Monthly Archives: April 2011

Interview with Vikas Joshi – CEO of Harbinger, Pune-based e-learning products company

(The Harbinger Group is a Pune-based software company that has products in the e-Learning space (, and also provides software outsourcing services ( to software product companies all over the world. As an example of a successful product company out of Pune, as an example of a company that managed to do both, products and services, and as an example of a company that uses latest technologies in a hot field (e-learning), we felt that PuneTech readers would find it interesting. This article is based on a conversation Navin Kabra and Amit Paranjape from PuneTech had with Vikas Joshi, CEO of Harbinger)

The Harbinger Story

Harbinger was started in 1990 as a software services company. Vikas had just returned after doing a Masters in Computer Science from Syracuse in the U.S. and was a visiting faculty at the University of Pune. He, along with Swati Ketkar (one of his students) were the cofounders of Harbinger.

They started “Intelligent Tutoring Systems” and Agrawal Classes was their first customer. The first 10 years, they grew very slowly, with customers mainly in Pune/Mumbai, and only a few in Bangalore/Delhi. By 2000, they had grown to 28 employees. This was a period when they learnt the basics of how to do business, slowly and painfully.

In these early years, they were mainly helping companies with building CAD automation, and other systems that help in the engineering lifecycle. A few of their projects involved the use of computers/multimedia in training. Around this time they created their own product, CBTPro (Computer Based Training), which, in 1998,  won MCCIA’s prestigious Parkhe Award (given to companies with the most interesting new products and ideas). From this point onwards they really started growing fast, both on the services side as well as the products.

From the beginning, while Harbinger was focusing on domestic customers, the Indian IT industry had been heavily involved in “body-shopping” (i.e. sending Indian programmers to the US for outsourced (but on-site) work). Harbinger were very clear that they did not want to do this. By 1999-2000 internet in India had advanced to a stage where it became clear that it would be possible to take on outsourcing work from the US without the need for programmers be moved to the US. This is when, after 10 years of existence, Harbinger went international. From that point on they have grown their international business to a point where the Indian market is now an insignificant part of their revenues.

Their services business has 300+ employees, and their portfolio is in these major areas: e-learning, web development, testing, and mobile development. Microsoft is a major customer.

Harbinger’s products are described in more detail in the next section.

Harbinger’s Products

While services business was being built up, product business (CBTPro and e-learning) was going well in India. In 2002 they actively started exporting the products.

Their product business started based on a pattern they were seeing in their services business. They noticed that existing e-learning solutions were not interactive. In terms of technology, it was clear that adding Adobe Flash to e-learning products would easily give the required interactivity – but there was big gap in the industry between instructional designers and flash developers. Flash developers were engineers who were not good at designing instructional content, and instruction designers did not have enough programming skills to be able to create content in Flash.

This led Harbinger to their Raptivity product line. Basically, Raptivity is an interactivity building tool, which includes a huge library of ready-made interactions, which can be used by non-technical people to quickly add interactivity to e-learning content.

The main customers of Harbinger’s products fall in these segments: US High-tech companies, US Traditional Companies, US Educational/Non-Profit/Government organizations, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and India-MiddleEast-Africa.

Some interesting drivers of Harbinger’s success

One major decision that Raptivity took early on, was that they would make it work with other authoring tools (not just Harbinger’s authoring tool). This was a key decision, which reduced the barrier to entry for customers. As a result of this decision, they have to stay in close contact with various authoring tools (including new ones), and work with them to integrate Raptivity. In the process of interacting with the vendors of any authoring tool, they are very open about disclosing Harbinger’s own authoring tool.

Another important area is the sales channel. Harbinger has its own sales force, but also sells a lot through resellers and other channel sales. One major mistake many companies make when using channel sales, according to Vikas, is to think of the sales channel as an external entity. Much better results can be obtained if you think of them as a part of your team. What does this mean? Include them on road-trips, conferences, and education about your products. The channel employee assigned to you should be treated as your salesperson. Because he is your salesperson.

A third area that a products company needs to be aware of is that the value proposition for a sales channel, and the value proposition to the end customer are two different things. Sometimes they are aligned, but sometimes, they can conflict. So, both need to be managed separately.

