Friday, January 19, 2007


I love the MTR Chutney Powder and like their slick packaging (compared to Knorr, for example) on the store shelves. So I got suckered into bringing the Hot and Sour Clear soup pack and man it's horrible! Really really bad! Avoid it.

Office 2008

In 2007, people are not looking for a better way to type and print a document, make a spreadsheet or run Powerpoint inside the browser. They can do it on their desktop/laptop efficiently and it works damn well. And it's gotten even better with the improved Office 2007.

The office environment of 2008 would involve lots of working from home, working with far-flung colleagues and (at least for me) customers in all corners of the world (Israel, Germany, US and - hopefully soon - India and S. Africa too). My version of the web office suite for 2008 would let you:
  1. Blog: A better, faster, easier way to blog. Lots of tools available. My personal favorite in this category is WordPress or Lyceum.
  2. Show and edit webpages: An easier way to show and edit documents inside and outside companies. Show as in show on a webpage. Drupal is an excellent Content Management System, but MediaWiki is just wonderful when it comes to layout of pages on the web.
  3. Show and edit graphs: An easier way to put graphs full of information on a web page - a mix of numbers, text and pictures. No real good solution yet but you can build one using Crystal xCelsius or Adobe Flex.
  4. Share desktop easily: GoToMeeting, WebEx etc. are decent but they are made for one-to-many settings. Groove had some great functionality for this type of stuff, but it was before its time.
  5. Interactive presentation: Showing slides via WebEx is boring if it works and mighty annoying when it doesn't. It would be much, much, much easier if we could generate Flash-based interactive presentations easily. There isn't much that lets you do that as yet.
So who has the best suite with the above functionality? No one, as far as I can tell. Does anyone have plans? Not really. God knows what Microsoft is doing with Live. Google Spreadsheets and JotSpot etc. are quite useless. You can use Flex and xCelsius for (3) and (5) above, but both are pricey and unfriendly for non-programmers.

Open source stands a chance to win this battle, especially with their stranglehold on (1) and (2). But there isn't anything in the open source world for (3), (4) or (5).

Update: I really like this WebEx plugin for Yahoo Messenger. I'm sure SameTime will have something like this soon.

Update: Since the release of QEDWiki from IBM, it seems like IBM is pulling it all together. It looks boring and not half as cool as the more mature open-source offerings, but it's a damn good start.

Working with jerks

(Via Manali) Office jerks are distributed evenly. I never complain about office jerks, since I know I'm the worst of 'em all!


Thursday, January 18, 2007

MIT OpenCourseWare not entirely useless after all

In the past, I've tried to look up courses that might be useful and follow them via the MIT OpenCourseWare website. Most of the courses have missing class lectures, case studies. The textbooks are obviously not accessible. The slides are skimpy and usually don't give the whole story. So I found them unnecessarily hyped and mostly useless.

I looked up an accounting course today though (Finance Theory II) and it's not so bad. I learned, for example, that it doesn't really matter if the business is financed thru debt or equity as such. BUT, from a tax point of view, debt totally rocks. News to me. True to form, Finance Theory I is not available on OpenCourseWare though.

Update: An interesting line: "Finance is too important to leave to the finance people..." Or so say the finance people.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Bullshit petitions

I don't like web petitions too much. They seem to be the Web 2.0 equivalent of chain-mail and I'm not sure if they are at all effective. But mostly I don't like them because people usually sign them without verifying anything - makes it all too easy.

This petition popped into my mailbox yesterday. 10,000+ people are complaining to that they unfairly put a review which criticized Jimmy Carter's book Peace, not Apartheid on the book's page.

It didn't quite smell right to me. I did a quick search on's website (via Google) and I found that:
1. has recently started putting book reviews for many other books
2. Those reviews are more opinionated than Publisher's Weekly's or Kirkus's
3. They are longer than the others usually

There didn't seem to be any malicious intent on's part (the review has since been swapped out from the book's page) and it seemed like the whole petition was bogus. I emailed the guy who'd forwarded the petition to me and gave him the evidence. He agreed too.

Moral of the story: Careful with them petitions.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Faxing and factoring

I bought a Canon MF3240 laser 4-in-1 (fax, scan, copy, print) for $200. I tested scan, copy and print functionality hoping never to have to use the fax. Yeah right. I didn't have to use the fax over the holiday season. But now the bank wants me to use it. Can you not scan the form and send it? Don't you have it on the Internet? No and nope. So I've had to connect the fax machine to the phone line and make it work. Haven't quite figured out how to get the fax machine to detect whether it's a voice call or another fax machine trying to call it (and yes, I *have* RTFM), but all in good time.

We send out invoices but people take their own sweet time to pay up. This one client has a 5 month payment policy, I kid you not! So Lakshmikant came up with this idea of using factoring. Those guys charge 1% for every 10 days!!! They email you the forms and are very quick though. :)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Beauty who bewitched Gandhi: Saraladevi Chaudhri

Seems like Gandhiji was infatuated with Saraladevi Chaudhuri and had even proposed a 'spiritual marriage' to her. Another bit of trivia in the article - Kasturba's maiden name was Kapadia. Wikipedia says her maiden name was Makharji.


Kite-flying on Saturday

We had our annual Uttarayan kite-flying 'do yesterday. Check out Gaurav and Stuthi's photos from the event.

It turned out to be a perfect, gorgeous day... at least as long as the sun was up. A busy afternoon of kite-flying and kite-fighting. Lots of finger-cuts, a few bruised egos, a few dozen torn kites.


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