I know this is a weird thought. weird not in the freaky way, but in the everyone-knows-it-but-lets-not-talk-about-this way.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
For the past few days, I have been on the lookout for a truly relaxing moment. True. I have not been doing any work(not that I ever did) , but the feeling of restlessness was persistence.
Why is it so difficult to recreate our emotions at another time?
Afterall, we did experience it at the first place. I think what I am thinking of right now is the idea that emotions should be re-creatable. Which seems logical, but I havent been successful in doing so.
May be its the way we are wired. But doesnt the re-creatability of emotions important make sense in the light of evolution? A man who got scared for the first time on seeing a lion, should pass on the gene for the same to his future generations. and also should get scared the second time too. Also a couple who fell in love, should be able to feel the same love the second time they meet too, else the whole concept of couples and bonding doesnt make sense.
So why is it that humans in our age find it difficult to recreate the exhilarating emotions? Is it because we are too disconnected from our souls? We generally are too busy in the nity gritty of life that we fail to listen to our soul. We tend to ignore or postpone listening to our inner voices. Its only when we look around and feel the disconnect that we realize what we have been doing.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
One often wonders if one is contributing in making the world a better place to live in. Apart from pursuing one's personal goals, one also needs to think about the society. If I can make a difference in the life of someone, it will be an accomplishment.
On this line of thinking, I have tried to help NGOs in their endeavors.
The first one is "Tulir". Its a voluntary organization seeking to prevent child sexual abuse. It is an area of concern specially in India, for its usually brushed under the carpet here. I can understand if the parents don't feel too comfortable discussing these topics with their children. But it could be the life of your child at stake. At least they should be seen by the child as supportive and helpful and someone to look when they need guidance or help.
With the recent upsurges in cases of paedophilia in the country, it becomes all the more important for parents to be vigilant in terms of who their child meets. Of course there is no point stopping the child from meeting people. But what you probably need to ensure is that they are of the same age group, and that they have met before. First time meetings can be tricky. You might discover a totally different person from the person described on the Internet.
Internet is not the only place where children can be exposed to paedophiles, but it is the most potent and safe for the predator .That's because here they can hide their real self completely and don a completely different persona to attract kids. For example, they can change their age to teens , post pictures of some teen they found somewhere, mention interests that attract kids - whatever it takes, to fool the child.
But the fact remains that there can be genuine people like that and both could actually be good friends. The best way out of this situation is to educate the child as to what he/she should allow and what not. Knowing what is right and what is not will be of great help in protecting children. Another thing needed is the trust of the child that if he/she gets into some kind of trouble, his/her parents/teachers will be there to help them - no matter what.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
I read this book "THE SELFISH GENE" by Richard Dawkins - first released in 1976 . An engrossing read.
In the book, The Author proposes that the fundamental level that Darwinian selection takes place is at the gene level. Then he goes on to provide examples that support his views.
Further he ventures into fields that seem anomalous as seen from the individual selection but fir perfectly into the gene selection framework.
For me the most interesting aspect of the book (I am sure the ones with better knowledge of biology can find other things more insightful, so please do keep in mind that its the opinion of an out and out mathematical bent analysis guy) was the fact that he introduced a new concept, applied it from the first principles to begin with - and then gradually built levels of abstraction - individuals and communities. This was done noting the areas the abstraction is likely to fail, and the beauty of all this is that once he has described a situation , one IMMEDIATELY knows if the abstraction level will fail or not.
If anyone ever had the (outrageous) notion that biology cant incorporate logic, I recommend this book greatly. The way the logic is developed, It could well have been a book on practical logic building. Its just that the author was interested in biology that he chose to write on this.
Warning- Chapters 8 and 9 of this book should not be read by kids. I, despite being an adult of 20 - pursuing engineering - felt uneasy while reading those chapters. In these chapters, Dawknis applies his selfish gene concept to humans. And deeply committed to our families, as we are, we find it difficult to digest all that he has to say. His analysis should hold good for uncivilized nomads - but he has not taken into account society and its effects and hence I dont think his analysis hold good in this case.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
As humans, we tend to have a desire to explain everything. If something does not fit our previous model, we create a new model to fit the new data into it. We need a model to explain everything. We learn, and let our models grow- enriching our knowledge and understanding of the world.
