Monday, March 31, 2008

Strong Justice

Its been quite a few years that the "Strongest Man" competition is aired from the TV every new year (Nowruz). The competition is very tough and rugged but there is a very soft and smooth feeling I get whenever I watch it. Well the feeling stems from seeing a fact in this competition, a fact which can't be found anywhere else.

These guys, so huge and strong, will challenge themselves on an item, do whatever they can, try their best, and this is literally "their best", and afterwards when they are so tired and dead, stop and get a score for whatever they have shown. They never argue afterwards, they completely agree that their score is fair. Pure manifestation of justice, very rare.

There are a lot of arguments during and after competitions or generally everywhere usually. The reasons are sometimes related to random features, "... oh I had misfortune ... oh it could have been that way .... oh it should've been like that ...." and a lot of times related to blames, " ... oh that referee did this .... oh the audience ... oh my team mate did that ... "

You don't see any of that in the Strongest Man championship, the dudes always know what has happened is what should have happened. Maybe since the challenge is so primitive and pure, the only thing which is to blame is the lack of effort they have had in the previous year training, how constructive. Their minds are so relaxed.

The interesting point here is that you even see signs of coopetition in this tournament.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The King Warrior

Who is your best warrior? What a silly question, of course our best warrior is our king!!

It used to be like this. This would’ve been the answer you would have got a long time ago, the days that the expert in the domain was the leader. Warriors were the highly valued social groups and the best among them would be the king and this king would train hard in fight and always be the first in front in the battle field. Are kings still like that? Everyone knows the answer, but the idea can still be found in different areas.

The idea still exists although the modern lifestyle is trying to extinguish it.

Who is the leader in an engineering firm? Is the best engineer the leader? Is the leader a very well known manager with a business major maybe? Well actually we find both these days, but which one should it really be?

I used to be a firm believer that the leader should know management and that management can be an abstract skill, and a manager does not need to know anything about the technical domain, if you can manage a hospital, then you can manage an engineering firm or even a school. Well for ideal management, this is true and management is really the art of finding the balance and deciding about the best ways to achieve goals where the unknown parameters to balance are usually related to resources, time and money. When you only have to deal with these parameters and everything else is just like a black box for you, then you don’t really have to worry about the technical domain such as engineering.

While this is still what I believe about management, I see a problem when the manager becomes the leader. Managers being leaders are what everyone seems to accept and how modern day is forming. Now who is the leader? A leader is a person who has the abilities to make a team achieve a specific goal. This is probably the simplest definition but the important part here is the goal and knowing whether we are moving towards this goal. The goal is almost always related to the technical domain and specifying it in the first place and making sure we are approaching it are things that are specifically related to the domain and can not be abstract managerial actions. For example, a car manufacturer needs a leader to set some goals then lead as the manufacturer tries to reach the goals. Ferrari had a goal, the goal was completely technical and there were probably not many people alive who could check and see whether his team was reaching that goal. Would he have been able to do that if he had studied business and was a well known manager? Of course not, but would he need a manager and benefit from the management techniques? Of course yes. And who would be the leader? Ferrari himself.

Wikipedia on Leadership and Management.

Apple Company is Apple Company because they had a leader called Steve Jobs who was really a warrior king. Michael Dell, Bill Gates, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Ferdinand Porsche, Honda, George Lucas and Larry Elliot have all been warrior kings and what they have done can never be achieved by any MBA graduate or Management PhD.

Managers can lead teams to do ordinary things, by following predefined processes and methodologies and following strict specifications. Like what GM company does, but if you want your product or services to really stand out, then find a leader who understands the taste in the domain, can judge about quality and has passion, let this person lead and let the managers manage and worry about money, resources and time. Balancing money, resource and time by itself will never make a quality product.

This idea seems very simple but is simply forgotten a lot of times.

Let’s select our kings from the best warriors one more time.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Environment Designer

We are currently looking for an environment artist. Someone who could build 3D buildings and an environment that has a fantasy style while inspiring from ancient Persian art. At this stage of the Soshiant project, the environment art design is the critical path. We are almost done with the characters and their animations, initial background story and scenario draft is almost done.

Monday, March 17, 2008

How it should be !

There is a quote I came across very recently from the developers in a studio called Ninja Theory which is just wonderful and how I believe expectations from the work environment should be, at the end the guy says: "It’s tough, it’s fun and we’re learning all the time"
It should be like that!

Sunday, March 16, 2008


I had the privilege and honor to grab a PS2 controller very recently and experience this ultimate human creation from the digital world very recently and oh My God of War .....

This experience (this is the best word I can select for this thing since "game" is not going to define it!!) is just absolutely something unique and excellent ... perfection in game play, art, music, story, sequences ... what else can be said. It is just hard to imagine a game that could be better than this one. Excellent job done by Sony Santa Monica studios.

Products such as this which can shuffle your heart and mind are few ...

Friday, March 14, 2008

Happiness and not winning a lottery (H = kxP)

What I'm about to write is not related to winning lotteries and getting happy but it is a general search towards the dynamics and meaning of happiness in people.

Is a person happy? Usually if you ask this question from people, they will evaluate their happiness based on the reality and their will. Basically how much someone has some will compared to the reality is a measure for happiness. Is everything exactly how you want it to be? Are there lots of wishes that you have? Are things on the right track?

