Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Business done differently

I have been wanting to blog about SmugMug, the online photo hosting site that my wife and I use. I was having a hard time articulating what I wanted to say about it. Fortunately for me, the LATimes solved that problem.
They have a great two page article on SmugMug and what makes it cool. Do check it out here.
I am pretty sure we under-utilize our smugmug page :-) We are not active on the message boards either but we are feeling pretty good that our pictures are in really good hands. If you don't have an online photo site or are in the market for one, do take a look at SmugMug, they are really passionate about what they do.

Some good quotes from the LA Times article:
The MacAskills are determined to retain control of their business, turning down all offers to invest in or buy the company. Employees, who include "sorcerers" (engineers) and "support heroes" (customer service staff), agree that SmugMug wouldn't be the same with outside influence.

SmugMug may have one of the most distinctive corporate characters in Silicon Valley. After all, this is the company that in January gave a couple, Naomi Smith and Roger Brimacombe from Fetlar, one of Scotland's Shetland islands, a lifetime SmugMug membership in exchange for a sheep. As part of the lighthearted deal, the ram, which remained on Fetlar, was christened Smuggy, and SmugMug's green smiley face logo was spray painted on his coat, where it remained until he was sheared this fall.

Sean Rogan, 33, was a SmugMug customer who used to keep readers of Chris' motorcycle forum on the edge of their seats with his tales of life on the road. While he was passing through San Francisco on his way to Guatemala, Chris surprised him by offering him a job as the company writer.

"I thought: Could this have really found me?" Rogan said.

They also reward customer loyalty. Two years ago, when SmugMug raised its prices, it grandfathered in all its current customers. Every year, SmugMug organizes "shootouts" for its customers: roving expeditions to national parks with expert instruction on how to get the perfect shot.

And once, as payment for photo services, the MacAskills accepted livestock.
Like I said, business done differently. I was pretty encouraged and inspired by their story. Let me know what you think.

Merriam-Webster word of the year 2007 (and fine print)

is ... drum rolls ... W00t! and yes I did not type Woot (I purposely used zeros instead of the letter o)

W00t (interjection):expressing joy (it could be after a triumph, or for no reason at all); similar in use to the word "yay"

If I understand this correctly, the 2007 word of the year is a synonym for "yay". I cannot help but find this disturbingly amusing. Oh but wait, it gets better, here are some choice snippets from the web site.

Thousands of you took part in the search for Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year for 2007, and the vast majority of you chose a small word that packs a pretty big punch. The word you've selected hasn't found its way into a regular Merriam-Webster dictionary yet—

the exclamation is also known to be an acronym for "we owned the other team"—again stemming from the gaming community.

Merriam-Webster's #1 Word of the Year for 2007 based on votes from visitors to our Web site:

So, if I understand these findings. The 2007 word for the year is not found in the regular English dictionary and it is an acronym for "owning the other team" (talk about explaining theory A using an even more obscure theory B) and oh the result is based on votes from visitors to our website.

I do understand what W00t! means, I have used the word, the website and am quite aware of it. I have nothing against W00t. What I find troubling here is that a word with its primary relevance emanating from an extremely niche population (online gamers/gamers) has been chosen as the word of the year.

I find this similar to this imho classic post by Josh Kopelman who blogged about the techcrunch effect. The gist of the post is that, the 60+K (now maybe 100+K) users of techcrunch drink each others kool-aid in mass amounts and are freaked out by findings that the biggest priority of most Internet users is not switching from Word to Google Docs (gasp!).

I am sure there is a gamer somewhere who is thrilled to bits that W00t is the word of the year and cannot comprehend the fact that 95+% (i am guessing here) of the world's English speaking population has not heard of it.

IMO, the deeper problem here is that as the Internet makes communication quicker, easier and louder we are mistakenly associating the frequency of appearance of a thought/concept on the Internet as indicative of its prevalence or popularity. It is not and I am afraid some of the mistakes may be more costly than just a unknown word of the year.

But for now, hope you had a great 2007 and a big W00t! for 2008 ;-)

The top 10 words of 2007 can be found here

Prince Caspian Trailer

I am easing back into blog posting after a hiatus. I was busy for the past two months, starting a new job here. That left me in Chicago for 2.5 weeks in November, pictures here from when my wife joined me for the weekend. As you can tell, the 'Bean' fascinated us to no end *grin*

Then Kim and I were visiting Israel for two weeks and we had a wonderful time, pictures here (courtesy Kim again).

Anyways there was too much blog-backlog and I eventually stopped because the backlog was too daunting. I think the word "blog" above can be substituted with a lot of life activities and the statement would still ring true. For instance I can replace blog in that sentence with "exercise" or "reading my bible" or "phone calls to my parents" or "emails to friends" -- you get the idea. I am not going into deep introspection, just making an observation that this is a situation I find myself in quite often so learning to deal with it will probably help in more ways than one.

So here you go, I start by not worrying about the backlog and figure if something was worth blogging about or sharing about in the backlog the need will make itself clear.

Now for the title of the blog, the trailer for the next movie in the Narnia series is out. I found it here.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Perfect Business defined

I came across this post on Howard Lindzon's blog


Facebook and Google are just giant brains. No packaging, no shipping, no retail…in a word, perfect businesses. Google has proven out a revenue model and Facebook is on it’s way .

Both these businesses are creating their own global economies and it’s awesome to watch the leverage they are displaying...

I have an issue with the statement, "Perfect businesses" - no packaging, no shipping, no retail. This is ironic since these perfect businesses are advertisement vehicles/platforms.
In other words they exist solely to connect majority of their customers with products that require packaging, shipping and retail. So if every business decided to become perfect than *cough* *cough* google and facebook would have nothing to sell.

Myth turns into realilty

One of the first myths I remember when I started my career in software development was the one about the M$ janitor who became a millionaire.
It turns out that Google decide to create it own version only in this case it is for real - Google options make masseuse a multimillionaire (behind the walled garden - use bugmenot dot com).

