Kanpur - A city of many resources but politically neglected

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Home Automation using Raspberrypi - One of the most interesting application of IOT.

Home Automation using IOT 

Hello friends. Starting a new technical blog series on home automation using IOT (Internet of Things). And this time not something like which i had done a long time back i.e. control a AC appliance(refrigerator) using a SIM900 GPRS module, Arduino UNO and text SMS and later tested the same with HC-05 bluetooth module and an android application. This story started a long time back (almost 3.5 years back), when i started working with Rajeev on a remote basis and we were developing "some" home automation device - something like Wemo Switch from Belkin.  And no wonder, we were able to control the device. I lost the video though or other wise i would have uploaded it here. 

Wemo switch from Belkin
Side View of proposed device

front view of proposed device
How it look in actual
At that point of time, building such thing was more of your passion rather than building a startup out of it. You do a lot of research for sales, hardware and even take stupid decisions (like buy a electric imp device and then loose it somewhere, Rajeev was so angry!!!!). 

But now when you had some hold-on on the hardware, you understand things a bit more, you understand what a product which can be used by general public and users is, you can clearly differentiate the DIY and a "product". So what i am trying to write about here is a DIY project which probably only i will use but yes, i can feel that this will be useful for me. Now question is why am writing a blog on home-automation and why even i am doing this when a lot of people have done this earlier and my answer is "out of curiosity and to apply IOT in day-to-day life and make things easy " I am designing it for myself as i am planning to do some Agriculture / Hydroponics related stuff at my home and in that, i would require some thing like continuous monitoring and remote control and secondly sometime i become too much lazy that after reading a book, i don't want to get-up from the bed and turn the light "OFF".

Company where i presently work do continuous monitoring but that is what i call as "Product" because 100's of people use it on a daily basis and what i am trying to create here is more of my personal usage i.e. it will not be required to handle "x" amount of traffic, i will not write workers queues to manage different jobs, i will not optimise my Mysql performance, i will not use a time series DB, i will not use any kind of load balancing stuff here and not even two layer authentication for API's (yes when you work in a startup with guys like Rajeev - you know some stuff about web-designing also). 

So this time, i would create a small home automation using a combination of 
  1. RPI
  2. WiFi / Ethernet 
  3. Bluetooth
  4. A 5V 230 V relay, some other hardware 
  5. And an simple web / android application
I will try to go as much as detail in possible (there are many existing home automation projects in net and here is one of the link) and will push code to a  git repository . I will start first with controlling a AC appliance with RPI GPIO and later on i will try to make RPI as a hub and communicate to the other switched via Bluetooth or other communication options. I will try to do this systematically and will keep on adding the information here also.  In-fact i already started coding a bit for web-application and made a small web-page using MDL (Material Design Lite). Although the UI don't seems to be good, but i am working on it and will try to make it more aesthetically pleasing. 

A sample UI for the home automation project using MDL

I will divide this blog into some parts

1. Web-application
2. Hardware
3. Android Application - Will take help of my brother Ravi who is a Android Developer 
4. Complete set-up
5. Introducing bluetooth in the scene for making RPI as hub. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Pathankot attacks - Technology would have helped.

Adapting new technology can be of help

First of all, my deepest condolences to the families of all martyrs who died fighting for the country during pathankot attacks and i just want to clarify that i am from a defence family and i always appreciate what soldiers do for their nation being on the front line while we live a peaceful life in our homes.
Recently i was talking to one of my friend during this new year and when this Pathankot attack happen and it was really devastating when you hear about the people who die during these attacks. First of all, i would not like to make it a political topic, so no point discussing that why these kind of incidents always happen after someone from India visit Pakistan, you take example of Kargil war or pathankot attacks. Many newspaper talked about the security lapses after this attack.  Well, as per me, the major concern which everyone should have, that if the most important military bases which are on the front line like Pathankot  are not secure then what about the other military installations

Myself being from technical background always think about how technology can help in these kind of situations if our armed forces are properly trained to use them. 
(1) During the kargil attacks, i was so affected to hear about the Indian army casualties, that i thought that why cannot a drone or UAV  cannot be used during these kind of fights. 
(2) When Mumbai attacks happen, i saw some of the videos, that a army personnel is using a long stick to see inside the window where terrorist have taken place, the also i though, why cannot advance robotics can come into action. 

