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Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I wrote two Thanksgiving posts today. These posts tell me on what my state of mind is today. Here they are:

[1]

In 2008 US Presidential election, all attention was given to the undecided voters. No one gave a damn about people who had decided whether they are going to vore D or R.

Going on a similar note, i do not care about people who read my blog regularly (mainly me). So on this Thanksgiving, I thank those people:

(!) Who visit my blog rarely.
(@) Who are undecided on whether they should visit it or not.
(#) Who come here because they searched something on google and google said that this url will end your search.
($) Particularly those who searched Hazaaron Khwaishein aisi on google.
(%) Who leave anonymous comments on my blog and those who leave comments but i do not have a clue who you are.
(^) And finally to those who will come until the next thanksgiving comes.

I thank you all. And for all those regular viewers, if you want me to thank you, stop being regular. As they say, ghar ki murgi dal barabar

[2]



On this Thanksgiving, I thank the terrorists who attacked in Mumbai yesterday/today and all those who have done so since i was born

Today, I thank you for making me realize that
(!) all my thoughts on how wonderful this world is,
(@) all my hopes on we will survive, flourish and triumph over all obstacles,
(#) all my beliefs that anything can happen where there is a will ,
($) all my ideas on how we can change this place, change to improve this earth,
(%) all my fundamentals that the right to freedom is the supreme right and should be respected at all times,
(^) all my views that this world is rational and humans are rational beings,
(&) all my sentiments that love is supreme and will eventually heal everything

were false.

I thank you very much for ruining my world, my country, my day for me. This has pushed me into an abyss of introspection and hopefully i will emerge stronger or may be not emerge at all.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Brilliant game

In my Cognition and Culture class, we were asked to play this game.

Everyone was asked to write a number between 0 and 100 on a piece of paper. The winner will be the person whose number is closest to half of the average.
The above was told to everyone.

Brilliance:
Now, the question is which number to choose? If everyone chose randomly, the average (by law of large numbers) will be 50 and so its half would be 25. But everyone knows this fact. So everyone will choose 25. But if everyone chooses 25, then average is 25 and half of 25 is 12.5. So the person who guessed 12 would win it. But again if everyone choose 12, then half of average becomes 6. One can continue this series until one reaches 0.

But what number to choose?
Do you think your friends are smart(rational) enough to understand the above recurrence. Or are they simple morons (irrational) who would choose a random number between 0 and 100 without giving any thought to others.

Before reading the results, think of a number.

Results:
I chose 5 and i lost. The average was 20 and its half becomes 10. Winner was a person who chose 8.
The distribution was something like this. 2 people chose more than 50 (irrational), 2 chose 0 (the complete rational ones - Although it is still a question : Is it rational to assume that everyone around you is rational? I think no.)
Most people chose between 15 and 25 making the average 20.

I chose 5 with the assumption that there will be some morons but overall the class would be smart. I was wrong. There are more irrational people in class than i thought. Why some one would choose above 50 is beyond my knowledge.

Apparently, there has been a study by some researcher conducting the above in different groups to see if there exists any pattern. I am yet to find it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Boxing, Music and Fishes - Life in Oct 17 - Nov 19

1. Visited Geogia Aquarium today. All thanks to Hasan for this one. An amazing day. Four whale sharks, a water dragon, 3 Belluga whales and lots of other fishes. I have seen World's largest aquarium.

2. Boxing: I am almost done with beginner stage of boxing. Joined it about 2 months ago. Intentionally didnt wrote about it for so long as i wanted to see that i will be regular. And i was (well almost!). The credit for me joining boxing goes completely to Shobhit. In my HKA spirit, there are many things that i want to do /learn but boxing was never one of them. But when Shobhit came up with this idea, i said why not. And it has been an amazing experience. Taught by a girl and she literally can kick my ass any second. Without a doubt, i will be among the worst boxers in that class but still i manage to punch something. It is a good sport but not the best one.

As Seinfeld pointed out, the idea of two people fighting in a ring with boxing gloves is a waste if the fighters do not have any argument. It is a fake. Give them something to fight, some topic some argument and then you will what real fight is all about.

3. Bach and Forth: A introduction to western Classical music. See my playlists on imeem to check the music. This one is really interesting. We go there and sit for about 90mins and simply listen to good classical music. It started with Baroque era, then classical, followed by romantic and now modern era. With little notes and small introduction about music, these 90 min sessions were some of the best stress relievers of my semester.

4. Meditation : Still continuing with Sahaj Marg meditation. It has been good so far to try it out.

5. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick. Read it last week. Interesting read. Though i had seen the movie Blade Runner which was inspired by this book, i found this book still interesting. There are may differences between book and the movie; although both are good but i think the book keeps it more real than the movie. Hollywood tried to create that hero vs villian thing while the book keeps up with its theme and gives a more deep scenario.

6. Watched Rashomon, Drunken Angel, Righteous kill, Bank Job (very catchy), Taken, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (FINALLY!). Finished all 6 seasons of tv series 24. Season 1,2 and 5 were really good. 3,4,6 were average but the show is quite addictive overall.



