Inquisitive Interviews : Sowmya Suryanarayanan – Research Analyst

After a bit of a break, for this feature Inquisitive Interviews is back. This week we feature one of the most interesting professions yet, Research Analyst, specially someone that will have a bearing on the outcome of the bilateral ties of two countries. Someone in fact that can help definitely make a change. A research analyst would quite literally do the ground work and research and come up with relevant policies that help in the formation of a new agreement in between 2 countries.

Inquisitive Interviews, the feature was born out of the requests by some of the students who read this blog, requesting information regarding careers. And with a view to help them make a better choice, I have started to feature various careers from different people, starting with people I know and hoping to slowly reach many different people. The Inquisitive Interviews feature would not only help the students reading the interview but also the interviewees providing them with some Online PR of sorts, the benefits of which I mentioned in another post earlier.

[Q] Tell us something about yourself- where you live, work, your interests…?

I work with a policy think tank called Strategic Foresight Group, which is based in Mumbai, India.  I write in-depth research reports on various development-related issues in South Asian countries, more specifically on Bangladesh and India.

Interests include reading, trekking, exploring new places and watching cricket.

[Q] What is your average day like at work?

My average day at work consists of reading opinion pieces and news reports on Bangladesh and India. Monitoring and analyzing emerging trends in both the countries. There are no daily deadlines to meet but there are project specific deadlines.

[Q] Is this job what you had pictured to be? If yes, then how long did you take to get here?

Yes, most definitely.

After I completed my Masters, it took me three years of whining, two odd jobs and a dear friend’s nudge to get here.

[Q] What’s the most interesting part of your job? Do you get bored at your workplace?

The most interesting part of my job is to study how similar issues affect poor people across South Asia and to identify different approaches to study a specific problem.

Hmmm..actually, I don’t get bored at my work place. I enjoy doing my job. And I work with a dynamic team and there is constant interaction and discussion taking place.

[Q] What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Not to have bias while analyzing issues.

[Q] Do you report to someone? How much of an impact the person you report to has on your job?

Yes, I do report to the Executive Director of my organization. Her opinion has a direct bearing on my work.

[Q] Do you use skills that you learnt in school /college? Did you take up any specific training or courses?

I have a background in Economics, and that has definitely helped in doing my job better. No, I did not take up any specific courses. I developed my analytical skills on the job.

[Q] Would you advice younger people to join in your industry? As in what you think are the limitations / drawbacks on the industry ?

At the entry level, the salary could be low, especially in India. So you must pursue it only if you are interested in research. And it is a long term commitment.

[Q] What advice would you give to someone trying to get into the industry?

Keep yourself updated with current events. Read editorial and analytical pieces in newspapers to start with. Develop a basic writing skill. A social science degree will definitely increase your prospects of getting a job in the industry. But it is not a must.

[Q] Any online resources you recommend for people taking up this profession?

In terms of ‘job search’, you can check out http://www.devnetjobs.org/

There is no specific online material that you can read to get a job in this sector. However, there are various journal articles available online. You can read them based on your area of interest.

You can get in touch with Sowmya through :

Facebook: facebook.com/sowmya.suryanarayanan

Thank you Soumya for an interesting Interview. I need to note that Sowmya has been really busy with work, and I am thankful that she could really help out with some time of her’s. Thanks again Sowmya.

Be Inquisitive.

Google Plus or Google + : Are Facebook’s days numbered ?

For most guys who read this blog, you will know that we love Google here. And when Google tells us that they have a product that is competition for Facebook of course the excitement levels around here are way too much. Although I do not believe that Facebook will be overthrown as yet, it is clear that the Giant has competition. Google + as its called, looks quite interesting from the sneak preview given through the videos below. A few months back when Eric Schmidt confessed on National TV in the US that they misread the social media scene and did not read the signs of social media it made all the news. Especially considering that he is the CEO of one of the most influential companies in the world. Their products that flopped included Google Buzz, Wave and many similar attempts at Social Media.

Now Google has not only fought back, but by the looks of things it looks a very interesting platform. Google has close to a Billion visitors a month on their site and what this means is that they already have a large user base. Facebook has very loyal supporters, but if you remember s did myspace at some time. The undoing of Myspace or the rise of Facebook was largely attributed to the increasing number of parents and elders into a platform that was started off for college students only. Facebook today has similar issues. People are leaving Facebook just cos they don’t want their parents to see some drunk brawl pics uploaded by a distant “friend”. So will Google + be able to fill up the gap ? Well yes and No. Early adopters are going to love Google +. But the success of Google + completely depends on how it would evolve, just like Facebook.

What Facebook did and what Google was unable to do was provide a face and an identity to their users around the Internet. Google has struggles to pull this off for so long. But with the Google Profiles, Gmail and Google + the offering is going to be pretty strong from Facebook. The identity provided by Facebook was among the first in the industry, it will be keep to see how Google might utilize this to their advantage. It is ironic that I am posting this rant on Facebook to talk about the death of Facebook and possible rise of Google +. Google has the knowledge of all the things that Facebook did wrong, and all the things that Facebook could not pull off. Add to it the innovative nature of Google and we might have a pretty strong offering on our hands.

