Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tax, Regulate, Subsidize

Picked up this interesting quote from the last edition of the Week magazine:
“The government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”- Ronald Reagan.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Smile, smile, smile!

I just couldn't resist putting this here. Thanks to for this wonderful lead :) :) :)

In times like these, a smile might make a big difference :)

Friday, December 05, 2008

Proto Jan'09 Edition '08 Delhi edition was one event that really helped us (Eko) in many ways- the least of which was giving us a chance to learn the art of making a good demo (or 'proto') presentation that fit in a 3 minute slot:).  It is an event that is a queer but mature mix of professionalism and volunteerism.

The enthusiasm shown by the organizers esp. the 'curator' Vijay Anand (must try and get to know what energy drinks he gulps) is plain infectious. Trust me, the exercise is well worth it especially if you do get a chance to be one of the dozen odd companies that can get a slot to present there. 

Even otherwise, the event is a good dip-stick to gauge the current state of affairs in the startup space. Also, given the right circumstances, vital-statistics, and some match-making magic, it could be a potential dating opportunity for an entrepreneur with an Angel/ VC/ Mentor. So if you are a startup guy located elsewhere in India and dont mind heading to Bangalore (/Bengalooru - I hope the spelling is right!) or are there already - do try and make it a point to attend the Jan'09 edition.

Here's the badge for the event. Do spread the word around.

Happy Proto and Best wishes!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Bill Gates at Uttam Nagar

We were told that some senior officials from the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation would be visiting our pilot site at Uttam Nagar (Delhi) and that we had to give them a demo.

Almost 9:00 am on the 4th, we were pleasantly surprised to see Bill Gates himself along with a few other family members walk in to our small office there!

Bill Gates came across as a keen listener, sharp thinker, avid note-taker and someone who asked just the right questions. It is always a pleasure interacting with someone who just needs the bullet points and obvious sub-points never need to be stated :). To be honest, not many people in high positions to whom we have spoken to (or tried to speak to) were as down-to-earth and even a fraction as sharp as he was. In fact, most 'top' guys would rather send their subordinates for a visit rather than take the pain and time for visiting a place like this.

He even took time to visit 'Gupta Medicos' a shop which used be an 'Eko Relationship Center' to hear first-hand what they felt about Eko.

All in all, that was one great day in each Eko member's life. In spite of our challenges, the very fact that we seem to be on a track which has at least created a 'micro' interest in a man no less than Bill Gates himself is something that gives our team a huge boost.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Ever wondered why almost all projection sheets always predict company breakeven in three or five years (odd numbers ;) )?

Whats so great about the numbers 3 and 5 that have caught the collective fancy of investors and entrepreneurs alike? Any ideas on its origins? Does it have anything to do with the average lifetime/ working-life of a person?

Friday, October 24, 2008

myMobile extends myMemory { reQall () }

"Imagine being able to talk to your phone while it intelligently organizes your utterances into your Calendar, Notes or To-Dos."
Disclaimer: I'm just about to give all iPhone and Blackberry users an big dose of ego boost and everyone else a sense of envy (apologies).

I have a confession to make, I am an extremely forgetful person. I mean, if my wife asks me to buy a pack of bread, a dozen eggs, a pack of butter and toothpaste; I'd most likely forget the toothpaste. To take care of this I'd begun to jot notes - Post-It style. That mostly used to work, except when I'd forget to take the Post-It notes themselves! :). That said, I do not recall having forgotten to take my mobile phone - ever; its almost become an extension of me - a part of my identity.

"Imagine being able to simply right-click on this webpage and add this post to your list of The-Greatest-Posts-Ever-Made list (just kidding ;) )"

In my 'phone of the future' vision, my handset would seamlessly extend the function of my brain and one department of my brain which could do with some serious extension is my memory.

Let me cut the chase and get to the point. A few days ago, I was pleasantly surprised when I read somewhere about reQall. While they do not claim to have any direct neural interface to my brain yet, they claim to be able do be supplement my memory!

In their words, this is the 'simple' problem they'd solved: "Ever had a brilliant idea while driving, but couldn't write it down? Needed to remember something, but didn't have a pen?"

Being a Blackberry user, I downloaded this cool app from [Note: reQall for BlackBerry requires OS version 4.2.0 or higher.]. It integrates seamlessly with my device. So now I can fire up the app click the 'Add by Voice' Option and speak "Meeting with John Doe, prepare the presentation". reQall transmits this voice signal to its server where it does a voice-to-text conversion and sends me an email apart from adding the event to my calendar and reQall interface! And the best part - it works.

reQall gave me a pleasant deja-vu as well! Back at TinfoMobile we'd developed a similar app which won us an award at the Reliance-NASSCOM Developer Contest. We'd made an app that helped the visually impaired by reading out SMS and Call History in Voice. We did the exact opposite of reQall. We transmitted the SMS text over GPRS to a server where a Text-to-Speech engine converted it to Voice and this was played back by a Media-Player instance on the phone (it worked even on a very basic and cheap Reliance Java Black-and-White handset).

There are a dozen other things you could do with reQall and I'm sure it would increase your productivity one small notch higher. Do give it a shot. Its innovation at its best and is powered by Indian brains. Its a company called QTech founded by Sunil Vemuri and N. Rao Machiraju. Three cheers for the duo!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Beating Recession

While stock markets are crashing left , right and center, I salute the spirit of its entrepreneurs who despite the seemingly pervasive gloom are battling on with their dreams. If there is anything that can get us all out of the mess we are in - its folks like these.

Beneath the speculative value of any company lies its real worth, based on the value it delivers to people it touches. As long as these foundations are strong, I guess it will be able to survive the bloodbath. While it is true that the prevailing conditions will pull even the strong ones down, persistence will pull them through sooner or later.

It is important for all leaders to now focus on shedding their flab and concentrate on sharpening their cutting edges. If possible - spread a little cheer around. Even 'recession' is a matter of the mind, if you don't mind it does not matter. If there is a collective decision to beat it, we should be able to beat it.

To all who have lost a lot the past few weeks, as difficult as it might sound - let go completely or hold on blindly. The few fleeting moments in our life are too precious to be wasted on whats past! Dream on!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Startup and Family

A few weeks before my wedding, one of my good friends called up my fiance and told her that she better be aware that I was already married! Thankfully, before she could slam the phone down, they explained that the 'other person' that occupied a major share in my life was my laptop . 'Phew!' she thought.; A laptop, huh; my friends sure had a good sense of humor; surely that was a harmless joke!

