Friday, 17 December 2010

IntelliJ IDEA 10.0 is here people!

In a fit of exuberance I wrote up a mail addressed to my team at SocialTwist informing them about the latest installment to further the awesomeness of an already great IDE - IntelliJ IDEA 10.0. Re-posting it here ...

So sit back, relax and revel in the glory of the greatness of IntelliJ IDEA. Here goes ...

IntelliJ IDEA 10.0 is here!

Bad News: Our existing licenses don't work with it. So the max one could do with the existing licenses is upgrade to version 9.x

Good News: It's available in a Community Edition version which comes for free ( Yup, free as in speech and free as in soft drink.

So what's new in IntelliJ IDEA 10.01 -
  • Super quick startup. I haven't been able to see the splash screen yet! (And yup, it's enabled).
  • Memory usage is tighter and we are nearing IntelliJ IDEA 5.0 memory usage levels. (And this, gentlemen is in stark contrast to IDEA 9.0's mammoth requirements)
  • You get a suggest-as-you-type interface. No need to type Ctrl+Space, Ctrl+Shift+Space or Ctrl+Shift+Alt+Space (These are the various code completion shortcuts in IDEA.). I guess IDEA went the Instant way.
  • It claims to compile the file in background - while I don't know how does that work or whether it really does, I did notice a slight performance improvement (over and above the usual snappy performance for which IDEA is already well-known).
  • The indexing takes less time, can be configured with a higher level of granularity and is less irritating and let's you develop with pleasure indeed.

  • And another thing, the two versions 10.0 and <= 9.x can co-exist meaning you may install 10.0 and try it out without affecting your current set up!
So far, so good. I am still exploring. Just installed it yesterday. So what are you waiting for? Try it out. It's fast. It's free.

If you need any more convincing about it's awesomeness -

Also, If you have already tried it, I would love to hear what you have got to say about IntelliJ IDEA 10.0!

1 - The most intelligent Java IDE out there!

Friday, 20 August 2010

Tata Crucible 2010 - Hyderabad Round - I came, I saw ... and I left it unconquered!

Today is Aug 20th, 2010.

An otherwise ordinary day but one which marks the onset of this year's season of Tata Crucible. And if you don't know what that is, well ...

So, today I along with my awesome teammate participated in this battle of brains and we made it to the top ten. And this blog is just a description of that. Will it add value to your day today? Who knows! When the world over people are publishing everything from when they brushed their teeth to what they had for dinner, I thought let me also hop on to the bandwagon, for a change. And the result is this blogpost which is a deviation from the usual 'insightful' posts I write (Ok! No need to take it that literally! And accept it, it's my blog and I can write anyting. Right to freedom of expression :P!).

So the event began with a rapid fire prelims followed by a wild card round which led to the Hyderabad Regional Finals. And when the dust settled, the pecking order had been totally shaken up. Infosys, for the first time in the history of Hyderabad, emerged as the overall winner defeating the likes of Google (the defending local champion), Vizag Steel (the reigning national champion), Mahindra Satyam (one of the team-members is International Champion at Campus level), IBM (winner at this year's Brand Equity) and Microsoft (multiple times regional finalist) and of course us, first timers on the corporate scene who ended up being like babes in woods. 

Some questions (re-phrased) that I can recollect from the prelims are - 

1. The need for power for cameras led to the creation of which brand by Mr Rubin and Mr Mallory? (Ans - Duracell)

2. United Artists was started by these four people. Three names given one missing. (Ans - Charlie Chaplin)

3. Band Aid has three types of variants in India - regular, washproof and _____. (Hint: India specific; Ans - Band-Aid Turmeric)

4. The consultant/author/business-thinker who has been named this year's Global Indian. (Ans - Ram Charan)

5. What latin phrase means a portion of employee's compensation package, over and above his salary. (Ans - Bonus)

6. What english term means "a financial incentive doled out to retain specialists at a firm". (And - Golden handcuff)

7. Which GM company originally manufactured sewing machines and bicycles. (Ans - Opel)

8. Which Hotel brand was prevented from using its brand name in India as it clashes with a local hotel based in Sirohi, near Mt Abu, Rajasthan? (Ans - The Hilton)

