Lahore Attack on Sri Lankan Cricket Team

March 14, 2009 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: misc 

The Lahore ambush attack on  Sri Lankan cricket team en route to Gaddafi Stadium, being the first for cricketing world was shell shocking  and has quite a few implications-

1. Not very unusually  we will start with a hindsight ! – Security for the cricketers was lacking. Given the significance  any tour to Pakistan has due to teams objecting to tour Pakistan because of security reasons, any tour becomes high profile from the security point of view.  It is hard to believe that the security provided  was ‘ presidential level’  and that was what it was supposed to be.
2. It puts serious question marks over other teams touring Pakistan in near future.     Bangladesh and New Zealand have already called off their tour to Pakistan. Bilateral tournament in neutral venues seem to be the best option as of now.  How long is ‘near future’ depends a lot on political and administrative stability in Pakistan but it could be anything between 2 to 4 years.

3. Expect some hiccups for world cup 2011,  especially  the matches which are to be hosted in Pakistan, you can always argue either way but  chances are pretty bleak that Pakistan will host them. These will have to be shifted to other countries in the sub continent. India being the foremost choice.  With respect to India  I believe given monetary clout of BCCI and past security history (note the order!) they will be able to convince other boards about extra security. More so because ,  IPL for this year doesn’t seem to have run into lot of roadblocks (other than the ones due to general election in India) and in all likelihood will take place with minor changes.

4. As for other tournaments in India, and given the England came after Mumbai attack – it seems that will continue same way, unless God forbid something unpleasant happens.

5.  Primary point is this though –  this state of Pakistan Govt and cricket administration  is bad for Pakistan cricket and world cricket. You can argue that Pakistan is very often an unpredictable and inconsistent team but can’t deny the fact that they produce extra ordinary talents.  Cricket would have been poorer without Javed Miadad’s street smartness, Imran Khan’s cricketing acumen ,Waqar Younis’s rawness, Wasim  Akram’s genius, Saqlin Mustaq’s doosra and Sohaib Akhtar’s flair. World deserves more of them. We can only hope that the situation in Pakistan improves.

BIG !dea

February 5, 2009 by · 2 Comments
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Om Malik of gigaom fame writes that big ideas

” redefine our notions about certain technologies, but they also change our behavior and cause massive disruption.”

Bob Warfield of smoothspan blog reinforces the same with some witty quotes –

It’s tough to be a big company. As Rodney Dangerfield used to say, “They don’t get no respect.”

and beats the perpetual target Microsoft when it comes to innovation. –

I’ve heard it all before.  The best example, back when people used to talk much about it, was Microsoft.  “What is Microsoft going to innovate?” became, “When is Microsoft going to innovate?” which ultimately became, “Microsoft doesn’t innovate.”

This thought gels very closely with the idea of disruptive technology, roughly an innovation that is unexpected, not thought of. Best signified by Henry Ford’s view on “Ford Model T” –

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
This also underlines the fact that it becomes difficult for big corporations to think out of box because in the process of becoming big they very often create a (big) box around them and for every change they have to think about thousand more things – how will such and such thing will be affected.

Bob Warfield puts incredible innovations of Xerox and Bell Labs to the fact that they were lucky to have a bunch of innovators all in one place for a time, but there should be something more about culture, which encouraged and nurtured it over a period of time. Not worrying about result should be one of them, the moment you start thinking ‘how it will be useful to X( shareholders) probably you have lost it’ . In the long run it may turn out to be useful or profitable but to create it that should not be the driving point. It must be driven by a passion an extreme passion to contribute  to change the world in a telling way, not caring much about what others think or say of it.

Fishes swim, birds fly, startups fail !

January 27, 2009 by · 6 Comments
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Last Friday and Saturday I was mostly at  proto I don’t have very structured summary but I’ll jot down few points which I still remember:

1. One of the outstanding session in my opinion was the WATBlog panel on ” Lessions Learnt from the Failures of Startups”. It stands out primarily because of level of openness shown and shared by the panelists – Rohit Agarwal, Suresh Sambandam, K.Ganapathy Subramanian and Santosh Dawara. Look out for video of this post, it should come out soon, since it has been requested more than once over here . In the meantime I’ll jot down some pearls of wisdom from this session :

Q- Failure in startups are because of some problem with the business model and assumptions you start with or because of failure to execute them
A.(Rohit) – Every single time it is combination of both.

