Friday, April 21, 2017

Next, they will make Aadhaar mandatory to enter...

 

Saw this today.

 

 

 

 

 

Next, they will make Aadhaar card mandatory to enter the temple.

 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

In the long term, automation will kill more jobs

 

All the Indian IT companies are now focussing on automation, too much actually. More and more companies are quietly reducing their workforce - especially the lower rung - as many of the processes are getting automated.

For companies, the move is welcome as it saves them cost, while boosting efficiency at the same time. The automation of course has hit entry-level workforce the hardest, but it is not as if senior and middle rung employees are spared either. This is where senior employees take the hit. Many employees post 40 find themselves unemployable and have to be extremely good or equipped with a specific skill set to get a job. Otherwise, companies find it easier to hire three freshers for one tenth of the senior’s salary and willing to work 16 hours a day.

And the worst way countries have found to this problem is basic income. The cybernation revolution has been brought about by the combination of the computer and the automated self-regulating machine. This results in a system of almost unlimited productive capacity which requires progressively less human labor.

Alreay, 80% of engineers passing out of Indian colleges are unemployable. And IT has always been  the largest absobers of all those graduates.  Future engineers , and eveyone by extension, are going to hav to fight robots to keep their jobs. For once I feel mankind took a wrong turn on the ‘disruptive’ road, and future generations are going to pay the price.

 

 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Titanic continues to fascinate us

 

A hundred and five years ago, a mammoth shipped named the Titanic, struck an iceberg and sunk in the the middle of the Atlantic ocean. But even a century later, it continues to facscinate us. Albeit for different reasons. Today its aura is due to the 1997 blockbuster movie, which captured hearts and the box office. For me it is still hard to believe that this movie is twenty years old. First time watchers, even today, are sure to fall in love with the doomed couple and awe at the CGI in this movie. And don't forget the music !

Right up until its premiere on December 19, 1997, Titanic was expected to be the biggest disaster since the actual ship went down. (The CGI-laden movie, which was wildly over its original budget, got bumped from summer to winter.) Instead, the James Cameron film spent a ridiculous fifteen consecutive weeks at the top of the box-office charts, eventually blowing past Star Wars to become the highest-grossing release of all time, a record it held until Cameron’s Avatar displaced it twelve years later. Because of Titanic's unprecedented reach, its impact on popular culture was immediate and enduring. Not only did the film made household names of its young stars Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, it embraced marketing opportunities by packaging every possible aspect of the film for sale: the historical research, the legendary production process, the clothes, the jewelry, the music, the actors. And the film greatly benefitted from a new type of fan culture emerging on the Internet, one that allowed anybody, no matter how young or technology-challenged, to create a personal webpage documenting his or her obsession.

 

 

 

It is hard to believe that twenty years have nearly gone by since the release of James Cameron’s Titanic. The director already became famous by directing established low and high budget action films such as The Terminator and True Lies. But the Canadian had a keen interest in the famous oceanic tragedy that occurred in 1912 a couple of years before the creation process of the big blockbuster movie that cost in the region of $200,000,000 to develop.

The pre-release hype, at least in the UK, was quite minimal. But all that changed when the picture was unleashed!

Future movie stars Kate Winslet and Leonardo Dicaprio were still relatively unknowns. Winslet was born and bred in the UK in Reading. She had made a couple of British made movies but it wasn’t long before she was thrust into global stardom when she was elected to play Rose Dewitt Bukater, the troubled teenager who was engaged to be married to a millionaire, Cal Hockley who had a rather unsparing streak.

Dicaprio had previously got his taste for fame when he acted in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet, a modern day telling of the famous Shakespeare play where two star crossed lovers meet a tragic ending. His first movie was Critters 3, the second sequel in the monster furball horror franchise. Before Titanic, Dicaprio had a tendency to pick roles that depicted challenges in relationships and life itself. They may not be everybody’s cup of tea but the now 42 year old actor was certainly on the right path if he wanted to showcase genuine acting talent.

James Cameron showed his attribute for persistence when he pitched the idea of Titanic to 20th Century Fox. They originally requested Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt for the role of Jack Dawson since Dicaprio was still quite unknown and was possibly seen as a financial risk. However, the director held out and won over the studio. The actual pitch itself, in Cameron’s own words was, “Romeo and Juliet on a boat.” Understandably, again, Fox was pessimistic but they gave him the funds to dive to the actual wreckage in the North Atlantic Ocean and grab some footage. During this time, he wrote the script and impressed the studio so much with what he produced and captured that they were eventually persuaded!

The lavish first class dining room, the grand staircase, the cabins and more were all recreated with uttermost accuracy. Even compact items such as dinner plates and breakfast bowls contained the White Star Line logo’s, just like they did on the original ship now more than a century ago. Special water tanks were built to simulate the flooding and sinking of the ship that fictitiously took place during the second half of the movie.

However, the film did not just depend on special effects to impress. The story of two people from two different classes of life coming together not only provoked the audience into caring for them, it was also the key to make people feel sympathy for the rest of the passengers onboard when they eventually meet their doomed fates. But did Jack have to die at the conclusion? Cameron seems to be of the view that killing off one of the main characters is necessary for maximum emotional impact, as proven when he did so for The Terminator and even the ending of it’s sequel in the “chain of death” moment.

Gloria Stuart provided the occasional narration in telling of the events, both authentic to the actual disaster and also for some of the movie’s more imaginary moments. If the ill fated fling between Rose and Jack was to make people care, then perhaps older Rose was the second piece of the puzzle in finalising the process in informing viewers of some of the facts about the sinking. One particular moment would be immediately after Rose makes rescuers aware of her existence and the movie fades into the present with older Rose telling of how many people unfortunately perished and were recovered. A perfect but profound moment.

When the film was released, it can be recalled that it seemed as if the world had gone mad for a sinking ship! Copious amounts of memorabilia were released for retail. Some of the most corny pieces were school bags, stationery and costumes. Then there were your usual t-shirts, lobby cards and posters. Reports of people seeing the movie more than once on the same day were apparently reportedly substantiated. The Titanic marketing machine was certainly a force to be reckoned with! Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On was a chart success although time has not been too kind to it. Even Kate Winslet, herself, has stated that she dislikes the song, even going so far as to say that it makes her want to “throw up.”

There really was not another movie out there back in 1997 to compete with it although ones such as Men In Black and the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies were successful in their own right. Titanic was in a league all on it’s own!

