Category Archives: General

We’re Hiring Developers!

We have been working on bunch of products (indiereign.com, and others) for sometime. To take these products to next level, quickly and elegantly, we have recently started expanding our team.

We are starting our new development centre in Noida. We want to connect, talk to and hire smart and passionate developers (hackers) who love to work on products in a small company or a startup (like ours).

We are looking for:

  • bright and smart guys
  • one who can fit in our (small team/company/startup) culture, and becomes a great team player
  • can learn, adapt and use cutting/bleeding edge technologies
  • can inspire and mentor others
  • importantly, loves building cool, useful and scalable products/services

Experience, we would like to see:

  • Application Developer
    • Proficiency with web standards and frontend (HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, etc.) development
    • proficiency with one ore more languages (Python, Ruby, PHP, Scala, etc.)
    • proficiency with analytical approach to problem solving
    • has worked or very interested to work on other frameworks (Django, Rails, Symfony, etc.)
  • Mobile Application Developer (iOS or Android or both) - apps/games development;

Details description can be found at http://jobs.hasgeek.com/at/allies.co.in

We are not rigid about number of years (of experience). We think experience comes out of depth, challenges one has taken, and how many great problems one has solved over the time. If someone has all that, we are happy to talk to him/her.

If you are interested or know someone who is good fit; I would appreciate, if you can connect with me (aqabiz at allies.co.in) and share details.

Update: Whereabouts

Just in case, you still follow this blog and wondering about me? I thought, it would be fair to leave some details on that.

  • In Kanpur (my hometown)
  • spending most of time on (or around) IndieReign,
  • learning electronics and trying to build something,
  • yet to grow to team, because it is hard to find and get right ones :-)
  • still does ActionScript, mostly for fun stuff,
  • might start blogging again; got so much to talk about, and share.

Thank You

This post is dedicated to people and companies, who allowed me to work with them. They hired me when I was nothing.

I messed up so many times, yet they kept supporting me. I was not up to the mark, yet they were optimistic. They told me the truth and helped me grow to what I am today.

In last one decade, hundreds of people influenced and inspired me. It would take days to write their names, I would probably do that one day. Thanks to every one of them

I can’t imagine, if I would be what I am today without their trust and support.

Here is list of companies and people (managers, leaders, mentors), who trusted me and allowed me to work with them. I am very thankful to them for everything they did.

Tata Interactive Systems
  • Vivek Kashyap
  • Pavan Kota
  • Anubhuti Kashyap
  • Ashutosh Pathak
  • Nimpee Kaul
  • Nikhil Puri
  • Rohit Sharma
  • Albert Lewis
  • Vikas Dwivedi
Macromedia
  • I. V. Nagendra
  • Victor Grigorieff
  • Vidya Murti
  • Lauren Park
  • Ramanarayanan Krishnaiyer
  • Susan Lally
  • Kari White
  • William Taylor
  • Manish Jethani
Yahoo! Bangalore
  • Vijay Ramachandran
  • Sapna Chandiramani
  • Raghuram BK
  • Hemang
Mixercast
  • Adarbad Master
Allies
  • Abdul Qaiyoom (friend, mentor and brother)

I need X to do Y — Syndrome

Most of us have or have had this syndrome “I need X to do Y”.

  • I need to join X course to learn Y
  • I need to X training to start doing Y project
  • I need a Laptop to start programming Python; Desktop doesn’t make me productive
  • I need an iPhone to start learning iOS programming; Simulator doesn’t make it feel real
  • I need to join Gym to workout; Workout at home doesn’t work :-)

Get over with it this syndrome:

  • Start learning/doing as soon as you get curious about anything, we don’t have to wait to do X to start doing Y by ourself.
  • We can always do X, but who is stopping us from starting with Y?
  • Wouldn’t it be better to get our hands dirty and try to learn more about Y by ourselves?

Eventually we have to do it by ourselves, doesn’t matter if we do X or not. It is more fun and engaging when we do Y by ourself; it is also a litmus test, if we really want to do Y.

Discipline and Passion matters. I wish, I had more of these in me.

Illusory Superiority

Illusory superiority is a topic of psychology, and it is considered to be one of many positive illusions relating to self.

