29 April 2013

Your Call is Important to us, "please hold"

Assume this. You are dialing to your bank's telephonic banking wanting to change some trivial information. Once you dial and after you successfully chosen the language/service pressing sequence of numbers between 1 and 9 several times, you reach a queue. For reaching this queue you should have had good karma and spent 5-10 minutes of your time.

After reaching this queue, you will actually wait there for a while and the voice keeps assuring you that you are very very important person for them [like aam aadhmi for politicians, the account holders is for banks. May it be aam aadhmi, account holders or employees lose their significance in isolation and termed differently as "individual violating the code of conduct or rebellion"]. It will either say, "your call is important to us, please hold, our customer service personnel will attend you shortly" or you will hear a nice mandolin or flute. After about 10 minutes there and if you have luck (and patience), you will be listened and the work will done in 30 seconds. In order to get the job done, i need to spend 20 minutes of my time and bear the cost for calling them for 20 minutes. The following images are both serious and comedy depending upon whether this is happening to you or to your friend (and if this happens to your neighbor, if you will feel happier :-))

But everyday, we are waiting in a queue. We realize the fact very lately that the queue that we stood was to reach another queue. Even if we know that there are several queues we just feel we can reach comfortably. But it becomes quite an adventure when all of a sudden a new queue was dropped from heaven. This is a new queue. You have to stand in this new queue before reaching another queue (my inner voice will say, yeah, i know that). If you get a adrenaline surge because of movement from one queue to another, i feel that it is sure way of doing disservice to myself.

Many things in life can be equated to such useless queue - money, buying couple of flats, couple plots outside the city, getting married at right age, getting promotions at work after series of suck ups, getting nice increment. But we never intend to find a queue for happiness and we never find time to find such a queue which is worth standing. I can't find a better picture than this - burying our own head in a sand.

This kind of situation leads to slow death. I mean slow death because such queues suck our blood and yet we don't recognize that they in fact suck the blood to lead to slow death. They conceal themselves  and that includes "working for someone :-)"

BTW, this is not a advice for you to be like this or like that. It is just my inner voice. What i feel about myself :-) Sailing in the same boat?

28 April 2013

OpenGyan – Workshops Flow Chart

The students attending our workshops always wanted to have follow-up workshops and some of them even told us that they need one or two easy workshops at beginner level. So, we thought that it is better to have a flow of workshops targeting second year students. The idea is to get involved at early stage so that both the students and OpenGyan has ample time to cover most of the topics without compromising on the technical depth. Having in this in mind, we have come up with several streams - Linux Programming, Data Structures and Algorithms/Algorithm Design, Testing, Software Engineering, Web Programming and Soft Skills. All the streams will have three levels – Praarambh (Beginner), Madhyama (Intermediate) and Dheekshana (expert).

For example, if you get involved with OpenGyan in your second year at engineering (for a Bachelors in Engineering student) or first year in Post Graduate course (MCA, MTech, MSc) there is a high probability that you become expert in a couple of streams and you will get to know about other streams as well at a beginner level. Ideally, we feel that a student can reach to a level of expert in couple of streams (fluent with hands-on) and expert in soft skills in two to three years’ time frame.

We are also planning to have some coursework (mini-projects or online intern kind of thing) once in a semester however mini-projects/intern will be limited to few students. We are in planning phase and more updates to come within a month from now.

You may want to check out our flow chart. The online version can be found here.

As always, we would like to get your feedback and request you to spread a word.

26 April 2013

Staying Fit Away From Home

This is a guest post by Michael Manning. Michael Manning is a fitness and healthy living aficionado. You can find his writing at his new blog located at http://mikemanningmusings.blogspot.com

Summer is on its way, and for many people, that means it's time for vacation. Unfortunately, it also means that you could ruin the physique you've worked so hard to attain. It's easy to slack off on your diet and fitness routines while you're traveling. There are plenty of fun things to do and ready access to any junk food your heart desires. Furthermore, it's tempting to ditch your healthy habits using the vacation as an excuse. To avoid re-packing on the pounds, it's important to maintain your fitness routine away from home.

