Monday, December 28, 2009

My Top 10 things of 2009

The world is currently full of 2009 is the list from my world !

If you are curious - here is the link to my top 10 things of 2008 -

10. Running 10KM/hr for 8 minutes

This might be easy for many - but this is a huge achievement for me. I could run for 2 minutes at the most at this pace before I had to slow down to 8KM/hr and then 6KM/hr. I have been trying to increase this duration slowly and nowadays I can run for a flat 8 minutes at this pace on the treadmill without my heart jumping out onto the floor.

9. Blogging

Started writing regularly in all of my blogs :

this one you are reading - kind of a satire nonsense blog -
my entrepreneurial journey - ,
and a new one I started this year - on books for startups -

The last couple of months things have been crazy and my blogging has been sporadic or I might have got a blogger's block..but it is over now I guess!

8. MJ

MJ shocked the world for one last time.

Aside, "This is it" happened to be Prithvi's first movie theater experience. We took him to a late night show expecting him to doze off. But he watched intently the entire movie and dozed off only on the way back home. The next morning he wakes up and first thing he says is "Akka dancing" ( sister dancing ).

7. Twaddicted !

This year I became a Twitter addict. I love watching the trending topics, discovering new sites posted by tweeples, reading comments about news as it happens. Obama winning nobel prize news was lot of fun - I was right there when it happened and shared lots of funny one liners with others. Twitter is just amazing.

6. The no beach year!

From 1994, the year I started my studies at CEG, Chennai - I would have visited a beach every year atleast once ( Juhu, Florida keys on the day of Tsunami, Galveston, Santa Monica, Chicago lake - technically it has a beach ). This year I went to Beasant Nagar 3 times, but could not go to the beach. I know it might not be worthy of a top 10 list...but hey this is my list :)

5. Ubuntu

I had an on-off relationship with Linux for the past 10 years or so - Mandriva, Red hat, Ubuntu, Suse. But this year, thanks to the gem of an OS called Vista, I started spending more and more time with Ubuntu and kept uncovering the beauty of Linux like never before. Now Ubuntu is my OS of choice and I am not upgrading to Win 7. Perhaps that shiny OS X might tempt me away someday, but who knows..with gnome 3 blowing the socks off OS X I might stay put.

4. Movies

I love watching movies. But this year I kind of rediscovered the movie magic. I could switch off completely from my work threads and let myself be immersed in a movie. Dev D, Slumdog millionaire, Avatar, Up..relished them all.

3. Swine Flu Scare

All of us in our home went through a bout of flu one after the other. The first one to get hit was Sangeeta at the height of swine flu mania and she almost wrote her will. Later Prithvi picked that weird flu and it was painful to watch that energy ball lie quietly on the bed conveying something through his eyes..

2. "Naana kaapi deddiee" - Naana Coffee Ready!

Thats my toddler shouting and banging our home-office door around 11.00 A.M every day when coffee has been prepared by his Avva ( my mom ). It has become our daily ritual. I might be the luckiest of all Dads ( touchwood ) to be with my son all the time - day in and day out. Starting Jan 1, 2010 I will be moving to an office and he will start his playschool life - hope we both can manage the separation anxieties.

1. ApartmentAdda : My life, My mission !
  • Receiving the first cheque for ApartmentAdda Premium package.
  • Cutting the first salary cheque for 3Five8's personnel.
  • Registering 3Five8 Technologies Private Limited.
  • 10 PM Demo which went till mid night!
  • Demos in Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad
  • The small mentions of ApartmentAdda in print ( Deccan Chronicle ) and media ( CNBC TV )
  • And many many more I cannot divulge here - but can do over a CCD cuppa :)
Wish you all an awesome event filled 2010.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Dont block facebook!

A couple of days back a friend of mine working in the ad industry called me.

"Venkat, how do I block facebook chats, gmail chats? Should I block the domains?".

Answer is No. If you block Facebook, Gtalk - your team will find workarounds. All it takes is a google search nowadays. It will annoy the team and you will get bracketed with the "manager" managers.

So - here are some tips on how to engage your team effectively and reduce the hours spent on SN sites.

1. Daily Stand Ups

This is the most simplest and effective tool. It is a core practice in agile projects - however it will work for any project / environment. There are tons of resources on effective standups. I will give a brief primer :
  • Every one stands up - no slouching, no sitting. Keeps everyone alert and they talk less
  • Stand in a circle like rugby teams.
  • Give brief updates on what you did yesterday, what is your plan today, and any impediments in doing your work
  • Any long discussions do it after the standup.
  • The standup is sacred ( start on the same time daily, cut off trolling etc.. ). You have to protect its sanctity :)
Advantage is - the team's productivity will increase. They number of hours spent on idling will start coming down because the next day you have to give an update.

2. Give more responsibility

Ideally visiting social networking sites should be used to take a break from work - not the other way round. So make sure the plate is full. And coupled with standups they will try to finish off the work promptly.

3. Knowledge sharing sessions

You can introduce regular knowledge sharing sessions - can be on any topic - team could watch a TED talk, someone can critique on a movie, present on the new social media or any area you think will help the team become better. This will involve preparation ( except for TED talks of course ) and will also create a good competitive spirit.

So follow the above steps and your team will adore you and they will invite you for the informal team outings :)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Conspiracy Theories - Part II

Here is my second edition of Conspiracy Theories. The 1st part is here -

4. Cure for the common cold.

It has been discovered and the pharmaceutical companies, the presidents and prime ministers around the world, the Shah Rukh Khans, the TV News Anchors - are all having access to it.

But the common man like you and me do not have this cure for the common cold. So we will end up spending on chicken soup, vicks, steam inhalers, doctor visits, orange juice etc..

5. Money does not buy happiness.

Oh hell it does. You can buy an iPhone, an iPod nano that shoots video, a Nike shoe that plays well with that nano, an European vacation and lot more. If this is not happiness then what is?

It is a conspiracy by the uber rich, so the unwashed masses will not work too hard - and the rich will not have much competition and can continue enjoying their European vacations and the cool cars. The rich authors write books and movie directors dish out art movies that glamorizes mediocrity and simple living. Don't buy this philosophy I tell you - try to make more money and enjoy life.

6. Michael Jackson is not dead

There is no conspiracy here...but for this one I whole heartedly wish it was true - that he is still alive - and it was all a drama played by his creditors to recover his debt etc. I wish he will emerge some day and release a few more albums.

Just Beat it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Who is lifting the world on their shoulders?


Who is lifting the world on their shoulders?


None of the above. The right answer is - entrepreneurs / business folks - they are the ones lifting the world. They create new markets, promote new ideas, blaze new paths by fighting the system, fighting stereotypes, taking risks against all odds.

In this post I will introduce you to "Atlas Shrugged" - a magnum opus by Ayn Rand.  This book glorifies the entrepreneurial spirit.

The key players :


These are the scum of the society - apparently holding top positions. The top brass in the Government, the industry lobbying heads - they do not produce anything but they loot - from the business and from the public. They know only to take and not give anything. They outnumber and control the producers.


The producers are the entrepreneurs, the inventors, the innovators. They are the ones fighting the system to introduce new ideas and keep the world ticking and moving forward.

