Monday, July 30, 2007

Moments from Bar Camp Bangalore 4 (BCB4)...

I missed Day 1 of the BarCamp Bangalore 4 (BCB4) for some reasons those were beyond my control but then was there for the entire Day 2 events. BCB4, which was held in the sylvan atmosphere of IIM Bangalore, did live up to the ethos of the unconference meet. This was not a large corporate conference where discussions are held in an organized manner inside rooms but everything footraces on an informal interactive note.
The camp offered something or the other for all the participants: tech geeks, social entrepreneurs, journalists, photographers, bloggers, startup champions, bicycle riders, etc and the events were conducted in classrooms, lawns, corridors and even a discussion over a cup of coffee. BarCamp's framework is to allow people to share and learn in an open environment.
The event commenced with a short briefing on the day’s schedule and this event was held at the main Auditorium.
The special feature of this BarCamp was the formation of collectives to cater to the varied interests and tastes of the participants.
There were sessions on tools used for pod casting, tricks and techniques to protect one’s photographs on one's blogs. These topics had run-of-the-mill material and so were the presentations.
(Swaminathan’s talk on tools used for pod casting.)
The discussion was turning too monotonous and to give the crowd a gingery thrill, there was an informative session on Mobile Blogging by Arun, who works for Satyam Computers. He is one of the organizers of the BCB4.
(Arun with his talk on mobile blogging and inputs for Corporate Blogging)
This was followed by a session on Corporate Blogging and the way this medium is catching up in India by our very own Desicritics editor, Kishore. Perceptions winged from how marketers are looking at blogs as a mighty social media to how corporate blogging activity takes diverse tones: internal (where they are used as a sharing tool among) and external (as a medium to interact with customers and indirectly help in business).
I stepped out to see a team of people seated under the shade of a tree and their discussions centered around outsourcing in India, e-governance, the benign and the blunder side of globalization on the common man, etc.
By this time, the buzz of excitement shifted to the corridor where sessions for the startup enthusiasts were organized. There was a talk on a health care product, the startup team had come all the way from Chennai to deliver the talk. I was looking for some big bang stream of ideas but there was again the regular gyan delivered though garnished to cover areas of customer centricity, company profiling, people and cash flow.
The next talk was by Hari, an aspiring social entrepreneur who shared his idea of a Web NGO. Though his words did vocalize a great idea, of beading society, entrepreneurship and technology to deliver the basic health care facilities to those in the bottom of the pyramid but somehow it lacked the airwave of conviction.
(Hari delivering his talk.)
It was time for lunch by now and food was pretty good, simple desi food. All the participants relished the hot pooris, gobi manchurian, mixed veg curry, fried rice, normal rice, sambar, papad, salad, gulab jamoon and lots more. It was fun to see few participants from abroad interacting actively with the team members of a collective that delivered lots of sessions on food and eateries in Bangalore.
Then there was a session by a techie who works for a software firm in Bangalore, which I attended when it was half way through. I jumped into this presentation, as the topic was debatable: 'Why is my next start-up not going to be in India?'. The topic was made catchy to stimulate the crowd to come out with their point-blank opinions. The crowd consisting of some eminent persons from academia, few students from IITs and other top engineering schools, and rest others bombarded the presenter with a quiver of questions. The techie had regular answers such as 'How many Ph.d's does India produce in a year ?', the deficiency of attitude and curiosity for research and development in spines of Indian universities, etc. The focal points supporting his premise of not investing in a startup in India are lack of research and development and formation of a competent team. I agree to a fair extent that these problems do exist but in spite of that in the last three or four years there has been surge in the domain of industry related research and development, typically among graduates from the top engineering schools in India. Also, I strongly believe that if a product company visits any of the top engineering schools in India in the first five days of the placement season, there is definitely no dearth of talent. This topic was really an interesting one but because of stringent time schedule, this discussion continued outside the room, in the lawns leaving the stage for Britta.
(The techie in action, sorry I forgot his name.)
Britta, a technical research scholar from Germany, presently in Bangalore gave an interesting talk on a decentralized search engine, Faroo, that implements web search based on Peer-to-Peer technology.
(Thats Britta with her talk on Faroo.)
The next talk by Sean Blagsvedt of creating a jobsite, Babalife for those who cannot read and write English hailing from the lower strata of the society was chic smart. It combines a blog and photo/video sharing and uses it as a social networking to provide employment to driver, cook or a housemaid. Sean is from Oakland but has made Bangalore his home and works with Microsoft Research India team, creating interesting solutions in the mobile space, especially those related to emerging markets. Any blind guess why Sean named his site as Babalife with a lot of emphasis on the word 'Baba' ?
(Sean with his energetic rapid fire presentation.)
There were some shutterbug addicts in the camp and some great moments were captured through the lens. I captured some of the fine moments and Lavanya, a friend of mine gave me company in clicking a few of these.
(Lavanya in per pose as a photographer.)
There were lots of discussions going around in the corridors and live blogging with loads of exuberance. Few even spoke passionately about second life, virtual dates, etc.
Evening had already set in and one could hear the birds’ tweedling in the pristine lawns and amidst the greenery surrounding IIMB campus. My eyeballs were rolling and suddenly it rested on these three creative thinkers reminding me of my college days.
It was time to wind off but as everyone knows Bangalore and music is synonymous, so there was a medley of music and technology. Jayanth made a live demo of how to run a virtual band, and displayed the gathering, his wizardry with the octave notes on his guitar strings.
(Thats Jayanth on guitar.)
The Wi-Fi in the campus had some problems on Day 1 but by Day 2 everything was sorted out and there were lots of people busy with their laptops. The space arrangement and management, furniture, desi lunch, electricity, and other paraphernalias for the unconference were all well arranged. Inspite of limited funding, the arrangements for water, some snacks, BarCamp t-shirts were fair to middling.
There were lot many participants from foreign lands and from India, BarCamp fanciers came from Chennai, Pune, Delhi, Mumbai, Durgapur, etc. As the curtains were put down, it was declared that Bar Camp Bangalore 4 (BCB4) has been the best and the biggest ever Bar Camp in India so far. So till we all meet again at the next event, its Vous Revoir.

