April 8, 2008

This season’s word seems to be “monetize“. Which means “finding a way to make money out of an idea or a piece of technology“. I think that what it really means is “exploit”, but for some reason in the articles I am reading the authors avoid using this. Perhaps these days it is not politically correct to say “exploit”, due to its association with, um, exploitation. So “monetize” is a more capitalistically correct term. After all, who could disagree with making money as a worthy aim…and saying “company x needs to monetize its offering to consumers” sounds less greedy than “company x should exploit its customers”!


Has the latest buzzword reached your workplace yet? Perhaps they would have started their transition to be at the linguistic cutting edge. If you come across “monetize” in an internal report or document, do remember OTG.


Now, dear readers, if only I could find an easy way to monetize my blogging…:-)



April 1, 2008

A newspaper article caught my eye: “a study this week suggests that an amazing 40 per cent of the population in G£a$gow sleepwalks”… My immediate reaction was that I already know this. I often find one of those sleepwalkers driving the car in front of me on the way to work. But, hang on… This percentage looks rather high.


Is it really the case that when you are sitting in a meeting in G£a$gow it is likely that four out of the ten people round the table spent some of the night walking around oblivious? [Looks around office…hmm, well perhaps]


I investigated further… seeking to corroborate the story from other sources, online and in print.Actually the real story is a bit different. The story comes from a press release from the Travelodge chain of hotels. Research was conducted at 310 Travelodge hotels, with a sample of 3,000 adults… In other words an average of just under 10 people per hotel were asked about sleepwalking.


There are two Travelodge hotels in G£a$gow, so a maximum of 20 Travelodge guests in G£a$gow contributed to the survey. I think that it is fair to assume that a sizeable proportion of the people staying at a Travelodge hotel in G£a$gow are not actually from the city.


So, the real story is that…about eight people, probably residents of a variety of different towns and cities, who have stayed at a Travelodge in G£a$gow admitted to sleepwalking at some point.Which is a far cry from “an amazing 40 per cent of the population of G£a$gow sleepwalks”.I sometimes feel that standards of objectivity are slipping.


I do hope that you all enjoyed your extra hour on weekend night, whether you were asleep in bed or out of it.

Cleaning up

March 17, 2008

Is it just me, or has anyone else found that they are presented with a wide selection of household cleaning equipment when they log on to Amazon? In the past I have been very impressed with Amazon’s customer relationship management system and their customer propensity modelling. I usually find one or two items of interest amongst the selection of “things you might be interested in”.

Until now I had assumed that this was based on some clever analysis of what you bought and what other customers had bought. Then they identify the common features and offer suggestions based on these.I can not see how even the most sophisticated algorithms have been able to link my recent Amazon purchases to a wide choice of vacuum cleaners and chrome waste bins for “bathroom, kitchen and office”.

Is it possible that the Amazon computers know more about me than I do myself? Will I suddenly get the urge to start some energetic Spring cleaning when I get back from my travels next weekend?… Of course now that thought has lodged in my brain, there is a higher probability that I will… Perhaps Amazon are pioneering new sophistication in suggestion marketing.

Now I come to think of it, my keyboard needs a good dusting.

Lucky stars

March 11, 2008

From the banks of the Tay to the banks of the Seine last Sunday night, in a strange shaped hotel room with a pillar next to my elbow as I scratch my stubble.

This hotel room has got some glossy magazines for my reading pleasure; I pick up Marie Claire (the magazine in the room, not someone in the bar) and scan her features.

My horoscope (Capricorn) says “unless you are lucky enough to be on a career sabbatical, demands at work might end up causing friction and force you to make a choice”Hmm. I think about my days at work and decide that every day contains friction and I’m forced to make many choices….What actions to take in response to emails, who to talk to, who to annoy, whether to have decaf or hot chocolate etc. Friction is just energy being used. It can generate heat and light. I don’t mind.

I check Madam “N’s” horoscope (Gemini) in case it gives any correlating guidance; “you’ll be able to push ahead on the career front, but if you want to take the fast track, you’ll need to be open to suggestions. Even if you’re not sure just say ‘Of course I can!’ anyway” Hmm. It sounds like I might be able to take that career sabbatical.(Just in case everything works out)

I scan the other star signs. Librans should be careful about settling down and buying hats. Taureans should use stalling tactics with people who want to do business. Leos should clear of physical and emotional clutter, but won’t feel the benefits straight away. Sexed-up virgins (do I know any?) in happy coupledom might do better in the long-term lust stakes if they dare to reveal all.

Nonsense really.

