Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My Top 10 things of 2008

Today I got stuck in a barber shop for more than an hour - the last hair cut of 2008 eh - and ended up reading India Today's top 10 things of 2008. I got this brain wave for a list of my own top 10 events of 2008. 

10. Stealing my nephew (Achu's) cycle. I turned green this year ( partly inspired by my wife, partly by oil prices ) and thought now I will cycle my way around AECS Layout. Well cycle is here but the back wheel does not hold air. Have to fix it first thing in 2009 so we can use it.

9. Learnt how to change nappies, sterilize bottles, hold a baby, put him to sleep, feed him, entertain him - I can write a book !!

8. Worked on my first .NET project on Vista. No comments.

7. Got the shock of my life on the new modified 81 seaters in Sleeper class and a never ending journey from Bangalore to Calcutta and back with a demanding never-tiring-keep-entertaining-me 10 month old.

6. Watched Obama create history.

5. and my heart brimmed with pride seeing Chandrayaan take India to new levels.

4. Discovering 335E - the red volvo  bus for my daily commute and which in turn led me to Ulysses, War and peace, Anna Karenina, Big Bang, FountainHead, Atlas Shrugged, Alchemist, Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance, Kaffka on the shore...

3. The horror of bomb blasts, terror attacks culminating in Mumbai attack. I am getting my voter Id registered. I feel I should do more. 

2. Launching our start up - Apartment Adda, the first few nights when I could not sleep, the adrenaline rush when Apartment Adda went live, seeing unknown ip addresses on apache's logs - the last 3 months have been long tiring and worth every minute of it in richness of experience. 

1. The privilege to witness and hear my son's first cry and the wide open eyes looking into me. An unforgettable day when  we were bonded like never before by this little bundle of joy.

What an year it has been for me.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

IE gotcha - does not render row colors

My dynamic table rendered by an AJAX call had alternating row colors - which as expected rendered beautifully in all the major browsers ( except IE of course ). 

The row looked like this tr bgcolor="#EFEFEF"

I had to push the bgcolor into an inline style and then IE started showing the row color.

tr style="background-color:#EFEFEF"

Hope my IE posts get over, because to find every IE gotcha I spend quite a fair amount of my time. 

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Should I eat my humble pie now?

Ahem..Dravid has now scored a century. Perhaps he read my blog and got angry and wanted to prove a point. Anyway hats off to you Mr.Dravid. May India win.

But here is some statistics I painstakingly gathered  - The total runs scored by Dravid in the last 10 matches - in both the innings.

47 - V South Africa
24 - V Sri LAnka
46 - V Sri Lanka
78 - V Sri Lanka
56 - V Australia
39 - V Australia ( he did not bat the second innings though)
22 - V Australia
03 - V Australia
07 - V England
136 - V England ( only the 1st innings score )

I rest my case. 

It is time to retire - when you have scored a century. You have contributed immensely to Indian cricket. Scoring 10,000 runs is a major feat. You have delighted the world and us with your stroke play. But the time has come - let us see more Dravids emerging out - give them a chance.



Friday, December 19, 2008

IE will not render my dynamic table

And today I wasted an entire afternoon trying to figure out why IE will not render my dynamic table got from an AJAX call. And as usual all the other browsers were rendering the table without skipping a beat.

I stripped out everything till nothing was remaining in the table and still IE will not render the table. 

Finally I found out the culprit. I did not have a tbody tag. UGhhhh. 

Should I send a bill to Bill for all the wasted hours because of this inconsistent browser?


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Freebie alert - ajax loader generator

I did not expect that such a thing will exist - but it does exist. You can customize your ajax loader circle here - http://www.ajaxload.info/ .

Here are some samples ( which blogger is converting to png - so you will not be able to see the gif animation )

 





Javascript : Attaching to an event with a function that takes parameters

Thanks to IE refusing to play well on a dynamically loaded table with controls - I am learning new things.

Here is how to attach a function which takes parameters to a control.

document.getElementById('button').onclick=new Function("some_function('parameter')");

God bless IE. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

another Gotcha - adding event to dynamically added control

This time the culprits were Chrome and IE.

The table I dynamically pulled had a select all button. But the onclick was never getting fired. The work around was quite simple. I had to attach the event to the control once again. Then the onclick event worked.

Attaching the event is quite simple. 

document.getElementById('button').onclick = functionName;


IE 7 does not show the table header - THEAD on AJAX call

I would have spent more than an hour breaking my head with IE. 

Problem : I have a table which is fetched using AJAX. Now this table has a thead with header contents and rendered fine in all the browsers except IE. 

My code looked something like this 
<table>
<thead>
<th>Name</th>
<th>Age</th>
</thead>
<tbody>

Solution :  There should be a TR within the THEAD. Now the header started showing fine after the ajax call. The funny thing is - IE rendered it fine when this table was part of the page. When I moved it to be rendered from an AJAXy call this problem surfaced. 

Now the code looks like this.
<table>
<thead>
<tr>
<th>Name</th>
<th>Age</th>
</tr>
</thead>
<tbody>

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Server issues but I am sticking with my hosting provider.

It was a harrowing time yesterday. My virtual hosting provider had network issues and so ApartmentAdda was down for 1 hour 44 minutes. First time in it's short history that it has been unreachable. I discovered it after an hour and quickly changed the dns settings to point to a page that had please be patient - we are facing network issues message.

It seems they had a hardware fault in one of their main switches and the  hazaar virtual hosts became unaccessible. Wondering who the service provider is - it is eapps.com.

I always wanted to write about them - but let me do it now. Perhaps they are getting a bad rap everywhere because of the downtime they had and their 9999 something went for a toss because of yesterday's down time. But I will stick to them. They are good. 

Here is why : They are prompt and whoever I talked to is knowledgeable. Either they can call you ( yes I am in India and they use skype or something ), or you can chat with them - and they answer  you any time of the day. Also the eapps support forum is pretty exhaustive and well written. Most of the set up issues can be resolved by going through their forums. 

So if you are wondering whether to go with eapps - do try them out. They have not paid me anything for this post btw :)




Monday, December 15, 2008

and I give Dravid Man of the Match award

The man-of-the-match award committee did not give Dravid the man of the match award - they are a bunch of fools anyway. But I confer the man of the match award to Rahul Dravid. 

Why?

No one deserves the award better than Dravid. He faced 19 balls and scored 4 runs ( see my earlier post about 5 opt repeated cliches - point no. 5 - I still have some cricket left ). After 19 balls he sacrificed his wicket so India can go and win the match.  He could have easily wasted 113 balls to score 5 runs - and then get out - so that the asking rate is impossible to achieve, and also the other batsman would have lost all interest in playing cricket. But he did not do such a thing. The noble soul sacrificed his wicket for a just cause. He deserves to be honoured.

Also he pleasantly surprised the poor crowd who had come to see a defeat or a draw. Man of the match always should be given to the ad model who is instrumental in shaping the victory - who else is responsible for paving the way for an India win other than Dravid. 

You think I should be voted the man-of-the-match award committee chairman? Thanks. I am flattered !!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Hi Venkat.

