Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Quantum Finance

Quantum Finance : Positively hilarious !

Sample this:

"In reality the true elements of money can never be seen, but only traced by their effects or symbols.

You can never know both the ownership of an asset and its value. (If you know who owns it then you do not know its value. You only know its value at the time of sale, i.e. when it is between owners).

People often ask what happens when something falls into a Black Schole, and the answer depends on the relative position of the observer.

Schrodinger, as well as having a cat, (either dead or alive), also had a bank account, about which he was equally uncertain. The reason is that a Bank is nothing more than a financial probability wave, and he could only know that his money was safe when he asked for it back."

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Wii will wii will rock you !

Nintendo Wii

Started playing the Wii a couple of days back. The wireless remote is just awesome - it’s a dream to hold a wireless remote with force-feedback and in-built speakers! Particularly when you fight those aliens in Zelda with sword & shield or when you play tennis - the force feedback and sound add an unbelievable effect. The gaming set looks cool too - something like an iMac.

However, downsides do exist - the predominantly Japanese game-play seems slightly out of place and graphics don't quite reach the level of the xbox/ps comparables. Frequently gaming also results in slight hand-pain, as one tends to use the remote more vigorously than with the wired consoles.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Mind of the Strategist - by Kenichi Ohmae

A classic text on strategy, as relevant today as it was when written. The most insightful parts:
- Analysis as the starting point for strategy formulation and its use in dissecting complex phenomena into its constituent parts
- Concept of the key success factors - In any industry or situation, the identification of the few key aspects that define success and the need for relentless focus on these
- How changing fixed & variable cost structures necessitate different strategies - varying from the focus on utilization to the focus on waste minimization & effective planning

While most of these aspects are common knowledge to any student of strategy/consulting, their lucid explanation and clear methodology make the book a necessary refresher

Monday, November 20, 2006

The largest LBO in history

The Blackstone Group acquires Equity Office Properties Trust, USA's largest office-building owner & manager for $36 billion: Blackstone Acquiring Trust in Richest Buyout

"Under the transaction, Equity Office will go from being a publicly held company to a private one. Blackstone will pay $20 billion and assume $16 billion in debt.

...The deal will make Blackstone, which was founded in 1985 by Peter G. Peterson and Stephen A. Schwarzman, one of the nation’s largest owners of real estate.

...Blackstone will move ahead of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Company, which led the H.C.A. sale....This year alone, Blackstone has bought $20 billion worth of real estate, or 7 percent of all acquisitions. It has been involved in more REIT buyouts and mergers than any other company."

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Economically In-cite-ful

The most cited papers in economics since 1970: Value Added

"Within these 146 papers," they write, "an elite group of 11 economists authored or co-authored at least three papers. Robert Barro, Eugene Fama and Joseph Stiglitz have six each. Michael Jensen follows with five; Robert Lucas and David Kreps with four; and Robert Engle, Lars Hansen, Robert Merton, Edward Prescott and Stephen Ross have three each."

The single most frequently cited article? Econometrician Halbert White's 1980 paper on robust standard errors, "A Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance-Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroskedasticity."

among the authors of the top fifteen papers, eight have already won Nobel Prizes (Daniel Kahneman, Clive Granger/Robert Engle, James Heckman, Fischer Black/Myron Scholes, George Akerlof, George Stigler and Robert Lucas.)

"Theory loses out to empirical work, and micro and macro give way to growth and development in the 1990s,"

Friday, October 27, 2006

In Chennai, it pours

Its that time of the year… the retreating monsoon's battering the city, lighting up the sky in a million thunder-flashes, flooding city streets and causing traffic jams all over. I'm in a car, on my way home, winding its way through side-streets, the visibility's less that a feet, Saravana Stores is still crowded as ever (wow, what a business formula!), the FM radio's playing old tamil songs. Ah! What a moment.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Happy Deepavali fellas !

Wishing everyone a happy and a de-light-ful Deepavali !

I just love Deepavali time in Chennai - its just crackers and crackers everywhere, homes and shops decorated, people milling the markets...may the festival of lights bring shine to everyone's life !

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The perfect bookseller

It was a lonely night at the Mumbai Airport. I was ambling about, exhausted after a day's travel, trying to find something that would catch my attention.

