Looking back at 2013
It is my customary blog - looking back at the bygone year. It is an opportunity to summarize what all are the major events that took place in the last year.
No trips during Pongal
It has been a long time since I was in Vizag for Pongal. It is good to be in Andhra during Pongal as we get to see festive atmosphere all around. Well we made the most it. First we had Bhogi Fire in early hours of 13th. I bought sticks that would last for an hour or so. Much to my surprise a lot of people in my street have put Bhogi Fire. I didn't expect those many people to get up at 4:30 am and make Bhogi Fire. The street was blazing with Bhogi Fire. Indeed, it was a treat to watch.
I always believe festivals are to be celebrated in the right spirit. There is no better way to start your Pongal than with Bhogi Fire. It means you are ready to get up early in the morning and do the hard part with heart. Festivals are not about eating and dressing alone. It is also about getting people together, having fun and more importantly doing what the festival is meant for.
At Bhogi Fire
At Bhogi Fire
Then we (me, Padmaja , kids and my brother’s kids) participated in Kite festival hosted at R.K. Beach. We bought some Kites, Manja thread and flew a few kites. In kite festival, some of our kites were cut by others, we cut a few of others'. It was fun, lots of fun to be in that place and enjoy the moment. Of course we started our rehearsals the day before flying some kites from my terrace.
Flying kites on terrace
In Kite Festival at RK Beach
Purchased Dell Laptop – 15R Special Edition on 31st Jan. It is Windows 8 system with i7 processor and 8 GB RAM. After a lot of searching I zeroed this model. I used IBM Thinkpad and then HP Pavilion in the past. But this time Dell appealed more to me. I found that local dealer is giving better price than any online store, so purchased it at local dealer.
I used it during my VSP corporate training. After a few days of its usage, its keyboard started giving trouble. I registered complaint with Dell. The whole process of registering the complaint took around 15 mins as during that process I had to restart my system a few times to ensure the probelm is really with hardware. I was just following the instructions of Dell customer support personnel.
After a few days Dell engineers came and replaced the keyboard with new one. No questions asked. I was pretty impressed by their customer service. It has been fine since then.
VSP Corporate Training
Unlike the previous years, this time I took up two new topics – Android and C#. Overall, I conducted three training sessions - Java EE, Android and C#.
Enjoyed Android the most as it was new and we had a great batch. C# training was confined to language concepts as we already had a few .NET training programs with VB.NET. It was primarily to familiarize trainees with C# language syntax.
Java EE Batch
Moved to New House
We shifted to new house on 5th April. New house is also located in Seethammadhara. New house has better amenities than the current one. My room, especially, is much bigger than the old one and more specifically designed to suit my requirements.
My Study Room
My Study Room
Nokia Lumia 920
I wanted to go for a better phone. I had been using Nokia E71. I didn’t want to go for Android phone as I am already using Samsung Galaxy Tab, an Android device. Apple iPhone is great. But I don’t build iPhone apps. So I decided to go for Windows Phone and eventually purchased Nokia Lumina 920, a Windows Phone. I haven’t done any serious Windows Phone Apps. But when I decide to do then this phone will be of use for that purpose as well. I am not a great user of mobile phone. But it is good to have a phone with all features so that you can use, in case you need them.
Took Photography classes from Mr. Agrawal
During the month of April, I and Padmaja took basic photography classes from Mr. B.K. Agrawal. These classes were conducted by Visakhapatnam Photographers Association and taught by Mr. Agarawal, a well-noted photographer. We learnt a few new things from those classes. But to get the best from any training programme, one must put theory to practice by doing a lot of practice. Honestly, I didn’t do enough home work regarding photography. Nevertheless, it was a good attempt to know more about basic photography. I have been trying to apply what I learnt since then.
