Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

What is Keynesian economy?

2017/08/03
Keynesian economy is about the relationship among following 3 parameters
  • Unemployment
  • Growth (economic)
  • Inflation
It argues that you can control 2 parameters which would influence the 3rd parameter.
During  a good economic growth [case 1]
growth is high, causing unemployment is low,  which in turn causes inflation to become high
During an economic downturn [case 2]
growth is low, causing unemployment is high, which in turn causes inflation to become low (or could cause deflation)
In ideal scenario, growth should be high, unemployment should be low and inflation should be low too.
Keynesianism states that Central Bank should do the opposite of what public is doing.
Thus, in case 1 above, government should save money and try to control inflation (because if more money is flowing to economy, the inflation would rise).
Hence, in case 2 above, government should spend money by investing in infrastructure etc. which would drive economical growth leading to low unemployment
Keynesianism always gives priority to low unemployment over low inflation. Thus, it makes poor less poor and rich less rich (a reason why riches often dislike Keynesian economy).
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Difference between Indian and Western music notation

2017/07/10

New musicians, especially who studied Indian swaralipi first and trying to study Western staff notation (and vice versa), often get very confused about how to align Indian swaralipi with western staff notation.

The key thing to understand here that in Western Music notation, each symbol represents an absolute note. For example, in a staff notation you always see whether it is C4 or C5.

However, in Indian swaralipi (= sa re ga ma pa dha ni) is made of relative notes!

The Sa can be C, D, E, F, G, A, B anything! In fact it can be C# or Ab too.

When you play a western staff music notation, you are expected to play exactly as it is written. That means, staff notation shows whether you will have to play C4 or G#3 etc.

However, when you play a Indian swaralipi, since only relative notes are shown, it is up to the player to choose which scale s/he wants to play in!

For example, here is Indian swarlipi notation for national anthem Jana Gana Mana (first line)

Sa Re Ga Ga | Ga – Ga Ga | Re Ga Ma – |

Now it is the player’s discretion whether s/he wants to start Sa in C or D or E or whatever.

Suppose, you have staff notation for this tune in C major. If you follow that notation, you have to play in C major. However, one can still play it in other scale like D major, F major etc. – by transposing it to a target scale (software like MuseScore can do it by flick of a menu).

In a way, the Indian notation is easier since it is entirely relative and you are free to play at any scale of your choice. Western staff notation is more rigid in this aspect (though you can re-write it by transposing – as mentioned earlier). However, staff notation is very rich and can convey timings, rhythm, chords etc. in much more details compared to swaralipi.

Any Indian tune or swaralipi can be always converted (manually) to staff notation. The reverse is also true, though you are likely to loose some complex information as there is no swaralipi equivalent of some concepts of staff notation.

There is a dearth of good quality written Indian tunes (compared to western music whether you can get notation of almost any popular tune). This is because Indian musicians predominantly play by ear where as western counterparts play by ear and/or sight as well.

If you are an Indian musician but unable to read staff notation, I strongly recommend that you learn it. It is not only versatile (in spite of steep initial learning curve) but universal too. People from anywhere can exchange music using this format.

Free software like MuseScore, make it very easy to compose music using staff notation.

PS: full scale example

Indian swaralipi and Equivalent Western notes (in C major)

Sa – C (C4 if mapping it with piano’s middle C key)
komal re – C# or Db
Re – D
komal ga – D# or Eb
Ga – E
Ma – F
kori ma – F# or Gb
Pa – G
komal dha – G# or Ab
Dha – A
komal ni – A# or Bb
Ni – B
Sa (next octave) – C

Indian swaralipi and Equivalent Western note (in D major)

Sa – D
komal re – D# or Eb
Re – E
komal ga – F
Ga – F#
Ma – G
kori ma – G# or Ab
Pa – A
komal dha – A# or Bb
Dha – B
komal ni – C
Ni – C# or Db

 

What constitues of Social Status?

2015/09/05

Social status is usually determined by many factors some of which are explicit e.g. perception about wealth, power while some others are implicit e.g. social mobility/background, education etc.

If everyone knew each other’s income/wealth, then it would have been very easy to determine everyone’s status because monetary wealth is still probably the most significant factor determining the social status.

However, as people often don’t know other people’s income, they often try to judge the number indirectly via other cues demonstrated by concerned persons.

