Monday, November 19, 2007

AIRBUS A380 Takes off !

As I write this post on AIRBUS A 380’s maiden flight, I would like to go back to my TAPMI days wherein we discussed the A380 case study as part of the project finance case. This case study described the way A 380’s project has been organized and what kind of issues the company can face (It did face a lot of issues !).

At this point in time, I would also like to talk about the other blog entry which I had posted earlier in which the delay in AIRBUS A380 delivery was mentioned. AIRBUS A 380 delivery to airlines was delayed by close to 18 months which resulted in AIRBUS paying huge penalties and fines. Because of AIRBUS A380 the parent company EADS and AIRBUS both went into a lot of trouble which resulted in restructuring of the business and operations.

A380 which took close to a decade in the making and is about two years behind the delivery schedule, made its first commercial debut for Singapore Airlines flying from Singapore to Sydney with more than 450 passengers aboard. People were so excited about the first journey that they were spotted wearing T Shirts which said “I am First to Fly A380”.

For Boeing, it’s truly a gauntlet and kicks off a new round of multi billion dollar contest between the rivals for jets which will serve the long distance travel.

A380 has a price tag of about $ 300 million and if the plane is completely occupied with coach seating it could carry a whopping 850 passengers. The logic behind building such huge jets lies in the fact that major airports would become congested by huge number of aircrafts and it will be important to have large planes which can carry more passengers than the existing ones.

People have described the first commercial flight of A380 as a moment in aviation history. A few tickets for the suites within the aircraft were auctioned on e-bay and a Sydney businessman bid $ 100, 380 for two of the 12 luxury suites. This speaks of the excitement which people had for traveling in jet.

In Singapore, passengers began to arrive at the airport at 4:30 a.m., anticipating long lines, but the average wait for check-in was 15 minutes and people breezed through security. At the gate, they were treated to a buffet of breakfast pastry and canapes as a string quartet played classical music.

The new jet for Singapore Airlines was configured for 399 people in economy, 60 in Business class and 12 in Suites. There were 33 in flight crew, including four pilots and the journey time was just over seven hours. On the main deck similar to Boeing 777-300, there are 10 seats in each row with four in the middle and three on either side. In the narrower upper deck, eight seats make a row in economy with four in middle and two on either side. Business class seats on upper deck were arranged in pairs in three rows.

Surprisingly of the 468 passengers, 75 were newspaper and TV Reporters.

Passengers snapped pictures of each other several times in various parts of the plane including the spiral staircase and even restrooms. Media brought in a party atmosphere and interviewed a large chunk of people in the business class.

On October 17 2007, when Singapore Airlines CEO Chew Choon Seng took delivery of the A380, he described it “The new queen of the skies”. But whether A380 will redefine the air travel the way Boeing 747 did remains a question.

Airbus has over 165 orders for it’s A380 Megaliner as against 700 Dreamliners for Boeing 787. But Airbus expects to have a second round of orders post its commercial operations of A380 take shape.

Problems assembling the A380 drove up the development cost from an initial $12-billion estimate to nearly $20 billion. That led to a major shake-up at Airbus that included the ouster of several top executives. This became a major issue in AIRBUS and the project A380 looked like a distant dream and most of the airline companies asking for heavy compensation from AIRBUS.

Boeing's 787 Dreamliner hasn't been immune to problems. In an embarrassing setback, Boeing said in October that shortage of parts would delay the first delivery by six months.For Singapore Airlines, the decision to fly the A380 on the Singapore-to-Sydney route was strategic. The airline has been in a battle with British Airways and Qantas to fly the lucrative route that connects travelers from Europe and Australia. Before jets, propeller planes from Europe had to make numerous stopovers to reach Australia. Because of the "hops" involved, the trip became known as the Kangaroo Route.

These days, a flight from London typically stops over in Singapore before proceeding to Australia, and vice versa. Singapore Airlines hopes the introduction of the A380 will help it lure passengers, particularly first- and business-class customers, away from competitors.The test will come Sunday when the Megaliner enters regularly scheduled service that will require a landing, unloading of passengers, cleaning of the cabin, restocking of meals, refueling, loading of passengers and taking off -- all within just two hours that too on a daily basis.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Subprime and the Rocking Markets

Nothing can beat this. No one can afford to ignore this. This certainly is the biggest news this week. Another punch from the Markets after the 15000 mark. Sensex crosses 16000. Wowwwwwwww. A month back we were seeing the downturn and we are all back as a phoenix which will rise from ashes. Let’s go back a little bit to analyze as to what happened.

