Monthly Archives: September 2014

Why BI professionals should believe in Aliens

I am pretty serious about this one, not because I believe in UFOs or any other extra-terrestrial theory but because as a DBA who implements Business Intelligence solutions for companies it’s hard to ignore the facts. Business Intelligence systems are all about identifying patterns and sets within existing data. When performing data mining we split the set into the actual data and test it and compare to understand if our model predicts accurately. Keeping this in mind if my query returned something like this for the population of the earth by gender

Gender

Count

M

7,599,999,999

F

1

 

You obviously know that above data is wrong, however, if you were on an island prison full of males you probably would assume the data is correct.

Now if we take the total number of star and galaxies in the universe the table looks like below

Stars

Count

No life

10000000000000000000000

Has Life

1

 

Keep in mind the above table only depicts the stars and not planets within those solar systems that are currently active not the once that are burnt out or the new ones created which we don’t know about yet. My point being that there are rules or standards for everything, even for things that seem random still follow some boundary conditions within which they operate. For example, even the roll of a dice still equates to one of 6 values not more than that and it always has a value, so nature is not random. The fact that there are so many other stars and they all have similar or explainable makeups indicate that the rules that apply on Earth also apply 100 million light years away too. So if the rules are the same then the results while seemingly random will still fit within the same boundary conditions, so we should have life on other planets as well else Business Intelligence means nothing at the macroscopic level. This would be kind of like saying what happens at the quantum mechanics level do not apply to how light can move a spacecraft in orbit and the two are not related. We just haven’t found the unifying model yet. But more on that some other time.

All it takes for life in the universe is a probability of .0000000000000000000001 and I am sure nature can manage that.

Fascinated read more about the Fermi paradox online.

Metrics vs Mass appeal? What companies probably don’t yet understand.

I wanted to ask a question today instead of blogging about a topic. To be honest I don’t know the answer to this question and that is why it is the topic for today. So the question is

When is the colour blue, blue?

Is it when the wavelength of light is between 450–495 nm?

Or is it when all the people in the world associate the word blue with a particular shade of light. If so what happens when the whole world suddenly decides to call it green?

Now, some of you might think this is a silly question so let me put it another way. When is a project considered a success? Is it when it achieves all its defined metrics or is it when it gains mass acceptance? I can already hear people shouting out that mass acceptability is one of the most important metric and should be considered as a measurable result. But real world scenarios have consistently shown that you can do everything right and still not gain mass acceptance or vice versa; also you can’t test for mass acceptability in your lab before you launch.

So my real question is which should be given more importance. Metrics or Popularity?

A simple example of this would be the surface tablet or Windows Mobile OS both of which were available at least 5 years before any competitors arrived. Both products were meeting the required acceptance criteria defined at the time but neither had a willing market. Similarly, the mobile phone market was not revolutionized when the iPhone was launched; it was revolutionized when the Android OS and Smartphone like HTC Touch came about.

You can have two products like the Samsung Core2 Duos and the Nokia Lumia 630 both of which are very similar in hardware specs but the Nokia phone has mass appeal that the Samsung phone does not. This question has resonance in a number of other fields as well, such as how to promote an employee; do you make the efficient unpopular techie who gets the job done or promote the popular laid back MBA who takes frequent vacations? Considering he is going to be a peoples’ manager, popularity should matter I guess.

Another example is the capital of Kerala is Thiruvananthapuram but almost everybody calls it Trivandrum. The former is technically correct but the latter is more accepted.

Frankly, tomorrow if everyone started calling light of the wavelength 450 – 495nm Yellack I am not sure what I would do but are you?

 

 

When it’s an Emergency, what do you do ?

I recently needed to send a courier on a very urgent basis to a friend of mine and was stuck on how to do it. Time was critical and it was a Saturday evening. I went to a number of courier services such as DTDC and BLUE DART but was informed that the pickups for the day were already completed. If I had given the courier the same day morning it would still reach the destination only by Monday afternoon. Since it was evening the couriers would reach only by Tuesday morning.

However there is one option available or those who can’t wait. Airlines often have a courier outlet at each airport. This facility is usually used by large organizations to send deliveries to their customers I was informed that companies like Madrua Fashion and Lifestyle (makers of Louis Phillpe etc) as well as Flipkart use these services. I called up Indigo since they provide a service to the city in question and are known for promptness and customer service. I was informed the departure times of the flights on Sunday and then simply need to visit the airport and fill up the required paper work.

While this option is a bit more expensive than the normal courier service it was worth it since the courier reached a full 24 hours before anybody else could have delivered it. This is more a public service post to ensure people are aware that there are options even on a Sunday.