Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Software Developement Life Cycle

"Designing the database? What's the big deal, it's all about writing half a dozen CREATE TABLE queries, right?"

I was working on my semester project where we had to build a complete database application in Java. I had just started my work, and was bending my head looking at my basic abstract notion of the application, trying to decide what tables I need and what data do I put on them. This was when a friend called in, wanting to know my progress. I told him that I've just started with it and was designing the database - and he asked me this.

I was not shocked in any sense, because my friend represented 99 percent of India's undergraduate population, who believes programming means the code - bringing up your IDE or whatever editor and punching in lines and lines of code - that says it all about programming. 'Seriously, what else is there to it,' are you thinking too?

A lot, a hell lot, in fact - perhaps you remember from your Object Oriented Programming or Software Design, this rhetoric phrase - "actual coding contributes to only 30% to the total software development life cycle" - there are equally important phases like analysis, design and modeling. Despite this, when we are given a software product, the first thing we do is jump on our keyboards and start punching in hard code. The methodologies stay in the books, either being too good for us to try out, or just being mundane and irrational, a mere waste of time. So are they, really?

I wanted to find out. With a semester project that need to be completed in the next three days, this wasn't the best time to experiment, but I took that chance. I took out my notebook and a pen, conjured up the my database with the required data, normalized them, refined them; and in an hour, I was left with six tables in Boyce-Codd Normal Form. Ah, quite a feat, I thought, considering this was my first real attempt a practical database design problem.

With my tables in my hand, I contemplated if the hour spend was really worthy enough. I was slightly surprised that it was -- during my design process, the database underwent 3 major revisions, and the tables ended up quite different from what I originally had in mind. If I had attempted coding the tables downright, this would have meant having to rewrite the code entirely a couple of times - that would already take an hour and then leave me in frustration that I'll need to spend the next hour doing something else.

With my six little tables, I sat in to code them up in SQL. After 15 minutes, the database was done - the magic is, no single line of code, no single query was written, which was surprising again. I was depending upon the mySQL Workbench, which did the query-generation for me - all I had to do was create a schemata, arrange my table within it using the well designed GUI, and sync it in to the database - done, and zero coding thus far.

With the backend in place, the next task was designing the GUI front-end for my application. In this situation, however, it was not necessary to actually draw out the windows and buttons on paper before I implement them - since I was using my NetBeans IDE for this purpose, I was "drawing the windows anyway", and there was enough room for errors and improvisation.

Designing the GUI only held more surprises - with the entire GUI frontend ready, complete with the event-handling, I still hadn't written a single line of code. NetBeans automated it all. From laying out my components on the screen, to setting up events like "click this, and that window appears" or, "tick this box and that text-field is active" - everything could be handled using just the GUI, and no coding.

So this was all the software modules, frameworks, and component-based development jargon all about, I realized. And as I leaned back in my chair starting to take a break with "The Social Network", this amazing thought stuck me - for the first time in my life as an engineering graduate, I was applying something I was learning in my books. Absurd call, that's what I'm always meant to do - but this was indeed an idea worth cherishing for an engineering graduate in India.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Well, it's over six months now that I'm into blogging, and disregarding the five months that I left my blog idle, it feels great. The good news now, is that this is not the only blog that I write on, by now, I've diversified a little bit - there are a few more blogs than this that I regularly write on.
These indeed are not blogs that I own, like this one - these instead are websites in existence for a while now, run by other companies, and have made quite some name in the webspace. I'm just hired as the editor for these blogs, more like an employee.

So now, these are the blogs that I write on these days, besides this one:

Here, I cover stuff about Nokia 5800, and Symbian Series 60 5th Edition OS. Everything right from features, tips, apps and games to brand new releases, news from the arena etc are covered. Did you know that the new Ovi Suite is right around the corner? Or that the Opera Mobile has just grown up to version 10.1? For all this and more, jump right in!

Ever fancied ripping your phone apart yourself? Or how about spending some time helping a bunch of monkeys find their way home?
This is a similiar blog to the one above, the only difference here is that Nokia 5230 is the prime focus here. Here too, apps, news, and similar stuff are covered.
One the above two blogs, I post on a regular basis, nearly one post per day.

