Friday, August 28, 2009

Social Media case study

Sharing one of my recent experiences wherein someone sought my assistance setting up a blog and within days was upset that blog initiative isn’t going well.

Few months back owner of a travel portal approached me saying he wishes to set up a blog section on his website. His portal was few years old while he and his team of 4-5 staff were doing pretty satisfactory in terms of business. During one of my visits to Bangalore I agreed to meet him as a goodwill gesture, for no financial gain. He was curious to know more about blogging, particularly how and how soon he can use the blog to help generate revenue for him. In brief I explained him that generating revenue from blogs will take some time and involves following process:
1 setting up a blog,
2 continuously publishing high quality original content and
3 promoting the blog through SEO and other means.
Only after we achieve these 3 a blog can generate some revenue in the form of
a. ads displayed directly on the blog,
b. leads and enquiries about travel services which could be converted into business
c. general branding and goodwill.

We set up a blog (, exact URL not revealed to protect privacy) and next major challenge was to generate content for this new blog. Just because you’ve set up a blog, no one will do charity and contribute good posts-either your brand name has to be strong (so that people consider it a honor to see their article at your blog) or there has to be some incentives.
I suggested following measures to mobilize content:
1. Check with your existing customers if they wish to share their travel experiences on your blog 2 contact other travelers/bloggers and check if they can contribute articles in exchange of some incentives
3 Write some good articles yourself (and your staff) sharing challenges in the business, recent offers, special attractions or anything related

The blog went live, but hardly saw any new content. He couldn’t mobilize posts either himself or through his customers. When I said some people may come forward to contribute if there’re some incentives, he offered “10% discount” to such writers when they book any of his travel packages. This obviously was not tempting enough and no one came forward to contribute. (A Rs 100 CCD coupon or anything of that sort would have been much more effective). I contributed one article, but with no financial gains and without any enthusiasm and participation from the blog owner I too had no motive to write too much for that blog-I had to tender to my office work as well.

Couple of days later he expressed his dissatisfaction over “not much things happening at the blog”. He also asked “Do you do SEO? I want to fully SEO my blog”. I couldn’t provide a Boolean YES or NO to that question. If there’s a good volume of high quality content, half of SEO is automatically taken care of. SEO is not something that can be bought and installed or set up overnight. No point worrying about SEO when the blog is dry. While I could help with most of SEO aspects, I’ve no intention to make false promises about rankings or other results. But before I could explain he was offline. [Read: SEO Fundamentals]

I now have a feeling as if he expected me to set up a blog, add lots of content, do SEO and once everything is ready hand it over to him on a platter so that he can start monetizing it. I’m sorry-I don’t do that.

This is what I feel (w.r.t. using social media to increase business revenue)
Results of Social media activities are best seen when the owner involves in it with full passion and dedicates some time and efforts to understand and promote it (unless you’ve enough budget to hire a qualified team for this purpose). While you may outsource the initial technical work (setup, design etc), managing the blog, twitter account and other SM instruments are best done by self. Expecting others to take your blog to popularity won’t work, because everyone will have their priorities. ROI is not predictable and a blog may take reasonably long time before it can make its presence felt. There’re lots of examples of successful corporate blogs and most of them were not set up with a primary intent of revenue generation.

Disclaimer: Not written with an intention to criticize anyone, but just to explain what won't work.
Related: My talk at MIC on Corporate Blogging * Spot blogging contest and workshop at MSRIT * Club Mahindra's Binsar trip for travel bloggers *

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Engineering career option FAQs-Guest post part 2

This is part 2 of the article on Engineering career options. Read part 1 here.

Engineering Career Options, part 2 of 2

5. What is your recommendation for those who aspires to own a business?
If you are aspiring to own a business, your choice of selection in engineering is straight forward. Select the branch which is closer to the area of your future business interest. In some cases, allied engineering fields [like Mechatronics] are better suited as it would deal with multi-disciplinary engineering areas giving you the much needed edge to run your business.

