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Showing posts from March, 2008

Good Design Vs Good Coding

Do you do the design document before or after the coding cycle? Logically everyone would say that you have to do it before the coding cycle but the fact of the matter is that many people do it after the coding cycle. They finish the code and then feed the code into a tool that will draw a design diagram for them based on the code that was submitted to it. They then take that design diagram and write the design document based on that diagram. Now if we compare this to the real world it would be like constructing your house by a bunch of brilliant architects each having his own idea of what he wants to do with the house and after each one of them says they are done you draw up the design based on what you see. Can you imagine what you would get? Thats exactly what happens in the software that is designed after it is built its just that everything is virtual and it is not as apparent as it is in a building but its pretty much the same. Hence having brilliant programmers does not help to

Timing of New Tools and Techniques

Timing the introduction of new tools and techniques has to be done very carefully in a project or an organization. Introducing a new tool or technique into a project or organization and expecting magical results almost never happens. In fact almost in all cases there is an initial loss of productivity or quality. The reason for this loss is due to the following There is always a learning curve for the new tool or technique to be adopted. Almost always the initial use of the tool or the technique is never the most optimised or best way to use it. Sometimes a technique requires a mindset change and this mindset change takes time. There will always be skeptics to anything new that is introduced and these skeptics can always bring the others down. Does this mean that no new tools or techniques need to be introduced? Absolutely NOT. There is always a better way to do things and one should be continuously improving by introducing new and better tools and techniques but some precautions shou

Copying Vs Innovating

Seth Godin on his blog had an interesting post where he asks Should you make stuff aimed at people who usually buy your product? or Should you make stuff aimed at people who rarely do? Well this is my take on it If you do what your competitors don't have you are a pioneer. There is a high probability that it will fail but if it does succeed then you have higher returns. On the other hand if you choose to go with what your competitors have you are a copycat but you have a higher chance of making something that will succeed as it has already been tried before but the returns are obviously lower. I once read that an entrepreneur is one who sees things that other people don't. They are people that can put order to the chaotic messages that they are being bombarded with and visualize something that no one else does. Putting these thoughts into practice is a lot harder and more risky but if successful higher are the rewards.

Managing risk for better estimates

Everyone who has given an estimate for a task knows that they are giving the estimate based on everything happening "normally". Normal means that there are no unplanned or unknown difficulties that arise. If one expects to be able to make a plan that takes into account all of these unplanned or unknown difficulties then it is impossible at the beginning or during the project to make an estimate that is accurate. This is possible only after the project is over and that is too late. So what does one do when faced with a situation such as this and needs to give an estimate with a reasonable level of accuracy. The most important thing is to make a plan. Any plan. So when you start off the project you make the best possible plan that you can at that point of time. Once you make that plan ask yourself - "What are the items in this plan that can cause my estimate to go wrong?" Once you ask yourself this question you will be given some answers such as We are doing this des

Building the family website

My Dad's side of the family is quite a big family (My dad is one of 17 brothers and sisters) and I have 76 cousins and a lot of nephews and nieces and a few grand nephews and nieces too. So there was more than one reason in creating a family website. We were using a yahoo group to keep in touch and the website was a natural progression to that mailing list. We have collected some very old photographs, some videos made by members of the family and books written by the family and have posted them here. I have used PhpGedView as the family tree software. PhpGedView allows more than one person to edit the family tree at the same time and there are a lot of details that can be maintained for each member of the family. It is very straight forward to install. All you need is a web host that supports PHP. I got the template for the website from Open source Web Design . You have a lot of nice templates here that can help you get the basic website design in place very quickly. For dig

Offshoring to India

I was reading a post by Steve McConnell on his blog How to Scale Up Quickly and he commented Trying to startup quickly by outsourcing is a dead end as far as I'm concerned, especially to India where turnover is so high. Offshore captives can work, but minimum workable size seems to be about 100 people, and it probably takes 2-3 years of ramp up to get to financial break even. There are some points here that I agree with and some that I don't. I agree with the fact that there is high turnover is true in a lot of organizations and yes it does effect a lot of projects. An industry average of 15-20% attrition is quite startling for the west to grapple with. Making a project succeed with this kind of turnover is also hard. Searching in Google will give you enough proof to substantiate this high figure. In order to complete a project it is important to have a consistent team right through the project. I do not agree with the fact that you need a minimum workable size of about

