Gang of 6...

This blog belongs to 6 ex COE students of NSIT... Though, now, we are all in separate places, studying or working, we hope to remain in touch with each other lest we forget the great time we had back in college. This blog is an attempt to achieve the same. Here's to us...!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

back on d blog n 4m jaipur!!

hey folks me back! [:D]......n choki dhani is as good as ppl say it its!!!![:D]!!!!!!!!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Really really bored....

This has been long overdue.... here goes nothing.

So my trip to Hong Kong was boringly uneventful. Went alone, attended the conference alone, did some touristy things alone and came back alone. The highlight of my trip was my visit to Asia's largest musical instrument store which happens to be located there. So I spent half a day there, playing some of the most expensive guitars in the world and acting like a serious customer. But I had a blast there!

HK is a group of 4 islands (or is it 5). I was living on Kowloon island and my conference center was located on the main HK island. I used the HK Metro (goes under-water!) to commute to and fro. I had bought what they call an 'Octopus' card - all public transport - buses, metro, ferry, trams, even tourist spots accept this "smart card" from which the amount spent is deducted automatically. But what struck me about the city the most was that it is extremely pedestrian friendly - broad sidewalks and very good pedestrian subways/bridges everywhere. It is possible to go from anywhere to anywhere on foot there.... without feeling the weather, traffic or the pollution too much. Also, nobody speaks English... and some Chinese people (old ones esp.) were quite uninterested in even trying to communicate. Others were quite friendly... practised my sign language there :P

And the food... ugh.... well, as people say, Indian Chinese food is a cuisine in itself. Authentic Chinese food is nothing like what the masalad version that we get here. It was quite horrible, let me add. Most Chinese restaurants house aquariums from which one can choose one's food.... as fresh as it gets, 'eh? So, I survived on the BigMac and Fries combo from McDonalds - there are more than 200 McDonalds outlets in Hong Kong. There is one at every block. And all tourists eat there. I was amazed how well the food quality and flavour is standardised at McD's. The fries, burgers and shakes taste exactly the same as they do here!

The conference... boring boring boring. Apart from maybe 1 or 2 talks/papers out of the 800+ papers being presented there. I got a strong feeling that most people attend such conferences for networking, socialising or as an excuse for holidaying; they are sponsored by their respective institutes/employers. I can proudly say though, that I was the youngest presenter and attendee there :) I met a couple of Indians - one from IIIT Hyderabad, one guy from a Biotech place in Singapore... met some profs. from the UK, one woman from the NSF (USA). All of them were 40+ years old. Boring boring boring!

Went to a place called "The Peak" from where one can see the whole of Hong Kong... concrete jungle... juxtaposed islands and ocean; quite a sight really.

A good experience overall.

So John, what are we doing about ICCTA and about the BTP? I have just resumed reading papers on language modelling. Do you want to go to Kolkata by air or by train?

Some observations

so the blog is finally up again! and the issue of DSP/VLSI was finally resolved! (unless expert systems messes it up again).

Recently i was watching a movie about aliens, The faculty, why i watched it... i don't know, it was pretty boring.... anyways while watching it a thought struck me that in Hollywood movies aliens are always enemies, they never coming in peace. the only 2 exceptions i could think of were 'Contact' and 'ET', but even here except for the main guys everyone else thinks of the aliens as enemies. then i thought of all those teen movies i watch when i have nothing to do :D, almost in everyone of them there is a group of 'cool' people who hate/abuse/mistreat the guys who are different( the studious types) and the 'cool' guys don't really know these guys. and as you know art imitates life, you can pretty easily conclude that Americans fear/dislike/abuse people who are different/alien to them. maybe you can generalize this for the whole mankind... i don't know. but it certainly seems true of Americans. So can you really blame the Iraq war on the bush administration? i don't think so.... they couldn't really help it, i mean from their point of view Iraq is a desert, Iraqis don't speak English but a strange language, they dress funny, they don't follow Christianity, they don't play baseball and football etc etc.... so they most probably must be enemies, and certainly not friends so no point in feeling guilty about killing them for oil.

