May 31, 2008

Him & Her ..

Filed under: Prophets' Specials — Prophet of Doom @ 5:47 pm

Her:  Tell me one thing .. do I send the wrong signals to guys ?

Him: No, definitely not .. to me

Her:  Lol, diplomat …


May 11, 2008

Promises …

Filed under: Prophets' Specials,Uncategorized — Prophet of Doom @ 2:36 pm

“The best way to keep one’s word is not to give it” Napoléon Bonaparte

If only the Prophet had heeded the Emperor’s words, this post would probably not be written today. But then, it was a persistent wish – from a mother, how could that be turned down on Mother’s Day ?

All is quite difficult these days, save for promises.  Promises, promises everywhere.  Promises to the leader to keep the team flag flying high.  Promises to kith and kin to stay in touch.  Promises to the almighty to do everything right.  A daily promise to the inner self to seek a life.  And a silent promise to the motherland to return .. someday …. And of course, a promise to keep posting !

Now that all these have been promised, now its time to deliver.  Where is one supposed to make a beginning ?  Everywhere …  Lest the words of the great playwright from Stratford-upon-Avon should come true …

” Being of no power to make his wishes good:
His promises fly so beyond his state
That what he speaks is all in debt; he owes
For every word.”

December 2, 2007

Some hobbyist pictures

Filed under: Prophets' Specials,Uncategorized — Prophet of Doom @ 11:37 am

At Mrs. M ‘s insistence and persistence …. one per day from now, for a while


June 18, 2007

A book worth reading …

Filed under: Book review — Prophet of Doom @ 8:07 pm

This post jumps the queue and comes ahead of other “fluff” I was planning to write – simply because I happened to visit one of the world’s largest public libraries and read a really good book. “Putin’s Russia” by Anna Politkovskaya is truly an outstanding book. More of a human rights activist than a journalist, Anna paints a picture of life in a totalitarian society. Anna was bumped off in Moscow, because she knew too much, just like Litvinenko.

The book begins with a narration of some bone-chilling tales from the Russian army and goes on to describe civilian life in Russia’s far-flung provinces (not to mention, Moscow as well). Anna seems to mince no words as she describes the ruthless attitude exhibited by the Russian oligarchs – all down to the finest detail. I haven’t discussed this with other readers, but certainly the contents of the book cast a pall of gloom over my mind for a while. She has saved THE most shocking descriptions for the final chapters on the Chechen wars, nay, genocide I must say.  Anna also seems to hold Europeans (Italians, particularly) in very low opinion, as evident from a line somewhere in the book.

The book is highly reminiscent of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four, and Putin’s KGB-esque behavior actually made me think of him as the new-age Stalin. With guys like Dubya and Putin in power, an Orwellian future doesn’t seem that distant after all.

Distractions Galore …

Filed under: Uncategorized — Prophet of Doom @ 7:36 pm

The title and the contents of this post were changed, as opposed to being deleted.  Just a sign of that entity we term as “inertia”.  Composing five lines a day for a post does no justice to its quality, and results in the entire post being replaced by this alternative text … The reason ? … The title says it all .. distractions galore …

A more readable post coming soon …

March 14, 2007

Quote of the day …

Filed under: Quotes — Prophet of Doom @ 9:26 am

If you reveal your secrets to the wind, you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees

– Khalil Gibran

March 12, 2007

Music ..

Filed under: Random Quirks — Prophet of Doom @ 3:42 pm

Post coming up soon …… stay tuned ..

March 11, 2007

I don’t agree with Bill G ..

Filed under: News and politics — Prophet of Doom @ 6:38 pm

In his testimony to the Congress in Capitol Hill on 7 March 2007, Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates suggested a massive increase in H-1B visas saying,

“It makes no sense to tell well-trained, highly skilled individuals – many of whom are educated at our top colleges and universities – that the United States does not welcome or value them. For too many foreign students and professionals, however, our immigration policies send precisely this message.

I don’t completely agree with Mr. Gates. I am of the opinion that students graduating from accredited US Universities be automatically qualified for Permanent Residency status (Green Card).

