Thursday, January 24, 2008

STC 2007

They said it would be an hour and a half flight from Hyderabad. The plane bunked to the left and then to the right until we could see tiny spots of green masses rising out of the sea. As the plane lost further altitude and the clouds cleared, the tiny green masses morphed into small islands dotting the Goa coastline. Some of these islands had beautiful white sand beaches while the others had ragged stone edges. Either way, the view was spectacular.

From the plane, the view of the coastline was divine. Green cliffs with grey houses, long dark tug boats and cargo carriers, small fishing boats, and the blue sea. I wished we would continue circling the airport, but the plane had already begun its descent towards the runway. The blurry golden-green paddy fields rushed up on us as we lost height. The plane now ran parallel to the paddy fields.

Huts, rusting tin barricades, construction sites ran along the plane and then the thud followed by the screeching of burning rubber against the tarmac and the sound of the air resistant flaps opening. I felt as if the plane would fall apart and fling me out of its torn body, but that did not happen. Instead the plane ran for several meters, the flaps held against the wind creating a deafening sound as if a demon’s belly had been ripped open and then the silence, almost therapeutic. We were in Goa for the 9th annual STC conference.

As we walked from the plane to the arrival lounge, I could not help but notice that the mood around had changed. It felt happy and gay. Gloomy faces lit up and crying babies smiled. As we stepped into the air-conditioned area, I saw on my right, a village woman squatting on the floor selling fish. I was aghast. How could the authorities allow village women to sell fish within the airport area? But my dismay turned to amusement as I realized that the squatting women selling fish was made of clay and placed at the strategic location to welcome tourists. Goa had me intoxicated, already!

We walked further into the airport, turned a right, then a left, climbed down a flight of stairs into what looked like the lobby of a midsize hotel – the airport’s luggage carousel area. The belt hadn’t started moving yet and then suddenly as if on a cue at our arrival, the carousel groaned and rolled lazily spitting out luggage – quite grudgingly.

And so we waited. First on the left leg, then on the right. Cursed. Cursed some more until I saw my dark green travel weary Samsonite roll towards us. We collected our luggage and walked out the EXIT door into a horde of unshaven, tired looking but grinning chauffeurs from various hotels in Goa. No one grinned specially at us or waved a meaty hand, no twinkle of recognition. I did not see my name on any of the placards displayed. There was no welcome committee, no chauffeur in white, no mid segment AC car waiting! The travel desk had messed up again!

Hotel Mandovi, the hotel we were booked into for our Goa stay has a Tempo traveler, referred to as the “Coach”, to ferry guests to and from the airport once everyday. Although the travel desk had warned me before that Hotel Mondovi provides no car for airport pickup, the Coach was surely a let down. No air conditioning and very cramped.

We were the last passengers to be picked up from the airport and the bus was already filled to its full capacity, but for two cramped seats at the back. We had to share space with a huge suitcase and couple of travelers bag. But we were in Goa and the scenery outside compensated for the discomfort of the rear seat. Pinky and I settled down for the long ride to the hotel. Travelling time from Hyderabad to Goa – a little over 45 minutes. Travelling time from Dabolim airport to Hotel Mandovi – 1 hour 30 minutes. Somewhere in between, Pinky started to feel giddy and I thought she might actually puke. Thank God, she held herself.

After we reached the hotel, we checked in and one look at the deluxe suite washed away all our angst against the “Coach”. For Rs. 6500 a night, we had 1000 sq feet of carpet area all to ourselves. The suite was divided into three sections – bedroom, a sitting area, and living room to entertain guests. We just went wow!

By the time we settled in, it was dark. I was very eager to meet Dude, my very good friend from Delhi, his wife and the kid. I have been hearing about them for years now and just couldn’t wait to meet them. I called up Dude and arranged to hook up with them at Cidade de Goa, the resort where Dude was staying. Cidade was also the venue of the 9th annual STC conference.

We hired an OMNI van, one of the several four wheelers that run as taxis in Goa. The driver called himself Joaquim and I heard that as Jamiroquai – the Grammy Award-winning English funk / soul / disco band. So Joaquim finally drove us to Cidade de Goa near Dona Paula. We drove along the river Mandovi for a while and then we could see the beaches of Miramar for a good part of the ride. The view was like mint tea after a long tiring walk.

The first thing I felt about Cidade de Goa was the breeze and the smell of sea. The lobby was well coordinated and the color of the flooring and the white of the ceiling were bathed in a dull lighting creating an intoxicated atmosphere. Everyone seemed to be in the throes of an unseen ecstasy as they walked, talked, laughed, checked-in, checked-out, or simply lounged around.

As we waited for Dude, I already started seeing familiar faces I know from past STC conferences, ex-colleagues, and friends. One thing that calls me from within to attend the STC conferences is the opportunity to meet old friends and colleagues, Dude being one among them. It’s always a pleasure to meet these people and spend time with them.

Well, I am not too sure if I ever “network” or even understand the real meaning of networking or if networking would ever help me land a job should I be looking for one.

FUCK! This is getting too long and winding. Kibitz time…………..

And yes, before I sign off for the day, I met this “auntie” type at STC. I had been reminiscing to Dude how we got Jamiroquai for 700 bucks from Mandovi to Cidade and had him wait on us for five hours. Dude agreed that it wasn't a bad deal and told the same to the auntie who was whining (read showing off) about how she spent 10K just on cabs. Pat comes the reply from the auntie, “Was it an AC or non AC cab?” I told her it was an OMNI, as non-AC as they can get. “Oh, that’s why you got it for 700. I can never imagine a non-AC cab in Goa”. Go jump, bitch!

*Auntie wears glasses, had a big bindi for her small forehead and she acts like she owns half of the company, wherever she works*. Me thinks, the word Bitch was coined just for her. Perfecto!

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Resolving PDF Problems!

You need to send that PDF file by close of business to your product manager/SME and the file won't just print. What do you do?

Listed here is a set of common PDF issues and solutions:

Pain: When you right-click a Microsoft Office file to convert to Adobe PDF, the application returns the message, "Missing PDFMaker files," and does not create an Adobe PDF file.

Solution: Remove Adobe PDF from the Disabled Items list in the Microsoft Office application.
To manage your Disabled Items list in a Microsoft Office application:
1. Open the Microsoft Office application (Word, Excel, Publisher).
2. Choose Help > About [the application name].
3. Click Disabled Items.
4. Select Adobe PDF from the list, and clickEnable.
5. Quit the Microsoft Office application, and then restart it.

If the error message continues to appear after you enable Adobe PDF, then check the security level for macros in Word:
1. Choose Tools > Macro > Security.
2. In the Security dialog, click the Security tab.
3. Choose Medium or High.
4. Do one of the following:
-- If you chose Medium, then click OK.
-- If you chose High, then continue with steps 5 through 7.
5. Click the Trusted Publishers tab.
6. Check Trust all installed add-ins and templates.
7. Click OK.

PDFMaker and the right-click context menu should function again.

For more, see

Pain: Images look fine in MS Word, but after converting to PDF, image quality is poor.

Solution: Save your image in JPG or TIFF format and embed the image into your Word document to publish using Adobe PDF printer. PNGs are not suitable for word to PDF conversion, TIFFS work much better. Use high quality print setting while converting to PDF. Also, standardize the resolution settings of your desktop (1024*768) and the DPI setting in your screen capture software.

Watch this space for more!

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