Saturday, April 30, 2005

Chequered Flag

Schumacher showed the world what being #1 means. One finish in three races and words floated all around that Schumi was a spent force. I can still recall the wicked smile on the faces of the 'McLaren Fans' for whom it didn't matter if 'their' team wasn't winning but what did was that Schumi and Ferrari weren't. And then that spectacle of a race, one of the best drives of the recent past, the terrifying pace of the F2005, that just about left them all stunned!

I picked up this interest in F1 during my schooling days. At the time I was in Bangalore, one of the very few cities in India where F1 was a passion. Of course, access to the Internet was a luxury then and Star Sports' splendid television coverage was the only gateway to the world of F1. In fact all newspaper coverage F1 managed those days was a single column at maximum in the then 8-column The Times of India (Things are quite different now that Karthikeyan is on the circuit.)At the time I was quite surprised how these rivalries also found their place in the corporate world. I had quite a few friends who had just left college and joined the rising software mansions. The tales they told me of Schumi and Villenuve Fan Clubs and later Ferrari and McLaren cults in their offices often amused me. Imagine seeing a whole bunch of your staff in scarlet shirts!

The one memory I have from those days is of the infamous Schumi-Villenuve collission at 1997 at Jerez and I, simply being a Schumi supporter, never understood why so much of noise was made about it! Hakkinen came and upset Schumi on more than one occasion and I had all the reasons in the world to loath him. Not that I disliked his down-to-earth attitude and the accent, but he left me with no options.

Okay, enough of this nostalgia. I may go on and on and on. Then I would have to talk about the numerous heated discussions with my friends here in college, the so called Alonso Fans who till a couple of months ago swore by Coulthard and Montoya. Loyalty, huh!

Friday, April 29, 2005

Fear Thy Neighbour

Just read the recent issue of Time Asia and came across this article that proclaims that India needs to envy and fear China should it continue to harbour those dreams of being a 'superpower'. First few lines of the article and I couldn't make too much of sense out of it, for always had been taught that co-operation, and not competition, tends to bring out the best of results and propels you to achievements. But as I read along, things started sounding meaningful. Go and read it here.

It is true we have achieved a lot in the past 7-8 years. And not just in IT but infrastructure, healthcare, even R&D to an extent. Something we have all to feel proud of. But then a mild comparison with our big neighbour and it all seems so trivial. They outnumber us in everything. What are the buzzwords today? FDI. They are way too ahead. Teledensity. Nothing that we can boast of compare to them. They even got on the F1 circuit. And if we are organizing the Commonwealth Games, then the Olympics are there! Manufacturing, Infrastructure, go on and I bet we wont come across anything but IT that we hold an advantage.

It is not that things aren't done here. The problem I feel lies in implementing. The Golden Quadrilateral managed quite well, but the NS and EW Corridors are in shambles. The Broadband which seems to be the primary concern of the Government for so many years is nowhere near ubiquitous. Two fundamental things that comprise connectivity and we see that we lag far far behind. And as the author points out, we may just get carried away in all this cooperation thingy continuing our reckless approach- the one which we adopted for the first 50 years since 1947. Perhaps the fear of the more powerful neighbour will force us into action. Afterall healthy rivalry can bring out the best sometimes.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

The Prof Confessions

Remember Professor Jasper Rine of UC Berkeley whose laptop was stolen recently by someone after exam data? What the Prof had to say after the incident indicated that the thief was in for some serious consequences. (You may read the transcribed Professor Rine's speech here.)

However the Prof has admitted that all he was trying to do was to scare the thief into returning the laptop. From The Inquirer:
In fact a University spokesman told ABC that Rine had indeed made the whole thing up to scare the student into handing over the laptop.
Seems like the thief knew more about technology than the Prof did!

Sunday, April 24, 2005

It's that time again...

Updates here will be sporadic at best and none at worst over the next few days. The reason: It's the end semester examinations.

And after that I'll try to break this spell of real small postings. Going through my archives I've observed this trend of short and shorter posts, and feel that some things here will have to change. Perhaps my Internship Blog that I'll be stating soon will be the first step.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

What to say?

Why worry about the future when the present around you is ever-changing?

Suddenly I realize that college life is not just about attending classes, writing examinations, and night-outs. Why should life confront you with crisis everytime you think you have things under control?

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Adobe Acrobat Accessibility Techniques

I just came across this wonderful document on making accessibe pdf documents.

With nothing else to do, I am aimlessly strolling the web. Some screwed up registration system says I can't appear for my end-sem examinations on Monday. Those responsible say they have to play by the book. WTF! Its a course in my undergrad curriculum and... :(

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Albert who

One ought to go through this special section on "A centurt of Einstein" in MSNBC Technology and Science. It's a 100 year since 1905, Einstein's Miracle Year and this report is all about "how the revolution in Physics trigerred by his theories is still playing out, and at Einstein- the man and the brand."
...it’s possible that in today’s scientific world, Einstein would have trouble getting his ideas heard.