Depending on one’s point of view, Titanic has unfortunately, and fortunately, gotten the reputation over the years as a “chick flick.” It has also been so successful that it seems that there are certain people that hate it for hate’s sake. Let’s get it right, though.The film is not perfect! James Cameron usually had the assistance of others writing scripts for his films but decided to pen Titanic all on his own. And the faults evidently show themselves, including the trite dialogue. Still, the man proved that he is not one dimensional and can take risks and venture into territory not previously experienced.

Behind the (necessary) romantic aspect was a look at the contrast of two social classes of people and the treatment they received. And were perceived. Rose was somebody who was trapped, and forcibly so by a domineering mother, in a situation that she was blatantly not happy with. So not happy that the thought of committing suicide by jumping off the Titanic almost became a reality! On the other end of the spectrum, 3rd class ticket holder Jack was a happy go lucky type of chap who always had to fight to make ends meet, but at the same time had a heart of gold that was eventually recognised by Rose, who could not care less for materialism. Only the genuine love of another soul.

The second half of Titanic is anything but a “chick flick,” although females were, and are, inevitably drawn by Rose and Jack’s affair and the boyish good looks of Leonardo Dicaprio.

What of the movie’s legacy 20 years on?

The film no doubt still, and always will, retain the tag of ‘classic.’ The epic also inspired many to take an interest in the case of the 105 year old sinking of the ship that was claimed by the media to be “unsinkable.” A number of documentaries about it are often seen screen on television, at least here in the UK, covering a wide range of angles and going so far as to offer up different conspiracies regarding what caused the ship to descend into the murky cold waters in the early hours of April 15th, 1912.

James Cameron, himself, was inspired by his own movie to eventually take a deep (pun intended) interest in deep sea diving. He managed to capture footage with 3D cameras when embarking on a record breaking expedition in 2012. The last film he directed was Avatar, released in 2009. Directing still does not seem to be at the top of his list of priorities as of writing in 2017, although Avatar sequels have been mentioned.

Titanic was also given the 3D treatment and was re-released in cinemas in 2012, getting a 3D Blu Ray release shortly afterward although it is debatable as to whether the effort to convert it was worth it. Nevertheless, the re-release managed to rake in nearly $58,000,000 extra, domestically, after spending $18,000,000 for the conversion. It has been reported that the re-release made over $2 billion worldwide!

There have been a fair number of parodies and jokes aimed toward the movie that have been made and seen over the years, mainly directed at the well known “flying scene” and Jack’s venerable “King of the World” line. But it is all in good fun and contributes toward the cultural impact that the film has and probably always will.

Titanic is a timeless piece that inserted itself into that special category that only belongs to a select other few. In terms of filmmaking, it is something other filmmakers can look upon and feel encouraged to make the effort to reach heights they never have before. And some of the movie going public will always look at the film with despair.

JANUARY

January 1: National Geographic releases a collector's edition of its 1986 “Secrets of the Titanic” special on VHS.

Leonardo DiCaprio appears on the covers of People magazine and Vanity Fair.


 

Kate Winslet, break-out star, does a whirlwind TV post-release press tour, appearing on The Rosie O'Donnell Show … and Access Hollywood  and Entertainment Tonight ... and Good Morning America … and Oprah. Meanwhile, Leo DiCaprio stopped by Entertainment Tonight.

January 10: Saturday Night Live runs a sketch about fifth-class black passengers trying to evacuate from the Titanic, starring Tracy Morgan and guest host Samuel L. Jackson.

January 16: Entertainment Weekly editor (and future top editor) Jess Cagle publishes an anti-Titanic piece called "When the Ship Hits the Fan: Why I Hate Titanic."

January 18: Kate and Leo go together as "buddies" to the Golden Globes, where each is nominated. Neither actor wins, but Titanic takes home four awards: Best Drama, Best Director, Best Original Score, and Best Song. While accepting the Best Drama award, James Cameron snidely quips: "Does this prove once and for all that size matters?"

January 26: Deja Vu releases its dance remake of “My Heart Will Go On.” The peppy track peaks at number 69 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart on May 30.

January 31: Twentieth Century Fox estimates that 7 percent of all U.S. teenage girls have seen the movie twice.

FEBRUARY

February 1: Newspaper comic "Fox Trot" begins a weeklong arc about the mother's obsession with Titanic.

February 6: EW runs a cover story called: ”Titanic: How It Will Change Hollywood.” The author's conclusion: "And there it is — what may be the biggest sea change of all in Titanic-shaken Hollywood: the ascendancy of a new post-ironic, neo-romantic era of mainstream, big-budget filmmaking. Or, if you prefer, the return of schmaltz."

February 13: Fox airs the hour-long promotional documentary Titanic: Breaking New Ground that reels in 7.7 million viewers on a Friday night opposite the Winter Olympics and new TGIF episodes of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and Teen Angel.

February 10: Titanic receives fourteen Oscar nominations, tying All About Eve (1950) for the record.

February 10: Curly-haired smooth jazz saxophonist Kenny G releases an instrumental version of "My Heart Will Go On" as a promotion CD single. The following year, it is nominated for a Grammy in the Best Pop Instrumental Performance category, losing to the Brian Setzer Orchestra song “Sleepwalk.” (Celine Dion won Record of the Year for her vocal version, edging out Brandy and Monica, the Goo Goo Dolls, Madonna, and Shania Twain.)

February 10: Thirteen-year-old Edith Hoag-Godsey launches her Tripod page "Titanic Rules." Her profile specifies that she has already seen the film six (”6!!!!!”) times.


 

February 12: Celine Dion’s "My Heart Will Go On" breaks the record for most radio plays in a single week, with 117 million plays.

February 14: The movie scores the highest Valentine's Day grosses of all time: $13,048,711.

February 17: A collection of 32 telegraph distress signals from the Titanic, including one that says "we have struck an ice berg," sells for $123,500 at a Christie's auction.

February 24: Titanic beats out Jurassic Park to become the all-time leader in worldwide theater revenue. The film pulled in a total of $920 million internationally in its first ten weeks.

MARCH

March 1: Winslet appears on the cover of Rolling Stone. The accompanying profile, in which Kate talks about getting her period on set ("If it suddenly looks like Jaws, it's my fault") and trading sex tips with DiCaprio, is described as "the last non-star interview she gives."

March 1: Kate and Leo are the "most-searched Oscar nominees on Lycos."

March 6: Following Leo's Oscar snub, more than 200 fans call and e-mail the Academy to demand a recount. ''The calls did not just come from teenagers," says the spokesperson. "One older woman called and said the whole state of Florida was upset."

DiCaprio has moved on to promoting Man in the Iron Mask, but he still only gets asked about Titanic – much to the amusement of co-stars Gabriel Byrne and GĂ©rard Depardieu.

March 8: Gloria Stuart wins Titanic's only SAG Award. (Winslet was also nominated.) In her acceptance speech, she says, "I've waited 60 years for a moment like this."

