Friday, November 14, 2008

Sensex History

Bombay Stock Exchange trades in Equity, derivatives & debt.
The BSE SENSEX (BSE 30 index) is a index composed of thirty scrips, with the base set on April 1979 to be  100. The set of companies which make up the index has been changed very few times in the last twenty years. These companies account for 20% of the market capitalization of the BSE.

Sensex Milestones
1979 Sensex set at 100
1990 Sensex crosses 1000
Jan 1992 : 2000 due to liberalisation policies of Manmohan
Feb 1992 : 3000
Mar 1992 : 4000. Harshad Mehta scam hits.
1999 : 5000 BJP comes to power.
2000 : 6000. Infotech boom starts
2005 : 7000 Reliance brothers patchup
Sep 2005 : 8000
Nov 2005 : 9000
Feb 2006 : 10000
Mar 2006 : 11000
Apr 2006 : 12000
Oct 2006 : 13000
Dec 2006 : 14000
July 2007 : 15000
Sep 2007 : 17000
Oct 2007 : 20000
Jan 2008 : 21000
June 2008 : 14000
Jul 2008 : 13000
Oct 2008 : 10500
Today (13 Nov) : 9536



Derivatives are financial contracts. They derive their value from an underlying stuff. This stuff can be anything - for example it can be an asset ( stocks, real estate, loans) or index ( interest rate, Sensex, ) or other stuff ( weather conditions, freight rates etc).

Forward ( when traded on exchange, it is called futures), options and swaps are types of drivatives.

Derivatives are used to lessen the financial risk when underlying stuff changes. 

People pay a premium to another party to insure against their asset losing value.

Inflation derivatives are insurance against inflation risk from one counterparty to another.

Freight derivatives are insurance against future freight hikes.

Derivatives offer leverage. Small movements in the price of underlying assets can bring in huge changes in derivative values.

Swaps are insurance against each other risks. Two parties swap each others risk ( they actually swap each others cash flows)

Futures and Forwards
Futures Contract is a contract, to buy something in the future at a price determined in the present.

Forward contract is similar but less standardized and not regulated and not traded on an exchange and do not require a margin to trade.

When the future price is higher than present price, it is called contango. The reverse is called backwardation.

Hedgers trade in futures as they have a stake in the underlying commodity and try to prevent themselves from risk. Specuators have no stake in the commodity and are just trying to make a quick buck.

Options :
Put Options is a contract to sell a futures contract. Call option is an option to buy a futures contract.
Strike price is the price at which these options are exercised.


Friday, November 07, 2008

More liquidity ratios

Liquidity can be checked with a few more ratios :

Quick ratio / Acid test ratio takes only the most liquid current assets ( cash + A/c receivable), but not inventory and other less liquid current assets.

Quick ratio = Liquid current assets / current liabilities

Tells if a company has enough cash to meet liabilities

If current ratio is significantly higher than Quick ratio it means the company has a lot of low liquid assets.

Cash ratio further refines quick ratio and takes only cash ( not a/c receivable or inventory).

Cash ratio = cash under control / current liabilities

High cash ratio need not be good as it is not productive for a company to hold large cash reserves.


Following the Warren Buffett Way

Was sp impressed by Buffet's philosophy of investing, have started reading about Balance sheets and investing principles. Will post a few articles, summarising what I read everyday.

Balance Sheet
A balance sheet is a snapshot of the company’s financial position at a point in time.

It is organised in two colums . The left column lists what the company owns. The rigth column lists the sources of funds.

assets = liabilities +  equity

Asset types :
Assets can be current assets, which can be converted easily into cash. ( Invoices due, Inventory etc)

Non current assets cannot be quickly converted to cash. ( Goodwill, patents).

Current liabilities : to be paid in a year
Long term liabilities : due after an year

Equity :
Money invested in the business. When retained earnings are reinvested, the equity goes up.

In the asset side, the accounts are listed from most liquid to least liquid. Ditto forliabilities.

We can estimate the liquidity of a company with a variety of ratios :

Liquidity ratios

Current ratio : Current assets / Current liabilities.

Tells if a company has enough current assets to meet current liabilities.

But a high current ratio is not necessarily good - a company which has a sluggish turnover of inventory or whose customers take a long time to pay it, might have a great current ratio.

To dig deeper, we use the CCC.

CCC - cash conversion cycle states how efficiently cash is rolled over.The shorter the cycle, the more liquid the company is...

Or take the number of days it takes to convert inventory to sales , add to it the number of days for sales to get converted to cash. Subtract the number of days in which you pay your suppliers.

DIO : Days inventory outstanding

1. Get per day sales ( total sales / 365)
2. Calculate average inventory throughout year  (beginning inventory + ending inventory)/2 
3. Divide average inventory / per day sales tosee number of days it takes for the inventory to turn over.

DSO : Days sales outstanding

1. Get per day sales ( Tot sales /365)
2. Get average invoices due from customers ( Beginning accounts receivable + ending accounts receivable ) /2
3. Divide average invoices due / per days sales to see how many days the company takes to collect on sales

DOP : Days payment outstanding

1. Get per day sales ( Tot sales / 365)
2. Get average bills due  to suppliers( Beginning accounts payable + ending accounts payable ) /2
3. Divide average bills due / per days sales to see how many days the company takes to pay its suppliers.

Cash conversion cycle = Inventory turnover + Sales outstanding - Payment outstanding


or the company has to convert its inventory to sales, and convert sales to cash and then pay its suppiers.

Increase in DIO would mean a slack demand for company's products.

Shorter CCC means more liquidity and would mean the company is efficiently using resources.Use this in addition with current ratio to check a company's liquidity.

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

1001 Naans

Dinakaran, the Tamil daily is carrying an article on the One page cookbooks tomo and I've made the book available for free download in my cookblog.

So new entries go here, for the timebeing.

Naan : Leavened Asian Flatbread

Naan is the most popular bread in central Asia. It was the breakfast food of the Moghul royalty. Under the name of Nan bya, it is still a popular breakfast food in Burma.

Naan is made from all purpose flour (maida) and uses a leavening agent ( yogurt, yeast, eggs or baking soda) to puff it up from the inside while being baked. This is what makes a naan light and fluffy.

Any thick bread needs a leavening agent. Without it all you get on baking is a hard brick. All the numerous holes you see in whitebread were made by gas generated by leavening agents. Yeast and baking soda are the most popular leavening agents in bread and cakes. It is the humble Yeast gives us delicious breads and all our alcohol. It is no wonder we have been using it for over 6000 years. Yeast breaks up sugar into carbon di oxide and alcohol. It is for this Carbon di oxide Yeast is used in bakeries and it is for alcohol it is used in breweries. Without Yeast, we lose both food and wine ! ( I love it so much that I capitalise it )

Naans come in various shapes and sizes. They may round or triangular, palm sized or table sized, plain or stuffed, They are generally sprinkled with herbs / seeds and brushed with butter / ghee.

The first recorded mention of Naan is in 1300 AD by Amir Khusarau, the greatest Sufi poet, a pillar of Hindustani music, originator of Qawali and famous for his tongue in cheek lines like

My beloved speaks Turkish, and Turkish I do not know;
How I wish if her tongue would have been in my mouth.


Old age and lovemaking do not go together;
But O Khusrau, you still remain a proof against this reasoning.

It was Khusrau who wrote the immortal

Agar firdaus bar roo-e zameen ast,

Hameen ast-o hameen ast-o hameen ast.

If there is a paradise on earth,
It is this, it is this, it is this (India).

It is in Khusrau's works we see the first recorded mention of naan. He writes about naan-e-tanuri, tandoori Naan (tanur : tadoor) and Naan - e -tanuk , light bread.

Stuffed Naans :
Anything which can be shaped into a tight ball can be used to stuff naan. Pinch off a tomato sized ball of dough, roll out into a disc, place a ball of stuffing in the center and gather the edges of the dough, completely enclosing the filling. Now roll it up again into a thick disc and bake.

Kheema Naan filled with mincemeat, peshawari naan is a dessert naan filled with nuts, dates and raisins, aloo naan is stuffed with potatoes & gobi naan with cauliflower. The various possible stuffings are listed in the table next page.

Before baking, the naan can be sprinkled with poppy seeds / nigella ( black onion seeds : kalonji ), cumin or herbs like cilantro.

Though the recipe listed below calls for baking powder, you can use a pinch of active dry yeast instead. Yeast takes a couple of hours to work its magic and so the dough needs to be rested that long. You can also knead in milk / eggs / oil into the dough along with the dough. This makes the naan a complete meal by itself.

Master recipe for Naans

Prepare a base from column 1
Prepare additives as in column 2
Mix base and additives.
Add two pinches each of salt, baking powder and a couple of spoons of yogurt. Add water and knead well. Rest for 10 minutes.
Roll into rounds / triangles and bake in an electric tandoor for two minutes or till brown spots appear.

If a flatbread is light and fluffy , and made chiefly from all purpose flour, it can be safely called a naan.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Leavening agents...

I used to think Baking soda and Baking Powder were one and the same -
how wrong !

Baking soda is an alkali. When mixed with an acid ( Buttermilk, Yogurt ,
lemon juice/ vinegar), it gives off carbon di oxide. Baking soda will
not work without an acidic ingredient.

Baking powder is a blend of acid and alkali. So it does not depend on
external acid for rising dough.

