Archive for My views

Dilemma of a Indian Software Engineer

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I am having 4 years of experience working in a software MNC, had onsite oppurtunity, earning a decent salary and had good learning in initial years of working but now i have started realising that i am not moving anwhere, there is nothing much left to learn as part of product i work upon, my work more or less resembles with the fresher that join the organisation, or its about helping/ mentoring them, I will be gradually moving to project management but there also i dont see much learning , i hardly see my manager working they are just responsible for some project schedule maintainence , people management and so.

Most of the projects don’t require much technical competence, they are mostly legacy products that continue to evolve by copying code from here/there , Job which most of the people do can be done by traning any plain graduate and that is why software companies had people from all sort of colleges doing the same type of work.

There is hardly any recognition of talent because in reality nobody needs it here . All you need is a good luck to be in right project that can fetch you a onsite for a year or two and promotions. I know i am sounding very frustrated but believe me this is the truth and story of various of my friends.

Extracted from Rashmi Bansal’s awesome blog.

My response to query (as in comment on her blog).

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Rashmi , I wish guy/gal who raised ‘Whats wrong with being mediocre and happy’ question  few weeks back is reading this post. I am sure he will find few answers in this interesting query.

I am in similar situation from quite a while. I considered many options as suggested by readers of  your blog . After years of thinking  I am still a software engineer.

The Dilemma of SW engineer is whether he should take a low-on-everything ( excitement, motivation, creativity,risk) but high on social quotient (respect + money + status + rewards + lifestyle) or adre himself to take  road less travelled.

Nobody outside industry understand that SWITCH companies are sweatshops, serving bottom of the pyramid in software industry using most abundant & cheap resource available in india : underskilled unemployed young graduates. I am not complaining. If there is some one to blamed its’s our education system and ministry of HRD. Business is about making most of what you have. In a nation with 26 % population living BPL giving a decent standard of life to lakh of janata is commendable job by all measures. And I think nobody had any issue untill last few years.

So what exactly happend in last few years that triggered this ‘ Mujhe change chahiye’ (I  want change) phenomenon ?

A lot. We had two technology boom and busts. Then reality boom. Stock market boom and  bust. With indian economy clocking at 7%  plus rate from past many years we have witnessed rise of many other sectors. There is follow of overseas money in indian market and standard of life in india has improved for many. We have seen rise of indian middle class.

Whats this change ushed for a software engineer ?

Decline in social quotient. Earlier they had class of their own much higher in hierarchy. Now slowly but surely loosing that status. SW industry is maturing and with that benefits enjoyed by sw engineers.For a software engineer  this dilemma is not just about quality of work (creativity, motivation, risk- reward equation)  but its a sort of identity crisis. He want his status back. At higher level  this crisis is a harbinger of  bigger change in society . In coming years a critical mass whose  roti-kapada-makan needs got satisfied will start  seeking for more.  They will demand even better stanadard of life. This will not only create new challenge for individuals but to society and government too. To sustain  high standard of life and make class out of middle class require much more the what SWITCH companies can provide. To meet  this need we need a revolution more powerful then agriculture revolution, white revolution and another YK2  opportunity  put together. 

Talking about MBA and startups.I think both measures  are faddish. I meet many MBAs facing same issues as discussed. Startups need different kind of people. We know most of us do not have right startup DNA and startup environment is very unforgiving . Starup expect a lot. Talent, risk appetite, belief in delayed gratification, I-do-not-give-a-damn-what-society think attitude and lot more. Having  some tags like  MBA/IIT/IIM /ISB can  only make life little easier but will not gurrentee anything.

Do I have any  suggestions?

No. I have none. General  advice serve no purpose. Everybody want different thing from life.You have to decide what you want. Make sure you do not do not compare your inside with somebody’s outside.

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My Kingfisher experience.

Kingfisher_Airlines_big

Hype and expectations can kill any experience. And this is what happen when  I took Kingfisher Red light to Bangalore  early this month. Actully in past three month I got opportunity to fly with three different flier. As Kingfisher enjoy highest brand equity among indian flier I wanted to experience the difference. So I choose to fly with Kingfisher though it cost me Rs 1500 extra . It was a mixed experience.

Check-in Counter

Beginning was not very auspicous. Kingfisher’s counter at Delhi airport’s new terminal was total mess. Unequipped ground staff  took 20 min to issue single  boarding pass while passenger moved  from one line to other.