This post is to that Venkat - oh you are a little confused is it? Let me clear the air a bit. This post is for that Venkat ( I don't know him though ) who keeps occupying the online world before I get there. 

I probably rank somewhere on a 7 on a 1 to 10 scale when it comes to the nerdish world. Why 7 - because I started twitting only a month back, had this blog since 2004 but seriously started writing only now, have an xbox - but have not completed a single game - better than the average unwashed masses but not a complete certified nerd yet.

Now this Venkat is miles ahead of me. He has grabbed venkat@gmail.com ( spam that guy you bots ughh ), has already created an an account with the name "Venkat" wherever I go. Today I tried to register in an online game - tavarian - and lo and behlod venkat is already taken.

So to you Venkat - I salute. And I certify that you are a 8 on a 1 to 10 scale. And my parting words to you - GET A LIFE. 

Friday, December 05, 2008

Airtel GPRS - it is quite good.

Next week I will be traveling to Calcutta to my in-laws place. Apartment Adda is live and I need to keep monitoring the servers, reply to support emails etc. and I cannot afford to be cut off. Also going to a cyber cafe is not an option - I am paranoid of key stroke loggers and what nots. 

I did quite some research - USB cards, data access card - which were quite expensive for the 1 week access that I needed. Finally ended up trying Airtel GPRS. The speed is dial up - as advertised. My site loads up fast and I am able to SSH. That is all I will need. 

You need a data cable for your phone - so you can use your phone as a modem. Then send the message "MO" to 6123 - this is a week plan for Rs 140 - unlimited usage. And when you want to stop the service send the message "MO CNCL" to 222. Simple isn't it?

Also with the frequent power cuts I am facing - probably I will go for the 1 month plan - 100MB for 350Rs or so. 

Thanks AR Rahman for the tune and Airtel for your awesome service.


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Google Chrome now shows alert

My of late favorite browser has become my regular browser once again. It has started showing alert boxes in pop up windows. This is of build 0.4.154.29. Enjoy !!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The seed, the nucleus and the tribe

I have been following Seth Godwin for a while - he posts frequently, and each post teaches me something new. Here is a video of him giving a speech on creating a nucleus and building around it - and identifying tribes and telling them a story - http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2008/12/the-seed-the-pi.html

What I learnt?

* You need to sell your service to the whole world. Identify a little group of people - and show them your service, tell them your story - they will spread the word for you - if they like it and your service is good.

* Everything starts small - as a seed, as a nucleus. Hold on tight to it  - and start developing on it - working around it and slowly let it evolve. Much like the agile process that I follow - in many iterations - adapting and modifying according to the feedback and what the customer wants.


5 oft heard cliches

I am still fuming from the Mumbai carnage and hearing our politicians soundbytes. Felt it is bad for my blood pressure - so here is a post on a lighter vein - the cliches that media,politicians, pundits, commentators - keep telling on and on.

1. "Iraq is in the danger of going into a civil war."

Knock knock - Iraq was in civil war from the very beginning since Dubya started his engagement 4 years back. Stop saying it and call what it is - civil war, failed state etc. 

2. "We will give a fitting reply"

This is what our Indian politicians say immediately after a bomb goes off somewhere. They have been giving fitting replies for the past 50 years. No one knows what the reply will be. Our youth leader has said Pakistan has slapped us and we should give a fitting reply. When asked what will that be - he says that is for the PM to give. 
Dude don't pretend to be a leader come join me  in writing blogs - I can speak such things without giving any solution.

3. "Our strategy is to bowl tight and score runs"

Yawn. Same strategy from Kenya to Australia. Nothing new here. Move on. It will be the same strategy 10 years from now.

4. "We are in the danger of going into a recession"

From where Dear Economist? From a boom time - oh from another recession is it? And how is it different from the old one? Oh earlier it was sub prime crisis and toxic debts - the new one is...you don't know yet do you -till it reveals itself to you?

5."I still have some cricket left"

Now how do you quantify some? 1 Run, 2 Runs, 3 Runs?? Oh 4 is it? Ok ok - continue continue. I will also go do some work now. 

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Scapegoat

The man on the left is the scape goat because of the incompetency of the following stalwarts.

1. Manmohan Singh
2. A.K.Antony.
3. Sonia Gandhi.

Mrs.Gandhi has successfully placed "dummies" for Prime Minister, President, Defense Minister and Home Minister. 1 and 2 might be clean but that did not come of any good to handle crisis. I prefer a corrupt paan chewing bad guy who will make our enemies think twice before indulging in any such adventures.

Venkat how can you say such a thing? I know I know - even if 1. and 2. are clean - the rest of 3,4...272 are  looting - remember the just concluded Telecom scandal  - Rs 60,000 crores swindled by a Swan technology and one more company - who never had any plans of selling mobile network - but got the spectrum from Mr.Raja for a measly sum and resold it within days to companies who wanted the spectrum badly. 

So corruption will happen - its a serious cancer. But the wounds that are being inflicted now will bring us a quick death. It has to be tackled with some guts and bravado - do you think our "clean" PM and Defence Minister and "competent" Home Minister and the Remote Control can handle it? No. 




Friday, November 28, 2008

2 reasons why Terrorists made a mistake this time

Terrorists choose the wrong place and wrong time to strike. They have dug their own graveyard.

Here is why. 

1. It is election year. The in power, out of power, no chance of power - all politicians with half,quarter brain will be baying for terrorist blood. Any draconian bill will get passed this time in the assembly. 

Of course the short term impact will be - the terrorists will look for alternative professions and lie quietly. The long term impact will be - too much power with police,army will backfire in the long run. Then a peace loving government will come to power and clip its wings.

2. Those idiots attacked business capital. In the past few years business lobbying has started growing. So now enough businesses ( I am counting on you feuding Ambanis, Tatas and Birlas) will lobby for tougher security - and the half and quarter brains will comply and pass the laws even if they do not understand a thing.

And in another note : 

We are tired of our Neighbour

 My great neighbour next door I last read are in the brink as usual. I hope they learn a lesson or two from us and get going with life. They are blessed with the same brains we have, their culture is the same, they watch the same stupid TV serials like us and that boring game  - what is stopping them from creating an economy like us. 

I hope they realize and stop exporting terrorism or fight for a piece of my land - and instead copy us in creating a happy place to live. Heck, we can help you with everything. Infosys,TCS will be more than willing to set up shop there - having exhausted the supply here.

We are tired of you guys. We cannot spot you in the rear view mirror any more - we are off...just like Chandrayaan to higher orbits. Stop chasing us and trying to compare with us. Accept it - you guys have lost it. So take a break and concentrate on progress. That is the only way to be happy. You guys deserve to be happy. 



Art of the start

Art of starting...

Well this is the name of my blog, inspired by a great book - Art of The Start by Guy Kawasaki. 

I bought this book on Nov 27,2006. ( I write the day I bought a book with an interesting event that day if I had one ) - and read it half way. But never finished it - gave me lot of crazy ideas and inspiration.

Now I picked the book again and re-reading from the beginning. And suddenly it makes sense - every word of it. Earlier when I read this book it was as if I was reading the syntax of a language in a book. Now when I read the book it is as if I am coding and compiling and running it. 

