Wednesday, December 26, 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. The poor 23 year old still struggling to live has been forgotten.

Its sickening to the core. Who are we fighting against?

India against India?

How did things spiral down so fast.

I strongly feel that the enemy is within each one of us. It is not external - it is not another country, not a religion, not a person, not an idea - its in different shades of everything - hidden deep inside us.

Yesterday I saw a well dressed lady take her well bred cute pup for a walk near the Saree shops stretch near Marine Lines in Mumbai - and the dog pooped - she dragged the dog away not bothering to scoop the poop and put it in a waste basket.

I was angry and even had the holier than thou attitude thinking I would not let such a thing happen if it was I with that pup.

I should have gently talked to her - humorously perhaps - pointing to her that we should not be trashing our country. Or I should have suggested her to carry a waste cover all without hurting her ego.

Instead I did nothing - went my way. That lady and dog will be out today and will be doing this deed for the next 15 years. I could have stopped it forever with a simple gesture. I did not.

How many such things that I - as one person - a simple honest gesture - can start doing - so an impact will still be made.

I should start discovering these streaks within me - the laziness or anger or ego - which prevents me from doing the right thing.

It is time I discover the Enemy within me - before I start pontificating to the Government how they should run it.

Monday, December 24, 2012

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 two scenarios?

The more I think about this the more helpless I feel. All the sound bytes, twitter feeds are full of anger and vitriol. But I don't see any solution.

What would have Gandhi done? He fought Casteism, Hindu Muslim communal clashes - apart from fighting the British.

How do you change a Society?

Saturday, December 22, 2012


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 - [ ]. Apparently he is the father of Indian Advertising and has created over 100 brands in his time. Also he had portrayed Jinnah in The Gandhi. 

The topic was Leadership Through Innovation.

The content was very simple - just 3 core ideas

As a leader :

1. Innovate
2. Enthuse dont enforce
3. Have a Vision Statement

He was full of anecdotes and amazing stories. He kept the hall in trance. He came to the importance of Vision Statement.

Then he asked a question  - what was Gandhi's vision statement. 

Lot of answers - be the change, give me freedom, follow me etc. - the crowd shouted lot of answers. I tried very hard to think what was the Vision Statement. 

Then he displayed on the screen. 

"Quit India. "

He demonstrated how powerful this vision statement was. It was so simple but it shook the mighty English Empire. 

He narrated the Dandhi march. Gandhi started walking from his Ashram to Dandhi. He walked 24 days - and in those days when there was no facebook, twitter, SMS - the crowd kept joining him as he walked through the villages - growing day by day. He picked a handful of salt and got arrested. The symbolism was so powerful.

No big baashan. In fact any explanation given on this incident would have deflated the power of this idea. Just a simple action - that every single Indian understood - educated or other wise.

Next incident he narrated was Gandhi's Patented Fast Unto Death. 

Gandhi could have drank poison or shot himself for the cause ( stop the riots, or the partition or the numerous massacres that were perpetrated on poor helpless unarmed Indians ). The wave would have lasted a month or two. However this cunning old man decided to die the slow way.

Those days any news of Gandhi was banned in the Newspaper. However the message spread like wild fire. The hindu muslim riots stopped. International media picked up the news and they started putting pressure on the British Government ( Want to credit the British Govt of 1940s - they had a heart. ). 

Again - simple yet powerful - and without any big statements or Punch Dialogues - he brought change, melted stone hearts. 

Thank you Alyque Padamsee for having shown Gandhi to me. It was an aahaa moment - I will always cherish. 

And to top it all - he showed lot of short videos he had directed - one of them being Gandhi - which demonstrates this idea of Gandhi - the power of simplicity of Gandhi - and that I had seen million times on Doordarshan but never understood the message. 

Here is a video of Alyque Padamsee at TedxJaipur. 

Here is a TeD X Video of Alyuqe Padamsee 

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Paulo Coelho - A Warrior's life

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 undergo electro shock therapy.

But he bounced back - started doing cameos in Theater, started writing screenplays, became a lyricist and started a new era in Brazilian rock song, became a Music Executive and money poured in from all quarters. 

Still he was not satisfied. There was an yearning desire to be a writer. He went to London and spent almost half a year trying to become a writer. But nothing came out of it. 

Then he gets inducted to the order of the RAM - Regnus Agnus Mundi, or Rigour, Adoration, Mercy - where he had to undergo lot of quests periodically - like spending 40 days in the Mojave desert or going on a 700km pilgrimage. 

All these experiences will form part of his books.

The first book will be The Pilgrimage. He wrote this book in one stretch of 21 days - not leaving the home but working day and night. This book will immediately go on to become the best seller even though critics tore it apart for its simple language and no literary value.  

