Tag Archives: kanpur

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.

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.

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 and I

It appears to me (and perhaps others), I have distanced myself from Adobe Flash Platform during last couple of years. Not because I don’t like it, actually I love it, rather due to some other priorities here at our company, which does lot more (web-standards and design) than flash/flex stuff.

All this time, I have been keeping very low profile in flash-platform community, literally not talking about anything. I feel bad about it, I don’t know ‘why’.

I have done some trivial stuff (video players, flashlite and air apps) but nothing very cool or useful to everyone else.

My to-do list contains a long-list of applications targeted towards Adobe Flash Platform (desktop and other devices), I am supposed to do; Considering, my plate is full with all other responsibilities, I am not spending even 1/4th of the time writing actionscript.

Meanwhile, I have tried to encourage my team to learn actionscript and flex-framework. I even tried to hire some flash (or flex?) developers. I even managed to hire one flex developer last year.

Unfortunately, this person left the company as soon as when it was time to contribute back after 6 months training (no contribution period). That was big set back, a discouragement to me; I stopped looking for Flash/Flex developers.

I keep on promising myself, that I would do these applications; I keep on forgiving myself when I am not getting those done.

Anyway, there is still hope, I would building applications the on language (ActionScript), I am very good at. There is still hope, this blog would have more posts related to Adobe Flash Platform.

Entrepreneurship session at IIT Kanpur

Entrepreneurship Cell (E-Cell) team at IIT Kanpur invited me to talk about “idea to business-plan” to some students (budding entrepreneurs). I ended up speaking about different things, hopefully I covered what they were looking for.

I mostly iterated what successful leaders, entrepreneurs and businessman have shared over the years.

A very brief and high level outline of my talk:

  • started session with Derek Sivers‘ Ted talk “How to start a movement
    • an entrepreneur is seen as half-naked guy who is dancing alone, different from crowd, in Indian society.
    • it takes courage to start something while you have choice to work for the best companies
    • there would be skeptics but don’t worry about that.
  • what it takes to be an entrepreneur?
    • get going and get your feet wet, enjoy challenges, trust your instincts, get a good mentor, learn from experiences, learn from others)
    • be prepared for uncertainty, rapid growth, quick and drastic changes, limited resources and resource conservation
    • respect time, short cycles and more results
  • some stories
  • YouTube: first in solving problem but very late in figuring out business-model
  • Flickr: their idea and usefulness
  • Bulkr: how Prakaz came up with a useful product, while he is/was in job. Build something that you would use
  • Directi: about two brothers who have built a great company with little or no funding
  • Allies: why we got started, how we do some things, some pains and gains
  • some books
    • Blink: instinct and intuition. what customers do? how they do? avoiding asking what they want because human preferences are unstable
    • The Tipping Point: why certain ideas tip
    • ReWork: a new way of thinking business
    • Freemium: business model. why freemium works? examples: google-apps, e-books, etc.
  • some of my experiences
    • funding: bootstrap on your own, if you can. or take as less as you can from outside. retain control and ownership. go to someone who can not only give you money but also be your mentor
    • hiring: difficult to attract smart folks. share your ideas/vision. give equity instead of high salaries
    • operations: equally important. be ready to take care of things so that your team can execute your ideas
    • challenges: getting ideas executed, getting customers, getting a good team, getting a good accountant, etc.
    • sales/marketing: various market-places, complicated tender process, social-media, word-of-mouth, freemium
    • retaining customers: commitment, think of them before your own personal gains, good process, good support
  • importance of connections
    • keep in touch with everyone you know or would know
    • go and enjoy parties (twitter, linkedin, facebook)
    • follow gurus and interact with them over social-networks (twitter, facebook, linkedin)
    • go out, help others and get helped

After session, couple of teams discussed their ideas with me and wanted my thoughts. I shared what I knew, hope I could be of some help.

Thanks to entire IITK E-Cell team for inviting and giving me an opportunity to share some of things I know. It feels great to give back.

I already know, I need to get better speaking on stage. With every opportunity and effort, I am getting better. Hopefully, I can engage audience and be entertaining in coming years.

