Sunday, June 28, 2009

Some observations about Ahmedabad

Before coming to Ahmedabad, I thought that traffic in Kanpur was the worst possible anywhere in the world. But welcome to Ahmedabad! And you see no rules followed at the crossroads. People cross from all sides at the same time. It is really a wonder to see people still managing to drive along without any damage.

But there was another great difference that I saw. The police stations of Ahmedabad when compared to UP ones made the UP ones look like Dhabas being compared to 5 star hotels. So that was a nice relief. Although, I must confess, I have no clue as to the efficiency of the police.

Monday, June 22, 2009

IIM Ahmedabad

Yes! I finally reached IIM Ahmedabad yesterday - all safe and sound. Quite a feat! :-)

The luggage also reached safely, barring the tear on the big suitcase. The stuff was all intact though. The story of how the suitcase got damaged merits telling over here. I flew into Delhi from Lucknow on a JetLite flight. I had a connecting SpiceJet flight to Ahmedabad 3 hours later. SpiceJet flies from a differnt terminal than JetLite. So fair enough, I was asked to move out of the terminal 1C (JetLite one) and proceed with the luggage on the trolley to 1D (SpiceJet terminal). Now the funny part happens - when I am about to enter 1D, the airport staff asks me to change trolleys. They say that trolley from terminal 1C cannot go into 1D. Then they proceed to pick up my stuff from the trolley and damage it in the process. Not in the mood to create a great furore, I create a minor show, ensuring that a airport staff accompanies me to the check-in counter and gets my luggage checked in properly. But, the important thing over here is, why the heck does one need to change trolleys?

Coming back to the main focus of the post - IIM Ahmedabad. Coming from IIT Kanpur campus, which I should say is a little too lavish to be an educational institute, the campus seemed smaller and was a tad bit disappointing. I would definitely miss the awesome canteens and the incredible infrastructure of Kanpur campus. On the other hand, as people pointed out, IIM Ahmedabad seems to be a more functionally effecient campus with all essentials in place and running smoothly. The rooms in the old campus are 'old'. :-) New campus rooms are much better. But, life is on old campus. So overall, I am not really disappointed to be on old campus. Don't know what would I be thinking while running for my classes to the new campus in the morning. To add to my early morning woes, I have alloted the dorm which is euphemismatically called 'Living on the edge'. This issue seems to follow me from Kanpur where my department and my hostel were on the diametrically opposite ends of the institute.

Ask me to sum up the feeling in a line. It's IIM Ahmedabad!!! Top people from all over India are here. The undisputed leader. So it's good. What's lacking? Obviously, it's not Harvard, Wharton or Stanford.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Thoughts at an airport

Here I am sitting at the New Delhi IGI Airport waiting for my flight for Ahmedabad. First of all, this marks the important point in my life where I am done with all work at IIT Kanpur and am proceeding to IIM Ahmedabad. Quite a feat! :-) Secondly, this feel of an airport reminds me of the world tour that I made after my third year. I travelled extensively at that time and infact completed almost one and a half trips round the globe.

Does the post seem incomplete? I am not feeling inclined to write any more. So adios.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dhoni's Strategy

Looking at people shouting for Dhoni's blood, I decided to write this post. I know, I know - this would not make much of a difference. Yet, I would write it anyways.

At the outset, I would agree that Dhoni has been into a lot of ads and has been earning a lot of money off the field. But should we be after his blood for that? You would say that his on-field performance has not been up to the mark. May be yes, may be no.

I just have the last England match for evidence as I had just watched that one. Let me still go ahead and look at the Indian Innings for you. When Dhoni came into bat, he batted real sensibly. He asked the batsman at the other to go for the big shots and kept himself for the last over. I agree that the ploy did not play off and India lost. But for another four somewhere and India would have won. The same people who are baying for Dhoni's blood today would have been all gaga over him. It is still the same Dhoni and he is still doing the best he can. It is just that for people effort does not matter and all that matters is the result.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Campus

It really pains when you begin to realize these are the few last days in the campus that you have called home for the last 5 years. When I came in, I was a kid and today when I am about to leave, probably I am still a kid. But still, there is a lot of difference in my attitude towards life. I have met some of the most amazing people and made great friends. I know this post sounds really cliched with everyone echoing similar emotions while leaving their college but then this is so true. Moreover, having spent 5 years here, almost everyone knows you. From the auto-wallahs to the travel agent in the Shopping Center from whom I have never bought a single ticket. Now I have to move to a new place and to try and create all those connections all over again.

There is an interesting thing that I would like to ask all people who have left college or are leaving college. What will you say if you were asked to complete - "I will always remember ... ". I know, this is out of the movie, 'The Girl Next Door', but still, it is an interesting exercise to do.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

If to do were as to know what were good to do

If to do were as easy as to know what were good to
do, chapels had been churches and poor men's
cottages princes' palaces. It is a good divine that
follows his own instructions: I can easier teach
twenty what were good to be done, than be one of the
twenty to follow mine own teaching. The brain may
devise laws for the blood, but a hot temper leaps
o'er a cold decree: such a hare is madness the
youth, to skip o'er the meshes of good counsel the
cripple.

These are the words of Portia in the play "Merchant of Venice" by Shakespeare. I had read them when I was in class 10th and was suddenly reminded of them today. How true are they!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Nostalgia - is it?

Here I am - thinking what should I be posting here. Since I don't really know what I am going to be writing this is going to be an arbit post. These are the last couple of days with my wingmates in the hostels of IIT Kanpur. And the emotions are weird - would not call it nostalgia. As Nitin put it, may be last year, when most of our batchmates left, we were nostalgic. This time around - when we are finally leaving - the emotion is some kind of indifference. Probably its the communication revolution that makes us believe that people are going to be close to you no matter where they physically are. Personally for me, the emotion is weird because I have spent the last couple of months in the lab working and now suddenly I am spending a lot of time in the hostel. But anyways, I am sure that later on in life I am going to look back and look fondly on these days.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Naked Truth..

This was a post that I had intended to post quite some time back but had saved it in drafts and forgotten about it. Looking through the posts today, I realized that I had missed out on this. Here it is.

------


I came across an awesome poem at Niki's blog that put into words feelings that I have felt at a lot of times. The original post can be accessed at: http://invincibleniki.blogspot.com/2008/12/naked-truth.html. I am also putting up the post over here.



Naked Truth..

There's one sad truth in life I've found
While journeying east and west
The only folks we really wound
Are those we love the best.
We flatter those we scarcely know
We please the fleeting guest
And deal full many a thoughtless blow
To those who love us best.

The come back post

Its been quite a while since I posted on this blog. Looking at the previous posts, I am reminded that I left the readers with a feeling of incompleteness by not posting the outcomes of discussed events. As for the festival controversy, the name has been retained as Techkriti and the tag-line has been changed to include entrepreneurship as well. A very wise thing to do. As for Galaxy, the structures contest was won by Hall 2 - I don't know how. Without any biases, the structure put up by Hall 3 was far better and complete. The good news (with biases :-) ) is that Hall 3 is Galaxy winner once again. So the anthem remains, Galaxy Winner Hall 3.

