Computers and Internet

From IBM to Apple to Windows to ???

Just before I started writing this post, I have just witnessed one of the seminal events in the history of the computing world: The unveiling of the Macintosh by Steve Jobs in January 1984.

The video would come across as slightly amusing to someone of almost the same age as the Mac itself. Specially the part where Jobs shows off the capabilities of the Mac to the world. The “tricks” performed by the machine would come across as child’s play to someone used to working on the computers of today. I mean, you wouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes to make a power point slide with your name sliding across the monitor, would you?

But that’s not the point. The point is the amazing development that Computer Science has made in the course of the last 2.2 decades. From a machine which looks more like a toaster (pic at the right) to the sexy laptops that we see today, its been one hell of a journey.

Don’t believe me?? Okay, the computing power contained in the original Mac was less than what I have in my cell phone. Puts the whole thing in a new perspective, doesn’t it.

The Macintosh was the first computer to feature a graphical user interface. Before that the tyranny of the command based IBM mainframes had resulted in only a fraction of the people daring to learn to use a computer. In fact, this was one of the points that Apple used in the advertising of the first Mac.

The success of the Mac is also a clear example of the premium people place on the values of simplicity and good design. The value that can be gained from making your product a mass market product rather than the preserve of a few (think IBM Mainframes), can also be seen in the example of the Mac. By mass market I mean something that can be used and understood by the common man.

It is also ironical how far the Mac and Apple have moved from their initial "mass market" image. I mean how many people can actually afford a Mac today? The advent of the cheap, assembled and pirated Windows based computers has resulted in the Mac being relegated to an extremely niche market today. In affect, what the Mac kind-off did to the IBM mainframe in the mid 1980’s was the same as what Microsoft did to Apple a decade later. You just can’t afford to relax.

Will Google manage to do a similar thing to Microsoft tomorrow?

Ladies and Gentlemen, get your popcorn ready… the show has just begun.


Slow Down…

Slow down you crazy child
You’re so ambitious for a juvenile
But then if you’re so smart tell me why
You are still so afraid?
Where’s the fire, what’s the hurry about?
You better cool it off before you burn it out
You got so much to do and only
So many hours in a day

But you know that when the truth is told
That you can get what you want
Or you can just get old
You’re gonna kick off before you even get halfway through
When will you realize…Vienna waits for you

Slow down you’re doing fine
You can’t be everything you want to be
Before your time
Although it’s so romantic on the borderline tonight
Too bad but it’s the life you lead
You’re so ahead of yourself
That you forgot what you need
Though you can see when you’re wrong
You know you can’t always see when you’re right

You got your passion you got your pride
But don’t you know only fools are satisfied?
Dream on but don’t imagine they’ll all come true
When will you realize
Vienna waits for you

Slow down you crazy child
Take the phone off the hook and disappear for a while
It’s alright you can afford to lose a day or two
When will you realize…
Vienna waits for you.

But you know that when the truth is told
That you can get what you want
Or you can just get old
You’re gonna kick off before you even get halfway through
Why don’t you realize…Vienna waits for you
When will you realize…Vienna waits for you

(Orignal Soundtrack – 13 going on 30)

For Amit… (contd.)

After the ILP, we all went our separate ways, some landing
up in Mumbai (like me), some in Delhi
and the rest in TCS offices all around the country. Initially, we were all in
regular touch, with regular mails, SMSes and the works. Gradually, the
pressures of work started catching up and regular touch started meaning a
forward a week, sent blindly without even having a look at the recipients. Even
this was not to last long for most of us.

People like me got so engrossed with our respective lives
that we didn’t have time to even send this mandatory forward. Only a few people
remained who tried to keep the momentum going. Even they looked like fighting a
losing battle…

Meanwhile, my CAT dreams started materializing. The excuse
of studies first and GD/PI later allowed me to convince myself that I don’t
have time for keeping in touch. Ultimately, I somehow converted my MDI call.

While I started packing my bags to leave Mumbai, I sent a
last mail to S22 from my TCS id. Expectedly, the congratulation and farewell mails
started coming in. Since, I was preoccupied with the TCS bond amount and the life
ahead, I couldn’t reply to many of them.

One of the mails was from Amit Kumar Verma, an unassuming reed
thin guy who was an important cog in the BBB wheel. I had a some good moments with
the guy in the place where we were staying in Chennai, Baba’s Ashram. He had
sent me his Gurgaon number and told me to give him a call when I reach Gurgaon.
His place was apparently very near to MDI.

Even after making umpteen reminders to myself, I never got
down to making that one call. The pressures of B-School life had got to me, as
they had previously while I was working. Slowly, past contacts started disappearing
from my life, except for the ones on ORKUT (God Bless Orkut Buyukkokten).

Maybe I had resigned myself unconsciously to this happening.

The reality of life struck today with Shoeib’s mail.

Amit Kumar Verma was no more. Some accident in Goa had taken his life…

Suddenly the rat-race seemed so insignificant and

For the first time, I have felt the need for more
time from life. For a type-B personality like me, this realization is a bolt
from the blue. I always believed that one day I will be able to get back in
touch with my friends. After all, they are my friends; they will be able to
understand my being not in touch, right? WRONG.

The only time that I have is now. It’s the moment to do
whatever I have been thinking for so long. Life is too short.

