Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Blogging about

Pretty interesting stuff - particularly the first article - about video display on thin air - looks like startrek is atlast becoming possible :)
Blogging on CommonCraft: A case study of using a weblog to attain number-1 rankings in Google:

Quite an interesting article - gives quite a bit of insight into Google's PageRank technology and how to use the knowledge to attain no.1 ranking in Google - but for those who want to use their weblog for such means !

I do not exactly approve of such methods - particularly for weblogs - the objective of weblogs is to give an outlet to independent artistic expression ;) and not to use it as a publicity mechanism for personal profit. Of websites it's probably true, but for weblogs - i don't think its right.

Probably google should come out with a mechanism of detecting such purposeful entries...

Thursday, December 25, 2003

"What's Your Google Number "

A rather amazing article found online about the google number and its importance in everyday life and in HR.

Google’s greatest application as an ‘HR tool’ is not in the corporation – it is out among the free agents, consultants and entrepreneurs who live and work by reputation and experience. It is here where ‘Google numbers’ become very important

100 or less – keep your day job and start publishing
- HR.com may be a good place to start!

400 – do a nice web site and publish more

800 – it is probably safe to hang out your shingle

1,000 – you are getting some real attention

2,000 – you are well known in your field

5,000 – you are an often quoted expert in your field – a thought-leader

10,000 – Dave Ulrich

50,000 – Tom Peters

100,000 – Peter Drucker

i've was directed to the above by gautam's blog
Something I forgot - recently read a book called "Inventing Money: The story of Long-Term Capital Management and the legends behind it" - amazing books - simply unputdownable - tells the entire history of finance is a really succint and understandable manner - infact it teaches concepts behind all high-funda stuff like currency and interest rates swaps in a really simple manner - a must read for any fin. enthusiast

Friday, December 19, 2003

Quoting from Morgan Stanley, Goldman Earnings Rise on Trading, Share Sales

Seems the secuirities industry is on a high :)

Morgan Stanley, the second-largest securities firm, said profit rose 42 percent to $1.04 billion, or 94 cents a share, in the quarter ended Nov. 30. Goldman, the No. 3 firm, said net income almost doubled to $971 million, or a $1.89. Morgan Stanley raised its dividend for the first time since 2001.

Securities industry profits in 2003 are forecast to be the second highest on record, exceeding the $16.3 billion earned in 1999, according to the Securities Industry Association. The industry reported profit of $21 billion in 2000.

Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., the fourth-biggest securities firm, said yesterday profit more than doubled to $481 million, or $1.71 a share. Bear Stearns Cos., the No. 7 securities firm, also said net income rose 51 percent to $288 million, or $2.19.

In mergers and acquisitions, Morgan Stanley ranked second in the quarter behind Goldman Sachs with $128 billion in announced transactions, according to Bloomberg data. It ranked fifth in completed agreements with 43 transactions valued at $28 billion. That compares with the company's first-place ranking in the same period last year when it had 70 transactions valued at $161 billion.

Goldman has been the No. 1 equity underwriter worldwide for at least the past five years, with a 12 percent market share this year, ahead of Citigroup at 11.2 percent, Bloomberg data show.

John A. Thain - a top Goldman Sachs executive has been appointed chairman of NYSE. Quoted by John Reed as "someone with knowledge of the markets, who understands the role of technology and is a person of great integrity."

The previous chairman was ousted over aproar due to his $139.5 million pay package, a sum — awarded by a board packed with Wall Street executives and personal friends.

However there have been problems with Thain's conflict of interest due to his holding $300 mn in stock at Goldman Sachs.

