Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Individualism and Collectivism and Metryingtolearnthemism

I had no siblings till the age of 9. There were no many people in my village. At least about 200 meters distance to the next nearest house from mine. Most of them in my village were farmers. There were no political parties or much influence from politics.  People didn't have much social interactions. Religious/civil ceremonies such as weddings, Hindu religious celebrations, Cultural celebrations and Friday prayers at temples were the main source of social interactions. Most of them knew most of them by name in my village. Brought up as a single child till my age of 9 with ample nurturing from my parents, aunties, uncle and the isolated environment I spent my childhood shaped my character  and somewhat make me a person who likes exclusivity and solitude.

The nineteen nineties was the peak time of civil war; my village was under the control of LTTE. People didn't have the luxury to watch TV nor had telephones, therefore no influence from the world outside.  School, home and sometimes playing cricket or football were the only things in life. On the positive side, no much people to influence my thoughts. I spend most of my times at home - claiming in the trees and picking mangos:),  disassembling and assembling my bicycle, decorating my bicycle with LED lights,  playing with electrical gadgets,  riding my motorbike, changing the carburettor settings and trying new things on my motorbike, doing mechanic works on my custom made 'water pump + generator' thing and playing in the tractor.  I didn't need a license or Helmet to ride my bike in my village when LTTE ruled the area.

I feel very fortunate to have had the independence of a sort and the ample time I had, to sit alone most of the time and wonder about things on my own. This freedom and the isolation had a profound effort on my character.  At the time, I didn't understand or develop any ideas on how to live and work with other people in harmony, how groups work, tolerance,  the expectations of society, sacrifices to be made for others for a greater good for everyone, how my actions affect other people  and what is expected from me by the society.
Individualism or perceived separation from society is as absurd as a suicide.
― Leo Tolstoy
I wanted to wear what is comfortable not what is convention, whether to a wedding or funeral or to temple. I didn't see any point in wearing something not comfortable to a wedding just because it's what accepted by society. I had no clue as to how my choices affect other people because I did not grow up interacting with many people in the society nor exposed to social issues.
Individualism and Collectivism and Me trying to learn them
Harmony - Photograph @ Watford, UK. 2009 © JEYARAMJ.COM

When my family move to Colombo, I was forced to deal with many issues I had no knowledge of handling.  Mainly because I didn't understand why people do what they do. The expectation in our collectivist society is that when everyone says yes, you say yes. Initially, the issue of having to say yes when the group say yes tormented me. I could remember many situations I couldn't stand being a part of a group; in the school; in tuitions. Frustration, angry, disappointment and sadness were the emotions as a result of not being able to adapt to a place where collectivism runs. Sri Lanka is mostly a collectivist country, not much of an individualist country. This struggle continued about half a decade. To learn the realities and familiarize myself with social and cultural practices, and to make some friends, only I know how much I had to suffer and sacrifice.

On the bright side, pursuing to know new things and trying understand social stigmas gave me difference experience about things and people. In this regard, there is a range of metaphysical (the branch of philosophy that talks about the principles of things, including abstract concepts such as being, knowing, identity, time, and space.) subjects caught my attention.  I started finding information on anything relating to the issues I found difficult to deal with; starting with interpersonal skill development to psychology and social norms. Only in my early twenties, I started to understand that how other people think of me affects me a great deal, positively or negatively.

From a range of interesting topics in metaphysics, I thought of typing (not writing:) ) post on individualism and collectivism from the tiny bit l learnt and from the book I read nowadays. Baboon Metaphysics by Dorothy L. Cheney & Robert M. Seyfarth is one of the most interesting books I could suggest you read which talks about Human life and how it is conducted within a network of social relations, social groups, and societies.

Now.,  Individualism is the idea that the individual’s life belongs to him and that he has an inalienable right to live it as he sees fit, to act on his own judgement, to keep and use the product of his effort, and to pursue the values of his choosing. Collectivism is the idea that the individual’s life belongs not to him but to the group or society of which he is merely a part, that he has no rights, and that he must sacrifice his values and goals for the group’s “greater good.” According to collectivism, the group or society is the basic unit of moral concern, and the individual is of value only insofar as he serves the group.  (https://www.theobjectivestandard.com/issues/2012-spring/individualism-collectivism/ , Accessed 4th Oct 2014)

Yet there are still people who confuse individualism and selfishness.
― Albert Camus

In our society, in Sri Lanka, or in the world, I have no rights except those which society permits me to enjoy. From the day we were born till the day we die the society permits us to enjoy certain things so-called rights and deprives the others. We don't have a choice but to obey these as we all have to live sharing this one earth. I do not have a problem with the fact that there are rules or we can't do certain things for a greater good of the community. I could very well understand that it's almost impossible to live without rules. But the conceptual deference between individualism and collectivism is not about whether to have rules or not, it's about how well we could act on our own or question authorities.
Individualism and Collectivism and Me trying to learn them
Harmony - Photograph @ Gampaha, LK. 2012 © JEYARAMJ.COM

Every single day we are controlled, monitored, judged, manipulated and punished or awarded by authorities, leaders, governments and corporations.  From the day we are born, we are brain washed to act in a certain way. This type of conditioning allow many of us to limit ourselves and kept in dark that we have to go through very negative things that otherwise we wouldn't go through. What am I talking about now? Let me try to list some of the things I find irritating because of the group pressure or because there is a tiny bit of collectivist social behaviours or some other social conventions.

