Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Scotland 3 day trip Itinerary

Following is our 3 full day itinerary -
Some notes
1. Itinerary was planned keeping in mind family needs - 2 adults and a kid of 3 years.
2. Wanted to do a bit of walking as well, which we did in an unplanned way at Luss.
3. Though it was May, it was still fairly cold in some places

Day 1 (landed at Glasgow from Gatwick, hired a car from the airport)

  1. Loch Lomond Luss, Argyll and Bute G83
  2. Oban PA34
  3. Kinlochleaven PH50 - nice drive
  4. Glen Coe A82 - must visit.
  5. Fort William PH33  - can be avoided
This was the view from Luss

Day 2

  1. Ben Nevis - must visit.
  2. Fort augustus
  3. Loch Ness
  4. Inverness - Stayed here. Did the Dolphin cruise. No dolphins. The season is Aug onwards.

Day 3

  1. Cairncorm-fenicular railway not done
  2. St Andrews not done
  3. Pitloclry - beautiful views. must visit.
  4. Killicrankie - nice Scottish town
  5. Sterling - lovely castle. great views, easy stopover. Did not enter the castle. Don't really think there is a need
Dropped the car off at the airport, flight at 7 pm.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

CBIP - questions

Just took my CBIP exam in data management. It was my last exam and guess what, got a 69%. Again, it was tough. The questions are generally tricky with the NOT IN category. e.g. Which of the following is not a relevant for data integrity.

There was another question, which was one of the following do we don't consider while defining a primary key
1. whether the key is dependent on non-key elements
2. key values are unique
3. the same primary key is not defined in another entity
4. some other criterion

Here, the question is not what conditions are SATISFIED when defining a primary key, but what conditions are CONSIDERED. Meaning we can consider the conditions and arrive on the conclusion that the primary is not a primary key. So, that makes it a valid condition (hence 1, which will tell you that the key is not a primary key). We need to find out a condition which is invalid for primary key definition (hence 3).

Some other questions.
1. Importance of information is measured by which 2 parameters
2. An temp(there was another word used, I forget) employee and contractor employee are entities in a org, but an employee can be a temp or a contractor, not both. While modeling subtype, supertype relationship, what is not true.
a. Some data belongs to temp entity only and some data belongs to contractor employee entity only
b. employee is a supertype
c. temp entity and contractor entity are exclusive subtypes
d. ...

3. domain type is the same as
a. ...
d. class word

4. Who is a data intemediary

5. What is the full form of PDCA

6. what is data definition commonly referred to as
c. metadata

7. What is the first training activity for a new joinee to a DM team
a. data stewardship
b. enterprise model
c. system appreciation
d. data model

8. what is the difference between data administrator and database administrator

9. What is the most time consuming activity during data modeling
a. defining attributes, entities, relationships
b. determining stakeholders and business smes
c. defining scope
d. ...

9. In which notation is relationship represented as diamond
a. chen notation
b. idefx1

10. What is data accuracy

11. Data accuracy is measured in
a. %correct
b. %complete
c... d...

11. What is not a domain type
a. city
b. code
c. name
d. quantity

12. What is the format for attribute naming convention
a. business term + domain + class word (not sure if this the right answer)

13. What should not be done for naming entities
a. use underscore
b. use complete business term
d. use plurals

14. What is not the benefit of Joint Application design/development
a. Project planning
b. for programmers during system development
c. for system compatibility while preparing for a dbms upgrade

15. What is on the columns of Zachmann Framework

16. Parent child relationship is representation of which database
a. relational
b. heirarchical
c. network

17. How is RDBMS more flexible than network and heirarchical database

18. Marketing of data management should be done to
a. business team
b. it team
c. all the organization

19. Authorization is required for
a. for allowing people to access systems
b. determining the level and type of access to be given

20. How are the reponsibilities of user captured in Policy document
a. verb
b. adjective
c. noun

21 conceptual model helps to
a. show things in real world scenarios
c. capture model in abstract ideas

22. difference between enterprise model and logical model

23. What should not be the approach while presenting a data model to the management
a. show all attributes, entities, relationships
b. hide the complexity to present a simple understable view of the organization

24. Derived data is redundant because
a. it is calculated
b. it is transformed from one or more primitive attributes
c. it has the same name as primitive attribute
d. it is represented multiple times

25. an entity referring to one or more instances of itself is called
a. recursive
b... c... d...

26. which of the following is a likely entity
a. vendor
b. employee_id
c. customername
d. order_no

27. Employee name, dept id and name is present in a table. it is a violation of
a. 1 normal
b. 2 norm
c. 3 norm
d. boyce codd norm

28. meta data is defined as
a. data dictionary
b. data about data

29. state transition diagrams

Ramayana play in 15 minutes for kids

This is a Ramayana script I and a few others wrote to explain the mythology behind Diwali to school kids in UK. The play runs for 15 minutes and is supported by audio visuals projected on a screen. The play ends with a dance performance with Ram, Sita and people of Ayodhya dancing with lights celebrating Ram's return on Diwali.