Make of this what you will, etc.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Devil (or customer satisfaction) is in the details

I am in Chicago for two weeks. I happen to like this particular coffee shop (Bean) at the lobby of the building i am staying at. This morning the barista thanked me by name when i picked up the coffee. I was curious how she knew my namesince I am not from Chicago and I have been at the shop only once before. Turns out that the guy who took my order read my name from my credit card and passed it to the barista. Not a big deal but a great little habit to have if you are in the service industry :)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Good reminder of fundamentals

Great anecdotal post from a product management blog on my blogroll.

This taught me several valuable lessons

1. Baseball metaphors don’t travel well.

2. Usability and look & feel aren’t the same thing.

3. Local functionality matters. Řešení SAP ERP HCM je navrženo pro globální podnikání, podporuje funkce pro výplatu mezd, regulační požadavky a obsahuje nejlepší zkušenosti z praxe pro více než 47 zemí.

4. Translators,Translators, Translators.

Read the blog post in full for the complete context. Always a good reminder.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Good product design is almost always a good investment

I was reminded of this truth today. My wife is a forgiving woman full of grace :-) who forgives me for not being enthusiastic with the vacuum cleaner. This might be changing!

We recently bought a Kone -> and I seem to find myself wanting to use it more often. We also have a Dyson for more regular vacuuming. I very much doubt that the Kone is better technically than the Dyson but I do think they got a lot of the usability and product design 'right' with the Kone.
So what do you have? You have a customer who seems to enjoy using the product and his wife will hopefully think he is a good man for doing so.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Way to go Austin!

According to this Wired report -
Austin, Texas has the highest percentage of residents who read or write blogs

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Good people of Austin Energy

We lost power this morning, around 4:30am. It was starting to look bad outside, the storm clouds were heading towards Austin. Kim called the power company couple minutes after we lost it. It turns out that the power lines run through a rather large bush (i thought it was a tree till today) and the primary and the secondary power lines ended up making contact in the bush thus shorting out.

The fine folks at Austin Energy showed up 5:30 (in spite of the weather) and had the problem resolved by 7:45. Well done gentlemen and thank you for working through the rain.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

It is cool to geek once in a while

Technology review did a very good 2 part article (links below) on the latest generation of math whizes (what do you call a collection of math wizards?). These men and women play a very interesting and vital role in our economy and have a direct hand in the sub-prime mortgage market collapse that occurred recently.
If you want to understand what CDO and Derivatives have to do with modern economics this is a good place to start.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It does not take a MBA to do this...

  • It is not easy
  • Nor is it always possible
  • But it is worth striving for.
  • It does not need a good ROI
  • It always makes good business sense!
This blog post is what got me thinking ->link

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Requirements and Refactoring

This is a dog story. Well the protagonists are dogs but this story is not about dogs, it is about requirements management.

Requirements management is one of those phrases that puts majority of the people in the software industry (well people in general) to sleep. It needn't and in fact it is VITAL.

Assume you are a young strapping gunslinger in the 1870's who just graduated from gunslinging school. You are excited and ready for some action, you are hoping to ride shotgun on the coach transporting the gold from one town to another. You are hoping to draw fast, fire true and make your name known. Instead you are told to spend time with the boring people who maintain the books, you are told to go talk to the bank president and understanding his concerns and his goals...blah..blah..blah.. at some point you stop listening and you fall asleep. After all, you came out of gunslinging school not good listening school.

Finally, you leave town with the coach carrying the gold. Oh No! it is Ben Wade !! You decide it is time to put your education to work. Wade's gang hits the back of the coach first and retrieves lot of the gold and loses interest in your crew.... but you decide you will kill as many of them as you can and make your president proud. There is a fierce firefight and for a while you take down two of them for every one of you who goes down. Eventually the shooting ends and you and the rest of the survivors drag yourself into town. You are expecting praise for your courage and determination - instead your president chews you out and he is MAD!!! what happened...?

Well it turns out, he did not care as much about the gold as he did about the chief accountant who was traveling with you. He wants to expand his franchise and he was planning on using his chief accountant to train a whole cadre of bankers. Since you decided to stay and fight back, the chief accountant is now dead and that is exactly what the president did not want.

Could you have avoided this? Oh yes this is what the old man was talking about when you were told to listen earlier..... costly lesson eh.

Wait didn't i say this was a dog story. Hrmm... well then, here is a less dramatic example: my wife and I got two puppies recently. Bella and Zooey are five months old and came straight from the breeder to our house. So as we went through the usual new puppy process we realized that we had three tags for each of them with their names and our phone numbers plus an additional number. How did this happen?
- my wife ordered custom tags for them with their names and my number
- the vet we took them to for their rabies shots saw they had no tags on them and made them tags with their shot info and the vets number on it. Of course it had their names also.
- I registered them with AKC and akc sold me on a recovery plan for them for the cheap one time price of 12$. This meant now they have a tag with their names, a unique AKC id and a 1-800 akc number to call.

This is mainly a communication issue but also a requirements issue. And you thought this was a boring subject ;-)

1. I saw two westerns recently, 3:10 to yuma and "annie get your gun". Ben wade is so the man!
2. I am aware that gunslingers are predominately men but that does not mean that requirements management is a male problem.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Watch what you say....

I came across this article on as part of work related research.
Jesus' maker, David Socha, said he created the biblical toys to give girls an alternative to dolls in G-strings and boys a source of amusement not modeled on "demons" and "spawns of Satan."

"The Bible's full of violence, but I don't think violence is glorified in the Bible," said Socha, CEO of California-based One2Believe. "When I was growing up, I was always GI Joe. I was never the bad guy. Now, I think some kids are playing the bad guy. We're trying to bring wholesomeness back."

I am sure his intentions are really good but I am not sure the best way to position it is through stereotypes. Girls like dolls in G-string whereas boys like "spawns of satan".... heh! man wish the boys and girl in Austin were that simple to understand ;-)

I am actually very much for him offering more choice to kids. I just unfortunately get the stench of piety and close-mindedness from that tag line (talk about not stereotyping people *grin*)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


My wife might be amongst the top 10 greatest entomophobists of all times :-)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Nebraska state lawmaker is suing God

Detail Link
Chambers lawsuit, which was filed on Friday in Douglas County Court, seeks a permanent injunction ordering God to cease certain harmful activities and the making of terroristic threats.

