Tuesday, May 31, 2011

At least at home

Warning: This post is absolute senseless whining. You can read at your own risk.

You walk to the immigration official and present your passport, he looks at the passport cover and immediately raises an eyebrow. This is a scene which happens to me time and time again. I would have all the needed documents and a clean sheet but still they feel comfortable only after talking to their senior official. Usual question they ask is, he is a passport holder of the following country shall I allow him?

I don't mind getting this special attention abroad knowing that we have over the years accumulated bad coverage and had got into too many immigration related issues.

What is really hard for me to comprehend is why on earth aren't we treated properly at our own ports of entry. In almost all the countries I have been to they give priority to their own countrymen by having separate queues for locals, in Singapore locals can do self clearance, if I am not mistaken -Indonesia has more counters for locals than foreigners, etc. I was just wondering shouldn't we get at least some better treatment at home knowing what we face at other places.

But but we have more bigger issues so I should stop whining and move on and be glad that in recent times I haven't been asked "why are you coming?" when I return to the place I call as home.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Online Presence

For almost all the interviews I have done upto now, I have made it a habit to do a search and evaluate the online presence of the candidate in question. I now come to believe that it does play a big part in influencing my mind and at times had gone to the extent of creating a level of respect towards the interviewee.

The frankness exhibited, the technical skill shown and the ability to articulate in blogs, forums and social networks allows to project a great personality. Before a professional interview getting this mind share of the interviewer even before walking in and meeting face to face is a huge bonus.

Personally I have had different experiences with my own online presence. Once I got into a call with a customer and he greeted me by saying - "Hi, the fan of rubber slipper" - I was stunned, wondering why me and how? Thank god it was a call, I recollected my conciousness and replied. Yes that's my favourite and asked how do you know? He asked me to google and see. Soon after the call I did a search to find that facebook was the culprit. But then I was glad that I have been either lucky or he was very kind to avoid talking about the embarrassing topics that my "friends" have put up about me. But it was indeed a lesson on how important online presence is even if you are not looking for a job.

Second time it helped me when the customer got to know that I know a bit of MySQL and treated me as a techie and not as a complete business guy who comes to bluff!
I guess in the modern era a good online presence is important as much or even more than the CV. Do a small test to google your own name and see, what's getting listed. If you don't have a linkedin go create it and keep it properly updated, if you are into facebook go and set your privacy policies to control who can see what. This would atleast set the basics right.

Also remember if you are single imagine your proposed/about to propose/crush guy or gal doing a search and finding that you are a crap. God bless you :P. So atleast for this get started and get your online presence in order.lol

PS: my online presence is any way hopeless due to the type of friends I have so I have given up on it.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Dropping a Penny

Imagine a world in which for each step you place in a lawn, two completely unrelated parties to you pays the other a cent per step. I think it will almost give us a feeling as if we are dropping a penny each time we walk and someone else picks and distributes it. In worldly sense this sounds ridiculous and unless you are a celebrity you wouldn't expect to be paid for making a mere appearance.

Strangely although this sounds odd in real world, its common practice in the virtual world. Bulk of the online commerce is based on a similar concept. Every time you visit cricinfo, facebook and other popular sites there are two unrelated parties keeping count of the number of impressions that you create and transact between them, same happens when you visit almost all news web sites, social networking sites, search engines, free email services and even when you visit my blog :) This can be argued to be interpreted as "when ever you browse the net you are making someone else richer with each click you make!".  The main difference  here from traditional marketing is that if a billboard is put up each time you walk in front of the bill board no one counts it and pays because you walked in front of it, its a fixed sum transaction. (One can argue that bill board price was also done based on number of estimated number of users to see it)

The concept is called as online advertising and there are different models used in it. The one that I explained above is called as CPM (cost per mile) or CPI (cost per impression) or CPT(cost per thousand), where the number of impressions  are counted and there is a unit price paid by the advertiser to the advertisement agent - For example $20 for 1000 impressions. There is of course an alternate approach to online advertising which is called as CPA (cost per action) on of the popular once under this is CPC (cost per click), which doesn't mind about the number of impressions but counts the number of clicks or an accepted type of action like registration on the advertisers site or making a purchase on the site.

I hope this doesn't influence you when you click around sites in future :D

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Being a fan of Trinity Rugby

My father used to be in charge of tickets for all Trinity rugby matches, so it was a routine exercise for him to take me to the matches (I guess he thought that leaving me alone at home was too dangerous). I used be  one of the first to get into the stadium (because only after he reaches the gates are opened and the ticket sales starts) well before even the under 17 match kicks off.  From day one he asked me to go and sit in the school boys section. For a couple of years I used to be the youngest spectator there. For some matches, like Vidyartha match, which used to be our season opener and at times played during school holidays, I used to be part of a handful of spectators. I think it was probably the first few matches that father had to drag me out of home and then I got the taste of it. After that point I would be all dressed up and ready leave with him.

