25 April 2016

Lessons I learnt being a planner for Barcamp Bangalore

Nine years is a long time. And being part of the planning team of Barcamp Bangalore has been a satisfying one for me. I have met so many people who have done such amazing stuff in their lives, each one of them taught me different things. The interacting experience with so many folks also taught me a lot.   This experience was practically like being a part of a startup where each member is a CEO,having equal responsibility and a say in how things work.

Along with these learnings,  I also got to scratch my itch with various  technologies. I learnt PHP, Wordpress, MediaWiki, HTML5, Android, Python, Flask, Google App Engine among with various technologies that we tried to integrate into the event to make it smoother. I know it’s hard to keep things crisp, but here are some of my thoughts

  1. Never be afraid to put out your ideas and debate them : There are no geniuses in the world. Everyone thinks and often shoots down his own ideas for very silly reasons. Often these are the ideas the world needs. But beware, you should debate the idea, not the man.
  2. You just got to hang in there : There is no reward for perseverance and giving up early is perhaps the number one reason for failure. There was a time when we were struggling to keep Barcamp Bangalore going but being with friends and constant  trying made it happen.
  3. Giving is a joy. Reward might come in unexpected ways : I worked as a planner because I wanted to give back. I wanted to have a community in Bangalore which really cared about technology and want to make it work for the good. I got my rewards in more than one way --- like making so many friends who are truly passionate about technology. I got to try out so many different technologies which were put live out in the world. Besides,  my last two jobs also had a connection with Barcamp Bangalore.
  4. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses : As a planner, I learnt that every person has his own strength and weakness. So many different folks are part of the planning team and each one of them does a part of the work which is critical. If anyone is missing, that would make it really difficult to fill in their shoes.
  5. Sometimes you have to step up and fill in where others are lacking : Though each one has his or her own strengths, when working as a team sometimes you have to fill in for the folks who are not able to finish their tasks. Helping everyone is critical for the team to work well.
  6. Always give credit to folks whenever due : It is so very important to give credit to folks whenever  due. Often a small gesture is worth more than you can imagine.
  7. It’s important to cut out folks who are not as interested as you are : There will be folks with different agendas and ideas, it’s important that you cut out folks so that the entire team does not feel demotivated to get things going.
  8. Harsh war of words or attacking anyone personally does no good to anyone : Often folks start using harsh words and things start going downhill. . Often, it is only a confusion or misunderstanding which can easily be cleared, but personal attack of words  change everything for the worse, leaving no room for recovery.
  9. It doesn't matter if you are a new guy, often all that it requires is just a small push : Sometimes we feel intimidated because the folks, who have been around for sometime,  are much more experienced or skilled. But it is important that you do whatever little that you can. It works in two ways -- establishes the fact that you can do things, and secondly, helps other folks do more because you have taken some of their responsibilities. This was very critical when I had joined the team and had no credibility whatsoever.
  10. A new guy can teach you more that you can think of. He has the skills and knowledge you may never know. It was amazing to have a team of folks which grew over time.
  11. At times you have to be impolite: Being impolite doesnt mean using harsh words and launching personal attacks. Its about trying to work around those who will not follow the rule, and try to be over smart. Such folks also make it difficult to accomplish the tasks. At these times, it becomes important  to be a little rude and tell them what they are doing is wrong.
  12. Give responsibility and also keep them responsible : Your teammates need to be given responsibility. But just making them responsible does not work well. Someone has to follow up and make sure they live up to that responsibility. You have to be rude, if they dont act responsibly.

One thing I am definite about -- Barcamp Bangalore has given me much more than what I could give back.

15 April 2016

My journey of being a planner at Barcamp Bangalore

I learnt about Barcamp Bangalore sometime in June or July 2007. I was fascinated by the idea of sharing ideas, learning about technology and talking about them as well. I attended a large lot of talks on both the days that it was there. I dont remember what all talks I attended, but they were not tied to any one technology or aspect at all. Plus everyone had equal rights to talk and you need not be that well known guy to talk about something you are passionate about. That was the best part of the entire event according to me.

