Saturday, April 26, 2008

Lets go Clubbin'

Saturday, April 26, 2008 2
The water coolers are one of the premier hubs to ascertain any activity that's happening on campus. So much so that during the cultural and technical festivals there's a serious space problem and a cold war takes place where every club/association tries to strategically place their posters so as to clearly block the viewers vantage point and distort it to their advantage.

As I finished gulping down the cold water, half of which was splashed onto my hirsute face, splitting further into numerous tributaries, I stare at the wall which is filled with posters of quizzes and talks and meets but one such poster caught my eye.

It was about a club called TRENDZ. A club meant for "designin".

In my two years at BITS I have seen quite a few clubs emerge out of no where. Started with a tech boom catering to the ever increasing needs of Open source disciples who came up with BLUC( BITS Linux Users Club), though I did hear a rumour of another BLIC(BITS Linux Installation club) coming to surface.

Then came the environmentalists and the social entrepreneurs and we had MY INDIA aka Nirmaan aka Bharat Nirman Sankalp, aka you get the idea, set up a year before I came. From what I have heard, they have also set up camp at a lot of other places and generally help in social service and having tutorials for people in and around Pilani as well donating clothes to needy, something I got to know after seeing their propaganda-esque posters. Also was the emergence of bigger brand names such as Rotaract, a club that after some difficulty with the administration finally took off. Their modus operandi is to find innovative ways to create awareness amongst BITSians, mainly on environmental issues, be this through panel discussions, acoustic jams or open air documentaries.

Wall Street Club(WSC) of BITS-Pilani took off right under my nose, as one of my friends was (then) a core member of the club, and they basically wanted to foster the spirit of making money and introduce the n00bs as well as the pro into the world of business through late night skype sessions and even investing in mutual funds(the first of its kinds)

And then came Symposiarch, a club that has an active collaboration with the Languages Group of BITS Pilani. Comprising of a wide variety of people, they wanted people to speak out and from what I hear "wanted a platform where people could speak their mind through debates and group discussions, which would in the later future also help them in their GD/PI". The latest on their list is the Koffee with Karan version of BITS creatively called While the Coffee lasts.

These are amongst the lucky few that took off. Yet there were many which couldn't, which I am surely assuming had nothing to do with what they stood for. I strongly feel that its about time that BITS actually need an official Peacock Surveying Society or a Blue Cross or a Collectors Club.

With more clubs coming up this surely gives the students more opportunity to choose from and definitely makes it easier for the administration purposes. A student who wants to pursue something now has many choices to choose from instead of just on centralized clubs, instead now there are 5 centralized clubs. It also surely helps during festivals, where all the clubs need to host their events. More events obviously mean more people winning (for most of the events are clashing with something or the other and hence there can't be the same winner) which will surely boost the morale of the average junta who are anyways depressed with academics.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Obituary

Friday, April 25, 2008 0

It wasn't exactly an exquisite piece of art, yet I adored it. With 500 MB of memory and powerful earphones, it was my compensation for an IPod, with a 1.3 Mega Pixel camera, it was my makeshift digi-cam and with Monster Truck Madness installed, it was my time pass while waiting in long queues. Oh yes, it could make calls too.

After four years of begging, I had finally got a cell phone. Before that, my parents never quite found the need for me to have one. They never had a problem with me chatting with my pals at 4 in the morning. Whenever they felt that I might be going to a place where I’d need to contact them, my mom would give me her phone and for other times, they’d just hope that I wouldn’t get myself into a shady corner with no public phone booth.

Been nearly 2 years, and it has served me well. Squished in between books in my bag, dropped more times than the number of times a Mexican can fart, trampled upon, farted upon, played the ball in numerous dodge ball games, it withstood the test of stress and strain.

Loyalty seemed to trot in its circuit. It always did find it’s way back pretty much like the omnipresent pug which we all know from commercialism, despite its careless owner. Despite being quite dependent I always treated it like dirt, probably took it for granted too, ergo its little journey to the end of the world. That’s when it showed immense resilience and earned my respect. However the aftermath was evident. The incident did eventually take its toll on the gizmo. Gone were the days when it’d last awake all night long, gone were the days when I could put an alarm and count on it to wake me up for a 15 mark tutorial. Frozen screens would epitomize its new look which would obviously incur my wrath upon it. I’d through it around like stereotypical brute of a husband through manhandle his meek wife.