If you are a wannabe entrepreneur, just starting like me, or a seasoned entrepreneur who eats VCs for breakfast - this is the one book you should have read back to back. 

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Shame on us

I respect Mumbai more than Delhi.

It is India's capital according to me - so many businesses, ideas, entrepreneurs have flourished here. 

I got my coffee ready and picked up Indian Express and saw "Terrorists take over Mumbai" - I could not believe it. Thought it was a prank. Economic Times concurred.

This is like a movie script. What is going on with our country?

Knock Knock Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh and Shivraj Patil - what are you guys doing? Enough of your vote bank politics and cuddling terrorists. Terrorists have gone from 0 to 1000s in the last 4 years - thanks to your inaction. 

If you cannot deal with it - quit. Take with you the crores that you got from Telecom licences and what nots and go holiday in France or Swiss - I don't care. Leave my country alone - and let an able administrator take over. Cannot watch this country bleed slowly to death. 


Friday, November 21, 2008

Who is John Galt?


I completed Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. After 1000 pages and sitting through the philosophical discourses by John Galt ( what a fabulous speech in the end), Atkinson - the philospher, Fransisco the Copper Barron, a pirate, a car manufacturer, a music composer - I am still in one piece and I still love humanity - more later.

First Who is John Galt? This phrase gets asked by everyone in the book. John Galt is the intellectual who decides to stop the motor of the world - by withdrawing the forces that drive it - and he is successfull in doing so. 

The whole story is about intellectuals going on strike. The intellectuals - producers,scientists,thinkers - are the one who are bearing the weight of this earth - like Atlas holding the earth. But they are not rewarded for what they deserve - the industrialists are accused of exploiting others for their wealth, the scientists are not rewarded for their inventions but ridiculed and stifled, the music composer is not appreciated "with the mind" but "with the heart".

Now these intellectuals decide to stop lifting the weight of the earth - they are like the Atlas and  they take a shrug -they disappear or retire - and this exposes the lower lazy useless minds ( the looters -  politicians, conning philanthropologists, lame writers, hollow philosophers..) to the world without intellectuals and how chaos and anarchy descends on the country

The second half of the book is where all the action is. The build up to it is slow but methodical. In the middle all the retired intellectuals - each one of them - industrialist,musician,philosopher,judge - explains why he quit. I am in awe of Ayn Rand - how could she write with so much depth and detail - in every different profession?

And then there is the John Galt speech where he speaks to the country for 3 hours ( and it took a week to complete this stretch ). He talks about morality, rationality,integrity,independence,honesty,justice,productiveness,pride,happiness,love,relationships - almost the whole gamut of philosophical threads - from the view of one man, an individual. He goes on to talk about existence and consciousness. I still have not digested it well - needs a second reading and I guess I will keep going back to it.

Wondering what the book is all about? Some of the reviews I read said that it is anti socialistic - do not do any favours - it is a sin. But that is not what Ayn Rand says. Instead what she says is - do not do any favour when you do not get any value out of it - does feel like selfish but there is a deeper meaning in it. Lets say you are helping another "able" person as a goodwill expecting nothing in return. Now you are not helping him - but instead sinking that person more into the hell hole he is already in. You are not giving an opportunity for that person to climb out of the hell hole he is. 

In context of the world, the developed countries give "alms" to the African countries - billions of dollars each year. But instead - had they paid the billions for the goods the African countries could have produced ( and yes they can very well ) - the need for alms would have stopped after a few years and the African countries could have developed really well and can stand on their own feet. Heck - over a period of time they can over take the so called "developed" countries. 

Now you might wonder - what about a disabled person? Apply the same logic - you expect a value out of the disabled person - can he paint, can he make some handicraft? - I will pay him for it - I get something back, he earns his self respect - he does not feel miserable about the bad luck he has had.

Then the other lesson I learnt is - you have every right to earn the right value for the talent you possess. It was the same lesson I got when I read Fountainhead. You earn less than what you deserve - it is a sin - because you are doing an unreturned favour to whom you are doing the work. So, let the current economic crisis blow over - and ask for your hike :)

Finally - you need not feel bad about enjoying the fruits of your labour - do not feel bad that half the country is below poverty. You have studied hard, worked hard, used your intellect. Go ahead - buy that iPod you have been drooling for a long time.

And you should help the less privileged - but let them earn it - let them give back some value to you - so their confidence improves and they gain self respect.

And following is the mantra all of the followers of John Galt will have to realize when they retire and have to join John Galt's team.

"I swear-by my life and my love of it - that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine."

Peace.







Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Top 5 things I lost by shunning TV

It has been almost 2 months since I stopped watching TV. With 2 exceptions - Followed Chandrayaan launch on the (t)rusty Doordarshan and saw Obama creating history.

Rest of the time I have shunned TV. Here is my top 5 things that I miss about TV.

1. Breaking News - yeah right. I do miss a whole lot of things that seem to break continuously round the clock. 

2. Cricket - Oh I miss so much. During this time 4 test matches and 2 ODIs were played and I missed  the painful ecstasy of watching world's most boring entertainment and not to mention Rahul Dravid score 0 in 3 balls or Ganguly's o in 1 ball of his last match (don't take the knives out yet, my next post will be on Ganguly - in fact I like him a lot) 

3. Movies laden with Ads -  A good hollywood movie will take 3 hours with all the ads strewn  inbetween. I really miss the analysis I do with all the products and advertisements that are shown between the movies - so I can plan the next unwanted purchase and help the economy rolling.

4. Car and bike show - I miss the anchor talking for an hour walking around a car describing about the tail lights, the bonnet's shape, the lines, the curves - and finally the 10 minute drive he will do on highways. I will surely miss watching a  maruti 800 with 3 digit number plate that will overtake him on 4th gear.

5. The rest - Will miss the mindless Takeshi's castle, financial analysis ( who needs them anyway), how grasshopers escape from their predators, Shah Rukh's Birthday...an endless list of things that I missed out so now I am a total social misfit. I don't know what I will speak when I meet people from the outside world...scary.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Free website monitoring

Site24x7.com

This is a very useful free resource. They let you monitor up to 2 websites free. Also they send a weekly report about your site uptime and performance. This is just one of the many free services that are available which we can take advantage of. 

Friday, November 14, 2008

Browser shots !!


So I was wondering how does Apartment Adda look like on different browsers, different platforms - is it loading fine or is it throwing errors? Head over to browsershots.org and give your url. It will take some time but your site is hit with 61 browsers from all the OS platforms of the world. I got my results back with errors on an old version of opera and chrome. 

The entire development of Apartment Adda has been done on chome with occasional switch to firefox to use firebug. Need more investigation - you can download the results to your desktop and view each one of them carefully.

Very useful service.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Launching ApartmentAdda.com


I am happy to announce the launch of ApartmentAdda.com - it is an online portal for communication and management for apartment communities. 

Today most of the apartment communities network online using yahoo groups or google groups. Apartment Adda is a replacement to these groups and in addition provides more tools custom built for apartment communities - like notice board, file sharing, polls and also management tools like maintenance fee tracker, issue tracker etc.

