WordCamp culture in India – It is still early days!

Last month on 24th January, along with some friends I attended WordCamp Baroda 2014. This was the second time I was attending a WordCamp in Baroda and overall I have now attended four WordCamps. Will be attending a fifth one but more on that later.

The WordCamp in Baroda, itself was a good one. The venue was at the outskirts of Baroda city. It might have been difficult for some attendees but there were bus pickups arranged from two different points in the city. It meant a big benefit which was, that most attendees came to the venue and left the venue at the same time.

WordCamp Baroda 2014
WordCamp Baroda 2014

The speaker sessions were interesting and a lot of impromptu discussions were held too. These unstructured discussions are one major reason I actually like visiting WordCamps. One such impromptu discussions was actually a self-appraisal of speaker sessions themselves by Saurabh Shukla. The simple question was to ask if some sessions were adding any value to the attendees. This stirred some passions but in the end the tone of the WordCamp Baroda turned from officious to camp like.

The formalities were dropped and the informal discussions ended up being a blessing for healthy debates and a lot more audience participation took place over the two-day event.

As an organizer Rahul Banker did an exemplary job planning and executing WordCamp Baroda. I also must add the team of volunteers who worked tirelessly and diligently behind the scenes were true champions. Any amount of praise to the volunteers is not enough.

I have a lot of respect for WordCamp organizers and volunteers today than I ever did before. That is because I have ended up in the organizing team of WordCamp Mumbai 2014, which takes place on March 15th-16th. In this post more than reviewing WordCamp Baroda, I am taking stock of the WordCamp  and by extension the WordPress culture in India.

Some delusions about meetups in India

There were some arguments made about how tech related meetups do not work in India. I do not mean tech related events but meetups organized by like minded people where entry is free and control over what is discussed is minimal to none. The constant argument made against organizing such meetups are “Meetups do not work in India as India is different from other countries”.

In my personal experience is absolutely untrue. I am part of WordPress meetups in Mumbai for over a year and we might not boast of a large community but all the organizers of WordCamp Mumbai 2014 met each other at meetups and did not know about each others existence before these meetups began.

This clearly shows that India is not any different and meetups can and do work in India. It just requires people to keep having meetups regularly. I have attended meetups with only four people (me included). I have a simple rule to decide if a meetup is successful or not. If I meet someone new, the meetup is successful. :-) In Mumbai we organize meetups over coffee or even dosas which always get decent number of people attending. ;-)

Too many celebrities at WordCamps

I found a disturbing trend at all WordCamps I have attended till now. There is a bit of a celebrity culture around some people. These celebrities are usually popular bloggers. Too many people mob and excessively praise popular bloggers. I won’t blame the bloggers themselves and I think most are a bit embarrassed by the attention.

I think this can be toned down a bit in the future – again back to the importance of meetups – if these bloggers were accessible with local meetups, I do not think there would be too much fawning over individuals.

Organizers need to contribute their experiences

I think people who have organized WordCamps in India, have missed a trick by not writing down detailed posts on what went behind organizing such an event. Explaining how they approached WordCamp Central and what should other budding organizers do would be a lot more helpful.

Hopefully after WordCamp Mumbai 2014 is over, I will write a series of long posts on what exactly happens behind the scenes while organizing the event.

Over to Mumbai!

WCMumbai

As I wrote earlier, I am part of the organizing team for WordCamp Mumbai 2014. There are some very good speakers lined up and one of them is our very own Rahul Bansal.

The big challenge was to make this WordCamp in Mumbai accessible to everyone. We have started that by keeping the ticket prices to a minimum of Rs. 300/-.

Here are some of the useful links for WordCamp Mumbai 2014 (March 15-16)

The WordCamp culture in India is still nascent but I can see it has moved forward since I wrote about my experiences at WordCamps a year ago. It is definitely becoming more informal and approachable. Hopefully it continues down this path. There are several thousand WordPress experts in India and hopefully they do not remain just a talent pool for companies but also end up becoming a thriving community.

Update: Rahul Banker brought to my notice that he had chronicled his experience as a organizer in a post last year.

