Category Archives: Gyaan

Some interesting pieces of knowledge that you might show off

The Other Side of 2G Spectrum Scam

I am pretty sure 2G spectrum scam is well known to you if you are in India. If not I can safely assume that you were stuck up in a mission to Mars or something for the past year without ever communicating back home. The amount of money involved in this scam is quite baffling and so unrealistic. But reality should be faced someday and we have to accept these quoted numbers. In this post I shall try to form a rough estimate of the size of this scam.

The sources for all the numbers stated here are CAG, CBI, Finance Ministry of India, World Bank, Reserve Bank of India and the Census of India. So the reliability of them is of no question. If discrepencies occur, I kindly ask you to verify the numbers from these sources and inform me so that I can update the post. It should be noted that there are cases filed against the people involved and the bribes allegedly received by them is still unproven. Continue reading

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Tomorrow’s pillars are rotten – Are they really?

My new year resolution is to regularize my posting here in this blog. So I have decided make a post every calender month for now and scale it to two later on towards the end of the year. Here is this month’s post.

Today, half of India’s population is less than the age of 30. This effectively means that citizens of India below 30 years of age are the pillars of tomorrow’s India. A widely known fact. Two of my favourite leaders recognize this and they concentrate all their energy on the youth of India. They are Swami Vivekananda, whose birthday on January 12 is celebrated as National Youth Day and the man fondly called as the people’s president, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalaam who said ‘I can get the youth to dream. They have fewer biases’. Continue reading

From 4000 BC to Present Time!

Recently I came across a mail titled ‘Facts to make every Indian proud’. I am sure everyone would have received it or read it somewhere. If you can recollect, there is a line that says ‘According to Forbes magazine in 1987, Sanskrit is the most suitable and precise language for programming’. Nothing can be more motivating for me to explore its credibility than my love for programming. Sanskrit is a language that has been in use, yes in use, for over 6000 years of known history. It is the mother of all Indian languages. I can barely read and understand this language thanks to my two years of studying it in school. Initially when I found that such a claim was not made in the magazine that year, I was shocked. How can someone state something like that? Something told me to keep searching. Probably it is the love for Sanskrit that said it. After some more searching and lots of reading, I finally understood what it meant. It sure did help me broaden my perspective about certain things. I am sure this post on my understandings will help broaden yours too. Continue reading

The Sleep Guide

I must say that before collecting the required information for this post, I did not know that there is so much stuff involved with sleep. The main reason for me to choose this topic is that during exams I observed the difference in attitude, behaviour, alertness, memory, practically everything related to a person getting differed because of the change in sleep pattern. I started to ask so many questions regarding sleep and for some of those, I have found answers. I present them before you here in this post.
What is sleep?
Sleep is a state of suspended activity in our body during which our voluntary actions and muscles are partially or completely unconscious. During this state we are less likely to respond to stimuli. This state is easily reversible compared to coma or hibernation. Continue reading

India – The Emerging Super Power in Stem Cell Research

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. 
 ~Arthur C. Clarke



I think this saying is very true. Let me prove this with an example. Let us assume a person meets with an accident, damages his spinal cord and is paralyzed. This means he cannot recover back to normal state anytime soon. What happens if a doctor treats him with a few injections and he is completely recovered in 2 years! If that seems to be a fiction, I shall take another example. An alcoholic spoils his liver. Traditionally he needs to do a liver transplant it but what if he can recover in six months or less in just a few injections? What if these are very economical that even a daily wager can afford it? Unbelievable? But all this is very true without any magic from Harry Potter! This is done by using a new technology called Stem Cell Therapy. When I read about it, the realization it gave me was like an atheist coming face to face with God. Here is a brief intro to this magic


What is Stem Cell Therapy?   
Have you every wondered how a baby is formed from the embryo? Of course, the obvious answer would be repeated division of the cells in it. When you look again into what you just said you meant ‘from the cells of the embryo more than 200 types of cells in various parts of the body is formed’. Every part of the body right from the brain to bones are formed from a single type of cell in the embryo. This is precisely the base of stem cell therapy. These cells in the embryo are called stem cells. In an adult, these are still available in bone marrows, pupil of the eye etc. It is because of these, human body is able to regenerate injured cells and body parts. Adult stem cells are weaker than the younger ones. This answers why older people find it tough to recover from severe injuries. Stem cell therapy is a treatment procedure from which stem cells are extracted and injected in the damaged portion where it grows into the required type of cell and viola! You are back to normal! This is the magic of stem cell therapy. 