To cut a long story short, we got married, were blessed with a child and have lived happily ever after :). That's too good to be true, too true not to be a fairy tale! The truth is, she's had to adjust a lot, sacrifice a lot and lower her expectations a lot; thanks to all that - we've had a great adventure together. I'm now in my second startup. The first was as a founder and the second is as an employee. Interestingly however, I don't find too much deviation in the state of affairs in either roles. Bottomline: a startup is a startup because its a startup! otherwise it would've been called something else. A cosy life in any startup is a non-truth/ delusion :).

Trust me on this one - startups and family rarely gel well; they're kindof like oil and water - shake them up together as much as you want, but in the end - you'll see a clear but thin line separating them. One might argue that the same holds for any job - perhaps so, I really will not be the best person to comment on that. There are a few things that make life in a startup different.

1. Commitment. Startup is a commitment that stems from you, especially so if you are a core founder, but none the less if you are a committed employee. A true commitment is a strange force of nature. It is one binding, blinding force that makes one oblivious to other forces. A Family too is a commitment, it too requires a great deal of attention and care. When two equally strong commitments come side by side, it is quite possible at times to slight one and lean more towards the other. Thats when either or both suffer; either the startup or your family or worse - both.

2. Money. This is one big factor that truly differentiates a startup from a regular job. You will see/ hear of your friends having a weekend party in Tumbuktu, buying an apartment, car etc... while you sit day and night on your laptop to make sure you meet some stupid deadline that just might pay you just enough to clear the credit card bills. Prepare to be not able to buy that home theater system, not to be able to gift her a diamond pendant and even cut down at times on your grocery spends. Sure, the entrepreneur in you might understand all that and consider it a 'part of life' but trust me again - its not easy (or proper) to expect your near and dear to 'appreciate' the same.

3. Time. Consider this: On an good day in a typical job, one might use 1 hour to get ready, 2 hours to commute, spend 10 hours at a desk, 1 hour with an 'important' client (imho - all clients are important) and 7 hours to sleep and rest. Now, a day can't be stretched beyond the 24 hours it wholeheartedly offers and that leaves 3 hours with your family. A startup can squeeze even the 3 hours out and leave you feeling high and dry. If one is lucky enough not to be flying around the globe on sales assignments and one does have a good day as mentioned above, let me assure you that good 'ol Murphy will ensure that the kitchen sink develops a leak or some obscure electric fuse blows off or some client threatens to impose the penalty clause. All that translates into - very less time.

4. Mindshare. Perhaps all the three above are just different faces of the same thing. In a startup you have to be as cunning as a fox and as agile as a snake - soon you're soon vulture food. Running a startup needs a lot of thought - deep thought. It is difficult to think about the strategy to blow your competition out of the sky while thinking about how your child might be coping with the recent bout of flu and worrying about your spends zooming towards your credit limit.

Here's my honest advice to anyone willing to be a part of a startup - make sure you understand what you're getting into.

If you're about to get married and are passionate about your startup - think twice. If after a lot of thought, you still feel you need to take the plunge - make sure your fiance understands what you've gotten into and are getting her into.

If you're married and are planning to have a child, think thrice. -If after a real lot of thought, if you and your spouse are really determined, prepare well in advance for the additional expenses and responsibilities. Care before and after childbirth and raising a child is no child's play.

Try and cultivate a sense of adventure. If you get a chance - try and learn tightrope walking. Learning how to concentrate and balance while swaying on a thin line is an essential trait of the trade.

Having said all this;Having someone to talk to when you're down and seeing your little one smile when you get back home - priceless. For everything else you will need a MasterCard. Even a Visa might do just fine.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Google wants your IDEA!

Project 10100

All ye web void fellas,
Bin 10 years since Google's bin foolin 'round with yer surrchs and clix,
Now, it wants your Ideas!
Yea you heard it damn rite
Callit Project 10 to the 100 or somethin,
They've kept $10 mill to cook it if it smells good,
Well beware, in case yer think it will make yer dollah rich or somethin,
It will make yer rich only in 'Karma' points.

Ye wanna make a better world? Watch this tube-shot of what its all about in googlespeak:

So, do you have an idea to gift baby google (the world) ? Submit your entry by 10th October.

As they say, 'May those who help the most win!' Seriously, if you have a great idea that would've anyway stayed in your closet, go ahead and give it a chance :)

In case you have no ideas and no way to kill a few minutes, try Google Genesis ;)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

B2BC again. Hello, this is your phone speaking

Well, another news that reinforces my projection that the ultimate mobile interfaces will be neural in nature. Do check out my previous posts on what I think the future of communications will be. I call it B2BC. reports Brain Controlled Cell Phones. This time its a company called 'NeuroSky'.

Here's how it works (image courtesy: NeuroSky):

Whats really interesting about NeuroSky is the fact that they seem to offer Developer APIs and Kits. That's one helluva right move which could unleash unlimited creativity. I mean, if they had closed up the tech wishing to make all the applications by themselves, there would have been only as much as they could do (how many maverick employees can they have? A hundred odd perhaps? How many enthusiast mavericks are out there in the wild on the net? A couple a hundred thousand perhaps!) . Well, we should now be seeing more applications of this technology. I wish I had more time on my hands- I'd have definitely ordered one of those! If you are an electronics or software enthusiast/ student and are looking forward to a 'different' kinda project - you know what you need to do :). Do let me know how you get along, please.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

VC with a Funny-bone

We have seen (/ at least heard of) VCs of different shapes and sizes - tall, short, dark, fair, frank, unfrank, angel, devil, good, bad and ugly. I hereby reveal a VC with a funny bone! Yup, finally, a Venture Capitalist with a good sense of humor :) - its called Tandem Entrepreneurs.
(Disclaimer: I only know them through their website)

Their website is peppered with Cartoons that get the point across to the reader without wasting words and time. Cute, to-the-point and well - very visual.
The following image, for instance hogs their front-page (courtesy: tandementrepreneurs):

Appearances could be deceptive! but I couldn't resist talking about them here. Full marks for 'engaging' a potential entrepreneur's attention, appearing friendly and approachable.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Alltop, confirmation that I kick ass

AllTop is a different way of looking at the way we interact with the internet. Simply put, its a directory of all the 'top' active (rss feed based) content on the web. 'Top' though has an entirely different perspective at AllTop. Do visit the about section of AllTop to know the story behind it.

Anyways, the badge above states what it means - kicks ass ;).'s the more interesting bit - I got the confirmation email from none other than Guy Kawasaki himself!!! :) I wouldn't have been happier if Super-man himself had sent me a postcard when I was a kid ;-).