The lawsuit admits God goes by all sorts of alias, names, titles and designations and it also recognizes the fact that the defendant is omnipresent.

In the lawsuit, Chambers said he's tried to contact God numerous times...

[The lawsuit] says God has caused "fearsome floods, egregious earthquakes, horrendous hurricanes, terrifying tornadoes, pestilential plagues, ferocious famines, devastating droughts, genocidal wars, birth defects and the like."

The suit also says God has caused "calamitous catastrophes resulting in the wide-spread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth’s inhabitants including innocent babes, infants, children, the aged and infirm without mercy or distinction."

Chambers also says God "has manifested neither compassion nor remorse, proclaiming that defendant will laugh" when calamity comes.

HT to mojoblog

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Passions flying high

I came across this article buried within rediff. It is about an ongoing case where the Government of India is trying to construct over what most hindus believe to be a divine landmark. The comments were interesting to me. They were insanely passionate and rambling of course but they were also revealing a lot of the assumed prejudices.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Some recent events got me thinking about relationships. Most of the current world is trying to mimic the American school of success.

For most part success here still translates to tremendous financial security, freedom to accommodate impulse behavior (travel, trinkets, entertainment, house, cars, .... you know the list) and the ability to get to a point in life where most of the rules that apply to the common man are not applicable to you. ("common man" is my pc version of the "average man") While there is an active movement trying to redefine "success"(Saturn commercial). The popular version still trends towards enabling a life style of excess and immediate gratification"

One of the unspoken consequences of this has been the demotion of relationships in the priority list of a working adult. Relationships are assumed to be "easy". If they cannot be sustained just on the time left after pursuing life's other goals, then there is something wrong with the other person in the relationship. Please realize that I am close to and continue to meet a lot of individuals who do get it "right" (IMHO) but they are counter-cultural. They did not get there without intentional hard work and sacrifices. They have to do a thorough review and refactoring of their convictions before they can be counter cultural. This is hard work and takes sacrifice, both of which are not attitudes we want to associate with relationships.
People assume one has to be unselfish and put the other persons needs ahead of yours to make relationships work. Guess what-- YOU DO! but the mistake is in thinking that you have to be born unselfish. Errr sorry mate :-). NOBODY is born unselfish. You become unselfish in your character by continually working on your relationships. It is a constant side effect and not a necessary starting ingredient.

Interestingly from a cost-benefit analysis, nothing repays your hard word like a strong, healthy and loving relationship. (Incidentally there are no guarantees but that is where your personal "faith" comes in) I am confident of this assertion because like successful platform plays (M$, _maybe facebook_, the internet). Relationship is a platform strategy for the rest of your life. Your success or failure in your distinct life endeavors say job, raising kids or changing the society is highly tied to the strength of your relationships.

What got me thinking about all this are the events of this week.
  • My wife is currently in Poland on a work related trip. This is hard for me. I do not like not having her in my house, city, state, country and time zone :-) (have i made my point clear). But we both realize that travel is a part of our adult responsibilities and it is essential that we support each other. What is cool to me from this trip is that we unconsciously switched to frequent emails and sms 's in addition to phone calls. This has had a really good effect on me (i hope for her too). Being able to stay in touch albeit with rapid messages has helped me continue to keep her in my thoughts without a break. I am still very much excited about her coming back this weekend but I am handling the separation a lot better in addition to feeling loved by her and loving her even though we are seven hours apart.
  • My grandma passed away yesterday. She was 85. She had a hard life and we are glad the end was quick and peaceful. She was a surrogate mom to me during the first 15 or so years of my life (my mom busted her butt working for us along with my dad - thanks mom and dad). I miss my grandma but probably too personal for me to blog about. What is interesting to me though is that i started to keep my dad in the loop on my life via my blog over the past 6-8 months. This again has helped me tell him and my mom that they are in my thoughts and let them know how much i love them. The net effect is that when my grandma passed away, I was able to have a healthy and good conversation with my dad (she was his mom). We live 12hrs apart and I moved away from my home/country over a decade ago. So getting to this point is not a coincidence. It took hard work and sacrifice.
These examples are not to tout technologies (blogs, sms, etc) but to point out that relationships are unique, require attention, hard work and continuous refinement on a regular basis to get the most out of them. Anyways love to my wife, my brother, my parents and my friends :-). I am not getting maudlin, just letting you know that you all are worth all this and a lot more of my time and energy.

Good luck with your relationships :-) Let me know if you want to bounce thoughts with me.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Interesting Jobs

He says he was afraid of only three things in life "electricity, heights....." You got to see this video :-) -> link

Thursday, August 30, 2007

More presentation goodness

This time from Seth Godin. His article is on how to put in a little more thought into your power point creation but get a lot of reward in return. Give it a read, well written with concrete examples as well.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

How much effort do you put into your presentations

In the enterprise software context/world we don't have a presentation guru. Presentations are considered as part of the job responsibility of most of the normal functional roles. It is more common to see presentations be a part of the day to day job for functional managers (program, product, project) and for sales and marketing folks than for developers and other engineers.

Most presentations follow a common company template or stay simple. This is not a bad thing but if the goal is to influence people through the presentation that the medium and the tools being used might be as important if not more as the content being presented.

Data Visualizations: Modern Approaches is an aggregation of different presentation techniques. Specifically addressing the problem of data visualization. Good link to have in your book marks list.
(HT to Guy Kawasaki )

Data Visualizations: Modern Approaches
presentation zen.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Remind me not to teach my (future) kids driving

I accidentally drove one of our cars into the other this morning. I had a not so small dog in the back of the suv and so could not see out of my rear view mirror. I proceeded to back out and ran straight into our other car. Looks like we have to replace the hood :-/ $$$....

Yeah, good thing my wife is kind, loving and did not marry me for my attention to detail or driving skills.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

be prepared

Saturday, August 25, 2007


It was a fulfilling movie going experience for me. I am an "all the way" Neil Gaiman fan, so this was a beautiful gift from my wife to me (Thanks Kim). I enjoyed the show 100%.. I loved the richness of the story with its ability to surprise me with magic. As in, it is pretty obvious that you are watching a world where magic is in the open but it still manages to get you when you see magic occur.

