Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Ban on advertisements?

Advertisement is a medium to bridge the gap between the businesses and consumers. While it is true that certain advertisements can be harmful for naive targets, imposing a ban on all kind of advertisements is not at all a sane solution. If used fairly, they can result in a win-win solution for both the parties.

There is no doubt that commercials with evil intentions can rob the gullible audience, especially children and youth. I remember an instance from my childhood when I coerced my mother to buy me a mosquito killer after seeing an animated ad which portrayed it as a mosquito eating robot. It turned out to be a stationary device which happened to be a mosquito repellent, not even good enough to be a repellent. The youth are even more vulnerable to be mislead by similar deceptive commercials because they have the power to decide and purchase for themselves - a very good example is youngsters being over crazy about soft drinks.

Nevertheless, these concerns cannot undermine the significance of ads. Imagine a world without them. How would the market survive? In the absence of advertisements we would not have a way to try various brands and choose the best for ourselves. The offending advertisers should obviously be dealt with in the courts. Strict regulations can help keep a check on false claims and grievance redressal system can help protect the consumers.

In a nutshell, like any system is prone to abuse, the advertisement medium is no exception. Proper measures can definitely help ensure fair play but banning advertisements outright is not going to help.

Lol.. You must be wondering what is this! This is nothing but an essay. Haha.. Why I wrote this? Just like that ;)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

My fear of music?

"You don't like music?", she asked.

"No", I replied succinctly.

"Not even in the morning?", she sprung in surprise, making me feel outlandish.

 "Well, it just disturbs me anytime.", I responded.

"Can we try a low volume?", she suggested.

"Could you use your earphones?", I counter advised while starting to feel sorry, since I did not want to accede to her request of keeping the music playing in our office cab and at the same time did not want to pose myself as overtly dominating, on her first day in the cab.

It is hard for people to comprehend that it is not my hatred for music per se that makes me feel uncomfortable but the the shameless levels to which the songs of today have fallen to.

I have tried it a lot before - making others happy by letting the music play and suffering myself with the noise of explicit songs and deliberately intended pun on the FM channels just because I did not want to exploit my seniority in the cab.

But, why? If it is justified to avoid passive smoking, it should be acceptable if one wants to keep off dirty music. To understand my point, consider music like a cuisine. Everyone has their own favorites and even dislikes. If one is free to order their own dish from the menu, people should understand that it makes more sense for everyone to use their own headphones when in public transport to listen to their own genre unless it is known that all the travelers have a similar taste.

I am not one of them who like a particular song just for the beats and melodies. Music can be considered like packaging while lyrics be thought of as the contents. I am sensible enough not to consume something that looks attractive but has crap inside.

Music has the potential to create a channel to experience the divine but unfortunately it has been reduced to a medium which delivers illicit ideas and raunchy feelings, glorifies drug abuse and even blatantly encourages the possession of guns and arms just for the sake of being cool.

I might sound like going overboard in bashing the music industry but we really need to apply our acumen to gauge the vulnerability of our subconscious to such music. What would you expect from young minds who are growing up to this kind of music? I feel ashamed when I see little kids dancing to the tunes of the likes of Yo Yo +Honey Singh who can stoop to the lowest level of morality in their songs. Today, because of singers like him, Punjabi songs have lost their originality and have rather become an epitome of vicious verses and ludicrous lyrics.

I don't know how many of you will agree with me. Some of you might even say, "C'mon dude, enjoy life. Don't be serious about it. Songs are for fun. Just chill ...", and so on. But, I had to share my thoughts, so that I can know yours.

Is it unjust to ask fellow cab mates to plug-in their earphones and listen whatever they want and let people like me appreciate the beauty of silence or even have a peaceful power nap on the way?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Google Search Tips and Tricks - Presentation

Do you know what all Google Search can do for you? It can become your currency converter, calculator, weather forecaster and can even show you the flight status in just a matter of seconds. Yes, indeed but that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Google Search gives us umpteen ways to lookout what we want. All we need to know is how to uncover those features. These are not hidden features which have been deliberately obscured by Google. It is just that most people don't realize that there is so much power behind a humble white web page.

I have been using Google Search since more than 13 years and realized that many people see me as a person who is quite good at searching things on the web. It had though become my second nature to be able to dig the Internet using the tricks I had learnt over the time.

My friend +Channdeep Singh suggested me to take out some time to organize and present some of the tips, that I use most often, to benefit others to search effectively. The slide show below is a result of the constant nagging by him. Thanks Channdeep! This deck was also used as a part of career sessions organized by the team at (a job listing blog run by a volunteer group I am part of).

Did you find it helpful or was it something you already knew? Do drop a comment below.

Note: This is definitely not an exhaustive list of the nice features of Google Search. Let me know if you want me to add any of the rest with a nice example. I would be glad to update the presentation.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Put yourself up for AUCTION and get HIRED in the US

I came across this breakthrough concept when I saw an ad on Facebook.

You must have heard of auction of all sorts of things but developers?
Haha! Sounds funny but it's true!

Hired has come up with an awesome platform which has a magnetic appeal for all those aspirants wishing to work and settle in the US. They say, "Get your dream job in America. Full visa sponsorship included!"

You get a chance to present your profile to the top-notch US employers and if you have a LinkedIn profile, you just need to click-click and your profile will be 80% complete in just a matter of seconds.

The rest of the task will be getting recommendations from your professional network and adding some finishing touch to your profile which is essentially linking StackOverflow and GitHub accounts with your profile to add to its credibility.

