Saturday, April 29, 2006

Let the weekend begin


Tired would be an understatement for what I felt as I sat on the couch this morning at 2:30am. I had just returned from the unofficial House-warming party at Kirk's and was listening to some music as I procrastinated the task of changing into sleep gear. I couldn't get myself off the couch because for the first time all week, I was enveloped by a sense of sanguine. Music sounded better, the couch felt more comfortable and I almost went to sleep when the phone rang.

The phone snapped me out of my stupor; I changed and went straight to bed - 3am, lights out! As has become the norm, if I happen to be awake before Noon, a phone call is to blame. Cheech and I spoke for a while before I insisted that I needed more sleep and she hung up in a huff (sorry Cia). The next thing I knew, it was 1:45pm on a dreary Saturday afternoon! You kinda get used to this kinda weather in Seattle, 75 degrees all week and 45 degrees on the weekend.

So what are the spoils of the day? Kirk and Tiff are official. The nights are booked out with activities and I have to workout twice this weekend in preparation for the squash tourney coming up in the last week of May. There used to be a time when I was all about discipline but now, I don't think I can spell beyond dis :). It hurts that I have a slow metabolism but I think I have found a way to speed it up. This might have nothing to do with my metabolism but I'd like to go to the Pro Club and work out instead of talking to everyone and their mother (time efficacy). So Kevin and I have a pact - I help him with his computer, he helps me control my talking habit.

Contrast this set of problems with those my brethren in India encounter everyday :) Here is an issue they must deal with on a daily basis: Chaotic Traffic. Dwell on this for a moment, be entertained and have a great weekend!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Are active listeners opinionated?


As a Microsoft employee who's core work hours are spent in meetings, I have learnt to actively listen and provide feedback when needed. The thing with feedback is that it can be critical and invasive at times; you want the person receiving the feedback to know what you are talking about - sometimes that requires finding fault or pointing out something that wasn't thought through.

Feedback derives from knowledge and insight, judgment derives from opinion. The difference is subtle and it is this subtlety that causes the two to be mistaken: feedback for judgment and insight for opinion. I am human and therefore subjective so opinion does creep into my statements at times but for the most part, my feedback is fact or insight based. Does the fact that I have feedback make me opinionated though?

Yes and No - I can't go out on a limb and say that I am opinionated because there are some things I plain don't care about. Hockey, Politics and basket-weaving I don't care about. My friends I do care about. If they relate something to me, I might have an insight, a story to share or have an opinion to express. Whatever be the statement, speaking it almost always lands me in trouble - it's a theme this week isn't it? First my blog, then ...

I know why I land in a soup - I walk the line with my words and push boundaries. I should stop; I should know when to be quiet and listen and when to weigh in with my thoughts. It all boils down to perceiving when people will be receptive to my statements. Or is this the week's moment of ah-ha - the moment when I realize that my experiences are not generic enough to apply to the life of another. Whatever it is, this insight might help me communicate better with the people around me and just for that, I opine that this might be good!

The Hollowness is overwhelming


But this, like other phases will pass. You will be a stronger man Manoj, stronger man!

As the Rush Comes


Captain's Log, 04/27/2006

This day at work was a total wash. I got to work late, attended meetings but had no real input, stayed late but didn't close any bugs and didn't cross out any items on my to-do list. It is days like these that make me want to hit the squash ball as hard as I can, break squash racquets and pound them weights. I didn't workout tonight at all though because the boys were going to come over. The previous episode of House, M.D. was on the menu, as were cranberry martinis and dessert.

The show was fun, more so because of the company. We talked for a while after the episode and been catching up with all them people who called me today. I'm finally done catching up with Veronica Mars too, renewed my lease and am ready for bed. Hopefully, you have great weekend plans...

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Nonplussed


I have been at a loss for words all day. The steady escalating feeling of foreboding is driving me nuts. Maybe it is nothing but I have never been wrong about such stuff!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

V for Vendetta


Instead of droning on about the movie, I present you with a quote:
VoilĂ ! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of Fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is it vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a by-gone vexation, stands vivified, and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin vanguarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition. The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta, held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose so let me simply add that it's my very good honor to meet you and you may call me V.
I watched the movie at Cinerama this past Friday night and loved the experience. You should go watch it if you are the sort that liked 1984. Might help if the after party includes alcohol, dancing and cajun fries...

