Friday, October 31, 2008

Where is x...?

A friend of mine called today asking for off-beat ideas for presenting an online quiz. His group has been asked to design an interactive online quiz over the weekend . The said quiz needs to be super user friendly and should provide a quick yet fair assessment of a test-taker's performance in an innovative fashion. My instant thoughts on essential elements of a good Quiz are:
  • Imagination and Humor - C'mmon we all need fun right?
  • Intriguing Questions as against general open ended questions.
  • Questions should arouse curiosity and should have novelty.
  • Questions should appeal to a wider set of audience.
  • Smooth Point of Entry with easy self-explanatory pointers.
  • Questions should combine the Familiar with the Unfamiliar.
  • Careful phrasing of questions.
  • They should test a candidate's visual-spatial intelligence in addition to logic.
  • Use of cartoons / illustrations as against detailed instructions.
  • Give Feedback / Encourage responses given by candidates towards the end of quiz.
While I help my friend over the weekend-have a look at some of the simple yet amazing quizzes I came across while browsing few mins ago - here, here or here. Happy Halloween & wish you all a superb weekend ahead !

"All human power is a compound of time and patience !"

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Clash Of The Titans...!

(Photo Courtesy - Madame Tussauds, London [AP])

Even thinking about the next week gives me chills. Elections for all seats in the House of Representatives, elections for 11 State Governors and ofcourse the much talked about 56th Presidential consecutive United States presidential elections - that has captured enormous global attention oflate ! All major news channels, magazines and publications, talk shows , pre-poll assessments firms etc. seems to have flooded the environment with infinite pros and cons of choosing one presidential candidate over another ! With Halloween round the corner, it sure adds to the excitement but isn't it that we are giving way too much attention to Elections? Given the dimishining amount of free time each one of us have everyday, it surprises me that people engage in marathonic discussions (at Coffee Shops, Lunch Places, Chat Rooms etc) centred around which candidate to choose and why?, will my taxes increase?, what about my 401k? what about my certificate of deposits? I wonder why majority of people and companies get so much attached to their finances (money/stock/wealth) specially amidst turbulent times ? (Google being the only exception that comes to my mind - check this post). Well, my own gut feeling tell me that what we really need to do (amidst dancing stock prices and eventful recession times) is focus on building our skills or better still acquire few new ones instead!! Guess - its time to head to libraries and get some books issued for a change ;)

But yes, do watch and listen to few speeches of the candidates - Republican Party's John McCain and Democratic Party's Barack Obama - they are brilliant orators and accomplished individuals and political gimmicks aside-one can always learn a lot about the US Economy, National Issues, Areas of Concern/Improvement, etc. from their talk shows/speeches etc. And please do go out and vote for your perfect candidate because elections do constitute the foundations of a true democracy and the outcome does have an enormous influence on other free societies globally (specially India) ! Perhaps thats why they say "Every Vote Counts !" :D

"Don't reinvent the wheel, just realign it!"

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sun Always Shines...!

Sun !
[An animation of the sun, seen by NASA's EIT (Photo Courtesy SOHO/EIT)]

Brilliant & Unbelievably Powerful Image-illustrates the magnificence of the ever majestic "Sun" in the convoluted & grand scheme of interesting things around us (read universe ;))-what a nice way to start one's day with !

And as I keep a close watch on the Countdown for the festival of lights alongwith my friends from India for next couple of hours-I stumbled across a writeup (while sending last minute e-cards to my dear friends) I prepared (Thanks for the editing Tanya) for a community get-together (Thanks to Juhi) we had on Diwali last year ! This festival marks the victory of good over evil, end of harvest season and Hindu Calendar Year and watching people of different ethnicities celebrating it with festive firworks, sharing sweets, worshipping respective Gods during this time is awe-inspiring indeed ! I hereby wish everyone a very Happy Deepawali & Prosperous New Year ahead..!
"Something amazing is waiting just around the corner - I bet !"

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Being A Kid...!

