Friday, December 30, 2005

Thursday, December 22, 2005

What is the worth of anything we do?

The worth is in the act. Your worth halts when you surrender the will to change and experience life.

Interesting lines, from a book called Eragon by Christopher Paolini that I'm currently reading. Its a really engrossing read - refreshingly interesting and well written. The book is part one of a trilogy. Surprisingly for a book containing such existential lines, the author is 22 years old and started writing the book when he finished high school.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Kong - King of the Jurassic?

The film is great... till they reach the island. Then I guess Peter Jackson decided he liked Jurassic Park better than King Kong and made a scary collage with Jurassic era characters. The film has great cinematography and stunning levels of detail in animation, but lacks depth in the characters (that the original King Kong had) and is terribly long - somewhere around 3 and a quarter hours. If you want to enjoy the film, go without any high hopes.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Calvin and Hobbes Snow Art Gallery

The Calvin and Hobbes Snow Art Gallery. Positively hilarious!

(via scottcreynolds)

Aaru

The Regal theatre at Colaba plays regional language movies on Sunday mornings. This weekend, it was the turn of the movie 'Aaru'. Its been quite some time since I've seen tamil movies now, so it was really nice to catch one. We ambled into the cinema hall a little late thinking that a tamil movie in Mumbai would be running to a small Tam audience - it was quite a surprise to find the whole hall crowded leaving us with front seats. The startup song and Surya's entrance had the whole hall hooting and whistling :P

Surya and Trisha make a nice pair and the songs by Devi Sri Prasad are good, particularly the startup one. The photography is impressive - shot very slickly in some scenes. The storyline has a nice momentum and keeps moving from one theme to another (or one song to another). If you can make do with the gore, the film is a pretty good one. I must, of course admit, that a big part of the enjoyable experience was due to the gala audience :D

(Review of the film by teakada: Aaru)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Aging Investor

You might become wiser as you age, but not in stock picking - conclusions of a study by two finance profs at the University of Notre Dame. While investors do seem to learn over time, fall in cognitive ability due to aging seems to override the wisdom gained from experience.

Article in the NYTimes: Aging Brings Wisdom, but Not on Investing

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Museum Musings

The INS Vikrant museum has been thrown open to public at the Ballard Pier (Tiger Gate), till the 2nd of December. This is as part of the Navy Day celebrations, which happens on 4th December. I've never been in an air-craft carrier before (who does these days eh), so it was pretty novel. Lots of interesting stuff about India's maritime prowess. It would have been better if there had been a guide to show us around. Curiously, they allow cameras on-board but not mobile phones... wonder why!

The Monetary Museum is located behind the RBI building at Fort, right opposite the entrance of the road leading to the Ballard Pier. The best maintained museum I've seen till date, sporting motion-detecting doors and closed circuit cameras covering a collection that is sure to be a numismatist's delight; and a very well explained display, depicting the origin and development of money. The Indian coin collection is unparalleled - with coins of almost every era explained in great detail. A must visit. Sadly, the open timings are between 9am and 5pm and it's shut down on bank holidays.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Elephantine explorations

TriMurthi Elephanta Caves
The Elephanta caves lie on an island close to the Mumbai harbor. Very similar to the Ajanta and the Ellora, the caves are cut into a hill; needing a slightly exhausting climb to reach. The lengthy jetty overlooks the Trombay Power station and winds like a snake into the sea. The caves are magnificent, but most statues are in a worser state than those at Ellora. The hill which hosts the caves is called the canon hill - due to the huge canon at the top, a relic I believe, of the British era. The climb to the top provides a breathtaking view of the entire jetty and the harbor area around.

A trip to the island takes an hour from the Gateway by boat one-way, so budget at least 4 hours for a visit. The ferry ride takes you all the way across the harbor and affords stunning sights of the setting sun at dusk.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

What a Pandora !

Pandora is just amazing! Its the best collaborative music recommendation/listening software I've come across online till date. Really nice flash interface.

Monday, November 21, 2005

The beaches of Alibaug-Kihim


I took a nice trip this weekend to Alibaug and nearby areas. Alibaug is a dusty, typical Maharastrian village-town. The beach is nothing great (Chowpatty is much better) and sadly dirty. However, it has a great fort a little into the sea and some impressive scenery. Kihim, which is on the way to Alibaug, is much more beautiful and pristine. It also has the calmest sea waters I've seen. The sea-bed is flat till quite a distance, and hence its possible to wade a lot in. Coconut and palm trees line the coastline and the houses look distinctly kerala-like. Overall, its a great place to spend a weekend from Mumbai. The ferry trip to/fro the Gateway and Mandwa is absolutely awesome - particularly at dusk. There is a great breeze, sailboats everywhere, huge ships on the horizon and the view of sunset is breathtaking.

To get there: The ferry from Gateway takes an hour and a half to reach Mandwa Jetty and costs 60 bucks. A half-an-hour bus ride from Mandwa (which comes with the ferry ticket) takes you to Alibaug. However, to get to Kihim, get down the bus at Chondi (on the way from Mandwa) and take a 10 minute rickshaw to the Beach.

More photos here

Dark as a Potter

The Harry Potter series gets darker by the part number and the movies sure seem to reflect that. The Goblet of Fire is by far the darkest HP I've ever seen. They show sunlight grey! - its almost like someone pulled a mask or put a filter on each frame. The way its going, I think they'll soon turn black and white in the next few parts (or maybe just black with a few white outlines, bah). On the positive side, great special effects and the actors are certainly becoming better.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Derivatives on hedge funds

Derivatives on hedge funds: based on a hedge fund, a fund of funds, or a customized, actively managed basket of hedge funds.

