Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Semiconductors caught in doping scandal

In what people are already describing as The Biggest Scandal of the Year, the World Anti-Doping Agency today accused several prominent semiconductors of using illicit substances to improve their electron-carrying performance. The Agency filed a report this afternoon with the President of the Periodic Table, alleging that these semiconductors willfully and with full knowledge ingested illegal substances to decrease their band-gap. Among the accused are such stalwarts such as Germanium and Gallium, but the biggest shock was the inclusion of Silicon, a veteran of the Electronics industry and the most well-known semiconductor.

Reactions varied from shock and disbelief to cynical I-told-you-so's. Arsenic, a long time companion of Gallium, said that he was shocked by the accusations. "I've known Gall for a long time, this is just unbelievable. I think the Agency has made a mistake".

A Transitional Metal, speaking to us on condition of anonymity, said that he was not surprised by the extent of the doping scandal. "It's an open secret, everyone does it. The business of modern electronics - it's a tough business, this. Fortunes are made or lost by a micro-amp difference. Can you really blame 'em for upping their electron potential?".

It's unclear what the fate will be for the accused. Germanium was already suffering from the effects of the Zener Diode Crash of 2011, and is likely to retire from the semi-conductor business. "Silicon is gonna walk away, you mark my words. The whole electronics industry is based on him - Who do you think they'll replace him with, Carbon? Nah, the big shots always get away with anything, it's the small time players who'll get punished."

The practicing of incorporating illegal substances to enhance some feature is not new or restricted to semiconductors. One of the first public examples of doping was Iron, who was caught using Carbon to improve tensile strength. Iron was further implicated in the use of Chromium to enhance its beauty. But the Group IV had an untarnished reputation till now.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The English Teacher

The Sunday morning phone call was a mini-ritual in the Kulkarni household. The phone would ring. Shivaram Kulkarni, "English Master" to everyone besides family, would look up from his newspaper as his wife of 37 years would hurry to get the phone. He would watch his wife from behind the newspaper, pretending to be indifferent, secretly listening to various tidbits from their son Keerti's stay in London. The call would last a good half hour, ending with his wife reminding him to call again next week.

There must have been something different about this phone call though, because his usually cheerful wife was looking confused. The confused expression changed into apprehension, surprise and anger in quick succession. As she put the phone down, she turned towards him with a dazed expression. "Our son", she started to cry, "Our son is in love with some English girl. Why? Why?".

Kulkarni got up from his chair, leaving his sobbing wife sitting near the phone, and went into his study. Making sure that the door was closed, he opened his private cupboard - and smiled.

Unknown to everyone, even his wife of 37 years, Shivaram Kulkarni was an Anglophile.

His love of all things English had begun in school, blossomed in college, and grown into a full-time obsession by the age of 25. He was careful though, to keep it a secret - such thoughts were frowned upon in recently-independent India. His secret cupboard was a shrine to his passion - Newspaper clippings of the queen, an autographed photograph of Ian Botham, the Union Jack, all lined its spaces. It was his eternal lament that he was born in the wrong generation - His father could have served the British Raj as a clerk while his son was able to study in England.

Emily. That turned out to be the name of his future daughter-in-law. Emily, that very English of names, its very letters conjuring up a pale white Yorkshire lass. His wife, predictably, gave in to her son's wishes - the practical realities of estranging her only son didn't escape her. Kulkarni maintained a stoic demeanor, but inwardly he was brimming with joy - his son had done what he couldn't: become British.

News came that Keerti and Emily would visit them soon. Kulkarni was happy - he would finally get to meet  an Englishwoman. He imagined having cultured conversations with her, speaking about such varied topics as the weather and Wimbledon. He read books, from Forster to Forrestor, lest he came across as uncultured.

The day finally came. "Too tan", was Kulkarni's first impression of her, "but passably English". "Namaskar", she greeted him and his wife. "How was the flight"? "It could of been better - it was literally a thousand hours long", she laughed. Kulkarni grimaced - "could have" he corrected. "Did the holiday season make catching the flight more difficult?", he asked. "Nah, Heathrow is busy irregardless of season". "You mean regardless". "Yeah, same thing".

