Sunday, May 22, 2011

Latest Yahoo! Mail Beta has a problem with BlackBerry mail setup

Yesterday I was cleaning up unwanted data from my BlackBerry handheld, and I also removed some of my mail boxes as I am not using some of them very actively. There were 9 mail accounts configured which were even confusing me also sometimes. I decided to go with 3 as of maximum mail accounts to use in phone.

While doing this, I removed my Yahoo mail id also from BlackBerry, which is actually my first even mail account I opened over 10 years back. I thought to keep it in my phone just for the sake of having it for such a long time. I tried adding it, and it was giving me 'invalid email address or password' error. What the heck? I have been using it with same password without problems and now its no longer working? I immediately checked on my computer and same password was working correctly.

I tried same after rebooting my phone, but no luck. Checked on some blogs/forums, somewhere it was discussed to resend service books, but I am using personal mail plan with BIS, so its not applicable to me. I tried 'Register Now' from Options/Host Routing Table, but that too didn't solve my problem. Finally, I changed my Yahoo mail password, this time it took little longer to give same silly authentication error. No other option is left at this time which any user can think of to make it work.

I was about to call BlackBerry support for this, then I recalled the change I made in my yahoo mail since I configured it in my BlackBerry, and that was choosing this new Yahoo! mail beta version. Ooo la la, I thought to gave it shot before reaching out to BB support, I sat back on my laptop and started finding out a way to rollback my Yahoo beta choice, it took me a little while and then I went back by 2 versions and reset to the Classic version. I was back in year 2005 or so at that time by looking at classic version of yahoo mail box. This time I tried configuring it in the phone, AND IT WORKED. Isn't it funny? After configuring it successfully on the phone, I switched my yahoo mail again to latest beta, and things working seamlessly on phone also now.

New Yahoo! beta version certainly have some problem with BlackBerry adapters, they should look into it as soon as possible. I'll also try to post this problem to them, let's see if they'll fix this before more users get frustrated in same situation.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

An introduction to Cloud computing


You might have heard of this new name floating around, but there a lot of different thoughts in various people about what the hell this 'cloud computing' is? I tried to collect some content to make it easy for you to understand it a little better. When I heard this for first time, even I was not able to map this name to its real meaning. Let us discuss it further, if you have any questions... please feel free to contact me.

Buying computer systems for everyone isn't an ultimate task, one also has to purchase software or software licenses to give self/users the tools they require. It's so stressful that you to spend your hard earned money at every step of computer usage. In a cloud computing system, there's a significant burden share. Local computers no longer have to do all the heavy lifting when it comes to running applications. The network of computers that make up the cloud handles them instead. Hardware and software demands on the user's side decrease. The only thing the user's computer needs to be able to run is the cloud computing system's interface software, which can be as simple as a Web browser, and the cloud's network takes care of the rest.

Industry giants like; AmazonWebServices, Rackspace.com, Microsoft, Google, and 1&1 are already started providing this platform to end-users like us for hosting our web applications to serve as service. There's a good chance you've already used some form of cloud computing. If you have an e-mail account with a Web-based e-mail service like Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail or Gmail, then you've had some experience with cloud computing. Instead of running an e-mail program on your computer, you log in to a Web e-mail account remotely. The software and storage for your account doesn't exist on your computer -- it's on the service's computer cloud.

When talking about a cloud computing system, it's helpful to divide it into two sections: the front end and the back end. They connect to each other through a network, usually the Internet. The front end is the side the computer user, or client, sees. The back end is the "cloud" section of the system.

The front end includes the client's computer (or computer network) and the application required to access the cloud computing system. Not all cloud computing systems have the same user interface. Services like Web-based e-mail programs leverage existing Web browsers like Internet Explorer or Firefox. Other systems have unique applications that provide network access to clients.

On the back end of the system are the various computers, servers and data storage systems that create the "cloud" of computing services. In theory, a cloud computing system could include practically any computer program you can imagine, from data processing to video games. Usually, each application will have its own dedicated server.

The applications of cloud computing are practically limitless. With the right middleware, a cloud computing system could execute all the programs a normal computer could run. Potentially, everything from generic word processing software to customized computer programs designed for a specific company could work on a cloud computing system.

