Monthly Archives: January 2011

Pune Rails Drinkup: Ruby-on-Rails tech talks over (free) drinks

The Pune Rails Meetup Group invites all enthusiasts of Ruby-on-Rails for their second “Drink Up” event. Gautam Rege writes:

This time we have a technical drink-up. We shall have 1 or 2 technical sessions followed by networking.

Thanks to IntelleCap for sponsoring this meetup entirely!

Venue: Boat Club

Agenda: We have 2 technical talks of 45 minutes each.

6pm – 6.45pm: “Rhodes in a Nutshell” by Akshat Paul & Abhishek Nalwaya
7pm – 7.45pm: Talk from IntelleCap (TBD)
7.45pm – 8pm: A short talk from our sponsor – IntelleCap

8pm – onwards: networking! 😉

This event is free and open to all but, there is reserved seating to meet at most 30 people. Please RSVP in advance to avoid organizing constraints. You must register here

TiE Pune Event: My Story with Lila Poonawala

TiE Pune invites everyone to a “My Story” session with Lila Poonawala, where she will share her insights, experiences and opinions on her climb up the corporate ladder, the challenges she met and what it takes to be successful.

The event is on 28th January at 6:30pm, on the 5th floor, Wing A, of the MCCIA Trade Towers, SB Road. The event is open for everyone to attend, and there are no charges for participation. However, please register with:

  • Mrs. Vinaya Ingale (email:, tel: 25709180)/
  • Mrs. Madhura Chipade (email :, tel : 25709213)/
  • Mr. S. H. Kopardekar (email :, tel: 25709211) or
  • Ms. Namita Shibad, TiE (email :

About Lila Poonawala

As the country’s first female CEO of a Multinational, Lila Poonawalla didn’t just break the glass ceiling, but trailed several new, unchartered paths to take her company, Alfa Laval to success. Lila’s tenure at Alfa Laval was marked by progress on all the business fronts – production, marketing and expansion. But her focus on the areas of industrial relations, employees’ welfare and customer service were what made the difference.

Apart from winning international awards, she procured global recognition for the company by showing progress in exports to Russia, Germany, USA, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Turkey, and many others. Internally she was the architect of a unique labor agreement that was a five-year agreement, the first of its kind in industrial world. Breaking the barriers of protocol was her forte and she utilized this modus operandi to the maximum – in forging better ties with customers, employees and their families and the parent company as well.

She was able to motivate the workers to better their performance and participate in the company as a family. Some of the many social activities she took up were Family Circles and welfare schemes like the Parivar (Family) Development Center and scholarships for employees’ children, in-house magazines, sports club for workers; as well as the concept of work improvement teams and quality circles, which were introduced not only to improve performance but also relations.

Her efforts towards social welfare have already made her the driving spirit behind the Lila Poonawalla Foundation, which is her private initiative and not a CSR activity and the Quality Circle Forum of India, to further the cause of education among women and contribute to People development. She has won several awards, among the many being The Lady of the Decade (1978-1988) the President’s Best Lady Executive, and above all being awarded Padmashree by the President of India way back in 1989 and an International recognition from the King of Sweden, honoring her with a Polar Star and naming her as the OFFICER of the Royal Order in 2003.But resting on her laurels is impossible. Lila, who is open to new challenges is on the boards of IDBI Bank, IDBI Intech, KPIT Cummins Infosystems, NobleTek PLM Solutions, Blossom Breweries to name a few and plays the role of Corporate Advisor, Mentor to many companies.

Call for Speakers – IndicThreads Conference on Software Quality

Pune’s, which organizes various conferences in Pune every year, has just put out a call for submissions for their 2nd Conference On Software Quality to be held on 25th and 26th March 2011 in Pune. The conference will focus on software quality & testing.

Here are some suggested topics:

  • Automation Testing
  • Performance Engineering
  • Component Testing
  • Agile Testing
  • Embedded Systems Testing
  • Product vs. Application Testing
  • Games Testing
  • Security Testing
  • ATM Testing
  • Emerging tools and technologies
  • Reliability Testing
  • Testing Middleware Applications
  • SOA Testing
  • Database Testing
  • Protocol Testing
  • Compliance Testing
  • Software Usability Testing

Note, the audience will consist mostly of senior professionals with 5+ years of experience. Click here for submitting a proposal.

