Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
The term Customer Loyalty is used to describe the behavior of repeat customers, as well as those that offer good ratings, reviews, or testimonials. Some customers do a particular company a great service by offering favorable word of mouth publicity regarding a product, telling friends and family, thus adding them to the number of loyal customers. However, customer loyalty includes much more. It is a process, a program, or a group of programs geared toward keeping a client happy so he or she will provide more business.
The term Customer Loyalty is used to describe the behavior of company's effort to serve customers in order to generate repeat purchase, good ratings, reviews, or testimonials. Some customers do a particular company a great service by offering favorable word of mouth publicity regarding a product, telling friends and family, thus adding them to the number of customers. However, customer loyalty includes much more. It is a process, a program, or a group of programs geared toward serving a client so he or she will provide more business.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Friday, March 20, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
This little guy lives on the mango tree in my house.
Can't see it?
There! Now can you see it?
Yes it is a bat!
My younger son, Abhinav, discovered it one afternoon. It is fun to live in a house that has trees all around.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
As you might very well imagine, encountering the word "serendipity" when I am reading a book gets me all excited. More fodder for my blog!
Actually, this one is in the domain of technology, something one would not generally associate with serendipity. Discoveries, yes; business strategies, yes; inventions, no. You do not invent something by accident. Or so you would think.
Here is an extract from Andy Grove: The Life and Times of an American by Richard S. Tedlow
The microprocessor was invented by Marcian E. "Ted" Hoff, and here we see serendipity at work with a vengeance. A Japanese manufacturer of desk top printer-calculator named Busicom was planning a complicated new product. Attracted by Noyce's reputation, they approached Intel with a contract that called for a set of twelve chips for their machine. The assignment to design the set of chips was given to Hoff, a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford when Intel hired him in 1969. ... Hoff developed an elegant solution. Instead of twelve chips, he would do the job with four. The calculator would be supplied with one memory chip, one chip for storage registers, and a third to hold the program. The fourth was a "strikingly new design" from Hoff: "a general-purpose process circuit that could be programmed for a variety of jobs, including the performance of arithmatic in Busicom's machines." ... Unlike the EPROM, the utility of the microprocessor was not immediately apparent. Intel came close to giving the rights of its design to Busincom for a few thousand dollars. For over a decade, the microprocessor Hoff invented found a variety of niche markets. Only with the coming of the age of the personal computer in the 1980s did it become apparent that this device was worth tens, perhaps hundreds of billions of dollar. Its value today is incalculable. The world of the twenty-first century is unimaginable without it.Now I do not believe for a moment that but for Hoff we would be still stuck in a non-microprocessor world. Someone else would have invented it. But what is remarkable is that even in a company teeming with technical brilliance, such as Intel, it took over a decade for them to recognise the future.
Picture courtesy: Ádám Bálint
Friday, March 13, 2009
1. You can use Google as a calculator. Just type something like (4/3)*pi*(seven)^3 and get the volume of the sphere with radius at 7 units, for example.
2. You can use Google as a dictionary. Try something like define serendipity and check out the first entry. I also tried define abidance - it works.
3. You can use Google to keep a tab on the world. For example, you would like to be the first to know about your favourite subject, say Gardening. Sign up to Google.com/alerts. You will get information on your e-mail as it happens (or once a day, if you are not so hot about it). I use this all the time to follow what I consider important at professional and personal level.
4. You can use Google to carry out research. Go to scholar.google.com and get researching. This is actually brilliant.
5. You can use the character "~" to widen your search. A search with ~horse gives you all results not only with horse, but also pony, stallion, equestrian, etc. (basically all the synonyms). I find it very useful when I am looking for a concept but not sure about the exact word.
I picked up these tips when I read the wonderful 'biography' on Google: The Google Story by David A Vise.
Do you have any tricks up your google-search-sleeve?
Would you like to share it with everyone?
Picture courtesy: jaylopez
Look I know they did not seek the Nobel Prize. History has judged them favorably and they gained the deserved fame while they were alive (which cannot be said of all who deserve). But I cannot help thinking, "Not fair!"
