Project perceptions

Just come across a funny cartoon describes a typical project and the perception according to each stakeholder.

typical project

This cartoon really describe my experience with the Indian contractors.  My project description may not be perfect, but it seems the Indian guys always implement my requirement in an unexpected way.  The outsourcing firm promised a lot but the code delivered are crab.  I have to review every single line of their code to make sure nothing will blow up.  The document is not very helpful, if it exists at all.  The cost is pretty high, the outsourcing firm pockets 80% of our expense, only 20% go to the salary of the contractors.  The support is patching, the time zone difference makes turn around time very slow.  At the end, all i want is some working code.

A sign of the company is in trouble

My company is getting a new CEO. The old CEO does not have any vision, so we actually have some hope that the new CEO will turn the company around. However today I heard some news that make me totally lost my confidence in our new CEO. My source comes from the IT department, they got an direct order from the CEO to upgrade the computers in our company to Vista. The CEO seems to believe using Vista will increase our productivity. I smell there is a sign of trouble in the company. Remember, you heard this from me first.

Never mind the whole XP vs Vista debate about which is a better OS. (The answer is quite evidently obvious.) Why would the CEO care what OS the employees use at all? He should care about our business strategy, concert about our product road map, the morale of the employees, the operating cost etc. What OS to use is the last thing he should worry about. That’s the job of our IT department. Oh well! I guess he probably not aware of most engineers in the company use Windows only to write document, check emails and surf the web. We do our engineering work in Linux! If a CEO lost focus and spent time worrying which OS to use, I don’t think the company will be in a very good shape. Maybe it’s time to sell our stocks.

Blog Tag: 一起「征服世界」吧!

我一向很少玩blog tag﹐不過今次暗黑熱血影兄開的實在太有趣﹐讓我忍不住也要參上一手。事源早幾天影兄那篇「征服世界是可能的嗎?」書評引起很大迴響﹐發現征服世界原來是不少人的童年夢想。影兄特別為此開了個blog tag﹐大家交流一下征服世界的心得﹐順道糾集志同道合的朋友。有興趣征服世界的朋友﹐不妨一同回答以下幾個問題。

  1. 什麼時候開始想征服世界?
    小時候大約是小學時期吧﹐也不記得最初的慨念是來目動畫還是占士邦電影了。
  2. 征服世界為了什麼?
    人望高處嘛。有什麼理想比征服世界更加偉大﹖
  3. 你做過最接近征服世界的事?
    家中收藏有六枝槍﹐過千發子彈。
  4. 人才、資源、技術力,三者中那樣最重要?
    一定是技術力﹐征服世界總要擁有天下無敵的邪惡武器吧。

  5. 怕有英雄人物出來嗎?
    不怕﹐只要公關做得好﹐黑也可以變白。征服世界的才是英雄﹐擋我著一律是壞人。

  6. 有沒有找過其他志同道合的人合作達成夢想?
    當然想找﹐眾志成城嘛。但可以去那裏找﹖總不成登報紙請人吧。

  7. 暫時在征服世界之路上最大困難是?
    懶。

  8. 秘密基地想設在那兒?
    一定要在外太空﹐要高科技嘛。總部最好設在月球﹐又或者殖民衛星。

  9. 你覺得征服作戰有什麼必要器材?
    第一當然是巨大機械人。沒有機械人如何作戰﹐總不成用飛機大炮這樣低科技。第二是超級大殺傷力武器﹐如太陽炮﹐ 反物質炸彈之類。沒有絕對武力﹐如何統治世界。

  10. 如果你可以當一個惡黨首領,會選那個組織?
    自護公國。如果沒有白色惡魔出來搗亂﹐他們差不多可以完成征服地球的大業。

  11. 你最欣賞最想招攬的惡黨幹部?
    若正義和邪惡是對等對質的話﹐楊威利和萊因哈特當中﹐一定有一個是好人有一個是壞人﹐我就要當壞人那個好了﹐這樣就解決了軍事執行者的人選。至於科研部門﹐我選Gundam Wing那五個怪博士。

  12. 什麼時候,你會打消征服世界的念頭?
    發完白日夢的時候。

各位征服世界同好:

暗黑熱血 – 一起「征服世界」吧!(Blog Tag)
Yan’s space? – 一起「征服世界」吧!(Blog Tag)
域拉科格 – 一起「征服世界」吧之黑暗企業篇
All or Nothing – 一起「征服世界」吧!(Blog Tag)
浪漫飛行 – 一起「征服世界」吧! Blog Tag
獨臂的獨立地 – 一起「征服世界」吧!(Blog Tag)
穆穆珠寶屋 – 一起「征服世界」吧!(暗黑熱血的Blog Tag)
Voice Up – 世界征服バトン

