...what matters now?...

0
Something to read during the holiday period - What Matters Now

Blog on Break

2
It is evident from the date of my last post that this blog has been on a break. It's not due to lack of content for sure, I have more drafts than ever. There is no lack of time either. The problem is converting those drafts into something publishable. I am in midst of lot of uncertainties that are taking up most of my mind share. There are too many open threads without any actionable items on them. I am depending on some future dates or people to bring them to a logical conclusion. After grappling unnecessarily with them for quite some time now, I have taken a back seat. I once jokingly said in one of my project meetings - "Time takes care of more number of issues than rest of us" owing to the fact that a lot of issues got closed because they just became irrelevant after being left open for long times. I think I am relying on time to see my open items through.

I was in two minds about publishing or not publishing stuff. I realized that polishing those drafts felt a lot like work which clearly meant I was not enjoying the process. So I decided to just let it be and not try too hard.

Uber 'cool' is here

0
Just when I mentioned Facebook to be one of the tools for flaunting coolness, Himesh lent it extraordinary credibility by using it in his latest film "Radio". Now, in my list when it came to coolness Himesh could have only beaten Keshto Mukherjee. But surprise surprise, here he is, geared up with all the borrowed tools of coolness.

- First things first: He is on facebook in his movie
- He describes his relationship status as "its complicated"
- The film even talks about f** buddies, a term alien to most of us Indians till we started exporting our software and importing few of these concepts here
- He has named his heroine Shanaya which sounds like a real earnest attempt at coolness.
- Commitment phobia? I don't know if it existed so much in India, or may be it did but was never named. Let's face it we are not great at naming stuff. Go west, you have cuddle buddies, f* buddies, play mates for your kids, your locker room buddies etc. Everything that can be, is named.

Anyway, my labeling of Himesh's movie as an attempt at coolness may be premature and wrong. May be his movie might prove everything I wrote about to be relevant to the script or some such thing which basically rubbishes my opinion. But I won't worry about it now and will take my words back when that happens, till then keep facebooking.

Lost

3
Too much of cricket this year caused me to stay away from the first four matches of "The honour series". But matches like this keep pulling me back. Another ethereal knock by Sachin and India was sniffing the victory. I wish Jadeja had taken a few deep breaths after Sachin was gone. Unable to stand the pressure, he was almost rushing to get out and be gone from the field.

Australia's bench strength is getting stress tested and yet they manage to outperform.

A disappointing loss but a great match.

Move fast, break stuff

1
This theme keeps coming back in some form or the other every now then.

the default for most organizations is "managing to avoid blame". Their implicit motto is
"Reward success and inaction, punish failure", which ends up making inaction the most appealing course. "Move fast and break stuff" encourages a different mentality, "Reward success and failure, punish inaction".

Its a choice between punishing or promoting CYA behavior

Here is the full article

Average Movie, Awesome Phrase

0
Came across an average movie (of course my pov) titled "Butterfly on a Wheel" that is based on the phrase - 'Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel'

Assholes @ Work

0
There is a book written by someone called "The No asshole rule". I am not going to bother googling and finding out the author or putting a nice link to the book on amazon or wikipedia. I am being lazy. If anything, the title of the post should give you the idea that this isn't going to be a nicely written post, rather an impulsive entry. I don't know of the definition that this guy used for his assholes, I have my own and somehow I am getting a feeling that the two may not be that far off.

I am tempted to write this post because today I faced the challenge (once again) of not falling in the vicious circle of assholeness. The assholes will always play their game, and the only way to counter them is by being one of them. You have to become an asshole to beat another one if you are not exceptionally stronger in which case asshole would be sucking up to you and the question wouldn't arise. Well, so coming to the play part. That indeed is their play. To beat them, be one of them and in the end if you beat them by being an asshole, you become a part of that asshole cartel. Whoever wins or loses, the cartel gains. Also, as a newly transformed asshole, you will start learning the alphabets and the other experienced assholes will hold an advantage, until you become better than them. At this point, you would probably have become a bane on civilization, not visibly so, but I can assure you that the world would undoubtedly be a better place without you.

Now, at some point or other we all behave like assholes, but are we conscious of it when we do. If we are, that's half the battle won and trying to avoid being an asshole is as far as most of us can go. What happens usually is, once fallen into this asshole trap, there is no looking back. The pit is slimy, keeps you from getting out.

The only way out of asshole-dom is to get rid of assholes. If you can't, run away from them.

This post is scheduled to be published at a random date in future. So, this doesn't reflect my current (the date of this post) state of mind. However, I am very sure I will always stand by this. I am in the thick of things, posting it now would give the asshole away to the folks who know me. But I want to get this rant out nevertheless.

Goldman ceo's interview with NY times

2
Appeared a month back - shows why he is where he is

Link to the interview

Is Orkut Downmarket?

3
Some random google searches helped me conclude that Orkut is still the number one social networking site (4th overall) in India but as suspected facebook is catching up fast. Not in the least is it helped by the fact that most of the western countries prefer facebook.

Similar to what Amit described here, I have independently observed that orkut indeed is considered sidey (that's not my personal view though). People guess based on the personality where would a person be on social networking scene. Comments like "Oh him, he must be on orkut" followed by a laughter are the ones that I have chanced upon more than once in last one week. 'Still stuck to' orkut (just orkut) is definitely not seen as cool.

