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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Outside the Box

When we say that a certain incident is the turning point in ones life, in most of the cases, it is associated with looking at the world in a whole new perspective.

A half-filled/half-empty glass of water is the classic example that differentiates optimists and pessimists. We also tend to categorize people as introverts and extroverts based on their behaviour in a group.

For the time being let us look at the concept of thinking outside the box with help of an illustration:
Most real life situations are solved either by:
1)     Top-down approach; where-in a problem is broken down into solvable parts.
2)     Bottom-up approach; where a problems are solved starting from the roots of the problem eventually solving the entire problem.

Here, one can also attack the problem top-down and bottom up at the same time and design of a rocket, sensors, microcontrollers, launching apparatus, design of body of the rocket are all addressed at the same time.

In the human specie, we find that
1)     2% of the people control the wealth of 98% of the people
2)     1% people have authority over 99% of the people
3)     0.5% people come up with solutions to a problem taking a totally new approach.
The reason for this is their thinking outside the box.

So what is this box that you have been reading about all this time?
            Hypothetically it is assumed that all human actions are contained within a box including whatever he thinks all the time. The fact being that this box itself is hypothetical in the first place, its not properly understood. However, the concept of ‘thinking outside the box’ refers to thinking unconventionally and looking at a given situation with a different approach.

As the popular saying goes, “beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder”, you will know what this statement means if you take time to visit an art museum. One person is totally fascinated at a painting while another might just overlook it.

Mr. Steve Jobs saw opportunity and revolution in computer while normal people overlooked this issue. Adolf Hitler saw an opportunity to gain control over Germans, while common Germans silently suppressed their aggression against the Jews.

While on one hand, we need people thinking outside the box; In order for a society to progress, an excess of such people can breakdown the very foundation of the society. For most of the real life situations, we need to solve problems by conventional approaches and we need to rely on what we have learnt and know.

The discussion of thinking outside the box will be incomplete without the mention of my all time inspiration Nicola Tesla...

When the genius, had asked his teacher why not make the engine run on AC instead of DC power supply, his teacher ridiculed him; However, when later in life he invented an AC induction engine, the invention was so marvellous that it replaced the DC engine all together in Industry.

Nicola Tesla is one of the very few inventors, whose inventions remain the same in all its basic principles. For whatever he achieved in his life time, he was certainly not given enough attention.

The fact being that it was all because of a battle between 2 great thinkers of that time namely Edison and Tesla.

This visionary had foreseen a common channel for voice, messages, file and videos what is referred to as Quadruple play today, and seen in the popular software Skype. But look at the beauty, he had mentioned this possibility a 100 years ago and it is only now that we are realizing it (^_~).

Our thinking is influenced by our actions, and the kind of environment we have been through for the most of our lives. In many situations, ideas that tend to be outside the box are ignored because they are not seen with the same approach as the person suggesting them.

If everyone was like everyone else then there wouldn’t be a need to address new problems every day. In fact evolution requires that there is thinking outside the box for species to survive. The evolution of giraffe is a good example for this discussion.

  • Stop looking for a box, it is hypothetical.
  • We need people thinking outside the box.
  • People thinking outside the box only differ from other people based on their experiences.
And finally when someone says that you think a lot outside the box it just shows that the person himself was not smart enough to solve the problem in an approach that you just provided and is calling you a genius.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Transportation: Are we there yet?

Transportation system comes in a whole lot of different forms. You can choose to walk, cycle, skate, swim or maybe travel by car, take a train or get on an aeroplane, boat, ship whichever's the most convenient.. but your choices are nearly endless!

To travel vertically we have elevators, escalators, rockets and jetpacks or if you're underwater; submarine!

Even though I agree that man has come a very far from his very first look at transportation, we seem to still have a long-LONG way to go considering that the principles behind the modes that we're using haven't changed much from the time they first left the drawing board.

For some reason, I don’t think that enough justice is being done when it comes to transportation.

In ancient times, kings would go by chariots pulled by beasts on roads. Today people travel by cars on raods. Somehow except for the part that things are more mechanized and made comfortable, the way we look at transportation is still the same.

For instance, look at the concept of transport by roads. This concept has been more or less the same through the ages. We have several models of Ferrari, volkswagon, audi, ford, rolce Royce, bentle, benz, maruthi, Honda, Hyundai, BMW, Chevorlet, mitsubichi, tata, etc... yes these are several companies of cars and each company has its own models of cars.( In several cases the machines have been reverse engineered.) How ever the whole way of travelling has remained the same, viz. build a road from point A to point B and ride your vehicle over it.