Not to forget Android. It is a known fact that Android is taking over the smartphone market with a storm, and it is also a known fact that the future of the internet is mobile, Google + deep integration in Android will just make that offering so much stronger and desirable in the days to come. The service is currently invitation only, just like most of Google product releases. This means they will work on the curiosity of the users to being them to the product, however the success is completely going to depend on the usability, privacy control and the new features that the product brings. I am already excited, and have applied to be invited. Videos and the link to get your own invite below.

Google + a Quick Look

Google + and Circles

Google + : Explore Settings

Google + : Mobile Explore

Google + : Video Chats with Hangouts

Google + : More interesting stuff with Sparks

Google + : Circles

Google + : Hangouts

Google + : Huddle (Group Texting)

Google + : Instant Upload

Google + : Sparks


You can read about what Google’s thoughts are when they made this on their official blog here. Want to see what it really looks like well check it out here.

Watch out for sites that mash up both Facebook and Google + to bring you a combined experience as both platforms are going to be pretty strong for a while. Hmm, someone know any developers who might be interested in working on this ?

Guest Post – Exoskeleton Allowing The Paralyzed To Walk

Technology is really doing amazing things. Being confined to a wheel chair for your entire life is something many of us have difficulty even imagining. Small things most of us take for granted like the ability to make eye contact without looking upward is something that up until now just wasn’t possible for those paralyzed. A company called Berkeley Bionics is working to change all of that with the first “practical” exoskeleton.

Berkeley Bionics’s Elegs

The elegs by Berkeley Bionics are a relatively lightweight and portable exoskeleton system that allows those paralyzed from the waist downs to walk again. The elegs are based on HULC technology, which was developed by the US military to allow lifting things heavier than 200 pounds. The person operating the elegs first has their lower body securely snapped into the exoskeleton. A series of complex sensors in the elegs then help the user move one leg forward and evenly distribute their weight. The elegs users hands, meanwhile, use crutches to ensure balance when switching legs. While the system is being developed so anyone can use it, right now it works best with those who were recently paralyzed. If the person was recently paralyzed then they still have walking in muscle memory, and this helps immensely when using the elegs to walk.

Where The Elegs Are Now And Where They Are Going In the Future

As of right now the elegs are still in the closed testing phase. This means that while the technology is functional now, the total cost and difficult of use makes it impractical for the consumer market. Berkeley Bionics has already hinted at the next version of the elegs currently in development. According to Berkeley Bionics, the next generation of the elegs is designed form the ground up for real world use. The example they gave was being able to put on the elegs in the morning and perform tasks like driving and hiking without ever having to re-adjust the exoskelton. Seeing the amazing strides made with current technology, it’s likely that a viable option to allow those paralyzed to walk again will be available for purchase within 10 years.

Bio: Tracy Sitchen is a veteran coupon clipper, stay at home Mom, and aspiring writer. While she loves shopping, she loves the chase of the deal even more! She’s recently been writing about Houston Aquarium coupons along with Old Spaghetti Factory coupons over at her blog where she shares deals and discounts to help every day people save money.

Blackberry’s main weapon, the BBM [Lots of Videos]

Blackberry is one of the world’s top Smartphone manufacturer, and that is an undeniable fact when it comes to Web enabled Mobile Phones. Traditionally what was considered that the Blackberry was a Business Person’s phone, and they did a great job selling the phone to organizations. For a company who was first time into the market, taking on giants like Apple and Nokia, they carved a Niche for themselves. A few months back my wife got on to the bandwagon and well eventually I did and one of the biggest fact seemed to be the BBM, for her and well cheap internet connectivity for me. However with passage of time and usage I have to admit, BBM is something that I have got accustomed to.

From my boss to my wife, and a whole lot of friends in between, the BBM has actually bought over a lot of fans to the BBM and in turn the Blackberry itself. For all of the guys who are wondering what the BBM is all about this video should give a better idea. In fact this post has so many videos all from Blackberry as a testimonial to Blackberry’s commitment to pushing the BBM.

Blackberry has realized this and the new campaigns of Blackberry are now centered around the BBM, like this one here. More so in India, from the Blackberry boys ad to now an entire range of ads around the BBM here are a few for you to look at.

Now there are more ads talking about flirting and such, so well here are some for you to feast your eyes on.

What really makes the BBM interesting

1. Sometimes, you’ll know that they’re ignoring you:

Once you send a message, a few things can happen.

a. A clock will appear, indicating that the message is in the process of being sent.

b. A check mark will appear, indicating that you’ve sent the message successfully.

c. A check mark with a ‘D’ appears. This means the message has arrived to the intended PIN.

d. A check mark with an ‘R’ appears. Your message has been read.

So why haven’t they answered…? What are they doing?! Did this ever happen to you when you stuck with traditional texting? Probably not, because that ‘R’ makes all the difference. You can rationalize the blue out of the sky when a traditional text message goes unanswered. Try rationalizing an ‘R’ message and see what you come up with besides: “I am meant to be alone forever.”