This means that the various sales channels should be segmented carefully, and the company should create unique product offerings for each channel. For example, in case of Harbinger’s products, one channel is Training System Integrators, and these vendors are interested in building the most comprehensive and feature rich system possible. They are not as interested in margins as they are interested in the fact that your products should be cutting edge and should have all the important features. By contrast there are “box pushers” (hardware vendors) who are more interested in margins and volumes. A third category of resellers is companies who wish to be seen as thought leaders, influencers and visionaries. Their motivations on selling your products is very different from those of the previous two categories.

Thoughts on Future Trends in e-Learning

Vikas believes that the primary pain point that they were focusing on (i.e. allowing e-learning authors to easily incorporate interactivity in their systems) is now a solved problem. The next challenges will come from these areas:

  • Touch Tablets: Touch tablets are likely to have a profound impact on this industry. Not only does this give rise to a wide variety of screen sizes and hardware capabilities (which was rather limited in the PC/Desktop days), but also the fact that touch is a fundamentally different form of interaction.
    • For example, a customer recently rolled out 1500 iPads to their entire sales force and would like the desktop/laptop e-learning products “ported” to the iPad. However, iPad is a very different beast, with a different paradigm. A simplistic port will fail. It needs to be re-thought from the ground up and a completely new offering needs to be released for this market.
    • Harbinger believes it is well positioned to play in this space because of their research on interactivity (and a couple of patents they have in this area)
  • New forms of interactivity. With Kinect and other forms of interactivity becoming a reality now, very soon, there will be an opportunity to use them in e-learning/training systems
  • Testing the limits of what is possible. For example, one person used Harbinger’s products and created 250 courses over 5 years and trained 20,000 users. A huge impact possible by doing such things – as compared to traditional training. There is an opportunity for e-learning technology companies to provide more and more tools to make such things possible.
  • Using e-learning/interactivity concepts in other areas: Capabilities of human-computer-interface systems are the plumbing. Interesting products are possible if we use the latest plumbing and build the most interesting, compelling, and impactful interactive products on top of it. Examples:
    • Classroom Training
      • Every student has a internet connected device
      • And can be used to enhance class participation
      • And the presentation changes based on participation
    • Richer business presentations
      • Using a Raptivity-like technique in presentations (PPT)
      • e.g. interactive graphs pack
        • Don’t show all information at once
        • Bring relevant information up via interactivity

Thoughts on the Indian Market

Right now, the Indian Market for technology products is very small. As mentioned earlier, it makes up for a small fraction of Harbinger’s revenues even though Harbinger started off as a purely domestic company. However, Vikas points out that the Indian Market is still extremely important. Without Indian market, Harbinger wouldn’t have gotten started, and the first trip to US was only possible due to the sales in the Indian market. Also, for the future, Vikas is extremely optimistic about the Indian Market. Things are changing so rapidly here, so while he is not sure of when exactly it will take off, but take off it will.

Advice to Young Entrepreneurs

Vikas writes a blog at where he regularly gives advice based on his experiences. He points out though that his advice would be applicable only to people who are not more than 10 years younger than he is. Basically, someone who is very far ahead of you (and age is a very rough indicator of this), should no longer be considered a subject matter expert in the challenges you face, since they’ve forgotten what it was like to be in your position.

An important point Vikas makes is that the patterns of entrepreneur mistakes – haven’t changed in 20 years. The biggest one is that early entrepreneurs (especially the technology entrepreneurs who abound in Pune) tend to focus too much on the product itself and the features of the product. It takes quite a while for them to transition to the next stage of entrepreneurship – which is to be able to see their offerings not in terms of products and features, but in terms of benefits that customers get from using their products. During the sales process, the entrepreneur needs to clearly be able to articulate the benefits, and this is the most important thing for an fresh entrepreneur to learn.

The next step for an entrepreneur is to be able to transition from simply talking about the benefits of using their products, to creating or painting a vision of experiences for the customer. A 43-year old accountant wants to zip through downtown on a motorbike. Is there anything in your product that gives him a fraction of that experience. How do you give your customer that feeling? This is a very advanced art, and the ultimate goal for an entrepreneur.

FirstCry Pune-based Online Store for Baby Products gets $4 million funding

FirstCry, an online portal for baby products and toys, founded by Pune’s Supam Maheshwari and Amitava Saha has just raised $4 million from private equity company SAIF Partners. FirstCry works with 100+ vendors internationally to make available 4000+ items for online sales, and with free shipping. As their website says:

Over time, we hope to ‘Change’ the way, Indian parents buy, so that they can be at home to spend more quality time with their ‘Little ones’ and family.