While reading Johnny's post this again came to my mind: Sachin, the guy often called as god by almost everyone till the early years of this decade; the guy who was the only reason ,for almost all Indians, to watch cricket; the guy on whose arrival to the batting crease stadiums filled up and on whose dismissal stadiums emptied, the guy every kid wanted to be.... i can go on forever, is suddenly the guy who is often called as the devil standing in the path of youngsters(who by the way rarely do anything of note); the guy who's booed in wankhade stadium (i still cant believe this); the guy to whom everyone gives advice on how to bat( this is unbelievable, this guy has scored more international runs than anyone else, and its my guess he knows a thing or two about batting).
Conclusion public memory is even more volatile than RAM! And we Indians don't respect our heroes, probably this can also be generalized to all mankind, but i will stop short of that.

With reservations for backward classes in India and affirmative action for blacks/coloured people/backward classes around the world, I used to think someone from the upper caste/a white might someday say that he/she is being discriminated against. But i didn't think it would come this early and from Darrel Hair and on such a issue, where there was no scope of discrimination against anyone.

in 4 months time we'll be working, college would be over and with that life as we know it would be over as well, this is pretty hard to digest. and as Danny pointed out a few days back, in 9 yrs we'll be 30,i don't know about you guys, but i am old :(

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Random thoughts...

Getting bored.. so sat down to write...

Lots of interesting stuff happening rt now.. England on the verge of defeating Austraila in the second final in the Commonwealth Bank series..(YAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!), Ganguly scoring another well-made half-century (echo previous sentiments..), non-stop rain in delhi for 2 days now (awesome weather yaar!!), neelu agreeing to see us, some people from techtribe coming to college to give a talk on entrepeneurship, danish attending william darlymple's talk (huh...???), I got my offer letter from atrenta, the moksha quiz also coimg up, plus two projects to finish and last but not the least, me finally taking part in a topcoder match and sucking big time...(atlst thts not a surprise..)!!

So, as u see, am pretty occupied with all this. In between there is a little bit(okay, more than a little) of book-reading, movie-watching, music-listening, sketching, coding, making web pages, orkutting and blogging :D

Coming back to the weather, man.. really awesome weather.. Does grow on you, though it grew too much on danish. That man went for a 250 km long drive coz he liked the weather!! Wish I cud be as reckless as he (is)... But, seriously, weather's nice. It had me making plans for movie marathons, till I realised that watching movies all day doesn't give you much of a chance to enjoy the weather.. hehe.. So, junked the plan (or pseudo-plan, whatever..) and am going for a drive myself. Though not far, just to the neighbourhood market, to buy some books.. (divide danny's trip's distance by 50 and you get the idea..)

Apart from that, all is hunky dory. Well, almost all. Just that teh stupid Adobe ppl aren't calling me for a written exam or interview.. phew.. been waiting for so long now..(sigh!!) Hmm, what else.. Yeah, have been reading Bhagwad Gita of late.. nice funde there.. A pretty logical outlook towards life, wish I had the determination to follow the principles laid out there.. But, fat chance! So, u guys are stuck with me. for the time being.

And yeah, going to HPCA tomorrow.. It's some school for handicapped kids, let's see if we could do something meaningful for those unfortunate kids. They really are in a pitiful state yaar.. I don't men the kids at HPCA. I haven't even met them. Rather, generally. Those kids suffer so much. So much discrimination, and no real help from most of us. I remember the countless times I have seen some guy in our college, who goes around in a wheelchair, being carried up (or down)the staircases, especially the one leading to the canteen.. Heart-wrenching scene that. I really wish we could do something for them..

So, on this cheerful note, would say tata, and as john said/requested/threatened, WRITE!!!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

La vita italiana...

