Saturday, December 31, 2011

'Chrome'atic life

I personally own a laptop and a desktop. The desktop is a windows machine and the laptop is a Ubuntu machine. A tried to keep the desktop as closely rooted to Microsoft as possible while the laptop is everything that is free in this world. But thanks to Shveta's increasing inclination and familiarity to Google Chrome (the browser thingy), this browser found it's way to both the machines.
Let me admit it at the onset, that it is one hack of an application. Kickass is the word! It can most efficiently take care of all your entertainment, information and communication needs. YOU DON'T NEED NO OTHER THING. Period.
But as the usage increased over time, I found my desktop getting slower. It took a lot of time to open applications other than Chrome. A coffee time conversation with friends, little Googling (ironic!) and some deep diving revealed that the culprit was Chrome itself. The browser is very much hungry - both for processor and  memory. Hence, the desktop lost it's chrome as it had more ulterior tasks to do - like Photoshop, NFS etc. :-)
The laptop however retains it's chrome, an old version I gather - some 9.x me thinks. While, I type this post from my mother's laptop (a Windows 7 machine that is light years ahead of my laptop in hardware sizing), I realize it has a more recent version of Chrome - some 16.x. And it has something they call Chrome Web store. This store has hordes of things. Little web applications in various categories like education, games, shopping, entertainment etc. I tried my hand at a couple of things and I immediately realised what this is - a computer on a computer. All those things that you earlier installed on your machine are now a part of the browser. So Google has the rendering services, the storage on the cloud and now even the last mile - the applications.
This makes the other desktop applications redundant. They simply eat into your hardware. While chrome, on the other hand, starts bulging like a Hulk with every new app you install on it. Both put together substantially reduce thee performance of your machine and you begin to wonder why.
In my opinion, the best way to circumvent this is by uninstalling all your desktop applications. Have only the bare minimums and use Chrome for the rest of the stuff. I think I will try this out on my desktop soon. Keep watching this space for the results!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Hyderabad to Goa-by Road

Yesterday (23/12/2011) I came from Hyderabad to Goa by our car (Ford Figo Diesel).
I took the following route:
Gacchibowli (Hyderabad)-->; Gulbarga --> Bijapur -->Athani --> Chikodi -->Belgaum -->Anamod --> Ponda (Goa)

View Larger Map

The drive till Bijapur is really smooth. The original route on my mind was Via Jamkhandi--Yargatti after Bijapur to get to Belgaim. However, locals advised me that Athani-Chikodi route is shorter and the road condition is better. Well, they are so wrong!
The worst part about getting from Bijapur to Belgaum via Athani is that there is loads of Sugarcane traffic. So in no time you are coming from 100 Kmph to 20 Kmph, very frequently!
I did the total distance of about 700 Kms in 12 hours 45 minutes. I left Gacchibowli in Hyderabad at 12:00 Noon on 23rd and was at my home in Ponda, Goa at 00:45 hours of 24th. There were 2 major (30 minute) breaks, one each at Bijapur and Belgaum. And there were 2 more 'butt breaks' of about 5 minutes each.
I had done the first 600 Kms in 9.5 hours and it took me 3 hours to get from Belgaum to Ponda. This is one of the most dangerous roads I have driven on in the southern ghats. The road condition (especially on the Karnataka side) is pathetic and add to it a ghat section with a drop in elevation of 2600m in 20 Kms road distance - that is definitely not for the faint hearted!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

What are you - sail or anchor?

In one of my earlier posts, I wrote on how I saw 2 ways of doing something. Today, I write about two kinds of people in the world. You will see these kinds of people everywhere - at work, in a family, in sport teams, art circles...everywhere!
One kind of people are the sail. They propel the entire ship forward. They are the reason things happen. They are the engine that drive the circumstances. They are always energized, raring to go and are mostly the stars of the gang; unless some thing goes wrong.
When things go awry, the anchor people are the ones who are in control. They keep things rooted. The sailor guys has been bragging a bit too much and has taken the ship on the wrong course. The crew is lost now and needs time to get back on course without being lost any further. The anchor people are your saviors in such situations.
So, who are you?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Eat Pray Love

I have an unpublished post in inbox that I wanted to complete and publish today. It was about using death in reality TV. But then I saw this film - Eat Pray Love. And filled me with positivity.
The film starts with a lady's divorce thoughts. She is impatient, always seeking something and somehow not at peace with herself. She decides to take an year off and visit Italy, India and Bali. In each of these places through an array of people she runs into, she learns to Eat, Pray and Love. I cannot exactly write in words what the film is about. And that, I think, is the success of the film because it has conveyed something so unique to me that I cannot transfer the experience to you. You will have to feel it for yourself.
This film has definitely definitely shown me a new way in life. Highly recommended!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Gadar - Ek Khamosh Paani

