Thursday, January 10, 2013

coming back to life...

Not only is the title of this post an excellent Floyd song, it is too apt a phrase to pass when starting some much-missed activity after a long long while.....

And thus, it is with great pleasure that I announce my grand return to one of the grandest cultures on the planet - motorbiking!

Well, maybe not as grand as I wished it to be. I have gained barely two and a half cubic inches of engine displacement as compared to my past ride, but I have also gained maybe seven years' worth of technical advances so I am not complaining too much! A wholehearted adherence to the "no replacement for displacement" dictum can wait a while...

So here I am, now the proud owner of the latest avatar of a motorbike with an advertising campaign that implores me to forgive everyone so that I eventually feel like god, and in the first few hours on the saddle of this iron horse, I feel that the campaign might be quite right on the money (till I give in to the aforementioned dictum).

Monday, October 01, 2012

Will we ever get back there...

Back in the day when I used to pull some seriously crazy hours at the office, friends of mine used to warn me about burning out. I used to joke that the only burnouts that I knew about involved internal combustion engines with a ton of torque and a heavy foot on the gas pedal. The warning however did linger on in the back of my head.

As time passed on, I managed to align my hours to something that is more akin to a better work-life balance (keep in mind though, that just the hours were aligned...), and when work really demanded, I was still able to pull off that long day or two. I however did look back (and still do) with some wonder at those continuous stream of twelve ~ fourteen hour days that was normal for me to kick back without breaking a sweat. How I had managed to do that without actually burning out remained somewhat of a mystery until recently.

The breakthrough came to me when I read an article linked to by a friend. While the article, written by an MIT grad mainly dealt with other issues, the key take-away line for me was the following:
"What I learned is that burning out isn’t just about work load, it’s about work load being greater than the motivation to do work."

At once it became abundantly clear to me that I was so much more motivated back then (maybe even for the wrong reasons) than I am now, and that is what allowed me to stretch so close to the breaking point, maybe even beyond, and still survive.

It's not that I am not motivated about my work at all these days, or that I don't like what I do at all. And as far as I can tell, I have not burned out; not yet, at-least. What I didn't like was how easy it was for me to drop a few rungs on the motivation ladder.

The final nail in the coffin came in the form of another article, or rather a series of articles about the lives and times of engineers working on the first Apple Macintosh computer. While most of the articles were written by one particular engineer, and dealt with the technical intricacies of the pioneering work that they were doing in the field of GUI for the people, something was very clear. All the engineers on that team had a motivation level that I can barely even dream about. Even my peak couldn't hold a candle to what these guys achieved. Nothing deterred them from working on and on and on towards their goal, the completion and launch of their product. Neither weekends, nor long deserved holidays. Neither technical limitations and stumbles along the way, nor demands by their project leader. Neither bad managers, nor awful reviews. Maybe it was the rush of being pioneers in their field, or maybe they just believed so much in the work they were doing, they just couldn't be brought down!

What I am left with is a sense of emptiness, of not feeling that level of a connect with my work that can push me to do crazy stuff again. And I guess its not just me. From what I gather, such a thing is happening with a lot of people. All I can do is ask, "Will we ever get back there?"

The article written by the MIT grad can be read on the MIT publication, The Tech, here.

The series of articles about the original Apple Macintosh can be read at Folklore

Monday, March 05, 2012

The eloquence of spontaneity

And yet again, it has been more than a year since I last paid any attention to these pages.

On one hand, all this time has passed in what has seemed to just be the blink of an eye. On the other, as soon as I even begin to skim the depths of grey matter inside my head, the constant stream of events and experiences that have transformed me essentially a full circle into the same state that I was in when I last wrote here come to the fore. This full circle, however, is not the topic at hand today.

In that constant stream of experiences of the fourteen months past, there have been many worthy of more than a significant mention here. But blog-posts have been none. Nada. Zilch. Is it because I am extremely lazy? Partially! But much more than that, it is because I am not the kind to bust out spontaneous eloquent posts.

When I had first started this blog, I was this twenty-one year old, immature geeky kid, who upon discovering a bandwagon that seemed to be tailor-made for his kind, jumped upon it with more zest than Don Quixote charging his windmills! Back in those days, and for a fair length of time since, I wrote about anything and everything.

