Sep 27, 2010

Look what i found - Outlook lost its memory

I ran into an interesting thing while using MS Outlook at work today. I use Outlook 2007 but it seems outlook is either a female lying bout her age or it has lost its memory. I color marked an email today and in the header it said (colored by Outlook 2003 Red flag).


Anybody else notice this before?

Sep 22, 2010

One Year - Itz Goood

So i completed one full year at Cybage today. It's pretty much been awesome except a few (bad, major) hiccups.. and lately i've learnt to understand its not all my fault (it's an excuse, seabiscuit never used any).. To all those who've been close to me, you know how much i love that story and that horse and how much i use him as an excuse..

So life changed, lotsa horses runnin in front of me.. ran fast.. came ahead.. but laggin behind again.. I like to make myself believe i'm goin easy right now and lettim em all go ahead.. i'll be back into my own and surge ahead again for a photo finish.. It's now that i'm kinda realising that i mostly just ease up and run hard just a fraction of the time..

A promise is worthless if it's just a promise of greatness.. A lot of people have had faith in me and it's time i start learning the words "consistency", "motivation", "faith" and "ACTUALLY DELIVERING AND DOING WHAT I'M SUPPOSED TO".

Now there's a good chance that i'm not the real deal.. probably just a one hit wonder or something.. But tonight i'm not ready to accept that.. not gonna believe that.. it's always good to be reminded that you've hit some kinda milestone.. it reminds you of the big picture.. makes you think ahead.. motivates or depresses you.. but in the end it's your choice.. I still don't have any clear goal or plan.. but my dear friends.. i'm here to stay.. and i'm gonna start the sprint now.. so if you think this is the final stretch and i'm already out of the race think again.. i'm just starting to warm up.. hold on tight!!

Aug 26, 2010

Indori Tacos - Sindhi indori tries out mexican

I'm gonna try an experiment on my bowels and you dear readers, do not have to try this out (but for the gutsy ones and the ones who trust my cooking, please DO TRY THIS AT HOME).

Now we all have had tacos of various kinds at some point and they make for good quick delicious snacks. In a traditional taco you usually expect a tortilla that's either been fried or heated in a microwave in case of soft tacos, stuffed with a filling of shredded chicken, beef or pork, mixed together with salsa and/or baked beans, tomatoes onions and lettuce leaves and topped off with grated cheese. All that sounds mouth watering but I'm in a slight fix. It's late, I'm home alone, I'm hungry and i don't have the ingredients.

So here's how you do it. You'll need:
3 or 4 Papads पापड (depends on your appetite)
1 Cup Shredded Chicken ( if you don't have that just scramble a few eggs in the pan with a bit of salt)
3 or 4 Garlic Cloves
50 gms Ginger (just break off a small piece, I'm not sure how much it weighs)
3 or 4 Green Chillies
1 Lemon
1 Tomato
1 Onion
1 Cube of Cheese
Sev (Indoris, this is for you so feel free to add as much as you want)
Salt (as per taste)
Red Chili Powder (as per taste)

Now this is supposed to be a simple, quick, easy snack. So I'm gonna pick up my food processor and do this as quickly as i can and prepare the stuffing for my tacos. Here's what you have to do:

  • Put the garlic cloves, ginger, green chillies, tomato, onion, salt and red chili powder into the food processor. Squeeze the lime juice over this and add a little water and grind that up till it's chopped fine into an almost chutney texture.
  • Mix this almost chutney mix with the shredded chicken.
  • Grate the cube of cheese.

This next part is a little tricky and you may mess up a few papads so keep a few extra ones at hand. We have to cook the papad and bend it into a "U" shape just before it gets crispy with a pair of tongs. You can fry the papads in a little bit of oil and then just before they get crispy, bend them into a U. You can also heat them in the microwave for about 7 to 8 seconds, bend them into a U and then heat them again for like 10 seconds.

Once you have your U shaped papads, stuff them with 3 to 4 spoons of our mixture of chicken and chutney. Cover it with grated cheese and voila, you have your taco. This being an Indori taco, you can add as much "Sev" as you want to it and bite away. Bon appetit.

Note: If you try this out please do tell me about your experience in the comments.

Aug 3, 2010

Finding the ideal "Resource" for your team

DISCLAIMER: These are my personal views and in no way reflect my employer's views and policies. These views are based on varied experiences and things i've read throughout life and in no way are meant to reflect my opinions about my colleagues and workplace.

