Tuesday, February 26, 2008

An Evening in Pune

Click on the link below and read the short story



Vikram Karve

Man, Rat, Cat, Cow, Woman, Enlightenment

[A Teaching Story]

A wise man seeking enlightenment, renounced worldly life, took a strict vow of celibacy which was a sine qua non for attaining enlightenment and headed for the hills to live an ascetic existence of a hermit. He found a secluded cave and began his simple meditative life surviving on natural wild vegetation in the forest and began his journey towards enlightenment.
One day he noticed holes in his robe and discovered that there were lots of rats in the cave who were chewing off his robes and who soon were nibbling at his toes disturbing his meditation.
Perplexed, he went down to town and consulted his Guru who said, “ No problem. Just get a cat who will take care of the rats.” So our wise man bought a cat and took it up to his cave. The cat took care of the rats and the wise man was undisturbed in his quest.
After a few days the cat had eaten up all the rats and started moaning with hunger. The constant moaning and crying of the cat again disturbed the wise man’s meditation and he again consulted his Guru who advised him to acquire a cow whose milk would feed the cat.
Now the wise man would spend some time milking the cow, feeding the cat and then settle down for his meditation.
A few days later the cow stopped giving milk and mooed loudly. The cat too had started moaning again and the disturbed wise man ran to his Guru once again who gave him some seeds. The wise man planted the seeds which yielded food both for the cow and himself. But he now had to spend so much time tending to his garden, feeding and milking his cow and giving milk to his cat that he hardly got any time for meditation.
He rushed to his Guru who once again had a ready solution, “ There is a young widow – poor thing she is destitute. She will look after everything and you can meditate in peace and attain enlightenment.”
It was a wonderful arrangement – the young widow looked after everything, the garden, cow and cat flourished and the wise man was undisturbed in his quest for enlightenment.
One day it began to snow, the temperature fell to sub-zero and the young widow started shivering in the cold. Soon she could bear it no longer and snuggled into the wise man’s bed and tightly embraced him as that was the only way to keep warm.
Who can resist the tight embrace of an attractive woman in the prime of her life ? The vow of celibacy lay shattered and there ended the wise man’s quest for enlightenment. And with all his new possessions he returned back to the material world from where he had began his journey towards enlightenment – back to square one.Dear Reader - Please tell me, what is the moral of this story?







Saturday, February 23, 2008

A Significant Book on Information Technology and Systems

Title: Information, Systems and Information Systems – making sense of the field
Authors: Peter Checkland and Sue Howell
John Wiley & Sons (1988)
ISBN 0-471-95820-4

[Reviewed by Vikram Waman Karve]

Information Technology [IT] is the buzzword of today. IT is ubiquitous; almost everyone is connected with IT in some way or the other. A few years ago, till the nineteen eighties, there were courses in Electrical, Electronics, Communications and Telecommunications Engineering and later in Computer Science and Engineering, but now there are dedicated courses in Information Technology, and almost all Engineers, and even others, irrespective of their specializations, are rushing to take up jobs in IT and IT Enabled Services. The Management guys have also joined the fray and added a “management” dimension to IT by offering MBA courses in “IT Management”.

What exactly is IT? Maybe the phrase “IT” was coined to mark the convergence of two technologies that had been traditionally separate: “Computing” and “Communications” and the confluence of several streams of development including electronics, microelectronics, computer science, telecommunications, software engineering and systems analysis.

There are a large number of books and extensive literature on the content of IT. This book is a significant treatise on the context of IT. The principal author Peter Checkland is a pioneering researcher in the field of Systems Engineering and Management and has developed breakthrough concepts like Soft Systems Methodology [SSM] and written the seminal classic “Systems Thinking, Systems Practice”. The co-author Sue Holwell has a rich and varied professional experience in systems design and implementation, information strategy and communication networks.

This book has eight chapters arranged in four parts. In the first part on “The Field of Information Systems and its Problems” the authors deliberate on the basic concepts pertaining to Information Systems [IS] and Information Technology [IT], distinguish between the “Hard” (objective positivistic scientific) and “Soft” (subjective interpretative) schools of thought in the context of Management Information Systems [MIS], and introduce the reader to the fundamentals of Soft System Methodologies [SSM].

