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Vikas Kamat
 Vikas Kamat is a programmer- entrepreneur living in Birmingham AL. This blog is a complex mix of Indian culture, life in southern USA, computer sciences, and sports. Opinions are his own.
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M. R. Pai is No More Durable Link to this BLOG
M. R. Pai is No More

Mr. M.R. Pai, the Champion of Consumer Movement and Forum of Free Enterprise in India, passed away today.

Consumer rights is not a very developed concept in India, and Pai was a pioneer. Shown below is a photograph that my father took of him during their brief meeting in 2001. (Mr. Pai had written to us that it is one of his best portraits.)

© K. L. Kamat
M.R. Pai
Portrait of M. R. Pai


• MidDay: M.R. Pai dies at 72

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Friday, July 4, 2003
Last Modified: 7/4/2003
Tags: obituary


Wimbledon 2003 Durable Link to this BLOG
Wimbledon 2003

Some notes from this year's Wimbledon championships:

  • Roger Got Game -- Artistry is back in men's tennis in a big way. Forget the Hispanic (Lantin Americans and the Spaniards) workhorses, Roger Federer exhibited classic stroke play in winning the Wimbledon. He has elements of both Andre Agassi and  Pete Sampras in his game.
  • The huge entertainment the men's semifinals and finals provided sharply contrast to the most predictable matches in the women's side, and the old discussion of same title, same money has re-emerged.
  • NBC Invents Time Machine -- How else can they show so many matches livein different time-zones at noon at every time-zone? I hate NBC.
  • Martina, My Main Woman -- Coupled with Leander Paes, Martina Narvatilova wins the Mixed-Doubles title. When the younger Martina (Hingis) is considering retirement at the age of twenty, this one at forty-six, won two Grand slams this year (She also won Australian Open).
  • Racist, and Sleeps-with-the-Racist Defeated -- If you are a tennis fan, you know what I am talking about. I can't stand 'em. After the French Open incident, I can't stand Justine Henin-Hardenne either. I was glad to see Serena crush her. (only constructive criticism please)

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Monday, July 7, 2003
Last Modified: 7/7/2003


Tribute to M.R. Pai Durable Link to this BLOG
Portrait of M. R. Pai
Tribute to M.R. Pai
(via email from my uncle Prakash Burde)

Mangalore Ranga Pai, popularly known as M.R Pai, passed away on July 3, 2003. He was 72. A consumer activist to the core, M.R Pai brought consumer consciousness to India and till he breathed his last, he remained as one fighting for consumers’ rights and privileges.

In the early 50’s, M.R. Pai came to Bombay from Mangalore (Karnataka) in search of a livelihood, armed with a masters’ degree in Political Science. With an M.S degree in journalism from Los Angeles, he returned to India and joined as a Sub Editor of The Times of India for a short time. Consumer exploitation was rampant then and M.R. Pai, restless as he was, fought battles one after the other and was known as the consumers’ champion.

Way back in the 1970’s, he was featured as the man of the year on the cover of the Indian edition of the Reader’s Digest. M.R Pai was responsible for forming the Forum of Free Enterprise. He was also behind the famous post-budget speeches by Nani Palkhivala from 1957 to 1994.

A prolific writer in English, his book “The Legend of Nani Palkhivala” was a best seller, and the royalties he earned went to various charities.  

He was suffering from cancer since May 2002, and though he won many consumer wars, he lost his own battle with cancer in July 2003. In his son Shyam Sunder’s words, "My father never fell ill and never spent on medicine, but now is paying back with interest!"

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Tuesday, July 8, 2003
Last Modified: 7/8/2003


Surfing the Web, Building the Web.. Durable Link to this BLOG
Web Surfing and Web Building Notes

Google knows where the weapons are!

The "I'm Lucky Result" on Google for "Weapons of Mass Destruction" is a hilarious parody (Hint: you must read the error message)

"Bottom of the Page" Technology

I have this "Bottom of the Page" idea where at the bottom of every page on Kamat's Potpourri, I want to place a non-intrusive box of related pages, pictures, and merchandise benefiting from Google's AdSense API and Amazon's WebSerives API.

Except the "Bottom of the Page" has been already trademarked. So I am going to call it something else... Perhaps Kamat Medley ? Perhaps Kamat eXtra ?