Sometimes seemingly chaotic, unplanned, silly looking yet spontaneous fun can make us exceptionally happy. Well, today was indeed one such day when while flipping channels I came across Hungama Television that was broadcasting "ShinChan" Cartoon and what followed was uninhibited and loud laughter (I bet neighbours heard me pretty well;)). This Japanese Cartoon (which is way too hilarious) is about a four year old boy -'ShinChan". Shinchan is a highly curious hyperactive kid (who is quite fond of choco-bees) and his mischiefs are pure fun to watch. The way he troubles those around him with succession of his well planned naughty tricks. Particularly notable things are his husky voice , vivid expressions, his silly yet funny jokes, out-of-place comments and ofcourse his fondness of pretty faces around him ;) Every plot includes his parents (Mom specially) and/or his equally notorious classmates (Boo, Maso & Georgie) and is entertainment at its very best! Past episodes (in Eng/Japanese) can be viewed at here and Episodes in Hindi can be viewed here. For now enjoy the opening theme here or here !

"A ship is safe in harbor, but is that what ships are for?"

Friday, October 24, 2008

Different Strokes...!

I was super enthusiastic earlier this evening for I was going to meet a close friend (We'll be meeting after 3 years!) and which is why I kept hunting for the coolest T-Shirt in my wardrobe for way past 20 minutes. Now that isn't usually me-I said to myself as I found myself a corner in Local Train to Vile Parle-thats where my friend asked me to come and here I was again lost in thoughts pondering about the significance of colors in life (wish I carried a book to keep my mind at peace :D)

Wordnet defines the word "Color" as the appearance of objects (or light sources) described in terms of a person's perception of their hue and lightness (or brightness) and saturation. Speaking of colors - I am sure most of you will agree that Colors have the ability to trigger our emotions, affect the way we think or act and most important of all influence our attitudes & mood. Admit it or not, but all of us (My quick generalisation stems from my own self belief though;)) do respond to colors around us - cars, homes, clothes, iPods, watches, perfume bottles and even the food we eat perhaps that explains why some of us prefer way too colorful surroundings while the rest prefer a sober one. Is this (creating a lasting pleasant experience) the reason that our decisions to wear a specific clothing varies with the person we are going to meet? Or is this why kids' toys are so colorful ? Is this why Companys' Logos have solid colors? Perhaps a rich amalgamation of colors creates a vivid experience. Well, I honestly think it does and upon getting back home here's what I read about colors:

  • Yellow - Represents Joy and serves to energise us quickly. [Mango Frooti]
  • Orange - Represents Hope and serves to alleviate us. [Orange]
  • Pink - Represents Love and we sure know what it does :) [Pinkberry]
  • Blue - Represents Truth and serves to inspire and leaves a peaceful feeling.[Blueman Group]
  • Red - Represents Fire and serves to inflame our passions. [Product RED]

Before I could congratulate myself for this "Eureka" Moment-a Google Alert conveyed that there are few ultra-smart folks who are already know significance / impact of colors on human psyche and have a look here [Idée Labs Rock!] or here [and so does Engineers at Nissan] to get wowed like me. Till you (or me) keep our hunt for a super cool, novel and breakthrough product idea - keep relishing the different shades of life :D

"What we appreciate begins to appreciate !"

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Winged Formation...!

Its 12:15 PM IST, 11th October 2008 and here I am at Reliance Industries' Nagothane Site with my Dad. My Dad has been posted here to head the construction of a colossal (to me anything bigger than my cubicle is BIG !) Gas Power Plant for Reliance Industries with a mission to meet Western India's ever increasing demand electricity (wish we shut off our ACs atleast sometime). And for me - watching site activities sure is an experience of a kind - a fantastic one indeed ! During my 4 year association with IT industry - here's how I processed various aspects of life:
  • Fun - pushing things (products/services they say) out of my cubicle in a quicker and efficient fashion. And yes those eventful team outings !
  • Seriousness - When a bunch of people get together in a Meeting Room and talk about strategies, goals and lots of numbers and metrics.
  • Euphoria - Product Launches or Conducting Orientation Sessions / Training Programmes for new recruits or experienced professionals. Spotting that fire (intense desire to prove themselves in professional world) in new joinees was breathtaking indeed.
  • TeamWork - So many of us co-ordinating on Web Messenger to get a code snippet perfect - with proper exception handling, near zero memory leaks and bug free execution.

