Open Source Java from Sun

If I did not make this post (although I am pretty sure you have already heard) I would not be true to my Java roots.

An Update:

Here is Rahul’s take on how an Open Source Java will change Linux (for the better).

Gaurav – “Why smart people are no longer at the big companies”

I read it first at:Why smart people are no longer at the big companies” –, Gaurav Bhatnagar.

Imagine your pet project being sidelined due to investor (Wall Street) pressures. Unfortunately, that is more common-place than you think.
From Niall Kennedy’s blog,

What do you do when the market responds to your 6 month-old online services strategy by reducing your valuation by 1.5 Yahoos? Windows Live is under some heavy change, reorganization, pullback, and general paralysis and unfortunately my ability to perform, hire, and execute was completely frozen as well.

Niall was hired by Microsoft in April this year, to create a new team around syndication technologies for Windows Live. He has decided to leave Microsoft due to what I perceive to be lack of faith in his vision for data publishing and syndication.

Interestingly, I left my first job for a Masters in Computer Science. The hope had always been that I would realise my vision and get my execution right while working towards my Masters. I found that the priorities there too are different.

The only real lesson one can draw from this is that at some point you have to stop waiting for others to believe in your vision and begin believing in it yourself.

The 5 minute WordPress installation on GoDaddy

Update: If your looking for a detailed step-by-step tutorial, head over to Mel’s page, (thanks Mel). There was also a question on which theme to use. The themes that are updated to take advantage of the wordpress platforms dynamic nature are the best. Start with the list of featured themes and try out “Connections” – Patricia Muller, or the themes by Becca Wei. Install the updated versions that the designers host on their home pages – this is if you would like to minimise your own changes to the theme.

By way of introduction, WordPress is a user-friendly, “state of the art semantic publishing platform“. My blog is currently powered by WordPress and is hosted by the folks of on their own servers. Choosing this route meant that I lost flexibility. For example, the current theme the blog is based on cannot be changed extensively. Since is hosting this blog, they have very clear and valid reasons for not allowing users to edit the internal mechanics for serving content.The other route is hosting your own blog for maximum flexibility. The requirements are easily satisfiable by most hosting providers. We had a GoDaddy basic plan to work with. Going by my previous experience with Movable Type (I tried installing a version 1.6 way back in 2002), I thought the installation would take up the entire weekend. I did some homework, and was mentally prepared to mess with the PHP internals if required.

None of that was necessary. It took me 5 minutes to install it and get it running. Disappointed? The speedy install meant that I could then focus my energy on getting the presentation right. That is what I call Great Software.

(I did have to tweak the database server location in the wordpress configuration file wp-config.php, you can get the correct location of the MySQL database for your host from your control panel. Look for the MySQL icon).
The WordPress developers are amongst the best with PHP. Their code is worth understanding. The template engine isolates the presentation well and makes manual editing of the templates simple. The blog administration interface is also usable. The interface does not require ‘building’ content if you ever decide to change the presentation. If your not interested in touching CSS/PHP/HTML, you can get a very large number of themes for the WordPress theme engine.

I was disappointed by the fact that some of the themes don’t take advantage of the dynamic capability of the WordPress framework. I had to work on those themes by hand. Of course, the blame squarely lies with the theme developer. Secondly, I could not find a way to gear WordPress to serve a custom-page by default instead of the blog page. Has anyone ever tried this?

If your interested in installing WordPress on your host, I highly recommend you do so. If you would like an invite to join the current group of blogs on, send me an e-mail and I will respond with an invite.

Great Software lets you enjoy your weekend :-).

My skills expired 21 days ago – now what?

The last 3 weeks were a great litmus test for my hacker mentality. I only recently left my day job where I was very productive and an expert in a certain area (a personal opinion) for another remarkably different position. Suddenly, the skills that I acquired and honed in my last position are no longer the skills that I need to stay afloat in my next position. I have a very direct strategy when dealing with such issues. I like to get my hands dirty and spend time learning, experiment and solicit feedback at the initial stage. The feedback could come from anyone or from anywhere, it is always welcome.

This works well – in dealing with Linux for example, where I have familiarity but not expertise at this time. Thanks to key feedback and guidance – I was able to turn the corner pretty to get simple intermediate-level tasks done. However, developing on the LAMP stack appears to be a little harder skill to acquire and might take a little longer. To summarise some lessons from the past week:

  • Stay focused on your goal and yet be patient.
  • Understanding the tools of the trade is very important.
  • Solicit guidance and feedback wherever possible.
  • Rely on your knowledge of how things work – but don't be prejudiced in your approach.
  • Feel free to experiment.