In 1959 Robert Noyce came up with the design of Integrated circuit. It was silicon based. Independent of him Jack Kilby at Texas Instruments designed a Germanium based Integrated Circuit. Silicon is obviously a better solution - it is called The Silicon Valley, isn't it? Not Germanium Valley!
Kilby was awarded the Nobel prize in the year 2000. Noyce did not. Why? Because he died in the year 1990. Nobel prize is not awarded posthumously.
Who can you blame? The Nobel committee surely had their reasons to delay the award. But I can't help thinking: It took the Nobel committee upward of 40 years to realize the importance of Integrated Chip?
In any case, Noyce (along with Gordon Moore, yeah the same one who gave the Moore's Law) went on to create Intel. Contrary to popular belief, Andy Grove was not instrumental in establishing Intel. He joined the company as the first employee. That he took Intel to great heights is a different story Andy Grove: The life and Times of An American.
Picture courtesy: Ádám Bálint
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
I started collecting spectacular blogs in the month of February. And now I have a collection of 10. Hence this announcement.
I have simple criteria of choosing spectacular blogs.
a) The blog needs to grab my attention by its neck and hold it there for at least 15 minutes.
b) "I wish I had thought of that," is what comes to mind as I read these blogs.
Check out my collection of Spectacular Blogs. Drop a line and let me know if you think these are any good.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
The problem with books that are written in a lighter vein is that you don't know if they mean it or it is supposed to be a joke of some sort (that escapes you, in any case).
Could any one confirm that this is correct:
Did you know - this is a little-known fact but absolute truth - that when they dedicate a new multi-storey car park [in London?] the Lord Mayor and his wife have a ceremonial pee in the stairwell? It's true.
The above is quoted from Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Island.
Picture courtesy: Andrea Cuccureddu
Monday, March 9, 2009
Here are a few names and ideas from history that should give you the courage to think beyond ridicule.
German geophysicist, Alfred Wegener. First proposed the Continental Drift Theory in 1912. He was ridiculed till the 1960s. Who would have believed that India was in the southern hemisphere and moved all the way to the north to slam into Asia to give rise to the Himalayas.
S Chandrasekhar. His thesis that predicted black holes was roundly criticized by his own guide. His predictions now go by the name 'Chandrasekhar Limit'. He received the Nobel prize 50 years after he first proposed the theory.
Karl Frederich Gauss, the prince of mathematics, did not dare publish his work on non-Euclidean geometry for the fear of ridicule. There are now three types of geometry (including Euclidean) that are correct and internally consistent. It is said that universe follows non-Euclidean geometry.
Hmmm.... Did someone laugh at you today?
Picture courtesy: Svilen Mushkatov
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Today is International Women's Day (IWD).
It is almost impossible to determine its relevance to the women because of the product-marketing-like atmosphere created by the newspapers - I have nothing personal against Kareena Kapoor but I cannot see why a newspaper has to call a film actress to be the guest editor.
So, just to understand - if you could be bothered, that is: Is IWD relevant to you? How?
I once asked the women folks in my office if they knew why 8th March is celebrated as the IWD. Not one knew. Do you?
Check out the Official Website of IWD to know more.
Picture courtesy: Hilde Vanstraelen
Saturday, March 7, 2009
This, I thought, was the only way I could keep an account of all the books I read. Right now I am putting up a lens for each of the books that I have in the house. Then I need to find a way of getting hold of all the previous books. Ambitious? What is life without ambition?
Meanwhile here is a list of books that I have already finished reviewing:
Survival of the Sickest
The Blind Watchmaker
Eats Shoots & Leaves
Now, here is what I need from you (I am sure I can start making demands by now), please visit these lenses and tell me how I can improve these.
I never knew reviewing books will be so difficult. So I certainly need constructive feedback.
Picture courtesy: Sanja Gjenero
Friday, March 6, 2009
If I were Mahatma Gandhi I would be crying in heavens.
Here was a man who gave up all his belongings to be one among the poor of India; and we make such a big hue and cry to get his belongings back?
If the money spent to get bapu's belongings is an investment by an individual, I have no fight with it. It is a personal decision and I respect that.
On the other hand, if the government buys it back at that cost (or even half that cost) I have a major problem with that. Tax payer's money cannot be spent on memorabilia. Instead please use that money for those who live below the poverty line (without siphoning it off, I should add). That will give Gandhiji lot more joy!
