Saturday, February 28, 2009

Now Tweeting - I Have Just Joined Twitter :)

I had been reading about the sweetly named Twitter for many weeks now. But yesterday when I read that Google has joined Twitter, that really caught my attention. I noticed that even Yahoo and Live Search had joined recently, and they had welcomed Google to the party. Curious enough, I signed up (the sign-up is delightful... it can be finished in under 45 seconds), optimized my settings, chose my avatar, customized my theme a little, and was off to start tweeting...

My first four tweets... I've starred all of them... LOL

My first impressions?
  1. I'm liking it so far
  2. I've used it as a scratchpad so far... to scribble down random thoughts coming to my mind
  3. The feature I like the most is Favorites. I can star any tweet that I want to re-read (perhaps because it has an idea, or there's a pending task related to it, etc.)
  4. I'm unsure as to whether I'll be using Twitter as a blog or as a scratchpad (or a to-do list)... or maybe a mix of all three
  5. I'm curious as to why the limit on the number of characters in a tweet is 140... my initial thought is that perhaps Twitter intends to integrate tweeting with the insanely popular SMS service on cell phones, which, on some devices has a limit of 140 characters per message. To be compatible with every cell phone on the planet, Twitter has used a lowest common denominator approach. Just a thought, but Twitter could be looking at itself as the SMS provider for the Internet
  6. I'm happy that Twitter is not blocked at my company... at least not yet
Rishabh Singla's Tweets On Twitter

Thursday, February 26, 2009

An Edgy Idea For Advertising Campaign For A Car

Sometimes I like to create new ideas for advertising campaigns of products (electronic gadgets, automobiles, computer software, etc.), apart from doing other things. And some weeks back, while I was reading about the Audi R8, an idea for advertising campaign for a supercar came to my mind.

A rough summary of the idea: There is a huge sign / text all over the R8. You can't see it, nor can any other human. However, every other non-R8 automobile on the planet sure will. It reads "SHUT UP".

I think it's a nice concept for advertising a supercar. It intends to capture the vast superiority the R8 has over every other car on the planet. And with just 2 words, it humbles all of them. If this concept gets someone who can create elegant print and video ads, I think it should be a success.

The Audi Q7. A real manly beast for real men

I first wrote this idea some weeks back here (as a caption below a photo on my wishlist album).

About Me - My Detailed Google Profile

Monday, February 23, 2009

Finding the right price point to maximize profits

For many months now - perhaps over 2 years - I've been telling some of my friends a simple formula (over lunch table, or during other casual discussions) that companies perhaps-already-use / should-use to correctly price their products / services in the market.

"Correctly" refers to that optimal price point which maximizes the total profit.

The simple formula states that if
  • X is the cost price per unit,
  • Y is the selling price per unit,
  • Z is the number of units that sell at Y price point, and
  • P is the profit per unit (i.e., Y minus X)
Then a company should strive to find that value of Y, where the product PZ is maximum.

It is no rocket science that P and Z are generally inversely related to each other - as P increases, Z goes down, and vice versa. It is also trivial to understand that the relation between P and Z is not of the nature "PZ = constant" (that is, a particular increment in P will generally not cause so much decrement in Z so as to keep the product PZ unchanged). And finding the correct value of Y - and hence P - is not an easy task. It is a task that not only requires sound market research, it also requires sound knowledge of the consumers and the market, as well as sound judgment.

And here's a recent news story that has some interesting figures which demonstrate exactly this - the importance of the product PZ, and the effect of varying Y on PZ. An excerpt from the news story is:

...Valve's Gabe Newell revealed that a recent sale on the Steam version of Left 4 Dead led to an astounding sales increase of 3000 percent...

Update (14-Feb-10): It appears that the premise behind Laffer curve is analogous, in a way, to the thought I've outlined in this post

An Idea For Variable Power Car Engine

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Google Has NOT Banned The Term 'Netbook' From Its Ad-Network

Despite a flurry of recent reports (here, here and here) suggesting that Google has banned the term netbook from its ad-network, I could still spot at least one ad featuring the word netbook on Google's ad-network, as of today

Click on the image to view it in its original size

Saturday, February 21, 2009

An Obsession For Perfection - A Common Mistake In Corporate Email Disclaimers

I believe that I'm obsessed with perfection. I like finding imperfections and shortcomings, and I feel good when these flaws and shortcomings are put to rest. I have a strong belief that if processes are in place to discover and correct flaws - small or big - then processes and systems will improve quickly. Analogies can be drawn between finding and correcting flaws, and debugging and testing.

