Monday, September 26, 2005

Souls: Lost and Found

There is this really nice book I read sometime last year. Its called 'Soul of a new machine'. It won the pulitzer prize in 1980 but the feelings, thought process and emotions in it are relevant even today. If you want to understand the spirit of engineering, startups, the enterpreneurial spirit, why ppl leave big companies for high risk startups etc etc this one gives you a feel of it. The falling flat on you face, the lifting up, the eureka moments.... When there are problems and you can't figure it out you start wondering if the problem is in h/w of s/w or yourself. They also talk about h/w sometimes taking a trip to never never land :-) You don't need to have any engineering background to appreciate it. Its a true account about the amazing efforts of a manager called 'West' and his team of engineers, the 'Hardy boys' and the 'Microkids'. It follows the engineering project life cycle at a company called 'Data General', where this team set out on a task to build a minicomputer, code-named 'Eagle'. Its not just about super humans who overcame obstacle after obstacle to reach their goals but about real people and their lives and how they brought meaning to their lives by following their dreams. I felt a bit sad at the end but its a story thats food for the soul.

So I say
Thank you for the music, the songs I'm singing
Thanks for all the joy they're bringing
Who can live without it, I ask in all honesty
What would life be?
Without a song or a dance what are we?
So I say thank you for the music
For giving it to me

A friend sent me this site which mentions the whereabouts of the 'Eagle' team in 2000.

This site on Apple's original days is also a good read. It gives you an insight into the lives of the original Macintosh developers, including the ressurection man, 'Steve Jobs'.

If you stop before you start

If you stop before you start
You will never know how far
That you can go
If you do not give your all
You will never know how far
That you can throw

If you do not stand tall
You will never know how high
That you can reach
If you do not speak your mind
You will never know just who
That you can teach

If you do not leave your house
You will never know if you can
Reach the stars above
If you do not give your heart
You will never know how much
That you can love

By Joseph Rohrbach

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The garage projects

"When was the last time you fought with your manager to get the product right?"

"If you have been doing any pet projects in your garage or in your work table when there's no one around, now's the time to come clean."

"If you identify with any of the above, then you would enjoy what comes next."

We had some posters put around office some weeks back. No one knew who was putting them up.

Well finally it was revealed that we were having a kinda pet project in the garage contest. We were given time in advance to think of ideas but were expected to do the implementation only on the final day. Ayush and myself were together... We didn't finalise on the idea till the contest started... :-) It was a nice experience never the less.... It kinda reiterated the fact that engineering is all about solving problems....

On the day of the event our huge open hall was filled with computers. About 30+ folks participated. You could see ppl discussing, hacking away at their PCs. Ppl were trying all kinds of stuff in order to complete their respective projects. Learn new tools, design the architecture, learn some user interface tools, come up with innovative ideas. Well we didn't see any teams going for each others necks but that would have been a nice sight :-)

I was amazed by some of the projects that people had come up with. There were one very useful h/w contraption that one team had put together. Many had used bluetooth in their projects. At the end of the day many teams put together complete working products. It was a nice way to re-charge the spirit of creativity and innovation that is so very important for a young company like us.

oh yeah.. And we got free t-shirts and free pizza too :-)

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Almost famous

We were told that the show 'Click Online' which airs on BBC was coming to Impulsesoft to capture what we do. Their program showcases the latest technology and cool gadgets across the world. I've seen it on BBC and its really cool... We were told that the 2 ppl were chosen internally by a draw of lots.... The two people were Dipti and Sachin. Damn I was almost famous!!!!!

However I could always try to hang out somewhere near her place.... Or near the hardware guys place where I can talk about piezoelectric effects and groundbounce or run in with a h/w board yelling, "My ground is floating" :-) So if you see some guy smiling his heart out in the background... thats me...

How they came across us... well they asked some ppl about Indian companies that are working on cool gadgets and cutting edge technologies and our name came up :-)

9:30am - Live update
Heard Shekar (the chairman) telling Dan Simmons about the reasons behind choosing the quaint house for an office.... the typical startup types of story... 6-7 ppl working out of a house abt 5 yrs back... then we needed a bigger place and came here... also we wanted something inbetween... not a typical office type of setup..

Right now they are shooting Dipti and Sachin coming into the office on bikes... from all angles and stuff... man I want to make a movie now !!!!! I just want to direct something.... maybe I can direct the ads for some products :-)

10:30am - The realisation
Our customers (for the team I am in) had asked us not to reveal anything to BBC abt them. So they won't even enter our room... When will the real product developers be asked to please stand up. Maybe our team was also not included in the draw of lots ... sob sob... Damn... I'm moving shop to the cafeteria...

