Archive for June, 2009

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Powerful Quotations

June 30, 2009


I am always hungry for quotations. I consider them to be pearls of wisdom. I call the following quotes powerful because, they have had a huge influence in changing the way that I have thought about certain things/people.

“The Liar’s punishment is not in the least that he is not believed, but that he cannot believe anyone else” – George Bernard Shaw

Think about it. Just think about it. I have reduced lying just because of this single quote πŸ˜‰

“The mind is everything. It is in the mind alone that one feels pure and impure. A man, first of all makes his own mind guilty and then alone he sees another man’s guilt” – Sri Sarada Devi

I don’t remember where I read this quote, but the explanation given there for the above quote is even more interesting – If you get angry about a particular quality in someone (say jealousy), then you have that quality somewhere deep inside you and you are actually getting angry due to the presence that quality in yourselves. You don’t normally get angry when you read the news of a murder in a newspaper, do you?

“You are responsible for whatever happens around you”

I don’t really remember the exact wording of this quote, so the one you see above is an approximate version of it. I was first thinking how this could be possible. I mean, if my neighbour falls down on the road, how can I be responsible for that? But then, the truth and the wisdom of this quote slowly took me over. There was a School Pupil Leader (SPL) in my school who was walking around when he say a little girl (may be 2nd or 3rd standard) kneeling down outside. He asked her why she was kneeling down, and she said that she didn’t do her homework the previous day because they went for a movie. He immediately went in to the class, spoke with the teacher, apologised for the girl and made sure that she was back in the class after promising him that she would be regular with her homework in the future. That was not his job and he need not have done it, I have even seen previous SPL’s who were arrogant, bossing around etc. If you understand the wisdom of this quotation, you will understand why certain people are born leaders.

“When you show a finger at someone (blame someone) kindly notice that one finger points at him, one finger points at God and three fingers point back at you”

So if you are a believer of this quote: “The United States has taken all our best and worst people from us”, then you will realize that you need to read the previous quote once again! Ok, this was done just to add some humour πŸ™‚

If there were similar quotations which influenced you, please put them down in the comments section or in your blog. I would love to add them to my collection!

Destination Infinity

To read similar articles, you could visit the Quotations and Humour section of this Blog.

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The Burning Man

June 26, 2009


Extreme Self reliance, Extreme Creative self expression – That summarizes the spirit of The Burning Man.

Burning man is sort of a cultural extravaganza held for a week every year at the Black Rock city at the Black Rock desert somewhere in the state of Nevada, United States. The Black Rock city is a temporary inhabitants created in the middle of a desert where a large gathering of people come, stay for a week, live on very minimum resources, indulge their creative senses and go away after a week. There is no trace of inhabitants either before the event or after the event.

Extreme Self-reliance:

It is a desert. A group of people are going to live there for a week without shops, cell phones, concrete shelters etc. The only thing you can find selling there is ice and tea. They don’t encourage any kind of commerce there. There is not even a barter system. You are expected to take enough food, water, gas stoves, portable showers, tents, mattresses, cycles, medicines and every thing else that is required to sustain you for a week. But portable public toilets are provided, though. Mind you, thisΒ  is not an excursion spot – It is a desert with extreme temperatures – very hot (Up to 107 degree F) in the mornings and freezing temperatures in the evenings and nights. Combine that with occasional wind storms and heavy rainfall. If you forget to take something vital, you can only rely on your neighbours – and they need to gift it to you – no payment or exchanges are allowed! Even if you need to send a message to a friend who is somewhere in the city, you could write in a piece of paper, give it at the central camp and hope that he would collect that paper from there – how about that for Short Messaging Service πŸ™‚ ? The most advanced electronic gadget allowed there is a AM/FM radio (as that might catch some signals) – you cannot even take a camera! They encourage you to bring cycles so that you can move around (no cars allowed for moving around), interact with other people (This other people count for last year was 40,000+!!). So, you basically occupy a camp site, set up a camp, live there for a week and take everything back (including the waste) so that there would not be any trace of human occupancy of that area for the rest of the year! You can burn your camp materials at the end of the event, but still need to take back the ashes.

Extreme Creative self expression:

Why exert yourselves to live in such daunting conditions away from the comforts of a posh city or a comfortable village, you may ask. There is a reason – the organizers and participants believe that your creative senses are kindled and you become more open minded and participative in such situations where you closely connect with nature in its raw form.

