Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Underdeveloped hardware

We got new variants for testing (by variant I mean a stripped off mobile phone with all its components and silicon chips lying naked on the PCB, with a big handset attached to it). This one is supposed to be working on EDGE technology having fancy named features like digital RF processing, complete battery manager, persistent FS NOR etc. Now and only now we've got some "challenging" work to do.

First of all, the board religiously disobeys every single statement mentioned in the user manual.
With few tweaks here and there, we were able to download the software on to the board after which it takes as less as 5 minutes to start up!!! Imagine, you switch on your mobile and you have to wait for 5 minutes to make a call.
It did not take much time for us to realize that even waiting for that 5 long minutes was not worth at all, for within next 2 minutes, it would freeze. To give an idea as to what "freeze" means, picture yourself trying to call someone and miraculously all the keys stop functioning and makes you feel like crushing your mobile under the truck.
We tried with different software and by God's grace it was more stable. But the funny part was the voice of the person speaking at the other end sounded like a robot, very electronic and kinda distorted.
Memory dump was not a viable option either, for none of us knew how to use the debugger tool and the racial clearcase gave access only to French team and not for the Mexican.

We testers are supposed to test the product and stabilize it, but this one is a classic underdeveloped hardware. Seems as though the hardware, chipset and development team consisted of Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Rembrandt and the likes instead of geeks.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Genius Bar

I was impressed by the way Apple repaired my Macbook Pro. As it does everything else in style, it maintained its fame when it comes to repairing it's products.

I entered Apple store at Willow bend, Dallas and a guy in blue shirt welcomed me with a warm smile and asked me if I needed any help. I told him that I had a problem with my Macbook Pro and I had come to get it fixed. In a jiffy he asked me to choose from the time slots he had for the next day and I fixed an appointment at 1:30PM, thanked him and walked out.

Next day I entered the Apple store 10 minutes earlier and they made me sit on a stool at Genius bar. It looks exactly like a bar, only difference being Apple Genius serving you instead of a bartender. The names of the customers with appointment is displayed on a large screen alternating with Apple advertisements. 1:30 on dot, I was attended. It was brief, I explained him the problem (the fan was too noisy), he asked my contact details, printed out a form, asked me to sign and told that he would call me up once it's done or I can track it online.

In next two days, the laptop was fixed. They had replaced the fan, fixed internal wiring and the price came upto a whooping $150. But then the laptop was in warranty period and all I had to pay is a naught!!! I walked out with a smile of satisfaction.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Español for dummies

I've been taking Spanish language classes here in Mexico and only now I realized how difficult it is to learn a new language. But I feel that Spanish is one of the sweetest language which has a great number of words derived from Latin and most of them are close cousins of English. For example: passport is pasaporte, page is pagina, vacation is vacacion and many more.

Most of you guys are aware of the basics.
Hola - Hello
Buenos dias - Good day
Como estas? - How are you?
Que tal? - What's up
Adios - bye

But the most complicated part of the language is the conjugation. Every verb has as many as fifteen conjugations based on the order of the person (first, second and third person) and the tense (past, present and future). An example to show that is here, the verb "eat" in English would have the following conjugations:


Past

Present

Future

I

Ate

Eat

Will eat

You

Ate

Eat

Will eat

He/She

Ate

Eats

Will eat

We

Ate

Eat

Will eat

You (plural)

Ate

Eat

Will eat

They

Ate

Eat

Will eat

And here is the Spanish version of the same verb eat (comer):

Pasado

Presente

Futuro

Yo

Comi

Como

Comere

Tu

Comiste

Comes

Comeras

El/Ella

Comio

Come

Comera

Nosotros

Comimos

Comemos

Comeremos

Ustedes

Comieron

Comen

Comeran

Ellos

Comieron

Comen

Comeran


Notice the difference in each and every word. This happens for each and every verb and it can get worse if it's an irregular verb. Having bugged you with the unwanted complications, let me take you to the most interesting part of any language, the slangs.

The reason why I felt the language sweet was not really for the fact that it has words closely resembling to English or it has many great writers, but the way the slangs gel into the conversation. When two Mexicans, mostly men, are conversing you hear certain phrases so often that you tend to reckon them to be prepositions, conjunctions or articles.
You notice that ALL, not "almost all" or "most", conversations end invariably with wey. You hear greetings which sound: que pedo wey? (What's up dude? Verbatim translation: What fart dude?). Though the wey thing sounds cool, it is not all that polite though, you can't use it in restaurants to call the waiter, he may spit in your food if you do so. Keep it just among your friends.

Then comes phrases chingao, pinche and madre which, as said earlier, are used as frequently as words the, is, or and the likes. These are again class 3 slangs which should be confined among the close social circle. Instead of filling in explicit content in my blog, its better off that the interested members rather visit urban dictionary to get the meanings. Few typical sentences would sound:

Tengo pinche trabajo.
Me carga la chingada.
Pasa me esa madre.
Trajiste esa madre.

