Wordless Thursday – Climbing the Corporate ladder

Its rare to see infographics from India and for India. However, here is an excellent infographic from Linked In India to show what you can do to improve your career opportunities. This is not the size I usually go for but I could not find a larger size. Considering that it was on India I ignored my usual call for image quality.

Wordless Thursday is a feature on this blog to bring some interesting infographics every thursday to light. Here is this week’d addition.

Watch this : Do you really need to switch off your phone on the plane ?

All mobile phones these days come with a “flight mode” and when you put this on to flight mode, all connections that transmit or receive are turned off. Be it WiFi or Bluetooth, GSM, GPRS all the modes of communication are closed off and are kept as a feature for usage by companies as many airlines insist on switching these off especially during take off and landing. Not only do they ask passengers to turn off connections they also insist on switching off these days. On my recent trip to India, flying on Emirates, I found myself telling a fellow passenger to switch off his phone as well and had a bit of an argument with him as well.

Nokia Mobile Phone

Emirates is quite a progressive airline allowing people to make and receive calls during flights but even they insist these ceremonies during take off and landing. Once I landed in Dubai and when I have started to look back at the trip I am beginning to think if it is actually required to switch off phones, not just take them to “flight mode” even in this day and age.

Before I present my justification, I think you all should see this video :

First things first most airlines including Emirates Airlines do not really understand the “flight mode” in mobile phones, considering that Android is the most popular Operating Phones these days and Android has the flight mode feature since the early inceptions of the OS, it is clear that Airlines need to pay attention to this setting, considering it was made for them.

Secondly a search trying to find if the mobiles actually cause disruptions in the signal of the sophisticated commercial airliners to today, comes up with some interesting conclusions, here is what I found out. Logic says that Airlines would not let us carry phones if it did, take the scenario that liquids over 100 ml could be mixed to make explosives, so they don’t let us carry more than 100ml. If this was the case with cell phones, they would not have let us carry these. Instead, an arbitrary set of rules established by the FAA and extended by the airlines prohibits iPods during takeoff, but explicitly allow electric shavers to be used during flight.

What about the regulations ? 

The governing body for Airlines and Airports, IATA mentioned in a study commissioned in 1993, suggested that airlines prohibit the use of personal electronic devices during takeoff and landing, despite a lack of evidence that these gadgets had caused a single accident.

In Nov 2009, the Federal Airlines Authority (FAA) of the US again mentioned in an immediate release that “there is insufficient information to support a wholesale change in policies that restrict use of PEDs.” The actual rule from FAA on this is here :

§ 121.306   Portable electronic devices.
(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, no person may operate, nor may any operator or pilot in command of an aircraft allow the operation of, any portable electronic device on any U.S.-registered civil aircraft operating under this part.
(b) Paragraph (a) of this section does not apply to—
(1) Portable voice recorders;
(2) Hearing aids;
(3) Heart pacemakers;
(4) Electric shavers; or
(5) Any other portable electronic device that the [airline] has determined will not cause interference with the navigation or communication system of the aircraft on which it is to be used.
(c) The determination required by paragraph (b)(5) of this section shall be made by that [airline] operating the particular device to be used.
[Doc. No. FAA–1998–4954, 64 FR 1080, Jan. 7, 1999]

The FAA has since approved the use of Wi Fi inside the planes, and also for communicating with Airports and control towers, the frequencies of which (2.4 Ghz) have a similar effect. So based on which your iPhone or Nokia might crash the plane but not your laptop using WiFi ??

The other reasoning 

The other reasoning is that people do not pay attention to the announcements that the crew is making, or the captain is making during take off or landing and thus is a danger eventually. Well I should say good point there, but this should be forced on to your screens at the back of the seat anyway like what Emirates and other carriers do. How are we to trust someone telling us that reading a iPad document during takeoff is dangerous as we stare across a field of EMI-spewing LCD seat-back screens? Or the pilots wearing the digital watches on their wrists much closer to all the gadgets.

Another justification seems that there are those who don’t switch off even after saying it, so everyone should switch off everything. But well if there is no proof that people using these gadgets can cause a risk, then well it should not matter now does it.

The last one seems more like it, people do not want to listen to other people rant even if it means to a loved one. People want to fly and read or reflect on their thoughts when they do so. So if its a way to  “Shut up and fly” then well that is something understandable.

My verdict after reading this : Its a Dumb rule

More interesting Read : 

The 7th Sense and the Indian origin of Kung Fu

I love movies, I love the fact that we can be lost in the movie forgetting all the woes for a while. But then there are movies that make you think, and we would all agree that these type of movies seem to be the best.  I am not a person that usually enjoys movies in languages that I don’t understand. Yes, subtitles are a must but I always believe that Sub titles do not completely translate the dialog exactly.So, well when a close friend recommended a movie that too Tamil movie, I was initially a bit skeptical.

Anyway back to the movie in question, the name of the Movie is 7am arivu, literally translated it means the 7th sense. The movie is loosely based on facts and added fiction to come up with a decently gripping storyline. The movie follows the exploits of Bodhidharma. If you don’t know who that is, well like most Indians you would not. But according to history books, he was the third son to a South Indian King and is the founder of the Zen form of Buddhism along with wait for it, Kung Fu. Here is a trailer of the movie.

Yes, you read that right, Kung Fu. It is believed that Bodhidharma trained the monks at the Shaolin Temple seeing their bad state of health and the martial arts took shape. Interestingly most Indians are unaware of this, but this could be our biggest contribution to the Chinese world. Now well like usual the Inquisitive Mind went in to do some research about Bodhidharma and the truth of the situations, here are the findings.

