Monthly Archives: March 2012

Rainy Day Saturday

Weather here is rain basically. We seem to be making up for almost summer-like weather in December and January with more rain now. Seasons are all screwy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Means rain will be with us through today it appears.

Its also Saturday morning after my evening libations. Last night I drank Sapporo beer which always takes me back to Japan as I sit in the command and control center here. Really nothing to command and control. My daughter does not really take that kind of direction any more unless I take her out to eat somewhere. Then I can continue to tease her with no mercy. After awhile though she gives up on it and goes off to find something else

I was also sitting here considering the end and beginning of new things. My current contract ends now in late April. I’ve enjoyed the work there quite a bit and its given me sanity. I have a few possibilities and just finished a interview with an interesting company that have invited me to the next step which is a in-person interview in SF. This is a full-time job and not consulting. Not sure whether I want that or not. I’m actually hoping that the current company can cook up something else that will give me six months to a year of contracting with them. Microsoft is a good employer and working in their IT organization is no different than working in any other IT group. Same challenges, personalities, dynamics. IT groups are rather strange by their nature since their customers are other internal groups. It makes for an interesting dynamic. I have been told I made the current project succeed so I hope that going forward my management team will write good reviews when or if I move on.

Phone Upgrades

Its time for me to upgrade I feel. I have had the Sensation phone for a year almost now. It still is quite satisfying but I get tired of HTC posturing its Sense solutions over what I consider to be a vastly superior AOSP. So I bought this phone:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I will qualify for an upgrade from Tmobile in another 3 months as well so I will probably get the newly announced Tmobile G4X which is not the LG thing but will be the Tmobile branded version of the HTC 1x. The 1x is the new flagship set of phones that HTC is hoping gives it its place back at the head of the herd. They’v e rumored that this phone will not have Sense on it. I’m still waiting to see how the whole root thing works on it. I won’t do the HTC Dev thing because unlocking the boot loader does not equal the freedom of S-OFF whatsoever. HTC gave us a half-way solution to me with this unlocking thing. I want the phone to be mine and not have HTC tracking when I do things with it.

I don’t know that I will stay with Samsung but I do know that I like the Nexus line because it promises only AOSP and full functioning.

Debian versus Ubuntu 

I’ve read that Ubuntu is getting ready to release Ubuntu 1204. I’ve left that camp after some years of following each release. I don’t like the weight of the distribution on my older ThinkPads. On my T60 it labors to run Ubuntu with Unity and going without Unity makes little sense to me when I can just follow a distribution which rolls and never releases which is what I really want. Debian Testing does just that for me. It never finishes. Releases come and go every few years for Debian; but Testing is Testing.

Definitely stick with the one you use. I cannot use RPM based distributions at all. I seem to be able to break those. I have principles against Oracle and RedHat Linux but that does not mean you should not use what fits. The most thing is to use and even abuse Linux. Make it yours. Break it, fix it. Perhaps do those things in a VirtualBox guest though :-)

Closers

So its still raining and I am somewhat dreaming of other days. I remember waking up in so many different places on the first day there. Chennai was one of my favorite places to wake up. The sunrises always astounded me looking out the window of the Raintree Hotel. Singapore got light later when it was fashionable I think. The streets were clean. I could walk anywhere. Tokyo could start with rain showers but by noon time it would change and I could venture forth on a daily walking trip.I remember a few trips to Japan like the last one to Kyoto that really were highlights. I enjoyed Kyoto immensely.

To say I miss all that would be an understatement. But I also understand there are challenges here to keep. Miles to go before I sleep.

Comments Off

Filed under Android, Current Events, Linux

Recruiters, Technology, and PMs

Since I am a consultant, I get the calls from recruiters telling me what a great match I am for “some position”. it seems there are a few basic statements I hear from them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

See if you agree:

Can you “doctor your resume” to say that you can do X and Y? Just say you are learning or on a career path that will take you there.

Can you be available at a moment’s notice for an interview? You are a great fit so just say all the right things in the interview and its yours!

You are a project manager? You know anything about change management and risk avoidance?

What type of project management do you do? Waterfall, Agile?