I would hopefully elaborate some these items, when I feel like. I am posted these as a record/note to myself, before I forget what I talked about :-)

Cities and Ambition – My Experience

Paul Graham wrote a nice essay titled “Cities and Ambition”. When I read it, I had already returned to Kanpur (my hometown), I took the essay in slightly different manner i.e. I challenged it and motivated myself by thinking, I can do great stuff from this city.

Just after one year or little more, I am in agreement with that essay. I realize, how a good city (and people there) matter in whatever you do.

At work, I ended spending most of time dealing with personnel issues and trying to mentor about obvious things (in development and programming).

Outside of work, I don’t feel like going out anywhere, not even walking on streets. I just don’t like the attitude, psyche and habits of people here. I have, slowly, stopped doing all activities – photography, bike-rides, blogging, participation-in-events, exercising, etc. I am trying to understand the reason, I imagine it could be because of lack of motivation or I am too busy trying to do a few things.

Another important thing, it doesn’t matter, who is holding what position, or how much rich one is, or what is someone’s background – most of them don’t know the basic etiquette and manners (traffic, talking, respecting, eating, etc). Everyone appears to be selfish, who just cares about himself and his things (house, car, job, etc). No one bothers to care about other people and city.

I don’t know, I can change others but I have kept myself the way I have been i.e. I still avoid throwing garbage on streets, spitting anywhere and doing other bad things, so common here in Kanpur.

Unfortunately, children inherit these bad habits/values from their elders, and are not able to figure out that most of inherited values are not good.

The worst thing in this city is the kind of attention a girl/woman gets from males (from 7 yrs to 80+ yrs). It’s weird to see the bad treatment given by males to females almost anywhere (roads, shops, cafe, etc). One could easily notice these things. Hard to imagine, how much a female-of-kanpur has to go through and tolerate.

It’s sad, but true, today whatever Kanpur is because of it’s people. I am not complaining here; I am just writing what I notice – Kanpur is not a good city. It could have been better or remained better (as it was some decades back), if people were better. We (Kanpurites) deserve whatever (bad culture, bad public infrastructure, etc) we have now.

The day, we start changing our attitude and habits, we would see the change.

Meanwhile, I am going to work hard to be what I am, if I can’t get better. Things said above, are trying hard to change me, directly and indirectly. Each and every moment of the day remind me of my ambition and vision, I would not let anything stop me from doing it. If It takes me to move out of the city, I am now ready to do that too.

Apple India: Broken Service Process

In India, Apple service doesn’t work well. As far as I know, most of Apple customers in India end up paying more to purchase the same products than someone in USA or other countries.

Why are we treated as second class citizens?

Anyway, the current Apple support process in India seems to be:-

  1. Register service-request with Apple India over phone
  2. Take your Apple device to nearest apple-authorised service-provider (AASP)
  3. Give the case-id given by Apple India Support(in step #1 above) to AASP
  4. AASP would run the diagnostic tests, if required, get the parts and fix things.

You might think, that’s a nice process and should work fine?

There are some issues in above process:-

  • Apple India might not register your request and can get away by saying your hardware is overused and not covered in warranty anymore. Unless you are confident and technical enough to explain them things. Not everyone can do that.
  • Not all cities have any authorised service-providers
  • AASP might not be trained enough to deal things as per Apple standards.
  • AASP might have broken process within their organisations, i.e. it takes them days to get details/approvals from their own headquarters and bosses.
  • AASP might miss a step or two required before they can order the parts. If they do it, later Apple makes their life miserable by asking many questions. Eventually a customer suffers.

My recent experience with Apple support process has not been good. Continue reading

BarCamp Kanpur

I still remember the day, when Jon Boutelle shared his idea of organizing first BarCamp in India (i.e. New Delhi) and wanted to know, if we (Manish Jethani and I) can connect him to someone at Adobe Noida for venue. Then the first BarCampBangalore, how idea started and how some of us met initially to plan, though I had to drop out just before event due to health reasons.

I must say, I have been fortunate to be part of some of the first events in India, be it Bangalore or Pune.

