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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tidbits on Outsourcing

Well, unlike the previous US presidential elections, outsourcing to countries like India does not seem like a hot topic for the upcoming US presidential elections. However, outsourcing still happens, but sometimes, a lot different from popuplar perceptions.

If you thought India was the only country out their stealing American jobs, let me tell you about Trilogy. Trilogy, where I worked earlier, is a privately held company and all its shareholders are Americans. In 2000, they decided to move a lot of their Software Development (SD) to Bangalore by building up their own Development center in India. Nothing new, one would say. Most companies like Yahoo, Amazon, Microsoft and Google do or did the same.

However, in 2005, they decided that it was best to use India for innovation and they believed that SD has become routine job, which should be outsourced further. The result is that mundane tasks are outsourced to partner organizations in Ukraine, where apparently you can get PhDs at half the cost of a Bangalore Engineer, and other not-so-mundane SD work has been moved to Trilogy's China office. So, has the predator become the prey?

This story is best exemplified in the movie Outsourced, a very hilarious take on outsourcing. Asif Basra, Ayesha Dharker and Josh Hamilton have done a wonderful job. There is a bit of exaggeration here and there, but all in all, its a really well done. I laughed my stomach out.

While on the topic, Wallstrip did a nice take on Wipro, one of the outsourcing giants from India.

Gesture recognition and the like

When I was working on my thesis at IITK, my guide, Prof Mukerjee was also involved in another field - gesture recognition. At that time, I was always a bit skeptical on whether gesture recognition will find an immediate (or short term) commercial use. Turns out, it will indeed be used. Recent reports on Venture Beat suggest that Gaming will soon be using gesture recognition in interesting ways.

At IITK alone, my junior and good friend Rahul Banerjee's work was focussed on gesture recognition, and so does Mondal, Maji, Pal and Mukerjee's work point to some work in gesture recognition.

Interesting Google Feature

As you might have noticed that I use Google Adsense on my blog. I don't earn much money, but I like to use it to see what kind of ads are presented on each topic. The most impressive part of Google Adsense has always been about the way it automatically detects what ads to show. Context senstive ads helps publishers in having relevant ads on their sites helping them make money. Of course, it can go horribly wrong sometimes, but generally its okay.

So, today I was very surprised to see this on my blog.

It seems Google has introduced a new feature where you can simply request an ad for a particular topic instead of the Google guys doing it for you. Or does it mean they got no clue on what to show and therefore decide to ask readers of my blog? The last post was about acting. So when I typed acting in the box, it took me to this page.
I can't understand why the same ads could not have showed up in the previous page? Interesting days these are.....

Remarkable debut - Immaduddin

I have been spending the last few days watching a bunch of movies. I watched Oceans' 13, Dil Dosti etc, The Rookie, Yun Hota to Kaisa Hota, completed watching Phir Milenge etc. When I was watching Dil Dosti etc, I found the acting of Immaduddin Shah remarkably good.

Various questions were popping into my head about this rather unheralded but good actor. Out of curiosity, I looked up IMDB. Figured out that his debut movie was Yun Hota to Kaisa Hota. I had already bought that CD sometime back. Thought this was the best time to watch it. I found Imaduddin's acting in that also very good. His delivery of pure Hindi dialogues reminded me of Chupke Chupke.

Also, turns out that Imaduddin is the son of legendary actors - Naseerudin Shah and Ratna Pathak Shah. The lineage of fine acting seems to be continuing with Imaduddin also. Imaduddin has every chance of becoming as good as his father. All the very best to him. I will eagerly await Little Zizou, his next movie.

ps: On a side side, I was wondering if he could anything about that rather unorthodox and shabby looking hair-style of his. :-)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Knol and the like...

For techies like me, it was another week where Google has launched yet another initiative. The list of fields they enter into, or intend to enter into, is getting longer. Android for Telephones, Green initiatives on Google.org, Bidding for telecom spectrum, GOOG-411, Open Social and the latest - Knol. Knol is their initiative to build up an encyclopedia based on community inputs and is expected to compete with Wikipedia. This project has got me thinking.

The code word Knol was given because it is supposed to be a "Unit of Knowledge". Since it is, I actually started thinking about how one could measure the value of a certain piece of knowledge into knols? For instance, how many knols would Theory of Relativity be? and how much would be Newtons Laws? or in Computer Science - how many knols would be Quicksort? What about Bubble sort which is not practically used? Would that mean its knol would decrease?