So far, so good. but the centuries of (implicit) model fitting has demeaned our ability to account for completely unforeseen possibilities. As Nassim Taleb puts it in "The black swan", we restrict our views to our imagination. And most people cant imagine things that contrast with the existing model, yet dont have any fundamental reasons for not being true. We often overlook the limitations of the model and believe it to be an accurate representation of the world.
Like the black swan itself, until the black swan was discovered by the Europeans in Australia in 1606, it was believed that swans could only be white. It was then that people realised that there is no limitation in the model of the swans that predicts the existence of white swans only.
We do a lot of implicit model fitting - "this female is pretty"- this indication is generated after the brain takes in sensory data, and fits it to the idol, finds the matching coefficient and produces a result in the form describable to other humans. Likewise, A lion on the look for a prey would glance at the herd of deers and decide to eat one particular deer - he does this after analysing the deer's features and size, and computes the expected benefit - cost . The lion finally will pursue the deer with the largest positive gain. This is again arrived at by implicit model fitting. These models can be created by two methods - by interaction with the surroundings, and through the hard-wiring of the genes. In fact, as I look at it, genes provide only the basic framework for the decisions. All the models are designed to meet the guidelines outlined by the genes. I am not aware of any study that tested an animal's reaction when its newborn was subjected to environmental learning that contrasted with its native learning environment. Maybe any of my readers could help me in this.
But the essential part to be kept in mind while using models are, that well they are models after all. Models are meant to take into account most of the available data and predict the outcome - with a certain degree of accuracy. These CAN NOT predict the future. Once we get used to the idea that our mind uses models (most probably more sophisticated NNs(Neural Networks) than any ANN(Artificial Neural Network) in use today) to predict outcomes, and that models CAN go wrong - then we can be in better control of things.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Hog Max !!!
Today the three flag bearers of CPP decided to make the owner of US pizza realise the mistake they committed when they offered an all-u-can-eat at just 135 Rs.
Hence we commenced our journey towards Jamnagar city with a purpose. Despite the various obstacles we encountered that threatened to jeopardize our plans, as brave soldiers on a mission- we never even thought of backing off. For starters, it was raining, and I am not too fond of the idea of getting drenched in the rain. But well, good food is worth all the trouble. Then we were without our identity cards and one cant walk past the main gate without showing one's ID card. So we decided to board a bus to leave us just past the main gate.
So on and so forth, we reached US Pizza, in Patel colony No. 6. From the onset, we were determined to lay a long innings. We entered the restaurant at about 3 - 3:15 types and left at 5:10. We started off with some generous helpings of salad. I started with soya..something and Russian salad.Then the next round of honey soaked pasta with raisins. Next came grated carrots with raisins .. pretty much like our very own "gajjar ka halwa".
After the 'starters' we moved on to the main course. One garlic bread. Is this the best garlic bread ever made? No, for we had a similar experience when we were there last week. But it definitely is amongst the best I have tasted.
My roommate had had 13 garlic breads last time he was at the place. So in a not-so-healthy (Its loaded with cheese!) competitive spirit, we I declared my goal for the day- at least 14 garlic breads to be gulped down. Then, egged on partly by my friends and partly by my fondness for round figures(pun unintended), I decided 15 would be a nice number of garlic breads to have. It was a fest like moment when i got there, and I got a pic of the 15Th garlic bread.
In between when we got kind of bored with garlic breads, we ordered for pizza pieces. Cheese pizza was the best of the three for the day. I don't even remember the names of other pizzas.
In the end, when we were all done, I could not stand upright- let alone being able to bend down to tie my shoe lace . The meal I had for lunch would suffice for the next dinner and probably for next morning's breakfast too. (Its 11 in the night and feeling as full as just after a slightly heavier than normal dinner).
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Increasingly it is becoming more important to be "connected" than actually talking and touching people. We feel being under a compulsion to check mails, poke on Facebook, and look for any scraps left for us on Orkut. Amidst all this "being connected" mania, we tend to overlook the real connectivity - face to face.
