Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Bad old days are back here in India

Get set for the mother of all strikes

We had seen relatively few strikes when NDA was the ruling coalition. When UPA came to power, the communists and socialists came out too - like the cockroches that come out when the place is dark. And they are naturally followed by strikes.

During NDA government, the Supreme Court banned strikes; Tamil Nadu government crushed striking state government employees. The employees managed to get no sympathy from the common man. The strike fizzled out. I'm sure the state government employees will not think of strike for another 10 years. By that time, a new generation of lazy sloths would be there and will not remember the lack of sympathy and will probably announce a strike. Or there may be better set of responsible people who will be serious about their work - some wishful thinking.

Strikes by polical parties are also low in number - you will have to give some concesssion to communists - can't call a bunch of lunatics as a political party. BJP and Shivsena paid a huge fine to Maharashatra state government when they had a strike. At least they are aware that it is illegal to strike, but still want to do it as a mark of protest and are prepared to be punished.

Let's see how each state behaves in handling the striking employees this time.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

How Microsoft can 'kill' Google | The Register

How Microsoft can 'kill' Google | The Register

Enough had been said in Slash Dot on why this won't work. I strongly feel that Microsoft is beginning to lose.

In spite of the power and ability to crush competition, Microsoft hasn't been able to defeat Quicken in accounting Software domain. Way back in 2000, a Microsoft Money team member admitted that they would never beat Quicken.

What each team in Microsoft has is paronia. That has kept them beating rivals like Netscape. With just a sense of paranoia and no innovation, it is hard to stay ahead. And innovation with out paranoia doesn't help either as we saw with Netscape.

Om Malik’s Broadband Blog » Google Made Opera Browser Free

Om Malik’s Broadband Blog » Google Made Opera Browser Free

Just proves that good products don't have to have a sales team sweat it out for bringing in revenue.

Monday, September 19, 2005

My old blog on processes

Posted over 2 years ago on rediff blogs.

"CMM, ISO and all such process stuff Indian companies claim about are a big illusion. The way I see it is - all these 'so called' standards are thrust upon the naive Indian businessmen by the white man to continue to control the third world.

But the big picture isn't all that bad. Looks like it is pay-back time now. Big American companies pay a fortune to have the 'process' they introduced in the projects executed by Indian companies. The general assumption is process == quality. In some dumb organizations within these companies documentation == process.

So, what does it really mean to have a CMM level x or an ISO certification?
Customer satisfaction? May be.
More business? Very likely.
Real quality? Doubtful.

Quality is not something that process alone can bring in. Before this becomes a commentary on Zen and the Art of .... and before my PM comes and asks for estimates I'll stop now."

I think CMM has lived its life and is time for the next hype.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Gov. Jeb Bush's son arrested in Texas

Gov. Jeb Bush's son arrested in Texas

Some 30 years from now, he is sure to run for Presidency. I hope, he won't be a danger to himself then, but not sure he won't be a danger to others - that's a trait that runs in the family.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Dealing with the Government again ...

I happen to visit Anna University to meet with the HOD of CS Department to discuss a research project that can be of some use to me. The appointment was at 10:30 and I was there at 10:15. I didn't expect her to be ready to meet me earlier. I didn't expect her to be ready to meet me at 10:30 too. So, I was there, the lady at the front desk said that the HOD is out for a viva and won't be back till 11. The options I had were - wait till the HOD returns, leave a note that I was there or just leave the place sulking. I began writing a note and was careful that I did not accuse or pass an unpleasant remark at the sense of punctuality or the indifference of the staff out there. You got to be careful with academician and make sure you don't hurt their ego. Though she can't fail me in my exams, I had nothing to gain in accusing others. So, I was as polite as I possibly can be.

Before handing off the note, I wanted to try other options. I tried to contact my wife who happens to work there. The front desk staff was courteous to make a call to find out where my wife is. She called someone at the third floor and replied me that she's not there. Now it is up to me to walk upto the third floor and find out. It was amazing to find the front desk person so indifferent. But I got to see more. I walked up to the third floor, couldn't find my wife's office. I enquired couple of people who appeared to be her co-workers. Their reply indicated the following - "I don't know, I don't care if you loiter out here till you drop dead".

I meekly returned to the first floor and hoped something useful can happen. It did. My wife was expecting me as she had arranged for the meeting and came down from second floor to check if I got to meet the HOD. She had been in a lab class there. She went to the room where the HOD was attending the presentation and announced my arrival. The HOD came out after a few minutes.