H-1B visas allow US Corporations and Universities to temporarily employ foreign workers who have a the equivalent to a US Bachelor’s Degree. Corporations argue that these visas provide a steady flow of highly skilled professionals who are in short supply, and reduce the need for them to move their operations abroad. However, it should also be noted that the H-1B system is widely abused.

The H-1B system is itself tied up in knots. Firstly, international students who apply for a F-1 student visa to the US must convince the authorities that they do NOT intend to remain in the US after they graduate from school. At the same time, there exists a quota of 20,000 visas to be issued to candidates who have graduated with a Masters’ degree from a US University. It seems the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is contradicting itself here.

From a student / immigrant perspective, the H-1B system is nothing but a bundle of inconvenience. The H-1B visa has has a six- year time limit, putting immigrants and their families at the risk of being forced to return to their home country, if their Green Card application is not approved before this 6-year deadline. H-1B holders must leave the US if they are laid off or if the sponsoring company goes out of business. Spouses of H-1B holders need a separate sponsor in order to be able to work or to even obtain a Social Security Number. An H-1B holder can only work for their sponsoring employer and cannot start a new business.

A 2006 study conducted by a team of students researchers from the Master of Engineering Management (MEM) Program at Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering revealed that these skilled immigrants provide the US a great global edge by contributing to the economy, creating jobs, and leading innovation. Immigrants are fueling the creation of hi-tech businesses across the US and creating a wealth of intellectual property. The team made thousands of phone calls and received responses from 2054 engineering and technology companies founded in the US from 1995 to 2005.

  • In 25.3% of these companies, at least one key founder was foreign-born. Immigrants were most highly represented as founders in the semiconductor, computer, communications, and software fields. Of all immigrant-founded companies, 26% have Indian founders.
  • In the fields of engineering and technology, over half (52.4%) of Silicon Valley start-ups and 18.7% of Research Triangle Park start-ups had one or more immigrants as a key founder.
  • Nationwide, these immigrant-founded companies produced $52 billion in revenues and employed 450,000 workers in 2005.

The team’s analysis of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) patent databases revealed that immigrants were named as inventors or co-inventors in 24.2% of international patent applications filed from the U.S. in 2006, majority of who are Chinese and Indians. Clearly, skilled immigrants have become a significant driving force in the creation of new businesses and intellectual property in the U.S. — and these contributions have significantly increased over the past decade.

Presently, the wait time for skilled immigrants from India and China to be granted Permanent Resident status (Green Card) stands at nearly six years because the US Citizenship and Immigration Services is backlogged. There is yearly limit of around 140,000 Green Cards for skilled workers and no more than 9,800 (7%) of the visas are allowed to be allocated to immigrants from any one country. Thus, the proportion of skilled immigrants allowed into the US from India and China is the same as that for immigrants from Iceland and Senegal. This obviously puts Indian and Chinese immigrants at a disadvantage.

Thus, the present immigration policy does no good for America. Immigrants educated in US Universities and trained in US Corporations are forced to return home, to become competitors. We believe that a more practical solution would be to automatically grant Green Cards to international students completing degrees in mathematics, engineering and sciences from accredited institutions of higher learning. By carefully screening and being highly selective about the quality of students being admitted into the US would help the country maintain its competitive edge.

March 10, 2007

Doing what’s required …

Filed under: Prophets' Specials,Quotes,Random Quirks,Rants — Prophet of Doom @ 8:28 pm

Missus Em has been bugging me day and night to post something long and thought-provoking (ie. fluff). Now, I tried reasoning with her, saying I’m not good at writing fluff, however my plea falls on deaf ears (or blind eyes, to be precise).. And then, I remembered this magical quote from Churchill … and decided to post .. not fluff, but something tangible, which is my flavor.

It’s not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what’s required.

– Sir Winston Churchill, British politician (1874 – 1965)

Just to give this post a little context, I’d like to advert to a post by J. Shortly after reading this post, I am the recipient of some instant messages from her, whining and complaining about the lack of “career opportunities” for graduates from a certain university. I listen patiently, and then explain why it has nothing to do with being from that university. My friend persists with the argument, saying people are bagging jobs for the wrong reasons. I disprove that argument and then go on to ask my friend about everything she has done to work her way out. She says, “I have done xxxxxxxxx. I am getting nowhere, life is being unfair to me.” This is precisely when I remembered Churchill.

