Mac4Lin in Linux for You, June 2008  

Posted by Anirudh Acharya in , ,







As part of the series of articles on winning projects at FOSS India Awards 2008, Linux for You magazine published about Mac4Lin in their June 2008 issue. An excerpt:

The project kicked off when Anirudh Acharya, a young open source enthusiast from Bangalore, taught himself GTK+ and decided to bring the Mac touch to the FOSS world. "A consistent, beautiful and tightly-integrated user interface is what Mac4Lin is all about", explains Acharya.... A one man army, Acharya continues to put in efforts to enhance Mac4Lin and make it compatible with other desktop systems....."

The scanned article has been uploaded here. It consists of a 4.6MB .zip file with 2 image files corresponding to the 2 pages (LFY, June 2008 Page 43 and 44) in the magazine.

I know its a bit late to post this news.. but oh well considering the fact that till now I have neither received the Award Certificate nor the Cheque my delay in posting about this in my blog is justifiable.

Petro-fuels in Karnataka  

Posted by Anirudh Acharya in


Its a well known fact that Karnataka Government slaps the highest taxes compared to any other state/UT on petroleum based fuels. Thats the reason why the people in Karnataka pay the highest for a litre of petrol/diesel throughout India.

News that would bring some relief to consumers, at least for the time being: Karnataka government slashes sales tax on petroleum based fuels!

Yes, thats right! The Karnataka government reduced sales tax by 3 pc on petrol and 2 pc on diesel. It has also reduced value added tax (VAT) on domestic liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) from 4 pc to 1 pc. As a result of the reduction in tax on petrol from 28 to 25 pc, retail price of the fuel in Bangalore will be Rs.57.15 per litre as against Rs.58.89 and that of diesel will be Rs.39.15 per litre as against Rs.39.80 after the reduction of tax from 20 pc to 18 pc. The price of LPG has been reduced to Rs.348.08 from Rs.358.42.

Time to cheer?? Its just the beginning of the BJP-led Govt. Will this tax relief hold good for long.. or is it just a political gimmick played by UPA at the center and BJP at the state level???

MS in the US, a guide : Part TWO  

Posted by Anirudh Acharya in , , ,



Note: ETS, GRE and TOEFL and their respective logos are registered trademarks of Educational Testing Service.

Here is the second part in the series.

2) Reporting scores and applying to universities

The next part deals with the tasks to be completed just after the exams while the results are awaited. If you've still not selected Universities to apply to then this is the correct time! Research about various universities, the programs offered, the labs, the Professors, their locations etc. and short list some. Usually students apply to an average of 6 universities.

In case you are not satisfied with the results, this is the correct time to register and give the exams again since you'll still have time to report the scores (assuming the tests were taking in the month of September or January as suggested earlier). TOEFL can be taken only once in a week and GRE once per month. Some universities will take the latest GRE/TOEFL scores while some will take the average. Its upto the Universities' discretion to interpret your scores.

If you've already selected the universities, sent scores to them during your GRE and TOEFL and don't want to send to additional ones then skip the next two paragraphs. Now comes the task of reporting your scores to the choosen universites if youv've not already done so or want to report your score to additional universities. The scores must be sent by ETS ONLY. ETS charges $15 USD and $17 USD per score receipiant plus $6 USD service charge if ordered through phone for GRE and TOEFL respectively. You can logon to the GRE/TOEFL/Universities' website and get the codes of the university and relevant department. With this information in hand you can apply to ETS for sending your scores to those universities' departments. The fastest way is by calling them. Other modes are by mail or fax. Head to this page for more information: GRE Additional Score Reports

To order additional TOEFL score reports, login to your TOEFL iBT profile and follow the link to "Order Additional Score Reports". Online ordering is the fastest way amongst all. Bear in mind that the University code will the be the same while the department code will be different for TOEFL; so make sure you are having the correct codes before applying. More information here: TOEFL Additional Score Reports

