Back to ‘real’ world!

Written on 4:06 PM by Tushar Thole



It has been almost a month that I am back from the center of the virtual universe and things look very promising.

Don’t think I’ve mentioned here before that I am working for VMware as a part time intern this semester. Though Hopkins was ready to approve working part time for an off campus employer (on a CPT) there were a lot of complications involved. I am a part time student this semester at Hopkins as I need only 2 courses to graduate. At Hopkins if you have less than 3 courses in a semester you are a part time student (This is a Hopkins specific term and every international student on F1 status is legally always a full time student.) and you pay per course fees instead of the full semester tuition.. When I applied for a part time CPT, I had to register for an extra course and Hopkins was going to charge me $3600 for the same! Since this was ridiculous I talked to the dean and ended up getting $1800 waived off as ‘Dean’s tuition support’ :) and VMware had already agreed to pay the rest.

As almost every desi in the CS dept is graduating in Dec and has fewer courses this semester, first few weeks into the semester were pure fun! Fooseball, late night pool, movies, parties…things like these didn’t use to happen at Hopkins! I actually achieved some of my long cherished dreams such as watching Friday night English movies arranged by HOP(Ocean’s 13, Mr. Brooks) or Saturday evening movies (Chak de India!) arranged by Tarang :P

People have become so innovative that now we have a Google calendar shared among all desis called ‘Crisis buster calendar’. It contains an entry for every event on the campus where there is a slightest chance of getting free food! This scheme is working great so far :) In addition to that there were events like WSE fall picnic, Fall fest too.

The entire desi junta also went to a night tour of Washington DC arranged for FREE (If you want to know how much power this word can have join a grad school!) It was the first occasion that we were all together for a picnic. The trip was arranged for the international students and we had a gala time singing Hindi, English, Tamil songs in the bus :) We visited Washington Monument, Lincoln memorial, Vietnam war memorial and Capitol hill. Boy, it was fun!

Then there was the fresher’s night. I will quote a mail on JHU yahoo group regarding the event. “This was one of the best fresher's night ever. You guys surpassed all expectations with your enthusiasm and by the quality of the performances. The Bhangra, the dance, the solo performances, the 'quack-quack' skit (was it a hen or was it a duck) were all amazing. Three cheers to the DJ, the sound guys, organizers and the food committee!

Now there is a reason to look forward to the Diwali party.

As the semester is taking speed I have realized that I have started missing India a lot. Maybe it is because I will be flying to my sweet home in Dec. Also all the weirdos who started the graduate school last Fall with me have become good friends. I will definitely miss these golden days…Man! I have started becoming nostalgic already!

Career night

Written on 10:05 PM by Tushar Thole

On September 19th, I attended a career night organized by Alumni association of Whiting school of engineering at JHU. It was a nice opportunity to get tips from alumni having a variety of experiences ranging from building weapons of mass destruction to managing multi billion dollar finance firms. In the end of their presentation they had students to send resumes for review so that newbies will get to know weaknesses in their resume before they start flooding mailboxes of recruiters all over the place :)

I sent mine and was surprised to get a call one fine day that the alumni who reviewed mine wanted to meet me in person. He was going to do a presentation at Hopkins as a part of “Conversations with leaders” lecture series. He personally invited me to attend his talk on ‘Building and selling a software product company’. He was Neil Kleinberg, president of ‘Vertical Falls software’.

After the talk we had a chat for 20 minutes about my short time and long term goals and what my plans are to achieve them. I also asked about whether I should go for a MBA as I think that’s a good way to get VC funding whenever I decide to take the plunge and start on my own. (Believe me it is going to happen!) Though this is a very long term plan it doesn't hurt to start early. He was very nice and supportive and we exchanged good byes with his comment “In the worst case you will do exceptionally well!

:)

Independent study finale

Written on 10:58 AM by Tushar Thole


I had written a blog before regarding my independent study in I/O virtualization so thought of adding a finale.

To give you a background, I was talking to Prof. Randal Burns regarding doing some research in I/O virtualization in the beginning of Spring semester. Randal told me that I can work on any idea that I find interesting. By then I had already accepted VMware’s offer for the summer internship so I decided to talk to them to see if they had anything research-y that I could work on. My VMware manager and mentor were very approachable and as per their suggestion I decided to work on ‘Storage I/O load balancing algorithms’ as my independent study topic. Randal was fine with this idea. Till the end of spring semester I was still in the reading phase to figure out the depth and breadth of the problem. At JHU, if you start an independent study in Spring then you can extend it till the end of Oct if your adviser is fine with that. Till I joined VMware, I had no idea whether I will be working on the same stuff. Fortunately it turned out that it is going to be my summer internship project. I won’t go into details of what we achieved due to Intellectual Property issues but to sum up my experience I will say my internship was “any systems programmer’s dream job”. My talk at VMware on the same topic was also very well received.

After coming back to Hopkins I went to Randal to give him an update about my independent study work. I thought I will have to do some more work before writing the report. But I was surprised to see the outcome of the meeting!

R: “It must be a busy summer!”

R: “So did you work on $$$$$$ worth storage arrays?”

R: “So how do you plan to use this work?
Me: (worried)What do you mean?
R: “Do you want to use this as a masters thesis or a project?”
Me: (couldn't believe my ears!)“Do you think I can use this as a thesis?”
R: “Sure(with some improvements,suggestions)”

R: "...As far as an independent study is concerned just submit the report and you're good to go..."

R: “If I were to review this paper for FAST…”

:)

In the words of my mentor, “Good to see that your independent study bird fell with this stone! “

So officially I just need two more courses to graduate!

My Website:)

Written on 5:37 PM by Tushar Thole

I uploaded my website yesterday.

