Friday Flashback: 2000 DNC

Although the 2008 Democratic National Convention (DNC) is about 18 months away. I thought I would dig into the archives and show a clip from the 2000 DNC that took place in Los Angeles. I was part of a promotional video highlighting the work Cisco Systems was doing through its Cisco Network Academy to help people learn a new skill set and get better jobs.

Cisco was brought in to design the technology infrastructure for the DNC. I was in charge of the team that was designing, building and deploying the network.

Yours truly, makes an appearance about 4:30 minutes into the clip (1:50 left in the clip).

iPod Shuffle Review

ipod_shuffle.jpgI’ve been using the newest iPod from Apple – the second generation Shuffle for the past 2 months and figured it was time for a review. This is not my first iPod nor my last, I’ve been using iPods since January 2003, when I bought my first, a 10GB second generation iPod, since then I’ve also owned a 20GB fourth generation iPod, 4GB Nano and the 512MB first generation Shuffle.When you get the Shuffle the first thing you notice is the packaging it comes in. They used to sell the Shuffle previously in a small card board box now it’s in the same plastic case that the Nano’s comes in. The plastic case not only looks great, but also can be used for storage when not using the Shuffle.

Next you’ll end up manhandleing the Shuffle for a good 15 minutes while you marvel at the design and the fit and finish. That’s the moment you realize why other MP3 makers are all crying about marketshare and fail against the iPod, the other guys just don’t have the design and simplicity that the folks at 1 Infinite Loop have brought to the table.

The Shuffle also comes with the newest headphones that have a rubberized ring around the edge of the earpiece as opposed to those ugly black earpiece covers. I hated those earpiece covers because mine would always come off and it was a pain to put them back on.

The only downside is that the Shuffle no longer has a USB connector, so you have to use a dock that comes with it. The dock looks ugly and has to be carried around if you want to interface your computer. There are some companies selling alternatives, let’s just hope Apple uses one of them for the next revision.

In summary, the Shuffle is great and cheap. I got mine in Austrailia for around USD 89, whereas in the States it goes for USD 79. In India, you can expect to pay around USD 133 for it. The Shuffle is perfect for people working out or just want a no-nonsense music player.

Old Lane, New Digs

oldlane.gif Vikram Pandit, who started Old Lane is moving over to Citigroup, which just announced job cuts of 17,000 people this week. So how much was the pay off for Vikram and Old Lane? A cool USD 800 million.

Old Lane which manages USD 4.5 billion was started 13 months back and employs some 125 traders, bankers and strategists. In the 12 months through February, Old Lane’s investments have returned 6.9%. Apparently, it’s focused on Indian opportunities. Right now anything Indian sells, but I’m guessing it’s not an Indian focused fund based on it’s performance numbers. Because, you can walk into any bank in India and get 10% for just showing up.

Bottom line, Citigroup didn’t buy the fund for it’s performance or regional focus it was for one reason only – Vikram Pandit.

On a side note the NY Times just published a piece about Big banks coming to India.

2007 the year of broadband?

logo_mtnl.jpg The Indian Union Minister for Communications and IT, Dayanidhi Maran has promised that 2007 will be the year of broadband.

“The year-2007 will see broadband in India further affordable and promised that people have to forget the 256 Kbps and enter the Information Superhighway. Already BSNL and MTNL are working on this. The new year will also see the broadband policy to be rewritten,” he said.

Wake up man, just to compare some broadband plans from the US vs India. The US plans are all UNLIMITED, which is something the Indian ISP’s don’t even offer.

Comcast has an 8mbps/768kps plan for USD 53. Verizon has a 15mbps/2mbps plan for USD 50 or the killer 30mpbs/5mbps for USD 180. Compare that to MTNL’s pathetic 256kbps/256kps plan for around USD 14. Ugh, makes me want to stick needles in my eye every time I fire up my browser on MTNL.

Oh, and if you are wondering about WiFi access in India, it’s virtually non-existent and should be re-labeled WTF in India.

Mittal & Son

mittal_bw_cover.png Yeah, another cover story from BusinessWeek. The last few months BusinessWeek has had some very interesting topics. Although the Mittal’s are from India, it’s one area where Arcelor Mittal doesn’t have much of a presence. That could be attributed to the fact that his brothers (Pramod and Vinod) are based in India and might have a brotherly pact in place. The article focuses on Aditya’s rise to the 2nd in power at Arcelor Mittal and how he proved his skills versus just being given the title because his dad runs the company.

I actually ran into Aditya at a wedding back in the summer of 2002 and I was shocked at how unassuming and down to earth the guy was. He didn’t come out and say, “Yeah, I’m a Mittal”, we had a 10 minute conversation at the bar and he really made me put the pieces together and then I finally asked “is your last name Mittal”, that’s when i realized who he was. And to further solidify it, when he went to pay for drinks, he slapped down his credit card – an Amex Centurion Card aka “black amex.”

Calling between the US and India?

logo_airtel.jpgThe rates for calling between these two countries is so low, that in most instances it’s cheaper to call India from the US then to another state. The rates dropped again as of April 1, however only the wireless carriers have updated their rates.

When calling from the US to India you have several options:
Reliance India Call at 7.9 cents/minute (old rate)
Airtel CallHome at 7.9 cents/minute (old rate)
Skype around 13-15 cents/minute
Wireless carriers – forget it their pricing model are from the 80’s

The real fun is when calling from India to the US:
Skype at 2.1 cents/minute
Land line at Rs 7.20/minute (old rate)
Hutch calling cards at Rs. 4.50/minute (old rate)
Wireless carriers (such as Airtel) at Rs. 6.40/minute (new rate)