Category Archives: the way things will be

To the drivers in Delhi

Delhi-Traffic

I am going to do something laughable. I will attempt to coax the junta of Delhi to change just one of their driving habits by presenting a rational argument.

Before I lay out the rationale, here is the summary: I’d like you, the people of Delhi, to stop adding new ‘lanes’ to road at a traffic light by shoving your vehicles at the sides diagonally in an attempt to make it ahead of the car to your side.

First, let me explain a concept: The flow or traffic (or fluid for that matter) through any particular cross-section of road is the largest when unrestricted and is in a single direction. That’s how faucets work – no in a kind of reverse way ?

One of the most important principle in traffic is to avoid collisions. This is done by maintaining adequate separation from all other adjacent vehicles. Imagine a scenario on a two-lane road where no vehicle can possibly change lanes. In this scenario, the only separation a vehicle needs to worry about is front and back. Now by allowing for vehicles to change lanes, the need for maintaining sufficient sideways separation becomes important. If the vehicle in front of you in the adjacent lane wants to come in to your lane you need to either reduce your speed or (if you’re a Delhi driver) increase your speed making the other guy wait for you to pass. Either way the average speed of the two lanes reduces, adversely impacting the throughput of the road.

Extending the above scenario to a case where there are lanes on either side of you, the potential reduction in speed is even greater because you could have vehicles come in from either side. You get the drift. You could argue that vehicles can instead indicate their intention of changing of lanes beforehand. That does allow for inter-vehicle separation to be kept lower but it nevertheless does impact average speed on either lane albeit a bit lesser.

Now imagine what happens when a lot of vehicles are waiting at a red light waiting for it to turn green. The throughput of the road (number of cars that pass through in one unit of time) essentially depends on the speed of the vehicles in front. If they are slow, the entire traffic behind them is slow.

So what happens when another vehicle edges at the side of the traffic light hoping to get ahead of the one already in waiting ? It adds an additional lane to the traffic and due to a greater need for separation causes the vehicle already at the light to be even slower than what it is. This in turn reduces the throughput of the *entire* road affecting every vehicle. Perhaps two or three vehicles do gain by edging from the sides and the impact is the reduction in speed of about 50 other vehicles.

In my book, this is not cool. So I urge you to consider not creating a new lane by edging your vehicle in.  Do this for the greater good. Do it for the warm fuzzy feeling that you did not cause agony to about 50 other vehicles as well.

The downside ? That punched-in-the-stomach feeling that some other sucker still did that leaving you in the slow lane. If only I knew the way around that…

the benefits of not being employed

I particularly like the fact that I don’t need to measure the ROI of any day. Arthur C. Clarke said, ““The goal of the future is full unemployment, so we can play. That’s why we have to destroy the present politico-economic system.” Now while I don’t share his desire for destructing what is the present system, I sure do believe that the same can be achieved if your work is what feels like play. Blessed are those who achieve so. I know I’ve done it more than once!

At the end of the day, you’ve got to come to believe that your biggest asset is your time. Yes, not the money you have but what you do with your time.

PS: Looks like this just might become a series of posts. I have more!

What’s ‘your’ limit ? What’s the ‘true’ limit ?

 

Are you better than a mouse ?

070322-mouse-vision_big

Many ‘intelligent’ species can recognize patterns and can learn from them. For instance a mouse that receives an electric shock every time he sees a blue dot will quickly learn to expect a shock when the blue dot comes next. The Pavlovian dog knows to salivate on hearing the door bell, we learn to become stressed when (some of) our bosses walk in to the room and so on…

That’s all good so far.

Now focus on the image below. Take your time to absorb it.

image

 

The image above is something that is not possible in real life, and yet somebody could imagine and draw it too. [Hat tip: these guys].  It is this that separates us from every other species on this planet.

Let’s do a simple experiment: Imagine a black dog with a purple flower coming out of it’s left ear, standing on one toe wearing a pink skirt. Even though you’ve never seen this before it isn’t impossible to imagine so.

Take your dreams for instance:

One of the important functions of sleep is to commit the events of the day to our ‘permanent’ memory. During sleep, the brain will recollect events of the day, find patterns, merge them  and commit them back to a more permanent memory. Infact, recollection of memory also works so. Our brain digs into separate portions of our memory to look for patterns similar to the one we’re looking for and fetches them for us when we need it.