Q. In what way your work experience help in startup ?
A.(Suresh) – Primarily in two ways a) It sometimes allows you to concretely identify some problem which you go out to solve(mostly with some domain knowledge). b. Particularly for techies – it allows you to understand other’s concern in a better way(aka man management I believe)

Q. Do you feel guilty, unhappy about failure of techtribe ?
A.(Rohit)- I guilty/unhappy Rohit doesn’t help anybody. I am not. If one is so concerned about stakeholders in previous venture, he should better allocate some part for them in next one.

Q. Do VCs help ?

A. (Ganapathy- note he was a VC for ~10 yes) – No not much. They can give you emotional support, networking help. But don’t expect them to run your business or do the marketing. That is your job. If VCs were smart enough they would be running the company themselves(it was in lighter vein I believe)

-(Rohit) – Alok( from Canaan Partners I guess)   supported me lot more than I had expected. Every time I felt it is not working  he would say let’s try a bit more, change the model a bit…

This quote came somewhere in discussion I don’t remember where (assume it a bonus !) – “Emotional decisions are not taken on percentage probability basis”

All these are great, but to me what stands out from this is following –

With respect to startups in europe and us and the video linked in my previous post , we have been closer to Europe than to US in entrepreneurship, even though quite a bit of your higher technical education is modeled on US. This may have to do with our culture. Here aaram(don’t confuse it with comfort), has been considered an inherent quality associated with job. So few things are changing, people are willing to talk about their failures and share their learning. We may not have reached the stage where kids can and tell their parents that they left their job to do something, which according to probability and statistics has greater chance of failure than success(aka startups), but may be we are going towards a point where you can tell your friends the same and need not explain more. That coupled with things mentioned here on readwriteweb should be a welcome change indeed.

One speaker who really caught my attention was Ashish Gupta from Helion Ventures. His answers in the QA session after the session ‘Building that winning team” were really concise and no nonsense.  Sample this –

Q. Say you made a bad hiring and also promised him/her things which you can’t fulfill, how do you ease him out /get out of the mess ?
A. Don’t be diplomatic , trying the avoid the blame. Take the beating for the mess you created. Go and say I messed up, sorry I can’t keep my promise. It is important thing to do, so that you learn not to do it next time.

Now onwards, I’ll try to attend sessions from Ashish as and when I can. You can sometimes read/hear him on pluggd.in

I saw only one mention of bottom of pyramid but Abhishek Sinha from Eko during the conversation on ” Building a Business that Impacts Lives” was concise and full with real experience when doing things at the bottom of pyramid.

I think I’ll wrap with two more things – books which were mentioned during some of the sessions/QA  and the disclaimer.

Books :

a. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man by Marshall McLuhan . This book coined the term the medium is the message
b. Hugry Spirit by Charles Hundy.
c. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely.

Here is the disclaimer: I don’t own one of those cameras/music players with a phone , so did not record it. It is mostly based on my memory. If you find inaccuracies/mistakes please leave a comment.

– In case you are wondering about the title of this post, it was one of the passing comments made by Vijay during proto.

It´s all about luck – and optimising the 650k hours in life

January 18, 2009 by · 2 Comments
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If you use bicycle for day to day travel and have enough money probably you will buy a car.  Not everybody though, for example environment conscious people may stick to bicycle or if you are Morten Lund you may contemplate buying a private jet . Unfortunately not right now at least, because this Danish Ron Conway went bankrupt on Jan 13th, 2009.

But his courage in the face of adversity is nothing short of baffling :

As reported on UK techcrunch this is what he said to a Danish finance newspaper : “It’s like superman getting his suit stolen – I’m shaken and don’t really wanna talk about it. I will come back again with full power, i just need to wash my suit.”

