|Anurag Jain's Blog|
Sunday, August 31, 2003
Yesterday (Saturday) a friend's friend came over all the way from Chennai just to pick up CAT form for a friend of hers! As the deadline was already over (Friday), we were lucky to get a draft made for Friday by the ever-obliging lady in campus' State Bank of Mysore. I think the staff of SBM in our campus can put any private bank staff to shame with their amazingly neat service. Then later, the lady in admissions office gave me quite a knowing smile for this trickery! Had lunch with this friend's friend and after she got her bearings (poor soul had boarded train at 0400 in the morning!) back, packed her off. Then, later in the evening, had dinner with another friend. She is a nice and resourceful friend who had treated me with a huge cup of tea 2 weeks back and also given me requisite info for my last week's 'track'.
Arranged Marriage saga continues
Today, I met 2 'prospect' girls. The profiles, I must say in both cases are quite terrific. And even though my bro has given me a December deadline to get married - he starts Executive MBA at Fuqua from January and hence wont be able to come to India for 22 months - I have a feeling that this hunt will continue for sometime to come! Gawd, now whatever was all that about 'love at first sight'. I dont think that ever happens with anybody. Not with me, at least.
Anyway, In the honour of this wonderful tradition (for poor junta like me who couldn' find 'love of their life'!!) of arranged marriage, you can listen to this song for now: Apache Indian : Arranged Marriage. (lyrics here). Now, my 'gal' dussent have to be a 'princess' and I dont want my 'gal to mek me roti' unlike what Steven Kapur wants, but yeah it sure wud be nice if she's 'sweet like jelebee'! And no, she dussent have to be from Jullunder City!!
The time has come mon fe Apache
Friday, August 29, 2003
Of the week gone by
I have been out of blog-action for a week now. The reasons are very existential sort actually: My computer decided to crash when I upgraded OS from NT4.0 to Win2000 last weekend! And then it was usual "upload-everything-afresh-->crash again-->repeat" cycle which took fair amount of my time.
And now to talk about pleasant and nice things (well, not so much really. This one turned out to be a sucker too!), I went on a trek last Sunday to this amazing place near Sakleshpur. Its a meter gauge abandoned railway track endowed with abundant natural green beauty. It was fantastic but scary. From now on, I am gonna celebrate 24th August as my 2nd birthday. I almost died on this trek. Read about it and see pics here: Sakleshpur Abandoned Railway Track Trekking (Tracking) (Donigal - Yedakumeri)
Update Jun16, 2007: The new link for sakleshpur trip is here.
Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron this saturday!
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Friday, August 22, 2003
Are we a Simulation? - Part II
If you watched Matrix with keen interest, you couldn't have missed the way it vibes with Indian philosphy and spirituality. The similarity of the concepts is striking: Maya -simulation, Mithya -simulation, Krishna - Morpheus, Arjun - Neo, Trinity - Radha? (LoL), God -Simulation Architect. You can almost feel as if the story comes from Indian mythology. A detailed comparison between the two was written recently in The Times of India, Reloading the Matrix of Indian philosophy. And a relatively lighter look at Matrix Maya by the venerable Jug Suraiya, Matrix Maya: Play it 'As If' it Were Real. (Also by Jug Suraiya, a tangential look at Freedom via Matrix: Matrix Myth and the Price of Freedom)
Now, coming back to yesterday's discussion, whether we are a simulation or 'real' human beings, the more important question, rather, as Neo asks in the movie is "What is real?". Who defines what is real, anyway? You? Me? Someone called God? Or, maybe someone called the 'Chief Simulation Architect'? If you think about it, Its kind of similar to the problem of what came first: chicken or egg? We can debate endlessly about what is real and what is not but in the end, for instance, it may turn out to be just an higher level of thinking capabilities endowed to us by a simulation! How do we know for sure that our capablity to question the basis of our existence is not a 'real consciousness'? Well, the truth is that there's no way to tell. Because its all infinitely-inward-nesting arguments. Watch Animatrix to get confused further. It explains the innards of Matrix theme: How machines came to dominate mankind. And it also answers the question: if we are a simulation, what happens to us when we die? No guesses for the answer: We are a piece of computer software code, and hence at 'death', We return to the mainframe to be destroyed or stored (for further use etc. OOP, anyone?).
