Saturday, December 17, 2011

How many Investors do we need?

Every time I see an article saying only 10% of Indians invest in equity, the first question arises is why? Is equity the only way for a business to raise money? Being not a financial expert, I had to think this over without any conclusion. Only news I've been fed is equity gives more return compared to other investment. Gold is a different story, driven by demand. Demand? Yes, then equity driven by demand as well. More the people wanting to buy higher the price fo stock. Doesn't it get easier for companies to have higher evaluation when there are more investors, mainly small retail investors who may not have insider information. And of course easier for traders. More the foolish or novice investor more their profits. Does investor buy or sell every day? Every time trade volume goes down who complains? Just traders.

I'm finding debt or equity investment through mutual fund is a safer option. Assuming MF invests significantly in a business and has a say in decisions. Or would prefer higher interest for fixed deposits and let business borrow money from banks instead. Having low-interest rate is a push on us to invest in equity and less on safe fixed deposits or bank accounts?

Once investment decisions where simple, bank savings account or FD for long-term deposits. And now one had to make a complex decision from which company, fund manager, duration and all that crap. All this had created new kind of profession and pain for the rest.

P.S: This post is dedicated to all investors whose capital dwindled less than 50%.
Note: Trader in my definition is someone who makes money buying/selling in stocks as a profession.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Emptiness

How to define emptiness? Is it simply absence of something? Or absence of something's previous presence? Or either?

'Define' may not be the right word to question, how about 'perceive'? Emptiness remains the same.

When something is not perceived, does it imply absence of something? Emptiness is created, out of transient void? If so emptiness is what exist at the beginning. Gets filled in the same way water fill the void it flows through.

Emptiness is the big bang of mind? Filled as stuff we perceive? Emptiness is always there within us. Absence of something only exposes what exists before.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Platform Isles

Young technology is always disruptive. It's competetive but can be ugly for the consumers. Cloud services is in such an condition. What goes into these cloud services never comes out or comes out as useless.

First Google, good thing they support their services on all platforms but migrating out isn't easy as they would claim. Android can't even subscribe to webcal or import entries from exported calendar file, only way is to use google calendar. Fortunatley android contacts application can import from vCard file. Once the depednence on Google services increases, Android & Chrome is an natural choice.

Apple's iCloud is another problem. MobileMe used to sync contacts in address book and the contacts can also sync with Google/Yahoo & other sync services. But with iCloud either your contacts are in iCloud or on local. So one can't sync with iCloud & Google contacts at the same time. Same with iCloud calednar though it supports webcal one has to dig to fing the URL to subscribe in other calendar application. Once you upgrade to iCloud got to use all Apple products. Possibly an deliberate move to annoy people sync Android/GMail with Mac freely. Surprisingly iTunes provides choice to sync contacts from Google, Yahoo & Outlook.

Not much idea with Windows phone, but it'll support sync with Outlook & Windows Live. But MS phone manager for Mac has no option to sync contacts or calendar.

What I actually expected is to choose which cloud services I want and can change anytime as wanted. All this is possibly crippled with these free services. Only ones that work across platforms are paid services like Plaxo or sync products like MarkSpace, SyncMate. And still they are half-baked or don't work seamlessly. iCloud breaks both SyncMAte/MarkSpace contacts sync, unless contacts are moved back to local.

As of me, I had to export contacts from Mac to vCard file and import in Android every now and then. As for calendar tasks, I moved to RememberTheMilk. RTM has both Android/iOS apps and tasks can be subscribed in any calendar application. Buying iPhone makes more sense for the choice it provides in choosing other services.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Suppressive Regimes & External influence

Two war I had followed more closely till now have been NATO invasion on Afghanistan & Iraq. Both have similarities as well. People had no voting rights and say in governance in both the countries. And so would have been happy to see the regime fallen with them having to just stay in home and do nothing. Yes, democracy was given their hands. Whoever fighting against the governments were either killed or exiled. That makes a great reason for other countries to invade in the name of liberation. Afghanistan simply bought the war. Case was different for Iraq, it was WMD which where never found or British failed to place it.

So the question I've been asking myself, is it fair for a nation to get involved in internal of different nation?

