My First Media Appearance

In Dec 2004, the local section of The Telegraph newspaper ran a story about National Creativity Olympiad 2004 being held in the city of Jamshedpur by the city chapter of Institution of Engineers. It featured my team who had reached the finals and as part of that had built a 4.5 feet tall platform from 3 regular newspapers, able to withstand a combined weight of 8 kgs!


I still remember the excitement of reaching the finals and then how our team came up with a such a radical design of the platform (as seen in the picture)! It was quite absurd because it towered above what others had built & still could withstand so much weight (the next tallest structure in the room was only around a feet high!).

Here is the original story as it appeared in The Telegraph article:

PDF version: The Telegraph – Calcutta _ Jamshedpur

Dino Fever!

Sufficient time has passed since the last social experiment with the “owl” as a pet. This time I wanted to pay a tribute to either the Jurassic Park movies OR the Star Wars movie, both of which have recently released trailers for their upcoming movie in the series.

Ultimately, the dinos won the argument and our hearts. George and I searched though a list of iconic scenes from the first movie and came up with the one below.

P.S. We have added a storyboard of images to show the transition this time from the original to the modified version.


A “New” Yahoo! (Part 1)

Why Yahoo Needs to Re-Invent?

  •  Yahoo made a good number of acquisitions e.g. Tumblr, Zimbra (which they sold to VMWare), Delicious. But even today these remain as external distributed services rather than a core part of Yahoo services and offerings. On top of this, the acquisitions keep on coming.
  • Yahoo has a multitude of product offerings but unlike Google, their user profiles are spread across these services and have no correlation amongst themselves. This gives rise to scattered demographics data (an opportunity for Yahoo to see consistent information trends) and sub-par user experience.
  • As an outcome of above, Yahoo lacks the connected analytics needed to drive the user focussed advertising and targeted user experience like Google Now.
  • Yahoo’s product line is not unique or better in anyway than the top players in the market – Mail, News, Finance, Photo Sharing,etc. are some of its main services which face really tough competition in the market from better products in terms of features and user experience.

To sum it up, Yahoo is not an efficient platform anymore and the only way it can re-invent is to move in the direction of becoming one single integrated platform, both on the web and in mobile.

Deep Dive

Here is my first impressions/ instant verdict, my first thoughts on what the various products are (a lot of which I had never heard of or used before)

Current ProductsInstant Verdict
Account InformationSimple profile settings. Can be expanded to become central place for all product settings (web and mobile).
AddressesNever heard of. Looks like an online Yellow Pages - not much importance in today’s world.
AlertsLike Google Alerts. Few people use it. Un-updated UI gives the feeling that its badly maintained. Should be more targeted with automatic alerts based on connected user sentiment and demographics data.
Advertising SolutionsSeems like one of their biggest revenue generators. Maybe not used as widely as Facebook or Google ads. Need a better targeting solution?
AnswersPointless product. Much better solutions available already like StackOverFlow, wikiAnswers, Quora, etc. (Hint: Buy Quora or StackOverFlow)
AutosIts Auto Reviews only. Why does it sit outside the News platform? Better to consolidate products here. (TBH not sure how many users ACTUALLY use it. Worth-keeping-or-not analysis needs to be done.)
CalendarVery separate from other social media/calendar options. Increase interoperability with Google/Facebook/Outlook calendars.
CelebrityGood gossipy stuff. Needs more original material or collaboration with production houses for releasing original content first. Why is it separate from Yahoo News?!
Company InfoYahoo and its products. Pretty generic.
Connected TVGood stuff! Need to build on it by combining with Mail, Games, Fantasy Sports, Mobile offerings,etc.
ContactsToo many places for having contacts. Competitive advantage needs to be improved with Shared Friend Activity, Trends and Mobile Syncing.
Contributor NetworkDisconnected from Y! Platform. Possible overlaps with Tumblr. Again, worth-keeping-or-not analysis needs to be done.
Developer NetworkGreat start with offerings like Pure CSS & Hadoop. Need to re-brand aggressively and leverage more on API centric, mobile focussed offerings.
DatingThis just redirects to!! Really?? Is this core to what Yahoo wants to offer or just a case of “grasping at straws” ?? How do you link it back to Yahoo’s core user base? Too many unanswered questions.
DirectoryLink to websites, somewhat like Reddit (minus the user feedback) OR other listing websites. No value add AT ALL! Can be converted to hashtag-ed, searchable, user contributed links.
DomainsWas quite popular in the old days! But now just lagging behind specialized domain handlers and web/cloud hosting providers like DigitalOcean, GoDaddy,etc. (Hint: Yahoo has good expertise in large data handling and domains so better to buy something like DigitalOcean and grow that as an offering for developer services)
Downloadsoh man seriously!…..better if it resides in Mozilla/Chrome/IE app store
EntertainmentCombination of Videos + Movies + Extra videos. Very scattered. No clear direction or purpose visible form this offering.
EducationPretty vague and quite frankly useless. Only US centred with just 2600 followers on Twitter?! Even searching “Education” on Yahoo Search doesn’t bring it up as search results!! Don’t need this. Articles can move under possible news section.
Fantasy FootballVERY nicely done! Have used it before. Mobile apps good as well but not very integrated with the rest of the Yahoo platform specially Yahoo Games.
Fantasy BaseballSame as above. Like it but needs to be more connected and generate more awareness about itself.
FinanceCore product. Really industry leader but lacking some of the tools (TA,etc.) and APIs which Google Finance has. Has a good mobile presence too.
FlickrWas an active user. Excellent service but now good for professionals only since can upload high-res. People have moved to moment-based sharing i.e. Facebook, Instagram, and even G+ provide the context. Flickr is somewhat lacking that.
Family AccountsBelow 13 year old children are not allowed to have Yahoo accounts?! WTH. Its ridiculous!
GamesNeed to weed out quality from spam. Can potentially be re-launched as Game platform apps for Android and iOS. Integration with the Fantasy Sports franchise.
GroupsHardly any usage. Need to re-invent for modern age. Tighter integration with other products, possible re-branding it as a Team app (self hosted? mobile? )
MailDecent redesign. Looks a LOT like Gmail. Spam filtering not so good. Must become something unique like Facebook Messages (user centric messages) or provide high encryption services (not provided by others)
MessengerPointless to exist independently. Too many fake profiles. Chat rooms either full of bots or empty. Can exist as an HTML5 app instead.
Messenger WebIs now integrated with Mail app but still not intuitive (missing voice/video?)
MobileReally good product. Still big for pre-smartphone devices. But Android /iOS is big so this needs to be re-defined to suit and cater to the smartphone audience.
MoviesOh man seriously! Does this really need to be a separate product? Looks like an offering of Yahoo News.
My YahooLooks like recently redesigned. Content-Panel based approach currently. Must be replaced by some form of intelligent feed like Google Now or Facebook News Feed.
NewsAgain a very good product. Has the ability to auto filter based on user location. Needs to bring in user specific interests and Feedly like approach to making topic specific lists.
ProfileVery disconnected. Must be at the heart of all offerings. Valuable demographics data which needs to be connected to Yahoo platform content.
PropertyMuch better solutions exist like airbnb, craigslist,easyroommate nd other specialist property rentals/selling sites. Must bring something unique to the table or acquire airbnb!
SafelySome good articles like Choosing a Secure Online ID,etc. A lot really redundant articles not really relevant in the current age. Definitely doesn't need a separate product in itself!
SearchCore product offering since day 1. Historically a really good search engine. But results are not that accurate w.r.t. the user's context. Context can be derived from patterns of ex searches and yahoo platform browsing (possibly emails?). Recent move to pitch for default search engine on iPhones can be potentially rewarding.
Search MarketingConflicting in the “pay per view” keyword based advertising space with its own Yahoo Advertising product. Better to merge these 2 into a single offering.
ToolbarNothing for Chrome/FF users. Plus people hardly use toolbars nowadays. Offline HTML 5 apps
TravelA good product. Need to incorporate more of user feedback and relevant articles to the place/form of travel. Better, more niche websites exist - Tripadvisor,AirBnb,Skyscanner,etc. Need a differentiating factor.
TumblrExcellent blogging platform. Massive user base that needs to brought in sync with the rest of the Yahoo platform services specially profiles.
WeatherTruly brilliant product. Very beautiful web and mobile products. Pretty accurate too. Shows Yahoo still has some talent in the Product Management department.