The beauty of derivatives is that you can structure one on practically any underlying having an associated risk profile. As the IDD article: Derivatives Markets Swallow Own Tail? says "These days, the derivatives markets are becoming so pervasive that they bring to mind the ancient Greek symbol Uroboros, the snake that swallowed its own tail"

Saturday, November 05, 2005

A trip to Vasai

Taking advantage of a free-day, I decided to do some exploring around Mumbai.

Vasai (or Bassein) is a coastal area adjoining the sea on the North of Mumbai. Vasai Road is two stops before Virar, on the Western line. An auto ride takes you to Vasai village, in which the Vasai fort is located. The fort is vast, covered with foliage and has a beautiful view of the sea but is dilapidated and poorly maintained. The auto fella, a guy by the name Ramu, warned me against wandering inside unless I was in a couple ;-) - so I chose not to stray far.

The Suruchi beach near the fort is pristine and beautiful. Almost undisturbed by visitors, unlike most beaches I've been to, its really great to stand in the crystal clear water and frolic around :D





The area has a very sea-side village feel, it reminded me of Pondicherry and Goa. A nice area to go on a day's picnic. Ramu says there are better beaches further up north, closer to Virar, must go someday...

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Warburg Pincus on India

Some excerpts from the Knowledge@Wharton article on Private Equity Investments in India:

"There may be debate about the pace of reform, but not about its direction. Indian businessmen today very rarely point to government as an obstacle," Pathak says. As for that vaunted Indian bureaucracy, he mentions that Warburg repatriated its profits in 48 hours. It's easy to take money out of India, perhaps even easier than bringing it in, he jests.

One of the biggest changes Pathak says he has noticed has nothing to do with numbers. "There has been a complete change in the confidence level of people in India," he says....There's a swagger in the step of India's business, and the country's government is showing signs it has caught the contagion.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Flock

Testing flockdeveloper preview...

Seems very stable for a dev. preview - good they built it on the mozilla codebase
Nice integration with blogger and del.icio.us.
Slightly crude looking, needs quite a bit of polishing
Am not too sure how much of a value-add it is over firefox.

Business Model 2.0 for Web 2.0

Ruminations of an earlystage-VC on business models for Web 2.0: Web 2.0 Needs Business Model 2.0

Monday, October 17, 2005

Collude to profit

Interesting happenings in the private equity space - collusion in deals: One Word Nobody Dares Speak - Article in the NyTimes.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Cinderella Man

Ron Howard has produced a masterpiece. Stunning camerawork and direction. Music so realistic, one can actually feel the punches falling. Brilliant acting - Renee Zellweger, Russell Crowe and Paul Giametti at their best. Absolute classic.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

carz auf deli

I used to think its only Mumbai which has the mercs, bmws and lexuses... but delhi seems to be beating it hands-down - I've caught a lamborghini, a porsche cayenne and a ferrari already. Mercs seem to have become dime a dozen. What is India getting to I say :P

Thursday, September 29, 2005

FMA on Valuation

FMA on Valuation : Online Archive

A really beautiful compendium of videos and slides on Financial topics from guys like Aswath Damodaran and Stewart Myers.(through FinanceProfessor.com - another beautiful blog)

Oh what a view !

One of the joys of having an office in Nariman Point facing the sea is a breathtaking view of setting Sun. With boats littered across the sea, small outlines of container ships far off, Sun's rays laying a glittering path from the far sea .... its so picturesque.

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Amulet of Samarkand

By Jonathan Stroud. Awesome fantasy book - very creative and hilarious. What a hip djinni - Bartimaeus. Absolutely fit to follow Alladin as a fantasy cartoon series.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

See-sawing markets

Today the markets did a see-saw - a bloodbath shedding 200 points in the first half followed by an almost complete recovery in the second. What crazy markets we have these days.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Two perspectives

... interesting way the IT industry works, the churn and the volatility creates lots of news.

Microsoft - people don't hesitate to jump on it and bash it up on the slightest excuse. Now, Kevin, who works at MS, rebuts allegations that it is past its prime with two posts - Top Ten Reasons Why I Love Microsoft and Enough Already. Interesting to see employees standing up for their company.

And Google - so much of praise in the past and what phenomenal growth expectations in the valuations of its stock; so much potential. And even so, the blogging community has started pointing at a slowly emerging 'dark side'. Dan Gillmor writes in "Google's Hubris, Unbounded": Google's growing arrogance is really something on Google planning to hold a partner forum for bloggers and journalists and prohibiting them from writing about it !

So when does a company really cross over? First IBM, then Microsoft; now Google. And does it really need to happen? should anyone who almost attains an almost commanding presence start to display traits of the dark side. Or is it that they just start getting reviled as the dark side?

Memeorandum

For people (like me :p), who are just overwhelmed by the number of blogs to keep track of everyday - particularly in tech.

Memeorandum (Tech)

Also has a politics part.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Seafarers ho !

One trip not to be missed in Mumbai, as I recently realized, is taking a boat trip off the Gateway. The trip costs 40 bucks and gives an awesome tour of the harbor. Particularly worth taking in the evening after dark, as I did - the harbor is beautifully lit up with huge ships and giant cranes all over - the roller-coaster-type ride, the bobbing bouys, the shipping boats, the glittering Mumbai coastline... its awesome.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Money and Risk

One of the best magazines on personal finance is Outlook Money. Its latest issue has an interesting article on the customization of personal financial services: Your unique nest egg (available for free online!). An interesting point I've begun to realize since I've started working is that structuring and managing personal finance is as interesting an area as corporate finance. And the same principles apply here too, with the added complexity that your emotions come into play (however rational you try to become) in your investment and spending patterns. Just choosing an tax-saving fund to invest in, is an exciting exercise by itself. If you thought the cost of capital is a concept only for companies, just wait till you realize that you could save money by carefully delaying repayments on loans and investing that money in higher income yielding opportunities (as this article rightly points out).

