Saturday, March 31, 2007

something for nothing

I typed in my browser and this is what came up:

What an absolutely fantastic idea!
Okay, I agree we're all tired of intrusive ads and this is as intrusive as one can get. And most of us quickly click through in a stop-this-nonsense-and-show-me-my-page attitude. But this ad changes everything.

You are pleasantly surprised that you are getting a premium feature for a short trial period for free. That immediately changes how you perceive the ad: suddenly, from being a punishment it becomes a reward. So you are more receptive to what is coming next. This in itself multiplies the value of this placement a thousand-fold for Intel, especially on the internet where attentions spans are measured in seconds.

Then, the Economist has given you a free trial to premium content. What better way to persuade you to buy premium content! And it gets paid to cross-sell/up-sell its own wares.

And the user... the user has a free lunch today.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

class action

145 billion dollars payout in a lawsuit, settlements worth billions of dollars to avoid such law suits - you can see Class Action is about serious money.

Almost always lawyers stand to gain the most, taking sizable (even 50% at times!) cut of the punitive damages over and above contingency fees. Corporates never tire of talking how it is a medium for blackmail. Find a large company with deep pockets, a few disgruntled people and a greedy lawyer and you have a classic class action suit.

And now they say that class action law suits are being introduced in Europe as well, albeit in a variety of flavours. And among the things being debated are various controls on the process to prevent it from going the American way - limits on punitive damages, no juries to prevent the awards from jumping through the roof, or not allowing lawyers to keep a slice of the pie.

Here's what I think everyone should do: award the actual damage to the plaintiff and impose punitive damages on the miscreant corporate but let that money go to public welfare.

The punishment will be fair - taking the size and responsibility of the corporate into account. Awards will also be fair - just the actual damages. The lack of incentive will keep scroungers at bay. And I'm sure in every country public welfare can use the money; not only that, awarding punitive damages to society will be an indication of where the responsibility of corporations lie.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

the trouble is

Rejecting the conventional wisdom is now itself entirely conventional

el jay

In the days and posts since my shift to Blogger, the only thing I really find lacking here (and in perhaps all other blogging platforms) is the way LiveJournal handles comments. The ability to have threaded comments is a strong enabler of conversation which I think is what blogging is also about - two way communication.
This feature is sorely missed. So too the notifications if someone replies to a comment you had left on a blog.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

movies update

Starting with Water, for which, inspite of the touted Academy Award nominations, I didn't have much expectations. It was my first Deepa Mehta film and not even up to whatever little expectations I had. I cannot imagine what she has been trying to get at with this film. Plight of widows in the India of fifty years ago? What were Greek god/goddess-like actors doing there then? There even is a dancing-around-the-trees routine! I found the film was a tad too frivolous for such a theme and the suffering depicted seemed imposed as if trying to force an emotional reaction from the audience. The only part I liked was the portrayal of an India facing the dualities of British domination.

Now that I am done with what I didn't like, I'm looking forward to write about the ones that I did.

Pan's Labyrinth is a must watch if you like fantasy. It interleaves the ordinary and the extraordinary worlds in a remarkable plot. It is imaginative and real at the same time and as it takes you through the tribulations of a little girl coming to terms with her fantasies there is a strong sense of connection with the bridge between two worlds.

Then there was Hayako Miyazaki's Castle In The Sky. If you've been brought up on a regular dose of cartoons and animation as I have, you'll love all of Miyazaki's films. He is the pioneer in animated films and Disney and Pixar today take inspiration from his artwork.

What can I say about In The Mood For Love. Wong Kar Wai is perhaps the greatest director ever. Although I had already seen 2046 (the sequel) before this, it didn't make much difference. You fall in love with the cinematography as the director uses colour, sound and imagery at once leaving all your senses hopelessly hooked! It is one movie I wish I could forget and watch again, and forget again and watch yet again...

After the brilliant Smiles Of A Summer Night I was a little wary of the next Ingmar Bergman movie - high expectations generally lead to a let down. But Wild Strawberries held its own and magnificently at that. Quite unlike the former, Wild Strawberries is a serious film, a little depressing at times. The stark black and white contrasts accentuates the mood. The eloquent silences were pulled off marvelously by Victor Sjöström's acting. And the movie starred one of the most beautiful actresses I've seen - Ingrid Thulin. She's pretty close to edging out Natalie Portman from the top slot today!
It so happened that this DVD was a Criterion Collection DVD and I ended up watching the commentary feature on the film. I must say that this is the first time I've watched any commentary on a film and I quite enjoyed it. It was very entertaining finding out how much of the film has been taken from Ingmar Bergman's life and trivia about the actors and certain scenes. More movies should have such commentaries available.

Monday, March 19, 2007

distribution in reverse

There are two kinds of people in Bangalore: those who live in Koramangala and those who don't.

I happen to be one of the latter and I also happen to absolutely not envy the others. Except when it comes to ordering food home. Almost no restaurant, including the pizza joints (yes, can you believe that!), delivers to HSR Layout and obviously all do to Koramangala. I don't blame them - wading through Bangalore traffic is probably deterrent enough. The ROI on delivering to places farther off must be very little and if the food is late (which is as often as not, thanks to the traffic) the restaurant ends up forfeiting a sizable amount of the bill.
It ends up being much more lucrative to just serve people closer by.

So I wonder why there cannot be a small supply chain that works from the other end. Instead of delivering food from a restaurant to nearby places it will bring food from restaurants to a given area. For my sake, let's assume the area is HSR Layout. It shouldn't be too difficult finding people who would like food delivered from various restaurants in Koramangal and are willing to wait out the traffic delays (way better than driving by oneself to pick up the food anyway). The delivery folks can take advantage of the fact that they'll need to pick up food from multiple restaurants in a particular locality and drop the food to homes clustered in a second locality. Service can be expanded optimally by picking areas where restaurants are concentrated preferably along the same route to the home locality. Of course, there are a whole lot other tricks to save some time and money

I'm darn sure that this can be done profitably। Eventually, there are economies of (small?) scale to take advantage of.

Monday, March 12, 2007


I can't seem to find anything around here these days!

Recently I spent a good twenty minutes trying to hunt down a post I had read about social networking sites not being good real estate for ads.

I know it was a post I had read in the last couple of weeks. I know at least one paragraph talked about monetizing social networking websites. I also know it was a post in the set of feeds I subscribe to which narrows down the number of pages considerably. But no matter what keywords I tried, the advanced search in Bloglines drew a blank each time.

Given all this information it's a shame I couldn't get what I was looking for. Search engines have solved (to some extent) the problem of scale. They can locate somewhat useful data from the trillions of pages using TF/IDF, Page Rank and other tricks. But they still need be able to find what the user is looking for. My search was probably looking at a few hundred articles at most but the machine just does not know how to figure what text is talking about social networking and monetization and internet ads.

We need a find engine.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

geek humour

xkcd really cracks me up!
Some of their comics that had me rolling today: