residual self image

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Rolling the dice

My office on this Monday was a lot like in a casino in Las Vegas. My ERP trainee batch was to be divided into 10 specific practices spread over 4 development centers. Some dreams came true, some were shattered.

Practices: ORACLE, SAP, EAI, CRM, SCM, BI …and so on. Over 200 boys and girls waited patiently as the HR people decided what to do.

9:30 am: The HR people needed to resolve the matter in such a way that in the evening they would be able to go back to their homes without being mobbed by dissatisfied trainees. Roll a dice, lottery, first come first serve…..they fought over the issue.

“Allocate randomly using a computer program, no human intervention”, somebody suggested.

10 am: I was called in to write a C program to allocate practice and locations at random according to the business requirements.

Now I badly needed the latest Visual Studio 2005 release, so I hoodwinked the cute HR girls into agreeing for a VC++ client and dotNET server application with funky skins, sliding dialog boxes and a great simple user interface that even a miss world could easily use. The company just had to buy the latest Visual Studio Enterprise Edition and leave the rest to me.

We prepared a draft for the knowledge transfer agreement- I was to keep the VS 2005 DVD and no assignments and tests for me for a period of 1 year.

11 am: The department head (a bald, middle aged, high tempered, overweight guy) shot down my proposal with a Stinger missile. They decided to do it the old fashioned way- with a dice.

12 pm:

1 pm:

2 pm:

Java: Nooo !! No java for me ..Anything else.

ORACLE: definitely no!

SAP: maybe… I hope I won’t have to work a lot.

SCM: supply chain management…boring

dotNET: definitely yes!

CRM: Customer Relationship management ??? Am not really good at that.

BI: business intelligence ??? when was the last time I checked my IQ ?

2:55 pm: The HR department was ready with the list.

3:00 pm: The HR department office was empty save for one last guy who stayed back to post the list to the trainees.

3:02 pm: The HR guy attached the list to a mail addressed to all trainees, grabbed his helmet and bag, clicked the SEND button and made a mad dash for the parking lot.

3:07 pm: Somebody checked his/her mail and found the mail about the postings. The news spreads like bushfire.

10-15 seconds past 3:07 pm: Everybody had read the mail. I was going to India’s Silicon City after the training would be complete. I was worried about landing myself into either of ORACLE, SAP, java, dotNET…. Somebody up there in the sky above decides to play a small game with my future.

I was going into EAI – Enterprise Application Integration. I would have to learn a bit about every single ERP package out there in the market!!!

3:08 pm: Civil unrest followed. With a large percentage of the 200 trainees being from 2 major Indian cities and the ERP division requiring people to be spread over 4 locations; it was no surprise that there were a lot of heart breaks and tears.

“Swapping of posting is allowed as long as the number of people in a department at a location remains constant.”-the mail said.

3:10 pm: Mailboxes were clogged with requests for swapping. Some people were reluctant to leave the shelter of their homes and move to another corner of the country. Guys who had never seen either ORACLE or SAP packages….we better not talk about what previous work experience they had , were hunting for department swaps- “I will swap for SAP/ORACLE anywhere on this planet” somebody claimed in his mail.

3:15 pm: The mail server crashed, tensions were high. The people who were happy with their postings maintained a low profile and refrained from celebrations for fear of a backlash from the dissatisfied lot.

3:16 pm: I settled down, my posting was fine. I was happy with it. The office had turned into a marketplace; trainees were bartering departments and locations.

So that was Monday, just another day at office. Some dreams came true, some were shattered.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Where is the software engineering yaar?

Seen the movie “Where's the Party Yaar? It’s ok if you haven’t, but catch it the next time they show it on TV. It’s an Indian English movie and worth watching, its fun. Now let’s move over to my problems.

I joined one of India’s top rated software companies to become a big shot coder…ok let’s scale it down to an above average programmer. My posting into the ERP division dashed all those hopes. Most of my work was to be limited to working on ERP packages and java. No working on a particular platform, no systems programming, no cutting edge technologies, no more heated Windows-Linux arguments that we had while at collages.

Just working on “software that manages information flow in enterprises” as my cute HR lady claims. Didn’t sound interesting at first, slowly the realization hit me that I was with an IT company that delivers IT solutions, we make what customers want us to make.

AAHHHHH!! No longer can I work on what I want to work on. If the client and business managers want something done this way, using this and that, all I can do I swallow my pride, learn how to do it that way and finally do it that way. And right now businesses and my company love java and cross-platform softwares, I love vc++ and windows. No prizes for guessing who the winner is.

ERP is currently hot. Western corporations are minting money making ERP packages and South Asian IT companies are making millions using these packages to deliver solutions to other western corporations.

This week was fun. ERP is about knowing business and making solutions for running business. So my company decided that I must know a lot more about business than any average Joe programmer. So began our sessions of business related classes. We had sessions on almost every aspect of business in any big business. Presentations after presentations on Finance & Accounting, Sales & Marketing, Manufacturing and Shop Floor Planning (don’t ask me what it is, I have no idea), Supply Chain management, Materials management, Human Capital management and HR.