3 Reasons why Indians shouldn’t buy iPhone 4 at 23K

Apple didn’t bring a cheap iPhone 4 earlier. Now, the latest reports by many leading technology blogs claim that Apple is likely to re-launch iPhone 4 at 23,000 INR in the Indian markets. iPhone 4 is the fourth generation iPhone in the series and was announced roughly three years back.

Apple has stopped producing iPhone 4 last August and still has many unsold iPhone 4 devices in it’s inventories worldwide. This is why Apple has decided to bring these devices to the Indian markets. Initially reported to sell at 15,000 INR, it is reported that Apple might place the price tag at 23,000 INR with EMI, and carrier tie-ups.

Though it looks cheap, there are many reasons why Indians should not choose the iPhone 4.

Outdated hardware

The smartphone industry has come a long way since iPhone 4’s launch. Compared to the latest 2014 smartphones, the 1 GHz cortex-A8 processor powered iPhone 4 looks pretty lame. It comes with 5 MP camera, 512 MB RAM, 3.5 inch display and 1420 mAh battery.

Combine these specs with iOS 7 aka the memory hog and you have a phone which struggles to do simple things.

Related : Comparing Samsung Galaxy S3 and iPhone 4S

Stripped iOS 7 on iPhone 4

When it was launched, the iPhone 4 came with iOS 4. It later got upgraded to iOS 6.1.4 and now, iOS 7.0.4 is available for the iPhone 4.

But, this version of iOS 7 doesn’t do any magic. Most of the iPhone 4 users have started complaining about the lag while using apps, reduced functionality and speed of the device.

iPhone 4

Also, this version of iOS doesn’t bring AirDrop or filters for Camera app on iPhone 4. No Siri either. Also, once you upgrade to iOS 7 on your iPhone 4, there is no option to downgrade to iOS 6.

The outdated hardware on iPhone 4 simply doesn’t withstand iOS 7.

Better competitive phones are available now

The Lumia 1320 from Nokia is a good option if you love Windows Phone. With a 6 inch display, Dual core 1.7 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, it is a good smartphone that you can choose. It is priced at 23K, the same as the about-to-relaunch-iPhone 4.

If you want to go the Android way, there are many devices from Samsung and the Indian manufacturer Micromax. Samsung Galaxy Grand, Micromax Canvas A116 HD are good choices. The Galaxy Grand from Samsung is available at just 15K!

Remember Moto G launch? Motorola promised to bring Moto G to the Indian markets in the month of January. It should happen any time now.

The Moto G comes with the latest Android KitKat, 1 GB RAM 4.5 inch display, 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor and a 5 MP camera.

What’s your thoughts on the upcoming re-launch of iPhone 4? Are you an Indian and do you wish to buy the iPhone 4, or opt a better smartphone?

if you still wish to buy the iPhone 4, it’s already available on Flipkart at 22,649 INR.

Comparing Flipkart, Amazon, Snapdeal and Tradus One-Day Delivery Services

A few months back, Amazon announced ‘Guaranteed one-day delivery’ service and Flipkart followed suite with ‘In-a-day delivery’ service And now, here are Snapdeal and Tradus with the same.

Snapdeal’s Express Delivery and Tradus’s same day delivery services are special. They are offered for free while Flipkart and Amazon offer for additional charges.

Snapdeal-one-day-delivery

Here’s how the e-commerce giants differ in one-day delivery services :

Price

  1. Flipkart – 90 INR per item.
  2. Amazon – 99 per order for one-day delivery option and 79 per order for two-days delivery option.
  3. Snapdeal – Free
  4. Tradus – Free

Obviously, Snapdeal’s and Tradus’ free one-day delivery service is only for a limited time. They’ll start charging additional bucks soon.

Location

  • Flipkart – Offers in 13 cities for. Pune, Hyderabad, Delhi, Noida, Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore, Gurgaon, Ghazidabad, Faridabad, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Nagpur. Will expand to other cities soon.
  • Amazon – Offers in selected pincodes. The cities include Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Pune.
  • Snapdeal – Offers in Delhi and Gurgaon for now.
  • Tradus – Offers in Delhi and NCR for now. Other cities to join the list soon.