  1. In one of the projects I was working for we had a new manager. On the first day, he had a meeting with us and told "I want to talk to those engineers who say I can't test reasoning that it's QA job. I want to talk to those who say I can't do managerial work because it's managers Job. I don't like to keep people in my project those who are not willing to work with others and share the workload… ". Most of our team members who were refusing to do any managerial jobs or testing jobs were quite and ever since we had the meeting we had to do few managerial things.  If he had told me this in person, I would have definitely given him an explanation saying why it's not a good idea. None of us told anything objecting our new manager because, I believe, it's the bystander apathy psychologist talk about.  Sometime I have had wished that I had told the manager that we can't,  when I had urgent development works to do and also had to do some of the managerial tasks we willingly undertook. This might not be an ideal example, yet the point is that sometime we willingly respect the authority and allow them to control us as a group we wouldn't do that as an individual.  Collectivist cultural background contributes to this kind of group behaviours, I believe. Collectivists believe that prioritizing group benefit over individual benefit creates harmony and betterment. Individualists believe that they are responsible for their own actions not the group, so prioritizing own benefit over group benefit is more appropriate.
  2. One of my school friends got married last April and our class mates were invited. I noted on my phone the date and location and forgot about the wedding till the notification pop-up on my phone. I requested a short leave from work, bought a gift and went to the wedding with the clothing I normally wear to work. I didn’t think even a little about what other people would dress or how I would be looked-at in the wedding. Every one of my class mates were wearing suits and were in one place as a group. They looked at me weird and asked me “what are you wearing?”. One of my friends told me that he called the others and found out that they will all wear suit. It was crazy for me to understand they had called everyone to know what they are going to wear for the wedding. The fact that they all were in the suit and I was in a denim and shirt made them feel uncomfortable to keep me in the group. It’s really surprising for me to understand how clothing could make people feel connected and how one person could become a stranger wearing different dress.  In this there is a dissonance between those who feel majority wearing the same and the one or two don't wear what the majority wears. I believe this is also might be because of the expectation from a member of a group should adhere to the group's values and practices.
  3. At work, whenever we have a meeting or any announcement from the management, most of our team members will be invited and at the end the discussion the person who holds the meeting or make an announcement will ask from us as to whether we have any questions.  Only a few of them ask some questions and others don't ask even if they had any question. It's definitely a cultural/racial thing I find among Sri Lankans, at least in the people I work with. Whenever I ask questions in the meetings or forums, I have my team mates coming and trying to comment negatively condemning that I ask the question or how stupid the question was or they knew how the management would answer backing the company. The fact that one person ask questions differentiate the person form the rest of them don't ask any questions.  There might be different reasons why this behaviour among our team members, but for a small degree that they don't like to ask question because the group doesn't encourage asking questions.
People in the collectivist countries tend to prioritize the group goals over individual ones. While this increases the harmony and connections between people, it is failing to question authorities and failing to look at the alternative views. This leads to a situation where fewer opportunities for constructive criticism and alternative ideas. This could be one of the reasons why we see fewer innovations in collectivist Asian countries than in the individualist western countries. This collectivist culture essentially ends up diminishing creativity and innovation, in my opinion. People should be allowed to question authorities, criticize, act on their own judgments, enjoy the fruits of their own labour without sacrificing the whole for the group and go outside the boundaries to invent new things. 


“The word "We" is as lime poured over men, which sets and hardens to stone, and crushes all beneath it, and that which is white and that which is black are lost equally in the grey of it. It is the word by which the depraved steal the virtue of the good, by which the weak steal the might of the strong, by which the fools steal the wisdom of the sages.
What is my joy if all hands, even the unclean, can reach into it? What is my wisdom, if even the fools can dictate to me? What is my freedom, if all creatures, even the botched and impotent, are my masters? What is my life, if I am but to bow, to agree and to obey?
But I am done with this creed of corruption.
I am done with the monster of "We," the word of serfdom, of plunder, of misery, falsehood and shame.
And now I see the face of god, and I raise this god over the earth, this god whom men have sought since men came into being, this god who will grant them joy and peace and pride.
This god, this one word:
"I.”
― Ayn Rand, Anthem