We had people with MBAs unloading their B school wisdom into our brains that was already kind of full with the stuff that was pushed in by our computer science department at collages. Many people survived through the sessions napping through most of it. Some others played with their mobiles, passed around sms and mms, and the very brave ones dared to bunk the sessions altogether. You aren’t supposed to bunk classes that the company is paying for, it’s very different from bunking classes at collage. But luckily no one in the administration missed those adventurous guys- I take immense pride in being one of them.

Anyway I and my batch mates survived the interaction with the MBA suits. Business managers and software engineers seem like 2 different sub species of homo-sapiens. The trouble is I have to take exams related to all this business stuff sometime next week and no they won’t give me an MBA when I pass the exams, but they will surely kick me out of the company if I don’t.

The road ahead is green with all the money to make and onsite opportunities (ERP is in its adolescence, 40-50% of the work is still onsite). The question is will the computer engineer in me survive to become the big shot coder that I have dreamt of since joining collage or will the IT professional take over entirely?

Monday, August 22, 2005

The monk who sold his Ferrari

This Sunday I started reading Robin S. Sharma’s “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari”. The cover said that the book was “Soon to be a Major Motion Picture” and the title did create a lot of curiosity. The book is no thriller and is supposed to be an inspiring tale that provides a step-by-step approach to living with greater courage, balance, abundance and joy - certainly not my ideal bedtime reading stuff.

But I could surely give it a try. Unlike the protagonist Julian Mantle I do not have a stellar professional reputation, no 7 figure dollar salary, no private jet, am yet to set my foot on a tropical island let alone own one and I certainly do not have a shiny red Ferrari parked in the center of my driveway. Maybe 20-30 years from now all these might be a possibility, maybe.

I got past the first 3 chapters. No shots fired yet, no cars blown up, no conspiracy theories, no dead bodies turned up and no beautiful 2 legged creatures with red lipstick and 6-inch high heels made their entry. Robin Sharma is no Dan Brown, nor is he a John Grisham or an Alistair MacLean. By the time Julian Mantle sold his Ferrari and started climbing the Himalayas in search for the ageless yogis who had mastered the art of mind control and spiritual awakening, I arrived at the conclusion that this book was certainly not written for people like me. Maybe I will read it some 3 decades from now when I become a Julian Mantle.

But suddenly I was obsessed with the idea of having a shiny red Ferrari in my driveway. I checked on the net: How much does a brand new shiny red Ferrari cost? And I checked my bank account. We had a long way to go before the two would be equal. So I decided to settle for the next best thing. It’s a shiny red Ferrari made not by the Italians but by an American company called Mattel, they sell them under the brand name “Hot Wheels”.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

References: and : These are the two cool sites from where I pick up comic strips for my blog. The comics are mostly centered on video games and gamers.

And of course we have my good old office mate Dilbert.

the week that the week was

wasn't a very exciting week anyway,

monday : was India's Independence Day, and our cook wanted a holiday so me and my roommates had a tough time hunting around for food.

tuesday : was raining in the morning,afternoon,evening and nice formal leather shoes got WET WET WET and by evening they were DAMAGED DAMAGED DAMAGED :((

wednesday : bad bad day..................first in the morning the electric iron got overheated and i burned the collar of one of my best shirts :((
then i turned up at the office in sports shoes and was fined (Company regulations, formal shoes monday to thursday) in the evening i made a trip to the shopping areas...hunting for waterproof shoes......finally after 2 hours found a suitable pair of shoes.
i also visited 4 titan showrooms....just 2 or 3 old model fastrack watches on display :(( why does it always happen with me??.

thursday: continued my hunt for a fastrack watch... been doing that for the last 2 weeks. fastrack came out with a new range recently and they are disappearing from the showrooms as soon as the company's delivery truck unloads them.

friday: worked my ass off on a java project that started on wednesday evening and was to be given on friday evening. at 9pm the project was complete!

saturday: its just 9:30 in the morning.. nothing much has happened yet. am at the office and am wondering ... why would anyone sane on this planet be reading this!!!.....
anyway i will post the day's events if something extraordinary happens... who knows maybe aliens will takeover my company and turn us all into zombies and later take over the planet ..who knows i might spill coffee on my many possibilities....its hurting my brain thinking about all the possibilities.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

The java class is very boring

The java class is very boring. My mind wanders about aimlessly. What should I think about to get my mind off this class?? Where should I travel to in the realms of my mind to find some adventure?

There is a slight movement behind me; somebody is slowly creeping towards me. I roll over the floor from my crouched position, turn around and shoot the guard between the eyes. The silencer reduces the shot to an inaudible whimper. I catch the guard before he hits the floor. I hold my breath for a minute, apparently nobody heard us. I carry the poor guy’s body into the shadows of the coffee machine and relieve him of the walky-talky and the stun gun. I need those more than he does. I find an access card in his pockets. This should get me through to the electrical rooms in the basement.