With the reader informed about the previously discussed events, let us talk about the last one and a half months. This has been a really different one and a half months for me. For once, I have really worked my arse off - barely checking mail or orkut or facebook or even answering the phone. This was the first phase in my life where I was so focused to achieve something. That explains the absence from the blog. Though that phase of hard work is not really over but still I would try to blog occasionally.

The coming one month is the last month of my IIT Kanpur days. After that I move on to a new phase in life. I am not sure what that is going to be but I am sure that it is going to AWESOME. :-) Barney Stinson from the sitcom - 'How I Met Your Mother' has sure influenced me.

In case, you are wondering why I am ranting about so many different topics - guys, this is my blog. I am free to talk about whatever I want to. Anyways, I stop here and would be back soon.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Structures Contest @ Galaxy

For the uninitiated, Galaxy is the Intra-IIT Kanpur cultural festival. The event used to happen on a mega scale till about seven years back when the intense rivalry between hostels, resulting in ugly fights, became its nemesis. This year the event is being revived on quite a large scale. Even though the competitive spirit is not as strong as the folklore about the olden times tells us, still I would say that the spirit is quite high.

One particular competition that has the most stories attached to it and used to be the most competitive is the structures event. This year again the competition is back and looking at the work going on today for the structures I could feel the intense competition.

The Hall 5 team was building a mammoth Trojan Horse and took almost 6 - 7 hours to transport the structure from the hall to the auditorium grounds, a distance of less than a kilometre. This should give you an idea of the effort that people are putting in for the competition. The structure was shifted by human power involving only the students and nowhere any wheels were being used for the transport. I was reminded of the stories telling us of students who walked upside down even at the peril of their eyes becoming all red with blood. I also realised that this is the event that tests the true engineering skills and sheer human spirit.

Now the teams have till tomorrow evening to assemble their structures and put everything into place. A twist in the tale was brought by the late night rains. Lets see how teams protect their structures and if they were prepared for this eventuality. This is one competition that promises to go down to the wire.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The festival controversy

Once upon a time in a land far away called IIT Kanpur there used to be two festivals. Actually the institute celebrated quite a few of these festivals but these two were the special ones in the sense that they were chosen to be clubbed, becoming a part of a controversy threatening to become a Kashmir-like issue.

Let's come to the point. IIT Kanpur is planning to club its Science and Technology Festival, Techkriti and the Business and Entrepreneurship Festival, Megabucks. This is being done because it is felt that the students are spending way too much time in the organization of these festivals and hence their number needs to be reduced. So far so good. Though I do not understand the logic behind the combination of Technology and Business Fests - come on guys, don't tell me that Kharagpur clubbed what-ever and what-ever to create Kshitij. Do you need to emulate the wrong doings of others?

Even if we go ahead with the merger, the next issue that arises is of the name. What should we name the festival - should it be Techkriti or Megabucks or something very different from either of these two names? The honorable Students' Senate at IIT Kanpur went ahead and decided that the new name should be completely different from either of these. If we can't maintain the brand value of both the fests, do we need to lose both of them? We can keep the brand which has more value and is older. When we create a new name, we are starting from absolutely new grounds. Companies and students do look for the brand name of the festival and only IIT Kanpur is not enough. When you talk to companies they talk about Techfest and Kshitij and don't only refer to them by Bombay and Kharagpur.

Some people talked about a new name for the festival so that the departments of Humanities and Management do not feel left out. I give it to you guys. Don't you realize that ultimately we are a Technology institute. Even a split of the numbers would tell you - be it students or faculty or courses. So let's not lose focus. Techkriti has been our mainstay festival and we cannot afford to lose it. Consider the situation when someone asks to change the name of the Cultural Fest, Antaragni because literary events from Alfaaz and movie related Umang events are being conducted in Antaragni. Won't it be hilarious? Similarly it is very very foolish to change the name of Techkriti.

In fact, Megabucks initially started out as a part of Techkriti. Moreover, if we look at the meaning of 'Techkriti', it very well conveys the theme of the new festival as well. 'Tech'-Technology and 'kriti' for creativity, innovation and spirit of creation. This is exactly what we are trying to do in the new festival.

Another interesting aspect to consider is the Golden Jubilee celebrations of IIT Kanpur. In this year when we should be consolidating on our existing festivals and in fact go on to hold them with great pomp and show, we would be scrapping two existing festivals to create one new entity which has never been heard of before. What do I say? Should I even say something?

I can still go on ranting about it. But what's the point. The people in power are like the politicians of the country - taking their own decisions and conviniently ignoring the opinion of the people. In fact, there was a mail sent out in this regard by the President of the Students' Gymkhana which smelt of anger against a particular group of people.

The worst part is that the trouble won't end here. Even if we manage to decide against a name, the actual organization of the festival might turn out to be a battleground. Each side would be trying to get as much space as possible. I would just pray for the festival and hope that God injects some brains into the Students' Senate and help them come up with very clear guidelines for the festival and hope that these guidelines are based on sound logic.

The following part of the post appeared first in the comments. Then I decided to include it in the main post as well.

Talking about the post, Nitin brought about another issue. He said that Techkriti focused not only on technology and science but also on design and other areas promoted by the institute. This was evident by the animation and other design contests organized during the festival.

Another valid point that came up during the discussion was that if the long run was being considered, clubbing entrepreneurship events into Techkriti made more sense and people would come to associate it with the business events as well. If the senate felt that in the longer run people would come to know of the new name, then it would be a much better idea to introduce Megabucks back into Techkriti. In fact, the Bio-Business Plan contest and the Olymbiz could be made a part of Megabucks under Techkriti.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

IITs, IIMs largest source of business leaders

Reading the Economics Times in the morning today, I came across an interesting article. Actually more than interesting, the article boosted my ego. After the initial ego boost, it also provoked thoughts as to what was to become of me in the future. Will I be able to better what was being written in that article? I know, enough of beating about the bush. Let's come straight to the point. The article, in a line, said, "If you are a CEO of one of India’s top 200 companies, there’s a 50/50 chance that you call either IIT or IIM your alma mater, a study by executive search firm, EMA Partners International, shows.". The whole article can be read at http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/4290530.cms

As an after-thought, one really needs to see what was the basis of this write-up. Generally, all such articles have very little scientific basis. Anyways, even crap can make you feel good about yourself.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Big Bang Theory

The show is awesome to say the least. With every episode I become a bigger and bigger fan of the comedy. Can't really pin point it to one particular thing. I think the whole setup is awesome. The sexy-dumb blonde Penny, the overly intelligent yet stupid Sheldon, the lost in between Lenard, the Jew (have no words or adjectives to describe him) Howard and finally the girl-shy Indian Raj all add to the charisma of the show. I could also attribute my fascination to the fact that I see a bit of me in all the male characters. :P

Watch the show guys! Its totally worth it.

Wear Sunscreen

I saw this video in somebody's gtalk status message and really liked it. Listen to it here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=IN&hl=en-GB&v=xfq_A8nXMsQ This is a nice motivational video. I really believe in a lot of things that this song says. Here are the lyrics:

Ladies and gentlemen of the class of '99:

Wear sunscreen! If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.

Sing.

Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Floss.

Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters.

Throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch.

Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.

Get plenty of calcium.

Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines they will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good.

Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you whenyou were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.

Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.


The song is really awesome and there are many parts which I simply love. In fact, the more I look over the lyrics the more I realize that I actually love the whole song. Sink into it guys.