It is close to 2 months since I started working on this. Has been quite a roller coaster ride. Had to take care of legal aspects, UI design, logo, the mantra, features page - it is endless !! Is my work over? -no in fact it is just beginning and things are getting really interesting !! 

Head over to apartmentadda.com and see if it can benefit you. It sure will !! 

Launching ApartmentAdda.com


I am happy to announce the launch of www.ApartmentAdda.com . It is an online portal targetted at apartment communities.

Today most of the apartment communities network online using yahoo groups or google groups. Apartment Adda is a replacement to these groups and in addition provides more tools custom built for apartment communities - like notice board, file sharing, polls and also management tools like maintenance fee tracker, issue tracker etc.

I have been working on this portal for the past 2 months. 

Some major milestones !!

October 2007 - Registered apartmentadda.com domain

Then Prithvi was born and I got busy in a couple of projects. 

September 17, 2008 - Work begins on Apartment Adda

September 28,2008 - Prototype demo to Oasis Breeze Apartment's Association Committee

Oct 5,2008 - Early Beta release - Oasis Breeze, Harmony Apartments sign up

Nov 12,2008 - Launch

Head over to the site and have a look - www.apartmentadda.com . I feel very excited and nervous !! Perhaps this is how Steve Jobs feels when he launches his iPod or MacBook !!


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Google chrome not showing alert and confirmation dialogs in popup

Am I the only one noticing this? I have a pop up page which shows a confirmation dialog - it used to work with the earlier Chrome version. But the current chrome version ( 0.3.154.9 ) does not show the confirmation message.

The confirmation messages shows up fine in Firefox, IE ( holy guacomole ),Opera and Safari. 

Weird.

Michael Chrichton ( 1942 - 2008 )


Michael Chrichton passed away on Nov 4, 2008.

A salute to a great author with a great imagination. 

His books that I relished.

Jurassic Park

Enjoyed it for the chaos theory and he inducted me into fractal world.

Disclosure

Picked this book in the middle of my 3rd year exams. Started reading at 2.00PM and put it down at 3.00AM the next day.  ( thankfully I had a day between exams).

Eaters of the dead

I don't remember much about this book but for one interesting anecdote in the book - the length of a man's nose determines the length of his..you can guess :)

The Great Train Robbery

Chaltahai book. Nothing is sticking on my brain now. 

Prey

Introduction to Nano technology. But kind of predictable and got boring towards the end.

Airframe

Marketing said you will never fly an aircraft after you read this - but my memory is too short so it did not matter !!


Movie adaptations that I enjoyed.

Sphere

I made the cardinal sin of seeing this movie and then regretting later that I saw this movie. Now I will never read this book - time is too short and also the director has already imagined for me - I cannot imagine anyother way now.

Congo

Good fun. No regrets that I did not read the book. Couple of months saved :)

Lost World

I do not remember the movie - but still I want to read this book - it is in my list of books to catch upon.

Got to get the books he has written after Prey - State of Fear and Next. I will definitely feel sad when I read his books henceforth - while reading a book you are actually reading the author's mind - and the feeling that the mind is no more - kind of makes you feel sad. 






Legalities of starting a business


I always wondered what it takes to start a business in India.

Turns out that it is quite simple - no big bureaucratic red tape which I always thought India was. There are 3 major types.


Sole Proprietorship:

This is what I opted for. Nothing to register with the government, lawyer or auditor. You are fully responsible for your business. Liability is solely yours. What it means is you incur a huge loss - you have to pay from your personal property. You wake up in the middle of night and decide - man let me start a business. There you go - your business is born. As simple as that.

Want to open a bank account. No problem - tell them your company name and give address proof and PAN card number. Done.

Till 2 Lakhs of income, you pay 20% tax. Beyond that it is 30%.

Partnership:

You need help from an auditor for this purpose. You and your partner(s) decide what is the percentage you own the company ( and hence the liabilities ) etc. Costs some 5000Rs I guess. I did not dig deep into this as this was not the option I was taking.

Even if your firm made only 100Rs as profit you have to pay 30% tax.

Private Company:

This is the most expensive and longer router ( but safer route ). You first give a proposal to the government entity with a bunch of company names. Then they will tell you which one is available. Then you might have to spend to the tune of 1Lakh Rupees to get all done and it is a long drawn out process.

So you have a great idea - just go ahead and start doing it. Have a friend helping you out - cough up the 5K and continue your march.

I know what you are thinking - even I went through the same phase. What if someone stakes claim to my brand name by doing the legal 1Lakh Rupees way while you were slogging to popularise brand.

Well first accept that you are screwed. Like it helps !!

You have your user base - just change the name to something better - call it formerly known as blahblah.com. I am no expert in this - but when you are beginning do not worry about such things - if it did not cost a whopping 1Lakh I would have registered my company. But the 1Lakh can be spent in far better ways - getting a good UI designer, designing a fundoo logo, get a kickass server - so your pages load fast.

How about patenting? I still have not explored this area - might be doing it soon. Watch out for a post on that.

So have you started your business by now?



Thursday, October 30, 2008

Good Luck Mr.Obama


Good luck Senator. I hope you win the election and by next week you are Mr.President.  Here are the reasons why I support this young man.

1. Obama is young and is experienced enough. If W can be President, Mr.Obama - editor of Harward Law Review - can very well be. No arguments. Shut up Mc.Cain and Palin.

2. I am an admirer of Clinton. I love to listen to him. Obama is another great orator of our times. Give him a chance to speak to the world.

3. This is kind of a hope. Currently I am reading Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged and there is a striking similarity to the story and our present day crisis. In the story all innovation wasstifled. The industrialist who invents a new alloy, another one who invents a new way of drilling oil - all are hounded by the establishment ( Washington, old way of doing business guys, incompetent scientists ) - to not prosper with their innovation. In fact these new ideas are killed unceremoniously citing various reasons. 

Roll forward 70 odd years and the same thing is being enacted. Stem Cell research has not taken off, electric cars are yet to start rolling off in US ( biggest consumers and biggest pollutors - sorry - it is not China and India - howmuch ever you twist the facts ). I feel John Mc Cain, W - are all the bigots who stifle innovation - because they and their friends ( oil companies pharmaceutical giants, insurance companies) will get wiped out if the new ideas succeed. They prevent the world from becoming a better place to live in. I am hoping Mr.Obama will remove the barricades and change the world. I can bet on Mr.Obama than on Mr. Mc Cain.

4. And this is another hope. I hope Obama inspires another Obama in India. An energetic young man who will put India to where it deserves to be - a country that redefines mankind and spreads peace and happiness in the world - and not a third world country, that apes US and UK.

Me? Thanks for the thought :)

And Hell No - not  you Mr.Rahul. It is a sad sad comparision. Tell me one good book you have read. I know you have not written any thing - not even a blog? Tell me one original speech you have given - what are your views on Reservation, Terrorism, Kashmir, China, LTTE. I cannot stand the coming General Election in India when such comparisions will be made. 

Coming back to the man of the moment - Mr.Obama - may the pregnant chads and dimpled chads fall in your favor.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Best stress reliever


I have a 10 month old son - and he keeps me occupied all the time I am at home -and I am at home all the time !!

