Thursday, August 30, 2007

Sharper than ever

Hello Moto....For all those, who have seen the new Motorola RAZR2 (or do they call it V8/9?), this phrase is identifiable. I am not a Moto enthusiast (for that matter neither am I of Nokia or Sony Ericcson, humein kisine brand ambassador/fiat/maruti banaya hi nahi..), but the Razr series has fascinated me (and my bro) since its launch. Even the earliest version was ultra-slim (Aur log kehte hain-Seshadri hi patla hain..) and the most distinctive phone in its class. There was a time, when just holding a Razr in one's hands used to feel heavenly (nearly so..). It used to evoke a sense of status,style,attitude all packed in one. (I never believe any commodity decides your quality - being the owner of Nokia 3315- but the Razr made me think otherwise). It was not the perfect phone (given that it used to have just a 1.3 meg camera), but then, surely no one could beat its design. Following it, were other Motos like the Krzrs and Slvrs which were again, the sleekest in their classs. I was (and I am, even now) almost convinced that Motorola is the only company that can pack so much of hardware in such a slim phone. Though Nokia followed recently with the N75, it appears to me like a me-too phone, the sole purpose being, showing off its design capabilities (Nokia says 'Art meets intelligence'..should I say - 'Nokia meets Motorola'?). Though Sony Ericsson's W880i is even thinner (9.4mm), a Razr is a Razr, afterall.

But now, here comes the newest member of the series- Razr2. Sleeker.Smarter.Stronger. That's what Moto calls it.Not a BIG change since the previous Razrs. But few features distinguish it like the thickness(thinness?) of 11.9mm, 2 meg camera, large external display with keys, and many such. The best part that I have noticed in Razr2 is the disappearance of the bulge at the bottom of the Razr, which used to be present in earlier Razrs (and was not so aligned with the phone's sleek looks). This makes the phone completely flat and gives it a more stylish look.

Just days back, Motorola has launched an TV commercial (part of its global 'The Eye for Sharp' campaign) for the Razr2 (in India, that is), and to say that it's superb would be an understatement. It shows a guy and a gal fighting each other (tearing their clothes, too), using their Razrs like swords. The best part is when in the end of the ad, the guy throws the Razr and it sticks to the wall like a knife. Brilliant idea, superlative execution. It puts forth the idea of a 'sharp' Razr without even saying it. (The outdoor ads carry forward this idea, too). I am yet to find out the agency, do tell me who it is, if you know.

PS: As you have noticed, this post purely speaks of Razr2's design and is not a complete review (that's why all's positive about it). Catch the review by ZDNet here.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Har title kuch kehta hain

The title is not to publicise any paint company's tagline, but just a better way to say 'I couldn't find a title for this one'. This post is, by the way, going to be much different than the ones that you have read till now; you will shortly know why. All those (This seems like addressing everyone in a theatre screening Aap ka surroor in the 4th week) waiting for a long time for a post, here it is !!

Nothing much was running through my mind the past few days (months:(..), except for random thoughts about posts like Social obligation of CEOs, The great Indian education rejig, and bahut kuch aur (Of course, main-aur-meri-tanhai wale poems). But then, I couldnt write them long enough for a post to happen. As far as 'happenings' are concerned, one BIG thing that happened was my annual appraisal. Firstly, ladies and gentlemen, Seshadri is now a 'confirmed' employee of TCS (not such a big thing, it's just a formality of completing one year(it took a few days more due to some 'unavoidable' reasons). But, more of a news is me getting a 'more than satisfactory' rating (for those who are unaware, these are the annual marksheets for modern-day employees). I am not revealing the exact rating, because - I am NOT supposed to!! (tumhe toh pata hi hain, I never break the rules :)...As far as my thoughts on this event are concerned, I feel it is one of the first big achievements in my life, and has made me feel ecstatic. (On my way to the rose garden..?). All thanks also to my leads, (ML and PL), whom I have started holding in high esteem just like an MBA holds Merill Lynch or a Maharashtrian holds Pu La. But there here comes the kahaani mein twist. I am still to get an 'official' notification of my revised salary (aakhir paapi pet ka sawaal hain) due to -again- 'unavoidable' reasons. So, now I am in a similar situation like the small investors in the Indian market, who know for sure that 15,500 is good enough for Sensex, but don't know about what will happen to their money in the next few days.