Double acting baking powder( the most commonly used version) releases
gas on contact with water and again on heating. ( That is why you should
sift baking soda with flour well before adding water). Good baking
powder should bubble as soon as water is added to it. If ti does not,
toss it out. ( Similarly good yeast should start bubbling in 5-10
minutes when added to some water - sugar mixture. Adding salt reduces
the growth of yeast)

As baking powder has an inbuilt acid,avoid adding more acid ( buttermilk
etc). More acid reduces the gas produced.

At high altitudes, gas expands more and so less baking powder is enough.

Whipped egg whites trap air in bubbles, which expand on heating, thus
mimicking the action of other leavening agents. Crushed ice serves the
same purpose.

Showering in the campervan

For the past few days, I've spent most of my time in my campervan. I've slowly beginning to accept it as a living space, instead of a locomotive device. It has been an enjoyable experience.

Learnt another tip today - the Navy shower. This technique teaches you how to shower with very little water. Fresh water is at a premium in Naval ships and sailors have to go to great lengths to minimise the use of fresh water. The Navy shower was born out of this necessity.

  1. Turn on the water
  2. Wet the body
  3. Turn off the water
  4. Soap up and scrub body
  5. Turn the water back on and rinse off the soap

    With a handheld sprayer, I guess you can just spray yourself all over, soap, spray again  a couple of times and wipe off with a towel.  This should use up less than half a litre of water. Sounds good in theory !

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Volcanoes & Earthquakes Primer

Did a chart for Ravi's daughter . Found some new interesting stuff too..

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Pressure cooking eggs..

Learnt another time saving technique yesterday. To make easy hard boiled
eggs you just need to pressure cook for 1 whistle. i suspect a dozen
eggs can be cooked this way at once, though I cooked just 5 ( and they
were overdone). Would be a handy tip while cooking outdoors where you
have to have a lot of food cooked up in a jiffy.

Cooking for a crowd

Cooked for over 7 guys yesterday. It is actually easy if a few simple
principles are followed.

1. Get the base ready - Kneaded half a kg of maida and it is enough for
6-7 guys. This can be made into chappatis, parathas or stuffed parathas.
Once the kneaded dough is ready it takes just a couple of minutes to
cook up a flatbread.

2. Prepare onion-tomato base. Once this base is cooked and ready, it can
be used to cook up a wide variety of side dishes / gravies or snacks.
Sauitee chicken, mix with the gravy, add some readymade chicekn masala
and chicken is ready in under 10 minutes. Replace chicken with paneer/
cauliflower and you either have a gravy or dry curry ready in under 10

3. Have some milk / curd.
To round off a meal, a variety of milkshakes / lassi / buttermilk can be
made fast - even without a mixie. Just pour the necessary stuff into a
tall glass and shake till they are blended.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Pita Bread

Made my first pita bread today. Realised how versatile this bread can be.

Recipe: Make regular chappati dough but remember to add some baking powder as this will puff the bread up and make a pocket.

Roll it into thickish rounds and cook on a hot skillet. The bread with puff up after a while. Toasting it over naked flame will puff it up even bigger. Remove from fire, cool and cut into two semi circles. Slit them open and you have two pockets which can be filled with almost anything.


Coat the insides with ghee/ butter/ mayonnaisse/ cheese
Tahini/ Olive oil. Line with lettuce / cabbage . This prevents the filling from soaking
through the bread. Now fill the pocket with salad poriyals /cheese / hummus/ chicken or almost anything you can imagine.

Add ketchup on top, fold a tissue paper around the bread and serve.

Pita can be made in advance and refrigerated. While serving, pitas can be toasted in an oven / skillet / microwave.

Last week was parotta week, when I satisfactorily mastered the flaky parota making skill. This week would be Pita Week. One of these days this would appear in the Rotiwala menu.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Cooking fast...

You can cook in less time than you take to reach a restaurant. I've long
believed it, and I decided to time myself today. This week has been
parotta week and I'm thrilled that I've cracked the parotta problem -
how to make flaky parottas at home, without any manual skill. So I
decided to make parotta and kuruma.

Ready, set go !

Heat a skillet, pour some oil. Chop onions tomatoes, crush garlic, cut
up ginger. Add cumin and nigella to kadai. Add onions, tomatoes.
Total time elapsed : 4 minutes.

Add some boiled dal, salt, chili powder, turmeric powder and garam
masala. Let simmer for a couple of minutes :
Total time elapsed : 10 minutes.

Kneading half a kg of atta takes 5 minutes and half a kg of maida takes
4 minutes.

Half a kg is enough to make six large parottas. You can live on half a
kg of flour for 2 days.

I estimate rolling out the parottas and cooking them might take 5
minutes. So there you go - in less than 20 minutes you can have steaming
hot flaky parottas and lovely kuruma cooked up !

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Starting on sweets...

I've not cooked desserts as I thought they were time consuming and messy. How wrong ! Had four packets of milk leftover and decided to cook rasgullas- with the taste of the soft spongy K.C.Das rasgulla that I had in Calcutta a decade ago still fresh in my mind..

Once the basic principles are understood, it is very tough to go wrong. I've never made these sweets before, but these came out perfectly edible.

The Principle :
Bengalis rule the world of milk sweets because they learnt and accepted the principle of 'spoiling' or curdling milk to extract milk solids. Curdling milk intentionally is alien to most Indian cuisines and is seen as a mistake - not one you intentionally do. To this date, most Indian language have a distinct negative connotation to curdling - that is apart from Bengal and Orissa, where sweets made from milk solids were popular.

Legend has it that the rasagulla was traditionally made in the Puri temple, from where it moved with the brahmins to West Bengal, where it soon became very popular.

The basic principle of most milk sweets is simple : curdle the milk and separate the milk solids. Further cook the milk solids with sugar.

For rasagulla, the milk solids are kneaded into a smooth dough, and cooked in hot sugar syrup. I've listed two ways of cooking up rasgullas below :

The long way
Boil milk on a gentle flame, skimming off the skin as it forms on the surface. Add lemon juice to make milk curdle. Filter the solids.Cool and knead well to the consistency of chappati dough. Kneading is the key to supersoft rasgullas. Shape into small tight balls.

Boil a cup of sugar in 1.5 cups of water. Add cheese balls to the syrup and pressure cook for one whistle. Cool and let the balls soak in the syrup.

The short way.
Buy a block of readymade paneer and blend it into a smooth paste. Add a spoon of maida and a couple of pinches of baking powder. Knead into a smooth dough. Shape into small tight balls and boil in sugar syrup as above.

Variations: Try using various cheeses ( ricotta, mozarella, cheddar..), mixing them with flour, if they do not hold their shape.

Related sweets
Make the balls double normal size and they are called Rajbhog.

Let the cooked balls soak in thick sweetened milk and it becomes Roshomalai.

Mix some orange extract with the milk solids before kneading and you get Komola bhog.

Sponge rasgulla :
Knead the milk solids with a bit of maida and baking powder to puff up the balls while cooking and you get sponge rasgulla

Get comfortable cooking with paneer and a whole world of sweets is waiting to be discovered.

Blend paneer, sugar and corn flour together. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes. Coat with nut crumbs / dry fruits. Shape, refrigerate and serve.

Mishti Doi
Boil milk till reduced to half.
Heat a pan and add sugar. Cook on low heat till sugar caramalizes. Mix well with milk. Add yogurt and let the magic begin.

Cham Cham
Cook exactly as you do rasgullas. While serving garnish with slivers of nuts/ dry fruits and serve.

Boil milk till reduced to half, add blended paneer, sugar and keep stirring till it thickens. Set in a tray. Garnish and serve. (No need to knead cheese.)

Hang curd to drain off all water.Mix with sugar, saffron and cardamom. Churn. Garnish with dry fruits.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

God, Morality and International Law

Is God moral ?
Does God stand above morality, defining for us what is moral and what is immoral in accordance with His will? If so, whatever God does is moral. If God is bound by moral rules, then He is not omnipotent as certain immoral actions would be beyond him.

I believe it is morally wrong to physically impose one's will upon other life. Taking this point to its extreme, it is morally wrong to slaughter life.

God imposes 'right' and 'wrong' on all humanity, and does not bother with other forms of life ( 'giving man dominion over all other life to do as he pleases'). God in the Bible routinely slaughters, encourages incest, rape cannibalism , sacrifices and revels in eternal torture.

Is God really satan ?
Satan in contrast, gives the fruit of knowledge to Eve. God does not want this to happen, as He insists on blind obedience. So He punishes not only Eve, but the rest of humanity, forever. Satan does not commit any act even remotely approaching the cruelty of God.

If Hitler had won the war, we no doubt would have deified him and have treated him at par with Mae zedong or Stalin, who committed equally henious crimes.  So did satan really win the war and suceed in becoming God, convincing us to accept the real God as Satan ?

Morality and Natural selection
Morality is a product of human evolution. Almost anything that lets our race flourish is considered moral and those that do not are immoral.

The emphasis is on 'our'. For centuries 'our' race was defined as those sharing our beliefs, food, customs, Gods and way of life.

It now has to include all of humanity and later all life- possibly even non-life, as I believe morality is about how an action makes you feel in addition to what good or harm it causes .

The tamil poet Vallalar's immortal lines " vadiya payirai kanda podhallam ulam vadinen" ( I wilted when I saw wilted plants)- is closer to my idea of morality than the ten commandments or other such restrictions.

God and the Principles of International Law
 ( Source : Charter of the Nüremberg Tribunal - shorn of legalese and edited)

    Principle I - A person committing a crime as defined by the International Law is liable to be punished.

