jay's old blog

this blog will be deleted soon - please visit my new blog - https://thesanguinetechtrainer.com

Befikre - a movie at odds with itself

Befikre is a movie that seems to be designed to a particular type of audience. It appears to be very progressive (a simple image search shows the leads in various states of undress) but also harkens back to primitive ideas about love and relationships. In fact, I am inclined to believe that the movie is a subtle mockery of the current generation while appearing to be appease them. All in all, the narrative is unable to make up its mind, and what we are left with is an extremely boring movie that is neither a comedy or a tragedy or a romantic story or even trying to convey something meaningful...or, at least, break some new ground.

While I ended up thoroughly bored by the movie, my companion seemed to enjoy it, and I suppose that is something. Then again, a bigger beef I have with the movie is that this movie is actually directed by the legendary 'Aditya Chopra'. That is perhaps is very shocking to me. For those who came late, this is the same guy who made DDLJ, Mohabbatein and my personal favorite, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. This is the guy who not only knows the story he is telling. He is also is a technical genius when it comes to attention to detail, camera work, character development and so on and so forth.

When I look at Befikre, I am convinced that perhaps this movie was done because AC was getting bored out of his mind. There is also the major factor that SRK is not in this movie. There is none of that character development. None of that technical innovation. The song lyrics do not have a depth attached to it. The movie is not shot in just one location, and the additional characters are card boards.

I hope this is simply one of those 'forgettable' hobby type activities by him, and that, his next movie will show him returning to his usual popular entertainment that are also labors of love.

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Xiaomi - good products - hopeless service

About a year ago, my 1520 died on me (something which is completely my fault) and I had to buy a new phone immediately. I could have gone with either OnePlus One or Mi4. After much discussion with self and others, I bought the Mi4. At the price I bought, the phone itself was awesome. Great processor, RAM and decent camera and display. Then, a year later, it finally died on me. So far, I was very impressed with the phone.

Then, I decided to check in with service center. Then, everything that can go wrong, went wrong.

  1. My issue was that the phone had stopped charging. Everything else (as confirmed by the engineer on call at the service center) was just fine.
  2. A day later, the engineer calls me and informs me that the charging point on the phone has gone defective. He quotes a price, and I agree to it. Then, I also ask him to replace the battery.
  3. A day later, the engineering promptly calls back and says, its all done.
  4. I go to collect it. Pay and collect the device.
  5. It's charging just fine. Then, I insert the SIM. Then, I realize that the SIM is not getting detected by the phone. Surprised, I check the SIM on my second phone, and the SIM is all good.
  6. I bring this to the attention of the engineer (and from here on, it just goes down hill)
  7. The engineer checks the phone and says, the motherboard has gone bad.
  8. I point out to him that before I gave the phone for repair, his colleagues informed me that only the battery point is faulty. Everything else is fine. Now, since the issue has arisen, it must be the service center's fault.
  9. The engineer says, that does not matter. If I want the SIM to work, I need to get the motherboard replaced. Then, he promptly walks back into the 'back room' which is 'employees only'.
  10. I demand to see the manager. The waiting desk person (the engineers are no longer interested to speak with me now) says that the manager is out.
  11. I demand the manager's number. The waiting desk person consults for half an hour, and then eventually gives me a phone number. The number is simply the store number, which I already had, and when dialed goes back to the waiting desk person who gave that number.
  12. I point this out to the waiting desk person. She says, that is all she can do.
  13. I return home. I call customer care and explain what happened. The care execute gives a complaint number, promising to escalate. A week later (and now months later) nothing has happened.
  14. I go to the official twitter handle, and send in a complaint. No response so far.
  15. I go to their official forums, and post for 2 weeks straight. The moderators don't address my issue. Instead, my thread is deleted because, by posting my issue continuously for 2 weeks, they say, I am spamming their forums.
  16. I get a phone call from a separate department - the post service feedback department - and I tell them what happened. They also promise to escalate. Nothing happens.

Eventually, I give up and decided to buy a phone from Oppo instead of the Mi5 or any other Mi device for that matter. Right now, I am decidedly confused with Mi, as a company. A lot of people say that they have had good experience with the service center. Perhaps my case was unique. One thing I get for sure. The mi folks have a system in place - a service center, forums, twitter handle, evaluation team, customer care team and so on. However, the people in the system are not doing their job and simply sucking at things. This episode is strangely reminiscent of another experience i had recently with Airtel. It's equally appalling. Both Xiaomi and Airtel can learn a lot from Vodafone.

