Sunday, March 29, 2009

How Google Changed people's lives

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Larry Page and Sergey Brin

In one of my earlier blogs, I had written about how we developers did not have access to Google to look for any damn thing about programming. All we had was access to our seniors and local MSDN help that came with the product. Coupled with these, was one more tool. And that was experimentation. These things helped us gain momentum in programming and introduced us to software life cycle. Now-a-days though, the momentum is provided by Google. People search on Google for anything and everything. You are still in office at 10 PM when the office canteen is closed, you look for a nearby restaurant and its phone number on Google so you can order online. You are planning for a weekend getaway, you look for all kinds of preparation material and information on Google. In fact, these days, if you are planning your marriage or engagement, chances are that you will look for good wedding invitation cards or honeymoon packages on Google.

Bottom line is Google has become the lifeline of people having access to Internet. People rely so much on information provided by Google that they almost forget to prepare for plan B if something goes wrong (at times it DOES, sadly though!) or some information has not been updated on search indexes of Google (because it takes time to add/delete/update indexes which are not so frequently visited). I had a similar problem this weekend when I relied on a grocery store address provided by Google which turned out to have been closed down a few months back. The links were still being shown as active along with recent reviews.

Anyways, the point is we guys have become so much more dependent on Google. We tend to ask Google all sorts of questions. And Google in turn has changed every one's life in more than one ways. For example, it has changed the mindset of people that easy income was not possible. There are people here now who run such businesses which are totally dependent on Google. When Google started, it did not have a way to earn revenues and then Google AdWords came. So Google started generating income via AdWords business model. Moreover, it started to share it's revenue with people who became AdWords members or in its advertising program like google AdSense. Consider this: If you owned a site and Google showed some advertisements on your website, you would have liked to get rid of those ads. Because let's accept this fact: NO ONE LIKES ADVERTISEMENTS IN THE MIDDLE OF SOMETHING. But what Google did was, Google said, if you let Google show ads they will share their revenue with you and thus making you happy about it. So, now instead of you becoming against showing ads, you now wanted to show some relevant ads which could get you some easy money. Don't get it ??

Well, think about this again. Would you not have remained seated in front of your TV set when ads were being broadcast in the middle of a movie at home if you were paid by your cable provider to see that ad ? I bet you would have.! But since you are not paid any penny to see those Pepsi/cola ads on TV, you just don't like ads in the middle of your favorite program.

Apart from that, Google also changed a mindset of saying an immediate NO to anything. When I say so, it does not apply just to the software industry but it equally fits the rest of all the industries too. The other day I came across a video on Google when I was looking for ways to fix my leaking toilet flush! And I did fix it. There are multiple articles on how to plan your home and get door designs. Google points you to very good hardware and software which can actually make your life easy in many ways. This is especially true for Software engineers. When a client asks for something that a software engineer has never done, chances are that (s)he will say "let me check and give me some time so I can come back to you if it's possible or not". (S)he will try to do it (her)himself first or will try Google to see if there is someone who has already done such a stuff. If (s)he finds it, the client gets an immediate heads up. If not, chances are that an immediate answer may not be available and (s)he will try to do a demo first before giving an affirmative answer. I remember an instance from my NSDL days, when one of colleagues replied to my client saying that he even tried looking for all possible solutions on Google from an Internet cafe bu even Google does not point anywhere for a problem that he had in the system. So it sure is going to take some time. That was hilarious!

