Who Said Honesty is Dead?


In HKali Yugaindu mythology, time is made up of 4 ‘yugas’ or eras –

  1. Krita Yuga or Satya Yuga
  2. Treta Yuga
  3. Dvāpara Yuga
  4. Kali Yuga

Each age sees a gradual decline of dharma, wisdom, knowledge, intellectual capability, life span and emotional and physical strength. They together constitute 4,320,000 years. Currently, we are supposed to be in the Kali yuga, the worst era to be in, when there is no dharma at all.

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My Early Morning Train Adventure


My passion for slumber has landed me in trouble several times. Because of my tendency to catch a snooze after the alarm has rung, I have been late to class, for exams, for work, almost missed a flight – but the most memorable one was when I actually managed to miss my station and had to get off at another one 34 km away (about 22 miles) – during a train journey.

Just 22 miles? Sure doesn’t seem like much – unless you are ascertained of the facts surrounding this ‘little’ mistake. I was coming home from College for the holidays – a train trip of around 349 km (217 miles). I boarded the train at around 6 in the evening and I was supposed to reach my destination by around 3:30 am.

What with exams just getting over, and me pulling all-nighters to cram for them, I was very weary that evening – the perfect recipe for a mini-disaster – though little did I know it then. I was the only one among my friends who had an overnight journey to get home. So, though I had my friends with me for the first 3 hours of the journey, after that I was all alone.

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Computer Engineering Education in India – The pointlessness of it


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Image by Global Game Jam via Flickr

I am of the opinion that teaching  a B.E or B.Tech Computer Science student subjects like  Systems Analysis and Design, Software Engineering etc, i.e., those boring subjects of the 7th and 8th semesters, is usually pointless. The reason being that the student has absolutely no clue what the professor or lecturer is talking about. And in most cases, the teacher does not know what he/she is talking about either 🙂

I remember how I used to cram these subjects in College without any idea what I was trying to study. My aim was to score in the examinations and for that I had to cram and stuff my head with the material in my books, spew them out on the paper and go home with a ‘lighter’ head. Systems Analysis and Design, or S.A.D as we used to call it, was truly a SAD state of affairs. The class was taken by our Head of the Department (hereafter referred to as HOD) and this was the time to catch up on any pending sleep for most of us. This task would be done either by sleeping through the class or staying in the Hostel. Either way, we didn’t think we were missing much. In fact, the term Software Devlopment Lifecycle was always a huge mystery for me and I used to wonder why on earth any sane person wanted to learn such hideous stuff. We used to think that we ought to be given more exposure to actual programming languages, instead of making us create programs for a rising and setting sun, bouncing balls etc in Computer Graphics Lab.

But, then I entered the IT industry…and lo and behold! The Software Development cycle and the different types of lifecycle models took on a new significance to me. That is when I realised the true worth of the subject and how it should have really equipped the student for a job in the IT industry. For once, I looked on the Waterfall and Prototype models with fondness and could actually discourse on the subject in a meaningful form. All that, simply from practical exposure  without opening a single textbook.

Undertaking a major Project in the final year of engineering is supposed to drill these abstract concepts into you – however, we have easy ways out here too. An older brother or sister may ‘help’ by lending his/her project and notes. Or there are institutions specialising in undertaking projects for students and giving them a finished product. Or even better, copy out a Senior’s project (preferably from another college) and present it during the Project seminar. All of these help the student achieve his /her target – to score marks in the Project. But does it serve the higher goal – that of turning out good Computer Engineers? Absolutely not!

A majority of Indian learning systems are by rote and none by exposure to the real world. There ought to be some kind of a check on this to prevent turning out students with a headful of bookish knowledge but can apply none of it in the real world. The Colleges themselves can take a step in the right direction by having tie-ups with companies, even small ones with projects. The students should be made a part of the project from inception to implementation, preferably as soon as the student enters the College.

This is a win-win situation for the Student, College as well as the Company. Since Engineering is for a duration of 4 yeas, the Companies have employees for these 4 years, who can be depended on to stay for those 4 years without resigning. Also they need not be paid. The student benefits from this exposure to corporate world, and is better able to grasp abstract concepts from his practical exposure. The College gets a reputation of turning out good students and professionals.

Friendships


Today has been a wonderful day. I managed to connect with two long-lost friends from College. In fact, I haven’t spoken to one of them for the past 6 years……The reason? Well, let us just say that they are confidential for now 😉


Well, the crux of what I am trying to say is this: usually, when we haven’t spoken to someone for so long, we would feel a slight apprehension, “How would that person react? What will we talk about? Will the person like me calling?”…..and so on.


But, upon speaking with them, I never had any such trouble – it was just like we were back in College and that we had spoken the previous day. I never felt that gap of six years in between us. Friendships of this sort are usually found only during our educational years. After that, especially during our working life, friendships tend to be more extrinsic in nature, without the same degree of feeling or emotion.


Always remember –

Make new friends, but keep the old;
Those are silver, these are gold.
New-made friendships, like new wine,
Age will mellow and refine.
Friendships that have stood the test-
Time and change-are surely best;
Brow may wrinkle, hair grow gray;
Friendship never knows decay.
For ‘mid old friends, tried and true,
Once more we our youth renew.
But old friends, alas! may die;
New friends must their place supply.
Cherish friendship in your breast-
New is good, but old is best;
Make new friends, but keep the old;
Those are silver, these are gold.

                                  (Poem courtesy: essentia.com)