Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What and who is making news today

While the commuters shift from buses and trains to work to buses and trains to the malls, the earth rotates its last few trips around the sun for 2009. Newsmakers are making news and newspapers are still printing them regardless.
On December 21, 2009,
A village in China uses pig excrement as a source of energy.

A couple of researchers from UofT School of business have found that the more committed to buying green products and saving the planet, the more likely we are to cheat, lie, steal and be selfish. They indicate in their paper, to be published in the journal of Physiological Science, that, “…when we engage in actions that give us some kind of moral, warm glow –let’s call it that –that afterwards we are more likely to transgress.”

Sadly Brittany Murphy, fell to her death at the age of 32. She was famous for being in Hollywood movies such as: Clueless, 8 Mile and Sin City.

And in Toronto, the street car service on St. Clair Avenue West resumes. This is great news for the residents who have been living the construction havoc for the past years.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Why should we know history?

He raised his hand. Someone passed him the mic. Now we could all hear him loud and clear. "Why do so many people know about the massacre of Jews by the Nazi Germany and only few know about Japan's atrocities in China during the Japan-China war?", he asked her.

She answered with a question. "Why do so few people know about history? Why is history not taught in school any more?"

The crowd seemed to agree. Many shook heads disapproving the current wide-spread ignorance towards history.

But, how has the knowledge of history helped us along the way. Having the experience of two world wars, two nuclear bombs explosions, apartheid, and the cold war has not made the world a more peaceful, more secure, more accepting and respectful of differences.

The past has not taught us anything. Many of the today's problems are residues of old unresolved, grudges.

I propose :) we forget about learning and teaching the history since thus far this knowledge has not brought us happiness.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

I am an extraordinary person aspire to be ordinary

Wednesday 10/29/09 - 12 PM The Lab Z4-029 - Toastmasters meeting running backwards, from future, the end, to present, the beginning. A bunch of us were there. Some had roles, some had to deliver a talk. I had to deliver a talk. My first talk, the Ice-breaker in Toastmasters' lingo. Since everything was going backwards, my talk was last of the three. It was so painful to wait. Finally, I was introduced. I went up and faced my biggest fear. Public speaking!

"Fellow Toastmasters, dear guests. Today, I am here to tell you about my extraordinary life and how I aspire to be ordinary. I live on Avenue Road, in a two story house. I drive a CLK320. I am married. My husband is a university Professor. I have two kids, twins, well-behaved. They are 10 years old. I am a CIO, Chief Intelligence Officer. My job is to put intelligence back into products. The product that my team and I work on is called IComp. IComp stands for Intelligent Compiler. IComp takes the user specification, requirement orally or in written form and translates it to an efficient, high performing executable for the target hardware architecture. There is no need for the user to write high level, abstract, unintelligent program. In fact, high level languages such as C, C++, or Fortran are so yesterday. Today IComp supports 143 languages and is widely used around the world. It's perfect. Except there is one problem. IComp doesn't exist. IComp, the gorgeous house in the posh neighborhood, the Mercedes, the professor is all in the future!
Today, I am a software developer. I develop code for the compiler back-end. If you ask me what does the compiler back-end do. I'll tell you short and sweet, it does everything that the compiler front-end doesn't do. The effect the long and detailed description of the back-end of the compiler has on people is, let's just say, not good! One of my hobbies is to learn new languages. I have a feeling that it may come handy in the future, given that compilers may one day support up to 143 languages. I know German, ein bisschen, and French, un peu. I live in a condo that I call home. I have to admit, I do prefer houses over condos. But, I can never see myself living in a posh neighborhood, I am far too logical to feel comfortable with showing off. ;) I take public transit to work. It's far better way of getting to and from work. I am a book fetish. Public transit means more time to read. My boyfriend is a PhD student. I do believe teaching is a good profession for a man. It's amazing how extraordinary my life has become now that I have lived it backwards. I do have to say one thing though, no matter how ordinary I sound at present, I feel extraordinary. Thank you.
Madam, Toastmaster."

Done. Complete. Sigh.

Time for speech evaluation. Let me know what you think. :)

Monday, October 12, 2009

How can you write your resume in 10 minutes or less?!

A dramatic shift in the topic chosen for this blog; it clearly demonstrates that play time is over! :)

Each time I have done my resume I had to go through (re)learning the trends and techniques of resume writing. I find this exercise extremely inefficient and superbly time consuming.