Bodhidharma was born in Kanchipuram,Tamil Nadu.His original name was Bodhitara.He was born as a prince in pallava dynasty around 440 AD. Some accounts shows that he would’ve been came from Persia , but there was no manuscript evidence to prove it. He was the third child of King Pallava. Being a follower of Buddhism , be was religioussly became a buddisht monk during the 5th/6th century and also credited for zen arts. Hence starting the Zen form of Buddhism. He arrived to china during the Liu Song Dynasty founded by King Liu Yu.

In one legend, Bodhidharma refused to resume teaching until his would-be student, Dazu Huike, who had kept vigil for weeks in the deep snow outside of the monastery, cut off his own left arm to demonstrate sincerity. Shaolin monks and disciples follow a unique practice among Buddhists in that they greet each other using only their right hand.

There is a complete and interesting history and life of Bodhidharma put together at this link which will give more insights and a very fairy tale or storybook type line to Bodhidharma’s life. Interested people should check it out.

The movie however just touches on some highlights of his life, as well as tries to bring into the future the personality of Bodhidharma in the quest of relevance. Although the song and dance, provide the indian movie factor, the movie all in all does a fair job at keeping you interested in the plotline although it is a fairly anticipated ending. The movie also boldly enters into territories of Genetic Memory and such to provide some scientific touch in the movie, the interfaces on the computers etc provide some geek eye candy with Sruthi Hasan providing just the Eye candy.

The first section of the film detailing Bodhidharma’s exploits in China is definitely the best part of the film. There is very little dialogue and Surya makes the most of his very expressive eyes to convey the various trials Bodhidharma has to undergo. While copious amounts of research appear to have gone into the making of the film, in this section it has paid off and it makes for a strong opening. Sadly though this isn’t maintained. The story has a lot of potential as it mixes science fiction with a disaster movie theme and a dash of Indian masala romance but it doesn’t quite gel. The most overused part of the movie however is Hypnosis, and I am not too sure about it. Does make for an interesting movie plot though, oh enough with the spoilers, I can see some of you already not wanting to read the rest.

In my suggestion if you have not seen the movie, you probably should. If not for the movie itself, but for the attempt of the indian movie industry to move forward than just, boy meets girl fends off the world to get married. South Indian movies, especially Tamil and Telugu movies seem to provide the audience the mental stimulation along with entertainment, unlike a Akshay Kumar starred no brainer. Dashavataram (10 avatars) was another such attempt toying with the idea of Chaos Theory and such, but very badly executed. However, 7am arivu provides enough mental fodder for even the most critical cinema buffs.

India Innovation – Android Love from India, including a Siri Clone

Its been a while since I wrote about India and the technological innovation there but here is something that is hard to be missed. Being an Indian and an Android fan it is one of those moments that you will be surely proud of, Apps. Indian Software developers are not the foremost to come up with products, yes there are quite a few there, but in comparison to the number of apps used worldwide the apps from India don’t come to the forefront. Indian Software industry has always played a service role for most companies, where we have developed products for others. Not many products that are home-grown. I guess its changing, and here are the first signs that we can be good at it too.

When Apple introduced Siri, every Android user wanted to hear about the version for Android. And there were few but all lacked complete functionality. An Indian Startup is trying to change all that, from the notion that Indian Software companies dont do products to Siri App for Android. Enter Dexetra, A startup from Cochin that is planning to change the world of Android and India.

Iris 

Like the Siri clone, Iris is a speech recognition and interpretation engine aimed solely at the tech savvy always connected Android user. Like the iPhone 4s the Iris requires the internet to be connected at all times to be able to process the information and spit out the results. With over a Million  installs and with tremendous response from the global Android community this app seems to be the one to see in 2012. Along with the company.

Check out Iris for yourself here on Android Market. Oh yes that’s not it, they also have more software like the Speed Sense and Secure Keys that are as helpful as the Iris You can check them out on their developer page on Android Market. Check out decent App Intro Videos as well for their upcoming Android App, Friday. Does this not look like an international App company now ?? Proud to have crossed paths with these guys.

I just hope that these guys find all the support they need and also move along and produce some brilliant Android Apps. Now waiting for some hackable intelligence of connecting the Arduino with the Iris to get a proper solution to the Voice Activated Home. Dexedra Are you listening ??

Namma Metro – A geek train for a high tech city

Bangalore was the Garden City of India and IS the Silicon valley of India now. Yes, there will be some debate over this statement, but Bangalore is and always will be for me the IT hub or IT Capital of India. So when a new Metro started operation in the city it had to keep up with that image. Having used the Metro in Dubai, I was not very impressed with having the Metro manned with a driver, as opposed to the metro in Dubai which is completely automatic. But thinking as a project Manager I realized that the Capex of introducing an unmanned system was far greater than having the Opex of a Manned system, and in India there is no shortage of labor or rather inexpensive labor so it made sense.

So without having a train that was automatic, it would have to be impressive in terms of technology for me to be able to be impressed with it. On my last trip to India, I did go and see the train in Bangalore, the coach placed at MG Road was a non working display sample but still did not fail to impress. I did a bit of research on the technology used on Namma Metro and I was pleasantly surprised. Here are some things I found out :

The track system

The Bangalore Metro is standard gauge, a system used by most metros worldwide. Narrower than the broad gauge, it allows for greater manoeuvrability, easy ride along curves, laying of tracks even on narrow stretches and control. The standard gauge has a track width of 4ft, 8.5inches, or 1,435mm, while the Indian broad gauge is 5ft, 6inches, or 1,676mm.

