Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Design caveat

Have you ever observed a coffee vending machine making a huge noise while delivering hot water? I could not understand why it makes such a loud grinding noise as if it is crushing coffee beans.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Messy Education System

This post is a rant about the illogicalness of the state board education system. For those uninterested turn away!

Over this weekend, I had a chance to meet a couple of people doing their Higher secondary study. With the academic calendar closing up and the imminent board exams has thrown a cover of anxiety over them. They are grappled with fear of performance and there has been a lot of pressure put on them to score good marks in the exams. The marks single handedly decides your career path. If your exam score is excellent, you are deemed to get enrolled into a top-notch college in the state and at the end of the four year degree course you get a placement in IT company.

First thing, I noticed in them is their lower fitness level. They look very lean and the stress has got enough energy out of their body. Their are completely occupied by studies (I won't be surprised if they tell me that they sit with their syllabus books all through their day) and look tired. They fail to understand the significance of mental and physical health. All that is going in their mind is to study, mug and vomit back in the exam. Nobody is really interested in learning things, rather only point is to score marks in the exams.

Even the case was same a decade ago when I prepared for the board exams. Competition has increased many folds now and it is more tough to perform.

The point of contention is that the students aren't developing critical and logical thinking. The sole purpose of Education is to make you to think, which gets beaten up. They won't be able to solve problems on their own and put to use the concepts that they have learned during their school times. There will not be any application of the basic learning that has been done. I feel it is real waste of time and childhood.

Though the state gov has come up with various committees to suggest revisions to the education system, until now none has helped to revive. Unless the education system is revived sooner than later we would be losing the potential younger generations who has to shoulder the burden of the country in the years to come.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Google Page Creator

Probably I will be the last soul on this earth to report Google introducing Page Creator. Google has released it in beta and due to enormous response, Google has limited the access to the page creator. But is there any significant difference between page creator and blogger?

Update: Page Creator is intended for hosting webpages of small business organizations. As per statistics, there are 45% of small business which doesn't have a website. (via)

Tech makes work harder

I some how had the feeling that technology is making life more miserable. From a common man's point of view, at the outset technology could help in doing things much faster and better. But at the end of the day, the satisfaction and happiness is less and cribbing about life is more.

CNET has an article published on this topic. Some excerpts from the article

"Technology has sped everything up and, by speeding everything up, it's slowed everything down, paradoxically," said John Challenger, chief executive of Chicago-based outplacement consultants Challenger, Gray and Christmas.

"It's harder to feel like you're accomplishing something."

"We think we're faster, smarter, better with all this technology at our side and in the end, we still feel rushed and our feeling of productivity is down," said Maria Woytek, marketing communications manager for Day-Timers, a unit of ACCO Brands.

Companies that are flexible with workers' time and give workers the most control over their tasks tend to fare better against the sea of rising expectations, experts said.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Is there a cutting-edge technology company from India?

I was having a pep talk with my colleague. I really wanted to record his observation.

"Name one(some) of the cutting edge technology company that has originated in India and are the market leaders in the world? "

I could not answer. I do not know one such company.

Windows XP rules

I was going through the site analystics of this blog. The traffic to this blog is very minimal. I manage only getting very few hits per day. But even with this minimal traffic certain facts stands tall. In the OS category Windows XP rules. I guess for a normal PC user still Linux sounds geek.

Google Chat in Gmail

The integrated Google Talk in Gmail is a bonus for users. There is an article about this in The Hindu which pointed out that this integration does away with the dependence on installed chat programs when one has to browse from internet cafes or parlours. This is a very common scenario in India and sharing PCs are very normal. The automatic saving of chat text within Gmail and making it searchable is a real candy.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

What do project managers ask?

When you sit for a project meeting with project manager you deemed to face these questions

When can we expect this task to be complete?
Any timelines for this?
What is the status of this task?
How much percentage is this task complete?
What are the blocking issues?
Is this task in critical path?

...more to come :-)

Friday, February 17, 2006

Unconscious thinking

Nice article published in rediff.

I am going to quote heavily from the article, mostly for people who are lazy enough to click the link and read the article.

The study argues that difficult decisions are best handled by our unconscious minds.

The study -- published in the journal, Science -- showed that conscious thinkers could make the best choices about simple products, while unconscious thinkers could make the best choice among complex products.

