Category — misc
Though I’ve been dying to, but it has been quite a while since I blogged. Blogging for me amongst other things is an art, a way to express how I feel about a particular living/non-living thing and It’s the mere fact that I can express myself freely is just too good.
The first half of the month went by way too quickly. While most of the first week was spent traveling, the second was spent on bed(down with viral). A lot has been going on both in the mind and off it and I hope to be able to speak here more often. If you happen to read this and there’s something you’d like me to write about (Startups, Business, Product Management, Social Media or anything else) just drop a comment and I’ll try to cover it.
BTW what’s up with you?
August 19, 2010 No Comments
At any given point of time the number of browser windows and browser tabs open on my laptop is not less than 15. Yes, never less than 15, in fact its about 25-30 on an average. Apart from the fact that it sucks a lot of memory from my Win 7 loaded laptop it also is weird pressure of sorts. The pressure to read every open link and extract most out of it in the least amount of time.Not only this, this situation is like quicksand, the more you try to get out of it, the more you get stuck. The more tabs I want to close, the more I find myself opening.
Web pages have this really good/bad attribute of cross-linking, so one page links to another and that links to another, ad infinitum and a significant part of my working time goes in closing tabs one after the other. I am quite sick of this never ending game and shall try to start afresh tomorrow by closing everything done(almost) and starting afresh and hope to limit myself to a 10 tab window and get more done.
July 12, 2010 No Comments
Another post to keep me attuned on blogging and sharing some useful information in the process.
1) Speed of eating “key to obesity” – http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7681458.stm
2) How to build one of a kind Facebook Fan Page: http://techcrunch.com/2010/03/28/how-to-build-engaging-one-of-kind-facebook-fan-pages/
3) Stephen Fry: What I Wish I’d Known When I was 18: http://vimeo.com/11414505
and just for the laughs, this Vicks Action 500 AD(by Anurag Kashyap apparently)
July 5, 2010 No Comments
I’ve been following the work of Hugh Macleod for quite some time now. He’s not only a great cartoonist but a lot more.
Here’s today Cartoon from the Gaping Void newsletter(Subscribe), hope you too will like it
You might also want to checkout Hugh’s new book: Ignore everybody
April 1, 2010 1 Comment
Just a quick warning to folks reading this that there’s a Phishing email doing that looks like it’s from the Indian Tax Department is doing rounds. The email text reads
Averse that some of us have become to reading the complete text I clicked the link that took me to
and it was only when I saw the card number and card verification number that it occurred to me something’s not right here. On close examination things started to fall out of place. This page is a cleverly devised one and can make a lot of people fall for it unless they are alert enough. The right side pane have links to actual sites and the look is a complete rip off from an official site. While this might be a clever attempt it isn’t perfect and here’s why(keep this things in mind for similar situations)
1) Asking for Card Number and/or Pin: If anyone needs to transfer money to you, all they need is your name, your bank account number and branch. There isn’t any need for a credit/debit card number and pin
2) Non Clickable Icons/Links: On trying to find where various links on the sites are pointing out I realized that left pane is just an image and not an html section with actual links, the same holds true for the footer which looked genuine but is just an image
3) Generic Name: On a closer look you’ll realize that all the text from email to the web page is not being addressed to you or anyone in particular. It’s just a generic text like ‘Dear Applicant’ and a silly ‘Dear Income Tax Department of India customer’ for email
4) URL: The site URL could be a great pointer in Phishing cases and the URL here (http://indiataxrefdep.com/folder/) reveals that something isn’t right here. When was the last time you accessed a government site which had ‘folder’ in it’s url? Also, aren’t government sites on the ‘.gov.in’ domains?
5) Email Sender: It’s really important to check the sender email id of such emails(which I didn’t check in the first place to be honest). On second thoughts a quick look at the email id would have cleared all doubts, the sender email was ‘[email protected]’. Yes, an Income Tax Department email coming from a yahoo mail id.
These five tips should be helpful in figuring out if an email is a Phishing attempt or not. Feel free to add more points to the list.
I had written a similar post to avoid being Phished on Facebook, you can read it here
October 16, 2009 6 Comments
It’s been about a year and a half when I first wrote about Meow FM. For the uninitiated Meow 104.8 FM is an Indian talk based radio station that’s aired across Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkatta.