More updates!!!! LIVE!!!

I mucked into a meeting which Dipti was supposed to be having with her colleagues. Well two of her actual colleagues had not come in yet.... good for me :-) Dan said that they won't play the voice so we just had to talk about something..... So we had this very psychological discussion on beeps and leds and user indication/intuition :-) Man... I 've never enjoyed a conf call so much. After that we had to move out of the room one by one.... we did it about 5-6 times.

maybe they will have a dance sequence next I thought to myself :-) I can choreograph....

Yet some more updates!!!! LIVE!!!!

well the dance sequence didn't happen.... sob sob....
But they shot me playing some TT while 3 others had some discussion in the background... the camera man was very impressed with the ball... he also took out a shot with the camera lens parallel to the board like the one I took out lying flat on the road (its there in my motocycling diaries).... but this time there were no vehicles coming head on from behind the curve!!!..... anyways he took a lot of shots of the ball just rolling, waxing and waning thru its path. When it fell he asked me to keep quite.. And then he filmed the noise of the bouncing till it died out... he smiled to himself as if listening to his best music...

They also took out stuff of them working at their desks playing around with some naked h/w boards... at Sachin's (the h/w guy) place it was more like ER with the doc diagnosing his patient.... I (well the marketing manager too) had set up this understanding with Dipti when I was to call/sms her to get our Dick Tracy watch demo into the flow of the program :-) The guy was like,"James Bond watch..... Now I'm too confused". I do not want to rearrange events to make my case look stronger but I guess he was tired... cause he had just been hit with some other bluetooth demos before that...

Then came volleyball.... They said they would take some shots of us beating the crap out of Sachin.... A lot of extras came :-).... They were still shooting interviews of Dipti and Sachin... The ball went over the fence twice and into nala.... The first time it cost us 5 bucks... the second time well the kid had just figured out the art of negotiating.... 15 bucks... damn.. We waited some more but they didn't turn up.... Dipti why do you talk so much?????!!!!!!

Back at office the camera man seemed to be amused with our bronze bell... we ring it whenever we get any sales deal.... music to our ears.... he was shooting this yawning thing where Sachin was to stretch his hand up as if trying to ring the bell .. then actually show that the intention was actiually to stretch out and yawn and walk away... he was just fooling around...

they shot about 4 hours which they said would boil down to about 4-5 mins.... I wonder what my boiling point is and if I would vaporise in the process... it would be aired about 2-3 weeks from now....

Bangalore se Dan Simmons ke saath, Alistair D'souza. Aaj tak.

btw ... didn't do any work :-) shushhhhhh!!!!!!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Jazz.. The real thing.

I have been listening to some Jazz music of late. Sridhar once asked me to try and listen to the drum beats and count the number of unique beats that were being repeated. Usually you find that in rock music the beats would be about 4-5 or so. But the Jazz music that I was listening to had about 10 beats. The beats were very light and very fast. Amazing. Jazz music has been growing on me in the past few months.

So when I heard that there was this Jazz and Rock concert being organised by Intel I decided to go. Err... there was no Jazz... no freaking Jazz at all. The army band was supposed to play Jazz which was 'NOT' Jazz. Then there was this band called 'The Unknowns' who were introduced as the best band in Bangalore :-) Well I've heard better!!!! Anyways we danced away to glory till my legs ached. Had a jolly good time. The place to hear some good enough live Jazz is 'Java City'. They have a live band playing on Sunday in the evenings. Have been there twice and enjoyed it both times. However the drummer hits the drums a bit too hard. There is this pretty old uncle who plays the Saxaphone. Jazz over a cup of coffee and some chatting. Nice combo :-)

Monday, September 12, 2005

Yeh hai India meri Jaan

We were contemplating going rafting to Bheemeshwari for some time now. Its about 100 kms from Bangalore. The grade is about 1-2 which is easy. I informed everyone by email that they don't need to know how to swim cause they would give us life jackets. Duh!!! Remembered to put a disclaimer that if they don't function properly then its not my fault :-) And each raft would have a trained guide. The last time I went we had an ex lawyer called Sridhar, who was at that time running an adventure company. We had gone for the 4 hour trip. I enjoyed it quite a bit. We were thrown into the water where it was safe. So that those who didn't know how to swim would feel more comfortable with the life jackets. Towards the end we jumped into the rapid and went down with the flow. The guide told us to put our feet forward. Due to the aerated water I went in and out of the water but it was fun.

Anyways we were thinking of leaving Sunday morning... then raft on the Cauvery... The plan was to be back by evening a little bit tanned and stuff but thats ok. We could also trek in the nearby area if we get time. The last time I went some elephants had rampaged thru some villages. So I warned junta that they should not talk to the elephants!!!!

