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Thursday, December 25, 2008 Registrations Open

Registrations for the fifth edition of are open! You can register here - is an event that aims to bring together startups, investors and industry people in one location. Its a two day event. The first day will have a number of talks on startups. Usually these cover topics like funding, business plans, bootstrapping and so on. There are also technology talks. The second day has some selected startups presenting their product followed by an open house where you can interact with startups and investors.

This event is the fifth edition of The first three editions were in Chennai, the fourth in Delhi. This edition is going to be held in Bangalore, so its pretty convenient for people from Chennai to attend.

Find out more about here -

The cost of registrations is Rs.750 for one person or Rs.1000 for two.

Again, this is the URL -

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Zebras fight for dominance

Zebras fight for dominance
Originally uploaded by Siddhi
I took the photo on the right in September. It shows two zebras fighting for dominance.

This is part of a complex ritual that zebras use to show dominant behaviour. It starts with zebras pressing sides together and rubbing cheeks and ends up with both zebras jumping on their forelegs. The entire ritual is explained in more detail on this page.

The first time I saw this, I was completely unprepared to take a photo. I have a photo with the heads cut off because I didn't expect them to stand up. I was better prepared after reading about the ritual. The next time I saw a zebra issue a challenge, I waited with the camera in position knowing that they will eventually jump. The result is this photograph.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Chennai OCC November Meet: New venue - Ascendas Food Court

The November meetup of the Chennai OpenCoffee Club is tomorrow. There is a change in venue this month. We are meeting at the Ascendas food court at 3pm instead of the usual location at Amethyst. If you have never been to this food court, then the website has a handy map with the location of the venue. Basically it at Taramani, behind IIT and Tidel Park.

Now if you are unsure of what the Chennai OpenCoffee Club actually is, its a place for entrepreneurs, would-be entrepreneurs, and everyone else involved with startups to meet informally (that means no need to join a group or pre-register and no entry fees). We have a meet on the first Sunday of the month. The meetups are open to everyone. Join the Chennai OCC website to get an email notification before every meetup.

On the topic of the OCC website, I just wanted to point out the Chennai OCC website has a forum, so do join in the coversations.

Plus a new feature that is available is that all discussions on the website are now available as an RSS feed — Click here for the Chennai OCC forum feed — so its a really good idea to subscribe to the feed in your favourite blog reader. That will allow you to keep track of the Chennai OCC forums and, if you have joined the website, you can then join in the coversation.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Must watch videos from DjangoCon

I was recently going through some of the videos from DjangoCon. Two must watch videos are Cal Henderson's talk titled "Why I Hate Django" and Mark Ramm's talk "A Turbogears guy on what Django should learn from Zope". Both Cal and Mark bring in interesting outside perspectives that I hadn't really considered before. Both talks run around an hour each and are well worth watching if you have the time.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Cave Story coming to WiiWare

The most exciting news I've heard in a while. Cave Story is coming to the Wii through its online WiiWare distribution channel. Cave Story is a totally kickass game. It's actually a free game on the PC (Get it here). I played it earlier this year and it was really awesome (Cave Story Review). And it's free. So I can hear you ask - if I've already played it, and its free on the PC, why pay to play the same game again? Hmm, good question. Because its an awesome game? Plus a good way to give back and support the time put into the free game. And there is going to be new content not found in the free game. Can't wait for this one.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Choosing a scripting language

CIO magazine has an article titled You Used THAT Programming Language to Write WHAT? They took five "scripting" languages — Ruby, Python, Javascript, PHP and Perl — and then get Zed Shaw, Martin Aspeli, Michael Morrison, Kenneth Hess and James Turner to write about what kind of applications the language is good for, and where you are better using another language. Check it out.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Originally uploaded by Siddhi
F-16s fly overhead. Singapore National Day, August 2003

Friday, August 15, 2008

Thursday, August 14, 2008

India Unconferences and Events

Chennai OCC isn't the only thing to turn one year old this month. India Unconferences and Events, a group to track unconferences and community events in India also turns one.

