Category Archives: India

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.

RIP, Kenneth Gonsalves “KG” (1953 — 2012)

Kenneth Gonsalves(Image Courtesy: Linux Bangalore (foss.in))

Kenneth Gonsalves, a champion in Indian (NRC)FOSS, Python and Django community passed away on August 3, 2012. Kenneth’s presence would be hugely missed in the community.

In 2008, Tarun Dua introduced me to Kenneth. I interacted with him at various occasions about NRCFOSS and general stuff. I was very inspired to see his contributions, specially some of his open-source projects.

While checking out NRCFOSS website today, I came to know about this sad news.

May his soul rest in peace.

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)

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.

Internship Opportunities @ Allies

We have been working on some exciting stuff for over last three years, we want to take that to next  level. We also have some crazy and cool ideas for new products/saas, we have got enough details figured out to get started.

We want some smart interns to work with us during this summer or longer (perhaps six months or full-time :-) ) in any or all of following:

  • Web Development (goal: build new products or extend existing products)
  • Mobile (goal: turn our ideas into reality by building some cools apps and games for iPhone, Android and other mobile-devices)
  • Flash Platform (goal: build some cool applications for our existing project)

Summer vacation has started in most of the colleges in India; Some passionate students would want to do something more useful during this time.  If you are one of them, why don’t you get in touch with us?

BTW! We are always looking to hire smart and passionate designers and developers for our team. If you are interested into a full-time position, please let me know.

TEDx in Kanpur – TEDxIITKanpur

Entrepreneurship Cell (E-Cell), at IIT Kanpur, is organising TEDxIITKanpur event on March 12, 2011. This is the first event of it’s kind, and I hope we would have more of those (TEDx, BarCamp, DevCamp, etc.) in Kanpur (within IITK campus or outside).

Our company (Allies Interactive Services) is honoured to contribute as design sponsor of TEDxIITKanpur, and hopefully other events organized by E-Cell, IIT Kanpur.

Adobe Flash Platform Summit 2010

One more day to go for Adobe Flash Platform Summit 2010, I am very excited about this event because of so many good sessions and my team has been busy building some cool stuff using web-standards and lamp-stack.

If you are going to be around, let’s catch up.

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 :-)

Where is Adobe Store for India?

Adobe is yet to launch online store for India. More than four years back, I wrote about this issue..

I have changed my work-flow to introduce more and more open-source tools. However, sometimes I have to use Adobe Flash Authoring tool and Flash Builder for some projects.

I hope, Adobe would soon figure out a way to launch an online store in India. I am yet to understand what has been holding Adobe from doing that, I am assuming something with taxes or government policies, if not Adobe’s intentions?

BTW! Some face problems in USA also, check out what Tariq has gone through today, while buying something from Adobe Store.

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.

HR and Payroll for small companies in India

Running a company in India is not an easy task, not because you don’t know what you are good at. One has to know a lot more to do things – laws, acts and statutory requirements. It’s easy for anyone with just technical background to make mistakes (i.e. unintentionally not being able to follow things) unless one is surrounded by people who are either domain-experts or professionals.

For last one year, I have been spending a lot of time reading about basics of accounting, acts, laws and such things. Thankfully, there are some good resources (listed below) which proved super useful to anyone like me (technical guys with hardly any background in accounting, laws, etc). I am listing some websites (forums) below, which really helped me a lot.

Though I missed doing things (programming, development, flash/flex, etc), I love to do, during last one year. But I realize, as an entrepreneur, I would have to learn things sooner or later. I hope, in long term I would feel it was worth spending time (almost an year).

(If you are interested in more resource, keep looking at my delicious bookmarks.)

Anyway, let’s talk about things which are related to the subject of this post.

Towards an attempt to be more organized and productive, we started looking at various software/SaaS options for accounting, HR and Payroll. In a small company like ours, which is located in a city where it’s hard to find many good consultants and professionals in these domains, SaaS might be super useful.

At first, we thought of using and customizing some opensource software like openerp for our requirements. But we know, we don’t have domain experts in these areas (accounting, hr, payroll, etc), hence can not keep changing the software the various compliance and statutory requirements by law/government. On the other hand, the total cost (time, money, etc) of ownership for such things is lot more. We find there is more value to use professional services offered in the form of SaaS . That would allow us to focus on things, we should be i.e. innovating, doing great work, building great team and providing great services to our clients.

We are trying to move to a smart SaaS that helps with our HR and Payroll stuff. I have been playing with following websites that offer SaaS for Indian companies.

There are other companies but they don’t allow you to quickly signup and check out their services, before you can make a decision.

I also found one interesting software (windows desktop application), it’s not expensive and actually allows most of things for small companies like ours. The only issue I see, it’s desktop based  and requires windows.

I was expecting Zoho might have payroll solution, it seems they are still working on it (I got a confirmation via email). Zoho seems to have HR (HRM, HRIS) stuff:

After spending a lot of time during last week checking out and playing with various services/software (some listed above). I realize,  greytip is the most mature, flexible and smart solution but user-interface in greytip can be improved a lot.

On the other hand, evetan (thanks to Swaroop for pointing me to it) seems to have a simple user-interface and workflow. It can be improved a lot too while keeping the simplicity.

Hopefully, I would choose one very soon and start using it for our company. If I get some time, I would love to post a detailed comparison of these SaaS/Software (listed above).

Entrepreneurship Resources – India

These are some of the sites from my list, I visit quite often:

I have more sites bookmarked in my delicious, but I want to create a list and put it here just for an exercise. It seems due to productivity tools, I hardly remember website URLs or names. So keep watching this space, you might find more links over the time.