atul jha

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Random Thoughts: On OpenStack

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OpenStack is over 5 years old now.  I have seen the project from days when many pundits claimed its not needed or it is a dead project or what not. These are some of my thoughts about the overall project & where it i s headed.

Community: I think OpenStack is one of the biggest project so far written in python. The latest release has over 5000 developers. Every release has followed a cycle & delivered timely.

Marketing Hype: OpenStack no more enjoys the hype it used to years back, tech scene changes so rapidly. 

Foundation: I think forming OpenStack foundation was one of the best thing happened to the project. The folks are working really hard to push project forward in whatever best possible way they can.

Foundation Members: OpenStack has almost every enterprise backing, check this link if you don’t believe me .  All these organization wants to make money out of it & hence they all have aspirations. Most of them have full time employes hacking/contributing to upstream OpenStack code.

Definition of OpenStack: It has been over 5 years & we have not come to a conclusion what components must/must-not have to make the product “OpenStack Powered” I know Rob & others been working hard on this, not sure when will this be finally a reality.

VC’s putting $$$:  Vc’s believed in Openstack & startups building services around OpenStack ended up getting funded over a billion $. Source

Acquisitions & Closures: In this 5 years tenure we saw a lot of these smaller startups getting acquired by traditional vendors like Piston, CloudScaling, BlueBox.  At same time we heard about Nebula closing down & HP public cloud getting shut.

Job Market: OpenStack created a great job market & even 5 years down the line being an OpenStack developer can get you good $$. If you have contributed upstream then companies will be after you to hire.

The dream of Federated Cloud: I am still waiting to see if  I will even be able to share my workload simultaneously on Rackspace, IBM Cloud or others with single OpenStack dashboard. This dream which was sold to us, I don’t see happening at all.  After fighting with Simon all these years over API I have to agree having Amazon API support as native would have increased OpenStack’s adoption.

Too many install Options: I have to agree many ways to do the same thing can be confusing. Installing OpenStack is still hard and perhaps will always remain so. I won’t be surprised if someone writes a detailed thesis on the installation procedure & options [with comparison to all devOp tools] for OpenStack & upgrading OpenStack.

Pain of managing Install/API doc:  Every new release has 100+ new flags & coordinating with developers or upstream contributor is not an easy job.  Anne & team are doing excellent work. They will love to see your contribution & this is the best place if you want to get started with  contributing to OpenStack project.

PS: I was one of the core OpenStack documentation contributor &  still a community coordinator for OpenStack project in India.

Introducing AroundStartups

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I am sure you all those who follow me on various social media platforms would be aware about AroundStartups. All I wanted is to have a platform to meet & interview people from India’s startup ecosystem. These are the hardworking folks inside their organization, portfolio and overall community & always willing to help, support, mentor. The timeline page has information about upcoming guests to the podcast.

Over time there will also be some post with data driven analysis around various trends on different matrix from India’s startup ecosystem. These data will be open source & stay on Github & anyone can reuse it.

These are my friends, mentors helped me in making this possible.

  1. Alex, my boss at The New Stack has been very helpful in pushing me to podcasting world & encourage me to do this.
  2. Prashant, the wordpress developer & a smart human.
  3. Jugal, for helping me with the artwork, graphics, logo and helping with selecting background music score.
  4. Abhishek for helping with audio editing, mixing & mastering.
  5. Krishnan another very good friend, mentor of mine for connecting me to Jitesh.
  6. Ajey Gore , Sidu & Niranjan for his pep talk on one particular evening & asking me to just start it.
  7. Kamal Ravikant & James Altucher my life mentors.
  8. Last not the least to my very first guests  Brij, Sameer, Sanjay, Shandhya, Nikhil. It would have been difficult to start this without their time & faith in me.

Since it has just stated, I am not going to be perfect so all your suggestions & feedbacks will be incredible help to me which you can do via Twitter, Facebook or atul@aroundstartups.com  The podcast is hosted on SoundCloud & also available on iTunes.  

Startup Ideas #3

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In continuation with my previous post to share startup ideas that I would love to see flourish, here is my second post with more adept ideas that should become startups.

