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Thursday, December 25, 2008

First Photography Appreciation

Originally uploaded by vshreeniwas
This photo received a comment and it happens to be my first even comment on flickr (I have been around long enough) and am glad that the comment was positive. The comment itself comes from a guy who has a fantastic photostream himself/herself. I am feeling proud now.

I am heading out on a short vacation and this photo has prepped me up to do some good clicking there too...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Dravid and his "comeback" century

It was a treat to watch Rahul Dravid get his first century in 20 innings. It was a very good knock powered by concentration, technique and class. His century may do what many of his previous centuries have done - seal and Indian victory. I am great fan of his and its good to see him spend so much time at the crease - reminds you of the old days.

Having said that, I must admit that I am not happy with the path to the century. There were two paths - one which is followed by our cricket management - let him play till he gets back into form - or the other - which stated that he must be dropped and brought back after a stint in domestic cricket. I would have preferred the latter.

The reason for this preference is simple - its based on pure merit and is fair on all concerned. If Dravid was allowed 20 innings, shouldn't Sehwag and Ganguly also allowed the same leverage before they were dropped? They both were dropped, they both performed, got back into the team and everybody is happy. Why shouldn't that be the case for Dravid?

I do not agree that simply because he has scored 10,000 runs, he should never be dropped. That's ridiculous. If the same cricket followers, mostly young, who make this statement were to be told that simply because Govt officials have 40 years experience, they shouldn't retire at 60, but allowed till they died, would they agree? Having scored 10,000 runs means that a failure is an aberation and granted that he must get a longer runway, but how long?

More than this, I am most appalled by the other sentiment that some people are speaking - media and otherwise - "See, he finally scored the century". True. And so did Kumble after 100 test matches! How about giving Yuvraj or Suresh Raina or Rohit Sharma or Virat Kohli 15 test matches and tell them that if you can get one century in these 15 matches, you are good? I don't agree with that sentiment either.

Eventually, its simple - every cricketer gets a small runway to prove/reprove themselves and its natural that it's subjective depending on too many factors. Even then, there has to be a minimum and maximum to that also. Its not fair that some budding cricketers (M Vijay or S Badrinath) get 1 or no match at all, and give Dravid 20 innings to get that one century to prove that he is great all over again.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

One Devoted news reporter

If you searched the youtube with the same headline as this blog's headline, you will find this amazingly hilarious video. You will need a little knowledge of Hindi/Urdu to enjoy it, but it is the he most hilarious video I watched on YouTube.

ps: This video literally brought down work across the entire 5th floor at Yahoo's EGL office. Damn good...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Flat for Sale

I know this is not a normal blog concept, but I am planning to sell off my new flat and I thought I'd let me readers know - just in case somebody happens to get interested. Its a beautiful 1500 Sqft house with 3 bedrooms. I will put in the details later, but first let me explain why I am selling:
  • I don't need the house currently
  • I don't want to pay 2 EMIs anymore - one for my current house, one for the new one
  • I am comfy enough is my current house to switch
  • I would like to use up the extra cash generated by the sale and the EMI savings into diversifying my life interests - probably travel a bit or take a sabbatical or allow my wife to take a sabbatical.
So, now, if you happen to be interested in coughing up the extra cash that you have stuffed under the carpet at your home for a great house, here are the details:

Brand new 3 BHK flat for sale in Mahaveer Calyx project, off Bannerghatta Rd, Bangalore

Flat Details
  • 1500 sqft
  • 3 Bedrooms, all with attached toilets and 2 with balconies
  • spacious kitchen with service room
  • Pooja room
  • Spacious Living/Dining room
  • Spacious bath tub prefitted
  • no shared walls
  • Car parking
  • ready for possession
  • first floor (just above parking)
  • Ready for Posession
Apartment details
  • The apartments has Swimming Pool, Children's play area, jogging track, car wash area, jacuzzi, games room, gym room and guest rooms.
  • Total 180 flats in the apartments
  • 1.5 Km from HSBC, Banerghatta Road
  • 1.5 Km from Hospitals (Apollo, Wockhardt)
  • close to schools (Magnolia, Padma Seshadri etc)
  • 2.0 Kms from Hosur Road (Bommanahalli)
  • 25 Minutes from Electronic City through multiple routes
  • 12 Kms to M G Road, 16 Kms to Majestic
  • 4.5 Kms from Shoppers Stop, Bannerghatta Road
  • Very Close to DLF's New Town Project http://www.dlf.in/wps/portal/homes?jspName=new_town_bangalore/overview.jsp
Vastu Wise
  • Door Facing East
  • Kitched in NorthEast with cooking platform facing east
  • Master Bedroom in SouthWest
  • Very Vastu wise house
For more details on the pricing, updated listing and photos of the project, refer to the listing at ListIt. That also contains my contact details.

ps: I like to eat my own dogfood - hence giving preference to ListIt.yahoo.com over others, plus it has the facility for me to know the total views of the page - and hence guesstimate how many interested buyers might be out there.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Yesterday's Victory against England

Yesterday's victorious chase against England was amazing. Facts will tell you that it is the fourth highest chase in the history of the game. More than the magnitude of this victory, the fact that we actually won chasing in a fourth innings itself is great. We haven't done that all that many times. Now, if you consider the past 15 years, about the time I have been following cricket, going into the 5th day chasing a target has been the nightmare for India. We have traditionally lost those matches and we did it with amazing regularity.

The following are our 4th innings, 5th day chases that were successful over the past 15 years:
As you can see, we haven't achieved a win like this of significant proportions in a long long time. These statistics does not even go into the many many matches we lost trying to get into a 4th innings chase on the 5th day.

More than all this, I think the greatest achievement was for Sachin to close out the victory. There has been significant criticism, and rightly so, that he hasn't closed out 4th innings chases for us. The Chennai test in 1999 against Pakistan is just one of such many instances. For a cricketer of such stature, such a glaring absence of 4th innings chase is bound to be noticed and talked about for years to come. With this victory, he has essentially closed that chapter. Agreed that its just one victory, but thats good enough for me, for now.

Congratulations to the Indian cricketers. It was a pipe dream of mine to see India win a 4th inning 5th day chase and to do it with such a emphatic chase was amazing. You made 2008 for me.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Also, now on Twitter

I have been shying away from coming on twitter for some time now. I have been hearing good things about it in general, and the occasional blog about it being down. But, the reason for my shying from it is laziness. I did not want to create yet another account and blah blah blah...

Having shaken it off yesterday on an impulse, I found it quite charming. The registration should take 15 seconds and adding a few followings another 30 seconds. Now, I am loving the option of doing mini updates on twitter. I have also set up TwitterFox to do all operations out of a small window on FF.

Follow me on Twitter.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Incentive in failures

Just imagine that your friend was working in Lehman Brothers' India office. You came to know that Lehman brothers just filed for their bankruptcy. You just read this in one of the good explanations about the US financial crisis:

Firms, large and small, some young some as old as a 100 years have crumbled as a result of suing each other over the dwindling asset values. Lehman’s India operations, that employed over a thousand staff, is up for sale and many of the employees have been asked to leave.
The normal expectation is that you would give me a call and inquire about the situation, offer your best wishes and even try to set him up for a better option. Well, don't!

You couldn't have been more wrong. In what seems to be a mind boggling situation, employees of Lehman's Asia sections are not just going to retain the jobs, but also receive hefty hefty bonuses.

