Neend nahi aati?

My friend sent me this one. The shayari (urdu for couplet) is from the movie Fanaa. I thought I would share it with those who understand Hindi and appreciate shayari.

“Kahte hain Ishq mein neend udh jaati hai………koi humse bhi ishq kare… kambhakt neend bahut aati hai!”

Web application testing tools

Automation of basic tasks is important – work smart and efficient. I am trying out Watir (pronounced water) for web application testing. Watir stands for "web application testing in Ruby". Watir was recommended to me by two other sr. technologists (thanks Anjali and Nikhil).

Why do I think it is the killerest? Watir is a test framework written in Ruby. The test scripts are also required to be written in Ruby. The idea is to instantiate an instance of Internet Explorer at the start of your script. The test script is given a handle to the browser. A programmer can then use the handle to script in input to the browser and validate and verify the output. Under the hood, this is accomplished by directly manipulating Internet Explorer using DOM. This is similar to how javascript manipulates the DOM through IE.

The advantages are many. I wrote my first (dead simple) script within 15 to 30 minutes. This way, I can also avoid any harness-specific issues. I also avoid the "recording" phase. My tests scripts are already parameterizable, since they are written in a programming language.

What does it lack? Anyone heard of firefox and linux? I cannot run Watir of a Linux/POSIX box as it stands today. I am already thinking of extending Ruby to provide handles for SOAP, LDAP and other application protocols. I am not sure how easy or hard that would be.

To what can I compare it? I tried to first pick up on Apache JMeter. I ran into two problems. Firstly, a lack of simplified documentation to get me started with writing a simple test script. Have a look at the first page of "Building a test plan" in the JMeter user manual. The second is subjective – I felt the interface to compose a test "story" (If I may call it that) was not intuitive. Nevertheless, people who do know JMeter will swear by it for automation of functional as well as performance testing.

My research is far from complete. Yet, I will bet my money on writing scripts in a language rather than through a point and click user interface. Power over usability. This also implies that I will have to first gain expertise in Ruby to get anywhere near exploiting Watir to the hilt. Later, I could try and peek into JMeter's internals to see if scripts can be written in the native language with little learning other than knowledge of Java.


Update: Also have a look at the Selenium IDE. Selenium is similar to Watir but automates the process of script creation through point and click. So the choice of power or usability is really up to you. An advantage is, Selenium will work on Linux/POSIX and Mac OSX. Selenium is built and supported by Thoughtworks.

Don’t you just love the information age?

Original Article: "Is Print Doomed?" – Fast Company.

A great read for those out there who are building a new economy around information, content and media. The debate presents two opposing points of view.

The first is the top-down point of view. John Griffin firmly believes that the average joe will still look to brands for reliable information.

The second is the bottom-up point of view. Jeff Jarvis believes that information will originate from the crowds.

Here are two additional references that might interest you, "herd behaviour" – and "The Wisdom of Crowds" again on I am very interested in how the crowd can be kept wise through the introduction of a subtle structure. For example, does this by "suggesting" tags that will help the community build social bookmarking.

There are examples where I believe the crowd has failed to stay wise, or its wisdom has been compromised. For those who don't know what is, Digg is the new Slashdot. You can suggest a story and the community (instead of a team of editors) will decide if the story is going to get anywhere. I thought this was a smart way to capture social sharing of references. However, I believe Digg lacks structure. As a result, Digg's programming section is unfairly skewed towards web programming. Also, at one point of time, the crowd mentality was to continually suggest articles that talked about how Ruby was going to beat other web programming platforms.

Give us your best pitch

“We know that it can be really scary to quit your job at an average company doing average work just because you know that if you stay, you’ll end up just like them.

Which is why it’s such a great opportunity!” – Seth Godin, (originally seen on

If you believe that you’re the hottest technical stuff around and possess the perquisite startup DNA we want to hear from you.

If you are in Pune, do stop by. We are located just off Senapati Bapat road. Or just send us an email at connect at bookeazy dot com. The two new positions are described on BookEazy’s hiring page.

BookEazy Technologies Private Limited is a young high-energy technology startup based in Pune, India. We’re a team of ambitious people with a vision to create intuitive, zero-effort consumer-facing technology that blends with the psyche of the Indian consumer.

Barcamp Pune revealed

Is Pune the one? Can Pune be amongst the best cities in India to incubate a start-up? Will there be enough talent to tap into? Is there a culture that promotes innovation? My experience at Barcamp Pune has set my mind at ease. I am now confident that over time, I will win my bet on Pune after all. The unconference conference was replete with smart technologists and business people heading start-ups in the area. The speakers were more than willing to expose their products and ideas to everyone at the unconference for feedback.

Webaroo is an attempt to solve the problem of offline search for mobile users (laptops/mobile phones). The solution is to carry a “slice of the web with you all the time”. Webaroo is free for download and use. On installing their application and webpack, you can search as well as access the sites offered by the webpack for free. You also don’t get any advertisements with the application.

Most of the questions posted centered around the format of the webpacks. If I understood correctly, the format and the API to access the webpacks are both currently proprietary. This I think is a big mistake. One of their webpacks is offline. Wikipedia is covered by the GNU Free Documentation License. I believe that Webaroo cannot legally re-package Wikipedia content and distribute it as a webpack since they disallow further sharing and redistribution of the content.

I hope they have an answer. Webaroo is part of the IIT Powai, incubation effort. Of the innovative start-up talks that attended the Barcamp, they were the closest to having a serious, complete and viable model.