It took longer than expected (I spent significant amount of time for two days) and basically taught me the importance of having the right tools! With a little bit of googling I found a nice CSS on oswd.org. (Mine is created by Arcsin. Good job dude! ) Since I had already decided what stuff to put on the website the pages were already in place. So far so good… My laptop's Adobe dreamweaver trial version had expired and MS office 2003 did not have FrontPage. Those were the only two visual editors for HTML that I knew. Since I needed an alternative I tried Nvu, CoffeeCup editor and HTML Kit. Nvu is at least tolerable. In the end I had to copy my stuff to one of the lab machines in JHU to use FrontPage to fix some annoying image linking issues.

Initially I was planning to add a separate page to upload problem statements and design/performance documents for my academic course projects.Given that it will be a pain to keep the page up to date I decided to drop the idea.

Anyways I am pretty happy with its look and feel. Do let me know your comments.

VMware IPO

Written on 12:47 PM by Tushar Thole



I got to work today at 6am to join another 1000 VMware employees for the IPO gathering. The event was a wonderful opportunity to see VMware ring the opening bell at the NYSE, the very first trade of "VMW", a very sumptuous hot breakfast, a bevy of espresso drinks, a toast to VMware's future!

As I was guessing earlier the IPO was a no-brainer! VMware stock was launched at $51.06 which was 76% higher than the list price! According to Bloomberg ,‘The initial public offering was the largest technology sale since Google Inc.'s three years ago.’ Read a live diary describing the exciting events that took place during the first hour of trading.

People have already started talking in terms of the "next VMware" instead of the "next Google".While talking about IPO of Classmates.com IPO, the columnist says, "So can Classmates be the next Google (GOOG), or for that matter, the next VMWare (VMW), the storage software maker that surged nearly 80 percent out of the gate in its market debut Tuesday?"

Proud to be a part of VMware! Cheers!

Expect the unexpected!

Written on 4:11 PM by Tushar Thole

I had thought that the weekend will be a little boring (definitely not exciting!) as Minu and Gud boy had decided to hone their driving skills on a rented car and I was supposed to help them. So I imagined myself sitting in the car yawning for the whole weekend when these guys will make countless rounds of some random parking lot. There was also a plan to look at used cars. We exchanged a few emails during the week discussing the “strategy” and decided that on Saturday afternoon we(our team:)) will practice driving in Oracle and VMware parking lot and in the evening we will visit various dealers for used cars. (We had heard (which turned out to be true!) that if you buy a used car from a dealer then even though you get a warranty and stuff you will end up paying something close to 10K and in our opinion it was too much to pay for an old car! So a visit to the dealer was meant to be an exercise to find out what are the options available if we buy a car from the dealer). Entire Sunday was devoted to meet various sellers (whose info was gathered from craigslist) and a little bit of driving practice.

So if you have read carefully you can see there was not even a remote intention of buying a “new” car.

Till Saturday evening everything was going as per the plan. We practiced a little in the Oracle parking lot, visited Minu’s swanky office at Oracle HQ (it's awesome!) and visited a couple of dealers of used cars. The turning point came when while passing by we noticed a sign for used cars at a Toyota showroom and rushed inside. The salesman mentioned that you can get a new Toyota Yaris in the same cost as that of a decent old car. We took a test drive and were kinda convinced that we can think about buying a new car instead of taking a risk of buying a used one.

On Sunday morning though had we gathered a huge list of sellers from craigslist, instead of calling anybody we decided to visit Ford and Honda showrooms to see if there was anything that could have fit in our budget. Ford focus was really within the budget. Good gas mileage, decent looks and a brand new car within the same price as that of an old one! But we wanted to visit Honda showroom before making the final decision.

We were interested in taking the quotes for Honda Civic as it is ‘the’ car that every desi new college grad imagines as his/her first! Since it was a high demand car Honda had added 2K more on the price of a new Civic. So now a civic was at the same cost as that of an Accord….interesting! So why not go for an Accord than a Civic? Gud boy was fine with that and rumor has it that it was Minu’s childhood fantasy to own a Honda Accord :) Once both the ‘parties’ gave the green signal and negotiations began.

You can imagine 3 novices negotiating

- whose highest purchase in US so far has been a laptop (In Gud boy’s case a ticket to India maybe)

- who had driven a car less than 10 times in US

- who could not tell what a comprehensive car insurance includes, how a burglar alarm system in the car is different than the centralized locking system

- who did not know what would be the best base price of the car that they have just decided that they would buy

- who had no idea from where they can get the car finance at the lowest APR

- who were unaware of Honda Policy that the buyer should have a permanent California license

But in the end it didn’t matter :)

As my dad always says, all you need is a common sense! For everything that we were not sure of we called numerous friends for advice and after negotiating for 7 hours emerged outside the Honda showroom with two (identical;))brand new 2007 Honda Accord at a price less than a Civic !

One weekend…three people…two new cars! That’s exciting!

Minu and Amit: Congrats :)

Publicity

Written on 4:39 PM by Tushar Thole

It's a pleasant surprise to find that AID India has put a link to my blog on the Indian Ocean concert on their web page to describe "How did you like the concert?"!

:)

Heavenly Monterey!

Written on 1:51 PM by Tushar Thole


A meek attempt to capture the fun that we had in a day trip to Monterey and Santa Cruz beach!


Santa Cruz beach is usually pretty crowded. As it is just an hour's drive from the bay area it is a preferred weekend get away for most of the folks. Unlike Indian shores nobody enters into the sea water as the pacific waters are too cold! People were just chilling out having a sun bath or playing beach volleyball.


