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Question of the Day July 30, 2005

Posted by dhar in Misc.

Should Google buy Skype? If yes, for how much?

This thought was triggered by this post from I, Cringely.

And yes, Uma,I am very much alive. No, the monsoons did not get me. Thanks for asking. 🙂


Personal MBA Bookshelf July 24, 2005

Posted by dhar in Misc.

Josh Kaufman started a discussion on Personal MBA which according to him is an entrepreneurial approach to business education. As a part of this project, Josh has now come out with 40 titles that cover general MBA topics in an efficient manner. I am currently reading David Allen’s Getting Things Done which is already mentioned in the list. Are there any good books which you have read and can be added to this list?

Josh’s List [URL]:
1. Mastery by George Leonard
2. Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham & Donald O. Clifton
3. Getting Things Done by David Allen
4. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
5. What the CEO Wants You to Know by Ram Charan
6. Profitable Growth Is Everyone’s Business by Ram Charan
7. On Competition by Michael Porter
8. Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim, Renée Mauborgne
9. Seeing What’s Next by Clayton M. Christensen, Erik A. Roth, Scott D. Anthony
10. The Essential Drucker by Peter Drucker
11. First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman
12. The One Thing You Need to Know by Marcus Buckingham
13. The Essays of Warren Buffett by Warren Buffett & Lawrence Cunningham
14. Poor Charlie’s Almanack by Charlie Munger
15. The McGraw-Hill 36-Hour Course in Finance for Nonfinancial Managers by Robert A. Cooke
16. Essentials of Accounting by Robert Newton Anthony and Leslie K. Pearlman
17. The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement by Eliyahu Goldratt & Jeff Cox
18. Lean Thinking by James Womack & Daniel Jones
19. The Substance of Style by Virginia Postrel
20. The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman
21. Economics in One Lesson by Harry Hazlitt
22. The Marketing Playbook by John Zagula & Richard Tong
23. Purple Cow by Seth Godin
24. Free Prize Inside by Seth Godin
25. The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki
26. The Bootstrapper’s Bible by Seth Godin
27. Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler
28. On Writing Well by William Zinsser
29. How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
30. Influence by Robert B. Cialdini
31. The Little Red Book of Selling by Jeffrey Gitomer
32. Flawless Consulting by Peter Block
33. Real Estate Principles for the New Economy by Norman Miller & David Geltner
34. Getting To Yes by Fisher, Ury, and Patton
35. Principles of Statistics by M.G. Bulmer
36. A Primer on Business Ethics by Tibor Machan & James Chesher
37. Brand New by Nancy F. Koehn
38. American Business, 1920-2000 by Thomas K. McCraw, John H. Franklin, and A. S. Eisenstadt
39. The Little Book of Business Wisdom by Peter Krass (Editor)
40. Re-imagine by Tom Peters

Comic Book Style Images July 22, 2005

Posted by dhar in Misc.

Given my interest in Graphical Novels, I found this Photoshop modification real neat:

The Original Image: Animesh Kumar

Modified Image: Comic Book Style

The small thumbnail doesn’t do justice to the technique that helped create these images. Check the 1024×768 sized image of Animesh and Ranjit to get a feel for how realistically the script produces Comic Book images from real photos. The creator of the technique also provides an action script for automating the effect.

Slashdot July 16, 2005

Posted by dhar in Misc.

Aha… for the first time, a submission of mine was accepted and posted onto Slashdot. Cool!

Plan 9 July 15, 2005

Posted by dhar in Misc.
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Ladies & Gentlemen,

The best thing since sliced bread; Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space is now available as a free download thanks to the good folks over at Archive.org. Guess the story will be on Slashdot by the end of day. Start your downloads before the Archive.org gets slashdotted.

For those not in the know, here is the wikipedia entry for Plan 9 from Outer Space:

Plan 9 from Outer Space is a 1957 Ed Wood science fiction horror movie. It was originally titled Grave Robbers from Outer Space, but it was renamed because that title was considered to be “sacrilegious” by its religious funders. It is widely regarded as one of the worst movies ever made. The movie earned Wood a post-humous Golden Turkey Award.

