Archive for May 2007

Chennai Runners Homepage

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We at Chennai Runners have been actively working towards getting the message out - the mantra that we have been wanting to spread to all the Chennaiites for quiet sometime - "Run and Stay fit".

As a part of our campaign, we have also started to work on a web site for Chennai Runners, which will help the world know what we are, where we are and how to join us. A few days back I'd posted a couple of logos that we created for Chennai Runners.

Today, I'd like to post the first-cut of the welcome page of our web site. I would like to get your views and comments on the web page - either by mail or on the comments section. The "picture" that you will see in the welcome page is just a placeholder for any picture that can convey the spirit of Chennai Runners - this is bound to change based on the availability of good pictures.

Oops..the screen capture seems to have got too distorted. You can click on the picture to get a better view. Else, do let me know if you would like to have a better version of the welcome page. I can point you to that if needed.

Cheers!

Plan to register a domain name? Read on...

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One fine morning, I decided to go ahead and register a domain name. This is something that has been going on in one corner of my mind for quiet a long time. I never knew how to go about getting one. Now, having walked the road, I thought of sharing some of my experiences in the process of registering a domain name.

What I just realized is that its really easy to register a domain name today - Provided we take a little care in selecting the right domain registrar. A Domain Registrar is an entity who registers a domain name with ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). Selecting a registrar matters the most. The quality and services that a registrar offers will determine how easy or tough your domain name maintenance is going to be.

Here is what happened to me. Without doing a background work, I went ahead and registered a domain name with a Domain Registrar called www.RegisterFly.com. I waited for a day, but still I could not get access to my registered domain name, nor was I directed to it from the browser. This is when I started to browse the internet and came to know that RegisterFly was terminated by ICANN! (Luckily, my credit card has not been debited of the charges that RegisterFly levied on me for the domain registration)

So, here is the way you should ideally go about registering a domain name...

  1. Select the registrar you want to register your domain with
  2. Got to www.ICANN.org and check if the registrar is listed there. Click on the Registrar's name and see
  3. If you are taken to the Registrar's site, then its OK. Else you should see a legal Notice put up.
  4. If the Registrar is listed, and is OK, then you are all set to go and register your dream domain name!
Good Luck!

An Innovation that elongate Earth's lifespan!

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Innovation Matters when it results in something that can elongate earth's lifespan. In other words, an innovation that positively contributes to the earth's deteriorating environment (the one caused by Global Warming), would be the one that matters the most.

In my earlier article The Global Thing, I'd suggested some pointers that will potentially help in alleviating the every deteriorating enviroment of earth due to Global Warming. While reading BusinessWeek, I came across an innovation by a Swiss engineer, who has developed a "Zero-Pollution Car"! A car that refuels at solar-power pumps! This is precisely the need of the hour.

Working in a skunkworks in Switzerland, researchers have developed the Hy-Light, a fuel-cell car that drives 80 mph and refuels at a solar-powered pump. Working for the tiremaker Michelin, Varenne, who heads a group of researchers, has developed a real car - not a concept car - that can run on hydrogen cells and refuel at solar-powered pumps.

The Hy-Light is a car built around a hydrogen fuel cell, meaning it generates electricity through a basic chemical reaction involving hydrogen and oxygen. The gases are stored in two specially developed tanks (the hydrogen is pressurized and its tank can withstand the direct shot of a Swiss Army rifle!).



The fuel cell used in the Hy-Light prototype was developed by the Paul Scherrer Institute, a leading Swiss research center. What sets it apart from most other automotive fuel cells (such as the one in the GM Sequel) is that it uses pure oxygen from a tank. Most fuel cells suck oxygen from the surrounding air, but that approach requires an onboard compressor and a system for controlling air quality—all of which lowers the efficiency of the power system. According to Varenne, the Hy-Light method increases the efficiency of the fuel cell by almost one-third. Michelin is now working on the next iteration of the fuel cell.

Electric motors have an advantage in that they can become energy generators. In the case of the Hy-Light, when the car slows down or the driver brakes, the kinetic energy produced by the vehicle's motion is captured and stored, to be released when the driver accelerates. The energy is stored in supercapacitors: an ingenious compromise between a battery (which can store a lot of energy but isn't good at delivering bursts of power) and traditional capacitors (which offer phenomenal power but little storage). Made by Maxwell in Switzerland, this technology increases the car's power for acceleration without increasing its energy consumption.

Do you have trouble waking up?

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Alas, I did it again!

Yes, this is something I've done many a time in the past - skipping my Sunday run due to sleep!

This problem with me is a typical example of a "starting trouble" that I have when I plan to restart something after a long hiatus. Its been two months since I did my regular run. The last I did was when I was in Las Vegas - Even that was a short 10K or lesser one that I did for the sheer pleasure of running on "The Strip".

This morning I woke up at 5AM, just to realize that I'd missed my morning run with Chennai Runners. This disappointment lasted quiet long, when incidently I bumped into a mail from my friend, the subject of which read - "The 10 Most Annoying Alarm Clocks". This was the one that brought a smile of my face (Thanks to my friend!), and hence thought of sharing with everyone...

Here you go...

The 10 Most Annoying Alarm Clocks (Rated from 10 to 1)

#10 - Climbing clock . It hangs above your head and starts climbing while it rings. Don't wake up fast enough, and you won't be able to shut it up without a ladder.




# 9 Wake Up Puzzle . You have to build the puzzle to make it stop




# 8 Wake or Curse . You can ask it what the time is and it will answer. But if you don't wake up quickly enough it will curse you.




# 7 High Tech . This one has a vibrator, 95 db alarm and police style rotating light that you cannot ignore.



# 6 Find The Pin - You need find the right pin to stop it's ringing. Not going to stay sleepy after this mission.




# 5 Chicken and Egg Problem - The egg laying alarm clock. It will only quiet down after you put all the eggs back.




# 4 GI Joe . You will wake to the sound of your commander's wake up call. Don't mess with it.




# 3 Floating Around - Will float around the room until you'll catch it.




# 2 Kaboom - This acoustic grenade will wake the neighborhood with it's ultra loud sound level.




# 1 Hide and Seek - The winner is the hide and seek alarm clock. Once it begins to ring it falls down to the floor and finds a random place to hide. Chase it down or else you're doomed.




I will not miss my running sessions henceforth - GI Joe to the rescue!

The Global Thing

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I'm not going to talk about either Globalization or Global Enterprises, but about another Global "something" that will potentially result in a Global "nothing". Yes, I'm referring to Global Warming...

People have talked about this a million times in a million places, but nothing has ever happened...
Its been discussed in multiple forums, but there are still a group of scientists who dismiss saying that "There is nothing called Global Warming" or "Don't believe in this 'Global Warming' thing...its just a rumour, and its not proven"; Politicians dismiss this saying "We are working towards a solution!".

The United States and China are the top contributors to the Global Warming that is taking place, and they seem to least react to this alarming situation. The foremost reason being that these countries are using some of the most ancient technologies at factories and other establishments, that significantly contribute to the temperature rise.

India is no less! ....we will soon catch up with these big countries in contributing to the creation of a monster called "Global Warming". Recently, in Chennai, Tamilnadu, India, the chief of DMK celebrated his "50 years in politics" by lighting up the city...to such an extent that it Chennai looked like Las Vegas. This is the worst way one can destroy the earth!