Photo courtesy: Sundeip Arora
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Remember the big hoo-haa about a 19-year old author, Kaavya Vishwanathan, accused of plagiarism.
Turns out that best-selling authors get 'inspired' by each other all the time. I recently finished reading The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, categorized under economics by Penguin. And I am now reading The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins. This is categorized as Popular Science by Penguin.
Read the following passages and tell me what you think of it.
This is from The Black Swan
I've had plenty of cups of coffee in my life (it's my principal addiction). I have never seen a cup of coffee jump two feet from my desk, nor has coffee spilled spontaneously on this on this manuscript without intervention (even in Russia). Indeed, it will take more than a mild coffee addiction to witness such an event; it would require more lifetimes than is perhaps conceivable - the odds are so small, one in so many zeros, that it would be impossible for me to write them down in my free time.
Yet the physical reality makes it possible for my cup to jump - very unlikely but possible. Particles jump around all the time. How come the coffee cup, itself composed of jumping particles, does not? The reason is simply, that for the cup to jump would require that all the particles jump in the same direction, and do so in lockstep several times in a row.
And this is from The Blind Watchmaker
In the case of the marble statue, molecules in solid marble are continuously jostling against one another in random directions. The jostlings of the different molecules cancel one another out, so the whole hand of the statue stays still. But if, by sheer coincidence, all the molecules just happen to move in the same direction at the same moment, the hand would move. If they then all reversed direction at the same moment the hand would move back. In this way it is possible for the marble statue to wave at us. It could happen. The odds against such a coincidence is unimaginably great but they are not incalculably great. The number is so large that the entire age of the universe so far is too short a time to write out all the noughts!
Coincidence! I don't think so. I started reading The Blind Watchmaker because it was referenced in The Black Swan (not in context of the above paragraphs though!)
Picture courtesy: Jaylopez
There is not a day when we read something on Global Warming in the newspapers. And like stock exchange index it keeps swinging from one end to another. Today's Times of India carries a news article, "Is global warming slowing down?" No that is not a typo. It is 'Global Warming' not 'Global Economy'. Heh! Heh! "Is Global Economy Slowing Down?" is not a news anymore.
Ok! Here's what it says:
A new study has determined that global warming may have hit a speed bump and could slow down for decades. Earth's climate continues to confound scientists. [Now they tell us!] Following a 30-year trend of warming, temperatures have flatlined since 2001 despite rising greenhouse gas concentrations, and a heat surplus that should have cranked up the planetary thermostat.
Watch tomorrow's newspaper for a diametrically opposite news. Want to invest money in Gloabl warming Index?
Just as a side note, the people of Bangalore would like some scientific opinion on local warming. It is not yet summer but it feels like peak summer right now. This year also saw very cold winter.
Picture courtesy: miamiamia
Here's a fun thing to do. This is from Illusions:
The simplest questions are the most profound.
Where were you born?Think about these once in awhile, and watch your answers change.
Where is your home?
Where are you going?
What are you doing?
Let me try and answer:
Where were you born?-----Shillong (it is a picture postcard city, capital of Meghalaya, India)
Where is your home?------Bangalore, India
Where are you going?-----Ummmm....
What are you doing?------Blogging
You can at once see that my answers are superficial - except for question 3 that has stumped me completely. So, here's what I intend to do. I shall return to this post and add to the comment the answers aftrer giving it very careful thought.
Now you know what I mean by Illusions being 'deeper and more fun'?
Why don't you try to answer these questions?
Wait, wait, I just thought of another set of answers ...
Where were you born?-----In a hospital
Where is your home?------Bangalore, India
Where are you going?-----Ummmm....
What are you doing?------Formulating an answer to the above question.
I am sure you can do better than that.
By the way, I wanted to list down all the quotes from the book, but some one has beaten me to it. See Quotes from "Illusions" by Richard Bach
Picture courtesy: Jacob Slomp
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Among all the reactions I saw on TV last night on the Lahore day light terror attack, the one by Kapil Dev made sense the most. He talks the way he used to play. Neat and from the guts.
