Sunday, October 30, 2005

Runaway train

Runaway train never comin' back
Runaway train on a washed away track
Runaway train, another dead, its just a name
Runaway but it always feels the same

My phone rang. There was a hint of winter in the air or maybe it was just the north wind. I glanced at the number. "Unknown", I said to myself. I picked it up and the lady's voice on the other end seemed a bit shaky. "Err is this Alistair". She was making an effort to maintain her composure but there were cracks in the cover. I responded in the affirmative giving her my complete attention since I knew something was wrong. "I'm Apurva's mother. Do you know which train he is coming in. He phoned me up before he left Bangalore and said that he would reach Secunderabad and would catch a connecting train at 7am for Nagpur. His mobile seems to be off."

The south of India had been at the receiving end from nature. It was pouring everywhere due to the low pressure in the region. Roads were washed away. Localities and homes were flooded. In Bangalore some lakes overflowed and caused floods in the surrounding areas. Ayush used to carry his mattress and change of clothes etc in his car just incase his place got flooded as there was a lake nearby. The railway service between Bangalore and Chennai was stopped temporarily. AJ and Ashu were off to spend the coming Diwali week at home in Nagpur. They left on Friday. But then for reasons unfathomable to the soothsayers from amongst the populace, the support system of the tracks at one point were weakened. Eventually being washed away, by the excess water due to the heavy rains. This manifested itself in the form of a train accident near Secunderabad at about 5am types.

I assured AJ's mom that I would call her back. Thats all I could do at that point in time. I surfed through the channels on the TV. Time seemed to have slowed to a crawl as the signals from remote took their own sweet time to reach the TV. I saw some glimpses of the train compartments that were crushed. It looked pretty bad. I knew the train name which they were travelling in. The channels did not mention the name/number of the train. Maybe they did but I didn't see it. I then decided to surf the net and found that my friends were travelling by a different train. I called up AJ's mom and apprised her of the situation. The shakyness in her voice seemed to fade away as we continued our conversation. Parents are same everywhere :-) Someone once said that you don't need to tell your parents that you love them, they already know. Well someone else said, that the someone who said that was probably not a parent :-)

As daylight faded, I heard the news about the 3 bomb blasts in Delhi. The next day I was discussing with Sridhar about the events of the previous day. Sridhar was of the opinion that in India human life is not valued. Agreed that we couldn't do much about the bomb blasts but maybe the train accident could have been avoided. Trains could have been diverted since it was a known fact that the area was under a heavy lashing of rain. In India, we come up with technology for others but don't use it ourselves. I had worked on a compact high processing device that could do a lot of things. It had wireless capability in addition to other stuff. Ppl in another country were contemplating using it for remotely monitoring railway tracks and informing authorities about possible hazards. The key word here is 'another' country.

Maybe a few lives have to be lost for others to even start thinking about improving the quality of life. There is this email floating around where they say that you should be proud to be an Indian cause our ancestors invented/discovered so and so thing thousands of years before the rest of the world did. Applause please. Yeah right does past glory really matter now. My roots are from Goa and I may have a bit of Portuguese blood running in my veins. Well I can't speak Portuguese but I can speak Hindi. But you know what I really don't care cause it doesn't matter if you are proud of your ancestors or not. What matters is if your ancestors can be proud of you.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Addi's Engagement

Aditya Kulkarni aka Addi. We got thru engineering college together. He now works for a startup that builds high computing scalable computers with parallel processing, that they have positioned as a replacement for costly supercomputers. He was part of my gang of few friends that I would hang out with. The good thing about him is that he talks a lot and enjoys it when ppl pull his leg. Exam time he would call me up, "Ally... How much have you completed!!!". I would lie and tell him that I am nearly done, then he would get all hyper and stuff,"Gawd... Mera kya hoga... I'm gonna get real low marks this time"... sob sob etc etc.... However he would always manage to be amongst the top in the class. And then we also had Apurva Jadhav aka AJ who is a master at a lot of things, one being pulling Addi's leg. People say that AJ reaches his prime in leg pulling when Addi is around. We have a lot of stories.