This is a general technology blog, with a special inclination to mobile technology. This too is a regularly updated blog, with new news coming in every day - but as I am just one among the bloggers for the site, my posts will not be as frequent as on the above two blogs.
My posts on this site primarily focuses on personal technology issues and an occasional review, rather than tech news and updates.

The catch is, on these blogs, I post much more frequently than here - that's because I'm supposed to do nothing less than that - it's a matter of making my bosses happy and getting paid. But back here, since this is my personal blog, I'm free to post whenever I'm ready and down and feel like it's time for a post (and that's exactly the reason why I don't post most of the time). Also, the other blogs are strictly dedicated to technology and mobile-phone buzz, but this one on the other hand, is about just anything - which essentially means this is the only place you'll find the trademark philosophy posts.

The bottomline, of course, is that same old cliche of a request - I've been enjoying quite much support on this blog, and I expect the same from all of you on the other blogs of mine - so long, guys!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Choosing Emotions

What if your emotions are your choosing?
What if you could choose when you want to feel sad, or happy; angry or weird? What if all of emotions and thoughts are just an independent illusion with no direct correlation with the 'real' world and its events? Well, that would have been wonderful, won't it? With your emotions at your disposition, you could choose to be happy whenever you can, even when the whole world pits itself against you.

Well, what if they really are? Guess what, I think they are.

It was about 4 months back that I discovered this simple fact. My emotions are a matter of choice - they are just a bunch of simple illusions, that I am free to play with. As my anecdote goes, I was pitted in a very frustrating and grave situation; which co-incidentally was a replica of a similar situation that happened to me some time ago. Back then, the scene wrecked me off my nerves and rewarded me with a spell of three days of angst, frustration and anger.

This time, maybe because I was a bit preoccupied when the situation presented itself, it was a while before the picture percolated down through my senses, into the sphere beneath my consciousness. And quite unintentionally, I had already pondered over the situation for quite a while and made my choice that it did not deserve to chunk away a share of my emotional energy.

Or, put simply; a very bad thing happened to me, and I chose to remain passive. Result: The next week, I spend happy as ever, if not happier.

This was when I started to get the idea that emotions were really a matter of choice. But this was no more than an ambitious hypothesis; and like any hypothesis - mathematical, physical or philosophical needed further evidence to prove it right. The only test subject I had in disposition, was, alas, myself.

Without elaborating on the testing process -- which for an outline, involved attempting to be happy with another disarming situation, attempting to stay grave when I could blow my head in elation, and a myriad of smaller tests -- instead - let me tell you my findings - that emotions really are a matter of choice. I could really handpick my emotions, even when they bore no perceivable coherence with the event-horizon surrounding me.

What then, is happening in the with all of us usually? I think, its just that we are unaware of the choice. We are making our choices without even realizing it. Of course, how are we supposed to choose, if we didn't even know the choice existed, in first place?
However, there is another, more subtler reason why our emotions evade us, and ends up getting the better of us; this one a lot more difficult to handle. This is not about not realizing the choice, but being 'powerless to choose'. There are moments when you are just to tired to make your stance, or you don’t care - and let the events make the choice for you. The classic example is 'numbness', when essentially all you do is spent your days detached - good days and bad may alternate in front of you, without you noticing. All you do is exist and watch, without involving, yourself anchored in some remote delirium. You will know you can end this whenever you choose to - all it takes is a hearty laugh; but you won’t make the choice, you won’t want to.

It's this situation that's the hardest to handle. Here, the choice won't matter. It is really no different from having no choice at all - worse in fact - you will bear the additional burden of knowing about the existence of a choice, which will clobber your already tattered soul even further.
I cannot prescribe a perfect solution to this situation - maybe presence of mind, focusing hard enough can get you out. I myself couldn't find a solution, a way out, since I got caught in such a pit over two months ago; and to this day since then, my life and thoughts are more a compromise, a deal stricken with the numbness.

However, such situations, I guess, present themselves only sparingly, and for the larger share of your life, you should be able to really choose your emotions without much trouble.

Closing note - choose your emotions. When you give up the choice, even for an instant, the subsequent course your subconscious is made to trace could get too wild to bring back in control.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The River That Forgot to Flow

There was a river that forgot to flow.

