Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Day after The Day After Tomorrow?

Found this post on SlashDot.

Study Finds World Warmth Edging to Ancient Levels

Hmm, I knew there was global warming. But, I was taken aback when I read this article. Apparantly, the earth is now at its hottest in 12,000 years. Anyone seen the movie "The Day After Tomorrow"? Is it really a time leading to those catastrophic chain of events? Hmm, maybe we should get used to the movie Ice Age!


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

One musician to another.. A Tribute to Rahman.

Kaushal Inamdar, a Marathi music director, analyzes and appreciates A.R.Rahman.

Click here to read the post on his blog.

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Internet Technologies - TiE-ISB Connect 2006

I"m sitting at the Khemka Auditorium attending the Internet Technology Discussion Forum. We have some incredible speakers here. A great mixture of Technologists, Entrepreneurs, Venture Capitalists and Domain experts.

Track Chair
- Krishnan Seshadrinathan
Key Note Speaker - Ajit Balakrishnan (Rediff)
Panelists - Sandeep Murthy (Sherpalo Ventures), Sanjay Swamy (mChek), Raghav Kher (, Sanjeev Bikhchandani (, Samir Sood (Google), Probir Roy (Paymate), Ganesh Rengaswamy (Greylock Partners)

Each one of these guys seem to have a different take on Mobile Phone as a medium for e-commerce, and Internet 2.0 as a new source of opportunities. This probably explains why each one of these guys have different kindof start-ups.

I find two of these guys very interesting. Sanjay Swamy of mChek and Probir Roy of PayMate. Both of them offer "pay pal" type services on cell-phones. With my limited knowledge, I am willing to bet that these guys will make it big. Their business model seems pretty robust.. considering that Internet usage in India is still not even 1/10th the usage of cell-phone in India. Heck, sure I'd rather pay through my phone, than through an internet portal in India.. considering security on the Internet isn't that important to most people here :-P. Both these companies have tie-up with banks, through which you can directly pay another cell-phone user. Money moves from the bank account tied to the sender's mobile phone to the bank account tied to the receiving mobile phone. Pretty cool stuff if you ask me! Ease of use! And its as safe as carrying your wallet around.. you carry your cell-phone around too! Ofcourse, if you leave behind your cell-phone, it can be misused just like your wallet's content too!

I find the atmosphere VERY exciting. The Q&A session is happening right now, and it's amazing how many guys are making "elevator pitches" over their so called "questoins" to the VCs :-). I just saw one guy get a "If you're around Bombay sometime, I'd like to talk about your idea over coffee. Look me up!" from a Venture Capitalist! Is this the new face of India? The availability of capital with the opening markets seem to be spawning off so many ideas to provide value services to the mass and make money out of it! This sure does sound like the dot com era of the 90s in the Silicon Valley.

p.s. Talking about Internet Technologies.. I'm thrilled that this is my first "live" post. In a span of 12 minutes, I've taken the pictures, assessed the talk here, and submitted this post sitting right here in the Auditorium. Maybe I'll actually get myself to try out live Internet Podcasts in a future event. Kudos to technology!

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Types of Class Participation

Class Participation(CP) is a big deal in B-School. There are special points (which count for the final grade) usually alloted for "Relevant, direction changing" (insightful) CPs. Sometimes these points can account for about 40% of one's grade in a course! It is hillarious to see how different people understand those three words in giving their class participation. Every one of those CP filled classes is sheer unbridled fun. However, in some sections at ISB this has caused a lot of pain too because of too many "Arbit" CPs. Having said that, Section A has been good to its students in this issue. We have our share of fun during CPs but never to the point of paining everyone. The 4 terms with Section A so far have been awesome fun, and I do feel a little sad that our time together ends in another 15 days (at the end of the core courses).
Here are some types CP’s I’ve observed over the 4 terms we’ve studied together. I have thoroughly enjoyed every class involving CP much much more than those which have not had CP. And I have to say that this is ONLY because of the sheer variety! This post is not meant to pick on any individuals, and I can assure you that MULTIPLE people (including me in some cases) have indulged in each one of these types :-)! I just wanted to write this so that a couple of years down the line when we look back, we can have some good memories! Maybe we can initiate some section awards for the winners & runners-up in each category??

