Archive for the ‘creative’ Category

Invisible design

January 17, 2013 Leave a comment

Late Steve Jobs once remarked about design,

Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.

A lot of people repeat it, but do they really know what they are talking? Specially in today’s IT corporate filled with phony jargons like “innovtion”, “cutting edge”, “out of the box”, etc. coming specially from the most rigid (always thinking inside the box) guys from the top management.

Well, pet peeves apart.

Coming to the point, why am I writing this post today? Because, its been long since I wrote and I have been meaning to resume blogging lately. And today, when I completed a critical ‘invisible design’ as a part of a mobile app I am developing, I thought its worth sharing.

A part of the app that I am developing involves uploading large files from mobiles. Large files, low upload speed phones#, low bandwidth, spotty data connections on mobiles, failed uploads, restarted uploads, etc. sounds a ring? Well, the straightforward and naive way to do that would have been to ask the user to chose a file and try to upload it. If anything fails, just tell the user and let him take a call or just silently restart (from scratch) the upload when data connection is available. Well, what if it fails again? How many times the user driven or the automatic restart will happen? Will the large file ever get uploaded?

#Most mobile phones, including smartphones usually have low upload speeds as compared to download speeds. Even in most middle end phones with the so called 3G speeds, they only mean high download speeds (HSDPA) and not upload speeds (HSUPA)

If upload does not sound a ring, then think download. What if your torrent downloaders did not offer resuming of a download and only allows restart (from scratch) of the download ? Will your favorite movie ever download if your connection is spotty, or your router SNR is high, or the router had a power cut, etc.? Did you ever observe that ‘ordinary’ (taken for granted) thing? Ask older (1970’s and 80’s) folks from the computers world, they will tell you how dowloaders worked back then.

You can say that is a feature (developers will say architecture) of the torrent software, but I say its design too.

Now think of a solution to that upload from mobile problem, wherein the client (the mobile app) uploads the data in small chunks and both client as well as server (where files are uploaded) are stateful with regards to the amount (chunks) of data uploaded. If the data connection drops somewhere, the client can communicate and negotiate with the server on where to resume the interrupted upload. That saves the trouble of manual or automatic restart, saves resources, time and simply get’s the job done. But do you ever observe such ‘ordinary’ things (which just get the job done), besides the user interface bells and whistles, in apps that you use? I guess not.

No, I am not showcasing any innovation, the concept of chunked upload is very much existent and referred with the same name in the tech industry, ‘chunked uploads’, but its like talked a lot, implemented a little. The point that I am trying to make today is that there is much beyond what you see in an object (specifically app/site) that you use, which makes your life simple. Observe it!!


Hat tip for developers: Empathize, eat your own dog food, sink yourself in your end-users’ shoes and see what they see, feel what they feel, you will understand the deeper meaning of design, specially the invisible one, and you will start making better software (I am hopeful that you are making good software already, you just need to make it better).

P.S.: I am thinking to release the chunked uploads Android app code (Java) and server code (Python/Django) as an open source code on github soon, *if I get enough free time*.


Follow the hunch

November 28, 2009 2 comments
I have learned to kind of follow hunches, even though you can't necessarily 
justify them or know where they are going to go. 
- Evan Williams

Evan Williams the co-founder of Pyra Labs, Blogger, Odeo, Twitter talks about how twitter listens to its users and how he follows hunches.

Its interesting to know that Blogger and Twitter were hunches and that very fact itself reveals how far hunches can go.

An echo’ed note-to-self and an iterated note to others who are interested:
“Follow the hunch but don’t assume where it will go”.

Playing For Change – Songs around the World

August 10, 2009 Leave a comment


Came to know about PlayingForChange foundation a few days back from my friend Ajay .

Since then and I accept this, I have been addicted to the concept, to the cause and to the music.

Playing For Change” is a concept “larger than life”, reaching out with a single message “Peace through music”.

As a true appreciator of a good cause, good music and having a brain highly stimulated by music, I think this is brilliant idea. You will see, hear – artists and music – playing that you never knew existed. But not for a moment will you feel any lack of talent, rather you will be mesmerised by the amazing fusion of music from world over and see the phrase “music knows no boundaries” come true, right in front of your eyes.

