Quick review of recent reads #2

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After entering XL, I rarely read any books other than the course materials. Most of the time I was busy behind the laptop screen doing some assignments or projects. Even if I found some free time, I never felt like reading a book, would watch some new Tamil movie which relaxes me a lot. During my summer internship I found some time to read some books. Recently a couple of weeks during travel I could read.

Predictably irrational by Dan Airely 

The basic assumption of Traditional Economics is – “All Humans are Rational, we always make rational choices “. But this book is a fascinating examination of why human beings are wired and conditioned to react irrationally. We human beings are a selfish bunch, so it's all the more surprising to see how easily we can be manipulated to behave in ways that run counter to our own self-interest.  What I learned from Predictably Irrational is that everyone is irrational sometimes, and that's OK. We're not perfectly logical creatures, after all. The trick is training yourself to know when you're most likely to make irrational choices, and to resist those impulses. I would say this books increased my interest in Behavioural Economics. I would rate this a 4.5 / 5 in terms of value add, style of writing and research done.

Freakonomics by Steven Levitt

No special mention required about this book, as this is one of the book most reviewed, and also you can refer the Freakonomics blog at NY Times. But this is also of the same genre similar to behavioural economics. “Conventional wisdom is often shoddily formed and devilishly difficult to see through” – You will understand this if you read this book. A must read if you would like to understand many economic problems could be related to something which are not obvious. One of the most famous correlations gave by him is the Link between - US crime rate and Legalising Abortion. I would rate a 4/5 for this book.

I have started again, at present I am reading Gregory Robert’s – Shantaram.

Previous Reviews

1. Quick Review

2. Under Cover Economist

First Time !!!

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For the last 24 years I have never crossed her borders. Respected her Saluted her and I still would do always…But Tomorrow is the first time ever in my lifetime I am crossing the borders of India.
A first trip to Malaysia for a week. The best timing I could ever get. Hope It goes as planned ( Do we have a plan actually:)

A Dream come true…

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This Passion started with Windows 3.1 during my school days, this was a dream company. In-fact I am a  PC!!!
Waiting to explore through World without Walls….

Cycling to Chandil

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For this Gandhi Jayanthi, I and Hrishi planned a small adventure. Biking till Chandil from XLRI.  We started at about 3.30 in the evening when the weather was very good for cycling. By 5.00 we touched 30 KM on the high way to Chandil. But it was getting dark slowly and the NH 33 highway is a typical India road with many potholes and jammed by trucks. Hence we decided to return and had to abandon the trip to the chandil Dam which required additional 25 Km from that place. When we were returning it became completely dark by 6.00 PM. The worst was the vehicles coming in the opposite direction came with full beam and they never mind to use the dipper. It was becoming to tough to cycle when it started to rain. But still we managed to reach campus by 7.30. It was a 4 hour cycling with a small break twice for 5 minutes. We were happy we were able to cover atleast 60Km in the trip.

You can check the track in this link.

A One stop place for all NRIs

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Few of my friends in US have come up with a website, similar to internet directory, with links very relevant for any Non Resident Indians.They call it as an online guide to NRIs across the world.

According to NRISpot.com

Top 10 reasons to use the site.
1. When you want get a snapshot of what’s happening in India in a single page - news, business, sports, stock exchange, currency rates, gold price.

2. When you want to find popular sites to read Indian news, Cinema News, Blogs and Cricket Scores.

3. When you are looking to send money to India, and want to compare exchange rates provided by the different Banks or Service Providers.

4. When you want to find the best sites to  listen to Indian music.

5. When you want to know the best sites to print and mail photos to India for less than $3.

6. When you are looking for a site that offers information on grocery stores or temples or restaurants in your US city.

7. When you want to find out the best sites to book tickets (flight, bus, train, hotels etc) in India (or to India).image

8. When you want to find out the best sites for Indian Classifieds is the US or in India.

9. When you want to find out the best sites for Indian Recipes.

10. And rather simply, if you want to know what types of websites, products and services are available to NRIs!

According to me, the five important things I liked are..

1. Easy navigation to links

2. Home page with very often checked Facts (Sensex, Exchange rates etc.)

3. Content Related to Indians

4. Useful links related to day to day activities ( Bill Pay, Shopping ,Matrimony etc.)

5. Some offers to regular visitors (A recent offer is sending photo prints free to India)

With the increase in the number of NRIs and also our reliance with internet, this site would be a readymade guide for day to day activities.If this site could scale up by providing a platform for NRIs to interact among themselves within the site in addition to the static links, then this site would be a home page of all NRIs.

