Success

sunset-people-sun-men_blog
Just last week 13 Llama Studio went on a team lunch to Jughead’s at Marol. Much eating, drinking, and merrymaking ensued. The team talked, bonded, took selfies, groups selfies, chugged whatever liquids each one pleased, and ravaged through plates and plates of delicious food. In short, we had fun.

But there had to be some serious discussions as well along with the fun.

I have been thinking for the past few days about how I would define success for 13 Llama Studio. And I have finally settled on five metrics that will define if we are doing well.

  1. Volumes: the most obvious metric. Quantum of business. Amount of sales. Top line. Revenues. How much money we were able to extract from all our clients combined within a said period of time.
  2. Community: being known and appreciated in a product/developer community. With Prasad and I speaking at the Mumbai WordCamp, 13 Llama hosting quite a few WordPress meetups at our office, and sponsoring the Pune WordCamp, I think we have made a good beginning here.
  3. Clientelle: by design or by happenstance, we are strong in three verticals: Education, Healthcare, and Media. In September, we were able to say that we are working for a marquee name in each of these three verticals. We’ll expose these relationships later on when the time is right. 🙂
  4. Product Success: our key point of introduction when meeting someone new is that we are a product development studio, or more accurately a product development team for hire. We have tried our hands at projects which had the potential to be great products. Some of these were launched, and some of these could not be, for various reasons. Right now the team is working on three new product ideas, and we are gung-ho about making each of these a success.
  5. A Kick-Ass Team: And finally, the key ingredient that will make each of the above four a possibility. A team which is competent, dedicated, dynamic, always learning, always improving, and always ready for a challenge. I can confidently say that each of our team members has the potential to be a superhero that such teams comprise of, but there is still a journey ahead of each one of us before we can with full honesty say that we are superheroes. Also, the team isn’t complete yet. We are looking for superheroes, or potential superheroes who can take 13 Llama Studio to the heights we have dreamt of. So if you think you are someone who fits the bill and would love to work with us, 13 Llama Studio’s Careers Page.

Here’s to a bright and exciting future!

छपा: हिजरत से पहले

पढ़ने की आदत बचपन से ही लगी, थैंक्स टू हमारे दोनें चाचाजी, जिन्हें प्यार से हम मंझले और छोटे पापा कहते हैं.
और कलकत्ते में रहने वाला पढ़ाकू बालक जनवरी-फरवरी के पुस्तक मेले से अनभिज्ञ रह सकता है भला?

बरसों तक हर बरस कलकत्ते के प्रचण्ड पुस्तक मेला, उर्फ़ बोई मैला, उर्फ़ बुक फेयर में लिटरली खाक छानी, क्योंकि उन दिनों ये धूल से लबालब कलकत्ता मैदान में आयोजित हुआ करता था.

और इसी मेले में एस्ट्रिक्स, टिनटिन, आर्चीज़, और चमकीली विदेशी किताबों के साथ एक छोटे-से हिंदी कोने में पाँच-छ: दुकानों पर हिंदी की किताबें बाँचने और खरीदने की लत पड़ी. उन्हीं दुकानों में से एक था राजकमल प्रकाशन. किताबों और लेखकों की मेरी पसंद की गहराई नापी, तो पाया कि सारा मेला एक तरफ और राजकमल का स्टॉल एक तरफ. साल-दर-साल मेले से आने वाले झोलों में राजकमल की किताबें ही आधी जगह लेती रहीं.

आज भी, कलकत्ते वाले मकान में भी, और यहाँ बंबई में मेरे हर घर के बदलाव पर मेरे साथ फिरने वाली मेरी निजी लाइब्रेरी में भी अधिकतर किताबें राजकमल की ही होंगी.

खैर, लंबी रही भूमिका. तो आज की डाक से मुझे मिला एक प्यारा तोहफा, राजकमल के दफ्तर से, जो कि आज मेरे रोमांच का कारण बना हुआ है. तोहफे में है, उनके द्वारा प्रकाशित किताब, वंदना राग की हिजरत से पहले, क्योंकि उस के कवर पे जो गुलमोहर के फूल की तसवीर है, वह खाकसार की खींची हुई है, एक प्रति रवीश कुमार की लप्रेक किताब, इश्क़ में शहर होना, क्योंकि मानार्थ, और एक चेक, जो कि उस गुलमोहर के फूल के सदके है.

rajkamal

WordCamp 2015 Mumbai

It’s official.