6. I am interested in doing engineering in the niche branches like Petroleum engineering. What is you view?
Pursuing engineering in specialized branche requires some careful study. You must be aware of the job opportunities and their location of operation. There are some very good job opportunities in these fields. As I have seen, job satisfaction is of the highest order. However, currently such jobs are available in very limited number. The work location could be also another aspect you may want to look at before deciding. By the time you would graduate, scenario might change slightly, but not drastically. While some of the colleges are offering such branches, they might not have invested in the right infrastructure. Expert panel may not be available as staff for these subjects. Consider these aspects critically before you firm up!

7. I’m interested in pursuing some serious higher studies after graduation. What do you recommend?
Do not get shocked with my view points. Before deciding further on this, ask yourself why do you want to go for higher studies? Unless you are strongly inclined to pursue a job in fundamental research organization, there is no much benefit you would derive from doing higher studies. In fact, you would lose 18 months to 24 months of professional life and may fall behind your peers. If you still wish to continue with higher studies, never ever consider colleges other than IITs and IISc for post graduation.

There is one advantage though in doing higher studies. You can easily switch job from Industry to academic with the masters’ degree qualification. It would be certainly useful when the industry gets hit and you decide to shift the gear.

8. What are your general tips to build a strong career?
The longevity in the professional cycle could be achieved by any one of the following 2 aspects.

  • Deep domain knowledge or expert knowledge in a specific area / industry
  • Ability to learn and adapt
So, as you select a specific engineering branch keep the above facts in your mind and keep working towards achieving that from Day-1 of your engineering.

The computer knowledge is of paramount importance while pursuing the engineering study. So, do not take engineering branch other than CS just because you hate computer science. Today almost all engineering branches deal with computer science, at least to some degree. Start loving it and use computers for every aspect. Keep your knowledge up-to-date.

Graduating in core Engineering disciplines would provide multiple job opportunities. Also the there would be multiple streams of specialization to pursue higher studies.

Specialized engineering disciplines like [Aeronautical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Petroleum Engineering, Biomedical Engineering..] may provide excellent but limited job opportunities in very niche area. Also some of the fields are very promising as the governments spend / investment in the future is likely to support the rapid growth.

Computer science, Information Technology would continue to provide good job opportunities however highly susceptible to Industry scenario.

Green Engineering, Food and Healthcare Engineering, Petroleum Engineering may offer ever consistent job opportunities as these Industry fields are more immune to global slow-down.

Also the reality is that whatever the field a person wishes to continue, one can not succeed without computer knowledge.

-Vidhyabhushan Hande

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Career options in Engineering: Guest Post by Vidyabhushana Hande

Presenting the 3rd guest post in this blog (read first and second ones). Vidyabhushana Hande works for a reputed IT Company and has 20+ years of overall Industry experience. This particular article, published in two parts, is designed to help students considering engineering as a career option. As an industry veteran VidyaBhushan Hande shares his insights on the matter, addressing several tough questions prospective engineering students face at the time of their admission. It’s an honor to have this post on -Admin

Career options in Engineering
-Vidyabhushana Hande
As one completes pre-university (10+2) graduation in the science stream, the important question that arises in the mind of the individual and their parents is about the career option. I am writing this article just to share different view points on the subject. This is not written with an intention to suggest someone to follow a certain / specific direction. I strongly believe in - ‘No decision is good or bad in it self. True differentiation is in the executioner and the way decision gets executed.’

This article may give some pointers to help you take some decision. However remember that after taking the decision your journey just begins. You have to finish the journey in style and prove to the world (if not to the world, at least to yourself!!) that you had taken the right decision!

Every action and decision must have a purpose. So, if we need to look at engineering options, the decision has to be arrived from the endpoint perspective. For most, that would mean- having a satisfying, stable job. So the engineering discipline one would pursue is a mean to achieve their dream career option.