2 Sets Down and Still

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Federer was down with two sets today at French open fourth round against Tommy Haas. Third Round it was 4-4 and suddenly my Hero rose to the occasion by giving a deathly blow. 6-4 followed by a bagel 6-0 and a 6-2 to uproot the opponent. This scene would give lot of confidence for any Federer fan. I am boosted with Confidence today.

I am just Hoping Federer would achieve the most expected win at the French Open this Sunday.

BING – Microsoft’s New Search Avatar

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Today, Microsoft announced a new avatar of its search engine – Bing. I’ve been playing around with Bing www.bing.com since morning, and what I liked is that it’s not just a search engine, but designed to help make decisions. In fact we are making a paradigm shift and calling it a ‘Decision Engine’ because of the way It empowers people to gain insight and knowledge from the Web, moving more quickly to making the important decisions.
Its pretty cool! The new snazzy design will have a beautiful daily image on the homepage which will have hotspots embedded in it to let you explore the picture in detail
Try the Best Match feature that makes finding relevant information, by putting up front information like customer service numbers for retail sites, the ability to track a package right from the search page, deep links to common pages within the site and much more.
It also has this cool explorer pane on the left that lets me easily get to related searches, past searches, news on the topic etc. It even has a quick tabs feature that anticipates my intent when searching. For example, when I’m searching for a favorite musician, it filters results by albums, biography, videos and images….amazing!
Check out the Video and image search – it has these handy filtering tools that let me sort by size, color, style and much much more. In fact, when I search for videos, it even gives me a preview, when I simply hover over one!
Bing launches globally on 3rd June and some of the features will roll out in India in the coming months. You must check it out at www.bing.com.

A day at Google’s office

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Long time since I posted, I must blame my laziness to stretch a bit extra. But the last two months some great incidents happened in my life which I must share to all. These incidents or accidents are great for me, ‘coz they had been my great desires while I was doing engineering at GCT.
After winning the Google Got the ‘App’titude challenge our team at XL did not had time to think about it also due to the prolonged placements for seniors, I was also completely engrossed in the finance assignments and other end term projects during that time. One fine day on March, we got a mail from Google Gurgaon office inviting us to their office. It was a surprise for me that my dream of visiting is happening. So we fixed the dates, but only Thunga and Chintan could join with me for thee visit. Our Professor Mr.Ashish Pani and Amrit Pal Singh the other team mate could not join for the visit due to prior commitments.
The whole visit was taken for us by a Googler – Shashank. We got flight tickets booked by him from Jamshedpur to Delhi on 25 March ‘09. Our day at Google would be on 26th March. We reached Delhi on 25th night at Delhi Airport. The great honor for me was when I saw a person standing at arrivals with a Google Signboard engrossed with our names. I immediately got the signboard from him and preserved it. ( Come on – for the first time I am treated like a VIP by one of my most loved companies – Google and Microsoft. It does not happen every other day.)
All three of us felt Google is pampering us with flight trip and huge individual rooms at Ibis. But that was not the end. The next day ,
Date : 26th March 2009
Morning 7.45 AM : Beep Beep… My Phone rang… I woke up and attended it… It was the driver sent by Google to pick us for the Office.  I got ready and so were Thunga and Chintan and we got into car at about 8.45 AM
Morning 9.15 AM: We all three were in car and stuck in the usual Gurgaon traffic. We were moving to Google office. I got a call from Shashank saying what happened to us since we were supposed to be in the office by 9.00 AM and the director is waiting for us. I almost fainted, I made the director of Google wait :). It was a great day for me I thought.
Morning 9.45 AM: We all three were in the office of Google India Director.We discussed about the Contest on how we went about implementing the Apps at XL. He also told his experiences in life and it turned out to a general chat with him.
Morning 10.15 AM: After the meeting, Thunga had instinct to drink coffee, so there was Costa inside the office and Shasank took us there. Thunga took the coffee and was about to pay for it. Suddenly it struck, come on you dont pay for food in Google. We saw around it was a huge cafeteria with Pizzas to south Indian food stuffs. I can grab anything for free here today, I picked the Red bull from the case kept there (I never purchased a Red bull, and had argued it as useless for the amount we pay. But today I am treated by Google).Then I notices food was every where in the office you just need to stretch 20 Meters to grab anything :).
Morning 10.45 AM: We were in the Green Room. What were we doing ?. There was a video shoot on us, yes it was a video case study on our Apps Experience. We did some rehearsals and finally with in an Hour our case study presentation was over. I would update the link here once I get it from Google.
Morning 11.45 AM: We had a presentation on Google Ad-words Non Dedicated services.
After Noon 12.30 PM: Presentation on Google Analytics by Analytics team
After Noon 1.00 PM: I was damn hungry and we had a royal lunch in Google cafeteria.
After Noon 1.30 PM: We had a presentation by the Sales and Marketing team of Google.
At 2.30 PM,  It was coming to an end and we were presented the Winners Certificate for being the National Level Winners of the Google Challenge. We were showered with lots of Google Goodies (What no Bags to T-Shirts and some Gadgets too :) After that we were dropped at Airport and all three of us boarded on Jet Airways with fond memories to cherish.
When I finished my Computer Science Engineering -  There were only two companies that I considered the as my dream companies. One was Microsoft and Other was Google. Google for the revolution they had made in the way we work. We cant work without search in any job. Microsoft for my passion on Windows and DOS which I  had been working with from the day I started to use computers in the year 1996. Windows is so entrenched in my life and I dreamt being a part of Microsoft one day during that time.
So I finally had a chance to see Google and I also had a similar chance to be with Microsoft which I would write in my next post.

