Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Youth Employability through Skill Development - CONFLUENCE 2014

Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam rightly said India’s biggest crisis is not unemployment but unemployability. Well, this was said a few years ago, but the situation hasn’t changed much. However, a handful of organizations are turning the course of Indian education in their pursuit for perfection. They are exploring new options, channelizing challenges and identifying solutions that raise the quality of education to match the standards of today’s corporates.

In the wake of need for such a strategy, TalentSprint along with National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) is conducting CONFLUENCE 2014, a seminar to discuss the strategies and best practices that promotes the profile and increases the popularity of Academic Institutions in the eyes of the industry and employers. The theme of this event that will be held in Chennai is RISING EMPLOYER EXPECTATIONS: A CRISIS OR AN OPPORTUNITY.

TalentSprint and NSDC have been working relentlessly to improve the ecosystem of Skill Development and Youth Employability in the country. With huge number of college graduates entering the workforce every year, India has the potential to provide workforce for the world by 2020. And yet here we are today with awfully low employability rates in metropolitan cities like Chennai, Delhi and Bengaluru. The reasons for such low employability rate are lack of language skills, outdated syllabus, insufficient practical sessions and absence of career counselling facilities. To deal with such a situation, IITs across the country have tied up with various organizations to improve their students’ soft skills and hard skills.

Given this scenario, CONFLUENCE 2014 strives to create a common platform for industry experts, college representatives and policy makers to discuss, share and improve the approach of academia towards employability skills.

CONFLUENCE 2014, offers a platform to hear the views of people who are shaping education in India.  The eminent panel of speakers include Dr. C Rangarajan, Chairman, Madras School of Economics, Mohandas Pai, Chairman of Manipal Global Education, Dilip Chenoy, Managing Director & CEO of NSDC, Anupam Pahuja, GM Technology of PayPal Asia Pacific, Yogesh Agiwal, General Manager - Corporate Human Resource Development of Wipro and KV Vishnu Raju, Chairman of Sri Vishnu Educational Society.

If you are a part of the employability ecosystem as an academician, policymaker or someone responsible for hiring talent in a corporation, you just cannot afford to miss this event. Be a part of CONFLUENCE 2014, one of the most high profile event for anyone associated with either imparting or learning employability skills. So, block your calendar from 10 AM TO 1 PM on Nov 1st to be a part of this seminar that will aim to not just discuss but arrive at a solution for the great employability challenge faced by millions of graduates every year.

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Tuesday, 28 October 2014

An Introduction to Python Programming Language

On the sidelines of the PyCon, an annual event conducted by the Python Developer Community, Sridhar K Sr Vice President at TalentSprint, chats with two masterminds from the Academic Community behind the ongoing Python revolution in India, Professor Prabhu Ramachandran from IIT Mumbai and Asokan Pichai, the Head of Learning and Development at TalentSprint. PyCon innovatively named by combining Python and Conference aims at using and developing the Python programming language. Pycon India, 2014 was held in Bangalore.

Kenneth Gonsalves is the man behind PyCon India. Kenneth was instrumental in forming the Indian Python Software Society and served as director of the society for the first year. His work and efforts have considerably shaped the community and in his memory, the ‘Kenneth Gonsalves Award’ is instituted to honor and celebrate the efforts of people in popularizing and evangelizing Python language. This trophy for the year 2014 is awarded to Prabhu Ramachandran. He is the alumnus of the IIT Madras, Department of Aerospace engineering  and is presently a professor of the same field at IIT Mumbai. When asked about his feeling on achieving this award, Prabhu says, “It is an honour to be recognized, especially from an academic perspective as it increases the awareness among the students thereby helping the goal of Python community take a step ahead by popularizing it.” Prabhu was associated with Pycon from the very first conference and was also the Keynote Speaker at the conferences held in Argentina and Singapore.

In academics, the most commonly used softwares are MATLAB, Mathematica etc. They seem all perfect for the purpose they were designed for; but there on the flipside there are some limitations too like high costs etc. This is where Python comes into picture. A broad language and open source like Python is very useful to fill those gaps. Speaking about the Scientific Python community, Prabhu says, “Python is a broad language and its usage is not just limited to computers. It can be used in scientific community. A vibrant community of scientists are on the way to create a “Scientific Python Ecosystem”. The most popular projects in the history of Python like iPython Interpreter, Notebook are from Scientific Python community, he quotes.

Free & Open Source Software for Science and Engineering Education (FOSSEE) project  is the initiative of  Ministry of Human Resources and Development in India under umbrella of the National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology. It aims at minimizing the use of commercial tools in academics and improve the educational quality in the country. The goals are set in the view of expensive academic tools like MATLAB etc which be accessed only through purchasing their licenses. To make the students aware of the open source tools like SciLab, Python which are useful in college and even beyond.

