Monday, December 24, 2007

What would you have Mobile Phone or Electricity?

With the political stage heating in the US for the next presidential elections, I thought this might be one of the crazy ideas to the potential candidates.
Politicians in India text (read SMS on mobile phones) to plead for votes on the election day. While some remote locales of the nation still don't have electricity -- but that doesn't mean the politicians cannot reach them on their newly distributed cell phone freebes come election day and request their vote using the power of SMS. Reportedly, about 30 to 40 individuals living in a Dalit village some 50 miles from Sagar in Madhya Pradesh are trudging around 12 miles per day just to get their mobile phones juiced back up for the next 24 hours .

I am not sure if they are getting their value worth since I don't assume they expect informational messages other than the latest cricket scores ( India got thrashed by Australia in the first test match) and latest bollywood movie releases. Everyone wants their attention. And I am sure Nokia is happy since they get to add  yet another set of client to their customer base.(Nokia has 90+% market share). Well  I guess we are not going to see any sign of electricity being piped out to this remote region in the foreseeable future. But as politicans will like to tell you what counts is for the public to first get them those  necessary votes  and then only they can bring in the changes. After all what can be more important than to gather support and mass for a leader  running short of votes
This may appear rather amusing but it is an interesting aspect to the amazing growth of cellphones in India. The facts of this are courtesy of site (Engadget).

Sunday, December 02, 2007

High Road to happiness in life

This is the best way to go about leading your way through daily ups and downs. This is truly the high road approach to life. Thank you Mother Teresa.

  • People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered ... forgive them anyway
  • If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives... be kind anyway.
  • If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies... succeed anyway.
  • If you are honest and sincere people may cheat you... be honest and sincere anyway.
  • What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight... build anyway.
  • If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous... be happy anyway.
  • The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow... do good anyway.
  • Give the world the best you have, and it will never be enough... give the world the best you've got anyway.
  • You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God...
  • It was never between you and them anyway.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

S2 Personal Challenge : Wish My Dad Recovery

It is a testing time for me as I come to grips with a personal crisis. My Dad had a massive heart attack this Sunday (India Monday morning), was rushed to the hospital and went under a heart operation. He is on life support as I write this blog waiting to board my flight from Frankfurt to Delhi. I pray and hope that God is merciful and gives my family the courage to come through this testing time. I am confident about it and I am sure he will recover for he has been an inspiration to me in terms of his sheer will power and defiance of any form of defeat. He is a fighter and he is going to fight this out too. But the events in the last couple of days were a humbling experience from two perspectives. One is on the personal front where sitting 8000 miles away, I could not provide any comfort and care to my mom and dad in the difficult time. Your success as an individual in terms of professional achievements and personal assets is naught when it could not help your very parents who are fundamentally responsible for your success  Second is a more philosophical in context. The very fact that we as humans have created this illusion that we are in control of our environment and surroundings. Scientists and doctors make us feel that we know more about our human body workings than ever before. It is true in one respect since we can control many life threatening events from the past but we are far from conquering the body and its working. I have a suspicion that we will never conquer the uncertainty of life and we just need to learn to accept it, adapt to it.  As I close this blog write-up, I just hope that my Dad is recovering fast and furious since I expect no less from him since he inspires me every second with his energy in life at his age and his zealousness to his work (he teaches kids physics these days).


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Halo Effect: Delusions and Critical Thinking

After a very long time I completed a book end to end. The book title was ‘The Halo Effect’. Many of you may already observed that on my IM personal message few days ago. I was intrigued by the book only because it started with assertion which closely lined with my personal thinking. The very thought all books whether self help books (rich dad, poor dad), business mantras (Good to Great) make success sound a simple prescription of certain core principles. It is a good story to tell but as we have all experienced, life is not that simple and success not that easy. You can follow and apply to heart the 7 habits of effective people and still may not be effective. As an organization you can follow all the tenets of Great companies and still be struggling to sustain your business. The reason lies in our attempt to simplify things in a framework model. We as human beings cannot handle continued chaos around us and need to develop a plausible hypothesis for every event. However we forgot our unique context (environment, people social interactions and culture since every organization is unique in its setup) and apply these so called seduced theories (like applying ‘Best Practices) as instant cures to the problems. I always believed that books should only be read to simulate one’s thinking. One should use them to invigorate new ideas, invoke new thoughts, assess and evaluate situations critically. I guess the very fact that we need to respect that life is uncertain, business is influenced by variables and forces beyond an organization and /or an indivuals control, recognition that decision making is all about trade-offs and nothing in life and business is absolute is highly unnerving. Today outcomes drive the assessment of the execution and our decisions. Decision making and execution is excellent and the management team phenomenal if you meet the desired metrics (Wall Street quarterly earnings at one end to meeting your deliverable on a simple software project at the other end). On the contrary the decision is flawed and management team are a bunch of losers if the output is not in line with the expectations. This mindset is the root cause of those fleeting Wall Street darling companies and is at the heart of the flip flop stories covered by the various business journals and magazines. Outcomes driving the assessment of the situation is by its very nature flawed (surprising to many). This applies to personal frame of reference as well. We like to create a semblance of order within the chaos  that surrounds us. We create simple decision models that help us evaluate and assess a given situation or a problem. However our individual decision making framework models is influenced negatively by flawed facts collection (skewed by our predispositions and/or existing haloed data)and simple but inaccurate cause and effect theories. As the author of the book outlined, we need to respect the uncertainty and account for inherent risk of failure in every decision whether it is personal or otherwise. The failure does not necessary imply that we need to change our decision making model but makes us recognize that luck,chance and probability of bad events exists and is fundamental to our sane and continued existence in the world.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Customer Anthropology: Next Steps: S2 is Intrigued

Welcome to the world of social sensors. I had briefly mentioned the concept of customer anthropology in one of my previous blogs. Just a quick reminder: Customer Anthropology is the act of observing customers in their natural habitat is definitely a powerful framework. But the challenge lies in that observations by the most diligent social analyst is filled with objectivity and relies on human recall with all its inherent weaknesses. It is not quantitative. Now the research being done at the MIT Media Lab Human Dynamics group is working with series of smart sensors (yet another smart kit) that will help track the unconscious and instinctual side of human behavior. The intend to provide more data on subtle personal cues and social interactions never available before. Yes there are all privacy lawyers waiting in the wings to kill this thing down but it definitely looks like a way to gather more empirical data which may finally give managers, marketers critical input intothe hidden web of social interactions that determine the effectiveness of organizations, product launches.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Releasing Big Software Systems: Just do It

This blog entry is a result of a WSJ article dated 09/25/2007. The article was covering the release of Oracle Payroll ERP in the Arizona State University where the information technology department decided it will be more effective to stick to rigid deadlines, releasing the software on schedule even if all the kinks hadn't been worked out- and try to fix the problems on fly. The software was released in an unconventional way but painful approach. The approach was Admit from the start that there will be mistakes and hten work through with glitches in production with the actual users.

