October 26, 2002


I love Metal. Metal Music. I really dont want to bother about definitions or try to tell you what *I* really think Metal Music is or ought to be. That is not how I work. Rather I will just try to make a little distinction for those of you, who are not necessarily into this kind of music.

The entire scene of Rock and Metal is not really clean. Once you start delving into it, it starts getting murkier and horribly convoluted. The convolution starting with the nomenclature. There are a variety of rocks, metals and other stuff all over the place, each band promoting yet another of its own variety to stand out. I dont have either the patience or the capacity to go into all these. Primarily look at three kinds of music, rock, metal and alternative. And that is more than enough for you to enjoy music in all its glory.

Rock basically stems from the early rock-and-roll bands of the beetles with their amazing (now dated) attitude towards life. It progresses with time becoming more modern and more rich with groups like Rolling Stones, Led Zepplin, Van Halen, AC/DC and peters down at groups like Guns N' Roses. Here you see attitude, a common aspiration set, and musically an increasing dependance on guitar strings, on distortion and a decreasing volume and increasing pitch of vocals. The technology use also increases across this set. The themes are predominantly emotional, with love hanging in big time. "she" is almost always there. So are misunderstandings and broken hearts. Of course you do also find traces of other stuff, like fear, animosity etc. But that is more attitude than anything else. Rock is one of the biggest influences on the lifestyle of a large number of people over a particularly long period of time.

Metal is the big brother of Rock. Whatever Rock can do Metal can, only harder. Metal is the more noisier, faster and more rich cousin of rock, so much that it almost becomes a disincentive to a majority of Rock fans. "GN'R is fine, but I just cannot listen to anything harder". Metal in its numerous hard and noxios forms - hard, trash, neo, industrial, etc. focusses on topics different from the traditional ones. Aliens, Satan, God, the Sandman, fear, anger, jealousy and other more baser and powerful influences are found in plenty. Guitars are particularly caustic, vocals throaty, lyrics explicit and sex being not the only reason. Metallica, Megadeth, Pantera, Slayer and other incredible powerful bands form the line up here reaching bands like Clown, Gwar and others that make words like 'music' a distant stretch of the imagination. Metal is more about making a statement, not to those around you, but to yourself. While rock shaped how people lived, ate, drove and danced, metal shaped the way people thought and felt. "she" and love a mostly missing.

Alternative is all else. In between, in the flanks, all around. Floyd, Linkin Park, Amorphis and so on and so forth. Probably all other forms like Gothic, Grunge, Rap and the lots can be dumped into this couldron. Alternative is what you do when your emotions are too raw and need either a time-out or healing. "she" might hang around, either to be dumped or slaughtered. Alternative is everything from bad-ass to everything sensible about music.

This is good. But the problem is not to tell a Rock fan what I feel about Metal, not to tell an Alternative fan about the stirrings of a Gothic Symphony. Rather, it is to address that mire that thrives in what we call the pop and the classical. Pop is all that rock is not. Infested with sugary femme fatales and boyish kids with neither the originality nor the substance to move from the disco floor to the home, from the lips to the heart. It is not that I am against pop. It is just that I hate it.

Classical is everything pop and rock are not. Classical is what I call all other forms of music, especially indegenous music evolved over the centuries. Music where everything is not just black or white. Music that realises what it really is, and the incredible power it holds over the listener. Music that is single minded in its pursuit to replicate the world in the air waves. Music that told you where to go, not what is or what can be. That is what I refer to as Classical.

Classical music is really a mature form. Evolved over time, it is aware of its potency. It knows what music does to the emotions, and knows how to manipulate them and how to effect them. Only that it is simple. Classical normally deals with music in its elements. I deals with singular, basic emotions. I knows happiness, sadness. It knows peace. But it does not care about higher emotions. Nor does it concern itself with more baser forms of emotions.