The submission deadline is 31st Jan, 2011. The conference itself will be on 25 and 26 March, in Pune. Write to [ conf AT indicthreads DOT com ] in case of any queries.

PuneCleanTech Event: “BioEnergy” – The Complete Energy Solution for India – 29 Jan

PuneCleanTech and VentureCenter present a talk on BioEnergy – the complete energy solution for tropical countries, including India, by Santosh Gondhalekar, Director, Gangotree Eco Technologies.

The increasing demand and decreasing supply of fossil fuels, has resulted in increasing market price of Petrol, Diesel, LPG, Kerosene, Furnace Oil etc., in last couple of years. The situation is alarming and has created threat to ‘Energy Security’ across the globe.

Many Renewable Energy Options like Wind Energy, Solar Photovoltaic, Solar Photothermal, Tidal Power, Wave Power, Geothermal Power, Fuel Cells, etc. etc. are being tried and tested. The options in Bioenergy like BioDiesel, BioEthenol are also discussed and tested. Unfortunately, all of these options have some or the other weaknesses. In Indian context, in spite of lot of noise about above stated options, effectively as on date, the actual contribution of all Renewable Energy put together in the Mainstream Energy Supply, for India, has been less than 1% only.

Then, Is there any way out?

Yes. The solution is available that could satisfy all the Energy requirements. The key words are the ‘Green Gas’ and ‘Green Coal’. It is the Biomass based solution, based on the Elephant Grass or Napier Grass. The energy solution has been tested & certified and has capacity to substitute All Fossil Fuels.

The Energy Solution is tested comprehensively on four critical criteria viz, the ‘Technical Feasibility’, ‘Economical Viablility’, ‘Environmental Sustainability’ and ‘Social Acceptability’.

The event will be on 29th January, from 11am to 1pm, at the Venture Center, NCL Innovation Lab, Pashan Road. The event is free for all to attend. No registration required.

TechVista 2011: Microsoft Research’s Annual Showcase Event – Jan 21

TechVista 2011 is a one-day event by Microsoft Research India to Showcase the work done by Microsoft Research worldwide. This year, it is being held in Pune on 21st January. The event consists of two parts: a morning session that consists of keynote lectures (speakers include Rick Rashid; Mathai Joseph), and an afternoon session with demos (technologies from Microsoft Research Labs worldwide), poster sessions (by PhD students across India), and technical lectures (by Microsoft Researchers).

This event is free for all to attend. Register here if you want to attend the whole day, or register here if you want to only attend the afternoon session

Morning Session Details

  • Dr. Richard F. Rashid, Senior Vice President, Microsoft Research, and the head of Microsoft Research worldwide. (Note: Rick Rashid was also the principal developer of the Mach OS Kernel, which influenced many operating systems, including Mac OS X.)
  • Ravi Venkatesan, Chairman, Microsoft India.
  • Dr. P. Anandan, Managing Director, Microsoft Research India.

The morning session will also feature two distinguished lectures:

  • “Kinect: the start of something NUI” by Prof. Andrew Blake FRS, Managing Director, Microsoft Research Cambridge and a key member of the team that developed the Machine Learning technology for Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect.
  • A talk by Dr. Mathai Joseph, Advisor, TCS, and member ACM India Council titled “The Time is Now!”. He is also the former Executive Director, Tata Research Design and Development Center.

Afternoon Session Details

This session will feature a large number of cutting edge demos from the different Microsoft Research labs worldwide, technical lectures by leading researchers and a poster display by Indian Ph.D. students. These will take place simultaneously; participants can attend talks or the demo and PhD poster sessions based on their specific interests.

