Saturday, February 28, 2009

Latest from Shanthi ...

Shanthi learns flower arrangement from Rieko of Hanapot. Usually its on Fridays. Yesterday she made a nice horzontally and veritically arranged flowers, which was captivating. So I decided to put in my blog,

Also, sometimes back (I forgot when), she made some earthenwares by herself. It also has all our names written in it. For me it looks more like monolithic age pottery ;-)

Thursday, February 26, 2009


去年の日本語能力試験を合格してしまいました。良い結果は日本人の友達が日本語を一生懸命教えてくれたのである。なので”現物で支払う”と思って、英語を教えようとした結果は英和説 [EIWASETU]

今日の言葉は“Pay in Kind”





John:Can you translate this Japanese document for me,
John:You know I cant read Kanji
田中:Certainly, can I see …
「Tanaka translates the document for John」
John:Thank you very much, how can I pay back?
田中:Pay in kind
田中:Sometimes, translate some English document for me

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Definition: Language

One of my friend recently talked about "Japanese fortunetellers," and it seems that many Japanese visit fortunetellers often. My friend happens to visit a fortune teller who also happens to be her friend. How nice, she gets to know her fortunes for free. Normally, me and my Japanese friend exchange language (Japanese - English), and we choose a topic for debate and learn during debate. Last week, it was "Japanese fortunetellers". Some of the things she told were really interesting (and sometimes funny).

School of fortunetelling: It seems that there are many schools that teach fortunetellers. And as one can understand the fees seems to be very high.
Language used (frequency spectrum): It seems that they communicate in the Electromagnetic spectrum, with cosmic bodies, some of which seems to be knowing our fortune

The words Language and Frequency spectrum, impressed me and led me to some more (re)search. It seems that, all living and non-living things in this universe are communicating in a form or other, we can understand if we can listen to it. Literally it means, the objects around you, like for example, a tree, insect, sun, moon, your umbrella, pen, pencil, eraser, ..., etc are all communicating to you, in one way or the other. We can involve ourselves, only if we know its language. Sounds strange, right!

How do we define a language,
Definition-1: A systematic means of communicating by the use of sounds or conventional symbols (this definition is inadequate for our fortuneteller)
Definition-2: A language is a dynamic set of sensory symbols of communication and the elements used to manipulate them. Language can also refer to the use of such systems as a general phenomenon. (this is from Wikipedia).

After reading a few definitions on languages, I had to make up my mind that our definitions are limited to human languages. Even for this (small) subset, our definition seems to be inadequate. For example, we use a lot more than symbols and sounds to communicate. Or does it again depend on the definition of symbols. Kind of getting complicated, and philosophical.

It also seems that (good) fortunetellers can infact read your mind. Some speculate this as a trick called "cold reading". But some people say that the oracle read your mind not from symbols, but by the frequency of your thoughts. Now what is the "Frequency of thoughts"?. Physically it means the perceivable (electromagnetic) waves that emanate from our brain cells. Till recently, I was of the view that modern computers together with some super expensive sensors that can sense ultra low power signals from our brain, are decoding the grey cells functions. But, it seems that we can determine these signals with less expensive technologies. Foretune telling.

My friend went on to the extent of presenting me with a Japanese version of a book on cold reading. In Japanese it reads something like, "uranaishi", fortuneteller. I am trying to read it with my limited Japanese *language* ability. Progress has been very slow :-(

I dont believe in fortunetelling period. But recently I am reading more about some part of brain that human beings seldom think of using, and many saints and gods use it to perfection. And this brain can work wonders for those people. Probably these fortunetellers are using that part of the brain.

Monday, February 23, 2009

IF - Rudyard Kipling

Whenever I read a nice poem, I try to share it with people I love (know). In my schoolboy days it was mostly my mom. Today I read Rudyard Kipling's IF. I have heard about this poem when I was in my 10th grade, but never got a chance to read it. And it (IF) had to wait till today, and I guess, I happened to read it at the right time.

-- Enjoy, this wonderful poem --

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cleared JLPT Level 2 ...

Yesterday I got the results. scored ~70% while the pass criteria was 60%. I was happy. But .. after letting the reality settle down, I felt, probably I do not deserve it, yet. My conversation skills is not yet to standards. Sometimes when I am in meetings talking to customers, I scamper for the right word and freeze :-( ... so these marks do not reflect that.

Anyway like my Hindi (where I hold a degree), I also have a certificate in Japanese. What is even worse, I sometimes confuse between Hindi and Japanese words, because I know both of them a little (50-50).

Friday, February 13, 2009

My favourite Japanese songs ...

Today I thought of writing down some of the Japanese singers I like. The first Japanese song that I liked was "Sakuranbo" by Otsuka Ai. I thought she was cute ;-) ...