The Sixth Sense

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A computer in everything and everywhere. I used to wonder after seeing Hollywood movies like Minority report & Paycheck whether the technology they showed will ever be invented. It was a system screen projected on any surface and you operate the system using the surface. And it came to world in the name of Sixth Sense.
Please see the TED show, where sixth sense was presented to know more about it.

And the Results of Google 'App'titude Challenge

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Today I received a mail from Google Inc. It was really exhilarating to read each and every line.  The mail goes as mentioned below.
Hello everyone,
As you all are aware, Got The 'App'titude Challenge concluded on February 28, 2009. In the days that followed, we reviewed the accrued usage data and are now ready to announce the much anticipated winner.
Xavier Labour Relations Institute (XLRI), Jamshedpur, have won the challenge by demonstrating the highest usage of Google Apps products. The XLRI team working on Google Apps implementation was led by Prof. Ashish Pani. The other members are “Hariharan R, Chintan Agarwal, Pal Singh and Srikanth Thunga”. The team showed great enthusiasm and managed to stay on top of the challenge from the beginning. They named this initiative XL CONNECT, ran a pilot and implemented Google Apps within a month from the day they secured approval from the college decision makers. They also conducted marketing campaigns to inspire students to find innovative ways to use Google Apps services. 
Alliance Business Academy - Bangalore, Birla Institute of Management Technology - Delhi, Jaypee Business School - Noida, Mudra Institute of Communications – Ahmedabad, Zakir Husain College of Engineering & Technology- Aligarh Muslim University, and National Institute of Technology - Calicut are some of the other colleges which had very high Google Apps usage. These colleges now join the elite group of colleges including Indian Institute of Management - Ahmedabad and National Institute of Design - Ahmedabad that are using Google Apps extensively.
In addition, over 100 colleges in India participated & implemented Google Apps as part of this challenge. Our thanks to those teams also for taking the lead in improving communication & collaboration capabilities in their college.
Got The "App"titude Challenge
Main Site: http://www.google.co.in/apps/gottheapptitude
For me the best part in Winning this is the prize :). Below mentioned is the prize we will be getting.
  • A case study to be featured on our Google Apps website as well as a video testimonial featured on our Google Apps YouTube channel
  • A letter of recommendation from FMS and Google
  • An all expense paid trip for your team to visit one of our Google India offices
Update:  Our team at Google Gurgaon office, an all expense paid trip from XLRI. Chintan, Srikanth and I from our implementation team visited their office  

Related Posts
  1. A Small Sense of Satisfaction
  2. Students testimonial – Update from Google
  3. Google Truly Brilliant – Amazing Move

Viddyho Tinyurl Link on GTalk IM - is a Phishing Link

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If you ever get a Instant message from any one with a message “lol check this out http://tinyurl.com/xxx“, Don’t enter your GMAIL id and password to login which it will be requesting to watch a video. It was very suspicious the moment I saw. If you enter your Gmail Id and password to login, it will send a Instant message to all the people in your Gtalk list. A nice prank, but a dirty idea.

So don’t fall into this phishing prank. This is very recent, I got the instant messages from about 5 people already at this time. Convey to all of your friends to stop this. More details of this prank will come out soon.