Farewell.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Everything is a miracle

Last Wednesday morning, I wanted to go to work early, complete my tasks doing a fine job and wanted come home early to start organizing my things in our new rented house. The house move made everything out of order lately. So, it was a must that I had to do something about my slightly changed new life. I was able to realize that I was physically running out of energy and started feeling lazy and had no motivation to correct things. I was thinking that the recent rainy climate or the wounds I had in my knee for sometime now might have something to do with my laziness. As I start my day at work that morning, I was able to feel an extreme pain in my body and felt really cold, way too much than usually caused by the air conditioning system.
How illness makes me see the world
How illness makes me see the world

Immediately informed my colleagues, completed my morning tasks partially, had my breakfast at office and with a million things in my head decided to go home applying sick leave. Usually I'm not a person who prefer to go to doctor. I don't even remember the last time I went to see a doctor. I thought as most of my friends had virus fever in the recent past, I must have got the same. The virus fever I'm talking about stays for a week whether you like it or not; whether you take medicine or not and then disappears itself. A little rest would do the trick. All I was able to think was, how could I quickly let the week pass and get back to normal. I couldn't think very clearly due to the heavy fever and the agony caused by the fever. Just took my bike and got out of the office with the intention of just going home and sleeping.

Now that I come to think of it, about two weeks after, almost got through this dengue fever fiesta, it's an absolute miracle that I'm alive today. What are the odds that I'm alive today, really.. if we think of the places we should have been already dead, it's crazy. Let's me just try to only layout the possibility of me being alive surviving dengue.

  1. Deciding to go home without continuing to stay at office - 50 %.
  2. Deciding to go and take medicine without going home and sleeping - 50 %
  3. Deciding to go to doctor without just going to pharmacy and taking some medicines - 50 %
  4. The doctor I found being competent enough to figure out that this could be dengue and asking me to do a blood test for dengue and full blood count - 50 %
  5. Me actually going to take a blood test after two days - being a person never took a blood test and didn't think for a second that I might have dengue - Should actually be 1 %, but let's just say 50 %.
  6. Going back to the doctor with the believe that I don't have dengue and finding that I have dengue and low platelet count and getting admitted to the hospital - Again, should actually be less than 1 %, but let's just say 50 %.
  7. Having had enough platelet count that the hospital was able to saline my blood with NaCl (0.9% ) water and manage to get the platelet count increased. - 50 %
so, that makes 50% * 50% * 50% * 50% * 50% * 50% * 50% = 1/2 * 1/2 * 1/2 * 1/2 * 1/2 * 1/2 * 1/2 = 1/128. It's less than one percent.


Even if we leave the part "Go home without staying at office" which doesn't make much sense, I get roughly about 1/64 chance of not dying; 1/64 chance of being alive. :) 

Just for a second, if we really sit and think the situations we should have been dead, it would really freak us out and to let us start wonder that what it is keeps us safe from all those harms could have happened to us. Escaping from war, chikungunya, chickenpox, street accidents, natural disasters and etc.. Is there any internal brain functionality works and makes us choose the right things to keep us safe. I couldn't really understand. I like quotes a lot and specially Albert Einstein's quotes makes more sense to me in most cases. 
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” 
― Albert Einstein
 The only thing I was allowed to do past couple of weeks is sleep(taking rest). The only thing I can do when I lay on the bed and find myself not able to sleep, think about things and get my brain tired to go sleep. There were some useful chain of thoughts and found myself few useful lessons to be learnt from dengue disaster. Please do not ignore the following, if you like to be happy.
  1. Kill every mosquito you see then and there. Buy a mosquito bat/spay or whatever it can kill mosquitoes.
  2. Kill everyone who ignore mosquitoes and doesn't want to do anything to get rid of them.
  3. Drink at least about 100 ml water or liquid every hour.
  4. Eat a lot of fruits and have a healthy diet.
  5. Take plenty of rest. Sleep enough.
    ( I sometimes try to run really fast without knowing where am I running. Now I have to remind myself to slow down and take rest. Stop, if needed. )
  6. Focused 6 hours of solid smart work is more productive than 10 hours of hard work with distractions.
  7. Exercise and meditate regularly.
  8. Remind all the good things we learnt in life all the time.
  9. Spend some time alone to think about the mysteries in life and see whether you can solve any.
“There is more to life than simply increasing its speed.” 
― Mahatma Gandhi
 Hope this post, my effort to kill some time writing something on my cool new tablet, might be useful/interesting to you. My sincere thanks to you for reading my posts. Farewell.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Leadership, Communication & Motivation

I usually prefer to not write anything on leadership, management, motivation and the other similar topics as I wanted to keep myself as a person who absolutely has nothing to do with these things, however, the time has come to tell you:) what I think about these overrated L-word and the other cooperate holy words. I don’t know whether it's my friends; or the fact that ever since I started "ACTIV" with my friends, I’m on a constant look-out for successful organizations, leaders and many other related things; or the fact that we are being bombarded with the L-word by the corporate culture we all are voluntarily subscribed to; or the recent extreme attention to American MBAs and its managerial teachings in Sri Lanka; or the fact that most political, religious and corporate people use too often these cool words to make people actually believe that there is a hell of a lot they know... I just don’t know why I think about these things :). I have heard enough of these words, influenced enough by the people/education that talk about these worlds, watched videos on it and read enough LinkedIn articles on these things, now I actually want to develop these skills and quickly let you know what I think about Leadership, Communication & Motivation in this post.

