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Businesses

Journal Journal: Job Recruitment Firms and Future Recruitment Trends

The recent trend with Job recruitment firms at least in India is quite disturbing. They catch resumés on the internet and just bombard their clientele with them. Whenever someone makes a hire from such a lot, they take a brokerage. A model suitable for companies that can't afford HR firms. But I find that small companies require people with a special niche most of the time and someone who understand the environment with the risks. So they rarely benefit from these firms. That leaves the medium sized ones which can optionally afford their HR departments to throw up an ad and spend time in a long winded process.

The Monster and Naukri do claim to provide a certain quality of service but there are no strong definitions here because the requirement is to specify the quality or skillset of an individual. Hence quality of the provided contact is almost always measured in "experience years" rather than in true capability or skillset. I know many firms for whom such a method didn't work. More so, there are even smaller firms that cater to both medium and large sized companies following the same model. The only catch is they may be a shade cheaper and may pull out more CVs in lesser time than a HR department. Ultimately the whole process ends up on the head of the team recruiting and he has to meticulously judge each recruit. Leaving the entire process to HR as far as the IT industry is concerned is still not a smart option.

I believe that firms like Orkut or Hi5 who establish networks will soon get into the business of providing job listings and contacts. A social networking technique is bound to work with a little more success than one that is purely based on published CVs or such information. The possibility is there, and I believe this will be a stronger method than going to a firm with millions of resumés in different sectors. That serves not the purpose and consumes precious time, both of which are usually too difficult to spare under recruitment pressure.

The other issue that is most disturbing is inaccurate listings. Either ask for people who know everything in the world or ask for people with illogical experience times (12 years experience in .Net would be an example - and I ain't kidding.) Worse still non-tech jobs asking for people to know XML, Java, 5 years experience in using Office 2000 which sounds ridiculous. Such listings are also very common. So the issue goes both ways, the job seeker has to wade through nonsense, the recruiter has to wade through nonsense. I see a huge opportunity for someone to come up with a smart idea to help both the job-seeker and the people-seeker. The approach of using people networks would however require one to perceive people as asset/resources rather than salaried liabilities on a financial perspective. This would ultimately be the path to grow in a "Knowledge Economy", a transition step from older approaches that still continue from the "Industrial Economy".
Technology

Journal Journal: The $100 Laptop 1

With another hype for Negroponte's Dream $100 Laptop and his One Laptop per Child (OLPC) initiative I see this pipe dream go on and on. The corporate world works on an economic equation. Among Food, Clothing and Shelter - the minimal human necessities to be provided with sanitation and humane living conditions - The UN has had far fetched ideas on providing this to all humanity. But they simply don't seem to be going anywhere inspite of the fact that these are but the basic necessities (not luxuries). Literacy campains have been hard to work out in many parts of the world. Now Negroponte I assume wants to make the Literati become the Digerati with this device. This bridging of the digital divide is more of an issue of user interface, support and continual services (more so like the phone/PDA industry) than just "affordability". Affordable mobile phones in India work because each segment of the population is able to help out the other segment (economically separated) in using different classes of phones (from the $1000 PDA handphone to the $50 utility handphone.) Still, they share common services and the economy thus is able to support the different tiers comfortably.

Massive Food manufacturing technology which could help undernourished and malnourished children in unfortunate environments is still lacking. This again is worsened by the lack of a safe distribution system in politically volatile areas. With so much of the basics still left to tackle, I do not see the "PC" or "Computing" as a knowledge/education tool entering the picture. We are talking about places where per capita income is averaging about $1000 a year. If these machines are even economically feasible to manufacture and distribute (this is no joke) how is the average (possibly illiterate child) going to benefit. Wherever education has been given importance, the economically viable cost vs. features of the computing devices has adapted to markets and become more availabe. Commoditisation (which happened to Phones and Televisions) is a gradual economic process which cannot be accelerated. Earlier every family had one phone, now each member of the family has one phone due to extreme commoditisation and the process has been gradual. I can say the same about Television sets too. Even if you actually introduce a product at $100 simply because the market would not be there to receive it. The market's needs would be different. MIT's techies may be the best in the world, but Maslow's need hierarchy is still valid in most circumstances and circumventing it is of no great economic or political consequence. As I remember Negroponte has had this dream long ago and has always blamed any failure (if on starting or on continuance) on the right time and opportunity.

