Be Different…

Strategy,Agile, Java, .NET, TDD and all else I love

2013- A Year With Bitter Sweet Memories – Welcome 2014

We are a a day away from 2013 ending. I am sitting here on  a cold Seattle evening, typing this away. First I want to get basics out of the way

WISH YOU ALL A WONDERFUL AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR 2014

It is true that we moved back to Seattle. It is also true that I am still fully associated the company I founded and work with in India SolutionsIQ Consulting. I am really proud of the team that we have in India, who are some of the best professionals that I have been associated with . I do travel often to India now to spend time with the team. I teach less in India these days, but there is no plan to close anything. We are a growing high energy company and there is still lots to do in India .

The move back from India has been bitter sweet as we have family and close friends and colleagues we had built over the years in India.  At the same time our network of Friends and family in Seattle have shown us so much love as we move back in this city. We have partied quite a bit, kids are happy back here. I really want to take the time to thank my family, and friends both in India and in Seattle who are a big part of what i am today. I got the chance to spend time with my dad and mom this year and feel that I still not much has changed . I remain a kid for them only much bigger and older.

Another big part of the year was crossing the number 40 in age bar, and crossing 90 on weight bar. You tend to really reflect back on life and wonder what you really want to do with the rest of the life in front of me. I wonder sometimes what if i did not move to Milwaukee or what if I did not join, Spider, or what if  I joined the mother ship Microsoft that many do in Seattle. But I am ever so delighted that i am doing what I am passionate about, build a business,work with sharp teams and have fun. My wife has been like a rock supporting me all along the way with the decisions and helping me do what i am passionate about. Without her this much may not have been possible.

I do have a lot planned on the business front that I hope to do in 2014 . Scale, Stability and More fun are what I can think of when i think of work.I am confident that with all the hard work we are putting in the company we are building will do well . when you work with good people, generally there is a lot less to worry about.

This year to me was really about Atul Chitnis, a  person you meet only once in a lifetime, a great human, family person, technologist and much more. To me he was just Atul the neighbor next door.

Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Now there’s a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
You were caught on the crossfire of childhood and stardom,
blown on the steel breeze.
Come on you target for faraway laughter,
come on you stranger, you legend, you martyr, and shine!
You reached for the secret too soon, you cried for the moon.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Threatened by shadows at night, and exposed in the light.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Well you wore out your welcome with random precision,
rode on the steel breeze.
Come on you raver, you seer of visions,
come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine!

ATUL CHITNIS

This year to me was really about losing Atul  I am not sure if I have recovered from this yet. Atul Gopal Chitnis was  my brother in law, friend, a mentor for life. He was not only a role model for me growing up, but has been a big part of my life since 1990. Yes more than 20 years.  We lost Atul this year after a year long battle he had with colon cancer. He fought like anything else he did so many years. I am so glad he got to do what he wanted the last few months of his life. He spent time with the family. He was a people person. I think he had a checklist of people he wanted to meet before he died, and he did make sure he met every one of them. I am thankful to all who shared their wonderful life with him. From the medical staff who attended on him to all his friends and family, I am sure his thought has crossed us more than once since that sad day in June this year. But what makes me delighted is that i got to spend such a wonderful time with him. All the arguments and discussions with him always left you thinking.. There is not a day when i do not think or ask the question -”What would Atul have done or said” esp when it comes to things on the internet and technology. I do not have the guts to delete his skype profile form my list. Just hoping some day i may still hear a “Ping” from him.

I know for the world  he is technology person but for me he is just Toolz. The one I could tell anything and knowing well I will lose the argument anyway.

I can write pages about him , have thousands of reasons to thank him, but I will end with a simple thanks – Thanks Atul for becoming our neighbor in 1989 and helping me meet my wife Arati”. If she had not come on that summer vacation to your house, I would not be where I am today, wife , two kids and so many rich memories to thank for.This is to you Atul, I know you are out there wishing us all a very happy new year .

Just before Christmas we lost my wifes uncle. Jaya Kaka. This is part of what Arati my wife had to say about” Jaya Kaka – Nobody can replace you. May your soul rest in peace. You have left behind a legacy of proud family members along with your message of duty and protection. You taught us what the word “Family” means. Thank you for holding us all together.” I got to spend a good chunk of time in India with him. I really feel good that I did get to spend time a person who was such an important pillar in Arati’s life

As life goes – It is a bit bitter and sweet all the time. I look forward to coming year 2014 for brighter and bigger things for me, my family and company. I am blessed to be surrounded with the best bunch of family and friends.  I also wish all my  family and friends a Happy and prosperous New Year 2014.

