Monday, January 31, 2005

Comedy and Tragedy

I've been watching News Radio on Star World lately and I realised how much I used to enjoy the show when it was aired in the US. I think I fell in love with Maura Tierney when I watched that show. Still in love, in case you're wondering. That's not what this is about though.

I miss Phil Hartman. He's such a great character on the show and he was such a funny guy. Every time I heard his voice on The Simpsons it made me laugh. Still does, whenever I watch The Simpsons, but now there's a tinge of sadness. In case you didn't know, Hartman was killed by his wife who then committed suicide.

Why do some comics have such tragic endings? Hartman, Chris Farley, John Belushi. It's a shame.

Friday, January 28, 2005

"Microsoft Project" Managers

Based on my empirical observations, Microsoft Project is probably the de-facto tool used by project managers in the software industry. I've never come across ONE project manager who uses another tool.

I don't have anything against Microsoft Project. It's probably a good tool and it looks cool. I've never used it though. I use Microsoft Excel, mainly because of an excellent article I read on scheduling at Joel On Software. Excel works just fine for me. And, I know it's just a tool.

Do you ever feel that project management now-a-days seems to be more about knowing how to use Microsoft Project rather than how to manage projects? You can teach people a project management tool in a few days, but you can't teach people project management skills in a few days. It takes a while longer than that.

But, I'll bet if you came across a project manager's resume and she didn't have MS-Project on there, you'd reject her, probably without an interview. What project manager does not use Microsoft Project? You're outta here!

Sorry, but that's just wrong. Project management is about knowing how to schedule, plan, and execute projects. It's about knowing how to manage people, not "resources". And it's definitely NOT about knowing how to use Microsoft Project, or any other tool for that matter.

Psst -- This blog entry happened because I was talking to Sandeep the other night, and I mentioned it to him and he said, You should blog this.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Google, not so warm and fuzzy

I started using Google sometime in 2000, and after that I've never stopped using it. Till today. For the first time in about five years I'm actually considering switching to another search engine. I even tried out Teoma.

This superb article is what prompted all of this. Dan Kennedy writes:
IS THERE A company anywhere within these United States with a better public image than Google has? We love it. We need it. We use it — more than 200 million times a day, by some accounts. The unofficial slogan — "Don’t Be Evil" — epitomizes everything we want in a business relationship. And more often than not, Google lives up to those words.
Yeah, I always felt like Google was somehow different from the other search engines and other companies. But now, maybe not. Here's more from the article:
But there is another side to Google, and it’s one that the company would just as soon you not think about. It’s what happens each and every time you look up a piece of information...

Or you’re seeking information on how to grow your own marijuana. Who knows? Google knows. According to Lauren Weinstein, an Internet activist and privacy expert based in Southern California, Google keeps track of every search that’s made, as well as the Internet location of the computer from which the search is taking place — and then it stores that information for possible future use. Moreover, he says, it would not be terribly difficult to trace those searches to the person who made them. That’s you and me.

Lauren Weinstein's mentioned this first on his blog and it's another blog I'm probably going to visit from time to time. I've also always ignored Google Watch till now, but maybe I'll pay a little more attention.

It's not like I won't use Google but it's just that I'm not feeling so warm and fuzzy anymore.

-- Updated at 16:30 --

I found Scroogle from Google Watch. They created a search that scrapes the Google search and gives you the results. Think I'm going to try Scroogle Scraper for now. There's more information about scraping here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Anonymously yours

I'm on a mailing list for technical writers, called TWIN (Technical Writers of India) and recently there have been many members who refuse to use a name to identify themselves. They won't even chose a pseudonym, but will use names like Tech Writer, Tech Comm, and other such wonderful nicknames.

You can't get creative enough to come up with a pseudonym? I use my middle name when I'm writing. Make up something. Do what Samuel Clemens and so many other writers did.

Maybe one of the reasons "they" don't want to identify themselves is because there are lots of technical writers on TWIN and you don't want to piss off someone who might interview you when you're out there looking for a job. Fine by me.

Yesterday, however, something happened that wasn't fine. There was a post from someone who called himself/herself TWIN Hater. What a mature way to identify yourself--as a hater of an Internet mailing list! Identity crisis? This person had a long rant about the mailing list (this was apparently his/her first post to TWIN) and then berated an Admin (who is basically a volunteer) publicly on the list. Here's a clipping:
Here are a few adjectives that was commonly used in context of (not abusive lingo):

Assclown, Jackass, (my favorite, hence I put it up first)
Gay (!!)
When I read that last part, my first reaction was, Where is this person from? The dark ages? Wake up, it's the year 2005.

The sign off was original too.
Thanks and Regards,
I just hate TWIN so much....Wake Up It's Monday
Ah, the glories of anonymity.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Reverse interviewing

I wonder why:

  • You interview candidate for a position, but don't allow the candidate to interview you. Additionally, you test the candidate, but don't allow the candidate to test you.

  • You check the candidates references, before you give them an offer, but you don't allow the candidate to check your references (talk to the people in your company).

  • You want to fill a position, so the candidate must join as soon as possible, but when employees want to leave, you make them wait for a month or longer.

I'm not in human resources; what do I know?

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Writers on writing: A thank you

In an ideal world, all books would come with the email addresses of the authors, so that I could write to the authors thanking them for their wonderful books. Since that doesn't happen, here's a thank you note on a blog. Thanks to:

Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones, for opening up the magical universe of writing.

Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way, for releasing that inner artist-child.

Stephen King, On Writing, for giving a glimpse into writing and the writer's life.

William Zinsser, On Writing Well, for illuminating the world of non-fiction.

John Kachuba, How to Write Funny, for collecting such wonderful writers together to teach humour.

Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing, for an insight into the unique, powerful, Bradbury way.

The Elements of Style, Strunk & White, for the pithy lesson on language.

Anne Lamott, Bird By Bird, for a funny and poignant lesson on writing.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Streamload -- 10 GB for your music, photos

I was going through my bookmarks (moving them to folders where they'll never be seen again), when I noticed a bookmark called Streamload. Couldn't remember it, so I thought I'd investigate. Turns out it's a company that offers storage space. Yes, you can get it free.

The free account gives 10GB of Storage (about 200 MP3s or 1 DVD, as they explain) and you can store MP3 files and digital photographs, among other things. You can also sign up for a paid account (or a free account) here. Their restriction on downloads for the free account is 100 MB/month.