So Addi was gonna get engaged and some of us from bangalore were heading towards Pune over the weekend. I was to travel with Ashu by train and on the way back AJ was to join us back by flight. The train journey was comfortable. Ashu gave me company. There were some vendors who were selling bottled water. The wrapper claimed it had 300% more oxygen. Yeah H2O4. H2O2 is hydrogen peroxide which is used especially as an oxidizing and bleaching agent and as an antiseptic. H2O3 is a shorthand for maleic anhydride which is toxic. H2O4 is the shorthand for oxalic acid. Yikes!!!!

Anyways we chatted with some ppl whose children are also engineers. These days everyone wants to get into engineering :-) At night they realised that the chains to support the bedrest for the middle berth were not of equal length. I then suggested that they twist one of the chains till the lengths are similar and it worked. They smiled and were like,"hmmmm... you're an engineer". Well I've said before that engineering is all about solving problems. All you gotta do is think. Sometimes think different. If you are a computer science engineer then its not about knowing languages like C, C++, Java etc. Its more about logic and applying that logic in a systematic manner. I remeber on another journey there were some ppl who had put a click lock on the zips of one of their bag. The bag had a double zip which was bonded by the lock and the key was left inside the bag. They tried to fit their finger into the bag by pulling the zips as far apart as possible but it gave them just about 1 inch of space. Above that the bag was filled to capacity. Then they started discussing how they should break the lock. The path of the zips formed 3 sides of a rectangle. So I moved the zips to one of the corners. Juggled the stuff inside a bit to make some space and then tried to make the sides parallel to each other. I then moved the zips (still bonded by the click lock) along the parallel tracks, away from the corner. Now your full hand could be put inside, infact you could put in two hands. They found the key and smiled and were like,"hmmmm... engineer right".

Arrived in Pune sometime around 3-4ish and headed to the place where we were to meet Addi. AJ was in mumbai on some work and was coming along with Gaurav. Met Addi's dad who is also high on the list of ppl that enjoy pulling Addi's leg. His sister also enjoys it. I mean everyone does it. His fiancee Richa has also started enjoying it. We rested a bit and then it was engagement time. Addi was to receive a sherwani from his inlaws which he was to change into. Clicked some snaps of him changing :-) to get the before and after effect. A lot of his other friends turned up in the room and on the way out someone left the key inside and shut the door. Afterwards when we realised it we had to start a background process to retrieve the key as the hotel ppl didn't have a spare???? One of the bell boys jumped in from some window from behind and finally opened the door.

Meanwhile Addi was upto his stunts on stage. His inlaws gave him some laddoos and he was putting the full thing in. Had to get him water to make it all go down. Caught the moment on camera :-) After the ring ceremony the pujari told him to give a laddoo to Richa. Don't know what he heard but he ended up eating the laddoo himself :-) The ceremony went off well. I was entertained. Caught up with a lot of friends.

The next day we moved into Addi's flat. For a bachelor it is set up very well. I must say I was impressed. AJ has bought a flat in the same complex which overlooks Agakhan palace. In the afternoon we ate some good maharasthran food. I stuffed myself. When we were back I decided to climb to the topmost point of the building and get a panoramic view of Pune. Richa joined us for dinner, where she revealed what all Addi had told her about his hobbies. Said that he claims that photography is one of his hobbies and that he showed her a snap of a monkey. There was a lot of poking after that :-) Back at Addi's place the discussion continued till the wee hours of the morning... Slept around 4:30 types.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Cook Book

Why Engineers and Scientists Don't Write Cook Books

Chocolate Chip Cookies


1) 532.35 cm3 gluten
2) 4.9 cm3 NaHCO3
3) 4.9 cm3 refined halite
4) 236.6 cm3 partially hydrogenated tallow triglyceride
5) 177.45 cm3 crystalline C12H22O11
6) 177.45 cm3 unrefined C12H22O11
7) 4.9 cm3 methyl ether of protocatechuic aldehyde
8) Two calcium carbonate encapsulated avian albumin coated protein
9) 473.2 cm3 theobroma cacao
10) 236.6 cm3 de-encapsulated legume meats (sieve size #10)

To a 2-L jacketed round reactor vessel (reactor #1) with an overall heat transfer coefficient of about 100 BTU/F-ft2-hr, add ingredients one, two and three with constant agitation. In a second 2-L reactor vessel with a radical flow impeller operating at 100 rpm, add ingredients four, five, six and seven until the mixture is homogenous.

