Sunday, September 29, 2013

उतू नको मातू नको घेतला वसा टाकू नको

One of the poems I liked. I don't know the name of the poet of this poem, please let me know if you do. I searched all over the web, did not find the name of the poet.

एक मंत्र मनात धर चिलखताची छाती कर,
धुंद निधड्या अश्वासारखं एक वादळ श्वासात भर.

समशेर निस्फृह कर्तव्याची मुठीमध्ये तळपत ठेव,
एक ज्योत दिव्यत्वाची मनामध्ये तेवत ठेव.

असणार उन असणार पाऊस रस्ता कदाचित खडतर असेल,
पाऊल फसेल कधी नशीब रुसेल जग पण कधी तुला हसेल.

भिऊ नको हटू नको ध्येयापासून ढळू नको,
उतू नको मातू नको घेतला वसा टाकू नको.

अथांग हो नभासारखा धृवासारखा रहा अचल,
मार टाच शुरासारखा जेता होऊन पुढे चल.

पिसे होऊदेत रंगीत सुंदर पंखात विजेचे येउदे बळ,
डोळ्यात तीक्ष्ण भेदक सूर्य काळजात दयेची राहू दे कळ.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Innovation of Innovation

Question 1: What would you do if you are made the prime minister of India for 2 mins?
Answer 1: I will prepare Maggie noodles. :-)
Question 2: What would you do if you are made the prime minister of India for 10 mins?
Answer 2: Wow, now I can make Maggie noodles for me & 4 other friends and enjoy some good time together..
Question 3: What would you do if you are made the prime minister of India for 5 years?
Answer 3: I am sorry, first answer this: who will eat that much Maggie noodles?

Jokes apart, I just wanted to set the stage for the topic at hand.. How do we prick innovation? How do we ensure that what we produce is innovative? How do we bring it out in the open from the abyss of our subconcious intelligence?
Do we need to be:
1. Unit driven - mins, years?
2. Team driven - 5 friends?
3. Idea driven - Maggie?
4. Size driven - Small to Large (2 min to 5 years)?
5. Role driven - Prime Minister?
6. Goal driven - To eat something?
7. Resources driven - time, money, utensils, plates, bowls?

In my opinion, it has to be a combination of all of these.. However, whenever I attended any innovation related talks, people talk about generating ideas (the more the better) and seeing how much each idea is worth in terms of "savings" or "dollar value" or "time saving" or "efficiency improvement"... and then rewarding the person who submitted the idea which has the highest dollar tag. Yes, this may be innovation, but how many people innovate using that approach? I think the first thing that stalls innovation is the inherent assumption that it has to save money, or provide tangible financial or time benefit. Was iPhone built to save money, or time or provide a tangible financial benefit to someone?

Coming to the point, I think we need to change the approach of how we expect the innovation to happen.. how about just giving people freedom to innovate whatever they want without putting the constraints of tangible "savings" or "financial or time benefit". Of course they should innovate on a particular problem at hand, and not wander away from the goal that it has to provide "some" "unprecendented" way of doing "something" differently towards the goal of either solving the problem or dampening it. Lets not even define the "problem". Let them solve whichever problem they want (related to work of course, I think we already innovate a lot in our personal lives :-) )
1. Unit - mins, years? Freedom to use any unit..
2. Team - 5 friends? Freedom to team up with others or set out alone..
3. Idea - Maggie? Freedom to submit any idea related to work..
4. Size - Small to Large (2 min to 5 years)? Freedom to not constrain the idea within set size limits..but usually start small and then grow big..
5. Role - Prime Minister? Freedom to assume you have all powers..
6. Goal - To eat something? No definite goal.. solution of any problem through innovation is the only goal..
7. Resources - time, money, utensils, plates, bowls? Freedom to assume that all resources are available..
Something like this may foster innovation...

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Measuring and rewarding innovation

An old quote by someone that I do not fully agree with: "Necessity is the mother of invention". Instead, I think "Necessity is the mother of innovation", and "Timepass is the mother of invention". Newton did not have a “necessity” to know why the apple fell down, he was just doing timepass sitting beneath an apple tree. I wonder why he did not think about gravitation while attending the nature’s call (:-) sorry for a gross reference, but I think Newton must have sat in the bathroom more often than beneath an apple tree).

Inventions happen because people are curious to know about something.. Innovations happen because people are curious to solve some definite problem.. that is just my take..

Anyway, whatever your definition of innovation may be...

the question that I am thinking about right now is: How should an innovator be awarded? Here are my few ideas about it:

Rewarding Innovation
1. Intrinsic reward: As I mentioned, an innovator innovates out of necessity of solving a specific problem at hand... and the solution of that problem itself is an intrinsic reward available to the innovator.
2. Extrinsic rewards: An innovation benefits a lot of people at large.. and an innovator should be able to capitablize on the use of his/her innovation by other people. So, the innovation should be measured on multiple parameters and the best one should be rewarded in terms of:
            a. Annual Appraisal Goal Fulfilment: A goal should be set on everybody's goalsheet for the FY 2013 and employees should be given goal fulfilment scores based on their innovations
            b. Cash rewards:
            c. Promotion:
            d. Title, and Power: A person with great innovations should be given the title of Innovation Shaktimaan, and given responsibility and powers to direct some fixed funds annually towards making some of the innovations possible.

These are just few ideas, your innovative comments and suggestions are most welcome.

Measuring Innovation
But how do we judge the usability or popularity or utility of a particular innovation.. should we put a dollar value on it? should we measure its popularity quotient? or should we have a set of 4 or 5 different parameters on which people should be able to vote for that innovation?
In my opinion, we should list down all the innovations and give them grades on different parameters like
a. utility (how frequently will I use this innovation daily, weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, annually),
b. popularity (how much do I like this innovation Very high, high, medium, low, very low) etc.
c. respect (how much respect do you have for this innovation for its creativity, is the innovator a Steve jobs, or just an average Steve) - very high, high, medium, low, very low.

All these parameters should be averaged, and there should be an aggregate score given to the innovation based on which the innovation's potential should be guaged.

These are just few ideas, your innovative comments and suggestions are most welcome.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Three years before next election...

