Monday, September 22, 2008

B-ing in the train

I am back on campus! Sitting on the same old bed, and with my noise-cancellation earphones bombarding me with 'Socha hain', I say to myself "Write On!" (and also mumble, 'Socha hain..XL mumbai se itna door kyun, grading relative hain kyun, competitions hain itne kyun, zindagi mein aaram kyun nahi, Socha hain ...). Just minutes ago, my friend - a mallu chetta (brother) - asked me to minimise the use of Hindi, for the benefit of my mathrubhoomi TN and states around, but how could I sing a Hindi song with translation?

Cut to the scene on 20 Sep 9pm, when I wait for Howrah mail scheduled to arrive at 9.35pm at Kalyan station. A train called LTT-Howrah Dnyaneshwari express arrives at 9.15 and I start cribbing about Indian railways which schedules 2 trains to the same destination spaced 15 mins apart to my dad. The IR bashing continues with discussions about new trains to Amravati, open air platforms, mismanaged routes, and so on. The standard female voice (Mumbai suburban ki Ms.Ameen Sayani) announces on the speaker - "2809 down Howrah mail, platform kramaank 4 par thodi der mein aa rahi hain". i.e...arriving shortly on platform no 4.. (translating to save those few I-yam-southie-I-don't-know-Hindi-jee readers from running away). I enter the train, keep my bags with a BIG group of friends, (smiling to welcome me, as if I bought them goodies from California), wave goodbye to my parents and to aamchi (our) Mumbai and now the journey begins.

XLRI, 22 Sep : [for all those wondering why am I switching scenes, it is just to give it that Mani Ratnam's filmi-ishtyle & also to justify the randomness in the posts :)]. I see so many contest posters, PDFs and timelines being bombarded into my inbox - b-plan, papers, quizzes, case studies, and all other contests on earth (except for the likes of Indian Idle - where I would have undisputedly won). I drop my jaws looking at the prizes and the process for the final rounds - the chance to present in front of all the big names, that you have only read in pink papers (Hum rahe comic strips ke charrekters aur woh bijness page ke stars - Kaise ho payega inka milan?).

Howrah Mail, 21 Sep 10AM: I try my level best to wake up (or to be honest -not to wake up), and the pantry guy comes in with 'Khaana, order?'. After giving him the order, I wake up to find that there's no one selling coffee from the pantry. Everyone's going chai-chaiyye. We stop one guy to ask 'Coffee kab aayega?'. He replies 'System bandh ho gaya'. We look at each other wondering "Is he a laid-off IT engineer talking about systems getting de-commissioned?". We get some coffee finally, with water and some drops of milk added to coffee powder, which satisfies me as much as the movie Ashoka would have satisfied a SRK fan. Some long discussions among us, over the newspaper headlines and coverage (and including those channels which broadcast 'Breaking-news: Great Khali ke baalon mein 167 dandruff mili') follow. After lunch, we watch 3 great movies from completely different genres - 21, Golmaal, and Duck Tales (we had occasional visitors forgetting their garma-garam-samose jobs and catching up with some entertainment - we were expecting some refund for this 'service' that we provided)

XLRI, 22 Sep 11PM: We have serious looks on our faces and discuss our likes, dislikes and don't cares for the summer internship process that is due soon on campus. 7 of us then get together to have a long discussion on a group assignment-cum-plan that we need to submit by tomorrow night, and disperse with not much progress, but atleast some headway. (Poora India bhi toh aisi hi chalta hain, thoda hi sahi, progress toh kar raha hain na?). We get back to our rooms and think of working on another b-plan too. 3 of us get together in my room, and announce 'we will finish off some part of some contest now' (Wow, how planned our meeting was). One of them dozes off in the middle, with an occasional 'Hmm..' to ensure that he is not physically assaulted by the two of us. We jala-ofy our dimaag-ki-batti and come up with a few ideas, none of them 'exciting'. Then we think of ..

