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Sambhar Mafia - Cooked To Kill!

Monday, July 31, 2006

Final Call For.......

A recent report in the New Scientist says that enplaning based on the seating order of flight passengers would not be the most efficient way to complete the boarding process. The reason cited is that the passengers occupying the aisle seats could end up boarding first thereby causing some delay in the boarding of passengers who have been allotted the window seat. The study also states that the time taken to complete the enplaning through the current process would be similar to the time taken to complete the boarding process if the passengers are allowed to board in a random manner.

One of the solutions given in the report is to ask the passengers occupying the window seat to board first. Even this solution would not be devoid of any problems as the passengers in the first few rows would be standing up to put their strollers and bags in the overhead compartment, thereby blocking access to the passengers who need to make their way to the last few rows.

Surprisingly, perhaps, getting people to queue at random does pretty well, but the best practical option is to board window seats first, followed by middle and aisle. That means there is no need to ask the lanky bloke in the aisle seat to unfold his legs from round his ears and stand up while you sit by the window, for example.

If the problem is so obvious, how long do we have to wait to see these recommendations being implemented by some of the best-in-class airlines?

World E-Book Fair and Project Madurai

Most of you would be aware of the World E-Book Fair which is open till this Friday (4th August). Those of you interested in Tamil literature should check out the section called Project Madurai as it contains epics and classics from yesteryear. Some of the popular titles include Kalki's Ponniyin Selvan and Sivakamiyin Sabatham, Thirukkural, Thiruvasagam, Auvaiyar's works, Bharathiyar poems and many more titles from some of the legends of Tamil literature.

Tracking Comments

The Hindu has a feature on the various comment tracking tools that are available to bloggers.


At a time when online matrimonial sites are witnessing astronomical growth rates, this Indian couple have gone ahead and conducted their wedding over video-conference, with the bride and the groom sitting miles apart. Although such an event would be amusing news for the media, the spirit of a wedding might be lost when the bride and the groom are not physically present in the same wedding hall.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Inbuilt comfort

These shirts might be a bit expensive right now, but at the right price, I'm sure it will find lot of takers in Chennai :-)

Who Reads What?

An eye-opener on the reading preferences of men and women.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Newbies on TV

BBC's Paul Danahar has an interesting piece on the quality of Indian News Channels and the trend of first-time reporters joining these TV channels:

Mr Verma has one ambition in life. And that is "to touch the sky keeping my (sic) firmly on earth, as well as to bear out and excel". I'm still not sure what he means but he is quite serious about it because that's what it says in the first line of his CV. Young Indians used to aspire to be doctors or engineers. Now they want to be in TV news. And luckily for them the sign on the door of many channels often says "Experience not required", something any politician will testify to. The former home minister Indrajit Gupta was once doggedly pursued by a young journalist on his way out of Parliament. When he finally agreed to stop for the news crew, he was asked the probing question "Sir, would you please say something". The second question was: "And sir, who are you?"

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Morning Thing

Here’s all you need to know to get that perfect shave:

Why do so many guys find this so hard to achieve? Because proper shaving has become a lost art. Shaving is one of those glorious male traditions that used to be passed down from father to son, but somewhere along the line, when shaving became more about cheap, disposable razors than a nice, precision-made metal tool in your hand, it became a brainless routine to rush through in the morning without even thinking about it. A dull disposable razor dragged across a layer of foam or gel on your cheeks is a step backward from the past, not an improvement. Now that men of all ages are paying more attention to their appearance, it’s no wonder that the hottest trend right now in male grooming is a return to the traditional wet shave – and millions of men have been shocked to discover that the “old fashioned” method of shaving they thought went out with the Hula Hoop is actually the best quality shave you can get.

A Job Title That's Meant To Impress

Companies are known to come up with creative job titles so that they can create a different image for an age-old role. A recent ad by a reputed bank caught my eye. The position that was advertised was “First Impression Officer”. After some research I found out that this position is better known as Receptionist. Why should they complicate such a simple thing? Are they bored of using the term receptionist?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Maths Can Be Fun

The guys at HeyMath! first won acclaim from Thomas Friedman in The New York Times and The World is Flat and now they make it to the Beeb. With remote tuition and online tuition getting popular, HeyMath! is bound to be a big hit.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Ad Options for Indian Bloggers and Advertisers

Apart from the usual Google Adsense, there seem to be many more monetization options for Indian bloggers / publishers. AlooTechie lists down some of the Ad Networks, which have been launched with the Indian market in mind. I haven’t heard / used any of the Ad networks mentioned there, but some of them look promising. Have any of you signed up with any of these India-focussed Ad networks?

