Happy Independence Day

On the eve of 67th independence day, I wish you all a happy Independence day. But lets not stop by just wishing each other.
Lets a go a step further and do a bit of our duty to truly get freedom for what each one ought to do.

So, lets
1) vote candidates who will make India a better place to live.
2) elect officials who will minimize government interference in our lives
3) be aware of our rights and duties (at least to some extent)
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamental_Rights,_Directive_Principles_and_Fundamental_Duties_of_India

What do you think? Feel free to add more in the comments.

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Alone together

I prefer talking face to face rather than texting and chatting. I remember discussing about over-selves and our surroundings and any other topic that made sense at that point of time during school and college days. These discussions were mostly with friends rather than family members as family thought that I was too young to participate in their discussions.

As time passes, face to face discussions are being overtaken emails, texting and chatting. and we are hooked to it! Of course there could be reasons for not being in person at that point of time or place, but are we losing the human touch?

As we expect more from technology, do we expect less from each other? Sherry Turkle studies how our devices and online personas are redefining human connection and communication and (in this video) asks us to think deeply about the new kinds of connection we want to have.

New Year resolutions and other upadates

First of all, a very happy new year to all the readers. I know its been 19 days post-New year, to be exactly. I have been keeping busy lately, especially from the start of the year! I want to take this opportunity to give you some updates (yes, yes, manager’s style of starting a meeting ;))

New Year resolution

The tradition of new year resolutions started as a moral favor- mostly to be good to others. In the course of time, these moral intentions were replaced by prayers and fasting. And now they are replaced by TODO list!

Every year I used to make New Year resolutions, only to find them being forgotten within some days. So this time I decided not to make any. Yes you read it rightJ. As Akshar has said, only thing that changes in the new year is the CALENDER; nothing else.

I am hoping to have a fantastic year ahead, both personally and professionally. Instead of resolutions, I am taking concrete steps to contribute to bridge the digital divide, work on tutoring and start working on a product/service.

Spoken Tutorial

This is an initiative by MHRD to pass on the knowledge of technology and free and open source software (FOSS) through the website to the masses that do not have the access to learn any software. This site provides videos and notes on FOSS in Indian regional languages.

I have actively started contributing to this project. I would urge you to participate/contribute in this effort to take software education to the masses and to bridge the digital divide!

Tutoring/Lectures

I love tutoring/teaching. I am not sure how, but that’s something in my blood. I have been helping my brother, sister, cousins and neighbor’s kids in their homework. It might sound very easy but its easier said than done, when compared to giving advice to others. Just ask a parent and you would know!

During college days, I wish I knew how to prepare myself before entering the industry. I want to help the current students to make them aware of the industry, be prepared and mould themselves accordingly. I hope this would bridge the industry-academia divide to some extent.

To practice myself, I have started technology sessions for team members. Soon I would be starting giving sessions on technology and programming to students; I am sure this will help the students immensely while starting their career.

New Product/Service

These days I have been thinking, discussing with friends and colleagues, brainstorming about creating a product or a service. Being in the IT industry, my thinking (and I am extrapolating this from my experience, that others in the industry too are thinking this way) has been restricted to creating only software products/services. But there are many possibilities/opportunities out there that are yet to be tapped. If you are thinking of creating a start-up and are want to have some ideas, do visit these articles written by Paul-

http://www.paulgraham.com/ideas.html

http://www.paulgraham.com/organic.html

I would like to hear about your ideas for new products/services/startup and engage, if possible.

I am currently accessing a possibility of creating a software product/service and its in the very early stages. More will follow as the idea materializes.

Swami Vivekananda

12th January marked the 150th birth anniversary of a person who dared to say “Give me 100 youths and I shall transform India”. Despite many odds and poverty, he visited America in 1893 to participate in the Chicago Parliament and got a standing ovation there.

I revere Swami Vivekananda, whose life and works remains an inspiration to me and the many.

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I will be going back to Pune within weeks. It was a good time spent here in the Maximum City.