General Musharraf in a tight spot

Many things have been going around me and I have been thinking of posting a lot of stuff. But somehow I get caught up in one thing or the other and I end up posting nothing.

First of all look at this video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kP9JCusfje0
This shows an Indian Muslim asking questions to General Musharraf. Take a look at this yourself.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Interview Experience - 4

From the west we move to the far east. This time the interview was not all that feel good as on earlier occasions. Anyways, since I have this blogging bug these days so I will go on to post this one too. In fact, there were 2 separate interviews and the second one was awesome so I will post that one too.

I was supposed to report at 2:00pm and I reached there by 1:40pm. There were a couple of babus sitting there verifying the certificates. If this was to be done before 2pm they should have made this known earlier. Then they started asking for photocopies of the certificates which was outrageous since they had nowhere asked for them in the interview letter. Anyhow I managed to get all of this done before 2 and reached the GD place in time.

The topic for GD was "Life is a fantasy. Reality is revealed through dreams.". A fish market GD with nothing good coming out of it. The panel stopped us 5 minutes into the GD. Then the GD started again. But was finally stopped after 2 minutes. Then everyone was asked to summarize. I could only enter once in the GD. My summary was logical and good. So overall I would rate my overall GD performance as average.

I was the first person to be interviewed by a panel numbered 17. The interview in short was weird. There were 3 panelists - let us call them P1, P2 & P3.

P2: Who is the director of IIT Kanpur?
Me: (answered)

P2: You are from Kanpur?
Me: Yes

P1: (Starts a discussion about industries in Kanpur and why they died.)
Me: Chip in with points

P1 & P2: Why don't people like you do something for Kanpur?
Me: Talk about an NGO - Parivartan but he is not very satisfied.

P2: Are you interested in politics?
Me: Yeah - decently.

P2: What happened in the Orissa assembly yesterday?
Me: (Clueless)

P1: Did you read the newspaper today?
Me: Sorry. Came by train in the morning. Did not have a chance to look at the newspaper.

P2: Ok. What is happening on the national scene?
Me: Talk about Third Front.

P2: Who are the Prime Ministerial candidates from the Third Front?
Me: Some blah.

P2: Which party does Jayalalitha belong to?
Me: Answered.

P2: Who is the Chief Minister of Karnataka?
Me: (No answer)

P2: What is roughly the age of Karunanidhi?
Me: around 80

P3 jumps into the action now.

P3: What maths courses have you done?
Me: Differential & Integral calculus.

P3: What is the difference between slope and gradient?
Me: (No idea whatsoever. First year course - don't remember shit)

P3: Relationship between normal and tangent.
Me: (No clue)

P3: But you have done these courses.
Me: Talk about being confident of picking all this up in a day's notice.

Then we get into a discussion on the usefulness / futility of exams. I ask him to probe him in Computer Science.

P3: Ok what is the time complexity of calculation of factorial?
Me: Order (n) where n is the number.

P3: In terms of digits of the number?
Me: Exponential - trying to explain him the math behind it.

P1: Ok. Your parents are both from Science background. What is their influence in asking you to go for a management degree?
Me: Some blah blah. Talk about venture and stuff.

P1: Since you are mentioning the venture so much - What do you believe are the two most essential things required for a venture?
Me: Talks about idea and team.

Px: What are the places to visit in Kanpur?
Me: Talk about Bithoor and stuff.

P2: Mythology. Culture. What do you know about Indian culture?
Me: (Blank)

P2: You have done sociology. Introduce Indian culture to a westerner.
Me: (Take some time) Some useless crap. Give one example of whatever I had read in the books.

They nod that the interview is over and I get up. I am walking towards the door when P3 starts talking.

P3: What was your percentile? What all calls do you have?
Me: Told.

Finally I walk out and the worst interview in this series is over.

After that I go to the second panel and wait for a couple of hours as I was the last guy to be interviewed by that panel. I must say before starting that this interview was awesome and if they don't like me after this interview then no one possibly can.

Again there are three panelists - P1, P2 & P3.

Starts off with some discussion about my master's and bachelor's degree in computer science. Then talk about my job offer.

P1: Why don't you go and work for that software firm? It will give you the right direction.
Me: Some blah. Talk about venture and stuff.

P1: Ok. So what are your interests? Technology?
Me: Yeah. (Take out my cell phone and flash it in front of them) Then talk about more gadgets that I have and generally how I got addicted.

P2: Ok so what is going to be next big thing in 5 years?
Me: If I knew I would be marketing that. :P Then talk about final goal being integration of human brain and technology. Only incremental improvements seemingly feasible in the next 5 years.

Some discussion follows.

P1: Ok. What else?
Me: Contemporary fiction. (Define it)

Px: Is this what is contemporary fiction?
Me: Not really. But that is what I read. Though I have even read Arudhati Roy and stuff.

P3: Ok. Tell me the story of God of Small Things.
Me: Some blah blah.

P2: Have you seen some changes in Google in the recent past?
Me: Talk about changes possible in the page ranks. Give my opinion too.

P2: Have you used amazon.com for buying stuff?
Me: Yes

P2: What is the recommeded items thing?
Me: Describe it with a couple of examples.

P2: What is Softare Development Life Cycle?
Me: I don't know.

Then I start blabbering something. P3 also chips in and finally I give them a satisfactory answer. They seem pretty happy and impressed.

P1: (Jokingly) What is the funda of this beard?
Me: Tell him something.

P1: Oh this is like a gate pass.
P2: (Smiling) It also gives you a managerial look.

Then they look at each other and finally the interview was over. When I walked out of the room I was feeling very satisfied, more so because of the debacle in the previous interview.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Interview Experience - 3

This time I was interviewing for an institute in Western India. As is customary with every interview, there was a hint of nervousness in me. Moreover this being an early morning affair I felt a little disadvantaged, I being a nocturnal creature. With the reporting time at 8:45 I reached there at 7:30. A couple of people had arrived even before me.

The process started a couple of minutes late with the arrival of a prof who announced the list for a panel. I was on that list but I was the last guy interviewing with that panel. Generally the notion is that the last guy interviewing with a panel gets the least time and attention. So I was a little disappointed. Anyways, we were all taken upstairs and asked to wait till the rooms were setup. This particular institute asked the candidates to write a small essay in about 10 minutes. People had noted that this was the most stressing thing with most people unable to complete the write-up. But I could not believe my luck, when I saw a prof roaming with the topic in hand and showing it off coolly. Apparently, he was holding his stack of papers with the bottomside up and the topic was there for all to see. Now the only thing was that this could be a trap. Still I had to start thinking in case this indeed was the topic.

Soon we were called in and asked to put in our papers in order. Then the essay topic was put up. It was the same as I had seen earlier - "Democracy is the best form of governance". I was also excited with the topic because a couple of days earlier I had a discussion with ashkd on this same blog about democracy. So starting with Abraham Lincoln's quote, I discussed the positives and negatives of democracy. Finally I ended with opining in favour of democracy and with a couple of suggestions to make it better. I felt it was an ok writeup which would just serve the purpose.

