Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Tribute...


Many a times, since the time I think I have matured in the perception of everyday petty yet profound things, I have been continually amazed at the relationship we share with our parents. I believe it is one of the most unique relationships a person ever cherishes in life.
We do not realize the meaning of being a daughter or a son till a certain age or maturity level arrives unto us. Sometimes we do not at all. The difference, talking in the Indian culture, custom and tradition context, being a parent not only imparts a sea of responsibilities, but also deals with it an automatic evolution of maturity which is just enough and a lot for the grooming up of a human being of tomorrow.
People round the world spend day in and day out in search of some God, some spiritual power. The reason: God is the ultimate self. God is the one who is omni-potent and He is the one who virtually controls, rules and takes care of the world. For example, in the Hindu epics, there is a notion of Lord Vishnu, who is said to be the 'Palak' or one who rears the Universe. Now, I am not talking of looking for a God or God-like personality around us. I am astounded as to how people cannot see the God in their parents! Talking of being a 'Palak", yeah, they are the one who groom up a little kid since its birth into a complete human being of tomorrow!
Again, people in the mundane world get upset over their best friends betraying them or some of their friends not looking up to them the way they expected. No wonder, I have also faced the same set of circumstances. But I have always found my parents beside me through all thick and thin. I now know, parents are the best friends.
After all this revelation even after knowing how much they have done for us, how many sacrifices they have done smilingly and how much we owe to them, are we as their kids, really able to live up to fulfilling all their expectations or at least ensuring them a beautiful later life? Perhaps yes sometimes, perhaps not always. We get so busy with our lives that we forget about some of our responsibilities we owe to the people who have been most responsible for us throughout their lives.
The Indian kind of relationship we cherish between parents and kids is astonishing. I think it is one of the unique of its kind in the world. I do not think any relationship ever had more colors than the rainbow, more threads intertwined than the finest cloth or more meanings associated than the world's largest thesaurus! It is such a commonplace feature, but every sunrise and sunset I feel I am amazed more than I was yesterday! If you ask me what my greatest wish and tribute would be, I would always say, "to be as strong as they have been, to be as responsible as they are, to have the degree of tenacity, to cherish in myself the whole horizon of forgiveness that parents shower on us on our biggest misgivings!"

Sunday, December 17, 2006

What We Mean By 'Religion'?

Many people would swear in the names of their most treasured possessions about 'it'; some will fight the world for the sake of 'it'; others will embrace departure from so called mundane world to follow 'it': yeah, you guessed it right, I am talking about 'religion'. Religion, has perhaps been the most temporally persistent enigma of human civilization since the past five thousand years.
It is a strange coincidence that all the societal rules and customs made few thousand years back had very sensible causes behind their inception. Probably, religion, defined as a set of rules, customs and beliefs that a segment of a populace follows, arose from a way to make people still continue believing in themselves and in the things around them, when education, especially science was not a way to explain each and every happenning round the globe.
But this is unfortunate that the good motive to define and reach a set of rules as a religion for the better interest of mankind, did not last long. As the human civilization grew, so did grow man's greed for status and power. The scene remains true even today when while one set of people tries to exploit others in the name of religion, the other set knowingly or unknowingly prefers to get exploited or love to dwell in some fool's paradise.
I disbelieve in this concept of religion or perception of a set of defined rules which are set by some human-identified 'God' or a set of stone idols. To me, religion sticks to a set of defined rules, but those rules are the ones which are dictated by the 'self'. The sole philosophy of all the religions of thw world is how to find the true 'self' in oneself. And leaving aside the accessory rules and customs of those religions, I completely agree with them. And I believe the road to discovering the true self in ourselves is to know our set fo defined rules in life. And that 'constitutes' his or her individual 'religion'.
With a cohesive society disintegrating towards being more individualistic, and where we say "... room for ourselves" and "... live and let live", the notion of 'personified religion' sounds to me the best option towards a more 'logical' living and as an insight to the greater meaning of our lives.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I Await...


I stand by the ocean and watch the waves come and the waves go,
I hunt for the blue wave I witnessed in the night's first snow.
The wave that stole every moment of dusk and dawn,
As its memories beam high and low in my eyes' green lawn.

Every droplet is a ray of hope,
Hope to bring back the colors in my life on the blink of a piano note.
A journey, though meandering, it was,
it got me incredible mirth in the maze of life's wildest Jazz.

So was it much beyond just another passing wave over the passing yardstick of time,
But it construed the lemon in my daily lime.
I await 'midst the sand and the water's dice,
A hope, not to find a blue wave alike,
But I wait to put together and get back the wave of mine,
Which brought for me a whole new world of sunshine.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Live And Let Live...

This post is basically a repercussion produced as a result of reading this post from Ramblings
Basically a lot of hue and cry have been going on about banning the social networking site Orkut because of allegations like there 'exists' some community or the other which 'hurts' the sentiments of people due to some 'anti' behavior. And this is not the first time, but we all know that even Blogger was banned in India for sometime due to some insensible allegations.
The grave issue is not whether the petitions are sensible or not. Nor am I encouraing the spread of anti-shivaji or anti-india or anti-hindu or anti-sikh or anti-communist behavior. But I think in all of the successful democracies, a key authority that the people have is their freedom of speecha nd expression, irrespective of whether it is India or US. A person does have the right to express what his or her points of view are, even if they are not amiable to certain group of people. And we should respect one's freedom of expression.
History bears the proof how politics and self-interests have debarred the advent of computers initially and then Internet in certains states in India: the 'dumb' reason being cited as, computer automation would cut down the need for employed people and thereby create unemployment (although now time and the sensex bears the proof of the contribution of IT to India's GDP). And secondly Internet was strongly discouraged because it was labelled as a source of depiction of derogatory elements like nudity and pornography. And lastly, social networking sites like Orkut.
There can be two reasons behind such a parochial outlook on the part of these people who have submitted petitions. One, they are really parochial. Two, the political benefits. Althought he latter seems more likely, yet I do not find any good reason why they cannot look at the brighter side of the coin!
Needless to say, Social Networking is the answer to tomorrow's questions be it commerce, employment (Linked In), dating (Friendster), generic public interests like photography (Flickr, Blogger) or even more generic maintenance of social ties between people (Orkut, Myspace, Facebook). I agree everything is not so red and rosy: courtesy, hike in spamming techniques (Gazzag). But yeah, no doubt, the notion of social networking on the virtual world is bound to take newer strides in different walks of our life.
Let us look at the brighter side of the coin. I personally agree that Orkut has worked wonders for me: I could find so many long lost friends whom I was probably never destined to meet otherwise, as well as could make new. And I know so many other people who would agree with me.
I have seen Orkut 'grow' in the Indian intellectual class, since early 2003. I know how much Orkut has delved into being a part of the lives of many today (including me). Is it justified to punish 95 people for the sake of 5 bad elements?
The answer is of course NO. These 5 elements exist in our real physical world too! Are they conflicting and/or hurting our thoughts and views? May be or may not be. We are not really concerned. We just need our little space to live: live and let live is what we believe in. So why cannot we do the same for those 5 bad elements on Orkut?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Analysis 2006... Wishes 2007...