All communication systems are designed keeping in mind the people who are expected to use the technology. The driving factor for all the social networking sites, video conferencing techniques (that reminds me of a wonderful 3D hologram projection technique) - is that people want to feel as close to the person talking/chatting with as a person sitting next door. But somehow, this net addiction has got on to us. We have more interaction with people on the net than in real life
Net is a great facilitator for contact with other humans. But, the difference between real people than their virtual persona has become so blurred that we tend to overlook the difference. It all boils down to this, do we have a virtual life because we have a real life ?or vice-versa?
Friday, June 27, 2008
Every time you buy something, you endorse the way the company does its business.
When we buy a product or service from a particular company, we are promoting the company, its policies, its business model, its work culture - everything. As long as a company is doing good, (by good I mean achieving its target sales and revenue) it wont feel the need to drastically change its model. Ultimately, its the signals from the market that the company responds to.
Of course its products will follow its own life cycle, question marks will turn into stars, if proper sales push is effected. The cash cows will remain so until competition forces pushes it to the dogs status.
As long as there is high growth in a particular segment and the company is having a high market share, the company will never change its policies. Let's say, if the company is heavy on environment pollution, but its products do not find any difficulty in the market, it wont bother much about self regulating the pollution. But once customers start drifting away from the company, then the company will need to change its stance. It will try to bring in regulation and more efficiency, so that its products can regain lost ground.
Likewise,let's say a chip manufacturer brings in faster chips but with poor power dissipation. That is, the comp would get heated up easily.If people are willing to live with the higher heat, the company will continue trying to produce faster chips without caring much about the heat dissipation systems. But once the customers find the heat too annoying or the increased speed not worth bearing with the heat or an alternative product that generates lesser heat, the company will feel the impact (Or if their market research people are savvy enough, and see it coming) and they will devote more effort towards reducing the heat.
Markets are the deciding factor for all business decisions.As long as it keeps the markets happy , the company is doing good.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
I am not claiming that I am competent enough to have a deciding say in the newest (and the HOTTEST) debate doing rounds on the web right now.But as a technology follower and leader-to-be, I feel obliged to add my own comments on this.
".......Scientists are trained to recognize that correlation is not causation, that no conclusions should be drawn simply on the basis of correlation between X and Y (it could just be a coincidence). Instead, you must understand the underlying mechanisms that connect the two. Once you have a model, you can connect the data sets with confidence. Data without a model is just noise. But faced with massive data, this approach to science — hypothesize, model, test — is becoming obsolete.........."
".......There is now a better way. Petabytes allow us to say: "Correlation is enough." We can stop looking for models. We can analyze the data without hypotheses about what it might show. We can throw the numbers into the biggest computing clusters the world has ever seen and let statistical algorithms find patterns where science cannot......"
I dont think that data can ever replace models. True, that Mr. Venter has done a lot of good for modern biology, But he is building on the knowledge of genes and replicating mechanisms discovered earlier, using the scientific methods of observation-hypothesis-validation.
Data is good only up to the limits we already have the theory ready for. It certainly is a great help in fully comprehending the implications and applications of the theoretical background we already have. But it in no means can generate new theory to do the future testing. It can only provide us with what something is but not why it is so.
PS - I love statistics , so please dont cite my short-handedness for stats as the reason why I sided with theory.
Saturday, May 31, 2008
We had a one day tip to Dwarika last Sunday.
It all began with a few people rooting strongly for Dwarika over my preferred destinations , Diu or Gir forests.My arguments fell on deaf ears as most people wanted to write off a few sins before they committed more of them.
The level to which it was uncharacteristic of me can be summed up in my father's response when I informed him that i was going to Dwarika. He asked me if I was feeling alright!!! Though I am not an atheist , but neither am I of the most religious kind.
Anyway , we decided to leave early in the morning at 6 30 (!) to beat the rush and to make sure that we dont miss "Bet Dwarika" , which has its doors shut by 12 noon.I somehow managed to up in time , courtesy some generous sunlight directed at my face.
After some light breakfast , it was time for an agonising wait for the cabs to arrive.The stupid drivers dint arrive atleast an hour later, and that too after one of us showed them the way to our place.
