Saturday, September 27, 2008

Ubuntu - installing and using lxsplit

Ever used HJSplit for file-splitting and joining? It supports multiple platforms and all are compatible with each other. While there is no HJSplit yet for Ubuntu, there is "lxsplit" which is the linux equivalent of HJSplit.

Here's how you install lxsplit on your Ubuntu, fairly straightforward.

1. Download and install these two Debian packages (using GDebi Package Manager or deb)

lxsplit deb package (command line)
gtksplit deb package (GUI)

2. Install 2 more libraries, libgtk2.1 and libgtk2.1-common, using Synaptic Package Manager

3. You're ready to use - just type gtklxsplit in the command line and it opens up a easy to use GUI window that allows you to join and split files.

paddu@home:~$ which gtklxsplit
paddu@home:~$ gtklxsplit &

Just as HJSplit, lxsplit also uses the .001, .002 , etc. convention for the extenstions after splitting the files. So, files split with HJSplit in Windows can be joined together using lxsplit in Linux, and vice-versa.

You will find these tools very handy especially when downloading/uploading huge files from/to the Internet. The storage websites like Rapidshare, MegaUpload, etc, all have size limitations per file uploaded for Free accounts. Most people use HJSplit (or lxsplit in our world!) to circumvent these restrictions. Enjoy.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

MOSS to power Olympics portal

Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server will be powering the search engine on a portal that more than thousands of people will use to access information about the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

Cool. Good win for Microsoft and MOSS.


IBM introduces eDiscovery to expand its Enterprise Content Management Solutions

Over and beyond FileNET and Content Manager On Demand, IBM just introduced its new enterprise content management software IBM eDiscovery for its clients to meet legal discovery requirements. It is intended to help organizations to proactively take control of electronically stored information across the enterprise and help reduce eDiscovery costs and improve responsiveness to litigation.

It is also expected to integrate with IBM (or FileNET's ?) records management technology.

In industries like healthcare, auto insurance, financial services, which are regulated and are subject to litigations from time to time, eDiscovery and records management are key to success and reduce the costs of litigation. IBM, which is a big player in the ECM sector, with this product, is in line with taking things a step forward in the electronic documents world.


Google maps blooper! Russia invades Georgia - Atlanta ! ???

Google Maps, when used in an Associated Press Report about the Georgia conflict (that's the Georgia near Russia of course) got mixed up and used the Georgia in the United States. Yeah, right. And this is the image they had in the report

I tried Google Maps for "russians invade georgia" as my search string and this is what I get still.

I think journalists will remember and laugh over this for a while. Google goofies.


Heights of security - using SMS to unlock public toilets in Finland

That's what it's come down to. In response to an increase in arson and damage to public isolated roadside toilets, the transport authority in Finland has come up with a solution (stupid ? but seems to work) where the user needs to SMS "open" (in Finnish) to a short code to open the door and use the toilet.

The solution is as stupid as breaking into a public toilet and damaging it. Seems to work though, since they installed it in Feb 2008, or at least that's what they claim.


Smart self-service scales on the radar for future grocery stores

German researchers have developed new self-service scales able to automatically recognize fruit or vegetables placed on them. As says the lead scientist, 'The scales automatically recognize which fruit or vegetables are to be weighed and ask the customer to choose between only those icons that are relevant,' such as various kinds of tomatoes. These scales are equipped with a camera and an image evaluation algorithm which compares the image with other ones stored in its database. These scales are now being tested in about 300 supermarkets across Europe

I think this is cutting edge. Useful ? Certainly, yes. Profitable ? Well, I'm not sure how much grocery stores would be willing to pay for this feature. But again, I'm not a big self-service guy when it comes to grocery-shopping, primarily because most often I cannot get it to work upto satisfaction and ease. I have to call somebody. Plus, I think entire grocery shopping should be done online, although I still end up visiting the store at least every week, because we're not there yet. Also, I don't see big lines in the self service stations which means the idea still hasn't taken off big. I do see value for grocery stores to go self-service or even enforce them for their customers - saves labor, time and money.

So, I guess grocery stores still need to do a better job in selling their self-service lines rather than labored billing lines. Maybe offer a discount for a while? or some free coupons ?. On the flip side, these smart scales that are being researched on are a good idea and may make things easier for the consumers to check out faster and easier. Adoption period ? Not very near, IMO...let's see...The question is - when would you be ready to pick a grocery store over another because it has a smart self-service scale and makes checkout easier ?


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Bill Clinton sings about being back in the White House!

No, just a prize-winning animation of that...;)

Do not miss the cartoon


Friday, March 21, 2008

Gov. Richardson endorses Obama ; Clinton tries her cheapshot!

Gov. Bill Richardson from New Mexico, tha nation's only hispanic governor, today appeared with Obama at a campaign event in Portland, thereby endorsing him. Richardson dropped out of the Democratic presidential race in January. I think this is a great win for Obama, because this is certainly going to improve his stake with the hispanic population in the country, for whom Clinton has been the favorite so far. And that's probably why Clinton should be sweating it out.

However, what surprises or annoys me the most in this thing is Clinton, who was also equally wooing Richardson's endorsement upto this point, on seeing this new endorsement, instead totally switched gears and has announced that Richardson's endorsement is not quite big a deal. Ha! You know what that sounds to me like? you see the girl you want walk away with another guy and you console yourself saying you wouldn't have dated her anyway! I think that was a total desperate cheapshot from Clinton. But hey, it's politics we're dealing with.

Nevertheless, I think this is a great move for Obama's White House race.


Sunday, March 09, 2008

NME Prize Disbursement - $2.1 M dollars!!!

Got this mail today from National Magazine Exchange (NME) saying that I've won or am eligible for (was not clear) for $2.1M dollars as a sweepstake. It also said that the winner will be paid as 30 annual installments of $70,000.00.

Haha! Looks good? Just another scam. Such scams normally give an -800 number and ask you to call back, don't even think to taking it further and doing it. My letter goes straight to the trash, there is nothing called free money. Be careful.

One way to check on these numbers is to go to and try to see if there is a match for the number you were asked to call, or you received a call from, in one of their forums and confirm that it could be a scam.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Important day for ECM!

(1) R.H. Donnelley - the company behind Yellow Pages, drops 48% this evening. That means, they lost almost half of their company's market value in one day! That's some heavy selling!
Do you still use Yellow Pages? If you answered yes, you're probably among the last few ones to do so. People are moving more towards managing digital content, indexing and searching, and away from paper.

(2) AbitibiBowater, Inc. (ABH) - the 3rd largest pulp and paper company in North America and 8th largest in the world, also reported a Q407 loss of $250 M, with losses in both newsprint paper and specialty paper segments widening from a year before. Stock down 10%.

With more and more industries going paperless, like the news and magazines industry for example, there is more scope for ECM related products for scanning, e-faxing, ingestion, archival and retrieval of electronic documents, etc. The losses that these two big companies reported for Q407 clearly point in the direction of this trend. The Auto Insurance industry is also starting to make inroads into going paperless, if you've started receiving all your documents via email from your insurance provider.


