Prashant's Weblog
Random Brain "Droppings" of yet another software engineer

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Visit to Tirumala

||Sriyahkkanthaya kalyana nidhaye nidhayerthinam

Sri venkata nivasaya Srinivasaya Mangalam||

(Salutations to You, Srinivasa. You reside in Thiruvenkata, all prosperity, auspiciousness, reside in You. Your darsana is a festivity and you grant desires)

Visited Tirumala, abode of lord Balaji, Kalahasti and lots of temples in Tirupati this weekend(Thu-Sat). Will post the details in a later post, to tired to write now.

(thanks to Ganesh for the image and this site for sloka)


Yesterday On May 1, I along with a college friend went on a 400KM drive, we started off from Bangalore then to Sangama and other parts of Srirangapatanam, then we touched mysore and then took a deviation towards Shivansamudra and went to Shimsha falls and then back to Bangalore. All this in one day...... wow what a driving experience. Will write more on this action packed day someother time.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

my blog Vs. Popular blog

Guy Kawasaki has this interesting post on how to evangelize a blog. He gives 10 points that will help separate your blog from the heap and help your blog to get short marketing of your blog. So here we go, let me see how much does my blog comply with the marketing mantra;

- Think “book” not “diary.”
Shucks! I get a non compliance for the very first point. Not that my blog is a "diary", its actually neither a book not diary.So what it is? well will post once I figure it out. I generally rant on what comes to my mind first when I log into blogspot, anyways shall move on.

- Answer the little man
hmm..."It's tough to market crap" says it all.

- Collect email addresses
10,000 email announcements of the blog!! gosh that's 10,000 emails more than what I have sent :). Ok point taken.

- Collect links for blog rolling
yeah this I have done and have to say there are some kick-ass blogs on my roll. These guys are awesome.

- Scoop stuff
Bottom line: if you want lots of people to link to you, read voraciously and find cool stuff first I guess I need to do more of reading, I am nowhere close to being "voracious" reader

- Supplement other bloggers with a followup entries
this is a good point

- Acknowledge and respond to commenter
N/A :)

- Make it easy to join up
This makes lot of sense

so this blog fairs miserably in the Guy Kawasaki's characteristics-of-popular-blog test and I guess its time for amends, yeah its time for HPWGWB(how prashant will get to write better)

Neural Interface - Next generation UI

Slashdot has run a article on two start-up companies that are developing a Neural interface to games. In layman terms, it will make possible to control a video game using your thoughts and not some physical device like keyboard or a joystick.

I say this is really cool stuff. With this technology, think of possibilities, running a pilot-less reconnaissance aircraft in a enemy territory sitting in safety of your command center. A medical surgery being performed by someone thousands of miles away for the patient by controlling the robotic arm by thought over the internet and the list continues.... Cool huh?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Miss you guys :(

I am not sure why, but today I am missing all my friends from my previous work place. Hey guys missing you all so much and I feel like a vehicle whose fuel gauge shows like this

Damn, I am good at creating similes huh?

Friday, April 21, 2006

How big a nerd are you?

When you are jobless and have access to internet day-in and day-out, this is what you do, take up a Nerd test

I am nerdier than 83% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Riya rocks..

Its not very uncommon that at the very first interaction with a application, you are instantly in love with it and immediately know that this is something that you have been looking for. I had the same experience with Riya.

Riya is a photo search engine unlike any other in the image search domain today. While your normal serach engines search for the text and show the images associated with the text, Riya actually looks into the photo and search for people and text inside photo. imagine this, you have few thousands of digital images of your recent vacation to Hawaii and now you are looking for that one "Kodak moment", where in you and your girlfriend have been snapped in front of a hoarding which said "Welcome to Hawaii". While your normal image search engines would be a dud, Riya actually looks in to all your images and will hunt down the image that has the text "Welcome to Hawaii". Awesome isn't it! Search is not limited to text in the image, I can search for people. Say I want all photographs with my sister in it. Riya make this search possible.

