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Monthly Archives: January 2009

Marketing Genius Seth Godin wrote a post today highlighting some points answering the rather trivial but highly engaging question “What is school for?”. I’ll give my take on the points he makes in his post. First, let me tell you that within a week, I’ll change to my third University in two years. Yes, I hate higher education, at least the way it is modelled right now. I think paying astronomically high fees for little valued education in this economy to get a somewhat decent job, just doesn’t add up. Going back to Godin’s post, here is what I think. 

1. Become an informed citizen 
2. Be able to read for pleasure
4. Do well on standardized tests
5. Homogenize soceity, at least a bit
6. Pasteurize out dangerous ideas
7. Give kids something to do while parents work
8. Teach future citizens how to conform
9. Teach future citizens how to desire
10. Build social fabric
14. Help people interesting or productive
15. Defang the prolefariat
16. Establish a floor below which a typical person is unlikely to fall
18. Make sure kids learn to exercise, eat right and avoid common health problems
19. Teach future citizens to obey authority
21. Increase appreciation for art and culture
22. Teach creativity and problem solving
23. Minimize public spelling mistakes 
24. Increase emotional intelligence
25. Decrease crime by teaching civics and ethics
27. Make sure the sports teams have enough players 

I can say that these points, at least most of them, were covered, partially or in full before I began my tertiary education. But while most developed countries have free schooling till then, I attended a private school in India, and I’m sure my parents spent a shitload for those 16 years of education. 

12. Generate future scientists who will advance medicine and technology
17. Find and celebrate prodigies, geniuses and the gifted

Frankly, these are only reasons to even consider tertiary education. Unless you are really smart, which will likely mean you’ll be doing some research, tertiary education and the cost associated with it is almost useless. 

3. Be trained in the rudimentary skills necessary for employment
11. Create leaders who help us compete on a world stage
13. Learn for the sake of learning
20. Teach future employees to do the same
26. Increase understanding of a well lived life

To be frank, none of these have anything to do with a school. Most employers want experience (source: the 200 firms I sent my resume to over the summer). A prototype software will increase your chances of getting a job more than a graduate degree. I can’t possibly relate how schools and leaders are related. The world has seen some extraordinary leaders who’ve never been to school, the leaders before the modern education system was established. I don’t think anyone should learn for the sake of learning, cause if you’re doing something for 10+ years just for the sake of it and not enjoy it, then you won’t possibly live a well lived life. And I’m sure my grandfather, an uneducated farmer lived a well lived life, and he knew it. 

So if you’re spending a huge amount of money on schooling or trying to get into the highest ranked school, think again. Schools, more often than not try to chain you down. Curb your freedom and creativity. I’d suggest try and get a free ride, or the highest amount of scholarship you can. Try to take an internship while at school and start working on your own side projects. Try to stand out from the crowd and start doing what you want instead of what the University has to offer. What do you think?

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I’ve been programming seriously since 4 years, but the first language I ever learnt was HTML about 8 years ago. I learned it over a couple of weeks, and became really good at it. So obviously, people wanted me to create websites for them. At that point I didn’t mind having a few projects on the side, but there was one thing I couldn’t do. I was really good at coding the page in HTML, but an utter failer when it came to designing stuff in PhotoShop or focusing on UX or any sort of aesthetics. 

 

I think that’s a problem a lot of programmers face. They can design the backend of a system effortlessly, but once they start working on the design or the aesthetics, they’re dumbfounded. But I’ve always been fascinated by aesthetics of software. I follow a lot of design blogs and try to learn design. And I think good programmers can learn design, because even if they’re not good with visual aesthetics, they can churn out aesthetic flawless code. So I’d suggest you fire up your favorite image editting software, get some advice/motivation from this Hacker News thread and start designing. I’ll keep you posted on my design adventures, are you starting yours?