Asokan Pichai with his experience as a methodological teacher, mentor and instructor was as a part of this project for 3 years. He mentored the teams, helped in instructional design of the workshop material and also played an advisory role. The unique feature of these materials is that they are Recipient-driven, which means the material enables the trainees to use the concepts immediately after grasping them. They have conducted 30 workshops to colleges across in the country including professors and students.

A whole new software project the team is working on is called OSCAT which is the replacement of OrCAD for Electronic Design Automation (EDA). Different groups are dedicated to different branches like the OpenFORM, Simpy, Coin-OR optimization toolbox and many others. This huge government funded project aims to increase the use of this open source software not just in science but in ‘education’.

Speaking on the impact made by this project on Indian educational system Prabhu says the team has started off with workshops, but the approach seemed restricted. And obvious solution to increase the spread of this project is to launch it online. The FOSSEE project after initiating online has taken up two initiatives:
  • 1000 teacher course which aims at honing the skills of the faculty across. Prabhu along with Asokan Pichai and Professor Madhu Belur have successfully trained 1000 teachers in the course ‘Software Engineering for Engineers and Scientists’ across India at one-go. This was semi-online course which included live video classes to teachers located at various parts of the country and was supported by the trained coordinators at all trainee locations. After the session, there would be an online chat session for the clarification of doubts. An online assessment tool was developed to test the effectiveness of the course. 
  • Development of learning material which enables self-learning. The main aim is to make the material amiable to the learners. Also, the Spoken Tutorials have reached many students across the country. Lakhs of people are getting trained through the online courses of FOSSEE project.
A series of international conferences called, SciPy are held all across the world. The US gathering is called SciPy and the Europe variant is EuroScipy. Scipy India was initiated in 2009 and was managed by Prabhu ever since its initiation in 2009. The Scipy India is held from Dec 5-7 this year.

There is a significant increase in the number of people who are aware of Python and online courses are behind this. SciPy India sees good number of interested individuals who are from non-IT background. They explore the opportunities, learn their features and fit them into their fields giving a form to their ideas.

On a commercial side, even companies like Enthought have started using it. Enthought is a company which develops Python related toolkits and provides high-end training programs in this field. So, FOSSEE provides these classroom trainings which have been very successful because of the availability of highly knowledgeable faculty. But again due to its less approach, an online version was launched. Called as the “Training on Demand” it can be purchased online. However, the courses are available for free of cost for academic purposes. Prabhu said the course content is not a simple slide show but a congregation of illustrations, graphs. The USP of these courses is that they are provided by scientists and engineers with profound details. The courses that are targeted for specific categories of scientists are in pipeline.

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Thursday, 9 October 2014

SBI PO 2014 Results Declared

The long-awaited results of SBI PO exam held earlier this year are released. Click here to check your results. The Central Recruitment and Promotion Department of the Corporate Center, SBI has declared the results. This marks the end of Phase I in the Selection Procedure of Probationary Officers, 2014.

The qualified candidates who have passed the acid test i.e., Written Exam seem content and happy. They are now just 2 levels away from their dream job. Having cleared the 250-mark exam, the next hurdles in this race are Group Discussion and Interview, accounting for 20 and 30 marks respectively. The qualifying marks in both these rounds will be decided by the Bank. The Phase II i.e., Group Discussion and Interview would begin from 8th Oct, 2014 according to the notification. The shortlisted candidates can download the Call Letter for GD and Interview along with the Bio-data Form at SBI website starting 15th Sept, 2014. The qualified candidates would be intimated about the same through SMS and email. For more updates the candidates are recommended to follow the SBI website regularly.

The shortlisted candidates have to carry a set of certificates while attending the interview. To know the list of certificates click here.  Failing to submit them would lead to the cancellation of the candidature.

The Final Selection demands the qualification of a candidate in both Phase I and Phase II. The whole of 300 marks in SBI PO Recruitment Process are condensed to 100: Written exam marks are converted to 75 and GD & Interview marks to 25. The final merit list is made based on the marks obtained by candidates out of 100. The list of candidates qualified in Phase II and the list of candidates finally selected will be presented on the Bank’s website.  The Final Selection List will be published in Employment News/ Rozgar Samachar.

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Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Content Management Systems – Easy Way to Formalize Web Data

These days every organization - small or large, has a website. With innovative ideas like images, audios, videos, etc. they attract many internet users to visit their site. It is always surprising to see how even small companies can invest so much in creating such interesting websites. “But it is not very difficult and expensive as we all think”, says the MD of a small software company. It is not a secret but in fact an open source that we are talking about – Content Management System (CMS).

