Mumbai Bloggers meet today, 6pm – Bandra (W)

Akshay, or lecercle as I knew him from Flickr before, has called for a bloggers meet today tuesday 31st January 6pm! I am excited & I hope to make it there. Will be slightly delayed but will try my best :) The destination :

Cafe Coffee Day

Shop No. 14/15, Gagangiri Premises Building, Ground Floor,
Carter Road
Bandra WEST, Mumbai-52

I don’t know the route but I should be able to find it thanks to this lovely link from Akshay again – Mumbai Navigator – check it out, its awesome! I found out I can travel from my house to workplace by Bus route 70!! Nice job IITB folks :-) Now wouldn’t it be a lot easy to just overlay that onto the map of bombay and get a rough visual overlook? something like a google maps! Rather – overlay it on top of a WAP browser i.e mobile and bang! .. wow thats some service I would pay for!!
Other folks who have given links to spread the word:

Dina Mehta (whom i met at Digital Summit!)
Indsight
Saket
(name thru Trivial Matters)
DesiPundit

Meet called by Scott, Winksite and of course do look at the metrobloggin Mumbai website. I think Mumbai or Bombay I still call it is the 40th metro on the list! folks, correct me if I am wrong. Lets get more pro-active and put Bombay on the bloggin map. And yeah, if possible, a Indian BloggerCon !! next year this time?
ps: most of the info from Akshay’s site Trivial Matters. He does a lovely photo documentary type bloggin of mumbai! I am sure, he should try for a national geographic position or something. Atleast, he is developing a lovely portfolio!

And lastly, I took this photo at the Digital Summit – can you guess who are sitting there??

IMG_4555.JPG

Its Dina Mehta with her laptop (onto the right) and Kiruba (left) – the topmost A-list blogger in India??! Here is a list of top 100 India Bloggers for your help if you want to digg more! Anyway, I didn’t realise that it was kiruba when i clicked. I was just taking a snap of Dina (live blogging here in this photo) whom I had met the day before.

And yeah, I of course had the pleasure of meeting Kiruba the next day in my office thanks to Veer – Mobilepundit and Rajesh – Emergic (and I hope to be meeting Atanu soon too!). Kiruba and I exchanged ideas of making a podcast – it has not materialised yet but any takers kindly join the bandwagon :-) (comment to this post).

Enough of blabbering … hope to meet you all there. I shall be to grab a cappuchino around 6:30 to 7pm. Anyway do call me at 9867-980887 if you wanna have a chat anytime. Hope to see ya all. Sayonara for the night!!!

Live sports 24by7!

This week has been simply amazing in terms of “live” sports. All the TV networks in India have done an amazing J.O.B!! Literally one could watch L.I.V.E at almost all hours of the day and night! And the variety … wow don’t ask! Unlike the US its not just football, basketball or baseball!! And yeah, I am talking of content from all over the world!
Cricket:
early morning (via ESPN courtesy channel 9)- live ODIs in Australia of the tri-series between South Africa, SriLanka and Australia
late morning to evening (Ten sports) – live Test Match: India vs Pakistan

Tennis:
Grand Slam: Australian Open (Star Sports)
Some amazing LIVE matches, to name a few:

  • Baghdatis vs Nalbadian
  • Mens doubles Final – unfortuantely Paes and his partner lost!
  • Mixed doubles Final – Bhupathi and Hingis won!! yupee!

Of course, Federer won today! He one level above everybody currently. But it was nice to see some competitive matches! Unfortunate that Mauresmo couldn’t really get the satisfaction of beating her opponents in the semis and final. But hey, she was all prepared.

Hockey:
Live hockey league on ESPN

Soccer : Live European and English Premier league late night on ESPN

Given that I am working now, I was able to enjoy live matches only on Thursday, Saturday and Today!! But hey that was cool. Just watching the highlights at the end of the day was more than satisfying.

