30 January 2008

Wow, that feels good

Just came from the algorithm class - probably the last one in this semester. I had wanted to get some feedback forms and get it done by the students. I know that they like me.. but just wanted to get some points on which I can improve.

For the first time, I really feel exhausted after a class. Today it was a marathon session - which covered Fibonacci series, Complexity analysis, Trees, Sorting, Logarithm details etc etc. We just discussed stuff, revised some parts.

I can't say that it was very organized or anything. One thing I've noticed is that in my classes, I tend to give real-life example - including the coin-sorting at Shabarimala to the Chess-playing in Harry-Potter. Lot of real life stuff - I am so surprised that I am able to invent very decent real-life examples when I need to explain something. And I feel wonderful about it. :)

Anyway, I am sure that I will be a really good teacher. Just that I am confused - which is the best age-group to teach? :).

When I came in the morning, I was not at all in a good mood - after realizing that I made tea with some milk which was slightly spoiled, I left to uni. Then at uni, I found that the coffee-machine was being cleaned - no coffee either. Then I went to the class - but now I am full of energy - at the same time exhausted. Is it possible? I think, yes!

My dear reader(s), that's all for now.

Lately, my research is lagging a little bit - for many reasons. Time to catch up.

Signing off, Sands.

PS: Can't leave without telling this much - MACINTOSH SUCKS (BIG TIME)

26 January 2008

Irritate me

There is some activity which I enjoy a lot - that is arguing/debating or whatever you call it. I personally think that I am really good at it. I think, Vimal will vouch for me! There are quite a number of my friends who know this.

I argue with passion. I will always bring up something to support me. I have done this even when I knew the other person was right. I know it very well that losing an argument need not always mean that you are wrong - many times it means that the person with whom you argued was doing his job well.

I love this - winning an argument even when you know well that you are wrong. I've done it quite a number of times.

Once the whole thing is over, I mostly go and confess that the whole thing I wanted was to prove my point - even though wrong.

So, that's what I am telling - I love arguments. There had been many times I have lost - priyakkutty and guru being the people who would have beaten me most in counts. Seeing your arguments getting crushed -- even that's a wonderful feeling. That's the opportunity to learn new methods.

I lose always when the argument becomes non-logical/emotional. Because I get irritated - to the core. At the same time I would be putting all my energy to bring the whole conversation back to the light of logic. But the opponent would be someone who doesn't believe in something called LOGIC! And I miserably fail to learn this - that you can never teach them. That's genetic (LINK HERE - Some people never learn).

This happened this evening and it took a long time for me to get normal.

Every time this happens I decide not to argue with such people anymore. Why don't I ever learn that they will never learn! (Is it I who have the genetic problem?)

On an unrelated note: I have started "Operation potbelly" - it's again time to fight!

Signing off, Sands.

24 January 2008

Improving your language

Four years are gone since I started having conversations in English. It's almost the same since I started reading English books too. My command over the language has improved by leaps and bounds.

All through this time I used to compare my language skills with others. A lot many of the Indians I've met have had terrible language - something like - "I didn't wanted to....". At the same time, many other Indians (especially girls from large cities) have wonderful language.

Otherwise, I have spoken with many Europeans (NON-British) - many of them simply rape and kill English.

For the same reasons as above, I should think that my improvement was mainly from reading. I must have read about 30-60 books altogether - that's all.

But, Now I am getting in touch with some English (yeah, I mean Englishmen). Every time I speak/e-speak with them, I get a new phrase or a style. Wonderful!

Off Topic: Is is possible to forget one language because you learned some other language?

Signing off, Sands.

21 January 2008

Scared about research?

About a month back, I had written about some new idea which struck me (regarding my research). Later I wrote that it was not as promising as it looked. Nevertheless, it was not very bad either.

Now I have found out something (from a 2004 publication) which could be used with what I had in mind. Again this looks very good. Now I need to sit and work out how good/bad it could be!

The earlier idea was not very bad as such - just that it would have needed a couple of Terabytes of primary memory and a couple of months to finish the calculation!

If I can incorporate this newly read technique too, then there could be a reduction. I should first discuss with professor before I start looking deeper.

A funny thing is that I am slightly scared that someone would come up with a better result (or even with my same idea) before I can tell something about this. I'll fall back to somewhere near square one -- can't imagine now.

Another worry is that "Am I doing OK? Or is it all some crap which I am building up?" - I am not able to believe that the problem is too difficult and too simple at the same side - The definition is very simple, the method to solve is too difficult. :)

Signing off, Sands.


13 January 2008


Last week I finished reading "Longitude" by Dava Sobel.

A truly wonderful book. Normally I don't find books with some historic stuff interesting. May be because this book has some scientific stuff, or may be simply because of the author's magic, I found the book good.

In the historic times, it was not at all easy to calculate longitude, the thing which we all take for granted in the modern era. What all techniques did men try to find out the longitudes of places? The science and politics behind it are well explained here.