At this point, as a customer, to other current and future buyers (including myself), I can only advise this much. Perhaps, we should not buy expensive stuff from Mi. For instance, I happily bought the mi band from them. I also bought the mi power bank. I may even buy their low range and mid range phones. However, I will never buy their high end products, and nor recommend others to buy it.

Xiaomi may be grabbing the headlines, do cool presentations and all that. At the end of the day though, it is just another cost cutting, low end company. Cheap products = cheap service. With that perspective, I am no longer upset about what happened with my Mi4 experience. Now, when I go online to buy their products, I set my expectations low for I am paying a low price.

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Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are here with offline option

[logo of amazon and netflix, obtained from their official logo disbersing media center links on their website]

A while ago, I blogged that Netflix should enable offline mode. I made a case as to why that is not just neccessary, but rather mandatory if netflix wishes to survive. And now, as of this writing not only is netflix offering offline video, amazon prime video is finally here. It just so happens that Prime Video always had offline mode.

For me, as a consumer, this is a god send. This and other scenarios such as the entry of Reliance Jio are a sign of things. It is not a coincidence that netflix and amazon video make an entry into the second most populous country in the world, and Jio launches in India. Internet has always been one of those things that was needed but not available. Despite the valiant efforts of Reliance, Jio will still fall well short of meeting the broadband needs of Indian consumers. However, at least, there is availability in a place where there none to start with. This explains why Netfilx and Amazon are making an entry into the Indian market.

This will also signify an intense shift in the way we consume media. The smartphone - cheap as it is - is perhaps the only gateway for a lot of folks to everything from accessing information to porn to entertainment. Now that (limited) broadband access is also in place, Netflix and Prime Video need to do what they can to get people to use it. I see this impacting a lot of folks in a variety of ways.

Obviously, Vodafone and Airtel will have to reduce their rates. They would rather make less money and keep their customers than the other way around. So, data rates and broadband rates should come down drastically, and then stay steady.

Compression technology should also improve incredibly. India will always be a special case when it comes to broadband speeds. We still believe 256 to 512 Kbps qualifies as 'broadband'. I am already seeing Prime Video offering to deliver an hour of content for less than 100 MB. That is just awesome. Of course, compression technology is usually open source. So, what we will probably see is innovation in the ability to compress content on the fly, and then deliver it.

Another place where I see this impacting is general entertainment. Especially, movie box office. The television has already taken a huge bite out of movie business (which explains why a box of popcorn costs more than the movie ticket itself). With folks being able to get entertainment on their mobile screens, there is an even less reason to step out of the home and sit in a cramped movie hall and watch half a dozen trailers, ads and what not, before the actual movie starts.

Then, there are the originals. As it is already happening with many bollywood productions, I fully expect some of the more advanced movie studios like YashRaj and Red Chillies to tie up with these streaming providers for exclusive content. I wont be surprised if SRK or Salman Khan produce and may be even act in special content. I expect them to have a huge pay day as well.

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Digitial Infrastructure (or the lack of it) and demonetization and cashlessness

[Image from wikimedia by Cawi2001]
Perhaps, one of the most significant economic decisions in my country was taken with the demonetization (and its sequel actions) in November, last month. Fortunately, I have already gone cashless for almost everything in my own life years ago. So...this action did not affect my day to day life. However, not everybody has gone cashless like me, and hence this is a sudden change for a lot of people. Since money is something that is part of our lifestyle, this change will force folks to live differently.

Is the demonetization good or bad, I cannot say. I don't know. My field of expertise is not money. However, every system depends on other systems. The direct effect of demonetization is going cashless and that rests solely on the digital infrastructure. It just so happens that I have already written about this issue before, and it looks like it is time to revisit the topic.

Here are some incidents to build the context here.