2. Other times, your message will get lost in BBM limbo:

Due to the flaws of modern technology, you’ll occasionally see a hieroglyphic BBM symbol that you can’t comprehend. No ‘R’, no ‘D’, just confusion and angst. This symbol will remain the same for a few days, at which point you’ll take to Google in order to decipher what it all means. “Was I deleted? Is their phone broken? What the hell is this symbol of what is seemingly a man talking on a phone?”

3. Your PIN is unstable:

With every new cell phone comes a new PIN. Anything sent to your old address is sucked into the ether. This could lead another party to believe that you’re actively ignoring them (see #2);

4. There’s no such thing as “taking a hint”:

When you ignore someone via BBM, it’s perfectly reasonable for them to assume that it would be “okay” to contact you using some other vehicle, like GChat, Facebook, or traditional texting methods due to BBM’s lack of dependability. “She must’ve not received my last 20 BBMs… time to virtually infringe on her alone time some other way.” Don’t ignore someone on BBM and expect that they’ll go quiet into the night. You may have to end this one like an adult.

5. Your risqué messages are at constant risk:

Unless you’re the motivated type who makes amendments to the nicknames in your BBM contact list, it’s likely that common names will show up in multiples. That means confusing your cousin Brian with your lover Brian; your roommate Steve with your one-night-stand Steve. Do you really want to ask your co-worker Dan if he enjoyed your “performance” the night before? Didn’t think so.

Still loved by most users

 

I know I now sound like a skeptic, even with all these flaws, what stands out is features like sending pictures, voice notes immediate reactions, group discussions etc. But these are possible with other ways too, what makes it really interesting is the knowledge if the person has sent the message or not.

I am sure most people with BBM have noticed a scene like the one above, trying to make conversation with the people who are not there, sacrificing the time with the people who are in front of you.

All in all, if it is up to Blackberry most of us will be like this, but I guess that’s where cell phone etiquette comes in. Like they say, life was a lot more simpler when Blackberry and Apple were only fruits.

We are being scammed with 3D

LG introduced a new 3D TV this past couple of weeks and the ads are not really stopping. Samsung, Sony, LG, Toshiba, Sharp, all major electronics manufacturing companies have actively promoted and proposed 3D TV’s in the past year. From really interesting Ads to in your face TV displays all over the market, 3D TV’s are the talk of the TV town. I believe this is a big scam that we are all getting sucked into. And since so many of you read this blog, I think its time I shared my two bits along with why I think so, like I have done before. 3D as a gimmick is nearly everywhere, after the success of Avatar and the success that it bought James Cameron with money, nearly everyone is looking to maximize the profits on the 3D bandwagon.

From Games, Movies, TV (Sport) and now into Smart Phones as well, 3D is gaining nearly everyday. And my take on the 3D “revolution” is just that they are trying to bleed us off of our money. Unless we all realize and talk about it, he technology companies will continue trying to drain us of our hard earned money. If you think 3D is about innovation, like what these guys are talking about. 3D has been around for a while, I remember being a kid and watching “Chota Chetan” in theaters with my parents. So what is 3D actually doing ?

Considering that most movies these days are using 3D effect addition to 2D picture, unlike Avatar which was shot with 2 cameras for the 3D effect. The introduction of the 3D effect to my knowledge reduces the sharpness from the image and adds muddled colors and makes the image dimmer. I experienced this effect when I saw Tron in the theater. Many people do not know this but the action shots need to be made slower for 3D because when people watch fast action scenes in 3D it makes them sick. A bit of research will show that close to 25% of the people get headaches or nausea from simply watching 3D.

The SCAM gets more and more clearer considering that watching 3D movies costs the viewer an additional AED 15 here in Dubai. In rupees that would be really close to 180/- or nearly $4. Making it an increase of $16 for a family of 4. The easy picking for the 3D scam are children for whom nearly every movie released in the past year has been 3D. Parents seldom think about money when it comes to kids, but have you seen the quality of pictures ?? Its not even as good as the time you went to see the same movie in 2D. I have in fact seen kids mention this.

Of course most movies in the past few years have been 2D movies converted to 3D, which apparently the way most “3D” movies are still handled. Before I came up with such a strong accusation on the electronics Industry, I managed to see a sample of Avatar which is considered the most amazing 3D movie of all time, in a 2D HDTV screen. Except the movie played off a Blu Ray Disk and was playing on a LED TV running 240Hz, let me tell you the scenes and colors were as impressive. Sure, there are a few neat moments in most 3D movies, but the novelty wears very off quickly and it’s certainly not worth the trade-off in picture quality or action sequences.

Gitex has come and gone in the past couple of years and the number of 3D TV screens has just increased. Even now the thought of wearing special glasses to watch TV has put me off from even considering a 3D TV. Apart from 3D I think the tech companies need to tell their customers that the world without 3D includes thinner HDTV’s with dropping prices and smarter TV’s with internet connectivity, the ability to play YouTube and other online media directly and just manage your digital media at home. But no, these companies push for 3D over and over adding features like Smart TV and Google TV to 3D TV’s cos they can then charge a premium on the premium.

