Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Kannada KaLi

Hi all!

Most of my friends in Bangalore are outsiders who have come here for studies/work. And most of them know not any more Kannada than "solpa" and "maadi". Pretty similar was my case also, but I always wanted to speak fluent Kannada.

So with the help of dear friend ASO, have put together a list of some commonly used/needed Kannada words. Enjoy maadi!

Read on>>

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Basics of Digital Photography - II (How are pictures formed, and what is an SLR camera)

Ok so we’re itching to get our hands dirty with the real thing. So let’s rush thru this techie part that I promised.

How are digital photographs ‘formed’?

The camera housing (a fancy name for the body of the cam) consists of a series of lenses among other things. They are in those spout-like things that peep out of the cam the moment you switch it on. As you must have guessed, light enters the camera system through these lenses.

Now, when I say ‘light’, don’t imagine a ray of luminance. ‘Light’ refers to the image of whatever is being captured on camera.

So this light (in other words, the visual details of the image to be captured) passes through the lens arrangement, and falls on a screen of sorts. (You may equate this screen to the retina of the human eye. In fact, the entire camera can be equated to the human eye system. Think about it!)

This screen is a photo sensor – which means it can sense light (Duh!) – and has a series of dots (pixels). The sensor could be one of two types in a digital camera:

. CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor)

. CCD (Charge Coupled Device)

CCD sensors offer very good image quality, but are very expensive. CMOS sensors on the other hand are not as good as CCDs with respect to image quality, but they are the reason for the fall in digicam prices over the years - they are much cheaper to manufacture!

Back to the topic. Remember the light we spoke about? As it falls on this sensor screen, the pixels get to work. Each pixel studies the bit of light that falls on it, and converts that information into electric charges. This two-dimensional array of charge-information is conveyed to the processor in the camera, which converts the information to a digital format. That is, the charge info of each pixel is converted to a corresponding series of 0’s and 1’s. And all the series of all the pixels are stored in the memory card in a file format supported by the camera (good old jpg for instance).

So that is how digital images are formed in a digital camera. May not have been much of a value add, but if you understand this, you will understand the working of ISO settings later when we get to it.

The other topic to be addressed in this edition is the reason why SLR’s are what they are – Single Lens Reflex.

Technology wise SLRs are very similar to any other camera but for one major difference.

They are honest.


These Point-n-Shoots and Prosumer cameras lie through their teeth.

The insider info is this: In these ‘cheating’ cameras, there are two paths for light:

. One for the light that you see on the camera’s viewfinder (LCD screen on the camera or the small electronic viewfinder where you see the image on the camera before clicking)

. Another separate path for the light that actually falls on the sensor screen!

So what this means is that WYSI-so-not-WYG! They are very similar, but they actually aren’t the same. The odds are that you may not have noticed this in regular usage of the cameras. But it’s happening alright. Every time you click a pic, those blasted PnS’s and Prosumers snigger heartily, and call you a loser. (In all probability, that’s the sound you hear when you click).

If you want to test this, keenly observe the edges of the image you see in the camera’s viewfinder. Then click the picture without shaking. Now transfer the image to a computer and observe the edges in the picture. Voila! The proof of the cheating lies in the seeing.

But good ol’ SLRs aint so!

There is only a single path of light inside an SLR camera housing. The light that comes in through this path falls on a reflex mirror that is at an angle to the path of light. Now, a part of the light is sent to the viewfinder (through a prism) for your preview, while the rest goes to the sensor. So WYSI-really-WIG!

An artist’s (my) rendition of the above scene would look like this:

In principle this is the only difference between SLR cameras and other lesser mortals. But it so happens that camera makers put in a lot of other great things in an SLR. Like very powerful processors and the works. (Their logic is right. Only someone who hates even the minor cheating done by the other cameras would go for an SLR. And since he is such a picky person, one might as well load the cam with a lot of goodies and milk every penny out of him; he won’t mind. In fact, he will gloat about it to his friends).

Practically, some differences one would find between SLRs and other cameras are:


Lesser Mortals

Extremely fast operation – click at the press of the button


Goes into your backpack

Goes into your back pocket

Very expensive

Priced much lower than SLRs

When you buy an SLR, you decide on which cam to buy, which lenses to buy, which filters to buy and so on (though standard packages are also available at shops).

You just decide which cam to buy and get the box from the shop.

Above all: Awesssssssome picture quality

Pic quality depends a lot on ur luck and astrology predictions for the day

This is not an exhaustive list; just hints at the major differences.
So that’s some gyan to chew until my next, which will introduce you to the world of photography jargon.

Keep clicking..

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Basics of Digital Photography - I (Types of Cameras)

I have been wanting to write on this topic for a long long time now. Simply cos' this is something I have been picking up from numerous sources. Wanted to put all of this in one place, so that any amateur who wants to get deeper into photography can do so without feeling insecure about his/her ignorance of the subject :) We'll take it slowly step-by-step.