If you are feeling like your brains are oozing outta your ears by now, hang on. There's help at hand. Nick Bostrom in his brilliant thesis Are You Living In a Computer Simulation? (pdf) explains logically and step-by-step as to what would it take for us today to be a simulated 'beings' and then goes on to prove why the belief that there is a significant chance that we will one day become posthumans who run ancestor-simulations is false, unless we are currently living in a simulation! He argues that at least one of the following propositions is true:
(1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a “posthuman” stage;
Now, thats what I call a useful paper on a very chaotic subject. Its an example of original-thinking and a must read if you are interested in the very question of 'Who am I'. Consider the facts such as these: The simulating post-humans won't have to simulate the entire world. They can do away with the micro(scopic) details. They only need to simulate what we see. Hence, for instance, till the time we don't go to the undiscovered source of Amazon river, they have no reason to simulate it (btw, Amazon's river source was discovered under National Geographic camera a couple of years back only). That way, rather than creating a too-complex simulation with all the petty details, they can create a simulation which will serve the purpose of making us feel being in the real world. They can optimize their computing resources that way. However, Nick Bostrom throws spanners in the works of the whole beautiful possibility of us being simulated beings (LoL!) by concluding that even though its totally possible that post-humans will have the capabilty to run the simulation(s) of the magnitude of our civilization (and even though Aubrey de Grey, a scholar at Cambridge University predicts that "Our life expectancy will be in the region of 5,000 years" in rich countries in the year 2100, "), its highly unlikely that humans would ever reach that stage.
Now what do you do if you know that you are actually a simulated piece of code only? Okay enuff of WTF?, Holy Cow!, No shitttin and all. So what if we are a simulation, can we get down to business please? LoL. Seriously, no need to panic. Help is at hand again: Follwing up on Nick Bostrom's paper is a paper by Robin Hanson on how to adjust to the fact that we are not real: How to Live in a Simulation (pdf) Interestingly, he comes out with the conclusion that our behaviour would be and should be very different from if we 'knew' we were real. He says that "If you might be living in a simulation then all else equal you should care less about others, live more for today, make your world look more likely to become rich, expect to and try more to participate in pivotal events, be more entertaining and praiseworthy, and keep the famous people around you happier and more interested in you." The point being that you want your survival for the longest period lest you should be destroyed (killed) by the uninterested simulator. Read on the paper for interesting arguments. And you can follow the whole stream of thoughts on the topic at simulation-argument.
I guess, irrespective of reality(?), it would be fun if we were in simulation. (Remember Truman Show?).
Until we discover we are in one, that is!
Thursday, August 21, 2003
La Vita è bella (Life is Beautiful) this weekend
This is one of my fav movies.
Modeling and analyzing the cost, quality and time implications of testing in software product development
Just now attented this talk by a fellow PhD guy. Nice topic.
Traditionally in software development literature testing has been seen as a mechanism to detect faults or deviations from the design specification. Software reliability growth models have been developed with this perspective. But these models due to their narrow focus did not address the business issues faced by software product companies at large. Recent studies have found that testing has been used by leading software product companies as a strategy to sense customer needs, to test alternative technical solutions, and to integrate the knowledge gained from both markets and technologies. It has been observed that Microsoft ’s software testers accounted for 45% of its total development staff. Hence testing has major cost, quality and time implications for any software product companies.0 comments
Matrix, Computer Simulations, and God
I know you must have seen Matrix and Matrix Reloaded. Now I am not really much of a spiritual, religious, or philsophical person but due to its underlying post-human, super-human themes, the Matrix series has changed my world-view irreversibly. Its incredible that somebody would even think that we are all nothing but a simulation. Isn't it? *Think about it*. But then, if we are a simulation, how are we allowed to have the capability to even think that we are a simulation? Wouldn't the architect (God?) of simulation erase any possibility of us gaining consciousness as soon as symptons show? But is there even a possibilty of us becoming aware that we are a simulation, if we are one?
