Thursday, August 31, 2006

Retailers team up with Varanasi weavers

Eight retailers and textile companies have tied up with weavers in Varanasi to give a boost textile clusters. Some of the retail chains that have signed up are Pantaloons, Big Bazaar, Fab India, Calico, Advantage Shilpi and UP Exporters. The tie up has been facilitated by Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDI) through its Intergrated Handloom Cluster Development Programme.
Under the arrangement, the retail chains have agreed to acquire a specific quantity of customised raw materials from the weavers on a regular and contractual basis, starting from this month. Fab India, on its part, has agreed to adopt 300 weavers from the cluster on a permanent basis.

Read the full article here.

Using Buyertools Reminder

If you love to shop and sell products online and bid for multiple auctions on eBay, then this is something that you absolutely must have. It’s the Buyertools Reminder with an automatic eBay bidder that lets you automatically bid on items at a predetermined time, even up to the last minute before the auction ends. The software also has a system of preventing double bidding or bidding on similar items when using the automatic bidding system.

Another very helpful service is the auction reminders that will automatically deliver alerts to your cell phone via text messages. Other plus points of using the Buyertools Reminder are the eBay search functions with which you can import items from your eBay account; display of a synchronized eBay time and administrating multiple accounts. Buyertools Reminder software is spyware free and has no pop ups or adware. And yes, of course the software is free.

The Buyertools Reminder really comes in use for those who like 'sniping' or waiting till the very last moment to bid for items as with this application you can keep track of the bids and control the auction. Adding items to the Buyertools Reminder is quick and easy so give it a try.

The Pavement Picasso

Have you heard about the Pavement Picasso?

His name is Julian Beever and he paints incredibly lifelike and 3 dimentional stuff on the pavements. Using 'trompe l'oeil' (trick of the eye) and a camera for perspective, Julian's works are so amazing that people will go out of their way to avoid potholes that he has drawn on the pavement.

See the pics and read the full article here.

Simplify your moves

I've moved a total of 11 times since I started college. While some moves have been simple local moves within the same city, others have been a complicated mix of national and international shifts. Moving houses can be one of the most draining experiences one goes through....how to pack, what to pack, how to ship, how to store, where to store, what paperwork to complete for international transfers....its endless.

A simpler way to do it is to make use of a Self Storage Directory - Moving.bz at the time of moving. If you need to store your stuff, then this is the place to go to. The site is really simple to use and once you enter your location, all available self storage facilities are shown from which you can make your selection and get a quote.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Link to: '6 Tips for Working at Home With Children'

A great article on how to work effectively from home. Although I don't have any kids for distraction, but the tips are great anyways.

During a typical week, I work from home for twenty to thirty hours. Although this allows me greater opportunity to see my wife and two small children, it can also be a little tricky at times. I've developed the following rules and routines for making the best of the situation.


read more | digg story

HLL and Kirana stores team up

HLL is teaming up with kirana stores to check the control of big box retailers such as HyperCITY and Big Bazaar. The company has tied up with almost 175 local stores in Ahmedabad to make them into Super Value Stores (SVS), with lots of freebies, gifts and double packs on the lines of how the modern retailers sell products. The SVS stores will have a common look and branding with yellow boards and similar layouts.

In an article in Daily News & Analysis:
The key to this unusual partnership between elephant and ant is common branding, lower prices, higher discounts and special promotional offers that are exclusive to Super Value Stores. Under the deal worked out by HLL, kirana stores that opt to rebrand themselves as SVSs get an additional 3% commission on monthly sales. Plus, there are promotional offers that are available nowhere else. An HLL spokesperson told DNA Money: “SVS is the first and pioneering programme through which the company and trade have developed a win-win partnership.”

Read the full article here.

The warmth of wood

Every so often, we get serious about finding an apartment to buy and start planning what kind of house we would like to live in and how we would do the interiors. There have been several combinations and permutations to the plan over the years but one constant that has remained is that of Pergo Flooring. We used to have a similar sort in our bedrooms in Bangalore and we absolutely loved the way it looked. It wasn't as hard to maintain as I had originally thought and lent the room a lovely warm glow.

The Begining

Life on the planet is born of woman.


