Ye Meri Life Hai - Chirag Mehta

Be Good & Do Good!

Month: February 2009 (page 2 of 2)

Lovely Charts: When Any Old Flowchart Simply Won’t Do


LovelyCharts.gif“I wish I could make this flowchart look better” is a common complaint that pops up around ReadWriteWeb – and throughout offices around the world. So whether it’s mind maps, wireframes, or flowcharts, we’re always drawn to test new diagramming tools – just to see if they can help us create more aesthetically pleasing depictions of the concepts we’re trying to diagram. So you can only imagine our willingness to try a Web-based application called Lovely Charts.

Lovely Charts is a new diagramming application that focuses on making your charts look better. In our opinion, there are two keys to doing that: first, provide visually appealing icons and second, provide ways of making sure those icons are in alignment.

Lovely Charts delivers on both fronts. It offers a series of icons beyond the traditional circles and boxes. What’s more, because it’s built with Flash, all of those elements are easy to resize and manipulate. Lovely Charts also provides the alignment tools we’ve come to expect from desktop diagramming applications, allowing users to select multiple items and force them into proper alignment.

LovelyChartsScreen.jpg

But that’s not all. Lovely Charts boasts a very intuitive composition mode, where users can easily clone items on the canvas by simply dragging and dropping them. The “Create & Connect” mode also provides a nice targeting feature that allows users to make sure the diagram lines are connecting the intended targets.

Lovely Charts was very easy to use. We were able to throw a diagram together – and a good looking diagram at that – in a matter of seconds. So easy, in fact, we were surprised that the demo lasted 15 minutes.

100Free.jpgWhile we were pleased with the functionality of Lovely Charts, there was one particular issue that sullied our view of the tool. While the service boasts being 100% free, it’s actually a limited version of the application that’s free – one chart with limited options. If you need more charts, want to save revision history, or share them with anyone, you’re going to have to pay. What does that subscription buy? Plenty. Unlimited diagrams, collaboration features, the ability to share diagrams, version history, commenting, and email alerts of changes.

To be clear, we have absolutely no qualms with application developers charging for their services. That’s completely reasonable. What isn’t reasonable is being told the application is 100% free and then being asked to pay €29 to use the full application. That’s a bit off-putting. Which is too bad. Because we really liked the application.

Would we pay €29 a year to use the application? We might. It makes diagramming easy and the extended features seem well worth the price. We liked the application – just not the marketing of it.

Long story short, Lovely Charts is a simple and intuitive tool. If you don’t have a charting tool, it’s well worth taking Lovely Charts for a spin.

Velan time

In spite of what you have been told by everyone, the truth is that Valentine’s Day originated hundreds of years ago, in India, and to top it all, in the state of Gujarat !!!

It is a well known fact that Gujarati men, specially the Patels, continually mistreat and disrespect their wives (Patelianis). One fine day, it happened to be the 14th day of February, one brave Patelani, having had enough “torture” by her husband, finally chose to rebel by beating him up with a Velan (rolling pin to make chapattis). Yes….the same Velan which she used daily, to make chapattis for him…. only this time, instead of the dough, it was the husband who was flattened.

This was a momentous occasion for all Gujarati women and a revolt soon spread, like wild fire, with thousands of housewives beating up their husbands with the Velan. There was an outburst of moaning “chapatti-ed” husbands all over Anand and Amdavad.

The Patel men-folk quickly learnt their lesson and started to behave more respectfully with their Patelanis.

Thereafter, on 14th February every year, the womenfolk of Gujarat would beat up their husbands, to commemorate that eventful day – the wives having the satisfaction of beating up their husbands with the Velan and the men having the supreme joy of submitting to the will of the women they loved.

Soon The Gujju men realised that in order to avoid this ordeal they need to present gifts to their wives….they brought flowers and sweets. This is how the tradition – Velan time – began.

As Gujarat fell under the influence of Western culture, the ritual soon spread to Britain and many other Western countries, specifically, the catch words ‘Velan time’ !!! In course of time, their foreign tongues, this got anglisized to ‘Velantime’ and then to ‘Valentine’.

And thereafter, 14th of February, came to be known as Valentine’s Day and now you know the true story of Valentine’s day.

Embedr: Embed Videos from Multiple Services in a Single Player

embedr.jpgWith online videos, you can never watch – or share – just one. But creating a playlist that allows you to share those videos – especially if they live on a number of different services – can be more difficult than it should be. Usually, you’re stuck with a series of links or a page full of embedded videos. Next time you have multiple videos to embed, try Embedr, a service that takes all of your video content and makes it accessible from a single embedded player.

Embedr is incredibly easy to use. Simply create a playlist and start adding the URLs of the videos you’d like to include. Don’t worry about the order. Once you’ve added all of the videos, you can reorganize them. During playback, videos automatically transition from one to the next. Or viewers can thumb through the screens below the main window to jump directly to the video of their choice.

Embedr is all about speed. To test the service, we created the following player in about 30 seconds – and we were able to do so without even registering.