I really miss events like BarCamp in Kanpur, hence been planning to organize BarCampKanpur, if I can find more like-minded people and collaborate with them. Last year, I sent an email to couple of mailing-lists (including BarCampBangalore) to share the idea and request contacts, if any, who can help us.

Thanks to all those who sent me offline emails and shared the contacts from their connections. I tried to reach out couple of those but it didn’t work out. I couldn’t really follow up a lot.

Today, I decided to create wiki-page for BarCampKanpur and a google-group (mostly for mailing-list purpose for planners and volunteers). Following are the details:

I am very positive, we would soon have some volunteers to plan and organize the event. Venue should not be problem, I can manage to get one easily for first event and perhaps later.

Once we have some volunteers, we plan to have some meetup in local cafes or anywhere to talk about things (get to know each other, plan the event, share the responsibilities, etc).

Please spread the word and participate, if you can.

Job Opening: Flash Platform Developer

We are looking for some smart Flash Platform Developers who can be part of our team in Allies Interactive Services Pvt. Ltd., Kanpur, U.P.

We are a design and development company in Kanpur, though we are small but we are ambitious and have a great vision.

I posted the details on Flex-India sometimes back, pasting the same (edited the typos and formatted) over here:-

I have been meaning to post this for sometime but thought would it be appropriate to do that here?

I am part of a small design and development shop in Kanpur, U.P. Where, we mostly do web development using FOSS, mainly LAMP.

I moved to kanpur around 10 months back with a desire to build a great Flash Platform Team that would work on non-trivial type service projects and some great product ideas.

I could now start doing it, after we have managed to fix a lot of issues mostly a nice office, a good culture and some projects and a product in pipeline.

I need an experienced Flash Platform developer in my team, who can help us to make our vision, desire and dreams a reality.

Since Kanpur is not a metro or fancy place to live, it takes more than just technical aptitude to be here. That is some more strong reason f.ex. A desire to be part of a growing team, desire to be close to family, desire to contribute in the development of IT ecosystem in North and/or a desire to prove, hell yeah we can do great stuff from anywhere, even cities like Kanpur :-)

If you think, you want to help me by being part of my team and understand what I meant above, please don’t hesitate to contact me on [abdul dot qabiz at gmail dot com] off-list i.e. Direct email to me, please don’t reply here on this list.

As far as job description goes, I have already given an idea. However, we are looking for someone who understands web very well that is HTTP and other standards. Fundamentally good at problem solving, the real world ones, ActionScript, Flex Framework, Adobe Flash Player and AIR fundamentals and APIs.

Of course, good experience that says about in your behalf. We would also talk to you so things would get clear, i.e. If we are match for each other.

If you want to know more about company, please check out http://www.alliesinteractive.com

What I am up to?

I feel like posting, what I have been doing, actually a lots of things on business side – hiring, finance, business-development, etc.

We are doing good in business, I believe, it’s because of our diversified service offerings and our team of talented designers and developers, who are agile, quick and fast learner.

A great culture is an important thing, in fact, it’s very important. That’s why, we have been very focused on building the same in our office here. When I look back, I see we have achieved things but there is a long way to go.

We are not perfect, for that matter, no one is. The good thing, we are aware of our limitations and strengths, hence, we are constantly working on it. I hope, a constant effort would improve things day by day.

We are planning to have some more people in our team, so I have been interviewing developers from different parts of country. We acknowledge, it’s hard to get smart guys stay in Kanpur or get developers from outside of city. But we think, if we share our vision and what we want to do and have been doing, a lot of developers do see things differently, then location becomes secondary thing.

BTW! Kanpur is not as great place to live as Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai, etc are. But it does have good things – less hectic life, earning/expenses ratio is higher here, etc.

According to Paul Graham’s essay, bad-location is/could-be one of reasons for startups’ failure. It is true, location does matter for many things (not just hiring), but we have chosen to be where we are now, and I think, we have figured out how to achieve things here, we are just getting better at it day by day. But yeah, we do miss things – events, barcamps, apple-store, crowd, talent, etc. Who knows, someday Kanpur would have all that and who knows, we might have played a good role in that process :-)

A lot of people have asked me, why I am not active lately in Adobe Flash Platform (i.e. Flash/Flex/AIR) stuff? Well, it’s different phase of life, where I am focusing on other things that would enable us to do a lot of great things that include stuff for Adobe Flash Platform.