Now it was a long wait for me. I was feeling bored outside with others trying to get into the interview mode or trying to read up more and more for the interview. After about 45 minutes Kunal (one of the dudes from IITK), the first guy on our panel was through with his interview. And then Ruchi (again from IIT K) also came in. She had her interview in afternoon. So we all decided to go to Barista. I think now that it was the wisest decision possible. Helped me calm my nerves given that I am a cold coffee guzzler. And I was back in time with the person slated before me just waiting for his turn to walk in.

Soon it was my turn to go in. I straightened my suit and got ready with the folder in hand. I walked in and was shown the seat. There were 2 panelists - let us call them P1 and P2. They had my forms in their hands.

P1: So what do you beside academics?
Me: Talk about reading contemporary fiction - Chetan Bhagat, Bhaduri, Raheja et al.

P1: Why? What do you like?
Me: Blah blah.

P1: Have you read all of Chetan Bhagat?
Me: Yeah.

P1: Which do you like the most and why?
Me: Five point someone. Some more blah blah.

P1: (Looking at the form) What is this BQC? Bournvita Quiz Contest?
Me: Yes. Went on to the Quarter Finals on TV and then lost out.

P1: So you interested in quizzing?
Me: Was. Now in college I am more into programming and organizing festivals. Talk about Techkriti marketing.

P2: What did you do with all that money?
Me: Blah Blah.

P2: You won this GD contest. Was it a national level thing? How many teams?
Me: Some more blah blah.

P1: Ok you have your interests in technology and have all the experience. Then why MBA?
Me: Blah blah - I serve the old wine in a new bottle.

P2: What is your degree in M.Tech.?
Me: Computer Science and Engineering

P2: No specialization? In Madras they have B.Tech. in Civil Engg and M.Tech. in some specialized area.
Me: Some blah blah.

P2: Ok do you have some industrial training as well?
Me: Yeah. Talk about Microsoft internship.

P2: What exactly did you do there?
Me: Some blah about setup and stuff.

P2: So you actually went there?
Me: Yeah.

P2: How many interns in all?
Me: On this project just one. Overall 11 people from India.

Then some more discussion about the work that I did follows.

P2: Though it is trivial. Still tell me about the optimization conditions in a single variable function.
Me: (Trying to be smart) Talk about point of inflection and 2nd diff being zero. I draw some curves and try to explain. Some discussion follows.

P2 is in deep thought now.

P2: Ok. Draw the graph of x to the power 4.
Me: (Doing the math and trying to draw the graph.)

P2: Do the math later and draw the graph first.
Me: (Draw it)

P2: Now does your condition not fail? Why?
Me: Yes. In this case we need to go to the third derivative and so on.

P1: (jumping in) I am not a technical guy but please tell me the slope of the graph at the points that I have marked.
(Hands over a piece of paper to me with a simple graph and 5 - 6 points marked on it)
Me: Tells him the slope and the points of non-differentiability.

P1: (to P2) Anything else?
P2: No.

P1: Do you have any venture ideas?
Me: Not really. Then I talk about my thesis work and its potential as a venture idea.

P1: How many venture ideas come out of Mtech research? Why?
Me: Blah.. blah..

P1: Ok. Thanks. Pick up 2 toffees for the long wait.
Me: (Pick up toffees and walk out)

After the interview I decide to hang around for a while and after 5 minutes P2 walks out. I walk towards him and he starts talking.

P2: You had an AIR of 124.
Me: Yes. 126.

P2: Why did you take five year programme at Kanpur?
Me: Four year thing was over before that. And some more blah.

P2: Ohh. How many seats in Kanpur? When did it close?
Me: Some blah.

P2: So Kanpur is nationally the first choice then?
Me: Yes.

Me: Ask him about his profile.
While he is answering Abhiraj, THE dude from IIT K, comes from behind - "Interview ho gaya?" (Interview over?)

Me: (Nodding) Yeah.
Then Abhiraj realizes the situation and backs off a little.

P2: So you guys together?
Me: Yeah. We are from Kanpur so waiting for each other.

P2: Ok.
Me: Thanks.

And finally the whole interaction with the panel is over. Overall a decent experience. Was able to talk about a lot of stuff that I would have liked the interview board to know.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Kanwal Rekhi's talk

During the blogging spree during Techkriti'09, I had mentioned about the talk given by Kanwal Rekhi and also written about a few points that he had raised. I later realized that there was a lot that I had not written about and that was worth discussing. I am copying the relevant content from the earlier post and adding the new points that I now believe should have been mentioned earlier-on itself.

For the uninitiated, he is a very famous entrepreneur and was one of the people responsible for the rise of Silicon Valley. Complete bio can be read at - http://www.asianpacificfund.org/awards/bio_rekhi.shtml. He came across as a very on-the-face guy who was not afraid of speaking what he truly felt. There were quite a few things that I liked in his talk.

One great anecdote was about the image that Indians had in the 1960's in the US - it was of snake charmers and beggars. A prof called him and offered assistance since he came from a third world country. When Dr. Rekhi aced the test, the prof warned him against cheating. On the second test, the prof stood behind Dr. Rekhi and observed him throughout the test. When Dr. Rekhi aced the test again, the prof congratulated him - for excellent cheating skills.

Coming back to serious talk, he took Japan as an example and showed that it was not growing due to lack of entrepreneurial activities and due to the excessive discipline followed by the Japanese. He said that entrepreneurs were the creators of wealth. They were able to able to do because they were full of unrest and were the breakers of discipline. He then connected to India and said that India in the first 50 years could not progress because we had a wall around us. The competition is really good for growth. Talking about the differences between managers and entrepreneurs he said that the entrepreneurs were visionaries and thought about getting gains of 10x instead of 10%. They also had to be the generalists forming the link between the various departments. The final thing that he mentioned that recession was as good a time to venture out as any other time.

During the talk he had raised a lot of points about the Indian economy that I really found valid. He said that people in India will remain poor till the time the economy is agriculture driven. He did some simple math to prove his point. In the US, only 2% of the population survived on agriculture. Hence this 2% population earns from the food expense of the rest of the 98% other people. Hence a farmer would earn about 49 times the food expense of an individual. Come to India, 60% of the population is involved in agriculture. That effectively means that 60% of the population is going to earn from the food expense of the rest of the 40% of the people. That essentially would leave a farmer two-thirds time the food expense of an individual. The difference is mind boggling - 49 times v/s 0.67 times.

Another interesting thing that he mentioned was about the early leaders of free India who had studied at Oxford and other universities in UK. They believed that socialism was the way to go because that was they had learnt at college. But what they did not realize was that socialism was fine for England, not so much for India. England was getting money from its colonies and then only the issue of fair distribution of wealth was left - hence socialism. But in India, there was no wealth. What would socialism do in India? The wealth had to be created first before it could be distributed. Hence, according to him, in the post-1991 era India has progressed much more than it had in the previous 40 years.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Windows auto-update

Why does this auto-update have to auto-restart the computer? You go off to sleep thinking that some job would be completed in the meanwhile and you get up to find that the so very intelligent windows has restarted the computer in the middle of the whole thing. Can these windows people ever imagine how badly it hurts a guy who has not restarted his machine for over 100 days.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Awesome spirit

Just watch this video and look at the spirit of the man. There was one other time when I had felt the human spirit so strongly. That was way back in class 4 in school. A class mate of mine won the school open 1500m race defeating all the known athletes from standards 10, 11 and 12. The words of the commentator ring still in my ears - "Look at the spirit of the little girl". That was one time and the next one is this.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

WebMurga

www.webmurga.com - This is the link to follow. A senior of mine - the world-famous Abhishek Anand - has launched this own venture. This has been a dream project for him and I have seen him bust his ass continuously for around a year. Finally his perseverance has paid off and his site is up on the web. Go check it out!

