Monday, 31 December 2012

2012: A travelogue and last words ...

Wordle: Travelogue 2012
For those who tried to use calendars from mesoamerican times hoping for catastrophes 2012 has been quite a disappointment. Astronomical phenomena for stargazers were perhaps the most dazzling for the last year in its entirety.

In my personal life, there has been fire, something unquenchable, likening what was encountered at a burning bush long ago by an erstwhile prince of Egypt and a then shepherd. My last travel for the year was on 24-Dec-2012, and I landed between the days of 30-Dec and 31-Dec, perhaps to write this blog entry before it is too late.

Friday, 28 December 2012

The real prey

Recent news in India has the media focusing on a heinous crime, involving sexual assault in the capital city of Delhi inside a bus. The public have raised their voices in protest against the inability of the state machinery to stop the crime while the victim herself is fighting for her life while her own privacy has been threatened. The perpetrators of the crime have been condemned by several people through social media, blogs, newspaper articles and vociferous protests to have acted in the most inhuman manner ever. While the Police have apprehended suspects, the nation is erupting with more and more crimes against women getting reported and being given nation-wide attention.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Discrimination in India, by every name ...

I had just gone to fill a few forms in my company as part of a document audit. I was surprised at the kind of information which was found.

Each form requires one to provide
  1. Proof that they were Born to Parents of social standing.
  2. The Birth Certificate usually is sufficient for this.
  3. Next comes the "community certificate" - at this stage each human belongs to their family with their aspirations to a good future. Furthermore in religious "tolerant" India, they would like to know "Religion" in detail. These definitions are perhaps the first among many mistakes in an extremely connected world. These are the social acceptance criteria laid out for us.

Further, walk into a free forum and find people gravitating, not by interest, but by their lingua. A subconsciously induced interest to limit our interaction with only those whom we are already familiar with.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The Candidate (a masonic poem.)


by RW Alan R. Heath, Grand Lodge of Maine

It was his dream to become a Mason,
Though he wasn't sure quite why.
So he made an application,
Then waited months for a reply.

No committee came to pay a call,
To meet him and his wife,
No invitation to Mason's hall;
Nor offer of advice.

Finally a postcard in the mail,
Said, "come Monday night at six,
And bring us twenty dollars,
If you want to see our tricks."

He made that solitary journey,
And entered by the door,
But not one hand was offered,
As he slowly crossed the floor.

They fed him beans and hot dogs,
And a piece of apple pie,
Then lead him to a little room,
With no explanation why.

The work was done with care and skill,
No one could argue that.
But, the candidate was forgotten,
As they patted themselves on the back.

He came to the lodge hall two more times,
And was raised to the third degree.
That was the last time they saw him.
What could the trouble be?

They scratched their heads and wondered,
As again they cried and moaned,
"Our time has all been wasted!"
"We should have stayed at home.”

It seems to me that they've missed the point,
But they need to understand.
It’s not just how well you do the work,
It's how you treat the man.

Because you can only be a Mason,
When you're a Mason in your heart;
And along with his jacket seams,
They had burst his dream apart.

So, if you get an application,
Please, call on that man at once.
Invite him and his family,
To tour your hall and share some lunch.

Answer all his questions,
Let him share your pride.
A Mason's work, is honest work;
That's not a secret to hide.

And when it's time to present him,
With the gift of a degree,
Remember, genuine friendship is,
The true gift of masonry.

Pick him up and take him home.
Isn't he worth the trip?
No candidate should come alone.
Please, don't ignore this tip.

All should rush to greet him,
As he enters by your door.
Extend your hand in friendship,
That's what a Mason's grip is for.

Remember your obligation,
As you lead him to the gate.
It's up to you to guide him through,
Not to hurt or humiliate.

Now armed with proper instruction,
Masonry's door will open wide,
Thanks to you, his best example,
Of what a Mason should be inside

And? thank him sincerely for coming.
Invite him back to his new home,
For a brother will not be a brother,
If he feels unwelcome and alone.

( reproduced verbatim from - for both the poetry and freemasonry. )

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Pune Bus Day (1 Nov 2012)

Paud Road @8:30pm [Imagine!]
Sakal Times, Pune, launched an initiative Pune Bus Day [PBD] to convince commuters to use the PMPML bus services to prove that public transport would reduce traffic and that the logistics were possible.

Pune Station

Bajirao Road
On 1-Nov-2012 a good number of residents of Pune ignored the fact and set out on their privately owned vehicles or cabs or shuttles which did not help highlight the advantages. Many judgmentally decided that the website and Android mobile application did not help them and hence did not try to diligently explore the options.

Swargate [Seriously, no Jokes.]
I took the bus early 1-Nov-2012 and found the conductors to be most accommodating and helpful. Each bus I took had seats available to travel comfortably. This was largely possible thanks to an additional 1,500 buses being added to the standard fleet. Hinjewadi, which is where I commute to daily, did not have a remarked difference in Traffic. However other crowded places like Swargate Depot, JM Road had a remarked change in the traffic for almost all day.

The verdict is that Pune Bus Day was a success in terms of residents who wanted to use it and reduce the pains of using their own private vehicle.
  1. Bus Routes could be looked up on Google, except following Google's instructions entirely took you to places that did not have Bus Stops - so this needs some work.
  2. The Application is only a wrapper to the Website that merely gives you Bus Numbers and served no purpose when it was overloaded.
  3. People seldom attempted to ask another person as to how to head to particular destination - a social malady amongst the new White-collar folk in town. Instead, on the first sign of failure they switched quickly to cabs and other forms of transport to reach their destination. Despite these stranded people who gazed at their maps without asking others who knew how to get to the destination, it was a success.
  4. My Boss's Boss came to Office by Bus and was happy he could dispense off with his early morning e-mail while sitting in the bus (considering he is a Senior Vice President and spends all his time in Decision Making and Inputs toward that.) He admitted that he did some diligent understanding of the logistics before he tried it to avoid getting stranded.

