The red pill…

We have been discussing the Matrix (1999) all of this week in the real world. I thought I would quickly flash back to what I thought was the most significant scene in the movie. I will let it speak for itself,

(Lafayette Hotel)
: This is it. Let me give you one piece of advice. Be honest. He knows more than you can imagine. (Neo walks into the door, Morpheus turns around to face him).

Morpheus: At last. Welcome, Neo. As you no doubt have guessed, I am Morpheus.
Neo: It’s an honor to meet you.
Morpheus: No, the honor is mine. Please, come. Sit down. I imagine that right now you’re feeling a bit like Alice, tumbling down the rabbit hole? Hm?
Neo: (seated on a red leather armchair) You could say that.
Morpheus: I can see it in your eyes. You have the look of a man who accepts what he sees because he is expecting to wake up. Ironically, this is not far from the truth. Do you believe in fate, Neo?
Neo: No.
Morpheus: Why not?
Neo: Because I don’t like the idea that I’m not in control of my life.
Morpheus: I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain. But you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life. That there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I’m talking about?
Neo: The Matrix?
Morpheus: Do you want to know what it is? The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us, even now in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work, when you go to church, when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Morpheus: That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage, born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch. A prison for your mind…. Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself. This is your last chance. After this there is no turning back. You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes…. (Neo begins to reach out for the red pill, Morpheus closes his palms) Remember, all I’m offering is the truth, nothing more…. Follow me…. Apoc, are we online?
Apoc: Almost.
Morpheus: Time is always against us. Please, take a seat there.

This scene reminds one of their own refusal to accept what is their immediate reality. Neo tries hard to disassociate himself from his own reality (he is a software programmer, pays taxes and such). At which point, the stars deign that Morpheus will walk into one’s life and offer a choice. The choice is of course pre-written. Neo wants to see where the rabbit-hole will lead.

Fast-forward to the Nebuchadnezzar. Neo has been freed from the Matrix. Morpheus admits to Neo that they don’t free minds after a certain age, that they broke the rules when freeing Neo. The mind usually has trouble letting go. Morpheus then attempts to get Neo to believe that he can beat the rules of the system. Unfortunately, Neo fails to make his first conceptual jump.

The Matrix introduced an incredible set of concepts, philosophies, revolution, path-breaking special effects, and so many other things. I treasure it most because it asked me to believe that it is indeed possible to shape reality. Not in the literal sense of bending a spoon, sure – but why not?

Neo is still really not ready when he walks in to the Oracle’s home. There he meets the other potentials.

Spoon boy (also known as one of the other potentials): Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Spoon boy: There is no spoon.
Neo: There is no spoon?
Spoon boy: Then you’ll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.

Later, the Oracle tells him what he needs to know, that he is not the one. Indeed, he has the gift, but he is waiting – perhaps for another life (self-fulfilling :-), don’t you think)? Who knows?

Oracle: I’d ask you to sit down, but your not going to anyway. And don’t worry about the vase.
Neo: What vase?
Oracle: That vase. (Neo looks back, half-turning and tips over a vase in the corner)
Neo: I’m sorry.
Oracle: I said don’t worry about it. I’ll get one of my students to fix it.
Neo: How did you know?
Oracle: What’s really going to bake your noodle later on is, would you still have broken it if I hadn’t said anything.

It is also on this same day that he realizes that he must make another choice. He makes his choice, at which point it appears to the observer – he has broken down every conceptual block and has begun to believe.

Tank: Morpheus, you’re more than a leader to us. You’re our father. We’ll miss you always.
Neo: Stop. I don’t believe this is happening.
Tank: Neo, this has to be done.
Neo: Does it? I don’t know, I… this can’t be just coincidence. It can’t be.
Tank: What are you talking about?
Neo: The Oracle. She told me this would happen. She told me that I would have to make a choice.
Trinity: What choice?… What are you doing?
Neo: I’m going in.
Trinity: No you’re not.
Neo: I have to.
Trinity: Neo, Morpheus sacrificed himself so that he could get you out. There’s no way that you’re going back in.
Neo: Morpheus did what he did because he believed I am something I’m not.
Trinity: What?
Neo: I’m not the one, Trinity. The Oracle hit me with that too.
Trinity: No. You have to be.
Neo: Sorry, I’m not. I’m just another guy.
Trinity: No, Neo. That’s not true. It can’t be true.
Neo: Why?
Tank: Neo, this is loco. They’ve got Morpheus in a military controlled building. Even if you somehow got inside, those are agents holding him. Three of them. I want Morpheus back too, but what you’re talking about is suicide.
Neo: I know that’s what it looks like, but it’s not. I can’t explain to you why it’s not. Morpheus believed something and he was ready to give his life for what he believed. I understand that now. But that’s why I have to go.
Tank: Why?
Neo: Because I believe in something.
Trinity: What?
Neo: I believe I can bring him back…. What are you doing?
Trinity: I going with you.
Neo: No you’re not.
Trinity: No? Let me tell you what I believe. I believe Morpheus means more to me than he does to you. I believe if you were really serious about saving him you are going to need my help. And since I am the ranking officer on this ship, if you don’t like, I believe you can go to hell. Because you aren’t going anywhere else. Tank, load us up.

