Kiruba is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, podcaster and a farmer.

Portraits: Shooting my Colleagues

After we finished the meeting with a client, I was in an upbeat mood. The client loved the work. I took an impulse decision to shoot the two colleagues who were with me. Here are some photos from the shoot. — at Semmozhi Poonga.

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Office outing at Queensland theme park

When we went for an office outing at Queensland theme park, this is what I found in a remote corner. A huge mound of plastic bottles. Even though Queensland has multiple places to refill drinking water, many still prefer to buy bottled water. The biggest contributor though are the Coke bottles. I felt guilty for we contributed to that mound ourselves.

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Triple Monitor Set-up – Need Help.

For last couple of years, I have been having 2 monitors configured to the same desktop and that has significantly improved my browsing experience and work productivity. Buoyed by that, I wanted to push it a bit further. Add a 3rd monitor.

I like to have more screen real estate around me. It helps me compare designs, do research and multi-task. While twin monitors have greatly helped me, honestly, I really don’t think having a 3rd monitor will improve any more work productivity. But it definitely scores high on the coolness factor. Besides, that’s the way Bill Gates works as well. If this works for Bill, then its good enough for me. And so, last week, I ordered in a new 17 inch monitor.

However, the 3rd monitor just sits there on my desk as a show piece as you can see in the pic above. That’s because the computer service company I hired, can’t seem to fix it. They seem to be at home with a twin monitor set-up but a bit foxed with adding a 3rd one. There are tons of articles online on how to fix them and I mailed it all to them. Hasn’t improved their confidence much.

Do you know someone in Chennai who would know how to fix a 3 monitor setup? I’d be grateful for their contact details. Please mail them to me at Kiruba @ Kiruba.com or leave them in the comments below.


Sprucing Up The New Office

We just rented out a second office space. Calling it an office space is a misnomer. It’s a simple two bedroom apartment. Size: A compact 720 Sq.Ft. But what makes it strategically important is that its right above our exisiting workplace. The timing couldn’t be more perfect. We were expanding our team and started to feel the space crunch and when this opportunity came up, we lapped it up.

For those of you who didn’t know, my workplace is in the same apartment complex where I live. So, it *really* is only a stone’s throw away!

It also helps to be the Apartment association’s secretary. My wife was earlier the Treasurer. Together we weave a sizeable influence out here. If anybody gets to know about new vacancies, it usually is us. Never hurts.

Anyway, back to my new workspace. 720 Sq.Ft may not be much but you can pack quite a punch even in such a small space. I also want to spice up the place and make it a colourful, Fun place to work in.

Over the last two days, I have been brainstorming on some of the inexpensive interior decorations that can spice up the place. Here’s the list of things that I’ve been planning to do. Please note that these are wish lists and I hope to eventually get all of them done.

Dual Monitors for all my employees
: OK, this one is clearly a wish list. I’ve been using two flat monitors and I can see that its definitely helped in work productivity. Eventually I’d like to have each of my folks have dual monitors as well. It also makes the office look cool. The Last.fm office folks are lucky. Some of them have 3 monitors each!

A Big World Map : Yup, a big massive map. Even better if its in the boss’ room. Makes it look as if you are plotting a huge global expansion plan! Besides, I’m geographically challenged and helps to have a ready reckoner.

Cycle on the wall : Oh, this is my favorite. I love cycling and would like to have a cycle right in my office. If its on the wall, even better. I have a road bike (race cycle type) and have planned to put this up. The only hitch? I need to drive in a few strong nails on the wall to hold up the cycle. And I have a feeling my house owner isn’t going to like it much. But hey, who cares!

Beanbags : Yup, a few brightly coloured ones. Very Googly. They add an air of insouciance. Luckily, I was able to trace out a shop (courtesy Ramanujam) where the guy has multi-coloured ones. Even better, he has a ‘Buy one, Get one Free’ offer. Definitely picking up a couple.

Smiley Balls: Yes, those yellow coloured, soft, squishy balls. And lots of them.

Mini-Basketball Hoops: Put a ‘dustbin’ right under it and suddenly, disposing waste paper gets more creative. I like crumpling unwanted paper into a ball and pretending to be Kobe Bryant. And yes, those smiley balls are good as well. Nice stress reliever.

XBox and Wii : I already have an XBox. Need to buy a Wii when it launches in India. Getting a nice big LCD TV would be nice but I won’t be able to afford it. Would have to suffice with a 19 inch flat monitor.

Dart Board : It’s part of the ‘must have’ list. I know a couple of sports shops that has very nice big ones. A little expensive but worth every rupee.

