A Just Harvest Volunteer

Volunteer night at A Just Harvest, Chicago – 15 of us from Cognizant managed to serve 95 needy people in a community kitchen. Prep, serve, clean & mop … never a dull moment. I’ll be back ❤️

Sometimes people are the same everywhere. When you feed the needy, they bless you from their heart. Tonight I hear lots of ‘God bless you, Son’ #blessed

It was 13F (-10C) today and when the first wave of people came in for the food, most people were homeless. I didn’t know whether I was scared or just shocked, people with layers of coats & jackets & overall, anything that’ll keep them warm. With a frown on most of their faces, it shows the hardship of life on the streets. But I’m glad the food & a warm drinks brings little comfort to their lives. Thanks to Chicago community churches, donors, and whoever.

Design Musing – 19 Jul 2017

In my years of experience of working as UX consultant for various financial institutions, it always makes sense to use real data in your design.

I know many designers might not agree, but I’ve seen design demo with ‘Lorem Ipsum’ stuck at first slide, since the client cannot imagine how their data will appear in the design.

Why I Run?

There are cold morning, hot morning, rainy day, sunny day, hangover, muscle cramp and miss the alarm day – More than excuses,  these are the voices inside our head? But when you take that first step out of your front door and hit the street, all the voices felt silent. Because you’re better than what you think you are. THIS IS WHY I RUN!!!
But if I have to retrospect on why I run, it’ll be much more than to prove – I’m better than what I think I am. I started running like most people to be fit, to be a healthier father to my kids. I have never been active my entire life, wasn’t into sports during school and college days. Most days, I was this bloated, heavy and tired man. When my daughter was born, I refuse to be the father who came back home and crash on the couch.
Early 2009, as a new year resolution, I started walking. I was not much of a morning person, so in the evening, I walk 15min in any direction from home, so I could complete 30min. I have NO TRAINING PLAN and NO GOAL – I just want to START. Gradually I was walking more distance in my 30min walk.
On 31st May 2009 Sunfeast Bangalore Run I did 5k walk-run, with some of my co-workers. I don’t know how much time I took for that 5km, but I had the highest high. The carnival like atmosphere, it was a party in dri-fit attires, though I was in a cotton T-Shirt. I don’t know if it’s runners high or the endorphin. But I wanted to do more and that feeling stuck with me. Post that, I regret not continuing with that initial euphoria of running. I was lazy and I needed motivation or rather crudely – kick on the back side. So I joined Nike Run Club, a free weekly running camp organized by Nike at Kanteerava Satdium. That was the best thing I ever did to myself in my entire life.
Nike Run Club – A New Chapter: Under Coach Beedu Sir and the inspiring Arjuna Awardee Reeth Abraham, everyone from the daily grind of life, mostly cubicle sloths like myself were pushed to the limit. Every Saturday morning, I submit myself to the grind. Straight talking Coach Beedu Sir showed no mercy, but no one complains. Because when the session ends at 8:30AM, you walk away feeling like a warrior who just won a battle – the battle against those voices in your head that says – YOU CANNOT DO IT. THIS IS WHY I RUN!!!
First Half Marathon: Dec 2010, one of my co-worker ask if I want to come for the Goa Half Marathon. Though I’ve done few 10Ks, I’ve never attempted that distance and with just about two weeks left, there was no time for training. My wife and kids were out of town visiting in-laws, so I agreed. But few days before our trip, my friend pulled out due to some personal emergency. I thought I’ll drop the plan, but I went alone. I was eager to experience what’s it like to run 21.1 KM. It was a beautiful route, Goan came out to cheer the runners. Once we cross the city limit, it was hilly terrain with steep up and downs. I completed in 3hrs:16m. Though I walk with a limp for the next few days, I overcame the fear of a 21.1km Half Marathon.
Running in Goa made me crazy about out-station runs. There is something magical about running in a new city. I started planning family vacation with running events. And the best sight is to have your kid waiting at the finish line.
In 2012 I ran all the 3 India IAAF recognized Gold Label Road Races – Standard Chartered Mumbai (Half) Marathon, TCS World 10K and Airtel Delhi Half Marathon. Running in Rajpath, India Gate, New Delhi; running on the Mumbai Sea Link, running to the tune of the Navy band playing ‘Saare Jahan Se Achcha’ . These are moments that I will cherish forever.
For me running is such a humbling experience. When you doubt yourself wondering how you’ll do a 21km if you’re losing steam in the first 5km. Your body responded with a rhythmic thump of your heart and legs and your spirit soar. I no longer run to the music of my MP3 player, there is more beauty in the rhythm of your heart and the cheer of friends and complete strangers. To experience this is a powerful feeling, strong enough to have us coming back, again and again, for more1.  THIS IS WHY I RUN!!!
To me the Half Marathon distance of 21.1KM, is the perfect distance of endurance and fun. I’m still not the fastest man in the block, my Half Marathon time is still a humble 2hr:42min but I’m in better p(l)ace than the day I started.
John Bingham — ‘The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.’
Running in Infosys: I’m not much of social runner and you’ll still see me running alone in Cubbon Park. But since I came to know of Infosys running group HappyFeet. I have met some of the nicest people, ran some of my most enjoyable runs. Running is now a regular party in dri-fits – cotton T-shirts allowed. There are no Terms & Conditions, just a smile to cheer, the will to start and the courage to shut those voices inside your head. THIS IS WHY I RUN!!!
If you’re still sitting on the fence, thinking to run or not. Tell yourself, there might be thing impossible, but contemplating is futile. How would you know if you don’t even try? You’re better than you think, you are.