Obama of India

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Nowadays when I am surfing, the usual Google banner ads which will have some un-known face is showing a familiar face. In the last two months, it was only one face and tri-color ( Its only one – Saffron:) is what that captures attention. It is Mr. L K Adavni’s prime minister campaign - for the Indian 15th Lok Sabha Elections.
I did some googling to find out the amount of money spent for the Advertising campaign – Its huge – Rs.250 Crore campaign. In this economic scenario this is really a huge amount for advertisement campaign.
He has followed Barack Obama’s style campaign by completely utilizing the web for the campaign. He has created a Website , Forum ,Blog, Orkut Community , You Tube Channel & Facebook page. A huge money has been poured into the Google Adwords and Banners adds campaign.This is probably the first time by an Indian politician. I am not giving any personal opinion on the party or the candidate here. But I am impressed on the party’s effort ( or any consultant who gave the idea) in using the power of internet for the elections.
That is a great move for me because of one reason, this should create an awareness to many Indian people about the power of Technology. This I see as just a precursor. Now every politician will be forced to follow and flood the world wide web. This will bring out money from deep-black-pockets of India which is in a way useful for online ads community beneficiaries like me who display online ads in our websites, 

A new way of learning

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This term at XL is going to be really  hectic. This 3 months will be worse than Term II. In Term I,most of the time I spent in learning Micro-economics and I spared a little extra time in learning Indian Constitution & Preliminary Labor Laws. The way economics was taught and the approach in the testing pattern was totally alien for me till my graduation. The exams were completely a problem solving approach, whereas in lectures were about discussing concepts.
I expected to relax in Term II , but what I got was totally the opposite. I had to go through a new type of pedagogy, The Case Approach. Performance Management was the course which was completely a course which went by case approach. I struggled in the beginning but it helped during my Summer Placement. I never thought I could crack a E&Y‘s consult interview  especially a Case based GD. Amidst the tedious Term II, Summer Placement consumed enormous time and what followed after that was completely strenuous. Projects Submissions and Quizzes, End Term and at last a good learning in this  term. The subjects I enjoyed in this term were Compensation, Performance management and Appraisal, Macro- Economics ( Any day it is an interesting subject for me) and Financial Accounting.
When I came back from home last week, Term III started with a jolt with 4 classes of Corporate Finance I have done 5 assignments. Every other day I am now doing Financial analysis of my company – Hatsun Agro Products Limited – which was allocated for me. For those in South India know this company very well for its household brand names – Arun Ice cream, Arokya milk and Komatha milk. The subject is really very interesting and I am enjoying to the maximum in lectures. The way the subject is taught matters a lot. I came here due to my inclination for training and development, now teaching as a profession has become one of my aspiration.
A general perception with people - all subjects can be taught to students in one best way – i.e. Lecturing , as Fredrick Taylor’s Taylorism says about industrial labor. Every subject that is to be taught to students must be adapted to the target audience with the different pedagogical methods, testing methods and especially the course content. I don’t think this is being thought of in the huge number of newly opened engineering college in Tamil Nadu. I am saying especially about this place, because I belong to Coimabatore , a cosmopolitan city in Tamil Nadu, were I have seen in during my graduation days the number of engineering colleges increased ten folds. The new colleges co not have quality faculties and a good course plans. I strongly now feel, I must bring in a change to academia with whatever I could contribute. For now, I will wait for this term to get over and complete my internship in a well known software MNC at Hyderabad.

Social Entrepreneurship Conference at XL

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 “Providing Access to Sustainable Development”. When I saw the logo published in the conference brochures, I had a contemplation on how brand managers would have an intrinsic motivation when they see their brain child brand being used by commoners. Whenever I see people using XL Connect , and when I see the logo, it gives me a satisfaction in transforming existing thing and making it helpful to others. This is the relational benefits one gets as a brand manager other than transactional benefits like salary, perquisites in the job.
Recently I had an opportunity to take part in a logo designing contest here at XL. The logo was to be used in a National Social Entrepreneurship Conference. The conference is being held for the first time in XL, which brings in all the Social Entrepreneurs in one forum. My logo was selected for the conference which portrays the conference theme
This logo designing also gave me an opportunity to design the website for the conference. This is my first functional website for an event, which would serve a social cause. Joomla CMS was the savior for me to create a quick website. I would advise everyone who would start to explore Joomla for the first time, install XAMPP bundle in their local system.XAMP is promoted by Apache friends, and its an open source bundle with a cross platform PHP, Apache HTTP Server, MySql database and Perl scripting. The first time Joomla experience was a great experience, you can exploit a huge list of web templates in the internet and also a vast set of plugins for the website. I used siteground-j15-59 theme, and tweaked a little in its script to have the complete browser occupied layout and this helped me in removing the blog layout. Also a bit of Photoshop efforts gave me a good webpage header.

The photos in the header image were shot by me and our friends at XL during our rural visit here at Jharkhand. The left side of the header is existing conditions in most of Jharkhand villages and right side of the header is the image of farming which happens for a short period of just 2 months depending on monsoon. If monsoon fails agriculture here stops even for those two months. The Website its XL’s initiative towards Social Entrepreneurship.You can have a look at the website here.I am nor writing about the conference, as the website will be the source of information.Thanks to Sigma (Social Initiative Group for Managerial Assistance), the organizers of the event for giving me this opportunity.