Category Archives: Learning

myView: Free open source is not really free. It’s expensive!

Free Open Source is not really Free

Free Open Source is not really Free

So here’s another story that I wanted to share with fellow freelancers and my clients on how expensive so called “free” open source software can get.
This incident occurred a couple of times but only today that I realize how much expensive the open source bang wagon could be. You can call me a tube light for realizing this so late.
I worked on a Joomla 1.0.x (open source and quite an established php cms software) based project a year back for a niche community of houseboaters. We spent weeks configuring the site to make it work the way my client wanted. Adding new components, creating new components, complex customizations, design, SEO, templating, etc. etc. and it all looked good at the end. The client was very pleased and so was I for what I have created out of Joomla.

It all went fine until yesterday when the site got hacked and Google kicked it out of its search results. The traffic went down drastically leaving nothing but few thousand users. Turns out that my client wasn’t really paying attention to the growing security concerns of Joomla nor was he really interested in upgrading the scripts to the latest version. Anyways, I had to act quickly and figure out the best possible way of getting the site back on Google and make the site secure once again.
I spent one whole night researching and trying to figure out the problem.. finally I found the malicious code and removed it. You can read it here.
After getting it back on Google, our challenge was to make it secure. And the only way to do that was to upgrade to the latest version of Joomla and all the components, customizations etc.
The site has grown exponentially over the year and with so much customization, it has become quite difficult to bulk upgrade the site. Now the whole upgrade project costs almost same as getting a new site.
The point here is, although free open source software comes for free, you still need to shell out quite good amount of money to make it work the way you want. Plus, maintenance and regular monitoring is essential. This hidden cost of maintenance and upgrades could hurt your business model. So, make sure to include it.
Freelancers, a tip for you would be to explain the hidden costs to your clients and sign them for a maintenance contract!

About myView: myViews are totally my point of view of things I see in the industry. Could be a good analysis or just stupidity.

Always On Architecture for Instant Messenger on Mobile Devices

Well, its true that mobile IM will hit big in the coming years. People will need a better way to stay connected with work, family, friends not only on call but also online with their avatar. On my recent search on available services that lets me stay connected on IM, I couldn’t find any. But I heard there is an application in T-Mobile Sidekick that lets us stay always on (not sure how far that is true).
First of all, sorry for putting such a lame concept diagram below… anyways, I began to wonder the complications, the companies (especially communication companies developing mobile apps) might be facing in getting something like this in the market. The only major problem I could think of is in keeping the data connection always on. So here’s a high level simple architecture of what I think can solve this problem. Basically, the intermediate server will store the session between the device and IM server keeping itself transperent. When someone trys to talk to the device, the intermediate server can alert the device and also send the message to the app sitting on the device. This way the user can maintain an Always On state even when the app is not open or device is not active. Any thoughts?

Update: I came across this iPhone/BlackBerry application BeejiveIM that let users stay connected (Always On feature) on their favorite IM client on the go. The service looks very promising but its little expensive $16 plus either Microsoft Exchange Server Connectiviy or subscription to MobileMe (both could be little expensive). It emails the user (via puch email feature) whenever a contact trys to initiate the conversation. Besides that, it has many other features that makes it a popular pick among various IM clients available for iPhone and BlackBerry. Continue reading

How to get Motivation to work

Sometimes, after a long busy day at office, I don’t feel like working at home. I feel so lazy that I either watch another episode of Family Guy/America Dad/Arrested Development or something like that and just hit the bed. I would even spend couple of hours with my roomies, talking nothing but worthless crap (I know I need to be social too, but its just not my kind of thing right now). Lately I started reading some books on getting ‘motivation to work’ and also implemented few of the techniques that are proving fruitful. Here’s what I’ve been doing:

  • Split the tasks into very small 10 min. tasks that look doable and easy
  • Write down all the best things that would happen If I finish these small tasks early.
  • Make a small plan on how I can tackle difficult problems in an efficient way.
  • Talk to Mom for encouragement (sometimes this takes lot of time!).
  • Realize how happy my client would be if I finish the project way before deadline (or) realize how mad my client would be if I delay the project any further.
  • Go through my goals list to realize that I need more money!
  • Have a coffee or tea to ensure I stay awake and work.
  • Staying focused on those small tasks I created. Avoid blogging!

But unfortunately sometimes, even with all that my laziness overshadows my plans, tasks list, talk with my mom, goals list and everything under the sun. That’s when I feel I am tired and I need a good night sleep 🙂

MIT Open CourseWare

Have you ever wanted to see, feel and enjoy the quality of education in big institutions like MIT? Well here’s a chance. Try MIT’s exclusive online courses all for FREE. Yes, its true! Go here, and try it. Check out all the courses, watch all the videos, download all the pdfs, capture everything you ever wanted and don’t pay a dime, don’t even register on the site. Here are the courses that I am following right now:-