We need to look at transportation itself in a whole new prespective, in order to cater to today's needs. The Wright brothers had come up with the concept of a runway for an airplane and even today this concept still hasn't changed much. Agreed that the runways are getting shorter and some jets have the ability of vertical takeoff; but consumer air travel still depends greatly on a runway.

The purpose of transportation is as much as the means as far as the method is considered.

You can see very clever design when it comes to Ski-lifts. (I wouldn't have known about this mode of transportation, if not for cartoons :P ) This mode of transport can be extended to buildings and local transports, how ever I still need to learn a lot about its functioning and short comings (^_^)

I had once seen a ‘Swat Kats’ episode, where the villain converts himself into electricity and goes from one place to another. This was later adapted in the cartoon series Spiderman too!
Speed is of the essence when it comes to travelling. We are always in a hurry to reach our destination. In most cases we tend to neglect on the technology behind the locomotive considering that we quickly adapt to a quicker means of transport even if it tends to be higher in cost. 

We find high-tension wires and electric cables everywhere, so why not use it for transportation purpose as well....

Yes this might seem too farfetched, but the device could be here anyday and the concept could be somewhat similar to a magnetic train, but in a much larger scale, and we might even have to use hybrid means that are available today like the hovercraft.

By the way one thing still gnaws at my mind. After the advent of the internet, the world has become a much smaller place, and we are still working on improving transportation (lol).

When you look at the design of the elevator, what beats my mind is that not much has changed in the design of an elevator from since its first emergence. Generally a load is used to balance the weight in the elevator, and the mass of the people acts as a counter weight to this. What really got my mind was, that I had seen a system of hovering elevator system in the cartoon series ‘Jetsons’, which seems very much practical to me. I wonder today’s elevator designs have not been improved to those standards!!! We even find a lot of hovering vehicles in the movie ‘Astro Boy’.

One more means of transportation which I remember from my childhood was a system of conveyors used to carry people from one place to another, which also appear in the series ‘Jetsons’, but this system had been proposed for one of the innovative design stated by the Japanese... And I had seen in Discovery channel that it would be a reality any day now. Where have all these ideas been thrown away?

Trains have been my fascination since childhood. I had read about several designs of trains that included, electric, magnetic, steam run, diesel, rocket-train, hower-train in a book that I had bought in a book fair. However, all I see being practically implemented are only the electric and steam run ones. I wonder why the others are not being run.

Practicality has been of lesser priority in most of such government run ventures. We have a lot to learn about transportation, when we look at the revolution that advent of internet has done. Yes every single aspect has been accepted very soon after its proposal and led to rise of the internet traffic which would look like a speeding train to a guy walking by the tracks.

We don’t have a separate system of transport for goods and humans. In most of the cases, goods are taken in the same manner as a locomotive. However, you must note that these two don’t behave alike when it comes to transportation. When transporting goods, it’s far less dependent on the speed, the space available, the need for a special kind of arrangement, such as chairs, bathrooms in an airplane.

In fact I think the whole system will have to be redesigned when it comes to sending goods from one point to another. A truck that carries petroleum from a place with a oil rig to a refinery runs empty on the way back because it is designed to do just that and it's impractical to carry something like mineral water in it! We see a lot of fresh ideas even today, for instance, In ‘Williwonka and the chocolate factory’, the shows a whole new way of sending chocolate across the transmitter/receiver ends. And then what about a design like the one in ‘5th element’ as a substitute for today’s cars.

It is a common practice to build ramps at several public buildings to aid the disabled people to access the building services. But as far at the research on human walk goes, the mechanism in going up the stairs is not that complicated and has been improved to a large extent. However the design from a wheel chair to a chair with pair of legs is yet to surprise me.

Yes we have done a very good job of coming up with a system of conveyor tracks to army tanks, but how about extending this system to everyday vehicles, so that we can benefit from the pros of such devices. despite several limitations, caterpillar tracks have their own advantages.

We have build bridges to enable us access to a pair of separated land mass. We have built huge satellites and robotic rovers to explore other celestial objects. As far as means of transport is concerned, we have all those that are required to reach every place that we have explored as of now. Still somehow there is that urge to say that we are not yet where we are supposed to be, because we never know what’s coming tomorrow.

It sometimes amazes us how we see lots of amphibious transports in movies, such as the use of a car turning into a boat in ‘James Bond’ movies, or how the submarine turns into a boat in ‘Spy Kids’. 

For one thing these movies serve as a good source for inspiration to the general viewers. But they also ensure that we have something to think about, once the movie is over. However everyone has his own life to get back to and the inspiration is soon forgotten.

I am sure that someday, these inventions will see their share of light and fame, but until that day, let us just pray that we can adapt to whatever we have ahead of us. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Essence of a goal

We humans do everything in life with some or the other goal. Sometimes a goal is very clear to us sometimes its foggy and sometimes we see right through it.

