Measure it, but on the proper axis

January 2, 2010

      We all know the concept of Axis. It is the same co-ordinate geometry concept that i am talking about. Wikipedia defines it as the Reference line of a Cartesian Co-Ordinate system. Traditionally Cartesian Co-Ordinate system defines 2-D (X-Y) and 3-D (X-Y-Z) systems.

X-Y-Z

      How do we measure our achievements? Well, ‘achievements’ is a very big word to use, let me rephrase it. How do we assess the results obtained by the work we are doing.

      While answering this question, most of us compare it with ‘standards’ set in that particular field. Well, even in physics the quantity of everything is expressed by comparing with an established ‘standard’. For e.g. the weight of any physical entity is expressed as “object ‘A’ is x times heavier than object ‘B’ “, where A is the object whose weight we are interested to measure and B is the standard whose weight is well known and the credibility of which is accepted.

      Enough of scientific explanation and let me come to the main point. It is fine to measure the attributes of an object by comparing with other objects. But is it correct to follow the same approach when it comes to measuring ourselves. Let me take an example and explain. One prominent example that comes to mind is: Researchers and Entrepreneurs. There is no denying of the fact that both are extremely intelligent. After coming out of universities, both focus their resources in different directions. While one focuses the intelligence and time in the research, the other into running the business. Now the resources are getting focused in different directions and hence require different axes (the plural for axis). So it is very important to place them on two different axes.

      The axis introduced here represents everything. ‘Everything’ includes the time and energies invested, the interests in the opted direction, the interpretation of results etc etc. Hence it is very important to find out the exact axis before assessing ourselves. Before proceeding further let me make it clear that whatever is being discussed over here is strictly applicable for each individual to do self analysis and not for others’ assessment.

      It is absolutely not possible to compare the measurements obtained on these two different axes. Even if an attempt is made to compare these measurements, it will merely serve academic purpose and nothing else. Comparing the amount of research work done with that of business achievements is nothing but stupidity.

      There are innumerable examples in every walk of life where the differences in nature of work are to be considered and hence needs to be placed on different axes. In fact the example given above is a very obvious example where the distinction in the focus of resources is clearly visible. There are many cases where such clear cut obvious distinction is not visible. One needs to make a lot deeper analysis of their opted field to ‘discover’ their axis. It is very difficult for me to give such examples because it might not convince everyone in the cases where the distinctions are very murky and not easy to sight. But I guess, by now you would have understood the essence of the point being made. It is up to the individuals to explore the correct axis into which they fit into.

      In short: since the amount of success majorly depends on the time and effort (resources) an individual puts in, it is very important that we focus the resources fully in the correct direction. The reverse interpretation of the statement is also very true. Since the resources have been majorly invested in a particular direction, it is very important to assess the results only in that particular direction and not in any other. I guess the meaning of an axis can be visualized by properly combining these two statements.

      What if you have tried enough to figure out the axis that fits you, but failed? What if your case might not fit into any established axes? Don’t worry. Why restrict yourself to the traditional 2-dimensional or 3-dimensional co-ordinate system. The space is infinite. Define a new dimension that fits exactly to your needs. Got what I am trying to say. Why always be a trend follower. If your way doesn’t fir any trend, be the trend setter. Thousands will soon follow you. The new axis created by you will soon be shared by others!!!!!!!!!

      Well one more example I would like to present. This example might not give any value addition to the main focus of the article, but it is definitely worth reading this article from Vir sanghvi on the ‘madman’ theory just from a GK point of view. India and Pakistan both got independence at the same time. The present state of affairs for both the countries results back from the direction of the focus of resources. While India focused the resources on development, Pak did it in a totally different direction. From the madman article, it is quite clear that Pak focused its intelligence (mind you, the madman strategy is a truly brilliant one) in this peculiar way. But what purpose does it serve today? Sure they might have disguised themselves for some time. Sooner or later everything will be decoded and will be exposed. That time, all the effort (if at all any effort is put in) will go in vain.

