Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Resolutions Review

So another year comes to an end. It has been ten years since I left my childhood home in 2000 after my tenth standard. 
I have come from Adilabad to America :) .. Its a cliche, but I want to look back. I want to thank my parents & brother for everything they have done for me. :). Thanks to dear wife for the wonderful moments we shared.Oh ya, I am sorry that we are not together as I write this,but most of the wait is over. Thanks to all my friends & colleagues who have helped me, supported me and encouraged me. Life wouldn't have been this great but for you. Thanks to my teachers & mentors for patiently guiding and growing me. 

With that gratitude, let me review the goals for this year. 
1. Health:
wake up at 6 am daily -
Not a success as being onsite, to talk with people in India, I had to sleep late which inevitably makes me wake up late. 
Exercise and run daily
I think I exercised for about a month, and then I went to different place and ran out of habit. And winter came and I completely forgot about running
Run a half marathon
No progress but it is going straight into my next year resolutions. 
Drink a smoothie daily (almost)
Did it for few days, then I didn't have car to buy fruits from costco and fell out of habit. Not sure it is going into next year goals though. 

2. Career
Avoid multitasking as much as possible
Old habits die hard. This is one of them, I get distracted very easily and it has not been an easy task to become more focussed and having more attention to detail. It is a work in progress and I would rate this was a good success. I used software tools, pep-talk, hard rules and still found it difficult to do one thing at a time. Finally, one technique called Pomodoro has helped me habitualize this. This is a simple system and you should try this if you want to become more focused. 

Do the best with what you have -  ( Should have zero issues with my work )
Ok this is not a smart goal, because it is not really measurable. But even with this ambiguous condition, I have to say, my best is far above what I have done. Due to the lack of attention to detail, made some blunders but apart from that a good year with work. 

Join another degree - either political science or Green energy
Hmm, didn't officially join due to disadvantages due to being on H1. But had a lot of education reading Hacker News. Hacker news is the single source after Kathy Sierra which made me get interested in UX & design.
Learnt a lot of interseting things like. 
Everyone can be creative by shipping - Seth Godin
 Real Artists Ship - Steve Jobs. If you like to receive links to interesting articles like this, follow me on twitter @thisisananth

So in this way, I am getting education without the degrees. Anyway, degrees are not required if you  are consistently creating things. 

3. Relations
Strengthen relations with existing friends with emphasis on giving
Develop relations with people in fields of interest ( alt energy, raw foods, music, pd)
Go to a trip with family once

I am in US now, so couldn't go to family vacations this year but apart from that I reconnected with lot of my school mates and new friends through facebook and my blog. This has been a very good year in this regard. Hopefully we will grow lifelong friendships. :) 

4. Finances
Earn 30 lakhs :) 
Hmm, wanted to test law of attaction with this but it fell flat :) Though, I saved more than all the other years in my life , fell far far short of that figure. I reached just 10% of the said figure. 

5. Personal
Write 60 blog posts atleast
Ohh.ya done :)
Write a short story and publish it.
Done - here
Read atleast 10 books this year and write the reviews
Fell short of ten but read some books though
and three other telugu novels. 

Apply and use 'Ten faces of innovation' in work to have atleast one innovation.
None I can think of  ..!!! Actually I didn't use them  ;) 

Apart from that I actually overcame the laziness to write an android application. :) 

So thats my year.. Hope you all had a great year 2010. I wish you, my friend, a very happy new year 2011. 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

My top ten telugu songs for 2010

In continuation with the tradition of listing the best telugu songs of every year, I have prepared the list of best telugu songs for 2010. For my non-telugu friends, music has no language bounds, so you can listen and enjoy them. Yesteryears links 2009, 2008

1. Aunana Kadana - Leader  (Mickey J.Meyer)

2. Manasa - Ye Maya Chesave (A.R. Rehman)

3. Neeve Neeve  - Darling (G.V Prakash Kumar)

4. Nenu Nuvvantu - Orange (Harris Jayraj)

5. Inumulo oka hrudayam - Robot (A.R Rahman)

6. Nee Yeda lo naaku chote vadde - Awara  (Yuvan Shankar Raja)

7. Sreelu pongina - Leader (Mickey J Meyer)

8. Rooba Rooba  - Orange (Harris Jayraj)

9. Hossana - Ye Maya Chesave (A.R Rahman)

10. Vintunnava - Ye Maya Chesave (A.R Rahman)

Songs which almost made it to the list

Ninnu Nannu - Maro Charitra

Telugammayi - Maryada Ramanna

Inka Edo - Darling

Hello Rammante - Orange

Chilipiga - Orange

Neelo Valapu - Robot

These songs are different lyrics wise and music wise

Chari - Adurs

Taxi - Khaleja

Cmon Cmon - Thakita thakita.

Nee Navvule - Emaindi Ee vela

Ammayi kitiki pakkana koorchundi  - Maryada Ramanna

Listen to the songs and have happy holidays.. :)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Delicious shutting down - Is it the end of free in freemium ?

