Thursday, September 30, 2004

Interviews done

<Blogger was down last afternoon so this is a late post>

I had five interviews on Tuesday and one on Wednesday in the afternoon. The interviews were like none I've had in the past; the questions weren't really technical, they were more along the lines of solving man problems, resource problems and understanding the system end-to-end. This isn't something I have any experience with but being in projects at school was some indicator of how people should be allocated. Team projects, which I initially thought were bogus, actually come in handy at some point in life.

I think I did well in all my interviews - I answered the questions honestly and to the best of my abilities. Whatever the decision is now, I know full well that I gave it my best shot and if I am rejected, it's because I might not be a good fit for the team. The rejection won't be an attack on who I am, it's what I bring to the table for a team that is in flux. And there are always more opportunities to pursue, which makes me look ahead with a smile...

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

The Final Onslaught

It's 5:10 am on Tuesday, the day of my interview. I won't deny it, I was on edge last evening; a game of ultimate, some chitter-chatter with the boys, dinner and a good night's sleep have eliminated all of that. A very wise man once told me that if I sleep before midnight, every hour of sleep is the equivalent of two - I slept at around 10pm and woke up at 5, so that makes for nine hours of sleep effectively.

I'm rested, I'm stoked - now lets see if I am good enough...

Monday, September 27, 2004

Interview Studying - Round 1

The synapses were in atrophy - getting them to fire on all cylinder took a while but once I did, it was all good. This puzzle was what set me off:

You have 50 Red Marbles and 50 Blue Marbles and 2 Jars. How do you place the marbles into the jars such that the probability of getting a Red Marble is maximized?

I was asked this puzzle in one of my interviews by Karolys last year at which time I took a couple seconds to solve it - last night though, I couldn't remember the solution immediately but the thought process was stimulation enough to get me going. The rest of the evening was spent puzzle solving and code writing, the view of the Space Needle and the ambience at Bau Haus enhancing the creative flow...

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Angst or not - I'm interviewing again...

<This post is a collection of thoughts, accumulated over the past week>

You read that right, I'm interviewing again. It has been less than a year since I went through a similar phase but I want something different from my job. At Microsoft, if you're so inclined, you can find what floats your boat. I've begun preparing for interviews with teams but this time around, I can't find it in myself to study hard. I remember the last time I interviewed; I prepared with such a passion and dedication that there was no way a team could turn me down. I think this time around is going to be the exact opposite of my last performance; I need to be galvanized, shocked into action because I'm plain burnt out.

Or is something else? Maybe I'm more self assured - the knowledge of who I am and what my skills are makes it harder to put my heart into reading up. Just learning something now and regurgitating it in an interview doesn't say anything about my skills and abilities. Or is it enough to be able to pull off an offer? Hmm, if that is what the system demands, I will do it.

As the interview day has inched closer, I have taken to reading seriously, making notes about what I should read up on, the algorithms I should know by the back of my hand, problems I should know how to solve and the like. Wish me luck and say a little prayer, I sure am gonna need all them best wishes...

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Wait, my brain is a morphine maker...

Ahh, finally some scientist proves that Morphine occurs naturally in the human brain. No wonder we all strive to get more narcotics into our system, ours could be one of those that doesn't produce enough morphine. To quote the article:
Instead of pumping patients full of morphine, Stefano said, doctors could instead give a morphine precursor -- a molecule that would set off a chain reaction eventually resulting in increased morphine production in the brain.

The approach could circumvent dependency because it would increase an individual's own morphine levels instead of replacing natural morphine with a synthetic version.
I'm all for the natural stuff, not one to do drugs. Crack dealers didn't ever need advertisements to sell their drugs but now they have a legit license to peddle their wares and we all know how they can twist a fact to suit their convenience.

The return to Squash

I started playing squash on a whim during the first semester of my third year at BITS. I sucked real bad in the beginning - hit the ball too hard, didn't have any idea of where to place the ball - what I had working for me though was my agility and speed around the court. I was adept at racquet sports but was never good enough to be on a team; I'll rephrase that - I didn't persevere enough to get onto the table tennis team and was never that good at tennis.

