Should there be a ban on actors from Pak when there is tension on the border? – A citizen’s opinion

Background: The following is a series of messages in reply to a question asked in a Slack channel I am part of. The question was – What do you think of Pakistani actors being sent back to their country when there was tension at the border? A news piece on this.

While I’d love if we could all be just global citizens and forget about nations and borders, it is impractical and not going to happen in our life times at least. Utopian world, where humans have lost all imperfections in their nature, could have that perhaps.. but right now, we’re very territorial even at the individual level.

Now, when we don’t have that, we’re left with some degree of nationalism — how much depends on our ideologies and the present state of mind of the people in and outside the nation.

If we’re surrounded by those who are extremely cunning and motivated by their own interests in a way that they’re ready to harm us with their plans, what are we going to do? Forget nations, for a moment. Think on an individual level. If I am in the company of the nice folks here in this group, I will be all smiles and friendly. But should I keep the same attitude if I am in a place like ‘Bigg Boss’ or something like that, where people around me are often plotting to hurt me behind my back, even though at dinner they’re talking to me like we’re all good friends. My behavior is going to be different and shouldn’t it? 🙂 I would be suspicious, and every single time I find any of them doing something against me, I will confront and perhaps chastise that person. Maybe not even talk for a few days. Eventually, we would get to talking again because living next to one another, but it will take time and the relationship will take even longer time and much more to be as strong as it’d have been otherwise.

I understand that the national policies towards a neighboring nation that’s troublesome, aren’t exactly an extended version of how we behave individually. There are certainly nuances and some clear differences too. Yet, I feel we can take a lot of understanding as laymen that we are, by breaking it down to an individual level.

People often suggest war when there’s tension on border. How absurd! That’s the last resort. Just like getting into a fist fight with a troublesome neighbor (presuming one is civilized). It’ll hurt you both, and also your reputation on the street and others who know you.

It would be smarter to give that neighbor a ‘silent treatment’. No hi, hello.. no smile and wave. Not going to their place and not inviting them to ours. That’s the civilized way of treating a troublesome neighbor/person, isn’t it? Nations cut cultural and economic ties. Sanctions is when you’re asking even your friends to cut ties as a punishment, and that’s, of course, more hostile and serious.

So, coming to the Pakistani actors getting sent back. It may have started with a faction showing their dissent on us giving their actors work while we get hit on the border, but it did strike a chord with majority of the masses after a few days. There were people opposing it as well, and that’s understandable in a nation like India, a democracy where one can still quite easily hold any opinion (at least relatively better than many other places). I don’t know the exact details of that episode so cannot comment on who’s right and to what extent, but I believe, we, the people here, should be ready to accept it when there’s a formal decision to cut cultural and economic ties. We may not like it, because we don’t know the specifics of the grand scheme of things between two nations, but let’s take it this way — our country is just trying to give the troublesome neighbor a ‘silent treatment’.

P.S. – An interesting read on this topic is a soldier’s open letter about this issue.

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GMAT/GRE : A framework to understand the preparation required

About: I had written GRE in September 2015, and scored 331 (V165, Q166, AW5) out of 340. I appeared for GMAT in June 2016, and got a score of 770 (V45, Q50, AW5). In the post below, I try to describe a framework to understand the preparation that helps one in getting the best possible score one could get on an aptitude test.

The way I see it, there are three levels of preparation that take you to a good score on an aptitude test such as GMAT or GRE.

First is the preparation that you have done so far, during all your academic and professional life, while learning English language and solving Math problems. I believe that this decides one’s baseline score, which is what you get when you write a GMAT/GRE mock for the first time with only a basic idea of the test format (sections, time limits, question types, etc.). It is extremely helpful to know this baseline score in my opinion, so if you are planning to write GMAT or GRE, start with writing a mock test!

The second level of preparation is what you do by working on problems and questions for a few months. During this time, you would want to use all the available official and unofficial (in that order*) resources available. Through this focused practice, your goal should be to eradicate avoidable mistakes and develop an instinct for each type of question you may face in the real test. Writing mocks during this time is necessary to check your progress and track improvement in your performance.

The third level, which is often neglected by many, is preparation for the day of test i.e. ‘Judgement Day’. If you do this part well, you should be able to score at least as much as your latest mocks, if not more. How should you do it?

– It is all about being mentally prepared for the tiring challenge of 4+ hours, while keeping calm nerves. If you have actually given the second level enough time, then you know that you’re ready. You understand the test well and your mock scores are good. Use these facts. Tell yourself that you’re ready to give your best.