Startup Ideas For The Week:

  1. Beard stylist: The trend of gentlemen keeping a beard is not new. It will be great idea to have a shop where anyone can walk in and get the perfect style fit for his beard.
  2. Fashion Designer on an app: With advance technology and increased purchasing power anyone can have his/her own personal designer/stylist simply in the form of an app. The app should have something like a video conferencing option recommending what to wear and how to style oneself.
  3. Adding Dating as reward for buying via e-commerce site : Imagine if you have an ecommerce website which connects you to a blind date on your buying preferences and wishlists. So in simple terms Amazon+Tinder+Facebook= Dating App.
  4. Connecting street sellers in hyperlocal: Everyone is talking about next boom, the hyperlocal delivery. As a result of which a lot of street sellers are bearing the brunt.Imagine an app connecting your local grocer via s simple application with payment options. This way these app driven organizations won’t be competing with brick & mortar shops but helping in making the local grocers life better.
  5. Tinder for Grandparents: It is like having a dating app with membership fees only for the elderly people. We should remember exclusivity increases value of the product.

These are my ideas for the week. I would love to hear back from you, I know some of these ideas may sound crazy but what benefits some could also be a waste for another, hence choose wisely.

 

Startup Ideas #2

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In continuation with my previous post to share startup ideas that I would love to see flourish, here is my second post with more adept ideas that should become startups.

Startup Ideas For The Week:

Brewery Review: The whole concept of the microbrewery scene in India is really expanding beyond imagination. A brewery with the sole purpose to produce beer that is consumed in-house is now catching up with the masses. In Bangalore, we have over 20 established microbreweries. The sad thing is that nobody writes about or publicizes them. I was thinking maybe an app/portal that would review and inform beer lovers to explore microbreweries around India would be a good idea.

Emoji App: I love this one. Picture an appchat  that  lets you communicate with emojis, barring all text to elevate the science of communicating with pictures. Like me, there maybe several who hate typing long sentences to communicate and instead will be more than happy to have a conversation via emojis.

Mentor: The app name itself is self explanatory- have a portal that provides aid and assistance to help mentor youngsters across various domains from sports, education to psychology and rehab.

NewsFeed: To curb the amount of newsflow daily, a good idea is to have selective subscription to read news in short textual summaries. In a hurry, it is difficult to go through an entire news article. By simply receiving a short summary, you can read it and if you want to know more visit and, download the entire article.  People will be happier if they get summarised text news of interest from a single app for news source

Erase: Ever wonder how much information will be available once you depart? It is important to have some app/service that erases and removes all the identity from social media once a person expires.

These are my ideas for the week. I would love to hear back from you, I know some of these ideas may sound crazy but what benefits some could also be a waste for another, hence choose wisely.

Notes from RubyConf India

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It’s been super hectic this April with extensive traveling and tons of craziness. I was in Goa the second time this year to attend the Rubyconf. This is an annual event where Rubyist developers and upstream contributors meet from across India. The event featured keynotes & talks from core Ruby developers who came from abroad to present at the conference. I enjoyed the event and it was a delightful experience for me.

My primary role was to represent The New Stack , as the immediate media sponsors for the event held in Goa this year. At the Rubyconf meet, I interacted with many newcomers, made few friends and improved my knowledge on Ruby to a greater extent. Like always, Gautam, Ponappa, Ajey and Satish did a tremendous job in organizing the event and making it a definite success. I’m proud to reveal that this was the first event which had functional WIFI setup.

As usual, I’ve made note of the details after attending sessions at Rubyconf. Here are my views:

  • It seems vital to keep testing and tests mainly outside the core codebase.
  • I became aware about functional programming and how modularizing code into small chunks can actually make life so much easier.
  • It was pointed out that 80% of the time newer developers spend time reading code written by others.
  • It was very interesting to know more about codeclimate use case of Ruby.
  • Rails has given all the power and added buzz for Ruby to go mainstream.
  • Rails needs to be made faster and I am sure newer releases will focus on same.
  • One highlight was an interesting talk/demo where the speaker demonstrated writing Ruby programming in one’s mother tongue.
  • The entire initial devops movement has Ruby as one key programming language.
  • Most people use Ruby for quicker development and not just for performance.
  • Ruby has many frameworks and is indeed a large ecosystem that is being utilised at many places even in a  mission critical environment.
  • It was hearty to note that the organizers provided scholarship to many students that included free stay/travel to attend this event. Honestly, this is a perfect way to foster the overall ecosystem.

