Category Archives: HTML5

NVP & PeepalSys bring together a panel of start-ups on building silicon valley culture in India

Nexus Venture Partners (NVP) is an early and growth stage VC fund looking at Indian start-ups going after global market esp. US as well as US companies looking to enter India. PeepalSys follows Y-Combinator model into talent recruitment space. So, when both of these put together an extremely relevant topic of bringing Silicon Valley culture into Indian companies with a panel of extremely successful technology leaders from NVP portfolio companies, it attracted a packed house in Sumant Mangalkar auditorium, MCCIA, ICC Towers, Pune.

Introduction

NVP managing director Jishnu Bhattacharjee (Linkedin profile, @b_jishnu) introduced the topic to us. He clarified that we should bring good habits of Silicon Valley culture into Indian companies and also supplement it with our own elements. Silicon Valley has proven to be a successful model for innovation with a culture fostering flexible hours, meritocracy, and rewards using stock option. NVP had made its first investment in a Pune company back in 2000 in Sigma, which worked out of Pune IT Park, Aundh. More recently, they have invested in Druva, started by ex-Veritas (later acquired by Symantec), which provides backup solutions. He introduced the panelists to us, which I will sprinkle as I describe each talk. It was followed by a presentation from all 5 panelists of 3-minutes each, before Q&A panel discussion started between Jishnu, audience on one side and the panelists on the other side.

Presentation

Abinash Tripathy from HelpShift recruits SpecialOps guy

FoosballAtHelpshiftHelpshift makes it easy to create that exceptional customer support experience in native mobile apps, transforming customers into the most passionate sales team. Abinash Tripathy (@abinashtripathy)is the founder and CEO. He led another company called Infinity Beta, a thinktank of startup ideas like Paisa.Com. He recalled that they began talking about company culture even before they began working on product, wow! He illustrated the culture of city with a picture of Pune landmarks, festival, food etc. Culture is value system of a group of individuals, in this case startup employees. He contrasted an army vs special operations team. Whereas an army has the following characteristics: a large number of individuals, hierarchy, obedience, defined roles, and uses mandated tools; the special ops team has high-potential soldiers, only a handful of them, who would use innovative tools, will generally possess high IQ and make their own decisions towards a mission. Building such a culture starts with recruiting high-potential employees. Helpshift values attitude rather than skills. They have inverted the traditional recruitment model by making it inbound. So, instead of HR or external recruitment team reaching out to many engineers, the company pages and its work act as a magnet for the kind of talent, they want. It actually scares engineers with faint heart. This way instead of spending 2 valuable days just filtering out numerous resumes, Abinash and BG are able to focus on high probable. Paisa.com did not have a careers page. Instead it was extremely well architect-ed, so an inquisitive and interested soul would examine it and find it in some HTML tag an email for this purpose. And, that would be just start of a 3-months long recruitment cycle. Everyone was surprised including the host Jishnu, when he mentioned that. He then went on to describe kinds of questions and tasks in the interview process. They look for people, who can learn new skills, they have never used before, quickly come up to speed and accomplish a fairly non-trivial task with it. Prior experience (existing skills) don’t matter to them. One such example is: Using Arduino to build a Build Process Signal, innovative, very, very innovative. So, the candidate learns its device driver and integrates continuous integration system like Jenkins with it. Please read this comment made by AB in his blog AB’s (the blog is now private) answer on Quora for “How did Helpshift hire talented developers” for unadulterated version.