Every large system implementation is mired with schedule, cost and scope issues. It has become a question of whether it will happen or not but when it will happen. The software industry and the project management thought gurus continue to be baffled by the continuous lack of maturity of the software system implementations. Project management outline of processes, tasks, measures are all modes of reducing the risk but do not eliminate the inevitable. Every time a project encounters a miscue, process mania creates more controls and communication models that suffocate the individual output and productivity. But there is no one on the project team (customer, vendor, and other stakeholders) to challenge the process overkill. The progress and the output are measured on project charts and schedules. There is often a quote ‘We will finish this project on Microsoft Project’. The ability to see the big picture is increasingly lost and every issue is deemed detrimental and becomes a stalemate. Subsequently the project team morale goes south since things are not going as planned and finger pointing and CYA mindset sets in. It is tragic and highly debilitating to all the parties involved that no one can see beyond the petty issues. I guess the root cause of this malaise is the expectation setting at the start of any project. The projects are sold as the next best thing after the slice of bread. It is not that the system and solution are not going to improve the overall business process efficiency but the bar is too high. The yardstick is contradictory to the ground reality. The systems take time to mature and they are not right in the first go round. (The fact is that most of the software system/solutions take 3-4 versions before they deliver the actual desired benefits and their design goals. The earlier versions of windows were dismal and it took almost the 4 version to get it to an acceptable and desired threshold of acceptance among the user community. Today it is the age of perpetual beta software’s (Google Gmail continues to be a beta product after 4 years in existence). But somehow that reality check is missing in the business community and the message from the software community gets distorted by the time it reaches the business community. The funny part of the story is that key drivers of the project understand this challenge but they choose to ignore reality. It is either under the aegis of ‘not my problem’ or ‘we are bound contractual boundaries’ that people shy away from facing the brutal reality. As we ignore reality we are actually caught in a downward spiral. The occasional messiahs are shot down by reference to historical facts. The players become so risk averse to the point of negative returns.

Is there a way out of this rut? I guess it takes some individual champions who have the political and leadership clout to ignore the noise. Yes it will ruffle people since you ignoring the cynics, it takes political and mental fortitude to call the shots and make progress. For software implementation you can choose the University of Arizona route of implementation (albeit some will see that as political suicide) or never come out of the vicious cycle of over planning, feature creep, scope change, schedule slippages and risk multiplication effect. I am in the doer category of things whose motto is ‘ Just do it’. I will like to leave you with two quotes from two respected entities in the business world

“We have a ‘strategic plan.’ It’s called doing things.”—Herb Kelleher

“We made mistakes, of course. Most of them were omissions we didn’t think of when we initially wrote the software. We fixed them by doing it over and over, again and again. We do the same today. While our competitors are still sucking their thumbs trying to make the design perfect, we’re already on prototype version #5. By the time our rivals are ready with wires and screws, we are on version #10. It gets back to planning versus acting: We act from day one; others plan how to plan—for months.”—Bloomberg by Bloomberg

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

S2 and India Trip: Part 1

The trip to Chennai started with me making some assumptions about my flight time from DC. Not to anybody’s surprise, I assumed my flight was scheduled at 5:50 pm EST when in fact was 4:45 pm EST. What followed was the typical S2 2 hours mayhem.. dumpster style packing, race to the airport and plead the way through security etc. As someone said your past experience not only makes you war-ready (clock ready in this case) but creates that semblance of confidence which is actually false since it rests on a very fine line. Anyway, I reached ahead of time with plenty to spare. In fact my travel partner was surprised. Hmm.. let me introduce him here, referred to as SP going forward. He was going to experience his ex motherland (I did not know motherland could change, he is now a proud US citizen) after 35 years. I wonder how old is he??

Anyway the flight experience was marked by this clumsy user interface tool for the seats and the audio/video equipment. In fact it clearly demonstrates what is lacking with today system designers of user interface. They make it so unwieldy and complicated and think they have worked out a cool device. I wish they dispel the assumption that people know computers and browsing for them is like a child’s play. Maybe 25 years from now but the money people (remember the baby boomers) like it simple and easy. For it was not easy, it gave you the opportunity to strike a conversation with the air hostess. Well she may think you are a looser but it is entirely on the individual creativity to use this opportunity and make the best of the situation J

The stay at the Frankfurt was not that much fun even though we used our United Card to be in a Lufthansa lounge. I sucked up good when I choose to spend euros on t-mobile hotspot. Yet another bad decision. The flight to India become interesting since all I could see was Chennai Software engineers in different shapes and forms (mind you I am one of the ugly specimens though not from South India) and the scene at the Frankfurt gate was pretty much reminiscent of a typical India international airport. So SP was anticipating his time in India and was getting mentally prepared for some cultural shock. Wonder why he chose the land of Rajnikanth (people who don’t know him its Ok, he is the Tom cruise of the South Indian cinema though some proclaim him to be more popular than Princess Diana), idlis and dosas ( fanatic Tamilians may claim dosas are legacy from adjacent rival state Karnataka). All I could say to SP was…What a choice!!!.

The immigration line at Chennai airport was long and stay there was protracted as I say my US citizen partner breeze past me (when would India respect their own citizens more…Hold on don’t do it now for I hope to become US citizen in the near future.

SP experienced his first rude awakening of the Indianism (new term coined by me) when no one stopped for him as he crossed a road to the parking lot. He was treated with couple of horns and Tamil stares. SP, the brave soul chose to sit up front and experience the chaotic driving in India on our rental chauffeur driven car ( Mind you ‘In chaos lies Creativity’). His first reaction was ‘ Looks like Egypt’. Poor guy had only experienced Egypt as a non developed country in his lifetime. Think about it, we as Indians project such an image of disorder that we are compared to Egypt even though we are miles ahead in all economic progress metrics. I wonder why J

The Hotel reception was interesting least to say. We were staying at ‘The Park’. The hotel was a decent attempt to copy Modern architecture based hotels. We as Indians do a decent job on copying. So the room had the right modern architectural elements in term of the bed, the study, the plasma but at the same time had pillows that were stained. We had modern bathroom elements but an interesting implementation of multi-headed shower (see the picture). Actually the hotel used to be an ex movie studio (Gemini). Wow a theme hotel in India. But all in all a decent hotel.

We experienced the Chennai traffic next morning when we headed to our office. We observed the creativity of Indians in action in how they leverage the width of a road. On a given three lane road, there were 6-7 vehicles. We support a heterogeneous mode of travel( cars, trucks, buses, motor bikes, rickshaw, scooter) apart from occasional animal rides (bullock cart). It appeared as a gridlock to any layman but everything was moving with unspoken rules and processes. Do we have a solution for the US gridlocks? I did forget to mention that horns (an unused tool in US automobile circle) were effectively deployed with great success. The Indian roads reflect one of the nature’s basic principles of food chain hierarchy. The bigger vehicle gets it right to way and the more agile (bikes, scooters) maneuvers their way. Law of Natural Survival in practice on Indian roads. The margin of error is very low and occasionally when a bike scratches the car on the side, the stares and occasional bad mouthing is met with a plastic ‘Sorry’.

Our CNSI office was nice and looked all crowded. In fact there was a specialist for every job. You had a specialist for ‘making and serving tea’, a specialist for ‘photo copying’, a specialist for closing and opening doors. Interesting when we tried to photo copy ourselves it was met with astonishment, concern and fear of job. No matter which way you look, the ancillary support organization was impressive. I think it leaves the engineers to just focus on the work in hand. I hope all this ancillary man force means better productivity and higher throughput from the India office. If it was not enough, we experienced a special check processing service where we did not leave our seat and our antiquated check (check with no MICR code and double the size of our current day check) was deposited and processed within 1 hour. Talk about customer experience. Well customer delight in this case.

As days progressed we chose to come to the office all by ourselves. We tried to reach the office at 9:00 AM in the morning. Well no jokes on IST time Ok but the fun was that we were dropped by our car in front of the elevator called lift in India (this is called chauffeur service). Well to our surprise, the lift did not operate before 9:30 AM. The reason was that the lift operator (specialist job) did not show up before 9:30 AM. (Remember JS experience in SD where going up and down the lift was no rocket science, Well in India it is some science for it needed a specialist whose job was to take the lift up and down almost 1000 times in a day). Well yet another curious observation that SP made was the tendency of Indians to form groups of people (2-5) and stand and observe. He was intrigued by it. It is definitely not a gay thing but Indians are very social and this chit chat keeps us sane in the midst of all the chaos and humdrum. One last incident was the little shopping experience. Yes we haggled for prices and even though we felt good about reducing the price by 20% it left us with a hollow feeling of how much more we have been cheated. And of course our beloved head of India operations picked up something for the most important person on the US office. Guess who!!