And yes, the 'Mumbai' rains are here!!! Again, the same old train-kahaan-tak-ja-raha-hain fears, cold shivers after a drenched day, jammed cellphone networks, cancelled weekend plans, everything is back in true Mumbaiya ishtyle.

Of course, besides all this, CAT forms are out. So the D-day (or the C-day?) for me is nearing - 106 days, 9 hours, 35 minutes, to be precise. I don't want to come back this Sunday from my mock test saying the same thing -'Agli baar zyaada prep karke aaonga and will surely get a better percentile'.

And, before I forget, the difference you see in the tone of this post is simply because it has been inspired by my brother's new blog post, (which in turn, is inspired probably from here).So all you folks wanting some time pash shtuff from a smart guy, idhar jaiye. (Psst..partha - I am done, now my payment is due :) )

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

"Life's lessons learnt" - Murthy

I recently read about N.R.Narayana Murthy's speech at the Precommencement ceremony at the prestigious NYU Stern University. A man of great stature, he mentions in the speech, some of his past experiences acted as turning points in his life.

The first incident he quotes, is in 1968, when during his post-graduation at IIT Kanpur (as a Control Theory student), he met a US-based computer scientist, who discussed new developments in the field. The discussion generated so much interest in Murthy that he went to the library, referred some papers and came out of the library determined to study Computer science. It was just this chance event (as he refers) because of which he chose Computer science as his career (and which gave us one of the finest IT companies in India).
The second experience that he recounts is during his brief stopover at Nis (bordered Yugoslavia and Bulgaria). He boarded a train in the night, with only another boy and a girl as company. The girl started criticizing the communist Bulgarian government, which resulted in the boy summoning the local police. Murthy was held captive in a 8x8 room with no food for more than 72 hours. He was later taken to Istanbul and released "..because he was from a friendly country called India..", he recalls. This incident transformed the young man (who was earlier a leftist by thought) into a compassionate capitalist. He realised that entrepreneurship, resulting in large scale job creation was the only way to eradicate poverty. Infosys was eventually founded with this very motive in mind.

The next significant day that he speaks of is in 1990, when the seven founders of Infosys met in Bangalore to decide upon a possible sale for $1 million! When everyone, except Murthy, almost reached a consensus, Murthy spoke passionately of their 9-year old journey. He offered others to buy out their stakes, if they felt appropriate to sell off. That changed their thinking, and today, we find the company having more than $3 bn in revenues!

The final event that Murthy mentions is when one of his big clients (he has mentioned in another interview earlier that it was GE), talked to multiple vendors regarding a project and put in harsh terms (and unfair price) before them. Given the fact that it accounted for 25% of Infy's revenues then, it would have been difficult to say no. But Murthy took the call and made it clear that it would not be possible for Infy to service them effectively. This, eventually brought about a risk-mitigation strategy into Infosys to stabilize revenues.

Through these examples, Murthy summarises the lessons learnt in his life:
Learning from experience: Be it failure or success, it is important to look back and learn what went wrong and what could have been done better.
Power of chance events: Chance events, as he says, play an important role in one's life. But more importantly, how we respond to them decides the tapping of such opportunities.
Mindset: He distinguishes between a fixed mindset (avoid challenges, learning) and growth mindset (embrace challenges and learn from criticism)
Self-knowledge: Greater awareness about oneself and belief in one's abilities, clubbed with humility.

To end the speech, he reminds that we are all merely temporary custodians of wealth, be it financial, emotional or intellectual, and the ultimate goal is to share it with those less fortunate - "To sow the seeds for trees, whose fruits you may not even be able to see". This message from one of my idols, will not only enlighten the Stern grads, but kindle the thought process in the Indian youth, as well.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

It's not just a song - It's a thought

Yesterday being a holiday, I was busy doing my 'usual' task of browsing through all the music channels for some good music. A new song, Sadho Re, from a band called Agnee suddenly caught my attention. From the music, I could make out it was a typical 'Indian Ocean' kind-of song. But then, the video was even more convincing..