Cross posted at Desicritics.

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Neighbours Envy Owner's Pride...

Guess ????

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Road Ahead for Dr. Shilpa Shetty...

Today morning, I flip the newspaper and I see this. What ???? Ms. Shilpa Shetty turns Dr. Shilpa Shetty.

Ok Ok, a little bit of flash back, it was in 1993, I was still in my junior school and those days having a cable connection at home was a privilege. It was during a visit to a friend's house when my friend's mother was out for work that we got the video cassette of the movie 'Baazigar' from a nearby video parlor and saw the movie.

That was the first time, I saw the svelte and lissome Shilpa Shetty. The trademark of her persona apart from her patli kaamar was her giggle. From Seema Chopra, a young college girl in 'Baazigar', who falls for Vicky Malhotra because he is a studious chap and helps her with lots of notes and stuff to a 32-year-old star lionising her entry to a super-achievers list.

Babe, your journey has been stupendous.

The Leeds Metropolitan University was so awe struck by the lady that, it has conferred a doctorate degree on Shilpa Shetty. By doing so, the University says it has
"fulfilled its wish to honor prominent Indian personalities who contributed to India’s emergence as a fast developing cinema-proud nation during its 60th year of freedom struggle".
But this very statement is just a flippant rhetoric. I accept the very fact that Shetty is the youngest among those who have been chosen for the honor, the earlier ones being Amitabh Bachchan, Shabana Azmi and Yash Chopra. But other than that what has been her contribution to Indian cinema. She is like any other star with a career spanning just 14 or 15 years with a string of flops and few doing good at box-office.

Any person can make this out, her latest road to fame is none other than winning a TV show in UK that was marred by some racial controversy. I also appreciate the way the lady handled the scenario and the media then, but to accolade that candid handling of the event with coveted academic honor has left me a little bemused.

There are many people from India and from around the globe who have been or are feted with honorary academic degrees but these people hold that stature, that aureole and put in simple words are deserving candidates. The last President of India, Abdul Kalam, the poster boy of Indian software industry, Narayan Murthy to name a few have truckloads of credentials to merit such honorary awards. Also just a couple of months back, the man who introduced the internet age for the common man and made Windows, the window to the new world, Bill Gates was rewarded a degree by his alma-mater, Harvard Univ, 30 years after he left its portals. So if someone goes on to compare these towering personalities with Shilpa Shetty, its just like comparing apples and eggs.

