Vivek\’s diary

Contest Suggestion: Enter the Dragon!

‘lo. The other day I came across a big contest while browsing some of sites I read regularly, and simply could not resist sharing it with you.

HP HDX Dragon with 20.1HP (in association with Buzz Corps)is promoting its latest 20.1″ notebook i.e. The HP HDX Entertainment Notebook using a contest called “The 31 Days of Dragon”. Before I proceed further note that this contest is open to everyone from any part of the world.

Contest Info: There are 31 participating web sites, with the sponsorship of HP where HP is working with them to offer 31 prize packages – one a day for 31 days during a period from 09 May through 08 June 2008. Here are the details of the price package (which btw is worth well over USD 5000 in retail value):

  • Display: 20.1″ diagonal WUXGA High-Definition HP Ultra Brightview Widescreen (1920×1200)
  • Operating system: Windows Vista Ultimate (64-bit)
  • Processor: Intel Core2 Extreme Processor X9000 (2.80GHz, 6MB L2 Cache, 800MHz FSB)
  • Memory: 4GB DDR2 System Memory (2 Dimm)
  • Graphics Card: 512MB NVIDIA GeForce 8800M GTS
  • Personalization: HP Imprint Finish (Dragon) + Fingerprint Reader + Webcam + Microphone
  • Networking: Intel(R) PRO/Wireless 4965AGN Network Connection and Bluetooth(TM)
  • Hard Drive: 500GB 5400RPM SATA Dual Hard Drive (250GB x 2)
  • Optical: Blu-Ray ROM with SuperMulti DVD+/-R/RW Double Layer
  • TV & Entertainment Experience: Integrated HP HDTV Hybrid TV Tuner and 4 Altec Lansing speakers + the HP Triple Bass Reflex subwoofer
  • Primary Battery: 9 Cell Lithium Ion Battery
  • Productivity Applications: Microsoft Office 2007, Corel PaintShop Pro Photo X2, Corel Painter 4, Ulead VideoStudio 11.5 Plus
  • Games: Viva Pinata, Microsoft Flight Simulator X, Microsoft Flight Simulator X Acceleration Expansion Pack, Gear of War
  • Blu-Ray movies: The Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy – The Curse of the Black Pearl, Dead Man’s Chest, At World’s End.

And here is a list of websites that are running/will run a seven day contest between the following dates (begin – end):

08 May – 15 May www.the-gadgeteer.com
09 May – 16 May www.thedigitallifestyle.com

10 May – 17 May www.digitalhomethoughts.com
11 May – 18 May www.windows-now.com
12 May – 19 May www.windowsconnected.com
13 May – 20 May www.geekstogo.com
14 May – 21 May bink.nu

15 May – 22 May www.mediablab.com
16 May – 23 May www.last100.com

17 May – 24 May www.labnol.org
18 May – 25 May www.notebooks.com
19 May – 26 May www.slashdotreview.com
20 May – 27 May www.neowin.net
21 May – 28 May www.geek.com
22 May – 29 Mau www.lockergnome.com

23 May – 30 May www.planetx64.com
24 May – 31 May www.thegreenbutton.com
25 May – 01 Jun www.istartedsomething.com
26 May – 02 Jun www.bleepingcomputer.com
27 May – 03 Jun www.hardwaregeeks.com
28 May – 04 Jun www.geeknewscentral.com

29 May – 05 Jun www.geekzone.co.nz
30 May – 06 Jun www.thetabletpc.net
31 May – 07 Jun www.gearlive.com
01 Jun – 08 Jun www.gottabemobile.com

Some of the website site where the winners have already been declared are:

02 May – 09 May www.absolutevista.com
03 May – 10 May www.arstechnica.com
04 May – 11 May www.osnn.net
05 May – 12 May www.jkontherun.com
06 May – 13 May digitalmediaphile.wordpress.com

07 May – 14 May www.bostonpocketpc.com

So I suggest you to head over to these website and track them to win the super prize package. For details about the contest please visit here. There is an RSS link and an OPML available so that you can track these sites conveniently.