Plan for Fitness
When you're arranging your accommodations, try to choose a hotel that has a fitness center. On a recent trip to San Francisco I was able to book great accommodations because I did some research beforehand. I checked a travel review site where I could see all of the hotels in San Francisco and check what amenities they offered and see great reviews from people who previously stayed there. When you get up in the mornings, head straight to the fitness room and get your workout out of the way. Studies have shown that this gives you more energy and makes you more likely to make healthy food choices throughout the day. If the fitness room should get full, however, it's important to have backup. Just in case, it's recommended that you pack some minor fitness gear such as a pulse monitor and some resistance bands. With these things, you can easily work out in the comfort and privacy of your hotel room.

Choose Wisely from the Menu
Many hotels serve a continental breakfast. Depending on how you make your choices, this can be either a benefit or a burden. Without a doubt, there will be junk foods like pastries, kids' cereals, french toast and waffles. However, there will also be healthy foods that will help you maintain your fitness goals. Aim for the healthy foods so you can keep up with your diet, which will also help your energy levels for the day. For snacks and other meals, a trip to the local grocery can be helpful. Stock up on ready-made salads, nuts or fresh and dried fruit. It is important to indulge every once in a while when you are on vacation, but keeping an overall healthy diet will help you with your sleep, energy levels, and stress which will in turn make your trip much more pleasant.

Stay Hydrated
It's easy to become dehydrated during your travels. For starters, the air inside of a plane's cabin is very dry, causing you to lose water rapidly. While flying, make an effort to drink a glass of water at least every hour. It's also best to avoid dehydrating beverages like alcohol, sugar and caffeine. Once you arrive at your destination, if you spend a lot of time outside in the sun, always bring some water with you. Your metabolism and energy levels suffer when you're under-hydrated, leaving you vulnerable to weight gain and fatigue.

19 April 2013

OpenGyan - Do you like it?

May be you are heading for a weekend drive, catching up your emails or seeing this page accidentally in your timeline. Got two minutes to spare?

If so, here we go..

Having spent close to two years in OpenGyan (actually it is 5 man years, 2 guys 2 putting two years and one guy about an years' effort), we have reached a stage of self-assessment. This self-assessment is not to terminate OpenGyan but to steer it towards something meaningful. OpenGyan should not be redundant and doing things that are already done at colleges. We want to work along with colleges and try to see whether we can create a spark.

So, first thing that we did was to review all the feedback from students. Well, it sounded to us that more than 90% of the students wanted these kind of workshops again and again. The feedback from the professors are also good. All of them convey to us that they are extremely happy with the workshops.

Next, how about getting feedback from common people? If you can help us in answering these three questions, it would be great. You can answer either in the comments section here or you can email be at grabyourfreedom@gmail.com if you prefer to be confidential. The questions are
  1. Do you really like the idea of OpenGyan - going to schools to conduct workshops(kindly check our website and Facebook page for a while, would be glad if you can like us in Facebook.)
  2. If you follow OpenGyan, what is the most you like and what is the aspect that we should improve upon?
  3. Would you like to share the works of OpenGyan to people you know who can be benefited (professors and colleges students)?
Please do share your feedback.

BTW, i really like it merely because of connecting to the students. The next thing that we should focus is to go place where the students do not get exposure. Money should not be a gating factor whether or not a person get access and the interest should only be the gating factor. Let us see how it goes.

If you are looking to volunteer for some of the workshops (as trainer), please do let us know. We shall involve you when opportunities arrives.

Awesomeness - Impressive "Impress.JS"

Again, another theme. Why don't i share something on a regular basis which is awesome [Since everyone that i m an awesome guy, i promise you that i won't write about myself]. BTW, all these are something which i come across, read in web or someone met in my life.

This time, i happen to hear and try an awesome.

Impress.JS is cute Javascript that helps in creating wonderful presentations. It helps you to express wonderful ideas and by the way you must know HTML, JavaScript and CSS (or very least try to learn all these). One of the aspects of Impress.JS is that it paves way for keeping the presentation simple and so it will be really an aid (and you will have to be main thing). Without your articulation, may be your presentation deck alone will convey 10%. "Impress.JS" and "Presentation Zen" will certainly take long way. BTW, "Presentation Zen" is another awesome that will be writing shortly.

After initial play, i feel that "Impress.JS" is very promising and really cool.

Have a look at here for a short demo and here to download it.

Have a good day.

18 April 2013

Programmer who dreams in code - Inspiring

I just want to share this video to you. No words and the video speaks by itself :-) but pretty

16 April 2013

Ideas Behind Life Lessons

Whether or not you like this post, you will like the image
I m posting a series of articles with title "Life Lessons @ OpenGyan". The idea behind it is to document my journey towards something which will be a game changer in my life. OpenGyan, as you may know now, is an non-profit initiative run by couple of folks towards students' community in this part of the world who do not have enough exposure towards software engineering and they get to know only when they join a company (after being branded as non-employable).