Whenever I have tried to think about this issue, because of arguments such as mentioned above, the thoughts on this topic run into a never ending, infinitely-nested loop. And my brain kinda burns out and gives up. Or is that just what I think? Maybe that's the intervention by the simulation architect! Anyways, my simplistic counter-argument to this whole simulation argument, at the base level, is that we are not living in a simulation because of the very fact that we are capable of harbouring the thought that we might be living in a simulation.
Tommorrow: Some further gyaan on humaity vs simulation.
Wednesday, August 20, 2003
A dork invests in stock market
Stock market seems to be on a roll. Reckon, I should be able to redeem my 3 year old investment now sometime soon. You see, I had invested this sum, yes you guessed it right, at the height of dotcom boom. Dotcom era turned me, a novice, into an investor! I got high on the tech boom and gave my money away to these mutual fund (euphoria couldn't still turn me into an equity investor :- ) managers in the hope of seeing it doubled, tripled and so on. And the date I chose to invest was the date index was at its ALL-time high (Apr 00)! After that very date, sensex has been heavily 'down' with gravity for 2.5 years. Current positive sentiments and sensex's north-bound trip gives me some hope of getting my money at 'invested value' and not at 30% of it :(, never mind the gains. Mercifully, this was my only investment in tech era. Enough of 'rash' investments (!?). Government-backed securities it is for me, from now on.
Monday, August 18, 2003
In India, an aviation revolution of sorts is happening. The first private regional super-save airlines is taking wings this month. Read about it here:
Deccan Herald and here Times of India
Hope its the beginning of mushrooming of such airlines all over the country (at least in the more prosperous states!)
Sunday, August 17, 2003
Nero's Guests, A Speech given at Youth conference, MRA centre Panchgani, on 2nd June, 2003 by noted journalist P. Sainath (Author of "Everybody Loves a Good Drought", Penguin India). Even though I am not in much convergence with his rant on gap between the CEO and the poorest of poor, I totally agree with the insensitive attitude of the rich in our country. Nice read.
Saturday, August 16, 2003
NYTimes on India Independence Day
Read this India special treasure on NYTimes. Specifically, do read their coverage on 15th Aug, 1947: India and Pakistan Become Nations; Clashes Continue.
Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy
If you are even remotely interested in government, politics, human rights, US, Iraq, you've got to listen to this wonderful speech by Arundhati Roy at The Riverside Church, NYC on May 13, 2003. I had downloaded the text version quite sometime back but never got around to actually reading it. But yesterday, I listened to it and was quite taken by it. listen mp3 here (7.2 MB, 54:48 mins)
If you are a management student, Manifestations registration is open:
From: Forum for Industrial Interaction
Sent: Thursday, August 14, 2003 1:43 PM
Subject: [VISTA 2003] Invitation for Manifestations (Paper Presentation Competition)
It is with pleasure that we announce the release of topics for Manifestations-2003, the Paper Presentation competition at Vista-2003, our annual management festival.
Use the following links to download the pdf containing details of the contest along with the topics for the research papers.
Within IIMB Campus: http://spidi/fii/Vista2003/IIMB_Manifestations_Invite.pdf
Outside IIMB Campus: http://unix2.iimb.ernet.in/~fii/Vista2003/IIMB_Manifestations_Invite.pdf
The FII team looks forward to an enthusiastic response!
Forum for Industrial Interaction
All doubts and queries regarding Manifestations may be addressed to email@example.com
For more details on VISTA-2003, please visit http://spidi/fii or http://unix2.iimb.ernet.in/~fii
Friday, August 15, 2003
Money Vs Happiness
In one striking example, students at Harvard University were asked whether they would prefer (a) $50,000 a year while others got half that or (b) $100,000 a year while others got twice as much. A majority chose (a). Interesting article at Economist
Talk on Entrepreneurship
Anybody interested may lemme know by email/phone.
From: Startup Club
Sent: Thursday, August 14, 2003 12:17 AM
Subject: Talk on Entrepreneurship
Have you ever dreamt of running your own venture some day? Do you have what it takes to be on your own? If so, here's your chance to make a start.
Startup Club invites you to a talk on "Entrepreneurship as a Career Option".
The focus will be on the practical challenges faced by young entrepreneurs with little prior experience. The session is proposed to be interactive in nature and can be immensely helpful to those who want to be on their own.
