Jun 10, 2012

For AIEEE 2012 students / aspirants

For all AIEEE students eagerly waiting for your scores, trying to figure out your possible rank and college you can get into, check this out - 
If you know your approximate score, you can use the rank predictor on examontv.com -

Once you know your rank, try out the counselling section to check out which college you have the best chance to get into. It also shows the engineering branch along with the college - 

Hope you find the links useful.

Feb 24, 2012

tBook and not iBook is the solution to India's education problems

(photo credit - IVD Volunteers)
Raise you hand if you think that the situation of education in India is pathetic. If you don't think so, i will try to enlighten you in the rest of the post. So keep reading.

Here are some figures to get us started - 
  • Literacy rate in India - 75%. 

Seems good, doesn't it? Let's look closer - 
  • % of students who reach high school - 15%. And just 7%, of the 15% (i.e. 1% of total) who make it to high school, graduate. (source - wikipedia)

Doesn't sound so good anymore. And don't at all get me started on the quality of education (57% of college professors lack either a master's or PhD degree). School enrollments have increased at primary level but has lagged behind in case of secondary and tertiary education. The next logical question to ask is "Why is it so pathetic?". 

The reason, in one word - "ACCESS". Though there are multiple other reasons, non-access to quality education remains the number one and by far the biggest hinderance. 70% of our total population lives in rural areas and this makes distributing education an even bigger challenge. Private firms do not want to open up schools/coaching centers in villages because the Return on Investment is low and economies of scale do not exist. Trying to get the government to do something is a slow, painful and long ride, which most of us do not want to take. Then how the hell do we reach that huge chunk of students who are talented and worthy but still end up working at their father's kirana shop or the highway dhaba? 

The key lies in looking at mediums which are present in most indian homes. There are two such leverage keys currently - 
  • Mobile - India has world's second largest mobile phone user base. Around 900 million (90 crore) users as of December 2011. (source: wikipedia). That is around 80% of our total population!!
  • Television - India had 78% pay TV penetration in 2009 and would reach 90% penetration by 2014! (source - Media Partners Asia Ltd.)
Source: Screen Digest
These are, what an economist will say, high leverage points. Small twist, BIG impact. Between mobiles and TV, mobiles have inherent limitations with respect to their screen size and the amount of data one can consume on it. TV's, on the  other hand, are perfect for distributing knowledge content. We, as a nation, are already addicted to TV. All we need to ensure is that the students switch to the right channel. Done correctly, the TV might no longer be called 'idiot box'. 

With the advent of DTH (penetration in India: 20 crore) and interactive application channels, the line between the idiot box and internet if further blurred. Channels like iExam and iKidz on Airtel are taking the first step towards providing quality education to otherwise unreachable areas. 

With iExam, you are no longer on the mercy of coaching centers to prepare for your exams. Students in the remotest of villages can prepare with the best coaching institute material sitting at their home. See the leverage created? All iExam needs to increase it's impact is add more content and bam!, crores of students cross the line.

iExam twitter page - https://twitter.com/#!/BrizzTv

So what are you waiting for. Go use that leverage and make an impact. Help more students cross that line. Go, do it now!

P.S. - 
For people wanting to know more about the state of affairs in education, you can read this excellent report by worldbank - http://info.worldbank.org/etools/docs/library/235784/2Amit%20Darsecondary.pdf

Feb 11, 2012

Improving website load time - part 1

This was quite a shock. Enabling APC extension made a remarkable difference to my site load time.

Here's how to do it in MAMP, Mac (my local environment) -

Go to MAMP->Preferences->Php tab->php Extensions.
Select APC from the dropdown.

How to do it in a linux environment -
Ubuntu -

Install apc -
pecl install apc

If you get any permission errors like "pecl.php.net" is not writeable by the current user", then do this -

sudo pecl install apc

I still got the following error -
pcre.h: No such file or directory

Did a -
sudo apt-get install libpcre3-dev

and then
sudo pecl install apc
worked like a charm.

Next step is to enable the extension in php.ini file. You can do that either in /etc/php5/apache2/php.ini by adding the following line -


Important: you will need to restart your apache server to load the apc module.
For Ubuntu -

sudo service apache2 restart

Nov 11, 2011

Android Search Dialog Basics

I decided to include a search interface for my first app. It should be easy, i said to myself. Just a textbox and a button and catch the button's onClick event. But Android had other plans in tow. Both to make my life easier as well as difficult (at least to start with). This presentation tries to give a nice and simple explanation of Android trying to help developers develop a search interface for your application.
Hope it helps someone.

Oct 29, 2010

Analysis of my facebook friends

I went through all my historical updates and your posts, comments and likes and came up with the following findings -

You have a need for other people to like and admire you, and yet you tend to be critical of yourself.

While you have some personality weaknesses you are generally able to compensate for them.

You have considerable unused capacity that you have not turned to your advantage. Disciplined and self-controlled on the outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure on the inside.

At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing.

You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. You also pride yourself as an independent thinker; and do not accept others’ statements without satisfactory proof. But you have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others.

