July 15th, 2015 by Anshuman Aggarwal

Tags: , , , ,

If you’re wondering what that means, we agree! That does need a clarification.. this interplay of words (besides plain attention grabbing) refers to IT (Information Technology) in Education needing an IT (Implementation Topology). If you’ve been involved with the state of Education Technology, you may be able to guess where we are going. Even if you don’t or you don’t really deal with the technology but are an educationist, you have almost certainly experienced it (probably wishing but not realising that things can be better).

It is a familiar story. Schools purchase ‘Hardware/Servers/Computer Labs/Workstations/Tablets/Smart-boards’, install ‘Software/SMS (School Management System)/School ERP/Web Portal’ and then start the waiting game for the educational communities (students, parents, teachers and management) to see any real benefit from it.

Sure, the Fee and Accounts department may not have to manually calculate the outstanding fee amounts and Librarians may be able to track and issue books but is that enough? This is also assuming that the Operating System isn’t virus ridden or the PC doesn’t have a problem due to frequent power failures on a local UPS. Finally with ubiquitous cloud computing solutions, we can add the most  of all problems…internet down!

In the remainder of this post, we will outline the multiple points of failure that plague typical IT implementation in Schools:

  • IT is a cost and not a revenue function for schools: Simply put, however well implemented, IT typically does NOT lead to additional revenue i.e. more students for the school. How often do you see a parent or a school review site actually gauge the state, quality and implementation of IT in a school as a means of ranking/selection. Its benefits are intangible and are difficult if not impossible to quantify for education. Although if done well, it can lead to a significant qualitative improvement in the experience for teaching but rarely one that you can see in a quantitative graph. which leads to…
  • Cost economy driving school management to take near sighted, short term decisions while failing to avoid the pitfalls that entails and losing out on the benefit of an integrated cohesive and planned IT topology.
  • Lack of economies of scale available to corporates and enterprises: Unlike most companies of the size of an average school, having a fully qualified CIO (Chief Information Officer) to oversee implementation is a very expensive proposition for limited benefit in an apparently anciliarry  area. Instead the task is often relegated to the computer teacher/head of department (if you have enough teachers), data entry operator or worse still forced on the school administrator/principal who is often not even (understandably, since its not their day job) aware of the nuances or the latest in IT.
  • Usability by an audience with a wide age range: IT products aimed at education are expected to be used by a 3 year old joining pre-nursery to the principal who is retiring after a successful career from a time when computers didn’t exist!

Although IT faces many challenges in all SMEs, the ones outlined above are especially applicable to schools.

What do you think? Did we miss something? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below and also help us develop our next post with proposed solutions.

February 16th, 2011 by Anshuman Aggarwal

Let us lay the foundation first. The expectation with any headless (device without a screen/button for feedback, relying on machine I/O/codes for troubleshooting) hardware is simple: It should just work, reliably and without manual intervention (assuming proper configuration, installation and maintenance). Once that is met, I personally couldn’t care less where it is designed, manufactured, assembled or divined.

These post(s) will serve to detail lessons learnt as we set about integrating hardware GPS devices and conduct numerous rounds of experiments with multiple vendors, products and firmware variations to identify one that matched our requirement (without explicitly recommending any one brand).

For electronic hardware, there are 3 factors: power, power and power. This can’t be stressed enough. If the power supply provided is not stabilized to the device, you’ll be seeing unexplained system crashes, device hangups and worst case bad data (though this is very rare).

  • Make sure you’ve checked the output voltage from the ‘running’ vehicle and confirmed that the DC output is steady.
  • The supplied voltage should ideally be midway in the supported range of the device. Never operate at the extreme end of the devices’ tolerance, you’ll likely be pushing some component to the limit and increasing the chances of an early failure. For instance if your device works from 8 – 24V, run at 12-16V not at 24V itself.

When you’re sending data continuously, every packet counts! So make them count!

  • Avoid overheads associated with data expensive protocols like HTTP. Preferably use binary TCP or UDP if your device supports it. This could be an important factor in your selection of a device if your software stack can support it.

Network is everything:

  • Make sure that your GSM provider has adequate signal strength in the area that you are planning to cover. Engage multiple cellular operators and work the best deal in terms of network, availability and features they’re offering. If you can find a CDMA device coupled with a good network in your area, take advantage of it by selecting a device which works with CDMA networks (keep in mind the frequencies and protocol variations involved)

Coming up: Data storage, Battery Backup, External Antenna and other factors

January 2nd, 2009 by Anshuman Aggarwal


Let me sum up the message first: It doesn’t matter how big a company, how nice the slides, or how many the presenters…DO NOT OVER REUSE YOUR SLIDES. Well now that I have said it, I’ll elaborate.

This was our experience at a recent iPhone Dev Talk conducted by Apple at the Maurya Sheraton in New Delhi. For the uninitiated, Apple has been conducting these talks across the globe to encourage the development of applications on its new mobile platform, the iPhone.

In my opinion, the Apple IPhone is a game-changing product which shines because of its technical superiority, excellent marketing and innovative ideas. With such a breakthrough product backing you up, its hard to go wrong in a developer session. However, the presenters failed to make an impact, in no small part because they seemed to be sharing a common slide deck with a few changes. When you couple that with the fact that no time was allotted for questions even at the end, the audience is left to wonder if they didn’t have enough to talk about (Any experienced presenter will tell you that they have had to reuse or refer back to a slide or two but never more).

In a nutshell: If your content is dry, don’t make it worse by repetition. Yawn…zzzzz

April 12th, 2008 by Anshuman Aggarwal


After lots of deliberations and discussions, we decided that we will take a similar (read unusual) approach to HR as we have done with our technology innovations. Head over to the job listings to see the details but here is a summary of our approach:

  •  Be completely work driven. As long as the external commitments are met or exceeded then you’ve done your job (hey, its your life and time, enjoy it, take a vacation…just get the work done to the schedule, be it in your PJs or a business suit)
That’s it. There is a lot more to spiel about employee happiness, work environment and all that but we could go on for hours about it. In any case, most startups have a fairly loose environment, and we’re no different.
We also realized that there is a sufficient mass of talented people who would like to do interesting development work in their time off. We have built the processes and systems to be able to assess, QA and deliver using ad-hoc resources to augment our delivery capability, while keeping the company nimble and light footed. 
Write to us if you’re interested.
April 12th, 2008 by Anshuman Aggarwal


Finally, we distracted ourselves and enough developers from their primary tasks to get a site up and running. Now if we can only get them to give us some resume writeups for the about page…

WordPress does make it easier so, here is a ‘Vive la Open Source’ and a promise of a fat donation one day to the OSS boys and girls out there.

Leave us a comment on how you like the site design, we always look forward to hearing from people who care.