Or maybe you’re more interested in a player that automatically updates with the latest content? Embedr will handle that too. The service features a “smart playlist” that will dynamically add new videos to your playlist based on keywords, categories, or YouTube user name.

Embedr currently supports Atom Films, Blip.TV, College Humor, Dailymotion, Metacafe, MySpace Video, Veoh, Vimeo, and of course YouTube. It will handle up to 100 manually added videos or 50 videos per smart playlist.

The Embedr service reminds us of a simplified version of SplashCast, a similar product we’ve reviewed in the past. SplashCast is still debating whether or not to continue the support of its user-generated content product. If they choose to discontinue their user-generated service, Embedr may be a viable option for those users.

To begin creating playlists and embedding them, visit Embedr.

How the economic crisis is affecting MBAs : Suhas Anand

Insanity is dead. Welcome to normalcy

Just about two months ago, an MBA from a top b-school held promise of gold class jobs on the Wall Street. All that became history when Lehman Brothers and Merill Lynch crashed. How are MBA alumni from three years ago dealing with it? What have they learned from it?

Suhas Anand, IIM Ahmedabad alumnus from the class of 2006 writes

I was at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad campus recently as part of my company’s summer recruitment process. It was a cool November evening at WIMWI. Things were also a little cold with the placement scenario, quipped an old time friend. News of top 20 MBA campuses in India not being able to place all its students for summer internship was also doing the rounds. All this was unthinkable just about a month back.

We then got into a debate about what could have fundamentally altered everything in 30 days, making the world go into a spin. The stock market of course, was one reason. The plunging valuations have put a brake on the grand growth plans of top companies. Their ability to raise fresh debt as well as the ability of financial institutions to give new loans has taken a beating, resulting in fewer avenues for fresh MBAs interested in the finance sector to work on.

The second and a more pronounced aspect in my opinion is also fear of the unknown, that of the very primitive kind. These days, across industry, nobody knows what tomorrow might look like. This uncertainty is a bigger reason stopping companies from absorbing smart MBAs than any so-called impediment in the India growth story.

A sense of fear lurks in the hallways of many top b-schools too. I tried to sweet talk a few students during my Ahmedabad visit into looking at the broader picture. I tried to prod them into thinking about a long term career spanning, say, 40 years where they were bound to see many more such major ups and downs. By the time these students graduate next year, the uncertainty would probably be history. However, things could also be as bad as they are now. But if things are as bad a year down the line, we would know for sure they are going to be that way for at least a couple of years, thus putting away the uncertainty and fear. Companies will then go back to the drawing board, rework their strategies and recruitment priorities.

Internationally too the situation is not very rosy. Quite a few of my batchmates have been directly hit. Even our wildest nightmares could not have prepared us for the shocking fact that Lehman Brothers or Merrill Lynch are no longer around. They were clearly among the most coveted jobs on campus at IIM Ahmedabad. Make no mistake about it – they attracted the absolute cream of talent from across campuses, second only to McKinsey and Goldman Sachs. Back then, I would have any day accepted a job offer from either of these pre-eminent former investment banks. That is when the realization hit me. I could very easily have been ‘Joe the Banker who lost his Wall Street job in which he used to sell unknown derivatives‘, had I been working in those banks.

Some of these batchmates have found new jobs and their life is back to normalcy. The events have affected them in a big way, but it has also given some the opportunity to sit back and think deeply about what is really meaningful for them, personally and professionally. A friend of mine left Wall Street for good to join MTV. Another person is taking six months off to travel around, doing photography and working on wildlife conservation. Some have come back to India and taken less stressful jobs in cities where their parents stay.

Barring the fact that I’ve lost quite a bit of moolah in the markets, this downturn hasn’t materially affected me much. However, it has made me humbler. It has made me more aware of good old thriftiness and the importance of diversification of assets. I have stopped making fun of my mother who invests in post office schemes and PPFs!

Current MBA students should realign their expectations from their career in light of recent developments. Insanity is dead. Welcome to normalcy.

Overall, I can sense a clear change in attitudes amongst my peer group and juniors (hopefully for better). People are now willing to work in India, in firms like Tata Administrative Services and Hindustal Unilever, Reliance and others. Investment banks will still be there this season, at least in the top three IIMs. But they will not recruit as much as they did in previous years. But there is no dearth of options in a large growing economy like ours.

What else would change? Corporates would no longer have time for people who bargain for sky high salaries with three other offer letters in hand, or people who shift jobs every six months for a 20 pc jump. Now is indeed the time to step back and think about the initial years of the career as an investment one is making in oneself. One should not sell out too early. Invest, learn, build relations and ensure that you are well equipped by the time the recession is over, hopefully in the next couple of years.

I personally think that in the aftermath of all this, the world will become a much wiser and saner place. Folks will tighten belts. The sheer insanity that drives million dollar bonuses for the middle management and 1,500-dollar-per-head dinners will be a thing of past. The prudent cost-management measures of old times will be back.

