Monday, June 18, 2018

Rocket Singh Salesman of the year movie - bad bad bad

Yesterday happened to see Rocket Singh Salesman of the year movie.

Let me get the good out of the way.

There is corruption everywhere. Wrong decisions, inflated bills are accepted with a bribe to get the sale. Bad for the company, bad for the industry, bad for the end consumers. This segment is the only good part of the movie.

Other than this - I was squirming while watching the movie.

Bad 1

Misusing company's (AYS corporation) resources while building his company ( Rocket ). They do justify in the movie that our hero is insulted as zero by AYS's boss. Rocket's employees will use AYS's van for transporting equipments, they will work during the night and sleep during the day in the office - while drawing salary from AYS.

Bad 2

Rocket team had the honour not to divert existing leads that come to AYS. However, they dug out the old leads which have declined AYS. AYS would have spent lot of marketing dollars, WoM to generate leads. Also the reasons for declining AYS might have been - lack of budget that time, not a good champion at the other end, no requirement etc. Rocket cannot steal the old leads of AYS.

Bad 3

This pissed me off. The whole bane of Indian Startups - undercutting to get a business. Rocket's differentiators - undercut AYS and also offer 24x7 Support - which is not sustainable. This kills the industry as it creates unreasonable expectations.

I would have appreciated Rocket if they had charged more than AYS's support to offer 24x7 and quick turn around time and convinced the customer - which is harder to sell. How could they sustain at cheap rates and give quality support? [ If your employees draw salary from another company - AYS - may be. ].

Undercutting, giving cash back, giving discounts, throwing freebies - it is the easy way to sell - and is not sustainable. Company will lose eventually. Customers will lose. The Industry dies.

Selling a quality product at a price it deserves is the hard way to sell - which is sustainable. Customers will win. Company wins. The industry they both operate will thrive.

Rocket Singh is a bad movie for budding entrepreneurs.

1. Thou shalt not steal your existing employee's resources.
2. Thou shalt not steal your existing employee's leads
3. Thou shalt not capture business by undercutting your competitor at unsustainable rates.

Some good lessons where there though

1. Say no to corruption - everywhere - even in Private sector
2. Business is about People.

My only prayer is hope these wrong lessons are not picked up by young entrepreneurs and they ask these questions before mis-using existing company's resources or starting a race to the bottom death match with their competitors.

I wish there is a Rocket Singh - II. And the movie continues where it left so we know how Rocket manages the low costs he is giving.










Sunday, June 10, 2018

10k after a long time

I ran 10K last on 06th August 2017.

After that the maximum I touched was 8k - rarely. Most of my runs were 4 5 or 6 kms.

Partly because I did not find any good audio book. I fondly remember the days when I used to run with Three Body Problem, Ender's world - all kept me on my toes ( literally ).

Summer heat, difficult audio books ( Ubik, Diamond Age ) - weren't helping.

Today my running friend - Akshay - joined me. This is how usually runners talk

He : How much today?

Me : Trying 10. 2 down. How about you?

He : 21 yesterday, planning 10 today.

Me : Wow. Lets do it.

I switch off my audio book. I know Akshay tells Ohm while he runs. When I dont listen I keep telling Om Ma Nee Pad Me Hum.

I think about these mantras. They are powerful and slowly chip into your soul.

2 or 3 rounds around the lake, we run across his son. 14 year old - he comes with us for a full round as we talk about cricket. He is a fast bowler. We egg his ego. But he drops off after a round.

I complete my 10k. Satisfying run.



I do my stretches and lie on the grass spread eagled. It starts drizzling. It was magical.

Here are a few photos of the lake - It is in AECS layout. Mud track. Trees are growing up well.

A huge Thank you lake activists. You have no idea how much I love this paradise you guys have helped create.














Thursday, June 07, 2018

Sufi you are an illegal immigrant as of today


BBMP - The corporate body in charge of Bangalore - which keeps roads pot hole free, streets free of trash, lakes without foam, keeps underpasses dry during monsoon - was able to carve out free time to brainstorm and come up with a new law - to regularize pets.

