A fun ride with gadget based coding!

Gadget based coding !

Amazon’s ‘Alexa’ the latest innovation of this gadget era is a useful and excellent gadget as a home assistant, if used effectively. I got really excited when I watched about it and its feature in youtube two years ago. Got super delighted when I recently received an invitation from Amazon, to buy a Alexa product. Ordered an ‘Echo’ version and got delivered by next day. In India, though it would take some time to make it to serve on connected home skills, it is really exciting to make it to play our favourite music, current weather, ask for some facts, make mathematical calculations, explore scientific facts and much more. 

echoWhen my hubby’ first ask was to play his favorite S.Janaki song,  my daughter’s first request was to ask, Alexa, play ‘Shape of You’ by Ed Sheeran, my neighbour’s son asked for ‘Newton’s III Law of Motion’ and me asked for ‘Kandha Shashti Kavasam’ played by my favorite singer. So Alexa has the capability to cater to all kinds of generation and can effectively balance between generation gaps. It cannot have any bias towards any one’s likes or dislikes, since after all it is just a gadget. Am I right?

Ok. It can sing, it can calculate, it can tell facts, what else? What technologies are behind it? How this text to speech happens? How simple or complex it is? My programmer brain jumped to the next level and suggested me what if, if I try to build my own skill and see how easy or tough to make it to publish. Curiosity pushed me to search for  ‘Alexa Skill Development’. Got so many urls, suggestions and recommendations from Alexa Skill Developer Kit(ASK).  Read through many blogs and Alexa forum support which is still evolving though.

After a proper research and having a decent knowledge on the various steps involved, I moved from “Ideation” to  ‘Ready’ to ‘Execution’ state. Then everything happened in super fast mode. Created an ASK account. ASK suggests the developer to provide the skill execution link either from AWS or a certified deployed code. I wanted to explore this server less computing for long time. So used this opportunity to create a Amazon Web Services (AWS) account and choose ‘Lambda’ as my skill execution platform. Got the relevant security authentication keys and administrator privileges.  Next what, I need a resource store. Got a domain registered from wordpress.

In Lambda, I started to code initially in Java and switched to Python, since Python also was in my kitty long time to be practiced. So much of hiccups in between, to switch from Java syntax to Python syntax. I found Semicolon ‘;’ which played a major role in Java is an acute allergy for Python. Instead Python likes Colon- ‘:’ more. My roller coaster drive started towards developing a  basic skill of playing a famous South Indian verse, which is not available in Saavn Music at present.

Explored on the ‘Audio Player’ skill option in Alexa.  Systematically read through their excellent guide provided by Amazon. Learnt how to gracefully stop, cancel and use other ‘intents’. Yes i learnt new terminologies such as ‘Directives, ‘Utterance’, ‘Intents’, ‘Slots’ , Invocation Name’, ‘Speechlets’ etc. Enjoyed thoroughly to explore the usage of these new terms in ASK. Played with English on utterances, speechlets responses while deciding on the  intent slots and intents using ‘SSML’. Struggled hard to try different dimensions while coding for pause and resume intents by missing out some important parameters to handle with. When I made it to work, the amount of happiness cannot be explained in simple English.

Learnt many concepts from mistakes by submitting the skill for certification with the Alexa certification team, and they sent excellent detailed review of my skill, explaining where I went wrong and how to correct them with respect to invocation of the skill. Alexa’s Beta Test ground is very much helpful to test the developed skill before submitting it for certification. The excitement earned from testing my own skill in my own gadget and playing it, motivated me to move on further in improving the skill.

One would ask, why struggle when you can go for a small training or workshops to learn them. IMHO it is a great fun to try these on our own and swim to explore various options available, get stuck at some juncture and search for the solution and make it to work. I swam through Python, Lambda, server less computing, ASK and it’s new terminologies, and my own hosting server.  if there are no milestones or deadlines to meet with, it is a great hobby to pursue with. I started to enjoy this hobby and planning to release as many skills as possible and  enjoy coding in this automation era. Gadget based coding is fun! Yes coding is fun beyond Enterprise Architecture!

If you need help in developing an Alexa skill or stuck at some place during skill development, please reach out to me : msraje@gmail.com

Marriage compliance check ..is it a myth or a boon?

Have you tried a simple android application “Nakshatra Porutham” which instantly displays compliance check details of a prospective bride and a groom – a first step to be processed in an arranged marriage?

In most of the households in southern part of India, arranged marriages are still happening. The first step on an arranged marriage is to check the compliance between the prospective bride and the bridegroom, beyond photo exchange, family background details exchange etc. ‘Janma nakshatram’ (Birth Star) plays a major role in checking such compliance.

welcome3editFrom ancient times it has become a ceremony to consult an astrologer, get his blessings to proceed with the marriage. There are many compliance factors which is expected to be matching between the bride and the bride groom. If the important factors like ‘Rajju’ or ‘Yoni’ are not matching, many elders reject the alliance stating there is ‘No proptham’ meaning its not conducive to proceed and to check with another prospect. More details here.

Astrologers normally provide this by making lots of calculations by matching the stars derived from the date of birth, time of birth of the bride and the groom. For those who does not know their birth star can generate from online web pages also. In our modern age there are people who still, strictly follow such rules when it comes to match making. For such kind of people this application will be a boon, which is built to emit the compliance results in a fraction of second 🙂


Hear your conscious not your mind!

Do we all have the responsibility to leave our healthier footprints to the next generation in this society?

I read somewhere, hear your conscious, not your mind! If we do so, we could create a healthier society with a nice atmosphere.