There is something beautiful and special when a story is essentially a coming-of-age story and a love story between a prince (from a magical world) and a fallen star but you never stop to think - how exactly does the "love" i know of translate to something shared between a prince and a fallen star. Instead you just accept it, get caught up in it and find yourself rooting.

:-) Then again maybe I am uniquely qualified to enjoy movies like this completely. I can easily suspend disbelief and be completely lost in a rich land provided the story stays seamless as it keeps stretching reality. This one did that for me.

Highly recommend it but YMMV. Btw, to be 100% honest, my wife mentioned that she felt like it dragged a bit in the middle. The run time is ~2hrs.. it felt like 45 mins to me :-)

Small World

I was in LAX on Thursday on my way to Austin. My standard ritual during my return trips is to consume my elixir of choice at the starbucks in the terminal.
The girl who took my credit card looks up at me and says "Are you from India?" I nod with a smile (it is pretty obvious if you look at me) She then asked "which state are you from?" This caught me off guard since most people are not familiar with the states in India. I said I am from South India. She continued confidently, "TamilNadu?".. I was bemused and did the nod again. "Vanakam" ... I did a double take but I had heard her right, she repeats it "vanakkam".
Vanakkam is the word for 'welcome' in Tamil, my mother tongue. She answered my unasked question with, "Yeah I took Tamil in college". Did you go to school here I asked (referring to USC/UCLA etc). No no... of course not. I am from Poland she said. It turns out that Tamil is offered as a foreign language in Poland.

It is a small world indeed. Coincidentally my wife is going to Poland in a few weeks.. maybe she will be able to practice her meager but growing Tamil vocabulary there ;-)

If I was a book, I would be

You're Siddhartha!

by Hermann Hesse

You simply don't know what to believe, but you're willing to try
anything once. Western values, Eastern values, hedonism and minimalism, you've spent
some time in every camp. But you still don't have any idea what camp you belong in.
This makes you an individualist of the highest order, but also really lonely. It's
time to chill out under a tree. And realize that at least you believe in

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Been a while since I posted. Work has been holding the leash pretty tight on my collar. I like these mindless quizzes. This one actually is fun. They ask you just 5 questions (IIRC) and then Bang! they have mapped you to a book :-). I am actually the opposite of their conclusion though I can understand the mapping based only on the questions I answered. I have a sneaking suspicion that they have a pretty simple decision tree and once a leaf node is reached, they stop asking more question :-) since they have no where else to go.

HT to Tish for this link.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Hot Topic: Responsible Journalism

Headline : "USA May Be Set To Have Worst West Nile Virus For Years"

Facts pointing to this headline:
  • The number of cases reported so far this year are four times higher than the equivalent period in 2006.
  • Georgia has three times as many disease-transmitting mosquitoes this year, compared to 2006
So we could have had 4 cases reported in 06 and 16 so far in '07 but it is much better instead to say 4X MORE CASES IN 2007!!! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!

Is this a trend we are going to have to live with or is there a chance this will change?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Boston in pictures

Kim uploaded a bunch of pictures from our Boston trip written about here and here.
She is good with a digital camera indeed :-)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Bizarre news

The title says it all,
Coolbaugh dead at 35 :Tulsa Drillers' first base coach killed by line drive

Ugh a young man survived by two sons and his wife. Sad :-/ I am curious about what the odds are of this happening?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Walk through Boston (continued)

Today was definitely a warmer day :-) We slept in and headed to Harvard square for a bit of brunch.
  1. We ate at Zoey's which was great except they looked at me strange when I asked for Sourdough toast. Weird...
  2. We came up a movie set on Harvard campus. It turns out that the movie is called "The Great Debaters" and it stars Denzel and Forrest Whitaker. No we did not get a glimpse of either of them.
  3. We checked out the MIT campus and took a walk by theCharles river
  4. We then went to the Boston Science museum and watched a really cool electricity show featuring tesla coils and van-de-graaf generators that generated some impressive lightings.
Hoping to get some good indian food for dinner tonight.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Walking our way through Boston

Kim and I decided to explore Boston on foot today :-). We have thoroughly enjoyed it so far. I wanted to share few of the Boston observations.
  • This city is super walking friendly. Of all the big cities I have been to in the US (NY, SF, LA, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, DC, Seattle, Denver) Boston is the most walking friendly. We are also enjoying an unbelievably gorgeous day which tilts things in Boston's favor.
  • We started from our hotel by the Haymarket T station (close to Faneuil hall) and walked over to Faneuil hall/Quincy market place. Wait, that is neither cool nor interesting, so ..
  • Boston seems to have more Dunkin Donuts stores than Starbucks.
  • There are over a 100 Italian restaurants/coffee shops/gelataria's lined up along two streets by the North End. We had dinner last night at Bricco's. I wanted Osso Bucco but apparently it is a winter dish.
  • Boston was founded in 1637 ... so pretty darn old but such a good looking city.
  • We walked right by the oldest restaurant in the country.
  • I am from Austin but we were treated to 4 different street musicians as we meandered through Newbury street. The variety was great, from rock to country to jazz by a three students who study music at BerkeleyBerklee school of music. Boston seems to have a lot of good street music during the summer if what we encountered is not an exception.
  • Newbury street runs parallel to Commonwealth and one is bohemian and shows a lot of the city's culture while the other speaks of power and wealth. Interesting juxtaposition. (Kim noticed this as we were walking through)
  • Boston has some beautiful parks. We walked through one right by the Boston commons that was gorgeous.
  • What else.... oh yeah we saw this kid in the park, he was holding a branch with a baby bird on it. The chick could not fly, tried to and fell on his bike, the mama was not coming down since this kid was holding the chick and did not know how to return it to its mother. It all worked out in the end.
  • Newbury was interesting as well. We were having authentic Boston ice-cream when we noticed that 4 of the 5 people around us had the latest harry potter. Two of them were reading it and the other two were proud new owners. We promptly purchased our copy of course!
  • There was a plaque at the park by the Boston Commons that had quotes from some of Boston's original settlers, it was a cool glimpse into the values and principles that were influential back in the days.
  • We had a green peace group "keeping it real" next to us and trying to get people's attention. Then a LOUD noisy Ferrari pulled up, revved for the next 5 mins and slowly parked right next to them. Seemed oddly funny for some reason.
  • As we walked by Louis Boston store, we noticed a gaggle of men. The objects of attention it turned out were a Bentley, a Ferrari, a CLS 500 and a Ducati parked next to each another. Good times !
Hoping to find some good food at Chinatown tonight! wish us luck.