We should note that social status is often subjective. It can differ widely accross countries, culture etc. Some yardsticks of measuring of social status can be highly controversial and illogical (e.g. status based on caste system etc.)

So what are the attributes that shape someone’s social status?

Property

This is one of the most important aspect of determination of status. More properties (or land) you own, more status you command (this can be somewhat diluted if property is your primary source of income). People try to guess (in some countries like UK property purchase price is in public domain) the price of property(s) you own and place you accordingly in social ladder.

Occupation

Some occupations automatically place people in the higher up because of the known average income level people earn in those professions. Thus, doctors, lawyers, accountants, property developers, managers, Management Consultants, CxOs etc. Blue collar jobs are often associated with low social status. Fore retired people, it the last occupation/role/grade they retired from.

Power and family background

This can manifest in several forms. It can be political power or be closely associated with someone in family/relative with such power. Can also be influencing power or popularity like well known actor, singer, social worker, author etc. This is also somewhat linked with Social Mobility. If someone starts life as poor but then becomes rich is usually considered of less status than someone coming from a rich family and maintain that heritage (even though the former should be given more credit). Power can also be popularity of someone within known friend circle. However, someone can be “likeable” but not necessarily considered “loaded / wealthy”.

Holiday

This is good indication of wealth and thus social status. The perceived cost of holidays is considered an indication of wealth. In India, having foreign holidays is considered much higher social status than in country vacations. This is somewhat true in developed countries as well (as mentioned in many UK newspaper articles)

Domestic Help

In Western countries, only the rich people can afford domestic help. If you are able to keep cook, nanny, cleaner on a regular basis in your house, that shows you are wealthy. In India, having couple of domestic maids do not signify any status however, if you have several servants, then it does indicate status symbol.

Appearance and attitude

Appropriate clothing can uplift one’s social ranking (even for a short time). Your apperarence and what you wear is what other people always see. A well groomed appearance with calm, composed mannerism indicates higher ranking (provided not everyone in the room are of same type – if so, then people try to downshift others’ if their appearance is below par). It should be noted that in some events (e.g. marriage ceremony) everyone is well dressed. During that event, it is difficult to judge anyone’s status. However, it is the repeated apperance in which indirectly create a perception of one’s status in known circle. The way someone communicates and convinces opinions as facts can also influence others’ perception and thus can uplift. E.g. speaking slowly in UK uplift one’s status (while it downshifts in India as people assume speaking slowly means one is not having grasp of the subject). Public figures (e.g. ministers, flim stars etc.) are very careful never to show their unkempt appearance in public.

Material possessions

These are often manifests by ownership of branded goods. Wearing jewelleries, branded clothes etc. indicate that someone is able to spend lavishly. However, this is somewhat weak indicator of status as in Western society, one can be cash poor yet buy expensive cars, phones, gadgets under “hire purchase” scheme.

Other factors which does contribue to social status (but not limited to)

  • Sending kids to private education
  • Expensive hobbies e.g. flying planes, keeping dogs
  • Expensive presentations in social events

Factors which do not usually uplift social ranking even though they have contributed

  • Having more free time (indicates more freedom)
  • DIY (Indians consider it deregatory as if you are trying to save money forgetting it can be someone’s hobby)
  • Academic qualifications (unless it manifests as more earning power in real world)
  • Prudent investment/ cash in the bank (because no one sees what wealth you have)

I understand this article can be subjective and not everyone will argue with everything mentioned.

Why oil price is falling?

2014/12/23

First of all, oil price did not fall suddenly. It is falling since last few months. Only recently it has become big news because compared against last few months, it has now fallen too much.

So how much it fell?

Compared to last year this time, crude oil price fell by ~50%. Current oil price is ~ $50 per barrel.

So what caused this fall in price?

Any price fall can be explained using simple economic theory of supply and demand.

However, the tricky question is what caused imbalance to supply demand theory.

In past few months, supply has gone up but demand has fallen.

Why demand has fallen?

  • Development of more fuel efficient machines, cars etc.
  • More usage of alternate energy sources like wind power, electricity (well it requires fuel to some extent but nevertheless)
  • Reduced economic activities in many countries around the world

Why supply has gone up?