Mindless advertising

Continuing with the previous post, I was reminded of the new campaign that the Congress is about to launch. It is about to take credit for all the good that has been happening in the recent past including credit for Abhinav Bindra's success as well as Slumdog Millionaire. What are honchos thinking? Does the congress want to celebrate the fact that it has been in power for almost close to 60 years and yet these slums exist? Does it want to celebrate the fact that Congress itself is the reason for these slums? Or does Congress want to celebrate the fact that in spite of being in power for 50 years it has done only so much for sports? God only knows.

Advertising by Governments

I have been wondering about this for quite a while and have not been able to find any reason for the above - advertising by the governments. Why does the Govt of India need to air adverts in India showing how much the country is progressing? If it were a political party doing it, I would understand. But, a government? Isn't it hilarious? Unfortunately, the people in power don't find it funny and before each elections the political party starts airing these ads with big portraits of their leaders and pass it off as a government expense. So sad is the state of affairs in India.

This came to my notice first with the India Shining campaign launched by the then NDA Govt. Now it is a Congress campaign. And recently I saw an ad by Uttar Pradesh (UP) Government on Aj Tak - a national channel, promoting the progress made by the state of Uttar Pradesh under the Mayawati rule. At least, have the courage to bear the expense from the political party's coffers. Not to say that the political parties collect money in a legitimate way. Recently there was a case about a murder in connection with collection for party funds and hardly anything was done about it. Coming back to the UP Govt ad, it ran for almost a couple of minutes. If the money that is being spent these ads were diverted to development, for each run of the ad we could change the life of a couple of poor kids (or maybe, even more) forever. But the government is meant to boast about its so-called accomplishments rather than actually doing anything on ground.

Another thing that I have noticed of late, given that the elections are around the corner, are the full page ads that are given in national dailies proclaiming the inauguration of one service or the other in some place. The ad will contain half a page of pictures - of both central and state ministers from that area. It feels so irritating to see tax payer's money going down the drain with no constructive use whatsoever.



I would propose that a legislation should be brought that the Governments should not be allowed to advertise about their achievements or inauguration of a scheme or something. But then, I realise, who will bring about this legislation?

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Financial Crisis - Beautifully explained

I came across this interesting article by an IIT Bombay student. This explains the financial crisis in terms which anyone can understand and also manages to put the whole picture together. You can read the whole article at http://rahuldash.blogspot.com/2008/10/financial-crisis-101.html Am reproducing the post here for easy reference.


The Fall of the Wall


After every major newspaper and publication in the world has used every possible adjective to describe an occurrence, with every single person having read at least a part of it, what new, is a student newsletter of a technical institute going to offer?

Well, very frankly, nothing. This article is about the worst financial crisis to have hit the global markets, not to mention the most complex one too. It has been written by a group of undergraduates who are majoring in a discipline as different from finance as Ridley Scott is from Kanti Shah. Yet, we thought we should write this, not because we know more, but because it would help us put forward our grossly simplified thoughts on this highly complicated problem and through discussion with our readers, would help us to better our level of understanding.

If anyone finds anything unclear (even after googling :P), please feel free to contact me on my email id

So you wake up every day, pick up the newspaper and read almost the same headline that you read the day before. A carefully structured juxtaposition of the words “Wall Street crisis”, “Subprime Mortgage”. “Credit Crunch”, “Lehman Brothers”, “Fed, Treasury” and recently, “Bailout, $750 Billion”. And it makes one wonder, what the hell is all of this? And how did things get so bad?

Why the housing sector?

In the US, owning a house is considered to be the best investment a person can make. The US government encourages people to buy their own house by providing incentive in the form of tax cuts on the mortgages paid by them. Further, a person can use his house as an “ATM card”, drawing credit based on the value of his house. Now post the dot com crash, in 2001, Alan Greenspan, then Chairman of the US Federal reserve bank, slashed the interest rates (down to 1%) This, combined with the encouragement provided by the US government to buy houses, made people in the US borrow a lot of money (in the form of loans, with a very low interest rate) Mortgage institutions also took advantage of this huge demand of loans by providing a large number of the now notorious “subprime mortgage loans”


Wait! Subprime what?


Usually, when you take a loan from a bank, you need to show your credit history, whether you have defaulted in the past or not. You also need to provide something known as collateral (an asset that can be taken over by the bank in case you default) You also need to show that you have a job with a steady income. A subprime loan is a loan that is given to a person with a bad credit history, with nothing to show as collateral (except the house that the person would buy with the money) and in many cases, with no job too. Now why would an institution give such a risky loan? Two reasons. Firstly, during the period 2002 to 2005, the US housing market was undergoing a tremendous boom. This means that a house that was bought for $100,000 today would be worth, say $150,000 in a year’s time. Hence a mortgage institution could always take control of the house, in case the person defaulted, and could sell it at a profit. Secondly, the banks would charge a higher interest rate on a subprime loan. Note that the incredible numbers of subprime loans were made based on this one assumption: The price of houses would keep on increasing.

Sounds good…

But wait, it gets better. The loans that were made by the mortgage lenders were further bought by two giant institutions; the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) These are private institutions with a high level of government backing. Normally, if a mortgage institution gives a loan of $100,000, it would recover back an amount of say $150,000 after a period of say 20 years, via monthly payments made by the borrower. But the institution’s money would be “stuck” for 20 years. Enter Fannie and Freddie. They buy these loans from the institutions for say $120,000 and then recover the amount of $150,000 themselves, earning a profit of $30000 in the process. And these giants need not worry that their capital gets “stuck” for a long period of time, since they sell what are known as “ Mortgage Backed Securities” ( similar to stocks) to the common investors. A part of the $30,000 profit that they earn is given away as dividend to these investors.

Cool. But how do investment banks come into the picture? And what are these CDOs we keep hearing about?

Now comes the most “beautiful” part of it all. Seeing a nice opportunity to earn some large amount of money, the large Wall Street investment banks also got into the picture. These I banks bought the risky subprime loans that were made by the mortgage institutions. They then made packets of these loans (securities) that could be traded. Now, securities are rated by rating agencies according to the chances that the underlying assets will be defaulted upon. U.S. Treasury bonds, for example, get AAA+ ratings because of the negligible amount of risk associated. Enter a special type of security called the Collateralized Debt Obligation (CDO) A CDO takes these subprime loans and slices them up into “tranches” (like layers) The upper layer consists of loans that are least likely to be defaulted upon and so on. These upper layers got AA+ ratings from the rating agencies; the lowermost layers got BB-. Investors who wanted lesser risk (and were ok with lesser returns) went for the AA+ rated parts, the risk takers went for the high returns yielding BB- parts. Thus, the I banks were able to form AA+ securities from absolutely risky, subprime loans. Brilliant! Further, investors bought insurance on these securities. The insurance companies (like AIG) were more than happy to sell a large number of insurance products to people to protect them against possible losses due to the securities failing. Insurance companies kept on making out these insurances far beyond their covering capacity. Companies started insuring any kind of big loan with the guarantee of coughing up the cash should the loaner default. Just like mortgage-backed securities, these instruments (technically called Credit Default Swaps or CDS) were being bought and sold on the market at high premiums and companies who were dealing in them were raking in the profits. And what was the risk involved in these transactions? A CDO could not fail unless there was a total collapse of the system, which could happen only if a large number of the loans could not be recovered, which could happen only if the underlying collateral also failed, giving the mortgage lenders no option but to give up. And that wasn’t supposed to happen…since the assumption that “the price of houses in the US would keep on increasing” still held ground.

