Monday, May 15, 2006

Technology without a human touch!

Now, technology isn’t a bad thing, you see. It has helped man;to fly around the world in an armchair, check if water exists outside the earth despite three fourth of the world is submerged by it,
gather information with few mouse clicks,  also create a mouse that can be clicked!

If information is wealth, the last few hours I had spent with wikipedia has almost made me a millionaire. From wiki I've discovered where Bangalore is situated - on the Precambrian Deccan Plateau!
Wiki was generous enough to allow me to check if I’m really staying
in Bangalore (it said, it doesn’t know; which I don’t feel is a bad answer either!).
It also told me what emails are used for -to send and receive messages over an electronic network!. Again, not bad at all!
Boy! learning stuff during office hours was never so easy!

My learning spree came to a rather abrupt end as I noticed that Mr. "X" had invaded my cube. Alright, my cube isn’t any special. Its just another cube, if anything, its little inferior compared to other's. While most of the other cubes boast of white boards with complex system architectures, awe inspiring database structures,
milestone lists, to-do tasks and few even have think positive posters, all that mine have is
a Pizza Hut phone number and doodles of flowers which will evolve to look like a flower one
day. (I am a firm believer of Darwin’s theory of evolution!)

I realized X wasn’t just standing beside. He had been reading through what was on my monitor as well.
Now to talk about X, well… I would rather let X speak for himself.
X: So you are into new email specifications eh?
Me: hmmm...!
X: Buddy, the specification u reading is three days old! There is a latest version of this.
Me: Oh! Didn’t know that... what's the change in there?
X: Well, the specification version number is italicized in the new one!
Me: Oh! Really? It would have been terrible to miss that!
X flashed i_am_the_up_to_date_dude smile, 
while I was reduced to he pleading expression of please_spare_me_will_you?.
Though, knowing X, I realized the chance of that happening was as big as finding an internet cafĂ© at Bangalore’s Kalasipalaya market.

X was now frantically looking for the next best thing to bluster his knowledge.
To my scare I sensed he was on to the magazine which was lying on my table.

X: See, these days magazines have very few pages!
Me: hmmm...!
X: You know why is it so? In fact, the magazines have lost their relevance.
Me: hmmm...!
X: All the info that man would ever need is available on internet, why would one ever read a magazine
Me: [Fail to hold on to my hmm...hmm… pledge] See… the reading convenience that magazines offers may never be available with a comp.
X: Well, if you are a serious reader, you should be prepared to trade convenience for consistency.
Me: aw?!!!
X: .......................................

[few minutes and a mentally tortured me later...]

X got a call(it has to be from some one who thrive on inflicting wound on self! )

Thanking that selft wound inflicting soul, I turned back to my comp only to see wikipedia still active. No! I can’t take any more for now!
X has assaulted my knowledge reception system into abject submission.
I closed the browser. Over!

That’s when the thought occurred to me,
"what if wiki just come over uninvited and start telling me that Bangalore is on a Deccan Plateau and how the emails are transferred over an electronic network etc... ?"
I realized, thankfully, it can not! And hopefully never will!

Now, X isn’t a bad thing, you see. In fact it is X and his tribe who help one appreciate the fact that technology without a human touch isn’t really a bad thing, after all!

Monday, May 01, 2006

How Saas Got Banned… Got Wild...

Basically, there are two types of people in this world. Those who think there are two types of people and those who don’t!
Err… rather… those who watch the Saas Bahu(s-b) serials and those who don’t!
I know lot of beautiful things have been already written on s-b serials. So why me too?
Well, all I have seen people just whining without proposing a workable solution around!
(There is a wonderful solution here though, which prompted me to think of more!)

Whenever I expressed that s-b serials are a collective psychological disorder, I was often countered by the addicts, predominantly women apart from Eldo, Biju and Suresh(my ex roomies -;))
"If men can watch cricket all day long, can’t we indulge in few hours of harmless tear shedding too?"
Well, as for cricket, though Arun Lal, Sreekanth and those hindi commentators(who pops out from nowhere and pour out nonsense) are hell-bent on bringing it down to the levels of s-b or even below, that cute looking mute button on the remote can restore sanity.

But what about these serials?
The government can do much more than helplessly watching (the bahus).
No! I’m not for an outright ban. Coz if you ban “Saas bhi kabhi…” today, they might come up with a new title tomorrow, like “How Saas Got Banned… Got Wild... And Got A New Name” and will continue polluting the air with gusto. Instead, what I have here is few practical and extremely workable suggestions!

