Checklist for H1B Layoff

It will not be surprising if I did not create it, thanks to close to creating checklists at work. Because this checklist got 174 likes in the group it was originally posted. I am adding it here for reference.

If you are H1B who are laid off

1. Ask them to keep you in payroll until end of severance pay
2. Ask for last day of work per H1B
3. Ask if they can transfer you to another country office if they have any
4. Ask if they can permit you work in reduced work load (part time) H1B so that you can get time in the USA to find a new job, reason with them that 60 days to find a job in these times is a challenge
5. Ask for employment verification letter to be used in later immigration paperwork
6. Ask for point of contact for all questions after layoff
7. Get recommendations from co-workers in LinkedIn
8. Get atleast 3 references’ email and phone number, check with them if they will act as reference for your job search. Thank them
9. Go fast in job search app-ing and networking, and contacting recruiters in your field as fast as possible
10. Keep up the good hope and defer payments for car, house/rent, credit card, insurance by calling each of them and tell them of the situation
11. Be ready to add a trusted person’s name on car/house so they can handle any later sales, in case you have to exit
12. Look for Change of status (COS) option to F1 or B2 anyways.
13. Be positive

 

There is one more point to be checked, which is the most important one.

14. Health insurance

Companies would mention COBRA as an insurance program that can be used during the unemployment period. This can be used for the limited period that will be mentioned in your severance and COBRA accounts. This may be used as an option, until a better one opens up with another employer who will sponsor H1B visa through transfer/ consular. Since this varies from person to person. It is tough to say.

If you can get on spouse’s  or other insurance, it is better to  get on to that. If company is opting to pay for the premium during COBRA. That is also an option. Important factor is to call and check with the insurance company and see if you have to enroll and make any payments. This will take a lot of patient conversations.

Options when India is Locked Down for USA H1B Visa laid offs

Disclaimer: These are only random collected data from here and there. Refer USCIS website for correct information. Use attorney for legal options. The following is written for my reference.

Change of status: You do not accrue illegal presence when change of status is pending

Link to I-539 : https://www.uscis.gov/i-539

  1. H1 to H4 : If you have a spouse on H1
  2. H1 to F1:  If you get I-20 (certificate of visa eligibility) from a school
  3. H1 to B2: Change to visitor visa, start date to begin right after H1 grace period ends\

It is unfortunate to see many Indian website publish false news on H1B laid off and extension period. Always check USCIS and other Government websites for correct and up-to-date information.

Mount Meru and Vedic India – a missing link rediscovered

Modern science vs Vedic literature hits and misses at various points of existence. Yes Vedas do not say that Beef is not to be eaten. It also does not cite any protests or revolutionary rise and fall of power based on Beef consumption.

However, a commonly used section of routine traditions refer to India as Jambudweep which is located South of Mount Meru. While wikipedia lists Mount Meru as a mythical mountain of “Hinduism”, “Buddhism”  and titled Mount Meru in Tanzania. Thanks to Google and some inputs we have this revelation here.

Capture

Mount Meru near Kilimanjaro.

“The Indian Vedic Civilization, after all, might have evolved in today’s Kenya. There is little reference to Himalayas in Vedas while Mount Meru is of immense importance. Mount Meru is defined as the centre of the earth too in the references. The Mount Meru  which is close to a geographical area named Meru meets most of the characteristics of Mount Meru of the vedas. Further, if you look at the world map in 2D, Mount Meru indeed is at the centre both in x and y axis. It has been scientifically and convincingly proved that Himalayas was formed by the pressure on Asia from a fast moving India (at a geologically fast speed log 2 cm/yr), which broke away from Gondwanaland leaving behind Africa and shut out the Tethys Sea (the remains of which is the Pangong Lake in Eastern Ladakh).

There are plenty of common man references in wikipedia.

For a continental drift animation showing the formation of current India and the Himalayalas go here

A close contender to be Mount Meru is Mount Kenya. You can see the three peaks of Mount Kenya when you land at Kilimanjaro Airport and find marine life at an incredible height of 4000 m in the Pangong Lake.

