All posts by Chinmoy Panda

About Chinmoy Panda

Founder and CEO of Mindfire Solutions. Interested in all things tech. Building the greatest team of developers in India. A-players only. Author - Chinmoy Panda

Mindfire Thailand Trip 2016

The Little and The Large

The world is headed towards the unknown. What a great time for vacation! And while we’re at it, why not make it large – an international vacation!

So here we are at the end of 2016 – on the back of a trumping victory, a demonetisation, and random other unexpected events including a noble Dylan. Many of these events are expected to make life tough for IT companies in India. And then there are mega-trends of automation, centralization and simplification impacting work and technology companies. The largest companies have sent out signals of revenue, on-site and hiring slowdown possibility.

Amidst all this, people at Mindfire start out today in staggered batches for a vacation to Thailand – Bangkok and Pattaya! All people, all expenses paid. You heard that right – all people, all expenses paid 🙂

Why and How

Someone asked why. Motivation? Relaxation? Recognition?

The reason is actually boringly un-corporate and un-tion: it’s a fun thing to do!

Another question is how this is possible. Mindfire is a little organization. Compared to behemoths with hundreds of thousands of people, half a thousand work with us. How is this possible.

People work together to create an organization they can be proud of, and the collective effort comes back when possible. While income and profit may be the goal of business, we can intermittently indulge in the pursuit of happiness 😉

A little company can, after all, have a large heart.

Are You Becoming What You Do Not Admire?

 

I was reflecting today on the movie “3 Idiots”, arguably the greatest movie hit in India (the Idiots are called so because they do not fit convention, not because they are dull or lazy).

We see one Idiot who grows up over the course of the movie to develop a spine, to get courage and confidence to do the right thing, to be honest and truthful no matter what the stakes. Continue reading Are You Becoming What You Do Not Admire?

Smart Work vs Hard Work – A New Perspective?

 

Smart Work vs Hard Work. Which is better, which should be valued?

This question haunts every workplace, and successfully confuses everyone. There are camps and devotees of either side, and convenient converts depending on situation!

It is actually quite simple, if we see some facets clearly. Continue reading Smart Work vs Hard Work – A New Perspective?

3 Trends in Software Developer Roles – And One to Avoid!

 

Three roles have been evolving in software development over past few years.

1. Devigner
The devigner is a person who packs a pretty punch. She is a graphic designer, UI designer, UX developer, server developer and database developer all rolled into one. Continue reading 3 Trends in Software Developer Roles – And One to Avoid!

Why Are We Called “Mindfire”?

 

People have often wondered why we are named “Mindfire”. It is not a word, although it is clearly a composite – but why exactly “Mindfire”?

For most human endeavor, almost anything worth doing, at least two things are necessary: intellect and energy. Boxing seems like a physical/energy sport, but the best boxers use their heads more than their hands. Research looks like mental/intellectual effort, but the best scientists are tireless in their pursuit. Continue reading Why Are We Called “Mindfire”?

Introduction to Xamarin and ASP.NET vNext in Nepal

 

Two Mindfireans – Nirmal and Tadit – will be traveling to Kathmandu shortly, to speak at the DevTechDays event organized by Microsoft Innovation Center, Nepal on September 20 2014.

http://www.devtechday.com/
http://www.devtechday.com/Speakers.aspx

Nirmal will speak on “Jumpstart for Xamarin Forms”. Xamarin is an interesting way to write code in C# and have it run on iOS, Android, Mac and Windows. http://www.xamarin.com

Tadit will speak on “Introduction to ASP.NET vNext”. ASP.NET vNext is the next generation of ASP.NET, in preview with some interesting stuff. http://www.asp.net/vnext

It is interesting how unexpected things come up, and that Mindfire is contributing in its own way to Nepal’s technology community and knowledge ramp-up. To celebrate their new opportunity and our new moment of pride, Nirmal and Tadit receive a Special Award of Rs 20,000 each!

 

Nirmal and Tadit: congratulations, best wishes and bon voyage!

 

 

Can Weekends Begin on Fridays?