Fabulous! So why didn’t this romance last forever?

All this was fine till the day the housing market went crashing. Thousands of people began to default on their loans. The insurance companies and the buyers of credit default swaps, needless to say, did not have the cash to cover the claims. The investment banks—the Bears Stearns and the Lehman Brothers of the world had gone deep into mortgage-backed securities or the credit default swap markets. As a result of years of high-paying lobbying initiatives, the investment banks had made sure that they operated under the minimum of controls and oversight, freeing them to take unreasonable risks while investing. Now, when the system went bust, the only way these banks could have survived was by borrowing a lot of cash from the market and getting rid of their obligations based on CDOs and CDSs. However, Wall Street firms refused to trust one another. Banks had become extremely tight when it came to credit. No money was available. The great, 158 year old Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy. Bear Stearns narrowly avoided that by getting bought out by JP Morgan, along with the Fed’s backing.

Merrill Lynch was bought by Bank of America. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as well as AIG were deemed too important to be allowed to collapse, and were rescued (and nationalized) by the US Treasury. Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs ditched their sole I banking existence and adopted the consumer banking + I banking model. Washington Mutual, an US bank, collapsed, resulting in the largest banking failure in US history. Citigroup, UBS and others had losses amounting to billions of dollars.

Wall Street had changed, forever.

After spending around a trillion dollars of American tax-payer’s money to bail out some of the above mentioned organizations, the US Treasury came up with a plan, asking for $700 billion to buy the underlying “toxic” bad loans and attack the problem at its root. After much political deliberation, the plan has been accepted by the US government. It remains a huge question whether this plan would help, or will we be pushed into an extended period of financial mayhem. It is unfortunately a question too difficult (and risky) to answer.

-Rahul Dash


P.S. Some major institutions that fell and their effect on the job scenario, especially in India :

Lehman Brothers

Filed for bankruptcy due to unavailability of funds to continue daily market operations.US ops sold to Barclays. Indian ops to Nomura Asst Mgmt, a Japanese co. Most employees expected to be retained. Top talent to be retained on existing payscale.


Merrill Lynch

Sold to Bank of America for $50 billion. 600 Indian employees. Future uncertain but not many layoffs expected due to non-overlap of BoA and Merrill’s ops.

Bear Stearns: Sold to JPMorgan


Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
nationalized

AIG nationalized


Washington Mutual
sold to JPMorgan in the largest banking failure in US history


Wachovia
sale caught in a legal battle between Citigroup and Wells Fargo

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Interview Experience - 2

This time the interview was for an Institute located in the 'Silicon Valley of India'. There were 8 people in each panel and there were 2 panelists.
P1: Dr. Rahul De.
P2: Dr. Damodaran.

P1 called us inside and made us sit around a table. The interviews were to be held in the same order. An interesting thing was that there were two 'Abhinav Jain' and a total of four 'Abhinav' which really made the whole situation funny.

The case was about six institutes out of which A, B & C belonged to tier-1 and had very little difference between them. D, E & F belonged to tier-2 and had come up much after A, B & C. Now D, E and F had to interview a huge number of candidates because the shortlists for all the institutes had considerable overlap and the top candidates chose ABC over DEF. Now D, E & F institutes were the ones with the least resources. So what should be done to improve the situation.

Quite a real life scenario - makes me believe that case method of discussion is the best one. As for the actual Group Discussion, it was a fish market set up by people in suits. Could have had a much better discussion given that we had 20 minutes if people would have spoken in order and would have wanted the discussion to proceed.
Personally, I made 3 - 4 entries that I believe were all solid ones. At one point, I could see one of the profs nodding his head. I also contributed in the conclusion. After the discussion we were supposed to write a summary of the discussion on a single sheet of paper.

Finally it was the turn of the interviews and I was the first one to go in. I had an interview of about 30 minutes plus and all the others were shown the door in close to 10 - 12 minutes. Don't really know why they liked my ass to kick.

P2: CSE - Dual Degree.. Internship..
Me: Yes sir.

P1: What do you know about the cloud?
Me: Cloud - as the internet?

P1: No, no. Cloud as in Cloud computing.
Me: Blah blah.

P1: But when should we decide to use the cloud and when should we not use it.
Me: Blah blah.

P1: What is the difference between email and Youtube video?
Me: Blah blah.

P1: Have you heard about protocols?
Me: Yes, sir.

P1: Then let me ask you about difference between TCP and UDP.
Me: Reliability blah blah.

P1: Which would you use for email and which for Youtube?
Me: Blah blah.

P1: Why?
Me: Blah blah.

P1: Your answer was correct was reasoning was wrong. Think about it.
Me: (Silent)

P1: Okay. Change of topic.

P1: (Looking at my grade sheet) Software engg - A. What is the Software life cycle?
Me: Sorry.

P1: Waterfall model? Agile programming?
Me: Sorry.

P1: This was in 2007 - 08 and you don't remember even though you have an 'A'. You must be bluffing.
Me: (smile - no other option)

P1: Okay. Compiler Design - A. What are the four parts of a compiler?
Me: Blah blah.

P1: What do you feel about Open Source?
Me: Oh! We were discussing this outside.

P2: (jumping in) You were discussing what questions would be asked inside?
Me: No, no. We were having a general discussion. Kanwal Rekhi, Bill Gates, Open Source. (Tell him a few stories.)

P2: Okay. But what is your take on Open Source?
Me: (Take a negative stand)

P1: Is Richard Stallman a fool?
Me: Blah blah.

(P1 and P2 joke amongst themselves.)

P2: So how do they protect the software?
Me: IPR, licenses, copyright, creative commons.. Blah blah..

P2: What about GPL?
Me: Sorry. Don't know the exact thing.

P2: (Looking at the SOP) Innovation at school. What was that?
Me: Blah blah.

P1: (Looking at the SOP) You want to open up a venture. Give me 3 ideas and I will decide if I want to fund them or not. I am a big venture capitalist.
Me: I have the zeal but not ideas.

P1: Okay. I give you an idea. Why don't you make viruses and then sell anti-viruses. This is a multi-million dollar industry.
Me: There is no challenge.. blah.. blah..

P1 & P2: That is it?
Me: Yes ethically also there is a problem.

P1: What else do you find challenging? Or what do you do in your free time?
Me: Contemporary fiction. Chetan Bhagat, Maanvi Ahuja, Tushar Raheja.. blah.. blah..

P1: Is this literature?
Me: Blah blah

P2: Is this like movies?
Me: Blah blah.

P2: Heard about 'Orhan Pamuk'?
Me: No

P2: You talk about a big person like Chetan Bhagat but have not heard about a small guy who won a small prize called the Nobel Prize.
Me: (Talk about entertainment and easy to read fiction)

P1: This is what we call trash.
Me: Blah blah. Life of Pi.