Writable walls : White boards are passe. Turning the walls into writing spaces is the in thing. Greatly helps in brainstorming during team meetings. Having ideas all over the walls makes the place an awesome place to spend time in. The downside? Quite expensive. You need glazed glass and they cost quite a bit. Any inexpensive alternative available?

Potted Plants : A couple of tall plants that thrive in shadows, placed in corners in office. The greenery adds such a wonderful relief and contrast. Then have smaller plants and have them placed on desks.

Big Framed Photos: Select a few awesome photos from Flickr that are under the Creative Commons licence. Have them framed nicely. Great way to decorate the office. Each good frame would cost close to Rs.1000 but they are well worth it. Once the photos are framed, take a picture and mail it back to the original photographer letting him know how cool his work is.

A Hanging Clinkler: Oh, I just invented the name. What I meant to say was those hanging bells make nice clinking soft musical sounds when they move.

Serial Lights: Yes, like how they do during Christmas. Not those blinking types. Those are distraction. I’m talking about those nice ones that light up the place good. Have them strung around near the ceiling and the place immediately takes on a fun festive atmosphere. When I couchsurfed in HongKong, the guy’s bachelor pad had such lighting and immediately decided to filch the idea.

Row of Clocks : The ones with different time zones. Its cliched but I think it adds nice variety. Its also symbolical that you do business in different countries.

Daughters’ Paintings: Their scribbles and messy painting are worth more to me than a pro-painter’s. They’ll adorn my room for sure. They are colourful and if I give them a nice expensive looking frame, there’s a good chance, you’ll mistake them for a modern painting!

Well stocked kitchen : A mini- fridge, coffee maker, electric stove, full array of utensils. It gives a ‘help-yourself-anytime’ message. Useful during those deadline driven long nights.

Paint up the Ceiling: Yeah, enough of those boring white ones. Time to get something nice. Don’t know who to

Soft lighting: No raw lights. Diffused lighting is so much easier on the eye.

Nice Sofa: A bright red one. Already decided the color. So cushiony that you sink into it. Doubles up as a place to crash.

Logos of Clients: It’s time to take pride in the kind of clients that we work with. Frame up the logos and have them proudly display them on the wall.

Flower beds on Window Sills : During my visit to Japan, I was absolutely impressed with how Flower Beds like these I found in Sapporo on the window sills. Naturally colorful.

A Wiki Wall : An entire wall for visitors to add their creativity. A complete set of colours and paint brushes will be placed and anyone is welcome to come and paint. We did something similar at the iCommons Summit in Japan and take a look how the eventual painting has turned out

Neon Light: I want a neon light that has the words ‘Lets Kick Arse’ put up. A bright reminder to enjoy ourselves while we smash our internal revenue records.

Paper Lamps: I’ve seen some awesome paper lamps at Auroville. Some of them are huge round ones and the others are taller than me. Should get a few of those. Get those big paper lights and those long standing ones I found in Auroville store

Alright, so these are some of the ideas I’ve got. I’d encourage to use these ideas to spice up your office as well. If you have any good ideas, I’d love to hear from you. Please drop them at the comments section or email me at kiruba@kiruba.com .

I’ll get down to actioning these something mid-next month and as I do them, will document them as a photologue. Should be interesting to see how the new office shapes up.

And oh, this new office will also be a co-working place. If you are new to coworking, I suggest you read this. I’ll have at least 6 work desks that will be free and will let it out for entrepreneurs or freelancers to use them. If you are interested in a cool place to work in, let me know.


Ping Ponging at Work

I bought a brand new table tennis table at my new work place. It’s been a longtime wish.

It’s a game that I fell in love with when I started playing at Tidel Park when working at Sify. After work hours, we would head out to the ‘TT room’ and spend atleast a couple of hours everyday sweating it out. I loved it. It was fun and it gave me enough dose of exercise. Fun and exercise is an awesome combination.

It was at that time that I promised myself that whenever I open my own office, I’ll definitely get a ping pong table. I loved it when I was an employee and wanted to give my employees the same perk. When the table landed up at my office, I felt good keeping up that promise.

Yesterday, we played our first few games. None of us knew how to play the game well. We followed the simple rule: Just get the ball to the other court. The technique was zero. But it was sheer fun. We’d laugh at each other’s horrible smashes. It loosened us up.

I’m also aware of the downside. It’s going to affect the work productivity for certain. Yesterday, we spent two hours playing. The game will eat into the work hours but I’m confident that while the quantity of work hours might take a beating, the quality of work life will improve. And my belief is that this will have positive outcome.