Now, I have known that people get bonuses in retention packages in takeovers/mergers all the time. What I do not expect is to do that for a bankrupt company, whose employees are anyway not going anywhere, and would be happy to be bailed out of the situation.

A week ago, I was feeling sympathy for Lehman's employees in Mumbai. Now I am just plain envious.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The PC Ads

I got exposed to the Linux about 10 years back. My college-mate Adi was a Linux-lover, (and wasn't a Windows hater), and he exposed the entire class to Linux, whose latest flavor used to RHL 6. Though I personally liked it for being open source and free, I always had a problem with having to get under the hood to get it working properly.

Well, its been a decade and things have changed a long way. Ever since ubuntu has come along, all installation issues have pretty much gone out of the window. And since it is virus proof for most part, I can give it off to my father and he could keep clicking on whatever he wants and I don't need to worry about a crashing OS. In fact, I handed over a Linux desktop to my almost-computer-illiterate father and he has been using it 5-6 hours daily and hasn't brought it down. He uses the Internet to find any application he wants and hence he needs nothing except the browser (and probably a media player for playing music/videos which are not streamed).

Taking the cue, I have moved to a Windows-less life myself. I switched my laptop to Mac sometime back and am most happy. I also have a desktop at work which is a RHEL machine, which I use only through terminal consoles. I am happy with the arrangement and don't miss Windows.

Having said all this, (and I have not even got to where I wanted to), I have always admired Microsoft for producing an easy-to-use OS and hence allowing a lot of computer-illiterate people to get onto the computer revolution. However, a lot of companies were stereotyping Windows and its users and were getting away with it. The "I am a Mac" ads are a classic example.

And I always hoped Microsoft fought back. And they have. Here are the videos of the latest bunch of "I am a PC" ads. I am loving them. Have a look:

ps: Thanks to TechCrunch for exposing me to these ads. I don't think they are running on Indian TV.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Education Killing Creativity... everywhere.

For long, we have all been suspecting this, but somehow haven't been convinced of - that our education system kills creativity. We have all seen the T-Shirts bearing "I was born genius, education ruined me".

Having said, I somehow always believed that this was localized to India's education system and lead to believe that systems elsewhere were of a different paradigm promoting creativity. Turns out that I was probably wrong.

Sir Ken Robinson talks about how education systems across the world have the same bearings and same trait of killing creativity. The following video, apart from the message is hugely entertaining and is humurous all along, still getting the message across in an extremely strong manner. Its an absolute must-watch:

If you liked this video and would like to read more about him, visit his profile page at TED.

This is a legal Video and you can download this legally, as well subscribe to all TED videos through Podcasts or otherwise. Visit www.ted.com.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

End of an era?

I have been a daily reader of the Times of India for over a decade and a half. When I started off, I was in Delhi and the choice used to be only between TOI and Hindustan Times and somehow TOI won. Since then it has become a part of my life. As I moved to Kanpur, Pune and Bangalore, TOI just stayed with me.

A lot of people would argue that TOI is one of the worst newspapers around. For years I defended TOI. My line of thought was that on weekdays I only need "news" which TOI provided reasonably well, but on weekends when I wanted "news + views", TOI had a great collection of columnists to keep me engaged. I spent much of my college days growing up on columns of Swaminathana Aiyyar (Swaminomics), Jug Suraiya (Jugular Vein), Gurcharan Das, Shobha De, Sunil Gavaskar and more recently Shashi Tharoor. For me, letting them go was unthinkable.

Now, I might be changing my mind after all, and ironically on a day when TOI proclaims to have reached 4 Lakh users in Bangalore. The primary reason is that the quality of English has become outright absurd. Basic spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, omissions and commissions have become inescapable. They have been increasing over time and I have possibly hit my threshold of tolerating poor English. I am no British, but basic language correctness in a newspaper is an essential.

So, what happens to all those columns? Well, I will probably try finding them online and read them. Swaminomics is already available online. And maybe over time, I would move on to reading columnists in other newspapers or other sites. But for now, I have decided to switch loyalties.

ps: My father believes that their quality has gone downhill since they digressed into all sorts of businesses. I don't agree. I just think they are hiring poorer graduates. Either way, if somebody knows the reason, drop a comment.

pps: If anybody from TOI group is reading, please get back some sanity in your newspaper. There are still a lot of followers, who will soon be lost if you keep going downhill.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Blasts aftermath

Recently, I blogged about me and wife's vacation plans and how reaching the airport was giving me headaches. Imagine then our state when we heard that a bunch of blasts rocked our city a few hours before our departure. I feel sorry for those affected by these blasts and no doubt that these are the work of some depraved minds.

On the said day, I decided to WFH, and I had to take the cab to my wife's office, pick her up and go to the Airport. I booked a cab with Meru, really good cab service for airport. But a few hours before, my wife woke me up to the grim news of the blasts. The driver then called me back an hour before our scheduled departure and declined to come. His explanation was that the roads are blocked and we wouldn't anyway be able to go.

I convinced him that I have stayed in enough tough situations and traveling, though difficult, should still be possible. He said he agreed in principle and was willing to come alone but not with the car. I requested him to come and promised to take him to airport without toouching any troubled spots.

The kind gentleman he was, he agreed and actually picked me up. I told him to take the Outer Ring road to Hebbal and then head out on the Hyderabad road. We didn't encounter any problems and headed out.

While driving, me and him engaged in a nice discussion and he was telling me a lot about how the Meru service works and how he actually sold his own car to drive for Meru because it was more lucrative. He, being a Muslim, was telling me that how these blasts, even if they were Islamic fundamentalist acts, were also adversely affecting him through loss of business. He also mentioned that actually stopping our normal activities would be such a victory for the murderers and he says given a choice, he would never stop because of these blasts, but such is the compulsions of the system where even a simple insurance claims means hundreds spent on bribes.

It was an enlightening experience for me and I eventually did reach the airport on time and boarded my flight. It did cost me Rs. 200 more to come through the longer route, but I don't think I would mind this one.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Freaky population control

In some of my recent debates and discussions, I have been opining that desperate measures are required to address some of the desperate problems our country faces today. My consideration is that most of India's resources (energy, water, climate, roads, etc) have reached the brink of being able to support the population and hence desperate Govt supported measures are required to counter it. Being in Bangalore for 3 years probably underscores my desperation with lack of resources. It seems the most resource hit city in recent times.

One of the opinions is that similar to China, India should also enforce a one-child policy and hopefully solve some of the next-generation problems. For most part, I have grown in confidence defending this policy. However, some recent freakonomics suggests otherwise. Seems like the policy might have been key in increasing crime rate in China. Fabulous read.

Airport Blues....

Me and wifey are planning a vacation after a long long time. Its not as if we are too busy to plan a vacation, but basically both are us have been out of step with each other. When she could get off from her company, I couldn't and vice versa. Also, we are generally tight on cash, so many a time, a thought of a vacation is shot down because of tight pockets. Also, our vacation plans get complicated because she wants to meet her family every time she can take an off, I am less interested. Not that I don't enjoy it with her family, I have been much of an explorer and hence going to the same place everytime is not so exciting.

Anyhow, me and wifey are finally planning a vacation, assembled a new and novel destination, got the sign offs from our respective managers and hoping to head out. The vacation has flights, train journeys, buses, metro trains and even a boat (if we manage to pull it off), but the most terrifying part for me seems to be getting to Bangalore International Airport.

I have used it once while returning from a recent trip to the Bay Area and I didn't find it too inconvenient, but then the company sent a car to pick me up, on a Thursday night, and the excitement of meeting family after 8 weeks might have biased my view to commuting from the airport.

