Why don’t you leave office at 6PM?

Before I quit my job, I worked for two software companies for 4.5 years and I followed one rule throughout: reach and leave office on time.
Six ‘o clock and shut the lid of my laptop, pack my backs, pick my helmet and stroll away gently as most of my colleagues look at me in awe. Most would often say, “Tera sahi hai yaar, time pe nikal leta hai” (“Your life is set mate, you leave on time”). Some would even consider me gutsy.
Guts? Why guts?
I didn’t use to leave office because I had less work or I had lesser respect for the job.
If you’re spending more than 8 hours at your workplace and soak in the glory of being a busy workaholic ideal employee, then it’s time you come out of your whimsical ignorance.
Most people stay in office late due to two reasons:

  1. They are inefficient.
  2. They fear the status quo.

Let us quickly go through the whole process of how a few inept men spoil the whole work culture of an office:

Stage 1: The inception

One inefficient person is enough to get the loop started. And if that person is at a mid-managerial level where she has a bunch of subordinates, then the process speeds up. At the beginning the person(let’s name him Pranay) reaches office almost on time. (say 10:15 AM). Due to his inefficient work habits, he has to stretch beyond 6 PM. So, being a bachelor and no or less life outside his cubicle, he happily works till around 7:00 PM)

Stage 2: The loop

The next day, Pranay reaches office a bit later than usual(say, 11:10 AM so that he can proudly boast that he worked late the previous day) and leaves office at around 7:15PM). The loop starts off with a little delta and over the time, Pranay’s usual office reaching time becomes 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM. And he leaves by around 8:00 PM.

Stage 3: The herd

Obviously, Pranay schedules his meetings late and his subordinates starts to follow his time pattern. Most of the subordinates, being young and relatively new to the industry with less work experience, try not to upset their manager (Pranay) and some even try to impress him by leaving only after Pranay had left office. So on an average, the leaving hour of Pranay and his team stretches way beyond 6PM to around 9:00 – 9:15PM. Most of them don’t actually do any work of relevance & just warm their seats lest they might be tagged as an unmotivated, disinterested employee. (Appraisals are nearing)

Stage 4: The magic of compounding

The pattern soon compounds itself to encompass the whole team. This is mostly because most teams work together. At a point, there’s no one in office to appreciate your punctuality. So damn you, if you reached office at 10:00 AM; no one’s there to work with you, or notice you or appraise you for your punctuality.
But when you leave office on time, almost everyone would be there to judge you.

Stage 5: The status quo

So the normal working hours of the whole team soon becomes 12:00 PM to 9:30 PM and beyond. And the status quo is set. Anyone not following the pattern will be tagged as a rebel & disinterested worker. Congratulation, your work culture is now fucked up; all thanks to one inefficient employee.

I’ve heard stories where some great companies don’t let one black sheep spoil the whole herd. They shut down all operations on time.
If you’re spending more time than allocated for a task, then be sure that you’re doing it wrong. Or perhaps, you’re not the right person to do it. Period.
What is your opinion?

How to enable Gzip on Amazon Elastic Beanstalk with Tomcat and Apache

Follow these steps to enable gzip on Amazon EBS

Step 1: 

  1. Create a top-level directory named .ebextensionsin your source bundle.
  2.  And create two files in it as shown below.

The contents of enable_mod_deflate.conf

# mod_deflate configuration
<IfModule mod_deflate.c>
# Restrict compression to these MIME types
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml+rss
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-javascript
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/javascript
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE image/png
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE image/gif
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE image/jpeg

# Level of compression (Highest 9 - Lowest 1)
DeflateCompressionLevel 9

# Netscape 4.x has some problems.
BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4 gzip-only-text/html

# Netscape 4.06-4.08 have some more problems
BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4.0[678] no-gzip

# MSIE masquerades as Netscape, but it is fine
BrowserMatch bMSI[E] !no-gzip !gzip-only-text/html

<IfModule mod_headers.c>
# Make sure proxies don't deliver the wrong content
Header append Vary User-Agent env=!dont-vary


The contents of myapp.config

        command: "cp .ebextensions/enable_mod_deflate.conf /etc/httpd/conf.d/enable_mod_deflate.conf"

Step 2:

  1. Connect to your EC2 instance
  2. Restart Apache server with the following command

$ sudo /etc/init.d/httpd restart 

Step 3: 

Head straight to HTTP Compression Test to check if your server is sending out compressed data.
Kick ass.

Why did a cancer patient travel 260km all alone to meet my dad?

The 7 hour long bus journey of a cancer patient

On Wednesday, 2nd Feb, 2011, a cancer stricken patient got on a State Transport bus from Guwahati to start a 7 hour long journey to reach Numaligarh, a small town near Golaghat, Assam. After reaching Numaligarh, he walked for 20 min, under the sun, to finally meet my father. The first thing he asked for was a glass of water. He was all alone. But, for what purpose?

