Saturday, February 25, 2006

All the best B-schoolers!

It’s that time in life when you don’t want something to happen, but know real well that it’s going to. Yes, at long last, I’ve decided against prolonging the ‘parting’ post.

With just about 3 more days to go, the mood is all set for departure from the campus. All classes, exams, parties – including the farewell one, last minute games, eat-outs, movie outings, digital collections and group outings are over. What is left is the final placement process. For the ones who are content with the lateral offer(s) that one’s got till date, there isn’t even a placement process to look forward to. It’s like a double edged sword. For people who are participating in the placements, the ‘departure’ feelings are subdued with the expectations of how they are going to fare in the process. For the rest who don’t have the burden of mulling over what companies to apply to and what not to, the fact that life in the campus is over looms hard.

For me though, it’s been a mixture of feelings. I wonder why I really haven’t been significantly impacted by the prospect of leaving. May be coz I’m old (mature?) enough, or may be coz I’ve seen too many departures and learned to live on. But what is true is that it’s been a terrific fun-filled ride throughout, with arguably some of the smartest people in the country. And I’m so glad I went through this. [But yes, almost everyone in a similar situation says such stuff. So, what the heck? I’ll stop right here. I’d probably devote a separate post to what my initial expectations from an IIM were and how much I’ve been satisfied.]

But the essence is: the placement days are going to be quite an experience for a lot of B-schoolers. Those 2/3 days could decide between what you were all this time and what would become of you. So, here’s wishing all luck to B-schoolers who are about to participate in the placement program. All the best guys!

The latest digital acquisition

I wouldn’t have mentioned about this but for Jam. :-) Anyway, I just got myself a Sony DSCW5 DigiCam. This happens to be the second working digital cam in my home, but I couldn’t resist purchasing it since the existing one is fully automatic - the other (rather rosy) way to say that you just can’t tweak any setting to make the photo look the way you want.

Here’s the pic of the one I bought.

I’m right now tweaking with all the manual settings, with a photography book by my side, but I’ve already noted the following points… just in case if someone is interested in the specs.

The good things

2.5 Sq. inch LCD screen: Gives an awesome preview to the photo.
Sturdy: Read somewhere that it didn’t break after a 3 feet drop! It certainly isn't sleek and 'cool looking' and all, but gives a sturdy feel in the hand, probably due to its build.
Decent specs: 5.1 MPs, 3x Optical zoom, very low noise even at high ISO.
Scene modes: 7 scene modes, in addition to the auto.
Controls: Auto plus manual settings to tweak ISO, Aperture opening, Shutter speed, White balance modes, real fast boot, and minimum shutter lag.

The not-so-good things

Based on my basic experience with photography till now, here’s what I’m missing.

ISO: Would’ve great with ISO 50 and ISO 800 or more modes.
Focus: 3X is very average, more so since aperture suffers at zoom.
Shutter priority and aperture priority: Although this can be accomplished manually, auto settings for these would’ve been just great.

In all, I guess it comes as a great deal for someone who doesn’t want to go to the next level. Ofcourse, SLRs are a class apart and they come at quite a price tag. I’m hoping to move ahead to one in a year or two…

I've started a photo blog (A pixel entourage) that contains some initial images now. Expert photograhy tips and advice most welcome!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Unity in diversity?

Some of those salt/pepper sprayers in our mess were thrown away, and the ones below came in.

One microlook, and you see this.

I guess the name of the brand is 'Rajasthan', which is written in Telugu, and the company is located in Chennai. What a way to put it! :)

Monday, February 13, 2006

Coimbatore – Destination Next?

Circa 1998. Bombs ripped apart the city, and the unanimous opinion that everyone had about Coimbatore was that the city was doomed, forever. That was the time when I happened to be in my final days of schooling and I still can’t forget the terror we all went through. With endless rumors of unattended parcels and abandoned vehicles, days were dark. Even simple things like parking a car had to be done with utmost caution, we were told. Shops were closed, factories shut down, and economy was in deep trouble.

1998 wasn’t long ago.

It’s astonishing how things could change so fast. From being labeled as the ‘bomb city’, the only talk surrounding Coimbatore seems to be around the boom and whether the city is equipped enough to handle it. I wouldn’t have written this article if I hadn’t been spell-bounded by the unprecedented attention on the city. Even if there isn’t really much happening on the ground, I guess the buzz is a fair indication of the days to come.

IT’s destination Next?

Articles these days talk about Coimbatore being all set for a take off. Notables include L&T massive Engineering related investment, TCS, Wipro and CTS - Elnet’s existing IT operations and the coming-up of the Tidel-style IT park. The IT prospects of the city isn’t surprising considering the fact that PWC rated Coimbatore as among three other cities with considerable IT potential. What is surprising is how even IT companies from elsewhere are considering the city for entering India, very unlike how Indian IT giants consider it only after Tier-I city options are exhausted.

A 2003 Economic Times article on Coimbatore and its IT potential cited that the biggest problem with the city is the lack of air connectivity. But over the 3 years, the number of airline brands hopping into the city airport has increased from just 2 to over 7, with 4 low cost airliners connecting all important locations across the country. The total passengers using the airport were a record 62,000 plus in December 2005. More international connectivity is on the cards.

To sum it up, a Hindu MetroPlus article has a decent SWOT analysis on the city.

Part and parcel of the industry boom is the real estate boom: The availability of Rs. 1.5 crore apartments in Coimbatore, similar to metros.

The downsides

While it’s clear that the city might see some action soon, what is not clear is the downside such a boom will bring along. Absence of metro-style “hang outs”, pubs, party-houses, watering holes, gaming zones notwithstanding, will Coimbatore, in case of such a boom, really brace up to provide all the facilities to people coming along? Will the existing “culture” of the city blend with the mixture of culture an IT boom will typically bring in? Will other industries brace up to the challenge in the form of finding quality manpower? More importantly, will the city take the economic load and its side-efffects?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The other side of IIMs?