I am also busy doing a good project, which does have some challenging work (web dev + flash platform). Also busy doing some hacking once in a while, which is trying to use technology to improve my productivity – like home media/filer server, vpn at office, boxee, etc.

We are looking for some smart guys – interaction-designers, flash-platform-developer and web-developer. If you know someone, who doesn’t not mind working from Kanpur, want to work on cool stuff, want to part of our team and help us achieving the visions/goals we have. Please let us know (abdul dot qabiz at gmail dot com). Thanks.

Apple Service – my experience

My macbook has started having problems now, after 29 months. It had some problems around an year back but I got it fixed at a local reseller more on personal terms than professional (via Apple Support).

Apple has great products but any great product without good service is of no use. Specially, now I am in a city where I would not find any Apple reseller or service-provider. I don’t want to travel to New Delhi or even Lucknow, there is no certainty that things would be done in time or would be done at all. I am not sure, if local service-providers are trained enough to do quality service?

Apple needs it’s own centers.

Anyway, it seems Apple is yet to grow in India. Perhaps, they would, since their products are quite competitive with other brands in India.
BTW! My macbook might qualify for battery-extension program, but Apple tech support and customer relationship deny that. They say, your macbook is too old (29 months) and battery should be replaced, oh that means I am going to pay at least 4-5 K (INR)?

BTW! I am quite impressed to see HP’s support in Kanpur, if not India. They are amazing, we have got some 4-5 HP notebooks and it’s really impressive to see how HP has been good to us. They don’t even keep our notebooks, if hardware procurement is required and it might take days, they would rather call us as soon as hardware is available and replace things on spot. That’s nice thing, they really understand how important a notebook is to it’s owner.

I was avoiding to write about Apple Service, but I couldn’t resist specially after being denied to the support I am supposed to get, even when I explained them how hard it is to get service done here.

Available for consultancy, training and development

I am available for consultancy, training and development services. Following is the rough list of things, I can provide consultancy, training or development services for:-

  • ActionScript 1.0, 2.0, 3.0
  • Adobe Flash/Flex
  • Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR)
  • Training on Adobe RIA technologies
  • Architecture for RIA
  • Web Application Development
  • Design and Architecture
  • Development for LAMP
  • Integration Services for Flex/AIR with existing Web Apps
  • Development Setup for small teams
    • Subversion Version Control
    • Bug Tracking System (Trac, Wiki)
    • Training on Development Life Cycle
    • Backup Strategies
    • Development Sandbox Setup for RIA development

    JFYI! You can check out my linkedin profile to know more about me. I am based in India and have around ten (10) years of experience, during this period I have worked for Macromedia/Adobe, Yahoo!, Mixercast and TIS and worked as independent-consultant, freelancer, trainer and co-founder. I have been working on various technologies/platforms (some listed above).

    I am a programmer who enjoys solving users’ problems whatever it takes (technology is no constrain). Having said that, I am passionate about ActionScript/Flash/Flex/AIR and Web (in general) which happen to be my core competencies.

    PS: Do you think, this is a shameless sales pitch :-)

    Technorati tags: , , , , , , , , , ,,

    Whereabouts

    It’s almost two months, I have not posted anything here as well as on mailing-lists (flex and others).

    In case you are wondering, where am I? What I am up to? First of all, thanks for being concerned. I am doing well and currently taking a break while spending time with my family. This is the only such a long (a month or perhaps more) break in last five years, where I am taking time to be with my family. Even in summer of North India, which is not that pleasant compared to that of Pune/Bangalore, I am feeling good.

    I think, I need some more time to relax, but I wish I could do that. I have to get back to work and resume things.

    During this break, I am not away from programming, I am reading and sometimes writing code. I took break from IMs and emails, I would need to catch up with emails and online buddies when I get back.

    If you have sent an email to me and still waiting for response, hope you understand now and don’t mind the delay or no response from my side. Please accept my apologies.

    In the end, I would like to share my excitement about Adobe Flash Player 10, which would have some kick-ass features, that it rocks.