At this time, we have a genuine need to identify, nurture & rally behind honest leaders(i hope we find at least one in current MPs) who are capable enough to take care of people's benefits.. the real need is to find and pose honest, capable & credible candidates as an alternative to the ones we don't want to get elected in next elections.. the best thing to do at this point will be to make a list of all the constituencies and find the candidates from there, who is corrupt and who is bias for any party, any constituency, any ancestral lineage, any surname, any caste, any religion, any color.. and then ratify those findings with credible evidence in order to let people know actually who can be a candidate to vote.. most of the times people do not exactly know the character, ability and credibility of the candidates.. the focus for next three years should be on whom to vote along with whom to not vote.. for each candidate who contests the election, there should be a "corruption meter" which should tell the reading of how corrupt that candidate is, at least we will be able find the least corrupt ones if not completely honest.. when they file nominations, the part of nomination application should be

"how many cases are registered/pending/ongoing against the candidate",
"how much is the value of corruption being investigated against that candidate",
"how cooperative is he/she with the judiciary",
"what is his/her capability to understand the large scale impact of his corruption",
"how many times did he/she attend the parliament when he was in power earlier"
"how many times was he/she found taking a nap during parliament proceedings"
"how many issues of public interest has he/she put in front of the parliament"
"how many rational arguments has he/she made in front of the house"
"how many bank accounts does he/she have, including foreign bank accounts"
etc. etc.

all this should be on a scale of 1 to 10 so that it would be easier to compare two candidates, who gets 9.9 in corruption and who gets 9.8.. and who gets 1.2. A candidate with 1.2 in corruption may be better than the one with 9.9.. Educated voters need such meters to understand who can be a better alternative to the incumbent, otherwise there is no other way of knowing the real worth of my vote..each individual who is against corruption should try to at least find out who are all the choices in front of him/her. Forget about any specific party, just vote the candidate who you think is honest, no matter his party comes to power at center or not... Even a single honest MP can change the whole parliament if he gets elected, and gets to attend the parliament.. I think we worry a lot about party politics and forget that those who are not in ruling party can actually do a better job at ensuring zero corruption by keeping those in power in check.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Some thoughts about addressing the menace of corruption

I guess everybody agrees that a law against murder saves so many lives daily. We all understand the importance of having just laws. It does not matter what we call the law or whether it is brand new law or an old law with more amendments. The focus should be on strengthening it and not on questioning the necessity of the law itself. Drafting such a law may even involve abolishing earlier one or merging it with the new one.

There are bad people on both sides of the argument. One thing to note however is that the laws are meant to be "used" by those who are victims of corruption, mostly honest men on both sides. Hopefully, I am making sense. :-)

Even though there may be 5 honest officers (HO) in passport office, one needs to understand there are at least 5 more that are dishonest (DO). Same applies to common men as well. Suppose, an honest common man (HC) and a dishonest common man (DC) both apply for passport.

Lets analyse each combination:
HC goes to HO: HC does not offer bribe, neither does HO ask for it. No issues at all. In fact, HOs should be rewarded for upholding their integrity. Despite having the power he does not try take undue personal advantage of that power, it is quite commendable.

DC goes to DO: DC offered an INR 500 bribe and got his job done. If he knew about the presence an HO in the same department, he would have chosen HO for his work (given he had such a choice). DO just gobbles up those INR 500, smiles and stamps on the passport for dispatch to DC. Such a corruption never comes to light because neither DC nor DO wants to showcase their dishonesty. In such case, the only alternative to know that the corruption took place would be to keep a tab on transactions taking place out of both DC and DO's bank accounts. Considering, we have such a large population; it is not possible to keep a tab on each and every person's bank account. However, since the number of bureaucrats is less in comparison, it is easy to monitor their bank accounts and see if they inflate inordinately. Given that such transactions almost always happen in cash, even banks may not be able to help identify such corruption. If such money goes out of the country to Swiss banks, then there is a bigger danger to the country's well being due to such corruption.

HC goes to DO: HC is not happy because DO is asking for bribe. What should HC do now? HC can't even wait because he wants his passport as soon as possible (for any personal reason it may be). He can file a complaint against DO, but what will happen under current laws? Some Kaka, Mama, Dada or even Anna of that DO is in politics at a high post. As is clear from current laws, MPs & MLAs are sacred, nobody can touch them. What will HC do then? Just wait for the passport forever? DO in the meantime gets arrogant and threatens HC to go to hell, he will never get a passport. HC gets depressed and goes home regretting - why did he complain. Next time, whatever the job is, if DO at the other end asks for bribe, HC does not dare to complain and meekly shells out money from his pocket. Now, do you call this HC a criminal? Technically, yes. But fundamentally, No. If the law does not guarantee him any fairness, he is bound to feel left out. HC will keep that in mind and accept that "bribe is part of life", unless something drastic happens and a clean man like Anna gathers public support around him and challenges the "right" of MP or MLA to support corrupt people.

DC goes to HO: In this case, HO denies bribe, and does the job in stipulated time. So, DC is happy. However, if DC is not taught a lesson about social responsibility, he will keep spreading his corrupt practices all over. Especially, if there is a conflict of interest or competition between a DC and a HC, DC might be able to arm-twist the HO into accepting bribe by influencing him through a corrupt MLA above HO. What should HO do in this case? HO can't keep getting transferred all over the country just because he denied accepting INR 500 bribe. He has his family, kids who are attending school etc. etc. So, he will have to accept bribe under pressure from corrupt MLA. It takes only one corrupt MLA/MP like Lalu to cause trouble in the whole parliament, especially if the power equation depends on his party's support (in other words "blackmail"). So, to stop the problem at the root, such a DC & MP/MLA who comes in support of such DC should be punished. I think the current Jan Lokpal Bill does not address this yet, but I am 100% sure that Standing Committee, PAC, NAC and MPs will think about it and include sufficient provision to punish that dishonest common man (which should also include punishing MP/MLA who comes in support of such DC).

