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The Bangalore Report II – Day 4 and 5

Filed Under (Projectplace) by Olle on 11-11-2009

Release day with a big R!
A lot of great work to be released.

The wakeup call did not wake me today, so I hade only 20min to get my shit together and have some breakfast before Ram would come by and pick me up. I managed to get a toast and two cups of coffee before it was time to join Ram on his tripp to the office.
Once at the office I noticed something, every time we come to the office the parking lot is empty, and the same when we go home! Ram, you need to go home earlier!
In the morning between 9AM to 2PM we hade three interviews with some potential developers(with great interest in creating cool web GUI:s) to join the team down here. We even managed to talk to the guy who was involved in the car accident on his way from Chennai to Bangalore for the interview last saturday, and we have chosen to meet two out of three again next week to get a better feel on who they are and what they love.

At 2PM we hade a great meeting regarding frontend coding and Technical Debt meetings. The outcome of the meeting is that we shall test the Mikado method by @ellnestam and @danielbrolund to start paying of some technical debt. We also hade a great discussion regarding how we can get better at validating the xHTML and Javascript code that we create. I’m certain this will turn out into something great!

After the meeting is was time for me and Ramesh to get some lunch, we thought we’d go to Melanies favorite veggie restaurant but unfortunatly it was closed.. So it had to be the Bayleaf, the resturant I hade promised not to eat at on this trip..Well we’ll see.
On the way to the restaurant I told Ram that I have promised my son to take a picture of a cow in the middle of the street. Ram then started talking, in swedish, about a queue on the way to the office today:
- “I saw this big queue before I picked you up at the hotel”, Ram said.
-”What! A queue”, I said, thinking a queue in Bangalore was not something to call home about.
- “Yes, it was really big. A male queue”, Ram says.

Ok, so the thing is that Ram swedish has really taken a nose dive to the worse these 1.5years he’s been back in Bangalore, I think it’s about time to send him on a swedish course.
Ram, cow is “ko” and “kö” is queue!

After lunch we started doing some final tests before the release tonight, and at 6:30PM it was time for the Release Information. It was really great that we could join, all of us really liked it. Adarsh and Appa fixed some sweet indian sweets, Mango juice and some really hot chips for the show.
When Lena started to talk about the new version of Projectplace Plugin something happend with Ram, he started screaming “Start of the year, that’s me.. that’s me”.. Well the development time has almost been a year so I guess it’s not more the fair, and luckily the microphone was muted.

After the meeting the gang started looking at different things, I heard talks about one of the SMART Q4 goals, some wave stuff and such. By the way, is there anyone out there using Safari Version 4.0.3 (6531.9) on Mac OSX 10.6.2 gettings a nice malicious software warning at http://www.topachievement.com/smart.html , it does not really go hand in hand with the name of the site!? Or possibly the question shall be, is there anyone out there reading this blog?

So time flies when you are having fun, all of a sudden 10:30PM and time for Release. It was really fun to see, 10-15minutes before the release it was dead calm, but the second the mail from Christopher came it all exploded! People were running around talking to each other, a par fixing one bug calling for help from another par, Ram talking to Christopher looking for logfiles etc etc.

So we were fixing bugs and testing until 2AM in the morning, we had a chat with Barry, Lena and Per and after that the gang down here went home. Me and Ram stayed behind for a couple of minutes… Now this is something we should not have done!
At 01:58 me and Ram stepped into the elevator, going from the fourth floor to the entrance level. All of a sudden the elevator stops and we are stuck.. Ram started laughing hysterically and saying things like “It’s all your fault! Why does all the bad things happens when you Olle are here?”etc etc.. After a minute or two Ram calms down a bit, but still really happy, and we start screaming to see if there is someone left in the building who can help us. Ram screams “I can’t breath”(this was due to his laughter), and then we hear someone calling on us to be calm and that they would fix it. And so they did, the elevator had got stuck so the elevator cart was halfway on the entrence floor, the guys outside managed to open the doors manually and we could crawl out and jump out of the elevator, felt like John Mcclane. I bet Ram is stil laughing about this, since the elevator does still not work today Wednesday at 11:11AM.

Day 5 Wednesday

The morning started with me checking out of the hotel. Prasad had promised to come by to get me since Ram had to leave his mother at the bus station at 07:30AM and I had refused to get up that early! Before I left the hotel, the hotel manager came down to me to ask how my stay have been. The only thing I complained about was the weather. And as Alanis Morissette would put it, And isn’t it ironic… don’t you think, that is has been raining for 4 day, and the hotel has a pool, and on the fifth and last day it’s sunshine and hot and I’m going home.. No pool for you the gods seem to say.