Henry Rearden
He is a business man who invents a new kind of alloy that is cheaper and stronger than steel. The Government wants it because their research institute cannot produce anything close to this. He refuses and he is threatened with sanctions, taxes, a govt official watchdog is sent to curb his production ( because the steel industry is fast becoming reduntant ). Yet he fights the system to produce his alloy.

Francisco d'Anconia
A rich man who inherits a copper smelting business owned by his family. However he destroys all his fortune - but before that he lures the looters to buy all his stock and bonds - there by making them lose big.

Dagny Taggart
She runs a rail road. Her brother belongs to the looters group and is the President of the rail road. She fights him and fights the lobby industry to keep the trains running.

John Galt
He is the key person or the hero of this book. He invents a new type of electric device which can generate electricity from air ( its fiction remember ! ) - but he refuses to share it with the world run by looters. Along with this invention he takes the other producers ( Henry Rearden, Dangy Taggart and there are more - a musician, a writer, an oil digger, a banker etc. ) from the world and moves to a world he builds himself - among the mountains unknown to the world. And he brings the world to a halt.

This book is a fat one. 1000 pages with page after page of philosophy being dished out from different angles - on almost all the professions. Then there is a section where John Galt addresses the public on radio - it is a master piece. It runs for some 40 pages if I remember correctly and has thoughts on all aspects - love, honesty, name it.

I had written about this book in my personal blog earlier. If you are interested you  can read this post - Who is John Galt?.

If you are a bibliophile and an entrepreneur or planning to jump in - do read this book - it will give you brilliant new insights.

Some memorable quotes from the book:

"I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.
" - This is the oath everyone who joins John Galt should take.

Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values.

Pride is the recognition of the fact that you are your own highest value and, like all of man’s values, it has to be earned.

Rationality is the recognition of the fact that nothing can alter the truth and nothing can take precedence over that act of perceiving it.

The Argument from Intimidation is a confession of intellectual impotence.

and finally the quote that sums it all up beautifully :

Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction. When money ceases to become the means by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of other men. Blood, whips and guns--or dollars. Take your choice--there is no other.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Evolution of UI of ApartmentAdda - 2

I had written about the Evolution of UI of ApartmentAdda in March 2009 how the design evolved over the last 2 years.

We launched ApartmentAdda with the following UI designed by Cicada Media on Nov 12, 2008. It was a simple yet highly functional UI. Also it has got burnt into my retina - seeing it so many times a day :)

Somewhere down the line we realised it was time to give the site an upgrade. We kicked off the site redesign process with Leafgrafica in August. After a lot of designs and meetings ( and corner house's death by chocolate which was close by) - the following design won our hearts and mind.

I would like to thank both Cicada Media and Leafgrafica teams for having designed these beautiful sites ( and having put up with creativity stifling requirements from us :) )

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

How Windows 7 will "really" save money

I read an article on infoworld where Steve Balmer cited an article by Gartner research how Windows 7 will save money. Now as you all know Gartner is a very trusted and honest research firm. They have earlier published how Linux is actually a wolf in sheep's clothing - Linux claims it is open source and free and all that - but you need expensive system engineers, expensive training, expensive hardware etc. So many ignorant CTOs were saved from making a wrong decision and continued to recommend Windows - because of Gartner..may God be with them ( and Microsoft's funding ).

Anyway, here is what Gartner missed in the report and I am filling in the gap to prove why Windows 7 will save lot of money for a company :

1. Save on Coffee, Milk, Sugar & Snacks

The Vista folks when they come to work and start their day, they switch on their laptop like every one else. But as you all know that it takes some where between 20-30 minutes before the machine is actually responsive, these folks go for coffee. Along with them they pull the other Windows XP, OS X, Ubuntu folks who have already started breaking the build.

With a record 10 second boot time of Windows 7 - these ex-Vista users will become super efficient and will break the build within 1 minute of them starting work. There by the organization can save money on Coffee and snacks - because the whole team will be busy fixing the build.

2. Save on Cooling charges ( applies only to Hotter climates )

In Vista the processor always runs at 100% - it is good because you are using all the GHz you paid for - but downside is machines and the room get hot quickly. Now with the super efficient kernel and indexing - Windows 7 will run lot cooler. If you are in Bangalore, you can turn off the AC and open the Windows ( the physical kind ).

However for our friends in cooler climates where they have to heat their building, I recommend all to switch to Vista - you will save on heating charges.

3. Save on Bandwidth

This is kind of negligible, but the kind of reporting Gartner does even the minimal saving should be reported - because they don't leave even a toothpick behind.

Because Windows 7 is "Vista correctly designed", there will not be any UI confusions like trying to understand UAC, or how to view the file name fully in the explorer window etc. So the users need not do a google ( or Bing ) search to find out how to turn off these annoyances - there by saving a lot of bandwidth.

Guess this makes the report complete.

and Mr. Balmer, you are welcome.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Review - The Hakawati by Rabih Alameddnine

They say never judge a book by its cover but that is what I did when i picked this book from the library. I was in a rush to catch the afternoon train to Hyderabad from Yeshwantpur, and I still had to press my clothes, do some biscuit/bread shopping ( YSR had died the day before in the chopper crash and I was preparing for a bandh - thankfully things were peaceful there ).

In the train someone sitting opposite me was reading a Sidney Sheldon - don't remember what book it was. He broke the ice by saying fat book and we chatted about other things.

And the book was very interesting. In ancient times when Baghdad, Persia were thriving - there was a profession called "Hakawati" - the story teller. He used to entertain the Kings and nobility - since they did not have Tata Sky and 24 hour news channels.

The book has 3 stories running in parallel. The one is about the author himself starting from how his Grandfather became a Hakawati, about the pigeon fights, the music instrument
Oud, the Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt wars in the background and childhood years..

The 2nd story is quite bizarre. It is about the dark world, demons and their interaction with the living, poets, bards, wit and all that. It starts with the Emir dispatching his slave Fatima to meet a wizard/witch in another city faraway to find out how he can be blessed with a boy. He has 12 girls..but he has no one to take over his kingdom.

The 3rd story is actually one within the 2nd story - the slave gets back after an adventure ( where she dies and falls in love with the demon and is reborn ) and tells the King that he should narrate a story of bravery to his wife so she can give birth to a boy. So the Emir narrates a story and this is the 3rd one.

There are so many stories within each story - the whole book is a riot. Its like TV. It is late, your eyes are tired but you just cannot switch off the TV. I gave up reading this book a few times after I got back from Hyderabad and thought will return the book.

But simply couldn't, once I started reading I would want to read a few more pages to find out what happens to that Babylar - the hero of the 3rd story who is a slave and rises to become the king or Othman - a cunning thief who becomes a loyal friend and bodyguard of Babylar, or Othman's wife - Layla a reformed lady dove !

And the author employs all the Hakwati tricks. He will leave the story at a very nice "cliffhanger" and move on to the next story, and I will look forward to how it turns out.

After reading this book I really wish the middle east countries resolve all their disputes and go back to enjoying life with no wars. They have so much tradition and culture and they should cherish it and not let it die. I want to visit them some day and gaze at their mosques and minarets, taste their tea and lamb, listen to oud and arabic songs, read their poems and stories.

Hmm..wish world becomes a better place...and not something I read and imagine in books..

Friday, September 18, 2009

Make your idea stick


In the book Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell ( my review ) says "stickiness" of an idea is an important criteria for the idea to tip.