Although it is not yet about time to analyze 2006's accomplishments, draw in the 'not-achieved's, swear in the new goals or pragmatically single out the wishlists, still I think I know what to analyze and they are pretty simple and straight-forward this time.
This is has not been too bad; probably better than 2005. The reason being, I believe I have made some of the good decisions in 2006 which I think can cull into being 'better' in the long run. Also was I finally able to do/accomplish some of the nicest things I always wanted in life. And what tops the list is the 3 month stay in New Jersey, at stone's throw from New York City: the city I always wanted to be in! And this great experience is all attributed to the summer internship: an experience which both academically and professionally has boosted my confidence by leaps and bounds. Today, given a task, I know it is anyhow 'do-able' however difficult it might be! And yeah the joy in my research. I think it is one of the best things that has happenned in my life! I think I am close to the saying 'research is life...'. Now fingers crossed about some of the most interesting experimental results that I am awaiting in early 2007 from my current research endeavors.
Also although not a very calculated step, but I think my joining the AME lab has been another good happenning for me. I think it perfectly fits in with my philosophy towards research: the inter-twining with the practicalities of life.
Going to core academics, yeah you consider grade-wise, this year has not been anything extra-ordinary.I am still away from clinching a 4.0 GPA. But I am not really worried about that. But may be one of the good things I would like to happen to me in 2007 is probably a 4.0 soon.
And the India trip coming up. Really excited to meet parents after such a long time. And then my very own India: the food, the land, the placidness reigning everywhere. And then my home, sweet home back in Agartala! Too excited to wait till December 25th!
And other than cooking and writing, I think I have discovered two more hobbies for myself this year: a constant source of pleasure, captivity, placation, comfort and satisfaction. And they are photography and reading. I find tremendous boost in my daily life activities with indulgence in some active hobby always. Hope I continue with them for a long time, after this experimental phase.
And lastly but not the least, my wish lists for 2007. Wait, till my more relaxed 'happy-go-shopping' mood post for that! But I can say precisely, they are also pretty straight-forward: a car and a DSLR.
Neither of them is a necessity. But yeah I need both probably. A car makes life easier, and probably open the door for me to explore another hobby: travelling. I have enjoyed travelling in summer and so I am positive about that!
And then the DSLR. Although I am a bit confused if it should be a DSLR or one of the very good non-SLR-point-and-shoot ones like Canon S2 IS. But I would definitely like to explore the options of a Canon Rebel XT or a Nikon D50 or D70. And sufficed with a decent raneg lens like 18-70 mm...
Wish, wish, wish...!!! Lets see what 2007 has in store for me!!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Find Which Celebrity You Look Like!!... Cool Stuff!!

http://www.myheritage.com

Well this is what they (www.myheritage.com) guys' Face Recognition System judges that I look like!! I am pretty amazed!! Try it out yourself!! Fun stuff. But really like this kind of applications of pattern recognition aspects on the open web. Research unfolding newer realms!!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

An Excerpt From My Live Diary

Probably the most complicated of all the things whether a boon or a curse on this Earth are relationships; of any nature, parents, children, friends, partners or spouses! One can slip being too bad or even too good at them. And I am one of all those persons who has seen the latter thing happen more often in my life than the former.
Yeah, I mean all the times when you tend to be really good, caring and sweet at somebody and the person on the other end of the table would not interpret it that way. And then one fine day, you would come to know that the other person was simply conforming to the care and goodness just as a part of giving a vent to your goodness and not really appreciating it. Even if you have the slightest emotional attachment to that person, you are bound to feel as doomed as it can be knowing about this.
I am not being pessimist after these dooming experiences. Because I am know I am happy yet pensive since I have lived up to the expectations of a relationship as I think it to be. Nor am I the kinds who would get to the bar tomorrow and get drunk and 'bitch' about those relationhips. But yeah, I think my age-old notion that guys are a genre I do not like, is probably strengthened after this. The next time I get drunk I will probably be more critical about the masculine folk: if not I get too feminist!
The proper ventilation to this: 'abstract' photography! Yeah, I think I can ventilate all my thoughts through one or the other mundane object around me. And yeah writing. These two are the two blocks which have never belied me since years; writing more, since photography is more new.
Needless to say, this blog, unlike the generic, thoughtful and issue-centric ones which I generally cater to, is more like a personal note from an excerpt from my live diary.

A Temporal Transition

One of the most cherishing and coveted experiences I always wanted to have after coming to US was the Football here. Well yeah, I am talking of 'american' football, which is supposedly the 'heart throb' of both young and the old here: much like cricket in India. So finally grabbed this opportunity to go and watch the ASU vs UCLA game yesterday evening at the Sun Devil Stadium. It was a totally instantaneous decision by me and another friend and we were very much excited! What was just putting us away from the 'football fever' here in the weekends all through the Fall was that we are going to be singled out in the match crowd because we did not wear the Maroon-Gold Tee (read, supporters of ASU). But that was not good enough a reason to subside our sudden decision to go. The evening when I was skeptical to spend even $10 for a drink or dinner, the thought of going to the watch the game threw all the economizing strategies to thin air! I was ready to spare $15 for a first time real football experience!
Leave aside what the result of the game was. It was very vivid to me that ASU will lose to UCLA since it has been really a bad season for us this time. But the only pushing factor that kept me captivated all the time was the experience.
The first thing, it was my first 'stadium' experience of any match. Even though being a huge cricket fan back home in the nineties, never came in lines with an opportunity to watch a cricket match in any stadium. So this footbal thing, though not my 'yet' favorite cricket, was going to be interesting for me! The second thing was of course, getting the 'feel' of the Football in US!
So many times had I heard about the profuse popularity of Football, but I only got to gauge it qualitatively and quantitatively watching the game in the stadium. The most interesting thing is, even if your team is playing badly, you can pass your time watching at the people, rather the attires of them! And I am serious. How weirdly people would dress up to show their support to a team! It was amazing! And then the entertainment that comes in between the quarters and at the half time. Impressive stuff: you can always have something exciting beyond the game! The feel of the 'fever' was great indeed!
Coming back and jotting down my feelings here, I am kind of feeling nostalgic now. I feel like going back to those times when a cricket match playing India as one team used to be one of the nerve-recurring actions and events for one and all of us; those times when we would put cricket on top of probably everything else! And then the joy when Sachin would score a century! A feeling as though of 'self' accomplishment!
I was actually surprised that I literally went back to those memories; more because after the match-fixing thing, I was totally heart-broken and left watching matches for good. But I think this time, trying to enkindle the passion for Football as an ASUrite, I managed enkidling my old passion for cricket to a great extent. I would now agree, "Old habits die hard!" A frivolous event has struck a 'temporal transition' in me...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Cultural Mismatch

I do not know why, but it is so true I miss my days back in India. They were not the best of the academic days or may be that was not the best place for the best career or the best opportunities, but there was a 'life'. I have a laptop, an apartment and a lab now, nothing else...
It has been 14-15 months in US. Initially I used to feel very bored whenever I did not have any work to do in the weekends. I then thought that may be this because it is a whole new place, new people, new culture and new lifestyle here; may be it is because I did not have enough friends till then to hang around with. But surprisingly enough, I undergo the same mental block even today after so long, whenever I am free and do not have many deadlines to meet.
This eventually goaded me to discuss the same issue with some of my close friends. And it seems, they too think alike!
I concluded that there is a basic difference in the perspectives of 'enjoying' or spending good 'life' in the two cultures. Life in India bore a different color and wore a new hue everyday, every hour. There was a very closely knit social clique of very good, good and okay friends. And whether or not all of them thought alike, there was a common goal: the affinity for fun together. And fun was hanging out, eating out, riding bikes, going to long rides, sharing the same aaloo chat roadside, visits to the beach, long walks, bunking classes for movies, late night TV browsing, night long talks, 24X7 yahoo messenger and what not! The list can go on...
'Fun' in America is very different and has only a few dimensions. When people here would say they enjoyed the weekend, they mean they party'ed last night. Yeah, parties with drinking, smoking, girls and may be doping. I do not say drinking, smoking, girls or doping are bad. It is foolish to be so judgmental and I believe it is a personal choice and I do not have any problems in any. But it is both astounding and sad at the same time that fun has so less of meaning in America. And when you talk of friends, mostly you will end up with people aired with an artificiality.
I know I will not ever have the kinds of friends I had in India. I know I cannot ask out a friend for a pani poori session by the roadside some Saturday evening. I know I cannot go crazy and start off on a bike ride at 3 am in the morning. I know I cannot spend the whole night near the dam with friends waiting to see the sunrise. But this is what I sought for...
I know I can ask out a labmate for a drink together. I know I can call in all my acquiantances some Friday night and party together with Corona bottles. I know I can go shopping with my female friends a Sunday afternoon. But this is 'not' what I sought for...

