Sep 8, 2015

Beautiful Years - For your elderly parents

Ageing is such a natural process and it presents unique challenges to all sections of our society. Be it children that have ageing parents who have huge responsibility to ensure that parents do not feel insecure and helpless or be the ageing parents who don’t think they are a burden on their children. Parents take care of children and the role reverses when children become adults and parents become senior citizens. There is a lot of emotional ordeal that goes in on both sides. These emotions have to be channelized in a way that the elders feel taken care of. In addition to lots of love received from their children, they also need health care.  

When you think of health care, how about having receiving services on click of a button or a phone call? Do you know when in need which is the best hospital or clinic for your particular type of ailment? Do you read reviews before choosing your health care provider?  The best place to look for answers for all these questions is from Beautiful Years. Here they link you with the best possible health care service providers based on your area, customer feedback, facilities of the hospital or clinic and what not. So what are you waiting for? Visit Beautiful Years now for more information.

Jan 5, 2015

LATEST Dec end 2014 - How to apply for NOC for your two wheeler and four wheeler without agents or bribes?

Dear Readers,

Here is the way to get NoC for your bike or two wheeler at the cost of Rs.70/- in all.

The first step to getting NoC is the police clearance certificate (Crime Bureau Clearance) from the Asst. Commissioner office which is located in Chennai Traffic Police headquarters, Atkinson Road, Periyamedu, Chennai near Egmore station.

On Dec 24th 2014, I went to the above location with the following documents for my TN registered Car which I am driving in Bangalore by paying road tax but without NoC.

1. RC Book Original and 1 photo copy
2. Insurance Certificate Original and 1 photo copy
3. ID Proof (Driving License) original and 1 photo copy
4. Local Address Proof which can be any govt issued document like voter id, pan card, et al. RC book address and this address proof need not be the same. 1 photo copy of the address proof

Take all these documents and reach the venue as early as 9:30 am. In the entrance to the right side there is reception. Enter your details in the registry and they will give you a visitor id card. Wear that and go to the first floor of the next building. There are indications and arrows to guide you there. 

Once you reach the first floor, you will see a person in a counter. Submit all the above documents to him. He will help you fill the application form with details like engine number, chasis number, etc. Pay Rs.20/- at the counter and he will give you the acknowledgement. This person will let you know when to collect the police clearance certificate. For me he told to come the next day at 2pm to collect and it was ready when I went there.

I also applied for police clearance for my husband's bike. Since husband could not make it in person, I submitted same documents listed above for the bike and my marriage certificate photo copy as a proof that I am his wife. So I could get it done seamlessly for the bike too.

These people are very considerate and nice. 

Note: You need not take your vehicle for which you are getting the NoC. They will not see your vehicle.

How to get NoC for your car?

On Dec 26th 2014, I go to the RTO where my car got first registered. The below documents are needed to get the NoC.

1. 4 copies of Form 28 (download from any RTO website and fill it. Take the Chasis number 3D imprint on the anywhere on the first page of Form 28) 
2. Original RC Book, Insurance Certificate, Police Clearance Certificate, Pollution Control Certificate
3. Two court fee stamps of Rs. 5/-. You need to stick this on the first page of one of the Form 28 sheets.
4. Glue, Yellow folder sheet (shops next to RTOs sell this for Rs.5)  
I was asked to meet the RTO who will verify your papers and sign and seal. After this, he will ask you to meet the PA to RTO. Once the PA also signs the sheet, they will ask you to get no objection report from a Grade 2 officer. Grade 2 officer will inspect your vehicle and then provide you the report. Once you get that, you will be asked to pay Rs.50/- at the fee counter who will give you acknowledgement for the paid fee. All these documents will need to be enclosed in the yellow folder sheet that you got and submitted in the postal section. Who will verify and provide a seal in the fee receipt. They will ask you to come after a week to collect the NoC.

How Grade 2 officer inspects?

I had to take my car to the place where FC happens. I waited for 2 hours and generally grade 2 officer comes post lunch or during lunch time which is after 12 noon. Since I did not go through any agent, I was given first preference for inspecting my vehicle. He will look for engine and chasis number and then give a no objection report and that the details are accurate.

If not for the waiting for Grade 2 officer's inspection, all other formalities completed within 20 minutes.

I am getting my NoC tomorrow, 6th Jan 2015 :) I will keep you posted on the validity of the NoC and other formalities of re-registering the vehicle as soon as I complete them.

