My Writings. My Thoughts.
We did some brainstorming & had short spurts of chit-chats over random topics. A part of this conversation was reviving the OCC Kolkata chapter. In fact, when Sumit suggested his idea, he didn’t even know he was talking about reviving OCC
Sumit hyperactively said that we could create a group of a few people in the city, who could meet regularly and work together, meanwhile sharing & discussing ideas and be helpful to each other. The basic concept of crowdsourcing per se.
How the picture was drawn.
I told him about the existing OCC Kolkata community, how it started in July last year out of my post-jaundice pastime and its current state, where Amitabh was frantically trying to survive the community.
It was at this point when we decided to take a plunge on this. And after two weeks of lethargy(We’re in Kolkata. You have to spare us for that ), I got in touch with Amitabh, we started shooting emails to each other much faster than the frequency of the consistent strikes in Kolkata, and eventually decided to imbibe the original concept of Saul Klein in Kolkata’s OCC, about which you can read more here and even more here!
And that was not very far behind. It was just this last Sunday! We closed the topic by Monday. Sumit took up the job of writing a blogpost & circulating it. Everyone else among us and the HeadStart Kolkata team decided to tweet & retweet about it!! A day-clash with something called the Toastmasters Club which happens every week on Tuesdays prompted us to schedule OCCs on Wednesdays instead of Tuesdays. So, we decided that we will arrange for internet, wi-fi & meet twice every week on Wednesdays & Saturdays. Wednesdays in the Sector-V CCD & Saturdays in the Park Street CCD!
Well, what it apparently meant was that the re-shaped OCC Kolkata would start off on my 25th birthday !!
The first new-faced OCC Kolkata – when it happened
On the D-day, me being sick joined in a bit late. But, when I reached, I found there were already 7 other people there. All were happily working. Bingo! That was a surprise!
Lending a supposedly incomplete list of people who’d come down, from Sumit’s blog:
- Sumit Datta
- Saikat Singha
- Prashant Verma
- Pallav Nadhani
- Sumana Chakraborty
- Sougata Pal
- Samiran Ghosh
- Mitesh Ashar(myself)
- Nitesh Ambuj
- Abishek Rungta
- Nikita Poddar
- Debashish Mohanty
Now, as I see the first OCC after the re-design, the response was simply fantabulous. Apart from the number of people who turned up over the span of the whole day, there were people who took back some value, which has had been the lacking part, as I can say from personal feedback I have received from so many people.
Among others, Sumana, who is a copywriter, got 3 leads!
Where as, Abhishek & Pallav, who are planning to come up with an angel fund based out of Kolkata, actually ran the idea through the people present and crowdsourced the name of their angel investment firm! As requested by them, the name of the company is still a secret, and they’ve promised to launch the fund at one of the OCC Kolkata happenings!! They have also promised to have a cake-cutting ceremony on the day of the launch at OCC!!
Not to mention, there were a lot of mini-discussions with different results for different people, while they worked on their laptops, sipping on to coffees and munching sandwiches.
If not anything, you are at least doing the work that you would have anyways done otherwise!!
What’s next?? Yes… Next is the next OCC. Now it will keep on happening. Every Wednesday & every Saturday.
For this Saturday, the venue is going to be one of the CCDs in or around Park Street. We’re still contemplating which one to go for. Suggestions about this are welcome. To know the venue, follow either me or Sumit on twitter.
Once we crowdsource a definite venue, it will get fixed & come what may, if you walk in on one fine Wednesday or Saturday, you shall definitely find at least a bunch of few enthusiastic chaps to sit and work with
So, more of it this Saturday! Catch you there!!
Update: Please do join the OCC Kolkata mailing list here: http://groups.google.com/group/occ-kolkata
Update: Please follow the hashtag #occkol on twitter for updates on the timing, venue
It started in the comment form on Manan’s blog, but when it started becoming so large, I decided to make it a blog post on my blog.
Well well well!! Max has made some points here!!
I am sorry to say that a person who has spoken about how things need to be presented to people, seems to have himself not been able to do it effectively.
Now, why would I say that? Mainly because I had to go through his whole post on BBC twice to actually figure out what the point he’s actually making in this post is.
