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Monday, February 25, 2008

Business Trip and marriage!

I may well be on my first business trip in the US - or for that matter - ever!! The Graphing Social Patterns Conference (West) is going to take place in San Diego, CA on March 3-4. I have an important meeting that i just cannot miss on the 4th back at Gates, so i definitely cannot be there for both the days, but even the first has some really good sessions lined up. And plus, San Diego is less than 2 hours away by air and hopefully i can get a ticket for less! (Fingers crossed) But the problem is that I, being the poor grad student that i am, dont have the money to actually pay the $795 registration fee for the conference. Thats where i am using my network! The conference planner/organizer - Dave McClure (the guy in the picture above) has been my professor in the Stanford Facebook Course - and so i called Dave up late Sat evening but he was putting his kids to bed. So i called up again Sunday morning and he said he might be able to get me some sort of discount. Well, I would definitely need a very heft discount!!! But, whatever, if he does manage to get me a discount, I am buying the ticket!!

I would have loved for Suchit to be on that plane with me if I did in fact go, but unfortunately Suchit is busy with stuff around those dates. So he cannot make it! So while we are talking about Suchit, i think this provides the perfect segway into explain my relationship status on facebook - I am married to this bastard!! Can you believe it?? Well, its just a relationship status and so please do not attribute much more to it - its a few mouse clicks gone wrong and as such i have had enough keechad (mud) slanged on me because of that - but i assure you of my chastity! The reason for that status is that we guys spent so much time together recently because we were/are working our ass of on stuff on facebook and other more mainstream consumer internet ideas that it seemed that we were almost married! And our happiness lied in each other happiness!! So, to sensationalize the matter, this step of changing the relationship status was taken. As such I believe if you are looking to form a team with someone to work on an idea - you should try to envision in your head - how would u feel if you were married to the person in question - coz being the initial members of an idea-execution-team requires a lot of discipline, effort, work, hard work, etc...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Why you should write? And other short stories!

So I am definitely of the opinion that no matter which field of study you belong to, no matter what you do in your life, no matter how rich or how poor you are - YOU SHOULD WRITE! Why..why...why the hell - your information starved soul asks - why should we all write?? Well, there are many things here - but the one thing that is important is that writing makes you reflect on what you are, what you are doing, where you are heading - sort of an exercise in introspection! In fact i heard somewhere, that someone had advised someone else that while they are in college - they should write everyday!

Now some of the writing can be personal which you dont want everyone reading - so maintain a personal diary of sorts - you dont have to always blog your brains out - just buy a notebook and a pen and keep it by your bedside, or your study so that its out there where you can see it - with easy access - i think i should stop before i sound like a daadi maa - (grand mother!)

Another thing writing helps you do is - being a sort of healing process - it becomes a vent for so many things pent up in that dark closet called "ur brain"!

There are many other reasons like - increasing ur typing speed - helping with spellings/grammar etc...but well you know better! I should end now - i m dragging this blog post like Ekta Kapoor drags her serials!! Oh my God how do people even tolerate this!! BTW - interesting piece of trivia -- OK OK BEFORE THAT - i just received my first edition of the Harvard Business Review - I was gifted a 1 year subscription by Awantika on my birthday - and i am soooo excited about it!! Anyways, I read in HBR that just one show on star TV - KBC increased the market share of star TV from 20% to 80% - not only KBC but all other shows increased their TRPs thru it!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bill Gates on Software, Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Giving Back

Written in a very journalistic-notes format:

bill gates lecture - on software innovation entrepreneurship and giving back

really preppy background music before the start of the key note at the memorial auditorium

ladies and gentlemen - please welcome president john hennessy

President Hennessy -
"our students cannot imagine a world without pcs
about gates - he had a vision of building a stand alone software company

about stanford family - retail business and then rail roads

HP - first silicon valley start up

I served on the board of MSR (Microsoft Research)

dedication to serving the public good
find solutions to the worlds most challenging problems
research and teaching tha can make diff in the lives of people
mid-1990s - MS was taking all his time
at that point they didnt have the time
in 97 they started the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation

Please join me in welcoming Bill Gates to our camapus"

Gates -
"Its great to be back here at Stanford - MS CEO went to Stanford - though he never completed his degree!! We owe a lot to this school - and collaboratioon that is going on today - really are fantastic...I spent the afternoon talkin to the faculty and shring ideas -my optimism about tech is deeply underscored by these developments and research...

Now I am full time at the foundation and part time at MS - who knows what it will be like to make the change - i have been working on MS since i was 17 - every day i worked on it - so i thought it might be tough!

