Friday, September 28, 2012
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Saturday, September 22, 2012
Unit testing won’t help you write good code.The only reason to have Unit tests is to make sure that code that already works doesn’t break. Writing tests first, or writing code to the tests is ridiculous. If you write to the tests before the code, you won’t even know what the edge cases are. You could have code that passes the tests but still fails in unforeseen circumstances. And furthermore, good developers will keep cohesion low, which will make the addition of new code unlikely to cause problems with existing stuff.
by Chad Okere
Thursday, September 20, 2012
Its amazing how we take things we use everyday for granted. A whole bunch of my daily work involves transferring files over FTP. I never thought about looking up it’s history. And today,I was just watching a random TV show and the host, who were shooting at IIT Khanpur, mentions that it was a graduate of that college who developed FTP.
Abhay Bhushan graduated from IIT Khanpur in its first batch in 1965, and went on to design RFC 114, which became the basis of the file transport protocol. There are some really nice articles about him if you google right.
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Sunday, September 16, 2012
There have been 18 hartals so far this year alone. While hartals are called for various reasons, political, economic and social, they dont really achieve what the organisers set out to.
Prof K.M. Seethi of the School of International Rel-ations and Politics, MG University, Kottayam, ridi-cules the idea of paralysing the functioning of a state with a hartal, when the outcome is a given.
“A Kerala hartal cannot result in a rollback of the diesel price hike.
The decision-makers at the Centre will not even hear about it and it will only add to the problems of the people,” he says, observing that developed countries dont resort to such forms of protest although they place great importance on democratic values. “A state cannot hope to develop with such irrelevant protests,” he warns.
“When the twin towers of the World Trade Centre collapsed, American politicians did not call for a hartal. Instead, they focused on rescuing people and saving lives. And later turned their attention to nabbing the terrorists.
The action of the politicians and other groups in New York proved to the world that they were only concerned about the welfare of the people. There was no curfew or mob violence,” he points out.
Haridas, president of ‘The Proper Channel’, an NGO in Kochi, says calling of hartals by political parties is a violation of the nine guidelines issued by the high court.
“We have filed a petition regarding this violation in the court. No developed country supports disrupting all activity across a state.
KSRTC has suffered a loss of Rs 80 crore due to hartal violence since 2008. People need to take a firm stance against them and go about their work as usual,” he insists.
Striking the wrong chord
Here are some facts to demonstrate why calling a hartal to set right a grievance is such a stale idea.
The centre raised the price of diesel to record levels just three months after two hartals were staged in protest against the record hike in petrol prices.
Liquor sales in Beverages Corporation outlets on the day before a hartal shoot up by an average of Rs 3 crore.
In 2005, BMW officials turned their back on Kerala after the two attempts made by its top officials to meet the chief minister happened on hartal days.
A Labour Department study in 2010 had revealed that nearly 95 percent of those in the unorganised sector – fish workers, construction workers, daily wagers of all kinds – are deprived of a day’s work and wages as a result of a hartal.
These facts expose hartals for what they are: One, the authorities have grown immune to them. Two, the general public consider them as a public holiday. Three, they scare investments away. Four, they are harshest on the poor.
Hartals have come a full circle; from revolutionising the freedom movement to becoming a major public nuisance.
“Hartal was evolved by Gandhi as an effective weapon for the weak. Now political parties use this as a weapon to harass the weak,” political commentator B.R.P. Bha-skar said.
“As a political weapon, hartal has become im-potent. It has ceased to have any effect on the aut-horities. Parties are resorting to hartals simply because they cannot come up with anything better,” he said.
Former naxallite leader and social activist K.Venu said that a hartal was the best way to establish the clout of a political party.
“It is convenient for both the political party and the public. Even if an insignificant party calls for a hartal, people are only too willing to oblige,” he said. Shashi Tharoor, MP, the most vocal critic of hartals, wants the practice to be banned.
“The single largest negative factor preventing Kerala growth and inve-stment is our hartal culture,” he said.
