Wednesday, February 28, 2007

MindTree Gnanavriksha - A Learning Program

Today we had people from MindTree @ our campus to initiate their ambitious project called 'Gnanavriskha'. It’s an initiative in collaboration with icalibrator to further strengthen their learning relationship with the MindTree Minds (who are yet to join them). The beneficiaries of this project are around 20% of the total students recruited by MindTree this year. MindTree has chosen those colleges which are close to b'lore and where they can visit quite often. Our college happens to be one amongst those few chosen institutes, who have been included in this learning program.

What's in it for us?

1. Unlike other training programs, this isn't going to be a monotonous and one-way lecture delivery model of educating students. It’s going to be a great self learning program. It is what MindTree wants every MindTree mind to get adapted to, before joining the company. It's an attempt to get them ready to face the challenges in an IT industry.

2.Its a very unique modeling that MindTree has adopted, where in the students under this learning program would be divided in to 2 streams viz C and Java. (I have been allotted the Java stream). We would have access to the course material, which is basically a well tailored syllabus by some of the most eminent people of IT industry. It's going to be a learning-by-doing sort of program.

3. It gives students a golden opportunity to showcase their capabilities of taking up challenging projects and completing them on time.

4. It also gives students an opportunity to interact with some elite mentors, with 15+ years of industry experience. They would help the students in case they get stuck at any point in time. I am sure this is a very unique methodology that MindTree has adopted to ensure that students have an exposure to the toughest problems and also access to the 'best brains' of the IT industry.

5. Students can work from any place, which has an access to internet. They can then submit the assignments when they are done with it. Even though it's clearly stated that one can work at his 'own pace', they still have a projected time of completion for each module. I suppose that's what they want us to meet.

What's expected of us?

1. We are expected to devote at least 14 hrs of 'quality time' to this project every week. We would be asked to complete the assignments as soon as we finish a particular module. That's basically intended to hone one's coding skills and also test how better one can implement what one learns.

2. All those who have registered to this project are expected to be honest with their work and no 'fooling around' is entertained. This is to gauge for yourself, where you stand with respect to others at this nick of time. It's very important to be honest with all the assignments.

3. One can discuss a lot on the problems they faced in solving the assignments or completing a mini project at the discussion forums made available for all the project beneficiaries. So I expect a lot of knowledge sharing to take place here.

4. Students would be updating their mentors about the status of their work on a periodical basis, so that the mentors can review the work of students and also send in their feedbacks for improvement (if any).

Apart from this, we would have a face to face interaction with our mentors, once in two months or so. We would also be provided with the tests to help evaluate ourselves. The students are also free to send in feedbacks for any sort of improvisation in the methodology of imparting concepts or a modification in any module of a course material.

Now, why is this whole 'Gnanavriksha' project so enticing and beneficial for me? Apart from the fact that I would anyway be learning these subjects, I have an added advantage. My final year project is based on Java, so it's going to be of an immense help for me to learn this subject in advance and explore the possibilities for improvement of my project at the same time!

I am really looking forward to make the most out of this learning program.
~IT's My Life

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The week before was pretty hectic. I took up one more dream offer in the form of Cypress Semiconductors. I couldn't clear the written test. The written test was okies, and not really that tough though. But the fact remains; I didn’t make it through the written test. Okies forget it!

There were people from Infy who kick started their ambitious project of a 5 day soft skills program in our college for 4th sem students. I had volunteered to this proj alongside 11 others from ECE and 6 from CSE. I have had this sort of interaction with my junior friends of my own stream, but this one was really different, as it involved students from various other branches. It was really an enjoying program, where I got to interact with a lot of my juniors (Bio-medical, IT and Biotechnology) friends. I could see the eagerness in their eyes and their curiosity to learn all that’s required to give them an edge over others, and ultimately get them recruited to good companies. The response was really astounding and I carried back sweet memories of the event along with my friends.

Well if these were what kept me busy all throughout the day, I used to dig in to the pages of some of the books I bought @ B'lore. I had finished Andy Grove's 'Only the paranoid survive'. S' brother had suggested me to read this book. I was keen on finishing this one at the earliest. I really love to read the books that share real life anecdotes or incidents. I derive a lot of inspiration from them.