The cons of the exercise were not actually too visible unless someone asked the hard questions:
  1. Thursday is a holiday for many of the Industrial complexes especially those that comprise MIDC and other Industrial areas. Hence the bulk of the bus commuters were on leave.
  2. The users of bus-services (the casual citizen/resident) was not educated (through newspapers, emails) thoroughly, that we all found shortcomings in the directions received. This was a huge discouragement.
  3. We were told that members of the BJP, RSS would volunteer to help private vehicle commuters to get back home and then choose the correct route. This would have been welcome if they had waited at each bus stop and assisted people. Despite this being a behemoth of an effort, that would have landed us in total success.
  4. It was a shame to see so many residents of Pune plying in their private vehicles as early as 6:45am when this was announced for the entire last month as Pune Bus Day. If people do not take any initiative, they have no moral standing in talking about bad-governance, corruption as they couldn't just participate in an initiative. 

This is wonderful, and I hope that each community, city and civic group will try initiatives on their own and not depend on governmental grants/funding/approvals to perform such exercises for a better tomorrow.

Yes, there was a lot of glitz, glam and Sakal advertisement/sponsorship on show, but that was outweighed by the community contribution it brought in.

Considering that mass commuters who use PMPML were on leave for Thursday (the weekly Industrial Holiday,) celebrations are too early. Another effort on a day when they too are commuting will test the infrastructure. Worse yet, by evening too many private vehicles entered the foray and almost spoiled the experiment especially in Hinjewadi where Company Buses also ply. This is part of another debate as to why a good number of Software Engineers have a tendency to give up when they believe there's not a single bus plying their route or it is too much time versus their two-wheeler driving capabilities.

Alike Chennai as my friend Annamalai Subramanian pointed out, it is possible to have a city's commute infrastructure working without the aid of "Local trains" or "Metros" if diligent planning is done. Ultimately it would still be a 'Mass Transit System" like an MRT that can solve the problem for a long-term. But these steps ought to be taken.

PS: The photographs were published on Facebook and were not taken by me. The copyright for these photographs stays with whomsoever took these photographs and agreed to share them with the "Pune Bus Day" Facebook page.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Drafting a career plan ...

Having been born in India, and found my way into computers early, graduated in computer engineering, some of this was choice, an equally, yet immeasurable proportion was not chosen, but was welcome in shaping my career.

These are the lessons I have learned over a decade, which I am sure are relevant even to this day:
  1. The first ever domain in which we take up a job dictates to a large extent the focus domain we will have for the rest of our lives. This statement is not restricted to information-technology or engineering but is valid across several domains.
  2. If we start with an Indian graduation, we find ourselves lacking of many fundamentals whenever we choose to apply them. It is inevitable that we spend time trying to learn-again (or re-learn) some of the core skills we need to become productive and effective in our job.
  3. Being schooled with strict instructions from our Teachers, Headmasters, we are inherently designed to wait for instructions as opposed to figure our own way out. What is often referred to as "self drive" is usually the ability to transcend this phase where the education system wanted us to stay obedient. The more obedient we are, the more passive we become, the less productive and enthusiastic is our output within our domain.
  4. As our skills specific to our job begin to increase and our ability to apply knowledge in the field increases, our performance is immediately recognized. We are then offered a choice of promotions. The preferred kind are quasi-management and quasi-domain focus, usually at a ratio that is easily measurable and acceptable. It is more likely that the emphasis on management will slowly blot out the emphasis on the domain.
  5. Unfortunately many who want to purely focus only on their skills and strength within their domain do not have easy avenues of growth that they can lay out for themselves. In short, their career growth path within that domain so long as they focus on core skills / activities / field-work that is domain specific will be minimal especially where the Subcontinent's cultural ramifications in the work environment are pronounced.
  6. There is often a motivation to put one's self ahead of one's own team. This is counterproductive in most cases and must be avoided. Growing together with one's team is possible if one's team is cosmopolitan and not bound by regional, linguistic and gender bias. All future productivity in any domain lies with the ability to become part of teams by adapting quickly and identifying oneself with the team.
  7. If one does not have the entire picture beyond the domain of the full layout and flow of the work they are involved in, then finding this 'BIG picture' as it is oft cited, is very important. Performing our work within our domain, within specific boundaries can only give us partial understanding and satisfaction upon completion. Understanding the entire task of which we are a part of, will give us the ability to contribute to multiple parts or at the very least tune our own deliverable items to fit the holistic solution.
  8. Having a 3-month, 6-month, 1-year roadmap would be very useful to help one align with the organization. This would also help in taking critical decisions whenever necessary. If important family events like a wedding or a relocation are to take place within this known duration, we would be able to ensure that they have a minimum effect on what we would like to do in terms of a career. Keeping this career plan open, will help our performance in a team much better.
  9. Last, but not least, the most important part of pushing our career forward is to grow not only in our domain, but also in communication-skills. For some domains written communication skills are given emphasis (especially science, technology, engineering, research ...) while in other domains (like sales, marketing, management, strategy, leadership...) spoken communication is given emphasis. It is best to develop our skills to augment our ultimate objectives and goals in all dimensions.
    • This may involve learning a National language that may not be English. This may also involve an interest in learning local languages in a short time even if it is meant for improving verbal communication.
This career plan can be drafted after the critical hurdle to secure the very first job in our life is done. This too must be done in an organization of our preference, where we would find it comfortable to work at least largely.