9. Elizabeth Arden recently launched "Honey", "Ribbon" and "Mine Again". Named after which celebrity? (Ans - Mariah Carey)

10. What sports good is manufactured by Masincedane Sports, whose sales peaked in 2010? (Ans - Vuvuzela)

11. Who was the Master of mint in 1710? (Ans - Sir Isaac Newton)

12. What major brand started as a service by Air France for its employees to ensure a "home away from home for them"? (Ans - Le Meridian)

13. Conway's Law - "There is always a man in a firm who knows what's going on. He should be _____" (Ans - fired)

14. Which web entity vociferously challenged its departed co-founder's allegations that they encouraged "child pornography" (Ans - wikipedia)

This was followed by some visuals (all in all 25 quesitons, some of which I have missed here - this is all based on memory) including one showing the poster of "Once Upon a time in Mumbai" on which the quiz master Giri aka 'Pickbrain' asked "Which production house made its entry to cinema with this movie", answer to which was stated as 'Balaji Productions'. Although I answered that correctly but I think the question is incorrect since Balaji has already produced a couple of movies already including "Krishna Cottage".

I don't remember much of finals because for the initial part I sat shocked at my exit and rest of the time I was too busy enjoying the show! Giri was at his quick-witted best and the whole show was awesome. All I could think of that analogously describes this kind of event would be a gladiatorial combat, the ones prevalent during the Roman times. So while I enjoyed the adrenaline rush, the fact is I lost. And it doesn't really make things better knowing that I lost to giants as described above. It's like you lose your girlfriend but feel happy because that other guy is a direct descendant of Edward Cullen. And that is an absurd thought. So while this event was a good exposure, I will have to see how I fare in the next edition. But the sad thing is it's an annual event and we'll be able to figure out how far the improvement is only next year. That's like presenting a gift to your girfriend on her birthday and waiting for an entire year when you present a gift again and she comments "Yeah, this year it's better!". Sigh! Let's see what the future holds ... 

Sunday, 21 March 2010

And I guess the thorn bush did turn white ... well almost!

Fiction? Is reading fiction 'worth' it? What does one gain during the period of time which one spends reading those fictional stories? There ain't any knowledge, per se, that's assimilated as it is, at the end of the day, all fictitious, with any resemblance to any person, living or dead, purely coincidental. All one gets involved with is a make believe world, authored artfully by its creator. Nothing concrete like what one derives by reading history, politics, business or technology. So to speak!

With such a cynical attitude towards fiction I have shunned such writings hitherto and have enjoyed the dubious distinction of having read only a couple of books which deal with fictional stuff even though I am supposedly a voracious reader. Sounds ironical but then that's how it's been. But is this how it is to stay in the future? Well ...

Taking a break from my usual routine in a bookstore, I sauntered into the 'fiction' section with an aim to checkout the (now outdated) first installment of one of the best selling fiction series of all time, a story about a tender, rebellious belle and a brooding vampire - Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. The idea was born out of natural curiosity as I had just gotten over with watching the movie (yeah, usually it's the other way round - people read a book first and then watch a movie based on it .. but then ... eh!) and what I experienced while I went through the first chapter was surreal! Transported into an altogether different world where it rains a lot and vampires and humans can co-exist, I could actually feel the clattering of pattering rain. While partially it was due to the fact that I had watched it all in motion picture in the movie (and this aided the visualization), the other reason was the power of the pen that these crafted fiction-storytellers wield - ability to create a new environment describing every little detail with such precision that it all comes alive mixing and matching the moods and feelings of the characters therein. The real world shut out for me. I was hooked! And that's how I define entertainment - when you can block the mundane world out of your mind and get engrossed in what you are doing as 'entertainment'. Totally!

