Thursday, November 15, 2012

Wikipedia article page views are a great indicator of the public's interest in a topic

It's high-time that Wikipedia page views trends are commercially harnessed. There's a lot of commercially-useful information hidden in these page views statistics, especially if one can also have access to the geographic locations from where these hits come. It's so interesting to see the spikes resulting from events or news stories about a topic [Superjet 100 in this case].






*****

09-May-2017

As in the case of Trump versus Hillary, in the recent French election too the winning candidate had higher Wikipedia page-views in the days before the election, strengthening my belief that this could serve as an important indicator for predicting who is going to win an election.


*****


Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Wikipedia's talk pages have a wealth of additional information not found in the main article!

This isn't very known. The talk pages of the most controversial Wikipedia articles usually have a wealth of additional information that hasn't yet made it to the main article [and some of it will likely never make it]. Types of information in talk pages includes facts for community consideration, opinions, concerns, claims, rants, unproven "facts", food for thought, requests for edits, and so on. If you're looking for a comprehensive, holistic picture on something, then you should definitely look at the talk page of an article.

For example, the article on the controversial Gaza flotilla massacre incident includes a lot of information in the main article body. However, if you visit the current talk page or any of the several archived versions [1, 2, 3, etc.], you'll realize that there's a wealth of additional information out there in these pages, and reading it can add much value to your overall impression.

Similarly, the article on United States war crimes gives you some picture, but it's the talk pages [current, archive 1, archive 2, etc.] that tell you the bigger, hidden story.

Half the world's problems will be solved if corporations and people aren't allowed to lie

Look at this beautiful advertisement of Qatar and Qatar Airways. Makes you feel like Qatar and Doha are beautiful places, isn't it? Indeed they are, except that Qatar is also a barbaric country that is accomplice [along with US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia] in the murder of thousands of innocent Syrian people. The ad doesn't tell this to you. Half-truth, in this case, is tantamount to a lie. The viewer is left with an impression that Qatar is awesome and beautiful, but no one educates the viewer about Qatar's ugly side.

This example can be extended to other corporations and countries. We are literally surrounded by advertisements and messages with praise about everything. South Koreans praise themselves, with no one telling the world that South Koreans eat live animals - an inhumane atrocity. Boeing praises itself all the time, but hides the dozens of design flaws discovered in its products. And so on.

The result? Most people do not make optimal choices, as they are largely unaware of the other side. To end this, we must outlaw half-truths and lies. Corporations must not be allowed to lie. Nor should they be allowed to present only handpicked facts. A fully-informed society will take much better decisions than a half-informed society.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Investigating a one-time, abrupt rise in the number of page views of Wikipedia article on S³ Asia MBA

I usually keep a watch on the number of page views of the Wikipedia article on S³ Asia MBA, in order to see how much interest the program attracts. The last time I checked it, there was a six-fold increase on 16-Oct-12 [screenshots below]. Why? I got curious. Was some news story published that I missed? Why this sudden increase in interest? The only plausible explanation I have found is that the release of FT's business school rankings around 15-Oct-12 led to a spike in the page views of the article on National University of Singapore, and this increase led to an increase in page views of the article on S³ Asia MBA [which is linked from the NUS article].


Friday, October 19, 2012

Apple and the arrogance of emails

Received an email from Apple today for an offer to apply for a position related to Supply Demand Management:

"...connecting with you with regards to a career opportunity with Apple for the one of the roles we have within Supply Demand Management..."

I received the email at 12:42 PM on 18-Oct-12, and the sender added the following sentence to her email:

"Look forward to hear from you by 19 Oct 12, 9am. Thanks!"

What the hell is this? She's giving me less than 24 hours to send:
  1. Updated CV.
  2. Cover letter [obviously not a generic one].
  3. A Word document with my "insights" on eight long questions asked by her [separate from cover letter].
Are you serious? You believe that I don't have any other work? Am I supposed to leave every other work on my schedule and devote all my time to her email? Arrogance at its finest.