Related articles: Barcamp, Delhi

I have been thinking about how many conferences in the past year I have missed because I have been too busy being a corporate drone. Considering that I am going to be broke soon (while trying not to be a corporate drone), I hope I might have the opportunity to attend a barcamp instead! Gaurav of has announced a Barcamp in Delhi. The theme is around the “Next Generation Internet: web 2.0, mobile computing, and a lot of other cool stuff”. Since the camp is to be held on Saturday, March 4th, I am going to have to miss it. I will be in India only after April 10th. If I could help it, I would definitely not want to miss out on it. Head on over to Gaurav’s blog and read the introduction.

Great work, Gaurav, now we know the sudden silence on your blog only means your working really hard behind it.

Computer Science course books for sale

Update: I no longer have these books on me.

The following C.S. course-books:

1. Code complete. Steve McConnell. First Edition. $3.
2. J2EE Anti-Patterns. Wiley Publishers. $5.
3. Java NIO, Ron Hitchens, O’Reilly. $5.
4. Introduction to Algorithms, Cormen, Rivest, and Lieserson. Second Edition. $7.
5. Computer Architecture – a quantitative approach. Hannessey and Patterson. Second Edition. $3.
6. Data Mining. Jiawei Han and Michelle Kember. $5.
7. Distributed Systems Concepts. $5.
8. Computer Networks, Third Edition. Aaron Tanenbaum. $5.
9. Data Structures in C and C++. Aaron Tanenbaum. $5.
10. Lisp, 3rd Edition, Winston & Horn. $5.
11. The practice of programming. Kernighan & Pike. $6.
12. Java 2. Third Edition. Naughton and Schildt. $2.
13. Database System Concepts. Korth. $3.
14. Operating Systems. Milenkovic. $5.
15. Introduction to Languages and the Theory of Computation, John C. Martin, Second Edition. $2.
16. Distributed Systems Concepts and Design, Coulouris, Dollimore. Third Edition. $5.
17. Test your C++ Skills, Yashvant Kanetkar. $4.
18. Computer Networking, Kurose and Ross. $5.

All books are low-price asian editions, paperback. They have been used/marked with notes. Nothing else wrong with the books. If your interested, please send me an e-mail. I am only willing to accept cash.

Game Development in India

Business week is tracking video game development for mobile phones by Indian dev. shops. The particular game in focus will be published by Indiagames is called “Emperor Ashoka”.

Application development for mobiles has a relatively lower entry level in the software development industry, costs less but it does require expertise in art and design. In order to overcome this barrier, Indiagames enlisted the help of a UK-based shop Short Fuze. This is an interesting development. Packaging any product destined for the shelves (in this case 3G wireless operators) requires a complete spectrum of skills. Indian developers definitely have the skills to bend the rules of software development. On the other hand, there seems to be a lack of confidence in the skills that require a combination of creative and artistic talent. I find it hard to understand this lack of confidence. Indian artistic talent is held in high regard the world over.

To be fair, the publishing company want their finished product to appeal to a western audience (primarily). Hence the hiring of a UK-based art and design company. The foreign touch is very evident in the appearance and costumes of the characters and the level design. It is evident that Indiagames is sticking closely to the “Prince of Persia” model. Lets give the target market a slick looking product first. I anticipate that the company (and Indian mobile companies) are missing out on a great opportunity to begin building on the Indian mobile market first. In fact, the first few comments on the Business week forums was from a reader of Bengali who objected to the use of the form of goddess Kali in the game.
The challenges in cultivating such a market at home appears to be a lot more difficult than exporting to an already established (western) market. Is it really that difficult to get the middle-class Indian to part with his cash? If Pizza Hut, Subway and McDonalds can do it, why can’t the software industry? I have several misgivings about the fact that Indian software shops are mostly in business for foreign markets.

I appreciate the hard work Indiagames have put into this game. The game screenshots look great. I also like their thinking, they want their players to be able to play the game across platforms, on the PC, on the mobile, and even on their gaming console. It might take a while, but that is definitely innovative. To save your game on the PC and then pick it up where you left off while riding the subway – I like! They are also hoping that the exotic nature of their game will allow it to gain some mileage over the other games available to mobile phone users. Have a look at some of their existing games. I am sure “Emperor Ashoka” will match up to the high standards.

Update (6th Feb. 2006): Piracy in the Indian Gaming Industry [ContentSutra].

Mobile application development in Seattle

Saurav Chatterjee forwarded me a couple of links that might be of interest to people who are into mobile application development and live in the greater Seattle area. Medio System’s are based in Seattle, they are working hard on deploying a usable local Search service on mobile devices. They are funded by DOT EDU Ventures. The same VC has in the past funded other startups in the greater Seattle area, including Revenue Science. Mandatory link to Microsoft Windows Mobile team who are based in Redmond. A number of the folks who are involved are also members of