Notes from OpenStack summit, Vancouver

I was very ecstatic  to attend the recently concluded OpenStack Summit in Vancouver. While the summit was the main focal point of my trip, I was elated to bump into my friends and colleagues. After almost five years I was reunited with my very old friend Razique & Heiko.During the initial days of the documentation project I was involved in working with these guys, it was a joy to be reunited again. At the summit I also met Alex & Sam from The New Stack team and we got to discuss about the future of Openstack.

During dinner at Vietnamese food joint, we made a small podcast about the event besides writing down a post on determining the health of the OpenStack project.

Below are some of my notes determined from the overall event itself:

  1. The event venue was simply fabulous where WIFI worked most of the time and saw an attendance of over 6000+ attendees.
  2. The format of the event was modified to include container day as well as OPNFV day, a good initiative to widen the ecosystem.
  3. Seems like everyone is talking about OpenStack , even those who mocked it during inception.
  4. Containers was the buzzword. Everyone was talking about it.
  5. During the initial days, the champions for projects were acquired by traditional vendors.
  6. A lot of developers and early advocates have moved on to newer things which brings about new faces and talent. I guess it is a part of the overall evolution process.
  7. Neutron and OpenStack documentation is still an unsolved mystery and I am not sure if it can be solved.
  8. OpenStack has a total of twelve integrated projects that will explode in a year and the foundation is working on better ways to manage them.
  9. The marketplace where vendors were showcasing product was absolute fun, most of them had no projects specific to OpenStack.
  10. Accepting one click upgrade option inside OpenStack was considered wishful thinking. Now vendors like Red Hat, Mirantis or Canonical will be able to do it for your enterprise.
  11. It was good to see representatives from almost all major system integrators in India attending the summit and wanting to be part of it.

The next summit is to be held  in Tokyo, I personally have no idea if I will be present, but given the opportunity I may just go.Last but not the least thanks to OpenStack Foundation for keeping the project intact for a successful period of five years. Here’s to hoping the momentum continues.

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Sajid, Kavit & Me [Our team of OpenStack India coordinators ]

THE IMPORTANCE OF CLOSE KNIT FRIENDSHIPS

I am not sure what inspired me to post this but I’m writing about valuable friendships that I am happy to be affiliated with.

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Achet & me.

Last year was a tough one for me. I was not in great shape with too many things stressing me out. The only thing that kept me going were my dearest friends. Yep they have believed in me more than anybody ever did. I travelled to Delhi a few weeks back and we laughed about same.

Its good to have that cluster of close knit companions, the ones who are there for you in every situation be it good or bad. I consider myself very blessed to have such good friends in my life.

Here is my suggestion to everyone out there, make friends but keep those few chosen ones closer to you rather than inviting everybody into your life. Remember it is not your Facebook friends or Twitter followers who will stand by you in and out through thick or thin but those selective bunch of people whom you can count on. These are the friendships that will be cherished and appreciated. They are the group of people you hope to have around when you are old, meet up for drinks,and if lucky, spend retirement with.

Ashish & Me.
Ashish & Me.

Sadly,in my lifetime I have lost many friends along the way. Maybe because I blurted out a few things that did not go down well or at times they did not appreciate my honesty or they also might have said things which were not okay with. As selfish as I may sound, it’s good that they are no more part of my life. I feel blessed with the fact that by having only a selective few bunch of friends who are there for me, I value and cherish them equally.

So wrapping up the post highlighting my closeness and gratefulness towards my selected few friends that I am proud to call my close knit associates. Share with me on how many such friends do u have?

 

20 Lessons Life Has Taught Me in 2015.

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Kickstarting Tuesday with a perspective over my life, trying to analyze life’s lessons that I’ve learnt in 2015. Clearly, I’ve learnt atleast 20 valuable lessons that have moulded me to be where I am so far. The year is quarterly complete, I wonder what the number will be at the end of December. For now, here are 20 valuable lessons life has taught me in 2015 so far.

1.Be empathetic towards others: They say being empathetic requires you to stand in someone else  shoes. While it comes more like an intuition,I strongly think it is a skill that one can develop and developing empathy  has made me  a totally different person.

2.Become Independent: I’ve come to understand that being independent makes you happy. After all you came into this world by yourself so you will have to learn to live survive alone. This is a fortunate lesson that I’ve comprehended to benefit from my independence. It keeps me motivated to do things by myself.

3. Family is my support system: Surely, one of the best gifts you receive is family. They will always be there for you no matter what and staying connected is vital especially when I am home away from home.