Wish you all a great week ahead. And before I forget, do checkout 'Tech News' and the 'India' section when you visit AllTop. Ciao!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Delhi blast

We had just finished watching the movie Aamir (a movie with a terrorist bombing story) and were on our way to Nehru Place when our friends and family phoned in to ask if we were alright. Thank God we were lucky not being in one of those places one of those times - a hundred other Delhiites, no different from us were unfortunately not. Pray that the families who lost their loved ones find peace and those injured recover soon.

Planting bombs that kill or maim innocents is a cowardly act that helps no cause, religious or otherwise. But yes, it spreads terror and I guess that's what the perpetrators want.

I wish India could form a well funded, really professional and technologically advanced team to gather intelligence and make investigations. The state of affairs as it appears to a lay person like me (and I could be wrong) is that given resources, anything is possible here and one can get away with it. It seems too huge and too populous for any agency to keep an eye on.

Delhi on Phone

What if you just stepped out on the road and wanted to find a good Punjabi restaurant at Delhi without spending a paise?
Google lab says (yes its google, again) :

Dial from any phone
(toll free)

And it will even SMS you back the info! So does that mean good-bye Just-Dial? - perhaps the only other 'known' but un-free option? - Would love hear someone opine more on this.

Now, what if just stepped out on the road and wanted to find the best road route (Delhi) from Nehru Place to the International Airport? (note: this is an un-free option) Thats where RouteGuru helps

SMS from your mobile
rg Source to Destination

eg: rg Nehru Place to International Airport
(not toll free)

There's something more you get gratis with routeguru- the estimated auto fare. So, make sure the auto guys don't take you for a ride :).

Friday, September 12, 2008

Wish you a Happy Onam

Onam (Do click this wiki link to read the interesting mythology behind it) in essence is the harvest festival of Kerala -a beautiful coastal state on the southern tip of India.
This place is really green and is a good destination to 'reset' yourself, just in case you feel you need a break.

Me's proud to be a Keralite :)

Wish you a Happy Onam!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Genesis of the Google World

Google seems to be taking over the web in ways that I could not have imagined! so much so that I get a feeling it is almost playing 'God' on the web ;). The following verses have been penned in a fit of web-vine inspiration.

From the book of Genesis, of the World Wide Web.

Chapter 1.
In the beginning, folks created the Computer and then the Internet. The Web was then formless and dark, but Google's thoughts were already moving fast over it. Google said, "Let there be a good search engine" and there was a good search engine. Folks saw that search was good and separated information from the junk. Folks called the search Google and everything else Crap. There were ripoffs and other vain attempts, but they passed, to bring about the second day.

Then Google thought, "Let all the emails be gathered in one place and let unlimited storage appear", and it was so. Google called the emails GMail and everything else Spam. Folks saw that it was good.

Then Google said, "Let Google sprout Advertisements, links yielding clicks and pages bearing targeted ads of their kind"; and it was so. The search and pages brought forth eyeballs, eyeballs clicks and clicks dollars and Google saw that it was good. There were ripoffs and other vain attempts, but they passed, to bring about the third day.

Then Google said, "Let there be docs that folks could freely share over the expanse of the Internet"; and it was so. Google made these apps for documents and for presentations. They made one for Spreadsheets also. And Folks (including those at MS and Y!) saw that it was good. There were ripoffs and other vain attempts, but they passed, to bring about the fourth day.

Then Google said, "Let swarms of folks download apps on their PCs to talk freely over the internet and let there be more of social networking stuff flying around on the internet". Google created the GTalk app and Orkut and put them up everywhere it could. The mission was to "Multiply users, multiply clicks and multiply ad dollars". There were ripoffs and other vain attempts, but they passed, to bring about the fifth day.

Then Google said, "Let there be a google app for everything on the web, each according to its kind". And there was google news for the news hungry, a google Android for the mobile, a google blogspot for the bloggers, google maps for the way-trackers, sketchup for the sketchers, Earth for the desktop-globetrotters and even google Moon for the moon gazers". And Google saw that all this was really good :).

Then Google said, "Let us make the Browser in our own likeness/ liking, in our own web-form, and let it rule over ALL that is on the web - email, pages, blogs, maps - ALL". Google created the Browser in its own image and called it Chrome, for Windows and Macs (in the labs). Google funded the project and said, "Be fruitful and multiply, fill the web and subdue it, rule the MS of the desktops, FF and Y! of the internet and every living app on the web".

Then Google said, "Behold, I have given Chrome every dollar yielding ad source that is on the ether of the world wide web, they shall be click generators for it. Every web-app, every line of code shall freely live on java-script and cookies". Google saw all that it had made, and behold, it was very good. There were ripoffs and other vain attempts, but they passed, to bring about the sixth morning.

Chapter 2.
Thus the Internet and the Desktop were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day Google completed all the work and folks at Googleplex took a break and a few took a rest in their private islands in the Bahamas.

...(They perhaps don't have a clue what monsters they have created! Whew, watch on folks! Anupam is tired re-creating the story of creation of the web, and wishes to take rest...zzz)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Eko nominated at Tata NEN Hottest Startups

Eko has been nominated for the TATA NEN Hottest Startups awards. Brought to you by National Entrepreneurship Network and TATA Group, in association with Helion, Mint , Seedfund and Wadhwani Foundation, it is India’s only community-chosen awards for Indian start-ups.

Vote for Eko online by clicking the link below: or via sms.
SMS HOT[space]85 to 56767.

If you are a startup yourself and want to be nominated, go right ahead and nominate your venture. I guess the last date is mid October.

A big thank you to all! Let the voting begin.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Every startup needs a Turk Salesman

Salesmen are a different breed altogether; Jayadev used to say - "...folks who can sell Ice to an Eskimo" :). Unfortunately, most technology startups entirely ignore the need for someone in this role.

Techies, especially the startup types, are usually an egoistic bunch - nerds, who scarcely care to see much beyond the 100 lines of code on their PC screens. They think that putting together a software package that can solve some stupendous equation for non-linear-geometric-nth-dimension-extrapolation-of-whatever-crap is the ultimatest thing on the planet. They think - just make the stuff and hordes of buyers will descend on their shop-front to purchase boatloads of it giving bucket-loads of cash - alas! I used to be one of them, almost.

The truth is, when you start, it really does not matter how good your product/ services might be. What matters is how best you can package 'it' and how best you can sell it - and how fast.

The truth is, actually, it is fine even if you DONT exactly have what you're trying to sell as long as you can convince a potential buyer that you have something he wants (Microsoft had sold DOS to IBM even though they never made it/ had it. Do read this BusinessWeek article: The Man Who Could Have Been Bill Gates).

