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

Monday, October 30, 2006

Internal Blogs

Recently got to know that my previous employer is now making it compulsory for employees to contribute to the company's internal blogs. I believe its probably a great decision..ask why? here are few good things blogs can do

-> I really believe blogs are really a great way to keep in touch with people with similar passion/interests across the organization.

-> When you see videos like that of Anders Hejlsberg, Distinguished Engineer, Microsoft(as part of "Behind the Code" series hosted by Barbara Fox on there channel 9), you get to know the kind of influence, people and company can have on others. So Blogs when used properly are great tools to influence others.

->They are great tools which can act as voice of employees. Great ideas or people pissed off with company strategy/policy blogs can speak on behalf of employees

->You are a Oracle guru, then blogs can be great tools for sharing that knowledge with others. They can help in Knowledge management and brainstorming.

->Blogging is probably one of the best way to ask help

->Blogs can be great tools for project management. Here is a good article on the same subject

-> Blogs are better than E-Mail when it comes to initiating discussions on decisions that need to be taken. Say your manager has come up with a new operating model for the team, Initially putting this up on a blog makes more sense than communicating it through email because
- Blogs are more "engaging" while emails tend to just "transmit
- Anyone can comment(even anonymously) and its there for all to see and respond.
- Blog posts can be tagged to appropriate context, which makes it much more easy to archive or search.

These being just a few instances where internal blogs can contribute in positive way, there are many more Avenues of Opportunity that blogs can open, so in light of this, its really a welcome decision.


Check this Scoble post. Interesting point, he makes.

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Sunday, October 22, 2006

Deepavali Wishes

May this festival of light add more fun, peace, sparkle, fortune and success to your lives.
Wishing you all a Happy, Joyous and safe Deepavali .

(image source)

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Ray Ozzie on Open architecture and interoperability

Recently Business standard had published a E-Mail interview with Ray Ozzie, the chief architect of Microsoft, who was on a "learning trip" to India. You can find the article here.

I always believed that Ray Ozzie was one of the best thing to happen to Microsoft. He is one person who understands the importance of products that encourage collaboration and networking rather than the ones which are "PC centric"(like most of Microsoft products). So with him at helm of things at Microsoft, at least one can hope and expect the much needed change in attitude. Since the time he has taken over the position of chief architect, you get to hear things which you generally do not associate with Microsoft. You get to hear more of "Open architecture" and more of "interoperability" these days. In his own words

I'm spending a significant amount of time ensuring that our products' architectures are open, interoperable and secure by design.

Also the emphasis is clear when he says..

We're embracing this change at Microsoft, shifting toward a 'services mindset' across the company. In the past year, we've launched some 20 new Windows Live services, including a very significant update to and our Windows Live Search service

sounds too good to be true isn't it? But the ground reality is still a stark contrast. Even while chief architect speaks of open architecture and interoperability, you can see Microsoft continue to wield its monopolistic iron grip to press "closed code and standard" to its users and throttle competition. You do not know what to make of this statement from Ozzie

when any company's products become successful and pervasive enough that other companies' operations depend upon them, open interoperability becomes paramount

when you know that Microsoft in there latest operating system Vista
- Is strangling third party application developers(read Symantec/McAfee) by not releasing the APIs for OS.
- Killing the hardware market by introducing ridiculous security policies(OS License is invalidated after a single upgrade)

The only way you can make sense out of Ozzie's statement and the ground reality is to redefine "Open architecture" and "interoperability" in case of Microsoft.

I was delighted to see Ray indicating shift towards 'services mindset'. If somebody were to ask me who is one of our most dreaded competitor, I would say its not the Junipers, the Huaweis' or the alcatels, but its Microsoft. They have a very healthy balance sheet, cash reserves and monopoly that they can use to severely retard the progress of people adopting "IP centric" approach(say google spreadsheets instead of excel)for their day-to-day computing needs. Ideally Steve Balmer would want all the apps that user will ever need to be provided on a Windows based PC, but such a trend would not go down well with us, as we get paid only if a IP packet moves over the network i.e. when people collaborate and share over the network. So, in light of this, Ozzie's statement sounds quite exciting.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

IBM Server ad..

This is a good one from IBM ..


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

de-stress at Wild valley farm

Only through first hand experience can you really appreciate the benign effect of a concoction of clear sky, un-polluted air, a visual extravaganza of colors that’s created when a kaleidoscope of green shades merge with the vibgyor colors of the sunshine, a cappella by swaying green vegetation closing with a melodious cadenza of a distant bird chirping, breeze, cool and fast hissing a orchestra around you before whooshing away.