Forgive me friends, I have learnt my lesson.


For Amit…

Before I started working in TCS, I was sent to Chennai for two
months of training. In TCS parlance, it is called as ILP (Initial Learning

With as grand a name as that, the amount of learning that will
happen is anybody’s guess. The ILP is known to people inside TCS as a "paid
holiday". You are sent to a place far removed from the rest of the world and expected
to learn Computer Science concepts which normally take the entire 4 years of a
CSE Course.

Since the background of people attending an ILP is similar (e.g.
all freshers, all non-software etc.), the kinds of bonds that you forge in
these 2 months are amazing. Basically, the idea of an ILP is to get you to connect
with people with whom you will be working with.

I had my “paid holiday” in Satyabhama Engineering College,
Chennai in August-September, 2004. With the legendary Chennai sun egging me on,
I first entered the so-called corporate world with a whole lot of excitement
and anxiety. The anxiety slowly disappeared as I came to know the people around
me. I saw that they are very similar to me, with the same dreams, the same
aspirations and very similar backgrounds.

The entire training batch was divided into ten groups of
40-50 people each, with me being placed in a group called S22. The S22ians were
a bunch of diverse personalities with each contributing in his/her own way to the gang.

Amongst the S22ians, the people closest to my heart were the
“BBB” or the “Back Bench Boyz”. We were a group of 10~12 guys with the least
regard for studies or the instructors. BBB accomplished a lot of things in the ILP
including finding newer ways to sleep on the last benches during lectures. This
“training” stood us in good stead in our subsequent projects and even beyond
(it still helps me to doze off in classes in College now).

The fact that we were together for just two months never occurred
during that time.

Life seemed like one long holiday…



Some people never learn…

Way back in 1998, Microsoft established itself as the unabashed "King of Live Demonstrations".

The curse of windows users worldwide, the ubiquitous, omnipresent (at least in Windows OS) "Blue Screen of Death", struck its own creator, William H. Gates III.

Watch the video here:

And if you think, Microsoft would have learnt something from this historic episode, think again. They were at it again, this time at a demonstration of the Voice capabilities of Vista.

Well, at least one person seems to have learnt something from the Win 98 episode… Bill Gates himself.

He did not give the demonstration himself this time. Any wonder why…?

Total Crap!

My Adventures in “Saddi Dilli”

My mid-term
exams got over last week. To celebrate the auspicious occasion and to have some
homemade food and sleep, I decided to go to Mathura for the weekend.

I left the
college on Friday afternoon for Mama’s place in order to hitch a ride with him.
I was also hoping that I would also be able to ride back to Gurgaon with him on

But alas!
Wishes don’t always come true.

Mama left
for Agra on
Sunday morning for a doctor’s appointment. At this moment the doctor decided to
play truant and delayed mama’s return till more than 1900 hours in the evening.
This change in situations brought me in a situation where I had to come back to
Gurgaon all by myself. (Poor me!)

unfortunate turn of events resulted me being unable to leave Mathura before 8 in the evening. Decided to
leave by the Taj Express which supposedly left at 7:00 at the time of making
the decision, but suddenly shifted its timings to 8:00 as soon as I had missed
any other possible mode of travelling back.

The train
turned out to be typical Indian railways train… crowded, dirty, and hot. Somehow
survived two and a half hours in the torture chamber of a railway compartment, only
to find out that I have got down at the wrong end of the railway station. Had to
buy another platform ticket as the security was not letting anyone enter the station
without a full security check involving tickets, metal detector and a big
haryanvi cop running his big sweaty hands all over my pants. (ugghhh).

changing four modes of transport I somehow reached the hostel a full 4 and half
hours after I had left Mathura

And all
this time I had my laptop and a bag containing a huge amount of pedas (which by the end of the journey
have become one huge mass of sweet goo) with me. I still feel I am sitting in
the cramped shared taxi with my knees touching my nose. The midnight bath after
coming here has been a major source of relaxation.

since this was the first time I was traveling alone in Delhi, I had to depend a lot on the kindness and
direction-knowledge of total strangers. And about the saying that people in Delhi take special pride
in giving u wrong directions… I was fortunate enough not to have come across
any such sadist character today. In fact in two of my 4 sub-journeys (Sarai
Kale Khan to
Dhaula Kuan and Dhaula Kuan to Iffco Chowk), I actually made friends with fellow travelers,
who like me were also lost, but had some idea about how the city works.

I have
also learnt that when there is even a slight possibility that you may have to
travel by public transport in Delhi,
leave your laptop behind. When you are carrying ur
lappy, a large amount of ur
attention is focused on not letting your expensive toy get bumped off by some
enterprising crook. And the extra load that u have to carry is an obvious negative.

Hence decided:

  1. I will not carry my laptop on
    short duration trips.
  2. I will leave the place in time
    to catch the dinner in the hostel.
  3. Always try to find someone in
    a situation similar to yours while traveling, this makes evaluating
    options easier and may also provide some savings in terms of cost.
  4. Never travel in Delhi around the
    time of a major national holiday like independence day/republic day/Gandhi
    jayanti etc. The security arrangements make life hell.

I will
also have to remember to write some CDs for the kids in Mathura, when I decide to go there next.

(P.S. If Mumbai had the kind of roads and flyovers that Delhi has, it would have been contributing 50% of the country’s tax.)