Friday, February 29

I for Implementation

I was watching the idiot box when I was at home, when I saw the new IBM ad. Here's its original one.



And then it struck me. How true is this? Especially for IIM grads :-). When we were at IIM-Indore, we had this urge to name almost all initiatives with the letter I. And all the initiatives would have some words starting from I to connote the message, mantra, dictum, et al.
Always it was something like ideation, incubation, inspiration, innovation, etc. etc. ... you got the drift right?

What we did not think was I for Implementation. That word strikes us right in the middle of our eyes the moment we start our work, since up till that point the majority of us are involved in theory and not practice. Hence ideas, innovations, strategies, etc... and not roll-out plans, implementation plans, work schedules. Even as I am typing these words, the earlier ones seem more glamorous than the later. Its not that we made out elaborate plans and never fulfilled them when we were students, we managed to get them done as well. Just, that it amuses me that most of us are geared to do the strategies rather than the execution.

Interesting, huh ... sort of like Lions for Lambs :-), just a 6.2 on IMDB.

Thursday, February 28

Wednesday, February 27

IIM Jobs

No, I am not job hunting. Atleast not yet :-)

But I came across this great site. Its iimjobs.in

Its a portal for all job hunters or for those of us who want to know our market value, and feel good with that information. The site has a simple layout with all the recent job openings on top. Plus, if you are particular about one stream only, then you can browse through the job postings by specialty.

And the best part about the site is that you do not have to register to get to the content.

Kudos Tarun!!

Valu: The Wild Bull



Had gone to Mumbai over the weekend, my mother talked me into watching this movie on Saturday night. Since I did not have anything else to do except visit my ophthalmologist, I complied.

It has been over 4-5 years since I have watched a marathi movie in a theater. And I was pleasantly surprised with the new age of marathi movies coming. Valu in marathi means a bull which is unleashed in the wild, it is not to be tamed and not to be tampered with either.

So the movie starts off with a no-nonsense forest officer who is dispatched to capture a rogue wild bull who is disturbing the peaceful proceedings of some nondescript village. The forest officer is miffed at this prospect, that such an important person like him is now relegated to capturing wild bulls instead of leopards and their ilk. Nonetheless he goes there, along with him, comes his younger brother ... and his video camera. The entire movie is about different perspectives from different villagers about one problem. A wild bull. If you do understand marathi, then definitely worth a watch.

What is more interesting, is how the movie was made. The producers of this movie are not your regular Sippy's and Bokadia's ... they are not even millionaires, they are simple middle class people like you and me. The aam aadmi of Maharashtra. How did they come up with the moolah? Well, through their friends, relatives and friend of their friends. Talk about Movie 2.0, huh?

Sunday, February 24

64 = 65?

I am damn right confused!! What is wrong with this figure ... geometrically, an area of 64 sq. units is now converted into 65 sq. units. How!?!

Got any bright ideas on this? I do.

I think it is violating the Basic Proportionality Theorem (BPT). Since it is assuming that 3/8 = 5/13 (the colored triangle being similar to the bigger half of the rectangle). Which is obviously incorrect, so the rectangle cannot be formed like so. Whew! Thank god for the constraints of geometry!!

Friday, February 22

Microsoft to open up?

Microsoft has started to take the power of the development community seriously. In a press conference yesterday, they have put a very verbose official release regarding increasing the interoperability of all the high volume MS products by releasing and maintaining documentation of their APIs on their site. As quoted from Steve Ballmer,
For the past 33 years, we have shared a lot of information with hundreds of thousands of partners around the world and helped build the industry, but today’s announcement represents a significant expansion toward even greater transparency. Our goal is to promote greater interoperability, opportunity and choice for customers and developers throughout the industry by making our products more open and by sharing even more information about our technologies.
Read the complete release here.

The products whose APIs would be released are Windows Vista (including the .NET Framework), Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008, Office 2007, Exchange Server 2007, and Office SharePoint Server 2007, and future versions of all these products.

Can we have someone look into the revenue of these products as well?

Translated, will now have to buy a license and become a registered member of MSDN to understand the APIs for the "high volume products".

Addendum
RedHat was not so much impressed with this release, read more of it here.

Firefox reaches 500 m :-)

Its my favorite browser. My only browser for that matter (yes, I sometimes do use Konqueror) and only use the more ubiquitous IE but only to go to Mozilla site and download the latest release of Firefox.

Its great to know that all of us have contributed to the magic number. 500,000,000. There's hope to this world after all :-)

Read more about the milestone here.