I still feel that this is a plan going nowhere as the deployment and utility (even if the economy were to absorb this with a necessity) would pose significant problems. Further still, I know that Redhat pulled out of the "Desktop" business because it wasn't as profitable for itself as its own "Enterprise" business. They also did a cut down on embedded activity to give a full push to their bread-winner, a proper corporate move indeed that kept their balance sheets growing. Now, I see them suddenly step up and offer all support to the $100 Laptop cause which is contradictory to their corporate image. IMO, Redhat need do no more lipservice to linux, their staff have done true service already and continue to contribute. There's no point in posting a press release saying we'll provide the linux support - because the press release reads MIT's tech team has had over 20 years experience in computing. Now, Are we supposed to assume that this team can't just take a neat Debian or Ubuntu and offer it. Under the same argument I could ask why not go to Dell or Lenovo and ask them to help for this humane cause? MIT too is seeking publicity here. (duh!) How could Redhat which partly stepped out of Desktops because it couldn't work out the usability equation on its distributions suddenly come and provide an "education"*usable $100 laptop? To be a successful corporate doesn't mean imitating every corporate in the block by making flashy press releases. This is really negative if it doesn't work (and the odds aren't really good here.) I simply read that Redhat is vacillating looking at Ubuntu after a prior decision to address enterprise customers in a big way.

The last news item I would want to be laughing on news is "100 Somali children have been presented with $100 Laptops courtesy of MIT and Redhat technical teams." Sometimes everyone needs to state their goals and priorities right, and I don't think that's what this is about. In India, HCL came up with an almost $160 PC that wasn't a radical success as the population already had set its mind that INR 16-20K (roughly close to $500) was where they could afford a truly usable PC. They didn't want a mock-up PC that would crawl and slow them down even if it were affordable. They could still go to cafes and rent PC usage time for less. Practicability is sometimes lacking in University campuses as they cease to look at the real world.
Movies

Journal Journal: Moods and Movies

I find that watching movies has a profound effect on moods. It does depend a great deal on the film, the actors, the film-maker and the medium you're watching it on. It also depends on the time you're watching the movie. I just saw Hamlet(1990) starring Mel Gibson, Glenn Close, Helena Bonham Carter and a few other well known names. It seems to hold Mel Gibson's best performance in quite a long while. Although a shortened version of the play (which in full would've been 4 hours of which there is a version too), it was made well enough that the effect of the tragedy didn't weigh heavily upon me. I simply enjoyed the delivery of Shakesperean English by the actors. I would some day want to watch the 4 hour version rather than sit and read the full play (although I do have access to the text.)

The best part I liked was to have watched a tragedy and not have felt sad but thoughtful, which was something the film-maker could achieve by choosing the method of delivery. After all it wasn't just jests that saved the play, nor Shakespeare alone. I see Peter Jackson's films with a huge uplifting mood (commenting on the Lord of the Rings series and hoping to see The Hobbit, not related to his King Kong version.) I believe that well made movies, with even a condensate of a message can have a strong impact on moods of people. In an age where people use little means of entertainment save movies, games, books and television with a few outdoor people (but a smaller percentage) - balancing their moods in a highly stressful environment should be looked into as a strong option. While film-making is definitely an art in its own, and has to have its freedom to express varying moods, upliftment and balance seem to be the asking of the times. Until humans begin to create a balanced and less stressful environment owing to Robotics or alternate energy resources many cannot afford to enjoy truly artistic cinema or mood spoilers. Of course this is one reason why you can choose to watch what you watch today and humour also sells well both in Movies and Television. The all powerful years of the media are here, and like all former ages, this too will be gone only to be replaced by something else.
Editorial

Journal Journal: Tribes in the 21st Century 2

While humanity claims to have progressed a great deal since the so labelled Paleolithic, Neolithic, Iron and Bronze age through the Dark ages, the rennaisance, the Industrial age and the Information age I notice that our tribal behaviour has changed little. Human beings still tend to group together in tribes. The affiliation for tribal groupings have differed, yet behaviourally we find solace in such groups. People of a company like to group with their own teams, some fortunate ones with their classmates, others with those who share their profession or interests. This grouping has grown into the web in mailing lists, forums, group blogs and more. In Singapore, I notice such elements of peer bonding between those assigned to the same regiment irrespective of background or ethnicity (in men) for all are required to serve in the army. Today, we also have the luxury, capability (communication and commutation) to fit into multiple tribes based on affiliations we have.

Recently reported ills of "westernisation" in India and the east including Nuclear families and urban migration have led to higher crime rates, lesser protection. I believe that this is because these places are in a delicate transit state as renewed tribal bonding is evolving and soon people will move together and confide within such groups bringing about a in-built societal restructure irrespective of upbringing related traits. During this period, there have been recent incidents of social unrest arising from transit lifestyle (live-in relationships, more frequent male-female peer bonding outside marriage) in a society less exposed to these. Unfortunately this transit has not been fluid due to societal inertia resulting in the lack of tribe formation (unknown neighbours hence unsafe neighbourhoods, reluctance to talk to strangers, isolation driven individualism). After a recent assault and murder of a BPO employee in Bangalore (the flagship of the Indian Outsourcing/Offshoring and Software Industry), the police issued an advisory which included as its first point "1. never talk to strangers - auto drivers, taxi drivers, et al." Incidentally traveling in groups or pairs is unmentioned in the security advisory. I find these two the most contributing factor to fragment society, delay the creation of new-generation tribes and increase insecurity.

