Monthly Archives: April 2005

Talking about “The System”

You might want to read this to get in the context: http://spaces.msn.com/members/insiya4u/Blog/cns!1p-Me9xq8RSy7iSzZC2agkCg!105.entry

It is not so much of an inherent quality that we engineers complain, it is just that we all know that we could have done so much better, and though willing, we never do. I can quote straight from the PL(*) of each semester (well, except maybe the first and the second), that I resolve to start studying from the beginning of the next sem, and not procrastinate (changed from procastinate, as brought to notice by Sagar, read comments at http://spaces.msn.com/members/hthite/), reinvent myself and innovate and all the related hogwash. Never worked out, and probably never will.

The reason? Lack of motivation. Of course, it is not self-motivation, or something like that, cause there are reasons why all the above should be done. Scholarships, kudos from relatives, recognition, blah blah. More than enough reasons. But then, it is so easy to think in another perspective. What happens if I do not do it? Practically nothing. We will still clear, with slightly lower grades, and less things to trumpet about, but nothing will seriously change. Nobody really expects us to do something very different, or attain great heights. The very system is at flaw.

The system does not expect us to do stuff. It does not penalize us for not doing stuff. That, in the current scenario, is the real culprit. Sure, it awards you if you do something. But, there is no penalty. Hence, the lack of motivation. And therefore, the lack of developement, self or otherwise. It is a sad story, but alas, a true one.

(*) = Preparatory Leave, for those unfamiliar with MU = Mumbai University lingo.

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Specialization is for Insects!

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, and die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
 
– Robert Heinlein
This came from a friend, a senior infact, Aditya Mandrekar. I think I have mentioned him before, for his mailers titled: ‘Everyday’.
 
I am going to try and disect it.
 
First of all, the order. Why is changing a diaper at the top? Interesting choice of sequence. Immediately followed by an invasion. Ooh! Butchering a hog, and cooking a tasty meal, though apparently related, are not quite in order… I wonder if Mr. Robert did give a thought to this…
 
Interesting choice of tasks too… He wants a human being to be a mom (or a dad, just to be more gender unbiased), a general, a butcher, a captain, an architect and a mason, a poet, an accountant, a bone-setter and a priest (but never a doctor), taker and giver of orders (which means to be in the middle?), co-operate and act alone (nothing really to comment on that), a mathmatician and a problem solver (solutionist?), a gardener, a programmer (now, don’t we have enough of those, already?), a gourmet cook, a fighter and above all, a gallant dier (?).
 
I wonder if all this is humanly possible. Well, let’s see… Mom/Dad, cooking, co-operating, acting alone, taking and giving orders is fine… But one cannot be a butcher and a general and a captain and a priest and a programmer and a mason and an accountant at the same time… Too many things to do… Jack of all trades, master of none… Unless, of course, you are a super-human. Yes, we have those too.
 
Specialization is for insects? Now, where did that come from? Ants? Last I heard was, that those are supposed to be very well organized with a social structure that is extremely successful. Wonderful ant-hills and humungous storage. Except yes, only one queen and stuff, but then, one can’t have all, can one?
 
What I would say, specialization is for everybody. And sometimes, it is the only thing that can keep you alive. Especially, in cut-throat competition of today’s world. Of course, anybody’s guess if one is a doctor of the second nerve ending of the little finger of the right hand, how successful he’d be. That is assuming that there are atleast a given number of people who would have a problem with that very nerve ending. And that there are not many people specialized in again, that very nerve ending.
 
Of course, opinions can differ. But as I see it, online and offline, there is never an end to ultra-specialized businesses.
 
{I may have run aground with this blog, too many intrerruptions.}

Should we drop out from college?