Talking about gods, an interesting fact is that Lord Krishna has 16008 wifes! It’s true, Jayesh told me, and Suprita told me that he’s not really married to all of them. The woman simply feels that they belong to him. Being a love god seams like a pleasant life.
The gods thing seems to be a big thing down here. When I asked Prasad in the car on the way to the office if he knew that Lord Krishna had 16008 wifes(he knew surprise, surprise ) he started telling me about the time when his body was taken over by a dead grandfather.
Apparently every year his family has a big ceremony for dead relatives in his home village, where they somehow try to get in contact with the dead ones. They fast for something like 7days and occasionally a dead relative takes over the body of the dead relatives favorite relative. They stand in a ring, have drums and fluets that eco through the night(this can be scary to kids Prasad says). The ones not been taken over by a dead relative, sometimes get really angry and starts to hit themselves with big knifes leading to big wounds in the front of their heads(also scary for kids). But luckily the one who has been taken over by the dead grandfather, in this case, can calm the angry ones down and eventually all chill down.
But still being under influence of the religious moment, some people can do crazy shit. Prasad has a cousin that always, after he has been hitting himself in the head with the big knife, wants to take a bath.. So one year he jumped down into the village well! So now it’s somewhat of a tradition that the family always brings out a big bowl of water for him to use instead before the ritual starts.
Another thing to handle for the family is that big parts of the males in the family have big bleeding holes in their for heads,  but they have a solution for this as well. In the temple they have a mixture of different things to put on the wound, and the main ingredient is cow shit.  Make one thing about all the “oil of oley” shit we buy.

Now it’s time for me and Ram to have a meeting with the Blue Star people, after  that probably fix some eventual bugs and then take a trip to the airport for the flight home.

As always it’s great to be down here in Bangalore and work with the great people of Projectplace, but it will sure be nice to come back home and meet the family!

The Bangalore Report II – Day 3

Filed Under (Projectplace, Social) by Olle on 09-11-2009

So the third day is to it’s end, and I’m really starting to miss my family! And I can tell you, eating alone it not healthy. I even tried to contact an American who was sitting eating at the table next to me durring dinner.  I said to him “Oh my, that looks really good, what is it?”, his answer was: “Shrimps!”. Fine, I know when to back of.

Well, today started as most of the days here in Bangalore starts, Ram picked me up at the hotel at 08:00 and we drove down the crazy streets of Bangalore to the office. I really think Ram has taken my previous report to his heart, he used the breaks at least four times and the horn only like 15times on the way to office. This is true improvement.

At the office Ram got an hour or two with his friend GWT. Me, I also did something, I’m certain, but I can not really recall what it was.
At 11 we hade a great workshop on Initiatives(again) and SMART Goals, we hade some great discussion and I also finally understod how the heck I get the Presenter Screen on my Macbook and not on the projector. Why the heck have Apple decided that the default setting shall be Presenter Screen on the alternative display? Well, the meeting went really well and since I’m talking about the Bangalore team, talking about initiatives is just like pouring gazoline on an open fire. It’s great. We even managed to reach four Q4 SMART goals for the Bangalore Team.

After the meeting it was time for me and Jojo to take part in the Steering group meeting and the rest of the team went of for lunch. It’s kind of cool that it’s really easy to take part in a “committee that decides on the priorities or order of business of an organization and manages the general course of its operations”(according to Apple Dictionary) while being thousands of miles away for the office. The coolest thing is that it is possible to make funny faces durring the meeting without any one knowing(well, except Jojo that is). On my previous trips to Bangalore I know I have reported on the screaming Scrum Master in Stockholm(a behavior we are used to know), but today me and JoJo found out that the screaming Scrum Master also always spells out load everything she writes. In the normal case this is not a problem I guess, but when you participate in a meeting through Skype and the Online Meetings found in Projectplace, thinks become somewhat strange.. We heard everything that was being written before we could see it on the screen, and it was also somewhat hard to hear anyone else in Stockholm since notes was take constantly durring the meeting.. Great fun!

In the afternoon Jojo also booked some meetings with three different developers to strengthen our frontend knowledge here in Bangalore. The first meeting will start at 9AM and the last will end around 1:30PM, so we got our hands full tomorrow. I’m felling really positive about the meetings, it will be great. We will not have a normal formal interview, but instead first talk a bit with the developer, and after that we will hack together to get a better feel for the person, how he thinks about the code, how he explains his ideas and how he behaves in the par programming situation etc etc.. But we need to cut the guys a bit of slack, just imagine yourself coming to a intervju to code with me, Ram and Jojo.. I’d be scared shitless.. But we only want the best, so we will try it this time!