In-flight service:

Seating space is no different from other flier though seats cover were much neater.In-flight entertainment was a huge disppointment. Same flimsy headphone and nothing much  to watch and listen. To kill time I asked for something to read and attendent offered me a year old flight magazine. Aah!  those flight attendent. Young , bright, slim and beautiful. Lazy too. Personally I feel they got a very hard and boring job to do and it damn hard to impress to all people all the time. I do not  know how they feel about that make-up and forced smile but I kind a hate  that.

gpmcpvxx03207jpgam1 If I compare this with other two  flier I think  Indian Airlines  had best in-flight services with well trained and courteous staff but it  interiors was shabby. In fact at one time I thought if  I am traveling in some third class taxi. I had better overall experience with Jet airways.

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Quarterly Report 2009 : Movies

Thanks to recession and my resignation I had all the time in this  world to watch movies. And I did took this opportunity watching some good cinema. I really liked watching work of Guru dutt.  Bonus point of watching Gurudatt’s work is  that you get see Vahida Rahman , the most elegant actress bollywod ever produced ,a lot. Apart from that I watch some good hollywood movies released last year. I specially liked Changeling and Revolutionary Roads

Recent works  like Dev-D, Sorry bhai and Dil kabadi reflect tremendous change in relationships and there intrepetation in  indian  society. Although these movies were for metro audience there was much noise from moral police then expected. An indicator of social change?

1. Dil kabadi (***1/2)

I started this year with watching to movies back to back.  First I watched Gajani  that left me feeling cheated ad abused. Then I watched Dil kabadi. I liked it. Its a experimental comedy movies based on relationships, infidelity and middle life crisis of almost perfect marriages. Seems that  they copied ideas from Woody Allen’s Husbands and Wives. I could not expect a better cast and their performance. No dull momet in whole movies. Moreover director stay way from being preachy or judgemental. This is not  a mass market movies  and  even urban class will  find hard to digest some of aspects of storyline. If you like Pyaar ke side effect and prefer aunbaised take on life and relationships you should  watch this movie.

2. Gajani (**)

Bakwaas.

3. Guru Dutt’s  Pyaasa, Saahab biwi aur gulam, Chodhvi ka chand. (****)

I believe Guru dutt is most handsome actor and most talented director bollywood ever produced.  These three movies are considered to be his finest work. I liked payaasa most. It got everything  you need to make this a timeless movie. I cannot  not remember any other movie that had touch upon social issues emphatically. 

Chodvi ka chand was a little  disappointment  becoz of the change of  values in our society. Life and society depicted in movies is totally different from our world. We are zillion times more selfish and self absorbed then their times.

Sahab biwi aur gulaam was again complicated cinema. Very narrow and penetrative storyline. But again this is a old ties movie.You can watch it to appreciate work  of direction and many reasons but will not able to relate with story.

One thing that is common in all movies is directors focus on human life and imperfections  in  society. It is expected. At that time direcetor do not  compromise with their work  withs stars or item numbers. Moreover while watching them you hardly feel entertained. None of these movies tell you perfect story with a happy ending. No these are not formula movies. They present the foundation of bollywod when cinema had much larger goal them fame and fortune.

4. Lucky by chance (***1/2)

Good movie. A  fresh , practical and unpredictable  story, above average performance by cast and imperfect ending . I like it.

5. Raaz 2 (**/12)

Disappointing.  Kangna  now is very predictable and hence pakaooo. Very week story. Songs are good. Story is good  before first half but second half is total let down and make you feel ‘mere paise waapis karoo”.

6.Sorry bhai (***)

Not a bad movie as such but very unsocial story. Even if you are highly educated, ulta modern, filthy rich indian you will find hard to digest this story. again a very experimental and urban world cinema. Nice casting and good performance by all specially Sabaana Azami. I dont know how avg cinema goer will preceive this movie who is feed with “bhabhi ma ke samaan hoti hai” ideas.

7. Accidental Husband (**)

Timepass. Boring and impractical love story. Run-of th- mill hollywood cinema. Nothing new or exciting.

8.Taken (**)

Fast paced ordinary story. One-man-army father trying to save his daughter from kidnappers. Predictable and unconvincing.

9. Happening (*)

OMG so boring. PLzzzzzzzzzz avoid.

10. Gran Torino (****)

Awesome movie and surprising  climax. Very fresh and inspiring story.Great direction and acting by Clintwood. Must watch.

11. No country for old men (*)

Soooooooo boring. Very old, slow and dull story. I am not able to understand  motivation behind this movie.