Subprime shockwave, Fed Funds Rate, Discount Rate, Ben Bernanke, Northern Rock, Countrywide Financial, Emerging Markets decoupling, These are the some of the key words which we have heard over a period of last two months day after day. The list is just endless and goes on and on. All the business news channels and the financial news paper kept on talking about the Subprime phenomena and US entering into a recession. It was also said that very soon India could also see the impact of subprime shockwave, which will hit the equity markets badly and will end the emerging markets story in one shot. But as of today 23rd September, we stand tall and straight and absolutely fine at a cool 16564 mark. Yes the benchmark index for the country SENSEX has kissed 16000 with the NIFTY cruising to 4800 mark after the Fed announced the rate cut in the Fed Funds rate by about 50 bps and the discount rate by 50 bps.

Going back to the month of July when I was working with one of our client’s and I heard the term called as Subprime and how it can hit the markets hard. I was just waiting to understand the complete picture but before that the Dow and NASDAQ reacted and on August 2 we saw the first collapse in Dow and NASDAQ. A fall of about 3-4 % leading to a worldwide belief that the bull run of the equity markets has come to an end. Asian markets fell by a good 3 % that day with Indian markets tumbling down by over 4 % lead by Reliance and Infrastructure stocks.

Lets understand the phenomena of Subprime and how does it affects the equity markets globally or on a larger basis US Market. Subprime is a term which is coined for borrowers who do not belong to the prime category of borrowers. This happens because of the fact that these borrowers have a bad credit history, have defaulted on previous loans and credit card payments or have no sufficient collateral to back up their loans. The best way to describe them is the word NINJA. NINJA stands for No Income No Jobs and Assets. We know from finance that lower is the credit rating of the borrower higher is the interest rate charges. So for the subprime borrowers the interest is charged at a higher rate when compared to prime borrowers. The term subprime actually refers to the borrower’s quality unlike the interest rate in India.

In the last 5 years Fed has cut the rates for the first time on last Tuesday. This means that rates have been northward from the last five years primarily on the inflation concerns since Alan Greenspan who was the Fed Chairman before Ben Bernanke, felt that rate has to be under a strong control to contain the inflation. Due to this, the sub prime borrowers now had to continuously pay higher rates on their existing home loans. Only way to counter this increase in the home loan rate was to refinance the loan. Refinancing the loan involves again a cost, which may not be able to match up with the lower interest rate. In late 2006, the first signs of Subprime came into picture when a few of the home loan borrowers started defaulting. But then the news died since the stakes involved were not very high.

The first shock of Subprime hit a large scale US Investment Bank, Bear Stearns. Bear Stearns announced that it has made a huge loss of $ 2 billion in one of the hedge funds it runs. Now to understand the connection between subprime and hedge funds lets go back to the concept of securitization. Securitization is a concept of repackaging illiquid assets and selling them as high yield securities. This happens normally in case of home loans, credit card receivables and a lot of illiquid homogeneous assets. Now a lot of financial lenders like Countrywide Financial actually sold their subprime loans to prominent investment banks globally which in turn created hedge funds out of them and sold the securities in the fund to investors. Why should investors buy the securities? Simple in return for the risk they take they get a high yield probably much higher than what they can get on a treasury bond.

As the subprime borrowers started defaulting more often, the value of the hedge fund started falling. This went on to such a extent that Bear Stearns declared that one of its hedge fund will not be in a position to allow any further redemption because the value of fund has fallen considerably. When the investment banks realized that the Hedge funds based on subprime loans are not sustainable, they decided not to buy any more home loans from financial institutions like Countrywide which in turn hit the latter badly since it started accumulating bad loans on its balance sheet. This soon became worldwide phenomena with prominent investment banks like Lehmann Brothers, Goldman Sachs etc closing their mortgage services and cutting jobs extensively. BNP Paribas in France stopped redemption of one of its fund. In the Far East, Macquarie Bank in Australia closed one of its hedge fund which had exposure to US subprime market. Due to higher home loan rates, the housing market hit a record 20 year low in US which actually forced Countrywide to close some parts of its business and cut jobs rapidly. This also led to collapse in the equity markets and Dow saw its worst time since 2001 falling by more than 400 points in a single day triggering the world wide collapse of the equity markets. So this is in brief about Subprime problem.

