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Apr 24

Went to MoMoDc meetup last night. The Davis Wright Tremaine conference area was swell – not to mention free drinks and snacks!

Met some wonderful people and the panel discussion on mobile payment was interesting. One of the main points made was why mPayments is having a hard time in getting traction here. There is NFC as a possibility, QR codes and many other “ideas” to disrupt the mPayments area. But this fragmentation is also a reason why there is not much going on. Starbucks is the ONLY company which has successfully implemented mPayments.

Another reason pointed out for slowness in mPayments adaptation is credit card. Credit cards are easy to use, they accepted almost everywhere and are very secure (zero liability if the card is stolen) from consumer perspective.

The market fragmentation is due to carriers, technology companies (Google, Paypal), merchants and providers all want the share of the “data” pie. The main reason why everyone wants to do their own thing is because they want to know exactly what the consumer is doing. CapitalOne already has in app deals based on where you spend your money. Every loyalty card we use, the merchants track what we buy and where we spend the money. Two interesting articles on this point:

  1. From New York Times – How Companies Learn Your Secrets
  2. From Forbes - How Target Figured Out A Teen Girl Was Pregnant Before Her Father Did

This brought up an interesting discussion on privacy and merchants walking the fine line between creepiness and making consumer feel OK. Even if something is legal, does it make it OK for merchants (or card issuers or carriers or any one) to use it?

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Apr 21

I attended the MoDevUX conference on April 20, 2012 in DC last week. It was an interesting conference with a mix of developers, designers, UX folks, entrepreneurs and many other curious attendees.

I learned a lot from the conference and here is the rundown of stuff.

  1. Mark Jamison started the day with his keynote address. Learned three important things:
    1. RedBox was started in Washington DC as a replacement of convenience store
    2. CapitalOne has a new deals offerings tab in the mobile app using user’s buying pattern
    3. CapitalOne uses servers in India (not sure about dev center though)
  2. Some interesting stuff from Josh Clark - Debunking Mobile Myths. Most important thing was about keeping the “key” features of the site available on mobile version.
  3. When designing iPad apps keep in mind where the keyboard shows and make sure that it doesn’t block important information.
  4. One of the best UX related presentation was by Jon Schlegel (Founder and CEO at Optime Software). Couple of his pointers – hire a designer to make your app unique (and not easily copyable) and smal changes in app UX can bring huge number of downloads. His example was Sudoku – simply changing the position of number pad increased the downloads dramatically.
  5. A cool presentation on PhoneGap. Two new things:
    1. http://build.phonegap.com
    2. Bootstraps, from Twitter
  6. Some cool new things from Microsoft Windows 8 and touch-feely MS! Some new framework for design called Metro Style!
  7. There are new laws coming from FTC if you are selling apps to kids (definition of kids varies).
  8. Mark Rolston of Frog Design had the most inspiring presentation.

A few pet peeves related to the conference – none of the presentations are made available online. Having the conference on two floors may not be the best organization. Going up and down wasted a lot of time and missed some important starting comments.

Apr 27

Facebook says don’t just like, SEND. On Monday (April 25, 2011) FB launched Send button. How to add Facebook Send button to your blog/website, its is very easy. All the details from FB Dev area.

Another important detail: Send counts toward the total number of Likes a page has. The Like total is now calculated by adding the number of Likes, shares, comments and inbox messages containing a URL.

Here is the easiest way to add FB Send button on your website:

<div id=”fb-root”></div>

<script src=”http://connect.facebook.net/en_US/all.js#xfbml=1″></script>

<fb:send href=”example.com”></fb:send>

 

Dec 29

The other day I saw #ILoveIndonesia and Hate Malaysia trending on Twitter. I could not figure it out. Today “Congratulations Malaysia” is trending. After Googling for a while I found out it was about a soccer tournament – AFF Suzuki Cup 2010. In the first leg of the match, Indonesian players and fans accused Malaysian spectators of using lase lights to blind the goalkeeper. Indonesia lost the first leg 3-0. Today, in the second leg of the match, Indonesia won 2-1 but lost the match (Malaysia scored total 4 goals, while Indonesia’s total goals – 2). Congratulations Malaysia for winning AFF Suzuki Cup 2010!