Let me tell you some more about why you like Google. You like it also because it's simple. Google's number one formula has remained the same. "Make it simple". Check their applications: Gmail, Picasa, You tube, Blogger, Documents, AdSense, AdWords, Apps, Orkut, Earth etc. Either they created the applications themselves or if they found there is someone else who created a simple application which is good for people, they acquired it. So there are multiple ways in which Google has affected people's lives. Would you like to give it a try yourself ?? If your answer is affirmative and you would like to know how Google can help you get better at what you do and how you can earn more .... lemme know ... :). though, it's not only me who thinks that Google changed lives ...
A lecturer in the U.K. made headlines this month when she banned her students from using Wikipedia and Google for research assignments in her classes. The professor said that students "don't come to university to learn how to Google." I'm sure they don't, but I can imagine the fear that the ban struck in the hearts of her students.
I don't see how she could possibly enforce her restriction, but the thought of writing a term paper or a thesis without at least some help from the Internet makes me shudder. We've become so reliant on electronic information sources that the idea of cracking open an encyclopedia and writing footnotes -- gasp -- manually rather than cutting and pasting from a website is like asking someone to walk across burning coals.
But I think the professor has a point. Because of the work I do as a blogger and software engineer, I spend a ridiculous amount of time on the Internet and lately have become concerned that it's actually changed the way I think -- for the worse. While it's great that I can get instant answers to any question under the sun and read books online for free, I am also feeling unchallenged and reliant on this type of convenience.
What did I do before Google and Wikipedia? Can I even remember? I've tried to hearken back to those dark days, looking at some "before" and "after" scenes from my life -- in the areas of knowledge acquisition and daily tasks, what I mostly use the Internet for -- and the contrast is striking. Google and Wikipedia have made me impatient and spoiled for instant information gratification, and the enjoyment of leisurely seeking has given way to an appetite for fast finding.
Knowledge, Then and Now
Research Then
I remember as a child sitting in a damp back room in my parents' house poring over encyclopedias, dreaming about faraway places like Spain and becoming fascinated with grade school astronomy. I'd pick a volume off the shelf at random and just read whatever I happened upon, letting serendipity guide me. It was an unstructured and fun way of learning.
In high school, Encyclopedia Britannica was the go-to source for research, but I often found myself in front of ancient microfiche readers which were not user-friendly. The biggest thorn in my side was the Dewey Decimal System, which to my adolescent mind seemed to have no rhyme or reason. Getting lost in the library when I had homework to turn in was no fun, but it was a great way to find things I wasn't looking for. Researching meant going through book after book, making copies, highlighting copies and then starting to write. The pre-writing process was so involved that it made me think twice before abandoning the library, lest I leave behind some valuable information. And of course I might run into some friends while at the library, which made the process a bit more fun.
Research Now
I haven't been to the library for a research in about 6 years. I use the Internet for absolutely everything related to research, and in fact, I'd feel totally crippled without it. The speed at which I collect information is so lightning fast that it's difficult to digest it all. RSS feeds nearly run my life. Daily, I jump at a speed of sound from Google to Wikipedia to Google again for my stories. And since everyone else is working at this speed, it's hard to slow down and take it all in. One fact leads to another to another and to another. (or one link leads to another and to another...)
There is no organization other than the one Google provides, which makes me nostalgic for the Dewey Decimal System (almost). I don't touch a single physical tome. If I need to talk to someone, it's mostly done over email or through a social network like Facebook or Twitter or Orkut. Every now and then I'll get to hear someone's voice, but since everyone is so busy, they prefer electronic communication. It's a lonely place.
Learning Then
Back in college, when I first began studying engineering, the early years were dedicated to learning less about mechanics and engineering and more about the origins of ideas, classic mythology and philosophy of engineering. I remember being in a mechanics class and first learning about innovative ways developed for warfare which became helpful in development of physics. I became fascinated with those ideas and the topic of physics and mechanics in general; so much so that in every class I was rapt, hanging on the every word of the professor.
I passively relied on the classroom experience for information, and found myself inspired by every lesson (though I was more than likely influenced by my professor's one-sided adoration for the topic). It was a didactic experience based on patient listening and mentoring. After class, I'd head down to the local library to peruse the Physics section, and leave with a physical copy of Galeleo's "Being and Time." While I was there, I might stumble upon a couple other interesting books, discovering other philosophers and theories too, expanding my view.
Learning Now
If I was a student in class today, my intolerance for waiting -- a result of my Internet attention span -- might not allow for hearing out the lecture. I might rudely get out my smartphone or iPod Touch and Google the topic's name and just to cut to the chase.
But assuming I'm smarter than that, I'd listen to the lecture, then go home, Google his name, find a Wikipedia entry on him and start skimming. The way the entry is laid out allows for a lot of jumping to the good parts -- for instance a section on controversy. If I were lazy, I might only rely on this one source for forming an opinion about the man. Next thing you know I'd be digging up dirt on a dead German physicist.
Engineering Works on Google
Next stop is Google, where I can find a copy of Newton's gravitational theory online for free. But since it's online, it's not very comfortable for me to read all 596 pages. Printing it out would be a pain (not to mention not very earth-friendly), so I would end up just skimming through to "the good parts." Luckily, my professor has likely put his entire lecture up on iTunes U I can check out anything I missed in class.
Everyday Life, Then and Now
Daily Tasks Then
I still can -- though barely -- remember a time when I used the Yellow Pages for finding businesses to patronize for everyday activities. A good example is finding a pizza place that delivers to my home. In the old days, I'd open up the big yellow book, look under pizza, and simply find the location closest to me. Then I'd pick up the phone, manually dial the number and place my order.
Daily Tasks Now
Now, the more "convenient" way is actually a lot more involved, with a 5-step process that includes hints of paranoia. Of course, the new way usually leads to a higher quality experience.
Here's the way it normally plays out:
1. Pick up my smartphone.
2. Use Google Local Search to find the closest pizzeria that delivers. Look at the star rating (if applicable) and narrow the selection down to pizzerias that have received at least 4 stars from users. Check to make sure the ratings are relevant, because if only a couple of users have rated, the score is probably not reliable.
3. Go to Yelp.com to quickly check the ratings. If I see a low star rating, the pizzeria is immediately eliminated from the running. If it's borderline, read a few reviews to see if they sound believable and if I can give the pizzeria the benefit of the doubt.
4. From the Yelp.com mobile page, click on the phone number and automatically call to place my order.
5. If I'm feeling especially paranoid, I might check CleanScores to see if the place I'm ordering from has scored well on health inspections.
This scenario is repeated time and time again in a variety of everyday situations. Before, if I needed a dentist, I'd ask my friends for recommendations. Now I rely on the collective intelligence in Google search results, directory sites (where even dentists become stars) and blog posts. Ditto for movie theaters and Indian restaurants .. :) on weekends ..
Burning Questions Then
Another scene from the past involves those unanswerable (albeit trivial) questions. Back then, I'd hear a song on the radio and when it ended, wait patiently to hear the title and artist. Almost always I'd hear a commercial, not the name of the song. This scenario would repeat itself time and time again, until the song was no longer popular enough to get much play on the radio. So the answer to the burning question remains a mystery.
Before the Internet, I might ask my friends if they knew what the song was called. From a conversation, we'd talk about the artist, my friend's opinion of his or her music, any other albums they'd put out. A conversation is built around a shared question or interest. But other times I'd just be stuck with that burning question.
Burning Questions Now
Thanks to Google and Wikipedia, nothing's a mystery anymore. I remember there was a song from my childhood with a very distinct instrumental bridge that for the life of me I could never name. The musician also evaded me. This was one of those questions that while unimportant, seemed to come up time and time again. What was that song?
Then, flipping through radio stations in a car, I heard a snippet. I contemplated calling the radio station to end the wondering. But I was able to pick up a couple of lyrics, and when I got home I put the question out to Google ("you're crying, you're crying now"). In a second I had the answer I'd been searching for:. With 463 Google results and a thorough Wikipedia entry, I had all the information I could possibly want to know about the mystery song.
Dr. P K Choudhry, the professor, would likely flunk the Internet-age me. I humbly admit that while I love reading books -- my last real physical media addiction -- after so many years of Internet reliance and a very demanding schedule, I am impaired without Google, Wikipedia and the countless other tools and sites I use to make my life easier.
And that's the trade-off: What you gain in speed of delivery you often lose in quality of information, not to mention the most intangible benefit of the way we used to get information: seeking it out slowly, wondering, theorizing, discovering and feeling fulfilled in learning. I miss that.
Someone recently gave a talk called Google Is White Bread For The Mind, and I'm wondering if her summation of the Internet's effects on our brain might be true. We all know what white bread is: a broken down, artificially enriched version of something that was previously good for you. But there are two reasons why we love it: It's been spoon-fed to us via marketing and it's just so good. Kind of like Google, and they are both hard habits to break.
What do you think? Does the Internet and tools like Google and Wikipedia make life simpler or are they just making us lazier? What online tools could you not live without? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