In addition, most of these site have very good articles which techies and computer enthusiasts will definitely like. So go now and start participating, I am also competing🙂

May 15, 2008 Posted by | Diary | Leave a comment

Been a while

Hi,

It has been well over a year since I posted something new on my blog. However, now I shall try to be more active than ‘usual’. Frankly, another article describing my experiences or rather whereabouts (during 2007) should have come after my last post on world politics which was way back in December of 2006. Writing about 2007 will take a lot of time and commitment. However, I will write about it once I have enough time and back date that post so that it falls between this post and my previous post (that’s the advantage of maintaining a diary on the internet :P) 

I am also happy to inform you that I have bought my first piece of online real estate by booking http://www.viveksanghi.com/ and have set the URL to point to this blog. For readers of my tech blog, I cannot promise any thing until the end of June 2008 as I have been too busy to research technical stuff and write articles.

I have also noticed that this blog displays incorrectly in Internet Explorer but works fine in Mozilla Firefox. Therefore, I request my readers to view this blog in Firefox until I can fix this problem.

April 26, 2008 Posted by | Diary | , | Leave a comment

My piece of mind on current geo-politics, war and religious polarization with suggestions

As stated earlier, I would like to repeat that I am not any good in international affairs, foreign policy and diplomacy etc nor am I or my country perfect but I want to write about a topic that is very sensitive. I am not writing this article after any research. This article contains my views about what I have been reading/watching in media regarding religious fundamentalism, terrorism and the war on it.

I have been closely following the U.S. war on terrorism and how it has remained an under achiever till now. I try to think very neutrally about the war but I still see this Christianity versus Islam concept in it.

After reading some excerpts from world history I learnt that this is not new. Confrontation of Christianity and Islam had plunged the Europe into a dark age. Crusades have been the bloodiest of battles ever fought for religion and lasted across centuries.

Then after many centuries, there was the abolition of Caliphate of Islam (in turkey after WW1) by the Allied forces. This had also led to a popular uprising in India in the form of Khilafat Movement (started by the brothers Shaukat Ali and Mohammed Ali, this movement marks an era of unprecedented cooperation between Muslims and Hindus in India)

Then there was the partition of India in which the same Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims massacred each other to pieces and raped each other to shame. Millions died in the name of religion.

Then we had the “USSR’s invasion of Afghanistan” episode which saw U.S. side with the Mujahedeen and forced Russia to turn back. I have learnt, that after this war U.S. should have gone back home as well but I guess they didn’t. The Muslim world (or Arabs) understood that on the pretext of helping them fight USSR, the American have gained a back door entry/solution to what the Russian as well as the Americans wanted:

A military presence in the Gulf Region

Irked by this, the soldiers who fought the Red Army used what U.S. has taught them, against the teacher: planning and executing highly sophisticated and coordinated strikes with reconnaissance and surveillance.

And today I stand here a couple of years into the war observing a series of events i.e. cartoons by a Danish artist that shook the world, statements by pope, Bush expecting a religious revolution in America and strong/retaliatory Muslim reactions to each of these event. Alright that’s my piece of mind regarding what I have been observing/reading. Now here is what I would suggest (again based on what I am reading/watching):

America and Allies

1. Pull out of Iraq and Middle East

2. Go home and strengthen your economy. The world cannot afford to have you guys fall apart.

3. Revamp your education. Do not depend completely on immigrants for your supply of engineers and let the wheel of innovation continue turning smoothly. You have been driving it well and you need to continue with the same or better still, enhanced vigor.

4. Set and example for the world. Switch to green and renewable sources of energy. You will automatically stab terrorism in the heart if you do this. (based on Thomas Friedman’s column in NY times)

Arab world

1. Kings must give way to the people and establish Republican democracy.

2. Oil has been a boon for you and it has raised your standards of living overnight but it has also been a bane. Know why?

– With the incredible revenue surpluses coming from oil sales, your kings banned taxation. This made life too easy for you and you stopped working hard. This is particularly important for you.