Internet speed test

4
This is what I get out of my 2MBPS reliance connection :(
You can test yours @ http://airtel.impatientones.com/myspeed_standalone.html


9/11 - The Quiz that never happened

2
This is strangely how I have my memories of 9/11. I was reluctantly trying to prepare for a quiz on "Design of Steel Structures II". It was the time after my placement was over and I was living a life of no worries. Anyone who has stayed in an IIT hostel would vouch for the fact that it is almost impossible to study in the evenings unless you are living a life of total isolation. Noises came about planes crashing in building in NY and all news channels going berserk. I kinda ignored it for a while, and continued droning on DSS 2. The time was around 7 PM or so, a little before our dinner starts. I took a mental note of going to the TV room which was next to our mess before having my dinner. Others were faster in catching the significance of this happenstance and the noises grew. Having found a valid excuse to not study for my quiz, I came out . It all happened in a hurry then, we all rushed to the TV room which was by now packed to its full strength.

When we came back to review what has just happened, our biggest worry was centered around the quiz and how we should try and get it postponed. And our willing professor complied and canceled the quiz next day since we could not study due to all the things happening around.

Few months later, when I would have least expected, this event gave more wind (or rather pulled out more steam off) to the dot-com bubble burst. I almost lost the job that I never actually started. As weird as this may sound, but I think this one event did a lot to improve everyone's understanding of the world outside their own country. For a lot of first world countries, the largest continent on the planet came into being for the first time.

Beyond the immediate impact of killing 3000 people, the after effects of the incident has since been seen in our minds. Racial tensions got a whole new life. The world got a new metaphor to describe extreme disasters meted out by terrorists. Somethings that used to be just alien now became scary.

Since then, I have been to ground zero twice and found a gaping hole staring, the full import of which cannot be felt watching it on TV. Much like the small holes that most of the folks related or even unrelated to the incident carry in their hearts that gets translated into random acts of hatred every now and then.

vòng tròn

3

Re: What have I been doing..

1
Well finally "Iss Jungle Se Mujhe Bachao" is over and I got some spare time at hand. After years of watching unorganized television, a series of reality shows got me hooked back and at the same time I rediscovered my love for American sitcoms. All said and done, last couple of months seem like a blur now. As a result there is tons of stuff on my todo list including some fresh rants to be blogged about. All in due time.

Long but very interesting read on Delhi's rich

0
http://www.granta.com/Magazine/107/Capital-Gains/1

What have I been doing..

4
off late while I am not watching tv is voting to keep Negar Khan in the reality show "Iss Jungle Se Mujhe Bachao". Its been since school that I have followed programs so seriously on tv. Don't get me wrong, I watch more tv than an average housewife, but it is mostly random. Not so this time. So much so that, it has eaten into my reading, blogging and a few other things I do.

So, what is it that has got me hooked up. The answer comes every day at 1130 PM on Sony TV when an uncut version of the show is aired which invariably opens with a sequence of bikni clad Negar Khan taking a bath. Negar Khan with her surgically enhanced lips is given special clothes to match up to her personality. While everyone got a normal T-shirt, hers ends a couple of blocks above her shorts leaving behind a large chunk of real estate uncovered.

What else is interesting in this show is the return of Palak (a roadie) who would have put to shame the rudest guy I have ever met with her gallis. The return isn't without its own twist where Palak instead of saying "Tune apni bahan *** hai" is doing "haan ji" like Shweta Tiwari's character in most of her serials. (She, btw, is another participant in the show). It seems she got some makeover done for her looks as well as her English. Few months back where majority of her dialogs were heard as *beeps*, she is now very comfortable using "so sweet" and "love you" thrice in every sentence. Not to mention her new found Lakhnavi accent ("Hum apne ghar walo ko bahut miss kar rahe hain").

Equally surprising is the fact that the rest of the gang members seem to have fallen for her innocence or at least pretend as such. In something akin to poetic justice, her theatrics got the better of her. Her crying etc for gaining sympathy turned into a nightmare when she was chosen to be one of the two people fighting for survival (and she lost). Apparently everyone felt she was missing her home way too much and is too young to handle this rough journey. Good for her.

I would have talked about two other popular shows, Rakhi... and Sach.. but not doing it, since the former has lost all its fizz and I haven't tried watching the latter.

Anyway, now that I am done with my token post, I am getting back to work. Gotta go to personally kill everyone who is not voting for Negar.

Evolution

2

FAQ!

1
Here is a slide from a presentation given by DHH ("Hacker of the year 2005") in a Ruby on Rails conference.


"I’m not in this world to create Rails for you. I’m in this world to create Rails for me and if you happen to like that version of Rails that I’m creating for me, than you are going to have a great time."

Look at the 'subtle' choice of words to get his message across.

Cursing is like dark arts- you have to mean it to make it effective.

I have always been of two minds when it came to profanities in my blogs and professional interactions. So far I have stayed away from it (almost). There are, however, too many advocates of swearing in my circle with their fair dose of workplace rants or casual remarks in colored language. I agree to this in part, because sometimes the best responses in a lot of situations sound something like ".. because you are fucking insane/unethical/stupid/anyOtherWord".

I had once thought of a matrix for creating profanities, put a relation in one axis and some body parts on the other one. You will get a nice mXn matrix of random abuses. Apart from this one there are some other categories, few of them are:

Equating to Animals: You used them when you didn't know any better.

Character assassination:
  • Realistic ones - kamina, nikamma, nalayak, saala etc
  • Character assassination: Most of the standard ones (*c variety) come under this category
  • Character assassination (Sentences) -This was when the above kind of abuses became way too common to have any effect at all. People graduated to sentences thus allowing them much more creative freedom and you know what, when someone creates a sentence based one, (s)he means it. So, there you go.
After this long piece, here is what I actually wanted to say; I will experiment a bit with some strong un-parliamentary language here and there in my future posts. Let's see how it goes.