It has indeed passed its prime and was making its way for an untimely demise. And then today it happened.

After getting a 220 buck recharge, I switch it on and a message greets me



Start-up failure. Please contact the retailer.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Thought for the day

Monday, April 21, 2008 2
What's great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coca Cola, Liz Taylor drinks Coca Cola, and just think, you can drink Coca Cola, too. A coke is a coke and no amount of money can get you a better coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the cokes are the same and all the cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.
The Philosophy of Andy Warhol

Friday, April 18, 2008

Marketing Strategies

Friday, April 18, 2008 6

In a town like Pilani, where a samosa chat acquires the status of lasagne, the primary food station is a roadside stall (or simply called a redi).

The other day I was sitting at one of these redis and was contemplating over what to eat and I saw him squeeze around 25 lemons into a glass. My eyes just widened. As far as food is concerned my tastes are totally feminine. I love sour foodstuff. So I asked him he could make a lemon soda using that pulp.

“Umm…this has 30 lemons in it. You know that right?” He said in his rustic Hindi.

“Ahuh, imagine how sour it’ll be.” I said enthusiastically.

“I am sorry sir, but I cannot serve you this. I just cannot” He shot back.

And then he went on about how 30 lemons would simply kill me. It would just cut through my skin (him giving examples of how lemon juice can erode walls). He said it was his moral duty to stop me from harming himself.

Oh now we’re on to something I thought.

He continued saying how my health is quite important to him, for I was one of his regular customers. He later said that he wasn’t greedy and that, he could have very well made that mega-lemon soda which would have cost 50 rupees (for lemons aren’t cheap in Rajasthan these days), but then what? Would that make him a millionaire? No. Instead he was at a risk of losing me for a couple of days, which would result in losses far greater than 50 rupees to him (for I eat quite a lot).

There is cut throat competition amongst the BITS-Pilani redis. The redi owners (at least some of them), everything works on trust and honesty. You would rather build a relationship with a customer rather than try to get hold of his money (even if that is what you eventually want to do), for the student is going to be around for the next four years. It makes business sense to tell him that the redi pretty much belongs to him and that money isn’t an issue at all.

Also this particular rediwallah also knows that students can bitch a lot (after all he listens to them all day long as they gobble his food) and that he should provide them with the best service to his capabilities. And this makes them loyal which in turn makes these loyal customers as a sort of brand ambassadors.

Later on, this rediwallah also told me quite frankly how the other redi wallah( his main competition) is totally unlike him. How the other person would have readily given me the killer lemon soda with a smiling face. He also went on to say how in a college since we’re away from out parents, we’re like his children in some respect and it’s his duty to at least warn us before hand.

So by now:

1) He’s shown to me that he’s really cares about my health, for I am his main customer and that my health is quite important to me.

2) His competition is a money hungry leech quite unlike him

There is a reason why this redi wallah is so successful. Today he owns a taxi service, couple of restaurants, yet his major source of income is this redi which serves refreshments to over 400 people in BITS-Pilani. He is the undisputed tycoon here. And how does he do it? He keeps his customers happy and takes good care of them, because only if they are healthy will they spend more money on his venture. What he also does is that engages in some pretty interesting conversation. As a result you end up spending more time and hence more money at his redi.

I am planning to do my Economics thesis under him.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Elite institute of technology

Monday, April 14, 2008 11

The last few days, nearly everyone has updated their blogs and nearly all the editorials contain the same topic. After all no institution in India features mores in various forms of media than the prestigious IIT.

Content wise, it all been heard and everyone has almost taken sides. Yet this caught my eye. It’s an open editorial by one Aditya Jha, the global branding guru of Infosys Technologies, who also once in a while writes for outlook magazine. This time he chose the Indian Express to express his views. And quite interesting ones too.
While talking about the establishment of the hazaar new IIT that are going to be set up in various parts of the country, he says
The newly set up IITs are going to provide the HRD ministry with the democratic votes and moral position in an enlarged IIT Council, like Canada and Bermuda did to Dalmiya, that will drive one regressive law after another to finally reduce the original “big 5” IITs to a totally hopeless and supine position.
This strange analogy might still make sense to some but will this?