To reactor #2, add ingredient eight, followed by three equal volumes of the homogenous mixture in reactor #1. Additionally, add ingredients nine and ten slowly, with constant agitation. Care must be taken at this point in the reaction to control any temperature rise that may be the result of an exothermic reaction.

Using a screw extrude attached to a #4 nodulizer, place the mixture piece-meal on a 316SS sheet (300 X 600 mm). Heat in a 460K oven for a period of time that is in agreement with Frank & Johnson's first order rate expression (see JACOS, 21, 55), or until golden brown. Once the reaction is complete, place the sheet on a 25C heat-transfer table, allowing the product to come to equilibrium.

Monday, October 17, 2005

A star is almost born

Sequel to 'its' prequel "Almost famous". For the prequel take a look at 'Almost Famous' at The second part (i.e. 'it') was never released cause 'it' didn't get through the censor board.

Introducing the Orangy Nagpurians Dipti Kothari and Sachin Bedare.... and sidekicks.
Special appearance: some sidekicks
Guest appearance: more sidekicks...
Sermon on the mount (on the terrace): Shekar.. the chairman...
Special Item number: Jaya Kawale... however it did not get through the censor board....
Duration: Impulsesoft was shown for 5 mins during the show where they also showed some biotech stuff going on in bangalore.
Production house: BBC 'Click online'...
The program was aired on BBC during the BBC India week. You can download the video from the web. Check out a sublink from the link below...

The program on BBC's Click Online was aired on Saturday. Couldn't catch it as I was busy with other imp stuff :-) My mom saw it and said that they showed me in the meeting scene trying to give gyan to Dipti.... However my face was partly covered by some flowers :-) Hey I don't remember any flowers being used in the scene. Maybe it was digitally enhanced... Damn.... a star was almost born!!!!!!!

An article on the program.

If she was not working in technology, Dipti says: "I might have started a restaurant of my own, since I love food so much. I could get seafood every day."

Seafood?? ok some Jains eat non veg too.... but I have never seen you eating non-veg... Well it turned out that free food was translated to sea food :-)

check out the Windows Media web based version of it @ the BBC site..

I come for 6 secs :-) Out of which my face is covered by flowers for about 3 secs :-) They play a lot of punjabi music in the background. They should have asked me to choreograph.!!!!! They show our bell, the swing... and the spacious restrooms. Not too much of tech stuff though. More about the lifestyles etc..

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Resurrection Man

I must say I'm pretty impressed with the fighting spirit of Steve Jobs. Well I don't know him personally so I can't comment on his interpersonal skills but one thing is sure, he is someone who stands out from the crowd.

built Apple... sacked from his job... built NeXT which was acquired by Apple... built Pixar then back as Apple's CEO.... brush with death (cancer) somewhere inbetween... This resurrection man is freakingly creative....

Lets start at the very beginning.

Jim Collins always said creativity plus implementation equals innovation...

'You've got to find what you love,' Jobs says

the rest follows.....

1 million iPod Nanos sold in 17 days !!!!!!!!!!!

Its a video iPod

Apple makes history, breaks all its records in Q4

Charlie and the chikki factory

I work in a quaint house. We have around 55 ppl in our company currently. When I was quitting Cisco with the intention of joining this place I didn't tell my parents that I would be working in a house :-) cause they were still trying to digest the news that I was gonna leave the No 1 networking giant for a tiny, unknown startup. My employee id out here is 65. In Cisco it was 110xxx. Baskar is a co-founder of the company. He is employee no 1 and also the CTO. The company was first based at his rented home in Malleshwaram, Bangalore. In those days, during conference calls, sometimes the mooing of cows just outside his place could be heard over the phone :-) He once told us that during the initial days he not only had to convince ppl to join but also their parents, if they were fresh out of college :-)

Anyways the house that we work in now, is owned by a chikki walla. Yup.. the guy has a small chikki factory. He decided to send us some of his chikki yesterday. Each one of us got a packet of assorted chikkies. Yum. Why didn't he think of starting a chocolate factory!!!!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Angels: Fully Throttled

I was downloading my mails and found the following in my inbox.

