Convocation

March 24th, 2007

Yay! I got the Bachelor of Engineering yesterday. The Chief Guest for the occasion was Mr.Srinivasa Raghavan, Managing Director, Sundaram Finance Ltd. Yesterday was the absolute last day at college. Met all my friends with whom I had an awesome time, all the girls who were crushes etc. After the function was over, all the guys from our class gathered around for a get-together at the Besant Nagar beach after which we headed for a good dinner.

Apart from all this, there was one noteworthy incident that happened at the college yesterday. After we received the degree from the Chief Guest and made some customary snaps, myself and Moyeen were summoned by our college Director, Mr.Marie Wilson. I started a technical club at my college when I was in third year and got Moyeen and some more juniors to assist me in those activities. The club soon got popular with the students and we used to conduct technical sessions at regular intervals. We were sanctioned laptops for the technical sessions… we were given preference over the staffs for usage of the laptop :))

When he summoned us, he still remembered all that and enquired about when we were going to build our own company. I was bit surprised at that question being very direct and told him that we would start off very soon. He also told us that we can come to college anytime to use its resources for the persual of our “future” company. And yes, apart from the amazing encouragement from my parents and friends at college, a small incident happened during my 3rd year at college which triggered all the tech sessions, laptops, Microsoft Student Partner etc., just to prove a point.

Don’t know when I will ever get to meet all my classmates again. As one of them said, “Macha, if anybody marries in the near future, please inform all of us.” … Lol !!

Hi guys, just made a new post on my tech blog that tells how to configure the MT880 router for port redirection.

Read it here.

Hi guys, I use the MT880 Huawei router for my broadband connection. I use the connection not as a dialled one as mentioned here but as a gateway; meaning, you can just open your favourite browser and start surfing the internet.

When I use the router as a gateway, I cannot give my system IP address to my friends to test any webpage because the router acts as a proxy. The only solution for this is port redirection. Port redirection means that a request on a particular system on a particular port will be redirected to another system on another port.

I had been trying in and out to configure the “Virtual Server” section to redirect to my system but in vain. Today, I found an excellent tutorial in one of the forum threads at vinuthomas.com, explaining the steps to achieve the same. I have downloaded the tutorial and uploaded it again on my server. Download it here and enjoy configuring your MT880 router to run your own web applications.

The Sabeena Man

March 18th, 2007

Most households (atleast in Chennai) know a dishwash powder called Sabeena. Its rate is just under Rs.5/- and almost everyone can afford it. There is a man living near my house. The first thing you would notice in him is that his teeth is crooked. If you just continue your examination on him, you would notice that his legs are shaped awkwardly. More examination reveals that he cannot talk properly. He doesn’t stammer, but his voice is a blabber to hear. His eyes are squint, hands are also not proper. He wears a torn slipper. If he goes to any other area other than the place he lives in, the street dogs would tear him apart.

Now, there is one thing special about him. He is an entrepreneur :D. He has been running his own telephone booth for more than a decade. These days, he has also started supplying a dishwash powder to nearby homes; including mine. He toils day in and day out to earn a few bucks so that he can sleep peacefully with the satisfaction of earning and eating his own bread. THAT is an awesome attitude… which many of us should follow.

Until today, with the conversations I have had with him, he has never complained of his disabilities. He just doesn’t consider them to be a stopping point in his path forward. There is something to learn from him for many of us.

proto.in – Second Edition

March 10th, 2007

Following the success of proto.in version 1, The Knowledge Foundation team is gearing up for the second edition called “proto.in Summer Edition”. The time ahead is damn exciting. You can get more information from the proto.in website. If you had attended the first edition proto.in and you have feedback to give, please mail us at admin@proto.in.

Sponsorship kit, media kit and other necessary items are on their way. They should be out in a couple of weeks. Preparations have started way ahead this time… Let wait and watch about how this event turns out to be.

GNU & GIFs

March 5th, 2007

Hi guys, I just learned that the whole website of gnu.org doesn’t use GIF images. I just read through the reason and was bombed :-)

Crux of the Reason: Unisys and IBM have patented the LZW compression algorithm which is used in generated GIF images. Read the full article.

Also, the page links to a library called libungif, which uncompresses GIF images written using the LZW algorithm and writes them in uncompressed format. The philosophy section of GNU.org is very interesting. Please go through it.

hmm…

Some days back, I linked to a post on GigaOm which did sound scary. In that post, Om mentions about an article called “A Myth called the Indian Programmer,” on the Times of India newspaper. Fortunately enough, that article came as an email forward and here it is. The issues they have mentioned in the article is worth pondering about.

Here is the article… I mean the email forward. That speaks for itself. The article is long, but its a good read.

Do you know what an Indian software engineer does for a living? T Surendar finds uncomfortable answers.

