Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Review of Palette of Love on by noted author Jayant Swamy

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

A detailed review of 'Palette of Love' in New Indian Express 30 Dec 2013

Palette Of Love through the critic's eyes...

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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Lesser Mortal...

Couple of months back I was coming out of a Darshini  (clean - self service- stand and eat- vegetarian restaurants  common in Bangalore) in Jayanagar, when I came across a blind  beggar, walking on the road.   I dropped the 'change' I had received from the  restaurant in his plate and continued to walk, feeling happy about having helped a poor soul, close to noon.
By the corner of my eyes I watched  him pass the restaurant and trying with difficulty to cross the road. For a moment, I thought I would go back and help him. By the time I made up my mind to do so,  a lady - in her late twenties - walked up to him and held his hands, carefully helping him to cross the road, braving the traffic.  She looked like an employee from one of the shops, on her way to run some errand during the lunch hour. By the time, they reached the other end of the road, I had also crossed the road on my way to the nearest bookstall.  After dropping the blind beggar on the other side, the lady started retracing her steps.
Half way through, she stopped at the middle of the road, thought for a moment and went back to the beggar.  'Did you have your lunch?', she asked him in Kannada. I was quite surprised, because one does not get to witness such acts of compassion, often in one's life.  
The beggar replied in the negative.
 'Shall I buy you a meals?, she asked. The beggar said 'no' with a smile on his face.  The very question itself must have addressed his hunger.
She did not push him. But she rummaged her bag,  produced a few coins and gave them to him and continued her journey.
I saluted the lady in my mind. How couldn't I?
Then... I realized to my sadness, I could never make myself to ask that question to someone like him, how much ever I appreciate the deed.
In that sense I am a much lesser mortal!!!
How about you?

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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Psychohistory, Big Data and me...

Way back in 1942, Isaac Asimov had conceived a new field of predictive science called 'Psychohistory' which he used later, as the backbone of his 'Foundation' series. Asimov's 'Psychohistory' combined historysociology, and mathematical statistics to make general predictions about the future behaviour of very large groups of people. It depended on the idea that, while one cannot foresee the actions of a particular individual, the laws of statistics as applied to large groups of people could predict the general flow of future events. Asimov used the analogy of a gas: an observer has great difficulty in predicting the motion of a single molecule in a gas, but can predict the mass action of the gas to a high level of accuracy.
You can read all that from Wikipedia. So why am I wasting everyone's time about what Asimov explained and expanded well in  his books?
There is a reason. I believe I am  on to something!

One of the limits the 'Psychohistory' approach had so far, was the inability to capture the behaviour for sufficiently large groups of Individuals to enable meaningful  predictions and analyse the past to predict the future. It was both a technical and logistics issue.
Now there seems to be a solution for this. Social media data ('exhaust' in the lingo of data scientists) along with the emerging BIG DATA technologies could provide us a great solution for the problem.

That means....?
It is only a question of time,  before  someone funds Psychohistory research using Big data.

I believe, in less than a decade we could hear fairly dependable predictions on the rise and fall of countries and empires. we might get a chance to get back to the Newtonian clockwork universe again...
Note - One caution here...'Psycho History' in modern science  is something totally different.

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Monday, November 11, 2013

In a Free State, can we get away with anything?....

In a Free State, can one get away with anything?....because one is a well known author? In a Free State: A NovelReview of In a Free State: A Novel by V.S. Naipaul
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I read 'In a Free State' with a lot of expectations; Booker prize winning book from Nobel prize winning author!. I was in for a rude shock. Here is a book which lacked any story in the first place. It cannot get any more boring than this. Characters are thrown in without any introduction and referred to without rhyme or reason. The whole book lacks any purpose other than showing Afrikans in bad light.

I cannot help but give this book, the lowest possible rating.

I will think twice before reading another V S Naipaul book.

View all my reviews

Monday, January 21, 2013

A lesson on 'Focus' - The 'Mahabharat' way

One of my friends Amita posted the following in Faceboook which got me thinking:

"What do you see," asked Guru Dronacharya of his pupils, after hanging a wooden bird from the branch of a tree. Only one youngster declared: the eye of the bird, the target decreed by the Guru.
He was Arjuna; he would go on to become one of the greatest archers, if not the most accomplished warrior in mythology.
To be successful in any sphere of life requires similar traits: unflinching focus and unyielding dedication.

My two cents in the form of  a mini-story to that statement is as follows:

What do you see? Shouted the  examiner from  behind.
I looked around. At the  large four road intersection, I could see hundreds of vehicles and a thousand pedestrians.

'I see the black dot on the right head lamp of the approaching bus.....',  Recalling  all the wisdom from  Mahabharat, I screamed out  the right answer drowning all the din around.
'Only that?'
'Only that and nothing else' I said confidently.
'Do you see the bus?
'No..only the dot'

'You are failed' - the harsh voice from behind growled.
I was appearing in the practical test for the post of 'Drivers' in Bangalore Transport corporation!!!

What do you think?

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Friday, December 14, 2012


I was recently talking to a Product Manager of a multi-national  company who visited  India for a few days..
'We are re-creating and re-launching my product'  He told me in quite an upbeat tone.

'What do you mean?'
'You  know the product I manage...we had end of life'ed  it last year...the technology is pretty now we are working on creating a new product with pretty much the same features with  better GUI etc.  and more important, using new technologies'

'That sounds interesting...'
' is ...our version one is due next fall and we have so much to do...' He was definitely relishing the challenge.

Obviously...your previous product evolved over ten to twelve years and had tons of features...' Having been in similar situations, I  knew exactly what the guy had been facing.

'That  is true ...but in version one due next year, we are only putting in the bare minimum capabilities.... features which are pretty fundamental to any product in this no rocket science there...We have hired a small development team in India...mostly young enthusiastic  guys from IITs  with 2-3 years experience '
'So you have the specs pretty much written down and shoved down their throat already?'

'Not exactly...we are  following Agile methodology for development - you know... Scrum..'
'What?!' I exclaimed.

'Why are you surprised? Our organization demands us to use Scrum for all development'
'Why do you use Agile when you have an 'open and shut' case on requirements, do not have any role for the customer in version one and to top it all, the development is done by a bunch of inexperienced engineers?' I asked.

'What has all that to do with Agile and Scrum?' He got aggressively defensive.
'Because  Agile could break your product development with the conditions above. I would have  suggested  some form of waterfall with an iterative approach thrown in, for your version one...'

'What do you mean?'
'My friend,  Scrum is not a panacea for all problems. AGILE IS FRAGILE when used in the wrong places...'  I rested my case.