Category Archives: Live Blogging

Internet of Things: Challenges and Opportunities Jürgen Mössinger

(This is a liveblog of SEAP’s event where Jürgen Mössinger of Bosch talked about “Internet of Things: Challenges and Opportunities”)

About the Speaker

Jürgen Mössinger is the Head of Business Unit at Robert Bosch Engineering and
Business Solutions, India. He has an extensive background in embedded SW, IT and product development. He has been with Bosch since the last 19 years. Jürgen headed several positions in platform and customer product development for control units and was the spokesperson of the AUTOSAR Consortium in 2008. Currently he is heading a business unit at Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions, responsible for products, services and solutions in the areas of Consumer Goods, Industrial Technology, Energy and Building Technology and Automotive Electronics. Beside the classical areas, Juergen is working on Smart Home, Smart City and Connected Industry (Industry 4.0).

About Bosch

Bosch group is a 40+ billion euro company with 280000 employees and 225 manufacturing sites. Automotive technology is their biggest sector, but they’re also in industrial sector, energy and building technoloyg, consumer goods – all over the world.

About the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the term given to small computing devices embedded in anything an everything around us which will all be collecting data about their environment and which will be connected to the internet – allowing for data collection and analysis at a scale never before seen, and of course fine-grained control of the environment.

Things, in the IoT, can refer to a wide variety of devices such as heart monitoring implants, biochip transponders on farm animals, electric clams in coastal waters, automobiles with built-in sensors, or field operation devices that assist fire-fighters in search and rescue. Current market examples include smart thermostat systems and washer/dryers that utilize wifi for remote monitoring.

Opportunities and Challenges in IoT

Here is a random collection of interesting points made during the presentation:

  • By 2020, 50 Billion devices will be connected to the internet. This forms the basis of IOT
  • IoT will be everywhere. Huge potential: Smart Cities, Smart Homes, Smart Industry, Smart Wearables, Logistics (e.g. transport fleets, tracking)
  • More than two thirds of consumers expect to buy IoT devices for their homes by 2019, and nearly half expect to buy wearable technology
  • The wearables market is expected to have reached $1.5 billion in 2014
  • By 2020 there will be over 100 million light bulbs and lamps worldwide that will be connected to the internet wirelessly
  • Just 1% improvement in an industrial setting via use of IoT can result in billions of savings in operational costs
    • $30B fuel cost saving in aviation industry
    • $66B fuel cost saving in gas powered fleets
    • $63B productivity improvement in healthcare
    • $90B reduction in capital expenditure in oil and gas exploration and development
    • $27B productivity improvement in rail industry

Examples of IoT usage in Smart Homes:

  • Appliance Information available on the cloud/smartphones
  • Appliances operate automatically / efficiently
    • Through the use of scheduling or historical patterns or sensors
  • Control House from Anywhere:
    • Customer is aware and fine-tunes the settings from anywhere

What all does IoT need?

  • Sensors: heat, temperature, light and various other things
  • Long battery life; can’t go around the house changing/charging batteries all the time
  • GPS
  • Local Network, Global Network
  • Software to tie it all together

IoT means Big Data:

  • 4.5 billion pieces of content are shared on Facebook every day
  • Youtube users upload 100 hours of new video every minute
  • By 2019 we’ll have 9.2 billion mobile phones
  • iTunes receives about 100 billion app downloads in one quarter
  • Huge in 3 different dimensions:
    • Volume: Raw amount of data generated
    • Velocity: speed with which the data is generated
    • Variety: the various different sources and types of data (sensor data, text, images, videos). Some of the data is structured and lot of it is unstructured.
  • We will need next generation algorithms and tools to make sense of all this data so that we can generate usable insights
    • Software and Algorithms
    • Data Modelers
    • Data Visualizers
    • Data Architects
    • Business Analysts

Actual examples of IoT usage by Bosch:

  • Fleet Management: 10% reduction of fuel cost per trip in underperforming routes – this was in Bangalore
  • 25% reduction of testing time in Manufacturing
  • 33% reduction in calibration cost of hybrid ECUs in automotive calibration
  • 15% reduction in inventory holding costs in a supply chain

Smart Cities:

  • This is a difficult area
  • Lots of countries/cities claiming that they want to become smart
    • Narendra Modi has also announced Smart Cities initiative in India
      based on the PPP model (Public Private Partnership)
  • Main problem is that these smart city initiatives do not have a business model. The investment has to be made by someone (the city, or the company in the PPP) and the benefits are reaped by others (the citizens). There is no direct return on investment for the investor
  • No city has really solved this problem.

Smart Industry:

  • We have already had 3 industrial revolutions:
    • 1st industrial revolution: the original mechanical industrial revolution
    • 2nd industrial revolution: the assembly line
    • 3rd industrial revolution: electronics
  • Now, with IoT we are ready for the 4th.
    • Smart production: communication between each part and the machine:
      • Dynamic optimization of scheduling of processes and machines
      • Customized processing for each individual product
    • Horizontal Integration
      • Communication between:
        • Parts Suppliers
        • Transportation
        • Within the Factory
      • When all of these are talking to each other and we have data, new optimizations become possible
        • Example: +10 increase in productivity, -30% reduction in stock

Converged Infrastructure: Talk by Bala Ganeshan, CTO QLogic

This is a live-blog of an event organized by Software Exporters Association of Pune (SEAP), in which Dr. Bala Ganeshan, Vice President and CTO of QLogic Corporation talked about Converged Infrastructure, which has also been called as Integrated Systems, or Unified Computing Systems. Specifically, he focused on the idea of having compute, storage and networking into one preconfigured package which can be delivered to the data center. This approach provides a major transition that complements the shift to cloud and virtualized computing. These trends together with new I/O centric applications and solid state storage have the potential to revolutionize computing. Many IT organizations have started using converged infrastructure for various reasons ranging from centralized management of IT resources to consolidation to lowering costs. Gartner estimated the growth by more than 50% in 2014 over 2013 to reach $6 billion. Another research firm IDC estimates that, total worldwide spending on converged infrastructure will hit $17.8 billion in 2016.

