Farewell Speech (Tech Issues)

Below is the soft copy of my farewell speech on tech issues.

Good evening everyone. Carry forward the legacy left by one of our seniors, I am going to narrate a short story.

There was a boy, by name OMI, who came to IIIT without having any background in computers. He used to spend all this time in workspace exploring Linux usually at the cost of missing his lectures and even meals. Inspired by the works done by Nirnimesh, SMR etc., over a period of two years, after struggling, only as he could have done, he climbed onto the post which he always wanted, the sysadmin of IIIT.

Today I would like to speak about a few topics. The first one among them is my experiences as a sysadmin.

Our network is not ready to take the ever increasing load. The old wifi infrastructure has already crossed its End Of Life period. Also, the network is not properly planned which increases the time required to solve the issues. For example, it took several days to fix the network loop problems in different research centers last year.
Though we use open source to cut down our IT budget, we don’t make the best use of it.
The process of getting things done is slow. For example, we have not been able to narrow down on buying a firewall since last six months.
Now coming to the people part of it, the server room staff is generally co-operative but the problem lies with the administration mostly because of the slow decision making.
Within the administration, there is lot of interference by the people who don’t have adequate background in related fields.
Most of the time server room staff do the work they should not like asset management. Why a person who spent all his life in exploring technology should count number of computers in your lab?

Now, I’ll talk about the changes I tried to bring about and problems I faced.
There has always been an invisible gap between students and server room server room administration. It wasn’t very easy to convince people to stop treating the other end as enemy.
It was my top priority to restore the faith of administration in students so that more students can be brought into administration process.
Different research centers manage their own servers which poses a great difficulty for the server room staff to assist them. Everybody having their own network eventually increases the security loopholes as well. We tried to reduce the decentralization. Research centers are not usually ready to give up the rights easily but slowly things are changing and we have already moved few servers back to server room.
Since our network is growing, the policies that have been in place for past few years are becoming obsolete. We are in process of revisiting the different policies.

I’ll conclude by mentioning few key points. We urgently need to renovate the existing infrastructure otherwise there will be chaos. There is a need to invest more funds in IT infrastructure as its the backbone of the institute and it should not be seen as a burden. Gear up the approval process. We should be more transparent with students while forming the new policies.

I would like to thank IIIT for giving the students an opportunity to be involved in system administration and I hope the future batches will take this up as a serious job.

Thank You!

 

Mushroom or Santro Rock

In last four years, I heard a lot about Mushroom Rock (popular by the name Santro Rock among our super seniors) but never got a chance to visit the same. Today we (Me, Sachin, Alok, Pankaj, Kapil B, Atul, Abhinav Paro) decided to visit Mushroom Rock. It is located near Games Village for World Military Games building which is behind OBH. It was almost 6PM. The dim light in the atmosphere added to the beauty of the place. The ambience was awesome.

Mushroom or Santro Rock

Mushroom or Santro Rock

Mushroom or Santro Rock

Mushroom or Santro Rock

We had difficulties in climbing up but we finally managed it. The wind was awesome. We spent almost two hours there recollecting the happenings in past four years. Then we sang songs from 60s to present day πŸ˜€ It was an awesome feeling.

We at Mushroom Rock

We at Mushroom Rock

Me

Me

Nobody wanted to return but the hunger forced us to return. Don’t forget to take some eatables in case you plan to go there :)

PS : Lots of BC lately. Everything coming to an end :(

 

Best April Fools’ Day Ever

08:50AM April 1st, 2009

Alarm!!! Ring Ring!!! I had a class at 8:30AM. But thinking that I’ll sleep for few more hours, opted to miss the class.

10:26AM April 1st, 2009

I was in deep sleep (went to bed at 5AM) when my mobile started ringing. I hate it when somebody calls me when I am sleeping. To my surprise it was a call from a faculty member. I took the call and received a congratulatory message. When I asked about the reason, he replied, “You sold videocache for $20000.” I got a thousand volt shock. Immediately all those bollywood flicks (Khosla Ka Ghosla etc.) came to my mind in which X sold property of Y to Z without Y even knowing about it.Β  I totally lost my mind and couldn’t think of anything. He said a few lines after that and I just couldn’t hear him. I diverted the topic, said two-three sentences and hung up.