1. With the backdrop of severe impact of global recession in almost all countries, is it worth to pursue Engineering study?
With the impact of global industry slow-down, across the segments, many are confused in taking engineering as a career option. However the fact is - engineering and technology would continue to advance and the job opportunities would continue to grow. Further almost all industry segments like Automotive and Aerospace industries undergo business cycle consisting of boom and recession. Some industries undergo fast cycle and some slow. It is more likely that by the time the students under taking engineering study now graduates, the industry scenario could be totally different and possibly experiencing boom period. Let the current industry scenario not guide your decision to pursue engineering.

2. How do you see the several engineering branches available for study?
Today multiple engineering branches are available for study. There are more than 70 engineering branches! Some of them are closely related and some are application or domain specific. I would group the available engineering branches into 4 broad categories.

Core Engineering: Engineering branches like Mechanical, Electrical, Electronics and Civil fall into this category.

Growth oriented engineering: Based on the last decade’s industry experience, I would put computer science and Information Technology under this class.

Allied Engineering: Instrumentation Technology, Telecommunication, Mechatronics, Architectural Engineering and Industrial production falls into this category.

Specialized Engineering: Petroleum Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Food engineering, Green Engineering, Aeronautical engineering etc are engineering branches under this group.

3. What recommendations you have for the aspirants in core engineering branches?
I have always held the view that in order to ‘engineer’ the engineering, one should take up core engineering subjects like Mechanical, Electrical, Electronics and Civil. The fundamentals-of-engineering is dealt heavily in these subjects which would be of immense use in any vertical application. I still remember one of the customers demanding –‘I love to have someone who loves noise and signals in my team’. [He was referring to Mechanical (Noise) and Electronics (Signal) engineers]. If one wishes to continue their education after graduation, several universities across world offer multiple streams of specialization.

There are multiple private tuitions / coaching centers available with very good infrastructure and much required experienced staff in every city. These centers provide ample opportunities for anyone to hone the skill of computer science and / or IT in parallel to what they are pursuing in engineering college.
So, if one engages in the core engineering stream, their value would be very high as they always have a chance to get a main stream job in multiple industry segments. In addition, their chances of getting IT industry job are equally good.

4. I heard IT related branches are losing demand. Should I opt out of studying IT / CS engineering branches?
The view point in the question is in the backdrop of global slowdown. I do not believe in impulsive decision.

In the last decade the computer science (CS) and information technology (IT) disciplines have been most sought after by engineering aspirants. CS and IT fields have paid rich dividends in terms of rapid Industry growth and uplifting the overall economy of the individual and industry.

IT companies have grown both in size and service offerings. In order to scale up and manage the business needs, IT companies have put in a system and process in place to groom an engineer from any discipline into an IT engineer. This, in a way, has reduced the importance of computer science and IT fields.

Today, Computer science and IT branches are oriented more towards the job market in the service industries. There are less job opportunities in the area of fundamental R&D and product engineering related to these engineering fields. While one would enjoy the power of Vitamin M (Money), the job satisfaction may not be high.

Every company in the globe has realized the importance of IT to manage their systems, processes and or products better. Their IT budget is always a lion share of total spend of the company. This trend will continue at least for some more years. Thus, based on the global economy, the scale of growth may be higher in the IT industries. In the last decade I have seen people taking up higher responsibilities every alternate year along with higher pay package. The trend is likely to continue, if not at the same rate. At the same time, one should be aware that in the downturn of the industry, the risk of losing the job is also fairly high.

Service Industry provides an excellent travelling opportunity across the globe. If you are an avid traveler, I am sure you would enjoy this job. So from this perspective as well pursuing IT related branches in engineering is a wise thing to do.

---------------End of part 1----------------------------------------------------------------
Read Part 2

Possibly related posts: My innovations wishlist * Sandhya Ravishankar's workshop on broadcast journalism *

Friday, August 21, 2009

Buy/Sell days at timeshare resorts

Our earlier initiative wherein we provided a platform for buyers and sellers of timeshare membership was a huge success. (Read: Business worth Rs 23 lakh+ was facilitated by this blog post). Lots of people were able to sell their timeshare membership or buy a used membership for reasonable rates.