The truth is, you need a real salesman in your team - and he better be one of the best talkers in town. A litmus test might be to ask such a person the size of his/her linkedIn network and to rattle off the names of 50 influential contacts in rapidfire (Now, if this person is able to convince you and do all this stuff, and you come to know that he does not even have a linkedIn account - hire him!).

Sales people on rocket boosters are guys who can be chief spokesmen - 'Sultans of Spin'. Do watch this funny movie: Thank You For Smoking, to get a taste of the required attitude and aptitude.

Experience has taught me to have immense respect for these folks who sell well. Now, if these guys can sell ice to Eskimos, imagine what they could do if asked to sell 'em hot chocolate!

That brings me to the story of the Turk Salesman. I was led to this story by a reference from Guy Kawasaki's blog. I'd been reading about the art of persuasion and this article titled: What I learned Buying a Rug in Turkey, just about packs in all about it. Well, do read it and if you haven't already - get a Turk salesman in your team - ASAP!

PS: Now I know why they call the program on CNBC - 'Young Turks'.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

6+ Essential Software Tools for a startup that cost zero

If you're a startup starting up or planning to be one, here's a handy list of stuff that could help you bootstrap - the bare essentials. Trust me, its just another one of those lists - but one that I can vouch for. So if you have a better one, you're welcome, just add a link to your list in the comments section. My advice - don't use pirated software, either buy original stuff or search the web for a free alternative (there always is)

1. The Ubuntu way.
If you have a decent PC and zilch account balance, just close your eyes and take an Ubuntu leap of faith. Ubuntu is a great Linux distro that more-or-less works straight out of the box. Just check out how you could get it for free! The best part is that if you go the Ubuntu way - you might as well stop reading right here cause it packs in quite a lot of the 'good' stuff you'd need.

2. The WindowsXP way.
I'm no fan of Windows Vista to put it mildly, if you intend to go the Windows way, better take the simpler and well trodden path of Windows XP. This option of course comes with a price tag.

a. Mozilla Firefox

The best free browser - period. Trusted by millions others, one of the best outcomes of the open-source world. Get Firefox here. Its an excellent replacement for the slightly rusty Internet Explorer (which has been desperately trying to play catchup).

b. Mozilla Thunderbird
A real lightweight email client for your desktop, of course, sans the bells and whistles of the Outlook Express clan. But, it works and it works real fast and real good. Get Thunderbird here.

c. OpenOffice
Of course it lacks the bells and whistles of Microsoft Office! But, come on, you're a startup and don't have a boatload of cash to spend on purchasing licenses. With a document editor, a presentation maker, spreadsheet util and other few other tools thrown in - OpenOffice is a real bargain for the price you pay for it (ZERO). Whats really good about it is you can always read documents that had been saved in MS formats and you can Save As MS .doc, .xls, .ppt. Also, you can seamlessly export any document as .pdf with a single click!

d. Google Apps

Welcome to the connected world. To get your startup off its feet and into the mindshares of potential employees, investors, partners, clients and customers, you need a communication and collaboration tools. Thats what a set of apps - Google Apps does.
The best thing about google apps - gmail for your company. Its a really reliable mail server which gives your team a fully functional, online, kindof email suite (which you can use with Mozilla Thunderbird as well). Goodbye tinkering with boxes trying to set up your own mail server and wondering why your email never reached its recipient.

e. Tortoise, Subversion
Now, this one is for those who might be slightly tech oriented, but trust me, this is one tool that can save you bucket-loads of tears when things go wrong with your PCs or you do things like SHIFT+DEL with that critical source code file or you accidentally delete your most famous quote from the document that you had put in a day before (these things, let me assure you - they will! - amen, says Murphy)

So, viola! we have a free version control system. What this means is that you can now track all changes you made to any file or folder, have multiple people modifying the same file but in different geo-locations and still maintain perfect sanity.

It essentially consists of two parts:
- Subversion, - the server, which you can install either on your own computer (that means it will only function as a limited tracker - sorry folks, no collaborations this way- to each his own) or on a server that could be accessed by all folks in your team.

- TortoiseSVN. A Windows client shell that makes all your subversion tasks as easy as a right click on any file you might want to be 'subversioned'.

Integrated Development Environment

This ones for all ye developers out there. If you're already a developer, I'd bet you already have your fav toolbox with you. But in case you're still undecided or want to choose a uniform one for your organization; pls make a pick else, as google reader often tells me - you'd better land here.

f.1 Netbeans
It says its the "The only IDE you need! Runs on Windows, Linux, Mac OS X and Solaris.... Supports: Ajax | C/C++ | Databases | Debugger |Java EE | JavaFX | Java ME | Java SE | JavaScript | Mobile | PHP | REST | Rich Client Platform | Ruby | SOA | SOAP | UML | Web | WSDL | XML". We'd used it extensively for mobile app development and apart from the fact that it needs a good amount of RAM, Netbeans rocks!

f.2 Eclipse
Eclipse is considered a more mature IDE of two and has its loyal base of users with many companies coming up with their own custom Eclipse IDE to do different things.

Well, that brings me to the end of my list though there are a couple of tools that only a pure techie would need and would rather try n figure out on his/ her own. I think with this you have just about everything essential to get started. So - get started!

The Real Steve Jobs - iStuff

This is a pretty popular (over 2 mill views), a bit old (2k6) but a pretty motivational clip - the kinda stuff that fuels inspiration - iStuff.

Be inspired!

Mobile and the non/semi literate

One of the roles that I take on at Eko is that of a an observer of the mobile-and-user relationship. While yesteryear's India might have been defined by a turban-clad snake charmer, a man on the street clutching a mobile handset very much describes an average Indian today.

A mobile based service (like eko) which aims at reaching out to a billion such 'mobile' Indians today has to contend with another truth - illiteracy. If this Times of India article is right, our illiterate population equals the entire population of the USA!

At Tinfo Mobile, this fact had driven me to design an application series titled TeachMe Akshara which would run on even the basic mobile handsets supporting Java (which were then being given out by Reliance Communications for prices as low as 500 bucks). The purpose of this app was to teach its users the basic alphabets of Indian languages. This news article on Digit magazine talked about that app. Unfortunately, that app never got formally deployed and I've moved on.

What was amazing about Eko was that the great folks here had put in a great deal of research and thought into this problem and had come out with a mobile interface that could be used by even the most basic mobile user, because the solution involved nothing more than dialing!

Resonating with the Eko team's findings, is this research paper published a few years ago by the Nokia Research Center authored by Jan Chipchase - a pioneer in mobile usage research. Here is a link to the research paper titled: Understanding Non-Literacy as a Barrier to Mobile Phone Communication

The following excerpt is particularly interesting:

The simple answer is that non-literate mobile phone users can call, but cannot message or use the address book. The subtleties are more interesting than this.