Anyway enough said about our interesting encounters there but on a final note before I close the blog entry, the Indian team in Chennai was very hospitable, pleasant, courteous and hungry for work. I wish them success!!!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Road to Customer Anthropology: S2 sounds weird

Whenever I reach a moment of aha!, I always try to reconstruct and see how it came about. My today's aha moment was getting across the concept of Customer Anthropology. Customer Anthropology: the act of observing customers in their natural habitat is definitely a powerful framework. I came across this unintentionally and credit to Dave Pollard's intriguing outline of the concept. The concept can be simplified as yet another approach to perform business process analysis but the emphasis is more closely observing the habitat, recognizing the human experience pain points and identify undiscovered interactions. More of the same but the devil in the detail and approaching with the mindset of an anthropologist. Yes it appears to being recognized now more and more in the industry thought it appeared in Fast Company article almost a decade ago. Anyway it is funny since I fumble on this concept without looking out for it on the internet. On the contrary , I am listening to the author of this new book 'The World Without You'. So I go to Amazon to know more about the book. This book was outlining how the man made infrastructure is going to self destruct and lead to interesting consequences. An excerpt from New Yorker review of the book
"Teasing out the consequences of a simple thought experiment—what would happen if the human species were suddenly extinguished—Weisman has written a sort of pop-science ghost story, in which the whole earth is the haunted house. Among the highlights: with pumps not working, the New York City subways would fill with water within days, while weeds and then trees would retake the buckled streets and wild predators would ravage the domesticated dogs. Texas’s unattended petrochemical complexes might ignite, scattering hydrogen cyanide to the winds—a "mini chemical nuclear winter."
So I read the customer reviews and encounter a series of books compilation on 'Save the World' and encounter this phenomenonally talented personality Dave Pollard. One of his previous works is on Customer Anthropology. interesting way of discovering new ideas. I am not sure search engines and computers will emulate this process of discovery in human brains. What do you think?

Sunday, September 02, 2007

9/11 and (WWI) Web War One

On the eve of 9/11, its always a time to do some retrospect. I guess there are many out there which will take position on either side of the table and make claims for the overall safety of US , global peace and world order. Well I wish not to suck in that debate but want to get your attention to the potential 21st century warfare and our first true experience of Web War. Many are calling it the WWI (Web War One) since it is for the first time a focussed attack was able to bring the entire government to a stand still. Yes, we have read this nightmare in science fiction thrillers but we have now experienced in real.The attack was against the most wired country in Europe-Estonia. According to defense minister Jaak Aaviksoo "All major commercial banks, telcos, media outlets, and name servers — the phone books of the Internet — felt the impact, and this affected the majority of the Estonian population. This was the first time that a botnet threatened the national security of an entire nation" Read this link for more details .
I guess one message for us to undertake is that in the race to connect and wire entire cities (San Francisco project) we are creating significant risks for our country and its citizen. Yes the security consultants will have a field day and reiterate the need for security and sell more products and services. But fundamentally every technology advance that human kind has experienced has resulted in in unknown loose ends. Yes there are sick minds who will exploit this and the worst is everyone's imagination. But as a part of the society, I am willing to take the risk for I want to enjoy the better half of technology collaboration, global connected society since benefits far outweigh the potential risks. What do you think?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

S2 Encounters at SD

Phew I finally reached Pierre SD around midnight. I also had the honor of stopping by the rising star of SD 'Watertown'. I had no time to rehearse the demo so I quickly went to bed. And if it was not enough, I was told that only if I had replied to an email, I would have had my tickets and not suffer through the ordeal. I was just left wondering only if someone knew that a hotel reservation in Pierre without an airline reservation does not get you too far. Yes only if I had checked in a day earlier, yes only if I had done my own reservations and yes only if I had planned not to go to SD all of this will not have happened!!!
Anyway, the demo morning came in quite early and I managed my way to the demo hall. I was not only low on energy but anxious and nervous. Dr VG and AG had worked through the previous evening to address last minute kinks in the demo. At the same time the demo team had been bit by the flu bug with JG totally looking done and couple of other team followed soon. Anyway, the demo on Day 1 went fine and we planned to go out for bite before we went back to the hotel to get some rest. As is the case most time with CNSI contingent in these endeavors we had our first reportable encounter. One brave soul on our team forgot that there is a swimming pool at the hotel and decided to swim across the Missouri river. And yes he managed to battle the undercurrents and stay alive and show up on the dinner table. In order to celebrate his survival he drank a liquid cocaine shot (details of this cannot be published on the blog). To conclude day 1 I will have to share that that the whole town was dead by 8:00 since couple of the team members were roaming on SD streets trying to figure out a dinner place at 8:30 PM and the only thing that was open was a 'Blind Casino'.

The second day demo started with Allan waking up to high fever and wisely deciding to take a couple of hour’s additional rest before his presentation in the afternoon. The second day demos also went well and we were wrapping our session with Q&A with the state team. The fact that our team was very honest, forthcoming and open to the state with the questions was a pleasant and a big positive of the demo. Though few one liners like ‘I stood up Maine’, ‘in the past you must have been running a dating service’ stood out. But the real fun was in store for us in the evening. We had our entire team on the streets which had a big title board ‘The Cow Town’. Yes we were definitely new meat on the streets. As we made our way to a drinks place, we were stared at by everyone. It appeared that everyone at the bar knew everyone and finding this new bunch of people was definitely strange for them. After having some drinks we went to the Italian restaurant for food where JG ordered a white wine which was red in color. Are white wines not supposed to be white JG!!! Well you don’t question the sales man. After a lovely dinner we moved over to yet another bar (YAB) where quickly one of our team members became the talk of the entire woman crowd in the bar. They were all for him or as it is said they were all over him. We then moved over to YAB which had a dance floor and there as usual I was chanting ‘Punjabi’ in a town which had experienced their first brown skin 48 hours ago. But not for this dance floor we would not have discovered the hidden talents of our former deputy chief architect, ex-implementation manager. The person definitely made it a point to be on the dance floor trying to swing his way with every girl on the floor. It did not matter whether the girl had a man with him; our friend was swinging his way. Before I close this blog entry, I just got an update that I missed the highlight of the nite at the bar. State of SD runs a public shuttle service to drop all the drunk people from the bars to their houses. The service runs after midnight till three in the morning. But the highlight was that our ex marine colleague acted as a Good Samaritan when he helped broke up a cat fight. Two girls went at each other locks and barrel before our friend tried to intervene. Blood flowed, bones cracked all for our deputy chief architect ....PM. Anyway, it was three eventful days and hopefully we are given the opportunity by the state to not only act as a good Samaritan but also as a good IT partner.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

S2 AirTravel Saga: Yet another lost Cause

Here I am sitting at Barnes and Noble in the Mall of America typing this blog. Well I am neither on a vacation trip nor on a fact finding mission in Minneapolis. I am sitting here because my travel plans were totally bungled. In fact there was no plan since when I landed this morning at Dulles airport, I was welcomed by the NW assistant saying that I don't have a reservation. I forked out$1000.00 for a $ 400.00 trip. I guess I can relate with the advertisement where I am sitting to the person next to me who is traveling at half the fare I paid. Anyway I am destined to go to Pierre South Dakota. I guess the reservations can only take me to Minneapolis since I cannot get the connecting flight. The connecting flight has a weight limit and can only accommodate 26 people instead of the 32 seats. I guess either the engineers did not design the plane right ( not surprised by it) or they failed to measure the exponential growth in the waistline of the American population ( I guess M Moore has something to say on this). Either way an empty seat went to Pierre and not me. I am supposed to spend 8 hours in Minneapolis. There were my good collegaues who were volunteering to give away their seats but the damn computers came in between. They did not have menu option called 'Volunteer Swap'. I guess the next generation airline reservation softwares will have this option. I guess by then we would have virtual travel and don't need to spend time praying for the flights and the bags. On the note of that i just discovered that my bags reached ahead of me. They are already there in SD. I guess the airlines can claim ahead of time arrival even though it is for the bags and not the actual passenger. There is always something positive in an episode. My takeaway was 'Choose which one you want to reach on time : Bag and Yourself'. I chose the former on this trip... More on the trip later...