Cheers

Vibhu

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My Wife – Arati writes about Atul

My dear brother-in-law lives in my heart forever.

I’ve known him since Age 7. I met him for the first time in the music practice room in Gomatesh English medium school. I sang a song and he played the guitar for me for a song. Here are some of the lyrics-”Listen well while I tell you a story,of a boy and a girl in the spring. When the first flask burst into glory. All the birds that were there, started to sing ” Pappa , he loves mamma. Mamma, She loves Pappa”
Now, that I think about it…It was a Great song… totally attributing to Shubha and Atul in 2013. At that time,I didn’t know he had any connection whatsoever with my oldest sister.

So, one day when I saw him sitting in our living room in my house in Belgaum, I was pleasantly shocked !!

You see, I liked him already. I never knew why he was in our living room quite often in the evenings but it didn’t matter.I proceeded to show him my art work , my certificates, the bruises and scrapes that I received in school.

Oh ! The things he had to put up with, just to impress my sister.

I was coming from school one day and got caught in the rain. Atul, was passing by on a bicycle. He saw me, stopped and pulled a towel out if his backpack, asked me to hop on to the front bar on his bicycle and he dropped me home.

When he got his new TVS 50, I got a ride on that, in Angol mal.I must have been 9. That was my first time on a bike and I was scared. Shubhadidi asked me to put my arms around his waist during the ride.I squeezed his waist so hard in fear that he must have choked.

He once taught me Maths with a match box and match sticks. Surface area of a rectangle or something like that.

I started to call him “Dada” -Big brother in Marathi -But they stopped me. Don’t ask me who stopped me. Because, I don’t remember.I just know that I was not supposed to call him Dada. So, I simply called him “Atul”. He was the Big Bear. I was wondering whether he resembled  “Goofy” or “Pluto” from  Walt Disney. I’ve lost count of the different names, I called him throughout my lifetime. The last one, I remember was “Atul Patul, I must have been in my early twenties.

I must have been mad at him or something. He retorted right back with a grin “Aartee Partee”. We kept saying these names to each other for a long time until I got tired of this game.

Finding out that he’s going to be my Jijaji-

My parents were quite strict about a family dinner every night at the dinner table. Each one of us got to talk about our day. Our dinners went on for over an hour most nights.

One day when I was 13 and was at the dinner table- My family announced to me that Atul was going to marry my oldest sister. My Dad was smiling at me. My mother was busy serving us dinner and  my older sister Keerti told me a few years later that I kept looking from Shubhadidi to Atul’s face in confusion. Discussions moved on to what Keerti and I should be wearing,which friends of mine and hers would be called, so on and so forth…

They were married on Feb 23rd 1987 in Belgaum in style.A nice family wedding in our house ” Shilpa Bldg” followed by a grand reception in the Belgaum club. Shubha and  Atul were the talk of the town. What with there fairy tale romance, and all?

Recent past-

I was not a big online person while I was in the US.On those rare occasions when I did go online and it turned out to be after 10 PM. He always pinged me on Yahoo and asked me what I was doing ,staying up so late. He never asked questions. He simply said “Zzzzzzzz…”

Even now, It feels like he is there in my messenger lists or on Skype.

I would like to end with this-

I can’t say that Atul has played a huge part in my life or that he has done a lot for me.

I would like to say this-

He has literally moulded my life and been the guiding star,showing me the right path. All this was more important especially because My father had a stroke while I was 14 and my Mom became the person who took all major decisions from then onward. But she was not alone because Atul was also helping her with all decisions for our family. My wonderful family today-Husband, kids and in-laws are the direct happy results of Atul’s blessings and we wouldn’t be where we are without my sweet Brother-in-law, Atul…

Atul’s booming, confident voice still rings crystal clear in my ears. It’s like he  is a star in the sky, looking at us all…

Miss you so…Atul

- Arati

Thanks to all of you who made my 40th Birthday memorable

It was one of those days of my life this week when i turned 40. The best part of this was all the friends and family who made this so much memorable for me and also reminding me in a very lovely manner that I am getting old.

Many of my friends, took the time to spend the evening with me at wonderful evening party well orchestrated and planned by my wife, Arati. She did plan this really well. Generally I am good at snooping around and finding things out, but this time I was completely taken by surprise. IMAG1473 IMAG1472 IMAG1471

My engineering room mate Gautam, landed here on Sunday morning to spend the day here from Pune. Atul my brother in law opened up the beautiful lawns at this house to allow me to spend evening with friends and family.

My parents started the day by coming home and spending the morning with me. Evening went with all the friends and family. I am blessed to know that I am cared for.