From Where are the Stem Cells Extracted?
Stem cells may be extracted from your bone marrow or pupil etc. There are three types of stem cell transplants. Autologous, Allogenic, Syngenic. In the first case, cells are from self. In the second case, it is from another individual, either a relation or totally unrelated person. In the last case, it is from the identical twin. In most cases only autologous transplants are used. This brings us to our next question.


Where do I get the Young Stem Cells from?
Young stem cells are available in the embryo and umbilical cord. Young cells are very effective in blending into any body part and doing their magic. Couples are paying between seventy five thousand and one lakh to preserve the stem cells of their baby’s embryo within 2 weeks of its formation. These are stored in stem cell banks. This is a clear indication of where stem cell therapy is going in the future. 


State of Stem Cell Research in India
India is driving the express of Stem Cell Research and Therapy! Several centers are established for research and therapy in India. Some of them are


Apollo Hospital, Chennai
Apollo Gleneagles Hospital, Kolkata
All India Institute of Medical Science, New Delhi
India Hospital Tour
Nichi-In Center for Regenerative Medicine, Chennai
LifeCell, Chennai
Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital, Mumbai
Reliance Group of Hospitals


Apart from this several small players are also into the sector. 


Applications so far
Though the stem cell therapy is in its nascent stages in India, several diseases such as diabetes, cancer, neurology, cardiac, ocular, liver problems, fractures and injuries due to accidents etc. In future, almost any disorder can be cured using this technology.


Stem cell therapy though it has its own group of critics stating moral issues, it is still a very valuable technology to be over-looked. Also, doctors are not sure how the stem cells react to various parts of the body. We don’t want a bone to be grown in the brain! Government of India is also spending more on this sector. Research in this field is advancing very rapidly and India is at the top of it! Proud to be an Indian!





Dot-Com Crisis

Hi everone! I posting after a very long time. Sorry about that. Anyway recently I have been following the Global Economic Crisis. I asked many people what is the reason for it. Most of them say its because of “fast bucks”. So from where did this fast bucks come from and I got the answer “Dot Com Crisis”. Again I started looking for more information on Dot Com Crisis. Unfortunately there was no single page which explained about the crisis. So I am posting it here from my findings. I have removed all the figures from this. Read it if you want the information and how it happened and not the figures.

Dot–com Crisis
1. Introduction
            The dot-com crisis, also known as dot-com bubble refers to a four year period (1997-2001) during which the stock prices soared high in the Internet and technology sectors of the Western nations. The companies followed a business model called “Network effect” by which the companies gained more market share but without actually making any profit or revenue at all. Because of the large market share of the companies, the stake holders were given a false image that the companies were making huge profits. The rating agencies also gave false speculations on the individual stocks. So the were highly overvalued creating the bubble. The dot-com crisis had an effect not only on the economy of USA but also the rest of the world. This report aims to analyse the causes and effects of this economic crisis.
2. Causes of the Dot-Com Crisis
            The main reasons for the dot-com bubble are as follows
  1. The Network Effect
  2. Investment Banks
  3. Y2K Problem
  4. Microsoft Case
  5. Free Trade and Globalization
2.1. The Network Effect
            The motto of the dot-com companies was “get big fast”. Every company wanted to monopolize the market. To achieve this they used the business model name “Network effect” at the expense of the net income. A network effect is the effect one customer or user of a particular good or service has on the other users of the same or related good or service. For example, if more people purchase a telephone, it becomes valuble to the owner and inturn influences other people to also buy the telephone creating a positive loop. Some applications of the network effects model are as follows
2.1.1. Stock Exchanges
            In stock exchanges there is a difference between the price at which a stock or a security can be sold and the price at which it is sold. This is by the liquidity, that is the convertability of an asset and the transaction costs. As more number of buyers and sellers enter the market, the transaction costs decrease, the liquidity increases and the difference gets reduced resulting in better trading  prices.
2.1.2. Software Industry
            The IT industry operates very strongly on network effects. For example, during the time of the bubble growth, hardware compatability was a serious issue. Microsoft Windows was marketed as being the operating system which supports the widest range of hardware. So many customers bought Windows for its compatability. This increased the market share of Windows significantly. To capitalise on this huge market share of Windows, many hardware manufacturers made their hardware compatible to Windows which again added to the circle creating a positive loop for Windows resulting in Microsoft monopolizing the operating systems segment with Windows. Similar is the case of Microsoft Office Suite.
2.1.3. Websites
            Consider the example of eBay. The auctions in the site wouldn’ t have been competitive if the number of users was less. Since the number of buyers and sellers was increasing the price of the auctions became very competitive. Similar is the case of Amazon and GOOGLE.
2.1.4. Open and Closed Standards
            In the Information Technology industry, open or common standards and interfaces were often developed by a group of companies for the mutual benefit of these companies by network effects. However, if a company maintains closed standards, positive network effects can make the company which maintains the standard a monopoly. Eg. Microsoft.
           