Bangalore Metro runs on the ballastless track system used by 70% of the world’s metros. In layman’s language, this means the track does not require stones used on traditional broad gauge track systems to build the track and run the train, as the load is lower than that of a conventional train. The tracks are laid on a concrete slab after assessing the engineering factors. Stones on the conventional track help in balanced construction, while in metro systems concrete slabs are enough.

The Rolling Stock (Coaches)

The rolling stock (coaches/cars) are three stainless steel-bodied wagons. The train will be under the driver’s control, but they are equipped with some Automatic Controls to assist the driver. The seating capacity per train is approximately 1,000, giving more floor area to standing passengers.


The coaches are manufactured by Hyundai Rotem Korea and Mitsubishi Electric Company. BEML has the licence to manufacture the coaches in Bangalore. While Mitsubishi supplied the traction for the coaches, Hyundai Rotem supplied the rolling stock and BEML the coaches.

Power in Third Rail

Electricity for the train will run on a third rail next to the main track. It has an opening at the bottom at certain points from where the train draws its power. The third rail is covered with a yellow shroud, and a person falling on the track won’t be electrocuted. ABB designed, supplied, installed and commissioned four substations to receive and distribute electricity at 66/33 kV, as well as auxiliary and traction substations. ABB will also provide an integrated network management, or SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) system to monitor and control the installations.

Consumer tech in the Coaches

Apart from the technology of the trains themselves, of course something that will not be very visible the trains feature a host of features that are visible and form an important part of the coaches. Guess here are some of the interesting consumer or close to consumer technologies in the metro.

Wi-Fi : Ironically the first thing I am listing is not visible at all, but is increasingly becoming one of the basic requirements especially in a city like Bangalore. Passengers can use their laptops, tablets and the mobile internet to be connected while on transit.

Emergency Voice Comms : Passengers will have emergency voice communication with train staff through a speaker system. Passengers can press a call button to communicate anything urgent to the driver or control centre. Help will be at hand at the next station. The integrated control centre will have direct communication with trains and stations which will be CCTV-fitted with visual and audio service information.

Collision Detection : Bangalore Metro also has automatic train supervision, protection and operation systems — if there’s a train on the same track ahead, the approaching train will sense it and come to a halt at a safe distance.

CCTV Monitoring : Cameras will be installed inside the train as well as stations, and people’s movements will be monitored by an operations control centre at Byappanahalli. In case of any help or emergency, the control room will be able to see what went wrong.

Ticketing : Ticketing, too, is completely automated with just a swipe of the ticket, token or card at a particular point near the entry and exit, enabling the gates to open and close. Recharge of metro cards through mobiles and SMS, a first in the world. What I am waiting for Google India to introduce the features of Google Wallet into the Metro, it will be really interesting. Are you listening Google?

Food waste in India the extremes – Blog Action Day

Today is blog action day, and world over thousands of bloggers like myself (although I dont think I am a serious blogger yet) are talking about a common issue. Since 2007, Blog Action Day has focused bloggers around the world to blog about one important global topic on the same day. Past topics have included water, climate change and poverty. This year, Blog Action Day will be held on October 16, which coincides with World Food Day, so naturally our 2011 theme is FOOD.

Here is a video put together by One.org on the issue of Famine and Food. As visible this campaign requires attention from all of us, from the celebrities to the nobodies.

FOOD is something we need to talk about in the near future, as more people are moving away from agriculture to cities in search of lucrative job options, the food crisis is going to get worse. And the situation is not any different in India. India is a country of extremes, there are cities where there are people starving and on the other we have lavish weddings where food is wasted, along with the aping spanish festival of la Tomatina. The worse of these is definitely the rotting of food in the warehouses of the government where food is stored for transportation.

A 2007 estimate from the ministry of food processing says a whopping Rs 58,000 crore (Rs 580 billion) worth of agriculture food items get wasted in the country every year. Private consulting firm Rabo India Finance had prepared the food wastage report and presented it to the ministry. Quoting from the report, Minister of State for Food Processing then, Subodh Kant Sahai told the Parliament that the fact that such a huge quantity of food items goes as waste in the country is an eye-opener for every Indian.

The report said the food wastage is mainly due to lack of post-harvest infrastructure such as cold chain facilities, transportation and proper storage facilities, etc. He said the loss due to wastages could be reduced by a developed food processing industry, strengthening of the post- harvest infrastructure and filling the gaps in the supply chain. The government, through its schemes for financial assistance for development of food processing industry and other promotional measures, plays a proactive and facilitating role for overall development of food processing sector in the country. Sahai said with huge potential of retail driven demand, many retail giants including foreign companies have shown growing interest in Indian agri and processed food products. But has anything changed ?? Not really.

A latest report (as late as May 2011) on the subject by Macroscan suggests that nearly 40% of the food we produce especially vegetables and fruits are lost in post-harvest losses in India and has been held up as the most compelling reason to permit a flood of investment in the new sector of agricultural logistics, to allow the creation of huge food processing zones, and to link all these to retail food structures in urban markets. The urban orientation of such an approach ignores the integrated and organic farming approach, as it does the evidence that sophistication in food processing has not in the West prevented food loss or waste.

All however is not lost, there are individuals that are helping make a change. Using wasted food from pompous weddings and other places, a firm called BIOTECH has improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in Kerala, Southern India and saved several tonnes of CO2 per year simply by converting waste to bio fuel. They were provided with the prestigious Ashten Award for Sustainability as well.

Their success is all down to their biogas digester. Designed to be easily installed, it comes in different sizes to process not only home waste but also market and municipal waste. Digestion produces biogas which in turn reduces reliance on more expensive and harder to access LPG. BIOTECH has calculated that the average family can pay back the cost of the digester in three years. They also facilitate the government subsidies which may cover part of the installation costs. By 2009 they had installed 16,000 plants in total.