Subprime issue had spread to such an extent that now it was felt that if Fed does not jump in and take some action, US may enter into a recession. Soon Fed showed its colors and cut the discount rate by 25 bps. Discount window of Fed allows the banks to borrow emergency funds from Fed which are repayable in a month’s time. This actually gave a relief to the markets and globally all the indices went up marginally over this news. Then came the news that Countrywide is about to get busted when it went to 12 different banks in US for a $ 12 billion credit line. The markets reacted again and fell by more than 4 %. Nifty went below 4000 mark and Sensex went until 13787 levels. The punters said that the bull market run had ended for the emerging economies.

Slowly and steadily the news about Subprime losses stopped coming. It was felt that Indian markets are not prone to such markets and hence a decoupling theory was suggested for the same. Decoupling from the US markets, which actually helped the Indian markets considerably. Indian markets started recovering quite well but the recovery was seen only in quality stocks or stocks which are fundamentally good like Reliance, L&T, BHEL and couple of others. While Index was rising slowly and trying to reach the previous highs the rising dollar hit the IT companies badly. In the past few months the IT stocks have fallen to an extent of more than 5-10 % with some stocks hitting 52 week low also.

On September 18, Fed made its announcement about rate cut. Markets were expecting a rate cut of about 25 bps in Fed funds rate. But to everyone’s surprise the Fed fund’s rate was cut by 50 bps and the discount rate was cut by another 50 bps. This was an enough trigger for the markets and Dow and Nasdaq went up in the last hours of the trading session by almost 3- 4%. Next morning we had a huge rally in the Asian markets with the Hangseng and Nikkei 225 moving by more than 4 % in a single trading session. Indian markets were not far behind with Nifty crossing 4700 mark and Sensex crossing the 16000 barrier. Most of the stocks touched their 52 week high.

The rate cut by Fed is a sign of two things. One is to ease the liquidity in the markets to ensure that US keeps growing at about 2 % every year. Second is that the subprime problem is big enough to entangle the entire US into it. This can affect the US housing market which has seen the biggest slump in last 9 years.

As I complete this article, which has now taken close to a week, Market globally; have risen to lifetime highs in each and every sector. Whether it is mid cap, large cap or small cap everything has risen astronomically and some stocks are daily making new Highs. Reliance pack especially has risen like anything with some stocks getting completely out of their fundamentals. RNRL moved by close to 30 % in a single day followed by JP Hydro which moved by 28 % in a single day together with RPL which moved by 16 % in a single day. It has been a maniacal rally for the markets and more is yet to come that’s what analysts say across the world. As I write this article we are looking at breaching the 18000 mark on SENSEX and 5500 on NIFTY very soon.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Twin Bomb Blasts in Twin Cities

Twin bomb blasts rocked the twin cities on Saturday 25th of August 2007. The two bomb blasts happened with a gap of about 15 minutes begining at 7:45 pm at Lumbini Park Laserium. Thereafter at about 8:00 PM a bomb blast happened at Gokul Chat Bhandar, one of the famous eateries in the twin cities and a heavily crowded place on Saturday. Over 40 people were killed and more than 100 injured in this disastrous act of terrorism which shooked the twin cities completely and everyone including the Police Commissioner were taken by surprise.

The blasts at Lumbini park happened in a laserium with about 300 people. It was a bomb made out of Ammonium Nitrate ( which is an explosive since I have used it in our Chemistry lab once for testing some cations). The second blast happened in Gokul Chat which is one of the favorite chat spots in Hyderabad. At any point in time there would be atleast 50 people standing in Gokul chat. The explosion in Gokul chat could have been done by a suicide bomber or a gas cylinder and there is no evidence yet for that and investigations are in progress.

These incidents are third in the series starting from the Mecca Masjid bomb blast which happened on a fateful friday on 18th of May this year. It has been a very tumoltuous year for the goverment as well as the Police officials in the state and they are struggling to keep up with it. There is a bangladeshi terrorist group which has been quite active in the city from sometime and is the main cause of trouble.

Very recently the police commissioner issued orders to the IT companies to conduct a background check for each and every employee within the company since there was a report that a few of the terrorists are actually working within the IT companies. Moreso on one of the friday's we got a hoax call which stated that a bomb has been planted within our premises.

Last Sunday, due to heavy rains lashing the city the flyover bridge over the Punjagutta road collapsed partially killing more than 5 people and injuring a few others added to destruction of the property. It was a horrific incident and it actually went into the minds of individual and created an adverse impact with respect to safety and security. This incident added to the bomb blasts actually created a panic situation in the city which has forced most of the people to stay indoor on the weekends as well.