Leadership 
A leader needs the guts to stand alone and look ridiculous. The key is he/she must be easy to follow! Leader needs followers. Following is more difficult than leading when the leader is not very capable of leading.  They publicly shows everyone how to follow. Notice the leader embraces him/her as an equal, so it's not about the leader anymore - it's about being a follower first. All the good leaders I had the pleasure working with use friendship as a tool to bridge the gap between leading and following and add real value to leadership. Notice he's calling to his friends to join in. It takes guts to be a first follower! You stand out and brave ridicule, yourself. Being a first follower is an under-appreciated form of leadership. The first follower transforms a lone nut into a leader. I read somewhere - If the leader is the flint, the first follower is the spark that makes the fire. You might be a person who's not so comfortable with the word follower, it's because people don't like to use the word follower(s) in the cooperate world. We like to use the word team, almost in every-places we want to use followers and we managed to make the word cooler. As I must have mentioned earlier, Leadership is over-glorified; so is team. So, leadership happens when you find a lone nut doing something great about something the nut really cares about(vision), have the guts to be the first person to stand up and join in. 1) have the vision 2) be public 3) be easy to follow 4) make some sense and be compact (Communication) 5) Have passion - make impossible possible ( Motivation ).


Communication 
It's really a border subject and way over my head to talk about, yet I'm going to continue. I had issues clearly telling my ideas to my friends at ACTIV. I can vividly remember telling my friend "It's clear in my head, but I don't know how I'm going to make you understand as exactly as is in my mind." I must have offended him saying so as his response was not very polite. Also, when the HR has nothing to avoid promoting you, they often magically make the word appear out of thin air and say "You need to develop your communication skills to get the promotion in the next cycle" - it wouldn't be a breach of the confidentially clause I signed, if I say that it really happened to me by an HR individual who had no knowledge what so ever of what I was doing in the company nor had the capacity to measure my skill sets. Most often, ideas has context, dependencies and a million related things you should know about to understand. When we try to communicate someone, it's really hard to assume that the person whom you're trying to communicate understand the context and he has the dependency knowledge. It's even harder, if we try to communicate to a person whom we don't know or we have to communicate to a group instead of one person. Some of the ideas take months even years to unconsciously build up and make sense. There will be a million small nuances that matter associated with our idea and when we try to tell others, it's almost always impossible and stressful. The purpose of communication is to get your message across to others clearly and unambiguously. Doing this involves effort from both the sender of the message and the receiver. And it's a process that can be fraught with error, with messages often misinterpreted by the recipient. When this isn't detected, it can cause tremendous confusion, wasted effort and missed opportunity. In fact, communication is only successful when both the sender and the receiver understand the same exact information as a result of the communication. By successfully getting your message across, you convey your thoughts and ideas effectively. When not successful, the thoughts and ideas that you convey do not necessarily reflect your own, causing a communications breakdown and creating roadblocks that stand in the way of your goals – both personally and professionally. Create and environment where everyone feel save to express ideas, opinion,  and feelings, or plan or problem solving in creative ways.

Its very true that most of what we communicate is not through by talking. Body language and our facial expressions carry a lot more than we think we do. There was a presentation given a us at the British Council Colombo and they had professionals to show us the ways an idea could be expressed differently. In my blog, I prefer to write my personal experience and my own view about the things I write rather than a general idea, so It would only be fair, if I tell you what makes me challenged/makes it difficult when it comes to communication. My experience is that when I work on codes(technical things/logical) too long and suddenly want to speak to somebody or speak about the code I was working on, I often struggle to talk. Even the most frequently spoken words will slip away from my mind for a while. May be it's just that my left brain was constantly getting the resources allocated and suddenly when I try to wake my right brain, it crashes or something.. :) I have no scientific facts to back me up on this, yet I have convinced myself with my theory on this.

Motivation - Motivation is literally the desire to do things. More than half of the morning emails I read on this and Google plus posts should make me an expert on this subject. When I have a clear reason to do something or inner desire to want something, I'm so motivated - It's just that simple. To motivate myself, I just need to convince myself with some reasoning or I need a prove of; if I do this, I'll get this. Of cause, that the common reasoning process of a human mind consciously. And there is more..

