Sunday, March 27, 2011

Free OS on the Cloud for one year

In case you didn't know already, Amazon is offering a free cloud hosted Linux VM for one year, when you sign up for their Cloud services. It's called a Micro Instance and comes with a load of freebies including:

  • 750 hours of Amazon EC2 Linux Micro Instance usage (613 MB of memory and 32-bit and 64-bit platform support) – enough hours to run continuously each month*
  • 750 hours of an Elastic Load Balancer plus 15 GB data processing*
  • 10 GB of Amazon Elastic Block Storage, plus 1 million I/Os, 1 GB of snapshot storage, 10,000 snapshot Get Requests and 1,000 snapshot Put Requests*
  • 5 GB of Amazon S3 standard storage, 20,000 Get Requests, and 2,000 Put Requests*
  • 30 GB per of internet data transfer (15 GB of data transfer “in” and 15 GB of data transfer “out” across all services except Amazon CloudFront)*
  • 25 Amazon SimpleDB Machine Hours and 1 GB of Storage**
  • 100,000 Requests of Amazon Simple Queue Service**
  • 100,000 Requests, 100,000 HTTP notifications and 1,000 email notifications for Amazon Simple Notification Service**
  • 10 Amazon Cloudwatch alarms**
(Source: From Amazon.com)

First you need to create a AWS (Amazon Web Services) account. This blog has a nice write-up on how to get started.

Microsoft on the other hand is offering Windows Azure Platform on Trial through June 2011. It also includes 3 months of SQLAzure.
  • Compute:
    • 750 hours of an Extra Small Compute Instance
    • 25 hours of a Small Compute Instance
  • Storage:
    • 500MB
    • 10k Storage transactions
  • Data Transfers:
    • 500MB in / 500MB out
  • Relational Database:
    • 1G Web Edition SQLAzure database (for 90 days only)
  • Access Control transactions:
    • 100k
  • Service Bus connections:
    • 2
You can get more details and sign-up by visiting here

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Video editing for Newbies

This purpose of this guide is to introduce Newbies (like me) in getting started with making short videos or personal home movies and wish to add cool stuff in their movies. The idea is to make do with as much free tools as possible. You'll need the following tools to get started:

1. Avidemux - Video editor for simple cutting, filtering, and encoding

Retrieved from Avidemux on 04/16/2010: "Avidemux is a video editor designed for simple cutting, filtering and encoding tasks. It supports many file types, including AVI, DVD compatible MPEG files, MP4 and ASF, using a variety of codecs. Tasks can be automated using projects, job queue and powerful scripting capabilities."

Retrieved from cnet.com on 04/16/2010: "Cropping a video is as simple as selecting the section you want to remove and then hitting the Delete key. Re-encoding a video is equally painless: select the output format from the drop-down list, save the file, and you're good to go. When choosing where to start and stop a crop, there's both incremental and multisecond advance and rewind tools, There's also a not insubstantial list of video and audio codecs that files can be converted to. Video formats include multiple codecs for FLV, MPEG, AVI, VCD, H.263/4, and others, while audio formats include MP3, AAC, Ogg Vorbis, WAV, and one or two more.

The program also includes advanced options, including generic decoder and post-processing tools, user-defined filters, GlyphSet adjustments, and more features. Avidemux should appeal to users of all abilities who are looking for a quick way to edit down video files."

Download from download.cnet.com

2. MP4Cam2AVI - MP4(MOV) to AVI converter/joiner for digital cameras

Retrieved from videohelp.com on 4/30/2010: "
MP4Cam2AVI is a MP4/MOV/MPEG4/MJPEG to AVI converter/joiner for MPEG-4 camcorders and digital photo cameras. It makes MPEG-4 ASP camera clips DivX/XviD compatible and playable with any DVD-MPEG4 player like regular MPEG-4 movie. Program supports *.MP4, *.MOV, and *.AVI input. MJPEG video from photo-cameras is supported as well. Program converts *.MOV MJPEG clips to MJPEG AVI (without recompression) or to XviD MPEG-4 AVI (with recompression) in one click. MP4Cam2AVI supports MPEG-4 AVC (H.264) video from new H.264 cameras like Sanyo CG65 and Casio EX-V7."