My conversation with the HOD didn't help much. I realized for the hundredth time, that in India, research is research and business is business and the twain shall never meet. Do they ever do a research that was useful to anyone, other than get a Ph.D to someone? As far as I know, in recent times Ashok Jhunjunwala of IIT is the only one who realized that research must be useful to some.

I plan to collect the research topics done in a few Indian universities and IITs and post them someday. Let the country know how useful our intelligentsia are to our country.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Instant message status messges

Some folks of my team at my earlier job have good messages as their IM status message. I will omit the mushy ones and like to quote a few good ones.

"I will give my right hand to be ambidextrous" - Benjamin (not exactly my team member, but the tech dude at the client side)

"Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape." - Anand - poor guy was trying to adjust to a 11 AM -10 PM work schedule.

"Behind every successful man stands a surprised woman." - Naveen - many will be surprised at his success. ;)

Saturday, September 03, 2005

(You'll Never) Tie Me Up, (You'll Never) Tie Me Down by Ram Nagarajan on Sulekha

(You'll Never) Tie Me Up, (You'll Never) Tie Me Down by Ram Nagarajan on Sulekha

In my second job of a contract worker at Bank of America office at Chennai, I had to wear a tie. I wrote to my uncle
"ஆபீஸில் டை கட்டிக்கொள்கிறேன், கை கட்டி வேலையும் செய்கிறேன் (I was a drifter until then.) கால் கட்டுதான் பாக்கி."


He promptly replied in green ink (he was the Head Master of a school)

"கை கட்டு கால் கட்டு என்று என்ன சொல்கிறாய் என்று புரிகிறது. ஆனால் இப்போதைக்கு வாயைக் கட்டு; வயிற்றைக் கட்டு."

America: Welcome to the Third World

America: Welcome to the Third World

The society in countries like India have learnt to cope with disasters as inefficient governments time and again fail to be prepared for calamity or handle a disastrous situations. An individual seems to show more empathy towards his fellow sufferers in India than in US. This is true only during disasters. On a normal day, an Indian is as selfish as a human can be.

Systems were built in US, values were not. Indian governments haven't been successful at building system or values. Thankfully they haven't been successful in breaking the values either.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

More on Bangalore Traffic

Enough statements and jokes are made on Bangalore traffic. On a recent trip, when talking to coworkers at our Bangalore office I came to know that an ex-CM has objected to the subway system that was about to begin construction.

It is obvious that the politician has no clue on whether subways are better than monorails or any other rail option. Like a dog on a haystack, he will not use it nor will he allow others to have it. But who gets benefited with this block? Not the Bangalore companies - the lost productivity on traffic jams hurt them. One obvious group that will be benefited is the automobile industry - including the two wheeler manufacturers. They would use the affluence of people to sell more cars / motor bikes than have the wealthy middle class use a mass transit system. Broadly speaking, the automobile industry can bribe a politician to make more profits and outsource work to Indian companies to reduce cost on software and services. They make money - period. Politician makes money and doesn't care about what happens outside his farm. He's fine too. Software companies make some money on the outsourced jobs, but the margins reduce due to traffic related problems - so they make some money but not to the level of car companies or politicians. IT workers make some money too and he feeds into the system of automobile based economy with his earnings. So, everyone seems to be making some money on a problem. So, why bother with an MRTS.

Speaking of MRTS, the one at Chennai is allowed to perish slowly. The MRTS connects Chennai Beach to Thiruvanmiyur. The service upto Thiruvanmiyur takes about 20 minutes and the frequency is 40 minutes as the train runs on a single track and has no way of turning to other track as construction is not complete. The system boasts of huge stations with escalator, elevators and what not. But not enough attention is paid to maintaining them. Even after 1.5 years of opening, some stations still have construction going on at snail's pace. The stations do not have enough people to clean them; not enough is done on popularizing this faster mode of transport. Left to this state, they (who?) can slowly reduce the frequency of trains and allow the system to die in a course of time.

This has been done at a few places I know of - the train service between Karur and Trichy, to benefit bus operators in the region; the bus service in Pune - to benefit the automobile maker near Pune. I have heard of the design of overhead passes in US cities was done to prevent large vehicles like buses to run on those routes - obviously to benefit the auto industry.

In all the above cases more jobs were created, more money was flowing. People enjoyed the comforts of the alternate mode of transport.

Why am writing this with a complaining note? What is there to complain? Aren't people happy with the whole setup?

Are two hours of wait in traffic worth the money people earn in Bangalore? Is inhaling in the CO saturated atmosphere worth the comfort of a two / three wheeler ride in Pune? Are dangerously fast buses in Trichy better than a planning your day for commuter train schedule?