Checking the content out on Indian TV in general, I somehow feel social media is atleast a nice decade away (atleast in India)! any takers on this debate?? Does anyone think, mass of people having other things to do also can take up this entire media empire??

online stats check

I have been collecting articles to answer “Why do people blog? or Why should people blog?” Before the blogpost materializes (hopefully by somtime next weekend) I thought I shall make a quick stat check of my clout ‘online’ :D! and guess what I ain’t that bad!! This blog is currently not doing that well :) I know there are two readers atleast on bloglines who have them on their blogroll. And somehow on a average I get 15 views per day! which is not bad. But one look at the graph and its pretty disappointing :-). Onto some graphics:

Here is my online ego meter reading :-) not bad uh?? I come up on the first page of a google search for my name twice – not at all bad for starters!
vinu_ego

Looking further into my wordpress stats (figure below) – the spike in the middle is when I circulated my post regarding mobile industry in India. But then, the bumps on the curve are everytime I write a post! Otherwise i do get hits from search engines. My engineering background says that – the top points of the graph look like an exponential decay! And the half life is around 10 days ;-) … in short if I want a good sustainable audience, I should come up with good articles atleast once in 10 days with a bit of general writing here and there and yeah, some amount of self circulation!

wordpress_stats

Next, is my flickr status. Many people, rather bloggers, discount flickr as a blog platform! Its has been a strong and easy Photoblogging experience for me. I wonder why photo blogging is sidelined a lot by people. The ‘writing’ blogosphere considers themselves an elite group! Believe me most of the times a picture is worth a thousand words. Pictures are the best form of expression. Flickr is addictive and the members in flickr are really cool! Damn, I am paying money for using flickr and I am also an evangelist for the service. Its one of the coolest apps I have used in my life. Close to 20 people I know are using flickr due to me! (ps: I do a good job at convincing! I have influenced two people to buy macs last year ha ha…)

Coming back here are my flickr stats:

flickr_views

I have had close to 21,500 views this year which I feel is amazing. I am just using flickr to experiment. I am treating my flickr account as a way of making a photo diary, so that I can come back later sometime this year or in my life to – say or see or feel – this day last year or that year kind of thing. I started out using flickr for mobile picture blogging. I loved it. I have a small groups 2.0 idea using mobile picture blogging + flickr + yahoogroups in my mind. Will share the idea soon. Meanwhile check my tags on flickr by clicking on the following tag cloud. I haven’t tagged lot of pics on my flickr account due to privacy reasons. In a way, my pictures are public but difficult to ‘digg’ :). Ahem, remember difficult not impossible!!

flickr_tags

posts to read!

I have decided to have atleast one post every week that will be a list of links that are a must read.

I am doing so that personally I can come back to it later sometime. But I am sure its going to help some of “the very few valued” readers too! Nice posts to read for the week – I am doing the hard work! Also a nice place to get rss feeds if you like the blog post. All of them will be in the ‘link‘ category and finally yeah, it will also increase my google rankings … he he trying not to be evil uh?? ;-0

This week I can classify the links into the these buckets

Blogosphere and Media

Old media – king Content
Why Blogging vs. Traditional Media Has Been Oversold

Ultimately, it comes down to this: In the very near future, there are only going to be two types of media people: those who can reliably work and publish (or broadcast) incredibly fast, and those … who can’t.

What is Blogging not about??
Analyzing the Blogosphere
Deccan herald on Indian Blogosphere
Teen, schools n blogs!

Design

Logo
Design Satisfaction

Technology

TIME’s article on whether triple play can pay??
Ajax – explained!

After finance, Math’s new industry – advertising :)
Job trends
Web 2.0 index

colouring hair!

I coloured my hair on sunday night. It was something I had wanted to do for the last one month! But I really didn’t want to psyche my new ‘indian’ employers. So, I was ‘black’ for two and bang starting of the third week I went “multistriped“! I bought garnier’s multihighlight (cost Rs 175) and randomly applied somehow forming stripes here and there. Asked for my mom’s help she started to help but then later I took over the coloring on my own. It was getting messier and if she was the only person doing it I would blamed her all the while!