In a country of a billion people, what’s wrong with 10000 IIT-ians passing out each year? To begin with, it blows apart the core value of brand IIT: super brains.
Or this
Brilliance is elitist. There is a difference between brilliance and above average. The IIT entrance exam, the JEE, was designed to shock and awe and separate the brilliant from the above average. There is a difference between JEE rank 500 and 50,000.

If we end up producing 50,000 IIT-ians every year, we would, most certainly, be killing brand IIT.
For someone who has actually spent four years in IIT, one would expect that Mr Jha would know that all people who get through JEE are not exceptional or alternatively framed, everyone who missed out on the JEE isn’t really below average. Especially with the current pattern of the examination where questions are multiple choice, the JEE has certainly become an easier exam from the dreaded mains where the cut offs would be quite low.

Please let me clarify my point here lest someone points it out to me later. What I mean is that although its no surprise that IITians are quite smarter than the average lot (and some of them are really brilliant, I mean way above the rest of the lot), this in no way means that every IITian is “brilliant” or “super-human” as he claims to be.

If read carefully one can see that this isn’t a vent against allowing the OBC/SC/ST into the institution based on their caste or their past, but it’s a rant against diluting the IIT brand by allowing more people to gain access to it.According to Mr Jha, IIT should remain that hot blonde who can never be approached, the Holy Grail that can never be found, the horizon that can never be reached. By allowing more IIT’s to be built we’re merely destroying its sanctity.

Later he goes on to claim

Brand IIT is not about IITs; it’s about IIT-ians. And, mostly, it is about undergraduate IIT-ians at that. People who have done M-Tech from IITs always feel discriminated against. Since they never cracked the JEE, there’s no way they will be accepted into the tribe.

For his sake, I hope his boss doesn’t read this.

A quick look at the comments section of the article and one can gauge the agitation of the crowd upon seeing something like this.And he also acts cheeky by putting something like this in the article.
An IIT-ian friend of mine once went out for an arranged date with an air hostess in Hong Kong. As the music changed gears, the air hostess kept asking him to dance with her and my friend kept declining with a polite, “I can’t do the twist/disco/cha-cha-cha.” Finally, the air hostess lost her cool and is reported to have demanded, “What? You can’t even do the Can-Can? What can you do?”

To which, the proud IIT-ian responded, “I can do second order partial differential equations; can you?”

Now as Confused so brilliantly put it, how is this relevant? Seriously, how does solving PDE really make you super smart. For all I know, the IITian probably gave up an opportunity to score.

I don’t think Mr Jha read his post all over once before sending it to the Indian Express. Seriously I understand that one should be proud of one's alma mater, but seriously dude...


Crossposted on Mutiny.in

Critical analysis

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Gone only...

Thursday, April 10, 2008 10
Remember the chatter about the OBC/SC/ST quota last year. The row which made Arjun Singh into an instant villan and increased the number of hits belonging to his name by a crore-fold. Well, there have been some updates to the whole issue. And they're pretty SHOCKING. The supreme court today gave a nod to the 27% of seats to be given away as charity to the OBC's.
According to Rediff News:

A five-judge Constitution bench cleared the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006 providing for the quota, by a unanimous verdict...The verdict came on a bunch of petitions by anti-quota activists challenging the Act. They vehemently opposed government's move saying caste cannot be the starting point for identifying backward classes. The inclusion of creamy layer in the reservation policy was also questioned by the anti-quota petitioners.




Well seriously speaking for all the brouhaha about how the nation's population majorly falls into the above mentioned categories, its tough to accept the fact that most of the people giving the JEE belong to the backward classes. Its also tough to accept the fact that when you go to write the JEE, one of the most competitive exams our country has to offer ( though it has become relatively easier), you're basically fighting for just half the seats, which to begin with aren't a substantial amount.

This decision is going to be implemented from the 2008-2009 academic year across the IIT's, IIM's and other government colleges.

The IIM's are going to be the ones losing the most. Seriously the top management institute in Asia cannot have half the seats( which are around a thousand to begin with) going away by reservations. But from what I know, the reservation factor in IIM's comes only once the candidate has cleared CAT, which makes it a somewhat better process as compared to the "easy" way that seems to be case in the JEE.