The evolution of IT infrastructure for the data center

  • Initial system implementations for “open” infrastructure were inflexible, had CPUs with limited power, networking that was slow and unreliable, and storage was captive – it wasn’t easy to share data.
  • SANs (Storage Area Networks) evolved to address these limitations. Here, the data and storage was divorced from the servers, and powerful and flexible standalone storage systems were set up that could be accessed by any servers from anywhere else on the network. But SANs are complex and expensive, required specialised skills, relative high effort to provision new infrastructure, and ended up requiring lots of efforts to manage operationally in large environments. Over time, interoperability between different pieces of the SAN became more and more difficult.
  • Converged Infrastructure was a response to the problems with SAN. The focus of the new systems was ease of use, faster time to deployment, and ease of management.

Factors that drove the disruption of SANs and IT infrastructure:

  • Web Scale: Suddenly, the requirements on the IT infrastructure grew by orders of magnitude, requiring radically different solutions and architectures
  • Open Source: Putting pressure on proprietary solutions
  • Software Defined Networking in particular, and in general Software Defined Everything
  • Storage Scale-out: more storage generated in the last 2 years than the history of computing before that.
  • Server vendors started incorporating storage in their offerings
  • Storage vendors started building intelligence and apps in their hardware

Converged Infrastructure

  • No end user specialized skills required. No zoning, no LUN masking.
  • Automated provisioning: use of single-click, drag-n-drop interfaces for creating new storage and associating it with servers and applications
  • Tightly integrated management
  • Focused on application deployment: the business doesn’t really care about disks and LUNs and servers. They care about their sales orders, and websites, and SAP instances. So all management and deployment should be in terms of the applications, and the details of the underlying infrastructure should be hidden, and automatically handled by the system
  • Combines compute, network, and storage resources
  • Improves time to deploy new applications

Not all of these goals are easy to achieve, but any progress on any of these parameters is a huge improvement.

There are three approaches to converged infrastructure.

  • SAN based infrastructure
    • Where servers and storage an infrastructure unit contains a bunch of servers and the storage is hidden under the servers, and the servers expose virtualized storage
    • This gives a flexible architecture. Servers and storage can be expanded independently
    • Reduction in OpEx
    • Management is convoluted, and is at the level of the virtualized storage
  • Appliance:
    • Here hardware appliances contain both storage as well as compute nodes
    • The convergence across appliances is provided via a software management layer
    • Provides an Application Centric view to the users
    • Fixed granularity of scale – need to add appliances; can’t scale the storage without scaling the compute, and vice versa
  • Open Source Technologies:
    • The kinds of technology being built/used by Facebook/Google
    • This is currently a small fraction of the worldwide infrastructure

A lot of small startups are playing in the “Appliance” space, because the ease of management is an important consideration in the SMB market. Larger, more established companies are doing SAN based converged infrastructure.

Other Points

Here is a random collection of interesting points made during the discussion, captured in no particular order:

  • Although the impact of the cloud has been growing, enterprises have still been slow to adopt the cloud. Security is one of the problems, but also the need to move lots of data across the network is a bottleneck. So, private clouds are getting good traction; and Microsoft is one of the companies that is responding quite well to this demand.
  • For now, applications like SAP will continue to be in-house and will not easily move to the cloud. This is notwithstanding the fact that SAP does run on the cloud – it’s just not an ideal setup. Initially, the applications that are moving to the cloud are things like websites, mobile apps, and other low-hanging fruit.

Panel Discussion

There was a panel discussion on converged infrastructure. The panelists were:

  • Aalop Shah: Technical Director at Druva; handling the laptop backup product.
  • Maneesh Bhandari: Angel Investor.
  • Nitin Deshpande: President, Allscripts India.
  • Viswanthan K: Vice President, Corporate IT, APAC, at Eaton Corp
  • Yogesh Zope: Group CIO for Bharat Forge Limited, and CEO of Kalyani Technologies.

Here are some of the comments made by the panelists:

  • Yogesh: For years, different companies have called this concept by different names. And yet, it is still not something that is really useful for a company like Kalyani. Converged Infrastructure and all this flexibility might be useful for a company that needs to handle big data and lots of unpredictability as far as the storage and compute requirements are concerned, but that is not really an issue for many companies. So we’re happy with the old style infrastructure. Another important point is that the whole issue of “manageability” is more of a consideration in the west. In India, talent is much cheaper, and we don’t have the same problems.
  • Bala: The needs and the trade-offs in the Indian market might be different. While some of the problems being solved by the current players in the converged infrastructure might not be pain-point in India, there are other problems that are faced here. So while the current players are not really addressing those requirements, at some point they’ll start addressing India and then they might make inroads in the market.
  • Vish: One of the aspects of this that has not yet been addressed is the power requirements. The data-center requires a lot of power, and the requirements of a converged infrastructure data-center are unique. We (i.e. Eaton) are now playing in this space, and providing “convergence” not just at the level of the software/hardware infrastructure, but at the level of the entire physical data-center, including the power.

LiveBlog: Intelligence at the Edge

This is a live-blog of the event organized by @NexusVP, with the CTOs of @DruvaInc, @Helpshift, and @Uniken_Inc, talking about “Intelligence at the Edge” – i.e. the increasing amount of enterprise data that is now found in mobiles, laptops, and other devices of their employees, and how that is changing the world of enterprise software.

The panel consisted of these people:

  • Jishnu Bhattacharjee (@b_jishnu), of Nexus Venture Partners:
  • Sanjay Deshpande, CEO and Chief Innovation Officer at Uniken, a Pune-based enterprise security company.
  • BG (@ghoseb), CTO and Co-founder at Helpshift, a Pune-based company that provides a software platform that allows mobile app developers to incorporate high quality customer service and support into their apps.
  • Milind Borate, CTO and Co-Founder at Druva, a Pune-based company that provides backup solutions for the enterprise.

