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Showing posts from 2012

The Enemy is Within

The delhi events going on are as if it was scripted right out of a poorly made Political themed movie.

In Rang De Basanti, the mom of a fallen soldier gets lathi charged. A similar photo was captured a few days back and got circulated.

A police stamping the face of a kid lying on the ground - apparently stolen from a different protest is now being circulated by the protestors on Police atrocity.

Honourable Prime Minister addresses the nation - reads out a lifeless 2 para speech in English assuring Security for all women and utters  "Theek hai" to check with the cameraman if it recorded fine which the editors missed to cut off - and it has become the new joke.

A police constable who collapsed because of Heart Attack and unfortunately died has now taken the center stage as cases have been booked against 8 kids - even though the Doctors have said there was no internal or external injury and cause of death is Cardio Arrest.

I doubt if anyone still remembers why this all started.…

How do you change a Society?

The past few days I am reading news and protests centred around the atrocity committed on a 23 year old College Student by 6 drunken men. Right now college students in Delhi are fighting with Delhi Police demanding harsh sentences to the accused. Perhaps their anger is not towards the 6 accused - but the general malaise that has spread on how a woman is treated in India. Perhaps they are demanding for a draconian law to punish the criminals.

Go back a few months - Anna Hazare was on a fast unto death to brink Janlokpal bill to curb corruption. Anna Hazare has a clear plan - have a good law and that will curb corruption.

In both these instances will a law help in preventing both these crimes?

Can a law change a society?

Indian Men should respect Woman and accept them as their equals if not more.

We should stop taking short cuts and not use our unfair advantage ( be it a last name that I have or a big fat wallet ) in order to trample upon others.

Can a law bring the change in the above …

Gandhi

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Gandhi is the father of the nation. He preached ahimsa. Got freedom for India. A compelling movie was made by Hollywood that went to win Oscars..


I did not know this man's greatness till yesterday.




Blame the boring History books of this country - they never taught how cool this man is. I was busy mugging the dates and the events to get marks - actually used to hate these history classes.

It was the last keynote of TiE Summit held on Dec 20,21 in Goregaon, Mumbai. I was actually bored - a linkedin geek came and gave a geeky boring presentation. Sorry dude - any other day I would have appreciated the hard work and innovation that is happening in linked in - but I did not pay to TiE for this gyan. Rant done. 
Then this fine old gentleman, Alyque Padamsee - comes on stage - with lot of difficulty he climbs the stairs. I had no clue who he was - [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alyque_Padamsee ]. Apparently he is the father of Indian Advertising and has created over 100 brands in his tim…

Paulo Coelho - A Warrior's life

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I read Paulo Coelho's - The Alchemist - in mid-2008. The right book to come to my hand at the right time of my life. If I write my auto-biography some day I will give credit to The Alchemist for having changed the direction of my life. 
After that I read all his books and loved them all. I am not a big fan of biographies but after reading Steve Jobs my opinion on biographies have changed - now I am curious to know what made them successful. 
I picked up this biography on Paulo Coelho and got a glimpse of my favourite author.
He had a troubled childhood. He had no interest in schooling but was a voracious reader - he was crunching 300 books in a year at one time! That is almost like one a day. 
He was a rebel, did not want to toe the line his parents were setting up for him - the usual college education - but wanted to be a writer. Conflicts happened everyday and Paulo was generally not interested in his daily life. His parents put him in a mental asylum - 3 times. He was made to …

Running,Growth and Happiness

I clocked the last 2 runs at an incredible pace ( by my standards )

10Kms in 1 Hour 2 minutes.

If you are a pro I can hear your chuckle. But this is a 37 year old who had not run or worked out till 35 years of his life - and was never those athletic types.

And here I am - clocking better and better timings.

July 2012 I did 10K in 1 Hour 8 minutes

May 2012 I did 10K in 1 Hour 18 minutes

Nov 2011 I did 10K in 1 Hour 35 minutes

Feels as if my pace is increasing. The real reason for better timings is nowadays I don't take any breaks while running - not even slowing down for a walk. I am getting efficient in running. My pace seems to be the same.

I am growing well when it comes to running!

And this makes me happier.

But this happiness will not last long. I will be gloating over this 10k timings for another 2 or 3 runs and my happiness will wane. Then I will be setting a new target - either 10k under 1 hour or 12.5k.

Why I am doing this? Why am I not satisfied with my new timings? Am I …

Starbucks and I.