Not too long ago, I had been in a predicament similar to my friend, however; I had fought my way out of it in a fashion not adopted by many – to the extent I was surprised I could do so much. To blend this situation with Churchill’s quote, my friend is obviously trying her best. The problem is, the best ain’t enough. Firstly, the person in question is doing only her best. Lets say, that out of a certain population of her peers, x% are each doing their best Now, the next question arises – who will win ? Obviously, the best among those doing their best. It is here that Churchill’s statement makes most sense. Doing your best might not be enough. In order to win, to steamroll the competition, you need to outsmart, outwit, outdo and outperform them. You need to do whatever is necessary, often better than your best – and quite often, better than the best

I’d like to illustrate this with an example, a good friend, a great mentor and former collegue, N. Now N was hell bent upon a Marketing position in the world’s largest software maker. The usual route to this was getting a MBA in marketing from a Top-5 B-school, usually after at least 5 years of work experience. Now N had none of these qualifications. He applies to this position, and gets rejected. He tries a second time .. same story. The third time around, N tries a couple of different approaches, and manages to get a first-round interview for an intern position in the company’s marketing department. This is all he needed, he aces the first round as well as seven subsequent rounds, and becomes 1 out of 25 interns selected from thousands of applicants worldwide. Now, his next goal was to convert his internship into a full-time offer. Once N gets to his workplace, he finds that his peer interns (read rivals) are MBA candidates from Top-5 B-schools. But N is determined to nail the job. He signs up for more projects than he is assigned to, and volunteers for projects that others push away. He then works like crazy to over-deliver on all fronts. By the end of the summer, he had literally killed 24 of the best candidates in the world. Company approaches N with an offer to come on board full-time. The tables are now turned, N calls the shots about the salary et. al … Inspiring story, eh ?

Lets now quickly compare J and N … J is stuck in a box, and doesn’t know whats going on (nothing wrong with that). However, when someone tries to show her ways to opportunity, she refuses to accept it, and thinks the other person pointing a finger and trying to accuse her of being incompetent. On the other hand, N keeps his ears and eyes wide open for the slightest hints of opportunity, and swoops down on them the moment he spots them … In short, he does whatever is necessary, and more often than not, ends up outperforming not just himself, but all those around him…

Speaking of outperforming onself, I can’t but help thinking of my encounter with Y.G.. I had a chance to meet with Mr. G a few weeks ago and boy, was I overawed .. During our conversation, I couldn’t help casually brushing off that oft-heard shibboleth, “work hard”. Coming from a corporate hot-shot, I beleived it must surely have a profound foundation, and I decided to question him further. When asked to clarify if his advice was really as obvious as it seems, it started to make sense… Here’s what he had to say,

How many people actually work hard? I’m not asking about extra hours, but real work. How much time do you waste on the 9th floor of Technology Park sipping coffee in the cafe, or gossiping at the urinal (yes, people do that), or reading blogs at 10:00am in the morning? The answer: A LOT .. Cut the wastage, and do real work. Put in the kind of effort that adds value, take on important projects that no one wants to do, and just see where your career goes.

An introspection revealed – from the average 14-hours-a-day, I realized I “actually worked” for far lesser. And the creepy part: I’ve “worked harder” than my colleagues …. “Hard work” may not be that obvious after all.

Lots to learn here .. for me, for J, for N .. for everybody … like Churchill says, we need to do what’s required …

February 18, 2007

Yahoo! Finance’s makeover …

Filed under: Tech Quirks,Uncategorized — Prophet of Doom @ 5:35 am

Yahoo! Finance has just received a makeover … the site now sports a new, slick Web 2.0 look, with slide-down menus et. al

Here’s what I found most interesting, though .. One look at the Beta stock charts, and it looks like a straight rip-off from Google Finance .. Paranoia, perhaps ? ..

Yahoo Finance Web 2.0 Chart

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