"Made to stick" by Chip Heath & Dan Heath, is an offshoot of the stickiness chapter of Tipping Point where the authors  analyze how and why ideas stick. They have even formed a mnemonic for it - SUCCES. Each one by itself will not guarantee your idea to stick - but if rightly applied together, the probability of your idea sticking is higher.

Simple : For an idea to stick, it has to be simple.For that you need to tear apart the unnecessary layers and go to the core of it.

Nike - Just do it.
FedEx - The World on Time
Audi - Vorsprung durch Technik ( ok this is an exception, and being Audi they can make anything stick :) )   Jokes apart it explains very well what Audi does - when tranlated it means - Advancement through technology.

Unexpected : The idea should rattle the listeners up. It should break pre conceived notions. Anything unusual is sticky.

When Apple launched Macbook Air, Steve Jobs pulled the Macbook Air out of an envelope in his keynote address.  He did not dish out the numbers about the weight or the thickness of the laptop. Just that image - the unexpectedness of a laptop coming out of an envelope was enough to establish the product in everyone's mind - the thinnest laptop in the world.

Concrete : If your idea is abstract or vague or is like a puzzle, the probability of it sticking is hard. It should be direct and should not have any ambiguities about it.

Ratan Tata made a statement a couple of years back - "We will produce a car under Rs. 1 Lakh". It was a concrete statement with no ambiguities. It motivated his team to build this car and they launched a car - with 4 doors which is quite safe, efficient and adequately powerful. All this for under Rs 1 lakh - an incredible feat.

Credible : The idea to stick needs to have the  backing of credible people. Quoting customer testimonials is the best example in this regard. If you notice most of the products will proudly present the awards, experts comments and opinions in their website and product brochure.

Emotional : We associate emotions to every incident,thought,object. If an idea generates emotion in your listener, then the probability of the idea being remembered and spread is higher. Try recollecting your favorite TV commercials - the successful ones will invariably appeal to one emotion or the other.

Stories : No one remembers facts, but we all remember stories. We all remember the moral values found in the stories of Panchatantra, Ramayan and Mahabarath. Imagine if we were just sermoned on just the moral values - will we remember any?

The book is filled with lots of anecdotes and case studies.  You will never get bored reading  this and it will give you many ideas to make your idea stick :)

Some quotations from the book :

"In Hollywood, people use core ideas called 'high-concept pitches.' You've probably heard some of them. Speed was 'Die Hard on a bus.'"

"Becoming an expert in something means that we become more and more fascinated by nuance and complexity. That's when the Curse of Knowledge kicks in, and we start to forget what it's like not to know what we know."

"Stories are like flight simulators for the brain."

"The most basic way to get someone's attention is this: Break a pattern."

Monday, September 14, 2009

Conspiracy Theories - Part I

I do not have the bandwidth to research - so listing out the news articles I keep coming across which are suspicious in a reporter can pick it up and run with it and hopefully win a Pulitzer or something !

1. Force India finishing 2nd, 4th

I love Formula 1, and I love India and I am quite pleasantly surprised seeing Force India finish in the podium. Well actually I did not "see" because I do not have sports channels at home - so read the news. But I am tempted to subscribe again and see the race and the Ads and be an "eye-ball" once again.

The conspiracy here is - with Ferrari once again in the dumps ( how it was prior to Schumi days ), Indian fans have lost interest in F1 - majority being Ferrari fans. And with a 200 million tv viewing population - which is almost the size of European continent, F1 cannot afford to lose India. So suddenly Force India who never finished a race is on the podium..hmmm !!

2. Ms.Nigeria/Ms.Venezuala/Ms.Phillipines winning Miss World

This has been my pet conspiracy theory from the day Aishwarya Rai, Sushmita Sen won the pageant. This is a no brainer.

Who sponsors these events? The beauty products.
How does beauty product enter a new market? By letting one of the Aishwarya Rais win.

The Miss World trophy conveniently migrates from one country to another - dictated by the market. So when there is a dip in sales, soon you will see another Indian winning Miss World.

3. Moon landing

There are many websites and books on this topic. NASA even commissioned a book to be written saying its all bull, we did land on the Moon - but later for some reason cancelled this project.


1. Why have we not landed in the moon again - even after 40 years? We have sent robots to Mars - but why did we not try for the moon?

2. After seeing the failure of Chandrayaan I learnt that the moon's gravitational pull is not uniform and the satellite needs constant course correction. Then there is the sun flare and other extremities of space which a satellite built in 2008 could not handle. What is amazing is 40 years back NASA sent a satellite to successfully land on the moon, someone gave a grammatically incorrect statement, and got back alive. Hmm...

3. We have very powerful telescopes that can peer at stars some millions of light years away. Why cant we turn this on the moon - the closest object we have - and try to find the foot print, the flag and other objects dropped by the man on the moon?

Guess this much is enough for my first edition...!

My dear netas - you deserve business class

Our poor netas, who have already sacrificed some good professions like farming, medicine, engineering, business, law, stock trading, IT etc - for the greater good of the country, and for serving the downtrodden of this nation - are being punished by forcing them to travel in economy class. What sacrilege.

No one is there to speak in support of our netas - and they will not protest but will accept this quietly - because their humility does not allow them to protest. So I am taking up their cause in this post. No they did not pay me - our netas will never do such a thing.

Why our netas deserve business class and private jets:

1. Stress

They take so much stress. From the build up to getting a party ticket, fighting for votes, then the horse trading and finally they become ministers. And still it is not over, they have to ward off allegations of corruption, nosy reporters, RTIs, PILs - and somehow manage to find time to serve the masses.

And you expect them to be herded like cattle in economy class? Give them a break.

2. Seats are too small

Have you not seen the photos of our netas? Because they take enormous stress and the long hours they put in every day - they are a little bigger than an average Indian. They simply cannot fit in an economy seat. Please do not ask them to go join a fitness club. There is not enough time in a day.

So if your seat is next to them - in economy class, you are better off sitting on the floor. Fight for them to go business class to save your ass ( literally speaking ).

3. Entourge

Do you think our netas travel alone? They will have a bunch of IAS, IPS, SAS, CRM, CBI, ABC, GHI officials accompanying them all the time. Putting all of them in a private jet is cheaper than buying tickets for each one of them in an economy flight.

So my dear fellow countrymen - don't you agree - our Netas deserve business class and private jets. Don't believe what the media is saying and don't join them in celebrating the suffering of our poor netas.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Getting into the zone!

Have you ever experienced being in "the zone"? You might have experienced for sure - but never noticed it. Once you are able to notice how it is to be in the zone - you can plan to get into the zone more often - for better productivity and happiness.

What is the zone?

The zone is a state of mind when time stops, creativity flows, your breathing is relaxed and steady, new ideas spring up and it leaves you energized wanting for more. In spite of working for hours at a stretch, if you are in the zone - you never feel tired.

Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance, Anna Karenina - are two books that I have read where they talk about this state of mind. Zen book says about getting into the zone on any activity that you do - could be washing dishes, could be fixing a motorcycle, could be writing a blog post. In Anna Karenina, one of the characters - Levin goes to cut corn along with his laborers - this chapter in the book is a masterpiece. Leo Tolstoy beautifully describes how it is to be in the zone - proving why he is one of the greatest brains of all time.

