Monday, August 3, 2009

How to excel at your job without staying late in office

Here's an excellent article I found which dispels the notion that you have to work long hours in order to be productive.

Some take aways here:

1) Talk to your boss about what measurable results he expects of you.
2) Cut interruptions. Good way to do this would be to shut-down your office communicator, phone or mobile during your 'do-not-disturb' work hours.
3) Make meetings focused and short
4) Substitute travel with WebEx and conferencing.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

'Find in Files' problem with Visual Studio 2008 (VS2008) : "No files were found to look in. Find was stopped in progress."

One fine day, all of a sudden, my Visual Studio 2008 IDE started throwing up this error message in the "Output" window when I was using "Find and Replace Dialog" -> "Find in Files" -> "Entire Solution" feature:

"No files were found to look in. Find was stopped in progress."

To resolve this issue, press Ctrl+Scroll lock and then run the search again. This solved the problem.

You could also try Ctrl+Break.


This nasty bug has also been reported in Visual Studio 2005 (VS2005).

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Is firing by IT companies legal?

With the recession looming large, lot of Indian IT companies have resorted to firing their employees.

Does the indian law allow firing?

In terms of ID (Industrial Disputes Act, 1947) Act, if an industrial establishment employs more than 100 workmen, a company may not terminate the services of any workman who has been in continuous service for not less than one year unless the (i) workman has been given three months notice in writing indicating the reason for retrenchment and the period of notice, and (ii) the prior permission of the concerned state government has been obtained for the retrenchment (section 25N of the ID Act).

It is nearly impossible and companies seldom follow the legal procedure to terminate an employee. It has to be noted that the punishment for not following the above said law is either one month imprisonment or a fine of Rs.1000 or both.

How do companies get around the law?

The question whether software companies fall under the definition of 'Industry' as defined under the ID act is yet to be answered by the courts. Companies which have hardware units (viz. Motorolla, Samsung, HCL, Wipro, Siemens, etc.) may be termed as 'industries' and therefore may come within the perview of the ID act. Other companies which are pure software/services firms, may shy away from implementing the provisions of the ID act. However, if a case is taken up in court, it is for the court to decide on the matter.

What can the government do?

The government must enact a legislation to put an end to the ambiguity of whether a software company is an 'Industry' or not as per the ID act so that the law is clear and companies don't resort to the loopholes in the law to terminate employees indiscriminately.

What to do if you are fired

Never submit your resignation. If you resign, legally you are helpless. It becomes your own decision. You will also not be eligible for the basic notice period/pay as per the employment contract.

Seek legal assistance. Know your rights as an employee. Explore legal avenues.

Don't take it personally. Don't be on the defensive thinking that you are being fired because of your performance. The decision on whom to fire depends on several factors including employee cost, skill set and future direction of the company.

Speak to your boss. He may help you with contacts to get you a new job.

Negotiate severance benefits. If it has to come down to leaving the company, negotiate the severance benefit. Typically a 'caring' company should give 2/3 months salary and notice before asking you to leave.

Employer - How to handle downsizing

Never blame it on performance - Indian IT behemoths brand their firing exercise as 'weeding out non-performers'. This practice is a barbaric way of treating employees. They are not only causing injury by firing the employees but also rubbing salt on the wound by calling them poor-performers. Is one to believe that the so called 'non-performers' were never there during boom time? These companies' performance appraisals are often a one-man's judgement (the immediate boss) of the empolyee and are often biased and politically motivated.

Explain the situation - Employees are congizant of the fact that their company is going through a bad time. Non-availability of projects is the main motivator for firing employees. Acknowledge this fact. Make it clear that this the only reason for firing the employees.

Provide a good severance benefit - Going beyond the contractual obligation and offering a better deal to the employee being fired will help the company's reputation in the long run.

Never try to 'cover it up' - Employers all too often resort to asking the employee being fired to leave the company withing 2 hours in the hope that the news doesn't spread. This is traumatic and ridiculous and will hurt the company's reputation badly. Any news of firing spreads like wild-fire.

A chance to improve your reputation - Pradoxical it may seem but by firing employees in a proper way and by treating them with respect, companies actually improve their reputation. I have heard of employees saying "I like my earlier company. They not only paid 3 months of salary after asking us to look for other oppertunities, but also allowed us to stay at home or use the office facilities to enable us to look for a job. They really care for employees".