The men who dawned the red, gold and blue jersey were my childhood idols.At home I would stand in front of the mirror pick the pillow and imagine that the pillow is the lion mascot and try an Ayaz Deen walk. I would pick the bundle of socks at home, which used to be an improvised shoe brush, and use it as the ball and try place kicks (or was it drop kick) like Muhandiramge and imagine putting over a penalty on the last minute to win the match. Then would imagine myself as the winger scoring a try and make a dive on to the bed from a few yards away to get the sliding effect. I used to think that it was only me who had these wild imaginations, but later on I got to know that this is a common syndrome a lot of fellow Trinitians share. 

As soon as the match ends, whether we win or loose we would always make our way into the middle to wish our idols. I can remember we would wait for both teams to go through the procedure of exchanging their complementaries to each other and then we would go in and give a pat to each player. I can remember when I wasn't tall enough to reach the jersey of the players I would try my best to jump and reach it and on some lucky instances some players would notice me and would bend and shake hands with me and that would make my day. In rare cases in which Trinity lost, next day I would end up having a stroke of fever and be in bed. My mother would know what had made me sick and would tell me that there is no medicine for this type of fever. It was called as "Trinity fever".

I grew up to understand it was a sport and why Trinity rugby was different. I understood the traditions and the sportsmanship with which it was played. I learnt that when we are outplayed, its gentlemanly to accept that you were defeated and wish the opposite team. I learnt that referees were humans and are prone to errors. If we loose because of a refereeing blunder its not the end of life, we can always come back and show what we are made of. I understood why it was important to be ruthless in the field and then when the long whistle is blown to leave that ruthlessness on the field. I learnt the fact that rugby was a rowdies' game played by gentlemen by watching Trinity rugby. Most importantly I learnt that irrespective whether if its recorded as a win or loose on the score card as long as they had upheld the great values of sportsmanship they are heroes in our eyes. These Trinity rugby traditions and values are not built over a year or two, but its built over by generations of Trinitians. To my memory two Trinitians had to pay extraordinary price in the process of trying to uphold these values even in the face of utter rowdyism. One was Mathivanan, who had to pay the ultimate price and Buwaneka who still carries the scars of a severe collar bone fracture.

Moving into the senior grades I got occupied with extra curricular activities and frequency of attending matches dropped drastically. Obviously rugby at Trinity was too sacred for someone like me to play, so I had to opt for extra curricular activities which suited my strengths. All though my attendance frequency decreased the great respect for the red, gold and blue jersey was already engraved in my mind and to date whenever I see the boys run in to the field wearing it, the heart pounds faster and the expectation soars high, even in front of a computer, at times miles away from the venue very naturally shouts of come on, work it, go low and all the other instructions are barked out. Funnily few weeks back I was watching the Kingswood match at a hotel room in Jakarta on the live stream and all of a sudden I heard someone ring the door bell , I opened the door and a hotel room boy asked "Are you alright sir?!" Ironically I never played rugby at Trinity except the occasional touch rugby at the quadrangle when guys would take me in only if they didn't have enough numbers. Although being a guy who can boast of such a limited rugby profile I still feels like shouting all the instructions to the boys when they play for college, I guess thats the Trinity Spirit!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Third Language for Promotion!

While I was travelling today, in the same compartment a set of Government servants were returning after attending a workshop to Learn Tamil. There were eight people and one of them was the Tamil trainer and the rest attendees of the workshop. Through out the trip they were trying to apply what they had learnt today, they tried to read the name boards which had Tamil writings and at most times concluded that the name board was wrong. Some were actual errors on the board while the others were due to their course hasn't covered still some finer points (these are old Tamil writings for letters like ணா written in the pre computer style ). They observed that in the Kadugannaawa name board the naa was wrong, balana was written as balaana and so forth. Usually I had got used to bigger funny totally misleading mistakes so these finer points never really raised any alarm before this.

This episode made me wonder why the government servants had been asked to learn the 3rd language and made me wonder for a moment, won't this be a beautiful place where each person knew others language and sentiments blaa bla. My curiosity continued to grow on why all of a sudden they had got a 'liking' to learn 3rd language at this old age. Then luckily I overheard one of them explaining to a fellow passenger that they had to get through a third language exam to get to a certain level in their job. Now this shrugged me out of the dream world I was about to get submerged into and started wondering whether if this was a sustainable solution.

This made me thank about the real goal of learning a 3rd language. I guess its to make sure the two communities can communicate to each other easily and to promote national integration. If this was the goal,  instead of making people learn 3rd language why shouldn't we manage using two languages, where we promote and emphasize each person to learn their mother tongue and English. English can be the bridge between the two communities and its obviously much more easier to sell the importance of learning English to either community.