I am sure u would easily digest all the management lingos of this book. I really appreciate Andy's style of keeping his book pretty simple in language and yet being very effective in communicating his ideas to the fullest. I share below the highlights of the book:

1. Andy describes the Intel's historic decision to take back the defective processor, even if it meant that they would have to bear a $ 0.5 billion loss. The processor was found viable to a floating point error (although its probability of occurrence was unarguably less). Intel took the right decision to withdraw all those defective processors. It was decision taken to retain the credibility of Intel and also their accountability. Andy sites the situation @ Intel during this period. Intel received calls from customers, who would demand that their chips be replaced. Even though they were not Intel's direct customers, Intel still held itself accountable for its products. It was a classic example of what an under prepared and tested product release can do to any company!

2. He introduces a term 'Strategic Inflection Point', a point in your business where the fundamentals of the business change. New rules are established and it’s always good to give others a head start. SIPs are mostly the cause of a technological change, but can mean more than just a technological tweak of your products. Intel's amazing ability to succeed and survive through many such SIPs is attributed to the idea endorsed by Andy, only the paranoid survive. Andy, who keeps in constant touch with, whom he often calls as Cassandras, the people who inform u of a change in the 'winds'. They are usually the people at the periphery of your business, and are exposed to the changes first. He quotes an analogy, of how ice melts from periphery, before it reaches the core. Andy states at one point, 'It's very tough to identify the exact point where an SIP began, even in retrospect, as it usually extends over a period of 2-3 years.'

3. The equally conscious decision of Intel to pull themselves off from the memory business. The Japanese based memory products literally enforced an SIP on Intel, and eventually ousted them out of this business. Andy passes through the tough ordeal of convincing people at Intel, that it was no more their area of core competency. He goes on to suggest that they would have to withdraw their resources from memory products, and leverage their resources on building microprocessors, where they were beginning to see a potential market. In doing so, they also forced many biggies out of the mainframe based pc business. They had not been victims of an SIP, but also forced one. As suggested by him, the more established a company you are the more difficult it is for u to change. Today, we all know Intel for their expertise in microprocessors.

4. Another important aspect of this book is what he calls a '10X' force. It’s something that would force other players in the game to change. He has predicts one such force to be the Internet. As we see today, he was absolutely right. The success story of Dell, which is largely because of this wonderful tool, reinforces the prediction. He also stresses the importance on the need to differentiate a 'signal' from 'noise', failing to do which might result have a detrimental effect on a company.

I fully endorse Andy's concept, 'Only the paranoid survive'. It's something that I too believe in. I strongly recommend all of you to read this book. U can get more on this here...

The other book, whose reviews I had read, but hadn't had the opportunity to read it was, Michael Dell's, 'Direct from Dell'. Dell starts his business with a meager $1000 in his dorm room, where he starts off selling custom made PCs. He soon discovers that the traditional model of selling pcs wasn't the best way to do it. It had some inherent flaws. It involved the indirect model, where the PC manufactures would sell their finished product, i.e. pcs to resellers and whole sale dealers. Thus a PC that originally cost around 1000 $ would reach the end customer at a price of $ 3000. Dell thought of eliminating all the middle men in this business, so that he could sell the pcs at a more competitive price, which was impossible with the indirect model.

Michael Dell also discovers, how his direct model would gain him some valuable information about his customers, which other wise wouldn't have been possible. Since Dell sold what customer's demanded, he would know exactly what to deliver!

Dell was amongst the first few companies, which tapped the true potentials of the internet. Their model, took newer dimensions as they could now save a lot of time and also they could get back the sales info about every product within no time. Since Dell had first-hand customer responses and feedbacks, they could use it to share it with the suppliers of their company as well, so that both would be benefited by the info. This largely decided their 'Time to market', which gave them an edge over other competitors. The books also empahsizes on instilling the feeling amongst the employees that they too are the 'owners' the company and are an integral part of various metrics that decide the success of the company. Like he says, 'Complexity kills and proximity pays!' It could be with your customers or with ur suppliers, but proximity always pays.

I find one thing that’s strikingly common about both these people. Both of them showed skills like, they were always there to face the change and they sort of expected what it could be, and what would be the best course of action to counter it. Unlike other sleeping giants, both Dell and Intel have managed to make the most out of their crisis points. At one point Dell says, 'Even the paranoids need friends to survive'. True, very true… All in all, a must read for all those to-be-entrepreneurs of tomorrow!!! More on this book here...
PS: I am currently in to this book. More on this book in days to come...