The “meat” of the book is in Part Two whose two chapters elucidate on the application of the developed Information System Management concepts to organizations and describe the “information continuum” – the linkages between data, information and knowledge. Parts Three and Four substantiate these hypotheses with experiential examples from as early as World War II and drives home the point that the evolution and development of the science of Information Systems [IS] owes nothing to computers which did not exist in 1940, makes it clear that IS is not the same as IT, reminds us that computers are a mere means of IS, and cautions us against falling into the trap of “technological determinism” resulting from the prevalent propensity to overly focus on computer-based IT and allow technology to take charge of our actions.

The book is aptly adorned with simple illustrations which facilitate ease of understanding. As the dust jacket says, the book is a work of conceptual cleansing and presents a well-argued account of IS and IT which is both holistic and coherent. I recommend this remarkable book to IT, Engineering and Management students and professionals – reading it will certainly enhance their conceptual understanding of Information Systems and Technology.

[Book Review by Vikram Waman Karve]





Monday, February 18, 2008

Tech Terms for Telecom Professionals

Book Review by Vikram Waman Karve

TECH TERMS – What every Telecommunications and Digital Media Professional Should Know

Tell me, what is a zombie? No, no! It’s not the witchcraft zombie I’m talking about, nor am I referring to those automaton nerds, lost cases, you see around you. Okay, I’ll give you a hint – this zombie has got something to do with IT. Still clueless?

Did you know that Zombie refers to hackers’ use of other people’s personal computers to either conceal their online activities or to launch attacks on other computers? Once a computer has been turned into a “zombie” it can be used as a repository for illegal software, become a clandestine meeting place for hackers to conduct secret meetings, be used to send pornographic or other undesirable e-mail or spam, serve as the launching point for a denial of service attack, and so on – all without the knowledge of the zombie computer’s owner. So don’t let your PC become a zombie.

Did you know all this? Well, I didn’t – till I read a marvellous book, a splendid Technical Thesaurus, called TECH TERMS. This book is packed with a wealth of knowledge comprising must-know terms and concepts for every Telecom and IT professionals worth her salt. This book encapsulates an essential list of Internet, IT, Telecom, Digital, Broadcasting, and Computing terms one needs to master to remain current through thorough understanding of state-of-the-art technology and concepts – a sine qua non for survival and success in the rapidly advancing world of Telecommunications and Information Technology.

Title: TECH TERMS – What every Telecommunications and Digital Media Professional Should Know

Author: Jeff Rutenbeck

Elsevier (2006) 280 pp

ISBN 13: 978-0-240-80757-7

The “tech terms” are arranged alphabetically and each term is assigned a “level” of 1, 2, or 3 indicating the degree to which a term or concept can be considered fundamental or foundational to a particular technological domain [level 1], those which require some understanding [level 2], and highly specialized or complicated concepts [level 3].

Cyberspace, Blog, Hacker, Byte, Broadband, iPod, Database are level 1 terms; Technobabble, TCP/IP, GPS, GSM, ADSL, ISDN, Cybersquatting, Wiki, Bluetooth, Blu-Ray, Ethernet, URL, Router, Zombie, Honeypot, WYSIWYG, Nanotechnology are level 2 terms, and terms and concepts like CDMA, NICAM, CPDP, XSS, DLL, ColdFusion are level 3 terms.

Hey, do you know the full form of URL? Or USB? Or FIFO? Or ISDN?

Why don’t you just go down to your nearest bookstore or library and get a copy of this book? TECH TERMS is an excellent reference book, a must-have for all IT Pros in today’s techno-centric world.






Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Hurry Sickness - Are you a victim?




A central element of lifestyle management is the skill to creatively balance achievement and work success with leisure activities, family life and social involvements. Another critical aspect is the ability to feel comfortable at work and at home and to enjoy the experience of whatever is being done at that moment.

But nowadays, most of us are obsessed with getting results or completing one’s task. When task completion becomes more important than enjoying and understanding the work or activity one is doing at the given moment, a sure victim of “hurry sickness” is born.

The resultant constant sense of urgency is the trap of hurry sickness. One rushes to “get things done” to the point where it becomes an obsession.

Breaking this syndrome requires that you learn to enjoy experiences for the pleasure they give. When you gain pleasure from an experience, there is no need to get things done painstakingly. Enjoy experiences, not rewards, and things will get done automatically without any constant stressful sense of urgency.