Download from Sourceforge.net

3. Audacity - Audio editor for recording, slicing, and mixing audio.

Retrieved from cnet.com on 4/30/2010: "This editor can record and play sounds and import and export WAV, AIFF, MP3, and OGG files. Edit your sounds using cut, copy, and paste features (with unlimited undo functionality), mix tracks, or apply effects to your recordings. The program also has a built-in amplitude-envelope editor, a customizable spectrogram mode, and a frequency-analysis window for audio-analysis applications. Built-in effects include bass boost, wah wah, and noise removal, and the program also supports VST plug-in effects. "

Download from Sourceforge.net

In addition you'll also need LAME MP3 encoder for Audacity. You can download it from the author's site.

4. VLC Media Player - Highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (Optional - Highly recommended over Windows Media Player and Quicktime)

Retrieved from cnet.com on 4/30/2010: "VLC (initially VideoLAN Client) is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats, including MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, MP3, and OGG, as well as for DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It also can be used as a server for unicast or multicast streams in IPv4 or IPv6 on a high-bandwidth network."

Download from videolan.org

5. Avisynth - tool for video post-production (Optional)

Retrieved from videohelp.com on 4/17/2010 - "AviSynth is a powerful tool for video post-production. It provides almost unlimited ways of editing and processing videos. AviSynth works as FrameServer, providing instant and very fast editing without the need for temporary files. Video editing using scripting, try the AVSEdit scripting tool."

Getting Started

Follow the installation instructions listed on the websites and install the programs accordingly. If you own a HD camcorder such as Flip Ultra HD or Aiptek, your videos will be in MOV or MP4 container. The first step is to convert them to an AVI container using MP4Cam2AVI. Believe me, this vastly simplifies the whole editing process and frees you up to add your creativity to your videos.



Cropping

Next, you might want to crop out unnecessary portions of your video and combine them into a single video. Avidemux is friend that helps you do this



Audio Editing - Remove noise, add background music etc.,

You could then extract the audio from the cropped video again using Avidemux, by going to Audio -> Save and save the output as your .wav



Open your audio file using Audacity



and make changes to your audio by reducing Noise, adding/reducing gain, or add an additional musical Soundtrack to the original Audio.



Now, it's time add the mastered audio to the video. Make sure your audio and video timelines are identical. Otherwise, you're most likely to end up with an out-of-sync Video and Audio. Go back to Avidemux and change the Audio for the Main track as follows:





Now Save the Video file as .avi by clicking File -> Save... -> Save Video. Open the file you saving using VLC Media Player and enjoy your own Movie production. Go ahead upload it to youtube and show off to your friends and family

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Myka's Linux-based BitTorrent box great home theater PC for lazy people | Tech Gear News - Betanews

Myka's Linux-based BitTorrent box great home theater PC for lazy people | Tech Gear News - Betanews: "With as many set-top boxes as there suddenly appear to be in the home video market, as long as any one of them has a strong central feature, it could be the one that becomes a household name. Look at TiVo, Slingbox, and AppleTV: Each of these built a TV-based ecosystem around a single unique feature: TiVo's was the DVR, Slingbox was the place-shifting concept, and AppleTV was iTunes.

Now, IPTV startup Myka has designed its own media center STB, focusing on BitTorrent as its winning central feature. And while it doesn't carry all the functions one would expect in a home theater PC (HTPC), it offers enough power and functionality to be considered a little more than your run-of-the-mill set top box. Like the title says, if you're a little bit lazy...you could even consider Myka a pre-built HTPC. Betanews got an exclusive look at this new device."

Myka's Linux-based BitTorrent box great home theater PC for lazy people | Tech Gear News - Betanews. (n.d.). . Retrieved July 14, 2009, from http://www.betanews.com/article/Mykas-Linuxbased-BitTorrent-box-great-home-theater-PC-for-lazy-people/1246397052.