All the functions in Hindu theist traditions start with a ‘sankalpa’ in which we give the location of puja as ‘meroho dakshine parshwe’ (south of Mount Meru) and ‘jambudwipe bharatavarshe bharatakhande’ preceding the ‘meroho dakshine parshwe’ on which the jambudwip could be part of the old unbroken continent called Gondwanaland.

 

When Internet of Things meet Internet of Humans on the same network

This occurred to me during an invited talk presented by Dr.Filippo Malandra in EE701: Internet of Things course in University at Buffalo taught by Dr.Zhangyu Guan.

Among many things presented by Dr.Filippo Malandra, there was this point that the IoT devices meet the normal LTE network for access to Internet. IoT devices do not have their own networks. This can easily add more load to an existing base station (eNodeB). Problem with the eNodeB not able to withstand this kind of incoming data communication and resource request can in turn demand a higher resources capable base station upgrade. This is a possibility.

IoT Devices can be predicted to infiltrate the urban landscape more than a rural area, because the wireless ecosystem is pre-exisitng for these devices to thrive. Also, according to United Nations 68% of world population will be in urban areas.

North America is less urban than other places in the planet

Hence, it may be easier to deploy and control IoT devices that are expected to be in urban areas. For example the San Francisco Bus Signs, which are LTE enabled but due to its display eats more power for working that an IoT expected to. The wonder of having all the data in place is the tech-enablement achieved, for example with some effort it is a do-able thing to have the bus stop sign board at home. But the growing urban areas in the world are not tech-enabled? And who owns the right data in all these upcoming and existing non-tech enabled highly urban areas. If the taxpayer does not have access to public utility then innovations for a smart city may be limited.

It is also seen that the area of urban areas keep increasing. In an urban environment we can expect anything from bus stops, traffic lights, street lights, smart meters for water, gas, electricity etc (may be electrical vehicle charging stations also) which are stationary and GPS trackers and other vehicular accessories like Electronic Logging Devices, Vehicle Gateways and so on which are mobile. A traffic passing through the city can be expected to have atleast an UE ( User Equipment, a.k.a cell phone with LTE internet access , in common parlance) to navigate and / or communicate. There are mobile and stationary users at any given point in a network with IoT and UEs. IoTs are mostly, low power communication devices that periodically / at a set schedule / at an alert trigger communicate with the base stations (a.k.a cell towers). If a planned roll out of IoT to enable smart cities, that can be expected in most smart city projects, is performed then the data traffic is mostly predictable with current urban cell usage patterns. To give an example, Smart cities M2M (Traffic Characterization and Performance Analysis) was demonstrated by Dr Malandra for the city of Montreal, Canada. If this is for a city Dr. Amarjeet Singh is working at a building scale for building utility monitoring. 

However, lack of co-ordination brings headless chicken phenomenon, as elucidated in this article “Your Navigation App Is Making Traffic Unmanageable“. The workaround is possibly a collaboration with urban decision makers and technology provider. Here, IoT vs IoH (Internet of Humans) pose a management challenge. Technologically it is feasible to have different networks for IoT and separate it from IoH (Internet of Humans). Like other technologies that were initially restricted to specific groups, the glory of the stupid wars, that propelled technology race and gave everyone access to cell phone and internet, an open to public use network is preferable. Money will follow. Services will improve. But unlike, posing a direct challenge to the current traffic management system like the article mentions above, IoT and IoH can co-exist for a symbiotic relationship, with a feedback loop to enhance and enrich each other. IoT enables services for the IoH and IoH can provide data to be mined for patterns. These patterns of traffic, can then be studied for predictive modeling. Event alerts of scheduled programs such as AT&T Park Baseball event still needs to gather the incoming traffic patterns to cater to the imminent users of the local network. Where more traffic is expected to congest network, network congestion mitigation programs are already available in terms of mobile eNodeBs to cater to the increased need.