Most of these rules would remain unchanged in other geographies. The complexity of organizations involving major people interaction at multiple levels as dense social dynamics is often the case in Service Companies and Service Oriented Companies.

We should be better poised to approach an Organization or a Company with solutions we are good at. As far as Software Engineering goes, we can share source code openly on the Internet, as we can share documentation that will help prospective employers to validate us with ease. Some employers insist on processes, but are willing to reduce that load if they are able to validate us based on work we have done prior (at an under-graduate or school level.) This is probably the most important part in ensuring that our first job, and therefore all that follow are in the right field of interest we have selected. Creativity can always be expressed and shared, and it will definitely help in doing so when we are trying to find a employer who is looking for a similar set of skills.

Ask what you can do for the employer rather than what the employer can do for you - and this first hurdle is easily crossed. The rest is Kaizen, continuous improvement on our part.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

The Level and the Square


by Brother Rob Morris Poet Laureate of Freemasonry

(This poem, written in August, 1854, is the most popular Masonic Poem of all time.)

We meet upon the Level and we part upon the Square.
What words of precious meaning, those words Masonic are!
Come, let us contemplate them! They are worthy of a thought;
In the very walls of Masonry the sentiment is wrought.

We meet upon the Level, though from every station come,
The rich man from his palace and the poor man from his home;
For the rich must leave his wealth and state outside the Mason's door,
And the poor man finds his best respect upon the Checkered Floor.

We act upon the Plumb - 'tis the orders of our Guide.
We walk upright in virtue's way and lean to neither side;
The All-Seeing Eye that reads our hearts doth bear us witness true
That we still try to honor God and give each man his due.

We part upon the Square, for the world must have its due;
We mingle with the multitude, a faithful band and true.
But the influence of our gatherings in memory is green,
And we long upon the Level to renew the happy scene.

There's a world where all are equal - we are hurrying toward it fast,
We shall meet upon the Level there when the gates of Death are past;
We shall stand before the Orient, and our Master will be there
To try the blocks we offer with His own unerring Square.

We shall meet upon the Level there, but never thence depart.
There's a Mansion - 'tis all ready for each trusting, faithful heart.
There's a Mansion, and a welcome, and a multitude is there
Who have met upon the Level and been tried upon the Square.

Let us meet upon the Level, then while laboring patient here;
Let us meet and let us labor, though the labor be severe;
Already in the Western sky the signs bid us prepare
To gather up our Working Tools and part upon the Square.

Hands round, ye faithful Brotherhood, the bright fraternal Chain.
We part upon the Square below to meet in Heaven again!
What words of precious meaning, those words Masonic are --
We meet upon the Level and we part upon the square.
This poem has been reproduced without permission from "The Freemasons" page on 'Facebook'

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Is Corruption in India *the problem* ?

I have been pondering on the hot topic of debate these days. Thanks to Kejriwal,A and Hazare,A who have brought it to the limelight. I am not a student of political theory nor a qualified political theorist. This is an amateur and perhaps layman view of the state of affairs as I see it.

The political purpose of a nation, primarily is to define its geopolitical boundaries and therefore "own" land. The land endorsed by the nation is thereafter leased to individuals who are the primary citizens. Others who are permitted to dwell within these land perimeters are residents who may be guests or refugees or citizens themselves. For this, each citizen pays a conglomerate of governing bodies (read: municipality, local government diplomats, state government, central government, government authorized regulatory bodies) for the privilege of being allowed to dwell in the land. 

As there are truly no other rights other than the permission to dwell, a constitution and legal code is drafted to control every living activity [communication, exchange of goods, cooperative tasking, commuting... ] of the residents. This is merely one of the instruments of regulation. As these rights are entirely secondary to the primary right of dwelling in a nation, their enforcement and regulation is purely on theoretical, humanitarian/moral grounds and an attempt to ensure that the security of the residents is guaranteed so long as they *pay* for this service.

Governments are therefore, in-effect "Real Estate as a Service." No one other than this government owns "land", but merely has a lease that lasts for a finite period of time. This is the very premise that is attacked by subversive or underworld or underground (non-governmental or anti-governmental) organizations or units who attempt to take ownership of land.

Therefore, the primary machinery for the Government in offering security to ensure these "promised" rights to the residents is the Military. All other Civilian bodies are "value-additions" and not requisites.

As this is the primary source of revenue (and all else is secondary), the root of subversive governance or the underworld or organized crime (as it is sometime referred to) is primarily linked to controlling the ownership of "land" and secondly the right to reside securely without sustaining injury.

Likewise, the underworld also operates by controlling ownership of land, residence within the land (even without the approval of governing bodies), security and business of the residents. Subverting the government they also collect their crudely organized *taxes* from the residents with the promise of guaranteeing the above.

The Government makes a *promise* of guaranteeing the above-listed rights in return for Taxes that are supposedly structured. The Underworld makes a *promise* of guaranteeing the same rights. Between the Government and the (supposedly unstructured) Underworld, there is a race to control territory. This is a battle that has raged for centuries and will continue. If the Underworld prevails, then whatever is named governance fails, and becomes less & less structured.

Whenever the underworld gains the upper-hand, they further subvert the governing bodies by replacing key personnel or diplomats or officials with their own people. These people start melding or merging the fund-flow to the underworld and the government, often favoring whoever put them in-charge. It automatically follows that government officials properly appointed try to favor the government, while subversives favor the unofficial controllers of rights [or underworld.]