Science today is an institutionalized pursuit, regimented by a hierarchy of credentials. What are your degrees? What university or research institute are you affiliated with? How much peer-reviewed research have you published? How much grant money can you command?

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Indecision

Remaining undecided about things comes very naturally to me. More so if that thing is of no consequence. Simply because option A will seem better than option B, and yet there will be an urge to choose option B for the mere logic that I ain't going to be affected in any significant way. But when it comes to serious matters, like all same men do, I do weigh all pros and cons, think, wonder, and then I get in the mould of indecision. I seek counsel from those around only to realize that it ain't easy for anyone to talk me into a decision or convince me, because there go too many things floating in my head. I have two internship offers and I haven't yet confirmed any.

India and China- Looking Good


Beijing Review Cover

The cover of latest issue of Beijing Review:
"China and India are writing an unprecedented chapter in world history" and in bold it says, "Looking Good".

Java: Convert StackTrace to String

Okay. This is how you could get a StackTrace and write it to a String:

try
{
//code here
}
catch(Exception e)
{
StringWriter sw = new StringWriter();
e.printStackTrace(new PrintWriter(sw));
String stacktrace = sw.toString();
}

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Survival and Software Development

Any text about Software Engineering will begin by saying that most software projects are destined to fail. Failure invariably translates into blame-game and then you've got to cover your You-know-what.

Three things you ought to do to survive in the world of Software development: Manage your Time Sheets no matter how hard pressed for time you may be, generate Log Files that clearly assigns the blame for errors and Archive emails.

Anybody who told you about engineering a software must have said that these are an absolute necessity when it comes to shipping a quality software, but there's more to it. These three points in particular help you to come out unscathed in the blame game. How? Let's see.

Q: What on Earth did force you to take so long for this?
A: Simple. Because to deliver this, I had to first do this, then that and then what 'A' didn't do. They are all mentioned here in my Time sheets.

Q: Why did you do this?
A: Because your email dated so and so instructed me to.

Q: Your module is generating lots of errors.
A: Yes, it is. But I just checked out the logs and it clearly reflects that there is nothing wrong with this module. It is simply because the modules coded by 'P' and 'Q' haven't adhered to the design specifications, and they better do it fast.

Remember software are meant to fail, not us. And thus, act smart. Never ever forget to update your time-sheet. Manipulations are not necessarily undesirable. The logs should be smart enough to clearly assign the blame with the errors and about storing emails, you have Gmail and so I dont think there'll be any problems on that count.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Afridi's butchery

No one has toyed with the Indian bowling for a while the way Shahid Afridi did today. On a pitch that forced many to think that India's total of 250 odd was defendable, Afridi's power-hitting not just won the match for Pakistan and secured the series but did some irreparable damage to the Indian bowling attack.

At a time when Ramiz Raja was on air, he commented that this was a show of elegance, a display of exquisite and extraordinary batting. Tell you what, to say that there was an element of elegance in Afridi's batting would be the most ridiculous thing one could say for it was nothing but carnage. It wasn't fluke, it wasn't slogging and yet it wasn't anything close to elegance except for the fact that it shook the whole of stadium. The crowd seemed simply stunned. But as realization sunk in, perhaps they all enjoyed the show, a display of batting not many can claim witness to - a show of power and annihilation leading to a 45 ball century.

Indian offshoring dominance to continue

Marc Hebert writes that Indian dominance in off shoring is under no threat from countries such as China Russia, Brazil and Vienam.

...One reason is that India has a multiyear experience advantage over other nations.
Now Indian IT companies are hitting the sweet spot of the enterprise application package market, offloading many of the high-volume, routine tasks that chief information officers struggle to maintain with high-cost U.S. resources. Countries like China and Russia simply don't have the experience to handle these tasks, and it will take years for them to come anywhere close.

Where does Google get all that Gmail space?

In case you were wondering where does Google get all that Gmail space, The Joy of tech came out with some possible explanations:

  • They've found a way to store email in a black hole.
  • They've tapped into that infinite space behind the fridge and under the rug.
  • Duh, it's just two iPod shuffles per account.
  • They googled for it.
  • They've got all the Gmail accounts hooked up to their Infinite Possibility Drive.
  • Mmmmm, imagine a Beowulf cluster of planet drives!


Source: http://www.joyoftech.com/joyoftech/joyarchives/669.html

Thursday, April 14, 2005

How about a code base

Once I had thought that having a code base in the campus would be a tremendous help in the various development work in our undergraduate curriculum. But on the first view itself I was convinced that there was no way that the Professors would agree to this.

But when I read this about coding at Google, it just doesn't seem to be a bad idea. With the availability of well documented, "readable" and reusable code, the projects would take lesser time, there would be some standard conventions that would be followed, and interchange of idea will come into place, not to mention that codes will becomes more efficient.

Monday, April 11, 2005

busyNerd

I've been really really busy for the past week, but things should cool down a bit now! It is surprising how one can feel the end of the semester drawing closer and closer, and the much awaited and deserved(?) break that follows!