12. Revolutionary road (***1/2)

Must watch. Fresh, distrubing and convincing story. Great perfomance by Kate and Lennardo de caprrio.

13. Vicky Crristina Barcelona (**1/2)

Very complicated relationship story. I really dont understand why Woody Allen selected this story. Watch it and let me know what is that I missed .I respect Woody Allen but  I find this movie very disappointing.

14.7 pound (**)

Depressing and damn slow. Unable to finish,

15.Changeling (****)

Awesome movie . Based on real and inpiration story. Good perfomance by Angelina Jolie. Must watch.

16. Bank Job (**)

Ordinary hollywood pulp fiction. Timespass.

17. Never back down (**1/2)

Time pass. Central idea is good and even story is not that bad. Buts its kid’s cinema.

18. Bankok Dangerous (**)

Good timepass.

19.He is not that into you(**)

Very disappointing. I had much higer expectations with the cast. Very boring parallel runing love  stories. Remember salaam-e-ishq minus the fun part. 

20. Rachel Getting Married (**1/2)

Timepass. Creepy story around confused relationships, defunct family and a drug addicted gal who killed his bro accidently and is in rehab. We will similar stories in India  if capitalism  followed same path as did in western world. Such movies are here to remind us that not everything about west is cool or great.

21. The Reader (***)

Old and complicated story. Good performance by Kate. Again a story that I  find hard  to relate wit. But still watchable.

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Quarterly Report 2009 : Books

As I  mention on my opening post for this year  I have observed a significant shift in my reading preference since  late last year. I am no longer intersted in success stories, incorrect or influenced biograprahies and managment formule books. I am also convinced that most of the author lack ability to present both side of the argument and are more intersted to profess ‘the truth’ then working hard on ‘a truth’  convincingly and comprehensivly. Moreover I realised that rationality, logic, and knowledge alone cannot solve all problems and I must also learn and understand emotional, social side view of problems and individuals.

Consequently I am trying to be even more selective and balanced in my reading. I wil be reading few classics in coming months although Iam finding hard to comprehend authors understanding of matter. I started reading Iliad in the begining of this year but was not able to finish this epicof Greeks.Although laguage is simple I am not able to gain the underline merit of epic.  Similarly I find hard to read novel based on historic context. I started reading Daughetr of Fortune but was not able to finish it too. Same way I started reading Possesion by A.S.Byatt but was very slow in reading through it. Reading good fiction is hard. Dificulty comes in two folds. First they strech your imagination too far and second its very hard to relate with the context and times. Inablity to appreciate good litery work is another issue. Good literature is creative work and I have to develop really good ight-brain skills to make myself absorb finer works of great writers.

By end of this month I will have read :

a) THE PENGUIN KRISHNAMURTI READER by MARY LUTYENS

Very beautiful small book based on thoughts of Krishnamurti , one of the most extraordinary Eastern thought leader. I am able to relate with many of his views specially  on education.  I would like to add this in my under gradute must reading list.

2.PLATO THE REPUBLIC by DESMOND LEE

One of those books who can chnage a man . Requires many reading to grasp the essence. Will be reading it again soon. Must read for any undergraduate.

3. Sushi for Beginners: A Novel by Marian Keyes

Its a novel  revolving arund three gals. Not the best of novel I read but not boring also. 

4.Iliad Homer tarnslation by Taylor

Iliad is Mahabarat of Greeks. This war-epic envolves god,heros, and mens. Although laguage is beautiful and it could be one of the greatest  stories  ever told I  find very hard to appreciate the work. Somewhere in the middle  of story lord of immoratls disclosed how the whole war will end and Torjan will lose toDannans and I  lost my patience. Amzing stuf but i need help to absorb it. Do we have lectures on classics in Delhi in any collgee?

4. Crack in forever (recemmended)

Its a painful  love story. I have not read many love stories  so I don’t  have any reference to compare this work.  If you like  ‘Notebook’ ( my fav romantic movie)  then novel  is for you.

5. The Confession of  Economic Hit Man by John Perkins

Awesome.  Most of us think that our lifes and world around us world is runing  on some strong, pure, and rational  principals which are  guided & guarded by well-intended peoples. Moreover many of us hate politics and politicians considering them as reason for al chos we see in our public life. But as current economic criss have proved , reality is quite comples and unclear ven to the msartest of peoples. Politics is one of the most strongest force of our times and many a times its the only force that decide who will enjoy limited resources on planet earth. As long as I remember everyone around me awe and respect USA . For many , the  definition of world power is USA. But I doubt they have ever given thought to the politices and strategies used by USA to become world power.