Here is a random list of interesting stuff said during this discussion:

  • More and more data and intelligence is being pushed at the edges of the corporate networks. Translation: Imagine a large company. It has an IT department that runs many servers and complicated applications in their labs and data centers. In the past, most of the data and intelligence of the enterprise was in these servers. But in recent times, the devices in the hands of the employees (the desktops, laptops, mobile phones) have more and more powerful apps, more sensitive data, and more unique data (i.e. data which is not replicated on the servers). This is the “edge” of the enterprise.
  • What does Druva do? Druva looks at data that is sitting on laptops, mobiles, and other devices at the edge from 4 different angles:
    • Backup of the data
    • Data theft prevention if the data falls in the wrong hands
    • Analyzing the data on all these devices and providing intelligence (actionable insights)
    • Being able to share that data with others: colleagues within the company, but also outside – customers, vendors

  • What does Helpshift do? Built a SDK that mobile developers can download and incorporate into their app to automatically and easily get very sophisticated customer service into their app. For example:
    • Reduce customer service calls through the use of in-app FAQs, which can easily be updated by the developer – updates to the FAQ can be pushed to all customers mobiles automatically
    • When a customer reports an issue, the Helpshift runtime uses breadcrumbs to keep track of what the customer was doing just before hitting the issue, so that without any extra effort on the part of the customer, details of the device, the configuration and what exactly caused the bug are sent to the server
    • Now they are focusing on building machine-learning based higher level features. Their bigger customers have millions of daily users and get thousands of support issues per day. So, they need sophisticated analysis to figure out the common patterns.
    • 80% of Helpshift’s market is the US and the remaining 20% is from the rest of the world, including Europe and Latin America
    • 80% of the money comes from iPhone users. But Android is still young, and growing.
  • What does Uniken do? Uniken realized that most of the technology on the internet has been driven by media companies who want to sell ads on their websites, and maximize the number of users, whereas enterprises (like banks) are trying to use the same internet to give a very secure experience to their (captive) users. There is a mismatch here, and what the enterprises need is a much more secure environment where they have much more control over all the pieces in the chain – including the network and the devices being used by the customers. This is the area Uniken is in.
  • Indian market vs US market: In India, there is a software/web/mobile market, but a lot of it is mostly consumer oriented. The B2B software market is still not really well developed, and is it not easy to make much money here.
    • 60% of Druva’s revenue comes from the US, 30% from Europe, and 10% comes from the rest of the world (India included).
    • Druva started off trying to sell in the Indian market. They tried in-person enterprise sales, and had a tough time. In the meantime, they started getting enquiries from the US from people who had simply downloaded their software, tried it out, liked it, and wanted to buy it. Over time, this increased, and they soon realized that US was where the real market was.
    • One of the key things that helped them was that they built software that was very easy to download off the web and install without requiring any help from the company itself. This was unheard of in the enterprise backup business (which was dominated by companies like Symantec/Veritas, EMC etc.)
    • Druva used Google adwords very effectively to market its products. The big players like Symantec/Veritas, EMC have very large sales organizations with great reach, and it would have been very difficult for Druva to compete with them in terms of reach of their salespeople. But Google adwords allowed them to reach out to customers all over the world.
  • BigData is big. The number of devices (mobiles, laptops, desktops) that people are using is so huge, that with even minimal intelligence in each device the amount of data is huge – petabytes.
    • Collect as much data as possible. You will find uses for it later.
    • Don’t worry about where/how to store the data. Just store it in flat files initially, and then later you can figure out where to put it to analyze it.
    • No single software will solve all your problems. Use everything – SQL, NoSQL, Hadoop, etc.
    • What has made this possible is the fact that all these devices are now internet connected, and hence all the data can be collected and stored centrally in the cloud. Further, again because of the internet connectivity, it is possible to push software updates to the devices, so the data collection abilities can be continuously upgraded.
  • How has Uniken managed to sell into the Indian enterprise market? It is currently 100% in the Indian market – and it sees India as a big market, with lots of potential. Most Indian software startups struggle with this (as seen by Druva’s experience above). You need to do this:
    • In any company, identify the right person – the one who has enough vision to do things differently, try new products, and who can also get things done in that company
    • Choosing the right champion in the customer company is key
    • Keep meeting the right people, keep selling them your story, keep plugging away, until the sale happens
    • Think of an enterprise sale as dating with a long-term relationship in mind
    • Have lots of patience. Don’t give up. India is a market requires a lot of patience.

Event Report: Transforming and Scaling Education – D.B. Phatak

(This is a live-blog of the talk D.B. Phatak gave at Grand Finale event of the Turing100 Lecture Series titled “Rethinking Education – Transforming and Scaling the Learning Model”. Note, this is a live blog, so please excuse the fact that it is unstructured, incomplete, and might contain errors. Note: this talk is being live-cast to 30+ colleges and other institutions all over India.)

Anand Deshpande’s introduction of D.B. Phatak

  • Prof. Phatak is my Guru. I have not been his student, formally, but I know him since early 90s and I always go to him for advice before anything important.
  • He did his engineering from Indore and PhD from IIT Bombay.
  • He got the Padmashree last year
  • He is a great speaker and anytime he is going a talk, you should always attend it.

Transforming and Scaling Education – by D.B. Phatak

  • This talk will touch upon these topics: 1) Learning, 2) Education, 3) Scaling, 4) Open Sourcing of Knowledge and 5) Technology Crystal Gazing


  • We are all familiar with learning in groups. Classroom learning. Fixed time slots. Typical: 1 teacher, 50 students, 1 hour. Teacher has (hopefully) pre-prepared the lecture. The students are supposed to listen with attention, throughout the hour, but this never happens.
  • So does learning happen in a classroom? Partially. Maximal learning happens when you try to apply knowledge that you’ve acquired.
  • All the advocates of e-learning and e-everything claim that if there is access to good quality knowledge, that is enough for anyone to learn. This is false. If just access to knowledge was good enough for learning, then librarians would be the smartest people on earth.
  • Learning needs applying knowledge, failing to apply that knowledge, correcting the failures. Without these steps, learning cannot happen.
  • Can an individual learn entirely on his/her own? Eklavya. Yes, there are cases of this. But don’t forget that here is only one Eklavya, but 7 billion non-Eklavya humans who also need to learn.
  • Why do we learn? Primarily for survival. Then betterment of ones life. Two other reasons which not everybody follows: learning for the sake of learning, and learning to advance human knowledge (research).
  • Unfortunately, we seem to have separated “research” and “education”). But research shouldn’t be just the domain of PhDs writing papers. The most important things needed in research should really be included in the mindset of everyone – Meticulousness. Curiosity. Precise Articulation. Diligence. Discipline. Rigor.
  • The most important learning happens from the age of 0 to 5 (-9months to 5 if you consider Abhimanyu), before the child goes to school. Social behavior. Basic Articulation. A second language. Ethics. Humility.


