Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Amazing Google

I got a call about 10 min ago informing me about police firing in Hyderabad. I quickly scanned all the usual news websites and did not find any information. So I decided to do a Google search to see what results it would return and I was truly amazed at what I got.
What is amazing is

  • It had what I was looking for on the first page of the search results
  • It was able to report something that was first posted approximately 45 min before I did the search. (Wed Dec 3 03:03 PM). It managed to mine this information from the page knowing that it would be relevant to me.
  • It even tells me how long before it indexed the page (7 min before I did the search) to show how recent the information is.
It is amazing how they got all this information on the search result to help me determine which is the most appropriate answer to my query. It is just amazing how Google manages to deliver exactly what someone needs over and over again and I totally buy into the notion that search is the new navigation method. So if you think your sites navigation sucks incorporate Google custom search into your site and I am sure you will give your users the experience that they want.

Monday, December 01, 2008

About Piracy

The recent pirate attacks on a lot of ships off the coast of Somalia in the Gulf of Aden has been in the news. This made me wonder if the pirate attacks are something new or is it something that keeps going on but has just made the headlines because of the volume of attacks. I found this website - ICC Commercial Crime Services that has a Live Privacy Map that lists out all the pirate attacks that have been reported in the recent past. Each map point represents a reported pirate attack and you can click on the map point and read a whole report about the pirate attacks.


In the same website the page Piracy prone areas and Warnings gives details of the areas that are to be avoided and it is interesting to note that all the areas happen to be around South East Asia, Indian subcontinent and the African coast. I am not sure if this is because of the sea routes that are taken or the number of developing/underdeveloped countries in these regions.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Understanding the Economic Crisis

Some of the questions that have been haunting me ever since the economic crisis started are
  • What is this so called economic crisis and how it is caused?
  • What is the meaning of all the terminology that they are using such as inflation, credit crunch, etc?
  • How will the economic crisis effect us?
  • How is money created?
  • Are the governments around the world doing the right things?
  • Is there a relation between the oil prices and the current economic crisis?
  • Can the problem be solved and if it can be solved for how long will it go on?
I have been looking around for these answers and came across The Crash Course by Chris Martenson. It is divided into the following chapters and it goes on for a total of a little more than 3 hours.

  • Chapter 1: Three Beliefs (Time: 1:46)
  • Chapter 2: The Three "E"s (Time: 1:38)
  • Chapter 3: Exponential Growth (Time: 6:20)
  • Chapter 4: Compounding is the Problem (Time: 3:06)
  • Chapter 5: Growth vs. Prosperity (Time: 3:40)
  • Chapter 6: What is Money? (Time: 5:55)
  • Chapter 7: Money Creation (Time: 4:19)
  • Chapter 8: The Fed - Money Creation (Time: 7:13)
  • Chapter 9: A Brief History of US Money (Time: 7:14)
  • Chapter 10: Inflation (Time: 11:48)
  • Chapter 11: How Much Is A Trillion? (Time: 3:28)
  • Chapter 12: Debt (Time: 12:32)
  • Chapter 13: A National Failure To Save (Time: 12:06)
  • Chapter 14: Assets & Demographics (Time: 13:41)
  • Chapter 15: Bubbles (Time: 14:10)
  • Chapter 16: Fuzzy Numbers (Time: 15:52)
  • Chapter 17: PART A: Peak Oil (Time: 17:52)
  • Chapter 17: PART B: Energy Budgeting (Time: 12:15)
  • Chapter 17: PART C: Energy And The Economy (Time: 7:05)
  • Chapter 18: Environmental Data (Time: 16:22)
  • Chapter 19: Future Shock (Time: 8:02)
  • Chapter 20: What Should I Do? (Time: 19:48)
It is totally worth going through because he talks in very basic terminology and he explains things right from the basics assuming you know nothing. A lot of it is scary and unimaginable but it makes logical sense. Take the time to go through all the presentations right from the begining as it is in a very logical order and you will not be able to understand the later presentations without going through the ones in the begining.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

What rediff will do for money ?

I came across an article in Rediff about "Deepika's unbelievable stunt!" and I was curious and clicked on it and got to watch the following video which is a combination of 3 images. I apologize for the bad quality of the video.


This video is so fake that I could not believe the editors did not even notice it. If you break up the images that comprise the video it becomes very apparent and I will let the images do the talking.


The text below these images clearly shows no body is reviewing what is being put up or Rediff will just publish anything as long as they get paid.

I took two screen shots - one on Nov 26, 2008 @ 1:05 PM in which there was a link to the above farce and I then took a second screen shot on Nov 26, 2008 @ 2:50 PM and the link was not there. I searched all over for it but no luck it was taken off - but the original link to the post is still there so you can click on top and go see the post.
Can we really trust any of the news sources out there and their opinions?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Why don't you Blog ?

I was reading an interesting post today written by Steve Yegge titled - You Should Write Blogs . In this post Steve talks about the common reasons people give when you ask them why they don't blog
  • Reason #1: I'm too busy.
  • Reason #2: I'm afraid to put my true thoughts on public record.
  • Reason #3: Nobody will read my blog.
  • Reason #4: Blogging is narcissistic.
    narcissistic meaning : [adjective] characteristic of those having an inflated idea of their own importance
And when I ask a lot of very intelligent people around me the same question I get the very same reasons that Steve covered in his blog post. All very valid reasons, but let me give you reasons as to why you should blog.

Project the right information about yourself
In this connected world a lot of information is being put on the internet by a lot of sources. A lot of it is good and a lot more than that is bad. If for some reason someone searched for your information online, you do not want them to find information about you that you have no control over. By blogging you will be able to create a profile of yourself that is completely controlled by you and it will dwarf all the other information that is present out there that is not controlled by you.

Showcase your talents and interests
I always tell software trainees and students that they need to blog. The reason I tell them to do that is because they can showcase their talents to prospective employers in a much better manner through a blog than they can ever do through a resume. If you have a good blog with all the assignments that you have done and with details of how you completed them I am sure it will not be too hard to get a job.

Make it your notebook
Note down everything that you want to refer back to in your blog. That way you do not need to maintain any other notes and the blog makes it very easy for you to search for stuff anytime and anywhere.

Keeping this in mind I hope more and more people start blogging. Blogging is not hard and it does not take time and blog only about the things that you are comfortable with. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Understanding Coffee Drinks

Have you ever walked into a coffee shop and wondered what to order having not been able to understand the different coffee drinks available on the menu? Lokesh Dhakar in this post does an amazing job in explaining the different coffee drinks. Below are the images for the types of coffee drinks that I have seen in the Indian coffee shop menus. Happy coffee drinking.

Americano
[uh-mer-i-kan-oh]
Caffé Latte
[caf-ay lah-tey]
Caffé Mocha
[caf-ay moh-kuh]
Cappuccino
[kapp-oo-chee-noh]
Espresso
[ess-press-oh]

Monday, November 17, 2008

Being Coloured

When I born, I Black.
When I grow up, I Black.
When I go in Sun, I Black.
When I scared, I Black.
And when I die, I still Black.

And you White fellow...
When you born, You Pink.
When you grow up, You White.
When you go in the Sun, You Red.
When you cold, You Blue.
When you are scared, You Yellow.
When you sick, You Green.
And when you die, You Grey.

And you call me Coloured...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Unbiased Google

I came across a very interesting piece of news today that increased my belief in Google to be unbiased. If you search for the term Jew in Google till a while ago there is a sponsored link by Google explaining how their search results work.

The reason Google was forced to do this was because for the search term jew there were anti jewish sites that were coming up as the top most result in their search results. When a lot of high profile people complained about it Google chose to give an explanation of how their search results worked rather than remove the site from the search results.

This is proof that Google is completely unbiased and does not tinker with the results that their search algorithms return. This ensures that the results returned by Google are consistent.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Notes from TiE-ISBConnect - Wrap up

Prof K Ramachandran of ISB gave a wrap up on all that we discussed during the full day session.
  • Eliminate customer dissatisfaction, always.
  • Dynamic business plan.
  • Strategy is easy, execution is tough.
  • Have detached passion.
  • VC money: Be ready to have a bumpy ride.
  • Documentation is huge.
  • Constantly build resources.
  • Resources are behind opportunities.
  • Stretch them.
  • Most critical resource is time.
  • ROTI - return on time invested. Usually a lot more effective than ROI which most people use.
  • Innovativeness is needed everywhere.
  • Working capital is life blood. Working capital should be low.
  • Compress cycle time.
  • People and system key to growth.
  • Share vision, build passion.
  • Develop and maintain networks.
  • Listen to others pick up signals.
Related posts

Friday, November 14, 2008

Notes from TiE-ISBConnect - Amit Kishore Prasad, SatNav Technologies

Amit Kishore Prasad is the founder CEO and MD of SatNav Technologies based in Hyderabad. Amit spoke about Execution - Building a team.
  • Ensure you have bosses that the employees look up to and trust.
  • People need to repose confidence and faith in the entrepreneur.
  • Choose employees that have the willingness to learn and are willing to play multiple roles.
  • Employees who have qualifications/experience and also bring an attitude with it will create a problem. 
  • In an organization it is good to have written communication. It should be clearly outlined what is the carrot and stick when doing tasks.
  • When someone comes with a problem ask them for a solution.
  • Give feedback immediately but not publicly.
  • Weekly action plans work well
  • Retaining people
    - Involve them in the decision making process and keep them in the loop.
    - Defend your team in front of others
  • When going for VC funding be ready to answer tough questions regarding your team such as are they qualified enough, can the deliver, etc.
  • Do not hesitate to fire non-performers.
Related posts

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Notes from TiE-ISBConnect - Sandeep Singhal, Nexus India

Sandeep was Co-Founder and CEO of Medusind Solutions, one of the leading healthcare outsourcing companies in India. Sandeep is also the co-founder and Managing Director of eVentures, a leading Venture Capital firm focused on early stage investments in India since 1999. Sandeep has held senior roles at McKinsey and Company, Digital Equipment and EDA Systems. Click here to read more about Sandeep.

Sandeep spoke about developing differentiation

  • Important to make your product/Service unique
    - This allows you to price better.
    - It is easier to sell.
    - It allows you to figure out where to focus.
    - Helps in prioritizing your resources.
  • Sources of differentiation
    - Technology or patents
    - Processes
    - Business model
    - Marketing
  • How to differentiate?
    - Build the right team.
    - Surround yourself with people brighter than you that will question you.
    - Develop a deep understanding of the target market.
    - Choose the sources of differentiation.
    - Execute flawlessly.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Notes from TiE-ISBConnect - Samir Kumar, Inventus

Samir has been an early stage venture investor in India for the past six years.   Prior to co-founding Inventus, Samir built and led the India venture team for Acer Technology Ventures - a $260 million cross-border venture fund investing in early-stage technology and services companies across India, the U.S. and the Asia Pacific. Samir was an early member of two startups in India, and was part of the early team at Wipro. He helped Wipro grow revenues from ~$4M in 1989 to over $200 million in 1998. Click here to read more about Samir.

Samir spoke about Marketing Strategies for a startup.
  • Think big and execute in small steps
  • It is important to have a good team. Very few VCs will invest in a single individual.
  • Product
    Most important thing the entrepreneur needs to focus on.
    It needs to be thought through very carefully and diligently.
    Think from outside in. Look at it from the view of a customer.
    Important to include customers when conceptualizing the product.
    Understand the competition that has similar products.
  • Price 
    Many startups are afraid to price the product right.
    Do not price the product too low.
    Price higher but give sweet heart deals initially.
  • Placement
    How will the customer buy and pay for the product needs to be thought out?
    Identify your partners and your competitors. Sometimes there is a fine line between them. It may be beneficial at times to partner with a possible competitor in order to penetrate the market.
  • Promotion
    It is not always necessary to spend a great deal of money on media. Many popular brands such as orkut, facebook, gmail have done it without big advertising budgets.
  • Positioning
    Understand how the product will be positioned in the customers mind.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Notes from TiE-ISBConnect - Shantanu Surpure, Sand Hill Counsel

Shantanu Surpure is Managing Attorney at Sand Hill Counsel, a law firm with offices in Mumbai and Silicon Valley. He focuses on venture capital and private equity transactions. Shantanu holds a BA from Brown University/London School of Economics, an MA Juris from Oxford University and a Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School and is admitted to practice law in India, California, New York and England and Wales.

Shantanu spoke about Negotiating with VCs.

  • Be organized and document everything properly.
  • Hire a lawyer when negotiating with a VC because they will have one of their own.
  • VC's will do a valuation and will ask for anything between 25% to 40% of the company in the form of preference shares.
  • When the VCs have an interest in investing they will give you something called a term sheet which will have all the terms and conditions.
  • VCs usually look at a 3-5 year investment horizon.
  • In the term sheet there will be anti dilution terms which means that if the valuation of the company falls they might want more stock.
  • VC's will want one or more people on the company's board and this has to be negotiated.
  • They will want to have rights to veto certain decisions made by the company.
  • They will have clauses on any mergers and acquisitions that the company may plan to make in the future and also the hiring and firing of the CEO.
  • There will be terms on drag along and tag along which is related to what will happen if either the VC or the entrepreneur quits the organization.
  • There can be no shop clauses which means that you cannot talk to other VCs.
Related posts

Monday, November 10, 2008

Notes from TiE-ISBConnect - DD Ganguly, DimDim

DD Ganguly is co-founder and CEO of Dimdim, Inc. Previously, as Vice President of Product Development at CA (NYSE:CA; $ 3.5B) he built and led an organization of 1000+ members. He joined CA in 2001 upon its acquisition of Boston based AIM, Inc. where he was founder and CEO. Click here to read more about him.

DD Ganguly spoke about his Fund Raising Experience for DimDim which is a free web conferencing service where you can share your desktop, show slides, collaborate, chat, talk and broadcast via webcam with absolutely no download required for attendees.
Funding
  • When looking for funding look for people that like you and what you are doing. Angel investors invest in your business because the align with how you think and what you do.
  • Try and get journalists and bloggers to write about your product/service. This will help in popularizing and showcasing your product to potential VC's.
  • You need to click with the VC for them to invest.
Choosing a name
  • The .com webaddress should be available
  • There should be a repetition in the name
  • Easy to spell from the sound and the sound should be easily derived from the spelling.
  • Globally recognized as DimDim was going to be a global brand.
  • Easy to pronounce
Related posts 

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Notes from TiE-ISBConnect - Prof K Ramachandran, ISB

Professor K Ramachandran is the Associate Dean of Academic Programmes at the Indian School of Business. He has been a professor of entrepreneurship, family business, and strategy at the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad since its inception in 2001. He is also the Thomas Schmidheiny Fellow of Family Business and Wealth Management at the ISB.

Professor Ramachandran spoke about Entrepreneurial opportunities and Organization Building - A Road Map. He spoke about identifying the type of opportunity, the graph of time against turnover for a startup and elements of a business plan.

Opportunities are identified through a pent up need or customer dissatisfaction in the existing offerings. By mapping the pent up need (Discontentment) on one axis and Criticality (dissatisfaction) on the other different kinds of opportunites can be identified.
Any organization needs to balance Financial Needs, Technology Needs, Marketing Needs and Entrepreneurial Capability. If an entrepreneur can manage the four of these then his organization will be a shining diamond.
By mapping the turnover of the organization over time one can get the graph as shown below
The key to being successful is to reduce the time from the organization is started till it starts to show a profit and many successful organizations reduce this time to be very short. This curve is never smooth and there are bumps as the organization grows especially when work is delegated and decisions are decentralized.

Business plans force dicipline and it is always good to write a business plan oneself and this task should not be delegated. One needs to keep revisiting and updating their business plan. Need to make a 3-5 year business plan. Don't underestimate working capital and it is important to keep working capital low.

Elements of a Business Plan
  1. Executive Summary - Clean, Completing and Concise
  2. Product or Service Description - Explain how it will continously provide value
  3. Management Team - Capability and Company Description. It is important to have a good advisory team. A good board of advisors help in attracting customers and investment.
  4. Market and Competition - Clear understanding of customer needs should be showcased. Good to talk about future competition too.

    FeatureCompetitor 1Competitor 2...You
    Feature********
  5. Marketing and Sales
  6. Technology and Operations
  7. Implementation Schedule
  8. Managing Risks
  9. Financial Planning
  10. Exit and Growth
Related posts

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Notes from TiE-ISBConnect - Sateesh Andra, DFJ

Sateesh Andra is a Venture Partner with DFJ India. Sateesh started his Silicon Valley career in the early nineties and has extensive background in general management, marketing, product strategy, and technology development.

Prior to DFJ, Sateesh was the fo founder and CEO of Euclid Software, a leader in the IT Governance space. He has also served in product marketing and engineering leadership roles at Tsqware (Conexant), LSI Logic, VLSI Technology (Philips), and Wipro. You can read more about Sateesh here.

Sateesh spoke about the Spirit of Entrepreneurship - My Journey. Here are my notes from that session.
  1. Have passion in your idea for a period of time.
  2. Dream big.
  3. Study your idea.
    • Understand the stated value proposition vs the implemented value proposition of your idea. 
    • Is your idea a pain killer or a vitamin. In times of hardship people stop using vitamins but the do not stop using pain killers
  4. Raise money from the right people. Do not just take money from any source that offers it to you.
  5. Perform market research
  6. Start local and analyse the market before going into other geographic regions
  7. It is not a bad idea to bootstrap an idea initially. It helps one get clarity and will be in a better position to negotiate with VCs later.
  8. Look at different ways of doing sales such as direct sales, partner sales and tele sales.
  9. If a fast growing market place you will need money to grow fast. For example the current online travel market.
  10. Look for strategic partners and customers who will fund the business initially.
  11. When rolling out the product or service one needs to understand the customer requirement and how the customer is approached.
  12. Ensuring that internal capabilities can meet customer requirements when performing rollouts is important.
  13. It is good to have beta customers as it helps to be in touch with the customer when developing the product/service.
  14. Reason for investing in mginger was the team behind the idea, the market opportunity that exists in that space and the number of customers that they had already. Their cost of acquiring every new customer was very low.
  15. VC's look for documentation and precesses before investing in a company.
Related posts

Friday, November 07, 2008

Notes from Tie-ISBConnect - Sashi Reddi, Applabs

Sashi Reddi is the CEO of Applabs which he founded in the year 1998 and today Applabs is the world's largest independent software testing company. Click here to read more about Sashi Reddi.

Sashi Reddi spoke about the Spirit of Entrepreneurship - My Journey. Here are my notes from that session.

