December 31, 2008

Wish You a Happy New Year 2009!!!

Dear Readers,
Time has finally come to bid adieu to an eventful year. Let's put behind the past and conquer the future with the knowledge and experiences gained. Let's look forward to more happiness and peace in the forthcoming year and march on!
Wish you a Very Happy, Prosperous, Colorful and Healthy New Year 2009!!
Stay Fit! Stay Inspired!

December 22, 2008

Somethings Right and Somethings Not Right

With less than 10 days to go before we conclude the year 2008 and settle our accounts with the merchant called Time, it makes all the more sense to spend some time to take a retrospective view this year.

I'm sure its been an eventful year for most of us. The year 2008 has shown the glimmer side of the world to us in many ways and very tactfully hidden the positive side of things. From an economy perspective, the year woke up to the Startup Boom and slowly this got well consumed by the overpowering economic downturn in the Americas and the the rest of the world (ROW) countries.

While the hard work done in the last year paid off for some, some of us were subjected to a trough which has nevertheless made one wiser than ever before. From personal experience and from peoples' shared experience, we should bear in mind that Failures are the Stepping Stones to Success. In my mind, this is a cyclic thing - Without Success, one would not know what is Failure and without Failure, one would not know what the taste of Success really is!
Successes and Failures are two sides of a sinusoidal waveform that generates the energy to power the engine called Life. What really matters is how adaptive and resilient we are to this thing called Change. The quicker we react to Change, the faster we move!

Remember one thing - Life is a marathon...just run it! There are times when we slow down and there are times when we sprint. Slowing down does not mean that you will lose the race (unlike a short distance run).

The slower periods in life are like pit stops in the F1 circuit - As long as you use them wisely (to refuel), you are assured of a strong finish!

All I wanted to do in this post was just to tell my readers - You Are A Winner! Never Give Up! No matter what happened in 2008, you have become a wiser person! Use the lessons learnt to strategically plan your next move!

Wish you a Merry Xmas and a Very Happy and Fruitful New Year! As always, Stay Inspired!

December 14, 2008

My First Marathon - The Singapore Marathon (Part 3)

I'm splitting my First Marathon experiences to three different parts for the sake of readability. Should you want to download the full article in a PDF format, please click here. This is Part 3 of the three part series. You can read Part 2 here. Would love to hear from you!

Family Support…
Now my mind was looking forward for something – My parents, sister and my uncle’s family. I was closing towards the 30K point. I saw the drink station on my left and badly wanted some water. That was when I heard someone call out my name – Ah! That was my dad and my uncle with their camera flashing! Couldn’t have asked for a better fuel! I almost forgot to drink water. I told them that I cannot run anymore as my right knee was aching and I didn’t want to lose it completely! I was then told that the rest of them were waiting at a point some 300meters down the course. Not being able to wait seeing them, I started to run faster (as opposed to my earlier decision of walking the rest of the 12.195kms).

I saw my sister, mom, aunt and her kids and felt good to hear them cheer me. Wait, I saw someone else too. Was it Meera? Yes, it was indeed her! The feeling of guilt now went off. I was now sure that Meera was in safe hands. What better could happen? I had a burden taken off my mind and a lot of fuel added by seeing all of them. It was from this point that I started to steadily pace up.

The Ferrari Confidence…
I really don’t remember how I ran the next 5-6kms. It just went by so smoothly that it felt like I was teleported. It was about 3kilometers before the finish point that I saw this huge showroom of Ferrari cars. Ah, that was just in time. Ferrari is my favorite car brand! Thanks to my super fast imagination, I started to feel a hundred Ferrari’s rev up and rush out of me. This truly helped me to increase my pace once again.

There was no looking back from this point on. I kept running at a steady 8-9kmph and it was not long before I could sense and smell the finish line somewhere close by. Thanks to my Garmin Forerunner 305, the sensing became easier. It was just about 500meters to the finish line! The mixed feelings that spun through me felt really different. It was like smelling your favorite food being served hot somewhere close by after days of starvation. It was like seeing your long lost love after a long spell of loneliness. It truly felt great!

The Last Mile…
The final 500meters was the most memorable part of the run. It was like getting closer to the brighter side of a dark tunnel. It was like a big ball of highly positive energy pulling us towards it. It was like a thousand magnets pulling a hairpin. I could feel tremendous energy fill my body from all sides. I could feel the strength of a thousand horses in me. I started to pound the asphalt at an average of 13-14kmph. Before I actually embarked on such a speed, I wanted to get rid of the small mineral water bottle in my hand. I kept it in one cornerstone and started off on my final lap.

I could see the finish line at a distance not greater than 200meters. The crowd was cheering and I could see the timer on the finish line from afar. As I got closer I felt like an eagle effortlessly gliding down towards its prey. As I neared the finish line I could hear my name being called out and my completion time being announced. As I crossed the finish line, I felt like a dart flawlessly hitting the center of a dartboard.

Finish Line and after…
My eyes were searching. I was turning around to find no one near the finish line. I was a bit unhappy here as I would’ve liked too see people I know soon after I crossed the finish line. I slowly walked down and sat on one of the benches near the medal and tee collection area. I untied my left shoe lace to remove my chip and then walked towards the tent to collect my Finisher Medal. Then I walked down to the tee counter to collect my Finisher Tee. Walking out of the tent I still saw no familiar face there. Where are my parents and sister? Where are my uncle, aunt and the kids? Where are my Chennai Runners friends? I saw no one!

Overwhelming pleasure…
In just about 5minutes I saw my sister out of no where and then slowly the rest of my family. It was only then that I realized that my uncle was waiting at the turning (soon after I kept my bottle on the cornerstone and started to pace up) with his Nikon D40 to take some final lap snaps. My dad and sister were apparently one of the spectators who gleefully cheered me when I crossed the finish line. I felt so bad and sad for having thought what I thought earlier – They were all more eager to be with me than I was. I was overwhelmed! I saw Shahid just then, only to realize that he also had a bad day with a 6:40 finish.

I changed my running tee and wore my running jerkin from the kit bag my sister was carrying. Slipped out of my running shoe into a pair of sandals from my kit bag and walked towards the foot massage tent. After just about 4-5minutes of wait, I was called in for leg massage. For over 10 minutes my feet and legs enjoyed the most relieving massage they ever had.

The Spirit of a Marathoner…
Though I completed the marathon in 6:47, this has been by far the best run I’ve ever had as I finished really strong (I could’ve run another 10Kms if someone gave me company), had my family by my side and of course completed a full-marathon! I finally did bring my dreams of doing my first marathon in 2008 to fruition. I have proved to myself and the world that NOTHING CAN STOP ME from doing something! I’ve always believed that marathoners have unmatched grit and determination with a NEVER SAY DIE attitude. I’m happy to me a marathoner! God Bless!

Attitude of Gratitude…
I could not have got here without any support. There is someone who started it in me, there is someone who has constantly driven me and motivated me, there is someone who has constantly endured all my demands and funniness and above all there are many who have wished well for me. I would like to specially thank a few people here –

Ram Viswanathan – He is a man who can make rocks dance. He can possibly motivate even snails to do ultra-marathons. To me, he has been more than a mentor. He was the one who brought me into the world of long distance running, and I could never have dared to dream of a marathon without him. Thanks Ram!

Harishankar – This is a man who comes with a great level of patience and enthusiasm. He can run a marathon and give a TV interview in parallel. There were days when he used to give me tips on running during our runs. He was the one who made me run my first long distance run of 28kilometers at a pace of 9kmph (this was close to two years ago). Thanks Hari!

