Category Archives: blog

Overhauling IT Education in India

internet-in-india
I feel that level of IT education is really pathetic in our country (except in maybe top 20% colleges like IITs and NITs). It may seem funny coming from a non-graduate like me, but running my own software company for over 10 years gave me enough exposure and interaction with programmers coming out of colleges and also teachers teaching them. I visited colleges often to give seminar, workshops etc.

I have observed that in most technical fields, everybody first wants to join a great company and earn big bucks. Engineers, MCAs want to join Microsoft, Google, TCS, Infosys when they come out of college. Students who are not selected by big companies, try to get job with small software companies and students who don’t get job with any software company end up finally applying for teaching positions with colleges. So basically we have failed programmers teaching programmers of future.

How can we expect this system to work? We need to change the system at many levels. Here are my thoughts in brief:

  1. We need to attract good bright people to become teachers.
  2. We need to partner with Software companies and involve working professionals to teach in colleges part-time or over the weekend.
  3. We need to make competitive coding contests compulsory to attend. Google Code Jam happens once every year. Should be mandatory for every IT engineering and MCA student.
  4. Every student should participate on challenges on websites such as HackerEarth, Codechef, Topcoder etc.
  5. Many courses from Harvard, Stanford etc. are available online and even free in many cases. May be they can be taught as it is to whole class-room with teacher just acting as facilitators.
  6. MCA is a Master’s program, but it’s considered inferior to engineering which is a Graduation program. It needs to be improved with greater stress on industrial training which is part of 6th Sem.
  7. Colleges should open incubation centers and encourage their students to become entrepreneurs. Maybe college can even have a stake in the formed company. Not all such startups will succeed, but even if a few do, govt. will easily make up the investment in other failed companies.
  8. Teachers normally don’t upgrade themselves with the time. They should be regularly asked to take courses and appear for exams themselves to keep improving.
  9. IT Teachers should also be allowed to pursue some programming related profession. Not teaching or private coaching business, but some real programming with some software company or independent programming work. It’s allowed for Architects and Doctors as they are quite practical intensive fields. It should be done for the IT teachers as well.
  10. Students should be made aware about open-source resources such as Github and made to participate in resources like StackOverFlow
  11. New and Emerging programming languages/ frameworks should be included in the curriculum – Ruby on Rails, Python, Node.js & of course Swift

If given a chance, I would love to talk to Colleges and even Government in detail and explore how can we work along these lines and overhaul the IT education scenario in the country. Looking forward to hear thoughts from readers of this blog.

Update to iOS8 Over the Air without deleting Photos/Videos

iOS8 is here and everybody is in hurry to update to the latest iOS on their iPhones and iPads. Not sure if it’s something to be excited about or not but we can finally make a phone call from iPad (if iPhone and iPad use same iCloud account and are connected to same wifi).

Anyways so as soon as iOS8 released for public a few hours back, it sent a shockwave among all the enthusiasts as they saw a strange message on update screen asking them to free up about 6 GB (most people use 16 GB model) on their iPhones. Lots of people took to Twitter to express their anger or joke about it.

Most media houses ran a story about this and also offered a simple solution to all such users, which was to connect iPhone to PC/Mac via iTunes and update. This approach only requires about 1 GB free. While that’s a good advise and will come in handy if your family members also use iPhones as once downloaded same update can be applied to any iPhone (same model of-course) by connecting it via iTunes (Be careful about canceling sync when you connect a new iPhone though), I am guessing some people may not have their connecting cable with them or can’t wait to get to their PC and want to update OTA right now.

Well if you are also one of the users who want to update OTA without deleting all those photos and videos, I have a solution for you. Well you still need to delete some stuff so I am not suggesting something super-special here. My suggestion is don’t delete any of your personal stuff, don’t delete photos, videos, anything like that, instead delete most of the apps, all apps if needed to free up those gigs.

Why you ask? Well because:

You will be anyways downloading them again even if you don’t delete them right now. Let me make myself clear, most apps have released updated versions to work well with iOS8 and an update is nothing but a fresh download of complete app so you may better delete and do a fresh download.

There is only one small difference, deleting an app will delete all the app data as well, which won’t come back if you don’t have a copy in iCloud already. But I don’t see any major drama here as many apps don’t really save any useful data on the device and apps which save your personal data, most probably sync it with iCloud so you are not going to lose anything.

So bottom-line is if your iPhone is configured with iCloud and apps synch their documents & data with it, go ahead and just delete all the apps to free up space on your iPhone. Update to iOS8 and download latest versions of all the apps again.