Howrah Mail, 22 Sep 1AM: "Plz get down. Berths 25 and 26 are ours", an old-aged guy shouts at me, waking me up from my tight sleep (happens to me everytime Rourkela arrives in the train that I am travelling). We somehow send him back to the other coach, that he had mistaken this for and then wonder why haven't we yet neared Jamshedpur (scheduled at 1.40). After a little 'research', we find out that we are 1 hour behind schedule. We sleep for some more time, wake up at 2.30, just to find that we are still running 2 hours late. Sleeping for some more time, we find out at 3.30 that it is still 20 minutes away. We keep ourselves awake for some time and realise that it is actually 1 more hour away. We give up, and get back to what we have mastered for 23 yrs of our life - sleep ! After an hour, seemingly, we were closer to Jamshedpur and get ready to reach the place that we all wanted to get into, 3 months back, but probably not that eager as of now :)

Disclaimer : The following idea is entirely fictional (actually, too stupid to be true) and bears no resemblance to the ideas that we discussed :)
XLRI, 23 Sep 2AM: "Imagine such a situation. Why can't we have an electronic chip implanted in your brain, with which you can control the time that you want to wake up. Think of all the pains that we have taken just to ensure that we do not miss the station. We could even diversify into selling the chips to all those b-school grads who crib for not being able to wake up for an 8.30AM class", I quip. An obvious reaction follows and all of us laugh at the extent of damage lack of sleep can do to you. We move from B-plan to the plan-B - close for the day . I plan to narrate the entire experience as today's post on my blog and start typing...

As an afterthought, I realise that I have to search a lot of things on the net for the assignments, but I am still writing this, and I put a screeching halt to the post.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Google's strategy - connecting the dots - II

Continuing from my previous post, here I would delve upon, how these products/features impact Google and provide it an upper hand.
Given that, it would improve its search quality, an obvious result would be increased number of advertisers. But more importantly, it gives them more media to explore. They can now provide context-sensitive ads over video and audio. Think of it, if some of the channels on youtube have advertisements, related to any product which may be spoken about in the video, users may not be that bugged at all. Anyways a similar experiment of providing video ads, on text web search is running currently. Video ads surely mean, much higher revenues as compared to the text ads that it currently features. It has also started extending its Ad platform to TV, by partnering with NBC among others, extending the media that it can earn revenues from.

One of the highly awaited developments is in the desktop space, about Google's answer to Microsoft Office. It started off with an online version, and with Google Gears, it had made it available offline too. Now, there is a thin difference between keeping a document on my desktop and making it available over any other desktop. That too, without using any space over my disk. It will continuously be looking at exploiting the cloud computing space, with other products too. What does Chrome bring in? I believe, that it is more of a desktop environment or the first step towards an office suite or even an OS rather than a browser. Bold statement?Yes, I too feel so. But, then what it is trying to do, is letting the users get used to the environment where there is nothing called online or offline. When it asks you to make an application shortcut, it makes you feel that Google Docs is an application. With Google Gears visible in the settings, the next obvious feature is to allow you, to edit it on your local machine, if you are offline. If online, publish it onto the cloud (though this feature is still available with Gears, I believe, it would extend it across products and applications over the web, in some form). The absense of all the toolbars and menubars from those windows, is exactly to make you feel so. You should never feel that you are in a browser. And with its own V8 scripting, it is giving itself that flexibility to use this prototype for future moves. There was a time when analysts were speculating a network OS from Google. With its focus on cloud computing, and all its products inching towards that, I don't feel it is an impossibility. (And, do not believe when Google says, we don't want to do it. They said the same for a browser)

Disclaimer : Though many of you may be aware of these features and its consequences, it was meant to give a small insight into the bigger picture - "connecting the dots" as I call it. Also, many of these are personal inferences, and may not be an 'expert' view of the days to come :). Do let me know of any other products/service that you feel perfectly fits into its strategy and I missed it here.