Sunday Morning: 5:30am.
People started dropping out as usual. The number boiled down to 6 till the night before. I phoned Ankit in the morning to wake him up but he just fell off to sleep. Ok that makes it 5 of us. Finally when we left by about 6:30 types the number boiled down to 4. Maybe its cause I told them about the elephants. Hey I was joking!!!!!! There are no talking elephants !!!!! So Saurabh and Namita were taking turns driving while Dhruv and myself lay prostrate in the back. In case you are new to this blog, well Saurabh's van doesn't have back seats, courtesy IITM. Its replaced with a nice mattress, cushions... the works. ZZZZzzzzz.

We arrived at Cauvery fishing camp by about 9ish. Booked our places for the rafting. We couldn't get the morning slot but managed to get the afternoon one. We then had a very heavy breakfast which was proportional to the price. Since we had time on our hands we decided to go on a little excursion. Someone told us that we could go to the watch tower. Hello the watch tower was like 100 feet from the camp!!! You call that an excursion. We don't look that old do we.... do we???? So we strolled along the banks of the river. Climbed some trees... with some help of course :-) The coming down part looked tougher. When we decided to head back, somebody got this brilliant idea not to follow the same path back. I think it was me but since my mind denies coming up with any such thoughts, I have decided to give myself the benefit of the doubt. Hey.. I'm an understanding and lenient person. Someone also said that the road should be parallel to the river and just a little ahead. Hey!! lets not get into the blaming game ppl. So we then climbed a pretty steep hill. Had to hold on to grass for dear life. It itched. We thought we would get to the road and walk back along it but we just kept going up and up. When we looked back it was too steep to turn back so we again started going up and up. Finally reached the top where there was a watch tower. See... we found the other watch tower. I knew those ppl wern't lying :-) The view from the top was amazing. Well worth the climb. We had a birds eyeview of the river and the hills around us. There was another marked path to get back. Finally when we reached the road there was a board pointing in the direction we just came from. It had some pictures of bears and something was written in Kannada. Maybe it was a warning that we should not talk to any bears.

Finally we went rafting. The rafting was nice. The final rapid was a grade 3 but I enjoyed the trekking more. That was a like a grade 6... The type which only lunatics take :-) Hey later in the evening we even landed up in the lunatic asylum but thats a different story... Well read on for more.

We packed up by 6 and were on our way back. I dozzed off again at the back dreaming of the nice hot bath and the bed at home. When we neared Bangalore, we found a hit and run case lying on the road with a lot of ppl around him. Sometimes ppl like to look at others in pain. They would be afraid to help cause it would be a police case but they would just stand and look. Half asleep I suddenly hear Saurabh saying to clear the place in the back as we were taking the guy to hospital. If I were alone I don't know if I would help. I mean I would actually have to be in that situation to tell you what I would have done. Anyways, so we carried the guy into the van. None of the other onlookers decided to come to the hospital with us. I was sitting in the back with Dhruv. We found the guys phone but it seemed to be out of balance. So Dhruv used his phone to try and call some numbers from the guys phone. Couldn't get thru to anyone who could recognise who the guy with us was. Tried calling the police too, to let them know that we are talking the guy to hospital but couldn't get through. The first hospital we reached told us to take the guy to Nimhans govt hospital for a CT scan as there didn't seem to be any external injuries except for blood that kept oozing out from his mouth. We informed a nearby policeman about what we were upto and headed towards Nimhans which would take about 30 mins. Saurabh offered to drop off anyone who wanted to get off at this point as we didn't know what we would get into next. Everyone stayed :-)

Blood kept oozing from the guys mouth all the time and he was making involuntary noises. Namita covered her ears... I was beside him in the back with Dhruv who was still trying to get intouch with some relation/friend of the guy.... Didn't know if he would die in front of me. One of his eye was open and the blood was frothy. I thought I was afraid of blood but I was ok. I was wondering if the noises were due to the guy choking on his own blood but then he moved one hand. "Ok make more sounds"... Cause as long as he made sounds I knew he was alive. whenever he stopped I thought that was it but then he would make some sounds again.

Finally when we arrived at Nimhans we told them that it was a hit and run case. Nimhans is the government mental hospital. We took him there to get a CT scan done. I expected people to come out running with a stretcher but I guess that happens only in the movies. So I went in to search for a stretcher but couldn't find any. Found a wheel chair and decided that that would do. The guy was heavy to lift. None of the hospital guards offered to help to lift him up and so I put all these years of gyming into use, along with Dhruv of course. Pretty heavy to carry. He kept on sliding off from the wheelchair. Must have been 60 kgs types but he felt really heavy. A little while before this we had also realised that the guy was drunk. We decided that we would call up Neeti if the law tried to turn things onto us. By this time the police arrived and took over. There were no problems. The doctors said that he was not in danger.

