Thursday, December 23, 2010

Spam in GMAIL inbox - almost fell for it

fromaccount-upgrade@gmail.com 
sender-timeSent at 4:23 AM (GMT-03:00). Current time there: 1:46 AM. 
reply-toserviceupgrade.security@gmail.com
to
dateThu, Dec 23, 2010 at 4:23 AM
subjectConfirm your account!!
mailed-byjagua.com.br
hide details 4:23 AM (5 hours ago)
Dear Gmail User,
This message is from our "Gmail" messaging center to all our subscribers. We wish to inform you all that we are updating our database and e-mail center.
Thus, we are currently deleting of all unused / inactive Gmail accounts to create more space for new accounts.
To ensure you do not lose your E-mail account during this period, you must confirm to us that your account is still active by responding to this notice with your account information below:

1 - Username:
2 - E-mail:
3 - Password:
4 - Telephone:

NOTE: This information will help us upgrade your account to our new F-Secure 2010 version HTK4S anti-virus/anti-spyware and your password will be encrypted with 1024-bit RSA keys for your password security.
Failure to comply with this notification may automatically render your E-mail account de-activated from our database email / server.

Sorry for the inconvenience.
Verification Code: en: 6524
© 2010 Gmail Technical Support

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Every Day Android Apps - House help

Every day so many people touch your life. Folks like your cook, house maid etc., and items like milk that get delivered to your door step. 

Ever wondered if you could simply checkin and checkout the arrival and departure of above services. "House Help" on android just does that. You can also provide feedback and provide rating for the day.

You can also get report on absenteeism in a graphical pie chart for current month as well as for last month. 

The current version is free and is available in android market place under productivity category. You can also search directly for "House help" and check it out.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Plusconf brings together the best

You have crazy people. You have sober people and you have people with with families. They all belong to a tribe which creates and runs startups.

Some common themes

  1. Most startups begin in consulting/services mode wherein you gather cash to burn for your idea.
  2. You pick an idea that solves a specific problem for a specific customer. Its not a ego drive. You want somebody else to pay for your product/service.
  3. Most startups begin at home either at second bedroom ( if you have) otherwise shared.

The event was http://plusconf.com/ being stictched together by Benjamin ( Could not get contact details) on livestream.com.

Allan Branch - Lessaccounting.com
Missed of the part due to poor audio quality, dont know at whose end

  1. Do coworking more for exchanging ideas.
  2. Working from home is difficult but you need to learn to balance.
  3. Tell hello to every customer that signs up.

Todd Garland - BuySellAds

  1. Do not leave your fulltime job until cash can sustain you for a while. You can work on your idea in free time and let your employer know about it. Do not start a competeting business. The conflict of interest may do more harm than gain.
  2. Do stuff yourself. Do as much as you can possibly take till the time your business gives enough revenues so that you can hire your first employee. When you give your first employee the salary its half of your income and it all goes into your company.
  3. Better give cash rather than promise of stake. A stake is a promise in future. 
  4. Be careful with equity. Do not distribute it freely but at the same time dont be too obsessed with it.
  5. Obsessively find out why the customer went to competition. Not to pull him back but to genuinely know and improve yourself.
  6. In the early days of your startups you could be your worst enemy. You need to be honest with yourself about the worth of your idea. You need to come across genuine to your customers.
  7. Feel happy when clones come up. Beat them. Allow competition to push your envelope. Do not do clone yourself.

Noah Kagan - Appsumo

  1. Reach out and tell the world what they need rather than pushing your self interest. We went to lifehacker.com with three sentences in email telling them that they will have exclusive to a cool product. To some you can send gifts to gain their attention. The world is selfish and you need to fulfill the needs of others. 
  2. Your developer may ditch you royal time. Be prepared for eventualities.
  3. Have focus. The one thing that I learn from Zack from Facebook is to have focus and no distraction.
  4. Focus on customers, see what you are offering them and how you are offering them.


Hiten Shah - KissMetrics

  1. Create a hypothesis for developing your products. Prove it while developing it.
  2. Define metrics for different stages of products and religiously follow them.
  3. We have divided our 10 people startup into a problem team and solution team. The former is closer to market and customer and defines the work, the latter is mostly technical who solve the problems.
  4. Lean and virtual startups are call of day. We too have meetings on M-W-F. Monday to define the problems of the week. Wednesday to catch up on how its going. Friday for lessons learnt and peek into next week.


David Cancel - Perfomable

  1. Seek funds only when its in dream stage or when you have gained enough traction for products. VCs will push you for demos and traction and you will loose focus.
  2. Reach out. But do not attend conferences randomly. They are waste of time.
  3. Listen to your customers. Not to your competitors. Talk to them early and talk to them often. 
The presentation were direct and honest, eye to eye. Nothing to hide but arms wide open. We are here to help if you need any kind.

These links came up during discussion
http://three.sentenc.es/
http://www.thinkgeek.com/index.shtml
http://twitter.com/#!/nikolasivkov
http://www.rewardlevel.com/
http://okdork.com/
http://survey.io
http://www.custdev.com/ you can use the coupon LEAN for discounts
http://www.cindyalvarez.com/
There were others so please add if you remember them.


Saturday, December 04, 2010

Big Bazaar is changing Consumers Buy Choices

The time to redeem wednesday 2 kg sugar coupon was around.

When I reached Big bazaar I was disappointed to find it being offered to anyone whose purchase exceeded Rs. 500.

Nevertheless the place was crowded.

This time compromises had to be made for choices of brand in the given shopping list. The following brands were unavailable.

  1. Parle G biscuits
  2. Sabeena Powder
  3. Harpic Blue Toilet cleaners
  4. Tata Salt 
So the choice was to shop elsewhere and find the above brands or collect the alternatives that Big Bazaar was offering along with free Sugar 2kg.
  1. No 1kg biscuits bought
  2. Alternative brand - dont recall name - spouse said it looks like its filled with sand.
  3. Harpic rose cleaner which spouse claimed had milder effects on commodes.
  4. Saffola salt which was Rs 8 costlier than Tata. 
How was your wednesday at Big Bazaar?