It took some time for me to discover this "getting into the zone" thing. Whenever I am in the zone the code that I produce is beautiful and bug free. New ideas, hidden potential bugs show up and I squash them even before they get a chance to show up.

How to get into the zone?

You need a ritual. Here are some of the things that I do to get ready to go into the zone

1. Music

Either classical music or some movie songs that I have heard a million times before - mostly AR Rahman songs - so they wont distract but will quieten the outside noise.

2. Clear out the feeds and empty inbox

I clear out all the feeds in bloglines, and also empty my inbox - so there is no thread running silently in the head draining resources.

3. Busy status in IM

IM is a big distractor. I educate my buddies not to disturb when I am on busy-status. If they do not respect - I either block them temporarily or sign off from IM.

4. Load up with water

I keep a big jug of water and keep sipping. It will keep the brain hyderated for the upcoming power session !

After this - when I hit the editor I will notice that time would have stopped, and the things around me will disappear and I will not even hear the music. It will be just me and the editor - and things will start flowing. Because now I will be in the zone!

What is your ritual to get into the zone?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

5 simple tips to fight Flu

The media is doing what it does best - spreading fear and panic. So here is my little post which is an anti-dote in these scary times. Some tips for increasing your immunity - so when flu gives you a visit, it knows it is not welcome.

1. Orange Juice & Fruits.

Fruits have become really expensive - nowadays Doctors are cheaper than Apple ( the fruit ;) ). However packaged juices are cheaper than fruits if you do the Cost benefit analysis.

Try and get juices that claim they have no sugar and no preservatives. I do however remember reading that Vitamin C by itself does not help fight flu - but there are other good things - anti oxidants, Vitamin C, fiber - so over all it is good for a healthy you - and it is tasty too.

2. Japanese Shower

Take a hot bath and once you are done - in the end - take shower in the cold water. While taking a hot bath the pores open up and blood flow circulation increases in the skin. When suddenly cold water hits your body, the pores start contracting, and blood is forced to rush deep into your system - carrying with it nourishing oxygen and anti bodies. This is very effective and fun.

3. Pranayama

It takes 2 minutes but this is the most effective of all - I do this while reading the headlines of the newspaper in the morning.

Remember the 10-10-10 rule.

First set : 10 times breathe slowly but firmly through left nostril with right nostril blocked. Repeat with right nostril.

Second set : 10 times breathe a little more faster and with more force through left nostril.Repeat with right nostril.

Third set : 10 times inhale through the left nostril, exhale through right nostril and reverse.

4. Stay away from fries and chaat

8/10 times whenever I ate those delicious fried bajjies, or paani poori outside I have caught cold. You can try rice bran oil for frying ( but do not reuse ) and relish the same sinful stuff at home - cheaper and comparatively healthier.

5. Wash hands constantly

I once heard a NPR podcast about the correlation between number of heartbeats and the lifespan of an animal. The only species which defies this is humans - whose number of heartbeats is less, but their average lifespan is disproportionately higher.

The reason they gave was that humans wash their hands. Simple as that. All the epidemics enter through hand-mouth/eyes route.

Have soap dispensers in all the basins - and yes, you should use anti bacterial soap - just washing hands with water is not going to be of much help.

6. Bonus - Aerobics

This is the panacea to not only fighting flu - but to most of the ailments which might trouble us. If you think about it there is no way of fighting flu alone - your whole body has to be healthy - that will ward off lot many things - bad cholesterol, back aches, stiffness, excess fat build up.

So friends let us not wait till New Year to get healthy, this is the right time - we are being brainwashed with Swine flu scares by the media. Instead of reading reports and worrying, let us hit the healthy lifestyle button.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

JK Wedding video & more

I know I should not be writing about this video - according to Wired's How to Behave : New Rules for Highly Evolved Humans.

But I have to - this post is for my not-so-wired friends about a phenomenon that took the net world by storm. It is a video of a wedding party that makes its entrance dancing to a song ( thanks to this video the song- Forever by Chris Brown - went to the top in iTunes ).

Here is the real video :

And here is the spoof from college humour -Unexpected Divorce Intro - which takes things a little too far..:)

Enjoy !

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How to make a decision?

The last decade of my life has been very interesting - I had to take decisions at various points in my personal life as well as in my career - a few times the choice was very clear, at times both the choices looked equally attractive and at times both looked equally hard and difficult.

So how do we decide which one to take?

The thumbrule I have is - take the harder path. By harder I mean - I might have to work harder, educate myself on something new, might have to let go off my comfort zone, let go off things I love. But this might not be the case always - at times the easier option was also the best option.

So how do we know if the choice we had made is the right one?

The answer is - we will never know. If there was something called time travel then perhaps we will know. So I tell myself - the decision I took was the right one - always. I never regret on any decision I had taken because I know just around the corner I have one more decision to make which will be harder than the previous one. These things just keep coming :)

How about instincts & gut feeling?

Absolutely go for it - this works 9/10 times. From my personal experience and what I have found out from others - listening to your inner feeling, your heart - has a good success rate. I recommend reading Alchemist by Paulo Coelho - which will help open your ears to this heart/gut feeling of yours.

The Usual disclaimer : This post cannot be held responsible for the decisions you will be taking in your life :)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fuses blowing off is a good thing

Can anyone spot what is wrong with this picture? Look closely - there are no fuse carriers and the lines have been shorted by a thick piece of wire.

Wondering what it means? - When an electric surge happens - there is no fuse that will blow and break the circuit. The surge will go right into the homes and kill all the devices which are On at that time - TVs, bulbs, mobile chargers...

I am not trying to educate BESCOM electricians - they are lazy & crazy and they don't read my blog - but this post is about unit tests.

Last week I answered a questionnaire for a friend of mine who is doing a course work about Agile - one of the questions was - Is it not absurd to write unit tests?

The above picture is the answer to the question. Unit tests are like fuses - they blow up in your build and prevent a blow up in production in future. Commenting out an unit test is like shorting the circuit with a thick piece of wire - like in the above picture.

For eg., when a developer forgets to do a null check - and the failing unit test is not fixed, but instead is commented out - your users will be greeted with a Null Pointer exception on the last screen of a payment page. Imagine how mad your client will be?

Anyway I rest my case - next time when you comment out a failing test - think of that picture - and imagine a surge happening and hitting a 52" Plasma TV showing the last ball of a 20-20 match...pattt...bshhhhhh - and a bunch of hideously laughing BESCOM electricians.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Microsoft's battles

Microsoft is fighting lot of battles - that is one problem of being big.

OS : Windows vs OS X, Linux, Solaris, and now Google Chrome OS

Email : Hotmail/Live vs GMail, YMail

Search : Bing vs Google,Yahoo..

Database : MS Sql Server vs Oracle,MySQL,PostgreSql..

IM : MSN Messenger vs GTalk, Yahoo Messenger,IRC,Pidgin

Programming platform : .NET vs Java..

Languages : C#,VB.NET,ASP.NET vs Java, Ruby,Python,PHP,Perl..

Mobile OS : Windows Mobile vs Android, OS X, Symbian..

Media player : Zune vs iPod, Creative, Sony..