And now I guess I know why people read fiction - it 'refreshes' them in the true sense of the word. It eases the mind throughout the process as while reading fiction one only needs to fantasize. One does not need to analyse constantly as to what business deals have happened or how many dollars have been spent or why globalization is a relevant issue in the current scenario or why Caesar's mindgames were not very well comprehended by Pompey or why in Java do we have the concept of a final class that can not be inherited! Fiction sets the mind free -  all the braincycles can then be employed to the cause of building the character and trying to feel 'that' environment, trying to wonder about being a part of it and unleashing one's imagination as well as delighting in vicarious pleasure while one reads what the characters are upto. Fiction sets you free. And that's wholesome entertainment. So, while ignorance may be bliss, this one left me devoid of it!

This is not to say that fictional writing is dumb. It ain't. It does provoke one to think on issues, but in a not-so-mentally-taxing way unlike the above mentioned examples. For instance, the very first chapter of this book lends weight to the love-at-first-sight syndrome. While the debaters may argue, it does seem like a clear case of the lady getting immensely attracted to our vampire at first sight. What else do phrases like 'devastatingly, inhumanly beautiful', 'absurdly handsome' and 'voice like velvet' suggest? Or am I jumping to conclusions? Well I think I can answer that once I have read it completely :). (But I know I know - she's unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him!)

I guess the world of fiction, just got a new convert ,even before the thorn bush could turn white!

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Blabbering after watching a nice flick!

A handsome actor. An exotic disease. Solid research. And a supporting cast that seems to be totally sensitive to those affected by this particular disease. That's the formula everybody seems to be following these days. Add terrorism to the equation and the whole thing becomes so 'socially relevant'!

But there's another perspective with which I would want to look at SRK's latest - My Name is Khan. Given that this movie was slated as a comeback vehicle for one of the most successful on-screen pair in Bollywood, and my favourite for that matter, I had huge expectations from this one. I am not a movie freak, generaly speaking, but this one I had to had to watch... and I 'grabbed' that opportunity on my Holi holiday when I was home with my family.

Basically a love story with various underlying themes, MNIK weaves into its plot an exposition on Asperger's Syndrome, the standard jehaad related theories and several subtle sub themes like that of a community coming together in times of adversity breaking religious boundaries... 

What stands out most in the entire drama is the depiction of a purist's version of romance - caring, focussed, adventurous, obsessive!

Teri kaali ankhiyon se jind meri jaage...

Enough mush! Shush!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Aal Izz Well!

After much ado and several unsuccessful attempts to obtain the tickets, I finally got to watch the movie that's making news these days: 3 Idiots. Incidentally, I am not much of a fiction buff and since it's usually fiction books that 'inspire' movies, this was the first time I was watching a movie after having read the story it's apparently based on. Obviously, I was excited, anticipant and a li'l apprehensive about really enjoying the story, since I had already read it.

I am not going to spell out the story here as almost all of you must have seen the movie by now. It's but a simple story of three guys working their way through an engineering school - four years of drudgery. Reticent geeks de-stressing themselves to the tones of acoustic guitars, self-obsessed highly regarded (mostly by the outside world) faculty members, hard-core techno stuff, tons of assignments, nerdy involvement with machines and yeah, scarce presence of feminity. Being an engineer myself, there were several aspects I could relate to, both in a supportive manner as well as contradictory. For instance, my Dad didn't announce at the time of my birth that I'd be an engineer. Rather, I've been lucky to have chosen that path myself with the full support of my family. More so because it's been a passion. I still remember the day I ran my first computer program. I was in fourth grade and the programming language was BASIC and the program printed the squares of the first ten natural numbers. It was amazing to see the entire list of ten numbers being printed out in the green console font on the monitor in an instant. I took the CPU apart to try and figure out what made that stuff so quick. Although, I couldn't figure out much on the hardware side then, the software did get me hooked. I guess I got lucky with 'the knack' :D!

The experience was ethereal. Something like a first crush which later develops into an obsession! I actually slept with my the hard copy version of my code under my pillow :). Another such experience was when I wrote my first substantially involved code - generating Pascal's triangle dynamically, on a bar napkin while everyone around me was letting their hair down partying :D! So I wouldn't be the one who'd hum "Ek pal toh hamein jeene do ..."; I have been lucky to have lived it hitherto :)! And I'm grateful to everyone concerned for that!