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Much Cliched Debate: Man vs Machines Revisited From a Different Perspective

It has been an innate desire of the human race since the very inception of its civilization, down the times of Adam and Eve, to explore the Nature and tame the surroundings to suit their needs. While human civilization coming down through the apt hands of Galileo, Kepler and Newton in the medieval ages had struck to explore and in a way revere how the Universe is, Einstein, Maxwell and today Stephen Hawking entended the realms of exploration and have bound the human race to think beyond all boundaries of time and space and that it indeed is the most intelligent and superior entity on Earth.
But consider the scenario of today. Flip through the pages of the science and technology sections of any leading magazine or newspaper. It is no longer the news of the 'awe' about the Nature, Earth or the Universe. Rather it is all geared around our achievements how we have taken over all these three: be it taming them to our needs or an attempt to beat the very way the Universe is created or even falsify the notion of 'three' dimensions with 'seventeen' dimensions or even think of time to be cyclic and periodic instead of the long believed belief that time is uni-directional and linear. We, the humans have emerged to be the most powerful entity in the Universe known.
In spite of all climbing to the zenith of success in all these areas of basic sciences, the man of today is not placated with what he has. He wants more control over everything around him. He seeks everything in his environment to be automated and adaptive to his own personal needs. And the most powerful tool that has given man all these options to think about is 'technology'.
Today we are living in a world booming with all the hi-fi electronic gadgets and applications that tend to make our lives easier, smoother and our tasks more adaptive to ourselves: the much hyped concept of personalization. And herein the human race is faced with a whole new challenge!
We are surging ahead on our way to make everything adaptive to what we mean, need or want without any requirement to specify it explicitly. In a sense, the machines of tomorrow will be intelligent enough to automatically get our stuff done in our own way. The question arises: to what extent?
There has been a lot of debate and fiction element on machines taking over man. I am not talking on those lines, but I am definitely suspicious of the hyper-execution of adaptiveness of machines. The only reason man has reigned five thousand years on Earth is because he had his own 'control' over what he wanted to do and he could accomplish that sooner or later. But with these adaptive and intelligent machines storming inside our lives today and tomorrow, it is not far away when man will have little control on what he wants to do, because the machines will be so intelligent and adaptive that they will start taking decisions on our behalf which we might have little control upon to strike a change.
I am not kidding! This is a grave-serious issue. Even though I am one of those folks who is contributing to making those systems more intelligent and adaptive, but honestly I do not want to get counted in tomorrow to be one without enough farsight about machines taking over man.
All the HCI (human computer interaction) research is overwhelming beyond words. But we always need to take care of the subtle thing that we leave enough traces or loopholes in building our systems which can bear the proof and carry ahead the legacy of our being the most superior entity on Earth in the years to come.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Want to be the next Mr India??

Could not resist blogging this new catching research on 'Invisibility' in this article. I am not talking about radars and aircrafts and rockets getting invisible for the enemy, but though hilarious, the 'Mr India' thing does not seem to be too far :D !! Have fun reading the article about how the electromagnetics has realized this fascinating longing of human beings persistent since centuries together...

The Small World Phenomenon: Privacy Issues

While we are always jumping at the very concept of the Small World Phenomenon, apart from all the other rumors and news that have been around, the issue of Aleksey Vayner is really going to surpass the heights of what can happen: thanks to the Small World Phenomenon!
As you would see in this article, the guy made his 'video' resume as a investment banking job applicant which eventually caught so much attention due to his athletic struts in it, that it made its way through all the popular email servers and social networking services like YouTube and MySpace.
The 'food for thought' is not the analysis of the cause and effect of these incidents. It is more grave and profound: an insight into how the very notion of the Small World Phenomenon has changed our perceptions, ethics, expectations and the way we interact with people in our social lives. In my view, if it has enabled us to better revive and sustain our geographically distant kith and kin, know people with similar interests, goals and profession, it has come to conflict people's notion of privacy too as we have seen in this case with Aleksey Vayner.
Privacy is a serious issue that needs to be dealt with in the design of all social networking frameworks. This is all the more difficult and different from the usual privacy maintenance because it deals with humans; people seek all different levels and notions of security. And managing privacy on a public domain with people from different socio-cultura backgrounds and age groups make it all the more a challenge! As I would like to present an excerpt,
"The private versus public boundaries of social media spaces are unclear. On the Internet, the illusion of privacy creates boundary problems. “New users and those engaged exclusively in recreational domains probably feel this illusion most strongly.” For example, in a television interview about Facebook, one of my students stated that she was concerned about revealing personal information online. When the reporter asked to see her Facebook page, the page contained her home address, phone numbers, and pictures of her young son. Without being aware of the dangers of online social sites, she had revealed too much personal information."

Similarly, ViĆ©gas’ (2005) research on bloggers suggests “there is a disconnect between the way users say they feel about the privacy settings of their blogs and how they react once they experience unanticipated consequences form a breach of privacy.” Lenhart (2005) reports that 81 percent of parents and 79 percent of online teens report “that teens are not careful enough about giving out their personal information online.” Moreover, parents of younger teens are more apt to be concerned about the disclosure of personal data.

Social networking tools, have almost become indispensable for teenagers, who often think their lives are private as long as their parents are not reading their journals. Teen use of social networking sites has increased to an average of one hour 22 minutes per day. Social networking sites are “already creating new forms of social behavior that blur the distinctions between online and real–world interactions.” For example, “when students began posting pictures of themselves at parties holding a beer and leaving messages that were hurtful, defamatory or demeaning, schools began considering ways to regulate the speech on [MySpace].” Adults tend to use the Web as a supplement to real–world activities while teenagers tend to ignore the difference between life online and off–line."

The privacy issue needs more attention as we move ahead on our research towards research excellence in social networks.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Netflix: $1 million award!

"Netflix, the popular online movie rental service, is planning to award $1 million to the first person who can improve the accuracy of movie recommendations based on personal preferences. To win the prize, which is to be announced today, a contestant will have to devise a system that is more accurate than the company’s current recommendation system by at least 10 percent. And to improve the quality of research, Netflix is making available to the public 100 million of its customers’ movie ratings, a database the company says is the largest of its kind ever released."
It was a huge wave today among some of the students in my lab; because of this article coming up in the Times today! Phew, folks giving a try to earn some $1 million in one shot with a recommendation algorithm that can override the existing Netflix one performance-wise (10%)! Reading the following paragraph in the news, it seems that it is the new strategy of the industry/certain defence organizations to put the toughest research issue in a competition awarding decent money! Other than Netflix, there has been other attempts by others too like,
"Cash prizes in other difficult technical areas have been offered in recent years. In 2004, there was the $10 million Ansari X Prize for a reusable spacecraft. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is again running a contest involving robotic vehicles with the first prize $2 million. And NASA is offering prize money ranging from $200,000 to more than $5 million for building equipment including lunar excavators and solar sails — large mirror-based equipment intended to collect solar power and conserve rocket fuel."
So keep your fingers crossed guys, it is possible that my lab will be the most amply funded lab in the world sometime soon...
Anyways, this idea can be critiqued as well being a stingy/improvident investment too, apart from the fact that it can yield to a fast solution to an exisitng research problem!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Issue of 'India Shining': A Critical Insight

