From WordPress to Blogger

Everyone loves more of what they have, be it money, success, fame, popularity, or even followers and blog stats. I am no exception. I have had some followers on this blog, some regular visitors and some very helpful well-wishers. These people have read me constantly, have suggested me areas of improvement and have been true friends in channelising my randomness.

This is not an end of the odyssey. This is not the end of my blogging career. In fact, it is a kind of a new start. I would like to think of this more as a transition to something better, to something more ambitious for the future. It is, in fact, because of this constant encouragement and support from people that I have been able to take this step.

I am now making this transition from WordPress to Blogger. I am  moving to post, primarily on Blogger, as my posting platform. Why, you ask? Well, I don’t have any specific reasons. But the basic and the most obvious difference is connection to Google. WordPress works independently from Google, but Blogger doesn’t. WordPress has some hassles with AdSense, but Blogger doesn’t, as far as I know.

While it is true that I had not started writing this blog with a specific purpose, I also realise that there could be something more in store. I need not have a specific topic or a specific theme to adhere to. In fact, randomness could be my theme, as a friend recently pointed out to me. It could be my constant learning platform for everything in the world. I did not start writing with a view to attract visitors or earn money or become famous, but now that I realise that I am at least decent at what I do, I am willing to take the chance of expanding my horizons.

So, all my dear friends and well-wishers, I hope to see you all on the Blogger page that I have created – Random Musings. This is where I will be active for most of my writing time. Please use the “Follow by Email” widget to be notified of any new posts. You could also bookmark the page and come back to it later. I think it will be easier for you to comment there using your Google ID and also keep a track of updates when you follow the blog.

I hope to see you all there and seek your continued support and encouragement, as I begin a new journey of writing on a new platform. I hope it leads me on a very fruitful and productive Odyssey of Camaraderie.

My answer to “Why do I write?”

I never knew writing was one of my skills till I started writing. Sure, my English essays in school were appreciated and acclaimed for my style and content, and I was always among the few to ace the Writing section of my English paper, if the reader, miraculously, managed to comprehend my handwriting that is. But I never knew that I could write in a way that people would like it. I had always dismissed it as something I could do, not something I wanted to do.

Writing

As I grew and matured, however, this began to change. As I soaked in more information from my life, I began to suffocate gradually, I began to feel trapped in the cocoon of my head, unable to come out of it due to my innate nature of introversion. My personality profiles, tests that tell me my traits and my personality type, reaffirmed my beliefs. I did not know whether it is a good or a bad thing to be in the 1 percent of people in the world with the “INTJ” personality type.

As time passed, I felt like I had to vent out my thoughts, opinions and beliefs somewhere. A diary is what came to mind but, as I already implied earlier, a pen and I don’t gel well. I did not want to maintain a diary that I myself would have trouble reading later. Then came the idea of a mental diary. I began to take mental notes of everything I wanted to say, but I am not Sherlock Holmes or Sheldon Cooper or, in the non-fictional world, Bobby Fischer to have eidetic memory to recount or reminisce later in my life. Moreover, I could not permanently trace my progress, albeit intangibly. There would be nothing I could look back to to see how far I had come.

Blogging

Thus emerged the idea of a blog, in the sort of a Eureka moment, which would be completely me. I started this about two years ago, on an experimental basis, just to see if I could really write enough to compose a post. Astonishingly, once I started typing, I did not realise when to stop !!! I went on and on about something I found fascinating and worth writing about till there was nothing else I wanted to say about it. When I looked back at how much I had written, I surprised myself several times.

But what I have learned from all this is that we never realise our potential to do something till we do something about that “something”. I never thought, even in my wildest dreams, that I would enjoy or, if I may say so, find solace in writing. I never thought that people would tell me, without me asking them, that I write well. I never thought I had it in me. But now, I realise that we all have some skills buried deep within ourselves that we need to unearth and unleash. We never know where it might take us. I don’t know where this might take me, but till then, I will keep writing to satiate myself and my brain from becoming the workshop of the devil.

The Rise of Internet of Things

Google’s latest acquisition, Nest, is just a peek into what the world will look like this year. The proliferation of devices in our daily lives has been remarkable and our dependence on these devices is unprecedented. This makes the data from these devices more important for organisations who survive on this data. Google is an example of such an organisation who knows a person better than even the closest family member.