And after that I also liked a few songs of Ayumi Hamasaki. But then I could not remember the title, or find it in Youtube. Few Japanese does not like her though :-(

And then I started liking Ken Hirai, he is good looking and his voice is also good. I liked his songs like "Hitomi wo tojite", "Pop star", ... nice voice ...

I also Konayuki by Remioromen, ..., I dont know much about music, though I think the music is very good ...

I like Angela Aki too, she is also very good ... the song was sung for the video game, FINAL FANTASY ... I also like her songs like rain, home (furusato..), ...

Recently I like Ayaka Hirahara, she also looks cute ;-) ...

The list is long, so I had to cut short ...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

SriLanka-13 Vs India 11 ...?

Cricket, India played a 5 match one day series against Srilanka. India won the series 4-1, besides winning the only T20 (Twenty-Twenty). It was very nice to watch the Indian team playing with a lot of spirit and confidence, against the Srilankan players and their umpires. It was not a slip in writing, yes their umpires. The newspapers mentioned that the umpiring was "just not upto standards", but if we are putting in an unparliamentary statement, they were just lobsided.

Sachin was given out LBW (Leg Before Wicket), 3 times in a row, all wrong decisions. The (little) young master is a great player and even a greater "human being", he just did not show any sign of frustration. I was just raging with anger. If the Srilankan umpires thought, as in good old days, Indian batting would collapse after Tendulkar's departure, then it was proved wrong. The *real* Indian batting started after Tendulkar's unlucky dismissals. Raina, Dhoni, Yuvaraj, Yusuf, ... impressed with their bat. Zaheer, Praveen and Ishant, impressed everybody with their length bowling. In Munaf, the Indians have found someone who can boul line and length everytime (some call him the Indian McGrath). Anyway, the umpires decisions did not affect the outcome in anyway. Team India just overwhelmed the Srilankans in all aspect of the game.

In the last game, the T20, the umpires went mad, I lost my cool, when the umpire did not give LBW a couple of times, when the ball was pitching in line and was about to hit the middle stump. I thought, as in the one dayers, the Indian team will win comfortably. But there was a (slight) hiccup in the middle overs, and it made me think for sometime that the umpires won it atlast. The SL-13, had some fun till the Pathan brothers decisively swung the bat in India's favour.

Truth always *WINS*, and this was proved once again in the India-SL match.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Setsubun [節分] prayers with Oka-san, & Oto-san

Last year I had a chance to attend the Setsubun celebration at the heian shrine with Jeff. But this year, I was not able to attend, since the festival was on a weekday, and setsubun is not (yet) included into the long list of Japanese holidays. Oto-san of Hanapot, had invited me to attend the setsubun celebrations with his family in the evening, so I accepted the offer. The plan for the day was to visit a couple of temples and then eat some special food.

After a busy day at work, I came back home a bit early and we started off by 7 in the evening for Dai-san's house (Oto-san's friend). On reaching Dai-san's home, we placed all our belongings and started for the temple. The first thing that struck me, there were a lot of shops selling things of the 60's that made even Oto-san nostalgic. They were selling things like Candy, Takoyaki, Fruits coated in candy, Candy with face in it, and all of it. It was as if I was attending an Indian festival, with a lot of shops lined along both the sides of the road, filled with Japanese people. Nice experience.

After reaching the temple (I didn't note the name ;-)) ... it was more fun. We made some special offering on that day. One such thing is shown in the photo. The inscription in the mud plate reads something like the following (from right -> left), Britto's family, made up of a 33 year old man (that is me), a 33 year old woman (that's shanthi), and a 2 year old man (boy, Antony Solomon). After lighting a few incense sticks and praying, we offered this plate along with some Mame, and some cash to the temple.

Shanthi was very busy filming the events, in fact she made a very long video of all the celebration. Please enjoy ...

Now, after visiting the temple shown in the video, we went to one more temple and prayed there for the ladies, and then walked back home.

After reaching home, we started ate maki-sushi, specially made for setsubun. We had to face North-east and eat it in silence, praying for a happy year ahead. I immediately grabbed the oppurtunity to pray for the global ecomony ;-) ...

(Both photos and videos captured using the Sony TG1 by Shanthi)

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Developing free software as a profession?

For some time I was wondering how in the world, someone can devote all their time for developing free software. In planet earth, we need money for food, clothes and shelter. The couple of bloggers that I follow regularly are in fact full time bloggers (Jeffrey Friedl, Jeff Atwood), who also do some work to keep themselves busy, which (as of now) doesn't pay anything. So, recently when he wrote this blog, "Lightroom Plugin Development: What To Do When a Hobby Becomes Work", I was a bit disappointed.