Yesterday, when I read the following email disclaimer of a leading consulting company, I felt uncomfortable on finding a flaw.

This message may contain confidential and/or privileged information. If you are not the addressee or authorized to receive this for the addressee, you must not use, copy, disclose or take any action based on this message or any information herein. If you have received this message in error, please advise the sender immediately by reply e-mail and delete this message. Thank you for your cooperation.

The disclaimer requests the unintended recipient to advise the sender by reply email, and requests deletion of only the original message. It should also have been requested to delete the reply email, since almost all reply emails include a copy of the original email (without attachments).

Unadulterated nitpicking for sure. But that's what obsession is about.

An Idea For Truly Portable Applications

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Portable apps that are portable across operating systems (Linux, Mac, Solaris, Windows)

An excerpt from a Wikipedia article on portable applications:

"There is a very restricted category of software that can support a sort of double portability, being both stand alone and cross-platform compatible, able to run on different hardware with little or no modifications, perhaps with minor restrictions. One such software is SymbOS, whose main modules can in their present form be executed on both Amstrad CPC and MSX machines without modification. Only some of its bundled applications are hardware-dependent. To a much lesser extent, Macintosh fat binary applications could be considered as cross-platform, but not always truly portable."

While reading this paragraph, it occurred to me that it is easily possible to create a portable version of Mozilla Firefox which is portable across popular operating systems (Linux, Mac, Solaris, Windows).

A typical install of Firefox consists of two parts. On Windows XP, these are:
  1. Core program (platform dependent): Typically, it's inside C:/Program Files/Mozilla Firefox
  2. User data (platform independent): Typically, it's inside C:/Documents and Settings/Username/Application Data/Mozilla/Firefox
I believe, it is possible (and relatively simple) to mix 4 builds of the core program (Linux, Mac, Solaris, Windows) in a single folder, so that executables and other program files for each operating system are kept in separate sub-folders, while the user data is common. Separate launchers will be required for each OS. This arrangement shall make bookmarks, cache, history, passwords, etc., available in all of the 4 builds. Such a release of Firefox will be quite useful to many users, as it will allow a person to carry a truly portable application, one that gives the ability to seamlessly hop from Ubuntu to Leopard to Solaris to Windows XP.

Potential benefits of such a release:
  1. No need to use Foxmarks, at least for some users. Hop across OSes without having to sync anything.
  2. Carry the application platform as well as applications, across operating systems. To me, this one benefit has disruptive potential. Imagine that a user has a HyperPortable version of Firefox (the one envisioned in this post), and the user installs some extensions on it (a calculator, some basic games, a basic word processor, etc.). The HyperPortable version of Firefox allows the user to carry not only Firefox (and user data) across OSes, it also allows carrying these applications that run on top of Firefox. As Web browsers start being used more and more as application platforms, the importance as well as usefulness of this portability will only increase.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Goodbye To AltaVista Audio Search

First I have to admit something - I have, in the past, downloaded a few songs (illegally), using AltaVista Audio Search. And for the same reason, I went to AltaVista Audio Search page once again a few days back, only to find that it doesn't exist anymore. It was not only surprising, it was disappointing as well.

I have always liked AltaVista. I've resorted to it many times, to gain access to the very-relevant yet somewhat-different-from-Google results of Yahoo Search, via a lean, clean and fast user interface (cleaner and lighter than Yahoo Search). And I fell in love with AltaVista ever since I started reading The Search (where delicious accounts of the birth of AltaVista, and its pioneering achievements in the initial days of the Internet can be read). Watching Yahoo gradually cripple the legendary search giant makes me a little sad.

Here's a screenshot from the cache of Live Search, where AltaVista Audio Search is still alive

About Me - My Photo Albums On Picasa