Saturday, December 15, 2007

2007 review and 2008 preview

Reflecting on the year that passed, the 365 days that were granted and what was done with each day ... personally I achieved an intangible goal. The world of knowledge around us condition us to look (not necessarily see) hear (not necessarily listen) at many things in a short span of time. To be in control of the stimuli around, was my number one priority in the year that passed. I can say that I have become 10% better. Less clutter has created clarity and focus for me.

Professionally, I strived to experiment with different technologies directly affecting the product that I am working on. The most eminent was to improve consumability of the product by adding a customer perspective to any new product feature. The number of products loaded with features but unable to properly function the basic operation attest to loss of feedback during the product development and design cycle. If Agile methodology achieves the theory that it is based on --LEAN-- we may see a boost in hours spent on creating rather than maintaining. In short it will create a happier (less disgruntled by having to debug problems that should have been detected) work force and less stressful work environment.

Artistically, I continued dancing. It was an honor to be able to learn from the talented artists this city contains for yet another year.

In the coming year, as a system we will continue to make mistakes. The world around us will continue to suffer from another year of lack of respect and tolerance for differences. The only hope for us, global village dwellers, is project green. Being conscious of the environment and nature can provide all a neutral platform to make peace amongst us and with the planet.

Wishing you all a GREAT 2008!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The other travel story!

The second leg of the trip was Tehran, Iran. When the plane landed the commotion amongst women was noticeable. The head scarves were flying out of the bag, spun in the air and hung around the neck. Then they were pulled over the head and tied tightly. A group of foreign women had the hardest time completing this procedure. They were frustrated by the ordeal and unable to keep the scarf on. Why do we all have to conform? No idea! Who am I to contend? No idea, again!

The streets of Tehran are crowded. To get to their destination, people patiently wait hours for the bus, taxi, metro or in cars stuck in traffic. I don't know if these words are compelling enough to convey the really chaotic condition of the traffic in Tehran. The side effect: you've got a city that its air pollution level is unacceptably high. Elders and children should wear mask.
Like any other big city, Tehran has to accommodate its exponentially growing population. Unfortunately, this has translated into tearing down houses and building 5+ story apartments. The city used to boast beautiful fruit gardens in the northern part; now there is only a few of those left. Space is hot commodity and greed a trend.

But, I can't say enough good things about the taste of produce. The tomatoes, cucumbers, the sweet lemon (yes there is such thing as sweet lemon), the fresh pistachio and so on; it's all so very good! Going to a house of kebab is a must. There are many restaurants spread through out the city that serve traditional food.

They say action speaks louder than words. In Tehran the reverse is true. Visit a bank and you may see what I mean. From the time you stand at the counter, in front of the teller, in what seems to be a line, but in fact it is more like a congregation, to the time your business is completed and you leave the bank you observe the teller engages in greetings with more than a dozen of the customers, shaking head and/or hand while working. It's amazing how much personal relationship is mixed with professional. Be prepared, because you never know who will open up to you and tell you her life story/problems or offer advice! Here people are engaged and involved in each others lives. It's an insult moreover futile to say "butt out". Good or bad?

With its fantastic geographical location, abundant resources, growing educated population, unique business and personal culture; Iran remains an interesting enigma to me. Regardless, I will unconditionally love it because that's where I was born!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Travel Stories from Paris!

I truly shone in using my French. My teach yourself French book didn't leave my sight during the flight, okay so I dozed off a few times, spent some time eating my meal, which by the way I had to choose al a carte from le menu provided by the elegant Air France air host and was distracted a few times by the in flight movie, License to Wed, which was a ridiculously futile attempt at creating a romantic comedy --apart from all this I was studiously and diligently studying my French. Needless to say that on my first day; at Chateau de Versailles and in need to find a washroom, I asked "Who is the toilet?" instead of "Where is the toilet?". Fabulous! I have to admit though, it is very true that learning a language where it is spoken is more effective. From pronunciation to sentence structure, all can be learned more efficiently, and in my case memorably, while interacting with and/or listening to native speakers.

The "Top 10 Paris" book, Mike Gerrard & Donna Dailey, was my number one --the best-- asset on this trip. Thank you Lisa, for lending your book to me. 10 is the magic number when you are spending a limited time there, because the number of things to see and do in Paris is just overwhelming. We spent 5 days, I am telling you we squeezed every minute in an hour, and thanks to this book, efficiently rode le Metro but still we ran out of time. Pick up the latest edition, because admission fees and hours of operation change on a yearly basis.