I see it as a responsibility of every human being on planet earth to consciously change this deteriorating situation. Here are a few tips that we, as a world citizen should do to make earth a better place to live for our future (and possibly us) generation :

  1. Buy vehicles that offer good mileage - This reduces the amount of waste fuel
  2. But electronic appliances that consume lesser power
  3. Dispose waste materials (not plastic!) dumping them in deep pits - Not burning them!
  4. Avoid the use of Plastic bags
  5. Plant a lot of trees around where we live - Plant and water one tree per month!
  6. Save electricity - Use electrical appliances as required - Avoid using them when not really needed
These are some points that I can think of. Should you have more points, please email me.

Thanks....and look forward to your cooperation!

A Logo for Chennai Runners

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Chennai Runners has finally made a century! Yes, we are 100 strong today!

With this, we are all set to float our own website, and in this attempt, we have started off with the creation of logos. Here are three of them.
Chennai Runners logo


Chennai Runners logo


Chennai Runners logo
Hope to see more Chennaites at Chennai Runners.

"Run!" - This is all you need to do to live healthy and long!

You ought to watch this!

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Think you are creative? This Flash video titled "Animation vs Animator II" should drive your creativity rocket speed!

Also check out the first part at www.atomfilms.com

Plan to pursue an MBA? Read on...

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Here are excerpts from a BusinessWeek Debate...

Peter

May 15, 2007 04:56 PM

I personally don't think the MBA pays off. I received my MBA from a "non-recognized" program, and of the companies I worked for, most small to mid-size, none of them paid above market price for extra training. All they cared about was your past experience. Also, if 80% of all business consists of small companies, and small companies don't really care about the MBA, why get one?

Midwest
May 15, 2007 05:32 PM

I have 20 years of work experience, and I just received my MBA from one of the "not so prestigious" schools this year. After having worked very hard on my grad degree, I can say that a few years of working will provide most people with a similar amount of knowledge. The MBA hype is more of an "I did it, so you need to do it" situation. MBAs look awfully good, especially to others with an MBA. I work for a very large company that does business around the world, and I will receive no additional compensation for my efforts.

brainfreeze
May 15, 2007 06:02 PM

People used to say the same thing about not needing a bachelor's degree that they now say about MBAs. Bill Gates couldn't get a job at Microsoft today with no degree. Times have changed--again. At my company, more and more jobs posted say MBA required. I've been turned down for jobs that require an MBA, even though I have more than 15 years of professional experience. Don't be fooled; get all the education you can.

Back2theBooks
May 15, 2007 06:42 PM

I don't have an MBA but am considering getting one. I think more and more people are getting them, and to compete in the marketplace, it's necessary. I'm just not sure if I'll do an online program from an accredited university or a traditional program. Anyone have thoughts on the pros/cons of either program?

Sean
May 15, 2007 06:50 PM

My experience was very different from those described in the first two comments. One of the most valuable networking techniques is to relocate. You're forced to build new relationships. I attended a full-time program from a top program in a city I had never lived in. That created a dynamic that made the location alone worth the two years. I could have just gotten another job in another city, but I hated the niche I had made myself valuable in. It's not just about the paycheck. Job satisfaction is critical. I now have a job that I would do for a lot less money. In the end, my quality of life is better because of my MBA. There are other paths that could have led me to this same place, but the discipline of a rigorous full-time program was right for me.

Rasputin
May 15, 2007 07:00 PM

Anyone going to business school with the primary goal of making truckloads of cash is clearly misguided in his career. Second, there are certain industries (management consulting being one) where an MBA is a basic requirement for landing an interview. If one wants to explore the consulting career option, an MBA makes perfect sense.

The question is whether you want to chase dollars or let dollars chase you? If you are good at whatever you do, the latter will surely happen.

Robespierre
May 15, 2007 08:31 PM

Rasputin,

I am not certain what your point is, and your quaint people chasing dollars chasing people example doesn't help at all.

Are you suggesting that having a primary goal of making "truckloads of cash" is itself a "misguided" career goal? Or are you instead suggesting that going to B-school to make "truckloads of cash" is misguided in his career--one that may focus on making truckloads of cash--pragmatically since "if you are good at whatever you do, "[the] dollars [will] chase you"? It seems to me a fairly important distinction.

If (1) all jobs pay the same, and (2) there is equal access to consideration for any position in any sector as well as, (3) absolute certainty as to the abilities of candidates, both of your possible points would make sense to me.

But, your cake is disappearing as you eat it. As you note, "there are certain industries . . . where an MBA is a basic requirement for landing an interview." These industries presumably offer pecuniary remuneration in excess of those industries that consider non-MBA applicants. If the difference is less than the direct and opportunity costs of attending B-school and there will be no further future benefit, you may be right if your (implied point) was the latter of the two I consider. Do you really believe this to be the case? If so, you should have shown as much.

In practice, individuals with the natural ability to pursue an MBA from a top-tier institution are likely to see pecuniary compensation in excess of the opportunity and direct costs of the two years studying (even assuming such an individual personally paid for the education). When I was at Penn in the late 1990s before the bubble burst, there were few undergrad Wharton students even talking about business school. Instead, what mattered to them was the pecuniary gain, and it was not enough to offset the other costs.

These people chased dollars, and they succeeded at that goal. As smart people in a mobile society, they demonstrated abilities in other subjects as well. In fact, these people often received the best marks in classes primarily composed of anthropology and history majors. Should they have pursued the truckloads of money or what they were best at? Or, do you even believe that they would have been compensated differently since, ceteris paribus, they were superbly qualified to do both?

Ankush
May 15, 2007 08:47 PM

I agree with Rasputin. I have more than 5 years of experience in the high-tech industry. How much more do I need to get an interview with McKenzie and the likes? Not sure...I don't know when I can expect a break. Apply the 80-20 rule, my friend. If 80% of the time, an MBA from a prestigious school will land me a shot at that interview date, I'll take the 80% shot.

UC MBA
May 15, 2007 08:48 PM

I'm going to a "top 100" business school. What does that mean? Most likely, not the $90K+ starting salary that the top 5 will give you. However, my thought process was: I'm in the military; I have eight years of soft skills and needed to learn some of the hard quant skills to make a better transition to corporate life. Plus, I wanted to have an MBA as a discriminator, so I could say yes, I have an MBA, or it was on my resume.

As for Back2theBooks, if you are looking for a fresh start I would definitely go with a traditional program. On militarymba.net, there is a lot of discouragement about getting the likes of a University of Phoenix degree—that is, unless you work for a corporation that only cares if you get an MBA. For example, the government/military only cares if you "check the box" and have a master’s degree; they don’t care where you got it.

Nick
May 15, 2007 08:57 PM

I went to a Top 3. It has opened many doors for me, gotten me a dream job I could not have gotten without an MBA, propelled my career, allowed me to meet brilliant people who I consider my best friends, and given me the chance to sharpen my leadership and teamwork skills in a nonprofessional setting. I agree that education is not a requisite for success (i.e. Gates), but it certainly does help a majority of people improve their thinking ability and widen their networks. Hey, we all aren't born to be Kirk Kerkorian or Bill Gates.

mbaALUM
May 15, 2007 09:28 PM

Get an MBA to learn not to earn. Value is how you measure it, not how others perceive it.

Rasputin
May 15, 2007 11:11 PM

Robespierre,
Thank you for actually reading and making a sincere effort to understand the rambling of a drunken monk.

