Monday, August 29, 2011

Delhi Metro Ridership

Some years back, Rediff carried an article on Delhi Metro. I was upset about the premature obituary they wrote, stating its a costly mistake.

The metro was expected to carry 2 million people daily. At the time of writing it was carrying about half a million. As the coverage increased, so did the ridership. Today, 5 years hence it ferries 1.7 million souls across Delhi, within striking distance of its planned capacity. I believe it should hit 2 million by this time next year.

Then in a couple of years, I believe they will write about how congested the metro has become and the present capacity is not enough. We will then talk about increasing the coaches in the rakes and reducing interval between 2 services. Wait till that happens...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Network Media Players

I've always been a fan of network media players. This love started with Roku SoundBridge M1001, way back in 2007.

Roku had an optical out that I connected to my Harman Kardon Amp. To stream the music I connected Roku to my laptop / external hdd using my wi-fi. It was a wonderful experience and gave a some boasting rights too. The only challenge I faced was the display, which was pretty small and so when browsing the song list I had to sit pretty close to the unit. Also, there was no Video Streaming available. Later on I discovered an iPhone app to control the Roku and it really changed my iteraction level. I could compose the playlist of the fly, mute, change volume etc. from the kitchen and without being in front of the unit. All that ended when I returned to India. The device did not survive the travel and I lost a great friend.

Roku has since come up with some really strong products that stream from Netflix and other sites like Youtube, Hulu etc. but they do not stream media from your collection and hence have limited utility for me. I bought their latest offering HDXR(2009), but returned it once I understood the limitations.

Later last year I saw Xtreamer Pro in my brother-in-law's house. It was a boxy device, that contained his entire collection (Audio and Video). I liked it as it allowed local storage upto 4 TB. Though it did allow network connection, I think wi-fi dongle was an expensive accessory and bringing Wired Network to the player meant an ugly creepy wires crawling up and down the walls to reach the player.

iOmega Screenplay DX
Last month when browsing through Croma store in Mumbai,I chanced upon iOmega and Western Digital media players. I returned home and started my research. Between the two, I chose iOmega over WD for its Wi-Fi connectivity in the same price.

Essentially for Rs. 13000 you get
- 1 TB Space
- Wi-Fi Dongle
- Ability to connect to Internet and play Youtube, Netflix etc. (Only YouTube is useful in India as Netflix and other streaming sites are blocked).
- View most of the known Video / Audio Formats

I could get it for much less in the US but now its no longer an option.
Last weekend we watched BhejaFry-2 from YouTube on our TV, through iOmega Screenplay DX. I reserve my views on the movie, but the streaming was flawless. I wholeheartedly recommend iOmega to anyone wanting to set up home Media House. Its truly value for money.

Monday, August 22, 2011

iPad and Other Tablets

HP has pulled the plug on its new born TouchPad. Its sad and it underlines the dominance of iPad over its competitors. But the article itself has its flaws. It compares iPad success with iPod success. I think the comparison is misplaced. Survival of iPad like devices depends on the ecosystem that surrounds it. iPod succeeded due to an intuitive and comprehensive ecosystem of iTunes store and Desktop app. However, it was a small ecosystem. iPad on the other had is taking on Home PC / Laptop mkt. Here the ecosystem is large. It thrives on applications written and supported for the platform. Here, thanks to Andriod, there is a capable competitor. Google has already demonstrated its capabilities with the Andriod. Today, Andriod sells more than iPhone's iOS. Google is further upping the ante by buying Motorola's Mobile Arm.

In my view the Tablet wars are only starting to get serious now. This war will be fought in the next 5 years between. Apple needs to watch out for Andriod. Android has an equally strong ecosystem. With Apple shunning Flash, while Android embracing it, I think we will see Android HoneyComb and probably the next version of OS giving Apple a run for its money.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

An Officer and a Gentleman

Hisdustan Times: Ashok Malik wrote a moving article on how India and Pakistan still remain connected through humanity. Having fought bitter wars, the Army and its officers remain sensitive and conscientious. Its one of the most moving account of human bonding and the fact the our nations remain connected even after partition.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Apple The Most Valued Company

10-Aug-2011 is a very special day. For the first time Apple became the most valued company in the world. What a story over the last 12 years. A fairy tale. Steve Jobs has played the best second innings in the history of business. People typically start a business and grow with it. No one starts a great business then leaves it and then comes back to rescue the business from the brink and takes it to the top. Its not just great. Its Divine.

Lets take a moment to reflect. Year 1997. Apple was struggling to survive. They got Steve back as an interim CEO. Michael Dell the legendary CEO of Dell Computers when asked to prescribe a solution suggested that Apple be shut down and money returned to Share Holders.

Steve wrote a jocular email to Apple employees, in Jan 2006 when Apple Market Value raced past that of Dell asking them to take a pause and reflect. If there ever was Poetic Justice...

Sunday, August 07, 2011

US Credit Rating takes a Hit!

US Credit Rating was downgraded by S&P on Friday. What is it going to do to the world?Boom! Crash!??. I think not. In 2002, when S&P downgraded Japan's rating, what happened? Guess.... Nothing! Yes nothing.

Where are countries like China, going to put there excess money if not in Dollar? Euro is as unstable, maybe more. No other currency can play an alternative to USD. Hence, nothing will change on the ground. Of course there will be a bit of Huffing and Puffing for a few days. But it will soon subside as ppl go about their business as usual.

In fact, just a couple of days back after the Debt Ceiling was increased, the Yields for US treasuries went down to just 2.5% for 10 year maturity. Just because S&P downgraded USD 2 days after, will ppl now dump USD? I think not! Lets see how it goes...

I'm not sure of implications for India.