It was the spring. Daffodils, roses and a thousand other nameless flowers bloomed beside the river. The nameless flowers smiled at the river from the weeds

they bloomed. The river smiled back. The sky shone - sometimes pink, sometimes azure, and sometimes transparent like the darkness. The river looked at the

sky. Never smiled, neither stared; just kept looking at the sky. Still it did not flow.

Then a bird flew by, it asked why. The river did not heed the call. The river did not smile. And it did not flow.
A thousand birds then flew by. None of the birds noticed the river. None of them smiled, or laughed at it, or cried for it, or asked why. The birds kept flying.

The river kept not flowing - for it had forgotten how to flow.

Time hadn't forgotten to flow. It did, tumbling sometimes, sometimes slow. Kind and mellow sometimes, ruthless at other. The daffodils wilted, the roses fell to

ground, and the thousand nameless flowers rose to heavens. The birds were gone, so was the spring, what left was the river - that did not flow.
And so did time flow. The river did not flow, across the white ground, devoid of life; besides the shores that bore no daffodils, roses or nameless flowers.

Then it turned pale.
The river turned pale, then white. Crystalline, then solid. Cold, then frozen.

It was the spring again. Daffodils, roses and a thousand other nameless flowers bloomed beside the river. Then the bird flew by - amongst the thousand birds

that never noticed - and asked why.

The Glacier smiled to the bird. "I'm flowing, my darling.."

Reflections About the Timeline

I wish yesterday be a dream,
Evansce, melt, and lay forgotten.

Wish tomorrow never came -
No hopes nor fears that keeps me taut.

I wish this moment could stay -
This moment, called now
Would dilate, or freeze - and never elapse.

Even as the nows coalesce
Into this hectic scale of time
Whence I walk,
Perpetually haunted
By funny yesterdays
And misty tomorrows.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

These Sleepless Nights

The idea of this post is simple - I've been having sleepless nights for five nights in a row now. No, I've not been using steroids, I'm not over-caffeinated, and I don't sleep my days out. Still I get to spend the better parts of my nights awake.

One of my friends suggested, "that's probably because there are a lot of unsettled thoughts in your mind" - it true, that my mind is always suscepted to a multitude of thoughts, a better share of them unsettled. But the kind of 'unsettledness' he talked here about, an 'emotional overload', as I put it, is neither my reason too. Emotional overloads are something that I seldom have these days, thanks to the faithful sinusoid my life follows. My mindset is usually left well in balance - no matter however high or low the crests or troughs that I get to ride are.

So it was, the cause of this insomnia that has recently been gripping me, was not easy to find. I soon became aware of the pointlessness of the search, and even, the pointlessness of knowing whatever the cause might be - I then turned to examine what these nights meant to me. Put in the simplest terms, I love these nights - love them so much that I don't exactly want to fall asleep again.

I love the sights - the pale, translucent darkeness, the calm image of the moon if present, or the placid moonlessness of the sky. And I love the myriad sounds - of the multiple fans whirring; a lonely howl of a loner wolf, the ever-present hum of the mosquitoes that haunt me in a squad that never falls below 6 in number, however hard I try; the occasional groan from the hostel-mate sleeping nearby; the music played by another mate, already fast asleep, who broke his headset and hence chooses to play it loud. I love the way it all feels.

And I love the many things I do during one of these nights. I maybe lying on my back reminiscing and reflecting. Or playing 'What Hurts the Most' for the umpteenth time - that is my favorite track recently. Or wading my way through random blogs - it was one of those nights that I found out a blog by a person that calls herself 'geek', and fell in love with it. Or doing one of great many things online or offline - no, porn and you-know-what is not exactly what I mean.

But perhaps, the most important factor that makes me want to stay awake is that, for these mighty nightly hours, I get to be ALONE.
Those who know me know, that solitude used to be, and still is, among the best of my friends - and for so long until only lately used to be the only. And lately, I had this trouble of missing my solitude a bit too much, making me feel lost even when I am supposed to have good times with my friends. That state of mind seems to have been cured now, once and for all - by staying awake at the nights, I get the time I need to spend with my best friend - and doesn't need to miss her or feel lost when I'm with my other friends who are more 'real'.