I just wanted to convey a thought: Don't do an MBA with the sole intention of making more money. Learn to think beyond this rather myopic perception of an MBA. You will be much happier with the outcome.

Now, the next question is whether you ask about your bonus check or the bonus check is a pleasant surprise every time.
--HTH

brainfreeze
May 15, 2007 11:37 PM

@Back2Books: What I've been told from those who have an MBA is online doesn't offer you the networking opportunities and anecdotal learning from peers that classroom does. I'm still on the fence myself about delivery format.

Ayush
May 16, 2007 01:34 AM

Quite a generic and shallow debate. MBAs done exclusively for monetary gain have never been fruitful, and exceptions are always there. There can be hundreds of CEOs around the globe with a history of dropping out and not having MBAs, but there are hundreds more who do have an MBA degree.

Robespierre
May 16, 2007 03:20 AM

Rasputin,

Thank you for reading and attempting to understand the ramblings of a drunken (recently graduated) lawyer.

All things considered (i.e., working in Madrid as a lawyer for what amounts to the same salary with a J.D. I would have with my undergrad degree from Penn), I should have gone for an MBA over a J.D. But, I wasn't considering such things at the time....sigh. Then again, despite the low salary, I've never been turned down after an interview in Madrid. The signing benefits work. They just don't earn you very much.

Best regards.

Chris
May 16, 2007 08:34 AM

I'm currently in a (per Businessweek) a top 50 program. For me, it came down to this: Would I feel better about my chances in a job interview with an MBA in my pocket or not? It's one more tool that gives me an edge over the guy next to me. Furthermore, if I look even within my own company, more than 90% of the executives above me (I'm in middle-management hell at the moment) have an MBA. My chances of moving upward internally will be increased.

Do I think an MBA is required to be a top executive or successful entrepreneur? No, not at all. There will always be folks like Bill Gates. They are, however, by far the exception and not the rule. Playing the odds shows that the more education you have, the more likely you will be able to rise further. To me, that made it worth the time and money to pursue an MBA.


Back2Books
May 16, 2007 08:59 AM

I appreciate the comments. In doing an online MBA, or "distance learning" as they call it, I would only go with an accredited university (i.e., no U of Phoenix). Duke has a program and so do a few other top 100 schools.

Most have a residence requirement meaning you would do most of the work online (message boards, conferencing, video, podcasts) and then you would have weeklong trips to the campus to see the people in your cohort. So you get to see and network with people in person, not just online, yet it isn't every day.

With all of the technology, so much work is done online now that it makes sense to me to work with teams (many of the online MBAs have a large teamwork component) online just as I do for work. I rarely have face-to-face meetings with vendors, so why be face to face with other students twice a week?

My concern is that I don't want my MBA to be thought of as "less than" because I did it in the nontraditional format. Same teachers teach the online classes, and the degree doesn't say Duke Business School online, it just says Duke.

WG09
May 16, 2007 09:59 AM

There are many career paths where you reach a ceiling both salary-wise and title-wise without an MBA. This is especially true in corporate finance and investment firms that require MBAs.

I also think an MBA gives breadth and depth to the resumes of people who have worked at one company in their first few years after undergrad and been promoted quickly. It removes the question: Are you really this good, or did you just get lucky?

All this being said, I think if you already make six figures and are going to invest in $100,000 loans and go full time, you should try to stick to top 10 programs to ensure the ROI is high enough. If top 10 is not where you fall academically, an MBA certainly still puts you ahead of those without one, but part-time may be a better financial option.

Matt
May 16, 2007 10:42 AM

It disturbs me that so many individuals are still focused on making themselves more marketable in the job market. I, too, considered obtaining an MBA but realized I could pull the courses' syllabi and read those books. As a business owner, you don't slap your MBA on your business card. Nobody cares. The only thing your clients or prospective clients care about is whether or not you can get the job done right at a equitable price

Regardless of your education, I can promise you that you will make some big mistakes, and that is where the real education comes from. If you are a true learner, you will learn from them and subsequently prosper.

SN
May 16, 2007 11:28 AM

I am an IT professional currently finishing up an executive MBA from a Top 20 school. Within my own company, a whole new set of doors has opened up, and the executives no longer talk to me as the techie in the cubicle with no understanding of the business.

The new networks and a view into the world outside of your industry are tremendous benefits of being in the MBA program. Yes, it is expensive, but my new job gets me more than enough ROI.

Dan
May 16, 2007 11:35 AM

Not all MBAs are created equal.

There is a strong positive relationship between rankings and salary--the higher your ranking, the higher your salary. This relationship persists on a cost-adjusted basis (viewing salary net of the student loan payments for two years of tuition and living expense, hereinafter referred to as cash flow).

On a cash-flow basis, there are two schools (the usual suspects) that produce annual cash flow in excess of $90k, 15 that produce in excess of $80k, 25 that produce in excess of $70k, 45 that produce in excess of $60k, 65 that produce in excess of $50k, and then a few also-rans that produce between $40k and $50k.

Note I have not adjusted for the opportunity cost of two years' excess earnings (salary net of taxes and costs). Nor have I mentioned that the higher the post-MBA salary, the more likely it is to come from a consulting firm, an I-bank, a money manager, or a mega-corporation--and that three of the above four will expect you to work 60 to 100+ hours a week.

All things considered, I would expect there to be significant buyer's remorse at all MBA programs outside of the top 15 to 25.

I should mention that I am graduating from a top school this month and am pleased with the outcome.

Ted
May 16, 2007 01:01 PM

Regardless of one's career goals and expectations prior to entering an MBA program, the bottom line is that in today's marketplace, having an MBA will open more doors for career opportunities in the corporate world. It's a credential that symbolizes many things (hard skills, soft skills, polished communication skills, etc). So getting an MBA is not a complete waste of time/money, but the opportunity cost of not getting one is the potential compensation increase.

jim
May 16, 2007 01:34 PM

Having worked in middle management for 16 years at GE, I decided this year to get my MBA at Emory. Do I expect to make more money after this experience? Not necessarily. Do I think that my networking prospects will improve? Most definitely. Also, it really helps shake up the stigma of being with the same company for as long as I have. So at the end of the day it's been a positive growing experience.

Danny
May 16, 2007 01:44 PM

Any discussion about the benefits of an MBA that treats the experience as a commodity is missing the point. All MBA programs are not the same, and the benefits of earning an MBA are not uniform across all paths to that degree.

Remember that once you have an MBA, the first question you'll be asked for the rest of your life when someone learns that you have the degree is, "Where?" The ROI you can expect from investing in an MBA experience depends on your answer.

Yasser
May 16, 2007 02:34 PM

I'm getting my MBA part time at Michigan while working full time as a medical-device sales representative at Johnson & Johnson. Having said that, I am not a huge believer that the MBA is "worth it" in the vast majority of cases after examining opportunity cost. My company is picking up the tab at a top 10 school (top 5 for marketing, my focus) while allowing me to continue earning an attractive salary and bonus. That meant the only investment I had to make was time, and in that sense, it was totally worth it for me. I'm 27 years old now and will graduate by 29, so I figured, why not use these few years to get the credential instead of being out every night partying? Bottom line: All people need to think for themselves and analyze their own situations, not rely on some universal determination of what an MBA is worth.

JB
May 16, 2007 02:38 PM

@Matt

Overall, you make some good points, but...

"I, too, considered obtaining an MBA but realized I could pull the courses' syllabi and read those books."