Rock and Metal fundamentally differ in this respect. These are considerably richer forms of music. Richer in the amount of emotional content that they can carry. They can tell a story and not just evoke an emotion. They can evoke fear, anger, angst, helplessness, anxiety. They are emotions from one mature intelligence to another. They deal with the adult and not the child.

People are put off from heavier forms of music because it is noisy. Because it will affect the ears and cause deafness. Hey, dont do that! Give Metal a Chance. If it is loudness that concerns you, just turn the volume down. But listen to harder stuff. If you thought noise was not for you, you are sorely mistaken. Nothing can replicate you as powerfully and as completely as metal or rock. While classical can make you yearn for what you are not, metal can show you what you are. Metal is noise, but noise is not bad, or silly or a cause for deafness.

People tell me that Metal really hits them when they are drunk, when their defences are down. If you want more proof that metal talks to your heart and your soul, you probably are better off listening to britney spears talking about how beautiful she is.

Dont discount something just because it is noisier.

Give metal a chance.

Ever wondered what would happen if you were all alone in a city. Everything else existing, but if you were the only living person in the entire city. How would that be.

I am thinking I will write a little fiction in the days to come. Am kinda fed-up with all this serious stuff. The first part of the story coming right up.


October 25, 2002


"Lets think objectively" is a common ring you hear, especially if things are not going the way the speaker wants them to. "Objectively speaking..." said that very important person when he was asked about his views on the oil embargo. "It is time people rose above their narrow considerations and thought objectively" said a great saint who was dressed like what seemed like a saint.

So I decided, I would do it. Objectivity in everything I do. Be in oil embargoes or just basic thinking. But I failed.

How would you go about thinking objectively. Someone said "do it with math. There is nothing more objective than math. There is nothing more objective than cold numbers which know not what the user wants." That sounded good. But I really wanted to objectively evaluate who among two girls in my class was more beautiful. Objectively, I assigned scores to various aspects and summed them up. I got an answer that demended a recount. So I objectively did the exercise all over again. A second re-count became a necessity, for the results just got flipped. This continued for sometime, when I realized that the answer actually depended on the time of the day. As time passed relative beauty changed. Objectively I concluded that beauty depends on the time of the day.

Then someone asked me if the actress in the new bond movie was beautiful, and objectively I asked him the time of the day. And he hit me on the head with a rolled copy of the filmfare magazine - quite objectively.

When I was a kid, some people at the place I studied showed a remarkable lack of imagination. "If I become Prime Minister for a day" was a favourite topic for essay writing. And the course was not FNT101 Introduction to Fantasy. Last I knew the people at that place were still that unimaginative and they still have that for a topic.

And I could never do justice to that topic, simply because I could never do justice if it actually happenned. Governmental role has been critisized so many times and so severly, that this would not even matter. The most common grouse has been that it is always partisan, and never neutral. Or in other words it is never Objective.

But every theory dealing with either human behavoir or with human action is based on the fundamental assumption that humans are selfish bigots, who dont care two hoots about what happens to the rest of the society. Surprisingly though, that is true.

The point is. WAKE UP PEOPLE, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS OBJECTIVITY. I am sick of people using Objectivity as an excuse to do anything they feel like. I am sick of people complaining of lack of objectivity in others. I am sick of not understanding why other people cannot be as objective as me. This is my wakeup call. There is no such thing as objectivity. WAKE UP.

I love compl(I)ments, with an I and not complements which has an E instead of an I.

so long and thanks for the compliments


October 04, 2002

CATB Revisited

This is in continuation of an earlier post, where I talked about the Cathedral And The Bazaar (CATB), which I believe is one of the most powerful essays of its kind. In this post I want to talk about an experience which makes the Bazaar a more meaningful idea.

Okay the basics first. The CATB talks about two forms of software development - the cathedral or the proprietary model (the Microsofts of this world) and the bazaar or the open source and related models (the people behind GNU and Linux etc). In comparing the two models there have been sevaral ideas thrown in, economic, psychological etc. Here is another insight.