Economic times reports: receives 10,000 daily visitors and has over 15400 fans on Facebook. It has initiated various contests for parents on Facebook. The firm, which delivers to 25,000 cities and towns in India, expects to do 1000 transactions per day in next three months.

Supam Maheshwari had earlier co-founded Brainvisa in Pune, which was sold to Indecomm Global Services in 2007. Amitava Saha was a Senior Vice President at Brainvisa and had been with the company from 2003.

Indian Product Managers Association Pune – First Meeting 29 April

  • Are you a passionate Product Manager or Techie who wants to build great products?
  • Are you a Product Manager who wants to network with other professionals?
  • Are you looking to switch over into the exciting world of Product Management? Or simply want to learn the basics of the discipline of Product Management?

The Indian Tech world is full of people who understand services, and even product outsourcing. But the one big thing missing from the IT ecosystem here is the ability to visualize and build great products. And, if things go well for the Indian IT industry, then the most important trend of the next 10 years will be the rise of product companies out of India, and with that, the field of Product Management.

So, if you have any interest in this area, then the Pune Chapter of the Indian Product Managers Association, which is being launched this Friday is the place for you to be.

IPMA Pune Inaugural Event – Details

Vishwas Mahajan, Co-founder and Former CEO of Compulink and member of Senior Management at Glodyne, will inaugurate IPMA Pune Chapter and kick start the Monthly Speaker Series.

Mr. Mahajan will be speaking on: “Made in India .. for Global Markets”

About IPMA

India Product Management Association (IPMA) is a not for profit, grassroots organization. IPMA’s mission is to Foster product design and innovation and Catalyze product management talent in India. IPMA organizes monthly speaker series, workshops and more for professionals interested in product management and marketing. For more information about upcoming events, visit

Membership of the IPMA is free at this time.

Fees and Registration

This event is free and open for anybody to attend, but registration is required. The event will be on 29th April, from 4pm to 6pm, at BMC Software, Tower A, ICC Tech Park, SB Road.

Solid State Storage company STEC acquires Pune’s KQ Infotech

STEC Inc., a leader1 in solid state storage devices for the enterprise market, announced yesterday that it has a acquired KQ Infotech, a Pune based software services company.

Regular readers of PuneTech will remember KQ Infotech as the company that runs the Mentor India internship program for students interested in systems programming, and also as the company that ported Sun ZFS to Linux. KQ Infotech was started 3 years ago by ex-Veritas (Symantec) people (Anurag Agarwal and Anand Mitra).

STEC is a company that makes customized storage solutions based on flash (solid state) memory, and DRAM for various OEM customers like EMC, Fujitsu, HP, IBM, LSI, etc. STEC has revenues of around $300 million, and has development centers largely in Malaysia and US. This acquisition establishes STEC’s first development center in India.

Reading from the STEC-KQ Infotech press release, and from the backgrounds of the two companies, we can make the following guesses:

  • STEC is mostly a hardware company. In order to improve the “solutions” offerings around it’s hardware, it needs some good software, and this acquisition attempts to accelerate the process of building a software team
  • Few software companies can afford to not be in India; and given the current hiring climate, it is rather difficult to build a new team from scratch in India. STEC is acquiring KQ Infotech and 30 of its employees – this gives them an “established presence” in India, and they can build on top of this.
  • One would expect KQ Infotech to go on a hiring spree in the area of storage system software.
  • KQ Infotech did not have any significant products of its own, and STEC is unlikely to be interested in KQ Infotech’s existing customers, so this is essentially an acquisition of the expertise and talent.
  • It is very likely that KQ Infotech, which is really a fairly small and new company (started just 3 years ago), was first noticed by STEC because of KQ Infotech’s ZFS port. Herein lies a lesson for other startups – porting ZFS had no direct monetary benefits to KQ Infotech, but it was a bold and “world-class” move that gave them immediate visibility all over the world (e.g. they got two mentions on slashdot‘s front page), and gave them a lot of credibility. In the words of co-founder Anand Mitra, “ZFS made an big difference in our credibility with customer. Before ZFS, our customers would ask, ‘How do you know your team is capable of this kind of work,’ but after we did ZFS, the conversation would go, ‘Clearly, you are capable, let’s talk about what we need'”


1: Unlike other companies which always claim to be a leader, or “leading provider of”, but are usually not, STEC actually appears to be the biggest company building solid state drives as hard disk drive replacements for the enterprise market.