If anyone is reading this – I have coloured my hair multiple times. Experimented a lot last year. Compare these two pics: this is me at a Mardigras Grad party in Feb 2005 -
GSC_MG_020Followed by your truly in March 2005 (pic taken by my close friend Vijay – direction by me! ;-o):

Legally BlondeNot bad uh?? well the colouring isn’t as cool this time. I shall get a picture up and blog about it soon the questions and reactions I got from people around. Mind you this is India! colouring your hair is NEW. And even more new in the WORKPLACE esp for a Business Analyst and part Product Manager. And even more NEW for a GUY!!

Mobiles and usability!!

Just read a great review by Harshad of his new Samsung SGH C210. My company has also given me a samsung cellphone too (I was previously using a cool LG one) will drop in a line on my experiences once I start using it for a month or so … BUT I would like to highlight the final paragraph by Harshad:

“So I’ll try to learn the foolish ways of this foolish phone… maybe even get my fingers damaged in the daily excercise for sending messages and making calls. Till I save up for a better device… I will have to deal with a bad bad bad choice. This is perhaps the worst user interface I have ever seen. Even UNIX is better – it allows fairly intelligent people to change things as they want – here I am supposed to be just as stupid as any other Joe user. *sigh*”

ALL usability and Mobile manufacturers read the above sentences again and keep re-reading it! There is so much to learn in this paragraph. Harshad has done a great job of simplifying the trouble and problems with the current cell phones! Both industrial design and the software design.

I shall be sharing the blogroll for mobiles soon but gotomobile – a mobile usability and user experience blog is doing a decent job at looking into this space!
Coming back to his comment, he is a geek and feels the need of more control and ability to program stuff. And I don’t think the companies should pay heed to that. But what you have to understand is even a non-geek feels the need of non-customizing at some level!

And yeah, all the cribs are on the software front. Hardware he is ready to put up with :) and common how difficult is it to have multiple builds?? how the same hardware!

Another thing lacking in the mobile handset industry is STANDARDS!!! The list is endless – power chords, usb chords, buttons, talk button, end button .. god damn it I agree you need more IQ to operate these phones than operate windows ;-) But guess what even illiterates manage to do that. So, designers – go understand the common man – they have lot to say.

Finally, this is a picture of my old cell phone in the US, LG-PM 325 with google Local running on it. I was very happy and satisfied with it! I just couldn’t get it working in India as its CDMA i.e Sprint contract. Neither Reliance nor Tata indicom were ready to help me out on that!!

LG PM325

Relaxing at Home

Home, sweet home

I am still getting used to these 6 day weeks in India. There are three modes of working in India on weekends:

1. Like, my current company and as most companies. Either have 2 alternate saturdays in a month OFF and have the other two saturdays WORKING!
2. Have all saturdays as half days!
3. Have all saturdays OFF - some you lucky ones!! :)

I have been used to having only FIVE day weeks right from my school days, my IIT days and then Berkeley and even my job in the US. Now coming back after more than 10 years and working two full days out of the four saturdays in a month is really tiring!

Personally, the two sundays (which come in between the 6 + 5 day weeks) are used up in sleeping and recharging your batteries for the rest of the week! Now, how do you find time for relaxing, personal hobbies, those weekend trips?, meeting friends, spending time with family (common if all you are doing is sleeping, blogging etc .. during a Sunday), my volunteering efforts!

I feel the need for these extra two days to ‘spice’ up my life! I love my new job. But somehow, I just need my saturdays :D Next week is a short week – Jan 26th republic day and then saturday and sunday are off. I am going to catch up with the blog readings, take my mom and sis out, do some video editing, blow up some pics for my living room, try some podcasts …. wow I have my handful already!! Have a good week folks …

Movies. Computers, Music and me …. part 2

This is second out of a three part series. See the previous post for Part 1

Rewind again – College Days
India, IIT Madras, 1999

I cried during my summer hols (believe me, literally cried :-() so that my Dad would agree to get a computer in the house and I eventually successed!!! May be my father has still not fully repaid the loan now, but that PIII was a ‘volte de face’ in my life! Though I was not allowed to take the computer to my hostel. My hunger for learning during the holidays was immense! I started out learning C++, the ‘dial up’ internet world, my first email  … errr .. hotmail a/c, Java, Graphics i.e photoshop – some of the major things I learnt. All done my own time and resources in 1999 and 2000 just by exploring and reading books. BTW I am still using them and things have not changed much on those lines!