Looking at how governments can suppress it own people and how army/police forces are controlled it might be impossible without support from another nation. Take Myanmar, until army is pushed out democracy will never return.

Looking at what happened in Egypt, suppressive regimes can be changed in fortnight with peaceful demonstration without much outside help. No blood shed but changing president alone solve anything? It may time will tell. Positive of it people have less to re-construct.

Throwing away government and re-building nation is easily said than done. Well, that depends on how big the nation is but certainly not the same how kings where thrown few centuries ago. Building nation on foreign aid cannot be a long term solution. Though not similar, how Iceland boldly faced financial crunch and recovered cannot be ignored. Being dependent on aid will never help unless the intentions are good if not another Iraq or Egypt is totally possible.

So yes, getting foreign help is fine but letting them dictate terms NO NO.

How these countries re-build and grow can only inspire people of similar nations and set example.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Government's IT services of poor quality?

Having worked in enterprise IT development & support, I pretty much knew how streamlined the IT support process are for customer care agents if they face any issues. Being used few Indian government IT services my experience is mixed, especially on how their IT support operate.

Filing income taxes online works smoothly. Try 'Contact Us' link by mailing to the support id provided, you'll never get back response. Their mission mantra is 'Use it while it works'.

BSNL is much better, may be because they were an ISP. Though their website is horrible it works mostly.

IRCTC has well known story about 8AM service. Better of all government related ones.

Tamilnadu electricity bills can be paid online. Trust me it's an luxury considering how their offices work. TNEB has enough manpower to collect bills in their offices but their internal IT infrastructure is unreliable. Two hours I waited to pay bill, thrice their network broke down 'Unable to connect to server'. And these guy don't contact IT support but refresh the page every 2 mins. That's how they operate to great inconvenience to consumers.

It's most possible few well known Indian IT companies may have provided these below average IT services. How do they take credit for these poor services?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sulekha.com favoring bad businesses

Internet is a boon for small businesses. Customers can easily find them using online classifieds. It's beneficial for consumers as well in finding better deals. But how do you trust these businesses? Will they provide quality service as claimed? Everyone ends with different experience and so we have a rating system to figure out what we can expect. But the rating system works assuming there are no manipulation like businesses creating dummy users. Ebay/Amazon rating system is better because of money transaction happening with every rating. That's not the case with classifieds and with Sulekha.com India's online classified. All you need is mobile number and email-id, let the manipulation begin. To make it worse Sulekha restricts negative reviews, only positive reviews gets published. Why? Aren't they supposed to protect consumer from bad businesses? The packers I dealt with are no way professionals. Shouldn't others knew about it. Three good reviews for the packers making them look genuine, very easily manipulated reviews.

All Sulekha had to say is -

Please note that currently we don’t have any option to write review about advertisers/responders. However, We have forwarded your feedback to the concerned department.

So its better to check about business before dealing with them especially when there isn't good review/rating system.

Anyways stay away from these  Amirtha packers & movers, not worth dealing with.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

3G spectrum auction good for Consumers?

Lot has been talked about India's 2G spectrum corruption. And the prices at which 3G spectrum were auctioned. 3G auction fetched government huge amount of revenue. Do these high 3G prices justified? Did Indian telecom companies over estimated 3G potential in India? Possibly YES.

Look at what 3G service cost in India - higher prices. Airtel best 3G data plan costs Rs.750 for 2GB of data. Canada's Rogers sells 2GB of data for 15 CAD i.e Rs.660. Hey wait, weren't we supposed to have the cheapest telecom prices in world. So will Indian consumers buy such services who are already used to monthly charges of less than Rs.500. Highly unlikely. How many we knew use 3G? None, a friend of my colleague does and few more colleagues use 3G data card but on their mobile phone.

Unless telecom companies trick younger generation to buy expensive 3G plans like bundling with iPhone, they are gonna have hard time recovering money spent in 3G auction. As for me, will buy 3G when prices fell less than Rs.500.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Ubuntu on desktop is doomed?

Fun, Challenging, Flexible and Unique. This is how I'll summarize my experience with Linux on desktop. Did I do anything useful with it? No, I was tinkering it all of the time to make it work & fit my need.