In a short span, I have seen two partition related movies.
The first one was Khamosh Paani. The movie set in the late 70's deals with the scars of Hindustan - Pakistan partition. The silent suffering of women left on the hostile side of border are aptly depicted by the amazingly talented Kirron Kher. It's a film that is loaded with subtext. Notably, the film stars only 2 Hindu actors, Kirron and Shilpa Shukla. This film has in fact been so well directed that it left me haunted for almost a week. The director, without being too much 'in your face' leaves a lot to the viewer's imagination. There are so many moments that compel you for a thought process that completes the image on the screen. The cinematography has also played a major part in the narrative. The camera has very realistically captured the arid landscape of Pakistani Punjab. There are some locations that are very peculiar, like a barber's shop or the bazaars. Scenes that are shot in such public locations give a different dimension to the film. They make the socio-political carnage more realistic.
The other movie is 'Gadar - Ek Prem Katha'. Many of you may smile or LoL at the mention of this film. The film has been butt of many jokes at many comedy shows. This was a major commercial hit 10 years ago. Even today, it is one of the top grosser Hindi films. The film is set in just around and after the year 1947.The film elaborates (for 3 hours mind it!) what happened during partition and the effect of these events on the life of two people deeply in love. The film is extremely melodramatic and is the exact opposite of Khamosh Paani. But still this film struck a chord with me. In my opinion, these acting in this movie is excellent. Yes. I will stick by that. There is a scene when Sunny Deol says " agar tumne is ladaki ki aur ek kadam bhi badhaya to rab di sau, gardan ukhad ke rakh dunga". When he says that with a roar in his voice, goddamit it feels like he means it. The film takes it's time in setting up the stage and dramatically unfolding the life of Tara Singh & Sakeena. When I saw the movie for the first time a couple of days ago, these were three hours very well spent. What I liked about the movie was that the sequence of events did not seem unnatural. The characters, both major and minor, were very well cast. You can't have a better Jat than Sunny and Amisha looks every bit of her character (for a change). What most people object to in the movie is the melodrama. But I found it quite normal and tastefully done. Then there are a few scenes like this one...
But, but, but, I cannot imagine any other actor doing this so convincingly. They say Cinema is an art of 'make believe'. And this and some more scenes like this may seem unrealistic to many, but to me, I was totally a part of them!
Any comment on Gadar would be incomplete without mention of Uttam Singh's music. The man composed about 8 songs, 4 of which were different renditions of the same lyrics.The melodious music was again a huge hit at the time.
While I started writing about 2 films to begin with, I have written more about Gadar than about Khamosh Paani. This kind of sums up the basic genre of  both the films. Gadar has a of explicit expression through melodrama, music and action sequence. On the other hand, Khamosh Paani is more subtle and leaves a lot to the imagination of the viewer. But in my eyes, both movies are very impressive provided you watch them from the right vantage point.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

The consolidation of channels

Over the last 4 months, I have been completely off television. I have not been missing much, as I catch on my favourite TV sops on the internet and that too break-free. That got me into considering a high-speed internet connection and a IPTv service. Majority of the FM transmission I receive is in Telugu, the local language. So even that is not a persistent entertainment option. So most of the time I am onto internet radio listening to the genres and playlists of my choice, 'social' favourites etc. In short, over the past few days, I have seen two prominent channels of entertainment/information being completely replaced by the internet. Since then the subject of consolidation of channels has been on my mind - it's basically about what the internet has done to the rest of the communication channels.
The internet in a single master stroke has replaced the television, radio, newspaper, telephone and snail mail.We have an option of enjoying all these services through a single communication channel - the Internet. With access to internet, most of us have already stopped writing letters. The day is not far (more so in my case), when we will be enjoying all these service exclusively through internet. Your mess of cables will be replaced by a single wireless router. No more DTH  antennae, no DVD players, no newspaper (and raddi!). We will just have one device in our homes which will entertain us, inform us and also help us stay connected. It's almost there! But then what is stopping us from such a revolution?
Primarily, the two elementary factors required for this revolution are lacking in substance:
  1. Bandwidth pricing: Its is just in the last 1 year that I have started hearing of 10 Mbps broadband lines for domestic use at affordable rates. Delivering large amount of audio-visuals over internet implies the need for higher bandwidth. Government regulation and private companies need to move towards a more liberal approach towards bandwidth allocation to subscriber. Once, the consumers start enjoying a high quality transmission, there are no limits to this channel.
  2. Content: I have written posts earlier on the importance of content. Though Internet has made it possible to bring every darn thing to the consumer, quality content is required on this channel. There are some companies like Rajashri Media in India who are aggressively getting into this space. However, given the capabilities of this channel, very little is done today.
I think in the next 2 to 3 years, we are going to get there.Be ready for a completely new experience.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Is there an Indian meltdown in the making?