This is the way I used to think; then I realized that at least 50% of the value of an MBA is in the network you gain. Also, so what if you read those books? Nobody is going to believe you. However, if you graduate from a top MBA program, that is evidence you not only read the books but also had to pass tests to prove you understood them.

"As a business owner, you don't slap your MBA on your business card. Nobody cares."

OK. But not everyone wants to be a business owner. Some of us want to work at an MC, IB, or top corporate firm. Now tell me that recruiters from such firms don't care about you having an MBA from a top program.

"The only thing your clients or prospective clients care about is whether or not you can get the job done right at a equitable price."

But how do they know whether or not you can do the job? If you are in business for yourself, you might have a string of past references. But once again, not all people want to go into business for themselves, or if they do, they need to gain experience at a top-notch firm and then strike out on their own.

Tarun
May 16, 2007 02:52 PM

Here's what I feel, and would like to know from you all if I am wrong:

There's always a doubt in most of us whether we need an MBA or not.

I would say spend some time alone rather than posting. Introspect, and make a firm decision and do that today.

1. If you are a born leader and have passion to excel, you will never need any sort of degree to prove yourself. Choose your line, and go ahead--face the world but never regret.

2. If you want a good and easy-going life, get an education of your choice and get balance in your life. But don't regret.

3. Realize your dream, and make a decision; it's your choice at the end of the day. Nobody counts how many bucks you have. It's the respect, knowledge, and power you should have.

4. If you do not feel [like getting an MBA], go and enjoy your life.

5. My advice is try to be an entrepreneur and put your best efforts there. You will learn everything you always wanted to.

Michael R
May 16, 2007 04:11 PM

I have an MBA from a Top 15 school, and it has done wonders. Doors are open that would not have been in new career paths. And from an earnings perspective, it has been night and day in terms of what I make now vs. just 2 years ago. But, a few key facts that need to be considered:

1. All MBAs are not equal. Outside of maybe the Top 30 schools, you won't see much lift from an MBA from the 1,000s of programs that have sprung up all over the place, so don't waste your money. There are people I work with now who went to a local university at night to get their MBAs, and they are given no credit for it, nor should they. What they learned one night a week does not compare to the intensity of a full-time two-year program.

2. An MBA is an accelerator. You have to have those critical basic skills to begin with for an MBA to truly provide value. So if you don't have the basic leadership traits, strategic/analytical thinking, and a strong passion and drive, it doesn't matter what school you go to--you won't be successful for long.

3. Of course you can be successful without an MBA. But as long as many of the top companies require one to even interview or get promoted, I would rather have one in my quiver than bang my head against that glass ceiling for the rest of my career without one.

John
May 16, 2007 04:54 PM

A top-tier MBA is only necessary if you want to crack Wall Street finance (read: investment banking) or management consulting.

Other than that, enroll in a program that suits your time, budget, and expectations, and focus on networking and actually developing yourself into a decent manager an leader.

Demanding the MBA credential is a convenient way for companies to absolve themselves of the responsibility of investing the time and resources in hiring qualified, experienced candidates.

They wrongly assume the MBA has trained someone in management, and for that matter, management consulting or investment banking.

Furthermore, I find it ironic that the Graduate "Management" Aptitude Test has absolutely nothing to do with assessing management potential. Any dean's want to respond to that?

The MBA is overrated, and a significant reason applications are higher than ever is not because students are seeking the intellectual adventure. Rather, they do so because the companies have established it as a minimum criterion for associate and middle-management positions. When the system rewards a piece of paper, people have no choice but to fork out the cash. Otherwise, go work for a small company or become an entrepreneur.

Sunny
May 16, 2007 06:53 PM

If you are planning to work for a company operating in traditional space (like the auto industry) where pace of innovation is slow, an MBA is important. On the other hand, in today's IT industry or tomorrow's biotech world, where rate of innovation is relatively faster, an MBA can turn out to be optional since ample entrepreneurial opportunities exist in such places.

Midwest
May 16, 2007 11:45 PM

Good MBAs vs. mediocre MBAs? My MBA is better than your MBA? Sure, some schools are better than others (way better), but the elitism of top 30 vs. top 100 vs. all the rest is readily apparent in several posts.

I've worked closely with staff that have had MBAs from major (top 30) schools and those from less prestigious schools, and I've seen little difference in them. Why? Because so many programs stress metrics only and zero management skills.

These jokers step out with their newly minted MBAs and somehow feel privileged to run the world. They have no interpersonal skills but also have no idea how to conduct themselves other than to toss numbers around and then data spin. A couple of them were downright thick-headed and couldn't analyze their way out of a paper bag.

There is nothing that suggests an MBA is a requirement for success. Many who get one find themselves with greater opportunities, but I would venture to say that vastly more find limited returns on their efforts.

I received my undergrad with honors from a college recognized as one of the best in the world (yes, the world). In the states, it's always mentioned in the top 2 colleges in its area of specialty. I know what a difficult and demanding education asks for.

Online programs require multiple days of interaction each week (usually a minimum of four days) and consume far more hours than most people think they do (my minimum was 20 hours of time spent on schoolwork per week with only one class at a time).

I am a father and a full-timer, and dropping everything to go back to school was never an option. The online world was a blessing, but I never fooled myself into thinking I was getting a Northwest or Harvard MBA. I got what I worked hard for and also what I paid for. Those $99K programs are only for those thinking they will work on Wall Street.

Get an MBA only if you want one--not because you think you need one or that you'll suddenly become legitimate if you attain one.

Arjun
May 17, 2007 02:28 AM

An MBA acts as a perfect bridge between your careers. From law into finance, from IT into management consulting, etc. Whatever you want to do, an MBA will make a difference. Also it breaks your monotonous work life.

Accepted
May 17, 2007 09:47 AM

I've been accepted into a top three school to begin this fall, and without having even started, I've already seen huge benefits. The recognition and network that is instantly made available is unreal. If you have that opportunity, it's a no-brainer.

Naveen
May 17, 2007 10:10 AM

I think all the hype surrounding the MBA is just bogus. I have been working for more than a decade in various fields, and I have yet to meet an MBA who actually needed it or for whom the education made a difference.

Sometimes I think MBA is just a "sophisticated" way of filtering people for investment bank jobs. And nothing more.

Augustus
May 17, 2007 10:50 AM

I have an MBA from Creighton, obviously not in the top 50 but probably in the top 1,000 or so. Whether the MBA is important or not really depends. My goal was to succeed in my own business, so I wanted good exposure to all aspects of a business.

One thing about education that people don't understand is that it is very hard to stop and develop the basic skills once your career is in full gear. The MBA gives practical skills and knowledge to build on. When you have your own business and survival is critical, such skills are vital.

So my answer to whether an MBA is useful is that it depends on your long-term goals.

Thanasis
May 17, 2007 10:56 AM

An MBA is not just a postgraduate course. It's a lot more. How can anyone judge an MBA when he/she doesn't have one? People who depreciate the MBA course in this debate don't really have one. The only real MBA course is the full-time MBA. Online and part-time MBAs are ersatz.

Cheers.

Chitra
May 17, 2007 12:17 PM

In the IT world, you constantly hear about "upgrading" of skills. You upgrade by not only learning new languages but also learning them in such way that you can build and remodel technologies. There is always a body to certify these skills. And upgrading in nontechnical fields can be learned via the right MBA.