This is a bad detour for the entertainment and electronics industries, and they stubbornly refuse to let it die. In fact, they keep trying to push 3D on us, since many of these new products have been in planning for a year or two (before consumers started catching on to the 3D scam). The movie industry and movie theaters try to force us to only be able to watch some of their top movies in 3D (and pay extra for it). TV makers are forcing 3D into all of their new top-of-the-line LED TVs (and trying to make us to pay extra for it). Content companies are now making their Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy bundles include 3D discs (and trying to make us pay extra for it). Game companies such as Nintendo are integrating gimmicky 3D into their new systems. Mobile computing vendors such as HTC and LG are even trying to put 3D into their smartphones and tablets. There’s only one way to stop the madness. Avoid 3D whenever possible.

This is a bad experiment that the industry is forcing consumers to subsidize. And since they can’t create a better product, they’ve simply latched on to 3D as a marketing ploy that the entertainment and electronics industries can use to trick people into thinking that they are getting a superior experience. It’s only working because just enough people are falling for the scam to keep it alive.

It’s not that we don’t want innovation in real life imaging. Of course, we do. We just want real innovation, and don’t want to pay for badly-overpriced gimmicks and half-baked experiments.

NO 3D for me !

Proven, Creative job hunting techniques that will amaze you

Social Media is the buzz these days, but what really is Social Media. And there are people and businesses doing what ever it takes to get on to the band wagon of Social Media. But there are a selected few who are actually using it, in ways that would make us stand up and take notice. Job Hunt. Yes the field where you send in your resume wait for an interview to be arranged, and then hope you have done well to negotiate your job. Yes there have been really creative resumes, like the ones highlighted on another post here. But what if you could short cut the process with Social Media.

image credit

Well yes of course you have a Linked In profile and are findable on Google and yes your resume reads right as well, but still there are 100 Million other people on Linked In as well doing pretty much the same. And to make things worse, we don’t even use Linked In the way it is meant to be. So are you confused what to do, well these things should give you some inspiration. When faced with the unenviable task of searching for a job,  and marketing yourself,  the web and social media provides a variety of opportunities that wouldn’t work with other mediums. These creative job hunters have thought outside the box and leveraged the web to get themselves noticed.

Alec Brownstein

Alec Brownstein, a writer, needed a job. So he chose the names five top NYC advertising directors that he’d like to work for. Knowing that large bigwig executives would probably (like all of us) Google their own name, he bought an advertisement in Google that would be displayed when each person searched for his own name.

He got two job offers. The cost was just $6, a fine example of creative job hunting. He later published this YouTube Video explaining how it all happened, which itself went viral on the web – with nearly 1 million views at time of writing.

Talk about Social Media on steroids, this campaign was the reason I really started looking at some other similar examples, the next two are as good.

David Wood

David Wood, an unemployed Sales Representative from Bristol decided enough was enough after spending two years writing up to 30 job applications and scanning newspapers and websites for paid work. He decided to put an advert together on auction website EBay auctioning himself off to the highest bidder.

After some initial exploration on Twitter of using the medium of EBay to sell himself, David was approached by a PR firm who helped him create the campaign.Although his first advert didn’t make the cut (EBay don’t currently allow services to be auctioned on the site) he amended the advert to become much more product focused.

His advert reads: ‘For Sale an Experienced Sales Representative’ and describes him as a 1965 model who is ‘enthusiastic’ and ‘motivated’. With this his profile has shown up on numerous blogs, like mine, TV shows local newspapers, providing him with the reach that has kind of made him a local celebrity. Check out a screenshot of his eBay page below.

Victor Petit

Victor Petit is a french graphic design student looking for an internship. His recent Video on Vimeo shows perfectly how a little creativity in your C.V. can really grab the attention of your audience. His combination of mobile QR codes and an interactive experience is quite brilliant, taking the traditional C.V. and turning it on it’s head.

Absolutely fantastic work I should say, and we all know how QR codes are taking on the world. You can read about QR codes here if you are interested.

I dont really think that all of trying the same thing will work too, this is just for inspiration so you can think out of the box too.

How gullible are we ? Ban DiHydrogen Monoxide.

I was browsing the blogosphere and stumbled across a very interesting article today, Dihydrogen Monoxide. Its ridiculous, there is abundance of this deadly chemical in the world, and I would really like to warn you about this chemical. So much so that I am willing to add more information about this chemical so that you all can make your judgement yourself. We see this chemical all around us, and although the governments dont want to tell s the truth about this chemical, I will attempt to. Even if most of the larger blogs do not want to talk about this really dangerous chemical. Please spread awareness about this chemical so that we can save our precious resources.

Below is a description done by a research student in his paper.

Dihydrogen monoxide is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and kills uncounted thousands of people every year. Most of these deaths are caused by accidental inhalation of DHMO, but the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide do not end there. Prolonged exposure to its solid form causes severe tissue damage. Symptoms of DHMO ingestion can include excessive sweating and urination, and possibly a bloated feeling, nausea, vomiting and body electrolyte imbalance. For those who have become dependent, DHMO withdrawal means certain death.