    Principle II - If this law does not specify a punishment, that does not mean that the corresponding crime can be committed.

    Principle III - No one is exempt from this law, be it kings or heads of state. ( or God ?)

    Principle IV - Even those 'merely following orders' are not exempt from this law.

    Principle V - All those charged have a right to fair trial.

    Principle VI - Punishable crimes are Crimes against peace, War crimes and crimes against humanity.

    Principle VII - Just complying with the above crimes itself is a crime.

According to these Principles, God, Church and most religious leaders do not stand a chance !

Friday, June 22, 2007

A long, long, time ago....

Long long time ago, 1500 crore years back to be exact, there was a big
bang, bigger than any bang you can imagine. There was nothing before the
bang and after it appeared everything needed to build our universe -
matter, space and time.

For the next 100 crore years, nothing much happened and suddenly
thousands of stars started popping up all over the place. It took
another 900 crore years before our sun could gather enough material and
spring into life.

There was no earth yet. Another 30 crore years went by before clumps of
dirt stuck together into bigger and bigger lumps and formed a ball which
would one day become the Earth. Before Earth could gather its wits, it
was body slammed by a planet half its size . A huge amount of matter was
thrown into space and Earth had a ring like Saturn does today. For
millions of years the matter in this ring slowly clumped together
patiently forming the moon.

Meantime the Earth was busy producing life. 200 crore years after Earth
formed, the first cells arose. They started becoming more and more
complex and moved out of the sea. 170 crore years after the first cells,
the first land animals were born. Within another 6 crore years Earth had
Dinosaurs, which would rule Earth for the next 15 crore years. There was
a long wait of another 6 crore years during which time a variety of
mammals evolved and a less-hairy upright mammal, which would one day
become human, evolved from Chimpanzees.

For the next 47 lakh years humans evolved, learnt to use tools and fire
and the Neanderthal man was here. For the next 3 lakh years humans
spread across the globe, braving the ice age which occurred towards the
end of this period.

8000 years after the last Ice age, large civilizations arise and the
first pyramids are built. 3000 years after the pyramids, the Moghuls
under Babur invade India, setting up the Moghul rule.
450 years later, after suffering under various kings and the British,
India wins Independence. 57 years later this author traces our journey
from the Big Bang.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A Better perspective

Here's another way to appreciate the immense distances and sizes of objects in our galaxy. (Images gathered from various sources and photoshopped together).

Putting Astronomical distances in perspective...

In space distances are vaaaaast. An atlas gives us a very distorted view
of the solar system because it is impossible to show the sizes or
distances to scale.

This picture makes an attempt to show the sizes to scale.

Let us now understand how large the distances actually are...

Let us assume the distance from Earth to Sun is 1 cm.
( The actual distance is 15 crore Km)

At this units, our spacecrafts can travel one inch per year.

Earth to Moon distance is just .001 cm ( roughly the thickness of a
hair) ( Travel time = 2 days)

It costs a lot to transport material from Earth to Space. If you
want to courier a parcel to moon, it would cost you Rs. 6 lacs/ Kg.

Earth to Mars : Half an inch : 6 months travel time

Earth to Jupiter = 2 inches :: 2 years travel time

Earth to Nepture = 1 foot ( Voyager took 12 years to pass Neptune)

Our solar system is a foot in radius. It will take us 12 years to move
out of our solar system.

Our nearest star Proxima centauri is 2 miles away.

The nearest Earth like planet is 10 miles away. It will take us quite
sometime to get there !

The American Zombie

Excerpts from an excellent article... (emphasis mine)

Millions of Americans spend their lives semi-conscious, unable to awaken from the darker version of the American Dream – an endless parade of office buildings, meetings, shopping malls, and television commercials.

Instead of pursuing purpose, we pursue material things: plasma televisions, new cars, and granite countertops. We work at jobs we hate so we can buy things we do not need. We exchange our souls for empty production and consumption.

We are controlled by media. Our electronic sorceress( TV) orders us out into the world to bring back more of everything: cosmetic surgery, shiny appliances, expensive meals, weight-loss pills, hardwood floors. The messages sent are simple and menacing:

    * You are not pretty enough.
    * You are not good enough.
    * You do not own enough.

We slowly rise from our comfortable sofas and leave the flickering darkness, stumbling into the streets to satiate our hunger. We shamble through the isles of Home Depot and Lowes because our 3-bedroom homes (quite large by global standards) just aren’t nice enough. In the harsh lighting of the Gap and Aeropostale, we search for clothing to make us feel better. We shuffle mindlessly through car lots searching for a vehicle to reflect our identity. Are we Ford tough? Are we Lexus smooth? But the zombie has no identity, for the zombie is a shell, identical to all the other shells in Sunday suits with wallets thrust forward, mouths hanging open.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

BMX Mania

I'm amazed the kind of stuff boys do on a BMX bicycle - they leap,
slide, jump and seem to go over almost anything. I've decided to buy one
to see if I can at least jump a foot ( over pesky road dividers). The
bike is also very portable and so can accompany me on suburban electric
trains. Take a train to chengalpet, cycle to vedanthangal, pitch a tent
and stay overnight, and take the train back to Chennai the next morning.

I've learnt to comfortably cycle up to 20 Kms at a stretch, without
exerting myself. I'm fantasizing about the day when I have two bicycles
mounted on my caravan parked near a scenic spot (Ooty/ Rajasthan), from
where my friend and I would set out exploring, checking out the local
sights, eating at roadside joints, and generally blend in with wherever
we are. This is tough to do when you are carbound.

Let's see if a BMX would set me free....

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Food, Clothing and Shelter

Epicurus , Martin Seligman and many others emphasize once the basic needs of food , clothing and shelter are taken care of, money does not buy additional happiness. After my retirement, these are the areas I focussed on...

Food :
Learning to cook has been very rewarding. I've stopped eating out ( unless the cooking is extraordinary) - and the thought that world cuisine is just a googling away is a comforting thought. It has also given me great pleasure to teach / cook for friends and family.

Clothing :
It has been ages since I spent over Rs.200 on clothing. I've shifted to Bermudas as a symbol of my retirement two years ago, and have worn formal trousers only on a handful of occasions ( and hated everytime I did it). You get great denim shorts / casual shirts for as low as Rs.40, if you know where to look. With my garment industry exposure I know to sort the duds from the excellent ones.

I get my Tshirts, undies  made at my factory and it costs me next to nothing.

56 Sq feet + a 15 Sq ft = 71 Sq ft is all I require to live, work and entertain friends. Everyday , without exception , my studio is filled with friends and I would'nt trade this tiny bit of heaven for anything else.

Shelter .... 2
I have another 70 Sq ft of mobile space as I converted a Tempo Traveller into a caravan with a kitchen, toilet, drawing room and driver's cabin. Today we faced a power shutdown and I spent the whole morning in my caravan - where I have no power cuts ! Jayaraman and Ravi loved it !

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Cycle Jayaraman, (the man who introduced me to the pleasures of cycling,
and who took me on a cycling trip from Chennai to Tirupur - I gave up
after 120 Kms - but that's another story) was raving about momos he had
during his Himalayan trek. I decided to do them.

Momos are nothing but Kozhukattai, made from maida instead of rice
flour. They are very popular in the North East , probably due to the
Chinese influence. China never discovered baking ( or probably did not
use it as it uses up too much fuel) but steamed breads instead . These
are called Dim Sums and are very popular. These are rice flour or wheat
flour based Kozhukattais, filled with a variety of meat/ vegetables.

Momo is just a Dimdum and easy to make. Knead maida into a dough, roll
it into a small, thin disc, place filling and envelop it with the dough.
Steam it in a idli cooker ( or a Dim Sum steamer) without the weight,
for around 10 minutes. Serve with a hot Chutney. Took me about 20
minutes to make and the four momos I made disappeared in a flash.

Assembly line Rice cooker

Travel & Living channel showed the way Udupi temple prepares lunch for
50,000 people .

Cooking on such a scale is done in huge vats. This batch process seems
inefficient to me. And what if an insect fell into the vat ( very
possible since the kitchens, though divine, are certainly not hygienic)?
Do you make the devotees wait for hours before another batch is cooked up ?

An easier solution might be to move from a batch process to a continuous
process. Something like a pizza oven where the dough sheet covered with
cheese goes in at one end of the oven and comes out as a pizza from the
other end.

Volume foolds like Idli, rice, dal etc can all be cooked in a similar
fashion. You have a conveyer belt running through a steaming box. cups
of rice go in at one end and emerge as cooked rice at the other end. The
speed of the belt can be changed depending on whether you are cooking
idli, rice or dal.

This might be hygienic, efficient and space saving. All large hotel
chains would want one.

First rejection Slip

Rupa & Co are not too impressed by my one page cookbooks. but they were
decent enough to send it back, with a personal covering letter .

I'd secretly thought any publisher would jump at the thought of
publishing these, but am prepared to sit through atleast a hundred such

So one down and 99 more to go !

First rejection Slip

Rupa & Co are not too impressed by my one page cookbooks. but they were
decent enough to send it back, with a personal covereing letter .

I'd secretly thought any publisher would jump at the thought of
publishing these, but am oprepared to sit through atleast a hundred such

So one down and 99 more to go !

Sour cream to die for...

I learnt to make yogurt the last month with the delicious 'valarmathi'
curd. It was simplicity itself. Add curd to lukewarm milk - that's it !
All through Summer, I must have drunk litres of buttermilk each day,
after learning this technique.