Dec 18, 2014

My DevOps Journey and Experimentation

Hello reader,
I hope my post helps you by few pennies :)

I am aspiring to deploy DevOps/Continuous Delivery in my entire Organization. Yes but are we there yet? Well, I know our destination but I want us to enjoy the journey which is filled with fun, learning and contentment. DevOps is a mindset and culture change to begin with and then comes the methodologies, tools and framework. I believe a bit on the opposite. Without a proven working model it is not going to be a trivial task to change the mindset of people in any Organization. The reason is that they see to believe it!

Nearly a year and half ago when many of our development and test teams in my organization were in jeopardy as the test automation was not up to the mark. With so many defects reported, regressions kept on multiplying like piglets. Since we could not directly use any open source test framework due to the complex embedded domain we are in and those tools if had to be used needed a whole lot of mocks and then we went round and round with severe loss of time and very few tests running. 

When frustration was at its all-time high and our motivation was at all-time low, I decided to pick a cup of coffee and started chatting with few of my team members in our team work area. In India we have a chain of coffee outlets called CafĂ© coffee day that has a tagline “A lot can happen over coffee”. Let me disagree and say “A hell a lot more can happen over coffee with the team”.  

That’s when we to write a functional test automation framework on our own that befit our embedded requirements. We started with a small PoC and took it to our technical mentor. He was honest enough to say nice things about our framework but brutal enough to pin point the short comings. Our framework went through an overhaul and few plastic surgeries and there you go, we branded it as Genie, a functional test automation suite. It is now open enough that it has a DSL that can be extended to test any product so that others benefit too.
I always consider that quick turnaround of builds and reduced cycle times to execute tests are the cornerstone for DevOps/Continuous Delivery. While I believe that one major hurdle of test automation has been crossed decently well, the challenge now am facing is to ensure all teams understand the importance of this and embrace test automation in their respective projects. So we formed a test automation guild and I organized in a way that we meet up weekly and share best practices, share APIs that can help across teams just to prevent reinventing the wheel. Of course, who wants to change? I went through similar hassles of poor attendance in the guild and I was not really sure if am able to reach the last developer. Then a senior helped conduct technical debt reduction day in which we stressed the importance of test automation and encouraged people to do only test automation that day and slowly we gathered momentum. Now, I can confidently say that all of them have understood how important test automation is. Teams are trying to have a user story to reduce technical debt in every sprint.

The next big challenge was build time reduction. Each clean/full build takes about 50 minutes during peak development hours and about 35 minutes during other times. Every developer is making so many builds a day in our Continuous Integration system and it is imperative to reduce the build time so that the overall productivity of every developer consequently the organization goes up considerably. By this time my Organization gave me the responsibility to implement DevOps across the board. With more vigour we started solving the build time issues. We wanted to ensure that after the first time always incremental build happens. We worked towards this goal and now the build time has considerably reduced to approximately 9 minutes in the same environment.  Needless to say that there were many challenges including the clock skew issue that was not guaranteeing the correctness of the build and the linux servers were hosted and owned by some other team and it was indeed a task to ensure that the servers came in synch with NTP (Network Time Protocol). And then I started asking teams across the board to adopt these incremental build changes so that everyone benefits. As I write this abstract, many teams have tried and found it working and currently they are in the process of configuring these changes in their CI environment. The simple math of productivity improvement is as below:
Build time reduction in CI (triggered by CI) - ROI
  • Total number of builds per day (worst case) = 2250 builds (Actual data took as a sample)
  • How long one full build takes (avg) = 30 min
  • How long one Incremental build takes (avg) = 10 mins
  • Time saved per build = 20 mins
  • Time saved for 2250 builds = 750 hours every day
*Statistics may vary depending on the no. of builds that happen everyday

Build time reduction in BUILD Server by developers – ROI
  • Total number of builds per day (worst case) = 800 builds (Actual data took as a sample)
  • How long one full build takes (avg) = 30 min
  • How long one Incremental build takes (avg) = 10 mins
  • Time saved per build = 20 mins
  • Time saved for 800 builds = 266 hours every day i.e., 33 man days every day
*Statistics may vary depending on the no. of builds that happen everyday
Total time saved = 750 (CI) + 266 (Dev) = 1016 hrs a day
We also realized that we can get away with building on the servers (due to its load it does slow down) and use one’s own desktop machine as their own exclusive build server. In order to realize this idea what we are doing is have developers install a linux VM on their windows machines and do the builds on that. Any 8GB RAM PC should be enough to get this idea through where in 4GB for VM would be great. This way the build dependency on one supreme build server is avoided and the hardware capabilities of the developer’s machine are used to the full extent possible. 

