Namma Metro – A geek train for a high tech city

Bangalore was the Garden City of India and IS the Silicon valley of India now. Yes, there will be some debate over this statement, but Bangalore is and always will be for me the IT hub or IT Capital of India. So when a new Metro started operation in the city it had to keep up with that image. Having used the Metro in Dubai, I was not very impressed with having the Metro manned with a driver, as opposed to the metro in Dubai which is completely automatic. But thinking as a project Manager I realized that the Capex of introducing an unmanned system was far greater than having the Opex of a Manned system, and in India there is no shortage of labor or rather inexpensive labor so it made sense.

So without having a train that was automatic, it would have to be impressive in terms of technology for me to be able to be impressed with it. On my last trip to India, I did go and see the train in Bangalore, the coach placed at MG Road was a non working display sample but still did not fail to impress. I did a bit of research on the technology used on Namma Metro and I was pleasantly surprised. Here are some things I found out :

The track system

The Bangalore Metro is standard gauge, a system used by most metros worldwide. Narrower than the broad gauge, it allows for greater manoeuvrability, easy ride along curves, laying of tracks even on narrow stretches and control. The standard gauge has a track width of 4ft, 8.5inches, or 1,435mm, while the Indian broad gauge is 5ft, 6inches, or 1,676mm.

Bangalore Metro runs on the ballastless track system used by 70% of the world’s metros. In layman’s language, this means the track does not require stones used on traditional broad gauge track systems to build the track and run the train, as the load is lower than that of a conventional train. The tracks are laid on a concrete slab after assessing the engineering factors. Stones on the conventional track help in balanced construction, while in metro systems concrete slabs are enough.

The Rolling Stock (Coaches)

The rolling stock (coaches/cars) are three stainless steel-bodied wagons. The train will be under the driver’s control, but they are equipped with some Automatic Controls to assist the driver. The seating capacity per train is approximately 1,000, giving more floor area to standing passengers.


The coaches are manufactured by Hyundai Rotem Korea and Mitsubishi Electric Company. BEML has the licence to manufacture the coaches in Bangalore. While Mitsubishi supplied the traction for the coaches, Hyundai Rotem supplied the rolling stock and BEML the coaches.

Power in Third Rail

Electricity for the train will run on a third rail next to the main track. It has an opening at the bottom at certain points from where the train draws its power. The third rail is covered with a yellow shroud, and a person falling on the track won’t be electrocuted. ABB designed, supplied, installed and commissioned four substations to receive and distribute electricity at 66/33 kV, as well as auxiliary and traction substations. ABB will also provide an integrated network management, or SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) system to monitor and control the installations.

Consumer tech in the Coaches

Apart from the technology of the trains themselves, of course something that will not be very visible the trains feature a host of features that are visible and form an important part of the coaches. Guess here are some of the interesting consumer or close to consumer technologies in the metro.

Wi-Fi : Ironically the first thing I am listing is not visible at all, but is increasingly becoming one of the basic requirements especially in a city like Bangalore. Passengers can use their laptops, tablets and the mobile internet to be connected while on transit.

Emergency Voice Comms : Passengers will have emergency voice communication with train staff through a speaker system. Passengers can press a call button to communicate anything urgent to the driver or control centre. Help will be at hand at the next station. The integrated control centre will have direct communication with trains and stations which will be CCTV-fitted with visual and audio service information.

Collision Detection : Bangalore Metro also has automatic train supervision, protection and operation systems — if there’s a train on the same track ahead, the approaching train will sense it and come to a halt at a safe distance.

CCTV Monitoring : Cameras will be installed inside the train as well as stations, and people’s movements will be monitored by an operations control centre at Byappanahalli. In case of any help or emergency, the control room will be able to see what went wrong.

Ticketing : Ticketing, too, is completely automated with just a swipe of the ticket, token or card at a particular point near the entry and exit, enabling the gates to open and close. Recharge of metro cards through mobiles and SMS, a first in the world. What I am waiting for Google India to introduce the features of Google Wallet into the Metro, it will be really interesting. Are you listening Google?

Food waste in India the extremes – Blog Action Day

Today is blog action day, and world over thousands of bloggers like myself (although I dont think I am a serious blogger yet) are talking about a common issue. Since 2007, Blog Action Day has focused bloggers around the world to blog about one important global topic on the same day. Past topics have included water, climate change and poverty. This year, Blog Action Day will be held on October 16, which coincides with World Food Day, so naturally our 2011 theme is FOOD.