I know, situations in war jones or during these kind of attacks are not like what we think of. There is a tense and environment of urgency during those kind of situations. Army personals or defense personal have to take quick actions and some time have to put up there life on the line. But my point is aren't they trained for these kind of situations. Or cannot be put some more effort in training our commandos and army personal to use technology while tackling these kind of situations. There is a huge possibility that Indian defense might be using these kind of technologies. 

In my thoughts if latest technology would have been used, Pathankot attacks would have been succeeded and all those who died in these attacks wouldn't have died, very specifically Col. Niranjan. 

How technology can be useful. 
  • Use of Defense Database and Image processing system - On a approx basis, i think, no of higher ranking officials in India would not be more then 5 lakh to 6 lakh. Why can't indian government can make a huge database. In that case, terrorist who entered Pathankot defense land using Police SP car would have entered. How? Face scanning using DIP would have come into action here. I know it can be a tricky application. Putting together all the officials name in a DB and sharing it with some organization is just like putting too much at risk, but then technology have played role. 

  • Use of Robotics in bomb diffusing -  Long time back, i had seen a movie Transporter movie. In that movie they had used a robot to open the door of a minivan. Why cannot we use robots in diffusing or scanning bombs. Means here is my main questions which i want to ask and in any case i am not doubting the patriotism and heroism of  Indian soldiers. Why don't indian army use robots in defusing bomb and why Col. Niranjan have to take action in defusing the booby trap. He was a big asset of Indian Army and NSG who was specialist in defusing bombs. He was also in action during Mumbai attacks. As per me, he wouldn't have died but again in war zone or during these kind of attacks, anything can happen. Now how robotics can be of use? Simply search for Hand gesture based robot control and you will get lot of results.
  1. Gesture based robot control with video 
  2. Bomb defusing robot - how it work
  3. Two robot based bomb defusing
  4. UK army bomb defusing robot
  5. Bomb defusing - evolution 
  6. Bomb Defusing robot from Johns hopkins researchers
  7. And the best thing is i find a DRDO (Defense research development organization) based robot for bomb defusing called as Daksh ROV.  Really this is amazing, when it was handed over to Indian Army, why it is still not in use???Question remain the same? Why technology is not used effectively in these kind of situations? And here is the video of DAKSH in action 

  • Use of UAV's in area scanning - With companies like IdeaForge in existence, why don't we use their quadcopters/UAV's in scanning the area and then taking some action? Here is a video which demonstrate how Quadcopters can be useful in these operations. 

And there are lot of others idea people and GOI can come with, in order to make Indian Army and NSG commandos more effective during these kind of operation. These kind of operations effect everyone in the nation. When some soldier die, people feel the pain of family who lost their son and there is nation wide mourning. I can only hope, that technology will be used in a better and enhanced manner in up-coming operations.

Jain Hind, Jai Bharat. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Indoor Irrigation Project - Technical Blog

Indoor Irrigation Project - Use case of IOT(Internet of Things)

What when you are out of home on a long holiday or if you forgot to plant you trees from a long time and you love doing indoor and outdoor gardening but don’t have time to water  your plants due to busy schedule.At present IOT (Internet of things ) is one of the most interesting topics.Many companies are working on IOT to provide smart gardening solutions and  i can name some of them here. 
  1. Greenopia - They are developing smart pots for planting your trees as well as they provide online advice  for planting different trees. Based out of Bangalore, they raised money via crowd-funding and people all across country supported them. 
  2. Clickandgrow - Another smart gardening kit like greenopia. 
  3. Edyn - Earlier know as SoilIq, i saw their website almost 2.5 years back when their founders were explaining there product in some event and from then they had grown a lot. They provide solar powered solution for smart gardening coupled with their app.  
  4. Daisy  - A project hosted on Indiegogo for smart watering of plants. 
  5. Plantlink - A wireless soil moisture sensor coupled with a central coordinator for smart watering of plants. 
  6. Biptonics -   provide their smart router and cloud to which you can plug you own sensor or provide your own readings and manage your garden from a web-browser. 
  7. Botanicals - Smart gardening kit by sparkfun - https://www.sparkfun.com/products/10334
  8. Koubachi - A wifi based plant sensor which measure T, RH and Lux , determine the need of the plant and send notification based on them. 
  9. Cooking hacks open garden project - They had provided a excellent document on how to use their hardware along with software to make a smart indoor garden using Arduino. 
  10. Instructables for Indoor Gardening - A open source platform where people share their ideas and work . This section is devoted to Indoor gardening. 
  11. Click and Grow - A project based on Spark wifi module for smart gardening inside your house in a mobile garden. Interesting project. 
  12. Groove Ecosystem - A complete grow bed which provide you a indoor garden coupled with LED grow lights and a aquarium, connected via Wifi to a cloud server which provide you, your garden data in real time on a app. App has many features like you can get to know the health of your plants by taking a pic. 
  13. Niwaone - A similar kind of project like Groove.
What i am sharing here is a project which i did almost 2 years back on Indoor Gardening based on IOT - Internet of things. Internet of things let you access real time data from anywhere using internet. Data from the environment is sensed by the sensor , provided to the controller. Controller then transfer the same data to the cloud using any communication option like GPRS, Wifi, Bluetooth etc to the cloud server. From cloud server the same data can be published using Android application. 