Motivation is defined as the process that initiates, guides and maintains goal-oriented behaviors. Motivation is what causes us to act, whether it is getting a glass of water to reduce thirst or reading a book to gain knowledge. It involves the biological, emotional, social and cognitive forces that activate behavior. 

The above is the extract of the first five links for a Google search. Further the articles read that a number of different theories of motivation, including drive theory, instinct theory and humanistic theory. There are three major components to motivation: activation, persistence and intensity. Different types of motivation are frequently described as being either extrinsic or intrinsic. Extrinsic motivations are those that arise from outside of the individual and often involve rewards such as trophies, money, social recognition or praise. Intrinsic motivations are those that arise from within the individual, such as doing a complicated cross-word puzzle purely for the personal gratification of solving a problem.

Who needs forced motivation? Someone who does something he/she doesn't like. I'm talking about the motivational trainings motivational speaks do. I can speak for myself here as I, myself have attended few trainings, that they actually do work/help us get motivated. They help us find the reasons and help us figure out why we do what we do.  Research shows you can influence your own levels of motivation and self-control. So figure out what you want, power through the pain period, and start being who you want to be. Goal Setting is extremely important to motivation and success.  Certainly, we need some intelligence, knowledge base, study skills, and time management skills, but if we don't have motivation, I don't think we will go get far.

Motivation is the force that initiates, guides and maintains goal-oriented behaviors. It is what causes us to take action, whether to grab a snack to reduce hunger or enroll in college to earn a degree. The forces that lie beneath motivation can be biological, social, emotional or cognitive in nature.

I find the blow very useful and is from about.com/od/motivation.

William James has created a list of human instincts that included such things as attachment, play, shame, anger, fear, shyness, modesty and love. The main problem with this theory is that it did not really explain behavior, it just described it. By the 1920s, instinct theories were pushed aside in favor of other motivational theories, but contemporary evolutionary psychologists still study the influence of genetics and heredity on human behavior.
Incentive Theory of Motivation
The incentive theory suggests that people are motivated to do things because of external rewards. For example, you might be motivated to go to work each day for the monetary reward of being paid. Behavioral learning concepts such as association and reinforcement play an important role in this theory of motivation.
Drive Theory of Motivation
According to the drive theory of motivation, people are motivated to take certain actions in order to reduce the internal tension that is caused by unmet needs. For example, you might be motivated to drink a glass of water in order to reduce the internal state of thirst. This theory is useful in explaining behaviors that have a strong biological component, such as hunger or thirst. The problem with the drive theory of motivation is that these behaviors are not always motivated purely by physiological needs. For example, people often eat even when they are not really hungry.
Arousal Theory of Motivation
The arousal theory of motivation suggests that people take certain actions to either decrease or increase levels of arousal. When arousal levels get too low, for example, a person might watch and exciting movie or go for a jog. When arousal levels get too high, on the other hand, a person would probably look for ways to relax such as meditating or reading a book. According to this theory, we are motivated to maintain an optimal level of arousal, although this level can vary based on the individual or the situation.
Humanistic Theory of Motivation
Humanistic theories of motivation are based on the idea that people also have strong cognitive reasons to perform various actions. This is famously illustrated in Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs, which presents different motivations at different levels. First, people are motivated to fulfill basic biological needs for food and shelter, as well as those of safety, love and esteem. Once the lower level needs have been met, the primary motivator becomes the need for self-actualization, or the desire to fulfill one's individual potential.

Also, personal preferences and circumstances have a huge impact on motivational levels. I believe prioritizing and having a plan is as important as being motivated to do something to succeed. A fun example, I want to go to gym badly and I'm motivated, yet I couldn't go as there are other important things I had to take care time-to-time (I can hear u say: poooh, like what? :p anyways) there are days I really do have things stopping me to go to the gym and that irregularity demotivates me to go to gym.

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There are many more similar things I would like to write and share with you - like, what is the deference between going to a five star hotel wearing a suit to spend a hundred rupees and going with a dirty t-shirt and spending a few grands; the psychology behind it and my experience on that. But, I just ran out of motivation to write more, so let me power-up my motivational level and write on the next post. FAREWELL 'TIL NEXT TIME.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Clean Coding Techniques and Best Programming Practices

One of my favourite things to do when I'm free is open a code file from one of the best known open source projects and look at the code. Some of them programmers are truly amazing in writing codes applying the best coding practices and use OOP concepts. There are many good ways to architect and design a system depending on the size of the project. Those days, I was working on many small projects and now have the opportunity to work in fairly big scale projects and when I see the deferences and techniques used comparing to the small projects, I understand how clever some of these software engineering human beings are. Some of my colleagues could explain me, a complex concept I wouldn't understand reading books, in few minutes. Learning and understanding some fascinating facts form superiors while working's very valuable.  Sometime a line could explain you whole lot than a whole page ever could explain. Example ha?..
“ Java is to JavaScript what Car is to Carpet. ” - Chris Heilmann
If you look at the code someone new written in your project, you will understand when I explain you the feeling of trying to swallow your food for lunch after looking at the code. On the other hand, some people just know how to make a bouquet out of a few code files. What I'm trying to get you to agree is that some projects are really a joy to work on just because of the way it's been designed, coded, managed and some projects are pain to work on.

