nude collage

My mind goes … wow! hmmmm woo … wow! amazing .. kewl! hot ….The image is raw and powerful. Creativity and emotional thoughts come jutting out. Sensousness is cut down to the lowest level. Its just how its presented here! Go here for the real source (flickr as usual)! You can see the collage starts with female body on the left and ends with male body on the right. The black and white tones are diverse. The lighting moods drastic and soft. I just love how some of the images are raw and yet some very subtle. In short the contrast and the dual nature in the one package (circular presentation) is the clincher here! i.e Bipolarity = beauty = creativity
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on a spiritual note …

I am feeling spiritual this weekend. Tomorrow I shall come back and write out my thoughts… Mind you feeling spiritual not religious. But I have one thought in the back of my mind “Why am I feeling spiritual?” Is it because I am tired or I am bored or I am looking for more excitement or very stressed or missing company. May be its just part of growing up!

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creative bags

I got this lovely forward from a friend of mine. It had pictures of how creative you can get with shopping bags. Throwing it out into the online cloud :-).

Somehow, apart from these bags – I have loved packaging good in general. Have observed designs in stores. Especially love the way a mac and ipod is packaged. I still remember opening my powerbook and the macmini!
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giving meaning to life …

Kalu Rinpoche:

The first thing upon which we should meditate
Is our precious and fleeting human life,
Hard to obtain, and easy to destroy;
I will now give it meaning.

I relate to this very much. The last year I have been trying to give it meaning and believe me its easier said than thought!! Leave doing it :-)

why do we need entertainment?

I have been lately thinking why I/we need entertainment? It has its own benefits – Pros and cons. But I am also looking at it from also a business perspective. Here is the mind map image (created using freemind software) – kindly do add to the list in the comments section or by mailing me! If you are not able to see the image fully as I keep changing my presentation style of the blog you can view the image here.

Taking it a step further which would you like on your mobile and which ones on the net?
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todays links …

links I hope to read later in the day. Blogging in case any one of you find time in between and find it useful. :-).

Usability Research: Key Findings 2005

Creators, Syntheziers and consumers:
talks about communities and groups effect in yahoo.

Top ten U.S Spending Trends (2005)

Free eBook
: Its of the entrepreneur genre …

Some webapps and services you should check out if you haven’t yet!
www.picsquare.com
- For people who want to send prints especially in India. They are in the news doe refusing VC funding recently from some firm!
www.meebo.com
I am surprised lot of people are still unaware about this webapp for chatting from inside the browser! Also do check out www.ajchat.com
Visual RSS public aggregator
– this one really rocks
On the lines of RSS aggregator see: Live.com (from Microsoft) and Pageflakes.

marketing and disatisfaction …

Amazing post by Seth Godin titled “The culture of dissatisfaction“.

I totally relate to this as I observe things around me all the time and I have travelled a lot. I have seen the differences when things are sold at the ‘people’ level and the ‘virtual’ level across the two continents i.e US and India. A drastic shift in marketing. seth highlights the following points. (Just fyi, Marketing has been my interest also for sometime apart from people people psychology). Seth Godin has always been clear and lucid in his blog posts. Here he illustrates his point by looking at Las Vegas:

“A rapid increase in dissatisfaction.

The problem with this emerging culture, aside from the fact that we’re unhappy all the time, is that it doesn’t give marketers a chance to build products for the long haul, to invest in the processes and products and even operating systems that pay off over time.

It seems to me that insulation from discontent comes from building a relationship. From real people. Relationships that make us feel counted upon, respected, trusted and valued cut through the ennui of dissatisfaction. We got ourselves into this mess by acting like smart marketers, and as marketers we can get out of it by acting like people.

The last is a very profound one. He says basically if your company is in a fire-figthing mode i.e you are handling customers and their complaints more than actually innovating and building new products. Start building relationships. They are worth in terms of customers in the long term and you will benefit as a company also. Be more Human! Come back to basics :-)

Very true … look around and start thinking. At least in India, I can see more of relationships in the retail front. Also one more thing …

The onus is also in the customer’s end to build relationships if you want things done quickly be it on the phone line or be it your local grocery store :D what do ya say?

vinu Winpack :-)

I recently formatted my laptop and I am installing and uninstalling (Outlook and msn for example) applications that make me work at the most efficient levels. The applications which I think are most useful and should be used by most people. And guess what all are free and mostly open source!! :-).

