Thursday, May 25, 2006

Pussy Cat Dolls feat Snoop Dogg: Buttons

I was watching this video on VH1. The dance choreography reminded me so much of Hinid movie songs. Only the clothing was more skimpy. But that difference will also go away, if you watch the remix of any hindi song!.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Kodak Helps With Healthcare Digitization

Kodak India (P) Ltd has announced that its KODAK DIRECTVIEW Computed Radiography Systems and KODAK DRYVIEW Laser Imaging Systems have been chosen for implementation by prominent healthcare facilities in the country.

An important corporate healthcare provider, Max Healthcare has ordered CR 850 system for its Delhi hospital. Also, the Government of Gujarat has chosen Kodak's 18 CR 500 systems to be installed at six government/ teaching institutions located in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Rajkot, Bhavnagar, Jamnagar and Surat, as part of an effort to digitize their radiology workflow.

"Customers are choosing Kodak to help them transition to an all-digital workflow. These wins are evidence that our innovative solutions are delivering results and helping our customers to improve both the quality and cost of patient care," said Kevin J. Hobert, President, Kodak's Health Group.

"Our comprehensive product family illustrates the fulfillment of our commitment to providing the industry with cost-effective and highly productive digital medical image capture," said Mohan Nadkarni, VP, Kodak's Health Group for India cluster.

KODAK DIRECTVIEW CR systems offer image capture, processing, quality assurance and image handling features, and help providers transition to a digital environment for efficient acquisition, display and storage of medical images.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Reservation, Strike, and Rumours

Today I got an e-mail saying this:
Sorry for giving you all a very bad news, it may be one of the worst news after the Independence. All of u know that strike is going on all cities of India protesting reservation. Subhash Srivastav an AIIMS student died at 6:44 pm on 20/05/2006, because of hunger strike protesting against reservation. Media is not allowed to cover it. Please pass this to all and help not to let down his sacrifice
The truth of the matter is something else.

According the AIMS, no one has died. This particular rumour was spread by SMS.

It is 9th day of hunger strike and 19 students are still on strike. Initially 139 students started and 120 of them have fainted and have recovered in hospital in last 8 days. "First three days were tought", says sachin, on of the students on strike.

Media is busy covering the share market crash in the past week. But they sure wouldn't miss a person dying on strike. Even the people on strike wouldn't keep such a thing secret. The whole idea of hunger strike would be defeated otherwise.

Interestingly, the students on strike aren't the ones directly affected by the quota. They already have their seats in colleges secure. But they say they are fighting for a greater cause. It is indeed great resolve of these students that deserves applause and support from all of us.

Meanwhile 2 people have resigned from knowledge commision which was supposed to come with some plan for next 10 years.

Incidentally, a poll on NDTV says that 60% people support reservation. (Lies, damn lies & statistics!!). But this is democracy. Majority wins!

All in all, Manmohan Singh(or is it Sonia's??) govt is having a hard time in these tough times.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Distribution Lists and Mail Archive: Communication at Work

Significant amount of my time in office is spent reading thru e-mails in my inbox. And most of them weren't meant for me and/or don't require any action from me. This must be the problem with anyone working on a product development involving multiple teams in different poles of the earth and having various different activities going on at the same time. Also, what we follow is "extreme" Agile development model. Communication is the key for this to work successfully.

I'm thinking about suggesting some changes to the way we operate such that it will result in lesser communication overhead and greater productivity.

Today, we have multiple distribution lists catering to the communication requirements of each teams and each life-cycle product we are working on. These are not mailing lists. These are just a bunch of e-mail ids tied together by an alias in MS Exchange. Sender sends the e-mail and all the recipients get it in their inbox. Everyday morning I have atleast 30 e-mails just from these distribution lists. On any given day, there will be atleast 10 - 20 threads active. I might be interested in just a few of them. Rest of the threads I may need them in future. Some I may never need. Who knows? So, I keep them all in my inbox. After a while the pst file grows so big in size, the outlook software becomes very slow in retreiving e-mails. Also, it takes quite a big chunk of my e-mail time in organizing, classifying these e-mails into different pst folders.

The solution I'll propose should remedy all of the above shortcomings of the existing system.

We would eventually like to move to a setup that is combination of wiki and blog. For any kind of communication that requires immediate action or becomes irrelevant after sometime, a blog with threaded comments system with RSS/Atom syndication would be the best. It will change the push model of communication which is e-mail to pull model of communication. It also gets archived automatically. This historical data collection will help do post-mortem better at the end of the program. Wiki can be used to capture knowledge that has better shelf life and also evolves over time. Like design discussions and spec'ing a new feature. All the meeting minutes can be captured in a blog with a link to the updated page on a wiki. Ofcourse, we have standard design discussion/meeting minutes capturing templates used to capture these artifacts in our quality system which is very formal. The wiki and blog will enable the day-to-day informal communication.

But like I said earlier, we would "eventually" move to this system. For now, we need a transitional setup, a web archive for the existing distribution lists. People will stop archiving it in their PST files. If they want to access older mails, search for them, they will access this web archive. So, the question is, what is the best setup for a web archive that supports MIME and looks good and has search integrated and can show threaded converations?

One that comes to mind immediately is MHonArc. But the default setting didn't look good.

Any suggestions?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

What's your employee profile?

Aries employees make excellent troubleshooters. They will usually want to be out in the field at a variety of different work sites fixing things. They certainly will not be happy for very long behind a desk in a 9 to 5 schedule. The bored Aries employee who has been forced into a square hole will typically be restless, angry, and careless with details. No amount of money would compensate for being stuck in a routine job. Money in fact is not why they are working at all. They do want to be paid fairly and need a status position to satisfy their competitive tendencies-- but even more importantly, they will want challenging new projects. They typically like to have a sense of responsibility and need to feel needed. In return, they will give their all and provide detailed, consistent work. They will literally work themselves to exhaustion to prove themselves. If you want to keep your Aries co-worker productive and happy, you will want to give them the opportunity to work independently or let them help and lead less experienced workers.

My sun sign is Aries!

Amazing Amazon!

This interview with the CTO of amazon has some interesting elements. I'm trying to look at it in perspective of things at work place. First interesting piece that grabs attention is this.

"There were many complex pieces of software combined into a single system. It couldn't evolve anymore. The parts that needed to scale independently were tied into sharing resources with other unknown code paths. There was no isolation and, as a result, no clear ownership."

Sounds familiar?

It seems to happen with any software that starts small & simple and starts to grow rapidly. We have examples of the two extremes in our systems. One that was started with all high funda architecture that promised to scale to any levels of complexity in requirements and the other where everything was done in a minimalistic fashion, just satisfying the requirements at the moment and evolving over time. Both approaches have ended up in complex mammoth frameworks and platforms.

"It's not only the technology side that was improved by using services. The development and operational process has greatly benefited from it as well. The services model has been a key enabler in creating teams that can innovate quickly with a strong customer focus. Each service has a team associated with it, and that team is completely responsible for the service—from scoping out the functionality, to architecting it, to building it, and operating it."

It might be possible to do this with a purely service oriented business model like Amazon's. How will you do this with a product oriented business model where the development life cycle is quite big?

Jack Welch, in one of his books, says that he pushed for a fundamental change the mindset of people in GE. They were used to thinking in silos of their own verticals like marketing, engineering, sales and services. He put the barriers of different verticals down and hoped that there will be more cross functional synergy and result in better products. But even today, at the grass root level, we still feel significant gap between the actual developers and the end user. A huge layer of managers and leaders with all kinds of keywords prefixed to their designation who add almost little value in the sense that they are bogged down by the system they created, always spending time in solving problems that are purely due the system itself. Why should the software development process be so complex that it requires so many people to manage it?

Read the full interview here

Ajax Framework in Java by Google

Write code in Java and compile it to Ajax style Javascript+HTML and deploy it over web server. Sounds too good to be true?!
Check out
Most importantly check out the RPC part

Extend a class on client side(gets translated to appropriate javascript code) and extend a class on server side(its a servlet!). Then deploy the same code in hosted mode for local access and Web mode for the remote access over webserver! All the coding done in Java. So debugging is easy.

Can it get any easier than this!?? Check out their examples.
Download the SDk and have fun! Its Apache license

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Setup Adsense on this blog

This blog is now powered by Adsense! Ads are seen at the top and in the right sidebar.

The setup was a breeze. (Although a bit confusing in the begining!). And the ads are appearing based on the relevant text in my blog. If you find any inappropriate ads do let me know and I'll take it up with Google.

Let's see what happens next. This is just trial! I'm no publisher who hopes to make a living out of this! Although, I don't mind some big multinational company funding my broadband connection and electricity bill:-)

Happy blogging!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Credit Cards!

PVR Cinemas online booking system is ruined. I can't use it anymore. Stupidly they ask for all credit card details like card number, expiry date and CVV as part of their booking details. No person with an understanding of credit cards and sensibility would give out that information on any website. Another of this kind is the cashier in shops copying your credit card number and expiry date by swiping it on their billing machine. Atleast, the CVV number isn't copied. Yet another case is the opportunity for the guy in petrol pumps and hotels to copy all the information including CVV, when you hand him the card for billing and he takes it away from you.

So, there is no anonymity in using credit card anymore. And there is no security either. People who keep cards with huge spending limits must be more alert and careful with their card usage.

Simplest of all solutions is to make a PIN part of credit card purchase authentication. It should be very easy and would allow using of credit and debit cards exactly same way.

I've written a mail to PVR about this. Let's see what they will do about it.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Story of Airtel Broadband Connection

5 months back, I got Airtel Internet connection unlimited 128kbps at Rs.600/mo. I really enjoyed it. The bandwidth used to be double, 256kbps, during night time.

Impressed by it, I switched to the better plan; unlimited 256kbps at Rs.900/mo. Sadly, the double bandwidth at night is no more working. Actual motivation to make this switch was that I can get 512kbps at night.

Now, I don't know what to do. If I go back to my 128kbps plan, I might not get the 256kbps at night either. I'll wait for another two days and give that a shot. Sad part is that this double bandwidth business is not on paper anywhere. So its unofficial and thereby I can't demand it.

To be fair, their service has been best, by far. I wish they had unlimited 512kbps plan.