Friday, March 14, 2014

Minimalist Approach has Advantages.

When you move to a different town, as we did recently by moving to the Seattle area, an important realization hits you: You are indeed able to live in a minimalist manner, out of suitcases, so to speak. And, life is a lot simpler!

Minimalist approach has other advantages.

14 March 2014: Doodle for Google
Take the Google front page, for example. This simple front page has been the gateway for many people for their searches and for the diurnal goodies that Google itself leads you to: Today, it is about Doodle for Google, a scheme which invites young artists — Grades K-12 — to submit their doodles ...

The iPhone 5S.
Or, many of the Apple products.

Who would have thought that the iPod, iPhone and the iPad would take the world by storm? They have done so because of the simplicity inherent in them. Even though Android smartphones seem to have surpassed the iPhones in market share, there is still a certain aesthetic beauty about these iDevices.

The upshot? I now have an increased respect for minimalist anything.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

(An Almost) Perfect Parking Experience in Oakland, California.


Parkmobile
The smart way to park.
Scrambling for change before driving to a different location where you have to allow for parking has been a painful phenomenon. Until recently, that is.

I'm not talking about using a credit card to pay for the parking at a curb; this method, while definitely better than scrambling for change, doesn't come close in convenience. What if you need to extend the parking duration? Do you have to call the toll free number, and get into voice-mail jail? Pain.

Enter Parkmobile.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Chromecast, an Example of a Well-Productized Device.

The Chromecast Device.
Within minutes of unpacking the Chromecast device, you can see it working beautifully on your HDMI-equipped TV, getting controlled by your iPhone or iPad1! No reading manuals, nothing.

Thanks, Google!

You notice that any TV with an HDMI input, the Chromecast, and your iPhone or iPad work seamlessly.

Suddenly, Google has made it possible for everyone to see that you don't have to be in a walled garden in order to have good Internet experience! Articles such as Suddenly, Google is making great hardware make a great deal of sense.

I see only a bright future for Internet-connected devices!

1Of course, it'll work with Android devices too.

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Journalistic Faux Pas, Internet style.

Journalists make every effort to report news and information correctly. However, once in a while, mistakes happen.

An example is today's on CNN.com.

The front page provides the title "Apple downgrades Tim Cook". You wonder why Apple downgraded Tim Cook. When you click on the link, however, you are taken to another web page where the title is "Apple employees downgrade Tim Cook".

Big difference.

Apple as a corporate entity is different from its constituent employees although, in many cases, the employees have a say in what Apple, the corporate entity, does or says.

In this particular case, it is a subset of Apple employees that subscribe to Glassdoor.com that have downgraded Tim Cook, and I quote:
Apple employees who reviewed their CEO on Glassdoor.com say they still like Tim Cook -- just less than they liked him last year.
I'll bet that most people would have clicked on the link based on the short title on CNN.com's front page.

Is this responsible Internet journalism? Of generating more clicks to a page?

Friday, November 09, 2012

Who won in the 2013 US Presidential Election?

Of course, we all know that President Obama was reelected to the 2013 White house with a 303-206 majority in electoral votes last week. But, the real win is for two important constituencies:
  1. Education
  2. Economy (Middle class)
Education. The advent of China and India as potential economic forces in the world economy needs to be taken note of. The 21st century belongs to a properly educated workforce. Not merely in overall education emphasizing liberal arts, etc., but one that provides proper grounding in technology too. President Obama's passion towards this cause is unmistakable. Did you see such passion in the GOP camp?

Economy (The middle class). The backbone of any economy is a vibrant middle class. Particularly when the entire world is getting adjusted to a different 'economic center of gravity' than just the 'West', with both the US and the Western Europe in economic struggle, it takes some proactive effort to strengthen the middle class than a mere 'hope' that a trickle down economics is sufficient. Such trickle down thinking is tantamount to a mistaken application of the dictum 'God will take care of you'. God will take care of you, provided you do your efforts. The 'you' we are talking about is any Government, and every Government must assess what is needed to be done and enable policies to make those thing happen (and no more). 

Didn't we all learn in our childhood that God Helps Those Who Help Themselves

Let us hope that America has learnt its lesson and our political leaders will work in unison by removing the gridlock in Washington.

As Oscar award winner A R Rahman tweeted, after President Obama's reelection, Jai Ho:

Let there be victory to Education and the Economy.

Friday, October 05, 2012

A Simplistic Model of Performing Earned Value Management (EVM) in a Project.

Most discussions on Earned Value Management (EVM) will tell us to compute planned values, PV(t), at the time of planning the project, and assess Earned Values, EV(t), as we make progress over time. This is a very easy and effective way of assessing how the project is performing with respect to time, i.e., schedule.

The problem, in many cases, is that Planned Value (PV) cannot realistically be computed at all. In a project that is expected to take about 18 months to complete, with an average of 25 engineers on the project throughout, and the number of engineers changing over time, we can only begin to compute the planned value as time progresses.