To all the friends , Colleagues from work, folks on facebook, my brother, my cousin sis who always calls me one day before to wish, my beautiful wife who planned this out, my kids who kept this secret from me. my parents who are always there for me, thanks you one and all. . I am ready for the next round of 40 years now.

HP Solution Center Team – Please read this

The solution center team in HP ( I know there is one in Bangalore) needs to get this act together.

 

In software there is a term called “Loose Coupling“. Your product HP Solution Center completely defies this rule.

Problem Statement:

Solution Center does not support multiple printers. FIX THIS.

I have HP F4488 inkjet home, HP K09-a-z and a laser jet in office. I cannot use the same solution center . I have to uninstall and reinstall solution center for it to recognize a different printer.

A user should be able to use multiple printers for scanning using HP solution center by simply choosing a printer within Solution Center.

Current Implementation

Sucks

Proposed Solution

A software like solution center should not be tightly coupled to the driver or default setting etc. Instead of hard wiring the code and make them so dependent, is loose coupling using interfaces  also called as Contract first design ( this is an age old concept)

Why should the solution center product care which printer is there.

In this day and age I am even surprised software teams cant think of something as basic as this 

If you make this change I would love to hear from you at VIBHU_S AT YAHOO.COM

 

 

Inspirations for the day

This is  a post from me after a long time. Well a lot has actually happened in the year past . Work is busy. Home front things are great. Guess I could take more time with kids at home.

Happy to see my wife also get involved in the business. Lots of recent events near home that questions the whole purpose of life. How things can change over a wink of an eye.  Leaving only hope and inspirations and  brings a very strong meaning to what life actually is all about.

Along the journey today I stopped for a few moments to hear speakers like Deepa Malik who is paralyzed  waist down or a bit more than that is what she said

More on Deepa here

http://www.dnis.org/print_interview.php?interview_id=131

She spoke about her initiative called Ability beyond Disability to a large audience. This speech was surely once in a  lifetime. A simple army officers wife who got paralyzed at 39 decides to get financial independence. This leads to her learning computers, starting a restaurant, going back to her passion of biking. drove the Himalayan rally, swam over Yamuna, winner of common wealth game and recent winner of arjuna award, world record holder in Para olympics and winner of 4 limca records.

The point that struck me was when she spoke about how Yuvraj singh for one tumor was so famous , but she has been living with a tumor for all her life. She has infact said this to Yuvi.

She spoke mainly of

1) Doing what you really want

2) Working hard towards that goal

3) Persistence to get to the next best level.

4) Having a team of successful people who love you around you

5) Belief in team work etc

This surely was a energizer for me and I will surely remember her speech leaving me with no reason to complain about life. Don’t give up.

So long

VS

12.5 and Going

Today was another bit of a milestone for me personally. From having run less than a few kilometers, today I got to feel the joy of finishing at the Bangalore Ultra in which I did a 12.5 KM. The longest segment was 100 K, which I hope to achieve NEVER:). After a rather disappointing week, I would say this made it up for all and got to spend quality time with kids after a very long time today.

I have always been a runner, but only basic distances. This year a cousin of my wife pushed me into a group called Runner High which is a dedicated runners group and an initiative of Santhosh Padmanabhan, who has returned back to India to help with his dream of service. He helps with Team Asha and can run 100 Miles in a hearbeat. A coach who aims to bring the best in all of us at Runners High. It is one thing if the coach just says – Here is how you run” and one thing if the coach can run150 Km races. Some things I have learnt from him in my coaching career (Agile consulting )

1) Walk the talk.

2 ) Practice what you preach

3) Set a high bar for team, but do not push them

4) Do a structured long term inititiave. There are no shortcuts.

5) The only way to believe in yourself, is when I cross the race finish on my own.

In six months span, now I run weekly three to four times, running is now fun and enjoyable.

Some basic achievements ( baby steps )

1) Freedom Run 10 K

2) 10 K practice runs – 3 of them

3) Kaveri trail Marathon – Srirangpathan for 10K

4) 12.5 K Practice runs – 2 of them

5) Bangalore Ultra – Today for 12.5 – The timing today was rather bad.

Not to mention is the wild support I get from everyone at home and at Team Runners High.

What keeps the hopes high for me is the fact that I meet some really great people along the way. Santosh as an example. At the run today at the Ultra, one of the runners was a very old person ( more than 70 ), who has just recovered from many months of being bedridden. a traditional Indian couple who ran faster that i did, a bunch of kids who from Asha foudation, Kiran from my family who runs at a great pace.