Hmm. For the first one, I really never doctor my resume to say that I know stuff that I don’t know. For the second part, I can be available but many of the recruiters think I will just leave a job I have for some other potential job which has no guarantee. So I won’t do that because I am loyal to my current employer and it happens that I like Microsoft as an employer compared to my last place which practiced a completely dys-functional method. For the third one, all I can say is “duh”. For the last one, I could do them if you want. Do you know what they mean?

I got the last question for this emergency project with a Bay area technology startup that wanted someone to come on board to blame for a move which had to be done in two months. Project Managers are always good to blame seems to me. Especially if they’re only consultants and the project has so many intricacies that two months simply won’t do it. Then, you find some poor slob PM and tell him “you are responsible”. Building the guy to fail basically.

Here is my motto with project management:

You manage the people and you manage the process.

Period. That’s it. Everything else; whether you are PMP certified or want to be to take care of one of the points above is fluff. I’ve met more than my fair share of PMP certified PMs that could not rack a server and I’ve met some that are extraordinarily gifted. When I did archeology we joked about archeologists that got their Phd. They were “piled higher and deeper” or “post hole diggers”. They somehow did not get the fieldwork part of things and wanted the lab or a classroom. We all laughed at them.

So it comes down to two guiding principles above. Lose the people part of things and the process will suffer. Lose the process and the people will suffer.

Thanks to the best goldanged PMP PM I ever met. Caro at IBM. She had the whole management thing down.

Comments Off

Filed under Ideas

Xoom for a Year

I’ve had the Motorola Xoom for a year now. Its gone through a few software updates and then early this year it got the Android Ice Cream Sandwich update via over the air. Each update has made the Xoom more appealing to me and the number of market applications which are made for the Xoom have gone up.

On a recent trip to India, Japan, and Singapore, I took the Xoom only and skipped the laptop. This worked out really well for me since everywhere I went there was wireless. In India, I got a simcard from my good friend Dinesh and then shared that network connection with the Xoom. Traveling though was great. The Xoom was a perfect form factor to use on airplanes or waiting rooms. I cannot think of a real downside to the Xoom. Perhaps my use cases will help others see the value and what the Xoom brings:

  • Reading  news. I enjoy reading news via the excellent World Newspapers android application on the Xoom. I also use the Google Chrome beta to read news from news.google.com. I do not however read books too often unless I am traveling and do not want to use the Kindle. I can read for hours on the Xoom but I’m used to my Kindle for reading.
  • Browsing on the web. I think the tablet is a great platform for browsing and simply enjoying a few moments with Google Chrome beta to keep caught up with a variety of sites. I get my bookmarks sync’ed to it by simply logging in when I install it. Sometimes though I want to use the default browser for its rather fast and unfettered display. The Xoom is a great web browsing experience I believe.
  • Tools Use. I have a variety of tools I like to use on the Xoom. I like Connectbot for an SSH terminal on it. With Connectbot I can reach my Linux servers at home when on the road or at a coffee shop. I also use a few other tool type applications but perhaps the greatest app on any Android phone or tablet is maps. If there is one tool which I would call killer its maps on an android phone. To round out the tools, I also have use of reaching a Windows 7 desktop sometimes so I use Splashtop Remote to do that. Splashtop has the best remote display I have ever seen for Windows systems and its made for tablet displays. I open a port on my firewall, install the server piece on the Windows desktop, and off I go. I can connect over wifi to a Windows 7 desktop, open office files, print at home. Other most excellent tools in this category are the Evernote client, Dropbox, and my chosen office suite which can read from dropbox by installing support for that client. I can list these out but you can find them easily.
  • Fun. Games I play are many on the Xoom and I won’t try to list them all. I do like Simcity for the tablet and some card games, chess, some racing games and a few others. I am not a big game player though so the games come when they come.

I have never evaluated any other tablet like the New iPad because everything I want is on the Xoom and I personally prefer open platforms to closed silos. Android is not perfect though. It has hiccups. Sometimes an app misbehaves or requires closing. I can multitask across a few applications though.

