Archive for December, 2009

A semester for a smile…

December 6, 2009

      It was one of those weird ideas of mine, which took shape when I saw this chick (not exactly a chick… a good lookin gal).  Some how wanted to impress her.  Mind you, unlike myself, she was brilliant in academics too. And I thought that, may be a ‘genius’ idea could do the trick. “An idea can change your life”.. 🙂

      Right away came an idea to my tube light..(ya it takes some time. but it does glow..thats the most important thing..it should glow..)

      It was one of those boring classes of the seventh semester ‘computer networks’..remember Tanenbaum??? The huge grantha…yeah the same subject.. Many of the geeks in our class were thinkin abt their 8th sem project…. not me..ofcourse..i had thought of my project idea in 5th semester itself so that it would help me in placements..well….sadly it didnt help me.. 😦

      Ok…coming to the main point..there was a discussion about the 8th sem project…many were suggesting  ideas…even the lecturer was good at giving tips for the project…one of the main domains that came out of the discussion was VOIP..its voice over internet protocol..even i dont know much abt it…but in short it is something like utilizing the existing bandwidth to transmit the voice signals, whereas originally the entire bandwidth was dedicated for the transmission of internet data packets.

      Here comes a brilliant idea, which is brilliant only according to me (In fact it isn’t an idea…it is just a conceptual understanding).

      We’ve all heard about the term ‘reverse engineering’.. Everywhere this term is prevalent, especially during those mechanical fests..the banners about reverse enginnering are visible everywhere.

      So..i was thinking in these lines..isn’t VOIP also reverse engineering. Coz, the Internet revolution started by using the leased telephone lines for transmitting the data. Although a lot of processing happens to make it compliant to be transmitted on telephone lines, the basic idea was to use the existing telephone lines to carry the data packets. This brand new technology i.e. VOIP is also using the same principle in the exactly opposite manner. It uses the existing bandwidth on the Internet traffic carrying lines to carry voice signals. Now tell me….isn’t it reverse engineering.. I don’t know.

      I took this understanding of mine to her and explained hoping she would be impressed at my ‘revolutionary’ thinking with much pomp and pride. When i explained about this to her, she just gave a sarcastic smile. I was hoping that she would be impressed. But this sarcastic smile made me worried. Some how I gathered the courage to approach her again and asked her how was the idea.

      Now is the time that came as a shock to me. She explained the flaws in my basic understanding of the concept itself. She explained that my understanding of utilizing the existing infrastructure for something new could be categorized under system re-usability and not reverse engineering. Reverse engineering is something totally different. Although she had explained what exactly reverse engineering is, but at that time I didn’t understand much.

      In 8th sem, we decided (just decided…no concrete plans) to do a project in VHDL. It is hardware descriptive language- this is a programming language similar to ‘c’, but here you describe how the digital hardware (the end product) should behave and the system will generate that particular hardware for you. I will not go deep into this coz even I don’t know much about how it works. 😦

      As we started to research what model are we going to prepare, one of our group members told that his cousin (1 yr senior) had made a project in a similar language called verilog. So we decided to copy the same. Yeah…most of us are cheeters..very few ‘engineers’ think on their own and do their own project. Then we approached that guy and thankfully he gave us the code generously.

      So now we are ready with everything. The only thing left to us was to convert this Verilog code into a VHDL code. Both languages are completely inter-operable something similar to C# and VB.net. (changes are only with respect to syntax).

      It was when we sat down for code-conversion that we realized that the job was not so easy as we had thought initially. We could not blindly replace the syntaxes of both the languages. It is first required to understand the original code’s functionality, only then could we do the conversion. So, now it was up to us that we understand the system’s working and then convert it to a different language. This was quite a painful task, but somehow managed to complete it on time :). Later the final project submission went well and I finally became an ‘engineer’ after 4 long yrs of struggle.

      Every story has to have a happy ending..rite?. So… in came the graduation day, where I met her for one last time. We did have a fairly long conversation. And it was during this conversation that I explained her about how we managed to complete our project. Now, I was in for a shock. She re-opened the reverse engineering topic and told that whatever we did in our project (specifically- understanding the system from a well written code) is a good example of reverse engineering. Even while I was in a shock that she still remembers our discussion, she gave an impressed smile (earlier she had given a sarcastic smile).

      Now I was completely satisfied. The thing that I tried a semester ago, gave results now..that too after college got over. You may ask me what exactly did I achieve. Remember, in the beginning I have mentioned that I just wanted to impress her and I think that smile told the entire story..