We are also evaluating the usage of emulators to run the automated test suite to solve insufficient hardware problems. One of the counterpart teams in the other region developed an emulator for their platform by using PC virtualization customized on top of specific device drivers. Instead of reinventing the wheel, what we did was to take their emulator and planning to make it work for us for our platform. 

Another tangent to this problem is that we are trying to use the developer’s hardware to be submitted to the continuous integration system such that during night times the automated test suite can be run using the developer’s hardware. This way we are looking at a global optimum wherein many more test suites can be executed in parallel.

That is the power of looking at the big picture – DevOps/Continuous Delivery. So, as of now we are in the process of crossing the two big hurdles which are test automation and build time reduction. 

What is the next one that we are attacking as part of DevOps? For that let me first explain the DevOps pipeline that I came out with for my Organization. 
May sound like basics but trust me it’s a mammoth task to get these things going especially across the organization. We have a lot of legacy that we are carrying forward when the whole world is going open source. It is time to dust it all up and move ahead. So, as part of that my team is working towards migrating to Jenkins, an open source CI server.  What we have currently is an in-built proprietary system and it comes with its own overheads including poor documentation and people dependency.
Hence the work on Jenkins migrated started few months ago and we try and reuse all those available plugins and at the same time write our own custom plugins to fit some of our specific needs. One of my counter parts is also working towards migrating to GIT from ClearCase. While GIT migration came as an Organization mandate it also helps us as GIT and Jenkins works in tandem with each other quite well.

Whenever a build fails, Jenkins shall trigger an email and text messaging notification to the culprit’s mailbox and mobile phone respectively.

On the ops part, currently part of the staging part has been tried where is the application is digitally signed and pushed over the air (OTA).  Our focus has been on the dev side of the DevOps to ensure that we get our basics strong and right.

Sep 19, 2013

Passport walk-in for kids in Sai Arcade, Bangalore

Hi all,
Yesterday, Sep 18th I had walked-in for passports for my two children one aged 6 yrs and the other one aged 2.8 yrs. I got the passport without any prior appointment and hassle. Here is what I did.
1. Fill the online forms in and then submit the application form of your kid. This will generate the ARN number and proceed towards printing the receipt
2. Children under 4 years, the parents need to bring the passport size photos. Only above 4yrs they will get the photo clicked at the passport office.
3. If you have applied for any name change of your kid (I did for my elder one - change in the last name), just follow the document advisor link in the website and get them ready like Annexure H, Affidavit from notary for the name change, etc. For name change, please note that you MUST have the newspaper publication one in English and another one in Local paper. The entire news paper page is needed to be taken as part of your documentation. Do not just cut the ad alone.
4. You walk in at 8:45 am the next morning with the above details and you will go to a counter where they will check if you have all the documents. After that they will give you all your documents in a brown cover along with a token number and you will be asked to go inside. There are three counters A, B and C.
Counter A will ensure all your kids' details are uploaded to the system and you pay the passport fee here. They will file all your artifacts and then it will go to counter B and here is where the do the paper verification - like address, signature verification, etc. Once this is through the C counter is where you will be granted the passport.
Since it is all token based system, it is very straight forward. DO NOT GO THROUGH ANY AGENT. You will save lot of money and this entire process is very seamless. After counter C, you will be asked to move to the exit gate where they will have you fill a feedback form and provide you with acknowledgment.
 Two important things to note
 1. Effective Sep 20th 2013, kids below 3 years of age and Sr. citizens above 60 years of age can avail a passport without appointment
2. Only Tatkal can be applied
 For normal ones, just apply online for an appointment and ensure proper documents are ready and you will be through.
Good luck!

Nov 23, 2012

Laya Designs

Dear all,

Launched Laya Designs during Diwali 2012. These are my own creations. Hand made ethnic yet contemporary looking Terracotta Jewellery. They are available for sale!
Laya Designs is all about giving you great pieces of Terracottal Jewelry that is made of clay. We want to GO GREEN definitely through this way as well.
If you like my designs do LIKE my page and Subscribe. Thanks & Cheers!