ShopSocially focuses on retailers with new offering “SocialConnect”

(Pune-based Startup ShopSocially, whose launch was covered on PuneTech last year has recently been in the news again for their launch of SocialConnect, a product for online retailers to easily add social shopping features to their existing e-commerce site. Suneetha talked to Samir Palnitkar and Sunil Arora of ShopSocially, and this article starts with an overview of ShopSocially (again), and then goes on to their latest offerings, and future plans.)

Buying a camera or a laptop and looking for some advice? Referrals seem to be taking over shopping decisions now more than ever, and the web is a key player in this activity. It’s this concept that ShopSocially has leveraged successfully by integrating the concepts of online shopping and facebook. Samir Palnitkar and Sunil Arora talk about how ShopSocially has come on the online social shopping map. Samir Palnitkar, an alumnus of IIT-Kanpur, is the President of ShopSocially and Sunil Arora, an alumnus of IIT-Kharagpur is a Founding Member who now looks after the technology aspects of the company.

Sam says it all started with a thought about harnessing social networking. Jai Rawat (CEO of ShopSocially) had spent several years in the ecommerce and online shopping space. As social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter were becoming popular, Jai realized that social recommendations via Facebook and Twitter would become a key traffic and revenue driver for e-commerce. These thoughts were the foundation behind ShopSocially. In the offline space, we tend to consult friends before making a buying decision. Why not do the same in the online space? That led to the idea behind ShopSocially set up in 2009.

You just need to register a free account with ShopSocially and shoot your shopping questions or declare your impressions on the platform. Why waste countless hours researching stuff and reading anonymous reviews? Of course, this works best when you have lots of ShopSocially Friends. Your Facebook friends automatically become your ShopSocially Friends when they join in. You can also earn badges or become ‘Shopping Gods’ depending on the intensity and frequency of your activity.

And how does it work for a retailer?

“Retailers can integrate with ShopSocially’s social commerce platform to harness the tremendous power of social recommendations. ShopSocially helps turn every purchase into a conversation and a social endorsement driving significant ‘friend referred’ traffic back to the retailer site. Retailers can get 2% to 6.5% incremental sales by integrating with the ShopSocially platform.”

ShopSocially has evolved quite a lot its model. It started off as an end-user site. Then they realized that the ShopSocially platform was highly attractive for retailers who wanted to socially enable their websites. So they launched Social Connect, to allow retailers to easily plug in to the ShopSocially platform. SocialConnect allows the retailer to add social features into the existing e-commerce platforms. Specifically, after a customer has purchased something, they are encouraged to share this purchase with their facebook friends (i.e. recommend this item to their other friends).

In addition, ShopSocially also automatically creates a new “Shoppers” tab on the company’s facebook fan page, where website where prospective customers can check whether any of their existing facebook friends have bought anything from this merchant, and if yes, what they’ve been buying, and what the reviews are.

ShopSocially started working with retailers in a fixed fee model but soon realized that it was easier for retailers to work with a performance-based or a subscription-based model; so quickly changed their pricing to meet the needs of retailers. Samir quotes an experience here. “We were thrilled when one of our retailers saw an increase of nearly $1 million in revenues per year by integrating with the ShopSocially solution.”

By now, I was getting convinced that it was all limited to the web user, but no, ShopSocially is already seeing beyond that parameter. Samir tells me that ShopSocially is as relevant for a customer outside the web precincts. “Yes. Social recommendation is how we buy most of our products, whether online or offline. In the near future, ShopSocially plans to bring product sharing to mobile devices. That will allow shoppers to share offline purchases with friends.”

So what about India specific plans? Sunil Arora says “In the next few months, we will be rolling out our solution in India. We expect retailers to embrace ShopSocially really quickly. Currently, ShopSocially is the only company in the world that offers a comprehensive social commerce suite for retailers. There are other competitors, but no company offers a suite that integrates with the most common user touch points, order confirmation page, Facebook FAN page and order confirmation email. Check this out here

Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter create a convenient way for shoppers to share their purchases with friends. Social networks have made sharing simple. While ShopSocially uses other media such as Google and Email, Facebook and Twitter play an important part in the ShopSocially strategy. Technology wise, ShopSocially has an exceptionally talented team that has built a world class platform on some of the best technologies in the world, including MongoDB, Redis, Celeryd, Python, Ajax, Javascript and others.

