Thursday, July 31, 2008

Messengers of Love...!

Few months back (when I changed job) I was pretty amazed at the idea of making new friends, working on multitude of database systems & interesing technical challenges and above all changing my mode of transport from Bus to Car :) And for couple of weeks that followed - going to office in car with wonderful company (we do Car Pools), nice 'n' fresh music (Thanks to my room-mates) and refreshing
hot coffee was definately lot of fun ! I welcomed the new freedom, made several trips to the scenic places nearby, took lots of snaps and ofcourse enjoyed the hoopla around the dancing Gas prices. Now, I feel like getting / trying a new mode of transport - just for a change sake!!

Anyways, today at breakfast one of my fellow peers (He just returned from India) voiced his euphoria about the omnipresent Tempos & Rickshaws in India and asked me if I can share my thoughts on this seemingly strange yet terrific means of Transport. I felt a need to give him an elaborative snapsot of rickshaws (Honestly I was a little surprised at his mention of Autorickshaws as "Cute" and thus felt the urge to clarify;)). Here's what I emailed him a couple of minutes after returning to my desk:

  • Auto Rickshaws (Public Tempo / TukTuks in popular parlance) has truly been one of the most useful inventions for India & other South Asian Countries.
  • Apart from buses & trains they prove to be very convenient and popular means of transport.
  • Most of the Tuktuks run on CNG Gas and thus they are quite eco friendly.
  • Since these three wheelers occupy very less space compared to other automobiles - they seem to attend the problems of Traffick Congestion pretty well.
  • Their max speed is around 32mph which works out to be sufficient for point-to-point commuting specially in busy Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Pune, Hyderabad and Bangalore.
  • Their special triangular form makes maneuvering a cakewalk. At times you really get amazed by the way the rickshaw drivers will navigate through a busy route specially the crossings (Chaurahas)
  • Travelling in Shared Autos is even more amazing. Besides fun of deciding how much each one owes to the Autowallah - discussions about the latest movies / stock market / vegetable prices are an everyday occurence. According to me they instantly connect people.
  • The fare is computed on a pro-rated basis by the certified meter installed in every Auto. Apart from an initial charge, one has to pay according to the distance travelled. So ideally speaking one would never have a difference of opinion over how much to pay to Tuktuk driver. (Okay Delhi is an exception I agree :))
  • Indian Government is seriously considering capitalizing Solar Power for running these rickshaws. Once this happens - pollution levels will certainly dimish !
Hey now that sure makes me feel nostalgic for a while. I can keepwriting on and on but then don't they tell you that a Picture is worth several thousand words ! Here's a quick sketch of an Auto I sent with the above text to my peer Tony. . He emailed me back with a Smiley today asking me to plan a trip back home soon - he wishes to go for a Tuktuk ride again :-D. Now moments like these make you day indeed. Now on I'll call our autos the "Messengers of Love" - afterall they instantly reminded me about the wonderful time I spent in India ! Here's a quick sketch of an Auto I attempted few minutes back ! I just can't wait anymore to visit the nation of diversities & true treasures.

Work you do out there better gotta be challenging & amazingly entertaining !"

Friday, July 18, 2008

Boxed Creativity...!

Looks like the gasoline retail sector is quite agile - things are way too short lived here ! I mean-3 weeks ago we were asked to come up with an algorithm (which would eventually be a software bundle) that computes the optimized price you should be selling gasoline in order to outshine your competitors (or lets say stay in business). And today when we were all excited to Demo our supposedly cool product -- we were told that we need to put a human check / verification on top of our product to make sure that software's results are fine. Boy, that doesn't sound fun (except the fact that our tool & our team got nice reviews & a sumptuous dinner by our VP) - 'coz I heard somewhere that in current times average folks rely more on data generated by a software than humans !! But then in Gasoline Business (I told myself)- you would certainly not want scenarios like:
  • On a rainy day, software assumes sales will be less since quite a number of people will spend time indoors& thus increases gas price by an amount which will make customers quite uncomfortable. And you would certainly not wish to loose your loyal customers!
  • On the other hand, on a very busy day - due to competition the software prices gasoline way too low say to boost up sales - $1.99 a gallon - which is by far not good for the company (I would love to visit that gas station though:))

In light of the above scenarios our Project Manager decided to have a human as a bridge between our s/w and the Gas Stations:( He further suggested us to build a kind of self learning algorithm wherein the software learns the conditions as and when a human does a manual override to the prices !! The closest one that would made 'em really happy - I believe should have an intelligence like Google's Spell Checker. Speaking of which - I am sure the phrase "Outside the Box Thinking...!" rings a bell in most of us - afterall thats what we are asked to practice day in and day out across our sojourn across the erudite Corporate World.

