Archive for the ‘Economics’ Category

Is computing at inflection point similar to weapons technology and cars?

Summary: At an inflection point, need for efficiency will overtake need for power. In the past, industries eg. weapons and auto have reached such an inflection point. Computing is approaching such an inflection point. Once we hit such an inflection point, light devices such net books, cell phones and light devices will be more popular than heavy weight desktops. Increase in user data, popularity of light devices and increase in bandwidth will lead to a central data repository. Current trend is to go to cloud services to host such a repository. Tonido and Tonidplug offer better alternative than cloud.

When arms race began in early part of 20th century, countries where building weapons that could pack as many TNT as possible in a missile/bomb. All through the world war, only thing that mattered was “how much TNT of power can be packed per cubic inch or per gram”. However, after years of building weapons, countries had nuclear bombs and other weapons that can pack tons of TNT. Power wasn’t constraint anymore.

Post world war-II, weapon builders shifted their focus from power to precision. What mattered now was precision, how accurate a weapon can hit a target and how precise can be the damage. Another such example is car industry. Automakers were on an arms race to build higher HP cars. Focus was on “how much horse power you can pack in a car”. However, when energy crisis began, focus shifted to efficiency. Everyone knows that the supply of oil is not unlimited, hence future of cars will be on efficiency not horsepower.

In computing, as defined by Moore’s law, power of the processor increased and size decreased, our appetite for bigger and more powerful machine grew. We use 64 bit processors in desktops. Question is will arms race to pack more power will continue or will it turn towards efficient and low maintenance devices?

Already enterprise servers are moving towards efficiency as cooling and energy costs become big part of data center costs. Soon, efficiency will be the key in running desktop and personal devices since users want their system run for long time for streaming media, or downloading TV programming, torrents, files, videos and music.

Constraint in with these light weight devices will be size and weight. By design, these devices should have limited (<100GB?) storage if not, these devices aren’t designed optimally taking advantage of bandwidth. With the current rate of growth in user data and growth in bandwidth, central remote data repositories are viable.

Such remote repositories can be hosted by cloud service vendors (Dropbox, Google etc) or you can use personal devices (TonidoPlug, PogoPlug) to host and maintain your repository. At CodeLathe, we believe your remote repository should be in a personal device which guarantees absolute privacy and prevents from any vendor lock-ins.

CodeLathe’s TonidoPlug is a small energy efficient device that would help you host files, data and applications at fraction of the cost that you have to pay for cloud services. Free cloud service today doesn’t always mean free forever, soon cloud companies will have to charge fee to be sustainable.

TonidoPlug can offer more than just remote drive or repository. You can access music, video/photos and manage calendars, contacts, Tonido applications. TonidoPlug will relieve you from running you power consuming desktop from running 24×7 to download torrents or running your home server to stream music or video in your home.

TonidoPlug will save you money in initial cost as well as in operating costs. Learn more at www.tonidoplug.com.

Does free mean you cannot complain?

A recent blog post about Twitter losing tweets drew a lot of ire and flak from various people around the ‘net.

Here’s a typical reaction:

whaa whaa whaaa!

it’s a free service. stop complaining about a freakin’ free service.

There were even wilder reactions. The post + comments disappeared from public view in Hacker News. Did someone think we were trolling?

Why exactly is that?

Does Free mean you cannot complain anymore?

In today’s computing world, most online services/apps are free. Put simply, users get what they want, while companies monetize the popularity. Simple relationship.

But now, there appears to be a tribe of people bearing arms, bludgeoning anyone who dares to speak out about lousy service quality, bad uptime, bad customer support etc all under the blanket “Its free, what you got to complain about”.

What happens if Google stops showing search results for companies and products they don’t like. It is a free service, no one can complain, but you bet that those companies are going to die pretty soon.

Or what happens if Gmail loses all your incoming emails and you learn about it a couple of months later. No big deal if you are Grandma. Pretty big deal if you run a small business using Google Domains. (Which is free btw)

Or what happens if Google Docs swallows many of your documents ?

Maybe you will say, “Its a free service. Stop complaining”

or maybe not.

If the knee-jerk reaction to criticism and complaints is to shush them under blanket nonsensical rhetoric, then it is not much different from strong arming tactics like this.

The only recourse a ordinary customer is to complain loud and clear..

When enough people complain, companies do sit up and listen. Without those checks and balances, things break down. Products and companies never improve, because they never get complaints..Everything is rosy.

With Tonido, we are not only spouting philosophy but trying to implement it. Some of the best insightful feedback we have got about Tonido has come from people who told us why Tonido sucks.

So Tonido users make some noise. We are listening.

Are you working for a startup and don’t know when to quit?

jobIf the following relates to you, read further.