Machine learning and AI predictions on data mined help some prediction as to what would be the ideal time to start operating the base station towers. It is economically important due to the energy usage of these stations. Based on subscribers quality of service experience base stations may be added or removed. User needs may be directly related to the population density and assuming market penetration data availability and existing number of registered user nodes in an area. Data-driven approach helps in putting up towers. Assuming all of this is taken into account. What is the best data on urban population? Is it census survey, count number of registered subscribers and then predict the variance in subscribers and requirement? That task seem to ask for in-depth  analysis and optimization. Alright, then that is Internet of Human Things. Ever dynamic and moving. Machines are used to do repeated tasks without boredom, so machines must be predictable in data usage patterns. It must be fairly certain to predict M2M traffic data.

Consider the case where an incoming fan-car having 4 users connected to same network looking forward to watch their team’s match.  When they start from their social media data, it can be predicted that they will be going to the stadium. Their start and endpoints are known. Number of users entering the new base station is known. From their drive speed and distance, time of entering the new base station is predictable. Their resource requirement (4 user equipment) is predictable, because 4 UEs traveling together at same speed must be in same vehicle. Location is also predictable by cell signal and received signal strength indicator (RSSI values).

With multiple data sources channeled and used for training and testing on-demand base stations can be optimally brought in started. From multiple datasets such as current traffic data, previous data, IoT network data, and on demand LTE data, data-driven optimization can be arrived at. Optimization problems can fall under optimizing each or all of the following – (1) Time of travel (2) Distance to travel (3) Optimize maximum permissible number of users on a road , just like rooms in university have Fire Marshal‘s code. (4) Decide who will be routed normally and who will be re-routed. This provides an interesting service in terms of (5) priority routing for Government heads, VIPs or possibly commercialize the priority routing through E-ZPass kind of system. This will also enable transportation managers to look at improving and expanding routes and roads based on data and have better road-routes and better traffic usage. Thanks to all the network connected devices feedback information on usage patterns and effectiveness of implementation will be an API function call away.

Multi modal transportation scheme was explored in Smart Columbus project. But the fun of being human is to be unpredictable. There may be group think. What if everyone decided to use bikes and congest the bike traffic lanes instead of cars? Internet of Human Things can disrupt traffic and cause confusions in machine predictions. As mentioned in this article Your Navigation App Is Making Traffic Unmanageable. Human dependence of traffic apps will cause problems when it does not take into account number of users of the app and physical road traffic bandwidth, on top of which the city was never planned to have much traffic in residential areas. So, how do we know which is better human learning or machine learning.

Machine learning is only as good as the the quality of data fed in and the amount of training it can undergo. It is a good argument when a self driving AI car can claim that it has undergone training with more number of hours of driving than humanly possible. A robotic traffic pattern enabled by self driving cars will definitely add safety to the roads. There is no random acceleration or breaking. There is no random decisions to visit places in yet another random  fashion like humans do. Good urban infrastructure solves the problem that it created in first place, by bringing people in without planning. In planned cities if resident population is controlled then IoT traffic and IoH traffic may look very similar due to its limited mobility.  It will not be like a random platoon of motorbikes passing through the city to celebrate “motorbike day”. Model predictions will fail miserably if it tries to follow traffic patterns of college student’s motorbikes in India. Just like a new born, machine learning needs a cradle to learn and what is better than letting it run on less dense cities in North America. It will no doubt grow better everyday in predictions and be adopted elsewhere as other urban areas start to adopt this “humanly-challenged” machine learning algorithms and associated platforms. When Internet of Things meet Internet of Humans on the same network challenges are interesting and solutions give rise to new services.

 

Monarchs of the modern world, a wild fantasy of United States media

If you are like me, working with engineering skills and observing the ever-growing technology world. Then it is easy to see the elephants of the technology world, through regular media, who indulge in providing with thoughts and reasons of the champions running for the cause of technology. However, being an observant, for some time, will showcase the poverty of the media, where they stick with one person and keep boosting their news and opinions.