We happen to have a healthy dose of this concoction over the last week end, around 200KMs away from Bangalore at a place called Wild valley farm a.k.a. Daniel Farm. Left to negotiate and cope with perpetual chaos of Bangalore traffic, pollution and ubiquitous network of gadgets, day in and day out, I experienced a new definition for solitude in this wild valley, solitude from nerve-wracking symphony of horns amidst regular traffic jams. solitude from the "tech smog". solitude from blaring television. I loved every second of it.

After two last minute drop-outs, five of us, Shankar aka Shanky, Satish, Chimpoo aka Chetan :), Yogesh and myself started at around 7am on Sunday. We traveled along the Mysore road, passed Ramnagar and stopped by at MTR Shivalli for a sumptuous breakfast. I must admit, Khara Bath was really awesome. After breakfast we started for Shimsa falls.

Shivansamudra falls, it’s truly a magnificent sight to see river Shimsha, a tributary of the Cauvery, split up and make twin jumps as Gaganachukki and Bharachukki. After watching the falls to eye's content, had a photo session with the group, ate amla served with mixture of red chilli powder and salt and then started for Danny's farm.

We traveled the same route specified on the website, Shivanasamudra falls, Kollegal, lokanhalli, Odeyarpalya and then cross over to Tamil Nadu and then through Germalam to our final destination.

Daniel farm, its a lush green forest covered area spanning around 100 acres. It gets its name from Mr.Daniel who owns this farm. You really get the feel of the magnitude of 100 acres of wilderness, when you hear to Daniel saying that in close to 25 years of his stay there he has not been able to "visit" all the parts of land he owns. He has now converted close to 12 acres of that land for cultivation of vegetables, spices, maize and coffee. A small piece of flat grass covered land hosts our camps. He has setup few tents overlooking a flat land, in the middle of which there is a provision for camp fire. There is a neat kitchen/dining room around 50 meters from tents where they serve breakfast/lunch and dinner. Toilets are well maintained. There is a room for playing carom. Nets have been setup to play badminton and Volley ball.

So after five hours of nearly back-breaking journey, where Shanky behind the steering wheel was trying his best to maximize the time our car tyres are in contact with anything resembling tar on the road, otherwise most of the time it was gravel, stones, potholes or mud we were traveling on. After reaching the farm, a glass of chilled lemonade was really a welcome idea. We gulped it all. We were shown our tents and we relaxed for some time after which it was lunch time. We had a sumptuous meal. Food was great. Then we relaxed for some more time before embarking upon a 2.5 hrs trek through the forest.

The "batch" that had trekked the same route in the morning was lucky enough to be chased by a wild elephant. Shucks!! We had no such good luck. We had to be content with watching buffaloes and Oxen from neighboring town grazing. We then took a stroll of the town and happen to visit a old monument that looked like a temple...only later did Ramu, our guide, tell us that it was not a temple but grave of Gowda(head) of the town. Also he remarked that the Gowda's son looked exactly similar to happiness knew no bounds. I started to dream about all those old Hindi movies where the hero was son of Surpanch who owns zillions of acres of irrigated land and was flirting around with all those gorgeous gaon ki gori(s). But this time there was a small twist, the hero who does all these macho stuff was me. As all other good things in life, my dreams did not last long. Tiredness took over and put a full stop to my dreams. I was transported back from tinsel town to stark reality. We continue to walk for some more time and reached our camp site.

Soon Night started to fall. For the first time I saw a color that matched the theoretical definition of black(its really difficult to see pitch darkness in Blore these days). Slowly moon emerged. lying on bed of green grass with a blanket of twinkling stars basking in soft white light of 3/4th moon floating above, slightly cold wind whistling around you, trust me you wont ask for heaven. Soon we had campfire burning bright. Relishing the warmth from burning wood, we chatted for long time. Later had really tasty dinner and slept. Slept like a log.

Next morning we got up early and played Volleyball, Badminton and enjoyed running around a Frisbee. Later got refreshed with a cold water bath, had breakfast, settled all our bills and started towards Bangalore. On the way to Bangalore we visited the Dhondenling Tibetan settelment in Oderyarpalya. We visited the Dzogchen Monastery. The richness of colors and design on the monastery wall paintings or the artistic richness that you get to see in the carpets hung to the monastery walls will simply amaze you. I wanted to visit his Holiness the Dalai Lama's palace and the carpet weaving center, but due to lack of time we could not make it. Probably next time.

We reached Bangalore safe and sound in the evening. All in all it was a long weekend spent well. Looking forward for more adventure and many more discoveries.

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