Here is a video put together by One.org on the issue of Famine and Food. As visible this campaign requires attention from all of us, from the celebrities to the nobodies.

FOOD is something we need to talk about in the near future, as more people are moving away from agriculture to cities in search of lucrative job options, the food crisis is going to get worse. And the situation is not any different in India. India is a country of extremes, there are cities where there are people starving and on the other we have lavish weddings where food is wasted, along with the aping spanish festival of la Tomatina. The worse of these is definitely the rotting of food in the warehouses of the government where food is stored for transportation.

A 2007 estimate from the ministry of food processing says a whopping Rs 58,000 crore (Rs 580 billion) worth of agriculture food items get wasted in the country every year. Private consulting firm Rabo India Finance had prepared the food wastage report and presented it to the ministry. Quoting from the report, Minister of State for Food Processing then, Subodh Kant Sahai told the Parliament that the fact that such a huge quantity of food items goes as waste in the country is an eye-opener for every Indian.

The report said the food wastage is mainly due to lack of post-harvest infrastructure such as cold chain facilities, transportation and proper storage facilities, etc. He said the loss due to wastages could be reduced by a developed food processing industry, strengthening of the post- harvest infrastructure and filling the gaps in the supply chain. The government, through its schemes for financial assistance for development of food processing industry and other promotional measures, plays a proactive and facilitating role for overall development of food processing sector in the country. Sahai said with huge potential of retail driven demand, many retail giants including foreign companies have shown growing interest in Indian agri and processed food products. But has anything changed ?? Not really.

A latest report (as late as May 2011) on the subject by Macroscan suggests that nearly 40% of the food we produce especially vegetables and fruits are lost in post-harvest losses in India and has been held up as the most compelling reason to permit a flood of investment in the new sector of agricultural logistics, to allow the creation of huge food processing zones, and to link all these to retail food structures in urban markets. The urban orientation of such an approach ignores the integrated and organic farming approach, as it does the evidence that sophistication in food processing has not in the West prevented food loss or waste.

All however is not lost, there are individuals that are helping make a change. Using wasted food from pompous weddings and other places, a firm called BIOTECH has improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in Kerala, Southern India and saved several tonnes of CO2 per year simply by converting waste to bio fuel. They were provided with the prestigious Ashten Award for Sustainability as well.

Their success is all down to their biogas digester. Designed to be easily installed, it comes in different sizes to process not only home waste but also market and municipal waste. Digestion produces biogas which in turn reduces reliance on more expensive and harder to access LPG. BIOTECH has calculated that the average family can pay back the cost of the digester in three years. They also facilitate the government subsidies which may cover part of the installation costs. By 2009 they had installed 16,000 plants in total.

BIOTECH is a burgeoning organisation. It has tripled in size since 2006 and now employs over 140 people with a wider network of installers. It continues to refine and expand the digester model and to spread the word across the country. Unsurprisingly demand is growing. After all, here is a product that works.

Now are we just going to read this post and think about the food problem or are we going to take an action. Action could be anything from sharing this post for people to read to signing a petition with the government to privatize the warehousing of food or even getting one of these Bio Gas converters for yourself. We need to take action some way anyway possible.

 

Bollywood and Social Media – Ra.One

Bollywood’s interest on the internet was so long left to some ads on youtube, trailers and websites for nearly every movie that tried to provide some “interesting” information about movies. Lately we do see some activity on the social web, Facebook Pages and such started by Aamir Khan during Three Idiots, were quite engaging. Aamir himself on his twitter used to post and interact with people for publicity.

What one does, the next Khan seems to take on seriously and try to outdo. Case in Point, Ra.One. In the past few days if you have not seen an Ad for Ra.One on websites that use Google Adsense, then well you might not be a frequent surfer. Because, I have seen the ads everywhere from Gulf news right through to Labnol.org one of the most famous tech and how to blogs from India. Compelled to click on the ad, I did click on it. This is my review of what I found and where I was taken. An insuisitive thought on the social media campaign for Ra.One.

First of all SRK and Google have partnered for the promotion of the movie Ra.One. Although I am not a big fan of SRK, I am of Google and so when they decide to pay attention to a movie in India, it makes things a lot more interesting for tech fans especially Google fans like myself. So well here are what Google is offering SRK and what I think of those.