This time, we are going to be heading out on a Friday evening, after office and possibly having 5 days of heavy work behind us and my guess is that it could be a different ball game. The connectivity is quite poor with us being thrown at the mercy of some cabs. The unfortunate part is that when I last tried to book a Meru cab service for the next morning for a cousin of mine, they declined saying all their cabs are booked.

So, we are left completely at the mercy of finding anything and everything to reach the God forsaken place.

Interestingly, I have been to a lot of airports including Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Port Blair, Madurai, Pune, Hamburg, SFO, Singapore and so on and my worst three airport commute experiences have been Mumbai, Bangalore, Bangalore. God saves us.

Will be posting next with some photos once my vacation gets underway.

Friday, July 04, 2008

I am a Macman...

For those who have been visiting the 5th floor at Yahoo's EGL Bangalore campus and wondering why so many people seem similing and extra happy, there is an excellent reason. A lot of us in this floor have been issued new MacBook Pro's in exchange of our HP laptops. Not that I am going to mention any grudges against either HP or Microsoft (though I have many) I have to sy that Mac rocks!! And rocks big time.

I have to thank Subru or Deepak (or whoever it was who added me to the list of people who should get Macs) for this. While I was happily coding away on my old HP 6320 while I was in the Bay Area, the list of prospective Mac owners was being constructed back home. It was a pleasant surprise, then, to know that I was added to the list and would be issued one. I happily traded my HP one for this brand new sparkling new Mac.

I am yet to get used to quite a bit on this machine, but I have enough control to publish this first blog from my Mac.

And all this elation is forcing me to hum a parody of the old Scatman song, "I am a Macman"

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Excess of reviews.... The unresolved delimna

Well, I am going to watch the movie "Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic" today with family. Well, I have already purchased the tickets and planned my day, so really, I don't have much of a choice but to enjoy the movie. However, in spite of having no choice, I still wanted to check out the reviews for the movie, just to set my expectation right. If the movie is reviewed bad, then I could put on my commentary hat and start making mischievous comments making it still an enjoyable experience. I have done that in the past and it works out ok.

However, I went through a bunch of reviews on this movie and I can't make out whether the movie is really good or bad. Take a look at this:

  1. Vinita Bharadwaj says its good, (lets quantify it as 4/5)
  2. Raja Sen at Rediff rates it 2/5
  3. Joxily John thinks its 3.5/5
  4. Atta Khan thinks its 2.75/5
Thats a wide range - 2.75-4 governing from not bad to good (with average and above average in between). But I have to admit that its far better than having the range from 1.5 to 4.5 which pretty much would have left me confused as to whether all of those reviewers watched the same movie or not.

Anyhow, as the purist would suggest, reviews are highly subjective and one has to compare each reviewers previous reviews to your review of the movie to assign weight to the reviewers and finally come up with a final review to take a call. Instead of doing all this, me would prefer watching the movie and review it myself.... (I am not sure it would be worth writing a blog though..)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Power games

Well, the title is completely misleading. Its not about the games people play with power, but the games power plays on people. Power, is a highly elusive commodity in India. And sometime back, it used to be far more elusive in places like Delhi, though things seem better. Anyhow, this story goes back to 1995. Power cuts of a few hours each day was very common in Delhi those days and as school guys, we used to get pretty pissed off but we had no option but to stay put.

Anyhow, this was about a pleasant Friday evening. Me and friends were watching Wimbledon Men's SF and Pete Sampras had coasted through Goran Ivanisevic. Now, Becker was playing Agassi, who hadn't been broken, hadn't lost a set in his way to Semi Finals and hadn't been defated by Becker in 8 outings before this match. He was also World #1 and also top seed, though Sampras, winner of two previous editions was a strong favorite.

Agassi coasted through first round and was finishing Becker off in the second set with two breaks and was 4-1 up in the second set. At that point, Becker decided to up his game and notch and with Agassi having couple of unforced erros, he was having 2 break points and the Power decided to play it's game and it went off. Kaboom!! Blackout!!

So, here were me and Amit Ahuja, meeting in the lawn of our apartments in the dark and hoping that something exciting would happen in that match and somebody would challenge Agassi. But we had nothing to do except waiting and praying for the blackout to end. As we spent the next 20 minutes nervously walking around the neighborhood park, I can recall clearly the hot discussions on what Becker should do to pull things back.

When power was restored, Agassi had been broken back twice and the set finally went to Tie Break where Becker overpowered Agassi completely. Becker had finished a bunch of games at love, finding his great serve and almost completely throttling Agassi.

The rest of match went Becker's way and he finished Agassi off in 4 sets to set up a final against Pete Sampras. History was witness to a great match that night and as Power played its game with us, game played out at the Center Court was a classic piece in Tennis.

For those, who missed out the match: here are the Youtube links to that match, N'joy:

  1. Agassi vs Becker, Wimbledon SF'95 Part 1
  2. Agassi vs Becker, Wimbledon SF'95 Part 2
  3. Agassi vs Becker, Wimbledon SF'95 Part 3
  4. Agassi vs Becker, Wimbledon SF'95 Part 4
  5. Agassi vs Becker, Wimbledon SF'95 Part 5 (end of first set)
  6. Agassi vs Becker, Wimbledon SF'95 Part 6 (AA goes to 4-1 and starts serving the key game at 3:37 in this video)
  7. Agassi vs Becker, Wimbledon SF'95 Part 7
  8. Agassi vs Becker, Wimbledon SF'95 Part 8
  9. Agassi vs Becker, Wimbledon SF'95 Part 9
  10. Agassi vs Becker, Wimbledon SF'95 Part 10
  11. Agassi vs Becker, Wimbledon SF'95 Part 11
  12. Agassi vs Becker, Wimbledon SF'95 Part 12
  13. Agassi vs Becker, Wimbledon SF'95 Part 13
  14. Agassi vs Becker, Wimbledon SF'95 Part 14
  15. Agassi vs Becker, Wimbledon SF'95 Part 15
  16. Agassi vs Becker, Wimbledon SF'95 Part 16
  17. Agassi vs Becker, Wimbledon SF'95 Part 17

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Gloomy days ahead

Its been 10 days since I returned to Homeland. My trip to San Jose was quite good, featuring 8 weeks of working with Yahoo teams in Santa Clara and Sunnyvale, while also spending most weekends traveling around the Bay Area. I managed to go to places like Santa Cruz, Big Sur, Monterey, Napa Valley, Livermore, San Francisco and Sausolito. I also visited my friend Vinayak at Toa Payoh, Singapore on my way back to India.

Anyhow, I will post my travel adventures and experiences at a later point of time. I am here to talk about something quite different. While I was there, I spent my mornings checking out news on CNN and got used to seeing at least the first few minutes of Issue #1 by Gerri Willis and Ali Velshi. I was quite disappointed to learn that most news in the American media was negative and was quite gloomy ahead of the apparent economic downturn in progress there. While prices of consumer goods are going up, the drastic increase in Gas prices, high credit costs and no real relief from the Govt is making everybody nervous out there.

While all this was happening, I wasn't feeling all that bad for India, since things didn't look so bad. It seemed that since I was not following mainstream India news, I was quite ignorant of the fact that India is equally gripped by all the vices that are making the lives of Americans so tough. Inflation has hit a crazy 11% and we have nothing going to stop the ascent of the prices. And though the growth story is better in India, official inability to fix things seem equally bad here as well.