This I consider to be a more practical and versatile option. Forcing people to learn a 3rd language just for the sake of passing an exam to get the promotion is of  little use and I think its a waste of time and Energy. I can bet that most people will pass this exam but the application of the language will be zero and most importantly these people does not have any real incentive to use it in day to day activities than to just  learn it for the sake of passing the exam passing.

I know I am hitting a nerve wire of criticizing native language learning and promoting the learning of a colonial, western language. But if you evaluate the two options without considering the emotional factor I am sure hands down learning English will be the most practical and sustainable option.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Art of making money :D

Money making is an art, not everyone can do it. Today let me explain a totally fictious money making scheme. Btw don't try it unless you are really talented.

Step 1: organize a trip
Step 2: get people to agree to come and also try get atleast one person who wouldn't come to agree to join the trip.
Step 3: Inform that you are going to buy tickets and get commitment
Step 4: Get a 3rd party sponsor to buy the tickets.
Step 5: Now make the guy who said yes and not going to make the trip feel guilty. So he forcefully tries to pay for his ticket. Pretend as if you don't want to collect the money.
Step 6: Now get the ticket money from the others dividing the whole ticket cost amoung those who came.
Step 7: Reimburse the tickets at the station of the people who didn't turn up
Step 7: After all this, the person who didn't come will come and pay. So you get that too.

Yo can be too lazy to calculate the profit. But make sure you circulate a nicely made excel sheet with all the expenses to the guys who travelled. Don't add the absentee and sponsor to this list.

Ok, now shall we plan our next trip ;)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pray for her

As I am writing this post our colleague Chulani(Chulani Kandage) is undergoing a twelve hour marathon surgery to remove a brain tumor. She was diagnosed of this just a few days before and due to the severity of it was adviced to surgically remove it at the earliest. Currently she is under medical supervision of Dr. Sunil Perera, Consultant Neurosurgeon at the Central Hospital, Colombo.

The brave girl she is she didn't show any sign of emotion since being told about the severity, she had taken it in the best possible spirit and still keeps smiling and being her jovial self, in the same way she always used to be, with all those who visit her at the hospital. Please have her in your prayers as she bravely fight against the tumor .

The sudden turn of events had left her parents in a spot of bother as a sum of 2 Million Rupees is needed and cannot be afforded by them. By any chance if you are in a position to lend some help to them and her, please do so to keep her smiling!

If you need her details please leave a comment or send a mail to bsayanthan at gmail dot com so I can mail you the details.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My Book Shelf

Last few months my rate of reading had gone up significantly, officially I am a fan of Malcolm Gladwell. Not only has his books given me a new perspective to think but it has also saved me quiet a few times from making foolish decisions.

I guess every parent should read Outliers and all people who are into marketing and longing to create a viral marketing model must read tipping point. Blink had made my day a few times and helped in interpreting certain types of human behaviors.

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference Blink: The Power of Thinking Without ThinkingOutliers: The Story of Success

Dale Carnegie's How to win friends and influence people is a gem and If I am in a Sales Organization I would definitely make it a compulsory read for all the sales people. Blue ocean strategy is a superb book and gives a new dimension to strategic analysis. Rules for renegades - I guess is a must read for all young women!

How To Win Friends and Influence PeopleBlue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition IrrelevantRules for Renegades: How to Make More Money, Rock Your Career, and Revel in Your Individuality

Siddhartha is the only Novel I have read during the last 5 years and It is a classic piece of writing with a lot of depth. This book is freely available in the public domain, its worth reading. Robin Sharma's the monk who sold the ferrari is a classic piece and it inspired to write a blog post. Click here to read it 

SiddharthaThe Monk Who Sold His Ferrari: A Fable About Fulfilling Your Dreams & Reaching Your Destiny

I maintain my reading list on LinkedIn click here to check it out

Ella in Pictures

Last few days I have been blogging about Ella Trip. Today I will finish off the story with the pictures from there.
train shot

A complete luck by chance picture of the moving Colombo Badulla train and I am sure I am going to be showing off this picture for a long time to come.

Ella Gap

The scenic view of the Ella gap

Ella Gap

The Ravana Falls

ravana ella

The views from Mini Adams Peak
mini Adams peaks

Demodara Loop

The model of the famous railway loop.


Nine Arch Bridge


Other Ella Pics


Ella Location on the Map

View Larger Map

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Back from Ella

As soon as I finished my last blog and looked around the guys were already in deep sleep on the grass patch at the top of mini Adams peak. I too put my phone away and closed my eyes. The gentle breeze and the perfect shade made it a perfect place to sleep.

