Wednesday, December 17, 2008

IT in the world of Karl Popper

We can summarize Karl Poppers critical rationalism in one sentence (my interpretation).

All scientific theories in the world, by default are false or waiting to be falsified.

Let us consider one example – say there is a theory that says "Sun rises in the east". The empirical observation for billions of years would not validate the theory, if for some reason, for just one day, sun raises from South.

The empirical evidence of billions of years would go for toss, with just one proof of counter existence. Or let us say there is no Sun rise at all – in Helio-centric world, there is no Sun rise, as you are on Sun.

Likewise, we can extend this to all other notions in life. Our resumes are all full of the empirical data of our successes, but due to some random cosmic coincidence or conspiracy, there is a chance that one might fail in the next assignment.

Similarly, whenever an IT Architect provides a blue print for a new application, the supporting evidence is always the empirical data from previous projects and the blue print is just waiting for one random event to disprove the "silver bullet" model.

Some past recollections…

1. Robotics was considered to be the next best thing in the world for Automotive industries, till GM spent all their savings and earning for fully automated car manufacturing. (Early 1980s). Till then, 1980, robotics experiments had all empirical data to support that they are cost effective and can never fail.

2. Dotcom bubble (late 1990s) – where pragmatists foretold the disappearance of shopping malls etc and humanity to be pushed into an era of digital life. Once again empirical data cost the investors dearly.

Those of us who understand my blog-process, would have guessed it correctly. I am talking about SOA. Till date we have empirical data to show case that we have our "silver bullet"…

Karl Popper – you may be correct…

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fwd: Ant and a Grasshopper_Indian Version

..... .Really a class analogy..

An Old Story:

 

The Ant works hard in the withering heat all summer
building its house and

laying up supplies for the winter.

The Grasshopper thinks the Ant is a fool and laughs &
dances & plays
the summer away.

Come winter, the Ant is warm and well fed.
The Grasshopper has no food or

shelter so he dies out in the cold.

 

Indian Version:

The Ant works hard in the withering heat all summer
building its house and

laying up supplies for the winter.

The Grasshopper thinks the Ant's a fool and laughs &
dances & plays
the summer away.

Come winter, the shivering Grasshopper calls a press conference and

demands to know why the Ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed

while others are cold and starving.

NDTV, BBC, CNN show up to provide pictures of the shivering Grasshopper

next to a video of the Ant in his comfortable home with a table filled

with food.

The World is stunned by the sharp contrast. How can this be that this poor

Grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?

Arundhati Roy stages a demonstration in front of the Ant's house.

Medha Patkar goes on a fast along with other Grasshoppers demanding that

Grasshoppers be relocated to warmer climates during winter .

Mayawati states this as `injustice' done on Minorities.

Amnesty International and Koffi Annan criticize the Indian Government for

not upholding the fundamental rights of the Grasshopper.

The Internet is flooded with online petitions seeking support to the

Grasshopper (many promising Heaven and Everlasting Peace for prompt

support as against the wrath of God for non-compliance) .

Opposition MPs stage a walkout. Left parties call for 'Bengal Bandh' in

West Bengal and Kerala demanding a Judicial Enquiry.

CPM in Kerala immediately passes a law preventing Ants from working hard in the heat
so as to bring about equality of poverty among Ants and

Grasshoppers.

Lalu Prasad allocates one free coach to Grasshoppers on all Indian Railway Trains, aptly named as the 'Grasshopper Rath'.

Finally, the Judicial Committee drafts the ' Prevention of Terrorism

Against Grasshoppers Act' [POTAGA], with effect from the beginning of the

winter.

Arjun Singh makes 'Special Reservation ' for Grasshoppers in Educational

Institutions & in Government Services.

The Ant is fined for failing to comply with POTAGA and having nothing left

to pay his retroactive taxes, it's home is confiscated by the Government

and handed over to the Grasshopper in a ceremony covered by NDTV.

 

Arundhati Roy calls it ' A Triumph of Justice'.

 

Lalu calls it 'Socialistic Justice '.

 

CPM calls it the ' Revolutionary Resurgence of the Downtrodden '

Koffi Annan invites the Grasshopper to address the UN General Assembly.




Many years later...