  • We think of education as a formal system of knowledge being imparted through training and/or research. But education is happening all the time. Every interaction with someone else is an opportunity for self-education.
  • Our existing system is broken. Too much emphasis on rote learning. Children cannot apply what they learn. Industry says that less than 25% of our engineers are employable (and apparently the number in China is even lower).
  • We as a society have concluded that getting a degree with good marks implies that your career will be successful. And also, that the manner in which the degree and marks are gained is irrelevant – so optimizations (classes, cheating, leaked papers) are widespread.
  • The teaching is syllabus driven, and the learning by students is examination driven. The teacher must stick to the syllabus because the exam papers will be checked by a different teacher based on a paper set by a third teacher.
  • Is autonomy the answer?
  • The problem is not that our existing system is broken. The problem is that our system refuses to break! It is so well-entrenched. So any solution cannot emerge from complete disruption. The change has to be incremental and needs to work with the system.


  • A claimed advantage of India is the demographic dividend. 300 million people under the age of 19. Educating them well can lead to huge gains for us. But we spend a very small fraction of our GDP (compared to other developing countries).
  • Gross enrollment ratio – the ratio of students who actually enroll for higher education to those actually eligible for higher education – is 60-80% in developed countries. In India it was 8% about 6 years ago. It has been brought to 13-14% now. We are hoping to bring it up to 30% by 2020. Double! To achieve that, we need to double all our educational institutions in 7 years. This is a tall order.
  • Another problem: last year, our engineering colleges’ capacity was 1.45million, whereas enrollment was 1.25million. So, while capacity is growing, enrollment is not growing. Parents and students have begun to believe that getting an engineering degree might not be worth it in all cases.
  • This is the situation with engineering education. It is much worse as you go lower.
  • Think of the problems we face, and the scale of the problems. And we need to solve them at that scale. If we double all our higher educational infrastructure in 7 years, and we convince students/parents to join the new schools, we’ll just get the enrollment ratio to just 30%. And we need to get to 80%
  • Teachers need to be convinced that their main job is not to teach. The main job is enable students to learn. The student should be able to transcend the knowledge of the teacher if/where needed. Also, student should be able to learn in the best possible manner for that student. The manner will be different for different students.
  • Our current education system allows a fixed amount of time for learning, but given that different human beings learn at different rates, it results in variable amount of learning. How does our education system deal with this difference? We grade the students. And denigrate the students who get lower marks. Not just society, friends and family start looking down on the student, but the student himself loses confidence and motivation.
  • What is needed is fixed amounts of learning in variable time (as long as the time is not too long). Is it possible to do this? Maybe – the technology, for the first time in human history, might allow this. Conventional education does not admit this possibility.

Open Sourcing of Knowledge

  • One of the important reasons for creation of the copyright and patent laws was to ensure that after a fixed amount of time, the knowledge contained there is available for all of humanity. But industry is manipulating the system to increase the amount of time.
  • The open source movement, creative commons are ways to get around the problems now being caused by copyright and patent problems.
  • There is lots of knowledge available on the net for free downloads, but because they are not appropriately licensed, it is not possible to distribute this knowledge in a system like Aakash. It is quite likely that the original author would have happily consented to the knowledge being used in this way, but often it is not possible to contact the person, or other problems get in the way. So good knowledge gets lost because of lack of awareness of open sourcing of knowledge.
  • However, if there are companies who are spending money on innovation, and would like to benefit monetarily from those innovations, it is only fair to expect that they use copyrights and licenses to enforce their rights. But as far as knowledge dissemination is concerned, open sourcing the knowledge is what will benefit the most people. There needs to be a balance between these two forces.
  • To do anything sustainably – including bringing changes into education – there needs to be revenues and financial management. But, for some reason, India has conferred a moral high ground to the education sector, and there is a belief that education sector should not be making money. That is not a sustainable thought.
  • Premji Foundation has an initiative in rural Karnataka where they are using computers to enhance education. They’re not teaching computers to the students – they are using computers to improve teaching of Kannada, Maths, etc. The program is funded by the foundation, the government, and the students. (There was a proposal to make this free for the students by taking more money from the government, but they found works better if the students pay.) The foundation has used controlled studies to show that the technology results in significant improvements in education.
  • IIT-Bombay runs a course to train teachers. It reaches 10000 teachers in 250 institutions across India. They’re trained by faculty from IIT Bombay. 4 of these centers are in Pune. This initiative is extremely well received. It is a costly model because it costs Rs. 6400 per teacher for a 2-week program – but by introducing a fee for teachers (because the teachers and colleges do benefit from this program) they’re hoping to reduce the cost to run this program.
  • MOOCs (Massively Online Open Courseware) like Coursera and MIT OCW are a new entrant with a lot of promise. IIT-Bombay has just concluded an MOU with edx and should be the first Indian university to offer an MOOC in about 6 months. Some courses can easily scale up to 1 lakh students. This would ensure that quality education will reach the masses.
  • Sam Pitroda makes a point that students who earn credits via MOOCs should be permitted to transferred credits/marks in their educational instituation. i.e. a COEP student taking an IIT-Bombay MOOC should be able to get COEP credits for passing that course.
  • Currently MOOCs are free, but there needs to be a revenue model for MOOCs. IIT-Bombay believes that knowledge should be free – so all the course material should be available using an open source license, but actual interaction can be paid.
  • But, one problem of MOOC is that often students don’t complete the course, or don’t take it seriously. One big advantage of actual physical classrooms is that in spite of all the distractions, you still end up paying attention to a significant fraction of the lecture.
  • These problems with MOOCs will be solved, and MOOCs will play a very large role in scalable education in India. Via internet. On the cloud.

Technology Crystal Gazing

  • MOOCs will be big – and will become the predominant technology platform for education. (IIT-Bombay picked edX instead of Coursera and others because edX is open source.)
  • Everything will be on the cloud
  • Bandwidth requirements will increase significantly
  • Every educational institution should plan for 1 gbps bandwidth.

