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Showing posts from March, 2007

The dangers of an MBA

Umm...more than a week of blog-less days. There goes yet another resolution.:)
As one of the reading for this class, I read this chapter (When Talk Substitutes For Action) from this book (The Knowing-Doing Gap).

BTW, isn't Google Print awesome!?

The take-away from the chapter: that business school can be dangerous in that it can leave MBAs believing that victory is merely successfully articulating a good idea. The case method and discussions help foster that view. I've definitely observed that in myself and many (if not most) of my peers. Success is seen in successfully arguing for one's own point of view and intelligence or cleverness is being able to cut down someone else's point.

The chapter also notes the tragedy that it is easier to appear smart by disagreeing with someone rather than agreeing with them. I've caught myself doing (and actually done) this literally hundreds of times. Some of this skepticism is necessary to test the idea on the table, but is some o…

Is Mike Graduating?

I've loved PhDComics ever since I came to the US in 2000. It rings so true if you've ever been in graduate school (not b-school though:))
Based on the way the storylines of the two principal characters are proceeding though, I can't help wondering if Jorge is bringing the strip to a close? Here's a good link to get you started on the strip.

Update: Jorge just blogged that that's not the case. If Mike and Cecilia graduate though, the world will not quite be the same.

Quick reviews: The Namesake, The Search, 300, Stranger Than Fiction, Second Life, Green Wing

The Namesake:Caught this one on Monday. I liked it. It works as a character study, though I couldn't help shaking the feeling that this probably worked better as a novel. Tabu and Irfan Khan are fantastic, but that's the best part of the movie.

The Search:
About half way through this one, and I love it. It's extremely well-written and informative. It does an excellent job of going over the history of Search, the various search/advertising business models and the personalities involved. Battelle does a great job of explaining stuff without dumbing it down. This one on the other hand reads more like the screenplay for a telemovie. In case you're wondering: future employment at a firm does increase my interest in it.:)

300: Whoa! Awesome!! I ended up seeing it in IMAX, which was a smart move. As long as you're not looking for subtlety in any form, you'll love this movie. Everything is over the top, but what a rush!

Stranger Than Fiction: Interesting, and watchable. B…

Dogding Twitter

So I signed up for Twitter and Dodgeball this week, in my continuing quest to try new consumer Internet stuff. It's too early for me to have strong opinions on either system, and I don't have enough friends on either to give the features a fair go.

But this article over at TechCrunch, sums up what I've learnt about both services so far. This article makes a strong case for why Twitter may be a playing a slightly different game from dodgeball though...

Oh, and the name dodgeball reminded me of this incredibly funny/stupid movie.

Sporting a Fantasy!

Yikes! My post titles have officially reached the heights of try-to-make-a-related-pun-but-fail-spectacularly with this one.

Anyway, the Cricket World Cup is on, and the usual downs and less frequent ups associated with being an Indian cricket fan continue. But what's new for me this time was that I got involved in a fantasy cricket league. I've always known what fantasy leagues are, but had never joined one before. Somehow I never really though it'd be something I'd enjoy too much; almost joined a friend's NBA league once, but then got lazy...

Anyway, I ended up joining this league that a friend set up for the World Cup, and now I suddenly get it! I'm caring about matches that I would've earlier never even known had taken place. I'm checking up how I did compared to everyone else in my friend's league, even though I know it's not going to look good. I'm kicking myself for not manipulating my transfers optimally, even though I know I'm n…

Quick Reviews: Zodiac and Pan's Labyrinth

Caught this last week (or maybe the week before.) Pretty good movie! Works as a thriller, works as the multiple character studies. The cast is pretty awesome and you're riveted all through. Thumbs up!

Pan's Laybrinth:
Caught this one today. I loved it! Every single minute! Wow! I realized at the end of the movie, I'd been so into it, I'd even forgotten to drink my soda.:)
In different places the movie leaves you smiling, cringing, looking away in horror and/or disgust, and by the end of it all, genuinely feeling for almost every single character in the movie. It strikes just that right balance between a fairy tale and a grim reality, leaving you never quite sure what you believe or want to believe.It bears repeating: Wow!

Time Crisis 3: Since, I spent almost half as much playing this game as I did on the movie (both times), it deserves a review too.:)

Pretty awesome! Huge upgrade on the original. You get multiple weapon options and the action scenes are a very sli…

Great Scott!

I just remembered that I loved comics; and not just the ones in the papers; real comic book stories with superheros and stuff. Think almost, but not quite a graphic novel.

Growing up I don't remember anything else that captivated me as much! As Jerry Seinfeld put it:

"For boys: Superman, Batman, Spiderman; these aren't fantasies. They're career options."

Somehow, somewhere I just stopped reading them. A significant part of yesterday was spent in rekindling my interest.
Oh, I spent the rest of day recovering from Finals.:)

I have mostly Scott McCloud to thank for rekindling my interest, and of course Prof Davis' suggested reading list for leading me to the site. Trust me to first zero in on a book called "Understanding Comics".

So why did I just suddenly stop reading comics? I think it was an availability issue. I kept reading the "Archie" that I could easily pick up in my neighbourhood library, the Tintin and Asterix titles that I always had, th…

Ways I wasted time yesterday...

... while I was supposed to be getting stuff done.:)

I thought Tetris was the most addictive game around, then I found Snake, thanks to this post over at MobileCrunch.

Also I didn't know who Sonu Kakkar was, until I realized she's the voice behind 2 of the three songs I can't get out of my head since yesterday. YouTube links below. Hope you get to em before the lawyers do.:) (BTW: Arguments for and against the Viacom lawsuit.)