Actors screw up their lines—Wood did not have time for retakes—night turns to day and back in a single scene, and the movie’s best-known guest-star is an actor who died early in the filming (Bela Lugosi). Lugosi appears in a few silent scenes in the beginning and middle of the movie, one of which is repeated during the film. Later in the film, Lugosi’s character is portrayed by a taller, younger, blond-haired man: Kathy Wood’s (Ed Wood’s wife) chiropractor Dr. Tom Mason (who helped finance the film) holding a cape over his face.

Shrugging… that description, my friends, would fit 90% of the Bollywood blockbusters! 🙂

PS: Superficial.com is a rocking, wicked site.

What do you do when…? July 13, 2005

Posted by dhar in Misc.

I am sure most of us, at some time or the other, have had this experience. You go to a book shop, find a book that interests you. This could be for a variety of reasons: you have heard a lot about the author, the blurb seems interesting, every one seems to be reading it these days. Whatever!

You spend some 500 – 600 bucks on the book and once you start reading the book you realize that you are not so interested in it. As Jedi Knight Joe Francis would put it, “It does not float your boat”.

What do you do in such a case? Do you force yourself to finish the book? Do you dump it into some dark corner of the house and forget all about it? Do you gift it to your worst enemy? Do you return it to the shop owner?

I have been trying to complete Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum for a very long time. I have forced myself to 3/4 the length of the novel. But something tells me this might not be the right approach to reading the book. Maybe I will keep it aside for some time and maybe a couple of years later I will actually enjoy the book.

The question is this: what do you do when you end up owning such a book?

Long Exposure July 11, 2005

Posted by dhar in Misc.

A box of matches, a power failure, a camera and an idle mind mixed together. What do you get? A long exposure shot with the burning matchstick being moved around in random fashion.

Dying to try this out with a Diwali sparkler!

New Graphic Novels… July 11, 2005

Posted by dhar in Misc.

Got two classic Frank Miller Graphic Novels: The Dark Knight Returns and The Dark Knight Strikes Again. The Dark Knight Returns is believed by many to be Miller’s best work ever! Miller’s tale is dark and set in the near future. In this series, the caped crusader’s demons and obsessions completely submerge his sane alter ego Bruce Wayne. And Batman, a violent obssessed vigilante, poles apart from the cheesy do-gooder shown in the Batman TV Series, takes over. It has been Miller’s interpretation of Batman’s psyche that has dominated the character for nearly two decades since.

Have been reading too many of these Graphical Novels. This should be the last set for a long time. Back to One Hundred Years of Solitude after this.

Moment of T-Shirt Zen July 6, 2005

Posted by dhar in Misc.

Spotted on two T-shirts outside Vashi Station:

1. I think, therefore I am single.
2. Not all men are foolish, some remain single.

Have you had any Aha! moments with T-Shirt one liners?

Low Shutter Speeds, without Tripod July 3, 2005

Posted by dhar in Misc.

There are times when you need to take a shot at low shutter speeds without a tripod. By hit and trial I have found that I manage stable shots upto shutter speed of 15 (or 1/15th of a second). At shutter speeds lower than that, I invariably get some jitter.
Here is a way to deal with the problem:

Place the strap around your neck, extend it till it is taut (see figure above). Place arms as close to body as possible. To get additional stability, use the timer mechanism.

In such a situation, the camera movement is restricted by your arms as well as by the strap. By curtailing the camera’s degrees of freedom, I am now able to take stable shots at shutter speeds as low as 4 (or 1/4th of a second). Needless to say, this works best with cameras that have an external LCD display.

Try it out and let me know what is the lowest shutter speed you manage.

PS: Light Sensitive updated once again.

PPS: In response to Chandra’s comments, I would suggest you keep a stopgap tripod arrangement in your camera case. All you require are two sufficiently long pieces of nylon string. These can be tied to the strap hook of your camera. Once they are fixed on the camera, place the string under your feet such that the whole arrangement is taut. You should have a configuration as shown below:

While this won’t give you the stability of a tripod, it will go a long way in eliminating jitter. Best of all, this stopgap arrangement is so light and small that you can carry it in your camera case.

Chandra, hope this helps you in your quest for jitter-free photographs! 🙂