Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The next big thing in search

I consider search as the necessary and sufficient companion to browsing the internet. I had written a post abt cuil sometime ago. I didn't like the search engine.

The new search engine(well not exactly search engine) in the horizon is called Wolfram|Alpha. This is done by Stephen Wolfram (whose website I use currently for referring obscure graph theory definitions). Stephen Wolfram is a genius: that's what I hear and read. So I hope this is something REALLY different from what we have seen and hopefully joins Google rather than competing with Google.

Let's look fwd to the release of this.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Planet Earth

Let me ask you a question:
Just think of the word Nature and close your eyes. What do you see ?

For me I used to hear buzzing crickets in a dense forest. Some people whom I asked this question remembered the famous photos of ice capped swiss alps, green valleys and the blue lakes (straight from a calendar hanging from your house)

But there are many aspects to nature.

We never think of the blistering heat of Sahara Desert, the sand dunes of Niger , the merciless cold of the antarctic, the deep million strong bat infested caves in the world, the mountainous regions of Andes or the mighty himalayas or the fresh water sea of Amazon or the mighty coniferous forests with its 5000 year old trees or the great African Plains or Deep Sea sea urchins and sea anemones and creations like Blue Whale.

This is similar to a question which a professor asked me sometime ago in my college days. When someone asks you, think of a number we end up thinking of natural numbers. No one thinks about sqrt(5)+isqrt(3) or some numbers like that, lamented the professor.

The world is so diverse bursting with life. There are many places where people like us (armchair travellers) won't visit. But to hear the tales and more importantly to see them is sheer bliss. It is like seeing and understanding the diverse world god has created for us. In fact it is like seeing one aspect of GOD himself if you see the nature he has created for us.

I am really happy that I saw the whole series of Planet Earth. In summary you can say that it is a mix geography and biology : But it is done with some so much passion and pain staking detail for a period of four years, that I just cannot summarize the whole series as a mix geography and biology .

Everyday all forms of lives : Trees and animals battle for survival. There are so many things in the series that I cannot put it in one post.

Watch the series Planet Earth: It is really worth 8hrs of your time. I watched the series over a period of 10 days. But I feel good as a earthling now!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Bob Dylan

I saw this conversation in a Bob Dylan Message board :-

PassionNTennis (1 month ago)
i dont get this song

b1kuje43 (4 weeks ago) +1 Reply
come back when you're older.

Couldn't agree more :-) The more older you are, the more intriguing Dylan gets :-)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Please check this link for knowing voting details for Indian Elections 2009. It worked for me , best of luck to you and cast a wise vote tomorrow.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Passing thought

In the olden days, the kings had scholars (like the nine gems in Akbar's court) who specialized in various things and also they helped in enriching art, culture, mathematics of the kingdom.

But to think of it, were they paid monthly or per visit? Were they salaried ? How did they find refuge at the king's court ? Was it through recommendations ?

What would they do coming to the court everyday (if they would)?

What if the king were a dung headed moron ? Would he have such scholars ?

Dancers, yes I can understand :-)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Will banking become boring?

An article which coincides my point of view...
Btw, I am still haunted with my decision of pursuing a career in the Industrial sector as against one in an Australian Investment Bank ( though I could have been fired a goof 3-4 months ago atleast.. the lure is still there.... hmmmmmmmmm)