It's down to the wire


Anytime Minutes left in plan: 33
Number of days remaining in billing cycle: 4

Gotta stop talking on the phone so much...

Nosey and Inquisitive People


People need to learn to not interfere in the lives of others, to manage their own affairs and mind their own business. I hate pesky people because their meddling always causes harm and does no good whatsoever. The problem is, we all know at least one such pesky person, someone we shouldn't have let into our lives because they are too curious for their own good. More often than not, their curiosity doesn't kill the cat but it sure lands you into a soup.

Maybe the fault is mine - I write what I feel and therefore open myself up to examination. That's a thing of the past now - my blog has gotten me into trouble many times in the past. Most times I have wanted to get into trouble but this time I really didn't want this drama. I actually contemplated discontinuing this blog and making my thoughts private but that's too extreme a measure. Besides, I realise that the meddling of one individual isn't going to change all that much in my life - if it affects who I interact with, I made a mistake by letting them into my inner circle to begin with.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Persuasion Styles


Most Effective Persuasion Style:
Putting the ball in the decision maker's court...

Least Effective Persuasion Style:
Coercion

Style most often used to persuade?
Coercion, sheer force and autocracy. Strange, huh?

It's all about Momentum


After a crazy Wednesday, Thursday started off on a slow note. I was tired after my early (??) morning shower, tired as I drove in to my class and tired till a little after lunch. The quasi white chocolate mocha (latte with 1/2 a pump of white chocolate) served to wake me up a great deal, as did the nature of the conversation we were having in class - Managing Underperformers.

I'd strongly recommend Managing People at Microsoft to all Microsoft Managers. We all tend to have our own intuitive sense of how to manage people, a sense of our personality type and a sense of the best thing to do given a particular situation. You will be surprised to realize that on many occasions, your intuition is in accordance with the best course of action. The key is to do the right thing when the two aren't in agreement.

It is 7:56 in the morning and I am wide awake. Time to jump into the shower, get dressed and attend the final day of training. I have a bucket load of email to check over the weekend so that I catch up with what has been going on at work. To my good fortune, I have able reports who have been keeping me updated on the happenings and have been taking care of business in my absence. Of course, there is trusty, ol' Karan who can just do it all. The coffee and yoga (10 minutes this morning) will hopefully keep me awake through the morning session. Have a great day and an even better weekend!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Whopper Wednesday


It's rare that a day starts at 7:30am for me. It is even rarer that the exact same day ends at 3am. What is most rare is that I'm wide awake through all of such a long day, and that I enjoyed almost every hour of it.

What is predictable is that I am dead tired today. The second day of Managing People at Microsoft is zipping past me and I'm having slight difficulty keeping up with the material - people are noticing that I'm not talking as much as I did yesterday :) Wait, that's definitely a blessing! I haven't slipped into my impatient, punchy mode yet but more sleepless nights and I'll definitely be there. Good thing the weekend is coming up...

We had a basic personality assessment today - based on my responses, I was assessed as an Expressive individual. I am so surprised! I'll have more to say (damn, gave my cover away already) about yesterday later this evening.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

As I go to sleep...


- iTunes is playing my favourite tunes in the background
- My workout clothes are drying in the dryer
- The BBC World News just stopped playing on the media center

I have to wake up before 8am for the next three days to attend a great training session for people managers at Microsoft. I'm not excited about waking up but I have been wanting to attend this training for so long that it will be worth while.

Waking up late causes the entire day to be wasted. Donnie made Arun and me our favourite portabello mushroom in marinara sauce sandwich and the rest of the afternoon just flew by. The six helicopters flying overhead around 5pm was the highlight of my work day - meh! The Chinese President's arrival at Microsoft campus caused huge traffic jams all around campus - thanks Mr President for making me late to my squash game.