In order to make this process a bit easier and the future iterations much faster, (claim is 10 minutes or less), I decided to summarize and record my interpretations of the rules, design the template that is flexible to upcoming trends and future changes.

First the resume type: there are four types (as far as I know) of resume. These formats are only suggestions and do sound old school. I can select and apply (conservatively) a bit of each to my resume. After all, I want my resume to survive the 30 seconds glance.

The Chronological: in this format I will list all the positions I have held starting with the most recent to demonstrate my depth in the knowledge area and breadth in the industry that I have been applying my professional self to.
If I have been consistent in choosing employment positions (breadth) and projects and responsibilities within each position (depth), the finished chronological resume should show continuity, growth, advancement and accomplishments.

But what if I was hit by a resource action, or decided to voluntarily retire, resign, quit, there are so many ways to describe the same action; or I have decided to start fresh in a new knowledge area; what then? In that case, the chronological format cannot demonstrate and highlight my abilities and convey my true worth.

Functional format emphasizes on skills, abilities, credentials and qualifications first. Later in the resume I can insert opportunities that I have had to apply the qualifications to or develop and improve the skills and abilities. The message here is to let the audience know that I have a defined career goal, I have given the return, or the change careful thought; and I have a set of skills and abilities that can assist me in achieving it (the goal).

The next resume format is CV. This type is used by select group of professionals, such as doctors. The CV consists of a list of credentials such as medical schools, residences performed, internships, fellowships, and hospitals they worked in.

What I need to learn next is how to position facts and information about myself through out this document.

Introduction: I like to always start with an introduction that summarizes my qualifications, skills, and abilities relevant to the job I am applying. This section should be crafted intelligently. The best way to do this, in my opinion, is to use brainstorming techniques: a piece of paper, a pen, a few keywords from the job description and an open mind is all that I need. Avoid Google!!

Qualifications: Depending on the resume type, functional, chronological, etc, I will enclose a history of positions and education or certifications after the introduction.

Closing: I close with the miscellaneous: awards, volunteer activities, and hobbies; stuff that can show a bit of personality.

That should be all that goes in my resume.

Once the organization of the resume is clear, I have to think about vocabulary, grammar, and punctuation.

A quick tally on time, I have spent 2 days so far on writing my resume; it is definitely not a 10 minutes task!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Madrid, Valencia, Barcelona ... 3 Cities 9 Days

Reino de España

Capital City: Madrid
Official Language: Spanish (some regions have their own language, such as Catalan, Basque, Galician, Leonese, Portuguese, and etc.)
Most important cities: Madrid, Barcelona, Cordoba, Valencia, Seville, Zaragoza, Malaga, Murcia, La Palmas de Gran Canaria, Bilbao, Valladolid
Currency: Euro

Man, what a work out!! I had to drag and lift the luggage up and down many stairs; luckily they were not too heavy. To get to the hotel we took the metro. Madrid Barajas International Airport, MAD, is connected to the Merto line 8, pink line. For 2 euro a ticket it is an affordable alternative to taking a cab to get to any place in the city. (Madrid Subway Map)

The hotel is in a perfect place, in the heart of Old City. The room and most importantly the bathroom is spotless clean. There is air condition, a must have in summer, an LCD TV and a laptop that comes with a free internet in the room. The furniture is trendy, contemporary. The hotel is called, High Tech - Petit Palace operated by the High Tech Hotels company. (Visit their site)

Jet lagged, exhausted and constipated, we made a short trip to a few places around the old city Madrid, had an unforgettable ice-cream ceremony, washed, and slept.

We stayed 3 nights in Madrid and enjoyed an array of activities such as sight seeing, shopping, eating and the unforgettable Fiesta de La Paloma.

The La Paloma festival, August 6-15, honors the La Paloma Virgin, one of the three loved *Virgins* known to be the protector of the Madrid dwellers. The extravagant, loud, fun festival in the height of the summer is very real. Men and women dressed in colorful, traditional outfit of a Chulapos or Chulapas dance, walk and have and create fun in the streets surrounding La Latina. For the more contemporary, the youth, the Madridians, Spanish and international tourists the casual clothes will do, so long as you join in the dance, enjoy the loud music (different on each street), and drink limonada, tequila, or etc. (Have a look at the Chulapos and Chulapas getting ready to celebrate the La Paloma Festival, Madrid 2009)

