Tag Archives: years

For Sale – Macbook Pro 2009 2.53Ghz, 8GB, 250SSD and 9400M £150

Have had this since new but it has had very little use the last number of years. It has been upgraded to 8gb ram and ssd so it is still a great little machine. Outside of body has a number fine scores, but considering its age i’d say well below average. Keyboard and track pad are in excellent condition. Screen is unmarked but I have noticed a few dead pixels on the screen (highlighted in pics)

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Battery cycle is showing as 300 and state as Normal. The charger can be a bit picky sometimes, but has been working fine when i’ve powered it up the last number of weeks however so ive priced this to factor in a decent charger from amazon (around £20) should you end up needing one.
Currently on El Capitan (the max it can officially support) but it can run the latest OSX Catalina through a patched loader.

Was originally going to trade this in at cex but as it wasnt the original apple hd they wouldnt take it, so it has sat unused again for the past number of months

I may also put this on ebay today as it is £1 final value fees

£150 delivered or 140 collected

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For Sale – Silverstone SG06 Black SFF case – no PSU but inc. DVD RW

Hi, reasonable condition SG06 Black SFF case used as office PC for a few years. Would suit HTPC or other SFF use. Looks fine from the outside, a few small scratches on the inner surfaces but nothing major. Also what looks like a tiny bit of corrosion in one of the top ventilation holes, not visible unless you look – I’ve tried to show in the pics.

I’ve left a Sony AD 7700S DVD-RW drive in there, which I mainly used for CD ripping and works fine with dbpoweramp, Accurip and so on.

Internal hard drive, SSD carrier and (obviously) DVD drive carrier are present, as is the PSU bracket and the expansion card bracket on the rear of the case (you can see it above the expansion card slots). I don’t have the slot blanks – they are just standard full height ones though so any old ones will do if needed.

No PSU – pretty sure it needs an SFX PSU.

Front USBs dodgy/not working, there’s a small controller board that screws onto the rear of the fascia – I expect the board could be replaced but I never bothered and just used the motherboard USB ports. Front power button and LEDs work fine, as does the front fan.

This is a good and well built case.

Asking £40 delivered inc. the DVD RW drive.

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For Sale – 775 CPU/mobo/RAM bundle + 775 Barebones unit

I have an old cpu/mobo/ram that I haven’t used in years; just been boxed away. To my knowledge, it works perfectly fine. Backplate included, and I can spare a SATA cable if you need one.

Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 2.13GHz
Gigabyte GA-G41M-ES2L
OCZ Technology DDR2 2x1GB Platinum 800MHz

I took the cooler off to see what the CPU is, but put it back on. So you’ll want to take it off and reapply thermal paste before using. If you want, I can reapply some for free.

£15 £10 collected. I can post it for £5 extra.

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Another old setup. Barebones unit. Just need a storage drive and PSU.
The case and GPU heatsink are dusty and I lost the screws to hold to sides of the case, but it sort it stays in place.
I have one 3.5″ drive holder, will have to have a look but I don’t think I have any others. Probably best to get a new case tbh.

NZXT Gamma Mid-Tower Case
MSI P35 Neo2-FR
Intel Core 2 Duo LGA775 E8200 2.66GHz
Titan Fenrir
OCZ Technology DDR2 2x1GB Platinum 800MHz
Sapphire HD4850 512MB
LG DVD Drive

£25 £20 collected only.

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Both for £35 £25

Any questions, ask away.

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For Sale – Barebones HTPC (Silverstone, Atom 330)

I have an incomplete HTPC that has not been used for a few years. It will need a PSU and HDD/SSD. Untested because I don’t have a spare PSU, but was working fine when last used and made an excellent HTPC for playing HD movies off Plex.

Silverstone GD04 case, cost was nearly £100 new. In good cosmetic condition with only a few tiny marks on the brushed aluminium front panel.

Asus AT3IONT-I motherboard. Intel Atom 330 CPU and Nvidia ION GPU. The GPU does accelerated h.264 encoding so can play 1080p content with ultra-low CPU/GPU usage. These were £99 new and still fetch around £50 used.

– 2GB of Kingston RAM is fitted to the board

– optical drive, which I am sure is DVD (not Bluray).

There are no boxes or manuals available, so collection in person please from just outside of Chorley, Lancashire.