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Few weeks back I was reunited with Starbucks. And here is the story.

Way back in 2001, I was a FOB ( Fresh out of the Boat ), in Louisiana State University ( LSU ), Baton Rouge. While roaming around the campus I came across this Coffee shop in the campus Bookshop which was serving coffee at 4$. And it had a funny name - Starbucks.

Right opposite it was McDonalds - and for 4.5$ I could get a good filling burger, french fries and a large coke drink - enough for that day's hunger needs. ( it was 2001 - I was still young and was burning Bank of India loan money and was in the midst of an economic downturn in my life. ). I added a mental note to check this coffee shop someday.

I don't remember when I had my first cuppa - would be after I got an assistantship most probably - but for a coffee addict the taste and caffeine kick was out of the world. I remember I had a Caramel Frappuccino and it had stayed from that day since as my favourite.

Much later, in 2006 when I started work at …

Should death be depressing?

Yesterday morning I woke up to see the news of the passing away of Moorthy Uncle in our Apartment Complex. He was an enthusiastic retired Bank Manager - full of knowledge and vision - and it's a big loss to our community.  He was an initiator of eco-projects and also kept a reality check on us in our Association dealings.

I was sad initially but then started thinking - every year some 10% of the people I know are bound to pass away. When Steve Jobs passed away I got sad. Some day the other people I "worship" are all going to pass away.

Wouldn't life be too depressing? - to wake up every day to mourn.

Perhaps it's time I take a second look at death and look in its eyes. The souls who are here are done with this adventure - Jobs created the PC industry, Tablet industry, Phone industry, Moorthy Uncle in his stint as a Bank Official must have made a difference to many lives who I will never know - but I know that he started eco projects in our Apartment Complex.  Now…

iDo, iDont, iDo, iDont..

iPhone5 is around the corner.

Rewinding back to 2008 when iPhone was introduced in India. I was working in ThoughtWorks that time, and I badly wanted the iPhone. I had read so much about it and I was in awe.

And the price was quoted - ( around 30k - dont remember ) and I was floored. I didnt buy one as I was hoarding cash towards doing a startup. I envied the iPhones which some of the lucky bachelor guys had splurged themselves with.

Fast forward to 2010 - iPhone3 was introduced at around 36k I guess. I went and bought Samsung Galaxy S for 28k which looked like iPhone and had this Android thingy on it.

And it was one of the best buys. I started on 2G and could SSH to my servers smoothly.  Later 3G came along and there was no looking back. I was available round the clock - I can process all my emails, view attachments, chat during the long train journeys between Mumbai and Bangalore, could upload Photo tweets, download podcasts while running if I was bored - in short - could go around …

Gorai Beach

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Last weekend we made a trip to Gorai Beach - in the northern part of Mumbai. Even though it was a Sunday it was empty!

We took an auto from Kandivali East from our home. The auto guy asked us how do you want to go - trick question. The wife smartly answered - whichever has less traffic. The meter reading came to 7.3 ( return it was 5.5 ) - and he took us for a ride through winding roads.


We reached the Gorai Creek and got into a Ferry. Many had come with their 2 wheelers and I was wondering why they will need it. On the other side it became apparent. The beach was quite far. Autos were plying for Rs.50. Horse cart was Rs.80. And its fun to take your own 2 wheeler if you can. Worth it.

And the beach was dreamy! - not like the Chennai ones with sand getting into ones toes. The sand was black and wet. And it was a huge beach. We had to walk half a km to reach the water - which was very shallow.

The car waalae had brought their cars and were driving it really fast splashing! I was lookin…

4Hour Work Week!

I always thought the 4 Hour Work Week book was a scam. This is a shining example for the adage - Do not judge a book by its covers.

This book is a Whack on the side of the head  ( another good book! ) - made me rethink what I am doing with my life.

Here are the important take aways :

1. Work less for Better Productivity.

I did not end up working 4 Hours per week ( yet :) ). But I definitely work lot lesser now. However I am more productive than before.

What am I doing different?

a. No more FB, Twitter, Google Plus ( adding for posterity's sake...I had to think hard to remember what was the other one )

b. No more checking and responding emails round the clock. I batch them. Best part is some of the issues will get resolved by itself by the time I check. Now I check emails around 10am ( when I come to work ), 2pm ( after lunch ) and 5pm ( before the team goes home )

c. Give aggressive deadlines. I have started biting more than I can chew - and guess what I chew more nowadays! - This …

Do It Yourself!