The document helps me for two reasons.

It is going to convey to me that it is not going to be easier [though it may be simple, i doesn't mean that it is easy to do]. It helps me in a great deal to keep up the focus on the vision and values. It makes me to think why i m part of this and how much i can add to its functioning.

Second, all these experiences should give me wisdom (a big question mark) and enough strength to absorb anxiety. [I already feel that i m reasonably successful in handling the anxiety]. I see these posts as a way for self improvement and self leadership (and most importantly build some good/pleasant qualities, if that is possible :-))

15 April 2013

Life Lessons @ OpenGyan

I haven't got a chance to write about my learning at OpenGyan for a while. It is very easy to write something [for me it is even easier as i m currently reading some books and i can vomit that i learnt in my own horrible language] but i thought that it has to be a honest review/reflection. These posts should not appear as a mere "accomplishments" but rather i always felt that it has to fuel me to overcome the obstacles. In that aspect, i wanted to think and write about one of the challenges we have in OpenGyan - Word of Mouth and it is taking a while for me to think through.

As far as i understand, we stand bad in terms of Word of Mouth [read it carefully, we dont have bad mouth :-)]. Yep, we miss the masala and marketing and I should say we miss it terribly. It is good as it paves way to learn something, it paves way to be successful at something new. It is always exciting when you think it is only matter of time and keep changing the strategy and be patient until fruition. 

Our story goes like this. We were writing emails to people at colleges and there was only a little traction. Then we wanted to start a Facebook page as we thought the social media is so powerful and the traction was little more. While we were clear on what we wanted to do, we weren't quite clear on how it should be done. Blame (which is very easy) the lack of experience in marketing, sometimes we thought the things are not working out. For a while, we even thought the content was not good but time and again the participants prove that in fact the content and delivery as excellent (on an average we score close 80 on a 100 point scale). But again, we didn't cash on this feature - good feedback. We never requested participants to share it with their friends. Was it a bad decision? We thought that the participants would actually share OpenGyan's workshop with their friends but it seems like they didn't. Was it out bad reasoning and decision? May be yes. We should  change this in future.

Nevertheless, being close to heart, i feel that we have not learned the trick, holy grail or the magic it. There are few initiatives in pipeline and i feel all those will take us to next level in realizing our vision - "providing cost free workshops for students' community". The failure in marketing making us to do many things and i would be very glad to share with you once some of those are put in to action. Like you, i sincerely hope we turnaround this and continue to provide/host workshops with impact.

For all those supporters out there, a very big thank you. I shall wrap up saying, "we are here because of your support and we will live up to your expectations". Thank you again for supporting OpenGyan.

07 April 2013

On the way to "Asking Right Questions"

As a follow up to my previous post, i would like share my progress on my effort to ask right questions. So far i have read around five chapters. I already got the feeling that i should read the book again [this is the book that i m talking about. seems like 10th edition is out but i m reading 9th edition that i bought a couple years back].

First two chapters are general that talks about the benefits of asking questions and critical thinking as a social activity. I think, these two chapters are placed well which give us motivation to continue reading. I am a soft of guy who would like to work with book using exercises. First 20 pages of the book are theory and i m glad that it is small.

The real fun begins from chapter 3.

Chapter 3 talks about finding the issue and the conclusion in a speech or material. For many of us who are grown up and literate, i feel that finding the issue and conclusion is simple but yet after reading this chapter i felt i have learnt more. I got to know what are the aspects i should do while reading a material.

Chapter 4 talks about the reasons. By reading a material we wear the hat of the author and we tend to bury ourselves in his shoes or go against it (we take positions based on whether or not we buy the author's point or it could be due to our very own conditioning). We hardly find the reasons for the conclusion. This chapter gives us the process of finding "reasons". Only when we find reasons, we learn from the material. The reasons are critical for continuous learning.

Chapter 5 has some excellent material. It talks about dissecting the material given. It shows us how to find ambiguity. By ambiguity i mean anything that is hard to be believed without giving enough data points or research.

I have found examples exercises in all the chapters that hand holds us [which do provide hands-on on the topics]

More learning and more excitement. Will keep you posted on "asking right questions"