The best part is that you don't need to spend a penny for the selection process. All you need to do is prove your mettle and let the companies fight for you.

So, does this get you tingled and sends a wave of excitement down your spine? If yes, don't wait and click here to get started now before there is stampede at the auction site!

Currently hiring: Software Engineers (esp. Python, Ruby, iOS and Android), Product Managers, UX/UI Designers, Data Scientists. Sign up to see if your profile is on a lookout too!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Dreaming about Analytics

The last year happened to be an year in which I did more online shopping than any other year and an interesting fact is that most of my orders were diapers and other baby products ;)

Being from a technology background, my inquisitiveness lead to an interesting consequence on my interest towards how these e-commerce sites work.

It is always exciting to see how amazon, ebay, flipkart and a few others websites recommend me the products I am indeed looking for. Moreover, there were instances when I saw ads of the baby products on websites on which I did not expect to see them, and then realized those ads were of exactly the same products I viewed sometime ago on a baby store.

Well, all this made me curious each day and then I got to hear about analytics from +Karandeep Singh. This marked the beginning of my journey on the road called Digital Analytics.

When I asked more about this from the Big G, I found that Google Analytics is one of the tools that enables these websites to add to their smartness by knowing what users are looking for and hence showing them the right content (in order to maximizing the website's profits).

And while I was already looking to expand my skills, I saw this infographic from +Google Analytics. It pushed me more to tread on this new found path and since then there was no stopping. I created my own Google Anaytics account and started experimenting. It gave me a lot of insights on how our perceived notion about site usage statistics can change when we have a look at the results shown by Google Analytics.

I started enjoying looking at the reports and the first actionable insight (thanks to +Avinash Kaushik for this word) I worked upon was trying to reduce the bounce rate of the most visited pages of (a social organization I work with) and it really worked!

And it was last month when I decided to get certified with GAIQ (Google Analytics Individual Qualification). Thanks to the awesome videos by +Justin Cutroni, it was not hard for me the grasp what all could Google Analytics do. The icing on the cake were the tough questions on (a great project by +Eric Fettman) which pumped me up with confidence to give the certification which requires a minimum score of 80% to pass it.

And then the day came, I took a deep breath and sat for the online GAIQ certification exam and passed it with 94% .. 

.. and the journey is still on and I am still dreaming about analytics. Let's see how it goes :)

Tip: Use the promotion code given here to get 50% discount on GAIQ exam fee.
Not sure how long it works but it worked for me!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A cute chota calendar

It was long time ago* when I last ordered anything from zoomin but a couple of days ago what caught my fancy is an email about this great deal on their small sized calendar which is up for sale for just Rs. 99.

Today, I received my table calendar, from this online prints website, in just a matter of 2 days of placing the order. I found it really good and thought of spreading a word about it.

My chota calendar which reads "Waheguru" (Punjabi for the Almighty Lord)
Its normal price is Rs. 299 (which is not at all worth it) but due to this offer, it is available for only Rs. 99. Moreover, it has over 100 backgrounds to choose from, to get your name etched or engraved or painted (and what not) on it.

Theme selection

If you want to get one for yourself or for gifting it to a dear one, you need to place an order before Dec 31st, 2013*. If you don't have a zoomin account yet, you can register here.

Do let me know how did you find your own chota calendar. Cute or not?

* If you haven't ordered anything from zoomin in more than 6 months, it will take around 6 hours for your account to get reactivated. So don't wait for the last moment if you want your chota calendar.

Update: The cute chota calendar offer has ended. You can check out the other offers here.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Delhi must vote!

It is already an interesting scene here in Delhi where the ruling Congress party is aiming for another giant leap while the opposition BJP is confidently seeing itself in a position to topple the government off their political marathon. To add to this tussle, the newly formed AAP (Aam Aadmi Party - translated as Common Man's Party) has already gained enough popularity, esp. in the youth, and (at least in their own imagination) wishing to clean the crap of corruption with their debut shot.

The elections are just 2 days away which happens to be a Wednesday and we, the inhabitants of NCR (National Capital Region), are wondering why did the Election Commission did not consider keeping it on a weekend (or by declaring a holiday in entire Delhi-NCR) being (very much) aware of the fact that a huge headcount works in the NCR region.

As a consequence, though it is a holiday in Delhi, the voters who work in mostly MNCs and factories in Gurgaon/Noida and other major NCR hubs won't be able to comfortably cast their vote. They either have to take a holiday, or reach office late by sacrificing the comfort of office transport facility and commute on their own after casting vote.

When you see that it's mostly the youth who supports the newly formed anti-corruption party AAP and it's mostly (at least as per my calculations) the youth who works in NCR, keeping the elections on a weekday smells like a foul plan!

AAP has already raised concern and requested the EC and Center government to declare a holiday in entire NCR but there is no echo heard yet.
But those who care
are aware,
that you got to vote
or be ready to rot
for another 5 years
crying onion tears!
So, take an off if you need to, for it is your future, because the government is of the people, by the people, for the people.

UPDATE: My friend +Manpreet Singh shared a comment  pointing us to the provision (vide: Section 135B of theRepresentation of the People Act. 1951) released by the Election Commission of India. The title of the section goes like - "135B. Grant of paid holiday to employees on the day of poll." Hooray!

Please do share this information with all your friends and relatives who work in Gurgaon/Noida or other areas of NCR.