Whenever the subversives become part of the government or officials of governing bodies favor the underworld in return for either basic security and safety and rights to residence (which the governing body fails to control) they create a underground economy becoming intermediaries who pay high-value low-volume transactions to the real controllers of the rights. If the real controllers of the rights are not the governmental officials, this amount they pay (in few transactions) needs to be routed from different channels. Hence they create a system to collect it in return for providing "their services" as government officials or subverts to the public.

Governmental bodies usually exert power over most small officials. Hence the tax is not completely removed. This ends up with citizens paying two different fees for the same services. The first being the tax of the governmental body. The second often referred to as the "bribe" to the subversive body.

Once the subversives take control of more "land" and consequently the land offering them other resources, they slowly grow into high-net-worth-individuals (HNIs). This slowly pushes them up the ladder to begin controlling large resources and becoming impossible for the government to get rid of them. They finally end up becoming part of the government or getting linked to high-ranking officials within the government. They too have maintenance costs for their deals that are underground (as we might term them.)

At one point, the old monarchy or dynasty is recreated following unequal distribution of wealth. Inherited wealth becomes legally permitted and laws to prevent large land ownerships (land-ceilings) become ineffective or are sometimes erased through legal process. The entire political landscape is riddled with people related to each other, either by blood or as business partners in an underground/government-subverting ventures. Slowly the political ambitions of the entire machinery controlling the "land" of a nation is guided by this select few, who due to high-net-worth become very powerful.

This problem cannot be eliminated by communism or nationalism or hypothetical benevolent dictatorships or military regimes or any such alternatives. This is because all of the listed ones including communism or nationalism also have economic systems where tangible low-value high-volume transactions through currency are limited by exercising additional powers of the government. If the government has already been taken over by subversives, all such measures, including solutions like the Lok Pal will end up as a farce.

Fundamentally, the premise of governance on the basis of morality is not soundly based on the core biological goals of evolution ("survival of the fittest.") Hence organizations like the UN or the Geneva Convention or NATO or the Non-Aligned Movement are examples of major failures in attempting to enforce cooperative solutions across multiple nation-state boundaries.

Can human beings develop true empathy? Can human beings truly rid themselves of instinctive actions and base their actions only on logic? Is morality logical? These questions have already been answered in the negative. Plato's dialogues were the start, while philosophical treatises like Tractatus build a strong basis that philosophy too is built on mathematical principles.

Summarizing my thoughts and structure, democracy - or representative democracy is a farce. Human beings when put in high-density residences with limited resource availability are incapable of escaping their instinct in majority. While "hope" alone floats, scientifically it is unsound to support rebellions to create morality driven governance models. Thousands of leaders have failed in such attempts and have always left no successors as they were the exceptional few who could beat the instincts, but not the majority.

If you think corruption is a problem, you are looking at the wrong issue. The whole world is suffering from a malady of population-explosion induced disregard for morality/humanitarianism. This malady is growing. It has been historically demonstrated that a general decrease in world population has always led to better governance and socio-economic and political enforcement of such values. This is a bitter answer and hard to believe.

The worst part is that, unless induced by a natural or man-made disaster that drastically decreases world population (of humans especially,) any other benevolent attempt to reduce population and population-density will be blocked by the subversive governing officials/individuals who also include politicians. Pushing my solution further, if you want change, we need world-war-3. It is a very dangerous risk that may even put the survival of our species in dire straits, but is perhaps the cheapest risk we can take to rid ourselves of the primary maladies of bad-governance and corruption.

My earlier opinions were that the world was filled with complex problems with no solutions as the problems became too inder-dependent and entangled. Now I realize that the fundamental woes of humanity are being decided biologically by evolution which, by promoting survival of the fittest, promotes the haves against the "have not"s.

Population of the world is the more critical problem, and India being the second most populous is facing the woes sooner than the rest of the world. Corruption is not a malady, but a mere side-effect of several sociopolitical and tribal traits that humans have inherited over thousands of years. Comparisons with 'China' on their present success rate can easily be disillusioned by illustrating the collapse of the erstwhile Soviet Union. No major nation-state has survived to be large enough in terms of population, area and population-density. We could easily conclude that China's growth as it is being exhibited to the rest of the world is akin to the growth of the USSR with the people behind the iron curtain. This is clear demonstration of putting the nation/government/'land'-regulator ahead of the individual. Despite the fact that this is a sad state of affairs, the number of those who have benefited by these discrepancies is high enough to even conclude that corruption works positively in an economy.

I apologize to greater thinkers like Amartya Sen who have postulated the opposite. I have strong reasons to believe my views reflect the sombre reality of today.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

The debate over Functional Programming

Yesterday, I attended the "Centenary of Turing Talks" Talk[4] at Persistent/Pune. After introducing Robert Milner's work, the objective was to decide whether _every_ programmer should learn functional programming. The debate, as with all human debates, digressed quite a bit. However the question remained unanswered. I am just giving an ardent attempt to answer this.

Details of the event are available at the following link:

Summarizing the discussion and the points that were raised:
  1. Functional programming is a better abstraction and helps in thinking more about what 'needs to be' or what will be 'what is' ('is-ness' as Prof.Modi mentioned.)
  2. The best place to start learning Functional Programming would be Erlang or Haskell'98 (as Dr.Anuradha mentioned.)
  3. Starting out with monads and trying to run away from 'typed' variants is not recommended for those who are first stepping out into functional programming. (Dr. Anuradha) - (I have done this mistake, so I know this is true.)
  4. You could opt to write 'C Programs' with functional abstractions and Object-Oriented concepts like polymorphism. You could even do this with Assembly language - but that would be too cumbersome if a functional programming language already exists. (Prof. Modi) 

Everyone on the panel or otherwise knew functional programming and also knew that it doesn't get used in production.
  1. The reason functional programming gets lesser attention is the lack of digital infrastructure to support it.
  2. The "Harvard Architecture" in the market essentially assumes sequential code execution, thanks to Alan Turing's early papers. Hence concurrency is also another blocker as the architecture hasn't been rewritten to help that happen - not entirely mathematically despite the fact we have parallel processing, multicore computing happening.
  3. People start learning an "Imperative" language like "C" or "Pascal" or "Fortran" to begin with. Hence they get fewer opportunities that coax them to try out or spend time on functional programming.
  4. The switch usually has to be made at the cost of non-office times for a professional programmer, which leaves a shorter percent of time allocated towards it which is another factor that discourages people.
  5. Most people without a strong theoretical background in computer-science find it difficult to understand Object-Oriented Programming ... making Functional Programming more fringe. 
  6. Deterministic problems are seldom solved (in general practice) with functional programming as Structured programs are easier to verify and prove to be theoretically correct.

