First rule of first principle thinking, do not use first principle thinking when a mental model is available

Category: Random

ChapterNexT

Chapter 10

  I have’nt blogged much about the earlier chapters ( viz 8 & 9) but I thought I should mark in my memedex this very significant chapter of my life.

    I have moved to hyd a day ago to start/further some projects/ventures of my own. Though I have been working on this for some time now and also I would moving in & out of banglr(my home) & hyd a alot but I could atrribute this move as mark of the beginning of a new chapter.

Jhappi Jadoo ki

    A recent beeb piece which might have some explanation on why Munna bhai’s Jadoo ki Jhappi actually worked 🙂

a hug from your significant other can reduce blood pressure and cut the risk of heart attacks. This is especially true for women” 

Understood now

There are things which you know are quite right but it takes a while to know why it is right.

For quite many years I used to tell this quote to many friends & colleagues(I heard from someone/somewhere don’t remember where)

“In this Industry(Technology) it is not important what you know but it is rather whom you know”

It struck me recently why this statement makes sense. Hardware gets commoditized, Software gets commoditized & even information gets commoditized. The only thing that does not get commoditized is relationship.

How many nerds/geeks in India ?

WARNING: It is One of my Random Ramblings – which basically does not set out to prove any point ! Just pure ramintations.

Don’t flame me, You have been warned 🙂

Sometimes I wonder as to why is that only valley/US is the place where the ultra-cool/futurist stuff happen.( Am I one of those ape the west monkey – I think not). I have been to the US but not to the valley but thanks to the wonderful idea of blogs the experiences happening in the valley gets place shifted and I am able to feel them via my reader. For instance I just lost count of how many web 2.0 Point of View I would have seen(read). Why is such kind of activity not happening here ( can we not do foocamp here), to just expand that thought why is that technology foreground work not happening from India after all people world over admit that Indians have some circuitry in their brain which makes them terrific with software/computers.
( Huh ! I know we are a d e v e l o p i n g nation not a developed one but still !!)

Of all the great original thinkers how many Indians from India are there who are talked
about at the level of Larry Lessig, Dave Winerberg, Dave Sifry, Eric, RMS, Cory Doctrow,
Negroponte, Knuth, Reed, Isenberg. Or how many are there who can compared with the likes of Steven Levitt, Seth Godin, Paul Graham, Schiener, Bruce Sterling.  I would be even happy if there is an Indian Mitnick or a David  Smith atleast that would go out to prove that there are Indians who seriously geeks out 🙂

Ok I admit that Ankit Fadia the lad from Delhi has gained quite some fame ( heard recently he is a billionaire by now 🙂 ) & I am happy about but it is just one datapoint.
This leads me to think as to how many How many geeks/nerds/technologists/futurists are there in India

Is that total strength lesser or greater than that of US. What does it take to build a ecosystem that is conducive to bring the best thoughts/technology to the forefront. Extending that line of thinking I am also having these questions in mind.

– Is there an India specific /. (slashdot for those who did not get it)
– Why does a Wired for India does not exist. ( For heaven’s sake don’t say Digit or PCQuest is such a magazine they are absoluately not)
– What will it take to build a Silicon Valley in India. ( Please don’t say angalore is the silicon valley , it is clearly not – I am from bangalore so I know, I would love it to become the silicon valley & am trying to do whatever I can do build a valley 🙂 )
– We need a Palo Alto kind of center – How/when/where to setup & who are the kind of people who can do this.
– We need educational institutes which are going to play the role of MIT, Berkley, UCLA, Stanford to lay the foundation for Valley & Route 128. ( Heard today in the paper that academic rankingwise IIT’s have taken the 3rd position in the world – such a proud moment for us – but we still have a long way to go – need to grok serious innovation from here to have more impact and reach much more iconic status). I cherish the dream/vision shown to me by our director “We want our Alma Mater to be the Stanford for cyberabad” but I know it is a very long & winding road.
– We need an Om malik, a russell beattie, Robert Scoble, Andrew Odylzko, Paul Graham, Steve Jobs, Bill Joy, Guy Kawasaki, Vinod Dham….
– We need DRDO to be like DARPA to have grants like the NSF.
.
.
.
.
It’s an endless list

Given that we are a nation with a population of 1 billion dollar are there enough geeks/nerds who can be all these kind of people which we dont have(yet) to build a great technology nation.
Well on a side note the argument applies not just science/technology but also to the sphere of arts. Since I am poorly informed/knowledged about the arts field I won’t be able give examples there.

