Sunday, January 15, 2017

Swipe Card machines are a dead technology which will kill retailers

The technology behind Swipe card machines, is older than the internet dialup connections themselves.

It requires a card to touch a terminal, then the device needs to dial up to a server, then the server needs to carry out AAA(Authentication, Authorisation and Accounting) and then send a response back to the swipe card machine.

Then there is the problem of settlement, which needs to be done everyday, for the statement to be generated at the bank's end.

The next problem, is that the bank usually is different from the merchant's bank, which means that there will be another delay in terms of transferring the money from the swipe card POS bank to the merchant's bank.

Next the merchant needs to manually enter all the settlements into the accounting system

Instead of all of this, imagine if you could just use a mobile application, which is a POS as well, with your full inventory, so that you just select your products, or the customer themselves do it through the application on the phone and then make the payment directly.
Then the mobile application, will do the settlement with the cloud server and the statement will then directly reflect in the accounting software.

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Rise of the Gold barred lizard - Mahindra Centuro

Long rides, free rides, no worries in the world about how far or where you need to go.
It started with the Vespa -LML , not these glorified shiny flash in the pants which you see today. That's when you had a puncture every quarter kilometre and thanked God that you had a stepney to back you up. It helped that the whole process of removing and fixing the tire was relatively painless.
The most fun was riding through bangalore without a care in the world, till you see one of those cops hiding around the centre of the road, hungry for hafta, because they see the license plate which youis defintiely from out of town.
Oh, a little break, my darling comes ccalling.
So yes, that's Bangalore for you, cops always hungry, we with our pockets full.
There, that stupid electronic church bell, with it's synthetic sound. Give me the old gong any day, even just a simple rail with a metal rod.
The Vespa was fun, but there was always the issues of punctures, mainly because the wheel was so tiny.
Being geared, you could push it, but there were limits.
Like when you are riding the highway, and suddenly a big truck passes you, and then all your thoughts of stability are literally shaken out of your body and you struggle to gain control once again.
Bring in the Bullet, and two issues were immediately resolved, with one getting created.
The first was that with those big mamoth wheels, the Bullet could literally ride over anything, as long as you kept the treads real.
The second was highway riding, where you could finally ride a highway, without being shaken like a ragdoll, such as the bellary highway, which has now been choked with the new airport. The new airport is a joke by the way, first with that huge Louis Vuitton suitcase, which must be part of the reason that Louis Vuitton is not considered as a luxury brand any more.
That airport had no drinking water for taxi drivers till recently, and all the plug in points for your laptop were hidden away in god forsaken corners.

But the road was beautiful, even though Bengaluru truck drivers ride, like Pune two wheeler riders, with blatant disregard for driver or speedbreaker.
Speaking of which, how do you spot a speedbreaker on Bengaluru highways?
Bzzz. By the glass which is lying all around it, due to multiple accidents by drivers who didn't even know of their existence.

The third reason why the Bullet failed, is the ability to suddenly conk out of fuel, without you even realising it. So much so that I was stuck at a petrol pump, with a bunch of other petrolheads, trying to find out why the bike wasn't starting, till finally, sheepishly, we found out that there was no fuel in the tank, all the time we were at the petrol pump.

The other time, was when I rode into the heart of Koramangala, and then the fuel goes out again, where once again another dude, starts checking the bike (and me though I didn't know it) and proclaims that there was no fuel.
We then go to the nearest pump to get fuel, where this person starts talking about massages and dancing without me having any clue, till we have a cup of tea at which time my corduroy's zipper suddenly gives way, which the person obviously notices and asks me if he could touch it, which then gave me ample reason to disappear.

I have said it before, that I have nothing against dudes who like dudes, but please respect those who don't.

The Bullet was great for power and a certain sense of speed, till the Skoda Octavia's and the Qualis started blocking our highway.

That is where I realise the power of technology and frugality.
Bought myself a Mahindra Centuro, without even asking what the size of the engine was.
It had a great ride, good punch, that was enough for me.
And those gold bars in front, were enough of a design cue.
Of course, all those ads on TV talking about a burglar alarm on a bike with autolock, was enough to get the tongues wagging.
I never cared for electronics on a vehicle, as far as I know, they just mean that the vehicle breaks down more often.
And that is the one thing I can't stand. That's where the Rockstar version was for me, with great analog dials.
Even though the Centuro did actually break down, but that was because I was blocking the air filter which was under the seat.
Now who goes and puts an air filter under a seat. That's the problem of new design, it should build on the strengths of the old design and only change what didn't work in the first place.