If one were to walk into Helpshift’s office, it’d look like a playground with foosball, video-games, mini-gym within the office. Some objects, which all of them possessed included:

  1. Amazon Kindle: All Helpshifters are avid readers. In this digital age, when many professionals I know have moved on just snacking on Twitter, blogs for keeping up with new trends, learning new professional and life skills, it is refreshing to know that company encourages such habits among employees.
  2. Emacs: With a plethora IDEs and WYSIWG editors, plain text editors like VI( M) and emacs rule geeks like Helpshifters. I remember meeting a Symbiosis Design student working at InfinityBeta bemoaning this fact Winking smile, that he wasn’t allowed Dreamweaver or something, rather had to use emacs!
  3. Clojure: Geeks at Helpshift love functional language running atop JVM.
  4. Raspberry Pi: DIY kit for making your own computer.
  5. Bitcoin: World’s alternative currency
  6. Special interest outside of work: Be it Maths, Guitar, robotics or Mahabharata, you have got to be of high calibre in one of your hobbies, that you pursue outside of work.
  7. Continuous learning and technology eco-system involvement: [Self observation] You’d find Helpshifters at Coursera, local Emacs group etc.

Their role models included Steve jobs, Richard Stallman and 7 more, which audience could barely identify. You will find such quotes like: Real artists ship.

A software engineer at Helpshift is expected to be self-didactic, whose definition none from audience was able to specify. In jest, I say that AB inverted panel discussion by making audiences answer, while he put forth questions! I’d say the audience including me were lousy by his high standards. Coming back to the culture, at Helpshift, the software developers also act as customer support in addition to product development. This way they are aware how their code performs in the field. Recruiting and appreciating employees is quite important in such cases. Otherwise, as noted in The Five Languages of Appreciation:

  1. Lack of praise and recognition leads to low job satisfaction
  2. Lower job satisfaction leads to higher turnover
  3. Higher turnover has a negative impact on customer satisfaction.

Jonah from Indix builds a team of ants for heavy data lifting

03Jonah Stephen Jeremiah (Linkedin profile) said the mission of Indix is to store a vast amount of data and make sense of it, derive interesting inferences from it. They have over billion product prices database and a market intelligence system on top of it. They are 35-member team and have an office ready to accommodate 35 more. In parallel with the metaphor of special ops, Indix has ants, who do heavy lifting well beyond their capacities. Indix fosters transparency right from office setup having no opaque walls for managers, even meeting rooms. He did not describe his recruitment funnel from start, but somebody in advance stage spends a full day in the office before (s) he joins.

Gaurav from ScaleArc impresses candidates by its work

Gaurav took the talks further, but the panel started digressing from Silicon Valley culture to company work and their recruitment efforts (We, audience also helped this change of course, but the discussions were stimulating nonetheless, so no big regret from my side). He started by describing how external circumstances like family and society view startups in India. He described how his dad consoled him on his startup job with words: You will get a a job in big company soon! Many marriageable aged boys and girls would take up an MNC jobs to boost their attractiveness to in-laws and potential partners. <Self observation> Many fresh graduates themselves seem to take a startup job as last resort after having been rejected by MNC, as a stepping stone to MNC. They screw up the startup and don’t give their 100% to their current employer. Instead prepare for interviews or MBA’s. On the other side, many MNC engineers will tell startups that they need higher salaries, because they are compromising on the brand of their company by coming to your startup </Self Observation>. The way ScaleArc would approach recruitment would be making founder accessible to the potential candidate, describing the great work they are doing, which the candidate should be able to fathom being technically adept herself/himself. Then, they would talk about the kind of clients using it already – likes of Flipkart, Microsoft, Kixeye (Zynga’s competitor), which would put any arguments to rest.

Ankit Pruthi from Unicommerce looks for ethical hacker

Unicommerce looks for ethical hackers, who is an equivalent of 100 programmers. With a team of 4 developers, they are managing a large scale SAAS order fulfillment system, being used by 1000 concurrent users, for 40 warehouses to ship 50K products everyday across India (Snapdeal, Jabong), SouthEast Asia (Lazada), even Pakistan and Canada. Ankit, the youngest panellist at 26 years of age talked about the custom scripting language they have created to help customers come up to speed quickly on their product.

