Tuesday, June 10, 2014



Its time for mid year appraisal at my company - the smart folks up there have managed to conduct two mid year appraisals this year so far. Given the copious amount of talent they hold inside their pea sized brains, you'd reckon they are not done yet.

Anyway, its also time for me to revisit the goals set by me in the beginning of the year. I am proud to announce that, this year I have managed to fulfill at least one of the goals. I haven't watched television this year so far. Yes, the idiot box is staring at me as I write this.. don't worry boy - you're not getting no air time this year :-)

Image Courtesy - Wiki user Denelson83

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The curious case of Mr. McAfee

" I'm constantly under attack, yet I use no software protection.

I protect myself by constantly changing my IP [internet protocol] address, by not attaching my name to any device I use, and by not going on to sites where you might pick up a virus.
Porn sites, for example, I just don't go there.

Secondly, I practise safe computing. If someone sends me an email with a link, I'm not going there until I can call the person to verify that they sent me the email.

It sounds absurd to live that way, but I would rather trust my own devices and thoughts than someone else's software."

Seems like the thought process of a paranoid Luddite, doesn't it?

No, in fact these are the words of none other than the founder of one of the leading anti virus solutions in the world - John McAfee.

Go figure.

Source: BBC News

P.S. - Didn't know Mr McAfee led such an interesting life. Check out the videos here (Screen grab below)


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Creating a product for future?

I have been reading Business Analysis: Best Practices for Success by Steven Blais for last few days. Essentially, the book makes a good reading and the author has an excellent grasp on the issues faced by a business analyst (BA) on a day to day basis. In fact, at the end of the book, he goes on to compile a "list of comments, complaints, and concerns was collected over many years from hundreds of business analysts all over the world". And does a great job at that!

He also gives a list of context free questions that can be used by a BA to explore the problem domain. (How much I would love to have a list of similar context free questions that I can use a conversation starter with people both in/outside the office!) The anatomy of requirements sets the ground work for understanding the business of requirement analysis. The checkpoints and various games introduced throughout the book are informative. A comparison of the roles of BA, Project Manager and System Analyst is interesting. Overall, the author has poured his years of wisdom and practical experience in the well researched title.

However, something caught my eye. In Chapter 16, the author talks about the circumstances of interest. It has been introduced as something that circumscribes technical and business areas in which testing will occur. He further explains this using an example that I am quoting verbatim:

"..when the organization has 1,200 employees and is growing at 10 percent a year, it is not of interest to check whether the system will handle 10,000 employees."

Fair enough, an organization growing at 10% annually with a seed of 1200 will reach 10,000 in around its 23rd year. Is that too far away a date to consider? If not, then how far is faraway? (Hint: Y2K)

Now, it won't be a far fetched an assumption to say that the organization might grow a little faster? With a moderate rate of 30%, the organization will reach 10,000 employees in a little over 8 years.

Doesn't seem that far now, does it?

Image Courtesy: Amazon

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sri Lanka - Changing face of Buddhism

Buddhism stands upright as a religion of peace. Non-voilence or ahimsa is one of the basic tenets of the religion. The serenity on Buddha's face, sitting in meditation, can disarm even the most voilent of creatures. I had a similar impression about Buddhism, alas the picture perfect has been smudged with slurs.

Burma and Sri Lanka, two countries in South Asia, that share a common history of Buddhism are today center of what might be termed as 'Buddhist Terror'. Burma has had a history of Mujahideen insurgency in the west border adjoining Bangladesh, prompting the persecution of Rohingya Muslims, many of whom have fled to neighboring countries. Ashin Wirathu, the doe faced Buddhist monk, has been portrayed as the face of Buddhist Terror by Time magazine. So much so that even Dalai Lama issued an appeal to his Burma brethren to desist from making attacks on Rohingyas.

Sri Lanka has had no direct threat from Muslims but still a feeling of religious intolerance simmers. Earlier it was the Tamils, now after the rebels have been defeated, its the turn of the Moors. Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), a Sinhalese Buddhist Nationalist has organized various campaigns against burqas, halal meat and end of mosque building financed by Middle East. BBS was founded by, guess what, monks! The most alarming fact here is the patronage and instigation by Buddhist monks.

The effects of this prosecution which is seen as being supported by Buddhist clergy were recently seen in the blasts at Maha Bodhi temple at Bodh Gaya. I fail to understand, why smoke belches in India when the fires are raging elsewhere!