Every Day Android Apps - Send To Computer

Quite a nifty tool. Good for website viewing for sites that are yet to be mobile enabled.

I had been struggling with the web browsing experience when I stumbled upon it.

I was searching for a good barcode scanning android app on android marketplace because "Barcode scanner" was not scanning the 1D code. It could be a limitation of Samsung Galaxy 5 as the camera is not auto-focus.

Have you been able to decode 1D bar codes with Samsung Galaxy 5? Please let me know.

I initially could not understand the concept behind "Send To Computer". After a struggle these were the steps that got me going
  1. Goto http://send-to-computer.appspot.com/ on your desktop. Enable popups in your browser for this site.
  2. Scan the 2D code with your phone "Barcode Scanner". The app will obtain a unique id for your session.
  3. Go to Browser in phone, open any site. Click on Menu-->More-->Share Page-->Send To Computer
  4. Lo and behold the page opens in your desktop browser window.
  5. Another nicety is to have the links of all sites shared on the desktop page of send-to-compter.appspot.com

Friday, December 03, 2010

Everyday Android apps - Cardio Trainer

Cardio Trainer - Your personal trainer and route tracer. You are likely to use it twice a day.
  1. How I got it? 
    • I was on Morning walk, saw Vijay Prahallad, shared usual Hi and was almost on Bye when he said "I am sure you would love it" and showed me the accuracy of Cardio Trainer and path traced, calories burned and distance covered. 
    • Searched on Android Market and there it was.
  2. What I like?
    • I am hooked , todays is third day and even though I was slightly sick I went out.
    • The music integration.
    • GPS accuracy. First day was poor as I had set it for good and 1s refresh but now changing it to fair and 10s interval has significantly improved. I jog in a cluster of buildings and its amazing to see the path.
    • No user registeration. You get a code and can use it anytime you want to.
  3. What I dont like?
    • It looks like it interferes with call. Yesterday I was having a conference call and at about  4:45PM the phone rebooted itself. This is also about the time it sends reminder to go for walk at 5PM
    • I had tried endomeda and myfitness pal and could not use them for long before this switch happened.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Ruralzing invites school student

Halenijagal kids dancing
The Sunday, 28th Nov,2010 was different.

The students were divided into four groups. Each group had to present the idea as to "Define a feasible project for village development if you have a budget of 1 Lakh".

There were interesting ideas on
  1. Improve irrigation and extend rainwater harvesting
  2. Cultural center in villlage with a outlet on NH4 highway close to the village.
  3. Scale biogas plant to cater to needs of every household.
  4. Basic Health care center.
The constraint of the project were in line with India@75 vision of Professor Prahalad. The winning entry beat the runner up by mere 3 points.

The participating schools were Shishuvan from Mumbai, The Jain International School from Bilaspur and a school from Kochi.

The students played games like गिल्ली ओर डंडा (Gilli and डंडा), कंचे (marbles), लट्टू () and danced with local children in the school campus.



Highlights of the day
  1. Kochi school kids
    • talking about seasonal unemployment
    • elaborating on 7-8 types of agriculture and irrigation methods
  2. Bilaspur school kids
    • Talked about primary/secordary and tertiary mode of occupation and enquired why locals didnt diversify.
    • Animated presentation 
  3. Mumbai school kids
    • Interviewed household meticulously and found the skills and artifiacts of women and kids of Halenijagal
    • Had three jains students who had brought in their own food.
    • Showcased group dynamics of team building wherein folks infight but ultimately all's well and the dissident is made to present.
Nobody complained that lunch was being served at 3 PM. A few had to run becasue of slight drizzle.

Thank you
  • Vishwa for managing and involving the local village residents.
  • Rahul Mirchandani from Young India(YI) - CII - India@75 for letting us know of next practices. 
    • Best practices have already been customized to a geography and culture, next practices will be India specific and better than best practices.
    • Indian postal system is a great delivery and distribution channel. Commodity exchanges uses it to provide daily update of commodity rates. Rahul uses it to distribute his inert fertilizers through postman/master who also takes farmers feedback and reads out to them the response through e-post.
    • Fully organic requires a staying power of atleast 3 years and acceptance of organic practice by community rather than individual. The pest will relish on your fields because the neighbours would have fertilizers/pesticides on them.  
  • Darshan Mutha from Bangalore YI for inviting Bilaspur TJIS and for being the main act behind scene.
    • I had a normal job and grew to Director level very fast. I used to pass cheques worth lakh of rupees and get the meagre monthly salary.
    • One day I quit and waited for six months for my first assignment. The first assignment I asked a advance of 50%. It was equivalent of a years salary.
    • I started seeing the gap in quality education setup, marketing and delivery. I am a one man show with small team and have worked in almost every major city in India. All in all in 8 years of my life.
  • Pritam Kumar Sinha for inviting me and Abhishek for organizing the day. Both for continuing to run with the vision of Ruralzing through Infosys Young Indians chapters.
    • Organic retailers have challenges for daily supply of vegetables as some days it will be 50 kgs and others it will be 500kgs of delivery. Rahul mentioned ISKON Akshya Patra scheme has multiple centers across states and thus is able to manage constant supply from different states for its mid-day school scheme.

Why Nokia is so paranoid?

Nokia is all over the place with great push for their ovi store. They are in malls, in conferences and in start-up events. They are extending their distribution channel for app developer to connect their customer with their apps.

What is in an mobile phone app that Nokia is losing its sleep over?

It looks like market share. New India based mobile manufactures have gathered significant marketshare in last couple of years. With companies like Spice,Micromax,Lava and Videocon in the fray.

It could be Android too. The adaption of android development environment by developers across Asia and world is one such sign.

Second could be price point of touch based devices. Nokia has lowered one of their best offering to about Rs.7k. Other day @mayanks mentioned that he now he has bought the device where will he find the apps. All the fun apps are either on iphone or android.