Allow about a month for the Univeristy/Dept. to receive your scores. Till then there are other tasks to be done. With every online application the student needs to submit his Statement of Purpose (SoP) and ask his teachers/employers to submit Letter of Recommendation (LoR) for you to the university. Generally most of the universities require 3 LoRs. A recommended combination is 2 LoRs by your teachers and 1 from your employer (if employed) or all 3 by your teachers if not working. The statement of purpose is more like your personal essay, highlighting why do you think the University should admit you, why you are the right candidate, your strengths etc. You can find SoP samples on the internet. Ask your recommenders to submit the LoR online, if your University provides that option. Thats preferred to conventional prints. If the option doesn't exist then get the LoR from them on the letterheads and ask them to seal the LoR in an envelope and put their signature across the flap. Do NOT tamper!

With these things in hand you are now ready to apply to universities. Start registering at the universities you intend to apply for and start filling up the form. You needn't do it in one sitting. So take your time and fill in all the details correctly. You would need a Credit Card to pay for the application fees. Tho there is an offline method but this is the fastest. After you fill in everything and check, its time to submit the application. In addition to submitting the application online you must send them the supporting documents (marksheets, transcripts, certificates - degree/provisional etc.). So make sure that the copies are attested and transcripts are sealed and not tampered. Most of the universities have a deadline of earlier than December 15th if applying for Fall term or September 1st for Spring. Check it up with each university as it may differ and be much earlier. Some universities may have 2 deadlines; one to submit the online application and one to send in the supporting documents.

After these tasks are completed, its time to relax! Take a break and enjoy for sometime... for there's a lot to be done after you get admission!

continued...

If you are reading this post you may be interested in the following posts too:

MS in the US, a guide: Part ONE - Exams - GRE and TOEFL
MS in the US, a guide: Part TWO - Reporting scores and applying to universities
MS in the US, a guide: Part THREE - Post admit work to be completed
MS in the US, a guide: Part FOUR - Applying for a VISA
MS in the US, a guide: Part FIVE - Booking your tickets and packing your bags
MS in the US, a guide: Part SIX - Traveling to the US and initial days of stay
NCSU Specific Information

VISA... its finally done!  

Posted by Anirudh Acharya in


I finally got my VISA! The interview at US Consulate in Chennai lasted for just about a minute. End of the day I was a happy guy :)

Also got my tickets booked. Leaving on 4th August, 2008.

MS in USA, A Guide : Part ONE  

Posted by Anirudh Acharya in , , ,


A lot of people around me have been asking about "A-to-Z details" with regards to pursuing an MS degree in the US. For the benefit of all I've been wanting to write this guide since long... guess the time has finally come to pen it!

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed here are solely of an individual and are not in any way associated with any University or person. Readers should not take all the scores mentioned in this guide as a definitive cut off mark. Getting an acceptance or reject from a University is dependent on various other factors and is determined by the University authorities; it is hence unpredictable. This guide assumes that the aspirant is pursuing a 4 year Bachelor's degree. MS in the US requires the aspirant to have completed 16 years of formal education. This disclaimer applies to all the parts of this guide.

Steps:
1) Exams - GRE and TOEFL
2) Reporting scores and applying to universities
3) Post admit work to be completed
4) Applying for a VISA
5) Booking your tickets and packing your bags

These points would be covered in parts.

1) Exams - GRE and TOEFL

I'll come straight to the point and start with the first step to MS in the US. Just as we haf entrance exams here you need to appear for a similar exam to pursue MS. These exams are conducted by a organization called Educational Testing Services, ETS for short (www.ets.org). The exams one needs to appear are the Graduate Record Examination - General (GRE - General) and Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The newest version of TOEFL is called Internet Based Test and is abbreviated as TOEFL iBT.

Registrations for both the exams can be done at ETS' website - www.ets.org The examination fee is to be paid through Credit Card. Tho there are other methods to register for these exams, the online version is the most preferred way. The test fee for GRE is $170 USD (as on today) and for TOEFL iBT is $165 USD (as on today). You would need sufficient preparation for the tests, especially for GRE (verbal section). Hence book the exam dates wisely. It is always better to haf your TOEFL iBT exam after your GRE (explained later), preferably with a gap of about a week.