AIG posts largest quarterly loss ever

Reuters Uncut

American International Group (AIG) Inc. today posted their largest quarterly loss ever when they reported their Q4 2008 earnings. They hugely, hugely missed the Street's expectations and reported a $5.29 billion or $2.08 a share loss, as compared to a profit of $3.44 billion or $1.44 a share during the year-ago quarter.

While we would attribute it to write-down of derivatives exposed to bad mortgage investments, closer analysis shows that if they exclude capital gains, losses and hedging activities, they still had a Q4 loss of $3.2 billion or $1.25 a share, as compared to analyst expectations of a $0.15 loss a share.

Their overall 2007 Annual Net Income dropped around 56% from $14.0 billion to $6.2 billion. More breakdown details from their Q407 financial reports that they released today, according to their different segments -

A. General Insurance : --2.9% to $2.11 billion (compared to Q406)
a. Domestic Brokerage Group (DBG): +14.1% to $1.66 billion
b. Personal Lines : from +$79 million in Q406 to --$184 million in Q407
- California wild fires
- unfavorable loss reserve development in prior accident years - primarily in agency auto
- increase in current year accident loss ratio
- transaction and integration costs in acquisition of minority interest, 21st Century Group.
c. United Guaranty Corporation (UGC) : From +$27 million operating profit in Q406 to operating loss of --$348 million in Q407
d. Foreign General : +2.2% to $805 million in Q407

B. Life Insurance and Retirement Services : Overall - Increased 9.2% to $2.66 billion
a. Domestic Life Insurance (+)
b. Domestic Retirement Services (-)
c. Foreign Life Insurance and Retirement Services (flat)

C. Financial Services - $10.25 billion operating LOSS (-)
a. Aircraft Leasing (+)
b. Capital Markets (---------------------------)
c. American General Finance, AGF (-)
d. AIG Consumer Finance Group (-)

D. Asset Management : --11.8% to $458 million

E. Other Operations : $400 million loss compared to $414 million loss in Q406

So, anyway - it seemz like the loss was distributed across all their segments, but heavily stemming from their Capital Markets segment. Other segments of interest to me, like Personal Lines, also reported huge losses, although they were positive last year on that. I don't know what they include in "Other Operations", but it looks like they are consistent in their losses in that segment - time to retire? Although it is nice to see that they've got their portfolio diversified with various insurance products (that's how they got to where they are now!) and hence were able to balance their risks/losses, I expect some spin-offs to come up soon, considering that they've been performing poorly in almost all the segments. Maybe they have been stretching it too far. Maybe it's time.

Shares fell 2.9% in the after-market trading, after having lost 4% in regular day trading.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Hillary is like an inverted yield curve with liquidation threat

...says supply-side economist and television personality Larry Kudlow (CNBC: Kudlow and Company,weekdays 7 pm EST). I thought that was a pretty interesting analogy. Larry says, and I agree completely, Hillary Clinton is finished. She needs to win in both Texas and Ohio in the upcoming caucuses. Although she has a chance in TX because of the strong hispanic population there, she does not stand a chance in OH. Obama has knocked her off. All her campaign investments gone, nevertheless she gave an interesting and tough, I must admit upto now, fight for the Democratic candidate. At the Republican side, McCain seems to be sailing smooth. In the last 10 years, Democrats have won the election only 3 times. Can Obama pull it off this year?

And also goes down hopes of John Mack, Chairman and CEO of Morgan Stanley, behind his stupidity in endorsing Clinton, although her campaigns were not pro-business. Mack's organization was hit bad by the credit market sluggishness and now will pay the price for the Clinton factor.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Faxing thro'

Faxing made easy through OpenOffice, without the need for a win-modem. I haven't tried it yet on my Ubuntu, but recently I bought a Brother 4-in-1, and am certainly inspired to try setting that up for fax through my OpenOffice, it's the question of time. Will keep you posted if I succeed.

But here's how to do it anyway - on Linux Journal


Things get worse for Allstate

On January 30th, Allstate reported their Q4 earnings in which they stated that their profit dropped almost 37% on higher catastrophe losses and increased costs. Net income was $760 million, or $1.36 a share, compared with $1.21 billion, or $1.93 a share, in Q4 2006.

Revenue declined 1 percent to $8.99 billion, from $9.1 billion a year earlier.

So that means their Profitability Ratio (Net Income / Revenue) fell by 58.3% from 0.133 (13.3%) to 0.084 (8.4%). That's certainly not good news for Allstate.

Allstate said unrealized losses from mortgage and asset-backed securities totalled $502 million due to illiquidity in those markets. Write-downs on those investments were $82 million.

I took a deeper look at their Q4 financials. Their Property-Liability combined ratio was 95.9 (vs 85.7 Q4 2006), and if they exclude their catastrophe losses, their combined ratio falls down to 88.6 (vs 84.3 Q4 2006). For Q4 2007, their combined ration consisted of:
- Claims and claims expense ratio - 69.6 (vs 60.6 in Q4 2006)
- Expense ratio - 26.3 (vs 25.1 in Q4 2006 - so not much change here, that is good)

Property-Liability premiums written declined 0.7% from Q4 2006, reflecting :

(a) growth in standard auto (+1.5% WPs and +0.9% in #PIFs) and
(b) decline in homeowners (-1.3% WPs and -3.4% in #PIFs)

Well, (b) was mainly due to catastrophe management actions including the increased cost of the catastrophe reinsurance program. Some more interesting numbers caught my attention, but these could be equally impacting for all players in the auto insurance fight.

(a) Standard auto property damage frequencies increased 2.8%. And, paid severity increased 2.2%
(b) Bodily injury gross claim frequencies decreased 2.8%, compared to Q4 2006. BUT, paid severities increased 9.3%

So, (b) brings out a nice trend that the severity paid per claim for bodily injuries has increased drastically compared to Q4 2006.

Anyway, what does it mean to you? If you're an Allstate customer, there's only one thing you can expect in 2008 as a logical derivation from their current reports. Your premiums could very well go much higher! They have to do the needful to survive and continue to operate. So, if you may, take the cue and do the needful too...


A mad ALLSTATE customer says...


I have been a loyal client of the [name removed] (Allstate Representative) in Colorado for over three years. The one time that I actually called her to make changes to my policy, she hangs up on me.

Allstate is more than happy to take your money but when it comes to customer service, they are horrible at it......."

For the full story, visit My3cents here.

It is because of these kind of stories that I think, 15 minutes may save you 15% or more on car insurance and then this is what you expect to pay later!


Monday, February 11, 2008

Breaking news! Another critical ubiquitous Blackberry RIM outage!

They are not the almighty! They need to fail too, only that everytime their outages hit the headlines, it ends up being majorly critical!

Research In Motion had a critical severity universal outage this afternoon for their Blackberry email. Members from Verizon, Cingular ATT, or T-mobile or be it any - if you're using a Blackberry, you wouldn't be able to get to your email. They have no estimate on the cause, how many people have been affected or when services will be restored. Certainly it's not going to do well on their already sinking stock...

