Wednesday, February 27, 2008

H1B 2009: How Much Does A H1B Cost? (File By Apr 1 2008)

If you are wondering how much a H1B will cost for an organization, USCIS has offered the details of H1B filing fees for H1B 2009. Applications will be accepted from 1st of April, 2008. ( just 33 more days... look at the count down timer at the top of the page)

>>  Link to USCIS Page

Base Filing Fee : $320

ACWIA Fee: $750 (1-25 Employees) or $1500 (more than 25 Employees)

Fraud Fee: $500

Premium Processing: $1000

Note that these are the fees to be paid to USCIS. Many organizations will incur other expenses towards the filing like Attorney fees.

USCIS has also offered helpful information for Organizations that are looking to file for H1B petitions this year.

Though many are expecting a similar rush as in last year, going by the initial indications from top consulting companies, we may not see such a mad rush this year.  Last year this time, many firms did not accept any new application beyond February. But this year, firms are still looking out for prospective Professionals.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Why Did Google Buy JotSpot? And what happened to it?

Google acquired Jotspot on 10/31/2006. Google’s world class data centers, huge audience and a team of incredibly smart people…. supposed to make JotSpot a better software. But what happened to it? Still closed to new users. Software doesn't work anymore. Joe Kraus busy with Google OpenSocial. Is JotSpot dead?

This is quite the same screen even today. Closed off for new users and uninterrupted access to existing users.  It has been quite the same from the moment the announcement (that Google acquired JotSpot) came in on 10/31/2006 to today.

image

So, What happened to JotSpot?

Google's world class data centers, huge audience and a team of incredibly smart people.... supposed to make JotSpot a better software. But what happened to it? I had an account before Google acquired. I was trying to reach the support team for a long time as I had a few issues but no reply so far. Is JotSpot officially dead?

If you are wondering, its not a big deal. The first announcement of Google acquiring Jotspot came in on 10/31/2006.

10/31/2006

Spot on - 10/31/2006 Joe Kraus, JotSpot

OK, I can finally blurt it out: JotSpot is now part of Google, and I couldn't be more excited.

It was pretty apparent that Google shared our vision for how groups of people can create, manage and share information online. Then when we had conversations with people at Google we found ourselves completing each other's sentences. Joining Google allows us to plug into the resources that only a company of Google's scale can offer, like a huge audience, access to world-class data centers and a team of incredibly smart people.

Our first order of business is to move JotSpot to Google's software architecture. While we're doing so, we've turned off new registrations. But if you're interested, sign up for our waitlist and we'll keep you posted.

I did not see any thing, absolutely nothing after that. I happened to see what Joe Kraus the founder of JotSpot doing at Google. Just a few months back.

11/02/2007

OpenSocial makes the web better - 11/02/2007 Joe Kraus, Director of Product Management

That's why today we're excited to introduce OpenSocial, a set of common APIs that make it easy to create and host social applications on the web. OpenSocial allows developers to write an application once that will run anywhere that supports the OpenSocial APIs.

Is Joe Kraus done with JotSpot completely as he appears to be quite busy with openSocial? Is there a plan for JotSpot at Google?

Update: Not officially announced by Google yet, but it looks like JotSpot will have a meaningful contribution to Google pretty soon.

First, Google Sites, an evolution of Google Page Creator, will launch in 2008. Google Sites will be based on JotSpot collaboration tools and will allow businesses to create intranets, project management tracking, extranets and other custom sites.

Google Reveals 2008 Plans For Google Apps

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Anand Agarawala: BumpTop desktop is a beautiful mess

This is pretty cool and unbelievable stuff. Watch the Youtube video at the bottom for more to the beauty.

Anand Agarawala presents BumpTop, a fresh user interface that takes the usual desktop metaphor to a glorious, 3D extreme. In this physics-driven universe, important files finally get the weight they deserve via an oddly satisfying resizing feature, and the drudgery of file organization becomes a freewheeling playground full of crumpled documents and clipping-covered "walls." Worried your laptop's desktop will descend into the same disorder as its coffee-mug-strewn real-life equivalent? Fear not: BumpTop has a snappy solution for that messy problem, too.

TED | Talks | Anand Agarawala: BumpTop desktop is a beautiful mess (video)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Vikas Jhingran - World Champion of Public Speaking

“I am the first Toastmaster from Asia to win as well as the first person whose second language is English, My hope is that my winning will encourage people who are shy or have an accent to realize that they can do it, too.” - Vikas Jhingran 2007 World Champion of Public Speaking (Toast Masters International).

Image from ToastMasters International

“There’s really no rocket science involved. It’s all about being true to yourself, tapping into your strengths and working hard,” says Jhingran, 34, a native of Morabadad (a suburb of Calcutta), India. His award- winning speech, “The Swami’s Question,” combined humor with a personal tale of being a not-so- motivated student in India.

A Toastmaster since October 2002, Jhingran completed his first 10 speeches within eight months, and entered speech contests soon after joining.