Thanks to more discouraging infrastructure factors to the more recent ideas of Functional Programming, Object-Orientation fused with Functional Programming; the 1967 creation of K&R lives on even today in production.

Recommended Reading

For Programmers you can find companies like:
who have a motto to do all their work exclusively on functional programming.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Spires Afire

The Theme of the week ending today, at least to me, is 'Fire'.

At home, Mom and Dad experienced a Fire; which happened thankfully in their absence. The Emergency Fire Service department took a certain sum of money whose volume was equivalent to the Drachmas paid to receive the words of the Oracle at Sybilla. This is beyond the taxes. Thanks to their concerned and careful operation, the entire floor where the "smoke" came from had to be repainted. Three faulty equipment and one electric board were replaced.

The object that started the fire was an alarm installed internally whose objective was to alert everyone that the State provided 'Electricity' (something more precious than water or food) is available - and inverters can be switched to charge, generator-sets can be switched off.

- Electricity is to be provided to the citizens of the state at a continuous uninterrupted basis by the power distribution networks endorsed by the state. Yet it is dispensed in a controlled manner, especially in Tamil Nadu in a controlled manner, ensuring that not more than 11 hours of electricity are domestically available causing a major expense.

The solution is for people to stop relying on Governments and develop resilient communities.

- The Fire Service department is to report to the district municipality and ensure that fires are put off before they spread and cause serious damage to property, human life and livelihood. Yet, the very fact that they need to take a sum to cater to their expenses is evidence that they are improperly governed and inappropriately administered and opaquely financed through unknown means.

- The Central Government, the State Government and almost every piece of administrative machinery in our country is rife with incompetence which is much higher than corruption itself. Not only do they expect bribes, they never guarantee any service. Uncertainty and Chaos within the Indian context have defeated Chronos who spells extreme order.

As usual hope floats, but without action hope remains an insignificant floating buoy.

The solution is to start changing ourselves and the world immediately around us. If you walked over a road and you found a ditch, then you have every reason to have it corrected lest it cause injury to you or another fellow citizen passing by. Taxes are unnecessary as they are directly shipped to Swiss Bank accounts or perhaps stowed away in subterranean vaults. Civil services can be governed through community ventures - which must be formed with a clause that they will not reach a head-count larger than 200 (or a suitable number based on population density/demographics.)

Imagine an Aircraft pilot who never takes off on time, never lands on time, never lands at the announced destination on time ever, or sometimes is absent for duty. Imagine all Bus drivers, Train drivers and Cab drivers subject their availability to randomness and perform their duty only with chaos. A cab driver taking someone to the airport accidentally drops them at the railway station, but doesn't do amends. --- This is exactly how the politicians are running India. It is not very difficult to see that they never achieve the goals they set, nor the modes they set, nor the principles they promise, nor the people they promise, nor the morals they promise and so on. In a commercial enterprise where merit, value generation is the core item, these people will be replaced by competent people. However in politics, the ecosystem permits only the chaos-worshippers to participate.

Our Country is on Fire. It surely does have the potential to become a super-power. Yet it is on fire. We need to put out this fire (metaphorically the political-administrative-chaos that has persisted for the last decade almost...) but take care that we do not set other things on fire whilst doing so. It will take at least 10 times our daily effort today to get India back. Gathering at places and stating facts that politicians are corrupt and must not be re-elected ends up as a joke - as it finally inconveniences people - akin to a failed attempt to put off a fire, but damaging several other items.

Are we ready, as Indians, to put out this fire and set the nation right (or) are we /weakly/ bothered _only_ about our daily income, bread, roti-kapda-makaan schemes?

Changes are hard because they must begin small. Kejriwal or Anna Hazare or XYZ cannot start a new party that will be a panacea for all ills for the nation -nor- will they achieve much if they get elected. Ensuring that garbage gets dumped in a quarry and not a neighboring plot of disputed land is a small step. Respect to blue-collar employees who don't seem to deserve it is another step. Forgiveness to those who wrong us, for revenge destroys both the avenged and the avenger. Are we prepared to make the small, yet necessary changes? --- Remember, nothing, including life was formed in a Day. India cannot become a superpower in a day or on a day during 2020, it can gradually grow and keep growing unstoppably into a better place.

I am all for hypothetical idealistic Rama Raj with distributed power centers to disallow full dictatorships from ruining the nation. People's decision is more important than a bureaucrat or politician. It is now or never, for we have reached an inflection point.

In the future, we will need to start a war to destroy the forces acting against our own nation with high probability. But today, there still remains an option of peace. History tells me laziness always prevails over patriotism. .... Shamefully, I agree.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Three Wise Monkeys (dont: see, hear, speak +evil)

Three Wise Monkeys : Reexamining an Ancient Teaching
The proverb of the "Three Wise Monkeys" has existed for long. It is often interpreted as Them that (do not see, hear or speak) evil shall be spared the three Vajras. There is a connection to body, speech and mind made.