Wish I had the answers !!

Laughter Challenge

I had been lamenting for long that Indian Media (Hindi Music/Movie & includes other regionals ones too),lacks innovation barring very few exceptions there has been absolutely no innovation in these medium. Thats why I stopped which hindi movies, serials, stopped listening to songs. Anything that I liked turned out to my utter dismay a ripoff(imitation) of something else. Now some of my friends being very touchy about this would say thats all crap and how does one “explain the huge boat loads of money all these movies, serials make.” Well there are only two great strategies one is innovation and other one is immitation. So yeah they are using a good strategy to succeed, but then that is not sufficient in the long. And advice to the media companies, take a leaf out of the note of the success of “Great Indian Laughter Challenge” in Star One. Rashmi had once blogged that among the new entrants in TV channels , Star One is the better than others out there , ( a lot better than zoom) , she is quite right. Laughter challenge is a good testimony to that.
There is absolutely no doubt that this program fall in the innovation category. It is unbelievably good, its additictive, You have to watch it to believe it, it is so good that every one that I recommend it to everyone I know with the gaurantee that they would love it. Well while all other channels are busy creating dismal reality shows like Indian Idol,Gurukul , blah blah and whatever other crap , Star One did a very smart thing and came upwith this show. They recognized the very simple fact that “Everyone likesto have a hearty laugh” and created a platform where a talented few where chosen and given chance to showcase their talent and make the audience laugh.I wait with great eagerness for friday to come to watch a TV show.(It is surprising to me considering that I never watch any of the these TV show). You have to see it yourself to believe. Check out these clips which I got hold of from somewhere .(link may expire soon).A simple but a very good innovation after a very very long time from an Indian channel. Kudos to Star one for that.
Well those who keep track of itwould know that the finals of this show ended last friday and from today onwards it would be called the”Great Indian Laughter Champions” but will it be as good as the “LaughterChampion” was. It is relatively easy to innovate once but to repeat that isone hell of a task, the expectations or bar gets set very high. Lets seewhats going to happen tonight at 10.00. Even google did not innovate much after first time the way it did with search.
I like the show but I have my complaints too, something which the bigmedias will never understand is transparency. Audience ( atleast the one’slike me) like transparency, but transparency was not there at all in theshow. For Instance Sunil Pal won the finals in the challenge ( i agree with shekhar & siddu that this guy is frickingenius no doubt about that) but on the finals day Ehsaan Qureshi’s performance was the best. Ehsaaan has unique style he repeats itagain & again there is no variety but inspite of that he makes people laugh. Sunil content & variety is breathtaking but I still felt that by judging on the performance on the final day Ehsaan should have won. Another thing that I don’t understand is that why is notEhsaan goingto be a part anymore and whom Googi ( a brilliant comedian but was shelved earlier) is being taken , what is the basis ??
Nonetheless this show really kicked ass.
PS: One subtle thing that I like very much about this there is not much ofartificial background laughter in this show unlike any other comedy show.

Pop goes my Orkut account

I never had a good feeling about orkut service from the day I created an account there. It is too open a system , there is so much of personal information that is lying out there which if fell in someone’s hands with malicious thoughts it could spell real danger(some other problems with orkut here). I wanted to remove my name from it since long which I finally did today as I was not deriving any value out of it and instead was losing some much of data pertaining to me into a public space. Those whom I was connected to there will not miss me there as they know how to contact me otherwise.