This post is the extended version of the discussion started in 'Can TCS/Wipro/Infosys Make It?'. I have tried to address some of the points raised here in the comment by dead man walkin.
The first issue is of the huge investments being made in India by software giants like IBM. However, a matter of concern to look at is what all are the domains that the investments are being made? How much of that investment is going to development of some kind of indegenously analyzed/designed product? If that investment is being made with the mere goal to employ a big Indian workforce in some service-oriented regime, it is not really anything which we can be proud of in the long run. How much liberty will the India on-site employees of IBM themselves have in development of a new product which is at par with some of the stuff being done by IBM Research in US? As a matter of fact, IBM in India is 'IBM Global Services' and not 'IBM Research' (the one for which IBM is 'IBM' today!). I am pretty skeptical about the goal of those investments!
The next issue is of the mushroom growth of MNCs in India. Agreed, this is drawing in 'dollars' for us and creating a lot of employment. But the prime motive of these MNCs crowding the south Asian countries is basically because the latter have cheap labor compared to the scene here.
Talking about value-ended R&D, yeah, companies are spawning off new departments, but the scene is still in the ice-age. If we talk about statistics and number crunching of GDP growth and all, I would like to know how many patents are filed from India every year? How many publications are made to the top conferences every year? These are areas we need to give more thought to. Good examples, US, Germany, Japan.
To sum up, the issue is not of 'India Shining'. Nor is it an issue of facts, figures and statistics. Although I am not a huge proponent of 'India Shining', I am not a rebel either. The point I had raised was the scope and extent of quality research work in India. It is unfortunate that it is very meagre still now. But it is true it is very important for a real value added technological prosperity: an issue of primary concern for 'India Shining'.
What motivated this thinking was a personal evaluation though. I am not a prodigy, but I think after an year of coming to US, things have made a lot of difference to me, for the better. I am very different from what I was an year back: I think critically, I am much more sound on my way towards an interesting next generation research. So the question arises, what actually brought in the change? And I think the obvious answer is, the scope, the opportunities and the work environment. These things need to be brought in India too. Needless to say, there is a lot of potential in all of us; a lot of potential in all of who are working in TCS/Wipro/Infosys. We need not be stuck with some work dictated and defined by others outside the nation which just increases our forex reserve. Rather we need to venture into novel endeavors and attempt to address open ended issues which can culminate into a next generation research that can, in turn, change colors of tomorrow's world. We need to cherish an instinct like that in all. And we are capable in doing that, we know. I strongly believe, only then, 'India Shining' accrues a profound meaning for the nation than just mere numbers!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Simulated Universe

In the last-to-last research group meeting we had, I had raised a proposal that besides research, we discuss other topics of interest just as food-for-thought. Some of them sponteneously stumbled upon the argument shooting questions at me "What are we going to discuss? Physics?" (Physics since last semester I had a brief presentation on quantum gravity in one of the casual meetings and when folks asked me why such a topic which is so much poles apart from my research area, I blurted out that I am a big fan of physics, especially astrophysics!). Anyway, our advisor totally acknowledged my proposal to discuss stuff like physics and just casually mentioned one of the books he is currently reading "Programming the Universe: A Quantum Computer Scientist Takes On the Cosmos".
Today I was just recalling that and thought would look for the book or some recent interesting work going on about the computational aspects of astrophysics. Coincidentally, I just came upon this interesting article. Basically the article discusses the recent research which has been done to build a duplicate universe as a computer simulation. Although I would strongly suggest you to go through the article, but some of the things I found too captivating not to discuss in the blog! For example, they say that 70% of the universe comprises something unknown called 'dark energy' which acts like kind of an anti-gravity pulling apart the universe elements like galaxies from each other. The designers of the artificial universe are also very excited about the flexibility that in the simulation they can go back in time or fast-forward time to see the various unsolved questions about the role of black holes and quasars in defining the fate of the universe. The article says,
"
The Millennium Simulation - the biggest exercise of its kind - required 25 million megabytes of memory. But it tracked the 14bn-year history of creation in months and now offers a tool to explore mysterious events in galaxies far away and long ago."
This humongous nature of the simulation project is not only a big achievement in the realm of computational physics, but also an amazing and spectacular consideration for computer scientists! Being one of the latter and with a tremendous interest in the former, it would be an exciting pursuit to keep track of this simulation of the universe: how this actually works out to solve the astro-mystries and conjure up another "A Brief History of Time" all over again! Probably it can then address the much talked of fiction element: whether time is a continuous straight line or a continuous circle, looping over and over...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Grave Issue Of Tomorrow: Power Crisis And Mitigation

I would really suggest you to read this article: Google pushing for energy efficient PCs. Now whether they are doing this to challenge some of the existing giants in the PC manufacturing industry (like IBM, HP etc) or just to cut down some of their huge expenses on the micro-controllers in their research labs is a different story altogether. Nevertheless, on a more commonpace note, one of the prime concerns to environmentalists and power scientists round the globe has been the energy crisis which is predicted to shackle the world in its claws soon. Despite this, coming to US, I was pretty astounded at the way and the extent to which people waste power/energy, especially electricity and water. As an example, none of the computers in any of the labs stays powered off ever! We never remember to power off the lights in our apartments (more since the electricity bill is inclusive in the rent!). Believe it or not, I recall, sometime in a casual discussion with my Dad after my Las Vegas trip, he was telling me that the total amount of power expended in those big-huge video screens in the casinos can actually cater to the power requirement in a few hundred villages in India!
Jokes and analogies apart, the issue is grave and serious. US is a rich country at the present day. And probably that is why nobody cares about saving/being thrifty about expending electricity/water/gas. But this matter needs more farsighted and thoughtful attention by all. It is really a pleasure to find that industry giants like Google are surging forward to throw some light on this issue, even if it delivers some of their selfish motives in the long run!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Can TCS/Wipro/Infosys Make It?

The other day we had a heated brain-storming with a few of my Indian friends here and Indian friends working in India. As my Dad always would say, four years down the line when I graduate with a PhD, and start my hunt to gulp a US Green Card, the situation in India too would be worth considering as an aspiring and inspiring research test-bed. So would my friends in India always say that India has changed a lot. No doubt India has changed a lot, but what kind of a change is it? Changes are always welcome, but are these changes going to be temporally consistent? How will they contribute to a persistent progress in the technology sector?
The Indian software companies are doing good! But check this link of the fortune 100 companies: none of the Indian companies (not to talk of the software sector) appear there! Well yeah still these companies are doing good and at least improving the job sector; but a careful insight will only reveal that all of them are working in the service sector. Basically they are the hunting ground for the companies of US for outsourcing projects! Cheap labor and quick work!
Agreed services are earning revenue inside the country. But this is bound to be short-lived. Being in the research sector and having worked at the much famous and coveted company AT&T Bell Labs-spun-off (Avaya Labs), I know how much attempts are being made here to automate services besides outsouring. And once these are realized, there will not be any need for even outsourcing!
Services, BPO and outsourcing cannot be the areas which a huge nation can thrive upon when we talk about technology. It is a bare truth that none of the good cars, microchips, popular software products are hardly indegenously made in India. So the question arises, what needs to be done?
The answer is a sound research base in India: an indegenous endeavor to risk ahead and start never-done-before projects. Yeah, now the issue is this needs money and involves a lot of risks. But consider the case of companies here like Google. Every other month they are releasing all novel stuff in beta versions (Gmail/Orkut/Google Desktop/Google Earth/Google Imagelabeler). They are risking around, investing money, looking ahead and thereby earning. Earning for themselves, earning for US!
We need to have a vigor like that in the Indian software companies. Mere servicing Microsoft or importing car engines from Toyota will not work long. We need to develop the culture, the culture to take newer strides by ourselves, the attempt to create a scenario where 'WE' can outsource our stuff! Somewhat a look out like hers, my internship supervisor at Avaya Labs.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

All Those People, Or Those Few Rare?

Don't you think twenty-four years of life are quite a long way: not because of the temporal aspects of it, but I believe it is that period of life when you gain the most variagated of experiences ever possible, it is the time when you change 'roles', you meet multi-faceted people, you dream most, and last but not the least, you are struck with the craziest of ideas! It is the time to mould your life in a way you dream of! I strongly judge this period of life to be the most exciting, interesting, beautiful and happenning.

I have met all kinds of people: people with a conservative view of life, not ready to take risks. Then there have been people who do not bother about these things, they think others who 'analyze' like me, or are not 'damn care' like them to be someone 'out of the world' and wasting time, they would label such 'blogs' to be sheer waste of time. Not that they won't blog. They would have a altogether different meaning of blogging on their minds. There have also been people who only bother about making money, to them money is the ultimate solution to all problems. It is partly true though, but only as long as it does not hinder with your desires out of life, your expectations. Also I have met people who would definitely do different things, but would boast on all what they do differently.

And finally there are some rare people who are altogether different from all of the rest. Society calls them radical thinkers. But ironically they are the ones for which homo sapiens are humans today! Had there been no Galileo or Newton, probably we won't have been using this Internet to post this article on the Blogger! Jokes apart, but I think these are the people who rise above the mundane commonplace thoughts and ideas. They belie that life has to be the way any Tom, Dick or Harry has.

My greatest endeavor of life is to join the folk of these people. As an aspiring researcher, I want to be driven by instincts, intuitions and radical thinking. I want to visit those winding, never visited thorny roads to explore every nook and corner possible to research upon. And I believe my best friend in that endeavor would be my faith in self...