Some day I plan to make it to the full marathon. I guess i have no rush there. I have been in US for 15 years, but thanks to Kiran, I seem to have found a nice passion which I have always enjoyed. In two years of our return to India, we as a family have had various days where we contemplate where do we belong. But days like this only make my resolve to get better everyday. Not to mention I had the energy to spend time with family at the pool.

What matter I think is these simple joys of life. Lets see what future holds.

Go Runners High:)

 

A really good tutorial for Cucumber based development

If you are looking for a interesting and quick read for Cucumber – a frenquently used tool in Agile teams, here is a great online book.

http://cuke4ninja.com/toc.html. More coming soon

A Tribute To My Teacher

I  think its time I write this due credit to my Sanskrit Teacher.

Today I am a good speaker. Can talk in front of 1000 , no problem. Speak often at conferences. Did you know I was not always like that. I think I owe it to two people. First is my dad who himself is a speaker. So that may be a gene effect. But I really owe it K T Sundarasampatkumarachar, my 8th standard Sanskrit teacher.

In 8 th grade, when I studied at National High School, Bangalore, ( which by the way is a fantastic school), we used to have these inter school debates in science. I was chosen from my school to participate against many competing schools in Bangalore. There were other kids too from my school.

Competition day came, and I went to Vidya Vartaka, another sought out school at that time. I remember even now my name being called, and I got this weird feeling in my tummy. Went of the stage and all I said was good morning all or something to that effect. After that i had a complete brain freeze.

I could not take the tension of 200 kids and teachers from other schools watching at me. After a few minutes, I was told to come back as I could not speak a word. I think I did say thanks in the end.  Not sure how I felt that day, But i am assuming I must have not felt that great.

What i remember clearly is the next day. KTS who was a Sanskrit pundit and a very strict teacher ( my class teacher) had heard about this fiasco. The entire class would freeze at this stern look. I remember him calling me that day at the steps and asking me to come and meet him.

The conversation with him did not go that well. I remember him shouting at me for what I had done. I  had actually done a lot of preparation for this competition. I remember even now telling him that I will never again be able to speak on a stage as get scared looking at other teachers and kids faces.

Next day when I came to school, I was in for a surprise. I was told there was a special presentation and this was by me on the same topic that i had failed to deliver. KTS had asked me to go do well. He also gave a tip , look at someone you are comfortable with.

I did not know what he had done that day. He had invited our principal, all teachers and made them in the first row. He also had invited all 10th and 9th grade kids whom I would rather not look in the face.

I remember KTS patting me on the back ( He had this pundit ji brahmin cut and would also be in a dhoti and kurta) and saying look at someone I am comfortable at. There I went on the stage and was more scared than ever as all my teachers were sitting in the first few rows staring at me.

I said hello and starting looking for my familiar face. All I saw that day was the smiling but stern face of KT Sundarasampath Kumarachar sitting somewhere in the back.

I don’t remember how I started and finished in style in 20 minutes . I remember his  nod and smile even now and lots of clapping in the end.

Thank you sir, Without what you did that day, I would not be what I am today. I got selected as a keynote speaker recently at a conference again and I really want to thank the man, who made it all possible.

Teachers are really great. They do things with no return favors just like Parents I guess. KTS is no more today, but i am sure he will read or hear what I am feeling today

To you sir, Many Thanks.

Download Mediachitter for IPhone

A good friend of mine has released http://www.mediachitter.com/ .

 a mobile voice blogging and messaging service that lets you exchange Rich Voice Topics with family and friends.

Key Feature Highlights:
* Share voice messages. Play back received messages like visual voicemail.
* Share a photo with a voice tag. Play back audio comments as you view the photo with an embedded voice tag.
* Check in a location and share it with a photo and a voice tag. Play back audio comments as you view the map and photo.
* Share a web link with voice tag. Play back audio comments as the web link gets previewed in a browser.
* Or, just share text messages without any audio.
* Play back received topics with quick access to voice messages or view topic contents as a detailed slide show.
* Exchange topics only among approved friends.
* Share a topic with one or multiple users.
* Create circles of friends for easy group messaging.
* All topic exchanges stay private to topic participants.
* Your friends don’t need to be online when you send voice messages.


3 Months Free Trial:
It is free to download and you can enjoy full-featured experience free for 3 months – no credit card or contract required to sign up! It is available for iPhone 3G and later, IPod touch 2nd generation and later, and iPad. You can find more information about the app on the website
http://www.mediachitter.com/ .
Please click
http://www.mediachitter.com/appstore/ to download the app from Apple’s app store.

I hope you get a chance to try the service with your family and friends. Appreciate if you can download and spread the word

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