Jhingran grew up in a country where public speaking is not encouraged in the educational system. Soon after coming to the United States for a graduate degree at Texas A&M University, however, he learned how beneficial speaking up for yourself can be.

“I picked up some very important lessons as I prepared for the championship contest,” says Jhingran. “For instance, I discovered that the process of getting and giving feedback is highly underrated, but very critical to the speech crafting process. Toastmasters teaches you to spot your weaknesses and ask for specific feedback and then maximize that feedback by identifying what will work for you and applying it.”

“Many speakers never really spend the time to understand what their speaking style is, and as a result they don’t understand what their strengths and weaknesses are,” he says. “There are many ways to get to the top. My question is, What is your way? An effective speech has to be written to your strengths. For instance, for someone like me, the strength is in the writing and the content of the speech, not so much in the dramatics and moving around the stage.”

When you know your strengths as a speaker and the best style for you, you are comfortable enough to establish a connection with the audience, which is your most important task, Jhingran says.

Source: Toastmasters International - Profile: Answering the Swami's Question

I was an excellent speaker until I joined Toast Masters last year. After I joined and competed in Area Humorous Speech Contest, I realized, I am one of the best eligible speakers to start learning to become a better speaker.  There are many aspects of public speaking we can never learn by reading or watching but only by just doing it and having a coach to continuously monitor and give us feedback. Toast Masters can do it and a lot more than that.  It has been quite a journey so far. I have recently completed my first 10 speech projects. I feel quite confident now and know for sure that I have a lot more to learn.

Its wonderful to know a Toast Master from India winning the World Championship. Considering the fact that for many Indians English being a second language and equipped with highly accentuated pronunciations, I thought it would be very difficult to translate our ideas to native English speakers clearly and with impact. I realized with the help of Toast Masters and unconditional support and feedback from club members, it isn't such a difficult task. And, Vikas proves it beyond a doubt.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Cricket Changes Game Plan And Goes Franchise Style

Cricket finally goes Franchise style in India. Not only the format has evolved in to a quick and spicy 20 overs style to gain more market acceptance, but now bringing in more teams and more games in the franchise style.

Much like the NFL and NBA, Indian Premier League (IPL) created by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and sanctioned by the International Cricket Council, is a Twenty20 cricket competition.

I love Cricket. I used to play a lot and watch a ridiculous lot. But its so painful to watch cricket games as each game is played for about 8-10 hours. Then came a Twenty20 match style where the game is reduced to 2-3 hours game. While it is fun to watch the twenty 20 game, you will miss so much of the class and elegance of cricket strokes in this short form of the game. Well, for some, it doesn't matter at all. In fact, for many the game looks spicy now in this short version.

Franchise model will definitely do much better for the Marketing of the game and generating revenue out of a proven cash cow and the only game watched across whole country. Obviously Players get paid a whole lot better now.

All these IPL games are in addition to international series that Indian team plays normally. So if you are a cricket lover, you will have lot more games to watch.

I am not sure what will happen to the domestic cricket teams and all those Ranji trophy series. I don't see any significant role being played by those any more.

As it appears, Cricket itself is changing its game.

Monday, February 18, 2008

H1B 2009: US IT Job Demand Might Grow..

It looks like US IT Job demand might grow in the days to come, irrespective of rise in out -sourcing and weaker economy, partly due to baby boomers. If that is the trend, we will definitely see a huge rush for H1Bs again this year as well.

US software programming jobs took a real wacking at the end of the last recession, but bounced back since—in spite of the offshoring trend and the rise of the Indian tech services industry. Now we’re heading into another recession, it seems. Will US software programmers lose out again? I’m betting no. The reason: The impending retirement of the babyboomers. Already, a lot of federal government programmers are retiring, since they’re reached the retirement age of 55. This factor—combined with low graduating rates for computer science majors—is already causing a shortfall in US programming talent. I believe that whatever cost cutting that’s done by companies during a recession will be more than offset by the software talent shortfall. Five years from now, US programmers will be in even greater demand.

Bangalore Tigers US IT Jobs: Which Way is the Wind Blowing? - BusinessWeek

Something Better Than 'Call Me If You Need Any Help!'

I heard this phrase in the last few days for more than 100 times, as we were getting ready to bring a new member in to our wonderful family; "Call me If you need any help".

I was very happy to see so many of my friends offering help in the time of need. I was really thinking of using some help as there are so many things to take care of and so little time was left before the big day. So I listed down the most important things to do one day and tried to figure out who to call for help.

I quickly realized that they are so simple things and most of them just take under 5 minutes, I wasn't sure whether they are worth calling up your friend, ask about their schedules and request help to get those things done. And many a times, everybody have their own weekend plans. So need to coordinate, not to disrupt their plans. None in the list is so big enough that needs a call, explanation, adjustment and coordination. Not that my friends won't oblige, but are they worth asking for? After a few minutes, I was little frustrated too. So many friends offered to help and I couldn't ask them anything that would really save my time and effort.

