Mayan Calender : World will not end in 2012

The whole of the last 2 years people have been talking about Mayan Calender and how the world is on the brink of getting collapsed on itself and ending. But in fact, this is been spoken of more as a joke than anything else. I have not yet seen panic and mass hysteria as some of the people hopped. In fact I remember writing an article about the 7 ways the world might end and what I thought of it. You can see that here. One of them was the Mayan Calender ending signifying the end of earth as well know it. However what if we found evidence otherwise ? Here is some of that.

Archaeologists have uncovered the oldest-known Mayan calendar to date, that throws the apocalypse myth out of the window. So we can throw that myth out of the window. In a recently-excavated Maya megacity, a mural was found in an ancient Maya house, full of drawings and calculations—that helped ancient scribes track vast amounts of time—is said to predict the end of the world thousands of years into the future. Or another Mayan Calender.

What the team found, after a full excavation in 2011, is likely the ancient workroom of a Maya scribe, a record-keeper of Xultún. The reason this room’s so interesting is that; this was a workspace. People were seated on this bench painting books that have long since disintegrated. The books would have been filled with elaborate calculations intended to predict the city’s fortunes. The numbers on the wall were “fixed tabulations that they can then refer to—tables more or less like those in the back of your chemistry book. And those calculations reveal the true Mayan Calendar.

The researchers noticed several barely visible hieroglyphic texts, painted and etched along the east and north walls of the room. One is a lunar table, and the other is a “ring number”—something previously known only from much later Maya books, where it was used as part of a backward calculation in establishing a base date for planetary cycles. Nearby is a sequence of numbered intervals corresponding to key calendrical and planetary cycles.

The calculations include dates some 7,000 years in the future, adding to evidence against the idea that the Maya thought the world would end in 2012—a modern myth inspired by an ancient calendar that depicts time starting over this year.

 We can all breathe at last thinking that the world actually might not end this year, one of the 7 reasons the world might end is now debunked. What about the remaining 6 ? Only time will tell. Watch this space.

Via : Link 1 and Link 2.

The most bizzare Suicide ever

I try not to write things that are on some other sites, maybe some extracts but this was something so inquisitive that I felt that it should be shared here too. This is a Suicide story from 1994, and is so bizzare that I will let you choose if it was a suicide or it was something else, I would call it fate. And an extreme example of it. Read till the end, its a bit long but interesting nevertheless.

At the 1994 annual awards dinner given by the American Association for Forensic Sciences, AAFS President Don Harper Mills astounded his audience in San Diego with the legal complications of a bizarre death. Here is the story…

On March 23 the medical examiner viewed the body of Ronald Opus and concluded that he died from a gunshot wound of the head caused by a shotgun. Investigation to that point had revealed that the decedent had jumped from the top of a ten story building with the intent to commit suicide. (He left a note indicating his despondency.) As he passed the 9th floor on the way down, his life was interrupted by a shotgun blast through a window, killing him instantly. Neither the shooter nor the decedent was aware that a safety net had been erected at the 8th floor level to protect some window washers, and that the decedent would not have been able to complete his intent to commit suicide because of this…

Ordinarily a person who starts into motion the events with a suicide intent ultimately commits suicide even though the mechanism might be not what he intended. That he was shot on the way to certain death nine stories below probably would not change his mode of death from suicide to homicide, but the fact that his suicide intent would not have been achieved under any circumstance caused the medical examiner to feel that he had homicide on his hands…

Further investigation led to the discovery that the room on the 9th floor from whence the shotgun blast emanated was occupied by an elderly man and his wife. He was threatening her with the shotgun because of an interspousal spat and became so upset that he could not hold the shotgun straight. Therefore, when he pulled the trigger, he completely missed his wife, and the pellets went through the window, striking the decedent.

When one intends to kill subject A, but kills subject B in the attempt, one is guilty of the murder of subject B. The old man was confronted with this conclusion, but both he and his wife were adamant in stating that neither knew that the shotgun was loaded. It was the longtime habit of the old man to threaten his wife with an unloaded shotgun. He had no intent to murder her; therefore, the killing of the decedent appeared then to be accident. That is, the gun had been accidentally loaded…

But further investigation turned up a witness that their son was seen loading the shotgun approximately six weeks prior to the fatal accident. That investigation showed that the mother (the old lady) had cut off her son’s financial support, and her son, knowing the propensity of his father to use the shotgun threateningly, loaded the gun with the expectation that the father would shoot his mother. The case now becomes one of murder on the part of the son for the death of Ronald Opus…

Further investigation revealed that the son became increasingly despondent over the failure of his attempt to get his mother murdered. This led him to jump off the ten story building on March 23, only to be killed by a shotgun blast through a 9th story window.

The medical examiner closed the case as a suicide.

What’s the alternative options if Bit Torrent sites are closed ?

