Thursday, May 26, 2005

Do you have a life?

Outside of work that is. I don't mean going home and switching on the TV; well, not all the time anyway. What I mean to ask is whether you have other interests that keep you occupied, that take your mind off work.

It could be something as simple as cooking, gardening, reading a book, going for a walk, meeting friends, watching movies (in movie theatres), taking care of a baby, talking to your wife (when the TV's off!), volunteering, or whatever else interests you. Something, anything to get your mind off work.

In my experience, if you have other interests, they usually help you lead a balanced kind of life. If work consumes you all the time, you'll burn out pretty quickly. Plus, when you have problems at work, if you have other interests, life won't seem so bad and you'll be able to deal with the problems much better.

Okay, got to go now. The season finale of American Idol is on.

Liverpool's wonder boys

In the Champions League final yesterday, AC Milan's Paulo Maldini (yes, he's still playing!) scored in the first minute. Milan then added two more goals, one through a beautiful pass from the Brazilian Kaka that was threaded through the eye of a needle and dissected the Liverpool defense. Half-time score: 3-0 Milan.

Milan played a perfect half, they couldn't have done it any better. They swarmed Liverpool, didn't allow them to have any proper attacks, it looked like it was going to be a rout. Game over right? That's what the experts in the studio, the commentators, everyone said. I was watching the game and something told me NOT to switch off the TV and go to bed.

The second half started with Liverpool not really impressing for about 10 minutes. Then, their captain Stephen Gerrard scored a superb goal off a header and Liverpool was back in business. The fans started making noise. Vladimir Smicer added a scorcher of a long-range shot and suddenly Liverpool were just one goal down. Milan looked like they were in trouble. And they were. Gerrard was brought down in the box a few minutes later. The penalty was saved beautifully by the Milan keeper (Dida) but the ball ricocheted and Xabi Alonso, the penalty taker, slammed the ball home. 3-3. In about seven minutes, Liverpool had done the unthinkable.

Liverpool would eventually go on to win on penalties and claim the Champions League (while I'd dozed off, a fact I am not proud of, but will admit), and maybe resurrect the chances of keeping their captain Stephen Gerrard, who it is rumoured might be going to Chelsea.

I'm an Arsenal fan but this was a game of fantastic football and another reminder of why the game is so popular around the world. Can't wait for the next season.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Revenge of the Sith

When you know that Anakin Skywalker is going to turn to the dark side of the force and become Dath Vader, you know that the movie has to be interesting and this one doesn't disappoint. Finally, George Lucas has made a movie (prequel) that makes you want to watch the original Star Wars trilogy.

This movie has a lot of action, a lot of drama, and some sappy romance, which we could've done without. There's a certain sadness you feel (along with Obi-Wan) when Anakin turns over to the dark side, though you know it's coming. You'll also never root for a villain the way you do when Anakin finally puts on the costume that makes him Dath Vader. That scene gave me goose bumps and a few people in the theatre clapped and whistled. There are a few lightsaber fight sequences to keep die-hard fans happy; I liked the one between Yoda and the Dark Lord the best. It's quite something to see Yoda do a bit of fighting, showing that he's no pushover.

Overall, I think this movie is by far the best of the three prequels. However, it doesn't recapture the magic of the original Star Wars trilogy. To be fair to Lucas, a movie like The Empire Strikes Back is hard to live up to. He does redeem himself in this movie though and it is enjoyable (though slow at times) and fun to watch.

A far cry from Attack of the Clones.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Lending CDs and books

I lent my Jupiter Cafe CD (Thermal and a Quarter) to someone that I'd dated a couple of times. She never gave it back.

She had a book of mine, Michael Crichton's Travels (a fabulous book), never got that one back either. The TAAQ CD, I can buy again. The book, it's not been available in bookstores. I check every time I go. I'll check on Sniff!

Note to all of you lenders out there:Never, ever lend stuff to people you're dating. No exceptions.

I lost a Mark Knopfler CD (Sailing to Philadelphia) and another amazing CD Friday Nights in San Francisco (McLaughlin, Al Di Meola, and Paco Di Lucia) because I lent them to a friend. Bread's Greatest Hits to another friend, never got that one back either. Lost touch with both of them. I'll buy the CDs and the books eventually but I'm really careful about lending now-a-days.

The thing is that I too did take someone's books and I never returned them. Twice.

The first incident happened when I was just out of (high) school. I got these comics from a friend and I returned some but somehow some of them I never got around to returning and I lost touch with that friend.

Then, there was this book by C S Lewis, The Great Divorce, which a friend in the US lent me and I somehow never returned his book. Again, lost contact. I gave it away to a friend when I was returning back to India.