Graph Database – An Intro

Image: NY Times

I bet many people use the term Google as synonym for Web Search. And we couldn’t undermine the fact that Google is going beyond mere Search of matching words.

Now, if I Google ICE-CREAM, it is giving me option of cup or waffle cone, flavors and the nearest location where I can enjoy a nice ice-cream; plus history of ice-cream and the not so good news of the calorie content. To visualize how Google is fetching the result, imagine the internet as one big humungous database and Google’s web crawlers spinning it’s web. Earlier they were only crawling, now they’re connecting. And CONTEXTUAL is the word that comes to your mind. But ever thought how do contextual work in search?

Life beyond tabular data:
The internet is too big a database, to understand better lets scale down. Imagine team members in a database, what do you see – a tabular data? Now if you’re the person who is creating this, you would have already defined the data structure, like Name, Role, Location, Project etc. etc. But it lacks flexibility and agility of today’s fast moving info.

From Mashable: “Relational databases are great if you’re storing tabular data. But surprisingly — or maybe not so surprisingly — much of the real world is not a table.“

Welcome Graph Database:
In Graph Database data are entered as Nodes and Relationship. And it turns out that graphs are a very intuitive way to represent relationships between data. Graph theory dates back to 1735, when Leonard Euler solved the Seven Bridges of Königsberg problem by devising a topology consisting of nodes and relationships.

From Neo4J: “A graph database stores data in a graph, the most generic of data structures, capable of elegantly representing any kind of data in a highly accessible way.”

Some of the best-known uses of graph databases include Google’s Knowledge Graph, Facebook’s Social Graph and Twitter’s Interest Graph.

Now the ICE-CREAM:
Coming back to the ICE-CREAM, ever wondered the journey of an ice-cream right from milking the cow to final payment at the check-out counter, it’s all NODES and RELATIONSHIPS.

Scratching the Surface

A few days back the whole tech world ignored Steve Ballmer’s exuberance and stood in awe at the Microsoft Surface launch. In awe, because it something they hadn’t expect, they didn’t know how to react.

To compete with Apple in their own game, Microsoft instead of a spec bump, ramp up their own game – Redefine PC, yes the very PC Apple mocked in their series of ad. So during Surface launch, the spotlight was not on some insanely high resolution screen, processor, RAM or Gorilla glass but instead on a KEYBOARD and a flip KICKSTAND.

So that’s a 3mm TouchCover keyboard and a flip kickstand which flush collapse with the VaporMg casing. And of course, the OS Windows 8 just the bare minimal, a total opposite from the skeuomorphic Apple UI.

Struggling Blackberry might be right, when they say at one point in time, that soft keyboard (or touch keys) are not very good for typing. And accessories makers have already flooded the market with iPad keyboard without much success, just because iPad was never meant to replace THE PC (Personal Computer or Computing). And with Surface, the 3mm TouchCover keyboard is quite an ENABLER, not an accessory.

Microsoft Surface was not the first with keys, Asus Transformer tablet tried the keyboard way but Android just couldn’t lift the morale. Going by great reviews of Windows 8 and it’s user base, this might be Microsoft’s return ticket to lost glory.

In recent times, without the rockstar aurora of Steve Jobs’ reality distortion field, Apple seems to be blurring the thin line between a Mac Air and the Next Gen Mac Pro. Microsoft has taken a leaf from Apple and get both the hardware and software together with Surface.

Yesterday 6/21/2012, when Microsoft announce Windows 8 Phone, many crib that people who’d already bought Windows phone will not be able to upgrade to Windows 8. But what’s noteworthy is, Windows 7 platform was from a bygone era when bellbottoms were in vogue and Bill Gates was not into philanthropy (might be wrong about the philanthropy ;) don’t sue me). And to ramp up the game, Microsoft needed to rethink to survive.

I’m not an Apple hater, actually an admirer and Steve Ballmer didn’t sponsor this blog , thought I would have written longer if they’d sponsored :P But I like to watch someone take on the mighty Goliath (Apple) in their own game, after all racing improves the breed.

My only wish for Microsoft, is not to launch too many variant and kick the very daylight out of the decision making grey matter, from simple consumer like myself.

Now coming back to the Surface, what remains to be seen is – did Surface only scratch the surface or can Microsoft beat Apple with a keyboard? But whoever wins, Design Triumphs!

Remembering Steve Jobs

Image: Forbes

Steve Jobs 1955-2011

Here’s to the crazy ones.The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently.They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo.

You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things.

They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward. Maybe they have to be crazy.

How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?

We make tools for these kinds of people. While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Aaron Haobam

I’m a Dad again for the second time. Aaron Haobam, my son born Thursday, 28 July 2011. Airi, my daughter, is excited of her younger brother. Me and my wife Khumanleima is so happy to have Aaron.

Have a Meeting

Found this image floating on the net. Please take it with good humor, since most of us endure meeting in our daily work. And in my kind of job, we normally have lots of discussions and think-out-loud sessions. Cheers