Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Understanding Credit Crisis

Check out this 11 min video put together by a grad student at UCLA as a study of "visualization of complex ideas". Nice summary of all the things that lead to the crisis:

http://crisisofcredit.com/

Thursday, July 17, 2008

New Paper: Identifying Regional Sensitive Queries in Web Search

Its been a while since I posted my last blog. Wanted to give an update on my latest poster publication in WWW conference. Its already three months old :-) Here is the abstract:

"In Web search ranking, the expected results for some queries could vary greatly depending upon location of the user. We name such queries regional sensitive queries. Identifying regional sensitivity of queries is important to meet users' needs. The objective of this work is to identify whether a user expects only regional results for a query. We present three novel features generated from search logs and build a meta query classifier to identify regional sensitive query. Experimental results show that the proposed method achieves high accuracy in identifying regional sensitive queries. "

It is available for download at http://www.www2008.org/papers/pp225.html.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

New Telugu Blog..

Since I am hearing some complaints that my telugu posts are inaccessible to some of my audience :), I decided to move my telugu posts to another blog: http://bhavayami.blogspot.com/. The blog title is "Bhavayami Gopalabalam", which means to meditate on the name of God. It is also the title of a popular Annamacharya Keerthana. Aptly I'll use this blog to share my telugu versions of vedic chants, stotrams and other telugu related stuff.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Vedic Chants in Telugu: Sri Narayana Upanishad (శ్రీ నారాయణోపనిషద్)

శివోపాసన మంత్రం (మహా నారాయణోపనిషద్) [Shivopasana Mantram (Maha Narayana Upanishad)]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


నిధపతయే నమః నిధనపతాంతికాయ నమః
ఊర్ధ్వాయ నమః ఊర్ధ్వలింగాయ నమః
హిరణ్యాయ నమః హిరణ్యలింగాయ నమః
సువర్ణాయ నమః సువర్ణలింగాయ నమః
దివ్యాయ నమః దివ్యలింగాయ నమః
భవాయ నమః భవలింగాయ నమః
శర్వాయ నమః శర్వ్ల్లలింగాయ నమః
శివాయ నమః శివలింగాయ నమః
జ్వలాయ నమః జ్వలలింగాయ నమః
ఆత్మాయ నమః ఆత్మలింగాయ నమః
పరమాయ నమః పరమలింగాయ నమః

ఈతత్ సోమస్య సూర్యస్య సర్వలింగఘ స్థాపయతి పాణి మంత్రం పవిత్రం

Friday, February 24, 2006

Vedic Chants in Telugu: Mantra Pushpam (మంత్ర పుష్పం)

I am planning to post vedic chants in telugu script one by one. However I haven't yet figured out a neat way to add the notation for intonations to the chants (which syllable to stress and where to strech the sound, etc.), which are very important in these the vedic chantings. I will update the posts as I find a way to put them up. This is my first offering in this series.

శ్రీ మంత్ర పుష్పం (Sri Mantra Pushpam)
---------------------------------------

యోపాం పుష్పం వేదా పుష్పవాన్ ప్రజావాన్
పశుమాన్ భవతి చంద్రమావామపాం పుష్పం
పుష్పవాన్ ప్రజావాన్ పశుమాన్ భవతి
య ఏవం వేదా యోపామాయతనం వేదా ఆయతనవాన్ భవతి (1)

అగ్నిర్వా అపామాయతనం ఆయతనవాన్ భవతి
యోగ్నేరాయతనం వేదా ఆయతనవాన్ భవతి
ఆపోవా అగ్నేరాయతనం ఆయతనవాన్ భవతి
య ఏవం వేదా యోపామాయతనం వేదా ఆయతనవాన్ భవతి (2)

వాయుర్వా అపామయతనం ఆయతనవాన్ భవతి
యో వాయోరాయతనం వేదా ఆయతనవాన్ భవతి
ఆపోవై వాయోరాయతనం ఆయతనవాన్ భవతి
య ఏవం వేదా యోపామాయతనం వేదా ఆయతనవాన్ భవతి (3)

అసౌవై తపన్నపామాయతనం ఆయతనవాన్ భవతి
యోముష్యతపత ఆయతనం వేదా ఆయతనవాన్ భవతి
ఆపోవా అముష్యతపత ఆయతనం ఆయతనవాన్ భవతి
య ఏవం వేదా యోపామాయతనం వేదా ఆయతనవాన్ భవతి (4)

చంద్రమావా అపామాయతనం ఆయతనవాన్ భవతి
యః చంద్రమస ఆయతనం వేదా ఆయతనవాన్ భవతి
ఆపోవై చంద్రమస ఆయతనం ఆయతనవాన్ భవతి
య ఏవం వేదా యోపామాయతనం వేదా ఆయతనవాన్ భవతి (5)

నక్ష్త్రత్రాణివా అపామాయతనం ఆయతనవాన్ భవతి
యో నక్ష్త్రత్రాణామాయతనం వేదా ఆయతనవాన్ భవతి
ఆపోవై నక్ష్త్తత్రాణామాయతనం ఆయతనవాన్ భవతి
య ఏవం వేదా యోపామాయతనం వేదా ఆయతనవాన్ భవతి (6)

పర్జన్యోవాం అపామాయతనాం ఆయతనవాన్ భవతి
యః పర్జన్యస్యాయతనం వేదా ఆయతనవాన్ భవతి
ఆపోవై పర్జన్యస్యాయతనం ఆయతనవాన్ భవతి
య ఏవం వేదా యోపామాయతనం వేదా ఆయతనవాన్ భవతి (7)

సంవత్సరోవా అపామాయతనం ఆయతనవాన్ భవతి
యః సంవత్సరస్యాయతనం వేదా ఆయతనవాన్ భవతి
ఆపోవై సంవత్సరస్యాయతనం వేదా ఆయతనవాన్ భవతి
య ఏవం వేదా యోత్సునాభం ప్రతిష్ఠితాం వేదా ప్రత్యేవ తిష్ఠతి (8)

Monday, February 20, 2006

Lingashtakam and Bilvastotram in Telugu

I realized that there are no telugu versions of lingashtakam and bilvastotram online, so I'm posting these as my offering to Lord Shiva for Shivaraathri.