What I remember next is hearing a huge thunder and was shaken out of the sleep. I suddenly see that the climate has changed, it has almost got dark, the clouds had set in and the thunder and lighting had got closer. But still 3 guys were snoring and fast asleep without being woken up by even the huge thunder. Since it was my "responsibility", I made sure I took pics of them sleeping before trying to wake them up ;)

When I try to wake up one guy he asked, "where am I?", the other guy said "ah I was feeling like Gulliver being attacked by the ants here", next guy woke up with red eyes and asked "damn it, what time is it?". All of us felt the calm of the place absorbing us. If not for the environment I doubt that people within an hour's sleep would be dreaming, snoring and forgetting the time consciousness.

The locals tell me that when Lord Buddha visited Sri Lanka he has visited the mini Adam's peak, but has supposedly was disappointed that the farmers were working at the fields on a poya day and quipped that the place is with sinners and opted to head to the place currently refereed as Adams peak without staying here for too long.

Right opposite the peak we could see the Ravana rock and Ravana ella. The place which they tell us as the place where ravana hid seetha. Anyway I have no idea about the accuracy of the information.

We made our way downhill in double quick time to avoid getting caught in the rain. We made our way to Ella grand hotel, which was a bit of an expensive place when compared to local standards, but the view and the environment and food made it value for money. We had some snacks and then headed to the railway station. Got 2nd class tickets which cost 350 Rs, which is 100 less than sleeper rates, but the risk was that a seat was not guaranteed. Anyway since it was a Saturday night we managed to get seats from Ella itself.
Train started from Ella at 7 PM and we reached Colombo fort by 7 AM. It was a nice unplanned trip which went to plan. The Badulla up country train trip is worth to be taken at least once in a lifetime!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Ella Adventure Day 2

Top of the mini Adams peak,  lied under a tree and listening to the swaying of the leaves and the occasional thunder from far away, while the guys are trying to interpret the folk lore of Ella in their own wildest imaginary terms yours truly is trying to make an attempt to summarize how the day progressed.

We decided to get down from the train at Demodara instead of ella, we reached there by about 6 AM. This allowed us to get a view at the famous railway architectural marvel by the name of the Demodra loop or the railway knot or the railway loop. As the story goes, the train lines from the two ends couldn't be connected to each other since the maximum inclination allowed at that time was smaller than the inclination between the two lines. Apparently when the architects were without a solution in hand a kid has suggested the loop like structure using his turban as an analogy. English architects took the cue from his thought and built this railway loop.

After taking a walk along the loop we decided to take a walk along the railway line crossing another iconic railway architecture by the name of nine arch bridge, supposedly built without concrete and it still stands and then reached Ella by continuing to walk along the railway line, it was a long but nice walk with the scenic up country views with a mix of tea plantations and the pine forests. Then we had a nice view of Ella gap, then a bath at Ravana ella and then hiked to the peak of mini adams peak. Since we have covered all the places we wanted to cover, we are considering the option of taking the night mail train for the return trip to avoid the disappointment of having to stand all the way to Colombo as we have been told that since its a Sunday it will be crowded.

When I return will update the posts with pictures and more details. Will keep you guys posted. Now time for me to doze off while gazing at the sky and the valley at the horizon!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Ella Adventure live blog - Day 1

3 idiots found 2 more idiots and had just started on a trip to Ella. Thanks to the generous ticket buyer we have a one way tickets in hand ;) its sleeper rates 2nd class tickets marked as 343 Rs but the price is 450 Rs, but as it stands now no mode of return and no place to stay and doesn't know what to expect. 3 idiots already declared that they don't have any expectation and knowing Taj mahal train trip how can you expect anything more. If you haven't read it find it under the himalayan heights link on top.

Would be interesting to see how this will go. I will make sure that I keep you updated about the adventures.
The train is expected to head to Kandy and then the through the famous up country route and just now the train started to stroll sharp at 8 PM from Ella.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Time for Some Feedback

Over the past month I have been posting my jabbering on a daily basis and the unique visitors per day minimum was 5 and the peak was 53. I am not sure how people felt except the specific instances in which people explicitly commented or liked. There were two people who gave me some real feedback.

One was from my greatest critic; all along she makes sure that she criticizes me from top to bottom, left to right. She read this post about “Time to change wedding rituals?” and told me you had wrote that without conceptualizing the idea fully, it’s like a half baked cake,  you should have thought more and made it more a complete version. Then she goes on to explain, you know what Maniratnam has said if you think if there is something that you know that someone else will do it better give it to them without spoiling the idea by trying it yourself (I wonder whether if he really said this). But then she didn’t still tell me whom I should give that to, probably if she is willing I would have definitely given her. ;) Similar sentiment was expressed by another person when I started this blog, when I was warned he would like quality over quantity when I started on 365.

