- Pre-seen material will be provided to the teams in bits and pieces starting from 6th March. (you may register later as well)
- After going through the case study material, participants get an option to have a live chat with the characters in the case study with some restrictions, to be declared at the time of chat) on 8th of March. More details on this will be sent to the registered teams one day in advance.
- The registered teams need to submit a short report of not more than 1000 words which contains their conclusion from the material and the chat session and also their recommendations.
Deadline: 9th March, 2014 5:00 pm.
- The participants will be judged on the basis of the way they investigate the case and also how sensitive they are towards the issue of Gender Equality and Sexual Harassment (which will be clear from the questions they ask during the chat session and also the report they submit).
A change is necessary in the way we look at agriculture, desertification, the way we blame overgrazing..
I was trained to think the same way as many do. I was taught overgrazing is the reason for desertification, that reducing populations solves the problem. It felt logical, but something felt wrong about reducing the populations, when I was watching Nat Geo or Discovery or Animal Planet showing a massive herd. there has to be an optimum level and we haven’t got it right, I thought. Here is someone who has evidence to prove that the thinking is flawed, or atleast the optimum level, if we stick to my theories, is far higher than we are led to believe. And I am ready to change the way I look at these issues. Are you?
Originally posted on TED Blog:
All over the world, land is turning into desert at an alarming rate. Biologist Allan Savory has dedicated a lifetime to figuring out what’s causing this “desertification.” Finally, after decades of work in the field, Savory discovered a radical solution—one that went against everything scientists had always thought. He used huge herds of livestock, managed to mimic the behavior of the natural herds that roamed grasslands centuries ago, and saw degraded land revert to robust ecosystems.
Here, Savory talks with rancher, performer and acclaimed filmmaker Gail Steiger about his new TED Book The Grazing Revolution: A Radical Plan to Save the Earth, detailing his remarkable and often difficult journey to discovery—one that ultimately ends with great hope for the future.
Did you ever look at something that made you pause a moment and think “what the hell was that?” If your answer is no, please stop reading here. You do not belong in my target audience.
Something may elicit such a response in two cases. Either it is extremely good or extremely bad, good and bad being defined subjectively. Mediocrity doesn’t stand out from the crowd. It is the extremes that demand attention. It is thus extremes that I am interested in.
This is my personal rant. I was asked to do a shitty job, and I can not escape it because it is a part of a core course, which needs to be completed for me to obtain my degree, and I need my degree. Not really. People think I need a degree, and people think it reflects my competence, which I assure you it can not. Anyone who thinks GPA and certifications mean anything more than a belief in the system, is delusive. Back to the point. When I requested that I be allowed to do the same job in an alternate way, it was denied. I will now detail the incident and my thoughts on it. Feel free to abandon this post and move on if that doesn’t sound exciting.
I am undertaking a course titled ‘Software Lab’, which requires me to work on one assignment per week. This week, the problem statement is to make a Ubuntu app that displays weather information. So far so good. I am required to learn Tcl/Tk, and no, GTK/QT are not allowed. I need to version control with cvs, and no, git/hg are not allowed. I need to use a database to store last 30 days’ weather information, and it needs to be mysql. It is actually laughable to require RDBMS for such trivial task, where a csv sheet does the job.
Why am I angry with this?
A new set of tools every week demands my time. I have to postpone a lot of my tasks to make space for learning them. (Actually until this week, I was teaching people, since I was already well versed with the tools.) When I invest time, I expect them to be of use.
- I will not program ever in TCL/Tk after this assignment. Because I know GTK and QT, and they are far superior for creating a GUI. Also I am not a Tcl fan boy who loves the weakly typed dynamic language with everything being a string.
- I will never use cvs again, because I work primarily with git, it does everything I need, and hg can handle those few exotic cases where git doesn’t quite fit in. Cvs sucks.
To most of my classmates, a 2 credit course demanding entire week, every week is unfair, and has severe effects on other courses. For me, having to work with outdated tools is the bigger problem. If you are a developer, you should probably be able to understand why.
I requested the teaching assistant (TA) and he refused any alternatives. The professor-in-charge says if the TA is familiar with something, it can be used. And the TAs draw a blank on hearing RDBMS, DVCS, git, mercurial, Gtk, QT, or pretty much anything under the sun. I will label them illiterate in programming. When one of my friends commented the alternatives are better, so why can’t they be used, I hear the beautiful reply that prompted this post.
We did this course this way. You have to do the same.
Wait, let’s back up. When was the last time you saw a developer choosing Tk or cvs out of his/her own will, given the alternatives? Probably a decade has passed since such an event happened. And so, atleast since a decade, while the real technology has progressed much, the academic machinery has preserved its notion of what is to be taught, unscathed, to the point where it diverged from what is usable in reality to a horrible extent.