I had visitors today. Erstwhile neighbours who have now moved to their own house. As we sat discussing real estate prices , I realized that almost everyone I know had either bought a house or was planning to buy one. A good flat in any 'IT' city in India costs well around 5 million rupees.And everyone seems to have access to that kind of money, thanks to housing fiance companies.
What do these companies take to secure these borrowings? They ensure that that the borrower is employed and has the capability to repay. Most people working in the IT sector seem to fulfill the conditions. But the question is, will IT continue to bring in money from the west on ongoing basis? Especially given the economic conditions in America and Europe. Most of the real estate growth (at least the one around me) seems to be fuelled by IT employees. 
These people have migrated to Hyderabad, Bangalore or Pune to join some IT company. Along with a well paying job, many also spend substantial time on 'onsite' assignments. This results in earning in foreign currency and hence more savings. This surplus cash is utilised to partly fund a house.Some who have bought houses early on, have already repaid their debt and are investing in more houses by borrowing more. Today, almost everyone who has spent more than 5 years in an IT company has a housing loan on him. That should be close to a million people!
We are already seeing a trend of rejection of Visas. Onsite opportunities are becoming scarce. Business is trickling in IT and the sector is not seeing the same growth rate it enjoyed a few years ago. If the western economy does not recover soon, many of us will soon be finding it difficult to pay our mortgages. When we thought India survived the 2008 slow down well, it could hit us hard now through a domino effect.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Solution to traffic woes - Game Theory

An old thought gets its due today -

I have wasted numerous potentially productive hours stuck in the pathetic Hyderabad traffic.Traffic congestion, caused by several players trying to achieve a common (?) goal while they make choices that potentially effect the interests of the other players. This is a classic case of game theory problem. Yes, the same theory that John Nash proposed in a bar!
When in a perfect competition, a player must do what is beneficial not just for him but also for the group. Game theory has been applied to politics, wars, marketing and even biology. I think it should even be applied to traffic situations like roundabouts, traffic lights etc. This will lead to a simplified study of what causes these congestions and how to avoid them. Individual players should be forced to make choices that are beneficial to the group.
Having said that, there are two princiapls that are outside the purview of game theory and are imperative for solving traffic issues -
  1. Enforcement - possibly today's traffic rules are an outcome of game theory analysis. But, the enforcement of these riles leaves a lot to be desired.
  2. self discipline - no or minimum enforcement mechanism will be needed if the players (commuters) show some discipline.
Possibly we need to remind everyone of the story of two wise goats we heard when we were kids.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Creative Person?

So what does a creative person do? Or rather when would you call a person creative? What is the qualifying criteria? The simplest answer would be someone who creates content. But what I observe around myself is that there are more channels than content. In fact, channel as a resource is unlimited now. And what happens when resource tends to infinity? Efficiency approaches zero!
From my own example, I have an email address on every possible free mail hosting service. Twitter, Facebook, Orkut, LikedIn, Flickr, Picassa, Photobucket ...the list is endless but I have an account in all these places (and yes, Blogger!). Where I have failed miserably, is creating worthwhile content. Neither do I write much email (personal 1 to 1) to people, nor do I receive much of them. All my mailboxes are flooded with spam and forwards from people that they have not put any heart into. Channels have become fads and we keep moving from one to the other. But we are not adding any value to these channels before moving on. Most of us are just crowd there.
On another note, most of the content seems to be coming from the west. Games, photographs, Videos, posts...the good ones are mostly from outside India. Have we Indians become mere consumers? Both material and intellectual kinds?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Work Ethics

It has been more than 6 years since I have started working. I have worked in a bank and a couple of IT companies. I have had my share of good times and bad times. But last week or so has forced me into reflecting on the question 'what constitute my work values or work ethics?'
If you have a look at some of the top performers in different fields - Sachin Tendulkar, Big B, Aamir Khan, ARR, APJ, Ratan Tata, they all have a strong set of work ethics that they strictly abide by. This has only made their character stronger leaving no chance for anyone o point fingers. I have learnt over the last 6 years that this is something absolutely necessary. Having a set of rules for yourself helps in making decisions when in doubt.
Over the next few days, I am going to create a set of rules for myself. Some of them may be trivial, but they will help nonetheless. I plan to limit the number of such guiding principals to 10. May I ask each reader to suggest one distinct 'though shall...' type of statement?
Let's start with -
1) Though shall reply to an email within 2 working hours of receipt.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Freedom - Responsibility = Anarchy