Trinity: Neo, no one has ever done anything like this.
Neo: That’s why it’s going to work.

The rest of course as they say, is Hollywood ;-). The truth is, Neo fought the battle, rescued Morpheus and gave his life. As his neuro-kinetic reading went flat he was then reborn (did anyone notice the digit “2” on the screen?).

Thanks for stopping by. Believe in your self, now go watch the movie :-).


The mythical Dollar

In my past few weeks here in Pune (India), I have been fortunate to interact with several technologists, entrepreneurs and businessmen. From their world I have heard the following untruths (or not?) over and over again:

#1: The developed world’s market is where the real profit lies for IT and Software products. Producing innovative software, IT or technology for India is not going to get you anywhere as quickly as software exports will.

#2: India’s strength lies in being a service-oriented nation.

#3: Indians are not mentally built for entrepreneurship (or for starting small). They have the galla (or shop cash-counter) attitude. In other words, they expect quick returns in business.

#4: Employment in the IT services sector is the best opportunity for new graduates.

#5: An entrepreneur simply needs to copy an existing business model from a developed world and get it to work in India.

#6: The Indian government should continue to encourage companies in software exports and IT services for developed nations through incentives like tax-holidays.

#7: India’s core competency is in the area of IT. This is the IT centered spin on #2. Is our core competency really in IT or in the area of IT-related services or somewhere else altogether?

I think our current belief system no longer reflects reality. What do you think?

Update: Here is one perspective on 1, 2, 4, 6 and 7. “Exports, University-Industry linkages, and innovation challenges in Bangalore, India” – World Bank report, Anthony P. D’Costa (1st April, 06). To summarise the report, encouraging IT services is directly contributing to an artificial shortage of highly skilled technologists, an increasing inability to move up the value chain (in terms of the global IT market), extensive competition amongst low-end technology service providers and finally, weakening of relationships between Universities and Industry.

Gaurav – “Why smart people are no longer at the big companies”

I read it first at:Why smart people are no longer at the big companies” –, Gaurav Bhatnagar.

Imagine your pet project being sidelined due to investor (Wall Street) pressures. Unfortunately, that is more common-place than you think.
From Niall Kennedy’s blog,

What do you do when the market responds to your 6 month-old online services strategy by reducing your valuation by 1.5 Yahoos? Windows Live is under some heavy change, reorganization, pullback, and general paralysis and unfortunately my ability to perform, hire, and execute was completely frozen as well.

Niall was hired by Microsoft in April this year, to create a new team around syndication technologies for Windows Live. He has decided to leave Microsoft due to what I perceive to be lack of faith in his vision for data publishing and syndication.

Interestingly, I left my first job for a Masters in Computer Science. The hope had always been that I would realise my vision and get my execution right while working towards my Masters. I found that the priorities there too are different.

The only real lesson one can draw from this is that at some point you have to stop waiting for others to believe in your vision and begin believing in it yourself.

Uncertainty, complexity, and hard non-deterministic problems

I came across validation on the thought that people management is a hard problem.

From Bruce Eckel’s blog, “Deterministic Software Development“. Bruce talks about management thinking, about why Software development cannot be included in deterministic set of problems and finally about why the people factor in software development is key. He suggests that looking at it in a deterministic sense is a dead-end approach.

Related posts on my blog:Engineering Management” – Sukshma.

You might also be interested in “What is problem solving?” – Michael E. Martinez, on the application of heuristics, goal management, and learning to solve complex problems.

AirTel pre-paid GPRS Activation and usage

Update: AirTel has recently discontinued the SMS activation and deactivation service for GPRS/Mobile Office. You now need to call 56561, press 1 for English, press 1 to activate GPRS. It takes about 2 to 4 days to have GPRS activated, painfully slow. To deactivate GPRS or Mobile Office, call 56562, press 1 for English, press 1 to deactivate GPRS.

To activate, SMS “GPRSACT” to 511. AirTel will begin charging you Re 14.99/- per day. You will need to SMS “MO” (Mobile office?) to 501 for the precise settings for your phone (I did not get a response with settings as promised), or call their customer-service.

To deactivate, send “GPRSDEACT” to 511.

I also have a brief article on setting up your Nokia 6230 for AirTel’s Mobile Office.

AirTel LIVE! and GPRS are not the same. For AirTel LIVE, I suggest you start with the AirTel web portal and FAQ on AirTel LIVE by clicking here.