InfiBeam - Online Store for India

Infibeam is like Amazon for India, I am mostly interested in books and could find most of the books on Infibeam. There are some, which I believe they would import and ship to you.

Infibeam is shipping free anywhere in India, that's another good thing.

I have been buying books from Infibeam for sometime, so far experience has been good except one particular instance.

I ordered a book, everything went well and I was told within one or two week, book would be shipped. After waiting for a week or so, I get an email from Infibeam that since book is out of stock, they would not be able to ship it. I exchanged couple of emails with their staff, asking the reasons and how it should be - if you confirmed the order, you should deliver the book, otherwise you might loose some customers.

BTW! It has been more than a month, I believe, they are yet to refund the money for the order they could not complete :-)

Having said all (positive and negative experience), I feel, overall, it looks good to me. That one instance is out of 10, so I am going to continue trying them

Adobe Flash Builder as name - What I think

I just caught this news "Adobe Flash Builder instead of Adobe Flex Builder as a name for Gumbo" over AXNA.
I felt like writing my views on this i.e. renaming Adobe Flex Builder to Adobe Flash Builder for future releases. I kind of like it for reasons explained later.

I loved the move when, recently, Flash Platform was redefined. It brought a lot of clarity and removed the confusion built since Adobe (Macromedia) Flex was introduced.

A lot of people were confused and didn't really think that even though there were different development paradigm but all targeted to Flash Runtime(s). I have been using the term for sometime, even before Adobe redefined it to bring all these different technologies/tools, which targeted Flash Runtimes (Player, AIR, FlashLite), under it.

I think, sooner or later Flex SDK should be renamed so no such confusion develops further. Having consistency increases simplicity and clarity in understanding things, developing, learning, talking and building brand.

It would be nice to have one framework with many sub-frameworks targeting various different Flash Runtimes and development tools (Adobe Flash Authoring tool, Adobe Flash Builder, etc). We need consistency that leads to shorter learning curve and better development platform, eventually.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

BugQuash

BugQuash is a great initiative to bring Flex community together to contribute in various ways (bug filing, fixing, patching, etc) to OpenSource Flex SDK.

I am sure, you must have heard about last BugQuash which was organized last month, by Flex community members: Nate Beck and Marty Mickelson.

Hundreds of community members participated including me.

I submitted some patches, which are not big ones, but I got a lot of appreciation from teams within Adobe and other people from community. It suggests that even small contributions matter, hence I should be contributing more often.

Dave Story (VP Developer Tools, Adobe Systems) sent some pictures from one of the all-hands meeting, where BugQuash was discussed, where entire team, along with Dave, thanked to each contributor for their contributions over phone.

Thanks to everyone who organized and participated. It helped me to get started contributing, which I always wanted to do. I am going to try to contribute as often as I can.

image001.jpg
image002.jpg
image003.jpg

Update:Next BugQuash is happening on May 17, 2009. Check out BugQuash for more details.
Update: BugQuash on May 17, 2009 was successful and your truely submitted two patches :-)

Technorati Tags: , ,

Adobe Store is still not accessible

I need a Adobe Flash CS4 Professional upgrade license because some projects need to be updated. I can not order online from India. I really don't have time to seek a resellers help on this, I know it would take weeks to get the license.

I requested a friend in USA to buy it for me, he has been trying to do that but it seems Adobe store application, which is done in Flex, throws a lot of errors. A few things, which I have reported in past, like asking for exact address (line by line). In this case, I guess, store application requires the address even when you choose Paypal as payment option?

I don't have exact details in hand now, but I can see my friend has been having trouble buying Flash CS4 on Adobe store. I know this friend of mine, he is a developer himself and very good at things, so I know,he is doing right, I would rather say, store-application is not done well. He has recently helped me getting a FlexBuilder 3 upgrade license and he had problems even then. It took two days and various attempts, perhaps a phone call also, to get that license.

No wonder, why people blame Flash Platform for lack of usability and accessibility, most of the times it's the developers who don't implement things correctly and platform gets a bad name.