You ask how does it work..well it does based on principle of contextual recognition. Its a geek term for concept of recognising a object based on the clues from the context in which the object is present. Say I upload a photo to Riya and tutor Riya saying that the face in the photograph is Prashant, now say I upload one more photo of mine taken couple of mins later where in I have my face tilted sideways. Now Riya is intelligent enough to read "contextual" clues like time stamp of the photo, colour of my shirt, skin, hair etc and automatically tag(read it as recognise) the person in the second photo as Prashant.

Now you may ask, given a photo the success rate of Riya correctly tagging a person in the photo depends on what clues does Riya look for and what is the weight it associates for each of these clues..yep that's absolutely right and to get this combination right, close to 10 PhD(your read the number correctly) geeks, who are said to be pioneers in the field of facial recognition are working with Riya. As per Munjal Shah, CEO and founder of Riya, If you give Riya 100 photos and sufficient training then Riya can tag the person correctly in close to 70 photos. That's really awesome.

The applications of this kind of image search technology is mind boggling. Imagine a mechanical component designer drawing a rough sketch of a component and submitting it to Riya like search engine which will crawl all through the engineering drawing repository and gets the component design, thus saving redesign hours. Thinks of the applications in the field of medicine and other allied fields. I would just say the possibilities are limitless.

All in all Riya is a great concept. I am eagerly looking forward to see some fantastic applications from this team. If you have not registered at Riya, all I will say is you are missing something good.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Xooglers - Bye Bye Ron

One of the most refreshing blog in blogosphere was that of Xooglers. Bunch of Ex-Google employees writing rants about there experience in Google.

One of the feature that kept this blog separated from the heap was there eloquent style of expression and their clever and witty references.If you get to work with some of the best technology brains/evangelists that too in a environment where working on great ideas and technology is a hobby(read it as google), then you will have lot to rant about and world is always ready to hear that out, this rant is what Xooglers is all about.

From now Xoogler bunch(Ron, Greg, Doug) will be short by one(Ron). Ron has made the tough decision of not contributing to this blog any more(Thanks to few dolts on the net), what ever the reason,its sad to see Ron go. I have really enjoyed most of his posts. The bubbliness and energy he puts in to explain something as trivial as technology is amazing.

So Ron all the very best. You will surely be missed on the Xooglers, hope to keep in touch through your personal blog.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Port25 - Opensource software lab@Microsoft

This came a surprise to me when I read about it...really a big surprise. I was not aware of this. Microsoft and Opensource lab!! sounds like a perfect example of a oxymoron huh? but this is true, not only Microsoft has an impressive setup to study the interoperability of MS products with opensource they have also started to publish lot of stuff they do. One can catch them here.

By what they have announced, its quite impressive. Throw in close to 300 servers running any and every Linux and Unix distro you can imagine and some really smart people under one roof then nobody is surprised if they come up with kick-ass solution to few issues that exist in running open source programs on Windows environment. That's what they have set out do, provide interoperability between Microsoft products and Open source products, benchmark Microsoft products against their corresponding Open source counterparts.

I think this is a laudable effort, if this lab is able to suggest ways to iron out kinks that exist between MS and Opensource, it will be a win-win situation to the customer, who will have a broader choice and can focus more on the business issue rather than worrying about technology integration. Also the benchmarking of Microsoft products against Opensource will be one step further to better MS products.

So I will be all ears and all eyes and will keep tab on what these guys will come up with next.

Contradictions - way of life

Recently one of the biggest consultancy firms based out in Bangalore posted an ad asking for "Expert" PL/SQL developers to join them.

So during course of preparation for technical round of interview, I realised that I dont have a PL/SQL book, brilliant. So had to rush to the nearest book stall to find a book that will do a miracle of transforming a "PL/SQL retard" (that's me) to an Expert(that's what I need to be) overnight. After careful assessment of various author's subject matter expertise(hahahaha), there delivery style, I picked the book "Teach Yourself PL/SQL in 21 days"(hmm...I can see my negative cash flow position(sugar coated and sophisticated word for financially broke) contributing largely to this decision..ok I admit this was the cheapest book available on the shelf) to partner me in my quest.