I replied to her declining my interest in the offer.

Such a coincidence that I read a high-profile story today about Apple firing a legendary iPhone-hacker because he forgot to reply to an email offering him a job extension. Apple HR folks are mired in arrogance and clearly are disconnected to the mindset of hackers.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

MBA destroys the engineer in you

When one is an engineer, there is usually only one correct answer. The best answer. And it can be proven that that answer is correct, and the best. An engineer usually emphatically and vigorously puts forward his answer, his solution. Not so when you do MBA.

MBA teaches, rather forces, you to use vague, uncertain words and phrases such as "might be", "could be", "it is possible", "perhaps better", "likely to be", "uncertain business environment", "perhaps more important", "it depends", and other useless bullshit. Not only that, MBA forces you to use fancy concepts [the sandwich approach, for example] to put forward your thoughts or criticism or feedback. It also forces doublespeak and euphemisms deep down your throats ["your stupid mistakes" turns into "areas of improvement for you"] ["reduced profits" becomes "compressed profits"]. Finally, it makes you use crappy jargon such as "kickoff meeting", "leverage", "basis points", "opportunities", "synergies", "deep dive", and so on.

Frankly, MBA destroys the engineer in you. Or at least it tries. It's up to you to make sure that you only let in good stuff, and keep the bad stuff away from you.

That being said, and to be fair, it's important to remember that all of these fake words, fake tones, doublespeak, etc., that I've mentioned above are not only useful in the real world, but also necessary. It's important in real life, for example, to "manage all your stakeholders" and "to set expectations", so to say.

I have always been clear in my mind that I will not let my MBA make my language vague. I have always believed in and exercised straight talk and clear thoughts, and I will continue to do so [unless, of course, MBA-like language is absolutely necessary to get a particular work done]. I have used direct, un-MBA-like language in this post too :)

I am Rishabh Singla and I approve this message.

Rishabh Singla
MBA: National University of Singapore
MBA: Korea University Business School
B.E.: Delhi College of Engineering [University of Delhi]

Update [Nov'12]: I laughed when I read the press release of Monitor Group, clearly written by MBAs, stating that Monitor had "agreed to join forces with Deloitte". Wow. MBAs painted a fatal bankruptcy as joining forces.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Flightfox is ripping off its so-called "hackers"

Look at this contest. Flightfox's hackers gave the contest-owner seven highly-competitive flight options. Many hackers devoted many human hours to find, post and tweak these flight options. And the owner, after having looked at all the options he got, acted clever - he got his money refunded saying "The results weren't impressive.".


Not only should such losers be banned from Flightfox, but the website itself should have a policy whereby such greedy contest-owners are not given their money back. Otherwise, Flightfox itself is a ripoff.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Proof that Western media deliberately did not report pro-Assad events

The screenshots below show how even 18 hours after the pro-Assad protests in Frankfurt [Germany], no Western news website [ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, Fox, FT, NBC, NYT, WSJ, etc.] reported it. The only websites which reported this were Tehran Times, Press TV and RT.

Is this a coincidence? Statistically, such a coincidence is impossible. I think there's much more going on here than meets the eye.






Saturday, September 08, 2012

Is IndiGo airline leaving money on the table?

I must admit, IndiGo's international fares are simply amazing. The two screenshots below show how the competition just doesn't stand anywhere in comparison to IndoGo. However, the large difference in ticket prices also raises a question - is IndiGo airline leaving revenue and profit on the table? Can it increase its revenue and profit by narrowing [slightly] the price gap with the next best fare available [so much so that its sales aren't hurt significantly, if at all]?


Saturday, August 25, 2012

An advantage university-based business schools have over standalone business schools

This is something I've realized now at NUS Business School. NUS Business School is based in the heart of NUS. NUS itself is a sprawling university with centers and schools for science, law, arts, social science, computing, engineering, mathematics, design, medicine, dentistry, public policy, music, and others.