So the electric start is great.
The fact that you can unlock the seat is great.
The key fob which looks like a car key, is great too, because it means that it doesn't scratch your phone, when it's in your pocket and that you don't need an additional key chain, which because a big deal when I lost it for a Dio I was riding, I mean I don't like key chains because they usually end up scratching the vehicle, unless it's a leather key chain, which is what my bike and car key chain is.

Imagine deciding to pick up your wife from a bus stop, and then realising you lost your key, that's the shit, because then what happens, is that you wait at the bike, then realise you don't have the key, and then go back to the bus stop to take the bus back and bring a duplicate, that's a big waste, especially when your daughter is waiting to be dropped later to meet her friends.

The power of an engine can never be easily qualified based on the size of the engine. The gold barred lizard easily makes mincemeat of the Bullet and the Pulsars, stopping short where it comes to a Benelli, but where's the comparison when you are talking about a vehicle that costs ten times as much.
And the main punch is the fact that with today's technology, even an 800CC vehicle can easily match up to a 1.6 litre engine in terms of punch and power.
And looks, the gold barred lizard has those LED eye brows which easily light up in the day, for what is the first in any bike in this category.

The lizard doesn't really need a lot of maintenance, but it does require a mechanic from Mahindra, since most of these garage guys haven't even seen most of the technology here, especially the ECU.

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Tuesday, September 06, 2016

What it means to be an artist

We have to understand, that being an artist, is the outcome of being passionate.
Just because Steve Jobs didn't invent touch screen technology, doesn't mean that he isn't the smartphone pioneer.
If an artist uses garbage to make a painting, is it that she needs to make the garbage to be considered the creator of that art?
Why is it that people don't understand that creation of an experience is so much more important than just the creation of a product which you can feel and touch.
Many artists today, including here in Goa, employ carpenters and steel workers to make their creations, but it doesn't mean that the artist is the carpenter.
The main focus has to be on the person who actually has the ability to see what is, and then envision what it could be.
There is a big difference between the Nomad Jukebox and the iPod, the main being how many people actually fit a Nomad Jukebox into their pocket everyday on their way to the train.
The passion in creation is the passion in utility and the segmentation of the user from just a user to a style icon.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Video conference, always an issue

In 2004, when we first spoke about videoconferencing over 3G, I remember snickering, that the biggest problem which will occur when someone has just finished a bath and then gets a call.
Today, that is the biggest problem with video conferencing, that the angle is wrong and that people's appearances are being compromised.

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Thursday, August 04, 2016

Mobile as a Salesperson

What is the function of a mobile today?

  1. It is a connector between people
  2. It is a creator of content
  3. It is a seller of goods and services
So that's it, the mobile is a Sales guy.

But she isn't the credit card saleswoman trying to sell you things you don't need, she waits for you to ask for something and then gets it for you.

She is resourceful and understanding.

She will not give you something which she doesn't like herself.

The mobile, is not a computer (the very comparison sends shudders down my spine)

It is not a tool to educate, to inform you, to make you a better teacher.

It is a wand, an instrument of excitement, one which creates that feeling of wonder of the world around you, because it too, roams the world everyday as you do, discovering different snippets around it and you, without you even knowing about it.

Today, the way one shops, is to ask for something, then watch as the sales person checks if it's there or not, where it mostly isn't, where then the job is to send a request down the supply chain all the way to the manufacturer, and then wait to see if there's a response from the manufacturer, by which time the consumer is already bored and either looking for a substitute or is willing to go without.

Tomorrow, you won't shop, you will just be provided what you want, when you want it.

Based on what you buy, and what other shoppers like you buy, the required product will be made available and pinging at your door, waiting for you to let it into your home.

Think of Harry Potter and all the things flying into Hogwarts Hall on their own, and you get the picture.

Mobile is the magical salesperson.

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Friday, July 22, 2016

Why Tesla's Autopilot crash is an opportunity for Tesla

It is easy to blame Tesla for starting something new, and having a death due to it.
Like a doctor being blamed for a death in his hands.
But the main issue is that if there was a GPS tracker on the trailer, this would not have happened.
So if Tesla signs up with the government to get all commercial vehicles on a tracker, as a compulsory registration option, everybody can sleep in peace.
Then, we should get similar legislation for vehicles in India.
Then the practice of driving on the fast lane, by commercial vehicles would stop.

