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Friday, August 31, 2007

Yaari, Desktopdating and other ill mannered websites

Major Udate: Aug 2008: Lots of readers are landing here while searching for desktopdating. This post has no information as to what desktop dating is. Last year while I was writing this post, www.desktopdating.com had a decent login page which invited visitors to signup by giving their email ID and email password (subsequently spamming all contacts in their addressbook). At present this site shows links to some adult content and should be avoided.

Also Yaari.com has changed its user interface and now sharing email password is not mandatory, though you're tempted to do so. This is a good development and my below post is now rendered somewhat redundant.

------------- Original Post begins -----------------

An observation which I call a side effect of Web2.0 concept, many of the community websites are openly misusing web service technology to increase their member base by invading everyone’s privacy under false identity.

If the opening sentence appears confusing, read this:
You get a mail which says “ABC wants you to join Yaari.com, click here to Join Yaari.com else ABC may think you said NO to his/her request” (See image). You know that person, so click YES or ACCEPT and you’re taken to registration page of that website, where you’re required to enter your email password besides other details. Without knowing the impact, you provide your email password as well and proceed with browsing the site. Next moment, everyone in your email contact book get an invitation, saying you’ve invited them to join YAARI.com…Later say while chatting, you tell ABC that you’ve accepted his/her Yaari.com invitation, he/she says he/she never sent you any invitation at all.
Yaari.com invite
If you’ve experienced above scenario, you might be wondering why this is happening or what is going on. This post gives you full details.

What is happening behind the screen?
With the advent of technology, application to application communication has become extremely easy. Once you enter your email password at Yaari.com (or any other such sites) following happens:
YAARI.com will electronically approach your email service provider and says the following: “See, I’ve been authorized by Mr. ABC to enter his/her mailbox and collect email IDs in his/her address book. I have his/her password as well, if you wish to verify. ”
The email client is thus fooled into believing that you’ve really authorized Yaari.com (because password is found valid) and gives all email addresses in your address book to Yaari.com. Next moment Yaari got what it wanted, it sends invitation to all these addresses under your identity saying you want them to register at Yaari.com (while you’re not even aware what is going on). Most of them register with Yaari, give their email passwords and the chain grows exponentially.

This ill mannered behavior is quite common in most of today’s community websites, who desperately need member base to survive and not many people will register at these sites under normal conditions, since there’s nothing much unique about them or there’re dozens of other websites are in place already offering similar services. So they resort to this kind of cheap tactics.

How come most reputed email service providers like Gmail, Yahoo and MSN be so careless and let such blunders happen?

This happens because they are service enabled. The original intention of enabling web service was to facilitate application to application interaction, so that the need for manual intervention is eliminated and life gets simplified for end user. There are enough authentication mechanism in place but above said websites cunningly bypass these measures.


Besides yaari.com there’re several such websites which are involved in similar fraud. Some of them are Gazag, desktopdating etc (Gazag atleast allows you to skip the step of sharing your email ID)

Just to check how responsive they are, one month ago I sent to two mails to Yaari…One to help@yaari.com asking them to allow me explore their site without having to share my email password, other to abuse@yaari.com asking them why is that I’ve got an invitation while my friend says he never sent any invitation. As expected, I’ve not received any response till date.

Further, if you care to read carefully, it is very much official that Yaari is intruding privacy. Below is the text which appears right below Yaari registration page. (How many of us ever read terms of service and privacy policies anyway?)

“By registering for Yaari and agreeing to the Terms of Use, you authorize Yaari to send an email notification to all the contacts listed in the address book of the email address you provide during registration. The email will notify your friends that you have registered for Yaari and will encourage them to register for the site. Yaari will never store your email password or login to your email account without your consent. If you do not want Yaari to send an email notification to your email contacts, do not register for Yaari.

Because you’ve bothered to register they have taken for granted that you like their site very much and want to invite all your contacts to join you at yaari…That is really an extremely ill mannered behaviour.

Thumb rules while registering with Social networking sites:

1. Invite your friends to a site IF and ONLY if you’ve explored the sites fully and like it very much or find it really useful.

2. If you get an invitation, spare a moment and cross check with your friend if he/she has willingly sent that invitation.

3. Ideally a site should allow you to register first and then prompt you to invite your friends. If it is insisting you invite all your friends even before you complete the registration process, in all probability this site is not worth registering. (Because they doubt you’ll never invite any one after registering, hence forcing you to share your email passwords.)

4. Do not fall for temptations like iPod or other gifts some sites might be offering for referring friends. 99% cases you won’t be getting any. Decide which one you value more-a friend whose email ID you’ll be compromising upon or the small gift you may win…

5. We practically don’t need dozens of social networking sites. One or two at the most would be more than sufficient.

6. Think 100 times before sharing your email password with unknown sites. It invades others privacy at the risk of your credibility. Imagine the embarrassment it will cause when such invitations go to your boss, clients, business contacts etc…


Related: Orkut and Employee Productivity| Orkut as a marketing tool* Missing features in our social networking sites * how google can make orkut a better place

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Blog Review and Blog Poll…

RT Cunningham has reviewed my blog [link here] and has made some serious observations on the blog design and layout.

I thank him for being frank and straightforward in his opinion and agree with most of his observations. None of the other visitors had written any serious comments on this blog layout so far, so I didn’t have a third party opinion on the same till date. RT’s review made me have a second look.

Based on his observations and my own thinking, I’m in the process of implementing some changes to the layout. Hope the results will be appealing to all.

Please drop a comment if you have anything to suggest/criticize about this blogs usability, title, colour combinations, sidebar contents and organizations, what is missing and what redundant etc. That will help me improve.

In recent past I’ve removed several widgets (Google translator, a world map with visitor locations in it, a widget that showed how many live visitors are on this page this very moment etc) as I felt they are not adding value to the visitors and unnecessarily increase site loading time. I also tried social bookmarking icons (digg, stumble etc) but removed them after a month or so as most of visitors hardly use any of them and these widgets put a load on bandwidth. Do you think they are worth re introducing? Give me your suggestion…

Blog poll:
Since blogger introduced a polling page element, I ran a poll to findout the popularity of this blog. Thanks to all of you who have voted. Not all who visit the blog vote…I get over 150 visitors per day but got only around 70 votes till date. I’m closing that poll now and here are the final results:

Excellent: I keep visiting often : 33 (47%)

Good enough: I like it : 25 (35%)

Average: You can improve a lot : 3 (4%)

Ok Ok Type-Just another blog : 2 (2%)

I don’t like it-Not useful at all :7 (10%)

While majority of you have given positive opinion, few didn’t like at all. I’ll be thankful if you can drop a comment as to what you liked and what you didn’t like in this blog (Use anonymous comments option): Is it the content? Length of articles/blog layout/colors/style of writing/usefulness of facts and figures/frequency of posts/widgets used…

Note: I've enabled comment moderation to prevent spam comments I've been getting of late. bear with me for the inconvenience this may cause till I find a better alternative.

Help me improve. Leave a comment. Thanks in advance.

How to blog in Kannada (and Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and other regional languages?)

Of late few people were landing in this blog trying to find out how to blog in Kannada (or other regional languages like Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam for that matter).

This post gives some basic information related to writing in Kannada, Telugu, Tamil etc and is for the benefit of such individuals who want to blog (or just type) in regional languages. Those who are already aware of this please ignore this post (will be good if you can read and give extra tips, if any...)