NUS also has full-fledged arms that cultivate, facilitate and promote entrepreneurship and technology commercialization - NUS Enterprise, along with NUS Entrepreneurship Centre (NEC) and NUS Industry Liaison Office (ILO) - as well as full-fledged and well-endowed research wings.


One of the electives this semester is Technopreneurship, and an optional add-on to that is the Frugal Innovation Lab. The latter, in particular, is about creating a working prototype of an innovative product or service, along with a comprehensive business plan to commercialize it. The teams in this Lab are all cross-discipline, with individuals from engineering, science, business and entrepreneurship blended together and made to work like a startup, complete with funding. Need information about IP protection or patents? Find someone related to law. Need advice on human anatomy? Head to medicine. Materials? You have it.

That's where I realized the potential and power of a business school that's inside a university. You have experts and students from all disciplines right next to you, and forming cross-faculty teams is effortless. Business schools in universities such as NUS, NTU or IITs have this unique advantage that standalone schools don't necessarily have. It's about fully utilizing these resources.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cheapest way to call Singapore, from anywhere!

Mobile phone service is quite expensive in Singapore. All three mobile operators - SingTel, StarHub and M1 - offer prepaid plans and rates that are identical for all practical purposes. The following table from SingTel's website is almost identical to corresponding tables from StarHub and M1.


However, there's a clever way to make ultra-cheap calls to landline and mobile phones in Singapore - and it's Skype! Look at the table below. Only ~1 USD for s.i.x.t.y m.i.n.u.t.e.s of calls [at current exchange rates, calls made using Skype cost one-seventh of the mobile phone rate at peak hours, and if you go for the 400 minutes subscription, this difference becomes over one-tenth]. This is literally dirt cheap. Unlimited Singapore is only ~7 USD per month! For people who make a lot of outgoing calls, this is a steal!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Should we punish the actual perpetrator of the crime, or the seller of the means which was used?

A quick answer to this question is that we should punish the actual perpetrator - the criminal. I strongly disagree with the recent rulings in America that pronounced as guilty Megaupload and its founder Kim Dotcom. While there is no doubt that Megaupload [and similar websites such as RapidShare] was misused by some/many of its users to illegally acquire/spread copyrighted content, that misuse by its users doesn't and cannot make Megaupload the perpetrator.

Should firearms/guns be banned in America because some people misuse them? Should knives be banned because they are/were used to commit murders? Should we ban Google because it helps people to commit plagiarism? Should liquor be banned because it's the cause of so many accidents and conflicts? Should we ban the Internet because people use it to illegally acquire/spread copyrighted content? Should bikinis and miniskirts be banned because they can lead to rapes? Should DVRs be banned because people use them to store copyrighted content and to skip adverts? Should aerospace engineering be banned because it's used to design missiles?

Why are we punishing the products, the tools, the means, and not the actual criminals? Why doesn't the American government identify and beat the hell out of the people who uploaded/downloaded the content?

Related news:

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Some amazing statistics about Singapore's GDP

All figures for area, GDP and population ["facts"] are from Wolfram Alpha, as on 14-Aug-12. The analysis and calculations are mine.
  • Area of Singapore= 697 square km [can be thought of as a square with side 26.4 km]
  • Area of India= 3,287,000 square km [can be thought of as a square with side 1813 km]
  • Real GDP of Singapore= USD 184.6 billion in 2009 [price adjusted to 2008 USD]
  • Real GDP of India= USD 1,379 billion in 2009 [price adjusted to 2008 USD]
  • Real GDP per square km for Singapore= USD 264.85 million
  • Real GDP per square km for India= USD 419,531
  • Number of times India is larger than Singapore [area]= 4,716
  • Number of times India is larger than Singapore [real GDP]= 7.5
  • Interpretation #1: India is 4716 times larger than Singapore [geographical area], but India's real GDP is only 7.5 times larger. Amazing land utilization in Singapore!
  • Ratio of real GDP per square km of Singapore to that of India= 631
  • Interpretation #2: Singapore produces six-hundred-thirty-one times the GDP for every square km as does India!
  • Caveats: We must remember that there are some inherently non-productive land areas in India, such as barren deserts, mountains, etc., and also that Singapore's population density is 17.2 times that of India. We should divide the 631 we had got by 17.2 to get 36.7, a more practical estimate of relative land utilization obtained by normalizing population density.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Laughable double-standards of America

