Friday, May 19, 2017

Everything I ever needed to know, I learned in Kindergarten . . . .

No, not me saying but my daughter’s class sang in their end of year graduation party. Yes it was a sweet and sour moment, sweet for the 22 kids spent almost 10 months of their lives, 5 days a week and 7 hours of their day together as part of a class with the very wonderful Ms. Andrea Bredl (Ms. Bredl for short) and they are ready to move on to next level. 

I am amazed at the transformation Avni has gone through the school year, besides academics (reading, writing and math), she made lots of new friends, performed science experiments, attended field trips and plays, performed in a play, played in Kinder Rodeo and so much more. Oh did I tell you, she pulled off a very successful surprise mothers day party in 2017? and more importantly it was meticulously planned over a 3 week period.

I am thankful to Ms. Bredl for making my daughter a science enthusiast and more importantly a gardener. Evidence, here is the crystal she grew using borax powder and the lima bean plant she grew from seed at school and now thriving in our backyard.

Congratulations Avni on your graduation.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Kejriwal and EVM tampering

For the elections in UP among other states, AAP claims the polls were rigged with the EVM (electronic voting machines) and they even had one of their nerdy MLA to build up a mock EVM and demonstrate in the Delhi assembly as to how it can be hacked. I was very keen to understand the modus operandi and did watch the video on NDTV. For starters media got it wrong, he never said swap the motherboard. His contention is “there is a code that can be programmed to any EVM that will make sure all votes balloted will be counted in favor of one party only and no others”, he further goes to say “depending on where in the ballot list the party to be favored is listed the code will be different” and to quote his own words “tampering happens on election day after 10:00am and code will be entered by one of the party workers and not 2 days before when the EVM’s are mock tested in front of all contesting parties” .

I appreciate the MLA taking his time to build a mock EVM (sad, he didn’t get a loaner from election commission) and his effort and eloquence with which he explained the whole process. I am sure this is just a hoax and here is my data to prove it.

Assuming all above said is true, let’s take UP elections there were 403 seats and close to 2095 candidates from 20 odd parties contesting. For the whole of UP, there were 306 polling HQ’s and each had an average 400 or so polling booths and if I assume 5 EVM per polling booth it would be a total of 612,000 EVM to be tampered with.

So, I would need at a minimum 500000 (assuming some will vote multiple times) men/women (registered to vote) who are extremely disciplined, trusted and can be handed the code to enter to each EVM to be tampered. Again from the MLA’s own words the code is different depending on the serial order of your party on the ballot box and hence I cannot blanket distribute a code for all of them. So, we would need a minimum of 100-200 different numbers to be circulated among these folks.

For sake of argument, any party needs to win half the seats to be in majority. That could cut down the requirement to 310,000 add to that the collusion with the election officers in each polling booths and the hierarchy needed to maintain this many people in line and to expect not a single one of them come out to the media or threaten to come out on media. 

Are we kidding ourselves, even the Indian army cannot handle this kind of massive effort stealthily. One can argue the election happened in phases even then the number of people required to pull off a scam like this is truly mind boggling, I don’t understand why no one in the media is raising this question? 

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Parking and parking

The Indian store on William C near Walgreens in setup in a real tight and heavy traffic area. Good for them for they seem to be getting great business and at the same time bad for us for the parking limited and those available are meant for extreme compacts let alone minivans. But that tight parking doesn't seem to bother lot of us for more than once I have witnessed a minivan trying to fit into a compact space, one time some guy parked his Odyssey so close to my sedan that there was literally 4 inches between the cars.

Yesterday was the peak when a lady squeezed her minivan between 2 cars hoping to avoid hitting one car but in the process got herself jammed with the car on the other side. She got so badly stuck that there was no way for her to getout without causing considerable damage to either her car or the other parked car.

I think the problem is 2 fold, one is our in built greed to park right in front of the store and walk the minimal distance to get in and out of the store. Second is the banning of one time use carry bags by the City of Austin. More than likely people forget their multi use carry-bags (like I do 100% of time) and our local Indian stores unlike HEB doesn't sell either.

So, solution to the cars getting damaged is for the Indian stores to start selling multi use carry bags :).

Monday, March 27, 2017

He came and we meditated

I remember during the last days of my tenure as Secretary for the Austin Steering Committee, we all were furiously working on a proposal to bring Sri Sri to town. At that time when we thought we almost had him coming, it got cancelled and then it changed again.  In short it was very chaotic at the micro level but with all these chaos came the much needed visit of Sri Sri to Austin (almost a decade later).