As an OS Linux beat MS windows but loses out to when it comes to applications. There was never an proper application for mail, Evolution was crap so was Thunderbird. I never liked Thunderbird and always disliked application running on XUL mostly for the fact they don't look native for the same thing I don't use Amarok on Gnome. No proper photo management app till Yorba released ShotWell. Same with media players, until Banshee (I'm ok with mono). OpenOffice works, nothing fancy but annoying on how it does things. AbiWord was better.

Problem for Ubuntu is they have no control of any of these applications or the feature the application offer and their quality. Without quality application OS can't win. Same is happening with Ubuntu, all these years Ubuntu has improved but the application they bundle haven't.

Major hurdle for Ubuntu is the hardwares support especially laptops. Most of the newer laptop model with nvidia Optimus doesn't play well in Ubuntu. Ubuntu can't win users expecting us to hunt working drivers. Ubuntu had taken MS approach to support all known motherboard, CPU & graphics card on planet. I prefer Apple approach of being selective on hardware choices.

Again Ubuntu has no control on hardware manufacturer support for Linux. So had to wait for someone in Linux community to write an drive that works mostly.

With little control on hardware & software it uses, how can Ubuntu win? It can stay alive though.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Half-heartedness

Looking back at bad decisions, most where made when things where like cat on the wall. To call heads or tails? Pick one out of luck? Half-hearted bad decisions are the worst. Bad decision taken in full control never felt bad that bad.

Patience helps in overcoming half-hearted decisions. Not all the times it was required to hurry on the decisions. But never give a commitment. Remember my school trip where I decided to join on the last day, waiting for an impulse to take a decision. Too much of waiting can erode the options and end with no options at all, so need to take a decision at all.

In most cases problem seems to be the fact none of the options where attractive enough to decide. But still had to pick one. Better option will be to skip it all together? Choosing best out of worst isn't easy but not that difficult. Accepting reality is. And there are always more ways than what people say.

Have you taken any half-hearted decision and felt bad later?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Disconnecting Airtel Landline/Broadband?

India is diversified. So does Indian telecom companies. Reliance the untrustworthy company sending false/hidden charges. BSNL with poor customer service. Tata telecom which no one recommends. Airtel has somehow got people opinion as a good service provider with good customer service.

As customer base explodes overall customer experience comes down. How a company manages growth but also keeping existing customer happy explains how the company will perform in long term.

Door step service, let it be mobile or broadband connection Airtel is really good in this game. Moment you SMS/Call Airtel for new connection one could expect an activated broadband connection in an day. Same happened with me 3 years back and continues. But what has changed in customer support after purchasing the connection. To get the proper support either you had to call daily or try to disconnect the connection.

First time when I changed my broadband plan, all it took was 2 days. After years it has become 5 working day but in reality nothing happened for two weeks. Once I start talking about termination, I became an special customer now promised to change broadband plan in 1 day and discounts for next three months. Huh.

Didn't take any discounts from Airtel but instead I moved to BSNL. Why? I was able to get new BSNL connection in 3 days, not bad. And for an better price than Airtel. Bottom-line getting new connection is easier and cheaper in most cases.

Having disconnected now I become an evil customer. It's even impossible to get status if connection was terminated and what's the settlement bill amount. I waited for couple of weeks and nothing. And then a letter from Airtel, that I had return modem/phone in person to their office as per agreement within seven days. Failing so Airtel will take legal action. Another reason to read agreements especially about termination. Fortunately had an Airtel office nearby. Those guys even want an non-working modem back.

Good thing I wasn't sent any bill afterwards. Reliance was sending bills post termination beyond termination to one of my friend.

BSNL service isn't bad as I had imagined. All good so far but please upgrade support system, looks really ancient. But works.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bible rated 12+

Casually searching MAC app store to see how many religious application are out there and found a daily reading bible application. Not surprisingly the application is rated 12+ for

  • Infrequent/Mild Realistic Violence

  • Infrequent/Mild Alcohol, Tobacco, Drug Use or References to these

  • Infrequent/Mild Sexual Content or Nudity

This only raises the point, Do Christians quote Bible selectively leaving out things they aren't comfortable with.

robmilleniumfix1.png

Comic Source

 


Sunday, February 27, 2011

I just didn't mean to say ONLY hello

Most emotional part of life is when I had to say bye to people. Mostly not knowing if I'll meet them again. More often it does. And also places.