Products available

  • Flipkart – All products on Flipkart are eligible for In-a-day delivery service.
  • Amazon – All Fulfilled by Amazon products are eligible. No minimum purchase.
  • Snapdeal – As of now, only some products are eligible for this delivery option and such products are marked with an yellow tag on the website.
  • Tradus – Only on mobiles and tablets.

Cut-off time

  • Flipkart – You’ll have to place the order before 6 pm to receive the product the next day.
  • Amazon – Cut-off time is till midnight for Mumbai and Pune. The cut-off time is 3 pm for other pincodes.
  • Snapdeal – You’ll have to place the order before 1 pm.
  • Tradus – No reports on that.

Logistics used

  • Flipkart – Flipkart has it’s own logistics operation. So, it’s easy for Flipkart to ship the brought immediately.
  • Amazon – Amazon’s recently tied-up with India Post and guaranteed one-day delivery works well for Amazon too.
  • Snapdeal – Uses third party logistics to ship the product.
  • Tradus – Uses third party logistics to ship the product.

Snapdeal and Tradus are in a tough position because they’ll have to work a lot in the back-end with the third party logistics partners to make the delivery on time.

Payment options

  • Flipkart – All payment options are available, including cash on delivery (COD)
  • Amazon – All payment options are available, including COD.
  • Snapdeal – No reports on payment modes. But, my guess is that all payment options should be available.
  • Tradus – All payment options are available, including COD.

Refunds

  • Flipkart – For COD, additional delivery charge will be collected as per the order, but will be refunded to your Flipkart wallet.
  • Amazon – Automatic refund of the shipping charges if the product is not delivered as promised.
  • Tradus – No reports on refunds.

So, what do you think about Snapdeal’s and Tradus’ one-day delivery services. Will you use it?

When should you Google a person? [Flowchart]

Do you Google a person? In today’s super connected world, often we are introduced to people via Facebook or Twitter and not exactly in person. If we have to know more about this person professionally a quick search on Google is useful. But Googling someone’s name can also be considered weird behaviour. Here is a nice flowchart for us to decide when exactly is it appropriate to Google someone.

Should I Google This Person
Should I Google This Person?

Some of the instances described are funny, life if you work for NSA, Google has already given you all the information, while some is sound advice that it is unwise to Google someone who is standing right next to you. :-)

You might also like to check out a flowchart to decide which social network to post on.

Source: Dell Tech Page One

 

GOSF’s attempt to replicate “Cyber Monday” in India is misplaced

Google has tied up with several e-commerce websites in India to bring together an online shopping festival. Basically online buyers can expect a lot of lucrative discounts on a variety of products. The 3 day festival is called GOSF (Google Online Shopping Festival). Yes, this is supposed to be India’s version of “Cyber Monday”.

Last year the GOSF kicked off to insipid enthusiasm and more importantly criticism of users finding that the discounts on offer were either not lucrative and in some cases, the prices were over-inflated and then a hefty discount applied.

This year GOSF will probably see a lot less of that, but it has not been an auspicious start as gosf.in the official portal crashed in the first few hours. Google India did tweet out that the site should be up soon. At the time of writing this post, the portal was up and running.

GOSF_Discounts

The Logic is missing

The online retail business in India is growing but I cannot help feeling that GOSF is an misplaced effort. Yes, it would be nice to have India’s own “Cyber Monday” but there is logic behind the “Cyber Monday” phenomenon in the US. Thanksgiving holiday in the US is observed on every fourth Thursday in November. Many Americans have a long weekend off, which stretches from Thursday to Sunday. Some who go on vacation or travel do not have the option of availing Black Friday discounts which happen at retail shops on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Having super discounts on Monday (Cyber Monday) means a lot of buyers can enjoy their vacations and still avail great discounts online. This also was useful initially as not all houses had an internet connections and people used their office computers to shop online. And offices opened only on Monday after the long weekend.

This while science or logic behind “Cyber Monday” is totally missing with GOSF. The attempt is novel but maybe it should be held every year the day after the festival of Diwali takes place in India. It is a traditional festival when Indians save up and shop during. Or atleast have this festival in the first weekend of the month, which is closer to the first of the month and is a time when many online shoppers have just got their salaries credited into their account.

What do you think of GOSF? Do drop in your comments.