Concluding remarks

  • Government must invest much more money in education. Government should not be a benevolent dictator. Education institutions, good or bad, need to get autonomy. Why do we have bad institutions who are simply degree factories? Because industry and society tremendously value degrees and marks. As soon as industry discovers that it can quickly and accurately evaluate students/job-seekers on the basis of their actual capabilities (as opposed to their marks and degrees), universities’ arrogance will disappear, and education will become much better.
  • The same technology which allows us to teach lakhs of students simultaneously and scalably, will also allow companies to assess and evaluate lakhs of students quickly and accurately.
  • Education does not end when you graduate from an educational institution. Education continues forever. Students and professionals need to understand this, and companies need to start focusing on this aspect.
  • Parents need to re-think their priorities. Forcing your child to prepare for JEE for 2 years is causing them to lose two years of their life that they could be using for actual education. And they’re learning to cheat – attending classes and skipping college, but getting “full attendance” at college anyway is being encouraged by parents.
  • It is well established that the best education of a child happens in his/her own mother tongue. Yet, most parents opt for English education. This is acceptable for parents who converse with the children in English on a regular basis. But this is a tiny fraction.
  • Students: enjoy education. Enjoy solving problems. Enjoy life. Dream big. But work hard.
  • There are 300 million Indians younger than 19, younger than the people in this room – and they’re waiting for us to do something for them. Independent of whatever else you are doing in your profession, you must think of making some contribution to making life more meaningful in terms of better learning and better education for those 300 million.

LiveBlog: Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan’s address at VLSI Conf Pune

(This is a live-blog of the keynote address of Prithviraj Chavan, CM of Maharashtra, at the 26th International Conference on VLSI Design that is currently going on at the Hyatt, in Pune. For those who didn’t know, Prithviraj Chavan is an electrical engineer from BITS Pilani and Univ of California, Berkeley.)

The semiconductor industry in India started first in Bangalore, and then in Delhi/NCR. Pune is late to this game. But we have the potential to better than Delhi/NCR, and even Bangalore.

These are the things that need to happen for Pune to become a semiconductor hub:

  • Government should create facilities where the expensive EDA tools are setup, and various companies from industry can sign up for use of the tools.
  • Work on increasing the quality of manpower in and around Pune. We have to potential of having one of the highest ratios of high quality – low cost manpower. We need to work with universities and other educational institutions in this area.
  • We should continue trying to attract fabs to come and setup in Pune

We are a large customer of mobiles and other electronic devices. As we continue to grow at 8-9%, we will become an increasingly attractive market. And there will also be many opportunities to create specialized devices for local markets. This can drive innovation and incubation.

The CM said that he is completely committed to working with us (i.e. the tech community in Pune) to ensure that Pune gets put on the semiconductor map. He announced that any company investing in semiconductors in Maharashtra will get a rebate on their VAT until they recoup their investment. In addition, he hopes that the government will be able to help jumpstart this industry by these means:

  • Government will set up the physical infrastructure
  • Government will put up the initial funding for the expensive tools
  • Government will set up training facilities to get people started on this
  • We should together set up server farms, and other infrastructure needed to get started

Maharashtra is larger than most countries in the world, as large as Mexico, and larger than any European country. It attracts 33% of the FDI that came into the country. Maharashtra is well positioned to become the chip destination of India.

Event Report: Turing 100 @ Persistent – The Theory of Computation

This is a liveblog of the Turing 100 @ Persistent Event.

The Turing Awards celebrate the achievements of some of the most influential computer scientists. Unfortunately, a lot of the professionals and students in computer science are not well versed with the work of Turing Award winners, and since this year is the 100th birth anniversary of Alan Turing, the Turing 100 @ Persistent Lecture series has been started with the hope of sparking an interest amongst the computer science and software community in looking at computer science in some depth.

For each lecture, one Turing Award recipient will be picked and a 90-minute talk will be given on the work of that person. One such lecture will happen on every 1st Saturday of every month until June 2013. The schedule can be see here

Today’s event features a talk about Alan Turing himself by Mathai Joseph, Advisor TCS, followed by a talk on Turing’s Theory of Computation by Vivek Kulkarni, a Principal Architect at Persistent Systems.

Alan Turing – by Mathai Joseph

These are some rough notes taken during the talk.

  • Turing was the first person to provide a mathematical model for the concept of “computation” which could be used for mathematically proving things related to computation. This led to the concept of:
    • computability – whether something can be computed by computers
    • decidability – whether it is possible to
    • He did all of this before getting a PhD
  • Church – Turing Thesis
    • Turing went to Princeton to Work with Alonzo Church
    • Church had proved computability result using lambda calculus
    • Church, Kleene, and Rosser had used recursive functions
    • Turing showed that this could be shown much more simply using the Turing machine
  • Did his PhD from Princeton in 1938
    • Mathematical basis for computing
    • intuitively understandable solution
  • After his PhD, Turing went to Bletchley Park, which had the UK government’s main “decryption” center
    • Bletchley Park was involved in cryptanalysis – breaking of codes
    • Huge teams human analysts worked in shifts to break codes
    • Turing joined and became a leader in cryptanalysis
    • Bletchley Park relied on Turing to invent new, better methods for breaking codes
    • He played a key part in deciphering the Enigma code that the Germans used during World War 2.
  • After the war, Turing moved to Manchester to work on:
    • Computer Design
    • AI
    • Program Verification
    • Morphogenesis
  • One of Turing’s lasting legacies is the study of complexity of algorithms
    • There is a long history of interest in this area
    • Ancient Greeks did it. Mathematicians in Kerala did it.
    • Mathematicians did it too: Cantor, Hilbert, Pocklinton, Post, Church, Turing
    • Given a strong base in 1960s – Hartmanis and Stearns formally quantified time & space of a computation in terms of number of steps taken by a Turing machine to complete the computation, and the total number of cells used on the tape. Obviously, Turing machines were key to this analysis. Without it, characterising the problem would have been much more difficult.
  • Computer Science without Turing Machine?
    • Difficult to imagine
    • Something else would have evolved but:
      • Would have taken longer to find
      • Would have been harder to understand
      • Would have been of less practical use
  • Finally
    • Turing was 42 when he died (by cyanide poisoning – unclear whether it was a suicide or an accident)
    • We can only guess what he might have done if he had lived longer
    • A remarkable mind: mathematician, scientist, engineers and 100% genius

Turing’s Theory of Computation – by Vivek Kulkarni

This talk was an in-depth look at the theory of computation, covering:

  • The concept of a state machine
  • Determinism and non-determinism
  • The concept of a Turing Machine
  • Solvable and semi-solvable problems
  • Godel numbering and Turing machine encoding
  • The Universal Turing Machine
  • The Halting Problem
  • Multi-tape Turing Machines

Unfortunately, the talk was quite technical, and it is not easy to blog about it, especially without diagrams (which are quite important when you need to understand state machines and Turing machines, hence unfortunately, this live blog ends here.)