They are the poster boys of matrimonial classifieds. They are paid handsomely, perceived to be intelligent and travel abroad frequently. Single-handedly, they brought purpose to the otherwise sleepy city of Bangalore. Indian software engineers are today the face of a third-world rebellion. But what exactly do they do? That’s a disturbing question.

Last week, during the annual fair of the software industry’s apex body Nasscom, no one uttered a word about India’s programmers. The event, which brought together software professionals from around the world, used up all its 29 sessions to discuss prospects to improve the performance of software companies. Panels chose to debate extensively on subjects like managing innovation, business growth and multiple geographies. But there was nothing on programmers, who you would imagine are the driving force behind the success of the Indian software companies. Perhaps you imagined wrong. “It is an explosive truth that local software companies won’t accept. Most software professionals in India are not programmers, they are mere coders ,” says a senior executive from a global consultancy firm, who has helped Nasscom in researching its industry reports.

In industry parlance, coders are akin to smart assembly line workers as opposed to programmers who are plant engineers. Programmers are the brains, the glorious visionaries who create things. Large software programmes that often run into billions of lines are designed and developed by a handful of programmers. Coders follow instructions to write, evaluate and test small components of the large program. As a computer science student in IIT Mumbai puts it “if programming requires a post graduate level of knowledge of complex algorithms and programming methods, coding requires only high school knowledge of the subject.” Coding is also the grime job. It is repetitive and monotonous. Coders know that. They feel stuck in their jobs. They have fallen into the trap of the software hype and now realise that though their status is glorified in the society, intellectually they are stranded. Companies do not offer them stock options anymore and their salaries are not growing at the spectacular rates at which they did a few years ago.

There is nothing new to learn from the job I am doing in Pune. I could have done it with some training even after passing high school, says a 25-yearold who joined Infosys after finishing his engineering course in Nagpur. A Microsoft analyst says, Like our manufacturing industry, the Indian software industry is largely a process driven one. That should speak for the fact that we still don’t have a domestic software product like Yahoo or Google to use in our daily lives.

IIT graduates have consciously shunned India’s best known companies like Infosys and TCS, though they offered very attractive salaries. Last year, from IIT Powai, the top three Indian IT companies got just 10 students out of the 574 who passed out. The best computer science students prefer to join companies like Google and Trilogy. Krishna Prasad from the College of Engineering, Guindy, Chennai, who did not bite Infosys’ offer, says, “The entrance test to join TCS is a joke compared to the one in Trilogy. That speaks of what the Indian firms are looking for.”

A senior TCS executive, who requested anonymity, admitted that the perception of coders is changing even within the company. It is a gloomy outlook. He believes it has a lot to do with business dynamics. The executive, a programmer for two decades, says that in the late ’70s and early ’80s, software drew a motley set of professionals from all kinds of fields. In the mid-’90s, as onsite projects increased dramatically, software companies started picking all the engineers they could as the US authorities granted visas only to graduates who had four years of education after high school. “After Y2K, as American companies discovered India’s cheap software professionals, the demand for engineers shot up,” the executive says. Most of these engineers were coders. They were almost identical workers who sat long hours to write line after line of codes, or test a fraction of a programme. They did not complain because their pay and perks were good. Now, the demand for coding has diminished, and there is a churning.

Over the years, due to the improved communication networks and increased reliability of Indian firms, projects that required a worker to be at a client’s site, say in America, are dwindling in number. And with it the need for engineers who have four years of education after high school. Graduates from non-professional courses, companies know, can do the engineer?s job equally well. Also, over the years, as Indian companies have already coded for many common applications like banking, insurance and accounting, they have created libraries of code which they reuse.

Top software companies have now started recruiting science graduates who will be trained alongside engineers and deployed in the same projects. The CEO of India’s largest software company TCS, S Ramadorai, had earlier explained, “The core programming still requires technical skills. But, there are other jobs we found that can be done by graduates.” NIIT’s Arvind Thakur says, “We have always maintained that it is the aptitude and not qualifications that is vital for programming. In fact, there are cases where grad uate programmers have done better than the ones from the engineering stream.”

Software engineers, are increasingly getting dejected. Sachin Rao, one of the coders stuck in the routine of a job that does not excite him anymore, has been toying with the idea of moving out of Infosys but cannot find a different kind of ‘break’, given his coding experience. He sums up his plight by vaguely recollecting a story in which thousands of caterpillars keep climbing a wall, the height of which they don’t know. They clamber over each other, fall, start again, but keep climbing. They don’t know that they can eventually fly. Rao cannot remember how the story ends but feels the coders of India today are like the caterpillars who plod their way through while there are more spectacular ways of reaching the various destinations of life. TNN

Thoughts?