Yesterday and day before, we went for a drive to a few places which normally would be full of people. But to our surprise, the roads are wearing a deserted look and there is no one to be seen around. Most of the restaurants are empty and the most happening places in the city are absolutely crowdless. This is the first time when I am seeing a Saturday evening to be so quite. Again on Sunday we went to Nagarjuna Sagar, which is about 160 km from Hyderabad and is one of the most famous weekend destination here. On a weekend one can easily find couple of thousand people out there. But to my surprise, the road which was leading to Nagarjun Sagar as well as the Launch were completely out of people. There were a handful of people scattered across and it was raining very heavily all the time.

The incidents in the past few months have created a feeling of jittery in the minds of the people. Everyone is scared to come out of their homes. Whether it is driving under the flyover or visiting a temple. The security has been tightened considerably across every place of gathering and in the times of Ganesh Pooja its really difficult for the Police to manage the crowd. But inspite of all this people enjoy and spend their time with their loved ones. Although there is fear but then as someone has said. The show must go on.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

India @ 60

Today India celebrated its 60th Birthday. At the outset let me wish the country and my fellow citizens a very happy Independence day. Its a momentous occasion and when I look ten years back, the amount of enthusiasm and spirit has doubled thanks to the explosive growth of the media and communication.

Exactly ten years back, I was still in Kendriya Vidyalaya whereas my counterparts had already moved into junior colleges. My school at that point in time was one of the finest schools in Hyderabad and only one of the few KV schools to offer 11th and 12th in CBSE syllabus. I still remember the long preparations which underwent as part of the 50th I-Day celebrations in our school. There were host of cultural programs including some of the fascinating regional dances and parade. Sweets distribution used to be one of the major part of I-Day celebration in our school or for the matter of fact in any school. The snack pack as I can call it was also really good and matching the occasion of 50th I-Day. All in all it was probably one of my last day's in School and hence the importance of this day was more for me.

Thereafter when I was in college I never ventured out on 15th August and tried to stay indoor for all the four years. When I went to TAPMI to pursue my MBA once again the flavor of I-Day caught up in the campus and for consecutively two years we had some or the other celebration in our campus.

This year is special in its own terms. Its the 60th Independence day and it becomes equally important to go back into the past and see what we achieved together with an outlook into the future and what we wish to achieve. Numerous television channels took this as an opportunity and invited eminent personalities from different fields to talk about achievements of India. Its definitely very difficult to point out one single event in the history of last 60 years which would stand out but certainly there are a few which everyone of us remember it extremely well.

I would like to remember the victory of Kapil's Devil over the mighty WestIndies in the 1983 Prudential World Cup. Even Omkar Goswami rates this as the most important event in the last sixty years. The abolishment of the License raj in the year 1991-92 by then Finance Minister Manmohan Singh stands as the most important economic reform carried out till date in the history of Indian economy. Before this reform, we had just enough foreign currency to manage imports worth of two weeks. Such was the condition of Indian Government.

Reliance coming out with an Initial Public Offering in the year 1978 was also perhaps one of the landmark events in the history of India. This was the first time that a private enterprise was allowed to raise money from the public. Its said that Reliance shares helped some people in the marriages of their daughters and sons.

Some of the events like emergency in the year 1977-78 and the babri masjid demolition in the year 1992 together with the stock market scam by Harshad Mehta stand as negative moments in our history. The dot com bubble bust in the year 2000 together with the Asian currency crisis of 1997 also caused a havoc in the Indian economy. 9-11 would also remain a black mark in the history of India as well as the world.

Inspite of all this, there are a lot of issues in which India still needs to focus. Infrastructure is one of the biggest issues which can hamper the growth of India in every possible way. Political instability which can be seen from last few days on account of Nuclear treaty with US. Increasing population as we look very close to surpassing China. Scarcity of knowledgeable workforce. Rise in the rupee since it has risen close to 8 % in the matter of 2 months which can be extremely bad for the exports.