Now onwards I’ll be giving instructions keeping Kannada language in mind. Similar steps can be used for other languages.

How do I blog in Kannada? ಕನ್ನಡದಲ್ಲಿ ಬ್ಲ್ಲಾಗು ಬರೆಯುವುದು ಹೇಗೆ?

First, register and start a blog with blogger or wordpress etc. These popular hosts will not provide a plug-in or utility to type your content in regional languages and you’ll have to relay on third party applications/websites to type in Kannada.

Now comes three aspects:

A. You just want to publish one post in Kannada language with Kannada script
For this, you just need to type in Kannada somewhere and copy paste the text in the content box of new post.

If you have installed softwares like Baraha and Nudi, life will be much easier. You can type and save your writing at your convenience and publish when you want, by copy pasting the kannada character into blog new post page. (unicode characters can be easily copy pasted under web 2.0 platform...)

In case you’re accessing net from a system where you can’t install Baraha or Nudi or don’t want to do that each time, you can make use of web pages which allow you to do that: I like two such pages: One: http://service.vishalon.net/pramukhtypepad.htm or http://www.quillpad.com/kannada/ (both of these support several other regional languages including Hindi, Tamil, Gujarati, Marathi, Telugu etc)(Quillpad has improved a lot in past few months. Now it is possible to type Kannada English combination). Type your content here and then copy paste in blogger. In case you want to save it, send it to your gmail Id by mail.

Use this approach wherever you want to put Kannada characters-Orkut scrapbook/comments in other blogs etc..

B. You want to change entire blog layout with Kannada
Simple. For title, you can consider designing a good banner with blog title, image, description and then save this as a jpg image. From blogger dashboard, nagivate to template-Title, replace tittle with above image.

For other places (like to replace comments with “tippani” ಟಿಪ್ಪಣಿ, ಲೇಖಕರು, ವರ್ಗ etc) go to templates-edit the "posts" box, look for place where comments is there and replace it with Kannada word (type them first elsewhere as described in step A above).

Hope this helps.

For font issues: Unable to read kannada letters properly in your system? Sampada Font Help * Wikipedia font help

Also read: SEO for regional language bloggers

C: How to move articles saved in Baraha and Nudi to blogger?
coming soon

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

SNOOPING

Giving below an article I wrote during my engineering days, published in Silicon Times, a Bangalore based low profile computer and technology monthly, of which I was a member of editorial board. This is a 5 page long article and might take some time to read. Lot of things have changed in past 4 years since I wrote it, still the topic bears significance.

If you wish to make a copy or take a printout to read it later, .pdf version of the article is available here.
Another related Article: Cyber Begging

SNOOPING
Published in Silicon Times, October 2003

It's a general human tendency to have curiosity in the matters totally irrelevant to them. And when it comes to the Internet, this tendency always multifold

Have you ever felt that you’re being monitored? Your computer usage in particular: by your parents or employers or by some unidentified stranger. If your answer is yes then you know how troublesome it is to part with one’s privacy. If you say NO (Are you sure?), better be alert.

Is it not a matter of concern to know that your associates: parents, boss, government and law enforcing agencies included are all preparing to poke into your inbox, browser and your computer? They may have their own reasons for doing so but ultimately it’s your privacy that’s being ransacked. And the above process is called snooping.

Snooping refers to the act of unauthorized access to others database and personal information. It also covers the act of parting with confidential information (such as customer’s data) for the benefit of a third party.

Unlike its relatives-cyber stalking, cyber crime etc, snooping may not have criminal impact or assault, but nevertheless loosing one’s privacy can be equally disturbing.

There are many reasons to poke and snoop around.
Curiosity - "hum... what is that IP?"
Security - "hum... why is that IP in my firewall logs?!"
Curious programmers may have their own reasons "HUMM... Me? The 007 INTERNET SPY!!”
Inside the office-“Is that man working for my company or chatting with his girlfriend using office PC?”
Corporate intelligence-“At what rate my competitor is bidding so that I can undercut his quotation?”
Whatever your cause, be prepared to answer questions if someone traces your phone number from the IP you left on their logs...
Snooping in Office
Most employees protest against cyber snooping, but employers are firm on their stand and justify their action. Would you be comfortable if your company pries into your mail on the pretext of productivity?

It’s no more a secret, nor a surprise that companies have arrangements to monitor their employee’s computer usage- particularly the internet. The Internet has changed the cultural mindset of many.

At one time, indulging in office gossip at the canteen or the smoking bay may have been the favorite passtime of office goers. Today, chatting online and browsing through the Net have become the new favorite activity, eating into employee productivity. Reason enough for employers to monitor the Internet access of their employees. Many companies now impose a restriction on Internet access or monitor Internet usage with the stated objective of increasing productivity and work output.
Apart from blocking sites, companies can also restrict certain services. Protocols such as FTP or
Socks, which are generally used for file downloads and instant messaging, can be disabled. Some companies use dedicated firewalls for this purpose. This may reduce the Net congestion that takes place due to downloads or chatting, allowing the employee to browse the web at the same time. Employers snooping into an employee’s email are a rare case. In most cases there’ll be some filtering software which automatically blocks and sends back messages having certain key words such as "sex".

According to the Electronics Communication Privacy Act of US, employees have limited privacy rights when it comes to official mail. But various organizations are fighting for privacy protection.

The police have to obtain warrants to tap telephone conversations or steam open mail. Similar restrictions would be placed on employers in relation to e-mails sent by their staff.

But in India, in spite of the new cyber law, there exists no law which draws a line between privacy and security issues. As a result, there are no rules for cyber snooping by companies. But to be on the safer side, it is the company's obligation to verify all legal aspects before getting into employee snooping.

Of course, for every site that's banned, there are ways to get around it. Blocking sites may not solve the problem. Creating awareness about the problems faced and instilling a balance between productivity and entertainment seems a better option. Monitoring also raises the issue of democratic decision making.

After all, who decides what is good and what is bad? Open discussions and debates on such issues are therefore considered more efficient than blocking just about every site in sight.

Some of the employee monitoring softwares:
SuperScout, CyberPredator, WinGuardian, IWarden, TaskGuard2000 etc.
Competitive Intelligence
Corporate spies come in many guises, but they all have one thing in common: They want to use a company's secrets for competitive gain.
Consider these 2 examples:
1. An engineer regularly had lunch with a former boss now working for a competitor, and he fancied himself a hero as he collected rewards from management for gathering competitive intelligence. Little did he know that the information he was giving up in return caused his employer, formerly the market leader, to lose three major bids in 14 months.
2. Immigrants from Eastern Europe who were working as scientists on an American defense project kept getting unsolicited invitations from their home countries to speak at seminars or serve as paid consultants. The invitations appealed to them as scientists—they wanted to share information about their work with peers. The countries saw this kind of intelligence gathering as cheaper than research and development.

Because most organizations don't have a means of tracking the loss of proprietary information; they go on constantly hemorrhaging, constantly losing market share. Gradually it takes the vitality out of the organization because it's hard to invent and create things faster than people are leaking it or stealing it. It might be seen as, but can’t be ignored as “just bad luck in business”.
Fortunately, hanging onto proprietary information—whether it's a trade secret or just a few strategic details that may seem inconsequential—isn't just about luck. It's about understanding the dark forces that are trying to get information from a company and piece it together in a useful way. Some of these forces come in the guise of "competitive intelligence" researchers who, in theory anyway, are governed by a set of legal and ethical guidelines carefully wrought by the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP). Others are outright spies, hired by competitors or even foreign governments, who'll stop at nothing—bribes, thievery, a pressure activated tape recorder hidden in the CEO's chair and so on.

