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28 November 2010

Excellence is never a Destination - Professor Walter Lewin

I consider myself as one of the guys who is so passionate about sharing knowledge. I want to invent new ways to communicate effectively in sharing knowledge. I want to take classes in such a way that everyone who attends it feels as if the classes is happening one-to-one. I want to take the participants out of this world and travel to new world where we share knowledge.

And now, i have found a way and a benchmark that i can copy shamelessly. But i feel even copying is going to be very tough.

After watching this video by Professor Walter Lewin, i don't have words to say. The only thing that i can do after watching this video is to get inspired. Thank you, Sir.

19 November 2010

Thoughts on "I" and My "Conditioning"

This post is self reflection (and not an advice or suggestion or an opinion on something)

A child before he was born is totally free and he continues to be free until he starts to understand this world. For very shorter period of his life, the child is allowed to be free. Later, he is being conditioned by fellow beings and himself. As he grows up, for a brief period of time, he retaliates against the conditioning by questioning and if he sustains, most of the times he gets lost in questioning by getting carried away by his intellectual or probing ability. If you look, the questions mostly are half baked (btw, asking questions of that type is not a sin) and he assumes that he is deeply probing (which may or may not be true). His interactions with his world is physical, intellectual (if intellectual is different from physical) and sometimes through mind. His intellect demands proofs and he argues for proofs.

If you ask this question to a child that is just born, "what do you want to become?" he won't answer anything but just wonder what you are asking. He wonders not because he can't understand your language but because he is too pure to understand the question. Later if you ask a ten year old, fifteen year old, thirty year old and forty year old, you will get an answer that pleases both you and him and that is directly proportional to the level of conditioning. He is not answering because he understands your language but because he is conditioned to understand your question. He is acting as if his purpose of life is to become engineer, singer and Bill Gates.

After becoming something (due to conditioning), we feel that something is not a thing that we are destined for - either we move forward or move backwards in life meaning that we become more materialistic or less materialistic. Even if you try to live without materials, it is materialistic living because still there exist the conditioning. Before you renounce life, it was material. Now it is your ego. Both money and ego can be termed as materials.

The exact opposite of conditioning is not trying to uncondition. There can't be any opposite to conditioning. Because conditioning is fake or shadow. Can you call human being as opposite to his shadow? The only thing that we can do is stop being in the state of conditioned and be in the state of reality. By reality, i dont mean the real world. By reality, i mean the conscious state which you, i and every being is trying to find.

I tend to believe that there is a possibility of being conditioned when you try not to be conditioned if we think that what we are doing is opposite of conditioned. I believe that this is going to be the premise based on which the journey of self realization should start. Or in short, trying to live based on what is given to oneself.

15 November 2010

Yes, Testing is Fun and Brain Intensive


Few days back, i wrote on the topic - "Testing is Fun and Brain Intensive - Why" giving a scenario. I was stumbled by the comments of Rajaguru and thought it had deeper/unusual meaning. Hence requested him to share his insights by expanding his comments. This post is just expanded version of his comments and hence the post will be little short (if you take this as a comment, then it is bit lengthy). Before reading this post, i would suggest you to read this and then come back here. From here on, the post contains insights shared by Rajaguru via his comments. BTW, this is the first guest post in Unstuck (a new thing). Looking forward for more guest posts with deeper insights.

@rajaguru - thank you for the new start :-)

Real Stuff & Insights by Rajaguru

When I saw @lnarasim tweeted the title ”Testing is Fun and Brain Intensive”, the immediate thought that came to my mind was "wasn't the testing boring one"? Because that's what we will discuss with other people. As a developer we think that testing is mundane and routine task. The more I thought about it, the clearer I was because I was testing (questioning) my thoughts! Leave the philosophy and let us get back to real stuff. Being a developer, designer or tester, testing is must, the more we test the more effective is our design, coding, system. Come on let’s test and find it!

In the post the problem states, test the following, assume you are testing compiler, and don’t go beyond the integer.

int a = 10, b = 255, c;
c = a + b;
Simple. Isn’t? The first test case comes to my mind is print the value of the variable "c" and check the answer is 265. Shall we consider the testing of “+” is over? Why not it produces the desired result. Let me stop and rethink, whether the testing over. Noo. (A big No... not big O J ).
I am testing the operator “+” for integer, when you say Operator, you need to test what are the possible operands it can take. Whether it takes +ve integer or –ve integer? If it’s +ve or –ve the range it takes?
The operand is over, what about the result? What it takes, when both the operand reaches the maximum value if result also same type, how it can be assigned the result? So, whether result should be stored in a data type that accepts higher range than the operands?
Whether now we covered all the test cases? Rethink, we are testing compiler, and operator “+”?  Now we will move one step further, how the addition can be implemented, using number of shift operations? Or move operations? Binary additions? Incase, what are the instructions it should use for implementing that? Whether, all machines support the same instruction set?
Where this value will be stored? Memory requirements to run this program? … Let me stop here. May be we can’t stop on some point saying all possible test cases are identified? Always we can add more, test more, and break the system, change the implementation and start the testing from the scratch.
We can conclude that Testing is really Fun and of course Brain Intensive too, when you want to get more understanding of the system, test the system until system is broken or you are broken :-)