I received the following in an email. The authenticity has not been ascertained, and I being the lazy guy, did not want to go and hunt… So, with a pinch of salt, if you may, read on! 😉
 
This is a Speech given by CEO of Oracle, Larry Ellison to the Graduating class at Yale University. Read it fully please

“Graduates of Yale University, I apologize if you have endured this type of introduction before, but I want you to do something for me. Please, take a good look around you. Look at the classmate on your left. Look at the classmate on your right. Now, consider this: five years from now, 10 years from now, even 30 thirty years from now, odds are that the person on your left is going to be a loser. The person on your right, meanwhile, will also be a loser. And you, in the middle? What can you expect? Loser. Loserhood. Loser Cum Laude.

In fact, as I look out before me today, I don’t see a thousand hopes for a bright tomorrow. I don’t see a thousand future leaders in a thousand industries. I see a thousand losers. You’re upset. That’s understandable.

After all, how can I, Lawrence “Larry” Ellison, college dropout, have the audacity to spout such doctrine to the graduating class of one of the nation’s most prestigious institutions? I’ll tell you why. Because I, Lawrence “Larry” Ellison, second richest man on the planet, am a college dropout, and you are not. Because Bill Gates, richest man on the planet-for now anyway-is a college dropout, and you are not. Because Paul Allen, the third richest man on the pla net, dropped out of college, and you did not. And for good measure, because Michael Dell, No. 9 on the list and moving up fast, is a college dropout, and you, yet again, are not.

Hmm … you’re very upset. That’s understandable. So let me stroke your egos for a moment by pointing out, quite sincerely, that your diplomas were not attained in vain. Most of you, I imagine, have spent four to five years here, and in many ways what you’ve learned and endured will serve you well in the years ahead. You’ve established good work habits. You’ve established a network of people that will help you down the road. And you’ve established what will be lifelong relationships with the word “therapy.” All that of is good. For in truth, you will need that network. You will need those strong work habits.

You will need that therapy. You will need them because you didn’t drop out, and so you will never be among the richest people in the world. Oh sure, you may, perhaps, work your way up t o #10 or #11, like Steve Ballmer. But then, I don’t have to tell you who he really works for, do I?

And for the record, he dropped out of grad school. Bit of a late bloomer.

Finally, I realize that many of you, and hopefully by now most of you, are wondering, “Is there anything I can do? Is there any hope for me at all?” Actually, NO. It’s too late. You’ve absorbed too much, think you know too much. You’re not 19 anymore. You have a built-in cap, and I’m not referring to the mortarboards on your heads.

Hmm … you’re really very upset. That’s understandable.

So perhaps this would be a good time to bring up the silver lining. Not for you, Class of ’00. You are a write-off, so I’ll let you slink off to your pathetic $200,000-a-year jobs, where your checks will be signed by former classmates who dropped out two years ago.

Instead, I want to give hope to any underclassmen here today. I say to you, and I can’t stress this enough:

LEAVE. Pack your things and your ideas and don’t come back. Drop out. Start up. For I can tell you that a cap and gown will keep you down just as surely as these security guards dragging me off this stage are keeping me dow…”

(At this point The Oracle CEO was ushered off stage.)

New-Age Publicity

I received a sms from an unknown number on my cell. Replicated:
 
Eisha Devol is the 1 who trains the tigers to kill people. Vivek Oberoi, John Abraham and Lara Dutta all die in the end in kaal. Enjoy the movie.
 
Now, as it is I have no keen interest in watching the movie ‘Kaal’ anyway, and this message killed the slight interest that was generated due to it’s promos on NGC.
 
I wonder what kind of publicity is that. If the message is true, I cannot understand how is it going to draw an audience to the cinema hall. If it is not true, I don’t think I am going to the theatre anyway to verify the truth! So, it cannot be a positive publicity.
 
Now, if it were a negative publicity, from say, a competing film producer, then it may have achieved it’s mark, since now, for sure I will not watch the movie. But, then, was it worth it? Spending the money on sending me a text message. And can this be considered to be spam?
 
Finally, whatever be the type of publicity, it sure did it’s job. It got me blogging and thinking about it. And made me have a discussion with some people. So, well, future investors in marketing and PR, publicity does work!
 