印度遊記(三) – 咖喱物語

Curry

說起印度﹐大部份人立即會聯想到咖喱。我在印度工幹的兩個月時﹐不少朋友問我是不是天天吃咖喱。很不幸﹐我真的是天天也吃咖喱﹐吃到差不多患上咖喱恐懼病。公司附近沒有其他餐廳﹐只好在飯堂與當地員工一起食叻喱。幸好晚餐可以入公司數﹐叫車去五星級酒店吃正常的食物﹐才不至於吃到反胃。剛到印度的第一個星期﹐我還不懂叫車到城中心吃晚餐﹐只好在宿舍附近找東西吃。宿舍雖說是印度豪宅﹐但始終不是在遊客區﹐附近除了正宗印度菜外﹐就只有印度化了的西餐和中餐。一連吃了五天印度菜﹐和偽裝成中西餐的印度菜﹐我再受不了咖喱的味道。於是在星期五下定決心﹐冒死搭三輪車去大酒店吃牛扒。後來發現除了塞車外﹐其實在印度搭車也很方便安全。

嚴格來說印度沒有一樣食物叫咖喱﹐咖喱好像我們中國人的點心一樣﹐只是一個食物類別的統稱。每種不同的咖喱也有其印度名字﹐不過我食了兩個月還是分不清楚﹐只知道是紅橙黃顏色深淺的分別。正如中國大江南北的食物各有不同﹐印度南北的咖喱也有很大分別。南部的咖喱比較辣和稀﹐北部的咖喱則香和濃。我怕辣所以喜歡北印度菜多些﹐不過咖喱始終還是中國﹐日本和泰國的好吃。印度咖喱中混入太多香料﹐我吃不慣那些古怪的味道﹐當然印度人自然食得津津有味。

印度人信奉印度教不吃牛肉﹐這個相信大家也知道。不過原來在印度南方﹐很多人信奉印度教其中一個吃素的支派﹐班加羅大約有七成人口不吃肉。我公司的同事大部份吃素﹐加上公司員工不多﹐飯堂大慨因為成本效益﹐餐單也是沒有肉。天天午餐不單要吃咖喱﹐還要沒有肉吃﹐簡直比監獄的伙食還差﹐至少坐監也有腸仔雞翼吃。吃素的多數是低下階層﹐會上餐廳吃飯的是中上階層﹐所以上餐館還是有肉類供應。不過為方便吃素的食客﹐餐廳菜單上的每碟菜前面﹐也會有紅點和綠點用來標明是否素食。

印度除了印度教徒外﹐還有很多不吃豬肉的回教徒。印度教徒自己不吃肉﹐但不會抗拒上賣肉的餐廳﹐只要點自己可以吃的菜就行了。但回教徒則很麻煩﹐他們自己不吃豬肉﹐連有豬肉賣的地方也不去﹐所以大部份餐廳吸引多些客源﹐索性不賣豬肉。於是在印度吃到的咖喱﹐若果不是蔬菜磨菇﹐就多數是雞魚羊﹐其中又以羊肉咖喱最好吃。

講出來沒有人信﹐原來印度菜也牛肉的。屠宰牛隻在印度的大部份省份是犯法的﹐除了在西南部的加勒省。那個省的人民受殖民統治影響﹐多數信奉天主教或基督教﹐沒有不吃牛肉的禁忌。我在班加羅時﹐特地叫我的印度朋友﹐帶我去試加勒菜的餐館。始終在班加羅除了大酒店外﹐一般餐廳賣牛肉是犯法的﹐所以菜單上當然沒有牛肉菜色﹐要懂門路私下點才有得吃。我們點了碟印度炸牛肉﹐肉質乾爽味道香辣﹐大慨是我吃過最好吃的印度菜。至於那些牛肉從何而來﹐我不想去知道就是了。

中國人吃飯用筷子﹐鬼佬吃飯用刀叉﹐那印度人呢﹖你聽到的傳說沒錯﹐他們是用手吃飯。正確點來說﹐他們只用右手吃飯﹐他們的左手全部收在桌下﹐因為左手是用來上廁所的。對﹗印度廁所沒有廁紙﹐他們也不興用廁紙﹐不過今次是講印度食物﹐印度廁所下次有機會再說。不要看少印度人只用一隻手食飯﹐他們單手進食可謂神乎奇技﹐我也練了幾個星期才學會。食印度咖喱通常連同印度薄餅一起吃。印度有幾十種薄餅﹐厚薄煮法用料各不相同﹐但吃的原理基本上一樣。先用單手撕一小塊薄餅﹐再用薄餅點咖喱進食﹐又或者把那小塊薄餅當匙用﹐勺起咖喱中的切碎了的肉和菜。若果是吃雞脾或連骨羊肉的話﹐則印度人會直接用手拿進口。