March 13: Celine Dion rides a boat on the cover of Entertainment Weekly and announces her plans to pursue an acting career. Also in this issue: the headline "Yoga Becomes the Latest Craze in Hollywood."

March 13: A British travel company called Wildwings announces that it is now booking Titanic-themed vacations, in which voyagers will travel 12,460 feet into the ocean in Mir submersibles to see the wreckage.

March 13: From a political humor page last updated on March 22, 1998:
Q: What is the difference between Clinton and the Titanic?
A: Only 200 women went down on the Titanic.

March 15: Nine books about the movie, the ship, or Leonardo DiCaprio make the top 25 best-selling books on the New York Times nonfiction list.

March 23: Titanic wins eleven of the fourteen Oscars for which it was nominated, tying Ben-Hur's record from 1960. The telecast is the most-watched ever, with 55 million viewers. At 3 hours and 47 minutes, it is also the longest. Some highlights:

March 23: Host Billy Crystal opens the ceremony on a Titanic set and sings about the film to the tune of the Gilligan's Island theme song.

James Cameron declares himself "king of the world" when he wins Best Director, endearing himself to nobody.

Madonna lauches a shot at the bow (at 2:35).

March 23: Accurately predicting Oscar night results, The New Yorker runs this cover.

March 26: Leo files a lawsuit against Playgirl for obtaining unauthorized nude photos of him. The magazine settles and the pictures are never published.

March 28: James Cameron attacks Titanic-hating L.A. Times critic Kenneth Turan in an editorial: "Nobody's interested in the vitriolic ravings of a bitter man who attacks and rips apart movies that the great majority of viewers find well worth their time and money."

APRIL

April 2: The J. Peterman Company, which is selling licensed Titanic film props and reproductions through its catalog, announces that they are back-ordered on their $198 Heart of the Ocean necklace. Meanwhile, Fox sues Ohio's Lindenwold Fine Jewelry, which has received "tens of thousands of orders" for a $19 knock-off called Jewel of the Sea.

April 4: Saturday Night Live turns the doomed boat into a chipper Disney character named Titey for an installment of "TV Funhouse."

April 4: Titanic ends its run at the top of the U.S. box office, after fifteen consecutive weeks at No. 1.

April 14: Celine Dion performs "My Heart Will Go On" at the inaugural VH1 Divas concert.

April 15: Thirteen-year-old Joey Russell makes national news when he sells his most valued possession, a 1912 postcard of the Titanic, to fund his friend's mother's cancer treatments.

An urban legend about a cursed mummy aboard the Titanic makes the e-mail rounds.

Apr 24: Tourists flood the removed Fairview Lawn Cemetary in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where 122 Titanic victims are buried. From an EW article: "Kayla MacLellan of Wellington, Nova Scotia, took her friends to Fairview for her Titanic-themed 11th-birthday party before they all headed to see the movie again. Two of the girls ran between the graves shouting, 'I'm the king of the world!'"

April 24: Leonardo DiCaprio is introduced on the cover of Entertainment Weekly as the leader of Hollywood's new "Frat Pack" (which includes Damon, Affleck, and … Van Der Beek).

Fundamentalist Christian group United Church of God includes an article called "Lessons from the Titanic" in its March/April newsletter. Excerpt: "This age is like the Titanic. We naively assume society to be unsinkable. Yet it is destined to go down. But we don't have to go down with it. By establishing a relationship with God and upholding the way of life He calls us to, we can locate a lifeboat."

MAY

May 11: DiCaprio is the cover boy for People's "50 Most Beautiful People in the World" list. Gloria Stuart also makes the list, and tells People that Hollywood beauty regimens have changed since the 1930s: "I don't even remember knowing about personal trainers. We played tennis on Sundays and went to Palm Springs and lay in the sun and swam."

May 15: Leo joins the grand Hollywood tradition and shoots a fifteen-second commercial in Japan for a $4 million payday.

J. Peterman releases its Spring/Summer catalog, offering reproductions of Titanic costumes like Rose's "jump dress" ($35,000, only one available) and the "heaven dress" from the last scene ($2,000, recommended for brides).

May 16: Conservative media group ChildCare Action Project declares that "there has not been a more subliminal, far-reaching theft of innocence of such scale and dimension in the history of childhood than Titanic!"

May 17: Titanic surpasses Star Wars to become the highest-grossing film ever, prompting George Lucas to take out a congratulatory full-page ad in Variety.

May 18: Opening of a People article: "Created at great expense and delivered with feverish hype, it may be the most remarkable thing ever to happen to romance. No, not Titanic; we're talking about Viagra, the sky-blue, diamond-shaped pill for men that treats sexual impotence."

May 21: Two feature-film Titanic parodies go into pre-production: Titanic Too — It Missed the Iceberg (set to star Leslie Nielsen) and Gigantic (about a ship that's two-and-a-half inches shorter than the Titanic). Both are dead in the water a few months later.

May 30: The MTV Movie Awards award Titanic Best Male Performance and Best Onscreen Duo, though it loses Best Kiss to The Wedding Singer. A highlight of the ceremony: Stiller and Vince Vaughn pitch a sequel to James Cameron.

May 31: Dave Barry publishes a humor piece containing the script to his own Titanic sequel.

JUNE–AUGUST

June 20: Ozzy Osbourne debuts his Ozzfest video intro, in which he pulls a Billy Crystal and gets swapped in for Kate Winslet via editing for the nude-portrait scene.

June 25: Dan Akroyd brags to People about his new film Pearl Harbor, saying, "It is going to be bigger than Titanic ... the biggest movie in the history of the film industry."

July 24: After nine rumored film leads (including American Psycho), DiCaprio announces that his next project will be Danny Boyle's The Beach. His salary, which was $2.5 million for Titanic, is now $21 million.

July 30: Leonardo DiCaprio pays a well-publicized visit to paralyzed teenage gymnast Sang Lang.

July 30: "Titanic: The Exhibition," featuring salvaged artifacts from the ship, debuts at Boston's World Trade Center.

August 16: The Family Channel premieres "Leo Mania," an hour-long documentary about DiCaprio's fan following.

Aug 21: Leslie Nielsen parodies the "King of the World" scene in the film Wrongfully Accused.

August 25: Back to Titanic, a sequel to the bestselling soundtrack album, is released. 

SEPTEMBER

September 1: The Titanic double-cassette VHS box set hits stores.

Blockbuster chains stay open until 2 a.m. in order to start selling at midnight. In Bay Ridge, a video store promotes the release with an 8-foot ice sculpture of the ship; in Dallas, stores offered a free rental to the customer who brought in the largest chunk of ice.