But hang on, I had an email from L the other day with a press release from the RAC which shows a correlation between your star sign and the likelihood of your car breaking down.

Guess what ? Pisceans are the luckiest and their cars break down the least; (Not if they drive a Land Rover they’re not).

Libra, Capricorn and Aquarius break down most frequently…. Not surprised about the Capricorns….all that long term lust being played out.

Gemini, Cancer and Taurus join Pisces at the bottom of the table. So if you are choosing who should drive you home after going out tonight, bear this in mind.

Of course there is a possibility that the probability of your car breaking down has more to do with the age and condition of the vehicle (unless it’s a Land Rover) than when you were born. But I’m just a sceptical old fish.

You have mail

March 4, 2008

I felt sorry for Gary Sinnott, the computer enthusiast from Suffolk who set up a website to promote his local town of Mildenhall. Unfortunately his domain name of was similar to that of the US Air Force base just down the road –; not that similar really, but Gary found himself the unwitting recipient of an increasing number of emails meant for personnel at the base.

As webmaster for, he received all the emails addressed to that domain. It wasn’t just junk and spam… his inbox was cluttered by some classified information, including the flight plans for George W. Bush on a visit to the region.

When the incoming emails reached 30,000 a day (according to the newspapers) Gary had to admit defeat in the face of US firepower. He closed down his website; Apparently the US authorities were unable to persuade their employees and correspondents to check the email addresses on their correspondence before clicking send. Personally I was quite surprised that the person sending the President’s flight plan didn’t pay a bit of attention to the address field.The thing is, familiarity breeds contempt and it’s all too easy to let your fingers do the thinking as they fly across the keys…

The suffix .com flows so smoothly from your fingertips compared to (try it!).I felt sorry for Gary because I sometimes get the wrong emails. Many of you would have already experienced the problems of having a name that is shared by at least two other people in the organisation. It is very easy to type half the address and to let the automated address book fill in the rest… I sometimes get emails about claims that need settling and I’m sure that poor  Sud in claims gets fed up with IT related matters.

For the last couple of months I have been in the trainee actuaries mailing list for some reason as well. I don’t know if I share a name or part of a name with one of our actuarial team. I’ve been quite interested to read about the varied topics, meetings and presentations that our actuaries attend… Although I would have been more interested in military secrets.

A discriminating age

January 27, 2008

A feature of life in the post vacation period is that when I finally get home there is usually a pile of unopened post waiting for me. This is not often very exciting. I hardly ever get any interesting letters. The only people who send me letters are either trying to sell me something, or trying to make me pay for something; I usually only receive interesting correspondence, from real people, by email.

Last Sunday evening was no exception. I arrived home and eventually got round to skimming through week’s post; The usual stuff, a gas bill from an electricity company and an electricity bill from British Gas, who for some reason had used an envelope with bilingual English and Welsh wording; and half a dozen direct marketing envelopes destined for the bin.

But wait!…. What’s this? A direct marketing offer from….The Oldie magazine.

I get a lot of subscription offers from magazines. This is because I sometimes take up free offers and then cancel once the free issues have arrived. I am obviously held in their Customer Relationship Management and Campaign Management systems as a hot lead, but difficult to convert.

But…. The Oldie?!… The clue is in the name. Surely I’m not old enough to read that, despite the claim in the letter that “It’s about attitude not age”. The Oldie was a magazine founded by a grumpy older person who was fed up with “being inundated by a mass of celebrity- and ‘yoof’ obsessed features”….

I can’t be part of that demographic…. Their customer segmentation model must be wrong. I’ve just finished my 12 month free offer from Vanity Fair (didn’t renew with a paid subscription, I thought it was rubbish…. full of celebrities and handbag adverts with just a few good articles now and then).

That’s what happens when you let computers apply marketing rules. No empathy.It never used to be like that.

Hail Lorry Sona

January 23, 2008

Sona means gold.One of my tution mate was this Sona, whose ancestors have migrated from Rajasthan to CBE. She looked gorgeous when she wore that……

Hell…No.. Am not gonna rant about that Sona.

Tamil movie lyricists have had a fancy towards this particular name.(and so do they have for “Senorita”).This name has been quite popular in tamil filmdom right from the 1980’s.

Do you remember this musical from KB in which the bell bottom wearing UNs(UN – Uchcha Natsathiram,Ulaga Nayagan) were shown merrily singing and dancing in ‘ingapore? Though the movie has a crappy story it has awesome songs composed by the legend. Clever..Clever..I am talking about “Ninaithale Inikkum”. The heroines name in the movie is Sona.That is Sona#1 for you.

