Yearly Archives: 2010

Why has the PuneTech website been changing so frequently?

Regular visitors to would have noticed that the website has been undergoing major upheavals in recent times. This article gives you an idea of what is going on behind the scenes. This article is not directly related to tech in Pune, so busier readers should feel free to skip this article.

But before I get into the details of what’s going on, I should point out: If you have noticed that the website has been changing frequently, you are doing it wrong. You should not be visiting the website. You should instead subscribe to PuneTech via RSS or by email. Why? Because that ensures that you’ll never miss a post, and for us, the benefit is that we get a “loyal reader” rather than just another “monthly unique visitor.” We value the loyal readers more.

So, what’s going on with the website?

Basically, for the last few months, the PuneTech website has been consuming too much CPU, more than the acceptable use allowed by the shared host. It’s in danger of being kicked out, and the problem needs to be identified and fixed. That’s why you’re seeing all the changes on the site.

Technical details: Many people were surprised to see the “default” wordpress theme on the PuneTech website, and some also wondered whether we had migrated PuneTech to wordpress. Actually, since the first day (almost 3 years ago), has always been on wordpress. Over time, we’ve had a bunch of wordpress themes (which allow us to change the look-n-feel of the site while keeping the underlying software the same), which made the site look like a magazine or something else. One of the themes was a freely downloaded theme from the internet, while the others were all hand-crafted by me.

Anyway, to see if we could fix the performance problems, we tried the following:

  • Use various DEBUG plugins on wordpress to see if any specific query/queries were taking up too much time. Doesn’t appear to be so.
  • Disable all plugins to see if any plugin was causing the problem. That’s the first time you might have seen some functionality disappear from the website. Nope – the problem still remained.
  • Turn off the “tag cloud”. That did not help either.
  • Replace the latest theme with an older theme to see if the theme had some code that was causing the problem. Again, that did not help.
  • Delete the entire installation and do a fresh install – this was to ensure that there was no malware that got into the site somehow. Apparently not.
  • Replace the older theme with the wordpress default theme – this pretty much guarantees that we haven’t done anything to screw the site up. This is the reason why you’re currently seeing the wordpress default theme.

Our host Rochen has been very supportive throughout the process, and they’re pretty solid (I host a lot of other sites with them, some with higher traffic), so I’m pretty sure the problem isn’t at their end.

Why bother with all this? Shouldn’t I simply opt for a higher plan with more CPU and forget about the whole thing? The geek in me doesn’t allow me to do that. For one, I can’t believe that a small site like PuneTech can/should cause this much CPU usage. Second, I can’t give up without finding the root cause of the problem.

Hence, I’m still experimenting. So, apologies as some of the things will randomly stop working. The site might keep changing. But, the flow of article RSS feed and the daily email will continue. Thanks for listening…

How to get your event promoted on PuneTech

The PuneTech calendar is the most comprehensive source of information about tech events happening in Pune. And, with a large focused readership, PuneTech is a great way to provide publicity to your event. In this post, we provide guidelines on how to get your event promoted on PuneTech.

There are two different ways in which an event can be promoted on PuneTech. The first is to get listed in the PuneTech calendar. This is easy, and anybody can do it. The second is to get listed on the PuneTech main page. This is more difficult, and is subject to selection by PuneTech editors. Details on how to submit your event for these two listings is given below.

Adding an event to the PuneTech Calendar

To add an event to the PuneTech Calendar, follow these steps:

  • Add your event to Yahoo Upcoming. To do this, click on this link and then fill out the form in as much detail as possible.
  • Note: you will need to sign in using your yahoo ID. If you don’t have a yahoo ID, you’ll have to create one.
  • Don’t forget to indicate whether the event is free or paid.
  • If registration or RSVP is required for the event, please include information about how to do that. If no registration is required, please say so explicitly. (Otherwise we get mails from people asking us how to register for the event.)
  • Remember to click “Preview Event”, followed by “Submit”.
  • After the event has been created, send us the link via email to and we’ll add it to the PuneTech calendar.


  • The event must be in Pune, and must be a technology event. (We sometimes relax this condition if we feel that enough of our readers might be interested.)
  • The event must be a real, physical, offline event. No webinars/webcasts or other online events
  • Did we mention that the event must be in Pune? No Mumbai/Hyderabad events. (Yes, we routinely reject requests to list events from other cities.)
  • Listing of paid events/trainings is allowed, but only if the price is clearly indicated.

Remember to send an email to with the link after you’re done.

Featuring your event on the PuneTech main page

Events that we find particularly interesting are posted to the PuneTech main page. This gives much wider coverage to the event. In addition to being seen by all the visitors to the website, it also goes automatically to the 2500 “subscribers” of PuneTech who get the latest PuneTech news via RSS or email. It also shows up on and is sent to the @punetech twitter account.