Useful links for more info:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing
http://www.infoworld.com/d/cloud-computing/what-cloud-computing-really-means-031
http://computer.howstuffworks.com/cloud-computing.htm
http://www.wikinvest.com/concept/Cloud_Computing

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Desktop giant Microsoft acquired internet voice communication king Skype

Today on 10-May-2011, Microsoft and Skype announced an agreement according to which Microsoft will buy and acquire Skype for $8.5 millions. Google was the second and only bidder in buying Skype, but latter quits before discussing money matters.

Microsoft has been proven a desktop giant with its' smashing tool MS-Office and WindowsOS, with a few other enterprise products, where Skype is having entirely a different business line of internet communication. This is really an interesting acquisition to see if Microsoft can take Skype's vision to the next level, or Skype will become a paid service like any other service being offered by the desktop giant.

Earlier there has been rumors that Apple is showing intent to acquire and Skype, that too will be a killer acquisition for the free users community of Skype. It has 663 million total users, most of whom are active chatters over callers. Microsoft is planning to raise funding on this name thru IPO this year, per Bloomberg.

It appears to me that Microsoft is now trying to give competition, by integrating Skype services with Windows Mobile and Desktop applications, against Apple's FaceTime and Google's GTalk.

Still, it seems to be an interesting move to watch how, and where, two different lines meet their business visions and change the market trends and user habits.

Official page: http://www.microsoft.com/Presspass/press/2011/may11/05-10CorpNewsPR.mspx

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Communication between virtual teams - Ground rules

I have seen co-located teams has been proven the best for overall success of project. Colleagues just sit all together, everything runs just fastly within the same environmental, cultural, geographical and professional conditions. Over 90% of the communication pass by non-verbal channels, which includes approximately 60% by body language and 30% by tone of verbal or written communication. Co-located team has an advantage to read that 90% part of communication as well very easily.

With the growth of internet, globe has become much smaller. Business has grown far beyond the geographical limits. Now a days, when we talk about IT projects, next word come out on discussion is outsourcing, and many of those are being developed cross nations having USA-India combination on the top of such nations list. Team members are distributed at different such locations to coordinate for a common goal - the successful completion of project. Such teams deployed at different locations are better known as virtual teams. Now, communication between virtual teams has become significant factor for smooth execution of the project. I always ask a question to several forums on virtual teams, "How to read body language of members from virtual teams?" (Note: Body language provides 60% of the total communication). This is not easy to implement to cover this gap in communication between virtual teams.

Based upon my experience while working with virtual teams for many years now on all the roles from a developer, tester to lead and project manager I have learnt onsite-offshore communication is very difficult to handle without ground rules, and by having such rules in place onsite-offshore communication becomes much better than co-located teams. I'll publish separate article on "Pros and Cons of co-located team".

In this article, I'll just list down the headlines with short description of the ground rules that I always prefer to set in my teams and follow. Later, I'll definitely write detailed description for each one to explain all these:
  • Have every team member to write a note on their desk that what is our main goal to achieve in the project that we are working on? Make sure that's easily visible too.
  • Modes and Frequency of communications - Daily/Weekly reports by email, Status calls on Phone/VoIP, Daily workload/task allocation etc.
  • Set a protocol of response - Every communication should be responded even with the shortest word like 'OK', until the thread is actually/formally closed. Even 'FYI' messages should also be responded with 'Thanks'. (Consider communication in Army personnel, call doesn't end until 'over and out' is said by officer.)
  • Clearly identify actors and roles - Product owner, Project Manager/Scrum Master, Team Lead, Developers, Testers, Client representative, Who'll approve/accept the delivery etc.
  • Information flow of communications/reports etc. - Email, Phone call, Who'll send to whom? Daily/Weekly etc.
  • Who will distribute what information, and to whom, and in what frequency? - It appears to be clear in itself, I'll publish more on this soon.
  • Velocity and Burndown charts of routine activities, with priority and challenges/risks. - How much of the work was done today/this week/10 days/month? How much of the work is pending? Any challenge, problem or roadblock to meet next deadline etc.?
  • Define template and formats for every communication to circulate - That includes all the reports, charts and status metrices etc.
  • Share your agenda with all the invitees at the time of scheduling the call/meeting, and give enough time to them for preparing before the meeting to avoid time wastage in the conference room/bridge. Also, fix the time slot for the meeting, and stick to that time limit. Don't discuss anything other than your agenda. Mark all discussion items with the conclusion/action items.
  • Workload with every team member for the given and next days. - Create a rule in team members to shout when the are, or going to be free in next 8-16 hours time (or in whatever time limit you can define in  your workflow). This helps delivery owner to assign them next tasks before they get free.
  • Keep daily lessons learnt captured in your file - You should always avoid mistakes to occur again in your path, and such file can also help other project teams in your organization.
  • Keep team PTOs calendar in place to help you plan your delivery for the given time period. Always have at least 10% time buffer in your plans to mitigate unknown risks.
  • Remember 80/20 rule, and always have risk register on the top of your desk, and keep visiting it frequently.
I don't say, above rules can evaporate all the communication problems in your project virtual teams, but they can at least give common directions to all your colleagues working, and can also help in more sorts to formalize your work culture. Once discipline is there, productivity will improve automatically. Remember, reading body language of virtual teams' members is still not solved by these ground rules, but there are a lot of other cover ups in this framework to automate the communication flow.