The technical lectures include the following:

  • Dr. Wolfram Schulte, Principal Researcher and founding manager of the Research in Software Engineering group, Microsoft Research Redmond. Talk: Formal Methods: A Disruptive Technology!
  • Joseph Joy, Principal Software Architect, Microsoft Research India. Talk: Rich Interactive Narratives: Taking Storytelling to the Next Level
  • Dr. Bill Thies, Researcher, Technology for Emerging Markets, Microsoft Research India. Talk: Bringing Programmability to Experimental Biology

The demos encompass a large spectrum of fields in computer science and represent some of the cutting edge research being conducted at Microsoft Research. This session will also feature some of the newest developments across other divisions of Microsoft. Click here for demo details

The Ph.D. poster display will showcase some of the best work by Computer Science and Electrical Engineering Ph.D. students from India, selected through a competitive process. Click here for a list of posters


The event is from 8am to 6pm at the Westin, Koregaon Park. This event is free for all to attend. Register here if you want to attend the whole day, or register here if you want to only attend the afternoon session

See the event page for more details

TechWeekend LiveBlog: NoSQL + Database in the Cloud #tw6

This is a quick-and-dirty live-blog of TechWeekend 6 on NoSQL and Databases in the Cloud.

First, I (Navin Kabra) gave an overview of NoSQL systems. Since I was talking, I wasn’t able to live-blog it.

When not to use NoSQL

Next, Dhananjay Nene talked about when to not use NoSQL. Main points:

  • People know SQL. They can leverage it much faster, than if they were to use one of these non-standard interfaces of one of these new-fangled systems.
  • When reporting is very important, having SQL is much better. Reporting systems support SQL. Re-doing that with NoSQL will be more difficult.
  • Consistency, and Transactions are often important. Going to NoSQL usually involves giving them up. And unless you are really, really sure you don’t need them, this issue might come and bite you.
  • If you’re considering using NoSQL, you better know what the CAP theorem is; you better really understand what C, A, and P in that mean; don’t even consider NoSQL until you’re very well versed with these concepts
  • RDBMS can really scale quite a lot – especially if you optimize them well. So 90% of the time, it is very likely that the RDBMS is good enough for your situation and you don’t need NoSQL. So don’t go for NoSQL unless you are really sure that your RDBMS wont scale.

MongoDB the Infinitely Scalable

Next up is BG, talking about MongoDB, the Infinitely Scalable. They are using MongoDB in production for (Infinitely Beta). The main points he made:

  • Based on the idea that JSON is a well understood format for data, and it is possible to build a database based on JSON as the primary data structuring format.
  • The data is stored on disk using BSON, a binary format for storing JSON
  • Obviously, JavaScript is the natural language for working with MongoDB. So you can use JavaScript to query the database, and also for “stored procedures”
  • MongoDB it does not really allow joins; but with proper structuring of your data, you will not need joins
  • You can do very rich querying, deeply nested, in MongoDB
  • MongoDB has native support for ‘sharding’ (i.e. breaking up your data into chunks to be spread across multiple servers). This is really difficult to do.
  • MongoDB is screaming fast.
  • It is free and open source, but it is also backed by a commercial company, so you can get paid support if you want. There are hosting solutions (including free plans) where you can host your MongoDB instances (e.g.
  • You store “documents” in MongoDB. Since you can’t really do joins, the solution is to de-normalize your data. Everything you need should be in the one document, so you don’t need joins to fetch related data. e.g. if you were storing a blog post in MongoDB, you’ll store the post, all its meta-data, and all the comments in a single document.

MongoDB Use Cases:

  • Great for “web stuff”
  • High Speed Logging (because MongoDB has extremely fast writes)
  • Data Warehousing – great because of the schema flexibility
  • Storing binary files via GridFS – which are queryable!

MongoDB is used in production by these popular services:

FourSquare recently had a major unplanned downtime – because they did not understand how to really MongoDB. That underscores the importance of understanding the guarantees given by your NoSQL system – otherwise you could run into major problems including downtime, or even data loss. See this blog post for more on the FourSquare outage

Some stats about use of MongoDB at 54 million documents. 80GB of data. 6GB of indexes. All of this on 2 nodes (master-slave setup).


