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.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Tech Choices a StartUp Developer has to make

The eco system for programming languages and frameworks is well evolved - and is continously evolving. As a web developer you are faced with many choices. I have tried to capture some of the options I had to evaluate for Apartment Adda. I have left out the esoteric languages and frameworks which have not become mainstream yet.

Programming Language - Java, PHP, Ruby, Python

This is the first decision a developer has to make and might be the easiest choice - pick the one where you have the most expertise. However if you are well versed in more than one language - pick the one that will suit your startup - based on the funds you have ( cheapest to host will be php to Java hosting being expensive) , speed at which you want to release ( php/rails being fastest to Java being the slowest ), team's expertise ( java developers being easy to find and ruby developers being hard to find ) etc.

Framework Choices - Rails, ActiveRecord, CakePHP, Spring, Hibernate, Django..

In most of the cases the framework and language decision will go hand in hand. If you pick Rails and active record then you will be going with Ruby. If you pick Spring,Hibernate - then you will pick Java. In the end it all boils down to the passion and expertise you have with the languages and frameworks.

One advice I have here is - do not pick a language/framework to educate yourself. You can try to learn from a hobby project - but not with a startup. The honeymoon period is only till your launch date when you can learn/play/experiment. But after launch you cannot go back on any of your decisions - and you cannot afford to have downtime, bugs or incomplete features - customers these days are spoilt with high quality and feature rich applications like Gmail, Facebook etc. and they will expect the same out of your product too. So picking a language/framework where you are The Guru will save you from lot of trouble.

Database - MySQL,PostgreSQL

Tough choice here. Both are equally good. MySQL wins the popularity contest.

Javascript Frameworks - Dojo, MooTools,Prototype,Scriptaculous

Try looking at the showcases each framework provides and also look at the sample code. Pick the one that will suit your design and also factor in the size of the compressed file. I do not understand why the browsers won't include the javascript framework in their installers.

Development OS - OS X, Linux, Windows

Sometimes you are forced to work with an OS ( Windows because of Nokia PC software which will not work in linux). Some times you have no choice but to work with an OS ( linux for hosting / build machine ). Most of the time, for a startup, you will not have money for luxuries so you can only drool at OS X screenshots. Sigh.

Hosting - Shared or Dedicated

Avoid shared hosting. It will be the cheapest option - but you will have trouble later with ip address being blacklisted because a spammer was sitting next to you. Dedicated hosting costs a little more but it will be worth it and also you get full control.


A developer's dream come true - need not touch javascript. If you choose GWT most of the tech choices are already made for you.

HTML/CSS : Table vs DIV

I don't have enough expertise with DIVs so I built my layout with Tables - simple as that. Even though I hear lot of advantages of DIVs I decided to go with Tables - looks great even when browser is resized, resolution is changed, some content decides to grow out of hand etc.

Richeditor frameworks - YUI Rich Text editor, TinyMCE, NicEdit

No clear winner - each has its own quirks and strong points. This one you can easily change even after going live.

IDE - Eclipse, IDEA, Netbeans

Perhaps IDEA might be the first software license I purchased. There are open source alternatives for almost everything - Office, Photo editing etc. But IDEA burns all the open source alternatives to ash with its blazing speed and shortcuts.

I guess this covers most of the choices I think I made. Do point out any choices I might have missed and any better alternatives you have come across.

Walden - I give up!

With much bravado I began reading Walden by Thoreau. After completing Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Ayn Rand's Fountain Head and Atlas Shrugged - I thought I can take on anything.

I tried reading this book off and on for the last 3 months. During this time I finished reading a lot of books ( I read in parallel and have atleast 2 books that I keep alternating ) - but I never got beyond 20 pages of Walden. 

I can safely apply a quote of my friend, Akbar - "it is a lot of tedious nonsense" - he used it for the Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance. 

Thoreau brags about his minimalistic life. But he has not seen the iPod, iPhone, Audi A4, Wii, Internet, Kulfi icecream and so many good things in life - why the heck will I let go off enjoying them or not work hard towards achieving these pleasures.

Second reason why I gave up was I never quite got the writing style of Thoreau. I would read a page then at the end of it will realize - man I have been dreaming of something while reading it - It was like reading the Power Electronics book once again. I would again read the page and still it will not make sense. After the reading streak in me that began with Ulysses in Dec 2007 ( when I started commuting by Volvo to work ) - this is the first book I am giving up. Sorry Thoreau - I have to disagree with you on your philosophy, your writing and your style. Perhaps English and Literature enthusiasts will praise you all over the world - but not me. I stand by my statement. 

Now where is my minimalistic iPod - that I like !