I did this project  using bluetooth communication. I used open source hardware Arduino,  HC-05 bluetooth module, relay , soil moisture sensor, 16x2 LCD and a dc water pump to water the plant. Below are some of the components which i used. 

And below is the whole set-up which i did.

You can clearly see the LCD displaying the values of moisture of the soil. The readings of the Soil moisture sensor are send to the android application using bluetooth and depending on user , a DC motor can be turned ON or OFF. But this lead to a limitation of user interaction and that is why 2 modes were provided, fully autonomous mode, in which you can set up range, so that is moisture goes below the  range, DC pump will be turned ON automatically. 

Generally when dealing with the smart gardening or IOT based indoor gardening, there are basically 3 parameters which need to be monitored and measured. 
  1. Soil Moisture - This need to be calibrated by planting the sensor in dry soil and then measuring the sensor readings and then planting the sensor in wet-soil  .Depending on the readings we can provide water to the plant using a small water pump controlled by the Arduino via relay. 
         Soil moisture sensor à Arduino à Relay à Water Pump.
  1. Surrounding Temperature and Humidity - Surrounding T and RH play a major role. These parameters also need to be maintained. For  a DIY purpose DHT22 or DHT11 will work perfectly fine.   
  2. Lux  or light intensity  - This can be measure using ISL29023 sensor.
          ISL29023 flux sensor à Arduino à Relay à Florescent lamp.

 Here is a screenshot of the app which was developed by Ravi Kumar who is a friend of mine and a professional Android app developer. I am sharing git repo link for the code used in this project . 

 Below are 2 videos which demonstrate the working IIP project. 


Monday, September 28, 2015

Initial Marketing and Sales Strategy for start-ups

Start-up Gyan - Some Initial Sales and Marketing strategies for startups. 

Being one of fan of Steve Jobs, i will start with a quote(Source), quoted by him for people who simply love what they do in their job either you work in a start-up or a corporate world. Well being working in a start-up where you don't have a defined responsibilities unlike that in a corporate. And of those, if you are working in a hardware startup,  your responsibilities increase. Starting from finding a nail in busy SP road or a fabricator in Peenya or finding a PCB manufacturing guy in Vijaynagar or finding a corporate customer across nation(Sales) or marketing your firm across facebook or twitter or linkedin or instagram, you have to participate in everything. Well of all, Marketing and Sales are one of the key areas where more focus is required. Being in a start-up, i find it worthwhile to share  some of my experiences which might be useful for my fellow mates in the same field, although thoughts put here are quite common. 

Any start-up in its early stage of bootstrapping have a limited budget of marketing as most of it is consumed in product development that include salaries, office space and other related stuff. So i will focus my blog mainly on the bootstrapping stage where marketing is not given much of the budget unlike in corporates where modes like PPC work a lot.  Generally at  this point of time, digital marketing and some PR do the work. When we talk about digital marketing we talk about posting on various social media platforms like facebook, Google+, twitter, instagram, quora i.e. where we are socially active. So as per me, these social media platform would be the first goal for starting digital marketing. 