PS. Sorry for spoiling your fun too, in case you read the message here and planned to watch the movie. 😉

A Joke for Today!

Felt too bored to write in about any serious stuff, when this came along. A clever one, I must say:

In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth and populated the Earth with broccoli, cauliflower and spinach, green and yellow and red vegetables of all kinds, so Man and Woman would live long and healthy lives.

Then using God’s great gifts, Satan created Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream and Krispy Crème Donuts. And Satan said, “You want chocolate with that?” And Man said, “Yes!” and Woman said, “and as long as you’re at it, add some sprinkles.”  And they gained 10 pounds. And Satan smiled.

And God created the healthful yogurt that Woman might keep the figure that Man found so fair. And Satan brought forth white flour from the wheat and sugar from the cane and combined them. And Woman went from size 6 to size 14.

So God said, “Try my fresh green salad.” And Satan presented Thousand-Island Dressing, buttery croutons and garlic toast on the side. And Man and Woman unfastened their belts following the repast.

God then said, “I have sent you heart healthy vegetables and olive oil in which to cook them.” And Satan brought forth deep fried fish and chicken-fried steak so big it needed its own platter. And Man gained more weight and his cholesterol went through the roof.

God then created a light, fluffy white cake, named it “Angel Food Cake,” and said, “It is good.” Satan then created chocolate cake and named it “Devil’s Food.”

God then brought forth running shoes so that His children might lose those extra pounds. And Satan gave cable TV with a remote control so Man would not have to toil changing the channels. And Man and Woman laughed and cried before the flickering blue light and gained pounds.

Then God brought forth the potato, naturally low in fat and brimming with nutrition. And Satan peeled off the healthful skin and sliced the starchy center into chips and deep-fried them. And Man gained pounds.

God then gave lean beef so that Man might consume fewer calories and still satisfy his appetite. And Satan created McDonald’s and its 99-cent double cheeseburger. Then said, “You want fries with that?” And Man replied, “Yes! And super size them!” And Satan said, “It is good.” And Man went into cardiac arrest.

God sighed and created quadruple bypass surgery.


Nothing much to report today. (Actually there is, but some other time, maybe!) Almost finished with all my submissions. So should get started now with the studying part. Vivas coming up very fast, starting from the 2nd! PANIC!

Talking about “The ABC’s of Learning”

QUOTE:
Learning the ABCs or Reinventing the Wheel?
 
I actually wanted to create a trackback to my friend Thite’s blog titled “Talking about I hate Ellipses!!!”, which in turn is a trackback to my blog “I hate Ellipses!!!”, as his blog title suggests. But sadly, his blogs are not public and so trackbacks cannot be created. This is a blog on his blog. If u are in his msn list, do read his blog before this one.
 
Thite, we always have argued on this front, i think, for all of the 5 yrs that we know each other. I guess we are just putting it up in black n white after all.
 
Going to other extreme point of your perspective: We all know to read write learn and talk. A baby will eventually learn to do the same. Does that mean that the baby need not learn ABC?
 
Read the complete blog here.
Sagar’s blog can be found here: http://spaces.msn.com/members/sagyer/
ENDQUOTE
 
If my memory serves me right, (that, and I am too bored to go and see what I actually wrote), I did say in the end that it is all a compromise. One has to learn some basic things even if they have been done before. Call it the foundation, or as you say, learning the ABCs, or whatever. The point is, who decides what is reinventing the wheel, and what is learning? I wrote that the person who is learning cannot decide, cause for one, he does not know himself, and two, if he knew, he would try and learn as little as possible. So, then, this is a compromise indeed, in which we allow someone else to define our ABCs.
 