I began to notice improvements in my game within the first couple of weeks that I played and that's what kept me going. It's what has kept me going to this day; there is a discernible improvement in my game as I play more. What I didn't take into consideration was the fact that being as competitive as I am, I'd push my body to extract that last bit of juice for a point, a game, a match. As someone said, most times when I lost, I never gave it up easily...

The inevitable happened - I pushed my body too far this past year. I've had my share of squash inflicted injuries: Raghupatruni's forehand return nearly took out my left eye in the first month I started playing, I tweaked my back, got tendinitis in my right bicep and right knee's ACL but I stayed number 1 for six months - now that's gotta be worth something, right? Wrong - nothing's worth killing your body over and I'll never repeat the mistake again. Will I start playing squash again? Yes - this week's the first time I'll step on the court since the last week of June and actually work my way around the court. My movements will definitely be ginger, the ball will fly out of the court, I won't reach many shots but I'll be on the court. I can't wait...

Monday, September 20, 2004

Mini-Microsoft: Your Review, Your Numbers, Your Choices

A not so succinct but poignant look at the review this past year at Microsoft.
My commitments from June are now ponderous reflections upon an optimistic era.

And then you get the sheet with The Numbers. Your level, responsibility, department, rating, current pay, future pay, any bonus, and any stock awards. "Wow, that's small." I let slip out, wondering if this damn blog had finally had a real-world impact on me and my compensation.

"No, that's pretty much inline with average," my boss said, and reviewed how we're inline with comparable tech companies and that 2% raises are about the max-average (?) this year, along with some % bonus I forget (10%?). Later I got home and unloaded my gear and went through old review numbers. Even in my worst year when I was totally ignorant about the review process I did way better than this year.

I guess we had a lean financial year.

The post goes on to reflect on things that employees can do to address the situation but I found this line particularly liberating:
The golden handcuffs were removed from your wrists long, long ago. You own your career. It's choice time.
Amen to that...

The Futile Pursuit of Happiness

Great read - Puts a lot of things in perspective and therapeutic too! If you haven't figured - the link can be reached by clicking on the title "The Futile...". And the link below the post is the Permanent Link for this post :)

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Chai Rediscovered and Reciped - Manoj style!

BITS, Pilani was a haven for tea drinkers. Nagerji's special chai (Rs 3 - which at that time seemed a fortune) was renowned for its punch and full bodied flavour and he was just one among twenty outlets for tea on campus. Coffee, and good coffee at that, was hard to come by. Add to that the high price-tag (Rs 5) and coffee was in another stratosphere of drinks, a treat to be enjoyed only with certain company :)

Fast-forward to my days in the US, especially Seattle, which is the coffee capital of America. Till a few months ago, I hadn't drunk tea since my days in Pilani. Coffee was the drink de rigeur, it helped me start everyday. Till I started hanging out with Heedz, that is. She'd make chai everytime I'd visit her place and we'd yakk about this and that. That's when I realized, if made right, chai dain't taste that bad after all.

After some experimentation with the measure of ingredients, I've found the recipe that works for me:

1/2 Cup Water
3/5 Cup Milk - alright, I like my drinks milky :p
1 Teaspoon Tea - I'd go with Society in Bombay and Taj Mahal anywhere else
1 Teaspoon Sugar
1 Clove
1 piece of Cardamom (is it called a clove?)
Some Tea Masala for added punch

Crush the cardamom and clove. Add the water, tea and sugar into a pot and bring to a boil. Add milk - bring to a boil again. Once the brew is boiling, add the masala and crushed spices to the mix and let simmer for a couple of seconds. Strain and pour a cup of hot, tasty CHAI...

Saturday, September 18, 2004

The Birthdays just keep getting better

Weekend in Austin with old friends, Tuesday in Seattle with the new friends - I just feel blessed to have surrounded myself with some of the best people a man can ask for... Guys, you all roxxor!

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Now that the EDGE has gone blunt

Being an observer makes you notice changes in oneself too. So it came as no surprise to me when I realized that I had actually lost some of that edge I ostensibly had. I'm not as sarcastic, critical and harsh as I used to be. You know how I could look at something and find fault or take a crack at it, I can't do it as much anymore. I feel I'm above that phase or wait, maybe too mellow. And you know what's the worse thing about this change - I actually miss the old me :) Anyone know where I can find an edge sharpener?!