1) A child cries with a goal of getting its stomach filled, a goal of conveying its desire to sleep, a goal of conveying its displeasure to something or a goal of wanting to be with its loved ones.

2) In sports a goal is almost always visible.
-In cricket you need to send the ball outside the boundary.
-In foot ball in a goal post.
-In basket ball in a basket
-In golf, pool, snooker, carom in a hole
-In snake and ladder it’s the last square.
-In chess its by method of elimination
-In volley ball, tennis, table tennis badminton, throw ball you need to keep the ball within the boundary.

3) I was once asked why test match gets less audience than a 20-20 cricket matches. Here are some points I could think of;
            1) It takes a real long time to set a goal and a whole lot more to achieve a goal in a test match, where as in a 20-20 the whole process is a whole lot quicker.
            2) In test match there is a huge chance of a draw match. Very rare in 20-20.
Time is thus of a great essence when it comes to addressing a goal.

4) I had a beautiful lesson in Sanskrit in my 9th standard named 'Shraddha'=>belief.
Shraddha means honest dedication but in this chapter it addressed belief.

I still remember that this lesson spoke all about how belief has held our lives together.

While on one hand a goal gives you a sense of direction, it is the belief that finally keeps you going in life.

  • We sleep every night with a belief that we are actually going to get up the next day in the morning.
  • A monkey hangs on the branch of a tree belief that the branch is going to remain intact.
  • A sentence said “Yo yat shraddha sa aiva saha”, which means that a person becomes what he believes in life.
  • The lesson also had an abstract from ‘The Bhagavad Geeta’,
Shraddha vishwam idam jagat,
Shraddha vishwa vyapini
            According to the lord, it’s the belief that keeps the world going, belief makes the world a better place.

5) Other instances of setting a goal include:
a) People buying lottery ticket with a hope of getting a lot of money(goal).
b) Students write exams with a goal of passing (however some aim higher (~_^).
c) Ideally the end objective of education system must be to make the students good citizens, how ever, most institutions have lost their track.
d) Students go to class everyday, believing that their teacher is going to show up.

6) There are a lot of examples of people who have reached their goals after setting a goal. Some of such examples include.
   a) Master blaster – Sachin Tendulkar.
   b) Kiran Bedi.
   c) Mahatma Gandhiji (next Anna Hazare)
   d) Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Larry Page.
   e) Nicola Tesla, Edison, Einstein, Newton.
   f) Charlie Chaplin, Lata Manjeshkar, A. R. Rehman.
   g) Dhirubai Ambani, Narayan Murthy, Ratanlal Tata.
   h) Swami Vivekananda, Mata Amritanandamayi, Pandit Ravishankar, Baba Ramdev.
  i) Barrack Obama, S. M. Krishna, Yedyurappa, Jailalitha, Lallu Prasad, Narayan Modi, Mamatha Baneerjee, Adolf Hitler.

7) Set a goal today machis and machas!
            “Failure may be the stepping stones of success, however don’t aim at failure for this reason! (~_^).

8) Most engineers join a company in the beginning to be promoted over time to raise up to the top position in a company. A really passionate employee, gives his best at his work and is often recognized in a company. Its the goal that drives employees to work everyday and come up with faster and more efficient solutions to everyday problems.

Note: the following picture says more than enough of things to be aware of when a goal is set. Make sure you have overlooked the consequences of setting that particular goal and stick to it if you think it is worth it.

9) In most situations in life, we realize it much later that we were actually closer to a goal than we had assumed to be. It is very important for a person to visualize a goal so that he at least has an idea of what he is going to see at the end of the tunnel

10) Here are 3 illustrations by that I felt needed some light in this discussion.
a) this is a very funny instance from the popular series ‘friends’, the way I remember it (^_^).

Chandeller Bing is this amazing guy who has a typical way of always thinking out of the box in all situations in the series.

One day at work, Chandeller hears a fellow work discuss amongst them on how Chandeller is being under-paid for his efforts. This somehow triggers a logic in his mind and he comes up with a master plan to get fired, because he considers it less dignified to give out a resignation.

According to his plan, He decides to over-work right from the next day. He shifts his work space closer to the paper copier, in order to avoid spending time moving back and forth during his paper works.
He starts to really focus on work and 3 days from this day he finds out that the guy sitting next to him has been fired. He feels a sense of victory and finds out other ways to do more work out of his time.

He starts to attend a call, write his report and type in his computer all at the same time. He next day the guy in front of Chandeller gets called by the boss and when he returns, the finds that the guy had been called to tell him that he was fired. He now decides that he is next on the line and keeps doing his work as planned.