單手食薄餅還算正常﹐印度人用手吃米飯才叫人大開眼界。除了薄餅外米飯也是印度人的主要食糧﹐他們會先把飯放在碟中﹐然後倒下小量咖喱汁﹐用手指將咖喱與飯攪混﹐搓成一小舊飯團再用手指勺放入口中。用手吃東西除了不衛生外﹐吃完後咖喱汁會殘留在指甲縫中﹐不論如何洗手也不能清潔乾淨﹐所以印度人的指甲多數很核突。

我們說起去其他國家旅行﹐ 通常其中一個賣點就是品嘗地方美食﹐這個賣點很明顯不適用於印度。沒有吃過印度菜﹐好奇貪新鮮吃一兩次無妨﹐但印度菜根本談不上是什麼美食。至於印度的飲食文化﹐受制於宗教的束縛﹐有著先天性的缺陷﹐不能與其他國家的美食競爭。至於印度人用手吃飯﹐更是沒有文化落後的表現。可幸班加羅是大城市﹐有不少正宗高級西餐廳﹐食物材料從外國進口﹐我才不用餐餐挨咖喱。不過去印度千萬不要吃中菜﹐去了兩個月我也找不到一間正宗的唐餐廳。在印度全部所謂的中菜館﹐其實都只掛羊頭賣狗肉的印式中菜﹐每碟菜也落重印度香料﹐比美北的鬼佬中菜還難吃。唯一一次我吃到接近正宗中菜﹐就是我去了大酒店的中餐廳﹐點菜時叫了個廚師出來﹐教他如何烹調我點的菜﹐才不會弄出一碟紅卜卜極難吃的東西出來。

Carbon tax and rebate

The BC liberal government is going to add a 2 cent carbon tax to all fuel starting July 1.  At the same time, we will get a $100 cash rebate from the government in the name of climate action division.  The idea is you can spent the money to lower your carbon footprint.  However with the gas price reaching record hight, I guess I will just simply spend my rebate to fill up my gas tank before the new tax becomes effective.  The government may seem generous on rebate, but the money actually come from my pocket.  In a long run, we still have to pay more tax, which is bad.

I don’t see any way we can cut our consumption on oil.  Only those who are too naive or stupid will think public transit can replace automobile as a mean of transportation.  Time is also money.  The time I wasted stuck in a bus is much more than the money I have to spent on gas.  Taking public transport doesn’t make any sense unless your home and destination is right next to a Skytrain station.  Maybe the only solution is to invent some new source of energy to power our cars.

Narnia: Prince Caspian 卡斯柏王子

Prince Caspian 魔幻王國系列的原作者C.S.Lewis是上世紀最具影響力的神學家﹐他的小說中充滿宗教意義和隱喻﹐改篇為電影也適合與教會朋友一同欣賞。去年我便是與世青節的團友一起看第一集﹐說好了第二集上映也要一起看﹐這次正好借這個機會大家出來聚舊。其實我對魔幻王國的興趣一般﹐覺得電影太過兒童向﹐可看可不看沒有所謂。不過既然與舊朋友見面﹐那一看也不妨﹐就當作增加主流文化的認識﹐畢竟電影是改篇自風靡西方小朋友的經典兒童故事書。

上集話說四兄弟姐妹誤闖魔法大陸納尼亞﹐率領各種奇幻生物﹐幫助獅子亞斯蘭反抗白色女巫。四個小孩在上集結局時﹐被送回現實世界重過正常生活。現實時間過了一年﹐納尼亞時間就過了一千三百年。在這千多年間﹐納尼亞大陸發生重大變化﹐人類王國以武力統治大陸﹐把奇幻生物趕盡殺絕。在這時候王國發生篡位政變﹐叔父要殺死王子奪取王位。王子逃出王宮亡命﹐被森林的奇幻生物所救。在機緣巧合下他吹響了召喚古代英雄的號角﹐於是四個小孩從倫敦的地鐵站﹐再次被傳送到納尼亞大陸﹐肩負起解於森林中隱居奇幻動物的責任。