Global CP – The point made will fit in any class, any case-study, any discussion topic. Doesn’t matter when/where. eg. 1. The world is a very complicated place. eg. 2. Two plus two equals four!

Round-tripping/Circular CP – Keep going over the same point over and over again without knowing where to stop.

Politician’s CP – No matter what the question is, I will speak out what I want to say (even if it’s a directed question)

Scientific CP – Throw in jargon, confuse the heck out of everyone. eg. I applied Monte-Carlo simulation to come up with this answer!

“I support” CP – I don’t really have a point to make, but I definitely want the marks. So, I’ll ride on someone else’s tail coat!

“I don’t agree” CP – I don’t really know the case, but I sure as hell don’t like the person who gave the last CP. So I don’t agree!

Butt-in CP – I don’t care who has their hands up. I want to talk when I want to talk!

Just-woke-up CP – I dozed off, let my head drop and banged it against the table and woke myself up! Fish.. I hope no one noticed. Now, I need to make a CP point just to show that I"ve been awake. I put up my hands, get chosen to make my point, and make it. Uh-oh, they’ve already gone over this point ages ago!

Passionate CP – I get all emotional about the CP topic, and start fighting with other views/opinions. eg. When the economics professor talks about how certain segments of the mass love certain products (widgets in this case). Bang comes CP "But, love is not rational!!". The baffled professor gives up!

Multi-lingual CP – I will slip in a few words from other languages, just to confuse the non-Indian Prof.

Unrelated CP – This kind of CP is usually preceded by a disclaimer like “I don’t know if this is related, but what I want to say is ….”. OFCOURSE it’s not related. I know it as well as everyone else. But I need my airtime

Selfish CP
– I will make all the points myself (even though only one point was required), ‘cause I don’t want anyone else to get anytime, or ‘cause I want to get max-airtime

Class-take-over CP – Ha! No one else in the class has been in this industry. I am the only one who knows about this topic.. Muwahahahaha, I shall do ALL the answering for the day!

Quota CP – I have decided to make 4 points today ‘cause according to my calculations, that’s the quota I have to satisfy to get a good score on my final grades. Once I give my share of CP for the day, I don’t really care what goes on in class beyond that, I shall go to sleep, or check my e-mail.

Factual CP – I know only the case and have read it for sure, I can’t be bothered about flexing my grey-cells to actually analyze it. So, I shall state the obvious mentioned in the case to obtain my points.

Basic-Instinct CP
– I will use “Basically” once every 5 words of my CP

Insightful CP - The type that every one of the above CP is aspiring to be!


Monday, September 18, 2006

Myopic views!

I sat looking out of my window a couple of days back. I was fiddling around with my camera, and I was trying out different kind of foci on it. I shot a couple of pictures just sitting on my chair here. I uploaded the photos onto my computer today, and as I sit looking at them now, I'm startled by how these two pictures have sharp correlation with my observation on people here at ISB.

I attended an LDP (Leadership Development Program) session for Influencing Skills. At the end of every LDP session so far, I always feel frustrated with the attitude of my batch mates. They think that the entire exercise is a waste of time and that they don't gain anything from those sessions. My question to them.. if they already know everything, then how come they don't seem to be acing the sessions. For example, in the influencing skills, how come they weren't able to influence the other groups and come to a conclusion? How come then, they couldn't find a way out of the problem we were posed with? Their attitude is such that that even the Instructors are frustrated. The instructors don't know how to deal with the permanent "Oh, why are you making me sit here. I'd rather be elsewhere" look/attitude that most students exhibit during these sessions!

