Restarting the writing?

Am writing after a very long break – a break in which finding the mental energy to write a blog post was tough to come by. A lot of things have happened in the personal life – something I generally avoid writing on the blog. Suffice to say that I am amazed at what I pulled off. All thanks to my family.

The last year also saw me travel a bit more than usual – something I love to do. Nothing like slinging a backpack, taking a map and walking around (walking – yes).

My geographic location has changed, my work location has changed, what I do at work has changed, my relationship status has changed, the number of wheels I own has changed, my waist-line has changed. Quite a few changes ! A couple of things have remained constant though – am still not very good at staying in touch, am still a big fan of filter coffee, still have a couple of close friends (go to point 1 please), still read books (err..what?), still trying to find ways to ‘switch-off’ from work.

In the last year, I did read quite a few books and I am not going to write my usual reviews of them. Just a list of them and what I think about them

  1. A mathematician plays the stock market – 6/10. Just because he explains puts/shorts nicely. Otherwise, mostly rambling about WorldCom
  2. Making the world work better – corporate marketing at its best. A 3/10. Didn’t purchase this book though, a freebie kindly given to me by IBMers at Gartner 2011
  3. The man who knew infinity – 6/10. An autobiography of Ramanujan – and not much maths in it. Yes, it is indeed possible !
  4. Who says elephants can’t dance – 7/10. Clear, concise, frank narrative – especially relevant if you are trying to revamp a large organization

And what about what is happening now

  1. I work with an amazingly driven team – and am working very hard to ensure that we hire the right kind of people – which is not an easy task, BTW.
  2. Am learning more about how to build a great team – am making mistakes (hopefully not bad ones) and learning.

    Took quite a fall didn’t we master Bruce. And why do we fall sir? So that we might learn to pick ourselves up

Well,  I think this is enough for a restart post. For the couple of people who do read what I write – thank you.

 

Computers for kids

If you have any spare computer peripherals and live in Hyderabad in India, there is one organization who might be interested in using those peripherals for furthering computer literacy for kids. C4K-India is an organization which will assemble computers and donate them to schools that need them. I found out about them on NGOPost and contacted them recently (as I was in Hyderabad). They responded and were courteous to come by and pick up the peripherals. I chatted with their secretary Balaji and he told me that they are using the computers to donate them to an orphanage. They had already assembled some machines for a school near hi-tech city in Hyderabad and the orphanage is the second recipient.

One of the practical problems he mentioned, was the screening of potential recipients. If the members of C4K were to impart computer courses to the kids in a school, how do they find out that the school is not charging the kids for the courses without the knowledge of C4K ? He also mentioned of a case where they rejected a potential recipient as they felt that they were not genuine enough.

This initiative by the youngsters (some of them are IT professionals in Hyderabad and volunteering for C4K) apart from being very specific in its mission also seems to have a group of enthusiastic volunteers. I shall be following their progress in the days to come. One of the suggestions I gave them was to write more about their progress on their blog. An active blog would indicate to the donors that the organization is doing fine, thereby fuelling more interest. Another thing I asked them to do is to create banners which people might have on their sites. When you are a NGO, there is a tight budget and viral marketing is possibly the best bet. When I asked Balaji about financial donations he said that they were not taking any money as that would mean more management of reserves (they are a registered society, which means there is even more onus on financial management). So, for now it is computers and peripherals which they are interested in.

So, if you are in Hyderabad and have spare computer peripherals please get in touch with C4K. The peripherals might end up in helping a few kids.  And also, if you relate to their cause, please check with them to volunteer to do the groundwork in evaluating the potential recipient. And do spread the word in your organization

Nagumomu ganaleni by MS Subbulakshmi

One of my favourite Tyāgarāja krithis is Nagumomu ganaleni. You can get the lyrics of it at Prof. Shivkumar Kalyanaraman’s wonderful site (check the krithis section). And if you are particularly lazy, here is the link or this.

For a long while I was looking for the the diva’s rendition of this krithi. I am a die hard fan of hers, actually fan is not the right word. I will not listen to any other Carnatic vocalist; and even if I do, I am not in the plane which amma can send me to. Part of it is due to early morning playback on cassettes (yeah waaaay back !!!!!) when we were kids, and I guess it made a very strong impression.