Trip to Gangtok
In the last week of April, our family along with two other families made a trip to Gangtok, Yumthang and Darjeeling. It was an adventurous trip considering roads and weather conditions. Most challenging was trip to Yumthang, which is 150km from Gangtok. Our group consisting of 11 members went there by two vehicles. The road was in very bad shape and climate was rough. Especially all through the return journey from Yumthang to Gangtok it was raining. There was a danger of stones falling from hills nearby and blocking the way. After we made it to Gangtok, we felt a huge sense of relief.
We also visited Darjeeling. But I found that place to be too crowded and roads were too narrow. We went to see sunrise at Kanchanjung, but unfortunately, we couldn't see sunrise as it was very cloudy on that day.
On the way to Lachung from Gangtok
Whole group at Darjeeling
Oracle PL/SQL Developer Certified Associate
I have become Oracle PL/SQL Developer Certified Associate on 26th July. I was eager to complete a certification in this year and PL/SQL appealed to me.
about this certification.
I wanted to go for a robust desktop for classroom. So I have checked out a lot of options and finally selected Dell desktop - Dell Vostro. I purchased it on 4th September. It is a Windows 8 system with i5 and 8 GB RAM (upgraded from 4 GB). It suits my requirements as classroom demonstration system. It actually comes with wired keyboard and mouse. I replaced them with dell wireless keyboard and mouse.
Praneeth Suffered from Dengue Fever
On 8th September, Praneeth complained about Fever. He has been very healthy. I don’t even remember when he last had fever. So I thought it was just an ordinary fever. But later Padmaja got Dengue test done, the test result was positive. We were asked to admit him in Hospital. We admitted him in NRI hospital. It was a very tough period for us.
It became tougher due to indifferent attitude of doctor. He had no time to talk to patient or patient's parents. He would visit, see reports and move on without a word with either patient or concerned. A few positive words from doctor would have made a world of difference. I only wish that doctor would know that. Doctors are god sent, but it seems, god forgot to tell some doctors to be kind and sympathetic with patients. Praneeth is doing well and has recovered. We were told powerful virus like Dengue could affect other organs. His eyes were the victims. His sight was affected slightly, so he is wearing spectacles now-a-days.
Online Session on HTML 5
Though I took a few online sessions in the past, it was only for corporate training. But this time I offered online session – HTML 5 jump start. I used AnyMeeting.com for this online session. It was on Sunday at 9 to 11 am. It was primarily meant for my students of Java EE and Asp.Net. Yes, I do have plans to offer such online sessions in the future also. Online sessions are best way to cater to students, who otherwise can’t make it to regular classes.
Family outing at Sunray Resorts
We had a wonderful time at Sunray Resorts on 1st and 2nd November. We were 18 members, including kids. The primary attraction for all men and boys was playing outdoor games like Cricket and Football. As soon as we reached the place, everyone started playing one or the other game like Table Tennis, chess, XBox, Caroms, Snookers and other indoor games in Club House. Then in the afternoon all men and kids played cricket followed by football. Evening it was about swimming. Well, to get into a pool of height 4 feet, one need not know how to swim. The next day early morning, we had great fun with cycling, badminton and then Cricket again. Overall it was a great get-together of 4 families.
Cricket team before start
Football team at halftime
Early morning at Lotus Pond
In Battery Car
Trip to Shiridi
We decided to visit Shiridi and I had to plan and book tickets in the month of October for the trip in December. Booking train tickets was the biggest task as tickets run out in no time. I also booked accommodation in Shiridi online. Many things are just a few clicks away.
At Sai Ashram Bhaktanivas
At Sai Ashram Bhaktanivas
More online shopping
This year, like never before, I had done more online shopping. Purchased not just books (which I did even in the past), but also garments, computer hardware, shoes, belts and so on. I guess this is a trend we get to see with many more. Online stores seem to give better offers than conventional stores. I purchase books from Amazon.in and Flipkart.com. I am particularly impressed with Flipkart.com’s delivery. They do amazing job. The other websites that I purchased from are snapdeal.com, bagittoday.com and trendin.com.
The following are the books that I have read in this year. I set myself a target of 12 books in this year. I am glad to have done it.