Fresh made buttermilk is a great refresher. Just add a few spoons of
curd to a tumbler with a lid, add salt and shake all together. Coming
back from a vigorous game of badminton, drenched with sweat and having a
tall cool glass of fresh buttermilk is as close you get to heaven !

A couple of days back, when the curd looked thick, I decided to thicken
it further - by filtering out all water. I took a thin towel, poured the
curd in and gently squeezed all the water out. What I got was sour cream
- with a texture exactly like fresh butter but with the unmistakable
taste of curd.

I served it with Rumali roti to Bai and Ravi - who were flabbergasted -
They've never tasted anything like it. Jayaraman pronunced it delicious
and Cycle Jayaraman, who boasted about the thick curd he'd eaten in the
himalayas did not have any comment - but appeared suitably impressed.

I gave it to ma with some eradymade MTR badam milkshake popwder mixed
it. It became Shrikand - a dish I've always wanted to eat !

I ate it the next day mixed with some powdered sugar - really does taste
delicious !

Next Post - learning to make Roomali Roti and Momo.


Learning to cook an old dish in a new , easy way is sure fun.

Kothu Parota is a often eaten dish in my studio, with Siva being an
ardent loyalist. Parotas were complicated dishes requiring great manual
dexeterity in spreading the dough, or so I thought. Today, when Giri
asked for a parota and the corner shop did not have anything ready I
decided to do it myself.

The french open was on and Federer was clashing with an unknown in the
last 8. During a commercial break I kneaded 3 handfuls of maida with a
handful of atta. I let it rest for a couple of commercial breaks.

For the kuruma, all I had was cabbage and onion. chopped them up, fried
some cumin in oil, added the vegetables and sauteed them. Added some
salt, chili powder and garam masala, a glass of water and half a handful
of readymade grated coconut. I let it cook for a couple fo commercial
breaks till siva commented about the lovely smell . Added some bajji
mavu mixed with water to thicken the kuruma ( I'd run out of gram flour).

Next I rolled out the dough into a thin sheet, smeared it liberally with
oil, cut it up with a pizza cutter into a dozen squares. I stacked the
squares one over another and rolled it again into a thick disc. Cooked
it with more oil. Once ready, I crumbled it by smashing it together with
the base of my palms, just like they do in the corner shop. Lovely flaky
parotas were ready. Giri, Siva and Ravi wolfed it down !

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Cooking Fish

I used to think fish is fish, and once you've learnt to cook one, you've learnt to cook them all. Apparently I'm wrong.

I came upon a blindingly simple tip to cook fish :

If fish has fat, do not add more fat. ( avoid frying / cooking with a lot of oil)

If a fish has low fat, avoid cooking it without fat ( Baking/ grilling).

African cuisine :: Notes to myself

Africans like their soups/ stews slimy. Sliminess comes from dried, powdered leaves of Boabob tree or from Okra powder.

In some recipes Rice is cooked in coconut water. ( Instead of cooking rice in plain water, cooking it in coconut water / stock adds much more flavour to rice).

Maize was introduced in the 1700's and has become a staple food.

Black eyed peas are the most common lentils.

Surprisingly Ghee is used in many african cuisines. I thought it is not used outside India.

Ground nut oil/ Palm oil are popular cooking mediums.

Sudanese Recipes

Came across an excellent site with Sudanese recipes.

It is always exciting to see how different cultures mix and match.

Gorraasa :: Godumai dosai
Wheat flour + baking powder + water + salt : cooked into a dosai

Dama : (Onion Tomato Chuthey with cardamom, cinnamon and garlic)
Cook onions, tomatoes, green chilies . Add salt, cardamom, cinnamon. Simmer. Add crushed garlic. Best with Gorrasa.(Dama is usually cooked with chopped beef )

Dama be Potaatas
Add fried potatoes to the above stew .

Soak and pressure Cook Rajma till soft.Mash coarsely. Add chopped tomato,dates, sesame oil,
onion, chili, fried egg, salt, feta cheese ( or paneer), chili powder.

Prepare Fuul as above. Put pieces of bread in a bowl and pour Fuul over it.

Aseeda :: Thick Ragi Koozhu
Add 1/2kg flour, 1/2 litre of water and yeast into bowl and mix together. Leave in warm place for 5 hours to rise. Boil 1 litre of water with salt. When water is boiling, add aseeda mixture and mix with a wooden spoon. Once thickened (add more flour if dough is too thin), add 1/2 cup of water and simmer until bubbling.Pour into bowl, and let stand until cool and thick. Turn upside down and plonk onto plate to serve, covering with a sauce such as tagalia. ( Made from Rye flour, but substitute Ragi/ chola mavu)

Tagalia : Onion Tomato chutney with Okra powder.
Fry onions. Make Paste. Add tomato paste. Addcrushed garlic and balck pepper. Add okra powder. (Traditionally this is cooked with mincemeat).

Kissra :( A new way of cooking dosai.)
Mix with water to a thin paste and keep for a day. Add oil to an inverted wok, put a blob, sperad thin with mobile top up card. Fry, peel off and stack. ( Original recipe calls for 3 parts rye flour : 1 part wheat flour )

Naeamia be wayka ( Slimy Onion tomato curry)
Fry onions. Add tomatoes. Simmer. Add yogurt, black pepper, salt and garlic. Add okra powder. Serve with Aseeda or kissra.

Naeamia be wayka ( onion- Tomato curry with peanut butter)
Add peanut butter to the above instead of okra powder.

Boil milk. Add baking powder and heat till it becomes yellow.Add okra powder and stir till slimy.
Optionally add sugar. Serev with Kissra.

Kissra be Omregayga
Heat ol. Add beef / chicken. Stir and Brown. Add water. COver and cook for an hour. Take out meat and fry it. Add okra powder. Add fried garlic. Serve with Kissra and fried meat.

Pasta Bake
Cook Pasta. Add butter, tomato paste , salt and green chilies. Grate cheese on top. Add ketchup.
Bake til top is crispy.

Sudani Rice
Fry rice in oil/ butter for a couple of minutes. Add salt. Optionally add a pinch of turmeric,
coriander powder or cardamom powder.Cover and cook.

Khoodra Mafrooka
Heat pan. brown onions and meat ( chicken or beef). Add water. Cover and cook for an hour till meat cooks. Take out meat and fry in oil.Add chopped spinach to remaining onions, add baking powder and cook. Blend. Add crushed garlic and pepper. Serve with gorraasa/ Kissra and fried meat.

Blend peanuts with water into a thin paste. Chop spinach. Cook in chicken stock till
dry. Add peanut butter. Add salt. Eat with bread.

Beetroot Salata
Chop beetroot, carrot, tomatoes, chilies, Spring onions. Add vinegar, lemon, sesame oil & salt.

Jeer Jeer Salata
Chop cucumber, tomatoes, spring onions, rocket leaves. Add lemon juice and salt. (Add feta cheese ( sub : paneer) and it becomes Jibna salata)

Salata Aswad
Roast and peel eggplant. Mix peanut butter with lemon juice.Add eggplant and mash. Add vinegar, cumin powder, salt, pepper and crushed garlic.

Salata Aswad be Zabadi
Peel chop and fry eggplant. Mix tomato paste, yogurt, peanut butter and salt. Add lemon. Add
pepper and garlic. Mix with fried eggplants.


Monday, June 04, 2007

Alain de Botton

It is always a pleasure discovering a new author. I discovered Alain de Botton through his Architecture of happiness - an amazingly insightful book an why we build what we build. It changed the way I look at buildings forever.

My library had another of his books, and it is even more readable - The consolation of philosophy. I've always wanted to read philosophy but was never able to appreciate the serious philosophers. After numerous attempts I gave up on Will Durant's History of Philosophy. ( Bertrand Russell was an exception - lucid, logical and a delight to read). Alain de Botton is even more readable.

I've been long puzzled by the fact that wealth does not make people happier, though that's the general assumption driving the economy. Alain talks about it and quotes Epicurious - the Pleasure philosopher - one of the rare breed who spent his life in philosophising about what gives us happiness.

Alain argues most of us are incapable of understanding what makes us happy - We've been so conditioned by parents, peers, society that we are led to believe a bigger car / house / promotion/ fame / Power etc etc would give us happiness. Time after time, it has been shown they do not - but that does not stop us from trying.

Epicurious lists what really makes us happy - Friends, Freedom , Thought ( about the main sources of anxiety ), . Of course, basic food, shelter and clothes are essential, but after they are provided for, any increase in wealth does not translate to an increase in happiness ( Martin Seligman's survey, reconfirms what Epicurious said 2000 years ago).

Monday, August 15, 2005

Who is wealthy ?

The source of all wealth is the amount of energy it is able to control. So wealth can be thought of in terms of energy - the larger the energy you are able to invoke, the wealthier you are. In spite of its huge debts , the US is the wealthiest nation on earth because it is able to harness the greatest energy.

All source of Earth's energy is our Sun. And the earth receives just a million billionth of the Sun's energy. The Sun acts as the ultimate lender , allowing people on earth to hoard a little or a lot of its energy as wealth. Bill Gates and Larry Page might have a minute percentage of the sun's energy hoarded up as a few billion dollars, and a person like me might have an even insignificant percent of sun's energy as my bank balance. The Sun if switched off, can just wipe the accumulated wealth of all earth in a very short while. So the wealthiest as well as the poorest on earth are dependent on constant loan from the sun.

Looked this way, the inequalities do not appear so glaring.

