Using Windows Live Editor for blogging now..

I recently and luckily came across this and thought its worth writing about. If you are not very proficient with blogging yet, you definitely want to know about this:

Windows Live Editor

Basically it is a client where you can create rich formatted text and publish it your blogs at wordpress, blogger, etc. You can edit and delete old posts too. In addition to this basic stuff, what makes this tool extraordinary is the plugins you can use to add functionality into your articles. Take a look at the gallery to find about the available plugins:

Windows Gallery

And the best part- its free and works like magic!

If you are wondering why you should bother, well it would serve you well to note that the difference between writing “into” your blog and using this client editing tool is like the difference between writing code in Java and Perl to read from a file:

Java:

 package MyProject

import java.io.BufferedInputStream;
import java.io.DataInputStream;
import java.io.File;
import java.io.FileInputStream;
import java.io.FileNotFoundException;
import java.io.IOException;

/**
 * This program reads a text file line by line and print to the console. It uses
 * FileOutputStream to read the file.
 *
 */
public class FileInput {

  public static void main(String[] args) {

    File file = new File("C:\\MyFile.txt");
    FileInputStream fis = null;
    BufferedInputStream bis = null;
    DataInputStream dis = null;

    try {
      fis = new FileInputStream(file);

      // Here BufferedInputStream is added for fast reading.
      bis = new BufferedInputStream(fis);
      dis = new DataInputStream(bis);

      // dis.available() returns 0 if the file does not have more lines.
      while (dis.available() != 0) {

      // this statement reads the line from the file and print it to
        // the console.
        System.out.println(dis.readLine());
      }

      // dispose all the resources after using them.
      fis.close();
      bis.close();
      dis.close();

    } catch (FileNotFoundException e) {
      e.printStackTrace();
    } catch (IOException e) {
      e.printStackTrace();
    }
  }
}

Perl:

my $contents = do { local $/; <HANDLE> };

Java fanboys – this was only an illustration, so don’t feel bad. Hope you got the drift. Explore this tool and I bet you won’t easily go back to writing your blog entry from editor built into your blogging service.

XLRI is where I belonged…

Just a quick update- after all these years of bschool applications, interviews, sleepless nights, pestering ex-bosses for recos, etc I feel happy to call it a day. I am joining 1 year executive MBA program(christened General Management Program or GMP) at XLRI, Jamshedpur.

In case you don’t know XLRI, it is the oldest Bschool in India, estd way back in 1949. The reputed Indian Institute of Managements(IIMs) were established in 1960s. You can perhaps skim through this wiki entry for more info on XLRI- XLRI@Wikipedia

On this historic day, I also feel compelled to list down my MBA journey in chronological order for posterity:

Year Interviewed with CAT score(percentile) Final result
2002 IIM-L, FMS, IIT-D, NMIMS 98.91 Not offered
2003 IIM-A and IIM-C 99.15 Not offered
2004 Nada 97ish;got busy working :) Nada
2005 Nada 97ish;still busy working :) Nada
2006   Skipped  
2007 ISB GMAT-710 Nada
2008 None interested, despite 5 year experience and 92%ile QA, 99.70 in VA, 98.5 in DI 99.70  
2009 SPJain PGPM, XLRI(GMP)   Offered by both

 

Believe me as I was putting together the above table, each year, each interview came in front of my eyes very vividly. It was a very rocky journey indeed and I feel anguished after having come so close to top schools but never making it.  But today, I am very happy to move over the hurdles and get into a school of the stature of XLRI.

Over to next hurdle- making the most out of the MBA experience and to achieve my ambitious goals in life. In the meantime, this song is what keeps humming in my mind every now and then:

Transformation on the way….

Its almost the end of the road to ISB. If I don’t receive interview invite in next 3 days, that dream to attend ISB will be over, well almost. Thanks to the XLRI GMP interview call which I received yesterday, I am not shattered yet. In the meantime, I have been thinking a lot about my future course of action. Will post about that in detail later. But just to give out some direction in the meantime, see this video:

Yes, breaking out on my own is one option. Moving to business consulting roles, without MBA is another. Going for the best possible MBA program in current year is one more. Hope I will have my path chalked out in next couple of months.

Vacation over…. :(

I just came back from a 10 day vacation in SE Asia(Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia). Hangover is very strong and I can feel the deep contrast between a vacation life and a real life right now. So thought of expressing the feelings which I have right now.

This is how I spent my vacation. First what I didn’t have/didn’t do:

1. No cell phone(no bill payment reminders, available bank balance!)
2. No internet for most part(no company emails about things breaking apart back in office!)
3. No television(no bheegi billi from 9XM !)

This is what I did a lot:

1. Cheers for this, cheers for that! Did you try the cocktail “Fantastic Phuket”? Argh how much I hate whiskey….. but … !
2. Water sports. Jet ski, para-sailing, snorkeling, white water rafting. The action never stopped.
3. Water water everywhere. While not bathing in beach, it was the swimming pool. In fact soon I felt like I was living a “fishy” life. Later into the vacation I started avoiding going into the water and now I think hard about even taking a bath!
4. Not sleeping before 5 am. A lot of long nights in the pubs, discs, beaches and one time in the hotel room just playing poker.

