Thursday, March 5, 2015

Trouble with Auto Correction

All word processing applications offer the feature of auto correction. This feature is built into the keyboard applications on computers and mobiles these days. This feature is convenient and becomes lazy. As if auto correction was not sufficient, these software have long since bundled prediction and also learning by experience bundled with them. Although I find it annoying most of the time, there are occasions when I am glad to type less.

All these features are made me lazy and also eroded my knowledge. Instead of typing a long word, I choose to pick it from the list. While I save time here, I have become lazy. Most of the time, I do not convert this saving into anything productive. Moreover, it is a minuscule saving. On the other hand, I am not sure about the spelling anymore. For instance, I have forgotten if it is the "e" or "i" which comes first in weird. Now, I type blindly and wait for the auto-correction feature to kick in. I assure you this is the tip of the iceberg in order to keep it short.

While auto correction can point out your mistake by underlining the wrong word with a red line, the feature can never tell if the sentence written by you is wrong. Absence of this knowledge leads to embarrassing situations. A friend of mine has sent out an introduction email for a colleague. The name of the colleague was Alan. While typing the name, my friend interchanged the letters l and n! To quote another incident, I was in a training session recently where the topic was estimation. The instructor was teaching us various estimation techniques with gut feel being one of them. The handouts contained a typo. As a result, gut feel was printed out "but feel". Now you may imagine our surprise at this estimation technique.

Tags: Musings, Correction

Monday, March 2, 2015

Movie Review: Hercules

I am skeptical of Brett Ratner movies. The man has an incredible capability of making the most boring heist movie (After the Sunset) and a weird Hong Kong Style action movie(Rush Hour with the sequel being an exception). If the above is not sufficient, think of "X-Men 3: The Last Stand". As Brett Ratner on how to massacre an excellent series. So when he directs a movie based on the Greek hero, I was sure of a disaster. There has been many Hercules in 2014. The Legend of Hercules was good enough for swallowing aspirins. Coming back to Brett Ratner and his installment, Dwayne Johnson lures us towards the movie. There is bound to be a certain element of entertainment in his films. Luckily for us, Brett Ratner gets it right this time, engaging and entertaining us at the same time.

The movie is entertaining because of many reasons. Dwayne Johnson is right for action roles, and the title role is safe with him given his physique. The movie is based on a graphic novel, "Hercules: The Thracian Wars" that means there is an acceptable plot. Then there is the supporting cast of Rufus Sewell as Autolycus, Ian McShane as Amphiaraus, Joseph Fiennes as King Eurystheus and John Hurt as Lord Cotys. If the British actors aren't enough, there is a horde of Norwegian artists. The movie treats Hercules as a man with extraordinary strength who lives a life of a mercenary with a band of trusted friends. They are invited to defend the kingdom of Thrace. In order to fight against Rhesus and his army, Hercules, and his friend has to make an army out of untrained men. There are plenty of battle scenes. Luckily for us, the emphasis is on showing savagery on screen. Instead, the director concentrates on stunning us visually showing us the formations the army adopts in order to defend itself. When the director Combines the above with some aerial shots, he can explain the extent of damage and also provide clarity on what the protagonists are doing to defend themselves.

There is no point talking about acting in an action movie. There are plenty of one-liners, some of them evokes genuine laughter. The movie is a visual treat for an action junkie. So if you like action, go for it. If you do not believe in gods and demigods, the director's perspective will provide amusement for you.

You will find more information on this movie here.

Language: English

Genre: Action

Rating: ***

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Whose customer is unhappy?

Customer is the king. Despite this mantra, all of us complain about our clients. When we complain about our customers, we often forget our behaviour when roles are reversed. Are we any less demanding than our customers while we are dealing with our suppliers? We can be as difficult as our customers. Once a friend confessed to the guilty pleasure of dealing with vendors for it gives him an opportunity to behave like his customer.

Recently, I came across a disgruntled customer. The customer has become disillusioned with prices and level of services after years of business with a reputed system integrator. Now they are shopping for a new system integrator. Since I was working for the same customer on a different engagement, I became friendly with various groups of the reputed system integrator. My association with the system integrator was neither in professional interest nor personal interest. Working on the same floor, friendships and casual acquaintances has a way of blooming.

During my association with different groups of the reputed system integrator, I unearthed a finding which baffled me. Whenever the conversation turned to the strained relation between the system integrator and the customer, there was only one statement regardless of which group was involved. "My customer is happy with my services. But they are not happy with the other services being offered." I was confused after talking to all the groups. The individual groups were confident about their service levels and the customer's satisfaction levels. But they were worried about service levels offered by other and the respective customer satisfaction levels.

What is wrong, in this case? Is everyone lying? Or is everyone so naive that they are unable to read between the lines? Is the customer playing games? Or is the customer overly polite while giving out the negative feedback? Whose customer is unhappy?

Tags: Musings, Customer, Satisfaction

Monday, February 23, 2015

Movie Review: Kraftidioten

Does "Kraftidioten" in Norwegian translates to "In Order Of Disappearance" in English? "In Order Of Disappearance" is the title of this movie for the English-speaking market. I find Scandinavian films appealing because of the thriller element in them. More than the bone chilly coldness of the characters, the loneliness these souls feel in the cold countries is more enigmatic and intriguing. The movie features two of the prominent names from this side of the Atlantic, Stellan Skarsgård, and Bruno Ganz. The former needs no introduction. If you are wondering about the latter, remember who played Hitler in that movie, aptly named "Downfall", which features last few days of the dictator.