But its bad luck that adds up to billions of dollars each year for U.S. businesses, according to a survey done by the American Society for Industrial Security. The 138 companies that responded to the September 2002 survey reported that the loss of proprietary information, often in the form of research and development or financial data, cost them at least $53 billion in 2001 alone.
Online Privacy
Watch out: the e-mail entering your inbox might be loaded with software that lets marketers track your moves online, and you may not even be aware that you've been bugged.
Almost all Web sites plant bits of code called "cookies" on consumers' hard drives for regular invigilation of Internet pages for returning visitors and better target ads. Now, enhanced messages that share the look and feel of Web pages are being used to deliver the same bits of code through email, in many cases without regard for safeguards that have been developed to protect consumer privacy on the Web.
However cookies can’t be a serious threat to your privacy since they can be barred. Some e-mail programs already include settings allowing consumers to block cookies. Microsoft's Internet Explorer 6.0, for example, offers controls for cookies on the Web and via the company's Outlook and Outlook Express e-mail programs. Turning on the "prompt for cookies" setting can reveal the stunning extent of the problem, unmasking unsolicited HTML e-mail messages that try to lay down cookies on a hard drive.

Have you experienced this? You buy a mobile connection filling a form containing your personal details. Within hours of activation of your connection, the first person to call you on your mobile will be none other than a salesman or insurance advisor or a marketing representative. Ask him from where he got your number and he’ll hang up. You need not wonder! It’s a part of “terms and conditions” that your cell operator (or any other business firm for that matter) insist that it’s entitled to use your personal information.

To be sure, some retailers are starting to refer to e-mail monitoring in privacy policies.
Amazon.com, for example, mentions that it may use tracking methods via e-mail to determine preferences for future communications. Still, privacy advocates said e-mail privacy practices are largely under-disclosed compared with other media such as the Web.
Well. For all the bluster about online privacy, most of us don't care that much. Consider:
1. AmericanGreetings.com, a top-20 Web site, has a privacy policy click-through rate of just .009 %( i.e. % of people going through its Privacy policy while signing up). So low it's barely statistically significant.
2. E-tailers such as LLBean.com, Ticketmaster Online-Citysearch and Bloomingdales.com tell you right up front that your data is given to partners. And people buy things from them all the time.
3. About.com ranks as the seventh most popular Web site, logging 50 million visits in August. But only 20,550, or about .04%, clicked on the company's privacy link.
Most of us are not serious about online privacy. Mainly because it hasn’t caused much damage compared to the impact of virus, cyber stalking and other dangerous devils of the internet. But the irritation and mental disturbance it can give can be equally severe.
Data Protection:
The importance of data privacy is growing. In the past, it was possible to maintain reasonable control over who could view data because access tended to be available only through individual systems and applications with a known set of users. Rarely was there a need to distinguish between those who could update data and those who could view it, as they were usually be the same people. As a result, security breaches were relatively rare.
But advances in technology have brought about new problems. Data can now be downloaded locally from spreadsheets and databases, various middleware products can transfer data between applications or to local datamarts, and data warehousing has made it possible to assemble data accessible by many people in an organisation. In most cases, these technologies were deployed without any thought about security.
The internet further extended the use of shared data through credit card details and e-mail addresses, and increased the importance of data privacy. Few people are happy at the idea of their e-mail address being freely distributed and everyone who enters their credit card details on the internet expects the information to be held securely. Will it be? Is the question

Threats to data protection:
1. Destruction-physical destruction of vital information assets using conventional weapons.
2. Disruption-electronic disruption using non-conventional weapons, viz. EMP (electromagnetic
pulse), DEW (directed energy weapons), etc.
3. Data manipulation-computer viruses, worms, Trojans, and other malicious software.
4. Data interception-sniffers and other 'snooping' techniques to intercept confidential information.
5. Chipping-malicious software embedded surreptitiously in systems.
Firewalls are what comes to one’s mind on the thought of security but a firewall, however, is not impregnable. There isn't a firewall that a group of experts can't get around, despite the increasing sophistication of firewall defenses. In the eternal war between hackers and defenders, the defenders have to be lucky all the time, hackers just once.

State sponsored Snooping.
Since past 3 years net service providers in the UK were obliged to carry out surveillance of some customers' web habits on behalf of the police.
Controversial laws passed in 2000 oblige large communications companies to install technology that allows one in 10,000 of their customers to be watched.
The controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act was passed in October 2000 and gave law enforcement agencies sweeping powers to snoop on the electronic lives of citizens.
In simplest words it's the internet equivalent of a telephone tap.
It also demands that service providers start monitoring a customer within 24 hours of being told that the police or other investigation agencies want to snoop on them.
The information gathered about what people look at on the web, the content of e-mail messages and their phone conversations would be passed to the police or a government monitoring station.
The bush administration in U.S also has similar law in force, with an official purpose of monitoring terrorist activities. FBI (Federal Bureau of Intelligence) has its own infamous Internet surveillance program called Carnivore.

Conclusion
The positive aspect of Snooping can be as an anti-terror panacea to lawmakers, a way of increasing productivity for employers, and so on.
On the other hand it’ll also enable people to steal critical information and data and spy out to name a few.
It’s not possible to eliminate snooping completely. It also doesn’t mean that you stay helpless while being snooped. Everyone can protect themselves to a considerable extent. All one needs to do is to adopt some simple practices.
The future of electronic communication now rides on striking a workable balance between giving crime-fighting tools to the government and privacy guarantees to netizens.
SHRINIDHI H

Another related Article: Cyber Begging

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Shrinidhi in ETV Show-Recorded video

Quick Summary: Shrinidhi Hande had participated in a television show in 2002 and you can see the video recording of that show and related details in this post. (if you have time read the related text, else scroll down to watch videos)
Clip 1

Background Information:
Shrinidhi Hande still photo from ETV KAnnada show
This was long overdue. Most of you might have seen my blogger profile picture and would have noticed ETV logo in the same and might be wondering if it is a digitally tampered image…Trust me, it is not. Way back in 2002, I had participated in a television show and this post is to share with you the recorded video of the same and related details.
Clip 2

What was this show?
The program was titled Yuva Chavadi (Kannada for: Youth forum (not exactly though-chavadi means a place where people gather together and discuss)) It is basically a debate show. One topic is selected and people speak for and against it. There is no winners as such. The host, Aparna consolidates the points and ends the discussion. This show used to get telecasted every Monday night 10 pm and a repeat telecast next Monday.
Clip 3

What did you speak?
The topic was “is population explosion a boon or bane?” Pretty common topic on which one would have written hundreds of essays and given lots of speeches since childhood. I choose to say “Population Explosion is not a curse and is in fact an asset”. Defending that was a challenge given that we’ve been made to believe population is a curse for this country.

Will publish English transcript soon.

About the video:
The program was for 30 mins. After deducting commercials etc, actual show was around 21 mins. Since you tube allows only 10 min max, I had to split the full video into 3 different files. (using Windows Movie Maker). But .wmv files are quite large and I'm having problem

How did you manage to get this opportunity?
Sequence of events that led to me participating in this show:

It was a Friday during Jan/Feb 2002, I was glancing through Prajavani, the then most popular Kannada daily in Karnataka (Now Vijaya Karnataka leads). There was a small article which invited interested individuals to apply for a debate show on ETV. I used to consider myself good at debates and speeches hence applied.