My choice is an MBA from a top school, because here you get what you pay for. I work as an independent business research analyst. I have the necessary experience (8 years) and expertise for the job, but more companies would be comfortable to work with me if I had a MBA.

Cleo
May 17, 2007 12:47 PM

I have an MBA from a top 25 school. The coursework was not particularly technical. Anyone who was reasonably well-read already could not have learned much from the program. The degree has value in helping one compete in the escalating educational arms race. My company is currently requiring MBAs for positions that were previously open to those with bachelor's degrees or in some cases, high school diplomas. As discussed previously, requiring an MBA is a lazy but increasingly common way to screen candidates.

ujjib
May 17, 2007 02:01 PM

My thoughts:

1) Never let an MBA convince you on how great his school is and how going back to school was the best decision he could have made. Hyping the program and school is a self-fulfilling prophecy. It just can't happen that so many people can be happy with the product (especially one so expensive) they get. It is just not human nature to be so satisfied.

2) MBAs are good, and it is primarily because of the highly motivated and talented people who choose to go the MBA way. We need a test/control approach to see where these people would go without an MBA. Can't do that, but the high number of non-MBA people at the top tells us something. We can also look at countries where there is no real culture of professional business education to act as a control.

3) The counter-argument above by Cathy Dove (from Johnson/Cornell) is BS. Firstly, she is never going to take an objective view as she is a dean of a B-school. Second, she talks about consumers and recruiters being smart and hence the increasing applicants show the value of MBA. My instincts say that the b-school success stories get overhyped (the rest of the stories are never told), the recruiters are mostly MBAs themselves (they want more of their kind), and schools want more tuition. Finally, she talks about ROI and says that it is better than most investments. Again, there is no control to compare it with, and also she doesn't really talk about the risk/return trade-off. You expect higher returns on a risky investment.

4) I think b-schools are more about business than about schools. They certainly lack the sanctity of higher education, there is no real pursuit of knowledge, the application and decision-making process is nontransparent (do you really need ED?), case study approach is still theory, grade nondisclosure betrays the students' fear of competition, clubs can be so artificial etc.

Gallant
May 17, 2007 02:37 PM

I am wondering: Does this debate apply to master's degrees as well as MBAs?

Calvin
May 17, 2007 04:48 PM

I am a year out of my undergrad, and chose to read this thread because I am interested in doing an MBA. I'm not going to get into the debate regarding the value of an MBA. What I am more interested in is, what does it take to crack into the top MBA programs? What can I start doing right now to make myself a good candidate for these programs?

I'm not knocking people who didn't attend the more highly ranked programs. My intention to go back to school is to better my education when the time is right. It is truly for a learning experience, not an effort to increase my earning potential. With that being said, getting into a top program is key to getting a good return on your investment. Any pointers?

(Courtesy - BusinessWeek)

Phew! I'm finally done..

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Yes, I finally got done with the registration of my first domain on the World Wide Web. Work at office and this work kept me away from Water Droplets for 3 days plus.

It was a good experience going through the process of domain name registration. Learnt the lesson the hard way. My next article is going to cover the DOs and DONTs when registering a domain name. Till then, stay tuned!

Sun Opens Java - Brings Java FX to light

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Sun Microsystems has finally announced the Open Source edition of Java on May 8th 2007 at the JavaOne conference. This has been the most awaited news since last year's JavaOne. This will bring about a lot of buzz and activity across the spectrum of java user communities across the globe.

Open Source Java is likely to be licensed under the new GPL2 license model. The strongpoint of this licensing model has been sighted as - emphasis on the community model. Sun has also promised a "faster,faster,faster" version of the Java SE (v6) to be released this year.

This is not all! Sun also announced a set of "consumer facing java application products" - Java FX.....a product family with Java FX Script being the tool for creating content for Web and Web 2.0-oriented applications. The promise is to create highly interactive and animated content running on computers, digital TVs, regular TVs and mobile devices, and have your content look the same across all platforms and behave the same way.

Java FX script would not be like the other scripts (aimed at generating HTML pages), but one that would be potentially used by content authoring professionals. It would be the traditional Swing on a glass - a mix of Swing and Java 2D, and would use the client machine's JVM, which would bring in a lot of security into Java FX. Ajax, which uses javascript, runs on the browser's Javascript VM, and loses on the security front.

Will Java FX change the world of Web 2.0? Will Ajax be kicked off?
- Here is my take - There is still something that I'm not totally convinced about Java FX - the "speed" of execution - due to the use of the JVM. Given the fact that Sun plans to release a "faster, faster, faster" version of Java SE v6 in this year, I'd prefer reserving my comments till the third quarter '07.

Here is a Webcast of the Java FX launch at JavaOne 2007 - Click on the below hyperlink

Announcing Java FX

Competition and the Open Sourced World

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The Software Industry - 15 years from now? Here is my take...

The year 2015 will see the world resort to Open Source Based on Open Standards. There will be one single platform - A Grid Infrastructure (or even a better one!) - where every software service provider hosts services. The entire world accesses this grid to use these services. In 2017, I expect even Timbuktu - the gold valley - to be far well developed from what it is today. Broadband networks will be omnipresent.

Its 11 May, 2017 and a business article in a morning newspaper reads - "Blueple Micromachines services used for 80% of the time by 50% of the world!". Its going to be an opensourced world, and the biggies (of the Software world) of today would be forced to chant the mantra of Open Source. Though, they will continue to make a part of their earnings through "Closed Source" as they do today - thanks to their dominance in the industry for decades!

The newspapers' Job Opportunities column will read different - "Blueple Micromachines looking for software developers who has an experience in developing services for Open Source Grid". There will be no more acquisitions of companies, but "acquisition of services".

So, how will this work? Simple - If Rossi Motor Company was setting up new motorcycle plant, the CTO and team from RMC would potentially have a planning meeting to decide which services would be used for this new setup. If there were 10 options available on the Open Source Grid for a simple station broadcast service, from 10 different companies, RMC would go about selecting one of them.

Services are selected based on their "Service Ratings and Recommendations" and the USP of the service. RMC will use the service on a pay-for-minute or a pay-per-day basis - based on the granularity of the service.

Branding plays a crucial role in this kind of a world, but the branding object changes. Instead of the brand of the Service Provider, the brand of the Service is what will influence the market.

There is a gamut of changes that the Open Source revolution can bring about. This is just the tip of the iceberg!

The Meatrix

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You will really enjoy this one...



Don't forget to check out The Meatix site for the sequels!

BONUS - Expecting one?

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Bonuses to employees is like Bananas to Monkeys peeking into the windshield of a Mercedez car - Always shown, Never given ;-)

Blogging and Data Redundancy

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Blogging is a fad thats caught up with many around the world. Originally called as "web log", blogs are intended to provide news and articles on subjects like politics, local attractions, political happenings, personal jottings, and so on. Images and text together with hyperlinks to other blogs and web pages are some common artifacts that a typical blog is composed of.

That was for someone who was wondering what this article's central object of interest is all about. The growing usage of blogs and bloggers has resulted in the creation of multiple types of blogs. This has been due to the fact that every individual's "need" or "intent" of creating a blog has been different. But one thing remains constant - Every Blog Contains Data or Information. This has triggered a lot of questions in the minds of people. Here is something that I read in an article on wikiHow -

"Any blog you create will most likely be on par with what you've been reading. Don't put anyone through that"
- a part of the article titled "How to Dissuade Yourself from Becoming a Blogger

Well, I personally feel that this is not true. Many blogs do have a lot of redundant information. Going back to the Wikipedia definitions -

"Information is the result of processing, manipulating and organizing data in a way that adds to the knowledge of the receiver. In other words, it is the context in which data is taken"

Information is something that can act as data in many cases. This is precisely what happens when you find redundant information in a blog. I'm sure you can see a lot of redundant data in this blog too. The world is getting more information-centric and in the process, blog is acting as one such forum that helps in aggregating information based on the context.