The videos are here (first 5 minutes lost)

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Great North Run - running for Kids in need of Education

This is my 6th 1/2 marathon and 2nd Great North Run. The training this time has been lot better than that on previous runs, so really looking forward to the big race day, 16th September.
I am running for "Kids In Need of Education" which is a charity that supports education for kids in the Indian subcontinent. I have worked with Akansha, their partner in Mumbai and seen first hand the fantastic work they do for underprivileged kids.
With your support, we can not only put some deserving kids through school, but I can also take on the 5k and 10k Olympics champion, Mo Farah, who is running the race (and quaking in his boots right now).

Here is the link to donate.

Please dig deep and donate now. Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity and make sure Gift Aid is reclaimed on every eligible donation by a UK taxpayer. So it’s the most efficient way to donate - I raise more, whilst saving time and cutting costs for the charity.
Posts on my previous runs are here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Toastmaster's Icebreaker speech -The Tyrovial Pursuit

This was my icebreaker speech - more or less - forgot some parts. Guess what - the definition of a tyro - right at the start.

I am XX I am a tyro and my life is a Tyrovial Pursuit.

A tyro is one who dabbles, rookie, a novice. Jack of all trades. Master of none.

I grew up in Mumbai/Bombay. I was quite good at cricket, football. But the focus back then was always academics. It was really competitive back then, in india, not now it is. Soon, cricket, football fell by the way side. There were days at end I would come from school, and study straight through the rest of the day and night. Our neighbours didn’t know there was a kid living in our house. When I got tired of studying, I practised juggling, again good pretty good at it. But, never had the courage to perform in front of an audience.

As a kid I excelled at academics. It was probably the hard work, and learning by rote. When I went to my engineering, at technical subjects, I was found wanting. But I discovered my talents as a writer. But nothing came out of it apart from contribution to the college magazine.

Later on, I came to the UK. Here, I found people who pursue their passion passionately and are good at so many things. Whether it be hobbies like football, gardening, cycling, running, DIY. I was genuinely humbling and truly inspiring. I went back to football – 5 a side this time. I started running ½ marathons. But one thing I am truly passionate about is cycling, though not in lycra clad fierce looking athelete kind of way.

I took up running. I have run ½ marathons – some for charity and some for selfish reasons. The great thing about running is that you need minimal gear. You don’t need great weather, you don’t need mates, you don’t need to book courts. You decide when you want to go, where you want to go runnig.

I don’t own a car. I still haven’t graduated to long distance cycling on a racing bike. I have a commuter bike, mountain bike and also a boris bikes for London commutes. I love to use them for routine needs. Travel to work, nursery runs to pick up or drop my daughter. Picking up groceries. And yes, for leisurely rides. In fact, many of you will remember, I said I will go cycling at Isle of wight on Jubillee weekend. I did with my daughter, wife and cousin. In the most awful weather, we did about 12-13 miles of cycling. But we completed it, and in hind-sight, like everything else, it was fun.

But have I learnt to fix the gears and brakes. Or dismantle and reassemble a complete bike. As much as I would like it, no. I have been busy learning tricks on my new scooter. Not an electric scooter. Yes, push scooter. The ones that frustrated teenagers who can’t master skateboards or rollerskates zip around on. I had bought it an oversized one for my daughter. She saw through it. Now, doesn’t want to use it. She wants another one thats pink. Not silver.

Another passion of mine is badminton. I picked this sport about 6 years ago. But have become a regular player, sometimes playing thrice a week. Made some fantastic friends.

Swimming, Tennis are other activities I took up late in life. And I think I am rubbish at them. But all of these have helped me uncover a part of me. I may not be great at these things, but I enjoy them.

Trivial Pursuit is a popular game, I haven’t played Trivial Pursuit as yet. May be one day I will try that as well. But right now, I am happy to continue to pursue a no of things to keep trying, to be a noice. I am happy to keep on playing the Tyrovial Pursuit.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Rejected speech from Toastmasters Ice breaker

This was supposed to a humorous speech, but ultimately thought it was too dark and pessimist.


I am XX and I am plagued by self-doubt. What a topic to choose for your ice-breaker speech.

For the last 9-10 months, I have had a no of serious challenges thrown at me, some I managed to navigate through, others have left me dazed. They have raised a number of fundamental questions about who I am, how others perceive me, and if anything, what do I need to do to remediate it.

Let’s start from the beginning. I was born in Bombay. Bombay/Mumbai is a great place to grow up. Back then, India was still a closed economy, so growth in all parts of India had not really kicked-off. If you had to make it in life, as an Indian, your default destination would be BOmbay. There are about 22 millions people in the city. With so many people around, it is difficult to get through. In fact, you have to fight for everything – space on the road, seat on the train, admission in a good college, just about everything. In fact, when I was talking about seat on the train, I was kidding. You don’t get a seat on the train. The way to get into a train is stand on the edge of the platform till your nose just about misses the train. If you have positioned yourself such that the train stops with a door in front, then you just stand there. The mass of humanity will sweep you and pack you up into the nearest tiny crevice. You forget about your limbs till you get down. You just can’t see them. You stand with your rib cage crushed, your foot trampled by your other foot, sweating and trying to stay sane as few others who have lost their sanity from the daily inhuman torture shout and argue with others. It is the easiest place to get frustrated.

