Friday, July 17, 2015

Spring break Part 1 -- Mountain View

Spring break is a vacation time between March and April for a week in many countries around the world - According to Wikipedia. I had never heard nor knew of it until it came upon the event calendar of my college. There was no way I would be spending such a lengthy time in a university town like Commerce. With my brother helping me pay for the trip, I decided to spend the week at my friend's home in Mountain View. The idea was to explore the place as well as to go visit San Fransisco. I decided to stay at Garick's place because they have been hosting travelers at their place through the Couch surfing platform which I think is an act of pure goodwill. I've also known Garick through the Lenovo Insiders group where we both were invited when it was formed in 2010. To reach mountain view, I had to take a plane from Dallas to Oakland in the early morning hour, take the BART train from Oakland to Milbrae via Sanfransisco and then hop on to the Caltrain to reach my destination. If you ever plan to go to mountain view another option would to be fly into San Jose and take the caltrain from there. My travel option cost me approximately 7 hours of additional travel from Oakland.

My first impression of Mountain View? It was dreamland with people going around on Bicycles, lush green trees all around with a bit of Orange tinge here and there , Travelling on the caltrain from milbrae in the midst of the sceanic setting was itself an amazing experience! 

Garick and Stephine took me to have a look of the Google campus immediatly upon arrival. To me it looked like a large playground for adults. They were even breeding honeybees on campus so yes if you ever become a googler, there  are lot of things you can explore while coding away your stuff. The bright coloured google bikes were omnipresent in the town. To me it also looked like there were as many Indians and Chinese in town. Well Well, I was definitely in Silicon  Valley now! 

Who would go to Google and not spare time to see those Android statues on the lawn? I've been using Android since donut was released and this was the best photo-op for me to go spend some time with the 'droids'. During my stay, there were kept insider somewhere from the public view . Luckily Stephenie knew where they would be and voila! I was trying to have a bite into the droid statues as soon as I got there. Rumor has it that they are edible - all of them. It's just a rumor though ;) . Of all the droids, the  kitkat looked edible but well,it was not! 

While at Mountain View, I was also suggested to go visit the computer Science museum. For geeks who would not want to miss a part of history, there is LOT to explore. I am not sure if there is another place which chronicles 2000 years of computing history!. First stop was the IBM section . I've never been an IBM fan nor have known much about it's history myself.So this was an opportunity to explore its history and achievements.  This is definitely a company which was a force to reckon with back then, replacing punch cards with magnetic disks and propelling computing speeds to improve industrial productivity with number crunching power. 

When we started learning about computers, all of us must have heard about Charles Babbage engine. Probably the worlds first computer designed to calculate polynomial  values. It is amazing to see that people were into computing in the early 1800's and the Charles  engine is only proof of that. This is definitely a geeky thing! 

I was never an electronics guy, but it was also interesting to have a look at the evolution of the microprocessor from where it was to where it is now. Big behemoths like Intel have played a major role and still do to bring raw computing power into the hands of the common man and the transition of this invention is more than evident in the processing capacity of a modern day CPU from Intel. There were possibly other players in the game, but since the founding fathers were from silicon valley and they had their vision of CPU processing, it is adept to share a piece of that history on the blog. These are the silicon valley documents - where it all began. 

To warp it up, I went inside a section which wad dedicated to Google. One exhibit of particular interest was the Google self driving car which does not require any driver. The model is a modified Lexus SUV and has been going around the google campus for a while, storing telemetry data on its performance. It still does not have a permit to go out on public roads though. Getting to see all of this stuff, one can only marvel at the extent of how intelligent a human mind can be and has the ability to make anything to a reality with compassion and determination. Without my knowledge I spent close to 7 hours in the place and still had time left to go visit other sections from Microsoft and Apple. All of that in another part.

This amazing and fun filling trip would not have been possible without Garick and Stephanie. So thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for your hospitality and goodwill. One day I wish you will come visit India and I can take you around places myself!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

7 years of Lenovo Community Collaboration - 'DO' happens right here

7 years ago, I was just another ordinary user,  searching the internet to check for a solution of my PC problems. What I found on this very day is something which will cherish for a long time to come, not only because I was able to expand my technical horizons with the broader set of global audience, it also presented with a perfect opportunity to work with a number of customers like me around the world. Some of them who later became "Super users" . People who had a lot of passion, to reach out and help others in need.

This experience also gives you the opportunity to know about new cultures, build relationships with returning customers for help, who in turn are inspired to help others. The flow of knowledge in this way is only possible because, Lenovo has built the community from ground up, envisioned by Mark Hopkins, and with the help of other seasoned super users from various communities.

So what have I observed since the past 7 years?

1) When ever I login here, there is a sense of happening, be it the super users working together to keep spam away, looking out for major technical issues that could impact a broad range of customers or banning socket  puppets.

2) It is a privilege to be a part of this  group, which has industry leading experts on subjects like Security and Malware. I can't imagine if I could have gotten the opportunity to interact and learn from such folks, had I not been here.

3) The community runs 24x7 ,365 days of the year.  The moderator group is so diverse, that I can always find at least some of them online, making sure that things work like a well oiled machine. Folks from US,Australia,Turkey,India,Europe, Russia and other Spanish countries make the core group of superusers.

Newly Launched Russian Community 

4)What started as an English community in 2007 has now being expanded to help customers from non english speaking geographies. This only shows that Lenovo is serious about reaching out to its customers.There is also a sense of commitment from the employees and the super user group - something which inturn keeps me inspired to 'DO'  things.

5) There were only a bunch of Moderators and Gurus when I first joined the forums, what I see now is another super set of users jumping in.Be it Microsoft MVP's, technology partners and others. This indicates that the  folks who started the community are always looking for newer vistas which could benefit the customers in one form or another.

6) I also feel lucky to be a part of various Advocacy groups in Lenovo since 2009 apart from the community, which has helped me to have hand's on experience the latest and the greatest . Run by the marketing,I have been invited to international platforms like the CES in LasVegas and the Mobile World congress in Barcelona. This is also another channel for funneling feedback to the company because you get the opportunity to meet top level executives from the company.

One of Lenovo's advocacy groups circa 2011

It has a been a wild ride so far, and I heartily   thank Mark Hopkins for keeping his faith in me, and mentoring me for all these years along with other amazing people like Jane,Andreas,Erik,Dave,Aryeh, Linda,Andy ,Cleo,Serene and many others. You guys are just amazing and I only hope we 'DO' more good things together in the forthcoming future.