Art is expected to flourish with theme camps all around the place. You are expected to participate in some form and that should include the community as well. You can host an art camp, where you can paint and display your paintings and let others stroke a brush or two. You can create sand sculptures and teach others to create their own! Some one even made a 30 foot high wind mill all out of wood! You can create music (Speakers are allowed, but restricted to certain decibel levels) and let others dance and enjoy it. You can give a lecture on chaos theory and invite others to speak on the topic. You can even create a small golf course and play with others. Basically, it is about creative expression and collaboration. There are plays staged in the centre camp, where people could write, and act. There is absolutely no limitation to what you can create – If you cant create art, become one by dressing up like a tribal, or decorate your car to make it look like a forest. Or you could walk around, cycle around and even sleep around – if you love sleep :-).

Yes, at the end of the week, they do burn a giant structure of a man and people form circles around it to celebrate and realize the fact that they were no longer what they were. It is more of a self discovery, discovering your loved ones and connecting closely to nature, that attract thousands of people every year to this place. You can find more information about The Burning Man and the experience people had in their official website.

Nice concept, isn’t it?


Destination Infinity

You could visit the People, places and culture section of this blog for reading similar articles.

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Chaos Theory – Is there a pattern in randomness?

June 17, 2009

Chaos theory is not about disorder. It is about finding an order in disorder.

Can you imagine that a mathematical equation can predict the next earthquake? Can you imagine that a mathematical equation could be used by your DNA or a plant’s DNA to replicate patterns? Can you imagine that even the stock market and change in commodity prices follow a certain pattern? Chaos theory addresses such complex questions (No doubt, it introduces further complexities πŸ™‚ ).

The name “Chaos Theory” comes from the fact that the systems that the theory describes are apparently disordered, but chaos theory is about finding the underlying order in apparently random data. Chaos theory is the qualitative study of unstable aperiodic behaviour in deterministic non-linear dynamic systems. Aperiodic behaviour is observed when there is no variable describing the state of the system, that undergoes a regular repetition of values. Unstable Aperiodic behaviour is highly complex: It never repeats and it continues to manifest the effect of any small perturbation. A chaotic system needs to show high degree of sensitivity to initial conditions. Only then, it is classified thus.

The research started with Edward Lorenz. He was a meteorologist and was working on systems that predict the weather. He had some equations which he used for it, and in 1961, he needed to wait for hours before getting the results from the computer, as existed back then. On a particular simulation, he wanted a second analysis using the same data. So, instead of starting from the beginning, he run the simulation from the middle by manually entering the values of that stage. But this time, the end result was totally different. The cause for such a result, he later found out, was that – instead of .506127, he just entered .506 – That small rounding off created totally different results!

This was called the butterfly effect – an offshoot of the chaos theory. In the above case, a small change in the input variable could cause a huge change in the result. Like wise, the flapping of a single butterfly wing today produces a tiny change in the state of the atmosphere. So, there is a chance that over a period of time, what the atmosphere does, diverges from what it would have done. So, a tornado that was supposed to occur in a different place could have been diverted because of this small flapping (OR) the tornado which was never supposed to occur, might occur in some place! So, all our actions might be interconnected after all!

Interconnection is fine, after all we are in a complex system with multiple variables. But could there be a pattern to the interconnection? Can the interconnection be predicted?

Natural phenomena seem to have some sort of inbuilt rhythm or an established pattern – Like planets going around the sun in a cycle, the decay of radio active elements etc. But what about activities that have heavy human intervention – Like the prices of a commodity? Now it gets complex.

An employee of IBM, Benoit Mandelbrot, was studying cotton price fluctuations. He obtained all the data available on cotton prices from 1900 to about 1960. When he analysed the data with IBM computers, he found out that each particular price change was random and un-predictable. But the sequence of changes was independent on scale : Curves for daily price changes and monthly price changes matched perfectly. The degree of variation remained constant over a sixty year period that saw two world wars and a great depression!! That’s scary, isn’t it πŸ™‚ ?

Now you need to know about ‘Fractals’ – which is defined as an object whose irregularity is constant over different scales. It is a rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be split into parts, each of which (at least approximately), is a reduced size copy of the whole by a property called self similarity (An object that is exactly or approximately similar to a part of itself).Β  You might want to watch the video at the end of this article, where one such fractal pattern is shown.

Fractal structures have been noticed in many real world areas – Blood vessels branching out further and further, the branching of a tree, the internal structure of lungs etc – They are all self similar. In fact, researches developed a simple set of three equations that graphed a fern (A branch of a fern, which shows a good degree of similar patterns at multiple levels).