Signs

3
Saw the following two telling signs on Bangalore roads:

A tempo driver wearing a tee with label "michael schumacher" and a driver's gate on a bus carrying "Pilot".

The Broken Fourth Wall

0
It's been centuries since the concept of Fourth wall has been in existence. At home, you would see a Kader Khan talking to camera in his millions of comedies or a child Mithun in Muqaddar telling the camera - "meri ma hai lekin baap ka pata nahi, main harami hoon".

A little further, Marvel comics has a character who knows he is a comic book character! Most recently he was seen in X-Men Origins: Wolverine

I could never appreciate the fourth wall and subsequently its breaking until I saw it in action. It was one of those moments when I witnessed something remarkable unexpectedly, kind of an aha moment. I was part of an exercise where a play was staged, and then paused to get audience reactions. To my surprise the reactions from audience were met with reactions from the characters without them coming out of their characters. It was not a defense of non committal parties. They were vehement or mild defending their actions as those characters would have, but defended they all. The experience amazed me, the simplicity and effectiveness of the medium. Not to say, the message they were trying to drive came home easy and was thoroughly entertaining. To put it mildly, it was f***ing awesome.

When F7 is not enough

2
when a missed letter, or typing the next letter on the keyboard can get you in trouble.

Count
Duck (in more ways than one!)
list
Public
boon

I am sure there are many more, but these are the ones I have come across at one point or the other. It is never a good idea to type looking at only the keyboard.

IIT Kharagpur: A tale of two news reports

0
Came across these two news stories on the same day:

IIT student hangs in hostel
IIT Kharagpur tops the list of best Engineering Colleges

Dhoni: A leader or a manager?

1
A leader creates a way when there is none, while managers help navigate a defined path.

Dhoni has already catapulted to the league of the best captains India ever had. In a short career span of less than five years, he has seen fame and glory which can fall short to may be just Sachin Tendulkar. He is considered one of the coolest persons on the field and is counted as one of the best playing captains in world.

There were few times when he went wrong with the media. Extremely frank in his opinions, he is one among the minority in Sub continent players who can speak well (not commentary material but not an Inzy either). He is the man among boys and nobody has (had) any questions about it until recently.

The signs of crack started showing in IPL 2, when he lost his cool and some run out and stumping chances. His batting is no longer what he came in the team with. From a prolific boundary hitter, he became a nudger, a lot many times struggling to get a run a ball. His team went on to do well in IPL 2, but it was largely despite him and not because of him.

World cup started on a completely wrong foot, losing the first warm up match and Times of India making a big deal of something about Sehwag's injury. I still fail to see what the big deal was about (ok, I am dumb). While writing of this post, India is already out of contention in wc 2009 and are struggling in their third super eight game against South Africa with Dhoni and Yuvraj on crease.

And see, this is what happens in T20. not even a minute passed since I wrote my last line and Dhoni attempted an impossible run, Yuvraj was not even looking at the runner's end. Dhoni was duly sent back to the crease first and then to the pavilion. This was pure stupidity or nerve may be.

Back to the point of the post. T20 2009 saw India's early demise and all the fingers are being pointed at Dhoni's captaincy. With a team that is strongest on the paper is still relying on a couple of people to bail them out in every game. Dhoni is not even a shadow of his former self as a batsman. He is jumping, crawling, swinging but reaching nowhere. His lack of confidence showed when in all the chases all he seemed to try was rotate strike and expect the other players to do the heavy hitting. His captaincy has left enough gaping holes and he is being blasted from all the directions.

Is Dhoni really a great leader who transformed a bunch of misaligned players to put up a formidable line up that even Sachin Tendulkar feels is the best ever he has seen. Putting that completely on Dhoni would be gross injustice to the older captains especially Ganguly who actually nurtured a lot of players who are the key stars in the current line up.

Has Dhoni gotten far too much credit for the recent successes where he was leading team to victory just because he got a good team who could win matches without much needed from the captain. Has it been the case of a good manager, with a pretty strong team where all he needs to do was juggle them around. Taking this a bit further, is this the case of a 'wily' manager who actually removed all the uncomfortable elements (read Seniors) one by one so that he can reign supreme. While playing under other captains (Kumble) his performance seemed to dip considerably while it picked back up pretty well soon after he got the captaincy.

A lot of people in my generation would hate Dhoni for actively trying to drive seniors (trio) out of the team. I think they were on their way out anyway but he gave that slight nudge to initiate the fall. Of course, we still have Sachin playing because no one can drop him from team in India and expect to breathe easy next morning. However, this is a thing of past and he now has a new set of challenges to tackle. This is the first time since he took over as the captain when he is under pressure to perform as a player and as a captain. How well he comes out of it will define what he becomes in long run, a flash in the pan or a legend.

(India needs 25 off 10 now with 3 wickets in hand)

Re: Its ashes for now, can he do a Phoenix

0
After his Australian open loss this year to Nadal (yet again), I wrote a piece about Federer and the ghosts of Nadal in his mind.

