My Life, The Universe and Everything

Truths I learn. Barriers I seek to break. Let me scream.

Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

The ones that lead?!

An Unhappy Ego-Surfer

Posted by themischord on January 30, 2008

For a long time now, a Google search for my name has been pretty disappointing and embarrassing. Yahoo! and MSN Live give more respectable results. I guess the question is, what is representative of me? I find my name on the web in the following contexts

Blog/Homepage

Association with organizations/ academic institutions

Publications

Mailing Lists

Misc references

A regular search result is a unorganized list of pages from all the above categories. I see that the mailing lists take precedence, which is not surprising. On the whole, I find it all messy.

The larger issue here is the ineffectiveness of search engines when it comes to informational queries (compared to navigational queries). An evaluation conducted by Prof. Bing Liu shows that Google fairs just a wee-little better than Yahoo! and MSN Live. In this context, I found kosmix‘s approach very promising. They call it a vertical search. They organize the results into categories, like a homepage. Ah well, some day they should be ‘tags’ and not ‘categories’ maybe. That would be a great feature next feature for Google.

Posted in Musings, Tech | 2 Comments »

Viral Computing

Posted by themischord on December 23, 2007

When I first heard of viral advertising, I felt pretty repulsive about it. But really, it is a grand concept.

Combine ideas such as those of Prof. Luis von Ahn’s  on using CAPTCHAs and games to solve computing problems with social networks and one can achieve viral computing!

Posted in Musings, Tech | Leave a Comment »

Seven Phases of Man’s Madness

Posted by themischord on November 6, 2007

Here is a parody of Shakespeare’s seven ages of man. Read it in good humour!

All the world’s a daze
And all the men and women merely pray-ers;
They have their triumphs and their tribulations
And one man in his time passes many phases
His madness maturing in seven stages. At first the irritant,
Quick and cutting, caring of no harm;
Then the irritated, with his temper
And frowning face, fumes around like a furnace
Unpleasantly in space. And then the presumptuous,
Aloof and assuming, with a tall list
Made of his discontents. Then the quick-tempered
Full of strange contentions, and a sword at hand
Extra hard on honour, strong and quick in self-defense,
Seeking the bubble reprisal
Even on a peaceful ground. And then an overt good-humoured,
Taking at ease, all things around
With new attitude to build the fair himself
Full of readiness to push and fall;
And so he passes this phase. The sixth phase shifts
Into the passive and dispassionate priest,
With an unassuming facade and welcoming stance
His hard-learnt rationale, well sav’d, a world too conflicting
For his sunked temperament, and with his accepted axioms,
Turning again into inconclusives, smiles
And smirks at his indiscretion. Not last of all (hopefully),
That follows this estranging phase,
Is the urge to turn mad in the literal sense;
Sans reason, sans rationale, sans r’epertoir, sans everything.

Posted in Musings | 3 Comments »

The American Dream Reiterated

Posted by themischord on November 1, 2007

From Wikipedia –
In general, the American dream can be defined as being the opportunity and freedom for all citizens to achieve their goals and become rich and famous if only they work hard enough.

I was at a talk on intellectual property. In the context of a company owning the ideas of its employees, this is a part of the dialog that transpired between a student and a professor of law.

Student: So, if I have a great idea why should I work for a big company and give it away to them?

Prof: Because u need their resources and infrastructure for your research. Of course, if you are from the dot com era, u might just need a laptop. Go buy one and work at home by yourself.
Student: But that is ridiculous. It means that I will have to work 9 to 5 in my office for a living, come home and work on my great idea at night. When it’s mature, quit the company, wait for a while and come out with it. What about my family and kids? When will I spend time with them?

Prof: [Smirks] Yeah, we used to call this ‘the american dream’.

Not to talk of how heart-broken the student looked!

So, the american dream is more inclined to foster corporates? Generally speaking, isn’t that the socio-economic structure of a majority of the societies? Can it be any other way? Can an artist/creator own his creation?

I have hope that publishing houses and recoding companies be history some day. But what about the more fundamental economic protocols?

Posted in Misc, Musings | 2 Comments »

The Art of Persuasion

Posted by themischord on October 10, 2007

“A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.”

This is an unsourced quote, commonly attributed to Stalin. When raising funds during the world war, Stalin is said to have advised that the one should talk of the individual stories of Russian soldiers. Quoting numbers will not have the same pyschological impact.  Extremely insightful! Call it the art of persuasion a leader should have.

Posted in Musings, On War | Leave a Comment »

Timepass Analogy

Posted by themischord on September 27, 2007

Some analogies can suck (like themes in chic flicks) and so does this one –

Finding a job is like try to find the perfect relationship – u look for a long term commitment, a company u can admire, one that shares ur philosophy, respects u and so on. But throw those expectations out and there r a million jobs that u can enjoy!