As a programmer, it's very important for me to understand the basic concepts well and to use best practices out there. Ever since I sat for a lecture in Dr Even's class, I'm keen on learning these best practices and want to code like a pro. He teaches while writing codes like writing emails. The way he structures code, put them into different files with meaningful file names and getting it working; it's truly mesmerizing experience. He's able to show us examples of simple code to carry complex functionality. To be able write simple code to do complex things would be one the thing I really wanted to be good. So, whenever I come across articles about coding best practices and code samples, I add to my pocket and this post is a sum-up of the collection.

Clean Coding Techniques and Best Programming Practices
“Always code as if the guy who ends up maintaining your code will be a violent psychopath who knows where you live.” - Martin Golding
COUPLING & COHESION

I really started to understand the importance of Coupling and Cohesion only after I started working for big projects and started seeing the deference. For this post sake, let's look at a little on this. Also, for my learning too, I'm going to browse my  pocket links on this topic and many other relevant topics and copy them here. I'll try to put all the links I referred for this post. I usually doesn't like to copy other people's work here, yet I don't think I have to re-write something is been already written nicely in books or in websites. I wanted to remind some of these things, so, I'm going to go through and whatever I find useful in these area, I'm going to copy here. Simple - ha?:)

Coupling is an indication of the strength of interconnections between program units. Highly coupled have program units dependent on each other. Loosely coupled are made up of units that are independent or almost independent. When I start writing code in the beginning, most the function or components I write will call other functions and they're interconnected. When I try to modify something, it's really a headache. After a while, if we look at the code, It's really a challenge to understand the code and modify and these changes are pron to many code breaks.

“ Before software can be reusable it first has to be usable. ” - Ralph Johnson

Obviously, it very hard to keep functions totally independent and in many cases, it's almost impossible to have modules completely independent of each other. The more connections between functions, the more dependency and more issues later. It wouldn't make much of a deference if it's a small project and absolutely no requirement to upgrade it in the future.

According to Clarlson, there are three factors: number of interfaces, complexity of interfaces, type of info flow along interfaces.

Want to minimize number of interfaces between modules, minimize the complexity of each interface, and control the type of info flow. An interface of a module is used to pass information to and from other modules. In general, modules tightly coupled if they use shared variables or if they exchange control info. Loose coupling if info held within a unit and interface with other units via parameter lists. Tight coupling if shared global data. If need only one field of a record, don't pass entire record. Keep interface as simple and small as possible.

Two types of info flow: data or control.

Passing or receiving back control info means that the action of the module will depend on this control info, which makes it difficult to understand the module. Interfaces with only data communication result in lowest degree of coupling, followed by interfaces that only transfer control data. Highest if data is hybrid. 

Ranked highest to lowest: 
Content coupling:
If one directly references the contents of the other. When one module modifies local data values or instructions in another module. (can happen in assembly language) if one refers to local data in another module. if one branches into a local label of another.
Common coupling:
Access to global data. modules bound together by global data structures.
Control coupling:
Passing control flags (as parameters or globals) so that one module controls the sequence of processing steps in another module. 
Stamp coupling:
Similar to common coupling except that global variables are shared selectively among routines that require the data. E.g., packages in Ada. More desirable than common coupling because fewer modules will have to be modified if a shared data structure is modified. Pass entire data structure but need only parts of it.
Data coupling:
Use of parameter lists to pass data items between routines.

Cohesion

Cohesion is the measure of how well module fits together. A component should implement a single logical function or single logical entity. All the parts should contribute to the implementation.

Many levels of cohesion: 