My Parents and Sister – I still cannot understand how they are able to put up with my craziness! They have never questioned my craziness (especially when I get out of home in the early morning hours at 2-3am for a run). Their support during the Singapore Marathon just goes beyond words. Thanks Dad, Mom and Sis - You support was really great!

My Uncle, Aunt and the kids – They did get up early in the morning and come to the starting point. I still cannot understand – I would’ve slept! More so, they stayed on till I finished the marathon! Amazing support…couldn’t have asked for more! Thanks uncle, aunty, Shashank and Sudarshan (my kid cousins)…you made my day!

PDF Download link:
http://karthikvijayakumar.com/publicimages/My%20First%20Marathon.pdf

Stay Inspired!

My First Marathon - The Singapore Marathon (Part 2)

I'm splitting my First Marathon experiences to three different parts for the sake of readability. Should you want to download the full article in a PDF format, please click here. This is Part 2 of the three part series. You can read Part 1 here. Would love to hear from you!

The Marathon Day…

It was next morning (about less than two hours from when I hit the sack) when I went to take a quick wash, and I realized that my whole body was swollen with redness. I thought that it was some weird Singaporean Mosquitoes that did the damn job. I was getting ready that my sister (who slept next to me) woke up with an alarming voice – “Look, my palm is bloodied and I see these 6-7 dead insects here”. This was when I realized that I had just killed one such insect (thinking it was some sort of a cockroach) that was crawling on my sport jerkin a few minutes back. Immediately I realized – “They are those goddamn bedbugs!!!”

Scratching myself like mad, I headed to the cab and asked him to drive down to the address where my friend Hari was staying with his friend. After about 10minutes lost, Hari’s friend called me, only to realize that I had the wrong address! It took us another 5 minutes to get to the right address and pick up Hari. Together we drove down to a place close to the race start point. It was about 5:05am when we stepped out of the car. We headed to the baggage counter to deposit Hari’s kit and then trotted to the start point. My parents, sister and my uncle’s family had promised to be at the starting point by then, but I didn’t see them! I had to hand over the cell phone to them…that was the plan. It was 5:30am already!! I finally spotted them in the crowd after a series of phone call exchanges, and gave them the cell phone and hurried myself through the thronging crowd to the starting point.

The Starting Point…
By then time I was at the start point it was 5:40am, and already 10minutes into the marathon! I felt good physically, but was a bit not OK mentally. I had a mix of feelings in me – Happiness, Anxiety, Anger, and Irritation. I was also worried that I couldn’t hook up Ram’s kid daughter Meera to my sister and parents at the starting point due to this confusion. I started to pace at a decent 9kmph and decided to keep myself well hydrated all through the run. The weather was humid as it had rained badly the previous day. The very fact that I started the race 10 minutes late put me off a bit.

It was about 6:25am, and I was at the 5K point. I sipped half a glass of water and continued with my run. The entire running experience was a bit new to me as it was so crowded with almost one feet (or even less) of shoulder space. I had to run zigzag till about the 10K point when the crowd started to get scattered.

I had missed all my Chennai Runners friends right from the starting point, and I felt a bit lonely. Having someone by your side is always a lot of fun and takes off your attention from what you are doing. Especially during longer runs, a good running buddy helps one to increase pace and stretch the limits.

The Kenyan Spirit…
It was slightly past 13K mark when I saw one of the Kenyan runners (was the winner) running in the opposite direction (in the return loop) about 500meters from where we were running. The feeling was like watching Michael Schumacher drive the F1 lanes when we are driving in the roads of Chennai or Bangalore. The runner’s posture, pace, strides, charisma was so astonishing that I started to pace faster than before without my knowledge!

A Little Encouragement and Company…
I was thoroughly enjoying the run. The water points, the cheering crowd, the school bands playing – every bit of it was so wonderfully organized. There was this point around the 15K point when I started to feel uneasiness in my right knee. I fortunately found a lady offering the pain rub ointment and decided to pause for a bit to get that stuff on both my knees.

This is when I saw this young Singaporean gentleman who had stopped for the want of the pain rub ointment. He was telling out loudly “Why did I have to subject myself to this torture? I’m going to just walk the next 5K and stop. My knees can’t take it.” I heard him and thought “He should complete the marathon! I should probably do something…can I? Let’s see…” I started off a casual conversation with him and we went on to talk about my knee injury. I just told him “If I can run with an ITB on one knee and a knee pain in another, you should definitely run as you are just giving up mentally” After about 5-8minutes, we started to resume running and my this gentleman was now doing good, pacing at 8kmph.

Now my mind got another doubt “Have I run the right direction? Why is that I did not cross any Champion chip scanner? Why is that there were no cameras to take my pictures?” This was around the 20K point, when I saw a point where they had the scanners on both sides of the running path. After a few meters, there was this camera that was probably one of the cameras taking pictures of runners.

Happy to have got past the 21K point, I decided to slow down a little bit and keep going (but not walk). Surprisingly, I never felt an ounce of tiredness! Just the soreness in my right knee was a bit troubling me. I was now running through the ECP (East Coast Park), and it felt like I was in heaven. I saw people walking, jogging, tenting up and lazing around. I saw some shops that rented cycles and rollerblades for those who wanted to enjoy going round on wheels. This was the place I wanted to be!

More in Part 3. Stay Tuned...

My First Marathon - The Singapore Marathon (Part 1)

I'm splitting my First Marathon experiences to three different parts for the sake of readability. Should you want to download the full article in a PDF format, please click here. This is Part 1 of the three part series. Would love to hear from you!

With less than 1% of the world’s population indulging in running marathons, it’s not too often that one gets to write about marathon experiences. I’m glad to have entered the elite One-Percent Club of long distance runners with the completion of my maiden marathon in Singapore last week.

More than just sharing my experiences during the course of the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon, I have decided to go a little further. In this article I have made an attempt to write about my experiences in the past 4-5 months, to see how it impacted my race day performance, and my life.

The Beginning…
The year 2008 started with a lot of serious running. I did the Chennai half-marathon in February 10th followed by the Auroville half-marathon in February 17th. I was covering about 40-50kilometers per week in a maintenance phase till about April. With the onset of summer, I had decided to take it easy.

I was in New York in June, and the very next day I joined by friend Ravichander for a short 5K run organized by the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) along the Hudson River Parks. This was my first ‘organized’ international run, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. It was when I thought – “If a mere 5K run was organized so well, how much better can a full marathon be?” The very next week I joined my friend and his Asha NYNJ chapter runners at the Central Park, only to end up with a strong determination to do one full marathon by the end of 2008. It was in July that I heard about the registrations for Singapore Marathon being opened, and I was tempted!

Last year was when I got into running seriously, and for some reason, I missed the Singapore marathon deadline. I didn’t want to make the same mistake again, and immediately registered myself for the full-marathon by paying $80 and completing the registration form. I went to Runners World and got myself a nice 16week training plan. After a week’s training, I was feeling good…really good. Thought I must look forward to completing the Singapore one in less than 4 hours and 30 minutes.

The Brick Walls…
This is when the dark clouds started setting in. A spate of frequent travel came my way, and there was this time in August when I was in Pune. It was raining very heavily outside and I didn’t want to compromise on my training either. I decided to head to the gym in the hotel I stayed (Sun ‘N’ Sand) and run on the treadmill. I started trotting at 6kilometers per hour speed and the sheer imagination of completing a marathon made me unknowingly increase the speed all the way to about 14-15kilometers per hour. I was running like a horse for more than 25minutes, and suddenly I landed a little bit heavily on my left leg. To be frank, that did not feel good! I started to reduce the speed of the treadmill until it eventually stopped.

