Thursday, April 26, 2007

Smart-City : a deal near missed

Smart-city agreement appears to be nearly through and if everything goes good, we should have the papers signed in two or three days.

For the unawares - Smart-City is a Rs 15 billion venture between Kerala government and the Dubai based promoters 'Tecom' to setup a IT based infrastructure in Kochi, primarily to attract MNCs looking for a Asia base.

The project was initiated during the UDF government and after years of talk, it’s interesting to note the many terms&conditions the current LDF government has managed to turn around, into Kerala advantage:

1.) InfoPark, a government owned IT Park was supposed to be handed over to the Tecom.

Not sure why anyone would do this ? Sounds "I shall give you a lot of stuff for low cost and also give you a fully functional revenue generating enterprise for free."

2.) Other IT companies can come around Kochi now. Under the initial plan, it appears no new IT firms could start in Kochi, except within smart-city.

I guess UDF thought everything would end once this smart-city is in place? Never thought what after smart-city?

3.) The 246 acres of land would now be priced at Rs 104 crore (from Rs 26 crore fixed during UDF term)

Signs of early acceptance to get the project through?

4.) Under the new terms, this land would not be owned by Tecom but would be leased to them for 99 years.

Smart move from the government negotiators.

5.) The government stake in the project has gone up from 9% to 16%, which would further go up to 26% after 5years. Effectively this also means that the number of persons in the director board would go up from 1 to 3 in 5 years.

6.) The Chairman for the venture would be decided by the Government.

The above two terms is yet another smart move - this means more control over the govern ship of the project.

7.) The number of jobs the project should generate is now fixed at 90,000 in 10 years instead of the planned 33000 jobs after 7 years.

More the jobs, more the better for numerous unemployed graduates.

Another point worth noting is that the government could take over the project if the terms are not met. Much has been commented on the UDF haste to get the project signed during their term. But, for the moment, LDF appears to know its stuff and do well. It is going to be one great watch for all Keralites; when the first phase is completed in the year 2010.

God bless Kerala and her people.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Driving in Bangalore

Just like any other Indian driver, I picked up my customary verbal fight with the taxi driver who kept blasting his tweaked up horn every fraction of the second. The audio system inside my car and the pulled up glasses did not appear to help me out this time. The usual sentences were flamed out. While for him, it appears I was not driving fast enough. Hello, I cannot fly over the tens of vehicles in front of me. Anyways, as expected both returned customarily to the car and moved on.

Driving schools appear to teach only to drive the mechanical device and use the horn. But, there is definitely a difference between 'driving' and driving.

What they should have taught:

a.) Driving Habits - Not sure how this could be taught. But, waiting for a few seconds to let the other guy go at an intersection/traffic-block will not kill you. Moreover, you would rather feel good! The same applies when you are waiting in a queue. Blasting your horn is not going to help dear. Try the old sequence of counting 1 to 10(0).

b.) Unwanted horns - I think this device could safely be removed from all vehicles. You would not need to use this thing if you are driving proper. Even if really necessary, think thrice before you use it. Maybe you adore your 'horns', but not others.

c.) Minor Accidents - Minor accidents happen all the time in the business of the city and could lead to small scratches and dents. There is no point spending the next 1/2hr trying to figure out whose mistakes it is such that the other could possibly squeeze his wallet. Again, mistakes keep happening; be brave enough to accept ..a sorry makes a big difference! Move on mate.

Everything adds up to patience and courtesy I guess. Safe drive.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Doctor Who

The nagging frequent headaches and the sudden blurring of vision with pressure in the eye took me once again to the neurologist at a prominent hospital. "The blood flow is OK", said the neuro after examining my head with his hands. All good, but he seemed worried about my headache; the way I do?. MRI+EEG appeared to be the problem hunter tool for the doctor,since he had no clues to what is happening. The near perfect EEG and MRI reports confused the doctor more and the only reported "inflammation in the middle ear" was the candle at the other end.

The recommended-ENT doctor at the same hospital was more clueless than the neuro. His reports (impedance test and another odd one) too appeared mute and he did not want to shoot in the dark. With no way in the dark, the only direction appeared to be the migraine for this ENT even when I specifically mentioned that neuro had ruled off migraine.

Now what? Neuro finally confessed that he had no clues to what is happening. Nice. So, he would rather change my usual medicines. Why? I don't know - don't think he does either.

Had asked him once why a migraine occur - strangely same answer again - no clues. What they do know is to reduce the frequency of attack, reduce the aura and the accompanying pain. But dont ask for the details.

Relaxing at home, the small note tightly wrapped up in the medicine carton seems to say a lot many interesting things: (This 'beta-blocker' was supposed to reduce frequency of migraine attacks )

a.) high chance for depression and suicidal tendencies.
b.) Manufacturers have no clues to how this medicine work. Sic!
c.) Ocular pressure & acute myopia is nearly guaranteed.

Nice! Could the blurring be the acute myopia? ocular pressure is eye pressure! Its written in black and white! These are effectively the problems I have! Wish I had read this before visiting the doctor.. I could have shown him.