Later he will write The Alchemist - which will go on to become not only a best seller in Brazil but throughout the world - even while the critics in Brazil gave demonic reviews of it! 

This is the gist - like a fairy tale - Paulo fights the inner demons and comes out successful. It was not an easy life he had - but all the experiences made him produce books that just don't entertain but also give a new perspective and direction to ones life.

Here are my posts I had written on some. 

The Alchemist and another post on my 2nd blog

He is still young - 65 years - and the best are yet to come! 

Viva Paulo Coelho! 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

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 greedy?

This running-growth-happiness is - I believe - is human evolution in a nut-shell. We always keep looking for faster, stronger and higher records.

Recently I heard an Oxford University lecture on brain - "Dopamine" floods the brain when the records get broken and makes the brain happy. And the brain wants more and more records to get broken because of this. This is a positive feedback cycle - which in turns lifts mankind as a whole.

Marathon ( 42 Kms )  was once the ultimate test for human endurance. But the last few years runners are pushing 100Kms and more.

Take any other field - we have invented Flights and can travel to anywhere around the globe quickly - but why aren't we resting on our laurels - why are we exploring Space Travel - why do we rejoice when records get broken - be it the Olympics or the world record for maximum hot dogs eaten?

Because in Growth lies our Happiness.

And in Growth lies our evolution to a better species.

Sorry if I have disappointed you since i did not touch on the negative aspects of growth that leads to  global warming, amassing illegal wealth, corruption etc. in this post - I am on a runners high now :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Starbucks and I.

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 ThoughtWorks, Chicago, when I stepped out of the train station there was a Starbucks. It became my daily ritual to pick up a Grande Non-Fat Cappuccino - yes I became health conscious and reserved Frappuccino for those special occasions. After a few days (  or weeks ), the Barristas knew my pattern and the moment they saw me enter the door, they will immediately place an order. I will join the queue and by the time I reached the cash register, the drink will be ready and I will get it in my hand immediately ( other muggles had to wait for their drink after paying!).

Forgot to mention - everywhere I went they will have problem calling out my name or writing it on the cup - Venkat was so difficult for Americans to pronounce!

Then in mid 2006 we moved back to India ( ). Starbucks was #10 in the list of things I missed the most. Perhaps I can strike it out now.

Every time when I got into a CCD or a Barista - I would wonder - when will Starbucks come to India. Sometime in December 2011 I read a news item that Starbucks in Partnership with Tata is coming to India.

Later I read the first Starbucks is to open in Mumbai in October 2012. I was even more excited - as I am in Mumbai now.

I could not go to the first day opening show - but went on the 2nd week. Took a train from Kandivali to Churchgate ( 1+ hours ), was a nice 20minutes walk from Churchgate to Fort, stood in line and ordered - you can guess it - a Caramel Frappuccino. Waited for the drink to arrive - the Barristas this time had no problem calling out my name.

Sangeeta found a table and chair in the mezzannine floor. Settled down and took the first sip after so many years.


Thursday, November 08, 2012

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 they are all off to their next adventure.

This brings us to the 2 different philosophies on death.

Eastern Philosophy

It's about re-incarnation and the soul moves on from one set of experiences to the other. The soul experiences all it can in this lifetime, and learns new things - and this does not go waste. These experiences/learnings get carried over to the next life time. That's why some people can always do certain unbelievable things that makes us wonder and say "he just did it as if he was born knowing it".

This teaches us to treat nature with care. I better save this earth, as next lifetime when I come here I need to breathe.

Western Philosophy

For a long time I believed this side of the story. This life is one shot, it's one opportunity that we have got - so we better make good use of it and not squander it away.

Try as much as possible to "experience" and "live" life. Make the most of this one opportunity to experience life. After this there is going to be none. zilch.

Love this thought - and in fact have been living my life based on this. I got bored after a couple of years in my salaried life ( TCS 2 years, LSU 2 years, Compuware 1 year, Thoughtworks 2.5 years ) and got an urge/itch to move on to a new adventure.  Exception being 3Five8 - my startup - this is my fifth year - and each day is still an adventure.

There are some down sides to this western philosophy - shining example is the Obama land - they live life like there is no tomorrow - over consumption, destroying hectares of land for a Sunday morning coupon newspaper, gas guzzlers... and in spite of the Katrinas and Sandys they are still debating - is the globe really warming?