 

Weekends start on Saturdays. What if they could start on Fridays? What?!? Are you out of your mind?

Hmm.

Carlos Slim set the dialog rolling for fewer workdays recently. He advocated 3 11-hour workdays a week. Larry Page has referred to a 4-day week. Debate has continued, with views ranging from impracticality to glee. The more I think about it, the more I believe it is worth trying.

What if we actually do it while the world debates about it?

Allow me to share some thoughts – benefits, problems, constraints, and possibility.

Benefits
Contiguous time off from work helps our minds to relax, and our fires to recharge. It means time for hobbies and interests. Learning for techaholics. Research for thinkers. Tinkering for doers. Open-source contribution or personal projects for workaholics. Ideas for would-be entrepreneurs. Community and social work for do-gooders. Parties for party animals! Travel for travel-lovers. Family and kids time. Romance for couples. Sports for sport lovers. Home travel for those from other cities. A mix of all of the above for most of us!

Better life. Broader outlook. Broader minds. Better work.

Problems

On days you work, your work of 11-12 hours blocks out the rest of life. Those days can be more tiring. Work can suffer. An organization with longer weekends may be mistaken to be lazy, under-ambitious, and neglectful of work.

Constraints

With many benefits, fewer work days seem attractive. But there are constraints we have to consider.

Commitment
Every organization commits something to its customers/clients. At Mindfire, we commit 160 hours of work a month, 40 hours a week. Anything less and we have to suffer – when the organization earns less, everyone earns less. Work is the economic activity which generates wealth for all. Income is carved from eternity with our time. When income suffers, everyone suffers. That cannot be allowed to happen.

Non-work activities at work
In flexible workplaces, most of us have some non-work activities at work, perhaps about 10% of the time. In other words, 40 hours of work need about 44 hours at work.

Possibilities!

Now let us consider the possibilities.

3 x 11
3 days of 11 hours each is 33 hours a week, so that is infeasible.

4 x 11
4 days of 11 hours each can mean 40 work hours, which is feasible. However, getting clients to agree to one day off every week, even when other days are used to make up – is tough. Anything which harms work, will harm those who work.

4 x 10 + 4
Practically doable, similar benefits: 4 10-hour days followed by 4 hours on Friday!

This would mean 9am-7pm or 11am-9pm or whatever, Monday through Thursday, and 9am-1pm or 11am-3pm or whatever on Friday. Work ends and the weekend begins with lunch on Friday! Yay!

Interesting? Interested?

This could be a giant step for work, a small leap towards Work 2.0.

What do you think?

 

A Short History of Desktop Operating Systems

 

At the beginning of this millennium, the PC/OS wars had practically ended. You used Windows everywhere. Only some companies like Mindfire, which worked on Apple Mac development, had any use for platform diversity. Everybody bought Wintel – because you had to. Software was made for Windows only in most cases, so being on anything else meant being unable to run most things you needed.

Then, several unexpected things happened.

First, Operating Systems. The OS landscape changed. Apple made a spectacular comeback, and working on a Macbook was cool again. Mac OS X flew high. And Ubuntu rose from the ashes of Unix and Linux fragmentation, unifying them and making a friendly Linux.

Second, the Internet. The web became dominant platform for app delivery. Functional software that looked grey and dull, was suddenly all over the colorful web. Chrome and Javascript/AJAX hastened user experience on browsers that rivaled native desktop software.

Third, Design. Or, the ascent of design. Apple led the charge, and the world of tech grew to appreciate design for what it was – the yin for its yang. And those dull grey apps died a quiet death.

Fourth, Consumers. Technology exploded from enterprise/business to the consumer setting. Revenue started skewing towards consumers – although that died an early death due to our next point.

Finally, Devices. In came the world of smartphones and tablets, which changed the meaning of computers. And led to the creation of cloud. And desktop platforms became just one out of many access points for the cloud. Which leads to the Internet of Things. Coming next.

 

All the above made desktop platforms a choice, since the world of computing was no longer restricted to the PC and OS you used. Today, consumers buy Mac systems and techies buy Ubuntu systems, without needing to think what they will not be able to do. Because they can do everything.