Excerpts from a recent story in the Los Angeles Times:

"Hillary Rodham Clinton warns outsiders against sending in terrorist fighters."

"On a visit to South Africa, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was also warning about terrorist infiltration of Syria and interference by outsiders."

"Those who are attempting to exploit the misery of the Syrian people, whether by sending in proxies or sending in terrorist fighters, must recognize that that will not be tolerated,"

"The United States has publicly assailed what it calls Tehran's "destructive behavior" in Syria."

All of these statements make me laugh. America and Hillary Clinton are corrupt beyond what words can describe. They both have the shamelessness to arrogantly warn others about outside interference. It's just laughable.

UPDATE (18-Aug-12): I'm laughing at the statements given by USA regarding Britain's (not Great Britain's) open threats to raid the embassy of Ecuador in London.

The proposal was adopted despite the US saying OAS has nothing to do with the issue.

Good!

The US State Department stated earlier on Friday that the OAS has “no role” to play in a “bilateral issue between Ecuador and the United Kingdom.” Not party to the 1954 OAS Convention on Diplomatic Asylum, the United States“does not recognize the concept of diplomatic asylum as a matter of international law,” the statement read.

America, how about having the same stance on other countries' internal [Syria, etc.] or bilateral issues [Iran-Israel; North Korea-South Korea; China-Philippines; India-Pakistan]? How about having the same stance on diplomatic asylum in your embassy in China?

Overall I'm happy that Britain is getting defamation and hard slaps from all over the world. It'll finally wake up from the dream it is in and realize that in today's world, it's no more significant.

UPDATE (18-Aug-12): There's this interesting story on RT in which a very valid point is raised - where is America's condemnation of the sentencing of a prominent human-rights activist in Bahrain?

We urge Russian authorities to review this case and ensure that the right to freedom of expression is upheld,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.

Don DeBar, a New York-based activist and journalist, believes America’s negative reaction to the Pussy Riot verdict, but a lack of attention towards the human rights situation in Bahrain is indicative of its double standards.

So what’s happening is that the United States, for some reason that will become apparent later, is stirring this up to make Russia look as if it were a repressive, lawless state while the United States, which has more incarcerated people than the next three countries on the planet, and that’s only in absolute terms; in relative terms – more than any other country on the planet. The United States has all these people in jail and is going to lecture countries about how their legal process should work. I think it has no credibility around the world, and I think it’s shameful.

Where are you America?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Idea Cellular divorced me...

My DCE-days cellular number - 9891681609 - I've lost it. When I returned from South Korea a few weeks back, I was no longer the owner of my own prepaid mobile number. Idea told me yesterday that they had sold my "lifetime" mobile number to some Krishna Sharma while I was in Seoul, without asking or telling me. Not even an email came to my registered email address. Idea folks tell me that there's no way that I can get back my number now. In fact, they tell me that it isn't even my number now. I've been using this number for 6-7 years now. At an average rate of ~20 rupees per day [600 a month], I've paid them in excess of INR 50,000 over the last 7 years. Yes, INR fifty thousand in balance recharges. Maybe even more, since I've extensively used my phone for all types of services - voice, SMS, Internet access and roaming. And Idea didn't give any value to this years-old relationship. All my friends, relatives, business relations and institutions [banks, insurance companies, past employer, etc.] have my this number registered in their records. Now I'll have to change my registered mobile number in all of these records.