P1: That won the Booker - another shady award.

P1 and P2: Thank you.

That was it and I was done within 90 minutes.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Interview Experience - 1

I had an interview today for admission to one of God's own institutes. It was awesome. I believe that the interview panel had one of the three notions about me -
a) This guy is great
b) This guy is a dud
c) It doesn't matter
I would wish that it was the first one, though most likely it was the last one. The reason for my feeling like this was that the interview was almost a cakewalk.

Coming to the GD, it was a total fish market. We were given a small write up on how Indian engineers were all going for software jobs instead of working on their core areas. This was causing a loss to the country. We had to discuss on this after 5 minutes of thinking time. The time given to discuss was 15 minutes. I opened the GD with a terrific (yes, I am not modest! :-)) structure but it was lost in the catfight that ensued. People just tried to throw whatever points they had thought during the thinking time without really trying to reach any conclusion. I made a couple of good points in middle stages of the GD and was pretty much satisfied with my performance. Others, I would leave it to God - people were speaking even three at a time. Finally the panel signalled to stop and the GD was over.

For the interview I was the first person on the list. There were 2 panelists - lets call them P1 and P2. I entered and was asked for the certis by P1.

P1: Where are your mark sheets?
Me: Sir, they are there.

P1: Where?
Me: (Reach across to my folder, take it out from the side pocket and hand it over)

P1: You put all your unimportant certi in front. It seems as if you don't give any importance to acads.
Me: (smiling) No, sir. It is not like that. The mark sheet was not fitting into the leaves.

P1: Ok. Introduce yourself.
Me: blah.. blah.. Pursuing a Dual Degree in Computer Science.

P2: Pursuing? You have put in entries for both years of M.Tech grades. You should indicate something that it is not over yet.
(Hand over the form to me.)
Me: I scribble 'current' in front of my grades.

P2: So did you want to hide something?
Me: No, no sir.

P2: Ok continue.
Me: Comp Science.. blah..

P1: What is your favourite area in CS?
Me: Distributed Systems and Networks.

P1: Are they same?
Me: No. Give some difference.

P1: Name one distributed system.
Me: Google.

P1: Explain how it works schematically.
Me: (Draw a diagram. Explain how a query is processed. Then he grills me on how it is ensured that duplicates are not there.)

Finally acads is over. P1 gestures to P2 to take over.

P2: You have an offer from xxxx(Software company). (Links it to the GD topic) You would also be a waste.
Me: Talk about venture being an ultimate goal for me.

P2: What is your opinion on the GD?
Me: Fishmarket. blah blah..

P2: You have won GD contests. You should have led the GD.
Me: (smiles) blah blah.

P1: Give us another area where we can grill you.
Me: Marketing for college fest.

P1: What do you mean by marketing? Channa wala also does marketing.
Me: blah blah.. sponsorships

P1: How much money did YOU get out of the sponsorships?
Me: blah blah..

P2: How many interviews have you had?
Me: This was the first one.

P2: Oh! So nice warm-up for you.
Me: (smile)

And that was it. I came out and my interview was over.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Techkriti Day 4

Attended the last day of the last festival in IIT Kanpur today. Basically just attended the laser show and fireworks. Here are a few pics and videos from the same.



(Thanks to Jodha for the pic.)





Techkriti Day 3

As last year, virtual reality games had been put up in SAC. Actually these are more than the normal virtual reality games and are at the cutting edge of technology. In the following video we see virtual soccer being played. The setup was with the help of cameras and projector fixed on the roof above the arena.


Attended a talk by Contact Singapore for the goodie bag that they were distributing. I was quite impressed by the presenter who made full use of the one hour and did a good selling job of Singapore.

Another interesting thing for the day was the lecture by Kanwal Rekhi. For the uninitiated, he is a very famous entrepreneur and was one of the people responsible for the rise of Silicon Valley. Complete bio can be read at - http://www.asianpacificfund.org/awards/bio_rekhi.shtml. He came across as a very on-the-face guy who was not afraid of speaking what he truly felt. There were quite a few things that I liked in his talk.

One great anecdote was about the image that Indians had in the 1960's in the US - it was of snake charmers and beggars. A prof called him and offered assistance since he came from a third world country. When Dr. Rekhi aced the test, the prof warned him against cheating. On the second test, the prof stood behind Dr. Rekhi and observed him throughout the test. When Dr. Rekhi aced the test again, the prof congratulated him - for excellent cheating skills.

Coming back to serious talk, he took Japan as an example and showed that it was not growing due to lack of entrepreneurial activities and due to the excessive discipline followed by the Japanese. He said that entrepreneurs were the creators of wealth. They were able to able to do because they were full of unrest and were the breakers of discipline. He then connected to India and said that India in the first 50 years could not progress because we had a wall around us. The competition is really good for growth. Talking about the differences between managers and entrepreneurs he said that the entrepreneurs were visionaries and thought about getting gains of 10x instead of 10%. They also had to be the generalists forming the link between the various departments. The final thing that he mentioned that recession was as good a time to venture out as any other time.

Post the talk I attended a 3-d movie - Shrek 3. It was good fun for reasons other that the movie. The movie (or the 3-d addition) were not really worth it and were a pain. The other fun part of trying to help someone hook up was much better.

Finally a video of the Techkriti logo at SAC which really fascinates me. Even though I have already posted a video of the same earlier but I will post another one.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Nine year old giving tips on how to get girls

A nine-year old is giving tips on how to woo girls and says he is too young to be dating girls which is meant for older people ("about 15 or 16 years old"). This is what the world has come to unfortunately. Twenty two year old are happy and gay with their male friends and a nine year old has become the guru.

Take a look here:
http://www.nypost.com/seven/12022008/news/nationalnews/i_wrote_the_book_of_love_141817.htm

Techkriti Day 2

This was the scene at the SAC Chouraha.


This is a video of a kid with Shiksha Sopan. He works really coolly with the nails and manages to arrange them in a flash. It was great to see these underprivileged kids who had a better understanding of scientific concepts than many of my classmates who had the chance to go to one of the best schools in the country.

Techkriti Day 2

A new event called junkyard wars was added to the festival. The participants are supposed to make a working vehicle out of the junk. Here are a couple of pics:



Yesterday, I had posted a video of the Endeavour area. Here are the pics today:


This was an exhibition put up by DRDO.

This was an excellent project brought by Government Polytechnic Institute, Bikaner. They had developed a touch surface without using touch screen and had made use of infrared technology. The applications they had developed were awesome and would even give Apple run for their money for its over-hyped iphone technology.

(Thanks for all the above pics to Nitin. His photostream can be accessed at http://www.flickr.com/photos/nitinag/.)

Finally, a few pics of the banners put up around SAC:





Friday, February 13, 2009

Techkriti Day 2 Events

For me the events to watch out for would be the Software Corner events - prelims of both Chaos and Instant.
Chaos - 9:30 AM
Instant - 2:00 PM

Chaos Finals will be in the evening today at 8:00 PM. In case you are wondering what is Chaos, then Chaos is a surprise event in which you are told the language that you have to code in on the spot. That means that you get a language about which you have never heard of before and you have to learn and code solutions to the problem there and then.