PS: As an aside, check out how Google is desperately trying to increase usage of its App platform, through this contest :)

PPS: Why did this no-nonsense post seriosly pop up? 2 reasons - a)To commemorate 10 years of Google b)To remain in-line with my description in 'about me' (look rightwards), which has been reminded by some of my readers (and who, I assume, would appreciate the same in the comments section ;) )

Google's strategy - connecting the dots - I

Many of us have started using Google's new browser Chrome, being impressed by some of its features (which I still believe have been lifted from its rival browsers). But, what exactly is the story behind its investments into this already (seemingly) stable segment of browsers. I have been thinking of Google's strategic motives for long, and with the launch of new products and talks of few more, things are getting clearer. Let me explain.

Start with its mission "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful". Most of us wrote it off as simply a way to say 'better search'. But they have been restating with every product launch of getting closer to this mission. With Marissa Mayer ans Susan Wojcicki posting constantly on their blog, about the next 10 years for Google, its obvious that they are not sitting quiet. In her post, Marissa speaks about how she would want the search engines to work upon the modes of search, media covered under them, personalization and language features to give a better user experience. When Google started with its GOOG-411, it was seen as a voice enabled search. But later they accepted that its a way to train its audio engines to recognize text withing audio. That learning may even have been incorporated in its GAudi, audio indexing feature. Now, it has added features for you to overlap captions on Youtube videos. I'm sure this is again a way to train its video engines, to 'learn'. One of the features that I was expecting Google to launch was face recognition. And here it is. This provides Google the power to train its algorithm to perfection (Anyone working on face recognition would agree that the larger the face base and the manual confirmation, the better would be the accuracy). Basically, it is employing YOU to check whether the algorithm is working fine or not. Not that their employees aren't trying. One of its patents talks about recognizing text directly in images, be it computer-generated or photographs (captured by its cameras for Street View) or a series of photographs (videos). Which means - given either an image, video or audio - and it has a way to find out information from it. Picture all of this put together. You give a search term,e.g.MacDonalds Mumbai. The search engine, of course can give you results from conventional text web(not only English language. Google is improving its translation tool to expand the number of languages that it can search, so pages of most of the languages are still available to you). It can also do it for any piece of audio (probably a jingle), or video (any MacD ad) which mentions the phrase. Any image on a website or photograph from someone's public album or an photo present in Google Maps(an image of the outlet) which contains that text is returned to you. For that matter, why should you even give a term. You could even give it some random image of a person whom you would wan't to find out (like the ones that we generally need in quizzes & puzzles) or some piece of audio, that you would want to know more about. I even believe that Google would have been working on the other facets of an audio, like distinguishing voices or finding out genres. May be useful, when you would want to find out who was the speaker in some speech that you have been hearing (or in the Indian context, which raaga does a particular Carnatic song belongs to) - it's nothing but identifying patterns. Isn't all this 'organizing world's information'? (Of course, analysts also spoke about extending it to barcodes, RFIDs and ISBNs and letting you know which product is available in which shops)

With its development in the mobile space, and providing access to all the features on the modern-phones, it is making sure that you need not wait till you reach your computer or internet to get the information. With its Android powered phone, Dream, launching just few days from now, it would want a better control of this all-important medium. Talking of personalization, there has already been a big hue and cry over the information that Google stores about its users. Using your past searches to find out whether you are wildlife enthusiast or a golf follower, would help its search engine to present appropriate results when you search for 'tiger US'. Similarly, given the location, especially, relevant for your mobile phone, it can provide you the local info accurately; when you say MacD, it would make sure that nearby outlets are presented to you. Isn't this "making info universally accessible and useful"?

This is about some of the obvious steps that it has taken in its homeground-search. For restraining the length of this post, I would be going ahead with its other revenue-centres in the next post.