The second critic is a friend who knows jolly well how I behave; He buzzed me and asked, did you eat wadei in train? I was surprised to know that he actually got time to read this sort of musings, last person whom I expected to read it. I replied “No”, and then pat came the reply, “you had become a true Sri Lankan”. I asked “why?” he replied “you are marketing a product you don’t know about”. My defense was that I never commented on the taste but the sales skill, but then I just realized that technically speaking  it can be interpreted as marketing too since I don’t have any disclaimers and then he was using that to pull my leg.:D click here to read here the post

These are people who are capable of keeping me on my heals and they very well know that the type of person I am and that I need to be challenged very often.  For all those folks, who spend your precious time on reading these, please feel free to give feedback, criticize and add things I have missed in the posts, all comments are most appreciated and valued. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Dignity of Labour

While being at school our English Teacher tried her level best to drill into us the importance of respecting all kind of jobs and accepting the fact that one job is not greater than another. She used to point out that we Sri Lankans are really bad at this. At that point of time I didn't understand what she really meant. I used to think that I get on well with anyone hence I do respect the dignity of labor. With more exposure and experience now I value and understand the wisdom that she tried to impart on us.

Local caste system was based on the job a person did and this has engraved a culture of disrespecting certain type of jobs or at least had created a mentality of considering certain castes/job to be superior to the other. At the surface caste system invisible in our current society, but deeply within the mind the damage is already done. Most of the disrespect that we show to certain professions might not be originating at a conscious level but at an unconscious level.   Think of the following instances and see whether if you are showing disrespect at an unconscious level,

1. Do you refer or  people in certain profession with a respectful tone and people of another profession in another tone ( in Tamil like avan and avar, in Sinhala eya or aroo ), specially in informal chats with friends or family?
2. Do you alway think that you want to be served and doesn't want to serve?
3. Would you discourage someone from taking a certain job, since you consider that job to be held in lower esteem by the society?

If the answer to any one of the above is Yes, I am sure you are at least showing disrespect at an unconscious level. But then I am sure 9 out of 10 of us will fall into this category. We at large haven't still come to accept that there is life beyond stereo typical superior jobs and that others are also professions which need expertise and skill. Realizing this might not happen over night but if we are to mature as a society and become progressive instilling this and removing even the unconscious superiority complex that we hold is crucial.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Its a creature which fascinate me. When I was a kid I used to sit and observe them weave the web. The end product they produce always impressed me. It always puzzled me how so many smaller insects get caught in the small web they have weaved while having so much space outside where they could have been flying around freely. Then when at university while doing part time ( of was it full time? ) development with friends we called our selves DNS Cyber Spiders. The creature continues to impress me. hanging from air

Today with a camera in hand I went around the house and captured them on my camera.

the webspider

Monday, May 16, 2011

Batu caves

I do not go to Temples very often, my mother used to try really hard to pursuit me to go to  temples regularly, but now she has given up on it. She now tells me that there would be a time at which I will be going to temples and she will have the last laugh - Time will tell :D.  But there are few temples which I don't wait for anyone to invite me to make a trip. One of it is Batu caves, when I visit Malaysia and if I have a spare day I make it a point to visit it. In recent times it has become even more simpler to get there since they started a train line from KL Sentral which goes right upto Batu Caves.batu cave

I am not sure why I am attracted to it, but its a different type of temple. The large golden coloured Murugan statue is the high light of the place. you can take the steps behind it and reach the main temple which is within a cave. Its a peaceful place where you can find a place for your own self and spend time in contemplation. The monkeys will make sure that they will keep you entertained. They had got used to people and will make it a point to pick things from people.


In the vicinity of it you would find a few more temples and valovar kottam. Valoovar kottam is a nice place with the thirkural painted on the walls and it almost serves like a cultural center. Its a mix of serenity, natural flavour and sense of tranquility which I really like. Probably if I had gone on a festival day I might not be saying this, since I was told when its thaipoosam, the place gets crowded with thousands of devotees. But then usually I am a person who likes to goto any kovil on a non - festive day since the main thing I expect from a temple is its tranquility and Batu caves offers me plenty of it!

aru padai veedu
Aaru padai veedu - ஆறு படை வீடு

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Time to modernize Weddings Rituals?

Whenever I look at a Hindu wedding the fact that strikes me is that someone should update the rituals. Currently you would see rituals like "அம்மி மிதித்து அருந்ததி பார்த்து ", which basically is a ritual where the groom lifts brides leg and places it on an old grinder stone. Apparently its supposed to be a ritual which makes the man come down from his ego and go to the extent of helping her step on it, while in the presence of all the relatives and well wishers. The second part of it is to show the couple arunthathi, its a star visible in the northern horizon of the sky. 

In todays time the ammi (the grinder stone) is  out of use, people find this as an antic and just bring this in for the wedding and today men are without ego, if you ask them to fall on the legs and beg for mercy they might do it..lol. So i guess its time that this is scrapped.