Patangs project carpool. Save the kittens and the baby seals, my housemate and I decided! This was over some tipsy light-hearted conversation. I sold my (mini) SUV subsequently. Patang (Siddharth Shah) has also sold his car. Patang’s solution deserves a mention because of the spirit behind his project. In his own words, Patang’s Project carpool is aimed at those who lament about the oil crisis, and the loss of foot paths (to bigger cars). The project carpool is an AJAX-based mash-up of the Google maps and a light web application that allows you to team up with registered car pools that follow your route.

The toughest question was from a gentleman up-front who asked, and I paraphrase – “When do you think the oil problem will go away?”, Patang replies – “probably in twenty years, when we run out of oil”!

Pune has a steady supply of smart nerds. The city also has a unique personality, history, and youth. But what about the funds? Of the 5 start-ups I heard talk today (there were more), none of them had issues securing angel-level funds. At a later stage, getting venture capital funds could get harder. For instance, Paul Graham writes that VC’s prefer to fund companies less than an hour’s drive away. Perhaps that is beginning to change. At least one services company in the area has secured serious venture capital funding. The VC’s were located in London if I recall correctly. Pune also has that special sauce. One of the most famous services companies started in Pune – Persistent Systems, can trace back its roots to Kirloskar Pneumatics. Kirloskar was also partially incubated in Pune in the 1960’s. Organically, is exactly how the entrepreneural bug propagates.

Sometimes, I hate Pune too. There are things about Pune – bureaucracy, buildings, roads, traffic and electricity – the less said about them the better. The 4 km long fly-over on University road is going to take more than 3 years to complete, too long by any yardstick. On my way to the Barcamp, I drove past a motor-cyclist who was knocked down by a bus on the far side of the highway. He was hurt very seriously and had not received medical attention. Some traffic cops in the distance were not really doing anything about the situation. He was being helped by some students who were on the bus. It was an unfortunate incident, also a common-place one.

Most Puneites have grown insensitive to these issues. No one slows down when the trafic lights turn orange. I get honked at even if were to slow down at orange or follow other traffic rules. Thankfully, the conscientious lot are working against changing that.

What about competition? The reader familiar with the area will note that I have (conveniently) clubbed Pune – Mumbai together in the for most of this post. I think of the two cities as having interlocked destinies. Pune does depend on the commerce (and airport) of Mumbai and vice versa. The Mumbai-Pune expressway is a good example of the synergy between the two cities.

Smart nerds don’t enjoy living in Mumbai or in Los Angeles for that matter. Most complaints center around the hour-long commutes, the impersonal nature of the urban crowds and the cost of living or renting there. A 26 year old executive ranted to me once “If you don’t have money, in Mumbai your no more than a commoner. No one will want to know your name or who you are.” – I believe that to be very true of any big city. So the deal is, Mumbai can keep the real money, while Pune can keep the smart talent. That arrangement is fine by me.

Barcamps provide the best forums for innovative start-ups to come out and display their products and solicit feedback. It was disappointing to see that the Barcamp attendance was limited to 150 people. As time flies by, some of these start-ups might wilt and die due to changing trends. I am confident that the spirit will remain.

Other startups/technology companies at Barcamp Pune, and references:

All things distributed: Growing (up) is hard

Werner hints that Amazon guarantees performance and availability while scaling up to handle exponential growth in data-sets and user requests successfully. He also asserts that the techniques have remained a dark art.

I don't agree with the second part. There are many out there that beat the same problem (I had the good fortune of working with one such company). Those who have won have solved the problem by creating a solution that is tailored to their context in conjunction with well known techniques for scaling and redundancy. Everyone has to start someplace, I recommend – "Programming Pearls" by Jon Bentley.

"Growing up is hard" – Werner Vogels on All things distributed.

To those who still read this blog. I am growing (up) and this blog is beginning to suffer. I am working on fixing that problem (not the part where I am growing 😉 ). Until then, thanks for stopping by.

A startups balance sheet

Original Article: "Info Edge sets apart Rs. 30 crore for acquisitions" –

Someone has uploaded the financials of on ContentSutra. I am definitely interested in the personnel expenses for 2002. Their personnel expenses matched their administrative expenses and other costs of running the company in that period. Thereafter, the administrative costs outpaced the personnel expenses in 2004. Both categories grew at a rapid (almost) exponential clip. I am not sure why? The nature of the business is that of a jobs portal, I would think that people and not administration would be the greatest capital expense.

The IPO itself is going to be an interesting one to watch. This is the vanguard of Indian Internet classifieds companies. Their choices, performance and image will set the tone for subsequent IPO's. Their draft prospectus also tells me that they are making a lot lower than what they ought to. Their net profits at the end of March, 2006 was $3 million. This of course pales in comparision to Google who were already making a net profit of $100 million+ at IPO., a more mature and larger job portal – does $100 million annually (correct me if I am wrong) as I write. Closer to home, Jobstreet have posted a net profit of $4.5 million for 2006.

Related Links:

Don’t quote me

Learn to listen, opportunity often knocks softly.” – unknown author.

Saturday (yesterday) was without doubt the strangest day ever. On the same day I met and spoke to at least 4 Bishop’s alum from the same batch as me. They all got in touch with me through different channels. Looks like the Universe has conspired to knock my door down. For those from Bishops, join bishopites at There are also two communities on dedicated to Bishop’s school Pune. The best part is, I did not meet any of them through either channel.

There is also a community dedicated to Prof. Moogat. Seriously!