Another could be deployment of 3G. 3G will go hand in hand with smart phones. Interestingly the package offering of Android with new Indian phone manufactures at a price point affordable to most Indians will execute law of diminishing returns to players like Nokia.

Thank you Vijay Prahallad for the title of this blog.

Friday, November 26, 2010

How Android is changing the home environment?

The buy was long pending. It was triggered by a theft.

I bought the Samsung Galaxy 5 paying Rs 650 more at Sangeetham mobiles than at flipcart.com just to have their theft/accident/water insurance coverage.

My daughter picked up the features faster than I and she demonstrated some cool tricks within few hours like you could go to clock-then camera and then run slideshow.
My Spouse was a late entrant but was hooked to "Angry Birds", Bistro Cook.
My one year kid always changed the swype keyboard language to one of European languages and the keyboard layout changed each time and I had struggle understanding why the letters are changing places each time I go to swype.

The initial rush of downloads saturated onboard memory and I had to uninstall few apps including angrybirds. I learnt about kies and how to do firmware upgrades through it. I was hoping to get Froyo 2.2 in a whiz so that I could install the apps on SD card. But kies cried foul and provided no upgrade, proclaiming My device had uptodate firmware.

The first complaint from spouse. Where is angry birds? I cleared Talking Tom and Robot that had caused hilarious comedies in house for few days to make way for Angry Birds.

My kid proclaimed, I had gone to the highest level in "throwing the waste paper in dust bin", only in game warn you. Alas I had to uninstall that to let Angry birds in.

My spouse comments "You are spending more time on android than on us". And indeed I was hooked to twitter, facebook and gmail like never before. I hardly visited the first two a few times a week and now I was there a few times a day. I even downloaded my gmail contacts in csv as instructed by facebook as google did not allow them to have direct view and uploaded them to facebook, inviting tonnes of people to come on-board.

The only complaint so far has been the poor performance of battery. It only lasts 2-3 hours with wifi on and I have to charge it 3-4 times a day.

Have you been touched by the android experience?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dell Support says mechanical fault is by design

The battery bay of Dell Inspiron N5010 has a latch that has two positions.
Lock and Unlock.
The battery shakes a little when you lift the laptop.
I thought I should seek Dell Support. Big Mistake number 1.

The DVD drives makes a grhoom and a hoom sound, sometimes.
I thought I should seek Dell Support. Big Mistake number 2.

I called up support after contemplating for a while as to amount of time I will be put on hold. But I had been postponing the above two issues for a while and thought why not try today. I though of chat but the link said all our customers representative are busy, please email. When I went to email it said you should email only for the following 10 things else you should call. So I called.

I was quickly connected and shared info. I explained the problem. The Dell customer representative cut me in middle and said she will connect to technical representative. It was about 10 mins before he came online. I spoke the above 2 problems.

He could not understand. He said as long as the battery is not falling off it is okay and it is by design that latches can be both at lock and unlock position at same time.

For the battery he told the problem is with the firmware. A plastic piece which is ill fitted is due to a software. It is hard to believe but the guy was so convinced that even I started to believe him.

Can you believe mechanical defects are part of design by Design and in second case due to firmware issue?
There are some interesting events that happened over the next three hours. Yes Sir, THREE BIG HOURS of your productive day. Here they are
  1. The computer was slow to shutdown so he urged to hard press the power key. You know how funny Windows 7 behaves when it hangs and you have hardpress power key. The same thing happened. It went to CHKDSK and the guy kept insisting that please hard press the power key to save his precious time.
  2. He gave me a firmware update link which first went to "MAFIA GAMES invitation for FACEBOOK" and later to BIOS upgrade site. Nothing related DVD firmware.
  3. He asked me to unistall DVD drivers and restart machine.
  4. We went to bios and ran the diagnostic test by pressing F12. It threw up an error saying AC Adaptor is not compliant. He would not listen. Sir Just close the machine and shut the machine. 
  5. We removed the battery and charger and he asked me to press the power key for 30 secs. When I asked him why he said to remove the static on your laptop.
  6. Finally he assured me that today or tomorrow the laptop will crash and I will not be able to login so better go for reinstallation of OS.
  7. I had to keep the phone in loudspeaker mode and on DVD drive for him to listen to ghruum sound but he could not. 
  8. He called back to say he would send a dell representative to replace the DVD drive. 
Sorry, Manoj but for the Mafia link and "as per design" comment I would not have revealed your name. I could have passed the rest of activitities as "Dell support ke side effects" but those two punches were too much. I hope both were accidental.

Who did you talk to dell today and how was your experience?

UPDATE - Once this post was published I got a tweet from @TulsiAtDell enquiring if the problem persisted and how she could help further on same. She has registered a complaint and shared dispatch number with me. I got a call from Dell today that a technician will visit on Monday. This was much more efficient and effective than going through the phone support. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

How is donation pitch different from securities pitch?

We have made 300 crores and we need 50 crores more.

Both use the same sentence.

One is six months out of MBA from Ramya College and is management trainee with ICICI Securities.
Other is an engineering graduate, converted and dons orange color clothes and works for ISKON temple/trust.

One is selling Pinnacle II, an ULIP which has 5 years outflow of 50k per annum and assured returns after 10 years at the highest NAV.
Other is selling a mammoth temple construction which will be one the largest of its kinds with amusement parks and thematic studios.

One promised 5 times the value of investment as life insurance.
Other promises car park passes, books, and special pujas on your birthdays and anniversaries.

One promises financial prosperity.
Other promises spiritual progress and सुकृति .

The instrument of investment is Unit linked Insurance policy.
The instrument of investment is a step that will lead on to the temple. Your name could be somewhere on side of the steps in golden glittering letters.

Both will give you tax savings.

Both sell promise.
Both give you hope.
Both want to give you best advice as both are relationship manager in their own right and desire long term association with you.