Apparently, thinking about things consciously means a person can only focus on a few things at once. When it is a tough decision to make, therefore, the mind can sometimes give certain factors undue importance. Thinking about something for too long can also lead to different evaluations and inconsistencies. Unconscious thinking, on the other hand, can handle large amounts of information that can lead to a fairly evaluative summary judgment.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Reliance and their strategy

As I had been scouting over the various phone service providers, I decided to check on Reliance and their "One Nation, One Voice and One Rupee plan" with the fixed wireless phone. In this activity I did attain my goal but also suffered some brunt.

The Wireless handset that I picked is LG 350R which is quiet sturdy with all mobile type applications and options in it. The voice clarity is good and the instrument weighs light compared to the one supplied by Tata Indicom Walky. It has a built in Lithium ion battery and when it is charged to complete, the phone automatically switches to use AC power for its operations until it plugged out from the power.

I have been using it for more than a week now and I didn't face any poor signals or call drops. A good sign of service.

But the strategy that reliance opts for this service is bit weird. The model of service is based on the type of residence you have. It is not purely based on your salary or your capacity to pay the bill. For instance since I stay in a rented house along with my friends, I had to pay advance rental of Rs 1000 and the credit limit for my connection is just Rs 1000.

When I reach this credit limit, I need to settle the bill with the reliance and then renew my credit even when the billing cycle is not complete. Basically this is done to prevent defaulters from getting a connection, using it to maximum limit and then running off. This rule doesn't suit to every other customer.

Certainly the One nation tariff has lesser impact on one's pocket with increase in the call volumes. To prove my claim, let me assume that I make 1000 mins of STD calls.

With Airtel :
Rental : 150 + 50 (clip) + 75 (STD pack)
Call charges: 1000 * 2 = 2000
Service tax: 227

Total: Rs 2500

With Reliance:

Rental: 499 + 50 (clip)
Call Charges: 1000
Service tax: 155

Total: Rs 1700

So ultimately this exercise will save me Rs 800 per month and I recover the installation charges within the first month. All provided I make 1000 mins of call. The more the call volumes the cheaper the rates will be.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

BSNL OneIndia tariff put off

There is going to be some more posts on the telecom tariffs.

The earlier post I did pointed to the proposed OneIndia tariff by BSNL. It now seems that BSNL will not be launching this tariff any time soon. When I read through a couple of articles on that area, most of them pointed out that it is hard to slash the STD rates to 1 Rs per min. The minimum tariff for STD cannot go below 1.85 Rs per min. But I wonder how Reliance manages to support OneIndia tariff. How does Reliance recover the loss? Through higher call volume and higher rentals?

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Turning the heat on

When I was scouting through the tariff plans of various phone service providers, I was wondering why BSNL didn't bring down the tariffs of their conventional fixed line phone (FLP) to current trend. Though they were competitive in reducing their CellOne tariffs, they didn't touch the FLP tariffs. Just today came the answer.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Just in words - Reliance Infocomm

I was pretty interested in checking up the reliance broadband as a fail over option in our house. Yesterday I went to Reliance Webworld in BTM II Stage to enquire about the various plans. To my surprise the helpdesk guy told that the broadband hasn't been commenced yet and will start soon. But he is clueless about how soon?

Secondly I started asking him about the Fixed Line Phone(FLP) with One India tariff. He denied reliance providing such service. The helpdesk guy had no clue about FLP, though I asked him to check up their website.

Then I asked him about One India tariff plan with Fixed Wireless Phone (FWP). Again this plan seems to be not supported in the FWP. I do not understand to whom these tariff plans are provided.

After analysing Reliance's One India plan, I understood that for high volume users it works out cheaper when your call terminates with in reliance. Otherwise BSNL is much cheaper than Reliance.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Tariff wars

Reliance Infocomm spearheaded another tariff war this January with their One India tariff plan. With One India tariff plan, customers enjoy the privilege of paying a single charge to any number they call within India associated with any service provider. This plan at large simplifies the complexity in understanding the tariff plans and chossing the better that suits the individual needs. It also allows people to enjoy greater talk time for high volume users.

Close to the heels, BSNL also came up with a similar plan whereby you end up paying a single charge to any number you call within India within their network. It really surprised me when the state-run company came up to this competition much ahead than one would have expected. Observers accounted that these could revolutionize the telecom sector. But nothing changed in Airtel or Hutch or with other players over the past month.

As a customer of Airtel, it is really frustrating to see that the provider not keeping up with the tariff cuts. I have to pay nearly 60% more tariff for STD calls in comparison to choosing One India tariff plan. It is high time that Airtel should consider slashing their rates, otherwise they are going to see their customer base getting eroded by Reliance and BSNL.