I guess now the best thing to do would be to switch on the TV. Every channel will be showing the protests and there will be panel discussions and probably some hunger strikes I suppose as well. This will be followed by satires, editorials and what not. The government is really going to get it this time.

Also, I can almost count the number of seconds before I see every person on my gtalk list change his status message to "Proud to be a BITSian". As proud as I am about my institution, I feel this is a concern for all Indians.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Attack of the clones

Wednesday, April 09, 2008 4
Indeed it is.

And they're pissing me off. Those darned LGMF's (no relation to Little Green Men FYI) and those moths have engulfed my premises. Then there are those strange looking insects who for the lack of a better name have simply been called, "Peter" or "Michael", but as any BITSian would tell you, these are the most dreaded of the lot.
A tryst with Peter (who seems to have a strange affinity to people's crotches) and you'll be busy scanning the shelves for all sorts of Itch guards and Ring Guards. I've already decided to keep my nails lest some serious skin scratching be required.

Gone are the days when I could sleep wrapped up in my razai, gone are the days when my door would be open and lights switch on, I guess summer is seriously the time when we SHOULD practice and ore importantly market all the power saving tactics and events such as the Earth Hour. For people are low on enthu and seriously not too keen to turn on the lights.

This is also the time when I wish there were more lizards in my room. Despite my uneasiness around them, I still would want them, so they somehow seem on my side. But then that's probably because I haven't woken up with one staring down my throat.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Filling forms

Tuesday, April 08, 2008 0
There's something about filling forms manually that makes me very uncomfortable. In today's one-click and then refresh world, where I am accustomed to filling forms online, when I do fill manual forms once in a while, I just go blank.

Yes I know that was a bad one.

But bad puns aside, watching me fill a form is a treat for you black humor lovers. Like a retard, slower than a snail, my eyes squinting at the form so that I don't make a spelling error. Its like I can see the future. But despite the foresight I end up committing the blunder and end up writing the D as an O. Though higher up in the hierarchy of form filling sins are screwing up the cases and the worst of them all, filling the wrong blank.

Those darn boxes aren't of much help too.

I always take 2 copies of a form if I can help it. It helps me calm down, re assuring me that there's always a plan B.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Origin of creativity

Monday, April 07, 2008 1
Here's another comic strip I came up with in my free time.

Craigslist for BITS

Buysell, it's the BITSian version of Craigslist. Well sort of anyways. It's been high time an online system was made to sell stuff. The site started couple of days ago and since then has gathered quite a following. They have as an "introductory offer" revoked all membership fees for the time being( thank you very much). You can trade cycles, books, computer accessories , actually just about anything.

The site also is pretty uncluttered and has a clean look(unlike craigslist :P).


P.S:Though the fact that the site is hosted by one Cube Inc does raise suspicion among regular junta(atleast those who are familiar with who Cube is, or is it Qube?)

Also I'd personally advice these guys to change the name of the site to something else for there exists another Buysell.com, based in NewZealand. But since the BITSian site seems to be hosted on a local server, it shouldn't matter.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

ADS-7UP's new Brand Ambassador

Sunday, April 06, 2008 2
Experience MARIO'S HIGH!

DRINK


Friday, April 04, 2008

tribute to XKCD

Friday, April 04, 2008 0
Here's my tribute to one of my favorite webcomics. This is something I came up with while in my Measurement Techniques lab.

On open letters

Enough open letters written by bloggers are surfacing the internet these days. Letters to celebrities and politicians, letters about decisions been taken, mistakes been made, letters about what could-have-been. Letters from people with strong opinions and who probably even share a concern.

Hawkeye had an interesting article the other day on his blog where he shares his opinion on Open letters.

They Suck.

I have written one (or two) in my blog. I now feel very ashamed about it. Every open letter I read makes me cringe. Open Letters are usually defined as letters read by everyone else except the intended recipient. Mainly because the writer does not have the ‘vakku’/ is not important enough to attract the attention of the intended recipient.


I couldn’t agree more. Having seen enough open letters on the World Wide Web, I can safely assume that the people, to whom the letter is directed, seldom get to read it. These include our esteemed politicians, law makers or any authority. Open letters are more of a vent post than anything else. The satisfaction of typing ones thoughts down in a rather “in-your-face” manner more often than not, is compensation enough and no further effort is made to ensure that the open letter reaches the person it is intended to reach. At best, it receives comments from friends, fellow bloggers, stumblers and random passers who share the concern, and sometimes even generates enough publicity to uplift the blogger to than status of an “activist” but nothing more.