Slashdot IT Story | German Health Insurance Card CA Loses Secret Key

Slashdot IT Story | German Health Insurance Card CA Loses Secret Key: "'The SSL Root CA responsible for issuing the German digital health insurance card lost its secret private key during a test enrollment. After their Hardware Security Module (HSM) dutifully deleted its crypto keys during a power outage, it was all 'Oops, why is there no backup?' All issued cards must be replaced: 'Gematik spokesman Daniel Poeschkens poured scorn on the statement that Gematik had insisted on the service provider carrying out a test without backing up the root CA private keys. 'We did not decide against a back-up service. The fact of the matter is that the service provider took over the running of the test system, so it also has to warrant its continuous operation. How it fulfills this obligation is its own responsibility.'"

Slashdot IT Story | German Health Insurance Card CA Loses Secret Key. (n.d.). . Retrieved July 14, 2009, from http://it.slashdot.org/story/09/07/14/150243/German-Health-Insurance-Card-CA-Loses-Secret-Key?from=rss.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

How I Work: Bill Gates - Apr. 4, 2006

How I Work: Bill Gates - Apr. 4, 2006

A look into how the world's richest spends a working day. You'd surprised at how a man so powerful spends his time in such a modest manner. Of course, I'd also like three monitors on my desk when I walk into my "office" with a secretary who handles my appointments.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Slashdot | NPR Story on the Future of Nuclear Power

Slashdot | NPR Story on the Future of Nuclear Power

Slashdot | Open-Source Router to Take on Cisco?

Slashdot | Open-Source Router to Take on Cisco?

Interesting developments in the fields of Open Source. Open Source has been gaining significant strength in the recent years. In a couple of years a lot of corporate applications will be replaced by Open-Source applications

Friday, November 04, 2005

Microsoft acquires Foldershare

The good news just keeps pouring. Microsoft recently announced it is acquiring file-sharing firm Foldershare http://www.foldershare.com (See: http://www.anandtech.com/news/shownews.aspx?i=25212) How does it make a difference to me, you ask? I'll get to it in a bit. I've been using the Foldershare technology ever since they offered their software as free Beta to the users over Internet. If you were familiar during the heady days of Internet there used to be small company named Audiogalaxy that allowed you to share your music files in a very unique way. They'd a small application known as Satellite that you could use to upload and download music. Well, Audiogalaxy was later shutdown due to threats of lawsuits from Music Industry (ala Napster). They pulled the plug on the website. However, the technology evolved into a new tool called Foldershare.

Now, Foldershare was and is a neat tool. It's unique till date to my knowledge. It lets you synchronize your files across multiple computers. If you're anything like me, you have some documents and pictures taken from Digital Camera in your laptop, Some music in your home computer etc., How do you keep all these synced up? In comes Foldershare, it lets synchronize files across the computers you use. You can also invite friends to download/upload files from your library. I was using Foldershare actively till it was a free service. Now thanks to Microsoft acquiring the company it's once again Free!! Free as in Free Beer!! Go ahead and give it a try (http://www.foldershare.com) You wouldn't believe how you lived without it.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Biology news 5: Bird flu

With bird flu on the horizon, this is the time to learn about it. I'll try to explain it in simple terms. You can learn more at www.cdc.gov/flu/avian/.

What is bird flu, or avian influenza? First of all, it is important to know that there are different strains of flu in the world. There are the ones that infect humans, the ones that infect pigs, the ones that infect horses, and the ones that infect birds, to name a few.

The type that infects birds, the scary one we are talking about, is called H5N1. It right now is causing a bird flu outbreak in Asia. A lot of birds are dying, and possibly passing on the flu in a rare case of transmission to humans.

Normally, viruses from birds don't infect humans. They can only infect birds because birds have right proteins on their cells to let the virus enter. Humans don't. The way that the virus could infect humans is to mutate and somehow find a way to enter human cells. Even then, it has to make the human sick enough (at least a cold) to pass on the virus to other humans. Only then will there be an epidemic.

