Race for SPACE

During the last couple of weeks or so, I have heard so much of news regarding the ambitious new projects being launched for the first commercial launch for SPACE travel. I remember, sometime back, there was an experimental run done at Mohave Desert. (Check out this report for more information). Incidentally, this effort was largely funded by Paul Allen, who is very well known for his very ambitious projects, which normally end up being cold turkey.

The latest news in this same area has come from none other than the maverick CEO of Virgin Atlantic, Sir Richard Branson (Full Report …). He wants to use the technology mentioned above to launch commercial flights into SPACE – in short, Space Odyssey : 2001 won’t be too far from reality.

Last but not the least, the Businessweek carried a report on this too. I thought, this was very interesting because this means that more and more people are going to put in their money into this sphere. This could be the next hottest thing after wireless. Probably, Paul Allen might have the last laugh !

Advertisements

Rise of the Baby Brigade :)

Yesterday night, we had been to Shital & Preeti’s farewell dinner. They are part of the group of people who have started the reverse exodus – that is moving from the land of Columbus back to India. There were lots of people in the party and so, in general, the party was really fun. If you want me to say it, then here it is – it was a great place to ‘Network’ and meet some new people too. Of course, there were old friends, old jokes (it’s amazing how some of the jokes never stale), old controversies and of course, discussions about college professors.

However, the most striking part of the party was the realization that most of our friends were not only married, but also were proud parents of some wonderful children. The apartment had children all over the place – on the parent’s laps, on top of the carrom board (ah ! – it was just wonderful to have played carrom after such a long time), sleeping on the carpet, running around etc. Of course, the kids were indeed having a wonderful time, no doubt about that. Add to that, there were some parents who were expecting kids very soon too. I can very well imagine how get-togethers in a short while from now on are going to look :).

You see, this is a completely change from the get-togethers that we used to have before, where any topic of discussion was fiercely argued and of course, topics of discussion usually stretched from Mother Teresa to Mamta Kulkarni. Today’s get-togethers firstly have the children as the focus point and of course, most of the discussions revolve around kids and their activities :).

Life is indeed wonderful. Instead of analyzing why we are doing this and how this is happening, these moments are just meant to be cherished. If a change is happening, then one must just let it happen and flow with the tide. Every moment in life is different and each brings with it, its own share of happiness.

So, here’s to the new battery of the baby brigade and cheers to all the happy parents for having such wonderful children.

Calypso Cricket is back

Calypso Cricket is back – to its very best. The West Indies won the ICC Championship final today against England after being in a situation, where most teams would have happily given up. This one-dayer will go down as one of the best that I have ever seen. Truly, the West Indies deserved to be the winners – they never gave up, they fought till the very end and well, fortune favors the brave.

It is quite hard to comprehend this win. This is the same West Indies team that lost 7 tests out of 8 to the same English team. The Windies managed to draw the only other test because one man Brian Lara decided to score all the runs himself and ended up at 400 not out ! That apart, the Windies had looked a pale shadow of their former selves. In fact, some fans were so frustrated with the team that some thought that the only teams that they could defeat were Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and the other minnows. I guess, most of these fans would be happily eating their words and thoughts now.

Truly, this win must rank among the very best in one-day cricket. Never before has a team looked so out of sorts before the beginning of a championship and then gone on to win the tournament. The Windies have done exactly that and they did it in style too. Every member of the team contributed and today must have been just the perfect icing on their cake. Two virtually unknown players, Brown & Bradshaw came together when the Windies were staring down the barrel at 147/8 and around 71 more runs to go. It was virtually an impossible situation – however, these young blokes thought otherwise. They first negotiated the 2 dangerous bowlers, Harminson and Flintoff, slowly trickling the singles. Once they got some momentum going, they started to unleash some strokes and brought the Windies home. What is noteworthy about the win is that the last hour or so was played in almost total darkness and when the Windies were offered the light at 180 odd, they refused it. I guess, they were seeing the cricket ball as big as a football then. In the end, they managed to keep their cool and won handsomely.

Teams all over the world can take a lesson or two out of this win. Firstly, you are only as good as your last game. The Windies, after this win, must truly have their tails up and as Lara said, this might be the beginning of a new chapter. Secondly, you never give up in cricket, because cricket is indeed a game of glorious uncertainties.