Survival of the fittest is the motto that Human Beings have always lived by. When faced by adversity or restriction, we tend to fight and find solutions that are tailored to the problem as well as solutions that are well sometimes out of the box. Today, the online world especially most of the people who download content from the internet are faced with some serious restrictions to what people can download and share. A wealth of information / data and content is available online but not all of it is copyright, one of the most efficient ways to share this information especially large information like music movies etc was through the very very popular Bit Torrents. Bit torrents have gained popularity over the years and as you would imagine most people use them. But with the introduction of SOPA / PIPA and now ACTA it is getting more and more unlikely that these Bit Torrent sites and clients can move further. But like I said earlier we do come out of problems with innovative solutions. Although I believe that more solutions will present themselves in due course like the Option 2, currently there is a budding solution to our woes.

The truth about piracy is simple, I would download a movie and watch it only if I am not really interested to go see it in the theatre. In fact if torrent downloads were not possible, I would not really go and see it at all ! So in that sense the movie industry does not need to fear torrent downloads per se. The real piracy is the fake DVD’s, CD’s and other activities that happen in the shadow and bringing a few websites down will fuel these activities even more. Demand Supply rule here. If you look at the infographic I posted last week this gets terribly visible. The bad movies made the top 10 list as well as the good ones, the downloading trend will probably affect by pinching away those users who would love to buy and keep copies of movies. Not the real cinema money. Food for thought.

First lets talk about Torrents in general. 

A torrent file is a document containing a number of pieces of information about a file including the names of its various component parts as well as pertinent identifying information. Torrent files do not point to specific files on specific servers but instead point to codes that identify chunks of a file. These files are actually quite large – a few kilobytes to a few hundred – and most BitTorrent feeds have used them exclusively for the past few years.

There’s a problem with torrent files, however, that has to do more with perception than reality. To the average politico – and to the average media lobbyist – Torrent files are “files” that point to pirated content.

Option 1 : Tribler

One of the technologies that builds on the BitTorrents which is going to be more relevant than before is Tribler. The Tribler BitTorrent client is no newcomer to the BitTorrent scene. It has been in development for more than 5 years and has delivered many innovative features, which have mostly been ignored by the masses. Developed by a team of researchers at Delft University of Technology, the main goal is to come up with a robust implementation of BitTorrent that doesn’t rely on central servers. Instead, Tribler is designed to keep BitTorrent alive, even when all torrent search engines, indexes and trackers are pulled offline.

So how does it work?

Like many other BitTorrent clients, Tribler has a search box at the top of the application. However, the search results that appear when users type in a keyword don’t come from a central index. Instead, they come directly from other peers. Downloading a torrent is also totally peer to peer and not from a central location. When a user clicks on one of the search results, the header information or meta date (what exists in the torrent file) is pulled in from another peer and the download starts immediately. Tribler is based on the standard BitTorrent protocol and uses regular BitTorrent trackers to communicate with other peers. But, it can also continue downloading when a central tracker goes down.

Tribler uses crowd-sourcing to keep the network clean. Content is verified by user generated “channels”, which can be “liked” by others. When more people like a channel, the associated torrents get a boost in the search results. All this without a central server, guess what no more shutting down websites, and no more losing downloading opportunities.

It simply can’t be shutdown, blocked or censored, whatever laws politicians may come up with. One thing that could theoretically cause issues, is the capability for starting users to find new peers. To be on the safe side the Tribler team is still looking for people who want to act as so called bootstraptribler peers. These users will act as superpeers, who distribute lists of active downloaders. The only other way to shut it down would be to shut down the internet. Imagine that !

While the Tribler client only has a few thousand users at the moment, for avid file-sharers it must be a relief to know that it’s out there. No matter what crazy laws may pass in the future, people will always be able to share.

Those who want to give it a spin are welcome download Tribler here. It’s completely Open Source and with a version for Windows, Mac and Linux.

Option 2 : 3D Printing

This for a lot of people including the Pirate Bay is the future of downloading. With 3d printers getting more affordable as well as a lot more advanced, the days when 3D artwork of a movie Blue Ray downloaded and printing your own copies of the Blue Ray disks is not far away. This about this as an option, you browse popular 3D sharing websites including ones like Google Sketchup, where some user uploads a 3D image of a DVD with the print of the movie on it, all you need is a 3D printer to make unlimited copies of the movie for you.

This is a bit distant but do not under estimate the importance of something like this, especially when Pirate Bay makes a prediction on these lines.

Option 3 : Other Peer to Peer tools 

The third option would be the one that people that plant viruses and malware love. Back to the age old software like Limewire, iMesh and other clients on desktops that can also help in peer to peer downloads. I think we all know the era when we relied on these and what was the result. COnstant pain of viruses and such.

Regardless the option we choose, the options for the industry to block the downloading would only mean that we will find another means and source, after all we are not the most successful species on the planet without the adversity to adapt.

The 7th Sense and the Indian origin of Kung Fu

I love movies, I love the fact that we can be lost in the movie forgetting all the woes for a while. But then there are movies that make you think, and we would all agree that these type of movies seem to be the best.  I am not a person that usually enjoys movies in languages that I don’t understand. Yes, subtitles are a must but I always believe that Sub titles do not completely translate the dialog exactly.So, well when a close friend recommended a movie that too Tamil movie, I was initially a bit skeptical.