Here is what I fathom. This is what the original was supposed to say (and was lost in literary translation.) 

"Do not see what you are not supposed to see. Do not hear what you are not supposed to hear. Do not speak what you are not supposed to speak." 

If you read that verse you will understand that within itself lies the paradox. "How will you know what you should not see if you do not see that and know the cause of its abhorrence? Applying the same to the next two actions, unless I have at least heard once what I should not be hearing how can I filter that? Unless I know what people do not want to listen to, how can I not speak that?"

There is enough evidence that the 'Three Wise Monkeys' and the paradox of morality dates back to extremely ancient times. There are figurines dating back to the mother goddess times and later to the times of phallic deities with similar symbols that suggests that this has been at least from the beginning (or renewal) of the five-thousand year old super-civilization we are.

If you went to school in India, you definitely associate these with (Mahatma) Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (presently the "unofficial Paterfamilias of India.") These were gifted to him by a Chinese admirer who traced back 4th Century BC Confucianism to 8th Century BC philosophy that was prevalent in India (too much in India is wrapped up under the umbrella term Hinduism.) That helped it to make its way to our primary school text books and hopefully still exists on them today.

If you have read "My Experiments with Truth" (M K Gandhi) which is probably one of his best contributions - leaving the rest of the political dogma and controversies to vaporize as they have; the actual point being made is: "Find what is wrong, and the only way you can stop hearing/seeing/speaking it is by eliminating it, or by accepting it, until which time, you continue to address it."

Simplistic teaching for Rote Learning is helpful if you can recall what was learned in Rote and re-examine it at a later point in life. For this very reason Rote learning is unacceptable for higher education but preferable for learning if you are under the age of ten (10) - as we tend to remember lots of prose/poetry from under that age.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Urgency over efficiency - A cause of Stress

Human beings, irrespective of their profession have always been affected by trends from various echelons of society. Reading news articles, especially from Scientific sources that are on the lines of "We probably found the Higgs Boson" (ref: CERN press release today)  or "We have evidence of extraterrestrial microbial life" (ref: Mars Mission) has been quite frequent of late. Scientific method demands verification, the possibility of an antithesis and the dismissal of the antithesis based on facts or conjectures that can be repeated.

The new trend is not restricted to scientific articles, but also to Consumer Electronic products, the arena of Embedded Software Systems I work on. The pressure today is to deliver solutions to customers almost at 1/3rd the duration they were being delivered in the prior year.

This is a clear indicator of the aggressive motivation of growth. This "unhealthy" phenomenon is further exacerbated by economics seemingly inclining in favor of asymmetric or asymptotic growth patterns of material value generators in society.

In this world, where the everyday rush is not unlike a gold rush, it has a significantly "unhealthy" effect on both the perception of services provided and products delivered. A new acceptance of the 'incomplete' solution has began to dominate sectors including the automotive sector. Telecom companies have resorted to solutions like Android, where the (the core phone application is bound to restart, and is not as rigorously tested as prior.)

On the one hand we have a lot of momentum on increasing our awareness to the Environment and the Hazards we generate. Yet, the root cause of this lies in the want and the need to deliver ahead of the prior benchmark, oftentimes without sound reason or at times against reason.

Having been a hyper-workaholic, I can easily associate my habits with the work culture that has impinged our society. I have grown to understand that a calmer, consistent, measured and sound approach based on factual reasoning has a higher probability to succeed than a quick hack. This is something that has to be imbibed by entire companies as part of their culture and thereafter entire societies or groups of associated people.

An approach combined with commitment and the ability to reason and resolve the root cause of issues can benefit everyone in the long run and relieve several people in the chain of work from unnecessary stress. This also has to be done with the understanding that we, humans, are not machines, and have our biorhythms that are not always aligned with the day/night or a company's working hour routine. A solution that benefits both can easily be worked out considering that the result will always be a win-win.

I would personally be interested in hearing different thoughts on the same, especially on methods to curb the 'urgency' syndrome in the larger part of our responsibility to society and the environment itself.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Traffic, the Deccan Queen: Lessons for Life

Driving through Pune traffic has never been a pleasant experience. This would apply to almost every Indian city considering the absolute lack of civic sense and the value of patience among those who use the roads. This includes vehicle drivers, pedestrians and any type of commuter.

The concept of lanes seems abnormal as people try to get their vehicle into the nearest available slot of free space. The one shown on the wide enough to be an 8-lane highway, but definitely not accommodate the chaos that is visible. Unsurprisingly people changing lanes in their personal life too is not unusual.

The time at which the roads get used to their maximum is one element that lends to the chaos. In the morning you do find alert commuters, but impatient commuters who are willing to break any rule. Lanes are for changing or worse yet blurring. This concept escapes the mind of the otherwise intellectually savvy commuters. The time is not essentially imposed by Daytime or by fixed office-hours, but largely by a biorhythm that forces people to use the waking hours to do all their work.

Self disregard
The next picture shows a slightly less dense crowd, except for the fact that two wheelers and four wheelers are attempting to use the same algorithm to place themselves on the road. If you take a keener look at the picture, you would notice a majority of those using two-wheelers not using helmets. Once they reach a highway for commuting to a far away office or industrial park, this becomes extremely unsafe. One can then diagnose that this self disregard will show up in the way individuals handle their own lives to a great extent.

The two wheelers, being the highest statistically in any city in India, cause extreme chaos - the riders do get fatigued because of the same chaos which doesn't seem to rid itself.

I have learned a few lessons from the Traffic here, which transcends the traffic in itself. This chaos resulting from a blatant refusal to follow any road rules is a cyclic problem that is being infused in the Indian psyche. The solution can only come from homes, schools and as the new generation gets educated.