To get your event promoted to the main page, you need to first add it to the PuneTech calendar (by following instructions in the previous section), and then send us an email suggesting that we promote it to our main page. Here are the rules:

  • Only free events or events that charge a nominal fee are considered for inclusion on the main page. Specifically, any event that charges more than Rs. 1000 is definitely not promoted. Events charging less might be considered, based on interestingness of the event.
  • Adding the event to the PuneTech Calendar with all details filled out properly significantly improves your chances of being promoted. You could try sending us an email with just the event details, but without adding it to the PuneTech Calendar. But that significantly increases the time and effort required on our part to add the event. And then, since we’re doing this in our free time, for free, we might or might not get around to it depending upon how busy we are.
  • Please make sure that the “Description” is filled in detail using plain text. Just a link to an image or a PDF is not good enough. (We can’t cut-n-paste text from images, and we’ll probably not feature events for which we cannot give a good text description.)
  • Promotion to the main page is based on various subjective criteria, including “interestingness”. There are no guarantees. You sends us an email, and you takes your chances.

Suggestions/comments/feedback? Let us know in the comments below.

5 Tech Events in Pune this Saturday (this is no longer surprising)

There are five tech events in Pune this Saturday. ClubHack (security), DocType HTML5 (html5/css3), POCC Networking Event (startups), PLUG monthly meet (Linux), and ACM Pune Event (Indiana University pitch). In the past, this would have been cause for celebrations – but it is no longer surprising. We now regularly have days that are full of tech events. November 19 and November 12 both had 5 events each.

About 2-1/2 years ago, when PuneTech and Pune Open Coffee Club were started, we used to worry about scheduling an event on a day when there was already another event on the same day. We would get vaguely uncomfortable if a POCC meeting was scheduled on the same day as a PLUG monthly meet – why force Pune techies to choose between two events? In those days, we had the luxury of thinking like this, because, on an average, there would be 3 or 4 tech events in a whole month!

How things changed. In the last 3 weeks alone, there have been 21 interesting events in Pune that we know about (I’m sure there were more). The tech community is thriving. There is so much to choose from. And yet, if we take into account the population of tech professionals and students in Pune, so much more could be done. Maybe we don’t need more events, but we can definitely do with more participation.

What we need to do:

  • Be more aware of what events are happening. In The PuneTech Calendar we try to list all the events we find out about. We don’t necessarily feature all of them in the PuneTech blog (i.e. in the daily email that you receive). So if you want to be informed of all the events, you need to separately subscribe to the events rss feed or email subscription.
  • Get more people to attend events. Spread the word. Encourage your friends to attend.
  • Start “doing” things in events, in stead of just “attending” and “listening”. We have such a thriving community – we should harness the spirit to start creating things. Maybe we can create websites that help the community, or the city. Maybe we can create interesting services. Maybe we can write mobile apps. Ideas are welcome.

In any case, check out the list of events. There’s a Rails Meetup today (but you’ll probably not be able to attend because they’re already full and have a waiting list of people wanting to get in). On Saturday, Bruce Schneier, renowned security expert will be at ClubHack (in addition to all the other speakers). has collected together a bunch of experts in HTML5 to tell us why HTML5/CSS3 will take over the world. Pune Linux Users Group will be planning GNUnify, one of the biggest open source events in India, which will happen in Pune in February. And Dr. Bobby Schnabel, Dean of the School of Informatics at Indiana University, USA, will tell us about the crucially important and stimulating challenges that lie before us in the areas of computing and information technology.

It’s a good time to be a techie in Pune…

DocType HTML5 – Free 1-day conference on html5/css in Pune – Dec 4

DocType HTML5 is a one day conference on HTML5, CSS3 and related technologies. This is a free, technology-focused event aimed at helping folks get started with HTML5 as a rich application platform.

DocType HTML5 will be held in Pune this Saturday, December 4, from 9am to 6pm, at COEP (College of Engineering, Pune).

This is a free event, and anybody can attend. You need to register here

The first edition of DocType HTML5 was in Bangalore on October 9. A full report of that edition is available here. That should give you an idea of what the conference is about. The schedule and list of speakers for the Pune event haven’t yet been finalized, but the talks are likely to be similar. Each edition has a different set of speakers and is customized around the interests of participants. After you register, you will be asked to pick the topics you’re interested in. They will customize the sessions and find subject matter experts based on your choices.

About the Organizers –

DocType HTML5 is organized by HasGeek, a new initiative focused on creating high quality community-driven technology events.

HasGeek was created by Kiran Jonnalagadda after he realized that technology events “by the community” could be improved significantly if someone else were to take over the job of logistics and of finding sponsorships. That way, the community could focus on the content. This is what HasGeek does. It is a private company that organizes the DocType HTML5 conference in various cities (and will presumably start organizing other tech conferences in the future). The conferences are free for anybody to attend, and HasGeek takes care of the logistics (venue, lunch, tea/coffee, registration) and getting enough sponsorships to pay for all of that.