Every time I had to move to an different company or coming out of college/company there is always an excitement about what's going to happen next till the moment of departing. Last few days and hours are when I thoughts of what I'm gonna miss keeps haunting. I'm glad to hold more than few friendship through these changes.

As far Indian IT is concerned, onsite can bring good fortune money wise. Moving to a new country acquiring new friends is always exciting. Still remember my first trip to UK. Full of excitement and big smile with an empty bank account hoping to fill it. On the way to airport is when emotional part of me showed its not so pretty face. Out of nowhere thoughts of why I had to move out of India to a different place strike me down. Lot of thoughts were going on those 20 minutes to airport. All it took was few days in UK to get out of that. Same happened moving out of UK, never knowing if I'll come to this country again. Got used so much to UK and the only country I had ventured out of India, UK holds a special place. Nothing beats it.

After an year and an missed opportunity to Switzerland, here I am in Canada for more than a year now. And emotional part of me still thrives. It's wholly my choice to go back but that doesn't take away anything from Canada. Winter here sucks but still I'll miss it. Almost packed, all set to go and had to got through this again. Will miss playing tennis for sure.

It's hard to predict what life has in store for us. That is what makes life interesting and also sucks. All of these trips out of home definitely had impact on ways I do think and definitely on how I react. Definitely made me realize the liberal & free thinking part of me.

Two big breaks and back in home. All is well to move forward in life.

P.S -  Meeting friends, partying helps a lot. And faster broadband.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Indian Black Money holders - Chintan Gandhi

Continuation of my previous post trying to figure who all black money holder as leaked by Tehelka.

May be I'm searching a bit late after most out of those 18 removed all of their references from internet, searching most of the names gives irrelevant or leads to unrelated persons. Or most of these work behind the scenes.

Only real link I was bale to find about Chintan Gandhi is an old article from Apr'10. A third generation entrepreneur, so he already had inherited a lot. Involved in natural healthcare products, LCD screens & pharmaceuticals.

Google cannot find nothing more than this. Looks I'm searching in wrong places. Are these 18 small fishes in an big ocean?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Indian Black Money holders - Manoj Dhupelia

TEHELKA last week released 15 of India's top black money holders. After going through the list realized I didn't even heard about none of those. So it's time do some research on them. Lets start with Manoj Dhupelia.

He is founder of V B Desai Financial Services Limited invalid in merchant banking and company is publicly listed. Surprisingly his name is no longer listed as founder of company, as per website. Google archive of the page as on 28-Jan lists Manoj Dhupella as one of founder of the company. Interestingly other founder Late Mr VB Deasi was member of BSE and consultant of RBI.

Manoj Dhupelia is member of Kolkatta stock exchange. CSE website lists MONOJ DHUPELIA & MONOJ DHUPELIA STOCK BROKING SERVICES PVT.LTD as members. I presume MONOJ is wrongly written.

Isn't it conflict of interest to be member of a stock exchange and also run own brooking service?

Self-ad marketing - cheat the search engines & sell the product

One way application developers publicize their products is by requesting reputed website to write an honest review of their product. For most of Mac apps I go with MacWorld, MacApp storm and then few forums. Introduction of Mac App store changes this game a bit, as user can write their review which can either crush the app to bottom or make is #1. Still Google results does matter. So blogs do matter to determine what shows up at top of result.

Last week was looking for an application to clean up Genre/Artist/Album mess I have in my library. And one app showed up o top Tidy songs. App was reviewed by maskable , makeuseof and few more reputed sites. But what showed up as first result for generic search 'iTunes Genre cleanup' was this website. If you look at the sites achieve you'll find all of their posts is about one thing 'TidySongs'. All this to make sure TidySongs comes as first Google result.

If the app is worth the money is different issue. But how will you trust such a company or developer indulging in such a shady activity?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

iPhone App store policy good or bad?

Apple responds: we want a cut of Amazon, Sony e-book sales: "We are now requiring that if an app offers customers the ability to purchase books outside of the app, that the same option is also available to customers from within the app with in-app purchase"

(Via .Ars)

 

Apple fan boys will not complain, haters obviously will. But does this policy fair enough?

