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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Significance of time

Significance of time

Time is one of the most influencing factors in a person’s life. When a man is depressed, all he wishes is some time (/away) from his dear ones.  I remember a message on the importance of time.
  •   The guy had to repeat an year in education knows the importance of 1Year
  •      The guy who is about to write an exam in one hour knows the importance of 1 hours.
  •  The guy writing the exam knows the importance of 1 minute.
  •   The guy who just missed an accident knows the importance of 1 second.

We are perhaps the only beings that know what time is, we have analyzed time and derived some important conclusions, some of which are, "Time waits for no one", time lost cannot be regained. “Time and tide wait for none”. Some believe time is money, while to be a teacher, while there are others who believe that time is God.

Time is measured in millennia, century, decade, year, month, week, day, hour, minute, second, millisecond depending on what it stands to represent. Measuring time accurately has been one of the most challenging tasks ventured by mankind, despite the common belief that time is eternal.

Being on time. Completing a work in time. These two sentences clearly let us know the significance of time as a guiding mechanism.

We are more interested on how much time is remaining when we are transferring a file to another device from our computer or downloading a file from the internet.

People spend a lot of money just to save time. When a work is given to an employee, his salary indirectly reflects the amount of time he has saved to the company.

People take appointments to meet each other, especially medical specialist (doctors, surgeons, dentists). When people decide to meet after a long time, they fix on a time and a place.

We all live by 2 internationally followed time references
1) The B. C. (the birth of Christ)
2) The Greenwich meridian (for global time synchronization)

People tend to quote “Those were some of the best times” or say: “those were the days” when they refer to their past.

Past,  present and future are separations made by time.

Make good use of whatever time you get. Yes we tend to say that we are bored during nothing, It is not a bad idea to join a training course during the holidays if you know what training course is apt for you.

Students need to make good use of the available time during the day. It is very important to make sure you get enough sleep because health can degrade over time if sufficient sleep is not provided to the human body.

Fruits and vegetables rot over time. Animals become extinct over time and new species evolve. Time governs motion, heat dissipation, luminosity, diffusion of fragrance and colour. Glaciers melt and continents move over time. But what puzzles me the most about time is how, everything happens simultaneously in the universe. How ever mysteriously, subject syllabus varies very less (I have studied the same thing in engineering which my uncle once had (^_^) ).

Worship your time and respect others’ time.

Timing is very important for a joke to be successful. It is very important to make the right strategic move at the right time in a game of chess; or cricket for that matter. Well-timed scenes from movies win the hearts of millions, and can make the difference between a flop and a hit.

When it comes to business, it is very important to make decisions as to when a product is to be released and when an ad needs to appear on television to get a good customer response.

Causality dictates that the current state of the universe has been reached because of the series of events over time since the big bang. This might seem to explain everything; however there is more a role of chaos and uncertainty that makes it unjustifiable to make accurate predictions about future events.

Accurate Time measurements have been a very big goal in the past, where sun-dials, position of sun, moon, stars and observation of surroundings and animal behaviour patterns were relied upon to come to a conclusion about time. However it was not until the quartz clock and the Modern GPS that time accuracy could be standardized and verified worldwide.

Time is also a great conversations starting topic. When I have to chat to some unknown person on facebook, I start with a “what time is it over there?” Even in situations where you need to talk to some unknown person like say in a Bus you can use time as an excuse. And phrasing the question right can again help you have a wonderful conversation- ask a person “what is time?” (Purposefully leaving out the “the”) and you’ll either end up getting corrected or you’ll have a wonderful insight into the spiritual perspective of time! :P

It is a very common opinion that we are slaves of time. We tend to follow certain routine in our day to day lives to which we get acquainted to and find it hard to give up. For a person who gets up at 6 in the morning from a very early age it is difficult to suddenly adjust to getting up at 8 it might as well be the other way round. Eating, sleeping habits tend to form around time. The notion of being slaves to times probably comes from the fact that wrist watches somewhat look like chain armlets.

Time is a reality. Time is relative. Time is retrospective. Time is round. Ha ha ha ha, this is what time can do when you put your mind to something.

There are several movies which are centred on time. “The time machine” tells us how events are related in time. “The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons” tells a lot about time however this article is not the right place to discuss it. However to mention a few:
               1) The commemoration of the veterans with the reversed clock
               2) The reverse ageing of Benjamin Buttons
               3) The sequence of events that happen right on time leading to the accident

Time is often learnt referring to calendars and wrist watches these two are now accessible in mobile phones which may eventually lead to their extinctions.