PS: Google also advises you if visiting some sites may harm your computer .... though thats a different, controversial and complex story..:)

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Watch Hindi Movie Straight Online Free

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Watch movie Straight (2009) Online ... It's a comedy movie ..so make sure you laugh :)
(for better viewing experience download firefox.)








Courtesy : dailymotion.com.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Why Some Indians Are Abused For Their Skills Outside India

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I feel desperate to make my voice loud so others can hear it. I feel angered when I read through many articles that keep popping-up on Business-week and other such magazines. I just feel like banging the abuser with an 11,000 volts reply. But then, I feel helpless. Somewhere deep down in my heart I know that the abuser is not entirely incorrect. There are always good students and bad students. Some who learn a lot in schools and some lag behind. But the basic question is "does the Indian education imparted in any school/college/university really prepare the outgoing class to face the difficulties and challenges that the world will have to offer to the new school pass-outs and university graduates ?" The answer that invariably comes to my mind is "NO". Our universities and schools at any level do not prepare us to face the challenges. That is primarily the reason we face a huge deficiency of skilled professionals everywhere in Indian industry. Answer yourself to this question:

  • Do you exactly know how does every part of computer work if you are a computer hardware engineer?
  • Do you know how should you design a software to interact efficiently with the OS and platforms without consuming much of memory/CPU? Do you know what implications every single line of the code that you write has?
  • If you are a graduate in mechanical engineering, do you know how to build a boiler? or how to effectively draw design diagrams?
  • If you are a physics graduate, do you know what impact the Einstein's theory of relativity has on space programs?
  • Similarly, if you are an arts graduate say sociology, do you perfectly understand how a society works? and what it changes and affects lives?
On practical terms, if you are an engineer. you are probably not yet ready to actually apply your engineering knowledge until the next 5-10 years (or more?) in the industry.If you came out of a medical college, you just remember the medicine names, and still won't be able to correctly diagnose a patient suffering from cold and cough. If you are a major in history, you won't be able to highlight the most important and significant changes that changed the world map and cultures.

So where is the flaw? The more I think, I tend to believe that the system as well as the students and social thinking is flawed. The family is biased towards preparing their kids for an old fashioned clerk's job. There are not many innovative minds coming out from universities anymore. Emphasis is more on fetching more marks/grades rather than on proper and effective/practical understanding of a concept and their implementation. This applies to all grades/schools/universities. Try and remember how many days did you really spend some time researching a subject when you were graduating or how many good books did you really refer to when you were preparing for your 10th/12th grade and understood everything perfectly. For example, could you do a demonstration of Newton's all of the three laws in a practical way which the industry might already be using?