I'd say, everyone should spend a night or too sleepless - although, be careful not to get addicted to it like me. There is a lot of miracles that the Night has in store for anyone. Open your mind, and do what it directs you to do - anything from breathing deep and reminiscing, to dancing around the room naked. Be you, be the 'you' that even you didn't know.

That's all for the day. About the post on emotions, I'll come up with it probably the coming weekend. As a passing note, this post was supposed to be aired last night, at about 2:00 - unfortunately, my cellphone's browser turned me down - after typing the entire article, I was stunned to find that the 'Publish' and 'Save' buttons were not there where they were supposed to be - some kind of script-error, I guess. And hence I now get to type the entire thing all over again, now sitting in an internet-cafe cubicle.

So that's it, see you soon. Poof.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The iPad Thing: Should I Be A Fan?

Tada! So now we have the iPad. The next magical thing marketed by the wizard called Jobs, promising to create a niche of its own in the market, reign it, revolutionarize all of us. Wow!

And Tada! I think i need two of them, here is my 'much awaited' (why, it is - I've been eagerly looking forward to the day I post this) iPad review. 'So what?' Is that what you are raising your eyebrow for? How is this one different from a hundred others, written by nerds around the world? Well, it is different actually. I'll tell you how.

Primarily because: I haven't touched the iPad. Not even seen it for real. Infact I have no hope that I might actually get to see one in the next 2 years. That's precisely why I write this review - without delving into the specs or rambling about how smooth the interface is, I'll just tell you what I think about the product from what I hear. Simply put, this review is not about what the iPad is for a customer/user and should you buy it - its more about what it means to casual onlooker, like me - who's just interested with what's hot on the tech-sphere. Less a product review and more a 'buzz-review'. I think I need some credits for coining that cool term!

Till the day of launch, things seemed to be colourful enough to most people. Somehow, I remained skeptical. The idea of a 'blown-up iPhone' remained just that to me - a blown up phone. Ugh! And then, last saturday it happened. Like I anticipated, the sales figures didn't quite match the amazing figures that Apple gets normally with it product launches. A few points lost there.

Sunday afternoon, I checked out the top technology news sites again. And guess what I saw, hordes after hordes of complaints. Heating issues, battery life, battery charging issues, and more freqently, issues with WiFi. Oh, Apple, I think that's a lot of points you lose there.

Lets now look at a few things iPad promised to be and where it ended up.
'The bridging device between your netbook and your phone' - do people really need a bridge there? The netbook itself is a bridge device, in fact.
Gaming: Neither here do I see a point too. For motion-sensing kind of casual games, I think iPad is slightly too bulky and iPhone might do a better job. For the slightly more serious genre, the presence of hardware peripherals, and better powered insides of a regular laptop is indeed better.
Web and Applications: Web browsing, I admit, is one arena that the iPad will shine in. Touch interface will be a boon, especially with many sites launching special touch-optimized versions. About apps, I have mixed feelings. True, the App Store is a wonderful place that sells wonderful apps. Anyway, I don't really like the idea of running productivity apps on a platform that was primarily designed for phones.
And some other things - e-book - no, the sunlight readability is poor and display is less paperlike. Digital photo frame - yes, it makes a really cool one. Movies and entertainment - maybe, but I'll pass.

So what does this all come down to? Time for the verdict for 'should we really be fans'? I think the iPad is just an okay-okay kind of stuff, and doesn't deserve accolades that the iPhone got. Maybe it won't be as bad a product like the Macbook Air, but still doesn't manage to hit the 'great' spot. Sure, it's gonna get a lot more better in the coming days with upgrades, incremental updates and all that. But somehow, I'm left with the feeling that the iPad will remain just a non-essential device that neither isn't revolutionary enough.

Bottomline: I don't like the iPad.

COMING UP NEXT: Where do emotions come from? Are we the ones who choose how we feel?

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Blog Preamble

Friends, I'm back. This time with my Blog Preamble. My apologies about the 'iPad' thing - it will follow real soon. Probably tomorrow.

Like every big-and-boring things, I decided my blog should also have a preamble. Only, it would technically be not precisely a 'pre'amble - those who have done a data-structures major course would know what I mean, this should be better called an 'in'-amble.
This is going to be simple, I just need to state what this blog is going to be. Or rather, what I'm now planning now for it to be. So yes, here we go.