Can you solve this?

To quote the Hiring Ad campaign:
we unveiled a billboard that's a bit unusual in that it promotes Google only to one very narrow constituency: engineers who are geeky enough to be annoyed at the very existence of a math problem they haven't solved, and smart enough to rectify the situation.
If you're up to the challenge and are diligent enough, break your head trying to solve this. I know what I'm going to be doing this coming weekend...

Welcome to the French Fries Nation...

I did it - gave in to the ceaseless temptation to eat them Fries. An entire year has passed since I ingested one of those tasty curly fries and damn they taste so good. Why is it that the things that give us maximum pleasure are either sinful, immoral or unhealthy? I don't care about the other acts but eating fries, that I will do if only in moderation! More of the beast has been unleashed...

Note: Literally more - 15lbs more :)

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Does Cold Turkey work?

My dad tried giving up smoking innumerable times over the course of the last thirty some years, each time resorting to the Cold Turkey method. What's cold turkey? Well, it's when you sever all ties with the entity (you're most likely obsessed with) in one fell stroke; give it all up the next instant on. Scientific experiments and personal observation have shown that cold turkey doesn't always work - my dad would quit successfully for a short while after which he'd take to the cigarette again. He's quit since this past May (2004) but this time he has help from nicotine gum, which he totally hates but knows that chewing the gum (which he does rarely) is the crutch he needs to steel his resolve to quit.

I didn't think I'd ever say this: I now understand why my dad would say that quitting was hard, how it was so easy to succumb to the temptation, take the easy way out. It's humbling in a way; with the passage of time, most everything my dad has said to me has proved to be correct and most times, I've had to reverse my opinion on the subject. It's this realization that gives me faith that he's going to be correct again and I'm going to be wrong - was wrong. Only time will tell though, so I guess we'll all find out sometime!

Critical Security Advisory - Mozilla Multiple Vulnerabilities

Everyone out there who is using Mozilla Firefox be warned. Multiple vulnerabilities have been found in Mozilla's flagship products that could lead to a remote attacker gaining control of your system. The good news is that patched versions have been released and can be downloaded from :here:.

These vulnerabilities reportedly affect all versions prior to the following:
- Mozilla 1.7.3
- Firefox 1.0PR
- Thunderbird 0.8

If InterlockedCompareExchange confuses you!

InterlockedCompareExchange always confuses me (I must read MSDN everytime I see it being used). This entry by Raymond Chen on his blog is one of the best descriptions of what the problem is and how InterlockedCompareExchange helps resolve the problem of synchronizing access to a variable that is used in a critical section. A good read...

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Annoying Gecko Bugs - Images near page boundaries get split on printing

I use Mozilla Firefox for most of my browsing and printing but one bug that really annoys the life out of me when I am printing technical documents with pictures is: Images are split while printing. You could ask, what technical document worth its salt will have pictures in it? Oh well, I've read enough documents with pictures that are actually geeky - esp documents explaining some intricate memory manager details or OS internals - I wish I knew how to start resolving this bug so I could help fix it...

Monday, September 13, 2004

Linux Usability Study - I

Ben Goodger is the chief developer on the Mozilla Firefox project. Now you'd think, given the fact that Firefox is an open source project, Ben should be pretty adept at using and programming the Linux Operating System - open source brothers support each other, evangelize each other's causes, right, right? WRONG! Ben swears by Windows as is depicted by his blog post: Inside Firefox: Firefox on Linux Install Instructions. Read that for more entertainment. Linux is lightyears behind Windows in usability so this study is going to have to end prematurely...

Friday, September 10, 2004

As time goes by...

You learn more about yourself, about your quirks.
And The more you know who you are and what you want
The less you let things upset you...
Sounds good in theory, but the longer I've lived, the more complicated a human being I have become - with scant understanding of what makes me tick. And I'm not alone in this feeling - as life has unravelled, I've solved the mysteries of the past but have also uncovered new ones to solve. I guess the joy lies in the knowledge that there still is something to solve, something to discover, something to ...

Austin, here I come...