CRM

3 years back, we had a decision to be made in the team. Should we use a CRM software like Salesforce, HighRise or get an open source one like Sugar CRM, or build one in-house.

For a Bootstrapped startup "money" is this big fat guy sitting across the table, without a care,  smoking cigar and blowing rings in the air - while we fight it out. He finally clears his throat and says - to hell with your arguments this is what you should do - and he leaves the room.

It was decided for us - and we decided to build a simple CRM in-house. The interface is not fancy, no configuration  was necessary - because this is a square peg fitting exactly into a square hole and had no unnecessary reports, and no data upload was needed.

We started with simple categories - Boo, Cold, Warm, Hot, Super Hot, Win.

It did not make sense - so we changed them to Boo, Uncategorized, Nurture, Qualified, Demo, Propose, Negotiate, Negotiate Critical,Collect Cheque and Win.

Whenever the team says - man this suc…

Taming Lion

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(image credit : http://especiallyemilyd.blogspot.in/2010/10/lion-and-tigers-and-tamers-oh-my.html )
Last weekend I went to a mall and was playing with an iMac - what a beauty it is. Apps were loading with one click and they looked beautiful on a gorgeous display. 

I got home and checked my 13" Mac book pro which is nearing its complimentary 1 year warranty  ( debating whether to bite the expensive Apple Care or going Commando ). It was slow. Really slow. I longed for the spiffy machine I once used to have.

This put me on a hunt and meanwhile set up development environment in Windows and worked on it for a day to see how things are.

Here is the bitter truth - Apple Fans - OS X Lion sucks at Memory Management. The net is ablaze with cribs and complaints on how poorly Lion manages memory - inspite of Macs being blessed with super powerful processors and enormous amount of RAM.

Still I would vote OS X Lion to be the best in class for Productivity and by the amount of things one can get d…

This country is becoming a bore

My crazy nation - India - is the one I am talking about. It is getting really boring day by day.

Zero sense of humour among the ruling class


They do not get a joke. Sometime back an enterprising guy created a video called Manmohansingham - it was very funny and if I was Manmohan Singh I would have sent him a free iPad.  Instead that poor kid got a threatening letter and a take down notice was issued to all the sites hosting it.

The list goes on and on - the Prince / PM in waiting does not joke at all. He is so young ( mid 40s I believe ) and he is going to be in play for the next 40 or so years - and I am getting choked thinking how I will spend the second half of my life - in utter boredom.

Recently the center that spends our tax money - was busy enacting drama on a funny cartoon from 1950s.. now this puts all the cartoonists in self doubt.

To be honest - I am only being partly true - I am getting good entertainment from the ladies - Selvi Jayalalitha ( 1 year = 100 years equivalent o…

Games Businesses play on Facebook and Twitter

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I am not going into SEO and other games. This is about the new-age social media games companies are playing now.


Facebook Games

I used to drop my jaw in awe when I see some businesses having thousands of "likes". I still remember the early days when there was a bet in our team when ApartmentADDA will reach 50 likes. We are yet to reach the 1000 like mark. We let it grow organically and don't game on the likes.

However recently one of our "neighbours" in this domain, "just" jumped from 900 or so likes to - hold your breath - 9000+ likes overnight. I could not believe my eyes when I saw it.  They must have  bought these likes from some company which sells "likes" -  these are the 'work from home and earn money' shops.  If you look at Timeline then you will find where this abnormal jump happened - in May alone there were 5k likes - and may is not over yet. They had a similar jump in April. This is for a fan page which had tanked at 900 fo…

Nurtureshock

For a self proclaimed geek - most of the things in life are under control. There are manuals and APIs for almost everything  around me.

4 years back a toy, which we named Prithvi, got delivered that did not have a manual nor an API. Has a mind of its own and it controls me - somehow the toy has read my APIs very well. It can make me buy ice-cream, chocolate, juice or take him to a mall - he has more wins in the constant mind control battle that is going on between us.

Sometime back I stumbled on this interesting book - Nurtureshock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman.  It was an eye opener of sorts. This book is a good summary of the research that is happening on Child Psychology - written in a Malcolm Gladwellish style.

Good Job, WoW, You are so Smart!

