Sep 16, 2013

Taiwan style discipline and civic sense - will it work for India?

Or for that matter any other country?

I have been to Taiwan several times and love the country, its people and their strong civic sense and environment friendly habits. I have written earlier about trash cans and plastic bags.

It goes beyond that.

In most manufacturing companies, workers (not just blue collar, but office workers at all levels)

  1. take the stairs to move about the building, even if they have to climb up and down 3 floors or so. Lifts are only used by invalids or VIPs.
  2. bring their own cutlery (steel chopsticks, spoon) to the lunch canteen, which they wash themselves and take back!
  3. not only clear their lunch trays but also dispose of food waste and containers separately depending on type, and in one company, even rinse them under water before handing back. I noticed this in Korea too.
  4. Do not ask for, or provided plastic cups or those white foam cups for drinks. They bring their own cups or bottles, which are re-used after washing. This applies even to regular visitors like project consultants, not just full time staff. 
  5. Switch off toilet lights if they are the last ones to leave!
  6. Switch off office lights during lunch time.

I have not asked, but I suspect most of this is voluntary compliance, not measures enforced with fines or other punishment.

Wonder how many of these rules will work in India or even Singapore which is 'famous' for its rules and regulations. If enforced, it may lead to strikes, riots and violence in India and perhaps staff quietly leaving for other companies / jobs in Singapore!

The benefits are enormous. Labourers, instead of spending time cleaning and disposing trash can work on more important, higher paid jobs, for one.

Sep 4, 2013

Patent protection in USA

I have long believed, based on a non-expert but decent understanding of the tech industry as well as accounting, legal and other allied matters that US patent system is not just ineffective but is basically yet another competitive weapon in the hands of Uncle Sam.

A weapon that is used ruthlessly exploiting the advantage of being the biggest consumer market and economy. That advantage is exploited elsewhere too. While Swiss bankers ask India to go suck its thumb when its govt (half heartedly and selectively, no doubt) asks for details of tax cheats and their holdings in Swiss banks, Uncle is able to squeeze their balls and get the information out.

President Obama's decision to favor Apple over Samsung, despite the outrageous behaviour of Apple on patent matters, that is too well documented to need elaboration, is a case in point.

Here is a President issuing a executive fiat that says when push comes to shove, Apple or for that any American company can rely on its government to save its behind while offering little or no protection to foreign businesses reeling from exploitative, greedy and sleazy lawyers, arrogant big companies and a truly nonsensical patent system. A system that allows patent on ginger, turmeric, basmati rice and other grandma remedies known elsewhere for generations. A system that allows jury to award billion dollar damages without even debating it for a few hours, that too on patents that are dubious and do not stand up to scrutiny by its own system.

America can get away with it. Because it is big. It is as simple as that.

Jul 15, 2013

Nook is dead!

Just as predicted in this blog a few months ago, Nook tablets are now dead.

Apr 2, 2013

Nook begins death watch..what about Nokia

As I mentioned in my earlier blog post, Microsoft is developing a knack for choosing losers and anything it touches, of late, seems to be doomed.

This report confirms the prediction...Nook on death bed?

Let us see if Nokia follows Nook after it chose M$ for its phone..Interestingly, Vertu, once rid of Nokia's shackles, chose Android for its latest mobiles! If Stephen had done the same, instead of Eloping with his former bosses, may be we will have a genuine competitor for Samsung.

Talking of all the doomsday predictions of IP related gloom and doom for Android, some of it FUD spread by paid shills, now Facebook too wants to get into the bed with Google.

And Apple's troubles are mounting, with China, and its state run media showing arrogant Apple what it feels to be at the wrong end of strong arm tactics using muscle and money power.


Mar 29, 2013

Ex Judges, lawyers encourage law breaking?

Have our ex judges and eminent lawyers gone crazy?

One of them, ex Judge Katju who is building up quite a reputation for crazy and silly statements that would put Mani Shankar Iyer to shame. The other is Shanti Bhushan ex-law minister and a lawyer.

Both want Sanjay Dutt to be pardoned.

Katju, thankfully only wants him pardoned because of age, fame, parentage etc. etc., none of which make any sense but is at least harmless influence peddling.