About Rajaguru:
Software Engineer by profession, chatterbox to friends. He says he always searches something in Google, books, movies and life. Connect with him in Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. For those who want to see the "user interface" of Rajaguru to identify when you see him next time (to buy you food or movie ticket), here is his picture with a temple backdrop.

12 November 2010

Entrepreneurship - Good Trend in India

There is an interesting trend in India that is catching up and it is here for good reasons. More people want to work in garage. These days, more importance is given to "entrepreneurship" and after having discussion with few people, it appears to me that many has entrepreneurship or what they call "doing on their own" on the cards. What is even more interesting is that they want to do it sooner than later.

For example, one of the young professional whom i met sometime back told me that he wanted to startup in another three to four years. Another one told that he wants to take break to build a business that will generate. Also, if we look around, there are many success stories in India and even we have mentors who are serial entrepreneurs to guide through the process. There are people who give you infrastructure for your startup, mentor you throughout and even there are folks to give you the idea.

It appears to me that we are at the very last days of being "low end service providers" and entrance of "innovative power" - a paradigm shift. I see innovation is something that adds value to both who innovate and those who consume the innovation and in my view entrepreneurship is right step towards innovation. We see  right signs from bodies like Nasscom organizing events which gains a lot of attention these days and we are also witnessing a lot of meetups among like minded people in different cities. If you passionate about starting up "startup" at some point of time, you got to watch out now. Sow the seed now and let it germinate.

11 November 2010

Environmental Effects - Applicable to Cloud Computing Too

Of course, this is US data but soon will be applicable to us.

Of the electricity consumed, nearly 1.5% of electricity consumption accounts to data centers. By 2020, the electricity consumption by data centers alone will be more than aviation industry. So, in future we will have two industries giving away lot of carbon emissions. We talk about cloud which is effectively repositioning data centers as far as location of boxes are concerned. We move many boxes to the cloud and once we move them, they need lots of power. Here the important point is that we don't really know whether the cloud provider takes care of environment and carbon footprint. What if the provider generates power and dump carbon emission in the air.

Already Greenpeace is saying someone is using coal. That someone is none other than Facebook. A bit of story can be found here.

What about cloud providers? Will they give out information on how the electricity that powers their data centers is generated?

A technology (cloud computing) that makes us replace a old technology offers benefits (efficiency). If the new technology (cloud computing) goes into the wrong hands (to a provider who doesn't care about its carbon emission) still produce big side effects.

10 November 2010

"Gliese 581 g" - Earth-like Planet

For the past few days, i m quite fascinated by physicists and particularly the ones who study this universe. I was going through youtube videos of Stephen Hawking and many others who are researching quite deeply on few things - existence of other planets in our galaxy and other galaxies, the possibility of finding a planet that is Earth-like that is suitable for living, possibility of life in other planets (what we call alien) and researching the light from distant stars that exploded some thousand years back (it appears to us that it is happening currently as the star is at a distance of few thousands light years).

I was simply inspired by the grand vision of astrophysicists who are finding a place in this universe where our future generations can lead a life. It is this vision that made those scientists to find an Earth-like Planet nearest to us at 20 light years from Earth. Yes, it is the nearest planet having conditions similar to that of Earth which is orbiting a star "Gliese 581". The planet is named as "Gliese 581g". More stories can be found hereherehere, here and here.

Also, a strong beam of radio signal consisting of messages has been sent and it is likely to be received in 2029. If there is an interesting/intelligent species there and if they send the response back (or take a flight and come here), we should receive it by 2049. What will happen if those species much more intelligent than us and already engineered a spacecraft that travels a lot faster than speed of light?

Being a software engineer, i just finding my own way to learn from astro-physics specifically about traveling against uncertainty.

Quite fascinating and it makes me to think whether i should buy a telescope :-)

07 November 2010

Testing is Fun and Brain Intensive - Why

Why testing is fun and Why testing has to be brain intensive

Before answering it, let us do this exercise.