Historically, we can see from the US media lens, which shows to the world, of its unquenchable thirst for development in technology and focus on technology leaders. Listing the last three can clearly give us an idea- Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Elon Musk. One may argue that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were co-existent in time. They way they were projected directly seem to depend on their influence on the industry, which may be correct. While Bill Gates changed his role from being technology leader to charity after Microsoft saga. Steve Jobs was prominent in media.

Google Search Trends for Bill Gates is here.. to help us.

Comparison of Monarchs

Google Trends shows us the popularity of the searches. Here I am comparing three names and the peaks for red (Steve Jobs) subside peak for blue (Elon Musk). While being alive may be a factor to create news. It is also noted, that co-occurrence is not. We do not find a Yellow peak anywhere in last 5 years.

Media therefore projects a single leader, as a representational head or say Monarch of the technology world to be followed. That is a trend with US media atleast. Elsewhere, we can discuss about politicians, while here my concern is about the technology leaders. Having paid/unpaid media projection of a single leader, is not conducive to the environment of technology industry. How many companies exist ? And work hard every second to bring new technologies and utilities to the smart-phone carrying person (not a common man). Some appear in media, some do not. However, the US media seems to be programmed to project a higher level of focus on some select individuals. So is Steve Jobs a role-model for the young teenager who wants to start a company? No, human mind is super-industrious, it will find its own way to its destiny. With media or no, there are amazing levels of talent and great unsung leaders at every desk. They need no media. Their work shows their spirit. The best a young techno-entrepreneur can do may be sit up straight, avoid the mainstream media to remove the unwanted influence of the modern monarchy in their current work, and slog away in their paths to success.

The Holy ration card : unique document of Indian Family Value

I am unaware of any other legal, Government issued document in any part of the world which lists the names of family members and gives them the title of “Family” other than Ration Card.

Ration card thus stands as a  unique entity in this broken world of divisive parochialism and stitches the basic fabric of society called Family.

Talking with an American, not native of USA, but American by citizenship, there was this question of why people stay as boyfriend – girlfriend till eternity. There is no reason why they would do so if the relation is otherwise equivalent to husband-wife. The reason being

1. The potential risk of divorce, which can make the lawyer become monetarily higher (richer) and burns the bank account of both parties involved. The incentive of reduction in taxes does not help much in that case. However, this highlights a greater problem in foundation of the relationship, which is not secure and prone to divorce.

2. Prohibitive cost of wedding is cited as yet another source of the problem. I had a friend who keeps telling about his fiancee, and the relationship is engaged but never wed. Why? Because they are saving up for wedding ceremony. What a joke! Why would anyone spend money on marriages! Maybe  as an Indian I should know better!

3.Individual rights are greater that that of  family. In USA everyone is an individual. A divide and rule policy at the individual level may be a disintegrating force in the family. However, lack of societal approval for everything is a value that comes up as a positive in such individualism. You do not like family, no problem, you can make it your own life and owe nothing to family.

At the time of birth a baby gets a name and that is the official name of the child. I have seen my name first time in a ration card not a birth certificate. I am an Indian and family values are super important. Family exists as a single monolithic entity in which individuals exist. There role may be a baby, a teenager, a grandparent or a working class. But everyone gets their name in a single page in the Holy Ration Card. The value of  adding a name in ration card (in this case that of the hero’s girlfriend) which is truly used in its exact gravity and entire meaning in the lyrics of Otha Sollala – Aadukalam Movie. Lyric Video attached below.

 

 

Any Aadhar or other document issued for an individual does not give the power that a ration card gives. For a family it is identity for everyone, and gives access to food and essentials in Kerala and in other states of India.

 

 

Forgot password

Disclaimer: This is a a work of fiction. If it relates to you or anyone you know or do not know, it is your problem. Not mine.

That moment life stared at me. A blank stare. It has been driven upto this. Who pushed me into it? Myself. None other than me. Frantic, half-meditating, trying to figure that password which never missed my fingertips for over a year. Why would that happen, unless I lost my mind? Why did I forget my password?