Anyway back to the movie in question, the name of the Movie is 7am arivu, literally translated it means the 7th sense. The movie is loosely based on facts and added fiction to come up with a decently gripping storyline. The movie follows the exploits of Bodhidharma. If you don’t know who that is, well like most Indians you would not. But according to history books, he was the third son to a South Indian King and is the founder of the Zen form of Buddhism along with wait for it, Kung Fu. Here is a trailer of the movie.

Yes, you read that right, Kung Fu. It is believed that Bodhidharma trained the monks at the Shaolin Temple seeing their bad state of health and the martial arts took shape. Interestingly most Indians are unaware of this, but this could be our biggest contribution to the Chinese world. Now well like usual the Inquisitive Mind went in to do some research about Bodhidharma and the truth of the situations, here are the findings.

Bodhidharma was born in Kanchipuram,Tamil Nadu.His original name was Bodhitara.He was born as a prince in pallava dynasty around 440 AD. Some accounts shows that he would’ve been came from Persia , but there was no manuscript evidence to prove it. He was the third child of King Pallava. Being a follower of Buddhism , be was religioussly became a buddisht monk during the 5th/6th century and also credited for zen arts. Hence starting the Zen form of Buddhism. He arrived to china during the Liu Song Dynasty founded by King Liu Yu.

In one legend, Bodhidharma refused to resume teaching until his would-be student, Dazu Huike, who had kept vigil for weeks in the deep snow outside of the monastery, cut off his own left arm to demonstrate sincerity. Shaolin monks and disciples follow a unique practice among Buddhists in that they greet each other using only their right hand.

There is a complete and interesting history and life of Bodhidharma put together at this link which will give more insights and a very fairy tale or storybook type line to Bodhidharma’s life. Interested people should check it out.

The movie however just touches on some highlights of his life, as well as tries to bring into the future the personality of Bodhidharma in the quest of relevance. Although the song and dance, provide the indian movie factor, the movie all in all does a fair job at keeping you interested in the plotline although it is a fairly anticipated ending. The movie also boldly enters into territories of Genetic Memory and such to provide some scientific touch in the movie, the interfaces on the computers etc provide some geek eye candy with Sruthi Hasan providing just the Eye candy.

The first section of the film detailing Bodhidharma’s exploits in China is definitely the best part of the film. There is very little dialogue and Surya makes the most of his very expressive eyes to convey the various trials Bodhidharma has to undergo. While copious amounts of research appear to have gone into the making of the film, in this section it has paid off and it makes for a strong opening. Sadly though this isn’t maintained. The story has a lot of potential as it mixes science fiction with a disaster movie theme and a dash of Indian masala romance but it doesn’t quite gel. The most overused part of the movie however is Hypnosis, and I am not too sure about it. Does make for an interesting movie plot though, oh enough with the spoilers, I can see some of you already not wanting to read the rest.

In my suggestion if you have not seen the movie, you probably should. If not for the movie itself, but for the attempt of the indian movie industry to move forward than just, boy meets girl fends off the world to get married. South Indian movies, especially Tamil and Telugu movies seem to provide the audience the mental stimulation along with entertainment, unlike a Akshay Kumar starred no brainer. Dashavataram (10 avatars) was another such attempt toying with the idea of Chaos Theory and such, but very badly executed. However, 7am arivu provides enough mental fodder for even the most critical cinema buffs.

Wordless Thursday – Angry Birds Addiction

Angry Birds might be the greatest Mobile game ever created. The craze of the game just keeps increasing, people in the office seem to start playing it in long boring meetings as well. Oh the game and oh the addiction. So much so that someone thought it would be a good idea to make an infographic on the game and its addiction. Check out some really interesting statistics of the game, a “Birds” eye view perhaps.

The producers of the game are growing richer and the users more addicted. I installed the free version on my Android and say what, I could not put down the phone for sometime. Now well nearly though the game, I am kinda over the addiction. However, the Game is still entertaining when Blocks or paper toss does not compel me.

India Independence Day, celebrate cos it matters

“At midnight when the world sleeps, India will awake.“ The words of the first Prime Minister of India echo this Independence Day all over Facebook, a lot of my friends are showing their “patriotism” on Facebook by putting status messages of wishes. Then there are those who are insulting the neighbours of India as a “patriotic gesture” and the last kind are the ones with loads of speculation and negativity about the current state of affairs in the country making them quite angry and negative about the Independence Day. But really what is the right sentiment ? Has the Independence Day lost relevance in this day and age ? I try to answer some of these questions this time for the Independence Day.

An elderly person who I spoke to in India during my visit last week, was asking me about Facebook and I showed him. He was quite happy about what you could achieve and how you could communicate on Facebook and how the world is becoming a more connected place after social networks. Then he saw some negative status messages on Facebook about our Independence Day, from the younger generation. He was saddened.

He recalls with me his teenage days when India had just received Independence, and the days he celebrated his first few Independence Day’s. From being orphaned to losing an elder brother in the fight for Independence, he mentions how Gandhi was able to ensure that many more people were able to enjoy the Independence from the British, than through Violent methods.

He talks about when his mother used to complain about the fact that we would pay unreasonable amounts of tax to the British in their conquest to plunder our nation more and more. In the end he was glad that he got to see the country free from the British in his lifetime.