Quoting from http://www.nytimes.com/2003/12/19/business/19NYSE.html

Mr. Thain was born in Antioch, Ill., midway between Chicago and Milwaukee, and has worked for 24 years in relative obscurity at Goldman, overseeing the firm's technological operations since 1994 and serving as chief financial officer before becoming president in 1999.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Added thyagi's blog - a friend of mine from IIIT. A guy impressively passionate about technology and rock.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Wired 11.11: Open Source Everywhere

An interesting note about the methodology of open source that is catching on like wildfire allover:

Says that the amazing thing about linux is not its success in the market. The revolution lies in the method and not in the result wherein a group of collaborators build a product while keeping all collaborations open to review and use.

Goes on to say that IP is open-source's nemesis:
a legal regime that has become so stifling and restrictive that thousands of free-thinking programmers, scientists, designers, engineers, and scholars are desperate to find new ways to create

An interesting observation - open source became prominent in the programming community first because of its proximity to the internet.

An awesome statement: opensource is P2P production

Also found a copy of Linus's Original post in related wired article...
Wired 11.11: Open Source Everywhere

From: torvalds@klaava.helsinki.fi (Linus Benedict Torvalds)
To: Newsgroups: comp.os.inix
Subject: What would you like to see most in minix?
Summary: small poll for my new operating system

Hello everybody out there using minix-I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu) for 386 (486) AT clones. This has been brewing since april, and is starting to get ready. I'd like any feedback on things people like/dislike in minix, as my OS resembles it somewhat

Any suggestions are welcome, but I won't promise I'll implement them :-)

Blogging on Wired news article...
Wired 11.11: Leader of the Free World

Description of Torvalds:
Torvalds, 33, looks like a supply clerk. His wispy brown hair frames preternaturally blue eyes and a soft, open face with an ample nose and heavy jaw. He's almost never without a benign grin, a smile so pearly-white perfect that he could get work in a teeth-bleaching ad. And he's dressed as though ready for a casual morning of tennis: white socks, white shorts, and a slight variation of the same shirt he more or less always wears - a white polo obtained for free at some Linux event.

On Goldman Sachs study:
It's only a matter of time, concluded Goldman Sachs in a study released earlier this year titled "Fear the Penguin," before Linux displaces Unix as the dominant operating system running the world's largest corporate data centers.

On Linus as a leader:
Torvalds is a work-at-home dad with no formal management training ... the 12 years he's presided over an unruly group of volunteer programmers is worthy of study by those who teach leadership inside the world's finest MBA programs ... He jokingly refers to himself as "Linux's hood ornament," and he's anything but an autocrat. His power is based on nothing more than the collective respect of his cohorts.

This geographically dispersed group meets at least once a year to talk about its goals for the operating system. "Linus sets a philosophical direction about how he likes the code to be," says Andrew Morton, who has been working on core components of Linux since 2000. "The rest of us pretty much follow his lead." Torvalds has final say over their decisions, but it's extremely rare for him to overrule any of them

"very, very good - much better than engineers in general - at smoothing out difficulties, building consensus, and building community. He really has only a technical agenda."

Torvalds about himself:
"I was an ugly child." That's how Torvalds chose to open his 2001 autobiography, Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary, written with journalist David Diamond. He describes himself as "a beaverish runt" of a kid and goes out of his way to stress his flaws, as if unaware that the standard practice of the genre is to make oneself sound more grand and important.

Torvalds on why he put linux out:
"My reasons for putting Linux out there were pretty selfish," he says. "I didn't want the headache of trying to deal with parts of the operating system that I saw as the crap work. I wanted help." Besides, he couldn't fathom collecting money for something he viewed as unfinished work that required the contribution of others.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Well - i'm back again. Not going home this time for holidays since its only for 4 days. My exams got over 3 days back. Tomorrow is the last day of my holidays.

