I was late for work – forgot to set the alarm, no time to warm up the water, breakfast not ready. After a freezing cold water bath and a glass of milk rushed to the railway station climbed up the floors only to find out that there was a power supply problem and the next train will take as much as 30 mins. I was at the height of frustration. So were others, loud sighs and angry faces everywhere. I noticed a toddler, could not be more than 2 yrs old. On comparing the face of the child and the rest of us in the railway station the kid was in a different world. How true, this child need not worry about the complicated things happening around.

My mind begun to travel back in time and reached a point where my family had been on a summer vacation during my primary school days. On our return we rushed to the railway station platform just to know that the train is delayed. I was a kid and my bro a toddler, both started playing in the platform and my mom had a tough time keeping us within her reach. My dad appeared too anxious and kept on glancing at his watch, then the platform, and also keenly listening to every announcement. In the middle of the play my bro and I asked for dairy milk chocolates from the platform stall, in the height of his frustration my dad gave a red eyed look. There were no words exchanged but the message was delivered, the next moment the disappointment vanished and we were playing again. When the train arrived, all the people rushed to their reserved berths, I didnt want to break the game and move on; But a cold response from my mom made me budge in to the train compartment. I heard my dad cribbing that he is going to end up late in office tomorrow and my mom was worried that she will have less time to pack us to school. I just remember lying on the berth, when I woke up I was at home. My dad’s was hurrying up for office literally stamping and kicking everything on the way before he finally left for office. My mom was so busy that she would have wished that she had 10 hands. “Apart from children and monks, can you point a person who is living their life?”, yuppie I was living my life. I took the same time to get ready to school; no rush, no thoughts running at the back of the mind. Business was as usual for me.

I did a comparison of myself in these two different time frames.

1. When the train was late, I didnt care; but now, lots of processing going on how to push the day.
2. When I didnt get something, I was dissapointed but carried on with what I was doing; but now, disappointments grow into frustration.
3. When it gets late for me, I didnt speed up; but now, I run at break neck speed.

When we all were children we wanted to grow up faster, begin to earn, spend at will and enjoy life. When we grow up we wish we were kids and lived under the shelter of someone. The grass always looks greener on the other side, but we cannot get back to the greener past.

I like the train journeys more than any other form of transport. Lots of thoughts come to my mind only when I travel in the train. You are pretty relaxed observing the scenery outside incase you are travelling through the suburbs or country side. Watching sunrises and sunsets from the train is not an everyday treat. The feeling cannot be described when you watch the bright red globe appears to race between the trees, mountains and building. For a brief moment when you get a clear view, you will forget to blink………more pictursque is the view of the early morning sun just above horizon streaked by thin clouds. I used to wonder, cant the whole day be as beautiful as the sunrise?

Urban train journeys are not pleasurable, lots of people travel by train to work during rush hour jam packed into coaches. I happened to be at a train terminus during a rush hour. When an empty train came into the station people rushed into to grab the seats so that they spend the rest of the journey with comfort. There is nothing new I noticed in this behaviour but the one which I observed for the first time was the way in which the people occupied the seats. I expected the seats to be occupied sequentially from the first seat to the middle row of the seats which are equidistant from another set of doors. Say the coach had seats numbered 1 to 100 with three doors front at no 1, middle at 51 and back at 100. People entering front door should have occupied 1,2,3 so on, people entering the middle should have occupied 50,49,48 or 51,52,53 so on, but I noticed something different. The first seat was occupied, then the middle one, then the middle of the first and the middle and so on until all the seats are filled only by filling the middle seats in between occupied seats. The seat number 1 was occupied then the next person chose somewhere in 20, the person after that chose in the 10s and next one chose between 1 and 10. The coach was full in less than a minute and there were no seats left empty, yet why did people choose to occupy the farthest seat from the next person even though the train is going to be full. Is that few seconds of sittting alone is valuable?

I got an answer when reading for the exams, humans have a space bubble built around them. This is classified as public, social, personal and intimate space. As far as possible the personal space territory will be defended by all people. It gets breached only incase of other things getting higher priority. This is explained by the way seats were occupied, people tried to keep as much distance as possible from the strangers, but when the number of vacant seats became less they were more willing to sit next to a stranger. When the train was overcrowded they didnt mind standing brushing against each other. From that day onwards whenever I visit some places like cinemas and auditoriums, I keenly started noticing the way the seats are occupied. Quiet astonishingly it is occupied the same way almost every where.

I told to myself and conciously avoided to follow the midway theory, so when I got on to a train to my native late in the evening I occupied a seat next to a stranger in a sparsely crowded coach. For a while he pretended to look for someone and then eventually went out of the train just to come back and occupy a different seat. I know, the midway theory is working.

Which seat will you occupy when you board a train? I guess the answer is quite obvious, the middle seat.

I often come across the illusion that a productive day for a developer is to churn out as much code as possible. This illusion creates an  expectation to keep coding for the whole day and cut short time to design, reflect or retrospect.

Measuring programming progress by lines of code is like measuring aircraft building progress by weight

The answer to the question of measuring productivity is very difficult especially in the application developer’s world. Every one wants something such that it either enables them to earn more money than what they spent on acquiring it or it gives a sense of satisfaction on using the product (Essentials and Luxuries). Same is the case with every business who wants a software and present the consultants with what software they want most of the times instead saying what is the problem they are trying to solve.

It is expected of every programmer to make sure what we do is what the customer really needs instead of being a human translator to get specifications into working software. After a careful analysis we may even have to ditch the requirements or spend more time in sharpening the tools get usable working software soon, most of the times do both. I came across this post by John D Cook, who illustrates that sometimes a programmer can be 10 times more productive than his/her peer but it will not be obvious at all.

Numbers are useful mostly to indicate an absence of something. If we concentrate on creativity and problem solving instead of  getting some numbers on board we would end up being very productive.