After I come back home, while I was surfing the net. I got to read the gist of the research paper "Expert Performance - Its Structure and Acquisition" by K. Anders Ericsson and Neil Charness. It says

It takes about ten years to develop expertise in any of a wide variety of areas

I respond to ad which is looking for Experts, I purchase the book Learn PL/SQL in 21 days and then happen to read about research that prophesies that it needs 10 years to develop expertise.

Well all I could think of at that point in time was, such is life, life is full of contradictions.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Bangalore weds into Metroblogging Network

After Mumbai and Chennai, Bangalore will be the 45th city to join the Metroblogging network and this is what Sean Bonner,one of the founder of Metroblogging network has to say and I quote;

Bangalore is home to over 6 million people, one of the largest media markets in India, and as of today, is also home to the 45th Metroblogging city. It's our third Indian blog, joining Chennai and Mumbai both which launched earlier this year. Bangalore is often called the Silicon Valley of India and we're excited to add them to our family of global blogs.

hey this is really cool stuff...considering the fact that Metroblogging has been voted as one of the "best on the web" by Forbes and its also one among the other kick ass sites listed in the Technorati's "Popular blogs" list.

So spread the word, let the world awaken to the rich potpourri of colourful social habits, rich cultural heritage, astounding spiritual discoveries and mind boggling varieties of lip smacking cuisine of this little, wonderful land called BANGALORE. Happy metro blogging.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Job hunt - Continued..

Its been 12 days since I retired(read it as quit the job) and I am loving every moment I am spending at home.. no SQL, PL/SQL performance tuning issues, just me, family, my comp and my rocks :)

I have been polishing/rubbing/shining a antique brass lamp at my place hoping that a genie would appear and I would ask him him/her(effect of Care for girl child ad) to freeze this moment till the end of time. So the brass lamp is shining , mom is delighted, dad -"Doing household work builds character"(Pitru-upadesa(fathers sermons), Chapter 4, verse 7) and gives a pat on my back. Mom is happy, dad is happy and Everyone else is happy,but where is the freaking genie? ah! may be I was expecting too much.

Swallowing the red pill, I came in grips with the grim reality, 2 weeks and no job in hand, this was scary and did not have a ounce of resemblance with the fairy tale world I was living in. So it was time for action, serious action. After my resume was done I had to list down all the things that I should look for in my new job. So drew a Pareto chart(ah! how sophisticated) and picked the top 3, So here we go with the first draft;

1) It should have lots of on site travel opportunities : One thing I cribbed the most in my previous organisation was regarding on site travel opportunities. Being a MNC in India, it was a cost center and PM pinched ever penny possible out of the project plan. This implied travel opportunities were virtually non-existent. My dream in life is to see the world before assuming the Q Position(for the ignorant - its dying with tongue hanging out)

2) It should offer decent pay package : well common I need not comment on this

3) It should offer me some challenging work : How many times it happens that you know exactly what line of code you are going to modify Wednesday of next week at 11:33 am or you suddenly realise that it was in office where you made the highest score in "the fly swatting" flash game. Generally life becomes predictable, I hope the environment at my next job is such that no two days are the same.

It was soon very clear that life is not so easy that it will serve on a silver platter, jobs with all three qualities probably my next step would be to prepare the "compromise list".So here we go again..

1) Lots of travel - bad pay - no challenging work
2) Not much travel - good pay - no challenging work
3) Not much travel - bad pay - challenging work
4) Lots of travel - Good pay - no challenging work
5) Lots of travel - bad pay - challenging work
6) Not much travel - Good pay - challenging work
7) Lots of travel - Good pay - challenging work
8) Not much travel - bad pay - no challenging work

Prashant, epitome for optimism, but what if there is no job at all. Shut up willya. Touchwood :)

Ok let me prioritise these ;

1) Lots of travel - Good pay - challenging work
2) Lots of travel - Good pay - no challenging work
3) Not much travel - Good pay - challenging work
4) Lots of travel - bad pay - challenging work

here are the companies which are hiring people with the skills I have;

Dell, Infosys, Wipro, TCS, ITC Solutions, Cisco, Evident Software, PTC, Covansys, I-Flex, Capgimini etc.

