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Showing posts from December, 2007

The Value of Travel

In today's excerpt from Kent Nerburn's book Letters to My Son, highlights the value of travel, whether physical, spiritual or mental--and the value of taking risks:

"Because I have traveled, I can see other universes in the eyes of strangers. Because I have traveled, I know what parts of me I cannot deny and what parts of me are simply the choices I make. I know the blessings of my own table and the warmth of my own bed. I know how much of life is pure chance, and how great a gift I have been given simply to be who I am. ...

"If we don't offer ourselves to the unknown, our senses dull. Our world becomes small and we lose our sense of wonder. Our eyes don't lift to the horizon; our ears don't hear the sounds around us. The edge is off our experience, and we pass our days in a routine that is both comfortable and limiting."

Kent Nerburn, Letters to my Son

You've been invited

Over the last few months I've received invitations from people I've never heard of belonging to social networks I've never heard of either.

I have been asked to join Yaari, Doostang, Spock, Spoke, Blue Chip Expert, Friendster, Facebook and Orkut. I've also received invitations from hi5, Ringo and Plaxo.

Of course I need a username/password for each of these services who believe they are providing a unique value proposition to me. And another oddly-name company - offers to help you aggregate all your username/passwords for your financial institutions.

The NY Times' David Pogue had a recent column on the Dr.Seuss inspired dot-com names has a link to in case you are inspired to start your own Web 2.0 startup.

May the force be with you - go forth and create your own domain !

List of lists

It's the end of the year and magazines are throwing out their lists of successes and failures. In the spirit of the season, these are a few of my favorite things:

Fortune's list of 101 dumbest moments in business Among them:

Nine-year-old Shea O'Gorman sends a letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs suggesting ideas for improving her beloved iPod Nano, including adding onscreen lyrics so people can sing along. She gets back a letter from Apple's legal counsel stating that the company doesn't accept unsolicited ideas and telling her not to send in any more suggestions.

It's not brain surgery - The state Department of Health fines Rhode Island Hospital $50,000 when, for the third time in less than a year, one of its doctors operates on the wrong side of a patient's head.

In a cost-cutting move, Circuit City lays off all sales associates paid 51 cents or more per hour above an "established pay range" - essentially firing 3,400 of its top performers in one fell sw…

Number Plates from California

I often walk/drive around with a cellphone-camera and have been taking photos of number plates that piqued my interest.
My on-going photo collection is available on Picasweb. Some of these have been taken through the windshield of my car while waiting at a traffic light - yes I'm one of those multitasking people your driving instructor warned you about ;-).
My favorite one is a Hummer's number plate that claims 20 MPG.

Product Reviews on Amazon

Peer reviews are often a great source of inputs on the purchase decisions which most of us make. In some cases the reviews attract much more attention than the product themselves.

An Amazon user's review of the BIC ballpoint pen

"Today is the fourth day of ownership of my pen, and I have to say I'm starting to treat it like an old friend. ..In summary, I would happily recommend this pen to anyone who is planning on writing on paper."

This review about a duck called Ping "describes networking in terms even a child could understand, choosing to anthropomorphize the underlying packet structure. The ping packet is described as a duck, who, with other packets (more ducks), spends a certain period of time on the host machine (the wise-eyed boat). At the same time each day (I suspect this is scheduled under cron), the little packets (ducks) exit the host (boat) by way of a bridge (a bridge). From the bridge, the packets travel onto the internet (here embodied by the Yang…

What is the Meaning of Life ?

When the weather is cold and it gets dark by 4:30 PM at the end of the year, thoughts turn to the meaning of life.

Does the universe have a purpose or is it a random collection of sentient organisms with no higher purpose than being born, living, reproducing and dying ?

From an engineering point of view this seems to be a very inelegant solution and a colossal waste of resources for no perceivable returns. And in financial terms, what is the return on investment for the Creator ? Why are we here and what is our objective ?

Saying that we are here to "realize God" seems a very facetious answer which raises more questions than it answers. Why did "God" send us here ?

Over the years, I've seen many explanations.

The answer is 42 says the computer Deep Thought in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
"I checked it very thoroughly," said the computer, "and that quite definitely is the answer. I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that y…

Pale Blue Dot

Carl Sagan on our home:
We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam. The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary maste…

A week in Bangalore

Your correspondent reached Bangalore spending almost 19 hours on a Boeing 747 from San Francisco to Bangalore via Frankfurt. After landing at the unearthly hour of 1:23 AM we got a scenic tour of the airport from the plane. When you spend 40 minutes on the runway because the plane has no place to park, you know the traffic is bad.

Although the airport seems to be frozen in the Nehruvian past, the airlines have been rushing to offer innovative services to travelers. Air Deccan allows you to purchase tickets via SMS. Kingfisher's ground staff walks around with a wireless terminal helping passengers to check in and print out boarding passes without waiting in line.

Traffic in Bangalore has rapidly outpaced the infrastructure available, although I've heard that the Golden Quadrilateral has speeded up inter-city connectivity.
Bangalore now has an Inner Ring Road, an Outer Ring Road, a Peripheral Ring Road. All it needs is the One Ring to connect them together.

The only thing worse tha…