What the Analyst!!

Recently, I got my first opportunity to contribute to another blog. I was expected to write on a non-technical topic for a blog which is run by one of the most technical person I know of. So here’s what I wrote. Original Post from The CyberPlus Blog is here. Visit the blog for some fantastic stuff.

For the first 21 years of life, I only knew the term ‘programming’. It had a mystic quality to it, the whole idea that everything and anything you saw around you could be programmed. Now, programming could be analogous/hardware based, or digital/software based. A simple example could be how your fan is programmed to rotate at higher speeds as the regulator is turned upwards, versus how your latest TV is programmed to switch channels when you press the swap or back button on your remote, retrieving data from its flash memory about which was the previous channel. I had understood this much by the time I turned 21. And I had learnt a few lines of BASIC programming, heard of FORTRAN & COBOL, of the ubiquitous C, and the scary JAVA. But that was the limit of my information on programming, and that’s where I intended to keep it.
Then, one day, I joined a bioinformatics PG Diploma course. Based on the information I heard from the faculty about the course, I was confident that I could survive by doing minimal programming, and by making sure my grades were good enough in the biology side. I didn’t have anything against programming, but somehow didn’t see myself writing code for a living.
As I progressed through the toughest year of my life, I slowly realized I liked writing code. But the fun I had was not in the code itself, not in making it efficient and perfect. Rather what kept me invested in my programs was the idea of the problem, and that it needed solving, and there could be multiple ways to solve it, and there could be one most efficient & perfect way to solve the problem. But being the lazy person I am, I never probably got to the point of coming up with that ultimate coded solution to any problem.
Then, when time came for me to take up a job, I was recruited in a Multinational Pharmaceutical giant, for a programming position. Over the last 5 years, I have held positions of increasing responsibility in the organization. And as is true with most of these big companies, change is a constant. I went from being called an Analyst, then a Programmer, and back to being an Analyst again. And finally, now that I ponder of my future and next steps in my career, I realize that programming doesn’t necessarily make you a programmer. It is also a tool that will ensure that you can be an Analyst.
What’s an Analyst you ask? Maybe you need to watch from F.R.I.E.N.D.S! System Analyst, Software Analyst, Analyst, Statistical Analyst, Financial Analyst, you can find these terms everywhere, in every company. An Analyst, simply put, is a person who decodes the data held in a database to come up with a solution, or a proposal for a solution. This is based on the data available, and sometimes on the data projected, and is enabled by the programming the Analyst is able to do to retrieve this data and transform it into information. And a solution is what we need, what we want. It’s a pretty cool job title, and a pretty important responsibility in this world of increasing data dependency. The directions taken by the people who drive our society are information driven, and as an Analyst, you are in the thick of providing this information.
And hence, a small request to all my Analyst brothers and sisters out there. Try to write bug-free codes please.

The Ship – filled with meaning!

Sugababes, one of the most successful all-female British bands of the 21st century, were formed in 1998. But one by one they left, till by September 2009 none of the founders remained in the band; each had been replaced by another member, just like the planks of Theseus’s boat.”
– Sam Jacob, Writing for ArtReview [source-Wikipedia]

This film, with 3 protagonists going about their lives in search of meaning, starts of on a idea which is a philosophical question version of the above paragraph. Filmed in a languid pace, sometimes focusing on blank landscapes, the imagery itself evokes a sense of peace, and of purpose.
Sample this:
-“A group of jain monks are seen walking through a landscape filled with windmills, the turning fans and their shadows reminding us of how time flies by. There are no sentences spoken here. We know one of the monks is ailing, maybe walking towards his own death. And the shadows of the Kal-chakra pass over his head.”
-“The sound of wind, a birds-eye view of a grassland, ruffled by the blowing wind. No characters in sight”
-“A valley. somewhere in the himalayas, a mountain stream gurgling through, a wooden bridge”

The actors perform their parts marvelously. The monk, transforming from a lean, yet healthy man – to a man on his deathbed, fasting, ridden with bedsores, and yet a steely determination in his eyes. The young stock-market player, with his empathizing selflessness. A admirable bewilderment and joy from the photographer who regains her vision. A supporting cast who fit into the puzzle marvelously. The banter between the monk and the lawyer, in the second story, bewildering, logical, funny. The daily laborer, once shell-shocked from the loss of his Kidney, and at the other time, joyous from a future filled with hope. The lovely fight in the kitchen about creativity, and our own vision of it.

The circumstances under which the paths of the protagonists cross is believable, and seems like an organic growth of the complete film.
Life of Pi left me with a lot of questions. Even now it creates discussions in our group of friends. It was splendidly made. This film, maybe doesn’t spellbind you with magical effect. But it does so with its completeness of though.
Slow, and yet crisp, a must watch “Ship of Theseus”.

Glad I watched in on the big screen.

Cops, You Magical Creatures!

Over the last few years of my stay in Hyderabad, I have covered various localities and numerous roads. The traffic is bad sometimes, gives the rash drivers and sometimes the oddly demarcated roads. There are some terribly senseless traffic signals(The one near Pedammagudi temple for instance), and some breaks in road dividers that take away the whole point of having dividers in the first place(A break every 10 mts).
And of course, there’s the bad policing.

Cops mostly sit in their cars, vroom around their beat areas, and signal at any stationary vehicle to move so as to not block traffic, or because it’s late in the night. The cops manning signals and crossings are mostly on the phone, or chatting up his senior on the bike. The cops at the checkposts(Like the ones near Hi-Tech city area) are mostly invisible, or reading newspapers, or drying their laundry, or on the phone.

Sometimes it really makes me wonder. Who briefs these guys? What is their duty? Why is it that suddenly sometimes, for an hour or too, maybe on a weeknight, they are very active. What is their logic when they stop vehicles and check papers and licenses. Especially 2 wheelers. If I intend to recce an area, and have some antisocial activity in mind, won’t i do it better from the safety of a car with tinted glasses? Especially in a up scale area? Where a loitering cycle-wala will look out of place? Maybe I’m wrong and the cops know more. Maybe. I just hope they do.

Another common scene is seeing 1 cop at each crossing even at the peak hours of traffic flow. Struggling with the surge of vehicles, his whistle overshadowed by honking cars(Damn! Why do people honk even when there’s no place to go?), the cop usually just stands there, letting the traffic deal with itself. Looking all smug and tired, the cop would usually pick out his phone and stat calling someone(Hopefully for some help).
But then come a day! A twist! The Chief Minister’s Convoy.

In last 3 years, I have seen changes at the top executive post of this state, and I have seen them disturb my peace very often. Well, of course, the Big Man has to travel. In his convoy of 10-12 cars. Of course I understand. And he has to block the traffic for ages before he arrives. Security reasons. I understand. Today’s world. Tough. Dangerous.
What I don’t get is a simple fact. How, and where from, do we deploy ‘1-cop-per-15-meters’ both sides of the road, for 5-6 hours which encompass the CMs travel time? Where do these cops, (mind-it) super efficient they are in handling chaotic traffic, where do they go once the CM is gone? Are they special group, who barricade CMs paths? Only called into action wherever the CM goes? Or they are just everyday cops, who show up and work well, when the CM comes? If the last case is true, Mr. CM, please follow me everywhere I go!