What I really like about HasGeek is the professional way in which the it appears to be run. Poke around on the HasGeek wiki to understand what I mean. See the detailed updates on the feedback received from previous conferences. Look up the conference router project.

What should you do

If you would like to attend, register here.

If you would like to be a speaker get in touch with Kiran at

Overview of mobile products/services startup Omni-Bridge – makers of Pune’s TraffiCop system

If you’ve been paying attention, you no doubt have seen the newspaper articles about the fact that Pune Traffic Police have been using BlackBerrys to instantly look up information about traffic offenders via the internet. This project has been done by a small Pune startup called Omni-Bridge, and a few months back, PuneTech caught up with founders Amit Shitole and Pritam Hasabnis and found that they have a story that many other tech startups will find interesting.

Like many other tech startups in Pune, Omni-Bridge is a startup that wants to really have their own products, but since that takes a lot of time and investment, they started off doing services in their area of expertise, and slowly started using the revenues from services to fund their product business. Their core expertise is in building mobile apps (mainly BlackBerry, and Symbian, but now branching into Android and iPhone too) for their customers (which are other product companies). They are now building their own mobile apps to market and sell using AppStores/marketplaces.

About Trafficop

This is a product developed by Omni-Bridge Systems which essentially involves digitization of vehicle & license holder’s data, traffic police records and putting them on a server so that it’s accessible from internet, and then building a BlackBerry app that can access the server from anywhere. The idea is that each officer will carry a BlackBerry with him/her and when booking someone for a traffic violation uses the BlackBerry it to instantly look up the records to see if the offender has committed any traffic violations in the past.

Usually, when I see newspaper reports that giddily announce the use of some fancy technology by some government body in India, I am very sceptical. My general impression is that these are usually projects that somebody is using to get visibility or to appear cool, but when you really check, you’ll find that nobody is really using the system.

Due to this scepticism, I approached a few traffic constables and officers (at different times and places) and asked them about Trafficop system. I was surprised (and happy) to find out that:

  • The system is actually being used on a day-to-day basis,
  • The rank-and-file are actually happy with the system, and even impressed with it,
  • The system has been useful in actually catching criminals – once constable told me about how a routine traffic violation stop resulted in them finding out that the vehicle was wanted in connection with a robbery from a few years ago.

Everything hasn’t gone according to plan. Not enough BlackBerrys were procured to give one to every officer, but that hasn’t stopped them from using the system. Those who don’t have BlackBerrys still go and enter all the information into the system at the end of the day when they get to the office.

How to approach a government body as a customer

I asked Omni-Bridge whether it was easy or difficult to deal with the traffic police department, and how did they even approach them. There I found another interesting story that would be instructive to Pune Start-ups.

Omni-Bridge did not approach the Traffic Police directly. Instead they first went to the Science and Technology Park (STP). STP is a central government body, housed in University of Pune, whose mission is to help out science and technology start-ups that can help India in some way. (We will write a more detailed article about STP, hopefully sometime soon.)

So, STP helped Omni-Bridge approach Pune Traffic Police. And one of the advantages of working with STP is that since STP is a government body, other government bodies trust it more than if a start-up were to directly approach them. In this respect, Omni-Bridge found their relationship with STP very helpful.

As for actually working with the traffic police department, they found that the officials there were quite helpful, and worked with them to define and fine-tune the product. Specifically, they found, DCP Manoj Patil and PI Surendranath Deshmukh to be knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the whole process.

I think the takeaway message for Pune start-ups is that they shouldn’t shy away from considering government bodies as customers, and they should approach the STP for help.

Right now Trafficop is being used in Pune, and a subset of their software is being used in Bangalore. After the success of the Pune program, Omni-Bridge hopes to be able to convince a bunch of other cities to go for it.

About balancing services and products

Many start-ups have the idea of using services to bootstrap their product businesses, and I have not seen too many successful examples of that model. Persistent, which did have hopes of doing this has not managed to pull this off so far. GSLab, after 5 years of doing services, is now in the market with their own product kPoint – whether they’ll succeed remains to be seen. The biggest success in ootstrapping a product company through a services company in Pune is one that most Punekars don’t really know about – Kenati. Kenati was founded as a network software services company about 10 years ago and after 2/3 years of doing that they switched over to their own products (in the home networking space). Kenati was acquired by 2Wire a couple of years back.

So, coming back to the point, I wondered how has Omni-Bridge’s experience been in this regard? Last year Omni-Bridge reached a stage where their services business could fund their own products, and they do have a few products (mobile apps) in addition to Trafficop. I asked MD Amit Shitole what advice he would give to other start-ups who are planning on doing this and he said that his biggest learning was that the most important aspect that needs to be managed is the cash-flow. The founders need to sit and very carefully figure out how much cash is needed on a month-to-month basis to keep the product business running, and then to figure out where that money is going to come from – on a regular, sustainable basis. The product business cannot really be put on a “pause” once it is started, and becomes a permanent cash-flow sink, so this calculation needs to be tackled upfront.