I started my college education in India, but soon realised that if I ever wanted to get serious about the startup scene I had to move somewhere else. The ideal place to move would’ve been Berkeley or Palo Alto, but I chose Melbourne. The reason is simple, Melbourne hasn’t yet made it as a startup capital, but still the entrepreneur community in Melbourne is very happening, atleast that’s what I think after staying here for almost a year and visiting some entrepreneur meetups. The thing is, for a 20 year old, it’s hard to start a startup anywhere on Earth. People don’t take you seriously, you’re just starting out and you have no mentors and hence, no contacts in the industry. 

 

I don’t care about people not people not taking me seriously, because at this point all I need for my code to do the talking. I also think that I’m not just starting out anymore, I’m 20 now, and I’ve got enough coding experience to venture out into the startup world. But the only point of concern is that I’ve not got a mentor. So far, everyone who I admire in the field of either programming or entrepreneurship, can’t stress the importance of having a mentor. But I think mentorship is overrated. Seriously, no one wants to waste their time mentoring young kids, and the ones that do, charge money for mentoring. The concept of mentorship is now seen as a business model. There have been instances when entrepreneurs have given me their business cards, and I have tried to contact them, but they’ve not even replied. I think the more time you waste trying to find a mentor, thats time you don’t spend developing your software/brand/company. And hence, I think mentorship is no more required. The only thing you need is contacts. And you can make contacts in your industry easily by just going to networking events. That’s where melbourne rocks. We’ve got Melbourne Twitter Underground Brigade, Silicon Beach Melbourne Drinks, Mobile Mondays, Social Media Breakfast, The Churchill Club, and many many more. So don’t feel low if you have no mentors, I think you can do just fine without them. What do you think?

There have been a lot of comments about Arrington or Scoble recently, about how they’re not good journalists and how they’re misusing their authority. As someone who has been following a lot of mainstream blogs since quite some time, this is my opinion. I love mainstream blogs. They are there so that I can get my news from a single source rather than search through hundreds of thousands of blogs. It’s like a human filter that brings the best news to me. And generally, because they’re an authority in a niche, they are the ones to break news or get insider tips. Some of them even live blog certain tech events and bring real time news to my reader. You cannot beat that. And Arrington and others have worked days and nights to get their blogs up there. They have made sure they attend every event, network with every startup, break every story and spend 20 hours a day blogging whereas there are a million other blogs which just re-publish whatever mainstream bloggers write and thrive on it. So they deserve the authority they have, cause they work hard for the breaking the news. 

 

But thats where it stops. They only provide better news. Raw facts, fast. You may not agree with their opinions. And everyone can have an opinion about any news story. So, opinions are best found elsewhere. Even more analytical articles are better to be found elsewhere. Because there are always smarter people elsewhere with their expert opinions. So even though TechCrunch can tell me about the latest startup launch, I don’t trust them about whether it’s good or bad. I check it out myself, I read the startup’s blog, I see a demo, I read through founder bio’s and their blogs. This gives me the complete picture. I see whether the community is liking the software, what first reviews are like, and then make my own decisions. And that’s why I read TechCrunch before I read Hacker News. Get the news, before forming an opinion. 

 

So, I don’t mix up news with views. I highly regard Mashable, TechCrunch and other blogs as news breakers. But I’ll still read reviews on other hackers’ blogs and then form my opinion. So people should not take mainstream blogs as absolute authorities. Neither should they take it personally if they are not featured. Arrington first wrote about “Twttr” the day it was launched, but didn’t mention “Twitter” till a year later. So take it in your stride. What do you think?

It’s that time of the year and companies have just released their Q4 results. We at TVR have collected all the data and this is our “Earnings Report” for Q4, 2008. 

Introduction
We all know that times are tough and results would be hit by it and in fact, the numbers do not paint a gloomy picture. Even though it’s a little bit better than Wall Street predicted, it’s nothing to celebrate. 

The Big Three
Google: Great at search, not great at investing. 
Net Revenues(%age change): $5.7 billion (+18%)
Net Profit(%age change): $382 (-68%)
Epic Fail: Investments in AOL and Clearwire 
2009 Focus: Android
Recession: Shut down Video, Notebook, Jaiku, relocating engineers, closing office in Austin. 

