Sunday, August 26, 2012

The five day migration !!!

It is 7AM on one of those Mondays..

Ravi wakes up and realizes that it is just the beginning of another week... It depresses him but he still has to reach office on time. He gets ready in a matter of 30 mins without thinking about any of the activities done during this time. It is as if a permanent software code in his brain runs at 7AM every weekday. Those who are aware of unix (software) would link it to processing a batch file!

He reaches the train station and sees that he is not the only one running for office.
The scene at the train station resembles the migration of wildebeest in the Serengeti plains of Africa. Every year, millions of wildebeest migrate from Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. On the way, they have to cross the Mara river where they are preyed by Crocodiles. There is an entire ecosystem that survives on this migration.

Ravi realizes that his run to the office daily is pretty much like the migration of Wildebeest, just that this one happens five days a week!

Just like he precisely knows which platform to board his train, the wildebeest know their annual route to the minutest detail. If he knows which bogie is closest to the staircase, the wildebeest know exactly where to get fresh water. And, the manner in which the wildebeest trample each other to cross the Mara river is exactly the way people compete in this never ending race of corporate life.

There is an ecosystem that survives on this 5 day migration of office going public. There are coffee shops (or the chai waalas), bakeries, restaurants that thrive just because of this migration. He thinks nature has so many similarities irrespective of the type of event...

By the time he finishes thinking about this underlying common essence of nature, he has already missed 2 trains. He is now late to office - he feels exactly the way a Wildebeest calf feels when it is left behind while crossing the Maara river in Kenya.  

Nevertheless, he pushes on, reaches office and opens his laptop. And, somewhere in the plains of Africa, a wildebeest calf struggles to free itself from the hold of a crocodile. It knows it cannot win, but there is this element of hope which makes it fight.

Ravi is at his desk now - it is time for the 9AM batch file run. Here is the code:

Int Main (VOID)
 /* There is a return value to every function in 'C' language. This 9AM batch run always returns void in life. */

Daily routine()
       Printf("Another day in office");
            For (i=0;until all mails are read;i=i+1)
                Printf("Respond to emails");
                Printf("Flag the ones that are to be replied later");

     Printf("Time for a coffee");
     Meetings (ZERO)  /* Function called meetings cannot return anything other than ZERO */

For(i=9AM;i<530pm i="i+1)</p">{
     Daily Routine ()  /* Runs automatically until 530 PM */

Return 0; -- This batch can never return anything meaningful !!

} /* End of Function Main - Another day lost... */

Some where between 9AM and 530PM, in the Serengeti plains of Africa, the wildebeest have entered the Maasai Mara game reserve where they will be hunted by carnivores. Those who manage to survive make their return journey back to Tanzania to complete this cycle.

Ravi realizes that everyday in his life is like the annual migration of wildebeest in Africa. Those who manage to return make this epic journey again the very next day !!

And the cycle of life continues, the wildebeest are back again the next year !!!

Author's comments:

1. If you are not comfortable with 'C' (the programming language), the points below might be helpful to understand the blog better:
   a.  /*   */ is for comments, they are not part of the code. These are supplementary comments for reader of the code to understand the author's thought process
   b. 'For' loop is a loop for running something over and over again until a specific condition is met. There is no better comparison to Ravi's daily life than this 'For' loop
   c. 'Printf' is a statement to print something on screen. In Ravi's context, it is a reminder in his brain to do certain activities
   d. 'Scanf' is used for inputs.

2. If you know 'C' and have found syntax errors in the code:
    Printf("Very Well Done !!");
    Printf("But it really does not matter!");
    Printf("It is time for you to think about your life NOW! ");

3. If you are interested in knowing about the wildebeest migration (the one that happens in Africa not the one in cities), then this link has a lot of information. I don't get paid for anything on this blog - so please feel free to click on any of the links i provide.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The curse of 256 Kbps !

Some things are never meant to be ! And, apparently that is precisely the case with my internet speed - wherever I go... Here is a brief chronological summary:

Phase I (1990s): No Computer, No Internet (0 Kbps)

Since I hail from a middle class Indian family, we could never afford a computer in my early childhood days. In those days (90s), owning a computer used to be a luxury that most of the Indians could not afford. But, Moore's law helped and the market saw better processors every 18 months or so.