Amazon’s Drone Delivery: The Future or Marketing Gimmick?

Jeff Bezos the CEO of Amazon, yesterday revealed on a television program “60 minutes” that the company was working on sending five pound packages to people using drones. This would reduce the delivery time to 30 minutes. Amazon has been disruptive many times in the past and with same day delivery might even put small exclusive stores out of business. But using drones instead of actual people to deliver a package from a warehouse to a house in 30 minutes is disruptive on a totally different scale.

Amazon Drone Delivery
Amazon’s Drone will carry 5 pound packages within 30 minutes.

Such a drone does exist and is works in a program called Prime Air. The drone will sit on the conveyor belt and pick up the relevant package. Fly over to the recipient’s house and gently place the package down. According to a Verge article, the drone will travel over 10 miles and most importantly 86% of Amazon’s packages are smaller than 5 pounds. So the scope of using this drone is huge.

The video below shows how the octo-copter or drone will work.

But will drones for delivery work?

Amazon still has some technical problems like how to ensure they do not drop packages from the sky or manage to avoid people and things while landing in the real complex world. They also need see how the drones could sense where to place the package. The video demo the package is dropped in the front yard but what happens to packages that need to be delivered to high rises. But Jeff Bezos has declared 2015 as the year when the program kicks off and 5 years to get it running at large.

But those are just technical issues, there are major political and employment issues to deal with too. Lack of an actual person delivering packages means loss of jobs. Delivery inside 30 minutes could put provision drones or specialized stores out of business. Drones with sensors and cameras scouring over neighborhoods means an almost total lack of privacy which is something that will not be very popular.

Finally would local government bodies allow hundreds of such drones to fly through their airspace and not find it unsafe? Amazon will have to work very hard in convincing people and governments to firstly make this technology really viable.

Was this just a massive PR exercise?

The whole delivery by drone thing does sound like a major PR exercise for Amazon. They can always go back and claim a multitude of reasons to say the project did not materialize but what happened yesterday almost every media outlet was giving Amazon coverage and mostly in a positive light. Yesterday was “Cyber Monday” a day traditionally people shopped online in the US. And which name is the biggest in online shopping world? Amazon.

So basically Amazon got massive publicity on the biggest day of online shopping in the US. And they got this more or less free as this was news coverage not an ad campaign which costs millions of dollars.

So what do you think about Amazon’s drone program? Think it will succeed or will it be such a proto-type that got them a lot of publicity on a very convenient day?

Do drop in your comments.

Google reveals Motorola’s “Project Ara” to let users customize their phones

When Google bought Motorola most industry experts have never been truly able to explain “why” it did so. Was it for Motorola’s patents which could be valuable against an Apple? Was it as leverage against Samsung who were more or less dominating the Android based phone market? Was it that Google now wanted to become like Apple and make their own phones?

Google’s wisdom has been questioned for a while regarding Motorola, as over the last couple of years – Motorola has eating millions out of Google’s profits. But it seems Google had a plan for Motorola all this while.

A day ago, they announced “Project Ara” for Motorola. Project Ara is basically making a phone last longer but making them modular. So basically the idea is the phone will come apart in several modules and one could just change the screen if it was smashed or opt for a bigger battery instead of a better camera.

So what is the vision of Project Ara?

The vision is to replicate Android’s open source nature into hardware. As in Project Ara is supposed to become a free and open hardware platform. Here are some images of the early designs with Project Ara.

Project Ara HandsetsNote the Moto X lock-screen notifications icon on these devices. The phones looks like a jigsaw puzzle full of modules and that is what it is supposed to be. It will contain a endoskeleton (endo) and modules. The endo-skeleton will basically keep the modules in place as a framework.

Project Ara modularsHow has Google gone about planning to make modular phones?

Some of you might be aware of a concept called Phonebloks. The concept is similar to “Project Ara” and also promises freedom of customization and choice for users. The problem with Phonebloks was that the design it was suggesting looked “scientifically dodgy” but the idea of users modular built block by block is not really news. But Google is working with Phonebloks creator Dave Hakkens to tap into its community.

Google expects to roll-out a alpha versions of Module Developers Kit (MDK) over the next 4-5 months.