శ్రీ లింగాష్టకం (Sri Lingashtakam)
----------------------------

బ్రహ్మ మురారి సురార్చిత లింగం
నిర్మల భాసిత శోభిత లింగం
జన్మజ దుఃఖ వినాశక లింగం
తత్ప్రణమామి సదాశివ లింగం (1)

దేవముని ప్రవరార్చిత లింగం
కామదహన కరుణాకర లింగం
రావణ దర్ప వినాశక లింగం
తత్ప్రణమామి సదాశివ లింగం (2)

సర్వ సుగంధ సులేపిత లింగం
బుద్ధి వివర్ధన కారణ లింగం
సిద్ధ సురాసుర వందిత లింగం
తత్ప్రణమామి సదాశివ లింగం (3)

కనక మహామణి భూషిత లింగం
ఫణిపతి వేష్టిత షోభిత లింగం
దక్ష సుయజ్న నినాశక లింగం
తత్ప్రణమామి సదాశివ లింగం (4)

కుంకుమ చందన లేపిత లింగం
పంకజ హార సుశోభిత లింగం
సంచిత పాప వినాశక లింగం
తత్ప్రణమామి సదాశివ లింగం (5)

దేవగణార్చిత సేవిత లింగం
భావైర్భక్తిభి రేవచ లింగం
దినకర కోటి ప్రభాకర లింగం
తత్ప్రణమామి సదాశివ లింగం (6)

అష్టదళోపరివేష్టిత లింగం
సర్వసముద్భవ కారణ లింగం
అష్టదరిద్ర వినాశక లింగం
తత్ప్రణమామి సదాశివ లింగం (7)

సురగురు సురవర పూజిత లింగం
సురవన పుష్ప సదార్చిత లింగం
పరమపదం పరమాత్మక లింగం
తత్ప్రణమామి సదాశివ లింగం (8)

లింగాష్టకమిదం పుణ్యం యః పఠేచ్చివ సన్నిధౌ
శివలోకమవాప్నోతి శివేన సహమోదతే.


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శ్రీ బిల్వస్తోత్రం (Sri Bilvastotram)
---------------------------

త్రిదళం త్రిగుణాకారం త్రినేత్రం చ త్రియాయుధం
త్రిజన్మ పాపసంహారం ఏకబిల్వం శివార్పణం. (1)

త్రిశాఖైః బిల్వపత్రైశ్చ అచ్చిద్రైః కోమలైః శుభైః
తవపూజాం కరిష్యామి ఏకబిల్వం శివార్పణం. (2)

కోటి కన్యా మహాదానం తిలపర్వత కోటయః
కాంచనం క్షీలదానేన ఏకబిల్వం శివార్పణం. (3)

కాశీక్షేత్ర నివాసం చ కాలభైరవ దర్శనం
ప్రయాగే మాధవం దృష్ట్వా ఏకబిల్వం శివార్పణం. (4)

ఇందువారే వ్రతం స్థిత్వా నిరాహారో మహేశ్వరాః
నక్తం హౌష్యామి దేవేశ ఏకబిల్వం శివార్పణం. (5)

రామలింగ ప్రతిష్ఠా చ వైవాహిక కృతం తధా
తటాకానిచ సంధానం ఏకబిల్వం శివార్పణం. (6)

అఖండ బిల్వపత్రం చ ఆయుతం శివపూజనం
కృతం నామ సహస్రేణ ఏకబిల్వం శివార్పణం. (7)

ఉమయా సహదేవేశ నంది వాహనమేవ చ
భస్మలేపన సర్వాంగం ఏకబిల్వం శివార్పణం. (8)

సాలగ్రామేషు విప్రాణాం తటాకం దశకూపయోః
యజ్నకోటి సహస్రస్చ ఏకబిల్వం శివార్పణం. (9)

దంతి కోటి సహస్రేషు అశ్వమేధ శతక్రతౌ
కోటికన్యా మహాదానం ఏకబిల్వం శివార్పణం. (10)

బిల్వాణాం దర్శనం పుణ్యం స్పర్శనం పాపనాశనం
అఘోర పాపసంహారం ఏకబిల్వం శివార్పణం. (11)

సహస్రవేద పాటేషు బ్రహ్మస్తాపన ముచ్యతే
అనేకవ్రత కోటీనాం ఏకబిల్వం శివార్పణం. (12)

అన్నదాన సహస్రేషు సహస్రోప నయనం తధా
అనేక జన్మపాపాని ఏకబిల్వం శివార్పణం. (13)

బిల్వస్తోత్రమిదం పుణ్యం యః పఠేచ్చివ సన్నిధౌ
శివలోకమవాప్నోతి ఏకబిల్వం శివార్పణం.


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శ్రీ సాయి శివ స్తోత్రం (Sri Sai Shiva Stotram)
-------------------------------------

ఓం నమశ్శివాయః సాయి ఓం నమశ్శివాయః (4)

సదాశివం భజామ్యహం సకల లోక నాయకం
సుజన చిత్త ప్రేరకం మనోభిలాష పూరకం
సురేశ్వరం గణేశ్వరం సనాతనాత్మ మానుషం
నమామి తం మహేశ్వరం స్మరామి సాయి శంకరం |2|
ఓం నమశ్శివాయః సాయి ఓం నమశ్శివాయః |4| (1)

నమః పురారి సంతతం భయాక్రాంత నాశకం
సుధైర్య వీర్య దాయకం ప్రచండ తాండవ ప్రియం
త్రినేత్ర ధారి శంకరం త్రిశూల పాణి సుందరం
నమామి తం మహేశ్వరం స్మరామి సాయి శంకరం |2|
ఓం నమశ్శివాయః సాయి ఓం నమశ్శివాయః |4| (2)