Was talking to a friend yesterday, who had worked in an Infotech company called Infosys. During the discussion we almost immeadiately agreed that she was not a person who hated technology, until she joined Infosys. Something happenned at Infosys that forever changed her opinion about technology. This somehow brought on deja vu for me. I remembered having the same discussion with more than one person earlier. Suddenly it struck me, that the reason why ex-Infocions were shying away from technology could actually lie with their stay in Infosys, and might not be a coincidence after all. I decided to find out more.

It seems that Infosys, during the days of boom, used to the hilt its USP of cheap Indian workforce. Infosys, periodically hired some of the best talent in the country by throwiing enormous amounts money at them. In fact, Infosys became such a phenomena that any engineer, irrespective of discipline, wanted to end up doing a job with Infosys. So much so that there actually were fears that there would be a resouce crunch in other engineernig disciplines in the country if Infosys continued on its path. Fortunately, the bubble burst, but that is another story.

Now all these engineers, intelligent people mind you, who were 'bought' by Infosys were taken to their imposing zoos and housed in A/C cubicles and were given crap as work. Infosys followed standard "cathedral" models of software development. Small groups were given specific tasks. Each individual was further given smaller, meaningless, 'coglike' projects. It primarily consisted either of repititive 'copy paste' of existing code, or testing and recommending changes to other code authors. Work was always in small modules.

There was no real development - no one developed a sensible module, everyone attacked a small very very focussed I/O situation. There was hence no learning, either of the programming language or the logic of the problem or hints of the solution. Further, due to reasonable code archives, development was little other than copy-paste. It generally ended up as dreary repititive work, but someone had to do it, and someone human. Not only was there no learning, but the reward for doing something well was repitition of the same job - over and over again. In the name of specialisation, absolutely no job rotation was possible, atleast not enough to retain interest. And about having ownership of written code - hah forget it.

One another class of operations was testing and bug-fixing. The testing section was another nightmare. Testing, is something not generally relished by builders of code themselves. Imagine having to test code that has been _assembled_ by another person. Sheer boredom - no quality work was possible. Still more stagnation in the entire process.

Bug-fixing was worse. Yeah it was. Bug-fixing naturally involved more than one person, the testor and the actual developer. And relations between the twain always managed to deteriorate. This meant that bug-testing was never with a view to improve code, or performance, but just to impress/escape observation of peers. All the wrong reasons, for the most critical of operations.

And this is a typical model of software development. So what did this result in?

First of all, it made the people involved _hate_ code. And not just code, the hatred extended to just about any technical issue. Considering that most of these people were engineers from established institutes, such hatred was no mean feat.

Secondly, the sheer monotonicity of the jobs resulted in a very high turnover of jobs in the organization. The high pays helped, but not for long, and not in the current environments. And not to mention, this did not help the quality of code in any positive way.

Third, the code suffered, and the costs sky rocketed. Some of the prices that Infosys quotes, almost makes me jump out of my skin. And this is just not restricted to Infosys alone. Ever looked at the prices of software? If you are a developer, you will know how high they *really* are. Have you ever looked at the quality/functionality of most software and wondered why it cost so much. Well here is the reason for you. Incredibly costly man-hours. And the model is to blame.

The best part of course, is that I have not even touched the great sink called maintenance, and services. That is another story for another day. But looking at the basic development model alone, doesnt it not look so incredibly inefficient. Compare this with a plausible model using open source components, and a bazaar style of development. Can the Cathedral ever match the prices of the Bazaar?

No, never. Once the customers realise that, the Cathedral will find survival difficult.

signing off as in the last post - Long live the bazaar.