A lot of interesting things were shared among speakers that increased and improved my knowledge of the language and its importance. I hope this continues yearly especially for all who want to benefit from Ruby and are aspiring to learn and code in Ruby. Lastly, in true Goa style,the event ended on a high by an organised beach side party with Karaoke that had everyone thoroughly enjoying the event.

On Co-founders: Some Advice

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In truth I have not made any exit or built anything for which I have raised $$$ from VC. From my exposure and past experiences I have learnt a ton. Yes, I was involved in few start-ups in which most failed and a few I chose to exit due to personal constraints.Yet, start-ups never bore me. I keep encountering and hearing about start-ups, product, team and ideas almost daily. So in view of my experiences with start-ups, I definitely felt like sharing a piece of my learning right here in this blog post.

I would say this is just my advice and opinions on those building teams or looking for co-founders.

Motivation: If your co – founder is not motivated as much as you are then the chances of product failing is high. This could result in you ending up in some sort of depression that could turn the relationship sour.

Expectation: You need to set expectations at the very beginning to avoid future conflicts related to dedication and time allotment towards projects.

Trust: One of the pullers which can make or break everything is the matter of trust. If you don’t have trust on your co-founders ability you are setting yourself up for doom.

Complimenting: Its not always true but mostly advisable to have co-founders with complementing attitudes. If I have to build a start-up I will go find some IT fire power that can compliment my work and is willing to go that extra mile with me.

Empathy: James Altucher, my idol and inspiration whom I consider as my life mentor always talks about empathy. You have to put yourself in his/her shoes at times. This will make you realize what the other person is going through. At times you might get angry or even frustrated and want to out but if you are empathetic and trust your other half(co-founder) you will succeed.

The following are pointers to consider in the establishment of business with co-founders. There may be more to this, but my experience has taught me to find co-founders that motivate, exceed expectations, are trustworthy and have empathy towards others.

 

On Design of your product

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We are in the age of attention deficiency with so many products being built on the same domain. The primary thing that keeps customers glued is the overall design and I can bluntly accept that design can make or break your product.

With mobile devices getting cheaper by the day and most users speedily connecting to the internet via mobile, it is extremely challenging and thus very important for a brand to provide a seamless and/or intuitive design interface that appeals to the masses. After all product design is the main interface for any product to make it in the market.

The Bad Features Of Product Design:

  1. Multi-clicks: It can be quite cumbersome and as a customer I am least interested in navigating via a portal to read/buy something.
  2. Excessive text: If you have built a portal catering to research information, I would prefer an infographic rather than say a descriptive of two thousand textual content.
  3. Hideous Colors: Brightening the product to appeal to the eye needs to be subtle and inviting,I wont be returning to consider you portal/product if the color combinations start to affect my vision.
  4. Dancing fonts: Building your product with ugly fonts & non-uniform sizing over an uneven platform is distracting and unattractive.
  5. Floating banners: I am keenly interested in the product and the visibility of the same, so these floating banners just creates unnecessary distractions.

 

My Experiment Results

  1. My dad says “I use whatsapp because its very simple interface”
  2. My 8 yr old orders from flipkart in 3 clicks[COD]
  3. My friend says “I use ola apps and not Taxi4Sure as its way easy to use”
  4. I say , “I use Medium not LinkedIn for blog because one is simple & other is ugly”


I suggest to get a designer or outsource the work to a firm who are capable of building your product design fixing “the bad features of your product design.”

7 Effective Ways To Manage Consultants

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Consultants are the elite of your project management. While you’re short on middle term  project demands and find inadequate skills that need reinstatements, the best option is to screen and hire a potential consultant who can bridge the gap of shortcomings among the team.Onboarding a consultant essentially revolves around saving money and fulfilling inadequate skills. I have been managing over 4-6 consultants till date and for me the challenge is not in finding the expertise or screening candidates, it has to do more with managing and integrating these consultants to work efficiently. In this post, I would like to share some noteworthy thoughts that might help those in similar shoes.

