Bizarre Bullet

Last week the most bizarre thing happened. We found a bullet embedded in our roof. This will take some explaining so let me get down to it.

We have these solar coils on our roof that heat the swimming pool. Water is pumped up into these coils made of black PVC like material where it gets heated by the sun and then goes into the pool. It doesn’t use photovoltaic cells which coverts solar energy into electricity. It has worked well so far.

Last week my wife noticed water leaking and called the company that installed it for us. The technician went up on the roof. He fixed the leak and then brought down this most interesting artifact – a two inch length of tubing with a bullet in it.


Web 2.0 – Dotcom Redux?

TechCrunch recently posted a link to, a self-proclaimed complete directory of Web 2.0. (I would recommend you try the link only if you have broadband) It is quite a nifty AJAX web-site with a logo-listing of a whole bunch of Web 2.0 startups, which are organized by date and tags.

If you haven’t had enough of the whole AJAX-social networking-folksonomy-long tail thing, this website should cure that for you. There are 283 startups featured on the website. That doesn’t tell you much. But when you find out that there are 26 companies working on some form of bookmarking, you know there is kool-aid being drunk in large quantities somewhere.


Startup – Tips and Tools

As we make our way through the woods on Gridstone Research, the startup that I work at, I often come across tools and methods on solving problems that are probably the same problems that many other startups or larger businesses face. Sometimes we struggle for a bit and then find something that works well. If I think it might be useful to others, I plan to post them here.
Here’s a solution that I came upon recently to a problem that many people in Marketing face. At Gridstone, given the stage at which we are I run the Marketing function myself. Getting the web-site right is something I end up spending a lot of time on. The marketing consulting firm that works very closely with us. As we iterate through design ideas for a variety of things like the home page shown here, it is not efficient or effective to write feedback notes in emails. When you are dealing with graphical images, you need tools that work well in that medium.

Tech Blowback

Heard this really interesting anecdote from friends at Infosys.

Infosys’ Enterprise Solutions group implements ERP and other packaged software for their clients. Infosys also does ongoing maintenance for software companies on their packaged software. Sometimes ongoing maintenance involves what is called Level 3 support where a software developer needs to take the call from a user because it goes into detailed technical stuff.

So the story goes like this. Infosys ES while implementing a package for some client in the US encountered a problem with the software that they needed help with before they could proceed. They talked to the client who told them to call the software vendor’s help line. The Infosys consultant in Pune then calls the vendor’s toll-free number. He starts talking to the guy at the other end. He’s getting this echo on the phone. He walks towards the voice and lo and behold, the guy on the other end of the phone is right there in Infosys Pune on the same floor!

The Unfinished Business of Labour Reform

Property rights form the fundamental bedrock of capitalism. In a capitalistic society an individual’s right to own property and dispense with it as he deems fit, must be protected. Only then is the individual encouraged to invest money and effort to add to his property. (Here the term property applies to all assets, not just real estate)

If India is to keep the momentum going on its recent economic growth, it must strengthen the pillars that hold up the edifice of capitalism in the country. Property rights are the most important ones. There are many laws like the rent control act that impact an individual’s right to property. In some cases, the inability of the state to protect its citizens’ property may be construed as something that erodes property rights. I see labour inflexibility in India in the same light. Many will not agree with me on this. I believe that shareholders of a company ‘own’ the company. Not allowing the company to conduct its business as it deems fit, including hiring and firing employees, is in effect constraining the shareholders’ rights to property.


The Future of Business English

If you are in India you probably hear the phrase ‘Tell me’ many times a week from someone who just answered your call. The phone conversation goes something like this. ‘Hi, this is Basab.’ The other guy says ‘Oh hi Basab. Tell me.’

‘Tell me’ is a literal translation of ‘Bolo’ in Hindi or something equivalent in other Indian languages. This is a uniquely Indian phrase. Good English would require ‘Tell me’ to have an object at the end of it. Like ‘Tell me why’ or ‘Tell me something’.


Any Press is Good Press: Tell that to Dell

You may have heard of this adage – Any press is good press. In this new world where news is not news until the blogosphere gets a hold of it, I propose that we retire it. Its a quaint idea but its time is past.

On August 14th Dell announced that it would recall 4.1 million lithium ion batteries made by Sony. Then news weighed heavily on the already drooping stock price of Dell and seems to have had some impact on Sony’s as well.


Review: Never Say Goodbye

So you can’t say you never saw a Bollywood movie reviewed on this blog, here’s one.Last night my wife and I went and saw Kabhi Alvida Na Kahna (Never Say Goodbye). We got a baby-sitter for the kids and went and saw the 7pm show at Naaz8, the local Indian cineplex. This was the first day and the shows were all sold out. I haven’t done this in a while and it was great fun.


Go South, Young Man

A few months back in a post on ‘Paperbacks in India’ I had talked about how information products have some interesting challenges when it comes to pricing in the developing world. I believe that in what is called Software as a Service (or SaaS) – basically web-based hosted software like your internet banking software or even Yahoo Mail – there are significant opportunities for Indian technologists.


Indian websites haven’t earned my trust

The other day I had to create a user id on an Indian financial news web-site. I wanted to create a portfolio that included mutual funds and Yahoo Finance doesn’t cover Indian mutual funds. The portfolio worked alright, but eventually I decided to keep it on Yahoo Finance after all. That should have been that.

But then I started getting email from that web-site. One email a day about products, investment ideas and news summaries that I had no interest in. I did not opt to get these emails. That was foul number one.