When is the best time to travel to Paris? The number one inhibitor in seeing the sights is the wait time in the queues to get ticket, except for du Musee du Louvre which has efficiently turned its ticket kiosks to ticket dispenser machines. Before traveling I heard and read horrifying stories how can this gobble up one's time; we are talking about hours of wait time. I guess traveling during off season saves one both money and time. We were there the first week of October and the maximum time we spent in any line was 45 minutes and that was to get to the top of Eiffel tower. Besides the weather was not too bad. It rained only once in the evening and the rest it was partly sunny part cloudy with temperatures in the 20C/68F range.

Where to stay? Every provision has been made to make a tourist's stay both affordable and memorable. After all, this city has not become a major tourist attraction yesterday; they have years and years of experience and have perfected the art of accommodating tourists of all ages, tastes with different budgets. It is helpful, however, if you decide on where you want to stay before looking for "accommodation Paris" on the Internet, hit the travel section of your public library or walk in any travel agency. le Seine has divided this city into the right and left bank. Top destinations on the left bank are:

  • Eiffel Tower
  • Musee d'Orsay
  • Napeleon's Tomb and Hotel des Invalides
  • Musee du Louvre
  • Basilique du Sacre-Couer
  • Arc de Triomphe

Top destinations on the right bank are:
  • Champs Elysees
  • Avenue Montaigne
  • Place de La Concorde
  • L'Opera
  • Montmartre
We stayed at one of Cistadines Apart 'Hotels, equipped with a kitchenette. I'd say this setting is more suitable for longer duration visits. Nevertheless it worked well for us. We had a grand breakfast, crepe, baguette, croissant and delicious very fatty French fromage, every morning.

What is the best way to get around? Given that we arrived early in the week, Tuesday, our best bet was to purchase Carte Orange for 32.10 euro. We conveniently hopped on and off train and/or bus without having to worry about zones and exact change. Carte Orange Covers zones 1-6. This includes CDG airport and Chateau De Versailles.

Why visit Paris? Paris is viewed by many as the most splendid and attractive city in Europe, if not the world. No matter if you go for business or pleasure, your visit to Paris will leave you with deep impressions, from the fashions of the Champs-Elysees to the arts of the Louvre; from the rich history of the Notre Dame cathedral to the modern design of the Centre Georges-Pompidou to the relaxed air of a small cafe -- Paris truly has something to offer everyone.

Viva La Paris!


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Saturday morning musing

The 60 year old who took an early retirement and has been running a farm in Vermont for the past 12 years, talked about it being 14 hours a day work --more or less like the corporate world he retired from but much in a different way. Here he can stop and relax, alongside his wife, for a taste of cheese they make on the farm. Although, the routine repeats everyday but he feels happier and healthier --less stressed.

I admire people who take a leap of faith, open a new chapter, turn their life upside down and start fresh.

For me the days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months too quickly to spare me moments to think about the future in a profound, focused way --that famous (rather out-dated interview question) where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 15 years.

Just this past month I spent many unaccounted hours on promoting a series of seminars on communication and softskills. The launch was a significant event so was the positive feedback of attendees! It was a desirable outcome for 6 months of brainstorming with Vicki, Manager of Professional Development and Career Services at Ontario Society of Professional Engineers, about the course, instructor, logistics, PR and etc. TV producer, Stacie Overton, of Ivanhoe Broadcast company, found the idea interesting enough to do a show for their Smart Women series. This idea is still being discussed between Stacie and Ayla Tezcan the instructor but I very much hope it takes off.

I am going to wrap up my Saturday morning musing with a funny quote from Mickey Rooney:
"Always get married early in the morning. That way, if it doesn't work out, you haven't wasted a whole day."

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Operation Green Ontario

Ontario will invest $79 million in planting 50 million trees--this is the largest pledge to the UN campaign to build a billion trees world wide.
It is estimated that adding this many trees will reduce Ontario's CO2 emission by the amount generated by 172 million cars for 100 km by 2054.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Startup weekend

If I told you that a company was to be established from ground up during a weekend would you be intrigued to know more? Or would you casually dismiss the idea as impossible! Well, if you are in the second group I have news for you --that it is possible. Check out This is not the whole story. There is more to come.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Bjarn's visit

The room was packed and yet people were still arriving. They were sitting on the floor in whatever space available between the seats. No one considered leaving. The C++ enthusiasts were adamant to see and hear the father and inventor of the language.