Monday, November 17, 2008

Rashomon

Finally, the wait is over for me. Watched Rashomon yesterday and loved it. Generally, i have been running high on Kurusawa fever this sem but Rashomon still remained elusive until yesterday.

It reminded me so much of Night of January 16 by Ayn Rand. When each character narrate their stories to the judge, we never see the judge, they just face the camera. It is us who are put on trial, it is us who has to decide. Brilliant!

This movie is credited in imdb as the reason why oscars had to invent foreign language category. Isn't it interesting!

Takashi Shimura is such an amazing actor, he gels in every role.

From across the universe to maama mia!

Across the Universe and Maama Mia!
A comparison, sort-of-a review and some thass!

I watched Maama Mia recently and while watching it, i was constantly reminded of Across the Universe. Both are musicals in the sense that all songs are taken from a band and fit in the film appropriate to the story. Across the Universe uses Beatles and Maama Mia has songs from Abba.

While Across the universe was very very good, maama mia is an average movie with bad direction. Abba songs are chirpy but sung with an intensity, both of these things are missing in maama mia songs. Even the story line is not the best to use Abba songs. But the worst part is that actors singing abba songs differ a lot from the original. While its always good to watch Pierce Brosnan in a non-bond movie, Merryl Streep was a disappointment to me , i expected better.

On the other hand Across the universe took unheard actors (atleast to me) but they sung very well. But all difference was made in direction as Julie Taylor handled the story very well. Another point was that i was familiar with Abba music, so to me for some in maama mia, it was a sacrilege. They ripped them off. And justin told me the same thing after listening to songs of across the universe , but i ignored him as he is a Beatle-maniac :).

But one good thing about maama mia was that it made me realize that abba in addition to good music had also some great lyrics as well. That was a revelation to me in some songs. I guess the biggest blunder of Maama mia was to not use the song - thank you for the music in climax. I was waiting for it till the end.

It is a very interesting genre of movie making..basing your story in a backdrop of some band's music. But you are walking a very thin line. I am waiting for movies using coldplay, doors and zepplin. Or are they already there?

Interview Process

Currently sitting at SFO airport, I am waiting to board my flight back to Atlanta. With this, it marks the end of my job search phase aka what will i do after i graduate.
During the last 2-3 months, i have given interviews with many companies, got some rejects and some accepts. This post is dedicated to all companies who interviewed me. And to take it the next step, i am going to rank them w.r.t to my experience. Sounds pretentious, huh? Well, there are some drawbacks of watching Colbert report everyday and this is one of them. So without waiting, lets begin:
Parameters considered to derive ranks below are : (a)Quality of interviews (b) Logistics (Transport, food etc) (c) Overall interview day experience (d) Misc , wherever applicable.

1. Microsoft: Without a doubt, giving interviews at Ms deserves rank 1. The experience is just awesome. I do not think there is any company out there which spends more than ms to interview its people. One just needs to clear a simple (30 min) round to get a ticket to Seattle and after that its a fun trip. While interviews are msft are no longer the best ( i mean they are not the most difficult to crack) but in all other departments, msft is spot on. In addition to a budget of 75$ per day, transport excluded, they even pay for sight seeing. Ofcourse, my trip gets exponentially magnified because of my friends there.

2. I..M....O.: Can't write their full name as they must have used a blog alert. A small startup in Palo Alto, they had very good interviews. One of their innovation was they did not asked to write code on white board; instead they gave me a laptop hooked with a projector. So while i was writing code, they were looking at the projector as if some movie was going on. In addition, they give a Amazon voucher to all their candidates :), thats why i have a misc category above :)

3. Google: Google has to go a long way to catch up with microsoft in this regard. Their interview questions are at par with ms ones but they lack in providing proper logistics. It was good but not complete. One thing that struck me was that Googlers couldnt stop boasting about themselves. So you have got 19 cafes, 3-4 gyms, massage facilities, shuttle services with internet for transport, do not disclose it to me until i get an offer. This would be a huge disappointment for those who get a reject. (Disclosure: My google iview result is not out yet).

4. C-a-u-s-e-s: Another startup based in Berkley, CA, their interview questions were very very good. Each startup has some innovation in their interview process. In this case, their phone interview had a rapid fire round to test overall knowledge. In onsite interview, i was asked some really interesting, never heard before and unique questions. Plus the team was also very good.

5. R-a-p-l-e-a-f: This is again a startup from SF. It lies at an extreme end of interview process. People say that their mantra is "No false positives" and in order to ensure that they go a long distance. My iview process started with a written test, followed by a telephonic interview, followed by another telephonic interview after which they asked me to develop BlackJack game in Ruby. After this, i had another telephonic iview. Then, after 4 months, i was called on-site where i had to give a presentation on some tech topic of my choice. After the presentation, i had 6 tech interviews. There was also an HR interview somewhere in the day. The questions they asked were good but dude, if you ask me a prob question after 8 hrs of interviews and presentations, i am in no position to think at all. Their logistics were decent given the fact that they are a startup. They can no longer have msft like budgets. Gone are those dot come bubble days!