FOR quite some time now, many of those who have headed for some of the best known business schools in India and abroad have done so in the hope of making it to one of the top banks — or “shadow banks”— of the world. Commercial banks apart, investment banks, hedge funds and private equity have hogged the lion’s share of graduates from these places. Part of the motivation has come from the mouth-watering presentations made by the world’s leading financial firms. At top B-schools in the US, some firms were known to lay out a career path for graduates that led up to a million dollars in three years flat and up to ten million dollars in ten years’ time. That path may have been strewn with 18-hour workdays seven days a week but it has still proved irresistible to many. The other element in the lure of financial firms has been the sizzle and fizz of innovation, the opportunity to dream up and sell exciting, new financial products. This is set to change in the years ahead. Some of the change was already in evidence in the recent placement season at the leading B-schools in the country. The great names in investment banking that used to swoop down on some of the best talent failed to show up — because many are now history. At IIMA, one of the biggest recruiters this year was not Lehman Brothers but our own Union Bank of India. You could call it a revolution of sorts. There is more change along the way. One of the few things that are certain in these uncertain times is that financial innovation, risk-taking and the profits and rewards that went with them will be reined in. That should cause the financial sector itself to shrink in relative importance in the advanced economies. Financial regulation is in for a sweeping overhaul. In particular, three key elements of regulation are poised to change the face of the financial sector. The first is that capital requirements for banks and other financial intermediaries will go up. This will undermine one of the key sources of abnormal profitability in banking — extraordinary leverage. One of the revelations of the present crisis is that many banks and investment banks were operating at a leverage of 30 or more. Hereafter, banks will find themselves subject to a regulatory minimum of capital that will be above the 8% required currently under rules framed by the Bank for International Settlements. This is the capital that is required to be set aside against “risk-weighted” assets. It is very likely that, on top of this, banks will be subject to a limit on leverage as conventionally measured. As equity capital is costlier than debt, an increase in capital requirements (or a decrease in leverage) is bound to push up the cost of funds for a bank. This will impose a cost on bank customers — a lower deposit rate or a higher borrowing rate or both. Higher borrowing costs, in turn, will tend to depress output. But financial instability carries its own costs: the loss of output as a result of a financial crisis can be anywhere between 5% and 45% of GDP. The judgement today is that the latter outcome is less preferable. Higher capital is seen as crucial to stability. Once capital requirements for banks go up, we should expect bank profitability to fall. The halcyon days of return on equity of 20% or more in banking may well be over. SECONDLY, regulators are going to be far more sceptical about the supposed benefits of financial innovation. It is clear that the explosive growth in one innovation, securitised credit, laid the seeds for the present financial crisis. Moreover, as a report prepared recently by the head of UK’s Financial Services Authority (The Turner Review) points out, innovation has spurred growth in the financial sector in ways that were either illusory or harmful. Financial sector value-added as a proportion of GDP in the UK rose from 5% to 7% in the period 1995-2007. Partly, this reflected the illusory gains in a rising market arising from mark-to-market accounting. The review suggests that the surge in value-added was also harmful in so far as it arose from rents from complex financial products. The Review notes: “Wholesale financial services….grew to a size unjustified by the value of its service to the real economy”. There is talk of excesses in the financial sector. It would be more accurate to say that the financial sector itself constituted an excess both in terms of its relative size in economies and the sort of returns it generated. It is unlikely that banks will hereafter be able to launch product innovations at will. Thirdly, we must expect constraints on bankers’ pay. Regulators will insist that incentives for bankers be based on measures of performance that better reflect risk and the long-term performance of banks. More importantly, higher capital requirements and lower profitability in banking will limit rewards in the financial sector. Outsized bonuses will not be passé but they will be more difficult to come by. This is greatly welcome and somewhat overdue. Thanks to absurd compensation packages, financial firms (along with IT in India) have created huge distortions in the labour market. They have tended to lay a disproportionate claim on the pool of human talent to the exclusion of manufacturing and other sectors. Will these changes in regulation — higher capital requirements, constraints on financial innovation and tighter norms for incentives — make banking a ‘boring’ sector rather like some regulated utility? Not really. The management of risk that is or ought to be the core of banking will remain challenging and exciting. Besides, innovation is not just about product innovation, it is also about process innovation, finding ways to deliver products more efficiently to customers and broadening financial inclusion. While pay packages in banking will be less extravagant, bankers won’t be exactly starving. What the emerging direction of regulation will do is strip banking of some of its hype, the glamour and danger that one associates more with adventure sports. Actually, the comparison is inapt. In adventure sports, it is the sportsman who pays dearly for his mistakes. In banking, it is the audience that has all too often ended up paying the price.

2014 elections, India

This is certainly something to look for. As Pushpa smartly commented during an election awareness advertisement on the Zee News, it certainly grabbed my attention. There was Aamir Khan requesting the public to "Think before Ink". I commented, wow this is interesting, then the wife comments "2014 and not 2009 will be the one to watch out for". I agree, I am eagerly waiting for the 2014 elections. What has just happened in the Indian political scenario is just a begining. A few very interesting movements which I have personally noted down

1. Independents contensting from perstigious constituencies - even if it is for the heck of it (which does not seem to be), there are more people from the Corporate world who have shown interest in contesting. More people from private life entering the public domain.
2. Public fund raising for election campaigns - Received a mail for contributions from a close aid of an MP contesting from Chitradurga (my home district). Really interesting.
3. Awareness campaigns - Some one like Aamir Khan can certainly draw a lot of interest across a huge spectrum of voters - Young and old, rural and urban voters, men and women, which will hopefully be seen in the voter turnout.
4. Web campaings - has been gaining prominence
5. Younger contestants - though we are still voting for 70+ candidates - the likes of Advani, manmohan singh etc there certainly seem to be more younger lot taking the plunge - Krishna byre gowda, rahul gandhi, Janardhana swamy etc. This would only improve in 2014 with the oldies hopefully retired by then ( I personally feel and hope that this would/should be the last election for the likes of advani, deve gowda etc)
6. Real agendas (security, infrastructure, taking priority in deciding votes rather than current equations of cash, liquor, caste etc. This will improve going forward

There are a lot more positives which have happened and will continue to happen in the coming years. Ceratinly next two decades will be very interesting for India.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Interesting website

Most living organisms quite logically think of the immediate future.For eg. I plan what happens in the next six months and I guess that maybe with many of us. Some people plan for a year or two. Fewer people for 5 years.