About the speakers
Prof. Pawan K. Mamidi
Founder of Erasmic Consulting. Erasmic is a startup specialising in
setting up Offshore Development Centres in India. Gururaj is an alumnus
of IIT Delhi and IIMC.
Nameet is currently heading a BPO startup from NSRCEL.
Interested junta may reply to this mail.
Date and time: 6.00 pm on 16th August 2003
TiE Networking Meeting
Attended TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) Networking Meeting yesterday. It was co-organized by Nasscom and the chief speaker was David Filo, Co-founder and Chief Yahoo!, accompanied by Phu Hoang, Senior Vice-President, Engineering Yahoo! Inc. The panel was moderated by Prof S. Sadagopan, Director, IIIT-B. Whenever I meet/see Prof Sadagopan in conferences, I am reminded of my brief stint with him at IIMB, just before he left to found IIIT-B. In fact, I did my summer internship (with Microland/ITSpace) also under his gudiance. The way he conducts panels is really good. He is a techno-leader in my opinion! Also ran into Deepak of SoftwareDioxide, with whom my aquaintance again goes back to indya.com/Microland. I was in touch with him for being shipped to India Internet World, Delhi during the height of dotcom era.
It was fun meeting people in general. But the major disappointment was the talk itself. Even though the title was "Next Generation Opportunities on the Internet for Entrepreneurs", in reality, it was about yahoo only! Now, that doesn't speak too well of TiE.
Anyways, came back and joined the block party thrown by PGP1s. It was kinda return party for PGP2s, who had thrown the welcome block party for the freshers. It was fun. I guess. Well, I guess 'cause I got to chatting with my bhabhi, who had a baby boy 3 days back. She came upstairs to the computer just to talk to me :) Also, I got talking to a 'prospect'. Turns out she's a big writer with her books availabe all over the place (amazon, barns nobles et al). Man, I gotta go write some at least one book to bring at least some semblance of equality!
Wednesday, August 13, 2003
Weblog --> Blog
Do you know the origin of the term blog? Well, as far as I know, it derives from WebLog - a term used to denote a file consisting raw data about access/hits to a particuar website.
Now checking out hits to my own website has always been a very interesting activity for me. I do it every morning. Weblogs give me a peek into what's driving people to my site and, accordingly, if I can do something better to serve their search-engine queries better (most of my hits are from google - US, Indian, French, Italian, Brazilian, all sorts!). Now, most of the time I really don't do much to 'manipulate' my google rankings, but over the years I have been lucky enough to have major portions of my site getting listed in the first results page itself. Even so, I was quite surprised to see my webpage (autobiography review/excerpts) listed in the first search result page for this query:
Google : sam walton walmart
Google : sam walton management style
Now that really is an honour. Why? Because I admire that man, I admire that company. And getting listed in top ten for something/someone you admire, is well, nice!
Tuesday, August 12, 2003
Arnie Vs Geek Chick
Can you believe that Georgy Russell , a California gubernatorial candidate, is actually a geek? She attended Berkley (Comp Science). But more than that, she passes the true test of 'geekiness': she reads, hold your breath, /.!! With Terminator Schwarzenegger in the fray, this contest surely is beauty vs brawn! Literally!!
Come to think of it, Indian politics doesn't have any geek/technical background females (I can't think of any). I say, let's have some.
i-flex solutions talk
Yesterday attended a talk by i-flex solutions CEO R Ravisankar. As i-flex has been one of the few Indian companies to break out of the services mold and market a software product successfully, the theme of the talk was "Making Global Brands with a Made in India Label".
He gave us nice insights into how i-flex came to be. But apart from funda/gyaan that he gave on the topic, there were lighter moments too: He started with saying that he would like a picture of the (big) audience present to show to his IIM-A professors who never thought he would ever amount to anything! Also, in response to one question later, he recalled that a batchmate of his used to say: "The biggest value-add of management education is that it enables you to tell when someone is BSing you and also to BS people who don't know enough." Now, that is cool!
Monday, August 11, 2003
An American joins our family
Yesterday, my brother and bhabhi had a baby boy. I dunno when will I get to see the baby. But whenever I see Mr SmartyPants, I am sure, with all his amrikan smarts, he'd label me a doofus.