One more example of how the user and customer opinion and feedback was taken into account while developing the product. It sometimes becomes very difficult to choose between the two dictums Customer is always right and To thine own be true. Many a times people have to make those hard choices in order to keep a business running. So what if the product is slightly flawed ... the customers wont complain, because they do not have any other obvious choice. Yes I am talking about you-know-who-who-bundles-their-browsers-with-their-operating-systems. Try uninstalling IE from WinXPSP2 and you will know what I am talking about.

Well, now they do. And they know about it!! Power to the people!!

Thursday, February 21

Meetings

Its 4pm today (read day-before-yesterday), when I have started doodling this blog post. Yes, I am one of those people who sometimes write their blog post on paper before they digitize it. This is being done in the throes or should I say meanders of a meeting. It had started 2 hours ago, and I am getting shudders remembering it. From the start, all of us knew that it was going to be a monster of a meeting.

Still, we managed to touch base upon pollination of flowers, onion and potato rates and how interesting the commodities market is becoming. We had assembled to finalize SAP process flows. We are a retail merchandising firm. I love meetings.

The ideal number of people in a meeting is 3-4, the moment it goes above that, you are asking for trouble. You will have atleast one person (like moi in this case) who will be doodling on a piece of paper.

Focus Prasad!! Focus!!!

Its 8pm now, and we have managed to cover some ground, but it looks pretty glum from my end. I decided to put together a small list that people like me can do when they end up in meetings such as these -

  • Think about the more recent interesting stuff you have read
  • Start a screensaver in your mind, I personally like the Hufo's Smoke on a linux machine
  • Butt into the meeting with something that borders between sense and incoherence to make your presence felt
  • Try listening for a change and even add "value" to the meeting
  • Try playing your favorite tune in your head
  • Send stratified SMSes to your loved ones
  • Make lists such as these, preferably with a straight face
  • Think about new ways to customize your blog and your website
  • Order for coffee and biscuits
  • Move about the meeting as if people are calling you out for something important or the other
  • Drink enough coffee/water that you have to visit the water closet
Got any more? Do drop me in a line then!!

Cheers.

Wednesday, February 20

N3tH@c|<

The mountain giant picked up a boulder and heaved it towards me. My female orc wizard ducked and narrowly missed the hulk of rock. I decided to take my Wand of striking and kill both the giant and the killer bee buzzing behind him in a single strike. The giant absorbed the magic and moved on to pick up the boulder for another shot. I smote off the killer bee with a couple of blows with my trusted +4 magic staff and turned to face the giant. The goliath had managed to pick up the boulder, now was the time ... I took out another wand of magic missile and let go its fury at him. No effect. I would have to kill this one by hand-to-hand. No matter. The staff was up for the challenge and my mithril coat was unharmed. A fast flurry of blows was exchanged the giant lay bested at my feet.

No, this is not a dream. Its one of my favorite games, NetHack!! This is a single player game released in around late 1980's ... the development of this game has been completely on the net ... and its a hack and slash game ... hence net + hack = nethack :-)

Everytime I play the game, theres something new that happens. The maps are different, the characters are many to play with ... and the game decides to behave differently on a full moon day!!

Just one more example of how a product has developed in a decentralized fashion over an open interactive medium (IRC and Usenets) to result in a customer oriented product.

Monday, February 18

Enchanted: Recapturing Innocence lost

When I was a small kid, I used to absolutely love reading fairy tales. My grandfather had bought these two hardbound volumes from the seven seas yonder that were absolutely full of them. I never managed to completely read the book end to end, but I had read a lot of them.

Then came school, junior college, engineering, work, mba, work and with all of them, the facts about life. Now I am a person who can safely say is well-grounded in reality. So much so that I have more or less stopped watching cartoons, even Tom & Jerry, which my father still loves and laughs out loud like a small child when watching the same.

Disney and this new movie, Enchanted brings out that mirthful child in all of us. I had an absolute rollicking time throughout this movie.

The plot is simple, a fairy tale couple (prince and princess, with their chipmunk friend) are thrown into reality by the wicked witch step-mother. The princess is hurtled into Earth and this guy who is your normal Joe, who also happens to be a divorce lawyer. As the plot thickens, by and by, reality also has its effect on the fairy tale world and I wont spoil it, please watch the movie :-)

After a long time have I seen an all out movie, the likes of Cinderella or Snow White, et al. A musical cartoon flick which turns into a romantic comedy movie. Very nicely done. I think I will try to get my hands on the digital version of this movie. Definitely an 8.0

Saturday, February 16

Creating a personal blog

So, a lot of us like to blog, and of course would it not be super cool if we had our own blog url and all the jazz effects at of course a minimal of a cost.

