scalable oxymoron

Just encountered a funny error at one of the blogs I read:

That being said, High Scalability is a must read for server people; consistently great content, news and linkage:

This site tries to bring together all the lore, art, science, practice, and experience of building scalable websites into one place so you can learn how to build your website with confidence.


Math's Kool with Tyler Neylon

Googler Tyler Neylon just launched , a website for teaching kids math. In his own words :

This is a website I’ve been working on for the past month, meant to help connect great math teachers with motivated middle and high school students. The idea is to provide a centralized library that many math teachers can contribute to, and which gives students free access to short, focused videos.

This is exactly what the internet needs. Great job, Tyler! My first interaction with Tyler was during my Google internship phone interviews, where we were trying to figure out if I could work with his team.

Here’s a tutorial on distributive properties and combining expressions. Things I love about this movie is that it starts with “Hey how’s it going.”, and then “I go to Target and buy six copies of Mario Kart…. I like Mario Kart.” Kids, this is a guy who has a PhD in math… you should watch his videos!

My year in cities, 2008

This year was less crazy than last year . Nonetheless, here is a list of cities I have visited in the year 2008:

  • Seattle (+Bellevue +Redmond)
  • Traverse City, MI
  • Los Angeles
  • Las Vegas
  • Mumbai
  • Delhi
  • Kolkata
  • Fairfield, CA
  • San Francisco
  • Mountain View, CA

And of course, home snowy home:

  • Ann Arbor, MI

Here’s wishing all my dear readers a wonderful and happy new year ahead!

CSE Video!

My department released an awesome video capturing the various aspects of our school. It features many of my professors and buddies.


Slideshare Office 2007 Ribbon

Kapil’s company Slideshare just launched export-from-Powerpoint functionality:


It Happens Only In India

This Idol Worship Under Tree Session is brought to you by Shark Tooth Vodka:

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I did not plan it this way.
I did not choose to inflict this
upon myself, upon you, upon this world.
But the symptoms are clear.
My mind is calm.
My heart is peaceful.
My being has purpose.
Call it what you may
While you may have taught me how to see this world
I still see it differently.
While my existence is for you and because of you
Your flaws are still your flaws.
They do not transform from what they are
into magical axioms that I am meant to live by.
My truths are different from yours.
My thoughts are still mine.
One would think that a lifetime of knowing them would help
in understanding them.
This disease as you call it,
I wish you could see it from here.
I wish you could see how this invasion is anything but.
I wish you could see beyond the veils;
Understand. Appreciate.
Discover how this ailment is actually
A cure for impediments you chose to live by.
Realize how this path I take
Is the one you once wished for me
and that its culmination is in fact what you desire.

I did not choose this incurrence.
But it is how I will defend your legacy.

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If I had a million dollars

If I had a million dollars to spend, I would invest them in these two things:

Preventative secondary healthcare for rural areas:

They are not doctors. They are not nurses. They are illiterate women from India’s Untouchable castes. Yet as trained village health workers, they are delivering babies, curing disease, and saving lives—including their own.

and Cell Phones for developing areas :

Mobile phone ownership in India is growing rapidly, six million new mobile subscriptions are added each month and one in five Indian’s will own a phone by the end of 2007. By the end of 2008, three quarters of India’s population will be covered by a mobile network. Many of these new “mobile citizens” live in poorer and more rural areas with scarce infrastructure and facilities, high illiteracy levels, low PC and internet penetration.

this one's for YOU


Obama vs McCain : A management perspective

There has been a lot of debate and noise about the 2008 US election. Politics, ethics and opinions aside, let’s think about this from a simple facts-and-numbers perspective. Ignore all the controversy of popular vote vs electoral college, etc etc. Let’s consider the contest in the way it’s defined right now.

You have finite resources, and you need to win the election. It costs a fixed amount of effort to convince each person. What’s the most optimal way to win an election?

So you run an optimized campaign. You strategize and make a campaign that gives you a much better “bang for buck”. In a perfect world, you should spend enough time to convince as little over 50% of each constituency and then move on, since you’ve won there and you should spend your resources elsewhere. This should be the primary objective function to measure a campaign’s efficacy.

Using numbers from the Wikipedia :
Obama : 66,495,308 votes, 365 electoral votes. 365/66 = 5.5
McCain : 58,123,419 votes, 162 electoral votes. 162/58= 2.79

Hence, we can see that Obama’s campaign was TWICE more efficient than McCain’s.

If the ability to lead a campaign is any reflection of leadership of the country, this does seem like a decisive victory in leadership skills.

Now, in case someone argues that Obama had more money, let’s look at spending reports from
Obama : 640M$ = 1.75M$ per electoral vote
McCain : 370M$ = 2.28M$ per electoral vote

Again, Obama was 1.3 times more efficient with his donation money.

So overall, 2x efficiency in campaign effort, and 1.3x efficiency in use of money. What I see is a great contest in management, with a clear winner.