September 2: A Utah video store offers to cut the racy scenes from Titanic VHS tapes for $5. More than 50 customers take them up on it in the first day.

September 5: The Mariners' Museum in Virginia opens an expansion of its exhibit "Titanic: Fortune & Fate," which has been visited by 200,000 people since opening in January.

September 13: Katie Holmes shows off the trend in Titanic-inspired ladies' fashion with her cap-sleeved lace gown at the 1998 Emmys.

September 11: The Starr Report goes public, revealing that one of Monica Lewinksy's last gifts to Clinton was "a romantic note that she had written, inspired by a recent viewing of the movie Titanic. In the note, Ms. Lewinsky told the President that she wanted to have sexual intercourse with him, at least once."

OCTOBER–DECEMBER

October 30: Director Steve Oedekerk announces that filming is near completion on Thumbtanic, a Titanic parody in which all the characters are played by thumbs. (The 26-minute film doesn't see release until 2002.)

October: Galoob releases a limited-edition collector's doll of Rose DeWitt Bukater.

November 3: "James Cameron's Titanic Explorer," a three-disc CD-ROM reference guide to the ship's history, hits stores.

November 13: DiCaprio reportedly crashes Kate Winslet's wrap party for Quills, wearing a Dennis the Menace mask.

November: A series of Titanic trading cards is released in a limited-edition box shaped like a steamer trunk.

November 22: Celine Dion guest stars on the CBS drama Touched by an Angel.

December 6: The new Titanic Restaurant in London opens its doors for the Tatler magazine Christmas party.

The long-running Las Vegas burlesque show "Jubilee," which features a thirteen-minute dance sequence about the sinking of the Titanic, is now playing to capacity crowds.

December 28: People announces there are "more than 500 web pages" dedicated to DiCaprio. These are joined by the many sites with Titanic-inspired humor, poetry, fiction, passionate defenses, passionate takedowns, and art.

By the end of 1998, the name Rose has risen 100 spots on the Social Security Administration's list of most-popular baby names. Jack, Leo, and Kate also increase in popularity.

 

 

Ref

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Ways to secure your google account

 

Today I came across a post which explains all the different ways you can secure you all important Google account. The post describes three different ways, not including the two-factor authentication method which is now the most popular. Apparently, Google can use your fingerprint to secure your account.  

 

 

With the highest number of online accounts, google is now the target of choice for hackers. So it only makes sense to further secure your online account. It might turn out to be a little inconvenient, but at the end of the day, it will  be the account holders that are going to benefit the most from this.

 

 

Its been 20 years!

 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Kozhikode trip

 

Two weeks back we travelled to Kozhikode, to attend a wedding of a friend, and to catch up with others too. Kozhikode is a city in north Kerala, situated right on the west coast in Malabar. I was not looking forward to this trip, partially because I knew how the weather there would be like at this time of the year. But also because I have my own history with the place. The last time I was here was...what..11 years ago ? For my undergraduation I went to an aided college in this district, and had to travel frequently via private buses on this route. There was no direct bus to my college, I had to switch buses at Kozhikode private bus stand, with those half ring curves for its roof. While there, I have had snacks and tea between buses, and very rarely, lunch. And I hated college. Really hated. So when I finally I secured my degree and certificate , I had decided I will never have to come back to this place again.

image

Well after 11 years I can proudly say the city has not changed much at all. I remember the traffic was always this bad. Specially around the bus stand, those roads are the arteries of the city traffic. And the weather was always this hot. Being so close to the beach, the humidity is always high. The city has this strange habit of clinging on to its past, modernization comes so slowly. Even in this day and age, most of the establishments do not accept credit card or e-wallets for payment. Except only the high end ones. And people still stare at couples walking together in the big city.

And the hotels, they still cling on to their 12-pm-checkin time rule from last century. We had to pay extra on OYO to ensure we could check in at 7 in the morning. Maybe they take up the entire morning to clean up, thus mandating that checkins are only after 12 noon. But what about early morning travellers ?

It is a similiar irony at the city's most well known shopping mall, the 'Focus' mall. Surprisingly, this is just opposite the private bus stand I used to travel through as a student. There are a few other malls too, but this one seems to be the most well equipped. Puttakke puttakke karimeen puttakke. All the youngsters are there, and even a lot of families. Kozhikode has a majority muslim population, and they dress conservatively. I still cannot understand how they wear those long black burqas under such a blazing heat. So it was ironical that the branded readymade showrooms in the mall were advertizing and displaying a lot of western wear, things which no body in this city would dare to wear. All those shorts and tights and straps, anybody wearing these would turn heads of the 'traditional' population. Neverthless, people were still checking those clothes out.

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The autorikshaw drivers in the city maybe charge the lowest fares in the country. I hope that stays like that for a long long time. We travelled 8 times in autos and paid a total of only 200 rupees ! We would have had to pay about 500 had it been in Bangalore. There is really no need to own a car here, these autos are dependable enough to get around , and they know every nook and cranny and all the secret roads of the city, some I could not even find on google maps !

As always, the city still serves up the best food. Wether it is vegetarian fare, or their cuisines borrowed from Arabia, or their famous biriyanis, the food is lip smacking ! Do visit on an empty stomach. Also one has to visit those famous halwa stands to sample all those colorful halwas, now available in modern flavors of mango and grape !

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And another thing which is thankfully still the same, is the cleanliness. It is still the cleanest cities I have visited in my country. Even the beach area is clean and well maintained. The rest of this country and learn something from it.

 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A series of flops

 

Rangoon

Rangoon revolves around Rusi Billimoria (Saif Ali Khan), Miss Julia (Kangana Ranaut) and Jamadar Nawab Malik (Shahid Kapoor). The film is set in the era of World War II. Contrary to all the hype created for the film, Rangoon soon ran out of the fizz and failed to make a mark. The film was made on a budget of INR 80 crore and satellite, digital and music rights were sold in INR 15 crore. So, to break even, the film had to earn INR 65 crore. But, the film could only manage to collect INR 21.57 crore at the box office. And hence, Rangoon turned out to be a huge debacle at the box office.

Ok Jaanu

Produced jointly by Karan Johar and Mani Ratnam, Ok Jaanu is the remake of successful Tamil film from 2015, Ok Kanmani. Ok Jaanu stars the Aashiqui 2 stars Aditya Roy Kapur and Shraddha Kapoor in the lead roles. Made with a budget of INR 28 crore, Ok Jaanu couldn't even manage to earn to recover the cost of production. It collected INR 23.64 crore and hence comes in this category.

