Intelligence India

Despite everything we say about our country being backwardly progressive, apparently a lot of people in the western world think that India in general – and Indians especially – are quite bright sparks.

Here’s quite a few amusing incidents I’ve experienced/found to this effect:

Last June, I happened to sit next to an old German guy on the plane back to Frankfurt from Dubai and we got talking.
He first asked me if I was Arab (I don’t know why, a lot of people have asked me that; starting to wonder if I don’t look Indian enough) and when I said I wasn’t; and that I was from India, he only had one thing on the top of his mind:
”Ah India, you must be a computer programmer then?”

* * *

I was out at dinner with some people from work last month to bid farewell to some colleagues from Argentina. Of course, as the lot involved several colorful nationalities (we had Indian, German, Argentinean, and Spanish speaking people with us that night) the conversation undoubtedly turned towards languages and culture.
That’s when one guy asked me if Indians were supposedly good with programming because;
”Your native languages follow a grammatical structure similar to a programming syntax”

After I nearly rolled over with laughter, I began to wonder if it really could be my bad Tamil grammar that’s causing all the bugs in my programs.

* * *

The character from the comic-strip Dilbert once remarked on the intellectual ability of Indians and their suitability for outsourcing projects. As he presents his report, the first option on his list was,
“highly educated Indians who speak perfect English”

…who were of course finally not chosen because they were also quite “pricey”. :D

* * *

In the recent (2009) animated movie Monsters vs. Aliens, in the scene where the top of the US armed forces meet and realize how bad the situation really is, the US President shouts at an underling,
“We need our top scientific minds on this. Get me India on the phone!”

* * *

Apparently there’s a lot more to India then people imagine.
And if the above is any indication to go by, then I’m only too happy to be part of it.

Windows 7: I update, therefore I am

In case you’ve missed it, the biggest thing going around the geekosphere today is Windows7, which opened for exclusive pre-release orders in Europe at midnight.

If you’re wondering what’s going on, Microsoft is offering Windows7 (which officially launches worldwide on Oct 22) for advance pre-orders in three zones – North America, Europe and Japan – at a ridiculously special price of 49.99 EUR.

Normally, I don’t make a big deal of stuff like this but what was remarkable about this one is, the demand was apparently so high that online stores’ servers started going down all over Europe this morning!
In fact Amazon Germany was sold out in just over an hour!
Amazon UK is still struggling to keep up with demands – and other stores are having a field day as well.

Now as a person who just missed a free upgrade by getting my new laptop a week too early (Dell is offering this to all laptops bought just a week after mine), I wasn’t going to lose out on this. And so, I now stand, the proud recipient of the greatest Windows to come out in a long time.

I’ve always said I hated Windows Vista – and come October 22, I can finally smile and say,
“I told you so” 
…as I get rid of my Vista DVD.

I can hardly wait.

16Jul09. Its finally official: This link from the BBC quotes Amazon as saying that “sales of Windows 7 in the first eight hours it was available outstripped those of Windows Vista's entire 17 week pre-order period”!

Man, talk about sellout! I guess Microsoft grossly underestimated how much people hated Vista to get to the next upgrade as soon as they could!

Going the ‘Open’ Office way

After much deliberation, I finally got rid of my 60-day trial version of MS Office2007 and switched to open source software, namely, (yeah I know, the .org is part of its official name as well).

On a side note, I also got rid of Microsoft Works9 that came preinstalled on my laptop straight away and buried the installation CD deep.
In my opinion, Works is the most ridiculous office suite anyone could have thought of, and I guess the only reason people even use it is because it comes preinstalled on every computer you buy Windows with (along with a trial version of the current MS Office suite).

Now why am I moving to open source?
First and foremost: because its FREE!
I can’t imagine shelling out a good 75 EUR for the home (and “student”) edition of MS Office – whatever the hell that means; it ships with exactly the same version of Word and Excel as every other edition – the only differences being the other extras.

Secondly, because I’m not exactly an excel power-user – in fact the only reason I use a spreadsheet is for keeping track of my spending and managing passwords.
I really couldn’t care less for Macros or a Visual Basic editor outside work.

Even so, the incredible power of has completely blown me away; in fact there’s a whole bunch of things it does so much better than MS Office that I’m wondering why I didn’t use it all along. And why more people don’t use it.

If you’re one of those people who’re lugging around a pirated version of MS Office because you can’t afford the real thing and secretly wishing no one calls your foul, I’m talking to you.
I know your excuse: you think you’ve no other options – and you couldn’t be more wrong. And with extensive online support and instant (not to mention FREE!) updates, there couldn’t be a better time to switch to Open Source Software.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go install VLC player (everybody’s favorite open player), GIMP (an open source image editor that’s supposed to rival Photoshop) and 7-zip (open source archive extractor).

The Comeback

Yes, I am back from vacation.
Back from two weeks of fun, good food and family. And back to my regular life.

The past few weeks were good, and the vacation was even better because it helped sort out the few things messing around in my head that I mentioned in the last post and made me see life in the true sense it is meant to be seen.

I realized that you don’t always need a plan, and that things won’t always go according to the one you make.
And that its not even a bad thing.

I realized I should be thankful for everything I have, which includes my family, my friends, the job I have, the food I eat, my new laptop, iPod, PSP and high-speed wireless internet :)

I realized there is no such thing as a dead-end career, and that all jobs will eventually kill your potential unless you keep the edge. And keep moving forward.

I realized knowledge is just about the only thing you can truly own, and that it doesn’t always need to come in a standard package as an MBA or some other degree.
And that to seek knowledge is a quest upon us all till the day we die.

I realized there is more to life that having a job, making money, spending some of it and putting away everything else.
And that money is merely a tool that should help with a greater cause in life.

I realized that time is the most important thing people waste, and many don’t even realize what a crime it really is.
And that it is for that same reason that too much sleep is the refuge of cowards.

I realized... that I realized much today.
I’m really glad I had that vacation; I feel fresh with a ton of ideas, and there’s loads of stuff I wanna write about!

The Square Circle is back in business.