While I sat there quite perplexed and getting ready to work on the next thing in my list, a friend called me, 'Hey I am going to the Walmart in a few minutes. Do you have anything I can pickup from there'. Aha. Thank you so much.  Of course I had a few things to pick up from Walmart.  That call did the trick.  He really saved one time consuming trip to Walmart. And, one thing off the list.  

And the best thing happened a little later. Another friend just dropped by to see me and helped me with whatever I was about to do. Thanks a ton man!!

Lesson for me and everybody

If you really want to help your friend in times of need, please don't say, call me if you need any help. Just go and help. There will be 100s of simple, silly and boring things your friend may never call your help for.  But you can save his/her day by giving a hand to get rid of a few of them.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Google Forms and Live Data : Another Distinction

Google products while look so simple and are always on a feature diet (compared to other traditional web as well as desktop applications), always amazes me with continuous innovation and features that I am looking for and quite useful to many. Latest such distinction comes from Google Spreadsheets.

Google recently announced a new feature: forms. By combining spreadsheets with bulk e-mail, the new function (which was revealed on the Google Docs blog) lets a spreadsheet author send out a mail with fields for recipients to fill in. As they do, the spreadsheet gets completed. It’s a real-time survey that pumps data straight into a spreadsheet. It’s also another example of the difference between desktop software and web-based applications.

Source: Rethinking the Spreadsheet: Google Forms and Live Data

Notable Thoughts : Are they really True?

Here are some unbelievable (I couldn't believe when I first read) thoughts, though appears to be supported by numbers and research. 


Poor People More Likely Use Yahoo, Those Better Off To Use Google
New data released by Hitwise yesterday shows that there is a socio-economic difference between those frequently using Yahoo and those more frequently using Google. [via TechCrunch] Yahoo is strong in “struggling societies,” “blue collar backbone,” and “remote America,” where as Google obtains higher use in “small town contentment,” “affluent suburbia,” and “upscale America.”

Drugs for nerve pain, bipolar disorder linked to thoughts of suicide
The Food and Drug Administration has warned that a group of drugs called anticonvulsants can cause some people to have thoughts of suicide and to attempt suicide.

I am not sure whether Google is mostly used by affluent and upscale while Yahoo is being used by poorer sections. I certainly use Google while my lot more affluent and upscale friends still use Yahoo. May be, me and my friends are not that common! Well, a distinction at last.

I find it very hard to understand how a medicine force you or let you think about a certain thing like suicide? If that is possible why not make medicine that force or let people think happy and solve the issue of depression once and for all?

Color matters

Looking to design your web page themes, you must look at these links (got via Seth's blog)

Especially online, where there are so few cues and so few choices.

This page of color choices will change your life. A lot. For the better.

[PS Michael recommends this page from Adobe. And finally, this and this came in as well... who knew?]

Source: Color matters

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Cellular Life Styles Apart : Weekend Edition

You can carry an ipod, olympus recorder, Palm PDA, a cell phone, a digital camera, a gaming console, a GPS navigator, a jump drive, a laptop to access internet, …………….. or you can have a smart phone that can do all of these and more. Smart Phones for sure are redefining the Mobile life styles. Cellular Life Styles Apart explores the M-powered life styles.

AT&T Raises Messaging Rates
Effective March 30, AT&T customers who do not subscribe to a bundled messaging plan will have to pay $0.20 per SMS and $0.30 per MMS. The cost of sending each will rise by $0.05


In CBS Test, Mobile Ads Find Users
CBS plans to announce on Wednesday that it is trying one of the first serious experiments with cellphone advertising that is customized for a person’s location. Its CBS Mobileunit is teaming up with the social networking service Loopt, which allows its subscribers to track participating friends and family on their mobile phones.


Apple's iPhone is 3rd most shipped smartphone
According to a recent report from Canalys, Apple's iPhone is the third-best selling smartphone in the world. The iPhone had a 6.5 percent market share worldwide during the fourth quarter


Americans Recycled less than 10% of Mobile Phones
Only 9.4% of Americans who bought new mobile phones last quarter recycled their old handsets, a survey from iSuppli Corp’s consumerTrak service says. This is double the number of phones recycled in the third quarter of 2007 but well below the numbers hoped for


Will Watch Ads For Free Games
The vast majority of people — 90 percent, to be precise — will watch ads if it means they get to play games for free, according to a report presented by RealNetworks at the Casual Connect conference in Amsterdam.

Latest Stats on Mobiles from Cellular Lifestyles

Here are the latest statistics on Mobiles from my Cellular Life Styles blog. I have updated the graphs with the latest information available from Cellular carriers as per the 4th quarter reports of 2007.

Average Monthly Charges

Sprint is still leading with the highest ARPU about $59, though the carrier is loosing on subscriber base. Cingular, the new at&t is leading in the subscriber base, closely followed by Verizon.