The next talk in this series will be on 4th August where Prof. Sham Navathe, from Georgia Tech University, USA, who is visiting Pune, will talk about the work of Ted Codd, the inventor of relational databases.

SEAP Book Club Report: “Good to Great”

This is a liveblog of the SEAP Book Club Meeting on 7th July, where Gaurav Mehra, co-founder and MD of Saba Software, talked about the book Good to Great by Jim Collins. The SEAP Book Club meets on the first Saturday of every month at 10:30am in Sungard, Aundh.

This book is the second in a series of books. The first was Built to Last which talked about why some companies survive for more than 100 years – while others die. Good to Great talks about what makes some companies special enough to jump far higher over other successful companies. The 3rd book was How the Mighty Fall – This talked about why some companies, which seem to be doing great, fail. And finally, Great by Choice, their latest book, pulls all these threads together.

Interesting points made during the talk:

  • Good is the enemy of the great. If you’re good enough you will not strive for greatness. Need to be constantly wary of falling into this trap.
  • What you need is disciplined people, followed by disciplined thought, and finally disciplined action which will result in breakthrough greatness
  • This book is based on a study over 30 years of some great companies, deliberately compared against very similar companies which were successful but fell short of greatness. The suggestions on the book are based on what they found empirically.
  • Level 5 Leadership:
    • Personal Humility combined with Professional Will
    • Darwin Smith of Kimberly Clark: “I never stopped trying to become qualified for the job”
    • It’s always we not _I_
    • Usually not media heroes – not many articles will be written about them
    • Have ambition for company, not for self
    • 90% of such leaders come from within the company
  • Larger than Life leaders (Jack Welch, Lee Iacocca) are not good for a company at this stage. Characteristics of such leaders:
    • Took existing large/great companies – did not create the greatness
    • Set up successors for failure
    • Personal ambition trumps what’s best for companies
    • Large acquisitions, which might not make sense for the company
    • Note: the names mentioned above are not bad leaders. But they’re not the leaders who can take a good company to greatness.
    • Data shows that bringing a larger than life outsider into a company is negatively correlated with performance
  • Set up successors for success
    • Humble leaders with ambition for company, not self, do this very well
    • Larger than life leaders usually fail at this
    • Henry Singleton, co-founder of Teledyne was a good leader, built and ran Teledyne for a very long time, but the company did not do well after his retirement because he wasn’t able to groom a good successor
  • Get the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus
    • The great leaders did not focus on what to do. They focused on who should be in charge, and great things happened automatically
    • Having a genius at the top, with a thousand helpers (e.g. Singleton at Teledyne) is a bad idea. When the genius leaves, the helpers don’t know what to do.
    • It’s about whom you pay, not how or how much. The people should be there because they are passionate about what you’re doing, not focused on the salary. “Hire five, work them like ten, and pay them like eight.” This will lead to a lot of turn over, especially in the early stages, but in the long term, this will work best.
  • When in doubt, dont hire
    • Hire only A+ people. As Steve Jobs pointed out, if you hire B people, they will in turn hire C people and your company will go to the dogs.
  • Give your best people where the opportunities are – not where the problems are
    • The CEO of RJR Nabisco put his best person in charge of the international business, which accounted for 1% of the business – because that’s where the growth was. He went from controlling 99% of the company to 1% of the company. The result – RJR Nabisco became a world leader before becoming the leader in USA.
  • Confront the brutal facts

The Hedgehog Concept

The Hedgehog Concept idea is one of the most interesting parts of the book.

The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows only one thing. Focus on just that one big thing.

What you do, should be an intersection of these:

  • What you are deeply passionate about
  • What you are the best in the world about
  • What drives your economic engine

In other words, something is worth doing only if you can do it, you will enjoy doing it, and someone is willing to pay for it. If one of these is missing, dont do it.

Learn to say “No.” Stay with your Hedgehog principle and do not run after the new hotness. Like you have a ToDo list, you should also have a “Stop Doing” list. Your best returns come from having an undiversified portfolio (when you’re right).


  • Disciplined People
    • Level 5 Leadership
    • First Who then What
  • Disciplined Thought
    • Confront the Brutal Facts
    • Hedgehog Concept
  • Disciplined Action
    • Culture of Discipline
    • Technology Accelerations

Event Report: Dr. Ramesh Raskar of MIT Media Lab

(This is a live blog of the talk given by Dr. Ramesh Raskar, of MIT Media Lab in Pune. Since this is a live-blog, it will not be as well structured as a regular article, and might contain more-than-normal grammatical errors.)

About EyeNetra

EyeNetra is a very small, cheap device (that costs less than Rs. 100) that can be clipped on to a regular smartphone and which can be used to detect vision problems including detecting their lens prescription, astigmatism, and even cataract. Since it is so cheap, and portable, it can be used in villages all over the world. In India alone, about 6% of the people wear glasses, but it is estimated that about 40% of them should be wearing them. That’s 200 million people in India who don’t have eye glasses that are needed.

Why is this a big deal? Blurry vision means that a child cannot learn. Blurry vision means that there are certain jobs that a day labourer cannot do. So EyeNetra can have tremendous social impact.

In EyeNetra, the software on the smartphone displays a number of dots on the screen. The clip on device has a number of tiny lenses which are placed in such a way that if you have normal vision, the light rays from all the dots will actually convert on the retina of your eye and you’ll see a single dot. If your eye has a problem, then you’ll see multiple dots. Now the UI of the software asks the user to adjust things until the dots converge and the user sees only one dot. Based on what adjustments are needed, the software will be able to figure out what are the defects in the user’s eye (in terms of spherical and cylindrical corrections)

EyeNetra needs high resolution displays, but in recent years the resolutions of phones have really gone up, from 160DPI for samsung to 300+ for the iPhone 4G. User demand is driving industry to improve the resolutions of their phone. So, every time you use your phone to see video clips and take photographs, you are forcing the industry to increase their resolutions, and will indirectly end up helping people around the world get better vision through EyeNetra.

Netra prototypes are now in dozen+ countries.

