Friday, December 28, 2012

Crime in India

It was bound to happen at some point of time - the tragic rape of the girl and the bungling of the case by the police and the administration with the politicians non-committal and making stupid remarks about women leading to public anger. The problem is not with the law. There is no point in getting the death penalty for rape - the reason being that if the death penalty comes in then there will be more ambiguity added to the law such as "rarest of rare cases" with additional procedures such as getting a presidential assent and so on. Thus never bringing a case to an end.

What we need is a strong police and administration that is fair, thorough and decisive in their action against the culprits. We need the perpetrators of the crime arrested quickly and convicted as quickly so that they are scared that in no time they will pay for their crime. Its the fear of facing the punishment that will reduce crime. Having a punishment which has no way of being implemented because the process is weak will not reduce crime, it will only embolden the criminals for they know they won't be punished.

I am not sure what is the process in India once the sexual offender is freed from prison but there should be curbs and monitoring in place to monitor their activities. I know this is not easy to implement but if thought out i am sure that ways can be worked out with the technology we have these days to put these monitors in place on these offenders.

What we need is an investment in the police to strengthen it and train it to protect the citizens that it exists for. We need investment in more judges and courts that can give out speedy justice. We need investment to be made in good forensics and investigators that can create water tight cases that will stand up in a court of law. We need the police and the administration to be free of political influence. If we do this it will automatically create the deterrents.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

60 seconds on the internet

Ever wondered what happens on the internet every minute? This picture gives that view so clearly. The amount of information that gets created is just incredible. Its also getting easier to find information we are looking for with a lot of specialized sites for curating the data. It is also easy now to reach out and ask people for solutions and its fantastic how random people from around the world are so enthusiastic to help out.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Online Learning



Online learning has never been more exciting than it is now. There are so many wonderful free resources out there for online learning but there are 2 specific resources that I have tried out in the last three months that I would like to talk about which I think are really amazing. The first one is Venture Lab and the other is The Khan Academy.

I spoke about The Khan Academy a long time ago in this post. But a lot has changed since then. They have applied the concepts of gamification to it along with a learning path. This gives a logical path for the student to watch the videos and do the exercises and as you do the exercises and watch the videos you earn leaves and badges that keeps you motivated to continue learning.

I was listening to a podcast where they were talking about how this is changing the teaching paradigms in many schools where what used to be homework is now done in the class and what used to be taught in classes is now being given as homework. How is this accomplished? The students are given the videos to watch at home as homework and all the exercises that used to be done at home is now done in the class where the teachers and the students help each other in doing the exercises, thus making the class more hands-on and engaging where the concepts that are learned in the video are applied.

The Venture Lab consists of courses that are taught in Stanford. It is a gamified learning environment where there are learning videos and exercises. What is more exciting here is that one needs to form teams with other individuals from around the world. I just completed a course on Technology Entrepreneurship and I met some wonderful people from around the world in order to do my assignments. They bring a different perspective to the whole learning environment.

With all the videos on You Tube, the question/answer forums such as Stack Overflow and just the power of Google and Bing Search to filter information to programmers there are very few problems out there that do not have a solution online. Learning and being able to apply concepts is so much easier now than it has ever been in the past and one should only have the perseverance to continue learning and applying those concepts in what they do to really flourish in their careers.

Kids should be introduced to Khan Academy and encouraged to use that as a learning environment and adults should do courses on The Venture Lab and Coursera.

If you know of other sites that offer online courses, share this information in the comments section below. I would also like to connect with others who are taking courses on these sites so let me know if you are taking any of the courses and what was your experience.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mindless Killing : Need for gun control

The debate around gun control has been going on for some time now but I think the US has reached a point where they have to take some hard and tough decisions around gun control. The second amendment gives the person the right to carry arms but it was written more than 200 years ago when weapons were not as lethal and accurate as they are these days. These weapons can discharge 100s of bullets in a matter of seconds with deadly accuracy and cause maximum damage in a very short while which was demonstrated in such a brutal manner in the killing of 20 innocent children. Its time to take serious decisive action against assault weapons that can discharge large number of bullets in a short time.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

