Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Postcard story

While growing up you are amazed by few events or principles or people that they stick in your head forever. One such principle for me has been the concept of 'slow is good' in a learning process. Let me give you an example - if you want to learn riding a bicycle it is advised that riding it as slow as possible is a good approach. Riding faster is easier and doesn't teach you the power of control much. This was and is still fascinating for me.

Similar concept applies for writing as well i.e. writing less is good as it gives you more control over your words and ideas. The phrase popularized by Mark Twain pretty much summarizes my thought in this regard: "If I had more time, I would have written less". This thought is so true, it is easy to write a 2 page article to explain an idea as compared to writing a 2 line sentence to explain the same. With this spirit in mind I have to decided to diverge my energy in a writing a postcard story. Postcard story is a short short story that comprises of 250-300 words.

Here is a classic postcard story written by Arthur Clarke, named Quarantine:

Earth's flaming debris still filled half the sky when the question filtered up to Central from the Curiosity Generator.

"Why was it necessary? Even though they were organic, they had reached Third Order Intelligence."

"We had no choice: five earlier units became hopelessly infected, when they made contact."

"Infected? How?"

The microseconds dragged slowly by, while Central tracked down the few fading memories that had leaked past the Censor Gate, when the heavily-buffered Reconnaissance Circuits had been ordered to self-destruct.

"They encountered a - problem - that could not be fully analyzed within the lifetime of the Universe. Though it involved only six operators, they became totally obsessed by it."

"How is that possible?"

"We do not know: we must never know. But if those six operators are ever re-discovered, all rational computing will end."

"How can they be recognized?"

"That also we do not know; only the names leaked through before the Censor Gate closed. Of course, they mean nothing."

"Nevertheless, I must have them."

The Censor voltage started to rise; but it did not trigger the Gate.

"Here they are: King, Queen, Bishop, Knight, Rook, Pawn."

Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, First Issue, Vol 1, No. 1, Spring 1977

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Do you yahooooooooo!!

Ok, being a techie and a blogger, blogging about yahoo and their current situation at some point of time was inevitable. Before I say anything else I should mention that Yahoo email and IM are my primary source of communication to the outside world till current date and time. There are couple of reasons for that: I got my first PC in 1999 when Yahoo was slowly getting popular in India. Along with hotmail and rediffmail, I decided to make Yahoo part of my life and hola, it has been a successful relationship so far. Partly because most of my friends and other contacts are on Yahoo and I have a few good groups formed over time in Yahoo world.

So what is the current deal with Yahoo. As an outsider it is difficult to tell the truth but it is so tempting to say Yahoo is losing its touch. I am not sure about their business and product plans for next few years, but I am pretty sure that many significant leaders in Yahoo world had quit the company. This link would shout evidence for that fact: Yahoo leaders bid goodbye.

Remember when your parents said ‘you are as good as the company that you keep’, it is also true in the business world ‘the company is as good as the people it keeps’. So after looking at VIPs leave Yahoo, their stock crashing over few months and regular song’n’dance with Microsoft, one needs to be quite an optimistic to believe in Yahoo today.