  1. Being a part time entrepreneur does not work. If you want to be an entrepreneur then you must be full time into it.
  2. There is no right time to start. The right time is when you are passionate about your idea.
  3. Jump in and then refine your plan. Jump in and sort the problems. There is no perfect business plan and if you wait for the perfect business plan then your venture will never get off the ground.
  4. Be an entrepreneur to make money. Do not start a venture where it is not clear how you will make money.
  5. Take a shot in a fast growing big market. The reason is because it is easier to capture the market when there are more customers.
  6. When starting think small on how to make money with few customers and then think big with Venture Capital funding.
  7. Be rich, have rich friends or marry someone rich. It is very hard to raise money initially when you are starting off as an entrepreneur. The first funds are very difficult since professional investors won’t look at you.
  8. Meeting and making your first customer happy is important.
  9. Entrepreneur is not a team effort, at the end, the entrepreneur is to make it happen. He should provide the vision and direction.
  10. As the CEO of a startup be ready to be the sales guy.
  11. Don’t get caught up into what is sexy. Look at what will make money. Do not do something that sounds exciting or wonderful to do but has no way of making money. He gave the example of Applabs which was not into software development but was into testing which is the least sexiest thing to do in software services but someone had to do it and there was a lot of money out there to be made.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

TiE-ISB Connect conference

I am going for the TiE-ISB Connect conference to be held here in Hyderabad from the 5th to the 7th of this month.

Quoting from the website this is what it is all about

"India’s most exciting annual networking event for entrepreneurs and investors, the TiE-ISB Connect '08 will be held on November 5th, 6th and 7th, 2008 at the ISB campus in Hyderabad. Organized by the TiE, Hyderabad Chapter and the Wadhwani Centre for Entrepreneurship Development (WCED), ISB, TiE-ISB Connect enables interaction of aspiring entrepreneurs, early-stage ventures, and growth-stage ventures with potential investors, successful entrepreneurs and mentors. "

The conference is of two parts - one is the Jumpstart event that is a day long learning event. It is a day meant for young entrepreneurs to get a head start. The day is broken up into several workshop type sessions with each topic focussing on a specific area of entrepreneurial learning. From this session I am hoping to learn how to convert some of my ideas detailed on this page Coceptualize, Build, Market, Sell and also a few others that I am currently working on into something that will actually make some money.

The remaining two days do not sound very exciting in terms of content that is related to my line of work but I am hoping to make some contacts and also to try and understand what are the needs of the industry. I will try and give a daily synopsis about my experiences and my thoughts so keep checking back for details or subscribe to my RSS feed.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Office Snapshots

If you ever wanted to know what offices look like around the world, visit Office Snapshots which gives you a peek into some of these offices. Its a nice site that gives you an idea of the diverse range of offices that exist out there from the "kewl" offices of Ogilvy to the drab offices of craigslist.org . Then there are the usual ones like Yahoo, Microsoft and Google that we all know about. Anyway take a look and let me know what you think is the kewlest office out there.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Beware of net4.in

For those of you new to websites - there are two parts to any website going live one is to buy a domain name (i.e. Domain Registration) and the other is to host the website content (i.e. Hosting Services) and this can be done with the same service provider or two different service providers. If you host the content on one service provider and buy the domain name from a different service provider then you have to go and tell the Domain registrar (the service provider you bought the website name from) the server address of where your website is hosted (you can get this from the hosting provider) and this is called changing of the name servers.

Net4.in is a service provider in India that provides all these services and many more and I have been developing some websites for a client that had registered their domains with net4.in. About a couple of days ago the client realised that his site was down and was not able to understand why it had suddenly stopped working so he checked on the net4.in website and he realised that the registration had expired earlier this month but when he checked on the internet using a whois search the site was still registered in his name. So he tried to contact net4.in to renew the website, they asked him to pay a premium of Rs.10,000 on the website if he wants to buy it. So if the client wants the website address he has to now pay Rs. 10,599 and not just Rs. 499. This is in the so called grace period of 7-15 days that they have in case you forget to renew the registration and this fact is not mentioned anywhere in their FAQ.

They claim that after the grace period they will release the domain name to the public to buy it again but going by my experience with them I am sure they will get a subsidiary to buy the domain name and charge you a great deal of money to buy it again. A domain name is like your brand name and you are completely lost if you don't have it and these guys are using that fact to make more money. If you do not trademark the name there is pretty much nothing you can do on the legal side to try and get the name of the domain.

This is downright cheating as most websites now do an auto renewal and also remind you a million times that your domain name is expiring. I have registered domains with domaing8.com (.com domains), one.com (.in domains), 1and1.com (.com domains), indiatimes.com (.in domains) and I have never ever faced an issue with anyone of them.

Some of the other issues with net4.in that I have encountered are
  1. Their support is just pathetic. If you call up their helpdesk numbers you are put on hold and then suddenly the line gets cut informing you that the mail box is full. You have to call multiple times to get thru to them.
  2. After you get thru to them the person answering the phone cannot really help you as they are not technical staff so all they ask you to do is raise a service request and they will answer it in 4 hours.
  3. I raised a service request and it was not handled for close to 1 day and that too after giving them calls every 4 hours.
  4. Their online support on their website is offline all the time. I am not sure why they even have it there.
  5. They completely ignored what I had written in my service request and sure enough the problem was never solved. The service request was that changing the name servers on their site did not work as it was always getting reset back to the net4.in nameservers but they didn't read the issue properly and they tried changing it themselves and without monitoring if it was getting reset they closed the request and sure enough the nameservers got reset to their own name servers and my site still does not work.
I hope anyone wanting to buy a domain name or space to host their website stays far away from this service provider as the basic issues that they have will not make it a pleasant experience. There are a lot of better service providers out there and many of them are a lot cheaper than net4.in.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Understanding technology made easy

The Common Craft site explains a lot of things that people want to know about new technology by using plain English in very easy to follow videos.

Some of the videos that I liked and I think are a must watch are

Video: Web Search Strategies in Plain English  - Explains beautifully how search engines work and how you can improve your ability to find things. If you are running a website it also tells you how you can improve the chances of your website appearing on top of the heap of search results.

Video: Twitter in Plain English - If the twitter bug has not bitten you yet. Then this may get you to start sending tweets. Happy twittering after watching this.

Video: Blogs in Plain English - If you are unable to understand how I am able to publish all this content for you to read then this is the video to watch.

Video: Social Networking in Plain English - Gives you a very easy understanding of the future of meeting people and making new friends.