This started a new idea – perhaps DNA encodes not exactly where the leaves grow, but it just encodes a formula that controls their distribution. This can apply to the distribution of blood cells in the human body too, which shows a fractal characteristic. So, by using fractal formulas, DNA might control how the blood vessels might branch out and the nerve fibers get created. Is there a possibility, then – if the DNA does not hold the entire information, that even the behaviours can be mapped by some equations? DNA is a complex subject, and maybe some time in the future we might get some of the answers.

In fact, some equations are already being used in Earthquake detection, which can predict an earthquake based on a lot of input factors. Or the weather forecasting. These are examples of applications of Chaos theory.

So, can things in nature be simplified to a set of equations? Is there a pattern to certain seemingly random happenings? Does this impact free will? See the video below which explores more on this subject.

References:
http://www.imho.com/grae/chaos/chaos.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_theory

There was one recent movie – Dasavatharam (Dashavatar) which used these concepts to create a story line. There was more to that movie than just butterfly effect says my friend – You can read his analysis of the movie in two parts – Part 1 and Part 2.

Destination Infinity

PS: This article will keep changing, as I am too confused! So, if you notice any mistakes or have more interesting information, you could reperesent the same. You could visit the Concepts and Ideas section of this website for similar articles.

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SiliconIndia Startupcity event in Bangalore – Speeches

June 11, 2009
I was invited to cover this event – SiliconIndia Startupcity, which was held on 6th June, 2009 in Bangalore – NIMHANS Convention Centre. Since the event was about start-up companies showcasing their technology and exploring the possibility of funding for their new ventures (Some of which were in the IT Networking technologies segment), I decided to go. There was one more interesting reason why I was keen – The speeches scheduled on that day. All of them by high profile speakers.

As usual I was late by about an hour or so. So, I totally missed the first speech by Sanjeev, CEO of Naukri.com and Ajit, CEO of Rediff.com (So much for professionalism πŸ™‚ )

So, when I went in, there was a speech going on about Cloud Computing. It was a very brief introduction to Cloud Computing (By Amazon) and they focussed more on how Cloud Computing can help new technology startup’s to test their prototypes. Like, if someone develops a new application and that requires say, multiple servers and a lot of disk space, they could like rent the infrastructure with Amazon only for the time that they need to test them. Of course, the application could be hosted there, but the payment was on a hourly basis (They even gave out the tariff!)

The next speech was by Sun Microsystems on their Startup essentials programme. Here they told about how startup companies (At least having an SQL database and some other criteria as mentioned in their website) could register for their program for free and utilize their resources – technical (and even marketing) for free (For testing purpose, Co-marketing etc.). You could get more information in their link.

The next speech was by Nokia. They insisted on developing an ecosystem for a wide category of service providers in the mobile internet space. They asked the start up companies to look in to the end user needs in India’s niche segments and come up with models and services (on mobile) for these segments. It seems anyone (developers) can access their remote device access over the internet for testing the mobile applications on the Nokia mobile phones (existing and soon to be released). But no one was clear as to how the revenue is going to be generated via the mobile internet!

The last, and the most interesting speech was given by Mr. Sanjay Nayak – One of the Founders of Tejas Networks (who provide carrier class network and communication solutions for the Telecom Service providers across the globe. It is an Indian company, by the way). Some of the interesting highlights from his speech on that day:

“Win in India, you can win the world”
“When you have a good solution for the domestic market, a lot of partnerships wil open up in the world level”
“Take advantage of the lesser R&D costs offered by the Indian market”
“We always raised more money and we raised them when we didn’t need them. Create value with what you get, whenever you get it”
“Find a niche that big players are not concentrating on (There are always such niches) and concentrate on them. To get an idea of such a niche, just talk to the customers. They know better”
“We outsource almost all our hardware component manufacturing. The fact that China is making strides in hardware segment need not bother us. The differentiator and the heart of the technology is in the software. Not the hardware. And India is already a leader in that”
“Defence segment is the biggest spender in any market, during any time. So, even in India, a start-up ecosystem needs to be developed around the defence segment as that would fuel a lot of innovation and good returns. Most of the leading technologies are manufactured for the defence segment, and then adopted in other consumer/commercial streams”

That was a heart warming speech, to listen to an Indian company which is making global in-roads in a highly technical field with good success.

Then there were the product introductions by various start-up companies and I too visited their stalls to have a peek at the products they were showcasing. I am covering the technologies being developed by some companies specific to the IT networking technology domain in my other website – excITingIP.com – Blog section. Do visit there, if you are interested in them.