At times you are extroverted, affable, and sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, and reserved.

Some of your aspirations tend to be rather unrealistic.

Does that describe you? Was i on target? If yes, by how much?

Jul 16, 2009

Good act, bad act. Hard Choice

A wise guy once told me that if you do 10 good deeds and then 1 bad deed, people will remember the bad one. I knew he exaggerated but there surely is some semblance of truth in the statement.

Making the simple assumption that the statement is absolutely true how does one go about making a decision about doing a good or a bad deed. I roughly tried to calculate the probability that a deed at random which i do is good. Nowhere near 10/11. And considering our original statement, that i have to do atleast 11 good ones out of every 12 ones so that people may not as much remember the bad one, i was in a tight spot. Now i know why it is so easy for one to do wrong.

Let us take example of a typical workplace. Person A and B work under the same manager. Both are given 11 tasks in a period of time. A does 8 satisfactorily and 3 he screws. B does 10 satisfactorily and screws 1. Our theory (and the experience of the wise guy) says that the manager will remember the screwed tasks for both A and B and hence provide similar rating to both.

Of course one can't go around screwing every task but one can surely device a method by which he/she can optimize the excellent/screwed task ratio which results in maximum personal gain as well as professional gain. The model can be further strengthened by throwing in a few other parameters like the point in time of the task (hint: recency effect), task visibility (irrespective of its impact) etc.

Am i missing something or was i late in recognizing it? Let me test it and i will post the results.

Apr 4, 2009

10 pullups at a go!! by far the biggest achievement of my life
eating biscuits... my favorite snacks... two favs revealed in a day, phew!!

Apr 3, 2009

Jan 22, 2009

Whew! Mini marathon completed

Today was surely a red letter day in my life. I participated in a mini-mini marathon (3.5 km :)). But i felt really really good when i completed it. And not just completed, i was the ninth person to complete it among some 200 odd who participated. Though i didn't note the time, i must have completed it in 17-18 mins (the winner finished it in 15 mins). That is a bloody impressive speed of around 12km/hr. One year back i couldn't have imagined in my wildest dreams that i could do this. But now that i have done it, it feels great and my next goal is to run 5k within 25 mins. Means lots of running left in 2009. Hmm. Good luck to me.

Jun 7, 2007

Our Book

There are clear signs that i am going crazy. I want to write a book!! I know its not possible. That is why i am saying that i have gone crazy. But I liked the idea so much that i want to give it a try at least. The topic is so universal. Everyone does it day in and day out. But i have not found a single book which talks about it. Enough of the suspense. I am talking about cribbing. Everyday a substantial portion of me and my friends day is spent in cribbing about one thing or the other. And i am crazy only because i want to write a book and not because i crib for a big part of the day. The second phenomenon is truly universal. The same sounds true specially for the IT industry.

What will the book have? A big question but then the i see no limits for this book. In fact once i start writing i am sure i will have to come out with multiple volumes. I guess a days recording of me and my friends conversation would be enough to write a book! Only problem is putting it all together in an organized manner so that people find it interesting. One can divide the book by stages of life. I mean the type of cribbing one does at different stages of life. Cribbing at school, Cribbing at college, Cribbing at job, Cribbing at home, Cribbing at retirement and so on. Suggestions for any other classification are welcome.

But will me and my friends talks be a good enough sample set for representing the general crib. Probably not. This point of view made me think about writing the book in a different way. What about open source? Take suggestions from everyone. Or say just people who write well. Let one group take care of one part of the book. If we go by the above classification, we can have people between the age of 55-60 take care of Cribbing at retirement and so on. One just needs to define the modules of the book, assign a bunch of people a single module and integrate them. Viola! we have 'The CribBook'. The name of the book reflects my lack of imagination. But again, suggestions are always welcome. Given below is also a suggestion for Table of Content for the book:

  • Definition
  • Different points of time in life when we crib
  • Crib at Pre school
  • Crib at School
  • Crib at College
  • Crib during Graduation
  • Crib during Post Graduation
  • Crib during job
  • [add more here]
  • How to crib
  • Cribology
When crib itself is so popular why can't we have a subject on cribbing in the universities - Cribology. The subject will have all the good affects which cribbing can have on your health. The professors for the subject will be from, yes, IT industry.
  • Crib Language
One can come up with new phrases like crib city, crib street, Crib dose etc.
  • Glossary of terms
People will have crib breaks instead of coffee or sutta breaks. There will be competitions on cribbing. 'OMG! i can't believe it. I just won the crib trophy'. Doctors will prescribe crib doses to patients. Finally the word 'talk' will be replaced by the word 'crib' in the dictionary. Your manager will say 'Lets crib about it'.

This is all i can think right now. Do let me know your views on the book. If you like it do suggest ways to implement the community model to write the book. Do suggest your cribbing experiences (or should we say crib breaks). If you don't like it there must be something wrong with you and i think you need some crib dose.

Yours cribly,
The perennial cribber.