Co-founders Amit Shitole and Pritam Hasabnis, have indicated that they would be happy to provide guidance to early-stage first-time entrepreneurs who find themselves in a situation similar to what Omni-Bridge was in. You can get in touch with them via their website.

Techweekend Pune – Rich Internet Apps (HTML5, Javascript, Flash, Silverlight) – 27 Nov

The desktop is dead. The browser and the mobile have killed it.

For years now, there has been a shift away from traditional desktop apps and native OS GUIs towards browser based interfaces for all applications, whether they’re personal/consumer apps, or enterprise apps.

Now, with the rise of very smart phones like iPhone, tablet devices, 3G internet available everywhere, and the coming of age of rich interactions in HTML with HTML5 and javascript, “ubiquitous computing” has finally arrived. People expect to be able to work on their applications from anywhere – from their desktop PC at work, or their laptop from home, or their iPad or iPhone or Blackberry when on the road. And the easiest way of ensuring that your app is available on all these platforms is to go with a “RIA” platform.

That’s what we’ll discuss this weekend on Saturday, November 27, at MCCIA Hall in ICC Towers on S.B. Road. We will talk about HTML5, and why it will take over the world. We will talk about how Javascript is the one language you cannot afford to not know, whether you’re talking about apps on your laptop or on your mobile phone. We will talk about Phonegap and Titanium, cross-platform platforms that allow you to write once using Javascript/HTML/CSS and run the app on desktops or mobiles alike. We’ll talk about Adobe’s offerings – AIR and Flash, and how they are the “incumbent” rulers of this space, and will not easily lose to HTML5. And we’ll talk about Microsoft’s Silverlight, and how that plans to break into this club.

The talk is free for all, and you must come, if you want to know what the world will be like for the next 3 years. You need to register at That page also contains the current list of speakers (which is being updated as we get more confirmations).

Yes, you, the people working on desktop frontend GUIs using java or .NET or VB or Qt – you are the ones who definitely need to come. Some might argue that desktop apps are certainly not dead – definitely not in enterprises. That is true, but only in the same sense as mainframes are still not dead in the enterprise, and COBOL is still not dead in the enterprise. But, for the forward-thinking, RIAs are the way to go, even when you are confined to the insides of your enterprise – just the expansion of that term will change to Rich Intranet Apps. That’s all.

Many thanks to Microsoft for sponsoring the venue for Techweekend. Microsoft wants to get more closely involved with the tech community in Pune, and particularly the open source enthusiasts – with the intention of making everybody aware that their cloud technologies (like Azure) actually play well with open source, and that you can deploy your php applications, your drupal/joomla installs on Azure.

Event Report: IndicThreads Conference on Mobile Application Development

(This is an event update about the IndicThreads Conference on Mobile Application Development that was held in Pune last week. We already published one article related to a couple of the the talks at that conference. This article, a more comprehensive update, was posted by Atul Nene on his blog, and is re-published here with permission.)

The good folks at IndicThreadsHarshad Oak and Sangeeta Oak, organized the IndicMobile conference. The venue and arrangements were very good and the set of speakers top notch. The choice of topics was varied enough to be comprehensive and yet very relevant and amenable for deep enough dives. Overall, a great interaction and learning opportunity that I and my colleagues enjoyed. I also enjoyed live tweeting along with SaurabhPuneLiveMukundVishvesh. Here are my notes from the conference. They are longish, but then it was a two day affair, and I have tried to be brief.

Anand Deshpande, Persistent, Keynote Address
As expected, there was deeply thought out articulation from Anand on the future of the software space. Mobile + cloud is ‘it’, he said. Economic sense is driving everything on the cloud and that, combined with the all pervasive mobile technology will rewrite the software world, as we develop and use it today. He referred to the Harvard Business Review C.K. Pralhad and R. A. Mashelkar paper and pondered that more will be made available for less, for the many – elucidiating Gandhian principles. He made a core point about the data being separated from the App.

I like Anand’s ‘cows and milk’ analogy: focus on milk, why care about tending cows ? Applied to software, focus on developing and using software (App), not building the cloud. But – to take the analogy further – what control one has on chemically adulterated milk ? Its very difficult to even identify that. And, what about reliability and security and so on on the cloud ? Or is there a business case for the ‘organic software experience’ ? We as software product developers will have to figure it all out.

Rohit Nayak, Cross-platform mobile development: choices and limitations
Nice coverage of cross platform mobile development tools. I didnt know there was no garbage collector on the iPhone while there was one on the desktop. Titanium can be used for building cross compiled native apps on various platforms. It also has a good reference application that can be used to test all kinds of interfaces of the device you are building for, as well as sample code ready to be used. MoSync and PhoneGap were also covered. All three were demoed. He warned that tools can be out of step with device styles and new devices. He also suggested that a mobile web app could be the route of choice for maximum platform coverage. I noticed mere mention of MeeGo, but after all, its too new as of this writing. [See MeeGo related previous post on this blog.