I am looking for answers, and if anybody got any answers, do leave a comment....

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Me, Myself and TechNews

My day never seems complete unless I pick up my daily dose of news, specially Tech news. While my appetite for regular news is fulfilled by the Good Old Times of India paper edition delivered to my home, much of the tech news I consume come from a bunch of blogs. My personal favorites are TechCrunch (Michael Arrington, Eric Schonfield and co.), Digital Daily (John Paczkowski), Boom Town (Kara Miller) etc.

Recently, I found two innovations by separate companies very useful in my constant search for good content in this space. First is Google Reader's Discover option. I use Google Reader to consolidate all my subscriptions and use it as one place to read all content. Now, they introduced "Discover" feature which lets you know other related blogs using a bunch of parameters. I discovered the Docu Drama Blog, Venture Beat, Serving Both Sides and Paul Kedrosky's Infectious Greed using this feature.

The second is LinkedIn's "Most read Articles" pertaining to your company. I love this. It is kind of still buggy as it announced Yahoo's Reorg news as the latest which, in fact, is a one year old news. I have already reported it to LinkedIn's customer service. I am sure LinkedIn will fix this bugs in near future, but as it is it is still a very attractive feature. As I blogged earlier that I love LinkedIn for its various features, but this one does make me comeback each other and check up interesting stories. :-)

Today's picks for me:

Monday, December 10, 2007

Startups Galore

I am back from my trip to Delhi/IITK. It was an eventful trip, but nothing as striking as to come in touch with 3 people all planning startups. Aditya Chadha, my good old classmate from Delhi University days had already touched base with me 3-4 weeks earlier about getting some info about a Mobile-payments based startup out of India. I have allowed him good use of my networks and promised him whatever logistics support I can give him.

Similarly, when I landed in Delhi, I met a junior who is working on an idea in the Health care industry. When I further travelled to IITK the next day, I called up one of my professors who was immediate in inviting me over for dinner. Over dinner, he told me about one of his students having incorporated a company and asking me about whereas options of funding it and the process involved in building up a team. While we were still at it, another of his students, Mohit Mundhra walked in (and I knew him from my days at the campus) and he informed me that he has started off a company (Aurora Systems) in Bangalore and is waiting for his thesis to get started on work.

Thats exposure to 4 people planning startups in a gap of month. Its rather striking how so many people want to throw in a promising but predictable career to have a go at a startup. Mind you, these are not guys who want to work for a startup, but want to start something off on their own.

I myself started off in a start-up and worked for one more startup before moving to Yahoo recently. I think it is very courageous but the right thing for these guys to do. They have an idea and the passion to go after it and nothing but to take that step.

My best wishes to all the 4 parties involved and I hope I can contribute in whatever way I can, within the restrictions of being in Yahoo.

Update: Michael Arrington at TechCrunch wrote a really good piece - "The Twice Shy Entrepruener" about old guard versus new guard startups and their techprueners. Read it.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Back in Bangalore

I am done with my long trip to IITK/Delhi. The campus recruitment got done and Yahoo offered 9 people a good career with Yahoo. It was a very eventual and tiring trip. Some key incidents include mock-hijack-drills, start-up discussions, stripping-searching-shoes-at-airport, and working till 3.30 to get things done.

I am more than glad to have Dennis, Mahesh, Deepanshu, Rishi, Zulfi, Prashant, Maneesh and Yogendra on this trip with me. They were a fantastic bunch, fun-loving and very mature to be on a trip like this. We also had to make some key decisions in making the final selection list and these guys all contributed to their best.

The selection process was simple - one written test, one personal interview, a programming test and voila - you are done. Each round was eliminating a bunch of the applicants. We started off, I believe, with about 100 and ended up with 9 selections.

We selected a bunch of those upfront and rejected a lot of them. But the key decision making always comes down to the border-line guys. You can't decide. Any candidate was evaluated by at least two guys and one written test.

But sometimes, even with all that data, you can't decide whether to pick or drop them. One 3 guys in such a list, the whole bunch of recruiting team sat down from 10 PM in the night to 1.30 AM to make the key decision. We ended up favoring of them and rejecting one of them.