I used to get annoyed initially when i joined my job and people would refer to me as a "resource". I guess it goes away with time or may be as you move along and start refering to others as "resources", you start accepting it.

I never got around to interviewing a full time employee back when i was running my startup in indore so it's safe to say my interviewing/recruiting virginity was still intact when i joined my new company. I've figured there's no fixed set of steps or tests that let you evaluate the best member for your team. There are tried and tested methods out there but they are again based on different environments and that they would work well for your team, is just pure speculation.

I've "talked to" a few people as my manager calls it, in these last 8 months since i've joined this team and since i'm already known for not always being politically correct, i'll say that i've had a few good and bad experiences. I really wish i could find out how the people who brought me on feel.

The real problem i see with bringing a new member onto a team in big organizations is time. A few things to note before i make my point:

  • The recruitment wasn't necessarily done keeping your needs in mind.
  • You may have never talked to the person who went out and hired these new guys.
  • You can't even be sure if the person who hired a bunch of new guys did so after fully evaluating their capabilities, keeping the organization's need in mind at all times and with a non-biased view.
  • Every recruitment drive brings in more candidates than there is time for.
  • The candidate's authenticity can not be verified immediately.
  • The candates must be judged on 1 short interview and past experience (which you haven't yet verified) and you just don't get to find out if they can write any good code.
  • The candidate's interest are not necessarily known to the company and they may train him/her to fit their needs but you just end up with a confused disgruntled employee.
  • The department that initiates recruiting drives or allocates a new member to your team doens't necessarily understand your needs or the candidate's capabilities.
  • The resource allocation department is also under immense pressure as every day that an employee is on the bench is costing the organization dearly. This affects the way they allocate employees to the different teams adversely.
  • The team leads and managers get only a limited number of options, they must evaluate them in a short time and they don't get any trial runs. They must give a final yes or no very soon.

Keeping in mind that recruitment drives are a hectic and costly process, the area where we can actually improve is the allocation of these candidates to different teams once they've already been recruited. An employee on the bench won't cost you as much as a loss of a client or a law suit. Bear in mind, one weak link can affect the whole team and you can't afford to lose your best team members.

How would i rather do it?
  • Give the teams a change for a test run. You don't always need a guru. A keen programmer who's interested in your work and is a quick learner is usually always a good fit with the rest of the team. Give them a small test drive of your project with a tiny little mockup may be or just a small module under supervision.
  • Always, ALWAYS ask candidates to write code before you bring them on to the team.
  • Try and see if the employee's enthusiastic about the project rather than going for the one with more experience.
  • Ask about their contributions to other projects, specially open source projects as the transparency in such projects will help you evaluate their strengths and weaknesses.
  • If your team's small you'll need an all rounder. Even in the case where a new member's intended to replace an old one, you'll need an all rounder. Try and find a candidate who can fit in with the team with any role he/she is alloted. Give them varied tasks during the trial run.
  • Now i may be a little biased about this particular thing but i feel if the communication skills aren't up to the mark, try and avoid getting the employee onto the team. I guess that's too stringent and unhealthy but you should atleast make sure the candidate can communicate what they intend to, properly. Language, grammar, pronunciations and body language can always be worked on but they better be able to communicate or it's going to cost your team dearly. It'll lead to loss of time, short tempers and at times mistakes that will cost you many man hours to fix. Ask them to draft a few mails during the trial run, see how well they communicate with the rest of the team. If you have an offshore client, a good communicator will be a boon to your team.

Jun 30, 2010

Rainwater Harvesting – 9 Hours to Mahabaleshwar

So I recently tried to drive to and fro from Mahabaleshwar in my 11 yr old BMW. It was eight thirty in the morning on a Sunday and the weather was awesome and i thought what the heck, who takes a bus on a day like this right? The only problem, my Ram Pyari wasn’t up to it.

Now there’s a lot of things you can do to your old faithful car like drive it, race it, wash it, service it, talk to it at a lonely hill top. I’ve never done any of those. One thing you shouldn’t do to your old faithful car is neglect it. It’s a sacred bond and you don’t mess with such things. I learnt how to drive on that car for Pete's sake, it deserves better. By this time my folk who’re reading this are probably bursting a nerve but people listen, i honestly did keep an eye on the car and took good care of it. I used to check the battery water levels, the radiator coolant levels, the oil (it was in bad shape), the wheels, the belts, the brakes, and everything else from time to time except for a slight little problem, I did all this with the engine off. BAD IDEA.

Now in my defence, I usually just drive to my office and back everyday so that really doesn’t give you an inkling that may be your car’s fan’s not working so it’s heating up.