Disclaimer: I am no pro-photographer. I have just been learning online and on the field in the past year and a half. This series is a result of that. If at any place, you feel I'm wrong, or if you can add greater value, do comment away to glory. Let's learn together!


All self-respecting photography primers begin with a note on the various types of cameras available in the market. So let me follow suit, though I don't know how much of a value add this is.

Typically cameras can be categorized as:
1. Point-n-Shoot
2. Prosumer
3. Professional
For you marketing guys out there, these could be the three 'P's of photography :P
And one P of a smiley.
(Sorry! :))

These are basically the kiddos - small and cute.
Typically lower resolution (around 6-8 Megapixels) and lower zoom range (3x-6x). (W'll define these terms specifically later; for now, just understand that these are the most important specifications of any camera, for an amateur).
Most inexpensive of the lot (Priced less than Rs 10,000 to 12,000)
Easiest to handle, both because of the compactness, as well as the simplicity of features and controls. Every control has an auto mode. But the latter is its failing. It's nice to have such alarming simplicity when you start. But slowly as you discover the world of photography, you would start *HATING* Point-n-Shoots for their over-simplification and approximation of a lot of stuff.
Typically Point-n-Shoots look like biscuits :)
A point-n-shoot from the GE stable. Small in size, 4x zoom, but awesome resolution (12.1 Megapixels)

These are the mid-level cameras and are also called 'advanced point-n-shoot'.
All controls have auto settings, but also manual overrides for most of them.
Typically higher resolution (8 - 12 MP) and zoom (10x - 18x) than point-n-shoots.
Priced between Rs 12,000 and Rs 25,000 usually.
The cam that I have - a Sony DSC H3 - is a prosumer cam.
A Sony DSC H3


Single Lens Reflex cameras are the mean machines - the ones that serious photographers use.
Extremely high flexibility --> manual controls for EVERYTHING you can imagine. (They do possess auto modes too, but who would want to use them!)
Very high speed operation. This means that when you click, the response of the camera in shooting the image would be faster than in PnS or Prosumer type cams. Also, the camera gets ready to click the next pic very fast.
Have larger sensors --> in English, this means a better quality of pictures.
Very high resolutions (12.1 MP - 25.5 MP!)
One major difference in purchasing SLRs is that one would have to purchase an entire kit, as against walking out of the shop with a single piece of equipment. Typically, the SLR kit would include the body of the camera and lenses at the bare minimum level. The body is the square part of the camera that one would hold, and the lens is the barrel that extends at front. These have to be bought separately. There are different types of lenses for different usages. More on them later. Additionally, there are many more components a pro would have in his SLR kit, lets not bother ourselves with all that for now.
So basically the zoom range of the camera depends on the lenses one buys along with the body.
And the defining characteristic of SLRs is that they are extremely expensive!! Actual prices depend on the kit one buys, but they could range from Rs 30,000 to lakhs!
An Olympus SLR
Left: Body with lens attached
Right: Separate lens, detached

Well, then. Those were the basics about the different types of cameras one could buy.
The next post would be a bit technical, with details on how photos are 'formed' in a digital camera. We would also see how an SLR cam differs from an ordinary one. One need not know all this to click good pictures, but I believe knowing this gives one greater confidence. And extra knowledge doesn't pain, does it?

Keep clicking...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The essentials of VC funding

One great thing about being in a place like IIMB is that we get to listen to a whole lot of ideas from a number of big names. In the one year I have been here, I have had the opportunity of being in the midst of people like Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, Subroto Bagchi (MindTree), Captain Gopinath (Air Deccan), Gurcharan Das (India Unbound fame), Raju Narisetti (Editor - Mint), etc. (And of course, KK too :P)

I am planning to put up notes of talks by such people on this blog henceforth. Something to revive this space with :)

"Essentials of VC funding"

Date: 22-Aug-08
Event: Eximius - The entrepreneurship fest of IIMB
Speaker: Ravi Shankar - a representative from Sequoia Capital

Notes from his talk:

Sources of capital for entrepreneurs:

  • Personal Savings
  • Friends and Family
  • Incubators (like NSRCEL) – friendly money.. cos the intent is to encourage entrepreneurship..
  • Angel Investors – High Networth Individuals
  • Seed Funds – Band of Angels
  • Venture Capital

Why go to VCs?

  • Large cheques thru the early life of the company (upto $10 – 15 mn)
  • Throw open networks and contacts
  • Help in strategic issues
  • Help focus entrepreneurial energy on key issues.. entrepreneurs are ppl who work on intuition.. so to ensure they focus on the right things.. (my inference is that this basically means the VC will poke his nose into one’s affairs a lottttt!)

What VCs ask for in return?