Anyways, to maintain this nationality diversity in family, I have decided to go for a Liberian baby myself. Okay, so where's my Liberian Girl now?
Saturday, August 09, 2003
Remember the days when we used to have tape-recorders? VCRs? We dont have them anymore! Why? Because we have digitized audio. Because We have digitized video. So, instead, we have VCD players and mp3 players or still better, more ubiquitous PCs which can play anything from digital audio to digital video in different formats.
If you think about it, we have got 5 senses with which we percieve/feel the world. They are: 1) Hearing 2) Sight/Vision 3) Smell 4) Taste 5) Touching. Now, if you read first para carefully, you know where this is going: We have digitized the first two 'experiences' in this list of five. Now, I am waiting for the rest to be digitized. And any individual/corporation that'd do any of the remaining three will not just make it big, but in the process, also fundamentaly change the way we live (think 'life pre-digital music/audio vs life now'). Already, I have been coming across research at lab-levels happening for these virgin areas of digitizing the later three human sensual expereinces. Apparently, electronic noses have already been developed to some efficiency levels. And there was a successful cross-Atlantic experiment (sympathetic haptics) to 'transport' the human touch electronically. Taste, hmmm.. dunno anything about that! (Maybe Deki has something to say about that as she seems to be constantly checking out the latest restaurants/cusinies etc!)
Update: What a COINCIDENCE! Just after submitting this post I was clearing my today's newsletters, and guess what do I see: Device Simulates Food!! Man!!!
Calvin offers brains to TV
Why do I almost see Deki in this strip! Happy offering brains, Deki!! LoL!
(This strip is brought to you by public demand)
Thursday, August 07, 2003
No hay banda OR No hay Sensa?
Mulholland Drive is a higly praised by all quarters movie. And I dont understand why! Till the last moment, I was expecting that now, now, I would know what the heck was happening throughout the movie. But guess, what? Movie got over and I still dunno what the heck was it about. I mean creativity has its limits. You can be totally off-beat and go beyond conventional boundaries and come up with something innovative but then, doesn't weirdness also fall in the same category?
Given all the hype about and the critical appraise of the movie, more and more people watch it and hence the cycle of popularity propagates. In my opinion, like a few other movies, director (David Lynch, a brilliant director by the way) here is trying to say : "Hey, I am creating a subtle narrative here and you have to figure it out with your intellectual imagination." Now, that attitude of the movie story-telling, combined with high levels of word-of-mouth creates a situation where people watch the movie and even if they dont understand a damn thing, they figure something out and thus feel that they belong to an exclusive class of people who can make out what going on. And thats a big ego massage.
I guess, all this doppleganger movies make my head spin. No, wait a minute. Fight Club was a gem. And so was Memento (just DONT miss this one!). Now why couldn't David Lynch have at least some chronological continuity in Mulholland Dr. But anyways, you sure can watch the movie for Laura Elena Harring. She is completey, absolutely, fully, drop-deadedly WHOA! One of the most gorgeous screen babes I have seen.
Wednesday, August 06, 2003
Borrowing (Absolute terms) Declines
Further to my post yesterday, I also came across an article in ET about credit-less growth. Apparently, credit hand-outs have declined during April-July 2003 in absolute terms! And moreover, the majority of credit lending has been for home and retail loans and not so much to corporates really. Amongst other reasons for the same (Debtors being wary of taking loans due to improved debt-recovery regulations, Banks being wary due to tighter NPA regulations, low global interest rates and hence easy availability of money abroad etc), one of the reasons is the rising profits (and hence reserves) as outlined in my post yesterday: Corporates might be using their internal kitty rather than piling on loans debts for working capial/capital investments requirements to deal better with the uncertain economic environment.
The article raised an important issue though: Credit is always a major indicator of economy. But here, we have a situation where India Inc has done pretty well over the last quarter while cutting down on borrowing at the same time. So, is it gonna continue? So much for supply side economics! I remember someone (I think Raghuram Rajan , the new IMF chief economist) recently saying that even though they have worked well for last 3 decades, Hayekian/Friedman theories are outdated today and that we need a new macro-economic theory. Guess he's about right.