These are not all that bad and ugly to use, they are pretty much like the versatile F word in English, which could be a noun, verb or adjective based on the context and trust me they sound very sweet and melodious.

A colleague of mine once observed, "Hey your Spanish has improved a lot, I'm sure you would understand 50% of what I speak, right?" and I replied "Yeah! You're right. I definitely can understand 50% of what you speak for they are slangs, the rest 50% of the proper Spanish you speak I cannot make a shit out of it."

Hurray!!! Got a new car

After a long wait for..umm...work permit, salary, loans, decision and what not, my lovely manager handed over her car keys to me this afternoon.

A deep blue "Wolfsburg Edition" 1.8L Volkswagen Jetta, 2001 model which she had taken care like a baby is now under my...err...our control. Its a joint venture by me and my good friend Lokesh.

Couldn't talk much about the car, for I haven't driven it long. But the drive from Lazardo Cardenas to office was never that smooth and suave. Has the typical features which most semi-luxury cars would have, lacks a CD player though.

I only hope that we can maintain that prized possession as well as she did all these years.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Don't Drink and...

No!!! Not another one!!!

Take it easy!!! This one is not another mountainous adventure I had. This article is a serious one, which describes an accident that my friends had recently. Don't get deceived by the title that it is one of those drunk and drive case. The story was narrated by my friend Edith who was one among those lucky four and I articulated it with words and expressions. For better feel, I've put myself into her shoes and have written the article in first person.

At the eleventh hour on Saturday, we (Luis Ruben, Jonathan, Jual Manuel and myself) decided to visit "Real de Catorce", a historical place known for its desert landscapes and peyotes. We had planned to stopover at Juan Manuel's ranch enroute for a siesta and hence started in the night, driving along the Monterrey-Saltillo road in Luis Ruben's, considerably new, Platina. Being a lady I was offered the front seat by the gentlemen and I decided to have my share of sleep, for I was supposed to be driving the last stretch of journey. Luis Ruben started driving and in no time I was deep asleep.

Like shaken by a dreadful nightmare, my sleep was disturbed by scary screams of Luis Ruben. He was nervously shouting, "Hold onnnnnnnnnn!!! Hold on to somethingggggggggggg!!! Someone on the highway!!! Hold onnnnnnnnnnnn!!!"

I was still not wide awake, before I got conscious and cognizant of the infernal situation, the car was toppling off the street causing an utterly random motion, tousling each of us in the car in its most chaotic form, creating a great sense of fear and scourge. I'm not sure, but I guess the car tumbled about four times!!! I was being dangerously tossed towards the windshield but the seatbelt secured me back. The momentum was so high that the seatbelt nearly crushed my right shoulders, but I must confess that without that I were not to be alive today to narrate this story. As the car kept tumbling and colliding the ground on my side I felt as though my neck broke and my head was falling off. My neck was severely ailed due to the sudden jerks. I was losing my nerve every time I heard the loud banging noise the car made when it hit the ground. Even the sight of car getting deformed due to collision was not just a scary, but a miserable and a sorry one...the windows were shattered, the glass pieces were sprinkled inside and in no time the whole thing was blindingly dusty, silent and settled. The car had regained its balance and surprisingly had stood on wheels.

My sight was obscured by dust and Juan Manuel, dazed and confused, started screaming "Its gonna explodeeeeeeeee, its gonna explodeeeeee, get offffff, get offfff the car, runnnnnnnnnn, runnnnnnnn!!!"

It was not the time for me to sit there and work on logic about the car explosion. Add to it the dust had made me half blind. Without any brain-work I just thought I should get the hell out of that place. I tried opening door, it was jammed beyond repair. It was again surprising how it opened with a kick or two. Heedlessly I jumped out and others followed. I call it heedless because I had no idea where on earth I would land...end of ridge, edge of cliff, snake bush, other side of highway...but we were safe.

Four truck drivers had noticed us, they approached us. Juan Manuel, still panicking ran to them and hugged one those guys, the driver in turn hugged him warmly, patted on his back and consoled him with kind words "You are OK!!! You are OK!!!" Luis Ruben came running and asked if I was OK and before I could ask him back he was heading to Juan Carlos. I was worried more about Luis Ruben as I had seen him breaking the windshield with his head.