BIOTECH is a burgeoning organisation. It has tripled in size since 2006 and now employs over 140 people with a wider network of installers. It continues to refine and expand the digester model and to spread the word across the country. Unsurprisingly demand is growing. After all, here is a product that works.

Now are we just going to read this post and think about the food problem or are we going to take an action. Action could be anything from sharing this post for people to read to signing a petition with the government to privatize the warehousing of food or even getting one of these Bio Gas converters for yourself. We need to take action some way anyway possible.

 

Inquisitive Interviews : Simmy Mathew – Auditor

Hi all we are back this week again with Inquisitive Interviews, yes it’s not been on for a couple of weeks, and I am to blame completely. However, this week we are back with something inquisitive for you guys to look at. The profile that we will cover today is that of an Auditor. Yes Auditors, the very same people that can give a shiver to many. If at all you wondered what they do and why people seem to be scared of them, well here are probably some answers.

For the uninitiated, Inquisitive Interviews, the feature was born out of the requests by some of the students who read this blog, requesting information regarding careers. And with a view to help them make a better choice, I have started to feature various careers from different people, starting with people I know and hoping to slowly reach many different people. The Inquisitive Interviews feature would not only help the students reading the interview but also the interviewees providing them with some Online PR of sorts, the benefits of which I mentioned in another post earlier.

 

[Q] Tell Us something about yourself (Things like Name, how many years you have been working and anything else you would like to add.)

 I am known as ‘Simmy Mathew’.

Lived in Dubai for the last 14 years and counting….

Work has been part of my life since the last 7 years.

[Q] What do you Do for a living and Where?

I work as an auditor for Ernst and Young, Dubai

[Q] Is the job what you had expected it to be?

Yes, and maybe a little more…I always wanted to be an auditor and I still remember when I was 16, telling my aunt that I wanted to be an auditor and work in the Big4.So, yes! I am living my dream! 😀

[Q] Is the salary what you had expected it to be?

Yes, I started off at the junior level and it was what I expected.

[Q] What is your average day like?

Well, being an auditor means you are never in office but at the clients – auditing their books.  So an average day is working in a team and trying to achieve deadlines. It varies – depending on the industry you are working in, the size of the entity you are auditing…They are times that I am at a client for months and they are times I am at the client for one-two weeks…. and no two days are the same.

 I work with different sets of people , which is a challenge in itself .

[Q] What’s the most interesting part of your job?

The exposure that I get is high and the learning curve is great. ..But I think the most interesting part of the job is multitasking – applying what you learned in different types of industry and getting your work done, supervising your junior staff work, being proactive and planning ahead.

[Q] What’s the most challenging part of your job?

People ….i guess in a country like UAE – you meet different types of people  – different upbringing, different cultures, different nationalities….so working with them…can be a challenge but I love challenges and embrace  them with open arms.

[Q] What’s the part of the job that you don’t like?

Actually nothing……Sometimes it can get monotonous hence maintaining a right mix of work is important.

[Q] Do you get bored at your workplace at all?

I have to say I don’t have time to get bored……so the answer to that would be no!

[Q] Do you report to someone? How much of an impact the person you report to has on your job?

Yes, I do but that varies…it could be a senior/asst manager/ manager.  Basically they are there to review your work and sort out any issues you have while auditing .

[Q] Do you use all the skills that you learnt in school / college? or where did you pick up the skills ?

well, I have to say what I studied in college as my degree was a bachelors in accounting and Finance definitely helped….Also. ACCA had been an added plus point on the growth path.

 Also, at Ernst & young, if you join as a graduate – they have the graduate development program which ensures you are up-to-date with the Ernst & Young methodology and the latest developments in the accounting world. So there are enough training to develop your career at Ernst & Young.

[Q] What are your Alumni? Where did you study?

School              : Our Own English High School, Dubai

University         : Middlesex University, Dubai campus

Currently pursuing my ACCA

[Q] Would you advice younger people to join in your industry?

Yes, I would. But it requires a little effort and being able to manage a lot of work in time pressure situations.

[Q] What advice would you give to someone trying to get into the industry?

Plan ahead. I f you are an university student and want to try a career, decide where you want to get in and plan how you are going to go about it. Have a roadmap to where  you want to go …and that will help you plan your direction.

[Q] Anything else you want to tell the readers?

Love what you do…no matter what industry you are …then work is all fun…otherwise all work and no play will definitely make Jack a dull boy! 😀

[Q] Any online resources you recommend for people taking up this profession?

ACCA website : http://www.accaglobal.com/ 

IAS plus : http://www.iasplus.com/

You can get in touch with Simmy on Facebook at here profile here: http://www.facebook.com/simmy.mathew

If at all you wondered what Auditors do, I hope this would have given you a better idea. Thank you Simmy for an insight into the world of the Auditors, hope you guys the readers are more aware of the work of Auditors. Until next time, Be Inquisitive.

Why I do NOT support Anna Hazare ?

For starters I have been asked by quite a few people about what I think about the Anna Hazare case. And I have been telling everyone the same thing, I do not believe that it is right to support him, nor do I think what he is doing is right. As the days go on, and as people start adding into the fight, I can’t help but think that this is just going downhill from here. Days on end, news channels seem to have forgotten about everything than the ‘Fast’ by Anna Hazare, people are sending texts to each other to forward around, telling us how Indian we are if we support him and how unpatriotic we are if we do not support him and things like that. Yes, I do not support the entire fiasco behind it, and nor to I completely agree with the ‘Jan Lokpal Bill’ as it is called and here is why.

