Jag Venugopal's Blog

January 31, 2011

Indian Chief Minister claims black magic used to oust him

Filed under: India — Jag @ 11:00 pm

Meet B. S. Yeddyurappa, the Chief Minister of Karnataka State (of which the capital is Bangalore), and a leading light of that great self-appointed steward of Hindu culture, the Bharatiya Janata Party (the BJP).

Yeddy’s forte is in doling out government largesse to temples big and small, within his state and outside, praying for political success. Never mind that India is constitutionally secular, with supposed separation between Church and State. His largesse comes from a state exchequer unable to fund any improvements to roads, water, or power in Bangalore (as anyone who has traveled there recently can attest). Yeddy is expert at enriching friends and family through grants of prime parcels of land in and around Bangalore.

Yeddy’s latest claim is that his political opponents are using “black magic” to oust him from office. Doubtless, that will lead to much propitiation of the gods, to ward off the evil effects, at temples hither and yon. I wouldn’t be surprised if he visits the odd mosque or church, to cover all bases (couldn’t hurt to win a few brownie points with the minority voters). Of course, given his exalted status, he will have to travel by helicopter or private jet. All of this will, of course, be paid by the Karnataka state government, or ultimately, the taxpayer.

The Wall Street Journal recently had a glowing op-end on the business-friendly climate in another state (Gujarat, ironically also BJP-ruled), where the Chief Minister is known for his personal probity and doesn’t have any descendants to shower government largesse on. Comparisons were made to Japan and Korea in the early stages of their growth. If one were to stretch the analogy to Karnataka, one can truly say that it is a Zimbabwe in the making.

January 26, 2011

Read my lips: DRM is Useless

Filed under: Project Management — Jag @ 7:00 am

If any further proof of the uselessness of Digital Rights Management (DRM, or “Copy Protection”) was needed, Wired Magazine has it. They have published a brief how-to designed to strip DRM from ebooks of any variety — Kindle, B&N or Sony. Typically stripping DRM was accomplished by a technically adept individual who would run a few python scripts that had various magic steps. Not any more. Now, all you need to do is to set up the Calibre e-book reader, install some plugins, and drag-and-drop your DRM infected files. The software takes care of the rest. A kid could do it.

Publishers and their lawyers can try to sue the author of Calibre, but that’s likely to be difficult because it is open source. If he stops developing it, someone else will pick up right where he left off. And if they sue the ISPs from where Calibre is downloaded, the whole show will move to a different ISP, out of the reach of American lawyers. You cannot put an open-source genie back in the bottle.

The bottom line is that DRM never worked for other media (e.g. music) and will not work for books. DRM is technically unworkable because the decryption key has to be embedded in the software on a user’s desk.

Neither is DRM commercially workable. Thanks to the Agency Pricing Model foisted by publishers upon the reading public, many ebooks now cost more than the paperback at Amazon. Users will definitely not pay more for an eBook and then have it crippled by DRM infection, such that it cannot be used on any device other than for which it was originally purchased.

Hundreds of Indian “students” to be deported

Filed under: Project Management — Jag @ 6:28 am

News out of California is that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) bureau conducted a raid on a fake school called the “Tri-Valley University”. It has 900+ “students”, about 95% of whom are desi. The Times of India says that most, if not all of them will be asked to leave.

This reinforces my earlier postings on the subject — there are many sham universities whose sole purpose is to bring “students” in to the US. The hope of such individuals is that once they are in the US, they can somehow find their way to paying jobs (legal or otherwise) elsewhere. Indeed, such was the case with Tri-Valley. They claimed that most of their 900 students were staying in the same apartment, while in fact their alleged students were spread all over the country, in some paying job or another.

To me the suprise is not that the Feds busted Tri-Valley. I am surprised about the breadth and depth of employment scams going on right under their nose, and they seem to do nothing about it. For example, there is HTIR, which I’ve blogged about previously, that is the favorite of Indian visa consultants. It promises admission in a US university, with claims that the students can work on co-op right away. The Indian consultants market this scam as a legal way to work in the USA without an H1B visa. The education part of the bargain is given short shrift by both parties. HTIR, for its part, teams up with a few bottom-rung universities, and the Indian consultants, for their part make no mention about the quality of education.