Juan Carlos was the only guy who was bleeding but he claimed that it was Juan Manuel's blood and not his. I thought Juan Carlos was badly hurt and was in a shock, for when someone is cut or injured deeply, the pain is not experienced immediately. And what hit me more was when Juan Carlos told that Juan Manuel's head was cut deeply and asked us not to tell him since he does not know. Murphy's law was playing its role and Juan Manuel had already heard the conversation and was crying, "What's on my head??? Tell me what's on my headddd???" Worse still, he felt the liquid on his blood and thought he was bleeding badly. The icebreaker was the fact that the liquid of interest was not really blood, but the cola which Juan Manuel was having in the car just before the accident. The truck driver gave him a hug again and comforted. The other funny part was that the blood on Juan Carlos' hand was indeed his. A shrapnel from the exploding windowpane had hurt him.

My shoulder started paining incredibly; I started shivering due to both pain and shock. I was feeling numb all over my body due to low pressure, I was not sure whether to throw up or black out. My neck also was terribly aching. I helped myself to the car, which fortunately had not exploded, to relax. I sat in the car and waited for the ambulance, which took about an hour to reach us.

The ambulance was an underfed, malnutritioned one. It neither had fuel nor the asprin. The crew did not have money to fill fuel too. We reached the hospital in Saltillo and were thankful to all the Gods, for we witnessed many souls reaching that hospital not being as lucky as we were.

After all this you may be wondering what on earth would cause Luis Ruben to lose control to such an extent that it toppled over four times. It was a drunk who was crossing the speedy highway. The truck drivers caught him when we were there and he was one unhurt lucky bastard who didn't have any sense of what had happened.

In the mean time the cops had arrested, though it sounds absolutely ridiculous, Luis Ruben. The explanation the cops gave us were stupid, hilarious and nonsensical. They said Luis Ruben should have hit the drunkard crossing the road, which would prove that Luis Ruben was driving normal and it was the drunkard's mistake. Just that he tried to avoid him and met with such a bad accident, they claimed it was Luis Ruben's mistake. They did not release him until the hospital authorities affirmed that all co-passengers were out of danger. The drunkard was the happy man in the end. Neither did he get arrested nor he realized what had happened.

Henceforth for heaven's sake...

DON'T DRINK AND CROSS THE HIGHWAY

Friday, November 02, 2007

Could it be worse???

Technorati is a blog search engine. Just search on some tags and you get blogs tagged with Technorati tags. The best part is when you search for a certain tag, it shows related tags too. For example if you search for Cancun, it gives related tags: Mexico, travel, vacation, hotels, resorts etc.

Similarly I tried searching for USA and America. I was awestruck to see the related tags it showed.

USA:
* politics,
* news,
* bush,
* iraq,
* israel,
* cars,
* terrorism,
* iran,
* war,
* america


AMERICA:
* politics,
* bush,
* iraq,
* news,
* war,
* usa,
* religion,
* government,
* terrorism,
* islam

What could be worse than this for a country? No comments.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

It was no big deal...

US visa was finally approved and getting it done was a piece of cake, really!!!

Now don't think I'm gonna immigrate to US, work for some years, get married with a big value addition of "US", get green card...NO!!! I don't even wanna do that as a last resort.

Then why do you think I got US visa? Take a guess....

Business meetings, technical trainings, higher studies...Nah!!! You know me what kind of person I am. None of those are my cup of tea.
Photography, traveling, vacation...hmm...maybe but why would I need a visa of 10 years duration.

You could never guess it.

The reason is sheer convenience that we, the souls living closer to Mexicamerican border, get if we posses US visa.

Err...I'm not getting what you're talking about???

It's as simple as this. A trouser costing 300 pesos in Mexico would cost 150-200 pesos across the border. A laptop costing 20000 pesos in Mexico would cost about 15000 across the border. In other words if we cross the border to shop, we can end up getting some great deals and bargains. But nothing good in life comes without costs and hurdles. There are many expenses that we incur on the way (for exact figures, wait till I goto US) like petrol, highway toll, border crossing fees etc. Considering that all these expenses are split by 3 or 4 and also considering the fact that you would come back ransacking many stores in US, filling your cars till its fullest brim, you end up saving descent amount.

In a nutshell, I got US visa for shopping!!!

With so much of crap about crossing the border, I almost forgot to tell about the visa interview which I had today.
First a guy highlights your name with red ink, after which you enter the consulate.
At entrance another guy checks for passport, application form and receipt of visa fee.
Time for photo session and finger prints. The person over there verifies that the data entered in the system and passport are correct, takes photographs and asks for fingerprint.
Wait in the queue till you meet the person at the bullet proof, sound proof, water proof and foolproof window. I was lucky to meet a very pretty Thai female on the other side of the window. She was glad to see Thai visa in my passport. She asked me few questions - my age, duration in Mexico, my salary, reason for visit, work in China. In the end, in her sweetest tone she said "Your visa is approved, you'll get a 10 years long business visa in 2 or 3 working days. Please pay the fees for the delivery service, just block away from here, thank you."

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