Are you sold? To whom?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Children Day Celebrations @Brigade Gardenia

Jawaharlal Nehru was born on 14th November. We celebrate children's day in his honor. The daily routine may force you to forget about him but for the sincere and dedicated mothers who like their kids to showcase their talents at stage. Not really, I really appreciate the hard work and effort put by the ladies in composing a event that is memorial for their kids as well as their parents.

Their is dance,skit, keyboards,songs and fashion shows.

Ah! I forgot another active class in enclaves who needs the events. The teachers of various arts and crafts like dance/song/keyboards who want to market their availability for your kids so that he can attend one more class.

There are dance and more dance and too much dance. Indian bollywood music and its steps copied by students, cheered by parents. Where is talent?

Traditional music being rendered by half screeching loud speakers. Will you close your eyes to get lost in music?

Distribution of fast foods like chips packets means more plastic on the grounds and work for housekeeping.

The amphitheater is packed but you stay only till the time you video or take a snap of your ward and then you dont care.

The videos are uploaded on youtube and you can find them by searching for "Children Day Celebrations @Brigade Gardenia". The camera battery ran out and could not record the rest of events. A big apology to all parents whose video could not be recorded.



Kudos to all participants and volunteers who still make these events come to life. Do you celebrate in your enclave/ society/ chaal/ mohalla?

Big Bazaar is changing Buyer Behavior

This Diwali Big Bazaar gave a sheet to all its customers with coupons for getting 2 kg of sugar on every Wednesday for the next few months based on the kind of spend they did during the offer period.

Generally we postpone our Big Bazaar trips to end of week and gather the dump and bring back home. Now they want to come on the day that they want and spend atleast 500 rupees so that you get the 2 kg of sugar that you have been consuming so fastidiously.

What this entails?
  1. Your consumption of sugar goes up. There are 4 Wednesdays in a month and now you consume 8 kgs of sugar. Apparently sugar is responsible for most of middle and old age diseases according to a 100 year old Rishi who never had roti in his life.
  2. Your outflow to Big bazaar goes up. You spend atleast 500*4 = 2000 rupees to get that 8 kgs of sugar. And you know better  than me that bill is not always exactly 500 depending on who accompanies you. Chances are high if you are alone but if your daughter,son or spouse around you cannot cutoff on 500. 
  3. There is a positive too. Housewives distribute their buying habits so that atleast one high priced item comes every week and not all them are consumed in any single week. They too can plan you know!
  4. The weekend crowd to Big Bazaar is reduced. Now they may end up in Central for all you know. 

Will you be willing to shop on Wednesday and cut loose into Big Bazaar's way of doing? It would be interesting to get the numbers of folks who bit this bullet.

Wednesday Big Bazaar
The picture was taken at little Big Bazaar at Puttenahalli, RBI Layout in Bangalore. Its little because each time you ask a complex question they redirect you to Jayanagar Big Bazaar.

NASSCOM Product conclave - Day 1 - Points

The day began with keynote from Mr. Amitabh Srivastava from Microsoft with a rather long job title. He warned that nobody knew cloud well. Rest of the time was spent on how Microsoft was playing the azure game the way they had done for windows OS. Apparently a OS for the cloud which they called as PaaS which was obviously different from salesforce or Google. Amazon was claimed to be IaaS (Infrastructure as a service) where you have to manage your server and its security updates etc.,

This was followed by the story of On24 by Sharat Sharan, a rather serious note. They had to do away with their initial management team because they did not have the relevant IT credentials. The product which is on web casting was intensely technical. They survived the market crashes and now desire to move on to from being a 50 Million to 200 Million Dollars company. The kind of challenges at every size are different and they have managed to address them organically so far.

Next we had discussion on UID and how it will transform the Indian landscape, bring about more transparency and is a business opportunity for many to innovate custom business models to address it. There is opportunity for bar code scanners, api/app developers and distributors who can register folks for UID. It will only solve the identification issue taking your retina scan, fingerprint and in return will give you a number which will uniquely identify you.
This will apparently help government to cut middleman and help reach its policies to the aam aadmi. Sanjay Swami, volunteer, Mobile and Financial service - UIDAI lead the talk.

Abhishek Sinha from Eko India financial services illustrated their mobile micro-payment model which includes the kirana store and has a tie with State Bank Of India. They transact more than 5 Crores a day. He wanted Reserve Bank Of India to come forward and educate the masses on  the possibilities of using Mobile as a payment platform.

Carol Realini from Obopay Inc highlighted that distribution is the challenge for them and they always tie with local distributors in every geography that they go to. In fact the cost of identification ie., know of customers is 0 in kenya and is about $10 in India. This cost has to come down and UID will help in that.

Next we had discussion on "Traits of a Successful Product Entrepreneur", a panel that was enliven by presence of Laura Parkin from NEN. The first time in the day when you felt fresh in the room. There was lots of energy in the introduction of panelists and the audience were involved in Facts/Fiction game.
Vivek Wadhwa, an entrepreneur turned academician who brought in lots of facts and research numbers in claiming that startups begin in middle stages/ages and is lots of experience before people breakthrough. Most of the time they jerk their bosses.
The research point of view was countered by another electrifying presence on stage of Vishal Gondal from IndiaGames.com. He claimed that success was more due to your willingness to reach out to your customers early and fast. One thing you learn from him is that you need not be too serious in whatever game you play.
The panel was fun and discussion was light.

Next panel was to discuss "Building Products for a billion Indians".
John Howard from Duron Energy has built different sales and distribution model in Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh. He is from California and has visited more Indian villages than most of us. He is selling Solar powered lighting solutions to rural India. His business model includes selling of accessories that are powered by his lighting solutions.

Vishal Sehgal from Lava mobiles who has garnered 4% of Indian mobile markets in last one and half years. His business model has combined sales and services centers into one and has focused on service delivery post sales. Lava has double the service centers than Nokia.

BG Mahesh of OneIndia portal has injected English into his local content to make his content more search engine friendly. Also he has customized the portal so that people in Tamilnadu has more political content than for example Karnataka, and the content has to be in local language.