More on The Guardian.


Cultural thing?

US President George W Bush holds hands w/ Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah while walking past some blue bonnets at his Crawford Ranch, 25th April 2005


Force India launches VJM01..for lack of better names

I was not sure if I didn't like the team name Force India, but am certain I don't like the car name VJM01 named after the sponsor Vijay Mallya, which is a repainted Spyker , although Ferrari-powered. Can't they think of something else? VJM01 ? blah blah...

However, the latest 2008 car to join the Formula One tracks was launched in Mumbai, India and I look forward to the season start already and see how this car performs, with Fisichella behind its wheels!

Autoblog posted on it too


Sunday, February 10, 2008

3 Industry trends to change Web Content Management in 2008

Sitescore, the leading provider of .NET Web Content Management system, based on their research and customer experience, recently announced that three major trends are driving how enterprises are better leveraging web content management to create more compelling websites and provide better customer interaction.

(1) Integration of Web CMS into the Enterprise
(2) Growth of .NET Framework
(3) Adoption of Mobile computing


White paper summary - What Legal Wants

I read this white paper sponsored by Contoural, Inc. called, "What Legal Wants...and 7 things IT can do to meet Legal's needs". Here is the summary, in relevance to the Insurance industry and enterprise content management.

Nearly all companies in the course of regular business activities become the target of lawsuits, which vary from simple employee wrongful termination to major litigations such as class-action lawsuits. Litigations, in fact, are a reality of doing business. In the Auto Insurance industry, a huge portion of the lawsuits that the companies face comes from their Claims division, as one may expect. The explosion of electronic documents, along with new regulations, new trends in litigation discovery and how end users handle documents are forcing organizations to re-think their document retention and discovery strategies. According to a recent study from UC Berkeley, more than 96% of all information of an enterprise is in digital format and even 70% of all paper documents are copies of electronic documents.

The different kinds of Electronically Stored Information (ESI) -

I can tell in the Auto Insurance industry, we manage (scan, index, archive and retrieve) all these classes of documents which prevail as a result of the complexity of this data-driven industry.

What is Discovery?

Discovery is the process in which both parties in a lawsuit discover relevant information concerning a case. Ordered by the court during the initial phases of a lawsuit, discovery can be required both of the plaintiff and the defendant. A business that receives a discovery request that calls for the production of electronic and other documents is obligated to make a reasonable effort to search its records for responsive communications.

"Spoliation" - is the term used by courts to describe the improper destruction of evidence, including email and messages. Companies are guilty of spoliation if they destroy evidence like company records relevant to a litigation with the purpose or intent of preventing the other party from using the evidence against them. Spoliation can occur through a "conscious" decision and also unconsciously through inactivity to prevent destruction of email.

Relevant changes to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP)
The FRCP are a body of rules focussed on governing court procedures for managing civil lawsuits in United States. Here are some of the changes related to discovery that went into effect on December 1, 2006.

As it is obvious from the above summary the importance that IT plays in working with Legal to ensure smooth and reliable discovery like archiving, maintaining proper records retention strategies, and the actual electronic discovery process in the event of a lawsuit. In addition, according to Contoural, here are 7 things that IT can do to meet Legal's needs
(1) Create fast, effective litigation hold processes
(2) Educate Legal on archival capabilities of the IT organization
(3) Find and retrieve documents in native format
(4) Create and update an ESI survey data map
(5) Partner with Legal in creating the document retention policy
(6) Disable PST files and other forms of underground archival
(7) Create process for deleting older email and files that are not under hold or needed for compliance or business processes

By helping Legal with these activities, IT will move from a reactive state to a state of litigation readiness.

Gartner lists Attenex, Aungate, Dataflight, MetaLincs, Summation as some of the key vendors of E-Discovery software. EMC, IBM FileNet, HummingBird, Open Text are some of the top players in the much more complicated Records Management product which enables organizations to create the retention schedules and automate the management of their records retention policies. Since these products are very expensive and mostly have license-based costing, it depends on the companies health and IT investment strategy to go for these!


The ECM Market & major vendors

According to Gartner, ECM is a $2.9 billion market (wow! that's how big it is) in 2007, merely based on worldwide software revenues. They predict that the market size would grow at a CAGR of 12.9% through 2011. So, there's lots coming in this industry. Some vendors choose to specialize in some specific segments like Records Management or BPM and are successful niche players in those markets. Other big names like IBM (and now Microsoft - through its Sharepoint MOSS 2007 product) are trying to establish themselves as leaders in the ECM market. Below you may find Gartner's Magic Quadrant for ECM

Copyright Gartner


Gartner's hype cycle on ECM

Copyright Gartner

These are the various technologies that fall under the umbrella of ECM. Different organizations, depending on the industry, their size, their ability to invest in IT, their annual budgets, etc. implement a subset of these components.


Monday, January 28, 2008

Bored enough to do a home experiment?

Do you know what happens when molten potassium chlorate reacts with sugar? Just try putting in a tiny gummy bear inside a vial containing some of it....

Labels: ,

Sunday, January 27, 2008

More on-demand

Free and on-demand music on the web is certainly one of the big contemporary crazes, and it seems to be reaching new heights in 2008.

(1) - was relaunched last week, and I registered (free) over the weekend. They seem to be having a pretty huge collection of songs and these are mostly full tracks, unlike Lala. The best thing I like about is that its player works just fine in Firefox, unlike most of the online radio stations which work only in IE. Their playlist capabilities is not very intuitive - I still haven't been able to figure out how to play songs from my playlist in order, rather than shuffle - and how to create multiple playlists. It looks like if I remove songs from my one and only (so far) playlist, I need to find those songs again if I like to listen to them sometime next week. It doesn't store more than one playlist. That is pretty primitive I think. But their collection is good, I could find almost everything I wanted this weekend, but certain famous bands like Black Sabbath and Floyd, I was surprised to notice, had more previews than full tracks, and that's what I hated about Lala, but nevertheless is much better. I believe I could also embedd the playlist into my Blogger, but I haven't tried that yet.

Unique listeners jumped 85% from the previous week on the day of the launch. And they stuck around: The next day, unique visitors were again up 80% over the previous week.

(2) QTrax: This is another name that hit the press this week. QTrax is the long-delayed, much awaited, first legal P2P music sharing service that is expected to launch this week. But there already is a lot of controversy around the launch. QTrax has announced that all four major music labels, including Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, EMI, and Sony-BMG are on-board and that it can offer for free close to 5 million songs that Apple iTunes SELLS today on their music store. However, WMG has declined involvement with QTrax, so that could result in a potential lawsuit soon after the launch (midnight today!!). I'll be curious to see how many downloads happen tonight.