I shall touch upon each of the above areas in the coming articles. Lets see how India prepares to look forward to 2067.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Canadian Grand Prix - Lewis Hamilton all the way to Chequered Flag

Wow ! what a Grand Prix was that. Absolutely mind blowing. Really the best Grand Prix of the season. Only 13 drivers finished the race with Lewis Hamilton leading from the front, Nick Heidfeld in the second place followed by Alexander Wurz who moved by 16 places to finish on the podium. But out and out it was a race of Lewis Hamilton who took the chequered flag in a style. Alonso finished a distant 8th and Kimi finished at number 5.
The race was perhaps the most adventurous race in the recent times which included more than 11 drivers retiring from the race, 4 times Safety Car coming into picture and Kubica suffering a major mishap. Felipe Massa and Giancarlo Fisichella were shown a black flag because of entering the pitlane when the Safety Car was on the tracks. It was confirmed later in the race that Kubica suffered a leg fracture and his condition is stable and under observation.
Ferrari had a bad day today and as expected Williams did display some good show out there on the track. Lewis Hamilton joins the group of drivers who won a Grand Prix for the team in their debut season. In just six races in this season, Hamilton has finished on the top and in all other races he has finished on the podium. Mclaren working really well for him.
Trulli had one of the unlucky exits when his car crashed onto the walls. Coulthard once again had a engine failure and he was seen discussing this in not so good fashion with the team boss. Overall this grand prix turned out to be a delight to watch.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Impact of Technology in Cinema Theatres

Last week I went to Sree Ramana 35 mm, a movie theater in our locality, to watch the latest bollywood flick based on Mumbai based gangsters, Shoot Out at Lokhandwaala. Sree Ramana 35 mm is an old theatre in our locality and I have watched most of my movies out here only in my engg days. Some of the big movies which I have watched here as a “first day first show” are Lagaan, Dil Chahta Hain and Kaal. I like this theatre because its pretty close to my house, ticketing is hassle free and gives comfort which is on par with the Multiplexes.

I saw Shoot out at Lokhandwaala in Sree Ramana 35 mm last Sunday. People have criticized this movie considerably and it too follows more on the lines of earlier RGV flicks on Mumbai underworld. But the acting by Sanjay Dutt and Vivek Oberoi is worth mentioning in the movie and deserves some credit. Ofcourse this movie is better amongst the lot available in the market. Over a period of time most of the old theatres in Hyderabad have got degraded in quality and big theatres like Maheshwari have been demolished to give rise to Muliplexes. But Sree Ramana 35 mm stands out as an exception and not only maintained its quality but in some departments like ticketing it has improved considerably making use of the available technology.

The ticketing process in the theatre is completely revamped and employs the latest technology in this field. There are no more any counterfoils being given. Instead of counterfoil a slip is given at the ticket counter with the seat numbers on it together with a photograph of the person who purchases the tickets. Once you enter the theatre with the photo ticket the person standing at the door uses a barcode reader to scan the ticket and the photo of the person who has purchased the ticket appears instantly on the computer screen. Moreover all the people enter through a metal detector which ensures that one is not carrying some weapons with him and also updates the count as the ticket is read by the barcode reader. This is really phenomenal development which I have seen in the recent times in such a small theatre. I have seen big halls like Satyam in Chennai and Imax in Hyderabad but nothing to beat a system like this. Truly a masterpiece development.

This kind of technology in a movie theatre ensures that

1. The black marketing of tickets is prevented
2. Safety and security of the moviegoers is ensured
3. Ticketing is hassle free and does not require multiple counterfoils to be carried
4. Excess tickets are not issued ensuring that hall capacity is not crossed
5. Reduces the ticketing time considerably

Monday, April 30, 2007

World Cup 2007 comes to an end

Here we are. ICC World Cup 2007 came to an end on Saturday evening (28th April 2007) at Barbados. The final was played between the tournament favorites Australia and the Asian tigers Srilanka. Yet another rain hindered match which ended up being restricted to maximum of 38 overs each side. Once again the team which played first won the game convincingly and the match had almost no element of excitement from start to finish. Except for the fact that if Sangakkara had hit McGrath for a few more sixes it would have been some turnaround for the match but it was the day of Australia from the start till the end.

Australia remained unbeaten in all of its 29 matches. All the matches were won convincingly by them and they proved once again that they are just world class keeping in mind the number of upsets which happened in this cup. Minnows Ireland defeated Pakistan the same day when Bangladesh defeated India. The day after the defeat, people got literally enraged and it was a furore all over the country. It came to such an extent that we had to even watch the clash between India and Bermuda which could have been easily forgotten. I remembered getting a forward which had names of India and Pakistan already in the Super 8. Both the teams could not make it to the Super 8. The other major upset of the tournament happened in Super 8 when Bangladesh defeated South Africa and proved that they are the next Asian Tigers. Nevertheless one win was not sufficient for Bangladesh to get into the Semis which already had some of the best teams waiting.