  • Last week, I was unable to get fuel at the petrol station. I have multiple bank cards (credit as well as debit) and multiple digital wallets (paytm, ola money, jio money, pockets by ICICI). Both the cards and the digital wallets have money in them. I offered the petrol vendor that I have 7 payments option to give him. However, he said, he cannot work with any of those because none of these systems are working for him.
  • I recently spoke with Vodafone (whom I totally love) and asked them, is there any chance that they will reduce their data charges. I told them that each and everyday (and especially after the demonetization) more data is being consumed. The current charges 250 rupees per GB (which is roughly 4 dollars) is incredibly expensive. While Vodafone offered me 50 % discount (but I had to buy an offer pack to get the discount in the first place) because of what Reliance Jio is doing (about whom I will talk next), Funnily enough, other service providers such as Airtel, Idea and so on, also have almost identical prices.
  • Reliance Jio finally launched this year, and I obtained one of their SIM cards. As of now, they are currently providing free data services. It looks like, post the free offer, their rates will be a lot lower (less than a dollar per GB). However, because they are free (and people love free stuff), their network is clogged pretty much all the time. Most of the time, I will be lucky if I can get more than 512 Kbps on the Jio network. However, I dont think it is Jio fault. It's a free lunch, so everybody eating, whether they are hungry or not.

The above bullet points sort of indicate, the simply bad digital infrastructure we have in place. Payment transactions not happening. Incredibly high prices for what is now an essential service. This is not just about the mobile service providers though. Perhaps, the rates are high because there is simply too large a population to serve and the operators dont want too many people using the internet in the first place. Perhaps, one reason too many people are clogging the Jio network is because the landline/home internet services simply dont exist either.

I live in two homes, switching between them constantly. Neither of my homes are in what can be called remote locations. We are both located right in the city limits, with hundreds of homes and buildings. Despite this, at both of homes, there is no reliable home broadband access. The service providers simply dont exist at one of my homes, and at the other, I have to pay insane rates (800 to 900 rupees or roughly 15 dollars) just to get 75 GB of data. When you consider that a standard game on Steam ranges from 20 to 60 GB, you see how things look bad. In fact, there are times when I bought a game for 5 dollars, but ended up paying an additional 15 dollars to download it!!! Oh, the irony!

At the end of the day, I remain, as ever, hopeful. I hope that perhaps now that we are inevitably moving to a cashless economy, basic internet access will be declared an essential services like roads, water. I am hoping that there will be a huge push to improving the broadband infrastructure. Perhaps in a few months, I will be paying 15 dollars and get 500 GB of data at my home. I hope that I can download any number of Steam games and movies on Netflix, without having to do data math in my head.

Hope springs eternal, man.

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farmers wait syndrome - the lull between work

A few months back, I floated this concept or syndrome or something similar called Consciously Careless. Recently, I ran into another such concept which I would like to call the 'farmers wait syndrome'.

The context is something like this. Farmers (at least the farmers I saw during my growing up years), as is the case with any profession, are influenced by their work requirements. A typical farmer will toil hard during the sowing season. This is the time when she/he will go ahead and prepare the soil and plant the seeds. Once the seeds are sown, there is (mostly) not much to do, except to wait for the plants to grow. Once the plants have grown, they will then be harvested and time to count the money.

I will, for the sake of convenience, call the activities before the 'waiting for plants to grow' part, 'seeding phase', and the activities after the 'waiting for the plants to grow' part, the 'harvesting phase'. Now, let us suppose for argument sake, the 'seeding phase', 'waiting for the plants to grow' and 'harvesting phase' together total 10 units of time. The 'seeding phase' might take 1 unit. The 'harvesting phase' might take 1 unit. Both of these phases will involve hectic work. There is so much work to do, and everybody involved is literally working from dawn to dusk.

However, the back breaking work only lasts 2 units. The remaining 2 units, the farmer has not much to do. To me, the question, is after the heavy duty stuff of those two phases, what does the farmer do in the 8 units of free time? Does the relatively lameness of the 8 unit time period affecting her or his ability to work? Does it have an effect on the mind? If this effect is one that can be described as negative, how does one negate the effects? It is these questions and the situation I like to call the 'farmers syndrome'.

Sometimes, and a lot of times, it does impact me. That nature of my work - as a trainer and developer - is such that, work comes in bursts and those bursts bring in large amount of work. Kind of like the seeding phase or harvesting phase. Then, there is a lull. There are stuff that people do, to avoid this lull and do it of course. However, what about those folks who are unable to fill this lull. What kind of productivity hit are we talking here? Then, there are other factors in play here. There are times when other scenarios could be misconstrued as the 'farmers wait syndrome'. In which case, applying the solutions to a non-farmers wait syndrome will not lead to any results.

Someday, perhaps, I might expand upon this idea. Till then, these are my thoughts on this topic. 