The good thing about this is - when Steve Jobs got to know he had little time left of this life - he did more of the living. He was so focussed he pulled out an iPhone and iPad - and set the entire human civilisation on a different path. ( Ok thats a little too hyperbolic but one cannot deny that he made a huge dent ). Had he just given up and sat depressed and prayed for a longer and healthier stint next time - what a bummer our life would have been. We will all still have the horrible touch screens of Nokia phones and twitter/facebook might not even have taken off.

What is the takeaway for me?

When someone passes away - instead of feeling sad and depressed - I will try to know more about the adventure they had in this lifetime. The difference they made to others.  Talk to their closest friends and relatives - about the moments they had together. Appreciate and remember their adventure.

Try to find areas of inspiration. There is a reason why everyone is here and try to find out the reason this soul was here. We are all here to keep pushing mankind to the next level - one step at a time - getting inspired and inspiring others.

So death is a lot more than mourning and depression..

Monday, October 15, 2012

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 freely without lugging my laptop.

2 years down the line, I am reading about iPhone5 once again ( they are quoting 45k ) and Samsung Galaxy S3 is around 33k and will drop down further after iPhone5 comes to the market.

The heart still says iPhone. The mind says SGS3. I am torn.

I use OS X primarily and appreciate the nice touches and "appley" things - these are present in the iPhone too - both the OSs are merging. Also the reminders, notes - all are seamlessly synced.

However Google is now innovating like how Apple used to. The notifications, easy access to turning on/off wifi,gps etc.. changing the bottom perm icons, the lock screen displays - so many things can be customised - which cannot be done in an iPhone.

But still I long for the consistent and solid interface of the iPhone. The apps all have the same responsiveness ( perhaps because they uni task unlike in Android ). iTunes is there - ( I use double twist in Android but it sucks ). The ones that I use the most are there in iPhone.

However, in the Android world I have been riding on the Cyanogen mod ROMs for the last 1 year or so. I like the "hacker" satisfaction I get on my SGS. Will I get it in iPhone5?

I am still not in the market for a replacement phone yet. The trusty SGS is still chugging along fine. I am on Ice Cream Sandwich and very much satisfied. The phone feels almost complete ( except for a good music player).

But the geek in me is getting restless. Who will win - iPhone or SGS3 or the old war horse SGS. Stay tuned!

Updated as on Nov 12,2012 : iDid. More to follow

Monday, September 17, 2012

Gorai Beach

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 looking at them expecting someone to drift.. but no one did - boring Indians.

The sand was quite hard and had a nice feel on the foot.

Puttu fish loves water. He got fully drenched! 

We had a betting game on which snail will go out of the box first!

The last Ferry is at 9:30PM. For the beach to ferry ride the Auto guy charged Rs.60. I made a mistake should not have asked - should have just got in and directed him to Ferry place and quietly given Rs.50. The auto guy was saying the rate will keep increasing as time goes on. He did have a point - he had to return empty from the Ferry spot.

We got back to the creek had dinner at Deccan House/Place ( food was good but nothing memorable ) and got back home on a honest auto.

Next trip we are planning to visit the Pagoda - which is a detour from the Gorai beach ( auto was quoting Rs.80 ) - had we started earlier we could have covered both places.

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 is the insight I got from Goal 2. Having cushion is bad.

2. No more news. 

I had stopped reading newspapers long back. But I will keep myself up to date on Twitter and news sites. Of late I was feeling that what I am reading is totally biased and "news" as I always thought was someone's view and that too with an agenda. ( reminds me of a  Hindu Ad I saw in 2000 on Mount Road - we offer news without views ).

So I gave up news entirely. I have no idea what games are being played, what scams are being unearthed - what plan is being hatched for the tax money that I am paying. Instead I hear it from friends or glance at the headlines on the newspapers lying on the floor as I walk down the stairs in my apartment. ( ps : almost 90% read Times of India and 90% of the time there is no news - only a big Ad on the front page ).

3. Non Work Time.

a. I go home by 7:00pm. Earlier there was no end time. Since I am working on a startup I should put 80 hour caffeine filled weeks right? Wrong. We need not burn ourselves to reach our goals - we have to just work smart.

b. I take Sundays off and don't take up any work.

c. I removed the email icon from the home screen of my phone. I can still reach by going to applications but this has reduced the threads running on my head.

d. Most importantly - if I am in a train or just woke up or going to sleep or going for a run and I cannot work on it or respond - I simply don't open emails. This simple discipline has made a big difference to me.

So - this is me. If you don't find me on twitter or facebook and want to talk to me - call me or email me or use ApartmentAdda contact us page like one of my acquaintances! And btw - I will be calling you too - I am going to do social networking once again!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Do It Yourself!


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 sucks or can we have this - it got built. Now we have a stable CRM with even more cool features which a third party can never give - like activating Trial for a customer or giving a demo link just with a click.

