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Showing posts from January, 2008

Goodbye Netscape

AOL announced that it will stop supporting Netscape from Feb 1. In almost a decade the company grew to symbolize the Internet boom, it's IPO the start gun for the dot-com boom, it went through the M&A process which symbolized the excessive valuations, had an epic battle with Microsoft(which realized the power of Free! No purchase necessary) , it lost market share, became obsolete and now it's dead. It seems to have gone through in a decade what most companies go through in about 50 years.

I still recall the very first time I used an Internet browser - in 1995 when my then employer, Tata-IBM, installed a common machine on the 7th floor with Internet access and offered eligible employees an opportunity to use it. I got an approval from my manager and launched Netscape.

Until then I had e-mail which all the cubicle dwellers on my floor accessed on a DEC VAX machine and a link to IISc that went down every couple of days and stayed down for a few days. I then heard about the…

This I Believe

It takes a great deal of introspection and courage to state what you believe in 500 words or less, especially in a public forum like NPR .
What are your core beliefs and values that define you, that you would never compromise on?

NPR has many essays from celebrities as well as others on "This I Believe"
Worth spending a few hours reading.

What drives you ?

Some self-analysis for a change ....

What drives you as an individual to make specific choices and how do you act on them ?

Adam Smith, in The Wealth Of Nations, claims that it is the "invisible hand" that motivates individual behavior and when each person acts in his own self-interest, it benefits the society as a whole. "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages."

This has been used by many economists as the foundation of the free-market theory - the market is self-regulating. However, when individuals act in their self-interest, how do we know if it is their short-term or long-term self-interest ? How does it benefit the society in the short-term and the long-term ?

The Katha Upanishad talks about two kinds of actions: prey…

Hey..... You want a piece of this spectrum ?

The Hindu has the story of how the Government of India issued Letters of Intent for telecom operators:

... representatives of wannabe telecom companies literally got into fist fights and blows in a bid to be the first to get the letter of intent.

At 2:45 PM The DoT announces that Letters of Intent will be issued at 3:30 PM
...a representative of one of the applicants got a hired goon to ensure that it was his company which was the first to enter the gates.

Finally LIs were issued to nine companies. Real estate giant Unitech got LIs for 22 circles, Datacom for 22, BPL and Shyam got 21 LIs, Idea for 9 circles, STel got 6, Spice got only 4 though it had applied for pan India, Swan got 13 and Tata Teleservices got LIs for offering CDMA services in 3 circles. If all the companies convert the LIs to licences by paying the entry fee, the Government will stand to get in excess of Rs 7,000 crore.

Gandhian Engineering

Gandhian Engineering is the term that's cropping up all over Cyberspace after the launch of Tata's radically innovative car: the Nano.

Clayton Christensen's company blog refers to it and India's version of the Wall Street Journal, Livemint, says Gandhian engineering is "combining irreverence for conventional ways of thinking with a frugality born of developing-world scarcity".

The car has no seatbelts, no airbags, no radio,
The dashboard has only a speedometer, fuel gauge and oil light
There are no reclining seats, no power steering or power windows.

The car is assembled by the dealer and not by Tata, reducing transportation costs significantly and helping Tata build an ecosystem of suppliers and partners.

The Nano claims to deliver 50 mpg - comparable to the Toyota Prius which is priced at ten times the Nano. As Andy Grove puts it, this is a ten-times force acting that will cause a strategic inflection point both for Indian automobile manufacturers as well as gl…

Building a better rat trap

The San Francisco Chronicle reports on a low-tech innovation that has helped improve the standard of living for some of the poorest people in India.

In this impoverished tribal belt in southern Tamil Nadu state, catching rats has been a primary job for members of Chinnapayan's Irula tribe - an impoverished community of 3 million people at the bottom rung of the Hindu caste hierarchy who have often found themselves teetering on the brink of starvation.But the introduction of innovative rat traps has remarkably reversed the Irulas' plight. By curbing the amount of rodents that have long menaced Indian farmers, the tribe has seen its income triple in the past three years, while bringing them new respect. The Irulas, who were once jeered by many locals as "rodent assassins," are now being touted as saviors by many farmers.
Low-tech innovation probably makes as much a difference as a high-tech innovation considering the larger population in developing countries who are mos…

More on the Meaning of Life

After looking at the Meaning of Life a few weeks ago, I saw this on allthingsd.com on the Universe: “[L]ogically the world could be an information simulation running on a three-dimensional space-time screen”

and some speculation on how the Universe will end - with a Blue Screen of Death !

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a BSOD.”

Vocal Impressions on NPR

Probably due to my proximity to San Francisco, I'm a Starbucks-drinking, tree-hugging, classical-music listening NPR fan ;-)
Vocal Impressions is a series that I recently caught while driving home in the evening. In this program, listeners are asked to describe different voices. Some descriptions are truly wonderful and the combination of the image they create and hearing the voice they describe is marvelous.

Morgan Freeman: "A lion gargling with pebbles"
Marilyn Monroe: "The slow folding and unfolding of a pink cashmere sweater"
Cher: "The pulse in your head when you figured out that the hottie you were told was a transvestite really is a woman after all"
Ray Charles: "Slow dancing in a college bar, tingling with anticipation"

More of this at NPR's website
Round 1-7

Round 7-10

Movie Review: Chak De ! India

Why has it taken mainstream Bollywood so long to deliver a movie with no songs and no romance (aka running around in foreign locations singing songs) ?

Bollywood seems to have found the magic formula of making blockbusters :
- one superstar
- an underdog team which seems to have no hopes of winning
- a game which most of India understands and has historical associations
- a rivalry with another (Caucasian) country perceived as a superior team

We saw this in Lagaan which starred Amir Khan leading a ragtag team to victory over an English cricket team, and now in Chak De, Shahrukh Khan, as Kabir Khan, plays hockey and coaches the women's hockey team for the world championship games.

Chake De ! India has very engaging theme music throughout the movie, most of the actors are new faces, which helps in avoiding distractions and the story is tightly controlled for most of the movie. There are the usual group dynamics when a team comes together - jealousies, friendships and conflicts, but the sto…

Thoughts for the New Year

On Work

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it! Boldness has genius, power and magic
in it. Begin it and the work will be completed.
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


“Do little things in an extraordinary way; be the best one in your line. You must not let your life run in the ordinary way; do something that nobody else has done, something that will dazzle the world. Show that God’s creative principle works in you. Never mind the past. Though your errors be as deep as the ocean, the soul itself cannot be swallowed up by them. Have the unflinching determination to move on your path unhampered by limiting thoughts of past errors.”
- Paramahansa Yogananda

We read in the Bhagavad Gita again and again that we must all work incessantly. Every work must necessarily be a mixture of good and evil; yet we are commanded to work incessantly. The solution reached in the Gita in regard to this bondage-producing nature of work is that, if we do not attach ourselves to the work we do, it will not have a…