First things first, most people who are supporting Anna Hazare in this so called Revolution do not have a clue of what the Bill is actually about. Ask most of your friends who have sent you texts, posted Facebook Status updates about it, and they will actually tell you it’s about stopping corruption and bringing Black money back into the country. Yes, it is but has anyone looked beyond the objective, into the methods and the ways of making this happen ? Well I can bet, it would be 1 in 10 or even 1 in 50 who has taken time to read it. I actually did when the name Anna Hazare popped up a while back, out of the blue. This is after I wrote about him, being blinded by my sense of patriotism and effortless, protest.

I wanted to check who he was an what was the entire deal behind it ? So I went on to the website that has a lot of information about the campaign, India Against Corruption. To make my point I can go down the route of personal attack on Anna Hazare, from his RSS support right through to his treatment of “Harijans”, but I do not want to do that (you can research those for yourself). I want to open what I believe is the flaw in the entire campaign. I did a bit of a scrutiny of the campaign, like Arundathi Roy  who wrote about it in the Hindu, it’s a long but compelling read. Check it out here.

While his means may be Gandhian, Anna Hazare’s demands are certainly not. Contrary to Gandhiji’s ideas about the decentralisation of power, the Jan Lokpal Bill is a draconian, anti-corruption law, in which a panel of carefully chosen people will administer a giant bureaucracy, with thousands of employees, with the power to police everybody from the Prime Minister, the judiciary, members of Parliament, and all of the bureaucracy, down to the lowest government official. The Lokpal will have the powers of investigation, surveillance, and prosecution. Except for the fact that it won’t have its own prisons, it will function as an independent administration, meant to counter the bloated, unaccountable, corrupt one that we already have. Two oligarchies, instead of just one.

Yes, I got to reading the amendments to the bill as well as most of the bill myself. Here is what I think of it.

  • It is a good plan to convert our democracy into a machinery that would be under the control of a single person (sort of) rule. By giving all power to the Lok pal, he will be able to keep the government at ranson at any time he wants.
  • It is also a plan for certain people (ahem .. Anna supporters and successors) to become incredibly wealthy. By blackmailing the politicians who is planning to investigate.
  • Will not be limited to Government Departments, so does this mean that they will start scrutinizing the private companies, street hawkers into following the law of the land ?
  • Will be able to scrutinize the PM and the Judiciary. Interesting considering that the leader of the largest democracy In the world will now be answerable to this LokPal and not the people ?

I am not able to understand the actual intent of the “Merry men of Anna” they have put these constraints in the bill. Understandably they have their own justification of the terms mentioned. But this is the hind side of the same terms.

Take Karnataka for instance, the state has a LokAyukt, a similar committee as the LokPal in the central government, to curb corruption in the state. But over the past few years there have been unconfirmed whispers among the people of the LokAyukt blackmailing the ministers, extorting money in exchange of a no investigation. Whether it is true or not, the fact remains that it is possible with the bill. Imagine that now nation-wide, what this bill will provide is a open chit to those who will be in the Lokpals chair to extort and make more money through the very thing they have set out to stop; Corruption.

I am not suggesting that Anna is corrupt, I am saying that once he is done with his term it will be an open invitation to someone to take on that position and possibly misuse it. How long will Anna take the position of LokPal and try to protect us from his successor ? It’s not detailed in the LokPal Bill.

When it comes to the place where this system fails, will another Anna Hazare rise to form another governing body to monitor the LokPal and the Government ? Possibly. And how many of these do we need from corruption to stop happening in the country ? The only way we can stop corruption is to stop being a part of it. Our ministers and Politicians are hungry for money, as are the 1.2 Billion people in the country. If you are telling me you are completely satisfied with what you have and do not ever want any more money you are lying. So it does not matter who is in power they will make some money, either through bribes, or if they cannot they will make it legal like in the US and call it lobbying fees. But this will not stop.

As long as we are a nation of people ready to pay our way through inconvenience, we will always have corruption. Regardless of whether we have the LokPal bill passed or not. We need to take a stand and STOP paying bribes, only then can this be stopped and not through a sort of Mexican Showdown with the government using “Ghandism” and “Patriotism” as cover.

India will be against corruption only when we stop paying, nothing else will stop this. I am like always open to debate.

India Independence Day, celebrate cos it matters

“At midnight when the world sleeps, India will awake.“ The words of the first Prime Minister of India echo this Independence Day all over Facebook, a lot of my friends are showing their “patriotism” on Facebook by putting status messages of wishes. Then there are those who are insulting the neighbours of India as a “patriotic gesture” and the last kind are the ones with loads of speculation and negativity about the current state of affairs in the country making them quite angry and negative about the Independence Day. But really what is the right sentiment ? Has the Independence Day lost relevance in this day and age ? I try to answer some of these questions this time for the Independence Day.

An elderly person who I spoke to in India during my visit last week, was asking me about Facebook and I showed him. He was quite happy about what you could achieve and how you could communicate on Facebook and how the world is becoming a more connected place after social networks. Then he saw some negative status messages on Facebook about our Independence Day, from the younger generation. He was saddened.

He recalls with me his teenage days when India had just received Independence, and the days he celebrated his first few Independence Day’s. From being orphaned to losing an elder brother in the fight for Independence, he mentions how Gandhi was able to ensure that many more people were able to enjoy the Independence from the British, than through Violent methods.

He talks about when his mother used to complain about the fact that we would pay unreasonable amounts of tax to the British in their conquest to plunder our nation more and more. In the end he was glad that he got to see the country free from the British in his lifetime.

As he was speaking to me about the Independence Day, it dawned upon me that most people look at the Independence Day to be a Holiday these days, sit on their laptops at home and typing negative sentiments on their Facebook statuses, talking about the India today.