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Dec 15

Recently one of my clients asked me to help them publish their SalesForce data on their website. The client uses WordPress (WP) as CMS for the website. Client wanted to use WP categorization and tagging capabilities. Also they did not want to maintain data at two locations (WP and SF). Based on these requirements I proposed following solution:

  • Create custom post types in WP for SalesForce Data
  • Apply tags and categories to SF data in WP
  • Run a scheduled job for sync – sync will be unidirectional (SF to WP) – data update will occur ONLY in SF

The process I followed for the integration:

  1. Created a custom post type with custom fields.  This link is very useful if you have no idea how to create a custom post or custom fields. http://justintadlock.com/archives/2010/04/29/custom-post-types-in-wordpress. There are some plugins that you can use as well – http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/custom-post-type-ui/. I did not use the plugin.
  2. Wrote PHP script for querying SF data. Used SalesForce PHP toolkit http://wiki.developerforce.com/index.php/Force.com_Toolkit_for_PHP. The samples are very useful if you are new to Force.com and PHP. I will strongly suggest going through them.
  3. PHP script to add custom post type (and fill custom fields) programatically. This was an easy step once SF query part was done.
  4. Client tagged and categorized the custom posts manually once the initial data load in WP was completed.
  5. Created custom post search interface.
  6. Created CSS for displaying data in the theme.
  7. Created a scheduled (cron) job to run every night to sync the data.

Some of the “gotchas” I came across:

This was a very interesting project. Really enjoyed working on it!

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Jul 29

I read the article Creating a consumption class out of the poor the other day. It is an interesting article. In the first part of the article, the author rightly points out what is wrong with subsidies. I completely agree with Mr. Jagannathan on his opposition of subsidies and why they fail to deliver the intended results. Subsidies have not helped the central planners reduce poverty or helped poor get intended relief. It is a classic case of State failure.

Unfortunately, Mr. Jagannathan then argues that cash instead of subsidies is a better idea and points to success of National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) as evidence. From the NREGA website, here is what NREGA is about:

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act aims at enhancing the livelihood security of people in rural areas by guaranteeing hundred days of wage-employment in a financial year to a rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.

Essentially, the idea is to provide work to able bodied rural people instead of food. According to the author, by giving cash for manual work, we will be able to create a new “middle” or as the author puts it, consumption class. This consumption class then will help the economy and since the new class will have money, they will ask for better service.

I completely disagree with this premise as it is wrong at so many levels:

1. By merely substituting cash for subsidy on food, fertilizer and kerosene, a new middle class be created.  This is a fallacy because the provider is still the government. By merely removing inefficiencies in distribution of grains and other subsidies we cannot claim that we are doing better by giving cash to rural population. At the end of the day, government does not produce money – it essentially takes money from some and redistributes it to others (they can “produce” money by printing it but that is NOT true money) .

2. In fact, we are not even eliminating inefficiencies. We are only moving one type of inefficiency to the other. If  the government is bad at managing warehouses what makes us think that it will be better at managing work hours of workers? How about where and how projects are allocated?

As Mises pointed out, without the free markets, there is no way to efficiently allocate resources. Why are we digging wells or building stuff in places where we may or may not need them? If there is a real need (and government has no red tape) for the wells in Palanpur, Gujarat, someone will build them and make the money. Theses moneys when circulated in the economy will create a true middle class.

3. If we can provide employment to unskilled laborers and turn them into consumption class, may be we should also eliminate use of heavy mechanical machinery in all PWD work. Why use road-rollers for building roads? Give unskilled laborer a spoon and provide employment to millions of people. Isn’t that a great idea?

Essentially, a country’s economy is not defined by its consumption class but by it savings. Way to build a robust economy is not by increasing government spending but restricting (and almost eliminating) government spending. The days of Keynesian economics are over. India has already tasted the sweet fruits of TRUE free markets.

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Feb 11

Found out that Whole Foods has great Cajun chicken wings! Who knew? Whole Foods great source of Buffalo wings!

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Feb 09

Email from my nephew, Ruchir Pandya, sums up my thoughts very nicely and so I am pasting it here:

I’m glad NO won.  Not because of Katrina.  Not because of Kim Kardashian.

I’m glad NO won because their coach called the game the way it should be called.  Indianapolis’ offense was having no trouble in the first half.  Instead of sitting back and kicking the ball to them, he went the unconventional route and fooled everyone in the country by calling an onside kick.  What a move!  Instead of kicking a field goal from the 2-yard line, he went for it on 4th down.  Even though it was unsuccessful, it paid off anyway because the Saints got good field position on the next drive.

The Saints’ coach makes them a very exciting team to watch. The Super Bowl was a good game and for once the coach turned into an exciting affair instead of the predictable, conservative game it usually ends up being.  NO threw the ball 39 times!

Feb 03

Two of my fav platforms just got married – WordPress and Android. Super excited about that. Now I can blog from my Droid. In fact, this post is from my Droid.

If you are visiting from an Android device you can  Download now.

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Dec 30

Checkout this new hardware innovation from Notion Ink. It is called “Adam”.

The Hyderabad based start up has developed the first touchscreen tablet which uses Google’s open source operating system Android, Nvidia’s yet-to-be launched Tegra processor chips and a power-saving display screen from Pixel Qi.

Adam will be showcased in Las Vegas during CES 2010 (Jan 07 to Jan 10).

Thanks Avinash for pointing to this story.

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