Passing by
While other stuff is cheaper, newspapers are mighty expensive in Sri Lanka. Sunday edition of Sri Lanka Mirror cost me Sri Lankan rupees 60 (~ 30 INR). So, once I bought the newspaper, I made sure I read every single page of it :-)

Previous Entries:
Sri Lanka - Introduction
Sri Lanka - Cleanliness
Sri Lanka - Religion
Sri Lanka - History of Buddhism

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sri Lanka - History of Buddhism

Buddhism was brought into Sri Lanka around 2400 years ago by the great Indian king Asoka. He sent his son Mahinda to Sri Lanka to help spread the message of Buddha. Asoka's conversion to Buddhism after the battle of Kalinga is another interesting story, perhaps for another time. At that time, a sapling of the Bodhi Tree under which Buddha had meditated was also brought to Sri Lanka. The tree is venerated in Sri Lanka and is the site of a great pilgrimage for Sri Lankans.

Bodhi Tree at Anuradhapura
Sri Lanka has the longest continuous history of Buddhism across all Buddhist countries. India, where Buddhism originated and was once the state religion of the grand Mauryan empire, couldn't sustain itself. Although Hindu kings patronized Buddhism, a heretic Shaiva king chopped the Bodhi tree. The University at Nalanda, a treasure chest of knowledge, burnt for 3 months after being set on fire by Muslim invaders who also destroyed numerous stupas and viharas. Once it lost the support of the kings, Buddhism would find it difficult to survive.

Soon Buddhism faced an identity crisis. Vaishanavism abandoned the animal sacrifices that Buddhism abhorred in Brahminism and started practicing vegetarianism. Shaivites disregarded the caste-hierarchy inherent in scriptures. Overall, ideas were freely borrowed from Buddhism ranging from the Sangha (the Buddhist monastic order) to Tantrism. Shankaracharya stole the wind from Buddhism's sail and not much later, Buddha was one of the avatars of Vishnu in India. Its funny to note that Vishnu is one of the four guardians of Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka!

Princess Hemamali carrying Buddha's tooth in her hair

In Sri Lanka too, the Sinhala kings had to seek refuge from the invaders from South India - most specifically the mighty Cholas. Cholas under Raja Raja I and his son Rajendra I, creators of the magnificent Brihadeswara temple at Thanjavur, destroyed the city of Anuradhapura and established a new capital at Polonnaruwa. Eventually, they were overthrown by Vijaybahu I and Buddhism was reinstated as the state religion. Buddhism continued to florish under Parakramabahu the Great. After his death, the kingdom was again brutally sacked by Kalinga Magha who established the Kingdom of Jaffna in the north. Jaffna remained unconquered until the arrival of Portuguese in 16th century.

Sri Lanka has had a tumultuous political history. The claim to the throne was laid by the no less than the Cholas, Pandyas, Sinhalas, Kalingas and even a king from far away Kannauj! The capital was shifted from one city to another by one king after being destroyed by another. However, the light of Buddhism was kept burning with the support of ordained monks from Burma and the Buddhist clergy was cleansed time and again.
Crowd outside the Sacred Tooth Temple 
It was believed that the holder of Sacred tooth relic had the right to the throne of the kingdom. Even today Esara Perahara (festival of the tooth) is celebrated with great fervour in July/August at Kandy. It is attended by a large number of people who flock to see the relic. It is a very colorful sight with fire-dances and colorfully decorated elephants. I was fortunate enough to be in Kandy on the day , the Perahara started. However crowd, fire dances and elephants galore in India and hold no special interest for me therefore I moved on to Colombo.

Crowds lined up for the Perahara
Although, I originally intended to write about changing face of Buddhism in Sri Lanka in this post, I see that I have wandered too much into the history so I would put a stop here. I would write about that in the next post.

Passing By
Due to the Perahara, the Pizza Hut outlet near the Sacred Tooth temple was closed for dine-in. Instead, it had been converted to a gallery where one could book a seat and watch the Perahara pass by. The guy tried to sell me a ticket for 4000 Sri Lankan Rupees. When I told him that I was leaving the city he reduced it to 2000! I had to convince him that I was really leaving!!! And then he lightened up, beamed a smile and said, "You must be from Punjab".

Pizza Hut converted into a gallery (chairs can be seen)
Previous Entries:
Sri Lanka - Introduction
Sri Lanka - Cleanliness
Sri Lanka - Religion