Technical

 

Here, you will find all the technical documents that I wrote over the years that I can place in public view.

  • Standardization: What and why When I was a student at IIT Madras, my dream place to work was Bell Labs. Eventually, after a PhD, I ended up there. One of the preliminaries was getting a phone instrument. They told me that it would take a week to get a phone assigned. A world class phone company, taking that long ...
  • In the beginning, there was command line… During the heydays of Linux, Neal Stephenson wrote an essay called “In the beginning, there was command line”, about operating systems. The point was not so much about command line; and he eventually said that he does not stand by that essay, after using OS/X. Still, after many years of using Unix, I resonate with ...
  • My GPU server As I have been dabbling in machine learning, I decided to build a GPU machine. Over the weekend, I built one for myself. I wanted to share the details with others so that they can make the right choices. A key part of machine learning is to do lot of mathematical computations. As you are training ...
  • Winners don’t take all, or improve the averages Let me ask a question: name one south Korean computer science professor that is big all over the world? Or, even manager? Quick. I could not. On the other hand, name some Indian scientists or leaders. You can name several. But, name on Indian company that is world class in innovation? None come to mind ...
  • Sustainable systems in IT Recently, I was asked a question: how do you create a sustainable knowledge management? The answers that they previously got apparently were on these lines:  of different knowledge management systems, the processes, the governance, the artifacts they would produce and the structure of the dedicated team that works on this knowledge management. Mind you, this ...
  • Customer centric IT: What is all that about? Every company claims to be customer centric these days. But, then, if you look back, companies always claimed to be customer centric. “We are focused on what the customer wants, right?” They say. In fact, it was and is the bed rock of American industry, we are told. All true. In deed, organizations have been focused ...
  • Return of static web sites What if I were to tell you that the e-commerce site you’ve been developing could be hosted on a static website that would offer it premier performance? Or that the document management system could be run on any plain, old static server like Apache, nginx? Stick with me and we’ll explore this topic. This information ...
  • 2014: A personal technology journey Because of Facebook, I have been in constant touch with friends, acquaintances and even people that I did not meet. I am using this annual letter as a way of summarizing, introspecting, and filling in the gaps in my usual communications about technologies to friends. It is heavily slanted towards technology, not the usual intersection ...
  • Intentional training: Learning with a purpose I looked at the way that the corporate training happens in technology areas and I find them wanting in several respects. This is my attempt at a bringing some best practices to corporate or institutional training. Most corporations have training programs, especially the ones that deal with IT technologies. The goal of these trainings is to ...
  • Consumerization of IT: what it is and how it impacts you You are the CIO. Or, the director of application development. You hear about consumerization of IT, in different contexts. You hear about mobile applications developed by teenage kids in only months, and these apps are used by millions of adoring people. And, your business people are demanding why can’t be more like those kids. What ...
  • Engineers guide to understanding web design All of us developers can write code. We need designers for the look,feel, page designs, and flows. To get the services of a web designer, often we need to do a prototype. If the design is bad, nobody may even see the potential of the website. For a lot of web apps, there may not ...
  • My own private lab under $1K Every once in a while, I get the urge to work with computers. I want to get my hands dirty, figuratively, and dig into the details of installation, configuration, and execution. This experimentation comes in handy when we discuss the trends in the enterprise. Typically, we neglect processes when we do small scale experiments, but ...
  • Moving applications to Cloud There is a lot of interest in moving applications to the cloud. Considering that there is no unanimous definition of cloud, most people do not understand the right approach to migrate to the cloud. In addition, the concept of migration itself is complex; what constitutes an application is also not easy to define. There are different ...
  • Big data: Review of Strata Conference 2014 I attended Strata last week (Feb 11-13) in Santa Clara, CA, a big data conference. Over the years, it has become big. This year, it can be said to become mainstream — there are lot of novices around. I wanted to note my impressions for those who would have liked to attend the conference. ...
  • Knights Templar to APIs: Banking for the masses The usability of banking took a big leap, with the invention of branch office. In modern times, in the 12th century, the Templars created a network of branches, taking the banking business to where there is a need – for instance to middle east and England. They allowed the movement of funds, currency conversion, and ...
  • Healthcare.gov– a tech discussion This post has nothing to do with whether “obamacare”  is good or bad. It is only about the discussion of the technology stack and the details of it. At $634M, it is one of the costlier government projects. At its launch, it ended up failing for several users. Even now, they estimate 5M lines of code ...
  • Let’s talk numbers We don’t talk numbers enough, in software business. You walk into a store to buy a gallon of milk and you know the price. You ask a software consultant how much the solution costs and he says, “it depends”. You cannot even get him to state assumptions and give a reasonable price. At IITM, I heard ...
  • Showing demos behind a firewall: A note to the novice Suppose you developed a website to show to others. You have it running on your laptop. What choices do you have? You can setup a livemeeting:  This is what we seem to do in most companies. That means you are going to show the demo. Unless you are going be physically there, they cannot access it. If the ...
  • Virtualization, with containers: A primer I used to run 4 vms on my machine for my application testing. Once I discovered containers, I now run close to 40 or 50 on the very same machine. And, as opposed to 5 minutes that take to start a VM, I can start a container under a second. Would you like to know ...
  • Become intelligent and successful in 30 days (or years) A famous saying goes that you hire people who are “smart” and “get things done”. I cannot tell you if people can get things done from their innate capabilities or intelligence. But, over time, I realized that most intelligent people that I come across have the similar qualities. I struggled to characterize them until I ...