The Google Ads

Impressive. One word to describe the campaign. They have targeted audience on various age segments and various interest groups. Starting from the teaser ad which spoke about the launch of the YouTube campaign, right through to the various sizes of ads and the sheer number and visibility of the ads, am impressed. They did manage to not only attain my attention, but also got me to click through. I do click ads on blogs that I usually like as a simple token of appreciation of me liking the blog. Although I know nothing like leaving a comment, but if I have nothing to actually comment I do provide a click on the ad. Well the quality of ads is important to click through, and I should say I was impressed.

YouTube Channel 

The ads on Adsense take you to the custom built YouTube page for Ra.One. If you have not been fortunate enough to check it out yet, you should. I was really impressed again with how they have used the personality of SRK to interact with some of the elements that we are used to seeing on the YouTube page. Here is a sneak peek at the YouTube channel with a video available on the channel itself.

Google Plus

Yes we all heard it, SRK will be on Google Plus Hangouts, Hanging out with fans soon as well. He has a new profile on Google Plus after conquering the twitterscape with his twitter profile. You can check out his Google Plus profile here with this link below:

No you cannot add him yet, cos Google and he are working on privacy, but if you do check out the profile you will see very soon that there are spicy bits to the movie progress there.

Website and other profiles

The end of the video on YouTube takes you to the website of Raone, and you will be really surprised to know how much effort they have put in on the online presence for Ra.One. They have actually gone ahead and created a profile on nearly every interesting social network where you can find people on. From the indian ex favorite Orkut, right through Blogger where they are posting some interesting information.

The website first of all was a bit disappointing after all the roads leading it there. It was completely flash driven made for children sort of a website. Could have been better. But there are some interesting new things from other indian movie websites, the shop where you can buy merchandise (again for children) and also a comic as well. I am thinking the movie is more inclined to get the kids into the theaters. There is also an interesting segment which is deconstruct G One and it shows really heavy terminoligy for the gear he is wearing. You should check it out here : . Reminded me of Prashant Nair :)

Coming to the Online profiles, well I am going to list them out here to save you the trip to the website but if you do want to go then the link is : http://www.raonemovie.com.

Youtube : http://www.youtube.com/raonemovie

Google Profiles : https://profiles.google.com/107544518344682087224/

Blogger : http://raonediary.blogspot.com/

Linked in : http://in.linkedin.com/in/raonemovie (really ??)

Orkut : http://www.orkut.co.in/Main#Profile?uid=18156379693003537934 (Wont open in Dubai, Thanks Etisalat)

My Space : http://myspace.com/Ra.OneMovie

Flickr : http://www.flickr.com/photos/raonemovie/

Twitter : http://twitter.com/#!/IAMSRK (SRK’s Own Profile)

And the Grand Daddy of Social Media Marketing

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/Ra.OneMovie

With this new avatar of Movie Marketing, SRK and RA One have taken another leap into the online world, but how successful the campaign will be can only be measured with the success of movies, well soon you could be seeing more of these.

It is the first time that an Indian movie has so thoroughly embraced online advertising and engagement with fans. Couple that with the increase in online distribution of Bollywood movies on Yahoo! and YouTube and it signals that the industry is making a concerted effort to tap into the online market. The entire campaign also shines some light on the fact that Google seems to have a keen interest in India, and everyone knows to be popular in India you need to be associated with Bollywood and Cricket. With Youtube already showing IPL games live streamed across the country this might be Google’s foray into Bollywood.

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.

Let us help – NGO Awareness – Part 2

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.

 

The list of NGO’s last time was inquisitive enough to receive a lot of hits from you folks. So this time around I thought it would be good time to send in the second set of NGO’s list for the sake of NGO action from all of us, maybe eventually we will start our own action plan to help pick one of the NGO’s on the list.

Bhumi

Website  |    |    |

Activity: Bhumi is one of India’s largest independent youth volunteer non-profit organisation. Our volunteers work amongst orphaned and underprivileged children in Chennai, Thiruvallur, Bengaluru and Chandigarh with the aim of providing children with quality education and enable them to become responsible and productive citizens of the future. The efforts of our volunteer force consisting of over 300 students and young professionals under the age of 30 benefit over 2,500 children every year.

Support: Education, Children, Environmental Conservation, Mentorship

Note: Bhumi is an under-30 youth volunteer organisation, and to be able to reach out to more children, we need volunteers who can spend 2 hours every weekend to teach at an orphanage near their residence.


Help A Child to Study

Website | |  |

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.

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.


SAHAI helpline for suicide prevention and emotional distress.

Website | |  |

Activity: Started on 2nd Oct 2002, SAHAI is Bangalore’s telephone helpline for people in emotional distress. Our dedicated, trained volunteer counsellors are available to answer your calls between 10.00 a.m. & 6.00 p.m., from Monday through to Saturday.