I crushed Sarat this evening in our match, 3-0. We played a few more games to get a good workout and I was done by 8:30. I stretched, jumped rope, had my protein shake and got out after a shower. The time spent in the steam room before my shower left me blissfully calm that has continued till this moment. I should go to bed now so I can wake up in time for tomorrow's training. Peace out!

Monday, April 17, 2006

2005 Taxes Filed


Not before a lot of drama and stress (that will continue through till tomorrow). Here is why:

1. I downloaded the TaxAct application to my computer and chose not to file my taxes using taxact.com
2. I started filing taxes on my laptop
3. I had to get some info from work so I went to work. Finished my return from my laptop but couldn't connect to the network to submit from my laptop.
4. I was forced to install the app on my office computer but it refused to continue the filing process from the backup I made on my laptop.
5. After getting around that restriction, I finished the filing process
6. Before filing, I wanted to print out the form for review. My printer drivers didn't work; I forgot that I had the Acrobat Distiller installed.
7. I chose to submit without printing out my return.
8. I had to move the files from my laptop to my desktop using a USB thumb drive, that didn't belong to me. I cleaned up the files I put on it so I could return it.
9. Oh well, that was the only copy of my 2005 tax return, and it was gone! Gone for good!
10. I don't know if I entered my bank account number correctly and I can't double check it :((

Why do i always struggle to do these very simple tasks? I rock at doing complex tasks but these simple common sense things I am never sure of! Take for instance the other time when I thought I was flying to Dallas at 11am but my flight was actually for 11pm. I just need to be more careful in the future.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Let the Ridic Times Roll...


Camino crashed while I was typing this post earlier today. Unlike the switch commercial, the computer made no sound while I watched, with horror, the application crash and took my post with it. And, it was a good post...

Judging by my post on Friday afternoon, I had no idea that the night would turn out the way it did. A huge load had been lifted off my shoulders by last evening because I was done with reviews, had tracked the progress on our test passes and was looking forward to the R 'n R that a normal weekend provides. I left the team unwinder after filling my stomach with a few slices of pizza and headed to the Pro Club for my squash match.

The match with Sarat went the distance and this time, he won the 5th game 9-7. The match was characterized by long rallies and intense points. My strategy should be to dominate points and not become defensive; typically, if I win a game, it's because I attack the ball and move my opponent around the court. I was doing a lot of running in the games I lost last evening and couldn't sustain the momentum after winning the 4th game. My defensive game, strategy and endurance are areas for improvement (can you tell I've been writing performance reviews for people?) before the tournament starts this coming Friday. Back to last night, I was so glad that I had eaten before the match or else I would have had to crawl out of the club. The combination of post-match stretching, steam room and a hot shower relaxed me to the point that I could've slept on a couch at the club.

All plans to go out had been shelved because one-by-one, all the participants had flaked on what was supposed to be a team activity. I got home, cooked myself a great meal (brown rice, pesto and lentils cooked with a little mustard) and started watching Veronica Mars when I heard the phone ring - it was Rajit. The rest is history - just read on...

I want to say that some funky theme song was playing in my head as Marwah and I drove into Seattle but no, that's too filmy. The closest we got to the drive being an adventure was the fact that the heating wouldn't work - damn BMWs. As we were about to enter Belltown, Sharonyka (Veronica with a sh) called and said she was at Rosebud in Capitol Hill. She then said something that I completely misunderstood, a perfect case of she said, I heard! She said she would hang at Rosebud for a bit, then come to Twilight, call me out so I could come get her (and help her find a parking spot). I heard that she wanted me to come get her later at night from Rosebud! A real time decision and a U-turn later, we were on our way to Rosebud - why procastrinate the inevitable?!

Last night was friggin' cold and all I had on was a button down shirt; lucky for us, I found a spot less than a block away from our destination. The look of surprise on Sharon's face when she saw Rajit and me walk towards her, long islands in hand, was priceless. That's the second time I have shown up when she hasn't expected me to, I wonder how long I can keep this up! :)

It had to be the fact that we were in Capitol Hill because we conversed, hung out and had a great time without being pretentious. There was repartee, there was sharing of old stories and the alcohol was served to our table so by the time we walked out, all of us were reasonably intoxicated. The right thing to do under such circumstances is to sober up over seasoned fries at Broadway Grill! I pulled up outside Broadway Grill to drop Ronnie off so that she could order before last call. As she opened the door, we heard a loud thud from the back...