BBMP has put up a list of allowed breeds in Apartment Complexes. Sufi who happens to be a Beagle is now an illegal immigrant as of today. Sufi, Trump also hates you now.

And it is not over - there is a new rule now - only one pet per apartment is allowed. And Indies are not in the list either. Good luck Carbon ( Sufi's friend living in a nearby Apartment ).

To tackle pet breeders they justify. I tell this to Sufi and she does a face palm with her cute paws.

Instead of punishing all pet lovers - why can't they legalize and regularize pet breeding. Right now it is done illegally and the poor animals are exploited. The mothers are made to give birth every 6 months for 14 years at a stretch and are reduced to machines and then let loose on the street - and not knowing how to fend for themselves - die a miserable death.

BBMP's intention - I appreciate and am grateful - is right. But their law will just be like the trash clogging the storm water drains - is of no use and will cause more problems for everyone.

This law is not going to curb pet breeders. Now they will give you an additional service. Apart from selling a puppy out of their puppy mill - for an additional charge will get you a license. More money for breeders, the officials. Ka-Ching.

This reminds me of how the IT Department went after Angel Investments in Startups.

Startups get investment on the valuation suggested by the founders ( ahemm.. on a huge discount ). This is not an income to the startup. Even a 3rd grader knows this.

One wily politician ( no names here - dont have energy to fight lawsuits ) - used this route to park his ill-gotten money as investment in fictitious companies.

The IT Department was asked to go after such investments. Now that everything is automated - the IT Department officials did a Select-All, Mail Merge and sent threatening letters to all Startups who raised Angel Investment - to treat this investment as income - and so you should pay tax. Some - like us - have used up all the money in building the business. Some had shut down and the founders had moved on.

All the Startup founders collectively face palmed, panicked and had one more reason to lose sleep upon.

Startups now engaged their Auditors - who relished such a battle - replies were sent, demands to appear on such and such date was made, personal appearances were made on behalf of the startup by the auditor ( everything billed to the Startup once again - with GST mind you ).

And the wily politician? Oh they have the means and resources to tackle such notices.

Being the victim of 2 such laws ( Pet Law and Angel Tax ) - cannot help laughing at the situation.

So what will happen to Sufi?

I am not too worried. Sufi is backed by Beagle Brigade. The group which rescued such Beagles from the clutches of Laboratory which used Animals for testing cosmetic products. I am confident they will get Beagle included in the list.

My real worry is - why is BBMP burning its midnight oil on such Pet laws. Monsoon is charging up as we speak and Bangalore is going to become one big messy pool. The road to our apartment complex has been dug up on the left for GAIL gas pipe line and a drainage on right. Not yet relaid. It is a muddy mess with vehicles getting stuck. When it rains what will happen?

Sigh.











Monday, June 04, 2018

Bloggers Block!

My last post was in January 2018 and it was an effortless post - just a book round up of 2017 books I read.

From then to now lots have happened.

Rajinikanth has announced his entry into politics.

Flipkart got acquired by Walmart.

CSK won the IPL tournament.

BJP struggles to win

Trump is not yet impeached.

Spectre Bug

Bitcoin went up and down and out of news now.

And yet it all went unobserved by me.

So my future self on a rebirth who somehow discovers this blog - or an alien race researching on why the Earth imploded - a big part of history will be missing.

My future Self and aliens - I am resuming my blogging.

Unblocking the Bloggers Block - let my ideas flow and live in the ether.


Sunday, January 28, 2018

2017 Books Round up

My first blog post of every new year is on the books I crunched in the past 1 year. Here is the list for previous years - 20102011201220132014,  2015 and 2016

Compared to other years, this year I had shunned Social Media - zero posts in FB. Few marketing retweets in Twitter. TV was shunned already.  I had more time to read books than previous years - inspite of a hectic 2017 

Here are the books I crunched - classified by Genres :

Science Fiction

1. Death's End - Cixin Liu







This is the 3rd and final part of the Three Body Problem. Science Fiction from China. In the earlier part Earth Civilization is preparing for an attack. In this part they are attacked. There is one funny piece where a scientist falls into a Black hole. However his wife does not get insurance, because he can never be declared dead - he is still falling into the black hole and is never dead theoretically! 