I am writing this post – so that I can come back again if I want to reinstall these apps. I am also very sure some of you will find these useful. On the lines of google pack, with nothing to stop you from my version of the winpack:

  1. Firefox (Browser) and extensions I use Mouse Gestures , Performacing for blogging, del.icio.us
  2. Thunderbird (Mail Client)
  3. OpenOffice (lovely replacement and completely compatible with MS Office :-))
  4. Gaim or Trillian (Multiprotocol chat client)
  5. Skype (voice and video conference)
  6. iTunes (music player and podcast player)
  7. VLC (video player)
  8. Irfanview with plugins (image viewer plus other uses too!)
  9. ZoneAlarm (firewall btw: windows firewall sucks bigtime!!)
  10. FreeMind (mind-mapping tool, useful for notetaking, notemaking and creative stints)
  11. Picasa (photo organizer)
  12. Gimp (open source photoshop like app)
  13. MWSnap (excellent nitfty little app for capturing screen)
  14. Windows Defender (notice this is a microsoft product!!)

For geeks:

  1. WinScp and Putty
  2. Vim
  3. Cygwin (this is realy some great powerful app!)

Do comment if you think I am missing something. Enjoy the pack!!!

Aim High …

Henry David Thoreau

In the long run, men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, they had
better aim at something high.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Side question:

How do you really differentiate between ‘a long term aim’ or ‘goal in life’ and ‘I have a dream’ kind of things??

my life as of now!!!

“Inhale feeds.
Exhale blog posts.”

Marshall Kirkpatrick has these words as the ‘tagline’ for his blog! And man, don’t I totally agree with him. Because thats what my life (personal and work) is all about :-)! a few caveats to be very specific:

inhale posts, blogs, podcasts and rss feeds;
exhale OPMLs :D, some blog posts and of course think think think …..

In his post – “13 Reasons to Tag” he basically is highlighting the ‘groups 2.0′ concept that I have been feeling the need for and I am sure everyone will feel the need as they realize – information is coming at a increased speed, size and also non-linearly in all types (text, audio, images and video). He says:

Information overload is real, and RSS can make it worse or better depending on how you organize your feeds. One way or the other, there is now so much information available that failure to organize what you find useful in an appropriate way will lead to countless lost opportunities.

His ideal scenario for tagging:

  • integrate with del.icio.us and offer tag selection in a similar manner
  • allow varying levels of privacy and permission
  • save a cached copy of every page you tag
  • perform a full text search of all fields, the full text of the URL and its cache
  • include other features not yet imagined.

He mentions a webapp Simpy – try it out. I looked at it. But somehow, I don’t think i will switch from del.icio.us. I agree with his ideal tagging world. But believe me we are atleast a year away and the initiative has to come from big players like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft. Another service you might want to explore: Grou.ps

Anyway, looking into the future this is clear – tags + RSS + OPML + BitTorrent – is where the internet is going for both public and personal lives on the web i.e webmobs.

short codes

I came across a US common short codes WHOIS directory. In it you can see lots of companies and services listed. One can’t imagine what you can do with ‘short-codes’!

Then I followed it up with some google search keeping India in mind “india short codes” was my search and there I came across the article “India is a Short Code Nation” from ContentSutra. There I came across a short code list from BSNL.

A few quotes from the article by S. Karat (Oct 2005):

 “There are around 50 million messages a month going out on short code.” That’s 600 million messages out of a total of 13-15 billion messages a year, and at an average of Rs 3 a pop, it adds up to annual revenues of Rs 180 crore ($40 million), almost half the size of the Rs 400-crore ($90 million) value-added services (VAS) market in mobile telephony.

With the userbase doubling in a year. We can easily expect these short code services to ‘more’ than double. We need a directory for short code services in India. Possibly a Wiki? Any takers? Or has it been done already?

Different strokes for different folks

Wonderful post titled “What does mobile productivity look like?” by Marc Orchant in ZDNet Blogs.