Video: Social Bookmarking in Plain English - If you have ever wondered how you can tell all your friends about something nice that you have read online then this is the video for you.

Video: RSS in Plain English - Are you visiting my website everyday to check for updates and leaving disappointed. Then this is the video for you that shows you how you can keep up with all your reading online.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Before moving to DTH enquire about after sales

For all those that are thinking of moving from regular cable to DTH be sure to ask about the after sales service and how much they charge for it. I bought the Tata Sky DTH service about two years ago and it worked without  any issues till now. With the rains and the wear and tear on the dish the wire connecting to the dish came lose and I was getting a problem with the reception. Not understanding what the problem is I called up the Tata Sky help desk and they asked me to do a bunch of things with the set top box that did not help. The problem was still there, all it would say was "Unable to receive signal".

So I asked them to send a technician over to take a look and the first thing they told me was that it would cost me Rs. 350 for the technician to just visit my place even if he did not do anything. This I think is ridiculous for equipment that has external wiring and is bound to go through wear and tear. Some examples of similar equipment is the internet connection, telephone or even cable TV. They do not charge us (Thank God) for each time there is an issue which is mostly with the wiring.

I do not know what are the charges for the other DTH operators. So if you'll have any other DTH service other than Tata Sky do let us know what they charge so that others can make an informed choice. And in case anyone from Tata Sky reads this post I fixed the wire on the dish but each time it gets cloudy I get the "Unable to receive signal" problem.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Google's new browser - Chrome

I downloaded and started using Google's new browser, Chrome since today morning and so far it has been an enjoyable experience. Let me tell you what I like about it so far

  • It is very neat in its usage of space by reusing the title bar to show the tabs, reusing the address bar to do searches too. The uncluttered feel of the browser with sleek buttons is very refreshing.
  • The pages seem to load a lot faster - I have not done any real tests but at least that is the perception. May be it is because they give you a status of what is happening and that is the reason you feel the pages are loading a lot quicker.
  • The fact that each tab is its own process and there is a task manager that you can use to kill a process/tab without effecting the other tabs is something that is long needed. After the experience of IE crashing all the open browsers if you kill one of them in the windows task manager this is like a god send.
  • The browser used very little memory and you can see clearly which pages were using the memory. I opened the same pages in both IE and Chrome and noticed that Chrome was using at least half the memory that IE was using.
  • All my web pages worked with absolutely no rework in Chrome. This is refreshing after having to fix web pages in almost every browser release till now.
Everyone is talking about how Chrome is going to be an IE killer. But I think it will initially be a Firefox killer and there after be an IE/Safari killer. But I am sure of one thing - it will become the dominant browser very soon for all the reasons I stated above. IE and Safari come with their operating systems and people who use them will find very little reason to move because IE and Safari are quite good in their own way. It is the people who try out Firefox that will first move to Chrome. There may not be many that will move initially since Firefox has a rich collection of add-ins that make the browser awesome to use. So till the add-ins for Chrome get developed Firefox will survive.

So try out Google Chorme - it is easy to install and does not spoil any of your existing settings. To try out and read more about Google Chrome visit their website www.google.com/chrome.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

An insiders view of the olympics

The Olympics is over and I guess the dust is slowly settling on the euphoria surrounding the so called stupendous show India put on this time (1 to 3 medals is a 200% improvement).

I just found out that IBM gave Ideapad laptops and video cameras to some of the athletes and got them to cover the Olympics with pictures, blogs, tweets, etc. IBM them aggregated all of those entries in a website called Voices of the Olympic Games. Be sure to visit it and get an insiders view of the olympics.

Abhinav Bindra is one of the atheletes who is part of this initiative and you can read his blog by visiting http://abhinavbindra.blogspot.com.

Rajyavardhan Rathore is the other Indian athelete who is part of this program http://chillyrathore.blogspot.com/.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Getting booked for Traffic Offenses

In the recent past I have got booked for traffic offenses 3 different times in 3 different ways. I am not sure if the police have got smarter and stricter or have I been breaking the law a bit too frequently of late. Anyway what I found interesting is the different ways that you can get booked now which is what I want to talk to you about in this post.

Method 1 - Caught in the act

This is the traditional method. I jumped a traffic light and landed straight into the waiting sub inspector on the other side of the traffic signal.My bike key got confiscated till I paid up my Rs. 100 and I drove away. Well this is the time tested way where you get caught red handed and you have nothing to say to bail yourself out.

Method 2 - Notice is mailed to your house

I was surprised a couple of days ago when I opened my mail box at home and I find this inland letter from the traffic police claiming that I was in a no parking zone on April 6th and that I can go online to http://www.esevaonline.com and can pay up my fine. So I go there and key in the details and voila all my details come up successfully. What worries me about this form of ticketing people is that there is no proof that I was in that area on that day and I was parked illegally. So I wonder how valid is this in a court of law. Being a website that I normally use to pay my electricity and telephone bills I promptly paid up as I did not want any trouble.

Method 3 - Notice is served at home
Last year a person in plain clothes visited my home and presented me a letter stating that I had a traffic violation and that he came to collect the fine. First of all the letter was hand written and the registration of the car that supposedly commited the offense was not mine and also the address was not complete. All it had was my name that was correct. So not trusting the person at my door step I told them that I would go to the traffic control room and pay the fine and the person went away. When I went downstairs and enquired with the watch man he told me that they wrote the letter out in the building. I checked online and I could not find any information about this challan number online. I immediately smelt a rat here and I was sure that this was some big scam in the making.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Shortage of power ? Here is a solution.

With all the scheduled power outages that we are having in Hyderabad for close to four hours a day and the central government fighting for its survival over getting nuclear fuel to meet our future energy needs here is a club in London that is generating electricity out of a bouncing dance floor. Read the explanation below about how they are generating the electricity.


You can read more about this at Dancefloor generates electricity at London’s first eco-disco!

It's interesting how once upon a time all these innovative ways to generate electricity would have just been just too expensive but with the cost of traditional ways of generating electricity going up such innovative ways are not only becoming a style statement but they are becoming affordable to implement.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Is eating out too expensive ?