I still feel bad about what I did. Maybe someday I'll get to meet those two people and return their books, or buy them a real nice dinner. Maybe I won't even get an opportunity. Maybe my books and CDs not being returned is payback for what I did. Yeah, I'll take it, but it hurts.

The books you own and CDs you own, they grow on you and you start to care about them. (Yes, I know they are inanimate things and I know that I am partially crazy.)

I'd never lend a book to someone who'd give it back to me with curry stains. You have to be careful about who you lend your books to. I still take risks and give books to people I've never lent before. I tell them: If you deface my books or something happens to them, I'll hunt you down and make sure you burn in the fires of book-haters hell. Something like that anyway.

So, if you ever borrow a book or a CD from me, as Robert De Niro says (Meet the Parents), I'll be watching you.

The Stupidity of Worrying About Piracy

John Scalzi, author of the book Old Man's War, has written an interesting article/post about why writers shouldn't bother too much about piracy, especially the kind. He writes:
The quick and obvious answer to this -- if one is paranoid about piracy -- is that in a brick and mortar store, someone can't take a screen capture of your book, run it through software and make a readable text file of your book that they then post on Kazaa, arrrrrr, for all their scurvy friends to read for free. And the answer to this is: Well, jeez, people. As if that very same would be pirate couldn't check out my book from the library and do the same damn thing with a scanner. I'm not terribly convinced that doing a screen capture of every single page of my book on Amazon is any less work than scanning in every single page of a print copy.
If you liked that, then go read the full piece. Thanks to Angela at for the link.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Can you really trust the news?

Newsweek posted a story a couple of weeks ago about the desecration of the Quran (by US military investigators) at Gauntanemo Bay (Cuba). The story sparked off protests and riots in many Muslim countries. According to the The Guardian:
In Afghanistan at least 17 people died and more than 100 were injured in the worst street violence the country has seen since US troops ousted the Taliban in 2001.
Newsweek then apologised for the post yesterday . Newsweek reported that the story was based on a defense source that has been credible in the past. This time he got it wrong. While Newsweek did apologise, they are standing behind the story and not retracting anything.
But in an interview, the Newsweek editor, Mark Whitaker, mounted a robust defence of his staff, insisting the magazine would not make any retraction, that it did nothing "professionally wrong", and that nobody at the title would be disciplined over the report.

We're not retracting anything. We don't know what the ultimate facts are.
It'll be interesting to see where the investigation goes now., a media watch group, says that Newsweek got it right and cites various reports about the abuse in this article.

After all the scandals that have plagued journalism lately, I'm not sure whether any news report (from any media source) should be completely trusted. Read stuff, be informed, but also leave room for the possibility that it might not be correct.

The worst part of all this is that people were killed over a news report. Any way you look at that, it's shame.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Seamless integration

The phrase seamless integration is used in almost all software-related marketing. Almost every company claims that their software can be seamlessly integrated with your company's existing systems. Here's what the definition says:
It implies that the new feature or program can be installed and used without problems.
Yeah, and I'm Michael Jordan. Seamless integration is a bunch of crock for the most part and everyone knows it, but the phrase is used in almost every marketing collateral that I've read. It's like if you don't put it, people are going to say: What? Your software can't be seamlessly integrated?

Next thing you know, they'll be using it everywhere. We seamlessly integrate your children into our school.

Just stay away from seamless integration. And while you're at it, stay away from using user friendly as well.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Time management for anarchists

Here's an interesting Flash presentation/movie about time management. The creator, Jim Munroe, says:
It's based on the paradoxical notion that anarchists have to be more organized than average if they don't want to depend on power structures, and presents some ideas on how to kick the boss habit.
It's a neat presentation (about 10 minutes on my net connection) and explains concepts in a way that's easy to understand, even if you're not a geek. Thanks to Slacker Manager for the link.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Scott Berkun's book on project management

Scott Berkun, the UI Web guy, has written a book called The art of Project Management, and you can download a sample chapter and read the table of contents here.

While you're there, you might also want to check out his essays. He's written some good stuff there.

Pain in your wrists, hands?

Here's a neat post about what to do if you have pain in your wrists while using the computer.

If you're right-handed (like I am) and have experience pain in the right wrist (like I do), you'll find this bit of information really useful.
The first thing I did was switch to using the mouse with my left hand. I’m left-handed, so it was an easy switch to make, but I know right-handed people who starting mousing lefty to keep their wrist from hurting. It takes very little time to get used to the change, and it’s easy to switch back to using a right-handed mouse if you’re using someone else’s computer. That alone reduced the pain in my right wrist significantly.

This post is a must read for anyone who uses a computer for long periods.