One of the best magazines on (corporate) finance is Risk (it also happens to be one of the least touched magazines in XLRI's library :P). The magazine simply represents the state of the art in finance - it is what slashdot/wired is to the geeks or what MSDN mag is to win-devs. What is unfortunate in finance is that very few people love the field (except for its money) so much as to be its 'hackers'.

Google Hires Vinton Cerf

Google's hired 'the father of the Internet'.

Article from Reuters.

"These people just don't know you can't do that. So they just go out and do it," Cerf said of working with a generation who came of age in the Internet era. "That's the great thing of working with all these new folks."

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Crawford market

... in the continuing explorations of the starship enterprise...of ahem, mumbai.

Crawford market or the Jyothiba Phule market lies close to the VT Station. One of the biggest, most diverse and poorly maintained market-spaces I've ever seen (stinkin' dirty I believe, is the expression). A good place to hunt for bargains, if you want to buy in the bulk (Do not, I repeat do not, go asking for 3 apples like I did... unless you want to get wierd looks :D).

Now another interesting thing in this area is the presence of free reading rooms and public libraries. So badly maintained and dust ridden that one would think twice before setting foot in, they house some of the most amazing collection of books I've ever seen (faithfully locked up always though :P). One such 'artifact' lies next to the Metro cinema; and when I visited, crowded with students who use it as a quiet reading room and by old uncles lazing around reading newspapers. Another of this variety is the Town Hall Library - an impressive monument, these days under renovation and whitewash (can you believe it has the complete harry potter series ! :P)

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Attention deficit strategy

Concepts of media 2.0 have put the spotlight on attention as a limiting factor or resource. One point usually unnoticed by us students of strategy is that dealing with attention-deficitness is the basis of strategy. Consider, why we strategize: The primary reason is that managerial attention is a valuable limited resource and it needs to be focussed on areas where its effect is the highest. Porter, in his seminal article in HBR - 'What is Strategy' - defines the essence of strategy as 'deciding what NOT to do'. Now note that he does not define strategy as deciding what to do - by defining strategy as the act of ignoring areas which are not important, Porter highlights the importance of focus - the need to concentrate attention on areas that matter.

Most of us totally ignore (or are unaware) of the fact that attention is a scarce resource in our everyday life too. While we could pursue almost everything we are saddled with, what we choose to do defines us.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

State of Fear

Standard Michael Crichton - good pace throughout. Nice contrarian handling of a subject on which there is such a single viewpoint in the public. Crichton seems to have done good research for it - almost Michael Moore level in criticizing the media for the one side view of global warming. However, gets slightly wierd towards the end with all the cannibalism stuff.

Explorations ho !

Exploring Mumbai continued…. The intrepid traveler - Me :p - went to Mani Bhavan (Gandhiji's home in Mumbai) this weekend. It’s a dilapidated structure (under renovation) at Chowpatty (for the MBA guys who've done their summers in Mumbai, its close to the Wilson College). A memorial to the Mahatma, it chronicles his life though pictures, writings, quotations, puppetry and a display of his belongings. The only visitors to the place when I went were foreigners - a French lady and a German couple - we Indians I guess, no longer find time to visit such places :|. Interestingly too, no shopkeeper or taxi-walla in the area knew where the place was (except the one through whom I finally found the place). I do hope the renovation improves the state of the place… its presently in a sorry shape. An interesting quote I read there:

"The seeker after truth should be humbler than the dust. Only then, and not until then, will he have a glimpse of the truth"

Then went to the Iskon temple nearby… quite a nice place - people chanting 'Hare Rama Hare Krishna' with moving devotion and melody.

The Babulnath temple (to Lord Shiva) is located closeby. Situated on a hillock, the temple was completely crowded in the evening, when I went. Decorated with flowers and filled with chants, the temple has a colorful atmosphere.

Iqbal

Nice movie. Some really great acting, beautiful music and nice humor. And of course, Naseeruddin Shah at his classic best.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Splogging

Splogging (a.ka. spam-blogging) seems to be becoming such a painful issue. Had to enable word verification to stop the crap. Thanks to Rashmi Bansal for pointing it out - I was really puzzled by the phenomenon.

Splog Reporter: A site to report and monitor splogs.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The future of computer science grads

The need for a multi-disciplinary focus for computing grads - An article from the NyTimes: A Techie, Absolutely, and More. A potent indication of the way the field of computer science is likely to head in India too.

Monday, August 22, 2005

My Web 2.0

Social Search !! If they can pull this off, it would become the next generation of recommender systems. The research challenges, though, are phenomenal. If they can get a significant community on-board and get a decent enough implementation in place, Yahoo! would surely have pulled off a big one.

Better workplaces

One of the 'key takeaways' (so to say :P) from freakonomics is the concept of incentives guiding most of human choices. Levitt divides incentives into three types - economic, social and moral.

Now there's this article in the recent Sunday Times here with A.M.Naik - Chairman and MD of L&T - lamenting the fact that its losing most of its engineers to the IT industry, and predicting a sad future for India's infrastructure setup if this trend continues. But just consider why? the economic incentives - India's IT sector pays its engineers much higher and has better work conditions than what the old economy companies can match, at the same level - plus add the perks of the periodic international travel; the social incentives - working in the IT sector is 'hip' - it’s a source of pride for people today to say they are working in an infy or a tcs, leave alone an MS or an Oracle (just look at the number of parents who brag about their wards working an IT company vs those whose work in old-economy firms). It has simply become a socio-cultural aspiration to work in IT. Just appealing to the youth on a moral ground won't work as everyone seems to have gotten used to the fact that IT is adding to India's economy - after-all its India's poster child for our new-found growth. What old-economy majors need to do to attract and retain the best of talent is to provide better economic and social incentives to youth as they enter the work-pool. This translates to not just paying more, but projecting a more 'cooler' image of the workplace. A very challenging mandate, I agree. We certainly live in interesting times :D

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Finding Neverland

Oka level movie. Impressive acting, well directed and a moving storyline. I guess its one of the best movies I've seen in quite some time now.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Freakonomics

Interesting book, must say. Very creative use of data to come up with some interesting results. But like it says in the prologue, its kinda unstructured, leaving one wondering..."huh.. so?".

