Sunday, 19 February 2017

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Interesting Reads

  1. "You and Your Research" - Richard Hamming Text Video
  2. "How to read a paper?"- S. Keshav, Univ of Waterloo, 2012.Text
  3. "Tips for writting Technical Papers", Jennifer Widom, Stanford, 2006, Text
  4. "How to write a great research paper", Simon P Jones, MSR 2004, Text
  5. "How to Have a Bad Career In Research/Academia", David Patterson, UC Berkeley, Text
  6. "Patterson's Rules for New Computer Science and Engineering Professors", David Patterson, UC Berkeley, Text
  7. "Three sins of authors in Computer Science and Math", Jonathan Shewchuk, UC Berkeley 1997, Text

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Surprise visit to my Parents' Place

It was one of those days wherein Bangaloreans get an extra day off, in the name of Kaveri Bandh. These bandhs have been a ray of hope for many including me, since my childhood, to get some time off and laze with family. During my boarding school days, we would wait for the bandh to be called, in order to head home for an extra "month-end" holiday. Month-end-hols is a term framed by Xavierite boarders. It is a term that originates from the fri-sat-sun weekend holidays the hostel used to provide the students. It slowly became the word we used for any three days weekend holiday we took. 

As I read  the newspaper that day, I knew what I was going to do next. Month-end holidays at parents, it was. Only difference this time, I did not inform my parents that I was visiting home and they were not picking me up. It was going to be a surprise for them.  SO EXCITING. I immediately called my cousin, who lives in bangalore, and discussed about my plans for the weekend. He agreed to visit his estate too, and we decided to go in his car. Now my plan was set. No one knew about it except for me, my cousin and my sister. 

Vani Vilas Sagar Dam 
On Friday evening, I parked my bike at my cousins place, and we left for my hometown. Hiriyur, is a small town situated on the Bangalore - Pune NH4 highway. It is about 160 kms from Bangalore. It is renowned for the oldest dam in Karnataka, Vani Vilas Sagar Dam, called fondly as Mari-kanive by the locals.

Mari Kanive - The water resembling the Indian Map
The dam was built over the Vedavathi river and was the first dam to be constructed by Dr. M.V. Vishweshwaraiah in Karnataka under orders from the Mysore Maharaja. The goddess Mariamma is said to be the protector of the dam, and is worshiped by the people of the town. The name, Mari-Kanive is a  portmanteau from the words, Mari - the goddess and kanive - meaning dam, in the local tongue. 

View from the Dam

View From the park on the hill

The man made park on one of the hills of the dam
We reached hiriyur at about 10 p.m.  During my usual night phone-call with my mom, I had told her I was on my way back from the lab and it was drizzling, here in Bangalore. She believed it, It was the usual conversation I have with her and she din't smell anything fishy. I called my dad to pick me up from my cousins estate. He came immediately. He was at his weekly Rotary Club meetings. Every Friday they meet, discuss about future plans and have dinner together. My dad has been associated with Rotary since his early 20's. My Dad is 60 now. His humanitarian efforts, has been very influential and inspiration to me. 

View from the terrace, at home. 
Once my Dad arrived, my cousin and me decided to surprise my mom. Dad didn't show any facial emotions when he saw me there, he is a man whose feelings cannot be read. However, I knew he was happy by my visit.  When we reached home, I knocked on the door. My mom called out asking, " Who's it?"  in Tamil. I replied saying, "Amma, Its me".  She dint respond for few minutes. She assumed she was in a dream. After about 7 minutes or so, she peeped through the window to assure that it was indeed me. The joy I saw in her eyes that day was incredible. She hugged me and said, " You should have informed. I would have prepared good dinner"

Moms Love. Home food. 
That night, I was so thankful that I had such loving parents. My Amma and Appa were overjoyed by my visit. I stayed back in Hiriyur for the next three days. Month-end holidays it was. During my time there, I had delicious home food that included dosas, idli, vada, boiled rice, dal curry, rasam, chicken curry, Madike Chicken, my moms special KFC chicken and few sweets like kadlai muttai and boondhi. I was lazing on the sofa with the remote on one hand and snacks to munch on the other, like everyone would envy. Life at my parents is a bliss. Its the place I wish to go every time and every day. 

Newly planted arecanut trees at the estate. 

 I love driving around here and to my estates. Driving in the country side is so much more peaceful and enjoyable than in the traffic-ridden cities.  Most of the roads are single roads with no traffic lights.  However, with the migration of more people from villages to the town, there has been a huge rise in the traffic inside the town. The municipality has recently been upgraded to "Nagarasabha" which means city limits.  With the funding from the government coming in, there has been widespread cutting of trees to widen the roads and to provide the infrastructure for the town. Though I support modernization , I am quite saddened by the town having to loose its charm. It is getting "Bangalorized" , as my dad says. 

Driving along the country side.
My visits to my parents, always invokes the childishness in me. I feel younger, protected and more carefree when they are around. My other activities included, playing in the river water, trekking inside the coconut plantations, playing with the estate dogs, driving the tractor and helping or rather distracting the helpers in the estate. 

Sunset at my dad's coconut estate.
The river brook separates two portions of the estate.
Three days of calmness and relaxation is what I experienced. Isn't this what we crave for in the metropolitan cities ? We pay so much just to relax. But, here in Hiriyur, I was relaxing with nature at its best for not even a penny. It was love, care and nature. This is the power of the countryside.  Given a choice, I would definitely choose staying at my parents over going back to work. Every one loves to laze, don't we :D

Dad on the river bank holding the first coconut from the new estate.

10 things to keep in mind during undergraduate college days.

DISCLAIMER: This post is solely my thoughts and views. No one is forced to agree to any of the pointers. Friendly and constructive discussions are welcome.

I am assuming the audience for this post are newly joined undergraduates or students hoping to join college soon.This post is dedicated to juniors who seek my advice on college life and how to go about it.

1. Develop a lifestyle.Try to be organized. Set small goals and targets. Not just for academics but for your overall day-to-day activities. Involve yourself in any outdoor activities. Be it sports or volunteering. 


2. In your first year explore all that the university has to offer you. Don't restrict your inner self. Let yourself loose. Streamline yourself in the following years. Its better to try than to feel guilty later on.

3. Dont expect the professors and university to provide you with all the learning you need. Ask for it. If you can't get the resources in campus, try online resources. MOOCs such as edx, coursera, udacity are great platforms. Give it a shot. During vacations, take up interesting projects and internships. Internships provide you with practical learning, which you will not be able to get in the university. Internships and projects look good in your CV too. 

4. Articulate your thoughts. Learn to write. Blog or keep a personal diary. Or just a folder with stick-it notes to yourself. It will be a great gift to your 40 year old self.

5. Do what you love. Participate in events, because you enjoy it. Not because its going to look good in your resume. 

6. Make good friends. The kind of ones that would skip a party to volunteer as audience for your boring presentation. These are the guys who will remain in your life even after graduation.

7. Take all your courses seriously. Work hard on projects and lab assignments, however silly they may seem. Trust me, this is where most of your learning comes from. Well, a good CGPA as a by-product doesn't hurt either.

8. Before consulting your class 'geek' for help, try to play around with the problem you face. Break stuff. And fix them.

9. Research the subject electives before you choose them. Do not blindly follow the herd. There are times when learning something you love is better than acing an easy class, that didn't really teach you much. I would thumbs up a B grade where you learnt your way through the problem than a A+ wherein you did not put any effort in.

10. Write letters to your family. It means alot to them. Talking on phone once in a day or week is good. But, the  feeling of receiving a well-written letter from kids is a different experience (which all parents deserve). Write to them about your new interests, your learnings, your friends. They will love it.

For more practical advice, I would recommend you to read  Penelope's advice to new college graduates. She speaks about very important pointers to be Job Ready as soon as you complete your degree course. I would love to hear from you guys and help you with your decisions, if you do need help. Please donot hesitate to write to me. Take care. 

Friday, 17 April 2015

My weekend trip to Manipal

NOTE: This post is not a travelogue. The travelogue is coming up soon in my next post. :)

Midway through my internship at Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, I got an opportunity to visit my alma-mater, MIT Manipal. It was a weekend I was eagerly waiting for since I had left college on 25th December, 2015. 

Manipal, is a small university town, bubbling with enthusiasm and filled with youthful energy. It is about 8 hours drive on roads from Bangalore. Manipal, is a place quite dear to my heart and the experience she has given me so far, is beyond what I can articulate. 

The purpose for the trip was my mid-term evaluation of the final semester internship. Though, i hardly spent an hour on it. The weekend was one of my last visits to manipal, and I had planned on making the best of the three days I would be spending there.

My to-do list for the weekend, looked something like this.
  1. Meet all my dear friends who where visiting college too.
  2. Go out with my girls for one last time.
  3. Have breakfast at our usual place.
  4. Visit Manipal Lake and the Kapu Beach Light house.
  5. Speak to professors and thank them for all their help and kindness.
  6. Talk to hostel wardens and Akkas and big them farewell
  7. Spend time with friends and have a good old chat.
  8. Meet juniors and try to inspire them and to help them with their queries, and well check-up on them :P
  9. Go on a run-away trip to GOA or Gokarna. Something of the Zindagi milegi na dobara types.
  10. Go for one last party and dance away. 
What I ended up doing was this.
  1. Met my good old friends.
  2. Had a surprise birthday party with my girls and dinner at a descent restaurant. All of us decked up for the occasion.
  3. Had breakfast and dinner cooked by my dear friend.
  4. Did not visit the lake or the lighthouse. But, spent an entire day at Delta beach.
  5. Spoke to a few professors and had a friendly chat about the world out there. 
  6. Met hostel akkas. Not all of them. The Akka's were new now.
  7. Spent quality time with a few besties and had girl chats.
  8. Met juniors. Not sure about the inspiration part.
  9. Did not go on a run-away trip. We decided to laze at my friends apartment instead.
  10. Couldn't attend a party and dance. But, had a gala time at the apartment after and before my so called 'surprise' bday cake, which i was very much aware of. :D
The major highlight of the trip was I had FUN. Though  I had a few emotional times, the trip was essential in a way that it helped me realize how much I had grown in the last three months. I realized the important roles my friends and lecturers had played in my life. It was a throwback to all those wonderful undergraduate days. 