As he was speaking to me about the Independence Day, it dawned upon me that most people look at the Independence Day to be a Holiday these days, sit on their laptops at home and typing negative sentiments on their Facebook statuses, talking about the India today.

 Today is not about the present, it is about the triumph of a David over a Goliath. It was the riddance of tyranny of the British, by the timid Indians. It is a day to celebrate the success of many years and countless sacrifices of the countrymen towards driving the British out of India. Not a day to be angry about, but a day to feel proud and grateful for all the sacrifices made by the freedom fighters, who these days are not even enquired about. It is unbelievable that at a time of no internet, Mobile Phones, telephones, emails, twitter and other communication medium as well as a planning resource such as the Internet, the Freedom fighters were able to coordinate strikes on the governance of the British.

 Independence day is as significant as it was on the day we got our independence. Just because time has passed does not mean that the relevance of the lives lost and the sacrifices made are reduced. Nor should they be marred by the in competence of the current politicians. The discussion on Independence Day should revolve thanking our freedom fighters for their dedication and commitment, and not pointing out the mistakes of the country.

 Would you not feel bad, if rather than wishing you Happy Birthday, your Parents or siblings just mentioned the bad marks you scored Or the fact that you lost in a race in school or some other competitive analysis about you, you would certainly feel disappointed and sad. So if that being the case, why are we still doing it to our country.  This Independence Day, let us celebrate the Independence Day correctly, let us all be happy for and wish the country Happy Birthday 64th time. We have the remaining 264 days to question the government and its workings. With that note, I wish you all a very Happy Independence Day.

Wordless Thursday – Revolution in every generation

My life is constantly changing and evolving, especially in how we lead our day to day. I would love to go behind the scenes to research upcoming technologies but cant. However. it’s always a pleasant surprise when big new things come out.

This infographic highlights big inventions that impact our lifestyles greatly. It does a good job of getting lots of cool info into one piece. I must say however I’d like to see more of the ‘graphic’ section of infographic. There’s definitely some cool statistics and charts that could be thrown in with all these great ideas. A cool fact you may not catch a first glance: 2.8 million e-mails are sent every second!

What is Bit coin and why you should bother ? – an Inquisitive Guide

Unlike most people, I had not really heard about the Bitcoin used at large. However, now that I think about it, I think I might have come across the BITCOIN phrase in passing when looking through the internet for some cracks, yes I did search and no I did not find what I was looking for. Getting back to the whole topic of Bitcoins. A couple of weeks back a friend Megha, posted the information about the BitCoins on facebook, and I have been reading about it from then, to get a good idea about BitCoins. Here is what I have found out, simplified for all.

Like everything on the internet, from the internet itself, this is revolutionary. It is a new form of currency, completely online and something that all of us can use. This post is an indepth guide to the Bit Coin and what you can and cannot do with it. Like everything on the internet, there is a major real difficulty among all people to accept it, there are discussions on the god and the bad of the BitCoin all over the internet at this time. So I will not divulge into that for now.

What is BitCoin ?

BitCoin is a new currency – it wants to shake the entire global economy. And some people think it might! It’s online money—an alternative to dollars and euros. Well what’s that mean? It’s complicated, but I will break it down over the next few posts. Yes, there are some simple infographics that help in making it easier to understand, I will add them here below. I will however tell you there is one part which is not so clear and that is how the coins are generated.

Bitcoin is underwritten not by a government, but by a clever cryptographic scheme. For now, little can be bought with bitcoins, and the new currency is still a long way from competing with the dollar.

Again, BitCoin is Digital ..

BitCoin is not real money. It’s an online “currency”—virtual tokens that can be exchanged for goods and services at places that accept it. The list of which is fast growing.

In 2008, a programmer known as Satoshi Nakamoto posted a paper outlining Bitcoin’s design to a cryptography e-mail list. Then, in early 2009, he (or she) released software that can be used to exchange bitcoins using the scheme. That software is now maintained by a volunteer open-source community coordinated by four core developers. Like real money, It does have a market where its value against some real world currencies are mapped against, check it out here http://www.bitcoinwatch.com/, while writing this post the value of a BitCoin was nearly $14.

The programmer Satoshi wanted people to be able to exchange money electronically securely without the need for a third party, such as a bank or a company like PayPal. He based Bitcoin on cryptographic techniques that allow you to be sure the money you receive is genuine, even if you don’t trust the sender.

If you look at the first video above, its from the four core developers and they are thinking big, they are looking at BirCoin as a way to revolutionalize finance, just as how the internet revolutionized publishing.

How do I start. I.e the Basics

Once you download and run the Bitcoin client software, it connects over the Internet to the decentralized network of all Bitcoin users and also generates a pair of unique, mathematically linked keys, which you’ll need to exchange bitcoins with any other client. One key is private and kept hidden on your computer. The other is public and a version of it dubbed a Bitcoin address is given to other people so they can send you bitcoins.

Crucially, it is practically impossible—even with the most powerful supercomputer—to work out someone’s private key from their public key. This prevents anyone from impersonating you. Your public and private keys are stored in a file that can be transferred to another computer, for example if you upgrade.