Gautam Rege now talking about his experiences with Redis. Main points made:

  • Redis is a key-value database with an attitude. Nothing more.
  • Important feature: in (key, value), the value can be a list, hash, set.
  • 1 million key lookups in 40ms. Because it keeps data in memory.
  • Persistence is lazy – save to disk every x seconds. So you can lose data in case of a crash. So you need to be sure that your app can handle this.
  • Redis is a “main memory database” (which can handle virtual memory – so your database does not really have to fit in memory)
  • All get and set operations on Redis are atomic. A lot of concurrency problems and race conditions disapper because of atomicity.
  • Sets in redis allow union, intersection, difference. Accessed like a hash.
  • Sorted sets combine hashes and arrays. Can lookup by key, but can also scan sequentially.
  • Redis allows real-time publish-subscribe.
  • Redis is simple. Redis is for specific small applications. Not intended for being the general purpose database for your app. Use where it makes sense. For example:
    • Lots of small updates
    • Vote up, vote down
    • Counters
    • Tagging. Implementing a tagging solution is a pain – becomes easy with Redis
    • Cross-referencing small data
  • Don’t use Redis for ORM (object-relational mapping)
  • Don’t use Redis if memory is limited
  • Sites like digg use Redis for tagging

SQL Azure

Saranya Sriram talking about SQL Azure and data in the cloud. SQL Azure is pretty much SQL Server in the cloud, retrofitted for for the cloud:

  • Exposes a RESTful interface
  • Has language bindings for python, rails, java, etc.
  • Gives full SQL / Relational database in the cloud
  • The standard tools used to access SQLServer locally can also be used to access SQL Azure from the cloud
  • For Azure you get a cloud simulation on your local machine to develop and test your application. For SQL Azure, you simply test with your local SQL Server edition. If you don’t have a SQL Server license, you can download SQL Server Express, which is free.
  • You can develop applications in Microsoft Visual Studio. You can incorporate PHP also in this.
  • You can also use Eclipse for developing applications.
  • SQL Azure has a maximum size limit of 50GB. (Started with 1 GB last year)
  • There is no free plan for Azure. You have to play. “Enthusiasts” can use it free for 180 days. If you sign up for the Bizspark program (for small startups, for the first 3 years) it is free. Similarly students can use it for free by signing up for the DreamSpark program. (Actually, the Bizspark and DreamSpark programs give you free access to lots of Microsoft software.)

8 Tech Events in Pune over the next few days

We try to list all the interesting tech events in Pune in the PuneTech Calendar. A few of them are promoted on the PuneTech blog as an article, but we don’t always write an article about all of them. So, if you are not subscribed to the PuneTech calendar (rss, email, sms), then you might not be aware of all of them.

Here is a quick listing of the events happening tomorrow, Saturday, 15 Jan:

  • TechWeekend: Monthly meeting on specific tech topics. This month’s focus is NoSQL and Databases in the Cloud. 10:30am, SICSR.
  • Cutting Edge Water Technologies from across the world. Organized by Venture Center and NCL. 11am, at Venture Center, Pashan Road.
  • SPIN Pune Meet – Next Generation Outsourcing. 5:30pm, Persistent, SB Road.
  • YASHADA: Wikipedia 10th Anniversary Celebration: 5pm-6:30pm. at YASHADA.
  • SICSR: Wikipedia 10th Anniversary Celebration: 6:30pm. at SICSR.
  • Joomla 1.6 Release Party. 6:30pm, Tekdi Web solutions office, Karvenagar.

On Sunday, 16th, IUCAA has a talk on the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, by Dr. Giuseppina Fabbiano. 6pm at IUCAA.

On Tuesday, 18th, eZest and Telerik are conducting a free seminar on implementing your own Agile process. From 9am to 1pm, at MCCIA Trade Tower, SB Road.

All of these events are free, and anybody can attend them. For more details, including registration procedure (if any), and details of the event, see the PuneTech Calendar.

Talk about your work at Pune’s GNUnify open source conference – CFP open

GNUnify is one of the top international free/open source software conferences in India. Click on the logo to see all PuneTech articles about GNUnify
GNUnify is one of the top international free/open source software conferences in India. Click on the logo to see all PuneTech articles about GNUnify

Every year since 2003, Pune has been hosting GNUnify, a major open source conference, organized by the Pune Linux Users Group and SICSR (Symbiosis Institute of Computer Studies and Research). It attracts a number of students and professionals, not just from all over India, but also other parts of the world.

It’s a two day program with a number of different tracks: 1-hour presentations on tech topics, 2-3 hour workshops, and “birds of a feather” discussion groups.