After the episode we were discussing that maybe we just wasted our time on a drunkard. Which may have been the cause of the accident in the first place. But then again hindsight is always accurate. I was also thinking of the incident later and the fact that I had missed Sunday church. Some of the sermons are about helping ppl in need to which I would internally nod my head. But theory is so much diff from practicals. Later on when I felt he was out of danger and a bit drunk too my thoughts of helping him further were biased by the fact that he was drunk and probably a riff raff type of person... Maybe I'm just a Sunday Christian. Well it was still Sunday :-)

We decided not to call it a day yet. We then went to a karoake lounge called Opus to get our minds onto something else. Anouksha, the viva singer and channel [V] VJ happened to be there and sang some numbers. There was also this guy called Karthik Iyer who was singing in Tamil. He sang 'Beat it' and another number in Tamil just to prove that Michael had been to Chennai :-) Barry, one of Saurabh's friend also sang. Namita too.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

The Other side of History

The play 'The other side of History' was about a couple who read about the suicide of an acquaintance in the paper. They don't know too much about this other person. They know of two incidences in this persons life and use their imagination to fill in the gap and come out with a story, as they are the literary inclined types. Each of them have their own version. Their versions are drastically different from the dead man's version, which unfolds in the climax. Which actually led me to think of 'the other side of history' of the another incident.

Apurva aka AJ and I were house hunting. We landed up in Koramangala and decided to check out Jaya and Meghana's place, to get an idea of the size to rent equation. It turned out that they were celebrating one of their friend's birthdays out there, so we got some free lunch.
But thats a different story. Happy b'day Anshu.

Anyways met a guy at their place whose name I shall not reveal as a matter of anonymity. You will realise why later :-) Lets just call him Mr X. So Mr X tells us that there is a place for rent he had just seen in the parallel lane. Since we were in the neighbourhood we found no harm in the offer and decided to take a look. We landed up at the door which was not locked. Mr X tells us to just push the door open and go in. So our brain thinks that no one is living there and Mr X knows that since he had been here before. Maybe some brokers are inside. So AJ pushes the door a few inches and realises that someone is still staying there. Not because we saw anyone but by the arrangement of furniture and stuff on it. So we decide to ring the bell, which felt like the decent thing to do at the time.

Then after a few moments out came this giant. 7 feet 9 inches. She had this look in her eye, of a woman scorned. There was also this twist in her mouth and she was frowning in a sulking manner. All she wanted to do was wring our necks. Yikes!!! What a waste of oxygen. Wait!!!! perhaps I am imagining that, my view being biased due to what took place later. Perhaps.

So this average height girl comes out and looks at us. She is about to blurt out something but then decided to lift one hand higher and rest it on the door frame. Maybe she wanted to give the impression that she was taller, her animal instincts working overtime, to protect herself from this pack of hyenas. She took a deep breath and then the words started to flow. It sounded like she had practised the dialogue before but maybe for someone else. "How can you just enter without knocking!!!!!". She yelled a bit more!
Her voice was not as forceful as her words. She lacked the intensity. Well something was just missing I thought to myself. As AJ was in the direct line of fire he decided to speak, "Err... but we didn't enter and we did ring the bell". "Who do you think you are to just come here and disturb ppl. And why did you open the door!!!!!!". The yelling continued. "Ok something is definately missing. Breathe in. Breathe out", I say although my words don't reach her. Well who told us that we can open the door... AJ then points to Mr X and says, "Cause he... err". I think AJ wanted to beat up Mr X at that point but decided it was not the decent thing to do at the time. Well Mr X did come there before and he knew they were ppl staying there. We decided to guard our tongues and apologised, but for what we don't know. After a moment of silence, "So can we still see the house". Steam rises as we see red. SLAM!!! Ok thats more like it, I tell her. We walked away like a pack of hyenas alright. Yeah a pack of laughing hyenas :-)

I was recently telling a friend about how
ppl already decide the outcome of an argument even before it starts, biased by events from before or their way of looking at things. The other side of history. Maybe she just had a fight with her boyfriend and thats why the hatred for the other sex. Or maybe her landlord was pestering her to vacate or something. Or maybe she was not prepared for a similar incident a little while back. Or maybe she was typing an email and the sound of the bell startled her and she did a reply all instead of just a reply :-) Well whatever the reason she just wanted to let it out on someone. See... we did our good deed for the day by helping her to get intouch with her emotions :-) Ok ok... we were just hit.... Hard! Lets just leave it at that.