Last few days at work has been confusing, frustrating. Outside of work equally vexing. At residence, I have to pick a card with a picture, woes of typical Indian arranged marriage. Personally, I have missed any physical activity leading to escalation of arthritic symptoms and headaches due to inconsistent eating habits.  Where shall I start? Or is it easy to end. My solace in songs from internet now marred by this unexpected loss of password.

I should not hide; there have been times, when I punched in my personal PC passwords at office and vice versa. I thought it was completely random. Without reasoning out why. I could easily type in the correct password at least the second time PC offered me with blank space. My work has evolved. It has evolved significantly from being a newbie an engineer. Being an integral part of decision matrices and opinions heard out. This was new world. This world could be taken away anytime. This is not permanent. Colleagues pouring in their random and sometimes unwarranted comments have been commonplace. Making me work, taking happiness out and showering endless tasks. Is this job-security or mismanagement?  There is nothing permanent about a corporate job. I am always replaceable. I could be fired anytime. With or without reason. The woes of at-will employment. Do I be diplomatic and fake plastic smiles every time? To add to this are some colleagues who ask unwarranted questions, personal and technical. Is it written on any part of me that they cannot pass me without asking these questions? What does a “What’s up?” mean anymore than a way to distract me. What does “How is it going?”  mean if it was only a passing mention. Why are there such robotic conversations? Luckily, most of these stay being nominal and frivolous while some approach and follow it up with more acerbic sequence of words. Unexpected. I have hated social conversations because I could not maintain a conversation without questions. Questions and answers are a definite conversation driver, its justification never requested. In a social context, Q&A should not be a way to take the communication for petty talk or serious. There should be a better option. And I have observed such conversations without Q&A happening when people are already in sync and understanding of each other. Where there are ideas to discuss than questions to be answered, how peaceful, how thoughtful are those moments. Do I just forget password or forget my self. Life-less laughs, soul-less “sorry”-ies and truth-less thanks perpetuated at work. I do not fit well. Not a diplomacy machine. I make mistakes. I am a human.

That I am a human makes me wonder about its possibilities. The immediate possibilities for a man is to get married after having a job. This works through the system of arranged marriage for a typical Indian. The process involves families; the stakeholders have a very large base and includes stack of pictures of potential candidates and equally staggered stack of horoscopes to be checked. With rules and exemptions to rules, astrology itself is an inexact science. The decision matrix involves me in a critical position to decide about my life. To add to my suffering I am unable to find a right person with the potential and willingness to take the game for a lifetime. I tend to be unable, to comprehend those subjective candidates who objectively manage social conversation through light drinks. I cannot concur.  The elusive marriage proposal hangs in the air like a dense cloud, not raining, not going away. Just darkening the surroundings and making me feel uncomfortably warm. The decision for a lifetime has its own hurdles. To cope with it takes immense patience. Limited by the option to not grow younger, age becomes another factor to make this happen within time constraints. I believe there are plenty to explore. It be now or in future. I can wait. I have everything to consider and enjoy this moment.

Between discussions on potential life partner and current work-life. I have forgotten the present. The body of the present. I have limited my physical exercise to lifting a cup of coffee thrice a day and chewing on meal bars and fruits. Since, using computer and mouse cannot be classified as exercise, I leave them out of my list. This sedentary lifestyle has made the body of life stiffen up, reminiscential of arthritic symptoms that were in the past a constant friend distanced by systematic treatment. Headaches started their apparently random occurrences. To figure that it needed to be treated with scheduling and executing healthy habits needed some energy and deliberate thought. I have become careless. Careless about the body of mind. I did not mind, and it did matter.