Dabbling with Raspberry Pi

I was trying to get my hands on a Raspberry Pi since last year but ordering it via Element 14 (ex. Farnell) – Link to buy online – seemed like it would take ages! So last week I went to the IT Show @ Expo and found a small shop selling new Raspberry Pi Model B at S$ 59 !

My Setup

  • 1 Raspberry Pi Model B
  • 1 Keyboard & Mouse
  • 1 60″ Samsung TV with HDMI port
  • 1 Samsung Galaxy S2 mobile charger
  • 1 LAN wire to connect to the router

Guide to setup the Pi

Official Guide from Raspberry Pi Org!

Some extra comments:

Edit the raspi-config (sudo raspi-config)

  1. Enabled expand_rootfs. This helps to use your SD card’s full space (if you are using then this option is enabled by Default)
  2. Disabled overscan (allows full HDMI display)
  3. Set configure_keyboard (Set Timezone to your local timezone, set keyboard layout to Generic 105 US Layout or UK layout  and ensure the encoding is UTF-8)
  4. Set change_pass (sets new password for the root user ‘pi’)
  5. Enabled ssh
  6. Enabled boot_behaviour (in order to boot to startx server or LXDE desktop directly)

Voila! The raspberry pi is now live and running!

So, what to do next?

The first thing I did is run 2 commands to update my libraries and utilities – sudo apt-get install update & sudo apt-get install upgrade

The next thing I did is get my Raspberry Pi online!

  1. Created a new directly called “RaspberryPi” and put a index.html file inside it.
  2. Then. ran the following command : python -m SimpleHTTPServer 8080
  3. Hurray! Now I have functioning web server and my Pi is online! http://localhost:8080


Owls in the house!!

rohit_owl george_owl soum_owl

OK *DISCLAIMER* – we didn’t actually get any real owls for this and no animals were harmed in the filming of this media content.

Classic case of one thing leading to another, George and I were talking about easy it can be nowadays to fool people into thinking that you have gone on a awesome holiday to some exotic country like New Zealand by downloading some high res pics and photoshopping yourself into it (with an appropriate number of Instagram filter applied post production!).


Low Cost Multi-Touch Human Computer Interface – My FYP

I know I know I am late in putting this up.But yeah I have been busy the last couple of months settling in my new job at Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

As a thinker and a creativist ( well atleast it exists in Urban Dictionary 😛 ), I have lots of ideas which come to mind. Most of them are so completely “sci-fi” that to do or make such a thing physics would have to be radically changed. But for a Final Year Project, I felt, its advisable for purposes of graduating and other grade replated stuff :D, to do “realistic,measurable” projects.

So as part of my Final Year Project at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore I decided to choose one of the most innovative and cutting edge projects that the department could offer – A Low Cost Mulit-Touch Human Computer Interface….for non-nerds..a touchscreen device.The citation of my project has been put after the break.

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