There are always a few who rise to occasion. They brought down the projector from their labs, found a bigger lecture room. Thanks to the help of a few students and T.A.s of University of Toronto, 15 minutes later a 140 people capacity lecture room was filled with eager listeners and the lecture was under way.

Dr. Stroustrup's visit was part of C++0x standard committee meeting. He spoke about the good, bad and ugly of C++ programming language.

With billions lines of code and 300 million C++ developers around the world there is an enormous range of features that can potentially become part of the language standard. How can the standard keep all happy?

There are plenty of suggestions for new features to be implemented in C++0X standard. "We shouldn't just implement new features. We should first ask what kind of problem does this feature solve and how it is going to be useful to the general users," Stroustrup said in his presentation.

Support for a memory model for parallel programming, communication protocols, safe STL, more generic programming and etc. are all being reviewed by the committee. Fans of garbage collection will be disappointed, as chances of this feature making it in this revision is slim.

The committee promises completion by the end of the decade, hence the name, C++0X. Although, there is a possibility of using hex values --that is if they don't make it by 2009. One way or another this is an exciting event for all C++ developers.

As a C++ compiler tester I am equally interested to see how fast we get these features implemented in the products we support.

It is going to be an interesting ride for many of us. So better stay tuned.

The event was made possible by IEEE Toronto Computer Chapter.

Note: Photo is courtsety of Evgeny Polkovnikov, Software Developer, certicom

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Bottled water no longer hot

Bottled water is being added to the list of things bad for the environment. After being around for as long as I can remember they are being criticized for their adverse effects on environment. Considering the amount of green house gases produced and amount of energy consumed for their production and distribution, it is hard to drink water out of a bottle without the guilt feeling of the damage they cause the environment. Watch out for cities like San Francisco and Salt Lake City that are jumping on the vagabond of banning the bottled water. The bottle water industry has to find creative ways to survive the bad rap.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

CN Tower Illuminated

Just when every major city in North America, including Toronto, is trying to conserve, NY City has a mandate to convert all its yellow cabs to hybrid and San Francisco is cutting greenhouse gas by 25% by 2020,we hear CN Tower, the world's tallest building today (553 m), is getting a face lift which involves being outfitted with LED lights that shoot up the elevator shaft over the "bubble" and straight to the mast. Just how much watts per day are we talking about? But, wait! Apparently the LEDs are high tech --they consume 60% less than when the tower was last fully lit in the 1990s. I think it's okay then?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Here's a green ... there's a green ... everywhere's a green

People have gone completely "green mad". Every other page of a recent issue of a local newspaper contained one or two articles on environmental friendly topics. From green fashion to green spring cleaning tips and ideas, you name it; it was covered!

Later, I heard on BBC radio, that people are lining up to buy, get this, a designer shopping bag, that says, "I am not a plastic bag". They drive their not so environmentally friendly cars to the stores that have these bags on sale--5 pounds each--and then drive back home. All stores are now sold out of this item!

Don't get me wrong. I am a true believer that it is our duty to utilize natural resources responsibly. If we don't run out of the resources we have available, in our time; our children and children's children more likely will.

But, what surprises me is how majority of us advocate a cause only if and when the image is "cool".

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

World Laughter Day

Not too long ago a friend stunned me with existence of Hot Yoga, and today I learn about Laughter Yoga which is so difficult to imagine, considering some of the yoga positions are so hard to sustain that it actually brings tears to eyes. But, that is not the whole story, with that came the realization of World Laughter Day, which is on May 6--next Sunday. I take laughter or a genuine smile over a blank, expressionless or serious frown every second of every day. It's amazing what a difference it makes when you smile and laugh from your heart.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Paper or plastic?

Taking public transit to work could be such fun but at times irritating, I mean how many of you have had the pleasure of listening to someone else’s eating or ipod--these are the two I have experienced--while traveling to work and probably trying to catch up on your sleep or meditate about the day ahead.

Today the guy behind me was having his breakfast as if he is having it in front of a loud speaker. It reminded me of Lynn Truss’ book, Talk to the Hand, saying that many people have adopted the self-absorbed attitude of the worst role model in the world, Bart Simpson –My bubble, my rules and if you don’t like it, you know where to go!