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A perfect ditch! (Technically speaking...)

H and I literally spent the entire evening @ JC*, with a lot my friends (Both A1 and A2, along with 7 of my other classmates were there. We kept cracking some lovely gags!) Laughing (uncontrollably). A1 complained her cheeks were paining at the end! (I never knew that :) Boo!) Okies. I tell u ppl, it was an awesome time with two rounds of juice party sponsored by H, on his success at clearing 2 rounds of interviews @ Cypress Semiconductors today (he has got one more final round, to be held @ b'lore). All through out the 7th and 8th SEM, we've been mini-partying @ JC, for its succha bliss!!! Someone one has rightly said, laughing is good for health! We share a lot of gags and that makes JC, our favorite hide-out. (But believe me, a glass of grape juice, is what drives us crazy to assemble @ JC).

Okies. Now to the crux of the issue. After V1 and V2 left us, and boarded a bus back home, I and H went over to LG service centre in dvg. All the way, we laughed over the indigenous jokes, that K had cracked about color-krisna (more on this guy, in times to come!!!), exclusively for the local audience here in my college. Yes, K has the potential to become a stand-up comedian. We finally reached the LG service centre, only to find it closed. We got back to the bus-stand, to catch a bus back to harihar. It was around 7:45 p.m.

7:50 p.m. by my watch...

We boarded a bus to harihar. We travel on a student pass, and hence it’s legal to use it before 8 p.m. (Mind you, it's the time u board a bus from either harihar or davangere, i.e. the time of departure and not the time u reach the destination, which counts). Finally the conductor came over to us, and he demanded that we buy a ticket. Technically speaking, we had all rights to travel without buying a ticket, since the pass duration was still valid, as it wasn't 8 p.m. yet! But the guy kept insisting us to buy a ticket. H was adamant as well. He had all right to be so. He refused to buy a ticket, instead showed him the pass for cross checking. The guy (actually bloody guy, to be more specific!!) retained the pass with him, and refused to return it back to H. H argued with him that we were correct, and that he wouldn't buy any ticket. Well what was I doing? I was attending a call! The guy walked away with the pass!!! I said, 'Maga I got my next blog post!' (Now don't ask me, if I do such stuff, so that I can write about them here. It's usually the other way round).

Then we finally reached an intermediate stop (just before my place). The guy returned back to us, asking us to buy a ticket, coz it was 8 by then. Wow! That’s what u call manifesting the rules to ur advantage. I knew that guy pretty well. I meet him in the buses, on a regular basis. So when he asked me to buy a ticket, I said, 'Look I don't have any money!". I just flashed my bus pass. The guy actually issued a ticket from that place to harihar, and asked me to pay for it later!!! (Would u believe that. I knew him quite well. I felt he did it more out of the fact that he wanted to show that H, that he will have to pay dearly for not buying the ticket, than bcoz of the fact that he knew me well). The guy literally forced the ticket in to my hands. He walked away.

Now I handed over the ticket to H. It was for his safety, just in case, the guy raised any issues at the bus-stop in harihar, where H would claim back his bus pass. Soon I reached my place. The guy asked me to show my ticket, before I got down, just to ensure that I hadn't given it to H. I told him that I had given it to H. Now, I knew I had triggered off a potential clash!!!

Now the bus halted at my place for a good 5 min. With H reluctant to give back the ticket to me (that’s what the guy now demanded H to do), until he was handed back his pass!!! He he .... I laughed, and was all set to utter, " Good shot maga!!!'. But controlled. That’s was our way of technically tackling him! The hassle went on for a while and I got down at my place. Some outrageous passengers were all set to pounce on H, but here was our furious H, who wouldn't listen to anyone anymore. He looked so invincible. Good job buddy!!!I got down at my place. I heard the guy say, 'Hey, it’s not fair. U ditched me!!!' I was tempted to say, 'Go F urself', but kept quite!!!

I was sure H was right and so was I. Even if I knew the guy for quiet some time now, I feel he wasn't right this time. So when he insisted me to buy a ticket, I was in no mood to pay him. (I had enough money in my purse!) So the bus went on towards harihar. I was extremely happy for H. I had finally managed to ditch the bloody guy, and also ensured that H was legally traveling to harihar with a ticket.