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Revisiting windows phone - Windows Mobile 10

A few months ago, I blogged about how I am giving up on windows mobile or windows phone or whatever Microsoft decides to call its next mobile OS. Then, I decided to buy a pretty expensive keyboard and mouse, and that changed things. I wanted to check the extent to which the wedge keyboard has been programmed to work with its parent mobile operating system.

In all the following scenarios, the wedge has been paired with the device under question. For example, on a laptop (running windows 10), I could press the 'windows start' key and the menu pops up. If i press the same key with the android phone, nothing happens and same applies to the iphone. Now, when I paired with the 640 XL running windows 10 mobile, the home screen appeared. Then, it went further. I could call cortana, and voice the commands. I was also able to use the Tab key, the short cuts in edge, and of course bring up the menu in Word. What I see that, the wedge, being a Microsoft keyboard is wonderfully integrated into the mobile OS of Windows 10. It is truly a universal OS, this windows 10.

Suddenly, I realized something. The potential of the mobile OS of Windows. Of course, the app gap is still there, but if I am willing to get things done via web apps and Microsoft apps, I can get almost everything done on my windows phone. Add in the continuum effect available in current generation windows mobile OS phones, there is a good chance that I can get everything done with just a windows phone and nothing else.

Last night, I was able to write several emails, write an entire chapter of my upcoming novel, browse the internet and of course, chat, all on the windows device, just like I would on a PC. So, perhaps, I was premature in calling windows mobile dead. I cannot imagine the regular folks ditching their smartphone for windows mobile. I myself wont do that. However, I can see that the windows could be a light weight productivity machine, especially for those who are already armed with wireless keyboard and mouse, and dont wish to pull out their laptop for some quick work stuff, and are tired of getting work done on the tiny mobile screen via touch.

I don't know what the future holds for windows mobile. Heck, I am sure, even the big bosses at Microsoft are not sure what to do with it. What I do know is, I am not completely averse to buying a windows phone device. I think, it can complement existing devices that a individual carries. I have half a mind to pull out my 1520 out of the shadows, get it repaired and use it again.

Gender based differential pricing - Why I do it? - Feminism or Women Empowerment or plain old pervesion?

If someone is reading my blog regularly, they know that I work as a developer, trainer and a consultant. As with a lot of folks who do what I do, I have a simple business model. I charge hourly, and I accept payment in advance. Like Deadshot says in Suicide Squad movie, "No money. No Honey".

On a related note, for many years now, I have been learning - by accident and by design - that the world is not split into black and white. It's not just two colors. It's an entire spectrum of light, which starts at complete black, and then going up to complete black. Which means, except for the the very first and the very last digit of the color spectrum, life is simply some variation of grey.

One of those grey areas of life has to do with roughly 50 % of the world population, which is the female gender. This video by onion, summarizes a lot of things about women in a very short duration. In fact, the onion taught me more about running a business than my 18 months at business school. Of course, that is not a knock against my b-school (which is totally awesome by the way) but simply how good the writers at the onion are.

Anyway, coming back to the topic of women, yeah. It all started when I graduated from Primary School. Here is what what happened to the gender ratio.

  • Primary School ( 35 girls - 29 boys)
  • High School ( 16 girls - 50 boys)
  • PU College ( 5 girls - 30 boys)
  • Engineering ( 30 girls - 90 boys)
  • MBA ( 15 girls - 105 boys)
  • Office ( 10 girls - 120 boys)

Even when I was a kid, I realized that the women simply seemed to drop out of the map. In fact, the transition from primary school to high school was shocking to me. Not to brag or anything, During my studying days and onward to my work days, I almost always ended up finding myself in some of the best school, collleges, MBA school and workplaces in the country. Which means, I found myself in good, solid environments where things were pretty liberal and perhaps, a very open environment.

So yeah, what happened to all the women? Of course, as a trainer for the last four years, I have an insight and perhaps a portion of the answer to this question. This blog is not the place to get into what I have discovered in terms of an answer.

However, what I did was, I decided to do what a lot of people are already doing. For instance, I get into a bus, I see that a lot of seats are reserved for women. I think this is a good thing because, for a variety of reasons, men are simply faster! If, due to some reservation, if more women can enjoy a comfortable journey, then it is perhaps a good thing. If it is a bad thing, then I am going to turn a blind side to it because I am personally appalled about the missing women at high school, engineering college, b-school and work place.

