Monthly Archives: August 2014

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BIG DATA revisited – a survey

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I have the good fortune of attending some presentations by people from Cisco, IBM, PwC, TCS Research Lab today in a Business Conference in Calcutta. The focus on the issue was how to harness the business opportunities arising out of these ‘strange’, ‘disruptive’, ‘fast-changing’ environment.  

If you are a lazy person but ironically stubborn person who puts infinitely more labour to find labour-saving devices, I recommend my debate with Chris Anderson, a man with global fame needing only 3 words for resume – Wired Editor. 

I heard all the experts, read material recommended by them, checked with their clients, discussed with some and here is the WLSfBG (Wordsmith Labour Saving for BIG DATA)

1. There is a great need, rather the most-important need for a disinterested (means the document is not going to sell some BIG DATA product / solution at the start, middle or end using fear, hope, confused smugness, intelligent sensors radiating non-sense and the fail-safe method: a fool and his money parts relatively easily) document explaining the fundamental core of BIG DATA.

2. Human beings, most intelligent ones of the species have awakened to the discovery of a profound ability-gap. The ability to produce data and the ability of managing data points to a Malthusian formula. Data is produced at exponential rate and managing capability is happening in non-exponential rate. 

3. There are two kinds of data : structured and unstructured. Generations before had built their mansions and fortune by selling us boxes and tools to manage structured data. Present generation (business included) is desperate to have their larger mansions and unstructured data is the area now.

4. Some presenters were so grave as if narrating a tragedy that we are analyzing barely 10% of the data being generated. What nuggets are left from the 90% that remains analysed.  This is a good business opportunity. This hope however pre-supposes, a priori that the left-over has treasure. I say a priori because it is a hypothesis and a premise, not tested or validated yet (see ability gap 2 above)

5. One gentleman, a banker actually gave a clue who said that his bank does 90 million transactions each day and how to visualize this thing or to bring this within our cognition. I give up. I cannot visualize this. May be, there is nothing to visualize. This is something like a zen koan – the sound of a single hand clapping or visualizing flood evacuation procedure  in sub-saharan Africa.

6. One young architect, with great glee told that the day of the engineers have arrived. It was nasty bad business driving engineering but now with BIG DATA, Analytic etc, the table is turned. His enthusiasm was infectious as youth itself is an infection of genes where they start sending so many chemicals in the bloodstream and the world appears so fresh and new. I remembered in the end of the 1990s similar feeling prevailed among young telecom and network engineers. This will have implications in the future, I mean, this feeling of the table being turned. I also foresee many companies horoscope showing definitive trend towards meeting  bankruptcy judges. (I have used a proprietary BIG DATA process to predict future. The process is real cutting-edge, I assure you.)  

7. Another interesting idea was to see who non-IT thing will interact with the I-o-T (Internet of Everything) fabric ? In other words, what will happen if we put sensors in everything we have been using since the beginning of time considering them ‘passive’. Now your shoe will have sensors and if you lose your job and throw your shoe in frustration, your  mobile will get a sms recording ‘Abuse Score Alert’ and after a certain point, your Insurance will alert of ‘potential risk score high from the accelerator controlling bionic arm (actually your leg)’. The river of forgetfulness bottle you are supposed to open to down your pain will refuse to accept the bar code and God fobid if you throw the bottle down when the gyro will record, auto-adjust, alert the closest police beat and you will be picked up. Does it sound very pleasant  ? 

8. No one gave us any information as how pricing models for these services are being developed. This reminds me a story where I asked a Social Media Marketeer as how much is he paid per month for a client and on what metric. He mentioned a dismally low figure. I asked him : how are you managing at this pricing ? He answered : ‘ At such price, they have no right to ask about RoI’. Do not laugh. This is a very very subtle and tested business method. And I give you the clue :

Pricing in a system increases exponentially with confusion.





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[Fiction] The Parable of the ignorant young employee and the Founder-CEO

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[This post owes its existence to our lead Portuguese translator who inspired us to write and think about a post – The Cosmic Government. He was talking about certain national Government on the verge of collapse during EU debt crisis] 

Mr. Mohit Auddy joined a large multi-national company in its Indian subsidiary. It was his first job. Mohit was 22 years old and his boss received him warmly. He decided that he will work very sincerely and will please his immediate boss. He settled himself in a cubicle in a very large room and the top view from an airplane with the floor removed would look like a honeycomb where worker bees are using their fingers like a bee uses its antennae on the keyboard. 