2. Dark Matter


Multi verse. Nice racy read.

3. Old Man's War



I think Netflix is making a TV serial of this. Interesting plot.

4. Xenocide





3rd and concluding part of Ender's world. I read the first part in 2012 or 2013. While running around the synthetic track of a Sports Authority of India's training ground in Kandivali, Mumbai.

Little did I know that this book - Xenocide was the actual book the author wanted to write - but it was difficult to consume, so he built up a nice hollywoodish thriller ahead of it - got me hooked so had to read this difficult book.

At times it is painful - how the genetically mutated humans who actually have a OCD condition - but are made to believe they are god spoken and they purify themselves by tracing the wood grains on the floor.

Another place one alien - hunter - gives his life to prove they are independent and not under the influence of another alien virus.

Interesting plot. Have to go deep to appreciate these questions. This book is not for the faint of heart. You should be a hardcore science fiction fanatic to live through this book.

But worth it.

5. We are Legion







A brain of a cryogenically frozen guy is Bob is revived and made the brain of a spaceship. He or It  escapes from Earth which is at the verge of getting destroyed because of a nuclear war.

I get introduced to the concept of a Van Neumann machine. A self replicating machine. Bob creates more Bobs and spaceships. They go on to explore the universe.

They discover a humanoid species and Bob decides to help a smart kid ( Bob christens him Newton ) against gorillas. Simultaneously few Bobs go to Earth and try to rescue the remaining living humans.

Was not boring at all and enjoyed the story and plot.

6. Do Androids dream of Electric Sheep





Sci Fi Classic. I had actually started this book but forgotten. In between a year had passed. This is a complicated book. At times was engrossing at times was torture.

7. The Fold





Nice racy read. Did not get boring. Kind of predictable. The hero is a a high IQ guy living in hiding as an English Literature who is called in to study a high secret science project - and shit hits the fan.

Fiction



8. Sputnik Sweetheart



You can read any book of Haruki Murakami - his prose just flows and you will never get bored.

9. Aunts aren't gentlemen - PG Wodehouse




My first PGW. Funny. Actually my first PGW was watching a play based on PGW's story - my birthday treat in 2016. After that found this book lying in our house and started reading it. Like the slow gentle pace and how the plot ravels and unravels.

10. Under the dome - Stephen King





There is a Netflix TV series. I started watching it, got hooked and then switched to this book.  Very interesting plot. In the end he had thanked his team - of course there was a team who thought about the details. How to escape from a situation where there is no oxygen, and how they survive by breathing from a car tyre. The utter madness of a psychotic killer. It is all there. Going on a long vacation with lot of time to kill - pick this book. Never a dull moment.

11. Scion of Ishvaku





Loved it. Read Amish Tripathi if you haven't.

12. Sita





Part II. Loved it too. Waiting for the next in series - Raavan.

13. IQ84




Donald Trump is president. This book is very close to the hilarious reality we are all getting into.

I had actually made a mistake in downloading this book in kindle. There is a book with the same name by Harukki Murrakami - thought was getting that book and ended up getting this - no complaints though.

Felt like reading one of those typical Hollywood movies.

14. Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguru




Heard that this author won a Nobel Prize in Literature. So got his best work.

Superb prose and narration. Story just flows. Quite a simple and nice plot. Must read. Some good questions are raised. What if you toiled all your life on something and which turned out to be a failure - are you a failure or since you toiled dutifully it is not. Don't know either.

Biography

15. There are no short cuts to the top






Book is about a high altitude mountaineer who has climbed all 8000+ Ft peaks - 14 of them are there - without an oxygen tank. Very interesting and inspiring.



16. The man who knew infinity


The biography of the greatest Indian Mathematician - Srinivasa Ramanujan. Must read for Mathematicophilles.