Incidentally, that one candidate came up to me and asked what was the reason he didn't get selected. I spent a good 15-20 minutes chatting up with him, explaining what the process was and how we had to do all this brainstorming to arrive at this decision. I also gave him some candid feedback about where things might have gone wrong with him. It happens that you have good profile but have a bad day. It happens that having to select among so many people, you come up with a criteria where some guys get dropped. It Happens... Eventually, I wished him all the very best and I really hope he gets through some other companies offer in a day or two.

After all this, the Student Placement Office (SPO) wanted some feedback and we offered them feedback on how many of the candidates were lacking in specific skills and how they can be better prepared. More on that later.

There is so much more to write about this trip that I am gonna split it into a bunch of posts and hopefully finish off this week.... :-)

Update: "Start Ups Galore" and "On a Hijack High" links have been updated.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Cricket Blogging

Those of you who have spent some time with me will surely know my passion for cricket and my penchant for numbers. Given my habit of popping out some cricket numbers in discussions, I have decided to bring it to blogosphere. Presenting to you my new cricket blog at http://cricketnumbers.blogspot.com. Turns out that recalling a fact from memory is far more easier than researching a new statistics and putting it out. But I am there with two posts in two days...

Feel free to comment, criticize, suggest, contribute....

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Campus trip to IITK/Delhi

Yahoo is going to be visiting IIT Kanpur campus for interviews next week. I am also one of the members on the entourage. I will also be spending time over the weekend and Monday at New Delhi. Let me know if you wanna catch up over a cup of tea either when I am in Delhi or at Kanpur. I should be available on 9342447762. :-)

I am very very excited to be going back to IITK campus after a long gap of 3.5 years. I miss so many things at IITK - the hostel, the canteen, the bulla-katna, the walks in the campus, the beautiful department building CSE had, the peacocks..... Hopefully I get enjoy some of it.

I am of course glad to be touching the capital en route. I will probably meet up with my Dad (who supposes himself as a "freelance journalist" and shuttles between Delhi and Bangalore), catch up with old college mates (discuss up some devious idea to "change" the world), meet up my inlaws, travel in metro, eat up good paranthas, soak up the winter and the list is unending.... I dunno what all am I gonna manage in three days...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Kolkata Ho.... Yahoo Recruitment drive on 30 Nov - 1st Dec

Update: Its past the date, so now use sending anything now...

Yahoo is conducting Tech Lead recruitment drive at Kolkata on 30 Dec - 1st Nov 2007. If you wish to work in a challenging environment in the Internet Domain on cutting edge problems and high end technologies, Yahoo is the place for you. Yahoo has good compensation along with great perks. If you match the following criteria, walk in:

You should have 5-8 years of experience in programming vertical internet or data rich applications particularly with most of the following technology set

* BS/MS in Computer Science
* Strong in DB designs and DB performance tuning
* Good knowledge of SQL, especially writing & tuning queries for large, rapidly growing data
* Oracle RAC, and client-side OCI/JDBC over Unix preferred
* Good knowledge of system programming constructs (FreeBSD/Linux), HTTP, Java or C++
* Should have built/designed scalable high transaction-rate systems
* Aware of testing, release and deployment methodologies
* Aware of performance testing and benchmarking web based applications

9AM – 5PM on 30th November 07
9AM – 2PM on 1st December 07

Update: Its past the date, so now use sending anything now...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ubuntu problems

I was down with cold and throat infection all weekend and yesterday. And while I was in bed on saturday, I thought I should fix up the ubuntu installation on my machine. I have two other OS installations, RHEL 4.4 for work, Windows XP for all the PC only software (iTunes, Picassa uploader, Flickr uploader etc). I did install Ubuntu 7.04 on a 8GB partition on my HP 6400 laptop. I did install well, but the wifi just wouldn't work. I tried a bunch of things including ndiswrapper and followed numerous howtos on the net and still couldn't get it to work.

For me, Ubuntu was going to be primarily a home use OS and since I have wifi installed at home, and running wires is a strict no-no from my wife, using a OS where wifi doesn't work is useless for me. For that matter, even RHEL 4.4 doesn't support wifi, but thats where my teams develops and hence couldn't avoid. Instead, I avoid using RHEL at home!!