072 RNX, a cherry red Civic hatchback, had rear-ended us. After ensuring that everyone in the car was fine, I pulled the car over to a safe zone and got off to talk to the faulting driver. Greg Kelly, a 19 year old from Carnation, was definitely intoxicated but it wasn't alcohol that had shot his senses, it was something else, E maybe. The 2 girls riding with him in the car were visibly shaken but no one was hurt; they were very apologetic and clearly trying to avoid interacting with cops. It was his fault, he was intoxicated (as were they), he couldn't find his insurance information (uninsured if you ask me) and they were all under-age. For blondes, they were smart enough to know that if the cops arrived, they would be in deep trouble.

We stood out in the biting cold for more than half an hour to get all the information we needed to get Ron's car fixed. Sharon was a real trooper - she took it all in her stride and wasn't too shaken up. After the ordeal, the five of got into the warmth of Santiago's car and drive around to get some food. 13 Coins had a 45 minute wait so we ended up eating at Mini's before heading back home. If you ask me for a single highlight of the night (other than the accident), I'd be torn to pick between the chill ambience and the easy repartee that we indulged in all night. Here's to more nights like this...

Friday, April 14, 2006

It's Friday


I am physically and mentally exhausted from the rigours of this past week. I am so glad to be done with reviews but the process has definitely extracted too much out of me. This time was tougher than ever before; they say that writing reviews gets easier as time passes but that's definitely not the case with me.

Ok - before I become completely incoherent, I should stop! Maybe a nap on my office floor is in order...

And then there were NONE


I just put the final touches to the final review of Mid Year 2006. Review period is the time of year I hate being a lead the most. Writing comments takes me the longest time because these two attributes of mine - being thorough and procastrinating till the 11th hour. Guess when the deadline for having all reviews submitted to the system is - April 14, today!

This day is not without it's highlights though. In no particular order, I reached work on time, I was late by 30 minutes to a 35 minute meeting called by the GM of Windows Security, Donnie made the best portabello mushroom sandwich this evening for Arun and I, my quasi personal trainer killed my biceps and triceps (so satisfying), and I spent all of 1 hour at my desk between 10 and 6 today.

In other news, I might have conned MD into hanging out with the crew tomorrow night. We are planning to start at Twist and continue the party at Twilight. I can't wait for this review tension and reorg discussion to be over tomorrow before the entire team unwinds over beers.

Enough talk for now, time to go to bed - over and out.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Mid Week Status


I knew this week would go by quickly but I hadn't anticipated that the days would fly by me. It is Thursday morning already and I am still reeling from the late night on Saturday. To be totally honest though, I have been awake past 3am since Saturday night and been sleeping fitfully. I plan to go to bed minutes after I am done with this post and hopefully, tonight will be different from other nights this week.

So what have I done this week? I'll tell you what I haven't done - I haven't worked out three days in a row. Actually, the last time I worked out was last Friday afternoon; the squash game with Sean traumatized me to the point that I couldn't go to the gym all weekend. Actually, my knees were so sore after the match with him that I was in pain the remainder of Friday and till lunch on Saturday afternoon. I have completed two reviews, closed some bugs, and discussed a project idea with Arun.

I can't keep my eyes open anymore. The final countdown till I go to bed has begun - change clothes, brush my teeth and slide into bed, all as the BBC News bulletin plays in the background. Two more days befoer it is Saturday - I so can't wait!!

