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Why I discontinued the edX course …

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A google search for study materials on fundamentals of mechanical vibrations a few months back led me to an exotic world of free online learning.

Yes, I am talking about edX [Let me warn you, it is highly addictive].

I became a regular visitor and tasted many of the archived courses.

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There were many subjects  I have been longing to learn for long.

Great teachers. With due respect to all those who taught me in schools; a class apart…

And great instructional technics…

And the freedom to take the courses at one’s own pace and convenience…

I soon found myself addicted to www.edx.org

One course that caught my attention recently was the Introduction to Marketing course, started in January 2016.

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Why Marketing!?

You may be wondering…

What is that interesting in marketing for an automobile engineer who is almost lost among machines?

It is something like…

Hmm…

What shall I compare it to!?

The little swallow of Happy Prince may understand it better!

Yes… the little swallow!

Anyone remember the little swallow in Oscar Wilde’s Happy Prince who courted the ‘most beautiful reed’ the whole summer?

“He was flying down the river after a big yellow moth, and had been attracted by her slender waist that he had stopped to talk to her”

Wasn’t it something similar?

I followed the course diligently the next couple of weeks…

It was contagious…

Soon the twelve year old left the online magic courses and joined me in edX with an archived course in Geometry.

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The improvement he made in Geometry in three weeks! You have to see it to believe it.

A CRDI engine with a strange complaint at a distant location and a level 3 course in NVH troubleshooting kept me away from edX for a few days.

By the fourth week of January when I sat with the twelve year old again he was completing a survey at the end of the geometry course.

“How do you compare this course with the courses of Khan Academy?” a seemingly innocuous question in the survey had an option “I don’t know about Khan Academy” as answer which was duly selected by the twelve year old.

We never heard of Khan Academy before. Neither son nor father.

The twelve year old did start another edX course in Algebra the same day. But the third day he dropped out of edX.

edX lost one of their customers to Khan Academy!

Segmentation, Targeting, Positioning, Branding… By this time I had started planting terms like these in casual conversations with unsuspecting colleagues.

“So he flew round and round her, touching the water with his wings, and making silver ripples”

And the twelve year old left edX for Khan Academy which was totally unknown to him till the survey at the end of the geometry course.

Someone comes to buy a car from you. A FXXX or a TXXXXX or a XYZ…

You take him around…you explain the features…you let him drive the demo car… and when he is about to leave, he has not made a decision yet, you ask him ‘How do you compare our XXXX with the SKYACTIV Mazdas?’

‘SKYACTIV? Mazda??’ it seems the customer is unaware,  one moment please… this is just an example… but I have seen recently a Nokia 3310 owner, an aged vegetable vendor in our village ridiculing his friend’s touchscreen mobile “12000 bananas! And not even a single button!”

So what do you think? Will the customer forget the ‘SKYACTIV’ and ‘Mazda’ on his way home and come back to take one of your cars?

I don’t expect that… he may come back… in his new SKYACTIV Mazda3 or CX-3, if he could pull his heart off the charms of the MX-5… to thank you!

That question of yours was a blunder my dear!

So was the survey question from edX. “How do you compare this course with the courses of Khan Academy?”

I am not here to compare Khan Academy with edX. I am leaving it to you.

I felt disillusioned with the edX course in marketing… How can I continue after I see them making such a blunder!

“You have been trifling with me”, the little swallow cried, “I am off to the Pyramids. Goodbye!” and he flew away.

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A loss of face

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“Acha how many faces does a cylinder have?”

I did not see the trap PQM2 has laid.

I conferred the title PQM2 to the eight year old recently.

The elder one, now twelve, is PQM1.

Oh, I forgot to tell…

PQM is Perpetual Question Machine.

Hope you remember PMM1 and PMM2… and the time and paper wasted on designing one…

PQM1 is no more active.

He has found more reliable resources.

PQM2 is a little mischievous.

I had observed on many occasions that he already knew the answers of the questions he asked.

Internet, Britannica, an elder brother who has answers for all the questions that can ever be thought of…

Then why he asks me!?

I often wonder…

Usually he starts firing immediately after I finish some telephonic conversation with colleagues on technical issues.

He watches me closely.

The elder is into intergalactic travel and does not find automobiles that amusing.

Lengthy the conversations will be…

I will be taking notes, referring manuals, …

He waits patiently till it ends.

May be he just wants to to show that life is not that easy at class 3 either…

“Three… three of course!… two flat and one curved…”

“And how many edges?”

I could see streaks of a mischievous smile piercing his tightly closed lips…

“Two… what happened Sid? It is very clear… three faces and two edges”

“You get zero marks!” he is emphatic.

“See this definition” he opened his text book ” a face should be flat… so only two faces for the cylinder… and the faces do not meet… so zero edges!”