Why did you have to call Americans to extinguish oil well fires during the Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and the 1991 Gulf war?
Why didn’t you have the technology?
Why are you dependent on others?
Why is the number of technological innovations and patent filings from Arab world abysmally low?
Where are the like of Algebar-Wal-Mukabalai (father of Algerba)?

3. Build more engineering colleges and schools and encourage your children to learn more. You must have your own supply of engineers, scientists, doctors, techies etc

4. Promote you women and never discourage them. Now don’t misunderstand this. I am only asking you to reduce male domination and eliminate atrocities against women. Get them to study engineering/medicine and encourage entrepreneurship amongst them. Women can be really smart if you let them be.

5. Stop mixing religion with studies (does not mean stop religious studies). Keep religious studies different from school studies. Don’t’ mix them up and confuse you child.

6. Preach toleration (for those who don’t) and preach what you are.

That’s my piece of mind. Not that I am an advisor or an expert to tell all this. This is just what I feel.

December 20, 2006 Posted by | Diary | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Why the percentage of Hindus in Indian population, might decline in the coming years?

Before I answer this question, let me explain you that I have written this article purely as a student of economics (of which demographics is an important part). I do not have any specific feeling towards any religion and this article was not meant to hurt anybody’s sentiments, emotions or religious beliefs. I write this article with the sole intention of stating my analysis and airing my views about the question posed.

Hinduism and a few more religions are popular for the practice of social evils like dowry and discouragement of girl child. The latter happens to such an extent that many families kill a girl as soon as it is born. People continue to kill the female babies until a male is born. There have been numerous reports of such incidents especially from the Northern parts of India like Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi etc. In certain cases, they go on giving birth to children until a male child is born. And once that happens, they have so many children that they are even unable to afford education for all their children.

Please have a look at this sex ratio data that I found on the Census of India Website (exact link needed). Please click on the images to make them more legible:

selectedsexratio.jpgratioinindia.jpg

Click to enlarge the image

agegroupwise

In the data that I have posted here, Sex Ratio is the number of Females per thousand males. It is paramount that there is a good balance between the number of males and females and neither side is too heavy or too light. As the world sex ratio has been such that the number of females per 1000 males is always less, in my opinion a good ratio for any country would be 980 or more females per thousand males. However, once it is below that 980 figure, the ratio start to become exponentially dangerous in intensity in response to a unit decrease in the number of females per thousand males.

Considering the present trend, if it continues, soon the sex ratio will reach a tipping point and there will be a population implosion in the Hindu society. It will become very difficult for aspiring bridegrooms to find a bride and there might be a situation where a particular set of men will go unmarried because they just couldn’t find a bride.

Now all this may sound crazy but this is simple correlation and the causation is self-evident. Let me tell you about the correlation.

Sex ratio is the number of women per thousand men. If the number of women per thousand men is alarmingly low (as in Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab etc) then, when the overall number of men and women (in the region whose sex ratio is in question) is considered the difference in their number turns out to be appalling. Because the majority of Indians are under the age of Twenty-five (and this trend will remain at least until 2020), the given correlation is not affected by the argument that majority of the men in question might already be married (also note another counter argument to this that a majority of the women might also already be married :)). So with such a difference in the number of men and women, where will the extra men (a fairly large number) get their brides (assuming that they would like to marry only within their caste/religion)? From another region/state? Not possible, because it’s the same grim scenario almost every where.

This will inevitably result in the decline of the Hindu population as a percentage of the overall population. And just for numbers’ sake: lack of awareness or refusal to use contraceptives and birth control techniques in other communities coupled with factors like polygamy will continue to fuel their population growth.

