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Blogging again …

I think I am finally in that place, where I can start blogging again …

The past couple of months have been pretty hectic – and everytime I thought I’d start writing, I would realise I had something better to do …

As you can expect, some important stuff happened since the last time I wrote …
A small recap is the order of the day I guess …

I will dedicate a blog each to all of these things …

  1. I have switched to wordpress. It was waiting to happen. Blogger has been extremely awesome – and I will miss a lot of things there, but it was time that I took up the hosting of my blog on my own server.
    (As of writing, this blog is actually on wordpress.com – but I will be moving it soon to another personal server)
    Wordpress has tonnes of more features too which I just loooove … so the move was just waiting to happen…
    More about this in another post …
  2. We finally registered our own company – ThinkingSpace Technologies.
    Technically, we’re 4 months old already – but the registration happened of late – and I am still basking in that sense of achievement.
    We’re just three classmates from college, don’t have posh offices (yet) but are poised to get there extremely soon!
    Watch this space for more …
    And yes, we also do useful things (see next point)
    http://www.thinkingspace.in
  3. We took ActiveCiti to Public Beta.
    ActiveCiti – our first product, entered into its public beta phase (after a month of being in stealth private beta) and the response has been good so far.
    If you don’t know what it is — ActiveCiti is this extremely cool event management application — with which you can create, plan and organise your events very, very easily.
    From inviting friends, adding other organisers, polling people to what they’d prefer, sending automatic emails about changes to the original plan — ActiveCiti does it all.
    You can check it out at: http://www.activeciti.comIf you are wondering, this is not quite the same application we did for our final year project a year ago.
    It has been completely written from scratch – and does tonnes of things the previous version did not …
    Please do check it out and we’d love to hear your comments and feedback on this.

Hmm …
So, these are the things that have happened to me so far – and which have consumed the bulk of my time.
Will update this list if I think of anything else …

And please do update your bookmarks / blogroll to: http://blog.saurabhj.com for my blog.
Even if the base platform changes, my blog will always be accessible from this URL.
(Now why didn’t I think of this before !!!)

Anyways, feels really good to be back.
Thank you for being so patient and coming back and reading what I write.

[ Min number of posts to go till Mar 17, 2008 : 82.]

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CampusCombine …

http://www.campuscombine.com

Hey!We (The ActiveCiti Team) just wanted to inform you about the new initiative we just started – CampusCombine.

How many times have you felt the need to know what was going on in other colleges – from which questions were asked by the external examiner during the viva to which companies are coming for campus placements to when that inter collegiate event is going to take place. How do you know if the college/stream you are entering is the right one for you?

How many times have you felt frustrated while completing an assignment which even the staff members had no idea about? Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could ask people from other colleges for help – those who had completed the assignments you wanted…

How many times have you got stuck due to lack of ideas and guidance while working on a project and had no one to take help from or turn to…

Well, trying to provide a solution to all these problems and thousands more – which students face, we give you “CampusCombine”.
CampusCombine aims to bring students, ex-students, companies and interested mentors – all together on a common platform so that they can help each other out.

So, if you are a student and the next time you are wondering how a particular problem can be solved, or what questions were asked by the external examiner in other colleges, all you need to do is log on to CampusCombine for your particular city and get your doubts and queries cleared.

And if you are someone who has gone through the rigors of the Indian education system and wants to lend a helping hand to people still stuck there, you can log on to CampusCombine and help out the students and make their lives a little easier.

So, please head on to http://www.campuscombine.com and be a part of this revolution that we’re trying to start.

Aao banaye education behtar :)

– The ActiveCiti Team

PS: As we are very short on our advertising budget, please could you forward this email to all the people you know who you think could use this service?
Thanks :)

What you just read up there was the pitch to a new site that we started a day before called CampusCombine.
As this is a non profit venture, with no revenues whatsoever and no venture capitalists or angel investors backing us up, it gets kinda difficult to sometimes spread the word.

So we have to resort to emailing friends, asking them to forward the link and hoping that they will do. We had already done this for ActiveCiti – and the initial response was great – but once you run out of people to email, the number of people signing up everyday slowly dwindles down.

The important thing then, becomes to get as many people as you can email to actually join the site and hope that you did a good job with the site – so that people can refer people and so on …

The very difficult and thus quite interesting part of this job becomes to word the email.
You have to keep it somewhat short and get all your ideas in place – worded properly so that your readers can empathize with what you’re doing.