So, on Saturday, I got a install DVD of Ubuntu 7.10 and tried installing it. Shockingly, I could not even get it to install. The problem seems to be with the kernel module - linux-generic. After try a couple of times, (and screwing up my GRUB bootloader), I switched to trying and installing the kernel module - linux-server instead. Somehow that install did get done, but I still could not get XServer working, forget wifi. I eventually did lose hope. Decided to leave the installation is as is, reconfigured GRUB loader and made RHEL 4.4 as the default boot OS.

For those who have heard me harp about Ubuntu being the first "Linux for human beings" blah blah comments, this should come as a surprise, but alas, Ubuntu has again made me work with all these dirty hacks to get it going. I loved the idea of Ubuntu working off the box, but if it doesn't, then I am not the one to try hacks after hacks, recompilation after recompilation to make it work. This week, I am gonna try Fedora 7 or 8 and see if that works. If anybody had similar or contrasting experience, drop a comment or email.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Traffic for this blog

I had installed StatCounter on this blog sometime back. The prime reason was that I wanted to feel good about the high traffic that I was hopefully receiving. Turns out, I don't have bad traffic coming in. Thanks to you all for that. Whats interesting is that StatCounter allows you to check out where the traffic came from. Here is a quick summary:
  • 25% came directly. I do put the link in my email signature. Didn't know it makes that much impact. :-)
  • 21% from Web Searches on:
    • Arijasoft, my senior Kapil's startup
    • Jindal Aluminium, on whose job ad, I had put up a humurous post
    • IITK MTech CSE Thesis, I did present a thesis at IITK-CSE
    • Ugenie Bangalore, I worked there!
    • Ritesh Gulabani, a very close friend of mine
    • Malaika Nach Baliye, on which I did a post sometime back
    • Shreeniwas Iyer, which is my name
  • 12% from my LinkedIn private or public profiles.
  • 10% from my Orkut page.
BTW, I did make $2.15 from Google Adsense on this blog. I guess none of you guys find any interesting ads to click on... But anyway, thanks for all the traffic. Keep reading the blog and putting in comments.

Sangakkara Supreme and Unfortunate Umpiring

Ok, I got lucky. Because my mom arrived from chennai at 5.30 in the morning, I woke up that early and since there was nothing much I could think of doing, I switched on the TV and sat down to watch the final day of the second Test between The Lankans and Aussies. SL was 8 down at about 280 odd chasing 500+ and one would think there is nothing left to see.

But what a brilliant innings from Sangakkara. He was 140 odd and he moved to 192 in no time. Superb shots in all directions off all the bowlers. He was playing supremely. Moving around the pitch and timing at will, if he played a shot, the only way it would be a dot is if a fielder pounced on it. Two shots, both off Brett Lee, particulary impressed me. One was a flick of a chest high fast-short ball into fine leg boundary. Another was similar fast, even shorter ball, guided intentionally off the middle of the bat across the 3-5 slips area into the boundary.

I would have sat up watching him all day, but alas, he was given out. Mind you, I didn't say he was out, only he was given out. Rudy Koertzen gives him caught behind when he attempted a hook and his bat was nowhere near the ball, touching the shoulder and helmet on the way to Slips. He was given out at 192. What a pity. Considering that Lasith Malinga was giving him solid support and the Lankans ended up only 96 behind, it seems, it could have been a lot closer.

I fail to understand when Cricket will move closer to use technology for controversial decisions. Considering the recent Ind-Eng test series, where there were a host of bad decisions, and this one, it suddenly seems that Umpiring errors have increased. As my colleague Narayan suggests, we should let the captain have three chances to appeal for a TV driven decision if he feels that the umpire on the ground has faulted. Really good idea. Let me think about it. Maybe I will post more on it.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I recently wrote about my acquisition of Canon A 550. Let me tell how I got about it. Last year, I was testing out a bunch of sites, one of which was 43things. I had put in a "thing-to-do" buy a camera and it used to send out reminders to "dear future-self". And that was how I was constantly reminded to buy it (I know it sounds like a job one's wife would be doing!!!). And I eventually got down to buying it one such mail. How about going a adding one for yourself?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Canon A550

I announced in one of the lunches while at Ugenie about my new acquisition in Electronics - Canon PowerShot A550. My dear friend Ajit started quizzing me all about how I could make sure it was the best camera and all. I tried a bit but couldn't do it convincingly. To be frank there is only a certain level of caution and research you can do before buying stuff - eventually you got to do it. And more so, the PowerShot brand is well established, the camera's specs looked good and it was well priced (At 9600 for camera + 1GB + pouch).