Atul Phadnis of WhatsOn India builds a cross-functional team without silos

WhatsOn was ably presented by Atul Phadnis as a company, who are further along in their startup journey than rest of panelists. That POV (point of view) gave a glimpse of what you’d do, when you go beyond 30-70’s in employee strength. He was visibly proud of having hired best talents from large companies, two in recent past from Airtel and another one, I don’t remember. He spoke of the high energy atmosphere within the company, which was observed by potential recruits to be a reason for the same. I really liked the fact that he democratically chose an office inside or very near mall in Worli, which many companies are shy of doing lest their employees get distracted. He spoke of a road-show in bay area, where WhatsOn showcased their technical prowess to equally competent silicon Valley crowd and got nod for good work. He also talked about expanding his company to South East (Indonesia) and Middle East (Jordan) Asia and integrating them into WhatsOn culture, very mature POV coming from him.

Q & A

It became more interactive towards latter half by design. I’d leave that for a new blog post in future.

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Mobile and Social enterprise

Taking your Enterprise Mobile is no longer an option, but a necessity

Mobile adoption is increasing in industries – healthcare, construction, govt. Field workers can download a part of workflow offline. When reconnected, it’d synchronize with the backend application. CIO

  • 77% plan to use personal devices to access company data and applications.
  • Deploy more than 25 mobility apps in next 2 years.

Mobile enterprise strategy

  1. Build and Connect: Connect to and run backend systems in support of mobile
  2. Manage and Secure: Mobile Devices, services and applications
  3. Extend and Transform: Existing business capabilities need to be extended to mobile devices. Also, create new opportunities to transform the business

Technology backbone

The priority needs to be decided for targeting mobile OS. If it is primarily smartphone devices, a technology like Phonegap can be used to reuse code across iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows phone 8 OS. The technology should be able to support:

  • Social networking,
  • smarter commerce, and
  • analytics.

Sometimes you need to look at the support for feature phones in addition to smartphones. The analytics piece mentioned above, allows developer to track the mobile experience. It also means automatically detect customer struggles, obstacles, or issues. It should enable us to drill down into actual user behavior.

Business Continuity with unreliable networks

The solution should enable companies to connect a distributed system (like point of sales or the sales force’s mobile devices) to a centralized database even though the network infrastructure is unreliable, a common challenge in India. The solution also should provide a cost-effective way to automate highly distributed business processes leveraging remote knowledge workers by replacing heavy web/app servers with lighter client apps.

Build and Connect innovative apps and interactive experiences

Background: There are going to be 10B devices by 2020. 61% CIOs put priority on mobile 45% say that they can achieve increased productivity with mobile apps according to a report by IBM.

It will find its way B2E, B2C applications in different industries like – Retail, Financial services, Distribution according to 2011 IBM tech trends report. It also mentions top mobile adoption concerns. Increasing trend that we are going to witness is BYOD (Bring your Own Device). There will be 200m BYOD soon. My employer Justdial has rolled out Ambassador program, which empowers employees to take our enterprise software on Ipad with 3G connection, wireless Logitec keyboard.

The increasing number of operating systems as well as the mix of devices, form factors and standards has turned native application development into a cost-prohibitive strategy, resulting in a growing market of cross-platform solutions and mobile development tools, like Phonegap and IBM Worklight. It provides device application programming interface (API) using JavaScript.  So, one can use HTML5, CSS4 and JavaSscript libraries like dojox.mobile, Sencha Touch, jQuery Mobile. There a provision for Server – push notification, version management, security, integration. APN (Apple Push Server), Google Push Servers (GCN, formerly C2DM), RIM Push Server, Microsoft Push Server

Social Communication

Focus for enterprise unified communication has shifted from reach to relevance. Messaging tools need to provide real-time translation across languages, and IM lingo as well. Soft phones are in vogue, as they use broadband removing voice costs and have better integration on applications. This can be extended to customer interaction as well. The following are components:

  1. Voice
  2. Meetings
  3. Video
  4. Mobile
  5. Instant Messaging
  6. Social
  7. Call Management

There are going to be 1b smartphones by 2016. Do you need more reasons to focus on enterprise mobility.