I am not a psychologist. This blog post is based on my observations about this topic in context of coginitive tasks and something highlighted by Dunning-Kruger effect  (Research - PDF).

In my experience, if the culture of place, we live or work doesn’t provide enough challenges and competiton (validations), it’s so easy to get dilusional about our actual competence and  have illusory superiority.

In my own experience, we stop learning and improving once we get to a certain level (in an organisation). We think, we know what we are supposed to. We think, we are great or good enough for tasks in hand or in job?  I believe, these are symptoms when we start living with “Illusory Superiority” or “Distorted Reality” or “Cognitive Bias”.

One of many ways, I avoid to have this distorted view of reality or illusory superiority or coginitive bias is by looking beyond the boundaries of my organisation/city/country. I look up to great people in community at large, places (great companies) and practices. I try hard to follow the gurus and be like them.

Another way is to think like, ‘I am a software-developer/technologist and I work at X place/company’ NOT ‘I am a software-developer/technologist in X place/company’.

The difference between these two statements is, former makes me live in actual reality, and look beyond and place myself in larger community). Latter might make me live with distorted/percieved reality, and place myself in a smaller community (organisation, place, country).

As a leader/mentor, we need to challenge and help our team so that they keep living in reality. We have to do it, carefully, without affecting their self-confidence.

Thoughts: Open Standards and Technology for Movie Rental Business

I have been thinking about open-standards for movie-rental business. I searched to find about such standards but I couldn’t locate. Do you know of any?

Basically, a set of specifications/protocols which can be implemented by different players in movie-rental chain. Players include studios, distributor, application-developers, portals, et. al.

Rough thoughts:

  • A studio/distributor implements this specification/protocol and exposes API  for metadata/streaming(or playback)/file-access from their own server
  • Third party developers use the API to to pull metadata and play the content
  • Third party developers can charge the user and split the revenue with content owner
  • Or, studios/distributors can enable payment-gatway APIs as part of their offering
  • Content is always played directly from studio/distributor’s server
  • Studio/distributor have total control over their assets and also charge based on subscription/per-access
This would solve many problems (billing, stats, etc.), however, there would be concerns:
  • someone (end-user, third-party developer) might try to cache/save streams as file and distribute
  • and other concerns?
Once we have specifications and protocols in place – a stack using open-source technologies can be built as template, and made available so that everyone in chain can use/customize it to build their part.
I wanted to talk about it on twitter but 140 chars were too short to express my thoughts. Anyway, it’s good to have a blog post in place.
Please share your views.

Tata Photon+

I got Tata Photon+ mobile broadband connection during 2010, it worked well initially for a month or two.I can notice, their services have been degrading since then (late 2010).

Connectivity is not an issue, but download speed and latency.

A recent test results done on June 6, 2011
Tata Photon+ Speed Test 1 against Delhi Server Tata Photon+ Speed Test Results - Mumbai Server

We all know, most of marketing/advertisements campaigns are big lies.  There is big disconnect between the idea/dream they show and the reality.

In the case of Tata Photon+, they advertise about giving ‘up to 3.1 mbps’ download speed BUT I am yet to get 1 mbps consistently for an hour, leave alone days.

I guess, this is location specific. Places like Kanpur and other cities in UPE are not given enough of importance (network infrastructure and attention)?

Whenever I complain to Tata Photon Customer Support, someone visits, tests using speedtest.net against Delhi/Mumbai servers, and shows me test results (skewed?) which is generally in range of 600 kbps to 1.2 mbps.

When I show him results of tests done against servers in USA and Europe, they would argue  - which reflects their ignorance about technology and terminology (ping, latency, etc.)

Yesterday, I filed another complaint over phone. I got a call asking if I was in front of computer, I said “No, but I would be in couple of hours and tomorrow”. After couple of hours, I got a SMS suggesting my complaint-ticket had been resolved and marked as closed. Really? No one visited me.

I filed another complaint using web-site, got around 10+ calls within 12 hours. All of them asking same question “What’s problem sir”. I don’t understand, why didn’t these guys look at their CRM and read the details (which included the speedtest.net test results)?