A simplistic model, that I realized was possible during a discussion with my fellow colleague Richard Wheeler, is what is presented here, as an example. No need to worry about actual engineers involved, etc., by making the following, very realistic, assumptions [A click on the graph will open it in its own tab/window]:
  1. Planned Value is 0 at the beginning of the project. (7/1/2010)
  2. Planned Value is 2 at the planned end of the project. (12/31/2011). This is also the Budget at Completion (BAC). (The choice of 2 for PV is only to separate the graphs of EV and SPI in the same presentation).
  3. An S-curve is fitted between the beginning and the end of the project. I have used a very simple Excel model of an S-curve in this example; your environment might be better served by a different model suited for your project's environment.
  4. For each of the interim milestones, 4 in the example, there is an associated PV, based on elapsed time. (Milestone 5, M5, is the completion of the project).
  5. When a certain milestone is reached in actual execution, the EV(t) is considered to be the PV at the milestone.
  6. When M3 is reached in actual execution, any schedule variance at that time, SV(t), EV(t) - PV(t), is assumed to persist until M4 is reached.
  7. Beyond M4, I have assumed a linear improvement in EV(t) until M5 is reached.


Of course, one limitation of this simplistic model is that actual costs are not considered; even then, it can be a useful model in some project situations.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Google Fiber, when are you coming to our town?


This blog post is an alternative, easier-to-follow, representation of an article on Mashable.com, How Does Your Internet Service Stack up to Google Fiber?

PropertyAT&TComcastGoogleTime-Warner Verizon
NameMax Turbo Internet and U-verse U450 TV Xfinity Extreme 105 Internet and Digital Premier TV Gigabit + Fiber TVSignature Home PackageFiOS 300 and Ultimate HD
Price/mo$188$180$120$199$318
Internet access speed24 Mbit/s down, 3 Mbit/s up105 Mbit/s down, 10 Mbit/s up1000 Mbit/s down, 1000 Mbit/s up 105 Mbit/s down, 10 Mbit/s up 300 Mbit/s down, 65 Mbit/s up
Monthly Data Cap250 GB300 GBInfinite60 GBInfinite
Channels 430, incl. Cinemax, HBO> 300, incl. AMC, ESPN, HBO, Showtime162, incl. Showtime350; premium extra380, incl. ESPN, NFL RedZone, Showtime
DVRs, Recording1, 41, 21, 81, 21, 2
DVR - hrs65 HD60 HD 500 HD 150 HD 60 HD
Availability22 states39 states, & Washington, DCKansas City, KS & Kansas City, MO29 states 12 states, & Washington, DC

It should be clear that, for Internet-centric usage, Google Fiber is the best bang for the buck. Yes, their package includes only 162 channels but, if you observe your own channel usage, you may discover that you probably only use a dozen or two channels anyhow.

Why even 162?

Google Fiber, when are you coming to our town? Does 'Bay Area' ring a bell?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Roger Federer, No.7, No. 17, No. 1.


In a recent article on ESPN.com, on Federer's latest Wimbledon conquest, the first sentence is:
"No. 7, No. 17, No. 1."
Gets you thinking on how well he has done from other points of view. I have given here a simple exercise of determining how well some of these players have done since their 1st Grand Slam win, and how well they may perform in the future. (1st Grand Slam win identifies, in a way, a certain maturity needed for such wins).

Today

I have chosen today's top three Grand Slam winners — namely Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic —, and have added Pete Sampras to this mix.

Player First Grand Slam Win Last Grand Slam (i.e., Retirement) Tournaments the Player [could have] Played through now (or Retirement) Grand Slam Wins % Success
Roger Federer Wimbledon 2003 N/A 2 + 32 + 3 = 37 17 17/37 = 0.459
Pete Sampras US 1990 US 2002 1 + 48 = 49 14 14/49 = 0.286
Rafael Nadal French 2005 N/A 3 + 24 + 3 = 30 11 11/30 = 0.367
Novak Djokovic Australian 2008 N/A 4 + 12 + 3 = 19 5 5/19 = 0.263

Tomorrow

The foregoing table seems to suggest that, if Federer competes for 3 more years, for approximately as many tournaments as Sampras did, there is a good chance that he will win 3*4*0.459, or 5 more, tournaments. Federer will be 34 years old in 2015. In other words, it may be reasonable to expect that his tally of Grand Slam wins will equal 20, i.e., only 3 more and not 5 more, when he retires.

If we extrapolate Nadal's current performance into his 34 years, i.e., for 8 more years, he is likely to have won 8*4*0.367, or 11 more or a total of 22, tournaments. Thus, he might be able to meet 20 Grand Slam wins too. However, given his playing style of utilizing more energy than, say, a more fluid game would use, it is unclear that Nadal will play into his 34 years.

If we extrapolate Djokovic's current performance into his 34 years, i.e., for 9 more years, he is likely to have won 9*4*0.263, or 9 more, tournaments. Thus, he might be able to meet 14 Grand Slam wins, equaling Sampras' record.

Of course, it remains to be seen how the future will unfold.