The Evening has Polly Summers from Salesforce.com who have built the cloud landscape. They are the first SaaS based company to cross a billion dollars in revenue and their marketplace has revenue in excess of 350 Billions Dollars. They use what they built and claim that the reach and visibility that platforms like chatters have done is quite remarkable. Somebody posts a query for her chatter timeline and it is answered befor she even has a look at it, a great way to address the productivity loss due to Email. She does not have to go over every email and respond. 

Do you have a point to make too? Please use the comment section below :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Learn kannada from Auto driver in Bangalore

Will you go to Hotel Ashok on Kumar krupa road?
10 rupees extra sir
Can you go by meter?
Okay, sit
---after the auto starts and in motion---
You will have to pay rupees 30
I will pay by meter, if you dont want it then please stop the auto and I will get down
Sit sit
---reach a traffic signal, a beggar comes on the side
I dont have a rupee, can you give him a rupee?
Even I dont have a rupee
See sir, a truck struck me from front and i have almost lost a eye, thanks to god that I have survived, since then I earn and eat well but also give needy when ever I can.
---i check for money but the least amount that comes out is 10, he takes the 10 and obtains a change of 5 from beggar and puts it back into my hand, the signal becomes green
sirr, do you know kannada?
No
How long you have been here?
6-7 years
---then he starts teaching me kannada, the below in double quotes is in kannada
next time when you meet a auto driver tell him "I am kannadiga, dont cheat me"
-- i try to repeat that but its hard, he is patient and keeps repeating till i get it right
"I will not give extra, put meter and go"
"If you dont go I will do police complaint"
--By then the hotel comes and I have to get down for NASSCOM product conclave 2010.
For a rare time in life I had shared a good laugh with auto driver in Bangalore.

Did you ever shared a lighter moment with a auto driver in Bangalore?

Brigade School @Brigade Millenium- Annual Day 2010

A beautiful evening of performance at MLR convention center. An evening where the children performed, teachers and support staff orchestrated the events and parents simply walked in and witness the performances. We could only clap at the series of performances. The skits made us laugh. The history took us into our past.

The theme for this year was Goa and Maharashtra.

We could see the costumes of Portugese,Hindu and Sultanate/Mughal rulers. We could hear the Portuguese music customized by local and called as Goan. The choir. The flowing dances, ballets and folk.

Mumbai illustration had Songs and Dance from Bollywood, fashion from the commercial capital of India. The dance/fashion of every decade was portrayed, we could see twist/disco/...

The children looked so happy in performance. The older kids looked so matured walking on the ramp. The kids helping with seating arrangements were so courteous , soft and beautiful.

The inauguration speech was by Ms. Jaishankar. She touched upon the moral fabric deteriorating and how we as parents and teachers can help our children ride chariot like Yudhistra which was always a few inches above grounds. But on the day when Drona asked him "Did Ashwathama die?" He said Yes, Ashwathama "the elephant"(softly) is dead. In noise of war "the  elephant" was not heard but that day the white lie made his chariot touch the dust and the dirt was on his chariot. We need to be careful about the white lies too.

The next day morning we got a call from the Brigade School that the children of standards 1-3 need not come for another day of performance today. It was not informed earlier and the teachers were kind enough to let us know the next day morning. A first for Brigade School and a pleasant surprise for us.