In school, I was fairly good, but there are hundreds around who were far superior. But I didn’t quite do well during my time studying engineering as an undergrad. But it was the first time, I started seriously doubting myself. It went away during my grad years and then at earlier jobs where I excelled quite well. I picked up new skills, worked in new business areas, and travelled to UK.

Here, I found that self-deprecation, not giving oneself credit is an intrinsic behaviour. In fact, to say anything nice about yourself is frowned upon. Add to that, the general pessimistic, cynical but still humorous disposition of the people. Remember, I told you some time ago. I was planning to cycle at Isle of Wight with my family. Yes, we did. in pouring rain. We were greeted with “What lovely weather!”

Also, with less no of people compared to India, places like UK also offer you space to develop and grow. There are less questions asked of you. I was/am inspired folks who excel at and give their all to hobbies like gardening, cycling, running, DIY, juggling. I started to passionately follow some of these. I became good at things other than acads and work.

I got into consulting. I had been primarily a IT focussed beast all this while, there were challenges at work, but nothing of the nature you face in consulting. Because consulting is not about what you are or what you know. Consulting is about what others think you are or what others think you know. This is no way a criticism of consulting, that’s the nature of the game. It’s almost like a hyper-realistic simulation of life itself where all stimuli, responses, emotions, and rewards are magnified manifold. There is only so much you can influence what opinions others form of you. You are solving complex problems for large organisations where you have not worked before; you are interacting with so many people for brief amounts of time. In spite of no of hurdles - your lack of knowledge, and time, you have to convince people to trust you and go with you. People who are delusionally confident about their abilities succeed generally.

It’s also very cutthroat. People forget to be nice to others. Its almost being back in the crowded Mumbai train, but now it happens in the garb of civility. Terribly disconcerting that is.

I am middle-aged now (middle aged for an Indian- we die sooner unfortunately) I am married with a daughter. I don’t look it though. While buying alchohol, I got asked my id card twice in the last 5 years. Now, you will say that’s a good thing. Definitely not! Especially at work, where people immediately assume that they have been short-changed with someone fresh from college. So, I am just dying to get some wrinkles and grey hair. I already sound like a grumpy old man. I better look it.

I have learnt you can’t win all the battles in life. In fact, trying to please them all is a perfect strategy for failure. Consulting is an awesome place to learn. Because it makes you ask fundamental questions about your identity. The key is for the doubts not to overwhelm you. The key is not to give up. After all, success is the ability to go from one failure to another without losing enthusiasm. Till there’s nothing left. No failure, no success, only your indisputable self.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Facebook IPO - Hype vs Long Term Success

The biggest news this week is Facebook's IPO. The valuation is expected to be anything between $75 billion to $100 billion

The IPO is guaranteed to be a success - all the investors are going to be sucked into the hype and almost forced into buying a chunk of the company. There is no stock as sexy as Facebook. It is indeed going to make a number of people associated with Facebook multi-millioniares. The likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Peter Thiel, deserve all the windfall.
But is it going to be a long term success?

1. Google vs Facebook

At $75 billion, Facebook would be worth about 40 percent of Google — a company that has profits about 11 times Facebook's
I think people err considerably in putting Facebook and Google in the same category. Google has significantly diverse product mix with varied and robust revenue streams - look at youtube, google AdWords, Blogger, Gmail, Google Shopping, not to forgot Google Search itself.
Facebook revenues are primarily dependent on you logging onto a single webpage- Facebook. Just no comparison!!

2. Compare the

* At £75 billion and 2000 employees, Facebook is worth as much as Boeing, an almost 100 years and 160000 employee strong company.

* At £75 billon , it is only 1/5th the size of Apple. The Apple!! A global giant with outstanding path breaking products, record breaking revenue growth, and the most loyal fan base ever.

The loyalty with Apple products is based on the excellence of the products - physical. Loyalty to Facebook is dependent on other users - ephemeral.

3. Stock Price based on WHAT?

Investors are going after facebook based on pure speculation. Facebook itself doesn't have years and years of guaranteed returns. It was founded just 8 years ago. All the valuation parameters (not all favorable to Facebook anyway) are not tried and tested. There are no firms in the class to compare Facebook's valuation against. Things are really dynamic in the online world - behaviours are changing rapidly, competition is fierce, and privacy and censorship are only likely to get stricter.

3. Growth will stagnate

Facebook is primarily based on adding new users. Already, in US and UK, it's user base is growing more slowly. The same will happen in other parts (migration of Indians from Orkut to Facebook is almost complete). It has zero penetration in China, and given Google's problems there, it is unlikely to make substantial inroads.

4. Popularity is a whore

Facebook's fortunes hinge on popular sentiment. If you believe FB is where it's at, you will invest your time (through your user account) and your money (through your bank account) in it. If the perception turns against it, users and investors will desert it in droves. Facebook will be stripped bare of all its value.

So, the IPO is a definite success. But will Facebook be a long-term success. Probably not!