SAP, Database, ERP et al

Keynote

Asian paint case study – 5k employees, 30k shops. Android platform. ERP platform.

Successfactors – As big and as old a SAAS company as Salesforce. 15m users. 3500 customers >10 yrs in cloud.

Indus SAP user group – Manish Choksi, CIO Asian Paints Ltd. is the chairman. SIG on BI, industry auto, pharma launching soon, platform. Partner summit.

Steve Lucas – Executive VP & GM, DB & Technology. sap.com/rds Rapid deployment Service improves time for SAP deployment.

Paradigm shift: 85B apps in 2016. 8B population. Big data, real time, predictive. 7.5 ZB 90% video.

SAP visual intelligence has been inspired by Tablaeu in an open admission by Steve. Explore it on microsite.

Social mobile panel

Niraj Athalye. Neelam Dhawan (HP)

Sentiment analysis, intention. Asian Painting will help consumer find the right painting contractor with the help of friends. People as media – socialcasting. Personalization of software.

Analytics

Decision revolution – inform, align, adapt.

BI, EPM, GRC

  • Query & reporting
  • Dashboards
  • Data Discovery
  • Predictive analysis

3d model from right hemisphere acquisition integrated into analytics. @atul_sap

Ashok leyland

Venkatesh. Building information culture by leveraging BI. Sap ECC, dealer business management. SAP is used in all joint ventures for collaboration and monitoring as well. Business analytics is a subset of BI. SIAM competitive data, and Commodity price of steel, benchmark. Business insights. IT maturity: supplier, enabled, IT led organization. Hubble telescope into business operations and performance.

Information maturity path 

  1. Data analysis
  2. Information
  3. Performance
  4. Predictive

BA maturity

Data mashup

Access control

BI obesity

VmWare

Infrastructure efficiency, simpler management,  built-in availability, greater agility

NIC HBA teaming

Web application framework

Product Front End Back end Database Others
Twitter Ruby on Rails (RoR), JavaScript, jQuery
LabJS, Modernizr, JSON-P, oEmbed
Scala Cassandra Java, C, Python, Mustache templating language
Facebook PHP, XHP, Hiphop for PHP, JavaScript C, C++, Java Cassandra, MySQL Python, Erlang
LinkedIn JSP, Apache Coyote Web Server Spring MVC, Linkedin spring, grails, Oracle and MySQL ActiveMQ for JMS, Lucene as a foundation for search, DWR, Jetty, Eh-cache, Quartz, Spring remoting.
YahooMail HTML, CSS, JavaScript (with YUI 3) PHP MySQL Apache Traffic Server (formely known as Yahoo! Traffic Server).
Google + Closure framework, including Closure’s JavaScript compiler and template system, HTML5 History API Closure templates server-side, C++, Java, or Python BigTable and Colossus/GFS MapReduce
FourSquare scala(lift framework) scalaAmazon S3 for hosting, /img/ folder which is served by nginx directly MongoDB load balancer(s): nginx/0.8.52Lift- A web framework written in scala.
Youtube Python psyco, a dynamic python->C compiler MySQL
Quora Python and JavaScript LiveNode/webnode2, Thrift (Communicate to backend)Amazon EC2 and S3 for hosting MySQL + memcached C++
Load Balancing: nginx in front of HAProxy
Viddler PHP, Python Rails 2.x, ffmpeg/mencoder/x264lib, Java 1.6 / Spring / Hibernate / ehcache, ErlangAmazon EC2 and S3 for hosting Mysql 5.0 Hadoop HDFS (distributed video source storage)
Nginx/Keepalived (Load balancers for all web traffic)
Wowza (RTMP video recording server)
Mediainfo(reporting video metadata)
Yamdi (metadata injector for flash videos)
Puppet(configuration management)
Logcheck(log scanning)
Duplicity(backup)
StackOverFlow jQuery, ASP .NET C#, Microsoft ASP.NET (version 4.0), ASP.NET MVC 3, Razor. LINQ to SQL, some raw SQL HAProxy (for load balancing), Bacula(for backup), Redis(caching layer)
Disqus jQuery,EasyXDM, Sammy, Flot, Raphaël, JSHint Python scripts, Django, Celery, South PostgreSQL, memcached HAProxy + heartbeat (Load balancing)

In Short..