Friday, September 19, 2008

No matter

My mom always used to tell me, that if you feed a roadside cat with milk 7 days a week; it would end up outside our house on the 8th day, asking for more. Thinking about relevance of this story here? Arre, roz roz hum hi tumhara yendertainmentu (trying a lola-kutty accent this time) karenge kya? Ab toh post-less day ki aadat daal lo, hum XL bhi jaane wale wapis 4 dino mein. Fir toh, my posts would be inversely proportional to the frequency of quizzes in the class. [reader: kal hi toh AB se compare kar raha tha, aaj aa gaya aukaad pe?]. I justify my stand - visit his blog today, fir kehna aake; bade aaye muh uthaake, taana marne.

Phew! So much justification for not having any masala to write today. Countdown has started for my return to the college (ok, 'institute'), just like the countdown for Chandrayaan; the only difference being, I am not that eager for the countdown to end (and upar se, mere 'take-off' se poore Hindustan ko koi farak nahi padta). For those readers still wondering, "kaam ki baat toh kuch likhi nahi, pata nahi hum kyun aaye aaj" - kyun bhai, David Dhawan ki movie dekhte waqt to apna dimaag fridge mein thanda-thanda-cool-cool karne chhod jaate ho, isey bhi aisa hi 'light-weight' post samjho. Ok, for all those still unconvinced by so much of gyaan-bachan, here are some lines(to add some 'matter' to this post) that I penned sometime back. (Rapidex saath leke baitha hoon - bahut dino baad ingreji mein likha hain. More Hindi poetry may follow in the coming days)

Strolling along the shore,
We watch the sun hide away from the golden sky
As I match your steps,
And the waves kissing your feet, recede by,
Holding your hands,
Those precious moments that we were together,
Lost into your gleamy eyes,
With a promise to make it, A Walk to Remember

Aur ye tum log sirf visit count kyun badhate ho, kabhi comment bhi kar diya karo. (Ramesh Powar ho kya? Field pe aake wickets badhata hain, runs nahi)

PS: Shhh.. No questions about the 'you' in the lines above. You will get the same old reply - imaginary' ;).

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The X-Life

I haven't put a title to this post as I start writing this. I don't even know, what would I be writing after this sentence. (I have started this post just like an under-prepared engineering student would attempt a 'Write short note on India's economic growth post-liberalisation' type questions, thinking "fatte hi toh maarne hain"). Agar Big B roz raat ko 1 baje apne adde pe posht kar sakte hain, then mein bhi apne ilaake ka big S hoon (sans the french beard). Btw, I have realised (through my gaajar chabaane-wale jasoos) that my posts have been providing some solace to the mara-hua sense of humour of many of my friends (with my own butter-naan-sense) who were being content till date with the campus jokes on few (un)popular guys/girls and others who thought knock-knock jokes were the biggest blessings to mankind. These are those few occasions which provide exercise to those brushed-twice-a-day, still hatte-khatte (note the rhyme) teeth of my beloved readers. Ok, sorry for so much dindora-peetna, but aajkal adverrtijement ka zamaana hain. As a sincere student of a marketing subject, I couldn't resist myself. [reader : huh, isse achha marketing aur publicity to Rakhi Sawant kar leti hain. Bada aaya !]

Let me share some of my experiences in the past 86 days @XL (for those who are counting from 13 Jun 2008 and finding it out to be 96 - abey, 10 da
ys toh Mumbai mein hoon na!)