Over the last year, the number of community events has increased by leaps and bounds. There is an event happening somewhere almost every week. Unfortunately, it isn't always easy to track these events. Often, you only find out about the event when someone blogs about it after it's over :(

Thats where the India Unconferences and Events group helps. This group tracks tech and startup community events happening around the country. Over the last year, this group has tracked more than 120 events around the country (check out current events and past events tracked by the group)

Once you join this group (you just need a Yahoo ID to sign up), you can subscribe to the RSS feed to be notified of events as they are added. It's an open group, so if you come across a tech community event that is not in the group, you can add it to the group.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The problem with ebooks

The problem with ebooks is that its too easy to lose them. I recently bought an ebook, and now I have no idea in which directly I put it and I can't find it. Rather more difficult to lose a paper book. How do you solve this problem? Do you keep burning ebooks to a CD after you buy them? Give me some ideas.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

From Good To Great ... To Below Average

There is an interesting post on the Freakonomics blog titled From Good to Great … to Below Average. The post talks about how many of the companies profiled in the book are not all that spectacular today.

Ironically, I began reading the book on the very same day that one of the eleven “good to great” companies, Fannie Mae, made the headlines of the business pages. It looks like Fannie Mae is going to need to be bailed out by the federal government. If you had bought Fannie Mae stock around the time Good to Great was published, you would have lost over 80 percent of your initial investment.

And at the end:

What does this all mean? In one sense, not much.

These business books are mostly backward-looking: what have companies done that has made them successful? The future is always hard to predict, and understanding the past is valuable; on the other hand, the implicit message of these business books is that the principles that these companies use not only have made them good in the past, but position them for continued success.

Read the whole post here.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Funny gmail bug

Spotted this in my Inbox today. Although it says -64 mails, all the mails are there, so I suppose its kind of a harmless bug.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Window with Sunflowers and Pine Cones

Window in Roussillon a small ochre mining town. Near the town are some beautiful coloured cliffs.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Chennai OpenCoffee Club Turns One!

It's hard to believe but the Chennai OpenCoffee Club will soon turn 1 year old. Vaidhy and I started it with the first meetup on the 5th of August, 2007 at Subway (Read about it here). Since then, OCC has spread out to Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Delhi, Noida and Kolkata (See the links at the bottom of this post to join these OCC groups).

What is the Chennai OpenCoffee Club?

Here's the blurb from the website
The Chennai OpenCoffee Club is a place for people involved in the startup ecosystem to meet in an informal setting. Anyone involved with startups - entrepreneurs, developers, lawyers, investors - is invited to come and join the conversation.

Chennai OpenCoffee Club Links

Media Coverage
OpenCoffee Clubs In Other Cities

If you are from another city or traveling, you might want to catch up with one of these other OpenCoffee Clubs

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Book Review: Johnny Bunko

I just finished reading Johnny Bunko by Dan Pink. This book is aimed at being a career guide to students fresh out of school and college or for those new to the workplace. The first thing that you'll notice is that the whole book is in manga format which I really enjoyed. It was pretty innovative to try something different to reach the audience. Although the book is subtitled a career guide, it isn't one at all, more like a general life guide. The whole book is pretty short — it only took me about half an hour to read. Thats both an advantage and a disadvantage. On the one hand, it is a bit light on content, making only six points. On the other hand, it makes it easy to read and finish, unlike other books which go on for far too long. Overall, I think it works.

Monday, June 23, 2008

114 Execs leave Yahoo!

Yahoo's troubles seem to be making all the wrong kind of news. Now TechCrunch has published a list of execs who have left Yahoo. Apparently more than a hundred since the start of last year. Thats a lot!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Screencast: Using Amazon S3 with Django

Many thanks to Balaji and CSS for organising the second Amazon Web Services meet in Chennai and to Jinesh for being able to make it. (Also check out my live blog of the event on twitter, starting here)

As a part of this meet, I had prepared a demo showing how to build a simple gallery application using Django and Amazon's S3 service. I've recorded it as a screencast and uploaded it on ShowMeDo. It's really simple to use S3 with Django, so take a look.