If you read related article on his personal blog titled The End or The Beginning and watch the following video from Le Web conference, you will believe every word of it and more.

Each line of the blog post is worth reading more than once, but I’ll pick up this one “Have a great day – and don’t worry about me – it’s 99% about materialistic problems (rich people thinking about what pink hearths in diamonds they want to buy for their stinking ugly dog). There are real problems out there – Go solve them.”

His blog website has the title It´s all about luck but some guys seem to have uncanny knack of creating the luck, and certainly he looks like one such. Best of luck Morten, I’ll and many others will  wait for next big thing from you.

Title of this post was taken from  his blog on wordpress

To scale or not to scale

January 11, 2009 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: technology 

While talking about horizontal partitioning of databases, DHH of ROR fame suggests that scaling stuff can wait, definitely wait until the point your business  needs require it. His article definitely makes sense for small setups say startups. Not to say that in startups you should write demo programs but given that there are only 24 hours in a day you should focus on serving say 1000 users in more fulfilling way than losing your sleep over worrying about how will my application handle load of 13.142 million users.  If you get those many users you will know how to scale. For startups scalability is a good problem to solve but a far better problem to have, I mean any startup would love to run into this problem !

In another related article Jeremy Zawodny writes you should not depend upon Mr. Moore if you have scalability problems.

Since these articles refer to  Moore’s law I can’t help but write that Moore’s law must be one of the most generalized law in Computer Science. From his original prediction about transistor density , this law is now cited anywhere you come across exponential growth.

DNS changes

January 4, 2009 by · 1 Comment
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In the process of changing domain registrar, site may not be available for some time next couple of days.

Books and Movies in 2008

January 1, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
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Short overview of movies I watched and (non-technical) books I read in 2008

Movies

New/Recent

  1. Mithya – Watch it for Ranvir Shorey
  2. Lives of Others – Recommended watch
  3. Persepolis – ok
  4. Aamir – Brilliant movie by a debutant director, hope he doesn’t go into trap of ‘I came talented but bollywood ruined me’.
  5. A Wednesday – Such movies are not made very often, not in bollywood at least.
  6. Dasvidaniya – It is no masterpiece but definitely a good movie, wish they made more this.
  7. Khuda ke liye – Recommended, good take on a complicated topic
  8. Quantum of Solace
  9. Dark Knight – Recommended

Caught up

  1. Memento
  2. Pulp Fiction
  3. The Shop on Main Street – Watch it to find out why this 1965 Czechoslovakian movie is so highly regarded. Wonderful watch.
  4. 8 1/2 – Difficult to watch
  5. Pyasa – Could complete it only in second attempt, but you realise why this movie is consistently rated in all time best 100 movies across the globe.
  6. No man’s land – Must watch

Would have loved to watch

  1. Tahaan
  2. Mumbai Meri Jaan
  3. Taare Zameen Par

(Non Technical ) Books – (Sad that could not read more)

  1. Old man and the sea – Hemmingway got Nobel prize but I felt they would have given him for a different story in the same book !! Image of the old man Santiago will remain fresh in your mind long after you finish the book.
  2. How to lie with statistics – Few things don’t age with time, this book must be one of those.
  3. The Zen way – What do I say about this masterpiece by Alan Watts– let me put the reviews I got from rbag Amazon Rating 4.5/5 | Worth a couple dozen other books on Zen Buddhism | Alan Watts at his best. | The Way of Zen is an excellent introduction to Zen Buddhism... There is one thing I would like to add though – this book is about eastern philosophy and contains questions like God is abstract or absolute, which may or may not bind you.
  4. It is not about the bike – Good read, recommended.

I can hear the crackers outside, so it must be 09 now and I should stop writing. Happy New Year 2009.