I’ve been thinking of reviewing Meow FM again to understand and share how it has evolved since then but it was only after one of the hosts at Meow emailed me to know “what I feel about the station” that I finally got down to write .
It took me about a week or so to listen to Meow at different hours to see what exactly they are upto and here are a few things I managed to gather.
1) The “A-Stars” Migration: Ever since last year there has been quite a few A-Stars that have left Meow FM for various reasons. Those who’ve left include Hosts Jaishree(last year?) and Rochie(July 9th) and COO(and host) Anil Srivatsava(June 2nd). The roots of migration of A-Stars in this fashion can mostly be traced down to the boardroom (bad policies or management, or both) and I assume that’s the case with Meow too.
Given the fact that the business Meow is in, the loyalties are almost equally(if not more) associated with the Hosts and the station, the station would have definitely felt the heat.
2) Talks are making way for Music: While during its initial days Meow was as much about conversations as one could be but I feel things are changing. Possible the Host exodus is the reason behind it. With just a few quality Hosts (Ginnie, Divya ,Manisha and Ved?) to handle about 14 hours of airtime(7 am – 9 pm), playing more music is inevitable. I remember listening to non-stop music for about an hour yesterday around 12-1 pm.
As it turns out Meow is mostly about music on weekends, which isn’t particularly good for people like me.
If in case this music fever spreads to weekdays, Meow will lose out on a good differentiator and even if Meow has to play more music they can try to make the whole process of the music selection a bit more interactive. A simple thing could be to ask listeners to SMS songs they’d like to listen(not sure if they do it already)
3) Diluted Positioning: While I don’t have any official word on this but off late I’ve started to feel that Meow is no longer aimed at just women. Be it the fact that they now have a male host for their 7 AM show or the fact the hosts no longer re-iterate Meow is India’s first ‘Just for women’ radio station. Also, unlike previously where male callers were allowed on just a couple of show(Tu-Tu Meow Meow & Top Cat) and on weekends(?) you can hear them on practically every show now.
If there has been a change in their target audience I am afraid Meow will find it increasingly more different to survive the competition and if there isn’t such a change they should try to leverage their positioning a lot more to do more tie-ups and eventually attract more women to them.
4) Focus on Quality: While other radio stations are still busy doing silly spoofs of Sholay’s Gabar or Sunny’s Papa ji dialogue, meow continues to add value by talking about meaningful things. Meow 104.8 FM offers by far the most intelligent conversations across the radio frequencies. Not sure if most RJ’s(from radio mirchi to fever) are stupid or they pretend so to sell to the masses but I am quite happy to note that Meow has a better lot of Hosts which continue to talk sensible stuff.
It’s not surprising that Meow has Dr Kiran Bedi as a co-host on one of their shows and they can also boast of having a great weekly book club.
5) Community: Meow’s ning community started by Anil reflects its listeners loyalty. With about 10,000 members @ ning they have a wonderful community of their customers available for free. This goes on to show that people love the station and want to stay connected.
While I haven’t noticed extensive efforts aimed at making the most out of their community they can do a lot of things and make the most of it though I am not sure how it’ll work out with their ning community as it was created by Anil who is not associated with Meow anymore.
I’d like to conclude by saying that Meow has definitely not reached the place it should have given the strong grounds it started with and it’s a very crucial stage they are in and if they don’t do the right things game could swing either ways.
PS: Meow please get your site re-designed and if not at least update the content. It looks like the site hasn’t been touched for ages.
Update: This post is also available on radioandmusic.com (http://bit.ly/5eT7Z)
September 23, 2009 1 Comment
Yesterday evening while trying to explain some best practices for writing emails to my younger brother I tried to make my point clear by showing him some examples and asking him to identify the differences. Given the amount of badly designed/structured emails doing rounds it wasn’t hard to find an example of badly designed email from my inbox.
Here are two emails that I picked up for him, both are regarding bloggers meet.
Instead of pin-pointing the differences I asked him spot them and it didn’t take him a second to say
“The second email is addressed to you while the first one is SPAM”
Though I wasn’t expecting him to flag the first one as spam but I guess that’s how it would appear to anyone who doesn’t know the context beforehand.