Why I am Inspired by Arvind Kejriwal

Arvind Kejriwal has created history by becoming CM of Delhi after Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) (Donate Here) performed exceedingly well in state elections. AAP was formed just 10 months before elections and was ignored and dismissed by media and other political parties. It’s really an incredible feet however this post is not about politics at all, this is about an individual and how he has given hope to a lot of people in this country.

Let’s forget politics and ponder what we can learn from Arvind regarding life:

Honesty and Truth can really Win

It’s really refreshing to see honesty and truth win in real life rather than in some feel good novel or movie. Most of us have really given up on truth and have accepted that to succeed in life or business you will need to be unfair at times. We always believed that a fair and honest person can’t really fight with powerful and rich people or company. Arvind proves that you can actually be honest and win.

Looking ordinary is ok

Arvind is an ordinary looking guy, he is not tall or handsome. Even his clothes and dressing sense is pretty ordinary. He is never bothered how he turns out in pictures. Looking ordinary can really be bad for self-esteem and can make you less confident about yourself. But that’s not a case with Arvind, you have to just listen to him talking once and you will understand that confidence and self-esteem are really not the things he lacks at all.

From my personal experience I know how worried I used to be due to how I look and my poor dressing sense and I had to really work a lot to get over that. I am sure many people can now identify with Arvind and feel a lot better about themselves. He has actually made looking ordinary cool these days :-)

Having a Big Car or Big House is not really a big thing

In Indian society it’s a norm to flout your worldly possessions and a mad rat race on to look powerful and above  everybody else around you. Income levels are rising rapidly in India and people are buying cars like anything. You have to just watch people getting out of those cars, they get out of car like a king and walk like others present around them simply don’t matter. I personally find people walking with such stiff posture really funny.

Arvind uses a pretty ordinary car to move around even after becoming a Chief Minister. I am sure many owners of Wagon R and other small cars will be really happy to see that. I am sure if all of us can really judge people not based on their looks, car or house and instead based on what they do in life and how they conduct themselves, our society will be a lot better.

That’s why I find Arvind Kejriwal inspiring. He can teach so much about life, business, management, entrepreneurship and even startup. Let’s discuss his politics some other time :-)

Kids & Computer

I gifted a computer to my son on his 9th birthday and tried to guide him on what all he can do with it. After a few months, I made an interesting observation – he obviously loves playing games and he does that often, but he has also developed genuine interest in doing other stuff with computer because he finds it equally exciting as well. This helped me realise that if kids are encouraged and taught to use computers productively, they won’t be really using them only for thing s like gaming, social-networking and other things any parent won’t like them doing.

I thought this can help everybody having young kids or grand-kids at home so I am sharing a few tips from my experience here:

Learning to Type  – The first thing I told my son was that he should know how to properly type using all his fingers from both hands and not just use 2 fingers to type. I told him to visit –  www.typeonline.co.uk and take typing lessons there. It’s a free website and very useful for anybody who wants to learn proper typing sitting at home. So after a month he was able to type properly and you know what kept him interested in doing it – Speed Test. Website offers a speed test to know your typing speed and he loved to regularly test himself and do better everyday. He is doing 25 WPM right now which I think is a pretty good start.

DIY Projects – One day son asked me how he can learn juggling and I searched and showed him a video on Youtube which teaches juggling step-by-step. He tried doing that but lost interest after a few days. But he remembered how to use youtube after that. One day when I came home from office, he was making paper aeroplanes and other origami stuff watching their videos on Youtube. There are DIY (Do It Yourself) videos for practically everything on web and you can learn anything watching them. Recently I am trying to get him interested in a very good website dedicated to Kids DIY and it is called www.diy.org.

This site is a community for children where they can learn to make various things like cardboard birdhouses, soda bottle safety glasses, duct tape wallets and toothbrush robots that scurry across a desk like alien life-forms. All these projects allow children to earn virtual badges, which will appear on the site. Kid’s account is also linked with parent’s account so that you can monitor your kid’s activities on the website.

Learn Programming –  What I love about programming is that even kids can learn and do it effectively, that’s why we keep reading about so many 10-13 yr old programming wiz kids and now there are various websites which teach programming in very effective manner. My son learned HTML, CSS and basic website development on www.codecademy.com which is a free website and teaches you programming like a game. You have to progress through various stages and while doing so you earn points and badges to show off on your profile. Contrary to what many of you think, programming can actually be quite fun. Check out video on www.code.org to see why rock stars and athletes are learning to program these days. Check out this, this, this & this for more resources on teaching kids to program.

I hope you find these suggestions useful and practical with kids in your homes. Let me know what do you think in comments.