Romin Irani, Mobile Web Applications using HTML5
Romin went over the new stuff in HTML5 – semantic elements, forms, audio video embedding, location, and so on. He pointed out that ‘native app like’ experience was possibly via use of local storage, graphic functions and media support. Is it possible that webkit advances render native app development obsolete ? After all, lot of commonly used JavaScript functionality were being included in HTML5. He mentioned that HTML5 would reach ‘recommended’ status by 2022! I’m sure, Holy Photons will guide us there through the paradigm shifts of 2012 et al. 🙂 I believed that an HTML app won’t give a native experience on the device but much to my delight, he demoed HTML5 features in a cool looking app with really nice look and feel. An engaging session with great examples of varied browser support.

Hemanth Sharma, Adobe Flash Platform for Mobile Development
Hemanth covered the various Adobe tools. Interestingly, none of the attendees present had developed for the platform so far. He pointed out that while designing for multiple screens, especially small, knowing the screen resolution was not enough and that the physical dimensions, the orientation and pixels-per-inch (PPI) were crucial. Amongst many other things, he mentioned DeviceCentral as a useful tool to test for devices that support flash. While iOS does not support flash, its cool that Adobe has ActionSript3 cross-compilation for iOS – it generates a native iOS application. He demoed real fast development of an app that gets twitter trending topics. His live demo broke by a whisker – must have kicked himself, mentally – he then showed us previously built code. Still cool. I would have loved stats (performance and so on) comparing native apps with similar functionality. All-in-all, a compelling write-once-run-anywhere-on-air story by this Adobe evangelist. Need to seriously evaluate the platform.

Balagopal K S, Deep dive into Application development for Nokia Technology Platforms
Bala had the difficult task of keeping us awake after lunch. He spoke all about the various platforms one can develop for, for Nokia devices, including the Symbian, Maemo and MeeGo. And of course all about Qt. I wasn’t expecting a Nokia representative to pronounce Qt as ‘quetee’. Everyone knows its ‘cute’, pun not intentionally intended 🙂 He revealed that 83% of users downloaded apps rated 4 and 5 (of 5). Shows how crucial it is, to build a high quality app that includes a great user experience. He advised to design for the user, not the technology, and consider the emotional engagement of the user with your app. And some more tidbits and tools and resources. Given that Qt is the development platform of choice on MeeGo, and a lot of Qt development is done in Python, I wonder why C++ is the language of choice for Qt/Meego. Its like going retro, no?

Pradeep Rao and Dilip Sridhar, BlackBerry Development Platform
BlackBerry just released the Torch and that has the BB6 platform. They have tieups with advertisers and an API that developoers can use in their apps. RIM does 60% revenue share with the app developers. BB SuperApps are native apps that are always on and connected, proactive and notification driven, highly contextualised, designed for efficiency in terms of network usage, battery life and so on. The Theme Studio and Theme Builder lets you make themes easily. The Playbook is coming. This platform is one to watch out for. Lately, BlackBerry devices have started delighting more and more number of users, notwithstanding their funny ads, and they have a powerful development platform plus increasing marketshare to entice developers.

Navin Kabra, Understanding the Touch Interface
Have you noticed how, the moment you start discussing something related to design, that hovers closer to art and makes the audience remember their most delightful and very frustrating moments with technology, everyone just tunes up their attention to the level of communion. Holy Photons ! This is exactly what happened in Navin’s session. He declared: “Touch will take over the world”. He made many excellent points, one being that using a mouse is a learned skill while touch comes naturally and that every app developer irrespective of whether he will develop for the mobile platform or not, will need to care about touch, simply because touch based devices will be the most commonly used devices going forward.

Also, a piece of text that is large enough for you to read is not necessarily large enough to touch – you will know this if you browse the web on your touch phone. Touch can be so easy that our spinal cord should be enough to do processing and give our brain some rest – everyone could do with that, I suppose. He showed a very interesting design of a touch keypad that can be used singlehandedly to browse the web because it has most of the frequently used functions on convenience buttons. He also touched upon – pun intended – the problems with touch, user perception of what is good and bad response time, caution of not overdoing it and perhaps most importantly, that developers wanting to design for touch must use a touch only device for a sufficient period of time !

I really liked the mindmap style (including the navigation) for the presentation. Made a mental note to make one this way at the next oppurtunity. Abhinav (an attendee) made an excellent point about designing in such a way that, with all the touch he can get, the user is still able to efficiently ‘blind type’, assuming he also has a physical on-device keyboard at his disposal – touch and type should not go out of sync. Really interactive and great talk on how to design for touch. And some informative follow-on interactions around stylus vs. fingers, resistive and capacitive touches, and handwriting recognition, the Palm (now Access) Graffiti et. al.