Trying to figure out what was really bad about the first email isn’t rocket science. It’s essentially two very simple things
1) ‘To’ Field: I try to find some clues like who all was the mail addressed to etc, from the ‘To’ field (some people put their entire list in to field btw). As you can see here the email’s ‘from and to’ fields are same. Thankfully email clients don’t work like packet sniffers else this mail would have reach spam folder directly, no questions asked.
Perhaps like we used to think during our college day the sender thought it’s mandatory to have an address in ‘To’ field and therefor it’s their name in the ‘To’ field while the addresses email id’s are shoved in the ‘BCC’ field.
2) ‘Greeting’: It’s basic courtesy (common sense?) to greet someone by their name (unless you are not sure about their name) when sending email and it’s even more important when you are sending mail to a blogger on behalf of a client. The last thing the recipient should think is if it’s a bulk email or worse spam.
Given the fact that recepients of such emails wouldn’t be numerous I don’t think it would have bee a tough job.
5 Tips for Writing Better Emails:
1) Don’t send bulk emails. And if you have to then don’t make it apparent that it’s a bulk email by addressing it like ‘Hi Bloggers’ or ‘Hi Guys’ .
2) Write personal emails:
Emails starting with just ‘Hi’, start on a fishy ground(unless you know the recipient)
Though the ‘To’ field here has your name unlike in example 1 above since it starts with just ‘Hi’, you can’t assume that this email is just being sent to you.
3) Avoid generic statements:
‘Your blog makes for very interesting reading’. That’s the kind of lines spammers use these days. Avoid them and insted writing something that seems more genuine and believable.
4) Be relevant/targeted:
Now that’s seriously lame. Thankfully they didn’t add neighbours and relatives to the list.
5) Have an opt-out link: If for whatever reason you plan to send emails to people regularly without asking them before hand at least have a link for them to opt-out from your emailing list.
As with other things finding bad examples is quite easy but finding good examples isn’t. Here’s an example of what could be called a better designed/structured email sent for the first time (to some email list I suppose)
Got some tips to share about writing better emails?
September 11, 2009 3 Comments
I did a small(or not so) 10 multiple choice question survey to get an idea about people’s book buying habits and here’s what came out of the survey which was taken by 100 people from across India. I didn’t seek too much demographic information other than the respondant’s city.
Of the 48 people who shared their cities 22 were from Delhi/NCR, 6 from Mumbai and Bangalore each and one, two from Udaipur, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Pune, Thane, Kochi etc
1) 43% of the respondants buy a book a month or so and 34% people buy a book every few months.
2) A good 50.5 % of respondants buy books from bookstores only and 7.1% buy online only.
3) 14.3% of the people who buy books online get about 10-15% discount and 11.2 % people get 5-10% and 15-20% discount each.
4) A little more than one fourth of people who buy books from bookstores get ‘No Discount’ and on the other hand about one fourth people get more than 15% discount.
5) More than 88 % people feel the delivery time for books is important and about 5% people are ok with waiting for more days as long as they get good discount.
6) Flipkart and Indiaplaza are the popular sites for buying books with 19.6% and 11.3% people respectively.
7) About 40% of people that buy books online get them delivered within a week or so
What has been your experience when it comes to buying books in India ? Anything you feel is missing ?
August 19, 2009 6 Comments
Here’s what I got to see in my recent login to kwippy blog’s wordpress console.
Web’s fun, thanks to these incidents
May 16, 2009 1 Comment
Towards the end of last year I realized that I was reading less than what I was, the year before that and a lot less than what I should have been. I’ve always been very selective about the books I pick to read, mostly because of the time constraints. So for me, finding new books worth reading is quite a serious exercise and this time instead of asking friends personally I thought of asking my online friends across various social networks to “recommend me book(s) to read and tell me why should I read it(them)” and I got some interesting replies.
Which books I choose to buy and read is a separate issue but what’s important is the scope of using various networks to know/learn/ask something. This is the best part of community where you can seek people’s opinions and advice on just about anything. Be it the book you want to read or where do you want to go out for vacations. LinkedIn has come out as a real surprise not only in the terms of number of replies that I got but who replied to my question. Out of the 11 guys that replied on LinkedIn I don’t know even a single one of the them. Does it mean people in my LinkedIn network are not active ? or does it mean that there are more people who pro-actively look for questions and answer them ?