Mission accomplished…

He has proven again that it is easy to make a mistake in mathematics…

“Don’t worry acha”

He is considerate over his father’s feelings…

He opened another text book.

“See this XXXXX School text book! What you said is correct. Three faces and two edges”

“I checked in net… XXX says three faces and two edges… YYY says two faces and zero edges”

XXX and YYY are two educational sites his big brother is frequenting.

“Acha… Alex got a baby sister… Alex says it is a Christian baby… Last week Yasir got a baby sister too… it was a Muslim baby… Acha…. what was I when I was born?”

“I see! But, Acha how did you find that I was a Hindu baby?”

A few weeks back I had overheard his brother enlightening him  on how to distinguish a baby boy from a baby girl.

Is he expecting some parallels here?!

Sid is always like this.

He jumps from one question to another.

I pretended I didn’t hear the question.

An answer will be taking us all the way to Adam and Eve.

“Acha which one will be faster… an yellow… nonono… a yellow… a … a yellow Camaro or a green Camaro?”

Sid is always like this.

He jumps from one question to another.

MazTech Middle East & Africa 2015

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It is hard to reach the top…

MazTech 1

How is it to remain there…

IMG-20150902-WA0022 (2)

Ask Team Galadari who retained the Top Spot at the recently concluded MazTech ME & AF

Capture

I do not believe, oh no, I did not believe, in ghosts!

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The desert road from the small border town IXXX to the capital bifurcates after ninety five kilometers. Need to be very careful along this road… a single carriageway, a short cut to the free port at the neighboring country… no speed radars and a lot of tractor trailers flying either way…

The branches merge later at NXXX, the town famous for the remains of an ancient fort.

The one to the right joins the new express highway in two kilometers and it is the same story of black tea and shawarma at NXXX, petrol and cold coffee at SXXX, and finally, four hours later, home.

And the one to the left!

Gorgeous mountains… picturesque valleys…

But I avoid this road…

Wild goats that cross the road like bullets taking away your headlamp lens…

Camels that decide to crash in through the windscreen…

And… and… I did not believe any of them… the numerous stories of supernatural encounters at and near BXXX…

BXXX is an ancient city that witnessed major battles centuries ago… It is an archaeological site now…

The sand there is reddish black… some say it is blood…

I had been with a client in a crusher site near IXXX. Twenty kilometers of off-road driving and a non starting truck engine upset my journey plan. It was almost nine in the evening when I started from IXXX.

I was riding a Spanish beauty that day… one of the best cars I ever drove… I was ALONE…

I was a little tired… sleepy… and took the wrong branch at the bifurcation… when I realized it, I was almost twenty kilometers into it… at the heart of BXXX…

I thought of going back… before I could apply brakes the engine malfunction indication lamp flashed, the engine coughed and struggled for a while, like in an asthma attack, and stalled. I cranked the engine many times… no signs of firing…

At the wrong place… at the wrong time…

In cars like this there is nothing much you can do…

You can open the bonnet and stare if you want…

You can shake the harnesses in the engine compartment, pull out fuses or relays and fix them back, and hope for a miracle…

I informed IXXX workshop, our nearest branch. They promised me that a technician will be reaching me in one hour.

But I knew it was not going to happen.

The technician who attends breakdowns at IXXX is a local. For all the petrol of this country he will not come to BXXX at this time.

I pushed the car to the wayside.

Sleeping in a car on the wayside is not new to me.

It was not clear how long I slept… a knock on the window brought me back.

“Anything wrong brother!?”

A six foot tall man in traditional Omani dress was beside my window and a Willys CJ… yes Willys CJ…1940?… in front.

It looked like CJ-2A from the side.

I was surprised to see a Willys.

“CJ-2A!?” I could not hide my surprise.

“Very close… It is MB… no wonder you took it for CJ-2A… it is modified… what is this S? Not the S of Suzuki!” He was referring to the emblem on my front grill.

“SEAT!?… poor me… never heard of… but she is gorgeous… I saw you taking the S at lower MXXX at 140… it is dangerous… only the German cars can do that safely… may be a Mazda among the Japanese… ”

Another surprise lay at the back of the MB… a Winchester Model 1912!

I felt something seriously wrong…

He sensed it…

“Oh that gun! … my grand father’s… still going great… lot of wild goats here… ”

“You seem to be new here… usually none takes this road in the night, let alone stop…”

“I see… please open the bonnet… ”

He just glanced at the engine compartment.