I personally feel there is huge potential for handwriting recognition or at least the Graffiti on the mobile platform – too many potential users who know native, local languages are currently ignored and can be empowered to communicate for low costs, in ways that come naturally to them.

Venkata Ratnam V, Introduction to bada platform & Samsung’s multi-platform strategy
Venkata explained Samsungs dual strategy with Bada (means the ocean, and does not have roots in the Hindi ‘baDaa’ i.e. big, as someone said to me) being for the low end devices while the other mobile OSes that they sell devices with, are for the high end devices. Looks like a large set of attendees were Android lovers and didn’t buy the Bada story but Venkata said ‘Dont grudge us our own mobile OS’. Its difficult to argue with that! He also made a wonderful observation: Customer (end users) expectations are very, very high. They want features on the phone that they may not use, but if the device doesn’t have them, they feel its handicapped.

One can develop for Bada with the combination of C++ and Eclipse, plus a web toolkit. There is also a memory leak checker bundled along with the developer toolset. As others, Samsung has a lot of other pieces of the mobile puzzle being put together in their own way. ‘In-App Purchase’ – is this new ubercool feature being bandied about. IIRC, Apple, Nokia, Samsung have it, others will want to catchup. Venkat also made a great point about user psychology – it’s easier to have an app in the store that is installed by the user and which then stays on the device and tends to be used more. This app can then of course use the web as needed. But its very difficult to have the user point his browser to a website from his device. Point to be taken ! Good session by this evangelist: funny slides, cheerful demeanour, solid defence.

Vikram Pendse V, Microsoft Windows Phone 7 Platform
Vikram Pendse’s overview of Win Phone 7 platform, architecture, development tools, demos and quirks was nice. He did a good job of explaining the Microsoft perspective for WP7. MS wants a consistent hardware strategy across vendors: ARMv7 Cortex/Scorpion or better, and decent combination of GPU, memory, display, capacitive touch, and sensors (GPS, accelerometer, proximity). There will be 3 buttons – Start, Search, Back. For developers, there is .NET compact framework and Silverlight. The OS supports ‘prioritised’ (not concurrent) multitasking of Apps. Libraries include cloud integration for Azure. He demoed apps to showcase various capabilities – graphics, app bar, music, UI navigation. As also a profiler. And pretty pictures of devices: Dell Venu Pro, HTC HD7, HTC Surround, LG Quantum, Samsung Focus. And some game screens.

MS story looks sketchy at best, and we tweeters had fun ! So WP7 won’t copy and paste. Surprised ? You shouldn’t. Remember C&P has moved to the iPhone last year?! There is no migration plan for apps written for WinCE 5/6. You gotta rewrite, in a different language! Romin noted: what Android calls “Intents” …. Microsoft calls “Launchers and Choosers”. Saurabh noted that WP7 is a fancy looking toy, but only for end user, developers will have to wait for more support and perfection. I agree – the UI looks really cool for end usage. Vishwesh: MS was dead after WM6.5 and now, with limited support for everything on WP7, they are … a zombie? The marketplace seems to be the weakest (non-existent yet ?) link. Too many restrictions imposed by the OS. The audience was wondering if all MS wanted to sell was under-USD-30 devices! Good fun 🙂

Rohit Ghatol, Getting Started With Android Application Development
Rohit began well. He gave some background on the platform, showed a list of devices in the market and asked: Do I really have to sell Android? The audience didn’t think so anyway. He also was the first person to do a live device demo in the conference. He covered stuff efficiently – Building Blocks of Android (Activity, Service, Content Provider, Broadcast Receiver, Notification Mgr, Alarm Mgr), the Dalvik VM, the DEXs and the APKs. He was swift through building an App and covered lot of details in short time. Froyo (API v8) brings the much needed enterprise security features to Android, while GingerBread and Honeycomb come later to focus on tablet features.Developer.Android.Com is a very well documented site and a great resource to learn at. We also discussed some could-be-better stuff – one is tablet support, another is that Android market does not provide flexible payment options, sometimes you can make more money by making the app free and include Google ads! Rohit had a nice conversational style, good use cases, employed simple stepping through the development process on a well done deck.

I liked this flexible approach. The audience identified pertinent topics for an open discussion and we had scintillating set of discussions on 4 topics. Difficult to capture all learning and speakers, but I hope I’ve got the gist.

Abhinav, Mobile Virtualization: Can we run multiple logical phones on one physical phone ? There are multiple applications. 3 years ago, you ran your PC at 1GHz, today you run your handset at that speed. In terms of device capability, virtualization seems plausible. Clouds will only separate the data from the device. What if you want to use your corporate mobile and your personal mobile on the same physical handset, for convenience ?

