Monday, 30 January 2012

Expression on the Internet

The Internet today is a distributed medium enabling free expression worldwide. Freedom of Expression is under threat by measures of Censorship initiated across Nations.

Quoting William Blake, "Everything that lives, Lives not alone, nor for itself." Humans like to express opinions to others. If we observe or listen, we may respond at least in thought. Communication is also an essential means for survival. Hence, increasing the number of media of expression is to our advantage. Erroneous content and falsified content also exists within media.

Nothing we see, hear or experience is verified individually or by groups. Verification is the realm of "Scientific Method." Objectionable material, to individuals [breaching privacy] has existed for long. What is Gossip, if not privacy intrusion? Erroneous and Objectionable material is found in all media.

Creation of the free world began with tolerance and permissiveness of expression. The Renaissance was rebirth of freedom of expression. It spread across the world during an era of trade and colonialism. The Individual became more magnified in society than ever before after renaissance brought more freedom of expression. Freedom to elect governance, gender freedom, educational freedom followed and are still in a stage of growth.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Acer Iconia Tab A200 Review

Without a 3G/GPRS, and only WiFi connectivity, it seems ideally suited for environments like schools and colleges. It is pricey, but it is feature rich in every aspect.

It has no more than what it takes to have a tablet that is purely WiFi, doesn't need operator tethering and is by far one of the best Android devices ever. Better yet, there is a rumor that Ice Cream Sandwich will ship or be provided as immediate updates to those who go for it.

The price point and the features (considering the lack of the phone) make it very attractive.

Tablet Review [Template designed by "Sunil Beta", Sources: and lots more.]
With multi-touch enabled they could have experimented with a Stylus, though it isn't too common. This is fully Google App Market compatible.

For a Higher Resolution version, you should just [ Click Here. ]

Monday, 23 January 2012

Human Learning

I have been reading recent articles debating that the earliest Homo Sapien fossil over 1.5 Million years old, contrary to popular assumption. The most intact one dates back to almost 30,000 years ago. New evidence seems to point to the fact that we lived alongside several other members of Homonidae and Australopethicus including some ancestral species who did not evolve into newer species.

For Administrators, Lecturers, Students and Teachers who believe that the capacity of the Human Brain to learn and understand is variant across different people, I have created a presentation clearly showing that the physiological capacity is (almost equally) existent for all humans, but behavioral aspects may influence styles or patterns of learning - and the perceptions of a need to learn.

Learning and therefore Education itself has to undergo the next revolution. The Institutions that are Schools and Colleges today will have to progress and permit learning-from-home, apprenticeship, certification reducing the need for too much infrastructure. This is to allow everyone choose their own patterns of learning and consulting authorities. At the same time, the infrastructure required is only going to increase, but its usage collectively or in volume is going to be less regular - in the interest of propagating actual Skills and Knowledge.

Here is the presentation for Download [FilesFlash]
Human Learning.pptx - 4.61 MB (Use Microsoft PowerPoint 2003 or Higher for Best Experience)

For a better experience in reading the presentation, you could read my prior blog entry on the "Ascent of Man" which has an infographic which shows the scholarly accepted dates for several evolutionary events specific to Humans.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Succouring Satanic Verses

[ Jaipur Literary Festival, India ]
This January, at the Jaipur Literary film festival 2012, Salman Rushdie is not permitted to visit. More distressing is the fact that ambiguous concerns [police investigating public reading of the work] fueling fear led Hari Kunzru, Amitava Kumar, Jeet Thayil and Rushir Joshi to take the exit before the festival could start. All this ruckus has turned our attention away from the "Literary" part of the festival and instead shifted our focus toward 'freedom of expression' and 'human rights' of individuals.

[ The Tolerant India ]
Historically, India has been the least totalitarian or extremist. We have tried not to ban books on account of content even if it were against a majority.  However, due to a complex mix of population, India has always been careful to listen to the requests of minority groups and ban works hoping that the sentiments of the minority will not be insulted. In truth, the populace of India, who are probably not very literate and definitely not very well read - and have never read works like 'Satanic Verses' merely react to the opinions and orders of another individual who does "moral" and to a certain extent 'philosophical' policing.