Rather than fight for a small slice the pie ( a million billionth of Sun's energy), Science has been steadily trying to increase the size of the pie. Scientists talk about Type 1 , Type 2 and Type 3 civilizations which harness the energy output of a Planet, Star and a galaxy respectively. A type 2 extra terrestrial civilization, for instance can build a spherical shell around its star, completely harvesting all its energy, thus making its citizens vastly wealthier than the wealthiest citizens of Earth.

Thus, the poorest individual of a type 2 civilization would be vastly richer than Bill Gates. Not very surprising since the average American today is far richer than an African tribal chief.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The happiness pollution

From an email to Ramesh after a long discussion of the amount of money people are willing to blow up to keep them 'happy'.

Why does Venky believe blowing up 20K per night on a hotel room is ok and Raju is dissatisfied with a 1 lac pm job ?

Most people are hellbent on increasing their prosperity. As all these people try to upgrade their standards of living, the invisible hand of the market obliges by enmeshing them in an ever larger, ever denser web of investment and production. You have bigger, costlier hotels, rasams at 200 rupees a bowl and jam packed Mariott hotels.

What drives the world ?

Human nature itself, the deep desire to amass resources, to keep up with the neighbours, and if possible, to leave them in the dust, drives the huge economic engine that is transforming the world.

Are you satisfied with what you've become in life ? That depends on how your neighbour/relative/friend/colleague is faring. And this oneupmanship is what is driving the world economy. Scary ain't it ?

There are two ways you can increase your happiness - one way diminishes the happiness of others and the other boosts the happiness of others.

The happiness that pollutes....
When you score one up over your neighbour/colleague/friend, your increased happiness is at his cost. He feels miserable. This has been proven in quite a few surveys. This is an expensive way to be happy as you need to posses the biggest/curviest/costliest stuff to heep you high. Even Raju's 2 lac pm pay won't keep him happy as soon as he learns his friend earns double that. Venky would feel miserable about a relative who vacations at London.

Social status = Breeding rights

Evolution has hardwired our minds are hardwired to equal social status with reproductive success. In Darwinian terms, if you are not higher up on the totem pole than your peer group, you don't get to breed. There is only one top spot on the totem pole. Social status is a finite resource, and anyone’s gain must come at someone else’s expense.

That is why even when millions of americans become temporarily happy after having bought their yacht's/SUV's the net happiness of the country has actually decreased over the past 40 years. Pursuing happiness through monetary gain is essentially a zero-sum game. Your temporary gain is someone else's temporary loss.

Do Gold taps and Whale penises make you happy ?

The Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, insisted that the taps on his yacht be made of solid gold and that the yacht’s bar stools be covered with the ultrasoft foreskin of a whale’s penis. Let us assume that Onassis impressed people enough to raise his social status, and his sense of well-being. To the extent that he succeeded, he lowered the relative social standing of rival shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos. In Greek society as a whole, there was no net utilitarian gain. Humanity is famous for pursuing things, such as power and riches, that don’t bring lasting happiness.

Are the rich crazy ?

This is why the rich work so hard at getting richer even if it isn’t making them any happier and actually is making a few of them crazier. In a sense, their behaviour is not as irrational as it sounds.

Much of what gratifies people about higher income is that it boosts their relative standing in society. To the extent that this is true -- that our happiness comes from comparing our station in life with that of other people -- then within a society, one person’s gain is another person’s loss.

The finite happiness pie
Raju/Venky , in scrapping for income and status, in working overtime to afford that Ford Explorer, may be jostling for pieces of a more-or-less finite happiness pie. They might actually be better off by taking time off to spend with their friends/family. Those who pursue happiness via money and status are playing a zero-sum game. And they cannot afford to cut back. If you cut back on your work hours, your income and status might slip; you could lose an increment of happiness to a rival. That is the paradox: If everyone in an affluent society cut back on their work so their relative incomes didn’t change, they could all spend more time with friends -- and the society's overall happiness would grow.

Yet it may not be in the best interest of any one person to take the initiative. What we need is a way to halt the individually rational but collectively futile status-seeking arms race and use the time to pursue happiness more wisely.

Minimizing the happiness pollution
The alternative is simple. When you decide to focus on things which do not need comparision to make you feel good ( reading/writing/spending time with friends(not bragging), giving stuff away to make you happy rather than accumulating more to make yoyu happy etc) you do not cause happiness pollution. And this way to attain happiness is almost free.

Less and less bang for your buck.

Money does indeed bring happiness, till a certain point. As with all things, the bang you receive for your buck steadily decreases. The first handful of roasted cashew would taste like heaven - the 50th won't. The utility value of almost anything steadily decreases as you accumulate more and more of the stuff. Money is no exception. Once you attains a fairly comfortable standard of living, more income brings little, if any, additional happiness.

So babs .. that's all there to it. It is good you are off the treadmill. Stay that way and don't get caught in the arms race even if you get a couple of lacs at Planet Asia. And it is not me speaking - it is Martin Seligman .

More on it here...

So much more to find out....

Science Mag talks about the biggst questions to keep us busy for the next few hundred years. I've tried commenting on some them below...

> What Is the Universe Made Of?
It looked simple - Hydrogen which eventually cooked up all the visible matter. Then scientists tell us that the visible matter accounts for less than 15% of the mass of the Universe. The rest is thought to be 'dark' matter - whatever that means.

> What is the Biological Basis of Consciousness?
What distinguishes humans from a collection of cells ? Consciousness ? Soul ? Or just a collection of memories ? Does a zygote have a soul ? Or is it created when the first memories are laid down ?

> Why Do Humans Have So Few Genes?
Earlier it was thought humans have over 100,000 genes. We now know it takes less than 25,000 to spec out a human. We actually have a hundred times more in our chromosomes -mostly junk, and old forgotten copies like the old files cluttering up your hard disk.

> Can the Laws of Physics Be Unified?
Quantum theory deals with the very small. Relativity deals with the very large. Both are surprisingly accurate and yet not unified into one theory yet.

> How Much Can Human Life Span Be Extended?
There is only so much copies you can take from an original. Every second our body is built anew and the process becomes less efficient over time. Will transferring our memories to a storage medium and relying on prosthetics allow us to live forever ? Or would we learn to biologically alter our bodies to keep the going for a few centuries more ?

> Are we Alone in the Universe?
Or universes ? It is very likely we are not alone. With countless stars and countless universes, it would be amazing if only we have won the cosmic jackpiot.

> What Can Replace Cheap Oil -- and When?
Oil is a crude solution to keep the world going. Messy, polluting and noisy. Elegant solutions like Trees ( relying on solar power) or nuclear fusion might just be a few decades away.

Is ours the only universe?
Possibly not. If one universe can pop out of nothing, trillions of others can pop up too. Our universe need not be the only 'chosen one'.

What is the nature of black holes?
Black holes are the place where the two large theories of physics collide - The quantum theory and the theory of relativity. WHat exactly happens is unclear and probably will remain unclear till we hit upon an unified theory.

What is gravity?
How is it transmitted ? Do 'gravitons' exist ? Can it be blocked/bent/reflected ? no one knows.

Can we predict how proteins will fold?
Imagine a large beaded elastic band, with beads of varying sizes. Once the stretching fore is removed, the elastic band curls up into one shape from the millions available to it. As the shape of a protein molecule is crucial in its functioning, we need to understand what shapes are possible and why.

Why are some genomes really big and others quite compact?
The puffer fish genome is 400 million bases; one lungfish's is 133 billion bases long. Are these extra genomes merely junk ? Does'nt more information equal more complexity ?

What is all that "junk" doing in our genomes?
Our chromosomes are packed with junk, acquired over a few hundred million years of evolution. How long can junk continue to accumulate and is there an auto-purge mechanism to clean out this junk ?

Can cancers be controlled rather than cured?
Can you quarantine them ? Or starve them off by blocking their supplies ?

Why do we sleep?
Is it just to keep us immobile and safe in the dark ? Or does it give time for our brains to sort and file information ?

Why do we dream?
Scientists believe that brain activity during REM sleep--when dreams occur--is crucial for learning. So is the brain trying out various simulation exercises and remembers the successful outcomes ?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The age ofthe Non Entity

Just saw Russel Crowe being handcuffed and frog marched to a US prison for assaulting a hotel employee because he could not get a line through to his wife in Australia.

Other news stories about Michael Jackson's pecadillos, Pari's Hilton's videos etc come to my mind. Aren't these people 'special' ? Should'nt they be able to control the environment to make it easier for them to indulge in their whims like assaulting 'menials' or seducing young boys or taping their love bouts without fear of facing public scrutiny ? Alas, they were born too late. A couple of centuries too late. They now live in the Age of theNon Entity in which celebrities or the super rich are impotent and it is the non entities who actually rule.

This is the age of the non entity. The first of its kind in the world. Here those with real power are the non entities. In this changed world, the rules are different too. It is not the rare which is precious, but the common. It is not fame which is precious but anonymity. The powerful forces of democracy and technology have for the first time produced the age of the non entity.

More on this later....

How culture and traditions evolve

We try to live in a changed world with an old set of rules. This causes much stress and frustration.

Every society tries to find solutions to problems it faces. But these solutions over time acquire the halo of culture and tradition. They are no longer fit solutions and most people even forget the problems these solutions were designed to solve. Instead, thesearchaic solutions stay on, because "that's what we have always done".

Societies are notoriously slow in evolving solutions, and even slower to let them go. Marriage, for example, is a solution to the problem of " how do we ensure the next generation of humanity is raised well ". In this era of same sex marriages and living together, society is still struggling to modify this solution.