Someone out there may say "Oh C'mon, these have got nothing to do with industrial/workplace challenges!". But I'm sure everything that we studied, has got something to do with the challenges that we face in our daily life at the workplace. The most apparent one is this : "ATTITUDE" Why is there so much abuse about third grade work by Indian BPO/IT companies and workers abroad? Why are they not able to write efficient bug-free programs?

It has got something to do with our education system too. The present education system in India is in flux and full of contradictions. While there are world-class institutions of higher education like JNU, DU, IITs, IIITs,BIT(S), some regional universities and IIMs, most others are nothing but degree awarding institutions. They neither prepare the youth for advanced research in social science, physical and biological sciences, engineering, technology and management nor for employment in various productive sectors of the economy.
One can ascribe two reasons for it. Universities in India have not changed their colonial mode of functioning. First, they still aim at producing administrators and clerks. They tend to feed the students information more than knowledge and skill. And second, the weak secondary education base forces the universities to lower their standards. Added to the problem are mushrooming private universities/institutions, most of which are no better than teaching shops and coaching centers. A newly created state, I am told, permitted the opening of scores of one-room universities just by one stroke of pen.

Secondary and primary education systems are in real bad shape. In northern states like UP copying in examinations is not only tolerated but also encouraged by the state government. Despite several high sounding projects like ‘operation black board’, most of the primary schools are understaffed, and ill-equipped to educate children and prepare them for secondary and higher education. The primary education sets the mood of the kids going forward in higher grades. that's where we bite our future wrong.

We also fail to develop the personality of our youth to take responsibility as a good citizen, apart from being a good scholar, scientist, engineer, manager etc. We have now reached a stage where violence, cheating, forgery, dereliction of duty, and unconcern about fellow human beings and the natural environment in general and flora and fauna in particular has crossed the threshold limits.

We are living in a Knowledge Society. We should do all that is possible to prepare as many young men and women as possible for the new world in making. But if we are not able to upgrade the existing universities what would be the use of having more third rate universities? Our strategy has to be double faced: up-gradation of the existing universities and launching of several new universities/institutions of learning and professional development.
Anyways ...the point is our education system does not allow us to think independently and question or contradict the western scientific or mathematical concepts.We are not encouraged to explore nature and present our concept or theory rather we are expected to understand the way it was understood by Newton or Einstein. This is not to propose chaos in class room but there should be an option for creative thinkers and the education system should encourage and recognize them. This is the fundamental flaw in our system and several brilliant mathematicians,scientists and designers are forced to follow the blind,inflexible model which is designed to create followers and not leaders.

On top of that, for all those who are in an Internet based work-environment, Google is a big time abuse. We tend to search for quick fixes on Google and then forget about them by the evening. There is nothing wrong in searching for information on Google but then why not get to the depth of the information that we found on Google search results. That doesn't happen.

All this leads to a very bad situation (at least in IT workplace), where an Indian is considered producing sub-standard product. Though, one must keep in mind that most Indians produce very good quality output barring a few exceptions. It's those exceptions that cause the problem and invite abuse to all Indians. I know I have mixed quite a few things (some of which might appear irrelevant to you). But think about them and you will see the cause and the effects are all intertwined. Work towards a better you after you've read this so no other non-Indian can raise a question on your abilities.

I have been reading various articles about sub-standard work produced by Indians on business week. The latest one was this. Follow the comments and you will realize.
I also remember a statement by one of my seniors who once said that we are "SAD" engineers. SAD stood, as per him, for "Setting and dealing". And that's truly is the case. We believe in Kaam - chalaau things. And that's the problem.


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Monday, March 23, 2009

SBI funds transfer and internet banking

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I tend to think again and again about the internet banking services provided by the Government banks in India specially SBI. SBI is the largest Government bank in India and it still lacks a good internet banking service. Compared to other private banking services like ICICI, HDFC etc SBI does not stand anywhere (I am talking only in terms of internet banking).

I do like their personal banking branches at different locations. They really treat you well with cofee/chai/samosa etc if you have any problem or request. You have access to the branch manager directly for any issue that you might have. But when it comes down to internet banking which is the preferred way of banking for the new young generation, SBI lacks the basic service level. For example, if you are trying to transfer funds from your own account to your own SBI bank account, it fails multiple times blaming network errors. Under the same scenarios, my funds transfer from ICICI bank to my own ICICI bank or any other banks has not failed me once. It's quick and easy in private bank internet sites. The SBI funds transfer is also kinda confusing and just too much detail on the same page. Someone who has been using only the SBI website may not notice these things unless you go and experience other private banking online services.