It was a Tata Qualis.8 of us fit into it peacefully(6 from IITM and 2 from IITG)as we were about to leave a guy from kgp also joined us as they were not able to fit into on car. The car for the girls hadnt reached their place either, so we showed the way.One of my friends managed to make a good impression by doing so(which i hope for him, will be rewarded suitably) all this while the kgp guy was stifling and gasping for breath, for he was surrounded by loud M guys who could make fun of anything conceivable if they wanted to.
This person joined other kgp guys at the first opportunity he had to do so.Meanwhile we continued on our journey into deep philosophical meanings of stopped windmills and wide roads.
Our driver , sensing our mood, tried to race with the Innova that girls had boarded.What ensued was a display of clever road tricks of "pass and bypass".
As we had started off late, we could only visit the main Dwarika temple before the curtains were drawn. After that we were a bit hungry so we sneaked into a restaurant, only to find that the humble place did not have the capability to serve a large group such as ours.(we were a group of 28 people totally). So we waited albeit a bit less patiently for our turn.
From there on , we went to "Gopi ji ka mandir". I am not sure how it fits into mythology.(As far as I know , Krishna Ji spent his childhood and adolescence in Mathura and not in Dwarika.He was the ruler here.)But all the same they still have a gopi ghat here.
There also was a floating stone kept.The more curious among us tried to analyse the reasons for this.Finally they reached a conclusion that it was fabricated as a cut was faintly visible.
Then we went on to take a steamer to the island where "Bet Dwarika" was situated.It was an amazing experience with the steamer dancing to the tunes of the sea, wavering as if to say hello to the winds that passed by.We did a cost benefit analysis of the owners in the case the steamer drowns.And found that even in an unlikely high probability of 1% failure rate, it is still profitable for the owner to continue his business.
After we got down, we took this amazing ride in whats called a "Jugaru"(Hindi for makeshift) here.This has the engine of a bike(Rajdoot, I guess) and it drives an ingenious light weight wagon.
Then we visited the temple and from there on we went to a beach.This beach ,our driver claimed was good enough to do scuba diving, and we laughed at his boastfulness.But once we saw it , we knew he wasnt off by miles. Awesome was the first word I uttered after being spellbound for a couple of moments.We had great fun at the beach. I have been to many beaches, and this one was the best till date.
PS - Bet as in "Bet Dwarika" does not derive its name from the English usage of the word. Rather its to do with Beta - son in Hindi. The priest tried to tell us the enormous importance of the temple , but it was all lost on me.
Friday, May 16, 2008
For the uninformed , I am doing my interns at Jamnagar , Gujrat - Reliance.
Here I am , sitting at the site of the "World's Largest grassroots refinery" , and I am supposed to marvel its vastness.But I cant help but scorn at it.
Its too big to remain efficient, The people here are too frustrated at the way of life to concentrate on the work.At the more down-to-earth places, one does not get the exposure to the rigorous method of obtaining an entry pass, but not Jamnagar. One stays in line for atleast a couple of hours while the people supposed to be doing the job discuss in gujju about the weather.During this period , your endurance levels are continuesly tested.Only the mighty soldiers who can endure pressure(pushes) from all sides finally get to get the retinal scanning done.This is after submitting the finger impressions.I cant make out why they need finger impressions when they already have the retinal image.May be its to detect in the event of loss of both the eyes.(I know most of you will be surprised at me being so crass , but after the orderal , I was pushed to such a state of mind)
To this base , add a layer of stiffling hours of inactivity in a room and you have the perfect receipe to hate a workplace.
Thankfully everything is not so ridiculous at this place , the mentors dont mind helping you out , even though they hold very senior positions.Atleast they sublet one to a young guy who both understands our tendencies , and our helps us like a friend.
I have enough material to write another post about the ironic and hilarious things existing at this place, so wait till I again have enthu to blog again .Till then subh ratri , sabbakhair ,fir milte hain isi jagah pe kuch din baad .
PS - (This summary of the internship has been written after the completion ) The experience on the whole was very good - did some good work, made new friends, saw how a huge industry operates & most importantly saw how its business model works.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
I was in this class on communication systems sometime back , and while describing how mobile companies decide on the capacity of each link , Our professor mentioned "What is rare?".(these companies go by some expectation probability of calls arriving in a certain duration-they want at the maximum only one call to be set up in that duration so that it an be analyzed using Poisson distributions.)