Mobile Subscribers

 

Source: Cellular Lifestyles » Average Monthly Charges

As I am getting busy with working on my startup, I don't think I can continue to blog separately at Cellular Life Styles anymore. So to make my life easier, I will be combining my Cellular Life Styles blog with Thought Garage in the next few weeks by uploading selective posts from the blog.

Cellular Life Styles Apart : Weekend Edition

You can carry an ipod, olympus recorder, Palm PDA, a cell phone, a digital camera, a gaming console, a GPS navigator, a jump drive, a laptop to access internet, …………….. or you can have a smart phone that can do all of these and more. Smart Phones for sure are redefining the Mobile life styles. Cellular Life Styles Apart explores the M-powered life styles.

AT&T Raises Messaging Rates
Effective March 30, AT&T customers who do not subscribe to a bundled messaging plan will have to pay $0.20 per SMS and $0.30 per MMS. The cost of sending each will rise by $0.05


In CBS Test, Mobile Ads Find Users
CBS plans to announce on Wednesday that it is trying one of the first serious experiments with cellphone advertising that is customized for a person’s location. Its CBS Mobileunit is teaming up with the social networking service Loopt, which allows its subscribers to track participating friends and family on their mobile phones.


Apple's iPhone is 3rd most shipped smartphone
According to a recent report from Canalys, Apple's iPhone is the third-best selling smartphone in the world. The iPhone had a 6.5 percent market share worldwide during the fourth quarter


Americans Recycled less than 10% of Mobile Phones
Only 9.4% of Americans who bought new mobile phones last quarter recycled their old handsets, a survey from iSuppli Corp’s consumerTrak service says. This is double the number of phones recycled in the third quarter of 2007 but well below the numbers hoped for


Will Watch Ads For Free Games
The vast majority of people — 90 percent, to be precise — will watch ads if it means they get to play games for free, according to a report presented by RealNetworks at the Casual Connect conference in Amsterdam.

Notable Thoughts : Weekend Edition

“A thought which does not result in an action is nothing much, and an action which does not proceed from a thought is nothing at all” - Anonymous. Few notable thoughts that are worth sharing and spreading.


Does the World Need Another Way to Search?
Google’s dominance in online search hasn’t stopped hundreds of startups from trying to build a better mousetrap. Each is trying a new twist on search: geography, crowdsourcing, tags, user annotations, learned hierarchies and timelines. With $20 billion spent on online advertising every year, a killer search application can make a lot of money.


'Second Life' Players Face Real Financial Losses
If you find recent economic news depressing, imagine what your avatar might be going through. The online fantasy game Second Life has shut down its virtual banks. The closure has had some genuine economic consequences for players, who invest real money into the fantasy lives of their alternative selves, or avatars.


OpenID Has Big New Friends
Digital minimalists got a big lift this morning when Microsoft, Google, VeriSign and IBM all said they’d begin supporting OpenID, the open-source standard that seeks to enable consumers to use a single identity and password to log in to any web site on the Internet.


And now BarCamp Junior in Trivandrum …catching em’ young
the first BarCamp Junior was held recently at the College of Engineering, Trivandrum. This was a evening gathering, with the aim of getting students kicked up about starting a company while in college


Where are the IMS applications?
Graham Finnie, Chief Analyst at Heavy Reading chaired the panel asked : Where are the IMS applications? ( a now familiar question to many) - He then followed up by asking 'Does anyone have a good word to say about IMS'?


Years of irrelevance
Like chefs, like programmers. Peopleware quotes a study that six months seemed to be the cut-off point for programmers. Once they had six months under their belt, the platform knowledge was no longer the bottleneck in their abilities.


Ask 37signals: How do you document code?
The short answer is that we don’t document our projects. At least not in the traditional sense of writing a tome that exists outside of the code base that somebody new to a project would go read. I haven’t ever seen that work consistently and successfully at any software company I’ve been involved with


To VC or Not to VC – That is the question??? 
Ramneek Gupta of Battery Ventures, a Silicon Valley based top tier VC firm that is now active in the Indian space as well shares his perspective about VCs & startups and about a question that bothers every startup entrepreneur - "To VC or Not to VC...".

Friday, February 8, 2008

Is Tata's Rs.1 Lakh car, Nano good for India?

I asked this question to many of my friends and colleagues in Bangalore, their answer was unanimous. A big NO. They are already spending about 3 hours in their commute already and 67% of children in Bangalore are suffering from Asthma and respiratory illnesses, thanks to pollution cover added by alarming increase in automobiles on the narrow roads. When they think about the Rs.1 Lakh car Nano, they could only think of how worse the pollution could get and how their commute time will just double.

I wasn't sure that even the automobile industry is so heavily subsidized. Here is an excellent analysis of what Nano means to Indian economy and its crippling infrastructure.

