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2010-09-21

The brownies at fabindia

Lately, I was accompanying a friend for shopping, and landed at the Fabindia store near Elliots beach. They had this huge bar of 'fudgy chocolate brownie' at their cash counter and I was thinking aloud with skepticism :P This friend, insisted that I try it and made me get one. A bar (190 gms) cost 100 bucks.

The first bite nailed me. It was 'my god' THE best brownie I have ever had. I finished that entire bar, but for one small piece which I had to share :-S, and ran back into the store to get the other last bar they had. It was unbelievably good, and unbelievably CHEAP.

It does not seem like a fabindia product, coz the label does not mention anything related. It just says "Indulgence Fudgy Chocolate Brownies" and no address :-/ Shyte.

2010-09-19

FStival 2010, Software Freedom Day at Madurai

The first time we conducted FStival in 2004, it was largely a TCE event. We had managed to create some noise in a couple of newspapers, and put up pamphlets in the city. However, we had only one visitor from outside the college :) This time, at FStival'10, I was touched to see a gathering of 300+ people, from various colleges and schools, in and around the city. Some had even traveled 100+ KM to attend the event.

FStival is just one facet of the movement in Madurai, centered around TCE.

When we initiated GLUGOT in December 2003, our primary motive was to find a way to conduct GLUG-Madurai meetings regularly in the TCE campus. Today, it has gone beyond that. The commitment and consistent effort put by the students, staff and management of TCE has not only brought awareness in the area, but also, the motivation to involve in the movement. FossConf'09 saw students of TVS Matriculation Higher Secondary School setup stalls on GIMP. The students literally ran behind the visitors, dragged them to their stall and demonstrated the software :) At FStival'10, more schools have expressed interest to involve themselves.

I see this as a BIG step forward. But, there is still a long way to go, and a lot of ground to cover. I am waiting to see that day when FStival will travel from one school/college to another in Madurai, year after year.

My sincere appreciation to all the people involved, for making this work.

PS 1: The name 'FStival' was coined by 'sap'

2010-09-10

'Software effort estimation', whats your trick?

I am not an expert at it. No, not at all.

I do the 'work break-down structure', a rough design and ask myself the question: "How many days will I take if I do this task?", for each task. Supposing I come with 'J' hours, I take it that any other random Joe will take 'J * 1.5' hours for that task. On the entire estimate, I add a 10% slack. This has worked well in most cases. In cases where the estimation was out of sync with the actual, I identify and mentally take a note on the deviation, so that I dont repeat the mistake. This is quite a PITA process BTW.

Supposing I estimate and quote 'X' hours on a project. The client almost always negotiates and eats up the 10% slack. At times, clients get back claiming that, 'X' hours is unreasonable and that it should have been 'X/5' hours. In some cases, the client genuinely does not know the work involved and is surprised that it could cost so much. In most other cases, some incompetent-nut without knowing the work involved, gives an unrealistic estimate, which the client takes for comparison.

This time, I have been thoroughly annoyed by the way I was questioned. I responded saying that, the estimate holds and that the cost just went up by 30%.

2010-09-03

Another music player

So, on one forgetful day, I had forgetfully drowned my Sansa Clip music player. I cursed myself enough for it. I really hoped that it would come back to life, but it did not. And then started, those nightmarish days of driving without music. My blood pressure kept going high. There was a constant cloud of frustration around me. Even the doctor mentioned that my life-expectancy dropped by 30%. The pay-cheque was playing hardball, so had to wait for a while before I can fix all this.

But then, when I started visiting the stores, it was even worse. Ritchie street (the electronic market in Madras) fellows even claimed that Sandisk buried their loss making 'portable music player' division. And I, this desperate fool trying to locate that Sansa Clip+, was a source of good humor for these guys. Shyte.

Many people have suggested a dozen other players to me. The most famous one being the iPod. :) God. In this day and age, a simple small portable player, with separate volume keys, separate 'next, forward, pause/play' buttons, with a sturdy clip, with a simple text interface to show what is playing (no major jing-bang), with support for OggVorbis, which can play albums as albums, seems impossible to find.

Then, I cut my requirements a bit and decided to pick one of the best that is out there. And, to find a way to live with it. Sigh. So, now.. its a Phillips Spark. It is not bad. It is not great. I can live with it. It has its own set of quirks which makes me swear a dozen times a day.. but definitely better than having nothing.