Aarohana – Why I volunteer for this organization

There many problems faced by world and the drive of a few people to make their contribution in solving those is definitely commendable. One of an organization that I know which takes constructive steps to identify problems and solve them is Aarohana EcoSocial Developments. Aarohana is a Non Profit Organization (NPO) based out of Pune, India. The organization is based on the belief that development can only be sustainable if it includes people from the grassroots. Staying true to the belief Aarohana consults corporate organizations in developing projects as part of their corporate social responsibility.

www.aarohana.org

It starts with identifying problem areas that can be addressed in the area of interest for the organization, For ex: Environment conservation, heritage conservation or livelihood generation for families from rural areas. It does so with the help of its’ team of dedicated consultants and volunteers. I am fascinated by their process because it not only creates a plan for to solve an issue but has an active involvement in solving the problem by overseeing the project from start to finish. In 2013 devastating floods had hit the Jharkhand region in India where entire villages had been swept off by the force of nature. Thousands of families were robbed of their homes and it was difficult for them to fulfill basic necessities such as food, shelter and clothing. Aarohana identified the problem and worked with corporates to help these families in distress. They started with going to the flood stricken area and living with the affected families. In the initial days they helped them with whatever resources they had and they were also identifying the problems that they could solve with the help from donations received from multinational companies. As a result, Aarohana collaborated with these companies to help hundreds of families to build toilets with minimum costs and also provided them with materials to build them. They oversaw the project from start to finish and were successful in providing these families with something we take for granted, toilets.

This is a great example of Aarohana’s effective work process in solving problems at a time. I admire their work is because of their emphasis on making sure that the project reaches its’ desired end. The organization was started by 2 people who had the belief that the problems facing the society could be solved best by involving the corporates and local communities. The world needs more of such driven individuals and moreover needs support from more of ordinary people like me to really facilitate change and address the problems. I understand this and am involved in their cause as best as I can by offering my time as well as professional skills. And because I know the people working for Aarohana, I can attest to the fact that all the efforts are directly benefitting those in need and also because I believe in their mission of bringing change by involving the people from grassroots. I keep volunteering my professional skills to spread the cause of the organization to as many people as possible and the satisfaction is immense. If more people contribute to organizations like Aarohana even a little as a result the world will be a lot better place!

Spring Break in Silicon Valley 2015

Last Spring Break, I was on the immersion-course trip, Spring Break in Silicon Valley (or SBinSV), a once-in-a-lifetime experience specially designed for Syracuse University students. It was an experience of the lifetime. We visited companies like LinkedIn, Twitter, Dropbox, Box, AirBnB, Elevate Labs, Aruba Networks, Mattermark and 26 more companies and interacted with people who make these companies. Visit the link below to learn more about my learnings in the trip.

Source: Have You Applied to Attend ‘Spring Break in Silicon Valley’ Yet?

An Interview with Dan Hurd – Design Lead ‘Lucky’s Tale’ | Virtual Reality Storytelling

I interviewed Dan Hurd (@thekrakenisme) from Playful Corp over phone(Thanks Dan!). Dan is the Design Lead on the VR game ‘Lucky’s Tale’ made especially for the Oculus Rift and will be released with the consumer version of Oculus Rift. It was an excellent food for thought conversation and I emerged a lot wiser about the platform from the conversation. Please check the link below to know about my learnings.

Source: An Interview with Dan Hurd – Design Lead ‘Lucky’s Tale’ | Virtual Reality StorytellingVirtual Reality Storytelling

Data Is The New Bacon

 

I am studying Advanced Information Analytics this summer. Mainly working with the statistical language of R, Tableau and analyzing huge sets of data to obtain insights from it. And I am loving it!

By now everyone has accepted the difference that right data analytics could bring about in their organization. Data is the new beacon. It shows a business where to venture and which steps to take to be more profitable. We also see many data analytics companies that have sprung up due to this and as well as tools to analyze the data. But it is not enough to create fancy visualizations though the data and be happy at that. Anyone can create fancy visualizations. But the point is to gain insights from the data analytics. Actionable insights! Unfortunately, many people miss this point and are content at creating fancy visualizations. On the contrary, many people understand that gaining insight from the data is the key, and they succeed. Customer feedback coupled with insights gathered from data can do miracles for any business.