Dihydrogen monoxide:

  • is also known as hydroxl acid, and is the major component of acid rain.
  • contributes to the “greenhouse effect.”
  • may cause severe burns.
  • contributes to the erosion of our natural landscape.
  • accelerates corrosion and rusting of many metals.
  • may cause electrical failures and decreased effectiveness of automobile brakes.
  • has been found in excised tumors of terminal cancer patients.

Contamination is reaching epidemic proportions!

Quantities of dihydrogen monoxide have been found in almost every stream, lake, and reservoir in America today. But the pollution is global, and the contaminant has even been found in Antarctic ice. DHMO has caused millions of dollars of property damage in the midwest, and recently California and Japan.

Despite the danger, dihydrogen monoxide is often used:

  • as an industrial solvent and coolant.
  • in nuclear power plants.
  • in the production of styrofoam.
  • as a fire retardant.
  • in many forms of cruel animal research.
  • in the distribution of pesticides. Even after washing, produce remains contaminated by this chemical.
  • as an additive in certain “junk-foods” and other food products.

Companies dump waste DHMO into rivers and the ocean, and nothing can be done to stop them because this practice is still legal. The impact on wildlife is extreme, and we cannot afford to ignore it any longer!

The American government has refused to ban the production, distribution, or use of this damaging chemical due to its “importance to the economic health of this nation.” In fact, the navy and other military organizations are conducting experiments with DHMO, and designing multi-billion dollar devices to control and utilize it during warfare situations. Hundreds of military research facilities receive tons of it through a highly sophisticated underground distribution network. Many store large quantities for later use.

Unbelievable isn’t it ? What if I told you to read the name again, dihydrogen monoxide :

DiHydrogen = Hydrogen x 2 and
Monoxide = Oxyden x 1

More commonly known as H2O or our beloved water.

Well I was not lying after all, if you go back and read the research paper you will see that most of the statements are applicable to water. In  is enough to fool the best of us, In fact, In September 2007, news media reported that a New Zealand MP was tricked by a letter from a constituent asking her to raise the issue of “dihydrogen monoxide” (DHMO). Obviously the letter went to his experts who confirmed that the substance cannot be banned as “withdrawal effects of DHMO are even worse”.

This example does aptly demonstrate the kind of fallacious reasoning that’s thrust at us every day under the guise of “important information”: how with a little effort, even the most innocuous of substances can be made to sound like a dangerous threat to human life. Moreover, you cannot really take everything you read in the papers seriously, Indian Media is making sure that things like this are taken to a limit of journalism, making news of anything they can get to steal some air time of the viewers.

I guess this one will end up being a public service announcement, research the things you read and see. if you think the above article is not really there, well there is proof on Snopes.com, you can see here.

Wost action scenes in Indian Cinema – Special Effects getting worse ?

First things first I am a Big Bollywood fanatic, I love the song and dance too. And when I say Bollywood I want to make sure that these are the movies from Bombay (now Mumbai). For most of those who did not know there are so many different sources of movies in India, Just check out the Wikipedia for these different movie sources from India, Assamese cinemaBengali cinemaBhojpuri cinemaHindi cinemaKannada cinemaMalayalam cinemaMarathi cinemaOriya cinemaPunjabi cinemaTamil cinema and Telugu cinema. Most people in the west just classify Indian cinema as Bollywood, just like languages in India as Indian (to be read : “Say something in Indian“). Since I like to keep around the technology aspect on this blog, this post is dedicated to the art of special effects in movies that are well by the looks of things getting worse.

First things first the list of the worst special effects in movies, then we will look at whats going on in the Industry today:

10 : Unstoppable – Akshay Kumar

9 : Crazy Kicks

8 : Rajani

This list can never e complete without the antics of Rajanikanth.

7 : Smoking style by Rajnikanth

6 : Fight Scene :)

5 : Matrix revolutions in India

4 : Indian Superman

3 : Better than the wild west

2 : Rescue to the rescue


1 : Best Horse in the world

Most of these have been compiled from shares on Facebook on my profile. But I did add a few from YouTube as well. Anyway, one of the biggest things that the above list will show you is the special effects, or rather the lack of it. Although being one of the largest Movie Industry in the world (bigger than Hollywood) we don’t seem to have a good section of Special effects for movies. Is it because we are not capable ? I dont think so, the imagination and creativity shown in the above clips proves so, albeit sloppy.

There is no market ? Well I hate to disagree, Kkrish and Koi Mil Gaya and other movies in India prove that this is not really true. If yes what is stopping it back ? I have news for you, Oscar shortlisted Hollywood film ‘Alpha and Omega’, which was animated by the Mumbai based Crest Animation Studios, is one of the best examples of the trend of 3D entering into India in a big way. The film is the first international 3D animation film, produced in India and it’s success is a good sign for things to come, says Crest CEO A K Madhavan.

“With ‘Alpha and Omega’ a Indian animation house released a global movie in 2600 theatres in the US and grossed 250 crores in box office collection. It is a sign of the good things to come,” Madhavan told PTI. James Cameron, the Hollywood filmmaker who helmed blockbusters like ‘Titanic’ and ‘Avatar’ also seconds India’s chances. Lets hope we don’t miss these above Jems of the Indian Movie Industry.

