Schedule

Maker’s schedule v/s Manager’s schedule

At 13 Llama Studio, we are a young and energetic team who works on multiple ideas at the same time. We are makers … people who tinker with code, libraries and see if we can put all of them together and create a beautiful kaleidoscope of an experience for our audience.

The Maker’s schedule

Designing, Development and any activity which involves creation for that matter is a thoroughly rewarding experience. However, it also puts you in a state of trance … a trance wherein you do not want to be disturbed. Not because you want to be rude and unresponsive, but because when you are in that state, you literally are building a castle in the sky.

This castle can quickly come tumbling down like a pack of cards if you were to be disturbed. This scene from the movie Social Network sums up how I feel when I get disturbed when I am wired in.

The maker’s schedule is not full of deadlines, it’s full of possibilities and experiments. The maker is someone who explores multiple options, plays with different things and creates something truly remarkable.

We do encourage makers, however, as a services firm, we do have deadlines. Which is why some of us have to shift modes from Makers to Managers.

The Manager’s schedule

In a year’s time we take on 20 or more challenging projects and deliver them (mostly on time and under budget :)). This requires constant updates with the business team, setting up meetings and achieving deadlines. This is where makers need to become managers and start actively managing the creation process.

At times it becomes really difficult to make this shift. A manager lives by the hour and generally has multiple tasks setup in a day. If an hour gets wasted, the other hours in the day can make up for that wastage. A maker on the other hand has few tasks in a day, but needs longer chunks in the day without being disturbed.

The shift

A lot of the work that we do is done in the wee hours of the night. This is not because we are suffering from insomnia or we love burning the midnight oil. This is because it is during these hours when we are not disturbed. It’s these hours (and the early mornings) that I try and schedule my most difficult tasks.

People who have worked in start-ups would agree with me when I say that most of the day is usually spent in discussing with the rest of the team as to what they have to do. This is the shift. The manager works during the day, the maker works during the night. It does wreck havoc with personal life, which is why most makers end up hiring managers as they grow.

The purpose of setting 13 Llama Studio was to have a team of makers ship awesome products. As an organization which is slightly older than a year, we are becoming more discerning with the people we want to work with (both employees and customers). However as we grow and scale up, we are going to require full time makers and full time managers.

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transcendence

Transcendence

I am a geek. In that aspect I share Sheldon’s quest for learning when the technological Singularity is going to be achieved. If I have lost you, then perhaps you need to watch this clip from The Big Bang Theory (Season 4)

Technological Singularity

My family was appalled when I shared this with them.

Why would you want to go away from the physical world?

Followed by,

What about relationships?

Let’s think things through. A technological singularity happens when a human conscience is transferred into a machine or a robot. What that means is that the human body is no longer the limiting factor of life, and the conscience can continue to live even after the body has died.

In effect the conscience has transcended the body or the physical realm. This is what the movie Transcendence is about.

The Plot

Dr. Will Caster (played by Johnny Depp) is a brilliant researcher in the field of Artificial Intelligence, and is working on a government project to build a sentient machine. However, he is targeted by a anti-technology extremist group (most likely scared because of movies such as this one and The Terminator), and they try to kill him. Their attempt succeeds as Dr. Will Caster is poisoned and has only a few weeks to live.

Seeing him slowly loosing his life, his wife (Rebecca Hall) and his friend (Paul Bettany) help him transfer his conscience into one of his neural network prototypes. What happens next is a good movie that you have to watch.

I do not want to share the spoilers, however if you do want to read ahead, go to IMDB.

The Aftermath

Watching the movie which vibed so much with my thoughts, made me think afterwards.

What is the essence of life? Is it a soul, or is it being aware of being alive? The minute you abstract the physical self, you can also replace the physical self. So what is being?

The minute this technology is available, everybody would be forced to migrate to this system … even if they dont want to!! Since being human is based on being equal, and this technology gives an unfair advantage to anyone who adopts it, any rational person would want to adopt it. Just like any other technology, without regulation and finer understanding, it is rift with dangers and potential disasters. This also means that the time it would take for a technology such as this to hit mainstream would be far more than anticipated … Sheldon (and I) would have to wait another lifetime to get to this Singularity.