Two basic tasks were easy for almost all our participants to complete: turning on the phone and answering an incoming call. Beyond this, there were various degrees of success. Dialing a local phone number is relatively easy, but problems can occur when there are variations such as dialing a national or international number, or using IP telephone prefixes. ...

iPhone iNdia - dUd dEal

iPhone+ India - I can only imagine what these two put (well) together could have resulted in (lets for a moment even forget the fact that it is a an awfully buggy device - the new 3G version, that is)! Unfortunately, that was not to be.

For the price INR 31K (thats $700! @44), iPhone will have to be satisfied with a couple of thousand units in sale - if they are lucky. Wish some telco really had the guts to come out with a $200, roughly (INR 8800) iPhone. Imagine what a crowd that would have resulted in. I'm sure the headlines would have been something like - 'Total Traffic Chaos. Delhi roads blocked on the new iPhone launch'. I'm sure those who have seen the real India would agree - we are a billion strong magnets (suckers) for mobile phones priced right. I'm sure a million units could have been sold in the first few weeks then - imagine the ARPU these could have generated (iPhone is a proven data services guzzler).

Well, nothings lost, iPhone's loss will be Samsungs', Nokias' and Sony Ericssons' gain! It only means that I will have to contend with my taxi driver holding on to his Nokia N 70!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Eko Presentation at

Eko was one of the companies that presented at the July edition of The following is a video recording of the same, gives one a good view on how it works.

'Encyclopaedia Britannica' as a measurement unit

You might have come across descriptions such as this-
"such and such thing....can store the equivalent of 10000 Encyclopedia Britannicas in one square millimeter ..."
Amazing :) - I regularly come across such expressions in almost every memory related electronic/ software description. In this google-wikipedia-(and knol - is already called a unit of knowledge) age, the good ol' encyclopedia has been reduced to a measurement unit ;). I'd propose- the International Standards Organization come up with an official unit named 'EB' which could either be a unit of Mass (those books are pretty bulky) or Memory (enough of KiloBytes!) :)

Randy Pausch

Here's a post dedicated in memory of Randy Pausch who passed away on 25th July 2008. Like millions of others, I came to know about this personality through a YouTube video and have been struck by his words at the 'Last Lecture' titled 'Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams':

True, we never think of dying - that inevitably, one day we will simply 'fly away'. Randy was keenly aware of that fact and made sure he left behind a legacy of hope.

Related links:
1. His page
2. CMU page dedicated to his lecture

Saturday, August 02, 2008

On-screen Telepresence

The Hologram, "...invented in 1947 by Hungarian physicist Dennis Gabor (Hungarian name: Gábor Dénes) (1900–1979),[1] work for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1971" - as the wiki says, has come a long way and in many incarnations.

Here's another link which gives an excellent idea on how a hologram works.

Having two eyes (and two ears) separated by a distance between them gives us humans what we call the 'stereo' capability; which when roughly explained means the ability to estimate the location of the 'subject' object / sound in a three dimensional space. However, we've been generally quite satisfied by two dimensional capture and reproduction of photographs (I keep a collection at picasaweb :) ). Thanks to broadband internet, good web-cameras, processors and displays, web-conferencing has become a reality. Add to this the growing cost of travel, fuel, time and our new-found concerns for our fragile ecosystem- now we have a good business case for people to arrange 'meetings' over the web.

Still, even an HDTVish quality web-conference for most business is not as 'good enough' as a face-to-face. I don't know how exactly, but I'd trust my sales friends when they say that it just doesn't cut it!

Anyways, despair not! If the folks at Cisco and a UK based company Musion have their way, you'll soon be able to literally transmit the whole of yourself in all its three dimensional glory to anywhere you'd want to be present - over the net, of course.

Check this demo video out that my colleague Abhinav at Eko shared with me a few days back:
This is an actual demonstration by Cisco at Bangalore!

Going through the Musion site, I was surprised to find this video where they say the Tatas used this at the Nano unveiling at a car-expo at Delhi!

I'd still believe that this will be history soon and B2BC (Brain to Brain Communication) as I had mentioned in a previous post will prevail. Ah, flights of fantasy!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Mobile blogging through Opera Mini

Of all software made for the mobile, Opera Mini java version is what I'd call an essential download. While the earlier versions had some issues with my Blackberry Curve (it was unable to somehow use the socket connections), version 4.1 fixed this for good. Though it now uses HTTP to connect to Opera servers, it is STILL much better than anything else out there.

Its way faster than the built in browser on my Blackberry, much slicker and easier to use, supports a full screen layout, renders as close as possible to a browser on a PC. For phones with screen heights greater than width view the page in landscape mode! A pleasure to browse and blog with :)

The way it works is:
- You type in a URL on the opera mini mobile app
- The app connects to the opera server (almost a proxy)
- Sends the url request
- Opera server in turn fetches and analyzes the site
- It seems to make good use of cacheing
- Translates the page into a format for easy (but real) view on the mobile
- Compresses and streams back the data to the mobile app
- The app renders the page in all its glory :)

If you are a mobile user (there is a mobile client for almost every mobile worth its name), just visit the operamini site:

Get Opera Mini - Super fast and free

PS: I started this blog post on my mobile but ended it on the PC.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A sunrise industry coming up in West Delhi’s Uttam Nagar - LiveMint on Eko

New Delhi: Shyama Kumari has a new-found sense of confidence. The 20-year-old college goer taught part-time at a local school for two years and saved Rs8,000, which she has put in a bank account. Her banker? The local drug store.

Kumari isn’t the only one who banks in a shop and shops in a bank. Around 1,400 people in her neighbourhood, Uttam Nagar—a lower middle class colony in West Delhi—have, through shops that include grocers and chemists, opened accounts that now have between Rs20 and Rs 14,000...

Here's the link to the complete article on liveMint.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tracking a lost mobile phone - google map mobile?

I love the google maps mobile app and its 'My Location' feature - hats off to the innovators at google!

I have an interesting idea . Here are the factors:

1. I known MANY people who have lost their expensive Blackberrys etc

2. On a Blackberry and many new handhelds, where google map is installed; it can run in the background.

3. My Location feature can track my phone down to the nearest 1000m radius, even if the phone does not have GPS capability!!! ('... takes information broadcast from mobile towers near you to approximate your current location on the map to find your location' - whoa!)

4. Most people already have a google account - so they could sign-in to 'their' google maps.

Put all these ingredients together and viola! you have a lost phone tracker!

In case someone who uses google maps on the phone (signed in using google sign-on) and accepts their 'My Location' to be archived; he could be log in to google maps from any computer and that would tell him (and law enforcement, if required) a good approximation to catch the culprit (or simply find the phone - that you might have forgotten at a restaurant).