Of course,  if it’s ur baby venture, u can’t do that. But that is again about finding ur perfect love, if one exists.

Posted in Musings | Leave a Comment »

Ghar Aa Gayi Par-desi

Posted by themischord on August 12, 2007

When I first traveled out of India, I anticipated a zillion first impressions. Surprisingly, I had almost none significant. The well structured airports, neatly laid out blocks of houses, high-rise downtown buildings, interstate roads, trains transporting u 30 miles-in-30-mins – all called for a simple, ‘yeah?!’ from me. Little surprise. I got to see what I had heard and expected.

I traveled back home, and the facts I grew up with struck me hard. The contrast is huge, striking and scary. Take off from an American city is a picture of the engineering marvels. Land in London, and one sees close to what one visualizes of an English country – brick topped buildings neatly laid out in grids, green and preened (at least it looks so from the sky). The night view of the cities/towns I cannot name on the way, all seemed so structured, until I finally landed in Mumbai which was a bunch of lights scattered randomly. Take-off the next morning was even more disheartening. Huge stretches of Mumbai slums, liberally occupying the heart of the city seemed to mock at me.

Oh well, it isn’t difficulty to forget the mockery. A few minutes and I was in a dream land woven of clouds. The sun shone bright, the music played old memories, and I was served hot breakfast. Not so difficult any more to find bliss in empty spaces.

Final laugh on landing in Hyderabad – Rajiv Gandhi int’l terminal and NTR domestic terminal. May peace reign in my land!

Posted in Musings | 1 Comment »

No War Plz, I Can Live In a Cave

Posted by themischord on July 12, 2007

In a previous post, I talked of how I grew up not realizing that India had been behind the world in technology. Today, over a casual lunch talk, I realized that those were really our years of bliss. At the table was a Russian, an American, a Sri Lankan and me, an Indian. The Russian talked of how military drafting was a part of their system from which one could not escape. A nightmare people had to live with. The Sri Lankan agreed.  He said that in his country, the youth got drafted  too – but either into the military or into the terrorist groups. Then there was some discussion about how at one point US almost decided to make drafting a law. And I was asked, “Is it so in India?”. I smiled with pride. Cheers went around that India was a true democracy.

Yes we sure are. Had India been a military super power, had we been at constant war, maybe India would have had drafting laws too. But we aren’t. And I’m glad for that.

This moment of peace is so momentary.

Posted in Musings, On War | 2 Comments »

Mugged ‘n Bugged

Posted by themischord on July 6, 2007

Heard the stories, but it is so frustrating to be in one. What’s worse – losing my cards or realizing I have no identity? Stranded outside my apt with no keys, or sleeping through the night thinking of how someone could just walk through the door? Losing my cellphone or realizing that the only phone number I remember is my own? Losing some significant amount of cash or the little plucker I held so fondly as a good memory charm?

Or the fact that I was robbed by kids? Alas, blogging is the only vent to my frustration.

Wish You Were Here.

Posted in Musings | 1 Comment »

Shut Eyes Are Blind

Posted by themischord on June 29, 2007

That’s a pretty lame title, never the less, it holds. I grew up refusing to believe that India was a ‘developing country’. I was sure that it was more than just pride that made me think that India was as good as any developed country. When I moved to US about a year back, it was with a strong desire to ratify my belief.

I work with a 20 year old who has played with ever generation of the Mac. There is this other guy, who is a renonwed Linux kernel hacker, author of 5 books and important contributor to many open source projects. I was fascinated when I met him, more so when I realized how young he was. I wondered what was so right about the environment these guys grew up in. I had not even heard of Linux or Mac until relatively recently. I feel sheepish is saying this, but I used Internet for the first time in 2000. Explains?!

Thinking of technology, there is another industry that comes to my mind – animation and cartoons. Bollywood and other regional film industries were fast in picking up after independence. But a Walt Disney doesn’t exist in India. Why?

It is a bad argument if I pick up a few big technology driven industries of the west and say that their counterparts don’t exist in India. For a rational analysis, in isolation, did India develop any of its own? I’m thinking hard.

Technology penetration at a macro level is a completely different issue. I’m thinking of plain technology existence/availability and realize that 10 years back, we were 20 years behind the world. This gap thankfully seems to be bridging at a decent pace.

According to Darwin’s theory of natural selection, intelligence of organisms will naturally develop in a progressive direction, if they have to survive. Let’s see where we go. My eyes are open.

Posted in Musings | 2 Comments »