Now that the list is ready, next step would be to classify all the companies which are hiring the skills I have into above mentioned categories.

After doing it( hey wait a sec, what do you mean by after doing it? where is the list. hmm well categorization process as you know involves pain staking research and I don't not wish to reveal it free of cost. Holy crap!!! na...was just kidding..I am just too afraid that people who believe that there company is in the wrong category can hire supari killers and try exterminating me. Oh! you have already hired one. Gosh! what a superfluous expenditure, trust me its not worth it)

So once decision regarding the companies which you are going to target is made its easy from now on..Just apply and pray :)


I had an interview with Evident Software recenty. This is kind of startup in Blore. Have lots of intresting stuff to say. Will do so in the next post.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Purana Jeans - awakening to the concept of good health

Research at Princeton says and I quote

they(overweight and obese) have about two-thirds and one-half the odds of dating as healthy weight boys,respectively.

Putting it in layman terms, If there is only one hot chick available for a date and if you are suffering from either "Beached whale syndrome"(someone who is unable to do much for himself except lie there with flailing arms and legs) or "Dunlop Syndrome" (belly button lapped over the waistband) or "Michelin's Disorder"(multiple spare tyres), research prophesies dismal probability numbers of you winning that date. So if you wish not to suffer from Acute Prozac Deficiency(a.k.a. depression), its better to assume that she does not exist.

grim stats are those huh!! Until you have bulging biceps, slitted rectus abdominis muscle pack world can be unrelenting and unforgiving when it comes to getting a date :(

But as the saying goes every dark cloud has a silver lining, I had mine. I by an ounce of sheer luck, happen to try my old jeans pant and good news is IT FITS. One of the happiest moments in my life. If I had taken a snap of myself at that moment I am sure it would be the Kodak Picture of the day for the next one year :)

so the 2KM walk brisk walk, 7 days a week(almost) has started to show results. Probably a progression to this would be to start jogging and then swimming and then.....

Hopefully the Purana Jeans episode will rouse the fitness freak in me and drive the point that Health is something worth spending time on and yes hope I achieve the thing that triggered all these events i.e. win a date. Amen.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Job Hunt begins

So after the cliffhanger regarding my resignation was resolved, I had a very interesting question for myself. What next? Well I had no answer for that. I had absolutely no clue about my next job as I did not have any. So as usual I pressed the panic button.

The first thing on my to-do list was to get myself a decent resume. It was 2 years since I last spelt the word resume, so the previous resume was in a very bad shape. Probably one key take away from this experience is that


(OH! I can see the halo. Earthly soul attains enlightenment).

So after lots of copying, borrowing and stealing reusing material from other resume and websites, the mission was successfully accomplished. So after demonstrating the hard-to-master skill of coupling reuse strategy with years of coding best practices experience (ctrl-c/ctrl-v), I successfully "assembled" my resume. I was surprised to see that within no time I have copied/pasted/aligned 7 pages of matter, yep surprised because I never knew I had worked so much as to fill in 7 pages.

Now the next task was for a peer review of my resume. Thanks to the information super highway, within no time made sure that my resume is floating in most of my friend’s inbox. So within minutes feedback started to trickle in, based on the feedback it was clear that things were not quite right with the resume. Few of the things I goofed up in my resume were;

1) Length of resume. The first comment from a friend was "CEO's have one page resume". Well mine had 7. I realized it the hard way that having 7 pages in ur resume does not mean you are 7 times more competent, but it implies you are 7 times in competent. So had to put my resume on a diet and after some prodding and nudging was able to slim it down to 4 pages. Ran out of patience to continue further.
2) Use Verb phrases rather than bombastic language. I had used lots of "empty words" in my resume like Hard-working, Ambitious, and Innovative etc. Though these sound great they fail to make any impression at all, as both employer and employee know that these are false most of the time. Instead I put in verb phrases like "Completed a job that requires 3 days in 1 day" for Hard working. "Using so-an-so method in Oracle was able to efficiently query hierarchical data" for Innovative etc.
3) Alignment of data. I had randomly arranged data in my resume. But people really don’t have time to scroll through pages of your resume to get the relevant data. So as a rule of thumb, a person looking at the first page of resume on a 14 inch monitor should be able to see details like Name, address, contact details, your objective, your key skills, total relevant experience and the name of the current employer without scrolling.
4) No history. Keep project descriptions short. I had put in lot of details regarding project. People really don’t have time for this. So aim of the project, the action points you have worked on, technologies you have worked on, team size and duration should be more that enough.