The video ended by describing Bill as a person "who just doesnt believe in paying more then 7 $ for a hair cut"!

what software will do in the future:

initially no one thought of software being important at all - it was mostly bundled with hardware- computers it self were more threatning - people thought punch cards to be stapled with bills to mess up the main frames - we had to believe that the cost of the hardware would go down - and volumes would go up and only then would software would become a gigantic industry. today this industry is gigantic and the range of solutions is incredible -

10 years ago i talked aobu the digital age - 10 years later many of those activities in the rich countries we take for granted - my daughter doesnt know what a record is - phone book or a print based encyclopedia would be equally antiquated.

the impact of this second digital decade will be far more dramatic - part of it coz the foundation we have - over a billion PCs - many billions of mobile fones - over 300 broadband connections - China has more broadband than America - its fantastic tha tthe internet has made the world a smaller place than it was - now almost everything should be digital - thats a big mindset change - even for education - test scores see correlations etc - education will split into different things - how many univs should give lectures on physics - very few coz who ever does that well should put it out on the internet and so - you have the best teachers of college curriculum - for now mostly MIT - but i expect something from Stanford soon.

for someone who works in an office - they are information starved - try to look at key indicators- to collaborate with people far off - these people are not yet fully impowered - shall i send email or instant messaging - its way better than it was 10-20 years ago but its nowhere close to where it could be. You are shortening design life cycle. Power of software will give them better tools - not only to model - but better understand what they are doing.

What Gordon moore said will remain true for the next 10 years - the bottle neck are seen only at a few places - brute force of clock speed is not going to help us - as we connect public data - we need privacy - security - proper controls - there are some fundamental advancements in CS that we need to drive - cameras that when combined with software to find who is where and so on -

natural user interface - like IPhone - MS Surface - i am a big believer in - and keep investing in - is the tablet device - cheap - eventual replacement for the paper based life -
now we are talking about not just computers on the desk but also computers in the desk which knows where you keep things and so on...we need a whole new generation of software who can use that...

dichotomy of video on TV and video on internet will be brought together - there is no dividing line between video games and TV - they are part of the same spectrum - today we are still very device centric and rely on the users to tranfer data from pc to mobile to pc - when we have the infinite power in the cloud - we can do that for the user -

failure of abstraction - image 2 banks with almost same product offerings but if you see their underlying systems you can find a million lines of code that is different - failure of abstraction - and so we should have the immense computation to get to better abstractions -

we spend a bit over $6B a year on long term research - its surprising to me how little research is funded by industry - now we see a range of cos like GE saying that this is an important thing - unfortunately what happened was that companies like Bell Labs, PARC etc who did spend money on research ended up not being able to gain the monetary benefits from it - as much as they would have liked to - this became a bad learning for other companies..

when we think about pure science the role of software is becoming important - back in the day when asked what is the language of science - it was math - today - its software like databases/analysis software for massive amount of data -

On giving back---
ratio of the money spent on baldness compared to malaria is 50 to 1. we have this disparity - as great as our system is - it doesnt encourage an indsutry if there is not a market for it - we need to have univs and industry to work on stuff whos' success is measured by not the market forces but other sources - we have one group in MSR India which is a group of social scientists who go out there into the rural areas with TV and DVDs to help the people there and how technology can work.

One of the things i will be spending time on is reaching out to univs and companies - to try to make them do more - univs have a big role to play here - students should not be allowed to graduate without having had a first hand experience to what is going on in other parts of the world -

its a wonderful time to be a student and see the great work you can do.

Back from sabbatical!

Its been such a long time since i got to write another blog post. Its not that i got bored or anything, its just that we (I and Suchit) have been extremely busy working our asses off on facebook and other stuff outside of course work and research. I would probably start showing signs of Carpel Tunnel syndrome if i started to write about all my experiences between Nov 5 2007 and now - its been a helluva ride! And it has really - no kiddin - and it continues to be exciting timed looking forward. Its amazing how much these past few months have taught me about business in general, and internet commerce in particular. And also picked up good skills while i was at it - like photoshop and a few hacks in mysql and and php!

Today i just want to write a few words - wanna head to bed soon - but this being a long weekend, me and suchit had decided to go on a weekend get away. The best i could think of was going kayaking in Monterey and we loved it. Mona and Neha decided to come along and we had the most fun times in recent history - which in internet lingo is =~ 4 weeks! I like kayaking coz its on water - i have never been afraid of water but i never actually got a chance to swim, or ever live close to a water body to which i had access to. Granted that i lived close to the Ganges in Allahabad for 4 year, I never actually took the holy dip until the final days in college - that too was a very memorable experience for me. I think water in general has a good, soothing effect on me! I recommend Monterey Bay Kayaking to everyone! And a nice soothing antakshari session in a hot tub after that :-)

Also, today I got in the mail this years first edition of the Harvard Business Review - my birthday present from Awantika! So, i am going to close on this post right now and try to read a bit of that before sleeping. God, also need to read Obama - Audacity of Hope - and then what about coursework!! Ahhh...another day in the life of a grad student!