Recently the need was felt that a similar platform can be provided for people trying to buy/sell a few number of days at a particular timeshare resort. Hence this blog post, wherein you can indicate your intention to put up your accommodation for sale, or express intent to buy one.

Please note that this dealing is purely between the member and guest. Timeshare company, this blogger or others will not be a party to it in case of any disputes related to payments, services etc.

Click here to enter your offer/requests. Be sure to read the risk factors involved. Your entry will appear in the spreadsheet below in about 10 minutes for others to see and respond.

All the best. Hope everyone finds it equally useful. Your suggestions and comments are always welcome.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Jyothi Raju-Monkey King-the rock climber

Watching Jyothi Raju perform (i.e. climbing fort walls) was an unexpected value add to our recent trip to Chitradurga (200kms from Bengaluru, Karnataka)Jyothi Raju in action

Jyothi Raju hails from some remote village in TamilNadu and is known for his wall climbing skills. He climbs walls and pillars as fast, smooth and comfortably as a monkey would do. “I learnt this skill by closely observing monkeys”-he says. It was nice watching him climb 100+ feet high fort walls in a matter of seconds. With no safety gears like rope or helmet to protect him, sheer expertise and confidence are the only things he relies on. Reportedly he’s climbed several ports and walls around South India and trying for an entry into Guinness Book of Records. Several television channels have featured him already.

Here’s 2 photos of Jyothi Raju. I also made an amateur video of his rock climbing-but they’re not as good as the ones already available on net. (Before I could ready my camera he'd finished half of his climbing...) The video in this news clipping has better visuals and a quick interview with Jyothi, in which he's shared his plans of giving coaching, promoting adventure sports and more.(note:at the link actual video starts only after you watch the ad)
Jypthi Raju
He is locally knows as Koti Raju (Koti=monkey). He was doing his performance several times during the day, entertaining visitors. Once a while visitors give him a small tip, which is his sole income from this.

An over enthusiast guide was overheard explaining to his customers: “Sir it is a very expensive hobby sir, the powder he is using-it is imported one sir- costs Rs 500 per kg sir…” For the record, rock climbers use chalk powder (Commercially known as Calcium Carbonate, CaCO that costs Rs 30-120 per kg) to keep their hands dry.

Many of the adventure activities (pulling a truck with tooth, walking on fire bed and likes) are derivatives of simple laws of physics. But most of us are comfortable just watching others perform than giving it a try ourselves.

Related: Ramanagara Rock climbing * >A painter and his mission *

Update: Somemore interesting photos at >Dailymail, taken from top of the fort (via Raveesh)

Tagged: 20 questions and answers

I’d been noticing this activity of tagging happening over the blogosphere, but never bothered to participate. To the extent I understand, the idea is to trigger a chain reaction-someone does a specific activity-like answering a set of questions, and tags others to do the same. It’s fun if you have time and interest to do all these, else its best ignored.

Don’t remember anyone tagging me so far-if some of you did, I’m sorry-maybe I didn’t notice. [Long long ago Sandesh wanted me to write about my dreams- I wrote a generic article on dreams] Recently
Mohan tagged me and I thought let me do it.

So here we go- 20 questions and my answers (Had to rework on my answers-realized that all answers should start from first letter of my name)