Other stuffs like changing your account details like mobile number etc is like preparing yourself for a good online war with the online customer care which itself is pathetic. I had to write n number of e-mails, sent two faxes, called thrice and raised four tickets to get my mobile number changed. The funniest thing about changing your mobile number on SBI is that they expect you to have your old number working to allow changing to the new number :). Why would someone change the number if you have the current number working and good. One tends to request such changes only when (in most cases unless you are a real junk having n different mobiles and want to change your details unnecessarily) one

  • either lost the mobile,
  • lost the sim card,
  • moved to a different location/geography where the old sim does not work
  • any other genuine case :)
But what SBI does is this: you request for a change in mobile number. It sends a passcode to your old number. you obviously do not have a way to access your old sim so you go ahead and raise a ticket online. To which, some customer representative responds saying, you have to visit your branch personally. So if you moved from Mumbai to Delhi , they ask you to come down to Mumbai again just so you can get your mobile number changed :(. What an Idea sir! It can really change my life :).

Anyways, I could convince the manager that I am a genuine person with a genuine problem (in three week's time) so I could sign on a form and fax it to them and then take a pdf copy of the same and send it to customer representative to have it effectd. :( ahhhhhhhhhhh ....I'm exausted at this point. Wow!!! the online banking makes it easy ....

There are other such crappy ideas that SBI has. I really don't know who comes up with such ideas when developing the internet banking solution. Most likely the software developers would not like such ideas, I'm sure, but they give up against the pressure :)

And by the way, if you tried adding a beneficiary ..that is also a long story :). You know what, probably, SBI wants you to keep in touch, so you don't forget their existence :).

Anyways ...enough said now ..let's see if they act on it too ..


Endnote: This is what my friend Deepak Nema has to say about happiness (he is a real likable, happy, ever smiling guy and a good philosopher Nizaam living in Hyderabad):
Finding Happiness
People go through ups and downs of life and constantly keep on searching happiness.While the way to happiness is:
Keep your heart free from hate, Your mind from worry.
Expect little, give much. Fill your life with love.
Scatter sunshine. Forget self, think of others.
Do as you would be done by.
Live a simple life.
Try this for a week and you will be surprised.
"Enjoy everything that happens in your life,
but never make your happiness or success dependent on an attachment to any person(read girlfriend), place(read hyderabad or your office), or thing(read s/w programming)."


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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Watch Movie 13B Online Free

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Watch movie 13 B (2009) Online ... It's a horror movie ..so make sure you don't laugh :)
(for better viewing experience download firefox.)








Courtesy : dailymotion.com.

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Watch hindi movie Gulaal free online

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I heard this movie is good. So, here you go... Watch hindi movie Gulaal online for free :)
(for better viewing experience download firefox.)







The movie has been taken from dailymotion.com. Please refer to the website to view and search for more movies :)


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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Deadliest PJ for this month

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The PJ load for this month ....
Q: What do you call the most religious unit in electric science?
A: Ohm

Q: Why do people who have so much pressure drink so much?
A: Well, people drink at a bar... And bar is the unit of pressure

Q. A man went to the church and told the priest,"Father, I have sinned ninety times". Father said, "Son don't worry you will get caught 45 times." How did Father work this out. Was he a clairvoyant?
A :) Because sin 90=cot 45
(Deadliest PJ according to me & Deepak:) )


Q) what is the volume of a person who has lost all his memory in a typical (bollywood filmy) accident !!!
A) 1/3 pi*r*r*r because he says
"main KAUN (cone) hoon !!??? "

Q) Wat do you call a cylinder of radius "z" units and height "a" units?
A) Pizza!
Coz volume of cylinder= Pi * r * r * h
=>pi*z*z* a
=Pizza

Q) Once all chemistry professors went to see the movie "Iron Man" expecting the iron man to be a lady. Why?
A)Because in chemical terms

Iron = Fe
Man = Male
So Iron Man becomes Fe-Male

Q. What is the Population Control Program of the Chinese Government called?
A. Chini Kam (another one of my favorites :) )

Thanks to :
Deepak Nema :)

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Short Note on Mother

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Got this e-mail from Priyanka today. I don't know where does she get such
good e-mails from. But anyways .. why care as long as I like them so much ..

:)

A Short Note on Mother

When I came drenched in the rain,

My brother told "why don't you take an umbrella with you".
My sister said "why did you not you wait until it stopped".
My Dad angrily said "only after getting cold, you will realize".

But my MOTHER,
as she was drying my hair with her saree,
was shouting not at me But at the RAIN :-)

Cheers!!!


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Why people these days do not get married in America

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I have been in US for sometime now. Every now and then I would hear someone from my project say that her/his son/daughter is moving in with her/his boy/girl-friend. There are some known people who have been in relationship for more than a decade but haven't got married. This phenomenon is specially more in existence in this part of the world. Though, initially I thought it's a very personal matter to the person's life and so never dared to ask a question about such decisions. I still feel it's very much personal and so none of what I'm writing here is necessarily true. But going by the story of someone whom I know personally and who is a n American, I have something that I wanted to put forth here.

As I said, the opinion here is entirely our (rather my) understanding and is not at all intended to hurt any one's sentiments. Having said that, allow me to begin with the problem statement:

Why people these days do not get married in America?

