Sunday, December 17, 2006

Blogging 36K ft above atlantic..!!


for someone who has been long lazy and waiting for some drive to blog about something worthwhile, there could be no more opportune moment than showing off about blogging away from around 36 ft above the Atlantic ..!!!(And i know most bloggers flying any transcontinental Boeing flight will be soon bragging the same :(...courtesy the free wireless access )

So as we skirt along Greenland, the thing that comes first to my mind is my past few days in LA, where i got a quick break form an official tour and managed to visit the "Happiest Place on earth".. The Disneyland, and also the Universal Studio.

I earlier wondered how different could it be from our local Esselworld, besides higher and faster rides and Disney characters, and i was so completely wrong. It is a fantastic place because as some wise man said....not because they are doing different things, they are doing the same things differently. Like the common
"free fall" ride few of us would have taken..!! They do the same thing but by weaving a complete story around it. where you are falling off form the Haunted Hollywood hotels' elevator. And many others like it. In these two dyas, i felt the closest perhaps I could ever, to be in a space odyssey, to being Indiana Jones, to Gliding over california, you cant do anything but AWE at the wonders the technology can create for you.

The same roller coaster which we all have done, is an entirely different experience when it is inside an dark chamber where projections on the space make u feel like you are in the space between stars, asteroids, galaxies...!!

Well there is a lot i can harp about, but the crux is..!! dont ever miss the chance to see these two places.. the universal studios, and the disneyland... !!(its in LA as well as in Orlando) I was also left wondering if "the matrix" really was very far from reality..!! Decide for yourself..!!

And if you need, do get in touch for tips about the best ..not to be missed rides.!! :)

So much for blogging from 36K ft..!! :)

Monday, April 24, 2006

FooBar.... FooCamp, BarCamp!!

It was after a long time that i hung out with a community of people where being over ambitious did not feel out of place..!! In fact for all matters, i really felt very subdued there for a while. I felt for a moment out of place for not knowing what the heck to do with my life, unlike many others there, who were there with a definitive purpose. There were startup aspirants, serial entreprenuers, tech consultants, geeky students, and many others who have already made a mark in there lives(atleast from where i am looking currently). From the cool n casual mac/pda carrying janata, to the not so uncommon, IBM/HP compaq carrying techie janata, everyone there had a great time, listening to some interesting talks, walking out of some :) and above all, having a good time networking with people from such different backgrounds yet with same basic ideas, concerns, questions, etc, which grow and mature as you give vent to them. Where web 2.0 became a drag by the end of day(while its the latest buzzword for most others). Where you hangout post-event for five minute lightning talks, on subjects as wierd as 'law was never meant to be just and fair' to which led to an hour long debate on patents(thats the time till i was there.) But it was in those few good hours that it gave me a direction as to where i am and where i need to be. My only saving grace was that i managed to gather the thoughts to myself volunteer for a talk that day on eclipse, which though small, totally spontaneous, and meagerly attended, managed to put me on the homepage of the BarCampBangalore site :). Anyways, all said and done, its an event, the likes of which i would love to be a part of, time and again. Atleast two more barcamps are planned in near future, in mumbai and pune. So if you happen to find out about it, dont miss it. (And its not just for techies).

Those of you still wondering about the title of the post, here goes the History of Barcamp. Foocamp was organized by tim orielly(of orielly books fame)for general interactive talks on any new topics between intellectual people from various specializations, for free. However the list of attendees was by invitation only. And a few geeks who werent invited started there own inspired version of foocamp (which they do not hesitate to acknowledge) and called it..... "Bar"Camp of course. The first one was held unsurprisingly at palo alto. The motive was clear, come to the venue, find the timetable on the board, and fill up the session you want to take if there is any session empty. If you are not enterprising enough or just not in time to get a slot, stand a chance of being on the receiving side of the wide array of sessions that you are left to choose from. Open for all, no invitation, first come first served. It was a community by the people for the people. And now it has gained momentum all around the globe, with 4 conferences already done in india, over the last few weeks, and atleast two more to go. Long live the community..!! :)

Friday, April 21, 2006

Bangalore burns..!! And the Aftermath ....!!