And how much did this cost in real money? Almost nothing but did take away precious Developer Hours which could have been spent on the actual product. The pay-off happens in the long term.


Couple of months back we looked at another pain point the team was facing - Support. We have a good volume of Support queries coming now - and is usually spread across phone calls, emails to various members - and we hired a few more folks and the chaos just kept multiplying.

Again we started looking around and there were lot of good options - *desks - on a monthly billing basis. And this time we locked the money man out of the meeting - as he wins all arguments hands down - while we brainstormed what was the best way.

Finally we decided to build it in-house again - and the reason that won the argument was automation. Our users can email us or raise Support Tickets online, reply to them by email - and it all gets into this Support system - the usual Support Ticketing workflow. All tickets can be monitored centrally now - and if someone in the team is off or is stuck with work - one of us can step in and take it over.

The best part is - we can now build lot of automations - we can easily copy the moderator of that user's ADDA, we can trigger a password right from the Support ticket itself etc..  and many more automations that can be built by observing the nature of the tickets over a period of time.

Again - does not cost us in real money - but in precious Developer hours. And btw - we can have unlimited users, unlimited tickets.

Why you should Outsource?

This is not our "core". There are companies who are doing this for a living and they have figured out what is best. We might be "wasting" precious developer hours and analysis re-inventing the wheel. We might be "missing" out on the industry "best practices".

All valid arguments.

Actually we have Outsourced many flows which are not our core - perhaps will write about them in another post.

Do it yourself or Outsource?

Here is some criteria to use :

a. How much money is in your kitty?

b. What is the long term strategy - 1 year, 5 years, 10 years or more?

c. How "core" is this for your startup?

d. Can your development team "sustain" if you do it in-house?

e. Are your processes established or are you iterating? 

What has been your experience - Do it Yourself or Outsource it?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Taming Lion

(image credit : )

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 done all under one roof.

I could not work in Windows - even though it was blazingly fast and responsive - could not get used to the shortcut keys ( in spite of swapping the Control and Windows key ), kept rotating the monitor on some combinations, no quick look, Alt-tabbing was painful, no full screen... and most of all - there is no CLI. ( No - cygwin is not a CLI )

I got back to Lion and tamed it ( or rather Lion tamed me ). 

Here is a list of things I did to get back in shape - use it at your own peril.

1. Run as many apps as possible in 32 bit mode.

Do a Get Info ( Command-I ) on the program in Applications and choose 32 bit mode. Its a shame isn't it - but it reduces memory footprint

iChat didnt launch in 32 bit mode. I switched to Sparrow - so not sure of the benefits / effects of Mail.

2. Remove all fancy icons from the menubar.

Here is a screenshot of my menubar - only Spotlight icon is there - couldn't remove it.

No Volume control, no Network Icon, no date and time ( useless since calendar never opens anyway ), no blue tooth icon, no display icon ( why did I ever have it there? )

The reason is to tame a process called SystemUIServer. This grows and grows and hogs almost a Gig of RAM. Now you can always kill it and recover some memory - but removing all the icons from menubar keeps this one at bay.

There are other benefits -  it is like being in a Zen like state - no distractions and if I want to know the time I do a date command on terminal.. feel like a true geek.

3.  Inactive Memory

This keeps creeping up and suddenly it would have taken more than a Gig - and what does it do - Heaven Knows ( Steve you there? ). Anyway there is a nice command "purge" - run it - system freezes for a moment and then you get back some free RAM.

Here is the before and after of running Purge - ( like those Gym Ads). Btw - this is the Activity Monitor icon tracking the Memory usage - what a nice idea Sirjee to use icons as indicators.

Did you see the Green ( Free Memory ) just eat into the Blue ( Inactive useless Memory ) - almost 600MB got recovered.

Now I work with activity monitor pie chart always on. When the green disappears I either run Purge or close down some unused Applications.

4. Close down everything

From the beginning of time - OS X does not quit when you close an application - it only closes the window. And these processes sit quietly eating 100+ MBs.. and these add up. Now I am retraining myself to do more of Command Q instead of Command W.

5. Turn off unwanted features - everywhere

The bloatware called iTunes has a social networking module, a sharing module, a DJ module, a Genius Module.... and so many which I never use - turned off all of them. Also shutdown dashboard, spotlight ( I am used to spotlight so not sure how i will fare ). Also turned off fancy animations etc. - even though we have been brainwashed into believing that GPU is the one that does all the GUI work - I refuse to believe this BS anymore - Lion is seriously broken.

