Sorry for having disappeared for a bit again - it's been a busy couple of months, and this should be an eventful post. Firstly, the acquisition of the enterprise assets of SupportSoft by Consona which I had earlier mentioned was in progress was completed end of last month. In my 8+ years with SupportSoft, I was a part of the early core group that built up our products (1999), took the company to a grand IPO on the NASDAQ (2000), built up our India development center from scratch (2003), and reached a significant milestone with over 40 million end users of our products worldwide. The acquisition by Consona, a growing and profitable CRM products and solutions provider will enable all the value created to go the distance under the umbrella of their suite. As is common with these types of acquisitions, most of our senior leadership team, myself included received a respectful handshake and are on to our next ventures. For me, this has provided a great opportunity to catch up on a long list of things I've been wanting to do for a while prior to taking up something new.
10. Learn a new language. Kannada would be more practical, but my wife and I have chosen weekend French classes. At least that way, the next time we have a fight, I can say insensitive things in the language of love!
9. Resume my food review blog. Two PR firms have gotten in touch with me in the last week about a *secret* fine dining restaurant launch coming up that I will be covering. More to come on this front.
8. Learn to play a musical instrument. My mom is an excellent carnatic singer, and has performed at Thiruvaiyaru and Narada Gana Sabha. While I've always run away from these musical roots over the years, I've harbored a desire to pick up the Mridangam.
7. Reorganize my study. Considering I'm married to Monica, it says a lot about my wife's patience that my study is as messy as it is. I'll try and post before and after pictures when I'm done.
6. Spend time with loved ones. This is always difficult, especially with family spread out, but I'm hoping to start with a visit to my grandmother in Pune next month.
5. Enjoy a spur of the moment weekend getaway.
4. Get fighting fit. Or at least lose the remaining winter padding that I blame on living in Europe last year.
3. Build a killer iPhone app. I've got two really exciting ideas which I'm working on, which I hope to be able to share more on once they are on the App Store.
2. Volunteer for a social cause. This is close to my heart, and I am looking for ways to be involved in social work near Challaghatta, where I live.
1. Pursue joy, not happiness. Fifteen years back, as a second year engineering student at P.S.G. Tech in Coimbatore, I was looking for interesting things to do during summer. I was particularly interested in research in chaos theory and fractal image compression since it was evident that the ability to compress images and video would be important in the future. With the help of one of my dad's friends in Bangalore, I visited the Supercomputer Education Research Center (SERC) at Indian Institute of Science (IISc). I managed to get an appointment with Prof. N.Balakrishnan (then Chairman). Bemused at seeing a fresh faced kid come into his office, he gave me a pile of papers to read and said, 'If this scares you, dont come back'. I didnt sleep that night. When I returned to SERC the next morning, I had crunched through all of Jacquin, Barnsley and Fisher's published work. Impressed by my work, Prof. Balakrishnan gave me an uber hectic summer project working with one of his researchers to implement quad-tree based image compression, which we later published in an IEEE journal. Several years later, fractal image compression lost the race to the joint photographic experts group, better known today simply as jpeg. But the lesson I learnt that summer is vivid in my memory. I live for challenges - this defines me as a person. My joy is in looking back at how far we've come, while still looking out for the next steps.
And oh, I filed my taxes with Taxsmile.com yesterday. I was initially hesitant since I've got a few investments and revenue sources that make filing a little tricky and have traditionally required a grey haired CA. However, I found their site easy to use, and they handled all my needs well. When I had questions, their call center was very helpful in addressing all of them. I got the ITR-V response from the IT department today morning, which is a pretty impressive turnaround.
My wife joined Sungard last month, and really likes the energy of her team. Her office is located in Langford Town, which makes it convenient to make quick trips into the city center. We've been spending a lot more time exploring new joints in that area, and it's interesting how much thing have changed in the last five years.
I resurrected an old IBM R31 I had bought in 2002, and got it up and running with PuppyLinux. I considered DSL, but the pup was too cute. And there we have a lightweight home media streaming solution using VLC.
And now for some 'green' news. We installed a solar water heating solution on our penthouse terrace a few months back. I spent a good amount researching the various major players in the local market - Tata BP, Solarizer, V-Guard, and OrbEnergy. It was pretty evident that OrbEnergy (a spin off from Shell Renewables) had the best combination of a great product, strong customer service and a local presence. The installation of the evacuated tube collector based system went well and was done in a day, but the plumbing changes required to lay insulated KiTEC pipes took a week. And ever since then, we've been getting enough hot water daily for everyone in the family, even on cloudy days. The heating effects are cumulative, and so it takes a few cloudy days in a row before the temperatures drop. As a backup for such occasions, I opted for the electrical heater add-on, which in effect turns the storage cylinder into one big geyser. I am so thrilled by how well the system is working, I would highly recommend the move to solar heating for anyone who has sufficient terrace space. The reasons are simple enough:
1. It's environment friendly! India in general, and Bangalore in particular is blessed with bright sunshine at least 7-8 months of the year. What better than to leverage it to be more eco-friendly by avoiding electricity or gas usage?
2. It's a longer term cost saving measure. We are saving Rs 500 a month on electricity bills, which would give us an ROI in 6 years. If you are planning a new home and skip purchasing geysers, your returns would be sooner.
3. Hot water anytime. No 10-15 minute waits while your geyser kicks off. Or, when there is a power outage during a winter morning when you are about to shower and head in to work.
4. There's always electric backup for those cloudy monsoon months. Like I mentioned earlier, the add-on heating element turns the storage cylinder used by the solar system into a large geyser.
5. "The what switch?" Ever struggled trying to explain to an international guest how to use the 'switch' to turn water heating on? Yep.
As we know, Karnataka is facing an energy crisis this year, and our rural areas are suffering from several hours of load shedding. Clearly, this isnt a sustainable solution, and Manmohan Singh knows it. The 'National Solar Mission', which our PM is promoting promises to deliver 20GW of solar power by 2020, and a proportionate cut in greenhouse gas emissions. Now, wouldn't that be something?