జటాధరం కృపాకరం సదా ఉమా సేవితం
విభూతి వేష భూషితం శశాంక కాంతి మండనం
చంద్రశేఖరం శివం నిరంతరం తమాశ్రయే
నమామి తం మహేశ్వరం స్మరామి సాయి శంకరం |2|
ఓం నమశ్శివాయః సాయి ఓం నమశ్శివాయః |4| (3)

నిర్గుణం నిరంతరం నిత్య సత్య మానసం
స్థిరాసనే సుఖాన్వితం సాధు సంరక్షకం
యతీశ్వరం మునీశ్వరం యజామ్యహం అహర్నిశం
నమామి తం మహేశ్వరం స్మరామి సాయి శంకరం |2|
ఓం నమశ్శివాయః సాయి ఓం నమశ్శివాయః |4| (4)

రత్నాకర వంశితం భారద్వాజ గోత్రజం
సర్వ ధర్మ పోషకం సర్వ శక్తి రూపిణాం
సత్య సాయీశ్వరం మనసా స్మరామ్యహం
నమామి తం మహేశ్వరం స్మరామి సాయి శంకరం |2|
ఓం నమశ్శివాయః సాయి ఓం నమశ్శివాయః |6| (5)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

A Series of Unfortunate Events...

It was 5.45am on Sunday. I just came back from watching the final one-day cricket match between India and Pakistan (India won the match with a blast). I was supposed to go for Andre House seva by 7am (breakfast service for homeless people in Andre House, which is a homless shelter in downtown phoenix). It is my duty today to make coffee for 200+ people. I have the huge coffee maker with me, I followed all the instructions and started the machine. I did other things and came back to switch off the coffee maker at 6.30, which is about the time I should leave. Then I realized that I didn't put the coffee maker properly and it didn't even get started on it. That is just the beginning in the series of unfortunate events.

I also had sandwiches with me that we (the young adults from Sai Young Adult association in phoenix) made yesterday, so it is critical that I have to reach Andre house by sharp 7am. Since the coffee didn't get done, I thought I'll use the adaptor in my car and connect in the car and let it boil/brew while I'm driving to the place. But when I went to the car, the adaptor apparently broke and it didn't work. This is the second one.

While I was hurrying to get to Andre house in time, I left my house stepping hard on the gas. Soon after, I came to a sudden halt, as there is a long train on the tracks nearby my place, and I had to wait for 10 mins there. The time is now 6.45am.

Since I had to pick up two other friends and go the Seva, I wanted to call them to get them alerted and started searching for my phone in the car. I then realized that I forgot my cell phone at home. Without any other option, I thought I'll go directly go their house and get them. But I forgot their apartment number. I thought it is on the second floor and I banged on the doors of some 5-6 apartments, in the area where I thought the apt would be. No answer (I later realized that their apartment is on 3rd floor). I couldn't call them, as I didn't have any means of communication with me. I then realized how handicapped I'll be without my cell phone and how dependent I was on the technology. With nothing to do, I left the apt complex without picking them up. The time is now 6.59am.

I rushed from the apt complex and ran in my car as fast as a bullet, cursing myself and my luck and that I'm delaying the breakfast for homeless people. I rushed to the Andre house and when I finally took the exit and was about to take the turn in the street to get there, I realized that the street is closed and that I have to take a detour. I tried to take the detour, but I got lost and at last I found my way to the place. Finally I reached Andre house at 7.17am, rushing to brew the coffee and hand over the sandwiches. The seva has already started and the young adults are already serving the food to the homeless people. To my amazement and by God's grace, they are also serving coffee. I later realized that someone else also got the coffee ingrediants by coincidence and made the coffee after he came.

Anyways, the seva went well, despite the fact that the sandwiches and coffee came late and that we were short of people (I was supposed to pick up two of the young adults). After the seva, I had to immediately rush to my music classes which start at 10am. With no sleep from the day before, I rushed home and went immediately to my music classes. After the music classes, I realized that I left the car headlights on and the battery drained out. I had to jump start the car and had to drive around for another hour while I was really sleepy after the night out.

Finally the series of unfortunate events came to an end at 1.30pm, by when I hit my bed and tucked deep inside my cozy comfortor :) :) God is great!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Vedas, Hinduism and Sanathana Dharma

Recently I had some interesting discussions with my friends about these topics. You can find the original post and the thread of comments here. I thought I could aggregate all of my views/opinions in a single place here. The discussion started with the last verse in the movie Matrix. Those of you who remember, the movie Matrix ends with a hindu/hindi/sanskrit prayer, right! It is actually the Hindu hymn of peace and it can be clearly stated as follows:

Roman Script:
Asatoma Sadgamaya,
Tamasoma Jyotirgamaya,
Mrutyorma Amruthangamaya
Om Shanti Shanti Shaantihi

Telugu Script:
అసతోమా సద్గమయ
తమసోమా జ్యోతిర్గమయ
మృత్యోర్మా అమృతంగమయ
ఓం శాంతిః శాంతిః శాంతిః

Meaning:
From untruth, lead us to truth;
From darkness, lead us to light;
From death, lead us to immortality.
Om peace, peace, peace.

This is called Shanti Mantra (hymn of peace). Though the origin of this hymn is from Rig Veda, the musical version of it can also be found in Sama Veda. Rig Veda is a collection of hymns and Sama Veda revises them adding musical aspect to them.

The term Hinduism, or rather Hindu is actually very new (probably around 200 years old), but the concepts existed from a long long time ago. It was just called Sanathana Dharma, which by the way means righteous living. 'Ananto Vai Vedaha', says elders (vedas are infinite) and they are also called 'Anaadi', which means they have no beginning with respect to time, as they are the breath of God for which you cannot add a time attribute. And vedas are also referred as 'Apourishayas', which means they are not from human origin. The best source to learn about vedas are vedas themselves, but you can find a pretty comprehensive description of vedas in an interactive CD called 'Veda Manjari' created by Putaparthi Students of Sri Sathya Sai Baba, here is the link http://www.saibabalinks.org/news/others/2005/vedamanjari.htm.