At Mindfire, we celebrate this victory of choice with a commitment to platform diversity. Mindfire is investing in Ubuntu and Macbook laptops, aiming to have at least 15% of our people on Macbooks, and 15% on Ubuntu.

Why is diversity important?

A rainbow is interesting only because it has all those colors.

 

What Have These Two People Done?!

 

Two Mindfireans recently achieved commendable personal milestones, and it inspires everyone around.

Saurabh Agarwal
Saurabh will be attending Mobile App Europe from September 29 to October 1, at Berlin, Germany. He will be presenting  on October 1 on “Tackling Fragmentation in the Mobile App World“.

Saurabh found out about the conference, discussed topics and prepared material. Saurabh’s interest, initiative and thought process, are admirable.

In recognition of his ability to think beyond the horizon, Mindfire is proud to announce a Special Award of Rs 50,000 for Saurabh. Congratulations and bon voyage, Saurabh!

Tadit Dash
Tadit will be attending Microsoft MVP Global Summit from November 3-6, at Bellevue and Redmond, Washington, USA.

We had earlier learnt about Tadit’s inspiring journey. As a Microsoft MVP, Tadit was invited for the annual MVP summit, a meeting place for MVPs from around the world.

In recognition of his exemplary contribution to knowledge, Mindfire is proud to announce Travel Sponsorship for Tadit to attend the summit. Congratulations and bon voyage, Tadit!

 

Saurabh and Tadit have that special interest, a passion for tech, a desire to excel, a desire to be recognized at the global level. At Mindfire, you would notice this quest for knowledge beyond business. Business creates limits, knowledge sets free.

 

Please join us in congratulating Saurabh and Tadit, and do join the journey of knowledge!

We make our own paths, even while we travel together.

 

Thoughtful Programming Can Save Days. But Do You Have Time For It?

 

Today I will share an experience in the effects of inflexible software, actually caused by hard work!

We use a SaaS service for our payroll process. Last month, we needed to add a salary component for selected people. We decided that instead of adding it as the pre-defined “Bonus” component, we would name it “KMBonus”.

All good till now. The payroll system allows addition of custom components. Then you download a blank Excel file and upload it back after inserting figures.

We downloaded the template which had a column for KMBonus, along with columns for every other component. This sheet was filled for KMBonus and uploaded back. It failed. No error message, nothing – the page just refreshed silently.

What was wrong? Was it a problem with file format? File size? Number formats? Did columns or sheets or anything get rearranged by mistake? This took a couple hours. When nothing worked, a support issue was filed. It was a weekend.

On Monday, support tried to understand what was wrong. After few hours, and with the file being analyzed, support figured out what was wrong – the uploaded file couldn’t have empty cells/columns while being uploaded back! So, although you wanted to update only KMBonus column, you had to either insert zero into every other cell everywhere, or delete all other columns.

First I was upset – that a simple error message, or documentation on expected file format, would have helped avoid this. Then I realized something else.

Entire payroll for hundreds of people got stuck for a couple days, because the programmer had worked hard – but harder than necessary.

Think about code structure. It would have taken more work, more effort, to put in all this validation – “Check all cells have numbers, ensure none are blank!” Sure, requirements may not have covered this case, so as a programmer I am free to do anything. But if I am free, do I do things after thinking about it – being thoughtful about work? Do I do things for the user – being thoughtful about users? Or do I do things that are just technically correct? Instead of tightening by validation, a simple conceptual foundation would have reduced the programmers’ work and rendered flexibility to user!

Imagine if the conceptual foundation had been: any blank cell means nothing is to be done. If something has a number, update component to that number. Simple.

So when you get a sheet with many cells blank, entire columns blank, ignore the blank ones. And process only the ones with numbers. Did I say simple?

Think of code. This is actually less work, is conceptually clear, and means much more to user! Smart work versus hard work. Saves days of effort for the programmer. And, in our example, a difference of days in payroll processing!

Thoughtful programming is based on common sense. Thoughtful programming reduces work. Thoughtful programming can save the day. Days.