In 2007, Modu an Israeli company also came out with the idea of selling modular phones. The company went bust in 2011 and surely enough in May 2011 Google stepped in and bought many of their patents on modular technology. This means Google has been thing on these lines almost since the time they acquired Motorola.

Here is a nice video from Phonebloks that explains the concept of modular phones.

Will Google succeed? That is a entirely different question but if it does, the hegemony of phone manufacturers with deep pockets will be shaken in a big way.

What are your views on modular phones? Do you think they will work? Do drop in your comments.

Link: Motorola blog

Round up of Apple’s Fall Event: New iPads, Macs and Free OS X Mavericks

Apple’s Fall event is usually when the company announces the good stuff before the major holiday season (AKA shopping season) kicks off. Apple had already unveiled the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s over a month ago but the new iteration to the iPad, iPad Mini and MacBook Pro was eagerly awaited. Apple came out firing on all cylinders and here is a round-up of all devices announced at the Apple event.

iPad Air

What was the new iPad going to be called. Apple has had some mixed up naming convention, like after iPad 2 came the New iPad which was technically iPad 3. The new name suits it well and its called iPad Air (obviously borrowed from MacBook Air).

iPad Air

  • This tablet is light as in it weighs only 1 pound (0.45 kgs).
  • The display screen is 9.7 inch and support resolution of 2048 x 1536 and over 3.1 million pixels. It is with retina display.
  • It will run on the A7 chip and support 64-bit architecture, which will be a first for iPad.
  • iPad Air camera will take 5 MP photos with 1080p HD video recording and the front facing camera takes 1.2 MP photos with 720p HD video.
  • It will be available in space grey and silver. The device will also be available in WIFI only and WIFI+Mobile versions.

Pricing

The iPad Air Wifi with 16 GB storage is available for $499. The price of the iPad Air Wifi + Cellular with 16 GB storage is available for $629.

iPad Mini with retina display

iPad Mini with retina display has been hotly debated. With Google unveiling a powerful Nexus 7 (2013) earlier in the year, it was no surprise to see iPad Mini get the retina display tag. iPad Mini with retina display will be released in November.

iPad Mini RD

  • The iPad Mini with retina display packs the 7.9 inch display screen while supporting 2048 x 1536 resolution.
  • It will run on the A7 chip supporting 64-bit architecture.
  • iPad Mini camera will take 5 MP photos with 1080p HD video recording and the front facing camera takes 1.2 MP photos with 720p HD video.
  • The device will be available in grey, silver, white and black colours.

Pricing

The iPad Mini with retina display like the iPad Air will ship in two varieties. The iPad Mini Wifi with 16 GB storage will cost $399 and the Wifi + Cellular with 16 GB storage is priced at $529.

What happens to the older version of iPad and iPad Mini?

The older iPad Mini will still be around and sold at $299. The older iPad 2 will be sold at $399. Both prices are for devices with 16GB memory. This is a good idea by Apple as it gives it basically 4 tablet devices out there in the market.

MacBook Pro

The MacBook Pro lineup has also been refreshed. The new 13-inch and 15-inch display screen MacBook Pro laptops will ship with retina display. The 15-inch MacBook Pro without retina display has been discontinued. The device will ship with the newly released Mavericks OS X.

MBP - retina  - 2013

  • The MacBook Pro laptops will run on Intel Haswell chips. The 13-inch device will pack a 2.4 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor. The device will ship with 128 GB, 256 GB and 512 GB storage variants.
  • Similarly the 15-inch MacBook Pro will run on  2.0GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor for the 256 GB storage variant and 2.3 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor for the 512 GB version.
  • MacBook Pro laptops will contain 2 USB 3.0 ports, HDMI port. The battery for the 13-inch MBP will last for 9 hours and 8 hours for the 15-inch MBP.

Pricing

The pricing of the 13-inch MBP with 128 GB storage is $1299 and for the 15-inch MBP for 256 GB storage is $1999. The MacBook Pro laptops should be available right away.

OS X Mavericks released and for free!

Apple’s big announcement was the release date for OS X Mavericks. The new OS X version is already available for Mac users. Most importantly Apple is releasing this update free of cost. That means every user will probably save $20 that it took to buy the new update.

