Monday, May 4, 2009

Auto drivers drive Bangalore...

Namma in Kannada is My in English. It has been 9 months for me in Bangalore and still I'm searching hard for a reason to add 'My' before it. Leave apart the awesome pub culture, the city has nothing much to offer. It comes packed with it's traffic jams, alien language, extremely expensive life style and on the top of that menacing auto drivers, with whom I have special enmity. These species, I don't want to call them human in order to maintain the sanctity of our race, remind me of the Tasmanian Devil from Looney Toons, always hungry and with sub-normal intelligence. They repel logic of all kinds and always take advantage of your situation. Be it 11 PM at night or 6 AM in the morning, you will always find an auto where ever you go, always on a look out for vicitims like us. And once you are betrayed by the BMTC bus, you are at their mercy. No amount of money is unreasonable for them. With the mindset that Bangalore youth like a golden goose, they can ask for above Rs. 250 for a mere 15-20 KM. Compare this with Delhi, an auto driver there would never dream of charging above 150. It's as if their tongue stammers while asking for a big amount. And then Bangalore auto drivers are cushioned by their union. United they stand to rob you off your savings. But looking at the flip side, it's not completely their fault. It's the bangalore youth which has filled them with confidence. People willing to pay any amount, are like a cake with icing on top. Also, they have not adopted CNG which could have really plummeted the fuel costs, like in Delhi.  But I really hope there is a regulatory body which catches these auto drivers red handed and teaches them a lesson. 

Saturday, May 2, 2009

A cool headphone buying tip...

I am not a hardcore music buff but do consider music as a good time pass. So, I decided to buy a headphone to pass time for my office. I didn't have a price range in mind but wanted a decent one. I went to this electronic shop and took a demo of Sennheiser HD 437. First of all the company's name is hard to pronounce. I had never heard of such a company before. But soon I got to know that it is one of the best in professional headphones (courtesy: Google). The demo was something called mind-blowing. I had heard the 5.1 and Bose speakers (low range though) but nothing like this. It was a complete theatre in my head. And hence I couldn't just say no to this headphone, even when it burnt a whole of Rs. 1600 in my pocket. But apart from the awesome headphones I also got a professional tip from the vendor. If bychance any one of you is keen about the technical specs of headphones, just notice the Frequency response. For me it's a cool 21 – 18,000 Hz. And why do I use the word 'cool', because for a good experience a headphone should be able to collect frequencies from a wide range. This would mean every minute sound in a song should come to notice. And not only this, the meaty bass is in the range of 20 to 160 Hz. So if you want a headphone which should shake your world, just make sure it covers this range specially the lower bass range of 20 to 40 Hz. And this is what makes a difference between a local ear phone and a cool head phone. Even normal speakers ignore bass because they are oblivious to such frequencies. But this frequency response is not the only measure of quality. Almost every good headphone covers this range. So, to separate the wheat from the chaff one has to actually listen to the headphones rather than relying on tech specs.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Being a Software Engineer

"I am a software engineer" sounds cool, fills unaware people with awe. But ask a person with zero coding background and you will realize how life has played a cruel joke on him, someone like me. Starting from day one I have been bombarded with terms seemingly innocent in English, but having grave meanings for the computer. And with computer science people sitting around, it becomes a lot more difficult. I see heads nodding in confirmation here and there when the mentor is explaining something. Either one can go against the tide and ask foolish questions or can start nodding one's head in consonance.  An innocuous term like 'interface' took me 1 week to grasp. And after the training when I was given an actual project, I found a huge gap between expectations and talent. The corporate environment requires you to think on your toes, but I have ended up stepping on them. I weep for the future of my company. They think I can fix bugs without introducing more. The happiest moment of my day is when a problem gets fixed. And this has left me pondering that my happiness depends on the functioning of a computer. I have to write instructions in such a manner that it doesn't get offended. Another point added in the eternal debate of  'Science- A boon or a curse'.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Protest...Anyone interested?

There are a few drawbacks of Democracy, besides going in for the trouble of casting votes. One of them is the free willed protests. A few days back, BJP announced a pan-India bandh. I don't know how much successful it was because in my area of Delhi, there was hardly any disturbance. Though the strike was due to a polemic decision in J&K, politicians thought it might be good to spread the protest all over the country. However, if one goes deep inside these protests, one would find that its participants don't have even a whit of knowledge as to why they have assembled. Long way back, I chanced upon a person moving with a crowd which was protesting against the demolition of Ram Setu bridge. Out of curiosity, I asked him the reason. "Bhaiya ye kya ho raha hai". He said, "Kya karein gaon mein bijli nai ata hai, teen teen din tak paani nai aata hai, kuch toh karna padega na." I was really shocked at his reply. The person was not even aware of why he was moving with the crowd in full afternoon. Such kinds of people are mainly like mercenary protestors. They come from small villages, packed in buses, just to visit the city for free and also to enjoy the promised food. We often see people waving their hands in front of a TV camera or making a 'V for victory' symbol. Many of them are indifferent towards the cause and just add on to show the strength of the protest. I feel incensed when such demonstrations occur just to achieve petty interests of few. So, next time if you catch upon such procession, just take a moment and ask one of the participants the reason, you will either fall off laughing or feel really instigated upon such foolishness.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Taming the English...