2.1.5. Mergers and Acqusitions Based on Network Effects
            Many small companies which were monopolizing a segment of the market were acquired by bigger companies with the aim of acquiring more share of the market. For example, Hotmail was bought by Microsoft, Mirabilis, a company which was monopolizing Instant Messaging (IM) was bought by America Online, Youtube and Blogger were bought by GOOGLE etc. Some of these boosted the company’s market share while others were a loss to the purchasing company.
2.1.6. Positive Effects of Network Effects
            The positive effect of network effects is pretty obvious, the value which a user gets from a product is greater than or equal to the value of the product.
2.1.7. Negative Effects of Network Effects
            Suppose there are two companies and one is monopolizing the market. Now if suddenly the second company introduces a better product than the first company then if the transition cost is also less or none which is true in the case of dot-com companies, then the customers from the first company shift to the second resulting in an accelerated decrease in the market share of the first company. This is how GOOGLE won market share over Yahoo as a search engine. Yahoo’s share price came all the way down from $138 to $4 in a very short time. There is one more case in which there are less or no competition to a company monopolizing the market. In such cases, the company can restrict the resources available for its users or increase the price etc. This is what Microsoft did in the operating systems segment. 
2.1.8. Usage of Network Effects by the Dot-Com Companies
            An Internet company or a dot-com company’s survival is based mainly on its customer base. So the companies used network effects to gain market share even if they produced huge annual losses. For example Amazon was expanding its customer base and was spending more on pulicity and marketing while GOOGLE was spending more on creating powerful servers for its search engine. Both of these companies were not making profits during their initial years. Since Internet based business was the booming sector many companies were investing more on buying high-speed internet like broadband. This benefitted companies which provided high-speen internet service and infrastructure such as Cisco and raised their market share. Many companies even went into high debts in the process of buying this infrastructure.
2.2. Investment Banks
The investment banks in Wall Street made approximately 500 companies public during the end of 1999 and the beginning of 2000 and raised a capital of $77 billion through IPOs. For each company they charged a fee of 6 percent for making them public. This was a sort of brokerage charge. They made millions of money this way. The investment banks then demanded to invest in the companies before the IPO when the shares value was just a fraction of what it would be after the IPO. The investment banks then charged a multimillion fee for the public offering and also made more money as their investment multiplied within months. This greed of the Investment banks was one of the most crucial reasons for the dot-com crisis. Since a large amount of revenue was generated, the Wall Street and Investors failed to see the fact that these Investment banks had failed to follow the guidelines which were to be followed for making a company public. These guidelines were in place after the Great Depression. According the the guidelines, a company should be in business for a minimum of five years and should generate profit three consecutive years and should have a certain level of revenue and profitability. Since this was not followed, many companies which lacked a viable business model were made public mostly for the profit of the Investment banks and also because of the philosophy “get big fast”. After the bubble burst, these companies companies were decalared bankrupt and the investors suffered a loss of over $1 trillion.
2.3. The Y2K Problem
            By the end of 1999, the famous Y2K problem was created according to which a major computer shutdown was expected during the starting of 2000. So the Federal Reserve started to pump more money in the capital market by selling repos to deal with any financial problems that may occur due to the Y2K crisis. The companies also spent a lot of money on tackling this problem. But the Y2K crisis never happened. The business spending declined rapidly. Many companies spent their way to bankrupcy trying to fix their Y2K problem. 
2.4. Microsoft Case
            Although Microsoft was declared a monopoly by the fedral court on April 3, the result was widely expected weeks before. So the major high tech technology sector companies such as Cisco, IBM, Dell etc foresaw this and made a multi-billion dollar sell order on the March 10 weekend. The stock exchange opened on Monday, March 13 with a four percent low. This was the greatest premarket sell-off of the entire year. This major sell-off  by the major high tech companies caused a ripple effect as the investors, funds and investors began liquidating their positions by selling off their shares. In just six days from March 10 to March 15, the NASDAQ (National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations – the American stock exchange) had lost nearly nine percent from 5050 points to 4580 points. This later led to the stock market crashing down which is famously termed as the dot-com crisis.