Apple: Healthier than people think
Net Revenues(%age change): $7.9 billion (+27%)
Net Profits(%age change): $1.14 billion (+26%)
Epic Fail: Steve Jobs Health and Stock Market issue (and still no Cut and Paste)
2009: Simple product line 
Recession: Recession-proof 

Microsoft: Looking out of better Windows
Net Revenues(%age change): $16.6 billion(+2%)
Net Profits(%age change): $4.17 billion(-11%)
Epic Fail: Yahoo takeover bid
2009: Windows 7
Recession: 5000 laid off

Recession Hits Others… 
Digg has decided to cut 10% of their staff as growth is beginning to flatten. EA has laid off hundreds at Black Box bringing their grand total to over a thousand people laid off. Millions others are downsizing, the TechCrunch Layoff Tracker officially stands at about 200,000. 

Sources
TechCrunch 
Apple2.0
Kotaku
Wired

Conclusion:
The Earnings Report is meant to provide you with the summary of all the numbers you need while removing all the confusion. We really hope this helped. We’d love to hear feedback, if we’ve missed something or need to remove something.  

2009 – The best year of our lives. Yes, it’s here. It’s been here for a while now. The false hope generated by new year’s resolutions is gone. The economy is free falling into depths not before seen. Millions are losing their jobs, companies are shutting their doors and debt is increasing many folds over. I can only comment from my perspective. I study at one of the most prestigious universities in the world and I pay US$40,000 just for one year of tuition and boarding fees. That’s astronomically high, especially for someone who is 20. I tried to get a job recently, but there were no openings. None. Zero. Every company is downsizing. Within 3 weeks, I had sent my resume to hundreds of employers with just a handful of them courteous enough to reply (I don’t blame the others, they’re cutting down costs) and point out why they couldn’t hire me. My government doesn’t want to support me. It seems the pile of debt is going to be endless. And I’m not trying to say I’m the only one in this situation. It’s everyone around you and their uncles. So how is this going to be the best year of our lives?

 

It’s simple, it’ll provide you with time to work on something you’re passionate about. No more dead end job, no more stupid classes with idiotic professors. Work on what you love. I don’t care if its gardening or modelling or programming or whatever. Start a blog about it. Gain some skills in that field. Start consulting in that field. Start your own business in that field. Bootstrap it. Nurture it for a year. Fail a couple of times and then develop the courage to stand up again. Hustle your ass off on something you absolutely adore. Something that gives you immense pleasure when you do it. It calms you down, you’ll keep on doing it even if you don’t get paid. And eventually, you’ll get good, really good at it. That’s it. Turn 2009 into the best year of your life. Stop wasting time, “stop watching fucking lost“, work harder, churn out 20 hour days on something you’re really really passionate about. Some decisions will be hard to make. Some decisions would not be approved by people around you. But please stop living based on other people’s perception of yourself. Live your dream

 

The first thing you need to do is find your passion. It can be anything. You have to be able to believe in yourself that you can make a living based on that thing. You have to believe that you can do that thing for the rest of your life. And that’s it. That’s something you’re passionate about. Step 2, blog about it. Share your passion with the world. Take pictures and videos and send out tweets. Show the world what your passion is and take pride in it. You don’t have to be a genius to blog, even I have started blogging just recently. Just do it. Next, take some time everyday to improve your passion. Correction, spend all of your free time on your passion. Hard work is quintessential to success. Don’t procrastinate or slob. Give it your 100%. Work on it days and nights. Stop watching TV. Find out your time sinks and work around them. Focus completely on your passion. 