So for me, the basic Xoom android tablet, unrooted has great business and personal use factors. Its not a bigger cell phone. Its a work and play solution but its a portable system able to do complex work tasks for me. I don’t need a bigger cell phone. My android phone does very well dialing numbers, keeping track of where I am when actually on the go. Its really up to each and every one of you that decide to tablet. I would always try to list the use cases. If you want the cloud, Android tablets have had cloud access for a long time. Much longer than the IPads. You may have to use a few different tools like Dropbox and AmazonMp3. This has not posed an issue for me and I can play my 50g of music on my 4G phone connection as well as on the tablet’s wifi.

Probably the other great tool is my Tmobile 4g mifi device which has saved me and my friends a few times. Having a 4g device which can share via wireless really frees one to use the cloud wherever I find myself here in the states just about. On the road, tethering my phone is great. I did this in Chennai to share my phone’s 3g connection there with the Xoom.

Try spelling out your reasons for the tablet and see what you come up with. Is the answer you just want one? Well, I just wanted one first but its become more for me these days.

Comments Off

Filed under Android

Work Things

I’ve been working for 4 months now for the so-called Evil Empire or the big software company of the North. Their name is Microsoft. People have asked how I could possibly go to work there. Lets be clear folks. There is survival where basic needs are taken care of but not much else. Conditions may suck. How you interact with colleagues may suck. Working conditions may be less than stellar. This was the case at my previous place. I could only take so much blame and I guess i was an easy target. So I look at the departure there as the best possible course of events for both parties. Now we come to Microsoft.

There is no blame there.No one says a thing is my fault. Instead I am told “we are a team; we solve things as a team”. But I also am allowed some individual methods for exactly how I manage my project. No one tells me crap like you have to do things this way or no way. So, if this is an evil empire; I’ll take it over the last place.

Microsoft also has a pretty good grasp on PMO practices which means I fit into a management team where I can call on a rich and diverse set of colleagues to solve issues. I get to deal with literally hundreds of developers, solutions managers, group directors, vendors, partners, and a variety of constituents that support us like construction and facilities management. This is a place I played before at the GAP. We had this entire procurement and vendor management strategy down.

So, basically there are a few things with this. I’ve worked at a number of so-called open source or Linux startups. I am not going there again. Each one had a piece of hell on earth. Levanta had even more. We had the perfect storm there of spite, hate, and even name-calling by certain company management. They could not see the value in what we delivered but they wanted it nonetheless. Strange business being this was the reincarnation of the fun and funky Linuxcare.

I don’t have my next steps planned. Will Microsoft offer me something else? Could be. Would I move? Refuse to answer on the grounds of nothing is set. If I do decide to move though it will be up to Redmond to work for awhile. Because like I said, there is survival and then there is happiness at work. The last time I was truly happy at work was at Celestix Networks. Before that at Visa. Celestix is fading away unfortunately. I won’t say more. Just take my word for it. You will see something transpiring with the “little company that could have made a difference”. Visa, on the other hand, was powerful. They knew what they wanted and moved with a purposeful stride to get there.

So when its money, security, happiness and I blend all those things; Microsoft works for me. Startups have not. Sorry everyone for bursting your bubbles about how locked in I am to Linux. I go to work to make money, get some security. The other good thing is when I leave there. There are no eleven hour days there. No skype calls at 11pm. No blame factor. No hatred, apathy, and distrust. Take it from me; you do what you both need to do and want to do.

Microsoft saved me during a difficult period in my life. I appreciate that immensely so will give all the gold and diamonds to them.

Comments Off

Filed under Current Events

Damn, Deepak was right

So I lasted this time some bit of time longer without blogging. But, its like social constipation. I start getting full and there is no outlet. The blog is gone. Blech. So I decide lets get it going again and I realize that my friend Deepak will say:

“Told you so”

Okay. So you were right :-)

A few other updates…

Since I’m back, I’m gonna wax poetic on a few things. I’ve seen the new iPad. It looks impressive but it suffers basically from the same thing that all of Apple’s products end having. Its like the promise before the release and the hype. Then when you wait for the “precise and beautiful” it never really is what they have said it would be. It can have the nicest display and the fastest processors and the best graphics. But you still need an iTunes to make it zing. An ex fanbois told me its not the OSX, the IOS, the iPod. The entire ecosystem at Apple is iTunes. Really kind of sad. At its best its a lousy media manager. At its worst, it keeps all your devices in perpetual slavery. Sorry guys. I’ll always opt for a mp3 player that becomes a USB drive and I can do an rsync command on.