So…Here we go…!

1. Introduce a new tax called GAT (Glycerin Abuse Tax). C’mon guys! glycerin has lot more practical usage like medical and pharmaceutical preparations, personal care, foods and beverage and more, than acting as a tear stimulation agent for baahus and saas and all those who are paid to cry.
GAT should make glycerin prohibitively expensive and the money generated here should be used for, no! not to fund those mythological serials, but to provide highly qualified psychological treatment to the Writers, Directors and the Producers of s-b serials (strictly in that order).

2. Enforce Uniforms for the leading ladies in the serials. This will definitely take the sheen out of the serials. As there is as much talk among the serial junta about what the leads wear as much as the stories.
Talking about uniform, the variety that Veerappan used to wear would be a good starting point.

3. And yes! the flavor of the season! Why not introduce reservation for the leading ladies?(Of all the suggestions I get the hunch, this will hand the death blow… but for the fear of courting controversies, am holding my fingers back-;) )

Now, if any one can give these serials a run for their money for delaying the inevitable, it has to be, am afraid, the governments. We all know there are truck loads of suggestions/recommendations (some are not as qualified as these) which have been pushed around various ministries and departments for want of actions longer than these serials themselves.
So… as the government gets their act together, rather than heaving a collective sigh of desperation here are few things all the serialphobes can try out...

1. Stop using soaps; these soap manufacturers are the major funding machines for serials.
2. Subscribe for voluntary power cut between 5-11 PM.
3. Send that serial addict in your home to Brunei for serial rehabilitation. (I read someone commenting Brunei doesn’t show serials yet!) Be warned though, withdrawal symptom can include turning into blogging and start whining about serials!

4. And if nothing works.. Just join them...and irritate them to the bits so as to force them to swap the channel. If you are not so good at irritating, well, here is the trick(I know I’m giving away far too many things here. But, all for a cause!)… just keep predicting the story line before they unfold (you will be amazed how well u can foresee the coming events after enduring couple of episodes!)
I shall tell you, this has worked for me! There is a danger though, serials are perilously addictive and they can get on top of you when u least expecting them to -;)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Maggi Noodles and Polynomials

It’s a Friday evening, the time one's left brain start crying Beer! Beer! while the right brain scream... Bear! Bear!
Well, basically they both yell the same!

And then, here I am at home having come straight from office, sitting in front of the table, study table that is, for the last few hours!

After moving into this new house and having lost our cook in the process,
I have learned quite a few things about life in general and cooking in particular.

Lesson #1: Having a desire to cook alone won't feed you. It has to be adequately backed up by solid actions like putting rice into pressure cooker and placing it on top of a burning stove etc.
Lesson #2: Polynomials

To be fair, last couple of weeks I have been cooking quite few dishes by the names... Maggi Noodles.
Also, my room mate M, apart from being my colleague, is a self professed cook.
Though I didn’t look like one the last time I checked the mirror, he somehow sees me as a guinea pig. A guinea pig on which, he experiments his entire cooking prowess. And then, left alone to wash the heaps of plates, pots, spoons, glasses etc (not necessarily in that order).

I mustn’t be mean to him. He does do a decent job out of it, in the sense, there used to be lots to wash every time the cooking adventure is over.

M looked a little busy in the kitchen and I remembered he had taken up to himself to make Baigan Bartha for dinner. Which also meant that it was time for me to put my Guinea Pig cap on!
I walked over to the kitchen. Not exactly because I was excited to watch him cook, just to take a break from those Polynomial lessons, which I had to learn if I have any realistic chance of finishing my MBA exams with any success.

Over to the making of Baigan Bartha:
A skinless chicken looking thing was kept on a plate. I was promptly told that was the Baigan. The very Baigan which would soon turn into a culinary delight.

It all started with pouring half liter oil to the burning pot. (If not half a liter something of the same measure!)
Before I could regain my composure and ask him why so much oil, M forced the Baigan into the pot after being sliced and diced into pieces. Baigan was now drowned in the man made oil well. Not satisfied, Baigan was further subjected to more harassment in the form of a special paste he seems to have made, which smelled like a cockroach shake.
What followed was more intense stirring and shaking... raw power my friend has got!
In between he would reach for the oil bottle and would sprinkle, pour and then drip oil into, by I now I realized, the oil curry code named Baigan Bartha.
There was this peculiar smell emerging from the Pot and soon it was officially declared that Baigan Bartha is ready but not before he garnished it with another dash of oil!
Now, M has this pride personified look on his face, while I was horrified at the thought of being subjected to this oil attack.