The increase in the number of single-driver driven vehicles (both 2-wheelers and 4-wheelers) and isolation of individuals will only cause more FUD. I see the rampant lack of car-pooling. Software Companies hardly employ people and help them live close to the company and arrange for comfortable transportation with carpooling strategies to reduce traffic jams. A few companies stand out in trying to help out, but do not understand the variables they are dealing with. It is unfortunate that urbanisation in India, and perhaps in the rapidly Developing east has been at the cost of losing our tribal nature which we still possess as the greatest unifying force. "No human is an island," I can say this from personal experience. Despite a tendency to be more of a loner, I definitely love bonding into tribes of my own preference. Self imposed isolation for the sake of security and being only touch with fellow workers is recipe for disaster. If you can't find a tribe to fit into, create it. The amalgamation of humans into one nation will be impossible without understanding the social dynamics of bonding and tribalism. Communicating and being members of a gang as school and college-going kids has been observed as common behaviour. Although this is not encouraged if a group is experimenting with alcohol and drugs more frequently than studies or work, this tendency needs to be understood and grown within. Otherwise, for the sake of self identity, cultural, linguistic, ethnic and religious differences we risk fragmenting nations into smaller and weaker places taking several steps back in the timeline of development. Urbanisation of towns and villages, and slowdown of urban migration with more communication and commutation infrastructure may be a good step towards development.
Censorship

Journal Journal: The "Intelligent" debate

The recent ruling (WPost,Dec 22/2005,Page A28) by Judge John E Jones III looks very much against the right to freedom of expression. When we were taught about the creation of the universe and life, we were informed about all theories including evolution and creationism, and "intelligent design" wasn't a package available then. Today, there are advocates who claim that "intelligent design" is a possibility and is also highly probable. I see no harm in informing the future generation that there are groups who believe that "intelligent design" is highly probable considering the harmony of the Cosmos. It definitely doesn't go against the scientific theory of evolution which is proven to have happened and in a continual progressive state. Advocates of "intelligent design" merely hypothesise that this process is possibly bounded and is not progressing at the pace it should be because of several reasons they mention. Those advocates may even withstand a trial in front of a scientific committee with papers (which they have not yet accomplished). Clearly, creation science as the judge refers to this, already has strong critics from the scientific community who can easily disprove on the basis of scientific fact and established theory most of the arguments put forth (not all). However, there is no convincing proof that "intelligent design" is entirely false and scientists (including many eminent physicists and astrophysicists) would agree; the same as there is no convincing proof that "intelligent design" is fact. Until someone can concretely prove that no entity within or without this universe could not have had any part in creating cosmic harmony and the "evolution" of intelligent life forms, this is a possible alternative. I am ill informed, if this has already been strongly disproven, but I know this much that Darwin did not kill the idea of "intelligent design". He proposed the "Theory of Origin of Species", "Theory of Common Descent" and "Sexual Selection", "Survival of the Fittest" (attempting to explain extinction, which is under constant debate) to which we have sufficient evidence. He did this by observing the process of island speciation (and island dwarfism) unique to the Galapagos islands aboard the Beagle. Taxonomical classification was already achieved and in progress before Darwin's theory was in effect.

Unless the kids are informed of another alternative, how could they go ahead tomorrow to prove or disprove it. Scientific method is based on argument and necessitates the existence of an antithesis for every thesis. No judge can pass a judgement to label creationism religious or otherwise because there are neo-modern religious doctrines that do agree with the absence of any intelligent design. Only a scientist (or a scientific research group) with enough research and findings can concretely establish or eliminate a theory, no matter who proposes it (a priest, Saddam Hussein, G W Bush, a kid in kindergarten), not a Judge. The USA is getting more and more ridiculous day by day. Further the news items do not mention whether the schools actually taught "intelligent design" as established fact, which would be wrong and needs correction. The panel proposing the syllabi for education should be reviewed as they would be responsible in that case. "Biological Evolution" too is a theory that has sufficient proof, but there are areas inside evolution like the process for speciation, the reason for speciation and the time taken for speciation that are difficult to explain and hence are scientifically debated.

Freedom of Idea and Thought let the ancient Greeks of Ionia create many of the fundamentals of science. Most remain anonymous and unknown (as Carl Sagan mentions in "Broca's Brain") except Homer (author of the Illiad, not from the Simpsons:TV Show). Many of their postulates were later put down by many half scientist-teacher-lawmakers (Aristotle, Demosthenes, Plato, ...) in later years. It took us a whole process of renaissance to get back to that freedom and therefore to explore freely with scientific method many different theories and propositions (even though some might have seemed ridiculous at first, like Einstein's theory of General Relativity.) In the middle ages, "Christian" Religion influenced Government and hence freedom of thought, ideas and reasoning. In 1992, the Vatican accepted that the World was round (not Flat.) Now I see Government and Judiciary influencing idea (whatever it might be). This is definitely repeating the same erroneous process that happened prior in history to set humans back by a millennium. Creationism was an early fad that did not attempt to rest on any scientific ideals. "Intelligent Design" attempts to fit within the structure of scientific thought, but instill similar (if not the same) ideals and is advocated _not_ by the Church or Religious orders or their Brethren. Any questions and alternate proposals to scientifically published fact is usually answered to by scientists and critics in a proper scientific manner. I have no idea, how the US Judiciary can rule or rule out any idea, however strong or frail. Rome laughed at an idea and politically fought it, "that humans could co-exist with just peaceful means" (it was absurd, for Rome was built by organised military, the sword and brilliant Generals.) Rome succumbed to it later and included it in their political agenda (as the Holy Roman Empire). I would also want to ask, would the judge have ruled the same had he been a mormon or the jury was in majority creationists?

The true problem is not whether to teach Intelligent Design or not, or whether to send your child for education in a state that does so or not, but to encourage schools to teach "Scientific Method" and "Organised thought process". The ability to question every theory & idea (however fundamental) alongwith the techniques to use must be instilled within the syllabi taught in schools. It is a shame that no article dealing with this recent shake-up over "intelligent design" stresses this. Sadly, education in India has in my opinion plummetted to one of its lowest levels I have ever seen. Few take up education as a respected profession any longer. The "Guru" of the past is history, "teacher" is no longer a capitalised word but merely one of the last resorts to earn one's keep. It is taught that knowledge was born in the east and spread by great teachers, I hope that time and circumstances will return to bring back such an era where knowledge is born, ideas questioned and debated and spread to a thirsting people. The information age is not truly about money, but about knowledge in all its forms and how best one can find & use it. The worst point is people expressing happiness that their state does not teach "intelligent design", without understanding that the point is not about this particular idea. Tomorrow another Judge may rule that religious parts of history like the crusades may no longer be taught or remove Salahudin's name from history textbooks and people may be jubilant. What Rot!
Programming

Journal Journal: Delivery and Deliverance

I have been creating software components (mostly system software), and managing teams doing the same. Whenever I was delivering a complete platform (Kernel+Drivers+Utils) with a product, I found that the process was much easier. The end product was easily taken in although I can't comment about the commercial success. However, whenever the delivery was a source code component that had to be plugged into someone's product I have found delivery very difficult with either complaints or a long time for integrating it usually impacting schedules and future work.

Sometime back I had the experience of delivering a full image that required a lot of comfort with linux systems to a team that had much less comfort. This too took much longer than I anticipated despite READMEs and explicit instructions. The impact of the delay was highlighted by the fact that I was working alone for the platform. Software delivery (in binary form) has in itself been a tough job, with support teams standing by to take debug reports and fix bugs. Delivering source code to those graduating to linux or switching platforms has always delayed. I believe that the best way of delivering any software component (outsourced or remotely worked on) is to have a partner at the receiving end, a shadow of the creator or be present at the delivery site. I have been in touch with a few friends on teams that make delivery, and I see the trend of on-site delivery of software. This seems to be a common trend in the software industry where most off-shoring requires an on-site presence. I would definitely like Deliverance from the issues created at Delivery to come from a different quarter. More Software Engineering research to work out a much better way to send and integrate so that Remote working (be it offshoring, or working from home) becomes much more easier than it is right now.
Software

Journal Journal: The End of Support

Microsoft happily has announced and maintains no support for "prehistoric", "outdated" software like Windows 98 SE. I had to get someone who'd sent his kid his archaic Toshiba Satellite CD-8090 laptop which was in French (AZERTY keyboard too in a community that is used to QWERTYs and almost no DVORAKs). The Laptop even has a floppy drive (I don't remember the last time I actually used a floppy although I have a faint idea that this was just some 3-4 years back.) Trouble is the kid doesn't know French, and is in the 4th standard (primary education - India) and wants to play games on this box. I gave him a new uninstalled version of Win98SE that I had (I don't use Microsoft Windows *.* anywhere). Trouble started with getting the right display driver to everything else (audio, power management, name it!). Linux distros ran neat (Redhat 8.2, of course Knoppix, Ubuntu Breezy and Debian) - so the kid got a dual boot, though he'll take quite some time to figure out what he could do with the rest of it. Of course, getting the on-board soft-modem up is not yet done and I have enough work to give me my daily drills.

What I've found is that Hardware and Software get outdated so often that support for either or both is difficult to retain over time. Users are out there for decades together, but Hardware-Software cycles are at most 3-5 years (and usually lesser for most). The industry really has to rethink about support. We aren't talking mainframes here, but PCs getting outdated quickly along with the software they run. New applications require new hardware features driving the market, basically milking the cow (those who already have PCs) dry. At the same time, there's Negroponte with a $100 laptop idea, HCL/India with a $200~ Desktop trying to create new market space. But how long are these things going to be supported and by whom? I don't think this can go on for ever. Maybe it's time to think up a workable solution to this rapid cycle of outdated software and hardware. On top of it I'm working on a piece of hardware that was designed in 2001 and phased out in late 2003/Q1-2004, so I don't get datasheets, programmer manuals leaving me in the dark to figure out what each piece of hardware does.
Hardware Hacking

Journal Journal: Noisy Fans and PC Cabinets

Fans are a noisy thing and the moment the blade starts making contact with collected dust inside the cabinet, more trouble queues up. I wonder whether we should start redesigning the cabinets (both pressurising and depressurising ones) to a better trouble free design. The lesser mechanical components that can cause trouble, the longer we should be able to keep the machine up (hoping you have a good power supply.) Most of the cabinet mods I've come across are for reducing the noise rather than improving system efficiency. I've noticed the same that many "/."ers have reported, put my machine in an office environment - and I hear nothing at all, take it back home and I hear a racket (well, not quite, but something loud enough.)

