Wednesday, August 20, 2014

To chail and back

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Nothing is more refreshing that a quick trip outside ur daily huff puff to some place peaceful where you can switch ur phone and park ur laptop off at peace. A trip to chail for us Delhites can be on such outing without ripping ur pockets.To me chail is about being able to take long walks with my mouth shut and mind at peace. If you have three to 4 days in hand and intend drive for couple of days,breath & trek for the rest of it chail is for you.

Rashi Resort
Its about 8 to 10 hours drive from delhi and the road is quite straight. Put your goole map on and start by 5am in the morning to beat the typical delhi traffic. Take a breakfast stop at murthal for hearty indian breakfast. Dont forget to have curd to keep your belly cool and functional.  if you  like your evenings with few drinks or beers stock them from delhi itself chandigarh is no much cheaper and  hp is not siting with booze bottles to welcome you. fore I forget choose innova for 5 t o six people or a petrol car for people less than that. If u r a student  or a group with unmarried couples/friend get ur bums on a good bus and treck all surrounding chail. Coming back to the drive, from murthal the drive is straight to chandigarh. Few years back it used to be a great straight drive from delhi to chd, now you will find some unfinished flyovers on the way adding to your woes. However the drive will not be more that 4 to 5 hrs even if u continuously drive less that 80. As you cross chd you will be able to see himalayan contours which is quite a adrenelin rush for new comer for the rest is zero mobile connectivity and peace of mind. Formally you enter himachal after you have crossed the  Parwanu toll. You safely assume this section of nh22 as the best hiways in India till kandaghat. Before you begin the drive to chail you can have a brief stopover at tiber trail. They have good  restaurant with clean washrooms. A tag expensive but worth the money considering the overall ambience. From tiber trail to kandaghat is about 80kms roughly and the road is easy straight and comfortable. Roughly about an hour and halfs drive. From kandaghat you take right for chail. The drive from sadhupul (which comes after kandaghat) to chail ranges form easy pleasant to trafficy depending upon the day, time and season. However the overall experience is good as the drive is honk free and through thick forests. From kandaghat/sadhupul to your
hotel drive can range fromhalf hour to 2 hrs depending upon the hotel you are parked. We had parked at Rashi resort, which is about 25odd kms from sadhupul. The significant diff at the property was its staff and food. Almost all the hotels in the area has great scenic location the factor which differentiates is food and quality of service. Rashi resort may not sound as the best names but the staffs approach and service support is so nice you wld want to willfully pay service charge  and luv to forget the high hardheadedness of five stars

Siddh Mandir - Chail
Places to be and what to do once you are in chail: chail is primarily a destination without much fuss and big names to boost. It has two somewhat know temples as Sidhi madir and kali mata mandir. The idea here is not to have a pilgrimage but the sheer pleasure of  walking up to the place spend about half a day there is the pollution population free zone. If you have two full days in hand you can keep one day for a trek trip to both the mandirs and back with half a day halt at each mandirs and second day eitrely  for the jungle trip around valley for about 40 add kilometers( you wld need a local guide for this from the hotel you stay). Or if you intend to keep the trip easy and keep ur feets up then one day trip to each  Mandir can be a healthy and spiritual delight.  Sidh madir is about 7odd km from rashi resort at a height of "I don't know, google out pls"   The walk is pretty straight up through the military school campus.  Through the way you will only find trees, springs, mokeys and if you are extremely extremely lucky and bleSsed then a leopard.  Idea is not to walk alone but at least a couple with a stick Just in case monkeys get cranky. And yes do not carry food items in hand but in a bag if u r carryong one. Bottom rule never instigate any animal or try to. The mandir is neither an architectural marvel nor does it  have any revering story, but what is has is probably what we all need "serenity”. If you want you can sit in its lawn for as long as you wish.

Quite similar but hugely sceinic is the kali mata mandir.  Its at the hill top and quite famous for its snenic beauty. Frankly I haven't seen a more beautiful mandir location till now. Probably is can be just second to takshem monastry in bhutan. The best part of the visit is the day long round trek across the valley through the jungle. Since the day begun with a slight drizzle and it continued almost throughout the day it was like a trek through heaven. Probably I was abit lucky to have it. I would have to be an adept writer to explain the trek through the forest. In nutshell I had never felt so close and connected to nature.

To conclude, a trip to chail is somewhere between a leisure and an adventure trip. To enjoy the most keep it simple.

My only humble request to you all readers please always keep a bag to always drop you wrappers, plastics and rubbish in it and drop it a the designated place only. its heartening to see how we visitors spoil the place.

PS: fruit beers are one thing to have. You can find it at any juice bar at kumarhatti.