“Lambert! I might I found a way to knock out the alarms on the 3rd floor”

“Fisher! You better hurry up. There is a guard change scheduled in 20 minutes”

I am about to get out into the lobby when the dead guard’s watch catches my attention. Damn it! It’s not a watch it’s some kind of a bio-reader disguised as a wristwatch. Shit! I quickly take off the device and strap it on. Too late. Alarms start ringing though out the building. I guess guards would be here soon. The device must have a location tracker in it.

“Damn it Fisher! The mission’s over. Get out of there”

“Sorry Lambert. Not this time, it’s not your show now. It’s all in my mind. None of your rules in here.”

“Fisher! It’s an order. The game’s over. You failed the mission.”

“I am not playing the whole level over again. I can take down these guys like Rambo does. And put on Cohen, am sick of your attitude Lambert”

“Sam! Lambert’s right. We can’t risk your capture. They will know about the Third Echelon”.

“Great! That’s what you care about? I thought you love me!” I don’t know which troubled me more, Cohen’s talk or the imminent capture.

“HEY! Whose there??” shouts a guard. I turn around. A big burly guard is cautiously advancing towards me wielding a baton.

I shoot him at point blank. But he keeps advancing. I empty the whole magazine into him, but he doesn’t stop.

“Hey! You there!! Are you with us??” Suddenly I am back in the class. The instructor is standing near me staring down at me. He isn’t the only one; I am the center of attraction for the entire class.

“Yes Sir??” damn it, I am screwed!

“What was I telling you about creating packages in java?”

How am I supposed to know? I was day dreaming! Maybe you put some rabbits, carrots and onions in a cauldron, stir it for a while and voila …. Packages are ready. “I am sorry Sir, I wasn’t paying attention.”

What happened next?? I am sent to meet the department HR. I don’t mind seeing the HR once in a while, she’s young and she’s beautiful; but I would rather love to meet her in much better circumstances.

She agrees with me that the classes are boring but the company is paying for me to attend the classes, so that I can learn and work for the company and bring them dollars from Uncle Sam, so that they can pay me in Indian currency, so that I can pay my landlord, pay the phone bills, buy food and go on shopping sprees and of course the most important thing in my daily life…browse the net for hours together.

She is smiling as she says all this, but I know that in the back of her head she’s noted me down as the first candidate when the next retrenchment is to happen. I smile back and drag myself back to the java class.

This cup of java is quite bitter, I want a Coke!

PS- Peter Berg ("Friday Night Lights") has signed on to direct the movie "Splinter Cell," based on the Tom Clancy videogame. Paramount Pictures hired Berg to direct the film and write the script with videogame writer JT Petty and John J. McLaughlin. George Clooney is rumored to be the favorite candidate to play Sam Fisher.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Thursday, August 11, 2005


For the information of those who came in late…. Which includes just about everybody on this green and blue planet other than my family and friends.

On the morning of July 11th 2005 I joined a big huge MNC IT company that makes millions of Indians proud and has thousands of jobless American programmers swearing by the mere mention of its name. I later signed on the dotted lines on a stamp paper that I will remain faithful to her (the company) for at least 1 year. Did I just pawn my soul for a year??

Anyway life was good in the beginning. We, me and hundreds of other freshers from engg collages were put in a nice huge residential campus for 10 days. Then the problems started. On yet another fine morning I was asked to pack my bags and leave to a development center in another state. I was to be trained in ERP.

When I arrived at my new workplace I asked the HR what ERP was….since the only things I knew were c, c++ and java. The female tried hard to explain it …. After some business related mumble mumble I understood that she knows as much about the technical side of ERP as my grandma about the difference between Windows and Linux. I gave up. Finally she told me that at the end of the training i.e after 2 months I will figure out what ERP is. That was the only single sensible thing she said that day during her 30 minute presentation.

Now a fortnight later I have covered databases, learnt how to use UNIX, oracle and java but what will I be working on in ERP means still eludes me :(

learning to java

The following excerpts are taken from my notebook for the classes that I attended today morning… I was having a java class and the teacher was boring me to death! And so I stopped taking notes and wrote this instead.

“According to the Big Fat Bastard, C is a terrible language to work in. But since computers have been in existence decades before Java was born and C has been there since the 70s and C++ since 80s, the programming world was in the dark ages. Circa 1995 enters the knight in shinning armor: Sun Microsystems’s Java that brings an end to the sufferings of millions of C programmers.

Big Fat Bastard finds faults in anything related to C. According to him OOP started with Java. Obviously he has never heard of C++ that came out with the first standardized version well before the nuts at Sun even thought of Java. Can the Big Fat Bastard let me know of any OS that has been written in JAVA?? I rest my case.”