There are 2 processes which will start hogging memory like crazy - LoginWindow and UserEventAgent and you will need to keep an eye on these 2 culprits and closing unwanted applications and turning off unwanted modules is the key I guess.

6. The Strange story of coreaudiod

Go ahead take a look at the CPU usage of coreaudiod - it will be singing why this Kolaveri D right now. It was using some crazy number like 50% and at times shot up to 120% ( I dont understand % more than 100 ).

Restarting it will jump right back to the crazy processor usage numbers. Folks at Apple Support forums advised to plug a headphone into the socket, some said remove Ambient noise reduction. I stopped the notifications sound also. Still no luck.

Then I started iTunes and the process dropped! Weird ! Now iTunes was consuming some crazy RAM - so I shut down and coreaudiod made a brief appearance and went away to its nice 0.0% usage.

7. Some good habits

I will be shutting down the laptop every night before going to sleep.
I will run the nice jobs Onyx has.
Will also not run anymore fancy apps ( Better touch tool you are an exception ).
I would also burn the installer to a DVD - i do not have the bandwidth to download 4GB - so I am unable to do a fresh clean install.

So thats it - looking forward to Mountain Lion and hopefully someone in Apple Team is working his Apple off in fixing the Memory issues.

And as we were speaking - my free memory has dropped to just 13 MB ( almost 4GB is being eaten up ). iTunes is now fighting for the crown.. ugh.Time to kill this sucker and run purge... all for the love of OS X.. sigh.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

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 of achievements ), Mamta Di ( jailed a poor professor for a cartoon ), Mayawati ji & Election commissioner ( pink elephants ).

Would request the men folks to open up and have fun.  Else I will start campaigning for the above said ladies in the next election - Seriously.

On a related note - I stumbled upon - and Mrs.Hillary Clinton joined the fun herself - how cool is that. My vote is for her - if she ever runs for a post in India. Lucky Americans.

Cricket and IPL

The first one was novel. Second one was ok. Then it became disgusting multiplied by the number of Sixes being hit in each episode. Staged controversies, team owners soap opera, the fixed nail biting finishes. The good game is being hurried to death like a diabetic patient eating in a Sri Krishna Sweets Buffet.

Then there is the God of cricket. Hits his 100th 100 on a flat pitch against a minnow and the team loses - not only the match but the tournament as we didnt qualify for the finals because of this important match. And yet he celebrates. And declares he is a commercial artiste to avoid Tax. Yuk.

Sun Control Films

A Honorable Supreme Court Judge orders all sun control films to be removed from all cars except a) the Z class - the rich and famous. b) the ones that came tinted with the glass from manufacturer.

What appalls me is no one seems to be bothered about the consequences. For a tropical country like us we are now going to burn more fossil fuels ( yep - this is a high blood pressure patient eating an all you can eat Pickles buffet ), zero privacy at signals, cell phones/laptops no more safe if left in the car - a new can- crate of worms - are being opened as we are speaking.

It is suffocating, hot, boring.. like watching Doordarshan's shehnai program they usually play when an ex-PM dies - on a Sunday afternoon.

Yours truly
A Depressed Indian Citizen.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Games Businesses play on Facebook and Twitter

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 for almost a year.

Why will they do such a thing? What do they gain by doing it? Beats me.

The real "likes" on the other hand talk to you, answer your polls, get upset with you, pat you on the back - Facebook is a great platform to interact with your customers and also put a face to their names.

Twitter Games

Recently I went to change my residential address in ICICI Bank. The clerk/asst manager whoever introduced me to a lady sitting in a cabin - must be the branch manager. She pulls out a paper and details on a new investment plan called GSIP. After 20 minutes of explaining how it works she summarizes 5 benefits and the last one being oh - you also get insurance for this. It did not register in me that time but I got back and did a google search on GSIP.

First hit - it says Prudential Life Insurance. Damn - she was all along selling a life insurance product morphed as an investment plan. We had decided to keep insurance and investment separate - that way you get maximum returns on both. This was not my idea - it was Sangeeta's philosophy and a good one.

I tweet my frustration and @ICICIBank Cares picks it up. Asks me what your issue is and send me your contact information. I instead explain why I am not amused at the "mismarketing" of a product. I did not provide my contact details. Thought will do so after I see a sensible reply tweet and also wanted to know I am interacting with a bot or not. They go quiet and after a couple of days I see this tweet.

@venkat2 We have noted your contact details, we'll assist you soon.

If you go and looks at the ‏ @ICICIBank_Care tweets they seem to be interacting with their customers and solving their issues. Someone reading this would have thought - good they took care of @venkat2's issues.