While Federer was climbing the stairs of glory, French open remained an anomaly in his otherwise perfect script. Losses to Nadal in the French weren't probably as biting to begin with. But the sting kept getting nastier with every loss. Initially Federer could dismiss it as just the surface. But then came the Wimbledon scare where he narrowly defended his title (07) and Nadal seemed that much closer to usurp all the he had. French open final of 2008 was extremely humiliating, but that still was Nadal's turf. Soon after, an epic loss in Wimbledon 2008 would have started ringing the death knell. It was a proclamation by Nadal, do what you can in the best way you can, I will still kick your ass. An Australian open defeat which saw him break down, choked on the podium, prompted me to write the piece I mentioned earlier.

All these losses one after the other cemented a belief our rather disbelief in Federer. Shades of that disbelief keep coming back to haunt him. The final set in Australian open 09 saw it. It seemed as if Nadal became his Kryptonite.

The ghost of Nadal is still out in open, but having conquered one of the ghosts (French open), that will be one less albatross while playing. I think this would bring a lot of self belief back. Not sure, enough to beat Nadal convincingly though. Here is what I think can be the ideal script for him. Have Wimbledon (preferably against a lesser player) and then face Nadal in US open final and crush him like he could in the days of yore.

However, Nadal's form is far from over. I always thought Federer has great strength of mind, but I got to concede Nadal might have greater. The way he got back to Federer after every loss is much better than what Federer could manage after his.

As I have always said, these are the folks I watch tennis for despite being in a cricket crazy nation and spent a sum total of 30 minutes on tennis court in my life.

WC T20 2009: Aussies out!

0
Trust Ponting to come out with a statement calling T20 to be a game of luck. After complete demolition by Gayle, Sri Lankans pushed them off the cliff in a balanced match. Aussies have lost last five of their T20 games. I guess all they were lacking in this side were two retired players and an undisciplined moron to see them through.

Timezone Puzzle

2
Working in a global environment for many (not putting a number is intentional ;) years now, I would expect myself to be an expert in timezones. But sadly, that has never been the case. At times, the differences are not clear. Sometimes when the differences are clear, like in case of NY (9.5 now), the math is just too tough to do again and again. After downloading timezone converters, using websites etc, here is the 'tool' that I found most useful.

Line to the excel

PS1: I did use outlook for some time showing two zones, but doesn't help beyond that.
PS2: The AM/PM thing is a little mixed up (can change in your sheet if you want to), but works just fine for me.

Re: IPL 2.0 - No one can beat Knight Riders

0
(May 16 - DC bt KKR)

This time luck played its bit as well. 21 runs were needed of the last over and here is what you get.

5nb 1lb 1 6 1wd 2 4 6

The biggest over in IPL so far conceding 26 runs. The first no ball due to some obscure rule about the number of fielders being in circle or something. Truly unfortunate for McCullum.

Another look at the points table and you see the four teams with icon players (Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid, Yuvraj) perched in the bottom half.

IPL 2.0 - Bye Bye Mumbai

0
(May 16 - Chennai bt Mumbai)

And yet another disappointing performance by the most supported team in IPL. It was heartbreaking to see them lose the last match in a photo finish, devastating to see them out of contention after a comprehensive loss today.

Food Art

0
Photograph was done by me, not the art work.

IPL 2.0 - Men in Blue beat the Boys in Red

0
(May 12 - MI vs KXIP - MI won)
comfortably and that brings them back to #4. The batting order changes that seemed long overdue worked finally. There were some minor changes earlier which didn't really work, but I guess MI finally learned their lesson in handling the concentration risk. Sanath walking back right after Sachin got out or vice versa a couple of times was a real pretty sight for the opponents and a blatant signal towards the issue.

IPL 2.0 - No one can beat Knight Riders

1
(May 12 - KKR vs RCB - KKR lost, obviously)
when it comes to losing. A very healthy total of 173 and in an extremely strong condition after 15 overs, they went on to lose yet another match. I gotta hand it over to them, when it comes to losing, no one can beat them

IPL 2.0 - Aur Bolo

0
(Match: Chennai vs Kings XI - 7th May 2009)

The following picture can probably summarize the match between Chennai and Kings XI Punjab so far. It was raining and then it was raining sixes. After being at 80 from 10 overs, next 8 overs saw 105 runs scored. Dhoni coming good once more scoring his fifty at a little over 2 runs per ball. Hayden brought back the question of his retirement once again continuing his purple (or should it be called orange) patch.

The match is in progress and rain can still be a factor, so not writing anyone off now, but every passing moment can make it difficult for Punjab to come out better in this tie. Already lost their first wicket in the second ball of the innings they looked shaky but Katich (33 off 12 balls) is just making sure that they are not written off. Let's see how it goes on from here.


The Argumentative Indian

0
There are possibly different classifications of arguments in a debate, I am not searching on Internet to find them out. Some examples could be personal attacks, negation but no assertion (i.e. just disproving other's point of view rather than proposing something yourself). I thought, may be we can have some radical names for these classifications.

To start the list, my recent favorite is "Test Match argument" (can be alternatively called Dravid argument). You argue so much (all of it pointless) that the opponent wears out and gives in.

Add yours if you have any!

The greyscale

1
I have always held the opinion that people in private sector are on an average more honest than people in public sector. People in any kind of job are more honest than people in politics. I am not so sure any more. It seems to boil down to opportunity.

To put the question more bluntly, would you steal when no one is looking. How hard would you play when no one is watching. How hard would you work when you know you wont't get the credit(but the project will get boost). Even worse someone else will take the credit. Would you take credit for something someone else did.

And when I apply this, I guess most of the people I have come across in my work life would go for an unfavorable response on these questions. A lot of them seemingly nice and hard working. They probably have worked out an acceptability threshold to corruption/immoral behavior and politicians would be justified when they say (they will never) that they just pushed it.