The Ant has since migrated to the US and set up a multi-billion dollar company in Silicon Valley,

100s of Grasshoppers still die of starvation despite reservation somewhere

in India,

..AND

As a result of loosing lot of hard working Ants and feeding the

grasshoppers, 

.

. India is still a developing country…!!!







--
~~~~ www.anilprasad.com

Monday, October 6, 2008

Great Indian Competitiveness Advantage is wanning...


Q. Where did the "great Indian competitiveness go?????"

A. To dogs...

- Read for yourself, how many of the great IT Hubs in India are featured in the article...

--
~~~~ www.anilprasad.com

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

HDFC Bank - can we bank on it?

Atanu Dey had had his love-hate relation with HDFC Bank ... Imagine an economist getting a royal $cr*w from them... what about a poor nobody like me... 

I recently walked into (on invitation) to the HDFC Bank next door to my office, along with the mandatory documents needed to open a saving account

1. PAN card (with a photocopy)
2. A recent photogragh
3. Proof of address

Everything went fine, till the counter-personnel told me that the address proof I presented cannot be accepted. 

The reason: HDFC Credit Card statement cannot be accepted as a proof of address, in spite of you being a loyal credit card user for last four years. 

Understand this - they trust me with their money (in form of a credit card) but cant accept my check for depositing my money into their bank. Some crap as reason, about Know Your Customer, yada yada ... 

Finally I had to give some other bank's account statement to get the account opened. 

After 10 days, I get call from someone from the bank that I have a pre-approved HDFC credit card and when would it be possible for me to fill out some "mandatory" forms to collect my credit card. 

Question: Do they really not know - who exactly I was, if I was already an account holder or I am some other jerk, before they issue, rather re-issue a credit card to the exisiting card holder. 

No wonder, the world economy is in $H1t shape, with more to come... may be India is also in the queue to get it's due. 