3 Idiots, as a movie comes across to me as a touching one with several splendid moments. It's an eclectic combination of camaraderie, love, nostalgia, team spirit, mischief, the urge to break free ... and I guess I watched it at the most appropriate time, given that tonight I am catching a flight to my college to attend my convocation ceremony :). I especially liked the hospital sequence wherein the three guys bond together as a unit, helping out the ailing father. Also the climax scene has been shot beautifully against the sparkling blue Ladaakhi waters. Awesome stuff! The timing in this particular sequence has been near-perfect. One could really feel the ups and down the characters' hearts must've been experiencing when they were trying to figure out whether both of them were still single! And the pretty regular appearance of the blazing red Volvo XC70 is more than just eye candy! The director has adapted the original story perfectly for a movie-like production and I agree with him that it is 'just loosely' based on the book by (apparently) India's best-selling pulp fiction author.

Finally, to be honest, with regards to the Khan wars in Bollywood, I have been a staunch supporter of the SRK camp so much so that I ignored Aamir's performances in TZP, Ghajini etc. because of my bias. But this movie made me sit up and take notice. A masterpiece by the perfectionist. All I can say is 'Jahaanpanaah, tussi great ho!'.

Monday, 11 January 2010

I survived MySQL (re-)installation!

Ever got the opportunity to experience the installation of MySQL Server 5.1 on your own system? Well yours truly recently went through the ordeal.

The thing is it's not an ordeal if it is a clean first time install but consider the case when you or someone else installed it on your machine a few weeks/months ago and now you don't have access to the root password. What would you do then? MySQL server installer is programmed in a way (apparently to preserve the security of the database) that it doesn't let you proceed unless you know that goddamn old root password (which many a times turns out to be the sys-admin's girlfriend's name). Even an uninstallation followed by attempted clean installation doesn't help. So now one is stuck! What do we do?

Problem Statement:  To hell with the old DB and perform a clean installation of MySQL Server 5.1, bypassing the root password requirement.


Step 1: Run the installation. Hit the last page. Encounter the error. Close.

Step 2: Go to the 'Application Data' folder on your Windows installation drive (usually C:) and Shift+Delete the MySQl folder there.

Step 3:  Go to the 'Program Files' folder on your Windows installation drive (usually C:) and Shift+Delete the MySQl folder there.

Step 4: Go to HKLM/Software/MySql registry key: and reset all of them to '0'.

Step 5: Restart your system.

Step 6: Re-install. Now it goes through smoothly!

Result: You are able to reinstall a fresh copy without formatting your system :D!

Sit back. Relax. Glory to MySQL! World's most popular open source DB.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

mondodello is back!

This blog has been in an "under-renovation" state for quite some time ... But, bugged (hmm ... that's an impromptu choice of words on display here :|) by people who happen to visit this piece of cyberspace pretty regularly, I was forced to get out of my hibernation. So here I am with a new post that follows this one.

Umm ... what changes has the much talked about "renovation" affected on my blog, you may ask. Well ... umm ... nothing much, I'd say but yeah, there's quite a lot in the pipeline and since I had to start from somewhere, hence this post. I'll keep plumbing in the changes over a period of time. But this time, it'd be a lot sooner than expected (Obviously, after waiting for months, all your expectations would have plummeted to a new low :P :D !).

Thanks for your patience, fellas! And yup, have a wonderful new year 2010!

Friday, 1 January 2010

The acolytes won!

USD 146 Bn! That's the annual turnover/market of the global cosmetics industry (and these are last year's statistics). What is it that makes this segment of the industry tick? In the business community's lingo, have they got the 4Ps of marketing - product, place, promotion, packaging - in place? What is it that makes millions of women (and an increasingly growing number of men, eager to jump on to the 'metrosexual' bandwagon) around the world buy such products every year? Is it the superiority of the product? Or is it that gorgeous starlet endorsing one of those age-defying creams?

