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Seminar on Interviewing Skills for Grad Students

Last Monday I had the privilege of organizing and hosting a seminar on "Interviewing Skills for Grad Students." It was a huge success and some students were even standing. We had 5 exceptional presenters from industry and academia. Seminar covered basic interviewing skills, behavioral interviewing process, success factors in interviewing and carrier, differences in start-ups and R&D teams, interviewing process in academia for faculty/PostDoc positions, etc. Based on the follow-up server, it seems that students benefited a lot from being able to talk and share experiences of the presenters.
Students from UMASS also joined the seminar over videoconferencing. All together we had ~40 students from both campuses. The seminar was sponsored by CASA Student Leadership Council (SLC). UMASS is a main partner of the CASAproject. Generous support from all presenters, SLC leadership, and members was immensely helpful in making this event such a success.

Slowness, Unreliability, and Errors are Pervasive to Facebook

Facebook (FB) is already part of life for millions of individuals across the globe. It's already among the Internet giants like Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Amazon, & e-Bay. It has evolved as both a social interaction tool & a real-time communication tool (many Yahoo & MSN messenger users have switched to FB because of the chat feature). Unfortunately, most users will agree that FB is nowhere close the standards set by Google, YouTube, & Amazon when it comes to responsiveness, reliability, & availability. Personally, I have experienced extremely slow page loading, many error messages, not allowing me to login or post messages, and show only subset of postings by others. Hence, I don’t depend on FB to contact others & have a low appreciation as a useful service.
FB seems to be relying on extensive JavaScript & extended variants of MySQL, PHP, & Memcached. It's understandable that FB has to handle so much data, users, & their relationships. Unfortun…

Get Motivated by Tamara Lowe

After many years, I finally finished reading a nontechnical book.
Its "Get Motivated" by Tamara Lowe. Book is good & worth reading. According to her, motivation is based Drive, Needs, and Awards (what she called DNA). People have either Production or Connection drive, Stability or Variety needs, & Internal or External awards systems.
I think, I equally share all categories in DNA though the questionnaire in book categorized me into one of them. First few chapters were interesting & highly motivating but the middle was not. Nevertheless, as she said in the last chapter "Finish First, Finish Well" the book ended really well.
To be honest, I feel renewed and motivated than in the recent past.

Why model Packet Arrivals as a Poisson Process?

In queuing theory-based analysis, we always assume arrivals to be according to a Poisson process. "Why we do so, why not it's uniform or some other distribution?" This was a question raised by my supervisor & a colleague while I was preparing for my Qualifying Exam. As I was not able to answer well, my supervisor gave some hints. I was worried that the same question may come up during the exam so searched for an answer on web. Unfortunately, no specific answer was found. So I'm trying to lay down an answer by adding bits & pieces from here & there & my supervisor's answer.

It can be answered by looking at the properties of a Poisson Process. Recall that Poisson Processes are used to model statistically rare events.

A counting process {Nt, t ≥ 0} is a Poisson process if:
N0 = 0Nt has stationary independent increments Nt1 - Ns1 is independent from Nt2 - Ns2MemorylessInter arrival times are independently & identically distributed set of exponential…

Failed - But not forever...

We fail in many endeavors...
But never quit trying...
You may succeed either in the same or different area...
Even if you succeed in a different area, it because of the previous failure....
Here are some well-known failures that could inspire you...

Why Linux Sucks! - Reality behind some issues in Linux

An interesting presentation by Bryan Lunduke that talks about some of the realities behind Linux & it's future. I do agree that Linux needs a sustainable economic model. All the smart/nerdy developers can contribute while they are teens or while in college. But when you step into real life, you need some serious income. If there is a model that has some economic motives for those developers, we'll have tremendously better software & an OS while enabling those developers to do what they love to do...
Slides are available at Bryan's web page.

A United Sri Lanka...

Finally, the Sri Lankan war is over & everyone is in a single country...
I remember the impact of war as far as I remember anything in my childhood... I still remember how windows got scattered & fall down while I was in school due to the JOB bomb (1991). Finally, being able to hear that war is over is a dream come true...
Now it's our responsibility to the rebuild the country & make sure people in those areas are taken well care of.
Salute to the solders for all forms of sacrifices & president for the leadership...!

Oracle to Buy Sun....

I believed that proliferation of Linux affected Sun servers & Solaris lot more than Microsoft Windows... I guess it’s true now... according to the resent news that says “Oracle to Buy Sun
Linux enabled the opportunity for low to mid size businesses to run a stable OS on low cost hardware platforms such as x86. So most Sun users eventually migrated to Linux on HP & Dell servers. Though Sun focused more on data centers there may not be successful as IBM or SGI. Anyway, it would be much more interesting when Cisco comes to the server market very soon...
Anyway I love Solaris, C/C++ NetBeans, & JXTA though I hate Java... Hope Oracle continues to maintain those...

Colorado Science and Engineering Fair

I had the pleasure of serving as one of the special awards judge during the Colorado Science and Engineering Fair 2009, representing the IEEE Centennial Subsection. I was held at CSU on 9th April.
It was amazing to see the type of research projects those junior & senior students had undertaken. Most of the ideas were new, interesting, & had gone through rigorous research methodology. Students had put tremendous effort & spent significant amount of time on those projects. It seems their teachers & parents have given them good guidance & support. It was an honor to meet such a dedicated set of students & talk to them. I’m sure that some of them can even compete with the projects that we do as graduate students…
We should try to build the next generation of Sri Lankan students at least like this, that are more open minded, practical, & productive. Wish they have more time to do something that they like, rather than going to after school tuition classes. At least…

Windows 7

Finally, it seems that Microsoft has decided to do some changes to Vista (I guess the most commercially unsuccessful Microsoft OS release in spite of so much advertising). "Over the past few years, you've asked us to make some changes to Windows. We listened closely," by Microsoft.
Windows 7 is supposed to be faster, more reliable, & easier to do what you want. I would love to have a new OS that combine some of the few cool features in Vista & Plenty of good ones in XP. I hope that they remove the sudden black screen that appears when we try to install a new software, configure a driver or need to allow firewall access. Getting a sudden black screen is scary…. However, other than few minor improvements I didn't see any major improvements. It seems that new interface is becoming more like Mac.
Anyway, Beta version is already available for techies to try. Unfortunately, I don't have a machine with 1GB of memory to install. Please share your experience if you …