Thanks for reading this far.
This entire article can be distilled into this. Classrooms and labs must do a reality check of what is relevant, and must incorporate those changes into the curriculum, and this must be a continuous process. Teaching assistants must be trained well. And get some literate folks in there, please!
You may suggest that I explain the situation to the professor. I was hoping I could do that, but today evening while I was in a meeting with some other professor, the entire situation worsened, and I do not think I would be able to convey my message now. I am still unaware of the discussion that happened between my friends and the professor, but it must have hinged on the course demanding too much of their time, as it was decided that the relevant links will be provided a week early, and the actual coding has to be done in the four hours allotted to the lab. It definitely wasn’t the right approach.
Screw everyone, because that means the lab starts at 1 and I can not have lunch that day. The problem remains unsolved. And screw everyone again, because the information is being as abstract as it can get. “The next week’s work will require Object Oriented Programming in C++/Java.” Along with links to C++/Java tutorials probably grabbed off the first page on Google. Essentially I see zero profit and a net loss.
Last week required us to do a multi threaded implementation of matching two strings. In shell and C. If the aim is to frustrate people like me, job well done. But if it is something that was designed to teach multi threading, give a problem statement that makes sense. Multi threaded search does not make any sense when the input sizes are small, as in less than 10 characters. It may make sense in the case of a short string being searched inside a very long one. Evaluation plays an important role. If I see evaluation that does not reward work, that doesn’t even make sense because essentially the TAs are illiterate, I feel justified in losing interest in any learning opportunity that the course may provide. I am a normal
human being ape, and I am affected by these.
There is a reason I am beginning to consider any parent who wants to send their kid to school, mentally retarded. More on that later. If you are offended by any of the above statements, you are welcome. I don’t give a shit.
Some time ago, I wrote that I’m a hedonist. I can no longer say the same with confidence.
My perceptions. I started reading Ayn Rand. She almost convinced me that objective morality is possible, and it naturally follows that hedonism is stupid.
I’m not fully convinced, but the arguments are compelling. Right now, I’m in the in-between. Read “The virtue of selfishness” if you are interested. The very first article attacks hedonism, and that too in a sensible way.
Two factor authentication – the practice of requiring more than one key to the safe. Every sensible service provides the option these days. But not all do it the proper way.
Rest of the post covers the ground about passwords in general and why two factor auth is a good idea. If you are familiar with the topic, you may find the article boring. You may skip to the last couple paragraphs safely. If you have never heard of two factor auth, continue reading.
Let’s look at the common implementations. We need two keys unlock. The first one’s usually a password.
Lets back up a bit. Why do we need two keys? That’s easy to answer – To make it difficult for a thief to break the lock. Until a few years ago, Passwords alone did okay-ish. But the thieves learned. They used phishing and social engineering to fool users and extract the passwords out of unsuspecting users. Its something similar to showing you a lock that looks like yours. If you fall for the trick and present your key, I make a copy and use it on the real lock.
Since the keys are strings of letters, numbers, and symbols, and people have difficulty remembering lots of them, they usually use the same password everywhere. Or use qwerty or something similar, an easy to remember one. If I have a million locks to pick, and I like to pick as many locks as possible, I can either try all keys on every lock one by one or try the most likely keys on every lock. The second method is easier. Usually by few orders of magnitude.
Now we come to dictionary attacks and brute force attacks. Dictionary attacks use a list of probable passwords and try simple variations of them. Brute force attacks try every possible key on the lock.
And the service providers weren’t idiots. They started rate limiting. You can only try n keys in a minute, or something similar. Trust me when I say that with proper rate limiting in place, brute force and dictionary attacks can take hundreds of years.
But wait, there’s an issue we haven’t addredsed yet. What if people use the same password at multiple sites and the other site was somehow compromised? It happens. A lot. So you now need to protect yourself from the idiocy of others. That’s a bit tough.
And then, it dawned on the experts. Passwords are a bad practice. Too late to fix. The idea of passwords became so natural to the average joe that he’d call you crazy if you told him that passwords are bad. A lot of users are, um, let me put it this way. Security-illiterate. Lots of them. You see, the main issue here is the stupid users. Force them to use strong passwords and you see post it notes on desktop with the passwords. You can’t easily educate them either.
So now comes the beautiful idea. What if we don’t just ask for something the user knows (password), but we also ask that they show us something only they can have.* Enter two factor auth.
A one time password sent to your mobile, or requiring a confirmation on your mobile for every login, or requiring you to present a difficult to forge certificate or special hardware generated secret token, lots of possibilities. But not everyone gets it right.
There is a tradeoff between convenience and security. The trick is to find the fine line that is secure enough but not very inconvenient for the user.
