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Jim Gray missing at sea February 4, 2007

Posted by Vijay in Jim Gray, Microsoft, People.

There is a story of a different kind making waves. Jim Gray, a pioneer in the field of databases and transaction process, and a Turing Award winner is missing at sea.

The coast guard has called off its search but Gray’s friends, colleagues, and companies have come together to use the latest satellite and Internet technologies to search for the missing man.

Sergey Brin the founder of Google has offered assistance, as has Amazon, Oracle and tons of others who have either worked with Gray or have been influenced by him. The NY Times carries a great article on this and I quote below

In the meantime, as word swept through the high-technology community, dozens of Dr. Gray’s colleagues, friends and former students began banding together on Monday to supplement the Coast Guard’s efforts with the tool they know best: computer technology.

The flurry of activity, which began in earnest on Tuesday, escalated as the days and nights passed. A veritable Who’s Who of computer scientists from Google, Amazon, Microsoft, NASA and universities across the country spent sleepless nights writing ad hoc software, creating a blog and reconfiguring satellite images so that dozens of volunteers could pore over them, searching for a speck of red hull and white deck among a sea of gray pixels.

Coast Guard officials said they had never before seen such a concerted, technically creative effort carried out by friends and family of a missing sailor. “This is the largest strictly civilian, privately sponsored search effort I have ever seen,” said Capt. David Swatland, deputy commander of the Coast Guard sector in San Francisco, who has spent most of his 23-year career in search and rescue.

Techcrunch carries a great article titled Help Find Jim Gray with Web 2.0.


First Mover Advantage February 3, 2007

Posted by Vijay in First Movers, Issues, People, Pioneers.

Murali Writes

How important is it to have the first mover advantage? Is it good enough to be second?

Ravish Malhotra. Do you remember him? I’ll bet that 7 out of 10 people who read this will not.

Rakesh Sharma. Do you remember him? I’ll bet that 7 out of 10 people who read this will.

That is how important it is to finish first and not just second. For those of you wondering, Rakesh Sharma and Ravish Malhotra were trained to be India’s first cosmonauts. Rakesh Sharma got chosen for the actual mission while Ravish became the backup. I remember that until the few days before the mission itself both names used to always appear together in all reports. Ravish’s name completely faded from the limelight as soon as the decision on the prime cosmonaut was decided and Rakesh was chosen. I am sure both were equally competent in everything. Just that one finished ahead of the other.

In the same theme of aerospace a couple more examples…

Hardly anybody would know the name – Gherman Titov but everybody knows Yuri Gagarin.

Buzz Aldrin’s name never quite has the same buzz as Neil Armstrong’s.

Needless to say, there are innumerable examples in the business world that would bear this out. It is so important for brand name recall that you have to be the first off the blocks.

So who will be the first Indian on the moon? or the second?

MS Office has serious competition February 1, 2007

Posted by Vijay in Business, Innovation, Internet, People, Tools, Web 2.0, Zoho.

With the emergence of services from companies like Zoho, and Google Documents, the much protected “Office Productivity Tools” bastion of Microsoft is under attack. Both these services offer Web based word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation tools (Zoho only).

Zoho is especially interesting for me because of its Indian connection. Raju Vegesna is the main Evangelist and one of the chief Architects of Zoho.

Stay tuned for Zoho’s new release the Zoho Notebook.

Is China Evil? January 30, 2007

Posted by Vijay in Business, China, Entrprenuers, Google, People.

Over the last week or so, the blogosphere has been debating the ethics of doing business in China. Some argue that businesses should not engage China until there is more political freedom there. Google’s admission that they “regret” their decision to work in China (quoted on Techcrunch) has only added to the ongoing discussion.

Chinese politicians are no saints but neither are leaders of the so-called democratic countries as well. If companies do not do business in China and engage Chinese businesses, it will be a bigger dis-service to China than the lack of political freedom. They (the people of China) stand a better chance of achieving political freedom this way.

Coming to businesses, China is a huge market and NO ONE can afford to ignore them. They are a growing economy and it would be foolish for me as a businessman to ignore opportunies there.

Are Bloggers the New Media? January 8, 2007

Posted by Vijay in Blogging, Internet, Issues, People, Trends.

Will tomorrow’s news come to us from our peers? The man on the street? More importantly will I increasingly rely on news from the Blogging community rather than the traditional media? I know that I do.. especially for the latest buzz on technology.

In the old days if something bothered me, I would write to the newspaper who never published it. Nowadays I can just go to my blog and vent my frustration.

While blogging started with tech geeks writing about their stuff, it has now spread wider and is actually transcending various fields. How else would you explain Tech Blogger Robert Scoble covering politics.

Bloggers are increasingly seen as a great way to get company and product news out. No more hiring expensive PR agencies to court the media. Blogs are also becoming a great way to expose corporates who do not follow ethical business practices.

Heres a good example. There is this company called Java Jo’z that ripped of a guy called Ben Scoble. They took $30,000 from him and his partners as fees for starting a franchise and didn’t keep their word. Apparently repeated mails from him didnt do any good so he decided to blog his frustrations. Java Jo’s were messing around with the wrong guy. He happens to be the brother of Robert Scoble (mentioned above) who promptly mentioned it in one of his blog entries.

The lesson here. Never piss a blogger off. The community is becoming more and more influential.

Don’t think thats good news for any company thats putting together a business plan based on franchises. A good example of the growing blogger influence.

Blogs and Bloggers are mainstream. Traditional media might not like it but the trend is here to stay.

Where are the people? January 5, 2007

Posted by Vijay in Business, Issues, People.

Theres tons of studies and reports that talk about emerging opportunities for Indian companies. We still seem to be stuck in the “service” mode. This translates to:

“More Business = More People”

However the challenge that companies are facing today is in fact the lack of people (even though India boasts of a large population). As one HR manager put it to me “People are available BUT good people are in short supply”.

The education system here is not in tune with the times and just churns out bodies. As my friend Murali Partha says we need to churn out people who are better equipped to handle the real world not only from a technology point of view but also from a communication, cultural sensitivity perspective.

The next “big thing” will be from India January 1, 2007

Posted by Vijay in Innovation, Internet, People.

Someday there will be a Google or a Microsoft that will emerge from India. The more I look at kids today, the more confident I am of this.

Check out Yuvi who is a 15 Year old from Chennai and seems to have his head squarely on his shoulders and ambition to boot. He just got written about by Robert Scoble.

Then check out Daneel, another kid from Chennai (he links into my other blog), but what he writes about is beyond other 14 year olds.

I am sure there are tons of others who are innovative, curious, and ambitious. With people like them, I feel that I can go out on a limb and say that we will indeed see the next big thing from India someday.