Do you agree?

Mind thinks intellectually and only about you. Mind can do only inward thinking. Only our conscious overrides mind and think about others around leading to an attitude towards helping others. It’s a practice and can be developed as a habit.

When it rains hard, and all shops are closed, if a neighbour asks for a cup of milk for their kid, have you observed your mind by then? Your mind will immediately respond  with an inner voice, ‘hey, you might need this for the evening’. At the same time conscious would say ‘hey, it’s for a kid. You will not die, if you don’t drink a cup of milk in the evening’, and end up in sharing the milk to a kid as a tiny-winy help.

You are at a bank or some similar kind of public office. You are filling up a form. Someone is nearing to your personal space and asks you, if you could spare your pen for a while. Have you observed? Your mind will say, ‘what if this stranger takes away my pen?”. At the same time conscious would wake up and say, ‘hey, it’s just a pen. What am I going to lose if he takes it away” and end up in sharing the pen as a small help.


You are on a super market billing counter. The person in front of you is having some problem to get his billing cleared due to a small penny change. Have you observed? Your conscious would say, “why don’t you give that small change and clear the billing counter as well help the person in front of you? At the same time your mind would say, “why should I care about other people’s problem ?” At this moment if conscious overrides, the billing counter would clear soon and a cool environment will be created around.

We could write n number of situations like this. If we all listen to our consciousness, and think about others for a fraction of second in little things, human society will be healthier than now with a pleasant atmosphere. We could leave great footprints to this world when we leave it to the next generation!

Making business out of motivation !

Many businesses mint money through the motivation factors of human life. They use the key factors of human life such as laziness, a carrot for doing something or some kind of common motivation facts initiated through some medical ailments. They invest on these factors and it is very much amusing to see their growth. Imagine, what if no one is motivated to jog or walk in the morning. No one is feeling lazy or no one is thronging for some new clothing, shoes and gadgets, what will happen to these multi billion businesses.


A normal 20-30 minutes walk and few minimum stretching exercise is enough for a human to start their day and have an active day through out. They start doing it with a new year resolution in January and within a week their mind throngs for something. They go for shopping, browse through e-commerce websites such as Amazon, FlipKart and buy/order some running shorts, shoes based on their economical strength companies like Nike, Adidas flourish and sustain in the market.

FitbitI was thinking, why not human live a simple life with a normal shoes, and normal attire for going for workout?

Why do they invest on so much on shoes, jogging suits. Modern electronic gadgets like Fitbit, MiBand also join this bandwagon these days. If one does not use a Fitbit, its like a crime, its seen among people. Apart from clothing, shoes the music industries also flourishes and mints money using the work out regime of people. It has become inevitable for people to possess minimum a shoe, jogging suit , electronic wear and a music accessory.


People need some kind of self-motivation things to do anything in life. Laziness is one factor which triggers many to get motivated. If one understands that this factor never fades in human life, these businesses will sustain and flourish. Parents motivate children buying new clothes, electronic gadgets to make them active and do workouts. Spouses gift each other with Fitbits to have a healthy life. Sons and daughters motivate their parents by buying comfortable shoes and music accessories advising them to keep thier glucose level intact. This goes on and on.

Yes. Investing on ‘Lazyness’ is the secret behind success of many businesses across the world.  Am I right?



Are we ready to “learn to unlearn” for a quality life?

Have you ever thought what kind of quality life you are leading to? One of my colleague asked me once. We discussed it over a cup of green tea.

For many years, mankind is improving its quality of life but with a price. Many people started to belive, the more you spend the more quality you achieve in your life. Many equated quality with luxury.

The naked truth is ‘quality’ is not related with luxury. Luxury is a style of life, if one wants to live with the money he spent on various newer things released in the market by the business people whose only aim is to make money. Life’s quality does not depend on luxury. Am I complicating to make you understand?

Just think of a man with his intelligence, has earned more and got a nice luxurious apartment in a plush locality and has everything in the house positioned with great care and maintained by servants for every category, which the house holds. End of the day when this man lies down in the bed and think of his self, he might have got great stress, developed with anxiety leading to depression just to achieve this luxury and success in his life. Due to the developed stress, this man’s body would have developed all kinds of ailments without having time to take care of himself, he would have already crossed his crucial age to enjoy his life. The earned money will be of no use, if not able to use at the right age.

So do you agree, in the search of luxury people lose the quality in their life. Visit to the doctors increases, but the man is so used to go in the search of luxury, he has no time to accept what the doctors say and follow. He overrides the advises thinking nothing will happen to him. He misses to realize the truth and fact of life when the life shows to him at many occasions. He misses the bus and falls into the medical attention which becomes sometimes impossible.


You might ask me, what am I trying to say and what is my point?

My point is, while running to create luxury in one’s life, man should know how to feed his mind, body and soul. He should know what are the required food for the mind, body and soul and understand not only the money he generated or the luxury can feed them. The money and the luxury which he created using the money might bring self-satisfaction but not the real quality one require in life.

Learning to unlearn a few things in life is the only way to achieve a good quality.

  • Unlearn to consume junk food and learn to feed the body with good nutritional food!
  • Unlearn the process of  having negative thoughts, and learn to feed the mind & soul with good intentions, required information and positive thoughts!
  • Unlearn to chat and gossip useless information,  and learn to read good books and exchange good authentic information!
  • Unlearn the ways of having a sedentary life, and learn to lead an active life through Yoga, regular exercise and planned workouts!

So my friends, ‘Quality of life’ is not something procured, it should be generated from one’s inner self…. 🙂

Do you agree?