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Mon, 08 May 2006:

This one's for all the times I saw an eskimo on a sled with the banner North Pole or Bust in Miami. Actually that was just a cartoon - but that's the point. Ever wonder why it's funny ? Actually I have a pageful below that will do nothing explain it. But I think you'll understand why I hold back no smiles. This is actually a page from my life, carefully bookmarked (disclaimer: some names changed for more hilarity).

The problem with opportunities is that when they do knock, they're likely to press alarm bells rather than door bells. As articulated so clearly by Wally - there are no problems, only issues, challenges and opportunities. So, what does that have to do with my life ? Well, I was the neighborhood Wally when I used to work in Initech.

I used to show up at work a bit after nine. Yes, 9 AM and that's late by Initech standards. I'd walk upto to my desk with a cup of coffee as if I just nipped downstairs for a coffee. I never carried a bag and hardly ever an umbrella. I'd imagine somebody would be hard pressed to figure out whether I just walked in to work or whether I'm relaxing after my early morning bit of work. My job involved taking a mobile phone, flashing the latest build and literally key mash my way into the bugzilla records. I was a QE and they were wasting a really quality engineer by making him poke a few buttons. The managers knew it, but were really powerless to pull in a kid out of college into writing embedded software (*oooh*).

So the problems started in the April of 2004, when 25-odd people from the 34 member development team gave in their resignations. What I was doing at the moment was having an argument with my technical manager about my leave, without knowing about all the hush hush resignations. I basically had put in more than a month's salary into my round-trip (non-refundable) plane tickets to Trivandrum and wouldn't stand to any level of bullying about the leave which I'd applied for two months ago. So I left office to spend an enjoyable week at home.

I returned to a chaotic office. Almost every good developer in the team is on notice. At that point hardly anyone cares about the project to waste their time on it. Here's where the management decisions kick in with true force :- We need to hire more people. Since they've already sold the IP for the project, management is now being paid for time rather than code output - there's no motivation to hire excellent developers. Solution, throw the bunch of freshers who've been sitting around on to the code. The more time they take to do things, the more money the account pays. And I was one among them.

That, my friends, is how I became a developer in profession. The loss of a significant amount of technical talent in one place, means a significant opportunity to people sitting in the benches elsewhere. That might sound too simplified, but there are two unspoken assumptions. The new guys on the bench have to be really good and the management has to have enough confidence in them (or shouldn't care which way) to throw these kids at the hardcore work. On a normal day, that'd be a big risk - but during these few desperate hours, this could be the last gambit.

It might just be my big empty head, but I keep hearing echoes.

The solution of problems is the most characteristic and peculiar sort of voluntary thinking.
                -- William James

posted at: 08:46 | path: /observations | permalink | Tags: , ,

Looking at this world is like seeing a movie. The events are dramatic, the villains evil and the heroes just. But recently the script's gone awry - villains are missing. I think we need a Goliath for all the Davids this century has given birth to. So let me introduce to you the third part of the trilogy - Gulf War III. And this time it isn't personal.

Basically, the political actions of the last decade can be reduced to a single line. If you have nukes, the world's policeman would negotiate and embargo you rather walk in with their marines. But assuming you forgot to buy the old russian nukes and those are hardly the stuff that could go off without lightnink and mad scientist included, you'd get stomped over by U N inspectors and then by the afore said marines.

Now that the oil-rich lands of Iraq are ruled by Freedom, we have basically run out of targets which are non-nuclear. Maybe we could try to nail that monster behind 9/11, hunt him out of home, bust every bolt hole and shoot him like a dog ? Or maybe we could bring freedom and peace to the war ravaged lands of Africa but where's the oil, bauxite or natural gas to actually require such a peace keeping effort ?

Anyway, there's enough artillery sitting somewhere in the Persian Gulf to turn Iran into dust. And it is even parked right next to the border that it only takes a hand wave to get the motorcade moving. But whose hand would do the waving and exactly who has his (even her) hands up this particular sock puppet ?

Somebody (yes, a US president himself) said that "Speak softly and carry a big stick". He was right about not hitting anybody in particular. The world will sit idly by watching one getting cut out of the herd and killed, just like all the buffalo on the veldt. Except when you destroy rather than defeat will this world be truly afraid enough to team up and send a message back.

Twice in this world's history have nuclear weaponry been used on innocent civilians. Let this jaded generation wake up to the truth and I don't think anything would do but the glowing horror of the mushroom cloud. So, I say - go ahead and nuke Iran.

Yes, this script's missing a villain.

"I say we take off; nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure."
      - Corporal Hicks, in "Aliens"

posted at: 08:11 | path: /rants | permalink | Tags: , ,

When we last left off, we were talking about matchpot and the soon to be world championships. But what matchpot lacks in cerberal and social subtlety, Mafia brings out in potfuls. Basically the game is about killing innocent villagers, whether you are the mafia or one of the lynch mob yourself. I was introduced to this game when we were all sitting around in our hotel rooms in Thrissur. The real interesting part is not the game in itself, but how it lets (or in fact forces) you to study other people under a microscope.

After the first few games where Mafia won hands down, slowly the villagers started to pick up on the non-visual cues as well. It was quite interesting to see people trying to be overclever and bluff with poker faces. Also several interesting observations, some particularly personal, were made by a lot of people. I did get a quite inside picture of a couple of people's minds and it is terrifying what some people are actually capable of, compared to your mental estimate of their trick quotient. On top of that, it is also a measure of how successfully you can con other people into changing their opinions. On the receiving side, mafia has a way of exposing your gullibility in a painfully obvious way.

An important lesson the game has taught me is about myself. I found out to my surprise that I think a lot more clearly when I am not formulating a point to present. Being dead in the game gives you a totally different perspective which you are unlikely to get while you are talking. Sometimes just having to sit and watch the entire crowd ignore the clinical quality of the strategy is just way too frustrating. Masterpeices of strategy are completely lost to the villagers who're more concerned about staying alive to the next round rather than bringing the mafia down. Exposed are the simplified versions of our daily grind, where the evil go un-punished and good are targeted. Religions have been based on much less than fixing this (later, much later).

Nobody has seen me as the Mafia yet, but I'm better at finding things out than hiding them.

Fanatics are often blinded in their thoughts.
Leaders are often blinded in their hearts.
          -- Dune

posted at: 07:46 | path: /fun | permalink | Tags: , ,