Putt Putt, Gundapps and I are going to meet for the first time (all 3 of us that is) for the firrrrast time since July 2000 - in the city that epitomizes fun and frolic - Austin. More on my return - and if you're not gonna believe this Surdbird, but I've uploaded the photos but some post-processing needs to be done. I had to since I must bring my camera to Austin ;)

Thursday, September 09, 2004

What is all this stuff doing on my computer?

I've had a lot of people ask me for help in fixing their computer's extremely long startup times. I've figured that computers appear intimidating because most users don't know the purpose of all the services and exes that are running on their machine even before they've actually started using it - and the fear of the unknown is a hard one to overcome...

Oh well, this post demystifies some of the exes that run on a regular Toshiba Tablet PC and provides pointers to information that will help you understand the functioning of your computer's startup better...

It's already Thursday

And I thought the week just began yesterday. This past weekend was action-packed and I didn't even have to venture out of Seattle - hi Tanx! Got in touch with a lot of friends, used up all of Donna's phone battery, went to a Bally Sagoo DJing performance, walked Alki Beach, hated Bumbershoot and played tennis. Didn't have much time to do anything else and finally, started enjoying my own company. Read a book, did stuffs around the apartment and drank awesome margaritas on Saturday night. So now you know too - a mish-mash of the good times made going back to work on Tuesday morning such a bummer.

There's going to be a mini reunion in Austin this coming weekend - Gundapps, Surdbird and I are gonna hang out for the first time since we all hit Amreekan shores. It's going to be my birthday too, yippee yea yea - mm turns 27 (now that rhymes too). This year, my friend, is going to be the year of - I can't fucking care :)

So that's that - WinISP had an outage that didn't allow me to post stuffs all weekend but I'll post some updates about the weekend as the memories return. If I miss out some important detail (nothing really important occurred), it could be because of old age making memories fade away...

Friday, September 03, 2004

Chief of Windows Security uses Mozilla Firefox :)

Hi Tanx! As quoted in this article, Mr Stephen Toulouse uses Firefox. But it doesn't stop there, I've met a couple other people here at MS who have been using Firefox for the past couple of months and love it. Here's a quote from the article:
"Security is really an industry-wide problem. Just this morning I had to install an update to Firefox to block a flaw that would've allowed an attacker to run a program on my system."
Yo IE people, pull up your socks and fix IE once and for all... Coming soon: my favourite Firefox plugins.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

A quick roundup of this past week

The entire Hypervisor team went bowling to The Garage on Friday. We left M$ campus sometime after lunch and had a total blast. Eric played host to a bunch of ten nerds who took the bowling a little seriously at the beginning but mellowed down considerably after a few drinks had been chugged. The highlight of the evening for me was The Five Bagger - five strikes in a row that took my score to 187 - my highest ewahhh!

Friday night at Mirabeau Room was funnn! The place wasn't too crowded, the music was fun but the people I was with are who made the night so fun. I've managed to find a good group of people to hang out with - Amit, Mitika, Siddharth and co. are a whole lotta fun and they love partying - I ain't complainin'! This weekend had more people in the mix because there were outstis (visitors in BITSiian speak) who were a hoot! Reema with her Fuck-Onnnn, Sam, Rahul and Aditi ensured we had a total blast. Got back that night just as the sun was rising...

I've said enough of my cell phone getting lost but Saturday was spent in introspective nothingness. Chilled at home for a bit, hung out with Rohita who made tea even though I disrupted her siesta, lost my cellphone, drove back and forth on the bridge but didn't find my phone (as if I could've stopped on the freeway in case I spotted it - stop sir, you're gonna crush my pONe), ate yummy upma and then drove over to Donna's to watch the Belgian Grand Prix. Schumi actually lost :O ;)

I played the best game of tennis I have this summer last night with Jessica. Some rallies just never seemed to end and we both hit some great groundstrokes. I dropped her home, I showered at the Pro and watched half of season 10 of Friends last night. Slept in the wee hours of the morning with a smile on my face. I'd done so much in one day - picked up my mail (what a project), renewed my lease for eight months, hung with Viju and Anu and they gave me portabello mushrooms and lettuce worth $26 without charging me a cent - Tanx Vijay and Anu Kurup...