Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Hyderabad Golconda Fort

A Visit to Golconda Fort

After a pretty long time, I went on a short trip with friends. Last time I went on outing was when I was in Chennai and we’d gone to Pondichery on my bike. That was a nice drive though my bike had speed limitations owing to its lesser displacement. That time we had no multimedia device to take snaps. I familiarized myself with the key locations and linking roads in Pondy.

Last weekend myself and two of my room mates, Nitin Rawal and Pradeep, went on a casual visit to Golconda fort. We spent only few hours there and had to leave early due to the possibility of a heavy rain. We didn’t hire any guide to explain the historical importance of the fort, just walked all the way to top and walked back, looking around and taking snaps with Pradeep’s Cannon Digicam.

As I am also reading a book by Jack Welch, I could sense one thing: Several centuries ago, a king’s success was measured by how he expanded his empire, how many forts he built, how many wars he fought. Today, in the corporate world, success is measured by how high you reach in your career, and how long you stay in the top position, the revenue you generate, the mergers and acquisitions you make and the increase in market capitalization of your company. Both then and now, there’re people who knew no boundaries.

Posting some pictures of the fort, hope you like them. I think there's a limitation on number of snaps I can add to a post. Have some more snaps to share but couldn't add them here. Will investigate a better option to share those images and update you.

Updated 24th Nov: Catch the slideshow of photos here:

Golconda Fort hyderabad Half way through the steps...

Golconda Fort The concept of aerial attack was unknown those days (13th century). So building a fort on top of a hill would give long range visibility and protection...

Shrinidhi Hande at GolcondaOne side of the fort is Busy Hyderabad city. On the other side is total greenery, as if its a forest...
End of the day I desperately felt the need for having a high end multimedia device of my own. A good camera or a phone with camera, probably a sony ericsson or a Nokia N Series... Though I can afford them considering postponing their purchase as far as possible. Of late several of my investments backfired and what I thought as assets turned out to be liabilities. So it wont be wise to invest in one more liability...

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Software As A Service (SAAS)

Software As A Service

Tough time ahead for those who are used to pirated softwares. Most of the Software vendors worldwide, spearheaded by Giant Microsoft, are moving towards Software As A Service (SAAS) concept as against current practice of COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) product.
What is this SAAS? Software As A Service concept involves giving software for a small but regular fee (call it rent if you wish) instead of selling it for a one time payment.
Before describing on SAAS few lines on existing trend: The software (Games, OS, Applications, Music etc) is sold as COTS in CDs and DVDs.

The problem here was two fold:
Piracy: For every genuine copy of software sold, there'll be hundred copies generated illegally using CD and DVD Writers and circulated among people, without any benefit reaching the owner of that intellectual property. The mechanisms to prevent contents from copying have by and large failed and piracy was killing the industry

Upgradation: Most of the individual, though buy genuine copy once do not bother to buy upgraded versions. Windows 98 was so popular and good enough for basic usage that people seldom bothered to buy next versions of Windows. Though some products come with expiry period, people often find ways to keep it working by manipulating various parameters and settings

So in both the above cases, the company selling the software would loose considerable revenue.
How SAAS overcomes this?

In SAAS, you pay for software when you use it. Once you start a SAAS application, vendor will be alerted that you've started using it. Calculating how long you've used it and what all the features you've used, you'll be billed proportionately. For example, till now you were buying Windows XP Professional OS buy paying a one time amount of say Rs 5000, now onwards, for Windows Vista you will have to pay a small amount every time you use it, instead of one time payment.

SAAS depends heavily on internet. It's not possible to use SAAS on internet disabled machines (as per my knowledge). Every time you use SAAS application you'll be authenticated. Because of this, even if you get a copy of the software, you won't be able to use it unless you connect to vendor server via internet, which implies you'll need proper genuine identification every time and will be billed

Let's analyze the pros and cons of SAAS

For the Vendor:
1. Regular income
2. Freedom from Piracy
3. Full control on pricing and usage (Vendor can change the pricing, update product features and collect usage data effortlessly)

For the consumer:
1. No need to pay heavy one time price
2. Regular product update and live support
3. Pay as you use. If you don't use it for some time or certain specific features of a software you need not pay for it.
4. Very economical if you need the product only for short term

For the Vendor:

1. Stand alone machines without internet connection can't use SAAS products
2. Have to ensure customer satisfaction all the time. Anytime customer may stop using the product and stop paying for it.
For the Consumer
1. SAAS will be expensive for long run (if you plan to use a product for lifetime, one time payment for COTS will be economical)
2. Piracy impossible
3. Will be under the mercy of vendor (Vendor may change pricing, force you to go for an upgrade, may choose to stop support etc)
4. Live internet connection will be needed
5. Vendor may silently collect usage data and user data
6. Just like your monthly electricity bill, you'll have to keep paying your monthly software usage bill (Though this can be automated)

However SAAS depends heavily on internet connectivity. Unless number of computers with internet connectivity increases SAAS can't proliferate well.

We'll have to wait and watch

End of Post:Thanks for reading. Similar posts on technical topics:
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Leave your feedbacks please...that'll help me improve

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Branded or Local?

This post aims to help you decide between a branded product from a showroom and an unbranded item in a street side shop when you go out to buy something. 

This post is not for rich people who have enough money to spend on branded items. This post is for middle class people who operate under a constant pressure to cut cost but do not want to compromise on quality of the goods and value for money aspects.