And here everything seems so different when compared to my myopic view of the world as listed above! Never before have I spotted so many people working together, pushing steadily forward with full zeal towards meeting a common objective. Considering the weather conditions - (its scorching hot here and yes there's no Air-Conditioner too ;)) and absence of otherwise omnipresent Soft Drinks / Food Outlets - this is certainly an exhibit of true team work. As I walked past the Rock Blasting Area (they do that to construct foundations of Turbines, Boilers etc), I asked my Dad a dozen of questions seeking explanations for how so many diverse people (who aren't that educated too) work together, whats their motivation (certainly money isn't), how the synchronisation is achieved....and so forth. Well, as anticipated he smiled back and said lets go for a walk around the plant area and promised that we'll talk about it at the end of the day. Here's what I observed during the next 4 hours:

The Only Area with a Shade was this Boxed Movable Meeting Room
  • Abundance Of Greetings - Everyone here genuinely likes and respects their team members as evident from their way of exchanging greetings.
  • Willingness to Go Extra Mile - The idea of grasping opportunities right in time is drilled deep in the minds of workforce. My Dad suggested positioning an extra beam for tensile strenth of a column post the usual column reinforcement operations and to my utter surprise one of the guys responded "Sir, Why Wait - lets do that right away?". And I was wondering why they don't have spreadsheets to track minute by minute progress of people.
  • Frequent Boost Up Dozes- Many of the plant construction operations require extreme physical exertion (I was so shaken observing a guy doing some metal fixing well below the ground level) and what these guys know is every move can't be perfect. Sometime discouragement sets in inspite of a day's hard work but together they still pat each others back saying "Good Going...Good Going! " and move on at even faster pace the very next day.
  • Being in Control - When faced with technical challenges, few amongst them are real quick to take charge and rest of them provide their full support to face it right on.
  • Family to Support - Every person who works here knows that their families know that they are working towards a huge goal and I know (from personal exp) that challenges become so easy when you have support of your loved ones !
  • Quick Thinking - Ofcourse their are distinguised engineers here who are expert at conjuring up quick associations (and improvise existing Plant Drawings at the same time) of how a plant structure say Boiler Casing would look like if you do A as against B.

One things is for sure - I am quite moved by this visit and am certainly very thankful to my Dad for arranging for my visit. Oh and yes, we headed back home my Dad quietly said (may be it was intentional:)) : "Our unique ability to choose how we respond to and process any event that happens to us can make us either a "great" or a "not-so-great" person ! - Think about it" I sure will Dad :D

>> My Google Gears will push a few more posts that I wrote while in India - life should get back to its normal self then :)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sound Of Stillness...!

One notable difference I find here in Mumbai when compared to my stay in the US is the super high "Entropy Levels" around me! And thanks to my prolonged silence, I seem to have become more observant of the noises of varying levels around me. While some of them are beyond my control (@ Bus Stop, Local Train or Vegetable Market) but then there are those like Television, CellPhone etc which I can certainly shut off at ease. It appears to me that Noise can affect us in ways more than one - from preventing us to think logically, making us avoid dealing with problems at hand, making us numb to certain emotions and yes drifting us away from the reality. Perhaps that explains why I always love evening walks - they bring so much peace and equilibrium.

Today evening though, as I was walking past the vibrant 'n' beautiful flowers in the picturesque garden here at Shailesh Towers - I was puzzled when I saw few tiny tots who upon noticing me halted their game and seemed to be staring at me for way more than few seconds. I certainly wished to know-Why? After I exchanged the usuals "Hellos" or 'Namasteys" - one of them (Avinash) asked another dude - "Why does this bhaiya (big guy) always keeps his strange looking headphones on when outside in "our" garden?". Before I could understand what Avinash meant, Aniket (the most talkative of the lot) declared that "That's 'coz he doesn't want us to listen to nice new songs he has!" - and they laughed :( Oh boy, it took me almost 5 seconds to realise that they were referring to headphones of my iPod. Isn't it so strange - I always thought that iPod helps me stay in 'thinking' & 'calm' mode by blocking external noise....and these innocent kids thought totally otherwise. I so much wish the world around us thinks like these amazing kids - who value caring, sharing and experiencing true fun since such an early stage in life ! I have decided to bid farewell to my iPod provided - the marketers slow down the rate of bombarding us with ever growing Ads, co-passengers in trains/buses/airplanes talk in lower tones on their cellphones and veil of unwanted external noise is somehow attenuated soon. Till then I'll keep my pursuit of inventing new ways to experience the true "Sound Of Stillness" on !

"One of rarest things that a man ever does is to do the best he can!"

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Conflicts are Gorgeous...!