We had taught him a lesson. Tit-For-Tat!!!

PS: H had messaged me, that he finally got back his pass. Kudos!!! Now I know that I might have ditched the guy, in spite of his 'so-called-faith' in me. But folks, I feel I did it simply bcoz, I wanted to help H to ensure that he could back himself up, by showing a ticket, in case the people at the bus stand in harihar, ask him to produce one. All in all it was a lesson well taught and the guy will remember both of us for a long long time!!!

JC*: A hot fav hide-out of all BIETians, opposite LH.

~IT's My Life

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Mobile Message Redundancy (MMR)

Disclaimer: The following article is presented with a balanced approach towards machinating the above mentioned idea in light of both technical intricacies as well as from a lay man's perspective. It’s a compilation of the author's own experience and also of his near and dear ones! However, the author shall bear no responsibility, whatsoever for any unnoticed discrepancy in statistics or validation of facts! So if you still wanna rush through this article, well, do it at your own risk!!! The author reserves all copyrights of the article, and any attempts to reproduce the same for any profitable purposes, shall implicitly become entitled for legal prosecution. Arey! Bas karo yaar... kya din bhar yahi padte rahoge yaa phir aage bhi kuch padoge? Abh itna sab kuch jhel chuke ho to alsi cheez padena ka bhi kasht uthao na. Good Luck!!!

This article has been due for quite a long time now. I think may be from diwali. Diwlai to poore dhamake ke saat khatam hui lekin eh article saala vaisa hi rehgaya. (Plz don't ask me what it means. For all those rashtriya baasha-uninitiated-angrezi-babus, apun ko kripya kshama kar do). Okies. This article inherits it's idea from the fact that all mobile users (both GSM and CDMA), at some point of time or the other, have been haunted and frustrated by those redundant sms, which gets cluttered in to their inbox, as quickly as hutch changes its tariff plans!!!

This article throws light on issues that will help u to clearly understand the actual magnanimity of the problem, and also its impact on not only the users, but also on the service providers as well. The former part of this article elicits the potential sources of redundancy and it's impact, while the latter proposes a few suggestions for users to reduce the congestion levels, which is one of the immediate consequences of an MMR.

To illustrate what exactly is this problem, read the figure below carefully. Its shows potential sms belts s1, s2 and s3, which are the sources of sms (and MMR) for a user, say X.

Fig: Potential sources of an MMR

Note: The variable s1 (yellow), s2 (red) and s2 (orange) signify the potential sms belts and ‘r’ denotes the radial distance in km from user X.

From the concepts of Information Theory, it is known that, the information content of a message signal is proportional to the logarithm (base 2) of inverse of probability of the occurrence of the message. Simply put, the greater is the probability of the occurrence of an event, the lesser is the information it carries.

{I} proportional to {log2 (1/pi)}

For eg: Indian cricket team loses again in the finals of some XYZ tournament against Australia. Now given the fact that it’s been the fate of Indian cricket team for quite a long time now, the message carries very low information.The probability of
occurrence of such an event is very low. But if u were to read a news that said, ‘India crush Australia in 2007 world cup final by 150+ runs to clinch the title’, then the latter would carry more information, simply because the probability of occurrence of such an event is smaller compared to the former! (I haven’t grown cynical yet)

Potential causes of an MMR:

1. Now that you understand the probability of introduction of redundancy is inversely proportional to the information content in your message. Applying the same to sms’ I could add one more factor that determines redundancy of messages apart from ‘information content’, it’s the reception of same message from multiple sources (preferably on the same day). It can be exponentially frustrating when u get same message on the same day, from so many of your friends!

2. Special occasions like New Year or Christmas or even Diwlai, are times when MMR is at its peak. I am sure all of u might have unknowingly contributed destructively to it. It’s a common practice to forward the message (a good one) to your entire friend circle (all those who fall in sms belts s1, s2 and s3). The greater is the ‘specialty factor’ of the sms, greater is the possibility that your friend might have received the same sms from some other sms belts! Now any one could question me, ‘Does it mean that I should send PJs to my friends, so that I stand a god chance of reducing redundancy?’ Well not exactly. Identify the source of the sms, and for a while try to trace back to its original source (it requires you to have knowledge of the person’s source of sms), which will help you to guess if the person has already received that message. Again, I would say, since it’s only a guess, you cannot achieve 100% efficiency!

