Sunday, October 29, 2006

YO YO Yo4Ya !

Yesterday was a big day at the office, Yo4ya, our chillware product was opened to selected users. I was really looking for something like this, a place to go relax and do stupid nothings with friends. I can tell you I'm loving it...already spent a few hrs playing around with themes, uploading photos, updating my profile, browsing people, sending stupid messages to friends...

Seems others like it too...
...its up 2,259,601 places on day 1 to reach 26,873 --- winning no 1. in Alexa of fastest rising site of the day/week :)

Monday, October 23, 2006

Server Side Story

It's finally happening. The promised arrival of server side software is slowly emerging. Downloading software is surely going to become a thing of the past:

Email: Gmail and Zimbra

Spreadsheets: Google Spreadsheets...this is the coolest thing, I've switched as I can share my spreadsheets and work in groups

Wiki: My office has set-up a knowledge management and info sharing system using Mediawiki. It's the best tool we've ever used. No more (or atlest no more important ones) documents lying on people's computers all over the office.This 1st thing we're puttin on are our business process manuals.

Storage: Say hello to online storage guys like XDrive, GoDaddy, where you can store all your files instead of on your PC

Photos: Picasa, Ofoto and the others aren't just photo sharing sites, they are photo storage sites :)

Word Documents: Writely is great, works with each using your Google account. And ofcourse it's got the easy share feature.

Games: Ok, hardcore action games have a huge way to go, but all the other games are already online. Infact there are now games you can only play online.

Music: You can get almost all the music you want via Shoutcast. If you haven't checked this one out do it now.

Chat: This has some way to go, but I think in a year or two most messengers will be online. For customer support we are already using a put online web messenger.

Whats left: besides the browser, odds and ends, like visio, skype, photo editing software, some windows utilities...

Google in the thick of it all

These guys really have their eye firmly on server side. They have smartly intergrated docs and spreadsheets into gmail. And they have really worked hard on making sure the server side stuff works lightining fast.

Another important but low key piece of software by Google is the Firefox browser sync which keeps your FF updated with cookies, passwords, history etc, all the time by storing these at Google, allowing you to use FF anywhere and get the same feel as home. Now I bet Google is planning on extending their deal with FF to include this extension as default with FF...

Movie & Music lovers - goto Bangkok free!

If you love music like I do, you must buy a music album almost every week, or around 50 to 60 albums a year.

The cost of these albums on an average works out to US$12 each, give or take a few dollars. So that's $600 to $700 a year.

Now lets say you also buy a few DVDs a year at $15 - $20 a DVD. I buy around 8 to 12 DVDs a year, so that's about $150 on DVDs.

Lets come to to the Bangkok part: In Bangkok y
ou can pick up CDs for $2 and DVDs for $5 on the grey market. I would say that 99/100 of them work 100% (you can even check them when you buy them). So, you would get your 50 CDs for $100 and your 10 DVDs for $50, a total of $150.

You now have a saving of $600 on your total annual collection. A ticket from Bombay to Bangkok is $450; and from Europe it's around $600...

You also get a whole lot of other great things that you can make your travel money back from:

- Clothes. Dirt cheap in BKK
- Electronics. Goto Pantip Plaza in Bangkok, you'll get deals that'll save you atleast 40% off prices in Bombay and 30% of prices in Europe. Buy cell phones, computer monitors, digital cameras, laptops, web cams...
- Dentist treatment. Those of you in Europe & the US can save tons by just doing your dentist treatment in Bangkok
- Cost of living. If you have a place you can rent out in Europe, the rent alone will pay for your 1 year vacation to Thailand.

I think a lot more of us have figured this out than we realise.I can't help but notice the huge swarm of tourists in Bangkok's airport each time I'm there. I think it's one of the reasons behind the booming 8% - 10% tourist growth to Thailand.

Dubai too

Visiting Dubai from Europe allows you to recuperate your ticket costs just by buying electronics and gold, which are at a 20% - 30% advantage to India and Europe.

And, lately, a lot Indians and Europeans are realising that Dubai is a great place to park your money and many of them are
picking up freehold apartments in Dubai...

Dubai 1991

Dubai 2005

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Bombay Stock Ex at all time high again

The market's at a new peak today, 12,700+, and in my opinion, this time it's not overvalued. That's a huge change, considering that just 6 months back I had predicted that it will go in for a 25% correction, which it did.

Why this changed sentiment? Simply because in 6 months India's changed again. The buzz in the air and excitement on the ground has to be experienced to be believed. Airports are twice as busy as 6 months back; property deals are happening at a rate unheard of (more on this below); mobile & internet connections are soaring; salaries are soaring; there are new shops and malls coming up faster than anyone can track; there is new sense of confidence and "can do" with government officers; new nightclubs have sprung up everywhere full of new faces...