October 02, 2002


Okay, here I am back. This is the first time I am doing a second post in the same day. But I just cannot help it. For I have discovered an incredible piece on the net. The page talks about some exerpts from the book "The User Illusion" by Tor Norretranders (Translated by Jonathan Sydenham;Viking Penguin, 1998; ISBN 0-670-87579-1; 467 pages). And I think it is amazing. You ought to read that book. As the author of the page said, if it does not excite you, check your vital signs. In the exerpt, the author of the page talks about the term "user illusion" which is again very similar to the concept of the "Sphere of perception" that we had talked about earlier. Amazing really. Googling a lot now. Will add more to this post as and when.

Update: Check out the first link that google threw up. Some more reading the book without buying it. I _am_ going to buy it, but this it till then. Check this out...

Shorthand: conscious self = "I"; unconscious self = "me"


(Ref: The Inner Game of Tennis. "When you short-circuit the mind by giving it an ‘overload’ of things to deal with, it has so many things to attend to that it no longer has time to worry. The "I" checks out and lets the "me" check in.)


Spirituality merely involves taking your own life seriously by getting to know yourself and your potential. This is no trivial matter, for there are quite a few unpleasant surprises in most of us. The dominant psychological problem of modern culture is that its members do not want to accept that there is a Me beyond the I. The Me is everything the I cannot accept: It is unpredictable, disorderly, willful, quick, and powerful.

From the Amazon.com editorial review of the book "The Inner Game of Tennis" (Paperback - 122 pages Revised edition (May 1997) Random House (Paper); ISBN: 0679778314)...

A phenomenon when first published in 1972, the Inner Game was a real revelation. Instead of serving up technique, it concentrated on the fact that, as Gallwey wrote, "Every game is composed of two parts, an outer game and an inner game." The former is played against opponents, and is filled with lots of contradictory advice; the latter is played not against, but within the mind of the player, and its principal obstacles are self-doubt and anxiety. Gallwey's revolutionary thinking, built on a foundation of Zen thinking and humanistic psychology, was really a primer on how to get out of your own way to let your best game emerge. It was sports psychology before the two words were pressed against each other and codified into an accepted discipline.

Primed to Discover

Did you ever notice that after you have just learnt a new word, it seems to pop up from all sorts of places. And you wonder how you were able to make sense of stuff in the era before you learnt the word. I have been watching myself watch new words pop out all the time, and have been wondering. It seems this is not just a problem with me, and in fact it is actually a documented fact. When you learn a new word, though it drops out of your consciousness, your sub-consciousness is 'primed' to tag these new words. This is a way in which the sub-consciousness tries to cement your learning through repetition. By tagging words to pop-out it is ensuring that you consciously learn them.

Remind me to thank my sub-consciousness the next time I meet it.

Hey, how would it be, to meet my own sub-consciousness. Remember the sphere of perception we had defined earlier. It was the set of all inputs that a person actually learns from. Well, I guess we ought to add the term 'consciously' to that now. And this also calls for us to rectify the entire setup of the learning process that we talked about.

In an earlier post, I had talked about the two differentiators that make a difference between the way people learn and develop. Taking on the model of the neural networks, there are two primary difference, the amount of input accepted and the learning rate on these inputs. The amount of input accepted was tagged with the term "sphere of perception". Now, we ought to make slight changes to it. The sphere of perception also includes that part of the "sub-consciousness learning" that is relayed back to conscious levels. Although our definition itself does not change, what changes is the kind of inputs available under the definition. Seems that the sub-consciousness is a really aware entity, and it probably gets a lot from its sphere of perception, than the average human does.

Hmm, and where do the twain meet? Dreams? Okay, more broadly sleep. hmm.. Sounds interesting. Imagine a person who did not sleep at all. Well, that person would not be in touch with his sub-consciousness. And what if one day, he finally falls asleep? That is that day, he can actually meet his fellow (sub)consciousness. Wouldnt that be great? I know there are a lot of wrinkles, but those can be ironed out. And what cannot be, we will submit that to a "temporary suspension of disbelief".