So what is the future map?

“ShopSocially will continue to add other social components that benefit retailers. These components will increase sharing and drive incremental traffic to retailer sites. Another dimension is integration with popular shopping carts such as Magento, Shopify and osCommerce. ShopSocially will continue to make integration simpler by offering pre-integrated plug-ins for various shopping carts. We feel that ShopSocially has the opportunity to become a global billion dollar company. We do not need a large team (maybe < 100 people), but we will continue to handpick the brightest minds to work on the exciting problems that we are solving daily.”

The Basics of Game Development – for programmers

(This is a live-blog of a talk Girish Dhakephalkar of gave at TechWeekend #9 on Game Development.)

This talk is an overview of what exactly is involved in game development – from the point of view of a programmer.

These are the major components of game development.

Game Platform

A game platform is the hardware-software combination on which a game runs. These are the major game platforms:

  • Console (e.g. Xbox 360, Wii, PS2/PS3).
  • Handheld
  • PC (Windows, Mac)
  • Mobile (iPhone, others)
  • Web Browser Based
  • Arcade Machines (i.e. the dedicated game play machines you see in video-games parlours in malls)

The platform makes a big difference to the kind of games you can build. For example, consider the consoles. Here the hardware is fixed. This is good because a game is a very optimized piece of software. So the more you know about the hardware, the more you can optimize, and the better will be your gameplay. (Compare with a PC game where it can be played on PCs with vastly different hardware capabilities. Then you end up programming to the minimum requirements, which is sub-optimal for the higher end PCs.)

Game Development Team

A game development team consists of the following roles:

  • Artists – 2D/3D artists and animators
  • Game Designers – Level designers, Gameplay designers, UI designers
  • Programmers – Graphics, Gameplay, AI engine, Physics, Networking, UI, Tools
  • Audio – Sound effects creators, music composers
  • Testers (Pune has a lot of game testing companies)
  • Special mention: The Crossovers – Technical Artists, Team Leads, Tester-Producer, etc.

Not all kinds of games require all these roles. A “big” game is a huge production, pretty much like a movie, and will hence need all these roles. Smaller games can do with fewer.

Interesting points: The Physics Engine in a game is a piece of software in a game which essentially enforces the laws of physics (as they exist in the game world). When you throw an object, how it flies through space is determined by the physics engine. When you fall, what happens to you, how much you get hurt; if you kick a door, will it break. Such things are determined by the physics engine.

Networking is needed in online games. Specially, an MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) has hundreds of thousands of people playing simultaneously, and the various players are interacting with the game system, and with each other. All of this networking has to be managed at the game servers (which are in the cloud) and the game clients (which are installed on the users PC/console).

Game Development

There are two broad phases of game development.

First there is “content creation”. This includes things like creating the characters, animations, levels etc. This happens offline, before the game is “released”. The tools used are Maya/Max, Photoshop, Sound creation tools, and Game design tools. The other big chunk of program in a game software is the “runtime”. This is the server and the engine which interacts with the user and renders each frame of the game, and controls the game play.

The fundamental difference between animation and graphics in games and anywhere else is the “realtime” nature of the rendering. When doing animation/graphics for a movie, everything is computed beforehand, and it is simply displayed/rendered at runtime. However, with a game, this is not true. You need to keep gathering input from the user (for example, the current position of the user), and change the animation appropriately. So, the animation needs to be auto-created at runtime based on the inputs, and this needs to happen at 30+ frames per second.

Going below 30+ frames per second is just not permissible – the game will not feel smooth. Hence, the only thing you can compromise on is the quality/resolution of the graphics. Hence, in terms of pure graphical output, a pre-rendered video is always going to have better possibilities than what is possible in a game.

In any case, in most games, lots and lots of optimization happens to be able to render high quality graphics at 30+ FPS, using the best possible software and hardware combination. Thus, most games will try to use the graphics cards of the hardware to the fullest extent possible. All modern graphics cards are programmable in the sense that common graphics operations (like shaders) can be offloaded to the graphics card. The game engine will have sophisticated software that pushes as much work as possible to the graphics card.

The Game Runtime is broken up into two big parts. First there is the basic engine, which can be thought of as a framework for building games, and has building blocks like rendering, animation, physics, networking, sound. Another major feature of an engine is that it allows easy creation of different kinds of games, characters, levels, and general purpose scripting.