You can imagine … Anything. Congratulations.

This ability of ours to create visions of things that do not exist is extremely powerful. We could become attracted to a vision when we haven’t even experienced it first-hand. Earth’s largest bookstore, All the world’s information universally accessible, Ultra marathons and our audacious goals at workplace are great examples. This forms a large part of our internal dopamine supply.

I respect such dreams and I believe that we’re not just born to just do the obvious. We’re here to change the perception of obvious.

There is a dark side …

There are also times when chasing a vision can turn bad, very bad. The Apple Maps team was probably delusional about their ability to launch a decent Maps product. On the extreme, some drug addicts see things that are just out of this world and harm themselves irreparably.

So how do you balance ?

It is important hence to be aware of the fine line between vision and reality.

So when Elon Musk imagines a colony of humans on Mars, he is doing exactly the above. Whether he’d be successful or not will largely depend on his ability to be *aware* of the difference between vision and reality. People who do this well are rare.

Knowing to be aware is an extremely important thing and it requires an more than ordinary sensitivity – to people, environment and laws (scientific mostly, since human-made laws are pretty arbitrary and transient).

So my point is,

I’ve seen enough people with the vision but with no connection to reality and hence lack in their ability to execute on their vision. On the front, such folks will exhibit other leading symptoms: they aren’t open to critique and have less desire to learn every day. I wish they’d have the awareness.

Your aim must be to change the world to a better one. Not just dream it so.

 

Great companies. Honest Stories.

A lot goes into making a good service and having worked on one for quite some time, I’ve found renewed respect for companies that care about their customers with methods that go beyond the line of expected behaviour. I am going to be writing about such companies and my experiences with them every now and then.

I learnt about what Flipkart did last week and want to share that.

Continue reading Great companies. Honest Stories.

On reaching out …

I’ve always had difficulty understanding actions during war and how people deal with the consequences retrospectively. That surely doesn’t imply I am disrepectful of soldiers — it is just hard for me to put myself in their shoes.

I just listened to an interview on BBC Outlook and haven’t fully absorbed it. The full interview is at this link and in case the link does not work, try this audio file below.

BBC Outlook

This particular interview between the Pakistani fighter pilot and the daughter of one of his victims is truly extraordinary. Their voices sound settled and certainly not resentful — perhaps a gap of 40 years does that. This gesture on part of both the victim and the soldier is not as mundane as it might sound like. They are extraordinary people for having done what they did. The pilot certainly had the choice to continue his life and Farida too chose to respond back to the request to reach out.

We are the choices that we make.

An article about this is at indian express.

The London riot cleanup and what I learnt from it

Back when London was burning under the riots a lot of folks were locked up inside their houses. If it was me, I would have probably caught up on my reading or maybe just watched tv and internet coverage of the riots because moving out wasn’t safe at all.

And then in a few days we all saw that the public came together to clean up the mess. The hashtag #riotcleanup sprang to action and helped people mobilize their efforts to bring order back to the city. Continue reading The London riot cleanup and what I learnt from it

this is what yellow pages have (or will) become

Try this website: http://local.google.co.in/

When I did a search for “restaurant” in “faridabad”, I received some 1500 hits.
The server also realises that “Baroda” is “Vadodara, Gujarat” and gives me 150 places to eat in that city. Only one of them have a website yet, but then with a Google local listing, they don’t need much else for now I believe. One of them is named “Kha Pee Le” 🙂

There were no plumbers in Faridabad, but I did find some electricians though. Anything thing else that you think might make sense to search for on that website, especially when you are mobile?

get a life – part deux

“And earlier this week, adult entertainment company Playboy announced the launch of a Playboy Island in Second Life that will include a retail store, video lounge and virtual beachfront property where Second Life members can hang out.”

From this Source .

While on that topic, I thought could also mention some first life stuff. Here is a mashup of Hot Or Not with Google Maps.
http://hotmaps.frozenbear.com/

I think I have said this before: The world is changing, we are doing the same things in different ways.

Part one here