Yesterday, I had trouble with an extra depressurising fan setup for cooling both my processor and my GeForce 5300 PCX2 (outdated today) card. It caught some dust and started making a rattling noise at random intervals after startup. Diagnosing which fan was rattling took some time, particularly the one inside the SMPS is dangerous enough as its load can blow a few fuses and render the machine unusable for over a day (I can't stick that.) I figured out which fan using a tough piece of paper, so I could actually relate to which fan was making that noise (not much luck if all your fans sound the same when they come into contact with dust or brush against something.) I then cleaned up the dust, refixed the fan with a different alignment, checked the depressurising and had a long test run just to make sure things were normal. While I've been thinking about self-cleaning houses and all sorts of far fetched (some cranky enough) ideas, I've never thought of the simple things - like creating a dust-free, noise-free cabinets. Now's the time to scan for rugged PC/Laptop cases to find out any of their tricks that might be of help. And oh yes, dust levels in India are an all time high, cleaning my keyboard is effort enough.
News

Journal Journal: The Global Weather googly

Of late, the recent weather has been hardly predictible. Living in India, I can only see the metereology department which was struggling to meet international standards suffer further setbacks with a more unexplicable system in operation. Low pressure zones form out of nowhere, disappear all of a sudden, cloud cover in the upper atmosphere quickly transpires to rain. Monsoonal winds without explanation change direction and heading (on what was supposedly a 2000 year old or even older trend.) All visible satellite pictures show nothing, while Infrared shows the low pressure zones that get suddenly filled with clouds. This just illustrates a weather cycle happening much faster than ever anticipated. It is hard to investigate phenomenon before one can chart out a pattern, and that's where the metereology people are having a tough job. Further, prior established and stable weather cycles stalled metereolgists from investigating phenomena that could change weather patterns and climate drastically.

However, scientists have suggested (on studying oceaning thermal conveyer belts) that the earth keeps changing climatic cycles over a 35 year period (Warning:PDF) (which further breaks down into roughly 17 year cycles). They predicted that these shorter cycles were indicative of a much longer cycle whose time duration remained unknown due to lack of dependable ancient records of weather. This would be a nice time to correlate and find any indication of the 35 year cycle being superceded by a multiple of itself. The recent weather pattern has not restricted itself to a period of a year or two but seems to be progressing and only providing for harsher and certainly unpredictable weather.

Many eco-friendly groups have started talking about "Global Warming", point out to polar icecaps melting and other related phenomena (glacier meltdowns, etc.). However no one has paid much heed to the possibility that human influence no climatic patterns is quite feeble in comparison to human influence on ecology and environment. The same groups labelled Humans responsible for the Holoecene extinction which too has been dismissed by many in the scientific community as only a coincidence in the absence of strong evidence to the contrary. Metereologists have been ignoring Geological phenomena (massive earthquakes and volcanic activity in Indonesia) and Geomagnetic connections to weather (on which all attempts insofar have failed.)

All comments apart, climatic modeling and consequently weather pattern modeling needs to be re-worked. More variables that were previously unknown are undoubtedly influencing the conditions. Identifying these variables and correlating them will help us create a more accurate model allowing us to predict weather better than ever before. So lets move forward and do it while we can. I wonder if the Japanese Earth Simulator project can help out in this regard.
Wireless Networking

Journal Journal: The Electromagnetic Cauldron

The world's population has seemingly reached a maximum it has probably not seen in at least the last two millennia. Demographic analysts point out that in developing, highly populated countries like India and China, the population of younger people aged between 18 and 30 would constitute at least 60% of the whole or more. This immediately spurrs an economic growth, coupled with extreme urbanisation. The resultants have been noticeable. On one hand the economies of such countries have shown a positive growth line, on the other, the problems of rapid urbanisation and volumes are cropping up.

Recently, most magazines have been talking about the presence of many disorders - anxiety, sleep disorders, depression, hypertension and have conveniently labelled them as "stress induced" disorders. Looking at this from an bird's eye view, it would seem that a huge 60%+ working generation would mean heavy competitiveness in turn inducing severe stress levels. This has been verified by the huge increase in prescription and consumption of anti-anxiety/depression/dyssomnia drugs. However, stress levels in prior economic depression in the same demographic class of population and all classes affected severely have been different in nature. While they did induce anxiety and breach hope that took a huge effort to restore, dyssomnia, depression or hypertension were not commonly reported. Today, in an economy which is on a positive spur, people are showing symptoms of these new disorders and are being treated for the same. Worse still, in some countries the young populace attempt to treat themselves (without medical supervision) with mood altering drugs only escalating the problem.

