July 26, 2019
There are two types of people in this world: the bees and flies. Bees are smart, and flies are dumb.

If a bee gets trapped in a bottle, it'll fly straight up, towards light and get out. The fly flies into the side a thousand times, go round and round till it finds its way out by chance. Pretty dumb, right?


But, what happens if the bottle is flipped upside down?

The bee still flies upward, but there's no way out. The fly keeps trying by going round and round till it finds its way out through the bottom. The bee dies in the bottle.

In some situations, what we can't see is that someone's turned the bottle upside down, and that sometimes you need to think as a fly.

July 25, 2019

From what most people around me can tell, I'd always had a knack of coding. And design. Thus, I decided to try my luck getting a job as a Creative Design Lead for UI / UX development at one of the local startups around. I'd been running an architectural design firm Ansh Sharma Architects for a while now, so I wanted something that could take my mind off.

I'd heard from a good friend of mine that working at startups was super-cool and fun, and some of them even offered equity along with a stipend, which could really pay off if the startup took off. I only had a month long break at hand, so although I dropped the idea of bagging an equity, here's what I've to share:

The equity equation:

One of the earliest entrepreneurial minds at Silicon Valley, Paul Graham, laid out an equation which could help you estimate how much equity you could ask for while being hired.

1/
(1-n)

You should give up n% of your company if what you trade it for improves your average outcome enough that the (100 - n)% you have left is worth more than the whole company was before.

In the general case, if n is the fraction of the company you're giving up, the deal is a good one if it makes the company worth more than 1/(1 - n).

HRs always look for making a profit on your hire. Let's suppose you've read Graham's article and are asking for 5%. And so, if you could convince the founders that you could bring to the table what could increase the average outcome of the company by:
1/
1-0.05
≈ 1.052, which is 5.2%, you win.

We, however left out the salary that you're going to get paid, which we could think as a trade off against equity. So, let's assume the company you're interviewing at is valued at INR 2 Cr., and you're asking 600000 per year. Let the amount the company spends on you be 1.5 times your salary (which includes any overheads). That gives us salary and overheads to be 900000.

900000/
20000000
equals 4.5% and so you should just be asking for 0.5% to reach your target of 5%. As you can see the equity component you can take increases when you decrease your salary, so it is up for you to decide which one you should lean heavily on.

As for me, I went in for salary. I'll be posting an article the following week about negotiating salaries, so make sure you enter your email address to subscribe to my blog. It's free.

June 13, 2019
I’ve heard that the world is poorly designed, but copying nature helps. Fresh from the land of biomimicry, here’s to penguins.


Penguins’ have got a nifty organ that magically turns seawater drinkable. Caveats being it’s a gland not an organ, and when it doesn’t directly converts seawater to freshwater, it filters out salt from their blood.
It’s known to us as the supraorbital gland, and it’s present in almost all marine birds. You can tell if you’ve ever seen a crusty film around the nasal openings near their beaks.
They need this gland because had it been their kidneys doing all the filtering out, they could only successfully manage to pull out urine which is at 1/3 rd the concentration of sea water. And salty blood isn’t a good thing, the body starts taking water from the tissues and it rapidly spirals down to dehydration.
This gland is located between the eyes and above the nose. And it works just like the kidney does; in a process known as counter-current exchange.
For visual folks, a diagram can be found here: albatross_exchange.html 44_08CountercurrSaltExcr-L.jpg
Basically, blood and the fluid in which the salt is supposed to drain flows in opposite directions, which ensures that the blood will always remain saltier than the duct fluid and hence osmosis continues to occur.
As a simple analogy, you’ve got two trains (blood express and duct fluid express) running opposite to each other, and you’ve got salty passengers in blood express (who’re actually ninjas) and they’re gonna jump to the duct fluid express when they see an empty coach.
Since, the trains are running in opposite directions, once the salty passengers are in the duct fluid express, they’re only going to come across filled up coaches in blood express, and so there won’t be any jumping back and forth.
Owning how higher sodium intakes can lead to heart diseases, maybe one day penguins can help us unlock biotechnology of the future paving highly efficient ways of filtering seawater.