Journey thru johri-bhojnagar
So we all thought the the journey us over and we are back home happy and satiated. Well someone has aptly put "the story begins when you think its over". While I am typing this on my mobile on the way back good luck strikes. Kandahat to chandigarh is thru the fruit beer hevan called kumarhatti. Now I think I can say it, fortunately there was a huge jam stretching for more than a kilometer. Marta kya na karta we decided to take a deroute. I was the deroute plan manager and my consultants were local taxi drivers. Relying on their visibilty and acumen we sent out on the johri bhojnagar-chankimod-parwano route. Quite surprisingly- we were  through one of the best and probably virgin locations in himachal. The route was thinly populated and thickly forested with every curve having  its own set of springs and dense forests. Ever turn had its own set of difficulty but  any you could time immerse urself into the beauty of nature.
We decided to keep it safe and take brief halt rather than plunging into any of the valleys. The halt was limited to quick snaps of camera and sips of beer in stock . And yes, as we come on to the highway just before timber trail (the one and only famous timber trail) just few hundred meters away. One lesson always have a map and never shy of asking you way. It helps always. Google map will drain ur battery out and you will realise it only when u need it most.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Federating a meeting from a lync user id to a non-lync or skype user id

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To federate a meeting between a lync user and a non-lync user or skype user, usually following two methods are used:
A)     Join Lync meeting without skype or lync being installated
1.      Click Join Lync Meeting in the meeting invitation.
2.      Click the "Sign in here instead" link to sign in as a guest
3.      Type your name in the "Guest, type your name below" field.
4.      Select the option to Install Lync Web App plug-in.
5.      Click Join the meeting.
6.      A dialog box will display. Choose Run.
7.      If you get prompted to allow the plug in to run, select the checkbox to always allow and click Allow.

B)     Join Lync meeting with skype and without lync being installed

As a lync user:

1.      From Lync, click Add a Contact -> Add a Contact Not in My Organization
2.      From the available options select skype
3.      In the IM Address field, enter the Microsoft account of the Skype user you wish to add
4.      Add the skype user to add the lync invite to begin federation

As a skype user:
1.      Login into you skype account with your “hotmail or outlook” account.
1.      If you do not have any Microsoft id, do register one from the skype login page it self
2.      As you receive the invite from lync user, add the contact and get into the call

However, the only drawback I could see while federating with skype is that the users are unable to see video or share data. Users can only hear or message each other.

Source: University of IOWA & Microsoft technet

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Keeping your CFO & CIO happy at the same time

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Quite similar to our lives, where its extremely difficult to unlock ones golden handcuffs and venture out into the space to pursue our dreams, the IT industry is also locked with the golden handcuff of Reliability, Integrity and Performance. 

Reliability & Integrity is usually faith of  users on the tried and tested solutions & companies and notional understanding of their offerings.Not much long back it was said that "No one gets fired for buying IBM" and now in India you can add Cisco, Websence, Symantec, Dell, SAP etc for their specific domains.
Performance is one aspect, where we keep our eyes open but rationality shut. For Services, we usually go for opinions, peer experiences and the notional market value of  the vendor who would at least provide decent experience it not best. Question is why not go for brilliant? and if feasible for stimulative comparison 

Amusingly the trio of Reliability, Integrity and Performance sum up to RIP for IT budgets and ROIs and bone of contention between CIO & CFO.

Not that we completely ignore RIP parameters, but one should first take the simple sequence of Need Analysis to Requirement Scope to Solution Design.. Mostly, to save our time, trust, jobs or plain simple laziness, we try and plug the requirement scope with solutions available nearest to us and then use a sledge hammer to try and bring down the cost. Trust me, it will never work. But again, skeptics would say for every need, we cannot have the unlimited bandwidth of time and energy and hence the tried and tested process of "shoving the solution to the requirement" suits us all. 

Fortunately, its difficult and not impossible. Put in practice the thought to unshackle the handcuff and come out of the monotonous cycle of RIP practice. Stick your neck out and you will see many around breaking the RIP cycle and keeping both CFO & CIO happy simultaneously.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Chef of IT

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How often have you chosen Buffet over A la Carta? Probably every time when you are not sure about what you guests want or need and you don't want your wife (or Boss) to be upset over your choice.

Few things are quire generic across spectrum of life, be it office or home. The needs are there and at time specific but freezing it down to bill of quantity with product and vendor details, implementation partners and a defined scope of work is quite a task. Here comes the benefit of choosing a buffet, you have some of everything for everyone. Take it from a repute Vendor and you have justified your KRA.

Thought is, have you justified yourself? If the requirement is generic and a mere fulfillment, being a buffet person sounds ok. But when the requirement is non-generic and for a specific purpose, smart diligence is must. Important part is to understand the requirement  and take a stance. True its difficult to take a stance and deviate from laid down policies, and more so when you are not sure what the outcome may be but isn't it important to be the chef of your own IT requirement?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Considerations while relocating Data Center....

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It is like uprooting your systems and replanting. For smaller setups and server rooms , it not that complicated a process, though you should put some planning and perspective in place.

To begin with, what ever be the reason, consider the following  facts while relocating you server room/DC/DR;

a) Scalability: List down the assets to be relocated, and provisioning like electrical, power supply, ups, cooling and network backbone for assets to be integrated. If the reason to relocate is space, ensure the provisioning is done with time period in mind. Have an "Existing Status" and "Desired Status" matrix in place and roadmap to achieve it

b) Connectivity: Fundamental to a DC is connectivity and continuity. Put some thought and if need be discuss with stakeholders about their outlook about relocation. Provisioning for the NOC room to be given priority as the system needs to be up and going with shortest possible lead time...

c) Serviceability: Uptime is something which everyone looks for with minimum amount of post execution effort. Drill down at the back of you mind "Serviceability is as important as first time implementation". Backbone assets do not run by themselves and need periodic care and servicing. Have a service and monitoring plan for periodic review of the systems. If need be, get a srvice chart from you integrator..

And the most important part....."Work With A Smile &.ALWAYS Have a Plan"