What I decided after that discussion was to take it out for a stress test. So, on a recent trip to Tirupathi, I took random clicks out of the moving car of scenery around. What came out is some good scenery photos. Any of you photography experts can comment, but that seems good to me.

Moving On..... to Y!

Its been ages since I blogged. I have been busy with a key transition - changing my employer. I moved on from Ugenie to Yahoo! last week. Ugenie continues to be a fantastic place to work and I deeply enjoyed my 15 month stay there. I did some good work and was appreciated/recognized for the same. I also made some great friendships out of my stay there. But there were reasons for me to move on. To discuss more, lets meet up over a cup of hot adrak-wali-chai.

Why did I chose Yahoo? Firstly - I only considered large organizations, publicly listed and having good work to do in the Internet space. Mindshare among developers and presence of smart people were almost mandatory. Along with that, opportunity to continue in Bangalore, extend my experience in Java, and good money would have been a bonus. As it happens, Yahoo and me were the only combination that worked out to my preferences.

So here I am. I have joined the PacMan team in LMC group at Yahoo's EGL office in Bangalore. If you are a Yahoo, look me up at backyard by the name of "Shreeniwas Iyer" and stop by for a chat.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Feeling for Pakistan

So, India did manage to win the first World T20. Great!! Congrats to the Indian team and every supporter of theirs!! I watched the match with a friend of mine and I was telling him that I will feel bad for whoever ends up losing the game, specially in a close encounter. So, here we are, close encounter and Pakistan end up on the losing side. Feel really bad for them, and more so for Misbah. I guess, he is going to win a lot of matches for them in the future, but surely, he is gonna be feeling very bad about this.

Having said that, I made 60,000 Chips on Cricket Betting, the cool app on facebook, which was developed partially by me. There were millions of chips bets on the match and I ended up making 160,000 on the 100,000 Chips I bet. It was real cool.

And here is a joke on the match by my colleague Midhun:


Misbah thought he was sending the ball to a place where there was no one.

He did not know that there is a Malayalee in every corner of the world!!!

ps: No prizes for guessing that Midhun is a Mallu.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Indo-Pak final

Ok cool, so we have a final clash between India and Pakistan in the ICC World T20. Fans through out the subcontinent are going to be up and supporting their teams - India or Pakistan depending on where they are from.

Both these teams meeting in the final brings together many aspects of this great leveler game. Think about it, both these teams had been pushed out the ODI world cup earlier this year by minnows and here they are, a few months later, fighting it out for the next major tournament in Cricket. Both these teams have reached the final by defeating some big names and deserve to be out there tonight.

But the similarities don't stop there. Here's a look at all similarities between these teams:
  • Both teams were pushed out of the ODI WC.
  • Both lost their coaches since th WC, Pakistan losing Bob Woolmer to death and India losing Greg Chapel to resignation.
  • Both have had captaincy changes - Shoaib Malik for Pak and MS Dhoni for India.
  • Both captains could not have been imagined a few months back - neither Shoaib Malik nor MS Dhoni were in the reckoning, but were pushed because of Younis Khan declining captaincy and Dravid declining to play in T20 WC.
  • Both teams have had scandals and issues back home. Pakistant has had issues with Inzamam stepping aside, Younis Khan declining captaincy, Shoaib Akthar running into all sorts of problems. India has had Dravid recently resign, BCCI has been challenged by ICL and India has not able to find a coach for its cricket team.
  • Both teams had their key players missing since their ODI WC team - Pak has lost Inzamam, Mohd Yousuf and Shoaib (though official Shoias was not a part of their WC team, I'll include him) and India had their big three (Sachin, Sourav and Dravid) and Zaheer Khan resting for this tournament.
The two teams are equally stacked up against each other and I really hope it goes to the wire. I am naturally going to be supporting India, but for me, a washout leading to splitting the honors seems to be the best result.

ps: I watched the match against Australia with three Sardarjis - Amanjeet, Amarjeet and Harmanjeet. It was so much fun to watch it with them, specially when two Punjabis were firing on the field - Yuvi and Bhajji. Bhajji even did a short Bhangra which we all replicated in our TV room. It was real fun, believe me.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Facebook frustrates developers

