Saturday, November 22, 2014

My Story of Light

The Sun has spoiled us.
It makes us believe that we need to look without, for the light that lies within.
Finding my own light took its' time, but the journey is its' own reward.
One recurring thought I always had, was that I was different, that I would make the world a better place.
Born in Dubai, I couldn't understand why we Indians were treated differently from the Arabs, almost ill-treated. My one attempt to save an Indian kid from torture, lead to me almost being choked to death.
In school, I was mediocre, never good at studies nor great at sports.
The view point which others had of me, never really bothered me, for I thought the problem was with them.
I failed many times from school, to college, to M.B.A. , but studies were never my forte.
The one I thing I knew how to do, from the age of 12, was to use my voice, which I first learnt to do when I started reading the Bible in church, focusing on the man snoring in front, so that all may listen to what the story was.
This led to my first time on the stage, where as luck would have it, the microphone didn't work.I got over it and over time, came to love the stage, especially when I had to learn my first Hindi dialogues as a blind man.The laughter of the crowd, became my Viagra, keeping me on the stage long after everyone else had left.
From there to theatre, where the love of the stage became a love to act and take on multiple roles, showing that the roles were merely different parts of my personality. Theatre taught me more about MBA than MBA ever did, that if you love what you do, you automatically create teams of people who focus on what they love, what they do best.
My love of the light, slowly became a way for others to see the light too, especially those in various stages of anxiety or mental trauma. After losing a friend to suicide in 2004, I started trying to seek out those who were in stress and help them out. I did that for six years, till it dawned on me that your best friend has to be yourself, that you never give up on yourself, even if others try to make you focus on them.
That's when I started working on the way I looked, finally getting rid of my glasses after 19 years and enjoying the wonder of being independent. That no matter who you worked for, the only person you should focus on, is yourself.
I had quit the corporate life and decided to work on the rural state of Goa, bringing my positivity to everything I did. Of course, that meant that I would take risks nobody else would, but that ensured that I kept raking more soil and planting more seeds, to ensure that every new idea I had, grew with someone else.
That's my story of light thus far, and it could be yours, if you believe that the journey is its' own reward.

For the Story of Light in Goa, click here. 

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Monday, November 10, 2014

The Internet of Things and what it means to architects and residents

The simplest kind of automation device, is a motion sensor connected to a light bulb. When a person trips the sensor, the light comes on for a specified interval.

When we were working on robotic vacuum cleaners, the one concept was, how could we use the same robotic vacuum cleaner as a robot for survelliance.

It is all quite simple, all you need is a 3G enabled robot which is directly streaming video from a camera embedded in the robot.

So this is one example of how equipment bought for cleaning, can be used for surveilliance.

The next is the concept of interlinked CCTVs, where multiple CCTVs can be connected to one central room, where any disturbances, can be viewed and the immediate notifications sent out.

From here, think of the event linked interlinked CCTV, where multiple CCTVs from 10 different houses are connected to motion and light sensors, hence only when someone trips the motion sensor literally, the CCTV lights up. This ensures that the security person only focusses where actual disturbances have occured.

Now the problem, for most architects, is feedback, like due to a certain design,
  • How is the WiFi coverage through out the house?
  • What is the average amount of light falling in the key areas in the house.
  • How is the water consumption, is it affecting the water table for the entire community.
  • What is the amount of sunlight currently falling on the property, is it enough to take the property off the grid?
This, for me, is the beauty of the Internet of things, since  little data collected from every device, will be enough for architects and designers in the area, to better their designs and make them more sustainable, more one with the environment.

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Architects, Artists and Authors suck at Marketing

Been for a few of these literature festivals here in Goa.

What surprises me, is that the authors in their discussions, are so focussed on the genre and technique of their writing, they have actually forgotten who is it that they write for. It worries me as a form of self-censorship, that they fail to realise what it is , that their readers seek. Hence, they compare themselves constantly with other authors, and create a vicious circle which actually prevents the connect with the reader happening, which should be their only concern.

The architect, has created such a tight club of architects, that it is just about self congratulations, rather than actual growth.