(3) Seeqpod: This is a web crawler that allows you to search for playable songs. This is a great search engine, but has several limitations.
(a) As you may think, it depends largely on file names that the web page owners have used for the file that they've uploaded. I tried searching for Black Sabbath and I got tons of files,most of which were called Black_Sabbath.mp3. So until I started listening to the songs there was no way that I could know what song it is. Some were the actual Black Sabbath song, some weren't.
(b) It listed like 20 copies of the same song, doesn't attempt at uniqui'ng them out.
(c) Doesn't list duration - so I can't know if it is a preview or the full track. That's where was much better, but I understand the two sites have a different purpose.

Seeqpod is a very useful service, but it has a long way to go, it still is in Beta.I wasn't too happy with the search experience.But already, is is not left out of the controversies. WMG label has just filed a lawsuit against Seeqpod. This is very similar to the Viacom-Youtube case.

The bottomline of this post, is that there's a lot of activity, various kinds, going on in offering free music to the world. Some may succeed, some may crash due to the controversies. At the end, music will certainly be a winner, and so will open sharing.


World's largest sculpture

Q: Which is the world's largest sculpture?
A: Mt. Rushmore, SD, U.S.A

Mount Rushmore National Memorial, near Keystone, South Dakota, is a monumental granite sculpture that represents the first 150 years of the history of United States with 60 feet sculptures of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.

It was a $1M project when it was first constructed in 1941 by sculptor Gutzon Borglum, to pep up the tourism industry in South Dakota. However, the recent renovations which ended in the 90's costed the government $50M. Mt. Rushmore is considered to be in the list of Man-Made Seven Wonders of the world, along with others like the Golden Gate bridge (CA), Hoover dam (CO river), etc., and I don't see why not.....


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Can I have a top 15?

I thought I'll take a stab at my all time favorite (so far) top-15 songs. As you'd imagine, it was much tougher exercise than I thought it would be...but I think I'm pretty accurate.

15. Sex Type Thing - Stone Temple Pilots
14. Man in the Box - Alice in Chains
13. Have a cigar - Pink Floyd
12. Walk on water - Ozzy
11. Stairway to Heaven - Led Zeppelin
10. Free Falling - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
9. Mr. Crowley - Ozzy
8. Sweetest Goodbye - Maroon 5
7. Coming Undone - Korn
6. Shiver - Maroon 5
5. Evolution - Korn
4. I don't wanna stop - Ozzy
3. N.I.B - Black Sabbath
2. Boulevard of Broken Dreams - Green Day
1. Smells like Teen Spirits - Nirvana


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Great pictures and hilarious captions from Macworld '08

From the Borkware miniblog.

Click here to view the picassaweb album.

This is one conference I want to make it to, in the years to come. Phew!


Save Windows XP? Save yourself first!

Around 3 years back, I had a good friend of mine, apparently working on Windows XP team, quit Microsoft Corporation. He made a good choice to pursue something that would be more useful for his career, rather than developing something that no one knew when it was going to launch, or whether it was going to launch at all
! We remember so well the innumerous times when Microsoft had delayed the launch of Windows XP against its promises to the public and computer manufacturers, due to bad planning and unforeseen complexities I would expect.

Within just a few years, Microsoft has now announced that it will stop selling Windows XP by June 30th, 2008. They still have the benefit of dictatorship mainly because of their monopoly in the Operating System market, but nevertheless, this is definitely not going to help the computer manufacturers like Dell and HP, nor enterprise corporations for their huge investments in XP environments. Millions of people, those who use XP, claim no reason to shift to Vista, nor are they happy about Microsoft's sad strategies.

However, there are some useless campaigns like the Info World's Save Windows XP campaign, where they ask for Windows XP users to sign the petition to Microsoft to not force its user base to migrate to Vista. I believe that Info World is just ruining its own reputation by hosting this campaign, although I understand that such petitions are the craze these days and they've just fallen prey to another of those. Individual users and enterprises must at least now start believing in open source and not continue to fall prey to the strategic gimmicks of Microsoft. They are going to do that forever, replace one version with another and then force the users and corporations to migrate, resulting in unnecessary costs for the information technology infrastructures.

People, look beyond Windows. Save yourself, not XP!


Firefox starts to pick up market share...

Co-Firefox Lovers and Users, here is some good news on the Browser trends over the last couple of years. When there was only one browser in the market, which was IE, people had to use it. That is not the case anymore, with Firefox and Safari slowly starting to eat into the IE market. The scars of Microsoft IE are starting to get exposed, as Microsoft has been losing its anti-trust lawsuits in the EU especially for unfair competition by bundling its IE browser (and its Windows Media Player) along with its Microsoft Windows operating system.

Good moves ahead for Firefox, with close to 20% market share now. Way to go!


More comments on the Wall Street frenzy

Last week, I posted on the financial sector crisis in the last quarter and in this month, here are more comments on the same from the Silicon Alley Insider -

"In all my years in financial services, I have never seen it this bad," one high-powered securities industry lawyer told The Post. "I have owners of small firms calling me up saying their liabilities now exceed their assets, which means by law they are required to close down."

- The lawyer said he had two 50-something Wall Street guys call him this week, who, he said, "had lost hope, crying on the phone." "It is call after call after call like these," he said.

- A trader at the New York Stock Exchange could not name a Wall Street firm that did not cut staff this week.

- "It is a bloodbath," said the NYSE trader. "Firms are cutting jobs in all the money losing departments, which includes the troubled sub-prime and mortgage areas."

- John Challenger, CEO of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, predicts more layoffs in the financial services sector in the coming weeks unless Wall Street activity picks up soon.


Yahoo!'s turn to cut jobs?

Nothin' officially announced yet. But a tipster believes Yahoo! is going to cut around 1500-2000 jobs over the next couple of weeks, and that they already have the list prepared. That's how RIFs work. The "list" is reportedly the product of a Q4 project in which all group heads were asked to look at redundancies and create their own lists of potential cuts. All the group-level lists have now been turned in to corporate.

The decision to go ahead with lay-off is said to be largely dependent on stock price: Yahoo's stock trading in the low $20s has gotten Jerry's and president Sue Decker's attention. Jerry will feel vulnerable if the stock goes into the teens and will try whatever he can to prop it up. He's not ready to give up the CEO job, sell-out, or shop the company around at this point. This is a very interesting comment. Is Yahoo! in a position to be considered for buyout? By who? Google? Amazon?

CEO Jerry Yang is also expected to announce Q4 earnings on the 29th of this month. Is he going to club the 2 announcements?

Yahooo has been doing well, and in fact better than Google, in terms of traffic to online properties, says ComScore. But Google surpasses Yahoo! in converting those traffic to profits, and that's what matters. Microsoft is way behind these two companies in the business of online search and advertising and is desperately trying a few acquisition strategies to catch up.

I have quite a few friends from Netzero who joined Yahoo in the recent times. Hope all is good.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Are you in good hands?

Not that I want to pick on Allstate again, (There is always Microsoft to pick on perpetually), but are these actually good hands?

Here is a story from the West Virginia records, on Insurance Litigation.

"One night, the water supply line to a commode burst, and water flowed into their home or several hours. Thurman Townsend had to move his wife out to the car and spent hours cleaning the mess.