Bad side,

  • 30% of revenue will goto Apple. Amazon has their own payment system and will eat their profit.

  • No way to skip iPhone app store to install apps. Other option is to provide html5 app like Google. Will users like it?

No real good side to this policy other than Apple maintain control over iPhone eco-system and revenues. For an fair argument,

  • Why should user had to buy content outside app store? No harm is in-app purchasing? Amazon doesn't work with Paypal in similar terms.

As per this policy Kindle directing purchases to browser had to be banned as well. I see two problems here,

  1. Purchases made through Amazon Kindle or Sony eReader can be accessed through their application alone. And both of them don't have any app for Linux.

  2. Apple control of iPhone apps and no way to install apps without jail breaking. Mac's are lucky being able to install via Mac App store or by regular means.

We are looking at content owner and distribution owner in arms. Will it impact users of iOS, definitely will not. Both Amazon & Sony had to play by terms of Apple or users will move away to iBooks.

Amazon/Sony aren't angels to be supported and they care about money just like Apple. Thanks all three corporations for making an interesting new.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Five

Watching 'How I met your Mother' the whole day and noticed an pattern on number of characters on TV shows, the hit ones.

Friends - 6 characters and story revolves around them and 4 end up as couple

Big Bang theory - 5 characters, including penny.

How I met your Mother - 5 characters, one couple in that, so far. I'm still on season 3 episode 15

Lost - 5 main characters, not including Juliet. There are other important characters though.

Logically handful of characters has to be manageable for story writers and also the producers. Downside story can't branch out like the Indian mega serials.

Is 5 an natural choice for story writers? Does it also has something to do with human psychology? No matter how many friends we have in Facebook, not all of them aren't close enough. And how people we interact on an daily basis? Pretty much in 4-6 range! Ofcourse the answer varies oh how one describe 'friends'.

Five had to be an magical limit in some way or rather. Just an thought I'm still chewing...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Human Brain has TRIM support?

After reading two unrelated posts on ArsTechnica, my brain thinks they could be similar leading to another post trying to relate them.

Recalling memories while asleep helps lock them in place: "Memories can also get replayed while we sleep, which is thought to influence their long-term storage. A study released over the weekend suggests that recall during sleep has a completely different effect from conscious recall."

So human brain recollects all crappy things we had experienced all day, tries to delete unwanted ones and archives the ones which are relevant. This explains why I remember the girl in another floor but not my manager. And why staying awake long tires the brain, archiving running parallelly?

Ask Ars: Of solid state drives and garbage collection: "most SSDs engage in 'idle' or 'background' garbage collection"

SSD's seems to be doing similar stuff as brain. Keep writing data as long space is available and delete them later when idle. All is done to improve SSD life.

Both brain & SSD seems to be doing idle garbage collection without the user knowing about it.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mac Adress Book date field annoyances

Mac works! It really does. Like any software Mac has its own annoyances. One  strong point for buying Mac is how well bundled softwares are integrate and with iDevices. Sometimes this can lead to annoyances caused by system wide settings or settings changed by different application.

I love to keep things organized. Took a lot of pain organizing my GMail's address book. Mac's address book did a good job of syncing with GMail contacts including birthday's. Untill one day when no longer I could edit or add year field for birthday's. Crazy!! New contacts end up with default year '2000' reminding of Y2K. All of new contacts got younger making me look old.

Googling led to a discussion with one suggesting to delete address book preferences. Tried and nothing worked. Next stop is Apple support. Initial support person I guess was going by pre-written instructions - clearing preferences & caches. Nothing worked. One thing got confirmed, issue has something to do with my user account. She couldn't help and had to call a senior support engineer but had a solid 10-15 min wait time providing me some time to debug on my own. I hate when tech supports give me instructions like I'm using computer for the first time!! It's their product anyways!!

Recollecting what I had changed that would have caused the issue, stumbled across date preference which I did customize few weeks back. Short date format wasn't much different from long date format. Looked odd to me, so customized short date to include only month & day. As I said earlier Apple's software are well-integrated, address book is using short date format while editing but displays them in long date format. Inconsistency, definitely a bug in my eye.

Pics as it happened,

[slideshow]

Sad original discussion on this is archived, I can't add the solution to it.