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A compodium of my published aritcles, features, etc. on technology, IT and everything else; sourced from CyberMedia publications, Financial Express, Free Press Journal, Nazara.com, etc……

Archive for May 2009

Good ol' days @ USS

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It is ironical isn’t it, that in our childhoods, the one thing we most hate (discount the thrashing from parents) is going to school, it is a pain, burden, torture somewhat akin to slavery to a despotic teachers who are bent on making another brick in the wall. Imagine, getting up even before the sun lights up the stratosphere, having a bath (skipping it, if none around), getting dressed, burdened by a sack full of text-books, notebooks and a calendar, leaving home as the rather sad tune of Vande Mataram is heard on a neighbours radio set, trudging to the bus stop hoping and praying that the bus doesn’t arrive (tyre puncture, accident, or anything else), dragging inside it when it arrives, smiling at the teachers that get in the bus hoping that they will be a wee-bit more lenient but alas! Morose prayers, deep breathing to classical music and then the real torture starts: Class-teacher taking attendance, followed by stock taking on homework, punishment, remark on the calendar, a rap on the knuckles, kneeling outside the class, etc. etc. The torture only stemmed for some 15 minutes, when the school broke for recess, in which one has to first rush to the canteen when one hears the bell, grab a bite by standing in a long queue, eat and enjoy, sip at water from a few faucets outside the loos on every floor, empty the bladder and rush back to class by the second ring of the bell indicating the culmination of recess and resumption of persecution.

When they are not trying to cram our brains with information and knowledge which is of little value in real world (for instance, I have never had the use of the most famous algebraic equation (a+b)² = a² + b² + 2ab, ever in my life except for those gloomy days in school), they would drag us to the open ground and force us to move our body in rather rectangular fashion at the count of numbers, namely, 1,2,3,4…5,6,7,8 and then for some very inane reason the count will continue backward and we are expected to it match it by doing the reverse of what we were earlier doing. The only saving grace was that last bell at around 1 pm that resulted in a near stampede as everyone wants to rush out of the school with immediacy. Anyone still in doubt over how children feel about school should look at their demeanour when they enter the school, sad, downcast and glum and contrast it with the way they exit the school, boisterous, raucous and happy.

And yet, as the years pass by and grey abounds on our scalp, we recall those ‘tortuous’ days with fond remembrance. School days weren’t bad after all; in fact, they were one of the best times in our lives. The wiles of the world had not yet defiled our minds and the one and only motive we had was to escape studies and have fun, doing precious nothing, playing war with small figurines, deliberately trying to find a puzzle and solve it, hanging out of tree branches, climbing walls only to jump off them, sneaking into gardens and stealing mangoes or black berries, letting air out of tyres with a thin stick and enjoying the sound that it makes. Oh yes! School was fun, only because we were children and at that time anything and everything was fun. 

I too have fond much remembrance of my school, Utpal Shanghvi School or USS. Located in Juhu, right next to Amitabh Bachchan’s bungalow and near Chandan Talkies, USS started in early 80’s. It mainly catered to rich Gujju kids in the vicinity who did not get admission in Jamnabai or Maneckji. Within a few years of coming into being, USS established itself as a premier choice school, in fact, at around the time I left, the donation required for admission was rumoured to have crossed Rs. 1 lakh, which was a big big amount in those days.

Nonetheless, I was lucky to have got admission in USS thanks to my dad’s acquaintance with the Principal Abha Dharampal’s husband. Prior to USS, I was studying at a rather cosy school in Santacruz (W), named as Little Angels High School. Since, my sister who too was with me at Little Angels and had got admission in Mount Marys Convent in Bandra, my parents decided to shift me to a bigger school, so that I don’t suffer from a complex with my sister (and these were the days before psychiatrist and psychologist existed). Thus, in the month of August, I was sitting in princi’s (hereafter I will refer to Ms. Dharampal as princi as I still don’t have the courage to refer to her by name) office and after a short and snappy interview I was in. It was year 1987.