(1) Facebook - Post regarding your start-up and product you are making in the related pages, communities and groups. Ask you friend to promote your page. Use all your connection. "Yes" be blunt, you might be making your personal life to commit suicide but all is fare in start-up(On a funny note, generally people keep their private life separate from professional). Always  post relevant article and always don't market yourself or otherwise you will be banned from the group. Don't spam. Also always tag important parameters inside your post, it help you getting shown in result when someone search for it. 

(2) Google +  - With Google putting effort on Google+, its quote interesting platform. #Tagging is must here and believe me, it help a lot in google SEO. I am speaking this with my personal experience. Become part of the communities in the google+ is a good start.  

(3) LinkedIn -  For getting in touch with people who are more interested in technology, LinkedIn is a good platform. A good amount of technology oriented people and people who are specialized in their spectrum generally hangout here, so there is a good probability of your start-up getting viewed by corporate bosses. 

(4) Twitter - Twitter is just like making your native followers who are really interested in your work. Now Twitter has also started its marketing and some people some how provide followers and ask for money, but believe me, twitter is a place where you like to have your own followers. #Tagging work here too. 

(5) Quora -  Quora is a also a place where many people hang around but it is considered not a very productive place. Having your team blog here and sharing your experiences work. I hadn't done any marketing 

(6) Youtube -  Uploading some of the videos related to your product help a lot in attracting your customer towards you. You can explain a idea or product in a better way using a video as compared to a article. Platforms like Powtoon help you create free videos upto some limits. 

(7) Slideshare -  Slideshare, a sister platform of LinkedIn. It is also a major platform which indirectly help you do your start-up SEO in the same platform using #tags. More clicks and more audience and people who hangout on slideshare are not like the audience on FB, they are equivalent to those of LinkedIn. 

So this is about some of social media platform where i had some experience. There are  more platform which  are quote famous but i don't have any relevant experience of the same like PINTEREST and INSTAGRAM

Some other way's of doing free digital marketing 
(A) Forums related to your start-up and explaining about your product
(B) SPAMMING (oops, i hadn't done this , but if you have a mailing list of your prospective audience, you can try that). MailChimp help you do so easily. It help you create beautiful templates either by using their UI or if you talented enough  then uploading your own HTML. 
(C) Blogging -  Writing blog about your start-up and sharing them on the Social Media platform is a also a good way to do digital marketing. If some one from your team know SEO, Blogger can itself can provide you a good reach. Here is the blogger help on the same and one more blog to do SEO in your blog.   
(D) PR - Getting published in some of the start-up related sites like YourStory and others give your start-up lot of traction in the eyes of people working in startup eco-system and VC's and believe me, mouth-to-mouth marketing is the most effective marketing. Get in touch with bloggers who write about start-up domain and domain in which you are working and tell them your story. Every reporter want a story to write, if your startup seems interesting to them, they will write about you. 
(E) Participate in Hackathons and Related Events -  when you talk about your start-up in these events and hackathons, it leaves a long lasting impression. So take part in as many as possible events and talk about yourself. Do chest beating about your product and be confidence (For your reference over-confidence and confidence are two different things ). 

Well at last, it all marketing depend on what kind of product you are developing and how effective it is. Is is really changing life of some people around you and making it simple. More impressive your product is, more effective will be the marketing as it is all about your start-up. 

So this all about Marketing. I didn't discussed about sales, as it is really a complex thing. I would only like to say few words about sales at start-up stage where you are the one who is making the engine from scratch "talk to more and more people and that is the best thing you  can do". Marketing lead sales take some time to play it roles but don't wait for that, wiite more and more mails and talk to more and more peoples. 

I might have missed many points, but this is all i have to share at present. Have a good day. Happy start-uping .........

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Ninja technique for concentration - Some Gyan

                          Self trained imaginary ninja warrior technique for your self concentration 

Just some more gyan session, although i am not a philosopher and neither i want to be nor i am a psychologist treating any of the patients, but i think this technique of mine can be useful for many of the people like me who always lack concentration.   

Just some time back i was talking to one of my friend who is passing through a bad phase of breakup and really when someone is really into a relationship, it effect him/her, what ever other say. No one can feel the same what that guy feel and you bloody can't do apart from doing the same gyan session on how things work in this world, keep on moving, things will work out blah..blah..blah and you know that the other guy don't give a shit about what you are saying because deep down he/she is in ocean of grief.