[To lengthen the answer, an engineering student intentionally uses a figure/diagram/chart in his short-note :)]. Here it goes...Hostel - One of the most happening places on campus. Be it football, cricket, birthday bumps, night-outs, parties, 'dressing up' for photoshoots, those 'left-outsides' after an adventure camp (XLers know :P), aap-katar-mein-hain duologues for the washing machine (I sometimes feel - ration se chaawal lene bhi itni fight nahi maarni padti hogi, jitna is machine ke peeche daudte hain) and many more - our hostel corridors have seen it all. Talking of rooms, ultra-comfortable [;)]. Humein toh itni neend aati hain, that we feel we are enjoying an air-conditioned suite out there. Waise toh, ek hectic din ke baad, hum toh 8:16 ki mumbai fast local ke darwaaze pe khade khade bhi so jayenge (only mumbaikars can understand the big deal in this joke). And yes, we end up spending more than half the time in some one else's room (you gande dimaag! I meant spent "studying, working on an assignment, solving a case, discussing a concept, preparing for the exams" in our friend's room). Ok, I accept, some of them are (in)famous for being spotted in Girls' hostel, but that is also because, their project groups are allotted such (hehe..As if you are going to believe the previous sentence)

Food - You won't believe, the mess food is so good that I miss that now, and instead am keeping myself happy with the poor old ghar-ka-khana. (Ok, I told you beforehand - 'you wont believe'). But the food is not that bad either. On 2-3 days a week, we long for the dinners and have enough to keep us content for the next 2 days :). The rest of the days, we still have an edible variety of food. I can't tell you the entire menu, but there's one ingredient as critical in the food as the tear drop, TBZ jewellery, or a king-size bungalow in an Ekta Kapoor serial - Potato!! Still wonder why, but the people in this part of the world love potatoes. (I later realized why XL's very own band Bodhi Tree had recorded a song called 'Too many potatoes' ) [Update (Thanks, Mandar!): Paneer is another such precious ingredient that makes its presence felt on most of the days, though it comes second to potato in attendance]. Some of us are loyalty-club wale customers of the canteens (we have 3 other 'paid' joints on campus) and dosa-wala, and end up skipping the mess now and then. God knows why? Talking of canteens, the snacks are available till 3AM, and you will find students from all hostels arriving at all times to catch a bite of the-eternal-maggi (generic product-name for maggi/top-ramen - ek aur marketing jargon de maara!) aloo-sandwich, paratha, mixture, bread-poha, and the like, to be gulped with hot chai or thanda nimbu-paani.(I am still analysing the arrival pattern to find the off-peak hours so that I can get my maggi quicker, and will conclude my research this term)

That's a glimpse of the Life @ XL. Have much more to say about the course, faculty, students, extracurrics, outbound programmes, alumni, library, and loads of activities on campus. Of course, to avoid censorship from the 'stakeholders' and our media cell, (and due to my wish to keep those andar-ki-baat-hain memories to ourselves) I would not be 'revealing' any insider information or XL traditions to you all :) [you can't even buy the info black mein, unless, of course, you are a media hot-shot [shot na bhi ho toh chalegi ;)] and the money that you offer contains more than 6 zeroes succeeding the 1st digit]. Coming soon, to a screen (laptop/desktop wala) near you...

(The bell rings and the invigilator snatches the keyboard away from me. Yaad nahi woh story, jisse start kiya tha - that example of an engineering short note? [Applause] Kya weave kiya hain story ko... [reader] Tu ek din Director zaroor banega - company ka nahi, film ka bhi nahi - roadside tamaashe ka.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dissecting the reader (base)

Don't run away! I am not going to try a guinea-pig wala experiment on you, my dear reader (Kya mauka hain, apni female readers ko 'dear' bulane ka, What an idea sir-jee. [Slap]. Ok 4.75 readers have closed this window after this sentence. (Yes, you are the aakhri 0.75-wale reader ! Jao, maze se band kar lo window ko). Coming to the point, the author as usual, played around with a Google tool, to find out who were those merciful souls who visited this very blog, even when it was not being updated for so long (1 year+, to be precise. Vishy called this page, as a Moto Ad for 1 year! Hello Moto, you haven't paid me even then!! )

Surprised! Haan, tumhare is nacheez-nakameez-battameez ke blog ko tumhare siva bhi koi padhta hain. Firstly, these are those curious readers, who visit many of my friends popular blogs, and because of lack of work (typical high-paying indian IT labourer) clicks on the right pane, which has a chottu-sa link and then, voila ! They land up here. Of course, they leave the page within 47 seconds, par aaye toh sahi. In the same group lie, all those bechare readers, who see the link on my mails, orkut profile or pagalguy posts, and galti-se commit the crime of clicking it, thinking that link daala hain toh kuch achha likha hoga. Of course, they would have been as disappointed as those bookies who put their money on Bangalore Royal Challengers before IPL started. (dikhaawe pe na jao, apni akal lagao).