Santa Cruz beach has a lot of joy rides and this is the best way to spend time if you are not in a mood to relax. I took a joy ride called 'double shot' (as seen in the above pic) and it was too good! It takes you up like a rocket and you can view the entire beach. Good fun though Minu will disagree:)

After having lunch at Santa Cruz beach we left for Monterey. The road to Monterey goes through the fields. You'll be surprised but it's a rare sight here. I have traveled quite a bit in US by road and haven't seen much of the fields. I always used to wonder where do these Americans grow their vegetables!


This is the first view of Monterey beach! Isn't that heavenly? The horizon looks like a painting in splendid shades of blue.


We visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium which when compared to National Aquarium of Baltimore is mediocre. It has otters, penguins and the usual stuff. But the coolest thing there was the jelly fish! There were about 15 exhibits of different varieties of jelly fish. Have a look at the pic above and you wouldn't disagree:)


After the aquarium we went to the 17 mile drive and the pebble beach. The pic above was taken when we had just started. Unfortunately we couldn't take any pics of the drive. By far it was the best part of the day! Nothing could have served better as a grand finale to the memorable trip!

Slow dance

Written on 3:20 PM by Tushar Thole

To mark the 100th post here is a beautiful poem by David L. Weatherford.
--

Have you ever watched kids
on a merry-go-round
Or listened to the rain
slapping on the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight
Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?
You better slow down
Don't dance so fast
Time is short
The music won't last

Do you run through each day
on the fly
When you ask "How are you?"
do you hear the reply?

When the day is done,
do you lie in your bed
With the next hundred chores
running through your head?

You'd better slow down
Don't dance so fast
Time is short
The music won't last

Ever told your child,
We'll do it tomorrow
And in your haste,
not see his sorrow?

Ever lost touch,
Let a good friendship die
'Cause you never had time
to call and say "Hi"?

You'd better slow down
Don't dance so fast
Time is short
The music won't last

When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift....
Thrown away...

Life is not a race.
Do take it slower
Hear the music
Before the song is over.

Indian Ocean : Live in concert!

Written on 6:05 PM by Tushar Thole

Thanks to Parag that I learned about this awesome Indian Fusion band - Indian Ocean. Back when I was in Calsoft Parag had told me about one of their songs called "bandeh.." during our usual coffee break (I miss that man!). I didn't bother much about it till I listened to their truly amazing song 'Kandisa' after coming to Hopkins. Thanks to Minu for that! After watching Black Friday I became their devotee. So I jumped at the opportunity when I heard about their concert in Hayward on Sat (7/14) organized by AID to raise funds for Right to Information (RTI) movement.

Their performance was truly memorable and they played most of their popular songs such as ma rewa, kandisa, bandeh... Their lyrics are from different (mostly obscure!) Indian languages most of which are based on folklore. Add a touch of Indian classical and percussion (tabla) to catchy lyrics with a lot of acoustic and bass guitar and drumming and you get a fantastic Indian fusion song!

Read the description of the band members on their website. It's really hilarious!

Off Topic:
After the concert on my way back I listened to almost all of their albums that I had in my iPod. It was the best way to spend time in a 4 hr long one way journey! For the record I have traveled in almost all possible public transports here such as VTA,Caltrain,Samtrans,AC transit bay and BART! I can tell from experience that you need a car right from the first month of your stay in the bay area!

SF giants ball game

Written on 2:34 AM by Tushar Thole


VMware had taken all the interns to a (base) ball game between SF giants (the local team of San Francisco) and LA dodgers. Even though the match was kinda dull and Barry Bonds didn't break the record, the view from the stadium was awesome!

Nevertheless me and Gud boy reverse engineered the rules of base ball:) Now I know why Americans are so crazy about ball games. No matter how the match goes is but hanging out in the stadium is fun!

wah Taj!

Written on 10:15 PM by Tushar Thole

Now it's also one of the world's new 7 wonders!
(It's the 8th wonder that I came to know about the news before it became too stale!)

Did you vote for it? I did!

No brainer!

Written on 5:52 PM by Tushar Thole

Disclaimer - I don't understand stock market fundas very well.

After reading this news simple demand supply logic (Demand goes up as the supply becomes scarce) tells me that VMware employees will most probably make big bucks!

It will be interesting to see what actually happens when the IPO comes out.

update: 7/27

Following Intel Cisco also jumps in!

US Independence day

Written on 1:27 AM by Tushar Thole

On US Independence Day I was lazing around at home watching Spanglish when Rajat called up and within no time I was on my way to San Francisco. We did not visit any fancy places but they were no less than spectacular and it’s the company that matters and not the place, isn’t it?

San Andreas Lake
This lake no better than Panshet/Khadakwasla I must say:) It was after this historic lake that the fault is named – San Andreas Fault. “The San Andreas Fault is a geological fault that marks a sliding boundary between the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate.” (Courtesy - wikipedia)

Thornton beach – It's small point in Daly city. The view of the pacific was spectacular! Even though it was a rather hot day in the bay the temperature dropped down by around 20 degrees F at this point and it was windy too.

Sutro Baths

Once upon a time this beach was famous for the world’s largest swimming pool establishment. This structure was destroyed in fire in 1966 and now one can see the ruins. Nothing spectacular about the baths in particular but the beach is at a nice location! In the evening the place looks beautiful. Golden Gate bridge is also visible at a distance.

After a whirlwind tour of all these places I was really tired but in the end it was worth the pain when we saw the fireworks on the bay from Ghirardelli square.

Have a look at the videos of the fireworks here.

careful...everyone is watching!

Written on 8:13 PM by Tushar Thole

Read a nice article by Thomas Friedman in Palo Alto times -

"We do not live in glass houses(houses have walls); we live on glass microscope slides...visible and exposed to all. So whether you are selling cars or newspapers (or just buying one at the newsstand), get your hows right- how you build trust,how you collaborate,how you lead and how you say you're sorry. More people than ever will know about it when you do - or don't."