Mock AJAX, one of the ways in which you can use JavaScript on Facebook apps, and the method that was most encouraged by Facebook, has been down. Interestingly, only the Mock AJAX is down and not the rest of the API or the site. Read more about it. Interestingly, if you use apps.beta.facebook.com instead of apps.facebook.com, Mock AJAX also works. Funny, though not for developers.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Facebook down

In the last few weeks I have been working on developing a bunch of facebook applications. Among them are "Apples n Oranges" and "Sports Betting". So, my normal work day starts by logging in to Facebook and doing a status check. It seems that facebook is down. What a shame. As my collegue Krishna says - "There are thousands of company who are losing money when facebook goes down."

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tale of Mistake Identities

I all for "Self Expression", the overarching theme of most social networks, but sometimes its too much. I am fine if me or my friends want to express themselves through their preferred books, music, TV, even their profile photos (sometimes ridiculous snaps!!). But when people prefer to change their names for self expression, it becomes unbearable.

On my orkut profile, I see people with names like "Neo", "K A", "Pechchan Kaun", "G K .....", "Pyramid, Back to Beijing", "Guns n Roses", "Arijasoft is recruiting", "Princess", "Ç †–† ë ê ¦‹ ù™ ............................ ", "dadada ishtyleee BABA", "M J", "A Shredded Soul (But Then, Who Cares?)", "Rising from the ashes". Not just that, I find it impossible to recognize these people when they write a scrap. Many times, I dig around their profile page or their scrapbook to figure out who the f**k is this fella who is asking me what I did last weekend...

I guess they all want to express themselves as obscure unrecognizable, but eminently friendly acquaintances.

ps: Its moments like these that I thank the orderly fashion in which Facebook works where they don't allow you to change names without an approval from their end which purportedly checks for pornographic or derogatory names, but hopefully also checks for obscurity also. :-)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Independence Day Celebrations and Hangover

Wishing all Indians a very happy Independence Day, and, belatedly, all Pakistanis a very happy Independence Day.

I have had very fond memories of Aug 15 celebrations all my life; of getting together at our society for flag hoisting; of listening to PM speeches; of listening to some great patriotic songs (which I am doing today too from a special Patriotic Songs CD I had burnt some time back); of distributing sweets; of flying kites in Delhi (from the roof top with Pepsi and some songs playing); debating the future of this country with friends like Tarun, Sujay and Amit Ahuja; and so on.

But as far a memories go, the IITK celebrations takes the cake. I happened to be at Hall 4 at IITK, where I was the President also. Our manager, NarainDa used to arrange for the Flag Hoisting and sweets. Early morning, a small sleepy bunch of students used to gather to celebrate and our Wardens, Prof Gupta, Prof Biswas and Prof Eswaran used to get together for the hoisting. Prof Eswaran even gave a great speech in 2003. I distinctly recall being a part of all 4 days (2 IDays and 2 R-Days) for the celebrations and thoroughly enjoying it. I even recall my friend Ritesh Gulabani also being there every time.

But as much as I loved the morning part of the celebrations, lunch onwards, the hangover would kick in. Which hangover am I talking about? the one after some alcohol? no way. It is I-Day, dry day and I am damn serious about celebrating it in the right spirit (pun intended). The hangover was the food hangover. Because of 15-Aug being a mandatory off, the mess would close off from lunch onwards. So, you were left to eat at the Ashok's Canteen. The overworked canteen could not serve you dinner in anything short of 1 hour after ordering. And the usually relaxing lawn outside the canteen used to seem like an overcrowded place.

Eventually, you ended up having a dinner somehow, caught some sleep, started next day, had lunch and came back in the evening for the regular cup of tea. And thats when you caught the second half of the IDay hangover. The overworked canteen staff would catch an off the day after and you were then left looking out for the strong cup of hot-hot tea you were so used to.

Of all things I will celebrate on this I-day, I want to pay my tributes to both the Mess and the Canteen staff for working so well to make sure that our stomachs were fill, I Day or not. Kudos to them.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Reporting at its best

I have been a reader of Times of India for the past 15 years. The early part of that time was spent in general admiration of a good newspaper that brought about the views of the Post Liberalization phase of India. Then came along a period when TOI was not making such a unique impact, but still there seemed no reason to change.