'Everyone took their hats from the table.' Notice any anomaly? Well, at start, I didn't. The correct sentence should have been 'Everyone took his or her hat from the table.' I felt robbed when some my beloved seemingly correct sentences were taken away from me, by a grammar book which I've started reading lately. I've developed an obsession for correct Standard English. For once, it sounds cool and also it's difficult to develop. And one of my life fundas dictates that many things are worth doing simply because they are hard. Being a non-native speaker of English makes this task a lot more difficult and interesting. It's interesting, as you get new revelations at every step. 'The tree was tall.' Here 'tall' isn't an object but a complement. An American or British would unknowingly make grammatically correct sentences. The same logic applies to us when it comes to Hindi. However, writing and speaking have a lot of difference. In writing, the construction and function of sentences is considered important. While in speaking, conveying your message is more important, no matter how you convey it. 'You and me should go on a date.' sounds correct and states the amorous intentions of the speaker. But when it comes to writing, it should have been 'You and I should go on a date.' It's really funny when one realizes that we have been studying English right from 1st standard to 12th. No other subject has this much consistency. But still we (at least I) don't have command over Standard English grammar. However, I'll try and redeem myself from this curse before I start my career.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Network Neighborhood

Have you been a victim of incommensurate returns? You worked so hard for something but the other person got the pie? Well, all most everybody has experienced these kinds of situations. Giving your hundred percent into something doesn't always guarantee success. There is something which acts as a seasoning to all your efforts. That's networking. We have witnessed networking in some form or the other in our lives. Right from the start, in order to get admission easily in a school, if you have good contacts you can cut all the sycophancies and monetary incentives given at every step and give your kid the right start he/she wanted. Passing school one faces admission in a college. Well, if you have talent and achieved good grades, there's no stopping you. But for the unlucky ones, it's networking which saves their day. Even good colleges have a special quota for backdoor entry. Then for the softer part of your life, you want a date, hops in your friend's sister's friend's cousin's long-time-no-see friend which can fill in the void. Finding a mate on your own might be a daunting task, but again if you're endowed with beauty it might be a different story. After completing the college, one steps into the corporate world. It's in the corporate world where you really see networking in its full form. Be it entry level job or job-hopping, if you have right people placed in the right companies, your ship will steer through the storms safely to the shore. How can he who didn't even have the knowledge end up at such a good place? Networking is the answer. Normally it's talent coupled with good networks which form the backbone of your career. In our day to day lives even small contacts give great returns. Watchmen, vendors, drivers can provide you with good incentives if you have good relations with them. But how does one develop such web of network? Obviously, it's a give and take relationship. If you want help from someone you must help him first. Make deposits in their emotional banks (Stephen Covey). Joining community websites like orkut can be of real help. Reaching out to old friends also can provide good opportunities. May be your old buddy has become a VP of some firm.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Indian Institute of Child Prodigies (IICP)

As one passes a major education institute, like school or college, one tries to think, "What have I learnt?" In school, we learn about the basics which help us develop our cognitive abilities and also try to explore our aptitude. We decide in our school, whether to take up a science or a college stream, a decision, predominantly based on our peers, but also reflecting our interest to some extent. We get into a college and ostensibly specialize in a particular field. After graduation, we get a job and it is then when we expect our knowledge to be put to test. But, alas! We are given training for 6-12 months pertaining to the field of the company. This makes one introspect, that whatever learnt in the college was of some use or not? Application is a lot different than theory. In real life situations, quick decisions are based more on logic and common sense than some complex derivations from existing theories. For instance, if I'm a fresh Civil engineer posted on a site and a problem comes up, I would be expected to give a quick remedy rather than grab a calculator and Indian Standard codes and churn out numbers. So, what role does college plays in our life? Is it again a continuation of building our aptitude and cognition? What differentiates an elite college from the rest? Being from IIT, I've noticed that though we are endowed with huge funds from the government, the facilities are not utilized to the full potential by the undergraduates. The only differentiating factor is the quality of students entering into the college. Students mostly leverage upon the brand image. IITs have become the hub of the smartest kids in the country, ones who can grasp anything quickly. This is what the USP of IIT is. The kind of companies visiting the campus reflects the expectations the corporate world has from IITs. Investment banks and consultancies take the cream out of the campus, which should otherwise have been engineers. Students end up being financial analysts, which is nowhere near the curriculum taught in the college. So, what is the meaning of demarcating engineering into different fields, when a mechanical engineer and a computer engineer end up in the same job? It is the aptitude that has the market value. Salary is directly proportional to the level of brain involved in the job. Current trend suggests that students would be better off learning to crack puzzles and teasers rather than learning engineering as these are mainly the questions asked in an interview. One could argue that IITs give a lot of options to its students and it is left solely on the student to take up whatever job he/she wishes, either an engineer, analyst, consultant. However, the current market values street smartness rather than knowledge in case of an undergraduate. A separate institute of the super intelligent, Indian Institute of Child Prodigies (IICP), would be more apt for the current job scenario, wherein students are given challenging mathematic problems and puzzles throughout the curriculum.