So lets say some things are not the way someone wants them to be, the main question here would be: “was there something this person could have done?” or the unwanted state is the consequence of events which the person had no control over? In the case that the situation could have been managed, lack of an action from the person has caused the unwanted result. The reason for this lack of action or wrong action can be any negative personal attribute such as fear, laziness, greed, etc. It would be ok to feel sad in this case since this sadness might have positive effects in the future to make you overcome the negative behaviors and make the correct decisions and eventually make things happen the way you want them to be, and hence, bring happiness to yourself.

The important discussion here is the second case where things are in an unwanted state because of events that we have had no control over. Interesting observation in this case is that many people feel sad, without thinking about it really. Do you ever get really sad when you “not win” in a lottery? What will you tell someone who is just sitting around and wishing for a bag full of money to fall from the sky? If we think deeply, we usually should condemn expecting randomness to occur. Expecting positive consequences from random events is the attribute of the weak, the strong will make things happen and will not mourn when things out of their control do not turn the way they want them to be, random events. So random here indicates anything outside our control.

A lot of times people believe that the more intelligent you are, the more you suffer in this world. They refer to knowledgeable people who always mention how things should be and indicate all the problems in the world and many times wish they were just very simple creatures with less understanding to be able to enjoy basic things in life. I highly oppose this belief. If you know a lot and know about all the problems, if there is something you could have done about it and didn’t then fine, be sad, but change yourself and try to make things better, try to be stronger, don’t just whine. But these people are usually sad because they complain about things which are not in their control; in this case I believe that this feeling is not justifiable the same way that being sad when not winning in a lottery is not justifiable. Saying your not happy because a lot of things outside your domain of control should have been different is just pure selfishness. The hard part for the knowledgeable people is since they know a lot of good states, they want to reach those good states, and for this journey they have to get rid of many negative attributes such as laziness and fear and well this is what makes it harder for them.

In conclusion, the pursuit of happiness (which was also a great movie by the way) is a convergent formula. You will pursue happiness when you are not happy, this means you believe you have problems and bad attitudes which have brought unwanted consequences for you, this will make you change, you will be stronger, the next time you should feel less un-happy because theoretically you are now stronger and that small amount of un-happiness will make you even stronger and so this is why you will converge to happiness. (by t going to infinity of course )

If your happiness is diverging and you are feeling more miserable everyday, this means you are getting weaker everyday, stop, rethink, go on, make the path a convergent one.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Back from a short trip to the happening location in the Emirates, Dubai. And what a happening place, the place is so soul-less. Nothing happens over there but degradation of the essence of life and meanings. The modern life and specially the Americanization, oops sorry, Globalization... Capitalization should be even better has turned this desert into the center stage for extreme hard work and slavery by the majority for the benefit of the very few. I've been to this place quite a few times before, had to in fact, but the show was much more amplified this time. Happening locations such as Paris, Florence or even Casablanca used to be the sources for art, beauty, freedom, courage and love once but the showcases today are manifestations of fear and suppression in the masses to be able to turn the wheels of capitalism more and more.

Go to this place for labor in the hopes of a better life for your family back home, will this ever come? And glide in an atmosphere full of containment and live daily and nightly with the fear of getting thrown out or losing the pennies you are saving, not having any freedom has taken your soul, to the point that you won't be able to live the life and feel any meanings anymore, is this what us people should do? This is what you get from the eyes first of all and the body language of the taxi driver, hotel receptionist, any seller in any store, the guy over at the restaurant, bank teller, even the white collars ...

For some reason I didn't get this feeling (not this much) while living in the states, which has quite the same model, maybe because the proportions are different over there, but this place just was so amazing.

I just believe these people could've done other things and they could've lived happier lives, not possessed by some beliefs coming from outside the borders to make you believe your need in life is other things and then show you the path to get there and take your soul in the way to just gain more control over the whole village called "Earth".

The Yin and Yang of the new age : Need, fear to lose .... you need more, more and more ... fear losing this and that ... fear more and more ....
"Hush little baby, dont say a word
And never mind that noise you heard
Its just the beast under your bed,
In your closet, in your head

Exit light
Enter night" ... and give me that useless Soul !

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Beautiful violence

If you want to know what would happen if beauty became the binding element between everything else, then watch the recent movie by Tim Burton, Sweeny Todd. The visual colors and composition is beautiful, the music and dialogs are beautiful, the character movements, emotions shown and the violence and blood is beautiful.

This is a truly different movie but very well composed. Nothing deep and meaningful but a showcase for aesthetics in overall elements.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Environment and DNAs

Paul Graham has some really interesting essays, not to mention the wonderful "Hackers and Painters" book.

This one regarding Taste and Design is enjoyable and informative line by line:

One interesting paragraph is:
"There are roughly a thousand times as many people alive in the US right now as lived in Florence during the fifteenth century. A thousand Leonardos and a thousand Michelangelos walk among us. If DNA ruled, we should be greeted daily by artistic marvels. We aren't, and the reason is that to make Leonardo you need more than his innate ability. You also need Florence in 1450."

We were having a discussion with guys at work the other day about whether we still have people like Newton or Beethoven around and some thought we do and some thought we don't but the interesting point here is that even if we do, we probably don't have the atmosphere they were in, or at least the environment is not as focused as theirs were, today we live in a world of definitions and rules and regulations that confine us and define us so much that it might be hard to float freely in a dedicated atmosphere were it can nurture talents such as Newton, Beethoven or Michelangelo.