One of the biggest drawbacks with being in another timezone, and working with people in a different one, is that the people in the other timezone don’t understand that the other person is in another timezone.. You get what I mean? An example: At 20:39 The Rose calls me on iChat. First he softens me up with asking how things are and such before he goes in for the kill. The question is if I can have a look at some script, we don’t know which, that makes the css render a bit strange for Safari certain cases. Thanks a bunch dude.. But he promised me that he would shout bad words, mostly popular names of the male reproductive organs, loud and clear in the office if I fixed it. Unfortunately a lame VPN setting hindered me from helping The Rose, big failure, we will have a second go tomorrow!

After work Ram drove me back to the hotell, and this was the first time I really thought about what happend in Mumbai, the terror attack,  durring a previous visit in Bangalore. It sent shivers down my spine. Outside my hotel they look under every car with these big handheld mirrors before you can pass, they have metal detectors infront of the entrance and security that always goes through my bag looking for guns or such. It’s really scary when you think about it. My reaction was somewhat strange though, I asked the serious security guard going through my bad. “what is the most peculiar thing you have found”. The security guard did not answer.

Interesting fact nr 1: Today durring lunch Prasad of Blue Star gave me some wedding tips(even though he knows I’m married and all). Apparently down here in India it’s tradition that the woman get’s a lot of gold as wedding presents from friends and family, and the trick is to wed a woman from a specific religion(I wont’ say, since it’s my secret). According to well know facts the followers of this religion always get’s the most gold, Prasad even sent me pictures as proof, and I believe him! I can’t understand how they even have the power to stand up, it’s a massive amout.

Interesting fact nr 2: Ram is talking a lot about his cousins, so today in the car from the office, I had to ask him how many cousins he really has. “22″ he said. “What, 22..22!. Are you sure it’s 22?” I said. He said: “well it’s a lot at least. 17 lives in the states.”

The Bangalore Report II – Day 2

Filed Under (Projectplace, Social) by Olle on 08-11-2009

Todays report will be a short one.

After a good nights sleep the day started with a trip throughout town together with Ram and Prasad.
We where on the lookout for some christmas gifts, mostly for the kids. Durring our trip I got to see a Panasonic TV that showed everything in 3d, really cool shit.

Due to the constant raining it felt somewhat of an adventure. I got to see parts of Bangalore that I have not seen before, the really poor parts. The mix of really poor and really rich people here in Bangalore is scary.

After a couple of hours shopping, or mostly riding the car really, me and Ram hade a nice lunch and watched the last part of the cricket game between India and Australia. Well Ram refused to watch since India really sucked, but I kind of enjoyed it when Ram hade explained the rules.

After lunch Ram was longing for his new found friend GWT, so we walked back to the office.
I also finished up some stuff that needed to be done, mostly mailing people that is. And all of a sudden the time was 7:45PM and it was really time to leave the office, and that was really the end of the day.

I’m really looking forward to meet the rest of the team tomorrow, we will make sure it’s a good day!

[Update 22:47]
Now most of you will probably think that I’m lying, but this is a true story.
When I was writing this report, it felt strange to do it so early(8PM local time), the normal is a bit later, and normally more things happen durring a day in India. But I was convinced that this was it, until I realized that I needed to go down to the hotel restaurant and eat something.
Earlier today I told Ram that the electricity died like five times yesterday, and that it was a drag when I was watching the soccer game. You know, I hade to find back to the right channel and all.

But today after finishing the report, and after a not so very eventful day, I got stuck in the hotell elevator not once but twice!
I hade forgotten all about yesterday and the mode swings the electricity has here, so I plainly walked into the elevator, and placed my room key-card on the reader to go down to the restaurant. At the same time the power died, first I thought that I hade done something wrong, but soon remembered the mood swings. I knew from yesterday that the power usually comes back within a minute or so, and so it also did this time. The elevator started to move to the -1 level, probably some safety stuff, and the door opened.

But now I did something really strange, I stepped out of the elevator, just to walk straight back in again. Why did I not take the stairs, when I know that the power seems to die repeatedly and quite close in time? Well,  I put my key-card on the reader to go up this time. But to my surprise the power dies again just when I’m in between ground floor and the basement. This time I needed to wait a little longer, but not more the 3-4 minutes.

Ps, It worked the third time! ds.

The Bangalore Report II – Day 1

Filed Under (Projectplace, Social) by Olle on 07-11-2009

So I’m back in Bangalore!

The trip started out fine, at 03:50 I left the house heading for the airport.
My son, asked me the previous night why I always need to be away in India all the time, so it was not the happiest camper who boarded the flight to Frankfurt.

Frankfurt was the same, durring my three hour wait I spent some time looking at the Javascript unit tests again. It’s really strange, but these small tests is such a joy to work with. In Frankfurt I also started with the review of the upcomming book by Ellnestam, it surely is promising!