3. This is probably the biggest way one could introduce an MMR. I am sure every mobile user might, at some point of time, tried this. One of the obvious reasons being ‘lack of fresh messages’ (see that is what an MMR will result in. At some point all sms belts will be flooded with sms of same genre. I call such a state as ‘Fresh Message Inadequacy’ or FMI). That’s exactly when the same old message transcends from the day beginner as a ‘Good morning’ and after an extremely intoxicating journey, dies off in one of the sms belts, in a remote subscriber’s cell phone. The worst and probably the most devastating method of introducing an MMR!

4. Given the fact that my sms friend circle or for that matter any ‘decently’ networked mobile user (it excludes all the people who reside @ ‘what-is-a-mobile-nagar’, god help those uninitiated souls, who still communicate via pigeons) have their sms belts spread out in 3 tiers. S1 being the closet which is less than 100km radial distance, s2 ranging between 100 and 200 km and s3 is tier 3 which extends beyond 200 km (yeah that includes ‘Andromeda galaxy’ as well. I am conscious of some ET users as well. Can someone drop in info of such service providers?). Due to the ubiquitous nature of the sms, thanks to the service providers ‘planting’ a tower at even the remotely accessible places in the world (except what-is-a-mobile-nagar), most often people end up sending the same sms to tier 1, tier2 and tier 3 users. Even though it’s a conscious effort by user X to add to the diversity of sms destinations, he is very much oblivious of it's existence already in those tiers! The next time you send an sms to tier 1, 2 and 3, don’t feel elated, that u have contributed seriously in averting an MMR. U might have very well introduced a redundancy!!!

After having looked at the sources of an MMR, I would like to suggest a few tangible solutions to minimize the same.

1. At the time of festivals or special occasions, try not to forward the sms you got from a friend, say A (unless it’s extremely good! I leave it to your discretion to rate the quality of sms) in say tier 1, to some other friend H, either from same sms belt or another (who is a common friend of both A and H). I am sure this will have a huge impact and will help meaningfully in reducing the redundancy and annoyance!

2. Try not to send the same message editing its final tag from ‘gm’ to ‘gn’ and forward it to a friend, just to show that you wanna be in touch with him/her. Mind you, u might very well be adding redundancy quite consciously. I suggest, you better send a new message or simply a plain good night (or morning) would work!!!

3. The biggest trouble with sending long messages is that 7/10 times they fail to reach destination. So let’s exploit the flexibility of English language! Type any message that resembles short-hand (English) and I am sure, not only will it reduce the length, but also will serve the purpose! For all those extremely lazy souls, give your fingers some work, type with dictionary mode off or one can also load those ‘local lingos’ (H knows a few like thoud-shots) in to his/her dictionary to reduce the efforts!

4. This is one of the subtle contributors to the burning problem. All those sooner or later to-be Alzheimerians please make an effort to remember if you have dumped the same sms in to his/her inbox before recently. (By recently, I mean up to the point of time in memory, to which the person can retrace and remember of having read the same sms).

Before I conclude, I would like to extend my special thanks to all those post-paid mobile users, whose hands are tied down to very few sms per month! Poor souls don’t dare to contribute to an MMR. I am extremely thankful to them.

Kuch zyada hua kya? C’mon don’t expect me to drop in a sms to each one you saying, ‘Thank you for contributing meaningfully to our Anti-MMR campaign' . You people add to what I term as ‘Audio Signal Redundancy’ or ASR. I shall write more on that some time later!!! BTW these people consume a larger BW than sms senders, don’t they?

PS: Having been mercilessly victimized on a day-to-day basis, by this sms plagiarism, (Oh come on yaar, there is no harm is copying or passing on a wonderful message, with your name as sender, if that could being on a smile on some one’s face) contributes to an MMR, I have pledged not to send any such sms that would contribute to the growth or introduction of an MMR. I appeal to all my readers as well, try to be a bit smart, in guessing the path traversed by an sms in to your inbox. I am sure you would find out if forwarding that sms would add to the existing redundancy or not! I am sure A will keep a check on this!!!

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