The video (MediaPlayer streaming link), shot in an Indian pilgrim city(probably Varanasi) shows, a small girl, touring around a mela, grabbing her father's hand. Suddenly, another poor kid grabs her toy and runs away. The girl runs behind her, but is unable to catch hold of her. Now, she raises her head to look at the diverse kind of people present at the mela. She now starts realizing the fact that she is lost in the crowd. In the next frame, a man throws some food on the ground and four poor kids fight on the road to get hold of it. The girl's expression says it all at this moment. She can't understand, why anyone needs to fight for food. Someone knocks off the ice-cream she held, but she is still motionless. She later starts crying and walks in search of her father. The video ends with the members of the band taking her to her father and an ecstatic smile on her face.

But more than the video, the interpretation that I guessed, disturbed me very much. Did the director/band try to portray the universal truth from the innocent eyes of the young girl. Picture this: Every one of us is smiling and care-free in the happier times of our life. The moment we happen to lose any of our closest possessions, we engage in an endless chase for it. If we fail to find it, we retard, tired and helpless. But then, when we look at the world around us, we find so much pain and suffering; that our loss seems to be miniscule. We start realizing, the ordeals, others have to go through, for even a grain of food. We feel that all our possessions are just namesake and are no more than ornamental. And at this dividing line of the world and the self, we find ourselves helpless. But, most of the time, this realization is momentary, only till we return to the material world. The big divide of the whole world no longer makes sense to us, as we embrace our new-found happiness in objects of desire. And this is what the song probably means, when it says, Ye murdon ka gaanv..

Surely, songs like these-though may not be part of popular trend (should I say Himesh!), are very much thought-provoking. Reminds me of the lines from Indian Ocean's Bharam Bhaap Ke - "Jang ka rang sunehra samjha, Lekin baad mein gehra samjha. Janga ka rang toh kaala re..."

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Sweet dreams..

Just to let you know that I have not digressed into writing only the below-mentioned kind of poems :). This one always reminds me of one of my sweetest dreams, after which I would never want to wake up that morning..

I see a thousand colours painting the sky,
The sun hiding at the horizon, pleasing my eye,
Feel a cool breeze, and roses, my hands running through,
To live this dream forever, I want to...

Meri kalam se...

With the absence of posts for a long time, I think you would have understood the importance I attach to reader requests, by not continuing on the tech-blog lines. (Oh! how much pain it was, to resist my fingers from typing so many significant tech-news that I read these days..) But, on the insistence of some of my close friends, I began writing some more Hindi four-liners. Only that this time these were with a 'different' purpose. Here, I have some lines with an 'imaginary ('virtual, pseudo, whatever you may wish to call it!) person in the context..

My imagination running wild, on the day Mumbai faced pleasant blink-and-you-miss-showers last month or so...

Yeh thandi hawa jaane kahaan se chali hain,

Mitti ki ye khushboo, dil ko choo gayi hain,
Baraste boondo se chehre pe nami hain,
Jannat hain ye, bas tumhari kami hain.

And when the train stops till eternity (or so it seems) on an almost-empty station, I could think of nothing but this...

Aaj in nazron ko dekhkar, ye mehsoos hua,
Waqt tham jaaye, to koi gham nahi.
Is muskurate chehre ko dekhkar ye mehsoos hua,
Dil ka dhadakna ruk jaaye, to koi gham nahi.

And one more, local train-window seat setting-- an ideal scenario for a person like me :)

Woh zulfe teri, aur woh nigaahen nazar aati hain,
Chehak si hansin kaanon mein bas jaati hain.
Jaanun har kadam, pehchaanta hoon har aahat,
Jab dhadkanein meri tez ho jaati hain.

Let's give a poetic end to it (or should I ??)

Har raat yehi sochta hoon,
Aankhen band kar, tumhe yaad karta hoon.
Aur usi yaad mein jo do shabd gun-gunaata hoon,
Duniya mein ek shayar kehlaata hoon.

Just a request...Please do not compare it with all the great Hindi shayaries that you have heard till date. And, if you have read the first 3 lines of this post, you will never ask me about the reason for these lines. Or so, I assume..