While I was there, I was a confident ambassador for our country and wish to bring out the positives of our country and where its heading towards, I am not sure I can be that confident the next time around if things remain as bad. Just to put things in perspective, with GDP growing at 8-9% and with inflation at 3-4%, we were making real growth at about 5%. With growth at around 9% and inflation at 11%, we would actually receding by about 2% in real terms for this year. Now thats a real shocker.

Granted that though the 11% stats is a very real number but is only for a short period, and with enough fiscal steps at our end and possible letting up from outside, we could still manage a positive real growth by end of this fiscal year, but something in me says that gloomy days are here for sure.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Awesome Video and lovely dancing Sardarjee

I don't want to speak about it, just show it to you guys:

Friday, May 09, 2008

MicroHoo Humor

For most part, the whole episode between Yahoo and M$ over the takeover effort has left Yahoo in a very bad light in the blogosphere and it has not spared M$ either. I am also disappointed that most bloggers want to look at very small evidence to write Yahoo off completely as soon as possible. Though I have worked in two offices - Bangalore and MC1 during this time and visited numerous teams and met with a good 200 members of the engineering team, I just don't see the bad morale that Kara keeps writing about. Maybe thats something only the VPs do or maybe something that they express only to Kara but not to the colleagues in the workplace. Quite possible.

Personally, I feel it was a fair business decision for M$ to come after us and it was a fair decision making process from Yang and co and so far as I am doing my good engineering work and getting things out of the door, I don't care about all this. My morale is up and the group I work for (YPOST for the Yahoos) is doing some good work that all I can do is look into the future.

Anyhow, the point of the post was not to rant against Kara, but to blog about the excellent post by Kevin Maney who compares the whole episode to a college dating thingy. Copied below (beware MSFTites: humor against your dear CEO):

Let's parse the Reuters story with this perspective in mind.

Microsoft gauged Facebook's interest in a possible acquisition after the software giant's failed takeover attempt of Yahoo, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. Steve, frustrated and hurt after being spurned by Yahoo, got out the yearbook, found the most popular girl of the moment, and decided to go for her whether he really wanted to or not.

The newspaper reported on its website that Microsoft's bankers put out subtle signals to Facebook, the social networking website, to see if it would be open to a full acquisition. Steve didn't want to be rejected again, so he got his friends to feel out her interest.

The talks were first reported by website All Things Digital, owned by Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones. One of his friends told the school gossip, who of course blabbed to everybody.

Facebook spokeswoman Brandee Barker declined to comment on the report. Microsoft officials were not immediately available for comment. The girl's sidekick girlfriend wouldn't let on whether she knew this happened or not. When asked, Steve's friends also refused to say whether Steve was actually interested.

In October, Microsoft took a $240 million stake in Facebook, which valued the start-up at $15 billion. Citing an unnamed source, the report said there are no active discussions between the two companies. Steve, a senior and a BMOC, flirted with Facebook last fall, immediately raising her profile, but nothing much happened between the two of them after that.

The news came a few days after Microsoft dropped its unsolicited offer to buy Yahoo for $47.5 billion. The aim of that proposal was to build an online advertising powerhouse to rival Google. Steve's interest in Facebook is seen as a rebound thing.

Facebook, founded in 2004 by Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg, has become one of the hottest properties on the internet because of its rapid growth and the loyalty of its users. Facebook has more than 70 million active users. But Facebook has in the past year turned into a hottie, and Steve probably can't get her now.

The museum for geeks

Most geeks I know of don't give a damn about Museums. I have known a lot of geeks, but I am still not confident that I can make a generalization out of it. But I did find one museum which I believe would be interesting for geeks too - Computer History Museum at Mountain View, CA. I visited it last Saturday with Manav and had a great time.

Apart from the machines or reproduction of machines from over 100 years, they also have free guided tours. They also have been working on restoring old machines like the PDP-1 and have also obtained one of the world's two Babbage Machines. We were lucky enough to witness a live working demo of the PDP-1 when we want and the Babbage Engine is going to be inaugurated this Saturday. If you are interested in these things, head out there this weekend.

I will share a bunch of photos along with some descriptions:

The worlds first router, though it was called "Interface Message Processor" back then.

Peter telling us about the PDP1. He also told us the story of how he lost the punch cards for the original music he wrote and how he got it back 40 years later at the musuem and how they reconstructed the program to synthesize the music and how he manage to restore everything together. The demo was a once in a lifetime experience.

Peter Samson and Stephen Rusell are live demoing the PDP-1 to us. Peter wrote the first music software, which synthesized 4 tunes and it was written on a PDP 1 and he actually demoed the original 40 year old music program to us. Stephen wrote the first Video Game, again on a PDP 1 and he also demoed it us. It had 4 controls - one each for Left and Right, one for shooting and one to go into Hyper Space. You probably guessed right that it was a Space Wars game. The amazing constraints of the machines then and the significance of the game on that was quite marvellous to experience.

Me trying to play the world's first ever video game. Peter Samson and Stephen Rusell look on.

A gimmick of a computer, priced at $10,600 and meant to be installed in a kitchen and used for storing recipes. At that time, you could buy a home in that money and apparently not a single piece was ever sold.

Thats an IBM 360. It was a dream to see the legendary system. It was the first series of machine that IBM designed to be compatible across multiple versions and the backward compatibility to that instruction set has been maintained till today.

Computer connected to a radar used for detecting Russian bombers over the North Pole. These were deployed near the Canadian Border, had a 100% success rate (US was never bombed over the NP). It had a light gun to capture input and also had a small ashtray and a lighter. How cool of a workstation was that!!

This machine was used for counting people and their details in a Census. This was a machine built by Hollerith whose organization eventually became IBM. (I don't know why I was posing like that!!)

The Babbage engine - only 1 of 2 ever built. It was conceived by Charles Babbage but never executed, but was completed in 2008. It will be inaugrated on May 10 at the Musuem.

For more photos check out the Flickr photo stream.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Got stood up

I wanted to catch up with old friends living in the Bay Area while I was visiting it. I am quite sure that opportunities to meet them are less as it is, and will diminish over time. So, when my school mate Vikrant suggested a dinner meeting last night, I readily accepted. About half year back, he got married to Sugandha and it would also be an opportunity for me to meet her. We decided on a venue, a time and a promise to be on time. I reached there dot on time.

And then I got stood up!

"Oh no!!" is what you are thinking. Well, it was bad. But then, it took me 5 minutes of roaming around the parking lot to realize that I wasn't stood up by Vikrant, but by myself. Now, how is that possible? Well, the fact was that in each communication, Vikrant had clearly told me to call up before I leave so as to synchronize his arrival. And I forgot. Completely.

In the interest of saving the evening, I went around the whole place looking for a pay phone and I couldn't find one. Damn, these Americans!!

I have known Vikrant for about 15 years now and he has saved me time and again in the past (from all the troubles I got into at school {Okay, I didn't get into trouble that many times!!}). And he saved me last night too. He and his wife landed up there anyway, just a few minutes later and we had a rollicking evening - remembering great days of the school and relating some of our school incidents to Sugandha. It was one great evening....

And the lesson: You could get stood up by yourself - so be careful.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Musings on Ads

I promised in an earlier post that I would blog about my experiences in the Bay Area. Its been very good on me so far. Great infrastructure, so many automated things, the fantastic business atmosphere in the Bay Area, the scenic beauty of the drives all add up to a very pleasant experience.