Like many of you , i was frustrated, amazed, and embarrassed at the reaction to RajKumar's death. The embarrassment got worse, since a German colleague who held india in a very high esteem despite what he had heard of it before coming to visit india, ended up loosing his precious few days off from work which were meant to see more of this nation(read mysore etc.) He was left to watching Rajkumar songs, and riots on television in his hotel room instead of the brightly lit mysore palace.
Anyways, as i was about to pen down my flurry of thoughts that had been disturbing me since this incident....i came across this thread in a forum which i inspite of being really funny, ends up stimulating quite some intellectual brain cells. Few men trying to hold there point of view, do a very good job of it, and present some well researched facts/arguments which can be a delight evne if you are just about awake at 2:00 clock in the night...!! This also gives me an opportunity to finish a blog of mine in the same stretch as i started for the first time..!! (without saving draft)
So go ahead..and have some intellectual(or otherwise) fun with the Aftermath.!! :)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Paint the Autumn Colors

The spirit of renaissance rises again from its own ashes. A spirit which started diminishing soon after 1947 and hollowed gradually over time. Until what remained is a vacuum, an aberration called nationalism, patriotism, desh-bhakti in its different avatars, filled only with traces (sometimes abundance) of self comforting conceit, and complacency, that we are a proud nation. What more than vacuum would u call the patriotism which makes its call only during a world cup final (cricket of course), or an Indo-Pak match.

Though I confess it is a hyperbole to associate all patriotism with cricket and only cricket, we aren’t very far from it. Yes, we do feel indignant as a nation when the general from across the border sends his troops camouflaged as jehadi’s, or when someone attacks the parliament, or when Steve Bucknor unconvincingly declares yet another time, Tendulkar out LBW. The depressing part is, its only limited to these few occasion, and that the indignation failing to transform into any constructive energy form, yet bound by joules law, gets transformed to indignation against our own people, against our own selves leading to whirlpools of self destructive antagonism which suck into them any constructive individuals or energy that might be left.

As I wonder about the inanity of my weird metaphor, u must be wondering the same about my opening line. Where do I see the spirit rising again? I am talking about “Rang De Basanti” (what else does the title of the post mean??) & not in isolation though. As I imply, the fact that our generation hasn’t seen any of the struggles that went into bringing about the magnificent reform to freedom and republic has always, and is constantly acting against us. From my childhood, I remember one very favorite exam topic for essay’s in my Hindi Essay books. Few of us who went through the Hindi curriculum in school might recollect. “Swatantrata Swachchhandata nahin hai”. It meant “Independence is not free will”. Elaborated it means, democracy has its rules, and constitution which needs to be followed. Every right comes with a duty and blah blah. This was pretty much the message of our constitution too. But somehow these messages have lost there noise below other messages which are repeatedly (un)heard in the pandemonium within that dome which forms the soul (only symbolically) of the Indian republic. Sad part is that it is most often the upholders of constitution involved in this mockery. Anyways, today we look only at rights, rights, rights, and cribbing about everything else including our only duty which is paying of some taxes which for better or for worse is an absolute necessity to sustain the government of the country and will forever be.