As I see it, he has basically pointed out how people tend to make mistakes in the manner they present & in the way they select and represent their content.
He has done this apparently while attempting to – as the title of the news item suggests – find the core problem that Power Point as a tool carries.
As a person who carries some interests in user experience & usability, I find some of his points here very interesting and useful.
What is the point Max is trying to make?
Mr. Max here, in brief, is saying that:
Power Point is an amazing tool. But, it carries a flaw of usability. It is more usable to create content in a certain manner(paragraphs, bullets) and fails to make other functionalities easily usable(like the ability to add visual representation of data or ideas or thoughts).
My argument to that
Well, yes. Of course the way data/ideas are represented are important. But, blaming a tool which empowers people to do this in n number of ways for not being able to make the user use the `better` ways, is not really justified.
Specially, when Power Point actually gives an effective solution to all of these:
- You want to use paragraphs of text for the user to read
- You want to use sets of large sentences mangled together
- You want to use brief <15 word bulleted sentences
- You want to use images to represent your ideas/content
- You want to use graphical tools to represent your data
- A lot of other options or possibilities can be definitely worked out, and are out of the scope of this exhaustive bulleted list
The above functionalities are all enablers. They help you represent your content in the way you want.
As I see it, whatever Max has mentioned in his article, are more decisive attributes of the presenter, rather than the tool(Power Point).
The presenter has all the power on Power Point to disentangle his web of content and draw it out to people, but there are a few possible reasons I can think of why he/she is not successful in doing it:
- The presenter knows shit about presenting. He just copy pastes data, in whatever disposable form available to him through various resources, right into the presentation.
- The presenter is a lazy a**. Although he has time, he wants to do it quick and hence, he `doesnt want` to use the features available to him.
- Irrespective of the representation of the content, the presenter just doesn’t know how on earth to interact with his audience.
- The presenter has nothing to say to the audience. He’s only there to read out what the presentation carries.
Like I mentioned above, all of these are things that can be improved on by the presenter.
The tool gives us all the options. It depends on us, how we use them.
The first one is a award-winning presentation by @thakkar for Slideshare‘s annual contest. It speaks out. And if you know @thakkar, I’m sure you can visualise this. If he would be in front of you presenting this, you would have spent around 90% of your time listening to him and the remaining 10% to actually imagine yourself eating Pani Puri(thanks to the images).
The second one is of types available in abundance, that I randomly picked up from Slideshare. Take a look at it.
Both have been made using Power Point. The only difference is, @thakkar has represented the content in a more eye-appealing and brief manner, while the other presenter has not.
So, Power Point is just a tool. It is an enabler. Don’t blame it for what the presenter has done.
P.S. This topic will always remain open-ended. It will draw comments from various schools of thought.
Please do not flame or get into a recursive debate here.
But, yes do make yourself heard without doing the above by adding your views through the comments.
A noun does a verb in/on a noun.
Ask me what crap am I talkin about.
- This post carries a high probability of the reader considering it to be crap.
- Whenever I utter crap on this rarely updated blog(or so it seems to me), I will tag it with & categorize it as Acting Drunk.
OK. It is this shady time. I suddenly felt the urge to blog this up, with enough other action items pending. Strange person I am. All blogposts of mine carry these: (I am a lazy blogger | I will now blog | I am here out of the blue moon). So, I thought I shouldn’t deprive you of the deeps**t that I write in each post. Hence, this paragraph sits here
Now, coming back to the first statement I made: A noun1 does a verb on a noun2
With reference to the term ‘twitterer’ and its usage by the people flocking twitter(us), twitterer is the 1st noun, twittering is the verb & twitter is the second noun, i.e. “twitterer does twittering on twitter“.
So, in this case the verb twittering is derived from the noun twitter, and the word twitterer is derived from the verb twittering.
Now, the point I am trying to make here is that tweet is a much more commonly used verb(also derived from the noun twitter). This can be easily verified by comparing the frequency of updates on twitter search results for the verb twittering and those for the verb tweet.
Drawing this analogy into the statement I started this post with would gimme: “tweeter tweets on twitter“.
This is hence a humble request to all the tweeters listening, not to use the term twitterer and to rather use the term tweeter.