Time has been the fascination of several leagues of mathematicians and scientists. It was in fact the accurate prediction of one of the results of solar eclipse, which first introduced Albert Einstein to the world. Time is one of the best teachers. Time teaches us that there is limit to everything achievable because our time itself is limited.

Many organizations and institutions have a time-tables and deadlines to ensure that a certain objective can be reached within a certain amount of time.

Different civilizations have had different units of measuring time. For instance, several civilizations had the 365 day cycle in an year. In India the Panchanga is a book that not only serves as a calender but also stands reference to astrological predictions. The Sun-dial, the hour-glass are some of the other famous time measurement inventions.

I have already spoken enough about time machines in my post "Eccentric's view into the reality of the time machine". However time has its own rules and don't be detered when something goes wrong in life. Take your own time in making decisions and make sure you get the best out of your time on earth.

Time in my life:
I have spent 4 hours of every day travelling between college and home in Bangalore during my engineering days. Though it might look insignificant, (24 – 8 (sleep) – 8.5 (college hours {8 – 4:30}) – 4  (travel) – 1.5 (morning to get ready) – 1 (relax from the travel)) which left me with 1 hour to myself at the end of the day, and my mom used to wonder why I was scoring average marks in during my Engineering life.

Sometimes all it takes is just a little more of time and effort to achieve what we want, while sometimes its just a waste of time. - Ganesh Kamath

Time matters a lot. The Round Trip Time is a measure of bandwidth and congestion in a computer network. Turn Around Time and Waiting Time are measures of performance of Operating Systems. Time to live decides the life time of a packet. Time to Market a product also matters a lot in industry and can make a difference of profit and loss.

Most Fairy tales begin with "Long ago in a distant land", Star Wars begins with "A Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away..."

There was a time when i wondered, 'What if the time of the universe runs out one day', but then there was no one to discuss this with and I present this to you today.

In South Canara, if you ask some one the distance between two places, they tell you the time instead. This is because, the highways here have very less traffic and they know that vehicles generally take the same time over a period, regardless of influencing factors. However, the same cannot be said about Bangalore.

When it comes to making a new World Record, it is usually a matter of milliseconds when it comes to Olympic records. However almost all records have a time factor.

Friday, January 13, 2012

fox and the grapes conundrum

Fox and the Grapes Conundrum:
“Fox and the grapes” is one of Aesop’s most famous fables. Almost all of us learn the story of the fox which goes something like, “One day a fox came across a wine of grape on its path, it tried its best to reach the bunch of grapes handing from the tree that was covered by the wines, after several tries the fox goes away comforting itself saying that the grapes are sour”. I read from Wikipedia that this principle is known as Cognitive Desonance, whereby, you decide to give some explanation in situations which are unfavourable or unexpected by you.

We must however appreciate the underlying the idea behind this story, that we tend to be the fox from the story. In fact we lead our entire lives hanging to the underlying principles portrayed in this story.

For instance, say you have gone out on a wonderful day to buy yourself a shirt, probably for your birthday (^_^). And you see 2 shirts in a shop both of which look very nice, however you have just enough money for one. In situations like, we see a case of cognitive desonance, we somehow logically conclude that one of the two shirts are better and buy it. And on asking why can come up with flaws that might not actually be there.

This kind of logic is built into the human system of thinking. We decide things spontaneously and expect everything to go fine. We are programmed to carry on, when there is situations like this.

There are several illustrations which one might have already experienced. For instance, in the game Super Mario, we have to spontaneously choose between where to go next when we enter the pipe at level 2. Where a user can go to level 3, 4, 5 next. In the game it is seen that people often differ in opinion when they are overcome by such a situation.

When asked to comment about a beautiful picture. It is found that different people observe different things about a picture. Like the saying goes, “Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder”. Every individual is unique and thinks differently. However the sees only what it wants to see so be sure you have exploited all options before concluding anything prematurely.

Though we tend to listen to the story of the fox and the grape. We realize its relevance only if we look back at our actions in day today life. This is one of the most consequential stories we tend to live by. For imagine if the fox kept going on and on, then nothing would have changed in its life.

While “Try and try until you succeed” stands to motivate the people who fail in some of their first few attempts. We are humans and we have limitations. It is possible to overcome some of them. However not everything has a true solution. Sometimes it is better to let things go, than to keep going on. “Most things need not be impossible, however, several things are illogical” - Ganesh Kamath.