--Adrienne Rich

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

'The world is flat' in Party

Did you know that the phrase 'The World is Flat' was not first used by Thomas Friedman in his bestselling book but actually in the movie Party starring Peter Sellers in 1968. We were watching the movie last week and saw that the baby elephant in the movie had the words 'The World is Flat' painted on it.

Cable vs Dish

I'm getting quite sick and tired of the hold that cable operators have in this country. They seem to revel in the fact that they can do as they please notwithstanding the exorbitant rates they charge. The recent blackout and strike by the cable operators is making us keener on getting a satellite dish. The Dish Network TV has over 230 channels to choose from which I personally would not want, as I like to watch my favorite programs only and rarely channel surf. What I would love about the dish network would be freedom from the local cable chap's control.

Simple words

If you don’t know where you are going, then any road will take you there.

--Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland

Life's lessons

Life is short, don’t waste time worrying about what people think of you. Hold on to the ones that care, in the end they will be the only ones there.

--Not sure who wrote this, but I can really relate to it even though at times it's really hard to put it in practice.

Looking to buy a TV?

If you're thinking of buying a new TV and are confused about the unending variety on offer, The New TV Guide is for you. The site has a comprehensive listing of all types of TV's such as flatscreen tvs, digital tvs, lcd tvs, plasma tvs, various home cinema systems with the costs, benefits, disadvantages, best brands to buy in each type, from where to buy it from and even where to place it in your home.

Store salesmen are often confusing as they bombard you with too much information in too little time, just to railroad you into buying from them. It’s a really good idea to know which type of TV technology you are interested in before you even enter a store, and this is a great site to get some precise information.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Going beyond the surface

An interesting post on the Freakonomics Blog about how people who have read the book are starting to question and delve deeper into the whys and hows of daily economics. This one's about a reader who wrote to them about his experience on renting a car from Hertz.
It is amazing how many people now write to us to tell us that they have done exactly that—started to ask a lot of questions and think through problems for themselves and arrive at interesting conclusions. It is as if we inadvertently deputized a bunch of people to wander through the world and poke around beneath the surface to see what they can dig up.
Read the full post here.

Getting a good first job

How did you find your first job? Was it through campus recruitment or alumni connections or a simple ad in the paper?

Finding your first job and that too a good one that will lead to bigger and brighter things in life is a tricky thing. Getting a good first job requires a good combination of setting your priorities for career growth, financial requirements and being able to do something you actually might enjoy. College Recruiter is a good place to start for an entry level job search, that elusive first job that will form the base of a strong and stable career.

A new begining

The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be the beginning.


--Ivy Baker Priest

A safer home

On our recent trip to the US, we noticed that pretty much everyone there has an alarm system. Whether its just the basic one tracking doors or a more complicated set up, its become a regular home accessory.

Home Security Systems were a high priority on my mind before we left on vacation. While we were gone for a month, I was a bit worried about our apartment here. Would it be safe enough even though we live in a flat with 2 neighbours (but no common walls) and have grills on all our windows? I was really keen to install motion sensor lights for outside my door, so if the hallway light went out (or was deliberately taken out), our light would still come on.

Anyway, I never did have time to look for such a product (and what happens if the electricity flickers, do all your setting go kaput?) and we came back to an apt that was just as we left it.

Rich Like Us-- Nayantara Sahgal

One of my quickest reads was last week when I was in Bangalore, where I had plenty of time to read, compounded by flight delays in both directions. Nayantara Sahgal's Rich Like Us is set in the time of emergency (1975-77) and shows how the power change affected different people. While some bore the brunt of the harshness of the regime, others profited from it and reveled in it.

Sonali is an idealist and a bureaucrat (a total contradiction in present times) who is forced out of her job when she objects to the set up of an 'irrelevant factory' of Happyola, which is being backed by Dev, the stepson of her friend Rose. Dev, is one of those who profited from the emergency, uses any means to reach his goals, whether it may be forging signatures of getting someone murdered.

All in all an interesting read about India during those unstable years.

A better way to shop online

Do you shop online?

If you do, then there's a new software out which you will love. Its called Pricepirates and it is essentially a price comparison tool for products between different online shopping sites such as eBay (including international eBay sites), Amazon, Shopping.com etc. When you find a product at a price you like, there is a really good way to track items and manage your search results.