Friday, July 20, 2007

It is not about me

There is a lot going on around me. Plus this article by Clay Shirky I read (10 mins back) got me thinking. I am hyper connected these days (relative to my preference not relative to the scoble standard). My dad is more connected to me thanks to my blog. But it is good to remember that my blog is a means to an end, it is not the end. Its goal is to help me stay connected with people not meet people so my blog is more relevant.
So anyway here is what is going with people i know/love/care
  1. My wife is on her way right now to join me in Boston (sooner the better).
  2. Eryn's horse fancy is moving closer to being a proud mama.
  3. Tiffany is living it up in London.
  4. Corbett is enjoying his new job and in general seems happier when Jen is with him than when she is not ;-) (which is rare these days)
  5. Drew is a proud dad and man their kid is handsome.
  6. Speaking of handsome kids, Moyer smith is making waves in the US
  7. Krista is cramming away to reach her MBA goal....
  8. John (i hope) is loving seattle, kicking butt at amazon and enjoying family with Thao and Issac.
  9. The vyssotski's are keeping it real with alexie
  10. My parents are busy with a typical Indian summer.
  11. My brother is working his way to prepare for some major excitement in life.
  12. (just realised i could be writing this post for another hour easy!)
holy focus changer batman .... gawd people are living such rich busy eventful lives :-). Not sure why I wanted to write this post but writing it has made it easy for me to take the focus of myself and my stressful life and enjoy the changes in my friends lives.

what is going on in your friends lives?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

My wife took me to a movie

..and it was fun :-) We saw "Once" (imdb link). The plot outline is apparently
"A modern-day musical about a busker and an immigrant and their eventful week, as they write, rehearse and record songs that tell their love story."

Does not quite do it justice though. You have to see it for yourself. Btw, if you enjoyed "Before Sunset". There is a pretty good chance you will like this one.

True Love vs Infatuation

Our friend Dr Thurman has been teaching on the difference between infatuation and "true" love at church. Obviously "true" is based on how Jesus/the Bible defines love between a husband and wife.

Lately I have been on the receiving end of a lot of true love from my wife :-). Life has been hectic and Kim and I have been crossing paths a lot. What is amazing is that through all of this, the marriage continues to beat with a steady rhythm and pulse. Almost like we are both off key with our respective instruments but the base is healthy and steady (except we are both contributing to the base so there is no separate drummer/base guitarist).

I am so grateful that we are not standing on a foundation of infatuation but on truth that says "true" love involves tremendous hard work, grace, forgiveness and humility. I am also grateful for my wife who finds ways to appreciate me and love me in spite of my best efforts ;-)

Thanks Kim

Friday, July 06, 2007

Zerse or Hobra ?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

How to love your family remotely

I got a call last week from my grandmother with a request for some PC related help. She lives clean across town and it was late in the evening. I did not want to let her down so I ended up using copilot and spending the 5$ for the 24hr license. It worked great :-) and I was able to take care of her issue. But I was wondering if I could have done it even cheaper (sure there is vnc but it is not very grandmother friendly. It looks like I can using crossloop.

I am hoping to try it with my mom so she can read my wife's blog. Will let you know how it works out. This one should be a little trickier since my mom lives half way across the world and is on a dedicated DSL i think but not sure.

p.s you cannot hope to ever "completely" love someone remotely but that does not mean you stop trying.

Random notes from recently

Books read/reading
I think there are probably a few more but i am forgetting them. Work related reading would fall into this category but you need to follow my tags for that.

Movies from recent
  • Transformers
  • Pirates of the Caribbean by III
  • Invincibles (repeat)
  • Hot Fuzz
  • Iron Man (partial)
Houses bought/sold/moved into
  • One :-)
Job started/quit/getting used to
  • One :-)
Living my life, loving my wife - priceless.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Seeing and Listening

Due to the fact that my new office is located in downtown Austin I have started to take the bus to work. The reasons 'for' are plenty and I have not bothered with the reasons against :-). The 'for' reasons include , saving on gas, more reading time, less stressful commute, saving on downtown parking... like I said a lot.

While in the bus I noticed a "Jack Brown" dry cleaner store. The store was closed but there was a window washer at work and I could not take my eyes of him. He was so meticulous in his attention to detail, making sure that he cleaned the blade of his wiper between every wipe. It reminded me that sometimes a job well done is its own reward. I design software for a living and more often than not I get frustrated with mundane tasks but seeing that clean sparkling window was a cool reminder to the power of commitment.

I get of the bus and am waiting to cross the street. The light turns red, a car pulls to a stop and as I am crossing, I see this man run from the other direction straight to the car, the window rolls down, they smile at each other and the running man gives a package to the car driver and takes of. The windows roll up and the car drives away. My mind started to race at the possibilities of what happened there :-)

All in all, i like taking the bus. It is teaching me to observe again. Hopefully listening will follow.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Biking to work -- getting closer to making it happen

I bought a used R900 R900 (thanks Nick) last night. It is a 2002 bike that belonged to an ex-triathlete. My friend Drew helped me get it :-), thanks Drew.

Psyched! wish me luck as I try to get used to it. I am hoping to use it to get to work on a regular basis!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

President makes a fashion statement

Originally uploaded by
Black monogrammed socks and black crocs....ugh very presidential

Monday, June 11, 2007

It is a startup organized at enabling people from wealthy countries to lend small amounts of cash (micro-finance) to entrepreneurs in the poorer nations. It is a beautiful concept and I hope it can stay free of corruption, scandal and abuse long enough for people to realize that a business when focussed on the right vision can be a powerful tool for transformation.

Check it out ->

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

call centers - cart before the horse?