On the fourth day we packed and left for the Madrid bus station to continue with our trip in Spain. The bus station was not too far from the hotel. Again we chose to get there via the subway line. I found the Madrid subway extremely organized, clean and easy to navigate. All the stations display the next train arrival time; the next station is both announced and displayed on screen in the train. The Mendez Alvaro bus station is on line 6, gray, and accessible via line 1, light blue, and line 3, yellow. The avanzabus company connects Madrid to all the regions in Spain. When I booked, they had 2 for 1 deals on their web site. I saved 20eurnos by booking on-line. (Check them out)

Madrid money and time saving tips:
  • Stay around Sol subway station to save on transportation cost; all sites are within walking distance; wide range of traditional and fast food restaurants in this area.
  • Navigate the Museo Del Prado museum using their Masterpieces plan.
  • Take advantage of free or reduced admission, if you qualify, to Museo Del Prado (Sunday - Tuesday 6-8 PM)

The capital of Valencia Province, the city of Valencia has been an agricultural and industrial center throughout its history. It is located on the Mediterranean Sea at the mouth of the Turia River in a region surrounded by orchards. It is Spain's third largest city. (source: student.britannica.com)

Four and a half hours later we were in Valencia. Situated in the middle of the Spanish Mediterranean coast, Valencia is the third largest city in Spain. For us Valencia meant a three days opportunity to rest and relax under the sun before we head to the next big city. Or so we thought. Intentionally, we reserved a hotel close to the beach. But on the ride to the hotel far distance from the bus station, (total cost 10euro), as our eyes became more familiar to the palm trees, wide streets (unlike Madrid) and contemporary architecture (especially the L'oceanographic museum) we were determined to sight see as much as possible. But, first we had to indulge in the food we so much heard and read about. They said we could find the fancy restaurants by the sea. We see the sea in the far distance but there was no sight of any restaurants. To make matters a bit more challenging most roads were blocked and cars were being redirected to detours, while the city was getting ready for the next weekend's, August 22-23, Europe's Grand Prix Formula 1 race. When we finally got to the beach we were too tired, too hungry to shop around for restaurants. We walked into the second restaurant because the first one was closed. Al Coso was its name. Great place. They have the most delicious Spanish mixed rice. They even treat you to fresh oven baked bread while you are waiting for your food to arrive. Satisfied, we left Al Coso to take walk on the sandy beach.
Valencia's city bus transit ticket is 1.35 euro, paid to the bus driver. It's best to have the exact change or amount close to it. The next buses are announced on most (but not all) buses. Bus 19 goes to the city center, Ayunmiento. Once there, all the historical places are in walking distance of each other. There are a variety of souvenir stores in that area that offer unique works of art, and jewelry at a very affordable price. It was hard to leave this charming city. It was hard to see the last days of this, so far fantastic trip is arriving.
Essential Valencia:
  • Bioparc
  • Jardin del Turia
  • Torres de Serranos-Torres de Quart
  • Catedraly Basilica
  • Lonja
  • Mercado Central
  • Mercado de Colon
  • Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias
  • Marina Real Juan Carol-I-Paseo Maritimo-Playas
  • Parque Natural de l'Albufera

Barcelona, was unlike any other place. It is said to be the seventh city in Europe in number of tourists it receives. Given the city structure and the situation of the important sights, we got ourselves T10 metro pass, (more economical than buying one ticket, 2.80 euro, at a time), and started our journey at the La Sagrada Familia, (Antoni Gaudí1882). It took Gaudi 43 years to bring it to the stage that we see today. He finished the two facades; the birth and crucifying of Christ. The characters, in each story, are meticulously carved to the extent their emotion is obvious. I would not been surprised if you spend at least an hour outside the church. It is worth every minute the time you spend or every picture you shoot. Inside, you can see Gaudi's innovation; his use of geometry and incorporating natural light into his design. In designing the ceiling, the pillars and the windows, Gaudi was inspired by nature. As a result, his creation is by far like no other church! It is unique in every sense of the word. La Sagrada Familia is work in progress! The plan is to have the third facade based on Gaudi's design completed by 2050. The story is based on Christ's rise from dead.
Madrid Valencia Barcelona Spain August 2009

Friday, July 17, 2009


Long gone the days were houses served only one purpose: providing a place to dwell.

Today a house is considered an investment. It is widely believed that unlike other commodities, the value of the house will appreciate over time and bring in a nice return on investment. Those who have jumped on the wagon of buy low, sell high have made it rich and comfortable.