Friday, 20 January 2012

A message to Advocates against Corruption

(corruption index from 2010 ref:
It is true that corruption, bribes and inefficient governance have been the bane of India as it transitioned to a Republic. In the last five decades of independence, our growth has been stalled, primarily due to several internal factors. Corruption - the illegal use of office to build one's own wealth or empower the treasury is deeply rooted in history.

So here are some quotes on 'Governance' from the Arthashastra, written by Kautilya (translated, edited, published by L N Rangarajan {pp. 269 - 274} ) with the original written work dating to 150 CE, related to the Mauryan empire (c. 321 BCE - 185 BCE ). This work differs from an earlier translation by Kangle, which is more literal and does not attempt to add context to pronouns. Chanakyan, was synonymously used later with Machiavellian originally. This alternate name was born much later according to research. It is generally presumed that Kautilya and Chanakya are aliases.

Here are some sections, cut from the book for the enlightenment of the Reader.

"Special Levies, Taxes and Collections"

A King, who finds himself in great financial difficulty, may collect [additional] revenue [using the methods described below]. {5.2.1}

On Farmers - usually requiring them to pay a third of their produce as tax or a varied proportion as the King may decree.

Force Compulsory Purchase - making the Government earn money on what the people may not want to buy especially in terms of food grains.

Levies on Merchants, Craftsmen and Professionals - Actors, Courtesans - 50% of their revenue, Fixed levies on Precious Gems, Precious Metals, other Liquids and Metals, Traders, Commodities like wood. 

Levies on Livestock Owners - for Cows, 10%, Small Animals, 16%, Cocks and Pigeons 50%
Miscellaneous - Prostitution being legal, Brothel owners shall on command of the King, send the youngest and most beautiful to collect additional revenue*.

Voluntary Contributions - All the Wealthy shall give as much of their wealth as feasible as the King demands.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

The Element of Fire

Fire, especially at Night - and a Campfire is so beautiful and dazzling, you love to keep your eyes at it, and you enjoy being near it when its cold. Lighting one in the modern day is rather easy, but fire-light in the camp, as it dances, waxes and wanes and lets in the star-light, is most beautiful - and yet by nature burns you if you're too close.

Camp Fire by  Beta (beta)) on
Camp Fire by Beta

Click to view it in high-resolution, I am no ace photographer, so this is one of my good clicks. 

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Free for Freedom

The US Congress would like to pass two laws, SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Internet Privacy Act). Officially these acts are to prevent Internet Identity Theft and Security Theft on the Internet of various kinds. In reality, this gives more teeth to harm the privacy of Individuals in the name of increasing security and stopping piracy.

Piracy on the Internet is not tackled correctly fundamentally due to the lack of strong business models to distribute content (that eventually gets pirated.) Apple iTunes Store already demonstrated that a viable model for content delivery will work. To follow suit, Amazon Kindle users can avail special library membership options to get access to multiple works for reasonable periods of time that facilitate reading. You don't have to go around buying (a copy of) everything you want to read.The hardware locks and software locks have always been broken when they have not been built on sound technology.

In addition Countries like India are contemplating laws which permit prosecution of the 'Content Delivery Network' rather than the 'Content Creator', forcing the Content Delivery Network to enforce strong censorship, lacking which they are targeted with fines. This is definitely in response to the acts that are being considered in the US Congress. Although part of the Internet was created as ARPANET, CERN also contributed heavily and there is much European involvement in the history of the Internet.

Today, the architecture of the Internet serves global communication infrastructure to all countries hooked on to it. China's attempts at building their own alternatives to everything 'search', 'social network', 'messaging services', 'e-mail' to create a monitored and walled cyberspace has not been successful, but has been a strong deterrent to free speech to several whose opinion is not aligned with the official People's Republic of China.

USA is undoubtedly a guardian of Democracy in the modern world, and despite their control of the press have always allowed for free thought and expression on a scale higher than average. They haven't been on top though in giving full freedom. However, concerns of MPIAA and RIAA turned to anti-piracy laws and led to the creation of DRM 3.0 which resulted in the consumer/user rights being fully restricted.

Imagine a world where the Government can always throw you out of your house if they wish to and do it legally. Imagine a world where the government can burn down what you have built under pretext that it does not fit their legal precedences. Imagine a world where people can disappear for having spoken against the laws of the government. Imagine a world where our property including books and equipment can be confiscated because they have or can cause alleged harm to the government. Imagine teenagers being slapped $500,000 - $1.5M in fines because they downloaded pirated movies or given prison sentences in addition. This is already happening to a certain extent, and would perhaps be further enabled. "Fear" will become the new tool of governance of the Internet, not reason - and that is precisely what everyone must stop.