This star gazing is another bluffing now a days, most wedding happen in broad day lights and how are they expected to see the star, instead groom shows the bride there is the star and the groom acknowledges, it has become the first fooling exercise man undertakes in his new innings. 

Next is the ritual where in some weddings groom and bride throw rice grain and flowers at each other and pour it on others head. This I think was a ritual which was introduced back then since the marriages were underage where the bride and groom were really small and to keep them occupied they were allowed to do this. But then continuing this in the modern age, instead of wasting the rice and flowers, we could probably give them each a mobile and allow them to text to each other or give access to facebook at the manawarai and allow them to use an application to send flowers to each other or put up a giant screen and allow them to play barn buddy with the crowd. :D

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Great Sales People on the Kandy Colombo Train

The train journey from Kandy to Colombo is fascinating. I have taken this journey countless number of times but it never fails to impress. The stretch from Fort to Kandy takes you through different landscapes. I have already written a blog about the landscapes and the surroundings click here to read it. The focus of this post is not on the surrounding but on three sales people who impressed me. They are ordinary people exhibiting some strange qualities as per our usual standards.

Train winding through Kadugannwa

The vadai seller

Apparently he has been selling vadai (an indian short eat) in the train for the last 8 years. He is a stylish act, the way he handles the vadai impresses everyone. He first takes a piece of paper and places it nicely in his left hand ,   he uses the tong and picks the vadai with it and embeds it in the paper on the left hand. Then picks the knife and slices the vadai into two. Then he picks the spoon and applies the chillie paste. All this is done with style and grace. Each vadai is prepared in this way and then given to the customer. It has become the most sort after eatery in the train, I know people who have his mobile number and give him a call and inform the compartment they are in, because they do not want to take the risk of not getting a vadai because he runs out of stock very often.

This mans craft has not only charmed the locals but also the foreigners, who make it a point to taste his 20/= vadai. The best part came last Friday, he walked into the compartment, there was a large family travelling in it. I think they were either first time train travelers or one off travelers. Obviously they were not interested in buying from him, since they didn't know how it would taste and very easily he could have also walked away not worrying about them since it doesn't take rocket science to figure out that he can finish his days stock whether this family buys or not. This brought out the shrewed businessmen in him, he made an offer to one of the family member to try his vadai for free! Within the next 15 minutes I saw the family pay him for that vadai and also buying 7 more from him. I was left amazed and was wondering man didn't he do a (W)hoAreWee.


The kadala seller

The second sales person is a very old person who sells grams, peanuts and other bean packets. He is very chirpy when it comes to selling. One day he showed of his English skill to a group of foreigners. His punch line to sell packets was "Pick One Any One!". Later on I got to know he is a very knowledgeable man, who does this in his old age while being in retirement from a government job.

Train canteen

3rd guy is the guy who runs the canteen in the intercity train, he goes around distributing food items and strangely he is not interested in collecting money immediately. In a nation where, people normally take the money before giving a good, this behavior was very strange to me. After an hour or so he comes around and people call him and pay him the money. I was told that when he is out of change, he refuses to take the excessive money from the passenger and tells the passenger its easier for you to remember me, than for me to remember whom I owe money to, so you may give the balance next time you travel. He plays into the conscience of people and strangely he creates a culture where people make sure that they find him and make the payment for what ever they eat!

Irrespective of the scale you are doing in, Sales is a unique art and not everyone can do it. You should have the skill in you to do it and I guess its a skill you should be born with. If I was in their positions I am sure I would have just walked away not trying to sell the new family and also would have made sure I collect the money before I give the food. But these men think differently and become successful in their own right.


Friday, May 13, 2011

Celebrating a Month of Blogging

On the eve of the local new year I kicked off an effort to blog on a daily basis. I had been able to keep the pledge and write blogs on a daily basis for the last 31 days. The project is to do for 365 days. Another 11 months to go. Its not been easy but it has given a new energy and purpose when it comes to learning and having opinion.

It has and it will continue to be a challenge specially since I might be at places without internet access. Where I might have to do the writing but post it later on. Lets see how it will go, but for now I am happy!

Today I need someone to help me in identifying the mountain range show in the below pictures, I took this  picture while flying from Kenya (Nairobi) to Nigeria(Lagos). I think I would have taken these pics about 1 hour from take off.  I am curious since it seemed like a snow cap mountain in Africa.

somewhere between East and Central Africa

somewhere between East and Central Africa

This was taken a few weeks after the Himalayan trip and it just bought back memories of what I saw there.. Check the Himalayan pics and story by clicking here

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Couch DB for a MySQL User

At last I found some time to play around with Couch DB. The installation was pretty simple and while working what was striking me was that it was too simple to be true. Just like the guy in the logo of couch DB where a  guy is seated on the sofa full relaxed I was feeling the same :D.Here I have listed a brief comparison with MySQL.

