Notes to self

Not gold alone brought us hither

Jul 7, 2010

Aching bones

Last evening, I was scheduled to run for 30 minutes. I hit the gym to do my bit, and started off on the treadmill, with the timer set to 30 minutes. Due to popularity of the treadmills and at the same time, lack of a good number (there are only 3 at the gym), the use of this machine is restricted to 20 mintunes at a time. I did not want to raise eyebrows by violating that rule, and therefore, I got off the machine at 20 minutes and started running out of the gym and hit the road. Finished the remaining 10 minutes on the road (around the block in the neighborhood) and this was like a test for the days to come. I felt good running on the road after a long time. And, as noted by Tim in Lore of Running, I had not forgotten running. My body took it very well.

Starting today, I have switched to the morning routine as planned, and today walked 45 minutes in the neighborhood. Now, during the day, I can feel a bit of soreness all over my body and it feels good.

I have also thrown in some stretching at the end of my run, and that seems to help. Overall, this first week of daily activity is going to take its toll but I am happy this is the begining of a journey that I hope to be very enjoyable very soon.

Jul 6, 2010

Started on new plan

Yesterday evening, I started on the new plan. It was a walk day, and I went out for a 45 mintute walk. I have to admit, the experience was not that great. Pollution was severe, even with low traffic due to all India bandh, and I can only image how bad the pollution will be on a normal work day.

I have two options: 1. stick to indoor activities in the gym, or 2. pick a time and route with least pollution. For now, I am going to pick 2. Though its well known that mornings are the least favorable time for workouts, because of the body’s lack of readiness for activity, I am going to have to pick that time for my daily walks and runs. And the route… I am going to make circles around the big block in my neighbourhood and avoid taking yesterday’s route near the main road. Having to do multiple circles around he block is going to be a bit monotonous but I prefer that over breathing in smoke and dust.

Overall the 45 minute walk was energizing (in spite of the above) and am looking forward to my run today evening in the gym and then starting tomorrow, the mornings will be the time for my runs and walks.

Jun 5, 2010

Lore of running

Tim Noakes’ Lore of Running is turning out to be a very good read. Tim’s narrative is convincing and it would be a waste to not follow his advice on running, at least as a beginner. After running on and off during the last decade, I am now ready to take running seriously.

First off, I now have a plan in place. So far, I have chalked out some outlines of the plan. For starters, its going to be a one year plan. This is a good enough horizon that is not too far off in the future and at the same time, provides enough time to produce tangible results. So, in the next one year, I will be working out for 10 solid months and then take a 2 month break, which Tim says is essential for a serious runner who wants to continue to run for many years and decades.

Breaking that down further, I also have a plan for this month. Its a run a day / walk a day, covering 6 days a week. This is designed to just form a habit of getting out of the door and working out for half an hour or more. Its simple: run 30 minutes a day and walk 45 minutes the next day. Repeat from Monday through Saturday, and rest on Sunday.

This phase (I call it Phase 1) will last for 2 months, and the regimen for month 2 (i.e. August) will probably vary only a little from what I have planned for this month. The idea is to just incorporate my learning from this month into the next, without altering the goal of this phase, which is, get into a habit of exercising. Though I have not set foot on the road with this new plan, I am already feeling positive and the chances of success seem to be high because this plan is not overly ambitious or unrealistic.

And while I plan and implement this one year fitness plan, I expect to get better at planning itself. Thats two birds with one stone.

Jan 21, 2010

The aftermath

Ian Taylor notes in his blog post about the rise of Cargo Cult Programming:

In today’s increasingly complex world of programming, when so much code involves integrating libraries in various ways, I expect that cargo cult programming is on the rise.

He is talking in context of developing open source software, but this applies to proprietary software development as well. In a commercial software development enterprise, cargo cult is less likely to be noticed or pointed out because peer review is no longer deemed necessary as there is so much to do with so few people to go around. Its easier to just turn a blind eye.