If ICE was really serious about deporting illegals, they would perhaps be sending back one 747-load each week to the old country, full of F1 and H1B scamsters.

January 18, 2011

2011 Project Management Trends

Filed under: Information Technology,Project Management — Jag @ 11:58 am
Tags:

Subtitle: Captain Obvious meets Project Management.

I recently saw a slideshow about the “Top 10 Project Management Trends for 2011”, from ESI International. I have taken training courses from ESI in the past, so I was interested in what they had to say about trends in project management. The text of the slides is reproduced below, along with my comments.

  1. Leadership skills will be critical
  2. I was getting by just ordering people around. Now I have to learn leadership skills? I need Benjamin Linus to take me back to 2010.

  3. No industry will be spared from the war for qualified talent
  4. In the good old days through 2010, qualified, competent people were a dime a dozen in most industries. This war for qualified talent is definitely a 2011 thing, and most probably brought about by global warming. Get serious!

  5. Agile will be seen for what it is, and isnt
  6. That’s a tautology isn’t it? Covers all bases. Probably in 2010 and prior, agile was seen for what it was, and was unseen for what it wasn’t? Or is it the other way around?

  7. Competency models will be core to managing professional development and promotions
  8. You really mean that there will be specific goals for training programs, and criteria for promotions? I wonder how they were managing all these years? Say, with a coin toss or rock/paper/scissors to decide which training program to take or whom to promote?

  9. Experiential learning will be the norm rather than the exception
  10. Are you saying mere book knowledge is now proven to be useless, and people need experience on the job? My goodness, we never figured that one out in the last decade. Glory Hallelujah for 2011.

  11. Informal learning will gain momentum
  12. Aha, I understand that there is this thing called “The Internets” and another thing called “The Google” which has lots of training material. Then there are these new things called “Wikis” and “Blogs” that were discovered between Christmas in 2010 and New Year . And who woulda thunk about coaching and mentoring. I’m so excited with all this new-fangled stuff. Got to make a note on my PalmPilot to read about it tonight.

  13. Project Sponsorship will become an area of focus in South Asia
  14. Why don’t you just say India? And even there, I wonder how they survived all these years having projects without sponsors. That must have been what was responsible for the Commonwealth Games fiasco.

  15. Outsourcing will remain a risky business
  16. Bummer! I was hoping I could hire hundreds of Indians half-way across the world, for 1/5th of American wages, and not have to take on any risk. That’s so 2010!

  17. PMs will team with “change partners” and use structured methods to facilitate adoption
  18. Are you kidding? We’ve now discovered the virtues of training our hapless end-users in whatever product our project produces?  What a novel concept. In my career, I’ve always created the product and thrown it over the fence. I’m so totally excited about these new things called online help and training manuals.

  19. The PMP will continue its world domination, but will no longer be enough
  20. That rings a bell. Back in the old days of 2010, whenever I admired myself in the mirror, I would always see a “PMP Halo”. People would defer to me and sing hosannas to my superior skills. Sadly that stopped happening in 2011, and I was searching for an explanation why. The muggles are figuring out that the PMP is not all that its made out to be. Time for the PMI to crank out another credential that can take the world by storm.

January 6, 2011

Meet one of those creating the new India

Filed under: Project Management — Jag @ 10:31 pm

Much news about India these days is about its shameful political class, crooked industrialists, outsourcing or call centers. But along comes a story such as this, and you begin to understand the real India, and how millions of people are pulling themselves out of poverty, refusing to accept the status quo, and changing both how they and people around them see their future. Taken individually, each such person’s achievement may seem small. Collectively, they represent an awakening of the underclasses that see a vision much larger than their present circumstances. It is these people who will drive India’s progress in the days to come.

Compared to Ravindra Misal in the story, I came to realize how little I’ve achieved. I was born at the apex of the caste totem-pole to parents in an upper-middle-class family with two secure government jobs, and did not suffer either the discrimination or poverty that he endured. Unlike Mr. Misal, my career trajectory involved private schools, going to college (funded by my parents and subsidized by the government), and when that was done, hopping on a plane to the USA for another dad-funded degree and a string of professional jobs. While most westerners see people like me as the face of the new India, I decidedly am not. Mr Misal is.

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