I love looking at books, or well.. at the covers of books. Opening and reading them is always another day's chore. Staring fixedly at the huge rack of books in airport stores with intense concentration & interest and then strolling away nonchalantly when they announce the boarding, much to the chagrin of the storeowner, is my forte. But that day it was not to be.

That day I met my match. A book (cover) inside the store caught my attention. Damn, why do they make these covers so catchy? As I strolled in to investigate (the covers of) the book further, came a strong "Good evening Sir!". Yeah, like it was from a long lost chum or something (baring the "Sir!" bit of course). Startled, I looked up to see the store owner throwing a wide smile and waving a green something in my direction.

"Sir! I've got just THE thing for you". Huh ?.
"Something you've always wanted to know!" The meaning of life? I raised my eyebrows quizzically (in my mind of course, can't let these bozos in on such profound questions)
"Something you'll love to read, I'm sure".
"So many people have recommended this book, people like you... people who have come back to appreciate it.... who have come back asking me for more. This one's a gem sir. Just made for you. Have a look sir". This one's got a gift of the gab, I thought.

The miser (I'd prefer to call it the astute financial mind) in me poked my conscience. The book looked glossy. Must cost quite a bit. Keeping an interested face, I read the back cover first.. trying hard to glance at the price tag. The numbers looked small at first. 2 numbers, a decimal point and 2 numbers hence. Then I saw the pound sign before.

"Don't bother about the price sir. We accept credit cards". Eh ? I thought the credit cards expected me to repay.
"You can always expense it sir. I'll give you a bill". Ah, this guy'd got it all worked out.
"And, if you don't like it sir, if my recommendation is wrong, you can return it when you come next. But let me tell you sir, thats never happened.".

The boarding announcement blared at just that opportune moment. I was stuck. Much as I could do the "Sorry fella. Will buy next time. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a plane to catch" routine, I was impressed by a person recommending a book at such a godforsaken hour. I've been to millions of bookstores, countless times I've wanted to desperately buy a book but never found one to my liking, and nearly so many times I've wished someone would help me out of the choices at hand; someone who would understand what I want and recommend me something good. (Well, atleast this guy pretended he understood what I wanted, thats a step)

And so culminated the tale of the purchase of the costliest book I've ever bought. Whether the book and the buyer lived happily ever after is a story for another blogpost altogether.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

A tail of 2 cities

Bangalore: To realize how starkly different Bangalore is from Chennai, one only needs to land at its airport from Chennai - the change almost hits you at the face. Bangalore is so cool ! It feels like a villager landing up in a metropolitan disc.

Mangalore: An airstrip located on a plateau atop a hill with the runway terminating close to the edge, how awesome. Mangalore resembles Kerala very closely - its just greenery and greenery everywhere, with winding roads traversing the mountainous terrain. Went to a beach called Kapu, about 2 winding hours away (with a driver who thought he was driving formula-1) - it was late evening, well past sunset, but the moon was shining bright, the breeze was strong and the beach was awesome; a lighthouse on a nearby hillock shone out powerful beams to the distant glittering ships - a truly beautiful place.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

N70 - a review

Was going through rajan's views on the Nokia N series platform. Thought I'd post my review of the N70:

The +ves: Impressive camera - in dark lighting, the 2mpx cam of the N70 beats my 4mpx olympus hands down. Nice features - the mp3 player, calender functionality, opera, big screen, symbian OS with its themes. Great looks.

The -ves: Nokia's PCSuite is a pain - has more problems than I've encountered in any software recently and screws up the phone if it hangs. The phone's much more bulkier than my earlier 6610, the software too is much slower.

In sum: Think of it as carrying a small multimedia PC, not a phone (true, considering its processing power, memory and features would have been the envy of a PC 5 years back).

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi to all.

MS Subbulakshmi singing the Ganesh Pancharatnam : What a voice!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


I never knew Mahabalipuram was this close. Most of us Chennaiites remember it a place lying somewhere post Muttukadu and before Pondicherry where kids go on picnic. (Chennai's rapid expansion has put it within 15 mins from city limits). Last time I visited the place, I was in the 6th/7th standard at school - it was barren & hot - and I didn't have too many good memories of the place. But this time it was different - and its not just my viewpoint that has changed.

