A Quote, after a long time.

A few friends were having a discussion on modesty and my opinion was called for. This is what I had to say:

I don’t blow my own trumpet. Never. There are people who say things about me, though. So I feel compelled to correct them every now and then so that What They Say Is What I Am (TM).

Some people label me immodest.

update: Some background info added. In all modesty, a few people thought this post sounded arrogant and they were quick to point out that I really am not. I thought labelling this post as ‘humour’ would suffice…

Quote by Nat Friedman

I recently got to meet Nat Friedman of Gnome fame. Thanks Moshe for the opportunity.

While Moshe and Nat did most of the talking (about entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship), I just kept listening and learning. I had an interesting story to mention, though. A couple of ex-colleagues from Codito had witnessed a live coding session on-stage by Miguel and Nat, and have come out impressed by their style.

I got to hear the story behind such sessions. Nat had this to say (not the exact words, I’ve sadly forgotten them):

“What I’ve come to know is that in India, you can actually get a degree in computers without actually doing a lot of coding”

I just kept laughing as this was the reality! Back in college, there were a few who really liked the subjects and who liked to code. The others coded just to get through the exams (and in cases, managed to get through without even coding).

Nat says he’s never had as many people coming to him after a talk as in India. They don’t ask questions during the talk, but after the talk. And the kind of questions they ask prompted him to ask “So how many lines of code have you written?” The reply is usually in the range of 3000. I’m not sure if his reaction was as animated in front of the crowd, but he said “that’s the kind of number you should be coding every day if you’ve got to be decent coders!”

So true. It’s a pity, since we have a lot of people entering this industry.. a lot of youngsters being churned out by colleges. What’s painful is that everyone is misguided. Some take up the course just because “there’s more money”. Some are here there are colleges mushrooming everywhere, which can accommodate many such people. It’s not for passion that many join the course and the industry.

Those few who, in spite of the extremely tolerant and greedy industry that we’ve managed to create here, can’t make it to the industry post-college (for obvious reasons), become lecturers at these colleges. Doesn’t help students at all. Of the talented lot, a few get disillusioned, a few don’t get proper guidance… and that marks the sad start to an already finished career.

I particularly remember the nice anecdotes we used to have during lectures and practicals. A few gems:

– While doing the Kirchoff’s Voltage and Current Laws: two currents flow through a resistor in the same direction. They’re supposed to add up. The lecturer says it’s I1 – I2. We’re of course in the mood to have fun, so one guy points out the mistake and another one says there’s no mistake. So we pass time debating this. At the end of the hour, the lecturer says “According to my logic, it’s right. You go home and check with your books.”

– The same guy, in a lab session. My unfortunate friend‘s allotted power supply doesn’t work. He asks for a replacement. This lecturer says “why do you need a different power supply? Use this multi-meter, set it to 5V DC and use it.” Atul couldn’t control his laughter. The lecturer took offence and that might’ve reflected on our performance. (Hope you don’t get into such trouble at CMU! ;-) )

Back to Nat: I was very impressed by him. Though I’m not a Gnome-fan, I still like all the work they’re doing and from my interaction, I’m sure he’s taking the Linux desktop to the masses.

Paradise regained

So the Taj Mahal made it to the new seven wonders of the world. A distinguished jury deliberated over a period of several years to narrow down the list from hundreds, I believe, sites and monuments, to seven. To make the selection completely fair, a panel of judges from the alien planet of Yamakazoo were invited. They personally inspected the sites and measured objectively the worth of each object on display to arrive at a consensus. The final list was very warmly received, especially by the second most populous nation on this planet, as the monument which we’ve known to stand as the symbol of Love was one of them. Not having this monument on the “wonders” list would’ve meant a loss for the tourism industry in India and a huge loss for Bollywood, as most of the movies are shot around the Taj.

A group of people, though, didn’t like aliens to judge what they feel are their monuments, with human sentiments attached to them, which the aliens are unable to understand. They took to the streets and demanded a human jury, perhaps spanning the entire planet, making it look like the largest democratic vote the universe has ever seen. They demanded voting be done via SMS, thus also benefiting the mobile phone industry and the organisers.

Sadly, the UNESCO, the organisation that has had control and has nominated the past wonders is kept out of this protest by the Earthicans. UNESCO still maintains it doesn’t know about this new wonders of the world campaign, and has declared it unofficial. I would think it believes a private businessman who wants to start a planet-wide poll to elect the new wonders is as non-technical and as disparaging as it can get. Obviously, the nation with the most money and people would easily get their own monument elected, while the other countries would have to just rely on the monument’s qualities to make them proud.

I, though, have some ideas here. If a universe-wide poll makes sense, we could make our poor cricketers’ lives easier: instead of actually playing a match, we should have polls which would decide which team wins. Our idols would have real jobs then, and ads would be so much better. Why just restrict it to our cricket? In the current trend, we do vote and vote a lot for reality shows than our politicians (also remember, voting for reality shows costs money, whereas voting for politicians is free. Yeah, we don’t do cheap stuff). One day, if this becomes successful, we should return the favour to the Yamakazooans and help them elect their head-of-planet. If it has one, that is.

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(That’s supposed to be “chilled beer” for those of you who can’t figure it out from the Hindi).