Attempting to trace aetiology, it would seem that the world is now filled with more Electromagnetic radiation, particularly microwave radiation and Radiowaves (RF) than ever before. Both the Microwave and the RF spectrum in complete are known to produce an effect called dielectric heating in organic compounds. (The same effect is employed with a lot more energy in a Microwave oven at ~2.4GHz.) Researchers have confirmed that usage of a mobile phone can raise the surface temperature of the brain by 0.6 degree celsius to 1.0 degree celsius. The same is applicable to any tissue composed of organic matter. Studies were originally done to find the effect of microwave cooked food on carbohydrate content and two opposing schools of thought were formed; one claiming that microwaves could "demetabolise" carbohydrates further than normal cooking, while the other mentioning that the effects were of hardly any significance. Microwaves have the tendency to produce the following effect on higher life forms:
  • dielectric polarisation of organic molecules.
  • dielectric heating of water and other organic compounds within biological tissue.
  • sensory stimuli to the brain of its frequency unrelated to the amplitude (or power) of the microwave.

The power levels of aerial microwaves is roughly 0.45mW/cm^2 if mobile transmission/reception equipment (phones (Radio), wireless networking devices, beacons, etc.) are in use close to a biological organism (more likely to be human.) This power level is too faint and yet can produce the 0.6...1 degree celsius heating of cellular tissue with the dielectric heating effect. This effect has been studied prior and has been dismissed as a minor one. However the effects of polarisation are less repeatable as any disturbance to a catalyst or a source chemical in a biochemical reaction can produce adverse effects at any stage of the biological reaction. The results will depend on the part of the body; e.g. the brain is most sensitive to extremely minor levels of chemical changes - any reaction disruption can alter numerous brain functions while the cause may remain untraceable due to complexity.

The third effect is derived from the fact that a 15Hz light strobe can induce epilepsy in a person with a epileptic condition. The effect is due to an attempt to interpret the frequency that results in an unanticipated state of the brain that creates a reset, observed as an epileptic fit. There are certain people with disorders who, upon noticing a zebra crossing or a certain pattern also suffer from one of the symptoms of epilepsy (usually resulting in temporary loss of consciousness of variable time frames.) This is also spurred by the brains attempt at interpreting input. While there is no concrete evidence presently that microwaves of frequencies beyond 400MHz uptil 1800 Mhz can be sensed by any part of the human body; the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. There is evidence from studies that electromagnetic radiation within a closed room [Faraday chamber] (conducted while studying clairvoyants, psychics or UFO abductees) have experienced the feeling of a "presence" of someone inside the room; The room however during such studies, was devoid of anyone but the person and furniture (non-metallic usually). Similar effects have been observed with ultrasound frequency ranges also. The reason for such "perception" of a presence is unknown.

Down the same stream of thought, the universe is filled with background microwave radiation termed "cosmic microwave radiation" which are being studied. The sources have been sought for during solar eclipses. It is hypothesised that about 500,000 years (solar time frame) after the Big Bang, a relatively cool black body of about 2.7K started emitting cosmic microwave radiation that is prevalent throughout the known universe. Bursts of Cosmic microwave radation can be observed during several astronomical phenomena.

It is quite possible that the attempt of ancient astrology to correlate times of births to long term behavioural patterns was born out of residual effects of such radiation influenced by planetary positions. The newly emergent infant brain would get acquainted with a certain level and alignment of the radiation while behaviour would be abnormal when these radiation levels and alignments change as planetary bodies change position. The planets would actually be playing shields to cosmic microwave radiation affecting level and alignment. However, modern astrological calendars never mention the cause of the behavioural changes but merely correlate planetary positions to birth times and later to life spans; and hence have been deemed scientifically incredible. Further Neutron star collision or another black body that presently (solar time frame) stopped radiating could have been producing far more radiation (and influence on life forms) in earlier times of human evolution. This is utter speculation at the moment, but the possibility can be explored so that it can be either proven to exist or otherwise.

However, it is undeniable that all living organisms, are immersed in heavy microwave radiation, which has only increased in the last few decades due to the increase in wireless communication and satellite usage. We are sitting inside a faraday chamber in both planetary and universal scales. It is high time that we conduct a scientific study to scale and understand the influence of such radiation on life, whatever the influence might be. Human curiosity has no bounds.

Robotics

Journal Journal: The Blind Watchmaker and defective watches

As the never ceasing argument on intelligent design seems to persist, I have been pondering on it for a little while. Religion, in propogating the idea of a creator, professes intelligent design. While the essay on the "Blind Watchmaker" and Dawkins' book of the same name explore the analogy quite thoroughly, my thoughts are far simpler. If the professed "creator" was a perfectionist, there are many ways in which an idealist paradise could be created such that it could never be disrupted. Having not done that, the idea of the perfectionist creator is in itself flawed, though the creator might still exist.