This "lifetime" relationship didn't last a lifetime. It's sad, but as always, life is about moving on.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Comparing a suicide bomber to a cruise missile [UPDATED]

This thought came to my mind yesterday, when my family was having some discussions about a news story, while we were watching TV.

What is a suicide bomber like? He's like a very, very intelligent cruise missile. A cruise missile cruises its way to its target. It can be steered during its course, and it explodes and damages/destroys its target when it finally reaches it.

If we forget for a while that a suicide bomber is a human whereas a cruise missile is a machine, a suicide bomber can be thought of as a cruise missile that happens to also have all the nice qualities of a human - intelligence, locomotion, dexterity, etc. A cruise missile might be able to carry higher and deadlier payload [and faster too], but contemporary cruise missiles can't beat the intelligence of a human suicide bomber. The bomber can look around at the situation and can continuously adjust his approach depending upon changing circumstances - his path, his gestures, his timing, etc. - in order to ensure a successful kill. A modern cruise missile cannot do this.

Yet, fundamentally the method and purpose of both weapons remains the same - rapidly travel to the target while evading detection, and damage/destroy the target in a suicidal way.

UPDATE [10-Nov-15]: Armed drones carrying cruise missiles can also be roughly thought of as a type of cruise missile, since both follow a "cruising" path, or more correctly, a path that can be dynamically adjusted in real-time. On the other hand, while missile-laden drones provide photographic and other data, cruise missiles don't [or could cruise missiles be armed with high-speed cameras to provide photos/videos of the path that the missile traverses?].

Monday, June 11, 2012

Evidence of media bias at The New York Times

This post is supposed to be a "living post" that'll be updated as I come across more biased NYT stories. PDF versions of all stories mentioned here can be found in this SkyDrive folder.

Syrian Forces Shell Cities as Opposition Picks Leader, NYT, 10-Jun-12 [link]

Why biased? NYT is careful about what it presents as a fact [versus a claim]. If the US claims [even if without any proof] that Assad killed Syrian people, NYT typically writes something like "Syrian Government Shells Civilians", thus presenting the unproven claim by US as a fact. But if something is said by Assad or by Russia's Sergey Lavrov, NYT typically writes something like "Syrian Government Denies Responsibility For Massacre" [instead of "Syrian Government Not Responsible For Massacre"], thus presenting Assad's or Lavrov's claims as claims. But in the story linked above, the NYT presented as fact something that was simply a claim by "opponents of the government" [we don't even know who these opponents exactly are]. Why did NYT present the alleged shelling claimed by opponents with unclear identity as a fact in the title, when Syria's or Russia's statements are never presented as facts, either in the titles or in the body of the news?

Update [25-Jun-15]: Documents on 2012 Drone Strike Detail How Terrorists Are Targeted, NYT, Jun'15 [link]

Why biased? NYT has used the authoritative term Terrorists in the title of this news story, whereas it is well-established that the targeted folks are suspects. This is how the NYT secretly brainwashes its readers.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Were Live Tiles in Windows Phone inspired by iOS? Could Android combine iOS icons with Live Tiles?

First - looking at the icon of the Calendar application in iOS [which shows the current date in the icon itself], it's possible that the designers of Live Tiles [images below] at Microsoft were inspired by the live icon of the Calendar app in iOS. Perhaps they thought of making every icon live, and then they realized that they could just do away with the icons and make sort of "boxes" or zones that are live.

Current date seen in icon of Calendar app on iOS

Live Tiles in Windows Phone

Second - looking at the photo of Android 4.0 running on Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, it seems that Google is trying to combine the traditional method of using icons, with the Windows Phone method of using Live Tiles. Both icons and Live Tiles can be seen.

Android 4.0 on Samsung Galaxy Tab 2

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Pro-America bias in titles of some articles of English language Wikipedia

I'm giving the example of Comair only to show the pro-USA bias that's present in titles of some Wikipedia articles.

