Stock Market Craze

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Tathva, is being held as a techno-management festival this year, and as a part of the “management” part, there is a “mock stock exchange“. The game started at 3 pm yesterday, and the whole campus has been hooked to it since. Two and three are crowding at each computer terminal in the digital library and the computer centre, closely following how they are doing… I was able to get a machine to log on just because I came before the “trading” started for the day. I’m winding up. If looks could kill, I’d have been dead by now - by the glares I get from people who are unfortunately denied a terminal because they were late - when they see that I’m doing something other than the stock market…

The Little United

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I’ve been an ardent Manchester United supporter since 2003. The club went through rough seas during the summer of 2005, because of the protests of the fans against the takeover of the club by an American businessman called Malcom Glazer, which meant that the club – which used to represent the common man of Manchester, and had a great heritage and history – was now going to be run according to his whims and fancies, for his profit. At that time, I heard that a few fans who broke away had set up a new club in the lower divisions of English football, but then I forgot about it.

Then sometime last year, I happened to read the wikipedia article about FC United of Manchester, purely by chance, and I’ve been in love with the little football club ever since! I learnt that the club started out in the tenth tier of English football, and even secured promotion in their first ever season. What’s more amazing is that their attendance is much more than even some league sides!

FC United represent the true community spirit. With the commodification of football in the nineties, many faithful supporters of Man United were priced out – they had to shell out a good part of their income to watch their team play, and with the takeover of Glazer, they simply refused to cough up money to contribute to his profits. The drop down to the lower divisions meant that there would be no more Premier League or Champions League football, but who cares? They had a team of normal human beings to watch, people who played purely for the love of football, and not spoilt “professionals” earning a hundred thousand pounds a week… and it was affordable. FC United fans just love it.

The standard of football’s not bad, either. Thanks to the digital age, an isolated fan like me can actually watch their match highlights on the internet(albeit from last season’s archive)! And today, for the first time, I listened to the live match commentary broadcast on the internet, on their site.

Filter Characteristics using Phoenix

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I got this idea when I was sitting in Abhilash sir’s (Signals and Systems) class last Friday. So far, he had taken us on a journey into the world of Signals and Systems on a vehicle which was the simple RC network. We had seen the response of the system to and impulse, unit step and exponential excitations (More about that later…). Now it was time to look at sinusoidal inputs, which can be expressed as a combination of complex exponentials. I’m not going into the details, but the fascinating thing is that now, the (steady state) response of the system is nothing but the fourier transform (which I now understand to be an estimate of the manner in which energy is distributed among the different frequency components in a signal) of its natural response!!! And if you changed the frequency of the input signal and plotted the amplitude of the response, that’s nothing but the frequency response, or the filter characteristics of the system.

From the equations we deduced that the RC network was a low-pass filter. It would be nice to be able to verify it, and I think it can be done easily enough using Phoenix. Just write a loop to program the waveform generator to a sine wave of varying frequencies, and measure the corresponding amplitudes (and plot!). It can be done for different networks and we can deduce which one is the best filter and so on. Though I didn’t see a function for measuring amplitudes, in the Phoenix manual, I think it can be done with a loop and minus5000_to_5000(). Got to test it as soon as I can.

Cricket Crazy!!!

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That’s what this country is!

My passion for cricket ended when I became a football fan. That made me realize how boring a game cricket is. And it’s a full day wasted. In the language of Maths, cricket is a discrete time game. There are just 600 points of interest (balls) during the entire (one-day) match. The rest of the time, in between, is for bowlers to walk back to the start of their run-ups, field positioning, advertisements etc. On the other hand, football is a continuous time game. It’s 90 minutes of non-stop action.

But all that didn’t stop me from taking part in the euphoria yesterday. A common room with perhaps more than 200 people meant that the atmosphere was just like that in a stadium. It didn’t matter that India were hanging on thanks entirely to good luck - Anderson seemed bemused by the numerous edges that flew to the boundary when it looked as if India were done for - every run was cheered. And the room just exploded when Uthappa scored the winning runs. Everyone was dancing and hugging each other and giving high-fives. It was all about the atmosphere. Pity I won’t be able to experience it come Saturday, for the final one-day, the decider, at Lord’s (I’m going home this weekend).

Everything said, I still maintain that cricket is a dumb game…

A world without laptops…

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First sessionals are over. The exam season squeezes all inspiration out of you. That’s why I had nothing to write over the past few days. At hostel, everyone was celebrating the end of exams by watching movies late into the night. It was past midnight, and I was lying in bed, trying to go to sleep, in the midst of a cacophony of sounds emanating from the speakers and woofers in rooms all around and wondering if I was the only person who had a class at eight the next morning. Most people here spend such a great portion of their time watching movies and playing games on their laptops, that I wonder what all of them would do if their laptops disappeared one day… what a pathetic situation that would be…

Sheer Class of R K Narayan

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I’m reading a book called “The Writerly World”, which is a collection of short essays written by R K Narayan, about topics ranging from umbrellas and coffee, trains and religion, to clothes and waste baskets. It’s amazing how he has created  such witty essays out of seemingly unremarkable objects.