Running Shaadi

Adding to the list, next up is Taapsee Pannu and Amit Sadhs's Running Shaadi. It is a romantic comedy and revolves around three character who start a new website called Running Shaadi which helps couples in Amritsar elope with their lovers. Well, the film itself had to elope from the race of becoming an earner at the ticket windows. The film could only earn INR 50 lacs at the box office, but was expected to rake in around INR 3 crore.

Trapped

Directed by Vikramaditya Motwane, Trapped is about a guy who gets locked in his own apartment and the whole story revolves around his tactics of survival and how he manages to make his way out. Ever after Rajkummar Rao's brilliant performance couldn't attract the audience to come to the theatres. Trapped is made on a very low budget of less than INR 10 crore,  but would still struggling to recover that money. The film earned only INR 2.59 crore.

Aa Gaya Hero

Govinda's comeback Aa Gaya Hero had to return to the pavilion before even making a 10 runs on the field. The film was made on a budget of INR 8 crore, but could only earn INR 1.30 crore at the box office.

Machine

Directed by Abbas Mustan, Machine features Kiara Advani, Carla Dennis, Eshaan Shankar & Mustafa in lead roles. The film couldn't make a mark and even viewers weren't interested watching the film. Made on a budget INR 25 crore, the film could only earn INR 3.12 crore at the box office.

Anaarkali Of Aarah

Swara Bhaskar's Anaarkali Of Aarah was in news ever since it was announced. It made headlines for its tussle with CBFC and how the film's scenes got leaked online, But, none of these factors really helped the movie mint money and it ran out of steam as soon as it released. The film was made on a budget of around INR 5 crore and it collected only INR 0.80 crore at the ticket windows.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Computer programmers may no longer be eligible for H-1B visas

 

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services quietly over the weekend released new guidance that computer programmers are no longer presumed to be eligible for H-1B visas.

What it means: This aligns with the administration's focus on reserving the temporary visas for very high-skilled (and higher-paid) professionals while encouraging low- and mid-level jobs to go to American workers instead. The new guidance affects applications for the lottery for 2018 fiscal year that opened Monday.

What comes next: Companies applying for H-1B visas for computer programming positions will have to submit additional evidence showing that the jobs are complex or specialized and require professional degrees. Entry-level wages attached to these visa applications will also get more scrutiny. The change appears to target outsourcing companies, who typically employ lower-paid, lower-level computer workers.

Lawsuits possible: Releasing this policy change at the start of the application filing window is going to rankle companies who used 17-year-old policy guidance to apply for this year's visas. Some companies may challenge the guidance on the grounds that USCIS didn't provide sufficient notice of the change.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Javascript sucks. So does multi-monitors

 

It was nice reading two different articles, about two topics, where the author had a viewpoint similiar to mine. One was about the javascript hype, or javascript psychosis. I have never understood the hype and attention which javascript has been getting these past few years. There is a overload of frameworks and libraries, and even companies like Oracle rushed to join the bandwagong by releasing their own javascript framework.

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Check out a related video.

 

The other link I came across was this, where the author makes a clear stance for single monitor setups. Over the years, I have seen people (mostly on TV, but also IRL) looking at multiple monitor screens for their design/programming/hacking work.  They think they are multi tasking. But I am not one. I am an efficient single tasker. A single monitor to look at helps me maintain focus. And attention.  And a huge part of day to day work involves deep work, where I have to spend multiple hours looking at a single file. Specially helps when I have move my latop between rooms.

Monday, March 27, 2017

HCL wants to create its own zombie engineers

 

I was shocked to read this , HCL is going to train high school graduates into low paying programmer jobs, and these people will never be able to leave their company, because they do not have an engineering degree.

Also they salary the new high schoolers will start with, will be lesser than what entree level engineers currently earn at HCL.

 

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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Too many wallets, not enough money.

 

The problem is cost

Looks like latest technology  startups are interested in are online money-wallets. You know, the system which allows you to keep some money in an online account, and use it for online payments. I guess, they identified something banks were totally unaware of , and built up a system to fill that up. But then, other startups too woke up, and started copying each other.  I only realized how crazy it had gotten when today I was trying to make an online payment, and got this screen.

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Thats 10 different wallets !  Some I had not even heard of. So I got curious and searched for ALL the online wallet systems available in India. And I got this:

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Yup. There are a lot of them. Even some mobile network companies (Airtel,Jio) have joined the race. Some banks have also released their apps. But I am not sure if they are solving the existign problems, or adding to users’ woes.

There has to now be some sort of regulation for these wallet guys. For one, there is now way to transfer money between these wallets, without first transferring to a bank. And some of them charge for those transfers. More on that later.

Second, money in the wallets do not accrue interest, like it does in your bank. That is one advantage the bank apps have.

Third, I am sure all these apps have security problems, specially on their andriod versions. Its only a matter of time before some or all of them get hacked. And the lack of IT security laws in this country means there is no proper protection to the end users.

And fourth, the ultimate problem is cost. These are all private players (except SBI). And they need to make their own profit. Which means sooner or later, they are gonna have to charge the customers for their service. What some online sites call “convenience charge”. Being in the IT business, guys like me know there are huge mulitlayered systems which power these online behemoths.  Even if they use open source, they will still need skilled programmers and support guys to power their frameworks. And all these are going to cost.

This is one advantage traditional cash transactions still have. There are no hidden charges. Unless they figure out a way to charge nominal to the customers, most of these apps are not going to survive.

 

 

 

PS: By they way, I have a PayTM account, the only wallet I used. Because they accept these at my company cafetaria.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Jio still wins

So I was looking at the knee jerk reaction plans from Airtel , Vodafone and others , to Jio’s new paid plans. By subscribing to Jio Prime, existing Jio 4G users get 1GB per day for the next 12 months, and all they have to pay is Rs 303. Those who aren’t part of the Jio family and are keen on joining them post 1 April, can get plans that offer as much as 2.5GB for a month at Rs 303.

 

Airtel feels that a Rs 345 plan, which offers 28GB 4G data per month, will satisfy its existing users. They have launched plans priced at Rs 345 and Rs 549, offering 28GB free data for the month

 

Vodafone is offering a Rs 346 prepaid plan for its users in select circles, which is why it is hard to locate the plan on the company’s website and mobile app.

 

 

Going by the numbers and benefits on offer, Jio Prime trumps both Airtel and Vodafone. Jio is giving free voice calls, no roaming and up to 56GB of data every month till March 2018.

Airtel and Vodafone are trying their best with a new set of plans to compete with Reliance Jio, but are still lagging behind. Also, the lack of clarification as to how Airtel and Vodafone will offer their packs, leaves customers in a fix.