The next day, he contacted Allstate, his insurer. Charleston attorney Bobby Warner said Townsend contacted the company several times over the next week, but that the first adjuster didn't visit the home for two months.

Then, Warner said, the adjuster spent just 20 minutes looking over the damage.

"It was a rough eyeball inspection," Warner said. "They didn't offer a penny then, and an offer of only $2,000 came about a year later."

On top of that, Warner said Allstate closed the Townsend case without permission.

Townsend finally was rewarded for the headache of that night May 2 when a Marshall County jury awarded him about $1.3 million in compensatory and punitive damages.


Allstate - not ALL State anymore

#2 AllState has been suspended from writing auto insurance policies in the giant state of Florida, by the FL Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarthy. This is in response to AllState refusing to comply fully with a subpoena from the state. They failed to turn in the information that the state had requested on hurricane and other property coverage rates.

This just re-emphasizes the complexities in the Auto Insurance industry - which is regulated not even by the Fed, but by each state! The state regulations even range upto and differ from each other in the capitalization of some of the alphabets in the print communication sent to the customers. That's how rigid the industry is. Every auto insurance company is mandated to report their rates and algorithms behind the rates to the state. Failure to comply with this, is like defrauding on earnings reporting. In the latter, you attract accounting scandal-suits or anti-trust lawsuits, while in the former, you're prevented from running new business as in the case of AllState.

Nevertheless, am I thrilled about AllState being in this condition? From the bottom of my heart. FL is a $1.9 Billion annual business for AllState. That's gone (at least until their lobbyists work something out). PLUS, now they have to undergo re-branding efforts and related expenses right? I mean, in an industry that is built on trust and customer satisfaction, who would believe them if they call themselves ALLState now? I would suggest something like "ALMOST ALLState". Oops, but then they got to change their tagline, perhaps to something like, "You're in good hands, USUALLY - except in FL where we got butter fingers now"


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Entering the ECM disney world...

AIIM says: Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is the technologies used to capture, manage, store, preserve, and deliver content and documents related to organizational processes. ECM tools and strategies allow the management of an organization's unstructured information, wherever that information exists.

Where there is data, there there is ECM. It's as broad as that. If you're working in an industry in which communication to and from the customer is key, and if you serve more than, say 10,000 customers, you're employing some ECM solution or the other without your knowledge. In almost all of the Fortune 500 companies in today's world, there must be at least one ECM vendor that helps to digitize content, store it, manage it and retrieve it.
We're no longer in a world where we can manually index, sort and search documents and photos, etc. Automation is key, and that is what ECM is all about.

ECM is a separate industry by itself, led by players like IBM FileNet, ASG, Microsoft, Adobe, etc. There are at least 20 different segments in the ECM industry, and each player competes in its own segment. Each large organization (mostly in Insurance, Healthcare, and other Financial Services, which are document-driven), employs various pieces of these ECM technologies, as per their need and investment abilities. Remember, IT is a cost-center in these industries.

More to come on the various pieces/segments of the ECM industry. Stay tuned!


Microsoft buys FAST for $1.2 B

Microsoft buys the financially/legally troubled FAST (FAst Search and Transfer - recursive acronym ?) for their Enterprise Search Platform (ESP). FAST is a Norwegian-based company founded in 1999, and is traded on the Oslo Stock Exchange. ESP includes a software framework for efficient indexing of searchable content, along with a series of search-derivative applications (SDAs) that could be used for online publishing and business intelligence.

It certainly is a good move for Microsoft. At last they realize that they are not good at search and cannot compete with the likes of Yahoo! and Google, and decide to indulge in a buyout strategy. They're paying 42% above the closing price a couple of days back when they placed the bid. The deal is expected to close in Q2 this year.

It's a pity that, they still do not even own the domain yet, as when I tried to look it up, it currently redirected to the website of another communications provider called PAETEC.

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2008 - not going to be good for 'Jobs'

Which Jobs? Well, both.

(1) Last week, I just posted on the Jobs in the Financial/Banking sector taking a hit, and Citigroup today again announced another 4200 jobs cut, and they expect reductions in work force all through this year too. They reported a record $9.x Billion Q4 loss.

(2) On the other hand, expectations were high on the other Jobs - Steve Jobs. Undoubtedly, he is one of my most admired CEOs of today's tech world. He inaugurated the Macworld 2008 Conference this week. Same day last year, he stole the show with the launch of the iPhone. This year, he disappointed the audience and analysts too. He reported around 4 M iPhone sales last year! Wow! Isin't that great? Unfortunately no, because we expected 5 M!. Their only new product that he launched this time is their Macbook Air. It sure is so thin, but nothing earth-breaking or mind-blowing. Apple stocks tumbled after the inaugural address at the conference.


Monday, January 14, 2008

Simple hack to increase #posts/page in Blogger

Q: How to increase the # posts per page in Blogger?

A: Blogger defaults to 20 posts per page. There is a simple hack to increase the #posts. Open your customized Blogger template and wherever the home page or label/tag page is being submitted, add the name=value pair, "max-results=200" as a HTTP GET variable. For example, if Home page is HREF'd to, add the GET variable to the URL in the anchor tag as, href=""

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

UOL withdraws Classmates IPO

Slightly old news, but for some of my ex-colleagues while I was at United Online (Netzero) who haven't caught it, they have withdrawn the IPO for wholly-owned subsidiary - - which is European equivalent of America's Facebook.

I'm not sure of the reason, but must talk to some of my friends out there, although I'm sure it must be in the best interests of the shareholders given the current market conditions. The company was expecting to incur around $4.5 M to $5.5 M in Q4 2007, in transaction-related costs.


Intel undermines $100 laptop initiative, but Tata Motors pulls it of with its $2500 car

Last week, Intel chickened out from its promise of delivering to the world a $100 laptop, mainly targeted at the impoverished masses, in an attempt to bring Information Technology to the rural population and school children in the developing worlds. They sure should be ashamed out themselves. These kind of false promises do catch the media attention, especially if you're talking about non-profit, global causes, etc. It shows that they didn't plan well before they announced, or something screwed up with the plan. If it was a for-profit project, one reason I could see when such projects are terminated pre-maturely is when they decide that it would be a -ve NPV effort to continue the project (that is, they are better off in their losses if they drop their project at this point), and they would consider the investments thus far as sunk costs and drop the project. But in Intel's case, if they categorized it as a non-profit effort, they are worthy enough to be criticized for undermining the distribution and progress of the initiative. Obviously, Professor Nicholas Negroponte, the founder and man behind this initiative, is not too happy with Intel's sudden stance either. The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) organization (owned by both Intel and Prof. Negroponte) is at stake, thanks to Intel.

On the other hand, Tata Motors - one of India's largest automobile manufacturers, has just launched its $2500 (one lakh Indian rupees) car. This "nano" car, as they call it, runs on a 623 cc engine and offers 50 miles per gallon. Can you beat it? To add, it is also much more environment-friendly than most other cars and even motorcycles.
I believe it is 21% bigger inside than a Maruti 800, one of those age-old small Indian cars, but only 80% as long. So, worried about Indian traffic? This is a great leap to save parking space and offers better maneuvering through the Indian traffic. Above all, it is so affordable - the car for the poor!