I’m speaking at the WordCamp 2015 in Mumbai. It’s being held on the 7th and 8th of March 2015, at Manik Sabhagriha Auditorium in Bandra.

The topic of my talk is WordPress as the backbone of a mobile app.

Do try to make it if you’re interested in WordPress, mobile app development, PHP, or programming. It’s one of the most high-power events for software professionals in India, and you can expect to hear and meet inspiring professionals working in the WordPress ecosystem and in software development for the two days of the event. And it’s right next to the Bandra Candy’s if you need more incentive to attend 🙂

See you there.


Update: Prasad is speaking there as well. Now you have two reasons to come attend it 🙂

My Top 5 Electronic Devices

During my college days, my friends used to often call me Mr. Gadget. That’s because the desk in my hostel room always used to be covered in electronics, black wires, all jumbled up, and from within it, I used to draw devices like a Palm PDA, a CDMA USB dongle (this was 2005, so it was all red-hot-new!), and dazzle them all.

Years have passed, and so the gadgets have changed. But I have become more productive with them, and my relationship with them has become more meaningful than ‘the latest available, just out of curiosity’.

So here’s my top 5 gadget list that I’m using as of now.

1. The MacBook Pro
I had always been a PC user. Half of the time I was forced to use Windows. The other half I used different flavours of Linux, for some time Red Hat, some time Ubuntu, and most of the time OpenSuSE.

Well, that changed in the middle of 2011, when I finally decided to buy a MacBook. It’s a 13″ MacBook Pro, now souped up with 6GB RAM and an additional 120GB Intel SSD, which make it all the more fast and a pleasure to work with.

2. The Phones
At present I’m using a Karbonn A9+, which was a distress purchase from Croma, because my 4 year old Nexus One had refused to charge that day, and I needed a phone.

Before this, I was using a Motorola Defy+. An awesomely rugged phone, which did not fear water, dust, or any such thing specified in its manual. Too bad it had to go to the repair shop, because one night I dropped it from four feet and it landed face-down and its glass panel cracked. Gave an effect of an awesome psychedelic wallpaper though.

3. The Battery Pack
In this age of smartphones, where screen sizes are getting bigger and processors are getting faster, battery capacity is hardly able to keep up. Most smartphones die within 12 hours of charging them full.

This gave rise to a new category of mobile electronics – the USB battery pack. You charge it at home when you charge your phone. When you leave home, you carry it along with you, and when your phone’s battery is about to die, you plug it in the battery pack and turn the pack on. Voila! Instant charging without being tied to a wall. It’s like carrying an extra bottle of charge along for when your Camelbak runs out of charge.

Mine is a CoolerMaster Choiix Power Fort 5.5Wh. Why did I buy this one? Because it’s tiny enough to fit in my pockets along with the phone, and it came in my budget.

4. The iPod
This was my first ever Apple device. And I bought it only because it offered me the largest capacity to store my entire music collection, and was still the best on the price/GB scale. Moreover, its battery has lasted me well, though it shows fatigue nowadays (This iPod Classic 120GB is 4 years old).

5. The Camera
I own a Nikon D90. In its time it was a game changer. And it’s not a bad performer now either. This isn’t a device I use daily, but it’s important enough for me to make the list.

Now, out of these 5, I have bought at least 3 (4 if you ignore the Karbonn and consider the Motorola) online – the laptop, the camera and the battery pack. In addition, I have bought innumerable memory cards, for the camera and for the phones, cables, chargers, flashguns, flash controllers, studio equipment, old lenses, new lenses, all online.

Yes, online. I believe that retail has matured enough in India for us to buy even high value things such as these, online. Except for maybe clothes, shoes etc. (where you would like to hold and feel the product, and maybe try it for fit), I think everything else can be bought online, what with trusted platforms like Flipkart, eBay, SmartShoppers ensuring that we get value for our product, get it in time, and any complaints we might have are resolved. Even though I haven’t yet, but people have been buying even clothes and shoes online, now that Jabong and Myntra are here.