Saturday, August 18, 2007

S2 Encounters at the MMIS Conference : Lighter Side of Things

This years conference at San Diego was much anticipated since after a long time it was happening in a city period. :)
The conference started with United bungling my bags. For one of the rare occasions, I was ahead of time for the flight but for no good reason the bag felt the need of travel via Denver and not directly to San Diego. Yes with my unique situation as a Sikh, I was stranded to my hotel room for the first afternoon before I could reveal my presence to the rest of the world. I know I know , dressing up for a Sikh man requires more resources and more time than a woman sometimes.
Anyway, the night was spend at CNSI hospitality suite. Our jokes increased in laughter (not proportional to the the quality of the joke) with every drink. Of course we experienced the Marriott rule which was a 2 strike rule ( I guess Mexico baseball rules are different). And is with such settings, we were forced to leave the room not by the Marriott staff but by the room owner in a polite way.

The much anticipated Arabian Nights evening host by CNSI started on a slow note with the dancers doing some slow body flexing moves. The attendees were busy munching food and enjoying the eCAMS cocktail with mixed reviews. The surprise started with the snakes on the floor..Ooops around the bellies of the dancers. It was a jaw dropping moment for some. A run away moment for others. As the evening progressed, the Punjabi dance made its way and the CNSI team made its own stage for a workout on the dance floor.
The evening was not over since the team trickled over to the roof top bar( Altitude at Marriott). I guess it is said that being cute sometimes misfires. One of our colleagues JS discovered when he asked a group of girls how to take the lift to the Roof Top. Well the short answer was 'Its not Rocket Science; press the button and it takes you there'. The evening had more in store for us. We were introduced to a stranger girl from Italy by JS and once she settled in with us, JS did not mutter a word. I guess we spoiled the fun. Well after exhausting our options at the Roof Top we were forced to choose our rickshaw back by BR. Well it was fun till we reached our destination where we paid $20 per person which was 20 times more than we paid going the other way. At if that was not enough they were asking for tip. Go Figure. The saving grace was that we had in our accompany the financial power of BoJK. We all were in as much shock but we said it is good as long as our friend BR enjoyed the ride. You will believe that this would be end of Day 1 but not to be. We went to the hospitality suite where we were subject to a therapy session and brotherly love was exchanged in a most intriguing way.

The highlight of the next day was the official announcement of CNSI Booth Babe. The award went to 'Gino'. Yeah the girls were disappointed since they did not anticipate this competition. He not only graced our booth with his effective presence but was shoulder to shoulder with his look alike brother in the neighboring booth of 4TG. I think it runs in the blood. Then there was tennis. JM came with the brilliant idea and I borrowed running shoes from Gino to stretch my muscles. Yes it was weary and its impact was felt in days to come but the highlight was the JG move on the racket course. Came up with the right warm up, stretches himself... has all the moves of a star on the field and swing his serve in style but alas...the ball never made it to the net. The evening was concluded with a dinner at one of the expensive restaurants. We were split into two groups and ate some expensive cold soup and equally dry fillet mignon. I guess it is rightly said that in an expensive restaurant a large group is not a good idea.

The Day 3 was when our proposal team emerged from the confines of the South Tower room. We had forgotten that they were at Conference. This was definitely a proposal lockdown 2500 miles away. The team finally decided it was time to return back and chose to carry their bags on Old town streets. As they left we were in the hands of JG. The ex SD native JG took us to the beach front. It was not surprising that it took 1 hour and 10 minutes to reach the beach which was just 10 minutes away. And to make the ride musical we had the background music by JM snoring every now and then at the back of the car. I never knew that nostalgia leads to memory loss. Yes we are still searching for the illusive McDonalds on the beach front. May be next time JG. ... But the final honors went to JG when in his nostalgic mood, he took us to .... spot. Since this blog is rated PG I will let this remain as ....

Sunday, August 12, 2007

S2 Escapades at San Diego

You can read my latest blogs over the last few days and the next coming days at the following site . I am using the MMIS Conference blog site as a more focussed blogging site on MMIS Conference and related industry. Don't miss some exciting blog write ups and some live coverage from the MMIS conference at San Diego. Next blog update on this site after August 20th.

Monday, August 06, 2007

S2 Travels: Coming to you Live from 2007 MMIS Conference at San Diego

I will attempt to enthuse the blogging phenomenon in the MMIS space this year. I will be attending the 2007 MMIS Conference from August 13-August 17th at San Diego and I intend to use the blogging tool to share information updates from the MMIS conference. Will it be useful for the reader community. Well I don't know about that. I will try my best to make it a good read, invoke some thought in the minds of the reader, intrigue the reader with my perspectives. It has been now a regular annual event for me and my company CNSI to attend. We are all excited at CNSI since we continue to make a difference in the industry with our solution offerings and this year we are planning to give a preview of our new user interface.

Personally, I continue to make my 2 cents of contribution by doing sessions that challenge the status quo. It is always nice to see that the ideas raised last year by us are being accepted across the vendor community. Last year, CNSI led the way with our pragmatic roadmap to RHIO integration. The 'Inside-Out approach' trend is now being expanded in two separate vendor tracks. It goes to show that we can make a difference.

This year, I am co-presenting with Pitney Bowes on Monday August 13 at 3:30 PM. Even though we are running our session in parallel with MITA and a RHIO track, I hope we have audience that can listen to our message. We hope to make people pause and reevaluate their approach to Communications. As we usher and embrace the new social interaction models, we need to shed our archaic model of communication in the Medicaid industry.
Also, I will like to welcome other contributors to this blog, since this poor soul cannot be there all the time at all the events. As we are in era of information overflow, the MMIS organizers are doing their contribution by conducting 30 odd sessions with diverse topics in three days. Good Lord! I just wished I was back in the good old days :)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Escapades of S2: Daddy Day Care Saga Continues...