Suddenly a point came to my mind. I generally use this to just cut off some unexpected or unwelcomed thoughts who always find a way to my mind whereever i am  and i  cannot do anything but i want them to stop. So here is what i did to make them stop running my concentration.  

I build up two imaginary friend of mine in my mind. 2 trained "Ninja's"(for me cartoon character will work, i don't want the real one....). Movies which i had seen, they are the best fighters and they have best concentration powers. So i trained them and when ever i feel that some unwanted thought is coming to my mind and i am unable to control it and seek help, i ask for help and the very next second they are there with their swords, cutting the thought into pieces and flushing it out of my mind and i really find it useful and effective.

And i told the same concept to my friend and i hope that i would help my friend alos and then i thought of putting this up in my blog. Idea worth sharing....

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Following up Sales lead - "Man" a word which screwed up my whole conversation with a end costumer.

Following up sales lead and not ending up screwing it.

So this is a personal experience of mine which I would like to share with all my fellow mates who are working in start-ups who are taking care of sales part in-spite of being from technology background. Reason behind that is simple, being in a start-up domain you need to change your roles and responsibilities as per situation. You can't be a pure technical guy being in a start-up(this is what I feel).

So as everyone say, that Costumer is "God" and that is very true for everyone, you say about big corporate or start-up or any one. Things are a bit different with respect to the big corporate houses, but when we talk about start-ups, costumers are the one who make a start-up turn to corporate house and to do so, you need to have a high level costumer satisfaction. This post can even be a self confession for me. 

This is what happened

I was in process of generating some sales leads - both inbound calls through some of the B2B websites promotion and outbound calls. Along with that had to take care of certain other important things. I was out on field and was engaged in some other work and suddenly a thing strike in my mind. "how to become more productive" and at the same time god might have though "i will teach you a lesson today". 

I put out my phone while the my colleague was getting taking care of work. I checked my mail and listed whom to call and called some one who had send some query to us. The other guy picked up phone and i said

Me : "Hello Sir, this is shailendra from X, i got a query from your side. Can you please let me know your specs."
Costumer : "I  am looking for blah - blah - blah" 
and he told me every specs on phone. When he was just going down through the specs, i think he was outside and in a hurry. I didn't get full specs and thus i said

Me : "sir, i will drop you a mail with respect to our products and in the same mail will drop some questions just for clarification" 
Costumer : "No no, i am telling you specs, listen here"
Me : "ok sir" 
and then he asked me question which i think no one will try to reply back on phone 
Costumer : "what is the approx cost ?"
Me :  "Sir, let me discuss with my senior over your requirement and then i will reply back" 
Costumer : "No no tell me now"
Me : "Sir what budget you are looking at" (probably i asked wrong question, but this is what i learned after talking to many of my target costumers)
Costumer : "No no, you cannot ask such question to me" 
Me : "Sir approx cost is between Rs A to Rs B"
Costumer : "then no need to send quotation, you will waste your time and my time" 
and then he started arguing on the same. And then blunder happen which must not had happened and i must not be writing this confession cum post. As we all talk among us in office , we use work dude, man and i know when you are taking part in business related activity, you had to come out of your tech role. I said "Listen 'man' " instead of "Listen 'Sir'" and very soon i realize that i had done the blunder which i hadn't done till now in my past. I know very well that what costumer mean and how should i talk to one, but i really don't know how that happen. And then the other guy started 
Costumer : "How can you use that word ,i am not your friend and you don't know to who the hell you are talking". 
I was aware that i had done a mistake and i listened and then disconnect the phone. Actually i was about to say, "Listen sir, cost depend upon MOQ and we can always talk on that", instead i used work "man". Inspite of being a man who know and duel y follow the fact of "costumer = god", used nonsense word and language. And people like us, who always have some ego, don't apologies easily but then i thought that no, you had used wrong word and you must apologies to him. I called him again and said 
Me : "Sir , i am extremely sorry, i was not supposed to use that word, but unknowingly i used that word, i am really sorry and i apologies for that".  
Costumer : "No, no you send the quote, i will think". 