But over the almost seven years that have elapsed since I first started, I think something has changed. Not much of me (I am still that immature, geeky kid, and have discovered a few more tailor-made bandwagons), but certainly what I wanted from this blog. I just didn't want it to be another place where I ranted on and on and on about some minor things. All around the interwebs, I saw these exquisitely eloquent pieces of writing, and wished to incorporate that in this place, just as a solemn attempt to improve, or at the very least, maintain the level of grasp on the language that I have been using as my primary one for a while now.

Now, as stated above, I am no creative genius capable of spontaneous eloquence, which my own self had demanded as a requisite for posts and as a result, this blog started to suffer. So much so that the only post in almost three years is a desperate rant penned in despair.

But I guess it is now high time to make a few changes. If I cannot be spontaneously eloquent, I can at-least try out the eloquence of spontaneity, and thereby, keep these pages alive with posts that matter, even if they are not of the literary standards that I had hoped to be able to achieve.

And in the process, maybe, just maybe, change myself for the better as well!

Friday, December 31, 2010

The answer isn't 42

Those who believe that the earth is "mostly harmless" may be quite offended by the title of this blog post. However, even they will agree, that 42 isn't the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything. Funny thing is, most don't even know what the ultimate question of life is.

Inevitably though, it crosses everyone's mind. Or rather, for the lack of a better description, engulfs the mind with an intensity that would make a raging wildfire green with jealousy. It, of-course being the question that shakes the very essence of existence of even the strongest people out there.

In the words of the inimitable Dr. Sheldon Cooper, Ph.D., the question can be phrased as "To what end?". Upon most of us though, as we tread wearily through the brobdingnagian monotony that is life, it slowly dawns as a realisation that we don't really know what we want from it.

Given that this question, at least for a lucky few amongst us, results in the forging of a path that they follow for the rest of their natural born life, we may safely assume that this, in fact, is the the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything.

For most of us though, this realisation transcends the feeling of falling down an endless pit, with the damn thing not even possessing the common courtesy of having a bottom (Remember, its not the fall that kills you, its the sudden stop at the bottom that does!). Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that the feeling of not knowing the answer makes one suicidal, its just that the metaphorical bottom to that pit might be a jolt enough to make one sit up, take stock of life, think, ponder, contemplate. In other words, the metaphorical bottom is the epiphany all of us are waiting to have.

Sadly, so far, any epiphany to the purpose of life has eluded me with the same gusto as the Road Runner evading Wile E Coyote.

Why then all of a sudden, in the dying hours of the year, am I rambling about my (so far) wasted life. I guess it is because despite trying to, I cannot answer the question "What do you do?" with "I'm living my dream", which undoubtedly is the best response that could ever be garnered for this question. Or maybe it is just because despite enough attempts to do otherwise, I am going to spend the new year's eve in the exact same manner I did last year; Asleep before the new year dawns (per IST).

Whatever the reason be, 2011 does not seem to be bringing any breakthroughs. So if any of you out there, who chance upon this rant, have but even a sliver of insight into how to figure out what I want, lemee know.

PS: The crux of the matter however is that even after going through whatever trials and trepidations that lie in the path of getting to know what I want, what I really want, or rather, what I need may be something else entirely. But that perhaps is a topic for another day.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Custom Message v3.0

It has been a really really long time since I last posted here my compilation of status messages that I find below friends' names in the various messengers that I use. More than two and a half years actually (damn, that IS long). Since then, countless status messages have been displayed in my messenger friend lists, and some that catch my eye are saved to a raggedy text file somewhere in the depths of my hard disk. But it is now time.

I'll start with something which, while having flashed across my gtalk window ages ago, sorta perfect fits the current situation that the world is in.
"Due to recent cutbacks and until further notice, the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off." This one was from Jay Mody/Drumster.

Related to the same subject is the next one from fundoome:
"There are 10^11 stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it's only a hundred billion. It's less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers."

Given that the state of the world is not so good, few people do have their doubts about the future. And thus Babboo said:
"The problem with future is that though it is supposed to be better it keeps turning into present."