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A semester for a smile…

December 6, 2009

      It was one of those weird ideas of mine, which took shape when I saw this chick (not exactly a chick… a good lookin gal).  Some how wanted to impress her.  Mind you, unlike myself, she was brilliant in academics too. And I thought that, may be a ‘genius’ idea could do the trick. “An idea can change your life”.. 🙂

      Right away came an idea to my tube light..(ya it takes some time. but it does glow..thats the most important thing..it should glow..)

      It was one of those boring classes of the seventh semester ‘computer networks’..remember Tanenbaum??? The huge grantha…yeah the same subject.. Many of the geeks in our class were thinkin abt their 8th sem project…. not me..ofcourse..i had thought of my project idea in 5th semester itself so that it would help me in placements..well….sadly it didnt help me.. 😦

      Ok…coming to the main point..there was a discussion about the 8th sem project…many were suggesting  ideas…even the lecturer was good at giving tips for the project…one of the main domains that came out of the discussion was VOIP..its voice over internet protocol..even i dont know much abt it…but in short it is something like utilizing the existing bandwidth to transmit the voice signals, whereas originally the entire bandwidth was dedicated for the transmission of internet data packets.

      Here comes a brilliant idea, which is brilliant only according to me (In fact it isn’t an idea…it is just a conceptual understanding).

      We’ve all heard about the term ‘reverse engineering’.. Everywhere this term is prevalent, especially during those mechanical fests..the banners about reverse enginnering are visible everywhere.

      So..i was thinking in these lines..isn’t VOIP also reverse engineering. Coz, the Internet revolution started by using the leased telephone lines for transmitting the data. Although a lot of processing happens to make it compliant to be transmitted on telephone lines, the basic idea was to use the existing telephone lines to carry the data packets. This brand new technology i.e. VOIP is also using the same principle in the exactly opposite manner. It uses the existing bandwidth on the Internet traffic carrying lines to carry voice signals. Now tell me….isn’t it reverse engineering.. I don’t know.

      I took this understanding of mine to her and explained hoping she would be impressed at my ‘revolutionary’ thinking with much pomp and pride. When i explained about this to her, she just gave a sarcastic smile. I was hoping that she would be impressed. But this sarcastic smile made me worried. Some how I gathered the courage to approach her again and asked her how was the idea.

      Now is the time that came as a shock to me. She explained the flaws in my basic understanding of the concept itself. She explained that my understanding of utilizing the existing infrastructure for something new could be categorized under system re-usability and not reverse engineering. Reverse engineering is something totally different. Although she had explained what exactly reverse engineering is, but at that time I didn’t understand much.

      In 8th sem, we decided (just decided…no concrete plans) to do a project in VHDL. It is hardware descriptive language- this is a programming language similar to ‘c’, but here you describe how the digital hardware (the end product) should behave and the system will generate that particular hardware for you. I will not go deep into this coz even I don’t know much about how it works. 😦

      As we started to research what model are we going to prepare, one of our group members told that his cousin (1 yr senior) had made a project in a similar language called verilog. So we decided to copy the same. Yeah…most of us are cheeters..very few ‘engineers’ think on their own and do their own project. Then we approached that guy and thankfully he gave us the code generously.

      So now we are ready with everything. The only thing left to us was to convert this Verilog code into a VHDL code. Both languages are completely inter-operable something similar to C# and VB.net. (changes are only with respect to syntax).

      It was when we sat down for code-conversion that we realized that the job was not so easy as we had thought initially. We could not blindly replace the syntaxes of both the languages. It is first required to understand the original code’s functionality, only then could we do the conversion. So, now it was up to us that we understand the system’s working and then convert it to a different language. This was quite a painful task, but somehow managed to complete it on time :). Later the final project submission went well and I finally became an ‘engineer’ after 4 long yrs of struggle.

      Every story has to have a happy ending..rite?. So… in came the graduation day, where I met her for one last time. We did have a fairly long conversation. And it was during this conversation that I explained her about how we managed to complete our project. Now, I was in for a shock. She re-opened the reverse engineering topic and told that whatever we did in our project (specifically- understanding the system from a well written code) is a good example of reverse engineering. Even while I was in a shock that she still remembers our discussion, she gave an impressed smile (earlier she had given a sarcastic smile).