Let me now come to the media front! In the hostel, come 2000 the amount of electronics in my wing had risen atleast four fold. Given my money constraints and interest in music – I bought myself a mp3 music player from Richie street connected to amplifiers and two big speakers and the room was a juke box for the hostel. The cost of the mp3 player Rs 4,000 then (mind you the same models with DVD reading capability come for Rs 2,000!) By this time,  the MCM (movie chain management as I term it!) was smooth. we had one person for travel with access to a vehicle i.e a bike. A person who loves choosing movies and is willing to shell out a few bucks. A person with computer giving access to his room and setup for the complete theatre experience.

Apart from theatre once or twice a week, seeing movies on VCD had become a common thing. Be it really good new movies, local regional content or (behind doors) porn! Movies were a anytime activity. With no other choice of entertainment in the night – the IIT officials had decided to give only 3 channels on TV for hostels (talk about freedom!). Entertainment at our rooms was the thing. If you were bored, all you had to do was walk around the hostel wings and there was a high probability would will find a genre of movie of your liking :-) Just shelling out Rs 20 per month you could easily watch a movie a day!

Come 2001 and 2002
Junior and Senior of Undergrad Days at IITM

They saw a flurry of DVDs and gaming with extra efforts on our part (i.e students’ initiatives) to network and play amazing games like Quake, Unreal Tournament, Need For Speed and of course Age of empires! I meant extra efforts because, networking was not allowed in 2002 in the hostel (bloody Wardens and their rules)! IIT Madras atleast believed in controlling students sooo much. But with help of the budding engineeers and gaming enthusiasts we all went to the next level when the computers started talking! A very slow bus LAN but that was enough for the wing to start playing day in and day out. The computers were shared and excitement atleast for the inital two months was intense.

This is how we spent our initial ‘networked’ days – eat dinner and warm up with rounds of Need for Speed from 9pm to 11pm. Then it was Quake III in teams till 2:30 or so. After then discussion in the middle of the wing in the night regarding which team beat the crap of whom till 4:30am! Then those who planned to attend classes went off to sleep :D (talk about balancing work i.e learning life and social life). But it was only then the real gaming experts started their day then with UT and Age of empires. Then of course, the ‘real’ daytime saw lots of people polishing their gaming skills on the computers to show their class for the action during the night! And come weekends, one could even play shared marathon AOE matches or watch how the strategy goes. Sometime, I would wake up at 11:30 am and find the entire wing quiet with not many waking up till 2:30 pm! Now, thats gaming for you. Purely addictive and highly exciting. What we were bottled necked was by good networking, need for more and better computers. It was pure technology and some finance and not the human resource or time!

Next on how my interactions with Ms and the Cs from 2002 until now … Have a good Sunday folks!

Movies, Computers, Music and me …. part 1

This is the first of the three post on my experiences with Media and Computers over the past decade.

Media and computers have been a big part in my life especially after entering college in 1998.

Apart from getting independence, more time to goof off, college is a place where ‘like‘ minded people of your age meet! I was averaging around one movie a week in the theatres in the first two years. With the cheapest ticket being Rs 6.50! for 3 hours of a/c (its freaking hot and humid in madras), it was really well worth it even if the movie was not good :D ha ha those days are amazing to think of!

Rewind 7 years back – 1998

The dorms in IIT were a valuable resource – technical and more of an enjoyment resource. Computers were just becoming cheaper then. A pentium III box in 1998 was around Rs 50,000. Luckily someone in my wing had bought a kick ass computer with a DVD drive, a 17 in monitor and of course 2 good speakers. No internet and of course no intranet! But yeah, those days that itself was a real luxury – almost like a supercomputer in my wing! Apart from a bit of programming and simulation, main purpose of the machine was the ‘multimedia’! It was the entertainment juke box.