This book give one explanation for USA’s ability to attact world’s  wealth. Its very disturbing and equally convincing. Even if I consider this as work of fiction  this is the most powerful political novel I have read. Its very well written and shocking. You will never find  history, economics, geography and politics effortlessly mixed in single book.

After reading this you will realise why left is so skeptical about our relationship with USA and may able to apprecaite our politicians  ability to keep right distance from USApolicies. Last but not least it remind us that with so many nation fighting hard to again access to world resources, path to world power is ruthless and full of compromises.

6. The great Gatsby by F.Scoot Fitzgerald

Just like most Indian love stories ( heer-raanjah, Soni-mahiwaal, rishi-farhaad etc etc ) this american love story had tragic ending. Something that never expected when I started reading this. Its a beautiful  story with all the drama, passion, love,  emotional aatyachaar you find in typical KJ movies. But its an american love story so instead of  involve fight with society and family, here its about individual needs, passions and love.I  was able to connect with Gatby and his love for his sweetheart and felt sorry for him in the end.It was reallly tragic to see painful end of hislife and love. I realised why bollywood make happy ending cinema.

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Social Networks : Business models and monetization

Social networks are plenty and in past few years  they have grown both horizontally from dynamic user groups to platforms and vertically from  social networks for gays and lesbians to  invitation only groups for social elites.

Social networks are  hugely succesful in India too. According to latest data from camScore indian social networks have grown 50 % in the year 2007-08. Moreover  majority of web users are now social networkers.

india-social-networks-stats

But despite this phenomenal  adaptation of SNs idea , social networks are  loosing  more money  then they make for their investors.

This post is my attempt to understand the whole social network monetisation problems and related  issues.

Social networks are used as marketing and branding  media  and make money through advertising  same way as TV, Radio, Newspaper  does. This way  advertisiding drives the form and functions of social networks. Social networks have to cater needs of two different parties, the actual  user, who want to use them as they wish to with minimum  interference  from anyone incling owners and advertiser who pay for runing the show and what users to behave in curtain way. This create a disconnect between interest of parties involved and there a contest going on between user and advertisers where social network trying to balance the  needs of both  parties.

Social network are new kind of media  in advertising industry and do not enjoy same level acceptence and trust among media buyers  as enjoyed by TV & newspapers. They are yet to prove their effectiveness and metrics used to evaluate thier effectiveness are evolving.

Other challenges involoved in monetizsing are related to very nature of social network. For exampl most of the network rely on user generated content where social network have very limited freedom to play with content. Most of the user activities are action oriented like writing on wall, poking friends, sending sms and hence  provided little space for text/display adversting model. Users are agnostic to any significant changes in social network structure and forms done to suit the  needs and requirements of advertisers. Attempts to sell/use user information to third party resulted  in backlashs and there is increasing awareness among users about privacy related issues. Many user privacy watchdogs  are seeking change in privacy policies of  social networks.

Below is more detailed  analysis of two major issues related to monetisation of  Social networks.

1. Low CPM  or Unsuitable metrics – CPM may not be the best indicator of social network analysis

Lookery, an ad network specializing in social media, offers display ads on MySpace, Facebook, and Bebo for only 13 cents per thousand times the ad is served (CPM); Yahoo’s average CPM is estimated at $13. Video ads on MySpace reportedly fetch just $25 per thousand showings; CBS charges $50 on affiliated sites, NBC as much as $75. (Source)

Next question will be  is why SN have low CPM . The reason is that most social network reply soley on advertising revenue.

Regardless of the model (CPM, CPC, CPA), advertisers value three key measures: reach, frequency, and targeting. Many social media sites certainly score high on reach and frequency, but how do they fare on targeting? Targeting is key, because it determines the CPM rates advertisers are willing to pay. And CPM rates vary very widely: from $16-20 for TripAdvisor to $0.10 for Facebook and MySpace. See, for example, this media plan. (Source)

There is another dimention to low CPM for social networks which is quite counterintutive.

The assumption is that if users are worth money, then more users are worth more money. Theoretically, an infinite number of users are worth an infinite amount of money. It’s simply not true.