“She looks fine… try to start now”

And it started…

“Two kilometers up there is an Z. 140 will be too much even for the Spanish lady… she will be in Times of Oman tomorrow… bye the way, two hundred feet from the Z you will find a white man in fighter pilot gear waving at you… don’t stop… it is Johnty the Menace… RAF guy… shot down there” he pointed towards the mountains…

“Ghost!…naughty guy! ” he whispered and continued with a chuckle “… luckily he doesn’t have the power to jam the engine control system of a car… just don’t stop”

My wife was horrified when I narrated the incident to her…

I thought she too believed it was a ghost… but it was not…her post graduate degree in Chemistry has severely restricted her field of vision… she can’t go above carbon, hydrogen, and the like…

Three days later a cousin of her who came back from home brought a packet. It contained a few bottles of traditional medicinal oil generally used in treating mild insanity…

Spring Sprang Sprung

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‘Acha, whats inertia?’

It is Vinayak.

Schools are closed.

Vinayak and Sidharth are ‘home alone’.

I was in a training. I had told them not to call me unless it was very urgent.

He knows we break for lunch at one.

Why inertia!?

“Vinayak, inertia means… umm… imagine a body in motion…”

May be too much for an eleven year old…

“You remember how you lost your tooth last vacation?”

“Yeah… we were in that low floor bus… the lorry in front stopped and our driver… but that tooth was just waiting to fall…”

“Our driver applied brake and you moved forward…”

“I know, I know,… a moving body will continue its motion until a force acts on it to stop it… bus was moving, I was also moving, bus braked, no brake on me, so bus stopped and I moved forward,… I agree… but what is inertia of a beyblade?”

“Beyblade!”… so that is it! A long-drawn-out war was going on between Vinayak and Sidharth since 20 March.

It was Sidharth’s birthday.

He got a Beyblade stadium as gift from me.

As usual, he demanded an Yellow Chevrolet [This time he was more specific, CHEVROLET CAMARO!] at first.

Then, as in the past, considering the long wait to turn 18 to get a driving license, he is just 8, he settled on Beyblade stadium.

Of course, he took a beyblade as well, with a launcher.

“How can he play with a single beyblade?”

True… you need two…

My purse sheds weight again.

Another beyblade with launcher for Vinayak also…

The beyblade is a complex thing…

There are many things to consider when buying one!

Attack, defence, agility, stamina, power, stability… selecting a fighter plane is easier!

Vinayak took one that matched Sidharth’s in every department.

But Sidharth’s ‘cosmic warrior’ kept on beating Vinayak’s ‘thunderbolt’.

It was 137 – 0 yesterday evening.

Internet search made him wiser… there was one more parameter… inertia!

Cosmic warrior is 3.7% up in inertia.

“But, acha the bus was moving! This is just spinning!”

Hmm… Rotary motion is not in Class 6 Science?

Difficult to convince him that spinning is also a form of motion, and inertia is applicable to spinning bodies also.

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Tool setA few weeks ago I had bought Vinayak a screwdriver set.

There was a bit that matched the screws on the beyblade launcher.

I never thought he will be trying the screwdriver on the launcher.

He removed the screws and pulled the launcher apart.

Something flew off.

It was his first encounter with springs.

LauncherHe has been trying to fix it back for the last three hours… Sidharth told.

There were youtube videos on beyblade launcher assembly… but the spring   kept on flying away each time he put the pawl into position.

“Why?… Why did you open it?”

“To change the rotation… to reverse rotate”

“Change the rotation?!”

“Now both are rotating in same direction… I wanted to make mine opposite”

“What is wrong with its rotation?!”20150327_230623

“It is losing stamina when hitting Sid’s…’

“So?!”

“Opposite rotation, I will get stamina from Sid’s when we hit”

“Why did you open the launcher!?”

“I thought there was something inside that will change the rotation”

“You found something?!”

“Nothing… only one wheel with teeth, one stick and one that…”

“Spring!”

“Yes… spring”

It was the meanest spring I ever met.

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Sidharth googled SPRING and was directed to some online grammar courses.

He found SPRING SPRANG SPRUNG so funny and kept on chanting it till he fell asleep.

Six steps…

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Lady luck is always with HXXX MXXXX.
Juicy, ripe, examples are just waiting everywhere for him to pluck.
Oh I forgot to tell, HXXX MXXXX is a trainer I adore, try to emulate, and sometimes envy.
Like all those who attend his classes I too eagerly wait for moments when he is stuck. But as I told you, luck is always with him.
We think he is stuck… soon he will say “I am sorry, I don’t no” or ” Let me check with MXXX”. [MXXX is his boss in Japan] or something similar… But… See what happened last week!
It was a level 3 session.
First day of the course Basics of Troubleshooting. A prerequisite for the advanced troubleshooting courses.
The participants!?
All skilled diagnostic technicians… hardcore professionals with years and years of experience in troubleshooting…
And HXXX MXXXX was teaching them basics of troubleshooting!