The movie brings out the struggle which we were deprived (yes!!) of, and unlike scores of other movies which have addressed the freedom struggle, it draws a parallel in the need of awakening the mindset of the people today, to the pre independence struggle. May not have been the main intention of the writer, but certainly a spark in his thoughts, that there is a need to awaken ourselves, and it’s high time. If not done today, tomorrow we are not going to remain as free as we are. Or as we think we are. I constantly feel a thought and felt at home when I found it echoed in the movie again and again that “in the name of democracy & secularism, we have come to form a culture of extreme tolerance”. Tolerance to new religions, communities, people, and thoughts is praiseworthy. But somehow this tolerance got stretched into tolerance to traffic violations, tolerance to corrupt officials, tolerance to shit on the roads, tolerance to animals driving the highways, and just about everything. In short we have become a “Sab Chalta hai” culture. And we are facing the wrath!! A hawaldaar raping an innocent justice seeker…chalta hai!! Pistol-Wielding, Scotch-Imbued sons of heavyweight politicians shooting bullets at innocent victims and walking free on the road…chalta hai!! I could go on and on. And even if refrain from mentioning such news making controversial issues, we can’t evade that in our own, rather unassuming lives, we also feel the repercussions of this attitude. Cable TV is gone just before India-Pak series…chalta hai. There is only a 10 meter stretch that has been serving the traffic of a million people daily to Whitefield and back since 3 years now….Chalta hai..!! The bloody $@#$ing autowallahs (sorry this is really a very heartfelt grudge) asking for 50 bucks for a 10 bucks ride.. chalta hai. Oh come on..!!

How long will we keep tolerating, giving into each such nuisance? And how long will we be silent? Not that we need to stand up and shoot the politicians. Cos that is not going to solve things!! The problem is rooted into each and every one of us, and we have to remove it there. We have to learn to become intolerant to everything that is wrong, unlawful, or just simply doesn’t make sense. By this I imply above all, that we ourselves have to ensure we do not become practitioners of one of these intolerable habits. I AM not supposed to jump the signal, I AM not supposed to litter the road. I AM supposed to give way on a free left turn. At the same time, I AM also supposed to lash out against everybody who does wrong to me, take to task the rickshaw walla, and stop giving them just about any kind money they ask for (try the good ole buses at times, they are really efficient). And take to task the law breakers. I understand that for the latter it’s difficult to reform some entities, even if you have an arsenal of arguments, abuses etc. lined up besides you. You have to become instrumental and influential enough to make you heard.

One very important role we thus need to assume is of responsible politicians, responsible leaders. There was a time when I was convinced by the standard arguments that the colossal expanse of the country cannot be fixed by one government in one term but needs years and years. But as I grow, I feel it’s a myth, or rather an excuse. Once Broken up into constituencies, districts, panchayats, etc. we have leaders at each level who are responsible not for the whole nation, but there own territories, for which they should have a single point of agenda for there full terms (5 full years generally). And that should be of course to bring prosperity to there people, fix everything that’s broken. But the only thing that is being fixed 24*7 is the government, and its precarious balance. Few from us (or more) have to rise to take these roles, and in the process give up some temporary material pleasures. Otherwise ….”chalta hai”.

As disappointed as I was with the director of “Rang De Basanti” for killing everybody in the end, I later argued with myself about the directors’ thoughtfulness in giving it the end that was. While his real intention of drawing parallels with freedom struggle did necessitate, that the heroes kill someone, he did his best perhaps to ensure, that he did not send out a wrong message. He did it I guess almost at the cost of the movies fate. Because nobody I met thought the end should have been that way. Just that the rest of the movie was so wonderful. But what he ensured was to deter any fools who might be misleaded into thinking that the only road to atonement from the present is to kill a corrupt politician. He made sure that the message went out clear, and wide, that constitutional killers would deserve only one fate and that is merciless death. This is my guess of his reasoning, and if true, I regard him highly for his thoughtfulness.

How do i conclude it? There is none. All i can think of is, that as i write and as u read, we are all busy painting our own corner of the world blindly with colors of autumn, but we forget to notice, that the canvas is pitch black, and however hard we try, the shades of black will always cast there shadows. Its time we change the canvas first, and then think about the colors.

And to end in the tritest (is that a word?? not in oxford maybe) manner possible, I quote one from the father of this crumbling nation – You must be the change you wish to see in the world

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Rang De Orkut...!!!