Last fortnight, when the world’s richest Indian Lakshmi Mittal visited Kolkata, the city of his youth, he was thrilled to see change. Mittal told the media that the biggest difference he saw was the many flyovers dotting the city skyline and “disciplined traffic”. This is great progress, he told journalists, who promptly reported that the tycoon had given the city’s road and traffic management a big thumbs up. I was also in Kolkata that day. But all I could see was lines and lines of traffic, belching black smoke, honking madly. It seemed we were in the same city but on different planets.

This incident best exemplifies the debate on the Nano, the Rs 1 lakh car launched by the Tatas. The Nano, like the Kolkata flyover, is an idea of progress that has captured public imagination. There is no doubt that any car that is small is better than a big car in terms of fuel economy and emissions. There is also no doubt that affordable cars are better than expensive ones. But the question is in what direction is Nano leading us. The issue is not small, cheap cars or big, expensive cars, but all cars. The issue is whether it is helping mobility and at what price.

Let’s take the ‘affordability’ question first. The fact is that cars—small or big—are heavily subsidized. The problem is that when economists (including those who run the government) fret and fume about mounting subsidy bills, they think of farmers—fertilizer, electricity and food—not our cars. But subsidy is what they unquestionably get.

....

Ultimately, it is not about economics. It is about politics and the imagination needed to build cities in which mobility does not mean cars. Flyovers can be built, but only if we know where they will lead.

The Nano-flyover syndrome | Editor's Page | Down To Earth magazine

Subsidies given to Agriculture have been witnessing a downturn in the recent past and it appears we are not moving away from subsidies but we are just redistributing them to the lobbyists. Is having an affordable car is more important than Agriculture?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Quotable Quotes on Software

A friend of mine forwarded these wonderful quotable quotes on Software.

  • UNIX is simple. But It just needs a genius to understand its simplicity. --Dennis Ritchie
  • Before software can be reusable, it first has to be usable. --Ralph Johnson
  • Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment. --Fred Brooks
  • It's hard enough to find an error in your code when you're looking for it; It's even harder when you've assumed your code is error-free. -- Steve McConnell Code Complete
  • The trouble with the world is that the stupid are sure and the intelligent are full of doubt. --Bertrand Russell
  • If debugging is the process of removing bugs, then programming must be the process of putting them in. --Edsger Dijkstra
  • You can either have software quality or you can have pointer arithmetic; You cannot have both at the same time. --Bertrand Meyer
  • There are two ways to write error-free programs; only the third works. --Alan J. Perlis
  • Measuring programming progress by lines of code is like measuring aircraft building progress by weight. --Bill Gates
  • The first 90% of the code accounts for the first 90% of the development time. The remaining 10% of the code accounts for the other 90% of the development time. --Tom Cargill
  • Programmers are in a race with the Universe to create bigger and better idiot-proof programs. The Universe is trying to create bigger and better idiots. So far the Universe is winning. --Anon
  • Theory is when you know something, but it doesn't work. Practice is when something works, but you don't know why it works. Programmers combine Theory and Practice: Nothing works and they don't know why.
  • The Six Phases of a Project: >> Enthusiasm >> Disillusionment
    >> Panic >> Search for the Guilty >> Punishment of the Innocent >> Praise for non-participants
  • No matter how slick (efficient) the demo is in rehearsal, When
    you do it in front of a live audience, the probability of a flawless
    presentation is inversely proportional to the number of people watching, raised to the power of the amount of money involved.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Why 'Free' is no more a Strategy...

The ‘product is free’ but ‘we make money somehow, mostly by ads or VAS’ business model is not that bad at all. I haven’t met a person that is not attracted to ‘free’ or ‘less’. Recent surveys shows that 73% of the people are ready to receive ads on their mobiles for free minutes and ring tones.

With a rare distinction of a few like 37signals, most business models are based on ‘ads’. And it works.

If every service would have been a paid service, I am pretty sure, internet wouldn’t have taken off at all. Starting from the early ‘free’ email services to now ‘almost everything is free’.

I read that even a very successful firm like Webex is seriously considering offering a free ad supported service too, to fight out the new competition: Yugma and the new dimdim.

But, like Peter Drucker said ‘going online is no longer a strategic advantage’, in this current state of affairs, giving it free is not a strategy and it doesn’t attract customers either, unless we provide a service that is useful and makes a difference. If everything is free, being free doesn’t make any difference.

Here is a related thought by Kevin Kelly on how you can make revenue out of a Free product. Worth thinking over and trying it.

Here are his eight ways of making something worth charging for:

Immediacy -- Sooner or later you can find a free copy of whatever you want, but getting a copy delivered to your inbox the moment it is released -- or even better, produced -- by its creators is a generative asset. Many people go to movie theaters to see films on the opening night, where they will pay a hefty price to see a film that later will be available for free, or almost free, via rental or download. Hardcover books command a premium for their immediacy, disguised as a harder cover. First in line often commands an extra price for the same good. As a sellable quality, immediacy has many levels, including access to beta versions. Fans are brought into the generative process itself. Beta versions are often de-valued because they are incomplete, but they also possess generative qualities that can be sold. Immediacy is a relative term, which is why it is generative. It has to fit with the product and the audience. A blog has a different sense of time than a movie, or a car. But immediacy can be found in any media.