CMS is a software that keeps track of every piece of content like text, photos, music, video, documents on a website. But this is just one among the multiple features of a CMS. The major advantage of using a CMS is that no special technical skill or knowledge is required to manage it. So, a single web designer can work wonders with the advanced features of CMS. Many young IT aspirants can utilize this opportunity to enter into IT stream.

Content Management system as the name implies, is an application that allows you to edit, modify, delete, organize, publish, maintain content from a central interface system. It also offers processes to manage workflow in collaborative environment. Like mentioned earlier it is used to run websites that are content-heavy like blogs, news, shopping sites.

The examples we just saw are the most common CMS systems designed exclusively to manage content on the web - called Web CMS. There are around 6 types of Content Management Systems. Though the salient features of all the types remain the same, their primary objectives differ. The most commonly used 3 types are:
  • Web CMS (WCMS): Generally referred to as CMS. This allows to edit, modify publish content on a website.
  • Enterprise CMS (ECMS): Organized means of storing an organization's documents, and other content which will be available to all the employees with different permission levels.
  • Component CMS (CCMS): It allows you to store, access, edit, and manage topic-level content. It helps in creating documents from component parts. This ensures the content is consistent across the entire documentation set.
Though they vary in their goals, all the types of CMS have certain similar characteristics: They:
  • Manage information efficiently by storing, controlling access, checking content in and out, searching and publishing content
  • Manage the lifecycle of content – from creation through to final disposition
  • Support automatic and on-demand version control (history of changes along with date and version number)
  • Provide indexing
  • Provide format Management
  • Analyze the content and make reports
There are two elements in CMS - CMA and CDA. CMA is Content Management Application that allows a writer/author to create, modify and delete content without the need of technical knowledge in HTML. CDA stands for Content Delivery Application which compiles the content uploaded by the writer to update the website.
CMS are available as installable applications and web-based user interfaces. Installable applications were popular few days ago, but the latter is most commonly used these days. Some of the web-based CMS tools are:
  • WordPress - free web software used to create template-based websites or blogs
  • Blogger - Google's blogging tool
  • Joomla - a flexible web publishing tool that supports custom databases and extensions
  • Drupal - an open source platform often used for developing community-based sites
  • Weebly - used for building simple personal and business websites
  • Wix - a collection of publishing tools to customize a website
Based on the certain factors, a company can decide on the type of CMS it needs for its operation. While some tools are free, some of them charge on a monthly basis. Most of them offer free software with basic functionality and charge for extra features like complex-templates, domain names etc. Before choosing the right CMS for a company, it is advised to check all the options to decide on the best one. 
  • Size of the organization
  • Geographical Location: If a firm is spread across various countries, migration may be difficult
  • Types of content used: More the types of content more will be the complexity of CMS application
Every company in order to market their business has a website. So, graduates who want to make IT as their mainstream can start their career as a web Developer / Designer.


Gear up for Bank Exams with ‘Prepare - Practice - Revise’ Strategy

The top-most bank exams of the year, IBPS PO and SBI Associate Bank PO are due in the months of October and November. With very little time left for preparation, aspirants are getting ready to create a ‘success regime’ for their preparation. The syllabus is too vast and the time too less. To be exam-ready is a difficult task but not impossible. With proper planning, concentration and willpower, success is just a strategic plan away from you.

To make the remaining days fruitful, planning is the first thing you should do. Studying without a proper plan is like a wild goose chase, running haywire with insufficient knowledge in each section. So, it is important to create a full-fledged strategy for your preparation. We are advising an optimal study plan called ‘Weekly Preparation Plan’, in the view of time available.

The main approaches in studies include:
  • Preparation: You learn a topic which includes the concept, formulae, variety of questions, shortcuts. Sources of learning can be online material, printed books or video lessons
  • Practice: You apply the concept you’ve learnt. Practice can be in the form of practice sets available in study material, previous years’ question papers, online mock tests
  • Revision: You revise the concepts covering both the steps above
The cycle of our Study Plan goes as below (PPR):

The number of study hours should be divided between the PPR and in the order given below:

Preparation < Practice < Revision 

How to create a Weekly Preparation plan:
  • Create a weekly tabular calendar on a soft board or on a sheet of paper (they must be reusable)
  • Make the table clearly visible with sufficient space provided
  • Fill the first column with days in a week starting from Monday
  • Fill the headings of columns with timings
  • To fill in the time table, follow the below format.
              Assign numbers to PPR: Preparation-1, Practice-2, and Revision-3  
              The topics included in the exams are:
                     Quantitative Aptitude (QA)
                     General Awareness (GA)
  • So, in each row write the subject followed by any one of the PPR. For instance to ‘practice’ Computers, you need to fill in as Computers 2
  • Add the last column to indicate any incomplete tasks
  • Refresh the plan every week – Keep moving a row up every week. If the below calendar is for Week 1, your Week 2 calendar will start with Quant and GA (row 3) and week 3 will start with Computers, Marketing and GA (row 4)
  • On Sundays, keep revising the topics you prepared throughout the week    