Well, now we can. And even the most basic of a computer user can go ahead and have his personal url blog ... here's how you do it.

  1. Go to a domains seller. I bought mine from Aalphanet. Needless to say, you will have to register first.
  2. Search for an available domain eg- kidakaka.com
  3. If available, go for the kill, purchase it. A .com comes for somewhere around Rs. 450.00 per annum, a .in comes at half the price.
  4. Once that is done, buy the Manage Domain rights for your domain. This costs an additional Rs. 45.00 per year.
  5. Now start a blog on the blogger platform
  6. In the Settings->Publishing->Advanced settings, go to the your own domain name, and provide the same.
  7. The complete instructions are given here, but this is what you do simply -
    1. Enter you domain name in the Advanced tab
    2. In your Manage DNS section of domain dashboard, make a CNAME entry for your domain to point to ghs.google.com
  8. It should take an hour and two and Voila!!
The blog now is hosted on the blogger platform, but the url is yours. A customized personal blog for less than Rs. 500.00 a year.

Friday, February 15

Business World

Theres a section of Business World which is Quick take, the question of the next week's issue was posted to me via through a friend (PG).

The Indian IT industry has several set backs -
  1. Lack real technology work - with around 60% of the work lying in the AMC and Testing (Support) bracket, there is dearth of scope for your average Indian techie to get their digits (pun intended) dirty in some concrete techie work.
  2. Project orientation - Most of the biggies in the Indian IT industry are service oriented, and more concerned with projects for foriegn customers. Their business orientation is towards projects, so much so that the entire organization bases its financials upon projects and their profitability. It may seem as a sweeping statement, but think about it, projects for the same client cumulate into an account. Accounts cumulate into a Geography. How this is bad is that there is no focus on IT products in the market.
  3. PPP of economies - How can one sustain themselves on pure projects alone? Esp. those that are based on a foreign economy. The moment the domestic economy starts doing better than the foreign economy (read those of the clients), the cost of the project rises (either for the firm or for the client). To remain competitive vis-a-vis other foriegn IT vendors, the indian firm will have to drop rates, losing profitability.
  4. Attrition - With an average attrition of around 15%, the costs of a project are constantly going up. Whenever a resource switches to a new firm, he gets a pay hike. A pay hike translates into more costs for the same resource. More costs without increasing revenues results in reduction of profitability.
That was my answer, I was a little surprised to learn that theres such a small amount of people who agree with me. No matter, it will be a good thing for India if I am wrong ;-).

You will find the pdf link here.

Thursday, February 14

Facebook and KlueLESS!

So, the three stooges are back again ... no, thats Uddu, Sharma and moi!! After discussions spanning many months, we have finally decided to go for it. A klueless appllication on Facebook!!

The hosting and domain is more or less figured out. Just the FBML now needs to be figured out. You can see our first efforts here.

Wager!!

Hectic day today ... no seriously! Have a late night conference all regarding work. Hope it finishes within an hour or so, while my roomies (who are all single and loving it) are celebrating the V day, I will be discussing business and revenue models.

Read a nice post on entrepreneurship, here.

Today, I made a wager on the daily sales of one of your brandstores. We had launched a sabse sasta din offer on Sapient Brandstore. My MD was saying that the daily revenues will barely cross a lakh. I informed him that it would be much more than that. Rs. 500 more to my CTC!!

Valentine's Day

So its that time of the year again. When all the retailers and big brands of the world try to woo the lucky couples off to a romantic time and great gifts!! Fly a couple and get 10 tickets free, buy for two and get 10% off ... is it really all just a marketing gimmick? Open any newspaper or surf to any channel, and you will see what I am hinting at.

Abstract from Wikipedia -
Saint Valentine (in Latin, Valentinus) is the name of several martyred saints of ancient Rome. Of the Saint Valentine whose feast is on February 14, nothing is known except his name and that he was buried at the Via Flaminia north of Rome on February 14. It is even uncertain whether the feast of that day celebrates only one saint or two or more saints of the same name. For this reason this liturgical commemoration was not kept in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints for universal liturgical veneration as revised in 1969.[2] Traditional Roman Catholics continue to venerate St. Valentine on his feast day, February 14.
Funny, isnt it? If so little is actually known about the group of saints who gave their life for the masses, still this day is celebrated on such a vast scale.

Tuesday, February 12

Posting via Email

This is a test post to check the posting via email functionality offered by Blogger. The moment they receive an email on the proposed id, it will get published as a blog post.

Cheers,
Prasad

Edited

Some issues with this email posting. Additional carriage returns are inserted. Will have to give this some thought.

Head Hunting


Above is our ad (first draft) about to be released in TOI in all the major cities. Interesed?