P.S That reminds me that I am yet to read "The world is flat". Btw I've recently started reading 'Freakonomics' and it's good!

the end and NOT the beginning

Written on 5:57 PM by Tushar Thole

Mayur Bhaiya (one of my many dear cousins) tied the knot on 25th June:) I wish life time of happiness to the married couple...
This is the first important family function that I have missed so far apart from the Diwali gathering. I hope this is NOT the beginning!

Amen

all excited!

Written on 4:55 PM by Tushar Thole

It’s very exciting to know that the stuff that you are working on is of interest to a large audience. Mails about my intern project are floating around on the IO resource management, Profiling and SAN practices mailing lists in VMware. Staff engineers (to the best of my knowledge – a position in VMware equivalent to a software architect) of VMFS (File system for the virtualized environment) , Storage stack of ESX server, Storage VMotion and Performance team have shown interest in my work!

The very reason that I am blogging at work is I cannot hide my excitement!

Back to work!

Written on 8:42 PM by Tushar Thole

It has been just 3 days that I have joined VMware, Inc. as an R & D intern in the storage management group. I know so many people here that it is kind of homecoming for me:)

Almost everybody from Calsoft (my previous employer in India) who is working these days in US is in VMware. Many seniors from Apte Junior college are also VMware employees. I sit besides my undergrad classmate from VIT and one of my Calsoft colleagues. Apart from the exciting work it is fun to hang out with my old friends at my new company. The atmosphere in the company is dynamic, people are passionate about their work and learning opportunities are abundant.There are many fun events arranged for interns and as it seems it is going to be a great summer!

VMware trivia which I came to know during the new hire orientation: VMware is the fastest growing company in the history!

Traveling from San Jose to Palo Alto is a pain and I will have to search for my permanent accommodation soon! The toughest part so far is getting up early in the morning! Interestingly office timings are exactly opposite to the usual timings of any grad student and I will take some time to get used to work during the day time:)

I have become a total movie buff...I even took Netflix subscription and have watched Babel, City of God, Thank you for smoking and The prestige ever since I came to bay area on 29th May. The Indian grocery store owner in Milpitas gave me two Hindi movies to watch (Traffic Signal, Dor) for free:) Finished watching all the episodes of Scrubs that I had on my laptop. Watched a lot of TV (mostly That 70's show) and it has reaffirmed my belief that it is a waste of time! All the stuff that you would like to watch is available online and it is without annoying commercials!

I visited a Jain Mandir in Milpitas a day before my first day at work. After all every dollar bill also says 'In God we trust!'



Life at Hopkins - Part II

Written on 3:19 PM by Tushar Thole

Time is surely flying and I am two semesters old at Hopkins.

During the early January I was on 'mass apply' spree for a suitable job during the summer as I was kinda apprehensive about getting interview calls. It worked out really well and I was overwhelmed by the response.The feeling that everyone wants you is really nice for anyone and I am no exception. Learnt to deal with aggressive managers, talked to people who thought that they deserved a standing appalause as they were working for a specific company, dealt with people who tried all tactics to get me to work for them. Work experience does teach you people management skills, helps you figure out what you want to do and what it will take to achieve your goals.

All spring courses had only programming assignments and lots of projects which I feel is the best way to learn a concept.Worked on projects dealing with kernel space / user space C programming, perl/bash scripting, functional programming in OCaml, SQL queries and stored procedures. Started exploring wonderful world of Virtualization for the independent study and fortunately got VMware to guide me in it. It was the first time I took a course in Information retrieval and I am fascinated by it.I would have liked to explore it even more but really good systems courses are being offered next sem which I would like to take such as Storage systems, Microkernel architecture, Network embedded systems and sensor networks.

Hopkins offers so many facilities to students but I didn't get time to explore any during the spring sem. I guess that is the price you pay for being a grad student especially in computer science.

Wish list for the next sem is
- join a salsa class
- learn to do kayaking
- master fooseball / table tennis
- go on at least one outing arranged by outdoor pursuits club
- watch a lacrosse game in the Homewood field
...

F as in Freedom!

Written on 7:32 PM by Tushar Thole

It's officially over! I am just one sem away from graduating and I still cannot believe it!
We hosted a potluck dinner on Friday to celebrate our 'freedom' and quite a few people turned up. Me and my roomies cooked food for almost 20 people and got a few compliments too.

I was bored like hell on Saturday as I didn't understand what to do!
Sometimes I feel that the grad school is turning us into robots turning in one assignment after the other, we eat when we are told to (at the happy hour), all our timetables are governed by homeworks and projects.It's like having an external force driving your life and treating you like a slave.The month of April and first couple of weeks of May seem to have vanished into a blackhole and I don't remember doing anything else but work. Though the past experience(Fall semester) did teach me to have fun whenever you get a chance and I tried to pamper myself after every homework by watching a movie at the expense of less sleep. I still remember it was sometime during the first week of May when me and Wyatt were working on our IR project and we got bored with spending every minute of our lousy boring life in the lab. So we thought of hanging out for half an hour doing something else. It turned out to be a bigger problem! We could not figure out what to do with half an hour of free time so we went to Barnes and Nobles bookstore and ended up reading books! It's like if you set a bird free which has lived in a cage for all its life it doesn't know what to do! During past couple of weeks I learnt to play fooseball though. It's fun and as Swaroop says it counts towards the masters degree requirements:)

Coming back to the point, I was dead bored on Saturday so got a LOT of movies from Sandeep to have a movie marathon.On the weekend I did not even leave my bed and watched 7 movies one after the other such as Before sunrise(good one),Dude where's my car? (average),Deja vu(Didn't get it!),Kabul Express(The director of this movie must be a sadist!),Khosla ka Ghosla(Hilarious),The girl next door(average),Little miss sunshine(too good!). The next on the list are 8 mile,Before sunset,The good shephard, Runaway bride and Happy feet. Had some catching up to do for Lost:) Started watching Scrubs too.It's good but 'Friends' still rules!