Hartal passes off peacefully
The dawn-to-dusk State-wide hartal called by the Left parties and Bharatiya Janata Party in protest against the diesel price hike was by and large total and peaceful in the city and the suburbs. The only violence reported in the district was in Muvattupuzha where a KSRTC bus was stoned.
The incident occurred at 3 am on Saturday resulting in the bus going off the road and thus injuring seven including the driver and the conductor.
However, the local left activists said they had no role in the stoning incident. The police suspects antisocial activists are behind the incident.
There were a few rough incidents in the western parts of the city when hartal supporters forcibly closed shops, eateries etc. They also blocked vehicles in some places.
Heavy police force was deployed to maintain law and order. The streets wore a deserted look with private and state transport corporation vehicles staying off roads.
Educational institutions, shops and other establishments, including petrol pumps, remained closed.
Hartal also affected the functioning of the civil station and the district collectorate. While 10 offices in the civil station remain closed, only negligible staff presence was witnessed in the offices that functioned. Even the skeleton staff present returned home by afternoon in many offices.
What they say about hartal
By all accounts, hartal as a form of protest has gone well past its sell-by date. Deccan Chronicle tries to find out whether we can fight for our rights in a more sensible way. We asked a cross-section of our readers, from leaders and opinion makers to the youth whether it is possible to evolve a non-party-centric inspirational means of mass protest to put our genuine grievances across.
Shashi Tharoor, Thiruvananthapuram MP, author and former UN official: I am strongly in favour of any non-disruptive forms of protest – holding a placard or marching peacefully. There are no indications to suggest that hartals are necessary to air our grievances or that they are more effective than other saner means of protest. On the other hand, hartals have done enough damage to Kerala’s economy.
Babu Paul, former additional chief secretary: Kerala should enlist the media in its fight against injustice. Instead of holding hartals at the drop of a hat, the sentiments of the public can be very effectively conveyed to the powers that be through the media.
Renjith Ramachandran, Technopark employee: Social media is an effective tool to convey the mass protest of the people, that too without causing any inconvenience to the public. It is high time we say goodbye to hartals as it is not yielding any results other than putting the common man through untold miseries.
Girish Krishnan, a Graphic designer at Technopark: “Hartals will only add to the trouble of the common man and the worst is that it will not yield any results. No one is going to reduce the price of diesel because of a hartal. It is one more day of trouble for the people. An alternative way of protest can be to bombard our ministers with mass smses. The messages should be sent at the same time, the same day.”
Rajashree Pradeep, home maker: “Protest is a democratic right, it also involves a bit of sacrifice on the part of the public. But it should not be a full shutdown. Shops should be kept open. Vehicles, however, should keep away from the roads as a mark of protest”
Monday, September 3, 2012
This is a rare thing: a column on a topic I haven't covered before. With 185 Tooling Up columns since 1997, it isn't always easy coming up with something new.
In Tooling Up, columns are generally focused on helping you land a job. This month, I am writing about why some people leave jobs they worked so hard to find.
I see a lot of CVs. For years, I’ve noticed that some people—a lot of people, actually—don't stay very long at their first jobs. They may accept the job intending to retire there in 30 or 40 years, but instead they leave quickly, adding an early blemish to their CVs.
There are some good reasons to leave a job early. The job may have been misrepresented. Your boss might be a bully, or just a jerk. Or maybe you got another offer that's too good to refuse.
Those who don’t bail out early—who hang in and use that first job as an opportunity to learn, grow, and show stability—usually end up in a much better position. I’ve seen how far employers stretch to land candidates with solid work histories and significant stays at each employer.
These days, people don’t stay in companies for a lifetime as they did in the decades after World War II, but a series of 1- or 2-year stays will still hurt you. Five to 7 years at a company is a good run. Consider 2 to 3 years the minimum commitment when accepting a new job.
One short stay may not be a problem if you have a convincing explanation. But if short stays start to seem like a trend, you’ll earn the job-hopper label. You'll need to explain yourself at every future job interview, and there will be few enough of those.
Seven reasons why good people leave good jobsA few years ago, I read a book offering explanations for why people leave jobs. In The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave, Leigh Branham lists and explains these seven reasons. Branham’s intention is to help employers improve employee retention, but those reasons are worth thinking about for employees and job seekers because knowing them may help you look at job offers more critically.