Of course, the problem can't be explained in above 4 paragraphs only. We should go deep beyond that to address minute process aberrations. However, the point of my comment/note is that such a holistic, empirical and methodical problem solving approach needs to be undertaken rather than squarely putting the blame on either politicians or common man only. Study of corruption cuts across multiple disciplines viz. Behavioral Science, Political Science, Public Administration, Economics, Public Relations, Human Rights and Law etc. It cannot be defined within one blog or one note or one comment or one bill. Of course laws are necessary, but they must be retrofitted into a bigger picture where all the scenarios of corruption are addressed closely to the extent humanely possible. To bind all the people in that law is the real challenge. Keeping anybody (be it common man, Sarpanch, Tehsildar, MLA, MP, lower and upper bureaucracy) out of the ambit of the law itself will cause an imbalance in the execution of the law and pose questions about the impartiality of that law.

Calling all common men culprits is as good as calling all parliamentarians corrupt. If both sides do not rationally analyse the problem, the conflict will never get resolved and both sides will become bitter enemies of each other, which will be a bigger problem to solve.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Logic & Reason vs Common Sense

A sacred area "Logic and Reason".. in which so called "educated intellectuals" swim. They try to find logic and reason in "common sense". They think so much that obvious things become complicated for them. A simple Bill to prevent corruption, and here come the so called intellectuals trying to find reasons to "analyse" the common sense.

I was in Mumbai on 26th July 2005. An unprecedented rainfall had flooded the city. When I came out of office in the evening, I was not able to see land anywhere. It was as if the sea level had risen by at least 8 feet. My colleague, whom I used to appreciate for his logic in coding complex C++ classes, came out with me. And in the neck deep water, he started making attempts to walk. Isn't it common sense to swim in the neck deep water? The fact that my friend knew how to swim, did not suggest him to swim in this water? What was he thinking about? What is the use of your logic, if you can't use it for yourself?

When the time to apply common sense comes, the educated illiterates start thinking about the democratic principles and parliamentary supremacy. What the heck! This is my country, all Indians are my brothers and sisters, who the hell is MP to dictate me what should be and what should not be in the law which brings cheer to my fellow countrymen? Especially, when the law itself is being made to curb MPs' "corruption under the very nose of so called democracy"? The so called intellectuals who are always on the periphery try to give reasons like "only parliament can make laws". Do they think MPs will bring out a bill which will monitor their own behavior in parliament or outside? It is as if asking students to set their own exam paper. Does one need to apply logic while thinking this? In my opinion our farmers are more educated and literate than those so called 10th and 12th board rankers and IIT, IIM graduates, doctors, engineers & "booker prize winners" who are opposing this movement. Our uneducated farmers can at least sustain in this hostile economy and environment without having piles of degrees in their cupboards. They may not understand democratic principles, but they do have more "common sense" than so many other educated intellectuals. One logical explanation given by opponents of this movement is, only parliament can make laws, and that one should get elected to get the law they want. Excuse me! For every damn thing I can not keep getting elected. Getting elected itself in current system is not possible without being dishonest and criminal. Many honest people get killed for standing for election against a criminal/an incumbent, and there is ample evidence of that. Of course, I have only one life, and I want to live it honestly and peacefully and let others live peacefully.. I should not need to get elected for expecting that. But the biased and narcissistic educated illiterates do not understand this. They are worried about their own ego while endorsing skepticism, speculation and procrastination and spreading rumors.

I gave my vote to an MP because I thought he would do something good for the society. If I go to him tomorrow and ask him to do it, he should not say that "Please get elected first". Is this democracy? Is this why I voted you in the first place? I am not asking anything for personal benefit. It is the whole society who will benefit if the MPs discuss and debate over how to address corruption. They do not even want to discuss it, and in turn suggest me to get elected. This is certainly not fair.

For me, my Anna is the best. He is more educated than our Harvard educated Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan or our "honest" Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. I don't want to be bothered by those who oppose this movement. I guess I have at least that much right in the "so called" democracy "of the Congress/BJP/NCP/SP/RJD/SS/XYZ/XXX, by the Congress/BJP/NCP/SP/RJD/SS/XYZ/XXX, for the Congress/BJP/NCP/SP/RJD/SS/XYZ/XXX"!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Game theory application to bribing scenario

                  One of my friends suggested that "only common man will have to improve and refrain from paying bribe to anybody. If one common man is already honest, he should try to influence others to be honest and that's it. Just by doing so will take care of the whole problem of corruption. No need of any special law."
                  We were not sure why this does not work in a social context. So, I kinda did this analysis to find out what really happens. I welcome your suggestions and comments. Please read the detailed analysis below:
Game theory application to bribing scenario
                  Lets say two peace loving common men(Common Man 1 - CM1 and Common Man 2 - CM2) are there in a society. They have their own businesses.
If both of them pay bribe to the government, they both make a profit of  Indian Rupee symbol.svg10 as shown in red below.
If CM1 pays bribe to the government, and CM2 does not, then CM1 makes  Indian Rupee symbol.svg30 profit and CM2 loses the deal and hence goes in a loss of  Indian Rupee symbol.svg5.
If CM1 does not pay bribe to the government, and CM2 pays, then CM2 makes  Indian Rupee symbol.svg30 profit and CM1 loses the deal and hence goes in a loss of  Indian Rupee symbol.svg5.
If both of them do not pay bribe to the government, they both save the bribe money and make a total profit of  Indian Rupee symbol.svg13 as shown in green below.
Common Man 2
Pay BribeDon't Pay Bribe
Common Man 1 Pay Bribe 10, 1030, -5
Don't Pay Bribe-5, 3013, 13

The nature of the game can be summarized as follows.

It is an infinitely repeated game with no known final period (and thus no end-of-period problem)
Two strategies are available to each man, “Don’t Pay Bribe” and “Pay Bribe”.