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Friday, August 12, 2005

A meet at the airport

This post is for iiitians... Well, I was stuck at Mumbai airport at the beginning of this month (when it had rained like hell here), on my way home. An AirIndia flight had skidded off the runway while I was waiting for takeoff of my flight and it was raining pretty badly with the result that we had to stay back at the airport for 4 hours. I met Prof. Kamal - he had just landed in from Amsterdam, back from a paper presentation. Said he'd been to Japan and quite a few of other places and said he seemed to be meeting iiit guys at every airport. Seems to have grown a lot more white-haired from what I remembered of him back at iiit. I've never seen a professor as excited with a subject as he was while he taught us data mining.

Have a nice long weekend ppl :D

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Should shareholders matter more than employees ?

This is one of the things that puzzles me the most - that companies consider shareholder value more important than employee interests. Should a company consider exceeding the cost of capital given to it more important that the welfare of the employees who labor for it? Who is more important? Infact, this was one of the first questions I ever asked Prof. Mohanty... he just by-passed it saying shareholder value maximization is an assumption made in modern finance. I still haven't found the answer and continue to be puzzled by it. I guess at some stage these things lead to questioning the very nature of capitalistic thought now. I was pleasantly surprised when I came across this blog post (on bubblegeneration - through thyagi) on Sumantra Ghoshal's later work researching this very question.

Article: Bad Management Theories

Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Interpreter

stellar cast: Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn, with some great acting. I liked it, quite an interesting thriller - it has a slight desmond bagley feel to it, thought the ending feels odd. But very watchable.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Harvard law of Animal Behavior

Came across some really amusing stuff...

The Harvard Law of Animal Behavior: "under carefully controlled experimental circumstances, an animal will behave as it damned well pleases"

ha ha ha ...

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The day Mumbai stood still

… Quite a melodramatic title eh :P. But I guess it takes a heavy rain to stop Mumbai. And stop, it definitely did. People who left at 3pm yesterday haven't yet reached home - stuck in traffic! North Mumbai seems to be flooded with Powai lake overflowing - areas with waist-deep water in most places I hear. People are stuck all over the place - many putting up in banks, temples and hotels (good samaritans do exist eh). Trains down. Most people stayed back in office in South Mumbai here and haven't found a way of getting back yet. Mobile phone networks are functioning erratically. The Net seems to functioning terribly slowly (wasn't it designed to withstand a nuclear attack? wonder what service levels it would work at then :P). Only good thing seems to be tarana and glen on fm 92.5 coming day-long :D

Rainin like crazy

Trains stopped, all roads in jam, all buses overloaded, people stuck in office unable to get home ... got my first view of the infamous mumbai rains :D

Widgets - (Kon) fabulous

After acquiring Konfabulator Yahoo's released it as free - Yahoo! Widgets. Its really cool stuff what with all widgets having a glazy mac feel. Two really good widgets: systemDashboard (Time) - a digital clock and TheWeather - a great weather widget, there are thunderstorms going on here and the visualization is just awesome!

Can anyone beat Alistair Maclean?

… I think not. He was simply the master of thriller storywriting. Its been a long time since my schooldays when I read one of his; I picked up one of his by chance - "Circus" - and re-read it; and it still remains unputdownable. The thrill of not knowing what comes next, the sudden twists and turns, the sense of adventure that kept me turning one page after another and an unforgettable ending - I've read lots and lots of novels since I supposedly "graduated" from his series, but an Alistair Maclean beats everything I've ever read hands-down.

.. now coming to think of it.. i also read a wodehouse - now a wodehouse and a maclean is a wonderful combination for a night :P

... and its raining cats and dogs in mumbai - dark as night at 4pm.

Monday, July 25, 2005

The hanging gardens

… at Malabar hills. A nice park with lots of greenery and an awesome (stunning) view of the whole marine drive promenade. Only downside seems to be (for those in the know :P ) the Osho-type atmosphere prevailing...

The Prince of Wales Museum

…aka the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya… now just think what you'd call it :D - Its across the road from the Regal theatre at Colaba. Nice museum, imposing fa├žade (though you'll often miss it because of the trees), a wide collection (in fact, I'd consider this second only to hyderabad's Salarjung museum). The collection from Indus valley times and the porcelain from China is pretty good. Its also got a new section with some of the best lighting and wood paneling I've ever seen in a museum. I only wish they had more places where you could sit down and rest and that there were cheaper guides around the place. Overall, a good place to visit if you (like me) have nothing better to do on a Sunday and have an FM radio or a walkman at hand.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Mind over machines

...they've detected small but "statistically significant" signs that minds may be able to interact with machines. !

Article in Wired: Mind May Affect Machines

And moongazing on google: Google Moon (via slashdot)

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Feynman's Rainbow

Read this book called Feynman's Rainbow: A Search for Beauty in Physics and in Life by Leonard Mlodinow. Nice book, a biographical account of Feynman by a fellow caltech post-doc. Feynman apparently took great pride in doing something his way and would never be bothered by how the world viewed it. His personality however ensured that his genius was never viewed with a tinge of eccentricity.

Friday, July 15, 2005

structured hedge fund products

...a derivative on an underlying group of hedge funds or hedge fund indices... interesting :).