Programmers and reading

A few days back, I was looking for good videos/links to interview questions on technical topics specifically for .NET. Unfortunately Google didn’t help me much to search for the required content. In the end I bought the book of questions and answers and found it useful to go through it, rather than spending time in searching for the content on net.

I was an avid reader during school and college days.I would spend the days and nights reading a novel-be it historical or a classic. However the reading habit slowly died out as i started working for the employer. Lately I have been trying to read Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson, but I am stuck in the first chapter itself:(

Jeff Atwood (he is my favorite blogger) points out that programmers don’t read books, largely due to

  1. Programmers are addicted to computing devices, be it PC, laptop, tablet or a smart phone, and with the inefficient but relatively available internet connection, they prefer to find things online.
  2. The whole bunch of technical aspects are packed in the book, whereas the programmer would be interested to find out about the problem at hand.
  3. it does take a fair amount of time to read the whole book- and people don’t have time in this digital era.

I found stack overflow the right Q&A site for technical questions. Quora is a great Q&A site if you want to look for some specific content or if you are looking for an answer to a specific question.

The world has changed…

A few years back (dont remmeber the exact time; am I losing memory?) when I was in Pune, I had this thought that the world has changed – especially for the women, when I saw a girl with a laptop in a park. This image is a reflection of the same thought.

What do you think about this image? Does it make you think about the surroundings that have chnaged? I am eager to know your thoughts.

BTW, do check out the biography of “Lady with the lamp“.

Writing an essay

When I remember the good old school days, one thing that comes to my mind is the writing of the essays. Every time we approached vacation the language teacher would ask us to write about our plans about how we would spend our vacation. And again write about how we spent it post-vacation. This was the case for the festivals too. Not to mention the exam time when we had to write an essay on a given list of choice.

In general the essay would consist of the topic sentence, introductory paragraph, supporting paragraphs and conclusion. The conclusion/moral was the necessary or rather the compulsory part of the essay/story. Every story was to have to have the moral as if it was the necessary evil. Akshar writes more about the moral of the story here.

In his article on the age of the essay, Paul Graham reflects on the way essay has been written for ages- detailing the way we have come to write the essay, while also talking about what an essay really is.

Paul rightly points out that writing an essay has become synonymous to writing about English literature and symbolism in Dickens, rather than taking an imaginative ride with the author and enjoying it.

He also says that the reader should find something interesting and should surprise the reader (and to some extent the author himself). This will make the reader feel that he/she has got/learnt something and would make him/her come back to read more.

Drawing a conclusion is not necessarily the part of the essay. I would say its better to let reader draw his own conclusion, rather than forcing the author’s one.

The Internet has provided the immense opportunity for the common man to write about their views/opnions and essays. Certainly the blogs have provided a good platform for it.

My blog post is one such an essay. Now this is surprising even for me-I didn’t realize it when I started writing this post:)

SOPA, PIPA and Online Piracy

US wants the SOPA and PIPA legislation be implemented to curb online piracy. They cite the reason that the piracy is adversely harming the growth and IP of entertainment industry.

As a protest against SOPA and PIPA bills tabled by the Congress in US, Wikipedia, Google and other technology big players including  7000 sites have blacked-out. Here is the sneak peek- of Wikipedia page-

Although the bill is aimed at curbing the online piracy, it curbs the net users’ liberty. More about the legislation can be found at http://sopablackout.org/learnmore.

Akshar has beautifully summarized about the reasons and implications of this bill in his blog post. It is important we know about the legislation and the implications if it becomes a bill.

The creator of the www – Tim Berners Lee slams the legislation itself saying that the SOPA violates the human rights.

Clay Shirky, a writer, consultant and teacher on the social and economic effects of Internet technologies explains ‘Why SOPA is a bad idea’ in this TED video.

I hope more and more people become aware of the what those in power are up-to.

Update: Indian govt is coming up with Privacy bill. Its interesting to note the (so called) experts –
http://cis-india.org/news/constitution-of-group-of-experts.