Whenever he is up he tries to grab the chords. He is fascinated with the optical mouse and keeps turning them upside down to see if the light is still on. He just does not get bored of it.

Whenever he enters the room after a nap, or after his feeding battle - he gives a big smile. And I have to smile back at him. And of course the other times when he is doing something really crazy and I will silently smile inwardly without distracting him. 

And of course all these smiling sessions will be punctuated with lot of blood curling cries - when he bangs himself on the door,wall,chair - in fact you start noticing how many hard objects are around you. And when he gets sleepy and does not want to sleep. His motor skills go for a toss and he will make any Bangalore policeman suspicious.  

Someday will introduce you to him - he is a great guy :)



 


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

more funny probes..

More funny bot probes..


 File does not exist: /home/****/html/intl

client sent HTTP/1.1 request without hostname (see RFC2616 section 14.23): /w00tw00t.at.ISC.SANS.DFind:)

 script '/home/*****/html/thisdoesnotexistahaha.php' not found or unable to stat

[Wed Oct 22 03:24:11 2008] [error] [client **.**.**.***] script '/home/*****/html/cmd.php' not found or unable to stat



and we have a lift off !!

Morning today I woke up to see Chandrayaan lifting off on our trusty Doordarshan. What a feeling it was. There was cloud cover so did not quite get the majestic spectacle of a rocket firing on all cylinders - but instead had to watch a dull 2D representation of a dot moving through a graph paper with the rockets speed slowly increasing - 4.8Km/s and so on..

A few minutes after launch when all the boosters had done their job, and the satellite was safely tucked away in orbit around the earth a mic was put and all the scientists got behind it and one by one started congrajulating their team. The 3rd to speak was one gentleman who was so emotional that he said "i dont know what to say" and his eyes were moist. And he did went on to congrajulate all his team members.

I was waiting for some sound bite where some scientist will say take that you NASA or take that for calling us land of snake charmers and call centers - but none. All of them were such sophisticated gentlemen and were so visibly elated and at peace - and were profusely thanking their team members and their family for having allowed them to spend months of hard work. 

But one gentleman did make me happy. ( Thank you Doordarshan for not having the "vision" to put the names of the scientists when they come to speak ). He said next is Mars and other planets. Wow - that is exactly what I wanted to hear. We need visionaries, we need Howard Roarks and I was glad to spot one among them. It took 4 years of dedicated effort for this day.

And the screenshot I took now - is from CNN. Back in 2000 when I was sitting in US doing my MS - I would wait for any news from India on TV. There will be none, zilch - except for Fox News where they had a segment - around the world in 60 seconds. They will dediate 10 seconds for bizarre news - and news of big mouchtaches, or upturned buses that killed school children - was all they showed. Scroll 8 years down and here we are in the home page of CNN - India launches unmanned mission to moon.

Perhaps it is time I let down the nagging feeling of what the world thinks of India and instead let India think of the world in turn. Perhaps seeing our sensex zoom, the markets in other parts of the other world will react positively to it. Perhaps the Revas and Nanos will teach the world how to conserve. Perhaps Hollywood gets inspired by Bollywood and Angelina Jolie starts doing jatkas.

I am feeling groovy...


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Chandrayaan

I have every reason to be proud of India. A mission to the moon. I am awaiting eagerly for this historic lift off tomorrow.

When the rovers scooped dirt on Mars I was proud to be a human being - from swinging from branch to branch - and now to hopping planets  - what a giant leap mankind has taken. Also was teeny weeny jealous of NASA for having achieved such a big feat

But when a Made in India metal starts orbitting the moon, it will be doubly special. We have squeezed a rocket from pinching poverty, corrupt netas, terrorism, border disputes, pollution, suppression of minorities - it is an endless list. But for the common man beaten up by all these bad elements - the lift off will be one uplifing feeling - to encourage him to fight off all these cancers and rise above the clouds to achieve bigger things. 

ISRO - a salute to have dared to think beyond 36,000KMs. What is next?


Monday, October 20, 2008

Ajax Daddy


I was researching on a ajaxy table edit and stumbled upon this useful site - ajaxdaddy.com

Bots hitting my site.

The server is kind of up - not yet open to the public but the bots know about it already.  I always keep checking the error logs for such abnormalities.It helps a great deal if you clean all the warning messages your Application is throwing - this way the errors that come up in error logs are genuine and you can monitor your server better.

Wondering if I should invest some time in a script to have a look at these logs - see if a "file does not exist" error happens in error_log and then take the ip address and see what got accessed in access_log - to see if the system is compromised.

On the below code scroll to the right to see the bot's probes.


[Mon Oct 20 01:39:29 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/README
[Mon Oct 20 01:39:29 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/horde
[Mon Oct 20 01:39:29 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/horde2
[Mon Oct 20 01:39:29 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/horde3
[Mon Oct 20 01:39:29 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/horde-3.0.5
[Mon Oct 20 01:39:30 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/horde-3.0.6
[Mon Oct 20 01:39:31 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/horde-3.0.7
[Mon Oct 20 01:39:31 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/horde-3.0.8

[Mon Oct 20 01:39:31 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/horde-3.0.9
[Mon Oct 20 01:39:31 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/mail
[Mon Oct 20 01:39:31 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/email
[Mon Oct 20 01:39:32 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/webmail
[Mon Oct 20 01:39:32 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/newmail
[Mon Oct 20 01:39:32 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/mails
[Mon Oct 20 01:39:32 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/mailz
[Mon Oct 20 01:46:35 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/cacti
[Mon Oct 20 01:46:35 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/stats
[Mon Oct 20 01:46:35 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] script '/home/*****/html/graph_image.php' not found or unable to stat
[Mon Oct 20 02:05:56 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] script '/home/*****/html/xmlrpc.php' not found or unable to stat
[Mon Oct 20 02:05:56 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/xmlrpc
[Mon Oct 20 02:05:56 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/xmlsrv
[Mon Oct 20 02:05:57 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/blog
[Mon Oct 20 02:05:57 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/drupal
[Mon Oct 20 02:05:57 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/community
[Mon Oct 20 02:05:58 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/blogs
[Mon Oct 20 02:05:58 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/blogs
[Mon Oct 20 02:05:58 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/blog
[Mon Oct 20 02:05:59 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/blogtest
[Mon Oct 20 02:05:59 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/b2
[Mon Oct 20 02:05:59 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/b2evo
[Mon Oct 20 02:05:59 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/wordpress
[Mon Oct 20 02:05:59 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/phpgroupware
home/*****/html/awstats.pl
[Mon Oct 20 02:27:17 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] script not found or unable to stat: /home/*****/cgi-bin/awstats.pl
[Mon Oct 20 02:27:17 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/scgi-bin
[Mon Oct 20 02:27:18 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /var/www/html/awstats/awstats.pl
[Mon Oct 20 02:27:18 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/scgi-bin
[Mon Oct 20 02:27:19 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/cgi
[Mon Oct 20 02:27:19 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/scgi
[Mon Oct 20 02:27:19 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/scripts
[Mon Oct 20 02:27:20 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/scgi-bin
[Mon Oct 20 02:27:20 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] script not found or unable to stat: /home/*****/cgi-bin/stats
[Mon Oct 20 02:27:20 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/scgi-bin
[Mon Oct 20 02:27:20 2008] [error] [client **.***.**.***] File does not exist: /home/*****/html/stats




Sunday, October 19, 2008

No you take the bill, no you pay the bill!!