There are two ways to speed up new solutions. One is to go with the solution and one is to go against it. Going against the solution of marriage means patiently challenging it in courts, slowly nibbling it, hoping that one day it will fall, to be hopefully replaced by a more elegant solution.

Another method is not to fight it, but to vigorously campaign for it, exposing its absurdities. For example, a law can be passed mandating marriages by say, the age of 30. Anyone who does not marry cannot vote, is heavily penalised by taxes and becomes a second class citizen. This method focusses attention on the absurdities of the old solution and causes forces to group against it.

So both traditionilists and activists are equally responsible for ensuring that the old solutions wither away, to be replaced by new ones. The real danger is the vast majority of people, who are neither for it nor against it, and by their sheer inertia, prevent fitter solutions from emerging.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Does making more money make you rich ?.

Kevin Kelly, one of the unschooled, irreverent authors I admire has this site I discovered recently. Here are excerpts from some books he enjoys. Fits in pretty well with my
personal philosophy of life, work and fun.

Too many people approach being a giver from the wrong perspective. They look at the resources they possess and invariably fail to see any 'extra' they can part with. That’s wrongheaded thinking. Remember: If you don’t feel secure enough to give, you’ll never feel wealthy at the
deepest level.

You are not a corporation - you are a human being. Your money shouldn't outlive you. You should exit life as you came into it: penniless. Your assets are resources to be used, for your own benefit and for the benefit of those you love. Every dollar that's left in your bank
account after you die is a dollar you wasted. Use your resources to help people now when you know they need it, when it will do the most good, rather than hoping they'll be helped when you're dead. The last check you write should be to your undertaker and it should bounce.

The biggest lie people tell themselves about wealth is that if you make more money, you’ll be rich.

You need to shift to a more flexible view of work and career, one that abandons the ultimatum of retirement - a false choice between full-time and no time. Similarly you need to shift to a less rigid approach to earned income. No longer can you look at your earned income as continually increasing up until age sixty-five, at which point it will stop entirely. From now on you need to approach earned income as you do unearned income. It may grow, it may be stagnant, or it may decrease, all depending on market conditions and your own choices.

The best metaphor I can think of for today's pursuit of retirement is of a mass of lemmings busily struggling up a steep cliff and then jumping off the cliff into the abyss.

The only sane antidote to massive wealth is massive philanthropy. But giving is a habit that is best begun before you are loaded.

Get in touch with yourself. That was repeated by many of the people we spoke with. Decide what motivates you: joy of work, love of wealth, the satisfaction of getting further than anyone expected, and so on. And decide what failure means to you, as a person, as a company leader. Can you look at failure with a wry smile and say "I really goofed up" or does it devastate your self-worth ?

Friday, October 08, 2004

Officially retired

Finally managed to 'officially retire' at 36. Hope it lasts. Lots of free time now. Becomes boring if activities are not planned. Have taken to reading fiction lately ( Da vinci code - Borrowed in the afternoon, finished by night , just like the college days !). Just started on King Rat. Promises to be a riveting read.

Here are a few topics I want to start writing about. Hopefully can compile them into a C.S. Lewis type essay collection later.

1. The queue and the market forces
2. The borderless terms ( life, human, city etc)
3. Improving Saravana Stores checkout

1. Thoughts on the queue at Mambalam Railway station.
A queue is a mini marketplace in action. The invisible hand of the amrket ensures that the lengths of the queues are almost the same. Any external regulator would be a nuisance and would spoil the neat elegance of the system.

Let us assume the Railway does appoint a 'queue overseer' who is incharge of alloting people to queues. So when you walk into the booking area, you cannot stand in any queue, but have to wait to be shown your 'proper' queue. How complicated the system has become ! Suddenly two sets of queues have sprung up. First you queue to be alloted your line. Then you queue up for booking.

Even such simple attempts at improving the market forces can cause chaos. So it is no wonder all the government's attempts to interfere with the market forces caused chaos. Right from 'fixing' the purchase price of sugarcane/tea to 'stabilising' the rupee, all attempts of the Government to regulate the elegant market have created more problems that they tried to solve.

I tend to believe the only duty of the Government is to ensure the market forces operate without checks. And everytime the Govt steps in, with a well intentioned plan, all of us lose in some way.

I never cease to wonder that the Koyambedu market, filled with mostly illeterate vendors, has such an excellent price fixing mechanism for the whole gamut of vegetables, fruits and hundreds of other items. They do not vary much from vendor to vendor. There is no centralised bulletin which fixes the price and circulates it among all. There is no enforcing mechanism to ensure all vendors sell at the same price. Yet the price remains largely constant across vendors. It might be interesting to study the lead time it takes for the price information to filter down the market. For example, if 40 truckloads of tomatoes come in instead of the usual 10, how long does it take before the tomato prices fall ?

It is elegant, cheap, does not rqequire manpower and intimately involves those who have the greatest stake in the system. So why does the Government want to meddle with it ?

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Take two and call me to be interrupted

Researchers in 1984 showed that on average, patients were interrupted 18 seconds into explaining their problems to a doctor.In 1999 they found docs took 23 sec to interrupt.

Fewer than 2 percent of the patients got to finish their explanations.

Only 15 percent of patients fully understand what their doctors tell them, and that 50 percent leave their doctors' offices uncertain of what they are supposed to do to take care of themselves

The typical number of questions a male patient asks during a 15-minute doctor's visit is zero, while women average six.

Doctors with "a more dominant tone of voice," they found, were more likely to have been sued by patients. Doctors whose voices contained more warmth were less likely to have been sued. Patients who sue often feel abandoned by their doctors.

Good doctors, communication experts say, do not pepper patients with questions; patients do not like that. There is a clear connection between positive doctor-patient relationships and improvements in the patients' health.

Monday, May 31, 2004


Green Pea Soup
Saute the onion in butter. Add the chopped garlic - Add stock and the peas. Stir in the chooped herbs with a little salt and cover. Bring to a boil and simmer unitl the peas are tender. Puree the soup into a smooth consistancy. Stir in 1/2 cup of cream and serve.

Garnish each serving with a sprinkling of chopped herbs and some fresh whole peas that have been blanched in salted water.

Cabbage Soup 1
Sautee onions, carrot 2. Add the stock and seasoning, cover, and bring to the boil
and simmer. Cook the cabbage till soft. Add to the soup with half the yogurt and heat gently. Serve topped with the remainder of the yogurt.

Cabbage Soup 2
Sautee onions, garlic in olive oil. Add stock, water, carrots. Bring to a boil and then add diced potatoes. Simmer until the potatoes are tender.Add shredded green cabbage and continue simmering until the cabbage is wilted.

Bread and Garlic soup
Sautee onions, garlic. Add stock. Add cream, diced bread. Puree.

Cashew Soup
Sautee onion and garlic in butter. Put crushed cashew nuts and onion mixture in a blender. Blend until smooth. Put cashew mixture into a deep pan. Add pineapple pieces, potatoes, vegetable stock,cream, salt and black pepper.

Cashew soup 2

Sautee onion, garlic . Grind cashew. Add the onion mixture from the skillet, the ginger and 1 cup of the water. Process until well pureed. Pour into soup pot, add masala lemon and orange juices, simmer gently over low heat for 30 minutes. Add the steamed vegetables and adjust if necessary with more water to achieve a slightly thick consistency. Season to taste with salt, then serve once the soup is heated through.

Peanut soup
Sautee onion in butter,Stir in maida. Add stockbroth and simmer until the soup begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Stir in peanut butter, cream, salt& Pepper.Heat through but do not boil. Stir in 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice.

Sweet Potato Soup
Saute onions, Add the sweet diced potatoes and stock. Simmer till tender. Puree the potatoes. Stir in the milk/ cream.

Rice & Mushroom soup
Sautee onions, mushrooms. Add cooked rice, salt, stock, cream.

Beer Soup
Sautee veggies in butter.add stock, beer, milk. Heat to simmer. 3. Garnish with thin bread sticks.

Roasted Pumpkin Soup
Roast in the oven until it is tender, the scoop contents out of the shell. Peel and cut 4 medium size potatoes into chunks. Cook potatoes till tender. Add roasted pumpkin. Puree soup or a potato masher for a chunkier soup.

Pot in Pot cooling System

Pot-in-Pot Cooling System.
Invented by Mohammed Abba, Nigeria

A small earthenware pot is placed inside a larger one, and the space between the two is filled with moist sand. The inner pot is filled with fruit, vegetables or soft drinks; a wet cloth covers the whole thing. As water in the sand evaporates through the surface of the outer pot, it carries heat, drawing it away from the inner core. Eggplants stay fresh for 27 days, instead of the usual three. Tomatoes and peppers last for up to three weeks.

A simple technology, but with profound social implications. It has freed thousands of families from the tyranny of selling fresh produce on the same day, or risk it getting spoilt. At 40 cents a set, innovations don't come cheaper than this !

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Transit of Venus

On tuesday June 8th, the sun will be fainter than usual. On the face of the sun will be a small, dark dot. The dot is Venus, passing directly between Earth and the sun for the first time since 1882

The interest in observing the transit of Venus led to the invention of the movie camera and to the discovery of the great barrier reef

Kepler first predicted a transit of Venus in 1631. Ever since scientists have keenly followed the transit of venus- first for measuring the distance from Earth to Sun and now for detecting life on extra solar planets.

Given the relative speeds of the two planets, transits should occur every one-and a half years, but are actually much rarer as Venus's orbit around the sun is tipped relative to that of Earth.