Office Suite : Microsoft Office vs OpenOffice, Google Apps

Browser : Internet Explorer vs Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Opera

Gaming Platform : XBox vs Nintendo, Sony and now iPhone

Vector graphics for web : Silverlight vs Flash, Flex

My head is spinning. If you notice the ones on the right of VS - for instance Opera - that is their entire life - the reason for their existence. They are focusing all their energies and souls into their products -yet Microsoft is able to match them and give a good fight.

Even though I am a MS baiter, I have to admit - Microsoft is good.

The above list is not complete. What other battles you think Microsoft is fighting?

Get inspired by the Spartans : "300" Movie Review


Have you seen the movie - 300? It is the story of 300 Spartans who defy all logic and fight against wave after wave of attacks by a much bigger Persian army. Technically it is a well made movie and is a good entertainer - but as an entrepreneur you can draw lot of inspiration from this movie.

The Spartans were severely outnumbered - but they believed in their abilities, their training, the trust they had with one another - sounds familiar? :)

As an entreprenur you will have to fight lot of battles - thought not as gory as Spartans.

Fight against a well established player :

Like the Spartans, when Apple started they had to fight IBM. When Pepsi started it had to fight Coke. You can find so many stories where a small company challenged the giant in the industry. If you are one of those entrepreneurs fighting a bigger player - keep going. If you believe in your abilties, in your team - even if it is small - you can win the battle eventually.

Fight against established norms :

Spartans did not believe that they had to match the enemy one to one in number. If they had stuck to the established military principle - they would have lost the battle even before it began. But they defied the established norm and held the Persian army at bay.

When twitter started, there was criticism. Why will anyone want to limit their thoughts to 140 characters when there are blogs? - and look what is happening today.

In NewZealand, Tendulkar was sent to open the innings, and instead of protecting the wicket and seeing through the initial overs,  he took advantage of the open boundaries and accelerated the score. Purists criticised him for rash play - but he changed Cricket forever.

Bend the rules to your advantage :

Spartans bent the rule by making Persians enter a smaller area to fight - so inspite of the Persian army having a larger force  they were forced to send only a few at a time to fight with the Spartans - which the Spartans decimated.

This is what all management books say - find out what is your core competency, your strength  - and try to  focus on that -  try and dictate how the battle has to be fought.

Take a couple of hours off - and you and your team watch this movie together - it will be quite an inspiration.

Some interesting quotes from the movie :

"Immortals... we put their name to the test. "

"We did what we were trained to do, what we were bred to do, what we were born to do! "

"Spartans! Ready your breakfast and eat hearty... For tonight, we dine in hell! "

"The world will know that free men stood against a tyrant, that few stood against many, and before this battle was over, even a God-king can bleed."

Monday, July 20, 2009

Staples Print Center's gift to me - Khatra.exe

Last weekend I went to Staples Print Center in Marathahalli - Printo has closed shop and moved out. And when I got home I plugged the USB drive into Vista and AVG Anti Virus did not complain - but I saw a program called Khatra.exe asking for Admin privileges to run.

Then I rebooted into Ubuntu and was horrified to see the files that were there. There were folders and lots of exes. Now I am upset with 2 entities here.

1. Staples Print Center

Printo always scans the flash drives ( even if it used to take time ) and not once they loaded viruses on to my USB drive. Wish Staples learns from their competitor and educates their employees to follow proper process ( I am sure Staples will have it in their employee handbook ).

2. Vista

I did not give administrative privileges to Khatra.exe, still it managed to copy itself in the registry in some 10 places, got itself added to startup , and had the guts to ask again for administrative privileges when I rebooted.

I am shocked that inspite of all the zombie Windows XPs on the net, Microsoft has not learnt a thing - it is still a MG road platform - anyone can come, sit, pitch their tent and start doing business.

I am seriously considering investing in Codeweaver or trying out Virtual Box for Ubuntu - Office is one thing that forces me to reboot to Windows. It has wasted a few hours of my time - imagine the billions of hours people will be losing all over the world because of poor security measures in the OS.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Some random photos

Photos shot on my Nokia 6630

with his Avva in Reliance Footprint while his Ma shops !

this is equivalent of commenting out the failing test because the entire build was failing ! forgot where I took this one.

in Lal Bagh or Cubbon park - one of them.

after Prithvi's birthday party.

Achu, this is for you !

on the terrace - should be the world for this little ant !

He is a Royal Challengers fan, but was just being nice.

Next in human evolution - use mouth for carrying stuff, so hands are free to tweet and blog.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

ApartmentAdda Interview & an update interviewed us recently - you can read about the interview in their blog.

Now for the update, my startup is no more a sole-proprietorship. It is now a Private Limited firm - 3Five8 Technologies Pvt. Ltd. When I started - sole proprietorship made sense - because it did not cost anything, nothing to register and I can concentrate on building the portal.

However, after the launch and after winning Adda's first premium customer and the subsequent customers I dealt with all had this uneasiness doing business with a sole proprietor. I understood that sole proprietorship was not sufficient any more. Finally kicked off the process in April sometime - took close to 2 months in my case because of various reasons.

Having a Pvt. Ltd. company gives confidence to my customers.

And it did cost quite a bit :

1. It costs quite a lot to register.... around 27k.

2. Every year the company has to submit its audited finances - even if it makes a loss. This is again around 25k every year.

3. You cannot simply shutdown a company. The procedure is very cumbersome and one has to get NoCs from every possible nook and corner.

4. Had to deposit 1 Lakh as initial investment - or show assets worth 1 Lakh to start.

I cannot imagine what the formalities will be for making a Public Ltd. company. If I do it one day I will blog here :)

Are you wondering what is 3Five8? - There is a sound reasoning behind the name but I am still debating whether to explain it or let people keep guessing what it means !

Friday, July 10, 2009

Book reviews on my new blog

I have started writing here in The theme mainly is books that are inspiring and valuable for an entrepreneur.

Here are the three posts I have written :

Follow your heart like Santiago - review of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Blaze a new path like Howard Roark - review of The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

Find the tipping point of your venture - review of The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

I will continue writing in this blog about technical things and a developer's perspective of running a startup and of course my frustrations with that browser and that operating system :)

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Find the tipping point of your venture


"The Tipping Point" is another interesting book from Malcolm Gladwell. "Tipping points" are the levels at which the momentum for change becomes unstoppable. He analyses how social epidemics start and classifies 3 kinds of people you will need - who will help your product/portal/message reach the tipping point.

Connectors : Connectors are passive information passers. "Hi I heard about this cool website..." - is what they will say - and they will say this to quite a few.

Mavens : Mavens are more factual. "Do you know you can get this and this done in this website..." - is what they will say. They analyze threadbare the features/shortcomings and will help the listener make a fair judgement of the product.

Salesmen : Salesmen are more persuasive.  "You should be using this website because it will save you time and effort...." is what they will say.  They not only do the job of mavens - by giving you facts but they also will list out the advantages in such a manner that will make the listener run and get it.

You have to spot the connectors, mavens and salesmen among your customers. The tried and tested advertising is word of mouth - it is very hard to get this kind of advertising, but this is the only way you can "tip" your business.

So - rethink your strategy. How do you get people to talk about your product - is it through doing more SEO, is it through meaningful articles on a blog, is it by talking more to your customers?  Wish I knew the right answer :) - but it does raise interesting questions - and in the answers lie the strategy to help your venture reach its tipping point.

