Saturday, December 30, 2006

Attack of the YouTube Clones

I have seen a surge of video sharing sites lately, each attempting to land another google-youtube type of deal.

Some of them have a different spin:

I like this site because it has nifty video tutorials like 'How to wear a Tie Windsor Style', 'How to Make Kadhai Paneer' and 'Disappearing Card Tricks'! This is certainly a step beyond the text based tutorials like The videos are shot by the VideoJug folks themselves and are very professional, there is a section on user uploaded videos too.

These are desi startups focusing on the Indian market. They could end up like baazee and bidorbuy did with eBay, get swallowed up by a global player...or get eliminated by a special Indian Videos section in YouTube

I like this site because it has all the Dave Chappelle shows. I wonder how long before it is taken offline by ComedyCentral

MetaCafe has been showing up a lot in digg stories lately, may end up with Yahoo.

I havent seen anything starkly different here, infact I have seen a lot more YouTube videos on Myspace profiles.

Google Videos
Yahoo Videos
MSN Videos
Dont know/Dont Care.

A sign of the saturation in the market is the exit of Guba, another video sharing site. A new site has sprung up which promises to share advertising revenues with the videographer.

I am sure in time we will see innovative video search capabilities that span these sites just like search engines did with plain ol' web sites.

Quiz: Which Superhero Are You?

No surprises here!

Results of the superhero personality test:

You are Superman

The Flash
Iron Man
Wonder Woman
Green Lantern
You are mild-mannered, good,
strong and you love to help others.

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Survival of the Fattest

I bought a few goldfishes for our turtle tank to add some color and variety to the otherwise drab school of guppies. The turtles had been peacefully coexisting with the other fishes for over 5 surprise with all the pro-vegetarian messages sent out by movies like Finding Nemo and Shark Tale.

No sooner did I introduce the new goldfishes that the turtles showed a sudden fascination for them and in an few minutes were snapping on the fishes and chasing them around. By the end of the week, not only did 3 of my 4 goldfishes get eaten up by the turtles but so did the entire school of guppies. Speaking with the petshop owner, I learnt that these goldfishes are considered breeder fishes in turtle tanks and seeing them the turtles took a renewed interest in fishes and turned pesco-vegetarian.

One particular goldfish however showed strong urge to voraciously consumed the turtle food and in time grew to 10 times its original size! It now became too large for the turtles to pursue and eat.

This is an amazing story about the survival of the fittest fattest!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Trimming the Waste

There was a certain class in middle-school that stuck in my memory. It was a social studies class and my teacher, who had tasted life in the foreign (read first world) lands, remarked about a particular study undertaken by a dutch energy company. This energy company had apparently produced energy from garbage in Europe and the Indian government had asked them to research if they could replicate their success in India as well. After a few months of research, the company ruled that energy couldnt be produced from Indian wastes just because of the type of trash. I remember the smirk on my teachers face when she said "...even India's wastes arent good enough".

Almost two decades have passed since I heard her say that, now I am ready to prove her wrong...Indian wastes are indeed top notch :)

Exhibit A: A sell-out crowd watching a cricket test match in England is expected to generate 50 tonnes of waste over five days of sporting action!!! A majority of the waste includes drink containers, paper, cardboard...very combustible and useful resources for a energy generation plant. It required a former test cricketer, Alec Stewart, to go on air to exhort the public to recycle rather than waste.

In India, no former captains need to use up air time to urge the public to recycle. Its part of the system already. The incentive is money paid by recyclers (kabadiwallahs) for the plastics, milk containers, newspapers, etc. The public would rather take that money than put the items in the trash bin. Indian trash therefore mostly comprises food-based wastes, some of which is recycled in the kitchen garden itself.

Exhibit B: "Paper or plastic" is the commonly heard phrase at the checkout counter of a grocery store, supermarket. Only recently have groceries like Whole Foods and Trader Joes started asking shoppers if they want to carry back the purchases in their own tote. I havent seen *anyone* bring their own totes in. The city of San Franciscos efforts to charge for bags so shoppers brought their own bags also met with strong resistance.

Thinking about shopping back in India, if you didnt have your own tote to carry the stuff back in, you would just have to hold them in your hands, with absolutely no sympathy from the seller.

Exhibit C: A scene from a forgetful movie starring Brittany Murphy where shes playing a nanny and in the scene chastised by the rich brat shes looking after for drying the dishes with a cloth instead of a paper towel. I couldnt bring myself to watch any more of the movie...mostly because it was such a cheesy movie and not just for environmental reasons. To put things back in perspective...In India, a kitchen towel wouldnt have had anyone complaining unless they werent washed of course.

The net result, the amount of garbage produced, the type of garbage produced is more conducive for landfills in India. Recently, several cities have introduced schemes for door-to-door waste collection where each homeowner is charged for the type and amount of waste generated therefore providing the necessary stick to lower waste generation. Energy can certainly be produced from first world wastes, but the costs of such energy is prohibitive if you take into account the energy used to produce the containers, paper and cardboards in the first place.