In simple words, allowing life to be constructed as is, without the ability to harm other life within its own species would be easy to such a creator. The moment a conflicting thought arises, it can be biochemically erased and reset, thus creating an impossibility for intra-species harmful/criminal behaviour (something we humans excel at, particularly because of our dominant numbers.) This does not necessarily curb freedom of thought, choice or action; only the impossibility to hurt others irreversibly is in-built biologically.

We humans think of a creator due to our own creative instincts and strengths, and yet we do make imperfect creations as we are not "perfectionists" by design. However, if the religiously professed "watchmaker" was a perfectionist, his creations would be "perfect" in accordance with his own laws (those that religion claims God passed to Man). Self Imposed restriction on disruptive behaviour by whatever means of control (ref: "A Brave New World", "1984") by any species capable of mutually assured disruptive behaviour has been shown to be impossible in works of fiction. To prove the point further - no systems of civilisation have lasted long enough since its creation, always succumbing to disruption of one form of the other.

However, within the religious definition of "God, the Invisible King" (referring to H G Wells' paper) and His perfectionist superhero portrayal, He seems to have fallen short of expectation. In short He has created something that can create, destroy and self-destruct. The arguments for the absence of the idealist paradise in the present context and the promise of it after life (post-death) seems less plausible. So not only is the watchmaker blind, but he imposes no rules nor boundaries to what could stem from creation, he is better referred to by his scientific name Evolution.

The conclusion is definitely strong: factually life after life(death) is enclosed in FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt). The only opportunity is here and now within this context without bother about the watchmaker. There is nothing wrong about improving one's chances of survival by whatsoever means (relatively fair or foul), so long as one can accept it within their own rules of thought and action. The riddle of existence can be explored with the scientific method which has proved useful to the Greeks, and later taken us through the renaissance. This pursuit can be restricted to whoever stays interested in it, after all no life form seems to get enough time (as individuals and as species).
Businesses

Journal Journal: Nepotism, Cronyism and the Barter system

Recently while dealing with a couple of firms, I've noticed that firms are many a time willing to drop their prices in return for a favour. While this is usually translated as good for a favourable economic climate within categories of groups of bussinesses, I see this form of Nepotism as the continuance of the Barter system. Further, I see that even the whole "Free/Libre Software" or "Open Source Software" community is actually closer to a Barter system practicing Nepotism or Cronyism. Yes, there's always the claim of being a meritocracy with these groups, but many self-labelled meritocracies are usually systems supporting nepotism. So long as different minds seem to agree (more in friendly terms) that a certain person is "like-minded" (rather than capable or meritorious), they are interested in admitting him/her into the community. In more accurate terminology this might be closer to cronyism where the relationship is a sort of long-standing friendship created through sharing of like minded thought or argument. This tendency of socio-political networking seems to be a basic pattern in many forms of grouping.

Modern social networking has found new ways of development. Networks like Orkut, Hi5 (and loads of others) have become popular. Entrepreneurs tend to create new teams based on networks they develop and try to exist initially in economic eco-systems created through them. This form of social behaviour has been at the root of "Dynastic Politics" (often used in a derogatory meaning). In India, I see both Nepotism and Cronyism termed as Communal preference. There are enough examples of companies, where people are coalesced on the basis of some communal group. I am sure such patterns of social grouping can be observed at almost any level. Even the "Indian Heritage System" of marriages (a.k.a arranged marriages) within communities is indicative of a long-term existence of such social grouping. The heart of civilisation seems to be rooted on the very phenomenon that united groups of humans into tribes. Julius Caesar named Octavian, his Nephew (Latin:Nepos - Nepotism) in his will for succession of property, having had no legitimate male heir to bear his cognomen. Looking at legal social structures, I see that such grouping coupled with exchanges of favours within them are far ahead in numbers than of any attempting to follow idealist principles of "universal brotherhood".

The reason that has led me to think in this direction is because of the almost unexplainable rioting in France that spread to Germany, the prevalence of an unexplainable nexus between multiple rebel/millitant/anarchist/terrorist groups. They too seem to be such a grouping only facilitated further by modern communication and commutation means. Ultimately it seems that the adage "Birds of a feather flock together" may actually have an entirely different interpretation in the 'social' context. The pursuit of creating the global village is therefore exponentially difficult due to linguistic, ethnic, communal, religious, ideal and relative barriers.
Media

Journal Journal: More Indian Cricket and the SMS tide

The fourth consecutive one-day cricket match against Sri Lanka was also played well by the Indians at Pune despite the Sri Lankans recovering form and composure. The Indian strategy while bowling the last 10 overs (and quite some luck) saved them. The "supersub" batsman (Raina) did the last minute work with another fiery batsman supporting him, after what seemed like a falling pack of cards soon after the Captain made a "stupid mistake" (which he honestly admitted to in the presentation ceremony.) It was really nice to see Indian cricket being non-complacent so far. But the big question starts now, if India can hold down an improving Sri Lankan team in the next three matches of the series (after having won it) and play sport for sport's sake, that would be big. The new rules of Powerplay and Supersubs coupled with a few more subtle rule changes in One Day International Cricket has definitely made the game more interesting.