Some interesting quotes from the book :

"The three rules of the Tipping Point -- The Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor, the Power of Context -- offer a way of making sense of epidemics. They provide us with direction for how to go about reaching a Tipping Point."

" Acquaintances, in short, represent a source of social power, and the more acquaintances you have the more powerful you are."

"Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do."

Monday, June 29, 2009

Blaze a new path like Howard Roark


"The FountainHead" by Ayn Rand is an eye opener in many ways. Howard Roark is an architecture school student who has a different philosophy on how buildings should be built. He wanted to build structures that will be aesthetically pleasing, economically meaningful, in tune with the environment and the building should make a statement. Whereas the industry was aping what the Gothic and romantic architectures of the past had built - with meaningless arches, facades and wasted space.

He is thrown out of his college because he refuses to design the traditional architecture and struggles for work - but he never once compromises on his ideals. He waits and his time comes and the world accepts his style of architecture. It is one man against a well established industry who tries hard to keep him down. But the harder you push a ball into water - the faster it rises out and with more force - Howard Roark wins in the end.

As an entrepreneur - you might have battles yourself - as you are trying to blaze a new path, a new product, a new concept. You might be told many a times that your idea will not work. Listen to them to retune your product or offering - but do not get discouraged. If you have faith in your idea just stick to your guns - you will win in the end. There are so many success stories out there where perseverance and believing in oneself helped create an industry.

This book is a hard read - 600 or so pages - and it takes a full 100 pages before the pace picks up. And the first half of the book is quite discouraging because Howard Roark goes to the very bottom - but the second half gets very interesting and you can relish his victories. Somewhere in the middle while Howard Roark is fighting a battle, he gives courage to a drama writer  - to take the hard path. The advice he gives very much will apply to an entrepreneur.

Some interesting quotes from the book :

"Wheeling his bicycle by his side, the boy took the narrow path down the slope ofthe hill to the valley and the houses below. Roark looked after him. He had never seen that boy before and he would never see him again. He did not know that he had given someone the courage to face a lifetime"

" I don't build in order to have clients. I have clients in order to build!"

"The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me"

Howard Roark you are my hero :)

Saturday, June 27, 2009


I was in school - 7th or 8th Standard is when I heard about Michael Jackson. I did not know how he looked, how he danced, how he sung - but I was already a fan. My friends who had listened to his music and seen video brought by their Amru uncle - told in such vivid details that MJ was already dancing in my imagination.

Then I caught MJ on World this Week - hosted by Prannoy Roy - the only window to the world I had at that time. And what I saw was better than what I had constructed in my memory.

Over the years I watched him fall from one disaster to another and prayed silently for him. And in 2000 he was awarded the greatest entertainer of the century by Mtv. And in his acceptance speech he said "You ain't seen nothing yet". Gave me hope - perhaps he has turned a new leaf and will produce another amazing album. Sadly the clock stopped for him.

I saw a tweet from someone yesterday - "even my office peon knows about MJ" - that sums it up how great a person he was.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tweets that does not make sense..

I love twitter. If you don't like twitter - still you can read this article - because you will get some fresh twitter bashing stuff

1. Boarded plane !

Oh you have a GPRS enabled mobile is it - oh it's an iPhone - so you are able to tweet till the flight attendant comes and asks you to switch off your phone and then give a dirty look to the guy next to you who has a Nokia 1001.

2. Good morning!

Dood - I live in India - and its evening for me. Try to understand - the world is not flat how much ever Thomas Friedmann has made millions out of that statement.

3. RT this RT that !

Well even I RT that at times but not all the time.There are tweeters who live only to RT. At times Tweet something other than 1) and 2) and I will follow you.

4. #fail !

I fail you. I see so many fails that it depresses me. I wish the tweeters use some other hash #boo, #yuck etc. Be creative. Fail brings back school day nightmares.

5. I bought an iPhone 3GS

Good for you. You can now tweet till the flight attendant comes to warn you.

and btw - you can follow me at and I assure you I follow proper tweetiquette.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Follow your heart like Santiago


The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho

This book written by the Brazilian author, Paulo Coelho - is a very very bad book - in a good way  - because it has the potential to change your life upside down !! You can finish it on a weekend  - 160 pages is all it is. It traces the journey of Santiago, the shepherd boy who goes in hunt of a treasure.

This book will have a huge impact on your life. While reading and after reading it will leave you disturbed, questioning yourself, and if you had suppressed a dream - a dream of starting your own business, or learning something like guitar which you keep postponing, or going on a crazy bike ride to another city - anything - these dreams will come alive and will dance before you.

The book teaches  you to follow your heart. It is as simple as that. In fact all of Paulo Coelho's books have this recurring theme - do not suppress your dream, you have one life and you have to allow it to go where it is destined to go. Do not restrict yourself saying this is all you were born to do - a 9 to 6 job, slogging at work day in and day out. Take risks, and let your heart decide what is to be done - and 9 out of 10 situations your heart will pick the right path.

Go ahead hunt for the treasure by listening to your heart - your heart already knows where the treasure is.

Some memorable quotations from the book:

"When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it."

"There is only one way to learn. It's through action."

"Listen to your heart. It knows all things, because it came from the Soul of the World and it will one day return there."

"There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure."

If you are interested you can read what I wrote about this book a year back on my personal blog - when I was still working 9 to 6 -

Monday, June 15, 2009

3 Reasons why India should stick just to IPL

I wasted sleep yesterday night to watch Indians play test cricket and lose. And here is my advise to India - stick to IPL and do not bother about playing world cups. 

3. Better Prime time

In this world cup India matches start(ed) at night 10.00PM. Given that only Indians watch cricket how can they schedule all India games at 10.00PM? You are wondering about the non-Indians sitting in the stadium? -  they were brought to the stadium with beer - like how they do in Indian elections. 

With IPL the game bends for you. Games start at 3.00PM to kill afternoon boredom at office and they give a break so commuters can fight the way through traffic and reach on time to watch the next match at 7.00PM. And go to sleep at night 10.00PM. Early to bed and early to rise - IPL is good for your health.

2.  Guaranteed Runs

In IPL, any team will have 2 good bowlers and the rest will be like henchmen in movies who are there to be beaten up. So just save your wickets till the henchmen come on the scene. And to support the super star batsmen are the flat pitches. There is guaranteed fireworks in every match.

World cup is so boring. It is like watching a one day - too many dots because of good bowlers. And the pitches are not flat. All the balls keep coming to the chest or face and poor Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Jadeja cannot handle them  - so unfair.

1. You never lose

I was rooting for Chennai Super Kings till they lost. And Bangalore, my adopted city, reached finals. I conveniently changed my allegiance. You cannot do this with the world cup. Since India is gone I cannot start rooting for another country - there is no fun in watching a game without rabidly supporting a team.

In IPL and the Amru sports - like the world series or super bowl - no one goes home sad. At times you watch a game supporting for both the teams. I watched a world series once where I supported New York Yankees because of Derek Jeter and also at the same time rooted for Boston Red Socks - because they had flair and their players had unkempt hair and were such mavericks. 

So Modi, I hope you are listening. Increase the IPL games and we will all be winners. 

Monday, June 01, 2009

PINIP, MINO and VINOSX - Upcoming products from Redmond

Following the phenomenal success of BING ( aka - Bing is not Google) which is actually Microsoft's Live search renamed and a 100 Million dollar marketing budget , Microsoft is preparing more product launches along similar lines.