We lift the Oil... err... Baigan Bartha, rice, pickle (thank god!) and carried them to the dining room as it was supposed to taste better when hot.

Barely I had moved few spoonful of rice to my plate, M poured the Baigan Bartha on it. Truth be told, he does care for me a lot.
Now, I can't really disappoint M. So I mixed the oil which was deep fried in Baigan with the rice.
The task at hand, I reminded myself, wouldn’t be easy. But then Guinea Pigs can't be choosers.
M gently pushed the first rice ball; he knows the art of creating a ball out of the cooked rice, into his mouth. He paused. Was about to ask me something. Before he could start I nodded it tastes just great... without realizing that I haven't tasted it yet.

Then came the cracker, from M!
"nahin... nahin... woh nahin... curry mein thoda oil zyaadaa hai kya?"
Ah... I was mouth wide open!
All I could manage was an alien expression before I busted into to this unstoppable laughter. All the while during the frenzied laughter M joined me with this confused bits and pieces laughter though he kept asking me in between what the fun was all about.

Well, now that the Baigan Bartha is officially certified as little oily, I turned to pickle to finish the meal. Hogged it real fast and back to the study table where polynomials were waiting for me.
At the study table, in some serious thinking which went along... "what really is the contribution of polynomials, to the lasting peace in this troubled world...?"

I saw M coming back to the room. With a bottle this time!
Party On?!!!
Looks like polynomials and world peace will have to wait!
I followed M and spotted he had readily kept the bottle on top of the fridge.
Some new brand? Well, it was indeed! And it read... Safola Sun Flower Oil!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Dummy's Guide to the World of Blogs

Having made my entry into the bloggers world pretty late, I realized, to make it big here I needed to do lot of catch up and fast!
Off I went with my quest and here is what I discovered!
All those wannabe bloggies out there, you have got your hands on to a treasure trove of secrets! Don’t let this slip by... Read on... -;)

I started my journey with a deep dive into the history of blogs. And what I chanced up on were extremely stirring!

Blog on the Rocks!
Not surprisingly though, the most primitive form of blogging was started on Rocks. The bloggers used to hack their feelings on to the big sized stones found in vantage positions.
Though immensely popular, this style of blogging couldnt really thrive because it was not really user friendly.
With a Rock blog, it was impossible to do a preview before publishing it to the larger world outside.
Linking between blogs was equally difficult too. A typical Other Blogs I Read section used to read like this:
The white twisted Rock near Kalyani's house, The Red half broken Rock behind Kancho's tea shop... etc.

Then along came Wall Blogging where people could express their level insanity on the walls.
This kind of blogging led to the expressions like Writing’s on the wall, Rahul Dravid the wall etc...
But once the political parties started using walls for their election campaign, the genuine bloggers couldn’t find themselves any more walls and had to retreat.

There was a lull in the blogging community until the next big invention, the Diary!
Many a wall space denied blogging souls started venting their blogging anger in their diaries.
Most of these blogs would start with "dear diary..."
followed by a prolonged silence... deep thoughts... sighs... and end with the realization that those two words are really all they could scribble.

The birth of blogs as you and I see today:
The white collar jobs created an extreme band of, dont_know_why_am_doing_what_i_am_doing people.
To help their routine and mundane tasks little more engaging and interesting, man invented what is know today as, Personal Computer(PC).
These computers were so useful and powerful that, one could play Solitaire, Pinball and Minesweeper games at office.
As expected the white collars got hooked on to them. But as with anything, the initial excitement started to wane and playing Solitaire become as mundane as any other chore at the office.
That’s when Internet and WWW (World Wide Waiting) made its way promising networked Minesweeper and Solitaire games.
The prospect of playing Solitaire with someone at Bhikaji Cama Place in Delhi, while sitting in Anna Nagar office in Tamilnadu caught the imagination of millions of white collars.
Little did they know, back then, Internet was more than just Minesweeper and Solitaire networked.
It had all they have been aspiring to do in the office, but had to restrict mostly to the tea time and lunch breaks. Chat!
Chat and How!
The Muniappas and Munisamis started chatting by the name Greg and Sam! The lady, with a figure that would lend further credibility Darwin's
Theory of Evolution started feigning as the next miss universe in waiting and promptly had a ball chatting with Gregs and Sams!
It wasn’t long before Gregs and Sams realized if they could impress miss universe in waiting, why restrict themselves to her alone, after all WWW also meant World Wide Web.
Greg and Co. decided to cast their Web, World Wide!
Enter Electronic Blog! The place where Gregs, Sams and all the like minded legends found writing nirvana.