The ASI seems to be doing a good job of renovating and maintaining these monuments - the sculptures I remembered as strewn all over are neatly arranged, gardens surround most areas and the omnipresent security guards prevent all the littering they can. Plus, the 10 buck entry ticket has certainly worked wonders in preventing an unruly crowd from overrunning the monuments.

Mahabalipuram is certainly worth a visit - the craftmanship is absolutely impressive. Plus the drive along ECR and the beach add to the pleasure.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Chandigarh - Chandi ka ghar

Home of the rich & the beautiful. This doesn't look like the other parts of India. Wide roads like New Delhi, but without the crowds; palatial houses, every house with multiple long cars, with beautiful gardens throughout - everything is so well planned and clean (its almost freakish).

My work takes me to 'exotic' places - went to one such location yesterday, wading through slush and mud, covered in a layer of soot, in the middle of god-forsaken nowhere, only to find a guy working on a Sony Viao laptop. On the way out, found a guy navigating his way through muddy roads on a new Honda Civic. India is changing. And its interesting to watch how.

Ah, where did my love for flying go?

I used to love watching airlines take off. I used to love watching them land...

But these airlines are killing my love. Airports, I've realized, are amongst the most sober of places. Unlike the hustle-bustle, color and gaiety that characterizes railway stations, airports seem to be filled with somber perpetually sulking individuals.

In-flight its worse - these small port-holed aircraft prevent you from having a good view of the surroundings. How much fun it would be if they'd make the top or bottom of the plane of transparent glass.

Ah, where did my love for flying go...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

How fast can you type?

Check your typing speed online. I averaged 95-100 wpm. (via Anand).

In our 1st semester at IIIT, we were make to practice speed typing on a software. I guess that was one of my most useful takeaways from college. These days, I've found that touch typing is of the best ways to impress people - particulary when you work in non-tech industries :p


Wifi on a SD Card : Eye-Fi

Expected beta in Q3 2006.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Wide-angle Vedanthangal

Birds at Vedanthangal
Approximately 100 kms from Chennai, along the Chengalpattu road, is Vedanthangal - India's oldest bird sanctuary. Despite its proximity to Chennai, this is one place I'd never been to. It was by chance that I decided to check it out - we were visiting a relative on the route, it was a sunday mid-afternoon, the sky was overcast and there was a gentle breeze - just the right weather for long drive. The road was awesome - 6 lane and devoid of traffic for most part - we were cruising at 80+ kmph most of the way.

The sanctuary is a big swamp-like area with huge trees tovering over a large body of water. Along the circumference is a well laid out footpath for visitors to walk around and see the birds. There's also a light-house-type structure which provides a vantage location to view the birds. The area is well maintained and very verdant.

Despite this not being right season for bird-watching at Vedanthangal (the best time is Nov-Feb), there was a large flock of birds - mostly pelicans and storks. It was quite a sight to see huge birds with such large wings making a graceful flight.

Vedanthangal is surely worth a visit - I was pretty impressed. Just the drive, was a joy. The place is very well maintained. The only thing lacking were the guides and some binoculars on hire.

For people intending to go there: Take the highway down south from Chennai, via Tambaram, Vandalur and Chengalpattu. Approximately 90 kms from Chennai, just after Mamandur, take a right. There are well placed signs along the highway, so finding your way is not a problem. And remember to take those binoculars.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Google Current Tamil

Google Current on Tamil: Google Current Gothram

Tezaa: An interesting 2.0 social app. that helps setup & give feedback on polls. Pretty fast too.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Dune by Frank Herbert

Winner of the HUGO and the NEBULA awards, 'Dune' rivals the Foundation series in the quality of writing and imagination. I love science fiction, so when a friend mentioned this book as possibly one of the best of the genre, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. The story is an semi-religious epic set in planet of Arrakis, supposedly a few millenia in the future. Most interesting are the proverbs scattered along the book. Sample this:

"Any road followed precisely to its end leads precisely nowhere"

"Greatness is a transitory experience…. It depends in part upon the myth-making imagination of humankind."

"What do you despise? By this you are truly known"

"Deep in human unconsciousness is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic"

I wonder where the line between science fiction and fantasy lies. As Arthur C. Clarke once said, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. And almost all of religious writing/prophesy involves conjuring up some form of fantasy & some reference to super-heroism. Dune lies on a blurring edge spanning science fiction, fantasy and religion.