Hold on!! At this point of time when I used the divine Google search engine, I found what tweeter means in as well as out of context on urbandictionary.com. Doesn’t really sound good in(meaning # 3) as well as out(meaning # 3) of the twitter context. So, it looks like I will have to change the humble request above to an appeal.
After reading the meaning of tweeter on urban dictionary, I strongly appeal not to use the term tweeter for people who tweet. Twitterer (as you might have read above), twitterati & tweople are other alternatives to this potentially harmful term on twitter.
I had a particular problem on my prepaid Vodafone connection. I lodged a complaint on the Consumer Online Resource & Empowerment Centre. The complaint in itself is definitive of the whole case and conveys the point I want to make. So, I have pasted the exact complaint that I have posted on CORE’s website.
Given below is the complaint:
Title : Unauthorised Charge for Caller Tunes
Complaint ID : xxxxx
Complaint Details : I am subscribed to a Vodafone Prepaid Mobile
connection with the number 9xxxxxxxxx
Automatic incoming calls from Mobile Service Providers is a norm. One type
of such calls was missed by me on the morning of 09/03/2009. These numbers
are normal 10 digit mobile numbers and not distinguishable as promotional
I called back the number. I was told by the IVR its a free call. I
realised it was a call for Caller Tunes. Incidentally, I had been planning
to activate it around that time. So I thought of going through the options
of songs available.
I was listening to the songs on the Bollywood menu I had entered by
pressing the specified key.
After the songs in that menu exhausted(I had not pressed any key
indicating selection of song), I was asked whether Caller Tunes was
already activated for me. 1 for Yes. 2 for No. I pressed 2. Suddenly the
system tells me that the caller tune had been set. After disconnection of
the call I received their sms’.
I was charged Rs. 45 in an unauthorised fashion, without my consent.
I called up their Customer Care twice on that day. They heard me out and
said we’ll transfer your call. And in that process the line disconnected.
Today, I had called them up again & the call was eventually
transferred to one of their special CC executives.
I explained the whole thing to her & told them to reverse Rs. 15 &
I would change my caller tune to one of my choice.
She told me that what I said was valid, but they didn’t have any procedure
to reverse it if I had called in the number, and even if I visited their
Gallery, it wouldn’t be reversed. Only it had got activated on the
incoming call & not the outgoing call would have it been reversed.
The amount is small here, but the concern here is the
(maybe intentional) glitch in their system, which must be charging all the
users without consent. Most users think it is a small amount and let it
be, but with these drops they making an ocean of unauthorised revenue at
the cost of their customers. I would call this openly robbing the
It would be great to have an explanation from Vodafone about the fact that
their systems are prepared or programmed to rob us, but when one of us
realises we’ve been robbed, they say there is no procedure(or their
systems arent programmed to reverse this amount). WHY?
And first of all, WHY should such a major glitch be existing in their
Moreover, there is a small issue with the CORE website as well which I wanted to blog about right away alongwith this.
Today is 03/11/2009(11th of March, 2009) & I lodged the complaint at around 5 PM. Look at the snapshots below and they should be enough to convey what I want to say.
Although officially WiCampKolkata was the first BarCamp-based unconference in Kolkata, but I didn’t really think it was as unconferency. I would call that the first WiCamp in Kolkata, being a part of a series of them being held by Pavan throughout India.
Now, what we have tomorrow is the first BarCampKolkata. There is a nice percentage of people coming from IIT Kharagpur and quite a lot of regular BarCampers and startups from Kolkata and other cities are joining in.
The concept has pulled off for the first time in Kolkata and I am really excited about the BarCamp happening in my own city, thanks to the extensive efforts of a second year IIT-Kh student, Ramkumar.
I am really looking forward to have some fun and enjoy the fun and networking in the camp. Hope to see you there folks. To register, you visit the wiki on http://www.barcampkolkata.org/
I know I have not been regular on the blog. I blog about my irregularity in every alternate irregular post of mine . As you may have figured out, I am a lazy ass when it comes to blogging.
Now, don’t expect me to write in resolutions that I will blog in 2009. I don’t want to write resolutions on paper which I am not sure I would be able to maintain. But yeah, I will definitely blog when I feel like doing it, and it could be regular
OK. First let me wish you a very Happy New Year ahead.
