Odyssey

07 Oct, 2008

Eat, Pray, Love

Posted by: Gargs In: Life and Personal

Riding the Metro to work and I see two females just in my car reading the book. I wonder what makes it so popular even after so much time.

28 Aug, 2008

MacJournal

Posted by: Gargs In: Life and Personal

I just bought MacJournal through the Macupdate Promo. This post was created using the software.

My dad’s very brief interview on the competency of the State owned BSNL in the face of increasing competition from newer private telecom operators was featured on BBC World’s weekly ‘India Business Report’ program.

Fast forward to the 40 second marker for the actual interview.

Of course, since it was meant to be only a segment in the 30 minute program, the entire half an hour long interview could not be included, but was used as a build-up for the story.

Next goal – Me on CNN Business!

17 Aug, 2008

A very disquieting scene

Posted by: Gargs In: Life and Personal

I consider myself to be a relatively compassionate and generous person, which is why it doesn’t take a whole lot for me to lose faith in humanity, occasionally.

Last week, on my way back from work, I witnessed two young women feeding birds right outside the homeless shelter, with the desolate watching them hopelessly, unable to digest the mockery. The pigeons were being fed fresh crackers as every other human, even the ones in their cars, just watched the girls frolic around, unaware of their surroundings. It was possibly the happiest moment in one of their lives, too, as could be concluded from her cheery laughter and exclamations.

Were they just suffering from disconnection with reality?

26 Jul, 2008

Randy Pausch did not die today

Posted by: Gargs In: Life and Personal

No, Randy Pausch did not die today. He’s still alive and breathing in the hearts and minds of millions of people all over the world who suddenly stopped and took time to reconsider the purpose of their lives, after watching his ‘Last Lecture’.

He will continue to live for a long time. Maybe even more so than the average human.

I am sure you have already watched his lecture online, and read the other hundreds of articles about him, but I just want to say what these other articles/critiques fail to mention. What Randy did was not anything complex; he did not prophesize something deeply philosophical, nor did he even remotely aim at radically changing values.

Instead, through his lecture and the subsequent book, Randy actually trivialized what most leaders teach. It isn’t about working hard or making sacrifices. It’s about just doing what you enjoy, and keeping your dreams and hopes alive during the journey. Randy taught the distraught youth that it is easy and possible to get what you want. You don’t have to do anything more than just want something, really bad. There is no point in making sacrifices.

What made the ‘Last Lecture’ a phenomenon wasn’t the depth of this person’s message, rather the simplicity of it. Here was a man who admits to failing at almost everything his first time around, but never gives up hope. Almost all of us associate ourselves with these kind of experiences in life. Failure is just fate’s way of making sure that it doesn’t favor someone who doesn’t deserve it.

I read his book before I watched the lecture of his video, and it makes me sad yet happy every time I recall the video. I am happy that I still have time to pursue my goals.

Rest in peace, Randy. You compressed more than a century’s worth of wonderful experiences and achievements into a life smaller than 50 years.

See you tomorrow.

Writing this on my iPhone using the just-released WordPress app. I am impressed!

It’s not uncommon to run into a blog belonging to a very young software whizz these days and just not being amazed at how kids these days are able to get up to speed with what took us ages. Of course, this sort of generational gap is always going to exist. As we advance our knowledge of science and technology, the baseline for mere awareness is only going to keep rising. For example, a few decades ago, calculus was an advanced topic, but now it is a staple ingredient in the Mathematics curriculum of an average middle school student.

The point of this post is to mull over how age and experience really play a role in how you look at these things. For example, I saw this site today. It belongs to a passionate 18 year old open source software developer who is most probably a college student. From a technical standpoint, he is definitely more than qualified to do the jobs of some very experienced people I have met. He is on the cutting edge of his technical spectrum, so to speak. When I was growing up and in college, I was like that, too. I used to work on websites as a hobby, write interesting C programs in my summers, and just generally mess around with a lot of software code. With the rise of the Internet, though, it has become all too easy, and sometimes expected of you, to showcase your passion and talent for the rest of the world. This is an example of the raised threshold/baseline I mentioned earlier. So, is the kid exceptional? In comparison to some other peers in college, sure, but being on the cutting edge and passionate is expected from you. When you are grown up, this is how you look at it.