So, I decided to implement differential pricing in my own developer, trainer and consultation activities. When a client approaches me, I offer them my rates. Then, If they are female, I offer them a 40 % discount. Again, the key word here is 'offer', which means its a choice. If the female client wishes to take the offer, then she can take it. However, if she feels insulted or perhaps feels bad, then she can pay what her male peers are paying. No female client has said no to the offer. They all take the 40 % discount, and they all seem to be very pleased with it.

On the other side of the gender tennis court, the male clients don't actually complain that I am giving their female counterparts a huge discount. In fact, they say that I am doing a cool thing, and congratulate me for giving the discount.

Another interesting thing is that, some male clients think that I am doing this for perverted reasons. As a logical man (well, most of the time), I can see why they think that. However, the female clients, the ones who are happy and pleased that I am giving them a generous discount, never say that I am doing it for perverted reasons. On the contrary, they think I am doing a cool thing, my bit to help women in general and in the world of technology in particular, and it is evident from the many glowing reviews they leave me on my professional profile.

Developer tips - project diary for better efficiency

Perhaps the obvious causality of the apparently 'modern' world we live in, is the death of paper usage. Environmental concerns aside, there is something 'intellectual' about writing on paper. Ideas flow when you hold a pen and paper. Every time I architect a new project, nothing gives me clarity and viability of said project more than writing everything down and drawing everything down on paper.

I am saying all this because of the sad state of diaries. Yeah, nobody uses a diary these days because they think its lame. Sure, keeping  a diary of everyday events might sound lame but nothing helps you keep track of events like a diary does. I cannot request my fellow developers to use a diary in their personal life but I sure can implore them to use them in their work life. Software development is not a one way street. That is because (with all due respect to my past, current and future clients and business partners) the requirements change constantly. I can recall more than a dozen incidents where half an hour before the project is to be deployed, the client comes and says, 'hey man, there are some changes in the main page of the app or website or whatever'. Of course, I ask them to pay me double my usual hourly rate for last minute work, but the point is, requirements change constantly!

That is just the tip of iceberg. Each phase (or sprint, if that is the word you prefer) has a number of activities to do. Then, within that phase, the assigned tasks (which are in turn based on client requirements) can change any time. Then, the phases themselves change, like the order. Phases get deleted and get added. Sorted in extremely weird orders and it just keeps happening this way. Also, tasks take quite a while to finish. Tasks that you start today, may end after 2 days or 5. Within a task, there will be list of tasks to do (especially during the second of project development where you are doing both regular development AND bug fixing AND requirement changes by client which actually means deleting a lot of old stuff and redoing already done work). All in all, it is a cluster-flower or cluster-farm or cluster-fox (I hope you know the right word to replace here :P ).

There are many ways to do it. One way, I do it is to maintain a diary. As a consultant, I end up working on multiple projects and multiple assignments (and this whole task management diary is not limited to software development. Just as with development, even during training, a lot of things can change from the client and we should flexible enough to adapt to them. Of course, one may wonder, why bother? Well, two things. First, the client is paying me a lot of money, and I charge hourly. The more changes they make, the more I get paid. Second, hello, customer is always right. You 'discuss' with a client'. You never 'argue' with her or him) and so much of stuff is going on. Obviously, no woman or man is alone. That means, whether you are married, have two kids, two sets of parents (you know, regular parents and in-law parents) or single and ready to mingle, your personal life will always be complicated. Of course, I like to keep things simple (at least I try and mostly stay successful ) but a lot of developers I have seen simply cannot stop over-complicating their mundane life's (sucks for them, right?) and that means, with all this work stuff, personal stuff also gets mixed up.

I am so psychologist and cannot advise about people screwing up their own life's (and I have seen people do that every damn day) but I sure can suggest the things that make the developer part easy. A simply diary for everything. For every task, for every interaction and for every client change. Yes, this consumes time. Sometimes, I spend more than an hour after a client meeting, just filling up my diary. On the outset, this is a cost, a time cost. However, this saves me hours, days and even weeks of non-sense discussions later because the diary avoids disagreements. I learned very early in my life as a trainer that people argue endlessly because they are debating on bogus data. However, when you have a diary, the facts are in front of you. Your clients (and co-workers) have no reason to argue because the facts are in front of you, mentioned right there in the diary and backed up with email communication, call recordings and meeting recordings. When you place facts (or throw them in their face if the occasion calls for it) on the table, the endless arguments become quick 5 minute discussions and guess what? They also become productive.