A small village in Norway provides the backdrop for the movie. Stellan Skarsgård plays Nils, who is a snowplow driver. Nils is a recipient of Model Citizen when the movie opens. Because of the nature of Nils' job,  we see only snow in all directions. As a result, the entire frame is white, dazzling and mesmerizing you at the same time. When his son dies of a drug overdose, Nils is shattered. According to Nils, his son was not a drug addict. Unable to sleep at night, Nils hunts down the people responsible. The pursuit and persecution of the perpetrators unintentionally erupt in a gang war between crime syndicates.

Directed by Hans Petter Moland, the film is difficult to classify. There are elements of a thriller in the movie. But the film isn't a thriller. The whole movie is based on the concept of the son. Everybody is at each other's throat because of their sons. There are fathers avenging their son's death. There is a father who is worried about his son's safety. Like I said earlier, it is the concept of the son that binds the movie together. The movie cannot be classified as a drama either. There is a sense of loss that drive many of the characters to avenge and betray. But this characteristic alone is not be sufficient to classify this movie as a drama. Finally, it is not a comedy. Although there are many a moment, that puts  a smile on your face. The Count played by Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen is one such character. Losing temper very easily and unable to cope with the pressure in the chosen vocation, the Count aka Greven, makes you smile at him in misery. Similarly, Stellan Skarsgård and Bruno Ganz makes us smile and laugh in their way.

The movie is interested despite the gory scenes. The movie offers a thriller and comedy rolled into one. Go for it. If not the story, the photography, highlighting the emptiness, will keep you hooked to the movie.

You will find more information on this movie here.

Language: Norwegian

Genre: Thriller

Rating: ****

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Is flying coach cheaper?

A few weeks ago, I came across a tweet concerning the finance minister of Greece, Yanis Varoufakis. The tweet attracted my attention because Yanis was traveling coach.  The act resonates well with the economic turmoil unfurling in Greece. Who wants to spend the money on luxuries when you are struggling to get your finances in order? But isn't it a security nightmare? 

Yanis flying coach brings me to a chairman of a big company who loves to fly coach although he is wealthy enough to travel first class or business class. He doesn't like to throw away money. This characteristic might be the what has made him rich in the first place. While I was talking to my friend about this chairman. My friend says it is untrue. To his credit, he is more knowledgeable than me.  Now, the chairman travels business class. The chairman no longer travels by coach.

My friend explained the reason to a surprised me. The chairman, being a prominent citizen, should be given a highest level of security. This directive dictates a certain area should be cordoned off around him which means a certain amount of seats has been booked without being utilized. When the bean counters did a cost benefits analysis on traveling coach versus business class, the latter was cheaper because of the security constraints.

All that glitters is not gold. The first looks can be deceptive. A news can be sensational but when you dig deeper, it might not make any sense. So I advice you to have that pinch of salt ready with you.

Tags: Musings, Coach, Travel

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Sleep, the energizer

I would like to sleep on it. Have you anyone say so? I have heard this countless times. On many occasions, the response left me aghast. How could you talk about sleeping when we are staring at a disaster? That sums up my reaction although I mostly didn't express it in such blunt terms. Now I am older, not necessarily wiser, I have better sense to question this behavior. Does sleep help?

According to experts, sleep is essential because of three processes that take place during our sleep. The three processes are unitization, assimilation, and abstraction. If you are wondering what these big words mean, have you seen science fiction movies where computer plays the main villain? This villainous concoction of hardware and software can connect events and experiences to derive new meanings that make it more powerful as the plot progresses. Our mind behaves the same way during sleep. Our mind analyzes what we have encountered so far, interprets it in different ways and finally forms new associations. If we oversimplify the whole process, our mind is constantly evolving during sleep.

Unfortunately, we do not give importance to sleep. In fact, we sacrifice sleep with the slightest hesitation. David K Randall, a sleep expert and an author, talks about sleep. 
While we'll spend thousands on lavish vacations to unwind, grind away hours exercising and pay exorbitant amounts for organic food, sleep remains ingrained in our cultural ethos as something that can be put off, dosed or ignored. We can't look at sleep as an investment in our health because - after all - it's sleep. It is hard to feel like you're taking an active step to improve your life with your head on a pillow.
I have learned my lesson. I am no longer surprised if someone says they want to sleep before making a decision. They will be able to make a better decision if they get time to unitize, assimilate and abstract.

Tags: Musings, Sleep

Friday, February 13, 2015

Are you young or old?

Given a chance, we would all love to be young having the wisdom of old? But are you young or old? Some of us like to say we have young mind. Some of us are lucky enough to have been the right genetic composition which makes you look young compared to your age. But what differentiates between young or old? 

Do you feel the time flies? While approaching 40s, I started realizing the time was flying by. Before you realize, a week passes by, then a month and subsequently an year. Everyone is racing. Why is that so? At 30, our body slows down in terms of metabolic rate, reaction time and also cognitive processing speed. This gives us an impression of time going fast. 

When we are young, we like to learn new things. We also like to push the envelope a bit further in order to experience new things. When we are old, we like to do things we are comfortable and the outcome of which are already known to us. This is all because of the limited time we have.

Read what author David Levitin has to say. 
... different views of how we want to spend time are partly fueled by how much time we feel we left. When time is perceived as open-ended, the goals that become most highly prioritized are those that are preparatory, focused on gathering information, on experiencing novelty, and on expanding one's breadth of knowledge. When time is perceived as constrained, the highest priority goals will be those that can be realized in the short-term and that provide emotional meaning, such as spending time with family and friends.
This also explains why young people who are left with little time to leave suddenly starts to behave like old people.

If you want to stay young, start doing something you have not done yet. Learn a new skill. Adopt a new hobby.

Tags: Musings, Young, Old

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