In the end, I definitely must add this – although Windies won the game, England did have some wonderful moments too. The match was closely and evenly fought and in the end, the better team won. All in all, the game of cricket was the winner today. Matches such as these are hard to come and so, it is indeed a wonderful cricketing moment to cherish.

Cheers,
Thyaga

First Steps in the MBA Class

Our MBA classes at the Leavey School of Business in Santa Clara University started off this week and well, it has been quite hectic indeed. We have signed up for 2 courses this quarter – Accounting Basics and a Management Course on Organizational Behavior. Both the courses are held 2 times a week, on Mondays and Wednesdays.

The first days of the classes have been nothing short of an eye-opener for us in many ways. The first thing that we observed about MBA classes is that it is far different from the traditional Engineering classes that we went through at IIT, KGP. The professor doesn’t come to the class and teach you ‘What are Assets’, ‘What are Liabilities’ etc. You are expected to read that as part of your homework. However, during the classes, the professor will prick your brains so that you can apply what you learnt in a current business context. For example, we were made to go through the HP annual balance sheet and apply our knowledge of assets/liabilities to figure out whether it is worth investing the dollars in HP or not.

Another interesting difference is the relevance of the MBA courses to the world around you. The course textbooks don’t talk of something that happened 10 years ago (our Engineering Books still do) – instead, they talk about the Enrons and the MCIs, the Disneys and the Eisners, the Southwests and the Jet Blues of the world. In other words, it really makes you aware of the business happenings around the world. I really find this aspect fascinating.

The method/medium of teaching in this country is very different too. Professors do not really care whether you are coming into the class or not. According to them, they know that they are good and so, if we do not come to the class, it is our loss and not theirs ! Of course, the fact that you are paying so much of money for the classes should be motivation enough to come to the classes, but then that is another point.

The MBA classes are also very discussion oriented. As I said before, the professor does not come into the class and start writing anything on the board. On the other hand, we are shown movies about a particular company/person and then there is a detailed analysis of why/how the company succeeded (or did not succeed).

Last but not the least, the MBA classes lay a lot of stress on assignments and homeworks. Most of these homeworks actually help you to be prepared for the next day’s classes. As you might have already understood, it helps to know “What are assets” before one starts looking at a balance sheet – more so for people, who have only dealt with Compilers and Interpreters :).

These are early days for us in the MBA classes – but one thing is for sure. They are definitely going to be very different from what we have faced before and of course, they are going to be very very challenging.

Till then !

Book reading experience – Fast & Furious

Today, we had gone to Barnes & Nobles bookstore where Susmita had to buy a really ‘core’ technical book about I64 bit architecture and the Linux Kernel. Looking at the book, one cannot say that Susmita is going for her MBA – that looks more like a PhD in Computer Science book to me 🙂 – anyway, she loves technical stuff and ‘me just ish too non technicaal amigo – hee hee hee’.

Anyway, during the time when Susmita was reading the book and figuring out what she wanted, I managed to safely escape to the ‘Management/Marketing’ book segment. There is this book called ‘Who moved my Cheese’ by Spencer Johnson, a very well-known author of management books. This book has been the talk of the town and well, as every publisher would like you to know, it is indeed a best-seller.

So, I took upon the opportunity to read this book, with a rather strange and curious title. Believe it or not, once I started reading, I didn’t want to put it down. The book is good because it tells you the simple concepts in life through the means of a story. [I won’t reveal the story, else you would never read the book]. It is short and sweet and best of all, I read it at a fast and furious pace and so, I managed to complete the book in 45 minutes. During that time, Susmita had finished evaluating the book that she wanted and we both were happy.

