Monday, December 28, 2009

A trip down the memory lane

This is neat and feels great mainly because I am blogging after several days. Work for me has been tighter than usual at office and I was not even able to spend enough time for my fun activities in the last 1 to 2 months. Anyway, I got a chance to take a break from the regular gruelling schedule when Abi's team planned to visit their colleague at Nagercoil for his marriage. We had booked the tickets a couple of months back itself but I was still making up my mind whether to go or not till the very last day!

But there we were at the Central railway station and slowly people started to pour in one by one. I met some people nodding politely to acknowledge me and several others (12 in total actually excluding us) who did not know what to do! I was actually one among the latter group myself :) because though I had seen a lot of them before in a party once, that was long back and I am not in touch with them any more.

The journey got underway and once the games ensued (Lingo and Dumb-Charades), we were all gelling quite well before we even knew each other's names :) The trip is quite a long one - over 15 hours one way. So, there were lots of games and people making fun of each other. The cool part of it all was how sportive everyone took the whole pulling-other's-legs part and the way people tried to keep it that way without being brutal. I cannot remember another crowd I have been part of which accommodated me so easily as if they all knew me for a long time now.

There are so many unforgettable moments in this whole trip that it becomes very difficult for me to isolate any - Jey's vivacious comedy, Kala's ever laughing manner, Ramala's almost encyclopaedic knowledge of alphabets, Raj's brilliant organization of seat arrangements, Harini's 'upper berth', Path's 'thinking man' posture, Yunus' slow flowering into a glib leg-puller, Subanki's 'die-hard-vijay-fan-dom', Renji's 'first-time-train-travel-jitters', the reception we received at Nagercoil, Inigo & Prem's wonderful hospitality and the games themselves of course. And I do not think I have done justice to even half of what & whom I wanted to write about.

For Abi and me, the critical part of our journey's success was in assessing how Isha would take in the crowd, sustain the travel and survive the whole episode without falling ill. I believe going by that measure, it is indeed a success for us. She was her usual slow self to get along with people but was fine going with them once she realized(!) this is a long trip away from home and she will be stuck with them for a while :)) More firsts for us parents - Isha was reluctant to even go to a beach or any other waterbody before this trip. This time, she plunged right into the Thirparappu falls once Abi introduced her to it and was enjoying it so much that she refused to come out. The same happened when we went to the beaches at Kanyakumari & Muttom. It was so difficult to pull her out of the waters! She had a gala time.

Of course, all this would not have been possible without the loving support we received from every single person around us. And it really makes me wonder about Sadhguru's grace because I was very skeptical about taking Isha & was slightly harping on His grace being around to protect her.

And hey - I just remembered this is by far the longest journey I have made within India!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Flight mode

The funny thing about flight mode is you never get to use it in flight :)) at least not yet in India.

The wiki link for 'flight mode' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flight_mode) says clearly that flight mode allows a cellphone to be left on while the phone's owner is in an airborne plane. It is useful when you want to listen to music or play games while in an airplane.

I have traveled in most domestic airlines in India and invariably, despite my repeated pointing out that keeping a phone in flight mode does not interfere with the air traffic control signals, the in-flight attendants are stubborn that the phone be switched off rather. I have seen the same predicament faced by my co-passengers a few times though by that time I had wisened up to rather keep my phone off than draw the attraction of the air-hostess unnecessarily.

If they are concerned that the phone can be put quickly into the 'phone mode' from 'flight mode', I think it is really stupid because it probably takes one a little more than 10 to 15 seconds to switch on a phone from off mode! And it amounts to the same thing, isn't it?

However, I have also seen cases where some BlackBerries are made an exception to. Some of my flight co-passengers have been able to keep their BBs on in flight. It is clear RIM has a special tie-up with the airlines or I am missing something. ;-)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Project estimation

What on earth am I doing these days with presentations? Well .. presenting them to people :))

Who you may ask - it is mostly my own team and some other teams interested in knowing about stuff.

So, yesterday's presentation was about estimation of projects. Though it is relevant quite a bit for software projects, I assume most of what has been given in the presentation is valid for non-software projects as well.

So, here it is ..

Hope it would be useful to everyone [who sees it of course ;)]

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Documentation skills

Just happened to put together a presentation yesterday (took me 3 hours to make it) for my team and some other teams in the organization on ... documentation skills.

I know what you might be thinking - 'why on earth documentation skills?'. Believe me, I too started the same way while starting my career but got quickly enlightened on it ;-)

And am hoping (rather boldly) to convince the reader about the need for doc skills.

Let's see if am right ...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

PMP - What is Project Management?


So, we saw what a project is. Now, let's see what project management is about.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Friday, June 26, 2009

Precious!

I have been meaning to write this for at least a week now. It is about the power of 'a single drop' and is with respect to pollution. It is difficult to explain but some analogies could help.