Everyone knows that Bollywood as a film industry is twice the size of Hollywood and has a global following of millions, with a successful production being watched by anything up to 3.2 billion people worldwide. So its plain and simple business to romance with this goose laying golden eggs.
Councillor Mark Harris, leader of Leeds City Council, said: "This is fantastic news for Leeds and for the whole region.
"The IIFA awards are a huge international event which attracts Bollywood stars who have more fans than many major Hollywood actors.
"Winning the right to stage the IIFA awards is a major coup and will showcase our beautiful region to a whole new audience of film producers, fans and international media.
"Leeds is proud to be part of this high-profile event and we will be extending a warm Yorkshire welcome to everyone who attends."
Or is it just another supplement to the 'India Now' spectacle that London Mayor Ken Livingstone has launched with so much fanfare. Well whatever may be the case, the best beneficiary is the heroine of the plot, Shilpa Shetty, sorry sorry Dr. Shilpa Shetty. When she was questioned how she plans to take the relationship with the University, she honestly said, "It’s going to be a life-long relationship. I have tried my best to do my best. At the moment I am basking in the glory".

Now, what is that 'best to do my best' is a little blurry and groggy to me. Is it films shot only in Britain, or is it no films, supporting some social international group, and the list continues...Let me wait and see maybe the best is yet to come.

Till then I agree with you, Shilpa Shetty, that kitaben and books are not the only road to an academic honour, tu sahi bole re....

kitaben bahut si padhi hongi tumne
magar koi chehra bhi tumne padha hai
padha hai meri jaan nazar se padha hai
bata mere chehre pe kya kya likha hai

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Food For Thought..

"The shortest distance between two points is under construction."
- Noelie Altito

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[had taken this pic in a workshop and crafts center]

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Bangalore Bloggers Meet...

21st July was gloomy day with no sunshine but the Bangalore Bloggers Meet did the rest adding the missing gleam. The event was held at Brew HaHa, a cafe in Koramangala that combines great food with the fun of gaming. The café and the environ was the perfect setting for the event to kick start and it did live up to its punch line, 'We take your fun seriously!'

For those of you who are not aware, Brew HaHa is a startup venture by Mansur Nazimuddin (IIM A 2006) and Sreeram Vaidyanathan (IIM A 2005). I was reading the Business World magazine and there is an interesting article related to this café by Rashmi Bansal.
The Bangalore Bloggers Meet was the precursor to the main event, Barcamp Bangalore 4 that is coming this weekend. Initially there was a bit of chaos, as there were around 40+ junta, each beaded to the other mostly through blogs or e-zines and this was their first one-on-one personal interaction. To smoothen the process, Sanjukta floated the idea of the usual self-introduction like the one in any classroom or any corporate training.

The ebullience in the air was palpable and as the introduction round progressed, a whole new world of ideas, personalities, views, etc came to light. I am jotting a few of those, that I was able to register in this tiny memory of mine.
Sukumar goes on to justify, its not sexy, susi but suksy, that's his blog and how he entered into this world of blogging. Then there was Prashanth, who has an entire blog dedicated to Mungaru Male, the Kannada movie which is one of the biggest hits in South Indian cinema with box office earnings crossing Rs 40 Crores at the end of 6 months after it's release. Do a Google on the word 'Mungaru Male' and it is Prasanth’s site that tops the list.

[Britta in pic]There were two German ladies in the group and they were really excited to be part of this Bangalore Bloggers community. One of the two was Britta who is presently in India for few months as a part of Student’s Exchange program. She is exploring and learning about India when it is on the cusp of development and change. For those who follow World Economics, Germany is by far Europe's biggest economy now whizzing after years of idling. So there’s lot to learn here too, Britta, I am going to disturb you with lots of questions that I have. Ooops, I forgot to mention, Britta has attended a few BarCamps in Europe and she is looking forward to the Indian version of it. Then there was Maike, a journalist from Germany who writes for a German site ( under the name 'missindia'. Check her posts here.

This entire event was also running live on the Internet, with some great work from AJ. Since the place was Wi-fied, there were a couple of laptops with the owners keying in the important points and making live posts on the web. A representative from Deccan Herald daily, Ranjeetha, also covered this event.