At first we might not accept that we are like the fox because most tales from fables portray the fox as a cunning creature (probably including this one). However if you try to relate to the things that you desire as the grapes you will seen see what I mean here.

Learn from this story!!! Let go and keep moving forward. You might have seen a basketball player dunk. Where by the ring is over 9 feet high and might have tried doing it yourself. You might have even succeeded and might say that efforts bear fruits. Well look at it this way, instead of 9 feet if it was 9000 feet high, then the basket would not even be visible let alone you going for the dunk. Yes life is (a bitch) full of disappointment. But there are far better things to do than to think over and over about problems like these. When one door closes in our life we keep looking at the closed door for so long that we don't take the opportunity to venture other doors deterred by disappointment.

You might think of attacking this problem by reverse engineering the problem. Where in you can say that the wolf was stealthy enough to climb the tree and somehow managed to get the grape. Well we are looking at a different situation altogether now. For all you know, fox don’t eat grapes (^_~). There are several results we can derive if we look at the problem backwards...

I have seen the reverse engineered application of this problem first hand. For example, when you order a “Sev puri” and a friend comes close enough to take one of the “puri” from you, if you say that the “puri” is not good. He won’t take it from you. This is negative advertising and another defence mechanism which exists in the nature of human beings.
As human beings it is in our nature to make assumptions and conclusions, however, always keep it in mind that Wrong assumptions lead to wrong conclusions and the consequences can be severe in many real life situations.

P.S. : Those of you who have not yet referred to the word Conundrum, it means confusion in this context.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

My work experience at E Surveying Solutions

My work experience at E Surveying Solutions
I have worked in E Surveying Solutions in almost all of my Engineering vacations. It is a company my Uncle (Mother’s youngest brother), Mr. Kotaa Krishna Kamath (aka KKK) started after his previous work at Relyon Softech as Director, Founder and developer. I have done some small assignments at Relyon Softech such as setting up Interview Question Paper, Correcting Interview Answer sheets, reporting bugs in Saral Paypack and merging PDF documents of state-wise school surveys using PDFmerge. Though these assignments are very simple to complete, I was in first PUC when I did it (first PU is similar to 11th standard). Also I had no knowledge of any of these products. It was however notable that nobody qualified the aptitude paper that I set and they decided to revert to the old paper set after testing my paper for one day.

In the starting days of the company, when i first approached him, I wished to know a little about the work and help him in whatever way that I could. He showed me what I was supposed to do and was happy with whatever part I did.

My uncle is a Mechanical Engineer, who started a company that makes Softwares for Civil Drawing generation. The first thing one can notice about this is that, it’s a cross disciplinary company that is a combination of Mechanical, Computer Science and Civil Engineering, and I being an Electronics and Communication Engineer learnt a few basic works at the company.

My first assignment was to collect a list of Surveyors for his company to sell products to. The company makes Civil Software for Surveyors that will generate drawings in 2D and 3D for data collected from Ground Works, Drainage Channels, Road Elevation Data, Irrigation Canals, etc.

During the first assignment, I used to sit all day long making list of Surveyor’s all across the country. This work was important because, there is no list readily available online. It was my first experience with Microsoft Excel and though it began to feel monotonous, it left me with a good experience with the software. Also, when this work was first done, his office had just one computer so I had to go to a Browsing Centre to make the list. The next assignment was to make Crossword Puzzle that contained words to be organized into puzzle. As it turns out, It is so much easier to set a crossword puzzle than to solve them (^_^). I was also required to collect comics that contained survey jokes for a magazine Idea that he had in mind.

The next time when I went to ESS, I was given assignments which I could do at home, I was expected to find 30 bugs in his software, and after I did so, I had the rest of the day for myself, most often, I used to sit on an assignment about an hour before I had to go the office find the bugs and report the bugs to him. I approached him late during my next holidays, so that was the only assignment that I did. 

The bugs were reported as in standard testing format where Path to the window type of bug and a brief description of the nature of the bug were meant to be sent. The bugs were mostly of the Font type, tab-order reversal, alignment of various entities in a window, and the order in which the softwares gave the Run Time Error. 

Additionally the customers using this software were very fond of Key-board shortcuts so we began adding shortcut features to all the entities in the software. Later on we finalized with a common format for all shortcut display. My part was only to check if all the keys and tabs had a unique shortcut.