--
~~~~ www.anilprasad.com

Sunday, September 28, 2008

SOA has Indian origins

Purist would argue that SOA is not a new phenomenon that is taking up the hype-curve of IT, but an age-old principle – since the days of early packaged applications.

I propose a hypothesis that SOA’s origin can be traced to India. Rather, our dear babus of Indian Government were the main motive for SOA to come into lime-light.

After the burst of the dotcom bubble, there was not much of activity in Enterprise IT world. Sales dropped to an all time low, which gave a much needed breather to IT vendors to think of better solutions to the Enterprise world. One can recall that earlier generations of packaged application vendors adopted “silver bullet” approach when addressing the Enterprises.

This slack time gave them enough dope to do some research and provide a better (?) solution.

During the dotcom boom, many vendors opened their own shops (captive centers) in India. Every vendor worth their salt appointed one of their senior executives in India to overlook their Indian operations.

These senior executives when they went back to their homes (mostly in California) they were totally changed people. Their Indian experience gave them new insights into operations and this learning can be credited to be the founding principles for SOA.

Imagine acquiring 200 acres of land in Hyderabad (or any other metro) for setting up “campuses”; roughly the following are the steps that one needs to take, along with the approximate stipulated timelines. (Timelines are estimates – not actual)

Register a company in India:

  1. Apply for a limited company with the Registrar of Companies. (RoC) {2 days}
  2. Get clearance from RoC for the name. {1 week}
  3. Get clearance from Dept. of Commerce and Trade for FOREX clearance – so as to get money for other operations etc. {3 weeks}
  4. Join the STP or SEZ scheme. {4 weeks}
First to acquire land:

  1. Identify the location – in or around the metro; usually outside the metro. (3 weeks)
  2. Then talk to all the “patta” holders of the earmarked land and negotiate the price. (2 weeks)
  3. Then you need to talk to a solicitor and get legal opinion about the authenticity of the ownership documents. (1 week)
  4. Then get the land surveyed by the Revenue department, so as to map the details give in the ownership document with that of the official records. (1 week)
  5. Register the land in the company’s name. (transfer of ownership) (1 day)
  6. Apply for the conversion of the land type; say from agriculture to industrial or from barren to commercial etc. (1 week)
Start building the structure:

  1. Get the building lay out ready and applies for HUDA approval. (HUDA is equivalent of any Urban Development Authority in Hyderabad) (1 week)
  2. Incorporate the recommended changes. (1 week)
So technically the entire exercise of starting from scratch to getting the new building and to start production in India should not take more than 10 weeks, but in reality this would take at least 6 months. (In Singapore, with/without SOA it takes a mere 72 hrs to get things going.)

There are some unwritten protocols that need to be followed called the goonda-tax, where you need to give 10% of the total valuation of the project need to be paid to the local “political” leader.
Despite all these steps the senior executives could not get their stuff started, due to the underlying babudom.

It was then that they were introduced to the concept of SOA. Just approach the SOA vendor (in case of these senior executive, it was the local power-broker) where you have a single window to get all the things done within a small period of time. The entire “orchestration” of getting approvals from different departments would be easy and fast. The executives need not run between pillar and post to get their things happen, but be assured that the SOA-agent is getting things happen for them.

That senior executives were really amazed at the concept of agents here (India), be it the ROC, or the RTA or the Banks or rather at any other government agency. The simplicity of getting things done without going through the ordeal was something that stuck them with new set of thinking.

They went back to their country and then thought of something similar that can make the tedious tasks in Enterprise IT systems easy and thus started their research in “Indian” angle.
They named their research outcome as SOA (pronounced as SO-aAh!). Origin for that word is a story in itself: that was the first sound they all heard when they went to any Govt. Office in India. “saab soyah” – meaning “sir is asleep”.

Thus proves my theory. 

Monday, September 15, 2008

Shameless Indians

Long time back I wrote this "Shame on me" {Rather sometime in May 2006} 

Same drama of shameless Indians and their governing agencies called Govt. of India, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Home Affairs... 

Shameless... absolutely shameless.... 

(In other words - am ashamed to be part of this failed system : Again Shame on Me)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

SOA and Women

There seems to be many similarities in the life-cycle of a home-maker with that of IT folks in Enterprise. Neither can ever achieve the nirvana, of less work and more output.

Of the many promises of SOA, the prominent one is the reduction of burden on developers, maintenance personnel, engineers et al, who are commonly clubbed under a banner category called IT folks in an Enterprise.

Let us look at this one particular promise from a different perspective, by comparing this SOA fever in today’s IT World with that of electrification of households in early 1900s.

Paraphrasing Nicholas Carr from his latest book, “The Big Switch” which provides a deep insight into the electrification fever of early 1900 and later we will look at the SOA fever of 2000s.

{Page 89}