Perhaps he did know about this, when he asked me to change the medicine. I would rather prefer a doctor who is frank and knows what s/he is speaking. We are all humans.

Failed Solution & Verdict
Effectively, after around 10k Rs spent, I had to come to the verdict that the experience of these doctors does not match the long list of acronyms attached to their name. They do not appear to think outside their box (read specialisation) and seems to easily pinpoint the other wing with the problem after they are done with their long list of tests. The listed side effects does make you feel like a guinea pig and the doctors have no worry in prescribing the most weirdest of chemicals.

Planned Solution
General Medicine Practitioners/Physicians - Its all good to consider the word of the specialist and their prescriptions. But, in these cases, its best to cross check and co relate with a family doctor or a general medicine practitioner who has some really good experience and name. They do appear to think outside the box.

As for me, I have stopped all of these medicines and for the root problem (migraine), I am now going via the classical route - heavy doses of paracetamol on the outset of a migraine. At least it worked OK until the previous generation. Should also start thinking about alternate medicines (Ayurveda and Homeo)

Effectively, think more about the medicine which go in and always reason with the doctor - most of them are not as smart as they appear.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

MRI devices are primitive.

No, they are not. The detail of information you get from the MRI machine is tremendous. Though you can peek into the human body without a surgical procedure, from the patients perspective there are some disturbing facts:

1.) Its not the most comfortable place. Sticking your body in a barely fitting tunnel with an odd mask for 15-20 minutes without moving is itself challenging. Once in, your face is just about 2-3 cm away from the top of the tunnel. Afraid of closed spaces ? This is not the place to be. Miners might feel at home. Why couldn't they make this tunnel any bigger ?

2.) Alone. The 20 minutes might appear lonely for the miner too. Not sure why there isn't a mechanism to communicate between the caved-in fellow and the operator outside - a status update would always do good.

3.) Noises - This rather complicated modern machine grumbles like a bad boy each time it works. Grumbles for the machine turn out to be noise for the patient. Again, can't this ear-drum breaking buzz be avoided?
The operator might suggest sleep as an option. Sure, if your entire life was spent in the engine room.

4.) Exit path - No procedure is in place for the caved-in fellow to exit in case of an emergency - say when you feel real frustrated and you just want to get out. A red button with an arrow would be nice.

Though the results from machine are of great help, we appear to have a long way to go in terms of the MRI technology. A small wearable device which does the job in under minute should be perfect? Yeah. Lucky grand-son.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Time Travel - a short story

This was Anand’s first visit to Tamil Nadu, rather to India. His parents had left India for the better more than two decades ago and his only images of India were the shots from National Geographic and the odd sequences from the very odd Hindi movies.

Anand had never thought about traveling by a bullock cart until now. His maternal uncle appeared to have a plan already in place, with the house cart going off to Dharmapuri for the monthly ration.

He did not know whether to say yes or no. “With more than enough reading, a travel should do me good” he thought. The 'familiar' cart appeared as a strange object to Anand with driver Chinnappa already at his place in the front. Anand joining him had made Chinnappa uncomfortable.He had his face turned towards the road while Anand got into the back of the cart.

The details of the cart intrigued Anand. Two rather large rounded wood with a touch of rubber made up the wheels. The wheels were connected to a wooden half open box. The extension from this box was placed on the necks of the two bulls which in turn were controlled by the rope Chinnappa had. Steerings.

No suspensions meant he had to sway left right with the cart. Once thorough with this sequence, he could actually look out into the open fields, which seemed to extend till the horizon. He wanted to pick up a conversation with Chinnappa, but was worried about his accent soaked tamil and moreover Chinnappa appeared engaged in driving.

This road from Krishnagiri to Dharmapuri would take them atleast three hours and was different to the one the motor vehicles took. Except for the sound of the wheels and the bells off the bulls, the only other sound was Chinnappa mumbling. Taking the curved roads were rather difficult for both Chinnappa and the bulls since there were no parts which could bend. A rather strange sequence happened at each curve. Chinnappa made the first bull turn, then the second, all the while himself making the oddest of sound. Could they not just make the head of the cart out of two wooden piece which could turn easier ? Anand wanted to ask.

The beautiful landscape with few people at the fields, the cool September breeze, empty kutcha roads seemed to enclose him into a different world. A world where time stood still. Strangest of feelings appeared to wrap him. There was nothing to bother him; no mobile, no TV and most specifically no Amma. He could travel forever on these roads. He took note of all the objects he saw, places got imprinted in his mind and some on the camera film.

It was the thirst that caught up with him and broke the trance. Chinnappa had the water provisions all ready and some dried fruits too. The smile across Chinnappa’s face at this moment was the key for Anand to start talking while he moved to the seat by Chinnappa.

Chinnappa has been handling carts since ages and has not seen places further than Chennai, but he appeared to be the happiest. Anand could not help thinking about the people back home hurrying around in their coats with a burger in one hand and mobile in the other. He concluded that everyone should do a bullock cart travel and perhaps meet fellows like Chinnappa atleast once in a lifetime.