A Bitcoin address looks something like this: 1H4NSNzoP7eoYnL69HCvehVTZBPJoyMzK9. You can transfer a donation to me on the attached BitCoin Address. YOu can also go to some online stores where you can use these BitCoins to buy real world goods.

Transactions with BitCoins and how they occur

When you perform a transaction, your Bitcoin software performs a mathematical operation to combine the other party’s public key and your own private key with the amount of bitcoins that you want to transfer. The result of that operation is then sent out across the distributed Bitcoin network so the transaction can be verified by Bitcoin software clients not involved in the transfer. [ This is important as this is the step where the internet and BitCoin software clients perform the function of banks where they confirm the person is you, such that your current value of Bit Coins is calculated and the balance given back to you]

Those clients make two checks on a transaction. One uses the public key to confirm that the true owner of the pair sent the money, by exploiting the mathematical relationship between a person’s public and private keys; the second refers to a public transaction log stored on the computer of every Bitcoin user to confirm that the person has the bitcoins to spend.

When a client verifies a transaction, it forwards the details to others in the network to check for themselves. In this way a transaction quickly reaches and is verified by every Bitcoin client that is online. Some of those clients – “miners” – also try to add the new transfer to the public transaction log, by racing to solve a cryptographic puzzle. Once one of them wins the updated log is passed throughout the Bitcoin network. When your software receives the updated log it knows your payment was successful. It takes a bit longer than banks in this step as the cryptographic puzzle that they solve is also part of the BitCoin universe, more on that later.

The nature of the mathematics ensures that it is computationally easy to verify a transaction but practically impossible to generate fake transactions and spend bitcoins you don’t own. The existence of a public log of all transactions also provides a deterrent to money laundering. The global public transaction register is a register that keeps track of the history of every single Bitcoin through that log, from its creation through every transaction. Yes there is a bit of a problem here.

Identity, since every BitCoin is tracked it would be possible to know how much money each person has in the system and who is performing transactions. I dont really think its a problem, In fact its better. Considering whats happening in India these days with corruption and black money, there will be none. Everyone will have as much money as they are worthy of, so this is really a blessing in disguise. However unlike the real world, it might be an issue to some, as very rich people can be targeted for crimes like kidnapping, extorsion etc. But hey, at least we can keep our blood sucking politicians at bay.

How are these coins created and how can you obtain bitcoins? 

Bitcoins are “mined”. When you set your Bitcoin client to a mode that has it compete to update the public log of transactions. All the clients set to this mode race to solve a cryptographic puzzle by completing the next “block” of the shared transaction log. Winning the race to complete the next block wins you a 50-Bitcoin prize. This feature exists as a way to distribute bitcoins in the currency’s early years. Eventually, new coins will not be issued this way; instead, mining will be rewarded with a small fee taken from some of the value of a verified transaction.

Mining is very computationally intensive, to the point that any computer without a powerful graphics card is unlikely to mine any bitcoins in less than a few years.

Other ways of obtaining BitCoins are exchanges like Mt. Gox, which provide a place for people to trade bitcoins for other types of currency. Some enthusiasts have also started doing work, such as designing websites, in exchange for bitcoins. This jobs board advertises contract work paying in bitcoins.

Money is made to spend right ? So, Where can I spend these coins ?

There aren’t a lot of places right now. Some Bitcoin enthusiasts with their own businesses have made it possible to swap bitcoins for teabooks, or Web design (see a comprehensive list here). But no major retailers accept the new currency yet.

My thoughts

The BitCoin is in its infancy, however it has corrected some of the loopholes that current fixed currencies have. However, at the end of the day this is the first of its kind in this space. However, like most software and services on the Internet (which is what I look at it now) it will evolve, and might come up with a new variation of this concept and that will be the one to look out for.

Current world currencies do not have to be threatened by this new currency. As financial masters and grand masters analyze and dissect this form of the currency they will point out some of its flaws and what will come out of it is a clean workable currency format that all of us can eventually use. For the time being it is a nice to know fact that there is an alternate currency that is not government controlled and neither bank influenced. This might just be the spark for the actual online currency to come into being. Lets hope it does.

Some Resources

BitCoin and What is it: http://weusecoins.com
BitCoin home page: http://www.bitcoin.org
Bitcoin Trade: http://www.bitcoin.org/trade
BitCoin Economy Watch: http://www.bitcoinwatch.com
Bitcoin Exchange: https://www.mtgox.com
Bitcoin escrow service: https://clearcoin.appspot.com
Bitcoin e-commerce platform: https://www.mybitcoin.com
Fun with bitcoin http://witcoin.com – the bitcoin q and a .

Inquisitive Interviews : Altaf Jasnaik – Corporate Brand and Learning Manager

Inquisitive Interviews is back this week with an interesting profession of sorts. This week I introduce you Altaf Jasnaik, who interestingly has two titles on his business card, one being Learning and Development manager and another Corporate Brand Manager. People all the time tend to write good at multi-tasking on their resume to make it look impressive, I guess there will be no guesses about the multi tasking capabilities of Altaf. Altaf in his interview decided to give weightage to the one profile of his work that really his mind is at, the brand management perspective. Although we have had a brand manager before, this interview gives an insight into what working with a multi national organization in the capacity he is in, would be like.