Twitter allows you to require confirmation on mobile for every web based login. To break this lock, the attacker needs both your password and your mobile.
But what if your mobile app doesn’t work or you lose your mobile? Allowing a recovery means the recovery path should atleast be as strong as the actual path. Else any sensible attacker choses recovery, the least secure path. It’s a lot of additional work. But not providing a recovery means that users may get locked out of your service.
I’m surprised I wrote such a lengthy article on my mobile. Allow me to wind it up. I’ll revisit the topic later.
You probably guessed it by now. Twitter’s recovery mechanism seems to be prohibitively tough. Submit a support ticket and wait. I never expected twitter to make such a blunder. People do lose mobiles. Give me some sensible recovery mechanism please..
Find below last tweet in the conversation that prompted this article.
P.S: Writing wordpress articles on mobile sucks. A little.
Evolution not presented in strictly chronological order. I tried to simplify things, may have over done it. Comment your views below.
Preface: I answer a question every week, under the game AMA. Ask Me Anything
This week’s question:
It seems like thousands of people get on the internet every day to shout their opinion at anyone who will listen or to shout back at those people who started the shouting in the first place. Why do they at all do that??
It really doesn’t surprise me. People crave attention more than anything. It makes them feel important. Internet allows you to voice your opinion.
People are desperate to be heard. Not many realize it. It gives them a sense of importance.
Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth. -Oscar Wilde
I can not put it any better. What better place than internet to sport a mask? It can not get any easier.
It is something deeper than the simple explanation I was trying to give. The gist remains the same. Ego. Not many realise how important it is to satisfy your desire to feel important. I can not stress it enough. I’d take the rather brave stance to state that satisfying your ego and asserting that you are important is the most important thing everyone must do.
Why should you satisfy your ego? I’m afraid I can not answer it reasonably in a short post. My stance has got a lot to do with how I view the world, the good, the bad, the truth, the ideal, and the very purpose of life.
My views are very much influenced by my choice. I chose to believe that it is a choice that makes all the difference.
I’ll leave it at that and let you ponder.
P.S: In case you are still wondering what a unicorn has got to do with this: I too can use totally unrelated titles to drive loads of traffic to my blog.
(Verbatim from http://www.enactusiitd.org )
ENACTUS is an international organization that brings together the top leaders of today and tomorrow to create a better and more sustainable world through the positive power of business. Enactus operates in the form of student teams on campuses around the world, working on sustainable projects with the objective of creating economic opportunity for others.
Every Enactus project has the following three components:
- Entrepreneurial: Having the perspective to see an opportunity and the talent to create value from that opportunity;
- Action: The willingness to do something and commitment to see it through even when the outcome is not guaranteed;
- Us: A group of people who see themselves connected in some important way; people who are part of a greater whole.
Enactus IIT Delhi is the IIT Delhi student chapter of Enactus.
What is Project Aanch?
TL;DR: A project to manufacture and sell smokeless stoves.
Residents of Bhatti Mines rely on firewood and use extremely inefficient ‘stove’ that is typical to the rural India. A crude structure with one or more sides open for insertion of firewood, that can hold a small vessel. An estimated 826 million Indians depend on these simple cook stoves that burn solid fuel, mainly fuelwood or coal. (Source)
These stoves are extremely energy inefficient, result in a lot of Carbon Dioxide, Carbon Monooxide, Black carbon (soot) emissions. All of these contribute to global warming, and with over 800 million users on a daily basis, the issue demands attention. Estimated 1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxie equivalent gases can be avoided by using better stoves. It would also reduce the deaths from respiratory infections, heart disease, bronchitis, pneumonia and tuberculosis. When you are talking about changing India, numbers are your enemy. A statistician will understand.
But it all begins with a small effort. Many such efforts have been made. Project Aanch is yet another efficient stove campaign.
What makes Project Aanch different?
It is not a campaign distributing/selling stoves. It is an attempt at making entrepreneurs. Enactus IITD will train women from Bhatti Mines to make smokeless stoves, and assist in establishing a business.
What can I do to help?
- Donate, if you can.
- Spread the word.
What will the money be used for?
(Verbatim from project page on wishberry)
- To buy two more Philips cook-stove mould that would enable us to double the rate of production of cook-stoves and expand in other communities. One mould costs Rs 26500 approximately.
- As we are serving customers at Bottom of the Pyramid, the relatively limited buying capacity of the poor makes it tougher for us to generate profits for the women. Thus, to expand the market and increase the adoption rate, we would be testing two models:
- Selling stoves through EMI: We need money to maintain the buffer amount needed to sustain the installment plan.
- Subsidizing Stoves: The current selling price of Rs 1200 is out of range for the community. We will subsidize this by Rs 500 so that they can afford it.
I will receive my first salary today. I will do my part.