Repetition of the heavily accented words, more dried fruits and the silences in between made way to Dharmapuri.

With Chinnappa gone across the street to get the provisions from the regulars, Anand felt over the top of the world alone in the cart. He tried holding the rope but let go when the bulls started to move.

Anand couldnot wait to travel back.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Home - a short story

It has been more than a year since they moved to this house. Raman still remembered the first time he came down with Ambujam to see the house just before their marriage. They had visited a lot many before this but none appeared to please them like this one. It was either the odd shapes of the rooms or the parking spaces across the street or the totally misplaced pooja room which caused them to look further, until this house.

With the wedding and the ceremonial visits to the relatives done, the last year saw them planning the house arrangements; especially Ambujam with her spare time at the new home. Though she could barely turn around freely in the smallest of kitchens, she had made the best of it by arranging everything into place – “cute little kitchen” as she called it.

Slowly the once empty house filled up with carefully planned items right from a mini aquarium to the TV. They still talk of the times when they slept on the floor which Ambujam would have mopped each day and the times when they ate sitting down on the floor before the dining table arrived.

Though the guests could not avoid noticing the common door which separated the bachelors staying on the next room, the tiny toilet and kitchen, they seldom mentioned this, taking into consideration how Ram & Ambu were happy around.

“Ambu, did you hear that the tenants have vacated from the first floor? After a long eight years of stay, they managed to buy a flat at Madiwala”. Ambujam in the midst of grinding the dosa batter wondered if it was the doctor family or the Aiyar family. ‘Should be the Aiyar family” she thought. She knew that doctor was on a financial crisis and could not afford a new flat.

The next day when their house owner came down, he asked them if they would be interested to shift down to the vacant house, on the same rent. The house down had a single bedroom with spacious hall and a large kitchen. The house owner appeared to like both of them; why shouldn’t he, they never appeared to cause any sort of trouble and cheque appeared at his door step every last day of the month without a fail, just like the predictable bill collectors. Though the bill collectors collected money instead.

They visited the vacant house out of interest and this time to have a detailed look, unlike the visits while the previous tenants were around. The house looked like the way a ‘house‘should be, with everything well defined – a spacious hall, a rather large kitchen, a bedroom with balcony and a big toilet.”Amma would definitely like this spacious place” Ambu thought. Amma would no longer need to take the rather steep steps up one floor with her ailing back pain. This appeared to be the perfect house to rent out next!

In the meanwhile, Raman was thinking about where each item from the present house could be moved. There appeared to be too many which would need to shifted down - fridge, TV, washing machine, the extra cot, the music system, the clothes dryer… but he did have a plan & place for all the items in the large house.

House owner had promised them he would definitely confirm with Raman before he signed an agreement from any other prospective tenants. This left Ram and Ambu to think deeper on the plan for some time.

The next few days saw Ambujam and Raman planning the different positions and places for the items in the vacant house. Ambujam appeared to have an insight into the minor details like where the guests would sleep and whether they would need a separate door to the only toilet and also the mailing addresses which would need to be changed.

But, as the days passed off, the interest in the new house seems to come down for both of them. The topic did come once during dinner today when they again debated over what is good in the vacant house. But, the possible trouble in settling down while adjusting to the new place, finding the best place for each item, the bathroom access via the bedroom, the yet to be decided place for the dining table etc made Ambujam decide against the vacant house. They were actually rather happy in this cramped up house and everything had a proper plan & place. “Perhaps another year at this home, before we move to a bigger home” thought Raman.

“No Sir, we would not be interested in moving this time; perhaps next time. Thanks” Ambujam heard Raman speaking over the phone.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Perfect Knowledge Base?

My immediate problem is this - all of my colleagues have their set of know-how on a vast set of topics. How do I apply that onto a problem to derive the solution ? Of course we cannot expect all of them to review or apply their time and effort in each case to solve this, which is not the least practical. In this scenario, I am worried only about the amount of data contained in each minds - not how effectively the data gets applied or utilised. (IQ can wait)

Known solutions
Knowledge Base (KB) - Assuming everyone is able to put down their entire knowledge into a knowledge base, knowledge bases could be the solution to solve the problem. But sadly, KB's of today do not satisfy these since:
a.) There is no way to transfer the entire stuff the brain holds into a central DB from everyone. The best they can do is write articles , best practises and the like, voluntarily.
b.) The various KB's around appear to work on 'keywords' or 'similar problems' and does a full-text search to return the result. This should work for troubleshooting a bug or a known issue or a predefined set of problem with a different set of input, but not applicable for a generic problem in hand.

And in the Mystic World -(AI of the future ) ?
In the mystic world, this would translate to a big brain of some kind which is capable of collecting knowledge from the various human minds in addition to :
a.) holding large amount of data
b.) able to process the data based on the requirement
c.) and finally return the best result.

Would this be ever possible ? Perhaps once the brain is deciphered completely, we should be able to create our dear KB brain. Until then its the standard KBs and lots of meetings & emails. Hmmm.