May 3, 2012

Strategy, Context, and the Decline of Sony

I got the below article forwarded to me.... worth the read

HBR Blog Network

Strategy, Context, and the Decline of Sony

Sometimes it's useful to be reminded that a great strategy is only great in context. From the early 1980s and into the 90s, Sony's was great. The unrivaled master of the consumer electronics world, its name was synonymous with cutting-edge technology, sophistication, and desirability. People had a collective vision back then of a thrilling yet humane future, and Sony's hyper-capable, slightly fussy gadgets were its clearest expression. It was much more than just the Walkman and the Trinitron—everything the company made was of impeccable quality, satisfying to hold and intricately detailed in its functionality. That last statement is still true today, but everything else has changed. Sony still makes exquisite products, but fewer and fewer people get excited about them.

The strategy address recently delivered by the corporation's new CEO, Kazuo Hirai, earned press coverage that verged on mocking, with The Wall Street Journal notingthat the brand's "once-sterling cachet has deteriorated," and The New York Timesgoing further, placing Sony in "a fight for its life," and accusing it of "an astonishing lack of ideas." Both observations are correct, but they only hint at the underlying question: why is the strategy that once served Sony so well now failing so badly? It's not as if its cameras now take fuzzy pictures or its boom boxes fall apart after three months. And the market for consumer electronics is larger than it's ever been. The Timesarticle rightly observes that Sony's current product line is crowded and confusing, but offering customers a wide array of choices was fundamental to Sony's success in the past. What changed?

Part of the shift is technological. Apple's iPhone—the product often described as getting everything right that Sony got wrong—only comes in one current model and two colors, yet it's tremendously customizable. With so much of the experience coming from the software, not the hardware, consumers aren't using a product designed for them; it was designed by them. This is an especially powerful offering because it replaces the single moment of instant gratification—buying the perfect camera, TV, or phone—with dozens of such moments. Every time they install an app or download a song, users are getting a customized experience with an emotional impact on par with the one-time purchase of a product. This suggests a more fundamental explanation: consumers today care more about the experience, but Sony is still focused on the product. It's gotten trapped by its own past success. In the early 80s, simply delivering technology in a usable form was still the biggest challenge, and Sony got it right before anyone else. It had an astonishing ability to find the next technical hurdle—a brighter TV, a smaller tape player, an integrated camcorder—and leap over it with grace, before its competitors even thought to try. In an industrial, product-oriented economy, this was enough.

Every year saw new products with unprecedented capabilities. As long as it could do something new, we didn't seem to care what kind of experience we had using it. Plowing through 70-page manuals and fussing with Dolby II and Metal/Non-Metal switches was just part of the deal. In the experience economy, these expectations are reversed. Technology is a given, and the question of "what are the specs?" has been replaced by "what is it like to use?" Sony's expertise at making the next great thing has been matched by companies like Samsung and LG, and soon enough, they'll all be caught by increasingly sophisticated Chinese manufacturers. Without modifying its business model, Sony has been left behind by a world that's changed its relationship with technology. What's tragic is that Sony still has all the resources to execute well on a new strategy. Its engineering capabilities are impeccable, its R&D resources are highly developed, and it has massive amounts of high-quality media.

The success of thePlaystation shows its ability to deliver a good experience through an integrated ecosystem of products and content. But the Playstation is now just another platform struggling to keep up with innovative alternatives like the Wii, Xbox, and Kinect, and it's been years since Sony's other divisions unveiled a real game changer. What's missing is the strategic vision to emphasize the delivery of powerful and resonant user experiences. Mr. Hirai acknowledged several times the need for the company to change, but the goals he stated were still hardware focused: sell this many smartphones, that many camcorders. The user is still missing in this equation, as is a sense of what Sony stands for, and what its vision is for an integrated experience. For Sony, it may be too late. For other brands, there may still be room for change. Every industry has its Sony, still trying to get ahead by solving a problem that's already been solved. But every industry also has its Virgin Atlantic, its IKEA, or its Procter & Gamble: the major player that continues to innovate. Even Microsoft has shown signs of sensitivity to user experience in its latest mobile operating system. There's nothing magic about innovation, just as there's nothing magic about technology. Both are hard work, but as Sony has shown, all the hard work in the world won't matter if you're working toward a strategy that was framed for an another era.

Apr 2, 2012

Massage rollers

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