Climate is extremely nice and am thinking of clicking the pictures of the campus. It's becoming a ritual to click the pictures of the univ campus every season and it does look entirely different.
Got Interpreter of Maladies (Follow the link to read it online) and have started reading it but it is too early to comment. Planning to watch The namesake some time this week. Apart from all this 'important' stuff will also code for food at JHSPH:) Have to talk to Randal too about the plan of action for the independent study before I leave for the Bay area.

That's my plan for this week. What about you?

CPT

Written on 4:30 PM by Tushar Thole

Got the approval for CPT (Curriculum Practicum Training)!

Due the cautious approach of JHU regarding Intellectual Property rights of the work that students will do during the course of the summer internship it is turning out to be harder to get a CPT approval than getting the actual job!

International office which issues the new i20 for students wants to see a clause on the offer letter that the rights of the work done by the student belongs to the student. That also means that the student should not sign the Non Disclosure Agreement with the company as it means they cannot use the results of the 'research' that they will do during the internship while writing their thesis.

This has forced almost everybody to get a new letter from their employer clarifying the company's stand on IP issues.

I did not face any such problems as I am already working with VMware on my independent study and thanks to my dad who taught me that you not only need to be intelligent but also smart to get things done:)

Care package!

Written on 10:59 AM by Tushar Thole

Today morning I was surprised to receive a package. It was from VMware.

It contained brownie,Easy Mac original cheese sauce mix,pretzel poppers,peanut butter,instant breakfast,Oatmeal to go,famous amos cookies with a little note inside which read _
"We thought it might help you get through finals and finish the semester - or at least give you some extra energy."

:)

Joel, be ready for the competition!

Written on 11:03 PM by Tushar Thole

From Scott Adams.

Good old days!

Written on 3:07 AM by Tushar Thole

Found this while surfing on the net. What a pleasant surprise:) I didn't expect VIT to be so tech-savvy!

‘Free’ as in free speech not as in free beer!

Written on 10:12 PM by Tushar Thole


You guessed it right! Richard Stallman or RMS as he is better known to the world was at Hopkins today to deliver a seminar on ‘Copyright vs Community in the Age of Computer Networks’.

I have seen him many times in documentaries and no book on Linux will be complete without the mention of his name. His work in GCC, GDB, Emacs etc is truly extraordinary. I was standing outside the lecture hall before the lecture started and he just walked in with no air of superiority. His speech was as usual impressive and he narrated how the entertainment companies such as Sony,Disney as trying to exploit the copyright laws through various measures such as ‘Mickey Mouse’ Act and the DRM technologies.

He mentioned about 4 degrees of freedom –

Degree 0 – Freedom to run the program

Degree 1 – Freedom to modify the source code

Degree 2 – Freedom to send your modified code to another user

Degree 3 – Freedom to send your modified code to the community

Seems to me that the student community is a true believer in the freedom of degree 0 , 1 and 2 even before RMS coined these terms;)

The last lap

Written on 4:27 PM by Tushar Thole

Even though the semester is almost in the last lap and the workload is not much this week it is just about the time that the roller coaster ride will begin! OS project and IR Web robot homework are due next week and one more painful PL hw will be out soon. Every PL hw so far has been a battle! Maybe since I am not able to see where all the concepts that I am learning in this course fit in the grand scheme of things I am not able to appreciate the time and hard work that I am putting in this subject. Ever since Prof.Yarowky gave examples of how several course projects resulted into startups me and Wyatt hope to come with some cool topic for the final project for IR course and make a few bucks :P

Independent study in IO virtualization is taking shape nicely. VMware has been kind enough to suggest me a good project idea and provide the technical guidence. It is an honour to work with the most knowlegeble people in the virtualization domain!

Ever since I have come here I have been really lousy in managing the money matters. I forgot to pay my rent twice and had to pay the late fees! After paying around 450$ in tax since the start of this year I Figured out that I should have submitted W2 form again to get the tax exemption as the fiscal year in US does NOT start on April 1st. Filed the tax returns a couple of days before the deadline. Thankfully I never had to 'try' to make money and still have a few bucks to spare after all these blunders:) I should be careful in future to not screw up my credit history.

Has the spring arrived?

Written on 3:41 PM by Tushar Thole

During the spring break (Mar 10-19)the temperature had gone up to 26 degrees C and the entire campus had turned very beautiful as seen in the pic. But then it snowed again ruining the blossom.Annul spring fair was organized by Hopkins last weekend but it was washed away by the impromptu rains. I could not even get a glimpse of it.
After a few days of sun and snow it is raining these days and the campus has turned green reminding me of Pune after the first rain!
I even walked to/from lab a couple of times by CHOICE:). The weather here looks really confused about what to do next!I hope the sunny days will be back soon... Amen!

Sakura!

Written on 7:03 PM by Tushar Thole




It was my status message on gtalk for a while and many people asked me about the meaning so here it is!

The 2007 National Cherry Blossom Festival marks the 95th celebration of the original gift of the 3,000 cherry trees from the city of Tokyo to the people of Washington, DC in 1912. It was Swaroop who mentioned that to me for the first time and I was really excited about it. Wyatt and I decided to go to Washington DC to see the cherry blossom on Friday.