Friday, August 25, 2006

Tagged (1)

Candid Diary 's questions have been quite hilarious and interesting! Although pretty late, yet here they go...

If you were to adopt a pseodonym it would be:
Anything other than Mary/Kathy/Kristie... every other woman here has one of these names... oh my god! This sucks...

If Condi Rice/ Jim Kerry proposes you:
Condi Rice: Oh, please, now don't do diplomacy with me!
Jim Kerry: Are you really serious?? Or still being in your humorous mood??

What’s you solution for conflict between Israel and Lebanon:
Ohh wow! Ask Uncle Sam: the so-called mediator of all the wars (sarcastic smile)...

Your recipe for a weird food. Yuck!
'Cockroach Soup': I heard they cook something like that in China! Or may be 'Shit Curry'...

What would you do when you find there is no toilet paper/ water in a loo:
Would first check and only then go! Else look for other options!

What do you do when your partner weighs 300 lbs?
Ditch and will find a new partner!

What do you do with a schizophrenic cat?
Exchange her with the neighbor's!

How do you handle a wrong job?
I am never in a wrong job: since otherwise I won't be there!

When did you have your last black out?
Oh! Don't ask me! That is a part and parcel property of my memory's hard disk!

If you were to choose between aphrodisiac and an aged partner…
Age doesn't really matter always you see: the 'urge' and 'ability' to 'perform' is important!

You catch Cupid admiring his work on you. What do you tell him?
Okay, tell me, what exactly you want?

Something that you would never tell your bf / gf?
That I went out on a date with his friend (not to talk of gf!)...

What’s the secret of your health?
Just not to be too much conscious about it!

One reason why a dog is better than a man:
Dogs don't 'pretend' like Men...

Your message to the blogger community:
Yeah, please do keep on reading my craps!

The Pros and Cons

There have been 5 long years in the engineering sector: now, attempting to steer away a bit from the conventional research realm and trying to look at the engineering aspects from an altogether different perspective, landed into exploring this course on Cognitive Psychology and Ergonomics. But as I have moved ahead of the superficial academic nook and corner of it, I have started to think differently now. This, coupled with me having been in the mundanely-captioned 'Land-Of-Opportunities' for an year now, let me put down the pros and cons of the education system here: might be a lesson to consider for the 'thoughtful' administrators back in India!

Pros:
(1) Education, whatever is your major from Fine Arts to Finance to Rocket Technology, happens under the same physical location mostly, affiliated to the same co-existent university: this faciliates interaction, engineers interested in photography can take courses with the Art & Sciences Department. This encourages inter-disciplinary academics and research. Contrast with the Indian system: now you know why US is foremost in all the good research!
(2) Students in their undergraduation are free for the first two years to look around, take course from several majors from music and theater to civil engineering, and then decide on one as per their performance in those and interests. Contrast with Indian system: you will hardly find another Tom, Dick or Harry complaining that "I don't know why I did enginnering"!
(3) Graduate courses hardly have those time-bound examination concepts. Instructors profess a more spread out and overall performance of a candidate through the semester. Contrast with the Indian system: only the sincere and actually 'smart' guys succeed!
(4) Students mostly are more self-responsible. Many of them are supporting their own education since they graduate from the high school. Contrast with Indian system: you won't find parents visiting their kid(s) every year twice during the exams!

PS: Not to talk about the great 'boons' to our Indian system, like the high degree of corruption, political tools like reservation, the act of selling examination papers much before the actual test, and favoribility on the basis of being some MLA'a kith and kin, minority, or regional/religious/caste/creed/sect/sex issues...

Cons:
(1) Jobs opportunities in US are better; and there really is a high 'dignity of labor'. So you might argue, many undergraduate students can be found to be idling away the four years learning nothing! This is kind of less common in India, since they face this tremendous competition for jobs to survive.
(2) Can you think you another good thing with the Indian education system?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

eRationality

The other day was just going through the MIT Media Lab site (of course, in context of the discussion with some friends and bosses about the insight into human behavior as a computer scientist!). Even if you are miles away from this kind of domain, I would suggest you to definitely visit the research work there as an interesting past time: they attempt to look at some of the most commonplace, intuitive aspects of human mind, tangibility and behavior, far away from the techie aspects of conventional research.

They have a pretty few very interesting research groups. One of them that caught my attention is the group on eRationality! They say, "The eRationality group studies ways in which human decision processes deviate from the expected rational prescriptions. We investigate (and practice) semi rationality, bounded rationality, and just plain irrationality. Our long-term goal is to create new environments: physical and digital, in which tools are implemented to overcome irrationality-based behaviors in order to ultimately increase welfare and maximize happiness."

Imagine some system trying to tackle your unintentional irrational behavior on the Blogger, for the 'welfare' of the larger community as a whole! But more than that, like the ever-unanswered-question "who will guard the guards" the question arises, how do you define 'irrationality'. And provided the freedom that a person has to fully express his/her thoughts and views which he/she thinks rational, who is a system to put a bar to that?

The broader question arises, "Are we embedding technology too much in our lives today? What is a research just for the sake of research if it shatters the very base of how our society is built?"

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Contrasting Philosophy And Technology...

This is not one of those areas that I generally would think of in my idle hours. Nor am I those thoughtful-kinda-philosophical researchers who would think windingly on whatever issues they encounter in casual talks. But it kind of ignited this desire in me to look for what people think in this arena: and that was after we, three colleagues had this heated thoughtful brainstorming on the philosophical aspects to be nurtured in a PhD student of engineering (I was although reticent, just digesting whatever they were putting forward).
The problem is that engineering and philosophy are typically conceived as two mutually exclusive domains. In the minds of most people, engineering and philosophy do not have much to do with each other. They are, as it were, giant islands separated by a large body of water.
In fact, from the perspective of some members of the engineering community - not to mention those of the philosophy community - the situation is even worse. Engineering is customarily divided into a number of different branches: civil engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer engineering, etc. Something similar goes for philosophy. It too includes different branches: logic, epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, aesthetics, political philosophy, etc. Representatives of some of these areas of the philosophy world, especially ethics and aesthetics, seem to have mounted canons on their areas of the philosophy island in order to fire away at selected domains of the engineering world.
Since quite a while, members of the philosophical community or its fellow travellers have been accusing engineers of building nuclear weapons that could destroy civilization, manufacturing transportation systems that are a blight on urban culture, designing communication technologies that can enhance central or authoritarian controls by both governments and private corporations, creating computers that depersonalize human life.
Insofar as they have become aware of such attacks - and to understand and defend against them - philosophy is crucial to engineers. Philosophy is thus important too, in a second instance, because engineers actually face problems internally or professionally that they admit cannot be resolved simply with engineering methods alone.
There are times in the engineering world when engineers ask themselves questions about what they should be doing or how they should do it that cannot be solved by technical expertise alone. Questions of safety, risk, and environmental protection are only the more obvious manifestations of variables that call for ethical judgment in assessing their proper influence on design decisions. Philosophy (especially ethics) is an internal practical need of engineering - and is so recognized by the professional engineering community.
What is mean is not that philosophy and engineering are two geographically distant islands anymore, as is hyped of. Both the parties actually realize the need for a symbiotic relationship in between. And whenever one party would try to let down the other and falsify the symbiosis, 'existence' would lose existence in the real sense...

Friday, July 28, 2006

At The Core And At The Periphery

Research is not just about academics. Nor is it just the other thing one does in life. It is like a journey towards eternity: a coveted voyage and a never ending excitement in life!

I am a newbie in this domain. Still, I believe deciding on a PhD program has been one of the most marvellous decisions I have ever taken in my life. Research has been intertwined in my life ever since. It has delved into every nook and corner of my life, my passions, my thoughts, my every day doings. It has made my life so different!

Things are not so red and rosy in this arena as it might seem to be. Since my childhood I had this wonderful inclination towards new things around us. I was always moved by these novel hunt for the surge of newer thoughts, explanations, beliefs, endeavors; till, I came to know that this is what they call to be 'research'. But it was never so easy: the technology submerged and exposure congested ambience around us in India always put a bar to kids thinking on the unconventional lines of a career: and I was no exception! But I am happy that, my ever long desire to stand differently in life and somewhat aversion from the mundane thoughts did not dry up the old borne desires of hitting challenging things in life. And I came here, the much proclaimed 'Land of Opportunities' for the first and the final endeavor of my life!