Article: Hedge-fund industry has an extra layer of leverage

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Nice :D

Tam Brahm Blues

Portable Computing

In an earlier post, I had mentioned MoSoSo. Now updates on a seminar on 'The future of portable computing' held at IBM Almaden Research. Article in Bayosphere (through Dan Gillmor's blog)

I found some apps mentioned really cool: Dodgeball/Google, Plazes, Jambo.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Freedom

Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose
--- Janis Joplin

how true, how true.

The Music Genome Project

My bachelor's dissertation was on Music Recommendation. The real problem with music recommendation is that it is very difficult to definitely identify what is it that an individual likes about a particular piece of music - the individual himself is often not sure.

Now a project called The Music Genome Project attempts to take a crack at it by collecting "the most sophisticated taxonomy of musical information ever collected on this scale"

An article in Slate: http://slate.msn.com/id/2121998/fr/rss/

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Another LTCM in the making ?

... hedge funds have again started to move into risky territory, employing high amounts of leverage. But a more worrying point, they are now principal participants in major financial markets. Any instability could potentially threaten the system.

Recent article in the NYTimes: Could a Few Hedge Funds Spoil the Party?. (free regn. reqd.)

"...The crowding effect is visible in some markets, particularly fixed income and convertible arbitrage, which hedge funds have come to dominate. In May, in its latest report on global financial security, the International Monetary Fund found that hedge funds might account for 80 to 90 percent of all participants in those markets."

Monday, July 04, 2005

MoSoSo

.. stands for Mobile Social Software. Came across this term while going through a presentation in the archives of the Social Computing Symposium 2005 by MS-Research. Apparently, MSR thinks MoSoSo is the next big thing. Quite a few interesting presentations in the symposium.

Wikipedia on MoSoSo.
Wired on MoSoSo.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Is a Top-Down disruption disruptive ?

... in the traditional (christensen) sense I mean. My example in the earlier post had been countered by thiyagi. So I'm investigating it further.

To use christensen's three tests for disruptiveness:
1. Does the innovation target customers who in the past haven’t been able to “do it themselves” for lack of money or skills?
- in a top-down disruption I guess it is not the lack of money or skills which matter, but the fact that the market is so niche/high-end that it is ignored by incumbents.

2. Is the innovation aimed at customers who will welcome a simpler product?
- in a top-down disruption, is it a simpler product we are looking at? It is a product targeted at specific needs. I'm not sure whether the "simple" description would apply here. IPod - simple ?

3. Will the innovation help customers do more easily and effectively what they are already trying to do?
- maybe the top-down disruption does follow this test.

So, I'm not sure that the top-down disruption that Nicholas Carr postulates follows the traditional disruption tests of Christensen. Christensen, for one, was only looking at one form of disruption - the bottom-up type; maybe the tests don't encompass a top-down one ??

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Top-Down disruptive innovations

Clayton Christensen introduced to us the concept of bottom-up disruptions which fundamentally change industries and make incumbents obsolete. Now Nicholas Carr writes a beautiful article: Top-Down Disruption in strategy+business on top-down disruptive innovations which originate as a niche high-end product/service in an industry and ride the cost-curve to slowly become mass market, in process changing their industry disruptively.

Come to think of it, the laptop is one such product. Originally targetting niche, high-end customers who wanted portability, today its prices have fallen to such an extent that its almost mass market.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Momentary delights

… walking along marine drive with the breeze on my face and a light drizzle, the songs and wit on fm, the roaring waves, the flashy cars whizzing by, the glittering sea-front … on one side mumbai runs forever at a relentless pace, a city that never sleeps … but for those who can slow down to savor the moment, there is so much beauty to behold

Thursday, June 23, 2005

because technology is everyone's business

Supernova 2005: because technology is everyone's business.

Some interesting stuff from Knowledge@Wharton: What does the New Internet mean for Business ?

The world of MIT

MIT World is a free and open (:D) site that archives videos of talks held at MIT - by Nobel Prize winners, business gurus and lots of other big guys.

Found it through Dave Winer's blog post calling for a podcast support. I strongly agree - podcasts are just awesome, download during the day and watch videos of events when you are free at night. Would be a great addition to MITWorld.

Monday, June 13, 2005

10

That's the average number of Mercs I notice per day in mumbai. In any other city I'd be drooling on darshan of one once in a while. Funny place this is. I guess the count would be around 3 for the BMW and Lexus. And a porshe or a beetle is I guess quite easy to catch if you take a walk down Marine drive. Of course, for people who stand in long lines to get on a lift I guess its all pretty normal :P

Monday, May 30, 2005

I am uplifted!

First time I've been in a lift in which my ears pop due to the speed of descent. Feels like I'm landing in an aircraft. Interesting lifts these workplaces have :D.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

May the force be with you

Star Wars. EP-3. Revenge of the Sith.
To say I'm impressed is an understatement.

For one, the effects are breathtaking and they have an immersive computer game feel with splendid level of detail.

It’s also probably the best of the three prequels and does justice to the original series. For Star Wars aficionados like me, its certainly nostalgic. Particularly the ending; the arrival of luke and leia, the Darth Vader breath, the final scene showing the setting of two Suns, the sets in latter half resembling the original series. I'm surely going to miss the ending of saga - probably the best known movie science fiction series ever made.

The theatres should run the original series as well… it'll certainly help build the momentum - I'd certainly love to watch the original series again after seeing EP3.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Bschool Salary Maya

A well written post by Prof. Madhukar Shukla on Bschool salaries, a must read. The Maya of B-School Salary

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Positions 2005

people having access to Gartner should have a look at Gartner's Positions on the 5 Hottest IT Topics and Trends in 2005. One particlar part about Global Sourcing is pretty interesting. Focussing almost completely on India, it predicts with an 80% probability that by 2010, 30 percent of professional IT jobs will shift to emerging markets and that India is likely to maintain its current lead in global sourcing of IT.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Mumbai

Mumbai is overwhelming... ppl seem to be walking fast all the time towards some imaginary goal, i guess its the best city to get lost in.