Few days later got a call to attend screening at Maharani Ammanni college Malleshwaram. I went there on the scheduled date and time, was asked to speak about population explosion, I spoke well and was told that result will be conveyed soon.

Few days later I got a message that I need to call one concerned person and eventually I was conveyed that I’ve been selected for the show and I need to go to Kanteerava Studio at Laggere, Bangalore for recording of the show. I was also asked to bring any one or two of my friends as audience.

After checking availability with couple of people, my JNVC classmate NR Bhat choose to join me. We traveled all the way to Laggere…and after waiting till evening, our turn came. I was participant in one of the episode and I also sat as an audience in one of the other episode.

The show was eventually telecasted during June 2002.

Did they give the CD containing the show? No. They didn’t even tell when it will be telecasted. I requested one of my relatives to record it for me.

You got any prize?
No. A gift voucher worth rs 250 which I could use to buy books at Sapna Book House. Plus free lunch and Rs 50 for conveyance.

What else?
I could have spoken with more clarity at the show, but couldn’t. Bit of excitement and that there was no chance to rehearse... It was great experience and lifetime memory to remember. Now sharing with you all…

Acknowledgement:
ETV Kannada for the lifetime opportunity
Mr. Putraya Bhat and family, Bangalore-For recording the program live from TV
Mr. Laxminarayan Bhat and family, Bangalore: for the newspaper in their home which triggered this process
NR Bhat: Giving me company

Related: Kannada articles that were published in media: on petrol marketing|Award winning poem and other articles|

Radios are not that cheap

Quick Summary: This post does a very brief comparison of FM and AM radios.

With the rapid fall in prices of consumer electronics and home appliances, I was expecting portable radios to be pretty cheap. But recently found that they aren’t.

Phillips portable radio (AM and FM, not just FM) still costs Rs. 525 onwards, while entry level mobiles are available for an almost similar amount.

Why so?
There’re not many manufacturers who are still selling analog radio. With the advent of FM radio stations and since radios are coming built in with mobiles, mp3 players etc, there’s hardly any market left for Amplitude Modulation. However, reach of FM stations are confined to city limits and AM relays by All India Radio (AIR) stations are still is a major source of news and entertainment in most of the rural areas.
Private FM channels do not have permission to broadcast news and are focused primarily on entertaining youth in metros by playing filmi music and airing shows aimed at urban audience and grabbing commercials from establishments operating in the city.

But conventional AIR stations still operate with general rural public in mind, airing agricultural advice, railway news, medical help lines, devotional and patriotic songs etc.

Hence I feel it may be premature to say FM and AM are at war, since they serve two different categories of people. Nevertheless I wish AM radios become a bit cheaper…

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Supermarket Super savings-A word of Caution

We have hundreds of supermarkets in the city, each competing with each other by offering great discounts, free items. So when you buy something from there you should get whatever discount they have declared. But the question is will you actually get it?

What do you mean? Of course I get the discounts as promised when I buy and pay the bill…

Are you sure? Think again. I have observed and experienced several times that there’ll be small differences in what price and offer displayed at the rack and what amount is shown in the cash bill. This difference is pretty small indeed and no one will notice unless you cross check each item and amount carefully.

In other words, the displayed price doesn’t get mentioned in the cash bill and you will be paying more than what you thought you will pay for an item.

When you buy 10-20 items totaling say a thousand rupee, you may never notice that an item or two were billed 10-20 rupees extra than its listed price. Because there’ll be a big queue of people behind you at the billing counter, you may not have the time and patience to counter verify your items, bill and amount. So chances are that you might sometimes loose few extra rupees for no apparent reason.

Why does it happen?
*Probably the store’s computers are not updated with the latest prices that are quoted in the promos.
*Probably the counter executive accidentally entered wrong information (item/quantity)
*May be the software used did malfunction
*Or may be the counter executive intentionally made an attempt to take advantage of the situation and knowingly billed you extra


My experience in this regard:
1. Way back in 2004: Big Bazaar Bangalore: I bought a shirt which was tagged Rs 150, but I was billed at Rs 175. When I brought this to the notice of store rep, I was asked to contact the customer support cell, who offered me with a coupon which they said I can use within 7 days when I shop next time. I insisted on cash refund and it took 30 minutes to get that Rs 25 back.

2. Very recently, Trinetra Hyderabad (the outlet on Bombay highway between Tolichowki and Kondapur... Good day biscuits were being sold at a discount-but this discount was not reflected in my bill. I told the same to the billing lady, she said “sir that offers is not for cashew flavor sir but for some other one…” I went back to the rack, detached that sticker which had listed the discount (MRP Rs 12, Offer Price Rs 11.10) in front of the lady and then only she agreed to refund 2 rupees to me (I’d bought 2 packets)

3. Himalalya Book World, Panjagutta Hyderabad: I bought just one pencil (worth Rs 2) along with around 10 other items. After coming home I realized that bill mentioned a pack of pencil priced at Rs 20. There wasn’t much I could do to claim refund, except hoping that the store executives will refund. Nevertheless fuel expense of driving back to the store made it non viable.


What can I do if I’m cheated?
If you’re still within the premises, you can go back to the counter staff or store manager and tell him the mistake. 99.9% they will accept the error and offer to correct it. If it is the manager he will blame the billing staff for wrong entry and if it is the billing staff that you approached, he/she will blame the computer and the software inside (poor computers and software have no one to blame…). But they will usually rectify it on the spot, because your point is valid and there’ll be other customers watching.

If you realize this fraud after coming home, just try to forget it. Most of the time the extra amount paid will be very less and going back to the shop all the way won’t be worth it. Also, even if you go back there’ll be no physical evidence in most of the cases to prove that you are right and they are wrong

How to avoid this?
1. Calculate the total amount of the items you have purchased yourself (Calculator in your mobile will be handy)
2. Keep in mind the total bill amount
3. If the counter executive tells a higher amount, step aside and cross check items and amount one by one.
4. Better still, try this: As you approach the billing counter, declare the expected bill amount “346 Rupees 60 paisa”. The counter executive will get the message that if the amount exceeds one rupee more than that you are likely to cross check, and chances of cheap cheating will be less.
5. If the billing executive winks or smiles at his/her colleague while you’re making the payment, chances are that he/she is celebrating the success of cheating you. Be sure to check again.
6. Not only in supermarkets, but in hotels and other places as well little caution will save some money.


You may not face this loss all the time at all places. Since money saved is money earned, try to be careful.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

How to tell if a Tractor wheel is punctured?

"I had a flat tyre” may be the sophisticated and linguistically correct way of conveying that “My vehicle is unstable as one of the wheels has developed a hole in its tube and is unable to retain air inside”. But this phenomenon is known all over India as “Puncture”.

Very few people will be able to understand what a flat tyre means, but almost everyone throughout India, both literate and illiterate, irrespective of language/region/cultural barrier will understand the problem if you point at the wheel and say “puncture”.

I don’t think there is any substitute word in any of our regional language for the term “puncture” (Not considering lengthy phrases like “pahiye mein se hava nikal gaya” (Hindi for: air has come out of the wheel))

But then “I had a flat tyre” is quite good enough to convey your boss that you‘ll reporting be late to work.

Coming back to the title, how to detect if a tractor wheel has developed a puncture?

If you own a vehicle (bicycle included) you would have naturally faced the problem of deflated tyres and would have taken your vehicle to neared mechanic/tyre shop or such places where they fix it. For small wheels, they take out the tube, fill air, immerse it in water and check for air bubbles which would be coming out from the place where the tube would have got pierced. Then they apply a small rubber patch on that area. Simple logic.

But tractor wheels are relatively gigantic. A fully inflated tube is much bigger than the tyre which houses it. Roadside workshops can’t afford to have a water container big enough to accommodate a fully blown tractor tube. So what to do? Check the photo.

You carefully pour water on the tube and try to detect air bubble. Exercise your mind and drop a comment if you can think of a more convenient solution for this.

Also I’ve observed many shops showing a board: “Tyre Puncture shop” which literally conveys that they will puncture your tyre if you go there…Technically correct term would be “Tyre puncture repair shop” etc.

Related: eNidhi drives tractor (Video and Text)

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Fundamentals

I’m preparing a series of articles on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and this is the first one in the series.

These articles are a result of my observation, analysis, experience and study as a blogger for past one and a half years. I haven’t achieved anything significant as such in blogging but have managed to secure a PR of 3 for my blog and am getting nearly 200 hits per day at my internet blog. Through this series of articles I aim to explain my readers the concept of Search Engine Optimization. If you have a blog or website it will be useful to you. Else read it to understand how search engines work.

What is search engine optimization?

SEO is a million dollar industry on its own, with several individuals and companies full time into it offering wide range of SEO solutions.

Search Engine Optimization is all about making your blog website appear on top of search engine for a given search string. Technically, this involves understanding how search engines work and how they index the webpages for a given string, and then tweaking your website/blog accordingly so that your site gets indexed in top 10-20 results for a given search string.

What is the significance of SEO? What do I gain if my site appears in top 10?

SEO may not be of much significance for personal bloggers or non commercial websites who may not have any interest as to how many visitors visit your blog and how many of them come from search engines. But when you go commercial, SEO makes huge difference in your business.

To understand the importance of SEO better, we’ll take this example: You are running a financial company offering personal loan and have a website. Lot of people who need money search on internet for loans using strings like “personal loan”, “loan at very low interest”, “where do I get cheap loan”, “finance companies offering loan in Hyderabad” etc. Now, there’re thousands of financial institutions which offer loan and are your competitors in the business. They also have a website on net detailing their loan offers.

As an internet user when you search for something on net, you’ll check results in first page (top 10) with some interest. If you feel anyone of them suits your needs you click on it to check further. If you’re not happy with results in first page, you check few more pages and if no satisfactory results are found, you change the search strings and try again. You hardly go beyond top 30-50 results in any case, though search engine may list 10 million matches for your search.

If you haven’t got the clue, if you have a website and want to attract traffic, you need to be there in top to preferably or at least in top 50 else you’re not there. In other words, you’ll get lot of visitors to your site if your site appears in top 10 for a search string (and chances are high that many of these visits will get converted into business inquires and eventually into sales transaction, meaning lots of profit for your business). If you’re not there in top 50, you fail to gain any advantage of the power of internet and you have to depend mainly on conventional mechanisms to do business.

So, if some simple SEO strategies can help your position in search engine position and generate more business to you, why not try it out? That is the motive and business implication behind search engine optimization.

Read next part: Writing for Search engine vs writing for humans

Also read: Advantages of Live blogging an event * Live blogging tips * SEO for regional languages * Relevance of Blogging

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Rs. 10 OFF-Lifetime Offer on Samsung TV!!!

This post only shares a small observation made by the author. No offence is meant and no conclusions should be drawn about the product by reading this.

While reading newspaper on the Independence Day, I came across this ad (refer image) about Samsung Television in Times of India Hyderabad edition dated 15-Aug-2007, Page 5

I saw the field: "SPL price" which read: Rs.58990/- and then glanced above to see what the previous price was: MRP: Rs.59000/- What is the difference? Just 10 bucks. Was shocked to see the unbelievable amount of discount they were giving: INR 10 OFF on a product priced at Rs. 59000. (0.0169%) I truly couldn’t believe my eyes, as the ad claimed right in the beginning. For the sake of 60th Independence Day they could have given at least Rs 60 off, making it 0.1%

So don’t miss this lifetime opportunity…Go grad one, if you wish.

Note: That ad offers a free digicam which they claim is worth Rs 9990. But I evaluate 6 mega pixel, 3x optical zoom Samsung camera at around INR 5000, given that no accessories (Memory card, battery charger, pouch etc) are free.

Above said Rs 10 off is for 32 inch TV. For 40” TV it is Rs 5010 OFF. The ad is issued by NEXT, a chain of consumer electronics stores.

Updates: When I published this post in Mouthshut here, some readers have suggested that this is better than quoting an increased price and then showing reduced price...Others said this might be a printing mistake...

Cross posted at the Ad Critics blog

Similar: Fix this Subhiksha! | Attention AP Tourism

Related: Olumpus FE 170 video review| Ad review: Samsung next is what commercial

MoserBaer cheap CD/DVDs-Kill Piracy

This post aims to be your one stop information guide related to Moserbaer Cheap movie VCDs and DVDs.(the Hello happiness program)

Quick Jump: Pricing | Collection, Availability |Negative Aspects | Comments

You wish to watch a movie on your computer or Home theatre, what do you do?
Option 1: Buy an original VCD/DVD from a branded showroom by paying several hundred rupees (Legal high quality content but expensive)
Option 2: Buy a pirated VCD/DVD for say 50-100 Rupees or less (illegal, quality may not be good, but pretty cheap)
Option 3: Rent a VCD/DVD for Rs.15-30 approx (Usually good quality, Watch and return it (some people make a copy of it though))

Since cost is primary concern for most of middleclass people, many of us will be tempted to go for option 2 or 3 which directly or indirectly promotes piracy, when multiple illegal copies of a movie are made.

Are you aware (if you've seen thier ads on TV), original VCDs and DVDs can be purchased at the cost of pirated one? Moserbaer India (BSE:MOSR, a leading digital media manufacturer) has taken an initiative in this regard wherein they sell Full movie VCDs Rs 28 onwards and DVDs Rs 34 onwards.

What? Tell me more…Cost and Availability Go to TOP

Hindi and regional language film VCDs are priced at Rs 28, English movie VCDs are priced at Rs 49, DVDs priced at Rs 34 onwards (Regional Languages-Rs 34, English: Rs 69). The price is so aggressive that it is at par with option 2 and 3 listed above. For the price of a pirated one you get original one. Even if you thought of taking a VCD on rent and making a copy using your DVD writer, it still makes more sense to buy original one.

Where do I get them?
All leading music stores, departmental stores like Big Bazaar, even some stationary shops sell these cheap VCDs and DVDs. For entire catalog of available titles, to buy online or for exact address of outlets checkout Moserbaer Home entertainment website.

Is it profitable for Moserbear to do this?
Yes. MoserBaer has its own manufacturing unit for digital media (CDRs and DVDRs etc) so the cost of CD/DVD for them is negligible (Blank CDRs retail at around Rs 6 onwards while DVDRs retail at Rs 15 onwards. Manufacturing cost should be around 20% of that amount). The movies they sell are usually old ones which do not have much demand as such, so it makes profitable sense to sell them with very low margin.

Advantages for buyers:
1.Satisfaction of buying a legal copy
2.Good quality video, with casings (Rs 28 VCDs come in pouch while rest come in jewel case/boxes) and colour labels. CD case free if you buy 20+ VCDs online
3. No dent on pocket. Price at par with pirated or rented movies
4. Not only Hindi and English movies, but video items (movies as well as several other videos ) in several regional language (Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam etc) are also available)
5. Current offer: Free shipping and Free CD case for purchase of 20+ Units

Other things one should know:Go to TOP
1. There is a money back guarantee but not sure to what extent it is feasible. Few may be of bad quality or may not play properly if faulty. You need to take that risk.
2. Latest movies may not be available like this. Only those which are few years old are sold this way (if the movie is good and if you’ve not watched it yet it is still worth collecting it.) (Note: Some exceptions may be there: for example, "Apne" and "ek chalis ki last local", Hindi movies few months old but weren’t a success at box office, are already available with MB. Newer movies are priced few rupees higher.
3. All movies will have Moser baer watermark on it.
4. DVD-R is capable of storing more than just 1 movie, but only one movie is available per DVD.(No additional videos as well, say the making of the movie) (They could have clubbed 2-3 movies and sold for few rupees extra (It will be really convenient to have Home Alone 1, 2 and 3 or Spiderman 1 2 and 3 etc in a single disc instead of half a dozen of them)
5. Some movies may be of bad quality or have some scenes missing - Fiza VCD had a delay between audio and video-I hear the dialogs first and see lip moment few seconds later, In a Kannada Movie (Ananda Bhairavi) I faced playback control issues, Aanken VCD had last few mins of video missing.
6. Also this has triggered a direct war between moserbaer and T-Series. Even T series has started selling VCDs from Rs 38 onwards (I think they dont have a manufacturing unit to supply blank CDs, hence few bucks extra...) (I find T-series Hindi movie collection much better than moserbaer's...
7.I also learnt that Moserbaer has dedicated over 16 crore for this mission and is acquiring several small and medium recording companies. I hope this brings more and more cost advantage to cunsumers in long run.
8. I’ve observed that they are using higher capacity discs to ensure that number of discs are confined to 2. (Regular CDRs can hold 700MB data /80min video, but some moderbaer moview discs contain as much as 900MB sized .dat files) I suspect they resort to cutting few scenes if they’re still unable to fit the movie in 2 discs

My experience: I bought 3 such VCDs and 1 DVD recently from Big Bazaar (Ameerpet Hyderabad). VCDs were quite good, but I am not happy with picture quality in the DVD I bought (This might be a selective case and may not be applicable to all DVD movies. The movie was very very old and probably no DVDs were in existence that time. May be the movie was stored in DVD directly from a VHS or CD)

This is an attempt by MoserBaer to focus on volume of sale and gain profit, which is beneficial for both consumers who want genuine content at reasonable price and for companies who do not want to loose their market to piracy industry. I remember Lahari Recordings in Karnataka were selling original audio cassets for Rs 20 once a time. These moves, if become popular among masses, should help eradicate video piracy and save entertainment industry. A pirated DVD (containing 3-4 latest movies) gets sold for around Rs 40 (negotiable) at Burma Bazaar Chennai (and at similar places in other cities), hence there’s still a competition for Moserbaer. I hope people change their mind and shift towards MB.

Join Hands.
Go to TOP
Related: Lighscribe Direct Disc labeling |Software Piracy|

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Attention! A.P.Tourism

This post aims to assist AP tourism in applying a small (really small) correction related to tourist information. I found a signboard near Paradise recently which states distance between Runway 9 and Dhola-ri-Dhani is just one kilometer. See image.

Pretty small error, nevertheless it is wrong information. Runway 9 is a carting (and such entertainment spot) off Bowenpalli area while Dhola-ri-Dhani is a Rajastani theme restaurant cum resort some 7-10 kms further north-west from Runway 9 on the Nagpur Highway.

I like their punch line: AP Tourism, Happy Tourism...[AP Tourism official Website]

Similar Observation: Rs. 10 off on Samsung TV | Fix this Subhiksha |

Other posts related to Hyderabad Tourist Places:
Durgam Cheruvu | Shilparmam | Golconda Fort | Ramoji Film City | Anatagiri Hills

Other Travel/Tourism Related posts:
Hampi, Karnataka |Club Mahindra Resort Membership| Skanda Giri Hills |Bangalore-Hyderabad by Bus-Comparing various operators

Best of 2006-Quick recap of Posts

Since this blog gained some visibility and readership only in early 2007, I feel like summarizing various posts published in 2006 for the benefit of new readers. This post will also help first time visitors who will not have time to read all post individually and can pick posts that interests them from this summary.

There were over 53 posts published in 2006 and I’ve shortlisted 25 of them as good ones and explaining contents of each post in a sentence or two here. If that interests you, please click on the title to read the original post in a new window.

Also read: April-June 07 | July-Sep 07 | Oct-Nov 07

Sorted by Category
Light hearted, humor oriented posts

1. Why hate hate communities?
Genre: Generic thoughtsLength: Medium No of comments: 5Popularity-Hit

Wrote this post after getting hundreds of mails saying so and so has created so and so community in orkut with negative opinion about this and that. I felt such things can be best ignored and this post explains my stand.

2.What this Patna gentleman is going to do with Aish's skirt?
Genre: HumorLength: Medium No of comments:9 Popularity:Super Hit

Sony MAX gifted a skirt worn by Aishwarya in movie Dhoom 2 to someone from Patna. What that man could have done with her skirt? An impact analysis.

3. SMS and Win Hype
Genre:HumorLength: Short No of comments: 7Popularity:Hit

You can do wonders by sending SMS isn’t it? Read this post for a detailed analysis if it’s worth sending these commercial messages

4. My Cooking Expedition
Genre:HumorLength: Short No of comments: 7Popularity:Hit

Experiences of Cooking, during my Stay at Kottivakam, Chennai

5. Email superstition
Genre: ThoughtsLength: large No of comments: 4Popularity:Hit

Lists various email forwards people send without a second thought
Serious analysis on Business, HR and lifestyle issues

6. Why People lie?
Genre: Human RelationsLength: Large No of comments:9Popularity: hit

Explains reasons why people lie? | Kannada Version

7.Rejection Handling-Causes and Remedy
Genre: Thoughts and adviceLength: Medium No of comments:4 Popularity: Super hit

An analysis of causes of rejection and tips to handle them. Eventually became a top contender in search engine queries for rejection handling

8.Being Busy
Genre: ThoughtsLength: Short No of comments: Popularity:average

An analysis of being Busy

9.Is Metro Cash and Carry really cheap?
Genre: Cost analysisLength: Short No of comments:0Popularity:Flop

I was going through Metro Cash and Carry catalogue and observed that their pricing has nothing cheap about it.

10. About IBM Satyam takeover rumor?
Genre: StrategyLength: Large No of comments: 6Popularity: Super Hit

There was widespread rumor early 2006 that IBM is eyeing to buy Satyam Computers. Both parties have denied it and nothing has happened in past 2 years, though rumor hasn’t died completely. This post was a detailed analysis of possibilities related to this takeover rumor.

11.Pros and Cons-Branded goods vs unbranded ones
Genre: Value analysisLength: Short No of comments: 5Popularity:Hit

Compares advantages and disadvantages of buying a particular item from a branded showroom vis-à-vis a roadside vendor.

