Thursday, October 21, 2010

ignore the consumer, and you are dead!

I worked 2 summers in Sony Europe, and I never remember having heard the term "consumer demands" or "customer requirements" maybe because I was too low in the programming/design hierarchy, or I was just a summer intern, or it was said just by the japanese..  but today I found out the reason why Sony Vaio, that was was the herald of laptops and laptop of choice for the last decade, is now a failure and virtually ignored brand in the market.. with individuals, it has been replaced by Apple's range of macbooks, and in organizations, it has lost the battle to Dell and IBM (now Lenovo) thinkpads

last year, when my hard drive on my macbook started misbehaving, I went to apple store and without any questions it was replaced, sane thing happened to the iPhone that I had actually bought second hand on ebay, it was replaced free of charge when the control button broke.. result, I buy more macs!

despite my discouragements, my dad decided to buy a Vaio laptop (because 20 years ago the name Sony was associated with quality), so he paid about £500 for a Vaio laptop  (bought from MAKRO superstores)  which could hardly match a £350 Acer/Lenovo...

few days later when this gift finally got to my sister, we found the screen to be cracked with dead pixels.. clearly Makro took no responsibility and gave us an 0870 number for Sony customer support.. Sony customer support told us that they can accept a repair service only if we post them the laptop, and we are responsible for all the repair costs.. However, they could not give us any estimate for the repair cost, because an engineer had to look at the laptop.. although I could clearly tell them the the LCD had a crack in the box, and in such corner (which would naturally require the whole monitor to be replaced), however they still refused to give a quotation for the repair costs... more interesting, if upon inspection, we are not happy to go ahead and pay the estimated repair cost, we are still liable for £50 admin fee!

Sony may not be getting any repair money from me in this case, they may think that we have lost few hundred pounds.. but in the age of social media and recommendations and social networks, it is ultimately the consumer which gets the best deal..  perhaps it is obvious why we don't see anymore Vaio's in universities and corporations, and home users love macbooks (posh) and EEEPCs (practical and cheap)...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Web science: A new frontier

so this two day meeting at royal society brought together  a range of different people across the whole web social ecosystem, videos and tweet feeds here:

so yesterday and today i have been at

you can watch the talks online too i believe... but dont necessarily
watch the barabasi one, too boring he covered his 99 and 2000 papers
on power laws etc

there was some engineering talks (ipv6 and etc) and semantic web which
I didn't pay enough attention, so I focus on social networks ones)

overall, it was great, seems like people are now thinking what we
thought with Mia this time last year, how do we use social network data to
- Show quoted text -
answer long standing questions in social networks and how is the web
affecting the .. Kleinberg picked up exactly on that.. how do we see
what threshold (number of friends doing an action) is required for
people to adopt an idea (join a group on live journal, edit
wikipedia), so this is exactly what we started to touch on on the
twitter data but didn't actually get to follow up on.. I think it will
be amazing to test this in different contexts, start tweeting about
iphone, start spreading URLs and etc, there is definitely room for
exploring on that

there was also a relatively ok talk about social recommendation from
anne-marie kermarrec , it turns out that the large or small number of
usrs can both be bad for recommendation so they focus on distribution
of interests of a person with different size of user groups , some
interesting discussions of positive and negative sides of this
approach on twitter

the notion of collective intelligence and decision making seemed to
also be very strong, but no one knows how to quantify it... on twitter
this would be amazing (maybe better in slashdot?!) but obviously Levy
would insist on that a bit too much! but he has this idea of having
semantic URL (USL = Universal Semantic Locator ) to enable extraction
of collective intelligence etc (philosophy!) but a neat idea

then manuel castells on socialnets in the net: media has given bad
image to web as they just report on bad/negative news (their nature),
but he thinks we are more social today since we have more practice for
sociability online and offline, he believes the internet enables people to
pursue happiness easier hence strong presence of less powerful
people... so inernet use has led to more autonomy, sociability and
happiness (based on their survey)..

Ramesh Jain gave  a decent talk on twitter and events, and why the
real time web is so important as it captures the events in life.. so
camera publishes to flickr/tweeter directly with location info.. the
location can also help with event detection and speed of propagation
of events, so you can for example detect activity rates of say swine
flu or demonstrations.. so a kind of heat plot if you can imagine...

finally tim berners-lee talking about social cloud and storage
(dbpedia for example) .. he mentions a big issue with social networks
being so "walled" so sharing things across is difficult. so better to
have webpages and URLs??!! also issues with privacy and control of
data (for example download all data).. overall not sure what he
wanted.. overall interesting though

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Productivity at work

I enjoyed reading this

I think productivity is severly affected by trying to do too many projects, just as bad as by focusing only one a single task for a period longer than half a day.. a bit of writing or analysis while writing code for another simulation or measurement always helps, and even reviewing can be joyful when interlaced properly with related work.. anyway, have a read and see what you think.. it even mentions "Optimize transaction costs" !

Monday, August 16, 2010

Net Neutrality And Wireless Providers

so recently there has been a heated debate on the wireless provider’s attempts on delaying the net neutrality debate (see )
I was surprised to find out today that Three UK does not let you navigate website on iphone.. although it is a perfectly legal to jailbreak an iphone ( )
My phone in unbranded and unlocked, but if you buy a phone from Three UK, you can’t use it for internet tethering.. by jailbreaking (which is legal) you CAN tether the phone using some apps. so it may prevent many who pay for extra 3G dongles and etc from doing so since they can just use their phones.
the issue is that they are preventing you from accessing a standard website that may have content/programs/capabilities that simply reduces Mr Hutchinson’s profits… this is a good example why Verizon does not want the net neutrality debate to start leaking into their wireless empire too?

Life Metrics !

I recently read this amazing article on HBR on assessing the quality of life, and I was relieved to see that there are still high ranking academics who actually consider things like family, faith and personal time more important than the never ending deadlines, papers, reviews and etc:
In my understanding, life is only measured “externally” by career success.. however ultimately it’s one’s inner comfort and satisfaction that determines the true quality of one’s life… that is perhaps one reason that countries with highest quality of life also have such high suicide rates!
anyway, I certainly recommend reading this article!