While on our way to office, I and Bijou had an interesting conversation about freedom without responsibility. The discussion was sparked by a traffic jam around us. :-)
What we got on 15/08/1947 was independence; to run this country as our's, toil for it's progress, restrain for its dignity and stand for its defense. What we would get in return was freedom. Freedom of expression, speech, religion et al. Freedom to exercise our fundamental rights. But this concept of independence should have been engraved into every Indian by the leaders of this freedom struggle and their ideological successors.
Instead what the leaders chose to do was to only stress on the rights of every Indian. There were social movements of very large magnitude for the rights of an individual or a group of them. But there have been no movements so far in 'independent India' that have made us realize our responsibilities. How many of us have thought about progress, dignity & safety of our country in our day-to-day life and what role each of us can play in this?
Nobody's asking for blood for freedom now. All the country needs is a responsible citizens.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Why the F$%^

There is actually no reason to manipulate the title of the post. The post is actually about why we bought the Ford Figo.
Let me begin by confessing that I am more of a biker than a car guy. So when it came to choosing a car, we started by seriously considering a Hyundai Santro and moved all the way till TATA Indigo over a period of 2 months. The economics turned in favour of a diesel mill and it was decided to shortlist a few. The ones that were thrown off the list were:
1. Swift - Overpriced in my opinion. No air bags & ABS off showroom. Long wait (3 months)
2. Indigo - Tdi Engine is old now. No safety features. Poor quality of interiors.
3. Ritz - Unattractive shape.
It finally boiled down to the Indica Vista Quadrajet Aura+ with ABS. The engine felt peppy and we decided to overlook the quality of plastics for lack of any more choice in this price band. Just then a cousin recommended we consider Figo and strongly insisted we test drive it before booking any car.
A test drive confirmed that better half (mine, not the cars) was more comfortable driving the Figo. But it was a very tough decision to make. Head on feature comparison of both cars made things far more difficult and I literally had sleepless nights.
I decided to test drive both vehicles back to back. The interior quality and driveability of Figo were so good that I made up my mind. Ford has been acting pricey though since the launch of this model and I had to literally to fight for a good service. Yes, but that answers more or less why we bought the Figo!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Donating platelets

Yesterday I donated blood platelets at the NTR Blood bank at Banjara Hills. I had responded to a post on my company's bulletin board asking for help. Then, they had enough donors.But fortunately they had kept my number and called me again when they needed.
The process is pretty simple. First your blood sample is checked for a healthy match. This takes about 45 minutes. After this comes the real process which goes for about 60 to 80 minutes. In this process, a needle is inserted into your vein. The needle has 2 (or 3, I don't exactly remember) pipes to it. In an engineers simple language, one pipe is suction and the other is delivery. Both of these go into a 'washing machine' like equipment. The equipment has a touch screen on which the technician simply sets how much of platelets he wants and what should be the suction and delivery pressure. Once configured (IT consultant jargon - beat that!), the process is initiated and a progress bar appears (like the one appears when you transfer files in a Windows machine). When I saw the progress bar, my next fear was that I would see an 'Abort / Retry / Fail ' screen. :-)
Jokes apart (thankfully), the machines operates in cycles where it draws blood, removes platelets from it and pumps back the 'sada' blood back into your veins. Overall the experience was painless. Only little 'uncomfortable' part was when the blood was pumped back into the veins. Otherwise, without any pain or side-effect, I am 600 billion platelets lighter.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

A Page a day

Not being able to dedicate enough time at home to blogging, I have decided to try out an alternate approach. The time required for blogging is more for thinking and putting the thoughts into words than actually typing the content. So, the first part will henceforth mostly happen in office in a diary. The second part will then be at home - a quick go at the keyboard.
This should hopefully help me in more ways than one:
1. Practice writing - as in real 'pen on paper' writing.
2. Second look guaranteed - I will go through my writing at least one last time while I type it.
3. Load balancing - If I don't find the time to type the post when I get home everyday, I can club multiple posts and type them all on the weekend. Thus the thought won't be lost (hopefully!).
4. Standard portions - I will try to limit the posts to a standard size. For now, I will stick to the size of this notebook page I am writing o. This will help me say stuff effectively.

Poke me when you think I am dozing on this one...