6. B-l-o-o-m-b-e-r-g.: One telephonic and three tech interviews followed by one HR. All happened at tech campus. So cant grade on logistics, however they did offer me to visit their NY office after giving an offer. But very sub-standard questions in interviews and that HR lady was getting on my nerves.

7. Rest: C-i-t-a-d-e-l, H-i-v-e-F-i-r-e. O-o-y-a-a-l-a: Insufficient data to give concrete results. There is only one reason why the data is insufficient :) . And to be honest, i agree that for some the fault is mine but for the some the fault is at their end as well.


I really had hoped to give Apple and Amazon interviews just for the sake of it. Well Apple will never call me but Amazon, you let me down. Finally, i urge everyone to take msft interview, even if you do not intend to work there. Its an experience. A learning experience that teaches how rich companies spend; what lavish expenditure means.


And just to compare it with Indian interview process, its almost the same. Well,(for most cases) there were no onsite interviews for freshers as companies directly visited the campus, but the questions asked were almost the same. I can never forget my Trilogy interview. It was done inside a hotel room with all interviewers having one room. We assembled in another room, all interviewees, to wait for our turn. It was a great experience. May be because trilogy was my first love when it comes to job :)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Postmortem

4 days after the US. election day and the fever is slowly getting down.
I believe that the best way to document history is through images. Images clearly win over videos as in an image, time is still. One can see it over and over again and feel the moment. Images vs words is a big debate and i side with image because words need one's own visualization while images give a direct view.

Aninda shared these images: http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/11/the_next_president_of_the_unit.html

NYTimes had a slide show on How Obama won.

Obama's tech savvy campaign had a flickr profile where there are some 50K photos, right from the day he announced his candidacy. http://www.flickr.com/photos/barackobamadotcom/

But, i guess the best photo comes to me from Nandini's blog post: she looks like the future, reaching out to heal the past.

There is another website now : http://change.gov/. A website from obama campaign to discuss changes needed.


But after the elation begins to die, i am reminded of another election that is soon going to happen.
Come May 2009 and India will decide what happens. The preparations have started. LK Advani is going to BJP's candidate. On his bday, yesterday, he announced his own website : http://www.lkadvani.com/. Congress is (not sure) going to continue with Manmohan Singh if they continue.
Its time to start following the future else present and future will be on different tracks soon. I hope the journey will be as good as it was here in US.

Things that am looking forward for:
1. Good journalism. Media makes all the difference in elections these days. CNN had a truth squad which was reasonably unbiased in exposing both Dems and Reps.
2. An Indian counterpart for daily show. :)
3. Technology savvy campaigning. Come on India, its time now.
4. And finally, good candidates, better campaigning. Can we reduce divisive politics ?
5. Good voter turnout in cities.

As William wordworth wrote (came to know about it from here):
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very heaven!--Oh! times

Let that dawn be now.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

He won! He won!

As a child i celebrate today.
He did it. He won! He won!
History has been created today!
"Yes, he did."
"Yes, we can."
"Yes, i can."


And again he didn't disappoint us with a speech. See and read it here.

Here are some excerpts:
IF there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons – because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America – the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that “We Shall Overcome.” Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Anil Kumble

This is not a yet another tribute to Kumble. This one is going to be different.
Yesterday, almost every paper wrote about him and everyone had the same - keywords Underrated, modest, humble, respect, admiration, dignity, integrity. (PJ: If i apply a machine learning algorithm, it will tell that each article is plagiarized from another with 95% confidence) Yeah, Yeah, i have read all articles out there. But this is not what i have in mind.

This post is a letter to you, Anil. I am not done with you so you can not just walk out. If you are thinking that you have already done so much for the country, the team etc and what does this blogger want now, then you are in for a surprise.

I want more. Yes Anil, if you are reading it, you have read it correctly. As simple as that. I want more from you and it does not matter to me if it is related to cricket field or not. Well, if you want to be a coach/commentator, then its fine by me but then that's not what i want. I want to know more about you, what you are going to do. Here is what i need you to do

1. Start maintaining a blog. Write what you feel like. Even if it is only a line like "Only one team played in the spirit of the game" . That one line will be enough to read the whole media coverage. And not just about cricket, write in general.

2. Write a book, your autobiography. I want to read it. Write what you think of Indian cricket, its good things as well as bad and esp the ugly, your experience and your take.

3. Just do not walk away from us like Javagal Srinath. It was good to see Srinath come and do some commentary in between but after than he never returned. Kumble sir, your opinions, suggestions , thoughts are extremely valuable. We may not reply back, we may not write about you, but there are still readers in this world who follow you closely, who respect your opinion.

You see, we are not the kind of media who will tent outside your house to track all your moves. But we will have our ears and eyes open to see what is happening. And we are the genY media - aka we also want our life to be easy, so we want you to inform us about your blog/book etc.

And before i end, i just want to say "Thank you". We are grateful for what you did in the game but we are more grateful for reminding us what the game is about.

Also your name is now included in the "saare gunah maaf" list.