 

I guess the writing on the wall is clear, Jio’s clearly defined plans will work out cheaper to the average subscriber.

 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Uber and Ola problem

 

In case you didn’t know, the Ola drivers are going on strike. Again. All over the country. And I guess rest of the world too, for Uber. What the strikers do not know, however, is that these companies are doomed. Their business models (if they still have one) is unsustainable , specially at such large numbers, and with costs going up everyday, they will have to price their services realistically. At which point, its game over.

Their strike might explain why I found the roads a little less jammed these past two weeks. It was relatively easier to drive around the city, even in areas usually congested. Never realized that these private cabs were causing a buildup of everyday traffic. So in a way, its good. More people should start using public transport like buses and trains.

Now I am not a fan of these new shared economy aggregators. Till date, I might have used Ola about 7 times. And that was always when we were travelling in a group, of more than 2 people. Even at the surge priced charges, I found it value for money, because the cost of the air conditioned BMTC buses in Bangalore is through the roof. And the actual driving in the city is a nightmare, better leave to someone else.  They do solve a problem, the ease at which you can get a cab booked from your vicinity. The ability to pay cashless. But they can’t actually make money. People are going to use these services only if they are affordable. Before Ola and Uber, when was the last time you hailed a sedan cab in India ? The three wheeled auto-rickshaw is the go to transportation of choice. Hiring a full taxi was only when you travelled for your company, in which case you can get it reimbursed anyway. Nobody hailed a taxi for day to day journeys.

Now the cab drivers now striking are demanding better incentives, and insurance and things like that. All of which will cost the company more. These are the very same drivers who once scammed their company out of crores. And there were those incidents of sexual assault on women too. Now that the tables are turned, they have resorted to protest.

But fact is that a more traditional model of aggrgating and pricing still works today. I was delighted to read that Meru cabs of radio taxis still operate without any problems. Meru is one of the first radio taxis in the city, and along with Fastrack, the only options till a few years back. But in their case, they own their vehicles, taking the burden of maintaining the vechicles off their drivers. That model still works. I guess Uber and Ola will have to explore something like this.

The only good thing which they introduced was their cab sharing system, where you share a cab with other riders travelling in the same direction. That has to be incentiviced. The government has to encourage ride sharing, and promote better public transport system. And a better city planning. Ultimately, the city has to be built for people, not cars.

 

Monday, February 27, 2017

Bill Paxton, Renaissance Man

 

This is how I will remember the late Bill Paxton. As the renaiisance man from Apollo 13.

 

 

fred

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You know time is flying when your favorite actors from your childhod leave you.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

India’s obsession with crimes committed by software engineers

 

A long overdue and awesome article has come up on Bloomberg. About the media craze behind ‘techie’ crimes in India. Specially, in Bangalore. It also hints to the kind of resentment the locals have towards ‘techie’ outsiders

 

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Prachi Das was murdered on a Monday. The killer, a friend of her husband’s named Basudev Jena, showed up at her apartment in Bangalore on March 2, 2015, in hopes she would help him with his debts. Jena hadn’t meant to hurt Das, he later told the police, but he lost his temper when she refused to lend him money. He tried to tear away her necklace, and when Das screamed he cut her throat. The landlady stopped him in the hallway as he tried to flee, his shirt stained with blood.

In India, print newspapers thrive as if it were 1995. They’re numerous and energetic, and they rush to the scene of a good story. Das’s murder was a sensation, and each publication did what it could to distinguish its coverage. The Indian Express dwelt on the meaning of a carton of ice cream found melting near her body, and the Times of India floated an alternate theory of the crime, speculating that Das had screamed because she saw a rat, leading Jena to panic. But all the papers agreed on the overriding importance of a single, seemingly inconsequential detail: Both Jena and Das’s husband were software engineers. Or, as the profession is known in India, they were techies.

“TECHIE’S WIFE MURDERED” read the headlines in both the Hindu and the Bangalore Mirror. “TECHIE STABS FRIEND’S WIFE TO DEATH” ran in the Deccan Herald. To read the Indian newspapers regularly is to believe the software engineer is the country’s most cursed figure. Almost every edition carries a gruesome story involving a techie accused of homicide, rape, burglary, blackmail, assault, injury, suicide, or another crime. When techies are the victims, it’s just as newsworthy. The Times of India, the country’s largest English-language paper, has carried “TECHIE DIES IN FREAK ACCIDENT” and “MAN HELD FOR PUSHING TECHIE FROM TRAIN”; in the Hindu, readers found “TEACHER CHOPS OFF FINGERS OF TECHIE HUSBAND” and “TECHIE DIED AFTER BEING FORCE-FED CYANIDE.” A long-standing journalistic adage says, “If it bleeds, it leads.” In India, if it codes, it explodes.

The epicenter of techie tragedy is Bangalore, a city in the southern state of Karnataka that bills itself as India’s Silicon Valley. Bangalore has more startups than any other city in the country and is home to Apple, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, and Oracle, in addition to big domestic information technology companies such as Infosys and Wipro. More than 10 percent of Bangalore’s 10.5 million residents work in tech, giving journalists plenty of unfortunate events to sensationalize: “ASSAULT OVER BANANA SPLIT: 3 TECHIES HELD”; “DEPRESSED BANGALORE TECHIE INJURES 24 IN SWORD ATTACK SPREE.”

The resentment implicit in techie headlines occasionally spills over into actual violence

When I visited the city in September, the Bangaloreans I met fondly recounted their favorite techie stories from the local press. One involved a couple whose nanny secretly rented out their baby to street beggars. Another featured a software engineer who pretended to be an astrologer to trick his wife into confessing infidelity, then bludgeoned her to death with a religious idol and, for good measure, called in bomb threats to the airport pretending to be the husband of an ex-girlfriend with whom he hoped to get back together.

Reddit users recently observed that the “Indian techie” has become like the “Florida man” meme in America: an archetype of incompetent criminality and hapless violence. But in India, the techie is also celebrated as a symbol of the country’s ascendancy in the global economy. “In a society where there are no heroes, techies are the only heroes,” said Mohandas Pai, a venture capitalist, in his corner office on the top floor of a building near Bangalore’s central park. “A techie is a person you look up to with great respect,” he said, adding that the media’s sordid stories “are just sensationalizing.”

Even if that’s true, the coverage resonates with readers. The resentment implicit in techie headlines occasionally spills over into actual violence. On Sept. 12, riots broke out across Bangalore after a court ordered Karnataka to share water with a neighboring state. Thirsty mobs targeted the well-kept Oracle office, which had to be evacuated, as well as eight Infosys employee buses, whose passengers were forced to walk home under a hail of stones.