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Yetis of Yelagiri

Sunrise on Yelagiri Lake
The Yelagiri hills is a range of mountains approximately 250 kms from Chennai on the Chennai-Bangalore route. Taking advantage of the three-day weekend and to have some respite from the blistering heat in Chennai, we decided to try out the hill station.

We caught a bus to Tirupattur at the Koyambedu bus stand. This is the first time I've been to Koyambedu - its certainly the best bus stand in capacity I've seen, but is poorly administered with helpdesk personnel missing and no one to guide around. The bus we caught had a pathetic top speed of 30 kms/hr and took an exhausting 7 hrs to cross the 250 kilometers to Tirupattur (via Vellore, Walaja, Vaniyambadi, Jolarpet and Tirupattur).

Tirupattur is a crowded, dusty town with a really dirty bus stand. The ride up the Yelagiri hills took a leisurely 2 hours. The route has 14 hair-pin bends and the night-time view of the surrounding towns during the climb is breathtakingly beautiful.

Yelagiri is a small hamlet with a single main road and a few scattered houses. However, holiday resorts abound and maybe even outnumber the resident houses. There is a small lake in which boating is allowed. A few kilometers from the town center is a trekking location called swamimalai (No, do not mistake it for its more famous namesake).

Path to SwamimalaiIt takes about an hour and a half to climb to the top of swamimalai through the dense jungle cover, but its worth the effort - the view from the top is exhilarating. (As for the yetis - let us know if you find one)

Apart from the lake and the trek, there's very little to do in Yelagiri. It seems to have become a favorite weekend resort for people from Bangalore, given its proximity - almost all rooms are booked on weekends - people land up in cars with family/friends. The weather is pretty chill even in mid summer and is a good place to beat the heat.

Recommendations for people wishing to follow our trail: Take the train to/fro Jolarpettai from Chennai/Bangalore or drive - NEVER take the bus, the journey is very tiring. Its actually better if you land there in a vehicle, since public transport is not that frequent and is also pathetically slow. Call up hotels and book in advance if you plan to land there on a weekend - most good resorts are fully booked on weekends and the remainder fleece you taking advantage of the situation. In sum, a good weekend getaway for people from Bangalore, a stretch for people from Chennai - worth visiting once.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Housing Futures

Housing futures are being introduced on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Wonder when we'll have them in India. Real estate, particularly housing, constitutes the largest chunk of any individual's asset; but is unfortunately the least liquid of all major asset classes. The market is also highly inefficient and fraught with purchase/sale difficulties. The asset class has so far been regarded as an alternative investment, with the result that few, if any, investment firms provide services to financial investors in it. Housing futures are a welcome step in changing this environment.

However, as I've begun to notice, financial knowledge about derivatives is low in the general populace - infact, even the most literate are only aware of the speculative aspect of derivatives. The concept of risk management is only slowly catching on. So, even if introduced in India, futures on housing/real estate classes will be the domain of only the most sophisticated of investors. The day when the average investor understands and invests in these instruments will be an exciting day.

Source: FinanceProfessor

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The future of management - is Indian?

Fast Forward: The world's most modern management is in India - on HCL Technologies:

Vineet Nayar, president of India's 30,000-employee HCL Technologies (Research), is creating an IT outsourcing firm where, he says, employees come first and customers second.

...360-degree evaluations are not uncommon, but at HCL all results are posted online for every employee to see. That's un-heard-of!

Every HCL employee can at any time create an electronic "ticket" to flag anything they think requires action in the company ...such tickets can only be "closed" by the employees themselves.

In addition, every employee can post a question or comment on any subject in a public process called "U and I." About 400 come in each month, and questions and answers are all posted on the intranet.

Driving in Chennai

is clearly an art form. Its just plain crazy to drive on these roads. For one, there's no concept of a lane, so people just love to weave through the smallest gaps without any indication. Pedestrians cross half-way before turning back to look if there's any on-coming vehicle. Most I guess, attribute the first right of passage on the road to the pedestrian - strolling coolly while chatting in the middle of the road is a common past-time. What really takes the cake of course, is the auto. Encountering one is enough to drive jitters up the spine of the most astute of drivers. For these, driving is a series of brakes, jumps and left-right jerks. One cannot even raise an eyebrow, for the fear of being doused with the choicest of expletives.