情節很老土例牌大路﹐笑位不算很多。只是偶一為之地輕鬆佻皮﹐不外是王子與大哥鬥嘴﹐王子與二家姐打情罵俏。戲中最可愛的角色是老鼠劍客﹐用尾巴捲著刺刀暗殺敵人﹐還會一邊打一邊多嘴地說冷笑話。我本來預期電影會有很豐富的情節﹐可以讓觀眾細意品嘗原著想要帶出的訊息。結果很失望的戲中大部份時間﹐竟然花在不太精彩的打仗場面上。對這電影的動作場面也不可能有什麼要求﹐畢竟這是套兒童小說改篇的合家歡電影﹐太刺激血腥可會嚇怕小朋友。打鬥場面只是獨沽一扮大陣象﹐用遠鏡加電腦動畫拍攝﹐只見士兵和幻獸交戰一個個跌低﹐沒有近鏡的暴力撕殺場面。至於雙方軍隊的行軍佈陣嘛﹐小孩子領軍只能想出兒嬉的戰略。若果不是獅子亞斯蘭犯規使用地圖級魔法﹐那四位有勇無謀的小英雄恐怕不能活著回倫敦了。

不知算是好事還是壞事﹐這套電影的宗教意味很淡薄﹐若不是熟知聖經故事的觀眾﹐根本看不懂鏡頭背後的隱喻。太過硬銷傳教故然會惹人反感﹐弄得不好可能會變成票房毒藥。可是電影把原著的中心思想﹐稀釋到白開水般無味﹐自然會失落我等有期望的觀眾。今集的主題是信德﹐納尼亞世界經過千多年﹐人們漸漸不再相信獅子王的傳說。可是在最後的正邪大決戰﹐憑著四妹對亞斯蘭的信心﹐才得以扭轉全軍盡墨的命運。可是作者未免太過偏幫好人陣營了﹐原本只是中世紀軍隊決戰幻獸﹐雙方也是使用弓箭刀劍﹐軍力也大至上平等。雖說壞人有數量優勢﹐若果好人的指揮官不是小孩子﹐換個一代名將如楊威利或諸葛亮領軍﹐夠善用地形的優勢﹐創造奇蹟以少勝多也不是沒有可能。現在好人召喚魔獸獅子王﹐已經不是場公平的戰爭﹐只是單方面的屠殺﹐簡直勝之不武﹐枉主角自稱為英雄王。

第二集票房收入不錯﹐第三集鐵定開拍﹐大慨明年也要再看魔幻王國。魔幻王國系列總共七本小說﹐不知有沒有機會七本也拍成電影。我最有興趣是第六集和第七集的故事﹐講納尼亞大陸的創世記和世界未日﹐不知編劇會如何改篇劇本呢。

玩具大戰 – 古天樂

Toys Battle 行書店時看見古天樂出書﹐我竟然二話不說就賣下來。古天樂唱歌差﹐演戲普普通通﹐ 雖說他幾靚仔﹐但我又不是妹妹仔粉絲﹐沒有任何理由買古天樂的書吧。豈料古天樂這本「玩具大王」﹐卻點正我的死穴讓我乖乖付鈔﹐皆因我也喜愛收藏玩具。我早已在報章知道古天樂個超級玩具迷﹐私人玩具博物館的藏品數目驚人。他寫書分享他收藏玩具的經驗心得﹐對我等小玩具迷來說﹐實在有他鄉遇故知的感覺﹐怎可以不用實際行動買書支持呢。

說實話古仔的文筆其實不是很好﹐這本書的內容只網上博客的水準﹐不過勝在誠意搭夠。正如他在自序中也坦言﹐花二年時間寫作純為興趣﹐若果只是為賣書的話﹐學其他明星請槍或拍影集可能還好賣。此書文字內容甚多﹐相關資料豐富﹐完全超出我的遇期。每隻字也是古仔肺腑之言﹐看出他對玩具的熱愛和執著﹐我等玩具迷自然能夠引起共鳴。古仔在書中對玩具背後電影動漫的評論不很深入﹐也沒有什麼系統或主題﹐只是想到什麼便東講講西講講。不過在閱讀這本書的時候﹐卻有一份與老朋友閒談的親切感覺。例如他在書出提問一個星球大戰擁躉多年不解之謎﹐黑武士心口的幾個紅紅白白按鈕到底有什麼用時﹐不禁讓讀者發出會心微笑。