Mission Impossible: A job worthy of the master detective Sherlock Holmes. But u can do it.

The briefing:
Hi xxxxx's angels ;)

Your brief is to find out the gory details about Mr Xxxxxx Xxxxx :-)
He is an alumni of XXX and currently works in Xxxxxx. Get me any dope you can get on him.

Thanks in advance.
p.s. please.

Well had gone out with some friends for a movie the previous night. On the way back one of my friend got a call from his friend asking him to do a background check on a guy who works in Bangalore in some IT company. My friend's friend's sister is to be engaged to this guy. My other friend then told us about a cousin of his who was to be married when he was small. The guy who she was to marry was a doctor. So his side sent two people posing as patients in that hospital to get friendly with the other ppl around and get out info on him :-)

Come to think of it do you really get to know the other person. Acquaintances.. friends... close friends/spouses... Before marriage??? Even after marriage??? It takes time... and time is relative. I mean I'm still trying to figure myself out let alone others. And then we change too. I'm definately a lot diff from when I stepped out of engineering college. My thought process has changed a bit. For the better??? Thats what I would like to believe but time will tell. Well all the world's a stage and we are but just mere performers. Hmmmm... Are we ??? Will I ever get an Oscar...

Monday, October 03, 2005

Friends and Family Day

We had our friends and family day yesterday where we showcased technology and gadgets that we work on. In the morning half we had a lot of heads of corporates. The afternoon half was for friends and family. We had been preparing for the whole show over the past few weeks. I along with some other colleagues did some modelling for posters for the demos :-)

I was incharge of games.. came up with a game for taglines of companies... we were also thinking of having a treasure hunt type of game but couldn't blend it into the flow of things... finally I decided to write a poem on the various demos for clues... the clues have to be matched with the demos and then we would give them more lines of the poem in random order which they would use to complete the poem.... When I came up with the poem idea everyone was like, "hey nice!!!". But 'hey nice' is one thing and putting pen to paper is another. Was trying for a few days to write a poem to blend with the flow of the whole show... couldn't think of anything till friday night when I just gave up... finally woke up at 1 am and wrote it till 3am.... :-)

Was also trying to get this particular wireless watch demo into the show since it was one of the products I worked on :-) It didn't fit into the theme of the show which was 'Music's in the air'. However I then came up with this gadget man demo idea :-) Some of the gadgets were related to music and the watch was a gadget so it was slipped into the demo :-) Gadget man would be this guy would have a lot of gadgets on him... all the gadgets are connected wirelessly... You have the wireless watch connected to the phone to get call alerts, smses, reject calls, alarms, alerts etc... the phone is also connected to a wireless headset so that you can take calls via it... the wireless headset is also connected to the iPod via a wireless transmitter so you can listen to wireless music.... so when a call comes in the music automatically stops and the headset switches to the phone... you also get indications on the can redial missed calls from the watch... the iPod and phone is hidden in your backpack or something...

As I already mentioned the theme of the show was 'Music's in the air'.

Here is a summary of the demos which showcased various gadgets/technology/protocols that 'we' have made:

1.In flight - Noise Cancellation Demo
We simulated an aeroplane seating area. Engine noise was being played over some hidden speakers. The passengers could listen to music played from some source, which is connected to noise cancellation headset over Bluetooth. The engine noise could be suppressed using a button provided in the headset, so that only music is heard.

2.In car GMCP
GMCP stands for Generic Media Control Protocol. It is an open standard proposed by Impulsesoft. Currently a lot of car manufactures are adopting it for in car entertainment where you just plug in your music player such as an iPod into the adapter in the car and listen to music over your car stereos. You can also control the music player through your car audio system over bluetooth.
Check out this GMCP article in Automotive DesignLine - by Impulsesoft;jsessionid=VWM3MKY2SDL5QQSNDBESKHA?articleID=171202662

3.Dual music streams
In Car, we listen to music of our individual preferences. I modelled for the posters for this demo.

Ppl in cars can listen to music of their choice over wireless headphones. In a car you can stream FM and CD music simultaneously over bluetooth. Two music streams can be sent to two different headphones or single stream can be sent to two headphones. The user can decide what type of music they want to listen to.