Personalization -- A generic version of a concert recording may be free, but if you want a copy that has been tweaked to sound perfect in your particular living room -- as if it were preformed in your room -- you may be willing to pay a lot.  The free copy of a book can be custom edited by the publishers to reflect your own previous reading background. A free movie you buy may be cut to reflect the rating you desire (no violence, dirty language okay). Aspirin is free, but aspirin tailored to your DNA is very expensive. As many have noted, personalization requires an ongoing conversation between the creator and consumer, artist and fan, producer and user. It is deeply generative because it is iterative and time consuming. You can't copy the personalization that a relationship represents. Marketers call that "stickiness" because it means both sides of the relationship are stuck (invested) in this generative asset, and will be reluctant to switch and start over.

Interpretation -- As the old joke goes: software, free. The manual, $10,000. But it's no joke. A couple of high profile companies, like Red Hat, Apache, and others make their living doing exactly that. They provide paid support for free software. The copy of code, being mere bits, is free -- and becomes valuable to you only through the support and guidance. I suspect a lot of genetic information will go this route. Right now getting your copy of your DNA is very expensive, but soon it won't be. In fact, soon pharmaceutical companies will PAY you to get your genes sequence. So the copy of your sequence will be free, but the interpretation of what it means, what you can do about it, and how to use it -- the manual for your genes so to speak -- will be expensive.

Authenticity -- You might be able to grab a key software application for free, but even if you don't need a manual, you might like to be sure it is bug free, reliable, and warranted. You'll pay for authenticity. There are nearly an infinite number of variations of the Grateful Dead jams around; buying an authentic version from the band itself will ensure you get the one you wanted. Or that it was indeed actually performed by the Dead. Artists have dealt with this problem for a long time. Graphic reproductions such as photographs and lithographs often come with the artist's stamp of authenticity -- a signature -- to raise the price of the copy. Digital watermarks and other signature technology will not work as copy-protection schemes (copies are super-conducting liquids, remember?) but they can serve up the generative quality of authenticity for those who care.

Accessibility -- Ownership often sucks. You have to keep your things tidy, up-to-date, and in the case of digital material, backed up. And in this mobile world, you have to carry it along with you. Many people, me included, will be happy to have others tend our "possessions" by subscribing to them. We'll pay Acme Digital Warehouse to serve us any musical tune in the world, when and where we want it, as well as any movie, photo (ours or other photographers). Ditto for books and blogs.  Acme backs everything up, pays the creators, and delivers us our desires. We can sip it from our phones, PDAs, laptops, big screens from where-ever. The fact that most of this material will be available free, if we want to tend it, back it up, keep adding to it, and organize it, will be less and less appealing as time goes on.

Embodiment -- At its core the digital copy is without a body. You can take a free copy of a work and throw it on a screen. But perhaps you'd like to see it in hi-res on a huge screen? Maybe in 3D? PDFs are fine, but sometimes it is delicious to have the same words printed on bright white cottony paper, bound in leather. Feels so good. What about dwelling in your favorite (free) game with 35 others in the same room? There is no end to greater embodiment. Sure, the hi-res of today -- which may draw ticket holders to a big theater -- may migrate to your home theater tomorrow, but there will always be new insanely great display technology that consumers won't have. Laser projection, holographic display, the holodeck itself! And nothing gets embodied as much as music in a live performance, with real bodies. The music is free; the bodily performance expensive. This formula is quickly becoming a common one for not only musicians, but even authors. The book is free; the bodily talk is expensive.

Patronage -- It is my belief that audiences WANT to pay creators. Fans like to reward artists, musicians, authors and the like with the tokens of their appreciation, because it allows them to connect. But they will only pay if it is very easy to do, a reasonable amount, and they feel certain the money will directly benefit the creators. Radiohead's recent high-profile experiment in letting fans pay them whatever they wished for a free copy is an excellent illustration of the power of patronage. The elusive, intangible connection that flows between appreciative fans and the artist is worth something. In Radiohead's case it was about $5 per download. There are many other examples of the audience paying simply because it feels good.

Findability -- Where as the previous generative qualities reside within creative digital works, findability is an asset that occurs at a higher level in the aggregate of many works. A zero price does not help direct attention to a work, and in fact may sometimes hinder it. But no matter what its price, a work has no value unless it is seen; unfound masterpieces are worthless. When there are millions of books, millions of songs, millions of films, millions of applications, millions of everything requesting our attention -- and most of it free -- being found is valuable. 