Dominant Strategy: The dominant strategy for both men is “Pay Bribe”. To see this, note that
  • For CM1,
    • If CM2 chooses “Pay Bribe”, the best choice by CM1 is “Pay Bribe”. That way he ensures that he earns at least Indian Rupee symbol.svg10 profit rather than losing Indian Rupee symbol.svg5.
    • If CM2 chooses “Don’t Pay Bribe”, the best choice by CM1 is “Pay Bribe”. That way he ensures that he gets the total profit of  Indian Rupee symbol.svg30.
    • In other words, regardless of whether CM2’s strategy is “Pay Bribe” or “Don’t Pay Bribe”, the best choice by CM1 is “Pay Bribe”. Hence, “Pay Bribe” is Dominant strategy for CM1.
  • For CM2,
    • If CM1 chooses “Pay Bribe”, the best choice by CM2 is “Pay Bribe”. That way he ensures that he earns at least 10 profit rather than losing Indian Rupee symbol.svg5.
    • If CM1 chooses “Don’t Pay Bribe”, the best choice by CM2 is “Pay Bribe”. That way he ensures that he gets the total profit of  Indian Rupee symbol.svg30.
    • In other words, regardless of whether CM1’s strategy is “Pay Bribe” or “Don’t Pay Bribe”, the best choice by CM2 is “Pay Bribe”. Hence, “Pay Bribe” is Dominant strategy for CM2.
Nash Equilibrium: The Nash equilibrium would be “Pay Bribe”-”Pay Bribe”. Since both men have the dominant strategy of “Pay Bribe”, it is obvious that the Nash Equilibrium is in the “Pay Bribe”-”Pay Bribe” quadrant when both men earn a profit of Indian Rupee symbol.svg10. To prove this,
  • While in “Pay Bribe”-”Pay Bribe” quarter, CM1 can not improve his profit given CM2 is in “Pay Bribe” (vertical) column. The only two options for CM1 in “Pay Bribe”(vertical) column is Indian Rupee symbol.svg10 profit(by being in “Pay Bribe”) or Indian Rupee symbol.svg5 loss(by being in “Don’t Pay Bribe”). Hence CM1 will have to stay in “Pay Bribe” to earn profit.
  • While in “Pay Bribe”-”Pay Bribe” quarter, CM2 can not improve its profit given CM1 is in “Pay Bribe” (horizontal) row. The only two options for CM2 in “Pay Bribe”(horizontal) row is Indian Rupee symbol.svg10 profit(by being in “Pay Bribe”) or Indian Rupee symbol.svg5 loss(by being in “Don’t Pay Bribe”). Hence CM2 will have to stay in “Pay Bribe” to earn profit.
Collusion: Now suppose, CM1 influences CM2 to collude with him so that both will be able to earn Indian Rupee symbol.svg13 profit by both not bribing the govt rather than Indian Rupee symbol.svg10 that they earn in current Nash equilibrium. CM1 and CM2 do not pay any bribe in that year. But for next year, if CM2 decides to "cheat" CM1 and pay bribe to government. Then CM1 will be caught off-guard and suffer Indian Rupee symbol.svg5 loss and CM2 will earn a profit of Indian Rupee symbol.svg30. The outcome of that cheating will be that, henceforth CM1 will not cooperate with CM2 in "not paying bribe". In other words, the collusion will not work forever. So what? by cheating once CM2 earned Indian Rupee symbol.svg17 more than what he would earn by being in collusion. So, in other words, there is considerable incentive for the person who is a cheat. For both the men to be in collusion forever, they should make a legal agreement that the cheater will pay the other man Indian Rupee symbol.svg17 every time he cheats. This would deter the cheater from cheating and both men will happily earn Indian Rupee symbol.svg13 per year forever. This in other words proves that the collusion never works without any legal agreement between the colluding parties. This also depends on the present value of the future profits, but I will not drill down into those details in this post. This post was prepared only to prove how two common men cannot survive in a collusion where they decide not to pay bribe to government.

If you introduce a third player "government" in the game and then evaluate all the scenarios, the outcome of that game also will be "having a strong law to keep another collusion working for the benefit of all the players".

So, if you doubt the credibility of a strong law like "Lokpaal Bill", think again. I know it needs to be crafted very carefully as have been our "Election Commission" and "Judiciary". If you see both of these have powers which are not granted to any politician. They are independent systems and work so very efficiently that our democracy is still running well despite having so many social issues.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Chicago travel advice for my friends

These are some words of advice for people visiting Chicago for the first time as a tourist. This information has been used by some of my friends when they visited Chicago over last 5 years that I have been staying here.

Go through this guide:

I would suggest purchasing this City Pass. Its worth the money and time.
This pass is valid for 9 days. So, once you purchase it, you can see those five destinations over the entire long weekend you are here for.

This city pass covers all the important and must see destinations in Chicago. Plus, you avoid standing in ticket queue at most of the locations if you have this pass. You will save a lot of time and energy. Especially, in sears tower on a long weekend, you have to stand in the queue for about 3 hours before you get to go to the top. If you have this pass, you get to go directly inside without having to stand in the queue. The first three locations mentioned in this city pass are
1. Adler Planetarium,
2. Field Museum and
3. Shedd Aquarium.
These three are at the same location. So, once you reach there, you can cover all of them depending on how fast you move through. I would suggest, take your time and enjoy wherever you are. Even if you cover only one or two of these three, your money and time is well spent. I did not find Shedd Aquarium that interesting, you may skip it OR just attend the 4-D show in there and come out. To me, it did not make much sense to waste time watching the fishes and penguins. Even the dolphin show in Shedd Aquarium is not that good. You can skip that.

Go to the Sears(Willis) Tower in the morning at around 10 AM. Less rush. Check the weather and go only if it is sunny. It does not make sense to go on top of the tower on a cloudy day, you won't enjoy it. Sears Tower is around 1 mile away from Millenium Park. Take a bus, cab or walk. You will see good scenic views and buildings on the way. Same applies for John Hancock Observatory. John Hancock tower has a restaurant on 95th floor named "Signature Room". People usually reserve a lunch table in this restaurant. The glass windows of this restaurant offer a magnificent view of Lake Michigan, the marina, the boats, the beaches beside the lake, Lakeshore Drive and millenium park. The view is worth watching and clicking. The restaurant is a little bit costly though. So, you can decide based on your budget. Otherwise, the John Hancock tower has its own observatory accessible by paying some entry fee. This is covered in the city pass if you purchase it.