And from that time, inspite of saying sorry, i am feeling too much guilt, that how the hell i can do this kind of mistake. I am kind of guy who always respect others and want to maintain a level of costumer relation and satisfaction.  But then i analyze my routine from the morning and came to some conclusion which lead to this kind of mistake 
(1) Don't try to be over-productive, some time trying to being over-productive leads to conditions like these. 
(2) Never call a sales lead while you are in field. 
(3) Try to manage your activities in a day depending upon priorities. 
(4) Never call a sales lead with out proper planning just for sake of engaging with him. 
(5) Try to figure out the priorities and work accordingly. When doing some work, don't think about other tasks.

So people said right, first think, analyze , plan and then execute and i think i missed everything. So lesson from the above incident - "Don't follow your sales lead while without preparation and while being on field" and that is the best thing out there in start-up domain, you do mistakes and learn from them rather then some one telling you how to do things, you learn things to do by your own. 

Below are some of the articles which i read after above incident, so as not to repeat such kind of mistake in future and specially for guys like me who are not actually sales guys but trying to put their part being in a start-up. 

I hope that my above post might help some of the guys are in same domain and in some point of time will do this part of sales also. 

Happy working..........

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Life of a Entrepreneur -- It happen daily.

Life of a Entrepreneur from his eyes and from world eyes.

From what world see:
"Oh my god, he is a owner of a company, f****ng awesome, he must be so rich". These are the lines which some time even i say and most of the people say. "He must be having a good life", "what he do, just sign some documents, make some plans, order some execution and he is making millions". This is what people think who don't have any idea of life of a businessman or entrepreneur.  

From What Employees think:
This is what some of the employees think who joined company after 2-3 years when it was founded - "bullshit, we keep on doing all work and he keep on making money, why should i work of my a**, i will work for 8 hours only(well this doesn't happen always)". 

This is what happen in reality:
Ok, Sales planning for North done, need to assign some more elaborated task to Mr.X, Oh, have to call Mr.Y tomorrow and talk to him regarding our sales agenda over there. Need to complete that code review(this is what happen with tech based start-up even though they had raised seed rounds), Oh have a meeting with marketing manager too. Need to finalize agenda for our next marketing campaign on facebook and linkedin. "phone rings and sound come from other side - when are you coming(Family call- wife on high tone), on my way- he says". And then one more things strikes in mind, have to talk  to CA too, need to clear some taxes. And then leaves for home.

In home after dinner
Wife say "i need to go to my home tomorrow for a function, you need to come with me" and you cannot say anything. Open laptop and start replying to mail's in your inbox and its not 4-5 mails, its like 20-30 mails and you cannot neglect(you already refined). And then come the code review and as all software engineers, it takes a hell lot of patience. And then when your code review is done, you need to do your part on technology side. And when this is done, you start lining up tasks for the next day and what is the time now - 4 a.m in the morning.

Next morning 
You wake up and the first thing you do is check your mail box on phone. Its already late and you start leaving for office and here come the PM of home, "what are you leaving for office, what about function" and you cannot say anything apart from "sorry" and some time it work and some time it not(although this is not always true, you partner need to understand you and when she does, you life become a bit more simpler). You reach office and here they are, ready for another meeting, every one, your sales manager, your marketing manager and in between you HR might also tell you that you have to take final round of interview. What?

You need to look around the finance figures(cash flow i think is one of the important aspects from which no founder/co-founder can run away) and find out did we still have runway for 6-7 month. In the mean time, some thing strikes in your mind that you have to plan to meet a VC for next round of funding. 

And in the evening, you start working on your stuff that you love to do apart from many other things that you are required to do and again the same routine start, making strategy for the next day, building plans to increase the sales and cash flow in the company , looking after a dream to make your start-up successful and their to-do list never end.

Reality is for a entrepreneur, weekends, holidays means nothing, what means for him is his/her start-up growth. Absolutely, if he/she succeed, he/she get reward in terms of appreciation from every one in the industry, money in terms of salary and equity in the company and a personal satisfaction that he is able to build something from scrap but at the same time, if his/her start-up don't succeed, he/she is the one who has to suffer a great loss, but again, being a entrepreneur they learn a lesson from their failure and again start from the very beginning.

In total, everyday, every hour of entrepreneur is full of struggle , challenges, victories and failures and that is what make them worthy of getting the greatest price of success and learning(failure means learning for them).