Will Amazon do to Android what Google could not (in the middle east)

A few weeks back I wrote about how Google might be killing Android in Dubai, not directly but indirectly. The mistake of Google of not telling users here in the middle east that Google Market is not part of the Android offering, and the Handset manufacturers are the bigger scammers (read Samsung, LG, HTC), not publicizing the Android App Market, but not letting users even see it. But for all those guys who have had some trouble getting apps from the app store, especially here in the middle east or anywhere Android Market is not available, here is an option. The Amazon App Store.

You read that right, a company that does not really have anything to do with the Android until now, has an App Market that rivals the one from Google itself. The advantage that it provides over the Android Market is simple, access to the vast bank of Android Apps that are available in the app store. Although they have been sued by Apple for using the word App Store, Amazon has gone ahead with the release of the software for android phones. With the launch, they have also launched a new feature called test drive, which lets customers like us experience the app before buying it. This along with the great recommendation engine and app discovery feature make this one of the best app stores around. You can also shop in the Amazon App store online using your computer and sync the same with the device when you open the app. The service is just great.

The greatest news for the guys in the middle east will be that apart from the free apps, they will now have access into the paid apps for Android. This is possible with the 1 Click check out feature that many of us are already used to here, ordering from Amazon. So the Android user who is excited and wants to get this software, here is how you can do it. First of all visit the following link : http://www.amazon.com/mobile-apps/b?ie=UTF8&node=2350149011

Forget about the warning that says App store is available only in the United States, enter your email address at the right of the screen and click go. You should see an email with the link to the App as well as the step by step process to install it. Here is the screen below.

Download the application and install it on your phone. Once you are done installing , login with your Amazon Username and password and you are good to go. I have used it on my Nexus one and have not yet bought a paid app. However, the free apps are downloading just fine and working great. Looking forward to what’s next ? A Tablet from Amazon like the Kindle, or even another phone from Amazon this time. Why not, even Micromax in India has an Android Phone. Amazon has built the app store that Android should have had from the beginning. (And the free app a day ploy is genius.) What Google does next will be interesting. Do they embrace what Amazon has done? Or do they shun it in fear? But at the end of the day, this may well be Amazon eating Google’s lunch — off of their own plate. Well let’s just hope that this competition brings about better experience for us customers and better apps into the market place.

World’s Cheapest Android Phone – IDEOS

From the beginning of the Android ecosystem, a lot of people have been pushing Android to be the one competitor that can match the flexibility and the feature list of the iOS (iPhone) ecosystem. And all of them have been right, it is everything that a competitor needs to be for the iPhone. Its robust, has the apps, more updates, better online connectivity and great hardware from various manufacturers to match the price.

I have been singing the same song as well, however in the past few months I have also pondered over the possibility of Android overtaking Symbian for world wide mobile phone domination :) Now I am completely convinced that the Android operating system would be ideal to replace the Symbian operating system. First of all you would ask me why ? Well first and foremost its free, open source and not connected to any big player (Google is not evil on this blog) with an agenda. Secondly, the cost of development on the android is on a steady decline making it cheaper to develop specific applications etc for the Android simpler, cost effective and viable. This makes Android an awesome competition to the Symbian. But most Symbian phones (the Nokias) are made for the less expensive markets, and Android Phones tend to be expensive.

Most Android Phones, tend to be expensive because of the touch screen, and related hardware. Most phones that Nokia provides for the less expensive markets do not really have touch screens, wi fi or other expensive components. So, your next question would be is it remotely possible to have an android phone today that is not expensive. The answer to that question is yes.

I just received an email from a social media marketing firm windchimes.co.in, introducing me to this product. Normally I am not one who writes reviews for the sake of writing it, but I looked at the phone and the features that it packed. I wanted to write about it. Enter, IDEOS from Huawei, yes those guys who are famous for networking components. Why was I exited, first of all its the world’s cheapest Android Phone that still includes the touch screen and related features. Yes, its not as cheap as your Nokia 3200 which does not have any smartphone features, but this is comparable to any real smart phone. To tell you more about what got me exited, here are some specifications of the phone.

The IDEOS X5

  • 3.8” 800×480 TFT Capacitive Touch
  • Support multi-touch
  • Auto rotate (G-sensor)

Connectivity

  • BT 2.1 (A2DP)
  • Micro USB (High Speed USB)
  • A-GPS/Compass
  • 3.5mm audio jack
  • 4G Memory

Frequency

  • UMTS 900/2100MHz
  • HSUPA 5.76Mbps,HSDPA 7.2Mbps (U8800)
  • HSUPA 5.76Mbps,HSPA+ 14Mbps(U8800H)

Battery1500mAh Lithium PolymerCore Value

  • HSPA speed with high performance
  • High quality video playback
  • Capture 720p real life

Internet

  • Google Native browser
  • Streaming Audio & Video
  • Support more markup (XHTML/HTML/WML)

Media

  • 5 Mega pixel Camera AF with Flash
  • 720p Video recording and playback
  • SRS professional audio effect

Applications

  • GMS (like Google Mail, Google talk, Youtube )
  • Google Maps with street view
  • Integrated phonebook with Facebook
  • E-book reader: Aldiko
  • Smart search Local & Internet : Servo Search
  • Office & PDF reader: Roadsync
  • Microsoft® Exchange Email solution : Roadsync

Here is an extract of the press statement that they had made.