So, there seems to be a new pattern that is taking shape here. Cheap, inexpensive, but good performing stuff for the people from the developing countries, and those below the poverty line. Some succeed, some try and get out later. Nevertheless, the improvement in technology is a big success!


Friday, January 11, 2008

Banking sector crisis in the last quarter

We all know that the banking (credit services, mortgages, investment banking) industry has gone for a toss in the last few months in the midst of the credit/mortgage crisis in the United States. We've seen a lot happen, in the last quarter especially. Some of the big RIFs that I can remember -

(1) 08/2007 - Lehman Brothers cuts 1200 jobs and shuts down its BNC Mortgage Business at a one-off cost of $52 million
(2) 09/2007 - Countrywide Financial slashes 12,000 jobs. Countrywide is the nation's largest subprime lending mortgage company.
(3) 09/2007 - Key Bank slashes 200 jobs, including call center jobs.
(4) 10/2007 - Bank of America, the largest U.S. bank by market value, cuts 3000 jobs, mostly in the Investment Banking division - 10/2007
(5) 10/2007 - Morgan Stanley cuts 600 mortgage jobs
(6) 12/2007 - Washington Mutual slashes dividend and cuts more than 3000 jobs
(7) 01/2008 - National City cuts 900 jobs and slashes dividend by 49%, and stops offering mortgages thro' brokers - 01/2008
(8) 01/2008 - Merill Lynch announces that it may cut upto 1600 jobs (10%) and unveil writedowns of as much as $10 billion from Q4. Merill was the largest underwriter of 2007.
(9) But the worst of all, came from Citigroup in 04/2007, which their then CEO Charles Prince announced that Citi may cut around 45,000 jobs during the year. Yes, he was made to leave the organization (Cramer had been long telling that Chuck should be fired), and given the market condition, there was no one (from outside and inside) willing to take up the job. Can you beat it? I mean, Citigroup is the world's largest bank and no one wants to lead it! Finally, Vikram Pandit, who was with the organization only for 6 months decides to step in and he gets sworn in as the new Citi CEO. Let's wait and watch if he turns around things. Well at least today, he's got the Saudi billionaire prince Alwaleed to invest in the bank, so that's definitely a good move.

So, where does one go if everyone else around is also cutting jobs?

Among the few that survived, is Goldman Sacchs which turned out to have a great record-breaking 2007 reporting $3.17 billion in Q4 profit. One man's meat - another man's poison?

Now, just today, Bank of America announces one of their stupidest bids ever. They've placed a takeover bid of $4.2 billion for the company that probably was the root cause for this whole credit crisis - Countrywide. I agree, it is a good number for such a huge organization, so from that perspective it may be a good bid. Nevertheless, I think it is gamble in the wrong direction - it's assets and stock prices have been continuously deteriorating.

Where is all this heading? Certainly towards a recession in 2008, with oil prices touching $100 / barrel recently to add to market crisis. Will a change in the government add any value to the current situation? The Democrats, Clinton and Obama are looking towards the economy in their campaigns and caucus speeches, but would they just be speeches? What can the government do? What is the Fed doing? Is Bernanke a failure successor to Greenspan? Or can he do anything?

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2 more sections to this blog

Hello Friends,

I'm adding 2 more sections to the blog, which I hope to be continuously updating. They would be
(1) Enterprise Content Management and (2) Auto Insurance. These are certainly two of my chief areas of interest now, as I currently manage the Progressive Content Management group. As I expand my knowledge in these areas, I hope to share them, though on a more generic basis as the section-titles indicate. Continue to read, and hope you enjoy them. Thanks,

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Encoding movies in Ubuntu - How?

Alright, so now I want to convert RM and WMV into AVI. Here's what I did that worked (of course after quite a few experiments)

1. Enable multiverse repository

All the package installations work from repositories. There are a few kinds of repositories depending on the level of security and authority. If you want to follow the GUI approach, open System->Administration->Synaptic Package Manager. Go to Settings->Repositories. I think the 'main' and'universe' repositories are enabled by default, but for mencoder we need the multiverse repository. So, enable it and ensure you're connected to the Internet and click on Reload to sync the packages with the repositories.

2. Install mencoder

This can be done easily from the terminal using apt-get, since we've enabled the multiverse repository. So get to the bash and,

$paddu>sudo apt-get install mencoder

This should be done w/o any problems.

3. Add the Medibuntu repository (Multimedia, Entertainment and Distractions in Ubuntu) to the list of APT repositories.

Again, the Medibuntu repository is not included with the default Ubuntu distribution due to copyright, patent, licenses and other issues. We're adding this repository to get two main packages - w32codecs and libdvdcss2 - which are needed my mencoder to perform to conversion.

The repository can be added by the following steps
(a) Get the list using HTTP GET and add it to /etc/apt/sources.list.d/

$paddu> sudo wget -O /etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list

(b) Then, add the GPG key

$paddu> wget -q -O- | sudo apt-key add - && sudo apt-get update

Now, the codecs would have been installed at /usr/lib/win32 or /usr/lib/codecs

4. Run mencoder with parameters

This is the easy part, but may take a few minutes depending on the size of the file and the input and output audio and video types.

I'm just going to give an example of RM to AVI here -

$paddu> mencoder source.rm -ovc lavc -ffourcc DX50 -oac pcm -o target.avi

ovc - output video codec
oac - output audio codec
ffourcc DX50 - This option is used because although the video is produced in MPEG4 AVI, the default header is FMP4 which is not widely recognized. My IOmega player did not recognize the format (said - Codec not supported) when I first tried the conversion without that option. A header with DX50 claims that the video is DivX 5 (hence MPEG4) compatible and should therefore play on any media player that can play MPEG4 video.

That's it and you're good to go!

Steps 1-3 are just required the first time to set things up. Then on onwards just running step-4 would be sufficient. Even that can me minimized by adding the parameters to the mencoder config file at ~/.mplayer/mencoder.conf

More tutorials on the mencoder options and various other format conversions can be found at Gentoo Wiki


Encoding movies in Ubuntu - Why?

So much to my heart's content, since it's been quite some time that I've been out of school and don't need that crappy OS on my system (you know what I'm talking about) I upgraded myself from a dual boot of Windows XP and Fedora Core 3, to a single boot Ubuntu. After a lot of self-debating and reading from forums on whether to migrate to Core 8 or Ubuntu, I went with the Gutsy Gibbon 7.x flavor of Ubuntu. The installation was like eating a piece of cheesecake. Almost a single click installation. Even if Microsoft were to reverse its name, they can't beat this. And remember, although I installed it, one can run the OS directly from the CD. Isin't that cool?