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Instaclustr CTO on open source database as a service

In recent years, organizations of all sizes have increasingly come to rely on open source database technologies, including Apache Cassandra.

The complexity of deploying and managing Cassandra at scale has led to a rise in database-as-a-service (DBaaS) providers offering managed Cassandra services in the cloud. Among the vendors that provide managed Cassandra today are DataStax, Amazon and Instaclustr.

Instaclustr, based in Redwood City, Calif., got its start in 2013 and has grown over the past eight years to offer managed services for a number of different open source data layer projects, including Kafka event streaming, Redis database and data caching as well as Elasticsearch data query and visualization.

In this Q&A, Ben Bromhead, co-founder and CTO of Instaclustr, discusses the intersection of open source and enterprise software and why database as a service is a phenomenon that is here to stay.

How has Instaclustr changed over the last eight years?

Ben BromheadBen Bromhead

Ben Bromhead: Our original vision was wildly different and, like all good startups, we had a pretty decent pivot. When the original team got together, we were working on a marketplace for high value data sets. We took a data warehouse approach for the different data sets we provided and the access model was pure SQL. It was kind of interesting from a computer science perspective, but we probably weren’t as savvy as we needed to be to take that kind of business to market.

But one of the things we learned along the way was there was a real need for Apache Cassandra database services. We had to spend a lot of time getting our Cassandra database ready and managing it. We quickly realized that there was a market for that, so we built a web interface for a service with credit card billing, wrote a few blog posts and within a few months we had our first production customers. That’s how we kind of pivoted and got into the Cassandra database-as-a-service space.

Originally, when we built Instaclustr the idea was very much around the idea of democratizing Cassandra for smaller users and smaller use cases. Over the years, we very clearly started to move into medium and large enterprises because they tend to have bigger deployments. They also tend to have more money and are less likely to go out of business.

There are a few Cassandra DBaaS vendors now (including Amazon). How do you see the expansion of the market?

Bromhead: We’re very much of the view that having more players in the market validates the market. But sure, it does make our jobs a little bit harder.

Our take on it [managed Cassandra as a service] is also a little bit different from some of the other vendors in that we really take a multi-technology approach. So you know, not only are we engaging with our customers around their Cassandra cluster, but we’re also helping them with the Kafka cluster, Elasticsearch and Redis.

So what ends up happening is we end up becoming a trusted partner for a customer’s data layer and that’s our goal. We certainly got our start with Cassandra, that’s our bread and butter and what we’re known for, but in terms of the business vision, we want to be there as a data layer supporting different use cases.

You know, it’s great to see more Cassandra services come in. They’ve got a particular take on it and we’ve got a particular take on it. I’m very much a believer that a rising tide lifts all boats.

How does Instaclustr select and determine which open source data layer technologies you will support and turn into a managed service?

Bromhead: We’re kind of 100 percent driven by customers. So you know, when they asked us for something, they’re like, ‘Hey, you do a great job with our Elasticsearch cluster, can you look after our Redis or a Mongo?’ That’s probably the major signal that we pay most attention to. We also look at the market and certainly look at what other technologies are getting deployed side by side.

It’s one thing to have an open source license. It’s another thing to have strong governance and strong IP and copyright protection.
Ben BromheadCo-founder and CTO, Instaclustr

We very clearly look for and prefer technologies where the core IP or the majority of the IP is owned by an open source foundation. So whether that’s Apache or the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, whatever they may be. It’s one thing to have an open source license. It’s another thing to have strong governance and strong IP and copyright protection.

What are the challenges for Instaclustr in taking an open source project and turning into an enterprise grade DBaaS?

Bromhead: The open source versus enterprise grade production argument is starting to become a little bit of a false dichotomy to some degree. One thing we’ve been super focused on in the open source space around Cassandra is getting it to be more enterprise-grade and doing it in an open source way.

So a great example of that is: We have released a bunch of authentication improvements to Apache Cassandra that typically you only see in the enterprise distributions. We’ve also released backup and audit capabilities as well.

It’s one thing to have the features and to be able to tick the feature box as you kind of go down the list. It’s another thing to run a technology in a production-grade way. We take a lot of the pain out of that, in an easily reproducible, repeatable manner so that our support team can make sure that we’re delivering on our core support promises. Some of the challenges of getting stuff set up in a production-grade manner is going to get a little bit easier, particularly with the rise of Kubernetes.