So anyways, I'm in the hills, climbing up slowly about 60 Kms out of pune and whoa, SMOKIN!!!! I pulled over on the side (where there was none) and got out to see all my car’s fluid draining away right in front of my eyes. I was in the middle of no where and had no idea what to do (since I'm the only non mechanical types in my family).

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So i started calling up these highway helpline people and they somehow knew it was me calling so they acted just like me. They didn’t freaking answer!! I called up dad and he told me to be patient and arrange for some water to top up the radiator once it’s cool. We got in touch with the Tata Motors help line and they said it’ll take them at least an hour and a half to get there so i also called up my usual mechanic and he very calmly told me to find a mechanic and ask him to connect my fan directly to the battery. He said it’ll cost like a couple of hundred rupees and I'll be able to drive back home easily. I decided to take dad’s word on this one and decided to wait for the towing people.

Now if normal people are planning a road trip alone, they’d carry water. Not me though. I opened the trunk and found empty bottles of water. So i figured I'll fill em up but the only problem was i was in the middle of nowhere. There’s lotsa things i love about living in Pune and one of them is the lovely sahyadri weather around the monsoons.

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There was water dripping from the rocks on the side and i didn’t have anything better to do so i started doing a bit of rainwater harvesting.

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I was stuck there for quite a while and both the bottles slowly filled up drop, by drop and turns out i actually had enough after a couple of hours.

The tow people came around after five hours since i got stuck and dropped me off at the next village called Vele in the foothills. I was starving so i really didn’t give much thought to how i would get to my destination and went to the next vada pav stall and hogged down four of them and man they never tasted better than they did that day. The stall owner told me i could get a ride to Mahabaleshwar right after i crossed the next bridge. He didn’t quite tell me how far the bridge was so i started walking down, humming along, taking in the sights.

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I guess after three kilometres or so i reached the bridge where the taxi guy was demanding a ridiculous 800 bucks to drive 40 Kms. I sat in the normal shared taxi which was supposed to drop me off 12 Kms to Wai.

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I reached wai and ate a couple of more vada pavs at the bus stop. Mom and dad picked me up from there and we finally drove down to Mahabaleshwar a full nine hours after I'd started.

The rest of the trip was pretty eventless and a whole lot of fun. Lovely weather and some time with folk. That i think I'll reserve for another post.

May 26, 2010

RiTek Stuff

Well I decided to keep my geeky stuff away from this blog so I have a separate one.

I just added a new post about the upcoming phone battle at http://ritekstuff.blogspot.com/2010/05/phone-wars.html.

Dont laugh at the "RiTek".

May 25, 2010

Two States

No.. It's got nothing to do with Chetan Bhagat's latest true/fiction book..

It's about my trip to Raipur last weekend.. And no.. It's not about Maharashtra and Chhatisgarh either..

PROLOGUE
After coming back home from Mihir's latest debacle involving the cycle waala, i went back to the office to print my tickets for my journey in the morning (boss please don't mind, I also really did send out all the required mails). I was travelling to Raipur in Chhatisgarh. The Indigo flight 6E 134 (they try and make it sound like "sexy" when they make announcements) to Nagpur was scheduled to leave Pune international airport at 4:45 AM. I, with my engineering college roots still intact, decided to reach the airport at 3:45 AM despite the text message I received telling me to reach atleast 2 hours prior to departure to avoid congestion at the airport. Now honestly, how much rush do you expect at such an hour at Pune airport? Well apparently, A LOT!!

PUNE
Pune airport's efficiency left me flabbergasted. They manage to send out 6 flights from 4:45 to 4:55 AM and have a boundless queue for scanning your baggage and security checks. It's filled with a mixture of IT professionals, banking professionals, frequent flying business tycoons and enterprising housewives blowing up their husband's money by convincing them that this meeting or kitty party will help them boost their cosmetics sale and how it's absolutely necessary for them to fly as trains wouldn't reach on time and their arthritis affected joints would be in a lot of pain. The good part is they're all in a very good mood. They just love to not sleep the whole night, leave their house in the wee hours of the morning, not have their cup of tea or coffee or their favorite form of caffeine which they so desparately need, with groggy eyes and cranky moods, they're all impressively happy. They're fighting over who's flight has been already called for boarding and who's flight is scheduled to fly early and why they should be allowed to move up the queue. I couldn't help supress a smile amidst all these requests in Marathi, Hindi and English. What I found so funny was that in a such a fast developing city, in an international airport, underneath all the polish and sophistication we portray, we indians still manage to find reasons to look down upon others, think that we are the only ones who understand what we're saying in our mother tounge, throw wrappers and other trash right where we're standing, ogle at quite appropriately dressed foreigners like they're circus jokers and still argue and fight over the pettiest of things. I barely made it to the check in counter in time and managed to reach the boarding gate as the last call was resounding over the bustle of all my "impressively happy" travelling companions. I can't say I remember the sunrise or anything else from the flight as it's very difficult to register memories with your eyes closed and mind in a state of catalepsy. In my dreams, I was smiling. It was a long awaited and much needed break.