Couch DB
Type of SQL
Which means schema definitions are not needed and querying is free of SQL
Type of database
Document  database
Depends on the distribution.
Usually straight forward, unless it’s a tar distribution where you need to go through certain steps
I installed on Ubuntu, was straight forward using apt-get.
Server starts up when the OS is booted as per the default configuration.
Plenty of client applications available. Mysql administrator, Mysql work bench etc.
mysql client is a command line based client.
Futon , a simple built in web tool available to manage the database and execute the views.
Or CURL utility can be used to generate the HTTP requests.
Usual SQL based queries, where group by, sort and filtering are supported
Using map and reduction functions you can write sorts, sum, average, etc . This is fun and specially who had done programming with Erlang will enjoy this.
Find below a screen shot of a map reduce function.
Support for SSL available
MySQL has permission tables where the permissions are stored and managed
No SSL availability as of now
I guess security is the biggest weakness. It’s still in primitive stage. Apparently there will be some new development.
As of now, the user name password for admin should be defined in the configuration and access control need to be implemented by the application developer.
Theoretically two way replication supported, but usually not used in production systems.
Usual replication is asynchronous and it’s based on  binary logs(where changes are recorded).
Replication can be triggered from the futon UI it self. It supports two way replication and handles conflict resolution internally, these conflicts are recorded for future references. But the issue is the replication is almost like a snapshot being replicated when triggered and not a continues process by itself. To make it continuous a cron job should be set up to periodically sync the databases or write a script which will be invoked when document updates are made.
Finding server statistics
Show status on mysql command line  in futon can be used to retrieve the server statistics
Usual architecture
Application will have  a connector to connect to the database. Applications front end will have the java scripts to render on the client.
Client(java script) -> application server -> database server
Here the calling of the database design views can be directly done by the Client(java script ) making it simple light weight and straight forward.

An example of an aggregate function written with map reduce function is show in the image below. The equivalent SQL query will be select name, average(marks) from employee;

 read my earlier post on Mongo DB for MySQL users by visiting balagowri

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

You don't need to be the first!

In our society we had come to believe that being first in anything is the best. At school we learnt things like, who was the first man walk on the moon?, who was the first women prime minister? etc. and when schooling relatives usually asked "what is your rank in class?" and then they would say "next time you should become first". All these had made us to live with an illusion of connecting good or the best with being first. Some of us had even gone to an extent to  believe that not being first is a failure.

The commercial world is even more crazier, the claim for first is almost beyond being absurd. Radio stations claim that they are the first to play a song in air, companies want to claim that they are the first to launch a product or service, Then when ever I questioned why is it so important to be first I was given answers, like look at Athletics you know who became first but seldom worried who was second, World celebrates who won the world cup but the finalist is just a foot note in history. But the issue here is does the world remember that you were the first in the class on a certain term?Let me try to put this in perspective. First lets look at some products and services examples,

Google was not the first search engine!
Facebook was not the first social networking site!
iPhone was not the first smart phone!
Microsoft was the the first operating system!

The trick here is they were not the first but they did become the most accepted and recognized brand. Probably the first to market guys actually came in wasted a lot of time and resource and softened the market so that the later player could enter pretty easily without initial research and education cost to establish themselves. There is a nice piece of writing which describes that why being the first doesn't always guarantee a competitive advantage click here for the article.

Looking at an individual level, remember that not everyone who has become successful were first in the class or topped the batch. Malcolm Gladwell in book Outliers puts it nicely you don't have to be the first but the minimum requirement is you should be above average and then practice the craft and he defines it as the 10,000 hour threshold that you should achieve to become a world class act. If you look at world class people they would have spent more than 10,000 hours practicing their craft, it applies to Murali, Tendulkar ( He started young and achieved it younger), Gates, Jobs, Micheal Jackson, AR Rahman, etc, common factor among all these greats is the 10,000 hour rule!

Bottom line is becoming first is good if you can do it, but its not always a must, there is life beyond becoming first and that can also be beneficial!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Can you call a stored procedure from a trigger in MySQL?

Very often i am asked this question. The answer is a big yes. MySQL allows you to call a stored procedure within a trigger. The stored procedure can even be within another database. The following a simple example to prove the point.

