June 25, 2007


Deja Vu

Subscribing to bunch of popular tech blogs gives me a sense of deja vu constantly. Most of the time, they cover same event at almost the same time with same picture inserted. It confuses me a lot, and over a period of time, I have learnt to switch off such pattern recognition algorithms from my brain.

But, this one is blog-worthy. I read an idea on Freakonomics and was stumped to read the same one in Hindu Business Line. Too much of coincidence or plain old p-word?

June 20, 2007


If you are looking for shashi.kant@[Google's mailing service] ...

From past few weeks, somebody is trying hard to get the password for the account shashi.kant@[Google's mailing service]. That person is generating tons of Google Assistance for "Forgot Password" mails for me.

According to Gmail Rules user.name@gmail.com is same as username@gmail.com (ie without the dot). In other words, shashikant, shashi.kant, shash.i.kant, s.h.a.s.h.i.k.a.n.t all belong to me. Please stop bothering me.

Asides: Simple mathematical assignment. Tell me the total number of different user names that map to my ID?

June 11, 2007


Shrek The Third


Disclaimer: I'm an ardent fan of animation movies with special love for the Ogre series.

Movie critics never get as much excited as writing review of the sequels of franchise. Even before watching the movie they can pen "Oh, they are whoring themselves out for for the box office consideration" lament. They derive monstrous pleasure as they lampoon these movies. Never mind, the spectacular disasters churned by the likes of Khalid Mohammad.

Blame the filmmakers of being materialistic, but then who is not. If they have toiled hard for the first movie, it is perfectly reasonable to print more money with the sequel having same formula. The very reason a sequel exists because the first movie has received warm welcome at box office (and sometimes by critics.) As an audience I have my expectations set. All I want from the film is the same experience as earlier movie. Minor problem is in the second movie there is very little to no novelty factor, which is fine. Getting people love an ugly green ogre is a stunt which cannot be pulled twice. (Same applies to "Matrix" where the first movie sets bar so high, that film-makers are at their wits' end just to meet that second time. I haven't seen many sequel movies, but the only exceptions to this rule are "Godfather" and "Terminator." )

So, I was looking for the same humour, mildly PG rated than the squeaky clean from Pixar's, great animation from Shrek 3. DreamWorks guys do this quite well. The quality of animation is getting so good that I wonder if there is any future for second-rate actors at all. (The voice will be provided by A-stars, so you need A-stars.) The costumes of most of the important characters were as good as the real ones. Prince Charming, the villain of the story, has been showered with special attention, with the fairy-tale princesses coming close second. The facial expressions are as impeccable as they were in earlier movies. It's shame these characters can't compete in the "Best (Supporting) Actor Male/Female" categories. Even they create a whole new 20-second sequences for Gingy.

The story builds seamlessly where it was left last time. There are no contrived situations under the garb of cinematic liberty, though I feel the addition of "three superhot princesses" left little space for existing characters, though "dronkeys" add the fun element. I would have personally loved more of Shrek, Fiona, Donkey and Puss in boot. The humour has some adult appeal - especially when Shrek gets the nightmares of fatherhood. The voice overs by the stars is impeccable.

Net, net, 8/10 for the DreamWorks gang. May the box-office be with you.

While I look forward to 4th in the series, people are already speculating titles of 115th Shrek movie.

Image taken from IMDB.

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Beta is so in!


Update: According to RG, Beta (with capital B) is not just in vogue, but it, actually, is the new mainstream. Totally.

You heard it here first!

June 06, 2007


Free Markets and Exit Barriers

According to an article in Economic Times, Infosys has asked its employees to sign non-compete agreement. This essentially means, if an employee of Infosys cannot join its competitors - TCS, Wipro, IBM Global Services, Cognizant & Accenture - within six months of resignation. According to an Infosys executive "Infosys may be one of the last few to initiate this," indicating this might be a industry-wide practice. (I haven't heard of such agreement, actually.)

I find this wrong at two levels.

First and real big one. The Indian IT industry is the flag-bearer of the free-market philosophy. When US reduced the the H1B visa grants, the entire industry stood together and termed the move as protectionist and against the free market, of which, in turn, US is a great admirer. They are lobbying hard to ensure "adequate" number of visas.

But, the non-compete clause flies in the face of the free market argument. When these six companies together employ almost 50% (guesswork, but should be close to that) of the total workforce in industry, non-compete agreement is nothing but forming a cartel. I vaguely remember various BPO companies coming together to curb the astronomical attrition rate, by not recruiting each others' employees. (I don't know what's the current status.) So, just when the free markets start hurting, the IT giants are taking the shelter of oligopoly. How convenient! And if the company actually cares about Intellectual Property (IP), competitive advantage, yada, yada, they should show their solidarity by paying 3 months salary for 6 months cooling-off period. Moral? As universally known, free markets are not one way street.

Second thing which is wrong with this agreement. As much as the HR department would term this as an exit barrier, to me, this is very much an entry barrier. Another shady exit barrier is to signing an agreement which says, the employee has to compensate the company if he/she leaves before a stipulated period - usually one year. Now, think of an analogy. One bank offers you 8% interest pa on the 1-year term deposit and 11% pa on 3-year term deposit. But if you withdraw money before the term, you get 0% interest. Now, even if you have slight doubt that you may have to break the 3-year term, you will quickly grab the 8% option. In the same way, if a person has two options - signing the non-compete agreement or not signing the agreement and taking a small hit on compensation (or some other parameter) - chances are high that the person will choose the second option. Which essentially means, after the entire hiring process is complete, the candidate worth hiring decides not join for some silly legal clause. Such entry barriers achieve nothing but shoo off good people. When you want to hire 37% of the crowd who can pronounce C# correctly, it is not wise to build such barriers.

And those who are still stuck in the walled gardens? Well, they are making sure others know about it in unequivocal terms.

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