Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Don't send that apology email!

Technology has gotten really good. A while back, Eudora mail launched a feature called MoodWatch, which, via a chili pepper rating, could prevent you from sending nasty emails to your colleagues. 1 chili pepper was probably offensive, 2 peppers - you were on a roll, and by the time you hit 3 peppers, you'd so crossed the line! The result was that sarcasm just got more common :-)

In the same vein, Google goggles ensure, by forcing you to solve 2+3=6, that you're not too drunk to send that late night email that you'll regret later. It'll help me from getting alzheimers as well, I think.

Here's a story from a colleague - he had a nasty exchange of emails with a co-worker (offensive and regrettable, since they were using neither Eudora, nor Tequila). He drafted an apology email just to calm things down, but did not hit send. The next day, at a meeting, the same issues were rehashed, and allegations made, resulting in my colleague coming to the conclusion that the apology was not warranted! Those offensive emails were all perfectly valid!!

That's what we should all do - have meetings before sending emails - then my inbox may actually be manageable.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sunsetting the best damn tech logo period!

I feel kinda sentimental about IBM's proposed acquisition of Sun. I don't feel vitriolic about it, like I did with Autonomy's acquisition of Verity! That was nasty! This one's kinda sad...

In graduate school, the workstations we used for all our work sported the best damn tech logo period! See how the word "SUN" flows at all angles - with perfect symmetry?

I loved the logo, and we learned Unix, C, C++ on these machines!!

Then, for my M.S., Ph.D. theses, I used Sun. We did multiprocessor simulations of Sun SPARC machines on 680X0-based Sun Workstations. The icing on the cake for me was that I developed, in Assembly (egad!!), the world's then fastest thread switching code in software (mis)using SPARC register windows (MIT had a faster version with proposed hardware modifications).

Assembly!! I'm pretty sure I can't handle assembly now, or for that matter, many other things :-)

This SUNset will leave a beautiful trail in the sky.

Update 02/2010: As of this week, my wife is an Oracle employee - the SunSet turned out to be dark red!

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Sound win for ... Microsoft?

Sporting XBOX 360 jerseys in neon-green, looking like a Microsoft game website charged with Silverlight, the Seattle Sounders, an explansion team in the MLS (US' major league soccer), brought a smile to my face.

Paul Allen, one of the co-founders of Microsoft, is one of the owners.

Fredy Montero, a young 22, showed how the greats do it - I was impressed! He was instrumental in all 3 Sounders goals in their very first MLS game against the New York Red Bulls. Nobody knows how the rest of the season will go, or what the future holds in store for Montero, but I'm looking forward to seeing him play...

Now, wouldn't it be great if Silicon Valley's San Jose Earthquakes were sponsored by Google? The Earthquakes could wear the complement - blue jerseys with green shorts - and sport a "shaky-quaky" Google doodle.

Game on!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Is technology a NOP?

NOP = No Operation (effectively does nothing at all!)

A disturbing statistic puts Washington D.C. on par with Uganda!  (The prevalence of the AIDS virus.)  A new report conservatively pegs the infection rate at an estimated 3%! I'm not entirely clear where Silicon Valley is on this map.

Another coincidentally alarming report is that of the Pope apparently not helping matters in Africa! Religious factors do influence population issues in various ways in various parts of the world, but one would hope that religious factors are not at play in D.C. 

As we develop technologically, we hope that technological advancement helps educate and disseminate information faster. Mobile phone usage has dramatically changed communications in developing countries. Africa and the Middle East suffer from significantly  lower penetration of Intenet usage, but it seems that proximity to technology isn't helping D.C. It appears that a different theory is at work here.

Assuming then my postulata as granted, I say, that the power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man. Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio.  – Malthus 1798, Chapter 1

Are we heading to a Malthusian conflagration before a religious one?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Doodling to success!

As we axe teachers in Silicon Valley schools due to budget issues, we may be able to add a simple ingredient to school curriculums to improve student performance - doodling :-)

Apparently, a study performed at the University of Plymouth seemed to indicate that doodling during a conversation actually helped with concentration rather than hurt - 29% better retrieval!! Seems like letting the mind wander a bit, but putting it on a leash, is better than letting it get completely lost gazing at a spot on the desk or out the window at a tree!

My sister-in-law Archita does some pretty impressive "doodles" - check out Linear Spring! She just added the Ugly Duckling - she must be paying attention to something!!

No wonder Google doodles! It's all about retrieval!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A good update to Facebook

If there's one thing about the Facebook update that I like (I haven't played with it much yet), it's the fact that I don't have to start every update with "Rajat is ..."

We can make general comments now, ... like "Mascarpone and strawberry jam sandwiches taste good" (this shows that I just learned what Mascarpone is :-)) or "Obama seems to be taking more of my change", as he signs bill after bill with lots of our money, and apparently lots of earmarks ...

Oh ... the joy of self-expression on the Internet! 

Speak your mind!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Real-life Frogger!

While I gloated about being able to just cross the road to work during my recent Bangalore visit, I failed to mention that there was inherent danger built into the act of crossing! (The photo above shows a lean traffic period)

Some of the skills one needs to have in India to cross a road, especially a busy one like the Old Madras Road, are guts, incremental planning and goal-setting, and the ability to discern speed accurately!

Actually, it's exactly like playing Frogger! Only - if you get killed in the game, you're actually dead, i.e., you can't restart!

Here are some tips for playing Frogger - Bangalore Edition:
  • Don't take chances with the big buses and lorries(trucks).
  • If you can't cross all the way, that's fine - just stop until you can continue (without getting hit)
  • If there's a median, life is peachy - plan only to get to the median - then worry about the rest
  • Those small Maruti cars and vans can be pretty zippy - watch out!
  • Motorcycles and scooters are a pain - they can't kill you, but can hurt you - so don't completely ignore them!
My wife? She just grabs the arm of the nearest (good-looking) guy to cross!

"Can't cross" ...a likely story!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Shamu - the whale killer of iPods

Shamu was a must-stop during our travels with the Kiwis (my sister's family) during their visit. Sweet little Shamu - with that killer smile :-)

Rewind! There's a splash zone, with blue raincoats for a reason!!

Bravado! My 18-year-old nephew braved the odds. He did have on a very expensive (waterproof) jacket, and his iPod was in the pocket!

Shamu came, Shamu splashed, Shamu the killer whale killed his iPod!

(Actually it was a dolphin, but Shamu (also really a dolphin) gets all the credit, does he not?)

Apple and salt water don't mix - they turn you green on the insides!