Enforcement in populations at the scale of India is difficult. If anyone believes that 'enforcement' will work, they are advocating 'dictatorship' for I have seen smaller scales of the same problem and have seen that 'enforcement' in most cases tends to be dictatorship as all enforcers cannot be trained to follow a benevolent system.

Lack of Public Transport
The primary cause of the problem is the lack of proper public transport. Most Industries and Information Technology companies have created their own solution to transport which is an added cost to their operation. However tax free, their operations might be, this burden is borne additionally by the Employer and the Employee. In India Governance is a mere farce where the complexity of issues renders it impossible for anyone to attempt to effect changes to simplify and streamline systems. However, introducing public transport and preventing private vehicles from taking on the road cannot be a solution that would be rolled out in a day. This leads to delay in implementation. Every second of the delay results in the problem from becoming larger than it was prior. Postponement always makes the problem tougher rendering sense to Einstein's statement "A problem cannot be solved at the level at which it was created."

Lack of Personal Safety Concerns
In the land where human life is aplenty, the concern for human life itself becomes reduced. Worse yet, this problem resembles a "resource availability" problem. If a resource becomes plenty, its inherent valuation decreases. Hence each person cares much less for their own safety and almost naught for the safety of the rest of the populace. This is a huge issue.

Culture Shock
India, especially in cities like Pune is witnessing a transition from what is actually Indian culture derived from the days of the "British Raj" (colonial period) to present day Western Independent and Free-Thinking Culture. India has been existing with its cultural nuances for at least a thousand years and removing the cultural roots seems impossible. Hence the resultant culture shock is also absorbed with a sense of confusion. This is later displayed in every situation - "customer service", "bean counters", "queues", "stranger interaction" where the basic human psyche is so confused that people now identify themselves by language, geography, similitude but seldom relate to each other as human.

Lack of Self Management
What is often described as "Time Management" is truly Self-Management. This is one of the key necessities of any population transcending into a highly productive value group. Unfortunately, the culture shock and the 'chaos' of the plenty results in blatant disregard for others. This shows up as poor time management. The simplest test is to find out why something was late. The answer is usually that there was an external influence to blame on which the person or persons responsible had no control. This grows in complexity and ends up slowly as a huge disregard to self in various aspects of life that become visible slowly.

The fraction of the population who identify the problems and work towards pulling themselves out of these are kept down by the inertia of a system of massive proportions. This goes on to such an extent, that Aldus Huxley's "Brave New World" or a similar system might even work for a high-population environment like India.

The Nature of Traffic :: State of Society :: Chaos here
Chaos everywhere (evident in the nature of traffic), is the price we pay for the level of Freedom which we experience. Civic "conditioning", sometimes referred to as better civic-sense is in every sense another form of "Big Brother" control. Cooperative tasking in a large scale is possibly most difficult to achieve. That leaves India and China as the few countries who are experiencing a problem to which the world will soon be introduced to aplenty.

Here we are, with understanding of an issue that envelopes us and is easily visible in our daily life.

Will we get better or wait for a rather bitter event of rapid population decrease resulting from natural or unnatural circumstances to address and resolve these issues?

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Social Networks and Tabbed Browsing

All of us browse the net using browsers which support multiple tabs for our convenience if not the Operating System's at the very least. Microsoft who tried to disagree finally was forced to provide a feature that was definitely something that was required - I hope know one patents that!

At this point the same social networks Google Plus, Google Mail [another chat client], Facebook, Orkut all have an in-browser chat client that pops up. To make matters worse, you can add Skype's website too without the standalone client and try out their pop-up. Need I tell you that there's tons more you can get to which have their own chat environment that keeps popping up!

Promoters of all the above products have forgotten what a user can/cannot do when all these simultaneous windows go up with people chatting - especially with a different number of people just saying hi on all of the tabs.

Open one more Google+ or Facebook tab, the problem gets more complicated. This is well known. The creators of these social networks use each others networks to gauge competition if not connect. Why then has this set of issues not yet been fixed?

None of these can co-exist, nor can 1,2,3 coexist at any point.
  1. Multiple Tabs with Different Social Networks and Popup chat enabled
  2. Multiple Tabs with the same Social Network and Popup chat enabled
  3. Third Party website with multiple Social Network chat enabled through a client in Multiple Tabs
Lack of cooperating with your competition to deliver your customer the best in class result is one thing. But not adding a feature that is superfluous enough not to disturb the user by "default" (yes: default) and not switching it on whenever the multiple tab situation is present is just plain customer agnostic bitchy networks. No wonder GM pulled out ads and who knows who else pulled out their ad campaigns which were obviously not properly targeting.

Wait, when was the last time I clicked through to a useful thing in a social network advertisement? I've never done it in that. -- That should speak volumes about "sponsored/highlighted updates" et al. I am not nitpicking at one social network, but "the social network" coz everyone else ends up copying them - however intuitive the copying might be.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Mechanix - Bikes

Here's how you assemble the first bike using the Mechanix set. This is for a special kid to check it out and work it.
Step 1: Create the main chassis, this is probably easiest.

 Step 2: The Front Wheel Fork Assembbly

 Step 3: The Rear Wheel assembly is also similarly affixed.

 Step 4: Add the Seat assembly - It is not time to worry about balance which might be a tough thing.
 Step 5: Fixing the Handle-bar.

 Step 6: Affix the balance rods for the rear, this is more of style than function

Step 7: The Wheels are not too easy to add. As soon as you are finished, it is best to create a solution to keep it balanced. 