 Today is not about the present, it is about the triumph of a David over a Goliath. It was the riddance of tyranny of the British, by the timid Indians. It is a day to celebrate the success of many years and countless sacrifices of the countrymen towards driving the British out of India. Not a day to be angry about, but a day to feel proud and grateful for all the sacrifices made by the freedom fighters, who these days are not even enquired about. It is unbelievable that at a time of no internet, Mobile Phones, telephones, emails, twitter and other communication medium as well as a planning resource such as the Internet, the Freedom fighters were able to coordinate strikes on the governance of the British.

 Independence day is as significant as it was on the day we got our independence. Just because time has passed does not mean that the relevance of the lives lost and the sacrifices made are reduced. Nor should they be marred by the in competence of the current politicians. The discussion on Independence Day should revolve thanking our freedom fighters for their dedication and commitment, and not pointing out the mistakes of the country.

 Would you not feel bad, if rather than wishing you Happy Birthday, your Parents or siblings just mentioned the bad marks you scored Or the fact that you lost in a race in school or some other competitive analysis about you, you would certainly feel disappointed and sad. So if that being the case, why are we still doing it to our country.  This Independence Day, let us celebrate the Independence Day correctly, let us all be happy for and wish the country Happy Birthday 64th time. We have the remaining 264 days to question the government and its workings. With that note, I wish you all a very Happy Independence Day.

6 reasons I love my Phone, and 3 reasons I hate it

It’s been close to 1.5 years with my Android, the gorgeous Nexus One from Google. And let me tell you they have been eventful 1.5 years and I have loved it. I want to highlight what I have loved the Nexus one and maybe some reasons I hate it. I wrote about the raging excitement when I got my Nexus One as a gift from my wife and have been an avid Android promoter ever since.

The Nexus One was Google’s first made Android Phone which aimed at selling the phone on-line without tying it to any carrier in the US. However the marketing plan of selling Nexus One bombed, but the Operating System flourished. As most people got hold of Android phones knowing that Android was fully backed by Google, the popularity of the Operating system just quadrupled. Thanks again to Nexus One which you cannot really buy now in the market, you can just get a developer version from Google on request.

Here are my 5 reasons I absolutely love my Phone.

1. Android

For most of you who read this blog frequently you will know that I am a big fan of Google and how they work. Google’s Android is not just a break from the monotony of the iPhone and the marketing gimmick of Steve Jobs, but it’s also a new way for people to stay united with the freedom to choose what you want to run on your phone. From getting a large choice of hardware, than a monotonous iPhone to the Galaxies of the world and the Nexus One of course, Android gave freedom of hardware and software.

2. Over the Air Upgrades

Android’s biggest losing point has been the fact that it has been criticized for not being able to provide uniform upgrades to all the phone manufacturers and models together. The main problem was that phone manufacturers add custom skins on the Android Devices to be able to customize them as their own branded phones. However this has created a lot of problems as well.

Google’s upgrades need to be vetted against the custom skins before they can be installed on the phones making them difficult to install. With Nexus One running stock android the upgrades to the Operating System are delivered as soon as Google releases them and it’s a nice feeling to get the new features before anyone.

3. Google Services

Having the stock Android means that all Google Services are configured to run well from the word go. Google ensures that the applications are working from the word Go in most stock Android flavors. Google Services like Contacts sync, Maps and Search all integrated into a consolidated package, making the services integration seamless and borderless.

4. Break away from stereotypes

Well I say that, but Android fans are getting into a stereotype themselves. Before I bought the Android, I have always been a Nokia user, from my first awesome Nokia 3310 right through to the N95. While N95 was my favorite phone of all times, its upgrades did not keep up much with the competition. Nokia lost the way when it came to touch screen smart phones, although they had great visions for what they wanted to do and still want to do, where they lost their way was in Software.

They were the first to realize the potential of Apps and custom Ringtones, as well as music. And they were the last to do something about it. By the time they came back with Ovi, I guess it was too little, too late. At the time that Nokia was losing ground, blackberry and the iPhone were catching on. The clumsy blackberry models available then were not really appealing and the iPhone was too expensive outside of the US.

5. Apps, Apps, Apps

This I guess I have in common with the iPhone lovers. From getting an app for WordPress, to Firefox right though to task managers and other software (I promise I will write a post about the apps on my phone soon) Apps are all around us. Well Apps also covers mobile games for me, and Angry Bird is the king of them. From being a free app on Android to getting into the lives of anyone who has tried it one, the Apps on the Android will definitely make the phone much better in functionality.

6. The 5MP Camera

The camera is one of the most versatile tool on my phone, from Augmented reality apps right through to just plain old taking pictures, there are awesome applications for the phone. I wrote about 18 such tools here in one of my most read posts of all time. The camera is brilliant, with apps providing additional control and functionality into the cameras.  They are so good that they also can replace your everyday tools, again something that I wrote about a while back here. All in all the camera with some of the cool Android apps are breathing a new lease of life into my phone.

I hate my phone too !!

As much as I love my phone I do hate it, at times. While not all frustrations I have are due to the phone itself its the feeling of having the problem that would bother me.

1. The Data Packages in UAE

While most of the world is receiving amazing data packages for the phone (read, India, UK, US), the data packages in Dubai are still made to hurt you, financially. Be it calling right through to using 3G and GPRS services. The part that is really frustrating is the fact that Etisalat and Du both seem to try and gain revenue from the large expatriate population, but it is just the middle and lower classes that they tend to hurt the most, this is not the best deal.

On the contrary the Blackberry users in Dubai face a lovely 3G package, where in the services are activated and provided at affordable prices. This for sure seems to be the very reason for the sheer increase in the number of Blackberry users.