And on similar lines, Cyrix says:
"A man once told me, "Cheer up, things cud b worse." So I cheered up, and sure enuf, things got worse."

Hmmm, given that the above few post a very depressing picture of the world, lets move on to slightly lighter stuff....

Lets start with another one from Cyrix:
"I hated going to weddings. All the grandmas would poke me saying "You're next". They stopped that when I started doing it to them at funerals."

This post wouldn't be complete without the trademark geeky status message, so here it is, courtesy Anikh Thakur:
"I would love to change the world, but they won't give me the source code."

Last time around, there were a few engineers pissed at Newton and gravitation. We have one more. This one's from Indranil, a fellow engineer and IITian.
"sometimes as an engineer i wish that Newton had decided to sit under a coconut tree ;)"

Talking of IITs, they are magical places, and as usual, the examination time brings out some of the finest status messages to come out of there. The following two deal with the dilemma that the students face towards the end of their stints at IIT.
"xam time realisation : gettin into iit is tough but getting out is tougher :((" - Indranil
"You think getting into IIT is difficult? Try getting out, b***h......" - Rajeev

Some of us believe in getting through these exams and all. Others however differ, as aptly put forward by Abhishek Gupta:
"padh likh kar kya karna hai, ek din sabko marna hai, markar bhi janam liye to nursery se hi to padhna hai!!"

Everyday, countless scientific discoveries are being made. The next statement is from Issac Asimov, but for all purposes, for me, it simply was Vivek Malewar/Matterlogic's status message.
"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, isn't 'Eureka!' but rather 'hmm....that's funny'."

And also, often what the scientists and physicists feel while working hard for these discoveries is also aptly put forward by another Matterlogic status message:
"I feel like i'm diagonally parked in a parallel universe!!!"

A lot many people like eagles for being the majestic creatures that they are. Little do they know that "Eagles may soar, but weasels never get sucked into jet engines." I forgot whose status message this was.

It is human nature to make jokes at the expense of our friends. The next one was the status message of Siva Krishna, making fun of Abhishek Chaudhary a.k.a Chow
Chow (verb.), Lacking hope. example: "After failing to impress women, Abhishek felt chowed"

Talking about friends, Anshul Singhal said:
"I don't like to commit myself about heaven and hell - you see, I have friends going to both the places :)"

Of late, I have been interested in photography and camera equipment (okay, I'll admit, I have been obsessing about it for over a year now). The following two were not status messages but forum signatures picked up when hanging around the forums
"I don't believe in fate, but I do believe in f8" - Mr. Ken Phillips

You gotta know a wee bit about photography to understand the one above, and you for the one below, you need to know about Nikon's DSLR lineup when the D700 was launched (Mid-2008-ish). This would also please the Chuck Norris fans amongst those who understand it.
"Chuck Norris round-house kicked Ken Rockwell's D3, and now we have the D700. Contrary to slanderous claims that the D3 slept with the D300 ~9 months ago!"

Last time around, after I posted the custom message post, I was requested to include a few of my own status messages. Unfortunately, I never remember mine after changing them on the messenger window. Things like twitter now help. This is what I came up during a recent week long spring break from office:
"an idle mind is truly the devil's workshop. But worse than that, it gives you way too much time to think over your own thoughts....."

Fortunately, Rishi Doshi (RiDo) has a solution:
"I like the music loud. So that I can't hear my thoughts."

In life, we are always in the pursuit of happyness, but sometimes, this is what you should have in mind when heading that way:
"If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story....." - Siddarth Khastgir

We also make a lot of mistakes in life, but I guess you'd never learn without making them.
"Here's the thing about mistakes. Sometimes, even when you know something's a mistake, you gotta make it anyway... Even really, really dumb mistakes." - Ted Mosby, Architect, from one of my fav. TV series, How I Met Your Mother.
"Everybody makes mistakes, that's why they put erasers on pencils" - I picked this one up from a blog post, don't remember whose.

For making mistakes, we often criticize a lot of people. This should help you get a little more out of that process:
"Before you criticize people, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away. And you have their shoes." - saw this as Debjeet Sen's status message.

Talking some more about mistakes, one of my friends has caught upon a mistake countless men make. Manuj Nagpal was enlightened with this knowledge:
"Many a man who falls in love with a dimple make the mistake of marrying the whole girl."