Hence let's do our part to try and stop SOPA, stop everything that threatens freedom, freedom of expression in particular. Most lawmakers do not understanding electronic media - their ignorance is prevalent because they come from an alternate generation, and those that are knowledgeable thirst for control when they are close to power, for control and power are almost synonymous in this day and age.

Freedom as we know it ought to exist, and never deter anyone from expressing themselves. If one person injures another, there are laws for those individuals to address it judicially and legally. There is no need for the Governments to add laws to snoop into everyone. We do not want the East German STASI resurrected under a different name. For every intrusion starts with a small peek, and then ends up in much much more. We have come a long way from the Inquisition and no longer need be bothered about heresy. If a group of people feel insulted, they have but to stop reading and spreading the word they do not want to be read. They may publish alternate works to express their points of view, but never burn the expression that is in opposition to them.

Freedom isn't free, but the whole world paid in blood in the 20th Century to earn its freedom. We do not want to lose it for gaining it will be a painful struggle and set us back in future.

Security: Strong Passwords

With Identity Theft and Information Security being compromised in several instances in the recent past, users of the Internet and Electronic Digital Services have a duty to improve the quality of the passwords, the keys to their Digital Real Estate. Here's a nice infographic (src: ) which shows how to get it stronger, and why it isn't strong at the moment.

Click to View Full Image in Picasa
Let's at least keep our doors locked properly and not provide a walk-in to Internet thieves. We owe at least this much to our 'digital' selves.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Bitching, Gossip and Politicking

Whilst working in India, I notice that in several semi-urban Companies/Organizations, a large percentage of time is spent in gossip, politicking and bitching (blaming a third person who is not present) in a conversation.

This habit of gossip and politicking stems from the fact that we are a native populace who are over a millennium old at the very least - even the migrants among us. We have enjoyed large reserves of food, and long periods of time to kill - and during this time, as part of a social structuring exercise much time has been spent in gossip and politicking as means of reworking social structure. Early evidence of such politicking is evident in historic annals of the Nanda Dynasty (which destroyed the Gana Sanghs of the Gangetic Plain and gained strong control) and had many achievements but eventually fell to a more actionable successor - the Mauryas led by a strategic expert 'Kautilya'.

Today, Companies & Organizations where people get too comfortable because they are blindly trusted by their superiors or management end up having a lot of politicking and gossip. If a leader does not see this and leaves it unattended, providing time and opportunity for politicking to continue, this negative culture erodes the entire organization and effectually decreases or neutralizes productivity. Slowly, the Company (or Organization) marches towards certain extinction until a point where even a Turnaround Leader (like a Lee Iaccoca) can no longer make amends. This culture usually stems from people who earn strong trust, but continue to feel insecure despite that deep trust. The worst type of leader in an organization is the 'yes-man' who never tells facts and contradicts management/investor/stakeholder's requests. They always say 'yes' when it is the top-boss/investor asking for some result and then try, but eventually fail when it is physically impossible. Slowly the rot of politicking erodes the organization like the termites of Saruman (frm: LOTR) and leaves everyone's morale in a low, also spreading mass stress usually combined with indifference and depression.

If you are inside a company where your boss pretends that factual reality is wrong and relies on perspectives of some individual on whom she has invested all her trust, it is a sign that you ought to leave. This is the true manifestation of 'Maya' (as Indian Philosophy calls gnosticism.) There is little to be done after the decision-maker is swayed by the virtuosity created by her trustworthy lieutenant. The one thing you can do is to leave the organization without scruple, for the repairing the damage is no longer in your hand. Unless you can bring your boss back to reality and see beyond the veil created by the trustworthy lieutenant who is creating the virtual realm and simultaneously harming the organization, there is not much to do; except if you believe in revolt. Switch to an company or organization where people spend much less time blaming, in gossip, in politics and more time producing and attending to their customers.