Yesterday we went to treking at Dalma Hills. We started off sometime around 7.30 am - a group a 13 guys (lucky no. eh!) - actually 11 guys and 2 gals - in 3 autos. We had some sandwiches and tea at dadu's before leaving since nothing is available on the route. We reached the hills base around 8.15. The climb was great and real steep. Dalma is covered in lush greenery. By far the most interesting part of the trek was in the start, when we had to cross a (kinda) deep stream over which a thin walking path of a bridge had been built. When we got across we found ourselves lost since our guide - srichu bhai suddenly couldn't find out the path to go ahead. Enquiring with a few locals, we were back on the right trail to the top. The climb to the top was exhilarating, and tiring too. We made nothing less than 15-20 pitstops. Lucky that I had my (read: karthik's) digicam around - hence took quite a few good snaps. At the top is a SE railway transmitter station (though according to me it looked shady enough to be an undercover outfit :P). With that is a tata guest house - all it is a house - nothing more - guys in there don't offer anything to tired visitors such as us - seems we have to bring everything along and eat it :-(.

At the extreme top is a beautiful shiv and hanuman temple. We spent quite a bit of time resting our tired bones - only to be entertained by a live hanuman rummanging through our food. Quite an intelligent (and hungry) creature - it first tried to survey us by walking around the boundary wall built there - then was confronted by shashank and had to give up :-)).
It left, not before rummaging through our bags - scaring the girls and tearing apart a new water bottle -drinking the water and eating up some chips we had kept hidden for eating.

Having had enough of such monkey business, we then decided to head down. Here again, our srichu bhai showed his commn. skills - prof. j should be proud of him - he got us tea - it was just brown sweet water, no milk - but atleast something for our hungry stomachs.
On the way down we had quite a few adventures - including neel and sonia sojourn up a rock :D - they came down on only sheshank's orders :D.

The path down was more tiring than the climb up since our toes were getting smashed by the jutting rock. Nevertheless we climbed down in less than two hours while the climb up took close to three. The only thing that made us climb untiringly for so long is jayan bhai's 'just 15 mins' entreat - he should be sent to work for a maggi commercial, he'll do pretty well :-).

Back again - we went to this disgusting place called Shaurya Inn in sakchi - for guys coming to jampot this is one lesson - never go anywhere near the damn place - the food was real bad - their charges atrocious - and a hell for veggies like me - they charged me over 200 bucks for drinking 3 glasses of water - for that's all i could - all else was spoilt :-(.

Back to XL, i slept till dinner time, had dinner and then saw the film boys - didn't have the effect of watching it in the theatre - 3 months back in Chennai - but atleast it was something - awesome movie - worth watching - just for the songs and the freshness :).

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

A rather interesting article on how Steve Jobs is changing the music business


Says he:
"None of this technology that you're talking about's gonna work. We have Ph.D.s here who know the stuff cold, and we don't believe it's possible to protect digital content."

Our position from the beginning has been that eighty percent of the people stealing music online don't really want to be thieves. But that is such a compelling way to get music. It's instant gratification. You don't have to go to the record store; the music's already digitized, so you don't have to rip the CD. It's so compelling that people are willing to become thieves to do it. But to tell them that they should stop being thieves -- without a legal alternative that offers those same benefits -- rings hollow. We said, "We don't see how you convince people to stop being thieves unless you can offer them a carrot -- not just a stick." And the carrot is: We're gonna offer you a better experience . . . and it's only gonna cost you a dollar a song.

And now we've created this music store, which I think is non-trivial to copy. I mean, to say that Microsoft can just decide to copy it, and copy it in six months Ð that's a big statement. It may not be so easy.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Japan is creating a computer-generated goodwill ambassador
- called Sakura Sanae !!! Link below
Geek.com Geek News - Japan creates a computer-generated goodwill ambassador
Found the info on geek.com

Japan has decided to create a computer-generated goodwill ambassador. Japan named the program Sakura Sanae, and decided to give her the appearance of an attractive Japanese woman. Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs apparently wanted to send goodwill ambassadors to many different countries at once. The name Sakura comes from the Japanese word for "cherry blossoms," and her last name comes from ASEAN. Japan's foreign ministry makes the rather odd statement that Sakura "is 21 years old, born in 2003 from a PC," and Sakura will probably make the rounds throughout Asia. She apparently has a large vocabulary in several languages, and she will never suffer from jetlag, culture shock, or poor personal hygiene. The Japanese Embassy in Vietnam has a downloadable animation of Sakura, who is shown walking on water. Sakura appears to be quite popular in Asia, and will proably soon inhabit many embassy websites. Given that diplomatic work is sometimes dangerous, Japan may soon decide to make extensive use of digital goodwill ambassadors.