This screencast uses the Boto python library for accessing AWS.

Get the Flash Player to see this movie.

This video originally comes from here at ShowMeDo from the Python category.

Friday, May 02, 2008

TechCruch says that twitter is about to abandon ruby on rails, to which Evan says:
FWIW: Twitter currently has no plans to abandon RoR. Lots of our code is not in RoR, already, though. Maybe that's why people are confused.
Lots of the code is not in RoR? I always thought that they had done twitter completely in RoR. Interesting.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Google announces App Engine, takes on Amazon?

So Google is getting into scalable web infrastructure with the announcement of Google App Engine, apparently taking on Amazon's EC2 and S3 services. Having taken a deeper view however, it seems like they are addressing completely different spaces.

EC2 and S3 offer a whole lot of flexibility. They are independent of each other for a start, which means you can use S3 alone, or EC2 alone, or in combination with Amazon's Simple Queue Service. Secondly, with EC2 you get complete control over the image. You can put any programs in it and you can configure them however you want. You can even run anything on the instance from serving pages to performing computations.

Google's offering is completely different. You can only run web apps. It has to be in Python. You have to use their APIs for accessing data or fetching URLs. No sockets, no subprocesses, no threading, no filesystem access. So there are a lot of limitations.

BUT, what you get in exchange is extreme simplicity. App Engine is perfect for web app that needs to store some stuff in a database and interact with the user via a web server - and that's most of the apps out there. You've even got an SDK to develop offline and then sync it online.

Another bonus for Django developers: The APIs seem to be heavily influenced by Django. What this means is that if you are a Django developer, it should be relatively straightforward to deploy your applications onto App Engine. In fact, there is even some official documentation for doing just that.

If you design your application well, it shouldn't be too complex to take a Django app and port it to use the App Engine API, and vice-versa, take an App Engine app and move it to Django on another web host. That way you do not have platform dependence to Google and you can still move to another web host in the future.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Roundup of Barcamp Mumbai 3

Vijay and I were in Mumbai on Saturday for Barcamp Mumbai 3. I had checked the wiki the day before and there were over 600 registrations. Wow. Out of that I guess about 200-220 turned up, which is still a pretty big crowd.

There was some confusion at the start especially with the schedule board with a big crowd putting up sessions only for everything to be rearranged by track so that all startup demos go into one room and so on. Eventually by the time everything started we were running about 90 minutes late. The other problem was the wifi. I asked about five of the volunteers, but no one seemed to know the settings. I finally got the wifi configured thanks to one of the students sitting next to me.

I first headed out to the startup demo track and checked out demos of on2biz, MediaMelon and WikiSlice. on2biz is a workflow management web app. From the demo, it looked like it is targeted towards the sales cycle. MediaMelon is a video delivery network that uses p2p to deliver the videos. I would have loved to have seen a demo, but apparently the firewall was blocking the app. WikiSlice is a UI layer around wikipedia that allows you to browse topics better (grouping related pages, subtopics etc). They have also made it work with an offline wikipedia dump. My initial reaction was why anyone would want wikipedia offline, but the discussion brought up some interesting cases like rural access.

I headed out for the Firetalk track, but it seemed to have fizzled out, nothing was happening there. I went to the tech track. A talk on jQuery was going on but both the wifi and the projector were not working in this room. The laptop was connected to a computer monitor making the slides unreadable, and the lack of wifi meant that the online demos didnt work.

The next talk was on Asynchronous IO by Bhavin. This was a really good talk, and fortunately it didn't depend so much on the slides. A couple of points - having worked with async IO, it really complicates the application logic, especially state management, so thats a tradeoff that must be made. The other problem with not handling each request in its own process is that if there are any misbehaving callbacks, they can bring down the whole server. A pretty interesting talk.