4.My friends are diamonds in the ruff: I value my close knit friends who are always omnipresent for me whenever I am in need of them.

5. Make exercising a habit: I suddenly feel like I am getting old and I have to join a gym or atleast start exercising regularly to lift up my age a bit!

6. Eat well, eat good food: Consumption of food rich in proteins and vitamins is essential for anybody.My diet now includes a whole lot of fresh veggies and fruits and off course chicken/mutton/eggs for that extra protein.

7. Traveling: I’ve come to discover my true love for traveling. It is influential in making me more independent with a better view on life.

8. Quit worrying about others: I’ve learnt to also stop sweating over what others think of me. You really cannot keep everyone around you happy all the time.

9.Conversing with my subconscious mind: It may sound stupid but the power of the subconscious mind is amazing. It will help you in shaping to be a better human being.

10. Limit Drinking: I am beer fanatic and I after dousing a lot of beer over the past, I’ve not learnt to reduce my intake. Drinking less beer increases my time to do other things.

11. Reading is my new skill: I love this new skill. I’ve just started reading a lot of worth read material. I find it gives me better insight into the world and life in general.

12. Avoid TV/Media/News: I consciously avoid media and news. I find it to stress me out. So I prefer staying away from the idiot box. I mean anything from commercials to soap operas to even news debates triggers a sense of negativity.

13. Writing: From writing in this blog , I’ve developed the skill to write posts regularly. I am not sure how many views I get ,but the satisfaction that I get from sharing my point of view with the world motivates me to write more.

14. Don’t underestimate anyone: Everyone you encounter  will have amazing talents which we may not be aware off. Judging someone by his looks or his nature of job is pure stupidity.

15. Don’t burn bridges: over the year I was involved in a few exchange of opinions with many people, it cost me my relationships with them. I have realized that I should have made amends.

16. I love myself: I’ve finally stopped scrutinizing myself and finding faults. I am now living in a world where my happiness matters the most to me. The only motive for my survival is this one mantra :I have to be happy everyday. I know its not easy but am going to try.

17. Smile more: A smile is free, and smiling costs nothing, it makes my environment around much more pleasant also it’s a good exercise.

18. Learnt to lesson more and talk less : It came quite natural to me to speak more and listen less. After I realized that this was a folly and needed to be turned around, I have worked hard to change it to listening more and speaking less.

19. Help unconditionality: You quickly learn that once you start helping others without a return favor, you will find immense happiness with yourself. I am sure it is one thing that  karma will bring to you.

20. Move on and live in the present: Accepting everyday is going to be different is my last lesson. Now I really don’t dwell in the past.

Pray4Nepal

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Rescue efforts are in full swing as the depredation caused by the earthquake in Nepal and surrounding nations has brought life to a sad still. Images flashing across social media and news networks are only an infinitesimal proportion of the havoc nature has caused over the weekend.

The quake registered at a magnitude of 7.8 on the richter scale that also triggered deadly avalanches on Mount Everest.Then there were the aftershocks that hit the valley and caused more devastation.The death toll from Nepal’s earthquake is rapidly climbing with several injured and many more displaced without food and water.

Nepal is devastated and with news coming in over the profound loss of life and damages, one can only hope and pray for Nepal.

Last year I visited Nepal for about twenty days and stayed in Kathmandu for the start-up ecosystem coverage. I fell in love with the country and its people, liked everything about its culture and heritage. I made some really good friends as well. Luckily, most of them have informed me that they are safe. In the wake of such a natural calamity, we who are seated far from the epicenter of this tragic event can in some small way make an impact to save a life.

Here is what we should do:

Spread the word of organizations that are performing ground work to rescue and let the world know on ways to contribute. With access to internet and social media, we can connect to people across the world requesting for aid, help and relief for those affected.

Help connect  locals with their relatives who are stuck or reported missing via social media [It is already happening via Sushma Swaraj who is reverting back directly)

Donations big and small are welcome. You can contribute financially to NGO’s or even make small attempts of donating blankets, clothes, food items to serve those displaced from their homes.

Reduced call tariffs to Nepal. Viber, Airtel and BSNL telecom companies have reduced call tariffs to Nepal so that people can connect with their loved ones.

With the Facebook Safety Check feature you can tag your loved ones and check for their safety.

Google has opened its Person Finder tool to aid earthquake relief efforts in Nepal.Person Finder 2015 Nepal Earthquake by google.

If you are in Nepal, use Kathmandu Living Labs  to report situation in your area.

You can follow the following people on Twitter if you think you can help or in need of some help @nirajanme  @lok123  @DeepakAdk @bimalmaharjan  handling the crisis.

