Sunday, December 25, 2005

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Festivals are times of gaiety, joy, love and laughter. They shouldn't make you feel scary, should they?

That's what Christmas makes you feel here in the UK. My third one as yet and I don't understand how people could totally shun the streets and public spaces. Here they stay at home with the family ALL day. No wonder it is a stressful time for everyone. You have to visit people you just about get along with (parents, relatives) and then spent ALL day with them, pretending to have fun. That must be a torture.

Anyway, you can't do anything outside the home. The shops are closed, the buses, trains, movie halls, restaurants. You can't even fall ill, the hospitals are closed. My nephew had a hard time getting proper treatment.

I like Diwali much better. People just descend on the streets in droves and its so lively and energetic. It feels like the most important festival for us. Christmas pales big time in comparison. It only surpasses Diwali in terms of commercialization.

Some more vitality and less commercial approach would do wonders to the Christmas spirit.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Babuwaa, kaunsi film dekhat ho

News about Bhojpuri films makes me immensely happy.

Lets have more regional films. Even if their standards are not worth the posters they are adverstised on. People need choice.

Hindi films are not longer representative of the pan-Indian culture. They are more about NRIs or yuppies who use Hindi to talk English with the rest of their folk. The milieu in the modern Bollywood film is always alien to most of India (set in Australia, US, UK or impossible mansions if in India). You may be able to survive through multiplexes and through international revenues, but the most of India will reject these films for not being representative of them. You disregard what you don't understand.

But its quite funny to know foreign babes are playing in Bhojpuri films. Amazing.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Review of browser

Cnet - review of year news - has more about Net browsers than anything else. IE moving towards RSS and tabbed browsing. RSS to be part of Longhorn in a big way.

News is here

Middle click is an extremely useful facility of Firefox. But its not as if its massivley better than IE. I have written about that earlier 1,2,3,4

But, in spite of not being on client standard list of tools, I am taking considerable risk and using it.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Constant Gardener in India

Pharmaceutical companies rush to try experimental medications on India's never-ending supply of poverty-stricken test subjects. Welcome to the real world of The Constant Gardener.

More here

Sunday, December 18, 2005

King Kong

King Kong is too much of everything. A cornucopia of thrills, emotions, suspense, sfx, larger than life characters. You name it, you have it. Still, it works. Because, Peter Jackson audaciously aspires to remind the audience of what movies are or were really meant for. Movies meant passion and drama and emotionally wrought and over the top sequences. But, its no longer cool to make movies like that and fair enough. That was a phase then, but now the dialogues, the acting, the story, everything is more true to life (even in the case of sci-fi). So, when Peter Jackson attempts to make a film in the old style of film making, he is taking enormous risks. He could easily invite ridicule from the critics, who could easily pounce on him and pronounce LOTR as a fluke (after all it was shot as a single movie).

But Peter Jackson just gets away with it with vitality and humour, not seen on the screen for sometime now.

Read A O Scott's fantastic review here

Thursday, December 15, 2005

I am mainly happy too!

Hope to see her in Paris during the new year's.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Crap in .doc format

I have always believed that life is more colorful, glorious, dangerous and generally eventful than fiction. It's just that, we fail to notice all the shades, because we are so used to the daily existence.

Now look at this project I am working in. Guess my employer. Call it A. Gas my client. Call it B. B is one part technology department BC and one part business BB.

A, my Indian employer has made inroads into BC. Few supports projects we executed and now we have this new project, where we (A) are responsible core design. A design team that has BC original employees only on the fringes. Even the technical management is done by A. Ignore the fact that, if we had a rotten egg sitting on the Work Packet Manger (technical manager)'s seat, it would stink lesser. (While eating namkeen I pronounced myself 'Chivda Packet Manager' and promised better distribution and management of chivda during office breaks).

Enough digression! So, we are directly talking with BB, analysing the requirements (a day before high level design delivery) and are quite happy with the relationship.

But the story has a flashback. This project is second in the series of projects. Hence heavily borrows from its predecessor. A macabre design, horribly executed (change requests taken up ad-hoc during EVERY stage of the project). And something that the users didnt want in the first place. The BC wants us to stick to the 'legacy' of this first project. So, that they can show BB and all others in B, that A is not doing anything new, that we have it made and we are not capable of doing important stuff as design.

Sidetrack - BB is ambivalent about it because the design approaches don't concern them greatly as long as we deliver what the users want. More important for BB is that we stick to design delivery deadlines and hence, any fresh, enhancements we have (I as a data modeling guy have major issues with existing database design) cannot be pushed through, because of strict timelines. Performance issues, tacky design, everything comes out of the woodwork only during testing and right now, the main goal is delivery.