I just got of the phone with an Amex representative. I am fairly confident that she is an Indian woman and most likely working out of a call center in India. Quite impressive since it means she is doing the evening or the night shift and I appreciate her willingness to work at odd hours.
During our conversation, she read my address back to me and recited a 6 or 7 digit zip code for me. I of course corrected my address. I am not bothered by this as much as piqued by this. Call centers, BPO's and the companies that hire them work hard to mask the fact that these employees are not from the US. So the intensive training program on American culture and accent. This is a no win game that I believe focuses on the wrong thing.

I don't care that her accent is excellent as much as I care that she does not realize that US has a 5 digit zip code. I find it amusing that call center reps are being trained to hide their identity and act instead of being trained on the "serving" end of "customer service". If he/she realises that I am trying to "change my address" and helps me get it done with courtesy and clarity then I don't care how authentic the accent is.

I understand that there are more than enough customers who are comforted by a familiar accent. I do buy the need for accent training but I think it should follow good service training not precede it.

Monday, June 04, 2007

how NOT to practice customer service

In the unorganized world of moving there are victims who move and the movers who facilitate these situations. These are their stories.
Da Ding...

Quick version: we moved successfully last week :-) Praise God.

Longer version: We had some hiccups. One of which was moving company "Quality Movers" (henceforth referred to as QM) calling me on Saturday to get the address for the move. But I had never confirmed with QM only got a quote from them. I had signed up with "Minor Moving" (henceforth = MM) to do the actual move.
In their defense, I never explicitly called and told QM that I was not using their services after getting the quote but that is not the same as confirming. So I apologized for the confusion and thanked them for their call and told them that I had picked another company. Few minutes later i get a call back from the same woman at QM who gave me the original quote, she starts the conversation with
  • "i heard the movers tried to get your address and you declined, what is up?" not in a friendly tone of voice either.
  • i explain to her that i never confirmed with them and i am sorry for the confusion but i was not using them.
  • she then proceeds to challenge me on the strength of my memory. i once again point out that i am not calling her a liar, just that sometimes two sides end up with different take on past events. I tell her again that I did not intentionally set out to spoil her day and i am sorry for the unfortunate turn of events but i have somebody else lined up.
  • at this point her voice gets louder, tinged with sarcasm and she asks me if i am usually this confused :-)
So I could either have been rude in return or see how far she is willing to lose her cool and discredit her company. I opt for the latter.
  • I let that pass and tell her that the conversation is no longer productive and I am sorry for her troubles.
  • She explains to me the amount of trouble I have caused her and she asks me what moving company i went with?
  • I tell her I went MM, to which she takes a few seconds and then comes back with "Hah, I just found out that the movers you choose lost their license with Texas board of xxx (don't remember). Looks like you made a great choice.. i hope you are happy".
wow! ...... what could have be done differently here? Let me see
  • Never call your customer when you are heated up and angry (even if they are wrong). Never do this!
  • Remember customers are typically not for single transaction. On average, for any company,I am willing to bet that most customer will make multiple transactions over their life time. So take the time to educate the customer or understand their context so you can win their business next time.
  • If things are not looking good, try to your best to blow their expectations away by reacting differently. For instance, if QM had called me back and said they were sorry to lose my business but still wished me a great move and gave me good moving tips. You bet I am going to bend over backwards to give them business from my friends.
.....little patience before picking the phone to call me would have made such a difference......

Friday, June 01, 2007

C&O Trattoria - Good Eats

I am in LA working with a client. My team and I headed out to C&O Trattoria last night for dinner on recommendation. It is a great Italian place located right next to the beach at Marina Del Ray. They have pretty darn good food, house wine served on the honour system and nightly sing alongs. All in all, what a good Italian dining experience should be :-).

The only way this evening could have been a better was if I had my wife with me :)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

like it or not fame brings questions

My brother sent me this link. It is an article about LeBron deciding to take a "time-out" on a petition started by one of his team mates. This is a petition condemning China for its passive support of the Genocide in Darfur.
To be fair -- "I don't have enough information to sign this" is a reasonable response.... if you are NOT a international athlete with a 90million $ Nike deal and the ability and influence to embarrass the Chinese government by signing the petition. Sadly for LeBron the rules are different. Taking a "time-out" is apparently not an acceptable option for him. Welcome to the world of the modern multi-million dollar athletes, they have to be the best at their sport, talk kids out of drugs, promote the best footwear to the world and be the best world diplomats money can buy. Good luck LeBron.

Friday, May 25, 2007

well done tx gas service

The texas gas company that takes care of my natural gas needs has this really neat phone service. You call their 800 number and if you are not immediately connected they tell you how long the wait time is and give you a call back option, i.e. you enter your phone number and name and hang up. Within the time they promised, you get a call back and talk to a live customer service agent :)I am digging this use of technology and not having to stay on hold

I hope more companies follow their lead :)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Friday, May 18, 2007

Does this surprise anybody?

Ryan Block of engadget acted on what he thought (and most bloggers agree) was a secure tip about the iPhone release schedule. It turned out to be false and before he could fix the post, Apple's lost 4billion of its market cap. It regained most of its value once people realized that the post was false but in the meantime it was a powerful demonstration of what we have become: A society that indulges in knee-jerk reactions and instantaneous gratification. Score one for the value investor.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Personal concierge for the common man

Everything to Everybody is a year old Austin startup that will help you make sure you do not fall back on the essential stuff of life while you enjoy life. This bothers me.......I am not sure why but it does. Maybe the implicit statement being made: "stuff like laundry, cleaning my car, maintaining my yard is not worthy of my attention".. i think we should be trying to enjoy it instead of "citysourcing" it :) Maybe that is just me. It feels like I am paying someone else to be responsible for me.

Btw, I would be more than happy to use e2e to surprise my wife with a clean house/gourmet meal, etc. I guess my rant was inspired by the person I heard about this from. He/she was using this as a means of continuing with his/her lifestyle instead of doing a reality check that the lifestyle was causing missed responsibilities. I am old school I think :-).

When machines talk..