Comair stands for two unrelated airlines - one that was founded in South Africa in 1943, and the other which was founded in the US in 1977. Since the brand name of these two airlines is identical, a natural way to give distinct titles to the respective articles for these two airlines would be:
  • Comair (South Africa)
  • Comair (USA)
However, as show in the screenshot below, the titles are Comair and Comair (South Africa). Is the former more of Comair than the latter? Why is the country moniker attached only to the South African airline? Is it inferior to the American Comair? This is just one example [out of hundreds] of even Wikipedia assuming American companies, American names, American people, American products, American researchers, etc., as the standard, and those from rest of the world requiring special clarifications or disclaimers.

WHEN WILL THE KILLER DRONE STRIKES STOP??!!

My blood boils whenever I read about America's drones killing suspected militants [and also civilians] in Pakistan and elsewhere [Yemen, etc.]. What kind of ethics or laws allow someone to fire missiles at suspected militants? How does America define suspected militants? How does it unilaterally conclude that its information is credible and sufficient enough to warrant killing someone who they call a suspected militant? Why does America show a blind and deaf attitude towards the civilian "casualties" [I prefer to call it murders] that are frequently reported because of these drone strikes? Who in the world will punish the US for these heinous murders? When will US apologize for the murder of 24 Pakistani soldiers? For the murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent people of Japan, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, and the people on Iran Air Flight 655? What right does US have to conduct military operations on other nations' soil? What will America's reaction be if Iran killed suspected militants present in the US?

Some snippets that don't touch even the tip of the iceberg [archived copies of these and other related stories on SkyDrive]:

"Residents and local officials said the strike damaged a nearby mosque where three worshippers believed to be Central Asians were fatally wounded. "They were seriously wounded and died later in the hospital," a security official said." - AFP, May'12

"Pakistani-US relations went into free fall last year, starting when a CIA contractor shot dead two Pakistanis, then over the American raid that killed bin Laden on May 2 and lastly over US air strikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November." - AFP, May'12

"According to an AFP tally, 45 US missile strikes were reported in Pakistan's tribal belt in 2009, the year Obama took office, 101 in 2010 and 64 in 2011." - AFP, May'12

"The New America Foundation think-tank in Washington says drone strikes have killed between 1,715 and 2,680 people in Pakistan in the past eight years." - AFP, May'12

"An American drone fired two missiles at a bakery in northwest Pakistan Saturday and killed four suspected militants, officials said, as the U.S. pushed on with its drone campaign despite Pakistani demands to stop. This was the third such strike in the country in less than a week... The officials said the victims were buying goods from a bakery when the missiles hit... The U.S. rarely talks publicly about the covert CIA-run drone program in Pakistan... On Thursday, a suspected U.S. drone killed 10 alleged militants in northwest Pakistan near the Afghan border... On Wednesday four suspected militants were killed in the village of Datta Khel Kalai in North Waziristan." - AP, May'12

Will this dronecaust ever stop? Is there any regard for life left in America?

Update [31-May-12]: Well, it appears that the timing of my anger was quite right. The NYT has published an article that has an outrageous revelation, that the President of the US personally signs off on every target in the kill list. What makes him different from the people he kills?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Free download Microsoft Mathematics 4.0 (formerly Microsoft Math)

It's generous of Microsoft to have released the excellent Mathematics 4.0 software for free. It's a commendable contribution to students and also the broader education/mathematics/scientific community. I downloaded the software as well as all the associated documents [PDFs, etc.] yesterday, and I thought, why not make the entire package I downloaded available to everyone, sparing them the effort to download each file individually :).

You can download the entire package from this SkyDrive link. The screenshot below shows the contents of the archive:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The crash of a Sukhoi Superjet 100 in Indonesia has given a big visibility boost to Russian civil aircraft

I tweeted about the visibility boost to the Superjet 100 a few weeks back. It turns out that even other Russian/Ukrainian civil airliners have got a big, temporary visibility boost. The following screenshots show the number of views that Wikipedia articles of four Russian [or Ukrainian] civil aircraft got in last 30 days [Antonov An-148, Irkut MS-21, Tupolev Tu-204, Tupolev Tu-334].