Apart from the locations offered by CityPass, do not miss the location called "Millenium Park". It is open to all for free. It is a must see destination in Chicago. It is right by the Michigan Avenue in downtown. Also, you should not miss walking on the 2 miles stretch north of Millenium Park, along the Michigan Avenue. That is the main downtown of Chicago. There you will find most tourists spending their time taking photographs and looking at Chicago's magnificent planned city architecture.
Right on michigan avenue near millenium park is the Art Institute of Chicago.

You may also go to "Navy Pier". Frankly, I do not like that location much, but most of the tourists make it a point to go there. This is good to visit with kids. There is also a Children's museum at Navy Pier. At Navy Pier, you can get on few short(1 hour) cruises which take you around in the Lake Michigan. (I have been on one such cruise, it gives a nice view of the skyline but apart from that I did not find much value in it. They are so costly.) At Navy Pier, there is a "Giant Wheel" in which you can take a ride for about $12 per person. That also gives a good view of the skyline. Apart from these two, this is like a "to hang around" place, buzz with restaurants, small shops and crowd. There is a museum(free entry) called Smith Museum which has a collection of glass paintings by different artists. It is nice. It takes just 20-30 minutes to pass through that museum. Also, check the timetable of fireworks at Navy Pier. I know they have one every wednesday at around 8PM. Check it online if you want to see the fireworks.

If you are staying just for 3 days, then above locations should keep you occupied. If you want to go for more, you can purchase the card called "Go Chicago Card". The cost is same as the City pass that I mentioned above. But, this card does not give you direct entry to locations like Sears Tower and John Hancock Observatory without going through queues, so it does not add much value. It covers a lot of destinations though, but they are not must-see.

For all the people from India, there are some more locations to visit:
1. Swaminarayan Temple
2. Swami Ramkrishna Universal Temple: Recently the "Vivekanand Vedanta Society" moved the temple from Hyde Park Chicago to "14630 S. Lemont Road, Homer Glen, IL 60491". This is a universal temple, in the sense that no matter which religion you belong to, you can come to this temple to worship the real ideals of humanity. It is a very simple temple, it has a book store and a library inside, they also run Yoga and Sanskrit classes here on Saturdays and Sundays and also have spiritual discourses with visiting Gurus from all over the world. See the calendar on their website if you want to attend any such event. There is no canteen facility at this temple (at least as of today).
3. Art Institute of Chicago - This is where Swami Vivekanand gave all his historic talks on Hinduism in front of the Parliament of Religions in 1893. The road in front of the Art institute is also named after him as "Swami Vivekanand Road". (This building is easy to locate right by the Millenium Park on Michigan Avenue, it has two lion statues in front of the main door)
4. Devon Avenue - This is located far away from downtown, around 15 miles. You will need a car to reach this place. There is ample metered parking available on the roadside at Devon Avenue. Frankly, there is nothing special here. But, all the Indians like to go to Indian kind of shops and restaurants to get those things which they don't get in a typical American shop/restaurant. This is one of such places. A stretch of around 1 mile on Devon avenue is full of Indian shops and restaurants on both sides of the road. Even the style of arranging things in the shops is Indian. You will see big mannequins from the glass windows of the clothes shops wearing Indian clothes like Saari, Salvaar, Kurtaa, Dhoti, Shervaani etc. etc. Everything that you get in India is available here including but not limited to clothes, food, utensils, electronics, devotional stuff, music, paanipuri, bhelpuri, chaat masala etc. etc. Almost all the people from Chicago and vicinity go to Devon Avenue for buying grocery items as well because you get all the Indian vegetables, herbs, spices in the shops here. So, it is as good as a major shopping and grocery road in any big city in India. Go to this place only if you want to see this. If not, then skip this place, it is not a must see.

I will keep updating this page as I find time to update minute details of each place.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Scheduling Data Cleanup on Windows Operating System for Performance Improvement

These steps are to schedule the disk cleanup and defragmentation tasks to contribute to performance improvement efforts on windows operation system. These are by no means only methods to improve performance, but if you do these on your machine, you may see a little bit faster response. I did these on my Windows XP machines.

A. Deleting the Cache, Cookies, Temporary Internet Files and Temporary Windows Files
1. Open Notepad.
2. Paste the following commands in it

cd C:\Documents and Settings\%USERNAME%\Cookies
del /F /S /Q *

cd C:\Documents and Settings\%USERNAME%\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files
del /F /S /Q *

cd C:\Documents and Settings\%USERNAME%\Local Settings\Application Data\Temp
del /F /S /Q *

cd C:\Documents and Settings\%USERNAME%\Local Settings\Temp
del /F /S /Q *

cd C:\WINDOWS\Temp
del /F /S /Q *
3. Save the file on C drive with ".bat" extension. My saved file is named "delCacheCookiesAndTempInternetFiles.bat"
4. Go to Start -> Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> Scheduled Tasks
5. Click on "Add Scheduled Task".
6. Click Next on the window that pops up.
7. On the subsequent window, click "Browse"
8. Browse to C:\delCacheCookiesAndTempInternetFiles.bat
9. Select the frequency to run this scheduled task as per your choice. I run it weekly once.
10. Select other parameters for the scheduled task and save it. (I would suggest select the time to run within next 5 mins and see if it actually starts and runs at that particular time. Once you see it running successfully, you can change the scheduled run time to some other time per your preference.

B. Schedule Disk Cleanup to Run Automatically
1. Goto Start -> Run -> Type "cmd"
2. Paste the command "cleanmgr /sageset:1" and hit Enter.
3. It opens a dialog as shown below:
4. Check your preferred checkboxes on this screen and click "Ok"
5. Go to Start -> Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> Scheduled Tasks
6. Click on "Add Scheduled Task".
7. Click Next on the window that pops up.
8. On the subsequent window, click "Browse"
9. Browse to "c:\windows\system32\cleanmgr.exe"
9. In the "Schedule" tab, select other parameters for the scheduled task. Select the frequency to run this scheduled task as per your choice. (I run it monthly once.) Click "Ok" to save the scheduled task.
10. Go to Start -> Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> Scheduled Tasks
11. Right click on the task "cleanmgr", go to "Properties".
12. In the "Run" textbox, edit the text to append "sagerun:1"
13. Select other parameters for the scheduled task and save it. (I would suggest select the time to run within next 5 mins and see if it actually starts and runs at that particular time. Once you see it running successfully, you can change the scheduled run time to some other time per your preference.