On a more introspective note, I also learned a few things during this time. I would share it in a new post. For now its time to get on with the predictable and less exciting old life. But it has a silver lining- it pays you so that you can redo the vacation!

Book Review: Sons of Fortune(Archer again)

So last month I read this novel by Jeffrey Archer(yes yet again. I can’t resist him) which I picked up at a railway station. Before I begin the review, to make things more challenging for myself, let me resolve to NOT use any cliches which are usually used by book reviewers. Let me know how far I was successful.

Sons of Fortune

 

Before we start, I would like to mention that most of this review would be a "spoiler" for people who actually want to read this book. But to help people who want to have some idea about the plot, before they go buy(original please. Say no to PIRACY!) the book, I am dividing the paras in this review into two parts- "Mild Spoiler" and "Big Spoiler".

First the plot:

This novel is based on a real event. Though I did not know this all the while I was reading it and read it as fiction. In brief, this story is about an English man named George Mallory who twice led British expeditions to climb up the Everest in 1920′s.

Caveat: Mild Spoiler

Archer describes the life of George Mallory and presents a live picture of his childhood, youth and his adult life. In this sense, this book is not really about the Everest mission or any controversies surrounding it but it is more about what material George Mallory really was. His natural desire to scale anything which looks tall, his uncompromisable love towards his wife Ruth and his ideas of "equality of opportunity" skills are very well established by Archer. As a result instead of being a mere "climber" to readers he becomes some sort of a role model.

The storyline is rather simple, which is so unlike the Archer we know of. But the Archer’s masterful depiction of the rivalry between two people("First Among Equals", "The Fourth Estate") with totally contrasting personalities is back to its magic here too. So George Finch is some sort of a foil for George Mallory(heck, they even share the same name!) and they both desperately want to beat each other in conquering the mountain first.

Archer describes the life of George Mallory and presents a live picture of his childhood, youth and his adult life. In this sense, this book is not really about the Everest mission or any controversies surrounding it but it is more about what material George Mallory really was. His natural desire to scale anything which looks tall, his uncompromisable love towards his wife Ruth and his ideas of "equality of opportunity" skills are very well established by Archer. As a result instead of being a mere "climber" to readers he becomes some sort of a role model.

Conclusion:(Caveat: Big spoiler ahead)
Whether Mallory reached the summit or not is still a subject of intense international debates and as a result of inconclusive evidence Edmund Hillary and Tenzin Norgoy are still credited as first humans to conquer the 28000 feet(well today it seems to be 29000 ft) tall mountain.

So if you like Archer and more importantly -you are one of the curious kinds, this one is absolutely worth your time and money. Go for it!

Learning to swim- Part 1

Been wanting to write this post for long. Been much busy without much work. :) Anyway here it is.

In this post, I wish to just lay down the foundation for beginners.

1. Get equipped! : The fear and discomfort most people face in the pool is when the water gets in from all sort of places – ears, nose, mouth and rattles your internal sensitive nerves. So investing in protective gear to avoid this puts you in a better condition.A good eye goggle and a silicon swim cap is highly recommended. Goggle is obviously important as it protects your eyes as well as makes it easy for you open your eyes inside water- you want to be able to see where exactly you are in the pool! Swim cap, sometimes is given a skip by people(esp. guys) as they think it is a beauty tip. It is more than that as you can pull it down to cover your ears too, so you cover one more entry points of water.

2. Understand how to breathe once you are in: Its a no-brainer- we are not fish so we cant inhale inside. Still it takes a bit of control to tell your nose and mouth to think before performing a function they have doing all your life almost automatically! The simple concept is – Inhale from mouth when it is outside the water(large air in less time) and exhale from nose inside the water(less air leak in more time).

Here is a video which explains this:

Breathing Exercise

Just note this and try to stick to this rule. When you goof this up inside the pool, I bet you will know it. :)

In the next post on this topic, I will try to cover floating and basic leg movement. Feedback invited!

My swimming learning experiences- introductory post

Swimming is one thing which I have always wanted to do. I think the desire got stronger after I was instructed by ENT doctors to avoid swimming as I had a big perforation in my right ear. My visits to water parks and swimming pool, as a result, have been limited to being in the shallow waters and pretending to be relaxing in front of swimmers around. :) To save myself from this embarrassment, I got my ear fixed some 1-2 yrs back and about 10 days ago I started going to a nearby swimming pool to learn this cool thing. :)

I have been searching on usual internet resources to learn the basics of swimming, but have come across only myriad scattered pieces on different topics like different swimming strokes, maintaining balance, squeezing more speeds, etc. I didn’t easily find a web resource for beginners, a resource which covers the aspects novices need to know in order to swim. The small steps I have taken in last 7-8 days have been full of learning and unlearning. So I thought I would make a note of my learning process here so that it might be of help to someone else. These notes will largely be a result of my browsing on the subject, my swimming trainer’s words and my own experiences in the pool. As a result, these notes are subjective and I welcome any comments/advices from experts. I will try to experiment with such advices in the pool and will update the posts accordingly.