There’s another reason I bought these things online. It’s cheaper. Yes, most of the time it’s cheaper than buying from a brick-and-mortar store. I’m not talking about the convenience of comparing and ordering, or about the opportunity cost of driving down to a store. I actually got these products for lesser rates than I would have gotten them offline. Many a times it’s because the vendor passes on some savings to us, but quite often it’s because I come across a deal. For example, the now almost famous laptop sale period on eBay, where I bought my MacBook and where I send my friends to buy their MacBooks from, or Flipkart’s birthday music giveaway.

There are three ways I find such deals:

  1. Mailers: eBay regularly sends out mailers with coupons for specific discounts on specific categories. I just try to time my purchases with the validity of these coupons.
  2. Sites: This is another way I get coupons and deals for my purchases: by looking for them online. There are quite a few coupon & deal aggregators online, like Cuponation.in, and a few others, where I look for deals for the product I’m looking for at the shop I’m looking to buy it at.
  3. Phone recharge: Vodafone and Reliance (that’s all I know of) often give out coupons of eBay and other shopping portals when you recharge your phone connection from their site. It’s quite handy when you have to buy something in the range of Rs. 300 to say Rs. 2000, because the discount is not a percentage, but it’s often a flat Rs. 100 discount.

Home, now.

Home, now.
Bombay. The city I have been in love with as long as I can remember. The city which has eluded me for long till a few weeks ago. And today, I have completed two weeks here.

I take this chance to welcome myself to Mumbai.

PS: If you’re around, I’d love to meet up for some conversation over coffee (or cutting chai maybe). Ping me on @hypnosh

The FizzBuzz Test

While reading Jeff Atwood’s blogpost entitled Why Can’t Programmers Program? I thought of testing whether I can pass the simple FizzBuzz test for programming he mentions. You can read the details of the test on his blogpost.

So I wrote a script in PHP, the language I am currently active in, to do what the test asks us to do.

But then, why stop at just solving the problem when you can optimize code for timepass?

I began with a 24 line-long (without counting empty lines) chunk of indented code, using a simple for loop and a bunch of if statements. But then I wanted to reduce the size of the code, so I decided to use the shorthand for if, and get rid of variable assignments that don’t “do” anything really. Now I am down to 5 lines of code, including the two lines of the for loop.

Turns out I am a programmer (though not formally educated as a programmer), and a good one at that – I passed the FizzBuzz Test!! 🙂 Do I get a job as a programmer now? 😛

Here is the output of the script (yes, the script ran when you loaded this page):

[php]
for ($j = 1; $j<=100; $j++) {
$fizz = ( $j % 3 == 0 ? 1 : 0 );
$buzz = ( $j % 5 == 0 ? 1 : 0 );
echo ($fizz + $buzz == 0 ? “$j
” : ($fizz == 1 ? “Fizz” : “”).($buzz == 1 ? “Buzz” : “”).”
“);
}
[/php]

Recaptured’s Magazine Interview

Bucket lists make for interesting reads. They give an insight into the character and personality of the person who wrote it.

A middle class Indian boy like yours truly who grew up on a staple diet of books and magazines more than cable television has a particular kind of bucket list. So far two items had been crossed off it: getting published and lighting the lamp at a government institution’s festival. The former was a happy moment, the latter an embarrassing one. But that’s a story for another time. It’s time to tell you about the third item that has been ticked off the list.

3. Interview in a major national magazine

Pool is one of India’s leading creative arts & design magazines. And owing to the fact that it has been started by Sudhir Sharma himself, it’s immensely popular in the professional design community.

They have been kind enough to feature my interview in the March 2012 issue. You can contact them for purchasing a copy, or simply read the issue online here – the interview appears on page 12 onwards in the print magazine, which corresponds to page 14 onwards online.

Please read, comment and share 🙂

Getty, Finally!

When I started photography 4 years ago, I had a wishlist of achievements. One of those got ticked off some time last month.

Getty has been a company I’ve dreamt of contributing to so often. When Flickr started their partnership with Getty, I signed up eagerly. I kept submitting my images for consideration for over 2 years, only to not receive any communication from them. Till January 2012.

It is such an amazing feeling to see my photographs with the GettyImages watermark as part of the Getty collection!

You can check out & licence my images by clicking this link:

I'm a Getty Images Artist