Title Matters

In the latest State budget, the ruling DMK announced that Tamil films, which go in for Tamil titles, would be exempted from Entertainment tax. This looks as if the government is doing a big favour to the film fraternity.

Most of the recent movies go in for trendy English names so that they can strike a chord with the youth. PMK has already been threatening the filmstars to go in for Tamil titles for the movies.

What will the government do if a movie with a Tamil title has extensive usage of English in the dialogues and the song lyrics? Will the government give some more sops if a Tamil movie song is written in Tamil?

IMHO, there are many more serious ways to promote the language.

Rediffmail Vs Hoo Haa Mail

I happened to see a recent ad by Rediff promoting its lightning-speed email. It is quite obvious that Rediff is making fun of Yahoo in the ad. Email is generally considered instant and I don’t think people will switch over from Yahoo / Hotmail / Gmail to Rediffmail just because Rediff delivers it faster (by 5 / 10 seconds) than others. Maybe Rediff should have been in the express delivery / courier business and use this as a differentiating factor. The ad projects a situation where the Yahoo mail page takes ages to load. Yahoomail users would probably feel that this exaggeration by Rediff is unjustified.

Indian portals like Rediff and Indiatimes would be better off focusing on growing their content and e-business platforms rather than spending loads of money on TV campaigns for promoting their email services. It is better to let the biggies (Gmail / Hotmail / Yahoo) fight it out in the email wars.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Slum Tours in Mumbai

A Westerner seems to be in the thick of the action:

The city is so crowded that in the centre, there are one million people to a square mile. It has pushed the rents up to impossible levels, as high as London or New York, in a city where earnings are a fraction. But people keep arriving in their thousands every day from the villages, hoping to make it big in India's city of opportunity. There is nowhere for them to go but the slums.

Maran’s Sense of Humour

Here is a quote from Mercury News on Maran’s recent trip to the US:

Last week, Maran, India's Cabinet-level minister of communications and information technology, recalled a meeting with venture capitalists during a talk at a gathering at TiE, the Indus Entrepreneurs, a business-networking group.

One VC told him of a visit to India: `` `I was shocked at what I saw in the capital -- a guy taking a cow for a walk,' '' Maran said to laughter at the sold-out event.

``I said, `Did you notice what was in his other hand? He was talking on his cell phone while taking the cow for a walk,' '' the politician said. ``You have to look at India through the eyes of India.''

Although it is good to take credit for some of the developments in IT and Telecom, one should also remember that most of these developments would have taken place even if we didn’t have an IT / Telecom Minister. Maran might have been proactive in getting new investments, but some of this might have happened anyway. I would consider Dayanidhi Maran as a lucky person as he has taken charge at a time when his sector is at an all time high.

Monday, July 24, 2006

A Rough Ride on the IT Highway

All along I was under the impression that the bus operators who provide buses for ferrying the IT professionals would be paid a good sum as the IT companies were cash-rich. The IT companies already charge anywhere between Rs. 500 & 1250 per month from the employees who use the bus facility depending on factors such as location of the employee's residence and the location of the office premises. This report on how the bus operators don't get paid enough for their effort definitely comes as a surprise. The report states that even old economy companies offer good prices to the private bus operators. It is time for the IT industry to adopt some of these best practices.

G Sachs Vs G Sex

Goldman Sachs is fighting a battle with the owner of the domain www.goldmansex.com as GS feels that the GoldmanSex name closely resembles the name of the premier investment bank and would cause confusion in various quarters. It would be interesting to see how this battle takes shape.

There have been few such prominent battles in the past. One such incident which comes to mind is the Armani Vs AR Mani cybersquatting incident. If Goldmansex wins the battle, we can think of registering JPMurugan.com and offering underworld services under the brand of 'Quick Gun' Murugan. I'm sure JPMorgan will take note and offer a hefty sum to settle the issue :-)

Friday, July 21, 2006

Now I Know.....