15 Reasons why attend Startup Weekend

Here are my 15 reasons why every person who wants to be an entrepreneur has to attend startup weekend especially if they are planning to startup in the technology space. 
  1. Get to evaluate and try out your product idea in a risk free manner. If you have an idea and don't know if it will work you can come to the event and pitch it - if you get enough votes probably there is some credibility to your idea.
  2. Connect and network with developers and marketing and business professionals who can possibly work with you in the future. You can evaluate their skills over 54 hours in the toughest circumstances and find the right person who you can work with. 
  3. Get to meet mentors and spend 1 on 1 quality time with them when in real life trying to get even a few minutes of their time is very hard. They will help you fine tune your idea even further.
  4. Ability to brainstorm with experienced professionals and fine tune your idea to something that can be taken to market.
  5. Learn how to pitch and sell your idea in 1 minute. This will force you to practice your pitch.
  6. Ability to present in front of Angels, VCs and Incubators. If you are able to impress them then the world is yours to conquer.
  7. Learn through practice. Try out things and find out things that work.
  8. Learn about different tools and techniques people use and see the effectiveness of those techniques that different teams adopted.
  9. Understand the process of going about in starting up a technology product startup that takes you through the phases of ideation, team formation, market evaluation, product development and roll out all in 54 hours.
  10. Teaches you to never give up. There are times it looks so daunting what needs to be done but with perseverance it is amazing what can be achieved in 54 hours.
  11. Be a part of a global community of startup weekenders who number in the 10s of thousands.
  12. Learn to have fun and achieve great things that you feel very passionate about.
  13. Give you a preview of what the 18 hour days would be like when you are actually doing your startup.
  14. Forces you to learn to make quick decisions.
  15. Finally the awesome food - 7 meals to keep your batteries running.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Startup Funerals

I went for a very interesting event today and its called Startup Funerals. I was surprised at the size of the audience that made it to the event and that stayed all through the event. The event had a very simple format of networking and a few speakers talking about their experiences. The event focused on startups that did not succeed, in other words they failed or they gave up. The idea of the event was to share the learning from these startups with the rest of the community. 

The speakers were a couple of Hyderabad Angels who shared their experiences with the audience but the stand out speaker was K.Ramakrishna who gave a chronological history about his experiences through his entrepreneurial journey and he very openly explained about the reasons why the startups he tried out did not work out. There are not many who are very open like this about their failures. So its wonderful to see people starting to open up and explain what went wrong so that no one else makes the same mistakes.

We all go through ups and downs in startups and its about how you steel your way through these situations and over come them. Its great to see events like this where people come out and explain about these challenges and how they over came them or learnt from them to make bigger and better startups. Unless you try it you will not make a mistake and unless you make a mistake you are not going to learn. We have all made mistakes from when we were toddlers and that is how we have learn.

One question that keeps haunting me is "Why is it that we did not fear to fall down when we tried to first walk as a toddler but fear to try things out as an adult?" Is it because we are more knowledgeable of the risks involved in failing that it restricts us from trying things out?

Monday, December 03, 2012

Galaxy S + Windows 8

Getting my Galaxy S phone connected to Windows 8 laptop has really ruined my weekend. Usually I just connect my Galaxy S phone to my laptop and it all works fine with the device showing up in Windows Explorer but after installing Windows 8 on my laptop I try it and nothing happens. So I turn to my best friend in need "Google". After Googling for a bit I ended up with some interesting solutions

1. Reinstall some drivers - Did not work. Told me all my drivers were upto date.
2. Change some registry values - could not find the values to change.
3. Open the config file of Kies (software used to connect the Samsung phone to the desktop) and make some changes in it. Could not save the changes as some program or the other was using it.
4. Finally found a blogpost on the Samsung asking me to install Kies Mini which is another version of Kies and some operators of Samsung specifically block the phone from connecting to Kies.

Its easy to find content on Google if one is patient enough to search on the right key words. The problem always ends up being which content to trust and which content not to trust. Curated content is the answer. But with a large content base already there and as it explodes daily with new content added how does one constantly update the curated content so that it ends up being useful to people. Stackoverflow.com has kind of done a good job regarding this for programmers. Why I say it has done a good job is because when I see a link with stackoverflow.com for a question that I have asked, I almost always click it because I know the answer that I get from there will be the closest to answering what I am looking for.

Stackoverflow.com is building a series of such sites to provide curated content for users on a platform called stackexchange.com. But there are so many topics around which curated content is needed and this is just the beginning.