I really wish Google can get this running (I had made this post on their forum quite some time back) and I can ensure they'll have thousands of happy customers.

Monday, May 26, 2008


(Happiness- Bill Anderson)

A wise old man told me one time
That happiness is nothing but a frame of mind
I hope when you go to measuring my success
Don't count my money, count happiness.

Happiness, happiness
The greatest gift that I posses
I thank the Lord, I've been blessed
With more than my share of happiness...."

I'd agree that someone's level of happiness is a good measure of his/her success. Although I'll have to add that it is as difficult to find someone who has NO money and IS happy as it is to find someone who HAS money and is NOT happy.

Yes, I remember the childhood stories of the rich man who couldn't sleep because he was always worried about his money. I also remember the man I saw on the street who was crying simply because he had no money to feed his kith. Given a choice, I'd rather be the rich man ;-p.

Is the middle path the right path? Is there anything called a 'right path'?
Isn't it time we openly taught (this statement may not be valid for you ;-)) that it is no crime to work really hard trying to make money? And that money can buy happiness? And happiness is an indicator of one's success!

I'd love to hear your views.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Eko In Action - Video (Hindi)

An Eko video trying to track customer response to Eko at the Pilot site:

The language being used is Hindi. I guess someone might put together an English voice-over / sub-titles - till then, please catch hold of a Hindi speaking friend to translate ;-)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"Banking@the Grocers" - Dataquest on Eko

What if you could just walk up to your good old neighborhood general store or chemist shop, spend around five minutes (a few minutes give or take), and come back opening a bank account?...

Here's the link to the complete article on Dataquest.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

An A4 sized problem

This issue shows how important it is for product and services companies to make sure that their offerings are localized for their target locations.

Now, the office stationary world is divided into two main standards - The (North) American and the International. (All paper size standards and figures courtesy: Wikipedia)

While the North American system uses the following:

Size in × in

Letter 8½ × 11
Legal 8½ × 14
Ledger[2] 17 × 11
Tabloid 11 × 17

The International system uses this:

Size in × in

A0 33.1 × 46.8
A1 23.4 × 33.1
A2 16.5 × 23.4
A3 11.7 × 16.5
A4 8.3 × 11.7

The most common forms of paper used for office/home printing are the A4 and the Letter size.

You'd notice, that the A4 is almost the same width, but longer than the 'Letter' size by three quarters of an inch.

Now, here is the real problem:

A4 is the de-facto paper-size standard in India. You go to any paper/ stationary shop and ask them for office printing paper, they will hand you a pack containing A4 sized sheets.

Unfortunately, most software (and printer drivers) used in India are thoughtlessly set to the American 'Letter' size. So when you make a document on say - MS Word, the document is formatted and margins are left based on the Letter paper layout. And guess what happens when you click the Print button? This 'letter' sized document gets printed on A4 sized paper and that leaves close to an inch of unprinted paper at the bottom (not considering the 'margins' one might have set). And most people printing them out are blissfully ignorant of this issue!

What a sheer waste of precious ecological resource! Roughly, for every 15 pages you print, 1 page is just wasted due to this simple setting! Add the numbers up for your entire organization and across the country - thats a COLOSSAL waste we can easily live without.

Here's my recommendation to all people who use word processing and printing on their computers - please, check your default print settings and match them with your paper sizes - especially if you are in an A4 paper country, forced to use a Letter setting.

And to all developing print products - please ensure that the default values for paper sizes match the standards prevalent in that locale.

Lets do our bit in cutting paper waste and making this world a better place :) Please spread this message around at least at your work-place.

Motorolling down

- Here's an icon that gave the world a technology product that would have the power to connect its people in a way it would probably have never imagined. Unfortunately, it is today an icon of what complacency can lead to. Its a lesson on how even a technology pioneer, a product giant, can be beaten in its own game by relative newcomers with the fire of innovation in their bellies.

Beginning of 2008, there were rumors of its mobile handsets division being spun off, then there were talks on its imminent fall, and finally signs on the ground - close to 10K layoffs reflecting its dismal state.

Sad, but thats what happens when a company like Motorola puts all its eggs in one RAZR basket. RAZR was an OK phone (I think it was pretty average) - but they stretched it way too far, refusing to come up with market-shaking new products at a time when the competition was churning new stuff by the dozen every week!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


The vagaries of the stock market have always confounded me. To me - a techie, the way economies run (or don't) is nothing short of amazing (random is another word for it).

One phrase perhaps best characterizes the state of what I'd call the US Corporate Confidence Index (yaay! I seem to have pulled off another one of those fancy acronyms ;) ). Despite its sombre tone, theres a sadistic beauty about it and years hence our descendants might study it in their history books. So I decided to frame it on my blog. Here goes:

"We're all sub-prime" - Kevin Logan, a US Economist, after the recent 'crisis'

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I'm a dad!

March has been a month of drastic changes for me. A new location, new career direction and a newborn :). A cute little baby girl arrived and that makes me a dad :) - a pretty young dad!

And heres a snap of the stork who brought us our beautiful package. Though I could see the mother and child only on the 7th, thank God everything went normal and there were people to look after both of them :)

The future of communications - Neural Interfaces. Presenting Audeo

If you've read some of my older posts, you might realize that the way I see tele-communications developing in the near future is through Neural Interfaces - and I've been trying to follow a few cutting edge developments in this direction.

When we say neural - it does not necessarily have to imply 'implanted' capsules within our brain tissues. In fact, it seems the best way to neurally catch one of our 'senses' is to catch it someplace before it terminates into a sense organ :).

The latest comes from the world of sound (thanks to for the lead). The company is Ambient Corporation, its innovation is called Audeo and its tagline is 'Speak your mind'. I guess the tagline gives you a fair premonition of where this leads to ;).

What they have to offer is a neckband. Yes - a neckband that sort of eavesdrops on the neural signals sent by the brain to the vocal chords, interprets em and plays out synthesized speech based on its database of neural patterns and words.

And the good part is - you don't really have to even speak - just a careful trained thought that you are speaking something is enough to trigger this thingy. Awesome! A definite help to people who have problems with their vocal chords and just as helpful to people who might want to talk with their girlfriends right in the middle of a busy market.

Check out its demonstration video on YouTube:

Thats one of our five senses tapped digitally, others are well on their way. Soon we will be communicating in all our senses without - moving our lips, opening our eyes, reaching out our hands, sniffing with our noses or opening our mouths. Things are beginning to sound more and more like The Matrix to me!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

My first month at Eko, an intro

Its been almost a month (though Feb is a short month) since I joined Eko. The past few weeks have been typically hectic with Eko launching its 5000 customer target pilot in Delhi.