So the concepts of vedas have been existing for a long time. But I guess from time to time, they needed to be told in such a way that a common man could grasp them. Buddha, Mahavir, Guru Nanak, Jourashtar and many others took several aspects of it and preached in their own way. And each and every one is perfectly true and correct.

The origin of Vedas is not human, but they they were told by God himself and it is intended to be followed by humans. The earlier rishis heard them in their wake of their enlightenment from God. The Vedas are just a way of living righteously.

Many westerners today are getting interested to know about Vedas. Its good. I wouldn't say that leave the Vedas to those able to learn them. The westerners may not be able to grasp them completely, in fact no one would be able to grasp them completely (one life time would not be sufficient to get to know them to the fullest extent). They would only learn a drop in an ocean and as long as that drop is pure, it serves its purpose...

One of the main principles of Vedas is 'Aham Brahmasmi', which means I am Brahman. Here Brahman means God, but more specifically Brahman refers to the qualities of God, which are Sat, Chit, and Ananda. Sat means eternity, Chit means knowledge and Ananda means bliss. So Vedas indeed say that we are all Brahman or God (in other words, all of us have these qualities). Upanishads are called vedantas, which means the end or essense of vedas. Upanishads contain the essense of Vedas in an easily understandable way.

There are several deities in hinduism. These deities are stepping stones in reaching the supreme one. It is usually difficult to meditate on formless God and these deities or idols help us overcome it and the ultimate goal is to move from the idol to formless God.

There is a subtle different between the almight creator (God) and His wonderful creation. We play the God (creator)'s role when we are giving birth to a child. God gave this immense responsibility to be creators, and some realize it and some don't. Those realized persons (who completely understand that they are indeed God) are blessed ones and we let them lead us to the path of spirituality which they have already realized. In hinduism, when somebody is raised to divine level, we are acknowledging the fact that they attained self-realization and we let them lead us to spirituality. And as long as we can benefit from their knowledge, they have served their purpose in life.

I'm not arguing that one religion is older or greater than the other, the point is that the essence is the same in everything and every one of them refers to the same one and only God, but in different ways/paths and we should appreciate it. We have to realize that the end goal of all the religions is the same: serve our fellow men and service to mankind is service to God.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

50 Most Linked Blogs



This is not some wierd Petri net and surely not a neural net :) :) These are the 50 most-linked-to blogs that are color-coded to indicate their category. More information can be found from http://www.nymag.com/news/media/15972/. Of all these blogs, the only blogs that are in my bookmark list are Google Blog and Joel on Software. I guess it may be worth peeking at others too...

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Future History of the Media

Future History of the Media:
Year 2006: the Google Grid
Year 2007: Newsbotster; Sony's ePaper
Year 2008: Google + Amazon --> Googlezon
Year 2011: NYTimes vs. Googlezon
Year 2014: EPIC --> Evolving Personalized Information Construct

I didn't make this up :) Check out the mini-movie and the transcript made by Robin Sloan and Matt Thompson.
- Flash Mini-movie (8 minutes)
- Transcript of the movie
- Google Results for EPIC

Different Faiths

I'm very glad to blog on our young adult study circles again. I missed several good study circles while I was away from Tempe. This time I am leading the study circle and the topic is about the coexistence of different faiths. Its a wonder that several faiths coexist together in this world, but the question is that how can we make use of this wealth of information to improve ourselves. The discussion on this topic has been postponed a couple of times, so I thought I'll post the questions first because they are themselves interesting. I'll soon post a discussion on these questions.

1. We all agree that there is only one God. But why do several people across the world follow different faiths? Can’t one faith be sufficient to reach the Supreme One?
2. When do you think a new faith is born? Christianity was born from Judaism. Islam was born from Christianity. Bahai faith was born from Islam. Sikhism and Jainism were born from Hinduism. Is there an end to this? Why aren’t people satisfied with one faith and move to another one?
3. If all of us from different faiths are referring to the same God, why aren’t some of us able to appreciate other faiths? Is it because of lack of understanding of other faiths or rather one’s own faith?
4. We all agree that the primary goal of every faith is to reach/become the Supreme God. Is it important for us to be aware of all of these faiths? Now that we have so much information and so many spiritual scriptures from each of these faiths, how can we make best use of this wealth of information to achieve our goal faster?

Some Relevant Quotes:

Swami (Sri Sathya Sai Baba):
"Let the different faiths exist, let them flourish, let the glory of God be sung in all the languages, in a variety of tunes that should be the ideal. Respect the differences between the faiths and recognize them as valid as far as they do not extinguish the flame of Unity."

"The motive behind the formation and propagation of all these different faiths is the same. The founders and propagators were all persons filled with Love and Wisdom. Their goal, their target, their purpose and their aim were all the same. No one had a design to divide, disturb or destroy. They attempted to do good, see good and be good."

"All faiths are inter-related and mutually indebted to each other for the principles they teach, and the disciplines they recommended. The Vedic Religion was the first in time; Buddhism which appeared about 2,500 years ago, was its son; Christianity, which was influenced much by the Orient was its grandson. And Islam, which has the Prophets of Christianity as its base was like the great-grandson. All have Love as the fundamental discipline of the mind, in order to chasten it and merge man with the Divine". SSS VOL VII B Chap 15 p 113.

"All are one, my dear children. God is one. He manifests in different forms and man worships the form to which he is most attached. All faiths are paths leading to the same goal. Why then do you see the difference?
I have come not to disturb any faith but to confirm everyone in his own faith. I respond to everyone with whatever name you call me. You wanted to see the Lord in form of Balaji and so here I am to fulfill your wish."

Sufi Saint Rumi:
"I died a mineral and became a plant;
I died a plant and rose an animal;
I died an animal and I was a man.
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die as a man, to soar
With blessed angels; even from angelhood I must pass on ...
When I have sacrificed my angel soul,
I shall become that which no mind conceived."