Firstly, atleast for quite some time, this will be an all-in-one blog. So you can see here many things -technology, music and movie reviews, anecdotes, and of course, more often, my own personal whimsies like the previous post. I decided that way since it's not really nice to play with a handful of blogs right from my debut - maybe one day I'll become a famous and well-read blogger, and then I'll keep different blogs to tend to different classes of my readers. Just joking. (And secretly hoping.)

Nextly, the update frequency of this blog will be roughly forthnightly. I'll normally come up with new posts once in two weeks - unless something really bad happens, like me being marooned with no means to access the internet, or me simply being not in the mood to blog. I think that is a safely spaced interval to post, without overwhelming my blog with too frequent posts. Of course, if sometimes I get stuck with an idea so special, and I can't resist the urge to tell you about it, I may break the forthnight rule and post it right away.

I'll try to footnote my blogs with a cue to what's coming up next. And I'll try my best to stick to my word.

And something important - I have no intention whatsoever to monetize my blog. If I can have a handful of people to read my blog, I'm happy with that. I'll never litter my blog with ads. I think they make a blog look ugly, and makes it lose quite much of its worth.

Lastly, it goes without saying, that, whatever you see in this blog represents the essential me. Even though some of the things are more 'me' than others, all these things are what make me up. Simply put, this blog is all about me, I'm (almost) all about this blog. This is the other reason why I opted for an all-in-one blog.

And finally, a word to you - your comments are always welcome. I desperately need feedback. Last night, a friend who had just read my blog told me that, "fine, does but your blog has a bit of arrogant tone to it?" Okay, I didn't know that - maybe it came from me trying to be a bit too frank and blunt - but now i can correct that.
So, my friends, keep 'feeding me back'. Comment, comment. Of course, those who know me can also tell me in person, or text me or whatever.

That's for today. I'll be back soon, and fulfil my word. Signing off. Poof.

[UP NEXT: What does the iPad mean to the casual gawker-geek? Of course, we're never gonna buy it, but should we really be fans?]

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


I love undulations - for the way they take birth in things so trivial - like an empty metal bowl. I love them - for the way they emanate, expand and fill the space, knowing no bounds. I love the way they interact - with themselves and the world - interfering and diffracting.
I love these undulations - for they never die.

That's one of the two reason's why I named this blog undulations. Undulations are the next best thing to me since (no, sliced-bread is not what I'm about to say) Solitude. There's one more, and perhaps a bigger reason -
This is precisely the tragectory my life follows - a ceaseless undulation. A sinusoid. And I love it.

My life constantly riddled me with incomprehensible troughs and crests. It scared me, to the point of hating it - but not now, after I comprehended the rhythm. Now I know, for the deepest trough I fall in, there soon follows a mesmerizing climb back up. Followed by yet another fall. And the chain continues. I love it this way. I don't have to fear it would spiral wildly out of any control - or meander chaotically knowing no way. I can simply and blindly trust it to faithfully traverse the tagectory it so well knows.

I think all of us should look deep enough into our lives. Maybe we'll all have a hidden sinusoid there. Or any kind of pattern, a subtle regularity. Learning it, comprehending the way it works will render our lives far more easier to live. And the feeling, of knowing where your life is going - it's simply miraculous.

[Meanwhile, like I said before, not all my posts are gonna sound this way okay - so if this post kinda scares you, please don't go away. I might talk anything at all - right from poetry to mobile phones to popcorn to alien invasions.]
Coming up Next: I'm gonna review the iPad. Without even taking a look at it other than pictures.

The First Step

Welcome to 'Undulations' - my first, favorite, experimental, or whatever you can call, blog - and so far the only.

And here I am, with my first blog post - which is supposed, for the good of my blog, to be the best. Which I'm quite sure, will not be. Frankly speaking, I do not know how to speak up. Or win hearts.
Anyway, for that matter, I'd rather introduce what my blog will sound like. Quite frankly, I don't know. This first baby may look or sound like just about anything, in sync with what's on my mind when I compose a post. So expect just about anything.

That quite makes my first post. Bored, aren't you? Well then, go ahead and read the next post - it's even more boring. Only, it's got that 'wise-guy', philosophical tone to it.
Okay folks, see you there.