It was no wonder that the English ruled the world for centuries - because it was they who found out the longitude calculating device - "A watch which worked". Yes, a watch/clock which has very limited error, which shows the time of a place with standard longitude (Greenwich) - that's all needed to calculate the longitude of any place. But there was no such precise clocks during 16th, 17th centuries!

The book also tells you about "How Greenwich became the standard location/time?".

Another wonderful thing I did was doing two online courses - Linear Algebra @ MIT and Basic Physics @ Berkeley. The algebra course was a couple of months back. There are two more lectures to finish with the physics classes.

The classes by Richard Muller, "Physics For Future Presidents", is simply wonderful. He teaches all the things one needs to know. Also, he gives some advice too - which would be very good for teenagers. Starting from the simplest stuff, he takes the students to Quantum Mechanics and Relativity. Simply awesome.

Knowledge -- of anything, let it be science, philosophy, technology, life, politics... - is simply wonderful.

Signing off, Sands.


7 January 2008

Negative Thinking (brag)

Negative thinking is a contagious disease. I have been talking to many fellow Munich-ers who need treatment for this illness. As Mitlesh said once, I believe that I have some little ability to share some of the positive energy I have.

There is only one little thing which affects me adversely -- that is the bad weather. And I think the reason is that I am a Malayali. Being one of those blessed population who always have wonderful weather - never too cold, never too hot. (sometimes a little too humid though). After having enjoyed such pleasant weather for years, when I don't see the sun for a couple of days, I get a little moody. From which I recover in no time too!

Otherwise, I am always very energetic and active. There are people here around me, who have worse situations. My life is neither a bed of roses. I have my fair share of problems too. But I find most of them to be tired, energy less - very often.

The best part is, I happen to be the one who they choose to speak  - when in need. Isn't it a privilege? Of course it is. I too like it to be helpful  - except when it takes too much of my time.

But at the end of day, there is only a one-liner which I want to tell you all "Life is a good teacher, if and only if you are a good student".

So, when life teaches some hard lessons, take it happily and see the good part of it. Is it that difficult? Try it out, you'd find it easy. If not, you are always welcome to N321.

Signing off, Sands.

PS: Happens to be second post on a single day. I don't like to post so frequently, but have a reason.

End of Vacation

Well, the long and slightly boring vacation is over. Again back to uni. tomorrow. The fact that I am living at about 15kms away from the uni., and the cold weather kept me all the time at home. The main activity was of course reading.

It is the beginning of a new year. I personally don't consider New Year to be something special. But it is always a good time to turn back and have a look at the year which went by. Also a time to set some goals. Last year beginning, I had set some goals and I am happy to see that, I could manage some of them, even though not all of them -- Good! Now let me look forward to the coming year.

If I am not very wrong, this coming year would be one of the most important/crucial times of my life. The last time I told this was when I was in the final year of BTech. More than 4 years are gone. Now I repeat it.

It is some critical code which is being run in the life-program. Very important time in my life. The coming two years are going to define me - or rather upgrade me from my present status to a higher level. I need to be really serious and careful about it. I am building myself and the coming two years, I'll be making some of the important stuff.

I have set my personal goals for this year. [Bold ones have longer and stronger impact in life]

  1. Technical Excellence - hard to define it.

  2. Read technical books - 2 in a month (one in two weeks) [last year was bad]

  3. Read lot of non-technical books - 20 books in the coming year [I think, I did it in last year]

    Let 3-4 of them be German

  4. Give a course in German (I mean, be the TA for a German course)

  5. Bring lot of regularity in life

    One thing which has bought some regularity in my life is blogging. I have three blogs - in three different languages. Now I am to start the most important one - a technical blog. I hope, after more than one years experience in yada-yada blogging, I can manage a good professional blog. Being regular there would be more difficult than other stuff.

  6. Improve some soft skills - again hard to define.

Last year, one major improvement I saw was being better organized - cleanliness, order and all those stuff rocketed so high that I think, I am one among the best of bachelors. This surprises even me.

The other day, I was speaking with Balaji. As an animal, the goal of a human is to have as many children as possible - that too in as many mates as possible. Forget the case of polygamy - highly impractical for the age [even though I don't have anything against it ;)]. Again in the case of number of children, it not all your decision. Depends a lot on the partner. So what is the only thing one can do?

Make sure that the kid is the best one in the world. How can you make sure of it? You be the man you want your kid to be! Yes, set the example. Set the bar higher and higher. The above mentioned order-ness of life is a part of it.

Another day I was telling Karn that I am getting old - as I had these thoughts. He corrected me by saying "It is not that you are getting old... you are getting wiser"! Oh yeah, gaining wisdom.

As wise people speak less, let me stop now. I might come up with the technical blog tonight itself.

Signing off, Sands.