You hear a lot of it in the news that food prices are rising and that people are not able to afford to eat out any more.
Today we paid a visit to Paradise Restaurant in Hyderabad and ordered take away (Read my earlier post Food in Hyderabad about why you should do take-away and not eat at Paradise) and here is what we got for a gift pack that costed us Rs. 220.
  • 1 Chicken Biryani
  • 1 Mutton Biryani
  • 6 pieces of kebabs
  • 1 Butter Chicken
  • 2 Romali Rotis
We usually eat Biryani from Hyderabad House and all of the items mentioned above would have costed us nothing less that Rs. 500.
A few days ago we ate in Chutneys and for just 1 palak paneer, 4 rotis, 1 soup and 1 plate of idli the bill came up to Rs. 450. Chutneys used to not be this expensive - its only of late that they have really increased their prices. And on the other hand the small idly-dosa tiffin joints that you see all over Hyderabad have pretty much kept their prices stable.

Another kind of restaurant that most people eat from is what they call a "mess" in Hyderabad. They serve a "meal" in these messes that consist of portions of fried vegetable, curry vegetable, sambar, rassam, pickle, chutney, curd and rice. Three years ago this used to cost Rs. 30 and now this costs Rs. 60. I think this is an indication that yes prices have gone up but they have doubled in the last 3 years but they have certainly not gone through the roof as eating in some restaurants may suggest.

Prices have gone up and there is no denying that but if you pick and choose the restaurants that you eat in you can still have a great meal without burning a hole in your pocket.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Why would anyone need a camera like this ?

I came across this article on Engadget that talks of a 50 Megapixel camera from Hasselblad that costs something in the region of 37 K USD (Pricing is not yet released). Which got me thinking about why would anyone need such a high resolution camera when a 4 Megapixel camera can print a hoarding that is 12 feet X 9 feet. (Source : The Megapixel Myth).

Anyone that is planning to buy a digital camera or thinking to upgrade one that they already have should read the megapixel myth.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Firefox 3.0 officially sets the world record

Firefox 3.0 has set the Guinness world record for the largest number of downloads in a 24 hour period. And for the record I was part of it :-).



To get your own certificate visit http://www.spreadfirefox.com/en-US/worldrecord/certificate_form.

What I find weird is that all you have to do is go and give your name and you get a certificate. So even if you did not download it, you can get a certificate stating that you did. Not good :-(. If they were planning to give these certificates I am sure they could have put some thought into only giving it to people who genuinely did download the browser and thus giving some amount of credibility to the certificate.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Open ID - What, Where, How, Advantages, Safe ?

I am sure a lot of you must be reading about Open ID and are wondering what it is and how is it useful. I did not care much about it till I read that blogspot was supporting Open ID and so I got curious.

What is Open ID ?

Let me give you my understanding of Open ID. Everyone has a profile page on yahoo, AOL, Flickr and so on or a blog or a website. All these are represented by a unique URL that will give a user more information about ther real you (unless you only exist on that profile in cyberspace). The idea of open id is that instead of using a userid and password everywhere to identify yourself and setting up your profile each time you can use this URL to identify yourself and that way if anyone wants to know more about you they can visit the URL. When you use the open ID if you are logged into your site then there is no authentication required but if you are not logged in then it takes you to the webpage to be authenticated.

To get a geek view of what open ID is you can go to http://openid.net/what/ and read up more on the subject.

Where can you use open ID ?

Let us say you are signing up for something and you already have an open ID and the site you are signing up on supports open ID then you can use your open ID and sign up instead of creating a new user id and password.

If you are commenting/replying to something on a site that requires authentication and that site supports open ID then you can use your open ID.

What is the advantage of open ID ?

The main use of Open ID is that you do not need to maintain multiple profiles and multiple userids and passwords. But the main advantage that I see is that you start to get an identity on the web that is unique. This identity can be in the form of a yahoo profile, flickr photographs or a blogger/wordpress blog and this identity uniquely identifies you. You do not need to provide all your details each and every time.

How safe or secure is this open ID ?

Open ID is created and maintained by a foundation. Third party providers actually provide the service. So you are not tied into any one provider. So it is secure. All the big players are starting to adopt open ID since it is really easy to use.

How do I get an Open ID?

I have made my blog as my open id and I now use it everywhere to uniquely identify myself. On blogger all you have to do is go to your settings and there is a new section called Open ID. You can set it up there.

To get a list of other open ID providers visit http://openid.net/get/.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Update on Reliance Wimax

Of late I have seen a lot of third party providers of Reliance Wimax connections in Hyderabad posting their phone number on my blog entry Going WiMax. The wimax connection really did not work out for me for the following reasons
  1. It just took a lot of time to get a connection each time I wanted one. It would sit for ages in trying to acquire network address.
  2. The speed was decent but nothing like the 2 mbps link that Airtel currently gives me.
  3. It was not really reliable. It would get cut of for no reason what-so-ever.
On the whole my experience has not been good at all with the wi-max connection and had it disconnected. I now use Airtel which is completely underground in my area and the service that they offer is quite exceptional. Speed is good and I have not experienced any downtime in the last 1 month that I have been using it.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Firefox 3 and ScribeFire

Its been a while since I blogged having not got the time and the inspiration for something different to write about. Yesterday wanting to be part of the world record for the largest number of downloads in a single day I downloaded and installed Firefox 3 and then I heard so much about ScribeFire and so I decided to download and install that add-in for Firefox.

From what I have experienced so far with ScribeFire it is quite wonderful. The biggest advantage of it is that it sits directly in your firefox browser and so when ever you feel like blogging you just press F8 and it displays a nice rich text area to write your thoughts in and click on the publish button and you are done. You do not need to log into your blogger account or you don't need to open another application just to say something. Since it makes it easy to blog you just feel like blogging when ever you get a thought. It has a ton of other features that I have not yet explored.

For all those that use Firefox go ahead and try the add-on I am sure it will help you blog more.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Why taxpayers are better off with a fuel price hike ?

There is a lot being said about the fuel price hike, so here are my views on it. If you are a tax paying citizen of India (a very few in this country which at the moment is less than 10% of the population) you are better off with the fuel increase. 

With the prices of crude going up around the world the cost of buying crude for the oil companies is going up. If the costs of the inputs go up the cost of the output too is bound to go up. With the government controlling the price of gasoline this increase in output is not being transferred to the consumer. This increase is being borne by the government that gets its money from the tax payers. Hence it is our tax money that is going into subsidizing the cost of gasoline in this country.

So if you are a tax paying person you are paying for the subsidy on the fuel that the citizens who are not paying tax are using (almost 90%). So if you are paying your taxes then you are better off with the prices going up. 