Saurabh, OpenGL: Useful for graphics and game development. Optimal use of hardware resources. Common library across platforms, however, support varies across platform. Simple games like ‘Bejeweled’ are being used more over serious games that need a console, simply because they are more available, like while waiting for the doctors appointment.

Vishwesh, Apps for the Indian Market: Firstly, is there an Indian Market? Consumers have to use apps developed for the western market. Where’s the Indian Content ? Pricing is a challenge. Prices are converted from USD to Rupees, needs to be thought differently. Rural market, huge but not addressed. Difficult to monetise. We don’t even SMS in local language yet. Amar Chitra Katha – available on one provider when it needs to be ubiquitious. Cash-On-Delivery is the preferred payment option for Indian Consumers, and this needs to be used for selling Apps. Microfinance has the potential to be in top-ten-app charts, but there aren’t any apps! And then there are too many platforms! Mobile Apps should connect to the physical, real world of the End User. It’s only then that they will be used

Dr.Lavania, Tele-Health: What is the best way to reach 24×7 touch and feel health services to rural areas, given that mobility is the only ubiquitious technology in villages! Apps that degrade from smart to dumb phones are needed. What low cost solution can we have for villages that are ‘over the horizon’ of connectivity?

Anand Hariharan, Performance in Android: Tips and Techniques
“Good Design is the practice of Subtraction” – Mark Anderson from the Good Design blog. Anand suggested we keep performance in mind right when you are desiging the App. Design, Measure, Identify, Improve : thats the mantra he gave us for performance extraction on mobile platforms. Speed, responsiveness, robustness, good behaviour (wrt battery usage and working well with other Apps) – all these done together make an App with good performance. Intensive CPU/battery usage, UI freeze (jankiness), long periods of percieved inactivity, actions that are not cancellable – any of these make an App bad, and it runs the risk of uninstallation from the users device! Apps should be designed to work well over varying net speeds. Recommended practices and style guides of respective platforms are important also for performance aspects. Like on the iPhone, its a good idea to show the image of your App, during startup, while the App loads – this improves user perception on response time. Android has a useful guide called Designing for Performance

Anand had specific advice – dos, donts – for Android apps in particular and Java apps in general. Do lookup his presentation on the conference site, it has a lot of depth and coverage – a handy reference for all developers, I’d say. Fluent talk, and I thought, Holy Photons – worth emulating!

Romin Irani, Power Your Mobile Applications On The Cloud
Romin has written a book on Google App Engine and you can download it for free. GAE is feature rich and free, has enough resources for trying out apps. He did a quick run through basics, and did a live demo – write, test, deploy! Simple, klaar, not cloudy at all. 🙂 You can code in Python or Java. Cloud in general and GAE in particular has great potential for mobile space. You could have the same cloud app serve multiple phone apps or even multiple kinds of clients (thick, thin, remote, local, and so on …). Romin mentioned a handy resource for information on about 15,000+ devices ! Checkout WURFL.

All presentations uploaded to the conference page as the talks got over. Pleasant green behaviour on part of organizers – free saplings were on offer for those who care. See the Press Report in DNA. An intense and thoroughly enjoyable conference with a lot of take-aways for me. Hope you have enjoyed reading about it.

About the Author – Atul Nene

Atul has a Masters in Computer Science from the University of Pune. His areas of interest are Technology in general and Software in particular. He studies Indian classical music, is a nature lover. He builds embedded products and Mobile Applications for the iPhone, Android, Symbian and BlackBerry platforms. Atul was 2008 Employee-of-the-Year at his workplace, and recipient of “Project Management Excellence Award” (for his team) by PMI, Pune Chapter.

Android/iPhone/BlackBerry/Nokia – Which platform(s) should developers target

(I attended the IndicThreads Conference on Mobile Application Development today. This article is based on presentations made there and conversations I had with some of the presenters.)

The smartphones market is very fragmented.

In 3Q2010, Symbian had 37% of the smartphone market, Android was second with 25% (it was at 2% 18 months ago), and iOS in third place with 16%. RIM (Blackberry) was next. Windows was losing.

So, what should a developer do? Which to target?

I talked to Romin Irani of Xoriant about this problem, and whether HTML5 is the answer to these issues. My key takeaway’s from this conversation were:

  • HTML5 is here already. I was under the impression that HTML5 is something that will arrive sometime in the near future. Romin pointed out that HTML5 support is pretty good even today, especially if you’re thinking of mobile phone browsers.
  • But HTML5 not the answer to all your problems. If you need access to device sensors, you’re probably better off with a native app. If you want access to the appstore/marketplace, then you need a native app. HTML5 doesn’t qualify!
  • If you’re a new startup, and you want to build a mobile app, what should you do? These are the guidelines:
    • If you don’t need device sensors, and don’t need to be in the appstore/marketplace, strongly consider a HTML5+CSS+JavaScript app
    • If you want to go after the US market, you must have an iPhone native app. (Maybe followed by Android)
    • If you want to go after Europe market, then you will need to have a Nokia based native app, just for the sheer numbers they have

Rohit Nayak of Talentica had talked about the use of cross-platform app development frameworks like Titanium and PhoneGap. Both allow you to write apps in JavaScript. Titanium cross-compiles them to native apps on each platform. PhoneGap uses a modified version of the browser so that your app is HTML+CSS+JavaScript, but there are modifications that allow you to access native phone features (like sensors).