Bahá'u'lláh: "… that all the great religions of the world are divine in origin, that their basic principles are in complete harmony, that their aims and purposes are one and the same, that their teachings are but facets of one truth, that their functions are complementary...."

Guru Nanak: "God is one, but He has innumerable forms. He is the Creator of all and He Himself takes the human form."

Meher Baba: "There is no difference in the realization of the Truth either by a Muslim, Hindu, Zoroastrian, or a Christian. The difference is only in words and terms. Truth is not the monopoly of a particular race or religion."

Dalai Lama: "This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness."

Buddha: "Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it."

Mahatma Gandhi: "I believe in the fundamental truth of all great religions of the world. I believe that they are all God— given and I believe that they were necessary for the people to whom these religions were revealed. And I believe that if only we could all of us read the scriptures of the different faiths from the standpoints of the followers of these faiths, we should find that they were at bottom all one and were all helpful to one another."

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Internship at MS...

While the memories are still fresh in mind, I wanted to share my summer internship experiences at Microsoft. I worked with MSN Search group, which is actually the hottest group in Microsoft at this time :) Well, I was kind of lucky to get into this group, but I'll save those stories for some other time.

I felt that the internship was very well organized, structured and well-paced. I did another internship the previous summer in a research group at Humana Inc., but that was totally different experience. It felt like an academic environment with the kind of work I did, even though I had to wear neck tie everyday (yeah, I know...). It was a very cheerful environment to work with though. But the experience at MS was completely different.

From the day I came, I was on my toes to keep up with the pace. Within the first week, I had to submit a goals and objectives statement outlining what I plan to do in the internship. There was a mid-point review to go over the progress of my work and there was a final review at the end of internship to see if I actually did any useful work to the company. In the interim, there were weekly status reports and weekly 1:1 meetings with my mentor, weekly team meetings and occasional meetings with my manager to get feedback about my work. Well, the MSN Search team itself is a fast-paced team with monthly releases keeping everybody in the team on their toes all the time.

Even though I was not working in the research group, they tried to give me stand-alone projects that match my interests. I worked on a performance related project in the first half of my internship and the most interesting work I did in the internship was in my second half of my internship. This was kind of a research project where I worked on a query rewriting tool that analyzes the affect of various rewriting methods on the relevance of search results. I was given complete freedom about the project and the whole team was very helpful and resourceful in making the tool useful to the rest of the team. The project was looking very good in the end and we got very interesting results. But we did not have enough time to complete additional experiments, but I hope the tool was useful the team and gave insights for further experimentation in this area. I was amazed by the sheer amount of data that was handled and by the number of machines to handle the processing of the data. It helped me to gain a practical perspective to the research problems that I am working towards my dissertation.

There were a lot of events to keep the interns busy during the summer. There were tech talks to keep us informed of the latest developments within several organizations within Microsoft. There were numerous fun events like puzzle hunt (where we tried to solve lot of puzzles, ran around MS campus for treasures..), company picnic, casino events, mount rainier trip, tech fest etc.. Although I couldn't everything, I still enjoyed it. Overall, I had lot of fun and it was a good learning experience.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Telugu Resources on the Web

I know, I know I haven't been active lately in updating my blogs. I'll try to be more regular from now. Recently, one of my friend Hima pointed me to several telugu resources online and help me to get started on it. This inspired me to find more telugu resources and I thought I would put them all together in one place.

1. Aksharamala (అక్షరమాల): This is software that allows writing Indian language scripts using RTS Transliteration Scheme. Basically Aksharamala generates Telugu, Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, etc. scripts by simple regular keyboard input. Each language has a keymap that allows writing in that script. Here is the Aksharamala Software and Telugu Keymap. There are several forums in Aksharamala for each language that give several other details.
2. Windows Native Support: Even though Aksharamala allows you to create several documents in Telugu, in order to be able to use Windows editors such as Notepad, Wordpad, MS Word to write Telugu documents, you need to install Windows Regional Language Support, which doesn’t get installed by default. To install it, go to Control Panel, click on Regional Language Support and enable support for complex scripts and east asian languages. This link will help you with further details.
3. MS Telugu Language Interface Pack (LIP): Microsoft announced LIP for several languages in January of this year. Here is the LIP for Telugu. Isn’t it amazing to see Microsoft Web site in Telugu?
4. Telugu Fonts: Center for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) in India has come with Telugu Fonts.
5. English to Telugu Dictionary: Here is an English-To-Telugu Dictionary (తెలుగు నిఘంటువు).
6. Wikipedia in Telugu: http://te.wikipedia.org
7. Google Queries in Telugu: You can now type telugu queries in Google. Look at this.
8. Telugu Bloggers: Here is a community of telugu bloggers: తెలుగు బ్లాగర్లు.
9. A introductory article about Unicode: Here is an introductory article on Unicode by Joel: The Absolute Minimum Every Software Developer Absolutely, Positively Must Know About Unicode and Character Sets (No Excuses!)
10. A short paragraph in Telugu: Finally here is my first shot at a telugu blog:
అకస్మాత్తుగా ఇలా నన్ను తెలుగులో రాయమంటే కష్టమండేనోయ్! మీ అందరికి నా హృదయ పూర్వక కృతజ్నతలు, నా బ్లాగు చూసినందుకు. ప్రేమతో, శ్రీనివాస్.

Enjoy good writing in Telugu!

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Freedom of Thought

After a long time, I lead this study circle with the topic 'Freedom of Thought'. I chose this topic as I was struggling to decide what was right according to me vs society and family. I was actually wondering how much freedom I have with my thoughts and actions. Can I really do anything I want or am I a social animal and bound to the social regulations? These thoughts provoked me to pursue this topic.

The first question of the study circle is: How much of your life is driven by 'others'? Sometimes you hear the phrases like 'I bought this car because it is popular', 'I am doing this to make my parents happy', 'I weat this expensive shirt because all my colleagues wear such kind of shirts', etc. Did you ever think how much of your life is influenced by others opinions and how much of it is driven by the 'actual you'?