As a pedestrian/bicyclist, I never used to realize how bad darting across the road is to the nerves of the on-coming four-wheel driver - it was just plain fun, or maybe a dash of heroism. Now, as I learn to drive these bigger machines which do not possess the maneuverability of the two-wheeler, I realize that the surest way to get a high blood pressure is to drive a four-wheeler in Chennai.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

A Review of Barcamp Chennai

Belated yeah, but was slightly caught up with work. So writing from memory and putting up only QQs.

What was good: Quite a big crowd, guys from a variety of backgrounds (some from the construction industry!), some really interesting presentations, got to hear about some very exciting stuff happening out there, very nice people, very well organized by Kiruba/Ganesh/others - attention to detail was impressive, lots of enthu.

What could be improved: Surprisingly low awareness about web 2.0 (even though the conference was about it!), turned out to be a general tech conf., maybe was a bit too long - could feel the drop in interest as presentations progressed.

Some presentations on the first day:
1) Ganesh Padmanabhan - Voicesnap
- Asynchronous voice messaging. Interesting app, but could be made more tech-savvy.
"What is RSS?" (Someone from the audience: Its like podcasting... :p)
"Are you IMS compliant?"
"How do you plan to make money from this ?"
"Does it have APS?"

2) Vinoo - Netcore, Product manager of
- A platform for setting up custom aggregators
"You have firefox?"
"People don't use craigslist much in India"
"Long term in a digg like position"
Audience: "How does your site compare with". Answer: We have him working with us
Audience: "Whats your business model?". Answer: "As of now we have no business model. We just want to crack the mobile space..."

3) Suman Karmuri - A programming language called NPL. A language for converting code into video!!
"I have written a language called NPL" Audience:"Why do we need another language?"
"This is the first public forum where this is being presented"

4) Vijay Anand - Project Infranet. Working with Ashok Jhunjunwalla@IITM
- Some form of a social security number for Indians
"In Canada it takes 15 minutes to start a company. It takes 96 days to start a company in India. And then they may reject it for having a name like 'Technologies'"
"There is no business model". "This is a very long term project"
Audience: "You can't solve a social problem by throwing technology at it"
Audience: "So how will it solve the problems of the poor?". Answer: "This will give the government a framework to monitor rural information" (ah! fellow consult :p)

5) Balaji Subramanian -
- System for tracking files
"Complementary technology to RFID"

6) K.L.Narayanan - Art of web 2.0 (Finally!!) - Founder director for 360degree interactive.
"Data comes first, container comes next"
"Data DJing"
"Amazon web services costs Rs 6.75 per GB"
"Web 2.0 is about people participating in a whole lot of ways"

Disclaimer: QQs are meant to be out of context

Some Photos from the Barcamp

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Pirates of Pulicat

What do three guys do on a hot chennai afternoon when the wanderlust bug bites them ?… they land up at Pulicat. Or so we thought, at the start.

Pulicat (or Pazhaverkadu, as it is called in Tamil) is India's second largest lagoon. Situated about 55 kms to the north of Chennai, near the Andhra-TamilNadu border, the lagoon is a bird sanctuary. We started our journey at around 2 pm and took the road from the Marina up north through Parry's till we reached the Ennore port.

I've never been to Ennore before and it was a pleasant surprise to find a pristine waterfront so close to the city. The place is really photogenic with bobbing catamaran and frolicking kids in the water forming a picturesque addition to the panoramic sea-face. The road from Ennore turns left to bypass the harbor. 40 kms further up north comes Ponneri, a small town with crowded, bustling markets. The road splits into four, and we continue left to Pulicat.

There were few cars on the road we took, and fewer tourists - most of them foreigners. The car caught the attention of quite a few in every village we passed, making us feel very foreign too (wish we had a few swadesh songs ;D).

Now Pulicat is an interesting village/town/whatever they call it. You need to pay a panchayat tax to enter it. The only indication to a visiting tourist that the place is of any significance is a TTDC hoarding that shows a few flying birds and has some rubbed off lettering. People walk about on roads as if they've never seen a moving vehicle and blowing the horn has hardly any effect. The area itself is so dirty I wonder why any bird would land there, but to scavenge. I wish the TTDC had not left this place to rot.