Why is H5N1 killing all of these birds NOW? H5N1 is different from other bird flu strains because it has changed. While normal bird flu only infects the intestines and the airways of birds, H5N1 can infect intestines, eyes, airways, and many other organs. This means that rather than just a normal flu-like symptom or ruffling of feathers in birds, the birds can die.

What will happen if bird flu gets into humans? Infection of humans could mean you get just a plain old flu, or something more serious like an airway attack, or even death. Because humans have never seen a virus like this before (Our usual influenza is really different from bird flu), our immune systems don't know how to attack the virus to stop it. So it could possibly have a stronger effect.

What about a vaccine? Groups are now working on trying to get medicines and vaccines for H5N1, in case of an outbreak. The vaccines that are being tried right now require a lot more killed virus than the normal flu vaccine. When one is developed, people may need to get more than one shot to prevent disease. Vaccines are now in trials.

How can we prevent it? Stay away from birds, if you can! Don't eat raw eggs or uncooked poultry. Avoid travel to places that have known outbreaks of avian flu, or at least stay away from poultry farms and any contact with animals there. And when any flu vaccine becomes available - get it! If you get any flu-like symptoms it's probably just the regular flu, so wash your hands frequently, see your doctor, and get plenty of rest. Don't cough on anybody!

Monday, August 29, 2005

Biology news 4: Taming Cholesterol

We're back. In this issue, as you munch on festival sweets and cakes, biologists bring you new insights into a scary aspect of diet: cholesterol. You can read the actual article here: http://www.pubmedcentral.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pubmed&pubmedid=16100574.

There's a lot of bad hype about cholesterol: it can cause heart problems, you want to keep your numbers low, and it can lead to a bigger gut (along with its ugly cousin, fat). But cholesterol can be good for you, too.

We all need a little bit of cholesterol to keep our cells working properly. Cholesterol is a small molecule that slips into the outer wall (the cell membrane) of the components of our bodies, our cells. In there, it helps keep the cell membrane fluid and smooth, not rigid and impenetrable. If you have too little cholesterol, your liver will actually start to make it!

The problems start when you have too much. Too much cholesterol can combine with fat to clog up arteries.

So it's important that your liver stops making cholesterol. How does your body know that there's too much cholesterol and to stop making it? That's something scientists have puzzled over, until now.

Recent studies have shown that when you have too much cholesterol, two genes in your DNA get turned on. They make two proteins called the "Insigs." What are insigs and what do they do? The Insig proteins are special in one particular way: they prevent cholesterol from being made by binding to one of the parts of the cholesterol-making machine.

Imagine: you eat a particularly high cholesterol diet (a large fast-food lunch, or several slices of pizza with lots of cheese). You get a lot of cholesterol into your cells. In the meantime, your body has already been making cholesterol! That's cholesterol you don't need. A machine in your cell is chugging away, making cholesterol, with cholesterol-making proteins.

Now, your insigs spring into action. They go over to the cholesterol-making protein (called SREBPs), and they grab on to it. They glom on and trap it inside the cell so that it can't make more cholesterol-making proteins and more cholesterol. Ta da - you stop making cholesterol. Of course, now you have to do something with the cholesterol you already have.

What happens when your insigs stop working? The scientists removed the insig genes from some mice. When those mice ate a lot of cholesterol-rich food (mmm, cheese!), they got fat. Of course. But not only that! They continued to make cholesterol even when their livers would normally stop.

The cool thing about this study is that if you could treat people who normally make too much cholesterol with something that activates their insigs, they would make less. Then you could someday even increase your insigs to prevent from getting fatty!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Gravity, Blackholes and spacetime warps - Part I

Ever wonder what gravity is? Yeah yeah, it is the force of attraction between two bodies due to their mass. We all learn't that in high school. We also got a nice equation for that given by Newton's law of universal gravitation:

F=G*(m1*m2)/(r2)


Where F is the Force due to gravity, G is the gravitational constant(G = 6.67 × 10−11 N m2 kg-2), m1 and m2 are the mass of the respective objects and r is the distance between them. BTW ever wonder what is with constants in Physics? Some dude comes up with an equation that does not quite explain the behavior, he slaps on a constant and voila. What's more, she/he gives it her/his name. Hmm, there has got to be a better way :-)

Phew, wish I was writing this in OpenOffice or Latex, the equations would have come out nice. Anyway, coming back from the digress, so we all learn't that all right, but what is gravity. Why should two bodies attract in the first place, and massive ones at that? Ever wonder how Jupiter got all it's moons?

