That Fruit Company is on a roll

July 27, 2007

AAPL just announced a fantastic quarter. A quarter driven, not by the iphone, but by mac sales. that whole ‘Halo effect’ theory seems like it’s finally gaining traction.

The interesting bit of course, is a reported rise in profit margin. Yes, helped along mostly by lower component prices worldwide, but a wonderful piece of news for investors. Profit is up some 70+% and profit margin is up some 1.8 %. Apple is actually hitting margins close to the high 38’s, which is just fantastic. The astonishing part is that growth is being witnessed in the Computer division – a vertical in which ruthless competition has driven pricess to such low levels that even the biggies with all their synergies make only razor thin margins. Apple’s model and their differentiation through Hardware and Software is really allowing them to surge ahead.

The iphone accounts for almost none of these stellar numbers because firstly, the iphone came out way too late for it to make a meaningful impact and secondly,apple books iphone related revenue over 2 years – like service revenue. Useful, no doubt, to smoothen out the off-rough quarter.

This company is looking mighty strong. Some more rumors of much deeper relations between Google and Apple and we really have a story going – The device, the software, the channel, the service and the experience all rolled into one. And we haven’t even mentioned the web 2.0 business model yet.

Man, it really is getting hot. Microsoft, where are you?

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Maybe not so phony after all?

June 30, 2007

 For starters, I hate those motherhood type – general, unsubstantiated and so glorified beyond any semblance of reality that they actually appear funny – statements. So naturally, when the (i)god of motherhood, turtlenecks and faded denims proclaimed some months back that his company was redefining the phone, I ibalked. I mean seriously, I already have a phone that does whatever his magical creation purports to do. Yeah reinvent? – sure.

Then yesterday happened. iday, as some tech blogs proclaimed (Gee, don’t they think they are smart?). I managed to read a Scoble post once he bought the phone. Maybe its adrenaline and he won’t end up being so irosy about iphone after all, but the way he gushes about the phone points to a larger effect (yes, you guessed it – the ieffect).

You see, the iphone does not reinvent the phone. The iphone experience (iphone XP? 🙂 )reinvents the phone. Apple has this magical aura which just makes slightly superior products appear magical. iphone is one, OS X is the other and of course, so is the ipod.

The iphone is redefining the phone experience – in a phone lifecycle sort of way. And frankly I think that is just fantastic.

Maybe this is just a case of post purchase euphoria. You wouldn’t be normal if you acted nonchalantly about something you waited some 28 hours on a street side for. But hey, if it added to the experience, it can’t be so bad.

That man Steve Jobs is a Magician. Er, did I say I hated motherhood statements? ilied!

Magny Cours. Is a turn around now too little too late?

June 30, 2007

After suffering 3 crushing defeats at the hands of Mclaren, Ferrari finally look to have rediscovered their blistering season-opening form. Last week’s tests at Silverstone showed that they had made tremendous progress and that looks like something that has been carried through to practice at France.

Whatever the result, this looks like yet another mouthwatering prospect. That said, the pegging order this weekend at Mclaren seems decidedly in favour of the double world champ. And how he needs to prove superiority. Its incredible, but the way things have turned out, you’d think that Lewis was the World Champion while Alonso was a blubbering rookie. That kid’s really got some talent and yes, most of the worlds influential motoring journalists are British. Did you really think Alonso ever had a chance?

That little digression aside, this is the bigger question – Is a Ferrari revival now enough to see them come through as season Champions? This, after all, is a contest that favours consistency over top results (Ironically a relic of what one Messer Schumacher forced the sport into).

Mclaren, currently in – ahem – the drivers seat are some 35 points ahead of Ferrari. On one hand, a lead so small that two Ferrari 1-2’s and 2 double Mclaren DNF’s would completely obliterate it, but then again, pragmatism dictates that with some 10 races to go in the season Ferrari would need to be consistently, demonstrably superior. Ferrari do have the technical depth, but so do Mclaren.

I’d still tip Mclaren for the Championship. Ultimately, whatever the result, let’s hope this one is super close! 