However, in my next holidays when i approached him, he showed me how I could test his softwares thoroughly. I learnt a little of Black Box testing. His product E Survey Sections was becoming a very good success in Survey industry. He was still running the company all by himself. He took me to 2 places where he did his marketing. It was fun to see how varied his customers and their offices were. Additionally it was discovered that different resolutions, themes and other default settings also affected the working of the software, and new test cases were added as an when new challenges were encountered in testing.

The company makes softwares which can be run independently on their own, but when the software is combined with the output of Excel and CAD, and the kind of people who have working knowledge in them have limitless uses for his softwares because While drawings can be accurately drawn in CAD, the data tabulation and analysis features given by Excel, run hand in hand and make the biggest of difficulties look simple and help in automation of work.

The next holidays when I got there, I did a thorough black box testing of his various softwares, now there were different softwares to deal with specific requirements from customers. E Survey CAD, E Survey Lisps, E Quick Sections, E Topodraw were some of them. It was about time that the testing procedures were standardized and we began noting down some instances of test cases that needed to be done on each product from there on. It was at the end of this holidays that new employees like Praveen, Shashank, Hamsa had joined the Company. Just before I left for the next semester college, my last assignment was to teach them how to test softwares and I kind of gave them an overview of all the products. Another assignment which I remember doing at that time was a report on GPS and various historical advancements that could make a good use of the GPS facility. 

This was particularly needed because survey was looking for various benefits from GPS and the Total Station Land Navigation Equipment which was needed for the survey was often with errors. The softwares developed from company could generate the required drawings directly from the Total Station Data.

The next holidays when I got there, I was required to learn basics of CAD. So we started going to Kruthi Centre for learning CAD as part of the training. I had basic knowledge of AutoCAD until then, but I learnt so much more at Kruthi about 2D, 3D drafting and the newly introduced features of AutoCAD such as export of tables to Excel directly from AutoCAD. I even got to learn AutoDesk Inventor software. The best part however was that the Training was fun, interesting, the company paid for it and I had to work only half a day during training. It was also the time when I learnt how to make video tutorials using SnagIT software, so I made videos of AutoCAD of the training that we had been to, so that employees could learn from the videos instead. In most cases, the person using the softwares was required to use Notepad ++, Excel, AutoCAD so in short, I have learnt a lot of these softwares. The company had made an irrigation project called Ayacut and had released a special software by the name Ayacut to deal with various parameters in designing Irrigation channels.

In the next holidays my uncle began with teaching me Visual Basics, it is a fun to learn programming language, however, seems like I neglected it a bit while I had the chance and went back to testing the softwares after the first assignment on VB. If you ask me, he is the only person who can teach VB in that fashion. Learning VB also helped me report bugs more accurately, because I now knew the different window components such as tabs, menu-bars, panes, textboxes, buttons, radio buttons, checkboxes, dropdown menus and many more. I wrote a code that did the same as Microsoft Calculator using VB. 

By this time, the customers of ESS had begun to ask for help files. And documentation of all the products began. At first the theory behind the working of various theorems. One particular assignment I had done under this was Simpson’s one third rule of integration. This was so because the next semester we had Simpson’s Rules in our syllabus. Documentation helped me learn a lot about text formatting and indentation along with table and picture manipulation under Microsoft Word.

The next holidays when I got there, I learnt that the company had now over 26 products in the market (which included E Survey CAD, E TopoDraw, E Contours, E Survey Lisp, Ayacut, E EarthWorks, Crispy Lisp, E Survey Section, Survey Aid )(I particularly had fun with E Contours, having learnt CAD I had a knowledge of how I could manipulate a drawing), each tailor-made for specific requirements. In this Holiday, however, I was required to make AutoCAD ribbons, Since Customization was part of the CAD training at Kruthi, I knew where to begin this assignment, however I only managed to make rough ribbon outlook that did nothing when buttons were pressed. I thought it needed some kind of ‘Lisp’ knowledge and began looking for solutions in Lisp, unfortunately this was not so, however, in my quest, i learnt about different versions of AutoCAD such as AutoCAD 14 and all succeeding versions of AutoCAD and learnt how each version varied from the next. One of the Assignments during these holidays was to analyze Bazier splines (Bazier Smooth Polylines) and to check out how they weighed against AutoCAD’s spline feature. Shashidhar had just joined the company and he was a programmer. I was required to explain to him how the spline Equation worked and he was required to program it. This was the first time I learnt Maths online (^_~). It is amazing how splines can approximate to real world curves. 