One more interesting statistic that got published in the newspapers is the revenue that has been generated by SMS contests. This has been on an average close to INR 55,000,000 (or 5.5 crores) per match. The commercial exploitation of sports as an entertainment medium has taken quite a turn with telecom networks profiting from it. A similar response has been with the "Kaun Banega Crorepati-2" (India's 'Who wants to be a Millionaire') equivalent. Fast Moving Retail, Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) has now proven itself as a powerful revenue generation source in developing nations such as India. This does bear similarities to an earlier surge in postcard traffic for TV/Media related contests. This surge which came unanticipated forced the Government to refuse subsidised postcards and provide an alternate pricing to cope up with volume and gained huge profits. The tide seems to be shifting in favor of SMS providers (primarily mobile telecom carrier) and they seem to have their commercial models set right. Future businesses may recognise and adopt the potential for low price, high volume, fast moving retail solutions in developing environments as mutually beneficial.
Entertainment

Journal Journal: Cricket's Diwali

This being the festival lights oft celebrated with noise (loud unwanted sound from 'crackers') we had a nice treat from a committed Indian cricketer. "Dhoni" was the Indian cricketer who turned around what almost certainly looked like a defeat into victory. He had a knock of 183 runs off 143 deliveries (having kept wickets for 50 overs and batted for another 46.) He scored 60% of the 298 runs to be scored and also ended up with the highest score by a wicket keeper besting Aussie Adam Gilchrist's 172. He made the Sri Lankan keeper who had a magnificient 138 look small. For once it seems the Indian cricket team is looking forward to winning all the matches they get to play with an aggressive mindset rather than be complacent after consecutive victories. Of course, time shall tell if they keep this mood and momentum going further which any cricket lover would love to see. The one good point about the match just a day ahead of Diwali was the Srilankans changed their equation and came out stronger. They dismissed India's legend Sachin Tendulkar with Vaas, the guy who's always meant bad luck to Tendulkar at several earlier matches (a smart bowler indeed.) Incidentally the highest one day score of an Indian cricketer is 183 taken earlier by Saurav Ganguly considered an expert batsman himself. Dhoni with a higher strike rate equals the same record this year after having had a previous highest score of 148! So finally, we're seeing a Diwali present, a full team package in the making under a strong Captain & Coach combo.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Trains, Public Behaviour and Territory

I recently paid a visit to my town of nativity 'Erode' for a masonic meeting. This, being a festive season the oft-neglected AC Chair car was quite well occupied on the trip to Erode and on return it was full. The journey towards the city was less eventful. The place was harldly crowded despite the festive season and moving around was easy, thanks to several friends (brethren) who cordially offered their services despite all their duties.

The flood news in the south was an obvious exaggeration of a resultant of a short period of Heavy rains. I saw green crops, with almost little or no water logging and something that would turn into a healthy harvest (contrary to Television doom-sayers; the media for one is an exaggerating and irritating thing riding on 'freedom of the press'.) The Railway administration had carefully designated fast and slow patches of the railway track.

While returning I noticed the obvious lack of concern of a certain passenger to ensure cleanliness of the compartment while his kids were converting it into a toilet of sorts due to misbehaviour. He later moved on nomadically as seats were freed, littering every place he could occupy. This was mostly irritating and disturbing behaviour which no other passenger was willing to act against, appeasement and abeyance to avoid unanticipated trouble from complaint. It also caught me off from being able to read through a not so interesting work of Philip K Dick, "The Penultimate Truth".

This lack of treatment of public property as one's own I believe comes from short-sighted territorial outlook (yes we are close to Dogs, and Dogs do not litter in their sleeping places unless they're sick.) Universal brotherhood and friendship, I realised comes only out of far-sighted territorial outlook; a phenomenon which should in the modern context cross patriotic concerns and boundaries of home, hometown, home state, community & country. Only then does one possess the capability to treat others and all property with equal respect as one's own; Hence, have the capability to relate to individuals who are not genetically related (or within one's own pack.) Stephen Covey addresses the same (perceived territory) as "Circle of Influence" and "Circle of Concern". According to him, the former cannot expand unless the latter does. Coupled with the lack of concern are concurrent issues of lack of etiquette, education and genuine nobility (the mindset, not the birthright).

Perhaps this is what should be worked against through "social science". The perception of larger circles of concern (hence territory) must be inducted into the minds of people through methods of persuasion (hidden, smooth or even harsh.) What most anthropologists are worried about is the possibility that class or communal behavior (or both) may deeply be rooted into primates from mammalian pack behaviour. Such behavior is directly tied with territorial perception. Overcoming a biologically rooted pattern may be far more difficult than a behaviorally or memetically induced sense of perception.

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