So made all the necessary corrections and said to myself, Hello World, here I come. My resume was ready to go.

Reminiscence - my last few days with previous employer

Its been a week since I quit my job with a MNC here in Bangalore. Looking back now, I really do not regret my decision considering the fact that I did(still don't) not have a "backup" job so to say.

Things were becoming "difficult" at workplace. I was not enjoying the work and hence could feel that I am not contributing my 100%.There were couple of other reasons also. So the best one way out, before my relation with my organisation go sour was to make this tough decision of parting away and so I did :(. So was I right in severing off the relations? well I am not very sure, may be I will dedicate a separate blog entry for that discussion.

So between the time I put down my papers and the day I was relieved of my duty, I happen to experience a kaleidoscope of emotions ranging from sadness, frustration to some ext ream happiness.

Just after I resigned, I had series of follow up meetings with my manager. It was clear that my decision did not go down very well with him. On one end he was doing his bit to change my mind and at the other end I adamantly sticking to my decision.So after couple of meeting, it was clear to both of us that abiding by my decision was probably the best way out. Then came the change, my manager stopped talking to me, not a word exchanged after those meetings. It was as though because of some bug in law of Physics there was a sort of vacuum created between me and him, making the communication impossible. I am still not able to decipher as to what was the root cause for this sudden change, but this led to a brief period of extremely frustrating period. I had absolutely no idea where things were heading. There was absolutely no communication regarding my relieving dates. So when times are frustrating creative side of you goes flowing, had some time, so doctored "The Clash" lyrics which neatly sums up my frustration

Sudipta* you gotta let me know
Should I stay or should I go?
If you say that my salary(take home not ctc) will be half of yours
I'll be here till the end of time
So you got to let know
Should I stay or should I go?

Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?

Always its off shore work and no on site
One year is fine, next is black
So if you cant sent me off our shore
Well come on and let me know

Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?

This indecision's bugging me
If you can't send me, set me free
Exactly how long I'm supposed to be here
Come on and let me know
Should I cool it or should I blow?

Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?

* Names have be altered

So things chugged on like this for couple of weeks. Then things started to happen. My relieving dates were announced and the whole process went on very smooth. So on March 24, 2006 exactly 2 years after I joined(march 24, 2004)I quit.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Formula 1 and Kannda Wikipedia

Formula 1

Accidents, Mechanical failures, Transmission and electrical failures, one last min engine blow out and safety care out 4 times on the what a eventful race

Kannada Wikipedia

On Sunday I was at the Kannada wikipedia awareness program which was held at Nayana Auditorium, Kannada Bhavan, Bangalore. It was organised by Hari Prasad Nadig and his gang. They actually got Dr U R Anantamurti to deliver the key note. Kick ass! Also got to hear Prof G Venkatasubbaiah & Nagesh Hegde.Then we had sessions aimed at non-geeks like how to enable Unicode character set on your XP( at one point of discussion we had a audience question asking if this process of enabling Unicode support works on a pirated version of windows :) ) and various flavours of Linux, a session on what Wikipedia is all about and lastly a "how-to" session on how we can contribute to wikipedia.

Basic stuff I would say, but what makes this event standout is, probably this is the first of kind, that I can think of, where in an attempt is being made to create awareness about the use of free online encylopedia to help preserve, promote Kannada language.

All-in-all, great work guys. I would say this is a great first step. I hope people will "pick up the gauntlet" so to say and contribute generously to the encylopedia, thus doing there bit to save this wonderful language.