The GRE has 3 sections - Quantitative (Quant.), Verbal (Verb.) and Analytical Writing (AWA). The Quant. section is predominantly a test of aptitude with max. marks of 800, the Verbal is more like your vocabulary test with max. marks of 800 and the Analytical Writing tests your ability to write thesis with a max. marks of 6.0. A decent score in each test for a Science and Technology aspirant student would be 730+, 530+, 4.0+ respectively. The questions and time breakup is as shown:

Analytical Writing 1 Issue Task* 45 minutes
Analytical Writing 1 Argument Task* 30 minutes
Verbal 30 Questions 30 minutes
Quantitative 28 Questions 45 minutes
Unscored** Varies Varies
Research*** Varies Varies

* For the Issue task, two essay topics are presented and you choose one. The Argument task does not present a choice of topics; instead one topic is presented.
** An unidentified unscored section may be included and may appear in any order after the Analytical Writing section. It is not counted as part of your score.
*** An identified research section that is not scored may be included, and it is always at the end of the test.

TOEFL iBT has 4 sections:
Reading (max. marks 30), Listening (max. marks 30), Speaking (max. marks 30) and Writing (max. marks 30); totalling to 120 marks. The breakup is given below:

Reading 3-5 passages 60-100 minutes 36-70 questions
Listening 4-6 lectures 60-90 minutes 34-51 questions
Break 10 minutes
Speaking 2 categories 20 minutes 6 tasks
Writing 2 categories 50 minutes 2 tasks

GRE and TOEFL preparation material is available online. You could also join preparatory classes conducted by organizations like Kaplan, The Princeton Review etc. Its always good to start preparing early for GRE as it takes time to build up your vocabulary which is very important in the Verb. section.

The best time to appear for the exams is given below:

1) If applying for MS in Fall session (in August):
GRE - Mid September
TOEFL - A week after GRE

2) If applying for MS in Spring session (January/February):
GRE - Mid February
TOEFL - A week after GRE

The reason being it takes almost about a month for the official results and your scores to be announced and sent to Universities. Your GRE score (Quant. and Verb.) would be shown to you at the end of the test. After you've taken your GRE exam you would be required to report your scores to the Universities you intend to apply to. This has to be done thru ETS only and you need to pay ETS a fee to do that. It, however, gives you the option of sending your scores to 4 Universities for free, just after you finish your GRE at the testing center. Hence, its always a good idea to make a list of Universities for a range of GRE scores before hand. A sample:

GRE Score (Quant. + Verb.): Universities to apply to:
1200-1300 A, B, C, D...
1300-1400 E, F, G, H...
and so on...

Depending on your GRE score you can select to send it to the Names and Depts. of Universities you intend to apply to. Now comes the reason why its better to take TOEFL after GRE. Unlike GRE, for TOEFL you need to provide the list of Universities to whom the score should be sent to (for free) before you take up the test. This list can be modified till one day prior to your test by loggin into your TOEFL profile. Your TOEFL scores are put up on your login id approx. 20 dayz after your test. If you make a list of Universities and the score range beforehand you can save almost about $200 USD, which you'd otherwise spend on reporting your scores to Universities later. The list of Universities is important as each University is ranked differently according to the department. Hence, do a thorough research about the University and its offered programs.. whether it suits you, the fees, the living expenses (depending on how big the city is) etc. This is also a very important aspect.

After you are done with your GRE and TOEFL you haf about a month to relax. If you've goofed up in the University list then this is the time to select the correct universities you intend to apply to. Make use of this one month time.

continued....

If you are reading this post you may be interested in the following posts too:

MS in the US, a guide: Part ONE - Exams - GRE and TOEFL
MS in the US, a guide: Part TWO - Reporting scores and applying to universities
MS in the US, a guide: Part THREE - Post admit work to be completed
MS in the US, a guide: Part FOUR - Applying for a VISA
MS in the US, a guide: Part FIVE - Booking your tickets and packing your bags
MS in the US, a guide: Part SIX - Traveling to the US and initial days of stay
NCSU Specific Information