on earth did I do 1 year back that I could not find these error at that point of time !!! anyways I saw the circuit of the programmer that we had brought and i knowingly did not short the pin 25 to GND that was supposed to regulate the speed of programmer , thinking that if this working circuit did not have this connection why would I need one myself ?
So when the circuit was connected to the laptop the device was recognized but any attempt to burn a hex file would fail resulting in error "rc = -1 .......".
Next we tried everything that was mentioned in the ReadMe file and still this problem was not resolved. Now this was a big headache , here we were supposed to design and develop AVR development Kits and AVR Kits for Embedded System Lab course and we were not even able to get the programmer working.
So I we tried our best to solve the problem , we tried to see the voltages going on the MOSI, MISO,SCK pins on the oscilloscope and they also seemed to be fine except for MISO which was almost always zero. Next we tried to read the hex file from the working programmer and tried to flash our programmer controller with the same code but this reverse engineering also did not work , we did not had the intention nor the temperament to go through Fischl's code and see what he was doing .
Totally heart fallen I tried contacting Jayant but he was not available, so after one week I tried again one night to see if the circuit works, for checking I took one of Abhimanyu's ER boards with one of his ATMega8, and tried dumping the code once and Lo !! by heavens infinite kindness that code was dumped and verified :). Now I tried changing the code several times and it worked every time but only on Abhimanyu's board ,still I was totally overjoyed and I went to sleep thinking that I have very well earned a nice and content full sleep :).

So next morning we were again brainstorming why the thing worked on only one board , and now see what the luck we had, Abhimanyu told me that all his ATMega8 were clocked at 8MHz rather then the default setting of 1 MHz, it was there that out Tube light glowed for the first time !!! All this time I was assuming that the pin 25 need not be connected to ground since it was not done in the programmer that we had purchased.

So the final verdict was that , the guy who's USBasp we had purchased had modified the source code of Fischl'e and so he didn't needed the jumper at pin 25 , to program the controller that were clocked at 1 MHz. But in our case since we had pin 25 open so we were able to program only the microcontrollers that were clocked at higher then 1.5 MHz.

So it was eventually that USBasp , a well tested and very popular USB programmer was finally up and working after 1 full year from the first time the circuit was assembled on PCB.

Then when we tested the circuit with an ATMega8L instead of ATMega8, it also worked , so we can assume that AVR microcontroller can safely be overclocked without much problem !!!