PINIP - Pinip is Not iPod. Bloggers will go crazy with this name - Zune never had the hipness to it. Along with a 1000 Million dollar budget, they can use the money to buy it off the shelves and prove Zune has more market share than iPod.

MINO - Mino is not Oracle. With Oracle now owning MySQL the rich and poor use Oracle's databases. By renaming MS Sql server with a jazzy name like MINO - Oracle will have to forego hogging the database market and instead concentrate on reviving the companies it killed by buying them - like PeopleSoft, Sun etc.

VINOSX - Of course you guessed it right - V is not OS X and is actually Vista repackaged. Difficult to pronounce but with a 100000 Million dollar marketing budget with lots of youtube ads, banner ads, television ads, super bowl commercials Microsoft can sell this name..and the OS.

Its all in the marketing folks - poor Sergey,Larry, Jobs, Ellison, Torvalds don't seem to know this and are wasting their energies and R&D Budget.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

How to watch Tamil TV Serials !

The last couple of days I am watching Tamil TV Serials - during lunch and dinner. I have to socialize with the guests who are visiting us. It will not be manners to read a book when guests are around you see.

So here is how I entertain myself.

1. Watch the side actors. Usually the main heroine ( no heroes ) will be talking a few pages of scripts in one go. And time to time the side actors will keep looking at each other. It is so funny. At times one actor will try to look at the other - and she/he will be listening intently and will not look.

2. Watch for mistakes. There are so many. Usually when there is a large crowd there will be 5 or 6 people who will never get a dialogue. Keep looking at them - and they will keep seeing into the camera now and then.

3. Guess the cliche statement that will emerge out of the actor's mouth. You will win all the time.

"Enn uyiruai kuduthaavathu unnai kaapaathuvaen"
"Vaanga. Coffee saapidureengala"
"Nalla mugurtham paarthu sollnuga"

There is more to entertain yourself. Guess what they really wanted to speak.

"Unnoda Call Sheet mudiyuthu. Seekiram sethu tholai"
"Vaanga. Beer saapidureengala?"
"Marriage set innamum ready aagalai - 2 months thalli date iruntha sollunga"

Here is my suggestions to the script writers to hook up people like me.

1. Mix up a few sports news in dialogue.

"Chennai Kings kalakuraangala"
"Chelsea manager sothapeetaan"
"Gilli marana adi adikuraan"

2. Product placements.

For instance, all the actors use a cellphone. Why can't they use it to their advantage -

"Entha Phone ithu? Oh Nokia N97. Cool machi"
"Wow Flat screen - Samsunga - nalla color kaatuthu"
"Oooh Mac Book" ( If a day comes to this Steve Jobs will be selling movie tickets in black )

3. Mix a few PJs

I understand you script writers dilemma. Years of writing cliche after cliche dialogue has blunted the brain. Suddenly you cannot ask them to write jokes - atleast browse on the internet and insert a few PJs here and there.

"Knock knock"
"Why did the kozhi cross the road pa?"
"Intha Blonde joke kelaaen?"

God save Tamil TV Viewers.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Finally Switched from Vista to Ubuntu 9

Finally I have made the jump from Windows to Linux - the 3rd time. First 2 times I did it when I was on a J2EE project ( weblogic environment ) and a SOA project ( Tomcat ). Once I rolled off the projects again I had to go back to Windows.

Now this is the 3rd time I am switching and along with it the development environment of Apartment Adda to Ubuntu and I will be here for quite some time - perhaps till I get a powerbook ;) The build and production are already on linux - so it was easy to make the switch - the scripts were all working. A few things were holding me back - like Nokia PC Suite, ITunes, Chrome - but I am feeling better already for having made the choice.

1. Ubuntu 9 is slick, good on eyes and blazingly fast

My thumbrule for judging the performance of an OS is - everything should launch like how a notepad launches in Windows XP ( vista notepad takes longer than XP notepad). In Ubuntu most of the apps meet the critieria. Ubuntu boots really fast and is immediately responsive after desktop comes up and doesn't cheat like XP or Vista. 

2. Terminal

I had putty for SSHing, a cygwin window for tailing error file, and a command prompt for building, running tests - I know I could have merged cygwin window and command prompt - habits die hard. Now I have one window - with tabs for each of the above. Really neat - and I have switched to the mainframe green - gives me a nostalgic feeling since thats where I started my career.

3. Multiple Workspaces

I am a big fan of multiple workspaces. Missed it in Windows and earlier OS X versions. Helps segregate work and fun. Now with extended desktop and multiple workspace - it is productivity quadrapled. And to switch all I have to do is to move the mouse to the desktop area where there are no windows and scroll the mouse wheel - and it switches.

4. Feeling light

I am not running any of the memory hogs :

1. AVG Anti virus
2. Windows Defender
3. Windows Firewall
4. Spybot S&D


Vi, cron jobs, apt-get ( debian specific though ), pipe, grep - the list of toys is endless. Now when I think back I should have switched in Jan 09 when I got this laptop. But kept postponing the switch thinking it will take time to set things up - apparently it took me half a day yesterday and the time / frustration saved from today onwards will pay back within a week.

What I will miss : 

ITunes, Chrome, Nokia PC Suite, Tortoise SVN, HeidiSQL... Do let me know if youknow of some alternatives.

So after crying here : and misjudging here : - I have made the switch wholeheartedly and following is the request my machine will be making to the webservers all over the world - doesn't it look beautiful :)

Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv: Gecko/2009042523 Ubuntu/9.04 (jaunty) Firefox/3.0.10

Friday, May 15, 2009

Who will lose in this election?

It is easy to accurately predict who all will lose in this election. A fractured mandate is bad for the country.  Here is my list of losers because of this election 09.

1. Environment

With the makeshift horse traded government trying to hold on to power on a day to day basis - the environment will never show up any where on the radar. Instead we will see environmentally unfriendly projects getting sanctioned at a furious pace - because even before the PIL can be submitted - the minister in charge might be replaced and a new government would have come. Make hay while the sun shines will be order of the day. Sorry Earth.

2. Economy

I feel sorry for the poor sods (including yours truly ) who have sunk their money in Stock Market . I am predicting market to fall to 8000 in the next few months. The parliment will be run by everything other than pragmatism. With the netas whims and fancies changing on a day to day basis - and along with it the fluctuating majority - and along with it the market will keep plunging. 

3. Aam Aadmi 

The new Government's life span is in weeks to months. They will not think even of a 1 year long project. So no new infrastructure projects will start, no improvements to healthcare or education will happen- everything that a Government is supposed to do - goes for a toss. 

Of course the politicians are not responsible for this mess - they would say it is the Aam Aadmi is to be blamed for having voted such a fractured mandate.

The world will turn dark tomorrow ( May 16th when counting will begin ). Brace up folks - and get ready for a rough ride in the coming few months. Probably my next posts will make fun of our pathetic situation and wont be this gloomy - so don't blacklist my blog yet :)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Specialization is for insects

There is this age old debate - should you specialize on a skill, or generalize and become a jack of all trades?