Then on line was the Mumbaiya, who has given his heart to Bengaluru, Himanshu Sheth. This fellow has an arousing relationship with blogs. He is an avid blogger and entrepreneur and has dabbled with podcasts. But leaving aside all these, the most important facet of all these is that, Himanshu met his fiancé and wife who is a school teacher through blogs. That's awesome, so now all matrimonial sites watch out, another domain where the blogs can spread its tentacles.

By this time, some people could feel the incoming stream of garbled, fuzzy impulses after browsing through the menu list. Suddenly orders start for Mocha Frappes, Cappuccinos, Brownie-sludge Frappe, Masala Tea, Hot Strong Coffee, Croissants, Samosas, etc and the order-taking boy is left hapless. Once the beverages and food were served, the junta was back on track.

Neha, then introduced how she scuba dived into blogging. Her interesting story is an apposite of the popular Hindi maxim 'Eent Ga Jabbab Pathar Se'. Sometime back this person was deluged with blog links from her friends and this very act, prompted her to start her own blog. Yes, that's a very expeditious and smart move as blogging is no rocket science.
[On pic are 100RB, i.e. Saurabh, Neha and others]

Sridhar Rao, gave some gyan on blogging but I guess he is keeping all his energy saved for the great finale at IIMB. Harinath Pudipeddi, an aspiring Social Entrepreneur who shared his idea of a Web NGO, which seemed to be quite invoking. Harinath, who has worked in the HealthCare Services industry for a while feels that the Indian populace lacks the awareness and that's one of the main reasons why the health sector facilities have not percolated deep into rural India. His endeavor is towards creating and spreading this cognizance.

Dhivya, an advertising professional with Ogilvy & Mather was more excited about her copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which she collected from Blossoms, a bookstore in Bangalore. This lady stood in front of the bookstore before the day broke and the smile on her face exhibits her gratification and jubilance being the proud owner of the book.

As the discussion was in full swing a heavy voice suddenly pricked in. It was none other than Sanjay Nambiar, a movie maker. This man has spent many years in Los Angeles and California and has shot movies. Presently he is in India and is scouting for young talent as he is planning to make short movies of 2 to 3 minutes duration. Just to give you a brief of what a short movie is in this di-gi age, I had made a post here. Sanjay is looking for budding writers who can draft a short script, that can be converted into a 2 to 3 minutes movie and shot in a day's time. So anyone interested can contact him.

Lavanya, I saw you there with your Nikon SLR taking pics sitting in one corner amidst beanbags, chairs and designer pillows. Being a shutterbug, my eyeballs somehow rest on someone who seems to be bitten with this virus. Lavanya catch you at IIMB, as there is a session on photography. The junta had made themselves comfortable over mats on the floor and there was lot of stuff strewn here and there.

The audience threw open plethora of insights on myriad topics but by now, Sanjukta (one of the main organizers of the Bangalore Bloggers Meet, a lawyer from Delhi Bar Council) felt that the discussion was entering a different terrain. She wanted to drive the discourse on its current agenda and with a get-up-and-go attitude, she pinpointed on topics for discussion at the BarCamp at IIM-B campus, scheduled for the coming weekend (28th, 29th July). The following are some of the topics.

1. Technical tips for non-technical bloggers
2. What do you Blog about and how to make your blogs more relevant as content is
the driving force in Web 2.0 world?
3. Social responsibility of a blogger
4. Copyrights and Censorship in blogging (one of the participants has volunteered
to contact a Cyber Law Specialist who would deliver a talk on this)
5. IT Laws
6. Mainstream Media versus Blogging (Kishore, an editor from Desicritics is going to moderate this session.)
7. Corporate Blogging and does it really work out in India?

[Kishore in pic]Bangalore is gaining a big picture in the international landscape for varied reasons, be it ITES, research and development, business, education, lifestyle, real estate, aviation, health tourism, etc, etc. Change is tangible but there has never been a forum that encapsulates these alterations and colorations the city is presently witnessing in a professional way, that too by the common man, that's YOU. So this was also the first formal attempt to form a professional community of bloggers in Bangalore who would fill this missing gap. Arun, one of the organizers of the BarCamp has been working relentlessly with IIMB for conducting the Bangalore BarCamp every four months in its campus to commence this movement.