17. Mossad





"No way" I was telling to myself reading some of the exploits of Mossad. Egypt Premier's son in law was on Mossad's pay roll. They got early warning of the attack of Israel by Egypt and coalition. It was like a thriller - not a good book to read before sleeping.

Classics

17. Adventures of Tom Sawyer





What a masterpiece. Had only read the abridged version in school earlier. There was no iPhone or XBox with Tom Sawyer. He entertained himself with a tick in class or a dead cat. Lovely writing. Thoroughly enjoyed it. It felt like an alien universe - Tom Sawyer's world - compared to the electronic era we live in now.

Spirituality

18. Man's Search for Meaning






Just read this book. It is not spiritual or religious even though I have classified it under Spirituality.

It is about a Jewish Psychiatrist who survived the Holocaust. He could observe the Human Mind when it was going through the greatest distress - they did not know if they will be alive the next hour. However Viktor Frankl, the author survived - and lived to tell his tale.

Has practical application for life.

19. The Prophet




You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, 
and He bends you with His might 
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, 
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Each chapter is a prose like this. Full of deep advises and insights. On every aspect of human life. Can keep visiting this book. Very deep and enjoyable.


20. Little Prince






This was gifted to Prithvi by his Maashi. It is a small book - and we all ended up reading it. Very beautifully written and makes you think - on the mad rat race we are all running.

21. Adiyogi




There are lot of stories of Shiva and takes the goal of enlightenment up a notch - to go into nothingness. I did not quite get it - perhaps I might some day. Must read for Isha fans.

Science

22. Are we smart enough to know how smart animals are






Some of the cutting edge research on Animal psychology proves how much we still do not know. Crows can solve complex puzzles a Chimpanzee can solve ( supposedly the 2nd smartest after humans ) - with a lot smaller brain and just a beak. The more the scientists dig the more they are in awe of the wonderful co-habitants of this planet.

As a former meat eater I feel ashamed to have unknowingly participated in using the animals for food - these are sentient creatures - who can feel love and pain - they deserve a better life than the ones we humans are subjecting them to.

23. Sapiens




If you pick up this book, read this as if you are an alien reading about the Human Race. Can appreciate this better.

The author, an Israelite talks highly of Buddhism and how it is the most practical of all religions today. Unfortunately the author does not talk much on the Indian culture which evolved over a greater period and has contributed to the human civilisation a great deal.

Productivity

24. The Advantage






There were some good learnings from this book which I believe we implemented in ADDA.

25. Rich Dad Poor Dad




Wish I had read this book 20 years back. .

26. Tools of Titans







Damn you Tim Ferriss. You know how to take money from me year after year. This book has 3 sections - Healthy, Wealthy and Wise. Great tips and it is one of those books you can readily put things into action.

27. Hard things about Hard things



Running a Startup? Drop everything and read this first. Very thought provoking and has some good tips and tricks.

28. School of Greatness




Had some good advises - some of them I follow already so was nothing new - but a good re-affirmation book for me.


29. High output Management


This book was heavily quoted in Hard Things about Hard things - so had to read it. Had good tips in running an organisation. Need for training and orientation - which something we were not focussing much on.

30. Slip Stream






Another dimension / advantage of getting into "Flow". Good insights.

31. Only the Paranoid Survive




Another must read for any Startup Founder. How Intel prepared itself to move from a Memory company to a Chip Company - how they read the market conditions and did a course correction which saved Intel.




Sunday, October 15, 2017

Medium - you disappointment.

Imagine.

A place without the Social Media noise.

A place to go to read what the great minds are thinking.

A place without Advertisements or Clickbaits.

That place was Medium. It is no more.

But isn't Medium a business?

It is a business at the end of the day. There is no free lunch. Medium has to pay its staff. The investors need an exit.

But shouldn't knowledge and thoughts be free?

Human Kind has progressed with the free flow of knowledge. Whenever knowledge was dammed, chaos reigned. Human progress slows down. When knowledge is shared, we grow by leaps and bounds.