Post event, I joined the yahoo mailing list and after a few days there was this call for anyone interested in planning the next one. I was excited to be part of it. A naive idiot, just a couple of years out of college, I thought wow, this going to be something. Then at the planners meet there were a lot of folks. But I remember Arun Ram, Hari, Jace a.k.a. Kiran(I found out that day), Srinivas and Keshav . I felt awesome to be able to contribute something here. It was made very clear that everyone was equal and could they would be heard.

From my blog about that day (http://the100rabh.blogspot.com/2007/10/barcamp-bangalore-07-winter-edition.html)

Soon after we left for our ways with the idea that we would be doing something good to start an ecosystem in Bangalore, which can actually make Bangalore truly a Silicon Valley.

As you could imagine, I was filled with a lot of optimism with that. We all wanted to experiment and make things better for the ecosystem. This is something I have not forgotten and keep on pushing things for the better.

I have been part of Barcamp Bangalore ever since and it has taught me a lot of things. More importantly it has kept my passion of technology alive regardless of what technology I have been working on in my day job. I could say a lot more about things I have learnt at Barcamp Bangalore but that for the next post.

21 April 2015

The Unscientific Analysis of Languages popular with Indian Startups

Well all this started with this one tweet

And finally ended with this one

And I had the entire dump of Hasjobs postings. It was pretty cool of Kiran to send them across to me and saving me the time and effort to scrape that data. At that time I had very little idea what I would do with it. I am aware of R and this was the moment when I thought I could make use of the little knowledge of it I had.

So I got on with it.

Step 1: Step R on my system.
Step 2: Write some code to extract the data and cleanse it
Step 3: Generate the counts for words
Step 4: Manually pick up the technology words with counts
Step 5: Generate the image with language popularity

So as it stands the top 5 of required technologies for Indian Startups are

1. PHP
2. Android
3. Ruby
4. IOS
5. Javascript

Surprised ? No ?  At least I am because the one technology no one talks about but seems is highly used by Indian startups is PHP. Rest sound very reasonable to me. What do you guys think ?

Following was the code I wrote to extract the results. Let me know if I am missing something.

install.packages ("tm")
install.packages ("RColorBrewer")

corpus <- Corpus(VectorSource(hasjob.content$headline))
corpus <- tm_map(corpus, content_transformer(tolower))
corpus <- tm_map(corpus, removePunctuation)
corpus <- tm_map(corpus, function(x) removeWords(x, stopwords("english")))

td.mat <- as.matrix(TermDocumentMatrix(corpus))
write.matrix(format(td.mat, scientific=FALSE),
               file = paste(targetPath, "data.csv", sep="/"), sep=",")

18 March 2013

Mahindra's new electric vehicle E2O

After Mahindra took over Reva, it has launched a new vehicle. Its called E2O. But besides it being an electric vehicle with 100Km range and 5 hour charging, and other similar features. But the most interesting part is that its also launch iPhone, Android and Blackberry apps. This app allows you to
  • Get current vehicle charge & range status
  • Set schedules to pre-cool or pre-heat your E2O’s cabin
  • Activate ‘REVive’
  • Remotely control E2O’s charging
  • Remotely lock or unlock your E2O
  • Engage ‘Vacation Mode’ for your E2O when you are not going to use your e2ofor a few days or more
  • Plan your E2O trips
  • Get troubleshooting assistance
  • Locate ‘Positive-Point’ charging stations and service station
  • Request for road side assistance and many more...
Being able to control some of the car features with your phone sounds very cool to me. More at http://www.mahindrae2o.com/mobileapp.htm
I guess next logical step would be an API which will allow developers to do some more amazing things. Its a pretty interesting development and something which we all can look forward to.
Having said that, there are certain things which do bother me.
  • Security : I am not sure about how much secure the system is going to be. When the best of the software companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Adobe etc are not able to secure their software all that well, how well will Mahindra be able to do is surely questionable.
  • Lithium Ion battery being used are similar to the ones which are used in phones. I just hope they dont blow up like some of the chinese phones

31 December 2012

2012 - The Year that was for me

Let me summarize what 2012 was for me :) 

  1. I began the year by building Auto/Taxi Complaint Android App for Mumbai on my dear sister's insistence. 
  2. Ported the two Auto Complaints Apps for Bangalore and Mumbai on Windows Phone. Microsoft gave me a brand new Nokia Lumia 800. My mom now uses it proudly. Somehow she still prefers Android though. 
  3. Had an awesome Team Outing at Goa. It was great time with the most awesome I have ever worked with. Doing all the water sports and just being in the water was such an immersing experience. The fort was nice too. But I was really disgusted by the openness with which people approached me for all kinds of drugs. For me it was a very disgusting experience. But then, that's what makes Goa, Goa!! Probably.

