On arguments and fear

Of all the arguments that I have heard against returning to India, the argument that was posed repeatedly was "You do realize that if you leave it will be very hard for you to come back to the States".

Usually, the argument implies that immigration and jobs, together would be the toughest hurdle when attempting to return. The argument is also banking on the fact that USA is where we legal immigrant workers (H1-B's) can really make money without risking too much. Also, that USA is still the first choice for technology workers. Above all, the crux of the argument is – that eventually I will regret my decision and think about coming back to the USA. It will be too late then.

Is it true that even we, who only recently migrated to the USA, have learnt to live in the grip of fear and be risk-averse?

Frankly, I was just tired of sitting on the fence. I wanted my own growth to match my ability to create value for others. I wanted to be with my family. I did not want to walk Interns here through the nuances of technology, knowing that I could dedicate the same amount of time and effort to my younger sibling if I were in the same timezone as he was. I am looking to Impact the right people and environment. Think about your social security money which can never be yours until and unless you finish 10 years in the states. I can't stand a one-sided raw deal. I also wanted to eat some real Biryani for once without having to travel to San Francisco's famous Chutneys ;).

I promise myself – if I ever find myself thinking of going back to the States for good, I will head over to Golconda in Koregaon park for some Hyderabadi Biryani and think about what my contribution to my immediate community can be :).

Automation is not helping ship reliable Software quicker

Microsoft announced that their long overdue Vista will be delayed even further.

This annoyed a number of Microsoft employees, some who don’t work with Windows, some who don’t even work with Microsoft anymore (ex). But seriously, the effects are far-reaching. I am sure there was considerable thought put inot the decision.
Anyhow, one voice piped in that automation of tasks, including Quality Assurance wasn’t helping: (from Mini-MSFT)

In the last 18 months this org:

1) Cut the number of testers (several times) from approx 50 to now much less than a dozen. Of
course, many top performers also left MS entirely because of middle mgmt in this org.

2) Hired more PMs
3) Cut the scope of testing (anyone done any real code coverage testing lately?)

4) Cut the number of promotions in the test orgs – nothing like a little ‘de-incentivization’ to increase ‘bad attrition’

5) Dictate that everything can and should be automated.
(Ignore that eyeballs catch more in less time…) way to go Darren. Of
course, you
were probably lied to by your underlings, so it’s not entirely your
fault. Uhh, yes it is – you made the call.

6) Hire only a small handful of devs to write automation
code. Oh, and don’t forget to swamp them with added process and have
embittered leads review their code…

7) Hire more PMs

8) Outsource all testing to non-accountable and barely trained CSG firms
overseas (Ever try to translate/clarify a bug written not by a tester, but by their lead based on notes? )

9)
Limit the number of heads
the abovementioned overseas firms can use. > Fewer testers, less
experienced, with little training, a much (ahem) ‘slower’ approach to
testing. Results: Client appcompat % hovering at <40% (GASP –
INTERNAL INFO… better moderate this one out!!!!)

Here’s
an anomaly for PM’s to ‘splain away. If automation is such a great
tool, why is it not finding more bugs than a small handful of testers
in a lab on the other side of the planet?

Very Interesting observation. The largest software projects are
traditionally proving grounds for automation techniques. I wish the
authors of Windows Vista come out with a sequel to The Mythical Man-Month.

Updated: San Jose’s Mercury News also cites the same book and the Vista delay but in an altogether different context.

The challenge of big software projects was probably best
described by Frederick P. Brooks Jr. in his classic 1975 book, “The
Mythical Man-Month.” Brooks, a professor of computer science at the
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, stated then what he called
Brooks’ Law: “Adding manpower to a late software project makes it
later.” The need for latecomers to get up to speed and communicate
with their
predecessors, Brooks says, takes up more of the team’s time than what the added workers contribute.It’s even theoretically possible to reach a kind of software
gridlock, where the team is so big that all its time goes to
communicating among
each other and making revisions — with the project never reaching
completion.

Netflix cloned in India: SeventyMM

SeventyMM launched on March 2nd this year. Surprisingly, their launch was rather low-key.

In a twist to Netflix, they will only allow upto 2 DVD’s and you have to pay a Rs. 2000 deposit up-front (thats about $40). They charge Rs. 550 (about $11) for a month of unlimited movies. They have the advantage of entering the market early. The issue is dealing with the postal service. Or have they decided to work around them altogether?

Related stories:

Ubuntu Linux on my IBM Thinkpad


Linux for human beings

Originally uploaded by Santosh Dawara.

More pictures of the Ubuntu Live CD booting up on my Thinkpad.

I am very impressed by Ubuntu. After watching or hearing of several friends installing the International Linux distribution, I thought I would give it a try. I got the Live CD of their website, burnt it to Disc and booted up. The boot up process was a little slower than I expected – being a Live CD, that was quickly forgiven. I was most impressed by the GNome Window Manager.

Pleasures: Apart from the fact that its Linux and is Open? None yet.

Basics:

  • The Ubuntu installation ships with GNome optimized for the OS.
  • Clean fonts, professional icons, great user experience.
  • Ubuntu invite hardware feedback after you install, the feedback is used to update a HW DB.
  • The O.S is quick and responsive unlike older versions of Linux where you ‘felt’ like you were using a WindowManager over the O.S.
  • Wireless network access was configured out of the box
  • My external NTFS-formatted drive was immediately mounted over USB.
  • Hard drive tools now show the drive size in MB instead of blocks.
  • Most Thinkpad laptop management functionality was available to me, including power source details.

Dissapointments:

  • Mp3’s won’t play in the player that ships with Ubuntu (RhythmBox 0.9.0 for GNome).
  • My Thinkpad T43 scroll button was inactive. I probably will have to figure out what needs to be done to get it work.

I have been using Linux since 1999 thanks to Praveen who introduced me to it.

Why not use A9 over Google?

I am not sure if A9‘s product placement is completely understood. They add value to the typical Google search. The value is acheived by focusing on websites that you think are absolutely relevent to the query your about to place. On the other hand, selecting those sites from a possible list of thousands (or even 5) is tedious. I would not use A9 for my everyday needs.

Siddharth wants to know why not use A9? If you have some insight into the issue, head over to his blog and let him know.

Other products offering customized search:

Copy-cat culture

Original posted on: Riding Sun: Chinese Digg Clone.

Expect more such copying of innovative western ideas for social web applications. Eventually, the copied versions might even have a greater number of users. Scary! What if the first 30 results on Google were all pointing to geographically distant sites? Filtering users by their IP is not the perfect solution.

A new problem, and therefore a business opportunity is emerging.

(I am not so full of hot air usually 🙂 ).

Bush to the rest of the world: India is worth the bargain

NYTimes: U.S. Give India Applause. NYTimes, March 5th 2006. Somini Sengupta.

George bush, the Texas businessman who ran god knows how many oil companies into the ground, has endorsed India as an economic bargain. With all due respect to the readers of this blog from Pakistan, I don’t quite enjoy his duplicity. However, the blog is to mark the realisation of the Manmohan Singh’s vision. His vision, that India will apply its economic strengths to pull itself up in the world stage – is now reality. The view on India is generally upbeat. Some of the hype may still be unfounded. Perhaps a little late, but its about time.

On the same note, I am returning to India permanently mid-April. If your in the area (Pune), or in Seattle – I’d love to meet up for a drink.