Although Customer service is not the best in India, the packages and the deals for using the data packages are really unbelievable. It makes for the common man to go and use technology a little more. Which is the actual reason technology exists, to use it.

2. Android Market and its non availability 

I have written about this earlier, the fact that Google has not yet recognized the region as an important region for its mobile business, means more android users are getting deprived of the wonders of Android. This include some of Google’s apps too, like Google Earth, Google Plus the app and more.

We all know how Google is really putting a lot at stake in making the Android work (read, patenting problems) still the phones here without Android Market will work adversely for them. Having said that I must admit that the number of Android Phones I am seeing these days are really a lot. From the every persistent Samsung phones through to some interesting Sony and Acer phones, the Android OS is gaining ground in the middle east.

Hopefully now is a good time Google ! I know you are fighting a multi sided war with all the tech companies for us, a little attention here will mean financially we will be able to back you up and help you as well.

3. Some parts of the Hardware 

Although the first 2 annoyances are nothing to do physically with my phone, this one definitely does. Here are 4 of my annoyances with the hardware of the Nexus One.

a. The Coverage 

I am happy with the coverage, but when the phone gets into tight spots like lift lobbies which have low coverage, the phone not only looses signal like most other phones, but takes a long time to get back the signal.

I am not sure if this is an Android thing, or just my phone thing. But definitely this has hurt me in more than one occasion in the past. I hope that my next android will not have this issue (yes, I will buy an Android next as well).

b. The RAM / ROM 

There is inadequate local storage in the Phone. Period. Regardless of what Google thought at the time the phone was released, the fact that the RAM on the phone is small and restricts the usage of more apps, it is a serious problem with the hardware.

Although there are apps like App2SD and with the support of the Honeycomb version to support Apps to be installed in the SD card, its applications like Facebook which are not only large and cumbersome, but also not movable to SD that compound this issue.

c. Front Facing Camera 

Well to be honest, when this phone was launched, the world of internet calling was dominated by the desktop and the phone market was not getting there quick. Now that services like Skype, Fring and others operate well on the Android and that too for free. It is a feature that I miss a lot.

Google did not preempt the requirement which is why it was not there, however it was not there in the iPhone too until iPhone 4 was released. How I wish that there was a front facing camera for Skype, would have been able to catch up with my sister in the US even more easily.

d. The Battery Life 

Here I believe, it is my fault. I used to leave the phone charger on charging the phone when I go to sleep and it used to be connected. Now like laptop batteries the performance has begun to degrade. But keeping in mind the fact that the phone needs quite a lot of juice just to operate and run it does not help the cause.

The screen and most of all radio communication, are the biggest energy hoggers and have hurt my battery life of the phone, with degraded performance it definitely seems to be a problem.

Last words 

Although when you read this post it would sound like I am 50 – 50 with the phone, I will tell you I will purchase an Android Phone next as well. Make it the next nexus series. Although Nexus S will be a good option, I currently love this phone and will use it for much longer. ruling out the possibility of changing phones currently.

I love the Android Operating system especially in its stock format. And a looking forward to Ice Cream Sunday (the next Android Version). to release.

Inquisitive Interviews : Kishor Raj – Senior Planner

Inquisitive Interviews is back, and this time it is an engineer, I know that a lot of you will be saying that it was not part of the plan to introduce many engineer’s and doctors. However, I have decided to do so, as this is a very specialist role. Kishor is a Senior Planner. Engineering is just the base on which his profession is based on. Keeping that in mind, I think we should go ahead and have the chat with Kishor on life, job and career.

For the uninitiated, Inquisitive Interviews, the feature was born out of the requests by some of the students who read this blog, requesting information regarding careers. And with a view to help them make a better choice, I have started to feature various careers from different people, starting with people I know and hoping to slowly reach many different people. The Inquisitive Interviews feature would not only help the students reading the interview but also the interviewees providing them with some Online PR of sorts, the benefits of which I mentioned in another post earlier.

[Q] Tell Us something about yourself (Things like Name, how many years you have been working and anything else you would like to add.)

My name is Kishor. I’m a civil engineer with over 9 years of work experience in the construction industry both within and outside India. I’m an entrepreneur as well, involved with the start-up of a few companies back in India.

[Q] What do you Do for a living and Where ?

I’m working at present as a Senior Planner with one of the leading construction companies in U.A.E.

[Q] Is the job what you had expected it to be ?

Not really. I didn’t have much of an expectation about a dream job.  My career got shifted to planning due to an unexpected event when I was working in India. But now, I do enjoy my job.

[Q] Is the salary what you had expected it to be ?

As I said earlier, I didn’t have any expectation about what I should earn at any point of time in future. I believe that my present salary is enough for me to sustain my present life style.

[Q] What is your average day like ?

Every single day in my life starts with a prayer. I spend most of the time in front of my computer. Most of my working hours are consumed by meeting deadlines and attending meetings with subcontractors and management.  Sometimes, I spend hours studying project drawings and specifications. I may have to visit construction sites at times.

[Q] What’s the most interesting part of your job ?

The most interesting part is the brainstorming sessions with the management on how to execute upcoming projects. As a planner, I’m the one to advise the management about the various methods of project execution.

[Q] What’s the most challenging part of your job ?

The most important job of a planner is to develop a construction program. For starters, a construction program is a detailed description of construction activities sequenced the way it should actually be carried out at site. Planners use software such as Primavera or MS Project to develop such programs. The challenging part in my job is to visualize the project from the two dimensional drawings and description available, and come up with an economic and time saving plan. A minute unaccounted detail can sometimes result in a huge loss for the company.

[Q] What’s the part of the job that you don’t like ?

Explaining the logic of the program and convincing the management about its feasibility is the part which I find to be most difficult to deal with.

