« Archives in December, 2011

Looking from the top of Sentinel Dome!

Sentinel Dome, Yosemite, CABeautiful panoramic view from the top of Sentinel Dome. It’s a very short hike from Glacier Point, but very rewarding. You can see El Capitan in the west to Half Dome on the right! Although there was almost no snow, the beautiful winter sun made up for it.

Yosemite is always too much of a hassle to visit during the summers. It offers some of the most rewarding views, but at the same time it is too crowded to feel at one with the nature. This trip kind of offered a great balance, since the place was empty, but at the same time you could hike around easily due to the lack of snow. However that did mean that we did not get to snowboard. Lets wait for the winter season to kick in!

Road Tripper!

image?

Finally came today! Time for some planning. This time I wanna do the trip on a motorcycle instead!

Around the city in Bernal Heights

One of my favorite parks. Very beautiful views, and nice walk. So many unpaved trails add to the fun. Or you can sit and watch the dogs play!

Panorama of San Francisco shot at Bernal Heights Park

Panorama of San Francisco shot at Bernal Heights Park

Here’s a decal for that!

The new Decal is here! Some more love for my Macbook Air!

Pacman Decal for my MBA

Portal to the Portal Trail

I was doing some Scheming today, which got me thinking. Schemer is not the prettiest website, but I really like how you can do activities or create schemes to get things done. A lot of times in our lives we forgot to look back and think about what drives us. Ever since I got into Mountain Biking, I have always wanted to do the portal trail. It is actually my inspiration to try and get better at mountain biking, to become fitter for the intense ride, to overcome my fear of heights to be able to bike with the sheer drop next to me.

If you havent see the portail trail, here it is:

I am sure you can find better videos of the trail but its hard to pass on this one, thanks to Pixies playing in the background. Portal trail is a super exposed trail in Utah. This website has an amazing description of the entire trail:

I’m going to pause from the story of the day to warn you about the Portal trail. It will reset your scales for exposure on a trail. It is off the charts extreme. Nobody falls off the Portal trail and lives to talk about it. The exposed sections have majestically beautiful views to a certain and quick death. Lee Bridgers in his Mountain Biking Moab book dedicates a couple of pages to bringing home life and the Portal trail. This is just a tiny excerpt of a larger fascinating story on how he relates the life of one of his friends to the Portal trail.

“Rusty was eighty-three when he shuffled off. He was a real piece of work, under construction for over eighty years. He had lots of kids. His kids are having kids. People were, and still are, affected by Rusty’s spirit. When he died his family and colleagues celebrated his long life with funny stories and tears of gratitude for having Rusty as a friend for so long. How old are you? How long will you live? Ever consider that your life is invaluable to your family and friends? Ever heard of the expression “Don’t break your mother’s heart?” Ever heard of natural selection? This is the connection. You may not be a Rusty Musselman, but with age, you may become just as interesting, just as much of a character. In Moab we call it “Rugged Individualism.” Fall off the Portal Trail and you will never know the rewards of being an “elder,” of being a rock for your family. You will become some nameless someone who fell off the damn Portal Trail onto the rocks below.”

I’m not trying to scare you, the Portal trail should do that on its own. The exposed sections are not too technical, a solid upper-intermediate rider could pull off those moves 5 times out of 6. However, that 6th time is DEATH! The risk is simply not worth the reward here. Riding these sections is Russian Roulette on a mountain bike and three people have died so far here. I love myself and my family too much to risk becoming the fourth by trying to ride those exposed sections. If you don’t feel the same way then this may not be the trail for you.

However the reason I want to do the trail is not because I want to defy death or get killed. But its one of those things that kinda define your passion. This single video for me captures a lot of the love I have for mountain biking. It is almost an elusive goal that I have to work towards. This goal prepares me for many other big and small things that come my way. It makes those challenges look trivial, because I am striving for something much bigger.

As a kid I dreamt about writing software that will change the world. As a kid I wanted to write a new Operating System. Now I want to write a piece of software that will reach lives of millions of people, and in its own special way make their lives better for them. But you dont start with that. You always have that goal in your mind. I had those big dreams when I wrote my first “Hello, World.”. I had those dreams when I was graduating from college, doing my startup, doing research. Those were the reasons that drove me to improve myself. They make us go that extra mile and bring us one step closer to who we really are. But its not just the skills that count. A lot of the conviction comes from the heart. You can have all the technical skills to do Portal, but your heart and mind also have to agree to it. Similarly you may have all the technical skills, but you need that conviction to take the plunge and do something unique.

