Sachin Sharma
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Only a Sith deals in absolutes. I will do what I must.
- Obi Wan Kanobi
- StarWars III - Revenge of the Sith


The 6 o’clock Effect

It happens in most software companies and it happens where I work. We call it the 6 o’clock effect. Starting from 9.30 a.m., we start programming with only a 1 hour break for lunch from 1.30 p.m. to 2.30 p.m. We have to prove our work daily to our CEO who comes online at 5.30 p.m.

So from the word Go, we start putting all our brains into the work at hand. Yes, the effect, as we know it, is the 6 o’clock effect – everybody goes crazy after 6 o’clock.

Roland starts staring in the void, Gaurav starts talking to his computer and I start getting absent-minded about things. Huge mental boulders, is what we have to face. Disability to think anything clearly coupled with the frustration of things not working out makes everybody loose their wits.

However, Ajay shows some of the most interesting symptoms of the 6 o’clock effect. The other day, lost in 3 threads and several structures, we saw him staring at the screen and drumming vigorously on his lips. Later we made this up – “A possibility of a programmer going crazy is directly proportional to the number of threads you use in your program”.

You can hardly differentiate a mental hospital from our office with everybody suffering from the 6 o’clock effect. If you think about this, how many programmers must be there in a mental hospital? We already are worthy occupants of one such hospital.

Well, the bright side is that it does give us something amusing to look at. This enables us to compose ourselves and start over again towards acting like a complete crackpot.
Saturday, June 25, 2005 at 10:32 PM. Comments: 3.
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Big fish eats small fish

Some time back, there was a product called Camstudio by Rendersoft Software. I used it occasionally for recording video off my desktop. Soon, I learnt that eHelp Corporation, the authors of RoboDemo and RoboHelp, acquired Camstudio. They branded Camstudio and started giving it out free. I had not become accustomed to this when I heard that Macromedia acquired eHelp and stopped distributing Camstudio. Now, Adobe acquires Macromedia.

When I first heard this, I just could not believe it. I had to fire up Google and read this FAQ before I got convinced. Yes, this is going ahead. Adobe has bought all the stocks of Macromedia. Macromedia stockholders will own 18% of the combined company. The 4000 employee strong Adobe profited by $1.6 billion in the last fiscal year. Macromedia on the other hand had a $422 million profit in the last calendar here. The two companies will eventually align behind Adobe Systems Incorporated.

Adobe has been great at producing stand-alone applications but Macromedia was a forerunner of distributed applications and web. Well, now Adobe has the best of both the worlds and they have PDF as well as Flash. That makes them a formidable force in the industry. This sounds quite logical.

In understanding the motive behind this, I realized that they have a real threat to face from Microsoft. Microsoft’s next generation operating system LongHorn seems very promising. Due in late 2006, LongHorn’s graphic subsystem “Avalon” is vector based. Yes, this is a true competitor to Macromedia’s Flash technology. With “Avalon” in, Macromedia Flash’s future will be in serious jeopardy. Do you remember Netscape?

Not only that, Microsoft is developing “Metro”. This is a PostScript printing technology. You will soon see Metro enabled printers doing as good a job. Now that is some thoughtful encroaching on Adobe PDF’s turf. Therefore, Adobe’s acquisition of Macromedia is a preemptive strike on Microsoft. With at least a year for Microsoft to unleash its full power, Adobe seems to have a definitive advantage.

To learn everything about Microsoft’s future initiatives in a moment, view Bill Gates Keynote from WinHEC 2005.
Friday, June 17, 2005 at 9:22 PM. Comments: 0.
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Diagrams, Microsoft Word and then Visio

Like all my colleagues and friends, I have been using Microsoft Word since 97 for all my academic documentation work. I use Microsoft Word 2003 now. It always has been a pleasure working with an application that we, as programmers, idolize as God. We look at Microsoft Word for almost all user interface and usability related solutions.

Along my documentation, I used various types of diagrams all the time. Versions of Microsoft Word before XP were not very good for drawing anything more than the most trivial diagrams – not to mention time-consuming. Diagrams coupled with text gave us the nightmares, especially when we wanted everything looking presentation perfect.

With Microsoft Word XP and now 2003, things did improve (as they always do). The concept of Canvas, for one, relieved us with a lot of bull-work involved with diagrams and text. However, diagrams with Microsoft Word are still time-consuming.

Today, I got Microsoft Visio 2003 installed. Well all that I said about diagrams with Microsoft Word is just not there anymore. Before, I had only heard about Microsoft Visio. Today, when I used it for the first time, it took me hardly 5 minutes to start drawing a basic flow chart.

Just drag and drop shapes. Double-click to add text. Drag and drop connectors and you have your diagram. Think representation and easily build presentation quality diagrams – that is how I would think about Microsoft Visio. It seems like this is going to be a constant companion for my diagrams. I will be exploring more soon.

As this post indicates, I am a huge fan of Microsoft and their products. No one in the world can build applications as good as those that Microsoft does.
Friday, June 10, 2005 at 10:51 PM. Comments: 1.
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I am a blogger now

I spent some time looking for a tool that will enable me to create blogs and host it directly on my website at I wanted templates and customizability.

I frequent my friend Harshal’s blog a lot. He has hosted his excellent blog on This is where I found out about this great service. As an afterthought, what I was looking for was a desktop version of “”.

I now have my website and blog integrated quite well. Only the advertisements on Geocities will give my tight integration away. To achieve this, I wrote a brand new Blogger template from scratch. It is not perfect yet and neither complete - but it does the job for now.
Wednesday, June 08, 2005 at 10:57 PM. Comments: 3.
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