Delicious shuts down: One free web service I use frequently is biting the dust. I joined quite late into the delicious party but after I got used to it, the delicious bookmarklet was the first bookmarklet on my browser. It was really very good and I used to refer back to those bookmarks to find  - something which I remember having read but can't remember now - articles. I am really sad to see it go. If you have used delicious and want to atleast back up all the bookmarks you have saved, you can export all those bookmarks here.

Other shutdowns of popular products:  I think lot of web services will start to feel the heat and web services which are not able to to monetize may shut down or start to charge for services. Google shut down its notebook service also which I was using. Now evernote has taken that place which has premium accounts and it is rumoured to be making good revenue.Evernote has raised a lot of money and after the growth of the company peaks, it also might want to terminate its non paying customers. Ning a company which provides custom social networks removed the option of free from its packages and all the existing customers were asked to pay up or leave.

Will everyone start charging for services now?  There are two ways that a company can continue to provide its services for free, if it is either acquired by a big company - read google or microsoft or if it makes good money either by charging for services or by ads. Lets consider one by one

 Selling to a big company : Picnik, Youtube, GrandCentral (google voice) & many other companies acquired by google are still providing services for free. That doesn't mean it will always be like that. The founders of those companies will become rich but there is no guarantee that the services will keep running.  Delicious is best example of what will be wrong with this approach.If the new company thinks it is useless or does not fit in with its agenda, it will shutdown. So no company whose motto is selling to another company can be trusted to remain functional for ever.

Money from ads: Companies can make money by serving ads on the site. This is popularized by google. Blogger, Youtube, GMail and all big google properties are subsidized this way. Though there is no danger of these being discontinued in the short term there are some threats to this approach too. Adblocker extension on Firefox and Chrome will block all ads on a web page and you have to whitelist certain sites to enable ads like I enabled to see ads from that site. And how many people will take that pain of enabling those ads?  And Facebook is giving a good threat to google. Don't you think with all the facebook connect information can't facebook show ads on the pages which have activated Facebook Connect ? I think it is only a short time before facebook starts federating its ads. If google loses its relevance or lot of people switch to facebook ads, is it possible that Google can keep supporting bandwidth hogs like Youtube indefinitely. This raises a question which webservice can be trusted to run forever? Which brings us to the third way a company can make money

Charging for services:  Companies can earn money the old fashioned way by charging for services. Lot of companies already charge for services but I think we will see more and more companies starting to charge for services.

Not everyone will start charging for services. Notably all those places which can attract lot of eyeballs like facebook, youtube or google might always be free because by their nature the more people they can bring they earn more. So they might make more than they use and hence they can be free but more services where it is not possible to be subsidized by ads, the companies will charge for sure.

How different it is from freemium ?
The difference is that you will not get free servies indefinitely. Today even if you will not pay you can use tumblr to host your blog indefinitely. Evernote allows you to save notes indefinitely even if you never pay anything to use it within a limit. But the difference which i see it the services will become time-limited. So you can only try but not really use a service. You have to pay to use it. 

I am not saying this is true for  news or other data where the cost of incremental stuff is zero but for web services where each new free customer has a cost associated with him/her however small the cost might be.

Update: A cool service call is poised to replace delicious not in the same way but now a days, if we like something we just share it on twitter or facebook, not to delicious right. Trunkly indexes the links we share on twitter or facebook and is searchable.. So grab a spot for this here

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Thoughts on seeing a person getting fired..

 Our QA person comes to office after a ten day vacation to a popular destination. He showed us the photos of his vacation. I and my colleague went through all the pics which were in hundreds. He was beaming showing us the pics saying that he was planning this vacation from a long time. I was very happy for him.

Little did we know that all that change on Monday. On monday he came to office as usual. Our CTO also came to office. He is a very busy person so he travels quite a lot. Generally our QA person comes to lunch with us. On Monday, we forget to call him when we went to lunch. When we were having lunch, my colleague Murali reminded me we forgot to invite him. I went inside after lunch and when i saw him I put a sorry face showing the expression that I forgot to call him for lunch. We opened our mailboxes and we were in for a shock. Our CTO sent a mail.  "We thank XX for his services to the company. He will no longer be part of our team effective immediately" (Emphasis mine). Yes thats it, by the time we saw the mail, we couldn't see that person. I called him and he said he was down stairs smoking. He said that it happened very casually. They said that his job was being performed from some other location and he would not be needed. He will be given one more pay check for 15 days (because he has completed two years, otherwise he will be given just one week pay) and then from there he is all by himself. The company has filed his visa, green card, so I think the person was pretty much committed to this company.