I have also started feeling, why can't stores have multiple options - I might want to choose simple html interface, if I am on mobile or slow connection?

Yet another frustration and my project is delayed by now. I could have bought license earlier, if I knew the requirements earlier.
I hope someday, Adobe and Apple would realize that they can help thousand of people like me, by just enabling online purchase, even if it takes order and makes me send cheque/bank-draft to them, if not credit-card/paypal integration.

I hope someday, these companies would realize that most of people in countries like India don't have access to real stores/resellers in their cities or states. Yes, I happen to live in a city where it's hard to get things, I have to travel, at least twelve hours (round-trip) for even simple purchase and with no certainty, I would get the stuff at the stores, whichever is there.

I hope, these companies help to reduce the piracy in India. I hope, these companies realize they can make people do the right by being more accessible to them.

I wonder, what is holding these companies? Is it sales guys who don't want to have an online store? Is someone getting some favors from resellers?

I don't get, why to have a middle man in this age, when an online store can enable a lot of users, not only buy but also have faster access to things.

I can not believe it's tax issue or things like that, it's lack of will to do. I am sure, there are other stores running well here in India.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

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 TV + Boxee.tv = Great Experience

I own an Apple TV for quite some time, I just loved the form factor of the device and figured out, it's really good stuff. I could see all the photographs, watch all podcasts/videos and listen most of music, more often on Apple TV than before.

As we all know, Apple builds innovative products but at the same time, it does suck by keeping it's platform very closed. Be it iPod, iPhone or Apple TV, it's just really hard to do anything except the ones Apple wants you to do.

Anyway, thanks to the great community of hackers, who spend hours figuring out things and building some great stuff. Some great hackers came up with various ideas to open the closed Apple TV, well initially it was physically opening up the box but later on smarter solutions appeared. Now it's so simple, one can patch (enable SSH and install some apps) Apple TV by using patchstick, it doesn't require you to open the box physically.

I can mount my USB disks and use keyboard/mouse in the patched Apple TV. Well that opens to a lot of possibilities.
With the simpler patching process, a lot of applications for Apple TV started appearing, one of such products is Boxee.tv, which is a media-center application. Of course, Boxee is available for all other platforms (Windows, GNU/Linux, OSX, etc) but I believe, it's the best companion of Apple TV like devices.

I have been having good time using Boxee on Apple TV. I can not only play all my media (pictures, videos, music) in much better way but also enjoy online stuff (music, videos, podcasts, pictures, etc), be it recommended by my friends in Boxee social network or various other channels/apps available on Boxee.

Boxee can download movie-subtitles and show with a great ease. It can also fetch a lot of metadata (covert-art, album-art, thumbnails, information, ratings, reviews, etc) for videos/music from various online databases (f.ex. IMDB, etc).

The latest version (still in testing: 0.9.9.5324 build) allows you to easily install various applications made for Boxee by community or Boxee developers?

I even noticed, Boxee can run applications that are based on Adobe Flash Platform, yeah Joost or MTV feeds/apps are Adobe Flash based.

The best thing, Boxee is based on XBMC, an open-source application. I think, it's worth writing a post about Boxee, hence I just did that. Boxee.tv rocks!!!

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Adobe Flash Player on devices

Last week, when I heard about JavaFX Mobile, I thought, why didn't Adobe make a move yet to push Flash Platform on devices?
Not too long ago, I was wondering about Adobe's plan for Mobile AIR.
We have recently heard some good news, I must say, some fantastic announcements:-

Adobe and Nokia made a right decision by setting up a fund, it's really important to have a good ecosystem of developers, designers and content-creators. The success of Adobe Flash Platform over the the years is because of this outstanding community of developers, designers and everyone who has been interested into the platform.
Though, I feel Adobe is little late on doing these. They should have been more aggressive. Some of my wishes, Adobe would:

  • Release some great tools for all platforms (not just Windows and OSX).
  • Provide a good documentation on best-practices, performance, etc
  • Some good reusable libraries, components, etc

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

AptOnCD - A very useful utility for Ubuntu

What is AptonCD?