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Wednesday, July 9, 2003
Last Modified: 7/11/2003


Institution of Weekly Rice Durable Link to this BLOG
The Institution of Weekly Rice

© K. L. Kamat
Brahmin boy eating rice on a banana leaf

I had heard about the system of  Väränna (translated as "Weekly Rice") system of education in India, but I didn't know the details till now. 

Basically the system works as follows. Poor brahmin boys used  to go out of town for primary education and would typically stay at premises of a temple or a choultry. But they would have no food to eat. To spare the student the trouble and humiliation of begging everyday (which was also prevalent, but mostly applied to brahmin boys who were initiated into monkhood via munji and studied equivalent of today's high-school), compassionate families volunteered to feed the student one day of the week.  So, once the student located seven sponsors, he could focus on learning. Dividing the responsibility among seven families reduced the burden on them as well, since you had to play sponsor only one day of the week, yet the the family was entitled to the respect and reward of being charitable.

Apparently, in some parts of southern India -- as late as 1940s, and 1950s  this was a very common way to fund education for many poor families.

See Also:
• Brahmanical Education in Andhra Pradesh in 1900
• The Institutions of Agrahara, Mutha, and Aigala Mutha

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Thursday, July 10, 2003
Last Modified: 7/10/2003


How to implement More-Like-This Durable Link to this BLOG
"More Like This" Technology
(and some wisdom on implementing "Bottom of the Page™")

MLT (More-Like-This) features are not so easy to implement if they are conceived as afterthought to creation of content. In our content management system (CMS), we use keywords to associate and group related content and pictures. But there is much more to MLT than simple keyword based associations.

This week, Hiryoung and I have started a new initiative that we call eXtra. The project is to develop associative technology and tools that will suggest products and links based not on human intelligence, but based in acquired heuristics. 

Some of the parameters to consider:

  • Aliases -- The software must learn Ganapati and Vinayaka are same.
  • Page Rank™ing -- the more the page is linked, it is more relevant, the more a page or product is referenced, it is more relevant
  • Physical proximity  -- this is a very important parameter, building on human intelligence. We can safely say all the files in a folder (or products on one shelf at a store) are related to each other in some way.

As always, the commercial interests would collide with the academic interests of this effort. So we'd have to consider ranking a sponsor higher than the computed value of his link.

On some pages at Kamat's Potpourri (example), if you scroll down (hence the name Bottom of the Page), you will see a prototype of this experiment. I am surprised at the relevancy already!

See Also:
• The Content Heuristics

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Friday, July 11, 2003
Last Modified: 7/15/2003


Old and New, Machines and Jobs Durable Link to this BLOG
Old and New, Machines and Jobs

Amma reminisces the good old tanga transport prevalent in Dharwad and old Mysore. 

I am an engineer by education, and a make a living in the technology. But I am a human first, and have thought for many years about how mechanization causes job-loss, and whether or not it is a desired trait for the society. I can argue on either sides, but with the broader perspective of mankind (and also animal-kind and plant-kind), I tend to side with forces that preserve the natural (or God-given) abilities.

Meanwhile, BBC reports how technology is costing art jobs as well in India.

For those interested in the history of machines, jobs, and their impact on social life, I recommend my father's last book The Return Journey (Marupayana in Kannada).

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Thursday, July 17, 2003
Last Modified: 7/17/2003


Indian Blog Recommendations Durable Link to this BLOG
Indian Blogs

I am providing below a round-up of Indian blogs. A weekly update of such compilations (known as Bharatiya Blog Mela) makes circles on different Indian blogs. A searchable list of Indian Blogs can be found at Blog Portal.

In "Daddy, why did we attack Iraq?" Srijith provides a bird's eye-view of the Bush's foreign policy.

Mahesh Shantaram of Filter-Coffee has fallen off of the web. I told you blogging was a fad...

Arun Bhat has been musing in the Indian NorthEast, in the spectacular views. Wow.

A lot up updates at Amma's Columun -- from philosophy of Purusha-sukta to the relevance of Pipal Tree...