I do it all the time - thinking it builds his self-confidence. Apparently this works the opposite way. The kid does get the confidence to believe in himself and attempt tougher things. After a while he stops attempting to learn new things…

The Startup Run

Instagram was acquired by Facebook for $1 Billion - roughly Rs.5000 Crores - we usually hear these numbers only from Scams. This set me thinking about money - and is it what we should all be running after?

Before I get into money I want to share an important lesson I learnt on Running.Whenever I start with an end goal saying today I will run 8Kms, or will run 5 Kms within 30 minutes - I have a very bad run.

I will get exhausted fast, I will get angry with myself as midway when I check I will realize that I am not going to reach my goal and I will start running harder. My mood and run will be on a downward spiral at that point onwards and I will end my run frustrated and depressed. Every single time I had set this kind of a goal - the end result is the same.

However, the days when I am in a great mood and I run freely and simply enjoy the run - I run really really well. I do not get exhausted, I do not tire, my timing is great, and I can keep running longer distances.

A goal is important…

Flow on OS X

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I keep looking for flow / zone while working. Any interruption in my workflow will break my "flow state" and will drain my energy quickly.

However when I am in the zone, things will flow smoothly, I can look ahead and  spot potential bugs, I will get new ideas, better optimizations, I can write better blog posts or difficult emails - it is like being in a meditative state - I am the happiest at this point - it is a beautiful and calming feeling - a zen like state and it leaves me refreshed and I can keep working at this state the entire day.

Ever since I moved to OS X Lion I was always looking for ways to make my workflow smooth - so it fits in my flow and does not disturb it. I kept trying various options till I hit on the best combination to keep me moving without any slow downs or distractions.

Here is how I started :

Different Spaces / Virtual Desktop 

I kept creating a few spaces like the Virtual Desktops I used to have in Ubuntu - a primary development area, communication, …

A simple thumb rule to weed out junk products

Why did this not occur to me earlier?

Last week I went to Staples to pick a pen. I only write on cheques nowadays and I want to keep my dying handwriting alive as much as possible and for that I want to pick a good pen.

There were rows and rows of Pens - all endorsed by Shah Rukh Khan or Katrina Kaif or Amitabh Bachan. If there was a Javed Akhtar or a Vairamathu or an Arundhati Roy ( I don't subscribe to her views but I respect her as a writer ), a Chetan Bhagat ( I am yet to read any of his novels - till then he is eligible to promote pens ) it made sense.

Mentally I worked out this equation :

(Cost of Ad money to SRK,AB,KK) - ( Manufacturing Cost of a Pen + Reasonable Profit for a pen ) = The after tax-money that is being swindled from my pocket to pay SRK,AB and KK.

That did it. I decided not to pick any pen endorsed by any of these celebrities. It made my choice quite easy.

When I looked around there was this Sachin 100 Tendulkar - promoting Kaspersky anti virus. All the Crick…

Turning a Herbivore is not easy

It is a running thing - less fat on the body, can run better. And animal fat is bad for running. So I decided to kick the meat out of my diet. Nothing ecological, nothing religious - just a plain selfish reason to run better.

I don't like fish and whenever I eat, I eat very less - so I decided to leave it in my diet. Also it helps me "fit in" with the other carnivores around.

My real test was a couple of days back when my sister gave a treat for her clearing a big exam after 2 tries in her path towards becoming a CA. The treat was in a typical Chettinad style hotel in Coimbatore which I love. Whenever I enter these places - the whiff of aroma from biryani and kurmas will make me salivate like a pavlo's dog.

The time for ordering came and I ordered an Egg Biryani and a prawn dish. I am surprised this was not reported by any breaking news channel. The first ever in my history. Mutton Biryani, Chicken Biryani, Fish Curry, Thalai curry and Chicken Lollipop were ordered a…

Here is how I fight FB and Twitter Distractions

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I finally found the silver bullet to fight FB Twitter Distractions - and is very simple - by following the [Pomodoro technique]. This link has a detailed instruction set - I follow the essence of it and don't kill myself ;)

I now work in 25 minute sprints, with 5 minute breaks after every sprint. During the time I "work" - I avoid all distractions - no FB, no Twitter, some Email checking - and after my sprint I waste the 5 minutes entirely on Twitter and Facebook. It is like a reward at the end of a nice sprint.

This is quite intense and I feel drained at the end of the day - in a good way - just like how I used to feel after some awesome pairing sessions in ThoughtWorks ( yep - haven't paired at all after I left ThoughtWorks 3.5 years back )

When I finish each Pomodoro I get this good feeling - "gumption" - if you remember Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig dwells on this - a feeling of accomplishment and it fills you with joy.