The reason why I am suddenly indulging in nostalgia is because some days back my mother shared with me a box that I used to maintain as a kid, in which to my great excitement I found yearly class pictures from USS. Looking at those pictures, schooldays memories just kept gushing on like swooning Brahmaputra. I tried to assign names to all those in the photos and to my surprise, I remembered quite a few of them. Since, I was an introvert and somewhat scared of girls, I don’t remember quite many of their names. Fortunately and quite fortuitously, I was present during all these classroom snaps. Looking at all those kids smiling, bored, yawning, posing, stiff, relaxed, etc, I could not help but wonder where all they must be. Probably, married and well-settled like me. Somehow, except for a very few friends, I haven’t been in touch with any of them and even with the ones I did, it was very infrequent. Quite a few years back, I remember going to a reunion at USS and had met a few of them, somehow it did not work out and haven’t been in touch with any of them.

Thus, when my dad got the pics scanned, I decided immediately to put them on a blog as an advert for all my classmates from USS class 1987-1992, to get in touch and get together and share and extend each other memories. Here below I am posting the photos on a yearly basis with a few incidents culled from the neurons that are still storing the memories. It’s better to list them down before they fail or fade or both. Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by Shashwat D.C.

May 30, 2009 at 11:31 pm

Posted in Lonely Monkey

Up in the clouds

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Apparently, most inventions and technologies have their roots in jargon. In fact, jargonizing is the favourite pastime of almost all tech companies. So, when they are not conjuring up innovative software or hardware solutions, they are prone to cook up some mumbo-jumbo. Usually, these jargons are in the form of acronyms and over a period of time through repeated usage they tend to take on real shape. Sample some of the jargons that have become real, like NC (network computers), ERM (enterprise resource management), RIM (remote infrastructure management, Grid computing, SOA (service oriented architecture), etc. 

Cloud computing is the latest cloud on the block. The term today encompasses a lot more than it innocently declares, and often means different things to different people.  Accordingly, cloud computing stands for SaaS (software as a service), PaaS (platform as a service) and IaaS (infrastructure as a service). But that isn’t all; it also incorporates Web 2,0 and HyperWeb functionalities.  At the basic, it simply means ‘doing things over the Web’, the cloud tantamounts to Internet in this case.

While there is some sort of clarity on what a ‘cloud’ is and what it should be doing. But, there is little or almost no clarity on how one ‘cloud’ should be reacting to another ‘cloud’ or rather working with other clouds. The reason is fairly obivious, the companies that are working on cloud computing, are basically doing in a very personal and private way. Thus, you have the IBMs, the Googles, the Amazons, and the Salesforce.coms of the world who are building and rolling out services and solutions in a cloud architecture. But these are unique to the company and usually have little or nothing in common with others. Hence, there are myriad clouds floating over cyberspace that don’t recognise each other and neither want to either.  It is as if every company is in love with its cloud and wants their client to only be bound by their own. There is little trust in cloud computing. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shashwat D.C.

May 28, 2009 at 2:59 am

Tutul's pics

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Due to popular demand (by Tutul’s numerous aunties of course), I am hereby posting the images of the lil’ one. Clicked during the days in the hospital, Mr. Idhant Chaturvedi  (Tutul’s official name) seem to be quite disinclined to the camera, it’s unbelievably tough to capture his fleeting smile on camera. And when I keep the camera focused on him, he will maintain a meditative pose with his eyes glued shut, only to open when I have shut the camera out of mere exasperation. As of now, Biwi does not let me ‘pinch awake’ him, so these photos are very rare indeed.

A request: As there is no kaala tikka on him in the photos,  so be careful with your nazaar. So, even if you find him irresistibly cute and extremely handsome (father’s inheritance surely), don’t blurt it out  😛

In his dreams, pouting his lips for a snap or kissing a femme fatale

In his dreams, pouting his lips for a snap or kissing a femme fatale

Finally, eyes open, exploring the world around.

Finally, eyes open, exploring the world around.

There comes the elusive smile.

There comes the elusive smile.

In deep (and constant) contemplation.

In deep (and constant) contemplation.

Written by Shashwat D.C.

May 26, 2009 at 4:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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2020: Just not cricket

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Thankfully, the curtains come down on the IPL tamasha today in South Africa. Over the past month and more, we have been inundated with victories, defeats, controversies, etc., from the second season of IPL, the 2020 cricket tournament. Various teams named after different cities and regions of India dressed up in bright ‘in your eyes colours have a go at each other for some 20 odd overs in company of cheer leaders who strut their stuff every time a boundary is scored or a wicket falls. 2020 cricket has apparently found its feet and is now has some critical mass, so as to be dubbed as a form of sport in its own right. And yet, somewhere I feel it nothing more than an abomination on the name of cricket.