Genius

June 24, 2007

I’ve been flipping through a James Gleick book I originally read during those heady Trichy-with-more-coconut-oil-in-the-hair-than-is-ideal engineering days.

It’s incredible, but just when I think I can’t be any more amazed by the brilliance – in every aspect conceivable – of one of the greatest scientists the world has ever seen, there suddenly comes this little nugget, that brilliant anecdote that raises the man to even greater heights. Apotheosis, if my rusty recollection of that blue-and-terrible-reprint Barrons book serve me right.

The latest cause of wonderment is the sheer respect a man like Oppenheimer had for what was, at that time (Los Alamos Bomb Labs), a 25 year old Feynman. Let’s leave the moral implications of what happened at Los Alamos during those frenetic years aside (will be saved for another day and another boring blog post), but the impact that – in Oppenheimer’s own words – ‘little Richard’ made on the best scientific minds of arguably any generation stands testament to the man’s remarkable, remarkable genius.

Oppenheimer, try as he did, was ultimately unsuccessful in taking Feynman with him to Berkeley (Feynman chose to go instead, with Hans Bethe to Cornell), but a trenchant letter to Raymond Birge (who was slow to make Feynman a Berkeley offer) evinces Oppenheimer’s respect for Feynman – “…Too much courage was not required in making a commitment to a young scientist… He is not only an extremely brilliant theorist, but a man of great robustness, responsibility and warmth, a brilliant and lucid teacher… we regard him as invaluable here; he has been given a responsibility and his work carries a weight far beyond his years…”

Both Bethe and Wigner were effusive in praise for the young genius – wih Bethe going so far as saying that he would rather lose any two scientists than lose Feynman, but perhaps the ultimate tribute came from Wigner at Princeton – “He is a second Dirac” Said Wigner, in direct reference to the Physics Demi god, “only this time Human”.

What a man. What a man.

Rockets up, Parachutes down

June 4, 2007

I just read an interesting article that describes the way Google works in their quest for the Holy Grail of Search – Giving you what you want regardless of where it is, how it is or what it is.

Apparently, Google uses some 200 signals to rank a mammoth index of over 8 Billion web pages against the innocuous group of words that make up your search query. Interesting stuff, truly so.

All that’s good, doubtless, but there are those  minor, fundamental irritations. One of Google’s wow features used to be the whole “Did you mean…” as one of the first links on the search result screen. A fantastic idea, since it’s so easy to inadvertently juxtapose keystrokes while doing that quick search. The whole concept of the “did you mean…” link was to help the user evaluate a potential better search query and execute it with a simple, lazy flick of the index finger. Freakin’ smart.

But even great innovations have those ragged edges. I was doing a search for an old Economist article I had read a while ago. The only thing I clearly remember from the article was a phrase that caught my attention “Rockets up, parachutes down” (an allusion to the way gas prices shoot up when OPEC does their nakra, but merely waft back down once the fuss is over)

So, in true Google “Power User” style, I typed my query in between two quote (“) keystrokes (for the just-about-leisurely-Google-user, a search query flanked by quotes will return pages which have that exact phrase). Google returned zero results (Shock!) but I was delighted when our cute little “Did you mean…” link came up very helpfully. “Did you mean Rockets up, parachuted down”? er, no not really wise guy, but let’s give it a shot anyway. So I click the link and get taken to a second page with – hold your breath – zero results! The darling of innovation, the predictive “Did you mean…” algorithm failed miserably.

So there you go. My story of irritations. Seriously, how difficult is it for Google to figure out that the “Did you mean…” link will not turn up results and therefore not display it in such cases? It should be a walk in the park for them. The devil, it is oft said, is in the Google 🙂 .

Any ways, another boring blog post. And I don’t even know a “self deprecating humor” way of ending it.

Ps: Aside, It will be interesting to see if this post comes up during a future query for the title phrase 

Randomly Insightful

March 29, 2007

This one just discovered. Go to wikipedia and hit Control + Shift + X. It’s very very neat.