      Now I was completely satisfied. The thing that I tried a semester ago, gave results now..that too after college got over. You may ask me what exactly did I achieve. Remember, in the beginning I have mentioned that I just wanted to impress her and I think that smile told the entire story..

Marketing goes a long way……

November 27, 2009

It’s all happening in the cricketing world. The latest introduction of IPL and its extension Champions league have been tremendously successful. So, what triggered such overwhelming towards IPL? My guess is, it’s ‘plain old marketing‘. Let me explain what it means:

  •  Firstly, IPL is not the greatest idea ever conceptualized. What is new about IPL?

Q: Is it the first ever Domestic/International cricket league? Answer: A big NO.

 The English Cricket league (or the domestic cricket championship played in Britain) is the prototype for all other cricket leagues. When I say a ‘league’, I mean a tournament in which the teams that play are different clubs and the players are of different nationalities. When we compare the leagues across all the sports, i think (not sure) EPL is the oldest.

 Even the rebel league World Series Cricket introduced commercially by Kerry Packer in the late 70’s was a huge success. Agreed that it was a rebel league aimed at money making. But in terms of attracting talent, it succeeded.

 In India also, there has always been the club cricket played be it in a small scale apart from the BCCI run domestic tournaments like ranaji trophy and duleep trophy among others.

 In short, the point that I intend to make is that league/club cricket existed from times immemorial.

  •  Secondly, even though the promoters say IPL is not restricted to T20 format, it still remains a fact that T20 cricket is the greatest boost for IPL.

Q: Is T20 cricket the brainchild of IPL or BCCI? Answer: Again a big NO.

 As it has happened many times in history, not always the inventor gets the credit. The most famous being the case with the invention of the electric bulb among others. Edison is always given the credit for inventing the electric bulb, but it is a well documented fact that he is not the inventor but he is the person who converted the invention into a commercially viable product.

 Similar is the case with T20 cricket. It is the English cricket (ECB to be specific) who were responsible for the invention (I guess ‘introduction’ instead of ‘invention’ might be a better word to use) of T20 cricket. The ECB, desperate to improve the popularity of cricket in England, came up with the very innovative idea of 20-20 cricket and coined the term T20 for it. And it was a brilliant idea that became an instant success domestically. But the ECB made a big mistake by not capturing the T20 success and promote it in a big way (big way- I mean internationally). As admitted by many top officials of ECB, it invested too much doing research in ‘how best’ to take it forward instead of acting immediately and making it big event before someone else captured the moment. 

 As many of us remember, initially BCCI opposed to the idea of 20-20 cricket. They acted as the ‘holy cow’ of cricket saying that it would damage the ‘soul’ of cricket by destroying test cricket. (Ironically it is India that was playing less number of test matches and more number of 50-50 cricket because it is considered more commercial).

 In short, the point that I intend to make is that 20-20 cricket was never really the idea of BCCI.

 So What triggered the success of IPL?

 As I told in the beginning, it is purely ‘good marketing’ rather than a ‘big idea’. The main man behind the success of IPL, its commissioner, Lalit Modi had revealed many facts that he thinks triggered the success in an interview to Vir Sanghvi.

 One of the important points that he says is that of the studies he did about the European football leagues’ business model and the flaws in it. He points out: 70 per cent of a team’s expenses went not on buying players but on maintaining stadiums. In the UK, Manchester United and other teams own their stadiums. As they play at home a maximum of 30 days a year, the stadium is unused for the other 335. It is this unproductive asset that burns the biggest hole in balance sheets.

 Studying this pattern, Lalit came to the conclusion that a league would only work if the BCCI allowed team owners to play in its stadiums for free. That way, the teams would not be landed with unproductive assets.

 He also points out: that the best way to ensure a relatively level playing field was to control the way in which players were auctioned among teams and to deny team owners the ability to buy players in the open market.

 So, after making some smart moves and good marketing, Modi made sure that IPL was a success. Even his decision to move the IPL2 to South Africa came in as a blessing in disguise as it ensured that a) It was not a one-time-wonder. b) Established his control over decision making and showed that he can go to any extent and will not bend to others.

Finally, to conclude, it seems that Modi and his marketing are making all the right moves as of now. Kudos to him!!!!!!!