Actually they have pulled a fast one on me - twice. First the manager who sold me an Insurance Product as an Investment Product and now this handle - probably run by a "social media expert".

Probably the customer support handle exists because in the new age you are supposed to have this one too - along with the traditional call support lines.

I hope these support handles are used effectively as this is a great way to cause customer delight. 


Saturday, May 05, 2012


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 - as the fear of failure sets in. He does not want to disappoint himself or people around him - because they think highly of him. As kids grow things get tough and they stop trying.

I have toned down my Good Job exclamations - I reserve it only for a job well done now onwards. Also when he writes I try to show him what is good and what is not.

Should we Argue in front of kids?

Answer is yes. Kids need to know and understand conflicts and how they are resolved.

Arguments will typically start and we will notice Prithvi in the room doing his thing but listening to our heated argument and we will immediately stop.  We will later continue our arguments, and will resolve them later when Prithvi is not there. Later when he sees us smiling he might be confused - like in a poorly edited movie - how did this happen? He misses out on the best part.

Role Plays

There is a new teaching methodology called Tools method. If the kids are learning about Firemen, they re-enact the whole story. Some are firemen, some are 911 operators, some are family in distress and a whole episode is enacted. This apparently is quite effective in kids involving and learning. Nowadays when Prithvi wants to play a game of role play I actively involve. I am not sure if our schools have picked up this methodology.

Ability to Focus

This is the secret to higher scores and good grades. The kids who can sit still and concentrate more - were able to do well in the aptitude tests and also understand the difficult concepts better. The Tools method apparently makes the kids focus more and this in turn helps them learn better.

This is a challenge for us and I am not sure how to tell our man it takes 10,000 hours to become better at something and not give up after a few tries.


Kids need lot of un-interrupted sleep. When they sleep - during one of the cycles things that they learnt that day gets transferred from conscious memory to the inner deeper layers. Also routine is highly beneficial for them.

We have been pretty random with Prithvi - and still are. We work till late and when we get back home we play with him for sometime - and this upsets his sleep routine. Thankfully his new school starts early and he has to go to bed early - this will get us disciplined.

Teenage Drivers

They did an interesting study. They gave a set of questions to both adults and teenagers and measured the response time. Questions like - eating a cockroach, eating a broken glass bulb - all had immediate response from adults. Teenagers did say no - but they took more time to respond to these questions.

Teenagers are still evaluating things using their conscious brain cycles to most of the life situations. However as adults we do it unconsciously. In the school districts where they pushed the age limit of driving up to 21 had a significant drop in accidents.

[ Dear social media expert Kriba - who made his kid sit in his lap and drive the car on NH4 Highway from Chennai to Bangalore - don't do it again. ]

There are more chapters on Racial awareness, Sibling fights, The Baby einstein videos effectiveness etc. - all backed up by research.

Now for the manual and API - its like writing one on the fly and the toy keeps changing them randomly - something that worked this week will certainly not work next week.

It is tiring - really :)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

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 - but I should not let it become my boss and start dictating me.

Likewise I have to come to realize the same thing in running our Startup.

We do have a sales target,  but our team does not get stressed out if we do not achieve this number. We had a guess-the-number-of-wins-by-Diwali contest last year ! ( ahemm I lost to our Accounts Champion who guessed accurately.  Sangeeta refused to participate calling this Juvenile but she did monitor closely through out!  )

We have started focusing entirely on solving our customer's problems and not go by the traditional sales goals. Early in the cycle we try to understand the problem and if we realize that our product was not the right fit - we directed them to other sites and solutions.

We connected our customers with Auditors, Lawyers, Rain Water Harvesting Experts, STP Experts, Facility Management Experts, Accountants and introduced them to other Management Committees who had walked their path. When they needed an Estate Manager, even though they did not use our portal, we sent them leads.

Guess what? We have customers increasingly returning to us. We not only met our goal, we exceeded it.

Now when I tie these 2 string of thoughts together - running and running a startup - the similarities are not surprising : When I enjoy my run the goal is achieved automatically.

This brings out another important angle to a Bootstrapped startup. We do not have a ticking bomb tied to our back - the equivalent of a 8km / 5kms in 30 minutes goal. We have the luxury of concentrating on solving our customer's problems and building the ecosystem - training managers and accountants - and doing what brings maximum fun to the team.

And this run is what I call the Startup Run - and I am enjoying the run thoroughly.

Closing the loop on Instagram - if they had their primary goal as $1Billion - they would not have achieved it for sure - in the process the team would have got stressed and burnt out. They were so obsessed creating a kickass photo sharing + social network app that FB got threatened -  and finally bought them out.

