Sunday, January 19, 2014

Google - The IT Giant

There was a time when I also wanted to view/reply to emails instantly no matter what time of the day it is and where I am. I had seen my managers at work, would reply instantly to any issue. That was helpful in attending towards any urgent issues etc. I consoled myself, that let me wait until I become a manager or privileged  person to get the privileged phones that had the formula for delivery of instant emails embedded within.

A year later then, I quit my job, when came the era of internet/smart phones or whatever you like to call. The market was flooded with smart phones and it was time when every single person was switching to a smart phone and so I too got a smart phone that enthused me with instant delivery of my personal emails. Finally my dream came true but I was out of my  job, and therefore got better with instant replies to my personal mails. Thanks to Google for building a beautiful operating system like Android for smart phones and for the Gmail app for mobile.

So then I was happy with smart phones and instant emails.

Next, coming to my blog, thanks to  Google yet again for providing us with a beautiful platform like blogger to let me log and share my thoughts with the external world. Blogger not only provided a way to open up thoughts, but as well earn few pennies if interested by adding the Ad sense  tool (from Google ) to the blog. I am already amazed with such commendable tools from Google.

Couple of days back I saw a small icon labeled "Save to my drive" in one of the email attachments.  Out of curiosity I clicked that and wanted to see how different it is from "Download" option.  I was then followed to the Google Drive. Oh my!

Though I had used Google drive in the past for sharing some documents with my friends and collaborate virtually, I never stacked any items onto the drive or never realized its importance. I, also had read few articles in the magazines that Google drive could be a best option for us to have a backup of our data.

But unknowingly, I ignored all that I read, until one day, when I wanted to share and get few songs/mp3 files from my cousin staying in a different city.  I was annoyed to surf for few old classic songs on the web and do a individual download of songs click by click. When I knew my cousin had those songs about 3GB or more I was thinking how could I get them and also how I could not lose this collection in future.

Yep, what better than Google drive?  I installed Google drive on my desktop and shared few folders on the drive with my cousin virtually. He was then able to upload the songs into my  Google Drive and I was able to sync them automatically without any clicks…I was in awe!!

In short Google Drive had become my  File Repository System. During my work, I had worked with several File managements systems that helped in storing the files, updating and syncing the same to the local machine when needed.  Even if the developer's hard disk crashed he or she did not have to worry as there was a backup of these files in the File management systems.

Little did I know then, that in the next few days I was also going to have such kind of repository for managing my personal files.

It is nice to see that Google is offering 15GB of free space for now. It should be enough for personal use I guess, but about the security I guess it is always vulnerable :(, no matter how secure we are.

My admiration s do not end here. 

I am sure there are lot many users who are well aware of Google drive's benefits and actively use it. It might sound funny if I quote the following as a coincidence.

Just last week I was busy populating my drive with mp3s and  today I stumble on another article in the newspaper on drive tunes - a player for the songs stored in Google drive.

No matter where we are if we have just a internet connection and  have good list of songs in the drive, we should be able to listen to them simply by logging into

Either I am early or very late in knowing these advancements in the field of  Information Technology.

During my college days, 10 years back, I saw only one face of Google i.e the Giant Search Engine, but today Gmail, Picasa, Blogger, Google  Ad sense, Google maps, Google +, Google drive and the list goes on.

What more next?? I am still wondering!!

But for now, my heartfelt thanks and kudos to Google and Teams for developing and providing  us with such commendable services and tools.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Internet!!

Internet – the network of networks has become so ubiquitous that most of us are wired to it all the time. Millions of people around the globe use internet for anything and everything like chatting with a friend, sharing pictures with the dear ones, working in a collaborative environment, banking, shopping and even robbing J.  It is amazing to see that in a short period of time internet has evolved with has evolved with its wide range of offering.  However did you know how does this huge network of networks communicate and are able to exchange information with each other?  What’s the backbone of this magical network?

If you did not know, don’t worry, I hope by the end of this post you would definitely get to know at least the basics of how this magical network works.

TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol /Internet Protocol) architecture lays the backbone of internet.  So what is this TCP/IP?

TCP /IP is a suite of communication protocols that help the computers on the internet to network and communicate with each other. It is layered architecture starting with the Link layer (aka physical layer), then to the Internetwork layer, Transport Layer and ending up with the Application Layer, with each layer servicing the layer above.

Theoretically this sounds easy, but how does this conceptually work?  While I was thinking on how to explain this I saw a baggage advertisement on TV, and then it struck to me that even the baggage that we checkin during a flight journey, also runs through a small network of baggage and is delivered safely to us at the destination airport. Have we ever seen how the bag we check in arrives right at the other end? Similarly we simply checkin our request via home network and then end up back with the right information at our desk. How does this all happen? Magic??

Below I have tried to unlock this magic by doing a comparative study of Baggage Handling System (BHS) and the internet architecture. I hope this example helps us understand in simple terms on how TCP/IP suite functions. Before jumping into the explanation, let’s have some analogies between the Conveyor network and Internet architecture.