All calls are confidential and privacy is assured.

Whether it is facing problems with your family, in school, at work or with your friends,Sahai Counsellors will give you their undivided attention and will guide you. And, when you’re ready, SAHAI will help you find a long-term solution to your problems, through telephone counselling.Sahai volunteers will help and equip you with the skills,needed to cope with distressing situations of life like loss, failure, broken relationships or the ever-increasing demands of today’s fast-paced life.

SAHAI volunteers are homemakers, professionals and college students – people from all walks of life who are committed to saving lives. SAHAI volunteers undergo 30 hours of suicide prevention training conducted by professionals from NIMHANS and the Medico Pastoral Association, along with Rotary Bangalore East, three of the help line’s founding partners.

Volunteers are trained to help each caller ventilate, to respond without judging, and to guide the caller to address their problem. Volunteers learn how to listen pro-actively, and to recognize and assess signs of stress and depression.

Support: Suicide prevention and emotional distress telephone helpline.

Note: Public awareness, more volunteers and funds to raise awareness.


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.

A step by step guide to first financial plan

A financial help guest post again this week from our regular guest blogger Mr. Ramalingam; The author is Ramalingam K, an MBA (Finance) and Certified Financial Planner. He is the Founder and Director of Holistic Investment Planners (www.holisticinvestment.in) a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at ramalingam@holisticinvestment.in.

If you would like to contribute to ‘Inquisitive Minds’ with your article you can get in touch with us and we will provide you with the relevant guidelines for the same. Please send in your email to me [at] melvinpereira.com.

A step by step guide to first financial plan

Prabu was a college student till yesterday. Today he has got a job. He has changed his costume from T-shirt and jeans to a formal wear with a tie. When he got his first pay cheque, his father advised him to save, his girl friend asked him to take her out on a date, and his friends wanted a party. Prabu was totally confused what to do with his first salary. What are all his actual priorities? Let us help him by laying out a step by step initial financial plan for him.

Get a PAN Card:

PAN Card is an ID card issued by income tax department.  This card is useful in filing your Income Tax returns. Apart from this, the PAN card is very much useful in opening a bank a\c, demat a\c, investing in mutual funds and the like. The required documents for getting a PAN card is a passport size photo, address proof and an identification proof. You need to apply with either UTI or NSDL. They are the two approved agencies by income tax department for issuing PAN card.

Personal Accident and Disability Insurance:

Almost every day you can find a news column about road accident. It may be your colleague, your distant relative, your neighbour, your friend, your classmate. The stories of such incidents give us a reminder that the accidents can happen to anyone. The impact of these accidents on ones working life could be huge. Some accidents could reduce our employability temporarily or permanently. Personal accident and disability insurance policies will cover the financial losses arising out of accident and disability.

You need to decide the coverage amount of this policy based on the estimated loss you may suffer because of accident. That is how much loss you may incur from employment temporarily or permanently because of the accident. This will cost you approximately Rs.1500 p.a for a coverage of Rs.10 lakhs.

Health Insurance:

Most people don’t think about health insurance very often.  But it comes to mind first when a loved one is sick.  Under health insurance, the insurance company pays the medical bills if the insured person becomes sick and hospitalized. Health insurance can protect a family from financial damage in case of severe and serious illness.

If you have a health insurance from your employer, that may not be sufficient. Employer may cover the employee and not his family members. And moreover these policies are not portable and cannot be individualized if you leave the job. Employer provided policies cannot be transferred to another employer in case you switch your job. Also employer provided policies will give you coverage as long as you are employed. Once you retire you may not be having coverage. It is really unfortunate that only after your retirement you need health insurance at the most. If you plan to take a fresh policy after retirement, insurance company will not cover the pre-existing diseases at that point in time. Though your employer provides a health insurance policy it is better for you to take a separate health insurance policy at least with a small amount of coverage.

The coverage amount of the health insurance policy need to be decided based on your health consciousness, your family health history, and the class of hospital you choose for treatments.

Term Insurance:

Generally as a beginner, there will not be any requirement for any life insurance. But if your parents are financially depending on you, then you need to cover yourself with life insurance. As a breadwinner, today you are there for your family to provide a lifestyle. In case of any mishappening to you, your family members should not compromise on their lifestyle. That is why it is advisable to cover yourself with life insurance if you have dependents.

But don’t fall prey for ulips. Go for a pure term insurance policy. These policies give you a high coverage with low premium. The premium for a sum assured of Rs.10 lakhs will cost a 25 year old only Rs.2500 p.a. approximately.