Out of Context??


These context sensitive Google AdSense ads are a hoot. Where did I have any context which was relevant to the above ad? Weird ... huh?

Friday, February 8

Aamchi Mumbai

This just in.

Thank god for some good sense!! Saamna was bound to slam one of their own. The moment Raj Thackeray must have said those words, there would have been some minds tracing the eddies those remarks must have caused in the social currents of the city.

Slamming non-mumbaikars to garner the vote of the marathi manus is one thing. This is more like trying to take the cake and eating it too. At any point of time, if you see what is running a huge city like Mumbai, then it is the corporates, the financial markets, bollywood, underworld, politics, et al. How many maharashtrians (I am trying to use the politically correct term here!) do you know in any of these fields?

Take the non-mumbaikars out of Mumbai, and the city does not remain Mumbai!! It looses its proverbial charm! The economy goes down, unemployment goes up ... from a T1 city, it might plummet to as low as a T3 city. I am not exaggerating here!! What are you standing to gain after coming to rule in such a city?

Some things are better when shared. Aamchi Mumbai is open to all. It feeds on precisely that.

Microsoft Vista

Do not worry, I am not going to complain about (or sing paeans) on this product of MS. Its about their much needed SP1 release. Just read a release here.

This is precisely the kind of impatience that results in a bad product. I do not blame the firm for this excuse of an OS. I blame its users and its channel partners. Microsoft is a business organization after all, also one that is customer centric. So, it will follow the market demand ... needless to say, if customers want a new thing now!!, then a new thing they will have. Who cares whether it works properly or not.

This reminds me of Howard Roark from The Fountainhead, and his stubborn indignation to do things his way. At least that way a good product is delivered. Could this be a case of escalation of commitment? Now that you have decided on Vista being a marketable product, make it better and within a given timeline.

I do not envy Microsoft. Lets leave it at that and thank the Ubuntu guys for making it run perfectly on my laptop.

Thursday, February 7

Fire the product placement guy!

You've been an MBA for TOO long when...

  • You ask the waiter what the restaurant's core competencies are.
  • You decide to re-org your family into a "team-based organization."
  • You refer to dating as test marketing.
  • You can spell "paradigm."
  • You actually know what a paradigm is.
  • You understand your airline's fare structure.
  • You write executive summaries on your love letters.
  • Your Valentine's Day cards have bullet points.
  • You think that it's actually efficient to write a ten page presentation with six other people you don't know.
  • You celebrate your wedding anniversary by conducting a performanceb review.
  • You believe you never have any problems in your life just "issues" and "improvement opportunities".
  • You end every argument by saying "let's talk about this off-line".
  • You can explain to somebody the difference between "re-engineering","down-sizing", "right-sizing", and "firing people's xxx".
  • You actually believe your explanation in the above point.
  • You talk to the waiter about process flow when dinner arrives late.
  • You start to feel sorry for Dilbert's boss.
  • You account for your tuition as a capital expenditure instead of an expense.
  • You insist that you do some more market research before you and your spouse produce another child.
  • At your last family reunion, you wanted to have an emergency meeting about their brand equity
  • Your "deliverable" for Sunday evening is clean laundry and paid bills.
  • You use the term "value-added" without falling down laughing.
  • You ask the car salesman if the car comes with a whiteboard and Internet connection.
  • You give constructive feedback to your dog.
  • You give your boyfriend / girfriend a golden handshake on the way out!
  • You can add value to this list by contributing to it

Friday, February 1

Democracy

I just finished reading the sixth book of the Dune series. The story behind the plot is so esoteric that I do not want to divulge the details of the same in this blog ... what is more interesting is that how the book sheds lights on issues like religion, governance and governance using religion.

If you decide to reflect on the same, then you will realize that there is some sense to it all. Right from our childhood, we have been taught that democracy is a government of the people, by the people, for the people. Is that really true ... from school we come into real life all misty-eyed and full of ideals, then real life hits us with shades of grey and a despairing need of black and white.

The very leaders we adulated over, and voted into power, we know are of no good. The false promises that they make will be of no use. Thus, democracy itself is based upon and runs on mistrust. I do not trust my government, thats the whole reason for having an opposition party in parliament so that I have a double check on them.

The entire system is based layer upon layer of mistrust. The lower layer knowing and not trusting the higher layer. And surprisingly, it works!! Well, thats just democracy for you. What will heckle you further, is that when you think of a governing system which is hierarchical (like democracy) and is based on trust (rather than mistrust), then we have dictatorship!!

Funny, isnt it, whats good at an individual level, is not a necessary thing at a cumulative level? hmm...