There were varied answers to this questions. Some said they do the actions because they could not say no to others, so they do them to please them. Some said man is a social animal and he cannot exist without society. They referred to David Reisman in 1950 who in his classic book 'The Lonely Crowd' talks about three social characters: tradition-directed, inner-directed, and other-directed. Tradition-directed people rely on past experience and resistant to change. Inner-directed people are controlled by personal values. Other-directed people are dependent on other's values. Some said their day-to-day activities are dependent on others but their moral values are driven by themselves. Others said they would first ask themselves two questions: 'Is it gonna hurt you?', 'Is it gonna hurt somebody else?'. If the answer to both the questions is 'no', then they would go ahead and do the action, not caring whether the thought has come up within themselves or inspired by someone else. I guess everyone agreed that one has to realize that he will be happy only when everyone around him is happy and has to act accordingly.

The second question is: Did you ever notice how much are your thoughts constrained by others? Forget about the actions you take; sometimes you cannot even think freely. For example, things like 'What will society th ink of me if I do this action?', 'Will people desert me?', have strong influence on your thought process and consequently on the actions you take.

Though there was sort of a consensus to this question that there is nothing like freedom of thought, there were very interesting answers to this question. As a human being, one has limitations (both pertaining to physical and society) and thoughts are restrained by these limitations. Constraining thoughts should be done on a Godly basis but not a social basis, i.e., the thoughts should be restrained by one's self-discipline and due to God, but they should not be restrained by society. Some came up with an interesting analogy that the society should be viewed as a marketplace of ideas and thoughts. And with such a wide consensus of ideas, the ultimate ideas that come out of society is in the best interest of most people. i.e., even though some bad ideas and thoughts creep in the beginning, they will finally be suppressed because many people will be against them. At the same time, good ideas and thoughts will be hailed ultimately. Some said if the thoughts cannot be vocalized openly and freely because of society, then those thoughts are pertaining to evil side and should be suppressed. For example thoughts about lust,racism, etc. cannot be vocalized freely in the public and thus they pertain to the evil side and should be suppressed accordingly. Swami always says whatch your thoughts, words and actions. Thought is the preliminary form of virtually anything. Eveyrthing starts with a thought. Nisargadatta Maharaj, a spiritual leader from Mumbai says that the purest form of spirituality is without any thoughts at all. So one should strive to be free of thoughts but not be bound with this circle of thoughts.

The third question is: Is it 'okay' to lead a life, most of which is predictable? i.e., you always do what most people do. For example, you are always afraid to take risks in life because nobody you knew had tried it before, whenever a conflict arises, you take the most obvious (common) decisions that many people take to resolve them, etc.

There was actually not much time left for this question, as much time is spent in the first two questions. But we did a quick poll asking if they would prefer to lead a predictable life and almost all people answered 'no'. All of us agreed that it is good to take feedback from other people, but ultimately it is upto oneself to decide what action is good for him.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Living in the Moment

This week's study circle topcis is 'Living in the Moment' lead by Swami. It was the first study circle held at my place in my room. The study circle started with Swami asking each of us to put down the thoughts that were going in each of our minds on paper. He asked to think for 5 minutes and jot down all the thoughts that were running down in our head during that time. Given as absent-minded as I am, I could not collect my thoughts in that short time to my surprise. Usually a million thoughts run through my mind on a normal day, and I could not produce a single thought on demand. Some of the significant thoughts I could write were due to worrrying about the future (research, shopping, and some other petty things).

After this short exercise, Swami asked the following questions:

- Categorize the thoughts that you wrote into past|present|future, and see where most of your thoughts fall in.

- How do you practice to be in the present all the time, i.e., perform actions with a clear mind without any thoughts?

As I noticed I did not worry much about the past, but many of my worries were about what will happen in future. I was always anxious about the future. It may be easy to say that 'past has already happened, and future is unknown and the only thing that is in your hands is present', but practicing that would be very difficult. Observing the breath is an excellent way to live in the present moment. By observing the breath, one is conscious of the body and mind and is able to control them efficiently.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

My New Blog at MSN Spaces

I created a new blog at MSN Spaces. You can check it out at http://spaces.msn.com/members/svadrevu/. It is really cool. Posting photos is easy, you can post the whole photo album in seconds, the interface is nice, and it has lot of other nice features. From now on, whenever I blog, I will try to create entries at both BlogSpot and MSN Spaces. Time will ultimately decide the better one :)

Monday, January 31, 2005

Flying an Airplane

This came to me as a total surprise. I was in a restaurant with my good old friend and Darshan (Sai Young Adult) called and asked me if I was interested in flying an airplane as his brother Pranay, who is a pilot, was in town and they were renting a jet. I delightfully agreed.

The next day I got into the 4-passenger jet at Chandler Municipal Airport with Pranay, Darshan's Dad Manmohan Uncle, and his cousin Mini. Mini was the pilot as Pranay helped her as a copilot. We flew to Scottsdale airport where we exchanged ourselves with Swami, Vish and Sai Madhavan uncle. While Manmohan uncle, Mini and I were waiting at the Scottsdale airport, they flew for sometime and came back. Then we got into the plane and this time I was the pilot, with Pranay helping me out from the copilot's seat. That was a truly amazing experience. I made so rigorous turns and twists with the plane that Mini who was sitting at the back got sick. The controls were very sensitive and the plane was turning really fast. I had to try hard to keep the movements to the minimum, yet directing it to the destination. Pranay helped me out whenever I was going overboard and things were going out of control. Sometimes it was scary as were more than 3000 feet above the ground. I took off the plane from Scottsdale airport and safely landed back in the Chandler airport. It was a memorable experience for me. You can find the photos from the whole event here.  Posted by Hello

Monday, January 17, 2005

Protecting Religion

This week's study circle is lead by Priya with the topic 'Protecting the Religion', which turned out to be a very useful discussion about why and how religion is important and why certain rituals are followed. Some of the questions that were asked are given below. The discussion given here is by no means the summary or the consensus reached in the study circle, but merely my interpretation of the questions and what I got out of the study circle.