June 09, 2019
Sometimes when you're trying to copy a large file, say over 4 GB, you might get the error "File too large for destination file system" even though your storage drive might actually have more free space available. It might be possible that your storage device is formatted with FAT32 file system, because FAT32 supports individual files only upto 4 GB and total volumes upto 2 TB.

Microsoft started using NTFS filesystems as an alternative back in 2001 (good old days of Windows XP) for its internal hard drives but USB flash drives even today come formatted with a FAT32 filesystem.

Fixes:

1. (Easiest / No downloading of additional software required)

Make sure the flash drive is empty, copy the contents if need be to a local disk on your computer.

CAUTION: This will delete the data present in your removable drive. Please ensure that you copy it to a local disk in your computer.

Step 1: Right click on the USB drive > Format...


 Step 2: Choose the file system as NTFS and click on the Start button.



2. Split the file up into volumes smaller pieces, each piece should individually be under 4 GB:

This can be used for large video files, which you wouldn't really mind being split up. You'll need a archiver such as WinRAR or 7-zip. Here's how you do this using 7-zip, the steps remain more or less the same with other software.

Step 1: Right click on the file you want to copy into the flash drive > 7-Zip > Add to archive...

Step 2: There will be an option on the lines of Split to volumes, bytes:. Enter a suitable number, remember that you need to keep the individual file size under 4 GB.



May 22, 2019

The following is an excerpt from a speech by India’s Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar at an event hosted by the Federation of Gujarat Industries in Vadodara, India on 11 September, 2016.

am from the village of Parra in Goa, hence we are called Parrikars. My village is famous for its watermelons. When I was a child, the farmers would organise a watermelon-eating contest at the end of the harvest season in May. All the kids would be invited to eat as many watermelons as they wanted.

Years later, I went to IIT Mumbai to study engineering. I went back to my village after 6.5 years. I went to the market looking for watermelons. They were all gone. The ones that were there were so small. I went to see the farmer who hosted the watermelon-eating contest. His son had taken over. He would host the contest but there was a difference.

When the older farmer gave us watermelons to eat he would ask us to spit out the seeds into a bowl. We were told not to bite into the seeds. He was collecting the seeds for his next crop. We were unpaid child labourers, actually. He kept his best watermelons for the contest and he got the best seeds which would yield even bigger watermelons the next year.

His son, when he took over, realised that the larger watermelons would fetch more money in the market so he sold the larger ones and kept the smaller ones for the contest. The next year, the watermelons were smaller, the year later even small. In watermelons the generation is one year. In seven years, Parra’s best watermelons were finished. In humans, generations change after 25 years. It will take us 200 years to figure what we were doing wrong while educating our children.

Transcription by Eisha Sarkar. Emphasis mine. Also published on scaeceditorial.

January 06, 2019

Mark had just gotten into MIT in Cambridge and he began mining cryptocurrencies more or less by accident. In November 2016, Mark stumbled upon NiceHash, which is an online marketplace where you can mine Cryptocurrencies for willing buyers. He started small, with a desktop computer topped up with a graphics card.

Within a few weeks, he had recovered the Rs. 8000 ($120) cost of his card, and earned yet another Rs. 13,500 ($200) which he used for buying another one.

e went up to his professor and asked for his old desktop systems which he had lying dormant. Because when equipped with a graphics card, those 'garbage' PCs worked just fine for mining. Mark switched from NiceHash to mining ether, which was then the most popular Bitcoin alternative.

Every time he mined enough ether to cover the cost, he bought a new graphics card and traded the leftover currency into Bitcoin for safekeeping. By 2017, he was running 7 computers and mining ether round the clock from his dorm room.