Hurry Sickness , as defined from a psychological perspective, is “A pervasive and progressively urgent need to complete task in order to obtain rewards at completion without regard for other aspects of the work experience and by using maladaptive time strategies.”

They key causal factor in hurry sickness is the progressive need for task completion. Enjoying what you are doing is neglected with a morbid urge to getting it done as quickly as possible, no matter what the activity.

The need for task completion extends to non-work involvements as well (for example, activities like eating, playing, romance, making love, sex, leisure, having fun, loafing, taking a stroll, recreation, leisure, sports, pastimes, hobbies, holidaying, exercising, lazing around, dozing, enjoying music, cooking, gardening, doing nothing) and interferes with the enjoyment of these experiences because of the persistent inclination to hurry up and finish it off.

Getting things done has become such a strong need because the payoffs or rewards for completion have assumed primary importance. Your work experience has taught you that rewards always come at the end of the activity after you have put forth great effort to achieve a goal. You do not realize that happiness is not a destination but the manner of traveling.

Not only do you feel a sense of personal satisfaction from your achievements, but tangible rewards, such as promotion, cash incentives, awards, and advancements are given to you as well. With time, these rewards have become clearly linked with your self-esteem.

Each time you “succeed”, your ego, your inner self, sends a message to you which says, “You have done well. You are a commendable person because you succeeded again.” Your need for this kind of reassurance has become stronger than you would care to admit.

Time-Urgency quickly becomes a strong internal driving force towards task completion. Your life becomes a frenzy of completing one task after another. You are obsessed with time and wasting any of it becomes almost a mortal sin.

You strive to maximize your productivity by using time ever more efficiently, but you also have a sense that you are controlled by time and you don’t like it. Time is both your challenge and your enemy. A telling sign of hurry sickness is that even while relaxing, you constantly fight the time-urgency that causes you unrest.

Another way to seek to increase your output is to adopt maladaptive time-strategies. These questionable tactics do help you get more done over the short run, but you pay a heavy emotional price.

You now do everything faster, you have learned to “multitask” or “double up,” to do two or more thing at once, and you are constantly preparing for what is coming next before you are finished what you are doing now. The insidious trap is that you get something done quickly even when there is no reason to get anything done at all!

Because of your emphasis on task completion, you focus on finishing without regard for other aspects of the experience. In short, you have lost the ability to enjoy yourself while doing anything because of your incessant drive to get to the finish line. Because of this change, you have lost the ability to emotionally rejuvenate yourself. Chronic fatigue and pessimism are symptoms of this malady.


Here are some behavioral signs and signals that indicate hurry sickness:

1. Eating.

You now eat in the office while continuing to work or you just skip meals altogether. You multitask while eating. At home, you finish meals well ahead of everyone else and eat in bigger bites without savoring the taste of food. Sharing pleasantries at the table is minimal because you cannot sit long enough. Ask yourself – are you eating mindfully and relishing every morsel of your food?

2. Sex.

Relaxed and romantic sex and love-making is but a pleasant memory. The frequency has reduced and even when you do indulge in it, it is a quick encounter and you are off to sleep or on to some other “important” or “urgent” activity. Sex is less spontaneous and more mechanical these days – it has become another hurry-up-and-get-it-done-with activity. Worse, you often indulge in “faking it” in order to get it over with in a hurry so you can quickly get on with the more “important” and “productive” things in life – your “high priority” activities!

3. Communications.

Your communication patterns now focus squarely on the negative. Feedback to others emphasizes mistakes and failings and you rarely compliment or offer sincere support to anyone these days. You don’t take the time any more for pleasant chat with family and colleagues. You make demands instead of working cooperatively with others or team-building. And hey, are you on your cell-phone most of the time?

4. Leisure.

You put aside less time for relaxation and you enjoy it less when you actually try to relax. Time-off is now more of a hassle than it is worth. When you sit still, you feel uncomfortable almost immediately. You have lost the ability to “do nothing” – it’s difficult for you to loosen up and enjoy an idle hour relaxing, doing nothing. [Ask yourself why you work – reflect, contemplate, and realization will dawn upon you that the primary reason you work is to be able to enjoy your leisure, so why aren’t you taking a vacation every day and learning how to enjoy your leisure with full awareness?]

5. Family.

Family members now “report” events to you, but you share little of yourself with them. You and your spouse argue more than you talk. The satisfactions of family life have diminished in quality and quantity. Your impatience is just as strong at home as in the office.