But on one count, I have been rather disappointed, and that has been the TV commercials. I am used to very energetic, colorful advertisements in India, which put music, dance and peotic sense to good use to entice you to buy a product. Thats true for almost all ads in India. In the US, however, it gets selective. Only a bunch of ads are colorful. A lot of them are very dry. Take a look at this video:

And the phenomenon of anybody suing anybody for any reason has led to a lot of the US advertisers to load up every possible warning about their products into the ads itself. Take a look at this ad for Humira:

It almost frightens you to death about Humira...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

micro-jet test-flying

I know I haven't been blogging for a while now. I just happened to be in San Jose these days on office work. And though there is an awful lot to blog about since it is my first trip to USA and there are a lot of really amazing new experiences, somehow I keep putting them off and the blog never happens to get out the door. Anyhow, while I promise to shortly write a blog about my experience so far, I will leave you with a very good video of Test Flight of micro-jet.

Thanks to Jeremy Zawodny's blog post. Though I have never met him, he is a very respected member of the Yahoo community and his latest book on High Performance MySQL just released. You might want to take a look.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

IPL.. Exciting... nah

Well, IPL is underway and it is good to see a fresh new face on cricket horizon. I am currently traveling and missed the opening ceremony and the live telecast and just following the first game on the internet.

When ICL started off with their first edition, I followed that also for the first bunch of matched before completely losing interest. There were multiple reasons - firstly, I didn't know which team to support (and the reasons for which I will speak of in a later post) and secondly, the cricket itself got boring as a lot of matches were getting one sided. Which ever team you support, a one sided match is boring. If your supported team wins, you might be happy but not entertained.

And exactly because of this, I loved the last edition of ICL, it was turning exciting and a lot of matches went to the last over. The finals were riveting affairs with both finals going to the last over and second one going into a bowl out. Now, that kept me hooked to the TV.

Lets fast forward to the day and the first match of IPL has been a complete bummer. It was so one sided that even though SRK would be happy, he would be feeling real sleepy. Sometime back I read Jug Suraiya talking about how the promoters and franchisees of IPL can make sure that all the investment can be recovered and the best way to do it would be to script matches.

There is one simple solution to all these killjoy questions: 'script' IPL events in the manner of World Wrestling Federation matches. It's an open — and fully accepted — secret that all professional wrestling matches are pre-arranged, or 'scripted', with not just the eventual outcome but all the various moves — the holds, locks and throws — which lead to it following a pre-planned and well-rehearsed choreography.

Far from detracting from spectator interest, such pre-determination of WWF matches actually adds to the drama as it unfolds in the ring. Indeed, thanks to the rehearsed moves and, of course, the superb athleticism of the contenders, a pre-planned match actually provides for a more balletic spectacle than the rough and tumble of a 'straight' fight would.

Watching a scripted fight is like watching a movie in which there is a clearly identifiable 'good guy' and an equally obvious 'bad guy'. More often than not, the 'good guy' wins, but not always.

Moreover, in the moral relativism of WWF (and of movies) a 'good guy' in one match (or film) can be a 'bad guy' in another, and vice versa.


I think it is not a bad solution, at least not as bad as the one sided match where one team loses a T20 match by over 100 runs. Time for Lalit Modi and the franchisees to put on their thinking hats and find a solution to these one sided matches...

Friday, April 11, 2008

Indian Cricket Woes

I have been very busy the last few days preparing from some travel action. In the meanwhile, the world has moved on, including India's horrendous defeat against South Africa in a recent match. I didn't give much though to the matter except hoping that India wins the third test and square the series and do not allow a third defeat in 7 years at home (Remember they did not lose a single series at home between 1989 and 2001).

Anyhow, I came across this brilliant article on Cricinfo about India's recent home defeats, the woes and what we need to fix. Normally statistics in cricket is just used for admiration of a team/cricketer. This article, however, gives a great analytical insight into whats going wrong. A must read.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

My friend and ex-colleague Suvamoy Sarkar is a regaulr at adding videos to his Orkut profile. This week, he added two fabulous videos worth watching. The first one is for Tennis fans and its about Boris Becker smashing 5 consecutive aces after being 0-40 down. Mind you, unless you are down at 0-40, the opportunity of hitting 5 aces doesn't even arise. But here was Becker, smashing them all. Worth a watch.

The second one is a far more serious video of Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor explaining her personal experience of sufferring through a Brain Stroke. She is a brilliant orator, and through she gets emotional in between, please see it till the end to hear what she takes away from that experience. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant.

Monday, March 31, 2008

SEO Rapping

This video of a guy rapping about front end web design is awesome. Check it out. For better results, visit the videos page and listen to it with the lyrics. For those who are lazy, here is the video and the lyrics are copied below.


Copyright http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0qMe7Z3EYg

our site design is the first thing people see
it should be reflective of you and the industry
easy to look at with a nice navigation
when you can't find what you want it causes frustration
a clear Call to action to increase the temptation
use appealing graphics they create motivation
if you have animation
use with moderation
cause search engines can't index the information
display the logos of all your associations
highlight your contact info that's an obligation
create a clean design you can use some decoration
but to try to prevent any client hesitation
every page that they click should provide and explanation
should be easy to understand like having a conversation
when you design the style go ahead and use your imagination
but make sure you use correct color combinations
do some investigation, look at other organizations
but don't duplicate or you might face a litigation
design done, congratulations but it's time to start construction
follow these instructions when you move into production
your photoshop functions then slice that design
do your layout with divs make sure that it's aligned
please don't use tables even though they work fine
when it come to indexing they give searches a hard time
make it easy for the spiders to crawl what you provide
remove font type, font color and font size
no background colors, keep your coding real neat,
tag your look and feel on a separate style sheet
better results with xml and css
now you making progress, a lil closer to success
describe your doctype so the browser can relate
make sure you do it great or it won't validate
check in all browsers, I do it directly
gotta make sure that it renders correctly
some use IE, some others use Flock
some use AOL, I use Firefox
title everything including links and images
don't use italics, use emphasis
don't use bold, please use strong
if you use bold that's old and wrong
when you use CSS, you page will load quicker
client satisfied like they eating on a snicker
they stuck on your page like you made it with a sticker
and then they convert now that's the real kicker
make you a lil richer, your site a lil slicker
design and code right man I hope you get the picture
what I'm telling you is true man it should be a scripture
if it's built right you'll be the pick of the litter
everyone will want to follow you like twitter
competition will get bitter and you'll shine like glitter
if you trying to grow your company will get bigger
design and code right man can you get with it

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I am Married (again)!!

I got married today. Okay, its fair to ask what I was doing on a morning 3 years back when I invited all my friends and family and spent time in a smoky environment chanting shlokas and acting really busy while all around were celebrating. I told you I was getting married and I thought I got married that morning. But then it seems that Gormint doesn't accept that. (Yes Yes, Gormint is the same lame guys who take a fat cash out of your salary every month in exchange for sour dreams of building roads and schools and parks and the like)

Anyhow, back to my marriage story. I was informed a couple hours after that smoky morning that I need to get a marriage certificate for the Gormint to recognize that I am married. So, upon enquiry and more enquiry and a little more enquiry, I found the sub-regsitrars office close to my marriage location and went there to get the certificate. It worked out that our dear friend from the Gormint was absent that day and hence the Gormint can't issue the certificate. What now?

I decided to take the plunge into marital bliss without the gormint's approval and went off for my honeymoon. And after my shifting from Poona to Bengalooru with my wife also moving from Dilli to Bengalooru, we decided to pursue our quest for the certificate. It turned out that I need a proof of residence of at least one of us in Bengalooru to get the Gormint's approval of our marriage. And we poor souls who did not even have a residence, had no chance at generating a proof.