PS: Whoever got the idea of me contributing to a book [hehe..haha..I didn't start this :)], only I can understand how difficult it is, to maintain readership of even a simple blog like this. (Look at the kind of posts I have resorted to !)

Saturday, April 07, 2007

M(SFT) for Mobile

Firstly, with some of my posts being inclined to a certain company (I will NOT take its name in this post !), and people doubtful about the purpose [:)], its time to clarify. I actually spread my interests in technology mainly to the internet and allied services. Primarily, I am involved in techno-GAMY (dont search for definitions of this term..this is coined by me for my own convenience) - that is an eye for the big four - G_____, Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo. So hear goes another technology story for you...(though I regret the delay in bringing this story to you)

First, Microsoft spun off a mobile service as a separate venture, 10 days ago, called Zenzui, which, till then was a Research effort by it. Zenzui is a new way of surfing the web on the mobile phone. It involves a personalised grid of - what MS calls - 'tiles'. Each tile represents a thumbnail representation of a particular service or a website. Users can navigate through the tiles by using the thumb. Zoom in by simple tapping the tile. Though currently it offers a grid of 4 tiles (with feeds from predefined partners), I assume the grid size and content should be customisable in the future. What is even more interesting is its promotional video, which almost gives a feeling that the technology is meant for high-end phones or PDAs. It's just a matter of time to see whether people would accept this as an equivalent of the iPhone navigation.

Another technology that MS unveiled shortly after this is the Deepfish, (still in Live Labs), which is again a new mobile browsing experience. Deepfish will make browsing on the mobile phone, similar to the desktop, it says. That is possible because it would load the entire web page, but in a bandwidth-friendly low resolution version on the mobile phone. The user can navigate to the section he wants, through the use of joystick, and zoom in on the section. It would load a full version of that part only. This would mean, website developers would not have to create a separate low graphic version. All this is possible through the use of server-side technology and a light-weight client. More still, it provides features like standard link navigation, simple form submission, client caching and bookmarking. Though it is still not complete in terms of advanced features like AJAX, the later versions should probably support them.

Though both these services are very different in terms of their motives and the technology, it clearly shows how important the mobile app market has become for all the big players.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

A personal touch to Google

Can you imagine getting the feel of a beach while you are searching? And obviously, when I say search, I mean Google(though I wished not to make this a 'Google' Blog, but for these innovations !). Google, had introduced the Personalized Google home page long back, on which you could have RSS feeds from hundreds of sites. And as days went by, a growing number of sites, dealing with varied topics, started being available for such feeds. So, this page has become a one-stop update for many people like me. My current homepage includes feeds ranging from the usual Times of India to word/quote of the day to my regular dose of technology news from multiple sites. Of course, a smart move by having tabbed page, thus helping us organizing it better.

On the 20th of this month, Google added one more interesting feature to it - themes! The banner of my home page can now contain images depending on various themes, which currently include only six - city, teahouse, winter scene, sky, beach and bus stop. And to add to this, the banner changes its appearance depending on the time of the day, so that you are in the mood, always! Here's my Google home page's technology tab, with beach as the current theme.

But then, there's always a Googley twist to it. According to tech observers, Google has put in some kind of tweaks in the code(e.g here's the Sweet Dreams xml), which results in the banner changing its appearance everyday at 3.14 AM (Remember pi !!). And that too, is different for each of the themes.

Here are the UFOs that appear in the City Scape and the Pi appearing in Sweet Dreams themes.
(Though I have tried setting my local time to 3.14 am, I have not yet encountered this hidden images :( )

And that's not all, Google is asking its users to suggest many more themes here, so that it can provide other themes in the future. And I assume in the near future, it will also allow users to upload their own images in their homepage. (I can't stop imagining my face beside the famous Google logo!). So now you know where to head, when you want a search engine that knows your mood..

Friday, March 09, 2007

Cats, Dogs & Microsoft !