Wikipedia defines Moore's law as follows:
Moore's law is the observation that over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years.
This meant that if you are not looking for the best in the market, you could easily find a model that is affordable.

Phase II (late 90s, early 2000): Dial-up internet (56 Kbps)

We did find a P4 that fit in our budget in the late 90s. Now, the next need was to connect to the world. Broadband (India's telecom department defined Broadband as 256 Kbps download) was expensive and we certainly could not justify the need for one. No one in our family had an obsession for computers - but, we all did learn to use it well though.

The only other option of connecting to the 'Cloud' was a dial-up connection. We got one and were finally able to connect. Checking emails at home was a luxury we did not have before. Forget streaming of videos - it used take forever to buffer. We never attempted after a while.

Phase III (Mid 2000s): Broadband finally (256 Kbps)

We kept moving across different parts of India as my dad had a transferable job. Everything changed with each move - People, practices, local languages, food. The only thing that never changed was the speed of Internet ! India never invested in setting up good infrastructure and it is beginning to show now. But, we will discuss India some other time - let us get back to my curse !

We finally got our first broadband connection. Everybody was thrilled that now we would have 'high speed' internet at home. Of course, what we didn't know was that 256 Kbps was the 'maximum' download speed !!! And, the curse continued in my life. We were just slightly better off than dial up - we used to get somewhere around 50 Kbps on an average and if the days were good, a speed of 100 Kbps !!

Phase IV (Late 2000s) : The era of Mobile internet (20 kbps)

I started working and moving places and there was no real need to own a personal laptop. We did have the USB stick for internet so as to be reachable wherever we are. 'Mobility' and 'availability' were the buzz words... And, of course, the curse continued...

Phase V (2009-2011): Montreal, Kanaada (also called 'Canada')

Despite majority of apartments having fiber connectivity, somehow, I landed up in one which had copper connectivity only. Apparently, they had plans to land optic fiber in that apartment but i guess they were waiting for my departure from that apartment !! People are usually surprised when you tell them that your internet connection in North America sucks - For me, it was just 'status quo' so i never bothered to think that much.
Obviously, almost all apartments had superb connectivity - my apartment was just an aberration.
But, the curse continued !

Phase VI (Late 2011 - Early 2012): Singapore Part I - The copper story continues

I moved to Singapore and found a beautiful place to live in. It was right in the center of the city - Life could not be better. Almost 75% of Singapore is Housing development board apartments, another 20% are condominiums and maybe about 5% are private landed apartments. Out of all the choices, somehow, I landed in a private landed apartment !

Singapore being the city it is, I never even thought i would go through the same trauma of internet connectivity. However, some things are never meant to be! My apartment had copper connectivity and internet speeds never went beyond 100Kbps. And, the story continued...

Phase VII (Early 2012 - Present): Singapore Part II - 16 Mbps at last !

After six months of staying in the heart of Singapore, I decided to move things around in my life. Of course, that was with the hope that I would find a peaceful place without the hustle bustle of tourists and shopping malls. I did manage to find a beautiful apartment.

With all my past experience and struggle, I was extremely cautious when choosing the type of internet connectivity. One of the operators offered me a 16 Mbps connection for a reasonable price. It was working well and I was so relieved that my struggle has finally come to an end. But, some things are never meant to be.

My wireless router, which was working as smooth as a whistle in my previous apartment, refused to co-operate. It had become moody and connected only when it desired.. And, the story continued.

As of today, the author has a new wireless router in place. However, now the high speed connection has become jittery !

The author is now at peace with himself and doesn't even attempt to do anything about it. I guess some things are never meant to be !!!!

1. Internet connectivity at Montreal and Singapore is super fast. My case is certainly an aberration.
2. I have not seen the progress of connectivity in India for almost three years now - So, my views maybe a little outdated. But, there is no doubt that Infrastructure is in a sad state in India. A detailed blog some other time.
3. Definition of broadband in India will be changed to 2 Mbps (download) from 2015 as per government guidelines