1. How should we protect the religion?
2. If the religion is all about moral values, why are the various rituals followed in different religions?
3. What is the reason behind one converting from one religion to another religion? Should we prevent this conversion and if so, how do we prevent it?

Many people agreed that the main way to protect the religion is by understanding and practicing it perfectly, so as to say 'lead by example'. But another question that needs to be answered here first is 'Why should we even protect the religion?'. If one understands the religion properly, it is merely a set of moral values and by not following the moral values or by misunderstanding them, the religion can lead to dangerous effects, for e.g., Bin Laden preaching that he is doing the job of God by killing fellow human beings. He may be doing the right thing in his own way, but religion never says that revenge or taking human lives is a way to set things right.

The next question was the most important and useful one as I thought. Even though the moral values are the essential goal of any religion, the rituals are like maps are guidelines to follow the spiritual path or to achieve the destination. A common layman may better be able to understand the essence of spiritual scriptures like Vedas, Bible and Koran by following simple daily practices or rituals than sadhana or self-meditation. Every ritual in each religion has a deeper meaning and good moral values associated with it, and is yet simple enough to follow by everyone.

If we put the conversions that are happening due to money, hunger, and other related matters aside, everyone agreed that the main reason for conversion from one religion is due to ignorance and lack of love. The one who is converting from one religion to another one is ignorant of his own religion and does not understand the true meanings of the rituals and practices followed and is attracted by the loving nature and the knowledgeable personalities from the other religion. The person who is influncing the other person to convert to his religion is ignorant his religion and feels that his religion is superior to the other religion and forgets the important fact from his own religion that there is only one God. Religion is merely a way to realize the true self and merge in God by following different spiritual practices.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Heyy...

Yesterday I got a call from Meseret, my recruiting manager from Microsoft that I have been offered a summer internship with MSN Search team at Microsoft. Since my dissertation research closely relates to the goals of the MSN Search group, this provides me an opportunity to see the real applications of my research and contribute it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

No More Courses!

As I was talking to Martha (Graduate student advisor at ASU), I realized that I have completed my PhD coursework (I initially thought I had to take one more). So I don't have to take any more courses, heyy.. From now hopefully I can spend more time in research. I plan to defend my proposal in the end of Spring 2005 or during the Fall 2005 semester. Lets see how that goes.

Monday, January 10, 2005

New Year Resolutions

From now onwards, I plan to blog regularly about our weekly study circles. For those of you who don’t know, I participate in (mostly) weekly study circles with other Young Adults from the Sai Group, where we discuss about various spiritual, personality related, and general topics. Last week’s study circle topic was New Year Resolutions. Darshan lead the study circle with the following questions.

  1. What is important in your life?
  2. How much time do you spend in trying to achieve these important things?
  3. What would happen if you found out that you were to die in 7 days?
  4. What would you try to do in those seven days?
  5. How much time would you allocate in the day for achieving these things?
This was a very interesting study circle because the first few questions made me think about my material, career and life oriented goals (like my PhD proposal defense, summer internship, life partner, life after my PhD, etc.) but as the study circle progressed the attention shifted entirely to the character. The things I thought of when I will die in 7 days were service and life partner (quite interesting, isn’t it) unlike many others who thought about their family. The service aspect of my answer related to the research and teaching career I want to pursue and the summer campaigns I want to hold. So in order to mould myself in order to accomplish them in the end, the change has to come in my character, in terms of being more kind to people, controlling my emotions and help whenever possible. Swami (Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba) always says ‘The End of Education is Character’ and this study circle enforced the need to develop that character.

A New Addition to My Room

This is the new picture of my room with the new baby being the world map. I was never good at geography, especially with Europe and Middle East. Hopefully this will quench my thirst. As I look at the world map, I noticed that Russia and Canada are such big chunks of land, yet we often dont hear much news from those parts of the world. Possibly the cold makes those places harder to live (remember the famous story of Napoleons attempted invasion of Moscow?). Most of the famous places in the world are concentrated on the lower part of Europe (where the countries like UK, France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, etc. are located), US, and Indian subcontinent :) I guess its high time to plan for a Euro trip. I have to see how soon that will happen.

Looking back at last week, it was a lot of fun. Research wise, we submitted a journal paper, which is gratifying. I started off my new year by a visit to the sin city. You can check out the pictures here. The others in the pictures are Ramya, Pavan, Sanjay and Pradeep. More about that trip later. Later in the week, thanks to the potluck at Anand's place, after a very long time I went to a bar (didn't drink anything though), tried to go to a dance floor and finally settled in a middle eastern restaurant called Oasis. This is an amazing place, located on the Apache road in Tempe. It features belly dancing, hookah and good food. This is a good place to hang out if you are living around Tempe area.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Cool Gadgets in 2004

As I was reading today in News about Samsung’s OLED panel TV, Motorola’s technie jacket, Sony’s portable playstation, etc.., I thought about some of the cool gadgets I owned in 2004. I am really fascinated about electronics and I always lose myself when I go to an electronics store. These are some of the electronic gadgets I purchased in 2004.

  • Well the coolest gadget I bought in this year is an Olympus C-5060 Wide Lens Camera with 5MP and 4x Optical zoom. That camera was truly amazing, it provided me an opportunity to explore about various photographic concepts and technologies. You can read a review about the camera here. I could not certainly afford this camera, but the Imagine Cup prize money came in handy when I wanted to buy this.
  • I wouldn’t say this a cool gadget, but it was certainly a very useful gadget. I purchased a Dell Inspiron 8600 Laptop with a built-in DVD Writer before I started my summer internship. It was more of a media center to me than a work machine, though I often remote desktop to my school computer and work.
  • Another cool gadget I bought towards the end of the year is a Sony Dual Alarm Clock Radio with CD Player. After the WWW paper submission in November and finals, I started sleeping for more than 10 hours a day and I thought its time to buy a good alarm clock and this one sounded pretty nice. It replaced my Sony boom box and I am quite happy with it, although I wished it had a headphone jack.
  • Some of the other gadgets I bought in this year are a Logitech Home Theatre system and a Sony Ericson cell phone which replaced my Samsung black & white phone.