I thought the worst was behind me. We all like to think that way but alas I was wrong. I was like a fatigued runner hoping this is the end of the race . But not to be I am here for yet another day. I think one of the most burning issues that we need for the upcoming elections is to create a free, interoperable, open society for Nannies. Yes she ditched us for 4 days in the week. And yes as in round robin fashion, I am back to take care of my darling angel. Yes if I have to go by my experience of Tuesday, I have more than my hands full. I know it will sound so cliche, but it takes energy, perseverance and patience to deal with an infant. Diaper changing was an adventure with turnaround time of 8 minutes ( compared to 1 minute) l that made my daughter staring at me and saying 'Daddy, whats the matter with you? I can't believe your boss has not fired you for such inefficiency. My daughter in the interest of hunger and starvation swallowed food which I failed to warm it after pulling it out from the refrigerator( Dah..well it was not on my wife's cheat sheet). And yes the fact that I gave her apple juice without mixing it with water was less of my problem since she was out of he Daddy Day care by the time her some stomach disturbances were apparent. Come on, I thought kids should get pure adulterated food. Here, i am supposed to mix it water. Hello!. Anyway, as the time flew, I got more comfortable with the fact that I am out of my league here. Yeah as someone said tomorrow is yet another day at Daddy Day Care :)

Monday, July 30, 2007

Escapades of S2: Daddy Day Care

S2 is anxious, concerned and petrified. 9 months and 10 days after my little angel came in our lives, Daddy has to take care of her for one entire day. Let me correct for 8 hours and yet it seems a lifetime. Yeah, I have to change diapers (bound to use twice the number of wipes), feed the little powerhouse and of-course keep her distracted from feeling the difference. The little one will quickly discover her clumsy father who can't handle little chores. She is going to stare at me like 'Dah Dad, you can't even handle this'. Well I can only try but I feel like a rookie being asked to play his first game in front of national TV. Yeah I am going to get all kinds of cheat sheets from my wife in forms of strict calendar (dare I miss on this, at least one project where schedule extensions are not permitted) , ready to use feedings. But tell me when has anything gone according to plan. All I pray is that my daughter wakes on the good side and lady luck is on my side.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Escapades of S2:: Receiving FedEx package from your next cube colleague

This is a new series of blog entries where I experience an encounter in real life. The encounter has been artistically altered. I play the protagonist named S2. I am Sassy Singh, the lively and playful technical geek. Any resemblance to any person living or dead is coincidental and not intentional.
In this encounter, I deal with a task in hand which is to distribute company shirts to employees at different office facilities.

Process Champion Executive: We need to ensure that we have timely delivery and have a signed receipt by the employee receiving it. We have decided that we will ship using Fedex.
S2:Does it not matter if the person who is going to receive the shirt is actually sitting in our offices which is across the street?
Process Champion Executive But see you don't get the point.We need to follow the process. You always try to take short cuts. When will you grow and mature? We need to be a process organization and according to the process we got to ship Fedex.
S2:: I guess! But there is one of the employees from a remote office who is here today and he wants to know if he can just pick up the shirt?
Process Champion Executive: See you did not get the point, when the process is set, it is set. These shall be FEDEX'ed and the shirts will be there on that person's desk the first thing next morning. Guaranteed... How can he not like this? Guaranteed next morning. We put so much into getting a deal with FEDEX to get a discount and you don't want to leverage it and want to short circuit the process
S2: I guess I am not a process person. Where can I get to know all of this and get trained on this process thinking and indoctrination
Process Champion Executive: We are working on coming up with a University program to get this cultural change. You shall be notified by priority FedEx mail

S2: Hmmm... Waiting for the anxious arrival of the FedEx on my desk...

Monday, July 16, 2007

Unofficial Organization Network

In this week's fortune magazine there is an interesting article that piqued my interest beyond reading it. I could relate to it since it appeared so relevant to my everyday life. It talks about informal networks in organizations. It talks about how to get things done by avoiding and finiding ways around the official organizational tree. So I started musing what about my organization. I guess every employee has a perception of the informal food chain. Some of them have it bang on target and find their way around the structure and get things done. So in order to make it more interesting, I will like the readers to share their perception of the informal social network prevalent at CNSI that makes things work. As long as social networks do not weaken the morale of the employees and are only enablers of efficiency, they are good. Anyway do spend a minute to write your social/informal organization network to make this more interesting.

iPhone Round Up

I now own the iPhone for more than a pay period. So am I one of those 85% of satisified iPhone buyers as reportd by USA today.I am definitely happy with some of the user experiences implemented by iPhone. Yes it has some quirks and like everyone in the early adopter community there is this hope that these will be fixed in the future versions. But alas, I am a fickle minded gadget adopter and may not be that patient with Apple :). Yes I will be challenged to throw the device aways since it is after all an iPOD if nothing more. It can not be justified as value for money. Well no apple product has been so far in my mind. All apple products are cool and hip and iPhone is no exception. iPhone tries to do some common things in a more cool way and you pay money for that. Well it is not for masses after all!! Steve Jobs thought there are only 3 million people who are worthy of buying his device. It appears 1 million + have found it and you could be one of the remaining. Is it in you?

Monday, July 02, 2007

iPhone Experience : First couple of Days

I am on the iPhone hype wave. Got mine on Saturday. There was not much of a line and the Apple Store experience was good. The apple store person processed my request using his handled and emailed me the receipt. Paperless smooth customer experience, sweet. Apple iPhone activation was a pleasure ride. Everything done in iTunes over the Internet. Within 5 minutes I was using the phone and within 30 minutes i had my phone # transferred and I was receiving calls. The phone User experience is different and like nothing before. It may not be to the liking of a few but a good version 1 of convergence. The convergence of mobile browsing, music, podcast and phone is sweet. Yes I have one gripe. The email thing is not working for me:(. I was hoping to get the Exchange email but no success yet. I am hoping to get a software patch but since it is not even a week old in the industry I will have to have wait longer. But Apple has done a decent job of making people rethink the UI experience on mobile phone. People can argue about the price point but purely on UI convergence experience a definite A++

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

To Buy or Not to Buy: iPhone countdown is on

The amount of hype and media coverage for iPhone is mind boggling. Today one of its first production unit review features as headlines on the New York Times web site.  Not to count the numerous print articles ranging from Wall Street Journal to Fortune and Forbes. At this point, even if iPhone does not revolutionize the cellphone industry, it has definitely done in product launches. I am not sure whether any of the Apple think tank had imagined this amount of publicity and hype. I guess their secretive approach till the product launch has only added fuel to the fire. It used to be a strategy to set lower customer expectations and subsequently ensure customer delight by delivering more than promised. I guess Apple has thrown that model away and revolutionized the industry since HTC followed quickly taunting their multi-touch interface shell as the new breakthrough idea.

I can predict here that iPhone is not going to be iPOD. Industry reviewers like David Progue does his balancing act of identifying the shortcomings of iPhone. Also Apple shares over the last 3-6 months will be a gambling ground for hedge mangers to evaluate their mettle.

I was all set to be one of the first buyers of iPhone but I am now in the 'not so sure' camp. I am more leaning towards Nokia E90.

Monday, April 23, 2007

End of American Idol: Sanjay is out

Finally the speculation is over! Sanjay has been voted out of the American Idol competition. So whats next
a) No need to watch the American Idol any more since the element of gossip, conspiracy and rumor are over
b) Simon can breath a sigh of relief since his job is safe. I am sure there were not many other employers for the caustic Simon.
c)Britney Spears attempts to team up with Sanjay to woo the American teens who continue to be overtaken by weird style over substance. I guess that is teenage phenom all about!!!
d) Howard Stern will need to figure out another way to bring down the American Idol. For now, he needs to focus to woo audience for his talk show
e) George Bush puts his confused smile when having dinner with Sanjay for he could not figure out the wide smile on every comment that he made
For me, I don't watch American Idol but I enjoyed blogging on it.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Political Correctness and freedom of speech

The only reason I write a blog entry on this story is my continuous surprise at the increasing clout of political correctness over freedom of speech. I assume there are multitudes of opinions over this debate but I am just amazed if one cannot express one's opinion freely on a talk show then it marks the death of freedom of speech. Yes, I am referring to the latest Dan Immus incident! After that incident the last frontier of free expression is blogging.