As for MBA aspirants, they should not be worried much. Two years is a long time frame. They would be better off putting all they can to get into the best business schools. That is the best bet against a downturn.

A lot of writers will of course laugh their way to the banks (whichever remain at the end of the carnage) by writing books analyzing what went wrong and the lessons we can learn from this crisis. It would be presumptuous and downright wrong to claim to know what exactly went wrong and how it is going to play out. All we can do is hope for the best and assume that knowledgeable people across central banks and governments are indeed pulling resources together to ensure minimal damage to real economy. As they say, when you come to see that you are not as wise today as you thought you were yesterday, you are wiser today.

Suhas Anand is an IIM Ahmedabad alumnus from the batch of 2006 and working with an internationally-renowned consultancy firm.

Google Latitude: Ready to Tell Your Friends Where You Are?

GoogleLatitude.jpgWhere you are is as important as what you’re looking for. That’s why more and more services are looking to location as a filter for providing relevant information when and where we need it. So it only makes sense that Google – a company known for its ability to deliver relevant information – get into the location-aware app game. Today, they jumped in with both feet by releasing Google Latitude, a way to keep track of your friends’ current whereabouts – and let Google have a view into your nomadic or sedentary habits.

Google Latitude allows you to share location-based information with friends. And it’s incredibly easy to get started. Simply install the app on your smartphone (no iPhone yet) or iGoogle. You have the option of sharing your location by dynamically updating the service using your phone or by manually updating your location on the Web.

view Complete Story @ ReadWriteWeb

Watch Trivia

1. Who made the first watch for men?
2. How many parts are there in a simple mechanical watch?
3. Which was the most expensive watch ever sold?
4. What does the term ‘jewels’ mean when referring to watches?
5. What is Tantalum?
6. Who was the first Swiss watchmaker in space?

Answers
1. The 19th century saw its first men’s wristwatch by Patek Philippe. The wristwatch was considered to be something that only women wore till of course the convenience became evident to most.
2. There are an average of 150 parts in a simple mechanical watch
3. The most expensive watch ever sold , auctioned by Sotheby’s, New York in 1999, was a 1933 Gold Patek Phillippe which sold for $ 11 Million
4. The bearing, endstone or pallet used for reducing friction within the movement of a watch are made of synthetic material of precious or semi-precious stones. Usually a very inexpensive form of synthetic ruby, these are used for virtually frictionless pivots or hubs at certain critical places in the watch mechanism. These jewels do not add any monetary value to a watch. It is also important to understand that more jewels do not necessarily make a better watch.
5. A metal with a texture similar to titanium, but a color similar to gold. Used by Omega for the gold-like trim on certain titanium watches.
6. TAG Heuer became the first Swiss Watchmaker in Space thanks to a TAG Heuer Stopwatch, worn by John Glenn in 1962 when he piloted the Friendship 7 on the first manned US orbital mission.

Always judge yourself before judging others

A stranger was seated next to a little black girl on the airplane when the stranger turned to her and said, “Let’s talk. I’ve heard that flights go quicker if you strike up a conversation with your fellow passenger.”

The little girl, who had just opened her coloring book, closed it slowly and said to the stranger, “What would you like to talk about?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” said the stranger. “Since you are a Negro, do you think that so-called President Elect Barack Obama is qualified for the job?” and he smiles.

“OK”, she said. ‘That could be an interesting topic. But let me ask you a question first.
A horse, a cow, and a deer all eat the same stuff “grass. Yet a deer excretes little pellets, while a cow turns out a flat patty, and a horse produces clumps of dried grass.
Why do you suppose that is?'”

The stranger, visibly surprised by the little girl’s intelligence, thinks about it and says, “Hmmm, I have no idea.”

To which the little girl replies, “Do you really feel qualified to discuss President Barack Obama…. when you don’t know shit?

The Success Of a Blissful Marriage

Once upon a time a married couple celebrated their 25th marriage anniversary. They had become famous in the city for not having a single conflict in their 25 years of marriage. Local newspaper editors had gathered at the occasion to find out the secret of their well known “blissful marriage”.

Editor: “Sir. It’s amazingly unbelievable. How did you make this possible?”

Husband recalling his old honeymoon days said: “We had been to Shimla for our honeymoon. Having decided to go horse riding , we both started the ride on different horses. My horse was pretty okay but the horse on which my wife was riding seemed to be a little wild.
On the way ahead, that horse jumped suddenly, making my wife topple over. Recovering her position from the ground, she patted the horse’s back and said “This is your first time”. Again she climbed on the horse and continued with the ride. After a while, it happened again. This time again she calmly said, “This is your second time” and continued. When the horse dropped her the third time, she silently took out the revolver from the purse and shot the horse dead !!
I shouted at my wife: “What did you do you psycho. You killed the poor animal. Are you crazy?” .
She gave a silent look and said: “This is your first time!!!”.”

Husband: “That’s it. We have lived happily together since then. ”

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