Yeah, this is the first and the 'final' endeavor. Because I believe, human beings can be sincere to only one endeavor in life: and the priviledge goes to 'research' in my case. For me, it has widened up newer horizons, for I believe, research is not just another job you would do 8 hours a day and then it would dwindle away from your mind. It is something which is ever persistent: not the work, but the essence of it. And experiencing that essence changes your life altogether! I feel as if my mind is now 'open', it is 'free' and this feeling of freedom, believe me, is so different and captivating!

Research is not knowledge, neither information. It is a perennial source of acquired wisdom, something which is much above the former two. And it is this wisdom which would nurture the difference in everything: it sows the seed to reap harvest on a 'complete' world by the attempts to mitigate the 'incomplete' things. And that is what which would make one feel so 'complete' in the end.

Research is a committment, a life long committment for me. Getting at its core, do you experience its beauty and finding answers to the problems around you, you cull out answers for your own 'self' being: in a manner as though one has been destined to do this through the life as it comes. At the core and at the periphery, the world gathers more meaning, the horizon extends to infinity and you strive to be just a part of it!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Orkut: The Status Quo Of Today

Now it has been long in the minds of everyone who has been there around in Orkut since quite a while. Isn't there kind of a 'status quo' associated with certain things in Orkut which would define someone to be 'active' or 'popular' or 'famous' on Orkut? I am sure you understand what I mean!

Here are some of the things I think could be branded as the parameters of this 'virtual' status quo in this 'virtual' social community worldwide:

(1) Number of Friends: The bigger your friend list is, the more status you have. It is so because, it reflects how huge loads of friends you have made till this time. And being able to make more friends has a common conception (or misconception?) that the person has an amazing outgoing and amicable personality, a direct indication of being able to stand out in the crowd, more status in the vitual community!

(2) Number of Fans: Perhaps one of best things that has made Orkut so much popular is its notion of being fans of your liked few. Should you have more fans (hilariously preferably of the opposite sex!), it means how you are liked by all around you, more diverse shades in your personality!

(3) Number of Scraps: What does that indicate about Status Quo, I am sure you might be wondering! Well, in my view, I think it potently declares how good (or bad) communicator you are. Of course, should you have loads of scraps in your scrapbook, it also does hint that people around you are concerned/interested about you. Don't you think that these things count towards being a person who can direct, lead, mingle with people? Does not the number of scraps then qualify to be a parameter of Orkut's Status Quo?

(4) Fans-to-Friends Ratio: This is another interesting aspect to look at while analysing this Orkut Status Quo thing. What it defines is a parameter called Orkut Performance! Imagine a person who has just joined Orkut, may be three months back. Her/his fans-to-friends ratio would dictate a farsight into her/his Status Quo. How? See, should this ratio be same as the ratio of another person who has been in Orkut for a while and has decent status on Orkut, with current friend count more than the former, it can be predicted that the former is going to gain more or at least as much popularlity on Orkut as the latter soon in the coming times!

(5) Orkut Album and Profile: They are clear enough indicators. More impressive the profile is, the more expressive you are. The more the tendency towards unusual tastes and variegated photos (especially of your travel in distant lands!), the more does the status creep up!

(6) Testimonials: They are there to testify the varous shades of your personality. People would write their friends' testimonials as though the friend has been the best and the most perfect person in the whole of the Earth! The more of your friends indulge in this act, the more proof does it bear to your acquired status!

(7) Communities: People visiting your profile really 'dig' into your communities. A varied tasteful person would subscribe to so many elite taste oriented communities: it would give the other person a bird's eye view of your overall personality as a whole. The impression the person would conjecture out of that conjures up your status in her/his mind.

There can be many other things also. Some of you might disagree on the whole notion of 'status' associated with a virtual social community; or some of you might be thinking I am crazy about analysing an issue which is dumped with fake profiles, so what is the point in wasting time over surmises of the associated status. But I think these things would always be there. Are not there people with fake identification in your real world?

I firmly believe in the notion of these virtual social networks, not because that is one of my areas of research, but because it is something which I feel has been a boon of technology with an incessant target to hold and knit this disintegrating world together!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Difference: Why Or Is It Worth It?

Have you ever wondered the ill consequences of we, the human beings, being able to 'think' and 'feel'? Ask me, I would say, these are the worst things for which I would curse Darwin's Theory of Evolution!

We, the human beings, 'think', build up all different kinds of relationships, cheer, enjoy, share, fight and the relationship grooms. We generate as a consequence, more and more expectation out of the world around us, the people, the relationships, be it parents, friends, spouse or boss! But as you see the things sailing all smoothly in the waves of time, there is this one unruly wind which comes and blows away everything: leaving little or no marks or remnants of our treasured relationships over time. They are the toughest times: we get upset, we lose our strengths, we 'feel' as though the life has come to an end. We still try our best to make all ends meet, to grab a shaft in the profound dark waters: sometimes, to only meet a fag end eventually. Still we never give up, we dream of newer dreams, 'think' of brighter things and in course of time we by hook or by crook cull out a way, a motive to keep you boat of time sailing forever!

So as we started off in the beginning of the blog, we 'think', we 'feel'. How is it so? Do other animals/plants also 'feel' or 'think'? What is their rationale of life to them? Is it just survival and reproduction? Or more wide horizons as us: better lives materially, good career, advancing technologies, fruitful and potent relationships? Are those living beings hurt the same manner as us? Do they fall in love like us? Or more appropriately, do they fall apart and then again gather strength to get to life when a precious segment of life, say relationship would sever?

Many of you would say that 'no': they do not have a brain, or a less developed brain to think to this extent. But don't they have their definition and parameters of living? They do have all the basic instincts as us, fighting for survival or finding an apt mate: so why not 'emotions'?

To argue, if they do not at all have these traits, then why 'we'? Why is it the human beings who have to be so different and probably as bad to suffer on feelings? If you would say, it is something which has been inherent in the fact that human beings rule the world today and not lizards or rhinos, then I have a question for you: has this authoritativeness brought mirth to the world, or has just been another ill consequence of we being able to 'think' or 'feel'? Intelligence the 'cause' and 'mental suffrage' and 'termination' at the end?

You are to answer, are these kinds of abilities in human beings, a boon indeed? The difference, why, or is it worth it?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

We, The People

Preamble
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Visit to the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia last weekend was a different experience altogether. Probably it was a feeling that makes everyone, be it an American or not, to experience a very unique feeling altogther: as if you are a part of this piece of land since eons, as if you are obliged to feel proud at its achievements. Talking practically probably it is just because of the way they present it; or may be something else, but I truly loved that feeling! Experiencing that wonderful feel is now like a coveted cherished dream deep down my heart.

As would the preamble dictate, I don't know why I find it as captivating our very own India's preamble. A strange sense of freedom and liberty runs through the who of your mind: its unforgettable.

After my visits to Washington DC and Philadelphia, called the 'Home of Freedom" that is, the place where the declaration of American Independence was made, I somehow have arrived at this conclusion that the Americans really project very 'wide' their sense of freedom, their liberty, their power, their huge realm of achievenments in every sphere; talk about their National Air and Space Museum in DC showing all those real NASA rockets, Appollo or the first plane of the Wright brothers all of which have revolutionized the progress on the roads of mankind, or be it the delegate session in National Constitution Center in Philadelphia conjuring up the whole scene of declaration of American Independence. I found it to be really awesome because it aroused a sense of pride among everyone and kind of, in a way, recapilutated all what US has done towards the betterment of the mankind, whatever may have been the actual motives!

I was just wondering why is the scene so different in India. Even on August 15 or January 26, not even a handful of us feels proud over our achievements; just tell me how many Indians know that the progress we have made in these 59-60 years since Independence, its one of the most peaking in such a small duration as well as something everyone of us should be proud of.

