Thursday, April 21, 2011

Patent suit cheat sheet

One trend that bounces back pretty quickly with an improving economy is patent suits. At the time of writing, Apple was the latest to file one against Samsung. By the time of your reading this, Samsung would probably have sued Apple back. Not just these, the 2011 suing season is in full flow - Google, Microsoft, HTC, Oracle, RIM, Amazon - you name it, they've sued it.

And to make tracking patent suits easier, Technologizer has released this very handy cheat sheet.

Thankfully, no one is suing themselves... yet! :)

Thursday, April 07, 2011

RSA breach forces UK bank to shut online services?

In a possible fall out of the RSA SecurID breach, Halifax Bank of Scotland has decided to close their online investment service while it works on "a fresh new site which is more secure and easier to use".

In 2007, the bank had rolled out RSA SecurID security tokens to its customers, as part of a drive to protect them against phishing attacks. It's not too difficult to connect the dots.

This process of setting up a secure site will take HBOS a year and the new site will be ready only in April 2012.

Update: In another possible fallout of the RSA SecurID breach, Lockheed Martin, the largest US military contractor, has been reported by the NY Times to have suspended remote access after a network intrusion. Two down, how many more to go?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My first Facebook spam

Tricksters are getting trickier. Right on my birthday, i got my first Facebook spam message from Barrister Jamal Bob. Through experience, they must've learnt that victims are most likely to respond on a birthday.

So Barrister Jamal Bob is a personal attorney to Late Mr. Johan. C. Lagad, who died in a motor accident with his wife and his only daughter and left US$6.5 million dollars with a bank in Africa... for who else but me! Lucky me!!

Its a variation of the Nigerian 419 scam - called as the Inheritance scam. And wikipedia tell us that in 2008 an American woman lost $400,000 to this type of scam, after an e-mail told her she had inherited money from her long-lost grandfather. She actually had a grandfather whom her family had lost touch with, and whose initials matched those given in the e-mail. My dear friend Barrister Jamal Bob was slightly off target.

Here is the original Facebook message:

Dear Tejas Lagad,

I am Barrister Jamal Bob, personal attorney to Late Mr. Johan. C. Lagad, a national of your country,
Who died in a motor accident with his wife and his only daughter along Kpalime express Road and left some huge amount of money with a bank here in Lome Togo West Africa, valued at US$6.5 million dollars. I have contacted you to assist me.
I will email to you further details as you show full interest.


Mr. Jamal Bob.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

City vs Jazz vs Verna

A cousin recently asked for my help to choose between the Honda City 2008, Honda Jazz and the Hyundai Verna. Here is the quick analysis:



Honda City 2008 1.5 V MT

Honda Jazz Mode

Hyundai Verna VTVT SX 1.6

Cost effective



Mileage Overall (km/liter)



Folding Rear-Seat

Alloy Wheels

Tubeless Tyres

Front Fog Lights



Honda City 2008 1.5 V MT

Honda Jazz Mode

Hyundai Verna VTVT SX 1.6

Price (Ex-Showroom Mumbai)

Rs. 9,35,400

Rs. 7,69,160

Rs. 7,52,667


Overall Length (mm)




Overall Width (mm)




Overall Height (mm)




Mileage Overall (km/liter)




Displacement (cc)




Power (PS@rpm)




Minimum Turning Radius (meter)




Folding Rear-Seat

Alloy Wheels

Tubeless Tyres

Front Fog Lights



Jazz has the poorest value for money. So junk the Jazz unless you fall for its looks. I didn't.

Verna has the best value for money. It delivers an almost complete car at the cost of the Jazz. Yes, the mileage is poor. But it's not poor enough to outrightly reject it as a viable option. At current fuel prices (@50 Rs per litre) you will need to drive 145,000 kms to match the higher cost of the City. Of course, once fuel is deregulated and the world economy bounces back this may change - @100 Rs per litre, you will break even with the City at 73,000 kms.

So a Verna is highly recommended – unless airbags are an absolute must for you. They are for me.

City delivers good value for money. You just need to decide whether you are willing to pay an additional 2 lacs for the improved safety, mileage… and a bit of status.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Economy as a train

I agree with Deepak Parekh when he says the market has not understood the budget well.