The Dark Knight, one of my all time favorite movie has an excellent premise. The villain isn't out to get money. He is out to prove his theory - "When the chips are down, these civilized people will eat each other". I, kind of agree to his theory. You will see the masks falling at the slightest chance of trouble/possibility of gain and everyone almost feels justified in doing that. The movie however, ends on a positive note, because in the face of death, people decide to do the right thing. And Batman, figures out that the greater good lies in sacrificing himself, does so. But that was in the movie, right.

Here are two questions that I will leave you with:
- If the only way forward for your team/project is by sacrificing yourself, would you do it?
- If the only way you can make your presence felt is by letting things fail, would you do it?

Karma, Wall Street and Bonuses

0
It would be highly unlikely to find a person who hasn't commented on the topic of fat bonus of wall street employees as the cause of financial meltdown. In spite of all the excess coverage, if there is someone who missed it, here are a few thoughts of my own, mostly repackaged from others much like the repackaged CDOs.

Starting with the simple mathematical explanation. Consider your bonus is 10% of the profit you make, but you don't get penalized for losses. If you can make a profit of $100 across two years, here are two scenarios.

1. You make a profit of $50 each year earning a bonus of $10 for two years.
2. You make a profit of 1000$ in year 1 (bonus=$100) and net a loss of 900 in year 2 (bonus=0). You end up with a net bonus of $100.

So, in short there is no incentive for creating long term wealth. This was one reason so many of investment banks that prided their ability to help companies go public were wary of becoming corporations initially. As partnerships, they were assured of loyalty from the top executives, unlike public company model where a major component of earnings is non-returnable hard cash.

The second, more philosophical explanation is of morality [my favorite topic :)]. Increasingly, the whole world is working towards an optimization of everything. Some of the cliches that I think create a wrong framework for growth are:

  • Don't fight your perception; perception is reality - then why not work on just that. Just put up an excellent show.
  • People remember your peaks/troughs - much like the wisden greatest cricketer of all time rating, consistency be damned.
  • Your success depends a lot more on who you know than what you do - there you go.
Mind it, none of these are made up, they are real. And in places where success/performance isn't measurable so easily (thankfully IT industry in most of the cases will not be part of this), they have the potential to rot the whole culture.

So many of these supposedly career building mantras become fundamentally disconnected with your real contribution. I would have been happy only if they were combined with advice about improving the contribution and ways towards it. Isn't the most popular competency an MBA can offer to a recruiter is - I will be whatever you want me to be, if it is immoral, so be it.

The world rant week

0
Well, I meant my world. You will understand what I mean in my next few posts.

IPL 2.0 - DD bites the dust

0
"No score too big with Yusuf"

Rajasthan Royals (vs Delhi Daredevils - Match 1) were not looking very strong through the chase until Pathan started his blitzkrieg. Another cool win for Rajasthan Royals. They must be happy that Smith could finally dig in his heels and stay there throughout the innings. He seemed a bit frsutrated at the end may be because Pathan was hitting so well. But I still think he needn't be. He did well, welcome back to form (hopefully).

Talk to any Royals player and half of their answers are filled with what Shane Warne told them to do and how it helped them perform. He must be doing something right to command that kind of respect. Other teams should take a cue from him. As brutally honest as he is always, he was pretty harsh on his top order when they lost the last game.

Coming to Pathan's secular hitting. He showed no respect for reputation, taking out Mendis in Super over in the previous match and then today all the bowlers. He is soon turning himself into the man of the tournament, again I guess I am speaking too soon, but then what do I got to lose :)

Off for today, tomorrow we will see the two of the laggards (Royal Challengers and KKR) battling it out to regain some pride and get back into the tournament.

IPL 2.0 - MI Back on Top

0
Its heart warming to see Tendulkar and Jayasuriya knock out the (freakishly) talented Mendis giving him a thrashing he isn't used to. Tendulkar must have felt vindicated after the disappointing Test Series against Sri Lanka where Mendis domesticated an already tamed Tendulkar.

Well, enjoyed watching the match since this is the side I am supporting to go all the way. Support stems from the fact there is a certain 36 years and 3 days old player who has spent two decades (spanning across three) in international cricket is captaining the side.

Few nice things that came out of today's match
- Tendulkar got his highest score in IPL
- Zaheer got his first wicket in the tournament
- Bhajji is showing signs of maturity, spending his energy where he should be (hitting those 2 consecutive sixes)
- Malinga getting the purple cap

Lessons to be learned for the teams:
- MI needs to get someone to fire in the middle order. JP Duminy is looking lukewarm at best and Nayar is still untested. That one knock might as well be a flash in the pan. However, Nayar doing his bit with the ball makes him a 'useful' player.
- Shahrukh Khan needs to understand that he is a big part (if not whole) of the problem he is trying to solve.
- McCullum needs to sort his act out. Is this the time for Dada to make his way back given he is known for his dramatic comebacks like no other!

Aside: I follow online scores on rediff since I could never get through cricinfo. Today after I followed the scores on cricinfo, I realised why it is so popular. The ball by ball commentary is just excellent.

IPL 2.0 Encore

0
Is Rajasthan on its way (27/4) to beats its lowest score (58) or have I spoken too soon; will be happy to eat my words if that turns out to be the case.

IPL 2.0 - What a match!

0
The first match between Rajasthan and Kolkata was clearly the match of the tournament so far. There were so many nail biting moments that Ganguly would have chewed his fingers out had he not been busy creating those moments.