I could have illustrated the awesome concept here but I would encourage people who feel interested to visit the site, join the movement and contribute the way you can.

Kudos team PlayingForChange.



What makes a silicon valley?

July 30, 2009 Leave a comment

I have been pondering over the fact that India has a huge talent pool, in terms of number, brainz and quality, to match any country. It does not have the right ecosystem to engage this talent pool within the country, most of them decide to go abroad and sell their talent as service to big companies or start technology companies abroad, not here. They do come to India for getting a cheap but quality work done (building products in development offices in India and maintaining corporate offices abroad).
Hence they do use their talent, but not to create a hub of talent, innovation(real not the marketing gimmick) and intellectual property in India, why?
How can we create a self sustainable ecosystem here in India, so that this huge pool of talent creates value here?

Well, I have my own thoughts and after thoughts on this, which I shall compile and share on this blog some other time.

Today I am sharing a similar perspective (to mine) by Dr. Vinton Cerf,Vice president and chief Internet evangelist, Google.

The following is an excerpt from one of his speeches.

Tony Blair, prime minister UK, came to the silicon valley on invitation from Cisco, in the summer 2007. His ostensible reason for showing up was to try to figure out whether there was any way to re-create a silicon valley in England. He was talking this and about education, etc. Speech finished and the attendees were all silent for a while, then Steve Jobs spoke up – “one thing that we all have experienced is that we all have failed one time or another”.

Now that was an insightful comment. For it brings out the fact that “failure” does not bring a red cane mark on one’s forehead marking him as “a failure for live” and that “failure is acceptable” in the US. It is treated more like and experience rather than a sin or a sign of in capability. Unlike in the Europe or India/Asia (I am adding India/Asia from my side coz the argument is valid) where failure is treated like a sin and one is marked as a incapable man if he fails. He is asked to take safe options and avert taking risk. Of course if you fail regularly then its a different story altogether.

We are also fortunate here in the Silicon valley to have such a strong source of educated workers. There is a continuous influx of educated and skilled people, from the colleges around, to fit in jobs in the Valley’s enterprises. We also have liquid market (we had, but its picking up again).

For being successful a market has to allow public investments, not requiring VC’s for the funding all the way. Though VC’s are the one’s who put in a lot at the onset, taking calculated risks for rewarding returns. Venture capitalists were not common in Europe, rather risk averting banks feared to lend money for new ventures. This hinders creation of new businesses.

We also have a talent pool that is very fluid in the sense that they can shift from one business to another and it does so. In Europe it is less so. Everybody knows everybody else here, either you worked together, worked for the other or he worked for you. So people are aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

One last point is what is refered to as “cargo cults”.

Excerpt from Wikipedia:

The most widely known period of cargo cult activity, however, was in the years during and after World War II. First, the Japanese arrived with a great deal of unknown equipment, and later, Allied forces also used the islands in the same way. The vast amounts of war materiel that were air dropped onto these islands during the Pacific campaign between the Allies and the Empire of Japan necessarily meant drastic changes to the lifestyle of the islanders, many of whom had never seen Westerners or Easterners before. Manufactured clothing, medicine, canned food, tents, weapons, and other useful goods arrived in vast quantities to equip soldiers. Some of it was shared with the islanders who were their guides and hosts. With the end of the war, the airbases were abandoned, and cargo was no longer dropped.

In attempts to get cargo to fall by parachute or land in planes or ships again, islanders imitated the same practices they had seen the soldiers, sailors, and airmen use. They carved headphones from wood and wore them while sitting in fabricated control towers. They waved the landing signals while standing on the runways. They lit signal fires and torches to light up runways and lighthouses. The cult members thought that the foreigners had some special connection to the deities and ancestors of the natives, who were the only beings powerful enough to produce such riches.