I tried Fo…

Oh Steve Jobs!

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Finished reading Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.

First let me share my disappointment - no it is not the book - it is well written. My disappointment is that of Steve Jobs as a human being.

Wish he was less ruthless with the people around him. As I am typing this post on a Mac Laptop my heart goes out to the folks who got fired and the poor employees who had nervous breakdowns trying to match Steve Job's specifications.

There could be an argument for Steve Jobs - if he was not this ruthless with his employees and demanded perfection - we would not have seen Apple as it is now. I beg to differ - he was quite kind with Pixar employees and see what Pixar has accomplished.

Before I started the book I had a few questions - who is Steve Jobs and how did he pull off such amazing things? : well I got the answers.

1. Focus : Our man can focus on the issue at hand like a laser. Not only that - he can get people around him to focus. His mercurial and brash personality could have helped in thi…

My Fitness Streak

Quantum leaps are not done by trying incrementally - but by taking quantum leaps. - Myself :)

I kept running 5 Kms and suddenly one day I just decided to run 10 Kms and I could do it - of course it did hurt - but  it changed me forever.

My 4 year old was on training wheels for more than 2 years and one fine day the wife removes the training wheels and after a few days he was able to ride by himself.

When you are going to dive into a cold swimming pool there is no use touching the water - just dive in.

And last week I read a story about this guy who is on a 25 year fitness streak. That did it - the very next day I started my own fitness streak.

Today is Day #6 - going good and I am telling myself - I will not break it - ever.

Day #1 - Ran 4.2 Kms
Day #2 - Ran 4.4 Kms
Day #3 - Cycled 4.2 Kms
Day #4 - Ran 5.0 Kms
Day #5 - Meditated
Day #6 - Ran 5.2 Kms

It will take some 21 days to become a habit. I hope after 21 days my fitness streak will be like brushing, shaving and I need not talk to…

Start of the Start - Talk at Bangalore Barcamp 11

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Here is the mind-map I made for the talk at the Bangalore Barcamp 11.



Had some initial hiccups when my laptop did not connect to the network, then I started whiteboarding  - meanwhile some kind soul setup his laptop and I was able to continue my presentation.

It was well received - I was quite satisfied, but when I look back it could have been better. I missed out some interesting anecdotes I had gathered - the non-internet thing frazzled me at the beginning. I was planning to download this mindmap and show it locally - but I woke up late on Saturday morning - and murphy's law struck - as always.



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Don't join a GYM

Don't join a Gym. Instead Run.

1. Gym will get boring soon. 

You discover new ways to workout, new machines. Then you set targets - 10 Reps, 15 Reps, 30 Reps and reach them. Then you start getting used to the machines, the reps, the music, the people who come there, the smell. Then you start dragging yourself to Gym. It is like going to office - not fun.

Instead Run - you can create so many variations - Run around a lake, Run inside a Park, Run on a long stretch of road, Run on a treadmill,  Run on a beach, Run on a nice slope, Run on new trials. Run a marathon and get a certificate. Run backwards. Run barefoot. Run in a midnight marathon. Run on Mumbai Sea-link ( my next goal ). You can keep changing the place, pace, time - no two runs are the same.

Running never gets boring. After every run you get a "Runners High" - you have to experience it to understand it. Its addictive too - a good addiction.

2. You need to wait for your favorite treadmill / machine


When you run yo…

My 2011 Books Roundup

Books Books Books.. what will I do without you!

Here is the list of books that I crunched last year. If you are curious - here is my list for 2010.

Conversations with God 1,2 and 3 by Neale Donald Walsh

During one of the demos I met this interesting 70 year old Gentleman who suggested these books. The author reaches the bottom pit of his life and cries out in anger to God - Why are you not talking to me - and God responds.

It has got a good mixture of eastern and western philosophy and can help you form your own theory on Religion and God.

For me I did not get any answers, but have more questions in my mind now.

Fifth Mountain by Paulo Coelho

Now I don't remember what was there in this book. But it was a good timepass and helped killed time on a day train from Coimbatore to Bangalore. You can give this a pass.

The Pixar Touch, Making of a Company


If you love Pixar movies you would like this book.  The Pixar Touch

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson


Total Geek Novel. Enjoyed it thoroughly…