Tesla made all its patents open source. So other electric car manufacturers can develop on it. Volvo invented the seat belt and opened up its patent. They saved millions of lives.

In contrast.. Apple and Google and Samsung - the Mobile Phone giants are patenting the smallest of idea - and stiffling innovation in Mobile phones - so no new ideas can come to life - except the giants.

Or like India not having access to  Cryogenic rocket technology - which the Superpowers hold it within themselves and so we still haven't been able to launch a human to space.

Venkat, you got fooled so dont blame Medium

Agreed I misled myself. I believed Medium to be this utopian watering hole I go to read about Productivity Hacks, Entrepreneurs, Cancer Survivors. I love(d) Medium.

But it all has come to an end. Medium is now forcing me to pay to access this content.

Can't you just pay the 5$ a month?

Yes, I can. Mostly I will. Medium is where I turn for inspiration or book ideas or stimulate my mind and curiosity.

So what is Venkat's problem?

If writers start writing for money - will it not again get into the clickbait territory. The writers get paid based on the claps they get. So they will start writing for more claps. What gets claps? - Sensational stuff. Things that appeal to the darkest part of the human mind. Things that make you say eew and aaw.. and yet you will read. Things like the accident on the road when a crowd surrounds it - you want to peek in.

I just described above - the Tabloid Newspapers, The News Channels, The Articles on Social Media

Medium was free of all that. Because writers wrote freely with no monetary carrot dangling in front of them.

The whole concept of Medium is shattered.

So what is the solution?

Medium was started by the co-founder of Twitter - Evan Williams. I can bet it does not take billions of dollars to develop and run Medium. Evan Williams could have just sustained single handedly from a fraction of his annual income.

Heck. If Medium had just asked for donation like Wikipedia - people would have paid.

There are so many sites still running - Ad free - Wikipedia, Craigstlist, Angelist..

Sigh.

You Devil called Money. We hate you but we cannot live without you.






Sunday, June 25, 2017

What I learnt from fasting for 30 days

Few of my Muslim colleagues and friends were starting the month long Ramzan Fast.In Tools of the Titans book I had read how the health nuts go on long fasts and the health benefit they get.

I had to jump into the fray. 

I started researching on the month long 12 hour fast without food or water. I knew I could manage without food but water - that was the big doubt I had. I am someone who always goes around with a water bottle in hand.

Here is the story on what I discovered in the 30 day fast. 


 

Keto State

First some Biology.

There are 2 mechanisms how energy is distributed in the body.  The first is the normal one. We eat food - and the Carbohydrates gets broken down to glucose and blood carries this to all parts of the body. When glucose content is low we feel depleted and low on energy. Body refuses to move, brain usage slows down - and it will start searching for the next food - and the whole cycle repeats. 

However, when things are not normal - when food is scarce - an alternative energy distribution mechanism called the Keto State will kick in. In the early Neanderthal humans - when a drought or famine comes along or there is no more game to hunt -  these pre-historic humans will have to go for days without food or water - they cannot sit still and complain but they have to migrate or travel longer distances to find food. During these emergency situations the body then starts breaking the stored fat and produces “Ketos”. These Ketos give the energy to move and also burn their brain cells to find new territories and fend off hostile predators and environments. 

The performance of both mind and body is enhanced - significantly.  Otherwise because of lack of Carbohydrates if the human body had shut down - we as a species would have got eliminated long back. 

This enhanced state is the “Keto State”. Body burns Fat instead of Carbohydrates. 

This is the same thing that happens during Full Marathons - after the runner depletes the stored glucose between 24-28 KMs - they come across this wall when the body has to start burning Fat. If they cross this barrier - then they can keep running - even beyond the 42KMs - even 100+ in a day.. what Ultra Runners do regularly.

My experience in Keto State

Once the body switched to Keto state -  I had a  certain euphoric feeling throughout the day and I felt always energetic and alert. I had dropped coffee - being a diuretic I was sceptical of having coffee during fasting. Yet did not experience any slow down or lethargy in spite of no caffeine in the blood. 

