Business

phdcomics at umich

Jorge Cham giving talk! Jorge Cham signing books!

PhdComics creator Jorge Cham was at school today giving a talk on every grad student’s favorite topic, procrastination. Got my books signed, and did the usual fanboying that is expected of me getting my picture taken with him! Really enjoyed the talk — it was almost like standup, although I did feel it was a little too simplistic for the audience. I know it’s hard to put a lot of serious content into a light hearted lecture, but it would have been nice to hear about related things such as structured procrastination and other such topics that usually haunt the “advice” section of eminent faculty’s homepages.

Some interesting things from the talk:

* Average annual stipend of a grad student in the U.S.: $14055. Average annual salary of a McDonalds employee in California: $14040. Which means we can afford an extra $15 CD once a year. Whee.

* It is not important that Isaac Newton was sitting under an apple tree when he discovered gravity. The important point is why was Mr. Newton sitting under an apple tree, slacking off, instead of working hard at his desk?

* A person in the audience shared an anecdote about how he ran an experiment five minutes before coming to the talk, and found out that he’s invalidated his advisors theories, etc. Jorge hears that and says, in a fearful voice: RUN!!”.

things i have done in the last few days

1. Had dinner at Mongolian Barbecue. Interesting place : they do it on the grill! The grillers are one merry bunch: spending hours in that hot, loud, noisy grill arena, singing, cheering — they almost make it seem like it’s an extreme sport. Would love to work there for a very short while. Follow that up with Chocolate Therapy at Ben & Jerry’s, and I’m a happy man.

2. Saw V for Vendetta – nice movie.

3. Met Arnab, Kaushik’s cousin. It’s always fun to meet a namesake.

4. Played with a friend’s Macbook Pro. The first thing I noticed was: Ooh, it’s thin! I’m finding it very hard to resist buying one.

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arnab zeitgeist, 2005

Wow, what a year. Highlights from 2005:

  • Lived in 4 cities, 2 countries.

Mumbai, Jan-April: Finished my stint as a research assistant at IIT Bombay. Kept cribbing about how sad my life was back then, but the experience was totally worth it.

Delhi, April-May: No place like home. Rest and Relaxation time.

Bangalore, May-August: The wild, wild life of a software company intern. Play foosball all day[Ok, I did do some work; it’s hard not to do work when you’re working with such amazing people!], get off work, do FreshLimeSoda+DosaCurry at Pecos/Mojos, do random timepass at CMH Road / Brigade Road, reach Guest House late at night, wake up at 10 to breakfast and VH1 in Bed. Aah, the good life!

Ann Arbor, August-Now: My first experience outside India, spending the first few weeks thinking “This is not too bad…”; and then getting caught in the storm of activity that was the first semester of grad school. Now that it’s over, I must say it was fun. Could have done better, but I’m not disappointed with how I fared.

  • Cooked Prawns in Butter Pepper Garlic for a group of hungry girls
    I have never seen a whole platterful of prawns disappear in 30 seconds. You know you got it right when they lick even the garlic off the plate :)
  • Moved around quite a bit.
    Cities / Towns I have been to this year (in random order)
    Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Goa, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Frankfurt, Ann Arbor, Detroit, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas.
  • Started grad school
    Embarked on a multiyear expedition; an attempt to become Dr. Arnab. This has been the most difficult and important decision I have ever taken in my life, with all common sense pointing in the other direction. I’m really interested to see how this works out.
  • Bought my first Mac
    An old, second generation iMac, but the OS X experience is worth the money I paid for it and more.
  • Unbroke my heart
    For sure this time. Or so it seems :)
  • Spent an insane amount of money on my teeth
    If there is one advice I have to give to anyone, it is: TAKE CARE OF YOUR TEETH. DENTAL WORK IS FRIGGIN EXPENSIVE.

This year has probably been the best year in my entire life. A lot has changed, hopefully for the better. I’m really looking forward to next year: 2006, let’s see what you bring!

Tag Soup

Here's a List of all the tags(categories, labels, whatever you call them) used at arnab.org:

Arnab's Potato Peeling Algorithm

I've been using this method for a while now, and thought it would be nice to OpenSource it. It's great for peeling any amount of potatoes, and is much less wasteful than the conventional potato peeler method. Arnab's Potato Peeling Algorithm is licensed under the GPL. For best results, use fresh potatoes.

       
  1. Take a clean pad of your favourite abrasive based utensil cleaner (I use ScotchBrite). Make sure it's not the same one that your maid used to scrub the greasy dishes at home, or your potatoes will have that funny, soapy, smelly flavour. Trust me, I speak from experience.
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idyaDBX released

I'm happy to announce the release of idyaDBX: the new name for the DBX project. We're calling this idyaDBX instead of just DBX to avoid getting confused with all the other things named DBX: we're sick of people emailing us with their Outlook Express issues (go here, people!).

There are many cool things other than just the new name. The most important of which are the new licensing terms, where we're open-sourcing idyaDBX. By default, idyaDBX is available under the Q Public License, a OSI-compatible license that allows redistribution (without modification) of idyaDBX for non-commercial software. There are also some contributed fixes and minor tweaks in the code. In addition to this, we've moved the project to SourceForge and have redone the website: lots of new features to facilitate the project's progress.

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clear danger

During the pesticide-in-your-drink fiasco, I was tempted to try the DS group's recently launched Catch Clear brand of flavoured water. The promos and packaging were not too shabby, so I thought it was worth spending one and a half times the amount I'd spend on a Coke.

And it was quite nice. Not worth 15 rupees, but still nice. It wasn't too fizzy - just the right amount of effervesence. The taste was a little like medicine, but the flavour made up for it. And the best part of them all: The calorie chart! It said: Zero Calories!! So here was my perfect drink- cold, fizzy, refreshing, no caffeine, and absolutely, zero, calories.

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westward ho!

Good news: After my exams, I shall be spending a fornight in Mumbai, where I'm going to attend a course at IIT Powai about UNL. Really looking forward to meeting all the blog people... there's quite a bunch there!

So in case there's any trainee assassins who'd like to practice a bit of sharpshooting on the 1st of June, I'm the dark-skinned, (now) fat guy getting off the airplane at Santa Cruz Airport.

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devnagari script kiddies

This news at Linux Delhi's site made me chuckle:

Two school students, Avneesh Chhabra (15) and Shivaas Gulati (15) designed a Hindi Devanagri font for an inter-school contest. They won the event, received assurances from Microsoft that the Seattle-based company may be interested in licensing the fonts from them, and then, on 25 November 2002, decided nevertheless to publish the fonts under the freedom-based Lesser Gnu Public License (LGPL).

The Inter-School contest was MODEM 2002 - I was there to conduct a quiz. The Font Design event was being held for the first time. The objective was to make an ITRANS mapped Unicode Hindi Font and it was quite exciting to see the entries, and the approaches used. Some guys had actually scanned and vectorized Hindi characters written with pencil on paper. Some entries looked like hacks of presently available stuff.

open source and making money from it

This article has a good analogy: Normal software is like selling Coke - you have the secret formula and you're trying to get it to as many people as possible. Open Source is like selling bottled water. People have it, but you're still selling it to them.

This article gives some information about licensing etc., but it generally says the same thing. You're still selling something that's free. The only reason people will be buying it from you is because your bottle looks snazzier (easy to use Interface), they can get your brand everywhere (good distribution), and you provide cool things with your bottle (accessories, tools, training, support...).

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