古仔的收藏品以美系玩具為主﹐我自己則喜歡收藏日系機械人。不過 玩具收藏無分國界﹐收藏喜愛玩具背後的共通點﹐也是被背後原著那份精神吸引﹐當然玩具設計本身也很重要嘛。他的最愛星球大戰﹐我雖然沒有買星戰玩具﹐但我也算是半個死忠粉絲﹐對電影情節設定可以如數家珍。看見他藏品中等身大的黑武士﹐羨慕得口水也流下來。他書中講述評論了七八個系列的作品﹐全是他玩玩具多年的感想。當然文中有些觀點我很認同﹐也有些不太讚成。不過玩玩具是風花雪月事﹐不應為著不同觀點的爭論而傷和氣。不同派係可以求同存異﹐一起分享對玩具那些熱愛。那我也不在此文批評反駁古仔文章的內容了。

說起來這本可能是香港出版史上﹐第一本講玩具收藏的專題書。就算不是絕對第一本講玩具收藏的書﹐也應該是第一本不以宅向為讀者對像。憑著古天樂的明星效應﹐希望一般人可以對玩具愛好者改觀。收藏玩具與收藏其他玩意﹐如郵票﹐古董﹐文化擺設﹐藝術品一樣﹐也是出得大場面的高尚嗜好﹐也可以是對人生有啟發性的一門學問。

Earthquake Donation

Finally, I have made my donation to Red Cross Canada for the China earthquake. I have been waiting for the company to setup the 1:1 matching program with Red Cross before I donate my money. There is no need to donate money in a hurry, victims probably won’t use all the donation until rebuilding begins, which is still a few weeks away. Now, I have made my donation and I can get check off this to-do list item. After I have made my donation, I am entitled to criticize how the China government spend the donation. It is my money after all. I have the right to see it well spent to help the victims. Definitely not on buying some over priced supplies.

Since the earthquake, I see lots of groups ask for donation in shopping mall or street corners. Most of them are just holding a box and ask people passing to donate some money. I can never understand why would anyone want to donate cash. It is the most inefficient way of making a donation. You don’t get a tax receipt for your donation, so the donation post-tax money, which is a lot more expensive that it should cost. You don’t get any 1:1 matching from corporate sponsors. I think for anyone who want to donate money, they should donate through their friends who associates with any 1:1 matching program. As a responsible donor, you got to make sure every dollar your donate will brings the most benefit to the victims.

On a second thought, why do we need to donate at all? Here are two simple facts. The cost to rebuild the earthquake area is estimated to be around $70 billion. The Chinese government has over $1 trillion reserve in its bank. Why don’t the Chinese government spent their own money to help their own people first before asking for our donation? At least the Chinese government should have a 1:1 matching program. They should take a dollar out of the huge money reserve for every dollar we donate.

CAD$1000 internet bill

My internet bill in India is CAD$1000 for two months.  Yes, it is a one followed by three zeros.  Luckily it’s none of my business, the bill is charged to the company.    The price is really outrageous but I don’t feel sorry for the company, they totally asked for it.  Here is how the story goes.  When I first arrive in India, the guest house has an internet service with unlimited bandwidth and static IP.  It works great except it is a bit pricey, but still much cheaper than $500 per month.  Some idiot in the India office decide to cut cost and switch to ADSL.  The ADSL service is not so great.  There were internet blackout every other day in the beginning and it took them two weeks to fix the problem.  Anyways, in the end the ADSL works, so I can download the latest stuff off BT in India just like I am in Canada.

To my surprise, the company went cheap and subscribed a plan with a low monthly bandwidth quota.  Any bandwidth usage go over the quota limit is 0.8 rupee per MB.  In short, I ended up using 50GB for two months.  It may sound a lot but it is still less than my monthly average in Canada.  Here is the maths for the internet bill: 50000MB x 0.8 rupee / 40 rupee per CAD$ = CAD$1000.  They company should learn their lesson that cost cutting too much will end up paying a lot more at the end.

Reasons to start a hobby

Today lunch time, one of my friends at work mentions he want to start photography as a new hobby. He was asking some more experienced photographers about which camera he should buy. Photography is a pretty common hobby, I have many friends really into taking photos. Most people pick up photography because they like expressing themselves through the picture or simply fancy about the equipments. This friend has quite an usual reason, he pick up the hobby so he will have common topic with his future father in law, who is really addicted to cameras.

Guy usually use the dad strategy when he is still courting the girl. There is not much incentive to go an extra mile to please the dad after the deal is sealed. I suspect my friend’s claim to have common topics with the dad is just an excuse. He must be really want to get into photography for a long time. Now he find a perfect excuse to get approval from his girlfriend to spend money on new toys.

Luckily for me, I don’t have to start a new hobby in order to have conversation with my father in law. My primary hobby is probably the only activity he shows any interest. If I have a daughter, it would be quite interesting to see my future son in law pick up my hobby. On a second thought, he may still pick up the hobby anyways for another reason, to protect his own safety from a jealous father in law.