Because you have hurry sickness, your initial tendency is to effect and expedite your “cure” in a hurry too. But this hurry-up-and-get-it-done attitude may actually sabotage your recovery. What is required is patience, perspective and the ability to deal with setbacks in healthier ways.

It is easy to blame hurry sickness on the pressures of the job and what you “have to do to survive” and on the insensitivity of the complex modern world. While each of these perceptions has a grain of truth in it, the fact remains that most of the responsibility for hurry sickness lies within you.

Your drive to get ahead is the real root of the problem and the fact is that you have lost all sense of perspective. Until you accept personal responsibility for your present state, you will not be in a position to confront and reverse the real mischief, damage and harm caused by hurry sickness.

Remember the well-known story of the hare and the tortoise. Decelerate your life a bit, slow down, walk leisurely instead of driving and do not carry or switch off your cell-phone where you can, don’t multitask, do one thing at a time with full awareness and mindfulness and learn to enjoy the experience of whatever you are doing.

Are you a victim of Hurry Sickness? Why don’t you rid yourself of this malady and enhance your quality of life? Sure, you can get rid of Hurry Sickness!







Sunday, February 10, 2008



Title: EMC for Product Designers
Author: Tim Williams
Elsevier [Fourth Edition, 2007] 498 pages
ISBN – 13: 978-0-75-068170-4
ISBN – 10: 0-750-68170-5

Most of us consider a number of factors, exoteric and esoteric, while designing [or selecting] our homes and in the configuration of the numerous modern technological devices and domestic appliances, most of them electrical and electronic, therein. Recently I saw a programme on TV where a Vastu Shastra expert was advising viewers not only regarding the various aspects of designing and building living environments that are in harmony with the physical and metaphysical forces but also specifying optimal locations and layouts for various electrical and electronic appliances and devices in both residential homes and workplaces. I listened with intriguing interest as he gave precise directions and specified exact locations for positioning of Televisions, Computers, Communication Devices, Microwave Ovens, Music systems and other appliances, and fascinated by the congruence between principles and aspects of Vastu and Electromagnetic Compatibility [EMC] and wondered whether the expert in reality was actually an EMC Design Engineer in addition to being a Vastu Shastra Specialist.

When you design or select or configure your house or office I am sure you consider various aesthetic, architectural, financial, utilitarian, geographical, interior and exterior design and other practical aspects, maybe even incorporate the principles of Vastu Shastra and Feng Shui, but do you give even a fleeting thought to EMC? In today’s world with the increasing use of electricity and electronic technology we are under continual exposure to Electromagnetic Field [EMFs], both inside and outside our homes and workplaces, radiating from radiating from electricity power lines, household wiring, microwave ovens, computers, monitors, televisions, communication devices, cellular phones, electric and electronic appliances and “Electropollution” is an increasingly serious form of Environment Pollution and merits serious consideration. Apart from hazards to our health, Electromagnetic Interference [EMI] is detrimental to the proper functioning of most electrical, electronic, IT, ITES, communication and technology-based systems and may cause malfunctions and even potentially disastrous and fatal accidents.

The book being reviewed – EMC for Product Designers by Tim Williams – is one of the most comprehensive reference books I have read on the subject. Comprising sixteen chapters arranged in three parts [Legislation and Standards, Testing and Design] the author lucidly covers most micro and macro aspects of EMC Management in meticulous detail. The logical sequence of topics, clear diagrams, tables and illustrations facilitate easy understanding of this complicated subject. The Design Checklist, interesting Case Studies and useful mathematical formulae in the appendices and the extensive bibliography add value to the reference book.

Whilst the earlier chapters provide an excellent understanding of the EMC Standards and the basic theoretical principles of EMI / EMC, the “meat” of the book lies in the chapters on Systems EMC and EMC Management which encapsulate all relevant facets of EMC in a holistic manner. I wish the author had included a detailed chapter on Electromagnetic Health Hazards and mitigation techniques. This vital topic concerning all of us humans seems to have not been accorded the due importance it deserves and I hope the author includes a comprehensive chapter on pertinent aspects in the next edition.

I commend this book – it is an excellent reference book for designers, students, practising professionals in the field and a useful addition for all engineering and technical libraries.

[Book Review by VIKRAM KARVE]