The background

I would like to share my fathers’ story first.
My father a chemical engineer by education and has dedicated his entire life to serve Numaligarh Refinery Limited, a public sector Oil Refinery in Assam. From the very inception of the refinery, my dad has been instrumental in building up the whole company. Just a few days back, on 31st Jan, 2011, he retired from his glorious & meticulous service life as the General Manager of the Refinery.
In 2009 my grandmother (Mother’s mother) was diagnosed with Esophagus cancer (cancer of the food pipe). Our whole family tried their best to give her the best of known treatments.
Chemo-therapy was painful & expensive. And as the food pipe was infected with cancer cells, she could barely eat. My mother and my aunts used to serve her food. The sight was heart breaking. But my grandmother was a strong lady, she never complained. Silently, she expired, in the later part of 2009, in her sleep. My mother used to sleep with her and on that fateful morning, she woke up to find her dear mother exist no more.
The experience was so powerful that it infused a rebellious passion in my father’s heart.

The research

The year was 2009. My grandmother was still alive. My father started to read books and dive deep into the infinite whirlpool named The Internet looking for missing strands of solutions for cancer. After dozens of books and months of self-study, he realized that not only cancer can effectively be cured but also proactively defended against.
In medical terms, his answer is Alternative Medicine. The word alternative is a misnomer. Any treatment method, medicine which is not approved by the Medical Association of America isn’t treated as mainstream medicine/method. Hence the name alternative. But alternative doesn’t mean any tantrik magic. My father’s research shows that cancer can be cured with a variety of natural methods which involve intake of vitamins, herbs and other naturally available items.
But the question arises that why is the medical fraternity shying away from accepting these solutions. The answers can be many. E.g. Vitamins can’t be patented and sold for profit. Are herbs expensive? I’m not going to discuss any of these reasons here because that’s a different discussion (& controversial too) altogether.

Declaring war

My father decided to raise a crusade against cancer and influential medical organizations/institutes/entities who has purposely decided not to approve of various proven techniques. He started to publish a series of articles in an Assamese daily and named his articles ‘Canceror Answer’ (translation: Answer to Cancer). The articles created a furor in the medical world in Assam. It was an instant hit. My father started receiving multiple calls and visits for suggestion/ help. Let me remind you that he ain’t a doctor. So he used to carefully study the patients history and current situation, research on the same and suggest supposed remedies.
The vitamins were supposed to be ordered from Mexico & online payment is the only way to make a payment. My father took the pains of ordering the medicines by himself and handing them over to needy patients.
“What are you going to do after your retirement, dad?”, I asked him one day, while traveling in our car.
“I’m going to serve the people”, he replied, looking out of the window at random people walking down the streets.

A few good men

The reach of the local Assamese daily was limited to only a particular group. Hence to spread the message to everyone, my father decided to consolidate every article in the form of a book. One of my dad’s good friend and a great Samaritan volunteered to share the publishing price. Since the motive was to make the book available to even the poorest of the poor, my dad decided not to draw any royalty from the book sales. The book was launched in December, 2009 at a very affordable rate of Rs. 25 only.(approx 0.46 USD)

The pattern

There’s a common pattern among cancer patients. The family members seek mainstream medical suggestions/treatments. Chemo-therapy etc. follows. Doctor gives up and discharges the patient while asking the family to take good care for the remaining days. It’s then that the family/patient fancies an alternative treatment. So most of the patients who sought dad’s advice were mostly on the verge. Still, my dad’s initial motive was to relieve the person from his pains so that he can at-least die peacefully.
Patients, on whom, even the doctors had given up, started recovering. But as they approached dad at a very later stage, were so severely affected with cancer cells, that it was difficult to recover them fully. But yes, the medicines were working.

It takes time

It takes almost 7 days to get rid of even common cold. Hope you can imagine the situation with cancer. The number of patients seeking dad’s advice swelled to large numbers. Calls on his mobile, visits to our home, to his office increased. Most of his patients were getting results. The word spread like wildfire.
We were all having our lunch when dad received a call from an middle aged cancer stricken lady. As the speaker phone was on she stated her desire to meet dad, but dad clearly told her that he ain’t a doctor.
She replied, “The real doctors have given up hope on me. You’re my doctor. A person who fights till the end to save a life is a doctor, not someone who gives up”.

The 30 year old lady

A 30 year old lady was diagnosed with cancer in the early part of 2010. She refused to believe it and went to Mumbai for a second investigation. There too she got the same results. Indeed, she was suffering from cancer.

The joy of saving a life

On 7th Jan, 2011, my dad received a call from the brother of the same 30 year old lady. He called to convey the news that his sister’s latest reports claim that there’s no evidence of cancer cells in her body. She had been consulting and taking medicines prescribed by my dad since the past couple of months. My mother, sister and I smiled and probably grandma looked upon us silently. And probably only dad felt the joy of saving someone’s precious life. That was dad’s first success story.

The story has just begun

Today dad attends to visitors from all over India (mostly from Assam & North Eastern states). He has translated his Assamese original book into English & has offered it as a free e-book (get it here: Download e-books). Many of those who consulted Dad for alternative medicines are getting results & recovering slowly. He has a total of 10+ success stories of complete cancer recovery under his belt. He has formed an NGO named Po’ritran and recently laid the foundation of a non-profit Alternative Therapy Hospital where remedies and medicines are provided. He’s busy these days nurturing the NGO so that funds can be collected to help the poor cancer stricken. You can learn more about his vision at his personal website: Dilip Kumar Goswami
A motivational video I saw sometime back left a deep impression on my mind. It showed Mahatma Gandhi during the famous Dandi March & the subtitles read, “One man can make a difference”.
My dad just proved it to me.