Monster Mix - III


1 CD, 18 Songs, 1 Recipient!

1. Living on my own - Queen
2. Nain se Nain - Adnan Sami
3. Shake it up - Kangna feat. Dr Zeus
4. Yeh Khuda - Fight Club (the soundtrack)
5. Bora Bora - Arash
6. Dance Dance - Fall out boy
7. Jhalak Dikhlaja - Aksar (the soundtrack)
8. Madan (Gekko Mix) - Salif Keita
9. Zinda (Delirious Club Dub) - Zinda (the soundtrack)
10. Pump It - The Black Eyed Peas
11. Hai Hai - Jay Dabhi
12. Dope the Pope - Boom (the soundtrack)
13. Ah Ni Kuriye - Dr Zeus
14. Aadat - Kalyug (the soundtrack) feat. DJ Suketu
15. Drop the Pressure - Mylo
16. In My Memory - DJ Tiesto
17. Murder She Wrote - Chaka Demus n Pliers
18. Unpredictable - Jamie Foxx feat. Ludacris

Want a copy? Order now by sending me an email and we can negotiate a price! All proceeds go to the B.T.S. Fund.

Just a thought - what's up with people not having CD players in their cars?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

What a Monday!


After sleeping after 6 in the morning yesterday, I couldn't wake up in time for any morning appointments. When I eventually got in to work and reviewed the outcome of the night's labour, it made the effort worthwhile. I had pulled an all-nighter without the assistance of caffeine and was done with 2 reviews, that's a whole day's work done in one night - fair trade, sleep for productivity.

The rest of the day was a blur. I am tester of the week till Friday so a lot of my time was spent triaging failures. When I eventually got a chance to close out 2 bugs, it was past 5pm. Mondays and Wednesdays are practically useless work days because I the majority of time from 10 to 5 in meetings. The wise said that "procastrination is the thief of time"; I'd like to revise that truism and make it "meetings are the thief of time".

As far as I was concerned, the events of the day were the Previews before the Feature Presentation - the Queen concert. Karan is a huge fan of Queen, I grew up listening to their Greatest Hits album (the blue cover please, thank you) so both of us were looking forward to the show. After the debacle at the first Australian Pink Floyd Show, the two of us have made it a point to not make going to concerts a group event. We usually drive together and leave a few minutes earlier to ensure that we are in our seats before the stated hour so we don't miss a single beat.

The concert felt like a private gathering of Queen fans: the seats were limited (only the first level of the Key Arena was on sale) and pricey, but totally worth it. They say Queen without Freddie isn't Queen; I was initially peeved that Paul Rogers didn't even try to sing like Freddie. On further thought, I'm glad he didn't because it re-affirmed the fact that Freddie is inimitable. They played a lot of their greatest hits, some rare gems and finished with "We Are the Champions" after rocking for 2 and a half hour - a powerhouse performance by any standards. What I thought was special was the way they did Bohemian Rhapsody - a giant screen had Freddie sitting at the piano (like the music video), he sang while the live band played the music and the rest of us had goose bumps.

A hoarse voice, sore palms (you gotta clap through We Will Rock You), various Queen songs playing in my head and a whole lot of adrenaline pumping in my veins were all I had left when the music stopped. We walked to the car talking about the songs they didn't play, about Brian May's guitar skills, about how we got introduced to Queen, about ...

Did I say I got to bed at 5am?

Monday, April 10, 2006

2 Down, 1 To Go


Procastrination is the thief of time

I had nearly two weeks to enter my feedback for the people who work for me. I am not proud that I did other things over the last thirteen and a half days but I can say with pride that I am done with 2 reviews. Barring comments from my manager, I think I have done my part and provided as much information to the 2 guys as is needed at this point.

The thought of spending another three hours on the last review is both annoying and satisfying - it's all about perspective, is the glass half full or half empty. I'd like to thank the people who helped me break the monotony of the process by entertaining me during my breaks - Ebert and Roeper, Batman and MD!

A weekend of no drinking, hanging with friends, early mornings (I slept at 8am on Sunday) and drinking great coffee comes to an end. I'm so excited with what this week has to offer: reviews, taxes, lease renewal, bill payments. Whatever...

Friday, April 07, 2006

24 can be very stupid


I say this as an "intelligent" and very involved viewer of 24. I want to say that sometimes, the show is very stupid - take for instance now when Jack has all the conversations between a hacker and the main conspirator but Jack isn't even considering using those recordings as evidence. He wants to instead rendezvous with this guy and have him confess. In the interim, planes are flying over the Atlantic to attack the Middle East. On the one hand, Jack wants to save time and on the other, he is using the most circuitous route to get this evidence. Even dumb Manoj can figure that out, why can't super Jack?!?

