Friday, September 7, 2012

IF - A poem for everyone

by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

-> SJ

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Quote Blast

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamour of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. 
                                                                                   - Martin Luther King Jr.

-> SJ

Quote Blast

For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don't believe, no proof is possible.
                                                                                                                                             - Stuart Chase

-> SJ

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Quote Blast

Reason is not automatic. Those who deny it can not be conquered by it.
- Ayn Rand

-> SJ

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Guns, Guns & More Guns...

Extra! Extra! "Every minute someone is killed by a gun!"

This really great infographic came out in today's Economic Times claiming the above.
I'm not disputing the claim infact i'm surprised it isn't worse.

We have come to believe that we live in the most peaceful of times in the last 200-300 years... Do we really??

Think again. For the last 11 years majority of the superpowers have been fighting terror in Afghanistan and then in Iran. The Ghaza Belt is also active and keep shelling each others. India and Pakistan have set times to fire their Bofors Guns at each other across the border and aim to miss (what they want to achieve by missing is beyond me!). Pakistan's ISI plots against Indians by using USA's tactics of breeding terrorists, which by the way is what led to the rise of Osama Bin Laden and the Al Qaeda. Btw the Taliban is making a come back in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Not to forget the random killings in the USA itself. The citizens go around schools and colleges randomly and mindlessly killing other innocent children. Iraq is still under oppression and looks prime to become another failed state like Pakistan and Afghanistan.

With so much violence everywhere the statistics should have been worse! 

With 1 gun per 7 people worldwide how long is it before we get shot?

-> SJ

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Indian E-Commerce Space: Discounts & Drugs!

Being at the forefront of the Indian e-commerce space and working with e-commerce start-ups has given me a unique perspective. As of this month I'm not new to this industry but I'm not old to it either, which gives me a view from a halfway point. I see this space as an insider and also as an outsider.

In my short journey, I'm seeing the long term & the short term bets that companies make and how it can effect their life. For example: offering too many discounts. This may seem like a great way to increase traffic and sales, but its like cocaine. Long term use of the same will make your customers addicted and when the discounts are cut off the traffic to your website will drop as the erstwhile customers are all pouting due to the effects of detox. Before you know it the brand would have disappeared.

Take the example of Jabong.Com. When they launched they came with a bang. Screaming televisions ads (Mainly responsible for traffic), SEO and SEM. They Offered the lowest prices and great discounts. Everything on their website seemed to be on sale. Once they burnt through their investor money; the discounts decreased, the TV ads disappeared and the traffic they developed in the short term has started to fall.

Traffic Trend for Jabong.Com
From Google Trends: Jabong Traffic in the last 12 months

They came with a bang and curiosity caught the better of people, but now that the curiosity has died down the marketplace corrects itself as Jabong's traffic falls and the whole buzz related to it is digested.

On the other hand we have e-commerce companies which do not resort to such discounts. One may think that its foolish, in a market full of discounts it would be important to match the competitors in order to survive... but discounts just erode the bottom line and delay breaking even. Ultimately the companies which offer less number of discounts but better quality goods and service are the ones that will survive. Discounts will  become common place and customers would rather pay a little extra for quality thereby shifting the business from being price sensitive to quality sensitive.

Companies in the baby care & baby shopping space like and in the online grocery shopping space like are going to perform exceptionally well over time as they offer relatively less discounts but superior quality of service.

Why I say overtime is because, as with Jabong, in the initial stage the crowd will go with discounts but after a few months as people adjust to the numerous discounts and as the discounts per site lessens, the market will shift towards being quality centric.

The crazy number of discounts also distorts the market for everyone, the customers and the competitors. It lowers profit, increases expectations and delays break even points making it difficult for companies to survive.

Lets face it, discounts while attractive are more of a drug which eats up the system from within.
Go for quality and not price.

-> SJ

Monday, July 30, 2012

Quote Blast

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
- George Bernard Shaw

-> SJ

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Power of Religion & Faith: Hypocrisy

As I've mentioned in an earlier post: I think religion is an unnecessary evil. We all should instead put faith in ourselves and try to live better and purer lives. This will make humanity into a better civilization and bring peace to the world and everyone's lives.