There are multiple versions of this question too ..for example someone says this is more common among the African Americans ... (see this).


The analysis with my friend says that the situation has changed in the last two decades. Earlier people used to get married and live together. The equations changed when some of the US laws and regulations were enforced and divorce laws came into being and were enforced. Some of the divorced people misused the laws excessively and thereby causing harm to the social understanding that marriage was helpful. Some people (read youngsters) now think that marriage is a license you give to the government that allows greedy opportunistic lawyers to steal everything you own. Here in America there are a lot of people making a lot of money splitting up relationships hunting for people like you to suck you dry.If you are a US citizen and are considering marriage, run from it as fast as you can. If you want to be in a relationship, do it. Buy her a ring, live happily ever after. But a contract with the government doesn't add to the relationship. In fact, because of today's laws, marriage actually hurts the relationship and you are more likely to stay together if you don't get married.
Here comes the more interesting part : if you don't have any money and don't ever plan to have any, this doesn't apply to you. Get married, have children, don't worry. However, if you have a good job, own property, buying a house, you're in trouble. And if you're a programmer like me, it's even worse because software is a concept that is way beyond the mental bandwidth of judges to comprehend here :). Some people believe that if you are thinking of getting married to someone who were divorced in past in US, there are high chances that they get divorced again. Initially when they get married, obviously, things go pretty well for sometime. Sure there would be things that they wouldn't like about the relationship, but they tend to think that they were better off than most couples. Who would have thought that one day you think everything is fine and the next day it's all over. It happens ..and happens again and again in this land. Reports suggest that over 50% of marriages end in divorce these days. If you get married you run a better than even chance that this, or something like divorce where you lose everything you have, could happen to you. The law is such that the husband always gets into trouble. Many times the lady changes her mind about the divorce. However, she learns that the threat of divorce is an effective weapon and it is always there, hanging over the hubby's head. And if she didn't get her way she would threaten the guy with the "D Word".

The problem is something different though. Because of the power the government gives lawyers and judges the ability to steal your stuff, and the power to make your mate's life miserable should you choose to do so, being married is like living with a loaded gun sitting on the kitchen table. And once someone picks that gun up and points it at the other person, your marriage is over and your life is ruined. Because of the court system, marriage is bad for your relationship. The court usually orders the husband to pay for the maintenance and such things while the divorce case continues. If the ruling goes in favor of divorce, the guy is suppose to pay up for regular maintenance, health insurance, lawyer's fees plus any loans etc that the couple might have taken. So at the end of it, a regular guy (like a software engineer or a programmer) ends up being broke.

That's what the story is. :(. I'm not sure though, if this is the only reason. There might be n number of other reasons too. But who knows what the other reasons are. If you have some insight, please let me know ...

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Monday, March 16, 2009

The Curse of Being an Indian Software Developer

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I have been thinking about this recently. Though, the same topic has haunted me for a few years since I had access to Google. As I said in my earlier blog that I (and my other colleagues) never had access to an online search tool like Google. Now-a-days, kid software developers can generate huge chunks of codes/programs in no time. Thanks to Google and their skills to search on Google!

But the fact remains a fact. I have come across a number of technical websites and blogs where an Indian technical writer or contributor is abused for one reason or the other. I tried to think a lot over this thing. Is it real?? whatever the abuser says ... how much of that is true... When you get into a loop of this kind, you are just lost.

Later on I realised that not everything that is said about Indian software developers is either wrong or 100% correct. But both sides have some correctness.

See for example the comment on an article by an Indian developer on CodeProject.com. If you are a .Net developer and you have been doing some programming, you will agree that the article could have been more elaborative and it lacks some basic things (as of 16 Mar'09). Though, none of us can still pass a judgment on whether the developer "Manoj Rajan" who has written the article is a good developer/programmer or a Googler. Is he really trying to make a point or is he just trying to gain some brownie points by publishing an article on CodeProject so he can share the link with some of his friends/colleagues and show the link in his appraisal sheet as a contribution to technical forums.

Well, as I said, I have no idea and no clear-cut answers to any of these questions. It's only his who could have responded in a well defined way to who-so-ever posted the comment. Since, Manoj failed to reply to the comment or improve the article content, it became an acceptance of abuse, which pains me more.

I am not saying though, that all articles which are written by Indians are abused. For example, see this one on using WinDbg tool by an Indian author. She has really explained it well and the comments that followed the article are great. Reading through such an article makes me feel happy and proud (not simply because I'm an Indian but because I am a fellow-programmer).

There can be other instances however, where even a good article got abused. See for example this one on using MdiChild in windows development. Even a fellow Indian s/w developer comes and abuses. How sad. that too for a well explained article. Since the author was a C'pian (Code-projectian) and her husband is a big shot in code-project, the elaborate comment got deleted. (I had read the full comment earlier).