 

And that’s it. The magical formula. Given that there are 342 more days in the current year and you follow the same routine everyday, I bet this will be your best year ever. I’m not a multi-billion dollar entrepreneur or a self-development guru. I’m just a 20 year old student who is passionate about hactivism and technology entrepreneurship. I started this blog, I’m transferring to a less prestigious university offering me a full ride and I’m working on my first startup. And this makes sense to me in order to get closer to my dreams. If you want you can dismiss my claims as childish and naive or you can join me and we’ll work through the best year of our lives together. What say?

I’m no Apple fanboy. Infact, I even sold off my iPod. Not to say that I hate Apple. They make remarkable products with extraordinary GUI and they are constantly revolutionizing the tech sector, pushing new boudries. Like when they launched the iPhone. Though the iPhone does have it’s fair share of shortcomings, it’s application distribution platform, the AppStore is great for developers like me. You can code up an app within a couple of weeks, push it into the market, see if it makes it, or start working on another app. It cannot be more rewarding than that. And small time developers who coded apps in their spare time are earning hundreds of dollars every hour. So iPhone development is one thing I wanted to get into as soon as possible. 

 

After Apple removed the NDA, it became easier to work on the iPhone SDK but its still elusive. My university’s library only has one book on iPhone development (currently borrowed, I think it’ll always be in demand) and most of the classes we’re working on at university or at work usually focus on Windows or Linux based development. So, when I started searching for a reliable source to learn iPhone development considering that I was completely new to Mac programming, there were few and far between. But, the holy grail of all tech universities came to my rescue. 

 

Stanford introduced a new class called “CS193P: iPhone Application Development” last year. I think it’s the best source to learn especially for new programmer getting into Mac development because it is aimed at students, Stanford students nonetheless. I checked out some of the slides, and I think it’s the best thing I can get to a good book, to teach myself iPhone development. Even the applications that the current batch developed as a part of their final project seem professional and interesting. And the best part, all of the lecture notes are freely available. Starting tommorrow, I’m beginning CS193P from Week 1, are you with me?

As a fellow who is quite late to the whole blogging and social media scene, I have a lot of catching up to do. But I have been following a lot of blogs since long and one thing essential to success is networking. So I thought I’d give it a shot as Melbourne has loads of networking events for just about anything, ranging from entrepreneurial Silicon Beach drinks to Twitter user meet-ups. So I started attending all of these events just to meet new people. Today, I went to the Melbourne Twitter Underground Brigade. It’s a fabulous event and I think it’s a must attend for everyone who uses Twitter to attend. Special shoutout to the organisers and Michael Specht

 

Being my first event, and me being only 20, I didn’t have much to talk about with others except for computer science. Which brings me to the interesting part of the meet up. For the first half of the event, I sat down with computer science intellectuals with Ph.D.s and years of experience. All of them had one thing is common, although they had great paying jobs, it wasn’t what they wanted to do. They all wanted to work on something they felt passionate about. And that they did, on the side, since years. They all were working on pet projects, which they planned to launch “soon”. They were re-coding it, optimizing it, pythonizing it, and testing it. None of them had launched their product yet. But for the other half of the event, I was sitting with computer science newbies, who knew bare bones of HTML and were just out of university. Yet, they had launched their third company. Their plan was simple: they came up with the idea, outsourced the development, launched the prototype and interated with changes and improvements. And they’re doing millions worth of business. 

 

It was nice to see this contrasting view point of startups at the same event, though it wasn’t strictly an entrepreneurship event. As someone who is new to entrepreneurship, I found this amusing. On the one hand, I understand what the computer science people are going through. We love to ship perfect code: no bugs, full integration and scalable. We inherently like perfection, but it’ll take us months to churn out that perfect application. I think we keep on developing software and adding features for the fear of failure. A lot of people, especially people new to entrepreneurship, fear failure, the humilation that comes with it. Which is where rapid prototyping seems so tempting. Failure is an integral part of it, but the point is to learn quickly from failure, fix it fast and do it all over again and again. Therefore, for a startup, getting the product out of the door is half the battle won. I’ll always be prototyping my code, what do you suggest? Perfect Shipments or Rapid Prototyping?