There is a point of diminishing returns in Web advertising. Enormous traffic creates a glut of inventory, which inevitably drives the value of ads down. The most highly valued inventory on the Web is branded, high-quality media content. It’s valuable because the content projects value onto the advertiser. When Target advertises on MTV.com, the brand benefits from MTV’s youth-oriented content, giving the brand a youthful shine. In contrast, utility inventory lacks the compelling context that advertisers need to help build identity and image, and in many cases may include negative images. The result is that advertisers have no cause to align their brands with products like Social Networks. Unlimited inventory and negative brand association is a perfect storm for low CPMs.(Source)

Extra : Here is interesting explanations and maths that is involved in calcauting CPM

2. User behaviour

Both  social network & advertsier would like to use datamining techniews to target there advertsing to improve their CPM . But this leds to problems related to privacy fo user information . User behaviour give  different challenges to social network. On social networks, people are primarily concerned with communicating with their friends, not looking to buy items or services. Moreover when marketers try to shake things up, users don’t take kindly to major changes. There are issues related to trust and privacy of user infomation and this lack of trust is mutual.

the fundamental problem that social networks face when trying to monetize through an advertising-driven business model is the lack of trust.  To be more explicit, while brand advertisers have historically trusted people as consumers, they do not trust them in the new role of producer (e.g. uncontrollable content).  Likewise, people who are armed with the power of interactivity are also demonstrating that they are increasingly distrustful of brand advertisers (e.g. ad-skipping).(Source)

I come across few exellent presentations related  to subject. Here are two of them

In the next post I will look for solutions that are been tried to resolve problems mentions above  and will  do some analysis on  how successful are  they in generating revenue for companies. I would  also like to cover  indian  social networks are trying to resolve monetization conundrum

Extra:  Social Networking Is Not a Business* ( Technology review – registration required)

Update : There is change of priorities  in professional and career side and due lack  of time to research I am finishing this article here.

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Mr. Advani did’t get ‘the change’ thing right.

Its a well known fact that  social web and web marketing and played significant role in promoting  Obama as a change leader. Taking hint from his campaign success our politician  are gearing up to use social media to woo voters and to reach masses with  major political parties all set to spending good amount  of public money on web.

But was it just new media that helped  Obama be a winner ?  Will change in  media will help if the message itself is stale and unconvincing?

In case of Obama I think is that its was much more then the new media. It was about of telling a very convincing story. It was  about  selling  a convincing vision of a strong and constructive America. It was about hope to bring positive change in american politics.  Internet was just another media  to reach people and was  not the message itself.

advani

Coming back to our politicians I  have few quetion to ask to  Mr. L.K Advani :

a) Whats  your message and how is it different from from what you told last time?

b)Why I trust you?

 If its is same boring raath yatra brandished  hindutava based politices  I doubt social media will help you win my vote.  

Meaasge must be tailored  as per audience expecations. Citizen of net in india are young, educated and informed  people.They will never buy bullshit you soled to naive indian villagers.

So Mr. Advani if you really want  my vote tell me something new and different.Tell me something bold, original, positive and progressive.  Tell me that you will have 30 % more younger politian in cabinet then opposition had. Tell me that your party  will not give tickets to any one with criminal background. Tell me that even if you dont win you behave like a mature opposition party. Tell me that its not about hindu or muslims but about India. Tell me that you will  not talk about 19th century crap to 21st century Indian and help us to lok forward. Please tell me that you will give real competition in  political ideas and innovation to Congress. Just tell me something convincing.

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Is Prasoon Joshi the new Anu Malik?

I dont know. I was listening   this very beautiful song from movie Delhi6 on youtube and I find this comment

Prasun joshi stole this song. This is a folk chhattisgarhi song. It was the composition by late Gangaram Shivare and the singer was Bhularam yadav of this folk song. Later on Ramadutt Joshi, Dr. Rekha Joshi and Prabhadutt sang this folk song in 1970. Shame to Parson Joshi and Rehman – you even not thanked the real artists of chhattisgarh.
Commenter had done his homework as has given all the right infomation required to verify his claim.
 
Song is really cool and if you have some countryside experience you will definitely going to like it. When I listened this song  on Meow FM station I immediatly google it to find more about it. For any lyrist to  write such lyrics you not only require amazing creativity but also should have deep roots and  first hand experience of  indian culture. I was quite surprised when I find  that songs’s lyrists is Prasoon Joshi ( for composer  I  guessed  it right i.e the one and only A.R rahman). But for lyrist I was expecting Gulzar or Javed. Then I googled for Prasson Joshi ( baal ki khal nikaalney ki purani aadat hai 😉 ) I didt get much about his background and I made note to  follow more of his work. I was very much impressed.
 
And today I read this comment. I am not sure how true this comment is but I am just wondering what if Prasson turn out to be yet another Anu Malik.
 

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