Emergency Reserve:

Once you have completed the above obligations, you need to build an emergency reserve or contingency fund. One aspect of financial planning involves planning for situations where there could be a temporary break in one’s professional income. This could happen, amongst other reasons, due to ill health or could even be self opted. Such planning requires creation of contingency fund. The size of a contingency fund is linked to one’s estimate of what could be the maximum duration of such a break. For instance some people plan for the possibility of a 3 months break, others for 6 months.

This emergency fund gives a psychological security to you. In case you need to quit you r present job and need to search a new one, you can do that comfortably and confidently as you have an emergency fund for the intermediate period. You need not panic. If you have created a contingency fund, in the event of any emergency you need not pre-close your other investments and hence you avoid paying penalty or booking losses.

Tax Planning:

You can save under section 80 C up to Rs.120000. Out of this Rs.20000 need to be invested in the infrastructure bonds and the balance Rs.100000 can be invested in NSC, PPF, insurance premium, and ELSS mutual funds., You can give maximum allocation to ELSS mutual funds, as you are so young and in the beginning of your career.

Other goals:

You may have other goals like buying a laptop, higher studies, and vacation. You need to plan for all these goals. You need to keep in mind two things before deciding an investment. They are your risk tolerance and time horizon. How much risk you are afford to take and psychologically comfortable in taking? When do you need this money back? Based on the answers to these questions you need to choose the right kind of investment plan.

Plan out your work and work out your plan. Normally we don’t plan to fail, but we fail to plan.If you work on your financial plan, when your friends are partying and taking their girlfriends out, you will be definitely going to be retired richer than your friends.

Wordless Thursday – The Hardest Languages to Learn

For all the newbies on this blog, Wordless Thursday is this blog’s way of providing a visual homage to the world. Most of it though interesting infographics. You can see all the infographics that have been published on this blog here. This week in the office, I was trying to pick up some new words in Arabic from some of my colleagues and guess what ? I found out that it is indeed one of the most difficult languages to master around the world.

Although this infographic is called “What are the Hardest languages to learn ?” they do not represent the majority of languages in the world, In fact India itself has over 15 National Languages, with hundreds of dialects each. I am sure if one were to chart out the languages in India  and which one is the most difficult, the intricacies of Malayalam, Tamil and other South Indian languages would show up as the most difficult to learn. What do you guys think ?

Remembering the past 7 years, professionally

Not so long ago I completed a hefty 7 years in Dubai, and I have loved most of my stay here. Physically, Personally and professionally I have grown in Dubai, it has been more of an all round development if you can call it that. Having worked very little in India, most of my current professional development has happened in this city. Even now I can remember the time when I was arguing with y folks about not coming into this city, as I thought this was not what I was meant to do, I wanted to work in India, server the nation in what ever way possible. But, fate it seems is not without a sense of irony. I came to Dubai to find it being difficult initially and then as time passed, easier. Like the famous quote from the Movie 7 years in Tibet, Dubai was more than what I had thought initially.

A place rich with all the strange beauty of your nighttime dreams.

From gaining loads of weight, to getting married I have been given new things at every turn in Dubai. Meeting with my ex boss Mr. Thomas changed my professional life fr the better. I was introduced to a world of possibilities, where new technology was the norm and thinking about the future was essential to be in business. The Inquisitive Mind was nurtured and grown in this city, hence the blog as well. The particular focus of this blog was far from just self recognition, the concept of the blog was to share my insights into technology and future thinking mapped with the developments around the world.

In between all of this if there was one particular aspect of mine that has taken shape the most it had to be the professional side. As an engineer finding my bearings in the city to an experienced project manager, the projects I have worked on has really helped along the way. So here’s a small homage of sorts to the various important projects that I have had the good fortune of working on. The best part of working in Dubai in construction is that most projects are unique and high-profile and you are provided with videos that help show what you have been working on. So here is the videos that are available for the projects that I have worked on. (Not all projects used).

Dubai International Airport – Terminal 3, Concourse 2 and Car Park

I worked on this project in various capacities over the years, (5 years in Total) and this is the best of the lot, with a built up area of over 16 Million Square feet, this is the largest building in the world, and the biggest I might ever work on. Emirates has some brilliant videos for this project. Check them out below:

Burj Dubai – Burj Khalifa

Being the tallest building in the world will definitely bring in a lot of recognition to the people involved in the construction. Here are some videos from the Burj Khalifa.