Also note the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu Helplines numbers : +977 9851107021, 9851135141

If you still cannot make any significant contribution from your end, a simple prayer for hope and relief is a great way to contribute as well. A pray for all those who are involved in rescue efforts, those suffering with loss of loved ones and for those missing and trapped. Let us join together and #Pray4Nepal.

Related stories:

Nepal earthquake: Death toll rises above 3,000

Viber Offers Earthquake Victims Free International Calls From Nepal

Nepal earthquake: BSNL, MTNL, Airtel allow cheaper calls for three days

How to help victims of Nepal quake

PS: On a personal front this tragedy has affected my hometown that is situated in the northern part of the state of Bihar. Fortunately, the impact and devastation is not as bad as Nepal. The sad news is that almost 50 people have been reported dead in Bihar.

 

 

On Substandard Marketing

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Lately, I’ve been receiving a lot of mails related to PMP training & other skill development for freshers. So I found a reason to write a post considering my inbox is spamming with this content. I wonder, if I am the only one getting these kind of mails/promotional campaigns via the email medium or targeted ads on social media? If so, why and how effective are these kind of campaigns for someone like me?

Here is my take on how this can be done but in a much better way:

Age Group : First of all know your audience. These campaigns/mails should be targeted on the basis of age groups and background checks if you will. For ex, I am unmarried and have no blasted  interest of buying baby diapers with a 30% discount!!! What a waste of my time and theirs!

Demography: If your product suits a particular demographic or area then plainly focus on that rather than mass advertising, Pushing irrelevant ads/campaigns of a product available/to be purchased in the United States is not going to capture my interest, leave alone market it.

Punchline: Why can’t emails have smarter subject lines? If I open an email or click on my timeline to navigate to the product page, I am expecting instant answers to advertising. I mean, it should clearly tell me what the offer is in less than 5 seconds of navigation..

Wrong Channels: Not that I’m complaining knowing fully well how much money circulates in advertising, but the logic is simple. Placing ad campaigns on wrong mediums is a waste of money. For instance, not everyone in India is on twitter so who cares what is available there?

Overdoing: I am least interested in receiving or viewing the same ad’s on every site I visit in a day either as a popup or as a banner, ridiculous! It will only make me dislike the product ever more. Its like being on twitter and 5 times a day promoting the same book every time, I simply cannot take it and chose to mute you.

I know some marketing agency or brands are taking care of their marketing and advertising on social media but the road ahead is a long one and the efforts are not good enough. We go to do better.

 

Notes from Chris Sacca/Jason This week in startup conversation.

Chris Sacca is considered as one of the best Unicorn hunters[In my observation 🙂 ]. In Investors term “Unicorn” means companies which are disruptive and have redefined the way we are using technology besides billion $$ evaluation. He has invested in over 40 companies almost every other top companies that you know or are aware of! He is currently perched on multi billion $$ funds and is busy identifying his next unicon. Some of his notable investments include Twitter, Photobucket, Instagram, Kickstarter among several others that you can aptly find on Angel List  Thanks to @jason for inviting him to his weekly show where we the audience got to learn more about Chris and his ideologies.

 You can watch the series here( note: grab a cup of coffee or beer as it is a long clip and yes Chris and Jason interactively chatted for over 2 hours)

I on the other hand, have made small notes of Chris conversation with Jason.Take a look!

  1. Firstly he says, “Respect everyone” and we all agree.
  2. Chris accurately mentions that money comes & goes, it is limited.
  3. He believes in building relationships that lasts long.
  4. Don`t be afraid to put your opinion out there, loud and clear for all to hear!
  5. You don`t have to be afraid of losing your job as you will always find a better one if you are willing to try harder.
  6. Whenever you have an idea, find someone to implement it for you
  7. He says there is too much money circulation in the market. As a result, the quality of startups emerging has increasingly deteriorated.
  8. Believe in entrepreneurs who have the zeal and passion to accomplish.
  9. He jokes that beer is good and acts as an idea propeller drawing people to open up and discuss freely. I could not have agreed better, as even in my case I have made some good friends over a pint of beer.
  10. You don’t need big college degrees or diplomas to be successful in life. I think he is referring to being just smart in the mind.
  11. To garner experiences, you may have to work at smaller companies/places to learn and get some valuable experience.
  12. Take risks calculatively but don’t ever be scared of failure.
  13. He quips that we often take ourselves too seriously and that is a result of our depreciations.

A valuable talk and interaction that has thrown some light on how to advance with startups. I agree a hundred percent with his thoughts and hope you agree!

 

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.