  1. You are working for a start-up
  2. You are receiving a salary less than your market value
  3. You have worked for a reasonable number of years and in a dilemma of when to call it quits
  4. You have developed a strong bond with the management and don’t want to disappoint them by quitting.

I understand you have invested some years at your current company and have developed an attachment to the company’s success. But, this is the time for you to make a decision that is right for you and your family. Let me aid you in making the call.

If it has been more than 5 years and the company has not become profitable, quit. Take your losses. Invest your experience and time in another company. Even better, start your own company.

If the company is profitable, but still hasn’t made to the level to be bought out, then go through the following check list.

  1. Estimate your market value. Check out www.salary.com. Do not overestimate. Also, check the job market condition.
  2. Estimate the value of your options. Underestimation is good. Don’t let your emotions judge the value, checkout a competitor that got bought out recently. Make a realistic judgment.
  3. Calculate your income per year using the below formula:

Income = Current Salary + Options Value

If your income is greater than your market value, stay and re-evaluate in a year. Otherwise, talk to the management to increase your salary or options. If you can get an options or salary increase to make your income greater than your market value, stay. If not, quit.

Good luck with your career.

Memo to world leaders

Millions of jobs were lost in 2008. Thousands and thousands of jobs are being axed every day currently. People are in despair. A silent behavior metamorphosis is happening in the street. People don’t really know what to believe in anymore. They don’t believe in the value of once coveted dollar or the price of their property or the future of their investments in iconic companies. They also don’t know who can bring hope to their lives. They are not sure whether they can place their faith in elected leaders or the public institutions.

As the days go by, the governments around the world are pumping trillions of dollars into the world economy to prop up consumer and business spending. Being the lender of the last resort, Governments are ready to spend the money they don’t have and print additional currencies as they wish. But leaders need to exercise caution as they move further in that direction. It is not really a far-fetched imagination to say that people losing trust in Governments totally may push the currency economy to a barter economy where people exchange apples for French classes. While stimulus packages can prop up the supply side it would do little to improve the demand side which is completely dependent on people’s psych and confidence in future prospects. So the most critical job before the Government and business leaders is to reduce the uncertainty that has permeated into every sphere of economic activity – both public and private. So what is the solution that will rebuild the people’s faith in world economy? What will bring the populace again to the capital markets and banks? What will make people to invest in new ventures? The answer is

Complete and Absolute Transparency in every minutiae activities of public and private institutions.

For starters, Governments should publish how every penny of stimulus package is being spent to the public in easily available format. From now on this should expand to the spending of every state and federal institutions as well. Publicly listed companies should also follow suit. They should stop managing their earnings and open up their accounting systems to every willing stockholder in a transparent manner. Finally, the situation is so grave that if the leaders don’t practice and force absolute transparency in every action they do they may never be able to salvage the current economic crisis.

Fundamental Reason for Current World Economic Turmoil

What is the fundamental reason for current world economic turmoil?  It is a quadrillion dollar question. Contrary to popular perception, the answer is not US housing crisis or exotic derivatives such as CMO’s and CDO’s or high oil prices or cheap dollar.  The fundamental reason is lack of trust. People don’t trust the banks with their hard earned money. Banks don’t trust people to lend money. Investors don’t trust  the CEO’s and CFO’s of public companies to invest in them . Business leaders don’t trust the political establishment and political leaders don’t trust private enterprises.Finally people don’t trust their elected officials and public institutions. It is a evil cycle: Classic chicken Egg problem.

So who is responsible for it? It is my view that everybody played a part in creating this mess. No one group is individually responsible for it.  As People, we didn’t do due diligence of our personal finances before buying an expensive home.Bankers didn’t do due diligence of risks associated with complex derivatives before hoarding them.Public institutions  didn’t do due diligence in monitoring wall street and private enterprises. Business leaders didn’t do due diligence of shareholders interest before awarding million dollar bonuses and back dated stock options to employees.

The direct analogous to financial crisis is silently happening in the internet world. Without understanding the risks associated with storing our private data in the servers of Google and Facebooks of the world , we are happily uploading our photos, documents and other intellectual assets  to these Web 2.0 providers. People need to perform due diligence and understand the risks before uploading thier data to web service providers. What if they shut down their business tomorrow? What happens to your data? Please for your sake don’t be naive or have a belief that Google or facebook won’t shut down thier services. They might if the services are not profitable enough for them. Click here to know more. You can  also check out the related article in Ars Technica. Codelathe’s soon to be unveiled software Tonido will allow the user to have absolute  control over thier data rather than conceding control to web Goliaths such as Google and Facebook.  If you are curious please sign up for the private beta release for early preview.