Conceptualize, Build, Market, Sell

I have been toying around with various ideas for the last 3 years. I have conceptualized and built the following products but I have no idea how to market and sell these products. I feel that conceptualizing and building a product are the easiest parts of the whole cycle - the tougher parts are finding the buyers for the products and then convincing them to buy the product. A little bit about the products that I have built. ourspace.in This is an online web shop which we have customized to sell baby products. It is fully configurable right from setting up all the categories and sub categories of the products to adding the items and managing them. It has a shopping cart which is not yet hooked up to an online payment gateway but one can easily do that when the need arises. It has tons of other features such as Discussion boards with customizable discussion topics Picture Gallery Refer-a-friend Customizable Headline Display The whole solution is built in ASP.Net and it can be customize

8 Attributes of a Leader

I looked up dictionary.com and found the following definition for who is a leader "a guiding and directing head". I then wondered if that is who is a leader what is it that makes a leader and I came up with the following attributes. Goal Every leader should have a goal. Without a goal the leader is rudderless. He has no direction. He should have a clear idea of what is it that needs to be achieved. With a goal in mind a leader should be able to chalk out a plan to achieve that goal. Strategic Thinking Thinking strategically is very important. A leader should be able to see things others don't. He should be able to visualize the path to the goal. This comes only on clarity of knowing what the goal is and understanding the path to the goal. There will be blind turns on the way to the goal but a leader should be one that identifies these turns and approaches them with proper risk measures and alternative routes. A leader should be able to think ahead of his team and guide t

A joke called "National Do Not Call Registry"

The Do Not Call Registry of TRAI is a farce. Registering with this registry does not seem to have any effect on the number of calls that you receive from Tele Marketers. If you go to their website http://ndncregistry.gov.in/ndncregistry/index.jsp they have a section called Information For Subscribers and inside that How to File Complaints. If you get very excited on seeing that don't, in that page this is what is written " Subscriber may make complaints if he receives Unsolicited Commercial Communication(UCC) even after 45 days of successful inclusion of his number , he may complain the same to his Telecom service provider. Please contact your telecom service provider for more Details. " If you click on the Details link it will take you to a document that has the contact numbers of all the telecom service providers. Yesterdays newspaper had the following headline And I have one basic doubt in the whole process working and that is If the person who you have to com

H1B Visas on SAP Street

I was just about to drive into "SAP Street" in Hyderabad when a banner caught my attention. The banner said "IT Professionals Processing of H1B for job opportunities in US Limited Period Left". I have seen a lot of banners proclaiming that they can train you in anything under the sun but this is the first time that I saw a banner that can get you a job in the US and also get your H1B visa. Well as they say pretty much anything can be done on "SAP Street" from completed project reports that can be submitted as assignments, fake experience letters, Microsoft and other certification exams that can be written in proxy and many more activities that make the birth place of the IT industry in Hyderabad infamous.

White goods and 0% finance

About a year ago I went to buy an LCD TV and was made the following offer. "You do not need to pay all the money for the TV upfront. The price that you negotiate for the TV will be divided into 10 installments. 2 installments need to be paid as a down payment and the remaining 8 installments can be paid over the next 8 months and if all the installments are paid promptly then you will be returned the last installment" This offer seemed absolutely wonderful for the following reasons I do not need to come up with all the money immediately I get money back at the end of it I can actually do stuff with the money that I was planning to pay for the TV with like earn some additional interest on it So with a little skepticism I took up the offer with Citi Financial and after some verification and some proofs that they demanded I got an LCD TV with just 1/5th of the cost of it out of my bank account. They promptly deducted the money over the next few months and I was presently surp

WiMax finally works for me

We applied more than a month and a half ago for a WiMax internet connection from Reliance and it finally got installed on Saturday. The technician arrived with all his equipment which consisted of a square dish, a small modem and a whole load of wire. They walked around the roof for about 10 min with the dish connected to the laptop and were able to identify the best location to place the dish from where they were able to get the optimum signal. Once they had the dish setup they took about an hour and half to get the connection setup and then finally after about 3 hours they had the WiMax working. It has been working pretty well ever since it has been installed. Currently I have a 150 Kbps unlimited connection that gets a new IP each time I connect. I need to now change that to a new option where they provide a wireless router so that I can really blog from anywhere in my house.

