Monday, August 31, 2009

The Zen of shopping

Today I went out shopping. For the first time in my life I noticed so many people wanting to buy something or the other.
If there was one thing common among them, it was this – they were all in a hurry. They had stopped listening;
instead all they wanted was to get the thing that they wanted, no matter what.

Nobody seemed to care about the person (the store merchant) sitting across taking their orders. They just want it.
And they want it now. For a moment I thought that the Supermarkets are a better place where you can pick up what you want
without any middleman. The only person you have to encounter is the checkout cashier.

But what do these middlemen (in non supermarkets) bring to the table.

a) Expert knowledge about the market
b) Helping us get a product in one place rather than going all around the supermarket with a trolley
c) Interact with us in real time about products and related topics

To sum it, it is personalization at a gross level. I call it gross because the merchant still doesn’t know you intimately.
But he will, with the help of technology in the near future. Technology is going to be the edge for the merchant
as he differentiates his service better than a supermarket. Otherwise people are going to walk into that mall
and buy what they want. No consulting.

Anyway, the other thing that struck me was how people don’t listen attentively to the expert
(here the merchant being the person) They just browse through some points that satisfies them instead of engaging
in a discussion. I think that is probably because of lack of time.

According to me decisions made in hurry can be wrong ones. If only we had the patience to listen and by that I mean
willing to be slow, and let time take its own time, till what is revealed is pure satisfaction coming out of insight,
will we be actually content. Learning not inorganically but step by step and enjoying it too.

A beautiful world for all of us going round and round in circles
– is there an end ? Did it have a beginning ? You guessed it.



Sunday, August 30, 2009

People are unique, not equal - one side of the story

“All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others”

This is the catch phrase in the Orwellian classic ‘Animal Farm’. Think about it. Is this true? From a demographical point of view this statement holds good. From a biological view, it doesn’t. When we look at this statement at a very basic level (in fact a level 0 interpretation) we can argue that we are all made up of DNA, the building block of life. Assume for a moment that we all are made up of DNA and don't look at differences in the DNA. Think at a fundamental level. We could have gone deeper and say that we are made of Carbon. Can we now safely presume that for all carbon based living beings (including the tobacco-mosaic virus), the primary instinct of survival and replication are hardwired? We know that alphabets in a word can be strung together to form words that mean different. In the same way, at an abstract level, the rules of the game change, but, at a very fundamental level we are all the same.

Look at democracy. At a vital level it does not seem to seem to support the tenet. However, it does when you apply segmentation to it. But imagine now for a moment that a vote is being cast by 2 people. An illiterate farmer and a Ph.D. They have the same voting rights. Not just that. Their votes count also the same. Now some may feel that this practice is alright. But what happens to millions of votes which are purchased on ‘muscle’ power or obtained as a kickback. Now we have an honest vote and a dishonest vote. But all end up in the count as a ‘vote’. Is this fair? A vote should not be binary. Because, it’s not the vote that matters, but the people behind it who do. And people are unique, not equal.

In the same way, you cannot compare a Nokia mobile with a iPhone. Both are used for communication, but the applicability varies. And so does the design. At a basic level both of them may be using the same chip to process voice, but the final outcome is different. We term it as user experience, which once again is subjective. Let us not try to compare apples with oranges. However we always do this. The moment we get hold of two things that looks or feels similar , we tend to compare. Two things: Absolute and relative. The former is intrinsic in nature and holds the same weight age across the universe. But perceptions fall under the latter category. And the world that we see is nothing but a perceived view of an underlying hypothesis.

To get to point ‘B’ from ‘A’ on the same train, it pretty much looks like standard transport. But one person is trying to get to ‘B’ while another is running away from ‘A’. For a third person point 'B' may be a stop-over. Needs vary and this is time dependent. In the same way, perceptions also vary with time. What may have been true in the last 10 years may not hold good after 10 years.

But one thing is there: the stars will keep shining; the rivers would flow; the trees would rustle in the wind, whether we treat things equal or otherwise …



Saturday, August 29, 2009

Recession. Depression, Uncertainity

Recession. Depression, Uncertainity. People losing jobs. Banks losing money. Stimulus package by governments. Markets at all time lows.

And some people say that the worst is not yet over.