The host West Indies again put across a dismal performance with just managing to win 2 out of their 7 matches in the Super 8. The team which once upon a time had stalwarts like Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards was reduced to dust within no time by the likes of Shane Bond, McGrath and others. England ensured that they continue their pathetic form and put up a performance which can be said as a little better than Bangladesh. None of their batsmen were in form leaving Kevin Pieterson. Ross Taylor really could not get his form back. Flintoff got himself into trouble after some charges were filed against him.

The surprise package of World Cup 2007 was nevertheless Ireland. They were the team which proved that if there is a will to win anything is possible. Its quite possible that all that happened because of team Ireland may be a chance but surely they did bring some welcome change in the World cup.

India's performance was probably one of the worst one in the recent time. The series against WI and Srilanka was a warning sign in terms of the form of the key player but of no avail. Most of our top batsmen collapsed. In the entire tournament India played three matches out of which two were not with the test playing nations even. But again India keeping up with the tradition of records ensured that this world cup 2007 does not go without. India scored 413 against Bermuda which is the highest ever total in World Cup till date. All our batsmen played an excellent innings in that match. It was unfortunate that we all had to even view that match. Bangladesh thrashed India badly with the opener Tamim Iqbal hitting the top Indian bowlers all across the fence. India was trailing at 159/9 when the tailenders came in took charge of the score and added about 32 runs to take the score to 193 which was a modest total to defend keeping in mind the strength of Indian bowling. The match against Sri Lanka was a nightmare and it really put each of the television viewers into a sorrow state. Muralitharan proved that he can be a match winner once again. Solid performance by the Sri Lankan team in the world cup must say better than the rest of the sub continent teams.

The final was a treat to match only in terms of the batting by Adam Gilchrist. He really rocked that day and it was proved again and again that it is his day today. Rock solid batting by Australians together with some tight bowling by Nathan Bracken and Michael Clarke turned the match towards Australia very easily. McGrath took one wicket and ended up as the Man of the series which he truly deserved. There cannot be a better ending than that for an illustrious career lead by this bowler. All across the newspapers and internet websites people were talking about watching McGrath bowl for the last time on an international arena.

A good number of big guns retired from the international cricket with this world cup. Inzy retired with tears in his eyes, Lara got a standing ovation from the crowd as departed from the ODI scene, McGrath retired from the limited overs cricket, Anil Kumble was the only Indian player to retire post this world cup and there is a good chance that we will not be able to see some of the players in the next world cup also. Stephen Fleming stepped down as the New Zealand Captain after a shocking defeat to Sri Lanka in the semifinals. New Zealand and South Africa stand as the most unfortunate teams of the World Cup. South Africa played disastrously in the Semis against Australia and it was really a bad performance by them.

All in all the this world cup had nothing literally for Indians other than the funky sarees of Mandira Bedi which incidentally got into a rage courtesy Indian Democracy and a pathetic telecast of the SETMAX where ads kept sneaking all the time even between a single over. Indian cricket teams came back amidst tight security and were given a very very warm welcome in literal sense. The tour to Bangladesh starts this Saturday. Let’s hope for some fireworks this time.

Some knowledge trivia about the World Cup Mascot is here

The 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup held in West Indies had Mello as the Mascot. The mascot resembles an orange raccoon-like creature wearing a blue short-sleeved shirt over a white vest and blue canvas shoes. Mello is shown standing with cross legs and tossing a white ball in the air, while leaning on a cricket bat. Mello pins a red ribbon on the left side of his shirt showing his support for the ICC/UNAIDS initiative, aimed at creating awareness of HIV/AIDS challenges among people.

The mascot of ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 has sparkling eyes, relaxing smile and pleasing personality, representing a youthful, friendly and fun loving character with a positive attitude and a zest for life. Mello is in his teens - cheeky and curious and aware of social and health challenges around us. The world cup mascot was chosen after an extensive worldwide research and development sessions.

Here is the photograph of the Mello

Monday, April 23, 2007

Windows Vista running not just capable

Yes my DELL Inspiron 6400 Laptop is now running Windows Vista Home Premium edition and is not just capable. About 2 weeks back, I upgraded my OS from Windows Media Center 2005 edition to Windows Vista Home Premium edition.