However, this time I think we’re working with a more serious problem than we were with ActiveCiti – coz the response has been fairly decent.
Not to mention these are very early days and the student population of Pune is monstrous.
So only time will tell … :)

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Today probably marked a pretty important day for me – college is finally done and over with !
I know this has been said before, but we had our project demonstration today, and so (considering I clear all my papers), I should not have any official reason for going back to college ever (except for collecting my marksheet)

Anyways, even though all these past four years have had many pleasant memorable experiences, I would be leaving with sort of a bad taste …

The only requirement for our project demonstration that we had off the college was access to a decent internet connection – we were carrying our own notebook (mainly because the college computers would not be able to support our development environment :p)

Anyways, our project guide from college called us personally a day before and informed us that the college was having some trouble with their internet lines and asked us if we could make some arrangements ourselves.
We ended up carrying a CDMA Wireless phone which gives dial-up speeds internet connectivity. It did get our job done, but was painfully slow and frustruating !

Anyways, on reaching college, we realised that the internet connection had been down from a couple of days and no one had many arrangements to fix it – or even call the customer care support for that matter, even though many teams needed an active connection to demonstrate their projects.

Moreover, all the computers were infected with worms and viruses which caused unexpected behaviour on the systems – adding to our misery.

The final ‘real’ downer – was that the examiner who came to check out our project was very, very unqualified to do so …
I’d go as far as to say that he was a complete idiot and had no idea at all about software development.

The college is not to be blamed for it – because the University sends these people – but c’mon, there has to be atleast some level of competence!
The guy who came to us, asked us questions like:
– What are the number of classes have you used in your project?
– How many tables are there in your database?
– How many pages does your site have?

It was very apparent that the guy knew nothing at all within the first five minutes, and to save his blushes, he had to ask us questions – many of which could clearly be termed as ‘stupid beyond belief’.

The demonstration did go past 60 minutes and he kept interupting us with his moronic questions throughout – half of which we had to strain to make sense off in the context of our demonstration!

It actually hurts when people spend months in completing a project – with the time, money and energy spent – and the person who is supposed to assess the project turns out to be a complete moronic idiot and does not even make an effort to understand what you have done.

With everything said and done, my other project partners feel that we did the best we could with this sort of a guy and we should be happy that its gone well.
I guess so … but the Pune University really needs a wake up call !!!

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This post is coming after a fairly long time – and for good reason too…
The last week was pretty hectic – I was very busy studying for my exams and more busy in trying to get our Final Year Engineering Project done and released.

Well, I am happy to inform you that we went live today at 5:30 pm (thats when our faulty registration page got fixed) :p

Presenting … ActiveCiti
(clap clap clap clap … )


Unlike so many other Final Year projects that we had seen – which mostly are very, very niche and no one ever seems to use them, we decided to go and do a complete product from scratch – however insignificant it might be, or no matter how many people use it.
We wanted to go through the entire site of developing a product …
So we wrote our own spec document, did our own database designs, did all our own interface designs, chalked out flow diagrams and made our own mistakes (which are quite a lot actually)

And to tell you frankly – the feeling is brilliantly awesome.
At the other end of the road, seeing the number of registered users increase by the hour is damn awesome :)

As of writing this – 7 hours into launch, we now have 50 registered users.
I know that this will now decline exponentially, but we hope that we make 100 atleast.

Something about the project
The entire project is a web application which makes planning a piece of cake.
It removes all the hassles of calling so many people back and forth while planning anything – a movie, a trip or even just planning to hang out at a local coffee place.

Though the content on the site is Pune Centric – that should not be a drawback and everybody anywhere should be able to use it – as we let users customize and add to the already existing content.

The entire application is done up in ASP.Net 2.0 with SQL Server 2000 as the backend database.
It took us about 4 months to get this done – working part time, managing college and stuff.
But it feels awesome now …

We did have some anxious – adrenalilne pumping moments when 2 hours into the launch (we actually did it at 3 pm) we found out that the register page was not working.
Then later quite a few pages started acting up and were not working as expected … but we managed to fix them and as of now everything seems to be chugging along nicely (touchwood)

We still have some way to go before this is finalised and polished.
Have got tonnes of feedback and our list of todo’s has already gotten filled.

Anyways, please do visit the site and register there.
The address is : http://www.activeciti.com

Any feedback would be deeply appreciated and you can drop it off at : http://www.activeciti.com/contact.aspx

Yay ! ActiveCiti is LIVE :)

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