If you are the one feeling insecure and creating the virtual world, stop and think. Eventually your hunger for control (which is the same as the hunger for power) and your assumptions (which were never based on fact) are about to bring the ship down. If you do not have true affection and concern for society and are feigning it, then you are about to see truth reflect on you - for it always triumphs, and "truth's triumph" doesn't mean that the resultant is sweet. The bitterness might leave an organization and its people in shambles. Provoking people and making them talk about a third person to feed your own egotist self is the best way to tear down morale and trust below you. Finally no one will respect you nor trust you - for this nasha (or madness) will be your own undoing of yourself - for you will find that true happiness will elude you and leave you in perpetual pain, (even if you were a sadomasochist.) 

You need help first, you need to understand that nature does not take kindly to those who eat into organizations into which they are most trusted by their bosses. Nature is strong and when it reflects on you - no human can save you, for you will be destroyed, not by people. The longer you continue, the stronger will be nature's backlash. The organization will turn unprofitable, revenue will be difficult, customers will be slim, employees will have no morale, no attachment - they will create smaller cycles of the same evil you do to others. 

Eventually all will fall, with no one to protect you, save Nature itself and the Omnipotent Creator. Save yourself and prevent it. Remember that this world changes almost instantly and only all the good you have done or have tried to do will be with you when you find dire straits - you can get back and undo the damage you have knowingly or unknowingly unleashed. Blame someone else when you have all the authority, time shall wear you down - for you shall continually find hell on earth and be accustomed to repeat your vices. Life is short to be wasted feeling hell.

When you look for a new job, check the employees about 'blame-games', 'finger-pointing', 'gossips', how they spend free time, actual profit/loss statements, achievements per unit time in the recent past and then invest your time in that company. 

Do not, in desperation join an environment that robs you of your sense of fulfillment and happiness because of a politicking marauder and a hyper-trusting top-boss. Real organizations will not work in binary/extremes. They will create balance and an environment for people to shine, not whine. Find this for it exists in the subcontinent, do not spend your career in a pained place where everyone is suffering and passing only the suffering on to employees and customers alike. Stay alert and try not to hurt anyone no matter what.

The 'Yes-man' will not exist in an organization where the Top-Boss listens and senses the environment with empathy and logic, thereby removing them and placing realistic achievers who achieve, yet never say 'yes' to every request. This is the best environment, where you will find mentors, not bitching/gossip/politicking - these environments exist for India is soaked in deep wisdom of its past. Finding them is also easy, it merely requires diligence.

Find them and escape those vices that can destroy you. Life is what we experience through time, and it is ill-news to waste it feeling pain. Life is to be relished, enjoyed every moment. Life is not a wave of joy and sorrow, it is ultimately what we feel and paradise is on earth, it is our response to the environment; and it is our choice to choose or create this environment where we find paradise and no pain. Mukthi and Nirvana is achieved on earth, for our great past has taught us much. Mere dressing-up and make-up will never have true results. Mere talking will never help for your identity is derived from what you do; "you are what you do."

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Dawn at Parisutham Valley

You should actually refer to this as me waking up early, having my usual  black coffee and then figuring out that the WiFi was out, either someone was charging something, or it was out, that was immaterial - but now it

Today, there are two options, participate in the 'exciting' flag hunt or take off to take a look at the resort that someone has come up with nearby who's whereabouts don't seem exactly known. Insofar it has been decided that 'Senthil' (Jack of Clubs) drive them over, while I find a reason to stay back.

Sunrise should be happening as I write this, or should have happened already, but the dawn, not yet visible out here in the hill. The valley must be beautiful now, so I'm off to grab a few stock photographs. I should be back after this.

Dinesh has a bruise under his eye, swelling up quite visibly, and at least I am not carrying shades - being a spectacled phenomenon on my own.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Alexander the Great

This is a mindmap for those who have read Valerio Massimo Manfredi's trilogy on "Alexander the Great." All historical characters highlighted have been shown in the mindmap. This will serve to easily remember the names. A few characters including "Ada" have been omitted.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Ascent of Man

A Chronology on the "Ascent of Mankind"

Humankind, as we know ourselves have been on this planet for hundreds of thousands of years. Yet, our knowledge of the past is restricted. This infographic is to bring to perspective the state of civilization today and the ages that have already passed perhaps without record.

Dates for some events is speculative. The rise and fall of civilizations sometimes has happened with the merger of civilizations and has not been indicated. The prominent human-like species has been indicated. The debate on 'Homo Floresiensis' is still on. Some civilizations have been too short-lived to be indicated. Most civilizations depicted have at least risen to beyond 1000 cities for hundreds of years.