Life is about the journey, right? So let your dreams define your journey. However challenging it might be, it will be fun. It will be you.

John Gruber’s take on the Galaxy Nexus

You either see it or you don’t. If you don’t, that’s cool, enjoy your Nexus. But I think the reason Apple Stores are so crowded, and getting so big, is that there are an awful lot of people who do see it.

Here is the link to the Original Source, a blog post by John Gruber.

I wonder when will people realize the reason I use Android is not because its more shiny or polished (or because I can not tell between a half/full baked product). I am more than tired of people thinking they are all high and mighty because they use Apple products (and seriously no disrespect to John, because he is genuinely a very smart guy). Just because you use an iPhone doesn’t mean that you have a better aesthetic tastes, than a guy who doesn’t. There are more things in life than just phones. My beliefs define me more, than just a pretty UI (and I am not even saying that finish is not important, more on that later). I used Linux a decade or so back (sorry, I aint old enough to have been coding when Unix/Linux come into existence) not because it had a better UI or it worked seamlessly with every thing. However, I could still tell which platform had a better UI, and still I chose to program in Linux. However cheesy it may sound, but the Samsung Advertisement:

where the guy says: “I can never get a samsung, I am creative.” hits the nail on the head. More people think they are cooler, creative and thousands times more awesome because they use an Apple product. MG Siegler (once again no disrespect to him) in his original article compares iPhone and Android to a BMW and Honda. He makes this comparison, while he drives a Honda, and uses a BMW (iPhone). I drive a BMW. I have driven a Honda. I can tell the difference (and that is why I drive a BMW). However I prefer a BMW over an Audi because of what the brand, or the idea behind the car means to me. Similarly a Mercedes generally offers much more refined interiors and driving comfort. Would I give up my BMW for it? No way. Same way my choice in Android and iPhone is not because I can not tell between a good and a bad design, or because I am not cool enough to have an iPhone in my pocket. It’s an earnest decision. A lot of early adopters choose a platform because they believe in it, not because they dont understand usability or design.

I have supported Android even in its early stages, when they were actually like Honda and BMW. Its because I believed in a product. A lot of technologies I love, have developed simply because of belief and community support, and Android is a shining example of that. I strongly believe that the gap is almost complete and whatever is remaining will be complete soon. In the mean time, please do not think you are superior, more creative, a more distinguished judge of design, or that the other person is stupid, just because you use (or do not use) an Apple product. Please do not stereotype/speculate on the reason I am buying an Android phone, just like I don’t do for you.

Is there a thing called as a Designer Co-founder?

Or do you always hack on your own, until you are ready for getting a paid employee?

These days you cant really have an app, which does not have good design aesthetics. With enough startups relying solely on great interface design and user experience (or more so on them than actual innovation), I just find it surprising that there are so few startups where any of the founders/co-founders are designers. Perhaps I dont know enough of these startups, or maybe most of them are not mainstream, but either ways you dont seem to find enough UI designer as founders.

This comes to me as a surprise because there are enough startups with non technical founders. Wouldn’t having a great designer as a cofounder be more lucrative that a business contact, especially for a user facing startup? I mean unless you are already rich, you probably won’t be able to afford a designer right off the bat. And a great UI can be game changing. Given all the creativity that these designers bring to the table (coupled with flawless execution and integration from engineers), I would believe that more of them would be ready to start something of their own.

Is this because of how engineers and designers look at problems? This might be going down a completely wrong track, but engineers look at problems in a much different fashion than a designer. Perhaps as an engineer you are sitting at this vantage point, where you can see more scope for innovation and change. You are exposed to more problems, and have the skill set to figure out what can/needs to be changed/created. Or is because engineers are used to all the pain that involves getting a company to bootstrap?

Either ways, I strongly think that engineering and design complement each other really well, and put together right from the beginning make a huge difference. I think we really need to stop thinking of design as an after thought. For the same reason, I always wonder if we should even be segregating engineering from engineering with a good design?

In any case as engineers, till the time we can not afford a designer, we will hack together whatever we can.