Fear and Success

I love the holidays because it allows me to recalibrate and prioritize what’s important in life. The last couple of years I’ve re-read Steve Job’s commencement speech for inspiration. This year I was forwarded a link to Mark Cuban’s latest blog post at blogmaverick.com titled “Success and Motivation.” Mark Cuban is a fellow Hoosier and a die hard basketball fan. So much so, that he started Broadcast.com to enable him to listen to Bobby Knight and team play basketball over the internet.

His post is inspirational because he talks about all the stuff he’s been through and his willingness to talk about it. His post it quite long, but well worth it. Here are some gems:

“…was so impressed by this young kid (I was a wise old 25 at the time), that I actually wrote a letter thanking him for the great job he was doing, and…I’m embarassed to say now, I told him that if he kept up what he was doing he was destined for far bigger and better things.” – He was talking about Michael Dell

“Most people won’t put in the time to get a knowledge advantage.”

“All that matters in business is that you get it right once.”

Between Jobs and Cuban, you realize all those self-help books about success are just a waste of printed paper. It comes down to this:

– Believing in yourself (conquer your fears)
– Having balls (own the room)

Great Mac App

Firewalls are great for blocking incoming traffic to protect your computer. However, I’ve always wanted to know in real-time whenever a program on my Mac attempted to establish an outgoing connection to the internet. Enter Little Snitch, the program does just that, it tracks the outgoing traffic. Some programs “phone home” to establish a presence such as chat clients while others do it to verify registration information. The program doesn’t get down to the TCP/UDP level but instead a high-level overview of where your programs are connecting to. After running the program for a couple days, I realized that Skype is one chatty program, I noticed it connecting to other Skype Supernodes every couple seconds.  I also noticed that the Apple ntpd (network time protocol daemon) would access the internet every 4-5 minutes, presumably to update the internal clock. All other outgoing traffic was expected.

If you like to know what your programs are doing when connecting to the internet or like to watch your bandwidth then Little Snitch is great.

Big Letdown

When I moved to India around 2 1/2 years ago, I was a big believer in Big Bazaar and its ability to build a “big box” retail environment, a first for India. However, my views has changed over time and a recent visit to Big Bazaar put the final nail in the coffin.

Kishore Biyani and Company seem to have strayed from the path by getting into anything and everything. Their newly named entity – The Future Group – houses everything from retail, to real estate to financial products. I have no fault with them wanting to be everything, but they seem to be a jack of all trades and master of none.

Biz Bazaar has gotten pathetic. I went there to shop for a host of common items and about 25% of the items on my list were not available. I was not looking for items such as “world peace” or “green ketchup”, but instead shampoo and deodorant. What really got me was the lack of customer service, 6 people were standing in the shampoo aisle and NOT one of them asked if i needed help. Instead they were chatting about some new company policy.

I finally approached them and asked about the shampoo, the lady looked at the empty shelf and said “sorry not available”. REALLY, no shit lady. I asked if she could check in back or when it might be available, the answers to both questions were “don’t know.”

Truth is, I can’t blame the lady instead it’s really Kishore Biyani’s fault. He seems more concerned about trying to get money in the equity markets then focusing on his customers. All I hear him talk about is “unlocking value” from his companies, I haven’t heard him once talk about his customer base in the past 12 months. The math works in his favor, goto the public markets and score Rs 500-1000 CR (which is USD 125-250 million) in funding or focus on the customer and worry about margins at the store. In the meantime stores like Hypercity are focusing on their customers and unlocking value via the “shopping experience.”

Happy Holidays

Greetings from Bombay, where it’s sunny and 90 degrees and does NOT feel like Christmas. But the holiday spirit is definitely everywhere you go. Anyways, if you click on the image to the left you’ll see one of the funniest Dear Santa letters ever. Even after reading it 50 times, it makes me laugh till the point of crying. Man I love Little Johnny.

Once again Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and have a great 2008.

Leopard Rocks

It’s been 2 months since Apple came out with the latest version of it’s operating system 10.5 (aka Leopard). I finally installed it last week and can say it was worth it. I initially was going to upgrade my system by having Leopard install over my existing OS, but at the last minute decided to do a fresh install which formats the hard drive and starts from scratch. Although I religiously back up my data, I wasn’t sure how everything would transfer over under Leopard. All my iTunes playlists were intacts, as were my pictures in iPhoto. By installing Leopard from scratch it allowed me to re-evalute what programs to install. I got rid of Adium, as I now use iChat 4.0. For FTP I ditched Fetch for Cyberduck. I use Time Machine over ChronoSync for backups.

The biggest feature that I love the most is “Stacks” which give you quick access to folders from the Dock. I tried using Spaces but realize i don’t need virtual desktops. Time Machine is a god send for backing up data, there aren’t too many options to the program and that is what makes it great. iChat now can connect the Gmail users. QuickLook allows you to view documents (such as Word, Excel, PDF’s, etc…) like you do in iTunes Coverflow.

Overall the initial hassle of setting up and tweaking every program was well worth it. Can’t wait for 10.6.