Monthly Archives: May 2016

Buzz about Amazon Echo

There is a lot of buzz about voice assistant now a days like Siri,Amazon echo and many others.  Amazon echo is a speaker which acts as a voice assistant supporting bit of automation in terms of home,weather information,integrating it with IOT (Internet of Things) too.

Basically Amazon echo is available on Amazon to purchase and has many features like :-

  • Plays all your music from Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and more using just your voice
  • Fills the room with immersive, 360º omni-directional audio
  • Allows hands-free convenience with voice-control
  • Hears you from across the room with far-field voice recognition, even while music is playing
  • Answers questions, reads audiobooks and the news, reports traffic and weather, gives info on local businesses, provides sports scores and schedules, and more using the Alexa Voice Service
  • Controls lights, switches, and thermostats with compatible WeMo, Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings, Wink, Insteon, Nest, and ecobee smart home devices
  • Always getting smarter and adding new features and skills–over 900 added since launch, including Domino’s and Uber

Great video explaining about Alexa your voice assistant and Amazon echo. Go and start using it.

There are various alternatives like Apple bringing in Apple TV to compete with Amazon echo.

Feel free for any comments or queries.

-Alok Thaker

Getting started with Arduino

I did covered few topics on Raspberry Pi including IOT, interactive kiosks, home automation, AI etc today would be writing a bit of Arduino which is also a great embedded device can be used with IOT(Internet of Things), home automation etc  It is also an open source software and hardware philosophy having open source community support.

Arduino boards are able to read inputs – light on a sensor, a finger on a button, or a Twitter message – and turn it into an output – activating a motor, turning on an LED, publishing something online. You can tell your board what to do by sending a set of instructions to the microcontroller on the board.

You can use Arduino IDE to build and write programs for the device and more information you can get from

You can always take first step to Arduino by following the beginner guide and if you love electronics h

Feel free for any comments or queries.

-Alok Thaker

VFX & CGI using Linux

When we talk about visual effects in movies i.e VFX refers to anything that is difficult to film in live action  can be achieved using visual effects whereas CGI is computer generated imagery where we use computers to create digital imagery.

So, VFX is a part of CGI, as VFX shot is done compositing a live action footage with a CGI output.

Talking about open source we have great tools for performing VFX and CGI such as Blender ( is highly used for VFX, animations,3D effects etc.  If you want to start using Blender there are tutorials available on

I also liked ( is a modern, open source, physically-based rendering engine designed to produce photorealistic images, animations and visual effects. It provides individuals and small studios with an efficient, reliable suite of tools built on robust foundations and open technologies.

So if you want to start being your own editor of your own short films start now :).

Feel free for any comments or queries.

-Alok Thaker

What is thread dump, heap dump and how to take them with command line & gui tools

While running java processes like jboss,tomcat or any other webapps application at times you feel some crashing issues or any issues related to your java application. So to identify the root cause thread dumps and heap dumps are taken for debugging and troubleshooting.

A thread dump is a dump of all live threads at the instant the thread dump is taken. Thus useful for analyzing execution problems e.g. thread deadlock.It is used when the server is hung ,unresponsive,and we want to see the threads executing and take their dump.

A heap dump is a JVM facility that generates the dump of the state of the Java heap memory or live objects. It is mostly useful for analyzing the memory issues.

There are various tools for taking thread dump & heap dump one of my favorite is Visualvm ( Taking dumps has been so easy with this handy tool. You can refer the howto for taking thread & heap dumps from the following URL below :-

You can take thread dumps & heap dumps using command line with the following command which comes in built with your JDK.

For taking thread dump you can use command  jstack -F pidofjavaprocess > filename

You can get the pid of java process by using the command ps -ef |grep java

For taking heap dumps you can use command jmap -heap:format=b <process-id> this would create .bin file which you can open jvisualvm too.

Please feel free for any comments or queries.

-Alok Thaker