The day went past and so did the travel. I was back in Chennai, and decided to do an evening run on one Thursday. After about 3kilometers I felt a little strain near my left knee, and I decided to walk a little bit. Not being able to withstand a snails pace, I resumed my running and there was this point at about 4kilometers when I was forced to a screeching halt! I felt excruciating pain outside my left knee.

This is when it all started. My experiences from this point till the race day on December 7th are something I’ve shared in my earlier blog posts mentioned below –
5 Days and 16 Hours to go…
http://blog.karthikvijayakumar.com/2008/12/5-days-and-16-hours-to-go.html
Getting Back to Fitness…
http://blog.karthikvijayakumar.com/2008/11/getting-back-to-fitness.html
Looking at the Brighter Side – Patience and Perseverance is the Key
http://blog.karthikvijayakumar.com/2008/10/looking-at-brighter-side-patience-and.html
It feels good to be back in action!
http://blog.karthikvijayakumar.com/2008/10/it-feels-good-to-be-back-in-action.html
Injury – Another Brick Wall
http://blog.karthikvijayakumar.com/2008/08/injury-another-brick-wall.html

The Race-day eve…
Most of you would definitely agree with me on how important the day before the D-day is. Be it exams or interviews, the day before the D-day greatly impacts your final performance. It’s the same case with long distance running – Especially when you got to cover 42.195 kilometers by foot the next day!

Running (and completing) a marathon tests both the body and the mind. The course of 42.195 kilometers is a test of grit and determination. A marathon tests one’s character, attitude, strength, weakness and courage.

It was December 6th in Singapore. I had spent most of the day shopping (which involved a lot of walking). It was about 9:30pm when I got back home. That was when I realized that since I was sharing the room with my parents and sister, it was good to have all my race-day essentials kept aside so that I can get myself prepared in the restroom the next morning. I had got almost everything ready, and the clock was showing 11pm. I decided to hit the sack as I had to get up the next morning at 3:15am to get ready for my run.

For the first time in more than a decade, I felt butterflies in my stomach. I was both excited and anxious! While on one side I could feel the energy across the finish line against my chest and my name being called out with applauses, I feared my knee pain hitting me during the race. In about less than half an hour’s time from when I hit the sack, I suddenly found myself scratching my legs and arms. I thought it was just yet another manifestation of my anxiousness, and forced myself to sleep. But it never happened, and it was already 1am in the morning. I could not take it anymore and decided to walk out into the hall and sleep in the couch.

More in Part 2. Stay Tuned...

December 04, 2008

Olympians and Brave Martyrs - Justice Please!

Who is greater - An Olympian or an Indian Army martyr? I'm not trying to put down my own conclusions here, but to put certain facts in black and white and make the world think, realize and elicit public opinion.
  • When Abhinav Bindra won a Olympic Gold medal in the recently concluded Beijing Olympics, he was awarded Rs.1 crore by the Punjab Government. In the recent terror attach on Mumbai's Taj hotel, Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan lost his life while fighting the terrorists. His family was compensated with Rs.5 Lakh
  • Abhinav Bindra is the only son to his parents, and so is Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan
  • Both of them made India proud
  • Incidently, both Bindra and Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan are shooters (though different purposes)
  • Both are Indians
The only difference is that Abhinav Bindra is an Olympian while Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan was with the Indian Army. Infact, the latter did save the lives of many Indians and foreign visitors. When both have done India proud, shouldn't the compensation be 'atleast' comparable?

Even, the Kerela Chief Minister insulted this brave martyr. The exact words he said was "If not a Martyr, not even a dog would have visited him". See the ho for more details on this. Shame on you, Mr. Kerela Chief Minister!




My Take: I want both Olympic medal winners and brave martyrs of the Indian military forces to be treated equal. The latter's family needs to be compensated well. The awards given to Olympians will encourage more people to get into the sport and take it seriously. Similarly, I want the compensations given to martyrs of Indian military forces to be tantamount to that of the awards given to Olympians. Only then, will more young people in India (and their families) be motivated to serve the Indian military forces.

December 03, 2008

A Fresh look at the Mumbai Saga - Wake Up!

With hundreds of people dead and a large number injured, the Mumbai terror attack has been, by far, the most gruesome terror incidents the world has ever faced. With battalions of Police, National Security Guards (NSG), Indian Navy, Indian Airforce and Indian Army fighting in total unity, India's soldiers have been the real saviors of the country. They have made India proud and given the much needed confidence, that a country would need in times of such acute crisis.

We can definitely look back and take pride in a lot of achievements in this Mumbai episode. But in my view, this will again lead us to the spiral of failure. Every time India has been terrorized in the recent past, we citizens have given a lot of shoulder space for our politicians to give serpentine sermons and condolence speeches and also speeches that centered around bolstering their political/party profile.
  • Every time the terror struck an Indian city, we citizens (other than the families and friends of the bereaved) have just felt the momentary pain and forget by observing silence and offering some prayers (and probably donating some money)
  • Every time the terror struck an Indian city, a security investigation sets in which eventually gets into the hands of politicians...and lose its very essence
  • Every time the terror struck an Indian city, we spend a couple of days watching the new media channels and totally forget the episode when the next movie blockbuster gets released
  • Every time the terror struck an Indian city, a film director/producer gets an idea and starts capitalizing on the painful act by making a movie on it
  • Every time the terror struck an Indian city, the state governments start collecting funds from public servants by deducting money from their salaries
  • Every time the terror struck an Indian city,....this list can be written to cover many A4 pages and many walls
Why does this happen Every Single Time? On one side, we call ourselves a democracy and on the other side, we indulge in religious conflicts? Why do we play the blame game?

It's time we STOPPED PLAYING THE BLAME GAME! Time has come to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY! We say that India is "my country", but when she is in a problem, without any hesitation we start to point fingers at others! During the elections, political parties woo the citizens with lofty promises. But when it comes to actual D-Day, the same parties start to point fingers at the opposition parties. Even worse, these political parties play the dirty games of using the religion and cast systems to divide the same citizens whom they once wooed for a vote!

So, what does this culminate to? We do understand that India is a Democratic Republic, and it's HIGH TIME we started to adhere to the very notion of Democracy. We need to change our outlook towards terrorism and the way of life! Our political system needs to CHANGE the way they handle the country.

Here is what, I think, can bring about the much needed CHANGE-
  • We citizens need to STOP getting lazy and should STOP finding shortcuts to processes laid down by the government
  • The media (television, newspaper and radio) should become more "people-centric" and not fall into the clasps of the political parties or politicians
  • It's high time that the politicians STARTED TO BE LEADERS and STOPPED BEING BUSINESSMEN
  • The government should INCREASE the salary (and other perks) for military forces personnel. The military forces SHOULD be paid NO LESS THAN any IT (Information Technology) personnel.
  • The entire security framework SHOULD BE REDRAWN by taking the advancements in technology and defense tactics into consideration. Lessons from the United States Department of Homeland Security is a good place to start with!
  • The nation's coastline (including all the major and minor ports) needs to be completely handed over to the Indian Navy to guard

Let's take a vow to stay united and fight this ugly monster called Terror. We just need to do our one bit towards protecting our nation in every possible way. Let's STOP BLAMING EACH OTHER and let's NOT ALLOW ANY FORCE TO DIVIDE US BASED ON CAST OR RELIGION!

Let's Stay United! Let's Stay Inspired!

December 01, 2008

5 Days and 16 Hours to go...

With just 5 days to go before I hit the asphalt to embark my first full-marathon in Singapore, the anxiety is increasing more than ever. It's been raining in my city for the whole of last week which eventually flooded the roads with atleast knee-deep water. This fluffed my training and now, even worse, I've been struck with cold and wheezing.