I normally refrain from using such provocative statements but a small incident that occured few minutes ago in my proximity changed my perspective about "Conflicts" instantly. Well, I am at the Continental Lounge at Newark Liberty International Airport awaiting announcement of my connecting flight to Detriot with a bunch of wonderful and engaged passengers. A marathonic non-stop flight from Mumbai, overdoze of watching cartoons on board and inadequate sleep since past several hours has certainly skewed my circadian rhythym and in situations like these I normally prefer remaining glued to my iPod (calms me) but I felt scheme of events here at the passenger waiting area demanded a quick post :)

A quick high wattage interaction (it was quite a scene) between a young couple (perhaps newly married) was quite a shock to almost all of us. No one could doubt their mutual positive affinity and fondness for each other - to me they looked like a near perfect couple since they boarded the flight at Mumbai CST Airport. To give you an example, Steve (equipped with a Nikon SLR) has been taking Estella's (guess I heard her name right) snaps at light-speed successions whereever "No Photography" board is missing. Estella on the other hand has bought quite a number of collectibles - magnets, momentos, T-shirts, Books, Backrest Pillow etc for Steve....believe me - Love is indeed in the air here at EWR. But don't they tell you Good things don't last long ! Steve perhaps voiced his concern for one of the seemingly expensive momentos Estalla purchased and My God-what followed was a brutal warof words between the "perfect" couple-resulting in widespread agony-direct (to them) or induced (to me;)). Now this trigger was enough for me to think how can one avoid/manage situations like these. Lets see...

  • Reality - C'mmon lets admit that to disagree (or clash) with near and dear ones is a part of life.
  • Black or White - During war of words we tend to focus on the "said" things and declare a person as Good/Bad, Caring/Heartless etc- but hey communication is not all about talking...lets give some credit to the so called feelings of those involved too.
  • Zero Escalation - We might not reach an agreement immediately but we can agree to disagree for now and still keep peace.
  • Staying Neutral - Avoiding being Judgemental really helps. Mother Teresa once said "If you judge people, you don't have time to love them"
  • Its just a Game - The dualistic concept of who wins and who loses dilutes pretty easily if one of the person quits this quarrel game (Games People Play is a must read).

That said lets admit that a conflict free "perfect" world with "perfect" partners and acquaintences isn't the way things happen in real world; So lets (for a change) try being little adaptive, super patient and relish the potential conflicts carry. They sure serve as eye openers for some, positive experiences for some others and indicators to start afresh elsewhere for the rest ! **

"Experiences make us who we truly are"

** Beware of views expressed by me (My mind has been humming on since past 20 hrs with near zero hour sleep) so think thrice (I advise even more) before adopting any of my tips :-D. But yes do have a fantastic week ahead...!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Outdoor Pleasures...!

Nidhi- A dear friend of mine visited a 'Pinkberry' store last week and since then she has fell in love with the concept store chain and never stops talking about it ! Never before I've seen a brand other than Apple making such an affinity; Intrigued, I tried scooping out some information about the store and looks like this California based company is a franchise of nicely packaged frozen desserts and oflate has been known for its plushy store interiors & cult following.I learnt that Splendora Blog says that an 8 oz serving of the fat free frozen yogurt at Pinkberry contains only 200 calories (Now I know why girls love it so much :)). An amazing and near-perfect amalgamation of low-fat, low-cal cool dessert in a ultra creative designer environment and fantastic word-of-mouth advertising makes it a very cool and sought after place to visit indeed. Google Alerts tell me that even celebrities such as the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus rave so much about Pinkberry. Oh and yes - when I ask Nidhi what fuels her desire to visit a Pinkberry Store again, she adorns a winsome smile (I know she's visualising her last memorable experience in yoghurt store before framing her answer) and says with conviction:
"Chinmay, Fun lies in leaving people better than you find them and Pinkberry offers exactly this kinda fun !"
While I wait for an opportunity to feed myself with this supposedly super-special frozen desert - enjoy the theme Pinkberry Song here , here or here. I love it !

Friday, October 10, 2008

Scope In Scope Out...!

The City of Mumbai has fascinated me since I stepped in this amazing city - Its fast paced life, diversity of cultures and exceptionally ambitious and creative people. Now that my dentist has given me a go ahead, I feel like a free bird and next few days I am going to travel a lot - thats for sure. While waiting for the local train at Nerul Train Station today, I noticed a Train that came to a screeching halt at the adjacent Platform. I mean agreed - it was a normal "9 Coach Slow Local" Train that was way too occupied and promised an eventful ride to a new passenger. However, what impressed me was the its external appearence. Quickly I pulled my camera of my bag and took a snap (Okay quality is not decent by any means but Nikon D90 wasn't nearby :)).