Other plus points are previews of items, creating a personal watchlist for items that you like but don't necessarily want to bid on (a cool add on is to get notifications on your mobile phone via sms for watched items), tracking favorite searches, statistics on price, auction searches and a whole lot more. Pricepirates does not open any pop ups or ads or collect personal information and is spyware free.

Now, its the Birla's turn

Another mega-entrant to the retail scene in India, The Aditya Birla Group . One of the country’s oldest business houses, The Aditya Birla Group announced on August 23rd, 2006, that the company had plans to enter the retail industry, although it was too early to give specific details. The company is reportedly planning to invest approximately $1 billion (almost Rs. 46 billion). The company is planning to invest in other new industries as well besides retail. The Aditya Birla Group owns Madura Garments which has brands such as Louis Philippe, Allen solly, Van Heusen, Peter England and SF Jeans.



Sunday, August 27, 2006

Box on

In school, there was quite a regimental hierarchy on the status associated with certain sports. While some sports gave you recognition as a gentleman and as a team player like cricket, others gave you a sheen of raw power like boxing. Boys who were on the school or house boxing teams were always looked upon with quite a bit of awe, whether it was just due to the fear of being punched one in the face if you didn't watch it or from technical prowess.

The tools of the trade were highly prized and flaunted, especially boxing gloves. Our gymnasium in school, Gaskell Hall even has a tribute of sorts to the sport of becoming a man, by Rudyard Kipling, who said in Kim: "Send him to Sanawar and make a man of him".

Power of words

Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.

--Rudyard Kipling

Quite apropriate I thought, after my post on Consumer Generated Advertising.

Movie time

Sunday's here.....and we've finally signed up with a DVD rental place in Lokhandwala.....about time, its been a year and a half since we've been here and we've ended up buying way too many movies that we see only once....what a waste...maybe I should sell them to the rental place....hmmmm.......here's to catching up with all those movies we missed in the past year......

The economics are:
100 DVD's for Rs 7,000
50 DVD's for Rs 4,000
Free home delivery and pickup

This place has the highest charges compared to other movie rental places in the area, but we found that since there is always parking available in front of the store, its close to some of our usual haunts (Hang Out Chocolates, Hallmark cards and the flower seller outside, HDFC Bank and one of my favorite stores in the entire market, Fruits and Vegetables) it was worth it. Another major plus point, is the way they have arranged the DVD's, so that all the covers can be seen on movable racks.

Happiness

The ancient Greek definition of happiness was the full use of your powers along the line of excellence.

--John F. Kennedy

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Using a VoIP connection

I've been using a VoIP phone since Febuary to make international calls. Since I needed international dialing and getting it on my regular phone was just too complicated and expensive, I opted for a VoIP connection. It was important that my calls be clear and have a minimum of time delay, which I have with VoIP.

VoIP is a system of making calls over internet transmission. The system works in three ways: through a VoIP telephone; a regular telephone fitted with a VoIP adapter; and through a computer. I use my regular phone with a VoIP adapter and it works really well, with very little time delay at an economical rate. I think its a really great way to be connected and have a US number for people to dial to rather than a local number.

Back from Bangalore

Just back from a quick trip to Bangalore. Yes, the traffic is really bad and its becoming quite important to be a good juggler of meetings and appointments, as you need to keep changing them based on how long it will take to get there.

The city still has a certain charm, maybe its to do with its red tile roofs and abundant gardens that dot the city or maybe its just because its a smaller city. Whatever it is, I love the feeling of being back in Bangalore.

We visited our old apartment in Defence Colony in Indiranagar and were very happy to see that while there have several new stores that have opened on 100 ft and CMH road (including a Fabindia, a minute away from where we lived), the interior bylanes are still by and large peaceful and green.

Friday, August 25, 2006

A comfy chair

While working from home is one of the most fun and addictive ways to work, I'm yet to get down to buying a proper work chair. One that will not give me backaches like this one does. I really need to get hold of a decent work chair, so I've been looking around at some shops in Malad, close to Inorbit Mall and online too. I found some really great School Furniture, especially the administrative chairs which might just be the answer. Either the Scroll Arm Executive Desk Chair or the 5 Motor Manager Leather Office Massage Chair would be great to have.

Time

Time does not change us. It just unfolds us.