Meanwhile, company’s founder and CEO and also the sole owner decided to visit his offices incognito and he started with India first. He took the disguise of a young man, around 25 years (he was much much older actually) Only his confidential lieutenants in the Head-Quarter knew about his disguise and the purpose. Two of them actually came to India and were also in-incognito.  The Founder-CEO’s name during disguise was Madhava Murthy. 

Mohit was in the lift in the morning and he found a man of his age in the lift. He looked at the ID and asked him in which department he is working. They soon became friends and also started sharing office-gossip. Mohit was delighted to find that he shares many common interest with Madhav and they used to roam around socially as well.

Meanwhile, Mohit’s boss changed and his work made him reporting to 4 verticals for a complex project. The problem was that he was not able to satisfy all four. What satisfies one becomes a matter of great dissatisfaction and Mohit was puzzled and was in severe stress. The matter reached such a height that the stress and fear made him physically sick. 

He confided to Madhav and Madhav listened with avid interest and told him to hold ground and fight. He was otherwise very laconic. 

One day, Mohit was approached by a senior colleague and the senior man told Mohit that Madhav was a man with great connections in the organization and the connection may reach at the very top.

Mohit was too busy with his immediate bosses and had little interest to know what connection Madhav has. He was 100% focused in managing his immediate bosses and their tantrums. In his department, everybody was having more or less the same experience and there was none who could support him.

One day, the situation went beyond limits and Mohit was in deep tension, shivering as he found he may be sacked and one of his bosses was actually working to that direction. Loss of job means loss of vitality for Mohit. He had so many plans and so many things to achieve. A whole life to be enjoyed.

That evening, he called Madhav and they met in the canteen. It was late evening and very few people were there. The dialogue went like this and we are producing an edited version below :

Mohit : Madhav,  please help me. I think you are well connected with top bosses. Please help me from losing my job. You are much smarter than me and more matured. Guide me. I am really confused. 

Madhav : Ok. Sure. As a friend I shall do whatever is best for you.

Mohit : Do you think I shall escalate the matter to higher authorities ?

Madhav : Sure. But to whom ?

Mohit : I do not know. 

Madhav : I have an idea. Since the situation is so critical, why don’t you tell the owner ? In any way, you shall lose the job considering the situation you tell me you are in.

Mohit : But I do not know who he is, what way he would take the matter and don’t you think it will be violation of chain of command ? They would terminate me immediately. 

Madhav : I know the owner very well.

Mohit : Really ! How ?

Madhav : I am the owner, but in disguise.

Mohit : (burst out laughing) You are kidding me !  You have the same experience as that of me and you are claiming to be the owner.. Ha ha…

Madhav : No Mohit. I am the owner – the sole owner of this company and there is none equal or above me. I am the founder as well and in that way, everybody in this company of past, present and future are my children

Mohit :  Are you in your senses, Madhav ? 

Madhav : Yes. what I am telling you is the absolute truth. 

Mohit : Oh My God ! Prove it then. 

Madhav : Ok. Lo behold. He called someone and Mohit observed that two senior colleagues who approached earlier moved in deferentially and stood, waiting for order. 

Mohit : (almost fainting) : But Sirs, Madhav – what about my problem ?

Madhav : Your problem will be solved. You see, I am not envious of anyone. Hence, I am giving you the truth : leave all your bosses and serve me directly. All your bosses are serving me only.

Mohit : I am losing my mind. Tell me what is best for me.

Madhav : Mohit, as a supreme and primeval owner of this organization, I am omnipotent and I control everyone and no one controls me. I am telling you this because you are my dear friend and not envious of my position even though I seem like you.

Mohit : Pardon me, Sir. Pardon me. I might have said so many things without knowing. Please pardon me. 

Madhav : No, my friend. I have told you the truth. Now it is upto you to choose. You can either remain here and try to satisfy your bosses and others or come to the headquarter and serve me. It is your choice. You have complete freedom to choose. 

Mohit : Respected Sir, what shall I say ? I am overwhelmed by your grace and mercy on me. I shall so whatever you say. You will be my only boss, always. 


Next day, Mohit’s departmental Head received a confidential Instruction from the personal secretary of the Owner from HQ and he complied the Instruction immediately. Mohit was released immediately from his tasks and he boarded a plane towards the HQ where his duties more or less remained the same but he never came back to work elsewhere. 







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[Fiction] Enjoyer and Enjoyed

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[This owes its existence to my friend Mr. Pradipta Chakraborty, a veteran of Indian IT, a much traveled man and who has given me, a home-bound ‘owl of the flat’ in East Calcutta a pair of highly observant eyes with a philosophical brain behind.]