The giant aggregators such as Amazon and Netflix make their living in part by helping the audience find works they love. They bring out the good news of the "long tail" phenomenon, which we all know, connects niche audiences with niche productions. But sadly, the long tail is only good news for the giant aggregators, and larger mid-level aggregators such as publishers, studios, and labels. The "long tail" is only lukewarm news to creators themselves. But since findability can really only happen at the systems level, creators need aggregators. This is why publishers, studios, and labels (PSL)will never disappear. They are not needed for distribution of the copies (the internet machine does that). Rather the PSL are needed for the distribution of the users' attention back to the works. From an ocean of possibilities the PSL find, nurture and refine the work of creators that they believe fans will connect with. Other intermediates such as critics and reviewers also channel attention. Fans rely on this multi-level apparatus of findability to discover the works of worth out of the zillions produced. There is money to be made (indirectly for the creatives) by finding talent. For many years the paper publication TV Guide made more money than all of the 3 major TV networks it "guided" combined. The magazine guided and pointed viewers to the good stuff on the tube that week. Stuff, it is worth noting, that was free to the viewers.  There is little doubt that besides the mega-aggregators, in the world of the free many PDLs will make money selling findability -- in addition to the other generative qualities. 

Source: Better than Free

Learning Entrepreneurship from a Mother

Found this post via Guy's blog, an email pitch by an Entrepreneur Sherry Couch of BizNiche.  The journey of giving birth to a child is no small feat and demand your best endurance and resilience. Raising a child is altogether a different ball game, I could talk about it just in a few days, with my first hand experience as a new dad.

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  1. I am very good at conceiving an idea.

  2. I can commit to something mind, body, and soul for at least nine months.

  3. I have the ability to over come adversity, such as eating healthily while puking all day.

  4. I can adapt quickly to changing and expanding situations.

  5. I stay focused and motivated even with a lack of oxygen to my brain.

  6. I am creative: Did you know with satin pajamas and satin sheets you can roll over in bed even with an extra sixty pounds.

  7. I am patient—ever known anyone ten months pregnant?

  8. I am cool under pressure: I gave birth to a ten-pound baby without a C-section or a properly functioning epidural and did not curse out my husband.

  9. I am resilient: I went back to work at my company four weeks after giving birth.

  10. I create meaning in the world! Even with all the trials and tribulations of becoming a parent I have chosen to do it twice so far because each new life gives hope and meaning to our world. Just like each new business.

Children are the ultimate startup. And when they leave for college, it’s their IPO. And when they get married, it’s an M & A deal. And like most startups, these milestones usually take longer and cost more than you predicted. Parental success rates, however, are much better than even the best (seed-stage) venture capitalist’s.

Source: "Everything you should know about me as an entrepreneur you could learn from my OB/GYN"

Notable Thoughts : Tuesday Edition

“A thought which does not result in an action is nothing much, and an action which does not proceed from a thought is nothing at all” - Anonymous. Few notable thoughts that are worth sharing and spreading. More notable thoughts here.


Novatium To Raise Second Round Funding of $10-15 Million
The Chennai based thin client company Novatium Solutions is in the market to raise more capital. The company, which did a ‘nano’ to the PC’s much before Tata did that to the auto market, plans to raise about $10-15 million in its next round of funding, reports The Hindu Business Line. It had earlier raised an undisclosed amount of capital from US based venture capital fund New Enterprise Associates (NEA). Novatium had last year commercially launched low-cost personal computers – Nova netPC. It’s a sort of thin client intended to provide computing access to the bottom-of the pyramid computer users in developing countries of Asia and Africa.


Disney aims to raise Bollywood stake - Times Online
Disney owns 14.9 per cent of UTV Software, the parent conglomerate that runs businesses from videogaming to cable television and is one of the most visible presences in India's booming media sector.


AOL to Drop Support for Netscape Browser
AOL will stop providing technical support for the Netscape browser, which gave millions of Americans their first experience in surfing the Web. But Netscape lives on with Firefox, an open-source alternative to Microsoft's Internet Explorer.


More treatment isn’t always the best option
If you or someone you care about is facing decisions about treatment for a serious illness, keep the following in mind: You don’t have to accept the first recommendations you receive Insist on a meaningful conversation with your doctor, spelling out the risks and benefits of tretament Make sure you understand the side effects and success rates of the treatments you’re offered Balance those side effects and success rates against your own quality of life preferences Seek a second or even third opinion if necessary


Here Comes Trouble: The Future of Free
Imagine a world where Internet usage was billed the same way as telephone calls, where visiting a web site on the other side of the world costs more than visiting a web site hosted on the other side of town, and the bill that shows up each month reflects a charge for every link followed. This unthinkable scenario remains a fact of life in the telephone business, thanks to the usage-based financial arrangements involved in network interconnection

Monday, February 4, 2008

DARE - An exclusive Magazine for Indian Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurial eco system is steadily growing up in India. From a majority of Venture Investors establishing their offices in India to showcasing events like Proto.in, from a huge localized web2.0 startups to significant strides in the minds of new graduates, the new Entrepreneurial India is finally getting its due attention.