As you can see, the advertisement covers every bit of the coach and what's notable is that the whole the same ad ran across all coaches of this train. What appears NORMAL at first might have amazing consequences / impact to a daily passenger if one steps back & wonder:

  • Attention Span: In our present super busy lives, we make (or have to make) very quick decisions everyday based on what we feel, hear and most importantly see. This kind of advertising is sure to grab one's attention.
  • Take It Easy: I define this kind of advertising as "Take It Easy" one. Neither the advertisers are forcing / interrupting us to view their ads (like in Television)nor they are distracting us elsewhere (Internet Ads).
  • Epicentre: You can ignore Ad on one coach or may be 2 coaches if you are quite indifferent or busy on phone like me. However, if the whole train is painted Red or Yellow or Blue - c'mmon you are bound to atleast give it a passing glance.
  • Imprint: For daily passengers in Mumbai, commute in trains is the time when they unwind a little, think about how their day was, feel good about heading for home / office etc. In such a scenario, if you spot this kind of a Ad - believe it or not - you'll atleast remember you saw a train with "Dena Bank" or McDonalds" Ad on it. Thats it - that was the whole idea !
Likewise interpretations can be many but the fact that I would like to accentuate here is - we can always define things as SCOPE IN - SCOPE OUT. There are people who complain about [SCOPE OUT] things like how crowded trains in Mumbai are, they aren't Air-Conditioned, its riskier to travel in them and what not. And then there are some smarter folks (I meant advertisers here) who focus on [SCOPE IN] things, put their creative foot forward and make a difference. The growing school of thought in my mind tells me that when faced with an unpleasing situation or a not to co-operative person - we can always focus on SCOPE IN things, think of abstract ideas and be happy. Sounds easy - isn't it?
"Faith is good, but doubt is what gets you education"

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Crisis Of Implementation...!

Now that (Thanks to the Dental Surgery I had early this week) my volume knob has been forcefully turned down for 3 days, I feel so different (read rejuvenated) for I am certainly not used to staying quiet for periods more than few minutes ! Since past 48 hours, the numerous thoughts emanating from my otherwise chattering mind have subsided quite well and I must admit that everything around seems so strange. Never before I was able to appreciate seemingly small things around me - like vivid colours of the fruits and vegetables while going for shopping at local market, notice shopkeepers strange 'n' different expressions while I pay for the goods purchased, genuinely appreciate home made food by focussing more on its taste rather than taking about my US' experiences or enjoy listening to the latest hits ! My initial reaction to the suggested (My dentist Dr. Suhana Gupta is brilliant by the way) abstinence from solid food and speech was hostile ; afterall for the first time I am really short of time and I have so much on the agenda - visit old friends, meet relatives, go for few treks around Mumbai, buy and read many bestsellers, explore latest restaurants, call up close pals but then life is all about surprises - isn't it?

Anyways, on a positive note the past 2 weeks of my dental treatment has left me with oodles of energy, bunch of crazy ideas and plenty of matter for my blogs and sketches. For now I would like to share a few pointers that might help in keeping our teeth strong, clean and healthy (Wish I was receptive to health related tips before :))
  • Destination Cleanliness : Brushing our teeth regularly atleast twice a day is a MUST.
  • A Matter Of Habit : Most of the Gen-X food we devour contains cheese, butter, oils and other substances that tend to stay in our mouths for an extended period of time. My Doc says one should rinse mouth 7 times after every meal.
  • Vitamin C to the Rescue : Vit C builds up the tensile strenth of teeth. So have more yum lemonades or feel free to sprinkle more lime juice as a seasoning on processed food.
  • Boost Fibre Intake : All dieticians suggest a Fibre Rich diet for a healthier heart. I'll just add that most of the unprocessed Fibre rich foods are relatively harder to chew which means more exercise for the teeth ! And yes the darker the vegetable, the more the natural fibre content in it.
  • Irrigate Often : Using Oral Irrigators that aim a stream of water at your teeth to remove food particles is better than using toothpricks.

That said, the challenge lies in implementing these tips and many others. But on second thought beautiful smile doesn't come without efforts :D

"Memorable Moments just come and go like ripples in a stream"