It was a battle between an extremely centralized team to a team experimenting with decentralization (multiple captain theory). Shane Warne solidly forms the core of an otherwise ordinary Rajasthan team. He has redefined the art of captaincy almost changing the game from physical to cerebral. Who could have imagined a team to lose from 8 needed from 8 balls with enough wickets in hand in a T20 tie where one of the players in the middle is among the top five run scorers in one day internationals.

Ganguly brought KKR very well back in the game where one ball from Munaf costing 13 runs (no ball and a free hit - both sixes) . Second last ball wicket of Ganguly left KKR to score 2 of the last ball. A superb save by Warne which reduced a potential triple to a single left the scores tied.

Super over had its share of many exciting moments. Shane Warne's find Kamran taking the over giving 15 runs, a really defend-able one over target. Pathan from Royals made an easy work of it by scoring 18 of the first four balls giving them, if not a historical, definitely a memorable win.

IPL 2.0 - Dust is settling

1
As the days are progressing, things are getting clearer.

Well I thought I will continue providing my commentaries on the proceedings. See, when Arun Lal can do it, why can't I.

Who is Arun Lal?
A friend of mine asked what makes Arun Lal qualified to speak about the games. To which another friend of mine replied, he is the guy who comes out of the local train in "mile sur mera tumhara" song. Now that was some shocking piece of information even though I know who he is. All these days I have been thinking that the local train scene was meant to have just the crowds and commoners and not great Arun Lal. To know that it was him, was as shocking as the revelation of Santa Clause not being real is for the foreign kids (and may be a few Indian kids). Well, for those interested to know, Arun Lal played 16 tests and 13 ODIs averaging 26 and 9 respectively (for India, of course).

Takeaways
Kings can win only in a high scoring match and Royal Challengers in a slow scoring one. RCB is riding (~barely floating) on the batting of an unlikely hero, who has been doing exceptionally well something that he is not supposed to be good at. Although today they scored a very healthy 160 and soon I might get proved wrong in which case I will gracefully eat my own words. There is nothing wrong in it, thats what Arun Lal did when he commented before Mumbai/Chennai match that Tendulkar hasn't read the conditions well.

Also, as a side note, I think Laxman should start calling himself Re-laxman and may be Gilchrist should really let him rest for a while.

Weather/Duckworth-Lewis method
Statistics is not just what you create while playing, it decides your results now. KXIP being the favorite victim so far.Thanks to SA weather, you can see a poster of the following graph in all the dug-outs. Of course, Sehwag could never understand it.

The definition of a match is redefined as well. If you can have 5 overs per team, it will be considered a match. Appalling!

I have internalized IPL so much that I am even using a strategy break between writing my blog. If you don't believe the Arun Lal memorabilia was the result of one such break.

Today's match between Deccan chargers and RCB brought out a few things:

  • Dravid moves to the top of the table of leading run getters after scoring a smashing 48 off 27 balls
  • He also scored 2 sixes in his knock which is two more than the total number of sixes in his career (ok, this is not correct, just a hyperbole)
  • Today's match saw Praveen Kumar laughing for the first time in his life. It took a throw from Uthappa directly hitting him on his head, temporarily making him forget that he is Praveen Kumar and not supposed to laugh (or even smile)
  • Robin Uthappa who I thought used to be in Indian squad primarily because of his communication skills is showing a lot of sincerity. Playing the wicket keeper and really trying to give his best with bat. I really hope he does well now.
That's it for now, stay tuned

IPL 2.0 starts with upsets

2
but I am not upset.

The first two games of IPL 2.0 saw the two finalists losing their respective matches. Chennai lost in a close match, but Rajasthan got devastated. And look at the major contributors to the victory. For Royal challengers, Dravid scored 66 of 48 balls (highest score and highest strike rate barring Vinay kumar who score 8 of 2 balls), only other score in double digits was 32 by Pietersen. Kumble scalped 5 in 3 overs conceding just 6 runs. Talk about test bowler, he sure made the batsmen play like a test match in his short spell.

To top it all, Rajasthan made the lowest score ever in IPL.

In the first encounter, Tendulkar led from the front scoring an unbeaten 59 of 49 balls. So, surprisingly, in this young men's game the top performers were all on the wrong side of 35. Dravid in the presentation ceremony uncharacteristically mentioned (I think thrice) that to succeed in these pitches you need to play 'good cricketing shots' and that will be an advantage for players like him. A touch of arrogance perhaps, coming from where least expected, but I am not complaining.

If initial signs are anything to go by, this season may not be as high scoring as its last version and will be more testing for inexperienced Indian players who are not used to overseas conditions.

This is, however, very early to draw conclusions and definitely too soon to write obituaries (remember last year Rajasthan had a similar disastrous start), but the action has begun. Keep watching.

Graphjam Timepass

1
This is what you do when you are generally pissed off. No, I am not talking of creating graphs, that you do when you just have some time to kill. I meant posting that crap on blog. Here you go, make some of your own, its fun






PS: As usual, this is a fun post and is not intended to be a reflection on my past, present or future employer and not to forget employers from my past births.

Colors

1
I thought it would be fitting to write a post about colors after a week from holi, but well this isn't about holi colors.

Colors is the most promising channel as cited by some popularity stats. In less than one year it has become a threat to stalwarts like star and zee. It took a series of regressive saas bahu sagas to take star to new heights. Not surprisingly, it is even more regressive saga of child marriage that is helping colors. What's wrong with us?

