Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Google Maps - Quite Funny

Recently I was shown something really funny about how the "Get Directions" of Google Maps work. Performing a driving direction search from "Shanghai, China" to "Taipei, Taiwan" showed the following:
Observe the step 33, it says "Swim across the Pacific Ocean". Wow! Really?

So I was curious to find what other interesting transit strategies does Google Maps suggest. So I did a driving direction search from "Honolulu, HI" to "Taipei, Taiwan" which showed the following:
Observe step 6, it says "Kayak across the Pacific Ocean" and the distance is just 3879mi compared to 165km of swimming before. Awesome!

Performing the same searches on Yahoo or Bing will disappoint some as it does not provide any such adventurous routes or strategies.

This reminds of the following quote from Bertrand Russell:
"A life without adventure is likely to be unsatisfying, but a life in which adventure is allowed to take whatever form it will is sure to be short."

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

TV Screen Protection

As parents of two young kids me and my wife are constantly on the look out for their safety as well as the safety of the things around them. My worst nightmare would be to find my big screen TV's LCD screen damaged. There have been plenty of close calls already which have made me very nervous. My kids make it a point to constantly keep us on the edge by bouncing things very close to it. So it almost feels a disaster waiting to happen.

It will be unjust to claim that only younger kids pose a problem. I remembered the news a few years back where Wii controllers slipped out of players hands and damaged the TV screen. Nintendo I believe has released numerous versions of the straps used to attach the controller to gamer's wrist to avoid this.

Fearing the safety of my prized TV (no kidding, I spent a small fortune to get the top of the line Sony 52XBR four years back) I started looking around for the various solutions that are available out there. Here are some of them that came up in Google Search:
For the 52 inch LCD they would cost around $150 and they are all being sold online, could not find a local store that carried them.

Then there was this website that provided instructions on how to build your own. Immediate question that comes to the mind is the saving over the commercial ones. After doing some costing of the parts at a few home improvement/hardware stores the cost is about $80 for a decent clear shield. This does not account for any tools and expertise required to complete the task. This wasn't encouraging, I was hoping to spend no more than $40 if I have to build on my own.

So, now the question becomes which is the best value for money out there? I would like to know if anyone else had any experiences good/bad that will help in making a decision. I am a little worried about the whole picture quality with the shield in front of the TV screen.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Ideal tenure - IT Industry

As a professional in the computer industry I often ask myself the question every few years in the job - is it long enough at the present job? Should I start looking for another opportunity? I am quite surprised that it is not just me and often talking to others sense the same confusion.

Looking at the IT industry I can see three types based on tenure lengths - long, short and medium.

Long timers are those people who stay at their job for decade and longer. They either really love what they do and/or really love the company, its benefits and compensation. There are some that just hate to be interviewed and would not like to totally avoid that situation until they are pushed into it. Another species here are the ones who have been waiting endlessly for the company to lay them off, in which case they get a handsome severance package.

Short timers are the ones that do not stay in one job for more than 2-3 years. They are the ones who either get bored with the job and want to take on a new challenge or sense an atmosphere that's not to their liking.

The ones in the middle generally have tenure of around 4 years. Oh no I am not thinking about the President here. The 4 years period has been primarily driven by the general 4 year vesting of the stock options. These include people who believe in the company they work for but tend to find themselves doing more of the same and would like to take up a new challenge. These people are generally in non-executive roles.

So coming back to our original question of what is the ideal tenure for IT industry?

For non-executives where I fall I do get a general sense that it is somewhere between 4 - 6 years. This is backed up by some factual data from Bureau of Labor Statistics. BLS survey finds that as of Jan 2010 the median years of tenure at the current employer for ages 25 and over is 5.2 years. Also this has gradually risen since 1998 from 4.7 years to the current 5.2 years. Other interesting pieces of data in this regard is the median years of tenure for ages 16 and over for Computer and Mathematical occupations is 4.8 years and median tenure for college graduates is 5.2 years.

Having been on both sides of the interview process my general experience has been that people who fall out of bounds in terms of tenure lengths are simply asked more questions about it during the interview process. You end up explaining how you had a good reason for staying either that long or that short. The harder question is why you want to leave now?

I am sure there are other dimensions that play a role, a key one like geography (US compared to India or China) but that itself can be a bigger discussion.

What do you think about this? I would love to see your comments...