Serious blogging obsesses you

When I started blogging I used to only write what I liked writing about, wrote articles when I had the time and then once in a while checked how many visitors I had on Google Analytics. Then I started writing a little more frequently and since I had a lot of content initially the posts came thick and fast. Along with the posts came some amount of fame (with no fortune :( unfortunately) which brought the traffic then I started getting obsessed about the number of visitors that came (checking atleast once a day), what were they reading, where did they come from, how long did they spend on my site. I then started worrying about the numbers and with that I started to wonder how do I keep the visitors longer on my site, how do I keep them engaged, how do I show them my really good posts, how do I get them new content day after day, what is it that brings them to my site and so on. As you can see it can so easily turn from a harmless fun activity to something very obsessive bordering on add

Pictures from Lahari

In the post Cricket Ground : Lahari Resorts I gave details about the cricket ground in Lahari Resorts. Below are pictures of some of the other facilities that are available in the resort.

Life revolves around fear

A few days ago one of my colleagues told me "Fear is a great motivator" and that got me thinking. Our life revolves around fear. From the time we are kids we are told about the " Budda -Man" who will take you away if we are not good, you won't become strong if you do not eat and many more like that. As you grow up it is the fear of exams that forces you to study and learn and then once you get into work it is the fear of reviews and appraisals that force you to work harder and put in your best. I found this very interesting as we start with the fear of god and then move on to the fear of society to the fear of failure as an individual that keeps motivating us to give our best. There are also a lot of products that are sold to us by creating a fear some examples of this are insurance products (fear of death), dietary products (fear of becoming fat and ugly), cholesterol reducing products (fear of heart attacks) and so on. As you can see a lot of our life revolv

2 column to 3 column layout

Having been seriously blogging for about 3 months now that is at least one post a day I have realised that there are limitations to the 2 column layout that most blogger blogs have. Some of the limitations of two column layouts are You have only limited space to tell the reader everything you want to tell. For example if you put labels and archive you don't have very much more prime real estate on top of the screen to put anything else. You have limited space to put ads on your blog. You have to either put it in your post or you need your ad to occupy the prime real estate on top of the screen making it look like all you are interested in is advertising. I am not sure why blogger has only 2 column layouts as default layouts. They are not really providing variety to the blogger out there other than in colors and styles. If you look at all the bloggers who are serious bloggers like Amit , Darren and Abhinav all have 3 column or more layouts. What I have realised is that readers bas

Kids have a way of reminding us

I was watching television late at night on Friday and my daughter came and told me "Papa the police man will come and catch you if you do not go to sleep" and forced me to switch off the TV and go to sleep. This is the line that I used on her to get her to stop watching TV and to go to sleep. What I found very interesting is how she has figured out that, things that apply to her apply to others too. In software we have a term called "Eating one's own dog food" which wikipedia defines as "To say that a company eats its own dog food means that it uses the products that it makes." In the same way the rules that you make for others applies to yourself too and in the uncomplicated mind of my daughter this seems like something basic. When one makes rules it is good to use it on oneself to understand the effect and the benefit of the rule. The rule should apply to you as much as it applies to everyone else. It is a proven management philosophy that in fl

First time blues

I was playing with my daughter yesterday and I asked her to sing a new nursery rhyme with me and she told me "I cannot do it papa because it is difficult". Two phrases in that sentence caught my attention "cannot do it" and "difficult". Which made me wonder, when is it in life do we learn to say that we cannot do things because it is difficult. There are so many things that I remember finding difficult to do and wanting to give up but I had the right support system around me that persisted with me to continue trying or the circumstance at that point of time forced me to learn it. I was then able to overcome the initial hardships to be able to enjoy it now. One example is driving the car. I always had this fear to drive on Indian roads but the circumstance of needing a car with a blossoming family forced me to learn to drive and take the car out. It was very hard initially but I enjoy driving now. The earliest memory that I have of something that I

Listing on blog catalogues does pay off

In an earlier post " Advertising my blog " I was cribbing about listing my blog in blog directories and how even though I listed on them for quite some time I did not manage to get any traffic and got frustrated. Things suddenly changed after a post written by me listed on problogger.net . Suddenly I had visitors in the hundreds visit my blog and that automatically pushed up my blog in all the blog catalogues and immediately my blog started getting traffic from all the blog catalogues. Suddenly I have had a spurt of visitors from an average of about 30 per day to now a number that is closer to 100. So listing on blog catalogues does pay off if you can manage to get noticed by one of the bigger sites which can drive traffic to your blog. Increasing traffic to your blog is all about patience and perseverance. If you keep giving quality content and list on the catalogues and one day of fame will push you up in all the catalogues and you will be suddenly recognised.