For the uninitiated, 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…? 

Hello, I’m Altaf Jasnaik. An Indian by origin, born and brought up in the UAE, I have lived most of my life outside India, with episodes of my life spent in the UK and parts of Europe due to work and education related travel.

An engineering student with an aptitude for design, it didn’t take me long to realize I was not cut for running machines or operations. Just not something I was good at. So I moved into the design and management side of technology and engineering organizations. After a masters in business and working for a couple of years in the UK, I returned to Dubai where I worked with a chain of Multi-National companies managing marketing, branding and innovation roles. After working with technology companies like JVC, Panasonic, Grundfos and now Sharp, over the past decade I have learnt that it is almost always not who you worked for, but what you did with the opportunities that came your way.

Good things don’t happen to good people. If you’re good, you will get stamped on. If you’re smart, you will be able to turn things around and make the most of any situation. Just remember to think on your feet and at least one step ahead. You see I hold two titles 1st “Corporate Brand Manager” and then “Learning and Development Manager”. Perhaps you have room only for one title so we can call it as “Corporate Brand and Learning Manager” for Sharp’s MEA operations.

[Q] Is the job what you expected it to be ? And is the compensation good enough ? 

Yes. I have been a brand ambassador for the brands I have worked for and have been managing Brand portfolios for MNCs in the region. It gives me an opportunity to leverage my engineering background along with the exposure to marketing for helping organizations run their marketing operations regionally and globally. To top it, my carefully crafted career path has always made room for me to follow my passion for innovation. Either directly involved with Innovation Platforms or towards discovery of new products and technologies.

If you’re doing what you love and the money is good, it can make you complacent. So if you’re in it for the money, look for a sales job.

[Q] What is your average day like at work? If possible a recent project or work that excited you enough as part of your job? 

As the custodian of a brand, work isn’t limited to the office floor. You try to share the story of the brand you represent at every step. But an average day would mean you’re in and out of meetings, mostly high-energy status-checks on the numerous projects going around the huge territory we look after. Since work isn’t life, I try to make room for myself with a fitness routine after sunrise, followed by a flexibly drafted day full of time to be with family before and after work. There isn’t a set formula, but the trick is in the balance you can conduct your days with.

I think there are several but maybe a good example would be one that reflects what working in a global MNC environment could be like. Sharp decided to participate at the region’s foremost Info. Tech show, GITEX. At the show Sharp wanted to create a big bang using its technologies and the product that was zeroed in on was a 60 inch 5.5 mm slim bezel (meaning the rectangular frame around the screen) LCD display monitor with LED backlight. A typical innovation which changes the game of professional display technology, but yet an ‘unsexy’, ‘how-will-it-change-my-average-middle-class-life’ product with little appeal to any normal exhibition visitor. So the challenge was to promote the product using impressive content and using the sheer size of the product.

So we decided to make the world’s largest 360 inch LCD video-wall at GITEX which would make it the largest ever single screen LCD display. While that first looked like a challenge in terms of the technical integration, it turned out to be an even bigger challenge in terms of content. “What do you show on such a large LCD?”. Faced with this challenge, a colleague and I were handed the responsibility of putting this show together. Using the vast network of professionals Sharp has globally, we collected relevant experiences and ideas from everyone in Sharp’s global network. We travelled to exhibitions in the Far East, Europe and America to understand how best to make this show a success.

Since it was the first time any Sharp company was doing this, we found that colleagues all over the world were excited to see what we would come up with. What began as a local challenge became a global case study for Sharp with all eyes on what we would create. After several hundred hours spent toying with concepts, we decided to go for the record braking LCD  screen size and also make specially designed video content that we could use and that could be shared globally. Once this was set in stone, we saw a sudden influx of more ideas and funds from all over the organization to support our mission.

What followed was some of the roughest creative surfing I have ever been involved in the uncharted-waters of ‘creating-globalized-content’. As we discovered it was not a piece of cake, and to think of suiting the needs of a global audience is not easy business. Anyhow, after several weeks of working with some of the best and most creative people from across the world, we came up with the final exhibition format, that included the 360 Inches LCD display and the video content that we fondly remember as DMAT – “Don’t Miss A thing”. Why DMAT, if you ask, well with a bezel so slim, unlike other video-walls, Sharp’s cutting edge LCD technology can create an almost seamless viewing experience for any type of application in any diversified environment.

Not all the work one does in a regional office is meant to take this course. Often you are left with the responsibilities of customizing global content locally, but this was the perfect example of taking local content global. A year into the project, and after replica shows in the US, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and all over Asia, DMAT has become a phenomenon of taking ideas from creative members of an international team seriously. Sharp HQ has more faith in our abilities and all of Sharp’s subsidiaries look forward to the next most creative exhibition solution that Sharp Middle East and Africa will come up with.