By September, his profits totaled 1 Bitcoin, which was $4,500 (approx. 3 lakhs) at that time. And just about four months later, when Bitcoin blew up and he'd diversified his portfolio, he had amassed well over 13 lakhs ($20,000) in digital cash.






What helped him?

In typical mining scenarios, electricity costs take up the highest fraction of operational costs. Mark benefitted because he operated his rig at his dorm, and MIT doesn't charge hostellers for electricity bills. The electricity and internet are part of the tuition.

What is mining?

Paper currencies are issued by the bank and thus they come to us printed as a physical entity, which we call banknotes. Cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin, on the other hand, does not come in a physical form. This creates a major risk from hackers, who can thus create Bitcoins from theoretically nothing.

Bitcoin mining is a way to keep transactions secure. Imagine a public ledger which has records of every transaction made through Bitcoin. This is what is called as Blockchain. In this ledger, you can't remove entries, and so to make a change you'll have to add another entry.

To keep Blockchain secure, it's distributed and hosted by various computers all over the world, and those computers are known as miners.

Sources:

The Rule Breakers Guide to Cryptocurrencies: What Is Blockchain? — The Motley Fool 

January 03, 2019

uestions, asking them and lots of them. When we visited Varanasi as a part of our study tour, we're encouraged to ask locals questions and conduct interviews. I'm glad I could muster up the courage to take one such interview. And I'm glad I did. Here's the interview, redacted to prevent privacy of those concerned.


How did you actually make plans to come to Varanasi? Is it the place itself, or is it the kind of work that you do?
A: It’s actually related to my research because I’m working on temple architecture. So, for my Ph.D., I looked at the temples in Delhi, and then I got a chance to come to Varanasi by finding a residency so now I’m looking at the temples in Varanasi.

That’s so nice. So since you’ve lived a Delhi for quite a long time, could you tell us how do you find the culture of Delhi different from the culture of Varanasi?
A: Oh, it’s very different! Delhi is a metropolitan city. There are lots of people coming from different places, lots of facilities are available and the city itself is much bigger than Varanasi. The way people move and live in Delhi is very different than they do in Varanasi. In Delhi, people are very busy and concerned about their own work.

There aren't many rituals happening. I mean, there are rituals happening but they aren’t deeply rooted in the city unlike they are here, in Varanasi, I won’t talk about the very old Islamic parts of Delhi, they’re different. In Varanasi, people in a family have been staying together for generations, so there are things like food, power, culture, and music which have very old cultural roots in the city.




As an architectural enthusiast, can you throw some light on the underlying layers of fabric that intricately yet beautifully weave the city of Varanasi?
A: Although I’m not really sure about what is it that you’re referring to, but yes, this is also a difference between the city of Varanasi and Delhi. In Delhi, especially the southern parts of Delhi have very wide and paved roads. So the urban fabric is very different from the fabric that you have in Varanasi. Most of the city, at least the old parts of the city is small galis, so you can’t actually move through the cities with cars, you’ve to walk through the galis.

The first time you change cities of residence, you find yourself in a cultural shock, which can be either due to a difference in your expectations of the place and reality or in the lifestyle being different from your former place of residence. What were those shocks, and how did you manage to cope with them?
A: At first there was a huge difference, coming from a very small village in Germany, which had 500 people living in the village, so the difference was not only, like a change of country, or a change of setting, but generally, coming from a village and moving to a city where there are millions of people was a big change.  In Delhi, everything is within a walking distance.  In terms of living, I used to live in a hostel, which means the facilities I had were very basic, I didn’t have my own kitchen and I had to share my bathroom with 30 to 50 other girls. I wanted to do my Ph.D. so I couldn’t complain!

Coming and staying in Varanasi, of course, is very different because here I have two rooms, my own bathroom, there’s a kitchen where the cook prepares food every day, I’m not used to that kind of luxury, even in  Germany I don’t get to stay that comfortably.

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