Instant is a more typical run-of-the-mill on this spot programming contest.

In the talks sections today there is:
Dr. Lee Hartwell, Nobel, Physiology, Audi - 11am
Dr. habib, NASA- Audi, 5pm

For the rest read the official schedule in http://www.techkriti.org

Techkriti Day 1

Looking at day 1 of Techkriti, I am pleasantly surprised by the increasing number of people coming to attend the fest right from day 1 and am even more happy to see a house full auditorium for the opening ceremony. Never before had I seen a house full audi for the opening ceremony of Techkriti.

The much acclaimed electrical hoardings did spread their aura and looked fabulous. Don't have the pics but have a video from around 7:00 PM at SAC which should give you a fair idea about the atmosphere of the fest.



The backdrop in the audi was also good. A small clipping for that is here.


For the endeavour stalls, these guys have come up with a nice closed tent for the whole event. This makes the whole event look a lot more professional. A video shot at 2 in the night is here. Will shoot a better one during the day and post it.


Finally a short video of the banners around SAC and also a look of the road with lights on both side.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Techkriti Day 1 Events

1) Inaugural Lecture by David Morrison, NASA
2) Zeno Exhibition by David Hanson http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaEpgqi4Nj8&eurl=http://www.techkriti.org/&feature=player_embedded

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Techkriti '09 Electrical Hoardings

In case you were wondering what was I talking about in the previous post, here is a pic.

Techkriti'09

The final moments before the festival blasts off tomorrow. First change from last time (in fact from anytime anywhere that I have seen) - electrical hoardings for all the sponsors. This is a great thing that is sure to make the sponsors happy. Stay tuned for more updates.

Another good thing is the number of good promotional videos.

Video 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4Ux3ePMxMU
Video2 : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ot5spoZGUw
NatGeo: http://www.natgeotv.co.in/Programmes/Programmes.aspx
Fox : http://www.foxhistory.com/Schedule/Daily.aspx?date=090109
DIGIT: http://www.thinkdigit.com/widget.php

In case you missed the party here are the snap shots:




Ode to the nice guys

Came across an interesting article: http://www.stwing.upenn.edu/~jenf/writing/rant04.html

I am reproducing it here:

This is a tribute to the nice guys. The nice guys that finish last, that never become more than friends, that endure hours of whining and bitching about what assholes guys are, while disproving the very point. This is dedicated to those guys who always provide a shoulder to lean on but restrain themselves to tentative hugs, those guys who hold open doors and give reassuring pats on the back and sit patiently outside the changing room at department stores. This is in honor of the guys that obligingly reiterate how cute/beautiful/smart/funny/sexy their female friends are at the appropriate moment, because they know most girls need that litany of support. This is in honor of the guys with open minds, with laid-back attitudes, with honest concern. This is in honor of the guys who respect a girl’s every facet, from her privacy to her theology to her clothing style.

This is for the guys who escort their drunk, bewildered female friends back from parties and never take advantage once they’re at her door, for the guys who accompany girls to bars as buffers against the rest of the creepy male population, for the guys who know a girl is fishing for compliments but give them out anyway, for the guys who always play by the rules in a game where the rules favor cheaters, for the guys who are accredited as boyfriend material but somehow don’t end up being boyfriends, for all the nice guys who are overlooked, underestimated, and unappreciated, for all the nice guys who are manipulated, misled, and unjustly abandoned, this is for you.

This is for that time she left 40 urgent messages on your cell phone, and when you called her back, she spent three hours painstakingly dissecting two sentences her boyfriend said to her over dinner. And even though you thought her boyfriend was a chump and a jerk, you assured her that it was all ok and she shouldn’t worry about it. This is for that time she interrupted the best killing spree you’d ever orchestrated in GTA3 to rant about a rumor that romantically linked her and the guy she thinks is the most repulsive person in the world. And even though you thought it was immature and you had nothing against the guy, you paused the game for two hours and helped her concoct a counter-rumor to spread around the floor. This is also for that time she didn’t have a date, so after numerous vows that there was nothing “serious” between the two of you, she dragged you to a party where you knew nobody, the beer was awful, and she flirted shamelessly with you, justifying each fit of reckless teasing by announcing to everyone: “oh, but we’re just friends!” And even though you were invited purely as a symbolic warm body for her ego, you went anyways. Because you’re nice like that.

The nice guys don’t often get credit where credit is due. And perhaps more disturbing, the nice guys don’t seem to get laid as often as they should. And I wish I could logically explain this trend, but I can’t. From what I have observed on campus and what I have learned from talking to friends at other schools and in the workplace, the only conclusion I can form is that many girls are just illogical, manipulative bitches. Many of them claim they just want to date a nice guy, but when presented with such a specimen, they say irrational, confusing things such as “oh, he’s too nice to date” or “he would be a good boyfriend but he’s not for me” or “he already puts up with so much from me, I couldn’t possibly ask him out!” or the most frustrating of all: “no, it would ruin our friendship.” Yet, they continue to lament the lack of datable men in the world, and they expect their too-nice-to-date male friends to sympathize and apologize for the men that are jerks. Sorry, guys, girls like that are beyond my ability to fathom. I can’t figure out why the connection breaks down between what they say (I want a nice guy!) and what they do (I’m going to sleep with this complete ass now!). But one thing I can do, is say that the nice-guy-finishes-last phenomenon doesn’t last forever. There are definitely many girls who grow out of that train of thought and realize they should be dating the nice guys, not taking them for granted. The tricky part is finding those girls, and even trickier, finding the ones that are single.

So, until those girls are found, I propose a toast to all the nice guys. You know who you are, and I know you’re sick of hearing yourself described as ubiquitously nice. But the truth of the matter is, the world needs your patience in the department store, your holding open of doors, your party escorting services, your propensity to be a sucker for a pretty smile. For all the crazy, inane, absurd things you tolerate, for all the situations where you are the faceless, nameless hero, my accolades, my acknowledgement, and my gratitude go out to you. You do have credibility in this society, and your well deserved vindication is coming.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Changes to the web site

For the last couple of days I have been working on my home page. I have added a couple of features - one being the system for showing status msgs (or latest updates) on the website and adding mail notification to the guest book. The first one would help me set simple msgs on the website that can be according to my mood. The second feature would allow me to instantly know if someone left a message for me.

Check it out at: www.abhinavjain.net

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I have a reader

Yippee. Someone read through my whole blog and yet did not comment that it was abstract. :-)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The power to read minds would be so cool

This post is because I am just feeling like posting. I could not think of a suitable title to the post. I hope I am able to come up with a title by the time I am done writing the entry. On one side the day was pretty good - met school friends. Really had a blast with them. But on the other hand the days have not been going too well. I am struggling a little with my thesis work and more than that the weather has really become chilly here in Kanpur. Also of late, I have somehow been unable to decipher what is going on in other people's mind. Earlier I felt I could see what others were feeling but now somehow I don't feel that confident of my instincts. Or actually to be honest I am not liking what my instincts are telling me these days. Somehow I have managed to screw up my relationship with a lot of people - friends, professors & even acquaintances in general. To put it in a better way - it's not that I have screwed up big time but I somehow find myself unable to live upto my expectations. But then I think the key is to hang on and see yourself through when you are not feeling very lively. (Suicide on campus does not help - it makes you feel worse only).