Let us take one of the primitive types - "int" in Java and an arithmetic operation addition (imagine that you are testing Java compiler that will be used by developers/testers worldwide). What are things that you would do to verify the correctness of addition for "int". For now, let us focus only on integer addition alone. List down the things that you will learn (meaning that you should know) for completing the task. This exercise will help us to know "why testing is fun, why it has to be brain intensive and why it is equally rewarding".

To help you with some code, this is how addition looks like and you got to test + (which is in red font)

int a = 10, b = 255, c;
c = a + b;

How will you proceed?

06 November 2010

Where Am I? Where I want to Be?

After some eight years of experience, i tend to ask the following questions to myself (and may be i can help you too). By comfort zone, i dont really mean working in the same company and i really mean comfort zone - doing something you never did :-) or keep doing something different that you love to do - programming, testing, writing articles, writing books etc.

What does the experience teach? Does it teach about the concept of incremental pay hike? Or does my experience is all about eight one year of experience? Am i able to understand the classical things about computing now? At a bare minimum, does my experience help me to choose a programming language to do a specific job? Am i directed towards something and if so am i going in right direction? Am i become bankrupt of steam of learning? Am i forgetting the fact that learning is lifelong process?

Well, i reflected a lot about my state and i m quite pissed off with my actions for past one year. There weren't intellectual learning at the level i expected and i certainly feel like i m doing mundane thing. I used to write articles, i used to speak in conferences, i used to speak technically, i used to write code, i used to design and i used to share at reasonable level with others. When say "i used to", you got to understand that "i m not doing it right now".

After a long reflection, my heart says, i got to invest on two things - time and money. Of the two things, i feel like time is more important entity and it is quite difficult to buy. I want to learn new programming language such as Scala, Scheme, or Haskell. The second thing is that i would like to set up a small lab. When i say, a small lab, it is really small. Probably, x86/Linux based desktop. I want to relearn some of things that i have forgotten but this time around i want to give a strong focus on fundamentals. It is not going to be time-bound but it doesn't mean that i won't be time conscious. This time the focus is more on going deeper than wider. I want to especially do something in cloud computing space as well.

I think, this is going to be an exciting journey and for sure i ll share some of my learnings here as i go when i get something concrete.

I know what you are murmuring. Yeah, i really sounds like a freshman but it is the true state. I got to accept it and move on.

05 November 2010

What is Time & Its Properties - A Question

This post doesn't have an answer. It is just a question :-)

Recently and quite by accident, i happen to watch one of the documentaries on theory of relativity. While i never completely understood the theory of relativity either at school or now, the concept of "speed" and its effects on "time" was slightly making sense. I would like to share a couple of interesting information i gathered in internet and finally my question.

There are many arguments that the time is a recent concept which exists only for past fifteen billion years - the time from which this universe is existing. The existence of universe and the existence of time is key. The time doesn't make sense when there is no universe because universe is made of particles and if there is no universe there won't be particles and hence there won't be "the time".

Here goes another concept. We are in milky galaxy. A galaxy consists of many stars and each star can possibly have many solar systems. In our galaxy itself there could be more solar systems. There are lot of galaxies. All the galaxies form this universe which we are in. There is a theory that says there could be more such universe closer to us that are separated by a different dimension. (not necessarily by unit of space, to put it simply and for the sake of understanding, a dimension can be distance. the universes can be separated by an inch. but it may be possibility that we don't yet invented that dimension).

We have to be clear that time is not years, months, days, hours, minutes or seconds. Time is not related to number of times earth or planet revolves around the sun. They are unit of time that we use to express time.

So, even if we assume that we reasonably understood the concept of time in this universe, how can we define or comprehend time in other universes if there exist any.

Probably, that is why Albert Einstein said - "Imagination is more important than knowledge".

Now, i feel that physics, astro-physics and cosmology together with mathematics is parent of other inventions. Quite intriguing. Finally i would like to end this article with a piece of quote by Albert Einstein.

04 November 2010

Receiving Feedback - Listening More and Taking Up Fierce One

If we carefully assess ourselves, we will find a reality. Most of us (including the ones who we call bravo) have a common feature in receiving feedback. We fail pathetically in receiving which is much directed and fierce even if they are constructive feedback. We always want sugar or sugar coated tablets. Not the real, hard to chew and bitter tablets. We would like to have a big session on giving and receiving feedback - a juicy presentation, quite cinematic role plays. It is so nice to call it as an art. But we aren't artist. 

We react and keep reacting until the point where the guy who is giving feedback retracts and becomes no longer interested in you. If we are attentive a bit and involved a little, there will be excellent opportunity for a great learning. Rather than listening, many of us naturally tend to react and some of us over react. Because we never wanted to appear insane even though the reality is exact opposite.