But I am predicting the censorship, code of conduct, enforcement rules for the blogsphere space in the near future. It is a matter of time when due to the blogsphere influence, reach and access, there will be so these called controlling forces establishing a modus operandi. The world of blogging will change forever. It will be strangled, initially by moral code of conduct and later by a representative elected body. Then there will be this significant mass of blogging community and organizations that will align with these protocols and regulations and choke themselves to the death of their purpose. Yes, there will be still a handful that will continue to be unconstrained. These exceptions will be ridiculed as outcasts in certain quarters of the society. But there will be a handful of loyal followers and believers in these exception blogger/blog sites . Yet these sites will die a natural death. Well Don Immus paid a penalty and his case of termination and demise from CBS reflects poorly on our social maturity. Till someone strikes on my blog site, I vouch to express my mind and not worry about political correctness.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Great Move

We are almost done with a move to a new office space. Yes it was a painful but fruitful outcome of a long wait for the new office space. Yes, I speak for the 100 odd people who were in the abandoned world of 15810 office spaces. They were abandoned since even the conference room was called Annex I and II as if the office space was adjunct to the main office space. The move was delayed like any software projects by almost 3 months. Like software projects the reasons for the delay were beyond the control of the project manager. All past, current and future project managers say Amen.

Every office move brings his gossip and reaction. For the carefree geek it is nice to have a new surrounding for a day. Since all they do is gaze at the laptop screen. For the aspiring, there is always that desire to get an office or the corner cube. I guess having an office is quintessential status of position, power. I am sure it epitomizes a lot to the person aspiring it but believe it or not, it is a loss proposition in its entirety. First, your peers are envious of your preferential treatment by the boss. Secondly, boss is not happy about you continuously pestering him for the room based on your new role. Finally and most importantly, you loose the sense of belongingness to the nucleus of action, your own very source of strength.

But having blabbered about the office space demands, the time for assignments is there. A special committee is constituted to strategize about assignments. The layouts are laid out. The pencils are down. The big architectural diagrams are spread on the tables. The wise men are thinking. Every committee member is with his agenda, favorites. Long hours are spent on how to seat individuals. All kinds of complex algorithms are evaluated since every factor counted (proximity to team members, seniority, position, personality, prior space etc).Finally the plan is unveiled. Office space is ready and the D-Day arrives. The move begins. Oops, one of the most important rooms (UPS equipment) is getting heated. No air conditioning vent in that aisle. Poor engineering design, but the workaround of blowing a fan and keeping the door open to give background music is as creative as it gets.

Oops, we forgot this individual from the list but why? This person is not a direct report to the committee members. No worries. We can accommodate no problems. Yikes, now what? We just discovered we are short by 10 spaces. How can that be? I guess we are growing faster than we plan which is good sign.

To be contd….

Friday, April 06, 2007

Employee Recognition Nite: Last Chapter

Its time to close the blog series of the Employee Recognition Nite. I think Nagu's persistence and committment to go from desk to desk to secure popularity votes was reflective in the results. The results were decisively in his favor 82% to 18%. Apart from the Chennai clan clout, the messsage is loud and clear: persistence, perseverance and pushing can accomplish everything. But overall it was fun and it was good to see more people read my musings. I hope everyone continues to bookmark my blog and read them every now and then and share their comments and provide feedback. I do update the blog every 7 days if not sooner. I am trying hard to get more frequent and will work towards it. Final Note: Most Recognized Employee Of the Year is Elumalai, Nagarajan :)

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

CNSI Employee Recognition Nite Contd..

I have had most written and verbal feedback on this blog. hence the second write-up. The question of the day is that did my blog have more hits because of this blog entry or because of the energy radiant character of Nagu who is one of the central themes of the blog. Nagu for people who may not know is now not only running for the next mascot of CNSI ( if not CNSI atleast CNSI Chennai) but also trying his best to be the photo face of the year. I am waiting to see the pictures from the Employee Recognition Nite. The insider news is that Nagu is featuring in every 3rd picture. Ofcourse the CNSI censor board (guess who) is blocking some pictures ( Oh Lord what happened to free information exchange).Yep they were taken after the official hours of the event was over and people were in their natural no hold bars mode. But I guess they are in the best interest of the team as a whole even though it expressed the team spirit and cohesiveness among the players. Anyway I am starting the first poll! Please do express on the popularity question of the week!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

CNSI Employee Recognition Night

Today my company honored and celebrated the Employee Recognition Night after a hiatus of 1 year. Its no longer called the Winter Gala and more appropriately called Employee Recognition Night but I could not comprehend the difference between them. Nonethless, a great endeavor on part of the CNSI owners and shows their committment to the employees. So here are the Key Highlights

a) Cal Ripken Jr. was the Chief Guest. For people who did not know that, all they needed to do was stroll to the hotel bar where they served decent scotch and you could meet the Hall of Famer.

b) Vik Mehta was hilarious and his ususal self and made some funny and yes sometimes offensive remarks. Always a great show but I am disappointed as he reads his jokes and one liners! And Vik some of your jokes are repetitive for people like me who have attended this event for some years now

c) Nagu, (for people who don't know him he is Oracle DBA for the Washington project) was in every frame clicked by the photographer that night. We could use him as background on our CNSI logo

d) Our President, was precise and thankful but tad bit slow but it was much concise than the previous ones

e) Vivek Gore was standing up and cheering on on every employee that was recognized. Either he did not have a seat on his table or was just naturally excited about the recognition. I could not since I was getting ready to dance!

f) Yes we danced to all tunes Indian, Punjabi, English, Arabic and Finally TAMIL :)

g) Aggh..the nice thing there were four lucky winners who get the BMW. Yes they are mortgaged for 3 years know what i mean...:)

But overall a good event ,people had a nice time and it was a good break and a workout for me personally... Your comments..

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Gmail Server is down!!!

This is not the first time that Google mail has been down. Earlier it used to be the case that is a beta version of the mail but now after being almost 2 years into full operations these errors are a pointer to that Google is not immune to software glitches. We blame Microsoft but we cherish Apple and then apple becomes a self serving entity.The fact is that as the companies grow they are unable to maintain the same verve, enthusiasm and drive that made them reach their glory days. Look at the error message..."Oops the system is unable to perform your operation" If we are to implement such messages in our customer applications it is only considered lame but since it is Google people would recognize the coolness and the openeness of the developer to express their ideas. Apart from the growing clout of Google two things are crystal clear a) they cannot maintain the same velocity of change and innovation and b) they are still not a software services company since such downtime issues warrant more maturity in delivery and handling. What do you think ?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Persistence is Wow!! We can all use some of it!

John Calvin Coolidge, Jr the 30th President of US had to say this on Persistence

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

I think this is so remarkably true in my personal and professional life experiences. Just keep on plugging in and we shall work through all the issues surrounding us. After all it is all about Karma!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

American Idol: Sanjay Malakar!!!!