Size of one’s network, how closely/tightly knit is one’s network, how discoverable are such questions to people, how are social actions shared across networks, how well does the platform support conversations are some of the factors that determine how good a social platform can be for asking questions/seeking advice. While some people use Q&A features or similar features on various sites effectively there are some exceptions. For ex: people asking personal questions on LinkedIn or instead of asking a question, wishing people festivals. Needless to say doing such things will not only irritate other users but it will also be bad for your reputation in that community/site. So please use these features and don’t abuse them.
Which one is your favorite platform for asking questions online and why ?
Here are the replies I got
Ekta replied “Hmmm for word play and yummy words…read ‘Ground beneath her feet’ by Salman Rushdie. For the sheer thrill, pick up any ‘Star wars’ Yuzhuan Vong series. If you like Indian authors, ‘You are here’ is a must read by Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan its the latest one I’ve read and I think for catharsis, its awesome.”
Saumya said “The Bell Jar by Silvia Plath. It’s brilliant, fascinating, and revealing in many ways”
Vipin recommended “Shantaram”
Manan said “Siddhartha by Herman Hesse is about a man’s spiritual journey. The Google Story is also interesting chronicles the inception and rise of Google.”
enigmatic recommended “CELESTINE PROPHECY”
theinfamousgdub said “East of Eden by John Steinbeck. This is the greatest book I’ve ever read. The nature of human agency is examined in an intensly thought-provoking way. It makes ya’ want t be a better person”
“Good Omens/Bad Omens – neil gaiman + terry prachett and a Paulo Coelho. I was pleasantly surprised.=)” – samantha
moosterz replied “The Pendragon series, if you like fantasy-time-traveling-battle action. xD and a book called More Information Than You Require by John Hodgman, the PC out of the switch ads. It’s an amazing book if you love to laugh” and
“Call of The Wild by Jack London” was recommended by markdavidson
nikitascene replied ” “The Things We Talk About When We Talk About Love” by Raymond Carver. He’s a master of the short story and a quintessential read if you’re interested in American fiction authors. “Letters to a Young Poet” by Ranier Maria Rilke since you seem to have a poetic soul. “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez for his mastery of magical realism and his ability to capture centuries in a moment and moments in a century.”
Here’s the link to that conversation http://www.kwippy.com/mayank/kwips/2008/dec/20/172959
Nikhil Wad recommended “Shantaram”
Edward Carrick recommended “The Energy Non-Crisis, by Lindsey Williams”
Martin Thomas recommended “Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books”
Josh Chernin recommended “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds”, by Charles Mackay”
“Five Point Someone by Chetan Bhagat” said Sanjay Jha
Arvind P replied “I strongly recommend Personality not included by Rohit Bhargava.Just check out the tag line and you will know why you should read it. It has many real life examples with tools to help you out. You may also try “A comedy of errors” a book on project management by Prasanna Kumar. A must read because you are a heading a startup”
Angela Connor said “Small is the new big, by Seth Godin.I am reading it now. You should read it because it makes you think. You will walk away with a million new ideas and this is a great time for that heading into a new year. I find it empowering and quite insightful.”
“English version of the Tamil book “Thirukural” ” was recommended by Virupakshan K
“The five book trilogy Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Sheer British lunacy at its best. Answers the questions about the End of The Universe and Life, The Universe And Everything. (The answer is 42, but the question is not what you might expect…) Also introduces you to Wonko the Sane and Slartybartfast. And Zaphod Beetlebrox. And Ford Prefect. (Mos Def is not the perfect Ford Prefect, by the way…) Fun to read, impossible to comprehend and you will never leave home without a towel” came from Bill Wright
Sumana Harihareswara replied “Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed and Left Hand of Darkness. I taught the latter in a sci-fi politics class. Classic feminist/political what-if sci-fi about understanding the Other and power structures. A Midwife’s Tale by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. Ulrich explains the cryptic diary of a colonial New England farmhouse wife and midwife. Combines the most gripping bits of “Little House” with historical analysis. The Bug by Ellen Ullman is the greatest novel about QA that I’ve ever heard of. It’s excellent, suspenseful, evocative, emotionally accurate, and technically plausible. Salon has an excerpt you can read online: link below. And The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon is a mystery, a sympathetic portrayal of an autistic teen from his point of view, and an adventure story all in one“
Link of the conversation: http://tr.im/7g65
January 15, 2009 1 Comment