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Friday, July 18, 2003
Last Modified: 7/18/2003


Transliteration Search Durable Link to this BLOG
Transliteration Search

Blogs or other contents published in Indian languages are not searchable, due to the nature of their creation (you type something in English , and it becomes something else, after a process). This is the reason why transliterated content is not accessible via search engines of today.

I am using a trick to search our non-English language content. Whenever I create Indian language content, I save the source as a comment in the same document (or blog entry). Then the search engine can find it if I specify the transliterated query.

Here is a protype that can search my Kannada Blog.

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Monday, July 21, 2003
Last Modified: 7/22/2003


Remembering the Korean War Durable Link to this BLOG
Remembering the Korean War

BBC has a concise history of the Korean War.

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Wednesday, July 23, 2003
Last Modified: 7/23/2003


Knowledge Logs Durable Link to this BLOG
Knowledge Logs (a.ka. K-Logs)

John Robb has been spotted here since he left UserLand. John  is a champion of K-Logs, and he has elaborated some of his ideas on a recent post.

As a computer scientist, I take exception to the use of text documents (or blog posts) to be referred to as knowledge. Knowledge essentially has to have intelligence, like rules, decision making or learning ability -- hence a database can never be a knowledgebase.

Trackbacks/Backflips: 1 , 2

Having pinpointed my pet peeve, I have some notes from customer sites that are actually using my SimplyBlog software for capture of human knowledge.

  • A K-Log system must have categorization -- this can be human specified (like in Movable-Type), or automated via a content classification engine (CCE)
  • Full-text search is also essential to dissimilate the knowledge.
  • Chronological organization of posts is quite useless in a K-Log. Rather, organization by importance (most important), relevancy (post popular), author, and whether peer-reviewed or not, are more important.
  • At all the installations, the customers asked a search by Last-Updated feature. This tells many things (more below)
  • Knowledge is not equal -- some posts must be available only to some eyes.
  • As absurd as it might sound, nicely printing the blog post is very important. I have seen executives go to meetings with thick stack of blog printouts!

More on "Last Updated"

A recent experiment called "Winer Watcher" by Mark Pilgrim that reported changes made to a blog post was very popular (it has been since withdran, hence no link), so I am thinking there might be a lot of interest in micro-following the emergence of a blog-post (or a company policy, or a business decision). Definitely something for the designers to consider...

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Thursday, July 24, 2003
Last Modified: 7/28/2003


Meaning of Self-sufficiency Durable Link to this BLOG
Meaning of Self-sufficiency

Today we live in the period of rapid globalization.

We are also living in the period of immature, and idiot analysts telling us why self-sufficiency is bad (link to John Downen's opinion that self-sufficiency leads to poverty).

I call them idiots because they have not understood the fundamentals of self-sufficiency.

Self-sufficiency means that you look inside, not outside for survival and growth. It is a profound concept and has deep roots in philosophy (as in strength of character), religion (carrying one's own burden), and economy (a self-sufficient body is a strong body). It is a time-tested formula, that is as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago. 

The idiots are saying "We can't grow our own food anymore, so self-sufficiency is bad. We can't make our own cloth, so Gandhi was a fool." 

Self-sufficiency means only that you will not consume more than what you can produce, or will not spend more than what you can earn. It just means that you will stand on your own feet. It has nothing to do with exchange of services, in fact, exchange of products and services at a fair value is an essential characteristic of a self-sufficient economy.

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Monday, July 28, 2003
Last Modified: 7/28/2003


Links for the Day Durable Link to this BLOG
Misc. Links

He might be illiterate and poor, but righteous and inspiring. Mohammed Habib (link to BBC story of an unpaid social professional), is my main man.

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Tuesday, July 29, 2003
Last Modified: 7/29/2003


Software Generated Blog Post Durable Link to this BLOG
I am on vacation on the sugary beaches of Florida. This blog post brought to you via blog scheduling (a pre-posted entry).

Please enjoy these archives by date, or please see AutoBlog, or see Recycled Blogs.

 July 2003

One Year Ago:
 July 2002

Two Years Ago:
 July 2001

BTW, do not try these tricks (content scheduling, inserting of multiple calendars within a blog post, or merging of blogs) with your blog software. ;-- )

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Thursday, July 31, 2003
Last Modified: 8/1/2003

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See details of implementation or download SimplyBlog.



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