Thus, the idea is that there is a generic game engine which is not necessarily tied to any specific game, and on top of this, various different games can be built by the game designers. Typically, the same game engine will be re-used by a company to build and release many different games.

A game engine will typically come with “game creation tools” which are separate pieces of software which allow you to “author” games. Typical workflow: an artist uses tools like Maya/Photoshop to create the basic content, and the level designer of a game will use the game engine tools to import the basic content into the game. You might create a character in Maya,

Examples of game engines: CryEngine (Crysis, Far Cry, Aion: Tower of Eternity), Unreal Engine (Unreal Tournament, Unreal3, Gears of War. is available free for non-commercial use), Source Engine (Half Life, Counter Strike Source), Unity, Torque (Casual/web-based gaming).

Components of a Game Engine

  • Graphics renderer: all the computer graphics calculations (including ray tracing, lighting, refraction, reflection, etc). Crysis (the game) looks very good because the CryEngine graphics engine is very good.
  • Animation system: Define how your characters move. This includes defining the walk cycle (i.e. one full step of the character walking, which is looped to show a walking character).
  • Scene graph: A level in a game is a huge 3D (or 2D) space, with lots of things – characters, objects, lights. All of these need to be defined and instantiated. These need to be held in memory while the game is playing. Knowing what objects are where, and keeping track of them in memory is the job of a scene graph. The renderer shows you the view of what is currently visible to you, while the scene graph keeps track of everything that is “nearby”, and is the one who calculates what is and is not visible (and should hence be sent to the renderer).
  • Physics: As described earlier, the physics of the game world. When things are thrown, what is their trajectory. If something hits something else, how much doe it bounce. Compute the mass, the force, the acceleration, and apply the Newton’s laws (or another set of laws, if the game world has different physics than our own).
  • Networking: This most programmers should be familiar with.
  • AI: This is what actually defines how different characters (the computer controlled ones) behave and react. Note that you’re not always trying to create reality, or “human” behavior. All you want is a fun experience – not necessarily realistic.
  • Audio: Sound effects, and voice-overs.
  • UI: The interface for the game. Including inputs, options, etc.
  • Scripting: While the basic engine is programmed in C++, for defining what happens in a game, a low-level programming language like C++ or Java is not an ideal language to define the “gameplay.” For this, a scripting language like Lua, or Python is used. Or, like Unreal Engine, the engine might have its own scripting language. Compiling a game takes a long time (more than half an hour for a big game), so you definitely don’t want to write your game logic in a compiled language and require a full compilation every time you make a minor change.

Who would be interested in Game Development

If you want to make a career in game development, these are some things to think about:

  • You need to be interested in games, and should have some knowledge of games. That will make work more interesting
  • You should have played, and analyzed a variety of games – that way you know and understand what are the different possibilities out there
  • You should like working in a team. A game development team can be 100s of people, all working together to produce a single game. And if you’re not really a team player, you will not be able to function properly.
  • Good communication skills. A game development team has people from many different teams, with different backgrounds, and if you’re not good at communication, especially written communication, you might run into problems.

Once you’ve become a game programmer, you’ll find yourself using these skills a lot:

  • Mathematics!!
    • Linear Algebra: matrix operators, vectors, quaternions
    • Co-ordinate systems (remember your geometry?)
    • Trigonometry – basics, like 10th/12th std. level
    • Laws of physics (laws of motion, angular velocity/momentum etc).
  • Programming
    • C/C++. .NET, C# for tools. Scripting languages (python, lua).
    • Object-oriented programming.
    • Writing optimized code

But here is the biggest reason why you should get into game development:

  • Game development is at the cutting edge of technology. All the latest and best technology is used in games first, and only slowly and later does it trickle down into other fields of programming. Game development is the F1-racing of programming.


Lookup these links for some further interesting reading for games.

Pune Students – Become a Wikipedia Campus Ambassador

Wikipedia wants lots of Indian students to be involved in contributing to the Wikipedia, and with this in mind they are starting an ambitious program in India. And this will start with a large-scale, high-impact pilot in Pune.

The basic idea is to recruit “Wikipedia Campus Ambassadors” in Pune, who will find, recruit and train students to be Wikipedia editors, and organize campus events around Wikipedia activities.

This is planned across all colleges and universities in the Pune municipal area. It is not focused on any one academic subject area – but cover as wide a range of subjects as possible. Those in India but outside Pune can register their interest in applying, and are welcome to attend training sessions that the Wikimedia Foundation will conduct in Pune (details of which will be provided to successful applicants.)