Anyway, one of those guys (from some Tata hired agency) visited me today. He repeated the same process of testing against two Indian servers using speedtest.net. This time, he got lucky speed results showed around 1 mbps agaisnt Delhi/Mumbai server. I requested him to visit again tomorrow in afternoon and perhaps at different location.

During middle of meeting, this fellow stood up and walked out. I followed him to ask what happened?

He misbehaved by saying “I heard enough, I am going. That’s all we can do”.

I felt offended, I asked about his details, he denied giving by saying “Do whatever you can”. He left ignoring me.

I feel bad as customer, and also because I have been a Tata employee. I had never expected, one of Tata companies would do such things i.e. poor service and worst customer support (not at phone, but at ground level – those visiting agents).

I feel, I have wasted so many hours talking, thinking and complaining. No one wants to listen and do anything.

Updates:

  • June 24, 2011: I found Tata Photon very slow at my residence, hence filed a fresh complaint (requested that someone should visit me on Sunday at my residence to test speed in that area) via phone. CSR said, they don’t work on Sunday, I said – I can be available on weekdays provided an appointment is taken.
  • June 25, 2011: I received two calls from Tata Photon support team. In both calls, I was asked same question “what is problem, sir?” with one difference, in latter call I was told that they can visit me on Sunday
  • June 26, 2011: I got a call, where I was asked same  and some more questions:
    • What is problem, Sir?
    • Did you buy device with warranty?
    • What speed do you get?

    I told them, “I am happy with the device but not with the signal and speed in this area (my residence), hence needed someone to visit me and test speed here”. They asked me to go to Tata Photon centre, around 8 kms from my place. I asked, “how can they test issues of this area in different area?”.

    They threw another bomb by saying, a fee( INR 75) needs to be paid by customer, if he/she wants technical-support-engineer to visit customer’s place?

    I got upset and reminded that this is mobile-broadband. Isn’t it their responsibility to make sure connection signal and quality is good in all areas?

    Anyway, that was new, I had not paid such fee earlier.

    I asked, when did they start charging? She said, “Yesterday”. I reminded her, I filed complaint day before yesterday. She said, it has been started on June 20, 2011.

    I asked her to pass the call to her senior, who ended up saying the same thing. I told them, the policy is ridiculous.

Why a customer has to pay extra to get service related issues checked/fixed? Isn’t customer already paying every month? Isn’t it Tata’s responsibility to provide services as they promise?

I have invested some money and time to get the device and connection; I can switch to different provider, but device might not be reusable unless someone buys it from me.

Once again, I am disappointed by Tata Tele’s services. I am going to move away from them and would not recommend Tata Tele’s services to my family and friends.

More Updates:

  • June 28, 2011: As an last attempt, I wrote an email to Tata Tele Services contact and also copied the same to UP East Nodal Officer.
  • June 29, 2011: I got a call from a senior Engineer, who visited me on the same day. During 3-4 hours long troubleshooting, he figured out the reason behind slow speed, which is, HSIA signals was not as strong as CDMA 1X, and some tower issues.He got an antenna installed, on the roof-top, and connected to my USB device. He promised to get a repeater installed during weekend, so that all devices at our place can get better quality signals.
    Once antenna was installed, and some augmentation was done in one of the towers, things improved a bit.

    He seemed a good professional and knew the stuff. He earned my respect. I learnt, good guys are very overloaded because someo of their peers don’t do their work properly :-)

  • July 2, 2011: Two Tata Photon smart junior-engineers visited and installed a repeater at our house. The senior engineer kept his word, he earned more respect.I can feel the difference now; Two different tests during last 5 hours have given very positive results, as shown below:

    Tata Photon Speed Test Tata Photon+ Speed Test Result

    Tata Photon+ Speed Test using 2Wire.com

    Once again, I gave my feedback about service and the misbehaviour by one of their peers. I am sure, the good-guys would fix things by putting peer pressure and leading by examples.

    As far as fee for visit is concerned, I was told by one of the engineers, it is for the cases where customer’s device or computer is found to be faulty, not the service. I wonder, why I was not told the same earlier during the call, which made me upset?