One because, I wanted to be like them someday. Two because, atlast he was frustrated to work for free. I could understand his frustration because, I always have had a feeling, "how in the world can someone develop software for the community for free?", save the gratitute that people show. Everybody, including me, no matter how much they (we) have, always look for money, in return for the work they (we) do. I personally think, Jeffrey should be paid for all the good works he has been doing for Light-Room, either by Adobe, or by the people who use it. But, this feeling is because, he reflects some of my own feelings.

So I set out to find, how in the world, guys like Linus Torvalds, Richard Stallman, et al, get paid. For one it seems that Linus Torvalds works for some company, but I could not find how Stallman is getting paid, but he continues to live :-) ...

The one difference between people like Jeffrey and Stallman, is that, Jeffrey made only the deliverable public, this means, he can be only responsible for maintaining it. As everyone in Software Industry know, the first release is just the beginning, maintenance phase(s) follows. The length of this maintenance phase depends on many factors, but invariably very long. In any case, its too much of a responsibility for an individual, who has personal commitments too. To the contrary, the people in the GNU world, just delivered the source, and deliverables public. This allowed a community to maintain and take things forward.

I am not sure, if Jeffrey will ever make the plugin source public, this may reduce the responsibility that he holds. But if he just wants to make a few bucks to keep up his hobby. Now, I have a problem, I do not have a credit card, and so cannot pay online ;-) ... I will soon try to find a solution to pay him.

What do you guys think about this? Can programmers develop 100% free softwares for the community. Is it just another form social work for the computer geeks (who mostly have enough money) ...

Monday, February 02, 2009

The forest that cannot stand straight ...

Parishioners from the Kujo church conducted the holy mass last Sunday's at the Kohitsuji center for the disabled in Kameoka. On last to last Sunday mass announcements, I heard about the mass in Kameoka. I had been to the Katsura catholic church which is in Kameoka earlier. It is very beautiful. Thinking that we are heading for the same church, we got a ride from a friendly parishioner who had car. On an earlier occasion when I went to the Katsura church, I had missed out a fantastic photo-op, this time around, I was smart enough to take a camera.

It seems that I had missed out an important part of the announcements. The parishioners were in fact going to conduct a mass at the centre for disable in Kameoka. Now, it was a surprise for me and Shanthi, though we were happy to attend mass with those specially-abled people.

We went to the main hall and suddenly (Tatebayashi「立林」-san) mentioned in the photo below came into the room, I didn't know how he could manage to come in, on his own. I was surprised that he can steer his own vehicle. As you can see in the photo below, his legs were non-existent, hands unusable, I was wondering how did he manage to steer his vehicle.
I realized later, after seeing him closely. He was using his cheek and mouth to steer his vehicle. The following photo shows, Tatebayashi-san using his mouth to steer the vehicle.
He was very lively, his voice was loud but less clear, for me it was understandable. He inquired with the other Japanese person who accompanied us about my nationality, and after learning that I am Indian and my name is Britto, he immediately told me, "Namaste Britto-san". That brought a world of respect for this man. I wondered how on earth did he manage to learn the word Namaste. Just before the mass started, he started asking me a few questions, like which part of India I am from. He was not satisfied when I simply replied that I am from the southern part. He insisted on knowing the name of the city. And when I told him that I was from Madurai, he was visibly disappointed that he did not know Madurai. Anyway I am sure he will read about it.
Introduction of the Brittos,
The Church leaders Introduced Me, Shanthi, and Solomon, but he probably he did not know my wife Shanthi's name, so he left her name out.

During the mass, Tatebayashi-san, read the second reading, astounding. I followed each and every word he was reading, so correctly (AFAIK). The initial pity that I felt was no where to be seen, the respect grew further and further ...

After the mass, he asked for my wife's name as it was not mentioned during our introduction. When she introduced herself as Shanthi. He repeated told me to take care of myself, Solomon and Shanthi. I was more impressed to see him remembering names correctly. Ah! I forgot, when Solomon was introduced, he immediately mentioned King Solomon. On hearing all this, my heart was filled with respect, but it suddenly sank, just unable to know, why god created him like this. Tears welled up (after a long time), but I just did not want to break down in front of him, so I put a brave face.

The following incident was forwarded to me in

Where is God's Perfection?

In Brooklyn, New York, Chush is a school that caters to learning disabled children. Some children remain in Chush for their entire school career, while others can be mainstreamed into conventional schools.

At a Chush fund-raising dinner, the father of a Chush child delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended.

After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he cried out, "Where is the perfection in my son Shaya? Everything God does is done with perfection. But my child cannot understand things as other children do. My child cannot remember facts and figures as other children do. Where is God's perfection?"