But the most surprising part is the second lot. (Ok, if you consider the faithful direct visitors as the second lot, let's talk about the third lot). The search engines have been sending visitors to the blog, when some of these innocently punch in the keywords of their needs. Try digesting this - The keyword great thoughts in hindi has sent in a total of around 25 visitors onto this blog. And the reason is simple - A relevant (??) post is the FIRST result on google for this keyword.[reader's reaction : What? @%#&# Ye sunne se pehle mere kaan fat kyun nahi gaye ] [author's dedication speech :- I would like to thank Google, my family, my laptop, paperwala, doodhwala, the 'imaginary' girl, train's motormen, chunnu, munnu, pappu....]. There are many such keywords which have featured on Google's page 1 results and helped the cause. (To be featured soon on 'World's worst shocking moments - not captured on camera'). Not just that, even the visitors are spending a good amount of time on the blog (which, I hope is spent reading) [actual reader experience on that day : Opens the blog. Goes away talking to his GF/BF/both/none/can't say on the phone for a looong time. Comes back to the desk. Utters "Ohho, ye @&#%^ site kisne khol diya" and closes the window]. Some of the keywords puzzle me too, and would have puzzled even the visitors (chalo, kahin toh hum dono ke vichaar mile) like 'unfair means vesit' [my college] (does it really mean?), 'my thoughts and beliefs' and 'my thoughts about me in hindi' (how the user would have thought I could help him with HIS thoughts. They spent an average of 13 minutes wondering how the post related to their search), 'hindi twisted shayaries' (hindi translation - shayari ka gala marodna), 'why blog poem' (indirect way of asking me "Why do you blog your poems?" - he knows I will check the keywords sometime), 'some hindi shars' [sic] (second result here too, below a site on Indian share market), 'anandh seshadri microsoft' (thank you anand, whoever you are, I am stealing your friends! ), 'belief, noun' (Am I so reliable? OED would hire me soon !!), 'banaya wall tiles' (!?!), 'the disappearance +seshadri' (so anxious, after a post-less year?) and many more.

Of course, there were some really cool keywords, that reinforced my motivation to continue blogging, which include - 'abdul kalam inspirational stories', 'superb shayaries' (sorry reader, for letting you down), 'motorola sharper than ever', 'are beliefs facts?', 'narayana murthy's speech at nyu', and similar 421 more keywords. Of course, if you search many of these now, you may not even see this blog on the first 2 pages, but, they would have been higher at SOME point of time, and that's why the visits (Disclaimer to clarify that I'm not lying :P). Anyways, bahut analysis done (I feel like the Aaj Tak vishesh reporter analysing why mantri-ji ka kutta is scratching his back at a 16 degree angle), let me catch some fifty winks now (25% extra sone wala hoon na, isliye the extra 10 winks). Hope to come up with some good posts (added as my new year resolution #21597), now that some people are actually wanting to read these posts. Till then, Happy reading, dear! [Slap-kick-Slap]

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Beta returns

(Kyun bhaai, hamesha Mummy Returns hi hona chahiye kya?)
Couldn't think of a worse title than this. Of course, the other cliched "I'm back" could have been there, but then our dear reader would have thought it was inspired by our 'Monty is back' tagline for Karzzz(lots of snores follow). Isse badi gaali kya ho sakti hain - being inspired by HR (arre, not the XLRI-asia's-best-wala HR), this is apna topiwala HR). Ok, before the your mouse pointer moves closer to the Close button on this window, let me get to the post.