There are some limitations, and such apps aren’t as good as native apps.

So, would he really recommend the use of PhoneGap/Titanium for developing apps? Rohit had this to say:

  • Titanium and PhoneGap are rapidly getting better and better. More and more apps built using them are showing up on the android marketplace.
  • If you already know JavaScript, and need to get to the market quickly, you should definitely consider using one of these tools
  • If you don’t really need advanced native features of any specific platform, then it makes a lot of sense to go this route
  • If you are a software outsourcing company that’s building apps for third parties, you should seriously considering building a team that uses Titanium. For most of your customers, you’ll be able to quickly complete an app that satisfies them. Otherwise, you’re faced with a nightmare – you’ll need to build teams with expertise in each of the major platforms, and this is almost impossible to do with today’s attrition.

The last few points seem very similar to the advantages of HTML5, so I asked Rohit whether PhoneGap/Titanium had any advantages over HTML5. Answer:

  • PhoneGap/Titanium generally support more native features than HTML is planning on supporting
  • An app built Titanium/PhoneGap can go on the appstore/marketplace.
  • An HTML5 app necessarily requires you to have a “cloud” presence – a web server and an API, and supporting all the online connections. PhoneGap/Titanium application does not require any of that.

Pune Traffic Police’s contest to design a Pune Traffic Portal

Update: The short-list of 5 designs in the “final round” has been announced. See our follow-up post for details of voting.

Janwani and Pune Traffic Police have announced a contest for designing a traffic information portal for Pune. The last date for registering is 20th November, and the last date for submission is 30th November. There’s a cash prize of Rs. 50,000 for the winner. The contest will be judged based on usability, creativity, use of animated features, graphics and color theme. Contest entrants will get detailed guidelines after registering.

Click here to register

About Pune Traffic Police

In the last few years, Pune Traffic Police have started a number of very interesting tech initiatives. For example, just yesterday, they announced the launch of a facebook page where citizens can report parking violations and Traffic Police will take action against the offenders. I assume it his this page.There is also the “Blackberry” programme, where Pune Traffic officers enter all traffic violations data in an online server, and this has actually helped them find repeat offenders, solve some long standing cases, etc. This system was developed by Pune Startup Omni-Bridge, and we’re hoping to cover them on PuneTech sometime soon.

Stay tuned.

About Janwani

Janwani is an initiative of the Mahratta Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (MCCIA), it was formed in 2006 to advocate and promote equitable and sustainable development in the city beneficial to the citizens. This is turn stems from the fact that the city will not be an attractive destination unless it is a truly “livable city.”

Janwani endeavors to take a comprehensive view of city development. They work towards identifying gaps and priority areas in the development process, and providing well researched and implementable solutions. They are working to both create a shared vision amongst Punekars of the type of city they want, and bring this vision to reality by networking, facilitating and driving the development process of the city on the desired path.

SEAP/CSI Event: Big Data and High Performance Computing, by Paul Kent – Nov 19

What: Big data and High Performance Computing with Paul Kent of SAS
When: Friday, 19 Nov, 10am
Where: YASHADA, Baner Road
Registration and Fees: This event is free for all. Register by sending a mail go

Abstract of the Talk – Big Data and HPC

The emergence of commodity multi-core blade servers is changing the landscape of high-performance computing quickly and profoundly. It coincides with the exponential increase in data – digital information streaming in from intelligent/smart devices that pervade our lives today available on ever larger, faster and cheaper data storage arrays.

Processing the data now requires larger computing resources. The two computing disciplines (Big Data, HPC) are merging on a largely common platform and this presents good opportunities for improving the state of the art; both in speed as well as volumes of data processed.

A new generation of software technologies for analytics operating on enormous data stores is the outcome. This talk describes the evolution of Big Data and High Performance Computing, details approaches taken, reflects on lessons learned, and discusses some of the current challenges in this area.

About the Speaker – Paul Kent

Paul Kent, is the Vice President of Platform Research and Development at SAS, and leads the teams responsible for many SAS foundation technologies – Base SAS and related data access, management and presentation software. Paul joined SAS in 1984 as a Technical Marketing Representative and eventually moved into the Research and Development division. He has used SAS for more than 20 years and has contributed to the development of SAS software components including PROC SQL, the WHERE clause, TCP/IP connectivity, and portions of the Output Delivery System (ODS). A strong customer advocate, Paul is widely recognized within the SAS community for his active participation in local and international user conferences.