In case you can share your lessons learnt with virtual teams model, and your best experience, please contribute in comments to help others to improve.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

My experience with success in PMP exam


Last Monday (March 7, 2011), I passed the PMP exam at prometric centre (Gurgaon), and it was much relieving for me when I saw "Congratulations" at the end of exam confirming me that I have cleared it successfully.

It took me real 2 aggregated months to feel little confident before my exam. How I prepared for it is a long story, but I definitely want to share with you my learnings during the course. That may help you in define your roadmaps who are preparing for same title.

I primarily read Rita Mulcahy's PMP EXAM PREP book (Edition 6), overall I referred to below listed useful references:
  • Rita Mulcahy's PMP EXAM PREP book (Edition 6)
  • PMBOK 4
  • JOSEPH PHILIPS' CAPM/PMP book
  • Comprehensive notes on PMZilla
I also tried below listed mock tests:
One thing to motivate you regarding the mock tests is, my average score of all mock tests was less than 60% which is much lesser than to qualify real exam. It was highly demotivating factor for me but I kept trying with a vision to develop my approach to think for right answer while in exam mode. My main motive was to understand several PM processes and groups by their need/timings of required actions. I didn't crammed ITTOs but just got thru them to understand them in such a way so I can identify the right answer from options. I always did my gap analysis for wrong answers during mocks, this was really helpful to improve my knowledge.

Although it was difficult for me, but I always tried to think of correct answer based upon my understandings before looking at answer options (during mocks) so I can do the gap analysis during the preparation.

I'd say if you study 2-3 hours a day, it'd take max 2 months time for good preparation. Longer duration may divert your mind and make you tired. Daily study is an important factor for sure and 2 months are enough.

I planned my scope in 3 portions, and divided to study for 3 days on each portion:
Portion 1: PM framework, integration, scope, time, cost management areas. (most important part of book)
Portion 2: quality, hr, communication management areas.
Portion 3: risk, procurement and ethics/social areas.

I read all 3 portions thoroughly once, and then quick reviews 2-3 times. 2 days for one revision, and cycle goes on until exam. Between every revision I read other materials also (such as mocks, pmbok, wiki pages etc. for additional knowledge).

Also, one important thing: specially in last 10 days, every day 2-4 times, practice writing below items as fast as possible, it'd help you to create your cheatsheet during initial 15minutes on the big day.
  • process areas/processes matrix (page 43 of pmbok4)
  • organization matrix types and roles/responsibilities (page 28 of pmbok4)
  • all formulas etc.
  • 1,2,3,6 sigma %
Last one week is crucial - do overview full book every day. All should be on top of your mind during those days. Leave giving mocks during these days, as it always demotivated me with less scores :(

Plan 2 months for hard study and leave every other work that you do to keep you busy. Give your full mind to it only. I did no evening jog, no product development, no partying, no extra activities after my office, whatever takes my mind away from my PMP plan. Spend 2-3 hours a day to study (morning is better) but do it regularly every day to not break the momentum. Try to memorize all the headings in your book while driving the car/walking/before sleep/nature call times etc., discuss about exam and its advantages with spouse/family as much as you can to maintain interest, be positive, and get it done.

I'd be feeling lucky in case I can contribute to your success in PMP exam, please add comment here with your questions, and I'll be replying as best/early as I can.

The excitement during last 2 minutes drive you crazy coz you are very much done with your exam and survey feedback, and left with waiting for result only. The moment of fingers crossed, eyes on screen without flickering, can listen only heartbeat... and much much better when you see CONGRATULATIONS message on your screen. This was the time when I was hanged to see my computer continuously for 2-3 minutes before I realized I have done it. Then prometric issued me my scoresheet. PMI would be sending my certificate in next few days. I gave a call to my wife immediately I came out of the prometric centre, and I loved that reaction.