Marine drive is awesome, particularly at night. The sunset is noteworthy for its beauty.

Have seen more mercs here than i've ever seen in my life before. Saw two porches. Ppl get into pseude cars from the club and drive just to cross over to their home on the other side of the street. Cost of living is sky high.

One of the most impressive things about Accenture is the use of IT, the systems are state of the art and ppl really tech-savvy.

Been playing with Infopath 2003, seems like a really useful tool, second only to OneNote2003.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Infy in Wired 40

Wow! Way too cool. Infy figures as #9 in the Wired 40, the list of 40 global leaders in technology and innovation.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Time's Eye

Nice book I picked up from the british council lib here; the concept in particular is awesome. SF lovers like me will surely like it. Starts off damn well, but gets lost in a lot of verbiage in the middle and the ending is a wish-wash. But still, neatly written - the imagination is great. Plus the smattering of general relativity and string theory makes a nice read. Written by two stalwarts of the SF field - Arthur Clarke and Stephen Baxter.

Amazon link: Time's Eye

In other totally arbit things, the British Council Lib in Chennai is an nice one - an ok collection of books and magazines, but an impressive collection of dvds and a good ambience. Chennai's been clowdy the past few days, but it never seems to rain :(

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

arbit posts

yeah... as the title says...

what is the most beautiful thing to see in chennai ?
the beach, in the evenings... particularly after a blistering hot day, the experience of walking along the beach with the breeze blowing and the spray on your face is out of the world; the besant nagar and other beaches further downstream are beautiful and relatively unspoilt.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

boredom et absolutem

the most boring of times, this pre-job holidays are... absolutely nothing to do (i guess sidin and sudheer seem to concur). The only worthwhile thing on tv seems to be the travel and living channel of discovery, have seen half the world on it :P. Chennai is sweltry hot. Had been down south-TN a couple of days back, the bus stands of TN are terrible - dirty and dusty, but the buses rock - saw quite a few films :D

Friday, April 01, 2005

Amongst other things ...

Sun's blogging policy: Sun Policy on Public Discourse.

In other things, I'm dismantling my comp in a few minutes from now... XLRI convocation is on the 3rd of April, evening 5.30 pm. Will be heading home soon after that. Adieu XL.

Some very nice blogs I came across: Kiruba - dunno why I didn't come across this blog before ! considering its been named the best Indiblog. IndianMyths - Indian myths rehashed - God-level hilarious :D.

Some very good movies watched recently: North by Northwest - awesome Hitchcock thriller, 10 things i hate about you - nice movie, particularly the letters-to-cleo performance, Vanilla Sky - damn deep movie, Robots - nice movie, particularly for those who enjoy animated movies, Ray - an absolute epic.

Sikkim Diary

Dani's posted a nice writeup on our trip to Gangtok with the awesome pics.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Ajax: The secret behind google's user-interface ease

Ajax or Asynchronous Javascript+XML is an emerging way of web application development. Used by Google Suggest, Google Maps, Gmail and a lot of recent and upcoming google applications, Ajax represents the next generation of web application models which emphasize ease of use rather than possible computational complexity. Ajax is actually a very simple change in the way web development occurs - instead of sending data back to the server with every user interface event, Ajax loads a javascript engine with the browser webpage with handles most simple user queries and events; only when the engine is unable to process the request does it contact the server. This way it speeds up user interactivity enormously. The beauty in the model is the paradigm shift in the thinking involved in web application development; developers can now program interactive content on the web browser while flexibly retaining complex elements at the server or pre-computing before a likely user event.

For more info: Ajax: A New Approach to Web Applications

The Top 100 Gadgets of All Time

Mobile PC - Features: The Top 100 Gadgets of All Time

Amazing Amaztype

Amaztype is really amazing. Its a tool to search amazon - using retrieved search results to construct an image of the search name using the pictures of the book covers! When you click on a particular book cover it gives detailed info on that book - one hell of an innovative way at searching amazon, an awesome timepass :P. I used it to search for books of one of my favorite business authors - Rosabeth Moss Kanter:



The earlier post shows a second level view. Directed to this site by The Gemini

Amazing Amaztype

Friday, March 25, 2005

Valuing art

The cutting edge of fund management: art as a commodity. Latest wired article: Paint by Numbers

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

moody

the rains have bought respite to the blistering summer heat here at jamshedpur... the smell of first rains, ah ! how wonderful...

listening to..
ajeeb dasthan hai yeh, kahaan shuru kahaan katham
yeh manzilen hein kaun si, na woh samajh sakeh na hum

how appropriate :P

Monday, March 21, 2005

Life at 13600 ft

What is the probability you'll meet an xler at 13,600 ft in an cottage up the snow covered hills ? Very high it seems !

Our trip to Gangtok the last 10 days was an experience to treasure - can never forget the snow covered yumthang valley, the freezing waters across which we ran barefoot :P, the yaks, the frozen changu lake, eating hot pakodas at sub-zero temperatures near the baba's mandir, the uti atm at 13200 ft, the picturesque mountains, the monastries, river rafting in the tista across the rapids, swimming in the freezing water.... and of course, running into the other xl group in a god-forsaken cottage up a frozen lake !

Gangtok is a beautiful place, an absolute paradise on earth.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Xler in the news: Ravi Mehrotra

XL alumnus making news: Ravi Mehrotra, Head - Franklin Templeton Investments: Temple raider - The Economic Times

Friday, February 18, 2005

The end of technical analysis ?

Citigroup has eliminated its entire technical analysis team and apparently has no plans to replace them. Is this the beginning of the end of technical analysis ?