Let me quote an example to help you understand the above better. Consider the sites like The Hindu and The New York Times. There is so much of news and articles in both of these news publications that get printed/ posted online daily at two geographically different places earth. It becomes extremely difficult for a person to read all the articles - of his taste - in both these news dailies. So, in a Web 1.0 world, one ends up searching for articles using the blessed search engine - Google.

This is where blogs, that came to being with the birth of Web 2.0, have played an important role. One blog can potentially have a lot of redundant information and links to information that are found elsewhere on the internet (on blogs, web pages, wikis, etc). Taking our above example, if my blog captured information on - say, Food - from both The Hindu and The New York Times, one would get the pleasure of getting all the information related to food from my blog, which could potentially act as a gateway to all related information too!

Net-Net, its all about Information and Content. Data redundancy needs to be reduced - possibly avoided - but NOT at the cost of Information access. Blog is one concept that helps to enhance information access - As long as you have a good reason to blog, please do!

What say you?

Presenting Pani Puri - As Never Before

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I happened to come across an entry on "World's Best Presentation Contest Winners Announced" at Guy's posting (posted on 07 May). The winning presentations were really impressive, but the one of "Pani Puri" was the one that seems to linger in my mind ever since I saw this two days back.

I've never seen "Pani Puri" presented so well ever before. Kudos to Thakkar, the author of this presentation. I'm earmarking his presentation below. See and Enjoy!


BarahaIME - Bringing Indians around the world closer than ever

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This is something that I've been using for quiet sometime, and realized how much this could potentially shrink the world. Yes, its a software from Baraha (the makers of free Indian Language Software), thats called BarahaIME. Its a really cool and simple piece of software that, when run on your computer, can be used to type Indian language Unicode text directly into applications such as Internet Explorer, MS Word, or any other IM applications like Sametime, Yahoo Messenger, etc.

I would recommend readers to use this software when you are chatting with your family and friends who are living at distant places across mountains and oceans. This helps you use words in any (almost!) Indian language (or your mothertongue), that makes you feel closer even when communicating from a place miles and miles away.

It currently supports Kannada, Tamil, Hindi, Marathi, Sanskrit, Telugu, Malayalam, Gujarati, Gurumukhi, Bengali, Assamese, Manipuri and Oriya !!


If you are wondering where to pick this piece of software from, no worries - Click Here!

The Warm World #1 - An article on Global Warming

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Standing at the edge of the flat world is the moment one would never want to see. But thats what we are marching towards. The scientists are certain that our climate is changing. The question that is on everyone's mine is - "What could steer us into this nightmare disaster - and when will this happen"

I've been reading a lot of articles on Global Warming ever since I heard that for the first time. We've seen a lot of movies with Global Warming as the theme - Water World, The Inconvenient Truth are some of them. I was speaking to Ram Viswanathan yesterday, when he recommended the latter movie, and said it was taken well. No doubt, this movie won the Best Documentary award at the Oscars.

The Green House Effect is the reason for the warming of the earth surface. It is the process in which the emission of infrared radiation by an atmosphere warms a planet's surface. A diagramatic representation of the Green House effect is as shown below..

Here is the link to an animation from UCSD (a part of the Earthguide project) that helps us to understand the notion of Global Warming and the Green House Effect.

Stepping on to the main subject of my article, its all about the increase in earth's temperature over the years. If the world's top climate scientists are right, by the end of this century, the earth will have warmed by about 3 degrees Celcius. This Global Warming is largely owed to human actions. But, the future temperatures prediction is largely uncertain. If we are lucky, the actual warming may be only 2 degrees Celcius. If not, it could be as high as 6 degree Celcius.

This uncertainity being due to a non-linearity in the climate system. It is understood that scientists have been observing ice cores which has enabled them to trace temperatures for over 750,000 years back from the present day. Such observations show that dramatic changes has happened rapidly from the ice-age to heat or back, possibly in just a few decades! In short, the changes in temperature observed was not something that happened gradually, but in huge jumps.

This is a worrying fact because it makes the climate system more and more difficult to predict. Instead of the predicted 3 degree Celcius change, it could lead to a sudden climatic disaster - even within the next few decades!

There are a lot of factors that act as a proof to the deteriorating climate. Will be discussing each one of them in my upcoming articles.

City Travel in India - It all starts at your doorstep!

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It all starts with the first step into the busy streets of India. The busy roads of India is something that every non-Indian resident gapes at. About three months back I had a bunch of colleagues from the US visiting the Bangalore office. It was during lunch that I suggested to eat out at Pizza Hut which was quiet close - diagonally opporsite to the road. So, we decided to walk down to this place. I should have probably taken a picture of the expressions on their faces when we crossed the road - they were scared and their faces turned pink! Yes, such was the expression I saw when we started to cross the road amidst really fast moving vehicles (on Koramangala inner ring road).

In India, the traffic system (per say) follows the British way - Drive on the left side of the road. But this is just on the books. Many a time, you will witness two, three, four, six wheelers taking on the right side of the road. This happens at many places - sometimes the traffic cop themselves force this kind of a movement - to alleviate a bottleneck at a junction - On-Demand Routing!!

In India, management and business lessons start right from the minute you take a step out of home. Yes, its not a joke. At every signal, you will witness mobile-vendors selling everything - from pens and safety pins to magazines and costly books (I bought a copy of "The Blue Ocean Strategy" in a signal like this in Bangalore). To change from one late to the other, a look into all the three rear-view mirrors is not all enough! It takes a lot of practice and patience to accomplish this task. Fortunately we don't have flying objects (like aeroplanes) landing on the city roads!

The biggest of the monsters on the city roads is the one below!



This guy and his siblings - Buses (the BIG-Bs) and the metro-water lorries (esp. in Chennai) are the biggest of the scalawags on the city roads. But nevertheless, its not always the Lion that is dangerous, even a shoal of piranhas are dangerous!! Yes, you guessed it right - I was refering to the auto-rickshaws. They are a real menace on the streets of India - most of the time they never drive on the designated side. There is also a comedian in the tamil film industry whose name is Vivek, who rightly ridicules the driving of these auto-rickshaw drivers by saying - "They show a hand-signal to the left, an electronic-signal to the right, but drive straight!". This is very very true with this noisy bunch.

In Chennai, if you were to travel by an auto-rickshaw, its a test on one's ability to bargain. Yes, you better bargain, else you are taken for the ride of your life!

There is place like the Indian streets to learn sales, marketing, IT, bargaining, and a host of others on a single ride from home to your office (or any destination). Inspite of this, we end up working long hours at office and home.

Thats the secret of India Inc's booming economy!

How is "I" related to IBM ?

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Well, I'm sure you know IBM is the acronym for International Business Machines. By saying "I" I was referring to myself. I work for IBM and this was the snap I took with one of the oldest inventions of IBM, the IBM 701 Electronic Data Processing Machine.