Of late, TOI has pretty much been downright gibberish. I regularly read the front page, the business and sports pages. Every day, I end up finding multiple spelling and Grammatical mistakes. I was joking the other day that if I marked a every mistake in the newspaper and kept a record of such 30 days, I might as well present it for a chance to become TOI's editor.

Yesterday, for instance, they chose to put "A pair of Pathans for Indian Cricket" on the home page. Now, it doesn't make any sense. For one, it was hardly interesting news. While Irfan Pathan has been consistently failing recently, Yusuf Pathan has been pretty much unknown and both of them playing together cannot possibly be compared to, say, the crisis in Pakistan or other more pressing issues. But no, there goes TOI glorifying "Pathan Pair".

Anyhow, looking out for alternatives, I bumped into this Rediff article about cricket, specially the upcoming third test. The article mentions that India has won only one series in England, that too in 1986. Where did the 1971 series go? Oh, that! The reporter adds that India ended up losing the series 1-0 as England squeezed through to 173. Now, what are we talking about?

To say that the article was horrible is demonstrated by the comments posted on the pages. Copying verbatim:

"While mentioning the 1971 Oval test the writer says above 'England managed to squeeze home by six wickets, chasing 173 for victory to clinch the three-Test series 1-0'. It was India that won the match with Abid Ali scoring winning runs after Chandrasekhar bowled England out for 101. Who can forget his match winning spell of 6 for 38? Please make sure to put correct information."


"There is another incorrect information. It says that the only series India won was in 1986. The fact is India won 2 series in England, once in 1971 and then in 1986. This reporter does not even know the facts and writing as if he is the expert. What kind of reporting is this?"

Oh, by the way, it took me less than 5 minutes to figure out the records on India England series played in England with India having won.

ps: I have to start finding a new newspaper. Any suggestions.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Ad for bad boss

Talking about bad bosses, I would have almost missed noticing a mail pointing me to this amazingly hilarious advertisement for CEO of Jindal Aluminium. Quoting from there, job responsibility:

"continously monitoring all departments and taking stem action on employees for shirking duty inefficiency lapses non performance etc"

and from the Ideal-Candidate-Section:

"must be able to handle senior people executives intellectuals etc. whose habit is to make excuses followed by arguments instead of admitting and improving thus wasting time and energy. Person who is not tough and able to take strict action (like & live wire) need not apply.
No softness or looseness and not giving attitude or supporting employees ignoring the interest of the company. "

Now, thats what I call is a truly interesting and challenging assignment. :-) Thanks to Anil Bijlani and V N Bhattarcharya through whom I received a mail with pointing to this ad.

Addicted to LinkedIn

More than a year back, when I was working with Chikki at Trilogy, I asked him why I should be registering on LinkedIn when I already have an account at Orkut, where I have already added my friends. "Orkut is for fun, LinkedIn is for career" - pat came the reply. Maybe he was right then.

Fast forward to Circa 2007, I never spend any time on Orkut and I can't live a day without spending time on LinkedIn. And the reason is, LinkedIn is actually fun. I love a bunch of features - Questions and Answers (for a bit of knowledge and lots of fun, though I have to admit that the funny threads are hard to come by, but Ajay's posts are a start); "Who has viewed my profile" and "People who you may know";

I also like that I can create a neat little public profile and spread it using badges like the one I have on this blog. There is also some rumors that LinkedIn might open up a platform similar to Facebook. Considering the huge number of Job postings by LinkedIn on LinkedIn, I guess that the API is not too far away :-)

CIO and wicked bosses

I am sure all of us have a little crib about our bosses to share with colleagues and friends. Ajay Ohri, who happens to be the "Chief Imagination Officer" at IWannaCrib has posted two amazing QA threads on LinkedIn - About bad bosses and stupid organization policy.

Though I have worked across a few companies, I am yet to come across one who can get into Ohri's thread. But I did have one tiff with a really really stupid organization policy. In the interest of good relations with the person involved, I will keep it as anonymous as possible, but if you figure it out, thats fine too..

I used to work at a place where we moved into a new location and the boss there decided, in the interest of cost savings, not to buy bottled water for the employees and instead instructed to have the empty mineral water 20L bottles to be filled with normal tap water. Eventually, everybody figured out that the water was bad (it used to stink and be yellow in color) and complained. He decided to prove that the water was clean by bringing in a Path Lab to test the water and mailed everybody the report from them claiming it was clean.