  • Minority stake in the company (10 – 45%: depending on how much money needed, and how soon)
  • Board seats (a third party in the family)
  • Affirmative rights (VCs want a say in decisions involving senior management – say recruitment of top 5 employees.. CXOs.. VC contacts too help here)
  • Time bound liquidity event (IPO, promoter buying back investor’s position etc)
    • Most VCs look for a 5-yr time bound involvement with companies

(Overall, it takes away some flexibility from our way of working)

If entrepreneur wants to exit prematurely, can he?

No.. usually its lopsided.. VCs have the control.. usually there is no statement in the contract that says entrepreneur can buy back the investor forehand..


There are times when conflicts arise between VC and entrepreneur..

Once VC is on the board, if we wish to take in some other investor, the VC will want a say in that..

VCs work very closely with the companies.. weekly calls, monthly meetings etc..

VCs are not in the business of risk acceptance; they are in the process of risk avoidance. In India, most VCs rarely take concept risks (“this product will increase height by 5 inches”).. they take only execution risks (things that have worked elsewhere that are being started in India.. say, online DVD rental)

Why not banks?

  • Collateral
  • They usually ask for 3 years of experience - P&L / Balance sheets

The investing community believes having ideas is not a big thing.. having money is..

When VCs get an idea ahead of time, they advise the company to stay in touch with the market, doing adjacent things until the market is ready..

Is my intellectual property safe when I discuss it with VCs?
It’s difficult for VCs to get into NDAs cos they need to interact with lawyers etc to whet the idea out.. but VCs will be cautious cos of their reputation..

Best way to reach a VC is through references.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

How should I go about preparing for the GMAT?

This is what I would call a good schedule:

1. Buy OG and Kaplan Premier Program. Read through their description on the GMAT for authentic info on what the GMAT actually is.
2. Do some online research for at least a week. Read through as many online discussion forums as possible - mind you, I am talking about general discussion forums; do not peek into the ones that discuss specific problems and answers. At least not yet. This is to give you a wholesome view of the GMAT.
3. Then take the GMATPrep test 1. Since you are doing this without any preps, your score will tend to be on the lower side. This is just to see where you stand before preps.
4. Then take the diagnostic test alone in OG to analyse your section-wise strengths.
5. Then start your actual preps with Kaplan Premier Program. Complete the exercises section by section. As you complete each section, look up other related resources online. This is when you should get into discussing specific problems and solutions related to the section you just completed. Also, go through the various notes and docs available online - if your online research was proper, you would have got these by yourself. Else ping me. I will send them to you. (some hints: there are some docs on called "1000 series". These are sets of 1000 questions in the verbal section.)
6. Once you complete all other resources, start with the OG. Complete all the exercises in this book.
7. Finally, just a week before the day of your actual GMAT exam, take GMATPrep test no. 2. The score you achieve now would more or less be the same score you would get in actual GMAT (My GMATPrep Test 2 score was 10 marks less than my final score). The one week is just to give you some buffer time to prepare in case your GMATPrep Test 2 does not go well.
8. Rock GMAT!
Meanwhile, you would have some full length tests in Kaplan's CDs and any other tests you might have got from the net. Distribute these tests over your schedule so that you keep writing full-length tests at regular intervals. This is to get yourself used to sitting in front of the computer for almost 4 hours. When you take these mock tests, your essay sections would not be evaluated. But DO NOT skip them. Write them in spirit, if at least to get adjusted to the marathon test-writing experience.

This is just my suggestion. Do go through Pagalguy forums. GMAT-acers regularly put up posts there on their preparations strategies.

Friday, December 14, 2007

How to buy a second-hand car?

A year back I was suddenly smitten with love for cars and began to ogle at every 4-wheeler on the road. I also did lots of research on how to buy a second-hand car.

Reproduced below is a piece of gyan that I got from a colleague (CP Ramki) on the issues that we need to be careful about when checking a second hand car out:


It is always recommended to buy from a certified place like True Value or Automart. You’ll end up paying about 10-25k extra (depending on the car you buy) but I’ve seen it’s worth it. A few additional things you might want to check are:

- Check the RC book for the correct ownership. Sometimes it so happens that the car might be company leased car which gets transferred to the individual after the lease period completion. In this case, even though the car is a single user car the RC book will show two names. It usually says “Change of name” or something like that. This is ok but some people might complain about it when you try to sell your car later on.

- Check for valid insurance.

- If you are buying from a certified place like automart/true value, no need to worry about the engine; and they’ll also be accident free cars. One thing you might want to do is: check for rusting on the underside of the car. Check for rusting/welding of the silencer pipe. Silencer pipe is typically made of three sections (or two) but whatever…do check all sections for welding or rusting. That would indicate that you might have to spend money on the silencer parts sometime down the line. So you can negotiate on that.

- Check the condition of tires. If they are not new, you can negotiate on that.