Read the full article by Vibin on OS X Mavericks being free and some issues with the update.

The free upgrade this time around means that most future upgrades will also be given away free. That is a big challenge for companies like Microsoft who depend on selling new OS updates as a business.

Complete Tech Specs

Google Chromebooks available in India for Rs. 22,999: Should you buy one?

Google’s laptop offering called Chromebooks are now officially available in India. There are two Chromebooks on sale in India, one being Acer C720 for Rs. 22,999 and the other being the HP Chromebook 14 for Rs. 26,990.

The Chromebooks can are available for pre-order on Flipkart and they will be available at select outlets of Reliance Digital and Croma retail shops from 17th October in New Delhi and Mumbai.

Chromebooks_India_Acer
Acer C70 Chromebook – priced at Rs. 22,999 in India

The Acer AC720 will be the bigger draw. Priced at Rs. 22,999/- it features a display screen of 11.6 inches. It will run on the new Intel Chips. These chips are supposed to improve the battery life of the device and this device promises upto 8.5 hours of uptime.

It will feature 100 GB space on the Google Drive for two years but only 16 GB Solid State Drive.

It will have a support Wi-Fi and have the option to have a 3G modem fitted.

HP Chromebook 14 - India
HP Chromebook 14 – priced at Rs. 26,990 in India

The more expensive HP Chromebook 14, will pack a 14 inch display screen and a battery that lasts 9.5 hours of active use. It is priced at Rs. 26,990/-

It will also pack 100 GB Google Drive cloud storage for two years with 16 GB Solid State Drive. The device will support WIFI and an optional 3G modem.

Link: Chromebooks in India

How will Chromebooks connect to the internet?

An obvious option to connect to the internet would using your own WIFI connection. But if users do not have their own connection, they can still connect using 3G broadband services offered with the Chromebooks.

Google has tied up with Tikona and Airtel to offer wireless broadband services to work with their Chromebooks as part of Chrome goodies.

I checked these broadband bundles being offered and felt that they seemed to be good enough for casual users.

Link: Chrome Goodies

Is the Chromebook useful offline?

The Chromebook is mainly a device that is built for going useful online. But Chromebooks do have some offline capabilities. It will allow users to write emails, view appointments, play music from a USB stick or edit photos saved locally. More importantly you can view all Microsoft Office files and also .PDF files.

Unfortunately there is no capability to edit MS Office files from the Chromebooks in offline mode. But the Google Drive app will allow users to create, edit and view documents in offline mode.

Chrome also has a lot of offline apps that can be installed.

Link: Offline Apps on Chrome

Who would be interested in Chromebooks?

The appeal for this small PC is usually for two types of users. One would be people who want a second laptop to basically surf the net, reply to emails and use some web apps and take advantage of the 100 GB space offered on Google Drive.

The other larger section of users Google is hoping to snag, are the kind who really are using a laptop for surfing the web and are not interested in anything much more. Though the it is a tough sell as many of these users might prefer to get themselves a tablet computer instead of a Chromebook. If someone is using an expensive laptop more or less to browse the net and check their emails at most times, a Chromebook would make sense.

Some added benefits are that the space on your Google Drive will be up from 5GB free space now to 100 GB. That would be a great benefit if you were paying for extra storage space on Google Drive.

Will you buy yourself a Chromebook? Do drop in your comments.

Link: Acer AC 720 | HP Chromebook 14

The logic behind questions asked at job interviews [Infographic]

If you have been to a few job interviews there are some specific questions that you might have come across more than once. Personally for me one of the most asked questions were “Where do your see yourself in 5 years?” and “Why do you want to work with our company?”.

While many cover what the ideal answer should be for such questions, there is actually a logic behind asking such questions at an interview. The logic or the hidden reasons are really not to see if you know the answer to a  question but to get a candidate reveal more about themselves.

Sample Questionnaire has this nice infographic on 19 common questions asked at job interviews and what the hidden logic behind these questions are:

Concept-and-Logic-Behind-Typical-Interview-Questions

If you are attending job interviews then it might be a good idea to go over the logic behind these questions to answer more appropriately at your next interview.

Do drop in your comments.