DC is amazing! During my first visit during the winter break I fell in love with this city. There are so many places to hang out. It is just an hour away from Baltimore and is easily accessible by public transports as well which makes it even more attractive.

All the cherry trees are lined up besides the lake which is an awesome sight.Though ideally I should have visited the blossom a couple of days before during the peak period the view was no less than spectacular! We found a couple of trees which had magically survived the cold weather and had retained their bloom.

We visited the Georgetown area in DC for the dinner. Unfortunately didn’t make it to the Georgetown University campus which Wyatt says is really nice. It being a Friday night the streets were filled with people and it was a nice break from the hectic week.

Customer service?

Written on 1:06 PM by Tushar Thole

I thought it would be really cool to send a video iPod to my sister in India. Fortunately one of my dad's friends was going to India in next 3 to 4 days so I placed an order with dbuys.com and gave his address for delivery.To make sure that he gets it in time I paid around 20$ for expedited shipping. It should have worked! There was absolutely no problem...

But it didn't!

A day before the order should have been delivered to his place I got an email saying that your order is canceled for one of the 5 reasons and they had mentioned all the 5 possible scenarios. They dint even tell me what the reason is!
By that time it was too late to place an order with somebody else:(
On the top of that this company charged my card for 250$.. I still have not got my money back.
I tried calling them on Sat and got a reply that the customer service dept operates only on weekdays. I thought 'It's my fault. I should call them on Monday'. I did call them today to get the same reply that they are closed and operate only on weekdays!
I tried all the combinations to reach a customer care executive but got the same reply.
Eventually one the combinations worked and I got hold of one the customer service guys and told him about my problem.
He arrogantly told me that you will get your money back in 10 business days. I said, 'fine. At least tell me the reason for canceling the order'.
His reply was ridiculous! 'Whichever of the 5 reasons that we have mentioned in the email makes you happy is our excuse for canceling the order!'

To dbuys.com-
Folks it is time that you outsource your customer service to India! Read Joel's post on 'seven steps to a remarkable customer service'. You have got to learn a LOT from that!

Spring break balance sheet

Written on 2:35 AM by Tushar Thole

Spring break is gone and probably it is too late to post about it but since it might end up being my only (official) spring break (as I will graduate by the end of this year) it's special:)

Joined on my new on campus job as a database programmer at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health(JHSPH). For the sake of job I need to travel to the JHMI campus which is at a 15 min drive from the Homewood campus. It's kinda cool coz I like to travel and ever since I have come here I was kinda trapped in one mile radius. JHMI shuttle runs frequently and it almost touches the downtown on its way to JHSPH. It is nice to see Baltimore city and most importantly its people! You don't get to see many people if you sit in the lab day and night so even this factor makes the journey exciting.
Trivia: In case you don't know Johns Hopkins School of Medicine is ranked 1 in the world.

Coming back to where I started - So I joined my new job which is the coolest job one can ask for! I am past the stage where having an office and a laptop are considered to be exciting...there are few things which are really cool about this job_ I have not worked in database domain before So I am learning A LOT on the job. Though it is not something that I want to do from career point of view it is nice to know something from fields related to your primary interest. During the break I worked for 3 days, revised the concepts related to stored procedures, views, SQL etc. Met a lot of new people in the office and it is nice to know that they want you!. Instead of sitting in the office working we (me and my boss) work in one of the cafes in JHSPH. It is so much fun! There is so much energy in the atmosphere. I like it there. Since the school of public health doesn't have a separate campus they have structured the building in such a way that it creates a notion of a lot of open space. I will post its pics sometime soon.

Met Atul Bhaiya at Mt. Washington campus who took me to his place for lunch. We had dalbati (The best among marwari dishes IMHO) watching the opening match of the cricket world cup!

Read a lot of blogs...slept quite a lot though you never get enough of it do you?

Finished watching one and half seasons of LOST...it's too addictive:)

Unfortunately could not go for skydiving...will see if I can make it in the summer.

Worked a little bit on my homeworks and read a few papers related to Virtualization.

And most importantly I became an uncle!

So spring break balance sheet looks much like the balance sheet of Indian Railways...huge profits which you'd never expected:D

22hrs and standing...

Written on 2:20 AM by Tushar Thole

Spent 22 hrs at a stretch working mostly on my Info Retrieval Search Engine assignment... Had a submission of OS project( Linux kernel module for hacking keyboard driver) as well on the same day. As usual the next PL homework is out and it is due in a couple of days...

Got Hackers delight, Hackers and Painters, The pragmatic programmer and Founders at work from the library...unfortunately at the same time! As I know that given my schedule I will have to return a few of them back unread.

I can't wait to read Founders at work!

With or without you...

Written on 1:55 AM by Tushar Thole

by U2...
The first song played on my iPod:)
An interesting entry about the song on Wikipedia is here.

One fine day!

Written on 9:58 PM by Tushar Thole



brisk 15 min journey in the Collegetown shuttle
a walk in the Towson mall. (First time in past three months!)
a slice of delicious pizza
300 (what a movie! I have no words!! 'The future of cinema' - Time)
cheese cake (by Cheesecake factory )
Starbucks coffee
...... Just like heaven!

Read more read better!

Written on 5:29 PM by Tushar Thole

Here is the list of books that I would like to read if time permits!

-Founders at Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days

Have put a request for this one in the library. I will be the first one to get it:)

-Hacker's Delight

Heard it is not as good as ‘Programming Pearls’ though which is a must read for everyone!

-Hackers and Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age

Have started following Paul Graham’s blog too.

-The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master

TOC looks really good. Will read it during the summer for sure.

-Code Complete, Second Edition

Have heard a lot about this one! Had got it from library during the intersession but didn’t find time to go through it. It might not be very useful as of now coz of its sheer size.