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

Frankly no. It is but a step or two short of where I want to be in life, at the forefront of an innovation team that is able to churn out one innovation after another. My aim is to use my marketing and branding background to be able to understand customer needs better. Then translate these needs into innovation platforms, which use company resources to develop real and meaningful innovations that change the way people live their lives. Call it a long shot, but this is where I aim to be. It took me 10 years to get here and I am giving myself another 5 to be in the role I wish to be at.

If my formula of taking every chance life throws at me works, I will continue to move spirally in my career to reach this place I want to be. If it isn’t meant to be, I will retire at 40 and take up teaching and consultation so that I can pursue a business model I have in mind for promoting innovation globally.

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

The customer interaction, understanding their needs and translating them into products. Yes I do get bored. Sometimes things are too routine. But then right around the corner is a new challenge.

[Q]  What’s the most challenging part of your job? And whats the part you don’t like ?

If the word challenging were to be stripped of any negative connotations related that spell “problem”, the most challenging part of my job as the facilitator of learning and development is creating and sustaining an environment of mutual sharing that is based on long-term thinking. It is a challenge, and one that is related to people and their personalities. But this is exactly what I love doing, so I continue playing this duel.

The part that I don’t like is that, It involves a lot of travel. The worst has been over 150 days a year.

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

Yes. Very little. I have the freedom to chart my days and plan my activities.

[Q] Whats your Alumni ? Where have you studied ? 

School : Sharjah Indian School, Sharjah, UAE

Pre University : Wilson College, Mumbai, UAE

Bachelors Degree: D.Y.Patil College, India

Masters Degree : University of Bedforshire, Luton, UK

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

Yes, the basic math, logic and language skills learnt from school are what you use for 90 % of the time. So kids in school, pay attention. The remaining 10 % of the time, you are the expert that you are. Someone who knows how to use the skills at the right time, to the right degree to make the crucial operational bits work. These skills are gathered and sharpened over time.

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

Yes, if you love people-and-technology interactions and travelling to far-distant places. No, if you want to make tons of money.

[Q] What advice would you give to someone trying to get into the industry? And what do they need to watch out for ? 

Spend some time and effort understanding what you are good at first. Don’t join the band wagon, but don’t jump the boat. Know your strengths and then take some chances.

[Q] Anything else you want to tell the readers? 

Stay humbled, not grounded. Skip dinners, not breakfast. First learn to compete with yourself, if you can overcome your shortcomings you won’t need to compete with anyone else.

[Q] Any online resources you recommend for people taking up this profession? In terms of General reading as well as Job Searches? 

The entire WWW (worldwideweb)

You can get in touch with Altaf at these links below :

http://www.facebook.com/altaf.jasnaik

http://ae.linkedin.com/in/discoveraltafjasnaik

 A hearty thanks to Altaf for a wonder insight into what goes on with a corporate Brand and Learning Manager. I hope you guys enjoyed this interview as much as I enjoyed presenting it to you, until next time Be Inquisitive.

Let us help – NGO Awareness – Part 1

Through the years NGO’s (Non Government Organizations) have come forward to fill the gap which the government in India has been unable to fill in. While talking to Sowmya on her interview (which you can read here) I realized that the number of NGO’s that are trying to work on issues related to India are quite a few, and they talk to research analysts like Sowmya to help them do the right thing. But there are those who have already spent a lot of time in trying to help various segments in India, like the poor, the old or just children. Working with profit or non-profit these people definitely deserve a mention in their role in the society in India.

I am sure there are a lot of actions we can take to help them add to it the rise of  Social Entrepreneurship means that more organizations, individuals and young entrepreneurs are willing to work with the forgotten of society to not only work towards making a profit but doing it though helping a lot of these segments. To be able to do our part we would like to organize a few events (non Profit) to be able to help out someone in need. Along with getting to that part, it is also required that we are all aware of the NGO’s that are available in India where we can help. So I have decided to start of a series where we will introduce a group of NGO’s once or twice a month to be able to provide some help as well.

For the first edition I would like to introduce these three NGO’s

Green Coalition Network

Website |   Twitter |   Facebook |

Activity: Green Coalition Network is an independent non-governmental environmental advocacy organization that was informally founded in the year 2000. Green Coalition is dedicated to improving public health standards, protecting the environment and promoting sustainable development & ethical business. We provide practical eco-friendly solutions that integrate long-term economic prosperity and sound social development, thereby bringing about real positive change. We implement this by influencing public opinion, building constructive partnerships with industry and the government and promoting community and corporate programs focused on youth & public participation.

Support: environmental awareness, environmental education, environmental advocacy, public health, fair trade, sustainable development, Third Sector Consulting

Note: We want more active volunteers and members. You can also have a look at our current requirements at the page below http://www.greencoalition.net/volunteer.html


Rang De

Website | Twitter | Facebook |

Activity: Rang De is a pioneering web-based social initiative with a mission to provide cost-effective microcredit to low income households in India. Through an online platform (www.RangDe.Org), Rang De enables people to participate in microcredit by lending as little as Rs. 100. Rang De has reached out to over 5900 entrepreneurs across 12 states by lending Rs. 31mn. Rang De currently funds business, education, and artisan loans. Rang De is a registered non-profit trust.