Yes he did make it to Austin this time, he addressed a gathering ~1000 people; with his usual innocence and charm he won over many more hearts than we ever imagined. There was chaos at the registration desk, there were concerns of “we need to usher in 1000 people in 25 minutes and make them comfortable”, there weren’t enough water mugs for the guests and all such small things. But there was one faith in me that kept saying, “this event is for Sri Sri, an enlightened soul, people will come, they will have a good time and this event will be long remembered” and I can have my registration lead to vouch for it, everything from the registration and ushering went as smoothly as it possibly can. All were seated, comfortable and ready to listen. The live music by Austin’s own Vishaal Sapuram was divine and while the MC’s were doing their best to keep the people entertained and engaged, the sun shone through when Sri Sri walked on to the stage. 

The meditation, the talk and the Q and A was addressed to an audience of close to ~1000 people yet the message felt as personal as though I am having an 1-on-1 conversation with him. He truly has the skill to bring spirituality down to a common man and make us feel we all are one with the bigger self. The lightening moment for me was when he said “make me a promise to look at everything from a bigger picture view”, at that moment I dropped all the complaints I had about the chaos, confusion, need-to-know information sharing and all negativity in general. It didn’t matter at all, it was all good and always good. The other best one was answer to an audience question “what is the sign of maturity to you?”, he said when all questions disappear that is sign of maturity.   

The best part for us was when his flight developed mechanical issues and he had to stay an extra night in Austin. I did get to witness him in a very personal setting and in an even more personal space when I was awarded the opportunity to drive with him to his hotel room. Since I am in the mood, one major take away from the intimate car ride were his words “you can’t put your hand in the fire and expect it not to burn you for you are a good person”, I will leave it to your interpretation.  

Thursday, February 23, 2017

What is Focus

Focus, is to have your very good friend working out with you in the early morning hours and she repeatedly tries to greet you (3 times specifically) and you don't even notice that, let alone acknowledge her, for the only thing going on in your mind is, "will my left knee hold up till the end of the workout, was all that rolling worth it?". 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

How easy is it to get hacked?

The below incident happened to me and is true

Other day I was getting back to my office from lunch break and my phone rang, the number that popped up was a 1-800 number. I usually ignore these kinds of calls, but to my bad luck I answered. The caller on other side had a very very thick accent and said he was calling me from AT&T and they are conducting a survey for customer satisfaction and so on, he also mentioned that there is a bill credit of $x per line for taking the survey. Considering I have been with AT&T for more than a decade and have been happy with their service, I was more than happy to answer a couple of questions. Towards the end of the “survey”, he mentioned I would be receiving a message with a number and I should repeat the same back to him to process my credit. I did receive the number and faithfully repeated the same to him. He said thanks and good bye and I did the same.

Once I came to office, I saw a series of emails that my account has been locked and need to be reactivated before I can use my phone. The idiotic me thought this was a hoax and when tried to call my wife it went to “AT&T Fraud Department”,  I cut the line and re tried with the same result. At this point I didn’t have a choice but to talk to the AT&T fraud department who explained to me the following
  • Some one was trying to hack into my account and buy a phone on my account
  • There is a pin number that is established between me and AT&T which should never be given to anyone at anytime
  • There are apps out there that can make a phone call to have come from any number of your choice
  • AT&T never calls people for a survey
  • I have to go to the AT&T store with 2 forms of ID (DL and credit card would do) to get my account re-activated. Which I faithfully did and got my account back.
In retrospect, there were lot of red flags that should have triggered my defense mechanisms. For starters, the call came to me, I didn’t make the call; the guy on the other side had an extremely thick accent (even for outsourcing, it was bad), the bill credit of $x/line is ridiculous considering I have had to fight tooth and nail to get even $4.99 back from them. 

Of course all of these are hindsight, which in most cases is better than 20/20.    

Friday, February 17, 2017

More than one way to show and tell

A very good friend of mine recently pointed to me that our pet Daisy is getting featured on my blogs more than Avni. Not that anything is wrong with it but it means my focus is probably becoming lopsided. So, here goes one for Avni without Daisy.

As part of her kindergarten vocabulary builder and associated show and tell we had Avni do the word “Satellite”. Explaining the concept to Avni and her ability to reproduce were both easily achieved. Now came the challenge of the show and tell. We figured since moon is a natural satellite of earth, we can do moon as the show and tell. But the question still remained how would we show the satellite aspect of moon or in other words it wouldn’t make sense to just show picture or toy for moon without showing that moon goes around earth and that’s why it is a satellite.

Avni had a clear idea in her mind, she said she would make a moon and earth and hold them in each hand and rotate moon around earth. I wasn’t convinced with the idea and asked Dr. Google for help which came up with some sort of kit to show this. Needless to say, Avni wasn’t convinced with Dr. Google’s idea either. So, we decided to implement on our own.

After almost half hour later we had the following, 

Even though the pirated version was more representative, we let her take her own creation for show and tell.