My whole point is this:

  • If you are software developer from any part of the world, do not just depend upon Google. Have some know-how to explain things to people when needed. Writing a technical article demands certain basic skills to explain the underlying concepts or to troubleshoot the problems generated from your own code or to help other developers improve/improvise your code to suit their needs.
  • Do not ever abuse any software programmer. If you think there is some problem with the article, let the author know what the article lacks by providing the author a positive comment or better still (if you are a developer yourself), by writing a technical article yourself on the same set of topics or a related post.
  • Read ..read ....read ...and read more ..... It's the habit of reading that makes you understand more. Read as much of technical stuff as you can for your own understanding.
  • Do not fake certifications. I have seen people writing articles on technical blogs, with signatures of MCTS/MCAD/MCSD, but the article did not go well with the explanations sought from the article's comments. So have a certification only when you are fully prepared. I remember, I scored 708 marks in my first certification that I had taken. While many other guys actually scored more than 950 or so.
Let me know what you think!!!

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

What To do on Mondays ? Bang your boss ;>)

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Sunday evening becomes so boring. Not because you don't have much to do. But because you know that it's going to be Monday tomorrow. So you will have to go to the office (if you are employed :D). If you are not employed and you are a student, you are bored (and frustrated) because you have to go to the school/college/university etc.

I could not think of a class of people who would be overjoyed by the feeling of Monday except one. The share-brokers in bullish market times. :). In bearish market times, even their Mondays are frustrating. So overall, I don't think there is anyone on this earth (save me from all those workaholic people) who likes Monday. And for one such workaholic, there is no difference between any given day of the week and any other day :(.

When I was a school going kid (where I seldom went:D).. my teacher used to tell us (probably in grade 3 or 4) that "Man is a social animal". Well, I did not have doubt either in those days nor do I doubt it now that "Man is absolutely an ANIMAL" ..and I'm sure you will agree with "Yours Truly". But what bothers me is that we were never told that "Man is a LAZY animal". And that's why we do not like to work. See, all of you will agree that what work you do does not matter. One might like to program on a Monday, if one has never done programming all one's life. One might like to go and see the life of a steel factory worker on a Monday if one has been programming all one's life. So, it's not about what you do or where you work that makes the Mondays boring. It's the continuity of work that makes Mondays boring. So let's support the idea of rotation of work!

For example, on Mondays you can be The Boss of your usual day boss. (Keep in mind though, that on tuesday he/she will be back on the seat to hunt you down if you did something extra-exciting on your Monday). Or better still, you are allowed to have the freedom of switching your job every Monday (assuming you are not passing through a dark age of economic crisis :D).

hehe!!! Isn't all of this getting exciting ??
Alec Smart of Bachi Karkaria would have opined : How about getting rid of Mondays from the calender!

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Warren buffet's Principle in current US economy

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I came across something that caught my attention a few days back. It's about the economy and the current economic situation.

It describes the economic situation and how economy progresses and depresses in the following picture.

I hear that the following speech is by Warren Buffet but don't know if that's true. It's called Warren Buffet's Principle. He says ...

"We begin this New Year with dampened enthusiasm and dented optimism. Our happiness is diluted and our peace is threatened by the financial illness that has infected our families, organizations and nations.

Everyone is desperate to find a remedy that will cure their financial illness and help them recover their financial health. They expect the financial experts to provide them with remedies, forgetting the fact that it is these experts who created this financial mess.

Every new year, I adopt a couple of old maxims as my beacons to guide my future. This self-prescribed therapy has ensured that with each passing year, I grow wiser and not older.

This year, I invite you to tap into the financial wisdom of our elders along with me, and become financially wiser.

Hard work : All hard work brings profit; but mere talk leads only to poverty.

Laziness : A sleeping lobster is carried away by the water current.

Earnings : Never depend on a single source of income.

Spending : If you buy things you don't need, you'll soon sell things you need.

Savings : Don't save what is left after spending; Spend what is left after saving.

Accounting : It's no use carrying an umbrella, if your shoes are leaking.

Auditing : Beware of little expenses; a small leak can sink a large ship.

Risk-taking : Never test the depth of the river with both feet.

Investment : Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

I'm certain that those who have already been practicing these principles remain financially healthy. I'm equally confident that those who resolve to start practicing these principles will quickly regain their financial health.

Let us become wiser and lead a happy, healthy, prosperous and peaceful life."

-- Warren Buffet

Well going by the picture,

We are at 5 right now......GOOD TIMES RETURN AT 6, SO CHEER UP!

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My Google Adsense income is more than $193000

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I could not resist subscribing to the "Monetize" tab on my blog customization tab. And you must be wondering how I started making an immediate income through Google Adsense. Well, My first day was a great start with over $159,000 but today has been going on much better with a new all-time record of more than $193,000 within last 6 hours. You want to know how ... :)

Well, not exactly true! My blog is for my fun only. But I'm sure many of the people must have told you or you might have come across many sites where the owner/blogger claims to be earning several thousands dollar each day via Google AdSense. And he is seen to be having either a screenshot or a photograph of a check.
Something like this in one of the ads on a site :





Now you can create your own proof by entering your amount in dollars into the Google Adsense Generator and show your friends that you are a AdSense-millionaire too.