Einstein explained this in a very elegant manner. Simply put, we don't just live in a 3 dimensional world, we actually live in a 4 dimensional world, the fourth dimension being spacetime. It is a combination of both space and time as we know it. Try as I might, I could never visualize 4D. The max I could do was bring my eyes closer to each other to see the tip of my nose, boy you should have seen the look on my wife's face when I did this, she freaked out :-).

Anyway, so the point is, there is this fabric made out of SpaceTime that covers the fourth dimension, and it is the warpage of this fabric that results in gravity. Imagine a taut plastic wrap supported by two clamps on both sides. Plastic is elastic so it can expand to accomodate things falling on top of this. Imagine, for this exercise, there is no gravity any where. There is no force pulling things down. Further assume that this plastic wrap is infinite and that a small ball is set into motion in a straight line from one end. Also while we are assuming everything, let us also assume that there is no friction, so the law of inertia holds. The ball just keeps moving.

Now place a heavy spherical object directly in the path of the small ball. This heavy object causes the plastic wrap to warp in order to accomodate it. It makes a trough. When the small ball approaches this trough, it goes into it, but in a straight line. What happens when you start walking in a straight line across the globe of Earth? That is right, you come back to the place you started. A straight line in a curved surface is curved with respect to the surface. So the ball starts moving in a circle around the sphere. All this time, the ball is actually moving in a straight line, but it appears to move in a spherical fashion because the straight line itself is warped because of the heavy shpere.

This in essence is gravity. Obviously this is an over simplified version. The small ball itself has it's own gravity which is caused by the spacetime warpage that it is causing. But this model explains how satellites form around massive objects in space. Why planets orbit their star(s) and why moon(s) orbit their planet.

This raises a question, what happens when the object is too massive? At some point, the gravity becomes so strong that spacetime completely warps around the object. At this point, this object pinches itself off our universe, and goes where? Nobody knows. Maybe it attaches itself to an alternate universe where it opens up with the same force with which it shut itself down in our universe. Or may be it just explodes and throws back everything it has, creating it's own universe. That would explain the big bang and how everything came from nothing. Ofcourse all this is just imaginations at this time.

Now, what happens to the object before it pinches itself off. The spacetime progressively warps itself around the object causing everything in the vicinity to fall into the object. At some point, the gravity becomes so high that even light cannot escape from the object. It becomes a blackhole. Since, even light cannot escape it's gravity, we cannot see it, it is black. So then how do we know it is there, isn't it scary that a massive blackhole could be sitting right in the orbit of our sun as it moves across the Milky Way Galaxy?

I just said that everything falls into the Blackhole. What happens when particles fall into the blackhole is that their velocity increases due to the high gravitational force. When that happens, the atoms are mighty agitated causing the object to heat up and emit radiation. This radiation would be emited right till it falls into what is called as the event horizon of the blackhole, the point of no return. At the event horizon, nothing escapes the blackhole. Till then you have a chance, however slim it might be. Beyond that, nada. This radiation gives a kind of an aura around the blackhole called the accretion disk. So we can see around the blackhole, just not what is inside it. There is a super massive blackhole in the center of our galaxy. In fact most galaxies have a super massive blackhole in the middle. Galaxies form around it, and ultimately are eaten up by the blackhole. The bright glowing object that you see in artist's impression of our galaxy is the blackhole.