Recently, I had some excellent learning when i was meeting fresher who were so down-to-earth to listen to the feedback. They are smart enough to make on the course correction and it shows me that the world is changing a lot. But the point is - are we part of the change? The species that get along with the change and help the change will survive and the egoistic ducks will sit there and quack. Are we ready to be a one-among-stiff ducks?

How do we reach there? Why are we so insensitive to honest feedback? Why do we market ourselves differently, appear differently while we are totally different in reality - it is complete package of insanity. Why aren't we attuned to people who are honestly sitting in front of us with only one thing in mind - "you got to be a hero as you have huge potential?" We always want role plays. Some X talking to Y and we are quite quick with our observations. We want to sit in fence to watch and forget the fact that we ought to be players. No more role plays, let us not be jury of reality shows. Let us participate and go humane :-)

In the quite rapidly changing world, the way we compose ourselves, the way we "add value" through honesty and integrity is going to make a BIGGER sense than technological edge. Receiving feedback is a pinch in it that reveals a lot.

So, our true patronage manifests with the way we take fierce feedback by listening more & with honestly. It doesn't matter it is from up or down the hierarchy.

What do you think?

At the end, my Diwali wishes on behalf of Unstuck. Let us lit up the light and let the sunshine be on you

"Wish You a Very Happy Diwali"

03 November 2010

Decision Making - Show Stoppers

Here is the list of show stoppers that hinders decision making.
  1. Fear - Fear of Uncertainty, Fear of Left Behind, Fear of Depletion
  2. Greed - Greediness of wanting more than what we deserve for
  3. Lack of Information - Not doing proper research
  4. Blind of subtleness - Making decisions based on obvious things but later paying price due to magnification of subtle things which were never considered.
  5. Lack of Empathy - Lack of empathy and sympathy towards the information and people.
  6. Closed Mindedness and Opinionated - Deeply ingrained in one's own perspective. Perspectives help us to make better decisions, the better we see the better we have clear "vision" followed by a good reasoning.
  7. Poor Listening - It is by observation we learn a lot. Listening is a great aid to make good observation. 
  8. Trying to Exhibit Force - Forcing things to happen rather than making the environment conducive for decision making
  9. Treating others' ideas based on their title (but not by the merit of information). Sometimes (or most of the times), ideas/perspectives come from unexpected ones.
  10. Lack of Curiosity - How does a child listen to a story teller? Absolutely curious. We were there as a child, we know how we felt.
  11. Not Showing Genuine Interest - Not showing genuine interest blocks effective communication. When a collective decision has to be made, showing interest in others makes a big impact.

02 November 2010

Workplace without Managers to Manage People

Have you thought about this - the machines do not have managers. Let us take a mechanical machine with moving parts. When there is a friction between moving parts, they just make a noise. The mechanic applies some grease between the moving parts and the noise goes away. The parts of the machine manage themselves and they make sound due to "wear and tear". (in this analogy, let us not treat this friction as conflict. think that the noise due wear and tear as natural phenomenon). Are we moving towards such a style of management - the management of working without supervision.

The world is moving towards self managed people. We have seen people especially seniors making hell a lot of noise about young generation (or Gen Y) in a hi-fi and not-so-easy-to-understand English. Well, the YOUNGistan is moving towards the realm of "self managed" and "self correcting" management. It is not only because they are highly intelligent than the previous generation and abundance of information being available to them but also due to the fact that they are brought up in a time frame of rapid changes. They adopt to the changes reasonably well (than the previous generation) and embrace it quite well.

Let me share couple of my experiences. I have been offering some guidance to an aspiring candidate and i would have spent not more than 30 minutes totally. The candidate now is a young IT professional. The most striking thing about her is that she is managing herself in every move and learning every bit through her exposure, a typical Gen Y. 

I have seen quite a few people right out of college, i would say, they are sparks and sharks. I heard a senior person having "30 years" of experience saying that this generation is a spark. That makes me to think that these people have ability to manage themselves quite well without having someone to manage them. In previous generations when there was no technological aid, the managers were teaching. Now, there is technology to do the teaching and these managers have to move up (the value chain). Gen Ys have enough skill to manage themselves and make their manager to be jobless (this will make managers to focus on some core business than mere people management).

Soon the guys are going to say - "rather than meeting over a conflict, let us meet over technology or business that makes sense to everyone". This generation and generations to come is going to put us in the orbit of "self managed" and "self correcting" style of management.

Isn't this what we want? Shouldn't we incubate such thing at workplace? 

My heart says "yes"

What do you think? yes or no or can't say :-)