Think of an economy as a train. A train needs large amount of power while starting to overcome the static rolling resistance. However, very little power is required while cruising at constant speeds.

Similarly, different conditions of an economy demand different power requirements in form of budgetary reforms. The Indian economy train is chugging along at a good pace and the brakes of recession are not hard enough to slow it down significantly.

What is important though is to get more people on board the train. More people, means more mass, means more inertia. So the train becomes even more unstoppable as it gathers pace. That's exactly what the Finance Minister plans to do - extend a hand out to the onlookers who have been left out of the recent economic growth.

And the best time to board a train is when it is a bit slow...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Old postcard from Philadelphia

As i was rummaging my email archives for my frequent flyer number, i came across an email i had sent about my first international trip. Spawned recollection of a few memories. and made for interesting reading. Don't mind the wordiness though - i was just out of college.

Subject: Postcard from Philadelphia...
Sent: 10 Apr 2001

Hello junta!

A googol thanks for your best wishes.

Reached here on Sunday at 4.30 p.m. local time i.e. 2 am (Monday) IST. The route was Delhi-Amsterdam-Detroit-Philadelphia.

The highlights:

Surprised (pleasantly) by the smooth going at the New Delhi airport.

A breath-taking birds-eye view of the Amsterdam football ground under lights(or was it the Rotterdam).

Mesmerised by Dutch beauty at Amsterdam airport.

And then blown to smithereens by Dutch hostesses.

Stunned by the casualness of Detroit.

And finally soothed by the serenity of Philadelphia.

Overall, a long, grueling but educating journey that inspired a plethora of emotions.

I am put up at:
325-C, South Morris Avenue,
CrumLynne, Philadelphia,
Pennslyvania - 19022
Phone: 610-833-2830

Saturday, March 01, 2008

The morning after... Budget 2008

Its sad that one of the most pragmatic national budgets in recent times has been branded as populist by the media. Really, there is nothing wrong in being populist. The problem starts only when populism belies wisdom or medium term good. And there was little in the budget speech that was bordering on either.

Consider the stage on which Mr P Chidambaram had to deliver. With the US economy on the verge of correction and the EU and Japan failing to deliver the impetus, the world is looking at China and India to drive the immediate future. Any move by the Finance Minister to undermine the growth trajectory or domestic demand would have had a ripple effect on the world economy. And we are not even talking about the political pressure.

When in doubt, go back to the basics. Thats what the Harvard MBA did. Health, education and social security - you can do little wrong by increasing the outlay on these. Add to that the focus on developing skills that new-age India needs and you have the perfect recipe for sustained and inclusive growth. But wait theres more!

Taxation is always a tricky matter. You could either reduce the tax exemption limit, thereby increase the tax base and reduce the tax rates or you could heighten the tax exemption limit, thereby reduce the tax base and increase tax rates. But the lawyer chose to do even better. PC decided to reward the tax payers for the 15% excess over estimated tax collections and almost double growth in the last 3 years. He increased the tax exemption limit and kept the same tax rates. He hopes that the chain effect of bolstering the purchasing power of the masses will help corporates increase margins and hence saw no need to cut corporate tax.

But what about the farmers who are bleeding under the pressure of accumulated losses and loans and compelling one farmer to commit suicide every 8 hours? To them Mr P Chidambaram offered a loan waiver costing Rs 60000 crores. Now thats a huge amount. Thats over half the defence budget and almost 5 paisa of every rupee the government plans to spend this year. Moreover, this is completely unaccounted for in the budget. Fiscal imprudence? Probably. Short term relief measure? Yes. Populist benevolence? Certainly. Unnecessary? Certainly not. Lets agree, this was a crisis situation. Repeated crop failures and inability to meet the rising cost of cultivation has affected over 4 crore farmers. Thats almost 4% of the population. Desperate times need desperate measures and this was one of them.

Then there were corrections to past anomalies. Like the double taxation caused by the dividend distribution tax laws and the restrictive cash withdrawal tax. Both have been done away with.

The days of big-bang, dream and reformist budgets is gone. Having unleashed the third stage of economic reforms, all India needs are correcting kid gloves to ensure direction. And i guess, the most influential - if not powerful - economist in the world has done his job well.