And me and wifey decided to get the certificate the moment we had our proof. In the meanwhile as we heard of horror stories of the RSS and BajrangDal guys smashing restaurants on Valentine's and other love-celebraying days on the basis of moral hazards, we started to worry. What if one of the those guys caught us holding hands in public without the Gormint's approval?

Afraid of the consequences, me and wifey stopped holding hands in public (while doing you know what in the bedrooms) still waiting for our proof of residence and the following Gormint's approval. And slowly we started to worry about what would happen if we had a child. Would the Gormint announce it as B*****d since we were not married according to them?

Then all of sudden got our proof of residence and we decided to pursue the Gormint's approval. And finally, today, after visiting the damn office a bunch of times, giving numerous documents, photographs, invite letters and a big wad of cash as commissions, we finally got the Gormint's approval of our marriage. We are free to hold our hands and we are no more worried about conceivings B*****ds. And if you are planning to stop by my work desk to congratulate, you can enjoy some delicious Ghujiyas in celebration of my getting married (again!)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sharekhan down

Of all the sites that go down, then ones that you can least tolerate are the ones with which you conduct business - banks, stock brokers etc. Sharekhan, one of the better stock brokers in India is down as of now.

I was hardly in mood to see Runtime errors on the homepage when I wanted to get some work done on Sharekhan, but alas I don't think will happen tonight. :-(

Thursday, March 13, 2008

when I wrote last about me having a fantastic week, one should've expected a not so good next week and thats exactly what happened. I got a bit of indigestion followed by a bad throat and cold and I was in this mode for the last couple of days.

ps: I was being haunted by the Barclays bank people about a credit card and I realized that a novel excuse for not talking to them would be "I am sick, do not disturb me". Believe me, they have the courtesy to put the phone down after you make the statement. Hooray!!!

Monday, March 10, 2008

From Budget to Ebony to Healthy me

I always try my best to blog about events in my life that I feel fit sharing. The fact is that so many have happened in the past 7-10 days and I being the lazy boy, haven't just kept the blog up to date with all this. So i am going to do it right away with what might turn out to be a lllooooooooooonnnnnnnggggggg blog. :-)

Firstly, I love the damn budget. Cheers to Chidambaram. I know that a lot of you despise the loan-waiver because its going to be useless for all practical purposes of eliminating rural distress. But I think the IT cuts through increased slabs make a lot of sense. I have always advocated taxing at exit (when you spend) than at entry (when you earn) to try and make the damn black-money-rich to pay taxes. Though this budget itself didn't increases taxes at exit, but previous budgets have done some work in this regard with an effective 12.5% service tax and the VAT. Well, so all in all, I am happy.

Secondly, my wife was paid some bonus in feb salary and she decided to take me out for dinner at Ebony which is at 13th floor of Barton center MG Road. Its a great place to visit. The food was good, the service better and the ambience excellent. The pricing is good for such good ambience. We enjoyed the place. I also enjoyed some Sula Chenin which went in great with the ambience and climate. Was fantastic. The only downside is that there is no exclusive parking for the restaurant, though they are willing to reimburse the parking charges you pay at Barton's parking itself. Of course, if you are coming from south Bangalore using Hosur Road, there is no reasonable way to reach Barton Center except going through Residency cross, which is a huge bottleneck. Me and wifey decided to use the Museum road entrance and walked down to Barton center.

Thirdly, I had the good opportunity to listen to two talks by Dr. Preston McAfee on pricing, one in the Big Thinker series attended by members of the public also, and the second reserved for Yahoo employees. Needless to say Dr. McAfee is a really great expert in that field and his talks were very invigorating, while being laced with a good sense of humour. All in all, another great experience.

The last being a visit to Wockhardt hospital this saturday for the annual medical checkup. Though I was diagnosed for MVP 3 years back and had a positive report on its improvement last year, I had recently stopped medication and was hoping to get all the tests to go good. I am on the borderline of high BP and cholestrol, but am still within limits. So basically I am fit and the MVP doesn't affect me anymore.

Now, if you happen to see me, you can guess why I am happy and healthy these days. :-)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

New look LinkedIn

I love LinkedIn and I have blogged about my unending affair with LinkedIn more than once. There was a brief period today morning, when I almost lost my damn cool with LinkedIn, but its back to normal now and though it best to put my views now.

I realized yesterday afternoon that there is no corporate group for Yahoo on LinkedIn. I decide to start one and announce it on our internal mailing list. Within a few minutes requests for addition started coming in. Now, I didn't want to allow anybody and everybody and wanted only genuine Yahoos in. And checking if they are genuine at the rate at which I was getting requests was not possible.

So, I spent half hour cooking up a script in Java/HtmlUnit that could automatically pick up the pending members and check their validity on our internal corporate directory and approve them and report back if it could not match some guys. It worked for most part and I was happy and went to sleep.

Today morning, the damn thing stopped working and you won't believe how fumed I was. The damn HtmlPage object was throing exceptions about not finding JS objects. It just took a few hours of not looking at it.

Now, the script works. Why is that you may ask? The fact is, LinkedIn has released a new look interface and I am guessing that some of the sections of the page were returned by the old colos which some others were returned from colos. Happens once in a while when you are upgrading versions on the Internet.

The new interface is in fact quite good and extremely pleased. And my script works. I am yet to set it up on cron, but I will do that sometime soon. May God Bless LinkedIn.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Thoughts on IPL

Its great that IPL is going to be soon a reality. And while the debate will rage on whether this is good for Cricket or not and whether it is the right idea to commercialize the game or not, there is one key good thing that I am expecting out of this.

If you take the recent past of Cricket, it has been sprinkled with cases where certain attributes of the game has been monopolized by certain regions. Spin has been mostly dominated by guys from the sub continent, aggresive non-nonsense winning cricket has been produced only by the Aussies, West Indies have shown us how they can consistently lose inspite of having ample of talent, and both Pakistan and India are showing us how you can be inconsistent in every aspect of the game.

With IPL forming teams from across the world sprinkled into these 8 teams, it will allow these attributes also to get spread around. While the Aussies are so arrogant about their behaviour and so natural in their sledging, it should be interesting to see how it pans out when Ponting is fielding with Andrew Symonds batting. Will he continue sledging? or is it reserved for guys outside of his nationality?

I am hoping that the winning ways of the Aussies when spread around produces 8 aggresive teams. On the other hand, I hope that Aussies realize how hopelessly futile is sledging if they get a taste of their own medicine and eventually decide not to sledge in the better interest of having a nice game. That is what I am really expecting from IPL.

Monday, February 25, 2008

A few good creative men

I just love the movie A Few Good Men, what with its fantastic dialogue delivery and superlative performances of Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, Kevins (Pollak and Bacon) and Jack Nicholson. Thats the stuff legends are made of. And every legend is spoofed by creative people to make great entertainment.

This video is a spoof on that famous courtroom scene from A Few Good Men with the same video footage, but with a voice-over talking about creative people (ads, creatives, logos etc) and it was fun to watch. Sharing it with you.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Recommended Videos

While I have more work to get done, I can't help my temptation to put out this amazing video up for you people to watch. Its People Frozen at Grand Central Station. Thanks for Paczkowski for this. And while we are at Videos, this amazing stand up comedy from Raju Shrivastava should keep you laughing for a long time. Its pure genius at work.