Dowry system is one of the biggest reasons for such a widespread backlash against the girl child. In my opinion dowry is not an evil until the bridegroom’s side does not demand anything form the Bride’s side and are happy/content or indifferent to whatever the Bride’s side has to offer. However, existence of such a system seems silly sometimes. Hindus can learn some good lessons here, from Islam. From some Muslim friends, I have learnt that there is no system like dowry in Islam. The bride’s and the bridegroom’s side agree to share the cost of the marriage equally which itself is pretty low unlike an average Hindu marriage. In my previous company an American colleague of mine was explaining to me that in American (or Christian) marriages there is nothing like dowry. He said that when a person gets married, his/her friends pool in some money and buy them stuff that could be essential for them to start their married life. When I heard that (apologies if I sound harsh but that’s what I felt), I could imagine Indian Hindu marriages as an auction scene where a boy’s parents award the party (Bride’s side) that gives them the best price for their child :))

More results through sex-ratio correlation

With reference to my conclusions drawn on the sex ratio issue, I have another correlation to be presented. From the sex-ratio issue we learnt that the unmarried men will greatly outnumber the unmarried women and there will be a scarcity of unmarried women in particular (and women in general). In other words, there will be an abundance of men. This will lead to an increase in the number of Homosexuals. Suppose (I don’t know what the exact numbers are) today one out of every two hundred men is a Homosexual. So the number of Homosexuals is total number of men divided by 200. In the future when there will be more men (due to a deteriorating sex ratio), the number of Homosexuals will increase.

With the continuing deterioration of sex ratio (and low availability of life-partners from the opposite sex) this number will rise. Many men may have no option left but homosexuality. It is known that some men who work in military etc and are away from their partner (female) for a long time (and have never experienced sexual attraction toward the same sex) may exhibit bi-sexual and later on homosexual orientation/behavior.

While I do not think that Homosexuality is bad or incorrect, and have no issues with the number of Homosexuals going up, I do think that the number will go up for a bad reason i.e. imbalance in sex ratio.

Also, it is know fact that India is a hotbed for all kinds of crimes and atrocities committed against women. With the deterioration or sex ratio, this sort crime is going to go up.
Reversal or even decline of trends in demography take a very long time (from a couple of decades to centuries) and even if all the people stop killing the girl child from today (which can only be a miracle), it will easily be a couple of decades before the sex ratio becomes normal.

December 16, 2006 Posted by | Diary | , , | 10 Comments

First impressions of CAT 2006

For your information: CAT or Common Admission Test is one of the largest MBA entrance exams conducted in India, anually. Indian Institute of Management (IIMs), the premier business-schools of the country (and counted among the best in the world) conduct this test for selecting potential students for the next round of admission process (comprising of a personal interview and a group discussion) for their MBA and Fellow-ship programmes. This year approximately 191,000 candidates have appeared for this exam from all over the country. Apart from the six IIMs, approximately 80 other B-schools use the CAT scores to select potential students for the next round of their respective admission processes.

It’s been just a few hours since I gave my Common Admission Test (CAT) 2006. This year’s paper carried a good potential to be a shocker for many. Noticeable changes in this year’s CAT paper are:

1. Number of questions reduced to 75 from previous years 90.
2. Elimination of differential marks allotment within a section i.e. no half-markers, one-markers and two-markers. All questions carried equal marks.
3. Number of available options to choose from increased to 5 (compared to 4 of last year).
4. Maximum marks possible increased to 300.
5. Marks awarded for every correct answer increased to 4 (compared to 1 of previous years) and negative marking for a wrong answer increased to 1 (compared to ¼ of marks allotted, in the previous years), which means that the overall equation of one-fourth marking still holds good🙂
6. Good space for rough-work with questions being printed only on the right-hand side in the test booklet and the left-hand side was left blank for rough work.

Section specific outlook

1. Quantitative ability the last section in set 222 was perhaps the easiest in the last few years. Students from commerce background (who are scared of math) could have also scored reasonably in this section

2. Data interpretation had five set of questions that contained no graphs-based sets. Data sufficiency as usual was left out (it did not figure in the Quant section as well). There was a question based on a network diagram and one on shares which seemed like a newer model but were “solvable”.

3. Verbal ability was the biggest shocker (if I can call it that). There were five questions based on a new model where one has to identify if a particular statement is a fact, inference or judgment. There were no Para-jumbles and grammar corrections. All the three reading-comprehension passages (comprising of five questions each) were tough and inference-based in nature. There were five questions on paragraph-completion which had very close answer choices (that could have made life difficult for candidates).