I don't mean all Americans are patriotic. Nor do i say that Indians are unpatriotic. But one thing I believe the difference lies in where the former knows that they are a part of a strong nation, a segment of a strong cluster of mankind, and that feeling takes care of everything. But unfortunately it is the exact opposite in India. We feel gloomy, we feel insecure, we feel left out, we feel inferior; although a careful invetigation will only reveal that we have as many things to feel proud of as are things to feel gloomy. So better look at the brighter aspect; and then there would be no reason to say, I am an NRI, not an Indian!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Dim Sum Vs Momo!

Yesterday finally had this expeirence, tried this new thing: Dim Sum! Italy won and coupled with a bored weekend trail, just thought of eating out. But was in no way interested in getting ready and going out: a mile's walk from the dorm. What just clicked to my mind is ordering something home. Moreover some colleague told me earlier that there are these few eateries (specially Chinese andThai ones) nearby in and around the beach who make 'free' home delivery! The next thing, pick their menu and dial their number...

Yeah but I needed to decide what to eat: espcially I being a very much Chinese/Thai cuisine person, it takes a while to decide. So with a lot of vigor, started off reading their menu from the very beginning: what just flashed by was this 'Dim Sum'. I thought 'wow' that would be great to order! The final menu: Dim Sum and Spring Rolls... ymmm...

On eating I found Dim Sums quite resembling those Indian momos: the specials of the north-eatern India, specially Guwahati or Shillong! Next was thus a 'cyber' research on the difference and similaries between the two!

They say that originally a Cantonese custom, dim sum is inextricably linked to the Chinese tradition of "yum cha" or drinking tea. Travelers journeying along the famous Silk Road needed a place to rest, so teahouses began springing up along the roadside. Rural farmers, exhausted after long hours working in the fields, would also head to the local teahouse for an afternoon of tea and relaxing conversation. Still, it took several centuries for the culinary art of dim sum to develop. It was originally considered inappropriate to combine tea with food - in fact a famous 3rd century Imperial physician claimed this would lead to excessive weight gain. However, as tea's ability to aid in digestion and cleanse the palate became known, tea house proprietors began adding a variety of snacks, and the tradition of dim sum was born.

More research went on. What is it, exactly? Let's start with what it is not. If you're the type that enjoys browsing through a menu, then a dim sum restaurant is not for you. There's no ordering; instead you choose from a wide assortment of snacks that the waiters bring out on carts and trays. Also, if you're looking to have a romantic lunch, then a dim sum restaurant probably isn't a good choice. First off, the atmosphere is hardly conducive to romance, what with the clattering of trays, people calling out their orders, and large groups of people talking at each table. Besides, the best way to enjoy dim sum is with a large group; otherwise you'll fill up on a few items and miss the opportunity to sample everything!

Now momo is the other name of the traditional Tibetian dumplings (Dumplings is again Chinese!). The two are similar in the sense that both are steamed and both are stuffed with minced or grounded chicken/beef or pork (anything else do you know?)! There is also yet another weird variation for momos in Sikkim: cheese, usually fresh cheese stuffing!

Now you can enoy some great taste of dim sum (but sorry, just for your eyes!) in the pic here above!!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Finally, made it for the Trip: Boston Is Here...

It had been a much waited weekend: the 4th of July. An escape from those rigorous office schedules, many a times boring, many a times too melancholy. It just occurred to my mind that time is ripe to go around and visit the bare miminum places: you see, when you are staying on the east coast for 3 months! Count on the weeks and find that it has been 5 weeks already, and not many good places I have been, save liberty and simply loitering around 42nd St Broadway and watch those plays (which, to me, are good one-time-see, but not more than that!). Even those hot dogs are not enough to keep you engrossed for even a single day beyond 5 weeks!

The issue, might be sounding a bit weird, but the prime motivation for the trip was not really places, it was an escape from that haunted, lone, cold, dull, gloomy ambience of south Jersey. A break was then a mere necessity...

Landed up in Boston on Saturday late night: imagine, first time experience: slept the rest of the night in Boston South Station. But now one thing I know, nights in city's din and bustle are not that bad, provided you are not concerned about your security! When woke up at 8 am on Staturday or something, the neck was really aching bad: the ill postured sleep!

Started off to get the subway to New England Aquarium. Nice place out, surrondings quite a lot resemblign those of old-now-modern cities like London. Star fishes, Jelly fishes, Penguins and Sharks: all captured in that 512 MB new card I bought from the Manhattan mall the day before. Time to leave for the Science Park.

Dinosaurs, NASA and everything. More captivating part was although left to the end when we were about the leave for the Boston Tea Party Ship. It was a wonderful river side view from the background of the Science Park, as you see here above.

Boston Tea Party Ship was a different experience altogether. Very different touch from those perceptions of a busy city: much reminding of the days European colonies in US. And it was there where I ventured finally to try some proper seafood: guess what! oyesters! It was a simple oyester sandwich, but tasted awesome, esecially in an ambience surrounded by ships and cruises, an old harbor and a distant skyline!

Left was the major attraction of Boston: the freedom trail. It was evening by that time and I was really tired. Still how could I miss that 2.5 mile walk on the freedom trail? The biuldings on the freedom trail were special, built in the olden times and keeping up those heritage and the rich American culture that was imported from Europe. Far away were those huge buildings well lit like a busy city. The contrast was really vivid!

The trip and the day as well ended when we boarded the chinatown bus from South Station again in the evening. Passing by, I could see those directions to board buses for Montreal and all, and a sweet, quiet but passionate urge crept inside me: when will I ever make it to more beautiful places?

Friday, June 23, 2006

My Techie Life...

It has now been two days since I have been debugging the Python script. One problem is fixed, that the next one would come up. But the feel is now much much different. Its not like those times of ASU when there used to be sleepless nights and erroneous codes. I still remember that night towards the end of the Spring semester when I did not sleep the whole night and kept working on the avaya code. I had a meeting with Ajita and Doree next day at 11 am. Still, it was just too much inside my head that I should show a preliminary agent-selection, however it is possible. Despite that the results were not that great, still it was a big boost to my enthusiasm in the project!
Okay, I wont any more drift away from the topic I was initially discussing, yeah, so what I was telling is that, I now really curse the ASU CS Dept that PhD students can do only one internship. Had they allowed more, I could have really gathered handsome industry research experience in these 4-5 years! Its funny but you know, what really came to my mind right now is that duration of this PhD! I have just taken two and two courses in the past two semesters and I really dont know if I can finish graduating in next 4 years. The load after coming to US has been pretty much, more since I was not used to this kind of ambience before. And then a first hand hand to research! Yeah, but I would really admit that after joining Hari's group, things have changed in life! The approach he adopts in training students, specially the newbies, is awesome (let me not talk of those meeting 'wait' times!).
Hitting back from New Jersey to Tempe, it would be again the rigorous life a graduate student. The worst part are the courses! Yeah, probably this Fall I would want to get rid of those 'have-to-take' stuff: Combinatorial Algorithms, and Software Verification, Validation & Testing. The former is known to be really tough. Let's see what is in store for me! But yeah, I am sure, after Avaya, I will get back home with much more confidence than before, and beat the teneousness much better!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Academia and Industry: Research With a Difference!

Corporate Research! As if a whole new sting of nice feel runs from the top of your head to the toe! So here is me, in it, by luck or by effort, by hook or by crook!
Avaya Labs Research, the then spun off segment of AT & T Bell Labs; the Bell people, who have long been known for their services as telephony people across the world. But yeah, believe it or not, Avaya does stuff which is much much more interesting than those conventional stuff!
Its basically IP which is their center focus money delivering 'cow'. But the department I am into, Collaborative Applications Research, extends much beyond those peripheries. Its interaction, communication, presence, availability, interruption: but all considered on an entrerprise domain and from a user perspective.
Anyway, after a whole lot of technical jabbering, I should now talk sense and talk like a human being. What made me dig up this corporate research thing, is that it really preapres you for life. Any situation; I learned how to grasp things in no time and be ready to implement and use them at the tick of the mext moment. I understood nothing is unmasterable if you have the desire to deal with it. And that is what matters in life in the end!
I have like learnt four new tools since I arrived here and used all of them. The code is now being demoed to customers and will be ready to sell once we are done. This has given me a tremendous feel of satisfaction and confidence! From now on, I believe, my courses when back in Tempe will not give me nightmares or sleepless nights!
And yeah, my schedule! I swear, I believed it could never set to right till I came here and got into this habit of getting up early for office. And its so true that starting your day off early changes your life! All along the day, your vigor is on and you accomplish stuff much better!
So count it in: take my word, corporate exposure always helps!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

How is 'Blogging' There in Your Books?