NAGPUR
An announcement by our jovial captain(he was actually happy, not faking it, I guess flying at 30,000 feet does that) resurrected me. Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Nagpur international airport was welcoming me. I decided to walk to the gate rather than take the bus again with the happy travellers. I'd heard Nagpur airport is pretty good and pretty nicely developed. I planned to spend two and a half hours at the airport before I boarded 2850 Pune Bilaspur Express to Raipur. With hopes of a much needed sumptious breakfast and a steaming hot cup of tea, I entered the gates and was greeted by... NOTHING... I comforted myself that it's just the baggage claim area and beyond the conveyor belts, Chef Ramsay is waiting for me with a smile on his face and an All English Breakfast on the plates. I collected my bag and walked ahead to realise that I reached the exit. There was really NOTHING in the arrival area of Nagpur airport. The departure area is pretty nice though (which I found out on the way back). The airport is actually pretty nice, clean, well managed and secure with Adam Gilchrist, Rohit Sharma, Andrew Symonds and the rest of the Deccan Chargers gang smiling at you from various directions welcoming you to their newly adopted home.

"A hungry man is not a free man" - Adlai E. Stevenson. I weighed my options, sitting in a cool, clean, empty, air conditioned airport lounge hungry, or, waiting at the hot, crowded, messy, railway station with a nice breakfast. I paid the ridiculously overpriced taxi (Ganesh Bhai) Rs. 300 to drive me to the railway station 12 Kms. away. The drive was nice and Nagpur looked beautiful and it seemed every building or school's name in the city started with Vidarbha. I wondered how we always manage to make a small community within a community and what would happen if disputes like Telangana would ever crop up over here.

I reached the Nagpur railway station and was again left flabbergasted by the sudden contrast. I'd just been driven through a beautiful city to reach its most crowded and disorganised center. I wheeled my bag through a voluntary x-ray security check (yes.. thats right.. i said voluntary.. you can just walk right by and the cop wont ask you a thing.. but it works because all the people are so excited at the sight of the machine they actually queue up behind the monitor once they load their bags on the belt). I asked the officer on duty where the cloak room and after a minute of thinking and "unnnnnn" she pointed towards the right. I thanked her and started off in that direction when she screamed out again and asked me to stop. I got worried thinking there was something illegal in my bag and felt a sudden fear creep up my spine in this new place but she just pointed left and said the new cloak room's over there. I thanked her again and found the cloak room to keep my bag. After calling out politely 5 times (surprising i was so patient considering my state of hunger but i guess the place just scared me), the manager on duty finally stopped discussin the morning tea with his colleague and gave me my receipt. I was STARVING...



I looked around and found Comesum. Now comesum is a nice reputed chain and I had faith since I'd always enjoyed the experience at Nizamuddin and Pune stations. Needless to say, i was once again amazed. I saw the most limited menu i've ever seen at a comesum and it was open, dusty, hot with no form of cooling what so ever. I paid at the counter and walked over to the manager in the red shirt behind the counter. I noticed his eyes were "redder" than his shirt from the remnants of last night or probably morning's ganja, booze or his preference of high in his veins. Delegation had a whole new meaning for me as soon as he took the receipt from my hand. Exact words - Manager: "Jai singh, ye order lo... Ram, Jai Singh kahaan hai.. achhe ye order le"... Ram - "Aye Santosh, ek pav bhaji de, abe juice counter pe kaun hai??".. Santosh- "Aye Atul.. ek pav bhaji de... saheb juice counter udhar hai"... As i moved to the juice counter, five more ambitious employees contributed enthusiastically to my Pav Bhaji. At the juice counter i called out for five minutes with no response and the manager in the red shirt just kept looking away. A short female in denim shorts and a red shirt came with a receipt for cold coffee to the juice counter as well and suddenly the manager shouted out and there was complete silence. He screamed till someone came to the counter even if it wasn't his job and politely turned to the female asked her for the receipt. He screamed for the cold coffee again and as soon as the woman turned he checked her out thrice from head to toe before finally turning to me and asking me for my receipt again. It was one of the funniest meals of my life.