Any possibility has its potential vicissitudes, positives and negatives. It is easy to get tangled in the possibility of losses and never give a thought to the positives. There is future, there is this present. Then there is the life experience that I truly possess, probably the only unique invaluable thing I possess. There is always something more to attain, achieve, enhance and explore. What really remains is the experience. It is already lost case when there is no end to the thought of loss. I may also be losing my mind over imminent future. Among the losses, losing the body movement is akin to losing everything.  There will not be any more pondering, with physical pain to take care of. It is a general fact that we do not own anything, or possess anything. The thought of possession can definitely possess me, if I let it. I have to come out of this thought. Absent-mindedness kicked in. And maybe this is another added reason to me losing my password. I lied down. Try to lie to my mind. No more tough thoughts, relax. After a few unsuccessful attempts to potential passwords, I quit. I lay quiet. No lights. No sounds. Thoughts will not let me sleep. Roll over. Thoughts keep coming. Silence. I needed some. Minutes passed. I still lay. This time more quiet. As a the stone that was thrown at the surface of lake causes ripples on the surface, ultimately to sink down, as the ripples subside and die down. My thoughts died. And it struck. My fingers remembered the password that it knew for so long, that I do not remember how to tell the password, but fingers remember it as a pattern. That only fingers knew how to remember. I was logged in.

 

 

 

 

 

Life Lessons from violin class : Lesson 8 : Don’t watch your fingers

As a beginner violinist, it is obvious that we are curious how the sounds differs just by moving fingers over strings tightened over a piece of wood. This curiosity jumps to next level when we become conscious of where we place fingers. This graduates to being cautious as to why we place fingers a certain way and why it is right or wrong. All of this becomes a habit, a bad one, reparable with practice. The next level of which is to play by the ear and know the relative positioning of the fingers on the string by mind. This spacing and relative positioning of fingers is strongly linked to how we hold the violin and how comfortably we can hold it there for a prolonged duration of play. This emphasizes the importance of practice, practice of holding, habit of practice, that it becomes second nature to the player like any language, or like any extensions to human body like a bicycle, mobile phone or using any clothing. Similarly, the violin becomes an extension to the body of the player. In time. In practice.

Watching our fingers during the play can be equated to micromanaging our play. This unwanted puts stress on us watching the fingers rather than the output of it, which is the sound generated. Instead of the action, if we become result oriented, then we start playing by the ear, listening to what kind of sounds we create, and what kind of fingering can improve, and match the requirements of the composition. This voids the need to mechanically adjust the relative placement of fingers and improve focus on the expected frequency output.  Hence it is imperative that we practice without watching the fingers and adopt a more result oriented approach.

Player’s focus improves with avoiding watching the fingers. Watching the fingers, rather than listening to the sounds, distracts the processing of the output. Staying on Focus helps because, the player gets a bigger picture than a mere positioning of finger on the string. In life as well as in playing the violin, if we can get to see the forest and not get lost in the trees, then we get our heading straight and would not let the minutiae obstruct the flow of thought/music.

Of course, this thought is for avoiding over-observant players who check each and every fingering position on the ebony. When moving to a different base position playing in the 2nd or higher, without a firm grasp of the basics and building the foundation.

The player learns Management by Objectives. The objective of the play is to play beautiful music, not just create some random sounds a.k.a noise. The objectivity defines our action. This lets our focus stay on the music emerging out of the wood and strings rather than micromanaging to the negative effect. Not watching fingers let us manage our play by objectives. The objective of making better music.

Up

Fig. Basic Control Systems Play-Feedback loop for music practice.

Borrowing from Control Systems concept. Generally, music practice sequence looks like that shown above. Playing by the ear yields a difference between the expected and observed results giving valuable feedback, that helps in perfecting and bettering the play. This also applies to general activities in life with an expected result. Oftentimes, people miss learning from the observed result and matching and finding the difference. This differential knowledge if captured appropriately leads us to derive lessons learned simply by using observational skills and then performing corrective action. Any solid expected activity should also be defined with as much detail as possible, so that we can maximize the lessons learned and act upon it to provide consistent  results that improve with each dedicated practice and delivering consistently good music as close to the expectation.

 

Read more from this series here :-

All about Ajeya's fantasy

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