Mr. Hiranmoy was born in a suburb in Calcutta three years after the country of Bangladesh was born. He was from a middle class family andf by the time he was in his twenties, he was swept by the IT wave of India. First, he crossed Vindhays and went to South of India. In small barrack like rooms in Banaglore (before it became a verb ), he wanted to enjoy the cities where majority of his clients were based. When he was 26, he already clocked 3 years working for on a project for a Manhattan / NYC based bank. He was impressed by NYC in proxy and he felt an urge to go and enjoy the great city. He wanted to be an enjoy-er of NYC. As luck would have had it, the bank’s business was booming and they needed more on-site manpower (in their communication to the IT company, they mentioned only what they want. The IT company did not have clear idea about the difference between manpower and talent. So they accumulated manpower, as much as can be packed in the largest flying vessels in the air. The word manpower was not exactly correct, there were many women in the gang as well) 

His boss worked on-site and he gave him plenty of tips and fed him adequate myths about the living and working in the NYC and Hiranmoy ( the Sanskrit word meaning ‘full of gold’ or ‘made in gold’) was ready to fulfill the meaning of his name as well. He had seen, his fortunate on-site colleagues sending images (Facebook, the greatest illiterate-friendly offering in human history was not discovered by that time) where they stood near cars with a hand in the glistening body which did not touch Indian roads yet. He was restless to enjoy the city.

He finally landed in the NYC. It was before 2001 and Hironmoy was breathless to enjoy the city. 

Within next six months, he found out that most of his time is spent in commuting and he is forced to live too far away with a gang of his colleagues who did not offer anything interesting to him. Many ‘enjoyable’ things were out of reach either for the money needed or time to be spent or for both. For example, he found that  he could neither afford nor enjoy Opera, he is not able to mix with people on equal terms and most-important – he was lonely and there was no hope of having a local girlfriend. His on-site boss was an workaholic and he was more like a furniture in the office and exhorted everyone to work harder and harder. 

After 3 years, one day, as he was in a train bound for his home in Friday with his demon boss asking to come tomorrow for some work, he started to think his enjoyments. He looked around – all tired workers going home and he concluded that he is not enjoying the city. The city is enjoying him. Early morning, the city, like a monster with a long neck gulps him into underground train and pushes him to a desk in a very tall building. After 10-12 hours, he is again suctioned into the same mechanism and he lands up into his flat (he has started living alone now). He lives and socially interacts more or less with people whose only connection with him is the colour of the skin or the vernacular. By subtle and gross means, the city has made its intention clear. The subtle means his status as an immigrant worker (among uncivilized ones, this is called desi or cheapo-desi) and the gross means very steep barrier of entry for some activities which the city and only a city with the dimension of  NYC can offer. 

He was little sad by that time. He brought a car, not those ones he saw his colleagues are having their photos. One of his junior in Indian office asked him about on-site life and he sent him a photo, dutifully by the side of a Bentley parked by the road which was shot by a colleague of him. The junior thanked him and he also explained how is he enjoying life in the NYC.

Hironmoy is currently a 40+ man, married with children and a settled and successful man. He works for the same company. He finds that NYC has become like a wife of a middle-aged man. At the start of the journey, it seemed that the journey will be an enjoyable one but now it has become increasingly clear to him that he is being enjoyed by the City. 

He has become like a satellite to a planet. The satellite, if we imagine came close to the planet to enjoy the view, the bewitching skyline, the invitations but after some time and after a level of closeness, the planet’s gravity put him into an orbit from where he can neither go away, nor approach the objects. 

His precise, controlled, regulated and determined orbit was enjoyed by the City and will continue to enjoy, least bothered whether he enjoying or not. 


Haridas was a contemporary of Hironmoy with the difference that Haridas was from a village, some 1400 km off Calcutta. He visited Calcutta, at least twice a year and the whole city left an indelible impression in him. Near Sealdah, he saw people in the morning and returning in the evening and he just wondered as why so much rush, so much movement. He thanked himself for being in his village. 

Eventually, his Great Expectations arrived and he too was pulled into South of India (Calcutta and Bengal at this time was heavily engaged in solving the grave and serious problem of ‘how to distribute zero wealth equally and equitably’) and from there, the trans-Atlantic flight to NYC. He was working in the same area as that of Hironmoy.

In few days, Haridas found out that if things remain normal, he is going to spend his whole life like those Sealdah crowd he wondered at during his childhood. He found out that there was so much shortage of time that even if he saves money, he had to schedule his enjoyment precisely. He used to catch 7:28 train and in his dreams also he saw station clocks with minute hand at a slightly less angled and he woke up, bolt upright. This was becoming too much for him. He left the company after a year, saved some cash and returned back to India, brought a small flat in an ‘pati’ area in Calcutta and with another Calcutta based colleague started a small company. 