1. What is your name: Shrinidhi Hande
2. A four Letter Word: Ship
3. A boy’s Name: Saurav
4. A girl’s Name: Sudha
5. An occupation: Shopkeeper
6. A colour : SkyBlue
7. Something you wear: Spectacles
8. A food: Samosa
9. Something found in the bathroom: Soap
10. A place: Shivamogga
11. A reason for being late: Slow moving traffic [Not exactly my reason. I keep a provision for delays due to traffic and other factors-unexpected flat tyre is the main reason if I’m late]
12. Something you shout: Shut-up! (had to coin this work for the sake of answering- I don't should with S)
13. A movie title: Satyam Shivam Sundaram [Don’t ask me why this one]
14. Something you drink: Sapota milkshake [Unfortunately tender coconut doesn’t start with S]
15. A musical group: Scotland Yard Band (had to google out a name starting with S)
16. An animal: Snake (will soon upload a photo of my cousin posing with a real snake-visit back tomorrow)
17. A Street name: SP Road (Sardar Patel Road- In Bangalore, this road is known for computer hardware shops, in Hyderabad, it’s a main road connecting Secunderabad to Panjagutta, in Chennai also I use this road frequently)
18. A type of car: SUV (had tough time deciding between a convertible and an offroader-as if I’m going to buy one) (Question is not clear-cars are classified under various parameters- size, type of fuel, utility, brand and so on)
19. A song title: Summer of ‘69
20. A verb: Spread (not H1N1)

Whom do I tag it to? Don’t want to point out names-it may sound like demanding-even if I do they may not read it and accept. I’ve very few readers who visit regularly (there may be more, but unless they leave a comment once a while I won’t know). If the idea excites you feel free to pick up and proceed.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Club Mahindra contest, Hoysala Trail & OWD

This post gives a brief about 3 happenings. Quick Jump: Club Mahindra "My Trip of a lifetime" contest * The Tour of Less Known Hoysala Kingdom* One Web Day 2009
CM's My Trip of a Lifetime Contest
During past two years, Club Mahindra hosted an all expense paid trip to a group of select travel bloggers to one of their resorts. This year, they are selecting participants through a writing contest. What has been the most memorable journey of your life? Think of it and see if you can come up with a nice travelogue around this idea. If you can, you may submit this entry to the contest, titled “My Trip of a lifetime”. 3 final winners will get all expense paid trip to Club Mahindra's resort Mashobra, Simla this year. Some more people (runner up entries) will get to take home some goodies like bags, books and the likes while all qualified entries will be published in their blog, CLAY.
Club Mahindra Logo
Besides submitting your entries, you’re also required to become a fan of CM on facebook. Anyway that is quite modest an expectation, compared to other contests (like Mitsubishi Great Driving Challenge) wherein you’re required to make people vote for you or write a post and provide a link etc. (Almost all online contests are having this kind of demands these days-everyone have realized the benefits of social media)

I may not participate in this-Don’t think I’ve had the trip of my life yet. If I had gone on the-once-contemplated SAR PASS trek or Himalayan 4x4 Safari probably that would have made a wonderful travelogue. I've tosee if I can write about any of my recent trips. (It is also an art to be able to write interesting travelogues, even when the trip is ordinary-I'm yet to learn that) If you’re planning to contest (trust me, final prize is really worth it-if you ever had a great travel experience, consider penning it down NOW) you’ve another 8 days to submit (19th August is the last date). More details on CLAY site. All the best.

(Related: Club Mahindra Binsar trip for travel bloggers * CM's Coorg Trip * CM Kodagu Valley resort review * Binsar resort review * CM Timeshare membership review * Buy/Sell used timeshare membership* My Talakona write-up on CLAY) Go to TOP

Hoysala Trail Trip
Arun Bhat and Lakshmi Sharat are organizing a 2 day Hoysala trail trip ‘The Tour of Less Known Hoysala Kingdom’ on 29th and 30th August. (This is the second edition. First edition has evoked good response from participants and media) The key difference between this and other package tours is the passion about History and travel Arun and Lakshmi bring in-something like your close friend taking you to places. Trip aims to cover several unattended/lesser known places of Hoysala dynasty which casual tourists usually miss due to lack of adequate information and guidance. Arun and Lakshmi are well respected names in travel space and their personal credibility, research and enthusiasm will make this trip different from a regular commercial tour.