IBM signaled its commitment to electronic computing with the introduction of 701 in 1952 as the company's first production computer and the first machine in which programs were stored in an interval, addressable electronic memory. Using cathode ray tube (Williams tube) memory for speed and flexibility, the 701 also featured the IBM-invented tape drive vacuum column, an invention that popularized magnetic tape storage technology.

In the above picture, the view of the EDP machine that you see next to me, shows a matrix of cathode ray tubes. Here is a closer look at the front panel of the EDP machine.


What was so special about the 701? Well, a few things. The 701 was a landmark product because it was: (Courtesy: IBM Archives)

  • The first IBM large-scale electronic computer manufactured in quantity;
  • IBM's first commercially available scientific computer;
  • The first IBM machine in which programs were stored in an internal, addressable, electronic memory;
  • Developed and produced in record time -- less than two years from "first pencil on paper" to installation;
  • Key to IBM's transition from punched-card machines to electronic computers; and
  • The first of the pioneering line of IBM 700 series computers, including the 702, 704, 705 and 709.

This is something that most of us would have just read in textbooks during school and college days. It was sheer pleasure and excitement to touch and feel something like the IBM 701 Electronic Data Processing machine.

An excitement to live with!

PS: Here is the link to IBM's official page for the 701 Electronic Data Processing Machine

Two...ahem!...sorry , its 'gonna' be Ten to Tango!

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No, I'm not trying to change the English idiom or talking about a new version of the 1988 classic. I'm talking about the United States visa mandate. Today, to get a visa to the United States, you will need to implant the fingerprints of two fingers (left and right hand index fingers) for their records.

The reason United States has quoted is that - 'Identification is getting difficult with fingerprints of just two fingers'. This is something that makes me think - "What if the 10 finger fingerprint starts to get difficult?". There is just another external part in the human body that is unique to everyone - the jaw bone. I'm sure this is going to be a part of the security measurements that one will need to give in, say, 7 years from now. Eye scan is already something that the United States do currently.

With whole-body scan being introduced in a couple (or more) airports in the USA (currently an optional one - based on the traveller's consent), its getting a whole lot of questions and apprehensions from people across the globe. One would definetly not want to let people (even the one who scans) see below what he/ she is wearing!!! Though they claim that the person who scans gets to see just an abstract view of the body parts, this has infact raised a lot of questions already.

We got to wait and watch what happens!

The Indian Cricket - Valued like Gold

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The value of Gold is something that has never gone down from yesteryears to date. Its been the most-watched and the most emotional sport of all time. Despite the fact that the entire nation knew the inside stories of the Indian cricket world, its always been close to their hearts. The value of Cricket in India is like Gold.

From the days of Ravi Shastri, Sunil Gavaskar to the days of Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni (from what I've seen), "controversy" has taken the center stage many a time. Match-fixing, ball-tampering, betting has been the most common of the various controversies.

From an other angle, Gold is something that doesn't lose value as it gets old - on the other hand, it gains value. So is the case with Indian cricket. Sunil Gavaskar - the superstart of yesteryears, and Sachin Tendulkar - of today, are both very good examples of this. They have grown old, but their value has never dwindled!

The recent "Great Loss" (if I may say so) of the Indian cricket team (and Indian cricketing spirit) at the World Cup 2007 is another good example. I am tempted to compare the recent happenings in the world of Indian cricket to the Indian Sensex - It dipped and jumped back on track again after a brief period in time. The resiliency has been high in the case of the Indian Stock Market Sensex and I expect the same to be in the case of the Indian cricket (and the spirits of cricketing fans around India).

It was just a month ago that the news tabloids carried the headlines "Angry Indian cricket fans pulverize MS Dhoni's home" (wordings were different though). Today's headlines that I read on MSN News carried the headlines - "Fan breaches security, hugs Dhoni"! Such are the minds of we (yes, I admit being a fan too) Indian fans.

The most ridiculous comment (with the recent spate of losses of the Indian team, both in WC 2007 and the prior matches) I read was in Rediff news, where Ravi Shastri is reported to have told them (when asked about the older players) - "Sachin is hungry... Just be patient with Sachin, Sehwag and (see) what they are capable of,". Hungry?? Ahem...well...no comments :-)

Net-Net, its time that the Indian Cricket Board and the selection process changed to what they have in Australia. Its time we kept 'politics' away from the Indian Cricket.

- An Indian Cricket fan.

Microsoft to take over Yahoo?? ....Nah....No way!

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This is been the talk of the towns...all over the world - Microsoft to take over Yahoo Inc.
Wow! That is indeed something that will raise a trillion eyebrows. This has indeed brought a lot of smiles in the faces of several MS and YAHOO stock holders....not for long!

Yes, this has been one of the most sizzling stories of recent times...and the 'would have been' the monstrous deals of recent times and of course in the history of Microsoft. Yes, I did say 'would have been'. In my opinion, this is certainly not the right thing to happen (and most likely will not materialize). I have three good reasons to support my opinion...

  1. The first and foremost reason being - A Profile Mismatch
    • MS being totally into the product space (starting from an Operating System space)
    • MS later branched into hosted application space and the portal space
    • MS has not been into the middleware space - though having tried to do something here by some acquisitions (like that of Groove Networks)
    • Yahoo has predominantly been in the Search business
    • Yahoo has spread its offerings into the Internet world - collaboration space
    • Yahoo also went into signing a deal with the Big Blue and rolled out the IBM Omnifind Yahoo! Edition, which was a move to get a hold in the enterprise search engine space
  2. The second reason is that Microsoft acquiring Yahoo will be construed as Microsoft accepting a defeat to Google - not withstanding competetion and going in for an acquisition due to lack of capabilities to come up with an in-house solution!
  3. The third reason I would see from a business impact standpoint is that - The deal, if it happens, will be too humongous a deal, to the business case in hand (that I can think of)
Currently, as per current rankings of Search Engines, Google tops the charts with Yahoo following second and Microsoft falling third.

It was not long ago (in 2005) that Bill Gates treated Google and Yahoo as new-kids-in-the-block. He even said that Google search API's were not as good as Microsoft's!!!

"With Google, there are rumors about them being interested in that services piece, but they really haven't done that much. Our search API is way better than their search API
- Bill Gates, at Microsoft Professional Developer Conference in 2005

This is always going to be an interesting thing - The Microsoft - Google war!

Dilbert....ahem...No...its Scott Adams himself!

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Dilbert Pick-of-the-day!

I eat food out of garbage bins!

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No, I'm not the one who said that..... This was the title of an article that I read in the Financial Times magazine on my flight from Los Angeles to Frankfurt.

My previous article was about finding good Veggie food outlets in Chennai. But this one is not even close to it. To find out, read on...

In today's world where people shop around for varities of food at supermarkets and restaurants, there is this person in England who has been living out of garbage bins! No, its not a joke, but the truth. Again, No, he is not doing this because he can't afford to buy food, but for a different reason - "To Protest againt the wasting of food by these supermarkets"

Little do we realize that food that we see available in the supermarket are dumped after they reach the "expiry" date. Yes, expiry date does apply to many of the food, but not all of them. In an attempt to reduce redundancy in information on the internet, I would like to direct you to the web link to the article on Financial Times magazine. Click here and read on.

Chennai and Veggie Food - A Snapshot

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Chennai has been known from past for its mouth watering Idlis, Vadas and Dosas. I prefer to refer to these three (IVD) as the King, Queen and the Jack of the entire gamut of South Indian food. IVD can also be construed as Ideal Vegetarian Delicacies.