I wish all of you see the same message on your screens after your exams. Good luck guys.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Life was much easier when Apple and BlackBerry were just the fruits

Most of my friends are now using iPhone or BlackBerry, or both like me. Though its much better to stay connected with my buddies than on computers, as it gives me facility to remain on social sites all the times. Almost every hour I go to my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blog etc. pages to see their activities, post my comments, answer their questions, or just for the sake of passing my time. I can't help avoiding this when things are already on my hands, when I'm already very much concerned about one's privacy and information shared on public social networking sites.

Let us go 15 years back (in 90s), when we were used to be booking long distance telephone calls with our area telephone department and wait for a call back when the line is connected with other party across borders... also when we send an air mail postage which takes about 10-12 days to reach at addressee and other same number of days to receive the reply. Whatever, but it involved a great excitement in its own phenomena. Sometimes we even kissed the letter envelope before opening it. Isn't? Life was much more smooth than today. When friends were used to be meeting after a while and they has had a lot of things to discuss and that instance of remembering things was a lot more excited than now a days when we share our points in fraction of seconds thru mobile and get others' response within minutes which makes us happy.

Now a days we have lost those values of friends and families, and trying to explore new ways to get entertained, as we don't carry any backlog to discuss with our friends at the next meeting. We are just empty minds, we are getting habitual to forget things more often as we are much more dependent on these gadgets to remind the things on our behalf. We try to do 5 things at a time, address multiple relationships at a time, honor many friends thru a single media without waiting for the right time, thinking about work while driving on the highway, and endless items we do just because now we don't have memories to think about but only stress of work and life.

On lovely occasions like marriage anniversaries or birthdays, we send e-cards to our friends wishing them a good time, sometimes just a micro-message thru SMS, Comment on social sites and thats it. No matter of the recipient of the wish has confirmed reading it same day or not? We are losing time to call them when they are away from us. I can now continue writing this article for another week time regularly or so, as I miss my all those friends I enjoyed my early time with, whom I'm not so regular to be in touch.

I want to leave these smartphones and thinking to get back to my old life again, but I'd be odd man out due to the dependencies we all have brought on us. I'll be neglected person from society by giving title like an outdated person :) but I still say life was much more easier and better without mobile phones.

Thanks everyone!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happy New Year 2011

I'm late to wish you guys for the new year, but better late than never. I'd quickly paste my posted note here as well, that I added in my Facebook on the 31st Dec night.  :)

Wishing 'Happy New Year 2011' to my wife and son, all the friends, families, colleagues, neighbours, milkman, rashanwala, housemaid, gas cylinder wala, son's school van driver and his teacher/staff, my gym-mates, ghar de sahmne verka booth vala, videshan vich baithe/khade mere dost, all those guys I met or even seen in this year and those I couldn't. Nevertheless, people who don't like me... if there is any! ;-)

May God bless all of us with the happiness and good times in coming year.

Message: Dare to say sorry, and be happy friends to your mates. And, add more best friends to your list.

A nice joke on best friends: ;-)
"A good friend stands by you, even if you killed anybody. Best friend will also help you in hiding the body."

I'm sorry if I've ever hurt you in any way in the past. I'll make sure I won't do it in future. Thanks for being part of my life.

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL OF YOU!

  • Sandli Matharoo, Ajit Singh, Harleen Kaur and 2 others like this.

    • Amandeep Singh Thanks
      December 31, 2010 at 10:07am ·

    • Teji Buta Thanks....N same to u and ur family.....God Bless U.....
      22 all nu (milkman, rashanwala, housemaid, gas cylinder wala, son's school van drive) keh ta happy new year...:)
      Njoy every moment of year 2011......Cheers

      December 31, 2010 at 10:15am · 

    • Murali Krishna Kesapragada Well, definitely a "note" worthy wishes...
      Wishing you and your family a year filled with laughter and joy!!!

      December 31, 2010 at 12:01pm · 

    • Ajit Singh Happy New Year to ALL......
      December 31, 2010 at 8:49pm · 

    • Shubham Salwan u 2 !!!
      December 31, 2010 at 9:52pm · 

    • Sandli Matharoo same 2 u............
      Monday at 1:04pm ·