So 2008 is officially gone now. There was something about the year. It was highly eventful. A lot happened and among the so many other things what I would like to talk about is the numerous terrorist attacks in the country. What was different in the last one was that it affected the high-society and hence the remembrance of it by the society and the government has been pretty long. What needs to be seen is how much action happens and how many things change due to this remembrance.
On the personal front, 2008 was looong. I completed my engineering, joined a job, left it and even started up on my own. My new company’s name is Digital Canvas. It is going to be the banner under which I wish to launch a couple of my ideas that have been evolving but rotting in my mind since I was in my final year. And, on the forefront, the company offers design & development services for the web and print media. My specialisation in WordPress also carries on to the list of the company’s services.
Fine. So, were you waiting for 2009? I was. With hopes for the recession to flow out and terrorism to be eradicated among other things. Here’s a list of top 10 things you might be interested in, that my friend Anupam Gupta wants not to happen in 2009.
I write this post in response to the post “The Startup WorkForce : A Proposal to the Community” by Vijay Anand which he has published here & here and the comments on the post by various people on both the blogs.
This post is going to have two aspects to it.
- Addressing the point of discussion, i.e. growing the Startup workforce in quantity & quality.
- The other facet basically is about the bigger picture, viz. the need of a well-knit ecosystem that needs to exist in the country, which is the universal set containing the problem under the scanner.
Who to hire?
Now, if you’ve read, Vijay’s post talks about how to go about building up a flow of skilled workforce which can join startups and give them some fruitful returns. Now, what is the kind of employees that a startup looks for. Startups should definitely be aversive towards candidates who require spoon-feeding. The reason behind this is that a startup needs people who can think and act, rather than those who need to be instructed and taken from one step to another carefully. I would list out a few characteristics of a candidate who could be a prospective employee for a startup:
- Initiative-taker & go-getter
The candidate should have the keeda in him to take the unusual or unconventional path/approach to solve a problem.
Not to mention, this is something even conglomerates or bigger established firms would look out for, but is like a basic requirement for a startup employee.
- Multi-faceted multitasker
This is important. A startup generally has lack of resources. If you hire a programmer who can also do some decent Photoshop or make a sales pitch or handle a logistical issue, when required, it is always going to be a boon for you.
Freshers or Experienced?
Let us consider the employment of freshers. Like Vijay mentioned in his comment, around 20% freshers in a college are smart enough to learn. The question is not whether they are smart enough to learn. The question is whether they are smart enough and have a will to learn on their own, which I would estimate to be around 3-4%(this again depends on the institute they are in). I do not say the remaining segment of the 20% are unemployable, but a employee-crunched startup that is doing some first stage recruitment, I would estimate these 3-4% go-getters to be the most prospective candidates. What Rajesh mentioned, may be vaguely matched to what I just said.
Deepak adds to this here, that with the recessions and the economic downslide, there is going to be a lot of experienced folks flocking out, who would be game towards working with a startup; then why do we need freshers?? My answer to this would be:
- Demand-Supply Mismatch
Experience is really valuable to a startup, but one thing that needs to be noticed is that like the experienced folks are growing, even the number of startups are exponentially growing. I bet there are hordes of startups who are not part of any of the various communities and hence untapped of when we sit down to count all of them, and they very much exceed the number of those who are present in the communities. So, there is a demand-supply mismatch heavier on the demands side, which needs to be met. So along with some experienced Einstiens we need loads of young energetic Wright Brothers as well.
- Thriving in a cash-crunch
Also, a majority of the startups are generally in a cash-crunch; some waiting to be funded and some against the idea of it. So cost of employment is a very determining factor in the startup’s hiring policy. And hiring able freshers after they’ve got the top-brass/core team, is undeniably the approach to meet their requirements at costs they can afford.
The problem at bay
- Like Alok mentioned, Vyaas mentioned & Krish mentioned time is a very highly constrained resource for an entrepreneur or a startup employee. In such a case, sustaining with this method of creating the training system doesn’t seem to be a very possible prospect, unless there are high monetary returns to it, which I shall write about in detail not sooner than the end of this bullet list.