Postscript: I now carry a green Whole Foods Tote (cost $3) when I go grocery shopping...mostly at Safeway because I cant afford Whole Foods.
I use neither cloth nor paper towels to dry my dishes...I just let the water drain.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Banking on the East Classic

Last evening we went to watch Sania Mirza play at the Bank of the West Classic tournament in Stanford. The match was a disaster and she lost in straight sets disappointing all her fans.

I decided to hang out at the booths outside the stadium and check out some tennis gear. I was trying on this wrist-assist gear when I saw Sania walking by the store watching me try them on. It took me some time to realize who she was and by then she had disappeared.

The next day I went to Swetkas, a tennis store to pick up my demo racquet...and I found Patty Schnyder at the store. She would become the runner-up at Stanford tennis event. I wasted no opportunity this time to get a picture with her.

With Patty Schnyder at Swetkas

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Lez Zeppelin

I watched a Led Zeppelin cover-band at the Fillmore, called Lez Zeppelin. The musicians were very talented and a treat to watch.

The highlight of the show was them performing 'Dazed n Confused', watching the guitarist use the violin bow on her guitar to produce those psychedelic sounds, made me think about how amazing it would have been had I witnessed the performance by the original band.

Dazed n Confused

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Go-Kart Racer

My manager organized a go-karting event for us at the impressive racing courses at gokartracer. We have a lot of racing enthusiasts in the company, with my manager being a skillful drift racer himself. As I am always up for a challenge, I signed up for the event as well.

The grand prix race consists of a practice and a racing session of 30 minutes. In the trial round my helmet strap came off which resulted in a poor timing and I was consequently placed fourth out of the six participants for the racing round. It was looking difficult for me when the three ahead of me sped off in the early laps. Things continued to look bleak with every passing lap where they all extended their leads until a minor collision resulted in me squeaking through the gaps and into the front.

My manager was involved in that collision and he was doing all he could to recover his #1 position and I wasn't allowing him to get ahead, inspired by the saying 'for you to win, make the others lose'. Over the next 20 laps I remember my car getting bumped from behind while my manager tried to overtake me. I staved off the competition and the effects of the whiplash until I finally saw the checkered flag.

GoKartRacer - The Winner Takes it All

I was all smiles at the victory podium with my well fought victory :)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Taken to the (Dry) Cleaners

I returned from two long back-to-back business trips and I was overwhelmed by the huge-ass load of laundry that I had with me. So I decided to take them to the dry cleaners. I knew the owners as they worked next door and they gave me a substantial discount for the large load.

On the way back to the store I was complimenting myself at having saved myself the trouble. Instead I had a surreal experience, the entire store along with the other ones in the strip mall had all been burnt to the ground. There were 'do not cross' boundaries set up around the entire area.

I was still in a shock staring at this sight when a policeman came along.

Policeman: So which of these stores do you own?
Me: I dont own any of these stores
Policeman: Okay...theres nothing to see here...keep moving
Me: ...b..b...b...but all my clothes were at the dry-cleaners
Policeman: A small smile appears on his face
Me: ....and I was supposed to pick them up today
Policeman: guess what young seems like the owners of the dry cleaners didn't have any insurance either.

With those few words, he laughs out loud and heads off in the other direction endeavouring to bring sunshine into someone else's life (mostly his).

Super Burnt Fluff Cleaners

When realization set in on my loss I set about to make amends.

My first move- utilize the credit card protection facility to recoup the money I had spent on these clothes. I called up the card company and I explained the entire incident in detail. The lady on the other line sounded sympathetic and asked me when and where I had bought my clothes. Luckily, my online credit card statements were available so I carefully provided all the information to her while she made notes and repeated all the information to ensure that she had got it right.

At the end of this nearly 30 minute of information retrieval session, this happened...

The lady at the end of the line: Thank you Mr. Maneesh for continuing to be a valuable credit card customer. Unfortunately our credit card protection policy only covers items that were with the person at the time of the loss.
Me: Although I fail to understand why this special clause is in place, why did you make me dig out all the information if you knew that the fire at the dry cleaners was a clear case of an item not being with the person at the time of the incident?
The lady at the end of the line: Mr Maneesh, that is standard operating procedure for us to get all the information before we can provide the decision.

I am now sure that there are a lot of Sadists out there.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Blaine Memorial

I was in New York and heard that Robert Blaine was there I headed to the Lincoln Memorial to meet him. Only I was joined by 1000 other people who came to watch him break the record, along with television crews covering the event. There with numerous television cameras all around and the feeds were projected on a huge screen which helped me recognize Blaine.

The Crowds

The Watery Globe

The Tribulations

Robert Blaine was unable to break the record for the maximum time spent underwater holding his breath and he had to be fished out of the watery globe so he wouldn't sustain any damage. There were several members of the audience who were very disappointed, one of them shouted "Do it again"!

Sunday, April 23, 2006


I was sitting in a cafe when I was interviewed by a channel 7 reporter. I was lucky enough to catch myself on the tube later in the night, record the segment using my digital camera and then create my first youtube posting...enjoy!