Then came Manisha “Sona” Koirala in Indian. Tell me about it…Amazing song with an awesome picturization…That is Sona#2 for you.

Circa 1998…Ooty – Ajith – Jo. Wow… Sona#3.Jeeva’s photography has taken the movie (and the songs) into new heights.Though the entire nation was crazy about this song,I’d prefer “Nilavai kondu vaa” . No..Not for Simrans hiponomics. But for that “Kakkai Siraginile… Nandalala” interlude played in Sitar(Sitar???I guess..)

Ladies and gentlemen…after making yout to wait for 10 long years, we produly announce the arrival of “Lorry Sona“…

Er..who??? Lorry what???Is this Sona’s new avtar?? Sona v2.0???

For the un-initiated,try to grab some (sound) bytes from the following link…

(Search for”Nakka Mukka”)

This Sona really rocks…Hail Lorry Sona

Making the write noises

January 21, 2008

My handwriting is dreadful. It was never good, but it’s definitely getting worse with age. Originally I didn’t think that this would matter, because according to technology experts a few years ago, we would all be speaking to our computers by now and text would appear on the screen… no one would need to write anything by hand.

This has not happened. The current generation of voice to text software is pretty good, but not infallible. So you have to check carefully what has been dictated. In fact technology has advanced enough to allow us to use handwriting on screen instead. Which wasn’t what I expected. Most of the time the computer can not read my handwriting either unless I write slowly and carefully in primary school characters.

So one has to make illegible notes for himself in his notebook,to type legible notes for other people on his keyboard and to use his voice when interacting with people, animals and parking ticket payment machines.

I think it is about time that technology moved on.

Matchboxes and our Thalaivar

January 18, 2008

Last week sometime, I read that advances in computer modelling of nanotechnology wires (very, very small wires) mean that within ten years we are likely to have supercomputers the size of matchboxes.Part of me immediately wanted to know what size of matchbox.

Do they mean those small ones branded as “Rettai kiLi”(the proprietor might be a benami for Madam J) or the big boxes manufactured by “WITCO” exclusively for making the flower vases(with the help of tips from Mangaiyar malar,aval vikatan and so on and so forth) or those wax based ones, or those smaller, squarer boxes?…

…But it doesn’t matter. If supercomputers get that small, we are bound to put them down somewhere and lose them.A matchbox is smaller than a mobile phone… and people are always losing those.

I found one down the back of the seat in a taxi last week (a mobile phone, not a supercomputer… or a matchbox). The taxi driver tried to pretend it was his “spare” one which he had lent to the last passenger “because he wanted to make a call and asked me if I had a spare phone”… As if… (when was the last time you thought of asking a taxi driver if he had a spare phone for passengers to use on the off chance). Really the driver was worried that I was going to be a good samaritan and return it to the owner, when he just wanted to sell it for a few pounds.

So imagine what would happen if we had pockets full of teeny, weeny supercomputers. The back of your sofa would be like a data centre and you would be forever looking for somewhere to recharge your processing power. But actually, that is what will happen. Computers keep getting smaller and more powerful. The manufacturers will keep finding ways to make them appealing as lifestyle accessories. And suckers like me will keep wanting them.

I already carry around in my pocket at least 1,000 times more processing power than was used in the lunar module that carried astronauts to the surface of the moon. In fact, at home we have an unremarkable washing machine which has more computing power than a lunar module.

The important thing is that science keeps finding the solution to the next problem. In this case the ability to predict the way in which miniscule wires will fold when twisted, which allows accurate modelling of the tiniest of molecular scale microchips… It is the ingenuity of scientists which deserves respect, not the size of the computer.

Now that our thalaivar donning the role of a scientist in the so called epic of this decade, what would his character be called?? Any takers for Asok?? (the recently reincarnated intern)

What am I upto??

January 17, 2008

Apart from shuttling between G and P in firstscot rail and being a nice host to my alien visitors what am I upto these days??

1) The Mahabharata : a shortened modern prose version of the Indian epic – Narayan, R. K. – London : Heinemann, 1978 .
2) Snakes and ladders : glimpses of modern India . Mehta, Gita – London : Vintage, 1998
3) India after Gandhi : the history of the world’s largest democracy – Guha, Ramachandra – London : Macmillan, 2007

1) Rome Season 2 (“Heroes of the Republic”,”Philippi”)
2) Adrenaline pumping Chinese action movies(House of Flying Daggers,Curse of the Golden Flower)

I’ll tell you what…I am also trying to figure out various ways and means of tackling those relatives back at India who tend to ask “Ippo ange enna time??” type of questions, once in every 40 seconds in a 5 minutes conversation .