-The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, 20th Anniversary Edition

This book needs no introduction!

If you wanna be generous then here is my Amazon wish list:)

Bundle of joy!

Written on 1:37 PM by Tushar Thole



Storks had a field day today:)
My sis Tina gave birth to a cute baby girl:)
I can't wait to see my niece!
Sumit pointed out correctly "Is chote se baby ne tere ko "mamu" bana diya":P

Auctioning summer internship on eBay!

Written on 4:19 PM by Tushar Thole

Stuff like this actually happens! Read on...

Spring break woo..hooo!

Written on 6:35 PM by Tushar Thole

Spring break has officially begun today. Temperature has shot up to 17 degrees C! What else would have been a better way to welcome the break other than watching “The untouchables” and singing songs in chorus as Girish and company played guitar!

Not getting much done since past three days but who cares as it’s spring break!…Woo..hoo! (Those who watch Friends know what this means better!)


Here is my spring break wish list (it’s different than the TODO list! Always!!)

- sleep

- sleep

- sleep

Cant stress how important this is:)

- Reading novels, reading anything!

Hari gave me links to some amazing blogs (mostly techi) all of which turned out to be really good. I came across one Marathi blog today and it’s brilliant! I guess it's time that I should start using technorati!

I wanted to get a couple of books from the library but since there were unavailable I got Harry Potter and half blood prince instead:). Siddharth gave me “The curious incident of the dog in the night time”…

- watching Lost

Believe me this serial rocks! I started watching it at the start of the Spring semester and people warned me that it is too addictive. Yeah that’s true. Since I dint wanna waste even a minute to think about what will happen in the next episode I stopped watching it for the good. This break might be a good idea to start watching it again!

- Blogging

This wish is easy to fulfill though!

- Watching movies

Have started well on this one by watching a movie a day before the break officially began!

- Skydiving

JHU folks are making plans to go for sky diving some where in Baltimore County. Hope I can make it!

- … (This covers the rest :) )

Virtualization and I/O : milestone 0

Written on 11:11 AM by Tushar Thole

Talked to Randal and looks like I am gonna an independent study in Virtualization and I/O…Well…at least the topic is fixed!

Will read a few papers before preparing a proposal on which problem I want to attack.

Here is one of the most famous papers on virtualization. All comments regarding the selection of the topic are welcome:)

A year ago

Written on 11:00 PM by Tushar Thole

Today is the day when I'd got my first admit to the grad school for the Masters in Parallel and Distributed Computer Systems:)



Virtualization is (the | my) future!

Written on 11:27 AM by Tushar Thole

C ya @ Palo Alto,CA during the summer!

Cornucopia

Written on 1:09 AM by Tushar Thole

Yeah! That’s the word!

Hopkins is a cornucopia (of assignments!)

It is just yesterday that I finished (actually stopped working would be more appropriate) my OS slab allocator project and my plate is full again!

TODO list for next couple of weeks looks somewhat like this…

- To write a D language interpreter (Programming languages)

- Hacking the keyboard driver for QEMU using kprobes ( Operating Systems)

- To write a vector IR model based Search Engine (Info retrieval)

- To start reading some papers for the independent study (I hope that it actually happens!)

And the best part is I am not complaining!

There comes a point when you start enjoying the hard work that you are doing and I guess that is the first step towards turning geek :P

Taking things for granted??

Written on 12:13 AM by Tushar Thole

It was 930 at night and it was freezing out side. I wanted to get to Varun’s place to have yet another potluck(where we ended up having a great time watching Black Friday and chit chatting) so I called for an escort van (which is a free shuttle service provided by Hopkins to its students)

The van showed up on time. I got in and told the driver where I was going. He looked at me and said “Do you have polio? (Can’t you walk?)”

It took me while to register what he was saying. I was so used to the usual ‘Thank you’, ‘Have a good day’ talk that I was taking US people for granted for being nice and friendly. And tonight I was asking for something which was my right as a Hopkins student.

Do I need to tell that the driver got the ‘right’ answer:)

Lesson learnt: Don’t take things for granted. Coz as per Murphy’s law if anything can go wrong then it will!

Epilogue :

Reply from the director of the escort service at JHU...

"We regret that you had an unpleasant experience with the Escort Van Service. We appreciate your feedback and encourage you to continue to use the Escort Van Service for your transportation needs to and from campus, within our one-mile radius service area.

I was able to discuss your complaint with the Escort Van Driver who you claimed was rude and unprofessional. The driver was apologetic and said that he wouldn't let it happen again."



Tuning and optimizations…

Written on 2:51 AM by Tushar Thole

Do you think that tuning and optimizations are useful only while writing solid and efficient code?

-You daily spend at least 10 hours in the lab apart from 3 to 4 hours of classes and practically you don’t find time to talk on phone with your dear ones. You realize that one way walk to the university takes 20 minutes and you cannot study during that time. Ideally you can but then your life officially sucks. So you use that time to make calls. Everybody is happy. You are using your time effectively.

On weekends you set aside an hour or two to make calls to most of your friends and that is the best way to remain sane.


- Indian Graduate Student Association arranges a fun evening with games, dinner and screening of the movie Sholey. The idea sounds really great and you wanna go but you have a Programming Languages homework due so you show up only for dinner.

- Indian movie club at Hopkins ‘Tarang’ screens a movie every Saturday night. It has been 4 weeks now and you have managed to watch only one movie for an hour.

- You _have_ to stock up foods for at least a fortnight as it is difficult to find an hour to go to the grocery store.

- Even though you get a lot of fresh vegetables from the grocery store and you know that it is harmful to eat ready to cook stuff regularly due to its high sodium contents you end up having maggi or likes for the dinner coz you don’t have time to cook as you have to rush to the lab as early as possible.