While following the news about Microsoft's TechFest 2007, which focusses many of its innovations, I came across a peculiar service. Called Asirra (Animal Species Image Recognition for Restricting Access) , it basically plans to provide a service wherein humans would be distinguished from robots by asking the user to identify whether the image is that of a cat or a dog ! Surprising, isn't it? This challenge is often called the CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart). And is very important these days to make sure that automated programs are not filling up forms or posting stuff on your website.

Currently such a distinction is established using images, with garbled/corrupted letters that have to be typed in by the user. (Remember all those times when you have been asked to do so on creation of email IDs or when posting on some blogs?). These are being widely used in websites but as Microsoft says are "Unfortunately, such challenges can be difficult and frustrating for people, yet are often easily solved by computers".

So, the solution ,it says, lies in asking users to identify whether a photo (a 'real' photo courtesy is that of a cat or dog. According to Microsoft, "This task difficult for computers, but our user studies have shown that people can accomplish it quickly and accurately. Many even think it's fun!". And then, it will also show an 'Adopt Me!' link below each image, which will support PetFinder's mission of finding home for these animals. And Microsoft aims to provide this as a service to website owners for identification on their website. I just tried the test on Asirra's website, which had 12 images of cats/dogs and 2 out of four times it flashed 'You are a bot!', because I identified one photo wrongly. (This was because the pic was a long distance shot and it was very difficult to identify the hairy animal in that small pic!). Only time will tell how effective, fun (and less frustrating !!) this system is for the visitors. Lets hope we see many cute puppies & kitten everyday on websites !!

(Images courtesy :

Monday, March 05, 2007

Keeping me busy

Last week and days before that, I was a little (did I say little?) busy with my work. Just completed a task this week and felt a little satisfied (being the 'Employee of the month' in my project could also be a reason :)). But nowadays, I am far more busy at home with the online puzzles as part of Transcend (the fest at Symbiosis). And I am solving the 404 Not Found, just like that. For those who have been through Klueless 1 and Klueless 2 (part of IIM-I's Iris), its almost exactly similar to the Klueless. Equally challenging. Equally involving. And equally frustrating! Just try it out, if you find time that is. Because once you start it, you may never want to leave the PC until you finish the last level. And if you ever get stuck at some level, you may realize why I call it frustrating. Lotsa brain-scratching moments ahead.. And yes, don't blame me if you manage to sneak in just 5 hrs of sleep after hours at the computer (like me!!)

PS: You may also try out the 'original' Klueless. But, in both the cases, dont ever think of completing the puzzle without the game's blogs.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Dreams never die

After many days, I took some time off to listen to many songs that I used to cherish last year and earlier. And in my playlist was also the inspiring Aashayen (Iqbal). Those lines are really very inspiring and when Shaan says 'Ab mushkil nahin kuch bhi ..', it sets my mind into the thinking mode. "Can determination really drive a person towards his goals, inspite of the unsurmountable challenges?".

As if to answer my question, the Times of India carried an article today about how Dreams never die. It mentions the story of a paan-wallah Birbal Chaurasia, who fled away from his village 30 years ago with Rs.180 in his pocket and set up shop outside the Indian Express building in Delhi. Earning very little from his paan-shop, he used to prepare pickles and home-made drinks and ensured his daughters got Rs.10 for their bus fare. Last month, his elder daughter became a Chartered Accountant and his younger daughter is about to complete cost accountancy in a year. Surprising? Inspiring? It should be. We have seen many of our friends trying hard for completing the CA exams and cribbing about it being 'one-of-the-most-difficult' exams ever. GIven the fact that we have much of the resources and luxury to help us achieve our ambitions, many of us still falter in our path, and take pride in 'putting up an average show'. Think of all the cases where we hear of physically challenged people earning success in their fields. And still we talk about the many 'challenges', because of which we fail.

When I read of cases like Chaurasia's, I am reassured that determination is the most important thing (and in many cases, the only thing) that will help us out in reaching out to the stars. When you hear him say "I understood (on interacting with women journalists) that progress is linked to education. Which is why I decided to educate my teo daughters along with my son...Without education, women cannot be self-reliant and take independent decisions", you may never realise that this paan-wallah is a class VIII dropout.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Brin-ning with success

No.It's not a typo. Its just to associate success with the co-founder of Google, Sergey Brin, who has been featured by the Moment magazine.
All of you may probably be knowing how much I am fascinated by Google, not only for the variety of its product releases, but the speed at which it has grown and the huge risks that it is ready to take. And, not surprisingly, Fortune Magazine has rated it as 'The Best Company to Work for' in the United States for in this year's survey. As it mentions

"Our new No. 1 sets the standard for Silicon Valley: free meals, swimming spa, and free doctors onsite. Engineers can spend 20% of time on independent projects...."