On a different note, it was in the news that San Francisco is imposing a ban on plastic bags. The law passed 10-to-1. I wonder what the one person opposing the law had to say. Well, this wasn’t mentioned, very typical journalism style. Why waste the precious space to talk about the 1 opposing. It’s great that we are trying to conserve but let’s just not be too hasty. In the 80’s the paper bag was replaced by plastic bag. Ever asked why? Well maybe the following data from can shed some light:

“When it comes to reducing solid waste, bigger definitely isn't better. The less material you use to make a package, the less waste you have to recycle or dispose of after you've used (and reused) it. Take a look at how the facts stack up for plastic bags.

  • The smaller volume of plastic bags can help conserve landfill space. Nothing degrades fast enough to extend the useful lives of modern U.S. landfills...not paper, not plastics, nothing, according to Dr. William Rathje of the University of Arizona Garbage project.
  • 30 percent less material is used to produce today's plastic bag than the bags made just five years ago
  • Compared to paper grocery bags, plastic grocery bags:
    • Consume 40 percent less energy than paper
    • Generate 80 percent less solid waste
    • Produce 70 percent fewer atmospheric emissions
    • Release up to 94 percent fewer waterborne wastes “

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Today is Eddie's Birthday..

Five people five lessons narrated beautifully in an engaging story.

As I flipped the pages I learned to anticipate—eagerly, patiently—who Eddie is going to meet next.

Eddie “Maintenance” is the stronger of the two sons who would have done anything to get his father’s attention; in return for a bit of a fatherly love. Eddie’s story unravels in three time eras, Eddie’s present on earth, his present in heaven and his past. You bond with Eddie and perhaps often find yourself identifying with his story –shaking your head—you’ve been there, done that, felt it! No life is wasted. There is meaning and purpose to each and every one of our lives. We might not know it at this time. Does heaven, after life, exist to help us make sense of it all?

Mitch Albom’s “The Five People you Meet in Heaven” is a great read!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Image converter

Recently, I needed an image converter to convert gif to eps format. 2 out of 3 applications I tried didn't work.

First I tried Doc-Print v3.3 provided on The binary was relatively small and downloaded in few seconds--on a broadband connection. The set up was fast and within few clicks the software seemed to be good to go. The application needed a machine restart to complete installation --although a nuisance but shutting down all windows and open applications deemed to be a very small price to pay to achieve the goal. After restarting the computer, I tried it out anxiously. To my surprise the application didn't start. The window flashed and disappeared. So, I used the uninstall exe provided by the software to uninstal --I had to manually remove a config.ini from under the program directory and then remove the program directory.

I moved on to my ImageMagick, next link on the Google search result page. This one took a while to just load up the mirror sites. I quickly moved on.

The third link, however, was the winner, Advanced Batch Converter 3.9. The downloaded took a few seconds. Installation was quick. It didn't require a machine restart. The application was user friendly. Under 5 minutes, I had my gif image converted to eps! :)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

.. what do you know?!

... especially if someone tries to knock you down a peg or two; as long as you are respectful of other people, defending your position is the right thing -- even a noble thing -- to do.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

An Inconvenient Truth

It was so pleasant hearing the birds chirp on my way to work yesterday. But, it struck me that how odd it is to have this lovely experience early February in a city that is notorious for its long and rough winters.
What is portrayed in the eco-documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, made my hair stand on end. It is too much to take in 90 minutes but the irony is what Al Gore presents eloquently and with excellent visual effects in 90 minutes is the consequence of our doing in the past 90-100 years.
We have come to believe that terrorism is the 21st century's biggest threat. But what we will be facing as a result of global warming is far more serious. We notice the unusual changes in weather, the arrival of invasive insect species, the extinction of some of the species and the spread of disease all around us.
The good thing is we can reverse the effect of green house gases by controlling the emission of carbon dioxide.
As individuals we are contributors to the global warming hence we can be part of the solution. Become part of the solution today!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


It finally arrived ... with neither a warning nor a delay ... as always on time. So, we have to start getting used to starting our letters and signing our checks with 2007 dates ... that's a challenge. Other than that ... hmmm ... I don't know ... are we supposed to feel any different ... I mean other than the fact that we are now officially one year older ... which could be both good and bad :)