The audience was shocked by the question, pained by the father's anguish, stilled by the piercing query.

" I believe," the father answered, "that when God brings a child like this into the world, the perfection that he seeks is in the way people react to this child."

He then told the following story about his son Shaya:

One afternoon Shaya and his father walked past a park where some boys Shaya knew were playing baseball.

Shaya asked, "Do you think they will let me play?"

Shaya's father knew that his son was not at all athletic and that most boys would not want him on their team. But Shaya's father understood that if his son was chosen to play it would give him a comfortable sense of belonging.
Shaya's father approached one of the boys in the field and asked if Shaya could play. The boy looked around for guidance from his teammates. Getting none, he took matters into his own hands and said "We are losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him up to bat in the ninth inning."

Shaya's father was ecstatic as Shaya smiled broadly. Shaya was told to put on a glove and go out to play short center field.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shaya's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shaya's team scored again and now with two outs and the bases loaded with the potential winning run on base, Shaya was scheduled to be up. Would the team actually let Shaya bat at this juncture and give away their chance to win the game? Surpassingly, Shaya was given the bat.

Everyone knew that it was all but impossible because Shaya didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, let alone hit with it. However as Shaya stepped up to the plate, the pitcher moved a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shaya should at least be able to make contact.

The first pitch came in and Shaya swung clumsily and missed. One of Shaya's teammates came up to Shaya and together the held the bat and faced the pitcher waiting for the next pitch. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly toward Shaya. As the pitch came in, Shaya and his teammate swung at the bat and together they hit a slow ground ball to the pitcher.

The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could easily have thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shaya would have been out and that would have ended the game. Instead, the pitcher took the ball and threw it on a high arc to right field, far beyond reach of the first baseman.

Everyone started yelling,"Shaya, run to first. Run to first." Never in his life had Shaya run to first. He scampered down the baseline wide-eyed and startled. By the time he reached first base, the right fielder had the ball. He could have thrown the ball to the second baseman who would tag out Shaya, who was still running. But the right fielder understood what the pitcher's intentions were, so he threw the ball high and far over the third baseman's head. Everyone yelled, "Run to second, run to second." Shaya ran towards second base as the runners ahead of him deliriously circled the bases towards home. As Shaya reached second base, the opposing short stop ran to him, turned him in the direction of third base and shouted, "Run to third." As Shaya rounded third, the boys from both teams ran behind him screaming, "Shaya run home."

Shaya ran home, stepped on home plate and all 18 boys lifted him on their shoulders and made him the hero, as he had just hit a "grand slam" and won the game for his team.

"That day," said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, "those 18 boys reached their level of God's perfection."

I just wish ... to meet Tatebayashi-san again ...

A mouth to feed, or a couple of hands that can work ...

For some times, some of us felt that the ever increasing Indian population is a cause of concern. I agree to an extent only, probably, the current Indian economic growth is attributed those huge number of young people.

In the same lines, I was thinking about the recent "right sizing discussions" going on in Indian IT companies. I was scratching my head on what can be done &%$#("? While I was reading through news articles ..., blogs ..., comments ..., and everything related to the topic on the internet, an idea popped up. If we start thinking postively that we have a couple of hands to work, rather than a mouth to feed idea, we may be able to weather this storm to some extent.

Now how does this apply to the current scenario.

Indian "IT services" companies have enough experience working on next generation technologies. We have mostly worked for the innovators, and little did we try to innovate something for ourselves. To give some more idea ...

The new age of computers is around the corners,
- RF ID technology is going to change the way we do shopping
- Interactive user interfaces will change the way we give commands to computers
- USB 3.0, is going to the change the way the computer CPU will look like
- Cloud computing is taking off, with google's online documents
- Power hungry worlds, wants to save every milli-watt they can
- Hybrid engines and technology changing the way automobiles operate
(this list is very big...)

Now, in all these, there may not be a major market immediately, but ...
Since we now have enough talented engineers to work, and more and more moving to free pool ...
* Can we start creating IP (Intellectual Properties) for future use, say USB3.0 IP?
* Is it possible that our engineers can innovate the next generation UI?
* Is it possible, that we create all software libraries for an 100% RFID based super market, from Hardware to DBMS?

In doing all the above things, we may not have earned a lot of money now, but, the IP are potential revenue spinners. The IP's may find use, when the market picks up.

Is it possible to show some market value for IP's?
Can we show them as our assets?
If the answer to the above questions are yes, then does it mean, we are saving money?
Is it a smart cost cutting?

One another method that WIPRO seems to be aggresively following is training all the free force.
I think, that is one another way of increasing the company's potential to take on the market when it picks up.

If only the management thinks that this may to be a smart way of thinking,
many talents will get a chance to innovate, for our own company.