I bought my Dell Laptop Inspiron 6400 in London for not a very cheap price of about GBP 600. When I was buying the Laptop over the phone, I got the feel of the outsourcing advantage of India. I dialled a UK Toll free number and the voice at the other end was something like this :

Hi this is Rajesh? How can I help you (The accent was a typical english accent)

Thereafter our conversation got complete and I ordered the Laptop and asked the executive as to where is he calling from. His reply was like this :

Sir, I am calling from a city called as Hyderabad in India. Do you know about this place ?

I was not surprised over this response since Dell runs a huge call center out of Hyderabad located in Hi-Tech City. It was a pleasure talking to Rajesh as he was extremely cordial unlike the ICICI Bank customer care executives.

My Laptop is of very decent configuration (I will not rate it excellent as the RAM it has is just sufficient for Windows Vista Home Premium edition). Intel Core 2 Duo running at 1.67 GHz, 1024 GB RAM and 120 GB Hard disk. It comes with a DVD Writer, Windows Media Center Edition 2005 and Norton Internet Security 2007. Must say its a value for money when compared to the other brands in the market. I was lucky enough to buy the laptop in the period when Dell was also providing an express upgrade to the Windows Vista which got released on 30th of January.

The Windows Vista was complimentary to the purchase of Laptop and it was shipped to one of my friend's in London who got it for me to India on 5th of April. Windows Vista due to release in the month of October 2007 went into a few glitches before coming into the market on 30th January. After that Dell started shipping the eligible desktop with the Windows Vista DVD and Dell Utility DVD to ensure that the migration of all applications is smooth. Must say, the way DELL has organized the upgrade DVD and other issues is just terrific and truly a masterpiece in itself.

The installation of Windows Vista is completely automated. In the first step the Dell Upgrade Assistant thoroughly checks the PC for that software’s which can interfere with the installation of Vista. Most of the software’s which are older than 2006 version is not supported by Vista. For the matter of fact Norton Internet Security 2006 was also not supported by Vista and had to be upgraded to 2007 vista compatible version. Once the upgrade assistant completes the system checkup and uninstalls or migrates the software which can interfere with the installation, the screen for entering the software key came into picture. For the first time I was entering the OEM key for software. It was a delightful and memorable experience for me altogether. Believe me original software is definitely different from a counterfeit or pirated one in more ways than the look and feel. The installation is fully automated and does not require any kind of user intervention at all. The system restarts several times and if you PC/Laptop belong to the latest generation running on Intel Core 2 Duo, you would complete the installation in less than 1 hour of time.

Once installation is complete you are greeted with the Welcome screen where you create the User ID and password for your login. Windows Vista comes loaded with several features at different levels of the operating system. The start up and shut down tunes are very different and the Aero interface is one of the most special features of Vista. Windows Aero is the premium visual experience of Windows Vista. It features a transparent glass design with subtle window animations and new window colors. Part of the Windows Aero experience is Windows Flip 3D, which is a way to preview your open windows in 3D stacks, as well as taskbar buttons with live, thumbnail-sized window previews. Windows Vista has a new feature called as User Account Control which helps prevent unauthorized changes to the computer by requiring permissions before performing actions on the computer which can be potentially damaging. Vista has photo organizer called as Windows Photo Gallery which is very much on the lines of Picasa although not as versatile as the latter is. Some of the enhancements include features like support for a Tablet PC, a completely new Windows Mobile Center for devices which run Windows Mobile Software, an enhanced security center together with Windows Defender which is Windows Spyware protection tool. Here are some of the screen shots of the Windows Vista Home Premium Edition which supports Windows Aero Interface.

Windows Vista Home Premium running and not just capable

1. The revamped Start Menu
2. The Side Bar a new feature

3. Windows Flip 3D

4. My Computer Icons. Look at the clarity
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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Career and Life

Job has become very important part of our life now these days. Since most of us spend close to half of our time in a day at our workplace, it’s quite natural that whatever happens at the office does make a difference at your home also. The key lies in separating the two as much as possible.

Most of the time the work place expectations are not met as per our expectation. Either the work pressure is too much or it’s too less. Sometimes the work is very trivial and does not carry any challenge with it. The other times the work is massively complex and can give sleepless nights to most of us.

How about a condition where the work changes rapidly? It’s a mixture of absolute boredom and the other moment the things change rapidly and you have something really interesting to learn from the project. The moments when you decide “yes its time to call it a day” to the moment when you feel “Yes I have arrived”. These conditions are really difficult to succumb to and can really pull you back in a moment. It becomes really tough to come out of such conditions sometimes and things can go for a toss before even you react.

