Saturday, September 29, 2007

Blame it on the barber!

I had to blame someone and the butler has already taken too many blames in all the murder mysteries.

Well, this thought was triggered during my recent visit to the barber for a haircut.

I guess it was there even earlier, but I noticed it more only this time. There was a small TV showing endless repeats of clips from the Indian Twenty20 victory. nothing strange in itself, but it was just that I used to associate saloons with radio.

during school time, i remember listening to Vivid Bharati blaring at full blast in almost all the saloons.

I also have a special affinity towards the radio. from school days, i had to have some sounds in the background while studying and that was the radio.

starting with an old valve radio at home that my grandfather used to listen to, i moved to transistors and more fancy world receivers. at one time, I had more than a dozen radios in my collection.

one of them, that i still have - is a philips transistor, that i bought out of my saved pocket money, originally meant for my german language class fees.

for a few years, i was a serious SWL - short wave listener - as i could not make the time to become a full fledged HAM - radio amateur. that exposed me to not only many countries and cultures, but also some interesting events and friendship, including a tapespondent friend in Austria.

getting back to the main topic - with TV, i feel bad that the radio is not getting its proper attention.

Of course the FM stations have revived some interest and since many of us have to spend long hours on the road - in traffic jams, this helps.

i have been one of the early subscribers to worldspacce, backwhen it was still free! now, they have already announced an increase in the subscription fees for next year. but, i think i will continue to subscribe.

I like the variety and the quality of transmission. there is still a lot more to be done in terms of the programming quality, but gives me the variety and the channel that unobtrusively stays in the background, while i can do something else also in the background.

all said and done, i would still like to have the radio back in the barber shop! at least it would not make me strain my neck to watch what is playing on TV, while i get my hair cut. and maybe, who knows, it might interest you too to start listening more to the radio!!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

the answer is in the question

nothing very philosophical..
i participated in a business excellence assessment on behalf of CII [the confederation of Indian industry].
it was an interesting experience - as it has been in the last 9 years that i have been participating.
every time, a new learning - both from the fellow assessors as well as the applicant organization.

the main difference between an audit - which many organizations are used to - and revolves around non compliance, an assessment is more to understand the maturity of various aspects that contribute to excellence in the way the business is run.
this requires a lot of reading, both what is written and between the lines - and also probing to elicit more information..

so, it becomes very important to know how to ask and what to ask.
many times, we start without knowing whom to ask. that becomes clearer based on initial interactions.

i am reminded of a story about a young priest who asked his bishop if he could smoke while praying. not surprisingly, the bishop answers NO. later that day the young priest meets an older priest puffing away while praying. he tells the senior "you should not be smoking while praying. the bishop does not condone that".
"that is strange. i asked the bishop and he allowed me" says the other priest.
curious, the young priest asks him -"what did you ask him?"
"well, i asked him if i could pray while smoking and he said that it was OK to pray at any time".

i also get a lot of questions about how to search in Google. many times it so happens that some persons find relevant results quickly while others keep searching..

it is a combination of choice of right keywords, ignoring non-relevant results etc and expand the search based on some initial results.

like my childhood hobby of DXing - or hunting for distant radio stations, i guess 'wilfing' is a good time-pass..

also, through that, one can collect trivia and other information that could be useful later.
and help narrow down the searches in the future.

so, to quote an old song - "the answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind".
we just need to be receptive and tune in to pick the right one for us.

p.s. wilfing is to surf aimlessly or get lost while following one link after another and get to a point when we say 'What was I Looking For'

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Homemaking '-101'

a couple of months ago, i had the opportunity to be a home maker, as Anandi was traveling for a few weeks.
I was looking forward to the role with great anticipation.
The first few days were very tense. did not realize that apparently simple things could be very complicated and need attention to a lot of detail.
among the responsibilities was to prepare the breakfast and lunch for the kids.

from choosing what to make, and having the ingredients ready and use the right recipe [to also cater to the tastes of each person], each activity was an opportunity for disaster, and, to prove Murphy's laws.

sure enough, the milk wouldn't curdle in time; the milkman may turn up late; the quantity of veggies would become very less after deep frying; etc etc etc.

so, to crunch time - that would be a great help to get everything ready in 15 minutes in the morning, rather than the hour and half that it took - parallelizing processes was a sudden brainwave.
but, having multiple stoves on, added to the complexity of juggling with multiple stirrers, ingredients that need to be added and of course the time taken to cook each of the dishes.
just when sugar needed to be added to the tea brew, milk would start boiling..

another idea that was suggested was pre-processing or part-processing. why not make the rice the previous night, so that one just needs to mix with the gravy etc to make a flavoured rice the next morning.
that helped saving some time in the morning, but the results were not something that one could show off.. the taste and texture were surely not as it would be, when freshly made in the morning.
so, back to square one.

anyway, a lot of learning: hence the title for the post as '-101'. there was more learning from mistakes..
so, i now know many what-not-to-do or how-not-to-do than what or how to do it.

i am getting another option to repeat the course :-).

will try something more / different, and, share experiences in the blog soon..

Sunday, September 2, 2007

time and distance

this was something that we learnt in school. that between two points there is distance and also a dimension of time.

one of the points that struck me while i was traveling the last couple of weeks was that there has been some compression of distance - by faster travel as well as information and communication technologies that make it easy to acces information or even people.

time, however is still synchronous - what a great revelation.

i think i wrote about this earlier - compression of time, while talking about accelerated learning.
can we make time asynchronous? email is a good example. it lets individuals participate at their own time pace. but then, the elapsed time for a communication or transaction is much higher.
can we make time asynchronous? maybe that is the key to making meetings more effective. In this trip, i had to sit up almost all night once, to participate in a discussion where all the other participants were in bangalore. and continue staying up for a call with germany. since i was traveling the next day, it was not all that bad, but otherwise, the day/night continuum has an impact on the body clock.

which brings me to another recenet study of some BPO organizations. this study found that the maximum stress levels and consequent attrition seems to be in the US shift, compared to the European of Far east shifts. wonder why..

when you start wondering about things, it could lead to interesting possibilities. when i was talking to someone about the new airlines - IATA - baggage regulations, apparently brought in by the load handlers unions - that the maximum weight for a suitcase should be 50 lbs - 23 kgs. a change from the earlier size based limit for passengers form / to the US, there was a suggestion to have helium filled suitcases, that would weigh less than they actually are.
while it sounded quite a possibility, not sure what the catch would be..
any comments?

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Video blogging

after my hello world, the world has not gone quiet.
i have - at least on this blog, with too many things happening.
after shooting some videos during tht recent trip to coorg - and a few pictures during the kolkata visit - the old fad of digital capture of still and moving images looks interesting once again.

my latest fad in this ares is desktop video.
one of my projects for this weekend.

let me see how much progress i can make..