  • USA is producing more oil especially via shale gas. This has caused reduced demand (from other countries exporting oil) from USA.
  • Fracking i.e. release of natural gas below surface has led to less demand on traditional oil.
  • Libya and Iraq continuing to produce oil in spite of experts expecting fall in production from there.
  • OPEC, which often controls oil price indirectly, has refrained from restricting production and let it follow a natural path. Now this is somewhat mystery why OPEC is not intervening. Some analysts say that Saudi Arabia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_oil_production ) has decided to carry on normal production as it thinks restricting supply, although may bump price up, will help Iran and Russia whom Saudis don’t have good relationship.

What is the effect of oil price fall?

It is difficult to predict, but in general it is believed that fall in price is good for overall world economy as it will lead to cheaper goods and thus can lead to more economic activities by consumers.

Russia has been affected negatively because it is generating less income via export but still need foreign currency for import. Some companies associated with oil industry have been affected by fall in profit obviously.

What are common analog world time watches?

2014/07/21

In modern times, you can download apps in your smart phones to show time anywhere in world. This is somewhat negated the necessity of having a traditional watch which can show times in multiple zones around the world. But don’t ever think that such watchmakers are losing money! A lot of people still prefer elegant and prestigious looking of branded watches on their wrists! In this post, I shall list some very common world time analog watches. Typical characteristics of world time watches:

  1. Should be able to show at least dual times at once.
  2. Seeing time for any time zone should not be overly complex.
  3. There should be a mechanism to swap primary and secondary time quickly.
  4. Should be able to cater for all time zones (including half hour GMT offsets like India – which is GMT+5:30)
  5. Accurate (should be radio controlled or able to pick signal up via GPS – not all watches have these facilities)
  6. Solar powered is preferred so that you don’t have to change battery.
  7. Affordable (you should not have to sell your kidney to buy one)

We shall see in this post how difficult it is to achieve all those parameters within budget. Please bear in mind that there are probably over hundred models of such analog world time watches. Some of them are very expensive. Not all of them offer half hour GMT offset. A quick way to figure that out is to look at dials and see if Delhi is featured. It should feature between Karachi and Dhaka. If Delhi is missing, that means the watch cannot show half hour GMT offsets! This means, in those watches, the minute hand for second time will be always synchronized with primary time. Even some very expensive watches have these problem! Some watches can only show GMT/UTC as a second time. You can’t set second time zone as any city in the world. Ok, enough talking, now let’s see some watches. Note: Prices shown are RRP on July 2014. Specific models may be retired anytime although other models in same series usually available in market for a long time. If you can find deals, often you can buy them at cheaper prices. The list is not in any particular order.  

Citizen eco-drive World Time AT 9010-52L [£379] w01   This is a typical world time watches. It does feature Delhi so covers all time zones. The smaller dial shows secondary time in 24-hr format (this is common for many of such watches).  The main dial shows time in 12-hr format but a separate dial (at upper left) indicates whether it is AM/PM via a 24-hr needle. The watch allows you to check time at any shown city by pressing couple of buttons. It also allows to swap primary and secondary cities by pressing 2 buttons at once.

Seiko Astron SAST003 [£1995] w02 This watch picks up GPS signal (as long as it can see sky) and automatically adjusts the time! This one is solar powered too. Mind that, there is a difference between radio controlled time and GPS controlled. Radio signals are emitted from only few places (typically USA, Germany, Japan etc.) and from the world and watch needs to be within 1500 km of that zone. However, a GPS signal can be picked from anywhere in the world – as long as access to sky is available. All satellites have atomic clocks in them – the signal that is picked up by this watch. So, in theory, this watch never needs time adjustment.

 Casio Edifice EQS-500DB-1A2 [£226]

w03 This one is also solar powered.  

Patek Phillippe 5110 Worldtime [£18000]

025110ORROSE Yes, you read the price right! More of a glamor statement than utility watch. The clever design here is at middle ring, which rotates counter clockwise. In the above image, the home time is Paris (indicated by Paris being at 12 o’clock position. The time at home is 10:09. As per dial, it is 12:09 at Moscow and 00:09 at Anchorage. Note that, this watch can’t show half hour offset zones – in spite of hefty price tag!  

Rolex GMT Master II [£5500]

w05   Another glamorous watch! On a quick glance, it does not feel like it can show world time. In fact, it is just a dual time watch. You can see the main home time screen. The outer bezel rotates manually. The blue hand with triangular pointer  is GMT hand. You can set this hand to show any other city’s time.  But here as well, as you only have an hour hand for dual time, the minutes hand is same for both home and secondary time zone – which in turn means this watch too can’t show half hour GMT offsets. I think now it is fair to say that spending more does not automatically mean having more functionality!