In a country devoid of many heroes, cricket is not merely a sport but a religion of sorts. People have taken to worshipping the cricketers, who are nothing less the avatars of the divine lords. Ironically, the game is a colonial import, brought  and introduced by our English masters. But it was in 1983, when Kapil Dev and his team lifted the Prudential Cup over their heads; we fell in love with the game. For a young and vibrant nation breaking from its past, the game came as an ego-booster; India had arrived so as to say.

Over the years, the game took on different connotations as we progressed, from being a steroid shot to a revenge mechanism (Indo-Pak matches), cricket continued to enthuse and excite us. We were fortunate as well, having a recurring crop of world class players, from Vijay Merchant to Sunil Gavaskar to Kapil Dev to Sachin Tendulkar to the current bunch of youngsters led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Though, we haven’t won another World Cup in one-day cricket, we continue to be a force to reckon with both on and off the field (financial clout).

Yet, even as the game has transformed over the past decades; there has been a steady descent. Thanks to the millions and billions of monies, cricket has ceased to be a ‘gentleman sport’ but merely a money spinner. And 2020 is the worst manifestation of the greed that now enshrouds and has its grip on the game. To be honest, cricket has died an ignomious death in the last few years, and strangely we the worshippers didn’t even realise it. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shashwat D.C.

May 24, 2009 at 6:29 pm

Posted in Feature: General

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Interview: Sundar Raman (CEO, IPL)

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In an interview, IPL’s CEO Sundar Raman spoke about how technology has really impacted the sport of cricket and how technology and IT has helped making IPL the kind of show that it is. This interaction was published in the Dataquest Magazine.

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DLF IPL has revolutionised the way the Cricket is watched and followed in India and the world

Without doubt, IPL is the biggest sports extravaganza in the globe with a turnover running in some Rs. 7000 crores. But not only as a cricketing innovation, IPL has also been embroiled in a host of controversies. At the very center of it all, is the CEO of DLF IPL, Sundar Raman. He was appointed last year to give a professional touch to the game, prior to this Raman had been associated with the WPP group for over a decade. 

Raman’s biggest challenge came when the game was abruptly shifted to South Africa due to election and political issues in India. It was a logistical nightmare, considering the short time frame. But Raman and his team have done their homework and thanks to investment and knowledge of IT solutions, they were able to ensure that all goes according to plan without a hitch. Caught up with the rigmarole of the upcoming event, Raman took some time out for an exclusive interaction with Dataquest, wherein he talks about how the game has been revolutionised by the 20-over innovation and how technology is helping it make a success. Excerpts.  

In IPL2, what will be the additions over the very successful IPL 1?

The inaugural season of the DLF Indian Premier League was a huge learning for the BCCI and our team. For starters it helped prove that India can sustain a franchise based model in Sports and quite profitably. But perhaps more important was the fact that we were able to help create a model that has helped grow the game at the grassroots level and significantly enhance the infrastructure across India through private participation. Drawing in the crowds through a mix of world-class action on the field and entertainment, were critical elements in the success of the IPL. That aside we made some unique additions to the quality of cricket played through innovations like the MCC Spirit of Cricket Charter, the Purple Cap for the Best Bowler and Orange Cap for the Best Batsmen.

In the second season, we have explored similar opportunities and avenues to create excitement for the fans and help improve the quality of on-field action. The five minute ‘strategy break’ is on such strategic innovation in the sundar-ramanlong line of innovations that the league has pioneered from the start. We did a calculation last year and 100 per cent matches went over an hour beyond their schedule time. It was just one delayed game after another and this inspite of the fact that we had enforced extremely high penalties. What we discovered then was that a majority of the time teams were ready to pay the money because the coaches and captains/players were consulting one another as the playing situations evolved on-field to fine tune their strategies. It is because of this discovery that we attempted to innovate with this new ‘strategy break’ at the end of 10 overs.

That aside we have identified areas of improvement around spectator comfort and the in-stadia experience, which we will rigorously implement in the upcoming Season 2009 in South Africa.

