March 24, 2005

Questions

After living together and being virtually married for almost a year now, most people expect us to gulp down the bittersweet pill and get actually married sooner or later. The funny thing, though, with us is that we are probably going exactly in the opposite direction, leaving everyone more sad than what we could possibly be. Even though there are times when I ask myself if I have any real clue about the difficulty of what I am trying to pull off, most of the times I am quite confident of making it possible.

In the course of a year, I have learnt a multitude of things, and as queasy as it sounds to me, I have had to 'grow up' a fair bit and step out of the thinking corner where there the only botheration and the only person who is right and wronged is yourself. It has also taught me the value of commitment, in terms of time and effort, that is required to keep even the best of things going over a long period of time. There are places where you just cannot cut corners, be it the 7th day or the 7th year of the relationship.

Where I go from here is something that I have not figured out yet. For most parts, it is something that is not upon me yet and once again it is heavily tangled up with the direction that my career might take. It is no big secret that I am not happy with where I am or my own performance in the past year and a half. I can do a lot more, with better quality too, but I am not sure if I will be able to do it in a large firm. There are so many questions in my mind, to most of which I don't have any answers.

March 14, 2005

Brink

Caught between never ending bouts on various fronts in life's match, sometimes I can't help but wonder if one day I shall wake up and ask myself either who I am, or if I would have to teach myself how to breathe, how to slow down or how to do nothing at all? There is always one fire or another to fight, time that is almost never spent the way I want to spend it and a list of things to do that only keeps getting longer. The thing is, there should be at least one aspect of your life where you are willing to go to, maybe over too, the brink. Right now, I have none and I keep walking away from too many things way too many times.

March 11, 2005

Down for the count

While the blogosphere is still trying to come to terms with Mediaah's second demise, the Wayback Machine seems to have taken the side of mainstream media (MSM) by last archiving the site when the first demise was in progress! Bad humour and crappy conspiracy theories apart, I would still want to see (or ask around and find out) what the contents of the legal notice were. From what I have been told, there have been two legal notices -- one from the bad boys of Indian media and the other from a person, in the news due to tidings in far away London, about whom Mediaah has been writing about recently.

Firstly, I do not understand the ruckus about the MSM censoring blogs and the premature predictions about the end of the world as far as blogs are concerned. Relax, this is not the end of the world. Libel, slander etc have always been part of the proceedings if you were going to ruffle a few 'pristine' feathers here and there. There is just no excuse for kicking ass and then not expecting a backlash from the owner of the ass. It is just ridiculous and naive to do something like that. For instance, I am writing things here knowing fully well that I can be thrown out for a number of things if my employer wants to do just that. If I can't live with that, then I have no business writing all this. It is not a perfect world, but that is the world we live in.

Legally speaking, there would really be no point for Pradyuman to fight it out in the courts. Even in the case of SCO chasing after the open source community, there have been judgements which were legally sound, but absurd from the point of view of a programmer. Law, really, is one of the slowest adapting institutions in any society, especially in India. Moreover, Mediaah, from what we have been told, does not make any reasonable amount of money and media organisations excel in long-drawn lawsuits as a side business, making it a non-starter of an option. For that matter, Pradyuman's current line of thinking sounds like the most reasonable for me. Lay low for a while, get the heat off his back, let Google lead you to the archives (the links to the archived pages at the bottom work well enough) and start elsewhere with at least a token amount of protection.

What bothers me, though, are the fever pitched comments about the demise of a watchdog and how journalism would suffer collectively. What most of these wide-eyed-wonderers don't realise is that journalism, as they imagine it to be, does not really exist anymore. It is a matter of folklore and fond nostalgia, than reality. Marketing and ad sales people call the shots in newspapers not by accident. Nobody, not even a newspaper, sells their soul unknowingly. It is done by purpose. Gulp it down and get over it. There is not a lot for you to change there. Move on. If you really want to make a change, start something on your own, show how it should be done. Probably then the realisation would dawn that the world is not quite as black and white as it is often made out to be.

Update (Monday, March 14, 2005): The famous 19 posts have been re-posted here and the legal notice has been put up in full here.

March 09, 2005

Mediugh?

For the second time in its short-but-controversial existence, Mediaah!, which portrays itself as "The Media's Media" in India, finds itself troubled legal waters. Even though I find Pradyuman Maheshwari's style to be a bit too over the top at times, it has always been worthy read, especially due to the fact that it is written by someone who belongs to the industry, with a better appreciation of the troubled state of affairs in it, than by the ever-so-eager-to-nitpick crowd who seem to have become a favourite with the blogosphere.

On the other hand, I am slightly baffled how Pradyuman thought he could sail away to the Poynter shores, steering the ship the way he was doing it. Reproducing internal memos, verbatim or otherwise, is not really the best way to become a media think tank. In fact, it is a surefire way to ask for trouble, especially if you are not a brawny entity with plenty of legal and monetary clout to back you all the way. Also, you would be better off sticking more to well researched analysis and commentary than controversy, to steer clear of the legal eagles.

A large part of this problem can also be directly attributed to the old school type of thinking that is still a key aspect of the way India media functions. Even in prominent online firms, the people who are in the know are often less than a handful. Other than the fancy bits that accompany every online set up, the thinking in most media places is still archaic at the best. So, asking for mercy as the emerging face of citizen journalism on the net is really asking for way too much. I wish there was a better way for Mediaah!, but I am afraid there really is not much hope.

The above mentioned reason is also the reason why, even after considering it a lot of times, I still shy away from blogging under my real name. The company I work for, not being a darling of the Internet community, also increases my chance of being an unwanted attention magnet. To make things even more complicated, a lack of policy related to blogging and my not being in a capacity to comment on behalf of the firm only serve to make things tougher. Even though I would love to interact with end users of products I am involved with, the risks outweigh the benefits by way too much for my comfort to go ahead and do something like that.

March 07, 2005

GooOS Screen Of Death

Even as the meme repeats itself in an endless loop, I cannot understand why in the world would Google want to create an operating system of its own. Google's core philosophy is to reuse existing components. Be it clustering commodity servers for their search or using javascript wizardry to conjure up the Gmail magic, Google has always built its products on the base of components that already exist out there. Creating another OS would mean creating another, probably unique, set of problems for the company to solve, which is almost always best left to Microsoft, Sun and Linux.

What the company could definitely use is a client side application that could start with e-mail and then move onwards into the territory occupied by office suites. Google search can already read and display a variety of formats and what is to stop them from introducing a minimalist software that could get you thinking, "Damn, why was I living with all that bloat earlier?" Of course, this is not something that would make a certain Mr./Sir Gates at Microsoft a very happy chappie, but Google is already pissing them off a fair bit as it is. And with Sergey's personal history, sadistic pleasure might just be the ki(c/n)k that does the trick for him.

Shining Sun

If there is one company who has turned around from being on the brink of total irrelevance to something of a major player in the technology sector, it is Sun Microsystems. Early last year, when rumours started to seep out that they would embrace open source, I was skeptical at best and really did not buy any of it. Now, in March 2005, Sun has been has been something of a revelation and an evolving pleasant surprise to watch out for. I have not studied the CDDL nor have I taken a look at the spanking new Solaris 10. In any case, I am looking forward to how Redhat reacts to its turf being trampled upon and more of Sun president Jonathan Schwartz's controversial opinions on his blog.