Archive for the ‘Sundries’ Category

More posts soon (I Hope)

November 8, 2012 2 comments

My best time for blogging is the weekends.  Evenings are long here.  Since we do so many calls with the US, work usually wraps up 7:30 or 8-ish – or a little later now with the US daylight savings time change.  We do start at the office a bit later, 10 or so, but I like to use the mornings to exercise and catch up on newspaper reading – I read the NY Times, Boston Globe and India Times.

2 weekends ago I spent Saturday car-shopping – I’ll have a whole post about that in a few weeks – and Sunday golfing, at the Poona Golf Club:


Noel Coward wrote that “Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun.”  We have to add golfers to that.

Then this past weekend I was in Mumbai, at an IBM SWG team event called “Connect in 2012” and an IBM customer event called Software Universe.  The opening presentation for this event had a video on a super-wide screen – like, 50 meters wide – and 3 ninja-like dancers “manipulating” the images as if there was a giant touch-screen:


The event was great, I got to speak with a number of Indian customers and Indian colleagues, plus many technical leaders who travelled here from around the world.

Today I travel to Bangalore for the wrap-up of the week’s technical meetings.  But I’ll be back on Saturday and hopefully will have time for some more blogging.

Categories: Sundries

Small Differences

September 8, 2012 Comments off

Folk wisdom tells us “it’s the little things that matter”.  Matter or not, they sure get noticed.  Something you notice quickly coming to India from the US is: elevators.  The buttons on many elevators here are arranged like these:


This is the elevator where I work.  US folks I’m sure will instantly notice the difference; the floors go up first on the left side, then restart and go up on the right side.  I have seen Westerners wanting to go to the 2nd floor mistakenly press 5, because it is to the right of 1.

The elevator at my apartment looks like this:


Elevators like this are in the minority here in India.  This is the US style, where the numbers are arranged so that all the “higher” ones are at the top.  Also notice it uses the Indian convention for actual numbering of floors.  In the US the floor at ground level is called 1; in India that floor is called 0 or ground, and the 1st floor is what in the US we would call 2nd.

Why is the ordering different?  The US view would be that our ordering is more intuitive, that all higher floors are accessed by “higher” buttons.  For example at my work elevator the button for 4th floor is lower down than the button for the 3rd floor.

But calling that intuitive assumes several things.  One is that we care about the physical height of floors.  More and more the floors in an office or apartment building are abstract destinations, places you go to without knowing or caring about the physical relationship to the other numbered destinations … until, of course, the elevators aren’t working and you have to use stairs.  Anyway it seems less clear to me nowadays that the height attribute has the power it once had.

A second and probably more important thing is reading order.  Indo-European languages are written to be read side-to-side.  Traditional Chinese is written up-and-down.  Many elevators here in India are in fact made in China, so I suppose this aspect of writing may be in play here.

Conclusion: Look before you press.

Categories: Sundries, Technology, Travel

Krugman, Matty Groves & The Culture

August 26, 2012 1 comment

I’m a regular reader of Paul Krugman’s articles and blog.  One of my takeaways from B-school was an interest in macroeconomics and Krugman’s objective and unapologetic style – as well as his argument – clicks with me.

But I’m not posting about economics.  I find I share Krugman’s taste in music and books.  His last Friday’s post featured Fairport Convention, an all-time favorite band for for the Salazar family.  Other bands he likes I find I like too: The Civil Wars, and Arcade Fire.

Krugman’s an SF fan too, there was an article about it in the Globe some months back.  Reading that I thought I’d try some of his picks.  That got me hooked on Iain M. Banks Culture series

Over 4th of July vacation I read Use of Weapons and Excession; both were good, though I liked Excession more.  Anyway, being here in India on my assignment, not yet joined by family, I have a lot of time for reading.  Since coming here I finished Consider Phlebas and am halfway through Look to Windward.  I haven’t found any SF I like for so long, The Culture is a great to come across now – vast, space-opera scope, which makes it fun, and at the same time just good characters, which makes it interesting.



If this stuff is news to you, check out some of Krugman’s music and books.  Of course if you also look into his politics, I really can’t help that, now, can I?

Categories: Books, Sundries

This Is The Day

August 3, 2012 2 comments

The day I travel to Pune, Maharashtra, India to start my 2 year assignment.  Is everything ready?  I suspect not.  But time to go regardless; whatever remains to be settled will have to be done in India.

Here’s one thing I have learned in the months of preparation for this assignment: The government of India loves photographs.  Photographs of you, that is: passport-sized, in sets of 3 for most every interaction you will have.  Want to move into your apartment?  You need to file your “C Form”, one copy for you and everyone in your family, together with 3 pictures of everyone.  Want to open a bank account? 3 pictures.  Register as a foreigner?  3 pictures.  Get a cell phone?  Yes, 3 pictures.  And this is all in addition to endless photocopies of your passport, visa, driver’s license, marriage license and more.  I would someday love to visit the master photo vaults – which I assume *must* exist – where spectacled clerks use tweezers to place each submitted photo into its government-mandated album.

Anyway, a bit of advice #1 for anyone considering a foreign posting: Get a scanner. Mine is a ScanJet G4050.  I got this about a year and a half ago to scan a large box of photos and negatives from the 80s and 90s.  Here’s one of my favorites, a picture from 1991 scanned from a negative:

scan0001 (6)This is daughter Alex at around age 2 months.  This was the first effort of a never finished (just as well) photo series entitled “Babies and Fruit”.

Back to the scanner – I had to capture a great many documents: diplomas, birth certificates, driver’s licenses, utility bills and more.  If I had to go off to a copy shop every time one or another of these was requested, I’d never get to India.  But once everything is scanned you can easily fire off emails with PDFs in response to each next request.