The Utopian Rhetoric was not just a literary conceit; it proved to be a powerful marketing pitch for the manufacturers of electric appliances. General Electric was particularly adept at playing to people’s native optimism about technology. During the 1920s the decade in which the pace of wiring the American homes peaked, the company increased its yearly promotional expenditures from $2million to $12 million dollars. It devoted much of the money in installing in the public mind what is called “a positive electric consciousness” through a concerted program of magazine advertisements, pamphlets and presentations at schools and women’s clubs. Typical of the campaign was a booklet called ‘the home of a hundred comforts’ which described in flowery prose and futuristic illustrations how electric appliances would eliminate most household work, bestowing a life of peace and leisure on formerly harried home-makers. Having electricity in house the companies marketers proclaimed would be like having 10 home servants.

Whether conjured up for literary or commercial purposes the Utopian future never arrived. Cheap electricity brought great benefits to many people, but its effects purely played out as expected and not all of them were salubrious. Tracing the course of some of the most important of those affects through the first half of the last century reveals the complex interplay between technological and economic systems and their equally complex ways it exerts its influence over society.

Later in the book, he provides some insights which can be anti-thesis to the so called benefits.

{Page 99}

As it turned out, though, the electric iron was not quite the unalloyed blessing it first appeared to be. By making ironing “easier” the new appliance ended up producing a change in the prevailing social expectations about clothing. To appear respectable, men’s and women’s blouses and trousers had to be more frequently and meticulously pressed than was considered necessary before. Wrinkles became sign of sloth. Even children’s school clothes were expected to be neatly ironed. While women didn’t have to work hard to do their ironing they had to do more of it, more often, with more precision.

{Page 100}

A series of studies of the time women devoted to housework back up Cowan’s observation. Research undertaken between 1912 and 1914, before the widespread adoption of electric appliances, found that the average woman spent 56 hours a week on housework. Similar studies undertaken in 1925 and 1931, after electric appliances had become common, found that they were still spending between 50 and 60 hours a week on domestic chores. A 1965 study again found little change – women were spending on average 54.5 hours per week on housework. A more recent study, published in 2006 by National Bureau of Economic Research, also found that the hours housewives devoted to domestic work remained steady, at between 51 and 56 a week, in every decade from 1910s through the 1960s.

There might be many reasons for the no-change state of amount of work, while the primary reason was the push in the levels of cleanliness. An office employee might have been forgiven for crumpled dress before the arrival of electric pressing machine (Electric Iron). It is supposed to be easy to press cloths with the electric appliance hence it is mandatory for one to have pressed his/her cloths. Earlier carpets were cleaned once in a while (hence the term “Spring Cleaning”) as opposed to current once a week routine, if not once a day.

Due to this perceived notion of “ease of work” the workload remained repetitive due to the changes in the social norms; while expectations changed due to these widely canvassed “easy” perceptions.

Here, we can draw a comparison between the frenzy electrification and the todays frenzy SOAfication of Enterprise.

Will SOA not change the perception of Enterprise business folks towards IT folks?

Will not these so called “ease” of development, lesser “time to market” and flexible maintenance, create a new set of business norms? Will this ease not overburden the IT folks, else at least make them do repetitive tasks like cogs in machine working for the Enterprise will?

Before the advent of “packaged” applications, businesses depended on the multicolumn spreadsheets and also were tolerant of certain omissions, due to system limitations; compare the same with a packaged application, where everything is supposed to be out-of-the-box, yet the IT folks are found spending their energies in “customizing” the out-of-box features.

I would like to draw attention of the readers to one particular sentence in the above write-up from Nick Carr.

It devoted much of the money in installing in the public mind what is called “a positive electric consciousness” through a concerted program of magazine advertisements, pamphlets and presentations at schools and women’s clubs.

Doesn’t it sound threateningly similar to what our today’s magic quadrants and analyst reports talk of? The innumerable conferences, summits, road shows, webinars etc trying to instill in Enterprise minds the benefits of SOA and countless dollars spent by businesses in POCs to peek into the SOA world.

Can we draw safe conclusions that like the ease of electricity increased or rather did not affect the workload of homemakers; SOA too will not or cannot affect the burden of the IT, instead may increase the burden?

May be, future may tell… 

Saturday, May 3, 2008

A Sham called Shamshabad Airport

After a great euphoria over the "International" airport at a place called Shamshabad in Andhra, I was eager to see how the place looks like, when I accidentally ended up there for a transit flight. Knowing the taste of "hype"-loving AP politicians, I was in my true spirits looking forward to some nonsense there. But what disapointed me the most was the names that got mixed in this thing like Singapore Airlines, Malaysian Airport Authority etc.
Considering all International airports in India, Hyderabad was the only place, where pickpockets masqurade as Customs or Immigration officials.
  • Imagine someone with an Indian passport at the Immigration counter on his return being asked "Where is your visa?". The simple fundamental right of a citizen is "Right of Entry" into his country, unless of course, he/she is "wanted".
  • Many times on the same evening, while waiting for ur baggage to appear, a guy in White uniform approaches asking "Yaabhai dollar ivvu" (Give me 50 Dollars).
Anyways, there was a huge fanfare, when the airport was inagurated. Some chaos, some uncertainity, what not...
But the point however is, when all the APites give out a list of all the great things about this airport, my question is - do they really understand what an international airport is all about? (The longest runway, biggest airport of Asia, pride of AP, what not... )
