9:51 PM | Author: Siva
Have you wondered about making a Hangover juice ? How about making Chicken Tikka Masala ? The right way to tie a Half Windsor Knot ? All these are answered in one site. VideoJug , new venture. The videos are short, with correct descriptions, warnings, all the bells and whistles.

I tried the instructions from "How to fold a T-shirt in 2 seconds". It really works. Try it out. It is fun.
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7:37 PM | Author: Siva
NY Times article "It's Not the People You Know. It's Where You are." says lot of VC's still obey the 20-minute rule. If you want VC funds then you have got to be within 20-minute distance from their offices. Which means you have got to find a office in Silicon Valley. Not just that. It is better if it is in Mountain View. Understandable to some extent. The VC's are investing so much money they may expect it. People who want the money can either move there or find an alternative.

Then the article has this

"Silicon Valley is not “bigger” in a literal sense. In fact, it remains geographically contained by the Santa Cruz Mountains on one side and San Francisco Bay on the other. The physical features of the place help explain the Valley’s vitality.

MR. JOHNSON, the venture capitalist in Palo Alto, noted that the greater Los Angeles area also has a pool of talented engineers (working at aerospace companies like Lockheed, Northrop and Hughes) and great universities (notably Caltech and U.C.L.A.) and plenty of money to invest. “But in Los Angeles,” he said, “people are scattered across a wide area; everything is more spread out.”

It’s harder for entrepreneurs to meet with one another and with investors, he added. And that means connections take longer, deals move slowly, fewer companies are formed. “Like a gas, entrepreneurship is hotter when compressed.” he said."

Pearl of Wisdom.
2:47 PM | Author: Siva
Wall Street Journal has an article titled "He Drinks, She Drinks" (summary page). The entire article requires subscription. But I will quote the article here to give some idea about it. The central thread is "Men can't order anything they find in the cocktails list, you have to be choosy otherwise risk being called a sissy"

As drinks menus have increasingly skewed toward female tastes, men have grown leery of experimenting with new concoctions. Many guys eschew the cocktail list partly because they know what they want before they walk into the bar -- an example of what Anthony Burgess called the male preference for "old pipes and torn jackets." But I also think men cling to what they know for a sense of social security -- a Jack Daniel's is a safe, embarrassment-free drink, so why order anything else? Thus a vicious circle: With men hesitant to venture onto the cocktail list, menus skew even more heavily toward female tastes.

This isn't much of a problem for women. They can choose to indulge in the saccharine offerings designed with them in mind, or opt for more serious drinks, all without reproach. Women who buck convention and drink gin Martinis or Scotch on the rocks raise no eyebrows -- instead, they are rightly applauded for the sophistication of their choices. But for guys, the choice brings no small risk of social stigma: If men think that they're being judged by the drinks they order, they're right.

"There is nothing quite so disheartening for me as to see a rugged hulky man swagger in, take a seat, and grab the girly-drink menu," writes Ty Wenzel in her memoir "Behind Bars." A fashion editor at Cosmopolitan before she turned her hand to bartending, Ms. Wenzel writes with dismay of any chiseled-faced man "sitting here having a melon martini." Delivering the cocktail to one such specimen, "I made it known to him that I have no regard for him as a man." And all the poor fellow wanted was a drink.

Then it proceeds to add from a survey of Men and Women's choices
"Cheers, a magazine for the restaurant and bar industry, regularly does surveys to find out who is drinking what, and where. Recently it asked Middle American men and women their favorite mixed drinks. The top seven male drinks were Rum and Coke, Screwdriver, Gin and Tonic, Seven & 7, bourbon on the rocks, (Gin) Martini, and Scotch and Soda. And women's favorites? Margarita, Pina Colada, Daiquiri, Vodka and Cranberry, Cosmopolitan (but of course), Mudslide and Sea Breeze."
and adds a suggestion
"You can be pretty sure that if a cocktail's name even hints at love, it's a girly drink. The bar at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas has its Brazilian Love Potion (light rum, strawberries, pineapple, sugar syrup and lime juice). The cocktail menu at BLT Prime in New York features Aphrodite's Potion (champagne, "fresh berry melange" and blackberries). One SixtyBlue in Chicago offers L'amour (chocolate vodka, Chambord and Frangelico). Or how about just plain Amour (espresso, Amaretto, brown sugar and whipped cream) at David Burke at Bloomingdale's in New York?"
and concludes with
"With any luck, men and women will find it easier to get together over a drink -- the same drink, that is."
But if you ask me I am not the one who sticks only to those rough drinks. Sure, Jack Daniels or Johnnie Walker on the rocks will be on the top of the list, but an occasional pina colada is fine with me. The thing I get uncomfortable with is the color (Sex and the city style pink) and the umbrellas. But mostly the bar tenders are good enough to warn on those.