For the purpose of brevity, I restrict myself to two types of products- apparels (dress materials and related accessories) and electronic goods/consumer durables. Other products will not be discussed in specific but whatever said about above two will apply by and large to other products as well.

When you go out to buy a dress or an electronic item, you have by default two options: Go to the showroom which sells the item you want or go to a local market and pick up an unbranded product from a road side seller.

Let us examine the merits and demerits of the two:
Branded Goods from company showroom or authorized retailer:


1.You get the bill or proof of purchase. This way you pay tax, fulfill your obligation as a citizen and the receipt will be of great help if your product proves to be defective.
2.Branded goods generally (not necessarily always) go through a quality control process and hence they’re generally more durable
3.Most of the branded goods come with warranty, theoretically ensuring that you get piece of mind for a given period if something goes wrong. They’ll have nationwide network of sales and service centers and generally you can get your product repaired/replaced anywhere if something goes wrong
4.The probability of cheating in terms of price and quality is less. Most of the time (I repeat, most of the time, not always) the prices are fixed and all customers, irrespective of their bargaining abilities, pay the same amount. 

5.Discounts if any will be well publicized and everyone knows about it.
6.Lots of value added services like-telephone/internet inquiries and purchases, door delivery, after sales on-site support etc will be available
7.Branded goods give you better recognition in your peer group
8.You can use credit/debit card or cheque and keep a better proof of payment.
9. Finance option may be available
10.You get a bill, hence pay tax (in ideal conditions) and contribute to nation building.
11. Some shops might offer reward/loyalty programs, which might be beneficial at times.
Cons:1.When you buy at a showroom , without your knowledge you pay for these operating overheads in addition to production and distribution cost of the product:
a. Advertisement cost-Both of local shop and that of manufacturer
b. Royalty paid for brand ambassadors of the brand
c. Salaries of sales men and sales girls in the shop
d. Electricity, rent and other expenses of running a shop
e. Profit margins-of local shop as well as that of manufacturer
f. Tax amount on all these
g. R & D cost of the product (If you’ve observed, the product cost comes down once sufficient number of units are sold and manufacturer recovers his R & D expense on the product)
h. Brand cost (Some of the companies outsource manufacturing to other companies, buy from them, put their own label and sell under their brand name)
i. As an end customer, I’ve no interest in making likes of Sachin Tendulkar and SRK richer by paying more money to the product they’re endorsing. If I can save on these above costs I’ll be happy.
2. Branded goods will always be expensive, even after heavy discounts they boast of, compared to price of a non branded item.
3. Most of the branded items comes with fixed price tag and are non negotiable in this aspect.

Unbranded Goods at street side shops:


1. More you can negotiate more you save
2.The expense and profit margins of these sellers will be low, hence they can sell real cheap.
3. Most of the overheads mentioned in Cons section of banded items are avoided in non branded items and the most of the advantage is passed on to you (usually)
4. I’ve found many (not all) people in unorganized market who give more value to customer satisfaction than money. These people are real hard workers, committed and their product/services are more reliable than branded shops.
5. If you’re a regular visitor, owners of unbranded shops treat you with more royalty, personal attention and discount, than a famous branded shop that has thousands of visitors daily
Cons:1. No bill, no warranty, no assurance. Though mutual warranty is provided that he’ll replace the product if defective, to what extent they fulfill their obligation varies.
2. Different people pay different price for same product depending on their negotiation ability. You’ll feel cheated when another person buys it for a lesser amount.
3. No branches or service network. You’ll have to go back to the same vendor where you bought it, for any problem
4. No quality assurance, No legal action can be taken against the vendor as you’ll have no proof of purchase.
5. These vendors are irritating to avoid. Once you ask price they’ll insist that you buy. Often use lots of cheap tricks to convince you into buying.
6. If you do not know much about the product and price range, you’ll fail to check the product thoroughly before buying and won’t be able to bargain to a reasonable price. This makes you more susceptible to cheating.
7. Chances that a second hand/defective/stolen product is sold as new ones are high.
8. No tax goes to government


There’s no conclusion. After analyzing above pros and cons you can judge where you want to go. It often depends on situation and your wallet size.
Relative analysis:

In my experience, during past one year, I’ve observed that un branded footwear that I bought at local shops for price range between rs 250 to 350 have served me well for more than six months (extended to few more months with minor repairs). So, if I have to buy a branded shoe at Rs 800-900 Rs, the expected relative life span should be around 18 moths. If the branded shoe doesn’t last 18 moths, it makes more sense to but 3 pairs of un-branded shoes instead.

In situations where we need after sales service, say a suitcase which you’ll be carrying along when you travel, a branded product will give you more peace of mind as its less prone to damage and service centers will be available in all city

When it comes to cloths, if the sole objective is to cover your body, any ordinary one will do. But we buy cloths for various occasions and purposes and one may expect many more benefits from your cloths
(like clearing an interview, impressing someone, making everyone envy about the new design or fashion etc etc). Money can take backseat when these expectations are to be met.

When you don’t know much about the product, choosing a branded one will be lot more useful. This’s true mainly for electronic items. A branded showroom is less likely to cheat you with a defective product and you can approach a consumer forum if needed. The additional amount you pay can be justified this way.

When there’s a quality/legal issue: buying illegal CDs, DVDs, or vehicles without proper documents or poor quality food products will create lot of complications hence not recommended.

Tell me what you think about it

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Other posts where I've compared different things:Soft Drink vs Natural Drink
Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore: A comparision of 3 cities