My suitcases are half packed … need to go finish that.  Then its printing out last minute forms, copying files to an external USB drive, filling out the manifest for my air shipment of goods, and a few other odds and ends.

I’ll leave you all with some music from the 80s, by a band I enjoyed then and still do, The The:

Surely a change indeed.  Next post will be from my new  home.  Namaste.

Categories: Expat life, Sundries

You just want to say one word to me. Just one word.

May 20, 2012 2 comments

You can make it “plastics” if you want, but I’d really like to hear peoples’ best 1-word bit of advice … leave it as a comment.


Oh, but why, you ask?  Because yesterday was my graduation – I now have an MBA, from Babson College.  It took 3 1/2 years of mostly 2 nights in the classroom each semester and comprised 19 courses, ranging from Accounting & Finance to Negotiations to “Creative Destruction”.  Over that time I was part of 7 group projects, and worked with classmates from at least 10 countries (Japan, Peru, Chile, S. Korea, China, India, Pakistan, Germany, Sweden, Spain).  It was fun, in a weird way, mainly because of the diversity of the topics.  My job is a pretty interesting one, but still it is a single product in a single industry.  In the program I did cases and papers on companies ranging from small family businesses, to startups, industrial manufacturing, global conglomerates and technology leaders.

But now its done and now I have to apply this learning to the real world.  I do wonder about much the same things as younger graduates – where to go and how to get there.  I’d love to hear your 1-word advice – or, if you can’t keep it to one word, try for a “Go west, young man!” type of sentence.

Categories: Sundries

Musical Questions

February 15, 2012 3 comments

Listening to some drive-time radio, this occurred to me … how many musical questions could I remember?  I’ll start of with the one I heard on the radio:

“If happy little bluebirds fly above the rainbow, why can’t I?”

Here goes:

“Do you wanna dance?”
”Do you you believe in magic?”
”What’s new?”
”How much is that doggie the window?”
”Do you know the way to San Jose?”
”Will you love me tomorrow?”
”Where have all the flowers gone?”
“Who’ll stop the rain?”
”Is she really going out with him?”
”Should I stay or should I go?”
”Who wrote the book of love?”

and, for the punctuation-alert …

“What is this thing called, love?”

There’s more than a little rhetoric in these questions.  Most musical questions are erotema, while  Pete Seeger clearly knew all about hypophora.

Remembered one more:

“How soon is now?”

Categories: Sundries

My weekend with Jean-Pierre …

February 10, 2012 Comments off

.. Melville, that is, legendary director of such films as  L’ Armée des ombres (Army of Shadows) and Le Cercle rouge (The Red Circle). I have a yen to watch his stuff.  This weekend’s viewing: Bob le flambeur (Bob the Gambler) and Le Samouraï.

Why, you might ask?  I have some story ideas developing and I want to try and absorb some of le maître’s elan, style and suspense to help me bring them together.  Yes, hopeless, I know … but if nothing else it’s time better spent than watching Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes, or any of the other assaults on the classics that pass for film today.

Categories: Sundries

To Serve[r] Man

January 31, 2012 1 comment

Last weekend’s around the house task involved this stuff:

  • server-buildAMD Athlon II X4 610e Propus 2.4GHz 45W 4-Core CPU
  • PNY GeForce GT 430 (Fermi) 1GB Video Card
  • G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB DDR3 Memory
  • CORSAIR Pro Series 650W Modular Power Supply
  • ASUS M4A87TD/USB3 AMD Motherboard
  • Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB SATA 6.0Gb HD
  • 2 x Western Digital Caviar Black 1.5TB SATA 6.0Gb HDs
  • ASUS SATA 24X DVD Burner
  • Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound
    All obtained from – is there anywhere else?  I chose the 45w CPU because I wanted a machine that will stay cool without an aggressive cooler, and that I can leave on 24×7.

All of these components went into a 4U case that was running a really old rig that I had long intended as a home server but never really used.  It took longer to disassemble the old stuff than to put together the new – can’t beat SATA interfaces (vs ancient wide IDE cables) and modular power supplies.

Getting the box operational was the easy part; next came software.  I decided to go with Windows Server 2008 RC2 Enterprise Edition.  I did consider making this a Linux box, but I have a couple of ASP websites I run that I wanted to bring on to this new box, and using Windows will make file-sharing easier amongst the Salazar family’s various PCs.  And I have the license from my MSDN sub.  Anyway getting Windows up wasn’t too bad – the biggest hitch was in getting motherboard and RAID drivers on the box.  The installs that ASUS provides don’t recognize WinServer 2008 as a “valid” Windows version.  I managed to bypass the top-level ASUS installs and directly install some .msi’s.


Here’s the end-result … NFS volume BIGPLANET with 2.7 TBs of space.  It’s already storing my saved episodes of Samurai Jack … had to get the important stuff on there first.

Of course the hardest part of doing this sort of thing is figuring out what to name the box.  BIGPLANET gives you a clue … my scheme for naming home machines is to take names from the works of Jack Vance.  The winner for the new server name: DARSAI, home planet of the nefarious Lens Larque, one of the villains in Vance’s The Demon Princes.

Next steps: Checking out good backup software, installing SQL Server, and copying tons of TV shows.

Categories: Sundries, Technology

Maybe the Mayans were right …

January 3, 2012 Comments off

… since 2012 is here and I’ve started a blog.  I have many topics in mind: Technology, Communications, Books, Food, Golf, Politics, and Swords, just to name those that occur to me first.  We’ll see how many of these, and how often, I actually talk about.

Categories: Sundries