“I know it will be a little boring… But, you know, you have to complete this for Masters Certification… we are very rigid on the Masters curriculum… there are reasons… I know you all… what you are capable of… but we have to…”

Less than an hour into Six Steps of Troubleshooting and…

“Mr. HXXX, collecting information, analyzing symptoms, blah, blah, blah… we do this everyday… as troubleshooters this is what we all do every day… shall we skip this course?… shall we go directly to Advanced Body Electrical Troubleshooting?” They are ruthless even with revered trainers like HXXX MXXXX.

HXXX MXXXX stood silent for a moment. Then adjusted his tie… looked at his watch…  “All right gentlemen… we break for lunch… 45 minutes earlier… come back at two… sharp two”

And he went to the workshop while we headed towards the dining room.

Tricky situation. Trainees have lost interest in the topic. They question the relevance of the course. We were sure Mr. HXXX is at his Waterloo at last…

We had a quick lunch.

All of us were eager to be back in the training room.

“Let’s move to the workshop.” HXXX MXXXX was waiting for us near the elevator.

He took us straight to bay number 23.

Bays 23 to 25 belong to electricians. SXXX KXXXX, a very experienced electrician was at 23, beside a sports car…

“Why not Mr. HXXX?! I am happy to share all I know…I got her this morning. Haven’t touched her yet. Busy with a Radar Cruise Control System complaint. Accident repair at a local garage! They cooked up the wiring… this girl came three days back… not starting… cranking is fine…JXXX and KX SXXX tried… they tried for two days…today TXXX gave her to me… they think it is electrical… PCM may be…”

“Gentlemen… this is our baby… you have time till SXXX tames the Radar… let’s start.”

A short while later…

“PCM… can we have a PCM?” they were unanimous…

“PCM!… so quick! … PCM!! … why?… WHY?… gentlemen, why PCM?”

“We checked with JXXX and KX SXXX… everything else is fine… air fuel ratio at start is not correct… PCM is the only thing remaining.”

SXXX KXXXX stared at his trainees… the trademark twinkle in the eyes is back…

I saw a cloud of uneasiness descending on the trainees…

“Let’s have a word with JXXX and KX SXXX… guys, what was the customer complaint?”

“Engine not starting sir… cranking is fine sir”

“No sir… we didn’t see the customer… the recovery truck dropped it here sir…”

“No sir… he didn’t say anything…”

“CXXX AXXXX may be knowing it sir…”

“Good afternoon Mr. HXXX… no, I didn’t see the customer… she just gave me a call… we sent the recovery truck…”

“No Mr. HXXX… sorry I was too busy… I didn’t ask…”

After a moments silence…

“Gentlemen… now recollect what were discussing this morning… yes… six steps of troubleshooting… what’s the first step?”
“Collect the information! Correct!…but… did anyone do that?”

The trainees turned their faces towards JXXX and KX SXXX.

“No sir… we don’t talk to customers… service advisors do that sir…”

All faces now turned towards CXXX AXXXX, the service advisor who received the car.

“Did you ask me?… did you ask me anything?… they didn’t ask me a thing Mr. HXXX… now putting the blame on me…”

“It’s ok CXXX… You carry on… let’s move to training room… ”

“Gentlemen… let’s go back to the six steps. First step… yes… collect the information… can you tell me the sources of information?”

“Customer! Yes! The most important source of information. Let’s start with the customer. Who’s going to do the diagnostic interview? You have to concentrate on… yes… three Ws and one H! Can anyone tell me what do they stand for?… okokok…WhatWhenWhereandHowmuch… don’t forget them during the diagnostic interview. Plan the interview and call. Have a clear idea what to ask. Minimum questions. Easy to answer questions… Twenty minutes to plan”

“Things are clear now. It was a hot day. Customer was filling fuel from a fuel station in Al Ain road. Around 100 kilometers from start… yes yes the engine was running… then she heard a loud bang noise… like a firecracker… bang … from the engine compartment… then the engine stalled. A gas station attendant opened the bonnet and there was smoke… and the engine never started again… yes yes normal cranking”

“Gentlemen… what next?… information from manufacturer… exactly… service information from manufacturer… then, information from distributor… about similar incidents”

At this point one of the trainees interrupted. “We had a similar case Mr. HXXX, a couple of years ago. Engine stalled during refueling. It was…”

“Interesting… see gentlemen…. it is possible… let’s go to the car… As SXXX explained, it can be easily verified with a vacuum gauge.”

And… it turned out to be the same case.

The discussions went off track, for a while, before HXXX MXXXX could resume with Basics of Troubleshooting.

Basics of Troubleshooting course continued, as planned, for three days.

And it turned out to be one of the most useful training sessions we ever had.

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