Coincidental cohesion: 
The parts of a component are not related but simply bundled into a single component. harder to understand and not reusable.
Logical association: 
Similar functions such as input, error handling, etc. put together. Functions fall in same logical class. May pass a flag to determine which ones executed.
interface difficult to understand. Code for more than one function may be intertwined, leading to severe maintenance problems. Difficult to reuse
Temporal cohesion:
All of statements activated at a single time, such as start up or shut down, are brought together. Initialization, clean up.
Functions weakly related to one another, but more strongly related to functions in other modules so may need to change lots of modules when do maintenance.
Procedural cohesion: 
A single control sequence, e.g., a loop or sequence of decision statements. Often cuts across functional lines. May contain only part of a complete function or parts of several functions.
Functions still weakly connected, and again unlikely to be reusable in another product.
Communicational cohesion:
Operate on same input data or produce same output data. May be performing more than one function. Generally acceptable if alternate structures with higher cohesion cannot be easily identified.
still problems with reusability.
Sequential cohesion:
Output from one part serves as input for another part. May contain several functions or parts of different functions.
Informational cohesion:
Performs a number of functions, each with its own entry point, with independent code for each function, all performed on same data structure. Different than logical cohesion because functions not intertwined.
Functional cohesion: each part necessary for execution of a single function. e.g., compute square root or sort the array. Usually reusable in other contexts. Maintenance easier.
Type cohesion: 
Modules that support a data abstraction.
Not strictly a linear scale. Functional much stronger than rest while first two much weaker than others. Often many levels may be applicable when considering two elements of a module. Cohesion of module considered as highest level of cohesion that is applicable to all elements in the module.

Ref: http://courses.cs.washington.edu/courses/cse403/96sp/coupling-cohesion.html - Thanks: Adam Carlson


Coding Standards and Code Reviews

Using good programming practices to create high quality code is important to produce quality software with high performance. A comprehensive coding standard encompasses all aspects of code construction and, while developers should exercise prudence in its implementation, it should be closely followed. Completed source code should reflect a harmonized style, as if a single developer wrote the code in one session. Adherence to a coding standard can only be feasible when followed throughout the software project from inception to completion. It is not practical, nor is it prudent, to impose a coding standard after the fact. Coding techniques incorporate many facets of software development and, although they usually have no impact on the functionality of the application, they contribute to an improved comprehension of source code. For the purpose of this document, all forms of source code are considered, including programming, scripting, markup, and query languages.

“Measuring programming progress by lines of code is like measuring aircraft building progress by weight.”
- Bill Gates  (co-founder of Microsoft)

When you write code, consider the following to improve performance, keep the coding clean and to reduce run time exceptions.