And for the record, my presentation went well. Received good reviews and appreciation from my internal Professor and the panel. The 'Magic Wand' worked this time too, as my friend describes it as. 

Friday, 20 March 2015

IISC Open Day 2015

Note : This post is about my experience during the IISc Open Day 2015. As I am a Computer Science student, I focussed my tour in the CSA and SERC Departments only. As much as I wished to cover other departments, there was no time to cover all of them. I managed only a few.

Open Days are fun and exciting, the whole atmosphere feels like a country side carnival. Almost everything in the university, from the decorated departments to the banners and posters and stalls heightens the energy levels among the audience as well as the participants. The environment is just perfect. I loved the feel of the IISc Open Day 2015. Everyone, from kids to parents were bubbling with enthusiasm. The kids eyes were filled with curiosity to learn and obtain answers to all their questions. Scenes of students flocking together to the demos and experiments section, reminded me of the golden days of school exhibitions. It brought back memories from fun science trick experiments we did and intimidated  the other kids in class. Those days were great. We did what we loved. 

SERC Open Day Banner

At Indian Institute of Science, Open Day is that day the university invites the public to view the work of its Students, Research Scholars and Professors. It is during this day, when the public gets access to information about the creative work and whereabouts of the university. The major goal of the Open Day is to showcase the talent and social impact of the work being carried out in the campus. A large percentage of the IISc Open Day audience are school children and undergraduate college students, who are keen to learn about the scientific research being pursued at the oldest and most renowned university in India. I was looking forward to this day for two main reasons. The first being, I was a volunteer for the SERC Department for the Open Day activities and secondly, I too like the other undergraduate kids, was excited to learn about the amazing work being carried out at other labs in the campus. During my last two months as a Research Intern, I was told about the cutting-edge research carried out at my lab and the neighbouring ones. I was however curious to learn about the other labs in the SERC, CSA, and other Departments as well. The Open Day, served this purpose well for me. 

Poster for SERC Open Day 2015 
Being a part of the SERC's ( Supercomputing Education and Research Centre) first ever Open Day was even more exciting for me. The weeks before the Open Day, we had volunteer meetings to plan the events. There are about 12 labs in SERC and each lab had volunteered to hold activities showcasing their work. I tagged along with my labmate to the meetings and decided to help. We discussed about the various events that we would be holding for the audience on Feb 28, 2015. A multitude of activities such as online coding competitions to be held on HackerRank, fun activities involving science and technology for kids, onspot quiz competition,  exciting talks, demos, and poster presentation from all the labs in the Department were decided. The Prizes ranged from Internship opportunity at SERC to IISc goodies such as T-shirts and mugs.  The whole goodies part excited me :D We also planned to design a t-shirt for the occasion and my lab guys decided to help with the design. However, we did not have the t-shirts ready by the proposed day due to few technical difficulties and the plan was dropped. I liked the design though. I have posted a picture of the t-shirt below. 

The SuperComputing t-shirt.
The Superman logo was a metaphor for SuperComputing.
Designed by Adarsh :D
Back View. 
On the day of the Open Day, my work was to stand by my lab poster and explain it to the audience. I was also organizing the Interactive Demo called " We Can Track You",  as shown in the poster below. However, due to a failure in the hardware equipment I couldn't go forwards with it. The event was to showcase real time detection of facial emotions of people by using Computer Vision Algorithms. I was a bit disappointed about the demo getting cancelled, but on the bright side, preparing for the event was a good enough experience for me. Below are images of the posters of the interactive demos, interesting talks and Poster sessions that were being conducted at SERC on its first Open Day.

Interactive Demos at SERC

Poster Presentation

The Exciting talks @ SERC

A few days to the Open Day, I  sent out personal invites to my friends and family, who I presumed would be interested to attend the Open Day. Since, most of my classmates from my undergraduate college were Interning at companies in Bangalore, it was more easy to convince them to attend. One of my colleague and college mate from undergrad, who is also interning at IISc, was giving a talk on Big Data called "From Big Data to Big Knowledge".  The day before the Open Day, we sat together and rehearsed his presentation. I was pretty excited about the portion of his presentation wherein he would be talking about IBM Watson and its ability to master the American game show 'Jeopardy'.  Two of my good friends, who are currently interning at CISCO and CITRIX agreed to attend the IISc Open Day with me. 
Selfie with the fastest SuperComputer in India

Lab Poster Presentation 

Picture with friends at SERC.
Left - Vamshi Reddy Centre - Girish Kumar and Right - Me

XRCI Director giving a talk at the CSA Dept, IISc
on the Open Day 2015

Flower Show at the Main Building  for the visitors