- A very complex problem pointed out by Deepak is the internal disharmony that will exist even if the community-based solution is pulled off. This internal harmony will be born due to a competition among the startups to hire the best. Which is something that indicates short lifespan for such a community. We don’t want to build a community which we know is not going to sustain cohesively.
In Alok’s above mentioned comment, he has pointed out the possibility of doing this with a business model. Taking this up as a business model is not a bad option actually, and if well improvised, its a highly untapped opportunity. But, I feel the business would only thrive and grow if it strikes chord with the community and invokes healthy community engagement. One problem the business might face is the unwillingness of college students that fall in the said 20% (i.e. the majority of the trainees which the business or rather, the whole concept is going to target) to get trained by this new unknown organisation. The business primarily needs to focus on breaking this barrier while in its early stages.
Vijay has very rightly said in one of his comments the need to create a gulf between startups and the workforce. I am completely game with this concept because this, very importantly, ensures that only the enthusiastic go-getters would be able to get to you. So creating the gulf may even be looked at as an elimination process. The best thing about creating the gulf is it would increase the value of the jobs created in the startup ecosystem and also ensure that they are taken up by people who have had the sustainability to cross the gulf. The only thing that needs to be ensured is that this gulf doesn’t become too large or doesn’t contain too many obstacles. There has to exist a perfect blend of layoffs which should only shoo away the incritical mass and attracts the critical mass.
An Alternate Solution(my 2 dimes)
The communities existing in various forms in India to complement Startups & Entrepreneurship are well-scattered and unevenly concentrated. Some of the communities that exist are highly engaging and valued and some of the others are shaping up pretty well while the others have just taken their babysteps. This may be termed as the beginning of formation of very nascent & decentralised Startup Ecosystems across the country. In my observation, some of the places where we can say dependable ecosystems have started forming (in lowering order) are Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Delhi, Ahmedabad, apart from others which like I said are taking babysteps. If we want something to really happen, it should be the introduction of solubility of the communities among each other. They need to be gelled up, so that they can grow together. According to me, the training solution is supposed to be a subset of the larger problem of effectively connecting the community over the country.
What I propose is that instead of setting up a training community offline, grow a budding community online. Mind it, by growing the community online I don’t mean setting up just another Google/Yahoo group & asking everyone to join it. This approach will give you just another discussion group where people will thrive to ask questions that would land in the inboxes of people. And unless you have a gmail account, it will get flooded. What I am talking about is a custom web application that we can create for the community in India, which can streamline processes by implementing known and tested solutions like Q&A and Professional Networking, and develop a very simplicised job application that can help connect employers to prospective employees. I know on the surface of it, it looks like ‘just-another’ type of an idea. But I have a lot in mind, which could actually be a step towards improvising an amazing network in India. I am not asking for another job site to be created. It is rather an online ecosystem I have in mind for the country, which I expect to not only take care of workforce, but other aspects like connecting other relevant dots, letting people know of events happening all over India, etc. I know there are sites that exist to do some of this, but I want to make something different. Something that eases out stuff for all members of the ecosystem. Puts things on platter and serves it to them.
The crux of the whole thing doesn’t lie in making the online solution. That should just act as a support system to what the actual solution is. What is more important, is the necessity to grow the various communities in India, to do which I have lots of ideas cluttered in mind, which I want to refine myself. And not only grow them, but connect relevant dots and create a larger community that is more reliable and reflects a high level of cohesiveness from within. This refinement of ideas can happen only with your participation and discussion. I expect some of the experienced guys around to participate and maybe we can pull off a step that can create an amazing platform.
I expect comments about the whole lot of words I have posted above and about what you think can be done on an online community building website for the startup ecosystem.
- Due to my impatience to post this and the growing length of the post, the post might have missed out on some quality and proper conveying of ideas. I urge the experienced guys and the veteran players to evolve over my idea. Let us discuss this over, refine it and streamline it.
- I am game towards building this application, but before that I shall wait for the various inputs. People interested in helping with development, UI, process refinement, ideas are welcome to contact me.
Information and knowledge are two never-ending elements and people crave to gather as much of them as possible. Blogs have established themselves to be an alternate media and there are unimaginable number of blogs that have come into existence spanning across unimaginably wide topics. These blogs act as a continuous source of information, news, facts and so much more. Using a feed reader to subscribe to blogs you are interested in, can help you throw loads of quality & relevant-to-you content on yourself.
