Salt in a Lake

Everybody have their own ways to deal with dull mood. I used to write computer programs to come out of it when I was in college. That used to give me kick. In the last few years, I have gained interest in theatres and that has been my new kick-ass way to come out of it. Last Saturday, I had gone to Rangashakara, a nearby theatre, one of the best in the city. I had read about the scheduled play “Some Times” over the web and it looked good. Luck was it that I found a ticket even after arriving at only a little before show time.

The story revolved around Paramjit, a youth who is indifferent towards his father’s nagging advice on joining his family transport business because he is interested in creative work like advertisement, and has a untalented asshole boss in his job at an advertisement firm who wants way too much work and pays too little. Whilst his mother is upset with him about his lack of attention to her and the family, his girlfriend wants love a concept with which he is not too familiar with. But he has his friends. And top class weed and an affinity for whiskey. And a night life that would put batman to shame. And because of all this, he has very little time.

This nice little story in conjunction with brilliant direction, funny intelligent dialogues and extraordinary intense performances made this a spectacular show. The kind that would tickle various emotions. One of the best that I have watched. The finale brought the audience to its feet and the applause went on for minutes.

In the last piece of the play, after his death due to a fight, Parmeetay analyzes his life and realizes things that he could have done differently. Back to life of believing in oneself and impossibilities, fascinated by play, if nothing else, I left the theatre with this one dialog from his conversation with God.

“A spoon of salt in a glass of water makes it salty, but hardly makes any difference to the taste of water in a lake”. The pain will always be there, but it is upto us the container we choose to put that in.

“Death is life’s way of saying you’re fired ! ” – another funny one worth remembering !

Scared !

Scared and scared like hell I am at this moment. I have been watching a lot of interviews and reading a lot of articles to find some motivation and belief that things would be better and that it is not very late yet to fix things. It has become extremely frequent for me to plan and fail to execute the plan and then re-plan. And when that happens I am scared the most. Only if I am able to execute the plan well, I am sure I won’t be scared which ever way the result goes. The only thing I need to do is to stick to the plan, and the rest will follow.

Day before yesterday I brain dumped all my current commitments on a document. If at any time, I am working on any of these things, I am good. If for pretty long time, my actions are not towards accomplishing any of those things, things are definitely bad.

There are a couple of things wrong in my attitude. Of late, I have stopped respecting any commitment (be it personal and professional) and allowing myself to be ridiculed  (by self and by others) for not keeping up with those commitments. My attitude has turned highly casual. I see that I complain about it but really don’t have that zeal to fix it.
I believe I am in deep deep trouble !

Good night !

I wanted to become a good computer engineer but…

became a stupid software engineer six years down the line in my career. In college, I was a computer science student and very quickly fell in love with programming. I knew I wanted to become a good computer engineer, little I knew that in due course of time with little focus in learning, I would end up becoming an average software engineer – and would only know a little more than what I learned in college. In fact, in a few areas, I am no longer as good as I was then – take for instance ‘problem solving’, puzzles. So, really what happened ? Let me take you through the journey pretty quick.

In college, I did hell lot of programming, read several books, participated in umpteen number of programming competitions – won a few as well, to hone my programming skills and of course I loved doing it too. National Instruments, a pretty reputed company, in the line of product development who paid good too, found me worthy of the job among my talented batch mates. Lot of glory and appreciation came my way post that in college, which made my time in the last year of college very wonderful. Joined NI soon after college and met extremely talented people from different colleges. I was very focused and determined and performed extraordinarily – which made a top leader in the company see a lot of potential in me. His appreciation naturally attracted appreciation from lot other people. After 2 years, the management felt that I should be assigned more critical role and I was put in an extremely important team- compiler team, in the team of 3 extremely talented individuals in the organization. I was nervous and was overwhelmed with the pressure of doing well.

It has been close to four years since then and still I have been performing the same role – no less critical, no more. Among those 3 most talented individuals, two are still there and 1 another very talented and focused engineer has joined the team 2 years back. It was very expected of me by my peers and leaders, that I would be climbing the ladder quicker than others – and in a way I have let them down. I feel ashamed to admit that after the time of around 3.5 years in compiler team, I know very little of compiler – I haven’t even finished one-quarter of any compiler book, hardly did any programming outside the work (and think of it that was the thing I fell in love with), no compiler projects, no conference attended, and no of a lot of things. The point is that all my time in the last 4 years has been spent in being managing to complete office work and dealing with personal distractions (some people call it quarter life crisis caused by several reasons- in my case it was primarily caused by the absence of a girl friend), personal commitments. The basis of all that has been extremely poor time management and lack of determination. Often personal distractions kept me from performing effectively at work. It wasn’t like that I did not realize or wasn’t aware of the losing time and opportunities. There were moments of frustrations and fearfulness and so there were plans, discussions, mentoring from people but no action items were executed. Of course, it was also to do with my lack of sufficient intent of learning.

Any ways, I just realize that I have forgotten to state what I mean when I say computer engineer versus when I say software engineer. The way I define them is that a software engineer is one who is good in developing softwares, has good programming skills (can program in various languages), and can test a software well – that is all. One individual in my team once said that he considers engineers in companies like Infosys, Wipro as merely software engineers. Another individual in my team named them as code-monkeys who does not really care what’s underneath the code. And that is where a computer engineer comes in, who is not just well-equipped in developing software, but is also aware of various software and hardware optimizations he can make use of in his program.  He is aware of computer architecture and writes programs well suited to the type of underlying hardware. One who can argue about the different optimization techniques, different linker and loader strategies.
Sadly, I am still merely a software engineer from college.

Naturally, this is not a good feeling and as I am growing in my career, I feel the heat of it more with every passing day. I feel dumb in the company of my talented peers, with really nothing to contribute. As it clearly stands out, for what ever reasons – lack of determination, intent of learning, quarter life crisis, whatever – they have left me stranded with no descent achievement at neither professional or personal level.

However, I’d like to believe that this is not the end of the world for me and the door is still open to mark an entry on the other side.  So to start with, here I jot down a few things to accomplish in the next 5-6 months. I realize that I should go by rules imagining that I am held in prison and of course, the rules are not questioned there, and one does have only little flexibility to not follow the rule. Do not go by heart and follow the rules of the warden for the next few months, and the heart will follow.
– Lot of high level and low level programming (A program per day)
– Study books : Linkers and Loaders, Computer architecture, Engineering in compiler
– Papers on computer architectures and compilers
– Learning as much as I can
– Play tennis and cricket for fun to remain fit and energetic

In a mission from a stupid software engineer to a good computer engineer, the march starts today !!!

List of impossibles

A few days back I read an interesting post -‘An unexpected Ass kicking’ shared on FB, and little I knew that I’d stumbled upon a blog that would inspire me to create my own blog.  Reading through several posts at this blog of impossible made me take a hard look at myself, and made me realize how unfortunately I have been settling myself with miniature goals and fearing to pursue harder attainments. Joel Runyon’s has an impossible list that has items he never thought he could do. I am going to have one such list for myself. Some other impossible lists to look at are adidazon, 30before30  if you are interested.

I’d want to dedicate my first post to ‘Blogs of Impossible Things’, and like to finish off with three inspiring excerpts from his blog.

‘If you can see yourself doing something, you can do it. If you can’t see yourself doing it, usually you can’t achieve it.’ – 

‘If you’re scared to death, you are doing it right’

“When you want to succeed as bad as you wanna breathe then you will be successful.’