On the flight to Bangalore I got the seat dead last in the plane, and there was no space at all to bring out the laptop, so I keept on reading the coming book in the iPhone. I promise the my laser eyes sharp are not created for this.
The woman next to me was an elderly indian woman who was somewhat lost. Durring the flight I helped with for instance opening her food, holding here cup of water, opening/closing the seatbelt etc etc. She was really sweet, I think, since she was constantly speaking to me in a language I did not understand.

Arriving in Bangalore was a relief, since me and the elderly woman hade run out of topics to talk about.
In Bangalore they have upgraded their fight agains the svin flue since my last visit, they now have heat-seeking-cameras instead of doctors. Bangalore is really high tech! The only issue with this new high tech solution was that no one was watching the tv’s that showed the heat signatures. Maybe the tv’s where there to show the visitors that India hade the heat under control?
Well at least customs went well this time. When I finally got my bag, after an hour of waiting, it had a big white X on top of it. I know since last visit that this is the sign of a smuggler, and that it’s time to pay. So I tried to put my laptop on top of the big white X and went towards customs looking as confident as I could. My only misstake was that I hade missed the second X on the side of the bag, so of course I got taken by customs.

Thanks to my charm and intelligence I managed to convince the customs guy, after explaining that the great state of India probably did not mind me bringing in socks, shirts or laptop chargers, to let me through. And this even without having to pay the bribe. I felt really good when I was walking out of customs knowing that that I hade managed to sneak through the second laptop that I had in my hand luggage. Success! I hade finally beaten the Indian customs, and who are they to treat me as a smuggler?

Prasad, as always, was waiting for me ready to take me to hotel. On the way into town, on the for once empty streets of Bangalore, we talked about the TED conference(TED India is held in Bangalore this weekend), about new car models, that Prasad could talk in his native tongue to Samuel and such.
Prasad told me a story he hade heard about Toyota. Toyota hade launched a new model in India some time back in 2003 , the same time as when the offshoring of  support centras hade really taken of here in Bangalore. So a lot of the new support centras bought the new 8 seater Toyota model to be used as transportation of the employees between their homes and the offices, since they were working shifts all through the night. Unfortunately the drivers at the support centras drove like they hade stolen the cars and where involved in a lot of fatal car accidents. The Toyota car started to be referred to as a “killer car”. So Toyota decided to remove the brand new model from the Indian market, the car hade sold like “butter in sunshine”(thanks for the translation Google Translate), but Toyota did not want to smear the Toyota brand with a “killer car”. A story that surely makes one think.

After 4.5 hour of sleep I woke up at the hotel, and it’s really a nice one. Breakfast consisted of boring bacon and egg, I do not what to give the belly-bug a chance to get a grip on me. After breakfast Ram came by and picked me up to go the office.
And now something about Ram, Ram has after 1.5 years in India gone back to being 100% Indian, at least he drives and walks 100% like an Indian! He breaks for nobody, like the space balls. An example, we are closing in on the most crowded traffic junction in India(at least it felt so), and Ram refuses to break, he just turns.. By magic we made it to the office.
An other example is me and Ram crossing the street from the office to local coffee shop, Ram just walks straight out in traffic, taking me by the shoulder saying “fuck it, no problem”. The funny part is that we made it cross the street, so maybe the Indians know something the rest of the world don’t know(maybe that is was Martin Fowler really is talking about). I will test this new driving and walking technic first chance I get when I’m back in Sweden.

The interview that was planned to be held today was unfortunately canceled, due to that the poor guy we where to meet was involved in a car accident on his way from Chennai to Bangalore for the interview. Luckily he apparently was not badly injured, and hopefully we will get a chance to meet him before I leave.
So instead me and Ram spent the day talking, we hade some really good discussions and we also managed to fix a WEBDAV bug.

Kashif and Appa Rao came by the office as well, great to see them again. Appa even stayed to re-test his Google Analytics work he have been doing the past week. Unfortunately the data was not correctly submitted, but together we managed to fix the bug and also re-factor a smal part of the source code. Kaizen MF!

At 7:30PM I was ready for dinner, but Ram was not even close since he hade some bug in GWT that needed attention. But through the power of me outranking him, I persuaded him to close the computer and take me to dinner. Appa stayed behind since he was about to test “one-more-thing”!

Projectplace Bangalore is something special, it’s 10 highly skilled people with a never give up attitude, I feel really blessed knowing them!

Me and Ram hade dinner at my hotel, and a nice one it was(I think that I might have let the belly-bug in under my shield). We continued our talks and enjoyed the elevator/Las Vegas style music in the restaurant.

After dinner me and Ram called it a day, Ram drove his car home and I wrote this.

[Update] ESPN is showing the Arsenal game, success!