Prologue: I am interning, as a part of my curriculum, in a Bulgaria based company named Telerik. Telerik has recently opened an office in India on Sohna Road, Gurgaon. On 12th January 2012 there was an event organised by all Telerik India and many international people had come over to share their knowledge and enlighten the participants in a full-day Telerik’s Developer Conference Event where there were speakers like Michelle Smith, Steve Smith, Chris Sells and our Indian evangelist team including Lohith, Dhananjay and the Country Manager Mr Abhishek Kant. After the event we were supposed to eat dinner together at a restaurant-Pirates OF The Grill. Chris had to pick up his wife from the hotel so I was sent as a guide.
The Intro: We sat in Swift Desire and after few adjustments made to the front seat so that Chris can be contented with leg space. The vehicle moved and after we (Chris, driver & me) were comfortable I heard a voice, “We haven’t been introduced formally. Hi, I am Chris Sells” and I then I turned my head and introduced myself. It was like a one-on-one interview with a big-shot of the industry. Suddenly the conversation took a beautiful turn and he asked me about my goals. I replied as I always do, “Develop a seminal IP which makes a difference in the technology-world”. And he was instantly happy and wanted to know more about it. As I was discussing my goal I did come closer to my distant dream as I found a little closure as to what I actually want to do. Initially it was just a dream but now it is a refined dream or at least I would like to think that way. I figured that I wanted to develop a software which can get into every house easily and help the world to be a better place. Well I still have a long way to go to achieve what I have dreamt for I feel that every day I learnt something new to be closer to that goal. He said he liked “big thinkers” referring to me and that had made my brain stop for a couple of minutes, a complement from Chris itself was like WOW…
The deep secrets: Eventually, the focus shifted from my life to his and he told me a lot about a lot of things. When he was between ages 14-18 he used to attend school in the morning and code at nights just because he was so attracted to coding. Then I learnt that he worked for US military and helped them build the front-end simulator for the torpedo devices because they could not test each of the missiles part by part and then re-assemble it. Then he explained, something which has always caught my attention, about how do the telephones actually work. He illuminated that first commercial telephones were built by At&t which had the operator system. After that they got the big round dial which recognised the number by the amount of beeps it made. Then came the DTMF, dual tone modular frequency where each number had a different tone to recognise the digits. He also explained that people eventually were able to make free calls through a particular whistle which they got as a freebie along with “Captain Crunch” a cereal. People got the operator numbers form the trash of the big telephone-companies and hence made their free calls. Well, you guys can’t do it now as its all-digitalised now except the voices. Your voices are still converted from analog to digital and vice-versa at the middle layer).After these few deep secrets there was a pause and they next topic of discussion was there in his pocket.
Personal life: He was checking his mails on the Nokia Lumia 920, the phone which was released in the Indian market just the day before. So I asked what the new features were, hoping to learn something which I haven’t already seen on digital media. And there it was. He told me about the Voice Over IP in-built in Skype allowing you to make calls using lesser bandwidth. Well frankly I will have lookup this technology, as I haven’t devoted VOIP much time. The other features included the amazing Camera technology, the anti-shaking and the low light feature. Another interesting feature was that Zune is no more needed for connecting WP8 to your laptop or any other software for that matter. It can act purely like a memory device.
Then I asked him about the softwares he came across in his lifetime and he told that he started working on Apple-2, [Well surely I couldn’t imagine how that looked like] and then working on many other softwares and frameworks which is difficult to recall as of now. He also said that he had covered all the job in the industry- developer, project manager, team lead, evangelist and now he is the VP of the .Net Tools at Telerik. All he has left to cover is the marketing side it. He also untangled the fact that B Gates had not put a single code in the Windows himself. He was just the marketing guy and he kept monitoring all the subordinates. His funny story of getting hired starts from getting a recurring call every year saying that Microsoft had a great job opening for him and he turned down every one of them just because he dint want to move his family or move away from his family. In one of these calls Chris asked if he had to move over to Chicago and the phone said “no” and that is when he joined Microsoft. He worked remotely for 8years and visited his team in Chicago every other weekend. He appreciated the bottom to top work flow i.e. the budding ideas were given a healthy environment to prosper. And that was one of the main reasons he actually left Microsoft, because after BG retired the work flow changed strictly to a defined desk job.
Little bit of me: The conversation progressed to what all project I had done. I explained my WP7 customise apps and my love for Kinect the softwares I had built with it- the calories burning app, and the bot being controlled over Arduino. Then he asked whether I had been given any stipend and the answer for unfortunate. Well, I hope I build something good to warn some respect in industry. The conversation too professional and honestly I was out of technical topics so I asked about their explorations in India as they had been on a tour the day before.
The fun ending: He explored most of the monuments like the Red Fort, Qutab Minar, Purana Quila and the usual. He expounded his funny experience of visiting a crowded market on a Rickshaw where he could feel the tug between the driver and the vehicle ahead of him as there were words being exchanged between those two. He couldn’t recall which market it was though. To think of extremes I believe it was the Chandini Chowk they had visited. The best part of our journey was when him mocking the traffic on the highways…well I wouldn’t try explaining it but I will quote him saying “This is what is called Organised Chaos”. Well, yeah, that’s India for you. An eye opener and an early warning for all the world out there, don’t be scared, we know how to drive, we just more exciting.
Finally we reached the hotel and after waiting for a couple of minutes the Sells couple came through the lift and passed right through without me noticing them. I still couldn’t figure how that happened. A guy came to me as I was still waiting for them and told that they were already in the car. I was a little embarrassed then, not paying enough attention to the lifts. Then we headed straight for the MGF Megacity where we had our dinner planned, and had an amazing-awesome-bountiful dinner.