I'll write about some of the cool things of Ubuntu later, now I want to talk about how to encode movies in Ubuntu, since I just went through the process. I had bought an Iomega 500 gig Screenplay which is a hard-drive with multimedia playback capability. I bought that so that I can use it as a hard-drive and at the same time connect it via RCA or S-video to my TV and play directly.Reviews on that product to follow later.

Now this player has some limitations, it plays only AVI, MPEG-4 (with Divx 3.x, 4.x, 5.x encoding), and of course, MP3, JPEG and all that. AVIs just played perfect. Now, I wanted to play some .RM and .WMV movies, that my Iomega player wouldn't normally play. That's where MPlayer and MEncoder came to my rescue. MPlayer is the world's best and most-equipped multimedia player, hands down! Just imagine, if I were to switch to Windows, just to substitute the capabilities of MPlayer, I would need at least 10 different players or softwares. All supported here by just one Mplayer with the appropriate codecs. That's the power of open-source. That's the power of Linux. MEncoder is the encoding engine that comes with the MPlayer and separate.

What do you need to do to convert these RM and WMV files into AVI or MPEG, that my player understands? Read on, the how's on the follow up post...

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Force India?

Break through news! Indian business tycoon Vijay Mallya and his Amsterdam partners complete the successful acquisition of Spyker-Ferrari Formula One racing team. This further demonstrates the soaring interest in F1 racing in India, especially the youth, after Narain Karthikeyan drove the Jordan out in 2005.

They've been permitted to change the team name to Force India frm next season. Wow, the Indian sponsors and corporates must be celebrating that. For all Formula One fans, the 2007 season climax was a feast, with Raikonnen claiming the clown in the last couple of seconds in the season, phew! that was some excitement! To add to that, now we hear about Force India. A small step for Mallya, a giant leap for Indian sports...


Saturday, September 01, 2007

My terrible horrible iPhone activating experience.....

While I'm typing this, I'm sitting here listening to some really stupid song on the phone while being on hold with AT&T to activate my iPhone. And I'm frustrated because, I had a simple problem while activating my iPhone (my home address could not be located, for some reason mysterious to me) and I got an email asking me to call an ATT number. I called them, and they said they don't assist iPhone activations!! So they asked me to call 1-800-MYIPHONE. Patience still prevailed. I called them. They said this is an ATT problem and they are going to route me to ATT. But, that's where I came from!!!!

I now understand that these are the problems that you face when two such big companies come together to offer a product or service. Who takes ownership? Who takes responsibility? Hahaha! Simple activation issue. No one knows who's supposed to fix it or find a solution to.


Alright, so here I am now talking to an ATT customer service agent now...First question after introduction, "So, sir, are you activating your iPhone? " No, my Motorola Razr and I thought I'll call you instead because I like talking to ATT customer service...

Anyway, at least this guy is trying to check what went wrong and is interested in helping me out. Let's see how it goes.

In the meanwhile, I wasn't very satisfied with the iTunes activation process either for my phone. Very simple things that they could have done better or tested better -
- The social security text field had no length limit
- It mandates that I enter a home phone number! For God sake, I'm not breaking the law if I don't have a landline, do I? So I put in my work phone number instead.
- I tried to go back a few screens during the activation process, to refer to some information that I had entered, and I couldn't go forward again. I had to cancel the activation process and repeat the whole process again. Could it get better?

Ok, back to the customer service rep. I'm stil on the phone, and he's not able to help me. He's trying to figure out who he should redirect me to and is probably going to redirect me to the original number I started from.

Hahaha! as I expected, he's asking me to call the 877-800-3701 ATT number that I started from, and he's not able to transfer me there because they have high call volumes at the moment.

Me: "So, that's where I started right, and they asked me to call 1-800-MYIPHONE and they transfered me to you and you're asking me to call the first number I called again!"
ATT agent: {doesn't know what to say...silence for a few seconds and then repeats what he just said} Yes sir, that's the number you have to call, and right now they have high call volumes so you may want to try after some time
Me:{I give up...} 'orite thanks...
ATT: Thank you for calling ATT customer service sir, you have a good day
Me: Thanks, I'm already having a smashing one!

After a few minutes, here I am, calling the ATT 877 number again, and they hang up saying that they have a high call volume and ask me to call later.

So i got through. The welcome message (I didn't probably observe this before) says happily, "Welcome to the iPhone activation system" and the first agent I speak to says again that she cannot assist me and transfered me to another ATT department and the automated IVR asks me to enter my wireless cellular number. Dude, I don't have one yet as I'm trying to activate it, wasn't I clear?? But it doesn't let me go through, so I hang up, give up.

So I don't know what to do, and am sure one out of 50 or 100 might have had this kind of an activation experience, but the fact is I did and I don't like this process. So, I'm going golfing now.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

VMware goes public!

I don't believe I missed this. If you did too, catch their IPO action on

VMWare dominates the virtualization programs industry and I just read that investors drove their shares high by 76% on the opening day. I know that technology firms are again adored by investors and venture capitalists, but does this mark the restart of the tech IPO booms? Read more on the Economist.

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Simply GDP

Someone asked me about this today, so I thought will post on it too...

What is GDP and how is a country's GDP estimated?

A: A country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is nothing but a way of measuring the size of its economy. It can be considered as the market value of all goods and services produced within the country in a given time frame.

The famous GDP equation is as follows -

GDP = C + I + G + (X-M)

C -> total Consumption in the country (e.g., food)
I -> total Investment in the country (e.g., construction of a new oil field)
G -> total Government spending in the country (e.g., salaries of civil servants)
X -> total eXports
M -> total iMports

And where to get the numbers to plug into this equation? Wish it were that simple, that is a big course by itself, on what to include and what not to include.

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More problems at Dell....

Dell, the world's second largest PC maker based at Round Rock, TX, said today that it has to restate its last 4 years of financial results due to potential manipulation. It expects the restatement to reduce the net income by around $150 M, which is actually not much when compared to the $12 B that it made during this same restatement period. Revenues would also reduce by 1%. So the changes are minimal, but nevertheless their reporting problems continue. The review identified evidence that certain manpluations and adjustments seem to have been motivated by the objective of attaining financial targets.

This is the common reason behind most cases of earnings manipulation, and we know that Dell still faces SEC investigations for prior misconduct. In the in-process audit that began in August 2006 after similar accounting problems, around 125 lawyers and 250 accountants reviewed more thab 5M documents (that's big!!) and conducted more than 200 interviews with the company employees.

We've noticed a lot of changes since then, with the most prominent ones being -

- Michael Dell returned as Chief Executive in January, replacing his protege Kevin Rollins
- They recently broke from their long successful direct-to-consumer sale strategy and have started selling their computers at Wal-Mart. This actually disturbs me a little. Dell, being based at Austin, TX, used to find its way into almost all our business school case studies, be it Information Mangement, or Operations, or Strategy, or even Finance (well, nowadays, it can start featuring in the Accounting classes as well, on how NOT to do accounting :-) ). And in almost every class that I've attended we've discussed the direct-sales model of Dell. I envy the future generations who don't have to go through that trauma anymore. Nevertheless, they still remain our biggest recruiter at UT, absorbing more than 25 interns on a consistent basis...

