My MS Experience

Each one of us Dream of achieving something great in our lifetime.  “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”, though it is a old school proverb, it still holds good!.  We do lot of planning for our mission and vision statements.  Seriously, are we really concentrating on achieving it??. Well, there are many reasons to step aside and say NO.  To top it, we justify it by giving reasons which only boils down to laziness, lack of planning, etc….. But the instant when the spark ignites, nothing would stop you in achieving it.  May be the vision or mission statements may change in the course of time, but the ultimate reason behind achieving the dream will never change.

There is a famous quote by Tom Landry which I would like to recollect, which says “Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan”.  My short time goal was to pursue MS and I did lot of groundwork to take this decision. Now that I decided to pursue my MS, I wanted to explore all corners of the college life, integrate it with my professional career and my personal life to make some big noise to accomplish my dream.

Now, you might ask me a question stating “What’s the big deal or What’s the stake or What’s the difference”.  Yes, even I had the same question in my mind.  So, I went exploring things differently in my college and I always had this charm to shine. And to my surprise, My college allowed me to do that.

Most of you would agree that, returning to the college after a spending sometime in professional life is always a different feel.  Most of the things which we start to cherish back.  To name a few,

  • Holding the pen back to write notes, assignments, exams, etc.. Oh God, seriously not a easy task when you haven’t touched the pen for a long time.  You will definitely experience the pain in the wrist.  But, you have to cope up and you will.
  • Carrying books and laptop to college. What to say about this, its a different feel altogether!!! not the one you really did in your college, in simple words – Not a burden anymore.
  • Sitting in the class.  The first feel that comes is, “Dude, give me a break!!!  I can’t sit more than an hour in the office training sessions and you expect me to sit for long hours in the college”.  “Yes, I know who you are, I will definitely give you break after each hour in between the classes” – this is Lecturer’s response to your query.  But sitting long hours in college will not be as tiresome as sitting one hour in the training session.  You can trust me on this and bank upon this statement.
  • Forgetting weekend and enjoying the college time.  Yes, you will have tough time when you remember that you are messing with your weekends.  But its worth it.  You feel more relaxed spending time in college with your new friends and sharing knowledge/ experience all the time, than sleeping all day in your room.
  • Lush Greenery and Breathing fresh air. To feel this we drive our cycles, bikes, cars to various locations every weekend and to stay relaxed.  And here, its a complimentary.  You will enjoy walking  in the campus, standing under the trees and chatting with friends, sipping a cup of coffee or eating your favorite samosas in the canteen with friends, enjoying the cool breeze, feeling the rain with a coffee, listening to birds songs, away from traffic and vehicles sound, etc…
  • Sharing a drive in bikes and car. In office perspective, its a pooling stuff,  but out here its not.  No boundaries and no tensions!!!
  • Bunking the class.  Does that ring a bell??? Thats right, you can bunk the classes, spend that time for a movie, go out for cycling / trekking / marathon / long drive or spend time with your girl friend / wife / family / children / friends, company outings and last but not the least go to office 😛 .
  • Lords of Last Benches. Sitting in the last benches, snatching the tiffin box and eating in the breaks, taking snaps of the sleeping lords and silently making noise in the watsApp group during the class hours, … aah no limits 🙂 !!!
  • Presentation and Seminars. Oh man how can I forget this.  You will literally get the chance to hear those beautiful words which will make you laugh while giving the presentations. To name a few “oh hoo”, “really”, “atala vithala dhoom thalaka”, etc…
  • Back to sports.  How many of you really felt this – “Back in my college days, I used to play a lot, now I hardly find time to play”.  I bet 100% vote for “yes”.  Now you can urge to bring your form back.  Name your sport – cricket, football, basketball, table tennis, etc…
  • Fun Fun Fun, no boundaries. All of a sudden you will feel that you are out of the professional jail. Being in college is like Hip Hip Hurray.  Walking in the college campus again, being one among the crowd with college students in the campus while walking, cherishing & enjoying the gossip fun, making fun of everything.  Believe me, you will forget that you are a professional and tend to act like a college guy.  Though you will not go beyond your professional ethics, you will a matured person enjoying the college life.

Seriously, I revive this saying – “College life is Golden life” and guess what ??? I am Back.  Better dont mess with me 😛 .

Ok, thats enough of fun.  Lets talk about some serious business, after all we are here to spending lump sum amount and messing with our weekends.

What did I Achieve so far ????

  1. Photography is my passion and I got a chance to participate in photography contest in my college and I won the 1st prize YAY!!!.  Check this link for more details- http://www.pinterest.com/ramesharpu/my-collections/
  2. Published a research paper in ACM SIGSOFT which is a dream come true –  http://goo.gl/n6v3ik
  3. Started back doing my open-source projects which had been pending from a very long time
  4. Time Management – Effectively utilize time for day to day activities, work pressure, college, assignments, paper publishing, family & friends, hobbies and last but not the least to take care of your health.

I would wish to throw some light on the above details.

