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.