Sidak Pal Singh A Random Walk

Goals for 2017!

It’s the time of the year when it generally gets you thinking about a few pivotal questions regarding life.

What did I achieve this year? Where do I stand with respect to my long-term goals? What do I need to work on the for the next year?

The oncoming year marks the last semester of my undergraduate semester. By this year’s end, I will already be in the next chapter of life and there are certain milestones that I want to achieve. This post was inspired by Anudeep Neekant’s list of 20 by 25. I hope this medium provides me additional inspiration via public commitment. Since my birthday falls in June, it would serve as good time for mid-year evaluation. Without much ado, following depicts my goals for this year and mid-year targets.

  1. Establish a routine for having super productive days. Build rituals that power me up in the morning, have me check myself in the evening, and unwind at night. I need to find a rhythm that suits me the best, irrespective of the fact that I turn into a morning person or remain a night owl.

  2. Practice creative-cross training. Every month, I will learn a skill that’s unrelated to my studies or work. For this month, I think it’s going to be solving Rubix cube under a minute. Another task is to have a converse comfortably over phone in French with my advisor or French friends.

  3. Develop intermediate proficiency (read, write, speak) in atleast one foreign language. This may be French or Japanese or German.

  4. Completely read and understand the Sikh holy book, Shri Guru Granth Sahib, and try to understand it as much as possible. My mom’s going to be the happiest while I work on fulfilling on this goal. Bonus inspiration cookies!

  5. Get fit. Specifically, I aim to loose 12 kg. Obviously, maintain that afterwards. This one is meant to be completed by the mid-year. Meditate.

  6. Write atleast 2 blog posts every month. By this year’s end, I need to have 24 impactful posts, i.e., those that will be useful to someone even three years down the line.

  7. Code every day. Have a full green Github contribution chart. Atleast one commit a day. Since, due to unforeseen circumstances, like travel plans, or family occasions, this can be very hard to stick with. I plan to allow something which I call ‘cheat days’. These would be maximum 30 days, when I am unable to commit something on GitHub, but make a commit later for those days with modification in date. This will make sure that I stick to the habit.

  8. Win a competition on Kaggle.

  9. Competitive Programming. Candidate Master by my birthday. This will help improve my algorithmic and coding skills.

  10. In the past, I have had several ideas to automate the things around me, but unfortunately due to study or work, I have not followed upon them. Additionally, inspired by Zuckerberg, who developed his version of Jarvis, If one of the busiest person in the world, the CEO of Facebook, can get time to do that, I definitely have the time to automate things in my environment and make them smart.

  11. Likewise, I am truly inspired by Bill Gates, who makes sure to carve out time to read a book every week. This year, I plan to read a total of 26 books (fiction and non-fiction combined). Hence, complete a book in every two weeks. CS books, unrelated to current courses in school can also be included, but in this count only a maximum of six of them can be included.

  12. Do something every month that brings a smile on atleast one face and helps them to achieve something, especially those who lack the resources or are under-represented.

  13. Journalling: What did I learn today? How can I improve on my routine tomorrow? What are the 3 Most important tasks for tomorrow?

  14. Musical Instrument: Guitar.

  15. Dance: Bhangra and Salsa.

  16. Educate myself in Maths: Real Analysis, Linear Algebra, Probability Theory, Measure theory, Mathematical stats, Topology, Complex analysis,

  17. Finish an online course (separate from the Maths training) every two months:

  18. Attend ICML and NIPS. With submissions would be better!

  19. Read, understand and write summaries for a research paper every week.

  20. Establish a reading group culture at IITR.

  21. Create a secondary stream of income. (In the form of an app, video series, or something else)

  22. Watch at least one TED talk each day.

  23. Learn Swimming.

  24. Improve upon my Chess techniques.

  25. Track the time that I spend on various activities and analyse it to improve my productivity.

I have left out the descriptions of a few goals, which I will edit in some while, as I have repeatedly realized that shipping is more important than perfection!

I already feel incredibly excited imagining myself having achieved these goals. I will work the hardest to become the best person I can every day. If you have any ideas on how to further refine my goal objectives or some tips or some goals that I should give a shot at, feel free to comment them. Or, if you feel that I am slacking on something, give a shout out. I also encourage the readers to give a thought about your goals for this year and do share them in the commnents.

How to obtain transcripts at IIT Roorkee?

Transcript is a document which contains the list of all the grades you have received until now and some information regarding the grading system at IITR.

Since, a lot of people have asked me the procedure of obtaining a transcript, I thought it would be better to post this information in this manner, which would be also useful for incoming juniors as well.

Generally, transcripts are required when you are applying for Masters/Ph.D. programs or research internship programs. Some companies may also ask for it. If the application states that unofficial transcripts can serve the purpose, then you can avoid all this pain and simply send them a pdf of your gradesheets. Otherwise, be ready for a few trips to Main Building.

Before delving into the procedure, I would like to mention the costs involved in getting the transcripts. One has to pay Rs. 2500 (as of this date) for getting 10 or less copies of transcripts. So even if you need a single copy of transcripts, you have to shell out Rs. 2500. (Also, keep in mind, that this includes the postal charges for sending the transcripts at one address in India)

Step1: Write a handwritten application addressing Deputy Registrar, Academic Section and asking for transcripts. Or, you can get a print out and make use of this template provided by the institute.

Step2: Take a photocopy of all the gradesheets until the current semester. If you have misplaced/lost any of your gradesheet, you might be in deep trouble. Check with the Academic section about the current regulations and try to convince them to give transcripts first. The process of getting a duplicate gradesheet is really tedious and involves going to court and police station.

Step3: Go to the Finance Section in the Main Building and deposit the money over there. An important thing to remember is that the you won’t be able to pay in cash after 3.30 pm. So make sure to go before that. I think you can pay using cheque after that, but it may not work. Collect the receipts (one for yourself and other for Academic section) from there after the payment.

Step4: Ask some clerk about transcripts in the Academic section and hand over these documents (The Academic section usually closes at 5.30 pm). They generally say that it will take a week to make the transcripts. Though in an urgent situation, I have got the transcripts on the same day, but please don’t wait till the last moment. I would recommend you to go there atleast 7-10 days before your application deadline.

Step5: If you are lucky, the transcripts would be ready in time.

Otherwise, you may need to visit the Academic Section a few more times (hopefully finite).

Feel free to ask your questions in the comments.

Disclaimer: This procedure works when you apply for transcripts in person at Academic Section. If you have graduated, please check it with them. The author bears no responsibility for the extra walk to the Main Building, if the procedure changes after this blog has been written.

Best of luck for your application! Hope this was useful. :)

Invictus

On the first day of my sophomore year, I found a few lines inscribed on my hostel room wall in light green color. They were:

I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

Reading these lines made me curious enough to know more about it. They were actually from a short Victorian poem “Invictus”, by the English poet William Ernest Henley. Invictus is a Latin adjective meaning ‘unconquered’ or ‘unsubdued’ or ‘invincible’.

These verses were written while Henley was recovering from having a leg amputated. This period of his life, coupled with recollections of an impoverished childhood, were primary inspirations for the poem.

As a matter of fact, this poem was a source of strength and inspiration for Nelson Mandela, while he was incarcerated at Robben Island prison. He used to recite this poem to other prisoners and was empowered by its message of self-mastery. Also, the Burmese opposition leader and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi stated that this poem had inspired her father, Aung San, and his contemporaries during the independence struggle.

It continues to inspire many others because it incites the feeling that you alone can control your fate, know what is best for you and which path to choose.

This poem had really touched my heart and I wanted it to be my first blog post.

So here is the complete poem,

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.