I have never watched American Idol till yesterday. The reason for me to watch was because of Sanjay Malakar, an American born Indian from Federal Way, Washington. Yes, I watched it more out of curiosity of seeing him. Yes, I have to admit, I am just a music listener and by no stretch a discerning music buff. I have yet to vote for him and maybe I never participate in this process since there is already a perception that he is getting votes because of his nationality. Well if open nationwide voting are the rules of the game then everyone should accept it. I guess he might be getting a lot of support from the Indian community but I guess that is pretty much the case for every participant. No doubt, it is different case with the Indian population ( well it helps you in some cases). Again, I am not music guy to say whether he is deserving or not but he stands out of the crowd. As I saw the results today, I could see the clear isolation of Sanjay. Every participant who made it to the next round atleast shared a hug with the fellow participants but poor Sanjay was left to enjoy and savor his relief and joy into the next round with a lonely smile all by himself. Yes, by no stretch of imagination he is going to be theAmerican Idol but he is definitely a star. Why do I say so? The nation watched a young american girl (Ashley) cried crazy. Cried out of joy and disbelief after meeting with her star in Sanjay Malakar. Good Luck Sanjay!!!!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Bob Woolmer: Cricketing Pressure Leads to Death

I am deeply saddened by the untimely death of Pakistan Cricket Coach Bob Woolmer. Today's sport have such high expectations and pressure that it is beyond words. Pakistan unexpected departure from the World Cup after getting defeated at the hands of rookies Ireland caused a lot of eyebrows and shouts for firing of the captain, coach and lot of other players on the team. But that pressure resulting in death just leaves me dumbfounded. My sincere condolences to the family of the coach!! I just wish people relaxed a bit and stop these money spinners ( bookies, advertisement companies, sponsors) creating bigger than life sized personalities and teams that the pressure is so onerous that we see such an unforntunate incident. The World Cup spirits are marred! Sportsmanship, the ethos of sports is getting lost in the ultra competitvness of the nations and players. My disappointment with the India team being outplayed by Bangladesh is just blown away! The Gentleman's game is on its lowest ebb!!!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Cricket World Cup Begins: India vs. Bangladesh

Well the world Cup Cricket has begun few days back and had a share of interesting results like the tie between Ireland and Zimbave but for the 1 billion Indians, the world cup starts today as India takes on Bangladesh. yes, some would say, for us the Pakistan loss to WestIndies was a good omen but the saga starts today.....
We are in trouble,...lost Sehwag in 2nd over and his heir apparent Robin Uthappa was back after not scoring much. Tendulkar, he is still playing was back after a painful stint of 7 runs. all of a sudden Bangladesh looked like Australia. Mr. Dependable Rahul Dravid is no longer dependable apart from a dependable friend (his persistence with Sehwag shows his dependability as a friend). Well lets see how far Ganguly and Yuvraj takes us...
Aagh..before all the Pakistani and the Indian community go wild about the lack of performance by the Indian team ....lets see how the match rolls on

Friday, March 16, 2007

Catch Me If You Can

Do you remember Frank Abagnale Jr. , the subject of the 2002 Steven Spielberg movie "Catch Me If You Can" - one of the most notorious con men of the 20th century recently addressed as a featured speaker at a cutting-edge, computer-ruled event like the Wharton Technology Conference 2007. Well that is a significant role reversal from one who stole close to $3 million (mostly by writing bad checks), impersonated not only a pilot but also a pediatrician, and passed the Louisiana bar exam to today where he runs a highly successful security consulting firm out of Tulsa, Okla. -- works hard to keep up with today's computerized and Internet-based fraud. Well lets see if his 20th century con mind can catch the 21st century wiz kids since most of the fraud is going to happen over the Internet. Well there is no doubt that in USA, people tend to forget the past rather quickly. Take another instance of Michael Milken known for selling junkbonds, triggered the collapse of 1989, sentenced for 10 years! Today, he is termed as philanthropist, a financial innovator. Go figure....!!!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

SOA Testing and MITA

I am finally giving in! After all my blog title is Just Express. I am currently trying to facilitate some MITA testing and performance discussions under the private sector technology group. Its tough to engage industry stalwarts in meaningful and detailed converstations since they are from organizations which compete on a day to day basis. But examples of IBM and Oracle working together are out there in the software world. I sincerely think that by sharing common points of pain and frustration, these converations, dialogs and collaboration will lead to more matured and evolved thinking and benefit the MMIS industry as a whole. Anwyay, I recently penned my thoughts on test aspect on their WIKI site. Here is the URL for it .
You might have to register to post any comments on that write-up.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Trick or Treat: Political Buffonery of Day light Savings Time Shift

As we approach the new day light savings time deadline, a look back shows yet another political decision costing the United States not only dollars but plenty of chaos and anxiety. As political Representative Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican, predicted that children would rejoice at the prospect of an extra hour of daylight trick-or-treating on Halloween. Well the country has been tricked into spending millions of dollars on a Y2K like problem and unforeseen dollars in lost productivity. Well that is definitely a costly treat for the kids at Halloween. Yes there would be savings for the less fossil fuel that would be burned but I would be pleasantly surprised if this would outweigh the costs and the anxious moments that are being spent on the IT fixes. Yes it means good quarterly revenue numbers for IT services firms and consulting organizations but I just wish politicians had a better set of advisors in the future otherwise we would be tricked into yet another political sucide.

The Million Dollar Baby: Are you parenting one?

In this Wall Street Journal (WSJ) there was a report on how much money is being spend on raising kids from age 0-17. Well though the Government numbers were respectable at $16,000 per year, WSJ identified the numbers in the range of 800K to 1.6 million dollars for the period of 17 years. And to top it all, these numbers do not include college education. Initially I was just 'WOW' but then things started to settle in. The example of $800 stroller ( my wife and I discussed buying one, good we just discussed), a $1000 birthday party with a mermaid theme ( attended one that very weekend where the birthday for a 4 year old had a princess theme with a dressed up princess, customized 30 goodie bags and a clown too), $ 3000 annual family vacation trips, $4000 braces treatment and the numbers start to make sense. These kids are surely pampered and I am indeed jealous. The reason this article grabbed my attention was that I have been blessed with an angel girl recently and just reading these articles and numbers blew me away. But on the positive side I said, if I can not be a millionaire, at least I will have the satisfaction of raising one :).

Monday, February 19, 2007

Race for 2008 Presidency: Spanish Language, does anyone Care?

This is the start of my series of posts on the US Presidential Run for 2008 . For starters I stumbled on the web site on each of the current front runners ( yes, I did my own triage on that aspect). Hillary Clinton , Obama, John McCain and Rudolph W. Giuliani . Yes every one of these web sites must be backed and implemented by some savvy web designers and information architects but the one thing that seemed missing at the first glance was the lack of support for Spanish language. By ignoring the second most common language are these candidates doing the right thing? According to the 2000 United States Census, Spanish is spoken most frequently at home by about 28.1 million people aged 5 or over. Of these, 14.3 million reported that they also spoke English "very well". United States is home to more than 40 million Hispanics; the fifth largest Spanish-speaking community in the world, after Mexico, Colombia, Spain and Argentina. Yes, the experts would say that the Internet users of this Spanish community would not be challenged by English version of these sites but as the presidential candidate they need to make a more personal connection with their base and having a Spanish based language sites would be a good start in my humble opinion. What do you think?

PS. I am not a Spanish so it is not a personal agenda of mine.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Dump the Golden Rule: " Treat people the way you want to be treated"

Well these famous words may actually do more harm than good and hence the statement dump it!!! But why! The genesis of this statement is that two humans are alike and the human community is one homogeneous whole. But this is far from truth. Every individual is unique and has different thinking style, preferences and values. If that is the case, how can I assume what is right for me , correct in my style of thinking, precious in my value system is good for my peers and recognizable by my bosses and considerate for my subordinates ( don't have any :)). I just believe we need to recognize the cognitive differences and appreciate the heterogeneity of the people around us and treat them the way they would recognize, appreciate and acknowledge!!! What do you think ?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Winter Storm and Remote Working

Today we experienced the first winter storm in Maryland as a result of 8-10 hours of continuous nature blessing of sleet, ice and snow. I managed my way to the office but as expected, the attendance there was thin. I wondered if organizations capable of running operations remotely would have faced the same situation and have an adverse impact on productivity. But organizations that did not embrace openly the remote /working from home policy would have encountered significant productivity losses. An organization having 250+ employees would have lost almost one man year in one business day. Yes, lot of organizations allow remote working but are far from a position where they can avoid loosing significant productivity on such a day. The organizations do not have the processes and the code of conduct for working from home. Not allowing to work remotely/home means loss of employee hours which is a direct measurable cost. However these lost hours can result in significantly more loss in terms of schedule slippages on projects and revenue dollars in lost opportunities.
My organization is slowly getting into the mode of remote operations but it is more in the early stages than otherwise.It is a fundamental cultural shift of being able to collaborate and work as a team without face to face interaction. There is the no organization empathy and alignment and blah and blah. But at the same time we know many organizations are doing this effectively. It is a cultural shift and warrants code of conduct, orientations to enable the mind shift. So before we face the next winter storm ( I hope it is next year, don't want to spend time on road trying to go over snow hurdles, slush piles and the little but extremely dangerous black ice) , I hope my organization is able to embrace the remote model of operations. What do you think? Does your company have the desired code of conduct or it is more adhoc in nature?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Synopsis of a MMIS RFP

I have to admit that the brains behind this is Mike Morgan but I have attempted to tailor his article such that this reads as if a State (referred to as me) is enlisting requirements of an MMIS project in a RFP. The content of the MMIS RFP reads something like this ..