However, the lagoon is a decent find. Particularly at dusk, as the sun sets, its a impressive sight. That is, if you can forget the extortionist boatmen who charge hundreds to take you around in a circle with a radius of a few hundred meters.

We could only sight a lone heron stalking about and a flock of birds flying in the horizon, but the boatman assured us that we could see a lot more if we came early in the morning. The lagoon is pretty shallow - so, it was interesting to see a couple of bullock carts crossing it alongside the boats.

For people who plan to follow our trail: Leave early in the morning. It takes around 2 hours to reach Pulicat from Chennai. Following the NH5 up from Koyambedu is an easier (and smoother) way than going via Ennore. The road conditions are terrible, to say the least - if it were not for the awesome suspension of the car, we'd have returned with a bruised back. So either travel by motorcycle, or take an SUV ;D. Recommended for the adventure seeking (or/and the absolutely vela). Finally, if you want to feel like a foreigner in India, just land there in a car … do carry a couple of Swadesh songs for true effect.

Photos: On flickr

Monday, March 27, 2006

The most important algos of compsci and math

Results of a survey amongst computer scientists: The Most Important Algorithms

1. A* search
2. Beam search
3. Binary search
4. Branch and bound
5. Buchberger's algo

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Finance Blog Aggregator

The Ad-Free Personal Finance Blogs Aggregator - An awesome collection of blogs (and posts, of course) on finance

(via FinanceProfessor)

BarCamp Chennai

BarCamp Chennai

When: April 8th & 9th, 2006
Where: Anna University, Ramanujam Computing Center
What is it: From the BarCamp Chennai Wiki:
BarCamp is an unconference born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos and interaction from attendees. The BarCampChennai focusses on Web 2.0, Social Media and Next Generation Internet.

BARCamp is an open, welcoming, once-a-year event for geeks to camp out for a couple days with wifi and smash their brains together. It’s about love and geekery and having a focal point for great ideas, like FOOcamp but open.

I plan to attend.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Business Velocity and the Innovation Imperative

Speed Demons - in BusinessWeek

"...Virgin Comics LLC was born. The company was revealed to the world on Jan. 6, and now Branson and Virgin Comics Chief Executive Sharad Devarajan are sketching out grand plans. They hope to build India into a multibillion-dollar comics market by plying its under-20 population of 500 million with mythic tales. And there may be huge opportunities for export to the West. Seven titles are due out in the U.S., Britain, and India in the coming months. Even animated movies and TV shows are on drawing boards in Bangalore"

"It's all being driven by a new innovation imperative. Competition is more intense than ever because of the rise of the Asian powerhouses and the spread of disruptive new Internet technologies and business models. Companies realize that all of their attention to efficiency in the past half-decade was fine -- but it's not nearly enough. If they are to thrive in this hypercompetitive environment, they must innovate more and faster."

"...Then there's technology. The Internet has become ubiquitous, so companies can connect with talent anywhere in the blink of an eye, inside or outside the company. Open-source software can be plucked off the shelf to become the foundation of new software programs or Web sites. Algorithms can be used to slice and dice market information and spot new trends."

Personally, I was stunned when I first came across outsourcing. Most of us associate outsourcing with the offshoring of work from the US, but the real power of outsourcing today lies in the ability to attain world-class capabilities almost instantly. It is a concept akin to the modular creation of software - the modular build-up of organizations. Today, it is possible to almost "create" a company from scratch - you conceptualize the overall design and outsource the actual functioning of individual divisions (the "modules") to partners who specialize in individual areas. And just like you could call the best piece of sorting code without bothering about how it was written, you gain access the best global practices and technology in an area without bothering about the nitty-gritties. As BusinessWeek calls it... witness the emergence of the Agile enterprise.

In interesting times, we live.


Orangemedhas and MSL Gaming. Best of luck guys !!!

Orangemedhas - How it all began? by Prasad

Friday, March 17, 2006

On academic careers in science in the US

Adjusted for IQ, quantitative skills, and working hours, jobs in science are the lowest paid in the United States by Philip Greenspun

"Having been both a student and teacher at MIT, my personal explanation for men going into science is the following:

1. young men strive to achieve high status among their peer group
2. men tend to lack perspective and are unable to step back and ask the question "is this peer group worth impressing?"