The trend continued throughout her visit. Kulkarni couldn't believe a native of England could butcher the language so badly. "Who" instead of "whom", "then"/"than", "what"/"that" - The final straw was Emily saying "LOL" at some joke Keerti made - Kulkarni had given her an earful that day.

A few days after the visit, a dejected Keerti called to say that he and Emily broke up. She couldn't bear joining a family where her father-in-law was such a grammar Nazi, she had said. Kulkarni's wife was more than happy to send marriage proposals his way - nice Kannada girls, of course.

As he sat in his chair, Kulkarni realized the irony of the whole affair - his love of English was what drove his son's one chance at Englishness away.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Social Network Sequel to focus on PHP Programmer

David Fincher, the director of the Oscar-winning 2010 movie The Social Network, announced the sequel to the movie, tentatively titled The Social Network 2.0. At a press conference in Los Angeles, Fincher announced that unlike the first movie, which focused on the founding of Facebook by the billionaire Mark Zuckerberg, the second movie will focus on the technical architecture and PHP code which forms the backbone of the internet company. "PHP is the real hero of the story, you know. When you click the 'Like' button, it's not Mark who updates the page all over the world - it's PHP."

What if the Like button stopped working one day?
Aaron Sorkin, the writer of the screenplay, said that the exciting plot line will follow a rookie programmer in the core platform services team, fighting one of the biggest challenges of his life - the Like button stops working. "How he overcomes technical and personal problems, hostile code reviewers and failing unit test cases is a true story of the triumph of the Human Spirit. When we get to the climax, when he finally checks that fix in, not knowing whether it'll work or not ... the tension is palpable."

While most aspects of the movie are based on reality, Fincher said they had made some changes to spice it up. "No one wants to see a boring old Data Center. Instead, Facebook will be this monstrous 300 ft tall ultra mega computer. The computer would talk and respond to voice commands, it'll be so cool. Morgan Freeman has been roped in for the voice."

Fincher assured us that all source code will have subtitles
Fincher has promised that at least 250 lines of real Facebook source code will be shown on the screen. "Don't ask us where we got it", Fincher laughed. With Mark Zuckerberg officially declining to support the movie, sources suggest that a disgruntled employee might be behind the leak of source code. 'The movie will finally reveal the ugliness of the Facebook code base - the global variables, the uninitialized variables, the gratuitous hacks." Fincher declined to comment on whether the movie will be rated "R" due to multiple uses of gotos and global variables.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

PES to give honorary Engineering seat to Sachin Tendulkar

People's Education Society Institute of Technology (PESIT) today announced that they were awarding a honorary engineering seat to Rajya Sabha member Sachin Tendulkar. In a press conference held in front of the college's main gate, principal J.S. Upendra stated that this was a great moment in PES history. Stating that they were fed up with rival RV College of Engineering's incessant hyping of former student Anil Kumble, PES "invested an unspecified amount to acquire a prolific cricketer as former student". Sachin Tendulkar was the ideal candidate, Upendra said, because of his recent Rajya Sabha membership. "Now that Sachin has 100 centuries, his new ambition is to get 100 seats at institutions he doesn't plan to attend." Apart from Rajya Sabha and PESIT, Sachin was in talks to obtain a seat at the Censor board.

Sachin among the list of students
Dr H.S. Boregowda, HOD of the Civil Engineering Department at PESIT said he was honored that Sachin was going to be enrolled in his department. "Even though he will never enter these hallways, his name on the attendance register will be enough to boost enrollment". He expected Civil Engineering to surpass Computer Science at the next CET counselling.

To circumvent strict VTU rules about attendance, a 3rd year student Sachin Damdekar has been chosen as the official proxy. Damdekar was chosen because of his name and short stature. "It is a great honor to put fake attendance for such a great man." Damdekar will travel around campus following Tendulkar's class schedule."

To seal the new partnership, PESIT Sports Director was in talks with Tendulkar's agent to get him to play in the annual Mysore Road Cricket Cup (MRCC) match against RVCE. He said the match would be held at the Corporation ground in Nayandalli, which would suit the Master Blaster's batting style.