This is your chance to change the world, and at the same time significantly improve your resume.

Details are as follows.

About Wikipedia Campus Ambassadors

This will be unpaid, volunteer work. You will need to work approximately 3 to 5 hours per week, through the semester. You can be an undergraduate/graduate/post-graduate student, faculty/staff member, or anyone geographically close to the college/university – the main qualification is that you must enjoy teaching people and spreading your passion for free knowledge.

Last year, there were Wikipedia Campus Ambassadors in Harvard University, Georgetown University, Indiana University, UC Berkeley, and many other schools in the United States. Now, for the first time, they are expanding outside the USA, and Pune has been chosen as a test for this program.

Typical Activities for a Wikipedia Campus Ambassador

Before the term starts: Help identify and recruit instructors on your campus who would be interested in incorporating Wikipedia-editing into their classes.

Before and during the term start:

  • Work with interested instructors on your campus in adapting existing teaching methods to include Wikipedia-editing.
  • Provide face-to-face training and support for the participating instructors’ students on Wikipedia-related skills. This means doing in-class presentations, possibly holding office hours, and in general providing in-person mentorship for students. Prior Wikipedia expertise is not required for the role, as the Wikimedia Foundation will provide training for all Campus Ambassadors – but would be useful
  • Organize engaging on-campus events to encourage editing (and continued editing) of Wikipedia
  • Think of creative ways for promoting Wikipedia in your region
  • Help recruit new Wikipedia contributors on campus, possibly through the creation of a Wikipedia student club
  • Set up a Wikipedia help desk on your campus
  • Be a point of contact for new contributors and channel the feedback to the Wikimedia Foundation and its chapters
  • Recruit and train new Wikipedia Campus Ambassadors

What do Wikipedia Ambassadors get?

  • Increase your knowledge about Wikipedia, free knowledge, and collaborative writing
  • Learn and develop communication, teaching, and leadership skills
  • Create a name for yourself and network with a great team of people within one of the most significant online communities ever
  • Work closely with college/university teachers/professors
  • Receive Wikipedia swag (merchandise: maybe T-shirts, maybe mugs) to give out at events.
  • Receive funding for running events for food, soft drinks, etc.
  • Potentially receive sponsorship to other Wikimedia events, such as Wikimania

Requirements – Who can apply?

You must have:

  • Passion for Wikimedia’s values and mission
  • Patience with people who have varying levels of computer literacy
  • Knowledge about how to edit Wikipedia or the willingness to acquire this knowledge
  • Understanding of how teachers/professors design teaching programs, or the willingness to gain this understanding
  • Ability to transform complex technical information into actionable steps for beginners
  • Ability to give positive, encouraging and clearly targeted feedback to the people you interact with
  • Ability to motivate and excite others
  • Genuine interest in teaching people and organizing events
  • Convenient transportation access to the university campus
  • Willingness to be a public figure (for example, to make known the connection between your real name, your Wikipedia username, and your face. Your role is providing face-to-face guidance to professors and students, so comfort with being “public” is very important)

How to Apply

Interested? Please complete the application and email it to

  • ambassadors-ind [at] wikimedia [dot] org – Campus Ambassador Program India

For any questions, email Annie Lin, the Campus Team Coordinator, at alin [at] wikimedia [dot] org.

More details

See the Wikipedia Campus Ambassador webpage for full details.

Please spread the word

If you know enthusiastic, passionate students who want to do something more interesting with their life than just working in an outsourcing company, please forward this to them. Or maybe you know professionals who’re so interested in education that they spend significant time every week in a University – they would make good ambassadors too.

We owe it to the students of Pune, and to ourselves to make this program a resounding success.

TechWeekend #9 (#tw9): Game Development

If you like programming, then you cannot miss TechWeekend. This month (actually, 10am tomorrow), we have TechWeekend 9 (#tw9) which will focus on Game Development.

A Programmers’ introduction to Game Development

By Girish Dhakephalkar,

An introduction to various elements involved in game development with a focus on programming. This talk would explain the structure of a game development team and how the roles fit into the overall plan. It will also explain the basic ideas and concepts related to game programming, including an overview of a game engine and its working. Lastly, it will highlight the kind of skill-sets required by someone who wants to make it as a game programmer.

