Self Parking Slippers and Chairs – Remarkable

February 4th, 2018

I came across this interesting article about self parking slippers in the newspaper today. My curiosity level went up when I realized it was from Nissan as a good friend of mine, Tony, is deeply involved in the thick of actions in technology there.

When I pinged him on this, he directed me to a post he had made on this topic a few days back, which led me to wealth of information on this topic, which is remarkable.

Self Parking Slippers

Self Parking Slippers

Nissan had taken this initiative to showcase to people about their ProAssist technology.  When you watch this video about the self parking slippers, you will be fascinated by it.

As I continued to watch this, I got to learn about ProPilot Chair, which shows how the same technology was used in a proof of concept for self parking chairs to make queueing system easy so that people do not have to stand up and sit down in a queue as they move ahead.

Due to their connected videos on this topic, I got a chance to learn about the self parking slippers, chairs, cushions, tables and even mats, a proof of concept done by Nissan to show case the technology behind their self parking cars.

The simplicity with which Nissan has explained the robustness of their ProAssist technology is remarkable, as it helps people relate to their day to day experiences and can imagine how exactly the same technology is available in the Self Parking vehicles coming from Nissan. Hats off to Tony and team at Nissan for this amazing way of explaining to the common man. This is a classic example of how you explain serious technology to common folks. This is an important lesson to learn from, for everyone involved in creating new technology to solve real world needs.

Data Mining Under 19 and Senior Indian Cricket Teams

February 3rd, 2018

As I am a big cricket fan, I watched the finals of the Under 19 Boys world championship between Australia and India. Congratulations to the Indian cricket team for winning it four times in the past 20 years or so.

Given my interests in data mining and also cricket, I dug up more facts about the results of the Under 19 tournaments and how many players from those teams managed to play for Indian Senior team.

The numbers are quite interesting.

50% of the team has come from Under 19 teams. Here is an example with the current T20 team:

Played Under 19 World Cup for India:

  1. Virat Kohli
  2. Rohit Sharma
  3. Shikhar Dhawan
  4. Dinesh Karthik
  5. Kuldeep Yadav
  6. Manish Pandey
  7. Lokesh Rahul
  8. Suresh Raina

Did Not Play Under 19 World Cup for India:

  1. M.S.Dhoni
  2. Bhuvaneshwar Kumar
  3. Hardik Pandya
  4. Axar Patel
  5. Sharadul Thakur
  6. Jasprit Bumrah
  7. Yuzvendra Chahal

As I have been following the Indian U19 cricket team during the cricket world cup, I also noticed the seven players here picked up for IPL teams:

  1. Prithvi Shaw
  2. Kamalesh Nagakoti
  3. Shivam Mavi
  4. Shubman Gill
  5. Abhishek Sharma
  6. Manjot Kalra
  7. Ankul Roy

Here is my guess on the players from this India U19 team, not listed above, who will make it to the India Senior team within the next ten years:

  1. Ishan Porel
  2. Shiva Singh

 

Alexa is Amazing

January 31st, 2018

I got my Alexa device as soon as they made it available in India. I played around with it as a user initially, but soon the technology kid in me took over and started developing skills.

A few things I learnt, which I did not know before about Alexa are:

  1. There is a history of all the commands we give Alexa. Wait, this is not the usual history with text, it also stores the exact audio recording of the voice command given to Alexa. This is scary – when you realise that they have proof of every interaction you ever had with Alexa 🙂
  2. I can now listen to my books on Kindle using Alexa. Earlier I used to buy books on Audible for more than 15USD. Now, it is less than 5USD, delivered to my phone, plus read to me by Alexa 😉
  3. There is a whole new world of Visual User Interface / Visual User Experience (VUI/VUX) which has to mature as it has been least explored so far.
  4. They have separated the skills by region. This means, when I build a skill for India, it will not be available for consumption in US or Europe. I am not sure if this is a good move, but it is an interesting move. I guess it will keep content geography centric and provider more accurate results.

A few topics where I am still pondering over the long term business strategy are:

  1. Without the ability to have the same Alexa voice skills in my phone, I am limited to using Alexa in the house (may be, like some of my friends, I should also get a Alexa Dot for every room.)
  2. Without the ability to communicate using a picture or a video, I am limited to voice based interactions only. May be the future versions of Alexa will come with a camera (or better if Alexa phone is launched!!)

I am comparing Alexa with Hey Siri and OK Google (and to certain extent Watson too) to see how they will compete in the long run.

Will publish some skills on Alexa, that I hope will be useful for everyone.

Meanwhile, I am still thinking of making life easy for any one to extend their existing conventional services (such as websites) to be extended to work with these voice enabled systems.