Earning money by giving it free

You hear a lot of it in the software world free unlimited mail, free chat service, free software and so on. You start to wonder who is paying for all the servers that are running this software or who is paying for all the people that developed this service or who is paying for all the marketing that these services are doing (like the ads for ibibo, indiatimes mail, rediff mail on Indian television). All of this may be free to use as a direct service but if you look more closely you start to wonder is it really free, because all of these companies are earning money is some manner to pay for running their business. Let us take an example of all the Google products. They are all free to use for most of the features that they offer. But Google earns a lot of revenue in the following ways and there are many more It charges the advertisers through the AdWords program to put their ads on every single product that they have. Google supposedly earns 16 dollars per user through advertising an

Team Blogs

I have been getting quite a few requests asking whether I would be interested in teaming up in order to write a blog. In this article I would like to write about what I consider a blog to be and the reasons as to why I will not do team blogs. I consider a blog to be a personal expression of ones ideas and views. It has a style and a view that is very individualistic. It is a diary that is public. It gives you an insight into the ideas and thoughts of a person. What I have realised over time is that when you read a blog you either love a blog or you hate a blog. There is no middle ground. I have also realised that there are blogs where there is a lot of information but you just don't like the blog because of the style in which the post is written. So writing blogs is very individualistic and on the other hand reading blogs is also very individualistic. Coming to team blogs I wanted to do one too just like everyone else and the reason I wanted to do it is for the selfish reason tha

India steps back

After listening to the budget proposals on the waiver of the farmer loans the first thing that came to my mind is that we are stepping backwards. The issue I have is not about the money being spent but on what it is being spent. In this post I will try to elaborate as to why I have such strong views on this subject. Spending 650 billion rupees (65,000 crores ) for no change The farmer whose loan is written off will anyway have no money again even after his loan is written off. He still has to borrow the next year to grow his crop. With no change in the environment surrounding his current situation which put him in this position in the first place what's stopping him from ending up where he is again two or three years down the line. So we are spending all this money in writing off his debt but it will not change anything. He will be in debt very soon again as he has no money in his hand. Agricultural Infrastructure is the problem The reasons the farmers are in the situation the

Featuring in the newspaper

The Indiblogger meet sure seemed to have upped my popularity. It all started with a phone call from Ishita from Deccan Chronicle about my views on blogging and why I blog and after a 5 minute conversation with Mona and myself she seemed satisfied with the information that she had and before we could ask her anything more she hung up. On opening today mornings paper I was surprised to find this Then there are blogs that will guide you about the basic things like how to apply for a passport, create a website, good places to hang out in a city, as CTO of Infornia.com, Sudeep D’Souza does. Sudeep’s wife, Mona, is also a serious blogger. “I have a baby product company and though we don’t use my blog to promote the company as yet, we give reviews on different baby products available in the market. We make independent comments and also invite parents to give their feedback.” On closer examination they got my organization wrong - it should have been inforica.com and I have been told tha

Hyderabad Indiblogger Meet

After a 15 KM drive to the Microsoft Campus in Gachbowli and then t he half-a-kilometer trek uphill in the hot afternoon sun from Gate 5 to Gate 3 of the Microsoft Campus on the road which has tons of construction trucks plying (there is no side walk on the road) and after negotiating all the security formalities to enter the campus we finally arrived at the hall. There were only about 10 of us even though 75 or so registered on the website but in the next 30 min or so the hall was packed with more than a 100 blogger/wannabe bloggers. Having never been to a blogging meet and it was the same for many of those that came the introverted nature of Indians came out and everyone stuck to their own groups. The meet started with introductions from Balaji who organized the meet and Renie from Indiblogger about Indiblogger and then they had the "1 min of fame" ice-breaking session where each one had to introduce themselves and their blog and we quickly realized that there was a go