But Bhushan goes even further, arguing that Dutt acquired assault weapons (not even handguns) because he had to protect himself from Hindu mobs out to kill his family. And he was forced to get them illegally because the law doesn't allow him to do so legally.

This is the height of madness. Let us take this further..

If Dutt can acquire assault weapons, then every member of 'minority' community, who face similar threat, can do so too

Dalits facing persecution from upper castes, poor facing pressure from rich landlords and so many others can use exactly same arguments to acquire AK47s.

Slum dwellers facing eviction, forest occupiers facing pressure from Government, the list goes on..

It would then become apparent that other than rich upper class Hindus (the poor amongst them qualify under any of above criteria), practically 99% of Indians can use Bhushan's justification to acquire assault weapons, grenades, even nuclear warheads. And having acquired them, they can go ahead and use them because it is a pity to spend so much money and let it go waste. They can argue that they were 'forced to kill illegally because the law doesnt allow them to do so legally!'

This sort of nonsensical talk has become typical of our liberal elite who think a peaceful India can be built on foundations of murder, terrorism and violence.

May god save this country!

Feb 8, 2013

Mathematics of Dieting

Ever since I started watching my weight, I have been reading up on diet, nutrition and all sorts of related topics. Like with other subjects, reading a lot on the web exposes you to a lot of junk and often misleading stuff, and stuff that is simply copied from elsewhere. Filtering out all the crap and digesting the 'truth' is as challenging as losing weight, if not more!

On top of that, there is genuine disagreement on practically every aspect of dieting, exercise and nutrition. Which means you will come across completely opposite arguments, for and against anything, be it squatting beyond parallel, running every other day, no-carb diet, fat free, drinking milk or eating soy food. Each one will be convincing and articulate, only until you read the other.

Thanks to the litigious societies we all live in, most people also add the standard disclaimer that they are not doctors and even if they are, you should simply not believe what they say, and 'consult your physician' before acting on any recommendation.

You can take the above paragraph as the disclaimer on my behalf as well! I am neither a doctor nor a nutrition expert. Nor have I lived 80+ years in perfect health to qualify for giving out advise on these topics from first hand experience.

But then, when has that stopped anyone from blogging what they want to say?

It is the Maths, stupid!

Often, we fail to understand the simple mathematics that is behind almost any day to day phenomenon. For instance, how many know that the odds of winning Toto are 1:8+ million?

It is not necessary to consume meat / fish to get protein, vegetable sources can provide all of it. Of course, some veg sources are not 'complete' which means we have to supplement with others, (Update: I have subsequently learnt that this is not of those 'myths' that even professionals believe in) but ignoring that for a moment, it is true you don't need meat to get all the protein you need.

But then simple maths tells you, it adds a lot to your calories as veg food is typically low in protein (rice) or high in calories (peanuts).

If you are targeting 80gm of protein (should be ok for most adults), then this table shows you the vital stats

ItemGms to consumeCalories added!
Chicken Breast, no oil320275
Peanuts, raw2301300
Rice, cooked, white2,200!2,800!
Salmon, raw300425

As you can see, you simply cannot eat rice and expect 100% protein coverage unless you are eating so much that it is impractical. Of course, no one eats so much rice, they combine it with veggies etc.

But it does illustrate the fact that eating meat/fish gets you the protein 'cheap' in terms of calories. For those with sedentary lifestyles, that is important. A farmer can probably get by eating a lot of rice and very little meat, because he works his extra calories off.

The other fact is that eating peanuts (or any other nut), more than a handful can load you up with lots of protein, but even more calories. Mind you, these are for raw peanuts, and the numbers go up if you fry or roast them in oil!

And, in case you think 200 gms of peanuts is a lot, it is less than 2 cups, so it is easy to swallow that many with drinks.

Looking at the table, it is also easy to see why the reverse is also true - it is easy to overload yourself with a lot of protein, which the body has to dispose of, by destroying calcium from our bones...which is why milk drinking societies, ironically, have high levels of bone fractures and poor bone health. For example, a typical serving of a few tuna or salmon sashimi pieces, the healthiest of the lot, can easily take care of half your protein needs. Which means almost all the other meat you eat during the day simply goes 'waste' and destroys valuable calcium and overall health in the process. That is because you do get protein from other food you eat, even if the rest of the day is meat free. That is rarely the case for most folks in rich countries and rich folk in all countries.