Human faith in religion is such that it can make up stories to prove that religion is important ... BUT... it can also make up stories to disprove it.

Below we see an unconfirmed case where devout Christians try to prove that religion is a sham so as to protect their real religion: Money!!

Human faith put in wrong places can lead to such gross errors of judgement.

Happy reading!

In a small town in America, a person decided to open up his bar business, which was right opposite to a church. The church & its congregation started a campaign to block the bar from opening with petitions and prayed daily against his business.

Work progressed. However, when it was almost complete and was about to open a few days later, a strong lightning struck the bar and it was burnt to the ground. The church folk were rather smug in their outlook after that, till The bar owner sued the church authorities for $2million on the grounds that the church through its congregation & prayers was ultimately responsible For the demise of his bar shop, either through direct or indirect actions or means.

In its reply to the court, the church vehemently denied all responsibility or any connection that their prayers were reasons to the bar shop's demise. In support of their claim they referred to the Benson study at Harvard that inter-cessionary prayer had no impact !

As the case made its way into court, the judge looked over the paperwork and at the hearing and commented:

'I don't know how I am going to decide this case, but it appears from the paperwork, we have a bar owner who believes in the power of prayer and we have an entire church and its devotees that doesn't.'

Case Example credited to a friend on Facebook.

-> SJ

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Quote Blast

Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind.
                                                        - William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream

-> SJ

Monday, April 30, 2012

Inter-Device Connectivity: Deep Cross OS & Platform Integration

Nowdays we talk about deep twitter and facebook integration for mobile / tablet operating systems but no one is talking about deep integration in the laptop and desktop operating systems.

When Apple came out with iOS 5 and over the air (OTA) syncing with iTunes, everyone was thrilled! I was thrilled! The little known yet amazing tweak that apple did to iTunes with OTA updates was that whenever my iPhone logged onto the same network as my laptop, iTunes would pop open. This allowed me to easily connect to my laptop over wifi and access my music library. I do not keep music on my phone. No, i'm not a fool to do that. This gives me more space on my phone and allows me to access ALL 26GB of music present on my laptop. And Airport makes connecting very simple. 

So lets say I enter home and I want to listen to music. I log my iPhone onto my wifi network (which is always on), this starts iTunes and I can then connect to my laptop (which is always on) and switch on the music through my iPhone. So my phone becomes the player, my laptop is the library and the Bose system attached to laptop becomes the speaker. I now have the ideal music system and I'm not tethered to a single position. I can access my music library wherever wifi network is available at home and thus making my life a lot easier and a lot more mobile.

But there was a public outcry to the auto popping open of iTunes as people claimed it used a lot of resources and as a result apple switched off the auto opening of iTunes, so now I'm virtually tethered to the laptop as whenever I want to sync my phone or access the music I have to go over to my laptop and switch on iTunes and wait for it to recognise my phone. This makes my life a whole lot tougher. Apart from that 90%-95% of the times when I start iTunes, it fails to connect to the iPhone over wifi, effectively reducing over the air update feature redundant (what a waste! STUPID Apple).

Why Apple chose the other extreme rather than giving the feature as an option is beyond me and a whole different blog post.

Getting back to topic: This litte feature introduced (and then recalled), elightened me to a whole new world. Steve Jobs by introducing the iPhone & iPad thought ahead towards the future. but after realising the potential, the thinking stagnated to thinking only about revenues and profit which is a major reason why we have not seen any major ground breaking updates in the past few years. With idevices needing iTunes, Apple can effectively think of deep OS integration with Mac and Windows devices.