Your friend (that's me!) is now pursuing his Yem-Bee-Yay (MBA, in a Rajini accent) in Bijness Management(BM) from XLRI, Jamshedpur. (for those who know tamil, avan yembi-yembi padikkiraan). And has completed one term of academics (results not yet out, so there's still time for being 1/6th of an MBA). Being in one of the most prestigious institutes is an experience by itself, and very difficult to put it in words (But I would still apni-jaan-pe-khel-ke post my experiences in the next few days). For now, I'm back to Mumbai, enjoying my term-break with lots of sleep and lots of khaana intermittently, like my unforgettable berozgaari-wale din.[writer is humming 'jaane kahan... gaye woh din...']. And, finally, I find some time to catch up with my friends (from a pre-historic era of dd-mm-yy <= 12-Jun-08), who were happy to find me alive, after all those 3-second ping-u-later responses from me for these 3 months. (Some even mailed google to find out, whether they have any auto-respond features added to gtalk). Ok, before the reader concludes that I was on Big Boss 2 for half the duration, let me post answers to some of the FAQs.

Q: How was Life@XL?
A: Awesome. You don't get to have a respectable time to sleep. Food is not your priority. You are constantly demeaned by your 'relative' performance as compared to those top-wale-toppers (How I wish sometimes that I had many relatives in XL, so that my relative grading would improve). You regret that you said 'call-you-later' even to your mom calling you after 2 days. You start doubting whether not being an engineer would have helped (this is just a joke, added to make the size of the list>3). And most of all, you are tired of all those you-are-2-years-IT-workex-guy? looks, as if I were one amongst those robots in I-robot, who just would have the barcode differing from others. But to sum it up in one word, (like Barney of How I Met your Mother would put it), it was LegeND-Ary (capitalized words to be stressed on). For those, who feel that this is some kind of cognitive dissonance (yes, I am doing somewhat good in the Organizational Behavior course!), you would have to wait for my next few posts that would describe THE experience. (So much to keep the audience glued. I would be hired by Star News to make ads for their 'dekhiye aaj raat nau baje' crime stories).

Q: How do I prepare for the entrance tests?
A: I would want to share my secret recipe for success - 1) Pray to God, before, after and during the exams. 2) Make sure, you send the applications at the correct time, so that your hall ticket number adds up to your lucky number. 3) Scare the maximum amount of test-takers by whichever means possible, so that their bad performance boosts your percentile. OK, on a serious note, I didn't do any of these (except point 1, which probably is the only reason why I am here). There's only a few things that I can tell you over this post. Like, make sure, you take as many mock tests as possible at regular intervals and analyse your performance thoroughly (analysis is a detailed discussion in itself; to cut it short, it is just to find out the best way possible to attempt that paper, and to find gaps with the way you solved them). If you have found where you go wrong, then you can set it right within days. Have confidence in your abilities - it is not just the aptitude, it is the attitude that matters too. I believe the only major task in these entrance test, is to identify the right questions. If you are taking more time to solve a section, then you have chosen the wrong set of questions (unless, of course, you are grossly under-prepared). Even with an average preparation, these two tips would help you easily reach the mid-90 percentiles (atleast I could get that!). Practise would take you a little closer to your dream institutes. Of course, there are many ifs and buts. But, as companies usually say about appraisals and promotions, 'they would be taken on a case-by-case basis'. I may still not be the right person to dole out all this gyaan to you, as I have not even taken so much pain as so many others have done, to get here. (I sometimes feel, my luck would even win me a Sikkim super-lotto; given the extent to which it has helped me till date). But still,I hope these pointers are of some use.

Anyways, its 3.53AM as of now, and I'm still wide awake (how I whine about not getting sleep due to acads, and I am awake even without them). So let me end this post for now. Ye the samachar aaj tak, intezaar kijiye kal tak.FULL ISSHTOP.