– Book a slot at a time that is comfortable for you. I felt that I didn’t want to overthink about it on the day of test, so I booked a morning slot. This way, I left no time on that morning for me to ponder too much about how it would go. You may have your reasons to find the afternoon slot better. Whatever it is, try not to compromise on this part.

– If you haven’t done it already, give some time to prepare for the Analytical Writing and Integrated Reasoning (only in GMAT) sections as well. While the scores on these sections aren’t considered that important, performing badly on these could affect your momentum. Why opt for a jittery start when you could have a great one?

– One section at a time. It’s like a ‘mantra’! I think it is extremely important to have this policy if you want to give your best performance. Regardless of how good or bad you think (notice how I said, think?) you did on the section you just finished, use the break between sections to make sure you completely forget about it. Take deep breaths and walk a few steps (within the area you’re allowed to, of course). I found this amazing TED talk few days before I wrote GRE, and I believe the idea of “power posing” – trying to reverse the cycle by adopting a relaxed and confident body language to feel relaxed and confident, really works. Do give this phenomenon a try.

– While it may seem a bit counter-intuitive, understand that you will not be completely sure about every single option you mark for all the questions on the test. If you have prepared well, you will certainly be confident about most of those, but it is unrealistic to expect that for each one. There are going to be some questions on which, your instincts (that you developed with the second level prep) will bring you to one option, but you’re just not sure enough. What could happen then? Most likely outcome of your lack of confidence there is that you spend more time on it. Try not to. Try to differentiate between ‘checking if I made a mistake’ and ‘want to be sure about it because not feeling confident’. Embracing a degree of uncertainty on a few of the tougher questions will help you avoid wasting time on those.

– Enjoy the test. Yes! Why shouldn’t you? These aptitude tests ask some really interesting questions. Be it the verbal or quants, both sections usually offer you questions which give you an intellectual stimulation. Sure, some of those may leave you troubled, and joy might be the last emotion on your mind at that point, but most aren’t like that. If you read each question and passage with a genuine curiosity and interest, you would find yourself doing better at comprehending the information provided and required.

I hope this framework is useful for you. All the best!

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Why are we still using Internet Explorer in the Enterprise world?

Yeah! Most of us have felt it at some point (or maybe everyday) that we should have some other browser in use at work, and not the one that is the butt of almost every browser-related joke we see on the net. And we all have our own preferences, and reasons for justifying them, in what that other browser should be. But what unites us all, is the negative feeling that we have against this one, which probably ranges from dislike to absolute hatred.

So.. Why? Here’s what I could find out.

The puzzle of ‘Upgrade now or sit tight?’

Corporate apps, that are essential to run businesses nowadays cost a lot of money. We of all people should know that, because we make many of those and that’s what we do to make money.  If these apps need an old version of IE (ovoIE) to run properly, the entrprises have 2 options: Upgrade the apps, or stick to that ovoIE. The latter is pretty clear, and the one that usually employees get to frustrate and puzzle them. But while the former seems an obvious thing to do, there are negatives for the enterprise to refrain from it as much as it can.

Why can’t they upgrade the apps? Two big reasons.

One, they cost a lot of money! You’re a company that produces chemicals, and you got some applications to manage your business and resources better. Now, after just 5 years, all these newversions/browsers have come and you’re not even sure if that app will work fine on them. If they don’t, you’ll have to spend more money (and huge amounts probably) and that is not even going to return any direct profits, just some convenience to the workforce. 🙂 “Let’s just stall it till we can, then. And focus on what brings in revenues.”

Two, upgrading the apps also would mean using newer technologies like HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript etc. These are fantastic but the downside would be that they don’t work well (or at all, in most cases),  on those older versions of browsers. So you upgrade your apps and the browsers. Go for IE 9, the tolerable one, or 10, the one that seems alright, or 11, which is looking to compete with the best out there. Great! Just one thing though, these are not backward compatible. IE 9 works only on Windows Vista and newer, 10 needs Windows 7 at least, and 11…

IE 11 system requirements

IE 11 system requirements

All this asks for system upgrades. Hardware and latest OS (on every desk!). For the bigger corporations, that means massive investments and even though it isn’t something they can avoid forever, it makes sense to avoid this till it’s possible.

Oh wait! That’s all about the new and old versions of IE. Why IE?!

Microsoft. They offer the most robust enterprise deployment management tools of any browser vendor.  In simple words, corporations have IT policies and they need to control the browsers of the employees on their network to implement these, amongst various other things like security updates. Systems are administrated centrally by the IT teams for this reason in the corporations.