I remember I often used to crib when I was forced to remember statistics of say, the population of say, Venezuela in my high school geography. I thought it was not of any use. Pretty true, considering that I have never ever in my life (uptil now, that is) have to use it. Not even in that year’s examination. But, that statistic is not a burden for someone who is a ardent follower of statistics or geography. For him, it is another interesting tid-bit. Just like for me, some computing stats are, or some parameter might be. Wake me up in the middle of the night, and ask me the shortcut key for save in Turbo C, I will instantly blurt out F2, courtesy couple of unsaved crashes! But someone who does not have a keen interest in programming, will, even on using the IDE and programming, not necessarily remember the shortcut. Maybe that was too lame an example, but I hope you get the point. It is all thus a matter of interest.
 
Thus, in conclusion, what is, is. A compromise. Peace.

Nokia 6230i vs 6230

Price difference of 5k. 6230 is no longer manufactured.
 
There is no difference in the design (except for an improved center click, as earlier center click would cause false firing of the directional keys, and the camera window now says 1.3 Megapixel), or the battery capacity (which is really sad).
 
Inbuilt Memory:
35.5 MB against 9.3 MB earlier
 
Display:
208×208 pixels as against 128×128 earlier
One of the sharpest displays due to this extremely high resolution in the tiny screen
Both are 65k active TFT displays
 
Addition of Push to Talk
 
USB connection now allows the use of MMC card directly as a USB drive. No need for PC suite or anything, auto detection under Windows 2000 and higher.
 
Support upto 512 MB MMC cards officially, and 2 GB unofficially.
 
Radio and MP3 player significantly improved. Radio now has a visual component, which is not yet supported in India, but allows content retrival depending upon what is playing. MP3 player now has the much needs fast forward and rewind options. Playlists can be generated on the fly.
 
Special headsets allow one or two line display of ID3 tags and other information such as caller id, with upto seven configurable buttons. This headset has to be bought separately, but is not compatible with the 6230. In fact, currently it works only with 6230i amongst all Nokia phones.
 
Camera
1.3 Megapixel as against 640×480 earlier. Leads to very large images sizes, and considering no increase in processing speeds (33 MHz), can be cumbersome to work with.
 
Unlimited video and audio recording till the capacity of MMC is exhausted.
 
General Bluetooth, IR and menu interface improvements. Voice tags for MP3 player now possible.
 
Both models feature EDGE upto 236.6 kbps.
 
I guess that is it. Ask if you think I have forgotten something. I really wish I had the i!

The Polar Express!

Was too bored to study, and since it was downloaded already, I decided to watch “The Polar Express” tonight.
 
Wonderful motion capture, animation and cinematography. Simply an amazing movie to watch, away from the normal movie, in the sense that it is made for children… Superb sound score, an hour and thirty minutes well spent.
 
Story goes like this. A young boy does not believe in Santa Claus, to the extent that he even tries to impose it upon his younger sister. But on Christmas Eve, the Polar Express stops right outside his door. Initially hesitant, he does get on the train, and loads of fun things happen. Nice adventure and thrill included. Finally, they reach the North Pole, and after all the hullabaloo, and an extremely well orchestrated scene, Santa appears. Mr. C. chooses our hero as the first child to receive this years gift, and the boys asks for a bell. The bell, which he could not hear before, as he did not believe. But he now does, and therefore has special meaning attached to it…
 
Plenty of other lessons to be learnt on the way, but I shall not spoil the fun for you!
 
Interesting voice overs, characters, overall a must watch. Get hold of a rip, or a DVD, and enjoy!

New Blogging Space!

The only reason I was using MSN Spaces for my blogs was that it allowed me to post from an email address. Turns out that even Blogger.com supports it. (Thanks to Gautam http://www.gforgeek.com for the update!)
 
So from now on, my blogs will be posted on both, MSN Spaces @ http://spaces.msn.com/members/hthite/ (you must be on my MSN list to read), and on Blogger @ http://hthite.blogspot.com (open to all). I will appreciate if you read this @ Blogger, and comment there, since comment handling and consolidation is way too better there. Nevertheless, MSN is fine too.
 
Happy reading, and those with blogs of their own, happy blogging!