Senator Obama and Senator Mc Cain meet each other on the eve of the November Elections. Both are in a generous mood.

BO : Hey John. I thought a lot about the past few months and I want to apologize for all the things I told about you.

JC :  Same here. I too want to apologize. I should have treated  you like one of my grand sons. 

OB : Anyway, coming to the heart of the matter, I want to withdraw from the Presidential race.

JC : Hain?  You crazy or what. You are leading the charts, go ahead it is your cake. Eat it.

OB : Well I think only you can handle the economy and war and all that. I am still a bachoo you see compared to you. So please become the President.

JC : My dear grand son listen to me. I do not want any part of it. I just joined the Presidential race because I was bored. The Bushs had made sure no republican will ever win the election in his lifetime.  I joined the race because lot of people are dependent on this circus - media, my friend Bill O'Reilly..and also my autobiography will sell well if I am an also ran for President. I dont want any part of this economy mess, Iraq mess. I will be happy signing autographs in my book and reading WSJ, WPost about the mess you are in. Its good to be at the other side of the aisle beta.. you will learn when you reach my age. 

OB : Kelatu .....

JC : I knew that reference from Indian movie.  Poda podipayya. Good luck and good night.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Starting up on a bad economy




With the US and Europe banks falling like bowling pins all around, I keep hearing - this is only the tip of the ice berg - I do question myself - Is it wise to start up now? So I keep my eyes peeled for any news on startup and recession in the same line.

Here is a an article on how its good to start a startup during recession. 

For hackers - your competition is less. You cohackers and competitors are probably hanging tight to their jobs or going to join a job or doing their degree.  Also things will be cheaper during recession. And Apple,Google,Microsoft all started on a recession.

For investors - buy when the market is bad. Invest in start ups now - against conventional wisdom - so when market picks up and start up is not start up any more - you reap better rewards. 

Thats what I read ( I read what I want to hear :D)  - you can make your own views from the article.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Double Whammy for my bong people

I am half a bong so I can talk about myself. So dont throw fish bones at me. Chew them instead ;)

In the last 2 weeks 2 important events happened in West Bengal. 
Nano moved out and Ganguly puts his stinky feet up. These 2 are isolated incidents and both happen in different sections of the newspaper - business and sports. However I read both and since the events happened close by I have to connect the 2 dots. 

Ganguly - love him or hate him he does hold a mind space among us. There is this IndiaWatchDogs website which was born 3 years back mainly because of Ganguly ( to talk on how to throw him out of the Indian team ).  Or the 100000hours of coffee time that bored techies talk about Dada - for and against. Ganguly has done a great service in entertaining the masses. A salute to him. And of course he has scored some runs in that boring game called cricket - which I have striken off from the list of things that I classify as sports. 

Nano - I am waiting eagerly for it. Its like linux - give it to the masses and they will change the world. It wont take much time  before the dead fossil digester - a  28% efficient combustion engine !! is thrown out and some one puts in a 95% efficient electric motor ( yes - compare the doctored lab notes lying on a Thermodynamics lab and a doctored lab notes of a electric machines lab ). I will get one - no will get two nanos once they do that. So I can carry passengers in one and batteries in another.

Now the 2 or 3 month delay my dear Mamta and Buddadheb have caused is a minor set back. But thanks for upping the ante now before Nano started rolling off the assembly line from Singur - and then if they had done their "politics" - Tata could not have pulled out of West Bengal. Thanks thanks and thanks - for your short term vision in your politics too. Love you both. I will give you a dinner in Leela Palace when you come to Bangalore. Its on me.

Now how does Ganguly and Nano link - is it the beginning of an end and the beginning of a new beginning. Whatever - perhaps Tata ropes in Ganguly to model the car - then my bongers will go boinkers. You never know. Now that will be the Raj Bhog gift back to WB from Tata.






Wednesday, October 15, 2008

You Used that Programming Language to Write What??

I stumbled upon this nice post about the tech choices we have. Resonates with my earlier post about PHP - how its good as a prototype bring it out fast language but needs to be re written in Java in the long run.

http://www.cio.com/article/193750/You_Used_THAT_Programming_Language_to_Write_What_

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Office space under 500Rs !!

My budget is for the stationery that I added - not the gizmos I had painstakingly collected over these years - that will be my next post - the stuff that runs on electricity.

Whats in my home office

1. Stickies - 40Rs
2. Color sketch pens - 20Rs
3. World Map - 200Rs
4. India Map - 150Rs
5. LIC diary - 0Rs ( given free by my agent )

I do miss having a white board but it is prohibitively expensive - a decent sized one costs 4000Rs - and also the white board markers are not cheap either.

The backside of the maps are very effective card walls - stickies cling on to them nicely. And I can move the card wall easily. Now I have a visual progression of my project.

You are wondering what is a card wall? It is a must have in any agile project - it visually depicts the "stories" waiting to be played, being played, the ones that are in QA's desk and the ones that have been passed by the QA.

In the first week I did not have the card wall and my partner ( Sangeeta - my wife who is supporting me in this venture) had a tough time visualizing where we are going. Then I hung the world map and laid out the stickies and both of us now have a better idea of what is happening. Now she is totally bought up on the card wall and has made her own now ( with the India map ).

I first thought of categorizing bugs, features, tech stuff with different colors - but then it became too corporatish so I decided to not worry about such things and now I use any sketch that comes to my hand. Its nice to doodle in different colors - keeps the brain in "invent" mode.

Next post : The hardware being used to create the online portal.



Why PHP?

I have decided to build the online portal in PHP, supported by Apache, MySQL hosted on Linux. The most cliched LAMP model. 

Did I consider other players?

* Ruby on Rails : It was very much on my plate. I have done small utilities ( a server status monitor and a code snippet repository ) in rails and was blown away by the speed and simplicity of doing things. However 2 things went against RoR.

ORM : My last project was a .NET project on Hibernate. It was a 2 year old project and already it felt like a legacy application with things tuned for performance to the maximum. They had crossed the return on investment period of Hibernate ( when relations stay simple at the beginning of any project ) and now were paying heavily for having Hibernate - performance, complexity, things moving to stored procedures..the usual pain points. So active Record did not interest me - being a one man army I did not want battles couple of months from now when I have to hack to implement a feature.

Server support:  Nothing can beat mod_php running on Apache. I had to configure nothing. zilch. With ROR things are still emerging - and I do not have the confidence in this space. A good part of my time does go in administering Apache but its something I am quite familiar. I neednot  muck with monit or spend lot of time playing with mongrel (a cluster inside one node!!) to have my app working. Apache just sits there smiling at me doing its work super efficiently. 