Scientists tried timing Venus's transit from widely separated points on Earth, from which the could easure the distance from earth to sun.

Measuring Venus's path in 1769 was one of the mission objectives of James Cook's first voyage. Once this official mission was accomplished, Cook explored the south Pacific, accurately mapping New Zealand and stumbling ( literally ) upon the Great Barrier Reef.

When all the results came in, the astronomical unit was calculated to be 153m kilometres, with an uncertainity of 1m kilometres. The uncertainity arose as it was difficult to measure the exact start and end of the transit, without recording equipment.

Pierre Janssen, a French astronomer, invent a multi-exposure camera with a slotted rotating wheel instead of an ordinary shutter, the forerunner of the movie camera.It did'nt help much.

Visible in both Europe and the United States, The 1882 transit was a public sensation. Thomas Hardy wrote a novel about it. Telescopes were set up in town squares and millions of people had a look. It was the last chance to see a transit of Venus until 6 June 2004.

Though we now know the value of AU with great precision, scientists still study transits to finetune techniques to understand planetary compositions of extra solar planets. By measuring the transit in different colours scientists can theorrize about the atmosphere of the transiting planet. Transits have thus become the best way to search for extra solar life

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

A Short History of Technology and the Web

From Jeremy Allaire's article

A Short History of Technology and the Web
Trends fuelling the growth of the Internet

Affordable personal computers.
Around 1994/95 price functionality made PC's viable household goods.

Low-cost connectivity.
TIll 1994, dial-up connectivity belonged to geeks. After 1994, large-scale connectivity infrastructure investments by AOL, Microsoft, and thousands of smaller Internet service providers (ISPs) provided an affordable means to get online.

Ubiquity of LAN .
In mid-1990s the local area network (LAN) caught on in companies.LAN's became the building blocks of Internet.

Mass-market server software.
Around 1994, mass made server platforms started emerging. Till this time, deploying a web server was a pricey, complex proposition.

Digital media creation tools.
Around mid-1990s lots of PC software applications emerged emerged for tweaking graphics, text, and audio.

Individually, each of these trends is significant. Each a force driving the growth and development of the PC and computer industry. But when combined, these trends create a growth dynamic with incredible power and thrust.

Trends for next version of the Internet

10 Trends for Internet 2.0
There appear to be at least 10 significant trends that constitute this next-generation Internet opportunity.

Broadband Rules

Broadband growth isa round 80% year over . This proves Internet has become central to our daily lives and the value of an always-on, reliable connection is compelling.

Broadband creates a massive new opportunity for media, software, and services delivered over the Internet.

Wireless - Alive and well

Mobile handset technology is now rich enough to deliver real consumer value. Unlike low-quality, low-speed WAP, the new world of smart phones includes multimedia messaging, integrated cameras and other digital media support, and software runtimes like BREW, J2ME and Macromedia Flash. It’s creating a wave of innovation and growth. The mobile landscape is now attractive and real.

Wi-Fi is growing by leaps and bounds. The level of investment, innovation, and growth in broadband wireless delivered using Wi-Fi is nearly identical to the growth in ISPs, TCP/IP, and Internet access in 1994 and 1995. New applications and ways of doing business built around wireless will emerge.

Digital lifestyle devices

Digital cameras, camcorders, and digital music players have become a part of daily life and a potential for new sources of content and new distribution channels for media.

As broadband and Wi-Fi penetrate the home market, they are instigating a new wave of innovation around Wi-Fi devices such as wireless security cameras, Internet stereos, video phones, and even Wi-Fi enabled music devices for automobiles.

Rich Clients
To many people, the level of innovation in client technology on the Internet has appeared to stall; HTML 4.0 and Internet Explorer seem to provide the platform for web experiences. In reality, innovation has moved steadily along, primarily led by the now ubiquitous adoption of rich client technology such as Macromedia Flash Player.

Rich client technology can transform the quality and boost the usefulness of Internet applications, media, and communications because it combines desktop-like experiences with the deployment and content-rich aspects of the web. And, in the coming year, Macromedia Central will extend this model further by providing a new client platform for the distribution and use of Internet software and media. Also this year, Microsoft will describe and promote its .NET client technology as a post-browser approach to Internet applications and content.

Web Services
Web services technology promises to radically change the usefulness of software in the world.

Within the next year, nearly 100% of new runtimes (client and server) will be SOAP-capable deployment platforms. This means that nearly any piece of code running anywhere in the world can invoke any other code on the network. This new model of application interoperability is affecting dozens of software markets. It provides the potential for new levels of productivity, integration inside of enterprises, and most importantly, it lays the foundation for interenterprise applications at a level we’ve never seen before.

Progressing side by side with the web services trend is the rapid adoption and popularity of microcontent formats such as RSS. Primarily used in the context of weblog or blog software, RSS and sister standards like RDF are driving the Internet towards well-structured, easily searchable and sharable data.

Unlike the 1.0 Internet, hacked together with logic and data isolated in stovepipes, web services and microcontent unlock the value of software and data and foster new economic models of cross-company interchange.

Real-Time Communications

The Internet is rapidly evolving from a one-way and text-based medium to a rich, multi-directional and real-time communications environment. Over the last several years, there has been mainstream adoption of real-time communications technology such as instant messaging in consumer and corporate settings. And while instant messaging may be a major driver for change, there’s a lot of focus on new platforms that enable real-time communication and collaboration within custom applications.

At the forefront of this innovation are Macromedia Flash Player and Macromedia Flash Communication Server. Flash Communication Server provides the first broadly available platform for building real-time collaborative user interfaces that incorporate multiway text, audio, and video as communications forms. Additionally, other software and online service companies such as Microsoft, Yahoo, IBM and AOL are providing their users with real-time communications applications.

Hosted Applications ( Apps on Tap)
The model of delivering software as a hosted service continues to gain traction. Although many dismissed this approach as a failure only a couple of years ago, rich clients’ popularity and web services’ ability to integrate hosted applications into an enterprise has promoted the adoption of hosted applications. This growth promises to transform the use of software in corporations around the world.

Big Data
Over the past several years, the price to value ratio on storage and bandwidth has improved dramatically, expanding what you can deliver to consumer PCs over broadband. PCs now have enormous amounts of plentiful storage, and, on the delivery side of the equation, it’s also economical to deliver and manage large quantities of rich media, including high-quality video. The trends on this front are only accelerating.

Paid Content
This new Internet environment is seeing the adoption of paid content as a business model for the Internet. Rich clients and broadband now make it possible to build high quality digital assets, and consumers seem willing to pay.

Unlike Internet 1.0’s 'information wants to be free' mantra, people now willingly pay to download music and to subscribe for access to quality content or games and entertainment. This shift from free to paid content is dramatic and symbolizes the maturity of the Internet as a media and commerce platform.

For example, RealOne has over 1 million paid subscribers for their video on demand Internet service. And dozens of other media brands are experimenting and seeing success. AOL has made it clear that their future is in broadband-enabled, high-quality paid services. Yahoo is experiencing robust growth in premium services, and the broadband ISPs are betting that paid content will form the next wave of profit growth, expanding the current access fee-only model. To make it easy to get into the game, Macromedia Central includes a model for creating paid content services and applications.

The Software Manufacturing Economy
Nearly every new Internet opportunity is based on shifts in the how software is manufactured and sold. The people, places, frameworks, and materials used to create and distribute software are changing dramatically:

Component-based software. The rapid adoption of Java and .NET runtime and development platforms make it possible to easily design, compose, and integrate software assets.

Open source.
Open source continues its forward march, giving developers access to low-cost software manufacturing and greater control over the code that applications are built upon. Because of this, application ISVs are opting for open source materials such as Apache Axis, Tomcat, Linux, and MySQL.

Global outsourcing.
Economic pressures are driving software companies to rely heavily on global outsourcing for software manufacturing. When combined with open source as a material and component architectures as a design model, it is becoming easier than ever to construct complex software projects overseas.

Web services and hosted applications.
Web services and hosted applications now deliver software products online, eliminating the need for packaged products. This shift redefines product sales and distribution channels for software and provides radical new economies of scale.

Friday, September 05, 2003

From the Economist

The Economist speaks....
DVD piracy may be coming soon with broadband rising and file storing becoming smarter.
How do you fight it ?

American Media Moguls are adopting the following strategies

1. Delete content after the user has “consumed” it.
2. Offer movies cheaply online
3. seeking new laws
4. Educate the young with new curriculum which teaches that swapping content is wrong.
5.Go after file swappers in court

Movielink, an online site charging $3-5 to download a movie. But the service is still “clunky

According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 65% of people who share music and video files online say they do not care if material is copyrighted

In the 1980s, software companies used to fight online pirates with DRM technology. But they found that copy protection annoyed users, and got rid of it. The makers of Lotus 1-2-3, abandoned it after finding that they had merely created a new market for software that could defeat copy protections. Now the music industry is realising that often some of the downloaders it labels as thieves are actually trying out music before they buy it, and that controlled, legal file-sharing could be a marketing tool. Viral marketing of that kind could be powerful.

killer applications” - the term was invented 25 years ago for - the spreadsheet. That was the reason why many people bought their first PC. It allowed them to build models and play with their data. With spreadsheets, “what if” scenarios could be calculated and recalculated easily. If the value in one cell was changed, the data in related cells were automatically adjusted. Users can, “converse with the data”.

information visualisation is all about making data visible—or, more precisely, the patterns that are hidden in the data. Graphic aids such as charts have done this for ages.What is new, he and his colleagues explain in the book, “is that the evolution of computers is making possible a medium for graphics with dramatically improved rendering, real-time interactivity and cost.”