Woke up, had some water and switched on my monitor. Saw a message from Ankush Kalkote on Kopete saying, “Congrats yaar. ab to party deni hi padegi.”. In another tab Rishab Mukherjee saying congrats. I started believing it. I tried asking about the source of information but they wanted the god damn party desperately and didn’t really care what I was typing. I immediately openned cachevideos.com to check if somebody had hacked that. It was fine and there were no signs of any intrusions. In the meantime, Rishabh asked me to have a look at Rishi’s status message. It read, “Dollar Chacha (they call me so) has become a MILLIONAIRE. Sold videocache for $20000.” I kept browsing through the list and saw a lot of people changing their status message to the same. A few moments later I realized that its April 1 and everyone is trying to fool everyone else. Frustrated by the whole event, banged my head on the wall and went to sleep.

12:25PM April 1st, 2009

Mahaveer knocked my door asking for lunch. He didn’t know the truth. And fired all W questions (what, why, when, to whom) as soon as I openned the door. I switched on monitor and saw huge queue in Kopete. Everyone going crazy about videocache. People wondering about how can you sell a free software. WTF!!!! I immediately observed a huge potential in this venture. And put up my status as “@all it $21k and not $20k.” In the next five minutes almost 15-20 more people flooded me with queries about the sale.

Few sent congratulatoryΒ  mails and few even came up to my room to congratulate. Sudden change in opinion of few people (who didn’t know the truth) around. e.g. “Studies are a total waste of time”, “I should have developed some god damn thing”, “Four years well wasted :(“, “Getting into a job is foolishness” etc…

Taking advantage of the situation, somebody sent a SMTP mail to UG4 which read,

Hello,

As most of you know, Google has bought VideoCache built by me in 20K $. I am really enthralled on this feat. Since, I wish to share my happiness with all of you, I have decided to give you a fantabulous party tonight in the ground just behind the Motorola. Alok n me are busy making arrangements for that. If someone wishes to help us in making the party more than a memorable one, just mail @ mksharma@students.iiit.ac.in
If you wish to visit the VideoCache website, click http://cachevideos.com

As you must have figured it out by now, I didn’t plan any of this. It was planned by few people as a side-effect of attending Indic class. If anyone was hurt, he/she should go and kick Sachin Goyal, Kapil Bajaj, Rishi Gupta, Ankush Kalkote, Ajay Somani.

All in all it was big fun and best april fools’ day I ever had.

 

Mumbai Trip and First Time Flying Experience

As I said in my previous post, I was asked to visit Rediff Office in Mumbai. I thought Wednesday (25th) would be a great idea. Informed the same to HR. I got the return ticket to Mumbai on Tuesday. This was the first time I was going to Mumbai and also the first time I was boarding a flight. Both flights were Indian Airlines.

To Mumbai

Took Aero-Express from Hitech City to Airport. I was at airport (Shamshabad) at 6:15AM. Flight was a 7:50AM. So there was a lot of time that I could waste on the airport. With no idea how to proceed, I kept following a co-passenger (from the bus) and ended up in a queue for international flights πŸ˜› Security redirected me to entrance for domestic flights. I proceeded to check in counters following a very simple approach. Look for counters with hot girls πŸ˜› Among those, look for a counter with smallest number of people in the queue πŸ˜€ And it worked out of the box. Got the tickets. Moved in for security check. It was hassle free as I didn’t have any luggage. It was still an hour for the flight to take off. Used the free internet for few minutes. I was a bit nervous :) About half an hour later, we were asked to proceed for boarding.