Then there will be the non-stop Cricket and Entertainment Carnival that we have planned throughout South Africa for the coming 36 days. No efforts are being spared to ensure that the fans in India and the Rainbow Nation are privy to a sporting spectacle the likes of which have never been experienced before. Season 2009 will be an expansive and grand celebration of cricket with a dash of Bollywood and local South African flavor added into the mix for good measure. More importantly, we are expecting strong support from our Indian fans, arriving in South Africa, to make their presence felt and display their solidarity towards their favorite teams. We believe that the kind of interest the DLF IPL has generated over the months and days—right from the time it was announced till today—will channelize into stadia’s across South Africa packed to capacities during the league. 

What would you term as the enhancements to the game brought about by IPL. A lot of purists are balk at the comparison made between traditional cricket matches to IPL ones? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shashwat D.C.

May 24, 2009 at 3:06 pm

Changing times, changing tech

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“Aunt is no more. Ask Dineshji to come urgently” was the terse message on my cell quite late into the night. My dad’s sister had been unwell for sometime now, and two heart-attacks in quick succession were very fatal. Once the grim news had settled, another task awaited me. I had to make travel arrangements for dad, as he had to travel to Kanpur, the opposite end of India. It was midnight and Mumbai was sleeping tight.

Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t carrying my laptop either, on which I could access the Web and make the requisite arrangements. I was cursing myself at leaving my laptop back at home and wondering what to do next.

Suddenly, out there in the grim environ, a small 20-watt bulb lit over my head, dispelling the confusion that had cloaked my mind. My E61 turned out to be the Excalibur that I was hunting for. Due to the erratic travel schedules, I have subscribed to GPRS service on my cell. I use it to surf, check mails and send my articles. Agree, the data speeds are pathetic and it takes ages even to mail a simple word document. But that is a small price one has to pay for convenience.

In a jiffy, the Internet explorer was open on my cell and I keyed in ‘Makemytrip.com’. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Makemytrip was WAP enabled and had been optimised for the cell screen. The best thing was the layout was a bit intuitive keeping in mind the small screen and few clicks that go with it. Within, five minutes, I had whittled down the search to an early morning flight to Kanpur, punched in the details, made the payment through the credit card and presto, the work was done.

In another five minutes or so, I checked my Gmail on my cell again to find the confirmation mail from Makemytrip with all the requisite details. Within a few hours, we were at the airport, armed with the printed copy of the airticket in our hands. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shashwat D.C.

May 24, 2009 at 2:35 pm

Posted in Lonely Monkey

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A :( yet :) Communalist

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Communalists like me in India are a wee bit dazed at the moment by the way the election results have unfolded in India. While, victory by NDA (led by a communal BJP) seemed improbable; the contrary (victory of UPA) did not seem a possibility either. To that end, I had stuck out my neck last time (http://shashwatdc.com/2009/04/who-will-be-the-18th-pm/) and declared that Congress will lose the hustings and so will BJP, and we will be see the emergence of a prime minister from one of the numerous fronts. May 16th proved me, and so many more like me, to be wrong and I stand corrected now. I had completely underestimated the intelligence of Indian voters (though I still quite doubt its existence) and had gone ahead and predicted the future as perceived from my rather urbanised mind. I had forgotten that India lives in the villages, thus the issues that were relevant to me were not the same with that of say a Shankar in Azamgarh. 

To be honest, I have never really been able to fathom as to what makes the Indian masses tick; is it a mere battle of survival, so that anyone who gives them the maximum freebie wins or is it caste/religious identity? Considering the way Indians politicians pander and beguile the populace year after year, it is hard to expect them to be sane and rational. Either my fellow countrymen, that number well over a billion, are very intelligent can segregate the wheat from the chaff or are complete idiots who can be easily taken for a ride by wily politicos. Looking at the results of the 15th Lok Sabha elections from this prism, I am a bit more inclined towards believing that Indian voters are more sensible than they are thought to be. And, before all the Congressi start jumping with ‘we told you so’. Let me clarify my statement.

The reason why I detest Congress more from an ideological point-of-view than from a logical one. For me the Gandhi-worship is akin to the dynastical worship of the past; recall how the zamindar babu’s son would be another zamindar himself, similarly, a Gandhi scion has no need to prove himself before being vaulted into the stratosphere of Indian politics. All that is required is a mere name that can be earned by birth or by marriage. This herd mentality, rather common trait among Indians who have been accustomed to be ruled for ages, pisses me no end. And that is the primary reason why I want the callous Gandhi party to be decimated. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shashwat D.C.

May 23, 2009 at 5:49 pm