C. Schedule Disk Defragementer to Run Automatically
1. Go to Start -> Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> Scheduled Tasks
2. Click on "Add Scheduled Task".
3. Click Next on the window that pops up.
4. On the subsequent window, click "Browse"
5. Browse to "C:\WINDOWS\system32\defrag.exe"
6. Select the frequency to run this scheduled task as per your choice. (I run it weekly once.) Click "Ok" to save the scheduled task.
7. Go to Start -> Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> Scheduled Tasks
8. Right click on the task "defrag", go to "Properties".
9. In the "Run" textbox, edit the text to append "C:". This is how you are specifying which drive the defragmenter should run.
10. In the "Schedule" tab, select other parameters for the scheduled task. Click "Ok". (I would suggest select the time to run within next 5 mins and see if it actually starts and runs at that particular time. Once you see it running successfully, you can change the scheduled run time to some other time per your preference.
You do not need to follow this procedure for scheduling Defragmentation in Windows 7. Windows 7 has its own scheduler for Defragmentation accessible from Disk Defragmenter Application itself.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Wish you all a very happy new year 2011. Now that other things have settled a little bit, I personally plan to do a hell lot of actual concrete work this year. Wish me luck friends!

Posting this poem that I had composed in Dec 2006.


He is the healer, Silent killer
Whatever drops, He never stops
With fast gallops, Always hops

Conquer the time
With courage sublime
Let this year
be everything clear

Let Him be the charioteer
On your side
With time against
your own guide

Let Him be the scent
In successful event
Hearty wishes for you
Before adieu

With family and friends,
You enjoy,
Endless journey,
With cheerful cry !

Let me be there,
by your side,
to share your cry,
to share your joy !

Friday, September 18, 2009

Installing Maven Help Plugin

Just including the following in the maven settings.xml and then running any help command like "mvn help:describe -Dplugin=help" should install the help plugin if it is not already installed.




Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Joker

A funny creature, as you may discard it as, have you ever thought about its importance? A joker, whom you can debase to the lowest possible value in a deck of cards or as you may please, enthrone it and make it a king as well... or how about an ace? Yeah, the same joker assumes different forms at different instances in time, without complaining, without asking for anything in return, yet without having any value of its own. Sometimes it may amuse you with the notion of immense power you feel in its presence and sometimes you may curse yourself as being ill-fated because of its absence. The fact is, be it a play of cards or be it your own life, every now and then you need jokers.. whom you can treat as you may please without ever expecting any sigh of protest from them. Those are the creatures who are important to you whenever you need and whenever you don't need. Have you ever discarded a joker card as a left over? That is the least possible value a person can have in your life, a left over. Jokers come very handy as left overs. That way no one else can claim them, and you also get to not claim them at the same time, disclaiming them just as an orphan entity. You just choose to discard it while prohibiting others from accepting it. Have you ever thought about what the joker might be thinking? It must be very lonely there.. doing all these good to the humanity, claiming no dignity, no loyalty, no love, no affection, no compassion and no existence at all. Sometimes, I feel a joker is the most spiritual entity in this world. Somehow, it has been able to attain liberty and indifference towards life. However you treat it, it never revolts, never deceives, rather in return it benefits you whenever you need. and I mean, only when you need. It does not give you unnecessary advices, neither does it interfere in your normal life. Although there are very few, as few as you can count them on fingers, I am very fond of such persons, the real jokers. Someday, I wish to be a joker... once and for all.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The pursuit of happ'y'ness

By any standards, I dare say I still see myself in the category of those who keep wondering "what exactly happened?". Somehow the speed of evolution seems to have crossed the limits set by my mind based on my immature beliefs which sometimes allow me to think that "Sab moha maaya hain" and nothing is going to change the way it is changing. Everybody has his/her own task cut out and everybody is doing it with utmost honesty. Be it evil or be it good, they do it and nobody can ever stop them, otherwise someone would have won by now, either evil or good. The best we can do is to take the side of good and do whatever possible and encourage others to join on our side. Its all a mind game. Nothing happens in the outside world. All that happens is inside our minds. The cycle of change is not a real cycle, it is a virtual one. It will stop only with the end of the world. You set something right and something else goes wrong. Rather, it changes, that is why the current processes do not work for that change and that is called "wrong"? Then we change the processes to make it "right", and by then something else gets outdated. If we could stop the time whenever we are happy, we would be happy forever. But, till now there is no technology which has been able to stop time. It keeps on running, and hence the things change. So, the ultimate solution would be to somehow stop time, which is not an easy task. Because the time has got the highest stamina than that of any living cell on this earth. It has been ticking since ages and will keep on doing that for ages. Is that also a mind game? What if we could stop the ticking of time in our mind? What if we stop the ticking of time in our mind at the moment we are happy? Will we stay happy forever after that? But, what is happiness and when is someone supposed to stop time? Are you not happy at present? Why can't you make yourself happy at your own will? Sure you can. If you can stop ticking of time in your mind (which is the hardest task I have ever encountered) why can't you be happy at will? All my such thoughts result in the final solution to all the problems i.e. mind control. By nature, we crave for something we don't have. If we can control our minds then everything will fall in place and we would be happy forever. At least that is what I think.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