2.5. Free Trade and Globalization
            By Free Trade and Globalization the companies were allowed to act according to their wish without the intereference of the government on a global scale. So the workers in USA were put on a global level competition against one another for the lowest wages. This resulted in the factories becoming portable and were shifted towards places with cheap labour like India. This resulted in a massive hidden deflation of the value of labour. Since a large amount of money was pumped in by the Federal Reserve, the companies’ stock prices were soaring while the workers were getting fired creating a bubble. The companies also failed to call it deflation. They chose to call it increase in productivity. The value of workers and labour was a real tangible asset while the bubble was just paper money which was intangible. This bubble ignored the labour value as the stock prices were soaring.
3. Aftermath of the Dot-Com Bubble
3.1. Impact on US Economy
            Several companies were faced with large debts from which they could never recover had to file bankruptcy. Some of the largest companies like WorldCom was found to use illegal accounting practices to overstate the profits by billions of dollars. Many other telecommunication companies also filed bankruptcy. The demand for high-speed broadband infrastructure was never used  resulting in the optic fibers bought being wasted without usage. This resulted in a huge loss for companies which provide internet such as Cisco and their stock prices also fell dramatically. Many of the companies ran out of capital. They were acquired by some other company or got liquidated. The top investment firms such as Citicorp, Merrill Lynch etc. were fined or accussed as fraud for misleading the investors. Thousands of employees were layed off in the name of cost cutting and business restructuring. As much as $5 trillion was wiped out of the value of the technology companies in just 18 months. All these happened to companies which did not have a viable business model. But the companies which had a successful business model like GOOGLE, Amazon, eBay, Microsoft etc emerged successful from the crisis and proved that they are fit for the long-run. Campaigns like “Buy only American products” were started to promote the internal economy of the country against globalization.
3.2. Impact on Asian Economy
            Most of the Asian countries especially those on the Asia-Pacific region were highly dependent on the dot-com companies of US. They were engaged in subordinate activities such as producing hardware, providing cheap labour etc. Because of the dot-com meltdown, the economy of these countries also crashed. Some of these countries like Thailand and Malaysia nearly faced bankruptcy.  Thousands of workers became unemployed suddenly. They had to find alternate ways to build their business on after the crisis. The ASEAN countries meeting was held and new strategies for recovery and development with new deadlines were created and the countries recovered from the crash.
3.3. Impact on Indian Economy
            India also experinced an impact of the dot-com bubble as majority of its technology and internet sector companies’ stock prices fell. However the Indian IT companies were not wholly based on the US market and also these companies had sound business principles and a viable business model. So the Indian economy faced little trouble from the dot-com bubble comparitively and was able to recover easily.
3.4. Impact on European Economy
            Since the Internet sector was booming, many European countries such as Spain, Italy, England etc invested heavily on creating the high-speed internet infrastructure. They even invested heavily on internet technologies such as 3G. During this process these countires went into huge debts. Due to the meltdown, the economy of these countries was shattered. They had to find ways to repay the debts and recover from the crisis. Among the European countries Spain was the worst affected and it is still struggling to recover. 
3.5. Overall 
            After this people started to like the idea of pouring more money in a sector, giving false speculations, creating a bubble and when the stock prices rise high like anything they would pull out money. This was termed as “fast bucks”. After the technology sector people started investing in the real estate sector with this newly found selfish method of earning money – “fast bucks” which lead to the present global economic meltdown.
4. Conclusion
            As a result of the dot-com crisis many companies and aspiring entreprenuers got a more realistic picture of what it takes to run a successful business. There are a few things which we can learn from the dot-com crisis. They are as follows
  1. Any business that loses money over time destroys value and does not create it.
  2. A successful business and a huge haul of wealth cannot be created in a short time. It requires hardwork, honesty and planning.
  3. Every business should thrive on its own and not based on some other business or economy which may or may not be viable.
  4. Any business should be fueled by sound business principles such as planning, management, financial control etc and not by greed.
“A greedy man is always poor.”