Due to this level of fascination I have with these products, hence the title – Alexa is amazing – because it simply is.

Computer Science Graduate Course – Recommended Curriculum for 2018

January 26th, 2018

During my professional career in India in the past five years, I have spent numerous hours looking for the ideal, well-rounded candidate with a Computer Science background, knowing very well that expecting perfection is meaningless and close to perfection is good enough. As this led to numerous hours of disappointment, I tried going to the root cause of the issue. We were looking for candidates coming out of colleges to be industry ready.

With over 90% of the candidates failing to meet even the basic requirements, I started wondering if we can help the educational institutions with details on what is expected by the industry from the students when they graduate. This blog post is a result of that effort.

If I was approached to define the course curriculum for a Computer Science graduate, here are about a dozen courses that I would recommend during the two year period. We have to keep in mind that in each of the courses, the part with examples (such as Watson, Siri, AWS etc) is bound to change within six months to a year due to the rapid advancements in technology, but the core fundamental concepts remain valid.

Will be happy to know about your views on this.

Business Fundamentals:

  • Why: Why You Exist? (Before explaining what or how)
  • What: What Business Problem Are You Trying To Solve?
  • How: How Do You Intend Solving It?
  • Soft Skills (Communication, Commitment, Delivery, GetItDone)
  • Platform Business (Netflix / Amazon / Apple / Facebook / Google)
  • Connection Economy
  • Accounting (CashFlow, P&L, Balance Sheet, ARR)

Programming Fundamentals:

  • Principles of Programming Languages
  • SDLC
  • Source Code Repository
  • Automated Deployment Process (Docker, Jenkins)

Read the rest of this entry »

Rajinikanth Keynote Address – Important Points

January 2nd, 2018

I am a big fan of Rajinikanth and hence have compiled the important points from his keynote address while announcing his political entry.

  1. Discipline and control are the key to win anything
  2. Focus on your efforts – do your duty – results will happen
  3. Time has come for change to happen – we have to change the system
  4. Time has come for Truthful, transparent, honest, caste-free, religion free politics (Spiritual Politics)
  5. God’s blessings along with people’s belief, love, respect and support – key to success
  6. Need soldiers who will make sure the benefits of the people reach them every time on time.
  7. Need soldiers who will not go and stand in front of MPs, MLAs, ministers for personal benefits
  8. Such soldiers should be available in every street in every village in every corner
  9. Do not talk politics, do not scold politicians, do not protest, do not make announcements – there are enough people to do that
  10. Think good, talk good, do good, good will happen.

I believe in the thought process and feel it will work – irrespective of who follows it.

The message is what matters – not who says it.

Masters of Scale – Podcasts by Reid Hoffman

December 1st, 2017

Got a chance to hear a podcast called Masters of Scale by Reid Hoffman, who was one of the founders of LinkedIn.

Reid interviews founders who have managed to scale their business in an amazing way. 

I heard a few of the podcasts and am quite impressed with the wealth of information that these founders provide based on their experience during their journey.

I would highly recommend this podcast to any one who is working hard to make a difference in this world and would like to learn the art of scaling up from leaders like Mark Zuckerberg (FB), Brian Chesky (AirBnB), Reid Hastings (Netflix) etc.

My personal favourite so far is the one with Brian Chesky from AirBnB where he explains the 11 star experience that he suggests handcrafting with the users. I also like the way Brian switches between focusing on one consumer and scaling it up in a large manner – and then again switching back and forth between the two based on the need of the hour.

I intend to write a separate blog post about each episode. Hope it is useful to budding entrepreneurs.

Technology Firms Disrupting Their Models?

November 16th, 2017

In the past I used to always compare the business model used by the technology companies of yesteryears ie. before 1990 (IBM, HP, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle etc) with those of the new entrants ie. after 1990 (Google, Amazon, Apple, Ebay, Yahoo etc) and notice these key differences:

  • Asset lite: The investments made were purely in technology
  • Ad lite: Very rarely we used to see sales people from these organisations advertising their products

Now I am beginning to compare these firms with the big ones that have emerged after 2000 (Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Uber etc)

The following incidents are very interesting to note:

  • Amazon bought the Whole Foods chain in the US. This concept of buying brick and mortar businesses to compliment the online business is a big deviation from their past strategy (though they have tried opening a few bookstores in the past.)
  • Uber has placed an order for 24,000 driverless cars from Volvo. This deviates from their previous statements that Uber does not own any car but just the technology behind the platform.

This makes me ponder about why the technology companies are disrupting themselves.

Amazon might have to do this – as now they are competing directly with Walmart. Walmart is on an acquisition spree (they bought jet.com) and have one more chance to conquer the ecommerce space. Meanwhile, another side benefit for Amazon could be the Amazon Locker. Each outlet of Whole Foods will now become home to Amazon Locker.