In these unsure times, fear creeps into peoples minds, faster than ice cream melts. If there was a pill for giving peace of mind (rule out Prozac) that would take off beyond doubt. These are times for introspection; restructuring and thinking of making dreams come true. If you are in an existing business, this is the right time to expand as rates are low and people are reasonable.

Today, for any organization there would be 3 things on the top of their list

1. Cost Cutting
2. Improving Efficiency
3. Increasing Revenue

These are trying times. The wheat and chaff would be conspicuous in any organization in a while. And hence the stars who multitask and give more bang for the buck would keep their jobs for sure. One thing apparently good, would be that productivity would zoom and valuations of companies will return back to alignment. Speculations would be low like inflation and value would trump over price as a measure of quality.

Free markets would get a socialist tinge and governments all over the world will intervene more into corporate affairs. Surely, a good thing to happen, if they act as responsible regulators.

Whatever happens the old adage to believe in is 'Everything happens for the best'. If a door closes for you, God certainly would open another door for you. What we need is perseverance and willingness to work. As long as we keep trying we are sure to hit the jackpot in a while.

People seem to equate the jackpot to riches. Well, money is no doubt important but more importantly pray for good health and peace of mind.

You may lose money, but if you lose faith in yourself that is possibly the worst thing that can happen.

So get cracking and enjoy the ride while you are at it.

God Bless


Friday, August 28, 2009

The Weapon Delusion

The weapon delusion

One of the biggest spenders for any economy is their defence budget. I fail to understand the idea behind piling up weapons. Maybe it’s an insecurity. Because just having the latest and the greatest weapons does not make a country powerful. It is the happiness quotient that matters. For any country- no matter how the demographics are, the point to be noted is how happy do the citizens feel ? How safe do they feel ? Is help available easily ? Does everyone get the basic necessities ? Is the economy on inclusive growth?

In computer parlance, every program has a goal of happiness. This is true when the program is being used the way it was supposed to be. Any variations like mistakes does not fulfil its original goals. Hence it becomes unhappy – oh I mean the person using it. Of course programs don’t feel or do they ?

A country piles up so many weapons to threaten the foes. It’s like me using MS Word. All I require as a writer is an editor , a spell checker and a thesaurus. And the remaining 98% features of this wonderful program remains unused. It’s like buying C4- when all I require is a small firecracker.

I honestly think that weapons piling up (which can destroy the planet maybe 100 or more times) in a country is a sign of derangement. I’m not saying that weapons are not required. For the cops they do require some ammunition. But keeping a military force to fight with other countries is a big waste. They should assist the police to keep law and order everywhere. In the past there were no countries. We made the differentiation, and we built the weapons. Man against man – and who has the best weapon wins – or does he really ? If I’m not wrong, one of the commandments is ‘Thou shall not kill’ – whatever happened to that ...

Anyway I think that most of us suffer from Amnesia ,and before I forget I wish every person happiness always but don’t blame me if I forget, because I’m also suffering from Amnesia.



Thursday, August 27, 2009

Swine Flu equivalent in technology

Swine Flu equivalent in technology

There is so much news about Swine Flu that we forget to note the following facts:

1. Swine Flu is just like a computer virus
2. Instead of infecting a computer it infects a human being
3. Like antivirus which eradicates viruses (techno speak), the medicine for Swine Flu has been identified (TamiFlu and others)
4. The equivalent medicines in Computer World are antivirus software like McAfee, AVG etc.
5. Swine Flu spreads through air. Computer Viruses spread through a network (mostly)
6. Swine Flu lives for 2-8 hours if it does not find a suitable host.
Computer Viruses live for as long as they are not eradicated by an Antivirus.
7. Swine Flu has a signature just like Computer Viruses do.
8. Swine Flu and Computer Virus if treated early will not be fatal.
9. Swine Flu does not infect all people. Some people have a stronger immune system.
Similarly, in a Computer if you keep the Antivirus updated, it won’t get infected. Good Health is Wealth,
as they say.
10. At any point of time there may not be enough awareness about the Flu, which may erupt as some freaky case.
As in Computer Viruses which are not yet classified and tackled.

P.S: The points mentioned above may not be entirely true due to my limited knowledge about the Flu