The company did well and now Hardas is a 40+ man, married and settled and is a kind of a private citizen of Calcutta. He understood at the start of his journey as a petty-businessman (Calcutta is not easy with this word but knows the French word petite-bourgeois quite well. This is not because of love of France but because of the massive propaganda literature of the previous ideologues in Bengali where this word is directly transliterated into Bengali from Das Kapital. So much well that anything of slight, common, inconsequential, un-sophisticated is connoted infallibly by a Bengali word ‘pati’ [ the pa to be spelt as in pasta] by the proletarians and elites alike) that time is the greatest, more powerful than money, opportunity, mood and health to enjoy properly. As an arm-chair connoisseur of wining, he realized that you might have all ingredients to enjoy a fine wine but if you are in a hurry, enjoyment is spoilt. The same works for other fine and enjoyable aspect of life, for example, a conversation with a nice and attractive lady. 

It is this respect for Mahakal (The Great Time), that made him take him very weird decisions – in his professional and personal life. He refused to grow his business the way start-ups grow. He chose to keep his business ‘pati’. He became an essentialist and that included enjoyments also. With a discipline, applied rigorously, he extracted time from the everydays quota of 24 hours as much as he could for his own spending. 

Then, one summer in Calcutta, now a fortyish man, he felt an overwhelming urge to visit the memory of his youthful days. He felt that visiting New York City would be a great idea. He scheduled some client visits, some prospect appointment, sounded few friends and landed in NYC. It was almost 16 years after and apart from the Twin Towers, he found change everywhere although the more it changed, the more it appear to have remained the same. 

He was in no hurry. He finished his business and then just roamed in the great city. 

He had nowhere to go. No office, no client,  not sight-seeing. Nothing,. Except the dinner and night-stay in a friend’;s house in the suburb. He just roamed and watched the skies, sat in nondescript parks watching life passing by. He took trains when they were less crowded. He found a freedom so overwhelming as if his personality was not there – he was like a leaf in the Central Park moving to and fro with every breeze. 

He used to wake up late and after a lazy breakfast, consulted the papers and chose his destinations and he was as imperious as an emperor to select or de-select. The whole city of NYC was under his command to choose. He had nothing specifically to enjoy but this gave him the open-ended freedom to enjoy anything, including the most autonomous one : choosing not to choose. 

The time-zone helped him conduct his ‘pati’ business, leaving the day free. He lived two nights each in dormitories in four corners of the city. Having no intention to buy ‘enjoyable’ things, his baggage – both in the back and in the mind were negligible so as not to inconvenience him. He met people who like to meet people : old people and young children in the park. He looked back and found busy bankers running hither and thither and also walked in the sidewalks of the office where he used to work and from the light he knew that midnight lamp will be burnt. He sighed and moved on.

At night, after dinner and in a dormitory with people from at least eight countries, he read The Godfather, read many times but being in New York city, the reading was different. He decided to go to Bronx next day. Near Brooklyn Bridge, he found an old friend, strange connection. They knew each other since boyhood. 

The friend took him near a small storefront which used to have this prophetic name – Matchless Gifts and where some forty years ago, an old gentleman from Calcutta started an worldwide movement highhandedly – The Hare Krishnas. 

As both of them were walking back to Brooklyn, Haridas remembered that during his sacred thred ceremony some quarter century ago, a relative gave the gift of the Bhagavad Gita by the same old Calcutta gentleman whom the world has learnt to call by the honorific Srila Prabhupada. 

In this book, Hardas remembers, of a sloka where the Supreme Lord is telling 

Aham hi sarva-yagyanam bhokra-e-prabhureba cha

I (the Supreme Lord) is the Lord and Master of all sacrifices.

Haridas reasoned, in that case, the Supreme Lord, the ultimate proprietor of the NYC city or for that matter everything is the supreme enjoyer.

We cannot enjoy alone. The more we try to enjoy alone, more we shall be enjoyed by exactly those things which we considered our legitimate prey of enjoyment. *

* If Haridas or Hironmy or anyone acquainted with our NYC days, please send a mail at Rest all mails will be deleted.


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Prosperity and Anxiety

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The age of forty is a for a man ( a woman of similar age needs to add her own) is the most-profound point in a man’s life while you balance the parameter of prosperity and anxiety in the person’s life. 