… an affordable smartphone powered by the latest iteration of AndroidTM2.2 (also known as ‘Froyo’). The smartphone is priced between US$100 and US$200, depending on the market. IDEOS redefines the “entry-level” concept by combining high-quality hardware and software with a high price-to-performance ratio. IDEOS will be released in a number of countries across Europe, Asia-Pacific, North America and Latin America. …

… it boasts downlink speeds of more than 7.2Mb/s, offers WCDMA + WiFi dual network support, and offers ubiquitous mobile broadband services. The device also doubles as a WiFi router for up to eight devices at a time, making IDEOS an all-in-one solution for a range of wireless connectivity options…

Here are some videos of the phone concept and some features as well.

The Story of IDEOS

Official videos of the Phone

You can check out more videos on their YouTube channel here : http://www.youtube.com/HuaweiIdeosIndia. If you are interested to read more about the Phones, you can check out the website here : IDEOS Website. More about Huawei here.

The Earthquake, Tsunami and how the world has changed

First of all, my heart felt condolences to all those who have lost lives and property in the earthquake that just happened in Japan today. It is considered the 5th largest one since 1900, from when we started keeping serious track of these earth quakes. This time however, the effect of something like the world’s 5th largest earthquake is not bringing in as much news of destruction and loss. Its an absolutely fantastic thing to happen, so what has changed ? A few years ago if there would have been an event like this one in a place like Japan, where cities have some of the highest density of people on the planet, there would be more loss of life and property.

What has had an impact is the engineering and the government codes and standards. These are the unsung heroes of Japan, who might or might not be recognized in the near future, but should be. Having spend the last 7 years in the building industry, I know how incredibly difficult it gets sometimes for engineers and architects to keep with the budgets, while maintaining budgets. Japanese architects and engineers have since mastered the art, with the infamous Japanese Engineering. Like testing entire building strengths for Earthquake proofing, or designs like the door above that works as a shield in terms of an earthquake.

Apart from the fact that the building codes and standards are helping with the incident, the other part is the way the digital world has evolved, from providing up to date information on the quake on Twitter right up until, videos on YouTube and Facebook. Videos Like these below have been showing up on Youtube and Facebook at the rate of  hundreds per hour.

But the real power of Social Media was not really shown by Twitter or Facebook, but the miracle of Social Media happened when Google showed up to help.

Unlike companies who are providing condolences on their website, Google has reacted to the devastating 8.9 magnitude earthquake that hit Japan with a tool that helps you find a person or provide information on missing persons. The site also aggregates important resources, maps and other related information.

Google has previously used the Person Finder tool. The Japan earthquake version of the tool currently lists about 5,500 records, but the number is rising quickly as news about the catastrophe spreads around the world. Although the tool can be useful for finding information about a friend or a loved one, Google warns users that it doesn’t review or verify the accuracy of the data.

Google’s Crisis Center also shows a map of the earthquake, the latest related news and lists link to warning centers, disaster bulletin boards, and train and blackout information. Another example of why I love Google, and how a complete City Wide Data Management can be achieved through some of Google’s tools.

5 jobs you did not know could be outsourced

Business models are all around us, people all the time talk about doing something apart from your real job to actually find something to provide with a second source of income. One of the ways you can make some money is by helping someone with a service you are good at, s that they can pay you for it. Outsourcing in other words. Basically outsourcing in the broad sense could be interpreted as ‘sourcing’ services or products ‘outside’ of your normal routine business line.

The buzz word in India is Outsourced, so much so that jobs lost to Outsourcing in Bangalore got their own word in the dictionary, Bangalored. Initially I was annoyed, but then proud that Bangalore is featured in more places around the world not just for software development (which in itself is outsourced work). Moving on, Outsourcing solutions, call centers, engineering etc is one thing. People who like the concept sometimes have taken it a step too far. Of course when it comes to taking things too far creatively, we Indians are hardly featured. Most of these examples are from the US, and am sure that if someone thinks of doing them seriously else where, they might accumulate income doing it. Like they say, if someone is will to pay money for a service there is always someone else ready to do it.  Here are 5 interesting examples :

5. Fake Paparazzi to make others feel that you are important and famous

There is no better way to let the world know you have arrived, then have paparazzi follow you around. From being pinned to the death of princess Diana, right up to making Paris Hilton famous. But this service makes you think how genuine most of these Paparazzi are actually ? The Insider magazine reported of such a service operational, on further research I stumbled upon Celeb4aday the service that allows you to have fake paparazzi follow you around for as little as $500.

Basically, you schedule a time and place, and the company sends its photographers out to call out your name, barrage you with questions and take endless photos of you. It has packages starting at $500 for 30 minutes of irritation and going all the way up to a heroic $2,500 for two full hours. With that package, you also get a bodyguard to protect you from the fake paparazzi, a publicist to field the fake questions for you, a limo, a fake gossip magazine with you on the cover and after the whole thing is over a DVD with a handful of the pictures that your pretend entourage took of your’s.