Open letters could also perhaps be an interesting way to generate more publicity for your blog. Apart from that it probably also boosts the writers ego. I mean, obviously, if a letter written by you generates 30 comments, most of which are a positive pat on the back, you would obviously consider your job done, even if the person the letter was directed to was sipping orange juice, completely oblivious to the fact that somewhere in some corner of the world wide web there exists a letter directed to him/her.

An open letter can only work if its the other way around. If a famous person addresses it to a group of people, like Steve Jobs’ letter to Ipod users, or Abdul Kalam’s letter to kids of high schools. For a blogger to get his point across to someone important, either the open letter has to receive a lot of media publicity or maybe he/she has to look for an alternative. Obama Girl anyone? If not that then maybe in the official forums of a company which has responsive moderators who will give a damn about your opinions. Another way might be through letters to editorials of popular dailies (for chances are they’re more popular and read by a larger diverse group than your blog).

Mirrored at Mutiny.in

Summertime

Summer is going to be very interesting. Compared to the lethargy that ruled last year's summer, this summer will hopefully be action packed.

First off, if the guys at the passport office don't mistake me for a criminal, I shall be packing my bags off to Cairo for 4 days. It'll be awesomeness beyond awesomeness.

Also, trips to Goa and Bangalore are being planned as I write this entry.

And the Practice School system, viz is compulsory internship for BITSians after they complete their second year, their results are out. I am so happy that I got it in Hyderabad. And what more? Chances are they give stipend as well. Probably one of the very few who do. The station is Ratna Infrastructure.

Some other plans also under wraps for this summer. Plan to get more involved and active this time around.

Here's to an eventful summer.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Un-social networking

Tuesday, April 01, 2008 2

After seeing my Linkedin profile one day, a friend of mine asked me:
“Dude why are you on this website?

I gave him the best answer to my capabilities:
“It’s a professional social network. It helps me maintain relations with other like minded professionals and helps in networking. Isn’t that sort of self explanatory?”

He retorts: “But how has this ever helped you?”

I shot back: “Well, so far it hasn’t to any significant extent but it will later, hopefully.”

This really got to him.

“Dude Rishabh! You know I am sick and tired of Social Networking. Seriously man! Orkut was bad enough and then finally when I got off my lazy tushy and signed up for Orkut, I realised I was a tad bit too late for it for all my friends were now on Facebook.”

Facebook, ah, the plight of so many of us. With its never ending applications and it “uncluttered” look, why it would irk me so much, I wonder.

He added, “And now there’s a professional networking site, Jesus man.”

He continued, “You know what I want to do Rishabh? I want to make an un-social network. You know, what’s the point in doing something that everyone’s doing? I want to innovate. So here’s what I propose: Just leave social networking. Anyone can make friends there. It’s futile. What’s cool is that I give you a month’s time and hundred real life friends and you have to lose them all. Piss them off; ignore them, anything, but after a month I don’t want to see any of their filthy faces in your friends list. Now that seems like something a Venture Capital should be willing to seed. That’s what I am talking about.”

Pranks at BITS

Though the pranks played here at BITS-Pilani might not match to the extravagant and elaborate hoaxes at MIT, on the occasion of the April Fool's Day, the students here decided to have a little harmless fun which well didn't involve any vandalism but certainly helped pop a vein.

Sometime around 12, a lot of my friends' gtalk status message changed to 'Bangalore' or 'Agilent NOIDA Yesss....' This immediately grabbed my attention for this could only mean one thing. The list of the Practice School Station ( the compulsory summer internship a student has to undergo after his 2nd year at BITS-Pilani and Goa campuses). Since most of these people on my list were unknown to each other I thought that obviously the results would have been out and quick;y asked all of them what the link was. They instead said that they'd be more than happy to tell me what station I had got. This was where my suspicion started and was strengthened by the fact that the PS website working( it would have broken down had the results been declared from the overflow) and well obviously had no links to the result.

I guess now that this is done, all I can do is wait for the Google Prank to be put up.
 
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