3 October 2013
Da Svidanya, Mr. Clancy.

It could be said, that I’m a child of the Cold War - not just because of the fact that I was born two years after Desert Storm or two months after the abortive December 1991 coup that led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union..but also because of my deep, unabiding interest in the struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union. And of course, reading spy thrillers did nothing but fuel it.

So when someone says “spy thrillers”, a few names come to mind. John le Carre. Robert Ludlum. Jack Higgins. Frederick Forsyth. And Tom Clancy.

Admittedly, one of the first spy movies I saw as a kid - Clear and Present Danger, based on Clancy’s novel of the same name. The first Clancy novel I read, at the age of 13? Patriot Games. It introduced me not only to Jack Ryan(a character I deeply admire and love - I mean, come on! The guy started off as a simple Marine, broke his back, became a stock market trader, taught naval history at Annapolis, joined the CIA as an analyst, slowly crawled his way up and became a Deputy Director(Intelligence), then became the National Security Adviser, and finally, the President! You have to like him.), but also to the world of espionage, and how it’s not always apparent who the bad guys are.

Over the years, I made it a point to read every novel Clancy wrote. I remember a time when, in high school, I ditched basketball timeslots and hid in the library, eagerly reading The Cardinal of the Kremlin, and hoping that Ryan would be able to extract Colonel Filitov, an American agent in the Soviet Defense Ministry(for the curious ones, he ultimately not only exfiltrated Filitov from Moscow, but also blackmailed the KGB chief to defect.). Or that time when I read The Sum of All Fears, and marvelled over Ryan’s brilliant plan to turn Jerusalem into an international city, governed by the Vatican, Israel and Saudi Arabia, and policed by the Swiss Guards, the IDF and the Saudi National Guard(admittedly, it was a brilliant idea.). And when I read Red Storm Rising a few months ago, and loved Clancy’s extensive work on simulating an actual war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact on the North German plains.

A year ago, I read many of Clancy’s papers on naval and submarine warfare, as well as his work on armored cavalry tactics - one of my pet projects is to use mathematical models to demonstrate the viability of his tactics. I also found out that Clancy predicted quite accurately, the heavy role of air cavalry in combat - this was demonstrated in Desert Storm, where Apache AH64s from the US 3rd Armored Cavalry were able to destroy a major chunk of the Iraqi Republican Guards II, III and VIII Corps, before ground forces moved in. It was quite apparent, that Clancy was also a top-notch military strategist, and not just a first-rate novelist. He had that very, very rare gift of being able to explain military strategy to a civilian, in as concise a manner as possible.

Three days back, I re-read Executive Orders, and was wondering where I could grab a copy of his last novel from the Jack Ryan series. I was also eagerly looking forward to the release of his next novel, sometime next year. I guess that isn’t happening now: Tom Clancy has passed away.

That sinking feeling. The realization of the passing of an era. I felt the same way when I heard that Ludlum had passed away. I feel the same now. It’s the end of an era, not just in literary history, but in military history as well.

Rest in peace, Mr. Clancy. You shall be sorely missed.

29 September 2013
MathHarbor v2.0

A few months ago, I wound down MathHarbor.com for a variety of reasons. Today, it does feel nice to say that we are back up and running - have been, for the past two months.

Our mission stays the same - numerical modeling done right, on the cloud. Our codebase has come a long way - complex, and get quite elegant. Our tech stack is more refined - something I’ll talk about in greater detail, in a series of posts. More importantly, a lot of our potential customers have expressed a great deal of interest in our product, and the number of awesome people associated with this has grown - something that proves the fact that our ideals work.

Oh, and we’re also a proud part of the Morpheus Gang - do give these awesome folks a shout out @morpheusgang !

Its a heady time. An amazing time. We’re rolling out a blog for MathHarbor where we can present interesting mathematical models using our platform. Do stay tuned for more!

12 August 2013

There was one great tomb more lordly than all the rest; huge it was, and nobly proportioned. On it was but one word,
DRACULA.

Bram Stoker, Dracula, 1897.