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FoodForThought

Food for Thought: Part Four

It’s been a tumultuous month at 13 Llama Studio. We recently shifted to a new office and are currently handling multiple projects … projects where someone has to bleed to take it to its logical conclusion. I do not mind the bleeding, as long as I manage to do a job well done in my mind (more on this later, this requires a heartfelt post). Here’s what I have been reading and bookmarking in the past few days months.

The Decline and Fall of The Great Gate

A great metaphor on how the publishing industry is changing. The folks at CopyBlogger are always a constant source of inspiration and ideas for budding bloggers. However, this story also talks about how the publishing industry is slowly changing. The Great Gate used to be publishing houses and authors used to clamor to get their books published.

With internet and blogging, all of this has changed, and now power is back to we, the people!

The Evolution of the Developer

The story of how the developer has become so central in the new paradigm of a tech enabled organization is strongly aligned to how I have seen my own career progression. It’s a great piece on how Cloud technologies are giving better results than Enterprise Software (which is often considered slow and bloated).

The enterprise IT infrastructure agenda for 2014

Here is an article from the other side, the Enterprise. Link this article with the one I just shared above and you will see the fear of Enterprise Architects and software providers who supply to Enterprises. So what is the Enterprise’s answer to Cloud computing … a private cloud of course!!

Does that help cut costs, well if you work at it, you might get operational efficiency, however the Total Cost of Ownership is always high. The way things have been running are changing, and agencies which rely on businesses have to follow suit.

Personas: The Art and Science of Understanding the Person Behind the Visit

Moz has not only become the go to community for Search Engine Optimizers, but also for all things related to increasing traffic via organic methods (read not PPC).

The article shares how to go about understanding the people who visit your site. It’s fairly indepth and requires for you to study it .. yes not read, but study! I’d suggest 1 skim while at work, and then a slow line by line comprehension when alone and free from interruptions.

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FoodForThought

Food for Thought: Series II

I had shared some noteworthy articles last month and decided that it’s a good habit to keep up.

Search: Not Provided: What Remains, Keyword Data Options, the Future

What happens to SEO efforts and Digital marketing when one of your major chunks (organic keyword level data) is not available. Avinash Kaushik gives advice on how to go about working with keyword data and why Google started encrypting organic traffic.

This is a far better approach than simply bitching about Google and hatching conspiracy theories of Adwords trying to maximize their revenues!!

Google+ Guide for Small Businesses

A detailed and step by step guide for Small Businesses to develop their presence on G+. Not only is it very thoughtful, but also it provides links and answers to all the quetsions that you might get stuck. And an awesome UI to boot as well!!

Disillusioned with Facebook? Here’s a way forward

It’s easy to dismiss Facebook as a time sink and a negative ROI generator. I did that. However as time went by, I realized that maintaining a presence on social networks is almost a health factor these days. Darren Rowse of ProBlogger walks us through some of the more important things to keep in mind as you go about trying to rustle up a community on Facebook. All the Social Media Managers out there, you HAVE TO read this.

How to track online RoI of offline marketing

This post is quite close to my heart. It is about measuring the Return on Investment (RoI) of Offline advertising. Traditionally to calculate the RoI, brands would use agencies which specialized in marketing surveys. However, with the boom of Indian e-commerce and the influx of venture capital, most of the online mediums have started offline advertising as well. How does the digital marketing manager of such a firm tackle the RoI calculation? Here is a basic explaination of how you go about Trackign RoI of Offline advertising.

What is Life?

What is Life? is based on a series of lectures delivered at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies by Erwin Schrodinger. This was first published more than 50 years back, and it has found its way in the blue nothing. The PDF file is a lengthy dialogue which meanders through the physical composition of a cell to the destruction of the identity of life using means such as hypnosis. I have to warn you that if you do not take lightly to abstract concepts and discussing them for the sake of discussion itself, then do not read this document. Having said that, this is Food for thought after all!

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India’s first passenger train journey

On 16th April 1853, India’s first passenger train journey began. It started from Bori Bunder in Mumbai, all the way up to Thane. This was a distance of 32 km, wherein 3 coaches were hauled by the engine. Thus started rail transport in India.