"I always thought there are two kinds of people in this world. ONE, who die in their sleep, and TWO who die screaming. And then i met the third kind....!! Those who ..blah blah...." of the many motivational quotes made in RDB. And i quote this with no intention of talking serious/motivational stuff(which i perhaps overdid in my other RDB blog), and breaking the preamble of my blog which btw, you need not search for in any of my blogs. The preamble is simply the title+link of the blog.

So what's the relevance...?? Not much...but the analogy i happened to draw in the Orkut world while conversing with a friend. We thought it was amusing:), and its ok if you dont, but please dont judge my sense of humor..since it can get worse than this:)) Here i go.

"I always thought there are two kind of vicenarian's in today's inter-networked world. One.. who keep looking at profiles/scraps/photos of friend/friend>friend/friend>..>..>..>friend...and live in this bits and bytes society, which at some times seems more lively and refreshing than the flesh and blood world. Two.. whose profiles/scraps/photos are being constantly looked at by the type ONE:)

And then i "never met" the third kind..!....but there is a third kind. And the reason for the bold remark is self evident...Cos they are the guys who aint on orkut at all..!!:)

Most lazy people like me should agree with the fact that orkut has given a great opportunity to catch up with a lot of old friends who otherwise would be non-existent in your social domain. And thus i hardly get to meet or am not in touch with the third kind..!

And now given that we have defined the type "Two", we may extend the definition of "One", as those who constantly aspire/hope/make futile efforts to be in type "Two". Though i would not deny having done some orkuting myself into pages of people connected only through a chain of a score other friends. And i have done it with that very purpose. Trying to see how far away from my social circle, my community, can i reach through a network of connected friends. Needless to say, if you havent done it, you probably are one of the busiest persons around and would not have the time for it anyways.

To reflect, orkut has opened up a whole new route to keep in touch with friends. It feels great to be able to see there faces now and then. Unlike MSN or Yahoo, where u dont even know how many and who all may be present in your long list of friends. And the other side of the coin...well there an other side to every thing. But who cares. We are all smart enough to use it in the most effective way for us. Have fun n keep orkuting :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Revolution in the valley..!!

Most surprisingly(to myself) this blog is turning out to be a book review..!! given that 50% of the blogs are book reviews...!! You CAN verify the accuracy of my claims..!!

So... this time the book is called "Revolution in the Valley - The insanely great story of how the MAC was made". Yes...the same old silicon valley... and the "REVOLUTION" was the release of the first user-friendly PC by APPLE called the MACINTOSH.... which all of us(pardon me for being presumptuous... but thats what i am.. in this matter) at some point of time have dreamt(or still do) of owning, while lucky few have actually had their dream fulfilled. ANd the story is really insane.
Not so much of a book i should call it. You will never for a moment feel the usual drab associated with biographical accounts of companies/people. This one is like a collection of anecdotes.. recollection by the main author and some other ppl, who were in the team which developed the first Macintosh.

That was an era when guys worked for realizing their passions rather than make money. Where design was governed by will to excel...rather than requirements from Manager. Again, its a must read for any Software engineer. And a very interesting reading for any creative thinking soul.
I could go on babbling..and make invain attempts to bring out the philosophy of the book, but the better approach would be to put few most interesting quotes and incidents mentioned in the book, and u will see the rational behind my recommendation.

***Bill gates.. on Steve Jobs' allegations of stealing Macintosh ideas***

"You're ripping us off!", Steve shouted, raising his voice even higher. "I trusted you, and now you're stealing from us!"
But Bill Gates just stood there coolly, looking Steve directly in the eye, before starting to speak in his squeaky voice.
"Well, Steve, I think there's more than one way of looking at it. I think it's more like we both had this rich neighbor named Xerox and I broke into his house to steal the TV set and found out that you had already stolen it."
(Yes it turns out many of macintosh's ideas, including the mouse were drawn from Xerox PC)

****Apple designers think Bill gates' code is rubbish****

We thought the concept of the game was as bad the crude graphics that it used. Since the game was written in BASIC, you could list it out and see how it was written. We were surprised to see that the comments at the top of the game proudly proclaimed the authors: Bill Gates and Neil Konzen. Neil was a bright teenage hacker who I knew from his work on the Apple II (who would later become Microsoft's technical lead on the Mac project) but we were amazed that such a thoroughly bad game could be co-authored by Microsoft's co-founder, and that he would actually want to take credit for it in the comments.