12. Should Govt withdraw sovereign guarantee from LIC?
Genre: Govt policiesLength: Short No of comments:2 Popularity: Average

Private insurance players were pressurizing govt to withdraw sovereign guarantee that Central Government was giving to LIC policy holders. An overview

13. Orkut and Employee Productivity?
Genre: Productivity issuesLength: Medium No of comments: 5Popularity:Super hit

Many IT companies started banning orkut at office, siting productivity concerns. This post explains the factors that may affect employee productivity

14.Do we need unions in IT companies?
Genre: Length: Short No of comments:1 Popularity:Average

Along with a detailed analysis, concludes there is no need for any unions in IT industry at this moment.

15. How to survey for Best employer?
Genre:ThoughtsLength: Short No of comments: Popularity:Average

How do you select best employer? Explains how Business today conducted its survey and tells why such surveys lack credibility

16. Education and Attrition?
Genre:SocietyLength: Short No of comments: Popularity:

Why some people keep jumping jobs every few months for better salaries while thousands of others wander around jobless? An introspection
Travel and tourism related posts

17. Anantagiri Hills
Genre: TrekkingLength: Short No of comments:0 Popularity: Hit

Anantagiri hills, some 100 kms off Hyderabad. We went there trekking and this post is an illustrated description of the same.
Generic and miscellaneous posts

18. Summer of 05-A modified poem
Genre:PoemLength: Short No of comments: Popularity:Flop

I made small modifications to Bryan Adam’s summer of ’60 song and published here. Written around getting a job etc

19. Roger that and other Radio Terminologies-
GenreLength: Short No of comments: Popularity:Average

Collection of all words and their meanings used in army, navy etc. (Example: Roger means “I’ve received your message and understood it”)

20. SAAS-Software As a Service
Genre:technologyLength: Short No of comments: Popularity:Average

An introduction to the concept of SAAS (Software as a service)

21. Hyd vs Chennai vs B'lore
Genre: LivingLength: Short No of comments: Popularity: Superhit


Compares several factors related to 3 south Indian cities-Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai, crafted out of my experience in these 3 cities.


22. Chennai Police and their Accent Cars
Genre: Law and OrderLength: Short No of comments: Popularity: Average

Hyundai gifted over 100 Accent cars to Chennai police, with which they can now chase law breakers, just the way their counter parts in US used to do. Nearly one year down the line, I want any of the Chennai based bloggers to take stock and write how effectively these cars are being used.

23. ?
Genre: SecurityLength: Short No of comments: Popularity: Flop



24. Asset vs Liability?
Genre : FinanceLength: Short No of comments: Popularity: Average

Which one can be called as an asset and which one is a liability? This post can help you decide that.

25.Hyd 10 Run-report?

Genre: Sports and fitnessLength: Short No of comments: Popularity: Flop

Running 10 kms for a cause…A first hand account on Hyderabad 10k run in which I participated (and ran 10kms too!)
Legend: Short: Around 500 words, Medium: 500-1500 words, Large: Above 1500 words
Comment count at the time of composing this post, including author’s replies

Also read: April-June 07 | July-Sep 07 | Oct-Nov 07

Other posts you may like:
Do you like Pepsi
Softdrinks vs natural drinks
Shilparamam

Best of 2011 * Best of 2008 

Friday, August 10, 2007

Brand building tips for Club Mahindra

Ever since I wrote a negative article on Club Mahindra here, I’m discouraging people from enrolling for Club Mahindra’s Life membership and driving away CM’s business -Many people searching about Club Mahindra land at my blog post as it is appearing almost right below Club Mahindra official website for search queries-Details here(I don’t regret that because whatever I wrote is genuine and supported by necessary evidence/reasoning) however I feel obliged to write some tips how Club Mahindra can regain lost confidence of its members. (This is fully complementary to Club Mahindra from my side).

To justify the huge amount they are charging, and to fulfill whatever they are promising before taking the money, I suggest Club Mahindra to implement the following, at the earliest:

1. Commit a minimum service guarantee to your members and define a SLA (Service Level Agreement). (Currently, members must keep paying ASF (Annual Subscription Fee) etc irrespective of usage, while Club Mahindra has no commitment on guaranteed booking). That is, if a member expresses interest to take a holiday within reasonable time (say 30-45 days in advance) Club Mahindra should ensure that the member gets a confirmed booking. If you can’t comply with the SLA you must compensate the member adequately, which should include refunding ASF and extending membership by one year besides other compensations. This is very much essential, because as a member if I’m paying several lakhs of rupees, I would like to have an assurance that I’ll be getting whatever the salesman promised me. I’ve no interest in hearing “Sorry, NO vacancy at our resorts” and excuses CM may give, however sweet and reasonable, doesn’t serve my purpose and do not compensate my loss.

2. Make it inflation free: Either remove your slogan of promising Inflation Free holidays or commit to not increasing ASF every year.

3. Have a Customer Support Cell: (and attend members’ concerns too) Focus on keeping existing members happy so that the members themselves will refer more and more people and bring business. Avoid hunting for new people to fool every time.

4. Give a withdrawal option: Give members an option to pull out of membership scheme if they wish and offer proportionate refund. This puts an obligation on you to give better service and retain them. Naturally quality of service will improve. Also when you give a cancellation option more and more people will come and join (since they have an option of canceling membership and won’t be loosing much)

5. Do not enroll members when your resorts do not have the capacity to accommodate them. Resorts are not dormitories. When members enroll, they expect maximum return on their investment and satisfaction.

6. Reduce ASF: I feel the current ASF is not justified (it is almost at par with hotel rent, given that huge sum is already collected as membership fee). Bring it down or provide complementary food, transport etc.

7. Tell your sales reps NOT to make unrealistic promises. They should explain in plain english all pros and cons-What members are guaranteed to get, what all are purely luck based, what CM doesn't offer and what are the hidden factors and risks involved. They need to declare what all are covered by initial membership fee, what expenses are to be paid later (like ASF), what all are not at all covered etc.

All these are suggested hoping that you wish to grow your business by delighting your members and give them value for their money. It’s obvious that since you are in business you need to make money. But profit should be realized after delivering whatever was promised to the customers and not by fooling/cheating/misleading unsuspecting public.

Disclaimer: No offense is meant. The post only lists simple practical implementations which if implemented will increase customer satisfaction and automatically promotes business. This is just a suggestion and implementation at Club Mahindra’s discretion.

Video: Buffalo survives lion and Crocodile attack: Watch this video if you haven't watched yet on TV.(Location: Kruger National Park, South Africa). Team spirit at its best...

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Ramoji Film City-Photo Slideshow

Being in Hyderabad and not blogging about Ramoji Film City? It can’t be. Though I’d been to Ramoji Film city several months earlier and went again recently (to give company to my friend Santosh who was here from Delhi on work), I could never blog about RFC till date due to time constraint.

In this post I’m sharing the photos taken at Ramoji Film city as a slideshow. As and when time permits, I would be publishing following articles related to Ramoji Film City.

1. Process Improvement Suggestion for Ramoji Film City
2. Advantages and Disadvantages of shooting a film in film cities instead of elsewhere
3. A tip to delight your loved one at Ramoji Film City
4. Tourist Information and tips to get maximum out of RFC
5. Videos taken at Ramoji Film City

Slideshow 1: Photos and upload courtesy: Santosh BS

Slideshow 2.: Photos and upload courtesy: Santosh BS

Slideshow 3: Photos and upload courtesy: Prasad

Enjoy the photos and standby for further articles on Ramoji Film City.

RFC official website |Ramoji Film City Video clips

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Search Engine musings

Analyzing Blog traffic is fun. Once in a month or so I glance over my sitemeter and Google Analytics accounts to analyze the traffic of my blog.