Further, the diary allows you to keep track of the work you are doing. It allows you to give accurate estimates about work completion timings. Another reason why clients become upset (and starting shouting you, and then horrible name calling ensues) is when deadlines are not met. In this scenario, I usually blame myself and fellow developers instead of the clients. Clients are not developers and that is why they are hiring us to their work. That means, they depend on us to build the project timeline. That means, the onus is on us to give a proper time table for work. This timetable can become efficient, when there is a reasoning behind the calculation of total project work time. The diary with the notes, and completion status and all that totally helps.

The diary (at least for me, and I have been jotting down things for years now) acts like a personal time machine. Going back through the pages of your work (and personal) diary, allows you to look back and see what you did good. What you did bad. It allows you to quantity stuff that has happened, and by way of iteration and thoughtful thinking, make you a  better person. Further, if the occasion calls for it and with certain discretion applied to the diary pages, the diary becomes a fantastic to impress potential clients.

So, yeah. There you go. Go out there and get a diary. Although I started off by talking about paper diaries, digital diaries (with their multi device syncing and endless pages and search features and overall media friendliness) are better. My personal and professional choice is OneNote (the awesome service for Microsoft because it is awesome, free and ad-free and available everywhere) but a good second choice is Evernote (the free version is pretty limited, but the paid version is solid, I am guessing). Of course, you can also use standard text and word documents stored in the cloud service of your choice is also a good option. Lastly, if you are so inclined, you can also buy an actual paper diary, which is also a good option.

Trainer diaries - the smell of defeat - episode 1 of X

[Note 1 of 2: The story, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this narrative are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased), places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred.]

This year, I celebrate the 4th year of my entering the world of training. Yup! 4 long years. The life of a trainer is one filled with adulation and adoration. It is also filled with disappointments and soul crushing incidents.

A standard degree (engineering or otherwise) does not run for more than 4 years. That means, a 1st year student I met 4 years ago, has now finished his or her studies and is now currently a potential tax payer. It also means, i am officially an old person.  Anyway, thanks to social media, it is almost impossible not to find out which student is doing what and where. Today, I narrate one of those stories, and no it does not end well.

The incident happened about 2 years ago. I was going through my usual day. I had just returned home from a lengthy training assignment. I was going through my travel bag, running through the list of things that need to be done (take care of garbage, call up house cleaning services, recharge batteries, replace items consumed in the travel and of course laundry) on a post it. Then, one of my phones rang and there was a frantic voice on the other end. I did not recognize the number (I only save the most essential numbers on my phone. Even as I write this, I may have like 15 contacts out of which 10 are utility numbers like bank and stuff) nor the voice.

It was a student of mine from an earlier workshop or training assignment I conducted way back. The student said that I must meet him, and that it is of utmost importance that I do it right away. I had no intention of riding on my bike (back then Uber was yet to become available in my city) after being on the road for almost a week. Still, I always had a soft spot for students (although, recent events have reduced the soft spot's diameter) and despite my protesting body, I took my trusty bike and drove down to the nearby restaurant that acted as my out of home office.

I recognized the student instantly, but there was something odd about him. He seemed to have not slept for days and all that sparkle from his eyes had left him. No sooner did I sit down, he started crying. I tried to console him, but there was no way I could stop him from crying. Eventually, he calmed down even as I ordered something for him to eat, and a beverage for him to drink. I, as usual, got a cup of tea. Then, he explained to me his situation.

He told me that, now that his college is over, (the exams had wrapped up a couple of weeks ago) he suddenly feels the weight of the world over his shoulders. He talks to me about his family, the many debts their parents took on to educate him. He tells me about his mom being sick. He tells about his father, who is pressurizing him to go out and earn money and take some responsibility. He tells me that he is ashamed to walk around in his own home because he is now an 'unemployed youth' and not the bright star of his family, which he was only a month ago.

I listen and listen, as he narrates the entire event for almost an hour. When he is finally done, I ask him if he thought about his career before today. He says 'no' and then he starts crying again. He admits that he should have planned his career out, and tells me that perhaps, he should have listened to me. He reminds me about the many times I implored him (and his class mates) to take up some kind of a skill training, get out there and do something productive during their student days. He finally just gives up and apologizes to me.