Technology was supposed to deliver India from poverty, but in Bangalore it’s also deepened the division between rich and poor, young and old, modern and traditional. As the city has grown richer, it’s also become unruly and unfamiliar. If the tech worker is the star of the Indian economy, then the techie is his shadow—spoiled, untrustworthy, adulterous, depressed, and sometimes just plain senseless. (“TECHIE WITH EARPHONES RUN OVER BY TRAIN.”) In one occupational boogeyman, Bangaloreans can see their future and their fears.

Hundred Feet Road runs through Indiranagar, a once-quiet neighborhood that’s now the center of the Bangalore tech scene. It feels as if someone diverted a highway through a shopping mall. Shops and restaurants crowd the sidewalks like spectators at a parade, and rooftop pubs crank their music to drown the clamor from the street. People complain that Bangalore’s traffic is the worst in India, and the eight lanes of Hundred Feet Road often come to a standstill as drivers, trying to get somewhere as quickly as possible, make it impossible for anyone to get anywhere at all. Only the cows, headed nowhere, enjoy the right of way.

Across from an Adidas shop, Chiranjiv Singh, the former development commissioner of Karnataka state, lives in a small but verdant plot—a sliver of the wilderness he found when he moved there 40 years ago. The land was a coconut grove then, and a few tall trees still lend his home their shade. The birds and monkeys have stopped visiting, though, and Singh, a soft-spoken Sikh with a long and coarse beard, expects he will leave soon, too: “I don’t know how long we can continue here because of all this noise.”

Bangalore gridlock: Natives bitterly complain about the role of techies in crippling the city’s infrastructure.

Photograph: Kuni Takahashi/The New York Times via Redux

Bangalore used to be known as the Garden City. It was a medium-size, middle-class metropolis in one of the few areas of India that didn’t broil in summertime. Colonial bungalows nestled among flower beds, old trees, and pristine lakes. “I have discussed the subject of Bangalore with persons in other parts of India and have found that 90 out of a hundred dream of settling down in Bangalore, after retirement,” the novelist R.K. Narayan wrote in 1977. Another nickname for the city was the Pensioner’s Paradise.

Bangalore’s makeover began in the 1980s. Previously a center of textiles, aerospace, and electronics, the city became an outsourcing hub as undersea fiber-optic cables made it possible for U.S. and European corporations to offshore IT work. Texas Instruments opened a software-design center there in 1985; Infosys, an omnibus software and services provider, went public in 1993; and three years later a local coder invented Hotmail. By the turn of the century, Bangalore had established a reputation for coding quality software at low cost, and corporations hired the city’s engineers en masse to guard their systems against the Y2K bug. Bangalore inspired Thomas Friedman’s 2005 best-seller on globalization, The World Is Flat.

From 1981 to 2001, Bangalore doubled its population, to 5.7 million. The invaders had a name. “We had a new occupational category emerge: the IT engineer,” said Balaji Parthasarathy, a professor at the International Institute of Information Technology in Bangalore. IT engineers brought a lot of benefits. Real income grew much faster in Bangalore than in other parts of India, and the city became the country’s main link to the economies of the West. “We have more connections with Silicon Valley than with Delhi,” said Pai. “Bangalore is India’s only global city.”

But the IT engineers lived differently from the pensioners and other longtime residents. They spoke English, not the native Kannada, and lived in gated condominium towers with pools and fitness clubs rather than in traditional bungalows. They worked in amenity-rich office parks, shopped in designer malls, ate at Western chain restaurants, and socialized in posh microbreweries. And their strange habits were chronicled by the booming local press.

The word “techie” first appeared in newspaper headlines in the 1990s simply because it was shorter than “software engineer.” Readers loved the stories, and editors soon went out of their way to assign them. “The news value of anything to do with a techie seems to be more,” said B. Pradeep Nair, the news editor of the Hindu, in his office, as that day’s edition was being put to bed. Media consultant Imran Qureshi recalled a story he covered 15 years ago about a married couple in Chennai who were producing child pornography. That in itself wasn’t scandalous enough to make the story a sensation. “It became a headline story because the man happened to be an IT professional,” Qureshi said.

Today, Indian journalists apply the word “techie” to anyone remotely connected to the IT industry. Some headlines imply that techies are more important than other people, such as “TECHIE AMONG THREE BURNT ALIVE IN GARUDA BUS MISHAP.” Other stories tell of incidents so minor they seem to exist only so the journalist can use the word. The Herald recently reported on a techie who had stepped on a “brittle footpath slab” and suffered “swelling in his leg.”

The close scrutiny makes the techie seem alien, like a strange specimen in a cage. “When we use ‘techie,’ it is a bit of a local-vs.-outsider thing,” said Ravi Joshi, editor of the Bangalore Mirror, in his newsroom. “It is basically the profession that does not belong here.”

One afternoon in Bangalore, my Uber driver, Chethan J., invited me to join him in the front seat of the car. (Many Indians use a single name, or mononym, sometimes with an initial.) We were in the center lane of one of the city’s busiest roads, which meant, of course, that we weren’t moving. Chethan is 22, with thick black hair and a mustache grown long at the tips. Thinking to myself, When in Bangalore, do as Thomas Friedman does, I asked him for a driver’s-eye view of tech workers. Chethan’s mood darkened. “They are coming and destroying our culture,” he said. Industry boosters are fond of saying that each tech job creates anywhere from 3 to 10 support jobs in the city, but Chethan had no affection for the engineers he ferried around all day. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics and joined Uber only when he couldn’t find a better-paying job. “The locals are servants,” he said. “All of Bangalore is going bad.”

The tech boom that was supposed to profit the city has made daily life harder. Bangalore’s population has doubled again since 2000, buckling the local infrastructure. There are more than 6 million vehicles, and the average driving speed in the city center is below 6 miles per hour, meaning it would be faster for everyone to jog slowly than to drive. During the initial IT boom, the portion of Bangalore’s population living in slums doubled. Blackouts became daily occurrences, and road-widening projects destroyed parks and trees without decongesting the streets. Money flooded in, but the lakes dried up—of the 900 the city once counted, fewer than 200 are still considered “live,” and most of those are filled with sewage. In October, thousands protested in the streets over plans to build a multibillion-dollar elevated bypass connecting the Bangalore airport to the city center. Demonstrators argued the project would benefit the jet-setting elite but do little to help poorer residents who spend hours every day in gridlock.