A photo of her can be found here

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Incidentally, other PKD movies include

1) Blade Runner (1982)
2) Total Recall (1990)
3) Minority Report (2002)
and Paycheck that is under production
While I study for my marketing exam.. the following cover story from wired caught my attention - real interesting - has introduced me to the world of Philip K Dick.

The Metaphysics of Philip K. Dick
Don't know Dick? Here's his philosophy in capsule form. (Warning: May cause anxiety or dizzyness.)
by Erik Davis

Today we are almost bored by the idea that reality is a just a construct - neuroscience, postmodernism, and The Matrix have made sure of that. But Dick remains the supreme mythmaker of the false reality. His 1959 novel, Time Out of Joint, was the original Truman Show, while his 1964 book, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, describes a society that succumbs to permanent hallucination. Faced with such illusions, Dick's characters have to ask, "What is real?" because their lives (and sanity) are on the line. That's why hipster Hollywood loves him: Dick turned metaphysics into a whodunit.

Dick wanted to know how, in a technological society, we can recognize the authentically human. He saw the line between people and machines become hopelessly blurred. So his human characters often behave like cruel robots, while spunky gadgets - like the automatic cabbie in Now Wait for Last Year - can be sources of wisdom and kindness. And in "The Electric Ant," when businessman Garson Poole discovers that he is actually an android, he doesn't despair. Instead, he begins to reprogram himself.

One thing you learn from drug addiction, five marriages, and a visionary imagination is how easily your world can fall apart. Perhaps this was why Dick was obsessed with how things decay. He even invented a word for one of entropy's most ordinary manifestations: "kipple," which he defined as all the useless crap that creeps into our daily lives, like junk mail and gum wrappers and old newspapers. Don't bother fighting it - Dick's First Law of Kipple states that "Kipple drives out nonkipple."

Dick was a garage philosopher, an autodidact who read voraciously in religion and metaphysics. Sometimes his speculations leaked into everyday life. In 1974, undergoing a psychotic and/or mystical break, Dick encountered a cosmic force he later called Valis, which stands for Vast Active Living Intelligence System - a cybernetic God. But keep on your toes: To sneak into our fallen world, Valis must disguise itself as TV ads or trash - or pulpy sci-fi entertainment.

Dick was always pretty paranoid. But when thieves broke into his home in 1971, it sent him over the edge. Soon he came to believe that all political tyrannies were facets of one cosmic oppressor: the Black Iron Prison, a timeless archetype that he associated with the Roman Empire. Dick sometimes thought that history was an illusion and that the Nixon administration's dirty tricks only proved that "The Empire never ended." One wonders what he would think today.

The full article is available(presently ie) at http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/11.12/philip.html

Monday, December 01, 2003

Found an interesting article online

Epitome of the new Wall Street: Will Goldman Sachs end research?

More than any of its peers, Goldman Sachs represents the triumph of technology over tradition on Wall Street. The key player: Lloyd Blankfein, the former commodities trader who heads the fixed-income, currency and commodities division. His minions have consolidated power at the white-shoe firm in part by embracing electronic platforms. Goldman has invested in several platforms -- Primex, Optimark, and Archipelago -- that compete directly with the New York Stock Exchange, highlighting (to many) just how antiquated the auction approach has become. The rise of these tech-crats has radically changed the thinking internally. Some have suggested getting rid of traditional research, which would be a mind-boggling move.