I am not suggesting one diet or the other, particularly no fad diet, but is important to keep in mind the 'mathematics' of how calories, protein (and other nutrients) and quantity of food consumed interact and influence each other. And keep your eyes peeled for inadvertent excess consumption of any particular item.

Also, when you read sweeping statements on the web such as 'lean meat is ok' or 'you get all the protein you want eating spinach' and 'nuts are a great source of nutrients', just think about how much, how often and more importantly, how that impacts your calorie balance and whether it is practically possible to each so much or so little.

For example, milk gives you Vitamin D, yes, but to get your daily dosage, you have to drink tens of glasses while standing under the sun for a few minutes would do a better job with zero calories!

Jan 29, 2013

In trying to control hardware, M$ may lose out on software too!

Microsoft's recent troubles are well known. It's Windows 8 release is a disaster and its latest phone OS is limping along, with performance that can be called 'better' only in comparison to abysmal performance of its earlier avatars. It seems to have an uncanny knack of picking losers, what with B&N for readers and Nokia for phones! Dell could be next.

Coming to hardware, it seems big M attempts to mimicking Apple and wants to control the hardware to get a better grip on software sales and the 'ecosystem'. In the process, it is pissing off many hardware OEMs, that is too well known by now.

What my happen is that Windows itself may lose market share and mind share, taking M$'s grand hardware plans down with it.

Its crippled yet costly Windows RT is as good as dead. And its Windows 8 'pro' machines are horribly overpriced for doing 80-90% of the things users do with it (emails, browsing, basic photo editing, social media, basic word processing or spreadsheets, Corporate HTML5 based business applications etc). Hardcore techies and consultants would need them for sure, perhaps web designers, Autocad users and so forth...but that is not a mass market. That is a niche Sun and so many others got pushed into, before dying, ironically by M$!

Already Samsung, Acer, Lenovo, and now HP are offering Chromebooks. Unless paid big $$$ out of Microsoft's abundant cash reserves, Dell would be stupid not to do the same. Who is left? Asus and the Japanese firms like Toshiba and Sony. They go for the high end, exactly the market M$ is trying to grab for itself.

If cloud is the future and HTML5 is the interface of choice, not Java, not proprietary Windows, then it is predictable that a cloud based, open OS like Chrome is the future too. Just as Google took pieces of Java ME which was languishing in the user space and made it hugely popular as Android by marrying it to Linux, it may end up doing exactly the same with Linux as ChromeOS. That is hugely creditable considering so many failed in that attempt, including IBM, Ubuntu, Redhat and others.

That will cook a lot of gooses.

Jan 28, 2013

Apple's disgusting and abonimable behaviour comes to light

Steve Jobs may be dead, but the behaviour Apple as a company inherited from him is still alive. Karma is a bitch and it has now beaten Apple stock black and blue while Samsung's has been rising.

But this post is about a different matter.

Apple had been threatening Palm, a pioneer and truly innovative maker of handhelds with lawsuits - using its patent portfolio to attack the rival and prevent Apple employees from joining Palm. I have used Palm phones and PDAs back when Apple was not even making phones. They were not only a delight to use but need not be charged twice a day. In fact, I used to charge them hardly twice a week with good usage in between. A lot of the so-called innovations that we see in smartphones today was pioneered by Palm.

Read all about it in this has come out as part of a lawsuit

Jobs, in a vicious attack that is so typical of him, stoops low, and threatens Palm by bragging about his superior financial resources..

I’m sure you realize the asymmetry in the financial resources of our respective companies when you say: “We will both just end up paying a lot of lawyers a lot of money.”

Is that Michael Corleone or a responsible corporate citizen speaking there?

Read the ex-Palm CEO's affidavit here

There is a way out

What the Judge in this case, or in any other case that involves any violation of law or using threats and blackmails by Apple is proved, is to impose upon Apple tens of billions of dollars in fine, that would effectively wipe out its cash reserve. 

Jail terms for its senior executives should also be seriously considered as part punishment for such intimidation. (In case you feel that is outrageous, actually Apple has shown the way, filing criminal charges against a small Spanish company and its executives, in a patent / copyright case, threatening them with arrest. That case was thrown out. So don't waste your sympathies). 

That and only that, will stop such threats from being used in future.