Atlantis, Dubai

Another landmark in Dubai, my involvement for Atlantis, the Palm was very small. But it was there nevertheless. Here are a few videos about the Atlantis.

Dubai Metro

The world’s longest autonomous metro, no manual intervention in the trains. All communications working in the central control room.

I can maybe write another post on the rest for next time. But for the time being, will sign off with these architectural marvels.

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 ?

Indian Police now on Facebook

Interesting ! thats the first word that came to my mind when I started seeing articles about Indian Police using Facebook now. Well its not just the guys using it for personal purposes, when I say that I mean its not just for cops who are on Facebook, but for Police work. A while back I had written about how the American Police is beginning to catch some criminals who are using Facebook, using well Facebook as evidence.

But here is a news I never thought I will be write about, not for the near future at least. But Indian cops are catching up, and how ? A small Google search will first of all bring you up links of many Police pages on Facebook the prominent of them being the Delhi Police. The innovation is not only in the fact that they have one, but how they use it. They have converted their page into a sort of crowd sourced traffic camera for Delhi, where the fans can post pictures of law breakers. Whats interesting to note is that Delhi Police have apparently now issued over 650 traffic tickets based on these pictures.

Now I would be wowed at the news, but to be honest, the fear of someone driving a car and trying to take a picture of someone breaking the law is not really legal, cos well they are using the phone while driving and not concentrating on the road. Plus there are those awesome Photoshop artists among us, who can well make anything happen with the right kind of images. Moving away from just Facebook, it gets interesting with twitter, now you can get traffic updates in Delhi with their dedicated twitter channel, also processions and upcoming rallies etc.

While the Facebook page reaches thousands of people, the vast majority of residents here are not connected to it. Just one in four people in urban India has Internet access, and Internet users tend to be the wealthiest. Facebook said in July that users from India passed the 12 million mark.

The authorities have embraced the Facebook informants in part because the dangers of driving in India are ever-present. India has more traffic fatalities than any country in the world, and the number of new, untrained drivers has skyrocketed in recent years as the Indian middle class grows. The system of roads and the police are ill-equipped to handle the crush.

Check out their Twitter channel here : http://twitter.com/#!/dtptraffic

Facebook Page of Dubai Police is here : http://www.facebook.com/dtrafficpolice1

But still its an innovation that is a good sign that our sort of ageing Police infrastructure can actually get into the new world. Wonder if Dubai Police is going to adopt something like this, maybe even Bangalore Police. We will have to wait and watch ?

India Innovation – USB 3.0 from Bangalore

Yes you are reading it right, a Bangalore based company has just developed the next generation USB standard called SuperSpeed USB 3.0 completely out of Bangalore. Arrow Devices is the company and is a start up based in Bangalore. According to their website, USB 3.0 design transfers data at 5 Gbps, and is 10 times more faster than existing USB Standard. The new standard has proven to transfer a high definition movie file in under 2 minutes versus 14 minutes taken by traditional USB implementations.

The USB 3.0 IP provides a configurable number of Bulk, Interrupt or Isochronous In/Out Endpoints. They also provide DMA controllers which can be used along with their IP in order to build applications that use the USB 3.0 device controller. We can interface to a variety of system buses. The company has bagged Nvidia, one of the top-5 semiconductor companies in the world as a customer for this chip design.

Started in 2008, the company plans to license their design to chip manufacturers for fabrication. As far as USB 3.0 is concerned, the next generation USB standard is expected to hit the market in the coming year, though companies like Intel have clearly stated that they will not support USB 3.0 until 2011.

Checking their website, it looks like the company is based out of a residence, in RT Nagar in Bangalore. I know some of you who will be excited just to know that. Innovation in India is growing, and we are the lucky ones getting a chance to witness India’s growth agian in the industry.

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Mobile Number Portability a great Idea !

Hey, not that I have many options to shift mobile phone network providers, UAE, has a sort of semi monopoly in the Mobile Phone providers market. You can choose between Etisalat and Du and thats about it. But in India with 17 providers, the number of  options you have on selecting networks is unbelievable. It makes sense for the operators to have a common platform for the users to pick out of (Obviously they are running out of numbers to give out to customers).

So after a lot of deliberation, discussions and decisions, Mobile Number Portability is now live and for us to use. When I say its live, its gonna be live from 20th January 2010. The major mobile phone operators are advertising this feature really a lot. Some of the ads that impressed are here

So well how do you go about doing the change, here it is, It costs Rs 19 for the change anyway:

So are you interested to make the change ? Let us know