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...!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Hello world :)

Long time since I last wrote anything non-technical (well, you haven't seen them, otherwise you might have some complaints about my technical writings also :) Things have changed with my writing style maybe. Like, I can't be bothered to write complete sentences, have been thinking in these staccato clauses for some time now. Must be a hangover from all the Facebook and GTalk status msg updates that I have been making. Have to consciously make the effort to add the 'I's and 'you's. Hopefully people would be able to look past these flaws...
OK, so now I have to think about what to write about. Considering it's been an year (or more?) since my last blog-post, this is not an easy choice to make. Mmm. So I am France right now (hopefully that doesn't come as a surprise to anyone :), on internship at Xerox Research Centre in Europe (XRCE), in Grenoble. It's 11:30pm, and I should probably go to sleep early if I want to wake up refreshed and ready for work from 9 onwards. OK, who am I kidding - I am in all likelihood going to be up till 2, and sleepwalk my way around at office in the usual :) Can't help it - these are the perks that come from the supervisor being on holiday.
I don't know about everyone else, if you guys have managed to get any better idea of where your life is headed. Mine is still kinda up for grabs. I alternately switch between dreams of a life in research, and a career in something management-ish. The lack of passion for either is telling...or maybe I should call it equal passion for both ;) And the last year at Stanford hasn't helped much either way. I have alternately sucked (admittedly, earlier in the course) and excelled (when I was wise enough to work with project partners who were better than me :) at the technical courses here. And I did like the two management-ish courses I took. I am actually continuing working on one during the summer - one of my professors from (don't laugh) 'Business Management for Electrical Engineers and Computer Scientists' is coordinating a collaborative book on case studies in the emerging energy sector, along with other alums from the course.
So, besides the obvious reasons (it's in France for 12 weeks, they say you can't work more than 35 hours per week in the contract...grab on and don't let go idiot!) I like to think that I was being a bit proactive, and gauging whether I can handle research in a real industrial lab. Ok, as real as they get outside the US (for some reason, call it Protestant work ethic or what-have-you, the magnitude of research results from the US simply swamp the rest of the world...but you knew that already)
Among the other things I had planned to do this summer - complete a course in Statistics and Probability by myself, read a book on preparing for Case Interviews along with a Stanford friend in NY, practice and get better at swimming, travel all over Europe and so on. Of course, plans have changed a bit since I got over my initial naivete regarding my work here (it's a whole second course in Machine Learning, a course I majorly bombed in the first quarter..and I end up at work from 9 to 6:30 generally). And of course, have not all of you heard me(at least on GTalk :) crib about the money they are paying me ( = zilch). Well, Europe is a lot more expensive than the US, and the falling dollar isn't helping. Hehe, the prices for things here must sound astronomical for you ppl in India - like, a most ordinary meal cannot be had for less than 5 euros. Bye bye , travel plans. Ok, not nearly so...I am trying to convince myself that I am not going to get this chance again anytime soon, so I might as well get ready to blow up my savings from the States. Haven't planned anything major - but watch this space, travelogs from Paris and Amsterdam might be in the offing.And instead of swimming, I am going to try to pick up tennis instead. The other interns in the student residence where Xerox has put me up are making full use of the dozen or so tennis courts right outside our place. I am planning to buy a racquet and join them in whacking the ball, starting tomorrow.
And surprise of surprises, I am actually sort of liking the work at XRCE. Now that I have had some exposure to all the math involved in data mining algos etc at Stanford, things actually manage to make some sense some of the time :) I am finding it quite interesting to read up papers, tutorials etc on some obscure algo, and understand enough to implement a prototype, try an iterative approach over some data-sets, sit and discuss ideas with my supervisor, attend talks and seminars at the centre and so on. Sure beats software development anyway :) The pity is that any longterm career in research would involve getting a PhD, something I am not prepared to get into yet. Well, hopefully by the end of the internship I would have learned enough about research areas that pique me to keep me on track for a short-term job (2-3 years) in some company's data analysis division or somesuch after the Masters. And then..let's see, perhaps I would know enough then to decide...
Though, chief among the lessons I thought I'd have learned by now, I realize that it is ok to be uncertain about the future. Rather than doing all things possible to make the future secure (get an engineering degree, focus on safe careers like software engineering, ...the list goes on), I now know that it is important to seize the opportunities one gets today. Learn all you can, experience different things..while you can. Like a friend back at Stanford told me: Paise kamaane ke liye to poori zindagi baaki hai...
Ok, that's enough for now. I think I will try a stream-of-consciousness style next time. And maybe even get sentimental about the old days :D


Neat Rat said...

Ouch.. Reading this post on the lappy screen was quite a pain to the eyes (literally... maybe even figuratively). It has been about a minute now and the effect of all the white lines on the black screen is still persisting, I can still see golden lines hanging in mid-air no matter where I see. :D

Anyways, nice to see a post from you after so long, and nice to know that you are getting your ass kicked (& occasionally kicking ass) out there.

Waise, reading about you doing all those research-ish stuff sounds exciting, but sheeesh... is it really any fun from close-up??

Anyways, my France plans are all bunked, and so are my B'lore plans with Gaurav... darn!

When are coming to India waise?? And what about madhav? He has completely disappeared from the face of the earth or what??

And hey, your blog post title.. touche...!! :)

Neat Rat said...

and oye.. please use some line breaks between your paras.. My eyes are still hurting...!

life is like that only.... said...

Yea, it was nice to put things down on er...e-paper.
The research part is actually not too bad - my supervisor expects me to know a lot more, so I spend a lot of time just reading up etc. And things actually seem to make sense most of the time (usually after the 3rd reading :) Data Mining algorithms are hot stuff!

master9 said...

this is dhwaj. it was gud to know about ur intern at xrce. actually i reached ur blog while googling about xrce grenoble. I am also going there for a six month intern so I would appreciate if u could add me up in gtalk or gimme ur email id as I might need ur advice.

and haan... nice blog. :)