Game Development using XNA

By Dhaval Faria.

Microsoft XNA is the game development framework (tools and runtime) used for building games for Xbox 360.

Microsoft XNA is a set of tools with a managed runtime environment provided by Microsoft that facilitates computer game development and management. XNA attempts to free game developers from writing “repetitive boilerplate code” and to bring different aspects of game production into a single system.

2-D Game Development for WinPhone7 using Sliverlight

By Mayur Tendulkar.


We will have about 90 minutes for a session on whatever topics people in the audience feel like talking about. Ideally, we would like you to give a 10 minute lightning talk on a tech topic you’re really interested in (not necessarily game development). It would work best if you’ve prepared beforehand, but that is not a requirement.

About Techweekend

TechWeekend Pune is a volunteer run activity. TechWeekend talks are held on the 3rd Saturday of every month from 10am to 2pm at Sumant Moolgaonkar Auditorium, Ground Floor, ICC Trade Center, SB Road. Each TechWeekend event features 3 or 4 talks on advanced technical topics. These events are free for all to attend. See PuneTech articles about past techweekends to get an idea of the events.

Join the techweekend mailing list to keep in touch with the latest TechWeekend activities.

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.

Fees and Registration

TechWeekend #9 happens tomorrow, Saturday 10am-2pm, at Sumant Moolgaokar Auditorium, Ground Floor, Wing A, MCCIA Trade Towers, ICC Complex, SB Road.

This event is free and open for anybody to attend. Please register here

PuneChips Event: Advanced System Verilog Tips with Cliff Cummings – 19th April

Abhijit Athavale writes:

SystemVerilog Guru Cliff Cummings is back in town and he will be holding another seminar on April 19th at MCCIA’s Sumant Moolgaokar Auditorium, ICC Towers, Senapati Bapat Road from 4:00pm to 7:30pm. Most recently, Cliff was here in November 2009 and this seminar gives a great opportunity for engineers to re-engage with him.

The topics covered will include:

  • New UVM 1.0 overview and comparison to OVM
  • Important OVM and UVM phasing
  • Secrets in mastering OVM and UVM
  • Graceful termination of tests in OVM and UVM with emphasis on the objection mechanism
  • Some of Cliff’s favorite SystemVerilog tips and tricks
  • Some early UVM techniques and best practices

This event is co-sponsored by Qlogic and Cadence who I must thank profusely on behalf of the PuneChips community. It is not very often that internationally renowned experts visit our city and hold free seminars, but QLogic and Cadence have made it possible. So, I encourage everyone who has any interest in SystemVerilog to attend and participate.

This event is completely free, but registration is required. Please visit this link to register and view the agenda.

Startup Strategy Discussions with Sramana Mitra – 17th April

Sramana Mitra, a serial entrepreneur with 2 successful exits, consultant with over 80 companies, and the founder of the 1M/1M is in town this weekend and, in association with Persistent Systems, will hold an event that every entrepreneur should probably visit.

The 1M/1M initiative, was started with the goal of helping one million entrepreneurs reach $1 million in revenues and beyond. The event on Sunday will have Sramana Mitra’s keynote address discussing the 1M/1M Methodology: Bootstrapping, Positioning and Lean Startups, followed by the opportunity to ask questions. Then entrepreneurs can participate in a public strategy roundtable with Sramana to receive some real time coaching and answers to questions about their startup ventures. Up to seven entrepreneurs will be able to pitch their businesses to Sramana Mitra during this session.

The schedule for this program is as follows:

  • 2:00 -2:30 pm : Dr. Anand Deshpande introduces Sramana Mitra.
  • 2:30 -3:00 pm : Keynote Address by Sramana Mitra, topics : bootstrapping, positioning, lean startups.
  • 3:00 – 3:30 pm : Q&A on the keynote address.
  • 3:30 – 4:30 pm : Live Strategy Roundtable with Pune startups.
  • 4:30 – 5:00 pm : Q&A with audience/Sramana discussing the EJ Methodology
  • 5:00 – 6:00 pm : Networking

If you’d like to pitch, send Maureen ( an email.

1M/1M will be working with Microsoft in helping entrepreneurs prepare for the Microsoft Bizspark’s India Startup Challenge. Girish Joshi from Microsoft will be attending the roundtable and scouting companies with Sramana Mitra for the challenge.You can find more about the challenge here

This event is free and open for anybody to attend. Please register here