It might get you noticed, but publicity, I think is a long distance away. Anyway, I guess that some of the struggling Bollywood stars could use this service. Although you could get a bunch of friends do it for you for lesser maybe.

4. Alibi service

If you are into something that you don’t really want people to know about, you always need to have handy alibi’s ready. Alibi’s can range from covering up your tracks when you are caught with something as simple as not being in the office on a particular day to a court case. Generally people rely on their general knowledge, common sense and what they see like movies, series etc for inspiration. However backing up your story with hard evidence is something that everyone falls short of, cos more people knowing about the hoax, means that it can actually be leaked.

Now step in, the Alibi Network; It will come up with some crazy story like how you were actually going for a secret job interview, but on the way you were in a car crash; the hospital had to save your life, and you’re groggy from all the morphine — and you will have all the documents from the “hospital” and “job interview” to prove it. Its as if MI6 prepares documents for their spies a.k.a 007.

You can even get the company to help you fool potential employers into believing that you have attended certain classes and seminars to boost your resume. The prices run $75 and up, depending on how much effort is required to back up your story. One thing to note for sure is that these guys do not really help in criminal activities, although the entire operation somehow seems illegal for me.

3. Break Up with someone

Now your eyebrows are really going up, I can see. Breaking up with someone when a relationship goes sour is one of the hardest thing to do for most of us. Unless you are a person who is just there for a short stint, this is the part of a relationship that causes the most heart ache. The company iDUMP4U has decided to capitalize on your pain (or happiness, depending on which side of the breakup you’re on) by offering its services to dump your significant other. For a nominal fee of $10 for a basic breakup, $25 to call off an engagement and $50 to announce a divorce, they not only provide the service but also records the whole thing to play on its YouTube channel, providing your significant other with their 15 mins of fame as a parting gift.

The company’s online form provides an interesting warning, below.

“Remember, we are ASSHOLES … we dump people for a living. So if you feed us fake information, or wrong info, and waste our time. We will make fun of you on the web. That is what we do …”

Breaking up over the phone is something that is generally frowned upon, Facebook and twitter even worse. If that is the case then really this service should be rated the worst way to end a relationship with someone. However, it does let you get away from that awful deed yourself. Would you use it ?

2. Someone to wait in line for you.

Now we are down to the grand daddy’s of these outsourced services. Someone to wait in line for you. I don’t have enough words to describe how stupid this service really is. But the fact that they are operational and doing business should really shut me up. Standing in line is the bane of our over populated, overgrown life. We stand in line for everything, for the tickets for a match to even getting a decent cup of coffee at the Starbucks.

Most people including me, hate this. Imagine if someone would be your personal “line stander” to stand in lines for work. All you have to do is call this queuing agency in the U.K. called Q4U, and for 20 pounds an hour, you can get a full-time professional line-stander to hold your spot. This service is so poplar that companies in the US and Ukraine are also adopting it. There are also freelancers who get paid up to $1,000 for the particularly desperate — for instance, if you need tickets to the next Shah Rukh Khan movie on opening night. Yes, people are paying for this service.

1. A rented relative / friend / company

At some point in time we all have considered using an older friend as an uncle to visit the school / college and get you out of trouble. The idea is not really new, its being tried and tested in Indian movies many times over and with good result. However, the idea is not being used in India. But Japan. Yes those guys who are full of Zen Gardens and fans of Rajanikanth movies. Japan apparently has some of the most loneliest people in the world, maybe due to over indulgence in technology, social media or just plain fact that they as a society are growing apart. But the fact that a lot of people are lonely means that there would definitely have some people who would pay for someone else to talk to.

No listening to their sorrows, no being a weeping pole to others, but to have someone listening to you in the form of maybe friends, family or a relative. One such person-renting exchange occurs in places called Campus Cafes, where grown men pay to come and hang out with college girls. There’s no sex or groping involved — the men are literally paying money just to talk to girls about whatever. Hagemashi Tai (which is Japanese for “I want to cheer up”) is a friend-renting agency. You can hire one of its actors to act as just about anyone for just about any situation. For example, at a wedding in Saitama, Japan, the groom’s manager gave a heartfelt speech about how great a guy he was and how lucky everyone at the company was to have him. The thing is, this “manager” had never set eyes on the groom or anyone else in the wedding before. The groom hired him from the friend agency to the tune of about 20,000 yen.

It doesn’t stop with fake employers — you can rent people to play absolutely any part you want them to, for any occasion you see fit. You can hire a husband to tutor your kids and yell at the neighbors. You can rent yourself a father to walk you down the aisle at your wedding. You can pay someone to go to Disneyland with you. Creepiest of the lot !!

 

So what do you think ?

People always say, that if you are able to solve a problem for someone, then you can provide them with a service that they will pay for. This goes for Blogs, service industry professionals and also these extremely personal services. Its ridiculous to think that some of these services exist, but traditionally we are all known to use outsourced services in India, and even in Dubai. Household help to do your chores, tutors to help with the time in college where you were lazy enough to concentrate, and even chauffeurs to drive our cars. Would you really use any of these services if they opened in your city ?