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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Malicious Micromax ads- On phone, not the TV

Micromax phones are getting better and better in build quality and features. My Canvas Fire 4G Plus, is a testament to that.

But the evil is the ads and not just those foreigners posing on screen around the IPL matches, talking about how Micromax is ready to take on the world, especially Apple, using foreigners in their ads, rather than just Indians, because Micromax deserves to be the Make-in-India poster boy.

The real problem is the ads on the phone, and I am not just talking about ads through notifications.

I am talking about ads which pop up on your screen and when you click the close button, they try to install on your phone.

And this is after I took the phone to the Micromax service centre to remove ads.

See this:

You must be saying I am stupid, taking a picture of the phone, when I could just take a screenshot.
Yep, so there you have it.
Now, I click the X on the top right hand corner.

And what happens?

Yep, the application installs any way. Luckily I blocked Installation of apps, otherwise I would have a lot of apps.

But the issue here is that the app downloads reducing my data plan, which means that my data pack runs out quite quickly.

So here you have it, Micromax maliciously using ads to load the phone and reduce my net pack.


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Sunday, October 04, 2015

Smart Watches, from Parents to their children

A watch, is a statement, a symbol of independence, a Swiss army knife.

Hence, the concept of  a smart watch is a misnomer, especially with regards to today’s technology, where the watch is used as an appendage to the smart phone.

One inkling of the true power of the watch, is in the film Expendables III where Mel Gibson’s character is kidnapped by Sylvester Stallone’s men. He tells them “When my boys get here, you guys are in for  a lot of hurt.” They’re confused, till they realize that his watch, a normal looking analog watch, is a GPS tracker. Now, we are getting somewhere.

A watch is not for adults, since they would never replace their smart phone with it anyway.

But a watch for kids, hmm, now that’s an idea.

Kids love watches, it makes them feel like adults, like something their mom or dad wears. Today, there are already watches in the market for kids, which come with mini projectors, a baby of the Pico projectors available in some phones.

Then they want some kind of content, like cartoons and wallpapers, where the wallpaper is on the screen of the watch and the cartoons can be played through the Pico projector.

But, as a parent, what is the value of the smart watch to you?

Imagine the ability to turn on your smartphone at any time and find out where your kid really is at that point in time.

Imagine a device which lets the child contact you or your spouse or any guardian you define, in case of any emergency.

Imagine a device which stores all the relevant details such as blood group, Home Address and relevant contact numbers, in the case where an accident has happened and your child can’t communicate with emergency personnel.

So, there you have it, a smart watch which actually lets the kid call numbers programmed by the parent into his phone, via a SIM card in the phone, .

A smart watch, which lets the parent know the exact location of the child, via a GPS receiver in the watch and even if the GPS is not in range, the SIM card can be used for triangulation using GSM cell antennas.

A smart watch, where great content, like pictures, movies and music can be pre-loaded by the parent, from the operator.

While these concepts might sound space age, the technologies behind them have already been in use for over a decade.

A company called Satguide, has been producing a child phone for parents, with features like Geo Fencing, where if the child leaves the school, an alert is created and sent to the parent.

Amber Alert in USA, is a child abduction alert system, where alerts are issued by  authorities, using radio, television, road signs and wireless technology even through Google maps,Bing and Facebook, to broadcast information regarding serious abductions to the public based on the following criteria:

  1. Law enforcement must confirm that an abduction has taken place.

  2. The child must be at risk of serious injury or death.

  3. There must be sufficient descriptive information of child, captor, or captor's vehicle to issue an alert.

  4. The child must be under 18 years of age.

Now in India, there is an Amber Alert GPS device which alerts you towards the movement of your child.

For Pico projection, there are phones like the iBall Projector Andi 4a which even comes with its own tripod stand, to allow you to project images onto a screen.

For transferring content from an online dashboard, there is a technology called SyncML Device Synchronisation and Device Management, which lets you monitor the content on a device from an online dashboard. Hence, the content on the child’s device, can be fully controlled from a dashboard either on the parent’s smart phone or computer.

So, there you have it, a device which lets the child be a Man :p

A device which lets the parent be more at peace about the safety of their child.

A device which lets the child call the parents whenever there’s a situation.

A device where the mobile operator can source and distribute content for children.

And finally, a smarter watch for children, than has ever been worn by men :p

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