At times for longer periods during the day - I felt the exact “clear mindedness” I get after running for 2 hours / a hour long Sudarshan Kripa / dip + meditation in Isha dome - It was amazing. 

I seemed to have tapped into an infinite energy source within myself. Once I went on a marathon training session from 10AM to 4:30 PM. Around 1PM the participants took turns for lunch. I kept going. Even at 4:30 I was still going strong. I am someone who gets drained after a couple of hours - not a human interaction types person - meetings and training’s mentally drain me. I was pleasantly surprised it was the same me - that too running on empty.

Another time - I had to walk around a bit - and around 1:30 PM I was totally drained. I think morning whatever little carbs I ate - got used up and body was shutting down. The next meeting was at 2 and I found a chair and slumped into it. Took a quick nap and once the 2PM meeting started - I had a tremendous burst of energy. Kept going till evening. 

Yes, there were some down moments in this as well. 

First few days in the evenings I will get a mild headache which went off after breaking the fast. Did get angry and irritated more than my regular quota. Also noticed in a few people who were fasting were getting irritated and were short tempered. Or could be it was me - the world gets coloured with the vision of ourselves.  Started my regular Sahaj meditation and it was brought under control. Had to start using Mouth wash twice a day - to fend off the bad breath. Other than these there were no other issues I faced.  

The Vegetarian Faster

Fasting is the only way to get to Keto State. We have to starve the body of Carbs. I picked this from Paleo diet -  they eat Fat and only fat and they completely avoid Carbs. 

It is tough for a plant eater. To get to Keto state fast - one has to cut down all carbs and switch to a fully fatty diet. Fat is in abundance in meat. Vegetarians get fat mainly from Milk products and Egg. If you are a Pure vegetarian - Eggs are a no go. If you are a Vegan - even milk is a no go. I don’t think Vegans can go to Keto state. 

I am in the path to be a Vegan - so had cut down on Milk and Egg. My morning cup of coffee is my only milk intake. Eggs are rare. 

I had to go back to my Milk and Egg diet. Milk in the form of Paneer, Butter and Cheese. 

I will wake up around 5:00 AM and stuff myself with Paneer, 2 Eggs, Sprouts, Butter with 1 bread, a banana and chug half a jug of water. After a week I reduced to half of what I was eating. I will try to finish it all off before 6:00 AM. I was not following the strict sunrise to sunset my Muslim friends were following - but from 6AM to 6PM or to 7:30 PM depending on when I get home.  

Dinner I will eat a roti or two with some Chenna or Paneer based Sabzi - and will have lots of veggies, sprouts, soaked peanut, fruits etc. 

In my research Sprouts and Dates are a must - and are the magic food that kept me going. Once I broke my fast in the evening, but did not eat sprouts. Dinner was not ready and I felt drained and almost slept off without eating dinner.. Later I made sure I eat the sprouts both times of the day. 

Is this healthy?

I should have done a blood test before and after. Kicking myself for not having done it. There is scientific evidence on the cleansing of accumulated toxins these intense fasts do. I checked my weight before and after - remained the same. Might have dropped in the middle. 

However, it is not to be done for elongated periods of time - beyond a month. Then the returns diminish and might end up hurting the fragile ecosystem of our body. Paleo dieters should do the carb free diet once or twice a year for a month. 

Another tweak I am doing going forward is to reduce Carb Intake. Swap the portions of Rice and Side dish. That is Side dish takes over the Center plate, and rice moves into a cup where the side dish was. 

Fasting is present in every religion - Hindus typically do it around Moon cycle - planning to adopt this in my routine. Christians have Lent. Muslims have Ramzan. Jains have even more intense fasts - 24 hours I believe. 

I will be back in 2018 and will do the the Ramzan fast. So I can continue dishing out such dialogues as “I am a Buddhist, who fasts like a Muslim and listens to Shiv Slokhas”.

New Achievement unlocked in Game of life.