Next was my session on some of the homebrew stuff that people have done on the Nintendo DS, following which was a session on Facebook API, except the speaker didn't show up, so I left the room. I spent the rest of the day floating between rooms and the lobby area.

I managed to catch bits of Aalaap's demo of linkbunch, Aditya giving a session on Startup Saturday and Aditi doing a session on the iAccelerator program for startups at IIMA.

Just as we were leaving, we met Grishma from Whirlybird Electronics. This is a company that builds measurement and control systems for unmanned aerial vehicles. Pretty cool stuff.

One thing I was quite impressed was how many people had heard about Proto. They would mostly go "Ohh you're from Proto." If you dont know what Proto is, it is a two day event that brings together the startup ecosystem - startups, investors, invited guests, industry experts etc - and gives each selected startup six minutes to pitch to the audience. The event also has a series of talks by industry experts on technology and business topics. See the agenda for the previous edition and join the facebook page to get a better idea.

By the way, the nominations for the July edition of Proto have just opened. If you are a startup and you would like to present at Proto, head over to the nomination page and nominate your company

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Yellow burst

Yellow burst
Originally uploaded by Siddhi
Fireworks during the national day parade 2003

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Why doesn't Django find my unit tests?

I ran into a Django gotcha today. I had an app for which it was simply not running the unit tests. The tests were there in the correct location. Django was correctly running the tests for all the other apps. Why was it not running the tests for this one? I checked to see if the app was in INSTALLED_APPS. It was. It worked fine through the browser, and the test code looked good. What was worse, it was working when I last ran it before the weekend. Why did it suddenly stop running?

I got my answer after some digging around in the Django source. It appears that you must have in the app for tests to run. It so happened that this app has no models, only some views that do some calculations. Since was empty, I had deleted it and didn't think too much about it. Whoops! The tests stopped running.

Once I had that figured out, the solution was simple - recreate the empty, and the tests started running again.

This whole thing is really unintuitive though. Who would have thought that removing an empty file would cause the tests to stop running? There doesn't seem to be any connection between them at all.

In a broader sense, any piece of code that uses django.db.models.get_apps to get a list of installed apps is likely to run into this problem. Don't be surprised if you remove an empty and then something breaks and you are left scratching your head as to what exactly happened.

This is exactly the kind of unintuitive "magic" that we Pythonistas hate :) Explicit is better than implicit etc.

What I don't understand is that the list of installed apps *IS* explicit. It's sitting there called INSTALLED_APPS in Why does Django go about hunting through the models when it could just read this value? Any clues?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Has Django reached the tipping point?

Antonio Cangiano thinks so. The numbers used to come to this conclusion are not exactly scientific, but there's no doubt that Django is getting bigger (and better) everyday.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Tracking upcoming community tech/startup events in India

If you've been reading this blog via an RSS reader, you might not have noticed a new addition to the blog sidebar. With the number of unconferences and community tech & startup events rapidly increasing over the last year, it's been getting harder and harder to keep track of what is happening.

A few weeks ago, I created a widget to pull in the RSS feed for the upcoming unconference and tech/startup community events in India. If you visit the blog and then scroll down the right sidebar, you'll see this widget with a list of upcoming events.

The cool thing about the widget is that its sharable. If you click the "Options" menu below the widget, you'll get options to share it in a number of ways. If you would like to put this widget on your blog, click HTML and copy and paste the code onto your blog. You can also put it on a whole number of social networking sites. There is even an option to put it on your desktop as a gadget (you'll need to download some software though).

So much for sharing the list of events. How can you get an event onto this list? Good question. These are the steps -
  1. First, you'll need an account at Upcoming. If you have a yahoo account that should do
  2. Next, join the group India Unconferences and Events. This is the group that tracks the events
  3. Third, create the event on Upcoming
  4. Once the event is created, you can assign it to the group by clicking the "Send to group?" link on the right sidebar of the event page
  5. Once you have tagged the event in the above manner, it will be picked up by the widget and displayed wherever the widget has been shared (pretty cool no?)
So, hopefully you'll no longer have a situation where you learn about an event only after reading the post-event coverage :)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

MoMo is back in 2008

The first Mobile Monday meet in Chennai for 2008 kicks off on the coming Saturday, 16th Feb.