So many people come to ISB to learn the soft skills.. the leadership skills, the people handling skills, the presentation skills, the problem tackling skills that they lacked when they were in the industry. However, somewhere along the line in the last 6 months, they have lost track of their objective. Initially, I remember how people were cribbing about the course being too Quant oriented. These days, when we have courses like Management Behaviour of Organizations or Leadership Development Program, people call them "faff" courses which don't have any substance/learning content in them (just because there is no quant in it). Somehow, they forget the bigger picture (the one outside the window). They forget that these skills learnt in these so called "faff" courses will be the ones which will help them move higher. These are the skills that differentiate a Leader from a worker. There are so many "simple" things that I learnt even from this recent session on Influencing Skills as part of the LDP. Simple things like Spatial arrangements can make such a difference to influencing a group of people. Similarly, while a lot of people thought that the group discussion sessions of LDP were utter wastes, I found value in them. i learnt how important small stuff like your posture at the table can play in a discussion. I still remember how when some people leant forward when they were speaking, they automatically put the rest of the people in the group into a defensive mode. They were sub-consciously perceived to be "aggressive" and "pushy". The instructor also pointed out how you cut-off/don't listen to the two people by your side when you lean forward at the table. You automatically zone them out of your field of view! The two people on the side then feel ignored or are forced to respond aggressively to get back into the discussion again.
Such small stuff, I don't think anyone will point out to me in the real world. I'm indeed glad that we had instructors who pointed out such sub-conscious references. I know now that I"ll definitely watch the way I sit at a group discussion especially if I'm looking to convince someone else of some idea.
So, coming back to what I was saying.. there is INDEED a lot of value to all these sessions. If only people would develop some patience to be involved in these sessions and actually set aside their grades and assignments for the few hours we are involved in these exercises. It is the case of the two pictures above. When we focus on just what is in front of us, then all we'll see is the grill on the window. Then, there may not seem to be much in that direction. However, if we just took an instant to step back and look beyond the grill, we probably will notice the beautiful landscape lying yonder in the exact same direction. Yes, definitely, we need to be aware of the grill which lies between the landscape and us. But, let that not be the ONLY thing that we see!

P.S. Oh, BTW, the grill is still there in the second picture. The camera was focused beyond the grill.. that's all! If you look carefully, you should still be able to see the grill lines in the 2nd picture.

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Friday, September 15, 2006

Zune is out!

All pictures in this post copyright

Cool! Awesome player from the looks of it! A nice 3 inch colour screen (QVGA), 30gig drive, WiFi, audio & video playback, and photo viewing capability! And by offering a free download in the Zune Networks website for every song you've bought at iTunes, they've lowered the "switching costs" (in MBA lingo). Looks like this space is heating up! Whoever is looking to buy an Mp3 player now, should definitely look beyond the iPod. If this player is not cool enough, check out some of the other stuff available in the market now!
The Delphi player comes with built in Satellite Audio Receiver. The Samsung K5 player comes with built in speakers (having a small boom-box in my palm is a kindof catchy idea!)

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Yahoo Mail! Beta.

Unimpressed.. Thats all I have to say! They've done some XML paint job to an already existing framework. That's all I can say after trying it for the first few minutes. Yahoo, you've gotta do better than that to take on Gmail in features and convenience. It doesn't auto-refresh to say if I have a new email, nor does it collapse responses into a mail-thread kindof interface. So, overall, I'd still continue using Gmail just 'cause of the ease of use and the experience!


Monday, September 11, 2006

McKinsey Session.

McKinsey & Co. was here last weekend. They conducted Problem Solving workshops for the students. My group isn't scheduled to have it till next weekend when they make their second visit. Everyone who had attended the workshop last weekend was happy with it. All of them unanimously said that they liked it!

The Consulting Club organized a late night session with them, for the entire student mass. I should say, I walked away IMPRESSED! The McKinsey team consisted of 3 Alums from ISB, one engagement Manager who was an IIMA alum, and an Associate Principal. They impressed all of us by their frankness, sense of humour, clarity in communication, and openness in their recruiting process. They even showed us the evaluation form they use when they interview a candidate. I was surprised that they spent about 6-8 min on every resume that they receive from the B-Schools. That is a LOT of time. I remember back at Seagate when I was looking at Resumes.. I spent about 3-4 min at the max. And I used to think that that was long! Well, looking at the effort the McKinsey guys put into their recruitment process, no wonder they get the best guys.
They also had a good presentation of what McKinsey is all about, their reach, and their influence.
In a lot of people's opinion, they were definitely a rung above the BCG guys who were here a couple of weeks back. I was never interested in working for a consulting firm. But now, after this session, I am considering giving it a shot.


NC State & Maitri

Recently, SepiaMutiny carried an article on NC State and Maitri and a question on American hospitality towards International Students.