Tuesday, August 05, 2003
India Inc Quarter results: Revenues +11%, Profits +42%
According to Economic Times, the latest quarterly results of 1005 Indian companies show an average profit net growth of 42 % (!) and a topline growth of 11 %.
Now thats quite interesting. Y-o-Y Profit increments of more than 40% is really huge, and thats not for a single company. Its an average of a basket of 1005 firms! But what's more interesting is the 'modest' topline growth (Well, industrial topline is atleast outstripping the overall economy growth rate.) But isn't the dichotomy between revenues and profit growth rates is a big one here? You see, this big gap between the two can not be a long-term phenomena obviosuly. It has to be one-off thing. I mean, the only way you can explain this is that there seems to be a serious cost-cutting going on the India Inc. Thirty-one percent to be precise. And since there's a limit to cost-cutting (%-wise), such big cost cutting while growing profits disproportionately can only continue in the short-term (2-3 quarters). And then there's factors such as seasonality etc accounting for specific patterns in corporate financials. So we can't, of course, dig too much into a quarter's data but it would be very interesting to see how have the firms achieved such huge cost savings. Being an IS person, I put my bet on technology being one of the main money savers.
Sunday, August 03, 2003
Free People Movement
Real nice article and thought-provoking data on inter-state migration in today's Swaminomics (by Swaminathan S Ankelaria Aiyar). What's surprising is Haryana's 7.9% net inflow and Karnataka's net outflow! Now, having been here in Bangalore, I would tend to think that people are moving in all the time. But heck, more people seem to be moving out than moving in!
More interesting part though is the implications of the study lined out in the article: That poor do not benefit from freedom of movement across geographical boundaries. Even when given the opportunity (by state/nation-laws/regulations) to migrate, they lack the information!! Now, that is really interesting 'cause it means only those with access to information (read rich) are able to migrate to so called 'greener pastures'. I, for one, have been always indignant at US/Europe visa policies (u can scroll down and read why in my post titled "Why do we need Visa?"!). Guess what? Turns out that India too is not all that benign in handing out visas. I recall that recently India denied visa to some top boss from Amnesty International, apparently because s/he had spoken against Indian government in the matter of Gujarat riots!
Phew! I am not gonna crib again about visa restrictions. I have migrated once already (from UP to Karnataka) and do not wanna migrate to anywhere else in the world. Thank you very much, I am better off here, where I am.
Thanks to Russell for adding my blog in the Management-themed blogs listing.
Saturday, August 02, 2003
Went to Jakkur airfield for aerosports (parasailing and microlite flying) today with Anirban. Actually there were three of us because the two of us on the way dropped in at Vivek's place and from there on, we went in his car. It was fun and especially nice meeting the organizer and an old friend of mine Mr Sheshadri. Earlier, he used to own this group called earlier and now he's started a different company called careadventures.
On the way back, dropped in at guilt-gang's home to ping them. Found only our good ol' ghayal sipahi Kapala. From there moved on to ping another friend Yasmeen, who recently opened a boutique called Raindrops. Her Dutch boyfriend Richard Degennar is doing some cool projects in India. It was great meeting them after a long time, more so because Richard gifted us keyrings modeled after traditional Dutch shoes!!
You should go for aerosports to Jakkur on the coming weekends and have fun. And if you are there, just ping Mr Sheshadri on my behalf too! Man, when will I go for a PPL. Moolah, I need lots of moolah!
Friday, August 01, 2003
Remember Wonder Years? No, not your own childhood but Kevin Arnold's! That series is one of my favourites. And recently someone shared some of the episodes on the LAN, so I got to re-live the nostalgia all over again. Right now I am listening to this number The Circle Game by John Mitchell. Fantastic number, its played out when Kevin has a tiff with his mom when she wouldn't understand that her kid is growing up. Listen to it here.
Also listen to fabulous numbers from Mulholland Drive:
Linda Scott - Why Haven't I Told You (I love this number!!) and
Connie Stevens - Sixteen reasons
If you have problem with the links, just goto http://unix2.iimb.ernet.in/~ajain/mp3/
Hope you like them. EnjoY!