  • Models of change: How innovation happens An interesting article appeared yesterday in NYTimes titled “A Capitalist’s Dilemma, Whoever Wins on Tuesday” . While the title appears to be topical about elections, it is broader and more applicable to the modern times we live it. In fact, it resonates well with what I have been saying all along. Long time readers of my ...
  • Innovation in Banking There was an interesting thread on reddit about money. It is not about investing or the moral values of money, but the fundamental concepts behind money. If you have not read it, I urge you to go and read it. I will wait. Over the weekend, I read the book “Ascent of Money” by ...
  • Evolution of business operating platforms in IT When I joined computer science in 1982, I asked a senior of mine what computers do (they were too novel at that time). He looked at me pitifully and told me that they sort records. Eventually, by the time I graduated out of IIT Madras, I learnt about compilers, operating systems, databases, programming languages and ...
  • Kelvin Redux: What and how to measure “Until you can measure something and express it in numbers, you have only the beginning of understanding.” – Lord Kelvin. There are lot of things we want to measure, even if they can’t be objectively measured. For example, we measure customers satisfaction – there are no scientific units to use for the measurement. We measure popularity ...
  • IT transformation: An architecture perspective Long time ago, I was blissfully unaware of IT technology. I designed programming languages, developed compilers, architected new database technologies, and dabbled in operating systems. Life revolved around all the things I learnt in school and in the labs: computers, algorithms, applied science. Somehow, after I ended on this side of the fence, all that ...
  • History is not written by the victors People say that history is written by the victors. Actually, history is written by the scribes. I suppose they can portray themselves as the victors – which makes the sentence true, in a way. What I am leading to is this: if you are the note taker in any meeting, you control the outcome. Nobody remembers ...
  • HTML5 design knowledge for application developers I am a developer with questionable credentials in aesthetics with one saving grace – I recognize when I see a good one in design. In developing web sites, I have explored a few options for web design and benefited from some of them. A few of my readers have asked me questions about these options ...
  • How to make a billion dollars in a couple of years Ok, I can’t tell you how to do that, but here is how Instagram did it. I am not going to talk about how they understood their customers and how they created something customers loved. That is all marketese – I can’t tell you how to replicate it. What I can tell you is that they ...
  • Tools for Developing and optimizing web: Firefox Last weekend, I was optimizing a site, to demonstrate what we can do, for a customer. I thought I would write about some of the basic tools that I used, since most of the junior developers do not know understand the full potential of these tools. The two tools I reach out to test the web ...
  • Understanding NoSQL from web application development perspective–Part I Consider the simple web program. For the sake of convenience, we will assume it is written in Java. In its simplicity it most likely is as the following: What are the implicit assumptions we are making? The database is supporting the reads and writes into the system. If other systems need this information, they access it from ...
  • Trends in programming and website development I am not the one to say follow the crowds. I am all for listening to a different drummer. But, in our field, we rely on so much publicly available code, knowledge, and support, it makes sense to understand where the world is. Consider programming languages. (Courtesy: TIOBE). How to interpret this list? This is ...
  • Fallacy of Multi-tenancy I keep reviewing so many documents in several stages. In more than once document, people keep on assuming that Multi-tenancy is not only desired, but also mandatory for applications to move to cloud. People, that is wrong notion. We are not in dark ages any more. If any multi-tenancy idea is old and should be ...
  • Devops: A cross functional skill set between developer and operations I grew up with Unix (RIP, dmr!) for a long time. Originally, my idea of computing is playing with Unix. In fact, I still say that Linux taught me more about practical aspects of programming than any of my courses. Two years back, I became involved in a large project where I was closely working with ...
  • Note taking in exploratory meetings Before I became a pointy haired boss, I was a developer. I still develop, but none of my code goes into projects. Apart from being a PHB, I had experience in being an entrepreneur doing all sorts of jobs. Most of my work happens in meetings. There are two problems in meetings, especially, exploratory meetings: ...
  • VMWorld 2011: A trip report My trip report from VMworld 2011 held at Las Vegas. I presented there on Cloud Application Platforms.
  • What I look for in user interface designers It is obvious to most people that, at heart, I am a programmer. I am not a good artist. My wife wouldn’t trust me to pick colors for our bath room. She wouldn’t even let me pick the tiles! But, obviously, I am qualified to make judgments about UI design . Deprecations aside, I worked hard ...
  • Data warehousing: Basics I am a relatively new comer to data warehousing. I come from OLTP world, where we take lot of transactions and put them through the databases. Early in my career, I worked in ...
  • Setting up VMware hypervisor Setting up VMware hypervisor on a regular box. Specifically how to install using USB flash drive and how to slipstream different drivers in. Also, what is the easiest way to configure for a hobby enthusiast.
  • My machine setup … I generally run lot of virtual machines on my desktop. For any development activity, I use VM’s. These days, the cost of machines plummeting, I got my self a new machine recently. My considerations are these: Lot of memory: I need to run VM’s. Lot of parallel processing: Again, needed to run VM’s. Not so much ...
  • How long does it take to boil an egg? his seemingly simple question has lot of thought behind it. It is all about metrics, what to measure, how to measure, and how to use the,. Not scientific enough, but written for motivational purposes. How long does it take to boil an egg? (Or Total Time to Boil An Egg or TTBAN). I am sure you all ...
  • What does it take to become an architect? how to become a software architect Every large software system needs an architect. Although many people clamor to become architects, there is still a lack of qualified architects in the industry. In this article, I will list what I believe to be the essential characteristics of an architect. It is relevant for senior developers and junior ...
  • Resume Synopsis Obtained an Undergraduate degree in CS from IIT Madras and Ph.D. at Rice University; Worked at Bell Labs in Databases; Started a company in developing Enterprise Billing Systems; Now working as the Chief Architect for HCL’s SOA division, advising companies of SOA strategy, architecture, design, and implementation. Equally adept at computer science, with product development ...
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