Monday, December 31, 2012

5 things to do before the new year

I bet all of you are now geared up for 2013. Your resolutions in place and party plans in order, you are just waiting for the the clock to strike 12 to take on 2013 with a bang. But as you wait for the new year to come there are still a few hours of 2012 that can be put to some productive use. So here is the list of 5 things that I am planning to do before 1.1.2013.

  1. Clean-up – Regular readers of my blog are aware of my obsession with frugal living. Today is a good time to go through your wardrobe and look at all the clothes that you have not used for the entire of 2012 (I bet you have some). Now take all these clothes and classify them into two groups – To donate or To Use. The ones marked “to donate” go drop off the clothes at your local charity today. And the ones marked “to use” line them up to be used in the first week of January. That way you have a pseudo-new wardrobe without buying new clothes!
  2. Donate – I know we all wish to donate. We are very charitable human beings at heart. But when it comes to going through the process of donation, it’s a hassle. So now that you have time, go donate to your favorite charity or open source project. If you need help, here is a short list of projects you may wish to help:
  3. Contact that person – Everyone of us has a long lost friend, colleague or relative who we have been wanting to call, email or drop a message for a long time now. Today is a good time to do that. Go pick up the call and wish that person a happy new year, you might just end up making someone’s day!
  4. Buy – Today is 31st December. For most businesses today is a Financial year end (or at least a quarter end). Everyone wants to close their books in the black and show profits. You may wanna try your luck at bargaining and get a good deal on the car, house, laptop, bed, wardrobe that you have been eyeing!
  5. Change your passwords – Finally, today is a good day to logout off all the websites that you are perennially logged in (yeah your Google, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Foursquare account). Clear all your internet history (yeah all the delicious cookies have been tracking every move of yours on the internet, good idea to get rid of them once a while!). Finally, set new passwords for all your frequently used accounts.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Bye bye doomsday

Okay. Its past 12 and we are on the other side of the Mayan doomsday. Yeah some parts of the world are still not, but being self-centric, I will give that a go. I waited and waited and waited. But the world never ended. All the prophesies and Hollywood movies and tonnes of conspiracy theories passed by in a whimper.

Luckily, after the Y2K problem more than 12 years ago, I have learnt to ignore such prophesies. So I didn’t really prepare for this day to be any different. Imagine, had I taken the Mayan’s seriously, I would have partied like there was no tomorrow, spent all my money and had a gala time, only to realize that I have to live another day. My theory of living life like a project with a definite end-date and all scheduled backwards would have gone haywire.

Anyway, now we start living our mundane life till the next doomsday passes us by. NASA was so sure that nothing is gonna happen today that they made a video about it and released it on YouTube more than 2 weeks ago!

Why the world didn’t end yesterday?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Pre-meet spying

My current job requires me to go meet strangers all the while. I end up collecting a lot of name cards and haven't yet figured out what to do with them. Whoever thought (including me) that plain old name-cards are dead trees and a relic of the past hasn't really done business in Asia. In this part of the world, we still completely rely on exchanging name cards to introduce ourselves.

Anyway, over the past several months I have figured out that it pays to do your homework on the person you are going to meet. Generally before a meeting, I have the name of the person and many times the company that he/she works for. There are two distinct aspects of research that "need" to be done before that meeting. (And I am not discounting the work that you need to put in for the content of the meeting (yeah - presentations, demos, proposals etc.)).

  1. Research the Organization
    Unfortunately for me, most organizations that I work with are small and medium businesses. So I got no access to quality annual reports. But still, most companies have trails of their digital footprints lying around all over the internet. Besides the company website (that you have to completely devour - yeah, search the sitemap and go through each and every link however mundane it looks!), I get valuable information about the company in the news, conference websites, software company success stories, vendor websites etc. Though it sounds lame - a quick and dirty 5 forces of the industry that the organization works in actually helps!
  2. Research the person
    Its amazing how much we share online these days. Most of the times, I have access to surprising amount of information about the person I am going to meet. Besides, if I engage in certain amount of tactical background searching it goes a long way in carrying out a meaningful conversation with the person. All of us have had our 15 seconds of fame in our past life and internet with its long memory, manages to really store it well. I have discovered people’s academic achievements, marathon timings, sports medals, their non-profit associations and on one occasion even a criminal record. And this is besides the tonnes of professional and personal information which is almost readily available on Facebook and LinkedIn.

I do not know if all this research really pays off. The only way it helps is - I have a fairly good understanding of the organization that I am working with and of the person that I am meeting.

If you are gregarious and friendly probably this entire piece of advice is useless for you. You can probably strike a conversation with a cow standing on the road. But for a person like me who all his life has only courted computers, knowing a person before meeting him/her really helps. Most of the times, I can at least try break the ice cause I already know a lot about the person I am speaking with. I just need to be careful not to freak the person out.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Yeah. The next time we get that is 01.01.01. That is 01st January 2101. 88 years from now. This blog will not exist (Well, now that I think of it - data storage should be so cheap by then that we would have archived all the garbage we have ever generated on the internet!) I won't exist. Most of my current readers (you guys) would have got really busy with living your geriatric life to the fullest.

I thought it would be really cool to get a blog post up today to commemorate this occasion. I am sure its trite and meaningless, but well that's the way I am! Hope you guys try to make this day memorable.