*Java : I am more familiar with Java and its framework than PHP. But the pace of development, team that is required, hosting requirements is just not feasible nor affordable. When this portal takes off big time I will rewrite it in Java - with a team. That will scale well, be stable - rock solid, and well maintenable. But the goal here is to bring something out as fast as possible, give it to as many people as possible and create a mind space. 

*ASP.NET : Forget it. I will not recommend it to anyone - even if I get a 1 billion dollar project to redo microsoft.com. ( well on second thoughts I might reconsider :D - I am not Howard Roark !!) 

Hosting : LAMP Hosting is cheap. I decided to go with a Virtual Private Server - gives me lot of freedom and flexibility. It takes some effort and linux know how - but its worth the trouble. More on this later.

In conclusion Php suited me well for the portal I am building - fast and quick ( but dirty like hell imagine code spread all over the place : $this->some_function($this-variable);  It hurts the eyes !! ) 

Next post : How I set up my office space for under 500Rs !! 

Thursday, October 09, 2008

A little about me and who this blog is for

Who am I?

I am a "techie" who lives in Bangalore. But now I have taken a break to embark on a journey - auspiciously on the day Lehmann Brothers went bankrupt, Goldmann Sachs got degraded and blood bath happened in Wall Street. A journey to explore what it is like to go on your own - to be your own boss and create a business.

Currently I am building an apartment management plus residents communication portal targetted at mid to large sized apartment complexes.  Its an alternative to yahoo groups, google groups and orkut that most of the residents use for apartment related communication. 

Who this blog is for?

I have been toying with the idea of starting something on my own for quite a long time. Have read lot of blog posts, books and finally now I have taken the plunge. I intend to help out the souls who want to take the plunge - share my experience and learnings in this new life of mine. Also inviting ideas, tips, tricks that you think might help me in my quest. 

Also, to keep myself committed to this blog, I am going to say what I am going to post next - on every post.

Next post is going to be about the choice of technology for my portal. Being a techie thats what I can think of first. Stay tuned!!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Google has run out of space !!

Now I have to reschedule all my appointments because of this...ughh..

"
Thank you for your interest in Google Developer Day India.  Due to huge demand we unfortunately have run out of space and are unable to accommodate your registration this year.  We encourage you to check out our new APIs and Developer Tools on code.google.com. Hope to see you next year.

Sincerely,
Google Developer Team"

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

An announcement..



"As we are hurtling through space at the rate of 67,000mph ( milky way's velocity), in one corner of a small blue planet, in a small 3BHK apartment in Bangalore - there is this guy who has decided to take a plunge into the unknown. ThoughtWorks was generous enough to offer him a 3.5 month off time from work to try out some of the ideas he always wanted to work on."

Of course - the guy above is yours truly and I am relishing every moment of it. It has been 12 days since I stopped attending daily stand ups and work commutes. I wanted to write about this on day one but suddenly things got super crazy from day one and never found time to make this announcement. 

Right now I am in the middle of building this online portal for apartment neighbourhoods.  I have completed the ground floor - still 3 more floors to complete :) We are aiming for Oct 20th release if everything goes fine. Wondering who "We" is - it is Sangeeta of course joining in my crusade. She is continuing her job to support the monthly EMI and diapers ;) 

And btw I completed Big Bang by Simon Singh and he made me feel so insignificant about myself and the gallaxy crunching decision that I thought I have taken. Helped me feel that it is no big deal to get out of one's comfort zone and stare at the unknown bravely. After all I am a speck in a small speck called Earth.

Next update will talk about my work setup, or will list a few threads that are running in my head or about how I am running Windows XP ( not vista, not ubuntu !!) 

Wish me luck :)







Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Is Windows not detecting your external hardrive/thumbdrive?

Thank you Windows. Thank you. You wasted half an hour of my precious* time because I thought the flash drive was faulty. This is another reason why you should have a linux system to make sure the flash drive can still flash.

The problem was I had mapped a network drive as E: ( C: the only partition and D: being my dvd drive). Now when the flash drive was plugged in it wanted to take the place of E: and not increment to F: as any sane human being and a pig wearing lipstick would have expected. 

I had to blink finally by pushing the network drive to z: and then the flash drive showed up with a smirk on E:.

precious*:  Today is the first day of my unpaid Leave of Absence from ThoughtWorks. Working on a business idea that is going to change the world and bring world peace and prosperity.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Now it is the turn of fountainhead to trouble me


If you have been following the last few posts you know how much I am troubled by these books - in a great positive way. "The Fountainhead" by Ayn Rand is no different like the great books I have read earlier. It puts a twist on individualism by linking it to creativity and how collectivism is crass base and all the bad things it represents. You can read the entire book to appreciate Howard Roark's speech or if you are still curious to know what the ruckus is all about without spending a month or two you can see the speech here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zc7oZ9yWqO4 . Don't worry if you are intending to read this book its not going to take anything away.

The book is still sinking in. It kind of justifies some of my actions so far - and kind of makes me feel a little uncomfortable on what I could have / should have done. Instead of mulling over spilt milk this book focuses me like never before - to achieve an objective - can be anything - signing the 1000th autograph of your book and taking a break for your paining knucles, turning on the ignition of an audi and catching yourself in the rear view mirror with that wicked smirk,turning back and looking on the fast disappearing steps in snow on top of K2's peak. ...can be anything. And to achieve that objective you need not compromise on what you believe - the end is not the means by itself. Its the man who is the means. Integrity and uncompromising ideals is what one needs.

I remember another great stretch in this book where Howard Roark explains about "owning" other man's work. You listen to Beethoven or Richard Wagner ( both I have been listening a lot lately ) and kind of get it in your own way - need not be the way Beethoven intended to be appreciated - but in a sense you have owned Beethoven's master piece. You say "yes" in the sense of getting it - and you have owned the master piece. Howard Roark too says that if a person has said "yes" to his work, then that person now will own the building. I know it feels like lot of bs but it made sense to me.."yes' Ms.Ayn Rand :)

Do read it - the love story between Howard Roark and Dominque Francon is kind of weird - not the run off the mill(s and boons) for you - made me uncomfortable reading it in the bus - wondering what my co-passenger think of me if he reads what I am reading - but otherwise it is one "swell" of a book.

I guess I will steal Murakami's short stories from my wife for sometime. Gotto give the guy at the top a little break.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The alchemist


This book lasted 2 days. Started on a Friday after a colleague of mine managed to steal the book from his wife to keep his promise or to escape from my embarrassing remarks I made about not keeping your promise ( hey Georgie just joking :) ). And I finished it on saturday. I am not bragging - its a simple read and its only 160 pages. The book is full of metaphors and inspiring thoughts. Perhaps I would put it along with Art of the Start by Guy kawasaki. Forget entrepreneuring - its all about thinking through the pathetic mediocre life one is having - and ask oneself - where are you headed.

I remember lying on top of the water tank of my second year hostel along with a friend called Musk. We were watching the flights on the landing path right above our head - with their wheels extended before they touch down minutes later at Meenambakkam. We did not know what business we were going to do but we were multi b and were doing quite some serious globe trotting.