When you’re 18 years old, you just want to do things because they’re fun, and not because you realize that being passionate is ultimately going to help your overall perception of your future career. Youngsters these days have this wonderful opportunity to be taken seriously, to be able to start open source projects that have the potential to be used by a lot of people, to be able to contribute in the same vein as other more experienced people, thanks to the Internet. So, for someone like me, while it was considered exceptional to just be passionate about programming languages or writing hobby programs, I think the bar has been raised quite a bit in the last two decades.

So, do you compete with these youngsters? Feel threatened? No.

These are just signs that the technology landscape is changing so quickly, and that is very good. What we could do, though, is align our passion with theirs and create synergies that would ultimately advance future technologies.

09 Jun, 2008

The Apple Hype Machine™

Posted by: Gargs In: Tech and Culture

Today, Apple introduced the next version of the iPhone, labeled ‘iPhone 3G’. As always, the fanboys were intrepidly forecasting the new set of features and capabilities that this new gadget would include. For the most part, they got what they wanted, and coming from Apple, I think it is a good deal.

A list of what’s ‘new’ – 3G support, cheaper, built in assisted GPS.

Every other new feature is a software feature that would be provided free of cost to the people who already bought the first version a year ago. I am currently beta testing the new firmware, and it is a step up, definitely.

What amazes me though, is the blind trust some people have for Apple. Steve Jobs compared the browser on the iPhone with browsers on phones that were at least 2 years old. He completely side-stepped the modern browsers on Windows Mobile, or even BlackBerry devices. For the intelligent consumer, it doesn’t mean a thing, but for the average dumb/brainwashed consumer, Jobs’ word is gospel. The Safari browser on the iPhone is NOT at all the fastest mobile browser.

Another example – as is the case with all things Apple, there were rumors floating around just before the keynote about the new model having various features like MMS (which has been a staple feature of all phones since the early 2000′s), video conferencing, higher resolution camera, better Bluetooth support, etc. But, ultimately, nothing of that sort came even close to being announced. People are happy, nonetheless, or rather the fanboys are.

On top of this ludicrousness, ATT thought it would be a good time to bump the rate of the data plan from $20 a month to $30 a month. This makes an entry level plan for the iPhone cost approximately $70 a month before taxes. And I thought that communications was getting cheaper everyday.

I love Apple’s products just because they tend to be minimalist, but I have a major grudge against their false, unethical, inaccurate marketing. I also abhor fanboys who have every possible justification for skipped basic functionality.

That said, I am going to create an interesting app one day for the iPhone :)

22 May, 2008

How much is your time worth?

Posted by: Gargs In: Economy|Politics|Travel

Just heard on the news about a free gas card promotion that was sponsored by Verizon Yellow Pages at 25 locations in the US. The first 200 cars to line up at each of these locations received a free $40 gas card today.

People started lining up at around 10 PM last night to be able to receive the free gas money. In an age where people camp out for hours to get hold of a gaming console, why I am not surprised?

27 Apr, 2008

Google Summer of Code

Posted by: Gargs In: Economy|Tech and Culture

I have nothing but praise for Google’s Summer of Code initiative. This has been going on for a few years now. Basically, Google supports various open source projects by giving them a miniscule financial assistance, but paid developers for about two months in the summer. Everyone benefits. The mentors get project recognition and talent; the students get a well paid ($4500 currently) summer job and Google’s seal of approval for their skills.

I wish something like this existed when I was a financially struggling graduate student at a time when the economy was near its worst in the not-so-distant past. That would have saved me from slaving for unappreciative educators in the university system who take pride in misguiding their students with fake promises of an assistantship in the next semester. I could have used those summers, instead, to do what I love doing – write code, and get paid doing it.

Check out this year’s wonderful projects at Google Code.

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