Maybe it's the feedback, that they just don't get enough feedback from their audience, to actually understand what is it, that the market wants and needs.

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The Amazon Kindle won't work in the hinterland

I liked the premise that the Amazon Kindle White (whatever!) will actually work in rural India.

Bollocks! Because people can't read to a large extent, much less read English.

The only thing which has worked for India, has been TV, because it is just about body language and spoken language.

If the Kindle has to work in India, it has to focus on short videos more than just text.

Or hire a guy to actually read text to people around :P

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Saturday, November 08, 2014

Building a mobile application : Going from Android to Apple

Every one thinks that it's a no brainer to build a mobile application.

That you just come up with the idea and voila! you have an application in a week.

It's like selling a product to an individual, versus selling a product to the government.

In the case of the individual, all that matters is merit, where you just convince the one individual.

In the case of the government, you have to convince an entire group of at least five people before you get an approval and then the payment.

Similarly, to build a mobile application, is much simpler and easier in Android, because all you do is that you first launch a beta application, give it to a lot of people to try out, they like it, they give feedback, then you publish the application.

Of course, being so easy to publish, means that you get a lot of competition, regardless of the type of application.

And that's the fun part, the survival of the fittest, that you need to really work hard to make your application unique, since the barrier to entry is so low.

The main differentiator has to be content. Think of content like a book. Hence, if you have enough content to fill a Reader's Digest magazine, it's a great start to building a lovely application.

So after say a month of seeing what your friends think of the application, you then release it to the public for a period of one month, to analyze the response and feedback.

If you are honest with the feedback and you quickly incorporate this feedback in your application, then you should publish it again, with the update, to see if you can actually receive a sharp rise in number of downloads.

The first people who should download your application, should be your mum and dad. If you can make it really simple for them to use and understand, then it's the first part of the hurdle which you have just covered.

The point of the Android application, must be all about getting the basic usability and functionality correct.

Once you have worked out basic functionality, then your focus in building an Apple application is all about the Wow factor, about making something really unique to the application, which is over and above the typical call of duty.

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Friday, November 07, 2014

Internet and MMS Settings for Android phones on Vodafone

Five years, after my post on settings for Windows Phones , I now realise, that the same issue is back again with Android phones.

The first question today is "How do I get Internet on my phone?"

So here are the ways you can set your Android phone for internet

Go to Settings -> More -> Mobile Networks
Then click on Access Point Names
Once you reach there, click on the + icon to add settings

Now you just do this:

Name: VMC
Proxy: Not set
Port: Not set
Username: Not set
Password: not set
MMSC: Not set
MMS Proxy: Not set
MMS Port: Not set
MMC: 404
MNC: 27
Authentication Type: None
APN Type: Default
APN Protocol: IPv4
APN Roaming Protocol: IPv4
Bearer: Unspecified
MVNO Type: None

Now you do the settings for MMS:

Name: Vodafone MMS
APN: portalnmms
Proxy: Not set
Port: Not set
Username: Not set
Password: not set
MMS Proxy:
MMS Port: 9401
MMC: 404
MNC: 27
Authentication Type: None
APN Type: mms
APN Protocol: IPv4
APN Roaming Protocol: IPv4
Bearer: Unspecified
MVNO Type: None

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The 20 second video is going to be Epic!

After a lot of trials at marketing in the rural area called Goa, I have come to the understanding that:
  • Websites don't really work here, because the local Goan doesn't use anything beyond his cellphone and the typical visitor to Goa from urban India or Europe, is using a big screen, so right there is the point that we need to have a mobile and a PC website if we want to reach anyone.
  • Content is non-existent, I mean businesses don't even have their logos with them.
  • The only thing which seems to excite anyone, is the video, with people in Goa watching videos of people crashing into things, which has to be small, since the bandwidth in Goa is really poor.
  • While the Europeans are watching their favourite TV serial.
Hence, in conclusion, the only format which is viewable and hence reaches the maximum audience in the world, is the 20 second video.

You want samples, I got loads ... here you go

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Thursday, November 06, 2014

Mobile Marketing: It is all about building your network of loyal and enthusiastic fans!