    I am going to wait for couple of days. If I get consistently better quality speed, I would strike out the line (about not recommending) above. Anyways, there are some issues with Tata Photon+ customer support and service, which would need to fix, so that all issues can be resolved without any escalation.

    Tip: Choose HSIA from network-settings of Tata Photon+ dialer, this would force modem to use to HSIA enabled towers/frequencies and would avoid using CDMA 1X.

A Developer’s Open Letter to RIM

Jamie Murai has written an open letter to RIM, the company behind Blackberry and Playbook. Jamie talks about his experience of setting up development environment for Playbook application development.

It seems, RIM has failed to attract developers, the credit goes to broken development process and tool-chain. One has to spend good amount of time (and money?) setting up development environment, building application and deploying the same to marketplaces.

Why would developers bother looking at Playbook development, when they have better options (iOS and Google Android), where  development, deployment and monetization is relatively very-very simpler.

Developer usability is very important. Any company that relies on developer community/ecosystem for their growth, should take some lessons from Jamie Murai’s open-letter, which enlists some important points/issues.

Read Jamie Murai’s Open Letter To RIM’s Developer Relations.

Professional Responsibility and Ethics

I would have spent hundreds of hours talking, about professional responsibility, craftsmanship and ethics, to my team. What you would read below, is a summarised version of the same.

If I sign up for something (a job, a project or something else), I am going to do it with responsibility. If I develop disliking for job/project at any point of time, I am going to:

  • reflect (validate, find causes/solutions)
  • communicate promptly and proactively all the times
  • challenge myself to keep myself motivated
  • try changing things around for better
  • find responsible exit strategy, if there is no hope

We live in free country, there is no reason to do wrong, like:

  • being dishonest with myself and others
  • doing anything (moonlighting, sharing confidential information, etc.)
  • being irresponsible towards my work, hence often repeat mistakes which cause loss to my employer/customer
  • being irresponsible towards, in general

Let me give some examples of wrong-doings, based on my experiences:

  • I lie (wrong reasons) while quitting the job
  • I do something, which I agreed not to do, for the sake of extra money
  • I don't spend enough time figuring out solutions of problem, instead I start running away from problems.
  • I don't communicate properly
  • I assume and judge based on rumours/gossips/assumptions
  • I quit without giving any notice and expect my employer to give me all certificates and positive reference
  • I request to be relieved from my duties without serving a required notice period. I promise buy out (i.e. pay money back to company/customer), which I never do
  • I take some days off from work but I never return back to work; I don't communicate and keep my employer posted on status
  • Above all, my actions are irresponsible, unprofessional and unethical

We all make mistakes. If I made one (wrong-doing) intentionally, it's not good. If I made one unintentionally, later realized it as a mistake, however, I keep repeating, what could be worse than this?

No one is perfect in this world, neither is the company/customer I work with nor I am. However, we can work together despite all these imperfections without doing anything wrong (ethically, professionally). There is always a right option, thankfully.

Good communication, at all the times, always help us doing things right and avoiding wrong ones.

I am not sure, if I could express what I want to say; I hope you can understand what I mean.

Please leave your comment and feel free to correct me, if I am wrong somewhere. I am always open to learn about different perspectives and improve myself.

List of Indian Online Shopping Websites (Stores)

Everyday I come to know about a new online shopping website (store) from/for India. I have been using some sites from following list:

  • Infibeam

    book store, electronic, toys, computers, lcd monitors (benq, acer), mobile phones, music, movies and gifts.

  • FlipKart

    book store, mobile phones, music, movies and gift vouchers.

  • ITDepot

    computers, laptops, electronic, accessories, computer hardware, laptop bags, etc. It also hosts stores for Belkin, Logitech, etc.

  • Gadgets.in

    computer, electronic, laptop, wires, connectors, cables, laptop accessories, etc.

  • Pringoo

    t-shirts, mugs, stickers, custom printing and corporate gifts.

  • InkFruit

    t-shirts and mugs.

  • 20North

    imported consumer items. This site would calculate custom duty and shipping cost. If you want convenience of getting things (electronic, computer and other things) from USA and don't want to deal with custom and shipping.