Here is a new Magazine exclusively for Entrepreneurs (by Cyber Media), called 'Dare'. Currently available only in print media with plans to bring it online. I love the caption, "Dare - Because Entrepreneurs do".

And here is a very daring  'Warning' of declaring its target audience.

 

DARE ONLINE - COMING SOON (DARE - BECAUSE ENTREPRENEURS DO)

Designs Apart : Magento Template Tips

The essence of Marketing is "how best you can translate your idea or product to your target customers".  The goal is to make every effort until your customer clearly understand "what your product can do for them". Web being the pervasive communications medium and the default Front Face of any organization, it is extremely important to design it to translate and adapt continually. "Designs Apart" is a profile of such wonderful and creative web and product designs.

Magento Template Tips

Many software products offer personalization through templates. For example, "WordPress",  one of the best blogging platforms (Thought Garage is also powered by WordPress) offers customization of your blog using Themes/templates. WordPress offers excellent documentation of how a blogger can customize the look and feel of a WordPress powered blog.

Magento, an open source E-commerce software  goes the extra mile in its documentation of 'Customization', providing a visual layout of various parts of the web site and corresponding theme files you need to modify to change the look and feel of a Magento powered online store. (click on image to view larger image)

 

While a Picture is worth of 1000 words, a video demonstration is worth million words of documentation. Magento even created a video demonstration of Template Tips so you know where to look and how to use template file path tips.

Very impressive. Indeed, a web design apart.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

SlideShare: How easy to share your slides?

I wasn't sure why someone want to share their slides online with public.  I never had to, so far. Last week, I gave a training online and I couldn't send handouts to all the audience as they are almost from every corner of the world. So,  I want to share my presentation slides online with selective audience from my last week's training. 

One of my friends mentioned Slideshare could do. So I signed up, only to decide after a couple of minutes that Slideshare is not for me.

 

If you want to share your presentation selectively, SlideShare is a no-go.

If you want to just open your presentation to general public its not an issue. But if you want to selectively share your presentation with a few of your buddies privately, Slideshare is a no go. If you want to share a presentation with your friend, it requires that your friend is also a member of Slideshare. So if you want to share, you must ask your friend to signup with Slideshare and send you an email with his user id.  One more web application. One more password to manage. Too much hassle.

Account Confirmation Confusion

No matter how many times I confirm, it still says, I must confirm. Either it doesn't work or the message is there by mistake.

Hello xxxx! Your account has been created
You must confirm your email address in order to use all SlideShare features. Look in your email inbox for the email we sent you (check bulk/spam folders if you can't find it).

Going back to Google Docs, so sweet.

All web applications talk about usability, but doesn't look like everybody understand. If you want to share a presentation with someone, why would you force that person to become a member of your web application? Isn't too much hassle?

I decided to go back to Google docs. The beauty of Google docs is that if you want to share any doc (document, spreadsheet or a presentation), you don't need your friend to signup for Google docs. All you need is just an email address. So sweet.

SlideShare

Update 2/4/2008: Amit from Slideshare commented that private sharing via a secret URL is already available on Slideshare.net. It appears that just I couldn't find it when I needed it. I logged in to Slideshare.net to use this feature to see how it works, I see text everywhere on Slideshare.net  that explains that I can do privately share the presentations, including this new Ad that popped up when I just refreshed it. The ad says it all.

slideshare

One secret URL may not help me much as I won't be able to track who really is reviewing it, and if somebody publish that URL on their blog, it won't be secret anymore. But, the next option is something that will work for me for now, "embed on password protected websites and intranet sites". That would give me all the protection I am looking for and give me information on who is viewing and who is not. At this point I couldn't figure out a way to get code to embed a private slide share presentation. I will post it once I figure out.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Thomas Friedman : The World is Flat 3.0

Watch the video here.

Back in 2000, Tom Friedman recounts, the world began to shrink and flatten, under the influence of digital interconnectivity. Elaborating on his World is Flat thesis, Friedman describes how this new global order puts creative, entrepreneurial individuals in the driver’s seat, and poses distinct new challenges and opportunities.

The digital platform that connects Bangalore, Boston and Beijing enables users from any of these places to “plug, play, compete, connect and collaborate,” and is changing everything, says Friedman. He lists some basics to keep in mind: Whatever can be done, will be done, “and the only question left is will it be done by you or to you.” 

In our new era, individuals are limited only by their imaginations, so how well universities and schools enable and inspire students will determine who wins in global competition. Innovation, believes Friedman, will come from “having two or more specialties,” from those people able to connect the dots and mash them together.

MIT World » : The World is Flat 3.0

NDTV.com : Fact or Allegation ? Just another twisted title for sensationalism

This is yet another example of NDTV.com’s sensationalism twisted titles. The title says, as if this was a fact, woman made to urinate in pub...