From my experience @ Office yday (I kept thinking about it quite late till I dozed off finally), I wanted somebody to answer tons of my questions - What?/How come?/Why? types. Anyways, while driving to workplace today(it was a lovely sunny day) I devised the term "Boxed Creativity TM ". Here are some of the insights about "Boxed Creativity TM " - amidst the brownian motion going on in my mind since yesterday:

  • Limits: In the world of Boxed Creativity - one knows the practical limits (budget/person hours)beforehand. Thus, more than the Idea Generation (no doubt its important but...) - its execution with the available resources remains in focus.
  • Control Variables: By being in the box, you know very well what factors can affect the box (task at hand) in +ve/-ve manner.
  • Performance Under Pressure: By being in the box you realise what does your project/business/company needs in order to maximise the execution efficiencies. An example can be a tennis player (Roger remains my favorite) - who starts off his sporting career by knowing the physical limitations of his body & the pinching fact that there are other superb world class players out there. How do you think he plans then? I believe by being Inside the box yet being super creative ! (More on this in a later post sometime later).
  • Candid Feedback: In addition to being present in the box and recording ideas, its vital to come out once in a while to see how you are doing or better still have your ideas reviewed by a fellow peer or your best friend. I have a firm belief that this approach can bring about phenomenal results in a very short time.

Well, something tells me that this idea is gonna work in someway so before I start twittering about the idea of Boxed Creativity - let me take a plunge into the Box. Will share my findings soon ! Till then keep your creative hats on :)

On and yes my sincere congratulations to Manmohan Uncle for winning the confidence vote-you made us proud yet again :D

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Milestones Club..!

I got my current RD Issue today and spotted a nice article on Guiness World Records™. Its pretty interesting to learn that an argument over "Which is the fastest bird in Europe ?" sparked an idea in Sir Hugh Beaver's mind for compiling a book of world records and considering Sales Statistics of the reverred book of records (The book sells around 100 million copies in 100 different countries in over 20 languages ~ Courtesy LA Times) - I must say that Hugh Beaver had a brilliant entrepreneurial insight indeed !!

A friend of mine called up yesterday- he was super-excited & stated that it was the happiest day in his life. He then asked me to guess the reason for his ultra-elated-spirits - Ahh now thats a tough one....My mind came up with a dozen thoughts (it wanders way too much these days but thats not the point here) like he's hit a jackpot, he has been shortlisted for the
International Photography Award, his name has appeared on Guiness Book or may be he's getting married again !! My inner self advised me not to take any chances and surrender to friend instead (I have experienced catastrophies with this guessing game in the past). What I learnt moments later that Varun got his Corvette*** yesterday !! I responded with the usual plesantries of "Waaaooow!!, Awesome !!" but was still wasn't sure how can one equate buying a car (Okay dream car) made my someone else (Chevrolet is an amazing brand but...) with the happiest moment in life ? Surprised, I thought that I will keep this in my bucket of "QYTA"** for a while. A plausible explanation I could come up with to describe the phenomena could be:

Most of my fellow colleagues & friends idolise few distinguished BRANDS - Apple,
Jaguar, Omega, Harley Davidson, Swarovski et all which makes me wonder how come these brands and the likes have such a strong global appeal? My observation goes like - the smarter folks from very even smarter schools (read brand) land up in companies (brand again) which have ultra smart & cool working cultures -- they bring about breakthrough improvements in various business processes in respective companies they work for -- companies' cash flow(revenue) grows phenomenally -- they reward their smart workforce -- who can thus (Finally !) buy their (lets call) distinguished brands to make them feel good & proud of themselves! Phewww....thats a long way to go indeed !! Let me try putting that in a sketch - will publish it soon.

Speaking of World Records (Wish someday I learn to stay focussed on one topic while writing Blog Post...this post was meant for sharing something else :( - I promise I won't digress for now:)), hope you all read about opening of the world's longest cable-stayed bridge in eastern China yesterday. Here are some interesting facts about the bridge:
  • The Sutong Bridge spans a distance of 1088m and links the cities of Suzhou and Nantong in China.
  • Its an amazing work of engineering and its 6 lanes expressway promises to reduce the commute time between Nantong & Shanghai by 3 hours !
  • Besides the humongous span, the bridge also has the world's tallest towers at 300.4 m that rest on the world's largest pier's base.
  • The bridge also boasts of the longest single stayed-cable in the world (577 m).
  • The engineers used the domestic steel from Shanghai's Bao Steel which in itself is very impressive.
  • You and me with get to watch this bridge soon :) (The Bejing Olympics torch relay will pass over the bridge).

Congratulations China for this true indigenous architectural feat & welcome to my "Milestone Club"!! The point I was trying to communicate was that the record breaking news like these make me happy & cheerful.

** QYTA - Questions Yet to Answered
*** Publishing Snap of the lovely car my friend procured yesterday. Congrats Varun !!