Ten minutes later, I was in plane. It was Airbus A320. Luckily I got the window seat. I was surprised as there was no in-flight entertainment system and the airbus looked technologically challenged :) Few minutes later, the plane started crawling. It kept crawling at the same speed (20-30 km/hr) for so long that I got extremely frustrated. I was thinking, “Abe Mumbai paidal lekar jayega kya??” (Are we going to Mumbai by foot). I breathe a sigh of relief when it started accelerating. It was a thrilling experience after that long boredom. Things I imagined while playing NFS and other car games suddenly became live. We were on the ground at almost 300km/hr. The feeling while the plane takes off is damn nice. You feel something in the chest for sometime. After the plane is completely in air, things again become boring as the plane looks static with respect to ground. I was feeling like, “Why the hell its not moving??”. As the charm of flying for the first time was over, I picked up the newspaper. It was business line. Couldn’t really figure out a story to read. Then I picked the Air India magazine. While I was turning the pages, saw Katrina on sidebar of a page. Continued reading the story and figured out that both Airbus A319 and Airbus A321 have in flight entertainment systems. It was a real bad feeling to get stuck into A320 when both A319 and A321 were awesome 😐 The food served in breakfast was pretty good. Few minutes later, it was announced that we were in Mumbai. Landing in Mumbai was awesome. Actually, the planes first goes into the sea and then take a U turn. The landing experience was also awesome. It feels great when the plane decelerates.

To Rediff Office (Mahim)

I was warned by Sachin about the taxi drivers charging huge fare for no reasons. So I was a bit careful. But still ended up paying twice the actual charge. I left the airport at around 9:40AM. It was damn hot there at that time. My destination was Rediff office which is located somewhere in Mahim(West). Airport to Bandra (Western Express Highway) was totally jam packed. Taxi wallah turned out to be a bit smart and took the service root and managed to save a lot of time. Still it took almost an hour to reach the office.

In Rediff Office

I met Sumit in the office. He introduced me to a lot other people in NOC team. A small HR interview was conducted which was a surprising element for me as I never expected something like that. But it was fun talking to people from HR department. Then I met Sachin there. He introduced me to a lot other people related to domains I like. After that I had a small chit-chat session with managers from the NOC dept. After that Sachin introduced me to CTO, Rediff. We had a long chat session (almost half an hour). We talked about a lot of things in different domains (mainly open source). After that inspiring chat session, Sachin and me went out for lunch. I felt good to see good north Indian food nearby. We returned to office. Few minutes later, Sachin introduced me to CEO and CFO, Rediff. After that I had a long chat with Sachin about company environment and work culture.

Keeping in mind the traffic conditions, I left for the airport at 4:30PM. Unfortunately/fortunately I didn’t encounter any traffic and reached the airport at 5:00PM which was like 2 hours before the flight. To fight boredom, I headed over to Kingfisher check-in counters and found out a place to sit optimizing the view πŸ˜›

To Hyderabad

I was in plane at around 6:50PM. A321 looked really advanced as compared to A320. We were on the runway at scheduled time. But on the way it halted and waited there for another 20 minutes. By the time the plane took off, it was 25-30 minutes late. This time also I got the window seat. BTW plane was almost empty (only 40% of the seats were occupied). We were above sea in a few minutes. The view of the city in night from the sea was beyond my imagination. Every single light adding to the beauty of it. The view was best when the plane took a U turn. The entire Mumbai was visible and lights increased the beauty exponentially. The highways looked like long chains of light sources intersecting each other. It was a really wonderful experience. As we left Mumbai, the in-flight entertainment system was activated. I was browsing the channels and found one of them playing “Sorry Bhai”, one of my favorite pass-time bollywood flick. We reached Hyderabad at around 8:40PM. Took Aero-Express back to Gachibowli.

All in all it was an awesome trip to Rediff Office and also a wonderful first time flying experience :)

 

Rediff Interview

A few days back I got a call from an alumnus about a job opening at Rediff in my domain (server side craziness :P). Initially I was a bit surprised because I was not expecting something like that at all. After discussing a bit more about it, I returned to my room and forwarded the resume. Two days later while I was in RnD Showcase, I got a call from Rediff regarding the interview timings. It was scheduled on Saturday 21st at 1PM.