So what are you running after?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Flow on OS X

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, music and others. But to switch from one application in a space to another space - I had to do 3 clicks - one to invoke Mission Control and then to click on the space and again invoke Mission Control to find that application in that space. Something was not right - an Alt Tab would have been faster and easier.

But why not Alt-Tab

However Alt Tab has a few problems - once I do Alt-Tab I have to keep tabbing and stop at the right application - energy is being wasted. If I have multiple windows open I cannot go directly to the one I am looking for. If I have to see if a job is completed, or a page has loaded - have to do too many unnecessary switches and every time keep coordinating my eye and hand to stop at the right Application Icon when tabbing. Tiring.

Here is the simple elegant solution I stumbled upon.

Enter Full Screen

Whenever an application runs in Full Screen it occupies a Space by itself. It solved my switching problem beautifully.

This is how my desktop looks in Mission Control / Expose.

The first space is my primary work area where most of the Applications live. The rest of the spaces to the right are all full screen apps. It is lovely to have a full screen of terminal - with tabs.  Having mail full screen is also wonderful - when I write an email my entire attention is on that mail.

When I have to switch an App, I invoke Mission Control and I can go to any app with two clicks - one to invoke Mission Control and one to select the Application Window. When I am in the Terminal app I start a job ( hehe.. ex Mainframer ) I switch to Mail to type my email and now and then invoke mission control again to see if the job is complete.

Other things that help me in my flow :

Quick Look

I am so used to quick look that now I find it very hard to use Windows. Any attachments in email, or when I want to quickly look up an excel or a PPT - I can look at it instantly without waiting for a big application to load and show its fancy splash screen. Also these Apps do not stay in memory hogging precious RAM ( even though OS X's philosophy says it doesn't matter in my experience it does matter - having too many open unused Apps does slow down the machine )

Magic Mouse with Better Touch Tool

I actually bought this Apple Mouse on a whim. Felt guilty initially for having sunk so much money on a mouse. However my guilt is all gone now - it so well fits in with the OS and my flow. Two taps - it invokes Mission Control, swipe down fast - I go to the end of the page, swipe left I switch spaces to the left. I have become so fluent in switching between Applications or navigating within an Application I do not notice any more.

Less Distractions in Full Screen

When I am in full screen Mail - an Instant Message comes - it pops up once and then goes away.  No Application can pull me away from what I am doing. The tool bars, icons all go away leaving just my content.

Yep - as the old adage says : Mac for Productivity.

Thank you Apple Engineers - OS X Lion is lovely. Please do not spoil it in the next release.

Monday, April 09, 2012

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 Cricket heroes were promoting chips and colas - peddling things which are either not needed or are truly harmful.

This brought me to this conclusion : If a cricket celebrity or a bollywood celebrity is endorsing a product then

a) The product is junk
b) The product is not an essential thing for our survival.
c) The marketing head is a clueless bozo

I have decided to support the underdog who is not engaging a celebrity to peddle their products and outright reject the ones promoted by celebrities.

Now a new game begins in my life - to prevent my after-tax money from reaching the pockets of a SRK or an AB or a KK.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

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 and were sitting real close to my plate.

Yet I did not feel tempted to try them out. The egg biryani had the same taste as a mutton or chicken biryani. I did try a few prawns and sent it around and they disappeared immediately.

I was not being a spoil sport or a holier than thou because I am a herbivore - I think :) Enjoyed the lunch, they pulled my legs on turning veggie and I was quite happy that I did not get an urge to sink my teeth into any of the dishes.

Since I am giving meat the boot, and also running regularly nowadays ( 13 runs, 57 Km in March ) -  when I order Veggie dishes I let go off all restrictions - I don't feel guilty eating those delicious Panner or Butter laden dishes.

Turning a herbivore amongst a family full of carnivores is not easy - but it is certainly doable.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Here is how I fight FB and Twitter Distractions

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 Focus Booster - but I keep my Desktop work area pretty light weight and did not like this app sitting on my taskbar/screen. There was one more Pomodoro app I tried but it would automatically start after every break - didn't like the "pushiness" of it.

I found this nice Android app now I run on my phone -  Pomodoroido [ ]. It has some nice features other than the 25/5 minute monitoring.

Pomodoroido gives a 15 minute break after finishing 4 pomodoros. Also it has levels built in like a game - finish 4 you are a beginner. Finish 15 you are an Amateur etc. Also it will wait till I click on Start - well sometimes I do go beyond the 5 minutes - but whos the boss here?

This post I am writing during my 15 minute break. Times up and resuming my journey to Kickass Productivity in-spite of being active on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Oh Steve Jobs!

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 this regard - but I am pretty much sure there could be more gentler ways to bring focus.