......why men are dull.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Poli Wars in West Mambalam

Captured the following images during my visit to Chennai last week. Venkatramana and Venkateshwara Boli Stall are the two popular outlets in Thambiah Reddy Road (West Mambalam). The former has been around for a longer period and the latter seems to be attracting more crowd (possibly due to the location?). The first picture didn't come out well.

Another trend is the usage of the word / font of "Hot Chips" in neighbourhood snack shops.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Notice Board Spamming

Those who live in Chennai would have definitely noticed such notice boards in front of every house / apartment. During the last 3 / 4 years, advertisers seem to have taken keen interest in displaying such "No entry for visitor vehicles" / "No entry for salesmen" boards in residential localities. Although one such board is more than enough for each apartment / house, one could normally notice 2 - 4 boards in each gate. To me, these look like the new age wall posters. The real intent of the advertisers is revealed when one realizes that the advertisers name often occupies 50 - 75% of the space in the notice board and the genuine message occupies only the remaining 25 - 50%. Why can't advertisers stop putting such notice boards when they see that one such board is already present in the gate? 3 - 4 boards is definitely an overkill.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Making Sense of Indian Blog Readership Stats

ET comes up with an astounding number for the number of blog readers in India. So far we have had many reports on the number of Indian blogs. The number is usually in the range of 40K – 100K. There has been no firm report on the kind of hits Indian blogs receive. Regular bloggers would be able to tell stories about the hardwork involved in building a loyal readership base of a few hundred / thousand readers per day. If we use that as a benchmark, one would realize that the total readership for Indian blogs would not be very high.

You are in for a surprise if you thought blogs are a metro, elite consumer phenomenon.

With almost 86% of the 25 million odd internet users in the country regularly checking out blogs (second only to e-mailing), nearly 59% coming from middle-to-low income group (essentially socio-economic class B&C ) and approximately half being from outside the top eight cities, blogging and internet have well and truly become a mass medium in India.

I would think twice before accepting the above number. This report puts the Indian blog readership at a little over 20 million. The report doesn’t define what they mean by regular reader. For all you know, it could be once every 3 months. Even that seems like a very high number. Let’s try to compare this stats with the US, where Internet penetration & PC ownership is generally on the higher side. This Sep 2005 report by research firm Pew Internet put the percentage of bloggers and blog readers at 27% of the Internet users. A figure in the high single digits could be a fair reflection of the current readership in India.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

‘Gilpans’ man as Mylapore Muthuswamy

Sometime ago, I had posed a question on why fictional characters have rhyming names. Here is another one from the Star & Vijay TV stable. A quick visit to the Star TV site indicates that they are focussing a lot on supplementing their TV revenues with mobile content and downloads.

Muthuswamy who hails from Mylapore is the popular 'reverse cool' hero who insists on selling the world his super cool mobile content, whether it is the nursery rhyme 'Piggy on railway tracks' in his truly unique and endearing Muthu style. The cool Muthu wallpapers of him dressed as hot super heroes, or even his version of the hopscotch and marbles are a statement of his unique attitude and style that has made him so talked about.

Monday, July 03, 2006

‘Ad’ding To The Confusion

In his weekly column, The Hindu's Readers' Editor touches upon various issues related to advertisement ethics in the newspaper:
First some fundamentals: advertisements sustain a newspaper. In the case of The Hindu they contribute approximately 80 per cent of the revenue, the realisation from cover (sale) price being 20 per cent. And second, a newspaper is a commercial venture that has a very large employee-force; besides meeting running costs, the venture must generate a surplus to invest in improving its technology-based infrastructure.

When the first "wrap around" advertisement — a display surrounded by editorial matter — appeared in The Hindu, there was a howl. "Eye-gouging rather than eye-catching," "never expected The Hindu to resort to such gimmicks which other papers did": there were some opinions. This is mixing news with advertisement, and once the distinction is lost, the value of the newspaper is lost; it is acceptable in supplements, but not in main news pages, so went the comments.

I'm sure somebody or the other would have written to him about how IIPM ads look very similar to other regular articles in The Hindu. I think the readers won't complain much if The Hindu uses such unethical advertising to subsidize the cover price to the levels of Deccan Chronicle :-)

Churumuri in the news again

After making The Hindu respond to a blog allegation, Churumuri has managed yet another feat by gathering lot of people to back it's demand for a recognition for R K Narayan in Mysore. Churumuri's efforts clearly show that blogs can be used to generate attention for various causes.