In case you're wondering, yes all it takes for me a like a song is a silly backbeat.:)
Update: For some reason there's "adult content" warning on one of them though it played on Indian national TV, pretty much whenever.

Consumers (like me) are just weird...

... which makes the marketer's job harder than it should be.

Take for example my decision to finally install Google Desktop.
Did I do it because I saw the benefits of all my data being indexed and so very searchable? Did I do it because maybe I wanted to use their cross-desktop file-sharing system (don't ask!)
Hell no!

I tend to be able to find files on my computer and when I can't Microsoft's default "Find" thingy does an adequate job.

Quite frankly, there are many files on my computer that I never, ever want entering any index ...ever. Just so we're clear absolutely never..ever.....absolutely never...ever...ok, I'll stop.

So why did I install it? Cricket.
The World Cup started yesterday and I wanted to install the Cricket Google Gadget.

So what did I learn from observing my own behavior (besides that fact that I'm weird)? That you never know what will make a consumer adopt a product, and so it's useful to try to develop an ecosystem around it. A cla…

Net stupidity?

Got to this story, via Alootechie (a site I'm partial to only cos it's name is so geekily silly:))
Apparently this was in response to "limited participation in social and cultural activity" by the students of (and because of a recent suicide at) IIT Bombay (incidentally why isn't it calling itself IIT Mumbai now that the city has been renamed? And why isn't there a IIT Chennai? Think they're concerned about losing brand value? or will there be just too much work involved in changing web addresses?:))

Argh..I digress a lot.

Anyway, the Dean of the School decided to ban Internet access in the hostel rooms from 11pm to 12:30pm. That's right: for more than half the day. I have a simple question. How can people in charge of the education of some of the smartest kids in a country (and arguably the world) do something so incredibly boneheaded? And how are they getting away with it? Seriously?:)
What's next? Banning access to all books because some students …

Satyajeet = सत्यजीत

Oh dear God!! This is so frikking cool, I'm not sure what to do. I'll probably rarely use this, but I can't even believe the technology is good enough to do this, and to see it rolled out and integrated in to Blogger!!! And so easy to use!! Whoa...

The feature is Transliteration and I learnt about it at ContentSutra (that's a good name for an Indian tech site; almost as good as Alootechie:))

Anyway, I should explain. Look at the heading. I just typed in "Satyajeet", but with the push of one button it became सत्यजीत .
It's not the perfect translation into Devnagri, but it's pretty damn close! Now, I've really lost the ability to write in Devnagri; well not really, but I probably write at the level of a 10-12 year old (and not a very bright 10-12 year old.) I wrote two Hindi plays once in college and though the dialogue was all in Hindi, I had to write it in the Roman script, because writing in Devnagri would have taken me too long. Someone later t…

Staying the online course

A friend's post led me this article. The short story: MIT continues to extend OpenCourseWare: their site that puts all MIT course material online. By the end of the year every MIT course; that's every single MIT course (all 1800 of em) will have its course material online. (I need to snoop around there more now; it's been almost 2 years since I last poked around the site.)

This is mostly just course material (syllabus, homeworks, readings, reference lists, lecture slides), and as far as I can tell not too many courses still have video streams of lecures online yet, but I hope that keeps increasing. For example, the SCPD at Stanford keeps the videos of classes that are available to professionals online for the general public for the first month of the quarter (then you need a password.) However, some classes and many public lectures are online for free.

For some courses admittedly there is limited value in having just the material online, but I think it's important to sh…

The Death of Internet Radio?

I learnt something cool about the way the economics of Internet Radio work today. Too bad the entire industry had to get into danger (BusinessWeek link) for me to get a chance to read about it.

I picked it up at GigaOM, and then BlogMaverick (the one remaining concern I have about the Dallas Mavericks:)).

So here's the super-distilled version without the actual numbers:

The entity that sets the royalty rates for streaming songs is the Copyright Royalty Board (which represents those much loved people: the RIAA). It upped the royalty rate from $0.0008 per performance to $0.0011 per performance this year, rising all the way to $0.0019 in 2010. The upshot is, given listening patterns and current subscription rates, (or rates available for ads served) there is just no way most streaming Internet radio sites are going to be able to stay in business. This obviously hurts the smaller stations the most, especially since they lost the option of paying as a percentage of revenue (and now have …

Tenure debate

I don't do very well with posting comments to blog posts. My tendency tends to be to take time and passively process what I've read. I also feel like any argument that I'd need to make on a blog would need me to sit back and think for a while to check if there are any loopholes in my logic.
Sitting back and thinking (with occasional bouts of day-dreaming), and the immediate, quick responses needed to write a reasonable comment don't really go together, so I surprised myself by actually writing in the comments section on Prof. Levitt's post on tenure. He proposes doing away with the practice, and I think that goes too far. Here's my principle argumentsagainst it.

Hey, advertising between videos works!

...and it can be kinda cool too.

OK, latest way to waste time: "Brothers and Sisters" on ABC's online site. The show isn't exactly riveting, but I'm still kinda riveted. It's very family-ish, and I tolerate Calista Flockhart, like Rachel Griffiths and some of the other cast, so I'm along for the ride. The show is kinda like a PG-rated, less interesting, more sappy and less controversial version of Six Feet Under.

But what's almost more interesting to me are the advertisements in between. Each episode has a different sponsor: Intel, Toyota, Fidelity etc., and the few spots in between sections of the show (the equivalent of the commercial break) are each 30 seconds long and I thought were more effective than a TV ad might have been. Some of them were straight commercials, but others were creative little games that you couldn't help getting engaged in.

The take-away is they did provide (warning: MBA phrase coming) "more value" to the advertis…