If we survey human history for some thousand of years, we observe with regret that prosperity and relaxed life co-existed like a transient flash, even for a small segment of the population.

Is there any law that governs both prosperity and anxiety ?

Empirical observations immediately point out that prosperity after a threshold gives rise to anxiety. It appears that prosperity is the cause of anxiety.  

A friend of mine, working in one of the largest IT companies in India, a fortyish man is highly anxious as how will be fund his post-retirement life. The ‘retirement’ age is not decided by him, or his employer, not even common sense but by Big Data !  You can substitute Big Data with astrology if you feel better in terms of cognitive resonance. 

Forty years ago, i..e when I was born, forty-ish Indian men were not having so much tokens of prosperity. However, they were not that much anxious about post-retirement life because of one irreplaceable and infinitely powerful placebo : pension. 

Pension meant two things to them, two things in future which are the root cause of anxiety today : lifelong employment and post-retirement guaranteed income in the form of pension.

From this historical analysis, I have recommended my ‘anxious’ friend the following Rx – which can be called a Wordsmith Placebo for Anxiety regarding post-retirement for 40+ Indian salary-men:

  • Your anxiety is directly proportional to your prosperity, while your wisdom remains constant.
  • Your anxiety is inversely proportional to various guarantees – real, un-real or fake, as long as your mind has a perceived comfort
  • You shall not be perceiving any amount of prosperity or anxiety as satisfactory till a  second before your death, while your wisdom remains constant.
  • As an actionable attempt to wisdom, buy a large tin trunk. Put INR 10 (2014’s valuation) for each advert you see in a day inside the tin-trunk and keep it under lock and key. You can make a cut at the top where you insert the note or coin. 
  • Do this for 6 months. 
  • Have faith that tin and the silver of the note or the coin will miraculously transform into something you have no idea. 
  • While anxious, think of the tin-box destiny you have. 

There is one component which I missed earlier. Wisdom. Since 20 centuries and starting from geniuses like Socrates could not ‘define’ it, I am not going to make myself a fool by attempting it. Instead, I shall ask you to consider the following arithmetic – simple yet devastating :

  • Calculate the amount of cash you shall need after 20 years per month (in 2034 year of the Lord) – living + delaying death (medication + hospitalization + psychologist + CC TV + armed security. Let us call this as INR X per month ( 30 days)
  • Now interpolate everything for next 20 years and find out the amount you need to save / invest / beg / borrow / steal / do insider trading / organ harvesting, in short anything to arrive at this – let us call this INR Y per month
  • Now, think hard. Be hard. No mercy allowed. Don’t tell me but consider what is net income per month. Let us call this INR Z per month. 
  • This whole system is such designed that unless there is a ‘reset’ or ‘reboot’, the following relationship is established, as sure as Euclid’s fifth postulate

                                  INR X (in Rs value of today) = k * INR Z   k >> 1

                                  INR Y (in Rs value of today) = w * INR Z  w>> 1

          Here k and w are global constants and you cannot individually influence their values for all time just like you have no influence, simply on your own the exchange rate of USD and INR. 

If you interpret the above 2 equations, following follows immediately, again as logically as Euclid’s achievements which tormented us in high schools in the form of theorem, premises and corollaries

  • If you take the above equations seriously, you need to invest your whole income for the future and may even need to borrow some. Hence, mathematically speaking, to decrease your anxiety to live in a prosperous  manner in 2034, you should be living till 2034 without spending a single Rupee. In non-mathematical words, the only non-anxious man available now for a future 20 years head is a dead man.
  • Since it is a mathematical impossibility to escape this conclusion and you surely desire to live, it is best now to fudge the mathematics. This can be done by assuming that global constants k and w will somehow, miraculously favour you although there is not a single such instance of this. 
  • Courage ! If you have read so much, it is not gentle to leave you without any aid. Remember the tin-box. Remember the huge notes and coins making it heavy. This is your resource, your hidden wealth. 

If you are laughing now, it means that this laughter is either triggered by innate wisdom in you or you are not seriously considering your future. 









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The Longest Hiatus

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The last post happened to be on the day I turned 40. This is the longest hiatus for this blog and as monsoon is almost spent, there came a sudden surge to write again. 

A break, long or short for any blogger (or writer) does what long neglect does to a piece of land. The land becomes unpredictable and generally for the good as far as the fertility is concerned. 

I read few books in paper in this period and the first one was a re-visit after some 22 years : The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant, Men of Mathematics by ET Bell, The Billionaire’s Apprentice.. by Anitha Ragavhan. 

I am quite anxious now to find out what this hiatus and the readings have deposited in the mind’s chamber.