At the end you have something that's a bike. The reason I write this is because the Toy maker forgot that a bike needs to be balanced. This felt tougher than the big Meccano sets I'd love to have.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

I Warn You

I live an ordinary human (life), with an ordinary home, with ordinary parents who have done extraordinary things in their lives to save hundreds of thousands of lives, as my Dad has been in medical service (service: a word that has been lost in the vices of commercial capitalist greed.)

Today, he himself has reached an almost dangerous situation requiring serious medical attention. It was because of no power - we do have inverters, in fact the most number for a house. But, they could not hold for over 9 hours of cut after cut after cut.

Who will be responsible if he fell in his own house, in his own toilet he keeps cleaner than the keyboard I type on? I have enemies. He has enemies. He is a man of science. I am. Yet, I am a superstitious man.

If a hair were to fall from him, if he were to even have the semblance of a slip ever again, if he were to feel as if he had another moment of pain, if his mind were to suffer on account of anything that nature would bring --- I will hold (his) brothers, sisters and everyone I see as enemies accountable - and all of the lives he has saved. I shall ensure a swift reality check, for I prophecize no more. Enough said. I am an ordinary creation, I have my limits and the beyond. Yet, you push me beyond my limits.

Even amongst friends there are those who are enemies - mithra-shathru -- one was with me last evening. To you and to those who read this blog, day-in and day-out I say, feel your heart beating, feel your breath - remember all that made it possible. Remember the lies you ever told with your serpentine tongues, Remember the minds you poisoned, Remember your gossips, Remember your vanity, your pride, your greed.

You all sleep safe in bed, as He insofar restrained me, teaches me that mankind is good, shows me what true affection means through himself and in more ways. He offers himself as a lamb for the slaughter, even if he were to go forth and succumb. He still shows me all the kindness humanity can be. If he returns to his seat among the seventh of the seven, than I shall be unleashed. He has returned - what am I to make of it?

Be it power cuts at midnight, bad governance, taxation laws, geomagnetic fluctuations, coronal mass ejections, pollution, bad roads, people suffering for the greed of the 'few' - I hold all society of this town, this state, this country, this world, this star, this galaxy, this cluster, this universe - responsible. I did not vote for any ruling government, so in the words of (Tamil poet) Bharathiyar - one man's bane - I am Samael - Wrath of God. I also hear God, Samuel is my good side.

Those enemies of mine who read my blog so regularly, I thank you for your healthy readership - look left, look right, look front, look behind, _I_ am watching and waiting. If not for him you would not exist. Mankind is but one more animal, a machine of nature and can be wiped out quite naturally, a rather favorable thing is isn't it not, for Gaia - mother earth.

I am an ordinary man. Forgiveness is divine. Alas, I am not divine. Remember every human who has suffered inexplicable death - I shall have my vengeance, in this universe or the next. I shall have it for sure. I warn you. You have quaint ideas of creation, I know you. I see you.

I found the chains, your voodoo, your idolatry, your adultery, your evil - I am freed now, I will eternally be. Remember, there is no El Diabolos, only the curse of Cain that remains in vain as a human stain. Many will be called, only few chosen, yet who will be left? Your new stone might be your tombstone. I HAVE SEEN YOU. You have understood the greatness of rising from death, have you not? But it takes more than the five of it, or five, or the one way that held you.

Abaddon never unleashes Leviathan unless He is to command open the last of all seals. You see me each day to your front, to your left, behind you, to your right - for directions you cannot escape from. You don't even know the face of me, how will you know me? I am seraph, I am fire, I cannot burn, nor can I quench, nor can I be blinded, for I am the element. Watch your step for I never slumber. The Nephilim must never have been, only the Elohim, not even the Menachshim, nor even them that watch over. They have been vanquished.

This Judaic lore teaches a few friends and enemies, how nice it is to be cunning linguists of twisted mind, to stab in the back and smile in front. I see you.

Peace - Jedidah - the Prince of Peace - at least I hope you know the import of that name.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Sachin "Ton"dulkar - How long did it take the Little Master?

Sachin Tendulkar enjoying the Bliss of a Century of Centuries
Sachin Tendulkar has always tried to keep out of the record books, but his genius has always dictated otherwise. While everyone has been cribbing that this was too long drawn - Mar 12, 2011 and now Mar 16, 2011 for the 100th Century ever in International Cricket - These statistics are astronomical - no Human has even got close enough.

The image of Sachin here is from the "Sydney Morning Herald" dated 17-March-2011 and  has been 'touched' by an iPad.

The above is a Google mash-up. We don't complete our data visualizations here, let's take a look at where he actually scored these centuries! For those who've been crying sour over his achievement, that it took "decades", consistency, commitment, spirit, battling a tennis-elbow among other injuries, the man has just shown what "human" can be. It is up to us to imbibe the spirit with which he achieved all over the world, the feat he has.

He is still hungry for matches, hungry to play and all the skeptics can bray and bray, but the Little Master will keep making the day.

This doesn't make you guess too much - it's just the cricket crazy nations with one strange exception 'Namibia' in what was a match of singular nature.

This is also a demonstration of Google's data analytic "Fusion Tables" tool which you should try out if you have not already.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Unpredictable Wind Power: No help to Power Cuts

The daily power-cut status changed as Wind Power changed the schedules for one day. Wind power showed how undependable it is, as two days of wind, and then a lull starved the grid almost immediately.

Sun 4 Mar 2012 - Sat 10 Mar 2012 (Thanjavur, TN, India)
Wind power in this part of the Indian peninsula has been undependable. Even monsoon winds have not been predicted with sufficient accuracy, hence usage of wind during non-monsoonal periods for energy would be the last possible resort and subject to randomness as we have not yet modeled it.