  4. Was part of the planners group for Barcamp Bangalore 11. Made the Barcamp Bangalore App for the event and open sourced it as well at https://github.com/the100rabh/Barcamp-Bangalore-Android-App. Also gave a talk on "Making you UI look good on Android". Slides for that are at http://www.slideshare.net/the100rabh/making-your-ui-look-good-on-android
  5. Had a real fun time taking part in all the different internal events at Intuit which was both exciting and tiring at the same time. Had some nice time with colleagues there. Being part of hackdays, technical presentations and VC pitches, all made it a very memorable time
  6. Lady Luck showed a little bit of light on me and I managed to win a cycle at Earth Day Contest at Intuit. It was fun to have that. I manage to cycle to work every week trying to beat my office cab to office (Which I often do, thanks to Bangalore traffic :)
  7. Then came the time for Barcamp Bangalore 12. This time I must say I had opportunity of working with best planners group with Daaku, Viral, Mixdev, Aman, Ninad and Sathya contributing immensely to making Barcamp Bangalore what it is. Right from the electronic scheduling done by Aman and Ninad, redesign of Android app by Aman(Can’t forget that Aman and Sathya filed over 50 bugs for my first cut ), Sathya taking charge of social media, Viral taking care of finances, Mixdev for comig up with the idea of Tecklash and Daaku managing everything else. It was really fun to be around with these guys. My talk on "Lean Startup Principles from an Engineer's perspective" went pretty well. Slides for the same are at http://www.slideshare.net/the100rabh/lean-startup-principles-an-engineers-perspective
  8. There was this time of the year for Yahoo Open Hackday. Like previous years I participated. I was initially teamed up with Dkris, Ninad and Aman for "I am Bored" app. But then I found idea of SoundBeam a lot more interesting and so jumped to join Mixdev and Viral to do it. After some struggle we did manage a one way communication. The code for it is live at https://bitbucket.org/the100rabh/soundbeam. But the surprise came next day morning when a few friends called to congratulate me on winning Hacker's Choice Award. Well actually it was Aman, Ninad and Dkris who had won that for "I am Bored". I had told the reported on the morning when we started about our idea and yes Times of India just assumes and makes up stuff. I have now experienced it first-hand. 
  9. Finally I visited Calcutta during Durga Pujo. It was fun being there after 12 long years of missing it. The city remains same, the spirit remains same and so does the food. Saw the most amazing pandals, lights and animated lights. Cant help but love the city even though Ms Mamata Bannerjee's 10 day holiday doesn’t inspire me to move back there again. I am a Bangalorean now :)

  10. This year saw my first idea to published by Intuit. It was about Method and System to alert user if he is inaudible to other participants in a virtual conference call. Hit the link to read more. I hope someone picks it up and actually implements it. It would really be useful to me at least.
  11. Then time came for my wedding anniversary in December. My wife had planned everything, knowing I was neck deep in work and would never plan anything :) So it was Mysore trip and we went to places where we either of us had not visited, so it was Mysore Zoo and Palace. We spent a real long time at both these places, which is how we like to visit places. Though the Mysore palace is miniscule compared to the palaces in Rajasthan, it was not that bad. The zoo, of course, was the finest of all. I loved the fact they have aviaries where birds are free to roam about and fly as well. Even other animals have plenty of space to move around. 

  12. Last but not the least was something which I was planning to do for a long time. I finally completed a course on Coursera on Python. I had been coding in python for sometime now without actually knowing the nuances of Python. I did code a couple of simple apps on Google App Engine and even implemented Google Cloud Messaging backend for BCB App without actually having learnt Python as such. Mainly because its a fairly simple and Google was always there to help :) I would surely say I now some things about Python, though there is still a lot to be done. If I am not doing something on Android, probably my next personal project will be Python based :)