Details: You might want to read through our FAQs for a comprehensive understanding of Rang De – http://rangde.org/faq.htm

Support: Microcredit, Peer-to-peer lending, individual social responsibility, online lending, philanthropy

Note: – More Corporates to participate in our corporate connects program (one time donation which will be rotated as social investments).

  • More people to blog about Rang De and on the Rang De blog also.
  • Social media advisors to help us on how to take our social media strategy forward
  • Java/JSP Developers who are interested in working for Rang De full time for at least a year.
  • Funding for our operations.

Help A Child to Study

Website | TwitterFacebook |

Activity: Help A Child to Study sponsors the higher education of meritorious underprivileged students, supporting them to achieve dreams of a better future. We sponsor all formal courses above 10th, including 11th and 12th, diploma courses, degree courses, B.E., M.B.B.S. and Postgrad. Through education our students are able to escape the cycle of poverty through their own talents.

Details: We are very proud of our students – who are the children of labourers, small scale farmers, weavers and other families with low incomes. These students have enormous potential to succeed and only need financial support to do so. We are thrilled that today some of our graduates are placed with large companies such as Mahindra Tech, L&T, and TATA Consultancy Services.

Support: Education, higher education, sponsorship of students.

Note: We are looking for financial donations to support the higher education of our students, most of whom live in rural areas of Maharashtra and Karnataka.


This post is a part of BlogAdda’s Bloggers Social Responsibility (BSR) initiative. I am exercising my BSR. You can too by spreading the news of these NGO’s and Support. Its the least you can do if not donate money.

Three Awesome Google Logos that Distracted the World

This is a guest post by Nadia Jones who blogs at online college about education, college, student, teacher, money saving, movie related topics. You can reach her at nadia.jones5 @ gmail.com. If you would like to contribute an article to the Inquisitive Mind, please get in touch at the contact page. I will be more than happy to add in the relevant post on the blog.

In today’s society, life is about speed and productivity. With the evolution of new technologies and the internet, we expect instant gratification for any query we might stumble upon. While things in internet-land are constantly moving and changing, one site and enterprise that has remained ever steady is Google. Google is like the god of the internet. It seems as though they can do nothing wrong. With a beautiful search engine, great emailing capabilities, and even a very useful browser, Google has perfected the art of speed and productivity. While Google has certainly made our lives run a lot more smoothly in many ways, it has also caused an internet traffic jam on more than one occasion. The Google logo is one of the most recognized logos throughout the world. Since 1998, Google has been doing Google Doodles with the highly recognized logo. These three Google Doodles are believed to have cost the world a significant amount of money for the time wasted by internet users (awesome).

Les Paul Google Doodle

1. Les Paul Logo: On June 9th 2011, Google celebrated the 96th birthday of Les Paul by displaying an interactive electric guitar doodle as the logo. The doodle is one of the only Google Doodles that is interactive. This logo was displayed worldwide and was a huge hit in the United States. Users could hold their cursers over the strings of the doodle to strum the guitar. You could also activate the keyboard to strum the guitar. In the United States, users could record their strumming for thirty seconds and then a URL is created for your recording. This Google Doodle is possibly one of the coolest yet. With users around the world creating tunes on their browsers, there are rumors that the Les Paul logo alone cost the U.S. millions of dollars in productivity for the two days that it was displayed.

Pacman Google Doodle

2. Pac-Man Logo: On May 21st 2010, Google celebrated the 30th anniversary of the arcade game Pac-Man by displaying an interactive logo of the game itself. This was the first interactive logo that Google had ever unveiled and was a huge success worldwide. Anyone who visited the site could play Pac-Man on the logo. The logo mimicked the exact features of the original game with ghosts, dots, and all of the classic sounds. Visitors could play Ms. Pac-Man as well by pressing the “Insert Coin” button twice. In this instance, two Pac-Man games show on the screen, allowing two people to play at once. The Pac-Man logo was one of the most popular Google tricks and now has an entire site dedicated to it (linked above).

3. Jules Verne’s 183rd Birthday Logo: On February 8th 2011, Google celebrated the birthday of French author Jules Gabriel Verne. Verne pioneered the genre of science-fiction and is best known for novels such as Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and A Journey to the Center of the Earth. Google changed their logo to an interactive submarine exploration. The word “Google” was spelled out to look like the windows of a submarine. The user can control the submarine by moving a lever up and down or right and left. See tropical fish, deep sea divers, sharks, and monsters on your exploration. As a beautiful tribute to a fantastic writer, Google’s imagination shines as much as Verne’s.

 

Wordless Thursday – India Corruption Economy

This definitely is a proud pleasure to present India’s first info graphic. Although I think that the info graphic is a little bad on design but its a start nevertheless. It manages to put together a set of what seems like excel graphs that are maybe undercooked design wise, but are great in terms of the data that is held in it.

This infographic draws our attention to all the money that we Indian’s are loosing to the greed of fellow Indian politicians. I think its about time we retweet this over and over to get into a position where we get the politicians learn about the awareness that is slowly creeping into the minds of the Indian people. An approximate 6.9% of the income from each and every person goes into someone else’s pocket due to a scam. Indian Corruption Economy for sure.