Friday, February 19, 2016

Overwork from Home

In the decade+ years of work that I have put in my life, I have hardly ever worked from home. I have supported remotely, worked at a customer's place but have generally never been away from my colleagues working alone from a place of residence.

For some reason, I had to do that for a week last month, and it was a stressful experience. Now let me qualify first. We are a very lean organization. Absolutely everyone of us is over worked. So the physical location doesn't really matter as everyone has tonnes of action items and deliverables pending. My management is not into micro-managing us and nor do I micro-manage the people I am responsible for.

Anyway, there is this unknown pressure on me (guilt maybe) that I have to over deliver and be more productive if I am at home. All the 5 days I put in more than 12 hours of work a day (skipping meals) and starting at 07:00 AM in the morning cause I was working across time zones. The entire experience has left me exhausted and I dread working from home again.

Being at a workplace, you take breaks, you chit-chat with colleagues and generally have a lower stress level than being all by yourself. I can only imagine how people pull-off work from homes this regularly.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Lame reasons

So I managed to disappear for more than 5 months from blogging last year. Besides the usual excuses of - lazy, no mood, no time, writer's block, blah blah - one of the major reasons why I stopped blogging was - Windows Live Writer.

As ironic as it may seem, my favorite tool to write blogs was the reason I couldn't write them anymore. Windows Live Writer is not available for Windows 10, and there apparently are no plans from Microsoft to continue the product. There were rumors that Microsoft would open-source it. But I haven't read anything new. This happens to be a repeat of the emotions I went through when Google pulled the plug on the Google Reader.

Anyway since the beginning of this year, I have started writing into the online composing option of Blogger, and this is the result. So not much difference for you, but some learning curve for me.

In the short 10 years that I have been using Software in my daily life 4 products have died on me:

Microsoft Money - I replaced it with GnuCash
Google Reader - I replaced it with Feedly
Windows Live Writer - I replaced it with the Blogger online compose option
TrueCrypt - Haven't found a reliable replacement yet

I am sure there will be a lot many more deaths in years to come. Learning never stops!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Exercise vs. Diet

Just like everyone else out there struggling with their weight, I had this question bothering me for close to a decade. Eventually a few years ago, I sorta figured out that improper eating has a lot more detrimental impact on your weight than proper exercising can undo it.

Simply put, it is easy to lose weight by proper eating and no exercising, but it is very very difficult (or impossible) to lose weight by proper exercising and improper eating. As an Engineer, I consider this as a very simplistic - Input - Output = Excess Weight problem. If your calorie intake is more than your daily calorie requirement, then you simply end up gaining weight (the excess calories get stored in there). And you can't really burn that much calories off by just exercising, unless you are a full-time athlete or a person who does extremely strenuous physical work all day.

I came across this video that explains this simple concept beautifully, and I thought it's worth sharing:

Anyway, for all you diet skeptics out there, who will be prompt to point out that one friend who is very lean and eats a lot, I just have to say this: not all bodies are equally efficient. Some of us are blessed with a super awesome metabolism, that manages to convert each and every calorie consumed, into a calorie that can be used (100 calories in = 100 calories that can be used by the body). These some of us have a natural tendency to grow fat if we don't take care of our diets.

The lean over-eating people are blessed with bad metabolism. They can eat to their heart's content, but their bodies can't convert all those consumed calories into useful ones. Though we can be envious of them, we have to live with the fact that our bodies are just very efficient. Had we been cars, people would have loved us for our fuel efficiency.

And to end this blog post, I would like you to visit this link, where they have visually shown how 200 Calories of a few food items look like. See. Ruminate.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Fall from grace

I have had a carry-on bag from a certain company (let's call it (S)) since 2004. It's quite worn out now, but it stood the test of time and traveled with me absolutely everywhere I went for more than a decade. I loved it a lot and decided that when I retire it, I would go with a (S) again. So, last year, I got a replacement (S). This new one (though quite expensive for my pay-scale!) didn't last me even the first trip. The wheels are all wobbly and it is very difficult to drag around on airport carpets.

However, I can understand one-off products can have defects and I forgave (S). I needed a new back-pack and I decided to go again with a (S). This laptop back-pack gave away yesterday. The handle tore less than a year of using it. Now, I am very disappointed.

I don't think it is appropriate for me to shame the brand. I am sure they have millions of other satisfied customers (like I was before) and me getting 2 defective products back-to-back is just my bad luck.

However, I just feel that as a company, you work hard to build your reputation. And then you deliver on it (the way they did with the first bag that I bought back in 2004). But later, cost pressures and other strategic initiatives come in the way of delivering your core brand promise. And you start cutting corners. May be by low cost manufacturing or by reducing the steps in your quality assurance process. Whatever is the case, once a customer is disappointed, you lose them forever. I probably won't give them a 3rd chance with my hard earned money.