NASSCOM Product conclave - Day 2 - Points

The first keynote had Yahoo CEO , Carol Bartz. The kalinga house of lalit ashok was full. There were media vans outside and nobody was wasting their time outside.
The points
  1. India could have better Internet penetration if there is access to more bandwidth and access to more devices (need not be laptops or phones) at rates which are affordable to Indians.
  2. Yahoo is about content and how it can be relevant to its end users.
  3. Yahoo does not yet have plan for an app marketplace.
  4. Yahoo encourages women to come and contribute more in the engineering realm.
The next keynote was by Dr Frank H Levinson.
The points
  1. I will try to make the session fun but jokes across cultures can backfire at time.
  2. The hall is full and I should thank Carol for same.
  3. The biggest mistake was becoming CEO of my first start up and I got fired within 6 months. My wife said it was not my fault but I said it was mine. I took full responsibility and accepted my failure and learned from it. In the next venture I was not the CEO. Accept your mistakes. 
  4. Friends and family money is not good nor are they a good co-founders. It is hard during rough times in business cycles when you have to take difficult decisions. It is easier to work with a colleague who becomes partner. There were only two occasions when I socialized with my partner and that was that.
  5. Bootstrapping is essential in beginning but when you need the money then VC should come. Early in the venture they do not give time for the product to refine. The first versions of product are not generally marketable. It took us 3 years to our product correct for the market. VC cannot give you that time. They give 10 million and would ideally want 9 women to get together and deliver baby in one month. But they are the ones with experience and they have seen it and could forewarn and check your mistakes before they kill your business.
  6. Retaining talent is tough. Engineers like to create more than equity and cash. If you can convince them that what you are building is great product then it will be easier to keep them. Listen to your team. If they avoid you or answers are not what you would term as normal conversation then be ready to face the truth. Don't sugar-coat nor ignore it. Its very unasian to be straight. Its common in valley to have straight talk and not feel lousy about it.
  7. When you provide Service to your client it is assumed that everything that you do is for them. It is not so. While you may give them what they have asked for you can spend your own money to build a module/component that will become yours and you can either package it in the same deal or sell it separately. We created our first module on same line and now it has lead us to become number 1 supplier of optic fibre cables in world. We always wanted to become a product company. Services was good to bootstrap but services was never our goal even though our first few projects were purely engineering. Dont be afraid to share ideas with your customers and help them improve your product. But find out what will be your core and try to protect it.
  8. You will hurt your customer in your interaction with them but go back and listen and continue to serve them and try to make them more happy than unhappy. We still have our first customers onboard and the running has not always been smooth. But they still are there. 
  9. Dont throw money behind your back in name of philanthropy. Take active interest in the project and provide your insights into its execution. Make the same result oriented and focused. 
There was a workshop in which we had different panelists. Their names and points are listed below
Pallav Nadhani - Fusion Charts
  1. I started at 16 in 11th standard to make some pocket money. I ran alone for 3 years. 
  2. I was alone for support so my product had to be good on quality as well as well documented so that users would come to us less often.
  3. I had to hide the fact that we were a Indian company. At expos later in time clients came to us and said if I knew you were Indian we would have not bought from you. We designed the site perfectly and made it look world class. Only when there was email interaction would the client come to know that I was an indian company. Now it has changed and we are proud to declare ourselves as Indian company. Now there are companies across India who cater to global clientele and from cities like Jallandhar.
  4. We have gained trust by making our code commercial open source. By making older versions of code open source and free. The clients said if they could do this then they can certainly do better than this. 
  5. We also integrated free for our clients. We know that charts are integral part of their application and once they built liking for it they will continue to be our customers for long.
  6. We have 80000 customers and only 4 in support staff.
Hanuman Tripathy - Infrasoft
  1. We have built a market leader in banking and financial sector across geographies for tier 2 banks.
  2. Focus on the finished product. Even at beta stage the product should be well packaged.
  3. We had a point of death in 2002 where we miscalculate the market spend by the banks. We were ready for 50crores but the market bloated to 500 crores as projects got redefined and focus shifted to large SI and larger players. We had a choice to die or do something else. We decided to focus on the smaller banks who we knew would grow. Along with them was attached our growth.
  4. Our ticket size is from quarter million to 2 million and thus our sales cycles could even last a year.
Ajay S Sharma - Srishti software
  1. The jugad जुगाड़ mentality is integral to our culture. We cannot do away with it. The western culture needs periodic and updated information on progress. It will be shocker for them to know that Project Manager here is not sure whether he will be able to deliver the project in the evening. But during the day the team somehow manages to deliver it in the evening. If we ask them the progress the response is "It will be done" सर हो जाएगा, चिंता मत करो सर सब हो जाएगा, क्यों टेंशन लेते हो हो जाएगा न.  
  2. He illustrated the above point with a anecdote. His father friend in Russia who was at senior post in Russian refinery said "He started to believe in GOD after coming to India.". Why? "When I come in morning to refinery I get scared that how will this get done today, I am worried the whole day but in the evening before I return I see the work and its ALL DONE. How is it possible if GOD did not exist?"
  3. Recruit a smart technical resource early on in your startup. When you go public and if you hit success then your product will die young if its not architected well. 
  4. Same as above but have a domain expert onboard soon either as advisor or stakeholder. Your clients will not take you seriously if you dont claim to know their business and the effort you have put in building the product.
  5. Get your first customer right. If the first customer is weak on domain it will reflect on your product initial feedback post launch and your subsequent features will go against future prospects.
Manav Garg - Eka software
  1. If you sales manager owns a ferrari and lives in a 5 million house then you cannot ask him to travel economy. Your sales and marketing budget should be driven by your markets and the quality of people that you want onboard.
    There was a workshop by Dr. Sridhar Vembu, CEO, Zoho
    The points
    1. Eyeballs are needed for social networking sites. Facebook gets 5 million users but revenue could be around a billion dollors. Salesforce has 2 million users and revenue soon to reach 2 billion dollars.
    2. Find out whether your business needs eyeballs or revenue. 
    3. We launched Zoho writer a good 5-6 months before Google docs. We did not know why we had launced it but we did. But after Google entry into office space either we had to fight Google or die young. We choose to go beyond office like products. Then we were nobody but now people talk about us and recognize us as more than office like company and talk along side Google.
    4. If Google is queen then we were mistress.
    5. Advertise in the markets where you have most conversions. If I put billboard in Chennai it will feel nice and probably drive eyeballs but less conversions, whereas the same billboard in california would mean more recognition for the brand and better conversion. Find out where your users convert and pay you revenue and spend your marketing budgets there. 
    6. The techcrunch effect. They will cover you if you deserve it. You will get eyeballs from techcrunch but that of tech savvy audience. They will like your product if its good and only then they will tell their friends. People forget you on techcrunch after a few days and then only your product will carry the next wave of conversion. But initially focus on tech savvy blogs to cover you.  I did not want my father to waste our bandwidth by using our product because he did not go to techcrunch. He started reading techcrunch and now he is qualified to use our product.
    7. If you can get 20000 users who pay you then you have arrived on the SAAS world. You will have revenues and you will have to continue to grow with your customers.
    Side notes
    1. What were you doing for last 1.5 years? Lava mobiles was started then and now has 4% of marketshare, double the sales+service centers of nokia (1000) and is focused on the rural market. 
    2. Duron energy is created by US citizen and based out of Bangalore. They have learnt to sell energy solutions to rural India by effective sales and distribution channel which is customized for every state.
    3. A journalist goes to each of these events searching for stories like "Sally doubles its revenue from x to 2x from a sales agent of sally".
    4. A lady with BCOM background trading chemicals in earlier avatar creates a ERP product for Indian SMB. The indian customer just wants what he needs - where is his inventory, what is happening with PO/invoices, he is not bothered about reports/BI or quarterly projections, he is bothered about the end of day not month/quarter or year.
    5. A senior person returns from US after 36 years to head technology in engineering services. He claims that when he was Independent Consultant he commanded rates of 125 to 150 dollars, says if you deserve it you will get it.
    6. An individual launches himself as "Innovation-as-a-service" expert. 
    7. An angel investor tells you to go to NEN to get mentored and after you have developed a product map, meet him. 
    8. Indian startup story is not centered in big cities, it is happening everywhere and in every field. Go reach out and you will see.

      Tuesday, November 09, 2010

      Lost Mobile in BMTC bus in Bangalore

      So much for the public transport.
      So much for the public apathy.
      I was screaming I have lost the mobile and no one moved in the entire bus. Everybody turned around twitched a little and ignored the cry.

      More than the loss the reaction of the public shocked me.

