Monday, January 04, 2016

Happy 2016!

Life is about choices only some of which are in your control and priorities direct your limited choices. The sum of your priorities lead you to your vision and discipline keeps you marching forward. A dreamer has a vision that appears insurmountable with hard work being your best companion. Wish you all a happy and prosperous 2016!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

India and the Ebola Virus Outbreak

"That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history."
Aldous Huxley

India's response to the current outbreak of the Ebola Virus leaves a lot to be desired.

India has one nurse per 1,000 people, according to the 2010 World Bank data compared to 10 nurses for every 1,000 in the US. The prevalence of malaria, dengue and other fever-inducing diseases makes it tough to isolate people displaying symptoms of early onset of Ebola. So far the country has only two laboratories — the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Delhi and the National Institute of Virology in Pune — to test the virus [1].

The screening of passengers travelling from African countries to India is raising questions [2]. Passengers voluntarily fill forms with information on their travel to Africa including any symptoms of fever, cough or cold. Airline crews also look out for passengers having extreme symptoms. Airports in Delhi and Mumbai have thermal cameras to check for passengers having fever. But according to an official: "Our airports have screening desks in the arrival area before immigration. People who disclose symptoms are screened and suspected cases are immediately sent in isolation to hospitals. Aircraft are taken to remote bays if its crew report suspected cases on board. The plane is fumigated and the suspected person sent to a designated hospital. Passengers are then allowed to deplane," [2].

It is not foolproof to leave the disclosure to passengers. From the recent history of the August 2009 H1N1 Swine Flu outbreak in India, similar measures were put in place after the March 2009 outbreak in the US and Mexico [3]. But it resulted in 1444 deaths and 20,164 cases as of March 24, 2010 [4]. This current strain of the Ebola virus is far more lethal and can spread more rapidly.

Since we have an able Prime Minister in Narendra Modi and a reputed doctor as our Health minister in Dr. Harsh Vardhan, I hope the issue is taken up with all the importance and seriousness it deserves. There needs to be close coordination with health organizations and countries around the world to find out best practices and we need to implement innovative solutions to tailor them for a country like India. If not, it could be an impending disaster waiting to happen.

1) Can India block Ebola invasion?

2) Ebola-infected flyers can still sneak in despite checks

3) India on swine flu alert

4) 2009 flu pandemic in India

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Am back!

Okay folks, should start posting some content soon.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Seabiscuit - the movie

First time I saw it, I was on a plane from Chicago to San Diego to attend an interview. The movie did not complete when the plane landed and nobody got off the plane till the final 15 minutes finished to a resounding cheer and claps all round. Never experienced anything like this before.

When I was back in Lexington to watch another movie, there were a group of ladies from an old age home, coming out excited after watching the movie. I spoke to one of them and they were very proud of the movie. The protagonist's grandsire is after all the hall of famer Man o' War from Lexington.

Watched it many a time afterward, once with Anusha and later when screened on television back in Pune. The movie so very matches the real events that it inspires so much in you. Loved the line "You don't throw a whole life away just because it's banged up a little."

Monday, November 15, 2010

3 Watersheds in Computer Security

Posted on Bruce Schneier's Cryptogram about a recent talk by Whitfield Diffie:

The first was the invention of the radio. Pre-radio, the most common communications security device was the code book. This was no longer enough when radio caused the amount of communications to explode. In response, inventors took the research in Vigenère ciphers and automated them. This automation led to an explosion of designs and an enormous increase in complexity -- and the rise of modern cryptography.

The second watershed was shared computing. Before the 1960s, the security of computers was the physical security of computer rooms. Timesharing changed that. The result was computer security, a much harder problem than cryptography. Computer security is primarily the problem of writing good code. But writing good code is hard and expensive, so functional computer security is primarily the problem of dealing with code that isn't good. Networking -- and the Internet -- isn't just an expansion of computing capacity. The real difference is how cheap it is to set up communications connections. Setting up these connections requires naming: both IP addresses and domain names. Security, of course, is essential for this all to work; DNSSec is a critical part of that.

The third watershed is cloud computing, or whatever you want to call the general trend of outsourcing computation. Google is a good example. Every organization uses Google search all the time, which probably makes it the most valuable intelligence stream on the planet. How can you protect yourself? You can't, just as you can't whenever you hand over your data for storage or processing -- you just have to trust your outsourcer. There are two solutions. The first is legal: an enforceable contract that protects you and your data. The second is technical, but mostly theoretical: homomorphic encryption that allows you to outsource computation of data without having to trust that outsourcer.

Diffie's final point is that we're entering an era of unprecedented surveillance possibilities. It doesn't matter if people encrypt their communications, or if they encrypt their data in storage. As long as they have to give their data to other people for processing, it will be possible to eavesdrop on. Of course the methods will change, but the result will be an enormous trove of information about everybody.

Security quirkiness at Akshardham

I had been to the Akshardham temple at Delhi recently and must say that it is one of the most beautiful temples I have ever seen. I would rate it on par with my Taj Mahal trip earlier this year. It is a must see for anyone visiting Delhi. The security is very high, probably due to the past attack on the Akshardham temple in Gujarat. No electronic items including phones or cameras are allowed. Security checks are similar to those at airports. Some observations:

1) Belts are not allowed to be worn through security check. Apparently, belts interfere with the new full body scanners installed at various airports. But guess what, there are no full body scanners at Akshardham!

2) Multi-factor authentication: Bags greater than the size of a small ladies purse are not allowed inside. We had to deposit our belongings filling up a form and received a token in exchange. To receive the items on our way back, we had to provide the token and speak out the name and telephone number we earlier entered on the form. God help those who specified numbers they do not remember and are stored on the deposited phone's contacts list.

Monday, August 09, 2010


I have been troubled reading a number of stories and watching debates on the recent Kashmir protests. There is not one Kashmiri that believes a political solution is not needed. They are inclined towards independence from Indian rule. You start thinking if India is doing to them what the British did to the Raj pre-independence. My impression of India trying to bring a progressive Kashmir to the mainstream is going for a toss. The intentions are there but the execution is similar to every other project in India. Lack of will, bureaucratic, filled with corruption and worse, a lack of regard for the public. It is like waking up from a dream of 30 years. How much longer should we live in this illusion?

Here is a letter from a Kashmiri journalist based of New York.

An Indian familiarization tour has been conducted by the Indian army for the Kashmiri youth.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Sports crazy

The deluge of IPL-3 is all over me. Although I decided not to follow it this year, for a multitude of reasons that I will not delve into now, it is hard to be a pariah when it is the talk of the town. I at least wanted to be neutral and simply appreciate good cricket but alas that became another broken resolve. My proclivity to the Chennai Superkings could not be curtailed, specially now that it is doing well.

I was wondering what makes a sports crazy fan. Why does it become crazier when the team is doing well? I guess it is to do with success that comes along with it. The success of the team becomes the success of the fan for some reason. The fan feels a sense of tremendous achievement/accomplishment leading to a big surge in the feel good factor. Just my 2 cents.