Generally, any health problem above the neck is something that can't stop me from running. But, its been over three years since I was struck with wheezing, and it feels like a new thing to me now....and....it's below my neck! Will that force me to stop running? Nay....infact, it's now time to add some exceptions to my earlier rule of thumb!

Now, I've tweaked the rule to include a new clause -
You can run if you don't have a problem below the neck. BUT, you can run even if you have a mild respiratory infection if you have a marathon in less than 15 days time. Just don't overstrain!

Well, these are the Brick Walls that tests one's commitment. These are the testing moments that measures the body's and mind's limits. So far, I've had these brick walls in the form of knee injury, flooded roads, cold and wheezing. The accompanying side-effect of these problems has been the increase of body weight, which has been the other brick wall which I've managed to fight with some decent success.

Overall, everything is looking good - Brick walls are good to have....they help us discover A Better ME. Never say die and never give up! Stay Inspired!

November 21, 2008

Information Technology in Mergers, Acquisitions (M&A) and Joint Ventures (JVs) - Part II

In the first part of this post, I had very briefly painted the big picture and also subtly emphasized on the need for a more agile and flexible IT (Information Technology) infrastructure for enterprises. In this article, we will wear the hat of an IT innovator and see some of the aspects of a manufacturing enterprise that an IT leader will need to consider in the process of choosing an SOA-based approach to manufacturing.

We should always understand one thing -
Change is the only thing that is Permanent. Change is the Rule of Nature

A wise leader is one who chooses to build an enterprise that is flexible to this permanent phenomenon called Change. With Change being permanent, the onus is now on the leader to make sure that this Change always happens for the good (a positive change) and with minimal incremental cost.

In the context of Information Technology, IT Leaders are often presented with such situations of having to make a choice between multiple solutions. This is when a leader needs to look through the telescope and see the solution from a long term perspective. An IT architecture that will scale up faster with minimal change with high utilization of existing investment and legacy systems is the basic need.

The manufacturing space is flooded with a lot of industry standards, and the IT infrastructure has to be able to support all of these industry standards. The standards defined by ISA, like the SP95 and SP88 models are the core of any manufacturing industry. It is very important that an IT infrastructure supports the ISA SP95/88 models at the least.

With the advancements made in the technology space, the IT infrastructure should be able to support the latest concepts of social networking, blogging, wikis, instant messaging, etc. Also, this new infrastructure has to be able to support newer hardware technologies like newer readers, sensors, mobile devices, embedded devices, etc.

Also, with the generation-Y people coming into the manufacturing workforce, it becomes an even more challenging task for the IT Leaders to create an IT infrastructure that will attract more of this new generation engineers to the manufacturing industry.

With so many factors to be considered, a flexible and agile IT infrastructure is the key. AMR Research precisely defines an SOA-based approach to manufacturing in its article titled Manufacturing 2.0: Defining Next-Generation Manufacturing. IBM has been a leading player in this space, with a structured approach to Manufacturing 2.0. IBM has partnered with several key players in this space to provide its customers with the Industry Frameworks approach. These frameworks helps the IT Leaders look beyond just MES or ERP systems...into creating an integrated manufacturing enterprise.

November 14, 2008

MIP's Tryst with the Moon - ISRO does India Proud!

When many young minds in India were enjoying the Children's Day celebrations, ISRO and the nation had another reason to celebrate - The successful placing of our Tricolor flag on the Moon! Yes, from now on, India has two reasons to remember November 14th. We are the 4th country in the world (after US, Japan and Russia) to have implanted the national flag on the Moon!

The Moon Impact Probe (MIP), one of Chandrayaan-1's 11 payloads hit the Lunar surface near the Moon's South Polar region at 20:31Hrs IST today. Many may see the coincidence with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's birthday and this great event (as it was only when he was India's Prime Minister that India's space programme was launched). But I, on the contrary, see a different coincidence. MIP was Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam's brainchild, and in today's world, he is an inspiration to children across the country than anyone else.

Here is how ISRO detailed the series of steps that MIP did in the 25 minute journey to the Lunar Surface (after separating from Chandrayaan-1 at 20:06 Hrs IST) -
... a series of automatic operations that began with the firing of its spin up rockets after achieving a safe distance of separation from Chandrayaan-1. Later, the probe slowed down with the firing of its retro rocket and started its rapid descent towards the moon’s surface. Information from the its instruments was radioed to Chandrayaan-1 by MIP. The spacecraft recorded this in its onboard memory for later readout. Finally, the probe had a hard landing on the lunar surface that terminated its functioning.

To read a first-hand report on this spectacular space mission, go to ISRO's very own press release here. This is just one of the first steps of Chandrayaan-1. But the point to be noted is that MIP is totally indigenous to India
(developed by Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre of Thiruvananthapuram). So, essentially it's the first completely-Indian object to land on the Moon!
झंडा ऊँचा रहे हमारा विजयी विश्व तिरंगा प्यारा ....

Do stay tuned to www.ISRO.org for continuous updates!

Courtesy: Pictures and knowledge from ISRO.org

November 13, 2008

Information Technology in Mergers, Acquisitions (M&A) and Joint Ventures (JVs)

With the world economy undergoing a trough, most often people (in the business of IT) tell me -
Oh, we are going through tough times...while some of my customers are more resistant to new initiatives, some have declared really negative earnings for this quarter. I believe we need to wait and just let this period pass through...but again, the pressure build's up from my bosses!

This was actually told by a acquaintance of mine. I'm not surprised by this, as I've heard many others say this too. Echoing these words a few more times makes things more lucid than what it actually sounds like. As I've always believed in, every challenge comes with a set of opportunities.

Since the past few years, one would have noticed the change in way businesses across the world starting looking at the market. We've seen a number of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and joint ventures (JVs) happening across the different businesses. The resulting IT complexity has always been a challenging task for CIOs and other IT leaders of these businesses. What better news can IT vendors get? There is a CIO who is crying "It's a mess - HELP ME OUT!"

This is the time when IT vendors need to wear the innovator's hat. These times are the ones that offer utmost opportunities to IT solution vendors. India is a garden of such opportunities especially in the manufacturing space. From automotive to petroleum to steel industries, all companies are eying India as a preferred destination for setting up shop. Unlike the past, international players are looking at setting up joint ventures with Indian companies that helps them enter a new market in many ways.

On the other hand, Indian biggies are acquiring companies in other parts of the world. This has resulted in the merging of companies due to acquisitions, which again has posed considerable challenge to the IT heads of these companies. M&As are more than just two corporate entities merging. It's about merging of cultures, merging of values, merging of corporate and IT governance models.

So, in a nutshell, to an IT leader, such market moves (M&As and JVs) mean more than just "IT" integration. In my next article I would be diving a little bit deeper into this topic to talk about SOA in the context of manufacturing. Till then, stay tuned!

November 10, 2008

My New Adizero - Here is how I selected my shoe..

I've dated injuries related to running for over three months now. Recently when I consulted Dr.Rajat, he diagnosed the problem to be due to ITB (Iliotibial band) in my left knee. Having said that, he had suggested me to buy a shoe that had a good support for over-pronation. He also suggested me the Adidas Nova Control ones or the Nike Bowerman series ones.

I visited the Adidas running website and went to their shoe section. I was surprised to see such a good website that was made available for customers in India (its clear that Adidas has understood the growing number of runners in the country!). The slider panel on the left hand side had three selections that would essentially take inputs from the buyer. These inputs included "Why I run?", "Where do I run?" and "What are my motion mechanics? (related to pronation)". Once I made my selections (as you see on the left), it presented me with a set of shoes that was filtered out from the entire basket.

