Life and Personal Tech and Culture

Tips for applying for a job

Hey! I am back after a very long hiatus! I was basically tied up with so much stuff that I had little time and motivation to get myself to update my blog.

I was going through the best of Craigslist when I noticed a very interesting post by the CEO of giving out advice to people applying for jobs online.

The gist of the post is that it is always better to be honest, elucidative, simple, concise, and professional when initiating that first key hiring related correspondence. Of course, different recruiters have different preferences, and some might prefer the traditional cookie-cutter emails/correspondence with “tasty” phrases and lots of magic keywords. I remember sending in an application for recruitment to SuSE Linux straight out of college and receiving an email from a recruiter saying that it was one of the most “interesting” applications he had seen. Too bad, at that time, SuSE was not doing good and was actually looking for someone to buy them (which was later done by Novell). That notwithstanding, “interesting” could hold connotations that could be either positive or negative.

Personally, I believe that the best way to sell yourself is to highlight your successful projects/achievements and lessons from mistakes. That minor in communications could be a good idea in the increasingly competitive technology jobs arena.

Life and Personal

I bought a car !

I finally bought a car on Friday! It is a Ford Mustang and is in excellent condition, since of course, I bought it used. I love driving, and spent the better part of the day driving it to the temple, the mall, and the Indian movie theater.

More about this later!

Life and Personal

What does my desktop look like currently …

Screenshot of desktop

Notice the new widgets!

Life and Personal Tech and Culture

I now own a portable music player !

I finally relented and bought myself a new Dell DJ music player tonight! My last portable music player purchase was a Sony Discman I bought in 2002 for my sister. I thought it was finally time for me to get with the times and gift myself something I could use to listen to music while mobile.

My new gizmo has a 30GB hard drive, and comes with a neat docking station. It cost me $200 after $95 in coupons and customer appreciation discounts. I just couldn’t give up on this special opportunity. Another driver for the decision was the fact that I am absolutely amazed at the quality of Dell products. I have been a very happy Dell customer since early 2004 having bought a PDA, a top-of-the-line desktop computer, and a powerhouse Inspiron 9300 laptop.

I did consider getting the 20GB photo iPod before I ordered this, though. One of the main reasons I dislike the iPods is the way they try to lock you in into proprietary formats and services. They don’t work with major music subscription services, and are way overpriced for the value they carry. I don’t support music piracy, and paying 99 cents for every musical track isn’t my cup of tea.

The next gadget on my shopping list is a new cellphone. My current Sony Ericsson T637 has about given up on life. I was looking around for newer Sony Ericsson models (I have taken a casual vow to stick to Sony Ericsson phones for the rest of my life), when I came across the W800i. It is a mix of a Sony Walkman, a Sony Cybershot 2.0MP camera, and a cellphone. Unfortunately, it works on the 900/1800/1900 frequency bands, while Cingular mostly uses the 850/1900 frequency bands in North America. I guess the phone is more geared towards T-Mobile suscribers. The yet-to-be-released W600i works on the 850/1900 frequencies, and has a smaller form factor, not to mention EDGE compatibility. I can’t wait for the price of that phone to fall down.

I should have my Dell DJ 30 by Wednesday!

Life and Personal Tech and Culture

Just listened to my first official PodCast !

I just listened to my first official PodCast at! Nevertheless, I am sure I cannot be branded a slow learner. After listening to this news-piece, I realized that PodCasting isn’t as new as we think it is. Anyone else remember the old CNET Radio 910?!

It used to be a terrestrial radio channel in the SF Bay area during early 2000, and then was downsized as CNET’s media business wasn’t doing so well. As a result, a new audio web delivery service was launched by the name of “CNET Radio Direct” in 2003.

CNET Radio Direct was an innovative free service where the CNET software pulled small 15 minute MP3 files containing a short radio broadcast from the server every evening. Sometimes, the server would push more than one file depending on the content, but the software used Windows Media Player to play the audio.

Come to think of it, this was the first instance of a “PodCast” like service that I ever experienced. So now that I have joined the club, maybe I’ll start my own PodCast station soon!

Life and Personal

This Blog now uses rss2pdf

For all those who like my weblog so much that they wish to read it offline, I now have a way of getting a printout ready aggregate. Please click on this link to check it out !

The software works great, and I love it !

Addendum: Thanks for the nice comment, Tom! After I posted this, I read about Google making available RSS and Atom feeds of their Google News service. I think this coupled with Tom’s rss2pdf service makes a very interesting combination. It would now be possible to generate your own newspaper by aggregating feeds from Google News and other such services, and then using rss2pdf to print them out!