I also felt pretty pissed off after watching their new (or may be not so new) series called Utran. Every episode is punctuated after every 5 minutes by a sad tune where a poor girl is made to feel the pinch of her poverty. I doubt if any poor kid would self pity himself or herself as much as she does. I think most, if not all of them would have made their peace to not complain or think about it every 5 minutes. Its good to show efforts of getting out of poverty, but they could have spared the unnecessary self pity.

They have a talent hunt competition for stand up comedian kids who perform well beyond their ages in every sense of the word. To top it all, one of the judges is a wife beater and drug addict. Some role model, way to go colors!

Java's dad in Hyderabad

1
http://blogs.sun.com/jag/entry/at_techdays_in_hyderabad

Punk and Pink

0
Someone who nobody had heard of a fortnight back now has a wiki page dedicated to him created few days after the Mangalore incident (some soldiers who Lord Ram wouldn't have had in his sena came out and beat some girls for whatever they were doing). For him, the battle is already won, everything else beyond this would just be bonus. On top of that he might just make a lot of money selling all the underpants he is getting for free.

So who stands to gain in this. I guess everyone starting with certain Mr PM, folks from pink chaddi and off late may be folks from pink condom

I am really unhappy that I am adding another blog to the list of blogs mentioning this guy. Anyway, here is the most interesting post I read on this topic.

Its ashes for now, can he do a Phoenix

1
This may be one quote that Federer would regret making. Not that not making it would have changed things.

"He (Nadal) is a fantastic player and is going to be around for so much longer so I am happy with every one I get now before he takes them all." -- After Wimbledon 2007

The Australian open loss this Sunday acted like the last straw that broke the camel's back. He just wasn't prepared for a defeat, like so many of us. He was waiting to make history, like so many of us. But his perfect script like his perfect rhythm was spoiled brutally and disappointed him deeply and broke him, like so many of us.

Now, this may be too early to right obituaries, I will be the last person to do that. Consider this - Federer has reached a male record 19 consecutive Grand Slam singles semifinals and reached the finals of the last 4 grand slams. By any standards, this is exemplary performance, but the fact that it is being moaned tells you that he isn't (never is) judged by any normal standards.

Only after the loss of Sunday did I realize how big he had become. Even if he stops playing right now, he will probably end up with more records than anyone else in the history. I can't even imagine what would have happened, had Nadal not been around in this era. To get an idea sample some of these quotes:

By Him

It's just unreal, I'm shocked myself. I've played good matches here, but never really almost destroyed somebody.

It's a match for him to forget and for me to remember.
After defeating Andy Roddick in the Australian Open 2007 semi-final

On him

For me, in my prime, I felt unbeatable. In Roger's days, he's unbeatable. It's really hard to put one guy over the other. Having said that, I think Roger is dominating the game much more than I ever did. I think he's going to go on and pass 14 and win 16, 17, 18 majors. I think he's going to break all records.
Pete Sampras, before playing his third exhibition match with Roger Federer, Macau, China, Nov. 23, 2007.

He can beat half the guys with his eyes closed!
John McEnroe, BBC Wimbledon 2006 live broadcast

If he is playing very good, I have to play unbelievable. If not, it’s impossible, especially if he’s playing with good confidence. When he’s 100 percent, he’s playing in another league. It’s impossible to stop him. I fight. I fight. I fight. Nothing to say. Just congratulate him.
Rafael Nadal, after losing to Federer in the Shanghai Masters Cup semifinal, Nov.

And fight he did and look what he has done to someone who was (almost) invincible if there is any such thing. The ghosts of Nadal in Federer's mind are/have taking/taken concrete shapes. A win this Sunday could have taken care of them, but alas that wasn't to be. It pushed the knife even further and I wonder how hard it would be for him now to come back up and vanquish the one who has beaten him time and again.

Leaving you with some more quotes here and the following two pictures:


Re: Combination Generator

1
Related to my post on Combination Generator, I received some email requests for some other variations. While answering one such request for generating nCr combinations, I did some search. As expected Perl did not disappoint me and I got to know of the awesome perl module for Combinatorics. To give an idea of how simple it is to use, here is the code for nCr generation.

use Math::Combinatorics;
my @n = qw(1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14);
my $combinat = Math::Combinatorics->new(count => 8, => [@n],);
while(my @combo = $combinat->next_combination){
print join(' ', @combo)."\n";
}
output:

Barkha Dutt and NDTV in action

4
Found a lot of noise about withdrawal of an emotional post by a blogger who wasn't happy with the way NDTV and more specifically Barkha Dutt covered the Mumbai terrorist attack. Here is the withdrawal link.

http://ckunte.com/archives/withdrawal

I read a cached copy of the post and completely agree with what he wrote. While watching the coverage when it all happened I wasn't happy with her reporting either. Here is what I had to say at that time. Hysteria and dissatisfaction form the core of everything I have seen her doing including her program "We the people" which I can't stand any more after watching it once. The topic was about stopping prostitution where Kiran Bedi and Barkha Dutt were trying to tell a prostitute that she was forced into it even though she felt otherwise. She seemed quite happy with the way things shaped up in her life.

Leaving this aside, there isn't much I have to add to what people are already writing on blogs, but I guess I will do my bit by adding another post in the already long list of posts opposing her.