I was presented with four different models of shoes
  1. adiSTAR Control 5
  2. Supernova Sequence
  3. Response Control 7
  4. adiZero Tempo
With this list in my mind, I decided to visit the Adidas store in my city (Chennai, India) to spend some time and buy the right shoe.

On Saturday (8th Nov), I visited the Adidas store in Chennai. Apparently, its Asia's second largest Adidas store (with the first one in Bangalore). There, I got my feet scanned with Adidas' very own Footscan. The adidas footscan™ process is simple and it was a 5minute process. The footscan™ pad records the pressures created through your foot strike, and the software interprets this data to provide an accurate, graphic representation of your footstrike. My foot scan looked like the one on your right.

I finally tried out different models of shoes in the store, and decided to buy the adiZero Tempo. The damage to my pocket was INR 7500 (USD 158)!! I know that this is a steep price.....but I had a reason to spend. My existing shoe is worn out (I've done more than 400 kilometers in it) and I'm just 26 days away from my first full-marathon in Singapore. To top it all, I'm 'still' recovering from my ITB problem. With all of this, I cannot dare to run the Singapore marathon with the worn out shoe. I'm also a believer that when you want to achieve the best result, equip yourself with the best support system.

Well, if you are wondering about what really is there in this shoe to pay such a hefty price, here is a snapshot of the technologies it uses -

Midsole Material: Torsion® System
The Torsion® System creates stability and control and provides midfoot support.

Cushioning Technology: adiPRENE®+
Cushioning material that retains natural propulsive forces for greater forefoot efficiency.

Heel Technology: adiPRENE®
Maximizes heel protection and stability; is located under the heel to provide extra protection from harmful impact forces.

Outsole: adiWEAR®
A non-marking rubber outsole compound offering abrasion-resistance and durability.

Lacing System: Ghillie Lacing
Ghillie lacing system provides a secure and custom fit.

Some of its Unique Features are -
  1. ForMotion® adjusts to the ground to bring your foot in for a smoother, more natural touchdown at high speeds
  2. Flex grooves provide optimum forefoot flexibility
That's not all about it! I did something really daring yesterday with my new pair of adiZero. To know more, Stay Tuned!!


November 06, 2008

Michael Crichton - We miss You...

Michael Crichton, one of my favorite sci-fi authors bid adieu to the world yesterday (Nov 4th) at Los Angeles. Known to have been battling with cancer for a long time, his battle with life finally has ended. He had just completed 66. I've been a great fan of his books like Congo, Jurassic Park, The Lost World and the State of Fear (though I didn't completely read this one).

His exemplary skills of portraying the bizzaire effects of scientific experiments is something that has keep me gaping everytime I read his book or see his movies. Michael, you will stay in my heart (and the hearts of many other readers and fans of yours) forever! May God bless your soul!

November 05, 2008

Chennai Runners is back on The Hindu!

Oh yes, we are back on The Hindu. Prince Frederick from The Hindu was with us last Sunday to talk to us about our group and our plans for the upcoming Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon. Below is the paper view of today's article. You can find an online version of the same here.
Chennai Runners - The Hindu

November 03, 2008

Getting Back to Fitness..

Having had my share of injuries due to running, I finally decided to seek the expert's help. That reminded me of Dr.Rajat, a doctor who runs! Though I've heard a lot about Rajat, little did I know that he was practicing in Bangalore until Shahid told me. I got his clinic number from Shumit and managed to get an appointment for 1st Nov.

So, I made a lightening trip to Bangalore to meet Rajat at this new clinic Back to Fitness which is located in Total Mall on Sarjapur Road in Bangalore. The clinic looked really impressive with a whole lot of equipments for exercising and diagnosing sports-related injuries. I had an appointment with Rajat at 12noon, and I spent about 30minutes at this clinic.

And, his observations were - I was pronating my feet inside while running and also the injury was not a lateral-collateral ligament strain, but an Iliotibial band problem (popularly known as the IT-Band problem). He taught me a couple of stretches that would help in reducing this pain (and the problem). Unlike the lateral-collateral ligament strain (which can only be cured with rest and applying a lot of ice packs), the IT-band problem can be treated with appropriate stretches. I also seem to have really tight calf muscles, which could also be a potential reason for this pain.

I did a wonderful 12K run yesterday in the hot Chennai sun (from 9:15AM to 11AM), and finished strong (without a drop of water to drink....as I forgot to take my fuel belt!). Rajat's words and yesterday's run have given me a lot of hope and confidence that would be a driving force for the rest of my Singapore marathon training.

October 30, 2008

Spirit of the Marathon - I finally watched it!!!

Early this year (on Feb 21st) I'd expressed my desire to watch this movie Spirit of the Marathon. I had to wait for 8 long months to get this opportunity. And, a BIG Thanks to my running pal Shahid for having shared the DVD that he recently got his hands on.

Yes, I finally got to watch this movie. I would paraphrase the movie as an Inspiration Bomb to a wannabe marathoner (or, any sportsman). 'Spirit of the Marathon' is truly first of its kind in more than one way -
  • This movie has no actors - there are only runners....including the director Jon Dunham!
  • This movie is not targeted at a commercial audience
  • It's a non-fictional movie -Yes! All characters are real, and they did run the Chicago (and, you get to see it too!) marathon
  • This is not a movie with superheroes! This movie shows mere mortals - first-time marathoners, serial marathoners, Boston aspirants and the world record holders - All of them in one movie!
  • What you see is the reality - Nothing is an act
I foung the Spirit in the movie title to be the key. The movie brilliantly exemplifies the capacity of a group of people to pull together persistently and consistently in pursuit of a common purpose - Run a marathon (specifically the Chicago one). This brings out the "Spirit" (as in Esprit de corps) of the marathon.

The movie shows the first-timers on one side and the champions like Amby Burfoot, Deena Kastor, Daniel Njenga on the other side. Jon has beautifully brought out the message that different people run for different reasons. While Leah takes up the sport of running to get over from a broken marriage, Deena (a 2004 Olympic Bronz medalist) runs to win the race. Different people have different reasons to run a marathon - But the result is the same - It increases your self esteem and sets in the sense of accomplishment....of doing something that not most of the world's population does not dare to do - Running a Marathon!

To me, the Spirit in the movie title is like the "Spirit" (sometimes used interchangeably with the word soul). The movie infused a powershot of super-high inspiration and energy into my body and mind, that I felt like I was possessed!

Not sure if this sort of a feeling is because of my love for running or the injury-driven force that has kept me away from the road for a long time now. With my knee pain really nagging me even during a couple of runs last week, I have been a bit depressed.

But I really don't know what took me by force yesterday when I got this DVD home. I set out for an evening 6K run and returned with absolute zero discomfort! This was not a one-time occurrence. I did a pain-free 6K today too! So, yesterday it was the power of possessing a copy of Spirit of the Marathon DVD, and today it was the power of having watched the movie?!!?!

The movie is a very comprehensive one. The Telly Award winner and marathon runner Jon Dunham has covered every single aspect of running a marathon in this movie. From training, to injuries, to family management, to diet, the director has very nicely brought out the nuances from every perspective. He has also covered the pre-race-day preparation! (what to pack before you leave to the starting point).

Overall, this movie is a MUST WATCH! I would strongly recommend any wannabe marathoner (or, any sportsman) to watch this movie. Even non-runners who have always wanted to do something big and achieve something big should watch this movie! The picture on the DVD wrapper (picture on the left) has the finish line depicted with the following lines -
When you cross the finish line, it will change your life forever

Stay Inspired!

October 28, 2008

Is your mentee expecting too much?