Ok, I've posted about 24 a lot this past week. It has taken over my life but that ends tonight. I am going to get this obsession under control, in fact, I'm going to go to bed before 1am.

I had a so-so day at work but my time at the gym changed my mood completely. I played a great game of squash with Sarat (I won in 4 games) which is the perfect warm-up for my game with Sean tomorrow afternoon. The game was the ideal cardio workout I needed to set up the weight lifting regimen that followed. The lifting wasn't as intense as it has been over the past couple of days with Arun but it was fun nonetheless. I had my protein shake after, tried to get in touch with Nikhil but instead got my awesemo sister - Rachna. The new mother was beaming and we conversed about what she would name her daugther. They need a name starting with V so I said I'd do some research. If you think of a name that starts with V that isn't too verny, lemme know.

Before I sign off, I thought I'd give the girliez some advice - once you've had your first period, it's not a good idea to go anywhere with strange boyz. :)

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Unacceptable


I slept at 4:15 last night, mostly because I was watching 24. This is not acceptable at all; my desire to find out what happens next is bordering on greed now! It's not like someone is going to take the episodes away from me.

No point in making promises but I'm going to try to turn the lights off before 2am now. Clearly, this crazy TV watching is beginning to affect my productivity - I have been tired and groggy two days in a row. Time to take control...

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

24 has taken over my evenings!

:Link to Article:
Since I've had my Media Center PC, I've started recording shows that I always wanted to see but couldn't! One of these shows is 24, a show that started around the time I came to Seattle, a show that I had heard a lot about but didn't really think much of. On a whim, I watched the Season Premiere this year at Fox Sports Bar (in Seattle). To be honest, I was watching the NFL Playoffs at Fox Sports (the penultimate round) and saw Season Premiere posters hung all over the bar. There was supposed to be a drawing for DVDs and promotional stuff (Black T-shirts with art) on both the premiere nights at the bar, which was incentive enough for me to drive into Seattle after my workout to watch the episodes...

I shouldn't have gone, I shouldn't have started watching the show. Is this me regretting? NO WAY! Well, maybe! I am addicted to the show now, I can't wait for the next episode in Season 5. I used to hate Mondays, now I wait with bated breath for the day to end and for the clock to strike 9! But I'm not writing this because of Season 5; I can only watch one episode a week of that. It's the first four seasons that are keeping me awake these past couple of nights.

Stefan, my friend from my NGSCB days, has a treasure trove of movies and shows that he has collected over time. He loaned me the DVDs of Season 2 of 24 this past weekend and now I wish I hadn't taken them. I don't say this lightly but 24 is the best show I have ever seen, period. The episodes are taut, my nerves are on edge through the course of the 42 minutes and every episode ends with a cliff-hanger. Like they say about Lays Chips, "No one can eat just one", I must say about 24, "No one can stop at one (episode)." What a great addiction though, the only thing I'm losing here is sleep. In my book, that's an acceptable trade-off for some heart-pounding, adrenalin boosting entertainment. You should watch it too, on TV or DVD - Monday Nights, 9/8 C on Fox.

The Windows Media Center Experience

:Link to Article:
I have always been a TV junkie but I never got home in time to watch any shows. Part of the blame falls on my crazy schedule. I sleep late, wake up late, come in to work late and therefore, have to leave work late. I also have a strong desire to stay in shape, which results in a trip to the gym. I actually tried out coming to work earlier in the hope that my schedule would move up a few hours. The experiment failed - every day of the week that I was in early, I didn't leave before 7!

As I said, I never get home on time to watch prime time television. I found ways around this problem though, thanks to Karan and his love for DVRs. I need to take a moment here and credit Karan with a lot of things he has introduced me to. To say he is a positive influence would be insufficient but I know he is going to feel very cheap when he reads this so I'd better stop. There was only one problem with Karan owning the DVR - he'd only record shows that he liked and not pay heed to my requests! :)

This year, with the help of THE Juggy (himself), I put together my own Media Center PC. If there is one gadget that I've grown to love since my iPod, I would say it is this box that sits in my living room. It can be an eye-sore at times but that's a small price to pay for the hours of entertainment I have reaped since this machine's arrival at my apartment. What makes it the killer gadget is the integration of TV shows, videos, music and radio - this is the true entertainment center!

