Life at Google – A Microsoftie Perspective


An interesting take on Google culture by a Microsoftie who left Microsoft to do a startup, got acquired by Google, and then moved back to Microsoft. I would condense it into the following points:

  1. Life is great for people who have just started work. Google takes care of most needs, and as a result, people spend a lot more hours at work.
  2. Very few people make use of the 20% time, since their managers don’t stress on it.
  3. Private offices for technical staff are not preferred at Google, which is not necessarily good (I would personally back this, since I have seen my productivity increase since I moved into a cabin).
  4. Career growth prospects are not clear. There are no growth tracks you can choose. It seems to suggest that there is very less clarity on how growth happens.
  5. There is more focus on freebies than on organizational structure and growth paths. In fact, there are one too many people under the same manager, which makes some things very complicated.
  6. In some ways, Google is a lot more flexible, eg. TechStop

Actually, right in the beginning the author claims that the culture at Google at the moment is very similar to what was in Microsoft a couple of decades back.

I am not clear if much credence can be lent to it, it might just be internet flotsam that has found its way into my inbox. I would, however, agree that as Google ages and as do its employees, a lot more processes will be put in place. Oh, and I think the view is very much Redmond and Mountain View centric, so we should not try to generalize finer details to international locations even though the culture would be close to head office. (For instance, they might not do laundry in Google office in Bangalore!)

[Thanks to AshChord for the tip]

Lines of Code

A quick way to find the lines of code under a subdirectory:

find | grep “.cs$” | awk ‘//{print “\””$0″\””;}’| xargs wc

It recursively finds all the files under a directory, passes through a grep filter (which you would have to update based on your preferred language of development), awks it to enclose it with quotes and then passes to wc using xargs. Neat!

My current project now has about 31k lines of code, out of which about 9.5k is mine. Messy!

[Thanks to Robin for help with the commands]

Bheja Fry

I have a big complaint with the producers of this movie. It should really be called Bheja Unfry, because if your bheja is really fried, there is no better movie to unfry your brain!

Vinak Pathak is a genius. I think he has long had great acting talent, and everybody acknowledges it, but this is one movie where he is really liberated and does justice to the actor in him.

It is certainly not easy to play an idiot. The comic timing has to be spot on — a Herculean task! And Pathak is Hercules. From the first scene when he is introduced in the bus, his presumptions on the co-passengers — stretching over them, engaging them in uncomfortable conversations — to the way he removes the scrap book from the plastic cover making sounds of plastic creasing all the way is excellent. This dialog delivery is brilliant — he seems to use exquisite Hindi in a number of places, and precisely in the places which would drive others crazy.

Vinay Pathak really walks away with the cake. Rajat Kapoor as Ranjit Thadani is good, but pales in comparison. Ranvir Shorey has a short and brilliant cameo as Asif Merchant. The way he is introduced — watching an Indo-Pak match patting his stomach which is half covered with his baniyan was hilarious. The other actors fail to make any mark. Milind Soman is a real disappointment. Thankfully he wore a beard all through, because otherwise noticing his always-wooden face would have been child’s play (it still is!). Sarika has a mostly inconsequential role.

The movie stands out due to its script. However, it could have been made much more crisp. The scenes where Pathak is not there are so low-energy that you almost doze off. The editors ought to have used their scissors more often. Still, a different movie — and a comedy movie after a long time which dares to be different and gets it right!

Oh, and if you watch it at a time when your bheja is really fried, it is a superlative therapeutic.

Unfry your bheja!

WiTricity, anybody?

[Crossposted on Desicritics]

[Link – Goodbye wires…]

One of the most painful things is charging cables and batteries (since I forever seem to forget them), and that is what a team from MIT is trying to address. They have come up with a concept called WiTricity, or Wireless Electricity. The technology relies on magnetic resonance to enable efficient power transfer between coupled devices at reasonable distances. The project is lead by Marin Soljacic, and his students from MIT.

It is interesting to note that such a thing is even possible, and it will probably lead to a complete shift in paradigms if it can be made commercially viable. It is probably as disruptive a technology as wireless-radio which has transformed communications.

However, it seems that there is still a lot to do before WiTricity will be out of gestation. It might take a few years to a decade. First of all, the technology has to be made viable, and demonstrated to be cheap and easy to use. Secondly, the effect of magnetic resonance radiations to human beings has to be studied and certified to be healthy.

More coverage on this: here, here and here.

Why IIT-Kharagpur is a geek paradise?


It really feels good to read nice things about your alma-mater. It fills you up with pride, the place almost revisits you — the labs, the classrooms, the hostels, roads and intersections — all those small little things that were a part of your life, things you took for granted, until you left the place. Oh, I am getting nostalgic again :)

Anyway, the good news is that IIT Kharagpur has been adjudged the best government engineering college in India, by the OutlookCNN-IBN survey. I don’t lend much credence to such rankings because I personally feel that all the ones in the top-5 are almost neck-to-neck, and establishing a pecking order can not be an objective process. This is clearly illustrated because in the same year, it is ranked 5th by the India-Today ranking.

For a student who is looking at just entering the IITs, the biggest advice I would give is that it is far more important to do well in the IIT you go to rather than worrying too much about which IIT is better. At the end of the day, you will have a gala time and pass out with a world-recognized degree which will provide a platform to build your career further.

However, what really got me to write this post was this video which made me really really nostalgic!

Wiki Groaning

This is a hilarious article on the nerd bias in Wikipedia. While wikipedia is a great resource, there is a lot of peanut butter which nobody wants to eat, just because some people love peanut butter, and most wikipedia articles are written by people who like peanut butter.

Just go through the entries, and you’ll know why! Sample these:

  • Modern Warfare v. Lightsaber Combat
  • Prime Number v. Optimus Prime (the Transformers character)
  • Girlfriend v. Video Games
  • Half Life v. Half Life 2
  • Love v. Masturbation
  • Bathing v. Acne
  • [Thanks to TechCrunch for the lead]

    In the company of friends – Gates and Jobs

    Another article at Desicritics. 

    Would not rate my writing very high since I wrote it when I was half asleep, but I wanted to write about this monumental meeting between the two titans and so there it is.

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