  • Declare All Variables - In some programming languages, like in JavaScript or in C#. A variable that is not declared will be created with a default type. Normally it will be implicitly created as a Variant. 
  • Avoid elusive names that are open to subjective interpretation, such as Analyze() for a routine, or jjK4 for a variable. Such names contribute to ambiguity more than abstraction.
  • In object-oriented languages, it is redundant to include class names in the name of class properties, such as Book.BookTitle. Instead, use Book.Title.
  • Use the verb-noun method for naming routines that perform some operation on a given object, such as CalculateInvoiceTotal().
  • In languages that permit function overloading, all overloads should perform a similar function. For those languages that do not permit function overloading, establish a naming standard that relates similar functions.
  • Use Strongly Typed Object Variables - Object variables represent pointers to COM objects. They can be declared in two ways, as follows: 
    • When you defect a variable As Object in Java or C# that variable can be used to represent any kind of object; this is a weakly typed object variable
    • Use the As keyword with the specific type of the object; this is a strongly typed object variable.
  • Names - Perhaps one of the most influential aids to understanding the logical flow of an application is how the various elements of the application are named. A name should tell "what" rather than "how." By avoiding names that expose the underlying implementation, which can change, you preserve a layer of abstraction that simplifies the complexity. For example, you could use GetNextStudent() instead of GetNextArrayElement().
  • Append computation qualifiers (Avg, Sum, Min, Max, Index) to the end of a variable name where appropriate.
  • Use customary opposite pairs in variable names, such as min/max, begin/end, and open/close.
  • Since most names are constructed by concatenating several words together, use mixed-case formatting to simplify reading them. In addition, to help distinguish between variables and routines/functions, use Pascal casing (CalculateInvoiceTotal) for routine/functions names where the first letter of each word is capitalized. For variable names, use camel casing (documentFormatType) where the first letter of each word except the first is capitalized.
  • Boolean variable names should contain Is which implies Yes/No or True/False values, such as fileIsFound.
  • Avoid using terms such as Flag when naming status variables, which differ from Boolean variables in that they may have more than two possible values. Instead of documentFlag, use a more descriptive name such as documentFormatType.
  • Even for a short-lived variable that may appear in only a few lines of code, still use a meaningful name. Use single-letter variable names, such as i, or j, for short-loop indexes only.
  • If using Charles Simonyi's Hungarian Naming Convention, or some derivative thereof, develop a list of standard prefixes for the project to help developers consistently name variables. For more information, see "Hungarian Notation."
  • For variable names, it is sometimes useful to include notation that indicates the scope of the variable, such as prefixing a g_ for global variables and m_ for module-level variables in Microsoft Visual Basic®.
  • Constants should be all uppercase with underscores between words, such as NUM_DAYS_IN_WEEK. Also, begin groups of enumerated types with a common prefix, such as FONT_ARIAL and FONT_ROMAN.
  • A tenet of naming is that difficulty in selecting a proper name may indicate that you need to further analyze or define the purpose of an item. Make names long enough to be meaningful but short enough to avoid being wordy. Programmatically, a unique name serves only to differentiate one item from another. Expressive names function as an aid to the human reader; therefore, it makes sense to provide a name that the human reader can comprehend. However, be certain that the names chosen are in compliance with the applicable language's rules and standards.
  • When naming tables, express the name in the singular form. For example, use Employee instead of Employees.
  • When naming columns of tables, do not repeat the table name; for example, avoid having a field called EmployeeLastName in a table called Employee.
  • Do not incorporate the data type in the name of a column. This will reduce the amount of work needed should it become necessary to change the data type later.
  • In Microsoft SQL Server, do not prefix stored procedures with sp_, because this prefix is reserved for identifying system-stored procedures.
  • In Transact-SQL, do not prefix variables with @@, which should be reserved for truly global variables such as @@IDENTITY.
  • Minimize the use of abbreviations. If abbreviations are used, be consistent in their use. An abbreviation should have only one meaning and likewise, each abbreviated word should have only one abbreviation. For example, if using min to abbreviate minimum, do so everywhere and do not later use it to abbreviate minute.
  • When naming functions, include a description of the value being returned, such as GetCurrentWindowName().
  • File and folder names, like procedure names, should accurately describe what purpose they serve.
  • Avoid reusing names for different elements, such as a routine called ProcessSales() and a variable called iProcessSales.
  • Avoid homonyms when naming elements to prevent confusion during code reviews, such as write and right.
  • When naming elements, avoid using commonly misspelled words. Also, be aware of differences that exist between American and British English, such as color/colour and check/cheque.
  • Avoid using typographical marks to identify data types, such as $ for strings or % for integers.
  • When it come to Comments, Software documentation exists in two forms, external and internal. External documentation is maintained outside of the source code, such as specifications, help files, and design documents. Internal documentation is composed of comments that developers write within the source code at development time.
  • One of the challenges of software documentation is ensuring that the comments are maintained and updated in parallel with the source code. Although properly commenting source code serves no purpose at run time, it is invaluable to a developer who must maintain a particularly intricate or cumbersome piece of software.
  • Following are recommended commenting techniques:
  • When modifying code, always keep the commenting around it up to date.
  • At the beginning of every routine, it is helpful to provide standard, boilerplate comments, indicating the routine's purpose, assumptions, and limitations. A boilerplate comment should be a brief introduction to understand why the routine exists and what it can do.
  • Avoid adding comments at the end of a line of code; end-line comments make code more difficult to read. However, end-line comments are appropriate when annotating variable declarations. In this case, align all end-line comments at a common tab stop.
  • Avoid using clutter comments, such as an entire line of asterisks. Instead, use white space to separate comments from code.
  • Avoid surrounding a block comment with a typographical frame. It may look attractive, but it is difficult to maintain.
  • Prior to deployment, remove all temporary or extraneous comments to avoid confusion during future maintenance work.
  • If you need comments to explain a complex section of code, examine the code to determine if you should rewrite it. If at all possible, do not document bad code—rewrite it. Although performance should not typically be sacrificed to make the code simpler for human consumption, a balance must be maintained between performance and maintainability.
  • Use complete sentences when writing comments. Comments should clarify the code, not add ambiguity.
  • Comment as you code, because most likely there won't be time to do it later. Also, should you get a chance to revisit code you've written, that which is obvious today probably won't be obvious six weeks from now.
  • Avoid the use of superfluous or inappropriate comments, such as humorous sidebar remarks.
  • Use comments to explain the intent of the code. They should not serve as inline translations of the code.
  • Comment anything that is not readily obvious in the code.
  • To prevent recurring problems, always use comments on bug fixes and work-around code, especially in a team environment.
  • Use comments on code that consists of loops and logic branches. These are key areas that will assist the reader when reading source code.
  • Separate comments from comment delimiters with white space. Doing so will make comments stand out and easier to locate when viewed without color clues.
  • Throughout the application, construct comments using a uniform style, with consistent punctuation and structure.
  • Despite the availability of external documentation, source code listings should be able to stand on their own because hard-copy documentation can be misplaced.
  • External documentation should consist of specifications, design documents, change requests, bug history, and the coding standard that was used.
  • Formatting makes the logical organization of the code stand out. Taking the time to ensure that the source code is formatted in a consistent, logical manner is helpful to yourself and to other developers who must decipher the source code.
Ref: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa260844(v=vs.60).aspx Thanks: Rob Caron - Microsoft Corporation

Hope I shared something useful to you today and I'm going to end this post giving a tip from my experience to those who want to freelance work by quoting Edward V Berard  -
”Walking on water and developing software from a specification are easy if both are frozen.”