Anyone who knows me can vouch for the fact that I'm not a biased reviewer; people say that I'm especially harsh when it comes to Microsoft products. Hey, I'm an iPod toting, powerbook using, Machead! So when I say that with the Media Center release, we've proved our detractors wrong and have shown that we understand the Living Room entertainment experience, it is an indication of how impressed I am. To get the platform stability I have achieved, I have to reboot the machine twice a week (at 5am through an automated task). Since having set this up though, the machine hasn't crashed, hung or missed a single recording. And, all the talk about hardware issues, hangs, etc. must be from people who don't want to invest the extra $50 in good hardware - I haven't had any such issues.

With all this said, I'd rate this as a 100% positive experience. Go Media Center, go!!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Memories


What is life if we didn't form memories? Audio and video have a way of etching themselves indelibly on our psyche; tucked away in the deep recesses of our minds till they are triggered by a stray event, a random occurrence. We grow to trust our memories, begin to believe that our interpretation of how things occurred and/or how something sounded is accurate.

Imagine my surprise when I find that our memories often lie to us, are often our own interpretations of what things were. This realization, that the reality is so different from my memories, made me sit back and think, to reconsider what I considered set in stone. This didn't make sense; I have a photographic memory that hopefully records events as they occur, interprets audio without adding any veneers to it.

As I write this, a plausible explanation dawns on me. One way of looking at this disparity is that I'm at a different place in life right now ergo, I should respect my memory of a different time, take it at face value and treat it for what it's worth. What do I learn from this though? I believe there is no point in actually tracing back and determining whether reality is in sync with our interpretations, our memories. These are best enjoyed in their current form over a cup of tea and in the company of friends, both old and new!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Like any other weekend


NOT! First up, this weekend was absolutely beautiful. I was out through most of yesterday and I had the windows open all day today as I stayed indoors. You'd think this was normal till I reveal another fact - I wasn't wearing any warm clothing all weekend (while hanging out and while the windows were open). If this is a precursor to the Spring and Summer of 2006, I'm stoked!

Yesterday was a pretty hectic day that started off relatively early for a Saturday - 11:15am. First up, I cleaned up my act by shaving and getting a haircut. Coffee at Green Lake was next after which I drove to Ameen/Deep's and helped them out with party preparations. I had three party invitations for Saturday night and it was a bummer that I could show my face at only two. It was the night of Sid's farewell party and I, my friends, had been asked to DJ. Something inside me is telling me that this was because there was no one else who would be a sucker for this but hey...

Amruta helped me put together a set of hindi songs (I already had hip-hop covered) before I headed over to Sid's, armed with my laptop. The invitation said the party would start at 8 but when I got there around 10, there were maybe 10 other people there! When did IST skew our interpretation of time so much?!

The party started in earnest only around 11:30. By this time, there were maybe forty Indians milling around the house, drinks in hand, making conversation and catching up with each other. This was a gathering of people who knew each other so there wasn't much introducing going on, just talking, drinking and dancing. The crowd was weird though - they danced to only a select set of songs. I would've never anticipated some of the requests that were made but when I played Sweet Child 'O Mine, I knew they would dance (I figured that they were suckers for oldies). What stood out about that night though was the fact that at the same time, different people would request Hindi, Hip-hop and rock within 15 seconds! It was a fun night though, everyone seemed to be having a good time and it was a great party for Sid...

I slept a little after 6 this morning. No surprise then that my day didn't start till 2 in the afternoon. All I've done since waking up is watch TV, eat and fold laundry. I honestly folded 4 loads of laundry over the course of the day and I still have a couple loads to do. Laundry is the one chore I totally hate, which is why I hardly ever do it, which is why it piles up, which is why I have to fold so many clothes, which makes me hate the chore even more (hey that rhymed). The cycle I just described makes my hatred a self-fulfilling prophecy but has an easy fix - do laundry more often! Or get a maid...