Fossil Evidence for the first Female Human ancestor (Mitochondrial Eve) is fairly accepted. Evidence for the first Male Human ancestor is still disputed.

All civilizations indicated have at least used Metal or Metallurgy (Iron/Bronze). Epics indicated are from the perspective of the Indian subcontinent, 'Troy' being the only exception. This has been done based on the influence of the prehistoric event that may have led to the birth of a legend. Dates for events are for occurrence and not documentation. Hence the evolution of writing or evidence of written material does not exist for most prehistoric events. Mesoamerican Civilization includes the Mayas, Incas, Olmecs, Nazcas and other ancient finds in that region.

This infographic is just to show that our history is merely a glimpse in the ages of the earth, and the vastness of life itself on earth ( to put it in perspective, Dinosaurs suffered a major extinction event about 65 million years ago - while this chronological infographic starts later than 5 million years ago.) This is a very simplified representation for quick and easy reading.

Click on the Image to view the graphic in high resolution.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Origins of Freemasonry

Click on the Image to read it in full. Contact me if there's trouble viewing this.

Freemasonry has often been speculated to be devil worship and has been subject to the gossip of society. However, the truth is the Freemasons strongly believe that the brotherhood of men is not as easily formed as it can be broken. Their aim is to preserve mankind as a civilization through all kinds of turmoil and disaster - political, natural, religious, social - and restore a system of morals.

It is noteworthy that Sir Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington - have all been Freemasons. Their have been great attempts to discredit the Freemasons, for most who are part of the brotherhood, do not know any of the greater secrets that are vested in them.

Yet, it is not true that the Freemasons harbor anything against the Church itself. The Vatican itself relies on an order, that remains secret, the Knights of Malta to protect itself from intrusion, and to prevent secret knowledge from being stolen.

The strongest arguments against freemasonry rests on the simple premise that a 'secret' is something to be hidden from society itself. As much as individuals exercise privacy, all clubs, companies and organizations have secrets.

As for the question of religion, Freemasonry preserves itself by presenting itself as Religion Agnostic. It is not the only secret order, nor was the only order available after the Templars. The Order of the Cross and the Crescent too, probably existed long before the Templars.

The above timeline is to give those interested in knowing Masonic history a few key dates and events that are closely associated with Freemasonry. The Deluge, being a  very important part has been given due importance. The Father of Syncretism, Akhenaten is not mentioned to avoid close linkage with the roots of Syncretist - particularly Christian-like religion.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Books to Read on "Software Project Management"

Books and Media to read for Project Management

A list of books with a tentative plan for reading them. The reading time is relative to my reading speed, it might vary for you.
NameAuthorISBNLinkDescriptionReading Time
"Microsoft Secrets"Michael Cusamano0684855313NILMicrosoft's Project Management Practices, they are quite strong and usable. The fundamental principles can be caught in a quick read2 days
"Software Engineering in Practice"Pankaj Jalote0201737213NILA book that tries to home in only on the Software Engineering aspects of Project Management. Does not contain the newest research by Michael Boehm1 day
"The Design of Design"Fred Essay on Project Management.1 hr
"Software Engineering - A Practitioner's Approach"Roger S Pressman0072853182NILThe Best book on "Software Project Management" until the 6th edition7 days
"CMM in Practice"Pankaj Jalote0201616262NILThis is an exclusive Project Management book that covers the CMM standard (and not the new PM-CMM). The newer edition has a description of Infosys' processes4 days
"Walk the Talk" (NDTV)featuring InfosysNILWalk The Tech TalkShows their project management work1.5 hrs
"The Mythical Man Month"Fred BrooksNIL0201835959The last revised edition has a "No Silver Bullet" essay. These are essentially criticisms on project management and are meant to be read after a book on project management is read.3 days
"I Sing the Body Electronic"Fred Moody0140176551a9/amazonLearning how to turn around a disaster, enCarta!2 days
"Project Management" for geeksAnonymousNILwikipediaFor the impatient and jumpy souls, this is what you should be reading.3 uSecs on 3GHz HTs
"Quality Software Project Management"Several81-7808-767-7NILFor the most comprehensive book on the subject.15 days