Today was the first breakfast talk for this year’s series in Tamil Nadu branch of The Indo-American Chamber of Commerce. These talks are conducted under the title Meet Success First Hand.
Today’s guest was Mr.Lakshmi Narayanan (Vice Chairman, Cognizant), I have listened to his talks many times in the past, but he never fails to energize and motivate you. His talks are never tiring and always fresh even though he may be saying the (same) Cognizant success story.
Mr.Lakshmi spoke on how Cognizant (CTS) in the initial days (~1997 when they had about 500 people) itself consciously decided to focus on exceptional customer relationship & growth (in that order). He recalled how this focus was arrived after a management advisory firm shared an observation to CTS founders that firms can excel on only one of the three axis – Innovation, Operation Excellence (Low cost) and Customer Relationship.
And how CTS grow consistently every quarter except on two occasions (2001 and 2008), and Growth is pre-planned!. CTS is not the only company that has bet on growth. HDFC founded on the same year as CTS is another firm that has been growing.
In the earlier days of CTS, the motto or rallying cry was Building stronger business (internally it meant stronger CTS and for customer facing roles this meant helping the customer build a stronger business). Recently it evolved into Keep Challenging.
Mr.Lakshmi then touched upon the phenomenal growth that is happening in Healthcare (not only in Obamacare and insurance), how majority of the startups funded by Venture East are in Healthcare domain. About this firm NeuroTrack which can predict Alzheimers disease by showing you a series of images.
At my firm Vishwak Solutions as a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner we were one of the earliest users of Windows Azure & Office365. Initially we used Azure mainly for providing additional scale in production situations. With Windows Azure adding IaaS recently we are nowadays using it more often for Development & Testing scenarios.
For one of our internal data capture applications we were using SQL Azure for standalone Database workload. We created a separate Azure account for this purpose using our corporate email ID (firstname.lastname@example.org) but provisioned as a Microsoft Account (aka Windows Live ID). Incidentally we are using Office 365 (Exchange Online) as our email service for Vishwak.com.
Around end of last month (November ‘13) when we tried to login to Windows Azure Dashboard using this ID (email@example.com) we got the error “We are having trouble logging you into the portal Please contact Customer Service for assistance“.
Contacting Microsoft India support at the given numbers (1 800 11 1100 & others) began a wild goose chase for next 1 week. Our case was shuttled between India support, MSDN support, a non-exist number, Windows Azure subscription support & Microsoft online services support but no one could offer a solution.
Finally, we ourselves found the solution in this Microsoft forum page. The solution (Case 1 as described in the forum page) was to sign out. Then when signing in again, to select Microsoft Account and not Organization account when we are greeted by the disambiguation dialog as below. Even though ours is an organization account (Office 365) since we got provisioned with a Microsoft Account before the October 2013 changes in Azure sign-in.
Doing this, solved our problem. I just wish we found this solution earlier.
Read here on my post on upgrading Surface Pro “1″ to Windows 8.1
In the mail App for last few weeks Hotmail.com mails are not getting downloaded. In Accounts option it says there is a certificate error and I couldn’t find a way to fix it. This Hotmail ID is my primary Microsoft Account used to setup Surface Pro, which means I am allowed to remove it and reconfigure.
Before I tried anything else to fix it, I wanted to make a system image & recovery disc. I couldn’t do a recovery disc. I got an error saying can’t find recovery media. I tried to use Reset PC option, I got the same error. For reasons unknown to me, I have a Recovery Partition of 7GB in my Surface Pro but it doesn’t contain anything. So I was left with the option of creating a new recovery disc using standard Windows 8.1 ISO file. The process to do that (to use ReagentC.Exe and extracting Install.WIM from ISO) is outlined here in detail.
Once I did the above, I reinstalled Windows 8.1 using the standard ISO file by mounting it and running setup. This meant all the Surface Pro specific drivers/firmware didn’t make it in the fresh installation. I needed to go to Microsoft and download Surface Pro Driver Pack and install individual drivers that were broken.
Now I have everything working fine in my Surface Pro.
Watched this comedy movie “வணக்கம் சென்னை” today. The movie directed by first time director Kiruthiga Udhayanidhi, starring RJ Shiva and Priya Anand was expected to be a comedy around Chennai. The actual movie turned out to be pretty run of the mill variety. Story goes along in a single speed, it was not a drag but not entertaining as well. Director seems to have lost her way near the climax on how to end it, so the climax arrives through verbal statement of the 3rd person in the love triangle.
Shiva does his character in his usual style, which has become stale of late. Priya Anand does her assigned role without showing any emotion or variation between scenes. Tamil Nadu Government (being the owner of TASMAC, the sole Alcohol distributor in the state) owes a big award to Santhanam for his promotion of Alcohol and bars in this movie too. Santhanam, you can now stop having drunken bar scenes – you have already done a thorough job of educating “Tamil” youth that solution to all problems in life are available in TASMAC.
Read here on my (positive) experience of using of Exchange Online (Office 365) for over a year now.
In the current configuration we were using, for each user the password for their emails (Office365) was different from their office network (local Active Directory). Even then there was a way to pass through single sign-on, which meant any user signing in to Office365 the authentication will be done over the internet (secure connection) to our local AD (Active Director) Domain Controller (DC). We didn’t go with this option then, as this would have required us to have our DC servers available all the time, which was not possible in our case. Due to frequent power cuts in Chennai (India) then and temporary Diesel shortage (to run our automatic diesel power generator) we were practicing night time and weekend shutdown of servers in our local development centre. There was no way for Office365 to cache our AD or have a backup AD then.