What do you think? Does your company follow a legal/sympathetic procedure for downsizing? How are you handling the situation as an employer/HR? Please leave a comment for further discussion.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

On bench? Help yourself!

There are several occasions when you have nothing to do in office. You sit in front of your system and alternately click the tabs of your browser wondering how to kill time. Here are some of the strategies I found many people use to kill time.

Trade and make money: If you are new to this trade, here's a wonderful article to get you started. Though popular share trading sites like ICICI Direct and IndiaBulls are blocked in many companies, there are several other inconspicuous ones like Sharekhan, RelianceMoney, Religare, etc. that are accessible. The blocked sites can also be accessed using IP addresses of proxy sites like For research, if is blocked, you can try its sister site which basically contains the same information. If shares are not your cup of tea, you can still plan out your tax saving investments for the year and invest online in mutual funds through your online trading account or net-banking account

Pay your bills: It pays to pay your bills online. Not only do you save time but also you earn reward points for paying your utility bills through credit cards and direct debit facility of banks.

Read the daily news: Not able to eek out time for your daily dose of news at home? Many papers like The Times of India and The Economic Times are available as e-papers absolutely free of cost. An e-paper is an exact replica of the printed version.

Check your mail and keep in touch: Even if popular mail sites are blocked in your company, obscure ones like OngoleInfo mail must still be accessible. Create an account and indulge yourself!

Finish your chores: If your office is located in the heart of the city, you could finish off your chores like going to the bank and other offices on weekdays itself.

If you have any more ideas and suggestions, do leave a comment!

DISCLAIMER: Read your company's internet usage policy to know what you are allowed/not-allowed to do from office.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What most people forget to mention in their resumes

As you might be aware, your resume is the most important part of your job hunt and you should allocate atleast a week for preparing and fine-tuning your resume.

Here's what most people forget to mention in their resumes:
  • Understand how Job portals work - You know very well that "WinCE", "Windows CE", "Windows Embedded" all mean the same thing. But if a prospective employer (or a dumb job consultant) searches only for "WinCE" and your resume only mentions "Windows CE", his search will not hit your resume. So sprinkle all sorts of abbreviations in different places of your resume.
  • Awards and appreciation received - Even if you have got a small award or an appreciation mail from your client/boss, mention it in bold on the first page. This is a crucial factor in impressing your prospective employer and getting an interview call.
  • Client interaction and communication - Impress upon people that you have great communication skills by telling them how much you interact directly with clients through mail/conference.
  • Business angle - The manager who decides to call you or not for an interview will be impressed if you mention how much business (in dollars) your software has earned/saved for the client. This shows that you understand the business angle.
  • References - Mention (in the last page) that you can provide references on request. This gives them the impression that you are a genuine candidate.
  • Leadership role - Have you ever handled a small project/module on you own? Even if its a Proof-of-concept, mentioning it on your resume will boost their impression of you.
  • Design - Even if you do not know anything about UML or Design Patterns, mentioning that you have done some sort of small design work (Data structure design, for example) will earn you an interview call
When you apply for important companies, remember to customize your resume based on each company's requirements. For example if the position requires UML expertise and that's something you have worked on, highlight it in boldface. I know it's lot of work, but for dumb people in Hiring department who screen resumes, it becomes important

Avoid gramatical errors in your resume. If necessary, ask somebody to give your resume a reading.

Categorise your skill set based on your profeciency and be honest about yourself as you might be quizzed about each and every detail in your resume.

Last but not the least, your resume reflects your personality. If you take extra care in making your resume stand out and articulate your expertise in a neat and presice way, your employer will have a positive image of you.

All the best!

Visual Studio 2008 - Problems deploying to Smart devices

I am using Visual Studio 2008 and frequently deploy native and managed applications to my Windows CE 5.0 device. One fine day, Visual Studio started giving deployment errors.

Native applications were giving the following errors on deployment:

"Unable to start debugging"
"Catastrophic failure"

Managed applications were giving the following error:

"No such interface supported"

All the advice given in these posts did not help me:

I was able to resolve the problem by performing a system restore to a date when my visual studio was ok. This solved the problem. I also had to reinstalled .NET Compact Framework 3.5.