      The bus conductor of BMTC bus somewhere in front. He did not bother to intervene.
      One person offered to call the number but the phone was promptly switched off.
      Other said you can block the phone by using some code.

      The doors of the bus were closed. The thief was inside. I could do nothing but get out of the bus.

      Bus number is 201 and it mostly runs between Banasankari and Koramangala.

      I had heard stories of people losing mobile phones and purse in 201 but it was a first hand experience for the first time.

      I called up my spouse and she kept trying to reach BSNL toll free mobile help line number. She was always in queue after choosing the lost mobile option. She visited the nearest BSNL office and they said she had to go to Jayanagar 4th Block office to register the complaint.

      I called up BSNL helpline and after 7 mins the call went through to their agent. He started asking last dialled number. I was confused, why was he asking the last dialled number and not bothered about my number and the call got cut.

      I called up again, chose the language option as 2 and mobile lost option as 4 and connected to a lady agent after 8 minutes. She took my address and number details and said she could only disable the SIM after I told her the last three dialled out number from my phone.

      Who in the world would remember mobile numbers? And that two last 2-3 dialled numbers. I gave up after half an hour of frustrating interaction with BSNL support.

      I had to go to their office in Jayanagar 4th block. Write a application on paper and request them to block the previous card and provide the new card. One positive thing. I requested for 3G card and the lady across the counter gave without any hassles and said it will be activated by evening.

      This is a good 5 hours after I had lost the phone could I get the SIM block
      So much for BSNL customer service.

      I called PAI internatinal from where I bought the phone asking if they could hell in any way with the loss of phone. They referred Nokia customer care and he did not even had their number.

      I obtained nokia customer care number from internet and called them. They have an option for lost phone and on choosing so they tell that you have to report to your police station and they will not be able to block it.
      I called up local police station and they asked me to come after 10:30AM the next day.

      Police station in JP Nagar 2nd phase was helpful. A policeman outside asked me to check inside. The person was sitting right across the corridor surrounded by few more. I explained the above story and he asked for a bill. I did not have then.

      Modus Operandi of the group of mobile thieves -
      1. Crowd the exit gate. They are really bulky creatures and you will have to really squeeze to get through them. 
      2. Your focus will be on getting out else you miss your stop. Their focus is your pocket.
      3. Either hold the phone or keep your hands in all your pockets with valuables.

      Wednesday, September 22, 2010

      Buy laptop in india - dell online experience

      It will be close to a month and the laptop is nowhere in sight.

      I discussed with the sales person for customizing the configuration.
      1. Is it possible to upgrade RAM from 3 to 4 as there could be 2 GB per slot?
        1. No its not possible.
      2. Is it possible to have multiple partitions?
        1. I can give two partitions with 60 GB in one and rest in others?
          1. Is it possible to give equal partitions?
            1. Not possible. You can do it yourself.
      3. Do you also share windows OS disk?
        1. No we have stopped shipping it a month back.
          1. How do I reinstall or update in case of issues?
            1. You will have to make your own disk and you can take help of technical assistance post delivery.
      4. When will the laptop come?
        1. Within a week.
      The conversation happened on September 1st 2010.
      Dell sent me the invoice with 7 days validity.
      I called back customer care on September 6th 2010.
      • I would like to place the order.
        • No Sir, you cant the rates have gone up.
          • But your invoice is valid for 7 days.Today is 7th. I dont know how you do your maths but 1 + 7 is 8th Sept.
            • No sir the date of invoice is start date.
              • Even in that case today is 7th Sept.
                • Oh! I can process the order if you make the payment by 3PM today and show me the screenshot of payment transfer confirmation.
      Dell does not have an online payment gateway. You have to go to your internet banking account, create a payee in dells name, confirm it and then make the payment. Otherwise you can use the credit card payment option but for that you have to go through their toll free number and key in your credit card details.

      The dell sales person sent email "Ok.Shall revert with the acknowledgment soon." How soon?
      I get the order confirmation on September 9th 2010. The cash left my account on 7th.
      One week past and I check with the sales guy and this is email response on 15th"
      Due to  the application upgrade we are facing delay in the production process which is expected to be cleared soon.Sametime we have taken note of your complaint. Please be assured that we are looking into this matter and are according the highest priority to the same.We will keep you  updated on the status of  your order and appreciate your patience in this regard."
      This is the response on 20th Sept "Your consignment is been custom cleared and been handed over to bluerdart for delivery.Request you to re-confirm the same with our customer care at (1800-425-4051)". 

      I call up customer care and request them to know the cancellation procedure. Dell refunds the complete amount but it will take 20 days for it reach your account. They give me a case number and promise that laptop will come sometime this week. The conversation
      • I am not happy with dell delivery. 
        • Please share your order number. I will place you to a customer care agent.
      I had to listen to their promos for 10 mins before a customer care executive got free.
      • What is your cancellation procedure?
        • We can refund the whole amount and it will take 20 days for same.
      • Your sales person promised a week of delivery time.
        • Its 10 working days from date of order.
      • The money left my account on 7th sept and today is 20th sept.
        • No, We calculate from order date and which is Sept 9th and 10 working days from there. We dont include weekends.
      • When will I get the laptop?
        • Sometimes this week. I will expedite the delivery and talk to our logistics department.

      I am in the middle of the week and the bluedart site is saying the reference number is invalid. So the laptop is with somebody and they are definitely not the last mile guys. Today is September 22nd 2010.

      So my recommendation would be go for dell online buying experience if you like to sip your drinks drop by drop and know that a laptop does not make any difference to your business nor personal productivity. And also you like to go back and forth between sales and customer care, phone support and email. 

      Only if you have the luxury of time then buy a laptop from dell.
      I know your experience would be better than mine and please comment to share it.


      Friday, August 27, 2010

      Bubbles Centre Outing, August 14th 2010 write-ups


      August 14th trip: A write-up by Parvathy: Staff and parent at Bubbles centre


      My daughter and I had a wonderful experience during our trip to Hallenijgal. It was as close to nature we could get as possible. The lush green fields, the tractor ride, the walk through the fields and amidst the village houses and cattle.. it was truly an undescribable experience.