Casio SPF60 [£75] w06   This is also not a true world time watch but a dual time watch. The analog and digital times can be set independently. However, alarm/calendar works only on the basis of digital time. The watch also provides reading for barometer (with last few hours trend), altimeter and a thermometer.

Citizen Eco drive Skyhawk AT [£350]

w07   This watch can show 3 times at once. The main one, GMT/UTC in upper middle and another one for selected city (showing TYO in above image). The home time can be set against any of world’s main cities. In above image, it was set for NYC. However, the GMT/UTC will always show UTC (in 24-hr mode) and you can’t set it to show any other time.

Casio AQ-S810W-1AVEF [£55] w08 Even though you can’t immediately recognize it, this is actually a world time watch! There is only one analog dial though. The second time is displayed digitally (not shown in above image). The digital time can be set for any of world’s main cities. However, you can easily toggle between home (analog) and secondary (digital) time zones. For example, if you set your analog hands for LON and digital for DEL and then you went to Delhi, then you can easily toggle analog hands to show Delhi time and digital one showing London time. This is a solar watch and also available with steel band.

 Nomos Glasute Tangomat GMT [£3100] w09 Another watch which, in spite of high price tag, can’t show true world times. The smaller window shows home/second city but because there is no secondary minute hand, it can’t show half hour GMT offset times. The main dial shows time for selected city (at 9’o clock position).

Ball World time GM2020D-LCJ-BK [£2400] w10 Another watch where Delhi is missing!

Vacheron Constantin Patrimony World Time [£26000] w11 This is another status symbol! This has got 37 world time zones (including half hour offsets which are marked in red). You can rotate the city name dials. In the above image, the home town is set for Geneva (because it points to black triangle at traditional 6-o’clock position). You can now read time at any of world’s cities in 24-hr format.

Blancpain Villeret [£9500]

6661-1531-55B

As you can see in the dial, this one can show half hour GMT offsets. This is an automatic watch with 8 days of power reserve.   There are many other similar watches at varying price range. By now you must have got some good idea of what to look at world time watches. My advice: For functional and affordable watches, stick with Casio, Citizen or Seiko. For glamor statements, buy whatever your bank balance permits.

Why do smart phones freeze (or hang or lock up)?

2014/04/22

Old Nokia phones (also known as dumb phones or features) almost never froze! I had a Nokia phone which froze only once (worked fine after restart) in 7 years of use! That is pretty impressive.

However, most smart phones often freeze. Some freeze quite often while some other freeze only occasionally.

Let us understand why it happens.

All smart phones are mini computers inside. They have an Operating System (OS) which interacts with the phone hardware. Users interact with the phone via application layers.

The core of OS is known as “kernel”. This is low level assembly language core which translates users’ requests (via apps) so that hardware can process it. For example, when you dial a number (via dialler app) the request is sent to kernel which instructs the hardware to perform the phone dialing operation. Both Android and iOS runs on highly customized flavors of Unix OS inside them.

The old dumb phones also had similar concept but there was a big difference. Those phones were only allowed to perform few predefined tasks like dialing a number, receiving phone calls and sending texts (along with alarm, calendar etc.).

But modern smart phones are expected to do a lot of things! As a result, it is often very difficult to predict what each app will request to kernel. There are just millions of instructions possible. When many apps send some instruction to kernel, it may get overloaded (takes too long to process which manifests as phone slow to respond) or just get confused (manifests as phone freezing). The freezing often happens due to kernel going into an infinite loop (and does not know how to come out of that) or just bogged down by too much work.

When you use heavy weight apps in lower end (or budget) smart phones, due to slow CPU and small amount of RAM, the hardware gets overloaded. So, those phones often become slow over times. When you install newer versions of apps, they usually take up more space and thus strains hardware even more!

Different manufactures try to handle this problem in different ways. Apple implements a strict control of what its apps are allowed to do and what hardware goes inside the phone. That’s why iOS is more restrictive and iOS users see less frequent freezing. Internally, iOS apps work in a sandbox mode. Each app gets a space in phone storage and it can’t access anything outside of its own sandbox. Once you delete the app, all its traces are gone. This is also the reason why users can’t access iOS file system (unless you jailbreak). Apple also doesn’t allow usage of external memory card which is often responsible for corrupt file systems and thus causing problems.