What is common between 'A thousand drops of water', 'A hundred ants', 'A colony of bees' and 'Waves rolling together'? Of course, the commonality is that these are multiple entities of same type. But if you look at these examples a little more carefully, it becomes clear that though a single entity in these groups is not very significant, when they get into these groups, their effectiveness increases multifold!

All that is fine but what has that got to do with pollution - you ask? Think of yourself (an individual man / woman) as that single entity, an ant or a bee or a single wave, and the analogy becomes apparent now. If not now, it will be once you reach the end - so read on.

I have been traveling almost constantly this week, to various places in Chennai on my 2-wheeler or in my car. At every opportunity where I had a little over 30 seconds stop at a traffic signal, I switched off my vehicle engine thereby saving some precious time & money. One might laugh now reading about the 'precious' phrase ... but I really mean it.

From my home to office, there are at least 3 traffic signals where I stop for over 30 seconds each. So, that is approximately 1.5 minutes one way and a total of 3 minutes during a regular working day. Added to that, I was out visiting the dentist and to my bank this week, going via Anna Salai (anybody in Chennai knows how crazy that drive would be), giving me an extra whopping 15 minutes during the total 4 hour driving time!!

So, my total savings on petrol usage last week alone has been 30 full minutes!

Now imagine about 1 million vehicle users in Chennai city [let's talk small numbers now :)] and if even 1/3rd of them stop their vehicle engines like I did, we have about 1 million minutes per day & 5 million minutes for a regular 5-day working week!! Now do you see how tiny drops add up?

We humans have been burdening Mother Earth too much with so much of our own non-sense. Let's at least save some burden for the trees we are chopping off so non-chalantly. If not for the green cover on Earth, we would have wiped ourselves out much earlier I think.

For people really who want to do something about eco-friendly stuff, the start has to be with themselves. Some guidelines are in these sites:

http://motorinsurancesingapore.com/articles/129/7-ways-to-reduce-petrol-consumption/
http://ezinearticles.com/?Saving-Money-by-Eco-Friendly-Driving-Techniques:-Not-Such-a-Bad-Idea!&id=215122

Hope to see you join the drive soon :-)

Monday, May 25, 2009

I Paid it, at last!

People who have not seen me in the last 1 year might not know, but all others should have by now been vexed with my indulgence in chess.

I have had a personal chess trainer for almost an year now. No, no, I am not talking about the flesh-and-blood one. It is my chess.com web account. So far, I have been using the free account and it would be a surprise to Abi if I did not spend at least 10 hours per week on this site learning / playing chess.

For me, the learning has been through all the features of this site - the daily puzzles, tactics training, discussion forums, blogs, online games, tournament games, analysis of the 'game-of-the-week', analysis of grandmaster games, etc.. especially the last. My rating on the site has increased from 1000+ to 1500+ in a little over 8 months - mostly due to all this learning.

There have been periodic alerts (between my game alerts) to take a membership on this web site. But so far, I had not - partly due to laziness but also due to my current economic situation. I guess a lot of people do that, at least those I know. Last Friday however, after logging in, I was immediately taken to the 'Buy membership' page. :-) I guess for once the site owners lost their patience with me using their features for free. ;-)

This is an amazing website and being an information technology professional myself, I know how difficult it is to create such a web site and maintain it. It should be taking a lot from the web masters. I discussed with Abi and we both felt that if I really saw value in taking the membership, I should take it and I paid for it that night itself.

May be there was some guilt lurking somewhere in the mind about using the site for free and not heeding to the membership requests. All that was gone in the instant I paid for it and got the membership. The first feeling was that of relief! And then I headed on to the tactics trainer, a feature not available for free users, and got my online rating going to 1550+ from 1360+. So, here starts the second phase of my journey in learning chess. Let's hope it is better than the first one or atleast as fruitful.

Finally, am a platinum membership holder for chess.com and it feels nice to be in good terms with my trainer again :-)

Brilliant! And Cruel!

It is just amazing how technology turns what we call as 'dirt' ;-) into something we use so much in our daily lives that some cannot think living without it!!

http://www.techradar.com/news/computing-components/processors/how-sand-is-transformed-into-silicon-chips-599785

http://www.techradar.com/news/computing-components/processors/how-sand-is-transformed-into-silicon-chips-599785?artc_pg=2

It took me sometime though to realize that there are some unwanted byproducts too to this process - the core silicon production involves a lot of CO2 release into the atmosphere. And I am not even considering the acidic products used in this procedure and what it takes to create them in the first place and what effects their byproducts have.

Sigh ... after all it is a human engineered product and one we take for granted without thinking much about what we are doing to the environment!

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/05/090517-pollution-changes-dna.html

Unless we do something right and fast, we will end up annihiliating the human race (and possibly all organic life) from planet Earth which has nurtured life for billions of years, that is till now.