Here are Branham’s seven reasons, with my own commentary about how these apply to readers looking for their first real job:
1) The job or workplace was not as expected: This may be the most common reason for early departures, so make sure that you know what your expectations are. Identify your prime needs prior to the job interview. Then test the job against those needs during that interview. What you learn will help you make a well-informed, unbiased decision about whether it makes sense to take the job. It may be hard to turn down what seems like a good job offer at a time when job offers are rare, but it's much better to refuse an offer than to inject a short stay into your employment history.
2) The mismatch between job and person: Branham’s research shows that more than 80% of workers feel they do not use their strengths every day. That can be very frustrating for the employee, and counterproductive for the employer. Identify your strengths before the interview. Ask questions to uncover whether your strengths will be utilized. If not, you will perform below your potential and enjoy the work less.
3) Too little coaching and feedback: In order to stay motivated and engaged, people need to know they are on the right track. Branham says that just 35% of highly talented employees believe their companies keep them well-informed about where they stand.
When you are interviewing, ask your prospective boss questions like: “How do you help your employees reach their personal development goals?” and “What systems are in place to coach staff members and provide feedback?” A hands-off boss may sound great, but for most people it’s not a good situation for the first year at the company. Early on, you need mentoring.
4) Too few growth and advancement opportunities: Even in a flat organization, employees who perform well should be able to achieve career growth, recognition, and self-satisfaction. Often, an employee leaves quickly because she can’t see what her career path looks like, or because expectations are unrealistic. It takes about twice as long to earn a promotion than most new employees expect.
Your new manager, backed by the human resources department, should address those expectations by outlining a typical career trajectory for someone in a position like yours. But often that doesn't happen. Expect to spend 2 to 3 years learning how the company works, though it may be longer before opportunities arise. Don’t expect to occupy a corner office without putting in some time and sweat equity.
5) Feeling devalued and unrecognized: Managers often tell me that their new employees are “needy,” which isn’t a good thing. Apparently, after years of being treated like mushrooms—kept in the dark and fertilized with manure—even former academics expect to be pampered when they move into a company. The reality is exactly the opposite: Their efforts often go unrecognized.
The solution is to find your own ways to feel good about your job performance without a change of scenery. This is a very common problem. Until you solve it, you’ll be job-hopping.
6) Stress from overwork and work-life imbalance: Stress can pile up as a result of long hours and deadline pressures. After graduate school and maybe a postdoc, a long workweek may not scare you—but how much experience have you had dealing with real deadlines? My guess is that this will be one of the first rude awakenings you’ll have during your first year in industry.
According to Branham, fewer than 30% of employees believe they have a healthy balance between their work and nonwork lives. Many companies are aiming to address this by developing programs for improving employees' work-life balance. Yet, lean times mean more work for those employees lucky enough to have jobs, exacerbating an already challenging situation. It's up to you to figure out how to get the work done and still have a satisfying life.
7) Loss of confidence in leadership: In some companies, a combination of layoffs, financial scandals, and absurd pay gives employees the impression that CEOs are helping themselves at the trough at the expense of the other employees. But that's not why people leave their jobs early. People leave because they have a poor relationship with their supervisor, not with the CEO.
If your boss isn’t the kind of person who you’d trust with one of your ideas, or if you have no confidence that your work is adequately represented to higher management, you might be headed for the door—but don't be hasty. Are you sure you're right about your boss? Can the relationship be improved? If not, is an internal transfer available? Explore every possibility to get out from under a boss you don’t trust, short of leaving the company.
It’s not the moneyAccording to Branham, money rarely causes people to leave their jobs. Higher compensation is nice, but apparently it isn’t the key to employee retention.
But in my experience, the linkage in the other direction is strong: Employee retention—that is, staying longer at your job—leads to better future offers. So, aim to take full advantage of every position you accept during your career, especially the first. If you succeed, your paychecks will be consistently higher.
A writer and speaker on career issues worldwide, David Jensen is the founder of CareerTrax Inc. and managing director of Kincannon & Reed Global Executive Search.