“I watch my daughter (21) use her cell phone primarily as a text device. Her SMS units outnumber voice units on our monthly bill by a 10:1 ratio. When I ask her about this, she explains that you can have a phone conversation with one or maybe two people. SMS allows her to chat, coordinate, and collaborate with as many of her friends and co-workers as she likes in pretty much real time. Because her preference has become clear, I find that I send her text messages far more frequently and phone her less.

I don’t call my son (14) when he gets home from school on latch-key days when my wife is at her gallery. I send him a Skype instant message. Why? Because he won’t always run to grab the phone but he always responds to the incoming IM chime. There’s a certain geek Pavlovian thing going on there.

I do as much communicating using VoIP and IM as I can. Economics plays a big role in this choice but presence is almost as important. I know in advance whether the person I want to communicate is available when I use Skype, Google Talk/Gmail Chat, or Windows Live Messenger. If they are, we chat using voice or IM. If they’re not, I send an e-mail. I can make a discrete decision about the most effective way to get in touch with them instantly. The phone only tells me the party I want to reach is unavailable after I’ve dialed, waited for the requisite number of rings, and left a voice mail message which might or might not be listened to soon enough to matter. E-mail, IM, and VoIP are simply more immediate and more effective for me and the people I communicate with.

Except for my wife – who turns her Mac on when she has time to check e-mail and much prefers I call her using my Treo so she knows it’s me on the Caller ID.

Different strokes for different folks.

Communication, collaboration, and productvity are all being prfoundly influenced by the technological tides we’re experiencing. Take a look around at how the people in your life – younger and older – in your business and out of it – use technology to connect. It’s an eye-opening experience. “

‘lifetime prepaid’?

Well, time and mood has come to write a thoughtful or rather insightful post today. I have been goofing around with ‘quotes’ and ‘pics’ to fill in my blog :-). Today’s post takes inspiration with two things. One is the picture below and other from Veer’s post on “number portability in India

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Veer’s post is sparked from an article in Business Line ‘Test the waters first‘ written by two IBM Business Consulting services people. Quoting important point in the news article:

What will be the right time to introduce Mobile Number Portability (MNP) in India? … TRAI has proposed to increase the coverage of mobile networks in India from around 20 per cent in 2004 to around 75 per cent by 2006 … Clearly, for the next few months, the top-most priority for the Indian market should be the management of this growth. MNP, if it takes focus away from this growth (as the operators claim), should definitely be de-prioritised. …. MNP will definitely increase competitiveness. However, our analysis shows that India is much more competitive (as measured by the share held by the top two operators) than most of the countries where MNP was introduced … Moreover, there is no conclusive evidence that MNP will lead to reduced tariffs. … MNP, if implemented in a consumer friendly manner at the right time, could bring benefits to the Indian consumer. However, the time does not seem to be ripe for introduction of MNP as of now.

Veer disagrees with the argument saying:

I think the primary reason why number portability should be introduced is that service providers should compete to keep the customer and not just forget about him after acquiring by relying on number lock-in …The most flawed argument in the article is that the proportion of churning customers who port with their numbers measures the direct impact of an MNP regime. Number portability acts as a deterrent and makes the operator not take the customer for granted. Porting ratio or churn is not the right measure to calculate the success of MNP.

Before you continue to read, just would like to tell you my take on this. I blog as I think so in a way I don’t know how big this post is going to be. So, just to spare your time – continue reading only if you are interested in what I am telling in the next two sentences. My take on the article in Business Line and topic are as follows:

1. The quality of the article is very poor! I am especially shocked to see two IBM folks have written this and its being published in Hindu. Number portability is a big issue and they have not done a good job! Especially in this complex, competitive, growing indian telecom space.
2. ‘Number portability‘ is the ‘NEED of the HOUR‘ in the Indian telecom industry. So, in a way I agree with Veer. But how I am concluding this from a very different angle.

I am first going to explain the current mobile scenario (to the best of my knowledge) and then look at the options and then conclude. So, if I am wrong somewhere or you want to add something do free to comment this article!