Assumption is the mother of all misunderstandings

This title I picked up from bharani, it is a fantastic phrase and and is quite true. One of the important take ways that I have from my previous employer & people whom I worked with there has been this
“Always Question/Validate your assumptions”.
They were absolute fanatics in doing this step !!
Most of the mistakes that happen in general can be avoided if the assumptions are validated ahead of time. Now what about some assumptions which have had their testimonies from ‘time’ and are age old. I think in those case it would not even occur to question assumptions and if they are being done there will be stiff resistance to that idea( primarily because of fear of change).
I just finished reading the book “The goal” , it is a very popular business book written in the form of a novel which tackles the fallacy behind some of the blatant assumptions made the “cost based accounting” methods.
Eli Goldratt the author introduces an important method called “thoughput accounting”. One of the most important wrong assumption of cost based accounting is to allocate costs to parts of individual steps in a process which thus does a local optimization. For example, inventory appears on the balance sheet of a corporation as an asset. But actually it is a liability, ones wants less of inventory, because it ties up working capital and makes you less lean and agile. The following is the essence from the book
” Throughput accounting focuses on value delivered to the end customers, not on cost reduction. Secondary to throughput is inventory, which includes anything you’ve bought in anticipation of turning it into throughput. Raw materials are one such thing. Inventory could include intangibles like consultancy for product development; it could also include the undepreciated value of machinery as well as product materials. Both of these are deviations from cost accounting. Finally comes operational expense, which is the outlay of turning inventory into throughput.
The goal of throughput accounting is to increase throughput whilst simultaneously reducing “inventory and operational expense.”
Throughput accouting basically offers another perspective of looking at accounting. Traditionally it has been ROI, cashflow & net profit, throughput accounting says what is important is ‘Throughput, Inventory & operational expense.
Well reading this reminded of the course on Soft computing that I had took, where Genetic Algorithms were illustrated to show how they attain a global optimum, one begins with an objective function and then evolutionary operation are mimicked to move towards the objective function within a given set of constraints.

Gaming and India

A host of articles being published in the news zines about gaming in India, also I ‘ve been seing ads of this new channel called gaming TV, not so exciting but well all this indicates towards the booming gaming industry in india.
Following are some thoughts that I had sent in a mail to one of my friends working for a gaming company talking about gaming and also how gaming console can be used as a computing platform for the masses( massputer)
How much does it cost to build a gaming machine purely out of india. ?
Gaming consoles are very advanced and intuitive to work with. One could intreface an eyeToy on PS2 and create applications on PS2 which is of general utility like sending email/calculations etc etc. The eyetoy due it its high usability factor will drastically reduce learning costs for anyone who is using it. ( People who or educated or not educated canuse it with equal ease) People/Companies are talking about what is going to be the computing device for the masses. Why ?? because the PC era/industry which has so far targeted the affluent is more or less saturated.There is an entire segment or market ( the masses ) which lie untapped. [Read this somewhat nerdy stuff and only if you nothing else to kill time ( Fortunes at the bottom of the Pyramid by CK Prahlad)
But the PC’s still costs too high for the mass market ( thecheapest version would still cost around 20,000 ) and their learning curve is high. There are couple of alternatives which could become the dominantdesign for Computing for the masses. Here are few and their problems.
– A handheld computer (PDA), One example is the Simputer.
Problems
– the size of the display is too small
– data entry is a hassle, mobility and portability are notessential for most users,
– and the price-points will still be on the higher side.
– A data-enabled cellphone
Problems
– The cellphone suffers from similar drawbacks as the PDA. Thenumerical-oriented
keypad makes it hard to do a lot of extended dataentry (even though SMS has become
popular in much of the world) and
– the display size is quite small.
– The TV and set-top-box combo,( The set top in question is thegaming device with PS2)
Problems
– Display resolution still does not match that of a computer
– Good for showing the rich graphical worlds for games, but itdoes not yet display the text
and numbers that most users needfor their basic applications
– it is shared by multiple family members, so can’t check emails while somebody is
watching a soap.