Before I proceed any further, I guess it would be appropriate to point out what exactly Eko is all about.

Eko ( - startup based in Delhi, India aims at extend banking facilities in these untapped/un-banked areas through the use of mobile phone as a channel; currently there are over 200 million mobile phone subscribers (GSM & CDMA). Eko is looking to ensure greater financial inclusion and increase the outreach of the banking sector as envisaged by RBI – the Indian Federal Bank through the use of Business Correspondent Model.

Eko’s unified approach to financial services will address two key challenges - ubiquity and comprehensiveness of range of financial services. Often financial services with the focus for financial inclusion have resulted in high transaction & servicing costs, inadequate collection & use of customer information, and a focus on credit based services leading to the exclusion of more needed services including Savings.

Our first initiative is “Branchless Banking” using mobile phone as a channel. For now we have initiated a pilot project at Uttam Nagar in Delhi in partnership with Centurion Bank of Punjab under the “Business Correspondent” model. Our first offering is “Abhilasha” - No Frills Savings Account to customers with only two transaction - deposits and withdrawals.

Customers are acquired through Eko Relationship Officers (EROs: local salesmen of the locality with full KYC and good banking record) while they can transact (deposits and withdrawals) at Eko Cash Points (ECPs: local retail shops). EROs are remunerated for customer acquisition while the ECPs are remunerated per transaction.

The model is such that money is deposited to the bank, through the distribution chain of ECPs, even before the savings are mobilized from the retail customers. Hence there is no exposure to the bank. Subsequently, ECPs mobilize savings from retail customers. The customers have all the protections extended just like any other depositor with a bank.

Eko issues Signature Booklets (filed for patent) to every account holder. The Signature Booklet is used to secure the transactions and ensures more than ATM like security for the transactions. Eko also issues a comic for easy communication to the customers.

Eventually, multiple value added services would be offered to the members, through the network of EROs and ECPs including more credit and savings product apart from transactional services.

We would like to invite all those interested to visit our Pilot site at Uttam Nagar in Delhi. The directions are:
1. Take the Delhi Metro Blue line, get down at the 'Uttam Nagar West' station.
2. Once there, if you are facing west (or looking opposite to the direction of 'Uttam Nagar East' station), take the first turn left immediately after the station.
3. Ask directions for Eko, T 105, 'Shukkar Bazar' Road. (Its essentially three blocks straight and three blocks right from the beginning of the road and normally you zig-zag one block straight and one block right at a time)
4. Keep watching en-route to spot shops (medicos, groceries) sporting the eko signboard.

The following is the location of the Pilot Project on Wikimapia (you have to reach somewhere near the bottom left corner):

In my next post (when I get the time for it) I will post with pictures and illustrations how the transactions are carried out. So folks, watch out this space!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Add VOIP to your mobile

Here is a list of some of the products through which you could use the mobile phone to make calls over the IP network (GPRS or WiFi) instead of GSM, in other words VoIP over mobile (though cheaper- not all are 'free'):

1. Mundu Mobile, by Geodesic.

2. Skype on Mobile, by iSkoot.

3. Yeigo.

4. Fring.

5. MobileTalk, by Packet8.

Unless its over a WiFi network or a 3G/4G GSM network, most of these solutions would suffer from slight delays due to the nature of mobile data networks today (network latency.

Though not exactly pure mobile VoIP, JAJAH is an innovative solution that would probably have better results than the ones mentioned above simply because, though you can make free calls even over mobiles, at least the last loop on your end of the call would be over the GSM network (though its a VoIP at heart).

So wish you all happy cheaper calls!

The future of commerce in India - the Mobile way? Part III

Two m-ticketing offerings from Sam Pitroda's C-Sam inc have been introduced recently:

1. Indian Railways (IRCTC Mobile)
2. Jet Airways (JetWallet)

These initiatives have the following drawbacks:

1. While not exactly m-ticketing, since tickets do not reside on the mobile and the paper tickets have to be delivered by hand (courier/ counter) or over email, these initiatives could be called m-ticket-booking, since the payment part is handled on-device.

2. Requires a phone supporting java (or windows mobile) + gprs (or supports sms- Wireless Messaging API). While a good number of mobile subscribers might have java phones, only a small proportion have gprs enabled. While most of the latest java phones support JSR 120/205 (sms), most of the earlier phones in the market do not.

3. Requires a credit card account.

Functioning within the sweet spot among the limitations above, these are good initiatives.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

How do I choose a mobile phone?

With the wide variety of mobile phones available in the market today, deciding on which one to buy is a predicament.

Here's my tuppaise worth:
1. Your profile = your phone's profile.
If you are a college student, you probably need the entertainment features, if you're a business user, you might need email access anywhere.

2. Your budget.
Needs no explanation. Just ask - do you really need to show off a gold brick in your pocket?

3. Features.
Some features have become so common that they risk becoming the standard. While some favor 'get as many features as I can', some others prefer 'why would I ever need that feature' approach.

4. Compare.
The web is perhaps the best thing that happened for buyers. In India, MyMobile is an established reference magazine for the latest Indian market rates for mobiles. In fact their monthly report is so successful that it has become an essential tool in the trade. They had recently put up their database on their website as a drag and drop compare phones feature. Do check out this link [My Guide] before you head out to the nearest store - will save you some time making your choice.
Bottom-line: There are no hard and fast rules: to each his own!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Railways as a research/ marketing point

Considering the number of posts related to the railways on my blog, you might think I'm a railways stooge. Though not a stooge (most of my posts have been negative); yes, I'm fascinated by railways. The reason why railways fascinate me (the Indian Railways, that is) is that it is perhaps the biggest classrooms in public interactions. No other institution has so many people 'touch points'.

No other institution moves as many people 24/7. Of all the infrastructure categories, the railway has a very important role to play. Thousands of people queue and jostle, look at or search at kiosks, ferry their luggage, congregate with their families, buy snacks and tea, make plans for their future, think about their next day at work or sulk over a bad event, smartly dressed businessmen, excited children, coolies, vendors, people in ragged clothes, old people, crying infants, touring foreigners.

(Image courtesy:

The railway stations especially, present an unimaginable variety of people and situations. I guess it must be every marketeers and ethnographers favorite playground. I'm sure someone could start a profitable research and observation deck on major railway stations in the country - dedicated research points where all kinds of surveys and observations get done and perhaps even the participants could be rewarded with say a 'sachet' product sample.