As I’m based out of Chennai I’m finding it little inconvenient to join this. (I'm told some ex-Chennai trips are also lined up) If you’re based in Bangalore and can spend 4k for a 2 days trip exploring history, see if this trip excites you.Flyer below, more details in Arun's BlogHoysala Trail Trip by arun and Lakshmi

Note: Arun and Lakshmi are also on Jury panel of earlier said Club Mahindra contest* Image from * Go to TOP

One Web Day 2009
One web Day (OWD) is celebrated every year on September 22nd. The day focuses on impact of internet on our lives. If you have an experience or a story to tell as to how internet has made a difference to your life, you can consider submitting it to OWD story contest. More details here.

Last year Internet Society, Chennai Chapter (ISOC) organized a spot blogging contest at MSRIT Bengaluru to celebrate OWD. Similar plans are being drawn for this year as well.

Related: My entry for OWD 2009* My entry for OWD 2008* Spot blogging contest conducted at MSRIT last year during OWD

Disclaimer: All information as available with the author at the time of publishing. Information about the contest and trips are subject to change at the sole discretion of organizers.
Go to TOP

Monday, August 03, 2009

Random thoughts on Music

This post lists few of my recent observations/thoughts related to music.

Found this old harmonium abandoned near a park in T.Nagar, Chennai. Felt bad for its sorry state. Playing an electric keyboard is not as much fun as playing a harmonium. Playing a harmonium with one hand (left hand) pumping air while the other (right hand) striking the reeds is a nice feeling. (Though left arm starts aching soon, if played continuously) But these are the days of electronic keyboard-no one likes the earlier bulky, heavy, mechanical and wooden harmonium. Owner of this harmonium who has disrespectfully discarded his musical instrument might have probably bought a new swanky keyboard. an old discarded harmonium I only wish he/she could have treated this harmonium with little more care and respect-may be repair and gift it to someone?

How much does a Piano cost?

The other day I was at THE YAMAHA SQUARE in Nungambakkam. (It is a showroom of Yamaha musical instruments, reportedly owned by Drummer Sivamani) The cheapest Piano there was costing close to 5 lakhs. I had no idea Pianos cost that much. A person who is in acquaintance with musical instruments told me there’re Pianos costing as much as 2 crores (available in same store)-Incidentally the price difference is due to quality of wood used which impacts quality of sound. Hmm… (Hotel Wallwood Garden in Coonoor had a person playing Piano to entertain guests-I’m just wondering what components of Buffet cost (Rs 500+taxes) is towards recovering money spent on Piano)

Basics of Western Music
I did study little bit of western music recently at a music school called Unwind Centre. Just managed to clear level 1. Got a good understanding of how western music is different from Carnatic music. (in brief Western music is polyphonic and has detailed notations to describe the usage of both hands, multiple notes at once, sustain, rest and so on. Carnatic music, which I had learnt informally during school days but now almost forgotten, is monophonic)

CDs soon to become history?

In other observation, the new Honda City 2009 doesn’t have a CD player. Is this an indication that CDs as a storage medium have become obsolete? Not so long ago many of us painstakingly converted our collections in the form of Audio cassettes into CDs. Now CD players are almost history. Well, our generation might not even have seen a gramophone. 4 years ago when I was travelling in bus for 1 hour one way many people had portable CD player and walkman to entertain themselves. Ipod hadn’t made its invasion yet then. Now CDs are also getting obsolete. What next?

Below is a file photo of a gramophone clicked en-route to Agra last year.
His Master's Voice Gramophones For 2 more photos click here
What else? Let the music play. If you've created some music you can share it on

Update: A comment received by a reader (Sundar) via mail:

Reminded of the words of the great Tamil Poet Subramanya Bharathi:-
“Nalladhor Veenai seyde; adhai nalam keda puzhuthiyil erivadhundo!”
(after making a beautiful Veena, will someone spoil it and throw in garbage?)"

Related: Book review: Raga Chintamani * Ban on Live music in Bengaluru * Swingers Dance show * Bagyada Balegara and Banigondu elle ellide (lyrics and translation) * Review: Unwind School of Music *