But if you are in US be careful what you order. I heard a bar tender in Bangalore say Long Island Ice Tea is famous and the crowd is predominantly men. So I guess it is ok in Bangalore to order that Pina Colada. Hope things haven't changed.
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11:36 PM | Author: Siva
It is this problem "Poincare's Conjecture" that started it all. The problem is in the area of topology. I am not going to pretend to understand this area. The problem has been in the list of millenium problems of Clay Mathematical Institute and it was open for nearly 100 years vouches for the difficulty of proving it. Then Grigori Perelman, a Russin mathematician, claimed he had a proof for the conjecture and started posting them in arXiv. It is not the usual way. Especially when you have proof for one of the toughest problems around you don't just post it. You will normally publish it in a peer reviewed journal. But he chose not to do that. He just posted the proofs and then gave a series of lectures in US about it. That is all he did. He never attempted to publish it. All this happened way back in 2002.

It took 3-4 years for some great people to verify it and convince themselves that the proof is correct. But these 3-4 years didn't go without controversies. Grigory Perelman had used Richard Hamilton's earlier works in the field as a basis to prove the conjecture. There were other proofs. Recently when Perelman was awarded the Fields medal there was an article in New Yorker by Sylvia Nasar (It is a long one, but will give you some background) . This had some serious allegations against Harvard Mathematician Dr.Yau. Dr.Yau was one of the collobarator and friend of Hamilton. Two of his other students worked on the proof too and recently published the proof in a journal where Dr.Yau is the chief editor. Some people find the proof similar to Perelman's proof. Dr.Yau is a Fields medalist himself. That is the highest honor in math. What is his motivation for wanting more ? I don't see any. The article says

“It’s all about their primacy in China and their leadership among the expatriate Chinese,”

Now that is some serious allegations against an eminent mathematician. Another quote says

“Yau’s not jealous of Tian’s mathematics, but he’s jealous of his power back in China.”

Dr.Tian is Dr.Yau's student. Every teacher will be proud his student's achievements. I doubt they will be jealous. Dr.Yau supporters' letters are in his web page. But so far there is no letter from the student objecting the Newyorker article which is suspicious. Meanwhile, Perelman didn't accept the Fields medal.

Meanwhile The New York Times has another article with the title Emperor of Math.(Again a long one, this supports Dr.Yau) The subsection on Poincare's Conjecture is with a title "Messy Proof". It is unfortunate for such a problem's proof to be in this controversy.

When I started my higher studies, academics appeared to be a field where there is no groupism, politics, greed. Especially mathematics departments where materialistic things like a Benz is often frowned upon and bicycle is the preferred mode underlined those beliefs. Sadly, all of those problems exist. It is not to a level they affect the work done in these departments. But they do exist. It is rarely for money. But sometimes for power, fame and legacy. Hope they remain too small to affect the work done in these departments.
2:35 PM | Author: Siva
The Hindu reports that Google is finding it difficult to hire talent in India. The report is actually based on the speech of Kavitark Ram Shriram, a founding board member of Google, in the Investing in India conference. I will agree with the argument itself. It is difficult to find the right talent. The Hindu's article itself is an example.

Check the article. It is from PTI. The first part is the report about the speech itself. Then they contacted Google India's spokesperson and published his views. So far so good. But they continue

"Meanwhile, people in the blogspace are also blaming the talent crunch Google is facing to the recent controversy related to the company's social networking service Orkut."

Where did that come from ? That is surely a googly. So is it Indians are boycotting Google because Orkut had a 'I Hate India' group ? But The next line is the best

"Orkut is evolving into a major controversy as Indians are really concerned over privacy and there is no privacy on the site," wrote a blogger.

So even the Faltugiri is not the reason. It is privacy. Who is this blogger ? Blog Search at least shows only one other blogger who has that in his blog. But he has the same aforementioned article reproduced in his website. I will take blog search's word and assume there is no such blogger and it is the author's words. But still Why will Orkut evolve into a controversy ? Why will this lead to Talent crunch for Google? The answer escapes me.

Sure. It is difficult to find talent. The standards of India's National newspaper proves it.