If however you do make the mistake, the following are words of wisdom.
"Do u know why a gun is better than a wife? Because u can put a silencer on it." - TKB
"if ur wife wants to learn driving, u shudn't get in her way" - I forget whose status message this was.

We dream a lot about what we want to do and what we want to be, but be very careful, as this quote from one of my favorite game warns:
"Dreams have a nasty habit of going bad when you're not looking." - Max Payne

We all know that English is a very very strange language, with the same word having many meanings, thus leading to funny sounding phrases, strange grammar rules, and on top of that more exceptions than rules. This leads to the following observations:
"More than 1 mouse is mice; more than 1 spouse is spice." - from Bhavesh/Voice

"A famous painter met his death because he could not draw his breath." - Sonali/sonik

There's another one from Sonik, about a cold truth of life.
"If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he'll not bite you. This is the principle difference between a dog and a man."

And as long as we are back to discussing about life, I now present to you(and also close my post with) the status message that got me back into the game, and inspired me to dig out that text file and post the collection of status messages once more. I saw this as a status message a few days ago under Arijit Pal's name on my messenger window.
Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!"

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Laziest Person On the Planet

It's Official now (atleast as per the life and happenings research department of Psycho McCrazy). I am the Laziest person on the entire planet.

I have been lazy almost my entire life, and if you ask, my parents and my aunts and uncles would vouch for that in a jiffy. I would always be totally unenthusiastic to do anything that did not interest me the least bit. Would more often that not get me into more trouble that I had bargained for, but that was my thing. It was what I did. I was lazy.

As the time progressed, I slowly joined the rank of elite procrastinators, laying off all tasks till the latest possible minute, and had even without knowing that it even existed, started following the "Theory of Round Figures". While the exact definition of this theory is something that the original theorizer only can comprehend, it generally means that the most urgent task at hand can wait till the next hour, or the half hour strike before it has to be begun.

But now, my laziness has gone to levels that the even I wasn't prepared to encounter. I mean earlier it was only the things that I disliked or did not interest me, but now even my hobbies and the things that I used to do when lazying off other real tasks have become victim of the unprecedented levels of laziness that I am displaying.

I like photography, but for the last four or so months, I have not taken out my camera and gone out of the room. I was conveniently blaming it on the cold weather, but now that the last few days have been beautifully sunny without the crazy wind blowing, (except for today, damn rain), I still cannot make myself get off my arse and take a walk outside.

I like to blog, and was pretty darn regular in college when I thought that my laziness was at its peak, with all the bunked classes, the endless hours of doing absolutely nothing, and not giving a damn about it. But now, even though there are a thousand things to choose from to write, I cannot make myself to sit in front of my monitor and type some. (Only I know how I have battled the monster of laziness to come up with this post).

I also am an crazy avid videogamer, but now a days, sometimes I am so lazy that I prefer to stay lying in bed rather than getting up, walk three steps to my chair and play on for few hours. This when I used to laze around about zillions of other things just to play for some time longer.

I mean for god's sake, have I become so pathetic, that my laziness is now getting to swallow up the things that I actually liked to do. Anyway, so far this laziness has not gotten to the point where it causes me some real damage, because as yet it has not caused me to miss work or something like that, but given the levels that it has gotten to, I'm not really sure about how long it will be before that happens. Damn, I gotta do something before it gets me!!!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

That Last Maggi!! Postcard from Japan v2.04

There are both benefits and disadvantages to spending sometime in a foreign country like Japan, away from home. The advantages, while not limited to, include the five day work week, dust free environment, the infrastructures of an developed country, going to the Tokyo Game Show and ogling at the booth babes, and the good traffic sense that allows you to ride a bicycle and keep moderately fit. Also, for those who are into experimentation about their food, a great part is that there are so many new dishes to be tried that they can spend a great amount of time on that.

The fact however remains that almost all of the items are non-vegetarian and thus to a lot of people from India that poses a great issue because of their vegetarian dietary restrictions. For someone like me however, who lies in neither categories mentioned above, while survival in Japan is pretty easy as I can eat the stuff that is available easily in the office and hostel canteens, the McDonalds and Mos Burgers at the crossroads and grab the sandwiches from the 24 hour convenience stores and eat whenever.