Conclusion

IIMs have done a better job this time by breaking the stereo-types and giving a new life to the “surprise” element in the CATs. It will be interesting to see how various coaching institutes modify their syllabus coverage and coaching techniques in response (if they choose to respond) to this new pattern.

For estimated cut-offs, answer-key and solutions, I recommend checking out websites of reputed coaching institutes like Career Launcher, IMS, TIME etc (not in order of priority).

No part of this article may be used for commercial purposes or publications anywhere without prior permission from the author.

Update:

Dear Readers, I will be unable to honor any more of your e-mail requests. Please DO NOT request me to send the CAT 2006 paper by e-mail.

you can down the entire paper along with detailed solutions (in pdf format) from this link. Please note that to download, you should register on the site and get administrator approval. All the best.

November 19, 2006 Posted by | Diary | , | 15 Comments

The Goal – Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox (Book Review 009)

ISBN: 8185984131

Tagline: A process of ongoing improvement.

The Goal was not on my reading list. However, it was lying around in the house and I decided to go ahead with it. The size of this book was very uninviting and from all the text on the covers and in the intro pages, I thought that I’d be better off reading this book during or after my MBA even though it seemed like a best-seller. However, once I started to read I realized that this whole “Theory of constraints” thing is actually presented in the form of a story which is very easy to grasp.

About the Author

Dr. Eliyahu M. Goldratt is an internationally recognized leader in the development of new business management concepts and systems, and acts as an educator to many of the world’s corporations. He is the originator of the Theory of Constraints (TOC) and his ideas have revolutionized the way companies work.

In addition to his pioneering work in manufacturing management, he holds patents in other areas, ranging from medical devices to temperature sensors. Other books from Goldratt, on this topic, are It’s Not Luck, Critical Chain and Necessary But Not Sufficient.

The Goal

Plainly speaking The Goal is a book on Theory of Constraints. However along with the message, another important side to this book is the method the author has adopted to deliver the message. The Goal is actually the story (probably fictitious) of a plant manager by name Alex Rogo who manages a plant that is unable to ship any of its orders on time and is also loosing money for its division. In addition, Alex has a messed-up personal life due to frequent fights with his wife.

Alex is given a deadline to make the plant profitable (failing which it will be closed). He desperately wants to save his plant and in the process he meets his university professor and acquaintance (from college days), Jonah (which I think is characterizing Goldratt because both have a degree in Physics from Israel). Alex’s interactions with Jonah show him the right path. Jonah is a kind of teacher who encourages his students to discover answers on their own and he does that same with Alex (regarding the problem with his plant). Through Alex’s process of discovery the author explains the theory of constraints is a very simple manner. I was particularly impressed by the use of simple yet powerful example of boys marching in a line. The author through Alex’s discussions with his co-workers also highlights the short comings of cost-accounting where inventory is viewed as an asset on the balance sheet and the blind emphasis of management to cut costs wherever possible (which many times leads to death of sick business units that could have been turned around).

Conclusion

Services have become the fad of today and it is amazing to think about the application of TOC to the Services scenario (though I need to grow-up a little more to think about it in detail). With the advent of Globalization 3.0 (in terms of Thomas Friedman) and the ability of a business to break up a process, digitize it and outsource it to various parts of the world where they can be done (for cheapest price and best quality) simultaneously and delivered back in one piece to the HQ control, the relevance of this theory is questionable. However, I am sure that it still has a lot of implications on supply chains where constraints or bottlenecks may exist (again I need to learn a lot more to think in detail).

In one of the management fests I had participated in during my college days, I had taken part in a production game where there was a production line with different work centers. The performance of the participants was measured in terms of their ability to meet customer demands and have least inventories and turn-around times at the end of the game. Had I read this book back then, before that event, I am sure I would have done much better than the third spot out of fifth that I had got in that event.

November 5, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

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