9 August 2013

The thing that most haunted me that day, however, as I closed my notebook and put my coat on to go home, was not my ghostly image of Dracula, or the description of impalement, but the fact that these things had–apparently–actually occurred. If I listened too closely, I thought, I would hear the screams of the boys, of the “large family” dying together. For all his attention to my historical education, my father had neglected to tell me this: history’s terrible moments were real. I understand now, decades later, that he could never have told me. Only history itself can convince you of such a truth. And once you’ve seen that truth–really seen it–you can’t look away.

Elizabeth Kostova, The Historian.

4 August 2013

Gastronome. #diary

28 July 2013

Deluge. #diary

5 May 2013
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away..

Oh, well. Don’t think too much about the title of this post. Star Wars junkie, that’s me. Always loved that line. But in retrospect, the last few months do feel like it all happened a long time ago.

Starting up’s fun. It’s one of the best things you can ever do. And that’s exactly what I did. I started up, to bring one of my ideas to life. 

The idea’s simple. Numerical computing(read: MATLAB, Mathematica, Sage, Julia, R) as a service. Cloud clusters running instances of these packages, and engineering undergrads, researchers, and just about anybody who needs scalable and cheap numerical computing, could sign up, crunch numbers, and not have to pay for expensive licenses or servers.

It worked. I got a few colleges interested in the MVP, and talks had begun for a long-term contract with them, which would have meant me breaking even within two months, and have a steady profit within three. Sounds good, right? 

But then..something just didn’t feel too right. Here I was, looking to profit from an idea I had. Nothing wrong with that. But it still didn’t seem right. And finally, one night, the answer came to me. 

Your clients, your users - they matter. They’re the ones paying for your product, your service. So you have no choice, but to listen to what they have to say, and of course, incorporate what they want into your product. Again, there’s nothing wrong with that. Such demands had already begun, in my case. But it started feeling like listening to what my users had to say, simply steered me away from my vision, of what I wanted MathHarbor to be. And that bugged me, really did.

I shut shop. Call it running away, call it a strategic retreat - I call it “not compromising”. I love open source. I love the freedom that comes with it. And I realized, that here in India, open source has issues. Nobody really pays much heed to it, unlike in the West.

Anyway. To cut a long story short. I had the good fortune to become a part of a great place, which aims to transform the startup ecosystem in India through coworking and startup event hubs, as well as a seed fund. I like it here. I get to work with, and meet, cool people, who get shit done. It’s awesome.

MathHarbor, in the meantime, will become a community project. People who actually like it, would use it..and in time, contribute to it. That feels like a much better path to me. But why stop there?

India has no concept of an open source project incubator. Sure, there are various incubators, accelerators and all - but nothing as radical as Mozilla’s WebFWD. I want to build that up here. There are so many people out there, across colleges, universities and corporate entities, who’d love such an accelerator. So, in the next few months, I plan to do exactly that. Build up an accelerator, help open source projects with mentorship, contacts and if needed, a bit of funding, and help them get off the ground. Oh, and if you really like the idea and have suggestions, or would like to be a part of it, please feel free to tweet out to me @rudimk.

Here’s to building up an ecosystem that fosters innovation and entrepreneurship. The last few years have been amazing for startups in many parts of the world. It’s time to have our own success story, across India and South Asia.

18 March 2013
Can I “trust” you, Google?

Once upon a time, techies like me looked up to Google as a paragon - yes, a paragon of the open source movement. The one company that would keep making awesome products, no matter what.

Bu recent events seem to prove us wrong. Google’s outright refusal to fix load-balancing issues on App Engine, its decision to kill Google Reader..well, really makes us wonder. At this point, I know 4 other entrepreneurs who were about to use Google’s infrastructure for their products - Google Apps, App Engine, Cloud Engine, Checkouts - and now, we’re all wary. What if Google decides to pull the plug on them, sometime in the future?

I understand and agree, that nothing sticks around forever, especially in tech. Having said that, it’s reasonable to say that infrastructure stacks like Amazon, Rackspace and Azure will stick around. Why? Because of the level of commitment and investment that their parent companies have demonstrated. And that, may just prove to be Google’s killer - we’d always gravitate towards a service provider who shows that sort of commitment, even if the service is not what we really want to work with.

13 March 2013

via High Scalability

12 March 2013

via High Scalability

11 March 2013

via High Scalability

8 March 2013

via High Scalability

7 March 2013

via High Scalability

7 March 2013

via High Scalability

5 March 2013

via High Scalability