2. Attention to detail : We all knew he was a perfectionist and that he practiced his keynote speeches for hours. Well this ran throughout his life, every waking minute.

3. Money : He was never after money. When he cameback to Apple after being thrown out unceremoniously - he said he was not here for the money and paid himself a token salary of 1$ a year. He got paid 2.5$ in the first 2 and a half years before the board decided to give him shares. He wanted to build the best product ever - and money kept finding him.

4. Simple life : I thought Steve Jobs being Steve Jobs would live a life of lavishness. But this man had a very simple life. Did not have security guards and entourages. However he did get a personal jet after he turned around the company - as he found flying on commercial airliners tedious.

5. Spirituality : Steve Jobs was deeply spiritual and explored life and death even before death stared at him. The exposure to Eastern Religions and meditations instilled a sense of beauty, perfection and simplicity in him.

6. A Players : He surrounded himself with A players and fired ones who he thought were not A players. He liked to be challenged and proven wrong. He provoked people and incited people to do things beyond their own capabilities.

All said and done - this man's life was very interesting. He revolutionized entire industries - might not be an "original" inventor like Ford or Edison - but he perfected the existing ones - and the world is a better place because of him.

My only concern is the kids reading Steve Jobs book should not take the garish attitude of Steve Jobs ( somewhere in the book they mention a mental condition ) as the "feature" to replicate - and miss out the other important things we can get inspired from him - beauty, taste, simplicity, perfection..

Hate him or love him  - he has affected all of us in great way.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

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 myself anymore to get out of the bed and get out and run.

Some questions do linger - what if I fall sick ( I will atleast meditate ), what if I go on a business trip and cannot run ( I will do atleast 50 push-ups).

Boiling it down to the fundamentals - I want to give at least 30 minutes every day only for myself - can still do it without all the Fitness Streak Drama - but calling this "Fitness Streak" - makes it very interesting. ( Like how Steve Jobs sold random functionality as iShuffle )

And btw - you know the goal of the guy who is running for 25 years - he wants to beat the guy who is on a running streak for 40 years.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Start of the Start - Talk at Bangalore Barcamp 11

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.

can you spot my session? :)

Thursday, February 09, 2012

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 you need not wait for anyone - the road is always open.

3. You can enjoy nature.

A hot sun beating on you, your tshirt is wet from your sweat and a cool breeze touches you - and you can feel the heat and coolness penetrating your skin - its a wonderful feeling.

4. You are truly green.

You are burning only your own calories when you run. You are not wasting fossil fuels unnecessarily.

5. No Guilt.

You are not paying for a year's Gym membership and spend the days in guilt when you do not go to the gym. If you don't feel like running - don't run. And when you feel like running - you just take off - wherever in earth you are - on a vacation, on a business trip.

You have a free membership to this gym that is available everywhere - 24x7.

Don't give in to the Gym's pitches - all you need is a cheap shoe and a good headphone - and just run.

A Runner for the rest of my life.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

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.  Cryptonomicon

Enn Inniya Iyanthira by Sujatha

The only Tamil novel I read. I was always curious what this highly regarded novel was all about. This was written in 1980s and I read this one after almost 3 decades. The story happens in the future and is about a robot dog ( the hero of this novel ). This was a weekly running story published in Ananda Vikatan - so is a little jerky and there is not much of a flow. Wish the editors or Sujatha himself had re-written this masterpiece before he logged-out.

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Good Time pass, interesting writing style. I recommend this one if you are looking for something light to munch on.  Eat Pray Love

On writing well by William Zinsser

The author is a regular columnist in New Yorker, and also teaches how to write good non-fiction. I am not sure if my writing has improved, but it opened up my eyes to recognize what is good writing.

What I talk about when I talk about Running - Haruki Murrakami

Loved this one. I read this when I had decided to break the 5 km mental barrier I had developed - and wanted to run more. A little disjointed and boring at some places - but if you are a runner you will love the way he talks about his running!  What I talk about when I talk about Running

Born to Run - Christopher McDougall

The 2nd must read book for runners. This one is a good eye-opener to running. Loved this one thoroughly and inspired me to kick off my nike and run on a Bata Canvas shoe. Three Running Myths Busted

Snow by Orhan Pamuk

A heavy one by my favorite author. Middle East fascinates me and this one is about a poet who returns to Turkey. The clash between conservatives and liberals.

Aleph by Paulo Coelho

Brilliant book. Recommend this one -  Aleph by Paulo Coelho

Currently reading the Tibetan book of living and dying. Finding it hard to finish it...but I will finish it nevertheless - I do not give up on books that I start!