Work in progress ...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Love and hate by the five-cent bagful

Back in the days when plastic bags were not invented yet, my grandmother never needed one. After all, life was simple those days. No need to clean after the pets, since they didn't have one. No need for garbage bags, since a) they didn't produce that much waste b) they dumped all the waste in the garbage bin.

When the plastic bags came into picture, in early 20th century, they were to replace paper bags which back then were known as inefficient and number one contributor to killing trees. Plastic bags were light, water proof, and only took a small storage space. They became popular and soon gave new shape and color to the way we shop.

It took us 50 odd years to realize that plastic bags are indeed as inefficient as the paper bags, if not more. They use up another natural resource, oil; they don't disintegrate; they end up in the landfills; they are a known hazard for the marine life.

Time for a change? You bet.

We have since welcomed the new, the reusable bag, eco-friendly alternative to the plastic bag in our consumer driver lives. We know that manufacturing these bags uses scarce, expensive energy. However, durability will make the average cost of energy used per bag lower than plastic or paper bags.

Holding a chic reusable bag is more than making a fashion statement. It's regarded as responsible! While we are gradually buying into the idea of purchasing our first and second R-bags and reducing our plastic bag footprint as a result, our city decided to pull a plastic bag tax on us to hasten the process.

Many took issue! Many are unhappy. It's added insult on injury, to be asked to pay an extra 5c per bag after you spend $$$ in a store. It's understandable. Especially, for some of us, the free plastic bags served a variety of purposes in our households.

In a consumer driven culture a moral lesson can be taught only by attaching a price tag to it. Only then we realize the value of what we have taken for granted. The point here is that, the reusable bags are great and they are a good solution to our over a century old quest for efficient, environment friendly packaging and storage. But, a coup de tat against plastic bag was not necessary.

Each of the products we switched from/to had their own set of pros and cons. Perfect has not been discovered and/or invented yet. We could continue using plastic, paper, and/or reusable and our environment will still be fine, if only we learned the art of moderation.

If each party involved did its part, the impact will be effortless and huge. If we used one less bag on each trip to the supermarket, we could reduce the usage by a lot!

The imposed tarrif or in the case of Inida the $2000 fine are just measures to curtail the wasteful behavior and culture.

Monday, June 08, 2009

(Who cares) What others think/feel?

Two minutes into the ride to work, I hear it. I dare not to turn around, but I am dying to sneer at the one who is so oblivious of his surroundings and has his music so loud!

In the evening, at the gym: guy walks in adjusts the lights, walks to the T.V. system changes the channel to TSN; he completely ignores the rest of us who are happy with the lights and are enjoying the program playing on T.V.

  • *Don't burp, blow/pick your nose, and break wind at the dinner table, lunch table, break fast table --don't do any of these in public space, period.
  • *Don't put your feet up on the table
  • *Don't speak loud in public
  • *Don't stare

I am not giving you advice. I am just remembering the rules of etiquette that I was taught to follow when I was growing up.

Today, for various reasons, it is more of a choice than an obligation to follow these rules. If you feel like being loud in public space, you could because no one will stop you (I am always tempted to raise the issue, but the cons of doing so out-weights its pros.) I take all the unpleasantness in --patiently, quietly, while my teeth are grinding against each other. :)

Work in progress ....

Monday, May 18, 2009

What should we call it?

For starters, I have to think of a new title for this blog. To some extent the name should provide a sense of direction, for me as well as the (possible) reader. I love feedback. (If you are reading this and/or glanced at a few other posts in this blog space, let me know what you think is suitable. I appreciate it.)

I kept my promise

I am ready to put pen to paper and start writing again. It's two weeks short of six months. I arrived early but I feel it went by much quicker than expected. I am not done with priorities --not thoroughly. But, I am more disciplined. Being able to scribble something useful, (or satisfy the urge to vocalize thoughts), at least once at most twice a month is a possibility.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Taking a 6 months hiatus!

Through out the day, ideas come rushing to my head unannounced, but there is not much time to put them down into quality writing and when there is time the inspiration has disappeared. Therefore such abysmal activity during the past couple of months. Pity!

So, I am taking a short, 6 months, hiatus from blogging here to concentrate on priority items 1-5. As the days get longer and the weather warmer, I shall find more time to dedicate to writing, which has turned from a hobby to a passion.

During this hibernation period, I will have the opportunity to extrapolate the thoughts into notes and drafts and find my (writing) niche.

Meanwhile, if you are interested in special topics of various C/C++ issues and information, visit my blog here.

In a nutshell, I shall be back!!