Additionally Delaunay’s Triangulation was a part of the next assignment and it was fun to study it. This triangulation was needed for AutoCAD to generate drawings quickly and efficiently by reducing the overhead in calculating the easiest way to draw in a drawing with several thousands of points. 

Lisp is a very easy to learn programming language, though lisp is mostly used for CAD purposes (because it was designed that way) today Lisp serves several applications. 

I also learnt additional CAD softwares such as GStarCAD, ZWCAD and BricsCAD. The Lisp Script needed to be tested in these softwares for consistency and it was essential that all these softwares responded for the various Lisps.

In my last and final holidays of engineering, when I first got there, I was required to find Google Earth API for finding the Z co-ordinate of a point at any point on earth, given the X, Y coordinates. I learnt a few special features that were present in Google Earth while on this assignment. It was something totally different from all my previous assignments and fun in its own way. After this assignment was done, I tested E SurveyLisps, E SurveyCAD and E TopoDraw where bugs regarding calculation errors and output representation needed reporting.

After this was done for the next 10 or so days, I got an opportunity to make ribbons again, only this time, the company had found a very good solution to making ribbons automatically and I was required to test consistency of spelling, shortcuts and representations of various fields in the ribbon. It was a good learning experience. After I completed this assignment, I was required to test the source-code of the softwares and make corrections wherever I felt appropriate.

This work was really amazing. I got to learn how complex a software code can become if not handled properly. Punctuation (in warnings and message box) and Comments can play a colossal role in writing a code. We at ESS were now planning on starting projects under Water supply and Water Management.

I was given an Excel sheet and find out how water distribution calculations were taking place at different points of the Excel sheet. I had to first document the findings and report it to the developers there. I learnt a lot on how complicated a City’s water design can be. There are several mathematical aspects that need to be taken care of while designing a Sewage system and rain water drain. After a satisfactory amount of study was done, we decided to organize a water supply design workshop on EPAnet. This workshop was organized at Hotel Parijatha GateWays and most of my uncle’s Customers enthusiastic in this software had come from different parts of India. It was fun to organize and learn the software firsthand from the people from EPAnet. It was fun learn, download tutorials, burn the contents and label the CDs for the workshop.

It was also the time we started looking for customers on an international level. Our products had been proved to be consistent in Dubai, Philipines and Africa. However the standards needed a makeover and work began on how to solve problems regarding different file formats such as CSV. Different countries follow different formats of data representation such as a choice between comma or space to separate numerals, to represent decimals as subscript, superscript, comma, semicolon etc. And we needed to make solutions to these entities based on requirements. Further, the company had undertaken good measures to help customers learn from help videos which can be found on their youtube channel. Then company has also begun to provide details of various CAD and Excel usage information to beginners in the field from their blog

One of the most remarkable thing that happened during this tenure was however that I got called for a meeting on deciding what changes needed to be done to improve their YouTube videos. It was as if a meeting is no different than any other conversation, except that you need to be sure about whatever you have to put across.

Work Culture:
I have seen a lot of variation in work culture during my service to ESS. The office starts at 9:30 and you can go home when your work for the day is done. I don’t really know the closing time but I suppose it is 6:00 PM because that’s when everyone else usually left. Afternoon there is break of 1 hour for lunch. Evening everyone takes break for snacks at about 5:00 PM, however, not everyone leaves the office at the same time. The company provides support by Phone, TeamViewer and Skype. Some people go a bit late for the break because at least one person is required to provide support at any time. Interviews are conducted and candidates who pass the aptitude are called for a technical round based on performance. Employees are given a definite assignment which they are required so complete by a specified time. Mr. Indrajeet makes amazing drawings using different drawing tools for the company products and other company requirements. And I would like to thank Mr. Arshal for the countless number of chocolates that he used to distribute. 

P.S. The company has now been renamed to E Surveying Softech India (Pvt.) Ltd.

What did I learn from all this?
* I got to use my knowledge in properly formatting text documents which has helped me in several report submissions. 
* I learnt the importance of Punctuality and time-management.
* I got to apply a lot of what i already knew and learnt many new skills.
* I spent my holidays in a pleasant way.
* I got good exercise walking 2 Km everyday, something that I very much need now at Manipal.
Some quick links to the company's resources:
  1. Esurveying -
  2. ESurveyCAD -
  3. Blog Survey Drawing -
  4. Esurvey Earth -
  5. Esurvey Lisp -
  6. Quick help for all the products -
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