!STOP!

If anyone reading this is still thinking or has bought a computer now thinking only of its business use and value for money. I recommend you stop reading this and go do something really really useful. But just before you go, remember this – either you don’t belong to the current generation or else you are missing the boat soon! F5 – Refresh and Continue


Fast forward – present 2005

Take a snap shot of anyone’s computer disk space now. Typically this is how it is distributed. 10% OS!! 30% needed free space, 20% actual data and then 40% MUSIC and PICS! For heavy duty media users like me – we prefer either a network drive or an external hard drive! I have a 320GB external hard disk and I have only 18.5 17GB hard disk free space left on it! On top of it I have around 30 personal data DVDs. Given a choice, I will easily consume 1 TB of space (money is a constraint! :-o).

more continued in the next post tomm . Next I shall be talking more on the accerated growth groth of use in my junior and senior year. With the third posting finally talking about my experiences at Berkeley and US… good night ye all! and yeah, as any computer enthusiast, here is my snap shot of my desktop (its a mac mini):

My current desktop

India calling. Hallo, koi udhar hai?

For those who don’t know hindi, ‘Koi Udha hai?’ means “is anybody out there?”(Pink Floyd). Well, the message is clear – The Wall is gone, the curtains have been raised and India is calling!
I am getting to know India again. Kind of re-learning! especially in the mobile and telecom sector. I came across these key facts, some very surprising, thought will share it ye all!

Source: Indian Mobile Telecom Map, FirstPartner, my immediate thoughts in ()

  • Literacy level 64% (good, its improved by 4% in 5 yrs, if I am correct)
  • Middle class population: 250 million (hmmm)
  • 45% of Indian population is below age of 19! (what the heck)
  • 43% of India’s population is working
  • 100 million (1.e 10%) 17-24 yr olds are wage earners (I am one of them!)
  • 5-34 old will exceed 400 million by 2010
  • Mobile penetration is less than 7% {70 million} (I had read its 9% somewhere else I think)
  • 100 million SMS per day!
  • 1 million ‘paid’ ringtones downloaded per day (thats impressive!)
  • Handset Market value$2.25bn – 60% estimated growth in 3 years!
  • VAS (value added service i.e Data services mostly) Revenue $125 mn: expected to grow to $1bn by FY 2010 (why is everyone talking about 2010? talk 2007!)
  • Mobile services Revenue ~ $7bn
  • Average Mobile Infrastruce Investment per anum ~ $2.5bn

As the report in the link says, I kind of agree, the mobile market is going to explode! The main drivers being:

  1. A cell phone, its being viewed as a commodity. A mild observation when I am standing at the bus stop in Mumbai. 7 in 10 persons reached out into their pocket for a mobile (atleast to see time!). 4 were talking, two SMSing and one listening to FM. I wonder if the other 3 had cellphones in the pocket, but this scenario itself is very very promising!
  2. Telecom policy is opening up: the STD rates are dropping with the government planning to make one price for all long distance calls through out india! we are talking in the order of Rs 1 per minute through out India
  3. The operators are bullish and increasing subscribers at both rural and urban areas. The report says that the telecom density is just 2% in Rural areas (huge scope for improvement!) and 32% in Urban areas. With prices for voice crashing (lowest prepaid recharge is Rs 10!) and with ‘Lifetime’ incoming free offers (provided one recharges every six months – who said caveats are not here). Its becoming very affordable to have a constant connection!
  4. Investments plans by handset manufacturers for cheap handsets (under $20) by Motorola, LG, Samsung and Nokia is going to enable further adoption and growth. I think even Cisco is planning to invest. Foreign Cell phone companies like Vodafone and Maxis are interested and are making investments!
  5. India is young, dynamic, working, hungry and buzy! A mobile which is a personal device and a lsoextension of self will soon be playing a very important role in India’s economy. There will be a ‘Halo’ effect. The mobile and agile economy, as I am going to term it, is live and calling