Database Distribution

Backend Technology Distribution

Sencha Touch 2 tutorial

Introduction

Sencha 2 is a mobile framework. It is a big leap from version 1. It includes a nifty code- generation tool, a handy build tool, which minifies JavaScript, CSS and even generates native iOS and Android applications.

Live demo

Creates a basic folder structure of a Sencha mobile app. For detailed command overview, read the documentation.

$sencha create

Since a mobile app does’t have a domain, under whose context it runs, cross-domain security restrictions (aka same origin policy) don’t apply. For testing purposes in a desktop browser, you need to open browser with security disabled. For Chrome,

$open Chrome -args disable security

Code browsing

IDE: Webstorm -paid tool, but a good one for JavaScript and HTML5  development. Now, let’s go through the generated code. Aptana is a good free alternative, which is Eclipse based.

Microloader

App.js – launch

Main.js

Home.js – 40 icons built-in Ext.panel

HTML

Stylehtmlcls

Use config, less property, more method n events

Places.

Model in storage should be full class hierarchy – learnt it the hard way.

The company behind this framework is 12 years old doing JavaScript. So that shows in their advanced usage. It also gives confidence in the framework being a delight for advanced JavaScript developers. Let’s proceed with our Places demo app.

Details view

PlacesContainer

Newbie tip: Refresh and test in js coding. That way you can view impact of code changes immediately. If you make too many changes and something screws up, it is hard to get back to correct state without losing substantial work.

Advanced features

Theme is supported in sass file.

Dragging support is available in the framework itself. For charting, Sencha provides a mobile-friendly framework.

Some gotchas

Sencha does not work with ICS because of webkit bug. Hopefully, it should be fixed in Android 4.1. It works ok, but sub-par in 2.2 and 2.3. On iOS platform, it is having some issues with certificate-signing, which should be fixed in next release coming out next quarter. Till then, Phonegap is the goto method for compiling into native IPA and APK files for submission into Apple AppStore and Android Play.

Digressions

We talked about the latest app acquisition, instagram at an astronomical valuation by Facebook. As a hobby project, if one wants to build an MVP (Minimum Viable Product), Amazon EC2 will cost Rs 4,000 per month, which is costly. So there is a need of product, which provide service at usage, like  the following:

  1. Kinvey
  2. Parse
  3. Stackmob
  4. Onelineserver – Can somebody point out correct name?
  5. Limning – Can somebody point out correct name?

Talking of GoMo (Go Mobile) products , there is a service mooveup (Can somebody point out correct name?), which can crawl an old desktop site and produce a mobile- friendly site on the go.  time to start building decent mobile apps in the hottest area, LBS.

Links

Facebook is down at 1:03PM IST

[Update: Facebook Architecture links added]

  1. Quora link on Facebook architecture
  2. Facebook‘s Github page – Hiphop PHP to C++ compiler, memcached, cassandra
  3. Facebook OpensourceApache Hive,
  4. Facebook Engineering FB page
Facebook website is down image

Facebook website is down image

Yes, it is true. Facebook, which if considered a country is the 7th most populous one, is down. The following message appears on the site:

Sorry, an error has occurred.

We’re working on getting this fixed as soon as we can.

Facebook logo Last time, there was an outage on July 2007 for 1 and 1/2 hours. Last week, there were a lot of phishing attacks, like Areps.at.