- You don’t mind spending the night in the lab. Sleeping on two chairs is not really fun but once you get used to it it’s not bad either.

- You figure out that there are dishes in the grad lounge apart from free coffee and the kitchen the grad lounge is cleaner than the one at your place. In short you can live there. So you carry the fork so that you can eat food there sipping (harmful) cold drinks and reading (free)(mostly techi) magazines (though you would have preferred to read any movie gossip magazine as that is the only way you will discover (mostly a month or two later) that Oscars got over or Abhishek and Aishwarya got engaged )

- You figure out that the OS project is due on Sunday and you have four days to go so tonight might be the optimal choice for writing a blog else you know that you never will.

Welcome to grad life my friend!

Love(snow) is in the air…

Written on 7:44 PM by Tushar Thole


Happy Valentine’s day to one and all!

Flashback:

When I was a kid I used to collect cartoon strips of a series called Love is… by Kim Casali. I still have a note book full of these strips in some corner of my room back in India. It was one of my prized possessions. I was delighted to see that those strips are now available as a book…a must have!

What did I do last year on the V’day ? :

Bought a book by (Robert) Love :P…So geeky!

What did I do today?:

Slept for the whole day at home… Snow storm warning were issued yesterday night. I left for the lab at 8pm and decided to stay there at night. In the morning when I was about to go for my classes I came to know that JHU is closed due to heavy snowfall! On my way back I could see it was snow every where. It was so beautiful. Had planned to go back and click the pics of JHU campus today but slept for the whole day instead. Seems a large portion of east coast is hit by snow storm. Minu sent some amazing pics. Have a look!

Fortune 100

Written on 12:42 PM by Tushar Thole

Check out '100 best companies to work for 2007' !
Interesting to see that even though Google tops the list there are only around 10 'pure' software companies in the list. By 'pure' I mean excluding the financial companies which happen to have pretty big software divisions.

Choose the one you wanna work for!....TODAY!!
Doesn't that sound like a crappy TV commercial:) ?

Life is good…

Written on 2:01 PM by Tushar Thole

It is Sunday and I am sitting in my office working on my stuff(It is not really as boring at it sounds!). Had called mom and jiji to get the update of what’s happening back home. Had been to a wonderful get together last night at Varun’s place. I had asked him to arrange some sort of gathering and around 20 desis turned up for the potluck. We had a helluva time from 830pm to 2am (That is when I left the party went on even further) watching ‘Darwaza Band Rakho’, having delicious food, playing antakashari, playfully ragging the Indian newcomers to Hopkins and dancing to the tunes of catchy hindi songs…Will cherish those memories till the spring break as we may not get an opportunity to arrange another one before that coz it’s Hopkins baby! It wont give you time to breathe once the semester begins.

In the spring semester I am taking Operating Systems, Information retrieval and Web agents, Programming Languages and auditing Transaction processing systems. Will also do an independent study with Randal on a topic in storage or file systems. Havent given much to thought to it till now.

Operating systems-

Unfortunately Shap is on sabbatical now and his PhD students are taking the course. I am enjoying it a lot coz it will be really heavy on implementation of concepts. My RA work is really paying me off now.

Information retrieval and Web agents-

David Yarowsky is good at what he does and this course is really good to learn about the vast field of natural language processing, info retrieval, machine learning, info extraction…I am happy that I wont graduate without taking a spoonful of knowledge in this exciting field.

Programming languages-

This is the second time I am taking a class under Scott. The course is really good and teaches the type system of programming languages. Scott’s website is really informative and his course is really well structured. I had enjoyed taking the course in my undergrad and hope to learn more this time.

Transaction processing systems-

Randal simply rocks! The course teaches how to go about implementing a transaction processing system including paging, locking etc and also deals with advanced database concepts such as query optimization etc. Randal’s lectures are very informative and he touches variety of topics while teaching. I will be auditing this one so that I can concentrate more on my research work this semester.

There is plenty to learn this sem and I am really looking forward to it.

Some really exciting things are gonna take place in Feb and watch out this space for more…

Jim Gray

Written on 10:56 PM by Tushar Thole

It is the night of 1/29 and Minu sends me an email containing website of Jim Gray @ Microsoft. We talk about his excellent work in area of databases and transaction processing, his ongoing projects at JHU and Cornell, his Turing prize etc. During our discussion I mention that my advisor @ Hopkins Prof. Randal Burns is doing some work with Jim. Interestingly enough one of my lab mates at HSSL works with Jim in one of the database projects. Minu tells me that she is taking a class @ Cornell with Johannes Gehrke who is working with Jim.

It is the afternoon of 1/30. Two minutes to go before my Transaction processing systems class which is taught by Randal starts. Minu calls me up to inform that Jim Gray is missing! Gehrke gave the news in the class. I enter the class and Randal does the same announcement…what an unfortunate coincidence!

History in making- part 2

Written on 7:38 PM by Tushar Thole


I landed in US with lots of hopes and also a burden of expectations that my dear ones have from me on 15th Aug, 06. Yeah, that’s the Indian Independence Day.

Well…time has flied and I have magically survived the loneliness, home sickness and tremendous pressure that Hopkins courses put on you. I am happy to see that I have got better! I am better prepared to face the challenges with a positive attitude towards life.

It is 26th Jan, 07 and something ‘overwhelmingly positive’ has happened in my life. Yeah that’s Indian Republic day.

These things tell me that no matter how far I am from my dear ones and my dear country there always is a special bond which connects me to my people.

This reaffirms my strong belief in the saying from The Alchemist _ “When you want to achieve something the entire universe conspires and helps you achieve it!

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