दिक्षितांचा बंब

भर रात्रीचे आठ वाजलेले. आमच्या इथे दोन दिवसांपासुन वीजपुरवठा नव्हता. चोहिकडे दाट अंधार. इतका अंधार की काजव्यांनाही समोरचे काही दिसत नव्हते. घरासमोरच्या गटारातील बेडकं जेवण आटोपुन शाळेतील प्रार्थना म्हणावी तशी एका सुरात राग शुद्ध सारंग गात होती. घरातली सगळी मंडळी बाहेर वाय्रावर(घरासमोरच्या कट्ट्यावर) बसलेली. आमचे शेजारी, दिक्षितही त्यांच्या घराच्या दारात सिगारेट तोंडात धरुन प्राणायाम करत बसले होते. शेजारी त्यांची सहा वर्षाची नुकतीच पहिलीत जावू लागलेली मुलगी न दिसणाय्रा अंधारात स्वतःशीच लपंडाव खेळत होती. माळरानात घर, चोरांची भीती म्हणून आणि बायकोचा राग कोणावरतरी काढता यावा म्हणून दिक्षितांनी शारु आणि सल्लु नावाची दोन भली मोट्ठी कुत्री पाळलेली. दिक्षित रोज सकाळी उठल्या उठल्या त्यांना एकतरी लाथ घालतच. लाइट गेल्याने टि.व्हि. बघायचे सोडुन दिक्षितांच्या दोन्ही कुत्र्यांनी खुशाल ताणुन दिलेली. तितक्यात काळाचा आघात झाला. अंधारात दिक्षितांना कसलीतरी धुसफुस ऐकू आली. दिक्षितांना त्यांच्या पाणी तापवण्याच्या बंबाशेजारी दोन काळ्या आकृत्या दिसल्या. तेवढ्यात दिक्षित ओरडले, शारु सल्लु, छु छु.... त्या आवाजाने शारु दचकुन जागा झाला. मोठ्या रागाने शारुने दिक्षितांकडे बघितले आणि "काय म्हातारं चळलंय" अशा आविर्भावात त्याने एक मोट्टी जांभई दिली आणि परत मान खाली टाकली. दिक्षितांनी पटकन बंबाकडे धाव घेतली. पण तेवढ्यात चोरट्यांनी बंब घेऊन पळ काढला. दिक्षितांनी "चोर चोर" अशी आरोळी ठोकली. तोपर्यंत चोर अंधारात दिसेनासे झाले. संपुर्ण गाव तिथे गोळा झाला, पण व्यर्थ, चोरांनी आपला कार्यभाग आधीच उरकला होता. दिक्षितांच्या भार्या काहीतरी निमित्त काढुन माहेरी गेलेल्या. आता त्या परत आल्यावर त्यांना काय सांगावं या चिंतेने दिक्षितांना ग्रासले. दिक्षितांच्या सासय्रांनी मुलीसाठी तिच्या लग्नात भेट म्हणून दिलेला बंब चोरट्यांनी चक्क दिक्षितांच्या डोळ्यासमोर लंपास केला. दिक्षितांचा चेहरा जणु शाळेत वॉटरबॅग हरवून आलेल्या लहान मुलासारखा झाला... कसली कसली दु:खं असतात माणसाला नाही?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The flight of a capacitor...

Last year of graduation, full of excitement and fun. The funniest thing is the group project. Being electrical engineers, we had chosen to conceptualise a smart home where every electrical appliance would behave as if it is a concious energy conserving human being. We had designed the circuits to build energy conserving attitude in all the electrical appliances in the home. While I won't drill down into the technical details of the endeavour, I wish to tell the story of one of the circuit components - the capacitor.

Cooling fan is almost inevitable in every house in an equatorial country like India. With it comes the fan speed regulation. We had a temperature sensor which was to be incorporated in a voltage control circuit which would eventually control the speed of the fan. This way it would keep the fan speed regulated as per the temperature and would avoid unnecessary usage of the fan(and conserve the energy). One of the electronic components to be used in the circuit was the capacitor(polarized). As most of you might know, the polarized capacitor has two legs, which serve as two opposite polarity plugs to connect the capacitor in the circuit. The rule of thumb is the positive of polarized capacitor should go to the input(positive of the source) and the negative should go to either ground or output(negative of the source). The capacitor has a certain voltage rating and it would never let the excess voltage(than its rating) to be built across the network in its presence. Ours was a small 12V capacitor and was a little corrupt in the sense that it used to build only 11.5V instead of 12V keeping 0.5V for itself. Days are bad, even capacitors are not honest. While wondering about why the capacitor might turn traitor, once I misadvertently plugged it with the opposite polarity. That means, negative to the input and positive to the ground. Without noticing this blunder, we completed the rest of the circuit and were very happy to have it ready for testing. Till then, that capacitor was thinking of taking a revenge on me. Afterall it was a great insult to it, I plugged its input to output and output to input. Okay, so the circuit was ready and we were enthusiastic to test it immediately(at 10:00PM). I was standing just next to the test board, cuz I had to take several voltage and current readings on the ammeter. My pal Kiran was my accomplice at the moment. Confirming that everything was in place, I gave a green to Kiran and he switched the circuit on and Bingo....the capacitor sensed that this is the time to inflict the most damage. With a missile's determination, it left the test board and blasted directly and exactly at the center of my right cheek. What a serious blow on my untainted reputation!! Since then I was always wary of this violent creature. For the next three weeks I was teased by my cronies for so many reasons and in so many different ways. I was so ashamed to explain the incident and people were wondering - who kissed on my right cheek so violently(my reputation was tainted in that sense too).

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Mission Implausible !!!

Well, have you ever had a compelling urge to kill a movie actor/director for making a bad movie? No? You will - Watch this movie - Mission Implausible!!!

It was as if they were screening this movie exclusively for us five, for nobody at the entrance checked our movie tickets which we had purchased after so many efforts, and it was as if we had booked the complete theater to make it more memorable :). Nobody was there except we stupid five. I made the full use of this opportunity and whistled loudly to my fullest satisfaction as if I was watching the movie in Satara.