I was lost at this question.Do we really know what is rare?
IITians are rare - at my college ,everyone is an IITian.
Its rare to see a monkey operating the tap at the basin as well as a human-I see it almost everyday!!!
Its rare for me to spot a female(of the Homosapien species) - But I know for sure that almost half the population in this world is theirs.
So our perception of rarity depends on the context.More specifically , it depends on the past registered data.We forget things too!! But somehow , we tend to remember odd or i should rather say rare events.That is because we subconsciously check the newly acquired data with the ones previously registered ones.If we see a connect , it reinforces both the data.But something totally out of the ordinary ,something that has not been registered in the past say 2 592 000 frames (one month, assuming one frame per second) will b3 registered with a flag!!! -And now I bet most of you noticed the '3' which replaced the 'e' but not the 125 of its prior instances on this post.
The illusion of rarity is also used to create value for a certain product which inherently does not have any value ,Eg - diamond.These are mostly of ornamental use and dont satisfy any of the owner's needs except that of possession of something not commonplace.Come to think of it , those De Beers guys must have had the greatest marketing guru decide their policy.
So ultimately I think everything is rare and nothing is.One just needs to "look at things in proper prospective"(Like the secretaries in the series "Yes Minister" would say).
Thursday, March 20, 2008
I am generally ready to accompany people if they want to eat out.
Since the beginning of this semester, I have decided to explore the different places to eat in Chennai.The staple food here is so depressing(that served in the mess) that initially I had thought that Chennai wont have any proper eat-out at fair prices.
Alas, I was wrong .And I couldnt be happier for being proved wrong!! Tonight we had been to Dawat, Me and another friend of mine.What wonderful meal !!! Awesome is an understatement.
Dawat is one of those no frills restaurants.Small place, no flashy signboard and food cooked outside.I guess it would have developed to its present state through a street stall.
We had to wait for some 20 minutes before we got a chance to get in , as there was a rush.But once we were in , the order was delivered in no time , and from there on , it was a feast for the taste buds.
After eating enough to fill our stomachs for an entire day , the bill turned out to be Rs 330 only!
Man this is a place to go , If you are a non-vegetarian .
A few recommendations if you are going there- do try out "reshmi kabab" and "mutton angara".
First things first - Holi Hai !!! I wish all of you, a joyful and colorful Holi.
Quizzes are almost over , and I am back to one of those phases when my thoughts develop a philosophical overtones (and foodological too !!).
The below mentioned thoughts tried to occupy the same space-time coordinates as my brain .So these had to enter it.The list is in the order of me recollecting them.
Everyone lives for a fixed number of steps from start to end.
The step size is equal to the capability of the individual * his or her lifetime /No of steps.
I postulate that the no of steps would be fixed to 7 , for it the only number that all religions hold sacred.And since these claim to be a link to God, I think , 7 will be "THE CHOSEN ONE".
A person who works hard will go on increasing his capability.so when i mentioned capability in step size, i meant the instantaneous capability.
These cute things with yellow tops and long legs drive me crazy.
No You pervert, I wasnt referring to one of those hot females u hear all to often but get to see equally rare.
I was in fact thinking about capacitors . Those little things that come with long legs and a yellow top never function as we want them to , and then the circuit doesnt function properly , and then we break our head over it repeatedly.Though as a matter of fact , capacitors work better that some of the other components we use, like ICs .You will have absolutely no clue if an IC is working fine until you get the desired response. If it does behave properly, IC is fine.Else it could be a million of reasons u dint get the desired output, of which IC cupping is one.
After finishing a good meal , You know what is heaven.
Food is the basic reason for everything a human does.No one can work hard if one does not get proper food.In fact until you know what good food tastes like , you will not know what you are missing .Like after coming to IIT , I roamed around nearby and then decided that one doesnt get very good food in Chennai . So I was kind of ok eating at mess.But 3 years and numerous treats hence, I realize that one indeed gets good food at this place, One just need to know about the right restaurant .Since we are physically close to Besant Nagar area , I definitely know that you can get good food at fair price at at least two places there.One is Dawat - a small shop specializing in non -veg items. and other is Eden - a veg restaurant.Both being mind blowing !!! Any one in Chennai , who hasnt visited any of these places, you have missed something.