The core challenge, however, for a lot of companies is actually just the expertise of being skilled in particular technologies.

We don’t live in a world where everything just lives on an Oracle or a MySQL database. You know, more and more teams are dealing with two or three or four different databases.

What impact has the COVID-19 pandemic had on Instaclustr?

Bromhead: On the business side of things it has been a mixed bag. As a DBaaS, we’re exposed to many different industries. Some of the people we work with have travel booking websites or event-based business and those have either had to pack up shop or go into hibernation.

On the flip side, we work with a ton of digital entertainment companies, including video game platforms, and that traffic has gone through the roof. We’re also seeing some people turn to Instaclustr as a way to reduce costs, to get out of expensive, unnecessary licensing agreements that they have.

We’re still in a pretty good path for growth for this year, so I think that speaks volumes to the resilient nature of the business and the diversity that we have in the customer base.

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

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How one man is using tech to change the lives of children with learning disabilities – Microsoft News Center India

Technology for all abilities

For the first few years, the school relied on traditional teaching methods and computers were only available for office administrative services. But in 2009, the school acquired a few affordable laptops to see how technology could be integrated with the teaching curriculum.

“Once we acquired the laptops, there has been no looking back,” says Kishore Kumar, an alumnus of the school, who returned after finishing his bachelor’s in computer science to serve the school as its IT head. Since then, the school has implemented Microsoft Learning Tools on OneNote to teach and engage with students with different learning disabilities.

For students with dyslexia, who suffer from difficulties in reading, writing, and poor memory, teachers use Immersive Reader widely to enhance their reading skills. For young students, many of whom are first-generation learners in their families, teachers also include picture dictionary to help with memory retention.

“I can see the difference in confidence in children when they start using technology. For older children with dyslexia, who are learning to write, the Dictate feature helps them write simple sentences without worrying about making spelling mistakes,” says Vidhya, a remedial teacher at the school.

Similarly, for students with ADHD, teachers use OneNote to teach vocabulary by encouraging them to create mind maps, linear and web charts to increase their attention span and memory retention. Meanwhile tools like Sway help them learn visually while Kahoot quizzes at the end of every class are handy to test their retention.

It is students with autism, however, who need the most attention. The teachers at Helikx Open School and Learning Center have found the Flipgrid to be an engaging tool for students like Sam (name changed).

“Sam loves to tell stories. When I tell a story in class, he takes some characters from it and creates a whole new story. His imagination comes to full play when creates a new story on Flipgrid,” says Vidhya.

Today, the school has deployed Microsoft Teams for every teacher and student. Kumar has created separate channels as per their grade, which allows them to learn even when they are away from the school, like in the current COVID-19 situation.

An online math lesson in progress for children in the 15-17 age group
A mathematics class in progress for children in the 15-17 age group.

“Most of our students don’t have laptops at home, but they are still able to attend the classes on their phones,” says Kumar.

Moving to Teams has also provided teachers new tools to engage with their students remotely. While some teachers are using Kahoot quizzes at the end of their classes, others are encouraging students to create and share content using Sway, Buncee, and Paint 3D. To replicate the test environment, teachers are also sharing Microsoft Forms on Teams, which they need to fill and send back.

“Considering the students are currently not in school, we are also creating PowerPoint presentations with audio clips and OneNote pages with immersive reader and picture dictionary, which they can download and learn whenever they can,” adds Pradha Senthil, another teacher at the school.

Dreams do come true

When Dr. Senthilkumar returned to his hometown in 2000, he’d never imagined how impactful his vision would turn out to be. Many of his students have managed to make it to the regular workforce.

“One student of mine completed his engineering, worked for some of the biggest IT companies in the country and now runs a startup in Bengaluru,” he says with pride.

So what’s next for Dr Senthilkumar and his team at Helikx?

“We have seen the productive outcome of technology over the past couple of years. We have even established an innovation lab and are keen to expand and upgrade ourselves with tools over the next few years to see our children fly high,” he says.