Mozilla has an Extended Support Release for organizations but they’re not even trying to match up the kind of control Microsoft can offer. Here is Asa Dotzler, one of the prominent contributors of Mozilla commenting on what their priorities are.

Asa Dotzler, a prominent Mozilla contributor stated that Enterprise has not been, and shouldn't be their priority.

Mozilla knows its priorities. Enterprise, is not high on that list.

Google is in this with Chrome for businesses, but it is just not there yet. They might be a strong competition in the near future though.

Add to this, the fact that these two rollout new versions every 6 weeks, which is nothing but a source of troubles and pains for those who manage these things. This post from Mike Kaply explains it really well. And this one if anyone is interested in knowing more about the pains of System administrators and IT Support.

So, the enterprises have their reasons for keeping us on IE, and… that’s why. 🙂

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My new workout routine : Simple and Efficient

For most of us, staying fit after crossing teenage is a mission, not a given. It takes work, efforts, and dedication to stay in a desirable shape.

Unfortunately though, this point coincides with the time when we start with our careers, which wouldn’t be a problem if most jobs weren’t as sedentary as they are. Being seated for the most part of the day doesn’t go well with the declining metabolism. The effects are visible and even if we choose to ignore them, our friends and families are kind enough to bring these to our attention. Despite that, life’s other “important” causes take priority and we tend to not do much about that increasing waistline.

But there is hope. At the beginning of every year, sales of Gym memberships shoot up. We make resolutions to try and do better and plan to get fit finally, one more time. Sometimes it is not a new year, but a certain achievement that this mission depends on, for its initiation.

I decided to make such an attempt last November, after getting an admission offer from ISB. “No more excuses”, I said to myself, “Must use this time before the session starts in April”. Taking lessons from many previous not-so-successful attempts, I decided to follow a simpler plan that enables me in being ‘regular’. While it has been only four months since I started, this approach has been extremely beneficial. This is what prompted me to write this post. Here’s a brief description:

1. 20-minutes ONLY – I am not in the Gym for more than that. It is enough to complete a workout session which consists of a few cardio exercises and two rounds of five different weight training exercises with about 16 repetitions in each set. Why so short? Two reasons. First, it doesn’t leave me exhausted and therefore doesn’t affect the rest of my day, especially work. Second, and the more important one is that the small duration reduces the willpower threshold significantly. “Just twenty minutes” is what I tell myself on those days on which I am really tempted to give in to laziness and skip.

2. Four-day Routine –
Day 1 : Beast Mode – Lift up as heavy as I can while not causing any kind of exhaustion.
Day 2 : Baby Mode – Lift up only as much weights as I can comfortably i.e. about 10 pounds less than Day 1.
Day 3 : Easy Mode – Only cardio. Mostly, a combination of few minutes on the elliptical trainer and speed-walking on treadmill. I prefer it to jogging or running.
Day 4 : Rest Day. Some may scoff, but I feel it is helpful in keeping myself motivated to continue over a long period of weeks and months. A small break at regular intervals is great for both body and mind. It lets the muscles heal and build up for the future challenges. Also, it avoids the workouts from turning mundane and dull.

3. Clear idea of the goals and benefits that I am looking for –
a) Good sleep. The big one! Before I started, it was tough for me to get enough sleep. Being awake till late at night and yet getting out of bed by 7 or even 6 am almost every day caused me numerous headaches. Tired (and a little torn?) muscles is the best antidote to irregular sleep cycles.
b) Motivation to keep my diet in check. It is otherwise impossible for me to stay disciplined and not eat the high-calories foods. Even a short workout every day is enough for me to say no to those sweets, those fried, and processed foods. Wouldn’t want to let all the efforts in gym get so easily washed away!
c) Better shape. The obvious benefit one could look for but a little more distinct in my case. Who doesn’t want to fit in those body hugging clothes a little better OR who wants their tummy making its presence felt?

I hope to continue with this routine and take work-out from hobbies to habit this year, even though that may leave me juggling time between academics and all the other tempting activities at the school.

Wish me luck!

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Treasures for the mind: A constantly-increasing collection of articles and blogs

For a long time now, I have been looking for a solution for this problem: Where to keep a note of all the interesting articles and blogs that I come across? I don’t want to lose them after reading once. Although there are many apps available to store these, none of those worked for me. That is why I have decided to save them here!

The plan is to update this post every time I want to add more links and content.

Cheers!

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  1. Eleven common irrational beliefs – JD Roth’s list of irrational beliefs that we should try and avoid.
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