Only time will tell how far this company will go in fulfilling its mission "To organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. "

PS: The PC at my place is up and running (and the first thing I did was, obviously, visit !!), so you can expect more frequent posts on my blog!!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

A Tribute to KGB Sir..

Our beloved Prof.K.G.Balakrishnan (Head of Dept, IT, VESIT) passed away last month. It is a very big loss to all the students of VESIT and more importantly to the institution. When I came to know of the sad news, I was in a state of shock and could not digest the fact that the very professor whom we used to hold in high esteem is no more with us.

We had mixed experiences with Sir. Though there were some moments when we did not agree with his style of teaching; the truth is that everyone respected the vast knowledge that he had about diverse fields. I still remember the time when only the three of us, me, Smidth and Ruta attended one of his Computer Simulation & Modelling lectures in the lab. There are some very distinct incidents that I remember of him.

His style of teaching was totally different than what we student perceived of a regular teacher. His lecture was based more on the concepts and their usefulness in real-life rather than just text-book reading, I even had a one-to-one chat with him asking him why he used this approach and that one reason, the students were unwilling to pay attention was this. But the reply that he gave still echoes in my ears - "I am not here to just let you clear the Mumbai Univ exams. The problems are there in the text-book. I am here to help you formulate the real life problems into equations that you can solve further. I am here you let you understand what simulation actually is.". Though not totally convinced by this answer, I was impressed by his emphasis on concepts.

The other thing that every one of us would remember is the number of times he used to ask 'Why?' in the class. For every little topic, he would pose five different questions and ask 'Why? Think about it. Let me know the answer.' And all his questions used to roll over to the next day. He said "Simulation is all about questions. If you come up with more questions, you understand the problem better. Your job is just to identify which questions to ask." One of his questions used to be 'Why do you think auto rickshaws are not allowed to ply within Mumbai limits?'. For long we didn't understand the relevance of this question to the subject, but later he answered it himself. "The traffic will move at the pace of the slowest vehicle. This is similar to any queuing problem. A single bottleneck may slow down the entire queue. You identfy that and optimise it."

It's sad that the Almighty chose to deprive us of such a knowledgeable person, who, in a real sense, was a mentor for many. And when I ask the Almighty the question 'Why?', I haven't received an answer ....

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Some Hindi musings..

I have got a very good team with me at my work and my dear colleague Muktesh is a very good poet. He converses (and pens,too) largely in pure Hindi which unknowigly makes me 'think' in hindi sometimes. These are some four-liners that originated in the same local train musings..

Sapne toh hazaaron dekhta hoon,
Unhe paane ka honsla rakhta hoon,
Par agar ek bhi toot jaaye,
Toh ujale mein dhund ki tarah,
Unhe sama mein kahi kho deta hoon.

One of my other colleagues remarked that, i always laugh, make fun of everything and am not serious about anything. (can't believe it, no?). This is what I have to say..

Kisi ki muskaan dekhkar hans deta hoon,
Sannaate mein aankhen nam kar leta hoon,
Meri bhavnayein nahin;yeh toh bas ek aaina hain,
Zindagi mein bas ek parchai banke rah jaata hoon.

And being entangled in code and deadlines (though I love it!!), I felt something like..

Yeh raat, raat nahin; andhere ka saaya lagti hain,
Subah,subah nahin; kiranon ka ghera lagti hain,
Kya jeena ise kehte hain,
Yeh zindagi toh ek toota khilona lagti hain.

I had some more, but will post them later. These are anyways in a very raw form and I feel may work against increasing the readership!!(:)).
PS: If you feel that this kind of poetry is worth spending a few minutes, do look over all of them (including many English poems) and comment.