      We were touched by the kindness and openness of the villagers. The best part was that our kids were able to interact freely with the village school children, which is a huge benefit.
      I hope we will be able to take our kids more often to get such exposure which is key to their development.


      Trip to Hallenijgal, August 14th, 2010: A write-up by a parent and staff-member: Pamela







      The trip to Hallenijgal was a very enjoyable trip. The children had a very good experience. They got to see the village scenario and the village life. We have taken photographs and are doing picture talk based on what they had seen and experienced in the village. We are also able to elicit responses from our children during our recalling time period in our class. It is really so amazing to see how much they are able to talk abut what they saw. This was indeed a very good opportunity that the children got to explore a different environment and have fun too.
      It does not just end here. The children enjoyed the drive in the bus as well as the tractor. We were apprehensive to a little extent whether our children with special needs will be able to adapt to changes, new surroundings and change of routine but to our surprise all the kids had fun.
      The highlight of the trip was events at the village school. It was a real example of integration as our children with special needs and the school children at Hallenijgal participated together in all the games and art activities.
      Socially the trip helped our children as they were all paired with teachers and volunteers whom they had not interacted with before. We all sat together and ate the same food together. The food was very delicious. The children got to plant saplings explore nature at free will. All the children had a very good time far beyond their words can express.


      Bubbles outing to Infosys village :): A write-up by Seema: A volunteer at Bubbles centre













      Sarbani tells me tat when ur intentions r right, things will always fall in place...n when they dont..just try questioning if the intent is intended right!!
      I remember, Sarbani had mentioned during our camping trip, that it would be brilliant if the kids at Bubbles could go to a village and get to stride along fields, see farm animals and do some tree-planting!!All of us who work in the IT industry have a team outing, atleast once a year. This year, a friend of mine suggested Rural Zing, a village adopted by Infosys youth centre. Rural Zing, as an initiative helps bridge the urban crowd with that of the village crowd.
       In return, the urban log get to have a feel of village life, tractor rides, village games and loads of fresh air. The villagers, on their part are at an advantage, as the earnings go into the village developmental programmes. 
      And Rural Zing was too gud to believe :) I still remember the conversation we had with Pritam, who is the co-ordinator from Infosys Youth Wing. He seemed so positive, he suggested v plant trees with the children, gave us detailed descriptions of the village outing, offered to sponsor the trip and when he suggested v have some activities and fun games organized with the village children[talk abt integration :)] , our joy knew no bounds:) and both Sarbani and me had to pinch ourselves to know that we werent dreaming!!!

      I call Vinod, an active volunteer with Trees for free, one fine day and tell him about the tree planting activity being planned with the kids at Bubbles and Vinod, very kindly not only offers to provide us the plants, but also sponsors them :)...We would have silently thanked him so much ki pucho math :)

      Sarbani tells me that the kids at Bubbles were so excited about the field trip, mainly coz given the challenges they face day in and day out, it is not very common for these kids to have outings like these. But that this trip did wonders to not only the kids, but to most of us is like a well known fact.


      With 17 saplings, kids and volunteers :), we set out on our journey to Halenijagal village with Vishwa as our guide :)



      Our journey to the village was marked by Antakshari and loadsa fun!! Manan and Suhas were actually heard churning out Hindi songs and my team took immense pride in ensuring that our opponents, Mubin and Vidya's[staff at Bubbles centre] team landed a "ha" se starting song all the time, much to their dismay and our joy!!

      After over an hour's bus journey, we are treated to a tractor ride!!! Now this is one thing I have always wanted to do in this lifetime :) I guess the pictures speak for themselves:)...hard to tell if the kids were having more fun or if the adults were :)

      Breakfast at the village temple, was marked by the kids having a go at the bell in the temple.

      The walk to the village school had the kids excited, what with cows, buffaloes, sheep and goats lining or sometimes blocking our ways:)

      Independence Day celebrations were ON in the village school and the moment the kids from Bubbles landed there, it was a drumming welcome, followed by the Bubbles kids trying their hands on beating the drums:)

      The games and the craft activities planned were aimed at involving the village school and the kids from Bubbles to achieve a dream called "Integration". Kids love colour, dont they? So, we had Bob and his volunteer team set up a giant canvas for them, with every kid depicting his/her version of village life.

      We made flags, which was distributed at the village school and as true patriots, all of us sang "Sare Jahan se Acha" and "Bharatha Jananiya Thanujathe"!!


      The tyre race and the 3-legged race events which had the Bubbles kids either team up or against the village school children was a treat to watch!!

      It was so heartening to see the Bubbles kids, atleast get to the finish line in the tyre race or the village school children prompting the Bubbles kids to run in the 3-legged race, when paired together!!

      Each volunteer, was paired with a kid from Bubbles. We were totally responsible for the kid and got to plant peepal trees in 17 different locations all over the village :) all thanks to Trees for Free and Vishwa.

      After lunch and a short trek through the village to a lake and a field, the kids were then treated to traditional games like gilli-danda, buguri, golli, etc!!

      Let me tell you this, that all through the trip it was difficult to actually believe that the 17 kids who came, had 17 varying issues...Some, being autistic were extremely social and tried to run after the village kids, imitating everything they did...Some were so happy just running around amidst open fields...I still remember a villager telling me that let him run noo..why are you after him:)


      Its not very easy to work with kids, who have difficulties expressing their problems..but what I gotto c and observe during the trip is that the staff at Bubbles know what problems to anticipate...they know how to work with each one of them and to put them at ease...


      N some1 holding the show together is Sarbani...be it the way she was in control of the situation, planning activities, helping the kids have food, most kids are told ki..."beta ..have food....or else Sarbani will come :)"..n then they quickly finish their food :)She simplifies life so much...that you see kids do amazing stuff and having fun at it :)...She is one committed woman, who is so passionate about ensuring tat the kids at Bubbles learn to lead independent lives!!

      Links to photographs:

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