Android system (even though derived from Unix) is more like good old desktop Windows OS in its behavior. Apps can often access an equivalent of Windows registry style things. Various apps dump garbage in cache, which fills up phone’s internal storage (like hard disk) and phone becomes slower over time. Even if you install an app in SD card, it still leaves traces in internal storage space due to OS design. Android also allows access to file system (just like desktop PCs) which means users can fiddle with its system and may accidentally delete system files!

Microsoft has taken iOS like “sandbox” approach in its Windows phone system. So, in theory, Windows Phones are supposed to crash less! However, these still allow external SD cards so such issues will remain to some extent. Also, as Windows phones have less market share at present, it is difficult to predict if they are indeed superior to Android or iOS.

From empirical evidence, it can be stated that:

  • Apple phones crash the least. However, internet browsing is often unpredictable and quite often iOS browser just crashes but this does not usually lead to entire phone freezing up.
  • Blackberries and Android phones crash often. Lower end Android models crash more if you fiddle with them too much for the reason described in this article.
  • Less matured OS crashes more. For example, Windows phones OS have good architecture but it is still maturing so it may crash unexpectedly.
  • Poorly designed OS will crash often. This is why Nokia’s Symbian based smart phones were notorious for freezing!

If you are an Android user, make sure you clear cache often, manage your applications so that it does not store too much data in phone’s internal memory and refrain from heavy browsing or playing hardware heavy games. This should lead to less crash, especially in budget hardware Android models.

If you are an iOS user (iPhone or iPad), there is not much you can do to prevent freezing (if that happens at all). Sometimes one or two rogue apps may cause problem. In that case, simply get rid of those apps. Some apps when updated, tend to make use of newer features of latest OS. If your OS is older version, you may see apps crashing (but not entire device freezing up).

Windows phones are still maturing so nothing can be advised at this moment.

What are different types of sharees?

2013/10/27

Sharee (also sari, saree) is a dress predominantly worn by Indian women. It is often difficult to classify a sharee for a foreigner. This article shows the classification.

20131027-081742.jpg

Why museums don’t allow flash photography?

2013/04/12

Not all museums prohibit flash photography. But some of them do. Some museums prohibit photography altogether but that is due to commercial reason.

So why flash photography is wrong?

There are several reasons behind this.

Some old artworks are made on perchments or some fragile materials which may fade quickly if exposed to strong lights. Thus frequent exposure to strong flash lights may accelerate the fading process.

Such artworks are often kept in dimly lit rooms. All the visitors eyes are accostommed in dim light. Now if suddenly flashes start going off then it becomes irritated to other visitors nearby. This is another reason i.e. to avoid disturbance to other visitors (it is similar to why you should not talk in loud voice inside museums).

Sometimes museum authories claim that flash interferes with their intruder detection sensor systems. However, not much detail is know if that is true.

How come bridge cameras can offer so much zoom?

2013/04/05

Nowadays many compact cameras can offer 25x-30x zoom. But having similar kind of zoom is not possible in DSLR cameras where it is mostly limited to around 11x-15x.

The reason why compact/bridge cameras can offer this (at a reasonable price) is these cameras have much smaller sensors compared to DSLR cameras. Thus, these cameras need much smaller lenses to cover that sensor. If you notice lens specification of these cameras they are usually at 4-100 mm range. While in DSLR, these are 18-200 mm range. Since DSLRs have much bigger sensors, they need massive lenses to offer long zoom range. This makes the lenses heavy and expensive.

So even though you can get away with very long zoom in smaller cameras, the image quality will be much inferior compared to DSLR’s APS-C or full frame sensors.

Image

Why most US locomotives have single cab while European ones have dual cabs?

2012/12/17

Most US locomotives have single cab. This creates a visibility problem when operating long hood forward mode (visibility is usually ok while operating short hood forward mode). However, it is quite rare for US locos to operate solo – they mostly work in pair (sometimes upto 3-4 units together as well). As a result, they rarely run as long hood forward mode in real life.

But in Europe, the overall weights of trains are lighter and thus often trains are pulled by just single locomotive. Here both forward/reverse operation is desired. Thus European locos need good visibility in both directions (otherwise they would need turntables which are now obsolete after steam loco era).

Countries which imported American locos (like common WDM style locos in India, licensed from ALCO) but often runs as single units, visibility is indeed a problem while running in long hood forward mode.