Top photo: Sam (name changed), a student with autism, uses Immersive Reader on OneNote with picture dictionary to read a story. All images courtesy Helikx Open School and Learning Center.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

For Sale – Barebones HTPC (Silverstone, Atom 330)

I have an incomplete HTPC that has not been used for a few years. It will need a PSU and HDD/SSD. Untested because I don’t have a spare PSU, but was working fine when last used and made an excellent HTPC for playing HD movies off Plex.

Silverstone GD04 case, cost was nearly £100 new. In good cosmetic condition with only a few tiny marks on the brushed aluminium front panel.

Asus AT3IONT-I motherboard. Intel Atom 330 CPU and Nvidia ION GPU. The GPU does accelerated h.264 encoding so can play 1080p content with ultra-low CPU/GPU usage. These were £99 new and still fetch around £50 used.

– 2GB of Kingston RAM is fitted to the board

– optical drive, which I am sure is DVD (not Bluray).

There are no boxes or manuals available, so collection in person please from just outside of Chorley, Lancashire.

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The Acid Test for Your Backup Strategy

For the first several years that I supported server environments, I spent most of my time working with backup systems. I noticed that almost everyone did their due diligence in performing backups. Most people took an adequate responsibility to verify that their scheduled backups ran without error. However, almost no one ever checked that they could actually restore from a backup — until disaster struck. I gathered a lot of sorrowful stories during those years. I want to use those experiences to help you avert a similar tragedy.

Successful Backups Do Not Guarantee Successful Restores

Fortunately, a lot of the problems that I dealt with in those days have almost disappeared due to technological advancements. But, that only means that you have better odds of a successful restore, not that you have a zero chance of failure. Restore failures typically mean that something unexpected happened to your backup media. Things that I’ve encountered:

  • Staff inadvertently overwrote a full backup copy with an incremental or differential backup
  • No one retained the necessary decryption information
  • Media was lost or damaged
  • Media degraded to uselessness
  • Staff did not know how to perform a restore — sometimes with disastrous outcomes

I’m sure that some of you have your own horror stories.

These risks apply to all organizations. Sometimes we manage to convince ourselves that we have immunity to some or all of them, but you can’t get there without extra effort. Let’s break down some of these line items.

People Represent the Weakest Link

We would all like to believe that our staff will never make errors and that the people that need to operate the backup system have the ability to do so. However, as a part of your disaster recovery planning, you must expect an inability to predict the state or availability of any individual. If only a few people know how to use your backup application, then those people become part of your risk profile.

You have a few simple ways to address these concerns:

  • Periodically test the restore process
  • Document the restore process and keep the documentation updated
  • Non-IT personnel need knowledge and practice with backup and restore operations
  • Non-IT personnel need to know how to get help with the application

It’s reasonable to expect that you would call your backup vendor for help in the event of an emergency that prevented your best people from performing restores. However, in many organizations without a proper disaster recovery plan, no one outside of IT even knows who to call. The knowledge inside any company naturally tends to arrange itself in silos, but you must make sure to spread at least the bare minimum information.

Technology Does Fail

I remember many shock and horror reactions when a company owner learned that we could not read the data from their backup tapes. A few times, these turned into grief and loss counselling sessions as they realized that they were facing a critical — or even complete — data loss situation. Tape has its own particular risk profile, and lots of businesses have stopped using it in favour of on-premises disk-based storage or cloud-based solutions. However, all backup storage technologies present some kind of risk.

In my experience, data degradation occurred most frequently. You might see this called other things, my favourite being “bit rot”. Whatever you call it, it all means the same thing: the data currently on the media is not the same data that you recorded. That can happen just because magnetic storage devices have susceptibilities. That means that no one made any mistakes — the media just didn’t last. For all media types, we can establish an average for failure rates. But, we have absolutely no guarantees on the shelf life for any individual unit. I have seen data pull cleanly off decade-old media; I have seen week-old backups fail miserably.

Unexpectedly, newer technology can make things worse. In our race to cut costs, we frequently employ newer ways to save space and time. In the past, we had only compression and incremental/differential solutions. Now, we have tools that can deduplicate across several backup sets and at multiple levels. We often put a lot of reliance on the single copy of a bit.