Consider Albert Q. Mathnerd, a math undergrad at MIT ("Course 18" we call it). He works hard and beats his chest to demonstrate that he is the best math nerd at MIT. This is important to Albert because most of his friends are math majors and the rest of his friends are in wimpier departments, impressed that Albert has even taken on such demanding classes. Albert never reflects on the fact that the guy who was the best math undergrad at MIT 20 years ago is now an entry-level public school teacher in Nebraska, having failed to get tenure at a 2nd tier university. When Albert goes to graduate school to get his PhD, his choice will have the same logical foundation as John Hinckley's attempt to impress Jodie Foster by shooting Ronald Reagan.

It is the guys with the poorest social skills who are least likely to talk to adults and find out what the salary and working conditions are like in different occupations. It is mostly guys with rather poor social skills whom one meets in the university science halls."

Hilariously well written. However, one thing I'm beginning to realize is that cribbing about jobs or money is the favorite past-time for most - its a trait found even amongst the most highly paid (relative to what I wonder:p) and those with 'dream' jobs. There is, it seems, no limit to human desires. This article could as well have been written by a person from any industry.

Saturday, March 04, 2006


The iPod Nano vaguely reminds me of an early version of Windows 95. I'm surprised by the lack of robustness of its software - an absolute dainty, it restarts at the slightest provocation; remove the cord by mistake while charging and there's a very high chance that the software would be muddled beyond repair. However, the player's interface is amazing - the click-wheel is the most intuitive design in hardware user interface I've ever come across. Sad they haven't paid as much attention to the software.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Valuing an MBA

Quite a few of people I know (themselves MBAs) feel that the MBA degree is a sheer joke, that people go through two years of arbit stuff to get a well paying job at an end. Talking about the value of an MBA has, in fact, become the favorite past time of a lot of people - heck, people like Mintzberg have made a career taking pot-shots at it.

Now bubblegeneration makes a comment on this issue:
"My personal take on the MBA: If you are passionate about business, economics, strategy and leadership (as I am), you can't go wrong with a top MBA. However, if you see the MBA just as an escape hatch that takes you from being a code monkey at tech shop and land you a spreadsheet monkey job at an I-bank or become a consultant droid, you would most likely miss out on what could potentially be the most rewarding and enriching educational experience of your life.

I *loved* each and every moment I spent at b-school. Just pick a school that in non-parochial and attracts smart people from around the world."

During my induction at XLRI, one of the Professors told us that what we would get out of our two years of stay there would be proportional to the effort we put in - we would have immense learning resources at our disposal, whether we choose to use it or not would be up to us. We could, if you want, while away the two years and get our 'dream' job at the end, but we would have learned nothing new. But that is because, we chose to do so. After all its GIGO.

Personally, I loved the time I spent in the MBA - learnt exciting stuff I never had access to before, got a new perspective on analyzing issues and problems, met a lot of interesting people and made awesome friends. In sum, I think I got more than my time and money's worth.

And to think people view consultants as droids... ha ha ha

Monday, February 27, 2006

Inexplicable Chennai

So why is it people in Chennai love using expletives? From the autowallas who let go a drift of 'dai &#@$#$' at any fellow crossing their path to the morning FM station where two comperes greet each other with friendly abuses, expletives seem to have become commonplace in tamil parlance. Not that I mind, but I'm just stupefied that words which would attract offense in any other language have become part of colloquial speech here.

Monday, February 20, 2006

To P or not to P, that is the question

"...Computing promises to be the most disruptive scientific paradigm since quantum mechanics. Unfortunately, it is the proverbial riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. The stakes are high, for our inability to “get” what computing is all about may well play iceberg to the Titanic of modern science."

"...The quantitative sciences of the 21st century (eg, genomics, neurobiology) will complete the dethronement of the formula by placing the algorithm at the core of their modus operandi. Algorithmic thinking is likely to cause the most disruptive paradigm shift in the sciences since quantum mechanics."

== Could Your iPod Be Holding the Greatest Mystery in Modern Science?