The next device in this series is EyeMotia – for detecting cataracts. It is a similar clip-on device for a smartphone which uses similar techniques to determine whether you have cataract. The basic idea is similar – the software draws various patterns on the screen which pass through a specific area of the lens in your eye before reaching the retina to form a clear green dot. If you have normal vision, you will see a simple green dot going around in circles. If you have astigmatism, you will see the green dot going around in an oval path. If you have cataract, the green dot will disappear at certain times as it goes round. This is because at a certain location, when it has to pass through a cataract affected portion of your lens, the rays will get scattered and will not form a nice green dot on the retina.

What else?

The eye is the only part of your body where you can see blood vessels directly without having to cut you up. Similarly, if you know what to look for, you can look into the aqueous humour (the colorless liquid in the eye), you can make deductions about the blood sugar levels in your body. So, the eye is an amazing device, and you can use clever visual computing to do various interesting deductions about your body using simple devices and smartphones.

EyeNetra is setting up a team in India which will work with hospitals, government organizations, NGOs and other groups to take the EyeNetra device to rural India. They tried just giving the devices away to NGOs, but that did not work well – so the current thinking is that it needs to be run like a business using a focused team for success. So, EyeNetra is looking for people who will join the team. A COO, maybe a CTO, BizDev are needed. Anyone interested should contact Ramesh.

Challenge to People – the smart phone is an amazing device. There is lots and lots you could do with it. Think of various ways in which you can use it for purposes that it was not originally intended for. There is the camera, the display, accelerometer, GPS, internet, bluetooth, RF. You can do magic.

Think of this example of thinking out of the box: create a video game in which people with normal vision will shoot one way, and people with abnormal vision (astimatism, color-blindness) will shoot a different way. So you get a medical test done while playing a video game.

For more information about EyeNetra, see

Why Visual Computation Will be Big

  • In the next few decades, the world will move from text and audio based communications to more and more visual information. Vision crosses language barriers, socio-economic barriers, and will help the next billion consumers. Hence, processing visual information intelligently becomes a very important capability.
  • In 6 years, the world went from zero cameras in mobile phones, to a billion cameras in mobile phones. And today, a billion mobile phones with cameras get sold every year. There is a major visual revolution underway, but most people haven’t realized it yet.
  • Hence, the Camera Culture group spends their time exploring various ideas related to visual computing. They spend 60% of their time on hardware and 40% on software. With this, they build crazy cameras – like the camera that can look around corners.
  • Looking around corners: How is this done? Use the flash from a camera. The light hits a wall/door/obstacle and bounces off in various directions. Some of the bounced photons actually go around the corner, hit various objects that are not directly visible, and then an even smaller fraction of them bounce back all the way to the camera. If you’re clever about analyzing the photons, you can actually figure out where each photon has come from and hence reconstruct features of the objects around the camera. For this you need to do an extremely fast camera – which does one trillion frames per second.

Other tips:

  • If you do the work that you’re supposed to be doing, and then spend a little more time doing ‘something extra’, that something extra has a high chance of being noticed. So everybody – do your job well, but make sure to do something extra
  • In a way, it is good to work in an emerging country like India. Here, you are not totally constrained by draconian governmental regulations that limit your creativity and possibilities. Of course, we also have regulations, but they’re not as strong, and not as strongly enforced. Hence, you can achieve much more here, and more quickly than what would be possible in the US. In fact, you can help people more because the Government is staying out of the way.
  • MIT has a $100k Entrepreneurship & Ideas competition every year. This has 3 stages. A 1-minute elevator pitch contest in October, with $1000 instant prizes, followed by a Executive Summary competition in November, with $1000 instant prizes, followed by a full-fledged Business Plan competition in Jan/Feb which has various track prizes, and a grand prize of $100k. Tip: get on their mailing list and you can get an idea of everything that’s going on. So that is something worth doing.
  • If Pune would like to start such competitions Ramesh is willing to put in some money from his Entrepreneurship class (Imaging Ventures) to fund the competition.
  • There are dozens and dozens of classes in MIT for converting innovation to commercial success. This includes basic+applied research all the way to classes targeting people in established companies. What you can do, sitting in Pune, is join the mailing lists of these classes, and see the course material on the web. For free.
  • Thinking about difference between Pune and Boston (MIT) – the same people who don’t do much here go to Boston and do amazing things. What is the difference? Network. Everybody has to go out of their way to help other people in the network – and this has a huge multiplier effect.

Event Report: CEO Mohit Dubey

(This is a live-blog of the TiE Pune talk by Mohit Dubey, Founder and CEO of This is essentially an unorganized collection of interesting/insightful statements made by Mohit during his talk.)