1. Management: Rightfully, managing a consultant is no cake walk. I would say I am very lucky to have the current bunch of talented folks working with me that has made my life is so much easier. Managing the individual is quite cumbersome and can involve a lot of back and forth communication  that seems necessary but consumes so much time and energy. Nonetheless, it has to be done to run a smooth relationship to set the right kind of expectations and make sure you are well understood.

2. Schedule/release cycle/milestone: It is important to have a release cycle kept well in place. Explicitly discussing the milestones and following well chartered plans is crucial. It requires follow up via email or other mediums that can be extremely helpful.

3. Endorse a task manager: A good task manager is the key to successful project management, infact I would promptly concur it makes life easier. We are using Asana and are extremely happy with it.

4. Testing: It is important to allot ample time for testing the code and feature development. Testing is the crux of the project and if this is incompetent the project suffers. The consultant has limited time to ensure satisfying test results and although they do their level best I would encourage an extra pair of eyes to approve testing.

5. Toolkit with the agreement: It is deftly advisable to get a list of tools to be utilized all installed on the consultants mobile/laptop once hired on board. This helps in solving issues with communications and discussion management simple and eventually making overall communications more seamless.

6. Meetup: Sometimes, when distances places your consultants away, it is important to plan meetups and socializing events to meet in person. This activity of meeting with the consultant in person regularly improves cordial relationships and encourages productivity. It serves as a bond to get to know each other and plan for future project milestones.

7. Respect is mutual: Respecting each other’s space and time and valuing one another is frugal. It is vital to understand each other and important to set expectations that both are working on the same ultimate goal.

Well-chosen and well-utilized consultants can make the difference between a project’s success and failure. The onus lies on you to utilize the consultant resources judiciously.

Welcome To The Age Of Information Overflow

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It’s the year 2015 and now Internet is cheap, handsets are cheap, multiple platforms for information,much noise, too much information overflow right?

Yes,far too much and everyone has an opinion about everything. Everybody wants to be a singer[or is it just me?]So many mediums like buzzfeed, twitter, facebook, youtube, reddit. But first, watch this video to know what I am saying.

Overabundance, overflow and inundation of information wears you out.How do you streamline social media and feeds to your liking? How do you not miss the important stuff and cut down on misuse?

Everybody may have their way out, this is my way to avoid getting worn out from information overflow:

  1. Twitter list: It’s best to create a list with people from various categories that you want to read/learn from and intently follow.
  2. Subscribe via e-mail: There are bunch of interesting people who write amazing blogs & not only should you subscribe to them, but make time to read their posts.
  3. Pocket: With pocket, one can add a list of interesting stories that can be read offline especially when on commute.
  4. Podcast Addict: I use this software on my phone to listen to selected list of podcasts.
  5. Hacker news: For those daily updates around the tech community or new announcements and sometimes interesting shares, this is my go to.
  6. Reddit:   Reddit is great for those daily updates of all the news that is related to India.
  7. Growthhackers &  Producthunt: This is my daily dosage of story,insights related to startup, productivity, marketing.
  8. Feedly: This software gets you RSS feed across the internet and lets you categorize the feeds. The bonus feature it converts content to audio.

If I’ve missed something, please share your thoughts and tools which you use to avoid information overflow. I am sure it will be very useful to me.

I work remotely and this is my toolkit

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It has been over 1.5 yrs since i started working from home. I enjoyed everyday because i was independent & had no mandatory requirement like reaching office by 9 am, getting stuck into traffic and all.

I felt like sharing software i use everyday for collaborating with my remote team & keeping myself productive while working remotely.

Skype/Zoom.us 
Skype has been pain for us off late, we were happy with it before so now we are using zoom.us

Asana
I love Asana, it has organizing overall project much easier. You can assign project to individual member, keep list of people as watcher. It does what we were looking for.

Google Apps
For e-mail, calendar, document sharing and chat we are using google apps.

Workflowy
I do most of my daily task tracking using workflowy. It is a very simple app and helps me in prioritizing my daily work.

Selfcontrol
I use this app to control my distraction, it stops me from using social media & other listed sites by myself during my work hour.

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