Now that you have a good understanding of the history part of blogs, time to know where it all standing now. The Present.

My research revealed there are primarily three categories of blog today, they are:

I'm back blog!
Surprisingly, the most number of blogs belongs to this category. These blogs invariably starts with "finally... i'm back after....", "I'm back...", "back here i'm...",
"i'm back only..." etc, invoking an instant "who cares!" reaction in the reader's mind. And if one could stand the ordeal of reading through them, more often than not, it
prompted them to leave a comment to the tunes of thanking heavens for keeping this blogger away for whatever little time.

Geeks blog!
Having figured out the real identity of Gregs and Sams, these so called Geeks, didn’t quite wanted to be identified with them. After all, unlike Muniappas and Munisamis, Geeks knew, the tray looking thing which one can keep popping in and out of the computer's CPU is not really a coffee cup holder, but a tray to insert a Compact Disk and DVD.
Reading a Geeks blog can be little more engaging than the I'm Back blogs. Then that’s only a sad reflection of how bad the I'm Back blogs are.

Thinking man's blog:
Well, after reading almost a million blogs, roughly the same number of vehicles found in a 100 meter stretch of Bangalore road, I'm yet to find blogs belonging to this category.
I was told though, they still exist. Please drop a comment if you happen to stumble up on one -;)

And of course, the pragmatist that I am, I was eager to find out, if there exist a flip side to blogs as well.
I wasnt to be disappointed.

The main criticism has been the amount of trash which is dished out in the name of blog is second only to Sunny Deol movies! (I strongly agree with the Sunny Deol part of it).

Another equally major concern was, Blog would reveal the real character and thinking patterns, or its abscence, of our generation to the future ones. This would, in effect deny us a chance to boast and engage in a "In our times..." conversation with the future generation,which our grand parents and parents used on us, with telling effect!
I think critics are not with out a point here too. I shudder the thought of not being able to boast to my grand children, "In our times... we used to... [bluf... bluff... and blufff] "

The next one may sound a little silly, but on the face of it, looks quite true too. That is, if you have a blogger identity which remotely resembles a lady's name, it tend to attract more readers, profile views and more comments. I was baffled to see all those nerds out there competing each other to praise those rotten rambles, just because the name of the blogger had a Susy in it -;)

Heck! Can't you, dear reader, feel the big... bad world of Blogs reeling under your feet now? Armed with all these earthshaking information you should be the next big thing in the blogging ambit. All The Very Best! Go ahead and get cracking now!
One request though, please don’t compete with Sunny Deol movies.

ps: I was told that there are few bloggers like sidin, india uncut who can claim to be in the Thinking Man's category. I just wonder though, isnt this variation
of blog, a cheating on the great vision of Gregs and Sams and everything they thought Electronic Blog should stand and used for?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

My Big Fat South Indian Wedding!

It has happened many a time in the past, a North Indian boy getting married to a south Indian girl.
So whats new? Well, probably nothing new except for, this was the first North meets South wedding I been to!
In fact, the characters are my colleagues and the groom being one of my closest friends too. His name is Bunty (not real name, if I were to mention the real name, I doubt, any one would read this -;)) and lets call the bride well, you guessed it, Bubly!

So, here is my side of Bunty aur Bubly Wedding story!

A little history on how Bunty met Bubly!

The first time they met each other, Bubly prayed her heart out for Bunty! You will soon see why.
Bunty and Bubly had studied in REC Trichy, a college very well known among its students.
Their first encounter was, interestingly, on their last day in the college as students. That too, while boarding the bus to the railway station to catch the train for home!
As typical of any city bus in India, more people were traveling on the footboard, than inside. Bunty was clearly struggling to get into the bus, what with all the knowledge he accumulated over the course of 4 years were metabolized into FAT and placed around his waist and in every direction thereof. Yes, 4 years of engineering wisdom has made Bunty a well rounded figure!
Poor Bubly, she was stuck behind Bunty. Missing this bus would mean missing the train too. Bubly prayed. Pleaded to all those gods she knew, to help Bunty get in and just about every one waiting behind him as well.
Wooohooo! in a fit of miracle, Bunty managed to get both his foot on to the footboard. The prayers are more than answered! Bubly too managed to sneak in, before the bus conductor could yell "Rrrriiittttaa!", signaling its time to take the people on the footboard to their destination.