[Q] Do you get bored at your workplace at all ?

Repetitive type of work is a big boredom for me.

[Q] Do you report to someone ? How much of an impact the person you report to has on your job ?

Yes, I report to the tendering contracts manager. As for me, everything about my job depends on him.

[Q] Do you use all the skills that you learnt in school / college ? or where did you pick up the skills ?

Obviously not. But I think, the knowledge we acquired during our academic years always play a role in every point of work. I have to undergo various project management trainings to sharpen my skills.

 [Q] What’s your Alumni? Where did you study ??

 My pre-university was done in SB College, Changanassery in Kerala, India.

 Engineering was done in M.S. Bidve Engineering College, Latur, Maharashtra, India.

Currently, I secured an admission for MBA in Hult International Business School in Dubai campus.

[Q] Would you advice younger people to join in your industry ?

Sure. I suggest that civil engineering graduates should start thinking of any type of specialization when they are in still in college. Having a good logical mind is very much essential to become a successful planner. I believe a left dominant brain is more suitable for a planner.

[Q] What advice would you give to someone trying to get into the industry ?

Getting a good site experience is essential for all specialization. Even if you plan to specialize in any particular civil engineering job, my advice is to gain around 5 years hardcore site experience before you start moving into office.

[Q] Anything else you want to tell the readers ?

For civil engineers, while you are studying, it is advisable to visit some construction sites whenever possible. Civil engineering is a blue collar job. So, you should be prepared to deal with the dust and dirt at the site after graduating.  Getting some exposure to daily job activities at construction site can help you to get used to this reality.

[Q] Any online resources you recommend for people taking up this profession ?

www.planningplanet.com

www.oracle.com/primavera

You can check out Kishor’s Facebook profiles and other contact information below where you can get in touch with him.

Facebook Profile    http://www.facebook.com/kishoru

Linked in : http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=71816506

Not a man of many words, however Kishor has a really interesting job. I did not really get into the entrepreneurship of Kishor this time, maybe another time, for information in the mean time Kishor has his hands full on an online website in India, and a few other ventures like a hospital and construction. Yes it is something we will get back on, in the mean time, keep reading and be Inquisitive.

Let us help – NGO Awareness – Part 2

Through the years NGO’s (Non Government Organizations) have come forward to fill the gap which the government in India has been unable to fill in. While talking to Sowmya on her interview (which you can read here) I realized that the number of NGO’s that are trying to work on issues related to India are quite a few, and they talk to research analysts like Sowmya to help them do the right thing. But there are those who have already spent a lot of time in trying to help various segments in India, like the poor, the old or just children. Working with profit or non-profit these people definitely deserve a mention in their role in the society in India.

 

The list of NGO’s last time was inquisitive enough to receive a lot of hits from you folks. So this time around I thought it would be good time to send in the second set of NGO’s list for the sake of NGO action from all of us, maybe eventually we will start our own action plan to help pick one of the NGO’s on the list.

Bhumi

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Activity: Bhumi is one of India’s largest independent youth volunteer non-profit organisation. Our volunteers work amongst orphaned and underprivileged children in Chennai, Thiruvallur, Bengaluru and Chandigarh with the aim of providing children with quality education and enable them to become responsible and productive citizens of the future. The efforts of our volunteer force consisting of over 300 students and young professionals under the age of 30 benefit over 2,500 children every year.

Support: Education, Children, Environmental Conservation, Mentorship

Note: Bhumi is an under-30 youth volunteer organisation, and to be able to reach out to more children, we need volunteers who can spend 2 hours every weekend to teach at an orphanage near their residence.


Help A Child to Study

Website | |  |

Activity: Help A Child to Study sponsors the higher education of meritorious underprivileged students, supporting them to achieve dreams of a better future. We sponsor all formal courses above 10th, including 11th and 12th, diploma courses, degree courses, B.E., M.B.B.S. and Postgrad. Through education our students are able to escape the cycle of poverty through their own talents.

Support: Education, higher education, sponsorship of students.

Note: – We are looking for financial donations to support the higher education of our students, most of whom live in rural areas of Maharashtra and Karnataka.


SAHAI helpline for suicide prevention and emotional distress.

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Activity: Started on 2nd Oct 2002, SAHAI is Bangalore’s telephone helpline for people in emotional distress. Our dedicated, trained volunteer counsellors are available to answer your calls between 10.00 a.m. & 6.00 p.m., from Monday through to Saturday.

All calls are confidential and privacy is assured.

Whether it is facing problems with your family, in school, at work or with your friends,Sahai Counsellors will give you their undivided attention and will guide you. And, when you’re ready, SAHAI will help you find a long-term solution to your problems, through telephone counselling.Sahai volunteers will help and equip you with the skills,needed to cope with distressing situations of life like loss, failure, broken relationships or the ever-increasing demands of today’s fast-paced life.

SAHAI volunteers are homemakers, professionals and college students – people from all walks of life who are committed to saving lives. SAHAI volunteers undergo 30 hours of suicide prevention training conducted by professionals from NIMHANS and the Medico Pastoral Association, along with Rotary Bangalore East, three of the help line’s founding partners.

Volunteers are trained to help each caller ventilate, to respond without judging, and to guide the caller to address their problem. Volunteers learn how to listen pro-actively, and to recognize and assess signs of stress and depression.

Support: Suicide prevention and emotional distress telephone helpline.

Note: Public awareness, more volunteers and funds to raise awareness.


This post is a part of BlogAdda’s Bloggers Social Responsibility (BSR) initiative. I am exercising my BSR. You can too by spreading the news of these NGO’s and Support. Its the least you can do if not donate money.