People have been approaching Mobile Marketing in various ways.

My approach to mobile marketing has been simple, just keep collecting data on the user in the most communicative way possible.

For example, the simplest way to get a mobile response to your hoarding or video or advertisement, is to use a missed call alert, where the fan just gives you a missed call, and voila! you now have a database of numbers who have asked to receive information regarding you, your product and your establishment.

The next approach, is to then use mobile websites, to collect information about the kind of mobile phones the fan is using. This helps you in then designing the right kind of application which will most adequately fulfil your fan's needs.

Based on this, you can then get an accurate idea of what would be the best kind of PC website which they would like, and here to focus on getting data, mainly the email address of your fan.

The simplest thing about a good website, is making sure that you are not blocked(blocking bot script) from Google searching your website, that is the worst experience you can give your fan.

Email newsletters, still remains the most effective method of informing fans about the latest happenings on your website as well as in your company.

Once you have this, you can then start collecting their postal addresses, for the purpose of sending them amazing memorabilia about your brand like calendars and key chains.

These are small efforts, but really effective in building the connect with your fan.

Of course, after all this is done, then comes the Holy Grail of mobile marketing, the mobile application.

Because, once the fan has downloaded your mobile application, without any hanging issues, this fan will be hooked to your company and product for life.

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Big Data, and why Mobile applications and Infrastructure have to be a big part of it!

The problem with the typical perception of Big Data on mobile phones, is that it is only about invading one's privacy, as shown in the Etisalat scam where telecom surveillance software was installed on Blackberry phones as a part of their regular update in 2010 and the Xiaomi Mi5 scandal where the Indian Airforce banned use of these phones by their personnel.

The truth is, that Big Data doesn't have to be about privacy at all.

If the basic etiquette followed, is that phone numbers and names are not collected, then we can see sufficient use cases where good mobile applications, can be used as a check on actual infrastructure of huge countries like India and Russia.

For example, a simple pothole detector application, used effectively, may be used to actually help in identifying traffic flow and areas of congestion.

Another great use-case, is the school bus tracking system currently in place in various parts of the country.

Data collected over a period of three years, is enough to help the police identify periods of traffic congestion and then use this data to pre-empt periods of traffic congestion.

For example, holidays like Diwali and Ganesh, create huge traffic situations in coastal belts like Goa's Baga region, hence a pre-emptive warning, would ensure that the police take relevant steps to reduce and co-ordinate the same.

Analysis of density of specific age-groups, can be used by relevant FMCG brands, to target these age-groups using events focussed around these locations at the relevant time.

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Sunday, November 02, 2014

Why I do what I do

I think the first question I get asked all the time, is "You're a telecom engineer who has worked in the major cities, so why are you in Goa carrying out marketing?"

The answer is simple.
From the time that the discovery was made that the Earth is round, Man has been under the assumption that there is nothing more to be invented or found.

But, I have seen that there is definitely more to the Matrix than meets the eye.

When I worked in Mobile software in 2004, my first question was "Why can't we make something simple for my mum or dad to use?". The answer for that was User Experience and User Interface development.

When I joined Digital advertising, in 2007, my second question was "How can media be enriched using the mobile platform?". That answer was the Mobile Application.

When I worked in Digital mapping in 2009, my question was "How can devices generate more data around location?" . That answer was Big Data.

When I worked in Automation, my question was "why can't we control our robot using a mobile phone?" . That answer lead to the Internet of Things.

When I worked in developing a company in rural Goa, my question "why can't we popularise our company using the internet." That lead to Social Media Marketing.

When I worked in publishing, the question "How do I make media more locally relevant?" That lead to Social Local Mobile applications or SoLoMo.

So what did this mobile engineer do?
He started working to build platforms, which only he could build, because nothing was just marketing or just technology or just design any more.

First it was about making mobile software user friendly, then about putting online media on the mobile, then about using data from phones to build infrastructure, making homes more online savvy and now making rural content accessible digitally.

Finally, it was all about building digital media.

It is a potent cocktail of them all.

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