People are coming to my blog while looking for several information on net. Unfortunately, though I wish I could, it is not possible to cater each and every expectation of internet browsers. In this post sharing some incidents involving key combinations with which net surfers came to my blog and got disappointed.

1. I wrote “Summer of ‘05” (A slightly modified version of Bryan Adam’s popular “Summer of ‘69” in this post, I published some photos of Endpoint Manipal here, I wrote about my favorite lyrics lines here. All fine. But many people came to my blog while searching for lyrics of Summer of ’69 video of MAHE (Manipal Academy of Higher Education, a premier university in South India under which Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT), Manipal Sikkim University and hundreds of other institutes operate.)

What they were looking for was lyrics of MAHE’s official video, which is based on Summer of 69 song portraying local lifestyle at South Canara, various institutes and Students of MAHE etc. This is an excellent video which you shouldn’t miss watching. While I don’t have the exact lyrics (first half of the song-lyrics is same as Summer of 69, second half is Hindi wordings, music is quite different from original Summer of ’69 and is customized beautifully) , giving below the video of this song, sourced from YouTube. Enjoy.


2.I wrote about SAAS (Software As a Service) concept in this post, wrote about pros and cons of working as an independent consultant in one of my May 2007 posts, have done a detailed exploration of Club Mahindra membership pricing in this Never go for Club Mahindra post (Most popular post on this blog currently, tops search engines for Club Mahindra related strings). But someone wants to know about pricing/billing details of Independent SAAS consultant in India. I don’t know. Sorry…

3.When I said Dell has no physical showrooms and they deal direct with customers [in my post analysing in Dell's Direct Business Model] and compared Bangalore(Bengaluru), Chennai and Hyderabad in this post, people searching for Dell Showroom Hyderabad, Dell Showroom Bangalore etc come here…Atleast I’m happy they learnt that there’s no such thing called Dell Showroom to where one can go and buy Dell products. (Well… there’re few, launched on trial basis in some countries)

There’re several such incidents where in visitors are leaving this blog disappointed. While I cant take the blame for not putting what visitors were looking for, I can’t blame search engines for wrong referrals either because I’m getting some traffic this way and I get an idea of what readers expect and what they look for.

You may check the below link to see what kind of referrals and search queries are generating traffic for this blog...
http://www.sitemeter.com/?a=stats&s=s28enidhi&r=11

Do NOT COPY PASTE-Try this instead (tips to avoid IPR violation)


Ctrl+C followed by Ctrl+V is very easy. Knowingly or not, Sorry to say some bloggers have been doing that, publishing contents which are not our own, copied from elsewhere. While it is good practice to share information and knowledge, claiming third party contents are one’s own without giving credit to original author constitutes outright violation of Intellectual Property Rights and in blogosphere it is known by the term Plagiarism.

The purpose of this post is to show you how one can spread information/knowledge without being flagged for copyright violation, while publishing third party contents in your blog. This post only intends to provide a best practice in this regard and is not aimed at offending anyone.

Step 1: Write introduction in your own words and give credit to original writer:

Example: This morning I was browsing the net and I came across some useful tips on how to do this this and this. I read it in Mr. ABC’s blog [Give Blogname/link] and thought I’ll share it with you…

Or

I’m a fan of singer/poet Mr/Miss [Name]…I like her poems/Gazzals/songs very much because… In this post giving lyrics of her poem [Title] which is [some more details]

Purpose:
By giving an introduction and giving credit to original owner, you’re showing due respects to their creativity and evading any IPR violation accusations that may be imposed on you otherwise for copying. [Warning: This approach is adequate for most of the cases, but if owner has mandated a prior written permission for reproducing his content, you have to get that. If you can’t get it, only give link to that webpage and explain the content in your own words. Do not use exact text]

Step 2: Third party content which you want to share

Step 3: Add some explanation/analysis/reasoning etc on your own

Like:

I like this feature because… Or this is really a useful tip because…Or the beauty of this Gazzal is that …

Purpose: If you’re copy pasting somethings which is in your area of interest/specialization, you’ll always be in a position to add few lines on your own. This gives value addition to readers, as you’re offering little extra than what was there originally.

Why should I take all these trouble? Why Can’t I just keep copy pasting?

1. While blogging quite about knowledge sharing, it is very much about originality and creativity. When someone has spent some time, effort in creating something (a para of text or a block of code or an artwork or a poem whatever) he/she will be proud of his/her creation and by all means owns that work. You have no write to claim someone else’s work as your own (in a blog post, unless otherwise specified it is assumed to be your creation). Respect other’s intellectual property. Even if the owner is dead, even if he can’t access your blog to complain, he/she still deserves credit for the work. It hurts to see someone stealing your content. Do not do it. You never know when you’ll become victim of that. Respect fellow bloggers.

2. Once in a while you may manage to pass off copied content as your own. But regular readers will soon find out the truth and that hampers your credibility. Once you’re flagged as a copy paster, even when you write original content people won’t take you seriously.

3. It is no rocket science to detect Plagiarism. Take a string, put in quotes and search in Google…one can find out where it was published first. Someone will notice for sure.

4. Even small kids can copy and paste. Try to add value to readers by adding some of your stuff along with external content.

Happy Blogging.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

MS discontinues Office Assistants from Office 2007 onwards. Goodbye Scribble


Executive Summary: Microsoft has discontinued Office Assistants from Office 2007 onwards. This post gives an illustrated and descriptive account in this regard.

Hello every body,
My name is Scribble, The Cat. I was one of the several office agents in Microsoft’s Office Application. We took birth with Office 2000 and have been volunteering to help users with useful information whenever we felt they needed help (Read: Whenever we realized that these stupid users can’t learn the right usage themselves) using office application.
I was helping MS word (and other office applications as well) users in their day to day work. (Whenever someone started the document typing “Dear abc,” I used to peep in from no where and ask them “Seems like you’re typing a letter, should I help?
(As if I know what they plan to write and write the entire letter myself-On the second thought, trust me, I could really help people write letters-I’ve seen thousands of love letters, hate letters, resignations, business proposals, reports written right in front of my eyes and right under my nose). I helped them when they asked questions (Don’t blame me if my answers were not helpful…Just that users were very dumb and didn’t know how to ask questions properly). Whenever people clicked on me and asked me to animate, I used to make several funny gestures and relax them, often serving as their stress busters.

I never discriminated between those who bought legal copy and those who were using pirated ones. I served you all.

But now, time has come that I must go. Highly paid software engineers at Microsoft have decided to discontinue me and my fellow Office assistants from Office 2007 onwards. Reason being sited is that New Microsoft Office 2007 is more interactive with its ribbon future and all. Though Project 2007 and Visio 2007 are quite similar to their earlier variants from a look and feel perspective, I wasn’t given a place there too. Office Assistants were optional in later versions of Office and people had option of enabling/disabling them. Now they say I’ve no place at all in Office 2007…Hmm…What can I say? Good bye…


Author: We miss you and your pals Scribble.(Other office agents were: Clippit –The clip, The Dot (red ball), F-1 (a robot), The Genius (a caricature of Albert Einstein), Office Logo (jigsaw puzzle), Mother Nature (a globe) and Power Pup (a dog).)take care. I’m sure you’ll be around for quite sometime as not everyone will shift to Office 2007 overnight.

Related: Office Assistants on Wikipedia | MS Office 2007 official site

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