How to Test your Backup Strategy

The best way to identify problems is to break-test to find weaknesses. Leveraging test restores will help identity backup reliability and help you solve these problems. Simply, you cannot know that you have a good backup unless you can perform a good restore. You cannot know that your staff can perform a restore unless they perform a restore. For maximum effect, you need to plan tests to occur on a regular basis.

Some tools, like Altaro VM Backup, have built-in tools to make tests easy. Altaro VM Backup provides a “Test & Verify Backups” wizard to help you perform on-demand tests and a “Schedule Test Drills” feature to help you automate the process.

how to test and verify backups altaro

If your tool does not have such a feature, you can still use it to make certain that your data will be there when you need it. It should have some way to restore a separate or redirected copy. So, instead of overwriting your live data, you can create a duplicate in another place where you can safely examine and verify it.

Test Restore Scenario

In the past, we would often simply restore some data files to a shared location and use a simple comparison tool. Now that we use virtual machines for so much, we can do a great deal more. I’ll show one example of a test that I use. In my system, all of these are Hyper-V VMs. You’ll have to adjust accordingly for other technologies.

Using your tool, restore copies of:

  • A domain controller
  • A SQL server
  • A front-end server dependent on the SQL server

On the host that you restored those VMs to, create a private virtual switch. Connect each virtual machine to it. Spin up the copied domain controller, then the copied SQL server, then the copied front-end. Use the VM connect console to verify that all of them work as expected.

Create test restore scenarios of your own! Make sure that they match a real-world scenario that your organization would rely on after a disaster.


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Author: Eric Siron

For Sale – Desktop PC (Beginners Gaming PC/HomeServer)

For Sale is my old homeserver, ran 24/7 (light to medium use) for the past 2 years and never had any issues with it.

Fractal Design Node 804 (Holds a max 10x 3.5″ + 2x 2.5″ Hard Drives)
i5 4570 (Arctic Cooler 7 Pro)
Asus H81-Plus
16GB (2x*8GB) Crucial Ballistix @ 1600Mhz (Think I got them off these forums, 0 errors in Memtest)
MSI 390x 8GB (Recently removed from my main PC, again never any issues, has recently had fresh Thermal Grizly applied)
Samsung 840 128GB
Windows 10 Pro 64bit (This was purchased off ebay for a couple of quid so how legit it is who knows but it has re-activated today when I’ve done a clean install, selling as no Product Key though for the above reason)
Corsair HX750w
6x Akasa 120mm fans

PC is in full working condition, the case has a couple of minor marks (mostly the perspex windows)
The Corsair comes only with 1x 4 way Sata Power cable, 1x 4 way Molex cable, 2x 8pin cables (GPU) … these were enough to max hard drive capacity on the case.

I have the box for the case so I am willing to post at the buyers expense.

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New AI tools in the works for ThoughtSpot analytics platform

The ThoughtSpot analytics platform only has been available for six years, but since 2014 the vendor has quickly gained a reputation as an innovator in the field of business intelligence software.

ThoughtSpot, founded in 2012 and based in Sunnyvale, Calif., was an early adopter of augmented intelligence and machine learning capabilities, and even as other BI vendors have begun to infuse their products with AI and machine learning, the ThoughtSpot analytics platform has continued to push the pace of innovation.

With its rapid rise, ThoughtSpot attracted plenty of funding, and an initial public offering seemed like the next logical step.

Now, however, ThoughtSpot is facing the same uncertainty as most enterprises as COVID-19 threatens not only people’s health around the world, but also organizations’ ability to effectively go about their business.

In a recent interview, ThoughtSpot CEO Sudheesh Nair discussed all things ThoughtSpot, from the way the coronavirus is affecting the company to the status of an IPO.

In part one of a two-part Q&A, Nair talked about how COVID-19 has changed the firm’s corporate culture in a short time. Here in part two, he discusses upcoming plans for the ThoughtSpot analytics platform and when the vendor might be ready to go public.

One of the main reasons the ThoughtSpot analytics platform has been able to garner respect in a short time is its innovation, particularly with respect to augmented intelligence and machine learning. Along those lines, what is a recent feature ThoughtSpot developed that stands out to you?