What abt planning for the humankind for the next 100 years? The next thousand years ? You don't, right ? Nobody does.

Quote :-

Civilization is revving itself into a pathologically short attention span. The trend might be coming from the acceleration of technology, the short-horizon perspective of market-driven economics, the next-election perspective of democracies, or the distractions of personal multi-tasking. All are on the increase.

There is an interesting project called Project Longnow which takes projects which goes on for thousands of years. It kinda sounds cool and very "culture and humanity driven".

Take two of their products :-

One is a mechanical clock, powered by seasonal temperature changes. It ticks once a year, bongs once a century, and the cuckoo comes out every millennium

The other is called Rosetta Archive serving nearly 100,000 pages of material documenting over 2,500 languages because of accelerated loss of the world’s languages. Just as globalization threatens human cultural diversity, the languages of small, unique, localized human societies are at serious risk

Have a look at the Longnow website and the Photos of the Clock which looks majestic. Also the way the specifications for the clock is written requires thinking which needs to take thousands of years into account !

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Some lost+found songs

It was 1997/8.

I was seeing channel[V] and I saw an interview of some random Brit Indian guy followed by a song which blew me away. I still had a faint memory of that song. The guy (Brit Indian) had a punk rock look with spikey hairs and he was playing tabla like an expert. They were showing the huge and magnificent temples of Tamil Nadu in the background and he was playing the tabla. The song never came again and I had searched a lot in the Planet M and Jayanagar HMV house and all that. I remembered a little part of the song, but it was hopeless as you don't know how to search it, but yet you want to search it badly.

Now back in 2009, I was browsing thru' youtube and randomly I stumbled upon that image which I had seen. I am feeling happy that I located this "lost" song. The name of the guy is Talvin Singh, it seems and this was the image which I had in mind. The song which I had listened to was Butterfly.

The song is extremely complex and is Carnatic Fusion based : I bet you cannot get the tune (even if you are very musically inclined, it takes "serious listening" to appreciate this song. You can listen to the song Talvin Singh - Butterfly. The flute, tabla and the veena combination is the work of a genius. If you like this song, I recommend Spirit of Unity Concerts of the Madras Telegu Academy by AR_Rahman in the late 80s and the early 90s when the genius was making music for ads.

There are other lost songs which I hope to discover them one day. I remember the images and the tune. But alas not the band name nor anything else. If you catch some lyrics, you can track it down. Otherwise it is impossible.

Which brings us to a problem on web searching. Can objects be associated with descriptions so as to facilitate searching ?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Election time

If your area falls in the B'lore South Constituency, then have a look at this candidate, Krishna Byregowda. Lot of talk happening about him in the office corridors over a cup of coffee: Looks to be a decent chap. An M.A. in International Affairs from Washington DC is a good education and also he has some experience, like President, Karnataka Pradesh Youth Congress 2007-Current

I don't know in which constituency my locality is a part of.

I heard some rumours that Captain Gopinath was made to stand for elections, by Devegowda. It seems the campaign is fully sponsored by Devegowda for Capt. Gopinath although the captain is contesting as an independent. Maybe the intention of Devegowda maybe vote splitting for BJP AnanthKumar?

There is another Swami from Tumkur who is sponsored by Devegowda it seems .... Devegowda is upto something these days.

However, Kumaraswamy is a decent chap IMHO.

It is hot summer here. It is cold winter elsewhere in some other part of the world. But I like the mood and light and the peace in this photo.

Tranquil waters - The boat sails silently and the forest looks at the boat.

Congo Basin and Amazon rain Forest are two places whose beauty is hard to put on by paper. I should breathe that lovely fresh air someday.

A picture is worth more than a thousand words.
Assuming 1 word is 1 byte on this machine.

Friday, April 03, 2009


Check out the lyrics of Ranaji , the song of Gulaal.
Really want to see this movie, let's see if I can get the tickets.

Anurag Kashyap has always something new to offer. Some element of creativity and surprise is in store.