Pleasant take-aways from assembly Election 08

December 30, 2008 by · 2 Comments
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Sometimes you get a feeling that things are changing(for good). Recent assembly elections was one such moment.  High voting percentage, debunking the myth of anti-incumbency[0] and appreciation of leaders who delivered were prominent take-aways. I’ll try to group together the things which were different:

1. First one definitely has to be high turnout of voters.  Earlier high turnouts were normally because of some emotional issue or strong desire for change. But high turnout here means something more important. I  means that more people are engaged. One way to look at it is that if I did not go vote last time but went this time around, there can be  many reasons but one of the possibilities is that I believe that my vote matters[1]. This is a simplistic way to put it but the bottom line is that people are more aware about their rights (and hopefully about responsibilities  too).

2. Second point is more like change in quality of governance :  Try to remember when an incumbent government went to election saying – ‘See you are better today than what you  were 4/5 years back and we have contributed to this change so please vote us back to power for your good.’ I remember PV Narshimha Rao doing it in (1996) elections, though everybody gives him and Manmohan Singh credit for changing India’s economic condition back then, but they were not voted back to power. Mr. Vajpayee primarily with the help of Pramod Mahajan tried to convince people that India was shining and even though they had quite a few things to show on their report card, people did not buy their campaign[2]. But  it was pleasant surprise to see Sheila Dixit, Raman Singh and Shivraj Singh Chouhan making their work a show point of campaign and coming back to power. People recognised development in Delhi, perhaps basic infrastructure growth in MP and grassroots development in Chhattisgadh.  In the most basic terms it means that people perceived their work in last five year praiseworthy.  We must understand that they did not and could not solve all the problems but they did enough to convince people that they ha d done their bit. This means those five years were well utilized in terms of growth and development.  Their must be something about Sheila Dixit that she keeps winning elections after elections. May be it is as simple as doing the work you are supposed to do, pretty much the same way that Paulo Coelho says regarding the huge success of Alchemist that ‘secret of its success is that there in no secret’. Similarly for the success of seemingly low profile leader Raman Singh and Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

3. Another interesting point was that local issues indeed mattered in state elections and that is the way it should be.  Mumbai did not affect the result in later states a lot . Not to say that whatever happened in Mumbai on 26/11 is not relevant but just to say that state elections are about local issues loksabha election for national ones. It is as simple – say if the road joining my village to the district headquarter deteriorated across the board, somebody should be held accountable and I won’t mind if that is my local MLA (more so if he has nothing else to show). I would definitely be worried about the Mumbai attack but unless it is state elections in Maharashtra, I’ll relate it more with  national election. But sad part is reverse is not true and we have seen in past that local issues  become  the issue in  loksabha elections and verdict is fragmented.

4.  I’ll keep this post short , will add one more point – How will this result reflect in upcoming loksabha elections  All I’ll say about right now is that most probably result s in these states will be similar[4] but that doesn’t mean much. Two big parties there INC and BJP on their own will struggle to get magic figure of 273 and lot depends on wha t happens in some of the states where picture is not clear – for example Andhra Pradesh(how big a force Chiranjivi will be ?), Bihar(how do people give credit to Nitish kumar for work  done vs. the grief brought by flood ), who Ms. Mayawati eventually sides with, what will be victory margin of party winning in Maharashtra and who gains from the probable decrease in number of seats of Left. But we still have some time for that and things will shape up in due course .

You can look back and feel good about this event and we should also thank Election Commission for the tremendous job. It is not for nothing that  this body is respected so  much. The way elections were held has changed tremendously since  T.N. Sheshan and others who have taken the legacy further. Though election commission could not do anything about it but one hopes that result in J&K were less polarized and in not so many phases[5].

—-

[0]. Surprisingly we never see a wave for  pro-incumbency. You can justify in a number of ways why it is not there but the bottomline is that it is not there.

[1].  Another reason for higher turnout may be increased participation of new voters(those who were voting for the first time).
[2]. Though not related here to Indian political scenario, but Bill Clinton did go to elections for his election in second term saying the same.
[3]. Only others winning three terms have been left in WB and Narendra Modi.  But WB has hardly any progress to show and Modi’s mention normally drives extreme reactions and needs more than one post for unbiased assesment.

[4].Delhi may spring some surprise though

[5] Later has to do more with security

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