Well, I'm back in India now, and I am studying in an institution which has a few international students. I think about our hospitality to them, and I would say that we as Indians as a community are far far behind the Americans in terms of hospitality and foreign-friendly practices towards International Students.

All this talk about NC State, Maitri and 9/11 puts me in a nostalgic mood now! Good old days at NC State! No money, no job, but we all had a great time there. Each one of us were our own support system in a foreign land!

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Remembering 9/11

Wow. Time does fly! It's already been 5 years now since it happened!

I sit back now and think about it, I can still remember that day very vividly. It had been about a month and a half since I landed in the US. College had started on Aug 20th and so I was about 2 weeks into the semester.

September 11th, 2001 started late for me. It was about 10.30am when I was rudely woken up by loud banging on my front door. Groggy and irritated, I ran downstairs. (Yes, we were students and we were living in a town house! Ah! The pleasures of living in North Carolina). I opened the door to find my neighbour Deepak almost slamming his feet into my chest. He exclaims loudly "Machan.. apparantly there's been some bombings up north in Washington, NY and a lot of other areas. Everyone is in a state of panic, so just call home and tell them you're fine."
Okay.. now what do I do? I don't have a calling card. I don't have TV to find out what the heck is going on. I don't have a computer to mail my parents. So, I take my sweet time to get ready.. and then I walk to the AFC (Avent Ferry Complex, the nearest computer lab, which is about a mile away). I still am no wiser when I walk into the lab. I leave an offline message with my parents telling them not to worry and that I'm safe n sound (from what?? I still don't know!). Then, I start reading the news on CNN and they have a developing story on what the heck is happening. It's only then I understand the full magnitude of what happened. I catch a few 5 second clips on the dust and smoke, but thats about it.
The next few days in America were hell I think for most non-Americans. There was a lot of hostility in general towards foreigners in America. We got a few reports of Indian students (mainly Sardhars) being the brunt of some violence all across America. It was the work of a few misguided souls who couldn't tell the difference between a Sikh and a Taliban turban! I remember one of my Surdi classmates was shit scared of walking back alone in the nights from the AFC. Understandably so.
The days passed by, and then almost 5 years later, I move back to India. I was watching the Discovery Channel on evening, and there they had a recap of the whole incident. It was then that I realized, that I had never actually seen the actual clip of the planes flying into the Twin Towers! None of us back at NC State had a TV at that point of time and caught up with the whole rat-race to find a part-time job/assistantship on campus! Blame it on the PIGS (Poor Indian Graduate Student) syndrome!

Anyway, what happened after this incident is history. The economy which was already reeling from the bust, was just pummelled further to the ground by 9/11. It is one of those economy shocks we read about in our Global Economics course. Heavy security restrictions was imposed on all foreign nationals. They put in a new tracking system (SEVIS) to keep track of foreign students. NC State came up with some wierd ass interpretation of the new rules for international-students to maintain their F1 status. What a pain it was!

Today, I read about a bunch of US professors from all across the country claiming that the entire 9/11 incident was an inside job.

Professor Jones said it was impossible for the Twin Towers to have collapsed in the way they did from the collision of two planes.

He says jet fuel does not burn at temperatures high enough to melt steel beams and claims horizontal puffs of smoke seen during the collapse of the towers are indicative of controlled explosions used to bring down the towers.

W T F ?

Ofcourse, I read the article on Times of India (yeah.. that tabloid :-P), so I really don't know how true this is! It might just be one of those conspiracy theories.

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

And the grind continues..

Exams and term break flew by. A quick trip to Chennai recharged my batteries. Term 4 started yesterday and is already in full swing. Somehow, with both PAEV and ELP happening, I suddenly feel like I'm in class all the time. I attended 6 hours of class and 3 meetings yesterday, and crashed straight away after that. Burnt out. This morning I wake up, and I was running even before I sat up from my bed and put my feet on the ground.. One ELP interview later, here I am sitting in an ELP class wondering what the heck is happening. I have another class, and a couple of meetings lined up. I have the pre-read for the one class I have left for the day. I hear that there is 25 points for Class Participation in that class. So, skipping the pre-read is out of question considering the fact that I score most of my grade points on CP :-). Exams.. well, thats an entirely different story.
I hope the term cycle takes over, and make this week a little less hectic!