Am I the only one very impressed with the way the web is evolving ?!

India Life and Personal

When newspapers lose their mind …

The Times of India has been under a lot of fire from bloggers recently for making a “pseudo-mockery” of the Mumbai floods by posting sound-bytes from their star readers about not being able to read their favorite newspaper in the morning. The first blog post that I came across about this was at Indianwriting.

Marooned without Times of India, Mumbai edition

I do not expect this from a newspaper like The Times of India that takes pride in being the 24th largest newspaper in the world with a circulation of 1,680,000. Gimmicks like this do not set up a good precedent for the print media. I wonder why a reputed newspaper like TOI would sink down to such a depth when I doubt it is going to bolster their readership/circulation.

While I am at this, I would like to point out that the same blog ridicules TOI for touting DNA as a unique newspaper, when in fact it is nothing but a copy of other good dailies in Mumbai.

Seems like TOI needs to get their act straight.


India Life and Personal Tech and Culture

Mobile text messaging as a means of broadcasting information in times of disaster

Mobile cell phone usage is burgeoning in urban India. No matter how much we criticize the lack of disaster recovery systems in our expansive country, it is still noteworthy that inspite of record breaking rainfall and the accompanying destruction, communication services went down for a very limited time in Mumbai. People still had Internet access, as is evident from the “live” blog reports available on the Internet. Apparently, the following SMS message was sent at the behest of the Police Commissioner of Mumbai:

Due to heavy rains, water logging likely in city n suburbs. Pls donot travel unless absolutely essential. Police Commissioner, Mumbai

This made me wonder about the importance of a cellular communication network in times like this. It is much more easier and reliable to broadcast SMS messages than to sound warning alarms across the city. The pervasiveness of cellphones means that a lot more people are likely to read an SMS message than to watch the TV for breaking news.

Life and Personal

Why are some people the way they are ?

I have had numerous roommates during my tenure at NC State University as a grad student. They have been from all parts of India too, and after some time I am beginning to realize certain “stereotypes”, if you will, about Indians based on where they come from. Sure, I might fall under a bad stereotype too, but it is always almost impossible to deduce something negative about yourself.

I am not going to name people here. I went to India this summer with the premise that I might not come back immediately to the US. Hence, I sold all my basic stuff, like furniture, electronics etc. before going on the vacation. I had an Asian roommate and an Indian roommate, who had plans to move out at the beginning of summer, and had hence expressed interest in buying my furniture. Long story short, when I come back I realize that the apartment is in a mess, there are condiments just fallen to the floor in the kitchen, the stove is messy, and the bedroom he vacated is in a mess. And on top of it, all my stuff that I hadn’t even sold was missing ! I tried to get in touch with him a couple times, but it was futile. One of these days I am going to get all my basic stuff back from him though.

What irks me most is that I was responsible enough to transfer the utilities and take care of everything before going away, whereas this person just cancels everything even though he knew I was coming back, or that people would still be living here even if I didn’t come back immediately. This is very irresponsible in my opinion. All it takes is one email to let people know about your intentions. Luckily, I knew something like this was going to happen (stereotypes) so I got an electricity connection in my name pro-actively.

I do not really mind if a person assumes that I am not coming back and takes away even things like the $3 trashcan or the $2 mop, but it would be great to get an email about this, and possibly some sort of permission. Besides, the premise for any such transaction is the understanding that the person vacating would spruce up atleast his bedroom in lieu of all this. I do not expect a person to hide or come back to the apartment to get his remaining stuff, but not show his face.

At the same time, I really like my Asian roommate. He isn’t even in the US, but I get his rent checks before the due date. His sisters are very courteous and considerate, and make it a point to send me the checks in time. He will have been living with me for more than a year now.

I just wish people realized that small actions sometimes go a long way in life …

Life and Personal

We need a “War on Climate”

The east coast is facing a heat wave right now with temperatures soaring to triple digits. Wednesday and Thursday saw the maximum temperature exceed 101 degrees and the heat index reach 110 degrees at Raleigh. The ozone levels have been really alarming, and the heat has taken its toll on homeless people. The local Govt. has set up “heat shelters” where people could enjoy some air conditioned space. Amazingly, the heat wave has spawned an unusual crime wave too !

In India, Bombay was recently hit with one of the worst monsoons in its history. Airports, railway stations, businesses…everything was shut down due to floods and people were marooned in their homes.

Earlier this year, we had snowfall in the UAE.

Makes you wonder what’s going on …