But, there comes a time when on the days off, the canteens are closed, one's had way too much bread and milk, and the lazy me is in no mood to go out because of the windchill, Maggi comes to the rescue. Simple enough that someone like me with practically ZERO cooking expertise can prepare it in a jiffy, and then eat it steaming hot.

Maggi has been the mainstay of bachelor sustenance for as long as I can remember, as in my elder cousins taking bucketloads of it to college, me also depending a lot on Maggi at the hostel canteen for all late night snacks, and then carrying mass quantity packets of it to both my trips to the Land of the Rising Sun. Maggi without doubt is one of the god's greatest gift to bachelor-kind, nay, mankind.

However, as I now look at the one remaining packet of Maggi remaining with me, I an wishing for the news of anyone coming here from India on any short term trip so that they can carry some and I can stock up on the supply for another few months.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Windchill!!! Postcard from Japan v2.03

Wikipedia describes windchill as follows:
Wind chill is the apparent temperature felt on exposed skin, which is a function of the air temperature and wind speed. The wind chill temperature (often popularly called the wind chill factor) is always lower than the air temperature, except at higher temperatures where wind chill is considered less important.

Now given that Japan is a cold country, these "higher temperatures" are nowhere to be seen except for a short duration of summer. And given it is winter (at least for us people of the northern hemisphere - those down under are perhaps enjoying their beaches right now), windchill is looming larger than life these days.

In the morning, with the air temperature perched somewhere around the lower reaches of the thermometer, and with the wind increasing in strength, windchill becomes the prime reason of dreading the workday, displacing work from its high throne. I mean who in the right state of their minds would ever want to go out to get to office - on a bicycle no less - when the outside conditions are sure to freeze your limbs, give you frostbite and even cause a serious case of brain freeze more often than not.

And all this when we are just halfway into December, they say that the worst is yet to come. And people used to say that Dilli ki sardi was the last nail in their coffins. I challenge them to come here, and face windchill, and just pray that the day does not send their way another dreaded demon of the north - Cold December Rain.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

LANPARTY!!!! Postcard from Japan v2.02

I'm back in the game babay, the game of playing computer games on the LAN with buddies.

One desktop machine (sadly not mine)
Three (or possibly even four lappies)
One 5 port Ethernet Hub
An assortment of multiplayer co-operative, team and every man for himself games.
Four Gamers, three backseat gamers and a hell lot of shouting

The above are the perfect ingredients for a small Lan-Party, and that's what it was last night, though being my first one, the machine was not so well prepared for the gaming. Things will be definitely much better next time though I guess, with me having settled up my lappie for all gaming.

As for yesterday, I was able to hold my own in Age of Empires 2, and Quake 3. And that was without any practice beforehand. This LAN-Party scene is gonna be FUN!!!!!!

I guess it will be a standard Friday night fixture from now on, and maybe Saturday nights too :D

TGS 2008: Postcard from Japan v2.01

I guess I should be honestly thanking Nuke for this. About a month back, one fine Thursday, we was chatting about random things when he happened to send me a link of some photographs from a videogame exhibition. Me did a little more digging, and found out that it was the Tokyo Game Show 2008, it was not over - as in the open-to-public days were the coming Saturday and Sunday, and much more importantly, it was hardly a 15 minutes walk from my current at that time location - the OVTA Training Center.

And thus that weekend came to be known as the weekend of the TGS2008.

Games, were there in plenty, but, also were present what actually draws the crowds to any exhibition related to games and the like. The boothbabes. They were in good numbers at every stand, and nerds were there in greater numbers to get a glimpse and snap photographs. Honest to god, I never ever saw a larger collection of people with cameras hanging around their necks, not even at the Auto Expo 2008. Of-course, how could I get left behind? My camera shutter opened and closed over four hundred times that day - and I was frankly surprised by the fact that my camera battery lasted that long.

At the end of the day, with my legs broken from standing and walking around all day, I thought that even though nothing significant had been accomplished except filling two memory cards, I can atleast tease all my friends with "being there, done that" :P.