Fast forward 10 years ahead and here I am - living an ordinary life. Day in and day out - the same routine repeats. Work, weekend, work, weekend. Fire up the editor, open word to read the stories ( agile you see !! ), work on a hobby open source project, read some tech blogs and nod or disagree about the latest rant on java or ruby or xml or whatever. Where am I heading? Is this the destiny I am set for? What if I pursued one of the what ifs. Reading this book made me feel - perhaps I should get fired and no one take me back as a salaried employee any more. Perhaps they steal everything from me, like our hero in the book, and he relearns new techniques. This bad book will make you think. There are lot of chains - home loan, kid, responsibilities, but now I feel these are all excuses I keep telling my heart. All this noise has made my heart go quiet. Perhaps it was telling lot of things to me but I kept shutting it up. The hero in the book learns to listen to the heart - perhaps I should try listening to it.

Anyway tomorrow its monday and I join the millions sleep walking through their lives. But tomorrow like Neo in the first part - will wear my black vogue -5 powered sunglass,and step out of my apartment aware that I am not sleeping any more. The Wachowski brothers will shoot the scene from above our apartment's cracked roof - and ....yawn. Tomorrow is IPM and I have to catch some sleep tonight else I will not be able to understand what the stories are all about. Hello reality. Atleast you feed me. And heart..err..some other time. You prepare what you have to tell me - perhaps as a mind map - you know I do not like power point presentations. Not that I hate microsoft but power points are too mind numbing...will rant more in one of my posts.. you read it ok. Ciao.

Kafka on the shore

I was in between books. Had a heady read of Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance and had to unclog my brain !! And what a pick this book is. Totally mindless and riveting. Forget the story - cats talk, stones listen, time stops - it was fun to have a peek at the author's mind.

* Archduke trio - Beethoven's last composition I guess. One of the characters goes on and on about how good it is. I am trying to lay my hands on it - and on the way I am discovering Beethoven. Still I do not know what a minor C or D or symphony or sonata whatever means - but the discovery process has started. Also at the same time my son Mr.Prithvi awakened me about the power of classical music. The other day he was wailing uncontrollably and I was making stupid noises to no awail. Then I started singing the basic Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Da Ne and he became quiet. It was a repeatable experiment. Now when I do variations of it as A B C D E F G H in the same tone he listens. Why -I cant fathom but one thing is certain. Music, especially classical music has some magic. So Beethoven is no more a deaf guy in my Dictionary - getting to know him more.

* This is kind of sick - so kids you can log off now. Our hero kid in the book reads a book - its about the trial of a german nazi general who oversaw the cleansing of Jews. He did his job with no feelings whatsoever. In his trial he outlined the challenges he faced - poor quality of the gas, how to manage the "operation", how he had to over come red tapism. Finally when he was asked dont you feel bad for what you did his response was - I was just carrying out my orders in the best way possible. Is the general to be blamed?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance

Probably I am the millionth person to read this book and go ga-ga about it. This is my second attempt. First was in 1998 when I was in college a friend of mine ( who later turned out to be my wife :) ) - was reading the book and it piqued my interest - so got hold of it and started reading. Did not survive more than 2 chapters.

Now again I gave it a go and what a read it turned out to be. Here is some gist of what I felt reading it.

Things in no particular order :

* Robert Pirsig, the author, says about "gumption". What an idea - gumption is kind of an energy cum enthusiasm. You have to earn it by doing things - when you acquire gumption it gives a good feeling - kind of smug and happy feeling. I have felt it lot of times when I fix a problem or do some thing useful. The author says it in the context of fixing a motor bike - but you can feel it at lot of places - installing ubuntu on an old worn out computer. Now the trick is to watch out for the things which will drain gumption.

Ego is the biggest one. If I start doing the work to satisfy my ego it will drain all the gumption. For instance I say to myself alright here I am a linux geek. Now let me get this machine up and running with linux with some nifty hacks - thats a bad start. Now the simplest hurdle - lets say your CD got burnt with a bad sector and installation fails midway - or you cannot get the network up - will quickly drain the built up gumption. Because you started doing this work to satisfy your ego - not to reuse an old discarded machine to do things it was not destined to do when it was built. Now if the approach had all humility - alright let me have some fun in making this old guy see how 2008 looks like - and any small hurdles that come my way I can just hum and fix them - because my goal is not to satisfy my ego. I have felt it more than once - and I get frustrated and throw things away. Gotto watch out for this in future.

* Zen state: Zen, or chen or our own hindi word - dyan- means meditation. There are 3 ways of zenning - forgot the first 2 - something like you sit and meditate with no material thoughts. The 3rd one is the highest state - you do your work live your life and yet be aware of yourself and the outer world and you earn gumption living your life.


Also in another place he says how having a composed and calm mind helps create a great product. All you have to do is take a look at microsoft and ubuntu or OS X. Now microsoft has better developers, more PhDs than apple + linux GNU developers combined. But how can microsoft regularly dish out a sucky operating system - when compared with apple or linux volunteers. Its the state of mind. Microsoft employees have to put up with middle level managers who have to put up with high level managers who have to put up with a chair. Sad. The end result shows the turmoil of mind of the developers. The crazy volunteers blast music rippoed of bit torrent and create a rocking OS that is changing the world.


*Quality: What is quality. He starts by saying how quality splits classic view and romantic view. Oh I forgot to tell what is classic and romantic right. The parts of the motorcycle, the property, the science behind it - its the classic view. The beauty of the parts jelling together, the hum produced by the bike - just the joy of seeing a well built machine - its all the romantic view. Art vs hard facts. While reading it I got a feeling that perhaps I have not made much of an effort to appreciate the romantic side of things - trying to appreciate art, classical music - the right side brain of things. Perhaps with my educational background had always a classic bent on things.

Anyway, he first argues that quality is the entity that splits the world into classic and romantic - but then he dwells more into this hypothesis and comes with a brilliant analysis of how quality does not split the world but actually binds them and its the third entity. Kind of a trinity.


*Reference to Illiad : Now last december I read Illiad and there was a passage which Robert Pirsig had quoted in this book. Its about the villian ( but you will not get the feeling reading the book ) - Hector - going to his final battle where he will be killed by Achilles. His wife pleads him not to go and Hector speaks how heros speak with valour and pride. I was pleasantly surprised to see this passage getting quoted. Now the author brings this up to bash poor Aristotle. It seems till Aristotle came around the Greeks cherished such virtues - like how Hector speaks about destiny and living his full life and dying at war. Aristotle came and tried to define everything and there are things that cannot be defined - why will a man go to die or display his valour? - and that was the beginning of the end of romanticism in life. Everything has to be defined - else it does not exist according to Aristotle.

Now the author does not stop here - he goes on to make a connection between quality, virtue and dharma. - my brain just froze. You have to read this stretch to appreciate the philosophy.

*Mu : This was very interesting. Mu is a japanese word. Now a zen scholar was asked is there God in a dog. His answer was Mu. Its neither a yes or a no. It is one of the tri states - and in fact it means the question has too broad a context. Narrow your context or change your question. Pirsig in his onslaught of Aristotle explains this word - we cannot split everyting into two - and so on - we have to appreciate this fuzziness.