Engineering versus MBA - is one more important than the other?

The term engineering refers to any type of core job skills. This could include even fashion design skills for a designer, or cooking skills for a chef. By MBA, I mean all non-core job skills.

Is one of these more important than the other? It's a question that people have strong opinions about. I'm both an engineer and an MBA, so I probably have a broader perspective to answer this question compared to folks who are only one of these. However, I might ruffle MBA feathers by claiming that technical skills are more important [and vice versa].

So I'll provide an example: think of a house being constructed. Compare its construction materials, its foundation, and its structural design to engineering, and its interior design, its luxuries, and its paintings, etc., to MBA. A house with only engineering won't attract too many buyers, because they won't like the modest design, the uninspired feel, etc. A house with only MBA will quickly attract many buyers, unaware that the house is flimsy and even dangerous. However, over time these buyers will realize that this nice piece of design is nothing more than a house of cards, and these buyers will flock to the former house.

Speaking more generally, it's important for individuals in each camp to respect those in the other. Pure MBAs should understand and respect that they don't know what the engineers know, and pure engineers should similarly appreciate the knowledge and skills that MBAs have.

Following are some interesting articles/posts about engineering vs. MBA. Note that there is no bias in choosing these three links because these were randomly chosen from Google results without ex-ante knowledge of their contents:
  1. MBA vs Engineering, Aug'06

Monday, May 14, 2012

Summarizing the issues faced by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) today

The Indian Institutes of Management, or IIMs, are as prestigious institutions as something can be. However, Indians know and understand that there are some serious weaknesses in these institutes [compared to elite business schools elsewhere]. The following screenshots almost perfectly summarize the key issues faced by IIMs today:



Over-emphasis on CAT/GMAT, lower share of female students, non-existent international student share, and significantly lower average work experience. As an Indian, I know more than what the above charts tell - that most of the students at IIMs are engineers [not so in top business schools elsewhere], and that many students at IIMs are fresh out of college, with zero work experience!

As much as I would like to see these great institutes of my country turn into global business schools, I, myself an MBA student, know and understand well that unless these shortcomings are solved, the IIMs stand no chance of challenging elite Western business schools.

Friday, May 04, 2012

How I'm going to study the subject Management Information Systems (MIS) during my MBA

I'm a graduate in Computer Science & Engineering, and one of my several interests is in technology [computer science, consumer electronics, software, etc.]. I've read and used both computer science and information systems for many years now, and now that the MIS course has just started, I've to decide how to most efficiently utilize my time [considering that I already know almost everything being taught in the class].

One way to do this is to read the right books. The officially recommended books are:
  1. Management Information Systems - Managing the Digital Firm [Kenneth C. Laudon] [Primary reading]
  2. Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization's Toughest Challenges [Andrew McAfee] [Supplementary reading]
I've looked at the first book and it seems that it isn't going to be useful to me. So I've decided to read the second book [by Andrew McAfee] along with a seminal book - Business @ the Speed of Thought : Using a Digital Nervous System [Bill Gates]. I think that these two books alone, especially the latter, will teach MIS [its importance, its potential and its applications] far better than any standard textbook could. I'm confident that I'm making the right decision by not reading the recommended textbook and instead focusing o these two books.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Thank you for a wonderful decade, Windows XP

It was around this time ten years ago that I first bought a [pirated] Windows XP Professional disk [I was only 15 then] for INR 150 [about USD 3], and installed it on my first computer. I vividly remember the day when I was installing the shiny new OS. It was a warm evening and the OS was [slowly] getting installed on my computer which had only 64 MB of RAM [and a Celeron 733 MHz processor, along with a 10 GB hard disk]. I remember that my sister was calling me to eat something, and when I finally went down, I had told her that Windows XP was getting installed on the computer and that this was a very exciting and important thing.