May be, these folks need to really make an international trip to Singapore or KL, to get a first hand feel of an international airport, rather than pay INR 700 to enter this place in Hyderabad.
  1. Where are the signs that take you to restrooms (toilets - the best way to judge any public amenity, there are only two in the entire lounge, but where is the display board???)
  2. Why is it that the rest room smells similar to a restroom in Bihar railway station?
  3. Why no coffee counter in the entire lounge? Unless a person goes through the security check area, there is no way he/she can get something to eat or drink, save the useless coke vending machine.
  4. Why no proper accoustics to inform flight arrival or departure? It sounds as if someone is in a deep well and grumbling.
  5. Where are the directions to the internation aminities??? No cybercafe, no wi-fi, no recliner chairs, no currency converters... (See am not talking of security hold area where one hardly spends time. I am talking of the lounge, where one needs to wait in between two flights, if there is a gap of more than three hours. You cannot check in, as it only starts 3 hrs before scheduled departure time, nor you can go out as it is away from city and has miles of wilderness around)
  6. If this insult is the biggest airport, why only six (6) aprons? Even the most worthless International airport of Charles deGuall in Paris has around 50/60 aero-bridges and can handle around 120 flights per hour!
  7. Why are the ground staff ill-informed of everything and always give a response like "we dont know!"
Anyways, it seems media has done a good job of brainwashing all Andhrities into believing that this airport will make a mark on the world map!!!
The truth is
  1. Many people lost out, due to the bubble in the land prices around this airport - mostly the working class.
  2. Many NRIs (the neo-rich, IT types) bought the shares of the GMR consortium - only to lose out. The price per share was INR 260 before the airport was launched, now it is around INR 160.
  3. No one knows, how many kickbacks, how much of cost projected actually went into this airport.

At the end of the day, I know the stock answer - there is lot more to be done, this is just the begining.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A decade since…

It is exactly a decade since I left that place called a college, with a useless degree. As I look back, it was a criminal waste of four (4) years at that place. The worst part of it was, I was not equipped to make it to the IT world. Can you imagine someone to work in the web 1.0 world, without knowing http protocol?

It is something different that in my mandatory subjects had something to do with a subject called “Computer Networks” where we were exposed to all the protocols, without ever taking a practical look at the way systems operated.

Imagine the sorry state of the laboratory – all 286 machines with some 386s sprinkled here and there – meant for the blue cats (those who suck up to the incompetent lecturers).

The bigger mess was not the laboratory, but the useless fellows who masqueraded like lecturers and worse still calling themselves, professors. The entire industry rejects were in the place – as they could have not made it anywhere. The college was also ready to take these jerks, as they were dime a dozen.

However this “decade since” is not about my college (or the school, as they call it in the US) – but about what I did in these 10 years at my disposal.

Read on…

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I am uneducated

Was reading what Atanu Dey was writing about “Reservations in the Indian educational system” in two parts. The question is, I wanted to understand why he was worried about “Reservations” when there is no such called “Indian Education System”.

Wiki defines “System (from Latin systēma, in turn from Greek ' systēma) is a set of entities, real or abstract, comprising a whole where each component interacts with or is related to at least one other component and they all serve a common objective.”

When there is something then it can comprise into something… it is a myth, the people get educated in India!!!!

As per Education – it is something beyond mere literacy. If someone goes to a school/location regularly and gets to know how to read or write few sentences in any language, he/she doesn’t become educated, but he/she is just literate.

For example – when I was in college we had some useless jerks as lecturers. The fellows who were industry rejects, for sake of some peanuts as salary got into academics. What is the end result – blind leading the blind!?! Most part of the Engineering was just Bunkum - as the fellows did not even understand the proper foundations of Mathematics, leave alone teach us the concepts of basic Computation Theory.

What all I needed for my life – I got in my primary school. The A, B, Cs there were good enough!

Hence, I am just literate and totally UNEDUCATED.
Of course, coming back to the topic::
Reservations - in what ever form, are meant to screw the nation even further. It is not a case of sour grape,
that I do not have any reservation etc, but the very concept of reservation
kills the principle of equality.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Deep SHIT

It was early December of 1998 I was travelling with a friend from Hyderabad to Kurnool, in the grand Govt. bus (called RTC).

As we were discussing things like careers, IT etc... I simply mentioned that I was into deep Shit... to which I was asked by the conservative fellow, not to use "harsh" words...

In some parts of India, it is a taboo to say "Shit" etc.. So I had to give some definition to save my face... so quickly concocted that SHIT stands for

Software
Hardware
Information
Technology

Today as I look back - a cool decade later...

I was RIGHT - DAMN RIGHT....

SHIT and Deeeeep SHIT :-)

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Bhutto and Cargo Cult

Editor of "India Secular" questions about Bhutto-mania and the rationalism (or lack of it) behind all the furore.

Atanu Dey's wonderful post (circa 2004) is quite apt here. Cargo-Cult-Democracy