India's first passenger train journey

This piece of history came to my notice not because of the local channels, but due to it being covered prominently by international websites such as Google (see their Doodle above) and the detailed article on Wikipedia.

What started off as India’s first passenger train journey, is now a multi-crore business and one of the few profitable industries run by the Government of India. Some of this credit needs to be given to Laloo of course, however what works for the railways is the availability of transport, the cost and it’s efficiency.

I recently traveled from Mumbai to Baroda in the Rajdhani express, and although the quality of food being served has declined over the past decade, the service and efficiency of things have gone up. The entire journey is orchestrated with your travel and you can even predict which course will be served to you with the station that is approaching. So all in all, I would say we have gone quite far since India’s first passenger train journey.

Kudos to the Indian Railways!

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Indian politics: A conundrum of choice

This can also be titled, why I do not bother to vote any more. But lets keep that aside for the moment.

Here’s the thing, there are basically only two major national parties (yes there are others who claim to be national parties, but who are we kidding). The Congress and the NDA. There are other small time players which keep on switching sides as they see fit.

Over the past 15 years of my conscious life, I have seen the rules of both the parties (sadly more of Congress and less of NDA … but that really does not matter).

Both the parties have proved that they are corrupt and have some really royal scams to their names when they were in power. Both the parties have similar agenda. Both the parties hardly live upto expectations (however there are some exceptions to these, but they will never make it to the top of the pyramid).

Another facet in this conundrum is the fact that the Constitution of India mandates that all political parties declare themselves as upholding the socialist values of the country (at least on paper that is!). I don’t know how Mamtadi has a communist party which is against the constitution, but when have politicians really adhered to rules? So lets not bark up this wrong tree.

The point here is that the constitution more or less forces all parties to uphold the same ideological values (if any!!). Add to it that many MLAs switch sides to get something more for themselves from these two parties.

So at the end of the day, instead of debating on ideological differences, we end up seeing a simple mud-slinging campaigns between the two parties. Look they swindled x thousand crores and look how corrupt they are. At the end of the day the party going to rule is going to swindle. And that’s the sad moot point.

To the common man, it really does not make any difference whether Congress or NDA are the ruling party. All initiatives taken are so miniscule in nature that they end up being money making schemes for the ruling party (and in some cases for the opposing party as well).

So I hope the conundrum is pretty clear here … which party to vote for? The end result is the same. Choice is just an illusion.

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Car Customization

In India, the moment you say the words car customization, the name Deepak Chhabria automatically crops up. DC used to be the pioneer of car tuning and modding in India. Back then, changing the looks of your car was not considered as the “in thing”, and people almost always made do with the factory settings.

With the successful launch of the Need for Speed series, the Indian market has slowly warmed to the idea that even cars can be customized and do not have to be kept in their pristine form in which they had been shipped from the factory.

Yes, we have finally started tearing away that smelly plastic from the upholstery and consider sticking on cute little dog stickers on our bumpers as well!!

The really elite ones do the smart thing and get a better looking car from abroad, and then go ahead and get customizations which are worth that car! In the digital era, almost everything that you purchase has a little CPU of it’s own … yes, even the fridge knows when to milk goes bad! Then it comes hardly a surprise that most cars are also smart cars. And smart cars require smarter customizations and mods.

This is where brabus comes into picture. Brabus is a German company which absolutely rocks the customization scene. Especially if you own a Mercedes. In fact, in the past the BBC has covered the brabus in their automobile show, Top Gear. An excerpt from one of their episodes,

It’s unlikely, but should you find the standard Mercedes SL600 wanting in the power department, mentalist German tuning firm Brabus may have the answer. By throwing away most of the standard Merc’s motor, adding new turbochargers and fiddling with the many onboard computers, it’s created the most powerful convertible car ever.

Now, why would I recommend that you definitely get this for your Mercedes? Well, if you can afford to get a custom made car through customs, then it has to be either a Mercedes, a Ferrari or better yet, a Maybach. Interestingly enough, Brabus do tuning for all these brands. So the next time you are thinking of car tuning, don’t say DC … say Brabus :)

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