Go up and look at the photo. Its a Ad from ‘Airtel‘ (Bharati) for their ‘Lifetime Prepaid’ offer (if you are reading this from the US, it must be a rude shock! lifetime ‘free’ incoming on your mobile for $20 :D). Also do read my earlier post on the Indian mobile scenario if you want to know the hard facts and backgroung
Current voice schemes:
status check: the prices have hit ‘rock-bottom’

- New one india plan announced by the government and Reliance! i.e call anywhere in India for Rs 1 per minute
- Airtel and orange pre-paid recharge packs are as low as Rs 10! and they are valid for the entire day.
- offer by Reliance to pay Rs 2,500 -> get a new phone + free lifetime incoming calls

In short, voice and mobile have become a commodity. Just to help you realize this more, look at the ad above ‘again‘. It just says soo much! Sorry I didn’t take a better picture, but I took this as I was driving to office. The advertisement hoarding targets everyone in the society … an sales executive, a tiffin dabbawallah, a tea-maker and housewife / teenager. Guess, the only people missing are the kids! (common even they need lifetime offers). Soon with VOIP, for making calls within India, becoming legal in 2007 and broadband penetration increasing, there will be hardly no value for ‘fixed’ voice. And with ‘incoming’ free on the mobile in India. I think it will be only the poor who will be paying for voice and not the rich folks!
So, the mobile operators are left with only two choices:

a. Offer high end services i.e value added services to the high end customers. The customers that they targeted a year or two before and the youths.
b. move in to rural areas and reach to the lower end of customers to get more revenue by keeping the margins, services and ARPUs same.

Basically, its a choice between margin and number game!

Given the fact that they have no means of justifying the need for deploying 3G networks immediately and getting returns on it, the only route that is left in the short term for them is to play the ‘number’ game.

Number portability:

Coming to the main point. India is at a stage where it is adding 5 million customers a month! And the current mobile subscriber strength is around 75 million. So, in short in a year’s time the mobile population is going to double. My question to the IBM authors is – if it is difficult for the operators to deploy MNP now, then its going to be ‘even more’ difficult when the population is ‘doubling’ even year! Every investment and time spent now in getting MNP working is twice the amount and time saved later.

Next point – Out of the 5 million subscribers that are getting added every month, my guess is 60 to 70% low margin customers with lower levels of ARPU. Also, the mobile competition is intense and equal i.e with around a 25% split between mobile operators. There is room for all to grow well. Another thing to note – the schemes like ‘lifetime prepaid‘ are in way locking the customers ‘in’. What will happen to those schemes if the customer decides to change his operator once MNP kicks in? should the new operator honour it??

As of now, without number portability, the current offers will only reduce the churnrate with customers at a loss i.e short term I forsee a mobile landscape in India where the old customer is valued less as he is already ‘locked’ for so called lifetime! The effort will be only to get new customers in!
So, my take – looking in the long term and short term perspective. Number portability is going to only help both the operators and customers in India. The earlier the better!

I feel somehow there is more room for ‘growth’ and ‘competition’, only if TRAI thinks of number-portability across all types of telecom sectors i.e pre-paid, postpaid, GSM, CDMA, WLL, fixed-wireless and Fixed. After all – thats the only way to grow faster and competitively! btw a quick google search reveals TRAI had a ‘open-meeting‘ regarding this in October 2005- any idea what the outcome or the thoughts echoed in that forum were??

A big post … arrgh, I am tired. back to work. Thanks for reading, if you did! ;-)

Marriage blues …

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One of my friends is getting married next week :-) (you can expect some snaps on that front next week!) I am just returning after having a sunday lunch with her. She was telling she is having marriage blues. On one hand she is looking forward for it but she is also slightly scarred about the commitment thing! what are your thoughts folks??

The above picture is around 25 years old. Its from my parent’s wedding in 1980. Look at the happiness in everyone’s face. Its all about the moment. I am sure my mom and dad will still look at this snap and have a smile :D

Being happy!!

Arnaud Desjardins:

Terrible or not, difficult or not, the only thing that is beautiful,
noble, religious and mystical is to be happy.

future!

Sogyal Rinpoche:

Why, if we are as pragmatic as we claim,
don’t we begin to ask ourselves seriously:
Where does our real future lie?