  • “, the story so far: Started in 2005, seed funding in 2006, hit break-even point in 2007, series A funding in 2008, got acquired in 2010. So far, the website has served 3,12,68,180 people.”
  • “Nobody gave me a job. So I had to start my own company”
  • “I was never really good at coding. But I was good at jugaad, and co-ordination. I did an ecommerce course, but at the end I wasn’t good enough to create an ecommerce website. I convinced my teacher that she should do the website, and she would get a certificate of having worked on an industry project, which will help you in your career.”
  • “I am not a genius. I took a two-year drop but did not get into IIT. None of my colleagues in are geniuses. We’re all ordinary people. Who stayed together for a long time. Ordinary people + Years of effort together = Success.”
  • “If you have a purpose, it’s easier to find soulmates.”
  • “For two years, we kept trying to do tele-medicine. But that never really took off. In the meantime, we kept doing software work for anybody we could. Everything we did failed. Co-founders never complained, because we had a relationship.”
  • “Commitment is more important than competence. Sticking together is more important.”
  • “‘We’ll pay you whatever we can pay, whenever you can pay’ was the salary offered to Gaurav.”
  • “In 2005, I went to Bombay to figure out what to do. I told my team to give me 2 months to figure something out. Otherwise we’ll close down the company. I got a Rs. 10000 contract to build a website for a used car dealership. I spent 3 months understanding the business. My team wondered why I was spending 3 months for a Rs. 10000 contract. But the software that we built for the used-car dealership, we started selling to other used-car dealerships. At this point, I was given the advice that I was trying too many things, and wanted to do everything. I should focus. So I decided that I would focus only on automobiles. And thus was born. My team (8 people) disagreed with me, but I decided that they were wrong.”
  • “I sold the software to 30 dealerships. And after a while realized that none of them were using the software to sell cars. We decided that something was wrong. And changed the model within 10 days. We decided to take it to the customers directly ourselves.”
  • “Done is better than perfect. If you launch a product and it is bug-free, you waited too long to release it.”
  • “The purpose is fundamental. The purpose helps you get the right time. Cash? Go to spouse, parents, relatives, friends. If you can’t get money from them, how will you get it from strangers? Also HNIs and Angels. Everybody who was rich in Bhopal, I approached them for money. You need to be able to do that.”
  • “For funding purposes, we made a 60-page business plan. But with the strategy changing every 2 weeks, it was difficult to keep the 60 pager updated. So we went down to 5 pages, and even that was a problem. So we brought it down to 2 pages. What worked? 5 line email which resulted in a reference; and the reference really did it.”
  • “Everything takes longer. 2x or 3x. So stay optimistic about building a valuable company, not about the launch, or hiring, or a big client, or funding, or anything specific.”
  • “Things can change quickly. When that happens, we don’t wait for a weekly meeting, or a monthly meeting, or a big company meeting to decide. We have a quick huddle, and take a decision”
  • “These are the four core values of our company: 1. Treat Others Well. 2. Be Responsible. 3. Be Agile. 4. Company Before Self. These should be qualities you already have before we hire you. These are more important than ‘standard’ things like customer satisfaction.”
  • “By 2020, one of the world’s top 3 online auto companies is going to be from India.”
  • “We had no cash in the bank. I remember going to a dealership one day with no money, and I was thinking that I must make a sale today, and ask them to pay some money in cash upfront. That sort of a situation really helps focus your efforts.”
  • “To share equity in the company, I had a very simple method. Early in the company, you have no clue which co-founder is going to be most important. And the guy with the idea does not deserve more equity – the idea is not important, at all. The best answer is distribute equity equally. You’ll get better commitment that way. For early employees, the people who join the company within the first 6 months, I allocate 7.5%. A total of about 20% to be allocated to all your employees.”
  • “Today if someone wants to create an online store, there is no need to do a website. Just create a facebook page.”
  • “When writing content, focus on the user. Do SEO and SEM, but write content for the user, not for Google.”
  • “There are very, very few tech companies that need to operate in stealth mode. Everybody else should stop being secretive and talk about their idea in full detail with VCs etc. Your execution, your company culture, your method of hiring, cannot be copied. Startups have a DNA which allows them to move very fast and take decisions quickly. Big companies cannot do that.”

Event Report: “Amplify Mobility” event on Mobile Tech at Bharati Vidyapeeth

This Saturday, there was a day-long event on mobile technology organized by Amplify Mindware, a group of educational institutions housed at Bharati Vidyapeeth. This is a live-blog of three of the talks at the event; (which is unfortunately being posted with a 2-day delay because my internet connection did not work at the venue.) There were other talks which haven’t been captured either because I missed the talk (as I had to leave early), or it wasn’t interesting enough, or they were student presentations that were appropriate for the audience but not for this blog (and my own presentation on “Mobile Technology Trends” that I couldn’t blog).

Anyway, here are my notes on 3 of the talks:

Enhance Education’s talk about MyOpenCampus portal and the e-Pad tablet

Lots of people have lots of ideas on how to improve education. And most of them will not work because that’s not what the students want. Amit Sharma of Enhance Education claims that the right approach is to ask the students what they want. And his research indicates that students just want answers to their questions without having to ask the question in highly public forums.

Enhance Education’s MyOpenCampus product tries to fill this requirement. It is an educational social network and content portal that provides content specifically for your degree, your discipline, your year. Basically it is a general educational social network, but it has groups for the specific classes your taking, information about your curriculum, notes, and other study material, and groups of your classmates for interaction. The difference between a general repository of such information from the internet and this repository is that this is found and uploaded by your teacher or fellow-students and validated by the teacher. This is further supported by question & answer forums and discussion forums.

All of this is delivered to the students via the e-pad, a 7-inch resistive touchscreen Android tablet, which is smaller than a book, is always on, is always connected to the internet, and is cheap. It’s portable, can be used for accessing all the data from MyOpenCampus, all the documents, the study material, audio/video lectures, and it can also be used as an entertainment device. It will cost about Rs. 6000, and the first batch will go to Amplify Mindware students in June 2011.

Binoy Samuel from Digital Spice:

Media companies, design companies, publishing companies, gaming companies are all moving to mobile platforms from their usual medium. This is a huge market opportunity.

He gave a few examples of apps that have come through this route. One of the interesting example was of a book called “Bio-replenishment” on Bone Health, which has lots of information about the health of your bones, and what causes problems, and how it effects you. The book was expensive, at $50, and still not compelling enough for readers. They converted it to an iPad app with a lot of 3-D animations to explain the issues, and that is a much better format for this material.

In this space, there are opportunities in healthcare, animation, wildlife, e-Publishing, e-Learning, and retail design.

Anthony Hsiao from Sapna Solutions:

On why becoming a mobile developer is cool:

  • Because it is new and exciting and unknown
  • Because it is a completely new way to try and benefit the bottom of the pyramid
  • Because you can develop things and immediately try them on yourself
  • Because you can use maths and science along with computer science when developing for mobiles (e.g. accelerometer, gps, etc.)
  • Because you want to build things for users. Real users. Non-techies. Kids. And cats.

Mobile development is fast, always moving, high pressure. It’s a lot of hard work. It is not for everyone. Choose wisely.

What will be big in mobile:

  • Money transfer
  • Location based services
  • Mobile search
  • Mobile browsing
  • Mobile health monitoring
  • Mobile payment
  • Near field communication services
  • Mobile advertising
  • Mobile instant messaging
  • Mobile music

Anuj Tandon from Rolocule Games:

Quote: “I was a techie first. Then Infosys made me a donkey. Then I quit to join Rolocule and became a techie again”

Mobile Gaming is a hot area.

In Asia, mobile gaming industry will grown at 73% CAGR.

The biggest entertainment launch this year was not a movie, it was a mobile game. Consumers are willing to pay for quality mobile games ($9.99 per game). There is already good M&A activity in amongst mobile games development companies since 3 years of the launch of the Apple AppStore. e.g. Ngmoco acquired by DeNA, Tapolous acquired by Disney. Freeverse acquired by NGmoco. VCs have already made investments of over $100 in iPhone gaming related companies.

India, gaming industry is worth $7.9B in 2009 and will grow to $32B by 2014. Globally, gaming industry will grow 18%, but in India it will grow 32%.