Add to it, the spinelessness of us desi guys. If BC throws roadblocks in our path, they have a clear motive. To discredit A's design team and thus oust A from BC completely. Already BC pit bulls have started hounding us with even slight deviations in design. A's design lead team haven't yet given to their pressure, but you imagine them constantly leaning and bowing when BC guys are giving them a earful. Already some substantial enhancements have been shot down, under the guise of lack of time. You see, it makes sense, saves ass, if you work on crap that exists. You can blame BC later on for what went wrong. It is a typical desi approach of doing things - not sticking your neck out FOR WHAT'S RIGHT.

So, here we are, as I said, playing, flapping, mucking about in crap, glorious crap. All our design is crap in .doc format.

And it fucking makes me angry

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Worth the while?

I am sitting in the train, typing this out. Train from York to Norwich. Has sort of become my weekly grind. Almost every week, I go up (its north) to York, we keep discussing the requirements (even though we are half way past the macro design stage) and the BAs come up with a whole new set of requirements. PMs should be getting hyper about this kind of stuff, but well, they don't. Apart from stringent deadlines we are also supposed to follow the architecture of earlier release. A release that was again built on top of sketchy requirements. The users look at the reports from Release 1 and go "Well, I didnt ask for that."

A lot of new stuff came out in the discussion, but the design and the management team have decided, that since we don't have time, we will build on the poor existing discussion. Any enhancements. we will deal in the next release. Now, each release sort of is dependent on the previous and so, its difficult to get away from any shoddy piece of work earlier. Coz this is a data warehouse we are talking about, normalized system, where probably, we still have isolated bits of systems that don't impinge on each other.

Essentially, we are losing a chance here to stop or extend the design and revisit the architecture bit and set it right, before its too late. And I think, we will lose that chance.

The more you work, on a project like this, the more disappointed and disillusioned you get (The good-for-nothing project lead aptly asked during the closure "Have you lost the will to live?"). You can't really blame anyone individual, coz everyone is culpable. You just want to do the right thing, but you can't, coz of all these constraints and you feel "Is it worth my time?"

"Is this something, I should care for at all?".

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Learning new tricks

It gets dark by 4 pm here. Not that, it's sunny the rest of the time. It's like the day is fighting an eternal war against the forces of darkness. To get people out on the streets, they (forces of market) have taken the complete patronage of Christmas. There is light, glitter and decoration everywhere. Big Discounts and Huge marketing is the flavor of the season. People out in droves just shopping for gifts. The erstwhile religious occasion has been totally hijacked by the marketeers and has falling prey to consumerism big time (Diwali is on the way!).

Anyway, with the dreadful weather, how are people supposed to come out at all? So, I would understand the predicament of the high street. And anyway, all this melaa like atmosphere redolent of joy, love and expensive gifts, warms the cockles of everyone around.

As a part of the festivities, there is ice-skating rink setup in front of forum. Was there yesterday for the second time. Its fun ice-skating. To begin with, you are a uncontrollable mess of limbs. You try to balance yourself, one slippery step at a time, hands spreadeagled, grabbing the railing. But it doesnt last long. Your body tilts back, then front and sideways, everyone around you moves away, your legs furiously trying to be grounded. But the inevitable happens. You fall with a thud.

You get up and see all the people moving gracefully around and try to do the same thing. Imitate their moves. But your legs don't move. It just feels so hard. The surface is hard when you fall so badly

But, it happens for only about 1st half hour of your session. Slowly, you get the hang of it and you float around. Its just such a wonderful feeling to just glide, achieve a sense of complete control over your limbs and then play around.
Having done it about 4 times, I can say, that I am comfortable skating now. I am not a complete pro but its fun. Obviously, I would love to do it effortlessly, probably will happen over a period of time.

Swimming has been a different ball game altogether. After having done it at IIT (though just for a month), I totally lost touch. After 2 sessions here, manage to float for about 5 feet, but then either am out of breath or strength.

With a skill, the obvious thing is that you learn it faster and better as a kid (except sex, wherein you havent got the necessary tools as a child). As an adult, you are taught the techniques, but with such massively sprawled appendages and unwieldly body, which has not been put to proper use for a long time, its difficult to control your motor functions. Everything is so massively taxing on your body. Your brain needs to be rewired again.

Right now, I am smelling of chlorine (something like bathroom bleach), but I think I need to bear the stink to feel and act like a fish in water.