As a parting note, interestingly this is what wiki has to say about her:

According to a study by Newswatch, a media watchdog based in Delhi, Barkha Dutt was the worst anchor in terms of sensationalizing the Mumbai Terror Strikes.[13] Perhaps most disastrously, during the Mumbai terrorist attacks of November 2008, Barkha Dutt shared and telecast critical information live on television regarding

  • the location of civilians hiding in hotels (thus potentially endangering their lives),
  • the then ATS chief Hemant Karkare's safety preparation (showed him wearing a helmet and a bullet-proof vest in excruciating detail live on television: the officer succumbed to bullets in the neck),
  • the exact number and location of commandos defending the hostage locations at the Taj and the Oberoi hotels (information easily available to the terrorists via television or sat phone),
  • contacting the head of Oberoi to release sensitive information regarding the current hostage situation in the hotel which drastically contradicted the sanitised information released by Indian security agencies in order to keep the rescue operation uncompromised,
  • she further went on to say that even though the govt said that there will be no negotiations with the terrorists, her diplomatic sources – she named the diplomat – said that negotiations are underway.
  • It has been reported by a survivor(Lynne Shaw) that this information was used by terrorists in Oberoi to get to some of the hostages. There are also reports that this information may have let terrorists to the next steps by the armed forces.

Scalable Professions

1
I am currently reading "The Black Swan" and it mentioned the concept of "Scalable profession" in passing. A scalable profession is one where your rewards are not directly proportional to the effort you put. Most of the creative professions like creating music, writing books will fall in this category. Some examples of non scalable professions are manual labor, doctors etc. A little caveat - A scalable profession sounds like a great idea but only if you are good at it

I think all of us have realized the existence of scalable and non scalable professions but I never tried and categorize it that way. Before I started writing this blog I did a search on "black swan scalable profession" and got this blog which explains the exact same concept and a little more. So, no more on this topic, why rewrite when you can reuse!

Ghajini for a Software Engineer

1
Came across this really funny poster


Spam Art

2
When you have too many holidays in a month, not really slogging your butt off at work, getting enough sleep on a daily basis, things take unexpected turns. And just in one such situation a friend of mine and I started killing time by looking at the spams. After all the talks of size does or doesn't matter, spam proves that its only the size that matters and there are people on a mission intent on making the whole world go huge. Here are some of the gems from the creative studs generating the subject lines of those emails.

Turn the worm in your pants into a python
Get the largest instrument in town
Drop your pants and stun her with this
If the nature wasn't generous to you, we are
Turn your grass snake into a python

Python seems to be the flavor of the season :-)

PS: Just by writing about the tension free, comfortable life in the first few lines, I think I have jinxed my next few months.

Mahabharata

0
Some time back I was having a discussion with a friend of mine who is into epics and scriptures. We discussed Mahabharata only to conclude that it wasn't a tale of good vs evil. Rather it was a tale of tact vs tact forming a foundation of politics henceforth. The winner takes it all and gives it a favorable twist for future generations to follow. However, Mahabharata, has very many interpretations, some of them unfavorable to Pandavas who were the winners and survivors at the end.

It is one of the most fascinating tales of all times. It scores over a lot of other epics because of the richness and complexity of characterization which lends itself to infinite interpretations. There are some Mahabharatas floating around in the blogging world also.

A wicked look at Mahabharata which is defined as a tale with plenty of sex and violence. Too bad this blogger did not take it to its conclusion.

Here is another perspective, from the eyes of Bhima by veteran blogger Prem Panicker. Enjoy!

Ghajini

2
There is no doubt about the movie being a super-hit owing to the box office collections it has garnered in a week. The movie has mostly received an above average rating from critics, but found a few very negative reviews on blogosphere, some of them from famous bloggers. The movie is receiving flak for the fact that it's a copy of a copy (tamil Ghajini which is 'inspired' by Memento), a second level copy.

Now I haven't seen Memento, so I don't really have much to comment on the extremely intelligent or complex plot it had. Nor could I appreciate how Ghajini in Hindi failed as opposed to the one in Tamil. So, my reaction to the movie is without any baggage or benchmark.

Overall as a potboiler, it delivered to its promise. I would be surprised if someone really thought it was going to be an accurate documentary on anterograde amnesia.

There are stupid moments (Air Voice's executive team saluting their MD on road) and some over the top scenes (like the "60 by 40 me chaddi wale poster" scene). The villain might have looked stupid and might be flawed in his plots or reactions. There are flying bodies, endured-without-a-flinch rod hits and much more unbelievable stuff. However, even before I entered the hall I wasn't expecting it to be a logically and technically accurate realistic movie. If you needed to watch the movie to realize this, you certainly wouldn't have understood the complex plot Memento had created (again this is on the basis of claims by people, no first hand experience on Memento).

The movie is meant to be a hyperbole in violence and you don't try and find logic and technical accuracy in the trajectory of bodies flying around. Nonetheless, Amir Khan building an almost impossible body for the film to lend credibility to action sequences is commendable. I thought as a masala movie, the action sequences were very well done. They weren't too realistic to be boring or too unbelievable that they look ridiculous (like flying and reaching to a roof). I don't know if those who criticize the unbelievable action would actually enjoy watching two guys rolling on the floor fighting, pulling each others' hairs and doing other believable stuff.

Much has been said about Asin's OTT portrayal, I would agree to some extent, but then a movie doesn't need to be perfect to be enjoyed. The un-concluded love story I think is one of the high points in the story transforming a common man literally into an animal.

I watched the 3.5 hours long movie, didn't get bored for a bit and enjoyed it thoroughly. It helped that I wasn't really trying to spot inaccuracies because I assumed they were there but didn't really matter.