Today's Chennai has a lot more savouries to offer, than just IVD. A host of sub-varities (both, spicy and non-spicy) of IVDs have been introduced, which would result in a countless varities. There was a restaurant called Sangeetha (part of a food-chain called Sangeetha) in Mandaveli which used to offer 100 varities of Dosa for INR 99/- only! This was my favourite spot for a round meal some years back. I'm not sure what happened to this now - I don't see it there anymore (Readers - Please tell me if you happen to know where I can find another place like this...Slurp!!!).



Saravana Bhavan has been the most preferred place to many people here. Since their opening shops in various countries outside of India, they have managed to attract a whole lot of Indians around the world. IVDs at Saravana Bhavan has been long known for its quality. Today, they are also known for two other benchmarks - Quantity and Cost! The quantity of food (including IVDs) has reduced comparatively, while the Cost of the food has risen significantly. If the cost of a plate of Dosa is INR 24 at Sangeetha, the cost of the same dish at Saravana Bhavan is INR 60 (This is if you have Dosa at an airconditioned facility of the hotel).

Having briefly talked about IVDs and a couple of hotels, I thought of giving a list of really good Veggie food restaurants/joints that you will enjoy (I bet!) in Chennai.

  • Sangeetha (has many branches across the city)
  • Saravana Bhavan (has many branches across the city)
  • Hotel New Woodlands (Radhakrishnan Salai) - Try "Vrindhavan" restaurant inside this hotel - Food is really good - I stand gurantee!
  • Woodlands Drive-In (Radhakrishnan Salai) - Good place to be if you happen to have food when you have a US Visa interview at the Chennai Consulate
  • Palimar (diagonally opposite to US Consulate - In Parson Complex)
  • Komalas (Kodambakkam High Road - next to Parson Complex) - Self-Service facility
  • The Ganges (below Komalas)
  • Mathura (Mount Road - Near Bata showroom)
  • Vasantha Bhavan (has many branches across the city)
  • Hot Chips (Annanagar - Near Ananda Bhavan - on the 100 feet road)
  • Murugan Idli Shop (T.Nagar)
  • Sandeepha (T.Nagar and Alwarpet) - A new one - Seems good so far
These are the ones that offer authentic South Indian food in Chennai (that I know of).

So, if you happen to live in Chennai, and you are reading this article, please tell me more Veggie restaurants that offer good food.

If you are planning on a visit to Chennai, do try to pick a meal/food from any of the above mentioned restaurants - Satisfaction Guranteed!

(PS: This is solely based on my experiences. The above mentioned restaurants are not tipping me for this article ;-) )

The Dream starts with a Nightmare - Travel from India to USA

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The Trend
For many Indians, the United States has been (and continues to be) the most dreamt place to study/visit/work (for a myriad of reasons). Right from my engineering undergraduation days, I've heard many engineers-to-be talk about their dreams of getting an admission - into a graduation program in an engineering school in the US of A. Even at work, I've seen a lot of people wanting to work in the US of A.

The Brand
United States of America has become a 'brand' that has established itself so strongly in the minds of trillions of people around the world (and so in India). A 'brand' that has emerged so confident of attracting 'clientele' from across the world, that it doesn't take that 'extra' step to increase 'user-friendliness' to its end-users (if I may call so).

The Nightmare Experience!
I was at the Consulate General of the United States - Chennai, India a couple of weeks back for a visa a business travel that I had to do in a week's time. This is in the month of April in Chennai - which means, the thermometer read 34 degrees Celsius (approx 94 Fahrenheit). I had an appointment post-noon, and was asked to be present atleast 15minutes prior to the time I was given. I went there half an hour prior to my appointment time, and was put into a queue that spanned for atleast 50 yards from the Consulate entrance. I was joined by people from all age groups - people in their 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's...and also late 70's! I had a couple ahead of me who were 79 and 75 years old. We all had to wait in the line "that had NO shelter" under the 'real HOT sun' for almost 50 minutes. We were called in 10minutes after the appointment time (No, the wait doesn't end so soon!)

There were a group of security personnel who checked our documents and the appointment time, and we were asked to go past security. We were then made to stand in another queue inside the consulate premises (a winding queue that spanned another 50+ yards). It took us well over an hour to get into the visa interviewing chamber (a building which was airconditioned). During all this process, there was no place where we were offered a proper shelter - not even a temperory roofing nor a was there a place to sit! I pitied the aged couple who were ahead of me (there were many more older people in the queue).

There was a person from the consulate who came forward to ask for people who had kids, and let those people go ahead of us; but when this old gentleman ahead of me asked if he and his wife could go ahead, there was a quick question from the consulate person - "How old are you?". This person told " I'm 79 years old". The immediate reply from the consulate person was - "Only people above the age of 80 are allowed to bypass the queue. It won't apply for you". This is ridiculous! What if he had his 80th Birthday the next day???

Some tips to Go Armoured!
So, net-net, here are some tips for people who plan to visit the US Consulate at Chennai (especially during the summer):

  • Bring along a person with you - who can stand outside and help you with essentials like water, umbrella, ice pack, etc (this person has got to stand away from you - near a tree - even outside the consulate - the security demands this)
  • If you are a reader of books, magazines, please carry one with you (you can carry this inside the consulate) - this comes handy (both, to read and as a shelter) when you stand in those long queues inside the premises
  • Carry some candies with you - this comes handy inside the premises - helps you with the thirst
  • Carry a hand towel, as you will tend to perspire a lot and also this doubles as a shelter!
  • Don't book your flight tickets (incase you are flying down from outside of Chennai) anywhere close to your appointment time - give atleast 5 hours* gap between your appointment time and your flight departure time.

*
(2hours inside the consulate+ 1 hour travel time to airport+ 1 hour for checkin time + 1 hour buffer time)

Whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas...

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Got back to Chennai on early morning of May 1st, from a place that has so much of history attached to it - Las Vegas.

Never realized that Vegas, a place known for its glamor, gaming and style, dated back to early 1700's. This was the second time I've been in Vegas in the past 5 months. Being a tetotaller and a big 'zero' at gambling, I was not as much thrilled as others would be, during this second visit. I was there for a conference, and it was my first conference as a speaker. With butterflies in my stomach, it was a different experience to be in a place like "Vegas for a technical conference"!

The second day was over, and it was when I happened to know from my friend that Las Vegas had a good history attached to it. It is when I began to realize that Nevada (the state to which Las Vegas belongs to) was a desert! This got me curious and started to browse the internet to learn more about Las Vegas.

(a view of Las Vegas from my room - 17th Floor at The Rio)


"Las Vegas" means "The Meadows" in Spanish, discovered by a Spanish trader Rafael Rivera in the 1700's. Its told that the construction of the Hoover Dam (originally known as the Boulder Dam) resulted in the generation of so much of electric power, that Las Vegas started to consume and started to develop as the most brightly lit city in the world.

"The Strip" is a stretch in Las Vegas which houses some of the world's largest and glamorous casinos like MGM Grand, Paris, New York New York, etc. Its said that "The Strip" does not belong to Las Vegas, but to Clark County. The Strip-building began in the late 90's and ever since then, its been the gaming capital of the world.

"Whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas"....this is how the famous one liner goes. But "Whatever has happened (the history) at Vegas needs to get out of Vegas" :-) . To know more about Vegas, here is a good link LasVegasPast.com