All this makes me look like a material person. Well, if you live in this material world, you can't help but be a little bit materialistic. And one of my new year resolutions is to become less materialistic and reduce my expenditures.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Happy New Year 2005!

I wish you all a very Happy and Wonderful New Year 2005. I hope this year brings success, peace and happiness in your lives. I want to keep my tradition of analyzing the past year and being hopeful for the New Year and here is a brief summary of my experiences.

Good Bye to 2004:
With all of your blessings, this year has been a pleasant journey in my life, except for the year-end tsunami effects. Even though there are many important moments in this year for me, I will describe some of the key things I have gone through in this year. Firstly the HoldingHands project (which most of you know, this project has won us the third prize in Microsoft's Imagine Cup competition) helped me both personally by providing an opportunity to work with a wonderful bunch of team mates and professionally in terms of meeting several successful personalities in the industry. I finally got to taste some of the flavors of industry through my summer internship at Humana Inc. which I enjoyed very much with a wonderful team and in a beautiful city. I managed some progress in my research, as our poster got accepted at a good conference, and we submitted another paper towards the end of year. This paper ate out all my resources to the fullest extent and tested my limits. And I also had some fun in the year in terms of writing a skit (inspired by another skit we did at previous year's Sai retreat) and participating in it as part of Ugadi celebrations. I also completed the vicious circle by taking all the courses offered by my favorite professor at ASU (which are actually not required for my program of study) and managed to perform decently. Overall, the year 2004 has seen some of the best in me and hopefully helped me to make some progress in my spiritual journey.

Welcome to 2005:
Looking forward to the year 2005 and continuing my journey at ASU, I am hopeful that this year would be as good for me as the previous one. Some of the important things I will be dealing with in this year are my PhD Proposal Defense which may be either at the end of Spring semester or at the end of Fall semester, summer internship which hopefully be in one of the research institutes, and finally finding a life partner :). With the blessings from all of you, I hope to achieve a little bit of success in each of these things and discover new heights.

Love,
Sree.

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Recipe for a Happy New Year. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Anonymous

Take twelve fine, full-grown months; see that these are thoroughly free from old memories of bitterness, rancor and hate, cleanse them completely from every clinging spite; pick off all specks of pettiness and littleness; in short, see that these months are freed from all the past-have them fresh and clean as when they first came from the great storehouse of Time. Cut these months into thirty or thirty-one equal parts. Do not attempt to make up the whole batch at one time (so many persons spoil the entire lot this way) but prepare one day at a time.

Into each day put equal parts of faith, patience, courage, work (some people omit this ingredient and so spoil the flavor of the rest), hope, fidelity, liberality, kindness, rest (leaving this out is like leaving the oil out of the salad dressing- don't do it), prayer, meditation, and one well-selected resolution. Put in about one teaspoonful of good spirits, a dash of fun, a pinch of folly, a sprinkling of play, and a heaping cupful of good humor.
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Saturday, January 01, 2005

Aryan Invasion Theory

Well, I must agree that I am not a regular blogger. You can see that from the frequency of my posts. My last post was on 12th February. I have been following some blogs recently and was just curious to maintain my own as I have enough time to kill. I will try to be regular in posting my blogs from now.


Yesterday, I had a discussion about Aryan Invasion to India with my roommate. I was never a strong believer of that theory, but this discussion questioned my beliefs. For those of you, who are not familiar with this topic, it is about the history of India and Hinduism. The following links will help you understand the background.


According to this theory, the Hindu culture prevalent in India is due to the migration of Aryans from European countries,
somewhere between 1800 and 1500 BC. This theory further says that the Aryans would have brought with them their own Vedic religion, which was codified in the Vedas around 1500 to 1200 BC. However there were many disputes against this theory, especially in traditional Hindu community. To get a feel for the other side of the coin, let me point you to the sources that contradict this theory and prove why this theory is invalid. But if you observe carefully, most of the sources that contradict the Aryan Invasion theory are from Hindu societies and organizations like ISKON. So these articles may be biased.


Ultimately, I think that we are too limited with knowledge and resources in order to decide what exactly has happened in past. But whatever the history may be, the only thing we need to agree upon is that there is only one religion, the religion of mankind. All different kinds of practices in various religions are just various ways to help us follow the right spiritual path.

Let me know what your views on this topic are.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Linkage in Web documents

12/02/04, Thursday: 6.09pm

Why should we view the Web as a bunch of pages and a bunch of links among them? Is that all Web is about? If you think more about it, when you create a Web site, what you have in mind is the number of topics to cover or the important concepts, but not the number of html pages you will have and how you are going to link these pages. Then when did this concept of these Web pages and linkage structure among them come into picture?

Most of the search engines, Web services, and lot of Web applications view the World Wide Web as these bunch of these inter-linked Web pages, instead of the important concepts that represent these documents. A more proper way to think about the Web is in terms of Web directories which organizes the Web pages in terms of importnat concepts and relationships among the concepts.

One possible reason, why we do not have this perspective of concepts and relationships among them is because it is too difficult to do. When you create a Web site, you won't often have time to put it in one of the pre-defined categories (or add a new category and add your page to it), and define all the concepts that you talk about and point the corresponding content to these concepts. So the whole Web consists of these un-curated and un-documented Web pages and there is no immediate way to organize these pages in terms of concepts and relationships among them. The only information we have is the bunch of interlinked Web pages, and we just have to deal with them. If we can analyze these bunch of interlinked Web pages to organize them in terms of important concepts that they talk about with relationships among these concepts, that's great! But how can we do it?