And while we still are at Videos, this free Best of Youtube podcast at iTunes is hilarious and after I loaded it on my iPod, enjoyed it on my bus ride back home yesterday. While you are at iTune podcasts, if you find any hilarious podcasts, lemme know.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

A little Assembly from Big-Bazaar

When I moved to Bangalore sometime back, Big Bazaar had one outlet and though it used to have attractive pricing on a lot of items and it was a great place to shop for "everything under the sun", checkout was a complete mess and you had to wait for hours in the checkout queue. A little later, when me and my wife were setting up our new house, we decided to use Big Bazaar, but after that, all of a sudden we stopped visiting the shop. It was too much pain to go for simple regular grocery shopping.

Then out of the blue, my wife suggested that we visit Big Bazaar when we were returning from a friends place after lunch. And we rode into the JP Nagar outlet, which by the way, is one of their many outlets in Bangalore now, and where checkouts are a lot more easier.

While visiting their Furniture section, we found the computer table we were meaning to buy at a much cheaper price than the furniture shops. The catch was that there is no delivery and you have to put together the table out of the kit they gave you. But the savings was almost Rs. 2000 and being the proud IITK engineer and a miserly TamBrahm, the option of screwing a few nuts and bolts for a few minutes in exchange for a couple thousands rupees was too much to pass. Plus the salesman said it is a fifteen minute job. There you go, its wonderful, I thought.

We got home with the plush boxes of ready-to-assemble kits of a computer table and chair. I opened the chair kit and assembled it in 15 minutes flat. Now I was planning to post my heroics in the IITK Alumni magazine!! Then I opened the table kit. It had a lot more parts. My wife bet I can't finish it in a hour. I cross-bet that I could complete it in 45 mins.

45 Minutes lates, I still hadn't put two pieces together. It took me a wholesome 3.5 hours to assemble it with some help (I won't be caught saying a lot of help!!) from my wife and mom, who finally realized the futility of sending me to 6 years of "Engineering Education".

On a sunday evening when I like to retire early, finishing your day 2 hour beyond my bed time because of a silly furniture assembly is nothing good to talk about. But as I finally retired, I realized that this was a great exprience in bonding. Like those team-bonding events organized by the corporate world, there should be a similar family bonding exercises conducted by buying assmebly kits and the whole family putting it together. Did I hear somebody say conducting good ol Indian marriages are like that?

Friday, February 01, 2008

Good News Bad News

There has been a lot of activity within Yahoo after the recent earnings announcement and the subsequent internal meetings relating to the layoffs and the like. There was the Worldwide All-Hands by Jerry and Sue and there was a India All-hands by Sharad and Venkat. It was good to listen to these functionaries. There was some straight talk and some positive talk. I liked the positive talk. I came to Yahoo (chosing over Microsoft) because I felt that the company had the potential and intent to do something interesting. So, thinking positive about Yahoo is a natural reaction for me.

I read a lot of blogs and they all trash Yahoo from time to time. I read them and take them with a pinch of slt. Their tone, often I feel, is a result of sentiment rather than facts. And sentiments take time to change and every small positive step Yahoo takes is one step closer to the goal of that positive results. Along the way, the sentiment will also change and momentum will shift for the good.

Recently (last week or so), I read the following positive notes about Yahoo:

But, today news about Yahoo doing well in Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) is the icing on the cake for me. :-)

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Farts to Diamonds

No, its not what you think. I still produced the farts, but its the farts that Advanced Diamond Technologies wants to convert into Diamond and in fact they are doing it. How did I get to know of that? Of course, I read it at the Scobleizer's blog of the same title. I am shamelessly sensationalizing the news, but couldn't resist the temptation. This is awesome interesting reading. :-) There is more at the original article about the process and uses of the produced diamond.

In other interesting reading is this write up by MR Venkatesh about the impact of recent fed-cuts. Again, worth a read. Well thought out and well written piece.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Down the memory lane

Me and my wife took two days off from our employers and went to Chennai for Republic Day's weekend. The prime purpose was to visit my Grandmom who recently had an eye-surgery done, but along with that we wanted to visit other relatives of mine. We achieved quite a bit of both the objexctives and we got a great break from our daily-routine here at Bangalore.

I requested my Uncle to lend his motorbike during my stay there and he kindly obliged, though it meant he had to use his Car in the bad traffic. He is involved in Sports Umpiring and thankfully he had to officiate all 3 days and the matches were held close by and he too didn't have that bad a time.

Travelling in Autos in Chennai is actually a nightmare. Firstly, the auto wallahs chose where to come. They also chose how much to get paid. And they will also chose their convenience in transporting you. Inspite of having the motorbike, I had to go to Panagal Park on Auto because my Aunt accompanied me and my wife. While on our way, there was a traffic jam, the auto wallah had the audacity to say - "Let me drop you here, its a small walk for you and it will save me a lot of Petrol". Wow, thats literally quite amazing. I couldn't help fume. But in the end, I realized one thing - Autowallahs in Chennai are doing you a favor by transporting you and you have to suffer the consequences of asking others for a favor. If you wanna avoid it, chose not to ask for a favor.

Anyhow, that was the slightly bad part. The good part was we visited a lot of people and a lot of places. I spent my early childhood in Chennai and I have excellent memories of the place. I have sweet memories of almost any place in and around 3 Kms from Alwarpet - RK Mission, Mylapore Tank, Kapalishwarar Temple, BVB, Luz Church Road, TTK Road, Music Academy, Santhome, Mandavali. Though it will take hell of a lot of writing for me to put those memories together in a blog, I managed to share some of them with my wife, who seem to be enjoying it all.

Me, my wife, Cousins and Aunts all got together on saturday night for a good long session of playing cards and it was absolute fun doing it. When I was a kid, me and my cousins indulged in it and it was fun reviving it. In the way of course, we had some hilarious moments.

Well, all the fun is done and its back to business at Yahoo and its layoffs.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Of SEO Handcuffs and Productivity-induced imbalance

While doing my daily blog reading, I came across a few articles that taught me interesting new things.

First was Marksonland Blog piece about Tin Handcuffs of SEO. Having been at Ugenie during its evolving days and seeing the struggle to gain traffic through all the ways, SEM, SEO and offline activities, I know what he is talking about. But this is a thought provoking new insights about how not to get bogged down by the Google Juggernaut and find interesting new ways of gaining traffic. Indeed, at Ugenie, we learnt that gaining traffic through all these methods could prove prohibitively expensive and our attempts to acquire traffic through alternative means such as Social Networking seems pioneering in hindsight. Of all the cases mentioned YouTube, MySpace and Facebook are classic examples of how networking effect was utilized to the full potential. A must read.

The other great article was an interview with Ravi Batra on Paul Kedrosky's blog. His specific mention about increasing productivity and not-so-increasing wages are extremely insightful. I am not a qualified Economist, but I do try out various scenarios of economics as a hobby and one angle that I had never considered was this imbalance being created because of increasing productivity. Excerpts from there:

"When workers become more efficient and their salaries do not rise commensurately, it is not only unfair, it is also unhealthy for the economy. Everybody is happy when productivity soars because of new technology, but if the real average wage trails the productivity jump, a huge problem is created. This is because while productivity is the main source of supply, wages are the main source of demand; so when wages trail productivity, demand trails supply. The natural way to solve this imbalance is to introduce policies that raise wages; but governments around the globe have not done this;"

Again, a must read piece

Monday, January 21, 2008

OpenId and Yahoo cutting down workforce

We are living in interesting times. I know it sounds cliched and it will probably be repeated every year. But the news of both Yahoo and Google opening up as OpenID providers is huge. It literally means that you never have to bother about remembering any other password except your Google/Yahoo passwords. Great to know.