But, what's the future of Dell? Well, I guess they really have to find their way out of the labyrinth of improper accounting that they are in now and regain confidence among the customers, shareholders and employees. I will think twice before I buy a Dell PC, think 5 times before I invest in the company and think 10 times before I decide I want to work for the company. No, don't get me wrong, I like the company, Michael's a great founder and CEO and I'm sure he's already turning things around for the company, but yet, they have to straighten themselves a bit - they are lucky to get away with this mal-reporting as they have to restate only a small percentage this time, but.....


Sunday, August 12, 2007

No stopping Ozzy....!

Hey fella Ozzy and metal fans, I'm sure you've all been indulging in as much head-banging as I've been over the last couple of weeks, when this man, the legendary 59-year old Ozzy Osbourne released his new album after 6 years, Black Rain (Buy it on Amazon here ).
The first two songs, Not Going Away and I Don't Wanna Stop are just out of the world IMO, and pretty much among the best headbangs you can ever get. And as you may see from these two track titles and lyrics, the message is clear. There's no stopping Ozzy, and he wants to stretch it as far as he can!

All my life I've been over the top
I don't know what I'm doing,
All I know is
I Don't Wanna Stop!

Phew! Don't miss it!

Also, catch the Rolling Stone review on Black Rain - where Ozzy says, "I can't believe I'm still here, I should be dead" Yeah, the old guy can't even actually talk, and then suddenly he comes up with such a blowing album. Man, I'm so glad he's still here. There've been times I've wished he was still with Sabbath, but thinking about it, he's given a lot more smashing hits after he left Sabbath in 1979 too, and has sold 50 million individual albums worldwide. WOW, that's something! Mr. Crowley, Walk on Water, Suicide Solution (and the list continues) have always been among my top favorites for a while. However, it is sad to hear him announce his retirement from performing live at the Ozzfest (held together by his son Jack Osbourne) after this year. I missed the opportunity of my lifetime last week when Ozzfest was at Columbus, OH, which is just a couple of hours from where I live. Sadly, I couldn't make it as the stupid thing was on a weekday and I had stuff to take care of at office. I've never see him live! hmmm.......

On the funny side, I was talking to my friend Sheila about it today, and she seems to have got it all against the old guy, hahaha, and particularly disturbed about his biting the head of a live dove intentionally a few years back at the meeting with one of his records executives...So yeah, he's crazy, but also rockin' crazy! Sorry, Sheila, I've tried to and like to keep the dove away from his music..:)

Thanks for reading, that's my tribute to this legend.....


Thursday, August 09, 2007

Free People Search with ZabaSearch

Ever wanted to lookup people in the United States ? Look beyond Yahoo Directory or and think Zaba! This engine offers much better and accurate results on people search. It even returns the birth date of the person you're looking up. Plus, it's got a pretty clean interface. Check it out at ZABASEARCH.COM

Thanks to Shankar for pointing me to this. It did help!


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Free Running - the sport of tomorrow??

I met this guy Craig today at the Buddhist temple, who just casually mentioned about Free Running and it intrigued me that I got back home and checked it out. Man, these guys just rule Jackie Chan and the lot out of the race. Crouching Tiger is no match. They just fly like birds. Few more years, and I wouldn't be surprised if this Free Running becomes a professional sport and we see an industry behind it. I'm not sure if they're wearing any special shoes, but they just don't get hurt when they jump from roof to roof.

Here's a sample video on Free Running - watch it and enjoy the action!

And in case it interests you further, these two brothers performing Free Running are a delight to watch....they don't seem to leave any surface untouched..


Thursday, August 02, 2007

America's infrastructure gone for a toss, with the Minnesota breakdown

Here's the update....

  • Minnesota Interstate 35W bridge breaks down (experts say, due to corrosion), costs 6 lives (counting...)
  • Minnesota ranked #3 in the country for infrastructure
  • Ranked #11 by CNBC for business in the Transportation industry
  • Victims trapped in submerged cars
  • Not able to use cellphones, as these stupid devices, like Tendulkar, don't serve in emergency situations. They couldn't handle the traffic when everyone reached their cellphones immediately and simply crashed! - Speaks of America's infrastructure again!
  • Federal government orders all the states to inspect all their bridges IMMEDIATELY
Click here for a slideshow of images of the breakdown from

Victim driver says, "I don't believe I'm alive..." - Check out for more coverage on that.

Some more stats that may be eye-openers for the Congressmen, who probably feel it's not a sex appeal to talk about transportation and infrastructure during their campaigns, nor are willing to sufficient spend money on it.
  • 70,000+ (13%) U.S. bridges are structurally deficient
  • 3,871 of these are over 100 years old
  • $188B - $0.5 Trillion to bring them upto what they should be, and it will take a lifetime
  • Bridge repair backlog is around $55 B
  • Fed spends nearly $40B a year on highways and bridges

Alright, if the Minnesota bridges are ranked among the nation's best and this is what happens, I guess everytime now I go on a bridge or a highway, I can't stop my thoughts wander......


Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Can you make Coke explode? Watch this, it's too funny. I'm waiting to try this on someone....while I don't want to mess my house up. Maybe the parking lot? :)


Monday, July 30, 2007

Drama at NASA

NASA has always been among my most admired and respected agencies of the Federal Government, known for its reputation and highly-skilled scientists. The movie Apollo 13, starring Tom Hanks if you haven't seen it, is a true IMAX experience, but in addition, captures the astronomical abilities and leadership skills of these NASA folks both on the shuttle and back down at their Houston center. While I was in TX, I made it a point to visit Houston just to be inside the Johnson Space Center, just for kicks....

However, it is a pity to observe the recent happenings at this great insitution that hosts some of the best mathematical brains in the world.

(1) On at least 2 occasions, NASA astronauts were permitted to fly after drinking heavily, according to a report that was released last Friday by an independent investigation panel. Are you kidding me? While heavily is a relative term and the reports don't quantify it, dude c'mon, what are they flying here...? space shuttles for God sake...although the report also does not mention whether they were flying the space shuttle or were on the training planes. In either case, I don't think anyone would consider it acceptable or pardon the misdeed jeopardizing the flight safety.

(2) To add to their miseries, the space agency is also currently investigating the sabotage of a computer scheduled for delivery to the International Space Station (ISS) during a space shuttle mission next month. Reports say that a worker at a subcontractor deliberately cut the wires on the computer.

I wonder what is happening to the agency and what the government is planning to do to fix these issues, and restore its slowly tarnishing reputation...


Monday, July 23, 2007

The new ultra deep sea driller

Q: How many people operate the new independent hub by Anadarko Petroleum in Houston, TX?

A: 16 people

That's right! Just 16 people! This is the deepest hub or sea driller ever built, it goes 8000 feet deep. And, it is a $2 billion project - yes, this is a very capital intensive industry, says Anadarko CEO, James Hackett.

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