I remember that Windows XP wasn't a beast back then. It occupied much less than 1 GB of disk space back then [it runs into several GBs today], ran swiftly [although the 64 MB RAM was a bottleneck] and brought cool colors to Windows for the first time. It is the first friendly Windows OS ever.

Thank you for a great decade, Windows XP :). I still use and love this OS. If not for Microsoft's policy of ending security updates, I [and many others] would love using Windows XP for many more years.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Spending on food versus spending on missiles... why it is important to spend on both

I've asked myself for a few years if India should really be spending money on missiles, space programs, etc., when hundreds of millions in my country are malnourished and poor. I hadn't arrived at an answer till today, because the thought that India should first curb poverty and only then move to "discretionary" expenditures such as missiles and space launches had continued to make me think.

India successfully tested the Agni-V ICBM today, and further strengthened its strategic deterrence capability. I was reading the news about this launch on The Washington Post, and came across this comment by a reader:

"gratz on being another country with ability to vapourize millions at the push of a button while millions in your own Country bathe in open sewers and eat rat on a stick as a special treat."

I asked myself, is this person right? Should we be feeding our people instead of developing missiles? Then the fate of the countries which didn't have strong military defense/strike capabilities [but, of course, did have some type of lucrative wealth - oil or otherwise] struck me. These nations - Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya - have been destroyed, humiliated and eaten up by the insatiable greed of the West. Their resources have been robbed, their infrastructure has been burnt to ashes, their women have been raped, and their men blown to dust by unending showers of bombs and missiles [official figures from the US say that 7,700 bombs were dropped on Libya to, laughably, "protect the civilians"]. Why? Because all of these countries have wealth but didn't have enough military capability to protect their wealth from murderers, robbers, scoundrels and thieves.

Two dead Iraqi children lie together shortly before a funeral ceremony in Ramadi, Iraq, west of Baghdad, Wednesday, May 19, 2004. A U.S. helicopter fired on a wedding party in the remote desert near the border with Syria, killing more than 40 people, most of them women and children, Iraqi officials said. The U.S. military said it was investigating. (Source: Cryptome)

Case in point is North Korea. Why doesn't the West militarily strike North Korea, the way it is planning to bomb Iran and Syria? It's because of the single reason that the North possesses enough deterrence in the form of nuclear weapons. North Koreans might be poor, but at least they're alive and safe in their homes!

I would rather see Indians alive and bathing in open sewers, than see them killed and blown to pieces by American missiles. And so India must spend on both food and missiles, or else it too shall be a victim of the West's greed one day. That's the answer I've got today :)

Update [May'12]: Just found a funny, related cartoon.


Update [Jan'16]: North Korea rightfully justified its development and testing of miniature hydrogen bombs [thermonuclear bombs] by citing the fate of Iraq [and Saddam Hussein] and Libya [and Muammar Gaddafi]. It'll suffer a similar fate if it doesn't continue developing ultra-powerful weapons.

Update [Apr'17]: North Korea is absolutely right. If it didn't have/develop nuclear weapons, America would bomb it just like that, the way it has recently fires missiles at Syria.

Update [Aug'17]:

TRUMP INTEL CHIEF: NORTH KOREA LEARNED FROM LIBYA WAR TO “NEVER” GIVE UP NUKES [link]

ASPEN SECURITY FORUM 2017 AT THE HELM OF THE INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY [link]

North Korea Suggests Libya Should Have Kept Nuclear Program [link]

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Frequently, Wikipedia turns out to be less readable and enjoyable than regular encyclopedias

For example, I enjoyed reading about eminent domain on Britannica more than I enjoyed reading about it on Wikipedia. Not only is the text usually written more coherently and logically on Britannica, the ability to easily increase the font size improves readability. The articles are usually shorter, which make them more readable than Wikipedia's long and "cobbled together" articles.