Sometimes it becomes really important to match the expectations of the people. These expectations may be very low keeping in mind the current scenario or can be very high keeping in mind the need of the hour.

Sustaining the interest of the individual in a particular job has become very critical now for an organization to retain the talent. It’s very important that organization if possible engage the individuals who are a cut above the rest into some of the most challenging assignments. Routine assignments cannot really allow an individual to continue for long in an organization. Motivation is one very important factor which can come from two sources either self or induced by a mentor. Unless and until we are motivated, its impossible to give a high performance.

Job satisfaction is extremely important for every individual. It’s the key sometimes if we want happiness in life. But its also important that we put that fine line between life and career and understand that career is part of life and not vice versa.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Kaun Banega Crorepati - 3 and King Khan

22nd of January will have its own importance in the television history. If not for television history, atleast in the life of Shahrukh Khan. SRK’s first episode of KBC was aired on this day.

Television is not new for SRK ,infact he started his career with it. Fauji was enormously popular TV series about the daily life of an Indian Army regiment. The character played by Shah Rukh Khan gained instant popularity . The success paved way for Shah Rukh's next series - Circus and his foray into filmdom.

SRK has emerged as one of the most successful actor/star of the Hindi film industry over the last two decades and his movies continue to be ring the cash registers on the box office.

When Amitabh did not show inclination towards hosting KBC again, STAR needed someone who has the aura on the silver screen which AB possesses. STAR approached SRK and the later took a very bold decision by hosting this all time popular game show KBC. First reason being that SRK has done so, very early in his career if we go by the speculations and secondly because he has taken the challenge to compere a show which was earlier compered by Big B himself.

As unfair as it can be to compare KING KHAN with BIG B, it is unavoidable. While BIG B received rave reviews for KBC, KING KHAN has off late been the target for all the critical analysis. From giving away his watches to his “Shahrukh mujhe gale laga lo “ hugs ,SRK is trying his best to be different , probably trying to be better.

While the younger (read it as current ) generation has gone ga-ga over these acts done by SRK , the same acts have been termed as over acting by others(read it as older generation).BIG B bought with him a lot of poise to the show with his own style , the way in which he carried himself , the language (purest form of Hindi) that he used and the way he treated the contestants with utmost respect , irrespective of their age.There was a sense of seriousness that prevailed and the contestants were always in awe of BIG B.

SRK has broken all the so called boundaries and limitations to reach out his audience. here is absolutely no doubt in saying that SRK has got with him a lot of energy in KBC. His enthusiasm ,his anxiety, his charm and above all his killing dimple smile has definitely floored a set of audience by their feet.But mind you , guys its only a set of audience. Also the overall outlook and the campaign of the show has changed with a pop song starting the KBC unlike the traditional music.

The main critics turn out to be those who had loads of expectations from SRK and may be who expected that SRK will be a replica of BIG B. We all agree that a change in our life at any front is initially disliked, whether it is for our good or bad .It takes a lot of time for people to get adjusted to the so called change.SRK is now facing a similar problem.

Its not exactly a problem per se. BIG B was and still is a superstar. From nani ji to mami ji to taya ji and chachaji BIG B had the widest range of audience. People loved him for more than one factor, for more than the screen presence he had.

Infact BIG B had recently given a statement of unfair comparision with SRK.Very true .What BIG B had to say was that SRK should be compared to him only when SRK reaches the age of 60 . Pretty true right !!!!!!!!!!!
Best line of KBC 3 which I like the mos t is this:

Back Again

Quite some time since my last post. To be precise about two months and to put in another way my last post came last year december when I was in London.

Off late my enthusiasm for writing something for the blog has come down to a large extent. The reason being the environment around me which can be best put in the words of KHV as a "dynamic world".

From October till January I was in London. Before I left for UK, my state of affairs was no good with whole lot of issues circling around me. In UK also problems did not leave me although I had my share of fun meeting people like Gurmeet and having some good time with Sreeni and Girish. Needless to mention the name of Vinay and Ranjana. Thanks to Ranjana I survived in London.

I came back to India in January hoping for the uncertainty to end but in vain. For a few weeks I was working on some research paper and now these days I spend a lot of my time in doing intra-day trading and observing markets only. Its pretty interesting stuff and makes you understand a lot of things. Have made some money but lost more.

Have some stuff on Calypso to work on but its something which I do not like to do. Let me not bore the readers more with it.

I will be back with some good posts on UK sightseeing and yearly round up within a couple of days, till then enjoy this commentary by Swapna on KBC 3