Publishing the paper:

Publishing a paper in an internation journal is not a easy task.  It requires lot of work, time, dedication and most part abundance of patience to read / write / edit.  When my visiting lecturer Mr. Clarence said you need to write a paper, most of them were against it except few (I was one among them to say yes though).  Finally, he made us write the paper though 😛 .  So, Mr. Clarence asked me if I can write a paper on Recommender Systems, I was very happy to say yes to him.  But the concern I had in my mind is

  • How am I going to write it, as I do not posses any prior experience.
  • This topic is very much new to me.  It deals with Data Science, Machine Learning Language algorithms, etc.. which is totally new to me.
  • Given the time constraint, will I really be able to do it??
  • Alas If I do it, I will have my name in an International journal which is a pride “Another feather to my cap”.

So the very next question which i posted to Mr. Clarence was, I can try this but I need your help big time.  For which, he prominently answered as “Yes, I am with you”.  And seriously guys he was approachable even in mid nights.

To start this journey, the first step I had to go through is -do lot of groundwork, which includes

  • Surfing the web to see how to write a paper.
  • What are the do’s and don’ts while writing the paper.
  • How to improve the vocabulary in the sentences.
  • How to get the papers reviewed.
  • What is citation and how to add citations.
  • Different formats for different publishers.
  • What are the contents that needs to incorporated.
  • So on…

The next step was to get to know what exactly Recommender System meant.   Initially Mr. Clarence shared 2-3 links on this subject which were really good.  But I wanted to be independant on my own to understand this concept and write my paper.  So I started to read different papers related to Recommender systems from various publishers like IEEE, ACM, etc.. and google many pages for articles, watch many videos related to this topic which includes videos from facebook, twitter, linkedin, amazon, etc…

But in the course of time I had done so many things.  When I look back and see

  • I had surfed more than 1500 papers.
  • Read around 200-300 papers.
  • Short listed around 60 papers.
  • Started writing my paper by stretching long hours in the night (Believe I have sometime not slept for 3 days and in some weeks the overall sleeping hours were just 8hrs.
  • When my paper got accepted,  I had to undergo rigorous editing work for my paper.  As far as I can remember it was around 14 rounds of email exchange and not less than 500 review comments.

OMG what a hard time to go through.  Believe me, I had even felt why the hell did I take this task.  But the results were worth it.  During those times, only one phrase was getting boomeranged in my mind “Any goal worth achieving involves an element of risk”.  Lastly I would like to thank Mr. Clarence for all the support he rendered to me to make this a great success.

Open-Source Projects

Well I had been investing long time in working with open source community like deltacloud, aeolus, manageIQ, java, python.  But I always had this urge of starting an open source project.  Due to the time constraint and work pressure, I had minimal time to start one.

After joining MS, I got a chance to start it again.  As there are semester projects to be completed, I choose doing it in the open source way and I literally completed my projects.  Within short span i could accomplish so much

  1. Employee Time Tracker System – Completed
  2. Sprint Project Tracker – Completed
  3. Centralized CPU monitoring System – Inprogress

Well, I would like to share one good thing here.  When my classes started, there was a subject called “Data Structures” handled by Mr. Jibreal Jos.  Way back in my college days I had just programmed the basic pointers of C-language.  But Mr. Jibreal did expose us a new way of learning them.  I still remember the excel exercise he gave us an assignment.  It was one of the best assignment.  Now I do remember how sorting works and can program it any language.  And did I miss out to tell about him.  He is a hardcore techie and he blogs.  If you are a blog reader then, do peek into his “Joy of Programming” @ http://zingprogramming.blogspot.in/ and “Emerging Trends in IT” @ http://emergingtrendinit.blogspot.in/ . He really explains things in a very simple way and gives many tips as well.  He once said in the class, to go through few books like volume 1, 2, 3 of “The Art of Computer Programming”, “Data Structures – A pseudo code approach”, “Data Structure through C” by yashwant kanethkar, etc..  He also suggests to peek through logic’s on which operating system and coding language are designed.  He is right,  the operating systems architectures were designed way long back in 80’s and still nobody is able to code better than those guys even today and still remains untouched & unaltered.

After reading few of them, I can proudly say that, I have changed few of my coding styles and logic building techniques.  Thanks you very much Mr. Jibreal for all the guidance and the knowledge you have to us.

Time Management

Instead of me telling this, you can imagine how I am managing my time 🙂 .  Initially, the first question i had in my mind was, “Am I messing up my life??”.  Answer is a big “YES”.  After all, I had taken this call to achieve something big.  So did I mess up with my sleep, profession life, college life and personal life.  But, I did bounce back and now, I am able to manage all the things and enjoy every bit of it.  Not to boast, but I make sure that I finish off my work in time, spend extra hours (if necessary) to learn new things, ask questions to the concerned person whenever needed, etc…  I have managed to maintain dedicated hours to all of the work and seriously, I don’t maintain a timetable for this 😀 .  And I have made a point to make sure I never miss to exercise my body & mind.  Either its yoga or meditation or simple stretching exercises to Gym – No Compromise on that.

Last But Not Least

On monday’s when you are back to office, people tend to ask “How was your weekend”.  You can proudly say “It was Aaaawesomeeeeee”. Going forward they will not ask you this question because, You will always be on cloud 9 and people will start envying your freedom.  Trust me, you will experience it for sure 😛 .

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