They are looking for speakers, and you should submit a talk proposal if you have used open source software work in one of these areas:

  • Education
  • Scientic Computing
  • Software Development
    • Web Technoligies
    • System Programming
    • Embedded / Mobile Applications
  • System Administration

Why take the effort?

Because, it helps you, and it the community; because more proposals means a higher quality conference. You could choose to do a presentation that is basic, targeted towards beginners and students, to initiate them into the world of open source, or if you have expertise in a specific field or FOSS software package, you can target your presentation to other professionals in the field who would like to learn from your experiences.

Submit a proposal. It takes very little effort right now. All you need to do is submit a one-paragraph abstract of what you’re going to talk about. The conference is on 11th and 12th Feb, in Pune, giving you enough time to prepare.

Why bother?

This PuneTech’s standard exhortation as to why PuneTech readers should submit proposals for such CFPs:

  • GNUnify is a good conference.
  • If you’re accepted as a speaker, you get travel costs (upto Rs 5000, based on actuals) and accomodation. (All those reading PuneTech from outside Pune, grab this chance to visit the most happening tech community in India.)
  • Become famous: being a speaker at a national conference is good for visibility, and all engineers should strive for visibility. It’s very important. Almost as important as being a good programmer. (Maybe more?)
  • Help out a good Pune initiative. More submissions will improve the quality of the conference, and having a high quality conference in Pune improves the overall stature of Pune as an emerging IT powerhouse.


Didn’t I say it was easy?

What are you waiting for. click and click.

Enhance Education: Pune Based startup focusing on Tablet-based education

Enhance Education (the new startup of founders Akshat Shrivastava and Arun Prabhudesai) is focusing on “tablet” computers (i.e. like iPad, but cheaper) as a primary feature of their eLearning platform that they hope will be used by colleges all over India to significantly improve the education provided to students / trainees. They are partnering with Amplify Mindware (a group of Institutions under Bharati Vidyapeeth) to help deploy this technology/service across a large number of institutions in India.

The basic idea is this:

  • Enhance Education has subject matter experts who produce high quality educational content, which is put up on their website (as part of their My Open Campus).
  • Educational Institutions (who would be customers of Enhance Education) sign-up for making My Open Campus content to their students.
  • Students are given internet-enabled “Enhance E-Pads” which can access content from My Open Campus over the internet. The Enhance E-Pads are android based touch-screen tablet devices that are expected to cost Rs. 3000 (and are likely to get cheaper over time).

In Enhance Educations’s Management Team, PuneTech readers (more accurately, Pune Open Coffee Club Members) will notice a bunch of familiar faces:

  • Akshat Shrivastava – CEO of Enhance Education. CEO of outsourcing company XanaduTec, and also founder of Alabot. @broadcalling on twitter.
  • Arun Prabhudesai – Head of Technology for Enhance Education. Also founder of, the very popular India Business Blog, and previously CEO of @8ap and @trakin on twitter.

Vikas Kumar, founder of BrainVisa, is also listed as an eLearning Advisor.

The latest press release from Enhance Education is here. There’s a lot more information about Enhance Education on their blog – check it out.

TechWeekend 6 (#tw6): NoSQL and Databases In the Cloud – 15 Jan

TechWeekend Pune and Microsoft present #TW6, a deep-dive into the world of databases in the cloud – NoSQL, SQL Azure, MongoDB, Redis and more. On Saturday, January 15, from 10am to 1pm.

As you’re aware, TechWeekend is a monthly series of lectures/discussions on technical topics. It happens on the third Saturday of every month, at the same time and same place.


  • Introduction to NoSQL – Navin Kabra
  • MongoDB the Infinitely Scalable – Baishampayan Ghose
  • SQL Azure – The Database of the Clouds – Saranya Sriram
  • When NoSQL is not appropriate for you – Dhananjay Nene
  • Experiences with Redis – Gautam Rege

About the Sponsor – Microsoft

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.


It is from 10am to 1pm on Saturday 15th January at the Sumant Moolgaonkar Auditorium, Ground Floor, Wing A, ICC Trade Towers, SB Road. As usual, TechWeekend is free for anyone to attend, but please register here.