Nanotech for solving Energy crisis
Working out how to provide the world with enough energy when the population reaches 10 billion and the global energy requirement has soared from today's 14 terawatts (ie, 14m megawatts) to anything from 30 to 60 terawatts of capacity.The lack of energy he contends, is the single biggest issue facing mankind today. Certainly, some of the world's more intractable problems—war and poverty, water and food shortages, disease and pollution—are connected, in some way or other, with energy deficiency.
Short of building nuclear power-plants outside every major city, he believes that the only way out of the energy impasse is through the use of nanotechnology

SCO - All bark no bite ?
Roughly as apes and humans allegedly have common ancestors, several operating systems can trace their lineage to UNIX, including Linux. The SCO chairman claims he soon found “massive and widespread violations” of Caldera's intellectual property in the Linux code

What most bothers the open-sourcers is SCO's refusal to reveal which lines of code it considers problematic. “Here are these people who claim we are pirates but refuse to say where and how,” says Bruce Perens, an open-source evangelist. After all, he says, remedying the situation would be “trivially easy”. The Linux “community”—numberless hobby hackers—would simply converge on the code and rewrite it within hours or days.

SCO has caused enough uncertainty that technology consultancies, such as Gartner and Yankee Group, are advising clients to wait and see before adopting Linux. It has not gone unnoticed that Microsoft is one of the few companies that has actually paid SCO for a Linux licence, even though Microsoft has no use for one. Microsoft and SCO vehemently deny that they are in league, but most open-sourcers assume that the evil Redmond giant is bankrolling a mercenary.

Backing up everything ever published

How do you ensure that readers will still be able to access electronic academic journals even centuries after they have been published ?

The project, called LOCKSS (short for “lots of copies keep stuff safe”), addresses a vexing problem that librarians face everywhere. Increasingly, academic journals are published online; many are not even available in print. As a result, libraries are losing the option of maintaining local collections—but are leery of discontinuing paper subscriptions.

looked long and hard at what the great libraries of the world have done over the millennia. First, they acquire copies and make them available to their local readers, while seeking to preserve them to the best of their ability. But if copies get lost or destroyed, they also lend them to each other. It is these circulating collections—which in effect form a peer-to-peer network with no central authority—that LOCKSS seeks to mimic.

Efficient Wind Power generation

Wind powered Turbines must be able to generate electricity at a cost that is competitive with fossil-fuel sources. One way to do this is to make cheaper windmills. Until now, large-scale wind turbines have faced into the wind. That makes them easier to design but heavy. Because the wind blows the turbine blades towards the supporting structure, they have to be made stiff enough to stop them bending and hitting the tower.

If the whole contraption could be turned around, and the fan placed downwind from the support pole, this problem would disappear. The blades could then be less stiff, and would therefore be lighter and up to 25% cheaper. So why, throughout history, have windmills always pointed upwind rather than downwind? The answer is that downwind turbines are tricky to design and subject to all sorts of aerodynamic interference caused by the supporting tower

The main problem that the WTC had to solve was how to damp the vibrations caused when a blade passes through the “wind shadow” of the tower. Calculations suggest that downwind power could be generated on the site for about 3.5 cents per kilowatt-hour—ie, competitive with coal

Bumping against the built in speed limits of the Net
How do you make the internet go faster than laying bigger, faster data pipes? There turns out to be a fundamental speed limit built into the internet's software foundations—the “transmission control protocol”, better known as TCP. The speed limit only becomes apparent at very high transmission speeds, measured in the hundreds of megabits per second (Mbps). , the efficiency of the connection was less than 30%. Why?

The problem stems from the way that TCP responds to congestion. The internet has been able to scale up from millions to billions of users over the past few years due to the simplicity of its design. Computers talk to each other in TCP using a simple rule to ensure that they make good use of available network capacity. One computer sends a chunk of data, called a packet, to another computer, and waits for an acknowledgment message, or ACK. If no ACK arrives, the sending computer assumes that the network is congested and the original packet has been lost, and scales back its transmission rate to half of the previous one. Once reliable transmission has been resumed, the sender gradually starts to increase the transmission rate, until eventually the network becomes congested again, the rate is halved, and so on. The advantage of this simple approach is that millions of computers can share a network with no need for centralised traffic control. When capacity is available, transmission speeds go up; when it is not, they go down.

This approach works well on today's internet, which is a bewildering patchwork of different networks operating at different speeds. But difficulties arise when the bottlenecks in the internet are removed, as they are on the high-speed links used by scientists. The problem, says Dr Low, is that TCP reduces the transmission rate too drastically at the first sign of congestion, and only increases speed again gradually. It is, he says, akin to a driver who can see only ten metres in front of his car, and who increases speed gradually when the road seems clear, but slams on the brakes as soon as another car comes into view. “On a slow street it may work, but on a superhighway it does not,” he says

So Dr Low and his team have devised a tweaked version of TCP, called FAST. Like the original TCP, it is a decentralised system: each computer monitors the responses to sent packets in order to adjust transmission speed in the face of varying levels of congestion. But FAST does more than simply check to see if an ACK has arrived for each packet sent. Instead, it takes into account the delay between the packet's transmission and the arrival of the corresponding ACK from the recipient. Calculating a running average of this delay time provides far more precise information about the congestion.

Transmission speed can then be adjusted carefully, smoothly scaling back when the first signs of congestion appear, and quickly ramping up again once the congestion has eased. Using FAST, Dr Low and his colleagues were able to improve the efficiency of a 1,000 Mbps link so that it reached 95%—even in the presence of a small amount of background traffic from other users. In other words, the protocol is not just fast, but backwards compatible. Computers speaking FAST can share a network with other machines using standard TCP.

E Learning Stats

The Indian e-learning market is still in its infancy at just $4 million as per the 2002 estimates, with an expected 4-year CAGR of 20-25 per cent, the apex body pointed out

The worldwide corporate e-learning market is expected to reach revenues of $23 billion by 2005, with a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25 per cent, said National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) in its latest survey

Nasscom said that there will be a significant shift in demand for e-learning content. It is expected that by 2004, non-IT content will be the larger market, accounting for over 54 per cent of total revenues.

In terms of e-learning solutions, it is estimated that two-thirds of the global market is for off-the-shelf products and the main markets are the US and the UK. North America holds the maximum opportunity with two-thirds of worldwide revenues through 2005. However, Western Europe is the fastest growing market.

At the height of the dotcom madness, some forecasters were predicting the e-learning market might be worth as much as £7bn by 2005. The reality will be more like £2bn to £3bn, suggests Mr Horseman. This, though, is a sizeable market and demand is still growing. Just last month, Jobs & Money reported how the NHS is embracing e-learning to encourage its 500,000 staff to become more computer literate. Walk into most big name organisations and you'll probably find some sort of e-learning offering. In many areas, e-learning does have an edge over conventional training. Its flexibility, if managed right, can be an advantage. The fact you can test yourself and assess what you are learning as you go, and then go back to update your learning regularly, are other plus points

"Live" or recorded broadcasts of lectures are "dead" compared to edited, bite-sized modules which distil the essence of lessons and make them more fun by using tools such as Macromedia Flash animations, audio-on-demand and Web links.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Geek Quotes

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.
When all else fails, read the instructions.

Every task takes twice as long as you think it will take. If you
double the time you think it will take, it will actually take four
times as long.

There is always one item on the screen menu that is mislabeled and

Do not believe in miracles. Rely on them.

Blessed is the end user who expects nothing, for he/she will not be

At the source of every error which is blamed on the computer you
will find at least two human errors, including the error of blaming
it on the computer.

Any system which depends on human reliability is unreliable.

Undetectable errors are infinite in variety, in contrast to
detectable errors, which by definition are limited.

Investment in reliability will increase until it exceeds the
probable cost of errors, or until someone insists on getting
some useful work done.

The first myth of management is that it exists.

Any given program, when running, is obsolete.
If a program is useful, it will have to be changed.
If a program is useless, it will have to be documented.
Any given program will expand to fill all available memory.
The value of a program is proportional to the weight of its
Program complexity grows until it exceeds the capability of the
programmer who must maintain it.

Inside every large program is a small program struggling to get out.

There's never time to do it right, but always time to do it over.

If there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one
that will cause the most damage will be the one to go wrong.

The first ninety percent of the task takes ninety percent of the
time, and the last ten percent takes the other ninety percent.

The man who can smile when things go wrong has thought of someone
he can blame it on.

An ounce of image is worth a pound of performance.

Judgement comes from experience; experience comes from poor judgement.

Build a system that even a fool can use, and only a fool will want to
use it.

Given any problem containing N equations, there will be N+1

An object or bit of information most needed will be least

Any device requiring service or adjustment will be least

In any human endeavor, once you have exhausted all possibilities
and fail, there will be one solution, simple and obvious, highly visible
to everyone else.

Badness comes in waves.

After designing a useful routine that gets around a familiar "bug"
in the system, the system is revised, the "bug" is taken away, and
you're left with a useless routine.

Efforts in improving a program's "user friendliness" invariably
lead to work in improving user's "computer literacy."

That's not a "bug," that's a feature!

An expert is a person who avoids the small errors while sweeping on
to the grand fallacy.

"You can use an eraser on the drafting table or a sledgehammer on the construction site." Frank Lloyd Wright