Sometime back, I'd written very briefly about mentoring, where I did talk about a couple of good things my mentors taught me. But wearing a mentor's shoe, I've faced this other challenge of managing expectations from a mentee. Some people think that having a mentor is all they need to do to become successful. But, one should always remember the adage -
You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink


A mentor is one who will guide a mentee with the right set of information. But it's up to the mentee to ask what they want. There are times when a mentee asks the mentor to almost do everything (making the horse drink). I did a little bit of searching in the internet and landed up at this simple website called HelpYourselfTherapy.com. They've very beautifully written about "expecting too much". I urge you to read on...

THE CURSE OF EXPECTATIONS

We pick on ourselves when we don't meet our own expectations. We feel sad and angry when others don't meet the expectations we put on them. And even when our expectations are met we don't feel very good about it. We just say: "I expected it anyway."

If we would just stop expecting things we could save ourselves a lot of unhappiness!

WHAT IS REASONABLE TO EXPECT FROM OTHERS?

It is only reasonable to expect that people will do what they say they will do. This is all we can reasonably expect - that people will keep their word.

Sometimes even expecting people to keep their word is unreasonable. People who break their word regularly aren't trustable. We'd be wise to have no expectations at all about them.

WHAT IS REASONABLE TO EXPECT FROM OURSELVES?

The only reasonable expectations are those that come from agreements or contracts. And since contracts are always between at least two people, making a contract with ourselves is impossible! When we refer to "agreeing with ourselves" about something, we are actually agreeing with the air!

When people make an agreement with themselves they are talking about something that they are trying to change and that they are only hoping will work.

EXAMPLE:
We can say "I'm going to lose ten pounds this year." We say this because we feel a need to set a goal to overcome our consistent pattern of eating and exercising.

It would be more honest to say: "I'm expecting to eat and exercise the way I always do,
so I'm going to TRY to pay attention to these things during the next year and I only HOPE that I will lose 10 pounds."

It's only reasonable to expect consistency from yourself. Everything else is just something you are HOPING for and TRYING to accomplish.

SO ARE YOU SAYING THAT EXPECTATIONS ARE WORTHLESS? Yes I am!

THE CURE FOR EXPECTATIONS ABOUT OURSELVES

The person who wanted to lose 10 pounds would be wise to:
1) Admit that they really want to continue to eat and exercise the way they always did.
2) Know that they are totally acceptable this way.
3) Experiment to find new ways of eating and exercising that they actually like to do.
4) Keep doing the new things they like to do until they no longer even have to think about it.

SUMMARY (PLEASE READ THIS!!)

FIRST - Know what you really want.
SECOND - Accept yourself as you are. (Picking on yourself only reinforces worse behavior!)
THIRD - Try new behaviors to see if you might actually want to do them.
LAST - Repeat the new behaviors until they are habits. (This takes six months to a year.)

THE CURE FOR EXPECTATIONS ABOUT OTHERS

Directly ask people for what you want. If they don't give a clear answer, ask again.
When they say a clear "yes" or a clear "no," accept it.

BUT WHAT IF I DON'T KNOW WHAT I WANT?

Then you can't expect anyone else to know what you want either. Nobody can guess what you want.

We learn what we want by reading our feelings well. If you need help noticing your feelings and finding out what you want, that's a therapist's job!!

WHAT TO DO ABOUT EXPECTATIONS YOU HAVE ABOUT OTHERS

1) Decide what the other person would have to actually do for you to be satisfied.
2) Ask for these specific behaviors from them. (This usually includes teaching and giving concrete examples.)
3) Examine your standards: (Can you change your standards to make them better for you?)
4) Accept that things are what they are (after you've done a good job of #1 and #2).
5) Be responsible! (For either staying in this situation or for finding a better one.)

COMMON EXPECTATIONS

Which of these common expectations do you have?
___ "I expect fair treatment at work."
___ "I expect equal work around the house."
___ "I expect help from family and friends."
___ "I expect to enjoy being with my friends."
___ "I expect to be loved."
___ "I expect good sex."
___ "I expect enough cuddling and hugs."
___ "I expect people to be honest ."
___ "I expect people to like me."
___ "I expect people to want to be with me."
___ "I expect people to leave me alone."
___ "I expect children to obey."
___ "I expect my therapist to help me."
___ "I expect children to listen."
___ "I expect children to learn."
___ "I expect my cat to use the litter box!"

Now think about each item you checked and decide how to use # 1 through #5 in the last paragraph to work toward actually getting what you want.

So, just remember one thing - Speak Out! Don't expect an answer without asking the right questions. And....always remember that everything comes with atleast a little hardwork - Don't expect your mentor (or, anyone!) to do everything for you!

Good Luck!! As always, Stay Inspired!!

Traffic Problems in India? Here is a Solution!!!

With the whole world looking to invest in India, and with a slew of automotive biggies launching newer automobiles and two-wheelers for the Indian sub-continent, the 'road infrastructure' problem is getting more highlighted than ever. While the governments work (in tandem with private companies) to address the need for 'better and innovative' road infrastructure, here is a bunch of people from Mapunity who've developed this really useful solution - to 'monitor' the city traffic situation LIVE!

The Bangalore City traffic can be viewed at www.btis.in. This provides near-real-time (with a sub-2 minute lag). Go here to watch the live traffic status across Bangalore City.
Go here to watch the view across cameras at different junctions in Bangalore City.

Now wait! This is not just for Bangalore!! It's being done for Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune and Delhi as well!! I talked about Bangalore because of two reasons 1) The solution is in a mature stage for Bangalore 2) Bangalore has the worst traffic (and roads) amongst these cities...and Bangaloreans will thank Mapunity folks a zillion times for having given this solution.

Chennai Traffic solution will be hosted here.
Hyderabad Traffic solution will be hosted here.
Pune Traffic solution will be hosted here.
Delhi Traffic solution will be hosted here.

October 27, 2008

Happy Deepavali!!!

Dear Readers,

Wish you all a very Happy and Safe Deepavali!

For my readers who are wondering what Deepavali is all about, here is a quickie - It's an Indian festival of lights, and is one of the major festivals in India. For more information, I urge you to go to the Wikipedia definition of Deepavali.

Though this is a religious festival and different regions in India have a different meaning to Deepavali, this festival has more of a spiritual meaning to it. Read on...

While Deepavali is popularly known as the "festival of lights", a more appropriate significance is "the new year of luck and wealth".

Central to Hindu philosophy is the assertion that there is something beyond the physical body and mind which is pure, infinite, and eternal, called the Atman. Just as we celebrate the birth of our physical being, Deepavali is the celebration of this Inner Light, in particular the knowing of which outshines all darkness (removes all obstacles and dispels all ignorance), awakening the individual to one's true nature, not as the body, but as the unchanging, infinite, immanent and transcendent reality. With the realization of the Atman comes universal compassion, love, and the awareness of the oneness of all things (higher knowledge). This brings Ananda (Inner Joy or Peace).

Diwali celebrates this through festive fireworks, lights, flowers, sharing of sweets, and worship. While the story behind Deepavali varies from region to region, the essence is the same - to rejoice in the Inner Light (Atman) or the underlying reality of all things (Brahman).

Content Source: Wikipedia.org

October 22, 2008

IBM Software Universe 2008 - A Must Attend Event!

IBM Software Universe is happening on November 11 and 12, at The Renaissance Convention Center, Powai, Mumbai.
IBM Software Universe is the largest business and IT conclave in the country, which we host for our clients every year. Through this platform, we bring our entire ecosystem together to reinforce IBM's true leadership in driving innovation through middleware technologies, that has steered Indian IT landscape.