Recently Microsoft two options to solve this situation and still provide single sign-on. One was to go with Windows Azure Active Directory and sync it with our on-premise AD, then have Azure AD authentic Office 365 users. Second was to use the newly announced Office 365 Password Sync tool (How to implement Password Sync). We decided to go with the second option as it was the easiest, cheaper of the two and fitted our availability requirements. This option allows password of users to be synched
(both ways) between our on-premise Active Directory and Office 365, and it doesn’t require our On-Prem servers to be available all the time.
Once we decided implementing it was easy, took our Windows System Engineer just few hours to understand the whole implementation, test it and go live. Our users are loving it, including myself!
Update (29/Nov/2013): After I posted this, our System Engineer Rajesh K, pointed to me a correction. Once you implement Password Sync, Office 365 doesn’t allow users to change their password, they need to change it in their Active Directory (through Windows client or other options). On exception to this, organization’s Office 365 Administrators can reset a user’s password which will get synced back to Active Directory.
- Office 365 Password Sync *Part of Directory Sync*
- How to troubleshoot password synchronization
- Plan for managing Office 365 accounts using Windows Azure AD
- Adding Sign-on to your web application using Windows Azure
As long time readers of this blog know I love books and what can be better for me than a visit to one of the largest libraries in the world. Over the last 16 years though I have travelled for business to Seattle countless times, unfortunately I never got around to visit their famous Central Library. Today after my business meetings were done in downtown Seattle, I went to Seattle Public Library (Wiki).
We used Nokia Here Maps to drive down there from our meeting location, which worked pretty well for me throughout this trip across Los Angeles and King County (WA). When I searched for Seattle Public Library, I should have selected the correct one in a long list of libraries listed. Instead I clicked on the first one and it guided to a branch library in a Court building at 8th Ave instead of the central library. Having wasted $3 for a parking slot near 8th Ave, we then drove to the correct one at 4th Avenue, luckily we got parking right in front of the library entrance (another $3 of course).
The first thing that strikes you as you approach the library is its massive glass structure. Then as you enter the library in Level 1 you will find scripts from World Languages appear right in front of you. I am not saying figuratively as you will notice in the picture below.
Seattle Public library is a massive building, spread across ten levels, housing over 1 Million books and constructed at a cost of $290 Million approved by a vote. Once you are inside the library you will not want to come out, but unhappily I had only few hours with me on this day.
What impressed me was the historic collections of science magazines in Level 7. I could find journals that were 150 years old in enviable condition, I doubt whether we could buy a more fresh looking magazine from a bookstore in the present. In the picture below look at the superb illustrations done in 1914, remember all these were done without digital technology or retouching.
Looking at these journals make you wonder how fascinating the late 19th and early 20th century should have been as scientific discoveries were pouring from all sides.
The libraries overall facilities were impressive too, look at the picture below of a writers’ room in the library.
While in this trip to USA I brought this book with me, “Hold my Hand” a romantic fiction by a young Indian author Durjoy Datta. This may be the last of the physical book I carry with me in long trips, as I purchased the new Kindle Paperwhite 3G touch.
The book’s story was of a young man exploring the smell and sounds of Hong Kong along with a blind girl who he falls in love with. The book was concise (less than 200 pages), easy to read and the characters were well build out. The first half of the book was told in the voice of “Deep”, a nerd obsessed with libraries and computers. The author switches the voice of the story telling to that of the blind girl “Ahana” in the second half of the book, this was a nice touch. Hearing the story through Ahana’s voice makes you feel her character better.
Having visited Hong Kong few times I love the city and its energy. I expected the book to capture more of that but it only had Hong Kong sprinkled here and there. For a book commissioned by Hong Kong Tourism Board (learned that from Wikipedia) I should that’s a bit of disappointment.
This was the first book by Durjoy Datta that I am reading and I should say I liked the book. A light reading book ideal for travel.
Both my Desktop PC and Surface Pro now run Windows 8.1. As a result they sync all PC settings including Metro (Windows 8) style Apps, desktop settings and more.
For last two days I found few of the out-of-box Windows 8 Apps like Bing News, Bing Sports, Mail, Calendar & People Apps are broken in Start screen, this happened only in my Desktop PC. When I say broken, the app tiles are displayed in Start screen as plain “Blue” boxes and showing their internal object names like Microsoft.WindowsLive.People instead of People, Appex.*.News instead of News and so on. When I open the apps, I got presented a screen “This app can’t open”. Since these are inbuilt apps, I could find no way to repair the apps or uninstall & reinstall them to solve the issue.
After seeing the above screen few times, I clicked on the link at the bottom which says “Go to the Store”. I was surprised to be greeted by a helpful dialog from the store app that displayed “This app needs to be repaired”. Clicking Repair button reinstall the app and the issue got fixed. I repeated the same for the all the apps that were broken.
All is well in Metro/Modern/Tile world now!
Its eve of Diwali and I come home to see a box of Lakshmi Crackers (Fire Crackers) on top of the Dining Table. Alarmed I started taking it outdoors, when my son came laughing – saying Dad you got fooled, they are just sweets (chocolates). Crackers look alike.
Not to be outdone, I did the vanishing act of making the entire box of “crackers” disappear into my stomach.
Who says Men Trousers have to be Blue, Black or Brown?.
This Deepavali (Diwali) I experimented by gifting myself a “Red” colour trouser. The trick to look presentable with this colour is to wear it with a softer hue shirt, nothing fancy above waist. I went safe with a White based formal shirt with Red & Blue stripes as seen below.
How do I look?. Can I dare to go to work in this costume?. My Facebook friends overwhelmingly think I can carry it well.