 Click to download Free eBook on Quant formulae

The preparation timetable provided above is designed in such a way that it is applicable to everyone. Extra emphasis is put on Reasoning and Quant as they are considered the most difficult sections in the exam. And at the same the mark-scoring sections like English, Computers, General Awareness and Marketing are provided with sufficient number of hours. Tips to personalize your plan:
  • Depending on the exam you’re attempting you can add or remove the subjects. For example, while studying for SBI Associates PO exam you focus only on Data Analysis and Interpretation, ignoring all other topics in Quant.
  • After analyzing your strengths and weaknesses, you can increase or decrease the number of study hours for a particular subject
  • Some can concentrate best in the early morning while some are night owls. So, accordingly you can shift your study timings
  • While some people can concentrate 8 hours a day and others can go beyond 10 hours. For the former kind, include equal number of study hours even on Sunday and for latter you can go ahead with the above strategy
Nothing is impossible. With the right tool now in your hands, go start your preparation now. All the best!

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Follow the footsteps of ‘Logical Strategy’ to crack Multiple Choice Questions

Most of the competitive exams conducted today are based on multiple choice questions. Almost all the bank exams solely contain multiple choice questions, while a few conduct an additional subjective exam. Multiple choice questions ask the students to choose one answer among the 3 or 4 options given for that question. These options are called as Distractors.

Competitive exam applicants usually consider these type of questions easier because:
  • The correct answer is right before them. It is just the matter of choosing it
  • They consume less time when compared to essay exams
  • They help in confident answering. After arriving at the right answer, one can confidently mark an answer without any doubt about it
  • They give small hints that helps you arrive at the correct answer, in case you’re failing to recall it
In spite of being considered easy, multiple choice questions even put forward difficult situations for attempters:
  • Aspirants are expected to have in-depth details about everything. The options vary minimally, thereby giving rise to confusion
  • Sometimes vague information or hints about a question may not be helpful, as the options are very similar to each other
  • Applicants cannot guess or try their luck because in most of the exams negative marking is applicable
  • Questions that have options like “Both A and B” or “All the above” raise unintended ambiguity

5-step Strategy to answer Multiple Choice Questions:

To tactfully deal with multiple choice questions, you’ve to apply certain strategies. The best way to succeed is to study thoroughly for the exam. There is no better situation than knowing the right answer. But in tense and pressurized situations during the exam, even a well prepared student tends to lose his track.

To make the best of the advantage of multiple choice questions, there is a logical method of answering them. There are a series of steps to be followed before attempting each question. 

Step 1: Read the question completely and carefully. Do not rush and end up reading the question again.

Step 2: Identify the important part of the question. What is it asking you to answer?

Consider the below example:

What is the reason for Jallianwala Bagh Massacre that happened during the British reign in India?

A. Protester slapped a British official
B. Protesters held meeting in spite of the curfew
C. They burnt imported clothes
D. Protesters threw stones on the British officials

The most important part is “reason for Jallianwala Bagh Massacre” while “happened during the British reign in India” is the supplementary information.

Step 3: After understanding the question, look into the options. Read the options slowly and clearly keeping in mind the perspective of the question.

Step 4:  Highlight the options that you feel are correct or mark True or False against each option.
A. Protester slapped a British official  - F
B. Protesters held meeting in spite of the curfew - T
C. They burnt imported clothes  - T
D. Protesters threw stones on the British officials - F

Now narrow down your options by getting rid of options that are marked False.

Step 5: At a look at the remaining options:

B. Protesters held meeting in spite of the curfew - T
C. They burnt imported clothes  - T

Doesn’t it sound similar to 50-50 lifeline in KBC? Now with just 2 options left, think for few moments before settling on the final answer. Consider each option and start recollecting the information and facts about it.

B. Protesters held meeting in spite of the curfew: A big group of non-violent protesters along with Baishakhi pilgrims, have all gathered at a garden in Amritsar called Jallianwala Bagh in the state of Punjab. They have all gathered there despite a curfew which had been recently declared. The reason for their gathering was to protest against the arrest of two national leaders.

C. They burnt imported clothes: Indians burnt imports goods like clothes, food etc. to show their protest against Britishers.

With this step you will be able to relate to the right answer. As option B is related to Jallianwala Bagh Massacre that will be the correct answer for this question.

Summarizing all the steps:
  1. Read the question carefully
  2. Identify the main part of the question
  3. Go through the options clearly
  4. Highlight the options you feel are correct
  5. Recollect the information and facts about the highlighted options
These steps may appear time-consuming, but with regular practice you can adapt, practice and master it!!

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