In a form of sympathetic magic, many built life-size replicas of airplanes out of straw and created new military-style landing strips, hoping to attract more airplanes. Ultimately, although these practices did not bring about the return of the airplanes that brought such marvelous cargo during the war, they did have the effect of eradicating most of the religious practices that had existed prior to the war.[citation needed]

The Countries that don’t understand the dynamics and the environment that has to be in place to create a silicon valley and to sustain it. They put industrial parks, they put buildings together, they provide power and all the other stuff and then they ask the companies to come in and populate these shells. The problem is that these are just like those cargo shells, it is an empty shell and until you have all the other desiderata to keep this economic engine going, it just doesn’t work without them. So you can’t just build a shell, an industrial base, you have to have all the other pieces working together like an engine and its parts. But it turns out to be much harder a fact for some policy makers to understand.


I think Dr. Vinton (or “Vint” as he likes to be called) has made a solid point. I saw his speech (video) at Stanford Ecorner and found it resonating. There might be (and are) many other aspects that determine the growth of such an ecosystem but this post is not meant to touch on those, this was just to bring out a thought that it did.

More on this and my own thoughts and after thoughts on this topic shall appear within the next few postings.

Till then, think different.



July 7, 2009 2 comments

–by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream–and not make dreams your master,
If you can think–and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings–nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And–which is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!

Screw it, Let’s do it

February 15, 2009 Leave a comment
Screw it, Lets do it

Screw it, Let's do it

screw it, let’s do it” by Richard Branson

I came to know about this book from a fav list on a friend’s blog. The title, “let’s do it” part, caught my attention right away and there I go searching it on the web. Found a scribd copy of the book. Downloaded it in the afternoon and could not put it down, it was done by evening. Admittingly the first book ever which I finished from start to end and in such a short time. Apart from the only few other books I ever read full (strt – end). That was more of a disclaimer that I have not been an avid reader, but am observing changes in my reading habits lately. Becoming more n more of a hungry reader, though mostly for technology and entrepreneurism related content.

Now about the book –  the ‘Dr. Yes’ / ‘Mavericks in paradise’ – Richard Branson.

A dyslexic in childhood, ran a popular student magazine, a go getter, a hard worker, a calculated risk taker at most times, a lot lucky at times, ran one of the biggest music company – Virgin music, runs one of the largest airlines – Virgin, crossed the Pacific, Atlantic and world in host air balloons, saving fellow countrymen from being gulf war victims on his own life risk, HAVE FUN ALL THE TIME.

How many live like him? Only a handful I guess.

Rather then talking more and more about it, I will just cite a few paras from the book and let you decide if you want to give it a full read.

On fun, change and moving on.

As soon as something stops being fun, I think
it’s time to move on. Life is too short to be
unhappy. Waking up stressed and miserable is
not a good way to live.

On people looking to secret keys to success:

I always tell them the same thing. I have no
secret. There are no rules to follow in business.
I just work hard and, as I always have done,
believe I can do it. Most of all, though, I try to
have fun.

On patience and action:

Each time a chance came, we grabbed it.

On people who hate their jobs

If you do still have to work for a boss at a job
you don’t like, as almost everyone does at some
point, don’t moan about it. Have a positive out –
look on life and just get on with it. Work hard
and earn your pay. Enjoy the people you come
into contact with through your job. And if you
are still unhappy, make it instead your goal to
divide your private life from your work life.
Have fun in your own time, you will feel happier
and you’ll enjoy your life and your job more.

On being bold:

One of the things I try to do at Virgin is
make people think about themselves and see
themselves more positively. I firmly believe that
anything is possible. I tell them, ‘Believe in
yourself. You can do it.’
I also say, ‘Be bold but don’t gamble.’

On taking risks and about chasing dreams:

You can take care
and try to avoid the risks, but you can’t protect
yourself all the time. I am sure that luck playas
very large part. It’s easy to give up when things
are hard but I believe we have to keep chasing
our dreams and our goals, as these exciting
people did. And once we decided to do
something, we should never look back, never
regret it.

On challenging yourself.