“They’re always before the system. It makes them behave like a beast, almost”

Frustration was palpable all over Bangalore. A kindly older man named Vijay Thiruvady, who leads tours of the botanical gardens and Cubbon Park, the city’s largest remaining green spaces, rued the failure of the IT industry and government to coordinate the growth. “The tech boom has completely changed the city. They’ve ruined it,” he said, as we sat in yet another traffic jam. “I’m going to use a strong term,” he warned, before cursing another motorist as “a stupid fellow.” Then he resumed grousing about techies.

“With the coming of the techies, you can see the traffic, you can see the road rage, you can see the problems with infrastructure, you can see trees being cut everywhere,” said Narayanan Krishnaswami, a reporter with the Times of India. “For a lot of people, that is a repudiation of what the city used to be. And they trace it back to the cause of the prosperity, which is the tech sector.”

One of the main appeals of the newspapers’ techie coverage is schadenfreude. “When a techie falls, everyone is secretly happy,” said Joshi, the Mirror editor. Techies arriving from across India are assumed to be more interested in the Western lifestyles of the modern workplace than the local culture of their new city. They tend to live away from their parents, drink alcohol, spend money freely, travel abroad, keep strange hours (because they work on the schedules of U.S. and European clients), and choose “love marriages” over traditional arranged ones.

Someone who suspects tech workers of immorality would find plenty of grist in the newspapers, where techies are frequently killing their spouses and having affairs. Such stories sometimes implicate the victim in his fate. An article might note, for example, that the parents of a woman whose techie husband killed her had disapproved of the marriage, or that a techie killed himself after a “trivial” argument with his wife.

Taken together, the stories can read like morality plays. They assuage a reader’s envy by suggesting that a tech worker’s material wealth conceals a deeper poverty. “If a techie can commit suicide or kill his own wife,” said Sahana Udupa, a social anthropologist who previously worked as a journalist in Bangalore, “it says something about the stress, something about the depression, something about their loose morals.”

I thought it unlikely that tech workers were genuinely troublesome, so I visited the Bangalore police headquarters to ask for an official perspective. Bureaucracies in India like to unfurl themselves before visitors, and the police commissioner on the first floor referred me to an additional police commissioner down the hall, who referred me to a deputy police commissioner on the fifth floor, who was so thrilled by my visit that he paused our interview midway to take my photo with his phone. His name was M.G. Nagendra Kumar, and a few years earlier he had studied crimes involving software engineers. He concluded that the techie “lacked the general thinking of other common people,” he told me. “His mind works like a computer machine.”

Kumar said the techie’s long hours in front of a PC could make him dangerously impatient: “He wants life to go at internet speed.” At a busy intersection, a techie wouldn’t wait for the signal. “Only techies are the deceased in road accident cases,” Kumar said. And at home, a techie might grow angry and violent with a wife or family member who didn’t follow commands automatically like his computer. At this point, a police inspector named Kanakalakshmi (also a mononym), who’d been sitting quietly beside me in Kumar’s office, spoke up. “They’re always before the system,” she said. “It makes them behave like a beast, almost.”

India’s largest IT companies, including Wipro, draw young workers whose ways are often at odds with local tradition.

Photographer: Altaf Qadri/AP

Kanakalakshmi produced two spreadsheets. The first listed 139 cases since 2010 in which a software engineer had been accused of a crime; the second listed 297 cases, excluding petty thefts, in which a software engineer had filed a complaint. Neither sum really suggested a crime wave in a city with more than 1 million tech workers, and it was hard to make sense of the statistics. The translation from Kannada to English had rendered many case descriptions unintelligible, and the spreadsheets seemed to exclude certain cases I’d read about in the papers while listing others twice.

It was nevertheless interesting that the most common complaint by far was a spouse alleging mental and physical harassment (in some cases, the police use the word “torture”), often in connection to a dowry dispute. The clash between the traditional expectations of Indian culture and the demands of modern professional lives doesn’t only shape the relationship between techies and the rest of the city, it also plays out in tech workers’ private lives. “Social liberalization hasn’t kept pace with economic liberalization,” said Asha Rai, a senior editor at the Times of India. “The values they imbibe at the workplace and when they travel are in conflict when they come home.”

I wasn’t attacked by sword, pushed from a train, force-fed cyanide, tortured, or otherwise harmed by any of the techies I met in Bangalore. I was introduced to coders, startup founders, investors, and engineers, including a group that was building a moon lander for Google’s Lunar X Prize competition. A robotics specialist from IBM named Aswin Subramanian gave me a tour of Whitefield, a tech district, in his race car and then invited me to his home, where he played Yanni songs on a keyboard. (OK, perhaps there was some torture.)

Techies in Bangalore extol a strain of utopianism similar to that found in Silicon Valley. “Eventually everything will be solved by tech,” said Mukund Jha, the co-founder of Dunzo, a concierge app that lets users hire a runner to carry out almost any task for a few dozen rupees—less than a dollar. At the moment, a Dunzo runner was fetching him a coffee from Starbucks; he’d also used the service to repair the cracked screen of his iPhone and install pigeon nets on his balcony at home. Customers have used Dunzo to retrieve lost phone chargers, deliver birthday cakes, purchase toilet paper, and check whether a shop is open. “Once you get started, you get hooked to it,” Jha said. “On a good day, you can get anything you want within 10 minutes.”

Dunzo is incredibly useful in a city where completing simple tasks grows harder by the day. But the app also indicates how technology further cocoons the privileged from the rest of the city. Dunzo’s founders say they hope their app will trickle down to the masses, but they’ve targeted early builds at the elite. “We haven’t seen a single request which is non-English,” Jha said.

Although tech has offered millions of young Indians a ladder out of poverty, there’s also concern that it will soon eliminate jobs instead of creating them. At IBM, Subramanian was designing robots for use in automation. (He recently left the company.) Dunzo is working to build artificial intelligence that would eventually replace much of its operations staff. Wipro and Infosys, the IT companies that most symbolize Bangalore’s tech industry, replaced 8,200 human jobs last summer with software. Tej Pochiraju, the managing director of Jaaga Startup, which bills itself as India’s first co-working space, said the divide between engineers and laymen would only accelerate. “As things get more and more automated, technology and techies will become more godlike,” he said.

In a New Year’s letter to his employees, Infosys Chief Executive Officer Vishal Sikka wrote of “the tidal wave of automation and technology-fueled transformation that is almost upon us”—a choice of words that sounded more apocalyptic than utopian. A few weeks later a techie was murdered by a security guard on Infosys’s campus in Pune, about 500 miles northwest of Bangalore. The Hindustan Times warned about “a growing list of IT workers kidnapped, molested, raped, or killed on campus.” Although unrelated, Sikka’s letter and the crime coverage shared a certain anxiety: Tech could guarantee neither job security nor personal safety. The techie, the hero of the Indian economy, would never be as safe as he seemed.