RAIPUR
The train was an hour late but I whiled my time talking to a bunch of frustrated banking professionals warily discussing their upcoming appraisal. The train pulled in to the station and as soon as i stepped outside I knew that I was gonna melt and my remains would evaporate in this city.

I saw my brother and his fiance smiling at me as Prashant bhaiya (bhabhi's cousin) swiftly snatched my bag and started leading us towards the car. This was the beginning of the overwhelming welcome and hospitality I was to receive in this city.

Ever wondered how you can love someone so much that you can kill them? I'll describe a simple way to do that. Ask them to sit down and start with the snacks and say you'll join them for lunch. Then go on serving them atleast 5 different types of snacks. If they object, tell them you had to fly all the way to Goa to get the potatoes so all your effort would be in vain if the food was wasted. Then serve them lunch. Cook all kinds of meat possible and all possible side dishes conceivable. Ensure that they eat atleast 10 Rotis and take a full bowl of rice. Just when they think the meal is over, get the sweet lassi(s) out and now it's ok to get rid of the fresh lime and other drinks you'd served earlier. Once the guest is halway through the glass of lassi, get the desserts out. Keep atleast two types of desserts and make sure you tell them that someone special from the household has made the dish all by themselves so it would be rude to not have it. By now I assure you, your guest is on the brink and if you even mention so much as having a cup of water they'll die. If you let them be they might survive for you to do the whole thing all over again the next day.

As you can guess i went through this but to tell you the i loved every moment of it.

We went driving round the city after that and suddenly i realized why all my friends had warned me about this city. The streets were swarming with people and the heat was as good as it used to be in Panipat. The next day we were going to one of the malls for a bit of shopping and on the way we stopped at a railway crossing. I'd heard from my brother about it but nothing could have made me believe what i saw next. The train's driver stopped the train just before the crossing. He got out with the red and green flags and waved them to himself probably. He stopped the traffic and closed the gate. He then proceeded back to the train with another wave of the flag and started the train again. Once he'd crossed the gate he stopped the train and got down again. He came back to the gate, opened it up, waved the flag, walked back to the train and drove off. He was the driver, the gate keeper, the station master and whatever railway jobs you can conceive off, a true one man army. Unbelievable, check out the video below.



It was a fun trip and this blog post has already been delayed too much but all i can tell you is that everything around has two different states, on and off, god and bad. The cities i'd seen on this trip were true examples of how we people are and how we live, what we show and what we do. I love India.

Apr 10, 2010

Age and Speed..

Age 11
I drive my dad's car (Maruti 800) and bang it into our gate

Age 14
I officially learn how to drive the car and drive impeccably with no accidents (touch wood, specially with the races with aman)

Age 15
I get a two wheeler (Honda Activa) and again, drive real nice.. no accidents (touch wood)

Age 16 
I'm sitting behind my good friend Nikhil roaming around on his kinetic.. WHAM!! i fly over the divider..

Age 17
Kuky bangs a buddha going at 90.. I act budhdha and try and manage everything..

Age 20
I drive half way to karnal and then sit pillion with Ashish on his bike (Hero Honda Karizma).. WHAM!! i fly into the back of a truck

Age 22 (today)
Mihir bangs a budhdha going at 60 (or so he says).. I being the real budhdha, manage everything..

Moral of the story
On the time axis, my speed (boyishness, rebel, fun), down..
My speed of getting older, way up..
Me posting such a thing, i'm getting really boring

Apr 9, 2010

Renovatio

Back when I started my 7th semester at Panipat (2008) I started this blog for my Final Year Project thinking i'll post all the details and challenges i face in making the project. Turns out i wrote the first post and never wrote after that (had quite a few life changing experiences). The project went well and i had too much fun throughout the year and hence the zero posts. I deleted that post today, the blog is no more bout that project.

I am as confused as any other 22 year old out there today if not more. Ok, well i am more confused than the rest i admit. We all have seen a phase in life where we reach the stage of 1 brilliant idea/sec. it all seems so clear with every subsequent brilliant idea that i end up planning everything and doing nothing till the next idea captivates me.

This blog shall map out all my musings and brilliant ideas henceforth and i will be regular with my postings (new idea and plan). The blog's been reborn and hence the new name "Renovatio".

Everyone's welcome to mock and have a good laugh. अतिथि देवो भव!