Internet (TCP/IP)
Conveyor network (BHS)
Source and Destination address
Internet Protocol address (IP)
Airline Baggage Belt
DSL, Modem
Reliable Transport
Email, Hyper text documents
Loading the plane

When we checkin the bags at the respective airline counter, the airline agent checks our itinerary and prints a tag and attaches to each of the bags.  This tag consists of a unique bar code, the holds the details of the source and destination address.  In the same way once we submit a data onto the internet it is broken into packets (like individual bags) and is labeled with a unique address i.e the Internet Protocol Address for it to traverse to the required destination.

How does the flow of information start?

As we have a airline baggage belt running at the counter, that takes forward the checked in bags, we have the Link layer of the TCP/IP that actually Links one node to the other in the internet and moves packets from one network to the other.  The DSL at home, Wi-Fi at cafes, Ethernet etc. forms the Link layer.
Thereon the individual airline bags get merged into the common Conveyor network which transports number of bags from various other airlines to the respective airplanes, in a way similar to our data gets pushed into the internet to make its way to the destination.

The conveyor belt system at various junctions has got some agents called the PUSHERS that scan the bags, checks the barcode, and routes the bags to the right belt of respective airline. Similarly the network agents called ROUTERS at various nodes of internet inspect the IP address, lift the packets and route them to the right destination in a best effort way. These routers that move the packets onto the right network form the Network layer of TCP/IP and there on as the network is established the packets move further up via the Transport layer just like the bags move on the right track in the conveyor network.

As the bags move they pass through a set of scanners and once the baggage are scanned the BHS tracks its movement providing a reliable transport. Similarly the Transmission control protocol at the transport layer monitors + co-ordinates the movement of packets and assures a reliable delivery.

End of the Main Terminal conveyor system is a conveyor that loads your bag into a passing (Destination Coded Vehicle) DCV which quickly moves your bags to an off-ramp at the gate. Like Network interface adapters, DSLs, these DCVs are something similar to the link layer technologies, connecting 2 end points, and take the baggage from the conveyor belt system to the plane. These DCVs contain unique number just like the Media access addresses of linkers to identify themselves on the internet.

The bags delivered at the gate could be compared to the data that we receive as data input to the application layer. The bags then make their way down a short conveyor to a sorting station where the baggage handlers load the bags onto carts or into special containers that go right into the airplane.

While loading the plane, the baggage are sorted at the sorting station( as per their need/application) and those that are for transfer are passed into a different bay area than those that would be headed to baggage claim. Similarly the data we receive at the application layer are either presented as a web page via the Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP) or as an email via Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), or as a file via the File Transfer Protocol (FTP). All these protocols HTTP, FTP, SMTP and many such forms the application layer.

Since the bags already come sorted, they then get offloaded into their respective baggage claim belts at the destination and arrive to us safely.

Most of the times all the bags are delivered safely at the destination (if the BHS uses stronger reliability standards like TCP), however if the BHS standards are unreliable like the Internet Protocol (IP) then there are chances that few bags/packets are missed during the transport.

A short summary of the above process has been represented below pictorially.  I hope now you have got at least a little knowledge on the underlying network technology of the internet and how it functions. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Winter Giggle or Highness of the winter…

I do not know whether to title this post a Winter Giggle or the Highness of the winter JJ. ..guess below incident might unravel the dilemma behind...

Going by the routine, I was at balcony drying my clothes when I caught on a chat with my neighbor staying at the ground floor. She was feeding her kid at the same time enjoying some lucky sunlight for the day. There were many clothes dried on a rope at the house beside this neighbor. The two neighbors at the ground floor shared a common wall.

The neighbor with whom I was on a chat criticized to me saying that the clothes at her neighborhood have been lying on the rope for past 2 weeks and she does not know if they are out of station. She even expressed her thought to collect the clothes, fold them and keep inside as unnecessarily they were getting wet owing to the dense fog in the evenings. But she could not get into their house to do so.
I nodded hmm and said what can you do…leave it. Suddenly we saw a maid coming out of the next door neighbor’s house.  When the lady I was chatting with got excited and asked the maid to call her owner ie the lady of the next door house.

Within few minutes the next door lady came out all covered with sweater, scarf  and  smiled. She asked the reason why was she called for. So innocently then the lady at my ground floor told, oh my God, where have you been? The clothes are on the rope for a long time?? I thought you were out of station and even thought of collecting them and keep inside. But I could not.
Embarrassed the next door lady, giggled and said, oh that’s very sweet of you, thanks. But e have not gone anywhere and just stayed indoors as it was very cold outside. Also the clothes were still wet.
Might be the next door lady was too lazy, that she kept postponing the task of taking away the dried clothes every other day…

I imagined then, and smiled within.

What would have happened if this ground floor lady had collected all the clothes and kept inside her house, thinking her neighbor is out of station, Poor lady at the next door would have got shocked to see her clothes disappeared.

Also even if we miss out on our routine work feeling lazy at winters, we might have to face being in an embarrassed situation as been the lady next door….

I also remembered the headlines of the newspaper at that time…that US was shivering with -52 degrees and thought to myself may be this is intensity of winter at my place that we are not even aware if our neighbors are at home or not as the cold winter winds keeps everyone entwined inside the house!