I am helping a friend in Toronto buy a 5000sq ft office in Bombay. I have been checking out offices for him last 4 weeks. He wants an office in an A grade building with a 15 foot ceiling. I shortlisted 5 offices. Can you believe it, all are now sold. I was seeing offices and by the time I got back to him and called the agent back within a day or two, they were sold. Its crazy! Now he's told me that as soon as you see a place, just pay a token and lock it in !

Bollywood movies are a great way to experience the changed profile of the market in India. Previous Bollywood movies were made for a large uneducated type of population. The movies released in 2006, which have scored hits are all targetted at educated urban auidences. And 2006 has already given 6/7 big hits and a few more are expected before the year is out (BTW, Khosla ka Ghosla is a must watch).

Not just movies, but live performances are soaring. I have been to more great live performances this year, many by overseas troupes than in the last 15 years! And tickets are at prices people would laugh at previously...and sold out! Nutcracker whose picture is in my previous post ran to full houses for a week plus and then held a few extra show...

So here is to more good times in Bombay.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Nutcracker Bombay

Pictures from Cochin

Cochin is a true mixed bacg, beautiful countryside with pockets of splendid resorts and historical areas, but some very bad roads. To top it all, someone in all their wisdom has placed the airport miles out of town so it takes ateast 1.5hrs to get to it, which in Cochin traffic is.....

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Why do people buy 10 Megapixel Cameras?

Did you know that the latest, most expensive compter monitor can only output 1 Megapixel? So what is the use of buying a 2 Megapixel, 5 Megapixel or 10 Megapixel camera...?????????

How Emirates Airline is changing Asia

Yea so what, this is my airlines week. I was in Cochin last week ( the same time I flew Kingfisher - previous post below), and I met a German couple who said they flew direct from Dusseldorf to Cochin ! Woah! Now I know this is 2006, and I know that there are 100M cellphone users in India, and Germany just hosted the world cup, but this sort of thing dosen't happen...

How did you do it? It was on Emirates Airlines with a 2 hr stop over in Dubai! While stopping over they picked up two bottles of Ciroc Vodka from the Duty Free. Nice.

Gone largely unnoticed is the boon to Asia thanks to Emirates' superb connectivity. Connecting virtually all of Europe to cities and small towns in Asia, thus allowing travellers and businessmen to go on quick short trips anywhere. Take a look at some destination covered:

Cochin - India

Hyderabad - India
Bangalore - India
Trivandarum - India
Calcutta - India
Peshawar - Pakistan

Lahore - Pakistan
Damascus - Syria
Dammam - Saudi Arabia
Casablanca - Morocco
Lagos - Nigeria
Nice - France
Moscow - Russia
Manchester - UK
Birmingham - UK
New York - USA

and there are 100s more.

When the Airbus 380, the double decker superjumbo was announced, Emirates' name was synonoumous with it, because not only had Emirates played an key role in it's development, but was it's 1st customer and it's largest customer with 129 planes ordered! So in addition the the fantastic existing connectivity, when the new fleet starts operating next year, there will be even more connectivity.

For Asia this mean massive growth. It means that exporters or interior designers based in Paris can serve customers in virtually any part of Asia, making a 2 day working trip !It means the tourism industry in remote Kerela (Cochin) will boom, it means a 1001 positive growth things.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Kingfisher Experience

Around a year back India's own flamboyant business tycoon, Vijay Mallya, launched Kingfisher Airlines, promising a new level of luxury and naughtiness in the skies.

For those of you who have not visited India or are tee totalers, Kingfisher is India's no. 1 beer. It's actually a basic beer, so Kingfisher Airlines is a curious brand name. Initially I assumed Kingfisher Airlines to be a budget no frill airline, but the multi-million dollar ad campaign and reports from passengers showed it to be a premium airline...Apparently a whole new experience in cattle class travel.

Getting out of my taxi I am assisted by a well dressed porter in wheeling my luggage to the check-in. I realised in horror that the guy had managed to mangle my suitcase's pull along cord and it was in danger of becoming quite useless...

On board the aircraft was extremely well turned out in Red, proving how exceptional design can create wonderful ambiance. The staff was also decked out in trendy and sexy (if you can call short skirts that) attire, but with a bit too much garish make-up.

Service was excellent. A lot of touches, like a handout kit containing goodies and printed menu, were both smart and labour saving. The inflight personal entertainment system is a great touch on a domestic airline and Vijay Mallya recuperates the costs by running promos of his beer all the way.

I was all set to abandon flying other airlines but the luggage took 45 mins...a lifetime on Monday afternoon. This is where Jet Airways, India's original
modern airline never lets you down: on time & efficient everytime. Then on reflection I realised that Kingfisher lacked the quiet cool professionalism of Jet Airways and that makes all kinds of horrible thoughts about engine maintenance go through your mind...

Well maybe I'll give it another try...hope Vijay tracks blogs...