ThoughtSpot CEO Sudheesh NairSudheesh Nair

Sudheesh Nair: One of the main changes that is happening in the world of data right now is that the source of data is moving to the cloud. To deliver the AI-based, high-speed innovation on data, ThoughtSpot was really counting on running the data in a high-speed memory database, which is why ThoughtSpot was mostly focused on on-premises customers. One of the major changes that happened in the last year is that delivered what we call Embrace. With Embrace we are able to move to the cloud and leave the data in place. This is critical because as data is moving, the cost of running computations will get higher because computing is very expensive in the cloud.

With ThoughtSpot, what we have done is we are able to deliver this on platforms like Snowflake, Amazon Redshift, Google BigQuery and Microsoft Synapse. So now with all four major cloud vendors fully supported, we have the capability to serve all of our customers and leave all of their data in place. This reduces the cost to operate ThoughtSpot — the value we deliver — and the return on investment will be higher. That’s one major change.

Looking ahead, what are some additions to the ThoughtSpot analytics platform customers can expect?

Nair: If you ask people who know ThoughtSpot — and I know there are a lot of people who don’t know ThoughtSpot, and that’s OK — … if you ask them what we do they will say, ‘search and AI.’ It’s important that we continue to augment on that; however, one thing that we’ve found is that in the modern world we don’t want search to be the first thing that you do. What if search became the second thing you do, and the first thing is that what you’ve been looking for comes to you even before you ask?

What if search became the second thing you do, and the first thing is that what you’ve been looking for comes to you even before you ask?
Sudheesh NairCEO, ThoughtSpot

Let’s say you’re responsible for sales in Boston, and you told the system you’re interested in figuring out sales in Boston — that’s all you did. Now the system understands what it means to you, and then runs multiple models and comes back to you with questions you’ll be interested in, and most importantly with insights it thinks you need to know — it doesn’t send a bunch of notifications that you never read. We want to make sure that the insights we’re sending to you are so relevant and so appropriate that every single one adds value. If one of them doesn’t add value, we want to know so the system can understand what it was that was not valuable and then adjust its algorithms internally. We believe that the right action and insight should be in front of you, and then search can be the second thing you do prompted by the insight we sent to you.

What tools will be part of the ThoughtSpot analytics platform to deliver these kinds of insights?

Nair: There are two features we are delivering around it. One is called Feed, which is inspired by our social media curating insights, and conversations and opinions around facts. Right now social media is all opinion, but imagine a fact-driven social media experience where someone says they had a bad a quarter and someone else says it was great and then data shows up so it doesn’t become an opinion based on another opinion. It’s important that it should be tethered to facts. The second one is Monitor, which is the primary feature where the thing you were looking for shows up even before you ask in the format that you like — could be mobile, could be notifications, could be an image.

Those two features are critical innovations for our growth, and we are very focused on delivering them this year.

The last time we spoke we talked about the possibility of ThoughtSpot going public, and you were pretty open in saying that’s something you foresee. It’s about seven months later, where do plans for going public currently stand?

Nair: If you had asked me before COVID-19 I would have had a bit of a different answer, but the big picture hasn’t changed. I still firmly believe that a company like ThoughtSpot will tremendously benefit from going public because our customers are massive customers, and those customers like to spend more with a public company and the trust that comes with it.

Having said that, I talked last time about building a team and predictability, and I feel seven months later that we have built the executive team that can be the best in class when it comes to public companies. But going public also requires being predictable, and we’re getting in that right spot. I think that the next two quarters will be somewhat fluid, which will maybe set us back when it comes to building a plan to take the company public. But that is basically it. I think taken one by one, we have a good product market, we have good business momentum, we have a good team, and we just need to put together the history that is necessary so that the business is predictable and an investor can appreciate it. That’s what we’re focused on. There might be a short-term setback because of what the coronavirus might throw at us, but it’s going to definitely be a couple of more quarters of work.

Does the decline in the stock market related to COVID-19 play into your plans at all?

Nair: It’s absolutely an important event that’s going on and no one knows how it will play out, but when I think about a company’s future I never think about an IPO as a few quarters event. It’s something we want to do, and a couple of quarters here or there is not going to make a major difference. Over the last couple of weeks, we haven’t seen any softness in the demand for ThoughtSpot, but we know that a lot of our customers’ pipelines are in danger from supply impacts from China, so we will wait and see. We need to be very close to our customers right now, helping them through the process, and in that process we will learn and make the necessary course corrections.

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

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