Marriage is almost over. Lets be honest here. It was probably almost over years ago when I got back from India then. Someone asked me if I had known then would I have opted out of the year or so in Chennai? No f’ing way. I learned something that would have been hidden from me. I saw the true grit of a person. August 16th is my last day and then I get whatever of my life is left back. I get to find something within myself that’s worth it and get passionate. Somewhere along the line I lost all that. Perhaps its in the 66% of marriages that fail when you are on your second one.

I took a second job doing release management for a small company here. I will earn enough to buy some stuff I want and it protects me from android starvation. Face it, new phones are coming out and later this year I will ship off the Sensations I have to some friends in Chennai and most likely move to the  new HTC G4X which will run a vanilla AOSP build by default. Deepak, you are gonna have to wait until May and then we need to figure out how I can get the HTC Sensations to you guys :-)

One last thing. I got to see my friend Art Tyde this week. We had lunch at work and it was so nice. It had become the reality before that I saw Art more in Singapore and Japan than here. We got to catch up, talk about technology, life in general. Very nice.

2 Comments

Filed under Weblogs

Zen beats

Life is a drumbeat of pace, rhythm, soul, desire, fulfillment. With a vicious circle that swings around on you and makes you just want more. It laughs at you just out of your reach. Make you want things you cannot have and have things you don’t want. Then it becomes all serious and your life sinks like a stone and you rise like the reds and oranges of a chennai morning.

Soon though you have reached the zenith. Then you know that the zenith is just a momentary stop to another climb and descent. And such is life as well as this blog. This blog has no purpose. It’s Zen is to only humor me, let me capture to it. So dear friends I have decided to end this blog. This is the very last post. Tonight at 10pm pacific I will do a graceful shutdown of gondor which is the host of this site. It’s a hard working debian testing server.

Thanks everyone for reading, contributing, laughing, crying. It’s been fun but I gotta run.

1 Comment

Filed under Weblogs

Enter The Regular and Normal

Apple sues Motorola. Samsung sues Apple. Yahoo! sues Facebook. Apple just decides to sue ____________. Then _____________ decides to counter-sue for patent infringement. We find out next that Apple has registered patents for basic shapes like rectangles, circles and squares. That’s why I cannot show them here due to the threat of rectangular or circular lawsuit by Apple.

I am no longer amazed by all this. Its become regular and normal for anyone to sue anyone when they feel the fear or they  want to make a mark on some other poor company. Perhaps because of data like this for worldwide adoption of Android.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No one would have believed this a few years ago. But that’s before Apple decided it really owns the IP for rectangles and circles. So, if you are gonna invent a new telephone or tablet make sure its not rectangular or square with bezels. Because apple owns bezels too and slide unlocks and just about everything that ain’t locked down.

But what I really know is that this assuredly is not regular and normal. Its stupid and it wastes so much time and money and its the mark of a nervous company that’s lost its share of mind and market. Here’s a hint apple. Stop the stupid lawsuits and focus on product innovation, mkay? You’ll get more loyal customers when you offer compelling technology and innovation instead of everyone wondering who you will sue next.

Taking on Samsung is folly. Samsung can out-product you apple. They can release 30 for every 1 of your products. Focus on making your products better for what they offer. Stunning UI, better integration, use-case adoption and open use of the cloud. Not just the iCloud. We all want choice.

Soon we will not be able to use triangles either or fractions or decimals. its the just the beginning of the “new regular and normal”. Enjoy the iRide.

Edit Update: I included the wrong market share graphic. This is the Gartner estimate which everyone has seen which shows the elemental rise of Android and the corresponding decline of others. Why? What makes it so?

Choice. Choice is the regular and normal folks.

Comments Off

Filed under Android, Current Events

Consider all

In life we’re given alternatives. Buy this phone. Support that computer maker. Wear these jeans. We can pick and choose our favs as well as our hates. We do it with the power of the pocketbook. I think we like choice. It’s the same with how our human landscapes work. People enter, stay, leave our orbits often by choice but sometimes by chance too. Some of my heroes were loners. Their life was not judged by its impact on others. Instead, they wished to take on life directly or person to person. I’ve long been convinced that all those social mongers who preach at me to be aware of the other person’s feelings are really full of shit.