This event is a 'must attend', and I urge you to sign-up for this event and experience innovation first hand. I'm going to be around and also doing sessions on 11th. Do feel free to get in touch with me for more information.

Some of the event highlights are -

Get yourself registered today!

For RSVP, call Priya on +91 98705 67425

Moon Impact Probe - Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam's brainchild

Chandrayaan-1 was successfully launched this morning from ISRO SHAR (Shriharikota Range). This MOON mission is been closely observed by a zillion people across the world for various reasons. Some of the key aspects of the Chandrayaan-1 mission are -
  • India's first giant leap beyond the Earth orbit
  • 5 'Made In India' payloads (scientific instruments)
  • 3 payloads from the European Space Agency (one of which was jointly developed with India and the other with Indian contribution)
  • 3 payloads from the United States (NASA)
  • 1 payload from Bulgaria
But, to many Indians and young students across the country, this mission will be more closer to heart - It's because, this mission also carries our former President Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam's brainchild in it. Yes, I'm referring to the Moon Impact Probe (MIP). So, what is this MIP all about? Read on...

The primary objective of MIP is to demonstrate the technologies required for landing a probe at the desired location on the moon. Through this probe, it is also intended to qualify some of the technologies related to future soft landing missions. This apart, scientific exploration of the moon at close distance is also intended using MIP. The Moon Impact Probe will be ejected from Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft at the earliest opportunity as the spacecraft gets closer to the Moon to hit the lunar surface in a chosen area.

The MIP weighs about 29kgs and consists of the following -
  1. a C-band Radar Altimeter for continuous measurement of altitude of the Probe above lunar surface and to qualify technologies for future landing missions
  2. a Video Imaging System for acquiring images of the surface of moon from the descending probe
  3. a Mass Spectrometer for measuring the constituents of extremely thin lunar atmosphere during its 20 minute descent to the lunar surface
The MIP was totally developed in-house at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre of Thiruvananthapuram.

I highly encourage you to visit the ISRO website and take a look at this well stitched brochure about Chandrayaan-1 India's first Moon Mission

Courtesy: Pictures and knowledge from ISRO.org

October 21, 2008

Chandrayaan-1 - India's Moon Mission is Ready!

For long, its been our dream to reach the Moon - Earth's only natural satellite. Tomorrow morning at 5:50Hrs, India's dream is going to come true. Man's curiosity to know the Moon has for been growing ever since the days of the Ramayana and Mahabharatha and before.

ISRO is launching the first Indian Moon Mission - Chandrayaan 1 - tomorrow. ISRO is also doing a live webcast of the lauch tomorrow morning between 5:50Hrs and 6:50Hrs. You can view the webcast here.

I'm really curious to see this and know more about how well it goes off. I just hope the weather cooperates too! Below are some pictures of Chandrayaan-1 and PSLV-C11 from ISRO's website.



Kudos to my ISRO friends!! You guys Rock!! I'm proud of you!

Motionbased to become Garmin Connect soon!

It was in July 2007, when I decided to get 'marry' running to my life. Having said that, I decided to track my daily runs, and found Motionbased to be offering a nice platform. I had signed up for the Motionbased Standard account by paying $95/year. I had to face a lot of questions from my parents on my decision to pay an amount as steep as $95 per year to track my runs.

I think Motionbased heard me! I received an email two days ago from Motionbased with a 'good news'. Here is what the email read -
Hello MotionBased Subscribers,

While we have posted the update on the release of Garmin Connect and MotionBased subscriptions to our MBlog, Forum and the MotionBased web site, we wanted to send you the information directly to you so you would know what is happening with your account as we come closer to the migration.

As you may know, we've been working on building Garmin Connect to replace MotionBased. We're making strides in improving performance and fixing bugs that we hope will enhance your experience. You've been a great customer and we wanted to thank you for making MotionBased the community that it is.

Unfortunately, our anticipated date to complete the migration of MotionBased to Garmin Connect is delayed. We're making sure that Garmin Connect is faster, more stable, and provides an even better user experience than MotionBased. As we ramp up toward migrating over 4.5 million activities that you've contributed to the TrailNetwork, we are making fixes and new improvements to Garmin Connect every 4 weeks. In the meantime, out of respect for your patronage and recognition for your patience, we've decided to grant additional privileges to paid MotionBased subscribers.

According to our records, you purchased an annual MotionBased Standard subscription before September 30, 2008. You will continue to have access to MotionBased Standard and be granted free access into Garmin Connect Plus for 2 years starting from your original expiration date. As a result, you will no longer receive any subscription charges from MotionBased and your account at Garmin Connect Plus will not auto-renew at the end of the free access period.

Again, we apologize for the delays and thank you for your support.

The MotionBased Team

The first thing I did was to calculate "Ah! So, effectively, I've paid $95 for three years...which is $32 a year". Thats not bad at all...especially for the fact that I get to use all the features of Motionbased Standard for three years, an also get to enjoy Garmin Connect Plus for 2 years (this actually costs $40 per year). So, net-net, I've paid $95 and I get to enjoy services worth $175!!! Thats a deal!!

I'm still wondering what are those 'advanced features' that Garmin Connect Plus is going to offer. How different is this going to be from those offered by Motionbased Standard? I guess the waiting period has now been extended to December 2008! That's moved by three months, as opposed to their first planned release on September 2008.

October 18, 2008

Chennai Runners on Chennai Live 104.8FM!!

It was indeed a special moment for Chennai Runners yesterday. Though we've been on many printed media publications (from newspapers to magazines), it was the first time we were ON AIR! Yes, in light of the ECR8 that we are organizing tomorrow, Chennai Live 104.8 FM, a part of the Muthoot Group invited us to their studio in Egmore, Chennai, for a talk show.

This group launched Chennai Live in July this year. The most unique aspect of this FM station is the fact that they are more focused towards rendering 'theme-based' programs to the Chennaiites. They have this morning breakfast show where they do a 'theme-based' talk show with noted personalities on the phone line and the RJ (Radio Jockey) facilitates a discussion around a subject.
Chennai Runners at Chennai Live 104.8FM
Shahid, Hari and myself went to their studio at about 3PM yesterday. We were welcomed by an every-smiling Sonali, who hosted the show for us. I must admit one thing - hosting a radio show is not a joke! Yes, Sonali perfected the art of talking and more importantly 'steering the discussion' in the way she wanted it to proceed. We spent over an hour and a half at their studio, but it felt like a very short time.
Chennai Runners at Chennai Live 104.8FM
After a cup of coffee, Sonali lead the three of us into the studio where we were welcomed by the sound engineer (he does a real good job with those bunch of gadgets in the studio!). We were made to sit on one side of the table, while Sonali and the engineer took their seats in the studio 'cockpit' (ah...its the name I gave...looking at the bunch of mixers and other controls). After a brief about how the show would go on and an explanation of the 'technical terms' that's used to denote a break and a recording, Sonali started off the show.
Chennai Runners at Chennai Live 104.8FM
Pretty much in line with my expectations, the show was more like a talk show. We ended up having a lot of short conversations (which is termed as a 'link' in their parlance) which were recorded. We had longer conversations between these 'links' which was more of an informal chat. The show was centered around the ECR8 Run that we are organizing tomorrow on the ECR Road (starting from Mayajaal). We covered almost everything we wanted to - from the ECR8 to our history to our vision, we covered every single topic in this show (Yes, we did even talk about the 'runners and the dog chase' problems!!).

We really missed Ram, KK, Vidyuth and others on the show. It would've been a lot more fun to have you guys in the same room yesterday. Personally, I loved this experience of being on a talk show at Chennai Live 104.8's radio station. I've longed for this experience ever since I've heard the shows on AIR (All India Radio) 15+ years ago. Overall, it was a very good and a pleasant experience!

