Home Networking and Digital Camcorder

I need some advice/suggestions on two matters.

I have Verizon DSL at home. It uses PPPoE. We have 2 desktop computers and one laptop. I am thinking of connecting them in a network so that files can be shared and we can also access the internet through any machine. I am not sure whether to get a wired router or a wireless one. A wired solution is cheaper and faster. Plus we live in a 1-bedroom apartment and I have a really long cable. On the other hand, wireless would give some freedom in moving the laptop around and would be useful later when we move to a bigger apartment after the baby. But I’ll have to buy wireless adapters for the desktops as well.

What would you suggest? Plus any router/adapter recommendations? Do you know of any quirks of Verizon DSL with home networking?

Does anyone know of a good and extensive review website for digital camcorders? Something like Phil Askey’s Digital Photography Review. Also welcome are camcorder recommendations. I am looking for something nice and high tech, but not professional.

UPDATE I: My bad. As Patrick Nielsen Hayden and Zhang Fei point out in the comments, a wireless router has a few ethernet connections as well and hence for faster transfer of data between my computers I can connect them via ethernet instead of Wi-Fi. It also turns out that 802.11b wireless routers are going for about the same price as wired routers nowadays. I looked at Linksys BEFW11S4 Wireless-B Cable/DSL Router and Netgear MR814 802.11b Wireless 4-Port Cable/DSL Router and bought the Linksys.

UPDATE II: The immediate idea for a camcorder came because of the baby. So the most likely use is taking videos of our baby, but family events, outdoor/wilderness trips etc. will also be among its uses.

In terms of specifications, at least a 10x optical zoom, a megapixel video capability, image stabilization, external mic capability, low light capability and IEEE1394 and USB connections are among things I would like.

Here are some camcorders I am looking at: Sony DCR-HC85, Sony DCR-P330, Sony DCR-TRV80, Sony DCR-TRV950, and Panasonic PV-DV953. Please suggest any other models that you like or comment on any of these.

What’s in a Name II

In my previous post thinking about a name for our baby, I mentioned a website for Muslim names.

Now, what exactly is a Muslim name? Let’s take a look at a few websites listing Muslim names. Most of the names on these sites are Arabic names with some Persian and a few Turkish names as well.

This seems like the general naming pattern in Pakistan where Arabic and Persian names are quite common.

However, why should we restrict Muslim status to Arabic, Persian or Turkish names? One website seems to be even more restrictive, prohibiting even Persian and Turkish names as “foreign.” Why are Persian or Arabic names Muslim while Indonesian (which is the largest Muslim country) ones are not considered Islamic by some Muslims? What about Berber names? Or African ones?

Why should we consider Arabic names Islamic? After all, Arabs of all religions share those names. Arabic names have spread over wherever Arabs ruled as well as in other Muslim lands, but one can still not tell a Muslim or Christian Arab apart by their given name in general. An example of the cultural and ethnic origins of names is that Pejman Yousefzadeh’s grandfather was named Abdollah. Pejman’s family is from Iran and he’s Jewish, but his paternal grandfather’s name is Arabic and means “Allah’s slave.”

I think names follow culture, language and ethnicity. A few names are based on religious figures and hence could be said to belong to a religion, but most are not.

Consider Biblical names. Quite a few Biblical names are common among Jews, Christians and Muslims. Yochanan, Ioannes, Johannes, John, Jean and Yahya are different versions of the same name in different languages. Why should we consider Yahya, the Arabic version, as the only Muslim one of this list?

Let’s look at the practice of the Prophet Muhammad in this matter. There is no record of him renaming people who accepted Islam to distinguish them from pagans, Christians or Jews. The only examples I know of where Muhammad changed someone’s name was either because the name was derogatory or was of the form “slave of X.” Here is what Muslim Baby Names says on the topic:

The name must be meaningful. “You will be called by your name on the day of judgment” this is another reason why it is important to chose a name with good meaning. The prophet was very particular about it and he always changed names that were derogatory. An example is that he changed Aasiyah (disobedient) into Jameelah (beautiful).

A child must not be given the name of Allah unless it is compounded with Allah. According to a Hadith the worst of men on the day of judgement will be one who is called Shahinshah. only Allah Ta’ala is king of kings or Shahinshah; Kingdom belongs to him alone

Further parents must make sure that the names they select signify servitude to Allah alone and to no one else. They must not append bondage even to the name Nabi. Names that reflect love or romance must not be used either. The Prophet has suggested names of the Prophets or Abdullah and Abdur Rahman. He has said,

“Keep the names of the noble Prophets, Allah loves most the names Abdullah and Abdur Rahman. The most truthful names are Harith and Humam, while the most disliked are Harb and Murrah (war and bitter).”

I am always surprised at Muslim converts who change their names at the time of their conversion. I see no need for it.

Next: The struggle for last names.

Pakistan: Whither Democracy?

Via Chapati Mystery, I find out that Patrick Belton of Oxblog has written a 3-part series on Pakistan and democracy at Winds of Change. It’s definitely an interesting backgrounder for people who want to know more about Pakistani politics.

Chapati Mystery adds his own thoughts on the topic.

I have a few quibbles and additions to what they say but that’ll have to wait for later.

Hobson’s Choice also had a good post about Musharraf and Pakistan recently. He introduced me to the junker (German word) class.

And Chapati Mystery, who I have added to my blogroll, seems like a great blog. I like the blog name very much and there are quite a few great posts in the short time sepoy has been posting.

Fourier Transform Song

Now, you can enjoy music and learn signal processing concepts at the same time.

Here are the lyrics to the song Table 4.1: Properties of the Fourier Transform.

Integrate your function times a complex exponential
It’s really not so hard you can do it with your pencil
And when you’re done with this calculation
You’ve got a brand new function – the Fourier Transformation
What a prism does to sunlight, what the ear does to sound
Fourier does to signals, it’s the coolest trick around
Now filtering is easy, you don’t need to convolve
All you do is multiply in order to solve.

From time into frequency – from frequency to time

Every operation in the time domain
Has a Fourier analog – that’s what I claim
Think of a delay, a simple shift in time
It becomes a phase rotation – now that’s truly sublime!
And to differentiate, here’s a simple trick
Just multiply by J omega, ain’t that slick?
Integration is the inverse, what you gonna do?
Divide instead of multiply – you can do it too.

From time into frequency – from frequency to time

Let’s do some examples… consider a sine
It’s mapped to a delta, in frequency – not time
Now take that same delta as a function of time
Mapped into frequency – of course – it’s a sine!

Sine x on x is handy, let’s call it a sinc.
Its Fourier Transform is simpler than you think.
You get a pulse that’s shaped just like a top hat…
Squeeze the pulse thin, and the sinc grows fat.
Or make the pulse wide, and the sinc grows dense,
The uncertainty principle is just common sense.

Dr. Time and Brother Fre wrote the lyrics for this song.

Brother Fre(quency), or Prof. William A. Sethares as he’s more commonly known, has even sung Klingon songs.


A year after President Bush declared major combat operations over in Iraq, the war in Iraq has finally ended. In case you don’t know, the US lost.

Also over is my brief and very skeptical love affair with Sharon. If Likud voters want Greater Israel, they’ll not only get it, they’ll live to regret it.

While on the topic of Abu Ghraib, does anyone know of any soldiers of any country punished severely (i.e., long prison term or capital punishment etc.) for war crimes against the enemy by their own military? As Diana Moon points out, Lt.Calley of My Lai does not count since he served only 3.5 years in house arrest and was pardoned by Nixon. I am looking for soldiers who actually served their sentences.