So here is Munmun back to the 'blogging' world after almost an year: see, how long a vacation it has been! Or was it really? Things have changed like daily meals: nevertheless, better don't ask me for the good or for the bad. I guess a sensible, diplomatic and pragmatic answer would be: yeah, it has been a mix of everything: after all, its the life experience that matters, not the 'good' or 'bad' of it. Anyway, after enough of philosophical note in the very beginning, I now want to change the track. Yeah, I have been writing since long back, many times regularly, sometimes intermittantly, but one thing was always common: it was mostly my explanations of my life experiences, but now I want to fetter those shackles, all I want now is to capture the essence of it: that is what sticks with you in the end at all times!
Being into research for an year, the very word 'blogging' or 'blog' has a whole lot of diversified meaning to me. Let me jot them down here (you will find 'your' definition of 'blogging' here probably!):
(1) 'Blogging' is a juicy pastime after a kind of tiring, rather grilling office weekday or a day long work with your advisor.
(2) 'Blogging' is a platform to resume your writing habit again and to brush up that really coveted hobby/skill(?) .
(3) 'Blogging' is a means to ward off the idea that there isn't a boyfriend/girlfriend!
(4) 'Blogging' is a side job while you are doing some really crap surfing or chatting on blind 'cyber dates'.
(5) 'Blogging' is a means to ventilate your subdued frustration after watching a highly bogus movie last night.
(6) Yeah, those comments by your friends after you write a blog isn't a bad time pass at all! On a serious note, you can judge your thoughts, compare with others and have some fruitful, mind-boggling discussion with your best friend on Yahoo Messenger or the phone.
(7) Ask my faculty advisor about 'blog'. He would say, "Ohh yeah, it is one of the best means to visualize a social network in a virtual world like Internet. I am extremely interested in social networks. Like, you can mine those 'blog' databases to find people of similar taste and interest. Like a company dealing in cameras might want to mine a blog database and find cliques of people particularly discussing some special model of Canon or some newly released feature in Nikon SLRs."
(8) Talk to my internship mentor or supervisor. They would look at the 'blog' from their product selling's point: "Yeah, blogs. They are an immense source of information for us since we look at the user (person) perspective in social networks in blogs where there have been very little work or real time system development till now. We can have some really interesting publications later."
(9) And yeah, how can we ignore that 'blogs' are the 'food for thought' for people in Google, Yahoo and Microsoft Research? No, you should not get jitters of tomorrow in some corner of the newspaper you read that Google Search will now be driven on personalized scales: they would now use the social network structure analysis from places like Orkut and the blogs on the open web to direct their search for you: just and specially for you: ones that taste your tongue!
(10) After subscribing to all these nine dimensions to think about blogs and blogging, what do you now expect my thought would be? Or will I at all be having any tenth thought on blogs? What do you say?

Monday, May 15, 2006

SHE GOES ON AND GETS

The ripples of sea water,
The sunset there,
Beckoning waves and the blowing winds,
And the passing Sun’s blare:
The end of one ‘Day.’

The ‘day’ tough though,
Toiling through and through,
Not to talk of a break;
Not even heeding out through the track,
Consequences it might yield to,
Work and Duty- being the lone facets to cater to.
Who knows how the sunrise tomorrow is going to be,
The vast oceanic life is culling to be.
Her job is done,
But no eye to if it should leave woe or fun;
A new ‘Day’ and novel responsibilities,
And again a selfless journey without knowledge of all feasibilities.

The curls and curves of life,
A voyage as though on the edge of a knife;
So amidst this vulnerable ambience,
One and all has to carry through with patience,
Shattering all sense of expectation,
Lest they end up in one’s wish’s violation.

That very person will then continue to view every sunset there,
As each day passes and a new day awaits with glare;
And then through the red sunset, she will peep into the golden sunrise,
And someday her heart will unfurl with joy and surprise,
That her honest labor is here to gratify,
The caustic salt of the sea water failing her toil and success to ramify.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

FAILURES ARE THE HOPE !

Came down on me all the gloom of Earth ,
Which I had not faced since my birth ;
Life stood standstill ,
Without a bit of my consent or will ;
It was as is coniine had entered my nerves ,
Driving all my thinking into labyrinthine curves ;
The sun of my life connoted to be set ,
In absence of any chance to let me awake .

But as I sat in trance by the seashore ,
I heard a rather bizarre furor ;
I found that it was my conscience ,
Showing me the ray of hope and patience ;
Hope ,which never prevaricates ,
The tireless pursuit of happiness which it never abdicates ;
Hope obliged me to obviate my anguish ,
To mirthfully embrace my failure and my life to refurbish ;

Because ,failures are a prelude to success ,
And hope taught me to smile again with a digress ;
So today I do not want to obliterate ,
My appalling failures with ponderousness ;
And ,I know today with failure and success juxtaposed ,
The two adorn life with tenuous but profound ecstasy aforth .

Saturday, March 18, 2006

UNEARTH...

I can see the sunrise there,
Beckoning me to survive,
A light to guard me through the dark layer,
So that I continue to struggle forever.

Life is not an end,
It taught me that,
And should you face with not a fame,
It is never your fate to blame.

So time is yours to muster up
The courage you have within,
To write your fate with ink evergreen,
And never to let it screw your work in.

Proceed hence, like a winner,
And you will not find anybody then to shatter
The confidence you embed deep down;
And then only you can dream of winning the real crown.
Belief in yourself is what you need,
And then you can afford to lead
Even the worst segment of your fortune,
To paint it all over again with your own maroon.

So yearning for a success is never enough,
If your chivalry not overrules all the tough,
Blow forth the zest hidden in your handful,
So that you conquer all the mournful,
And then every sunset will accrue a sunrise,
And it will not at all come as a surprise!
Unearth your innate flair,
And that is what should be your soul's blare.

Monday, February 27, 2006

THE MUSIC OF HEART

Agony had delved deep into her blood,
Imbuing her nights with tearful floods;
For, clutched in between her love and responsibility,
She knew her love's ultimate goal's infeasibility.
Responsibility was something she was obliged to stick to,

And she felt it better to live with a broken heart hitherto;
Life was but driven into the deep darkness of despondency,
And mind being a cadaver's occupancy.
And then, all of a sudden sun seemed to rise once again,

Inkling the dawn to a new life without terrain;
She felt how materialistic she had been,
Merely looking for her love's culmination as her thoughts used to careen;

Ashamed of her selfish attitude,
She ultimately decided with enough certitude;
She would carry on with her love with all her venture,
To enable it bloom with even more care and nurture;
Love turned to be the essence of her life,
What if she knew it will never yield a settled sunrise;

And how placated she felt with this truth of her life unravelled,
And she went about her life with this harangue;
To preach one and all with all mirth,
That love is ever above all the world: truly, the music of heart!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

...To IMPART THE JOVIAL TOUCH

Reasons enough you will find to turn sad,
Which will make your life hellish and mad,
And dig out every petty cause to numb your senses,
Certainly stupor is the result and life being marked by tempest.

Life is thus a turmoil and struggle its way out,
So know life to be a road amidst thorns,
But let your legs get stout,
To reap life's harvest and to gains the corns.

It is you, who can afford to make life happy,
For, only you can cling to every miniscule reason and that is not uncanny,
Believing round the clock that tears are not of your share,
And dreaming a dream and not a nightmare.
Happiness and the feeling of success are not things which are awarded,
Only you have to realize it and feel rewarded,
Therein lies the spirit of life and the key to satisfaction,
Extirpating you time and again to inundate with placation.

So rise from the ashes, and be placid,
And let it be a reality and not fancied,
Because, you are yourself the maestro to "impart the jovial touch",
And then woes never matter much!