We should help Pakistan to become a peaceful country, but we can help them only if they want to help themselves.These are not his exact words, but you get the idea.
It was obviously a recorded interview, spliced in between live news. You could see the interview excerpts rolling past even before Kapil actually spoke. The text "Kapil still wants to play in Pakistan" irritated me no end. That's not what he was saying. He said something to this effect:
If the Government of India asks me to play I will play in Pakistan. If the government says don't play, I will not. The politicians should take wise decisions. We are like soldiers in uniform. Once we wear Indian colours we do what is told to us.Or something similar. TRP ratings. It does strange things to people.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Many of the Alphainventions users must be having the same doubt as I: How real are the hits referred by Alphainventions? Or are they just visitors passing by?
To find exactly this I a) recently installed Google Analytics in my blog and b) did not submit my blog to the alphainventions reading cycle.
Here are the results for the period 27th Feb to March 1st, both inclusive (basically 3 days)
No. of visits = 147
Pages / visit = 9.03 (note: repeated visit of a single page are counted)
Average Time on Site = 0:43:27
New Visits = 87.76%
Bounce rate = 23.13% (meaning, 1 in 5 visitor did not explore my blog beyond the page first visited.)
The answer to the question we all are asking is now very clear.
Yes, Alphainventions brings you new visitors.
Yes, the hits referred by alphainventions to your blog are real people.
Yes, the visitors stay on for a prolonged period of time exploring your blog.
Do you have similar statistics that can throw light on alphainventions?
Monday, March 2, 2009
This morning as I was driving down my kids to their school I was telling them about what subjects I chose after my 10th board exams and how I chose to go to engineering rather than medicine, etc. I then realized that they hardly know about my childhood. The only know those elements that I have revealed to them. They definitely need to know more. With a twinge of regret I then realized that I hardly know anything about my parents.
That is not on. Something needs to be done. Typing off an autobiography on my laptop and storing it in a DVD maybe meaningless if 20 years down the line DVD is outdated (the way floppies are now). The Internet cloud is the best option.
Now a serialized autobiography would be absolutely boring. Need to think about it. Perhaps, I will leave bits and pieces of my life embedded in my blogs. That way I am assured of at least two blog visitors long after I die. My sons need to read every post of my blog to piece my life together. This is a fun idea. Need to think about it a bit more.
I am, of course, assuming that my sons will be interested in knowing about their dad's past!
Picture courtesy: Franci Strümpfer
Instinctively you would have come to conclusion that the genetic information coded in living organism is digital in nature. But to hear (or rather read) this from a biologists comes to you as a, well, shock.
Imagine ... you are reading this pleasant book on biology. Dawkins is merrily going his way dumping arguments and rationale here and there, debunking the creationists, and fighting for Darwin, in general, when wham! in chapter 5 he starts discussing ROM, RAM, address, content of the address, binary. I do a double check. Have I picked up the wrong book. No! It is alright. He is trying to draw an analogy and in the process makes genetic sound so simple (not simplistic, just simple). I wish I could reproduce all the paragraphs here but that would not be fair. Instead sample this and read The Blind Watchmaker.
The information technology of the genes is digital. ... The main storage medium inside willow seeds, ants and all other living cells is not electronic but chemical. It exploits the fact that certain kinds of molecule are capable of 'polymerizing', that is joining up in long chains of indefinite length. ... Some polymers, instead of being uniform chains of one small molecule ... are chains of two or more different kinds of small molecule. ... If there are two kinds of small molecule in the chain, the two can be thought of a 1 and 0 respectively, and immediately any amount of information, of any kind, can be stored provided only that the chain is long enough. The particular polymers used by living cells are called ploynucleotides. There are two main two main families of polynucleotides in living cells, called DNA and RNA for short. ... Both DNA and RNA are heterogeneous chains, with four different kinds of nucleotides. This, of course , is where the opportunity for information storage lies. Instead of just two states 1 and 0, the information technology of living cells use four states, which may be conventionally represent as A, T, C and G.
The author then goes on to explain how the DNA is a ROM, and chromosomes are like computer tapes, and why you are different that your brother, for instance (same memory address, different content).
