Jag Venugopal's Blog

October 26, 2011

Netflix’s troubles

Filed under: Digital Living — Jag @ 5:06 am

If only I had shorted the stock at the same time as I wrote about Netflix’s troubles… I’d be laughing all the way to the bank. Looks like Netflix’s ultimate strategy is to vertically integrate, and be a content creator as well as distributor. They’re not going to distribute as widely as they did in the DVD era, but they’re going to finance unique content. In other words, they’re aiming to become a new HBO clone.

I suggested a month ago that this was the only option available to them. Good to know Reed Hastings follows my blog 🙂



October 18, 2011

A billion bucks doesn’t even buy you good Vaastu

Filed under: India — Jag @ 10:20 pm

India’s richest man decided to build a billion-dollar monument to his ego. But he hasn’t moved in yet and it is rumored he never will. All because of poor Vaastu.

Vaastu is Indian pseudoscience, similar to Feng Shui. It dictates the placement of various rooms, windows, bathrooms, etc in specific positions in the house, so that it is beneficial to the occupant. Unfortunately, Mukesh Ambani’s American architects were oblivious to the dictates of this “science”.

Vaastu has become big business in India. Some enterprising individuals have combined Vaastu with mumbo-jumbo about the Pyramids to come up with a variant called Pyramid Vaastu.

Memo to Mr. Ambani — if you’re willing to sell for $200,000 and can finance the purchase with a 4% 30-year fixed mortgage, I know a buyer who would be too happy to get it off your hands, Vaastu or no Vaastu.

What to do if you’re an imprisoned Indian politician? Develop chest pain

Filed under: India — Jag @ 6:28 am

Indians’ tolerance for corruption finally seems to have run out. And so it is that politicians of all hues are being marched off to jail, pending criminal investigation of their doings.

What are you supposed to do if you’re a politician that has lived off the fat of the land for many years? Indian jails are not exactly luxury accommodations. Besides, there is the stigma of a once-great government man or woman slumming with common criminals.

The way out is simple! Develop chest pains. Once the prisoner complains of chest pains, the jail authorities get really worried. You see, they don’t want said politician’s supporters rioting if the complaints are true and the imprisoned politician dies of a heart attack. What they end up doing is to take the prisoner to the best ward in the local government hospital.

The imprisoned politician is now in his own room, waited hand and foot by the hospital staff, and has every whim and fancy met. His behavior may be criminal, but using this strategy, he can avoid association with common criminals. And the beauty of feigning chest pain is that there’s no way to disprove it.

What is to be done if the court decides that you are fit enough to go back to jail, based on doctors’ reports? Elementary! Claim a different ailment. Repeat as necessary.

Here are some recent examples of what I describe above:

October 17, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jag @ 8:10 am

From Reddit:

October 13, 2011

R.I.P. Dennis Ritchie

Filed under: Project Management — Jag @ 8:30 am

Dennis Ritchie, of “The C Programming Language” and Unix renown has moved on to program the great Unix machine in the sky. For those of us that cut their teeth on C and Unix in the late 80’s and early 90’s, he will be missed. His legacy is strong, and lives on in Linux, Android, MacOS, C#, C++ and Java. It is a fitting tribute that derivatives of Unix in the form of Android and iOS are giving Microsoft a big run for its money.

May his soul rest in peace.



October 5, 2011

The $35 tablet is here, for $60

Filed under: Digital Living,India — Jag @ 7:11 pm

The much ballyhooed $35 tablet promoted by Indian education minister Kapil Sibal is here. Engadget is reporting that it is an off-the-shelf Ubislate 7 from a company called Datawind.

How do they get the cost down to $35? Simple… government subsidies. Never mind that the Indian government is running a deficit, and has on its hands such gems as a fertilizer company that never made an ounce of fertilizer, or cable manufacturers that make zero feet of cable each year. They are now in the tablet marketing business.

I would be excited if there was some technological advance that could qualify as innovation on the cost front. Instead, what you have is a bottom-drawer Android tablet sold by a non-name company, subsidized by the Indian government for God knows what purpose.

Rather than coming up with such cockamamie schemes, it would make a much greater difference if they did something meaningful at the primary school level… get more kids to show up, have teachers that teach, and provide decent classrooms. I’m sure $35 can buy a lot in the rural areas — providing employment to teachers and a semblance of education to children who desperately need it.

The purpose to which these tablets will be put is unclear. (no educational software, word processing, spreadsheets, software development tools, etc). After the fanfare has died, I suspect it will play a central role in granting young men easy access to the abundance of “tube” sites on the Internet.

Postscript: Indian readers with gray hair will recognize a time in the early eighties when Color TV had just been introduced, and a government firm, ECIL, started manufacturing them. Everyone was promised one of these new-fangled gadgets for 5000 Rupees, approximately half the going rate from private manufacturers. I remember badgering my father to call the dealer week after week asking if they had any in stock. They never received any — after a few specimens at the advertised price, the government tired of handing out 5000-Rupee subsidies to each purchaser. Similarly, I suspect that after a few token batches of the tablet have been sold, it will go “out of stock”, and die a slow and unheralded death.

October 1, 2011

Here’s how the Kindle Fire will hurt the iPad

Filed under: Digital Living — Jag @ 9:57 pm

Much ink has been spilled on the features of the Amazon Kindle Fire, and whether it is an iPad killer or not. Some have said that it is a media consumption device and not a general tablet like the iPad. Others have called this the one tablet that will compete with the iPad.

I think most observers have missed the point. Its not about whether there is feature parity between the two or whether the one or the other is better at any random feature. Where the Fire hurts the iPad big time is that it has now anchored $200 as the price of a tablet in the consumer’s mind. While a year ago, the iPad was touted as a “magical device at an extraordinary price”, today, the perception is that it is 2 1/2 times more expensive than the Fire, which by all accounts, will be a competent tablet (with a limited feature set). That, ultimately, is the damage that the Fire will do to the iPad. People will look at the iPad and wonder about whether its worth the 2.5x premium over the Fire.

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