Hmm, so how will that meeting be like? Lets say, meeting your sub-consciousness will allow you to form opinions. Maybe that is the final stretch that man has not tapped. I mean, think about it. The meeting of the consciousness with the sub-consciousness could be the fertile ground for "imagination". The ability to "generate" new ideas out of nowhere. Maybe, this ability is not just a matter of conscious effort. Maybe the ability is nothing more than a meeting between the consciousness and the sub-consciousness, followed by an exchange of ideas. Actually it makes sense in a obtuse sort of way.

Lets see if I can put this in the form of a fictional piece. But for that I will have to sleep and see what my sub-consciousness has to say.


October 01, 2002


And more specifically stripped. Incredible song. Or for that matter kokain. Man those riffs just drive you out of your mind dont they.

Filled up a survey today, about some perception thing, of companies recruiting on campus. Was so totally painful. I dont really understand. Why did I spend so much time filling it up. There was this HUGE matrix, which had to be filled with my opinions. Someone did not tell them things properly. I dont have opinions. Not atleast as many to fill up that monstrous matrix of theirs. Well, I did try, for a while. As i tried to form opinions on the spot and them put them on paper. Do you know how hard it is to form opinions on the spot? It is. And if you are finding it easy, you dont form opinions, you just think you do. Trust me on this. :)

One of the most incredible things is the fact that most people around you dont bother to form opinions. They have a few of their own opinions. You can figure out that this is their own opinion when people can be completely irrational about it and its consequences. But most other opinions you see around are only the sum total of the opinions formed from the positive part of your sphere of perception, that is all.

Okay, enough of rambling. Lets continue with the discussion we were having last. In the last post, we talked about the a number of definitions that led to the definition of the LSI or the linear scale of information. Given any observation, it can be located on this scale. What is an observation. An observation is any representation of a Data Source or DS. A photo is an observation of some reality. A word is an observation of some idea. A poem is an observation of some emotion/idea. A simple sentence also is an observation. So is a complex mathematical model of the universe.

One peculiarity about the LSI should be kept in mind. The LSI stretches from 0 to infinity. It is unbounded on the upper side. This means that a DS lies at infinity, and a completely useless bit of information lies at 0. We define data to lie in the small reaches, closer to 0 on the LSI. Information, relatively is higher on the scale. It represents a higher richness of data about a particular DS. Knowledge tends towards the object itself. A picture, worth a 1000 words, is therefore higher on the LSI with respect to the words it replaces.

This can be extended to any object, idea, thought or any other information content without any modifications. We can therefore use this structure to compare and develop better and higher forms of information management systems. That is what is envisaged as the end objective of this study. This structure can be used to describe any informational content with ease. We will go into details about the implementation of this structure soon, but before that we shall look into the way this method can be used to model interactions.

We define an interaction to be a process that allows for transfer of data between a DS and a DA using a Data Transfer Medium. This is the simplest definition of an interaction. An interaction can give rise to one of the following results. Information will be transferred from the DS to the Data Acquirer. In addition, the DS can change its state due to the interaction of the DS with the DTM (also known as the medium). Further, the interaction between the medium and the DA, will cause changes in the DA. Note that these changes are in addition to the simple transfer of information that can be attributed to the interaction.

This in fact follows from the defnitions we had seen yesterday. We have already talked about a query that is used by the DA to get information from the DS. Now when the query travels from the DA to the medium, the medium has obtained information. This causes a change in the medium itself. When the query is transported to the DS, the DS undergoes changes because of the informational content in the query. The exact similar process occurs when the DS replies with the answer to the query. The reader may note that no change occurs in the DA during the asking phase of the query, and no change happens in the DS during the reply phase. The DTM undergoes change twice, with both the query and the answer.

Lets see some practical explanations of the entire structure. Any systemic structure can be abstracted using this. In fact, now with the addition of the term interaction, we can now model dynamic changes in systems too.

Mail me, if you think there is some structure that cannot be abstracted using this framework. We will go into more practical considerations using this framework in later posts.

This is the first time that I actually continued a post beyond just one post. That must mean, I dont really think this idea to be crap.