Anycase, I was delighted when I found out that YouTube had the diva’s rendition. Saturday 7 in the morning, I am up, and listening to her ! The sun is not going to be up for another 40 minutes at the very least and I seem to have a long playlist to keep me company. Oh well, I need to go to work today !!! Dang 🙁

And in case you want to listen it from here – here it is

Hope you enjoy it too ! I am going to collect all of the MS’s audio on YouTube (and other places) and put it up here. If not anything else, it will be my bookmark 😉

Update: I was ready to post this and realised that my blog host is down 🙁 So, if you see a difference in time – don’t look at me 🙂

Digital camera review for INR 10k

I started thinking of getting a decent digital camera for myself. I am an unabashed beginner into the world of photography and digital photography in general. Most of my earlier stints with cameras have been with the traditional variety, and generally point and shoot digital cameras. That said, I think I have a decent eye to somehow capture the right moment with the right environ. This is not a self-styled compliment, but something that I have heard from others. I have a baseline of the features that I am looking for in the camera that I want to buy. Also, I am using DP Review as my reference point. Might help if I stick to one place and find the features and then find the review of the sifted cameras. Ok, onto the features I am looking for:

  • Point and shoot – I am a beginner, and auto modes will be helpful initially. Also, this might give me a good measure into how serious I want to get about shooting pictures
  • <350 USD. Price is an important factor, as I really don’t have deep pockets
  • >6.0 effective MegaPixels. I have seen the pictures from a 5MP camera, and I have decided that I want atleast a 7.0 MP camera. And yes, I do understand that the image size is not the entire thing in getting a rich image.
  • A model that was released in the last one year. This is to avoid any discontinuation problems, for atleast 1-2 years
  • Preferably from Sony/Canon/Minolta/Olympus. I personally like Canon, but I have seen good image quality from Sony too
  • International warranty – I might be getting the camera from outside India, so this will be very much a desired quality

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Trekking trip to Nagarhole

As there was a long weekend, myself and a few friends decided to go trekking somewhere. A little digging around showed that there were companies which were into this business. After a few confirmations and checking we decided to head to NagarHole. CARE Nagarhole trip seemed ok to us. First the summary – its worth going to the trek, and you get your money’s worth from the trip. The only gripe that I have is the transportation – they have awfully small buses to ferry people for the 7 hour journey.

We assembled at the city railway station, and to my surprise, I found that there were lot of people who signed up for the trip. The journey was to take us to Nagarhole base camp. As I said before, the buses were really crampy, otherwise it was a decent ride. Once at the base camp, we were asked to fresh up. The infrastructure there is decent. They have clean toilets and rooms to keep your luggage. One of the major concern for any traveler is the hygiene factor, and I must commend the CARE adventure folks for their work. Once we were fresh (we were suggested not to take bath !) we had breakfast and we started for the trek. The trek was fairly mild – its an easy trek by all standards. The human made pathway meandering through the hills is simple enough to tread. The greenery was definitely great, though I am sure it will be a lot more beautiful post-monsoon. Given the high temperatures, most of the mountain was covered with golden grass. If you are planning to go for the trip, make sure to carry lots of water.

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On Vacation…

I am on vacation in Hyderabad, and so the fewer posts. I need to find time between lazing, eating and sleeping to write something, and it seems there is hardly anytime left for that 😉 There are lots of changes in the city and having visited few areas which I visited after a span of over 4 years, I was shocked. Everything has changed – a lot. Hmm..change indeed is constant. I am right now sitting before the PC and wondering what to do !

The loss of the PC !

Ian Flemming wrote Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action, and it can’t be any more true in my case. Both my modem and my PC gave up on me within a span of 3 days. Two weeks ago, after a week of hectic work, on a rainy night, I wanted to check my mail at home, and turn on the modem – No dial tone. Cursing and grumbling, I lodged a complaint with the BSNL folks. They were indeed prompt (surprise !!!) and figured that the phone line was proper, and may be something was wrong with my modem – greaaat ! Thankfully D-Link has a service center in Bangalore, and it was a week before I could give my modem to be repaired. Disaster, it seems was not yet over.
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Freedom Jam 2005

I went to the Freedom Jam which was postponed to yesterday. It is an open air, free for all, music event wherein bands showcase their musical talents.All the performances are their own compositions (or may include other compositions once in a while).
Even though the organizers mentioned the time to start as 1500hrs, therewas nothing happening at that time. One of the first bands to perform were the Liquid Groove. The compositions were good. Their songs Dreams and At Stake were good. And before you brandish this event as a rock event withpeople head banging, let me also mention the classical arena. There were three stages wherein different styles of music were being performed.Though towards the end, it was rock – in various flavors in all the three.
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GA for Engineering Optimization – Part II

I didn’t have enough time to write a detailed account of my visit to IIT Kanpur and the KANGAL for the short course. The Part 1 promised more details , and I hope to write them here. Also would be the details of my trip to Kanpur and my short, 2 day visit to Delhi.

The SpiceJet flight from Bangalore to Delhi was pleasant. SpiceJet is one of the economy airlines introduced in the country, though I didn’t get my tickets in any economical price 🙁 A tip for those wanting larger legroom (like me). When choosing the seat number, choose the seats near the emergency exits – I found that they have a larger legroom than the other seats. The flight is around 4 hours – since there is a 45 minute stop at Pune. Oh, btw, Pune from above, in the rainy season looks very beautiful – lush and green. From Delhi, I caught a train to Kanpur. It is an overnight journey, and was there in Kanpur the next day morning. I had a cab waiting to drop me at IIT Kanpur.

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