Monday, January 21, 2008
From now on the simplicity associated with Noise will be gone for ever for me ;( .Now Noise has to be AGW.
Till now noise was just some random signal and ways to deal with could have been equally random (with finite mean and non causal, time dependent variance) ;) .
Samples in the past have varied from plugging cotton into ears ,banging the neighbor's door and threatening him with dire consequences , to , orienting the bed in such position that one gets the least amount of noise(though it left no room for me to walk in my room !) and trying to increase the frequency of (mechanical) sound waves so that they don't remain in the audible range.
Though the most effective method has been to get accustomed to it.(If you can't do away with it, then learn to live with it).Fortunately I had a wealth of test cases -Voice of a teacher has a couple of properties similar to noise.
It is completely unintelligible.
You don't 'want' to listen to it but end up doing so.
So, putting to good use the 8 to 5 schedule of our college, I finally managed to perfect the technique to be able to fall asleep amidst any amount of noise.
You see, noise was once so tamable, so simple.
But engineers are fond of taking the simplest of things and doing a threadbare analysis such that at the end of it, it remains 'interesting' only for the modeling complexity it presents. So today it was noise's turn to switch worlds- from the simple to the cryptic.
Now noise has a flat power density spectrum. Now it distributed in a Gaussian(in this link read the stuff written about Laplace) fashion. Now it is 'white'. Now it has something to do with the bandwidth of the device. Now it needs careful impedance matching to recognize its presence.
I tried my best not to fall for the temptation of listening to BR when he was dealing with modeling of noise. But as everyone in the elec department knows, you just can't NOT listen when BR is in full flow. He sometimes reminds me of Sachin in Sarjah.If he is in mood and gets set, then you are in for a treat.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Right now I feel terribly jobless.
So much so that i even contemplated mugging.The fact that this thought crossed my mind (with so much time to go before the quizzes) has filled me with guilt.And somehow I am not finding any interesting reads on the net too(which by the way, I have been continuously from 3rd semester itself).
Generally when I am so bored , I resort to solving some problems off net on logic and number theory.Not that i know much of number theory, but it keeps me interested. Else there is always xkcd.But sadly I did not find it interesting either.
One of my friends suggested quantum computing.He is reading it and finds it very fascinating.But I don't seem to have enthusiasm to read anything right now.I think i will do a re-run of the best episodes of sitcoms.But I don't feel like doing it too.
I think I should do some work on modeling of data.I recently read some cool stuff on modeling of extreme events.But don't exactly know how is it to be done.So taking it 'light' for the moment.
Now that I am back on blogosphere, I would rather write some quick stuff until it gets lost in (pun intended)the mundane stuff at college(eg Saarang , wing Treats ,Sitcoms) and the exciting stuff (classes all through the day, Currents and Voltages all over the place, Equipments that don't respond,TAs who get the ckt diagram wrong).
Tomorrow is a Sunday.A day of the week when its an off day for most of the humans on earth.But, we are doomed to attend classes on Sunday. And its not because of some sudden rush that the teachers/students felt to teach/learn .
Its because a group of politicians will visit IIT Madras and try to access the institute.But why do they want to see the students in class?Do they really think they can make any sense out of Multipath signal transmission , or profiles of Fluid dynamics or Analog circuits?
If they so , they really are a very optimistic group.
Anyway , the decision has been made and we will have Monday on both Sunday and Monday.
I, as has become a common habit for me, forgot about this blog completely until a friend of mine searched for "Ankit Ashok". This blog of mine was most probably created during the time I was head over heels in love with Linux and Gaim.
But now we have drifted apart (sounds like breaking a relationship,doesn't it?).
By the way , it reminds me of one of the best break up lines I ever heard - "I am so involved with GNU that the idea, that either you or me should have exclusive rights to the other, is revolting."
Perfect breakup line, isn't it?
I dont like watching Fedrer lose , especially after India winning a wonderful game.
so here i am blogging my time out.