Shashi Tharoor @ Gartner Symposium in Goa

November 15th, 2017

I got a chance to watch Dr.Shashi Tharoor speak for the first time at the Gartner IT Expo in Goa today. Was mesmerised by the speech.

While I have heard a lot about his oratorical skills, experiencing it first hand was amazing.

The topic of his speech was ‘Pursuing a Culture of Innovation and Quality’. Shashi Tharoor used simple examples to show how India has its own style of innovation, which like in any other scenario is driven out of a necessity, but the simplicity with which it is done is remarkable. One example he brought out was the missed call concept, which is a feature available in the telecom world, but was never intended to be used the way Indians had started using it (one ring to call back, two rings for urgent etc 🙂 ).

He also mentioned about the fact that innovations are happening all over the world, but reiterated the fact that innovations from India are not always the ‘Jugaad’ style but are also world class. The Mars Orbiter launch done successfully in the first attempt at 1/10th the cost of the same done by the US was another example that he brought out.

Shashi Tharoor ended his speech with words of encouragement to the leaders in IT industry in India to continue focusing on the path of innovation and excellence with continued focus on quality.

A few things that are remarkable in his speech are:

  1. Clean: While Shashi Tharoor is a politician and belongs to a certain party, he did not bring up the topic at any point in time during the speech. Similarly, while he was also signing his new book during the symposium, throughout his speech he stuck to the topic of the culture and innovation in India.
  2. Depth of knowledge: He had done his home work on the topic and spoke with clarity and depth on the topic
  3. Organised method of delivery: He had a bulleted list of points he wanted to address in the order of sequence and the meticulous planning behind it was obvious in the style and ease of delivery.

Overall, it was a remarkable speech and hence I made it a point to search for his famous Oxford speech and watched it for the first time – it is in line with the style of delivery I found during the session at the symposium.

Also got a chance to get his latest book which is now in my reading list. Will write about my views on it very soon.

If you get an opportunity to watch him speak, I highly recommend you do not miss it. It is worth every minute of it.

 

What is a computer? Latest iPad Pro Ad

November 13th, 2017

Apple has now come up with a new approach to push iPad as the standard technology device that replaces the computer.

By doing so, they are directly competing with the mobile devices who have been pitted to replace computers for a long time. There have been many reasons used against the mobile devices such as:

  • The size is so small that we cannot do real designs using a mobile phone
  • Real multi tasking is not possible

Apple has capitalised on these and started projecting iPad Pro as the ideal device to replace the computer.

It is a classic positioning and if they have called the shots right, they will kill the computer market, but at the same time giving a big boost to other competitors like Microsoft Surface etc.

For those who are interested in knowing more about the product specifications etc, the video below should be quite useful.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_pMx7IjYKE

 

Tamil Nadu Weatherman – Remarkable Pradeep John

November 12th, 2017

Pradeep John is a weather blogger, who has become quite popular in the past two to three years.

Pradeep was always fascinated by weather and has been predicting weather by tracking facts and data that is publicly available.

Time and again, I have seen BBC and others predicts one way and Pradeep predict the other way – at the end the rain gods favouring Pradeep’s predictions.

While weather prediction is his passion, he holds an MBA degree, after completing his Bachelors in Engineering and is employed at Tamil Nadu Urban Infrastructure Financial Services Limited as a Deputy Manager.

Pradeep writes actively on his facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/tamilnaduweatherman/) . People who know about his writing have started going only to his page to know about the weather anytime.

I got a chance to talk to him during the 2015 Chennai floods and it was during that time that I came to know about how humble and simple he was.

If you read Pradeep John’s facebook posts, you will realize that not only does he explain the current weather conditions, but he also helps to guide the readers on how to analyse and identify the patterns using the data themselves.

I have always wondered why Pradeep should not give up his day job and pick up weather related activities as his full time work 🙂

In fact, I have learnt a lot about tracking the weather by following some of his useful tips. Some of them are:

The video above is another link picked up from his facebook page. This video explains how to interpret the doppler radar readings to understand the data given on the Indian Government weather website.

Pradeep’s blogging style matches the key elements I always recommend to any blogger:

  • Focus: He focuses on the topic of weather predictions based on facts.
  • Consistency: His style is consistent – he explains using simple words to help people understand weather.
  • Frequency: He writes often based on the need. During monsoons, two or three times (or even more) in a day and during other times once or twice a week.

As you can see, I have become a big fan of Pradeep John, the Tamilnadu Weatherman. Pradeep’s story is remarkable because what he does as a passion actually is a service to mankind and a boon to millions of people. Rare to find such noble souls in this world and hence hats off to Pradeep for his service.