Article on theStreet.com: Citigroup Eliminates Stock Technical Analysis Group

Boldly walking as all humans have done before

Slashdot article: Looks like the days of C3PO are coming - scientists have just mastered the feat of getting robots to walk like humans, probably the hardest of feats. Part of the enthusiasm in furthering AI and robotics is our quest for self-discovery.

Artice on livescience: New Robots Walk Like Humans

Toddler:

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The last day of classes

Tomorrow (err... today) is the last day of academic classes at xlri ! Can't believe its almost two years since I landed up at this place :D

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn win the Turing

Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn, the fathers of the TCP/IP protocol (and probably the internet ??) have won the 2004 A.M.Turing Award given by the ACM, considered to be the Nobel Prize in Computing.

Article in the NewYorkTimes: Laurels for Giving the Internet Its Language

Saturday, February 12, 2005

R.I.P Microsoft ?

A very interesting and controversial article seems to have come up on slashdot: Silicon Insider: R.I.P Microsoft. Written by a veteran Silicon Valley Journalist, Michael Malone, the article muses on whether MS is on the verge of a collapse!. Though shocking and improbable at the very least, the tech industry is one place where its almost impossible to predict anything.

Some very interesting tips in the article on how to assess the potential of tech companies - for an enterpreneurial company: "...one of the tools I'm best known for is Folding Table Theory of Start-Ups. It says that when you walk into a new entrepreneurial company and you see a nice lobby and expensive office furniture, that company has its priorities screwed up -- either it is more interested in comfort than success or it is over-capitalized and lazy -- and it will never make it.

By comparison, when you see the start-up team working at folding tables or old army surplus desks, you know that it is properly focused both on getting the job done and financial discipline -- and has a good chance of being a winner. That's what I saw at the beginning of eBay (and Siebel, Tivo, Electronic Arts, Atari and a host of other great companies)"

On Microsoft and similar behemoths - "...Great, healthy companies not only dominate the market, but share of mind. Look at Apple these days. But when was the last time you thought about Microsoft, except in frustration or anger? The company just announced a powerful new search engine, designed to take on Google -- but did anybody notice? Meanwhile, open systems world -- created largely in response to Microsoft's heavy-handed hegemony -- is slowly carving away market share from Gates & Co.: Linux and Firefox hold the world's imagination these days, not Windows and Explorer. The only thing Microsoft seems busy at these days is patching and plugging holes."

Interesting about the kind of vibes that veteran people seem to look for in a company - some time back I attended an equity research contest at spjain - the jury was pretty impressive, chief investment officers of a lot of big funds. Their advice to us was telling - they told us that more than all the financial FCF valuation and the monte-carlo simulations, it is the softer aspects, the culture of the firm, the management team and a feel of the work the company is doing that determine the true value of a firm.

The above hints that Malone says he looks for are interestingly similar.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Felicity 2005

Felicity 2005 seems to be rocking Hyd ! Article in The Hindu: Rock rules

Monday, February 07, 2005

The new kings of capitalism

Wonder how many kings capitalism will have :P - one seems to be turning up almost every day, these finance journalists have an obsession with the grandiose - they trumpet anything and everything that they can lay their hands on as the next kingy thing. But still, a beautiful article on private equity in the Economist: The new kings of capitalism

The Drexel Alumni

Many of the alumni of Drexel Burnham Lambert today hold top positions across Wall Street. A nice article in the New York times about how the alumni still have fond memories of the time when they used to shake up the financial world: The Drexel Diaspora

Most of the junior bankers chose Drexel over other top-flight banks. They picked it because they thought they could learn more, advance faster, make more money and - corny as it sounds, even on Wall Street - become part of history.

Many former Drexel employees speak glowingly of Mr. Milken. "He's so brilliant, it's like getting near the sun," Mr. Wagner said.

"There's a difference between being very competitive and can-do, and winning at all costs, all costs is costly."

Friday, February 04, 2005

Global IT industry structure

The computers hardware and software market is worth $1 trillion, the telecom market is worth $1.3 trillion and electronic goods market is worth $300 billion dollars.

Article based on a talk by Prof. Nik Dholakia at XL: 'India poses a nebulous threat to US'

India's IT Industry to cross 1 lakh crore in 2004-05

India's IT industry is likely to exceed 1 lakh crore (approx $28.3 bn) in turnover in 2004-05. The ITes segment will grow at approx 20% (up from 18%), the IT services and software segment will grow at 58.8% (down from 59.3%) and hardware at 21.2% (down from 22.4%). Presently the ITes and the ITS segments contribute over 78% of the turnover. Further, increasing from the present 3.5% contribution to the GDP, IT will contribute over 4% of GDP in 2004-05 fiscal.

Article in the Hindustan Times: IT industry to cross Rs 1 lakh cr in 2004-05

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Friday, January 28, 2005

The Microsoft Memo

The best piece of science fiction I've seen in a long long time - "The Microsoft Memo" - Wired Feb 2005 issue.

Just see the heading - "Bill Gates hires open source icon Linus Torvalds? That was just the beginning of Redmond's hybrid strategy to face the free software age...", well thought out and written stuff.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Geeks in Management

A very interesting Slashdot thread on how geeks should fare in Management: Geeks in Management?.