Despite given the problems with Gaming Device I would still vote that option because of the usability factor and cost.
Today a PS2 costs about 150 $ and a eyeToy for 30$, if we can puttogether an application suite for 20$ ( utilizing open sourcesoftware) then for a total of 200$ ( Rs 10,000 ) we can provide acomputing solution which is cheaper than least priced PC of today (19,000 ) , simputer( 12,000 ). This solution may only be costly than a mobile phone ( Rs 5000 ) but with better pricing strategy and using economy of scale I am sure that we can come up with a very low cost solution.
———–
Here is another thing that I was thinking about using the gaming device PS2 and eyetoy and that is why I want to know what does it take to build a gaming device. It is generally noted that it is the younger generation ( 16 – 28) which loves Computer Games, even in nations like Korea , Japan the teens are the ones hooked on to games.
What I am thinking is that given adequate incentives/exposure any general person would play computer games. One simple reason as to why I think Computer games are so successful/popular is because it offers a surrealistic world thatplayers love to traverse in and further later associate/attach themselves to. So by offering right kind of surrealism to right segment of people can interest them to play games.
The younger generation tends to love games like FPS( Quake,Unreal ) ,strategic games ( like of AoE , AoK) etc. For the older generation adapt a story from say ‘Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu thi’ , ‘Jassi Jaisi Koi nahin’ and create a game for a game box with an interface like eyeToy or even remove the eye and put a brain-machineinterface (Registration required) like this.
This notion sounds a little crazy (everybody I told this have had a hearty laugh:) ) though but if it is executed I am sure that this would definitely be called as disruptive innovation,”creating a market out of non consumption” and Ekta Kapoor( of the hindi soap serials, Balaji Telefilms) will look sooooo normal in front of this achievement.

I would love to see gaming industry flourish like anything and want so many people to play games. Infact I want to propose a bill in theparliament where they should subsidize the gaming industry 🙂

Godel

I have quite a fascination for Godel, his incomplete’s theorem was a pure aha !! moment for me the first time I heard it.
It was Roger Penrose’s Emperor’s New Mind where I learnt it first, then later ofcourse in my Theory of Computation course.

Now why am I rambling about Godel all of a sudden. I was reading blog posts on the primer movie by other bloggers and I saw this wonderful post on a blog titled “chooky fuzzbang“.It’s an excellent post !! ( Warning, if you want to watch the movie primer and don’t like spoilers read this post after you have watched the movie)

But what I found more interesting was the series of posts on Godel here which is just simply superb. If you really want to understand in plain words what the Godel’s theoram is, this is one place to go definitely.

Repeat After me !!
A system that is complete will be incosistent
And a system which is consistent will be incomplete

Primer – A movie that just blows your mind

I had been hearing rave reviews about the movie Primer( a sci-fi ) since the past 3-4 months and I was dying to see it. Sometime in april with great difficulty I tracked down its torrent and downloaded it. Took me 2 – 3 days to download it, but the wait was really worth it. The first time I saw it, I could not figure out the head or tail of the movie. Now I saw it again, I have understood it a little more so now I can blog something it 🙂

“In simple words this movie just blows your mind”

When I go out for a movie with a friend of mine (esp the Indian movies) he asks me to remove my brain and then watch movies, well this movie is just the extreme opposite of it. You have to apply your mind all the time, even if you miss a few phrases, it will be very difficult to follow.

This is a movie for the geekiest of geeks and nerdiest of the nerds, others please don’t watch it :), I am quite sure you would’nt like this movie. It would alseo be a dissappointment for you if you are expecting some whiz-bang effects like in Matrix or Starwars in this movie as there is none.

It is a movie that makes you think, think real hard , twists your brain, inside out !! It is way too hard, fun & better than ‘Intercal‘ or ‘brainfuck

This movie won the Sundance 2004 award. It was shot/directed/acted/edited by just one guy called Shane Carruth for a total budget not exceeding 7000$. ( WoW !! )

Well I am not going to make this post a spoiler for the movie but would give some small tidbits of the movie.

There are four basement hackers(really only 2) who are tyring to put some product together and hope/wait for some VC funding.( Is’nt that itself a romantic for any geek/nerd 🙂 ). They try to put together a product, an error correcting device and some experiment of the experiment results that they achieve astound them.

The age old idea of time travel concept is orchestrated well in the movie and the way it is manifested is nothing less than a genius. (

The tagline of the movie is ” If you always want what you can’t have, what do you want when you can have anything?” (Trailer )

As someone in a review site put it, it is an intellectual thriller. I am going to buy the DVD of this movie on the very first chance I get.

Well if you are all pepped by this post and would like to watch this movie. (then here is the tracker torrent that I used to download , I don’t own it and neither can I gaurantee that it would still work).

If you are around in India, then I can burn it into Cd’s and snail mail it to you. Ofcourse you have to bear the cost of Cd’s and postage for yourself :).

Note: I am not interested in gaining any commercial advantage out of it, I am just interested in promoting this movie and further down the line build a fan community !!

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