So guys and gals, uncles and aunties, bunty aur bubblies, X and Y’s, friends and pals, brothers and sisters, see you all at Barcamp Bangalore 4

Venue: Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIMB)
Dates: 28th and 29th July’07.

A big thanks to all whom I met in the meet and even if I don't remember the names of all, and missed anyone in this blog, it's just because of my weak memory. All you junta rock, see you soon and a big Hi to all. Now guess who is this.

After the meeting was adjourned, Kishore and I rushed to Gramin for a paaka desi lunch and savored the food. Well that was how the day was and it was a nice simple day.
Keep reading and remain connected.

(I will keep updating this post with whatever latest comes up.)

The event has been covered in Bangalore Mirror, check below. Grab your copy for more info. The tentative schedule for Bangalore Bar Camp4 at IIMB is here. Note that there are lots of interesting events/discussions and open sessions such as Bicycling in Bangalore, Photography, Blogging, e-Governance, Startups, Mobile, Internet, Social Tech, and lots more. Other than these if anyone is interested to start a discussion, s/he is always welcome.

Schedule for both days of BCB4 Barcamp 28th and 29th July




8 AM - 9 AM


Registration Desk

9 AM - 10 AM



10 AM - 1 PM


Alloted Rooms and lawns

1 PM - 3 PM



3 PM - 6 PM


Alloted Rooms and lawns

6 PM - 7 PM

Entertainment/ Closing


7 PM - onwards

Night sessions (code jams, field trips to real bars, etc)

Rooms, real bars

More details are here.

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Rain and Life...

Today late evening I was sitting in my room and there is a window that oversees the world out there. It was one of those dull and gloomy evenings when it suddenly starts to rain cats and dogs and everything is back to normal in one hour's time.
From my room's window, I was able to take this pic.

I then jumped out into the rain, let my ass off, from my cushioned chair and this is what I see. Two people waiting in the rain and requesting every other autowala that passes by but no-one listens to their request.

Again I step just 50 meters, and I come across these two people, their actions fortifying the typical Hindi senti dialogue 'Tu Hi Mera Saacha Yaar' . Isn’t it? Note one important facet, when in rain you find more couples always under the umbrella, this is a common phenomenon. Couples in all permutations and combinations, male-female, female-female, male-male, am I missing some other combination here or is all done :). I just mentioned all that I have seen.

The sharp showers continued for a while and on the road met these two laborers who were returning home in the rain. Human feelings have always been closely tied to the moods and expressions of nature. To some, the rains bring life, to others, they bring the threat of death and to fight for life as the only cover over their heads may crumble in the rain. I felt the same for these laborers. Also vehicular traffic was disrupted at several places owing to flooded streets and low visibility.

And I did this for what you know, for this. Sit in a coffee/tea shop, with a hot coffee/tea and see the life on the move. It's awesome, that's it. The unique silences before great rains give a feeling of excitement, and the non-quantifiable immeasurable peace following them leave a feeling of bliss, satisfaction and contentment, as though a great pent-up pressure had been released. The smells of the damp soils freshens the air. You get what I mean.

Few more posts on moods and daily life as you and me see in rain coming soon with pics shot in rain.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Are these Universal Laws ?

Some ergodic thoughts crossed my mind, most of these encountered in real life in some format or the other. I don't know whether it happens with me only or is it generic across all.

I thought of clubbing few of these.

Variation Law: If you change lines (or traffic lanes), the one you were in will start to move faster than the one you are in now. This is common and has happened to me many a time in traffic.

Law of Mechanical Repair: After your hands become coated with grease, your nose will begin to itch or you are under pressure, demanding an immediate rush to rest room...pee.....

Law of the Telephone: If you dial a wrong number, you never get a busy signal. I feel the credit card service providers and the banks offering loans use this law to the utmost. They call this tele-marketing but it is f***ing frustrating to take those calls.

Law of Coffee: As soon as you sit down to a cup of hot coffee/tea or to engage yourself in some healthy FTP [full time pass], your boss will ask you to do something, which will last until the coffee/tea turns cold or you loose the ebullience that you had earlier.

Law of Logical Argument: Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about. I have heard many interesting anecdotes from friends and others on this topic. Applies to events and incidents in classrooms, work places, meetings, conversation among friends, online forums, etc etc. Abbey usko mast topee pahnaya re

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