Some responses that the thread got:
I) # You are NO LONGER a peer. Do not act as such, it will undermine your ability to manage
# Protect your people. I try to take the PM view I learned at IBM. I try to shield them from BS so they can focus. _I_ am the "bad cop" to outsiders who are out of line. I NEVER ask my folks to take that role.
# Listen to your folks, discipline is ALWAYS a secondary (or later) tactic for addressing issues. I have listened to a lot of screaming from my team. If they're pissed, they barge in my office and let loose. They're not disrespectful, they're frustrated, angry, and want someone to listen and help. After they're done, we figure something out. I'd rather they yell in my office than at some jackass outside the group.
# Honesty. Whether it's reviews, promotions, good, bad, whatever - be honest. Even if it's - I can't say right now.
# Your tech skills will be gone soon. You'll have exposure, but at a high level. I finally had to give up on the hands-on tech stuff. It's not easy, but it's the way it is
# Have a spine with upper mgmt. This doesn't mean shoot your mouth off, but be ready and able to say "no" in a firm but calm manner and help them "make better decisions" when appropriate. Holding my ground and remaining calm has helped me a LOT. You will be granted precieved authority beyond your title which can make life easier.
# Look long term and don't get shaken my short term events. Your team will react in a similar manner to your reaction to news (merger, layoffs, uppermgmt change, etc).
# ALWAYS remember - Karma is easier lost than gained.
# Listen to older SUCCESSFUL managers who offer advice


II) The best manager is the one that recognizes accomplishment, delegates, and rewards. Micromanagement is a trap many fall into - so remember what it is all about: facilitating people who work under you to feel empowered, and be empowered to do the work. The day you complain some guy is always 5 minutes late, when he is twice as productive as the guy next to him, is the day you need a smack upside the head.

III) As a manager, you cannot succeed without your employees succeeding. Any of their major accomplishments are shared with you inherently...broadcast these accomplishments and sing their praises to the masses. Recognition is a great incentive, and when your employees get credit for something, YOU get credit as a good manager.

When they do something wrong, defend them to the hilt...even if it was something stupid. Then behind closed doors let them have it and make it clear that you put your butt on the line for them. Be willing to take a personal hit on their behalf...NEVER sell them out.

Realize that to be first, you must be last. You are there to facilitate their performance as someone who works for them.

For cryin' out loud...never micromanage anything. All employees are different, but for the most part you can measure them by results and not stupid timeclock things, etc.

And I stress that all people are motivated by different things. Money, recognition, who and what they work with....learn and listen. If you reverse engineer their motivation you have very important information in your hands.

Be very careful of minority groups--and no I don't mean the legal minority groups--whoever the smallest group is in your team be they white male or indian female. The smallest subgroup tends to fight amongst themselves, or unite to destroy the rest of the group. Watch those situations carefully.

Monday, January 24, 2005

China on a roll

China seems to be on a roll - Its economy grew 9.5% ! in 2004, the fastest in the last 8 years. Its GDP now touches $1.6 trillion - this despite the fact that it is trying hard to slow down its growth to prevent over-heating its economy. And hear this - personal disposable income rose 7.7% in urban areas and 6.8% in rural areas, the fastest since 1997 - we are witnessing the emergence of a new super-power.

For all India might talk about having a decade's lead over China in software et. al., we should not underestimate determination - it is the basis for all achievement. I would not be surprised if they match us soon in the IT field too, after all, who could have predicted man would ever set foot on the moon - there is one thing no forecasting method can ever predict or account for - the determination of man.

Article in Bloomberg.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Creating a boundaryless world

We have this course called "international business economics" taken by an alumni of ours - Sankaran P. Raghunathan (man - this prof is awesomely good). Quite a few interesting papers to read as part of that - one particular author, Kenichi Ohmae is really cool, almost porter level. As Indian companies starting becoming more global, there are very interesting lessons to learn from existing global corporations. For one, globalization is, in effect, about becoming more local - in the sense that the ultimate "nirvana" (as prof. sankaran likes to call it) is ultimately about becoming a "local" player in every geography that a company operates. Truly global corporations have become so much a part of the different countries in which they have "homes", that they almost behave like local companies. Secondly, there are three aspects to becoming "global" - the 3 O's - operations (having a global setup), orientation (thinking globally) and ownership (being owned by the ppl in the geographies they inhabit). Most existing global corporates have already gone through multiple stages as they progress towards the truly global "nirvana". Indian companies need to learn from this - instead of going through the whole painful process, it is essential that Indian corporates realize where they are headed and take steps accordingly - else they shall be needlessly re-creating history.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Happy Pongal !!

Wish you all a very happy Pongal !


The ezhunellipu ceremony as part of Thrissur Pooram at the Bhagavathy temple in Varakkara. Source: The Hindu, Jan 14th

What i can not create I do not understand

Wired article on synthetic biology: Wired 13.01: Life, Reinvented - a cool intro to the emerging world of synthetic biology... something that could become the IT industry of the future.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Citigroup at top of league tables

Citigroup seems to have ended up as the top equity and bond underwriter for the year 2004. Interestingly, banks with a commercial franchise like Citigroup and JPMorgan seem to have gained over purely investment banking firms like Goldman Sachs or CSFB. JPMorgan arranged the maximum US mergers while Citi seems to become the top junk-bond underwriter displacing csfb from the top spot after 11 years.
Article in yahoo finance: Citigroup is top underwriter for 2004

I had studied JPM while doing a project on its merger with BankOne in the MACR course - BankOne's CEO Jamie Dimon (who will shortly become the ceo of JPM) was once Sam Weill's protege and was tipped to become CEO after him. Instead in the battle for the top spot he lost out to Chuck Prince (the present CEO of Citi). So he joined BankOne and turned it around. Now having merged it with JPM he gets to head the second biggest bank after Citi in the US. Interestingly, his progress mirrors the career of Sam Weill himself - once tipped to become top man at citibank, he was outsted in the leadership battle; he then went on to head Travellers - which he turned around and then he merged it with citibank forming Citigroup - subsequently going on to head the combined entity.

AP to build a new broadband network

Andhra Pradesh is spending Rs.400 crores to build a new broadband network interconnecting all districts of the state with a 10Gbps backbone. To be built by a consortium of 6 companies, the project is expected to be completed within 2 years and is expected to provide cheap broadband connectivity to citizens and boost e-governance initiatives in the state. Looks like the ball which CBN set in motion is gathering momentum.

Article in the MIT Technology Review