If you look around you can instinctly figure out the answer. More often than not it ain't the product (none of those argotic AHA's or Provitamin B5 makes sense to the general masses and to be honest, their isn't lot of fun in researching a lot before buying something that is gonna be used up in a few days). It ain't the price (we all know how absurdly these products are priced). It ain't the place either. Not many dedicated stores are present which sell only such stuff exclusively. Promotion? Umm ... that could be it. Let's see ...

It's one of those uneventful days. After 'toiling hard' at workplace (hehe ... can't I abuse my artistic license? After all, I am the author of this blog!) one is going back home. Rows of glittering, neon-bleached billboards greet you. There's Schumacher telling you to drink responsibly and drive safely (Whoa! He's got more to offer than just that ... come March 2010, the maestro is gonna be back scorching the tracks with his racing antics! Countdown set. Fingers crossed and with bated breath, I am waiting :)!).

Then there is that petite beauty flaunting her Tanishq piece. There are also those not-so-subtle versions almost provoking you to go buy that product (Remember the Thums Up ad: 'Bade ho jaao bacche!'). Amidst all this clutter there is also that pristine beauty of an automobile - the BMW 3 series masterpiece - menacingly staring at you in a prancing posture, reminding you that that's the good life!

Saifeena are busy sitting pretty atop one such billboard endorsing that a particular telecom giant's MPEG4 technology-charged product indeed makes it all 'look so real' for them! And then there are those cute models wearing all sorts of clothes actually making you believe they'd look as good on you. Stop! How many times have such marketing instruments actually 'inspired' you to go buy that piece or at least prodded you to go check it out? That's where you lost it. That's where the acolytes of Mr Kotler won.

The point I am trying to drive home is that it is these subtle, subliminal messages that emanate from such adverts which impel one to check out a product and also influence the final buying decision to a substantial extent. gone are the days when Sachin would pop up on television and tell you that Boost is the secret of his energy and we'd all go madly to buy that product. Today's advertising has evolved to a degree that ads almost get away without projecting the message explicitly but still ensure that the cash register keeps on clicking. Remember the Cadbury ad: 'The real taste of life!'. It was an ad about chocolates with nothing but the last 6 seconds that showed one of the characters actually eating one. That's when Indian advertising evolved from being in-your-face to subtle, subliminal! In this ad instead of selling the chocolates on their original USP, they were associated being all about happiness (a higher emotion) and freedom of expression. 


Today one can see this happening all over the advertising place especially within the tobacco industry. Liquor and tobacco advertising has mostly been banned but haven't you seen an ad wherein a mineral water brand is being sold with the tag line: 'King of good times!'; We all know what good times are being referred to here :|. That's a more clever form of subliminal advertising and is bluntly and aptly called Surrogate Advertising! Mr Martin Lindstrom, author of the popular book Buyology, hints at the impending ideal state when all this will evolve into neuromarketing, when the ad companies will be actually able to 'manipulate' customers' decision making process in their favor through subtle surrogate messages not explicitly discernible!. Is that scary? You bet!

Victimised in a similar manner, like those ladies mentioned above, who go buy those age-defying cosmetics again and again with a hope that it'd actually make them younger (to the state of sweet sixteen in the ideal sense!), yours truly went to buy a complete care-kit from a reputed brand - not for himself, but for his suede leathers. In an optimistic frame of mind, one actually believed that those rain-lashed, puddle-soiled suedes will actually get a new lease of life, or in simpler terms, be able to defy their age. But alas! the various creams and brushes in the kit did their trick only to the extent that I am convinced to try it again next weekend, and may be again on the weekend after that. There was no instant effect - as *advertised*! As I said - the acolytes won! The various stages of treatment have been captured in these snaps posted here, as part of post-operative documentation:

Ladies in the parlour: The one on the right has just been cleaned with the "cleaner" liquid while the one on the left has already been tormented with the "renovator" liquid.


A close-up shot reveals the scars of the past (a pretty small past for that matter ... it's just been six months)!


The typical Woodland shot: Inspired by the print ads that appear in Sunday Times, in this 'pose' we see the baby drying up after a nice bath!