I admit that I knew of Yahoo's plans a little before it was publicly announced as I had been to a tech talk that showed how the whole thing is gonna work. It was quite amazing since Yahoo thought through some of the obvious issues with OpenID - specifically context-specific spam and allowed a different Yahoo ID than your mail id to be your OpenID URL. I love this part.

Secondly, openid.yahoo.com is supposed to be in beta and being an Y! employee, I am on their whitelist. I tried it out and loved it. Firstly for the functionality and ability to easily login to any site supporting openID and secondly, the amount of messaging they are doing to help new users who may not understand openID.

My morning blog reading led me to some unhappy news about Yahoo possibly cutting down 20% of its workforce. There is no official news yet. In fact, there are no rumours yet also. Maybe, me being in Bangalore will hear it later than the guys at Sunnyvale. Anyhow, am I afraid of losing my job? Not much, and indeed the general morale is good and everybody is carrying on with their work. Good for all of us.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Arsenals of Folly

One of the great things about working for a large company like Yahoo or Google as against working for a startup company like Ugenie or AirTight Networks is the ability to have a more rounded up set of interests. This is not just about lifestyle but also about big companies actually having talks and hosting guests that could be of immense interest to many employees. In Yahoo, I have already been to a bunch of them, but I will talk about Google's interest in hosting authors - Authors@Google.

In this video, they have hosted Richard Rhodes who has written a lot of books and a trilogy on Nuclear Weapons. Its amazing to listen Richard Rhodes. Check it out.

BTW, you should pay special attention to the introduction in this video. With due respects to the gentleman, I thought his introduction was too dull and hardly showed the respect due to a eminent author such as Richard Rhodes.

ps: Thanks to Paul Kedrosky's blog for pointing me to this.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Starting Up? Think of a name

For any person or team, putting together a name for a project or a company is an extremely tough task. There are various considerations involved - Will it be a good brand name? Will it stick? What about trademarks? What about URL?

I have found myself in the midst of a bunch of these processes and just found it almost impossible to find reasonably good names. First, my first employer rechristened itself from Wibhu technologies to AirTight Networks after our investors wanted a industry acceptable American sounding name as against an Indian sounding Wibhu. Interestingly Wibhu had a deep philosophical meaning, it being short for "Wi Bhu" with Wi standing for wireless and Bhu being Sanskrit for Earth. They aimed at building a wireless earth. I still love the old name and hate the fact that I am a shareholder of "AirTight Networks" and not "Wibhu".

A few months later, when me and Shanky put together the plan for a customer-oriented mobile bill optimizer, coming up with a name was a challenge, but I am guessing it was Shanky who put together the name of "YourBillBuddy" with which it was launched and is still on.

Moving on, Ugenie also had a significant inner meaning with Genie depicting somebody who would fulfil your (shopping) desires and U being the new focus as against "I" and "My". More recently at Y, we had to find a new name for a different flavor of our product - PacMan and it was yet another exercise all over.

All said and done, finding a reasonable name remains a tough task. Tom White explains how Hadoop got its name from a kid and his preferences over names. John Catherino tells us how he named cojo. Rich Skrenta recently blogged about he came up with the name Blekko for his recent start up. So, if you are starting something up, worth going through these reads to give you some pointers.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Setting up a Home server

Setting up a home server out of your desktop given a static ip is a relatively easy task. Whats normally tougher is to do it without such a facility from your ISP. My ISP, BSNL does not give me a static IP on the plan which I have taken, which is Home UL Plus.

I still wanted to tinker around to get an external face to my new proud acquisition - a desktop. My colleague, Arup, did point me to dyndns.com, which provides a facility to wire together your dynamic ip to a static domain free of cost. Well, if you are lucky enough, it should work.

For me, unfortunately, I also have a Netgear WGR614v7 Wireless router installed at my home which connects to the Modem. Firstly, the modem, UT Starcom UT 300 R2U is hardly the kind of modem which allows for port forwarding. It does have av Virtual Server section, but I couldn't get it to work. More so, I was not sure how modem+router will behave.

Just when I had spent almost the whole evening to get it to work, I hit upon this page, which hit the bulls eye - to use the modem in bridge mode and let your router acquire the IP address. Not just did this work, but my Netgear router also has automatic integration with DynDns. So, updating the IP to the DynDNS server also became a non starter for me.

The final output is http://iyer.homelinux.net which is my new face to the internet. I don't have current plans on how to use this, but I am guessing some interesting things will come up.....

ps: I realize that even with my 600 VA UPS, I can't keep the server up and running in the face of constant threats from the power guys....

Monday, January 07, 2008

Youtube video of a traffic crossing in India. I drive quite a bit in Bangalore and have seen quite a few such crossings. This video seems like slightly accelerated, in terms of speed, but otherwise a true reflection of such a crossing. Its amazing how I feel actually very secure crossing such a point, because I know that every one is trying to make sure of their own safety and probably others' too. Its very different at a automated signal where people blindly want to follow the colors and are very over-ambitious is trying to cross them, specially over yellow light or even on red. thats dangerous alright...

But this is a humorous take

Sunday, January 06, 2008

My Proud Acquisition

I am sorry for not blogging for so long now. I was busy acquiring and setting up my new Desktop. Before reciting a bit about that, let me go down memory lane and tell you about the first computer I owned.

Back in late 1996, when I had entered 11th standard in the Non medical computer science stream, my father bought a second hand computer at throw-away prices to fulfill his ambition of being a computer savvy banker. He worked at Punjab National Bank all his life and its not one of those tech-savvy organizations, but he always admired the potential in computers and wanted to try it out. He wanted to primarily use the desktop to type out the long EO/PO reports he was working on. He had checked out Wordstar earlier and this machine was meant to do that.

Do the first laptop was actually a 20 MHz Intel 80286 with 640 KB RAM with 40 MB HDD. It could run nothing more than DOS 5.0. 1996 was already a time when Pentium processor was out which could work at 133 MHz. It was a rather outdated beginning to my compute power, but was good enough to get a C compiler running and I was off trying to work out my C programs on it.

A few months later, he managed to acquire a second throw-away computer (and I am guessing this time it was free). This time it was a 80386 40 Hz process with, hold-your-breadth, 2 MB of RAM and an awesome 200 MB of disk. It could run DOS 6.22 comfortably and with some creative help, I even managed to get Windows 3.0 running on that machine. It was a great victory for me and my constant desire for compute power.

I finally managed to finish school in 1998 and ended up in SGTB Khalsa College as a BCA student. Since I was studying computers, I wanted a little more than the 80386 I got, which by that time started looking like a Museum piece by then.

Finally in 1999, with a loan supported by my father and the earnings from the tuitions I was giving out, I ended up acquiring my first "new" computer. This time it was a AMD Athlon 350 Hz processor with 64 MB of RAM and 8 GB of disk. It also brought along a 33.6 Kbps modem which was used to connect to the then prevalent VSNL internet service. This was certainly exciting as this machine, was pretty much contemporary by 1999 standards and could almost do anything I desired out of it.

As of the modern day, last week, I acquired a Intel Core 2 Duo 2.2 GHz machine with 2 GB RAM, 160 GB HDD. With a 256 Kbps Broadband connection, DVD writer and a Ubuntu installation, it completes all the requirements I have of it. I am proud to have acquired it.

I am also proud to have been an active part of the Moore's evolution. :-)

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