There is yet another way to detect blackholes even if it does not have an accretion disk. Remember, I said gravity warps spacetime and hence even light would be deflected. If there was a bright star directly behind the blackhole in a straight line to Earth, the light from the star would be deflected around the blackhole because of the gravity. This deflection would cause a red shift, ultimately away from the visible spectrum towards ultra red frequencies. By measuring the red shift it is possible to calculate the gravitational force and ultimately compute that the object in the middle causing the red shift is a blackhole.

How do blackholes form? Although Einstein's equation (the famous E=MC2) predicted blackholes, Einstein himself refused to believe it. He said that nature in it's beauty would prevent such a thing from happening. But Schwarzchild proved Einstein wrong from the front lines of a war thus creating a terminology Schwarzchild's singularity.

How do objects become blackholes? and why only some and not all massive objects become blackholes? A brilliant Physicist by name Subramaniam Chandrasekhar explained how and why. We will see more about this and the famous Chandrasekhar limit in future blogs. In case you are wondering, no our sun will not become a blackhole when it burns out. We'll see why in the following posts. Stay tuned.

Random ramblings from the technology world

Yahoo! aquired konfabulator and proceeded to give it away for free. Download and install it on your XP/2000 box. Very nice, gives you an amazing new look to the already obsolete XP desktop. http://www.konfabulator.com

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Biology news 3: Cats don't have a sweet tooth

The third in the series might surprise you: it turns out that cats can't taste sweetness! Anyone who's ever tasted cat food knows it certainly isn't sweet. If you want to read details, see here: http://genetics.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pgen.0010003.

It turns out that most ordinary (that is, tame pet) cats have normal taste, but they can't taste sweetness. This is not true of humans of course, but most other mammals, including dogs, mice, horses, etc. can all tell when something is sweet. Cats can't! And scientists have wondered why for a long time.

How do you know what tastes sweet? Your tastebuds on your tongue detect sugar or sweet compounds (in honey, nutrasweet, splenda) and send a signal to your brain that says, "Hey, that's sweet!" The tastebuds have little proteins on them called receptors that actually attach to sugar molecules and then get turned on to send the message to your brain. When your tongue is burnt, you can't taste anything, because those receptors on your tongue are temporarily missing!

So why can't cats taste the sweet? It turns out their DNA for the sweetness receptor is ok. The sweetness receptor is actually a pair of proteins called "taste receptor 2" and "taste receptor 3." Taste receptor 3 is fine in cats, but taste receptor 2 isn't. Even though the DNA is there, there are changes in it (called mutations) that mess it up so that it never makes it to the cat's tongue. This kind of gene for taste receptor 2, which is actually there but not turned on, is called a pseudogene. With only half of a sweetness detector, the cats can't tell what's sweet and what isn't.

Amazingly, domestic cats aren't the only ones with the problem. Lions, cheetahs, jaguars and tigers can't taste sweet either. Somewhere along in evolution, one ancient cat lost the ability to taste sweetness, and so all its descendants did, too.

What does this mean for cats? Well, there's no point tempting them with sugar in their milk, for one thing. But also, it might explain why cats are carnivores. Since fruit and veggies don't taste good to them, they might prefer the flavor of meat. Or it could be the other way around: maybe because they started eating meat, they lost their sweet tooth.

In any case, it's a mystery, and makes taste even more interesting. In fact, even among humans, only some of us can taste certain types of bitterness (like phenylthiocarbamide, PTC, which is in cigarettes). With lots of taste receptors on our tongues, some people really do have "good taste."

rani

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Biology news 2: Male and female dinosaurs

The second in the series is an interesting one: now you can tell which dinosaurs are male and which are female. The story is here: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/308/5727/1456

So, how can you tell a girl dinosaur apart from a boy? If you had a whole dinosaur, it would be easier: you could look at reproductive organs, which ones laid eggs, who raises the kids, who wears lipstick, etc. But scientists don't have the luxury of observing whole, live dinosaurs. They don't even have whole, dead ones. All they have is fossilized bones!

So, we have to use something else to tell which one is male and which is female. The typical methods used relative size to tell if an animal was male, and it was usually not very reliable (so, that huge, scary T rex you saw at the museum might have been a mommy or a daddy!).