Today there is data about who is visiting your website, there is data about who is clicking on what on your website. It is definitely helpful for an entrepreneur to have the basics of data analytics, so that he/she can make informed choices. And it is of utmost importance for product managers to know what they can do with it.

Now, after being more data aware and using the tools mentioned to gather insights I can see interesting patterns on Google Analytics for Aarohana.org. I am able to act soon on the insights and if needed do some more analytics to know where can it be improved. I think that is very helpful for me, and intact to everyone!

Moral of the story: If you haven’t already, learn how to gain insights from data. Spend a weekend on it., it’ll be worth it.

One of a business in India based on web analytics

My quit smoking tips

 

This blog was written in March 2016. Following Image is my progress as of July 15, 2017

cigarettes not smoked: 3414 – 10 (1 day relapse in Miami) = 3404

money saved: $1,877

 

 

I had been smoking for about four years now. I used to do about 8 to 10 cigarettes a day. 2 years ago I started feeling I should quit smoking for good. Mainly because I felt it was affecting my productivity. After many unsuccessful attempts I have been able to be smoke free for about two months now. But now I am fairly confident of being smoke free for a longer period of time.

I would like to share my experiences of the journey so far in hope that it will help someone trying to quit smoking too.

Why did I quit?

  1. The main driver for me to quit smoking was the realization, that if I smoke cigarettes I will keep craving them for all my life. But if I quit smoking cigarettes I will still crave them but I will not smoke and harm my health. I guess, its better to crave something and not spoil your health then to crave something + spoil your health. And moreover if I stay smoke free for a longer period of time then slowly I will stop craving cigarettes altogether.
  2. Being a smoker reduces my productivity by hampering my health, endurance and concentration. I always try to improve myself professionally as well as personally,  and be more productive, being a smoker did not allow me to be the best version of myself. Now I can stay focused on a task for a longer period of time without loosing focus
  3. I used to panic if I went out of cigarettes. What started as just a new experience became a need. I realized that I went out of my way to get cigarettes when I was running low on them. I guess this realization was really the spark which fueled the desire to quit smoking.

Knowing why you are trying to quit and agreeing with the reasons that you came up for quitting smoking brings you on a quit smoking path even if you relapse. I completely agree with the reasons I mentioned above which was really helpful in my efforts to quit smoking.

I tried a lot of techniques to help me quit smoking and read followed recommendations of many authors. Following are some of the tricks I found helpful Tricks to help you stay on track of quitting smoking.

When you get a craving, use following techniques:

  • Hold your breath for as long as you can
  • Do quick 20 push ups(or any quick physical activity)
  • Keep eating, EAT A LOT
  • Drink 2 espresso shots
  • Take deep and long breaths and enjoy your smoke free lungs

With addition to the above going through the following content will further strengthen your resolve to quit. Well I know that you would feel what is the need to go through such a length? Trust me, the first step to quitting is accepting that you are addicted. And going through all of these excellent resources introduced me to different perspectives on the journey of quitting smoking and I could create my own strategy to quit.

Benefits of quitting,I noticed so far

  1. Improved energy
  2. Improved appetite
  3. Improved taste buds
  4. Meeting and conversing with people at parties without being out of the location for a smoke
  5. Lot of money saved

 

These are all my personal experiences and quit smoking tips which I wanted to share with you. I had my reasons to quit and I am sure you do too. Hope this helps. I look forward to hearing your experiences too.

#iSchoolGlass – Developing apps for glass

I love learning about new technologies and working on them. I work with some passionate group of students every Friday to develop apps for Google Glass also called as ‘glassware’.

google glass ischool syracuse university ischool syracuse university 2

Me and Aravind are part of a student led group at iSchool called NEXIS. We work on new technologies and create cool stuff. They provided me with The Google Glass to work on.

Currently we are working on 2 apps:

Glassboard: This glassware is to be used by people in education. For teaching teachers how to teach. This provides instant feedback mechanism for teachers and students. Students can see the feedback from their teachers instantly on the glass while they are doing their thing. You can check the prototype here – Send Messages: http://aravindgee.com/glassboard/

View Messages (On Glass): http://aravindgee.com/glassboard/glass.html

Quiz App: This app is to be used by for learning purposes. Especially for children with disabilities. The prototype is ready and we are making good progress on it.

 

I will keep you updated with all the developments!