That brings up an interesting point regarding bookstores. In USA, the bookstores are huge in size and they encourage you to come to the bookstores and “read” books and not only buy books. In fact, they have a built-in cafe, which serves coffee and sandwiches, just in case you feel tired and hungry after reading. There are tables and chairs for the academic minded too – specially useful for people preparing for a career entrance exams such as GRE, GMAT etc. That begs the question – when can we see something like this coming to India ? – I think a concept such as this would be useful, because a lot of people in India cannot afford to buy books, but they are definitely willing to learn. Again, it is not that once you start giving away these services, the sales are going to go down. Refer to my previous Blog on ‘Free Services and Profit’ – I think, there is indeed a potential market there – any volunteers ? 🙂

— Thyaga

Give away for FREE and make Profit

I have noticed that there has been a new direction in Internet marketing these days. There are quite a few people who are offering portions of their services/products for FREE, hoping that people will indeed buy their complete services/products. This is a type of self-marketing which is kind of proving effective nowadays.

I first came to know about this when the CEO of my company, Pran, mentioned about his experience of reading the latest book by Dan Gilmor, online. He also has Blogged this – so, you can read how useful or effective his experience of reading it online was. The big idea here is that you will get hooked onto the book and ultimately go and buy the book yourself from the store.

I came across a second such instance, when Businessweek mentioned how a new Music group, instead of tying with the Big Labels, has gone on and put their songs online – FREE for download. Once again, the idea is that once the songs are downloaded and you listen to them and like them, you will end up buying the CD. By the look of it, it looks like the gimmick is indeed working.

Don’t you think this is interesting ? – if you know of any other such intances, please feel FREE 🙂 to send me your emails or if you would like, you could enter your comments below too.

— Thyaga

Business School Orientation

Last week, Santa Clara’s Leavey School of Business had its orientation program for the new students joining this Fall. This was a 2 day affair, starting at 5:00 in the evening and ending at 9:00 in the night. Of course, this also included dinner, drinks, apetizers and desserts. Some of the events were interesting and so, are worth noting down:

  1. Introduction by the Dean – The program began with a welcome speech by the Dean of Leavey School, Barry Posner. The speech was short, sweet and filled with interesting anecdotes. It left no one in doubt that Barry is an excellent speaker.
  2. Group Games – On the 1st day of the program, the students were divided into multiple groups (based on the table where you were sitting) and taken outside in the campus lawns for some Group Games. These games were conducted by a professional organization and each group was placed under the charge of one person from this organization. There were 4 games that were played, each teaching us different aspects of team-building and organizational skills. It also gave us a good opportunity to interact with the fellow-students in an informal way. (during the games, people were at their rebellious best :)).
  3. Group Presentation – Immediately, after the games, we had to conduct a group presentation that highlighted all the lessons of leadership that we had learnt. The idea was to make the presentation highly energetic, so that people did not doze off. We were given 10 minutes to prepare for the 3 minute presentation. I already figured out who all are going to be good in marketing in the future.
  4. Professor’s Panel Session – This was held on the 2nd day. Professors from the various deparments, such as Accounting, Finance, OMIS, Economics, Managment and Marketing gave a brief introduction of their Departments respectively and also, gave a brief introduction to the type of assignments and teaching curriculum followed in these Departments. Some of them also gave some tips for studying – however, it needs to be seen how many of us actually follow these tips.
  5. Workshops – These were held immediately after the Professor’s Panel Session. There were 3 workshops, which were held twice parallely. In short, you could attend only 2 workshops on that day. The workshops were on “Building Team Building Skills”, “What can SCU do for you”, “Career Management in SCU”. I went for the first 2 and well, the second one was quite boring :(.
  6. Network Group Signup – The biggest attraction of any B-school is the various Networking groups that are present. Leavey School also has a bunch of them such as Toastmaster, Women In Business, Athletics Networking Group, Enterpreur Networking Group etc. I signed up for some of them – I was particularly interested in the Athletics one, primarily because they have introduced Cricket as one of the games recently.
  7. Raffle – During the course of the 2 days, we were given Raffle tickets after the completion of every activity, such as games completion, attending a workshop, signing up for a Networking group etc. As such, I ended up with around 8 Raffle tickets. Susmita also ended with an almost equal number. However, our luck was not to shine when they called out the various Raffle numbers :(.

Overall, it was fun and it gave us an opportunity to meet with some of our fellow students. Of course, we were quite tired at the end of it all – but I guess the excitement of going back to school (!) helped to forget all that.

Here’s to a new chapter in our lives.

Cheers !