Thursday, November 18, 2010

Stone Age Techie

In one of ToastMaster sessions, fellow TM Venkat happened to share his exploits with Smart-Phones and Social-Networking-Websites. Venkat belong to one of those rare breed of techies, who has a fan-following large enough to convince him to do Mobile-Tweeting. During his Project 2 speech, he managed to convince all of us, including me, into believing that we all are living in a networking age : age of Google and Facebook and how its essential to be connected not only to your neighbour or to your friends, but to the entire world !!

But of-late I came across another incident, which surprised me a great deal and forced me to rethink whether Venkat was right.

I happened to invite one of my friend along with his gorgeous wife on dinner. My friend is also from IIT Kharagpur, the same IIT I belong to, and currently holds a plum-post at one of the startups (he doesn't believe in cooling off his heels at big corporations and prefer small companies). Armed with excellent technical skills but somewhat pulled down by below-par communication skills, he is earning as much as anyone else.

During the dinner, we had our usual talks, Bollywood, Cricket, Office Work and all those jazz. I shared with him one of the ugly incidents that recently happened involving my blog (this very blog ;-). He was somewhat surprised to discover that even blogs can create trouble at work place and asked me "Do you blog ??". I said "Yes, I used to do it intermittently, but of-late became a regular at that". To this, he replied "Haan, You work for a big corporation with plenty of free time, so you can afford blogging. Waise bhee Blogging to wahi log karte hain jinke paas bahut sara khali time hoga" (Blogging is mostly done by only those people, who has a lot of spare time at their disposal !!)

I was shocked.I couldn't believe what I just heard. An IIT graduate working in software industry for about 6 years just rejected blogging (the biggest take away from Web 2.0) as merely a time-pass. I asked him "How about those CXOs of  corporations, as big as Google and as small as Cleartrip !! Even they blog. Does that mean they have more spare time than a senior software developer working at a mobile startup ??". There was no answer from my friend, he could have given one, only if he had one !!

I started wondering, how on earth these techies are surviving the test of times ?? But then I realized, may be India's silicon valley doesn't disappoint anyone, not even these stone-age techies :-)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What Is In A Name

I was following Cricinfo Live-Commentary on 1st test-match between Sri Lanka and West Indies. As rain stopped play and the commentators got tired of providing weather-updates, the followers themselves decided to have some fun  by discussing some interesting anecdotes not related to Cricket. Somehow a topic involving persons with long names came up for discussion. Here are few interesting ones.

Some of the Sri Lankan players, who have the longest name in Cricket History, are
  • Amunugama Rajapakse Rajakaruna Abeykoon Panditha Wasalamudiyanse Ralahamilage Rajitha Krishantha Bandara Amunugama popularly known as Rajitha Amunugama. He boasted 11 initials - a fitting number for a member of a cricket XI, but nothing sort of a headache for scorers and journalists.
  • Arya Kastriya Takurartiya Dawaditya Gadyawasam Lidamullage Asitha Suraj de Silva popularly known as Suraj de Silva. Total 10 words.
  • Manampeli Mahapata Bandhi Ralalage Supun Tharanga Coory Wanigaratne popularly known as Supun Tharanga. Total 8 initials
  • Uda Walawwe Mahim Bandaralage Chanaka Asanga Welegedara popularly known as Chanaka Welegedara. Total 7 words
  • Warnakulasuriya Patabendige Ushantha Joseph Chaminda Vaas popularly known as Chaminda Vaas. Total 6 initials
Imagine a cricket team, featuring all of them and few more that I may have missed. What a day for the scorekeepers and journalists, you can be sure that they will be cursing them forever !! 

I went ahead and googled for the person with the longest name and found that the award for the longest name for a person belongs to a German immigrant to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The name he was given at birth, and which somehow fitted on his passport started with 26 words followed by 588 characters and finally ending with Senior.

First and Middle names had a total of 26 words, one apiece for every alphabet in English

Adolph Blaine Charles David Earl Frederick Gerald Hubert Irvim John Kenneth Loyd Martin Nero Oliver Paul Quincy Randolph Sherman Thomas Uncas Victor Willian Xerxes Yancy Zeus

His Last name had only 588 characters :-)

Finally the last word (Sigh ...)

Thankfully, the gentleman had "shortened" his long-name to Mr Wolfe Plus 585 Sr !!

Do you still want to know What is in a Name ??

Sunday, November 07, 2010

State Bank Of India

SBI, even though it is the largest bank in India, never inspired me enough to open an account with them. Every time I heard this acronym SBI, all I could think was the Slowest Bank Of India rather that its actual expansion, State Bank Of India. But I was in for a surprise, when I went to open a savings account recently. I had already mentally prepared myself for a long haul, running across different counters, filling out numerous forms and all those classic red-tape things, that one could expect at a PSU. But things were different this time around and I soon was to find that out.