Sorry to keep you hanging so long for the episode of my novella :) So, let me see, where did I stop last time…well, quite a few things have happened since Christmas and New Years, so I’ll just stick to some interesting incidents. So, classes at Politecnico began on the 8th of January, which is when I finally broke my routine of getting up really late and sitting all day in the Computer room at Torrescalla. Not that much changed – I shifted base to Professor Gini’s office and downloaded music all day instead. That continued for most of January; while I kept reading papers and thinking of project ideas, there was not much actual progress, since the robots themselves were missing. And the project itself depends a lot on the capabilities of the robots etc. Anyway, now finally the robot which I would be working on has been identified – it is a Sony AIBO(the robot dog you saw a picture of in my album), which actually belongs to the brother of a student here, Paulo Belluco. He is also working under Prof. Gini, and she convinced him to let me work with it, under his supervision. From now on, until the end of my stay, I would be working at the AI&R lab with the AIBO, where he also generally works all day on his thesis. He is a nice guy, and I usually have lunch(a pizza slice, a sandwich etc) with him – in fact, he is supplying more material for my project than the Politecnico(he also got his WiFi access point for me to use with the AIBO). However, inspite of all this help, I doubt that I’ll be able to complete anything substantial before I have to leave…now that I have begun looking at the nitty-gritties of it, I realise that it is actually quite complicated(WLAN configuration, Cygwin environments, scripting languages, event-driven programming…how the hell am I supposed to figure out all these things in 4 weeks?!)

What else… the people here have a strange academic schedule – they have exams in February and March, with the holidays in December and January soot of like an extended study break. For me, that basically means that everybody I know is too busy to spend much time with me, like going for tours and the like. So, now I have decided to go visiting Italy (at least the places close to Milan) by myself. Last Sunday, I went to Verona – the city where the Shakespearean play “Romeo and Juliet” is set. It was quite a nice place, with the old city small enough for me to explore walking all day. Apart from the inevitable medieval-time churches(and attached collections of frescoes and murals), I also visited ‘Casa di Giulietta’, the House of Juliet, which supposedly was the Capulet(Juliet’s family) residence, Castelvecchio, the old castle with a very well-maintained gallery.This Sunday I plan to go to Mantua, another city close to Milan which apparently has lots of interesting churches and the like(like every place of any note in Italy:).

Ok, now I recall that I haven’t told you much about the place where I am staying. Torrescalla is a student residence, with around 55 residents this year. While most of these live in rooms at the main centre – which you saw photographs of – some of them(like me) live in flats nearby. But all are provided the same facilities: computer and study rooms, breakfast and dinner at the centre, lunch as well on weekends. From time to time, special activities are organised for the students, such as talks by professionals, and trips to nearby places(like the one to Piani dei Resinelli that I posted photographs of). Since Milan has several prominent universities, students from all over Italy come to Milan for studies, and many live in student residences like this. Giovanni also stays here(which is how I landed my place here)- though he is no longer a student, and works in Turin, a city 2-3 hours away from Milan during the week.

There hasn’t been much activity regarding the MS applications I submitted. I had received a call from a professor at the University of Toronto, a member of the Admissions Committee. where he went through my application for an MSc in CS there – ‘So ‘Johnson’ is your middle name?….Do you have anything to say about the 53 in Electromagnetics and 57 in Electronics 1?’ and so on. I think it went quite well overall, since he ended up describing Toronto as a great alternative to the other places that I told him I had applied to.

Hmmmmm, I can’t think of other things to talk about Milan. Of news from India, I have been kept somewhat up-to-date about Danish, Madhav and Abhinav. What is everyone else up to? Why isn’t anyone posting blogs about their adventures in Delhi, even if they just be about the BTP/weather/Aricent training/mindless-gaping-at-the-PC?

By the way, since I am one of the editors of the college magazine (iNSITe) this year, I would like to request some articles from you guys. I have looked through the stuff that we have already and most of it is unusable (to put it nicely:) So, please feel free…er...obliged to write down your thoughts about Class-based reservation, the Re-Interpretation of Dreams, Sachin Tendulkar – time to put him in the Hall of Fame?(and out of the Indian Cricket team?), Inventions you would like to see made, Explanations for India’s obsession with Super-Power-dom, Comments on latest technology gadgets like the Jerry Han multi-touch screen(have you seen the video yet?), Arguments against/(for) copyright protection….and whatever else grabs your fancy. Please guys, I know you have things to say – how about helping me (and the average NSITian reader) out by noting down your ideas? Plus, I promise Swiss chocolates for all contributors :D

Anyway, I have to go now…remember: WRITE!