Google + Nest

This rise of devices that capture data from users is a sign of what’s coming next – organisations that use the data to customise advertisements, to promote sales and to know the consumers inside out. Internet of things has been a buzzword for some time but now we are seeing larger players jump headlong into it. This is not a leap of faith, hoping for miracles to happen but a well-diagnosed and perfectly anticipated foresight to see the world as it takes shape gradually.

If Google’s acquisition of Boston Dynamics was startling, this should be even more astounding, considering the fact that this is Google’s second largest acquisition, after it paid $12billion for Motorola Mobility.

GoogleNestBuyout

While this may seem scary or even repelling, especially for privacy buffs, I don’t think there is much choice. One way or another, these organisations will infiltrate our lives, if they have not already. Eventually, our dependence on the machines that simplify (and yet complicate) our lives will drive us to depend on organisations like Google to make sense of the voluminous data around us. The concern, if at all anyone has one, should be this – what do these organisations do with this data? Do they use it to gain control and power over others, or do they use to to genuinely mean the statements they release through the press – of making human lives better? Will our lives become more convenient and pleasant or will every move be pried into with sneering eyes just so someone else can benefit from our actions?

For most people, including me, this acquisition is a preview of the world of technology as we would know and experience in the not-so-distant future. The internet has revolutionised the way we live, but we are just getting started…

What is gold really worth?

Our fascination with gold is endless. No matter how much we have, we crave for more. This direct association of gold with money always baffled me. As an Indian, I was always under the impression that gold signified wealth, status and prosperity. Though I was not proven wrong, I appreciated the difference of opinion from our Macroeconomics Professor who blatantly said gold is nothing but a rock. Some countries have ample gold and some have less but at the end of the day, it is just a rock we are all crazy for. Quite frankly, I was a bit taken aback by this statement till I realised what he meant.

Gold rock

He clarified that gold, like anything else in this world, gains its value because we assign it value. Gold, which was used as a medium of exchange in the earlier times, is just a store of value.

This BBC article also explains, using the periodic table, why gold gained its value. It explains why, among the so many other elements that exist, gold is the one we have always coveted and treasured. Though estimates of how much gold is there on this planet have been widely varying, gold has always been a rarity, enough to make one proud of owning it.

So, while one view is that gold is nothing but a rock that has been assigned value, the other counters and places importance on the chemical differentiation of gold to make it worth assigning value. This raises a question – how do we value gold as an investment? Sure, it is rare and chemically stable and what not, but is it worth investing in? Should we save up all our lives to invest on a rock? As my Professor put it, if investing in gold is such a nice thing, when do we bear the fruits of our investment?

Gold

Quite unlike financial instruments such as stocks, bonds and derivatives, gold is not traded by most Indian families on a daily basis. In fact, I would not be entirely wrong if I say that most Indian families just pile up gold without ever selling it. The ubiquitous demand for gold and its limited supply drive up the price of the precious metal further up. So, all we end up doing is buy rocks at a hyper-inflated price without realising any tangible value out of it. Till we do that, it is pretty much a rock safely locked away in secure places taken out on special occasions to adorn our bodies and indicate wealth and prosperity.

New Delhi most expensive Indian city for expats: Survey – The Economic Times

The following Economic Times article is interesting and a bit confusing for me.

New Delhi most expensive Indian city for expats: Survey – The Economic Times.

The research cited in the article states that the prices for items in ECA’s shopping basket have risen by over 60 percent on average in the last year. The other interesting thing is that the top few cities are all in developing nations which are, in fact, on the verge of seeing development.

Venezuela has been rife with tension before, during and after Hugo Chavez. The economy is, however, growing at a remarkable pace compared with the Western nations and GDP growths of near double digits are encouraging. Angola and South Sudan are no different. The underlying theme among these countries is that each has seen troubled times and is now beginning to emerge out of trouble.

With this backdrop, there is bound to be inflation in prices of goods as the economy stabilises, demand for goods grows, monetary supply increases because of governmental and central bank intervention and GDP growth rises. Thus, the basket of goods considered by ECA for their analysis favours only those goods that have been rising rapidly in price over the last year. It does not take into consideration all the goods that should be considered to account for Consumer Price Inflation  (CPI), which is a more holistic indicator of the increasing prices in the country. Though this talks about expats only and only those goods that are purchased by expats, there should be a wider implication of relocating to other countries that is not getting reflected here.

I believe cities such as Tokyo and Sydney are two of the most expensive places in the world to live in, despite the deflation in Tokyo and relatively low inflation in Sydney. This is because the cost of living in these cities takes into account the overall expenses required to live a moderate life, with high public utilities costs and high costs of basic goods.