Please design and build me a MMIS system. I am not quite sure what I need, so let’s get started. My system should be aligned with all the MITA business processes even though I am not sure of what they are?. Just make sure the designs are such that the MITA processes can be easily adopted as they mature in their details. When you bring the blueprints to me, I’ll make the final decision about what I want. Also, bring me the cost breakdowns for each configuration so I can arbitrarily pick one at a later time.

The requirements go on..

As you design, also keep in mind that I want to keep yearly maintenance costs as low as possible. This should mean the incorporation of automated workflow like single click magic buttons and autonomic computing using industry intelligence standards (If you choose not to use industry artificial intelligence standards and products, be prepared to explain you decision). Please take care that modern design practices and the latest techniques are used in development of the system, as I want it to be a showplace for the most up-to-date ideas and methods. To assure that you are building the correct system for our entire state, you will need to contact each of our sister agencies and their managers and team leads. My sister agency X has very strong feelings about how the system should be designed, since the agency uses the system once every year for some strange reasons. Make sure you weigh all these options carefully and make recommendations. However, I retain the right to overrule any recommendation you make. Please don’t bother me with small details right now. Your job is to develop the overall plans for the system and get the big picture.
Also, do not worry at this time about time and the resources to build the system itself. Your first priority is to develop detailed plans and specifications. Once I approve these plans, however, I would expect the system to be up and running within 18 months.

And to top it all...
You must be thrilled to be working on such an interesting project! To be able to use the latest techniques and technologies and to be given such freedom in your designs is something that can’t happen very often and its great for your company's future market.

Does that sound familiar to your State MMIS RFP and requirements or a similar state IT project....

Note: Any references are purely coincidental and any resemblance purely unintentional.

Corporate Stress and the Certified Asshole Test!!!

I recently stumbled on an article(click here for the reference) which was on stressful living. Filled with sarcasm, the article divulges on the inclinations of a typical corporate manager (I read the article with my workplace and self context),which all lead to more stress, less productivity and less happiness (as if it counts). One of the most poignant of the five points was our tendency to "attempt to control everything". The reason I could align with this more than any of the other four was that I experience and live that everyday in my workplace. The key is that we really have little control over anything but there is that illusion of control. With the illusion of control comes the weight of acquired responsibility. All being a recipe of daily overdose of stress, pressure and anxiety. Yes, in the world of healthcare business all of these are special conditions of disorder and there are experts trying to solve them. Anyway, back to the stressful living article. We "Try to control other people; both what they do, and also what they think" Does that sound familar? The control phobia is so dominant and embedded in our minds and it is more since we perceive other people to be difficult, incompetent, and unreliable. The author writes that "the stress factor here lies in the fact that trying to control other people is much like herding cats; requires enormous effort, and you know deep down that it’s futile and ridiculous to even attempt. But if you manage to hold onto the illusion that you can actually gain and preserve absolute control over other people, this can be easily integrated into your everyday life as a reliable source of stress." The other four are also interesting and worth a read as well.
Close on the heels to further force the issue on the control phobia and its associated corporate management perils I need to mention the recent book title 'The No Asshole Rule' by Bob-Sutton. I took a small test (ARSE) and came out close to a certified 'asshole'. For example if you answer this question 'True' then you are pretty much certified : Do You feel surrounded by incompetent idiots – and you can’t help letting them know the truth every now and then? ....
Anyway, I hope we become more sane and respectful of our human surroundings. It's a slow transition for me and I do take two steps forward and one back but I guess I am getting there!!! Where do you Stand?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Experience vs Youth

It so happened that in matter of few hours in two different conversations, the same fundamental question got raised. Which is more important? Youth or experience. The first setting was an industry conference call for MITA where I (with five years of domain knowledge) was trying to exchange ideas with a stalwart of the industry (25 years of domain expertise). Note my use of knowledge vs. expertise. The second setting was on DC 980 Sports Talk with Coach John Thompson where the new trend in NFL for hiring young coaches was being challenged. Well it is a classic and a never ending debate. I believe that experience is needed and it would be not sane to ignore or disrespect the experience of an individual. At the same time experience can be debilitating if it makes one resistant to change and not open to new ideas and approaches. The youth brings freshness, energy, vibrancy and frevor of a child willing to try the untested; explore the unknown and experiment the new. Yes it is a very risk and fraught filled approach. But as many would point the greatest innovations, discoveries are due to this mindset and philosophy. Does age and experience reduce these dispositions and makes you less risk taking and resistant to change? Yes and I think its biologically supported too. But if the experienced people would allow for an open critical thinking of the as-is and the youth respect and imbibe the experience of the seniors as a control board, we can make significant progress. As for Coach John Thompson, I think the marriage of two: have a youthful head coach and very senior assistant head coach is the solution and it is no shame or disrespect to work for a younger person if he honors and recognizes the value of your experience and maturity.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Super Bowl: Colts Vs. Chicago Bears.. Finally Happened....

Its finally happened. Colts overcame the Patriots lock on coming from behind. It was more sweet than just a victory since many pundits would have said at the half time that New England game plan is working and Brady is money down the wire. It was not to be today....It was Colts Day...Yes calls and luck were against them to begin with ( fumble and recovery on the offensive touchdown for New England) but things turned around one step at a time. And to top to all to win by coming back down from 21-3 is really sweet. Infact, it is the largest comeback in the play-off history.
Not that I am a fan of Mannings but I definitely align with Tony Dungy personality. His calm demenaor and maturity is admirable and the victory well deserved. The Super Bowl is more interesting with two black coaches going head to head for the first time. Both of them are also close friends. Anyway, it would be something to watch two weeks from now. Also more because there would not be any Patriots!!!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Is your company the best Company to Work For?

I was reading the latest cover story on Fortune where Google employees were shown in all frenzy and the company was named the best company to work for in terms of employee benefits and perks. Every year this reading makes you reflect on your company benefits. The HR department always vouches we offer equal or even better benefits as compared to other companies of our size. Alas, there are no onsite doctors ( well health is a personal responsibility : why do we need one), no onsite car washes ( why buy cars and pollute the environment ride the Metro), no all paid annual ski trip ( we don't like cold, we are warm blooded animals), free gourmet meals( we don't want to create gluttons) and on and on it goes. On a serious front, these are some significant benefits but recognize with all these benefits basically work is home and home is work! Yes they are truly in direction of being employee friendly but we need to recognize that there needs to be a boundary between home and office and between family and work. As of my company, they are embracing remote working (with closed arms though :)), have a pool/ping pong table( can only play after office hours), free soda and discount kababs (term for meat skewers). But plethora of benefits cannot offset the nature of work, team players around you and as of now I am where I should be. Do I know about tomorrow? Not yet!!! What about you and your company?