Destination Infinity

You could visit the Concepts and Ideas section of this blog for similar articles.

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Love, Kadhal, Pyar, Prema, Preethi…….. (Short story)

June 6, 2009

This is a work of fiction and hence need not be generalized.

When you are all sixteen, you have to fall in love with someone. He never thought it would ever happen to him. But still, there was something about that girl that was bothering him. She was not among the most beautiful girls in the class. She was not even extravagant or beautifully dressed. In fact, the kind of dresses she wore were quite plain and simple. Maybe it was her simplicity and casual attitude that attracted him – he didn’t know for sure. There was one thing that sent electric shock across his body – her smile. Especially when she smiled at him. Benjamin Alva Edison or who ever it was that discovered electricity didn’t invent any formulae to calculate how much this version of electricity could affect people!

He had spoken with her a couple of times but each time he found out to his dismay that of all words available in the English language, he could recollect only ten or fifteen words! All grammatical rules broke down when he looked into her eyes. He was hopelessly in love with her and took some time to realize it himself.

He was not sure if he should go and propose to her. If she rejects the proposal, he would not be able to handle it. But what if she accepts? So, he could propose to her (or) not propose to her. Let us not restrict this story to one situation and look at both the situations (12 B style).

Situation 1:

It was not that he didn’t have the courage to go and propose to her. But he would never be able to handle a rejection. He thought it was better to remember her in his heart forever like this, than knowing that she didn’t like him. He didn’t propose to her even after three years when she handed over her wedding invitation to him. Even though it would have been very late, that was the last chance he had – if at all she had similar feelings for her. But he decided not to, making his love immortal.

After 5 years:

He met her in a wedding reception of a common friend. Both of them were married by then – to different people, of course. He told her that he had a crush on her back in the college days. She replied that she too had a crush on him. Both of them had a hearty laugh and went away to their respective homes.

Situation 2:

He thought it was a risk worth taking. At least, he would know if she loved him too. He was not able to stand the suspense anyway. It was much harder than he thought. His heart was beating so fast when he approached her. But this had to be done. The question needs to be asked. Somehow accumulating a lot of courage, he muttered “I think I am in love with you”.

“Really?” She smiled. The same electric smile.

“Yes”

“Awwww. How sweet! You can be my boyfriend”

He was undoubtedly elated. After a couple of days a small inconsequential thought raced his mind – ‘Why was she mentioning about him being her boyfriend? Maybe she wanted to be friends till marriage and then fall in love afterwards. How thoughtful!’ he reasoned.

He never fully realized the meaning of that until three years later when she gave her wedding invitation to him. He was dumb-struck. Totally speechless.

After 5 years:

He met her in a wedding reception of a common friend. Both of them were married by then – of course to different people. She said,

“You know, maybe I should have married you back then”

He was once again dumb-struck and once again totally speechless.

This story was inspired by this Tamil song and this Hindi song.

:-p

Destination Infinity

You could visit the Short Stories (Fiction) section of this blog for similar short stories.

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Veena – The sweet musical instrument

June 2, 2009

Destination Infinity

You could visit the ‘Music/Photo posts’ section of this blog for similar articles.

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Why a wireless network is required at home and how to set it up

June 2, 2009

Regular readers may skip this post.

Β€ In most homes, there would be more than one user accessing the internet. And wireless is the easiest, cheapest and the most convenient way to share your internet bandwidth. The speed might decreasy slightly, but the user experience would still be fine in Wi-Fi.

Β€ Even if you are a single user, you may want to access the internet from which ever place you like – without all the clutter of the cables. Since most laptops give a decent battery life, you could browse without your power cord as well – totally wireless. So, you could access internet through Wi-Fi from sofa, lawn, kitchen etc.

Β€ More devices can be added to your home network without any additional hardware/ cables/ network switches required. The wireless network would easily span 15-20 meters and does not require a line of sight – walls don’t block your Wi-Fi network.

Β€ Many devices are wireless enabled (Including some laser printers, multi-function printers, IP Cameras etc.) and they work on a Wi-Fi IEEE standard – 802.11a,b,g,n etc. Even your desktop computer could work with Wi-Fi if you add a wireless adaptor to it.

But there are certain security considerations you need to be careful with – As your wireless network could be reached even from the road. So, a detailed set-up guide and minimum settings to be made on home networks to make it secure and efficient can be found in the following link:

Setting up a wireless network at home

Destination Infinity

You could visit the ‘Concepts and ideas’ section of this blog for similar articles.