What do you think?

Something to learn from Google

I read an old piece by Fortune Tech on Larry Page and the entire Google story. I also tweeted about it, but in case you missed it, here is the link

While the Google story is nothing new, there are several aspects of the entire story that always fascinate me.

One is how a company can be as unconventional as Google. It does not have a predecessor to learn from. No company in the history of business has been like Google in the way they do and view business. A company entirely driven by passion towards innovation, Google has carved out a class of its own in just over a decade-and-a-half years of existence. Not many companies can boast of such an accomplishment.

Google has tried to retain simplicity even in innovation. Radical innovations such as the self-driven car, wearable technology such as Google Glass, Project Loon and several other projects that have been incubated by Google also try to address a simple need using technology. The needs are simple and the solutions are simpler, though the technology that runs behind the scenes is not. The entire approach to doing business has been simple. They cut down on projects that did not work, closed down applications that were just haphazardly arranged and created an approach to integrate their entire ecosystem under a single umbrella. Simplicity is often the solution to a lot of the problems, most of which are created by the complexity that we delude ourselves in, and Google has done exactly that.

The most fascinating aspect that I find about Google is its willingness and ability to learn and adapt, something every single person can learn. History has shown us, on innumerable occasions, how an organisation, which is at the helm of doing exceedingly well, has collapsed and disappeared in no time. Kodak could be an epitome of such a large organisation that did not see the advent and widespread adoption of digital photography, something it invented in the first place. Google, however, has shown remarkable willingness to learn from others’ mistakes, its own mistakes and overall business trends to know exactly what the users want, how to avoid falling off the cliff and how to survive and do well.

This last part appeals to me a lot as it inculcates in me a spirit to learn and adapt as the external environment changes. “Moving with the times” was something that helped Generation X to adapt to the ever-changing Generation Y. But the only thing that can help Gen Y beat the crowd is “move before the times”.

Quite a lot to learn huh…

Placement Season at IITs

A recent article by the Economic Times on the placement season at the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology in India revealed that there is a changing trend among the graduating students there. Some students are beginning to reject crore-plus offers from large companies such as Oracle to settle for remuneration half of that just for a better profile that they are more interested in.

While this speaks volumes about the changing preferences of the customer, the rest of the article speaks about the number of offers and their corresponding remuneration that the IITs in general have received in their first couple of days of placement season.

IIT Madras received over 140 offers in 2 days, IIT Roorkee received over 80, IIT Guwahati over 70 and IIT Kharagpur, regarded as one of the best IITs within the already esteemed cohort, received over 170 offers in 2 days.

These numbers are simply mindblowing. I myself am a business graduate from a well-reputed business school abroad but I fail to see such large numbers of recruiters knocking on our doors. Even Harvard, Stanford, Wharton or London Business School do not have as many prospective and potential recruiters lined up to devour their graduates to run their large multinational corporations.

Most IIT graduates have been placed in a largely technical role. Google hired for the position of Software Engineer for their US, UK, India and Australia roles and paid around US $110,000. Most business schools, on the other hand, have most placements in the business side of the corporations.

Moreover, business schools do not have much of a placement season as far as I know. Some Indian business schools might have such a concept still going on, but most international business schools do not adhere to a specific time period for placements. The “rolling placements” concept, while widely accepted, takes its toll on students who do not have anything lined up in the near future while the rest of their cohort gets picked up en masse.

So I have three points to make here:
1. These numbers that the IITs have reported are absolutely mindblowing. They put up enormous expectations from the other IITs, who have to match up to the level of the leading IITs.
2. It also results in increased pressure on the IIT-aspirants, who now have to study harder to crack the IIT entrance exams to get into a life of comfort and luxury. Parents will also pressurise their wards to perform well to get into the IITs that offer such profile-suiting and well-paying roles.
3. While there could be no direct comparison between the functioning of the placement committees of the IITs and business schools around the world, there could be something that each could learn from the other. While the IITs believe in the placement season that swoops candidates into high-paying large corporations, business schools prefer to go slow and steady with their placements, looking for proper alignment of the candidate with the business. However, even the most prestigious business schools around the world cannot boast of such incredible feats within a couple of weeks of their placement season.

As a whole, I am extremely glad with the numbers posted by the IITs but I am also interested to see such a change being adopted by business schools. Somehow, this has to be incorporated into the “rolling placements” mode of operations. While I think about ways in which this can be done, your feedback/suggestions/comments are welcome. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Do drop me a line below. :)