MoMo Chennai Feb 2008


2 PM to 5 PM, 16th Feb (Saturday)


Gandhi Nagar Club, Adyar, Chennai (Map)

  1. Going to market with Nokia - Find out how - Prakash Sayini , Developers Relations ,Forum Nokia
  2. Getting started with WRT (Web Run Time) development on S60 - Balagopal K.S, Technology Expert, Forum Nokia India Team
  3. Building Standards compliant mobile sites for free with mobiSitesgalore - Prashanth , Akmin
If you would like to attend, add your name here. Find the official announcement here.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Screencast on many to many relationships between Django models

My third introductory screencast for Django. It follows on from the first screencast and the second one.

Get the Flash Player to see this movie.

This video originally comes from here at ShowMeDo from the Python category.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

NEN organising E-Week in India

NEN is an organization that promotes entrepreneurship among college students. One of their initiatives is the E-Week (Entrepreneurship week) where colleges conduct activities related to entrepreneurship. This week, 2nd Feb to 9th Feb is E-Week this year and as a part of the E-Week, a few students joined us at the Chennai OpenCoffee Club's Feb meet on Sunday. The idea was to connect students who might be thinking of starting up with entrepreneur groups in Chennai. Also as a part of E-Week, Kausik invited me to give a talk on "Bootstrapping Your Startup" at his college.

Here is a photo of Vaidhy discussing with the students at the chennai opencoffee club:

NEN students at Feb Chennai OpenCoffee Club meet

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Day 1 Photos from

There are tons of photos from the just concluded Here are a few photos from Day 1 of the event.

Ravi Narayan
Ravi Narayan of Mentor Partners talks about "The Role of a Mentor in a Startup"

Roopa Doraiswamy
Roopa Doraiswamy on legal issues for startups

Vishal Gondal
Vishal Gondal (Indiagames)

Rajiv Dingra
Rajiv Dingra of WATBlog and WATShow

Alok Kejriwal
Alok Kejriwal (

Bijoy Singhal
Bijoy Singhal (Microsoft)

Siddharta Govindaraj
Me :P

Gaurabh Mathure
Gaurabh Mathure on the role of design

Chintan Mehta
Chintan Mehta (Yahoo!)

Sujai Karampuri
Sujai Karampuri of Sloka Telecom (Incidentally, Sloka presented at the very first

Laura Parkin
Laura Parkin (NEN)

Atul Chitnis
Atul Chitnis

Surojit Niyogi
Surojit Niyogi on writing Facebook apps

Mohanjit Jolly
Mohanjit Jolly of DFJ on bootstrapping a startup

Samir Sood
Samir Sood (Google M&A)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

DEMO live blog and other interesting articles

If you've been following, you might know that the initial inspiration came from the DEMO conference in the US. Well, DEMO is going on right now and it's interesting to follow the conference and see how everything happens there. So, if you are interested, check out these links

Monday, January 28, 2008

Coverage of the Chennai OpenCoffee Club

Chennai OpenCoffee Club has been profiled in an article on Hindustan Times' Mint business paper. Titled 'Entrepreneur meets turning Chennai into start-up hot spot,' it gives a nice overview of what has been happening in Chennai the last year.

On a related note, the Chennai OpenCoffee Club completed six months after the January meetup. It's hard to think that its half a year already. Time flies. The next meetup is on the Sunday coming up, the 3rd of February. The website has more details and a map.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A whole bunch of events are coming up

Now that is over, what next? I was checking out the list of upcoming events and February is quite packed.

To start with, FossConf Chennai takes place from 1st to 3rd of February. Take a look at the talks that have been lined up.

The next meeting of the Chennai OpenCoffee Club also takes place on the 3rd of February at Amethyst.