My friend Graham sent me a link to this article. The premise:
But could one chatbot fool another chatbot? What would one say to another in private? To find out, we arranged a conversation between these two chatbots. To get each snippet of chat rolling, we seeded it by posing a question from one bot to the other. After that, they were on their own. What follows is the unaltered text of what each said—the sound of two machines talking.

The chat is between two top rated internet chat bots, what ensued was pure fun :) Some excerpts,

J: How do you define life?

A: Life is the opposite of death.

J: So death is the absence of life?

A: Take it easy. I try not to think about such things.

: You seem fun.

A: You think I am fun.

J: Yes ;).

A: : -) Awesome.

J: Do you believe in God?

A: Of course I believe in God.

J: Why do you believe in God?

A: The Bible tells us to believe in God.

J: That’s circular reasoning.

A: I’m glad we have that all cleared up.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

This is sad (travesty)

I cannot believe that Amare and Boris Diaw get a one game suspension for Robert Horry's cheap shot. The NBA management blows :-( Even though I want the Suns to win and they have righteous indignation on their side they will lose. Righteous indignation cannot guard Tim Duncan..... Sad day indeed.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

extended family

we look forward to seeing you soon here Moyer.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The nontrepreneur

Where do we come up with this stuff? I read an article today by Nick Douglas glorifying the nontrepreneur. Who is a nontrepreneur you might ask, well it turns out that he/she is the anti-hero for the entrepreneur.

It is amazing, the speed with which we continue to build and destroy heroes in our society. While entrepreneurship has been around since the dawn of time, the entrepreneur is a modern day king or hero. The United States is the country with the most kings. Immigrants come from all around the world with the dream of one day becoming kings. This crowning of the entrepreneur happened in the past 50-75 years (post world war II) or so. Now we are already tired of the kings we created :-)

Reminds me of a famous quote from G.K.Chesterton's book (Orthodoxy),
the new rebel is a Sceptic, and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty; therefore he can never be really a revolutionist. And the fact that he doubts everything really gets in his way when he wants to denounce anything. For all denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind; and the modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it.....................................
The man of this school goes first to a political meeting, where he complains that savages are treated as if they were beasts; then he takes his hat and umbrella and goes on to a scientific meeting, where he proves that they practically are beasts. In short, the modern revolutionist, being an infinite sceptic, is always engaged in undermining his own mines. In his book on politics he attacks men for trampling on morality; in his book on ethics he attacks morality for trampling on men. Therefore the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything.

Read the full excerpt if you enjoy well written satire.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

My anti-rant post

A google blog search for "traffic rant" yielded,
Results 1 - 10 of about 15,260 for traffic rant. (0.07 seconds)

So clearly there is a lot of traffic related angst out there and 99% of it is justified from personal experience :-) But I wanted to buck the trend a little bit so here goes,

My traffic anti-rant
  1. Thank you to the person who realized that i am seconds away from being stuck behind a bus on the right lane and let me cut in front of them.
  2. Thank you to the person who switched to the left lane at the stop light so I could make a my free right turn.
  3. Thank you to the person who turned on their turn signal to let me know that it might be better for me to switch lanes if I wanted to maintain my speed.
  4. Thank you to the person who realized that there is a long line of vehicles backed up and respectfully merged in the back instead of driving on the open lane and trying to get into the traffic flow at the last possible instant.
  5. Thank you to the person who smiled and forgave me instead of giving me the bird when i swerved into their lane by mistake. I apologized instantly of course ( you know the whole .. look my arms are up and i am so sorry wide eyed look) but it is still rare to see people smile and forgive rather than birdie or double-birdie me.
  6. Thank you to the person who pulled up to the forward pump at the gas station and left the rear pump free.
(heh writing this anti-rant thing was actually cool).

Things like this still happen in our world

The father of an ex-trilogian is a political prisoner in Bangladesh. I don't know much about the story to take a side yet but I do know that publicity is not a bad thing in cases like this. Please take a moment to read his dad's story.

Urgent Appeal - Please Help Free Dr. Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir


Thursday, April 26, 2007

History repeats itself

As I am reading the most excellent "The Consolations of Philosophy" by Alain De Botton, I came across these words on the chapter titled, Consolation for Inadequacy. Here the philosopher Montaigne reflects on the curriculum of the College de Guyenne where he was educated. This was considered to be France's best educational establishment during this time period (mid 1500's). Montaigne thinks aloud,

I gladly come back to the theme of the absurdity of our education: its end has not been to make us good and wise, but learned. And it has succeeded. It has not taught us to seek virtue and to embrace wisdom: it has impressed upon us their derivation and their etymology.....
We readily enquire, 'Does he know Greek or Latin?' 'Can he write poetry or prose?' But what matters most is what we put last: 'Has he become better and wiser?' We ought to find out not who understands most but who understands best. We work merely to fill the memory, leaving the understanding ansd the sense of right and wrong empty.

I wonder how many people in our Department of Education can give a good answer to these 500 year old questions :-)

Something tells me that Kathy Sierra might like this Montaigne character since he also says,
Difficulty is a coin which the learned conjure with so as not to reveal the vanity of their studies and which human stupidity is keen to accept in payment.
in other words (or words of Alain de Botton): An incomprehensible prose-style is likely tohave resulted more from laziness than cleverness; what reads easily is rarely so written. Or else such prose masks an absence of content; being incomprehensible offer unparallaled protection against having nothing to say.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

running your life from the web

just got a tad bit easier with Postful. According to a review I read,

Using Postful, anyone with access to email can send a real, paper letter to anyone with a postal address. How it works? Send an email to, with the mailing address in the subject line, write the letter in the email's message body, click send, and the email is printed and posted. Postful does not add branding or advertising.
hrmmm :-) maybe it is time to start catching up on all those mails after all.

Insourcing anyone?

Has India finally started to kill the goose that laid the golden eggs? After all the articles about outsourcing, here is one from the ceo of*) that is taking a different direction. Munjal is clearly a good ceo and most definitely a clear thinker (and writer as evidenced in his blog posts). So it is not surprising that he and his team at finally decided that the cost savings in India were not worth the communication challenges and productivity speed blocks.