Follow up : The same piece of wisdom is also published in ToI.
10:26 AM | Author: Siva
JAM magazine is conducting a survey of Engineering colleges in India. It is going to be a difficult rank colleges all across the country. But I guess the 66% peer group rating will eliminate most unknown colleges. To take the survey you have to be a current student or recent graduate. (2003 or newer). That is sad.

I know, among the handful of readers of this blog, a good number is from TCE. So pass this on to our current students and recent alumni.

The survey is here. The details are at Rashmi Bansal's post. As pointed out in the comments the survey itself misses some points like research if any, number of students who go for higher studies, industry interaction etc. Still the survey is a very good effort and worth participating.
1:42 PM | Author: Siva
Guess what, my favorite beer Miller Genuine Draft(MGD), is in the top 10 brands. (The news is old but I just found it) Apple is at a low 59 and MGD is at 9. That says a lot about this beer. This is one beer that changed my perception about, well, beer. I used to sprint at the sight (or the smell?) of UB's Kalyani Beer in India. MGD changed it all. And here it is in top 10 brands with me as its loyal consumer.

If you want to know how loyal are people to MGD check this letter from a loyal MGD drinker and reponse from Miller.
2:45 PM | Author: Siva
Let us demystify some of the myths that shrouds Computer Science and Programming.

Myth #1: Coding is like driving a car. You need a driver, not a mechanical engineer. For God's sake NO. Coding IS designing a car. Try writing a compiler, web server, OS. Or for that matter try writing a good small application. How about writing the software that executes your bank transactions, stock trades, auto pilots, cruise control, handles insurance claims ? Is that like driving a car ? You need qualified people for creating these. If you appoint just drivers you will get icicidirect and citibank like software.

A sub-myth is that the above myth is true for only Indian IT service companies. A lot of Indian services companies have clients from banking, insurance, automobiles, aircraft design. If everything else is equal any recruiter in Indian IT company will choose a CS grad to a non CS grad. The problem is there aren't enough good people with CS degrees. Sometimes brilliant people with non-CS degrees are better than a stupid CS-degree holder. So changing the requirement is not an indication that the job can be done by anyone. It is just an indication that the company need to increase its revenues. Hiring more people is one of the ways to do it. So they just changed the requirement.

Rarely will these people create any software of importance in their lifetime. They may manage others who do it, but never themselves. The companies know it, the people who get hired like that know it. So that is the hurry in moving higher in the management ladder. So you see a bloated middle management in most services companies. If some do create software of importance, it is because by that time they have learnt so much about computer science that they are qualified like a CS guy to do it. To continue the driver analogy, they hire drivers, a lot of them learn to become auto mechanics, rarely will they understand aerodynamic design but they know how to fix a starter trouble. A countable number will move further to be equal to mechanical engineers. But they would have struggled less and enjoyed much if they chose mechanical engineering as their field. (or computer science in our coding case).

Myth #2: Anyone can do coding. Well for that matter any one can become Einstein. All of us are born equal, No ? Try it.

Myth #3: What you study in college is not important. Even going to college is not important. You can still code.
Another variation of this
Myth #3: You can learn computer science in part time NIIT classes. Learn ECE/EEE/Mech/ Civil/Industrial/Mining/D.F.T in college and computer science in NIIT. You will be a master in 2 subjects.
There are some exceptions. But remember they are exceptions. They would have done it anyway. If these NIIT educated guys learn half about computers as a self learned auto mechanic learns about his car then they got what they paid for. It is just that. Well if you think about getting a degree in some other branch and then become a master in both CS and your branch, well I will say Best of Luck. You may end up being a jack of both or may be master only in CS. Why not just do CS then ?

Myth #4 : Computer Science is all about coding. No, it is not. Even computer engineering or for that matter software engineering is not just about coding. Anyone who know his CS will vouch for it.

Myth #5 : Learning Computers is like learning science/engineering. The word computer science or computer engineering is usually created by the departments. The study can never classified as such. It is not a science as in Physics, not engineering as mechanical. It is just part of both. But it is also about art. Lot of difference between good and bad software, high performance and useless hardware will be from the arts part. This is one of the reasons for so many geeks in this field.
2:13 PM | Author: Siva
Though my profile says I live in Gainesville, FL, I spend a fair amount of time in the Matheson Reading Room of Emory University. The news today is the famous Salman Rushdie (or should I say infamous?) is joining the Emory faculty as professor in English department. I am no fan of his books. But I may attend one of his talks. It could be interesting, especially the Q&As, considering the huge Pakistani population in Emory. Let us see. (No, it is not for the hope that Padma Lakshmi may attend the talk.)
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