Saturday 21st

In the morning at around 9:40AM, I got a call from Sumit Rajwade (VP, Tech, Rediff) asking if interview can be conducted at 10:30AM. I replied positively. I got a bit nervous as I had to quickly arrange a place where we can meet. Arranged a conference room. At around 10:15AM, I got another call from Sumit saying that he was at coffee shop. I was deeply shocked. Coffee Shop :O I couldn’t really figure out what was going on. In my point of view, coffee shop is THE best place in IIIT Hyderabad. For me its a holy place πŸ˜› When I reached coffee shop, I saw two guyz enjoying cold milk. Sumit said, “Whenever I come to IIIT, I always visit coffee shop. I can’t miss this cold milk”. I was still dumbstruck.

After brief introductions, interview started. He asked some NATing questions seeking answers at TCP level. I was able to answer those. Then we moved on to open source domain. Talked about Apache compression and keepalive for sometime. Then we moved on to squid and caching. I feel so good when somebody asks me something about caching/squid. Have been experimenting with caching/squid since last 1 year. Then we exchanged a few thoughts about our interests. Luckily there were no questions about printf statements. Then I briefed him about things I have been doing since last four years. After that he introduced me to the kind of work they are expecting from me. It looked pretty awesome and inspiring at the same time. Few more thoughts exchanged and it was all done. I was asked to take some time out to visit Rediff Head Office in Mumbai.

All in all, it was fun talking to Sumit. He has been hacking (here hacking means hacking and not cracking) open source softwares since years. Inspiring personality.

The most shocking thing to me was the coffee shop part of it. I never imagined that I’ll be interviewed at Coffee Shop.

 

PhotoWalk near Mahendra Hills (Anand Buddha Vihar)

Yesterday, as a part of our Photography Club Assignment we went for a PhotoWalk in Anand Buddha Vihar. We, a bunch of UG3 and UG4 students, reached Shenoy Nursing Home in Secunderabad in three groups where Sashidhar met us and guided us to Mahendra Hills. Our destination was a Buddhist Temple in Anand Buddha Vihar. We started walking. After walking about a kilometer, we reached a nice place. It was a small hill with flowers all over the place.

Near Mahendra Hills

Near Mahendra Hills

Gaganpreet aka Bitgeek

Gaganpreet aka Bitgeek

Me

Me

We walked further (about 1.5 kilometers) and reached the Buddhist Temple. It was closed at that time. People tried different type of photography with capturing whatever possible. The temple looked pretty beautiful from outside. We were eager to get in.

A view of the temple from the road

Buddhist Temple in Anand Buddha Vihar

Buddhist Temple in Anand Buddha Vihar

At 4:00PM temple was opened for public. We got in and tried to capture as many objects as possible.

Deepak ( A statue near the entrance)

Deepak (A statue near the entrance)

Sashidhar, Aditya, Yogendra, Aakash, Me and Nitin

Sashidhar, Aditya, Yogendra, Aakash, Me and Nitin

Shrikant got a bit sentimental and took picture of almost every leaf and flower πŸ˜›

Shrikant Nigam

Shrikant Nigam

Me inside the temple

Me inside the temple

Close Up

Close Up

Woodwork on Doors

Woodwork on Doors

I tried goggles but they didn’t really go well with my looks πŸ˜›

Me

Me

And finally Sashidhar who made this trip possible but eventually got bored.

Sashidhar

Sashidhar

I was totally surprised by the beauty of the place. I was wondering why we never visited this beautiful place. After the photowalk, we had good food at McD, VikramPuri and returned home πŸ˜€

PS : Thanks Sashidhar for everything :)

PPS : I tag Shrikant, Bitgeek and whoever else who was there.