The weekend after that sees DevCamp at Bangalore. DevCamp was started after frustration that the Bangalore BarCamp is becoming less technical these days. So DevCamp will probably be a hardcore tech unconference. No "intro to xyz" talks here. Speakers can assume the audience has a sufficiently deep tech background and style their talks accordingly. Oh, and Martin Fowler will be attending as well.

Later in February is WebCamp in Chennai. This camp will discuss different web frameworks. I'll probably give a talk on Django. The guys are working in Erlang, so I expect that they will talk on writing web apps in Erlang. Expect a session on RoR from Vamsee or the RailsFactory guys. The dates are not finalised yet, but I'm hoping that this happens on the weekend of 15th.

(Hint: An easy way to keep track of community tech events happening in India is to join the India Unconferences and Events group on Upcoming)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008 2008 roundup

So another edition of comes to a close. This edition of is special because it's going to be the last one in Chennai. The next edition will take place in Delhi (or maybe Mumbai) in July later this year. Since the event will be moving out of Chennai, there will be a new set of volunteers based out of Delhi/Mumbai to take this event forward.

Now that is done, what is everyone saying about it? In this post, I'll collect various posts on the event from around the blogosphere.

To start with, head over to ReviewSaurus. Mayank, who writes the blog has reviewed a bunch of presentations with videos. So far, reviews of The Viewspaper, Antya, At One Place, Instablogs, and Deskaway have been posted.

Next, Rajiv and friends over at WATBlog cover a number of talks from Day 1 of the event. Take a look at the overview of talks by Samir Sood, Atul Chitnis, Rajesh Jain ( and another one), and Surojit Niyogi.

Gaurabh Mathure gave a talk on Day 1 titled "Sexy. Trendy. Design. Technology." Read about his experience in this blog post.

Sujai of Sloka, one of the companies at the first (and selected for this year's Headstart) came back to give a talk on Day 1 about how unglamorous a startup really is. In this post, he gives his views on events like and Headstart.

Leonard Badi from Mundial Communications (a South African startup) was one of the presenters this time. He has a blog post on his product to follow up from the presentation at the event.

Another presenting company perspective, Arun of, a company that presented this time, gives his take on the event. He's also got Vijay's "The One Percent" presentation on his blog.

Coming to the audience reactions, Vamsee has some hard criticism of the event, saying that it has lost community focus and is charging too much (i.e. become too commercial). Well we did have many long discussions on how much to charge while planning the event, and ultimately it comes down to whether the companies are getting the value for which they are paying. Finances are extremely tricky to manage for an event like, and we constantly have to balance sponsorships and entry fees to make the event viable.

Dorai gives his views on the event in this post, saying that it was difficult not to get infected by the enthusiasm and optimism.

Soham Das has blogged about Day 1 at and Day 2 at

Srinivasan, a blogger who came by bus all the way from Cuddalore to attend takes us through the event in pictures.

Finally, here are some photos of the event put up by various people. Srinivasan's blog post has a lot of photos in it. Apart from that, Swami has put up some photos here and Vijay has uploaded more pics here.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Originally uploaded by Siddhi
Taken at the Singapore Botanical Gardens

10 days to

The third edition of is almost here. Just 10 days to go. If you've been planning to attend, register fast before it closes. The agenda for the event has also been released (Download the agenda here).

The agenda is roughly modeled on the previous event.

On Day 1 (thats the 18th), we have two tracks of talks. One track covers business and the other technology. Take a look at the agenda, because the talks look very interesting indeed. As usual, its going to be tough choosing which talks to attend.

Then move on to Day 2 (the 19th) for the core event. The twenty startups that have been selected will come on stage to present their products, followed by an open networking session.

If you attended last time, then you already know why you should attend this time as well. If you haven't attended before, then now is the chance to come and see what it is all about. You can register for the event here.

PipesCamp features on Y! Developer Network Blog

So I get back from vacation and what do I find? Y! Developer Network has featured PipesCamp on their blog. Super cool!