Just goto http://googleadsensegenerator.com/ and start making money :).

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Innovations in the early morning hours!

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This is early Saturday morning and I was woken up by a phone call from India. Had to sit up and do some Google for a sample piece of code that allows to connect and transfer files from Windows machine to a UNIX machine and vice-versa. Though I have written many similar programs on a Windows box in VB6 as well as VB.Net and C# 2.0, they were all simple programs to interact with TCP/IP based servers and clients. I was not sure if this one would be different, so thought I'll give Google a chance too :D.

It came up with quite a few links but interestingly it is not supposed to be any different than whatever code I have written in the past. Still could not make up my mind to write some sample code again so early in the morning... that too on a weekend! Oh, c'mon man. give me a break!

So decided to forward the links with some sample codes.
I have started to like Google ! :). I remember, in my starting days as a programmer, we were a bunch of excited thunderbolts (Yes, all of them were thunderbolts) working @ NSDL thinking we can program any damn thing in no time. And frankly speaking WE DID!. But the code we wrote might not have been the best quality code, I guess. We wrote a full fledged PAN and TAN systems for Government of India. The architecture of the system still brings smile on my face.
We were supposed to develop a windows service. So far none of us (including our seniors and module leaders) had written a windows service. With no access to Google at that time, my module leader decided I'll have to write a program that will continue in an infinite do ...while loop. With proper CPU usage and proper handling of all possible cases, I wrote it. Frankly speaking, we were just two people at one point of time working on the system: Me and Amol Patil. Everyone who knows Amol can easily guess that it was Amol's idea :D. haha ! We got a huge client appreciation for developing the application (so called Windows service) which used to keep an eye on the changed files in multiple Windows directories on local machine and process them. We achieved processing as good a number as 14000 files a day initially which obviously went up as the aplications started cooming during early March (Tax filing time in April :)). And believe me or not, that was a huge number for NSDL and Government of India :D.
A few days later I did stumble upon a way, on local MSDN help, to implement Windows service. Though, it seemed to me to have been written in Arabic, still I managed to write my first Windows service with no infinite do ...while loop at 4 AM in the morning. :D. That was an amazing experience. I felt elated and so happy. It felt like I was the best programmer in the world :D, only to get an enlightening comment from my colleague & friend (Shaji) to stop working on desktop development projects since the world is going web.
My bragging came to an end the very same day only to bring up a new full featured intranet website the following morning! Voila! Watch this stupid guy. That again was in the early morning hours! I kept myself awake throughout the previous night to bring up my first website and I aptly named it as Victory. hehe :). Shaji brought me into the web-world! I really thank him to this day :D. Otherwise I would have remained a kid doing a lot of desktop development. Thanks Shaji. and thanks Amol.

I begin to think, all my innovations have happened in the early morning hour. Before this really gets into my head, I better go to sleep again!

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Friday, March 13, 2009

The Oscar fever

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It's been more than a week now that the Oscar fever is gone. But truly speaking, it's picking up more in India now. Since an Indian cinema, Slumdog Millionaire, (though I am not sure if I should really call it an Indian cinema but I'll take this privilege considering that the star cast is Indian) got quite a few Oscars, a number of people now claim or comment on the Oscars that A.R. Rehman received or upon anything remotely related to Indian Oscar :). I found an e-mail in my mailbox day before yesterday which truly shows the Indian phenomenon. I am sharing these images here but I don't know if these images are copyrighted. If you know the copyrights, let me know so I can give due credits.

This one is for the director Danny Boyle. It shows Danny saying (I quote) "Throughout my life I had been looking for a good plot without knowing that the Oscar is hidden in the Slums of India".





And no one can disagree on the following cartoon. All the Indian politicians will sure keep trying to keep the slums alive in every Indian metro and elsewhere. I have purposefully not used the word Indian leaders because none of the politicians (and I want to emphasise, NO ONE) is a leader.

This one shows an Indian politician saying "We want to bag more Oscars next year. Therefore, we have decided to expand the slum area in India" :)

This cartoon takes away the Oscar from all the cartoons. :). It shows an Indian politician saying : "We also contributed a lot in getting home the Oscar because even after 60 years of independence, we did not allow the slums to be developed".

This one shows the state of the people still living under the line of poverty. According to available data from 2007 estimates, 25% people in India are still living below the poverty line. An Indian politician is shown saying the legendary "Jai ho!" to poor beggars who are saying "What Jai ho! ? Now we even got you an Oscar. At least get us a meal now!"

But this one is hilarious. One can find so many of these singing kids in the Mumbai local trains or in any passenger train in India, whose lives are ruined. Some of them truly grab the attention of the passengers by the way they sing. I remember watching and listening to one such singer when I was traveling from my hometown to New Delhi. The little kid was hitting his chest continuously to give an impression of some kind of music going along with the song.

This cartoon is showing two poor beggar kids saying "Our 'Slum music' also might get a place in the film industry!".

I know this does not sound good. but alas, when will we be able to save our own people from misery. God bless India and Indians.


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