Through all this, I am at a loss of words. I have gone through 3 cups of tea. Then, as I order a fourth cup of tea (he has not touched the gobi manchuri or the fanta I ordered for him) he jumps and stands next to me. Then, he begs me. I was not expecting this. He begs me to help him get a job, so that he can start earning. He continues to beg for a few minutes. To me, this part was the most shocking event of the evening. In front of me is a fully grown man, and he is begging me, a complete stranger, someone he has not met in years. Heck, I still don't his name. Eventually he comes down, and I finally explain to him that I am in the domain of software and since he does not have any skills I can use, I cannot get him a job. At most, I tell him, I can get him a job as a delivery person in pizza or amazon or flipkart or perhaps in a call center.

Then, he stays quiet for a moment. Then, he stands up and tells me that he is an engineer and cannot work as a delivery guy. I wanted to tell him that he should have thought of this 2 years ago, but I did not. For a lot of people, facing the harsh truth is impossible. This young, broken and unemployed man, was one of these people. Besides, me telling the truth would not lift his spirits. Man, he may even punch me (his mental state was pretty unstable) for pointing out the obvious.

As I watched him drive away in an old two wheeler, my 4th tea had arrived. As i drank it (potentially harming my stomach, because 4 cup of tea is never a good thing), I think about him, his father and mostly his mother. I think about how his parents will pay the debt which they used to invest on this defeated man. I wonder if there was something I could have done for him. I think through the entire cup of tea, with no answer. Even as I write this today, I think about that day and realize that I still don't an answer. All I have is a smell of defeat, the same smell I had on that shocking morning. As a trainer, I have failed to help him get out of his current predicament.

[Note 2 of 2: Trainer diaries are narratives of a fictitious trainer who shares about his fictitious life and fictitious incidents. The narrative above is pure fiction. Brand names are used for reference purposes only. Each brand belongs to its owner. If there is something about this blog post that offended anyone, please contact me and I will take it down if proper reasons are given]

Obsolescence and taxis and uber and developers and programmers and disruption culture

There is nothing more heartbreaking and devastating for an individual than to find out that there are no longer required in the grand scheme of things. This takes many forms, in personal life, in relationships, in business and of course career. Obviously, I cannot write about the personal stuff, but from a business perspective and from a career perspective, I sure can.

For starters, check out this interesting article " Court says yes to regulating cabbies, no to governing Uber drivers " on one of my favorite technology sites, arstechnica.

In the article, there are a couple of quotes. Both the quotes are extremely insightful, but the second one, I reproduce here in its entirety.

A license to operate a coffee shop doesn’t authorize the licensee to enjoin a tea shop from opening. When property consists of a license to operate in a market in a particular way, it does not carry with it a right to be free from competition in that market. A patent confers an exclusive right to make and sell the patented product, but no right to prevent a competitor from inventing a noninfringing substitute product that erodes the patentee’s profits. Indeed when new technologies, or new business methods, appear, a common result is the decline or even disappearance of the old. Were the old deemed to have a constitutional right to preclude the entry of the new into the markets of the old, economic progress might grind to a halt. Instead of taxis we might have horse and buggies; instead of the telephone, the telegraph; instead of computers, slide rules. Obsolescence would equal entitlement.

In a nutshell, the quoted paragraph implies that the passage of time (and the consequence i.e. innovation) stops for nobody. As programmers and developers (which are two different type of people by the way) who work in the computer science industry will have to deal with the challenge of obsolescence rather frequently. A very simple example would be, the amount of RAM our computers have. When I was a student, 128 GB RAM was a big deal. Today, my own work laptop has 8 GB RAM and I frequently complain that it is not enough. Do you see how much has changed?

I talk about obsolescence constantly, and have been talking about it as long as I can remember. My students are probably bored to death with it. Now, I am doing the same thing here. This time though, I am backing my claims with what some other person is saying. If someone is reading this blog post, especially my students, I beg you. Study the scenery in front of you. feel the direction in which the technology wind is blowing. Start researching the consequences of this upcoming change. Discuss with others like you. Then, finalize a plan. A plan that tells you how you can react and adopt when the hypothetical plan becomes a very reality. When the plan becomes a reality, be ready to change and adopt. Do not let age old customs and traditions stop you from adapting to changing realities.

Change is not easy. It hurts. It affects everybody around you, and sometimes it even breaks existing professional and personal relationships. Life is about survival. Change, I am afraid, is part of it. If you are unable to change, then all will be lost.