Hope this will help somebody somewhere to learn swimming faster.

after a long hiatus..

Ok so I get it now- a little bit of procrastination can soon add up and keep you away from blogging for days and days on. A mental note registered in my mind- write something here twice a week at least.

Oh, btw, did I tell you about the two contradicting inner selves of mine? Well, like most of us, I hear two voices from within- a positive one which basically says- “you rock dude!” and the other self doubting, cynical one which always seems to say – “Umm. Are you sure you can pull it off?”. For eg. right now I am telling myself – “Make it a point to blog here, whatever it may be” I say to myself and pat comes the reply from the cynical self – “who reads your blog anyway?”. :)

Anyway, one more decision I have taken now it so write something more worthwhile on this blog. As you might have noticed I have written more about my personal outbursts and opinions. And as the famous cliche goes- “opinions are like you-know-what holes”, now I plan to write some unpredictable stuff. Like what?. Umm, I haven’t really thought much but I guess there will be some tidbits about technology, book reviews, etc.

Back to work now. Sigh.

New year laundry list..

HNY 2009 to all of you!

For me this is slated to be an important year. This is what I wish to accomplish in this year:

1. Hit the gym. The tyre needs to lose some air..:)
2. Look at the entrepreneurial stuff seriously. Been fantasizing about a few ideas off late, but not doing anything serious with them. Time to take the plunge!
3. Learn a new language. French. Why is French so popular?
4. Marriage? :)
5. Read some more books. More of Ayn Rand?

I am pretty enthusiastic about this new year. Let me know if anyone wants something to be added in this list. This is your dream chance to get me changed(for the good)!

Why people like Raj Thackrey should be stamped out in Indian democracy, right now!

Okay so I have been against Raj Thackrey since the first day he spat his venom on “north Indians” settled in Maharashtra. I used to think that people like him who want to gain votes will keep trying to polarize the historically easily dividable Indians and people should just just ignore him.

But what I realized yesterday, got me scared. It also made me see clearly why people like him should be made to shut up or sent to jail right away. I may look shortsighted and unnecessarily “worked up” but let me try to make you see what I see now.

Let’s forget about Raj Thackrey for a moment. Let’s see the history of the Hindu-Muslim divide which gifted us Mumbai attacks a few days ago. If you go back to early 1900′s, all was well in India. Indians were standing up to oppose the British raj and the freedom movement was building up.Then something happened. Britishers played the “divide and rule” card and turned Hindus against Muslims. From nowhere, a guy called Jinnah became a rival to leaders like Gandhi and sparks started flying everywhere. Soon partition happened and 60 years from then, we are still not able to recover from it. Thanks to the image which was portrayed in Indian movies and media, I used to believe till now that it was Jinnah, who played a key role in this painful partition.

But no. Here I need your attention. This is what wiki says about Jinnah:

“Some historians like H M Seervai and Ayesha Jalal assert that Jinnah never wanted partition of India and independence of Pakistan —it was the outcome of the Congress leaders being unwilling to share power with the Muslim League. It is asserted that Jinnah only used the Pakistan demand as a method to mobilize support to obtain significant political rights for Muslims.”

So, he never wanted partition but still used to demand for Pakistan to gain support. Rings bells? This is exactly what I am told by some of my Maharashtrian friends, who don’t see anything wrong in Thackrey apart from his violence for North Indians. They say that Raj Thackrey is just doing this to gain votes but his real intention is for upliftment of Maharashtrians and there is nothing wrong in it.

And this is where my dread starts. If my educated friends don’t see the far reaching consequences of this separatist movement, even god can’t save this country. Remember, what was just a demand for Pakistan, created the great animosity between Hindu and Muslims; animosity which feeds on blood of innocent people. What if same thing happens today? Hatred doesn’t take much time to seize control of one’s mind. We have seen that again and again. How easily Indians get divided? First came Hindu vs Muslim, then came Mumbai vs Lungi(South Indian), Tamil vs rest of India and north Indian vs Maharashtrian. Somewhere, some self serving leader wants votes, calls conferences, targets a community and people get divided, just at the drop of a hat.

Yesterday I watched “Ek Ruka Hua Faisla” in full. You would be amazed at the fact that the feelings expressed by the characters are so relevant even today. You would also feel anger at watching a few scenes like this one:(the video is a comparison of this movie with its original “12 Angry Men”. Listen to the dialogues of the person in the original too, they are relevant in Indian context too )

Now imagine for a second what is being said in this scene about Muslims, being said about a Bihari by a Mahrashtrian in future. Looks ludicrous? Today, yes. But if we don’t wake up now it may as well be possible.

I am all for development of Maharashtra by people like Raj Thackrey. Reserve jobs for less privileged if need be. Reserve seats at colleges and schools. But for god’s sake don’t divide India again. You will come and go, after reveling in power plays but the hatred you stoke today will never wither out. If we don’t wake up now, India will again become a collection of small states, as it was before the Indian republic was born.

I see a devil. I see another Jinnah. I am scared.