The government should stop all subsidies on fuel and use the huge amount of money that it will save from this in improving the public transport infrastructure in our cities and also the infrastructure such as roads and railways so that we do not have to depend on individual transport. It should spend all this money in making CNG available which we have in abundance in the Krishna-Godavari basin in abundance available to all public transport such as busses and autos. This will reduce our dependence on crude oil and will also make our cities cleaner. Its time we took up some of these measures on a war footing.

This is a personal view and I would love to hear your take on this hot topic. 

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Using video screen capture in testing

We had a very interesting issue in a project where the client was reporting an error in a screen that had hundreds of input fields but the client was not able to give us reproducible steps for the error. All that the client said was that the error was coming when a certain subset of values were selected in the input fields and the subset did not remain the same each time. In this case without reproducible steps it was virtually impossible to solve the problem.

After a bit of thought, what we decided to do was to use Snagit video screen capture and record the screens of a group of developers using the screen causing the error extensively. Once we had this video we played it back and identified the points where the error was occurring and we could then rewind and take a snapshot of the screen just before the error occurred and also write down the steps that led to the data that caused the error. With this information we were able to identify a pattern that was causing the error and solved the problem easily.

Interesting problems always makes you think out of the box. If you have some experiences similar to these please leave them in the comments section.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Voting

We had by-elections in our constituency and having got my voter identity card only a month ago I decided to go and cast my vote. My wife did not get her voter identity card (not sure why) so we decided to check if the voters list was online and if we could find any information. So a quick google search led us to http://ceo.ap.gov.in/.

Having filled in all the fields marked with * we were easily able to find her name in the list. We then wrote down the Part No and the Serial No in list and went to the polling booth and we were able to get the voting slip with absolutely no issues. We then proceeded to the voting booth and cast our vote. Its very interesting to see how simple and wonderful the whole electronic voting system is and how efficiently and accurately it works.

Technology can vary from being very complex and doing thousands of things to it being simple but being limited in its capability. The adoption of technology is possible if it meets a set of desired goals while allowing it to be simple and usable. The electronic voting machines that are used are limited in their ability but the goals of it have been chosen so wonderfully that it is usable and hence it is being adopted so easily and effectively.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Defect Fixing : Biggest Project Risk

I was working on some estimates for a project by first estimating the size of the project and then estimating the effort by looking at some historical data on similar sized applications done in the past. What we realised that in all our projects we were pretty much on track with the estimated efforts until we reached the validation testing phase. In this phase we realised that we were spending anywhere between the initial estimated effort and three times the initial estimated effort.

I then tried to analyse why we had such a vast variation in the estimates for this phase and I found that the prime reason for this is because there are defects slipping through all the other phases into the testing phase and thus skewing the entire estimate. If there is no control on the other phases of the project then this phase is pretty much a mess and usually it is so late in the project that it is very hard to recover from the mistakes made in the other phases.

So if you see the project team can never be lax in any of the phases as all the inaccuracies crop up and bite you in the testing phase and sometimes fixing issues so late in the project may not be possible and hence the team starts working on workarounds thus messing up the project even further. So right from requirements right up to the project is handed over to the testing team to be tested the project team should employ methods such as reviews and code walk through along with Proof of Concepts to ensure that everything that is being developed is validated so that issues do not crop up later on.

We tried to employ this in one project but there were a lot of uneasiness early in the project as there was no visible progress being made as concepts were being validated with Proof of Concepts and design documents being written and reviewed. But what we realised was that with detailed documentation the coding phase was hardly anything and the testing phase was even shorter and the end result was code that one could really be proud of as it had no workarounds and it worked exactly as desired. The best part of this was we delivered ahead of schedule as we could multitask and plan a lot better with detailed designs.

Hence short cuts taken early in the project end up creating the biggest risk of the project and that risk is an inestimable number of defects late in the project. Another problem due to this risk is that you will not be able to give a definite delivery date to business because you don't know the defects that will arise and the complexity or severity of the defects and this is something business hates. So to save yourself this risk employ quality assurance/quality control activities in every phase of the software development lifecycle.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Microsoft advertising on Google Ads

I was browsing a website today and it was interesting to see a Microsoft Ad come on Google Ads. Amidst all the battles that are being fought, it does look like Microsoft does needs Google's extensive ad network to popularize their products.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Trip to Puri, Orissa : Konark Temple

The trip from the resort to Konark was along a very scenic tree lined road along the beach. There are quite a few places from which you can see the sea along the route and I wish I was on a motorcycle on this road as the road does not have any traffic and it also very smooth with no potholes.

In Konark it is about a kilometer from where you have to get down to where the temple is located. Since it was quite hot we felt every step of this walk. The temple itself is quite well maintained but unless you are really interested in looking at stone carvings there is really not much to see other than the fact that you visited the place.

The beach itself is quite small and not very clean. You cannot go for a dip in the waters as it is not safe. So in just about 5 minutes we were bored and ready to head back. On the way back there is a picnic spot that seemed quite nice. You have to cross a river to get to a beach but I am not sure if you could get into the water here as there was no body on the beach as it was too hot.

Do not buy anything from the shops that line the street to the temple. We bought cashew nuts from there at a very cheap Rs. 100 per kilo but only the outside of the packet had nice big full cashew nuts and the inside was just pure waste which we had to throw out. You get lots of bead chains and trinkets but I would not advise anyone to buy anything from these shops.

On the whole the trip to Konark was not all that great as I am really not into history or stone carving but for those that are it is a very nice place to visit.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Unlocking password protected Excel files

Ever got into any of the following situations
  • You have password protected an Excel file and have subsequently forgotten the password
  • Got an excel file that is password protected and you want to access the contents of the file
Today I was in the first situation and after a bit of googling I came across the following application Excel Password Remover 2008 which is an add-in to excel.