Now, scientists have found a Tyrannosaurus rex in the Rockies that they know for sure is a female. A fertile female. One who was laying eggs.

How do they know? Well, it turns out that when female dinosaurs are laying eggs, they change the inside of the bones in their back legs. The coolest thing about this is that birds do the same thing!

In current-day birds (especially ostriches and emus), when the girl birds start to make eggs, their hormones (like estrogen) go up, and they make this lining on the inside of their bones. The lining has calcium in it that helps them make eggshells. Amazingly, only birds do this.

So what does this mean? Well, for one it means that any dinosaur that has this special type of bone lining is definitely a female. It means the female was laying eggs.

And it also means something else: it means that dinosaurs are related to birds, especially ostriches and emus! So next time you see an ostrich at the zoo, remember: its great-great-great-great-great-great... grandmother could have been a T rex!

rani

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Biology news 1: Antibodies protect against HIV

Hi everyone,

As a biologist, I feel I need to educate people about biology and what the latest news is. We'll start with a simple discovery: that certain antibodies can protect against HIV infection. A full description is here: http://www.nature.com/news/2005/050509/full/050509-2.html

What is HIV? Well, it is the virus that causes AIDS (no doubt about that). In AIDS, the cells in your body that kill the bad things (viruses, bacteria, worms) are themselves killed by the virus. So when you have AIDS you get really sick because your own internal army is destroyed and you're not strong enough to fight off other infections.

What are antibodies? Well, they are proteins (like the protein you eat) that are made inside your body, but they are shaped like a Y. The Y shape is useful because these antibodies can attach to other proteins - for example, they could latch on to a bacteria that's infected you (food poisoning), or some poison you accidentally touched (poison ivy), or in this case, a virus. When the antibodies attach to the virus, they can drag the virus away so that your body can kill it. The antibodies are like harpoons and hooks that your body can use to grab on to the viruses and destroy them.

So, it may come as no surprise that antibodies can prevent HIV from growing. But in fact it is, because for the longest time, people have had a hard time finding antibodies that work in people who have AIDS. In fact, most of the antibodies that AIDS patients have don't do anything to the virus! They just sit there floating around, maybe attaching a little, but then the virus changes and the hooks don't attach anymore.

In this study, what the scientists did was give people specific antibodies (particular Y shapes that attach to particular proteins) that would attach to HIV. They found that if you gave the patients the antibodies, the HIV didn't grow as fast as it did when you didn't give the antibodies or if you gave them random Y shapes that attach to something else.

The new study is exciting because it says that some antibodies that we could give to patients might help prevent the virus from growing inside a person. They aren't very strong, and they don't work as well as the other drugs that doctors usually give people with HIV in the US, so they will probably be part of a combined treatment, but it might be another bit of hope for people outside the US who can't get drugs very easily.

Also, the antibodies working might mean that other ways of helping a person make more antibodies might be useful in the fight against AIDS.

rani

Have you tried the RSS feeds on My Yahoo! website?

Now you can customize your My Yahoo pages with RSS feeds for various websites. You can even have different pages for different categories. You can aggregate all the News websites you want in one page, All Tech-related feeds in a second page, Bargains and Deals in the third page and so on. RSS aggregation on My Yahoo! really makes life easy for many of us who do not have visit each website individually to see if there's a content of interest to us. Now you can know that simply by opening your My Yahoo! Page. I strongly suggest you give it a try.

Here's what you need to do to try this out. Go to http://my.yahoo.com and sign in with your Yahoo ID and password. Choose 'Add Content' link on the 'My Yahoo' page and you'll be directed to the page where you add content to your 'My Yahoo' page. Apart from a bunch of tools provided by Yahoo, you're also allowed to choose your own RSS feeds. Type in your search terms in the Text Box next to 'Find Content' to discover news sources. Try adding the following URL in the Text box and try it out: http://tekzon.blogspot.com/atom.xml

--Rajesh

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Tek corner Blog site

Welcome to my Tekzon. Here you'll find articles and snippets on Tehnology related stuff.