It’s out. Live. My new website is finally ready for prime time.
A couple of months back, I set out to redefine my online identity. Looking at the websites of some of the coolest developers online, I felt low. Kinda left-out. For a software developer, their website is a key ingredient of their ‘brand.’ My brand was an oldish blog with a home page cluttered with unorganized posts. Don’t get me wrong. I am an organizing freak. My WordPress blog was in pretty good shape before. But it did not represent my brand. It just looked like a random collection of blog posts by a guy who does not care too much about keeping it up-to-date. So, I changed all that.
I am happy that I was finally able to find time in my busy schedule to complete all changes I had planned to make. These were:
A static home page that briefly talks about me, and acts as a doorway to the rest of the website.
Better organized blog posts. I’ve successfully reduced the number of categories to just 8 (from 55!).
An about me page that is the frankest and the most open description of myself.
Dedicated pages for things I am proud of — books I’ve written (I’m an author, yay) and tweets I’ve blabbered.
A new, simple, uncluttered theme.
A focus on what I am and love the most — computers & software.
So far I’ve received rave reviews for my new revamped website. Though I should probably disclose that I had only two reviewers: my sister and my wife.
Back in the days when I had just started blogging, my dream was to learn whatever there is to learn about building websites and one day become a popular person on the internet. It could perhaps be done by disseminating my gained knowledge through hundreds or thousands of blog posts. It was a silly dream, but that was 14 years ago! That was a time when 256 kbps “broadband” was still a luxury in India. I was a teenager and like all other teenagers I wanted to do something “big”.
As I grew up, my access to technology increased, and so did my desire. My dream became my passion. Unlike dozens of peers around me, I was clear about the direction I was heading. I wanted to leave a mark in the world of web development.
When the average Indian was still smitten by Orkut, I was already using Facebook. When my fellow Indians discovered Facebook, I had moved onto Twitter. Life was fun and enjoyable.
But somewhere something changed. The need to build a strong online identity somehow got deprioritized. If I look back at the early days of my career: sure I was usually knee-deep busy with office work and what not (CAT/GMAT prep, Granular, etc.), but could there be better tools than Twitter and Facebook to help leave a mark? After all, Twitter was still new and I was sort of a regular. In retrospect, I should have worked seriously on my online identity then. Sure I tried in chunks””organizing and reorganizing my blog, randomly updating Twitter, etc.””but these were infrequent instances.
When I come across a well-written blog, Twitter post or forum thread””as part of my office work or personal learning””I feel both good and bad. I feel good out of appreciation for the work. I feel bad out of the overwhelmingly stinking thought that I do not have a single such outstanding post to my credit. It literally sucks to be me in those moments.
Anyway, still not everything is lost. I have a long career ahead of me, and with some careful planning now I’m confident that I can make up for what’s lost. In the next few days, I’ll be overhauling this blog quite a bit. I still keep learning lots of new (& cool) stuff. I intend to be more regular with my knowledge sharing here. That’s what I do and love, even if no one ends up reading my stuff ;). Well, sometimes they do but mostly they don’t.
It’s done. They are gone! With a heart heavier than a steamroller, I saw Germany bow out of the world cup yesterday. Didn’t we all see that coming? From the start of the tournament, we could all feel something was amiss in this German attack. It was far-far from its past “blitzkrieg” glory. The way they were casually playing yesterday and their sloppy passing clearly showed a lack of intent to win. It was as if they were out there to ensure a 0-0 draw, for some wierdo of a reason. No matter how bad I felt watching the world cup slip away from Germany, by the end I had made up my mind that they didn’t deserve to win. No, they didn’t.
Interestingly, my Airtel Digital TV monthly balance expired yesterday. As if the universe doesn’t want me to watch the WC any further. :p
I am back from two days of sheer coding, brainstorming, strategizing and bonding. It was one of the most tiring weekends I’ve ever had. I drove more than 100 kilometers going to and fro.
When Shivam told me about the 2018 edition of Hackeam, I was not immediately excited. It was when I heard about its unique methodology that I decided to participate. Like regular hackathons, its main event is about 24 hours of non-stop coding. Unlike regular hackathons, that’s only one aspect of the whole thing. Their motto says it all:
Trek. Report. Hack. Adapt. Achieve.
This year’s theme was using technology to make a significant social change. It was a good theme — a practical one — given that most hackathons focus on bringing out the best programming talent.
Wikipedia defines blind cricket as “a version of the sport of cricket adapted for blind and partially sighted players.” Before yesterday, I didn’t know it existed. Shame on me!
It is not every day that you get a chance to meet players of an international sports team. That happened to me at Disability Matters Asia Conference 2017, yesterday, July 28, where I met players from the Indian Blind Cricket Team. Although the conference was about innovations and best practices in the field of accessibility in software, prominent differently-abled people were invited to share their experiences. Top IT companies were invited to speak on accessibility in software, with Accenture being the lead event sponsor. The event was enlightening in many ways. I have separately written about my conference experiences on LinkedIn.
A blind cricket experience zone had been set up inside the conference hall. This was a pitch-sized area, bound by nets, where one could experience how blind cricket was played. Non-blind people were blindfolded before they were handed the bat. It was not surprising to see those people unable to even make contact with the ball. I did not try my hands at batting but watched intently when others did so.
Blind cricket is played with an auditory ball – a hollow ball filled with stuff that produces a rattling sound when the ball is rolled. The bowler, before throwing the ball, feels the stumps or the crease to make a sense of direction. Using their non-bowling hand as a rudder, they throw the ball with an underarm action. The batsman uses sweep-shot to maximize the chance of hitting the incoming rattling ball.
Each team has four players who are totally blind, categorized under B1, three players, partially blind, categorized under B2, and four players, partially sighted, categorized under B3. It is nothing short of amazing to see how the fielding side strategically uses this combination to cover the entire ground.
Blind Cricket is globally governed by the World Blind Cricket Council (WBCC). It has 10 member countries, including all regular cricket test playing nations such as India, Pakistan, Australia, South Africa, etc. The governing body in India is Cricket Association for the Blind in India (CABI).
The whole experience was enlightening. I think it was a great idea by the organizers to arrange for this experience. As an IT professional, I found it particularly interesting to see in reality how the blind play sports. I was already getting some ideas about certain design elements to use and not use while creating accessible software.
Leading the contingent of players, present at the event, was Shekhar Naik, mentor and former captain of the Indian team. Naik has captained the Indian cricket team to two major victories – the 2012 T20 world cup and the 2014 world cup. He was awarded the Padma Shri earlier this year by the Government of India for this feats. It was an absolute honor to meet the man in person: a humble and down-to-earth guy, always ready to make friends.
Naik is partially blind and plays in the B2 category as wicketkeeper-batsman. He told me the stories of other players that he knew as well as his own. A lot of players in the team are congenitally blind, mostly due to heredity. In Naik’s own family, 15 others have some form of visual impairment.
To sum up, DMAC was one of the best conferences I’ve ever been to. I got a chance to meet some incredible personalities who have achieved phenomenal success despite struggling with even the simplest of things every day of their lives, things that fully abled people take for granted. I am glad that I now know something about how the blind play sports. This has opened up my thought process for designing more accessible software. I close my blog post with this beautiful picture where I am standing along side the Indian cricket team (Naik is wearing an orange cap).