After this eventful first meeting, they met again. This time in Bangalore! Now, here they are, for reasons best know to them, having decided to enter the wed lock.

OK. Let me confess that this first meeting stuff was a little imaginary(or lacking there of) story of mine. But what can I do, if both of them are not willing to tell me how they become the Salim and Anarkali of our time. C'mmon guys I have to tell a story here!
The wedding was to be held at the Bride's native, a not so picturesque place in Tamilnadu called Trichy. But what unfolded on the way and back, more than made up for the place.
... well, that and the rest will be the fodder for my next blog!
The Train to Trichy! please stay tuned -;)

Ah, Notepad! a rambling on my fav text editor!

The setting must be pretty familiar to most of us, it was one of those meetings, where you are being introduced to the various departments in your firm.
The speaker is some one who specializes in making people sleep when that is the last thing in their mind. And the topic is the value addition they bring in to the organization and the software tools which help them bring in those value addition. I'm sorry for repeating the words value addition in the previous sentence. Perhaps, it has to do with all those "value addition" and "moving up the value chain" meetings I been to!

Acrobat Writer, MS Word, Help Builder, Photoshop... the software tool list was long.

But sadly, our humble Notepad application never found a mention!

"Don’t we use Notepad application here at all? " an inquisitive soul in the audience.

"Yes we do!" nodded the speaker.

"Then, doesn’t it deserves a mention here?", the eager soul again.

The speaker was not sure! And the guffaws which emerged from the audience were, if anything, to suggest this eager soul being silly, yet again!

They must have been using it more times than the tools mentioned above or even more than the total number of times put together.

I'm sure their Run window will vouch for it too... and still the scorn!

To make the insult to the Notepad complete, the Windows operating system has placed it so far in the Programs list that if one bothers to measure the distance one's mouse has traveled over the years, to open the Notepad; the distance Ferdinand Magellan covered to circumnavigate the world in his ship would look meager (luckily Magellan's ship was not built by the same engineers who built Titanic!) .
If you are wondering who this Ferdinand Magellan is, he was the author of the theory "If you run in a circle you will end up where you have started!"

But as fate would have it, to give Magellan his due credit in the human history (which incidentally only studied by humans!), there is an easier way to invoke the Notepad by typing it into the Windows Run window.

To my mind, there is hardly an application which is taken for granted as much as Notepad is. Sadly the reason being the human being's inability to appreciate common sense! If that point brings a grin on to your face, I suggest, you read human history; again. Trust me, It is full of that!

As a matter of fact, Notepad is closer to life than any other application is.
It never thought in order to get one's idea across, one need to make it in BOLD or Italics as there is no human language which lets one speak in Italics (not to confuse Italian with Italics). And I am yet to come across some one who talks in BOLD too!

Notepad never allow you to undo the last 16008 changes or mistakes because if you are making so many, need I say, you are not supposed to be doing it, really!

And coming close to life, this is a luxury life never offers to you. Simply put, there isn't a way to undo any of our acts... then why spoil us!

I'm grateful to Notepad for it never tried to correct Madan Lal as Madam Lolly, nor did it suggest me to change my name (my dad's too!) just because the dictionary it carries doesn’t have our!

I'm often amazed by the braveness displayed by the Notepad. It never shies away from any file you asked it to open. The last time when I opened a .dll file, it did show me the amount of junk gone into the making of that dll!

Notepad hasnt changed much over the years, perhaps it knows "More they change... more they remain the same!" and "all those changes are not really changes too!"

So, my dear reader, next time you open a Notepad, spare a thought for this no-nonsense tool.

Not the least because it will not force you to click on START when actually what you want to do is a SHUTDOWN, as saddled by the Operating System you and I use!

Monday, February 20, 2006

In The Promised Land

Finally, here i am! in the promised land!!!
A land where all craps are accepted!
A land where everyone voice an opinion even when they dont have one!
A land where anonymous far out number ... err... nonymous?!
A land where a morron can masquerade as mr. cool and the fattest of them can feign the fittest!

(i know all these sound real craps, but then, i did make that point early enough, didnt i? -;)