APTonCD is a tool with a graphical interface which allows you to create one or more CDs or DVDs (you choose the type of media) with all of the packages you've downloaded via APT-GET or APTITUDE, creating a removable repository that you can use on other computers.
APTonCD will also allow you to automatically create media with all of your .deb packages located in one specific repository, so that you can install them into your computers without the need for an internet connection.

How are we using it?

We have started moving most of our machines to use Ubuntu as primary operating system. This time, we wanted to streamline installation process and make it easier, so that our system-admin, who doesn't know much about GNU/Linux can do things easily.

I documented most of the process on our internal wiki, I was wondering:

  • What would the easiest way to upgrade packages on new installations?
  • How can we save bandwidth consumed in upgrade process?
  • Importantly, how can we save time?

Now there were couple of options:

  • Set up a local apt-archive-mirror
  • Install via net-boot using local mirror.
  • Setup a local internet-proxy, which can cache things during first installation and serves cached data during further requests.

I am not an expert in GNU/Linux world, I have just basic knowledge and I am yet to learn a lot of things. Above options looked good to me, but I was not sure, I want to do all these (apt-mirror, etc) on our windows-server. Yes we are still using windows as server and we hope to replace with Linux server, after we are done moving all workstations.

I learnt about APTonCD while finding out an easier option for our requirements, I can say, APTonCD makes life lot easier. This is what I did:

  1. Installed Ubuntu
  2. Downloaded all latest updates using Update Manager
  3. Rebooted machine
  4. Installed APTonCD using sudo apt-get install aptoncd
  5. Installed LAMP using sudo tasksel install lamp-server
  6. Installed Likewise for Active Directory integration using sudo likewise-open
  7. Installed Subversion
  8. Replaced default Network Manager with WICD
  9. Installed many other packages
  10. Rebooted machine
  11. Configured likewise-open (i.e. joined AD domain)
  12. Configured all other (WICD, LAMP, etc)
  13. Launched APTonCD and created an ISO
  14. </ol>

    APTonCD ISO image is stored on our NAS. While setting a new box, we just skip #2 from above list and instead use APTonCD to restore the packages from ISO image.

    Now, we all understand, new updates keep coming every next day, how to keep machines updated in that case? Well, developers would be suggested to update, if they find it relevant. In any case, we would be doing update on each machine in scheduled way. On every Saturday, we would create a new APTonCD ISO image and use it on all other machines.

    I think, we could manage to save a lot of time and bandwidth without really getting into a lot of hassle as shown in first list of this post.

    I hope, you find APTonCD useful too. BTW! I think, APTonCD should work on other Debian based distros too, as said, I am no expert hence just can't confirm except my gut-feeling :-)

    Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Irresponsible News paper: iNext (by Jagran)

Yesterday, I was in Cafe Coffee Day with my brother and a friend from work. Two girls walked to us, with a camera in hand and id-cards hanging in their necks--suggesting they are journalists for iNext daily news-paper by Jagran.

They asked, if we (three of us) are professionals and would want to be photographed for an article on professionals. Initially, I was very reluctant because I hardly knew them and can't trust if they are really journalists. Anyway, my brother said, it's alright and they are from iNext by Jagran (he went on Jagran's image in India).

Anyway, today we noticed our photographs in iNext in a music-section. Where we are shown praising some music from some movie, honestly I never heard that song and about that movie.

In any case, this is totally wrong reporting/journalism and irresponsible act, where they are not only presenting false information but also lying to people. How irresponsible journalists can be and on top of that, how can a news-paper hire such lame people?

Since morning, I have been asked several times, it's irritating and I am upset. I have just written an email to editor of the iNext, let's see what he has to say.

Interviews on ActionScriptHero.org

Pablo "aSH" PARRADO of ActionScriptHero has been doing fantastic job of interviewing Flash Platform developers. It's great to see and read those interviews.

I was fortunate to get a chance to express my views and I thank Pablo for that.

I must say, it's really inspiring experience to read what all developers say.

Check out interviews at actionscripthero.org.

Technorati tags: , , , , ,