Well, the water obviously was not clean and everybody got sick of it and eventually started to bring in water from their homes. To restore employee confidence, he actually decided that the Path Lab tests should be conducted every week and the report mailed to everybody. I still do not believe that I did not mention "bad water" as the reason for my leaving. :-)

ps: My friend Jyothi pointed me that Seth had written something hilarious about toxic bosses.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Promoting Nikolai Gogol

In "The Namesake", Jhumpa Lahiri created the character Gogol Ganguli. If you have not read the book, let me tell you that Gogol Ganguli is named after the famous Russian author - Nikolai Gogol, amidst a set of dramatic events. I have not yet completed "The Namesake" and hence would not like to comment about it as yet, but I was extremely tempted to read Nikolai Gogol, after seeing the passion with which the characters in the Jhumpa Lahiri novel portray Nikolai Gogol. And so, on my latest trip to Blossom, I picked up "The Overcoat and short stories" by Nikolai Gogol. Way to promote an author and it works too. :-)

Monday, March 05, 2007

Prince completes great comeback

Since I just recently starting blogging again after a gap of 3 months or so, I could not follow up on my post on Ganguly reaching SA. Writing about his performance or a strong comeback is too old now. Its almost granted that Sourav is in and is poised to perform well in WI.

I don't know if it is me or you guys also notice it, almost all photographs in newspapers in the last few days have had Dravid (captain), Sachin (Vice-C) and lo and behold Sourav in the same frame. A simple conclusion is that he is a former captain as is Sachin. But I am guessing it has something to do with the fact that he is participating or at least wishes to participate in leadership roles.

Am I then being too far fetched in thinking that he might comeback as a captain sometime soon?

Courtesy of the picture: www.tribuneindia.com/2003/20031122/sports.htm

Saturday, March 03, 2007

released reviews on Ugenie.com

Been very busy with a bunch of feature releases on Ugenie.com. My personal favorites (and of which I am a part of) are the "People who bought this also bought" option on the product details page. It gives people an option to pick up couple of related products and get a cool saving on them by buying them together.

Second of course is the reviews section. I love to see reviews for products. You can of course vote on the reviews to tell us which is the best review. Eventually, we will incorporate it in selecting the best reviews for you. You can also write your own review.

If you do have feedback for us or for me, write in.

Friday, March 02, 2007

More insurance blues...

Okay, after my post on insurance blues and their resolution, I realized I spoke once too soon. My motorbike's insurance lapses in 10 days time. Now, I am back to the same point. Hopefully and from what I hear, renewing a motor insurance is a far easier task than buying term insurance cover.

Insurance thingy resolved

After all the insurance blues, I finally decided to go the safe way - I signed up for a simple term cover with LIC. A 25 lacs cover over the next 25 years is costing me about 3350 per half year or about Rs. 6700 a year. The only problem is that LIC does not allow me to add a Accident rider or a Critical Illness rider. But all said and done, it seemed a decent deal. Anyway, over the last 50 years, people tend to trust LIC more than anything else.

Insurance blues..

I was recently dealing with a bank on home loans and I found that they have a policy of making it compulsory for home loans customers to get insured as much as the property value. If you have insurance, great, if not, buy new and as always, they have a collaboration with a Insurance company, just in case you need them. I think its neat. Normally, such partnerships end up being forced upon you, but these guys seemed least interested in forcing it upon me.

Anyway, I got down to buying some basic insurance. Why, its a pain to do so. The insurance agents apparently seem least interested in selling basic cover, but more interested in selling ULIPs to you. I checked out some information from my favorite finance site - Rediff.com and bookmarked a bunch of those. Check the insurance links. Feel free to use them is you plan to buy insurance anytime.

At the moment, I am still underinformed to blog about my experience on this front, so will update when I will close out a deal.

BSNl gets me blogging again

I know I have not been blogging for the past 3 months. Been very busy with work all these days. Plus I managed to have a holiday to New Delhi around the New Year time. More in that in a separate blog.

Recently, I got a BSNL broadband connection and thus I am finding some internet time during the mornings and evenings. Thought I will spend some time blogging...

Promise to blog more...

Administrative note

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