Cambodian adventures – Part 3

One of the difficulties in exploring the Angkor Wat and allied temples is that they are spread out over a large area. So one of the first things I did when I got to Siem Reap was to ask around for any sort of organized tour of a couple of days that I could join in touring the temples. Unfortunately I could not find any.

I was therefore left with no option but to ask the right-hand-man from Part 1 to find me a tour-guide and a tuk-tuk for couple of days. Thus for the next couple of days, my tour Guide was Thoeun Moeun – his first name is pronounced like “thun” in Mithun. Don’t ask me what the extra vowels are for. You are right to wonder how on earth do I remember that name, it is by no means and accident: I’ll come to that shortly. My tuk-tuk driver for the next couple of days was Kea.

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Plugged in and customized

I received my TonidoPlug after a 6 week wait post placing order. Tonidoplug is a low cost : 100$ + 30$ shipping to India + 560INR in duties, low power: of the order of 5W computer that runs Ubuntu. The first thing I set up on the plug was a static dhcp server. I wanted each device to have a fixed IP address that was centrally managed. The Tonido software that comes built-in with the plug computer sadly lacks a DHCP server module.

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Cambodian Adventures – Part 2

This is going to be a short one – about how I got to where I was in Part 1.

A brief note on footnotes: if you are interested in the narrative, you can skip them over. On the other hand, if tangential information interests you or if you plan to travel and are looking for tips, feel free to peruse them!

My travel philosophy for this trip was simple: don’t have any plans. I’d get to one place and stay at least one day. If I liked the place, I’d continue to stay the next day, if not I’d travel to another place. I never had any reservation nor an itinerary to follow, so wandering like this wasn’t a problem. My only guiding principles were 1. a rough idea of the places I’d like to cover and 2. a per day spending limit so that I wouldn’t overshoot the budget.

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Cambodian adventures – Part 1

I’ve been meaning to write about the experiences I’ve had on a backpacking trip to Thailand, Cambodia and Singapore that I did late last year. By some accident of history I’ve memorized and implemented Kabir’s famous adage “Kaal Kare So Aaj Kar, Aaj Kare So Ub” backwards, so it has taken till now for me to actually getting to writing down a few of my experiences.

I hope to write a few of the more interesting experiences and some sort of travelogue down. This one, which I hope will be one of many, will deal with a single interesting (I think) experience I had.

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Podcast advertising: a listener’s perspective

I have a 2.5 hour commute to work every day. Hence I listen to a lot of podcasts in various genres including news, science, technology, business, fiction (fantasy, sci-fi, horror) and comedy. I’ve seen various forms of advertising on these podcasts. I’d like to elucidate a few points to podcasting advertisers out there, based on my analysis of the ads I have heard:

  1. Know your audience: This goes almost without saying. I do mention it because some advertisements I’ve heard seem to miss this basic point. If your podcast has a largely international appeal, for example, an advertising pitch that highlights “all American” as the potential benefit of consuming the product is missing the point.
  2. Know how your audience listens to your podcast: While the podcast format derives a large part of its popularity due to the freedom it affords users in terms of how and when they listen to your podcast, a quick survey might give you an overall picture of consumption milieu. This could give you crucial insights into what kind of products that you can effectively advertise. One fiction podcast, for example, realized that a large portion of its audience listens to its podcast at bedtime and made a concerted pitch to sell fuzzy headphones that you can wear when you sleep.
  3. Keep the advertisement relevant to your podcast and, if possible, to the particular episode: While this seems very basic too, I’ve seen many business podcasts miss this! An automobile advertisement that talks about style and comfort is not exactly the thing you would like to sell in a podcast that is talking about green-tech or clean-tech.
  4. Know just-tolerable-length: Remember, most of your audience is listening to your podcast on an audio player that can easily skip ahead. If you make a advertisement small, then there is a good chance that the annoyance of skipping ahead is greater than having to listen to the ad itself. If you make it too small, your advertisement may not be effective. The key is to realize how small, exactly your pitch must be. The exact length that an ad should be is what I call just tolerable length. This is going to depend a lot on the factors I’ve listed above. If your advertisement is relevant, humorous or informative, people may be willing to spend more time listening to it than otherwise.

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Outsourced telecom management: new paradigm?

Telecommunications products and services are getting more complex every day. Therefore, it is not surprising that the problems faced by telecom customers is increasing as well. If you have ever called up a telco call center when faced with a complex technical problem, you will very well appreciate the horror of the situation.

In most companies, the IT department also handles telcom assets.  I also see that most big companies tend to outsource their IT needs. These companies also usually have water-tight SLAs with their service providers. Hence outsourcing merely their telecommunications requirements may not make sense for such companies.

For smaller and medium sized companies, however, outsourcing IT may not be feasible or even necessary. In such situations, does it make sense to outsource the telecom management? Telecom asset management can be a chore for most companies (unless they are service providers). This is not just due to plethora of devices a mid size company would need to service their telecom needs, but also due to the pain of having to keep the devices updated (having to deal software versions of various devices etc.). Given these factors an intermediary like an outsourced telecom management firm akin to outsourced IT firm may be of some value.

Patterns & Superstitions

The idea for this essay came to me when a friend of mine related a funny incident to me. He was trying to teach an elderly person how to use the internet to see news videos. My friend directed the elderly gentleman to the BBC website. Then he asked him to click on a link to a video (which, by the way, said “click here”). The video window¬†appeared. Then the “loading” graphics, which looks like something like this, appeared on screen. The elderly gentleman assumed that, since he had to click on the icon that said “click here”, he is supposed to move the mouse pointer along with the revolving graphics for the video to load. So he did that, and coincidently, whenever he tried doing so and stopped, the buffer would fill up and the video would play!

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Reference Prices in Passenger Cars – A secondary research study

As part of a course called behavioral dimensions & marketing strategies, which is a sequel to consumer behavior,) I was required to pick any one concept of consumer behaviour, find five scholarly journal articles on it and then apply the learning from the papers onto a market category of my choosing.

I chose to study the small passenger cars segment and apply the concept of reference price on it. This seemed interesting at the time since Tata Nano had just been launched and its effect on existing cars especially with respect to their price perception and reference price seemed novel and relatively unexplored.

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The role of credit default swaps in precipitating the current financial crisis

In november of 2008, when the financial crisis was beginning to unfold, I was enrolled in a course called “banking, finanicial markets and systems”. This was an interesting course taught by Professor PC Narayan. One of the main thesis of professor was that lack of regulation causes high leverage and high risk taking and therefore makes financial markets unstable. I, along with a couple of my classmates, tried to investigate the role of credit default swaps, in precipitating the crisis. We started out with the following idea.

Credit default swaps is a contract in which the buyer makes a series of payments to the seller in exchange for the right to payoff if there is a default in respect of the reference party. The market for credit derivatives became larger than the underlying assets themselves, and it is often alleged that these instruments catalyzed the meltdown. The term paper aims at exploring the instrumentality of these instruments in precipitating the current financial crisis.

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