(via moneyscience)

Friday, February 17, 2006

Breakthrough ideas for 2006 - HBR

The HBR List: Breakthrough Ideas for 2006.

"The ability to decide what information to heed, what to ignore, and how to organize and communicate that which we judge to be important is becoming a core competence..."

"... only 59% of financial executives say they would pursue a positive net present value project if it meant missing consensus earnings-per-share estimate for the quarter...78% say they would sacrifice value to smooth earnings"

Centauri Dreams

Centauri Dreams - A review of research issues in deep space exploration

Monday, February 13, 2006

Mama, I'm coming home !

Am leaving shortly to Chennai on a long project. Going home to stay after six and a half years :D

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Climbing Kanheri

Went this weekend on a trekking and rock-climbing trip at the Kanheri caves at the Borivali National Park here in Mumbai. We started off from dadar early on Sunday morning and reached the caves around 9. After an initial warm-up session to scale a 10-ft boulder rock-face, we moved on to the actual 60-70 ft rock-face near the actual caves. Climbing up was really hard. This is the first time I've tried my hand (and every other part of my body :|) at rock-climbing. As I struggled to find a hold in the rocks, I kept wondering why anyone would ever get crazy enough to try such a thing. The rappelling down was, however, awesome fun - its like walking backwards on a vertical wall. Now as I recover from pains all over, I understand why the rock-climbers I've met have such great physique and mental stamina - nothing less can withstand such a hobby. In retrospect, it was an experience of a lifetime - to be scared to death as you hang on to a small protrusion on the rock-face, daring not to look down, stretched to your limits - its something to treasure for ever.

The climb was very well organized by a company called 'Wildlife escapes' for the Manhattan card. The Kanheri caves are situated about 7 kms from the entrance of the Borivali National Park. The buddhist caves (in particular, the main Vihara) are really impressive and deserve a visit by themselves.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Turbulent Fluids

Solutions to the last major unsolved problem in classical physics: Fluid Turbulence

Friday, January 27, 2006

Visiting Visapur

Made a trek to a fort near Lonavala called Visapur (one of the Maratha forts) with a group of trekkers from Mumbai (who call themselves the 'Fort Capturers'). Had an awesome time. The fort overlooks the Mumbai-Pune express-way and is really impressive.

Photos: Trek to Visapur

To get there: We caught the Indrayani Express at VT at 6am and got down at Lonavala (~3 hours journey). Then took a local to Malvali village (~10 mins journey). The fort overlooks the village. Takes atleast 2 hours to climb.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Blogging Politicos

Members of the US congress seem to be catching onto blogging: Congress catching on to the value of blogs. Wonder when the Indian politicos will follow suit. Maybe with IITians forming political parties, something can be expected.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Its not the camera that takes the picture

Your Camera Does Not Matter:

"Oh, if only I had a Nikon or a Leica, I could make great photographs. That's the dumbest thing I ever heard in my life. It's nothing but a matter of seeing, thinking, and interest. That's what makes a good photograph. And then rejecting anything that would be bad for the picture. The wrong light, the wrong background, time and so on. Just don't do it, not matter how beautiful the subject is."

(via Anand)

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Meandering Malshej

The Malshej Ghats lie 150 kms North-east of Mumbai. The area is filled with erosion-carved peaks (breathtakingly similar to pictures I've seen of the Grand Canyon) and beautiful golden grass meadows. We started Picnic point 1 and walked up to the MTDC resort around 7 kilometers away. The MTDC canteen provides hot food to the hungry explorer and is situated at the top of a stunning cliff. A few kilometers down the cliff is a lake formed by a dam. The area is absolutely pristine with awesome scenery and provides a much needed succor on a weekend visit from Mumbai.

To get there: The Malshej Ghats fall on National Highway 220 from Mumbai to Aurangabad, 83 kilometers from Kalyan. Kalyan is an hour and a half's train ride from the Victoria Terminus. State transport buses regularly ply from the bus stand opposite the station to Malshej and the trip takes 3 hours one way (yeah ... slightly far). I would however advise anyone going there to go in a car or a bike - for one, the sights and the road is much better experienced that way and secondly, the ST buses are rickety old machines which rock you like a roller coaster and tire you out. Recommended time of visit is July-September, when the flamingos come visiting, but the area is beautiful even at this time of the year.