 

Mouse Middle Click Not Working

Its very easy to hop from one website to another with the help of a middle click while continuing with reading the current website especially when you have to follow the references. Browsing wikipedia is very easy when middle click work. But my mouse’s middle click is not working since last two weeks. I tried to open and check for any physical flaws but it didn’t help at all. I have a wireless mouse also which doesn’t work(i think because of power problems). I opened it to check if there the middle click logic is same and if there is some component which can be interchanged. But the middle click logic turned out to be really different.

Microsoft Wired and Wireless Mouse

Microsoft Wired and Wireless Mouse

So, here I am browsing web in a lot of miseries πŸ˜›

Browsing websites was never this miserable (have a close look)

Browsing websites was never this miserable (have a close look)

 

Upgraded to WP 2.7 + Yahoo Chat + SMS

Finally gathered some energy to fight my laziness and upgraded to wordpress 2.7. This one looks neat, has tons of new features. I hope this wont crash and my hard work wont go to Trash.

On the other hand when I logged into my yahoo account today (though I don’t use my yahoo email anymore, I just login to yahoo once a day just for the heck of it), I was surprised by new notification from yahoo asking me to use their new chat and SMS feature. I thought this would be yet another f*** up from yahoo just like the previous messenger in flash version. But I thought I’ll try it for some time pass πŸ˜€ And it turned out to be awesome :) Somehow the widget looks like an IPhone. And nobody really beats Yahoo when it comes to web designing (remember YUI ??). Well, it seems yahoo is finally serious after pretty much f***ing up their business.

Here is shot of the chat thing. And yeah, the chat window has tabs (a feature liked by almost everyone :D)

Yahoo Chat

Yahoo Chat

And to my surprise, the SMS thing also works out of the box. But Yahoo is not obeying the TRAI’s DO NOT DISTURB policy as I was able to send message to my number successfully. A shot for SMS interface below.

Yahoo SMS

Yahoo SMS

Also, a new on tech crunch reported an increase in yahoo’s share in US core search by 0.5% and drop in Google’s share by 0.5% during Jan, 2009 πŸ˜›

Good luck Maruti πŸ˜›

 

NERDVANA

Well, the task was to get a railway ticket preponed. Somehow me and Bansi got pushed for the job. After spending half an hour searching for a bike/scooty/activa, we finally got Harsh’s kinetic. As Bansi doesn’t know how to drive, he handed over the key to me (yes, i know how to drive πŸ˜› ). Me and Bansi standing near the kinetic in front of OBH and me thinking “How on earth we start a kinetic ???” I tried pressing some random buttons on the dashboard(i hope thats what it is called), but it didn’t help.

I know how to drive, but I never drove a kinetic or a two wheeler like that. Totally clueless about the procedure to start it, a scene from Matrix(when the guy or the girl learns to fly the helicopter) hit me. I wish we had some technology like that to learn things. Anyways, I followed almost similar steps. Called up Baba and asked him to teach me the lesson on starting a god damn kinetic 😐 Finally, with Baba’s efforts, I was able to start the machine.

 

Busy with videocache

VideoCache project has come a long way since I started it in June last year as youtube_cache. I have released 18 version in last 8 months of time. Complete log of versions is available in the videocache code repository. Currently it supports audio and video (including HD) caching from 14 websites. It has been an exciting journey with videocache. Adding features/websites to videocache on user requests following a typical agile open source development model is more than just fun. The driving factor for the project has been my interest in web delivery optimization,Β  people writing blogs about videocache, forums discussing videocache, the increasing downloads of videocache and above all Python :)

Below are few stats for the videocache project and the website.

January 2009

VideoCache Downloads
Archive downloads – 507
Binary downloads – 318
Total downloads – 825
Downloads per day – 26

Cachevideos.com Stats (Excluding bots)
Unique Visitors – 5714
Total Visits – 10009
Page Views – 34458
Hits – 284585

December 2008

VideoCache Downloads
Archive downloads – 396
Binary downloads – 346
Total downloads – 742
Downloads per day – 23

Cachevideos.com Stats (Excluding bots)
Unique Visitors – 4413
Total Visits – 7924
Page Views – 25739
Hits – 199120

PS : Will blog more frequently this month :)