- Check the condition of the drive shafts. We cannot actually check these from a mechanic’s eye but this is something which you can do. When you go for the test drive, take the car to a place where you can turn full 360 degrees. Then turn the steering completely to the left being stationary, and then do one full circle. Same for the right and if possible reverse. If you hear any sound (duh-duh-duh…or gad-gad-gad like rattling :)) during any of these turns, it will indicate a worn out or broken drive shaft. This sound is there only when you make tight turns so unless you do that you wouldn’t know

- If you are buying a car with A/C, then you might want to check the A/C for proper functioning.

- Check the music system for proper functioning. This is again not an essential but something on which you can negotiate the price ;)

- If you are looking to sell you car in a couple of years then go for a brand which has good re-sale. Honda and Maruti have a good re-sale value but Ford, Daewoo and Fiat don’t have much.

- If you are looking to own the car for a while, then go for a car which has not done more than 25,000 KMS (30,000 max). Also check the service records if possible to see whether the owner has been getting the car serviced regularly.

This is all I guess. Happy shopping!


To begin your online research, visit:

team-bhp: A very active web-forum on cars. Trust me you would love to go through these discussions

To estimate prices of cars:

carwale helps in estimating a fair price for the deal you have in mind: very useful tool, near accurate

Some online resources you would like to see before checking a specific car out:

An article on The Hindu

Maruti's used-car buying guide

Apart from this, check out EVERY SINGLE website on used cars that you can lay your eyes on. Every bit of info you pick up can help you in your negotiations :)

And of course, one standard tip is: Take a reliable mechanic along with you to evaluate the car on offer (just in case you miss something)

If you have anything more to add, do use the comments section!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Why do we get hiccups?

I love hiccups. Absolutely adore them things.

Simply because they break down barriers and differences.

Just imagine this: You are in an all-important meeting chaired by THE BOSS who heads everything in your company and is revered as much as the Pope is. Halfway through the meeting, he starts hiccuping like an idiot. The next time you think of that boss, am sure your mental image would no longer return that dynamic guy. You might even smirk.

Such is the power of the hiccup in crashing barriers down. It is a small thing, but often entirely out of our control.

How does it happen? Here's a highly simplified version of the story...

Real estate in the human body is very limited. God had to design and implement this huge complex system within a very small area and volume. So he had to resort to extreme compression (see what happened to your kilometres-long intestines) and intelligent design. Till date this remains a record in VLSI design.

Coming to the point, this limitation on space forced God to fabricate a lot of multipurpose entities.

No, am not going to talk abt what you have on mind, though that is a multipurpose thing too.

What I want to refer to, is the throat. The same throat is used to transport air, as well as food. This happens through a 2-lane traffic system: one lane is reserved for food, while the other is for air.

However, there is one specific length of the throat in which both food and air have to travel along the same lane. To avoid their intercourse (meaning, intermixing in the course) God has placed a small door in that part of the throat. This door will make sure that at any point of time, the region hosts air alone, or food alone.

While talking about breathing, we need to get the diaphragm into the scene. It is the breathing muscle situated beneath our lungs. It is this diaphragm that pushes air out or pulls it in.

Now a lot of coordination is needed in the way all this functions. i.e., the diaphragm cannot push or pull air, when food is coming down the pipe. These kind of conditional decision making responsibilities lie with the brain.

While God is absolutely amazing as a VLSI design engineer, his coding skills leave much to be desired. He wrote the code for sharing throat-time between air and food with some constraints. These constraints imply that the code will work well at normal pace. But if something happens too fast, the code will go kaput.

For e.g, let's say you are eating. The brain keeps sending out signals to the diaphragm and all other gizmos referred to above saying: "Now pull air in - Stop - now let the food pass through - No you fool, make the food go DOWN, not UP! - Stop - now send some air out" and so on and so forth. All the elements of the system function perfectly as long as there is a small time gap between these instructions. But when these commands come rapidly (say, when we eat very fast), the system becomes unstable. And unable to comprehend what has to be done, the diaphragm pushes some air up the voice box. There is a small opening on top of the voice box. When the air gushes out through this opening, we get the characteristic "hic" sound. Voila! You have hiccuped!

Now why does it keep recurring for sometime?

Once the first hiccup happens, the brain senses that something is wrong, and sends some correction signals. As long as these correction signals fail to synchronize with the diaphragm, we would keep hiccuping.

Now, the way to stop hiccups is: to clear up all the confusions in the commands, and set on flow a clear flow of instructions - to either swallow, or breathe. This is why some people succeed in controlling hiccups by holding their breath (for a limited time, mind you). Or by taking in several sips of water successively. These would set a clear stream of commands in motion again, and succeed in controlling hiccups.

(I have avoided all jargon here. If you wish to know actual biological names of the parts of the anatomy I spoke abt here, check out MSN's Encarta entry on hiccups)