Keep coming back for mobile related thoughts here! :D if you feel India is definitely calling … will leave you with this picture
cellphone and bride

zingos! tag clouds for news :)

a very quick post on somethings cool I have found on the net – brilliant use of tag clouds (refer to my earlier post) for news items! So, here they are:

NewZingo

Techzingo

Buzzingo

Idea is brilliant! Lovely, pleasing visualization and UI – kudos for idea execution. take and analyse data from google news, active sites like slashdot, digg, technorati and display tag clouds of the current words!! amazing :D

Also see another type of AJAX chat application, ajchat , very useful when 4 or 5 people want a chat room on the fly! no need for username and logins. just agree on a roomname and voila you have a chatroom! chatting on the demand. talk about simplicity.

tagcloud_tech_news

‘searching’ for g…Friends!

The title seems very apt to me! I have too many posts I want to write on. But I had been slightly caught up – as I am getting settled in my new Job at Bombay! (woot!! yes, I am back working after my two month vacation :D)

A quick reading now in the blogosphere reminded me of the song “I gotta Girl” by Lou Bega

I gotta girl in Paris I gotta girl in Rome
I even gotta girl in the Vatican Dome
I gotta girl right here I gotta girl right there
and I gotta girlfriend everywhere …
(pam pam and the music goes on, lovely song in case you haven’t heard it)

Apart from me also needing one (a girlfriend ;-o) in Bombay now, let me come back to what the post meant – Google is making FRIENDS, a spree of well thoughtout partnerships in lot of key areas (Mobile and Media). Its becoming more than a ‘search’ company! Basically looking at it – its very very bullish and infact companies i.e big companies want to partner with it.

1. The big 1$ billion dollar 5% stake with AOL – advertising and userbase partnership
2. Today’s partnership with Motorola – use google ‘search’ buttons directly from the phones!
(its all about brand here!) {Motorola is also btw going partner with Kodak for cam phones – that sucks! Kodak digital technology is so bad – its always GO CANON for me. I bet apple + Canon are talking for the iPhone somewhere now …}
3. On top of it, another strategic partnership with Intel’s new entertainment platform – use Google technology to search video content!
Do you all remember the $4 billion secondary Public Offering of Google in August, 2005?? Well, this is where bulk of the money is going – the partnerships! i.e GirlFriends, googleFriends, G…Friends :-) Gotcha?

Its leveraging partnerships to get a diverse audience and content that Yahoo (which is becoming a media company actually!), Google’s actual main competitor, cannot obtain. Also, in a way google is becoming the software in providing the services on the ‘go’ as Gates himself said at the CES yesterday (software is the future!) and compete healthily or may be partner with Steve’s upcoming iMedia+iLife combo!

The folks at Google know to make software very well and they are the best among the best and I am sure by just focussing on this and allowing their partnerships to flourish to get content and users and generate revenue, they will be a major player for the digital home that Microsoft and Apple hope to rule (Microsoft -Xbox and Vista & Apple – iPod+Mac Mini+iTunes)! Now that leaves ‘just’ Yahoo. I was thinking may I should leave that for another post but a quick ‘google’ of “Yahoo Buyout” (I didn’t get any ad on this search!!) gives me an article (dated very recently Jan 4th, 2006) obviously linking up Microsoft and Yahoo {seems obvious if you think about it! ;-) Microsoft is getting desperate …}
Now thats a complex, debatable topic for a bigger post! … but my suggestions for now, if you have some money lazying around (which I obviously don’t have!) and want to invest it stocks – BUY GOOGLE and YAHOO stocks. Both will go up atleast till May 2006 (my take 25% increase in stock price).

Simple reasons

  • Market wise: the digital home market is going to explode {braodbad, online video .. blah blah blah}
  • online advertising is going to keep growing, mobile market is ever increasing and
  • MOST important of all ‘everyone’ is going to START TALKING :D!