As I enter the branch, I notice a gentleman greeting me with a gentle smile on his face "Hello Sir, How are you ?? How can I help you ??" I told him, I am in for opening an account. He offered me a chair and handed over a one-page form to me. As I was filling this form, I enquired about the mandatory documents. The gentleman said "Sir, all we require for your account is an identity proof and an address proof". I said "I have a Passport and a Ration-Card, will that be enough ??". Gentleman replied in affirmation and handed over another 4-page form to me and instructed me to fill in all relevant details. After about 10 minutes, I submitted my form to him, he duly checked all the details and said "We are done with form-filling and documents verification, now just pay 1100 Rs at cash-counter and collect all your details like Debit-Card, PIN, Cheque-Book at New Accounts Section Counter No ..".

Before he could finish his line, I interrupted him "How about a guaranteer ?? Is not that also required for opening an account@SBI ??" The gentleman replied "Those were the days, Sir !! We don't mandate a guaranteer for new accounts any more" I said to myself "WoW". Since I didn't knew anyone having an account in this branch, this was a huge relief for me.

I am sure, not just for me, this must be a welcome sign for anyone willing to open an account in SBI. Otherwise, you would have to literally beg in front of other account-holders, that you could spot in the bank at that time, to become a guaranteer for you. I had to show off my identity card that I work for so and so company, all my certificates, xeroxes supported by originals, that I am not a terrorist by any stretch of imagination. And even then, guaranteers were hard to find. If you are lucky, you may very well find a generous fella, if not you may have to run across many of them, before anyone of them agrees to become a guaranteer for you.

After this I moved on to the cash-counter. It took me another 5 minutes to complete the formalities at the cash-counter. I filled a cash-deposit form, took a token and waited for my turn. In almost no time, my turn had come(here again my prejudice had recommended me to wait, wait patiently for a long time, after all it was a "Sarkari Bank", but I was again proven wrong by this new avatar of SBI).

After I paid 1100 Rs at cash-counter, I walked across to "New Accounts Section" and showed them my account-opening-form along with the payment-slip. The lady there  at the counter asked me to produce the originals. I promptly took out all originals from my folder and showed it to her. She verified all the details provided against the same and offered her hands for a handshake "Congrats !! You are now an SBI customer ?? After the hand-shake, she handed me over an envelope and informed "Sir, you will be receiving your Passbook after 3-4 days. I opened the envelope, it consisted of almost everything that a new-account-holder would want, an ATM card, its PIN, a cheque book,a mobile banking pin etc. I was amazed with this show, put up by SBI employees. All it took me was mere 15 minutes to open an account with a Sarkari Bank, WoooooW !!

Way to go SBI, you impressed me and won my heart many times over. In a span of 15 minutes, my notion of SBI being a Slowest Bank Of India changed to a Superfast Bank Of India !! It will be some time, before we can call them as a Supreme Bank Of India in terms of agility and nimbleness, but its definitely changing, changing for the good, not only for itself, but also for all its customers.

I wish BSNL could also adopt similar attitude for its broadband operations(not many of us would be interested in their landlines and mobile-connections any way). I heard it offers the best internet in terms of connectivity, speed and reliability, but only if you manage to get one :-)

Saturday, November 06, 2010

3G Life

3G - The moment I heard this word, one question immediately came to my mind : what is 3G? Is it 3rd generation or simply GGG which could possibly have meant God Gifted Gizmo.

I remember the day when I was in college and had to miss my home-trips on Diwali, owing to exams scheduled right after Diwali. Yes, we did burst crackers, we did lit diyas, we did had delicious sweet dishes, we still had those laughs and moments of joy with our friends. But, somewhere something was missing. I tried visualizing my parents how ecstatic they would be on Diwali, what are the dishes my mom would have cooked, how many types of bombs and rockets my brother had bought. But I failed, failed miserably in doing so. I called them on mobile and talked to them at length endlessly. In fact  I pampered them with questions. Yes, I got to know all I wanted. But I was not satisfied. The sense of missing them and not able to see them was hurting. I was depressed, sitting in my room all alone, dreaming about the day, when I would be with them on Diwali. I wish I could have 3G back then. Well, it would not have felt the same, being at home with family members and friends, but it would surely have given a sense of "being there". My sweet mother's loving face would have been just a video-call away. My brother's adventurous bombing and tricks with crackers would have been playing in front of my eyes. My fathers' concerning voice and anxious face would have visible too. 

Only if, I had 3G !!

This diwali, Tata Docomo is launching 3G all across India. More details can be found at their official 3G Life website

PS: This is my entry to 3G Life IndiBlogger contest organized by Tata DOCOMO, please vote for me, if you like it.