4.Switchover Demo
The user does not miss a call while listening to their favorite music.

The user has a Bluetooth mobile phone, Bluetooth headphone and Bluetooth enabled music source (iPod with adapter). Music is streaming from the iPod to your headphone wirelessly. When a phone call arrives the music suspends and user can pick up the call. When call ends the music automatically starts on the headphone.

5.Voice Recognition for in car entertainment
User gives voice commands (play/pause/previous/next etc.) to the car kit which are executed by iPod adapter and music streams to car speakers connected to car kit.

6.Living room/home demo
There are multiple music/audio sources in the home like TV, Audio System, flash based player etc. Impulsesoft's 'Hippo (iWish-xxxx) and Headset' is a line-in bluetooth adaptor which fits into your TV, audio system, iPod etc... the music streams over bluetooth to your headphones. demo
Hippo usage in office scenario
Laptop has a bluetooth USB adaptor. Hippo (iWish-xxxx) is used to listen to music, chat online over bluetooth. This is ideal for employees on the move.

8.Gadget man demo
Already explained this demo above.

As I had mentioned I wrote a poem on the various demos for clues... the clues have to be matched with the demos and then we would give ppl more lines of the poem in random order which they would use to complete the poem.... I poem also had hints from posters that we had made. The basic theme of the day was 'Music's in the air'. The complete poem is below.

Music's in the air

I wish I could move at the speed of life,
Comforted by technology that cuts out the strife.

I wish I could breathe the hills come alive,
Each one their own, on a very long drive.

I wish I could cruise without ever stalling,
It listens to me, I can commune by calling.

I wish I could surf, set the waves a scorching,
Head-bang and dance like no one's watching.

I wish I could listen without any hitch,
Music to call, why can't they just switch.

I wish at work, to get into the groove,
The perfect aid for the employee on the move.

I wish I could walk on air with poise,
One with the world, just cut out the noise.

I wish I would use my gadgets everywhere,
Watch it all talk, like I just don't care.

Free as a bird, my soul I bare,
My wish for all, music's in the air.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

The emperor's new clothes

Moved house on saturday. Was planning to do it next week but then suddenly Ayush called me up and we moved. It was damn tiring. I had slept at 3am that day cause I was writing a poem (for a game) for our friends and family day to be held on Sunday. And to add to it my maid woke me up at 6:30. so basically I gymed, set up stuff for the demos the next day, made releases for work and shifted house. As I already mentioned it was damn tiring.

Then suddenly I decided to do some shopping. Don't know why :-) As I said I went shopping at 'Bangalore Central' since I was in the vicinity. I had gone to HSBC for some work but the bank was closed and so I went shopping or more like window shopping. So I'm like looking around for jeans and one of the sales guy comes up to help me. I tell him that I'm just looking around and that I don't need his help. Then this sales girl comes up to help me and I tell her the same thing. So I'm finally picking up jeans to try out. I'm just picking up colors I like. The sales guy comes back. I tell him to give me sizes 32 and 34. He looks thru the stuff and picks it up for me. I take about 4 jeans and go to try them on. I'm in the changing room trying out stuff wondering why the things don't fit that well. It was a bit loose at the sides too. One was some comfort fit and another a boot cut fit. Hmmm I just looked for colors and forgot about the fit and stuff. Well I was tired. I tried on the other ones and they seemed to fit a bit better. Decided to come out and looked in the bigger mirror. There were some ppl waiting to enter to try out stuff. including a girl.. then I go back in and decide and I don't want to buy them....

Finally I look at one of the label on the jeans where it says its a 'girls' comfort fit... "Damn that sales guy gave me a girls's jeans!!!".... I look at the other labels... all were girls jeans... "Ooooh my God!!!!" now I'm like cursing myself.... I go out and take the stuff to keep it back....the ppl were still waiting to go into the changing room. I start to wonder if they noticed the label. I go to the rack when I picked up the stuff and I look up.... Damn it was the girls section.... I didn't even notice that. The guys section was like just next to it... so I sheepishly look around and drop the jeans and walk (tried to run) away totally embarrased... Gawd :-)..... The sales ppl must have had a good laugh... so looking at the bright side maybe I made some ppl laugh yesterday...