  • Rediff

    One of the oldest online stores in India, it hosts stores for different brands. You can pretty much get most of things (books, electronics, movies, computer hardware and accessories) here.

I would keep updating this post to include more stores, as and when I use or get to know any. BTW! Infibeam accepts Paypal, so that's one of the reasons, it's at top of my list .

Disclaimer: I have only used Infibeam, FlipKart, Pringoo, Gadgets.in and Rediff (long time back). Please understand things before you use any of these sites and please don't blame me, if something goes wrong :-)

Eclipse Plugins

Some Eclipse plugins, I use (with Eclipse Classic SDK), are:

There are bunch of plugins for network monitoring and debugging, don’t remember their names. BTW! I have got two separate installations (32bit Carbon and 64bit Cocoa) of Eclipse. I hope, Adobe would port Flex/Flash Builder to work with 64bit and Cocoa.

Reliable and Fast VPS Hosting in India

Web Hosting in India (with VSNL, Tata, etc) has not been affordable for most of us (startups, bloggers, small-medium-enterprises).  Hence, for years, we have been hosting our data and application on shared and dedicated servers outside of India for different reasons (cost, availability, uptime, etc), but at the cost of higher latency (slow speed/performance).

Fortunately, E2E Networks, a startup by Tarun Dua provides very reliable, fast and less expensive hosting (VPS and Dedicated Servers) services in India. All your data/applications is hosted securely in India and you get unbelievable low latency.

Check out some of the sites, which are running on E2ENetworks:

Check out various plans/packages and you would be impressed with the pricing, it’s really affordable.

Disclaimer: Tarun Dua is a friend of mine and ex-colleague (Mixercast and Yahoo!). He is known for his knowledge and experience in data-centre, bandwidth, performance, scalability and servers. Whatever, I have written above is completely my own view based on my experience with E2E Networks. My company is planning to use E2E Networks’ services for our Indian customers.

Happy New Year (2010)

Happy New Year to everyone, hope this year would bring more happiness and success in your personal and professional life. I also hope, a lot of problems in this world would be solved and make everyone (including animals, humans, trees, et al.) life easier and better.

New year (2010) started some ten days back, I am writing this post now? I can say, I have got lazy when it comes to blogging. It’s not that I don’t want to write, perhaps, I think too much before posting anything. There would be at least ten different posts in draft mode, I never posted those because I am not sure, those make any sense.

Anyway, many good things happened last year (2009) including my marriage. I am very hopeful that more good thing would happen in this new year (2010).

Last two years, I have been most inactive in Adobe Flash Platform community and social-media (blogging, etc).  I know, I would bounce back because I love to work on Adobe Flash Platform (specially actionscript), share what I do and help others. We all go through different phases in our life, for me it’s entrepreneurship where I am spending more time on things which would enable us to do great things in future.

Our company is doing very well, we have been focused on many things, specially a different culture, that would enable us to do great things in future, hopefully starting this year. We are happy that we have got very smart and nice individuals in our team, which makes us a great team.

As usual, I am always looking for smart developers (web and flash-platform), who can join us and be part of our journey. We are working on some nice projects and have plans for interesting products, I would surely need more passionate and smart people in my team.

For last many years, I have had new-year resolutions but this year my resolution is to get better at everything I do, that includes my health.

Once again, happy new year to everyone.

BSNL 3G configuration – new access point name

It seems BSNL secretly changed the 3G access-point details around couple of weeks back, so my 3g connection stopped working. I looked over internet to figure out the latest configuration details, I couldn’t locate one.

I talked to BSNL 3G technical guys in Kanpur and to my surprise, most of them were also not aware of the change. Thankfully, one of the guys from BSNL Bangalore office, confirmed the latest access-point details, as shown below:

Access point name: gprsnorth.cellone.in bsnlnet

In case you are wondering, what all other changed, that’s it. JFYI! Old access-point name was gprsnorth3g.bsnlmobile.in, which doesn’t work anymore.

So if you have been unable to use BSNL 3G during last couple of weeks, perhaps new access-point name can work for you.

I am not sure, if there are different access-point name for different parts of country (north, south, east, west)?