See you tomorrow at the ECR8!! As always, Stay Inspired!

October 17, 2008

Looking at the Brighter Side - Patience and Perseverence is the Key

Its been a very challenging period for me since August 21st this year. That was the fateful day (the details of the run, taken from my Garmin is on the right side) when I badly injured by left knee due to running with overconfidence. After a few physiotherapy sittings, I was asked to try out running a short 3 kilometer distance. But it was only then did I realize that the injury was pretty severe as I could hardly run after about 3 kilometers. This is when my confidence started to shatter.

I had never experienced a feeling like this before. With my Singapore Marathon training schedule completely shattered (I have a new schedule now!), my confidence level started to slowly reduce (though I comforted myself with optimistic thoughts). There was a point when I was limping around, without being able to climb stairs nor sit with my knees bent in an acute angle. Even then, there was this ray of hope that was always telling me that the colorful side is yet to come.

It has actually been two days now, and I've started to properly run. When I say 'properly', I'm referring to a run that has not resulted in any pain on my left knee. This morning's run (details from my Garmin is on the left side picture) was the best after a very very long time. I was able to do a 6 kilometer run at a pace of 10:47! I feel like a free bird! The joy and happiness with which I finished today's run is something that's really unexplainable.

Though I've motivated a lot of people and kept many inspired, this was the first personal experience in the recent past which has made me motivate myself and keep myself inspired. Should you find something challenging, don't give up! Stay put on and you will see the challenges slowly dissolving into happiness and joy. Always look at the brighter side!

October 15, 2008

ECR8 - You better Run!

Have you started to plan for the weekend? Wondering how to spend the weekend differently? Are you one of those who loves to meet people and indulge in some physical exercise? If the answer is a 'yes' to these questions, then ECR8 is for you!

We at Chennai Runners are organizing the 8th East Coast Road Run (nicknamed ECR8) on the 19th October on the East Coast Road. Here are the details of the event -
Date: October 19, 2008 (Sunday)
  • Start Time: 5:15 am
  • Start point: On Shore resort inside the Mayajaal compound
  • End point: On Shore resort inside the Mayajaal compound
  • Assembly time: 4:30 am
  • Events: 5K, 10K, 15K, 20K, 25K, 30K, 35K
The registration fee is Rs.250 which will include a buffet breakfast at Mayajaal, Gatorade while you run, Aquafina mineral water, bananas. You can do a pre-registration here. We have a complete medical support system and ambulances that will ply through the course, so you are going to feel totally safe!

Apollo DKV has come forward to be the 'Associate Sponsors' for this event, and Gatorade is our 'Hydration Partner'.

So, what's still stopping you? All you need to do is to set your alarm to reach Mayajaal on the Sunday morning and enjoy the experience! We believe in the fact that running is fun, and I'm sure you'll feel the same too!

Customer focussed Innovation

In a competitive world, companies have been focusing on the innovation or the 'I' factor in every stage of their value chain - product inception, development, marketing, sales and support. In the technology space, organizations and companies have been focusing a lot to infuse innovative thinking into the minds of their employees. But still, we do see a lot of these technology initiatives failing to see the bright daylight!

The key point that some fail to understand and many fail to stick to, is the fact that innovation should be driven by your customer's needs. The "need to innovate" is a stimuli that has to come from the market or your customers. For best results, the process of innovation has to start from the market and end in the market. The terms market and customers can be used interchangeably.

Here is what I use to explain this factor to everyone (including my customers) -
A 'Customer' to me, is like a Holy Cow. Just because I've invented a new shoe that uses the latest of technologies, does not mean that it would make the Holy Cow happy. I need to spend time and understand what this Holy Cow really needs. Technology is always secondary. It's the customer's need that actually drives my innovation

Stay focused and listen to your customers. That is where your future lies!

October 07, 2008

It feels good to be back in action!

After a really long break from running (50+ days) due to my left knee lateral collateral ligament strain, I finally got to hit the asphalt last evening!!! Trust me, I'm running short of words to express the happiness and joy that was gushing when I completed the run without any pain. It feels so good....and I'm happy to be doing this.

With the Singapore Marathon (my first international marathon) exactly 60 days 15 hours 32 minutes and 19 seconds away, the level of ramp-up is much higher than what it was 50 days ago. The training plan that put together 50 days ago is now invalid! Based on how my body cooperates in the next 6 days, I'm going to come up with an All New training plan. I know that it's going to be pretty tough (and foolish!) to ramp-up to do a sub 3 hr 30 min completion. Given my bad experience with injury that resulted out of sheer over-confidence, I'm not going to be trying anything outlandish for this marathon.

I'm going to be training to complete the marathon (possibly in less than 5 hours and 30 minutes...is that too high or too low?) Well, my fastest 10Km has been 54 minutes and my fastest 5Km has been 26 (or, 24?..forgot!) minutes. I just landed in Bangalore this morning, and will look forward to sneaking a few runs in the next few days...till I get back to Chennai on 10th.

Nevertheless, the injury was just another brick wall, and I'm happy that it's presented me with yet another brick wall of a a 60 day training plan for my first marathon! Challenges are nice to have. The greater the Challenge, the sweeter is the taste of Success!

Stay Inspired!

September 30, 2008

Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) - God's Own Architecture

Intended Audience: Anyone and Everyone!

Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), has for long been used by different people in different ways. Some have used this three letter buzzword to sell their products (without actually understanding what it really meant!), while some (a handful) have passionately sold their products by truly implementing SOA. Though there has been a lot of information about SOA in the internet, its always been a tough task to explain this to a layperson (say, a doctor or a fashion designer!)

In this article, we'll try to step aside from the 'serious' and 'geekish' SOA discussion, and get into a lighter way of looking at this three letter buzzword. We all know how complex God's creations have been. From the universe (this is still a black box to mankind!) to the creation of humans, God's creation has always amused mankind. In the IT parlance, God is the supreme architect of all what we see around and inside of us. For the sake of dicussion, in this article, lets consider the Human Body (yes, our very own body!) as a product, and SOA as the architecture. Do you see some similarities? Read on...

Before we jump any further, lets quickly recall the SOA Reference Architecture, as defined by IBM (an undisputed leader in this space!)

SOA

Above picture shows the SOA Reference Architecture defined by IBM. A closer look at it shows the different aspects of the SOA. The Enterprise Service Bus is the core integration backbone of the SOA. The rest of them are self-explanatory. Without delving much into this, lets quickly jump back into our mainstream discussion - God's Own Architecture.

Lets extend SOA to the Human Body. As we all understand, the human body is one of the most complex, robust, flexible and agile systems. The below diagram is what I used to explain SOA to a doctor friend of mine.

SOA Human Body

A closer look at the above diagram will be good enough for you to understand the similarity. The Spinal System is the core of the human body (Its the integration layer!). The human brain takes care of the Process and Interaction Services. The human body is the most complex implementation based on SOA! This is very obvious with the fact that one cannot map a certain part of the body to only one aspect of SOA. For example, the human brain is so complex that one cannot rule out the participation of the human brain in Partner Services or Interaction Services.

In simple terms, apart from making laypeople understand SOA, the attempt here is to convey that Service Oriented Archtiecture (SOA) is God's Own Architecture (or, atleast close to it!). SOA has to be applied to the context of an industry to be able to understand its actual business value. In this article, we took the human body as an example. One might also want to consider the Solar System (with the Sun as the ESB, and so on) when explaining SOA to an astronomer.

So, Remember...SOA as a plain technology or business statement DOES NOT sell (and the world has seen this)! Industry content is the key!