Primarily they are full of it because no one can truly take on the aspect of another. We can’t and should not attempt to walk even a single foot in the shoes of another let alone a mile. I’ve also come to realize I don’t like the vast majority of people. Nothing against you all but you all have sets of problems, issues that are yours. Best left that way too I think.

I’m not saying this to be mean or egotistical even if I come across that way. We all truly live individual lives no matter how much you want to be the Social Man. It won’t work sorry. You all are bound in your individual lives and one day deaths. People enter and leave your orbits. You may let them in for awhile.

We are solitary soldiers of the universe. Churches, institutions all come and go. Your spark burns bright. But one day it will dim. Who is to say if you did lead lives of quiet desperation like Thoreau warned.

Take that home and smoke it.

Comments Off

Filed under Current Events, Subterfuge

A simple iJoy

First you take a iPod Classic 160gb that I had bought in Chennai some years ago to replace a failing mp3 player. I then discovered that it was very difficult to actually get music onto it unless I had iTunes somewhere. I had a ubuntu laptop only so had to monkey with gtkpod. What i really want is to hook up the ipod to a computer and run something like

rsync -aHpv --ignore-existing /data/mp3s/ /media/ipod/Music/

And not have to do fancy, smancy GUI magic. I wanted Rockbox!

 

 

 

 

In the past, with my iPod videos, getting RockBox on them was simple actually. Download the zip archive and unzip right onto the ipod. Pretty much done. So what’s the wonder there, you ask? Well, no more GUI tools to get the music onto it. No more stupid database. A simple command would do it. But here I had my iPod classic 160gb player which seemed invulnerable to rockboxing. Until I happened to find this. I have to admit to enjoying the iPod hardware but hating the native OS and its brainless method of trying to protect its garden against intrusion by other firmware really sucked.

But, hey, this is Linux and open source so knowing how smart ahd resourceful these guys are; it was a matter of time before I could rockbox my classic. It does wipe all the music off; but I wanted to do that anyways so I could rsync the fresh bits and bytes. So now, the music I have is getting rsync’ed to the Rocbox on my classic. No more stupid and hapless firmware on the Classic. I get the simple access like a USB drive, rsync and command line tools if I want, but most of all its another de-applefied device I own. Vast pleasure!

Reading about its functionality, it appears battery life might be a bit less with the Rockbox firmware compared to the native. Only 12 hours or so versus the 16 to 18 with the native crap on it. I figure its worth the few hours less to get rid of the MacinCrap on it and actually get some use out of it. I’ll always prefer using some command-line tool like screen and rsync to get music on a device versus using some GUI thing. Thanks to the guys that makes this possible. That write things that disrupt the norm. Thanks for Linux as the biggest damn disruption agent on the block. What it does, it does well. Mounts just about any file system, cracks the ipods. Makes life that much more fun in the evenings.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Linux

Starbucks standing

I’m writing this using the wordpress android app on my Xoom. At a starbucks after deciding to split from work early today. My contract at Microsoft is down to about 5 weeks. I met with my recruiter and account manager today as well. I may be in line for more work but it may require relocation to Washington state. They want to know my interest level. Given the situation at home and having stayed in Seattle for some months before seems like a no brainer.

There are always issues with this kinda stuff though. People, time, space can all interfere with the best made plans of the mike force. Truth be told, Microsoft treats me very well. They are honest unlike the previous experience. They tell me they appreciate me. Now I’m shocked! Finally the work is good. If I can stay as a consultant I’d like it even better. Being away from the bay area even better.

We shall see.

So I came to starbucks with a quest today. The no workie, no responsibility thang. Lost in a world of my making. No excel spreadsheets, no business or stakeholder calls. Time to consider things. What do I want? Where do I want it? I know I want a month long trip this year. I want to get back to japan and on to china. How does it all come together though?

Don’t know. Can’t tell. Requires more starbucks time…

1 Comment

Filed under Current Events