On a more personal level, apart from having been a frequent rail traveler, its the Railroad Tycoon game that taught me its importance (compared to today's games, this must be vintage stuff ;) ). I had the opportunity of developing a mobile game named Truck Tycoon on similar lines. It was wonderful to see small towns developing into trade hubs, residential centers and industrial locations once they were connected by the rail/road! It makes all the difference.

Also, sitting in the train or at the station gives you time to contemplate on the simpler things in life and ample time to type in a blog post or two ;)

Indian Railways - The Emergency Hammer again

Its the emergency hammers again. I think I'm addicted to this now. These are the other posts on my rendezvous with the emergency systems on Indian Railways:
- Jan Shatabdi Trivandrum Ernakulam - the invisible emergency hammer.
- Indian Railways - The Emergency Hammer returns.

This time it was on the Chengannur Thriuvananthapuram A/C Chair Car on the 'Parasuram express'.

1. Again there is a glass pane (which says its toughened glass) which needs to be broken before you get access to a chain which you're supposed to pull. This pull is somehow supposed to cause the emergency window to open (I guess its supposed to pull out the rubber beading and this would in turn free the big window glass). How do you break this small glass pane in the first place- should an emergency hammer have been installed near it? Or can the glass be broken with bare hands. A good answer might be - during an emergency, we'll find out!
2. Now, suppose you've learnt karate and with one chop you can smash the small glass. Whoever told you life is easy? This time they've bolted the chain with a steel strip over it in an unthoughtful improvisation. This metal strip is supposed to hide the curtain rails. Unfortunately, the cosmetics have effectively short circuited the core functionality of being an emergency window.

I seriously hope, with its cash surplus, the Indian Railways goes for a complete design overhaul. A hazaar things need to be made better, the chalta hai attitude must change. Or maybe Kaizen could do it well - continual little steps that could gradually make a big difference. Though unintentional, the continual neglect of passenger safety makes me a worried traveler, despite its relatively (compared to its scale of operations) good safety records.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The future of commerce in India - the Mobile way? Part II

Back in August 2006, based on the flurry of activities in the m-commerce ecosphere, I had speculated through my journal whether most 'commerce' in India would soon be transacted in a mobile way.

Very recently I came across another pioneer in this sphere. Its a vibrant venture named simply 'eko', which sounds like an echo and an eco (as in ecology) put together. Despite its jovial name, Eko means serious business!

To put it in its own words: "This initiative aims to increase the reach of lending organizations to low income people and also democratize financial services for this customer segment in urban as well as rural areas."

Eko addresses a lot of gaps that the other players had failed to, brings in a lot of innovation into taking banking (lots of interesting IP, that cannot be disclosed at the moment) to the masses and relies on a network of dedicated people and mobile technology to achieve this.

Watch out this space for more on this in times ahead.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Mobile Development Report - A Review

Reports come in various shades, shapes and sizes. Mostly, reports are seen as means to fill up shelf spaces, attempting to make one look more informed than one might really be. At times, reports are sources to be quoted in a B-Plan or used smartly to justify certain viewpoints. Usually, reports are the result of painstaking research carried out by domain veterans. But the fact remains that not all good researchers are good story-tellers and that leaves behind somewhat unwieldy (not to mention costly) paperweights that might be full of unnavigable facts and figures.

There was one report however, that captivated me more than most others out there. I found a link to this report through Jan Chipchase's blog while trying to find out what exactly it was that the Indian mobile consumer at the so called bottom of the pyramid wanted?

The Mobile Development Report (note: its a 15+ MB download, 114 pages pdf), released over a year ago, commissioned by Nokia and beautifully executed and presented by Dr. Aditya Dev Sood and his team at CKS (Center for Knowledge Societies)

The report aims at finding out exactly what the next billion people waiting to be connected through the mobile network want. In other words, it seeks to find what developmental role the mobile can play in the Indian rural context.

The report first examines and explains the diversity India is known for and derives its justifications for a classification. Eminently readable, the article is full of graphics and images that provide a peek into the ecosystem. After laying a solid foundation for even the uninitialized to understand the social fabric, the report then proceeds towards listing out the following opportunities for mobile development:
1. Transportation
2. Micro-commerce
3. Financial services
4. Healthcare services
5. Governance
6. Education
7. Infotainment

The really interesting part of this report is the case studies section. It allows the reader to view first hand the life of people who would benefit and how they might benefit through the mobile revolution.

We had the opportunity of personally meeting Dr. Aditya Dev Sood at our studio last year - an enigmatic personality with a lot of energy and a mystic glow in his eyes. This report perhaps reflects some of that youthfulness and charm from him and his team at CKS.

A must read for
a. anyone seriously planning to be a stakeholder in the rural/ semi-urban mobile ecosystem.
b. anyone starting on writing a report with an intention that people would actually read it.
c. anyone who wants a peek at the real vibrant India, the next billion waiting to be connected to the rest of the world and each other.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Games Brains Play, Neural Drives and the future of communications

Back in 2006, I had mentioned that the future of communications would increasingly move towards a closer neural interface - I called it B2BC Brain To Brain Communication. I think good progress is being made in this direction.

I was trying to study further on what physical experience B2BC might result in; and thats when I thought of 'Déjà vu'. Déjà vu is a French word meaning 'already seen'. It occurred to me that future communication might be almost like a deja vu or out-of-the-body kindof experience - sounds a bit scary to me now (just as air travel might have sounded before the Wright Brothers ;) ).

Also, a lot of external information may need to be integrated with that already stored in the brain. For instance; say in a B2BC session, your new bank manager contacts in. The 'network' meanwhile would search for further details on the caller - say a holographic image of him, his name and location and feed that to your short-term memory center. So (if and) when you 'take' the B2BC call, you already 'know' and can visualize the caller. That would also require intricate knowledge on how the brain stores its information.

While delving further into such games that brains play and where the brain stores its memory, I came across following two sites of interest:

1. Mind Tricks Explained (PopSci)

2. Mapping Memory (NatGeo)

I obviously have some spare time now on my hands to do all this wacky and weird thinking. If you too happen to have some, I'd strongly advise you to exercise your thought muscles by paying those links a visit.

'Transformer' railroad market

(File under trivia)
For all Transformers fans out there. Here's a you tube clip I'd come across quite some time ago (don't remember how) from Bangkok. Donno if this is a fake or for real!

And I thought Mumbai was crowded.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

90 mins = 60 secs

I have seen compression - many flavors of it, but this one on techCrunch was the beatifullest of them all. Hats off to Mahalo’s Veronica Belmont for the feat, compressing 90 mins of Steve Job's presentation into 60 secs.


Kindof like how Apple compressed its new MacBook Air into the super slim framework (though I dont like the doing-away-with-dvd-drive thing)