Wiki basically takes you to a random article – A wonderful way to read up on new arbid stuff. Neat.

This, ofcourse, for the jobless at large who do not subscribe to Faraaz Damji’s Article of the day. Unless ofcourse you’re part of the proud majority who has time enough to read the daily article and have time left over to potter around Wikipedia aimlessly. Yes yes, my Engineering Brethren 🙂 sigh, How I miss those days!

Son of a Preacher Man

February 15, 2007

I was on the phone last night with the parents. You know, The usual meandering conversation which suddenly ended up, strangely enough, about how corporate meetings for meeting sake have now reached a stage where they are totally and completely unproductive (yes yes. we always have fun conversations).

My father, as if on cue and pedantic disclaimers aside, gave me 4 points of advice. Great advice that I thought was important to share. So here goes – my interpretation of what he said:

1) Prepare, prepare, prepare. This one is obvious, I know, but its shocking how often people get into meetings without preparing. And I don’t mean being armed with copious notes either. We’re talking a mental framework – points in the head that will help you vector any conversation the right way – an more importantly – will allow the conversation to result in the desired outcome.

2) Anticipate shortcomings and be prepared to field them. I guess it’s important to take a step back and evaluate things from another persons shoes. The key of course is this – If you anticipate, nothing is truly a surprise. And if nothing is a surprise, you can’t get flustered. It’s really that simple.

3) Be inclusive. When sharing a concern, inclusivity is an absolute must. Anything not inclusive is perceived as a complaint – which is, admittedly, not the best way to be perceived.

4) Irrefutable facts are, well, irrefutable! Allegations, suppositions, conjecture flying thick and fast? throw in an irrefutable fact and sit back.

So there you go. It’s incredible how a small, offhand comment can result in deep learning (and an incredibly boring blog post). But hey, It’s great advice. And great advice is worth 100  boring blog posts.

Work and then some

November 7, 2006

Have been busy as hell over the last few weeks. We’re getting really close to delivering a major milestone for one of our clients. It’s been such a gut wrenching whirlwind of highs and lows that I haven’t even realized how time has flown by.
S gently reminded me the other day that it had been over a month since I took a Sunday totally off. Yikes. I’m really turning into one of those workaholics.
Atleast the midweek beers at the blue joint opposite work happen once in a while. There’s only so far humans can go without a recharge.

Anyways, 3 more days and normalcy should settle in again. How long will the calm last? you’re guess is as good as mine.

Mind games. of blogging and self discipline.

November 5, 2006

Alright, I’m hoping this one will work. I’ve been thinking about this for a while now – Mental Discipline. Sounds profound, yes. But it’s me who is writing about it, so you know it can’t really be that profound. ah, one of life’s may little ironies.

So, here’s the conundrum. You know you could do with a little more mental discipline (heck, it’s sometimes like money). The thing is, how do you push the envelope? yes, there is the extreme method (“give up alcohol just to see if you can”, “become vegetarian” for precisely the same reason and ofcourse, the vintage “get up at 4:00 AM on Sunday mornings”). Yeah, the draconian route to better mental discipline. But you know, that’s not so elegant is it? how about something more agreeable. Like a 7 km run everymorning? sounds good, but its a bit strong for the average indolent twenty something. Ah, then there’s the killer. Blogging. Not just blogging, but regular blogging. Yes, regular coherent blogging (and I don’t mean those pseudo photo posts either). And that’s precisely what I’m going to begin to do. Everyday posts are probably a little bit difficult (you know, being the hardworking, efficiency obsessed, customer focused consultant) but that is certainly going to be the target.

Lets see how it goes.

Koach

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Introducing Windows Live Writer

August 17, 2006

 

This is a test post using Microsoft’s new Windows Live product – Writer. Although the concept of an offline wysiwyg style blog editor is not new, Live Writer is pretty good. I’m impressed.

Fit and finish is awesome and the product, well, just works. It has some neat web layout views and is generally good to use.

You should give it a try: http://windowslivewriter.spaces.live.com/