The big 4 in India continue to grow rapidly (Infosys, TCS, Wipro, ??) but India needs to start producing more software for internal consumption if it wants to gain long term independence from its US and European customers. That means gaining more experience building products for companies like Riya instead of pure outsourcing gigs.
The raising rates of software engineers in India is good in the short term but unless they figure out a way to increase the rate of innovation locally and have a strategic plan to create a Sand Hill road in India they are hurting themselves long terms by making it easy for companies like Riya to take their business elsewhere.

* tcfka: the company formerly known as

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

[a] made me think [b]

[YouTube ad from kodak] made me think [of kim and krista].
[National distrbuter of green building supplies] made me think [of the wagens]
[director of research at google] made me think [a. man which rock have I been under? and b. woot! the amount of fun I am going to have in continuing to read this site]

Life is good when most of the things I read makes me thing of people I love and care about :-).

Friday, March 09, 2007

Google News reader

google news reader
Originally uploaded by
This was amongst the top headlines recommended to me by Google news. "Hurley wedding guests eat obscure Indian desert food". This is the most important news in the world today. What can I say, i am speechless :-)

Monday, February 26, 2007

To FedEx: Email generated from templates can be a bad thing

The section below is from a FedEx automatic package update email.

Our records indicate that the following shipment has been delivered:
Tracking number: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Ship (P/U) date: Feb 22, 2007
Delivery date: Feb 26, 2007 9:12 AM
Sign for by: Signature Release on file
Delivered to: Residence
Service type: FedEx Priority Overnight
Packaging type: FedEx Envelope
Number of pieces: 1
Weight: 0.50 lb.

This was a FedEx package I WANTED delivered overnight. I paid premium just for that. They delivered it in four days and with no shame tell me that service type requested and paid for was "FedEx Priority Overnight". :-)

They should change their motto to "FedEx - You ask what you want but you will accept what we give anyways".

Thursday, February 15, 2007

1000 words, etc

Originally uploaded by

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Maybe I am a prude

Originally uploaded by
I came across this a few minutes back on the Google news home page.

All these years the news related to breast feeding of babies was lacking something. Duh! of course! It was lacking a picture of a baby feeding from a breast right next to it.

Is the image relevant to the story - 100%
Is the image absolutely necessary for the story or does it add anything to the news story - very weak case to be made if any.

I don't think it is Google's fault. I am sure the robot generating the news page grabbed the relevant image for this news story and plugged it next to the title.
So can Google do better with this implementation, I certainly hope so.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Is this because of lack of choices?

From an San Francisco Chronicle article about Gavin Newsom who is running for re-election as Mayor.

On Feb. 1, the mayor publicly admitted the accuracy of a Chronicle report that he had a sexual affair with his appointments secretary, Ruby Rippey-Tourk, the wife of Alex Tourk, a friend of Newsom's who at the time of the affair was his deputy chief of staff.

Tourk later managed Newsom's re-election campaign, but he resigned late last month after learning of the affair. Newsom disclosed four days after admitting the affair that he would seek treatment for an alcohol problem. He publicly apologized again today to Tourk and his family.

The article continues with some responses from the residents of San Francisco,

"I am not going away. I care so deeply about you and this city," he (Newsom) said to cheers and applause.

His speech had the desired effect.

"I think he's good for the city," said Ralph Romberg, a lower Pacific Heights resident who has volunteered on Newsom's two past campaigns, for mayor and for supervisor. "I'm not interested in his private life. It's not my business."

Pacific Heights resident Yvonne Thompson shook Newsom's hand and told him to "hang in there."

"We all have some skeletons in our closet," Thompson said. "He's a nice person and supportive to the African American community."

Not only is he getting away with this behavior (which would be unacceptable if our son/dad/uncle did it) but he is "good for the city".


Monday, January 29, 2007

Juggling should not become a life skill

I had a coffee appointment this morning and I arrived 5 minutes early (a rare occurrence for me). As it turns out, I scheduled this meeting two weeks ago. So I show up and realise that once again,
  • I forgot to send out an email/call my friend to remind him of the appointment.
  • I left my cell phone at home
It is 10 minutes past our meeting time and now I am in trouble. So I did what I usually do, I ask nicely and Starbucks lets me use their house phone to call my wife (this part is new, till recently she was my fiancee). She being her insanely effective self, checks my phone then checks my email to confirm the time, place and date and finally gives me the cell # of my friend. I call him and all is well. This story had a good ending.

One of these days I am going to pay the price for not learning from my mistakes. My wife thinks it is cool that I manage to work through these situations so consistently but I think I am going through my life's supply of karma faster than I should. :-)

How are you doing with your appointments lately?

I like it when Y! mail is a step ahead of me

(look at the unread mail count)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Why is this not a bigger deal

My brother sent me a link to a NYTimes story yesterday. The story contains elements of hope, fear, progress and phobias all packed into one. I am not going to sit here and judge the residents of Clarkston, GA. not without walking a mile in their shoes.
But I am excited and encouraged by what is possible when a determined few step out. I am proud to read a story like this that still reminds us what makes this country truly an immigrant friendly nation. Take the time to read this story. It is worth your time :) (I am sure there is a hollywood script being written as we blog).

NYTimes article -> link.
More on the Fugees -> link.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Links for now (aka me too)

  1. Powerpoint can be beautiful -> short video here.
  2. One of the many things wrong with the PC Industry -> writeup here.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Friends with Ideas who like sports

A friend of mine launched his idea recently. "Are You Watching This"
Seems like a cool idea. The way I understand it (don't hold me to this) the games (NFL, NBA, NHL, NCAA, Nascar, etc) are voted in real time before and during the game by users of the site. Depending on the threshold you set, you get sms'ed, paged, emailed when games meeting your threshold are found.
So the next time, it is bottom of the sixth and the no-hitter is starting to look like a reality you will be notified. You will no longer have to curse yourself for being stuck in the line at Ikea for that 45$ chair and missing the game.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Wallstrip does Wipro (featuring cameo by Appu)

Y'all know I am a fan of wallstrip. Wallstrip is a 5 min vlog with a shows every weekday covering different stocks. For example check this out

Today they covered Wipro, one of India's largest tech companies in a manner that is uniquely wallstrip :). Enjoy.