I have started following quite a lot of blogs on Google Reader. Google Reader is a web-based feed reader that helps you follow websites & blogs for new content. There are various options available if I want to follow feeds, but I preferred to use Google Reader because of the decent tagging system, which helps me organise my feeds and the email-inbox like interface that they have churned up.
So, you subscribe to blogs you are interested in and let Google Reader throw all of the information that is produced, right in front of you for you to consume. You need to be very choosy with the blogs that you subscribe to. Some blogs like Killer Startups might be very useful ones, but have 15-20 posts per day. So, if you really want to subscribe to such a blog, be very careful to keep clearing the lag and clutter and keep up with the pace of your subscribed blogs, else it would gradually take the form of those 1000′s-of-unread-emails like scenarios, which happened with my previous encounter with Google Reader, when I had over 10,000 unread posts.
So, what made me do a makeover and start off with my Google Reader all over again and not choose some other RSS feed reader?
I recently bought a smartphone, and then decided to start following feeds on it. I evaluated a few softwares, but didnt really find juice. And one fine day I casually checked out the mobile version of Google Reader from the Google Mobile homepage. What I found was a very simple, clean and intuitive interface to read your feeds.
After using it for around a month, I realised that there were a lot of blogs that weren’t really suitable to follow on the mobile, for e.g. PSDTUTS. So, lately I created a tag on Google Reader: Feeds for Mobile, and used it for all the blogs that I felt I would like to read on the mobile.
So, voila I now use up my travelling time or other idle time like lone tea breaks, etc. reading blogs on my mobile. And when I am on the computer, I read the remaining posts.
UPDATE: My smartphone got stolen and I am badly missing Google Reader on-the-go
Lethargy? No. This was not my blog lethargy again.
I got malaria that perfectly encapsulated BarCampMumbai4. I got into the hospital on Friday & out of it on Monday, and the barcamp was on Saturday and Sunday. I was really enthusiastic about this one, but this was the ‘vidhi ka vidhaan’ so cannot help it. Now I can only wait for the BCM5 planning to start.
The blog-lethargy is back..
There’s been a lot since I last blogged.
Now, I just got 1-month old at my first job at Convonix and I am enjoying it like anything. I find the environment much better and more flexible than those conglomerates around. Convonix has just grown out of the startup phase a short time back and is now over 4 years old. The learning curve is definitely going to be steeper and more diverse than what it would have been had I been with one of those biggies. Although there are some aspects I will miss out on, viz. large-teamwork and exposure to systems & operations of a company that is huge, but the diversity that I am in for here at Convonix clearly covers up for what I am going to miss.
Pulling off Open Coffee Club in Kolkata, which is now OCC kAdda 2.x, was a great experience in itself and it is really gratifying to see the shape that it is taking in Kolkata. Even more gratifying are the efforts of Amitabh right out of Bangalore, towards co-ordination of the kAddas.
The next kAdda is supposed to be held at the Oxford Bookstore, Park Street tomorrow(21st Sept 2008) at 12 PM. To be there check http://upcoming.yahoo.com/event/1103922/ and to join the Google Group you may visit http://groups.google.com/group/occ-kolkata.
Meanwhile, my desperation for the iPhone has been killed by the helpless Airtel & Vodafone. They have still not got their 3G licenses and they might have to pay premiums to acquire them. So, they priced the iPhone 3G as high as you must be already knowing, also banking on the Indian market trends of initial sky-high prices.
While my want for the iPhone 3G was already turned down, I evaluated my options, and zeroed in on the HTC Touch, but ended up buying the Nokia E61i after the Touch that was ordered for me by The Mobile Store guys had some issues with its packaging PLUS my friend recommended not to go for the Touch, because of his confirmed reports of service issues(he is a Dopod user). So, now my new 20-day young E61i is something that I am intrigued to use after having used Nokia 3315 for 2 years and LG RD3330(Reliance) for another 2 years.
With regards to events, here in Mumbai, we have been meeting up every week to plan the next BarCampMumbai4 which is happening on the 4th & 5th of October. The next meeting is tomorrow in IIT. For more about BarCamps & BCM4, check http://barcampmumbai.org