Were you to take this as a analogy, Dawkins, in the beginning the chapter makes it very clear:
That is not a metaphor, it is the plain truth. ... It is plain and it is true, but it hasn't long been understood.
Years ago, I had given up biology as one of my subject of choice to pursue engineering. I often look back and wondered what if ...
I can now see that two fields are not that divergent!! Of course, I am being a bit facetious.
Picture courtesy: Flávio Takemoto
I envy those who have numerous Squidoo lens - so me have 400+ :-0. Isn't that amazing? Need to reach that goal asap. Meanwhile, here's what I managed in February.
Learn German with me - I have completely redone this lens. It used to list the free resources available on net. It now has (almost) all the German lessons I developed for this blog. Having all the lessons on one page makes so much more sense. I still have transfer a few more lessons before starting of on new ones. Meanwhile have a look and let me know if it is an improvement.
Created 2 lens dedicated to blogs.
The first one, Best on Indian Blogs, can be deemed a success. It is a list of blogs by Indians (including NRI's). Bloggers can submit their blogs and vote for each others' blog. As of now there are 81 blogs in the list. Check it out. If you are a blogger, feel free to submit your blog (listing your blog on a platform that has high Google visibility will not do you any harm) and if you are not a blogger, even then it is worth a visit to see what Indians blog about.
The other one, Spectacular Blogs, is a personal list of blogs that I really like. I gather these as I surf the Net. Let me know if you like my collection. It is still a small collection but will definitely grow.
And finally, I added 3 more what I call photo-lens (basically a Squidoo lens consisting mainly of photographs) to my repertoire:
Photographs of Intricately Carved Photographs of Hoysala Temple - part 2 (Halebid photographs); the part 1 of this series (Photographs of Intricately Carved Photographs of Hoysala Temple) is on the temple at Belur.
The giant of Shravanabelagola - Bhaubali
My memories of England and Northern Ireland
Let me know if you like the pictures.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
The two puzzles that I gave here and here are identical to each other. The answers are as follows:
You need to check two cards. Card A to verify if the numeral on the reverse of that card is an even number; and Card 3, to check if the alphabet behind the card is not an even number. Cards D and 6 can have any combination and that does not violate the rule.
You need to check if the person aged 16 is not drinking beer and that the person who is drinking beer is at least 21.
Most of you got it right. Which might surprise psychologist Leda Cosmides. I took the puzzles from the book The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. Here's the extract (after jumping over the puzzle parts)
Vervets [a kind of monkey] have been known to waltz into a thicket, ignoring a fresh trail of python tracks and act stunned when they actually come across the snake itself. This doesn't mean that ververts are stupid: they are very sophisticated when it comes to questions that have to do with other vervets. ... A vervet, in other words, is very good at processing certain kinds of ververtish information, but not so good at processing other kinds of information.
The same is true of humans. ... [A]s psychologist Leda Cosmides (who dreamt up this example) points out, it [puzzle 2] is exactly the same puzzle as the A, D, 3 and 6 puzzle. The difference is that it is framed in a way that makes it about people, instead of about numbers, and as human beings we are a lot more sophisticated about each other that we are about the abstract world.
I am not so sure. If I have to go by answers given by you all, I would conclude that humans are equally good or equally bad at both abstract and the real world.
I would actually go further and advise all the psychologists in the world that perhaps it is not correct to conlcude or generalise based on laboratory experiments. The scientists who observe Vervets are doing the correct thing.They are observing the monkeys inthe natural habitat. Please do the same.Observe humans in their natural habitat and draw conclusions. Be sure to note the context too. A change in context may result in an altogether different conclusion.
Picture Courtesy: Steve Woods
Looks like I am totally taken by web 2.0 applications. Twitter being the latest in series.
The idea of mini-blogging is sweet. You keep in touch with others and they with you by simple typing out the answer to: what are you doing now? If it is worthwhile, that is.
And if you have large fan following you may also divert traffic to your website. But why am I saying this when there is fantastic lens (unfortunately not by me) on twitter:
50 ways to use twitte
But what I find most fascinating is the limitation of 140 characters. It takes an effort (at least for me - unless it is something mundane) to confine your thoughts to such constraints. But it is fun.
Picture courtesy: George Popa