Comments and suggestions are always welcome

GLOSS Inaugration and Cluster Computing

Yesterday evening, we inaugrated GLOSS for this semester with a session on Cluster Computing by Abhishek. In this blog, I m going to explain in detail the concepts of Cluster Computing to my knowledge.so Im am not going to write much about the session but I will definitely tell something cool about the session. screened a movie in the session! What’s special about the movie is that its an Open Movie! Yes, we at GLOSS seek out for such wonderful products. The movie was completely rendered using the Super Computer service offered by Sun Microsystems through http://www.network.com. Also, this movie was completely created using an open source animation software named Blender. I will try to upload the video here as soon as I can. Enough of the general talk, lets get down to business and learn about Cluster Computing shall we?

Cluster Computing and High Availability

Consider yourself to be running a big service provider like GOOGLE or Microsoft. You have your server running at your office, suddenly one day, the server crashes for unknown reason or some natural disaster strikes and your office gets demolished (sorry for being so optimistic! :-P). Your services like mail, chat video sharing will stop suddenly and users will not be able to access it until you correct the problem. This may take a very long time but your users cannot wait so long. They will migrate to some other service provider and your business will end up craching down hill. Here is a scenario. You have a server running some application connected to a storage device where the entire data of your serivces are stored. Now, if the connection between the server and the storage or the connection to the server is cut, imagine the kind of damage your business can suffer. This is where Cluster Computing comes in for the rescue. You have some servers spread across geographically running for your services. If disaster of any form strikes at any of these nodes, in cluster computing, the node fails over some other node. In plain English, the services running on that node will be copied to some other node and the service will continue running almost immediately. So the user will not know about the server crash and he will the service uninterrupted as usual. This powerful concept is called Cluster Computing. Most people confuse it with Grid Computing. In grid, you have more than one computer running as a single computer. Here you have individual computers running individually. If any node crashes, the service will be shifted to some other node. Lets get more technical in cluster computing.

How the Cluster is Formed and Maintained?

Clusters are formed by using some cluster creating tools like OHAC, by writing stuff called agents and distributing your servers. Each node in a cluster gives out some signals similar to hearbeats. So, they are named Heartbeats. The nodes and the cluster tool identifies the other nodes in the cluster by this heartbeat. If a node fails to give out heartbeats, it is considered to have been dead and its services are shifted to some other node.

Components of a Cluster

Now that you know how a cluster works, lets look deeper into them and understand the different components that are essential for a cluster to work.

1. Quorum :
You need a minimum of n/2 +1 nodes for a cluster to work.

2. Cluster Infrastructure : The cluster infrastructure is the software which is used to run the cluster like OHAC and also the servers and the storage devices which are all interconnected. Now, the cluster software decides to which node the service running should fail on in case of a disaster.

3. Agents : Usually, we use applications which we use are not meant to be run on multiple computers in the same time. For instance, your real player is not meant for a multi computer usage. These agents take care of this problem and make such software run on multiple computers. These programs act as a communication bridge between the cluster infrastructure and the service. In case of a disaster, they pick up certain parameters from the service application and pass it to the cluster infrastructure which will take care of the rest of the stuff.

4. Application : This is the service which is running on a server. Eg: Mail service. In case of a disaster, the cluster makes sure that this application keeps running safely for the user by failing over some other node.

A Special Case of Failure

Consider this case, your servers are running fine but then suddenly, the network cable for one of your node gets cut but the server which got isolated from your network can still access and write data to your storage device. We don’t want this do we? So to tackle this problem, there was another concept introduced called Data Fencing. By data fencing, you can protect your storage devices to be accessed and changed only by the nodes in your cluster. This Data Fencing is a very big and interesting topic which will be dealt in some future session of GLOSS.

Getting OHAC

You can get the source code for OHAC here http://www.opensolaris.org/os/community/haclusters/ohac/ Download it, build it and create your own clusters. When you start using OHAC, try to contribute to their project using the same link as above.

I have tried my best to explain the concept of Cluster Computing in a simple way and also I have explained only the most important components of this area. My advice is, not many people in this world are into cluster computing so its better to act fast and make your moves in this field.

My sincere thanks to

Kumar Abhishek (for the session on Cluster Computing and for giving me his presentation slides)
The Photography Wing of GLOSS (trust me, they have did a really good job this time)
and to you! (for reading through my blog :-))