The movie is not better than bad ;) but a normal person cannot sustain such a harrassment for third time(if you are asinine enough to have watched the earlier parts of this trilogy). Tommy is simply unmatchable while proving the laws of gravitation false. Newton would have commited suicide had he watched this movie. Sometimes I felt Tommy must be a locksmith in his last seven lives because he could open annny damn lock with just a phone wire!!! One sequence where he hits a plane, which is around a mile away, by his shotgun the next moment he sees the villain's helicopter which is just less than half a mile away from him and tries to RUN upto there to shoot him - what is the use of that shotgun Dude! You could have shot him from there itself! I don't understand why Hollywood is so fascinated by The Elevator and AC conduits. Every movie of this genre has got to have a shot in Elevator and that too - the Hero removes the AC cover on the ceiling and escapes? All this for a freaking bottle about which nobody(even director) knows what to do with it? That bottle is called Rabit Foot - now please don't think - it's just something similar to "Laal Gulab" in Hindi Cinema. Whoever has it in his hands, villain runs after him.
The direction is beyond abnormal reasoning capabilities. Have you ever seen an informer in the party dropping wine over somebody's coat? How many times? Uncountable? Add one to it - this is Mission Implausible. I have seen a car stopping on a manhole on the road and the passengers escaping through it for innumerable times - remember Tiranga? That was around 10 years back when RajKumar had made us go haywire by his unmatchable wit. This is not enough - the movie is replete with so many hackneyed sequences that you will remember almost all Hindi movies by The Great Mithunda, Rajnikanth and Akshay Kumar(as I know by information and not by experience :P).

It was really a mission impossible for us five to stick in there for around 2 freaking hours.
No more Missions Please!!!!

Today is one of those days when I am not confused.

This world is so full of diversity that I just wonder, why GOD is not role model for anybody in this world for his creativity and genii. Carl thinks in his own way while Mike also has his own existence. Everybody is same and everybody is different. In each and everything there is some kind of magic. I listen to songs and I can't count how many notes are filled within just one micro second. So much diversity? How clearly has He demarcated the boundaries of everybody's and everything's capabilities and how blurred are they that we cannot see them. Everything that He does is an art. I am really a great fan of GOD. Sometimes I just wonder what He is up to. Why is he doing all this? Or is it so that he is just playing a game? But then why with us? I really need to see him. I have to.

Know what is cooking in my brain?

Whenever I start cooking I remember the days spent in the chemistry lab doing hazardous experiments, although I have not used fractional distillation for preparing soups or none of the ingradients have resulted into poisonous gase like Chlorine resulting from HCL+KMnO4. I wish none of the chefs in the world are as dumb as myself. So, to better understand what cooking means and to satiate my enormous gustatory and feeding needs I embarked on an expedition to find some tasty recipes which I could try on my own. Eventually I landed on where I could find some good recipes which were tasted by and tested on so many other manogatis. So I was quite sure of not failing this time. First thing I tried was "boiling water" and I was successful in the first attempt for the first time. Who says failure is the first step towards success? In this case, I skipped that step and leaped forward to making an omelette. To my utter surprise I was successful again but with a tinge of distaste, because the omelette was not EATABLE. Then I understood that the main aim of cooking is to cook things which can be EATEN(after cooking them). And now by the rule "what goes in, comes out", my brain cells produced a fantastic idea of cooking rice. This time I was nervous and overcautious because there was nothing for me to do except for putting rice in water and the mixture(?) in the oven. I was afraid of exploding the oven so I set the cooking time to 1 min and increased it by 1 min every time it stopped. Finally after 20 excruciating mins I was satisfied with the performance of the oven and decided to check if the rice is cooked. And here it is, freshly cooked, delicious, white, heated, hungry, ready to be eaten, steamy and yummy rice prepared by me. My roommates were happier than me at my success and we decided to celebrate with a party. The menu for the party was boiled eggs. Gosh! this was amazing, if you boil the eggs for more than enough, they get burnt(do not produce chickens ;-) ). From then on, I never looked back and kept on trying new things on my roommates with sporadic failures. And now I am an accomplished chef who won't keep you hungry if you visit my palace(? place). Really, I appreciate the hard times that my roommates had to go through, but "as you sow so shall you reap !".

One More Time. lloose lloose lloose - loose contttrol!

It was a bright sunny day when ten software geeks marched on an adventurous trip to quiet their surging urge for something daunting. The fun started at sharp(?) 6:55 in the morning when we started for a famous temple in Delaware.

After passing through a lot of tribulations because of a wrong map, finally we reached the temple at around 9:30. It was snugly situated in a not so crowded area. Most importantly it was surmounted by a real dome and golden pinnacle surrounded with several cupolas. To be precise, it was a pantheon where all the bigwigs from Hindu mythology had come together. Right in the centre was Devi Maha Lakshmi surrounded by Shree Shivji, Shree Ganesh, Shree Ram, Shree Satyanarayan and Shree Krishna. Vedic chanting was going on and while deities were accepting flowers and coconuts from the worshippers :), I sat down for a while, eyes closed, searching for myself and simultaneously trying to chant Atharvashirsha. Somehow, I could not concentrate and complete it - tried hard but recollected only the first half and then it got mixed with Ramraksha and Maruti Stotra. I begged pardon to the gods for the mistakes in my chanting, applied kumkum tilak on my forehead and returned. It was a rare rendezvous with so many Gods together in USA after so many days. Felt good and blessed. Afterall, we needed those blessings for our complete day while doing daring adventures.

We left the temple at around 10:15 and reached the Six Flags at around 12:00.
The rides were VhanTaaas, going through the convoluted routes with utmost celerity while all the people engaged in boisterous affair full of screams of mirth and fear. The most unforgettable moment of my life came when I went on a ride called Bungee Jumping. While bystanders doubted my unmitigated pluck, tied to a rope I was taken up above high in the sky around 100 meters from the ground. I could see the whole park from there. The instructor counted 3,2,1 and I pulled the cord which would take me to Alice' wonderland. I came down with a frenetic pace upto 50 meters height and then swung on the other side. The fall was quite thrilling making me understand the importance of being alive. I remembered Neo breaking the rules of Matrix and swung in a flying gesture for several oscillations screaming raucously with a squeaky childlike voice.

The fun followed by some modelling. I posed at my best and ended with a stupid mugshot. There is no photo as of now which I might be able to publish for my search for a sweetheart. The most photographed person in the group was Gaurav who was always lost in his dreamworld smiling like a poet at something in the zero. The day ended with a dangerous drive back home by an adroit but sleeping driver(of course it was not me:) ).

Felt like being with friends after so many days - thanks to all for that, for it was my first meeting with most of them. One more memorable day I am waiting for is when I will fly a plane.