**** Create First database and table ****
mysql> create database test2;
mysql> use test2;
mysql> create table emps( emp_id int, salary int);

**** Create Second database and table ****
mysql> create database test3;
mysql> use test3;
mysql> create table error(message varchar(100));

**** Create Stored Procedure ****
mysql> delimiter $$
mysql> create procedure exect(pass varchar(100))
    -> begin
    -> insert into error(message) values (pass);
    -> insert into error(message) values (pass);
    -> end$$
mysql> delimiter ;

**** Create Trigger ****
mysql> delimiter $$
mysql> create trigger cc before insert on test2.emps for each row
    -> begin
    -> if new.salary > 100 then
    -> call test3.exect("sorry");
    -> end if;
    -> end $$
mysql> delimiter ;

**** Test Feasibility****
mysql> insert into test2.emps values(1,1000);
mysql> select * from test3.error;
| message |
| sorry   |
| sorry   |

which means the trigger can call a stored procedure in another database.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

CMMI - The Good things

This is the first chapter in my effort to bat for both sides of CMMI and Agile. Agile and CMMI are two ends of the spectrum and I am trying to study whether if there is at all a point of "marriage". I know there is a lot of reading material on the web on this, so will try to get the maximum out of them as well.

CMMI as a model is very informative and has been built using best practices gained from many organizations. It gives almost an entirety for a  software organization with respect to the process . The point that should be noted is that CMMI is tool or implementation agnostic, giving us the option of interpreting and implementing for our own usage. The following are some points which I observed to be important areas from the model which I am not sure if complete Agile focus would have and otherwise could very easily could go unnoticed. Here I am actually highlighting the intent but not the rigor from the model.

1. The process focus
The model has 5 process areas dedicated for process management. This introduces the need for an organization to maintain a process asset library (PAL), train new recruits on the process and the continuous improvement of the process. I specially like the concept of PAL since it gives a single access place for all process documents, templates, guidelines and exemplary artifacts.

2. Requirement Traceability
The model emphasizes the need to have the ability to trace requirements cutting through the different stages of the lifecycle.

3. Product Integration
In version 1.3 this allows to be mapped to continuous integration, the focus on this and followed by the focus on making sure integration testing can be greatly helpful.

4. Concept of reviews, check lists and Templates
When the above is introduced to the most essential points in the life cycle the quality of the output and the efficiency of producing standard outputs can be greatly improved.

5. Project Management focus
In an organization with the specialized project manager role, the model gives a good guideline for the activities to be performed, including project planning, resource planning, stake holder analysis and risk management

6. Involving the management into the process.
Under the general practices it highlights the need for management reporting and the need for management to monitor people, projects, products and process.

Further to this, there is some welcoming news in the form of CMMI for Development Version 1.3.

The CMMI Version 1.2 which we worked on doesn't have even a mention about agile in the model document, but the version 1.3 tries to "marry" them.

Quoting from the 1.3 Document, "To help those who use Agile methods to interpret CMMI practices in their environments, notes have been added to selected process areas. These notes are added, usually in the introductory notes, to the following process areas in CMMI-DEV: CM, PI, PMC, PP, PPQA, RD, REQM, RSKM, TS, and VER."

read my earlier writing related to CMMI


Saturday, May 7, 2011

What is 3.75G?

With the recent launch of 3.75G data services in Sri Lanka, there is a lot of discussion about the different numbers associated with the G's.

Almost from the day on which Marconi made the first telephone call the telecom industry has been evolving and the evolution of this is tracked in generations. The voice service was the major focus during the initial stages and a network with the ability to offer only voice service is deemed to be a 1st Generation (1G) network. Then in the second generation (2G) primary data services were introduced. The 3rd Generation was more a standardized procedure and 3GPP maintain the standards.  The 3G specification has evolved and each revision has been named in order, starting from R99 (first version is denoted by the year) , following once in the sequence starting from R4, R5 and currently you could find revisions up to R10.

In the process of commercialization the 3GPP revisions had been marked as 3.5G, 3.75G, 3.9G. I had tried to tabulate the releases, commercial terms, and the features which would make the comparisons easier I guess. Its not complete, will try to update with more details,

Important Feature additions
Data rates



SMS and Circuit Switched data services
9.6kbps peak data rate

General Packet Radio Services (GPRS)

Circuit and Packet Switched
MMS Services
Location Services


High-Speed Downlink Packet Access
14Mbps peak data rate
High-Speed Uplink Packet Access (HSUPA)
HSPA = HSPDA (from R5) + HSUPA
Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Services (MBMS)
Enables multimedia broadcast services like Mobile TV
14 Mbps peak data rate (HSPDA) +
5.74 Mbps peak data rate (HSUPA)
HSPA Evolution/HSPA+
28 Mbps Download peak data rate
11 Mbps Upload peak data rate
R8, R9, R10
Long Term Evolution (LTE)
System Architecture Evolution (SAE)
Focused on Cell Edge User Through put, Average User Throughput, Coverage.


[1] 3G Evolution HSPA and LTE for Mobile Broadband by Erik Dahlman, Stefan Parkvall, Johan Sköld and Per Beming
[2] http://www.3gpp.org/HSPA
[3] http://www.3gpp.org/LTE