Heres a quote that answers the question :

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, and die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
– Robert A. Heinlein — from The Notebooks of Lazarus Long

There are exceptions - but as a generalization - the above quote is spot on. In any career you will have your main stream ( BA, Developer, QA, Architect etc. ) - but to become really kickass in your stream - you have to develop other surrounding skills.

Where I am coming at is - as an entrepreneur you will be forced to don many hats. I have met a few entrepreneurs who will dig through their card holder to give me their appropriate business card. They actually have multiple business cards with various designations like VP, Architect, CTO, Business development manager etc. Perhaps they might not be the best in all the roles - but overall they trump the specialists.

So go ahead. If you are a developer talk to your QA, BA, PM, HR, RM, BDM, MD - on what they do, how they do, problems they face, how they tackle - whenever you get a chance - these chats will help you in your career and will help you some day when you run a startup - where you have to be a little of everything.

So become the jack of all trades and a master of one or two.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Chennai Vs Bangalore

Some people will live and die for a city. I am not one of them - and I will objectively analyze which city is a best fit for me - a 30+ year old dad, techie, non-pub hopper, digs Chettinad food and Saravana Bhavan, and who enjoys the beach. By now you know where my allegiance is :)

Beach Vs Mall

The beach might not be how it used to be 10 years back - but still the salty air and cool breeze are the same. No one can prevent the breeze from hitting me - and every time I go to Beasant Nagar beach it reminds me one of the fun times I had there - late night cricket, intellectual and mushy exchanges...numerous.

When I go to a mall I get blinded, suffocated and when I come out I feel drained of my energy and am happy to get out of the mall.

Chennai : 1 
Bangalore : 0


Traffic has shot up everywhere - even in tier 3 cities. Chennai traffic is still smooth like butter. You wait only once in any signal - lots of flyovers and smart traffic management ensures you keep moving. Bangalore - uggh.  Driving is zero fun in Bangalore.

Chennai : 2
Bangalore : 0


Chennai has got great food at affordable rates.   Saravana Bhavan and chettinad joints are there everywhere - Karaikudi, Ponnuswamy, Anjappar - and you can get a tall Falooda for 75Rs ( in Anjappar ) with an umbrella. Try to get one like that in Bangalore for the same price. 

However, to Bangalore's credit the type of cuisines are endless - konkani, mangalorean, name it - it is there in Bangalore. It might be costlier than Chennai but I would award equal points to both.

Chennai : 3
Bangalore : 1 

Chennai Super Kings vs Bangalore Royal Challengers

Awarding points to both. BRCs seem to be fighting back.

Chennai : 4
Bangalore : 2 


Chennai wins hands down. I spotted 2 Audis in a space of an hour. There are so many Mercedes. And once I was sandwiched between 2 Mercedes - felt as if I was being escorted like a rock star. Bangalore? Too many indicas, sumos - and even if an Audi R8 pulls next to me I will not notice - I will think it is a figment of my imagination.

Chennai : 5
Bangalore : 2


Ahem. Heres where things get tied.

Chennai : 5 ( wanted to give a negative score )
Bangalore : 5  ( awarding a whopping 3 pointer ) 

Bottomline - it is a tough choice. You go where your career takes you - rest of the things you can compromise and live and hope things change for the better. 

And finally to sum things up here is my haiku that I wrote when I was in Chennai.

Audi might have got its quattro
But Chennai still has its bovonto*

Dhoni might be from Ranchi
But he is now Chennai's own Machi**

* Bovonto is a fruit drink looks black in color and bottle says - "does not have fruit juice or pulp". Is as bad and unhealthy as a Pepsi or Coke and does not have an Amir Khan or SRK peddling it - but tastes fantastic. You can still find it in Chennai.

** Valid till he is bought by a Mumbai or a Kolkata team.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Fight the Good Fight !

Book Review - The Pilgrimage

The book is all about fighting the good fight!

When we were young we had dreams but did not have the skills to achieve the dream. Then we educate ourselves, and through apprenticeship learn the skills to achieve the dream. However while doing so we lose sight of our dream and when we have the skills - we do not fight for the dream. "Fight the good fight" - Paulo's guide tells him - inorder to achieve your dream. 

The second interesting thing is - we all fight for a reward. We achieve a dream so we can get a reward. But we never think what we will do with the reward. Once you answer it - the process of achieving your dream, getting your reward becomes easy and more meaningful. 

Finally, during the course of the book you will realize how a devil is as important as an angel. Confused - let me explain from what I understood. Angel is the one that protects you. Devil always looks out for its own good and is selfish. Wondering how a devil can help you? Well - devil is the one who will help you inflict injury to your enemy - so if you can use your devil appropriately - he will not desert you in a fight ( to save himself ) but you can use the negative energy to inflict injury to your enemy - and win the fight.

I will not recommend this book if you are not a Paulo Coelho's fan. Try Alchemist first and then come to this book - you might appreciate it. 

What I like in Paulo Coelho's books is how he gives different perspectives to well established things (devil/angel for instance ) and how you can relate your life to the events in the protogonist's life  as you are reading the book.

Now I am off to fight the good fight :) 

Saturday, April 18, 2009

IPL 09 or Election 09 - which is the best entertainment?

I feel Election 09 is more wholesome entertainment than IPL 09 - here is my top 5 reasons.

5. Cricket is a boring sport and IPL is trying to make it interesting and is quite successful in it. Politics has been the world's most oldest profession/game/sport and Elections make it really interesting. So no contest in this front.

4. IPL has got too many statistics - Net run rate, Batsman's average, Bowlers average - it all confuses me and is too much for my mind. I like what Election 09 is going to throw up - all within 545 seats distributed among 1025 parties - and you can play the permutation and combination to see who can make the magic 272 - except make sure you dont club the 2 big parties ( now why don't they partner for a change...that will be fun!)

3. IPL needs gimmicks like cheer leaders, bollywood actress and actors to keep people glued to the screen. Netas need no help from any quarters. They goof up enough, say outrageous things, call names of their opponents - its like reliving kindergarden once again. 

2. IPL is short lived. You have it for a few weeks and then its all over. But Election 09 is going to continue for ever - according to most of the predictions it is going to be a hung assembly. It is bad for the economy but good for TV, Newspaper, Coffee machine gossip. A humble farmer, a 10000 shoe owner, a buffalo milker - everyone has a chance to lead us now. Tell me can IPL give you so much of thrill - that too not for just a couple of weeks - but for the many months to come? 

1. Best reason of all - IPL is a non entity in the world's eyes - except Australia, SouthAfrica, Indian sub continent. No not England - they invented Cricket and pushed it down our throats - but now have switched to Soccer. But Election 09 will keep Mr.Obama, Zardari, Sarkozky, Putin - all glued to the television sets, twitter accounts or whatever - to find out how the political landscape is shaping. Which language should these leaders start learning - the language of the cows, language of the soil, language of kids ( hehe :) )? 

We are giving them nervous breakdowns - because like it or not India is on the highway to becoming a super power and Election 09 is going to be a major event in the World's history. IPL is a mere blip. Forget Mc.Cain vs Obama battle - that was nothing. Lets watch Congress vs BJP vs Third Front vs We-are-not-the-fourth-front vs The-unknown-front-to-be-formed after election front.

So, get ready by stocking up on Filter Coffee. Cut down on your morning jogging routine to give more time for reading Newspaper. Things are going to get very interesting. Trust me - you will not bother reading the sports page.