I came across this good article on what ails the IIMs. I must acknowledge that it’s a very decent effort on part of Apurv to give the other side of the story, but I feel some points have been over-emphasized. I agree whole-heartedly about students being disinterested in second year, lack of research, infrastructure in some of the old IIMs being bad etc, but here are my add-ons to the article.

National demand of 20,000 IIM students per year:

I agree that 1,500 is a paltry number when it comes to number of pass-outs every year. But I really don’t think a 20,000 count is where we want to head. Looking at the industry recruitment trends, there is sure some room for say 2500 more, but I feel it would be a disaster to increase the number any point beyond. For one, there are other good B-schools that chip-in in the gap. Two, with that kind of a massive number, there would just be too much of difference within the IIMs. In other words, there would be a huge quality difference between the top IIM students and the bottom ones, which isn’t really good for anyone. Remember, the numero uno reason why IIMs, in general, are considered good is because of the quality of intake. If numbers swell and intake goes down in quality, it is something to worry about. And salaries are something you can’t ignore. You really wouldn’t want to pass out from an IIM only to know that some of the non-IIT Engineering pass-outs earn more than you.

About International ranking:

The other issue that comes often is how IIMs are never among the top-50 B-schools in the world. Those surveys are biased alright, but am I the only person to think that these international surveys are heavily biased against non-US B-schools? Does everyone really agree that 55 out of the top-100 B-schools are in US? Is education throughout the rest of the world that bad?

Rashmi has highlighted some points about the problem with taking GMAT scores for ranking, but here’s one more: 15% of the overall weightage is given to salary upon graduation, which is always measured in dollar terms. Someone go and tell them there is something called Purchase Parity adjustment and Cost-of-Living adjustment. In other words, Indian salaries don’t stand a chance when converted to dollar for rankings, but is more than enough for a king-size life in India. This 15% alone could be the deciding factor.

My point is: IIMs don’t stand a chance in these surveys even if they deserve it.

Student diversity

Agreed that 70% of IIMs are engineers, but I wouldn’t call it staid, particularly in the Indian context where Engineering is given so much of importance. It’s not that talented people from all streams are not given a chance and only engineers are pulled in. Most of the good guys go to engineering.

But overall, a really great attempt to give an overall picture.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Make XP run faster

I had a lot of trouble with Windows XP. Despite a Centrino 256MB RAM laptop that's just about 2 years old, XP was really slow. Infact I felt it to be slower than my Celeron 400 Windows 98 128MB RAM machine I have back home. I felt the situation to be very similar to Parkinson's Law: Resource requirements expand to fill in resource availability - similar to "Work expands to fill in the available time".

Anyway, thanks to S Anand, I came across a bunch of tips to make the system fast. And it works. The speed difference is visible. If you an XP based system, this is certainly worth a shot!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

B-school lingo

Instant messaging lingo: a/s/l - for Age/Sex/Location.

Placements time B-school lingo: p/s/l - Profile/Salary/Location. :)

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The-next-IIM story, yet again

I drew a lot of flak when I opined that Shillong is not exactly the best place for setting up an IIM. But here's another (quite confusing) news clip.

A TOI article says the next IIM is going to be in Pune (via Manish), which is one of the three cities I said was ideal for setting up an IIM - considering the location, accessibility and other benefits.

Anyway, what's not clear is whether the Pune IIM would be the eighth IIM or the seventh one instead of Shillong. The other thing that's not clear is why, unlike other premier B-schools the world over (Harvard, Wharton etc), the existing IIMs can't take in more people, which would negate the setting up of new IIMs itself. I'm sure there are reasons, but just what are they?

Rang de Basanthi - a zenith in Indian cinema

[Spoilers kept as minimum as possible]

I heard/read so many goodies about the movie that I couldn’t afford to miss it. But then, being a movie connoisseur (as I’d like to call myself :-) ) who loves to hate the so-called youth and teeny-weeny nonsense of movies, I thought enough not to listen to/read in-depth reviews and story-line discussions. And I’m so glad I didn’t.

The last time I saw a Bollywood movie in a theatre was when “Maine Pyar Kyun Kiya” was released. And boy, that movie sucked. Big-time. More so when I started hearing that it was becoming a hit in Indore. I was amazed at how a movie could run without any story-line whatever, and only based on what I’d call bull-shit humour. I guess I’m going to get a lot of flak for this, but I really think that movie was a nadir in movie-making itself. Anyway, the point is: my expectations were pretty low.

And then I saw Rang de Basanthi (RDB). I should say that RDB had it in it to captivate me right from the word-go. The start was beautiful. The first half was funny. The second half was passionate. The music was colorful (as odd as it sounds). The video-editing was breathtaking (I’m into bits and pieces of personal movie-making, and RDB looked like the impossible that I’ve always wanted to do).

The best part, I guess, is the story itself. It takes a genius to give such an offbeat start, digress on and off into history, while keeping the story alive in the present and taking it in a completely new dimension in the end. Honestly, no one would’ve ever thought the movie would have an end like what it did.

Now to some negatives.

As near-perfect as it was, I didn’t like the concept of violence portrayed as a means to justify rebellion. No doubt it worked - it was easy to see that it struck a chord with the mass. The audience suddenly came alive when the heroes took to rebellion. I guess everyone has a violent side waiting to break open somewhere deep down and movies like these are the outlets. It’s been beautifully summarized by Chandoo too.

Critics apart, it’s really the next big thing in Bollywood and, for that matter, in Indian cinema. Just go watch it. If haven’t yet, that is.