It's very simple to use this tool
  • Download the add-in password.xla and save it at any location on your hard disk.
  • Load the add-in into excel by going to the following menu option Tools -> Add-Ins. Click on Browse in the window that pop-ups and find the password.xla file that is saved on your hard disk. It will then appear in the add-ins Available list. Make sure the checkbox next to the name of the add-in is checked before you click on ok. Once you click on OK you should get two new menu items in the tools menu Unprotect sheet and Unprotect workbook.
  • Open the file that you want to unprotect (note that you cannot use this tool to open excel files that are password protected to even open them. There are other suggested tools on the website but I have not tried them out). Click on Tools -> Unprotect Sheet and after a few seconds you will get a message that the sheet is unprotected.
  • Once you have unprotected all the sheets save the file to your hard disk and all the password protection would have been removed.
There is a negative side and positive side to such a tool
  • Password protecting excel worksheets is really not helpful as you can easily break the password.
  • You don't have to worry if you forget the password as there are tools such as this that can break it. The worry was there as Microsoft never gave a method of recovering the password if it was forgotten. I think password protection is a half baked solution they implemented in Excel.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Answering skribit entries - 1

Dear readers, Thank you for posting questions that you would like to ask me. I will try and answer them as and when there are 2 or more questions. Please continue using the skribit widget to interact with me and I would love to hear from you.

What is your most challenging aspect of blogging ?
My most challenging aspect of blogging is trying to find content that would engage my readers and that I enjoy writing about. Informational articles tend to do very well and are always among the top 10 articles on my blog. But it is not always easy to write informational articles as there is only so much information that you can give that is not already there online. I usually try writing informational articles from what happens in my real life that I think others can benefit from but then it is not everyday that I do something new and exciting to write about. So that's where my challenge lies in generating blog content. The upside to this is that it forces me to do new things in life so that I can write about it.

Do Social Bookmarking buttons bring more traffic to your site?
My personal experience is that they don't help. I am planning to take them off and just experiment with one button such as either digg or stumble it and also concentrate on only one social book marking site.

Also this article by Pro Blogger (http://www.problogger.net/archives/2008/05/02/my-top-10-traffic-sources/gives) gives you an interesting insight that even a popular site like pro blogger gets less than 5% of his traffic from social networking sites. In my case it has been close to 0%. So other than occupying space on your blog and making your web page heavier it does not give you any tangible benefits.

Friday, May 02, 2008

New Skribit widget on my blog

I have added a new skribit widget to my blog on the right sidebar. The reason I have added this widget is so that I can hear about any of your queries/ideas that you have when you read an article. Please feel free to post your ideas and suggestions.

It is very easy to use this widget, in order to post a query/idea just click on "What should I write about" and it will give you a small text field to post your query/idea and you are done. If you see someone else's comment already covering the query/idea you want to put then you can vote on it to show that there are multiple people interested in the same query/idea.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Trip to Puri, Orissa : Boat Ride

About 5 min from the resort by bus is a barrage on the Nuanai River. On one side of this barrage is fresh water and on the other side that joins into the sea is salt water. The resort arranged for a boat ride from the barrage till the point the river meets the sea. The cost of the boat ride is Rs. 100 per head. The ride from the barrage to the sea is about 45 min either way and you reach a very nice stretch of beach. We were told that it is not safe to swim here as the sand is not stable where the river meets the sea. When you go on this boat ride you go past some fishing villages and you can see fisherman casting their nets in the water and showing off their catch. The river itself is tree lined and quite beautiful.

We also saw some skeletons of Olive Ridley turtles that come here to hatch their young. We were also lucky to see a jelly fish that got washed ashore. There are also tons of shells to collect from the sea shore. This boat ride surely was one of the highlights of my trip to Puri and I think it is a must do for anyone visiting this area.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Trip to Puri, Orissa : Toshali Sands

On this trip I stayed in a resort called Toshali Sands. This resort is about 65 KM from Bhubaneshwar city and it takes about an hour and a half by car to reach the resort from Bhubaneshwar airport. The road is very good and it is quite a smooth ride. You can call up the resort and arrange for a car pick up from the airport which we did and it cost us Rs. 1200. In front of the resort is the Baiukhanda Reserve Forest which is basically a cashew plantation owned by the government and were told that there were mainly deer in it but we did not get to see any. If you drive through the forest then you reach the Balighai beach.

Although the resort claims to be of 4 star quality it is not really of the same quality of other 4 star properties although it might have similar amenities as a 4 star property may have. It is comfortable and decently clean. The food is very homily and do not expect too much of exotic food. The room that we stayed in also had a small kitchen with a single burner stove and basic utensils. It also had a small fridge that worked very well.

The resort has a swimming pool which is nice. Since it is outdoors and there is no shade to cover it, it gets quite hot in the pool so make sure you carry enough sun screen lotion that is strong enough (SPF 40 is what we used). The only problem we had was the sun screen lotion that we carried was water soluble so it tended to wash off after a bit of swimming. Not sure where you get non water soluble sun screen lotion.

In order to go to the beach the resort arranges for pick up and drop using a quaint old jeep that they have which reminded me of driving around tea estates. The reception arranges for the pick up and drop to the beach and although they tell you that they need 1 hour notice every time we went and asked them we got the drop almost immediately. It is about 5 min by jeep to the beach which is pretty much your own to have fun on. The resort provides a life guard and umbrellas, mats and towels on the beach so just carry your swim trunks and sun screen lotion and you are all set. The beach is not all that great during high tide as it is quite rough but it was amazing during low tide - so find out when is the low tide and schedule all your beach trips during that time. The lifeguard is a fun guy and he showed me how to catch crabs on the beach which was quite amazing.

The resort has tons of greenery and lots of ducks, hens and geese. My daughter used to just love playing with them all day long. Other sports activities at the resort include table tennis, tennis, badminton and a gym. There is also a pool table. You can also hire cycles to go around and see all the places close by to the resort that include rivers, back waters and a stone carving village. They also had an Ayurveda center in the resort that I did not try out.

You get pretty much everything that you need in the resort or in the shops just outside the resort so there is no reason to leave the resort. You can take a bus to visit Puri town and the resort charges you Rs. 30 per head. The drive to Puri town is about 2o min by the small bus that they have. So we took the bus one day to Puri town to get all the supplies that we needed that we did not get in the resort. The resort also provides the services of a pujari when you visit the Puri temple.

One day the resort organized some indoor games for all the guests which was quite enjoyable and we were able to interact and talk to the other guests in an informal manner and get to know them better. On another day they organized a performance of the Gotipua Dance (A folk dance of orissa) which is performed by young boys who dress as girls. This dance was quite acrobatic and interesting to watch.

On the whole the resort was a very enjoyable experience. It is not of top class quality but it is very down to earth and basic. It had enough activities to keep us busy all through the week without feeling bored. The staff is very friendly and helpful and frank on what is possible and what is not for the umpteen requests that we had.