Thursday, June 25, 2009

Software Development Professionals = Problem Solving Capability

Quite a few people have asked me what does it take to become a software development professional. I have also been asked what should I learn in order to become a software development professional. I think the most important thing that a software development professional should learn is how to be able to solve a problem. It does not matter what means are used in solving the problem, all that matters is if the problem is solved and is it solved in the most efficient manner. The language does not matter, the tools don't matter; just the approach matters.

I had a professor when I did my Masters In Computer Applications - she taught us C, Pascal and Fortran. Yes we had all three languages as one subject in one semester. The teacher who taught us that subject was brilliant. She spent the whole semester teaching us how to solve problems in plain English. That is all we did in class, just solved problems. She taught us the languages for just a few classes. At that time we all thought she was nuts - but I find that what she taught us then is invaluable. I don't use any of the languages that she taught us but I use the problem solving skills that she taught us without which I would not be the software development professional that I am.

So its important to take each problem as a challenge and to attack it with enthusiasm and vigor. You should have the curiosity to solve the problem. You should have the curiosity to investigate how problems have been solved in the past and learn from it. It is very important to be excited when presented with a problem. It should not be a big burden. If you have these kind of thoughts then you are destined to be a great software development professional. Tools and languages are just a means to an end.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Traffic Violators Beware

A couple of years ago I got a notice mailed to my house about a traffic offense that I supposedly committed. I contested that I was not even in that place at that time and I could confidently say this because there was no evidence. I am sure this must have been happening quite a lot. So there was an improvement in the process.

While I was driving through one of the busy junctions in Hyderabad, I watched this police man running behind vehicles photographing them as they commited the offense. I belive that even this could be contested too since you managed to get only a photograph of the vehicle and it would be hard to capture the entire act of the offense being commited as it was a snapshot in time.

There was an idea to put CCTVs at traffic junctions but I am not sure how successful that was as the CCTV would not have really been flexible and the public would have got smart to not commit the offense at the traffic signal.

There is a new trend now that is sure to come to India very soon. Police in Manchester, UK are piloting new CCTV cars to catch drivers using their mobile phones or being otherwise distracted at the wheel. Watch this video from BBC to get an idea of what I am talking about.

This sure is an interesting new trend as they can now position the cameras pretty much anywhere. Hence if you are commiting a traffic offense you can be caught anywhere at any time.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

India's 20-20 Performance

Since every one seems to be having a view about why India did so badly in the T-20 World Cup. I thought I would add my view to all the ones floating around. Right now I'm watching India getting spun out by South Africa and one of the commentators just said, "India has been found lacking in handling the short pitch delivery by West Indies and England and now they are finding it hard against the spinning ball." What an apt statement ! The only countries we beat were Ireland and Bangladesh and that too those wins were not really convincing. So what went wrong after such a successful experience in the IPL?

I don't think it was fatigue as the coach put it. I don't think it was infighting in the team as some of the columnists have been suggesting. I don't think it is the lack of ability as all of them are good cricketers. I think it has to do with what each player learnt about other players from other countries in the IPL and brought back the knowledge to the national team and whether they used that information to plan against the opposition.

West Indies, England and South Africa seemed to have understood the weaknesses of each of our batsmen and they exploited those weaknesses in the conditions that prevailed. They exploited these weaknesses so well that the batsmen found it hard to score runs and very quickly got frustrated and got out. Gambhir, Rohit and Raina were peppered with the short ball and they danced about; Dhoni, Yuvraj and Yousuf were not given width to free their arms and hit the ball. At the same time we just did not have any plans for Peterson, Bravo and AB. These guys were scoring freely and we just did not have an answer. These 3 guys played in the IPL too. Didn't any of our guys identify what is their weakness. I don't believe they do not have any weaknesses. That just cannot be possible. We just did not find them and exploit them.

So is IPL good ? I think yes. It makes business sense. It also makes sporting sense. Its important for us to gather information about each player and make plans for them and practice to exploit those weaknesses. Is it the end of the road for Dhoni's success as captain. I don't think so.  He is an excellent captain and these are external factors that influence the current environment of Indian cricket which he will learn to cope with and underatand and get the better of.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Vanity URLs

If you are part of the whole social networking scene then Vanity URLs seems to be the in thing. The latest to do it after Twitter and Google is Facebook.

My vanity URLs are

Website :
Google :
Facebook :
Twitter :
LinkedIn :

Go get your own vanity URL before your name is not available. You might wonder why get a vanity URL? My reasons are listed below.
  • To be able to send people your profile very easily without having to deal with numbers and special characters in the URL.
  • To make your profile search engine friendly. Since your name appears in the URL and also in the content it has a higher probability of appearing higher in the search results.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Special Characters

If you are a programmer and you get stuck trying to code in HTML a special character you should use this website All you have to do is click on the special character and in the top right hand corner you can ask it for the HTML equivalent for that character.

Learn typing online

You can now learn typing online without installing anything and you can pretty much learn from any computer that has an internet connection. The website keeps track of all your lessons and also tracks your typing speed and your problem areas. For all those that want to learn typing I think this website is a must visit website. The website is

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

New ways of making money : Axis Bank

I logged into my online account on Axis Bank today and this is what I found
They have come up with a new security initiative for doing bank to bank transfers and the user has to pay for it. They do not even give you the option of doing the transaction without using the enhanced security. If you don't use their new security mechanism then you cannot use the bank to bank transfer feature.

I am just amazed at how the banks find new and innovative ways to make money. Also the online transfer on Axis Bank is generally bad. They take ages to transfer money from one bank to another and also the user interface seems to be stuck in the 17th century.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Bing Vs Wave

Or otherwise Microsoft Vs Google. Its becoming an interesting battle between these two giants on the web front and this is my naive initial take after using/seeing demos of these web apps.

Bing. It starts off on the back foot with the name But Its Not Google. Its already comparing itself. Its not diffrentiating itself as something new and exciting which is going to change our lives. Why do we need another search engine that looks similar? Why do we need something to fix something that isn't broken? Although in the initial press release they claimed it can do a lot of things I have not been able to see any of it in action like finding the cheapest tickets and so on. Microsoft claims it to be a decision engine as against a search engine. How can it be a decision engine when I'm the one making all the decisions starting from what to search. For that matter wolfram alpha is a lot more exciting and addictive than Bing.

Wave. After watching the keynote video of Google Wave I could not help but say WOW its just great what this app can do on the web. Google manages to push the boundaries of what one can do with the browser whether it is with the maps, or mail, or photos, or the zillion other things that they do. Its about bringing great technology to the general public to make their lives easier and more exciting. But how is this going to make money for Google? How is it benefiting Google ? Will it make things more complex rather than easier ? Will it start to create more spam and thrash on the web? These are questions that will be answered in time. But for now it is an exciting Wave for developers. It is just so interesting how the boundaries of the internet are being pushed and I am excited to be part of the wave and you can be sure I will be on it as soon as it is released. If you want to ride the wave along with me register for an invite.

Microsoft just proved itself to be a copy cat once again. Google proved itself to be an innovator yet again. Microsoft always manages to copy and then become more popular by hook or by crook. They plan to pump in 100 million dollars into the advertising of this search engine (sorry decision engine). Is google just too smart for Microsoft ? Does Google innovate just too fast for Microsoft to keep up ? All I can say is that this competition is only making things better and more exciting and lets hope it goes on for a long long time.

You do what you are

In the 2001 movie Along came a spider, there is an interesting quote by Morgan Freeman where he says "You do what you are" and the...