*** Bill Atkinson, one of the main designers of MAC, on not being given due credit by Steve jobs****

"Hey, listen, I'm sorry, but you're overreacting and blowing things out of proportion," Steve(jobs) replied in a dismissive tone. "Who cares about a couple of magazines? You should have been included, but you weren't. Someone made a mistake. It's not such a big deal."
"That's easy for you to say," Bill retorted, upset at the lack of sympathy. He raised his voice, which was full of emotion. "I'm not going to work here anymore if you don't appreciate what I've done and treat me fairly."

****Few guys from the team decide to hoist a pirate flag on the buildng where they worked****

Finally, on Sunday night around 10pm, it was time to hoist the Jolly Roger. Capps climbed onto the roof while we stood guard below. He wasn't sure how he would attach the flag, and didn't have many tools with him. He scoured the surface of the roof and found three or four long, rusty nails, which he was able to use to secure the flag pole to a groove in the roof, ready to greet the Mac team members as they entered the new building the next morning.

The flag waved proudly over Bandley 3 for about a month or two, but one morning in late September or early October, I noticed that it was gone. It turns out that the Lisa team, with whom we had a mostly friendly rivalry, decided it would be fun to steal the flag for themselves. I think they sent us a ransom note or something, so a few of us stormed over to the Lisa building to retrieve it, which we accomplished, although Capps had to wrestle it from the grasp of one of the secretaries, who was hiding it in her desk.

**** Steve jobs sheer confidence(or arrogance) while making a sales pitch for the first Macintosh's to a university (I found this funny)****

Andy van Dam cleared his throat and looked right at Steve. "Well, its really impressive, Steve, and of course we'll want to join your program. But it's not exactly what we've been waiting for."
Steve looked a little angry. "What are you waiting for? You're going to have to wait a long time to find something better than the Mac!"
"Well, 128K isn't nearly enough memory to do what we want, not even close, and the screen is just too small. We're waiting for a 3M machine, and most of the other colleges are, too."
"A what?"
"A 3M machine. There was a recently published paper that coined the term. You know, a workstation with at least a megabyte of memory, a million pixel display, and a megaflop of computational horsepower. We believe that's what we need for an effective educational workstation."
A megaflop was the ability to execute one million floating point operations per second. The Mac didn't have any floating point hardware, so it was off by an order of magnitude. In fact, we were off by around a factor of 10 in each of the three dimensions.
"Oh, we believe in that, too," Steve shot back, without skipping a beat. "Apple will have an affordable 3M machine before anyone else. I only have one question. What's a megaflop?"

**** Again...Steve jobs' assuming confidence and sense of humor****

"How many man-years did it take to write QuickDraw?", the Byte magazine reporter asked Steve.
Steve turned to look at Bill. "Bill, how long did you spend writing Quickdraw?"
"Well, I worked on it on and off for four years", Bill replied.
Steve paused for a beat and then turned back to the Byte reporter. "Twenty-four man-years. We invested twenty-four man-years in QuickDraw."
Obviously, Steve figured that one Atkinson year equaled six man years, which may have been a modest estimate.


Basically.... going through the book, i realized how work could be so much more fun if approached with a right attitude and passion, and most importantly a sense of belonging. There is really much more than what i just put here. Steve Jobs extreme assertiveness, his eccentricity, and the small little workplace incidents. Its a treat alltogether. With a lot of takeaways, if u do want to. I read this book from the hardbound edition which would make for an excellent collectors copy. But for the few of us who would rather not waste their 800 bucks...all the stories are also available on the website "", though it is not so much fun(personal opinion) to read it from a glaring screen vis-a-vis the good old book in your hand.