Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hamid Ansari on WolframAlpha

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With the launch of Wolfram alpha the Internet search industry is surely stirred if not shaken. The pioneering product from Wolfram Research and its flagship product Mathematica has promised a new dimension to the way search is handled in the websphere currently. I had missed to check Google on its Day 1 so I grabed this opportunity to check out WolframAlpha on its first official day! The results were satisfactory if not spectacular. It is built around a niche which was missed by Google; it provides answers to questions that are sometimes better than a chunk of links that you get in the search result set of Google, brisk answers to questions, no skimming through a huge pile of information for a tiny piece of information!
I tried with a few basic questions like "Who is the Prime Minister of India" and got perfect answers. Then I tried a twist, I asked WolframAlpha this question, "Who is the Vice President of India"! Whoa, it got stuck!!!
Either the Wolfram still needs a lot of work or we need to ask our Vice President to work a little bit more!!!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Good luck to UPA

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india development
Vijitha occupies the cubicle next to mine in office. A lady with a good years of experience in the IT industry, a mother, a responsible citizen of the country and recently a very happy person too. While there may be a number of reasons for her happiness one significant contribution is from the UPA!
"My long time dream came true. Finally, we have a party with majority to give a stable government at the centre!", she said.

What does a stable government mean for a common man living in this country? First, it means that the tax payer will not have to share the burden of an early election this time (people like Mulayam Singh, Devegauda, Mayawati, Left who are known for trying to shake the governments in power, move away!).
Moreover, a stable government and one which would be running a second consecutive term at the office would be high on confidence and would take decisions swiftly and decisively. Mr. Manmohan, while still may not have a perfect 'wave' for the supporters, sure has got guts now to influence the decision making in a significant way. The press buzz that Montek Singh Ahluwalia is being hinted by the PM as the next FM is a bold step, something that shows the resolve that Manmohan has this time around.
The next five years should bring about changes that would be significant from an international stand point too. Dr. Singh has already shared a good relationship with the US prez and with positive developments happening in Pakistan with regard to the Taliban issue, things may improve for India.
Rahul Gandhi could be a big factor! He is young, dynamic, has a legacy to back him up and he has proved that he is not a premature political enthusiast by swinging the faith of UP towards congress in this general elections (it was amazing to see him sit in the post-victory meeting of the UPA composed and poised as the next big thing that would happen to India).
Post recession, India has emerged as a stable economy. The economic policies of India have been applauded and the faith of foreign investor would be bolstered with this political stability in India even more (The first Monday after the election results when the market opened the new trust in India Inc. was evident).
Overall, I think, India in the next 5 years should be able to achieve big things and bring about a change that everyone has been wishing for since decades now! Good luck to the UPA government from the CnC team!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Indian elections: Anticlimax but a perfect result

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Most political enthusiasts often look at elections and politics as more than a significant event for their country, its also a source of entertainment for them! This year's general election provided enough 'masala' to the Indian folks. From Varun Gandhi's snobbish comments to Rahul Gandhi's incessant rhetoric that he would not be a PM candidate to Mayawati being touted as a PM candidate to Advani's election campaign on the lines of Obama's, everything was overwhelming. People expected a hung parliament at the best and had already made up their minds to get glued to the TV (there are no movies at the multiplexes anyways!) for the next one week at the least. However, the 'intelligent' Indian voter decided the other way round, gave a very clear mandate to UPA and even in my home the TV is playing 'Dhoom-2' and not CNN-IBN, Aaj Tak or NDTV!
This election result is spectacular in more than one ways. The way in which regional parties have been rooted out, the 'Left' left out, Congress gaining a stronghold in UP, Manmohan favoured over Advani for PM, Lalu wiped out of Bihar, everything has been unexpected and refreshingly pleasing (my personal opinion!).
I captured a few reactions for the readers of CnC, here they are:
Jadhvekar (before the counting began), "... last year the exit polls favoured us and UPA formed a government, we're hoping for the same twist this year ..."
Rajdeep Sardesai, " ... Indian voter seems to be getting far more intelligent than we could ever expect ..."
Some political expert, " ... Samajwadi Party and Congress was more than a one night stand ..."
Shashi Tharoor, " ... Left has to stop attacking other party candidates and start to work ..."
Guha, "...decline of the identity politics in Uttar Pradesh ..."
Someone, "...the Bengali voter always wakes up later..."
BBC correspondent, " ... BJP, the opposition Hindu party, is disappointed ..."
"What's your drink Mr. Patnaik?" "I'm very forgetful ..."
A reporter asked Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, "Madam would Rahul be a minister?" She says, "That is for the PM to decide" and looks at Manmohan Singh who turns the other side as if trying to find someone else who could answer that question!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Now 'green software'

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Even software is trying to go green now! I downloaded the Notepad++ editor today and was reading the 'About' page on its site, http://notepad-plus.sourceforge.net/uk/site.htm. Here's what I found there:
" By optimizing as many routines as possible without losing user friendliness, Notepad++ is trying to reduce the world carbon dioxide emissions. When using less CPU power, the PC can throttle down and reduce power consumption, resulting in a greener environment."
I know, its a geeky way of saying things but I think all the author of the software really wanted to say was that he is concerned. If we can show such a concern in every little (of big) thing that we do, it would make a lot of difference in bringing down the global temperatures and improving conditions for the generations to follow.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Bangalore on the brink of destruction?

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bangalore electric pole
Bangalore has many strategic advantages as a place in India which can be used for establishing important industries and offices. It is one of India's fastest growing cities, already expanded beyond its limits and now almost about to explode. The IT hub, India's silicon valley, Bangalore has been favoured over many other cities in the past when it comes to investing in mainstream industries and infrastructure.
The social structure, economic standard and awareness of Bangalore is much above many cities in India (and the world). Bangalore has emerged as the city with the highest standard of living in India (its rank is 150th in the world).
Bangalore is also the seat of a very sensitive institution of our country, the Air Force. It was primarily established in Bangalore as the place enjoys a distance from Pakistan, China, Bangaladesh and Sri Lanka which at that time was beyond the striking range of these countries. Arabian Sea to its other side makes it a perfect city to enable all other places by serving as a central powerhouse.
The weather in Bangalore made it one of the most favourable cities for the growth of important industries like the Information and Technology, BPO, etc. There were other places with cooler climate but they were not quite as connected as Bangalore was.
Even many sages and spiritual gurus have found Bangalore a perfect city to settle down in. It is a perfect mix of good weather and comfort (amenities, facilities, connectivity, etc.) for these spiritual leaders who find (for good reasons) that sitting at Himalayas and meditating is not as good as connecting with people, improving their lives (and making a big empire in the long run).
All these wonderful things are coming to an end for Bangalore soon! The city is not blessed with good weather anymore. The sun has the mercury rising and a new record is being made each day. The felling of trees and the exponentially growing traffic is making things worse. The population of the city has grown out of bounds now, the city is on the brink of exploding. The infrastructure is not enough to support the growth rates of the city and with a few very important projects, like the flyover to the Electronic City, being stalled as Maytas was behind them, the situation is going to go from bad to worse.
A lot of government attention is indeed needed. A good infra and a reliable public transport would make things better drastically. On an individual level, people need to become more environment friendly in their daily life activities. Practices like car pooling, using more public transport, saving electricity, fuel, would go a long way in improving things in Bangalore.
PS: The pic is something interesting I saw being done in a nearby street (in a place called BTM layout, quite popular amongst the IT folks as they start their career), the people from the electricity department are installing an electric pole with the help of the common men on the streets :)