Deep OS integration: So whenever my iPhone is on the same network my computer knows it’s online and my device can recognise the computer. This opens up a whole new dimension to inter-device connectivity. It'll allow me to access my iPhone and control its features from the comfort of my laptop. I'm at work and my iPhone is my pocket or kept separately on the table. Suddenly I receive a message. I would have to take my eyes off the screen, reach for phone and read the message. But with deep integration there'd be a tiny pop up on the comp, like an email receival alert for outlook or chrome. Now I'll have the choice to dismiss it, read it or even reply to it straight from my laptop. Same thing with a call. I can then answer the call reject it or put the ringing alert on silent, also allowing me to route the call over wifi from my phone to the laptop.
Now isn't that convenience? It’s also something which is allowed by today's technology but somehow nobody is using it. It’s something which was possible when Motorola released its Razr back in early-mid '00s. Installing the software provided along with the phone allowed me to charge as well as use my phone through my computer. 

So if we could do it back then why can’t we do it with the smartest phones produced by mankind till date??? Would the manufacturers please stand up and reply?

Inter-device connectivity is something which is definitely going to happen. If not now, then at a max of 2 years from now. Windows already allows its Windows Phone 7 (WP7) OS to connect to windows 7 and to answer alerts over bluetooth even without any extra software installation.

The much awaited and soon to be released Windows 8 is a big step forward with extremely deep cloud and device integration and connectivity and will certainly make networking with other computer and other windows devices much easier.

People today have not given this deep device integration much thought. This is why many people complained about the resource drain with OTA’s auto open feature. Resulting in Apple removing that feature from iTunes (a definite backward step).

There are ofcourse some major concerns for this kind of technology:

First and foremost is security. How do you keep so much data being transferred over the air secure? Isn't it possible that the phone logs onto a different comp when it logs onto the network? ... There is a very simple fix for this. Let the phone be recognized by iTunes only if the iTunes account is authorized to be used for that phone... the same way it’s done now. Apple currently allows upto 5 computers to be authorised to be used with and sync with any iDevice. The same principle will keep the data being transferred secure and also prevent any other iTunes account / computer from recognising the iDevice.

The next problem is of battery drainage. If the phone is constantly on the network even in sleep mode, wouldn't the wifi drain the battery? Ofcourse it would.. but there is another fix. After the recognition let the comp and phone ping each other with 3-4 pings at regular intervals. This will ensure that when the phone is not being used, both the devices still keep the connection active. Similarly when the phone is being used and is taken out of sleep mode it can send a ping to the comp indicating that it is awake and changing the connection mode from passive to active. This solves the problem of power drain.

Lastly, Apple is trying to make each device independent of each other. This is a good aim and needs to be done. But lets face it; the Earth works only because of the interdependence of the existing species and environments. While each species is independent on their own and in their culture, they are also interdependent with each other. While Bees have their own society they also depend on flowers for food and while flowers are independent of bees they rely on bees for reproduction.

Similarly we need a network of devices which are independent in their own rights yet interdependent to make our lives easier. What do I mean?? I mean that Apple did a good thing with mobile based app store, OTA updates and syncing which made the devices independent in their own rights allowing each device to function on its own. But we need the device to network and to be accessible to each other to increase the efficiency and comfort of our lives.

Something, which is bound to happen in the greater scheme of things. What do I mean again? Well our lives have become largely dependent on gadgets and technology and at some point these devices have to start speaking to each other and allow cross access functionality. This is where automation systems come into play be it Home, Office, car or a public place. Devices talking to each other independently, and not relying on commands and requests from a human has to happen. Look at Google Glasses, it’s trying to do that to a large extent by integrating all the features into 1 device, but it’s a long way to perfection and mass adoption. And that requires a whole new blog post (which is coming soon)

This is one area which Apple and other OS manufacturers have to enter fast. I'm expecting this to be one of the bigger updates for iOS 6.0 in June atleast for Macs if not Windows. If Apple misses out on this then WP7 suddenly would have a large advantage in gaining market share for professionals and the corporate market considering RIM Blackberry's performance.

My post is slightly tilted towards Apple & iOS because 1st, I'm an iPhone owner and 2nd, come on lets face it, iPhone rules this market. Android has greater adaptability only coz of the cost. It as well as Windows follows Apple to a large extent.

Stay tuned for more on related topics.

-> SJ