The next day, the boss calls him and he goes with zeal of satisfaction that his time has finally come. However in reality, the boss of his boss would have fired the boss of Chandeller and made Chandeller the boss, due to his failure in recognizing the talent of this worker.

Thus Chandeller gets his pay to be increase, and a promotion at the same time.

At this point we must note that, the problem he was having was a low pay and even though we can’t agree with his logic, he reached the goal of solving this problem.

Yes, most of the time, goals are not reached as we plan them to, but the universe has the most unexpected way of talking us to the goals when we least expect it to. So; Do set a goal.

b) Story of the cobbler.
            I had read this story a long time back so do forgive the glitches.

Once upon a time there was a cobbler in a small village, he had heard many of his relatives’ talk of the lord’s temple in the Himalayas, and had the desire to go see the lord himself. So when he managed to collect enough money, he set out to reach the lords temple in the Himalayas.

This cobbler managed to reached the Himalayas in the end of rainy season, and winter had just begun. When he reaches the directed place, only to find a board that said that the path had been closed due to high expected blizzard. The cobbler felt disappointed and decided to go back to his village.. But while on his way back a blizzard really sets in, and just at that time he hears a voice from a distance.

He finds a shepherd taking his sheep into a small cave and decides to follow the shepherd to the cave. The shepherd and the cobbler talk till late in the night about their experiences and go to sleep by the fire.

However the next morning when the cobbler wakes up, he notices the shepherd missing and when he reaches the mouth of the cave, he realizes that the blizzard has ended, and the path seems to be flooded with people.

It is only then that he realizes that the night that he had spent with the shepherd in the cave lasted 4 whole months outside, and summer had set in by the time he had woken up.

In this story, the cobbler reached his goal by first setting it. And because of his belief he made it through the hardship.

c) Walk to the end point at Manipal.
            I had set to see the End-point of Manipal hill one day (this is a very beautiful spot and I hope you don’t miss it when you visit the place).

Since I had never been there I just kept on walking till I reached the place. It was as if every roads corner was a short term goal, eventually leading to the final destination.

Only when I got there, did I realize that I no longer felt a need to return because I had reached a goal eventually leading to the final destination.

Clases were just beginning at MIT and I had nothing to study at home, I had just eaten food so did not have the excuse of hunger.

I took a different path hoping there to be a short cut some where how ever there were none and I felt like walking a long way back home. Infact home never appeared to get closer.

I finally reacher back and that evening when we were discussing about End Point I realized that End Point was 6 Km from their home. And I had walked 6 km back and forth without realizing the distance.

To sum it all up

Sunday, August 14, 2011

comparison Child Vs Mobile phone

All of us adore a mobile phone when its first handed to us.

Having a mobile phone is like having a little child with you. You feel the need to lift it every time it cries. There is a sense of satisfaction every time you make it stop crying. And suppose you leave it back at home while at college or at work. You just cant thinking about the several possibilities that could be happening all the time. You have to feed it from time to time. And some times it makes you get up in the middle of the night!

Oh. And the feeling you have when your mobile phone gets spoilt for the first time is so silly. That you just can’t stop thinking about it; This feeling of uneasiness ends only after the mobile gets completely repaired.

My mobile got spoilt for the first time (or so i thought) about one month from the time i had got the mobile. I used to get a hell lot of messages. I just loved reading forwards and do even now. One day the mobile stopped opening un read messages, and i began to panic.

I tried asking friends and relatives for a solution and finally went to the place where i had purchased the handset. There the person erased all my  contacts. Still there was no sign of recovery. Then I deleted all my messages and found that the problem occurred only because of message overflow.

I still remember that day. I had gone to Malleshwaram and had to travel back and forth several times to get it repaired.

I first got my mobile phone when i was in the second half of my 5th semester. I remember how I used to give my number to every person I met; Just expecting the person to send forward whenever he gets one.

Yes mobile phones are not a necessity and I stand by that statement even now. You can get along an entire day without using the mobile. Not just one day. You can really go on with your life without a mobile phone.

Some of the reasons why we feel the need for a mobile phone are:
  • Instantly access any person in your contacts.
  • Cheap call rates.
  • Free SMS’.
  • The need to talk.
  • Privacy.
  • Feel of security.
  • Many features such as games, torch, alarm, internet, etc.

Mobile phones have certainly brought about a lot of revolutions. For one, they have almost replaced the landline calls completely.

I have never changed my handset or number ever since I got my mobile phone. So I don’t consider myself qualified of talking about that matter.

Newer technologies are making their way into the mobile phone system.
It was noticed that we needed the buttons only when a call needed to be made. So some clever fellow reverse engineered this problem and brought in the new Touch facility.

Though this facility was around for a long long time, it was not until the release of IPhones that the facility really made its mark.
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