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Coding Standards

Why is it so difficult for people to understand that adhering to some coding standards is a must?

Life becomes way too difficult when one has to sit through badly written codes without a neat layout and no comments and variables like lfu, agh, first_third trying to understand the code.

People. Please follow coding standards. A good code is one that not merely works, but is easy to "understand", "debug" and "change".

(You now know why there weren't any posts for the past couple of days)

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Dhoni - Indian Gilchrist

Just as Mahendra Singh Dhoni left the field after mauling the Pakistani attack, many watching would have sensed something. Something that has for a very long time been India's woe- a wicket keeper who could bat. Not only did he bat, but did it in a manner that delighted all, from the purist to the lovers of big hitting.

Dhoni slams his way to 148 against Pakistan

In only a few matches that he has played, his glove work hasn't been bad at all, and with this innings, who knows he may be knocking on the doors of Indian Test Squad. That said, they would say he is only fit for limited overs international, Test cricket is more than just aggression. They said the same for one Virender Sehwag too.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Developers, not Programmers

Eric Sinc advises small companies to hire not programmers, but developers. The term may be used interchangeably but there is a distinction according to him. So, where a programmer may write fantastic code, that's all he will do. But a developer brings in versatility, contributing in multiple ways to a company.

In big companies, there may be a set of specific tasks with specialist to do those tasks and that serves the purpose, but in small companies, you got to be versatile.

Super Cool Gmail

Yesterday I received a mail which was nothing but a lame phishing attempt, and what did Gmail do? It warned me displaying the following text in dark red background, very prominently:
Warning: This message may not be from whom it claims to be. Beware of following any links in it or of providing the sender with any personal information.Learn more
No phishing around here in my Gmail account!

Saturday, April 02, 2005

The summer of '05

The onset of summer is accompanied by the cola-wars with the sort of advertising that is aimed at hitting the competitor below the belt. While watching ODI between between India and Pakistan today, I saw the Mountain Dew's commercial, a spoof of the ThumsUp Mount Everest Challenge, clear mud slinging at its brand ambassador. First blood.

It remains to be seen how long will it take for Coca Cola to launch a new Sprite campaign as a counter measure. It will come, that is for sure! And yes, the Sprite one's are often more interesting than what Pepsi's agency guys come up with.

Friday, April 01, 2005

April Fool's Day

As ususual, come April Fool's Day and prankster's the world over get busy. Here's what all I encountered, in brief:

Google not just announced an infinity+1 Inbox (not a hoax, hopefully!), but also came out with its Google Gulp
Google GulpAt Google our mission is to organize the world's information and make it useful and accessible to our users. But any piece of information's usefulness derives, to a depressing degree, from the cognitive ability of the user who's using it. That's why we're pleased to announce Google Gulp (BETA)™ with Auto-Drink™ (LIMITED RELEASE), a line of "smart drinks" designed to maximize your surfing efficiency by making you more intelligent, and less thirsty.

Yahoo today announced Y! Slacker

Yahoo! Slacker will be the culmination of several efforts to provide a set of integrated services for... well, slackers. Yahoo! Slacker will include the following:

  • Book Slacker is a full-text searchable index composed of the popular Cliffs Notes and Dummies Books
  • IM Slacker is a "parental response" IMVironment that auto-responds to your IMs from your parents with "Sorry, I'm studying..." while you chat with friends.
  • Local Slacker will find the nearest pizza and provide one-click ordering.
  • Music Slacker automatically scans Yahoo! Music and queues up any song that played on the previous night's episode of The O.C.
How could the Linux Guys keep quiet. They thought it might be a good idea to drop our favourite Tux for some silly dog.
Linux Online: News reports- Torvalds: It's Time to Dump the Penguin

Britannica meanwhile announced its immediate semi-hostile takeover of the Wikimedia Foundation (to be known henceforth as Wikim├Ždia) and all of its projects, including Wikipedia (now Wikip├Ždia), Wikisource, Wikiquote, Wikibooks, and Wikinews.
[Wikipedia:April 1, 2005/-2005 Britannica takeover of Wikimedia]

At BoringBoring (not BoingBoing), read about the cool alternative to Firefox
Firefox AlternativeChris James sez, "I got so tired of all the updates, lame plug-ins and the W3C evangelism of the Mozilla crowd that I've been looking around for an alternative to Firefox for quite some time. Finally, I've settled on a great free app called Internet Explorer -- and it looks like I'm not alone. According to my site stats, Explorer is running neck and neck with Firefox for marketshare. It's about time somebody gave those thugs at the Mozilla Foundation some competition.

And if you all forgot about Google's Lunar Hosting and Research Centre, Slashdot had this:
"Google's recent purchase of Keyhole and its jaw-dropping 3D earth-browsing software has apparently netted them ownership of an imaging satellite as well, now named 'gSat.' This Friday, April 1st, gSat will be capturing a new dataset (neighborhood of 1meter/pixel), passing over each time zone between 10 and 11AM. If you stand outside and wave you will supposedly show up as a blurry fleck.