I was shell shocked with this incident. I have heard numerous times that Americans have a hire and fire policy. But I have never seen it in action so closely. The fact that it is done without any prior intimation and they way they just said - effective immediately- and closing all access (Laptop was taken) made me feel very bad. I for once felt very lucky that we were just contractors from a different company and so even if we were fired, we will be sent back to India. I really applaud my company for retaining everyone during the downturn even when it was difficult. I don't say that they have to keep every employee even if they don't have any work or however bad they are but I feel they should be given proper intimation as soon as the manager knows and not being so surgical (effective immediately) would be lot better.

This also shows the perils of coming on a H1 visa to the land of opportunities. Luckily our QA person's wife also works. So he can get by with her salary atleast. Imagine a person coming on H1 and losing his job. Even if it take just one month to get a new job, just imagine the stress he would be in till he gets a job. If intimated before, it goes a long way in making the transition easier and the employee is more likely to have a favorable view of the comapny. It is in the best interest of the employee as well as the employer for  the employer has to be more humane during this time.

Reminded of lot of things after this - Of the many things  the famous quote of Narayana Murthy of Infosys - "Love your job but not your company"  - well said by the man of experience. I am also reminded of what rude shocks you get when you are caught off guard by the company from the movie Up in the air. To know what I mean watch the video below

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Car Stories - Part 2 (My Adventures on U.S Roads)

I  have previously written about how car-addicted society U.S is here. Then I lamented about how I am not able to do anything because I don't have a car. So now I bought a car. I wrote about my first impressions about driving on U.S roads here. So these are some of my experiences driving the car in a utterly new country. I do know the rules - Stop at stop sign, maintain speed limit, yield and drive on right side of the road etc - or otherwise how could they have given me license.  Somethings which we take from granted in India cannot be done here and therein lies the problem.

Two big things which you cannot do here are - 1.  you cannot stop and ask anyone for directions (Actually nobody walks on the roads - so even if you tried to do this, you will find no one to ask. And if you really tried to go near someone - they might be afraid that you have guns and shoot you before you even speak a word) 2. You cannot stop on the road wherever you want or TURN BACK or other direction once you passed it. So even though I know these things, the effects of these are not so clear if you don't experience it. So without further ado, this is my story.

Story 1: Even before I bought my car, I wanted to visit the temple at Bridgewater once. I was just interested to see how different it is from our temples. So when I bought a car, I wanted to drive there. I didn't have a GPS set at that time, so I hesitated a bit. But the Google maps application on my phone came to my rescue. I put the address in the maps and followed the instructions and successfully reached the temple. I was happy that I was able to drive that far without any problems. So I was a little relaxed when I was going back. The temple is at Exit 17 (think mile marker 17, except that you can go out of the highway only at that place) and my home was at Exit 40 on I-287.  It is a four lane highway on one side i.e 8 lane highway. We can enter and exit only from the rightmost lane i.e the exit lane. I was travelling on the lane to the left of the exit lane till exit 39. I was happy that I was about to reach my home. Suddenly I saw that I was not going towards exit 40 but I am on a different highway I-80. Thank Google, my phone gps safely brought me back to my home. Later I realized that highways merge into other highways and if you are not careful you might go into some other road and you might have trouble reaching your destination. So I came back after half an hour I was supposed to come home.

Story 2:  My friend Murali is with me now and he started enjoying whenever I went on a wrong route and took a detour. Now my GPS has a penchant of choosing highways over local roads. I don't have a way of knowing the route beforehand in GPS and I will get the instruction only in time. Sometimes it can give you instructions too late and then.. read the story. There is a highway near to our road with number 46.  We wanted to go to a grocery shop on the highway where I haven't gone before. So I put in the address in the GPS and started going.  I expected it to take me to 46 directly but instead my GPS has a penchant for choosing highways even if the destination is a mile apart. So instead of taking me on the local highway 46, it gave me instructions to on I-80. As in previous story, I enter highway 280 which divides into highway I-80. My GPS asks to keep left so that I can merge into I-80. So i was in the left lane, I merged into I-80 in the second lane from left and I had to pass two more lanes to get into exit lane.   Two seconds after I merged to I-80 my GPS asks me to go the rightmost lane and exit in about a 100ft. How the hell can I just pass two lanes to the right without knowing it before hand. So I did as you expected. I missed the exit. As I cannot go back, I had to look for the next exit. I had to take and missed exit 47. The next exit was exit 53, 6 miles ahead. So I had to go all the way to exit 53 and go in a roller coaster, yes three lanes going right, two lanes to the left, two lanes forward, get out of the highway, turn back and come on to the highway and travel all the way 6 miles back again and I reached my starting point again. For a half an fifteen minutes journey it was already one hour and I was again at my starting point. I started again to go to the shop as I was determined to see if I can follow the instruction of the GPS. This time as I knew that I had to take exit 47, I cleared the lanes fast and reached the exit lane just in time. This taught me another lesson  - Never trust GPS blindly. Always review the route beforehand on google maps so that you will have an idea of where to take the next turn. Or be ready to travel 12 miles more for a grocery store nearby. To give you an idea of how superb the roller coaster ride was just see the image above.