If you challenge yourself, you will grow.
Your life will change. Your outlook will be
positive. It’s not always easy to reach your goal
but that’s no reason to stop. Never say die. Say
yourself ‘I can do it. I’ll keep on trying until I

On go-getters:

‘IF YOU WANT MILK, don’t sit on a stool in the
middle of the field in the hope that the cow will
back up you.’ This old saying could have been
one of y mother’s quotes. She would have added,
‘Go on, Ricky. Don’t just sit around. Catch the

On keeping your trust alive in people:

We doubled our profits but Virgin shares
started to slip and, for the firs time in my life, I
was depressed. Then there was huge stock-
market crash. Shares dropped fast. It wasn’t my
fault, but I felt that I was letting down all the
people who had bought Virgin shares. Many
were friends and family as well as our staff. But
many were like the couple who had given me
their lifesavings. I made up my mind. I would
buy all the shares back – at the price everyone
had paid for them. I didn’t have to pay that
much, but I didn’t want to let people down. I
personally raised the £182 million needed, but it
was worth it to keep my good name and my
The day that Virgin became a private
company again was like landing safely after a
record attempt in a powerboat or a balloon. I felt
nothing but relief. Once again, I was the captain
of my ship and master of my fate.
I believe in myself. I believe in the hands
that work, in the brains that think, and in the
hearts that love.

On balance between work, family and the importance of time

Here we
spend time together as a family. In fact, I am so
aware of how precious time with them is, I ration
myself to only fifteen minutes of business a day
when we’re together. I don’t use modern
gadgets like email or mobile phones, but in
Africa I did learn to use a satellite phone to keep
in touch with the office. Many bosses, who
spend all day in their office, are baffled. They
ask, ‘How can you do it all in just fifteen
I say, ‘It’s easy. Make every second
count.’ That is true in both my business and
personal life.

On unabated thinking

Even today, even when I am relaxing, I
never stop thinking. y brain is working all the
time when I am awake, churning out ideas.
Because virgin is a worldwide company, I find I
need to be awake much of the time. One of the
things I am very good at is catnapping, catching
an hour or two of sleep at a time. Of all the skills
I have learned, that one is vital for me.

On regrets and guilts:

It’s hard to lose out in a business deal, but
harder still to suffer from guilt. We all do things
we wish we hadn’t. Sometimes, they seem like
big mistakes, but later, when they seem like big
mistakes, But later when you look back, they
turn out to be small. Regret, which leads to a
sense of guilt, can give you sleepless nights. But
I believe the past is the past. You can’t change it.
So, even if sometimes you get things wrong,
regrets are wasted and you should move on.

Respect people

I have learned always to respect talent. Even
if someone is hired to do one thing, if they have
good ideas, or can handle something else, just
let them do it. This why I walk around, asking
people’s advice in street, on a plane or on a
train. It’s true what they say – hat the man in
the street often has ore common sense than
many big bosses.

Being polite:

some Japanese Businessmen. They were very
polite to a young man in sweater and jeans who
had no money. They taught me how important it
was to always keep eyes and ears open and to be
polite. They say that you never know who might
hear or see you. People talk. Gossip has a habit
of getting back to those you gossip about.

Do good, do no harm, make a difference and change the world, even if a little bit:

When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, I
watched the thousands of refugees flooding over
the border on the television………[snapped for brevity]

…….if I could get them some blankets. The
desert was very hot during the day and very cold
at night. She said blankets could be rigged up to
give shade during the day and at night people
could roll up in them to keep warm.
‘A few very young children have already
‘How many blankets do you need?’ I asked.
She said they needed 100,000. ‘We’ve got
only two or three days before hundreds start to
die. It’s urgent, Richard.’
Virgin airline staff got to work, phoning
around. In two day one of our jumbo jets was on
its way to Jordan with 40,000 blankets, tons
of rice and medical supplies. We returned with
British people who had been stranded in

Lastly the most inspiring thought:

A journey of a thousand miles starts with that
first step. If you look ahead to the end, and all
the weary miles between, with all the dangers
you might face, you might never take that first
step. And whatever it is you want to achieve in
life, if you don’t make the effort. You won’t
reach your goal. So take the first step. There
will be many challenges. You might get
knocked back – but in the end, you will make it.
Good Luck!
Richard Branson

Hope you liked the review and by now you are all set to read the stuff.


PP – Passion and Patience

October 13, 2008 Leave a comment

Hustle up – Garry rocks!!

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