One of the many possible reasons, at least in corporations, can be the increasing pressure to deliver by an arbitrary deadline set by someone who does not really understand the work involved. In such situations, developers confront a couple of options when faced with a seemingly impossible goal:

Reason with the management to help them see why a deadline will be missed; or Go ahead and put together software that will be accepted by customer, with little concern for the day after; or Create a culture and a team that can deliver good software which meets aggressive schedule. Every team strives (even if pretends) to reach here. Afraid of trying (or after trying) option 1, developers take the easy route with option 2. They cut corners, copy/paste code, and do anything that needs to be done — in order to meet a deadline. And then they deliver. Everybody is happy, and life goes on. The feature is accepted and deployed.

The aftermath will be dealt with by technical support. What are they paid for, after all?

Apr 11, 2009

My little world

I love living in my own little world, which is made up of my little computer (Acer Aspire One) and allows me to go find refuge in a different world for whatever time I can spare every day. Its not just about the form factor of this little machine — which is impressive, by the way — but its more of what’s on this machine.

If you are not familiar with this little laptop, which is categorized as a netbook in general computer parlance, it is a 8.9″ screen portable computer that runs on Intel’s Atom (dual core) processor and has 1G RAM, 160G HDD and all the fixtures you may expect in a laptop sans CD ROM drive. On this little marvel, I run my favourite applications like:

  • Firefox (My favorite browser)
  • gVim (My favorite text editor)
  • TweetDeck (My favourite twitter client)
  • BlogDesk (My favorite blogging software)
  • Thunderbird (My favorite email client)
  • Adobe Reader (This is all you need to read most ebooks)

Everytime I have some time, all I need is my wifi to be switched on, and I am happy to just watch time pass by while I read/surf/blog/tweet/watch things that I like.

All I can say is I am happy to be living in this day and age of the internet. Life would be very different if we did not have all of the above, to take me to the world of my own, where I live happily as long as I need to.

And when I still have time, I love going out for a run. There are days when I am able to do both, and thats when it feels like nothing can go wrong. Not often, but there are days like that. Today was one of those days.

Feb 16, 2009

LTE – Start imagining the consequences of 100 MBps

LTE (Long Term Evolution), the most popular pet project from 3GPP promises to deliver data speeds upto 100 MBps. And this is in not-so-distant future even by the standards of internet time. They say the first commercial deployments should go live in 2010 and LTE will be mainstream by 2012.

Now, let me start imagining the consequences of having such data speeds available on a wireless medium, when the norm now (in early 2009) is data speeds in the range of a few Kbps on most networks in most places. This is sometimes true even for 3G networks and you can read about one such story inspired by disappointment 3G speeds here.

Even the early commercial deployments of LTE in 2010 are expected to deliver bandwidths of 8 MBps. Eventually, they will reach speeds upto 100 MBps if the designers of LTE did mean that when they wrote the specs. Whats more, this thing is expected to work, albeit with some reduction in performance, for mobile terminal devices moving at speeds of upto 500 Kmph! That’s faster than you can go on Auto Bahns of Germany where they forgot to put a speed limit. Any faster than that, say Schumacher in his racing car, will probably not want to video chat with his friend about how well he is donig in the race, both because he would put his life at risk and also because the poor dude does not race any more since he was asked to retire so other race drivers could wi. Ok, back to our LTE topic…

Here are things that I think will change when LTE will arive with its full force:

  • Handsets will have to evolve to support applications that can benefit from high bandwidth, which means, streaming video will be pretty much the norm in any handset (yes, I know its this way even now, but later it will be impossible to find a handset that will not support video).
  • Services that provide bandwidth intensive content will flourish and TV show production houses will give equal weightage to mobile consumers.
  • Wired broadband providers will eventually become extinct because laying a physical cable all the way to your doorstep will be prohibitively costly in comparision to wireless.
  • There will be an exodus of people from cities to rural areas because it will no longer be required for people to live in cities just to find employment and yet be connected to the world in every possible way.
  • Voice communication will actually become free of charge, once and for all, no matter what device you use.

If you are imagining in what other ways things will change, share your thoughts in the comments below. Until then, happy browsing on your slow internet connection!