--Max Frisch

Ontok Highlighter

A few months ago, I hesitatingly signed up for Google Adsense. From the start I wasn’t too keen on the way the ads took over my space and altered the way this blog looked. Today, I came across a software program called Ontok Highlighter, which allows you to link to key words on your website in a more subtle way.

The Ontok Highlighter opens a window with search results from sites such as Google, Yahoo, Amazon, Technorati, etc when you mouse over specific highlighted words. The search results are undeniably more relevant to your page than ads coughed up by other such programs such as Intellitxt and Kontera.

Besides customizing the results, the Ontok Highlighter also lets you select the highlight color to match your page and theme. All you need is your code for Adsense, or Amazon or eBay, for whichever results you would prefer. It takes just five minutes to set it up and works quite well with blogger. The program has been designed by a computational linguist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

For more information on how it works, or to see a demo visit the Ontok Highlighter site.

Oh, and did I mention, it’s all free.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Tiger wins

Oh well, my favorite golfer didn't make the cut at the 2006 PGA Championship in Medinah, Illinois. Colin Montgomerie played Round 1 at -1 and Round 2 at +5. A very disapointing finish. Tiger Woods won the championship with a 5 stroke lead over Shaun Micheel.

Time

Always remember that the future comes one day at a time.

--Dean Acheson

Reliance Retail's first store

Reliance Retail's much anticipated foray into retailing will happen in September, when the company opens its first store in Hyderabad. The store will be a food and grocery store. The announcement was made by Raghu Pillai, Reliance Retail President and Chief Executive (Operations and Strategy) in New Delhi. The company has recently had several high profile tie ups with state governments of Punjab and West Bengal for sourcing fresh fruits and vegetables.

What makes a site?

I've been doing a lot of research on advertising agencies, marketing companies and consulting firms in the US and UK, for the past couple of months and must have gone to over 1,000 sites. Its been a really fun experience and I have thoroughly enjoyed the creative aspect of it. While some agencies have a bare bones listing of facts about themselves, other go overboard on the creative angle and bombard you with flash.

One of the good sites is MindComet, an Interactive Agency with headquarters in Orlando, Florida and offices in Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta and Austin. I think the MindComet site has the right mix of information (about the company), attraction (to what they do and how your company could use their solutions) and creativeness (graphics and pics).

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Textbook ads

Another first for advertising: Now ads will appear in textbooks. A small company in St Paul, Minnesota called Freeload Press will be offering free downloads of certain textbooks with ads of FedEx Kinkos and Pura Vida Coffee.
Freeload Press will offer more than 100 titles this fall _ mostly for business courses _ completely free. Students, or anyone else who fills out a five-minute survey, can download a PDF file of the book, which they can store on their hard drive and print.
So far 25,000 users have registered and downloaded 50,000 books from over 300 US colleges and universities. Freeload Press plans to add 250,000 textbooks as well as other study aids available by next year.

Read the full article in The Washington Post here.

Looking for some cheap wine?

Just came across a great and innovative site based in the UK that informs viewers about the best deals on wine. Now this really is what innovation in retail is all about. The bulk of consumers who use go online to shop, say that their primary reason for shopping online is to compare prices and this site is the perfect example of this behavior. It tells you exactly where to get cheap wine and for how much. Its a great time to be a retail watcher.

Holidays

Yay....the weekend's finally here!! And so is the festival season, although this year I'm feeling a bit cheated with so many festivals doubling up on the same day or falling on weekends...Ganesh Chaturthi on sunday, 27th August, Gandhi Jayanti and Dussehra both on 2nd Oct, Diwali and Id both on saturday, 21st of October. I would seriously like th government to change the holidays to mondays and fridays, like they have in the US. Its the most sensible thing to do, as everyone ends up taking a holiday anyway.

Happiness

Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure, not this thing nor that, but simply growth.

--W.B. Yeats

Its college football season time

Its football season again in the US. Even though I was not into sports when I started college at Kansas State University, there was something about the college football season that really peps everyone up into getting involved in the madness and cheering on the team. K-State football was a below average team when I joined college, but Coach Bill Snyder really pulled them together to form a great team, in both offence and defence. Our biggest rival was the University of Kansas, which we usually beat (they in turn used to thrash us in basketball). Coach Ron Prince joined in December 2005 from the University of Virginia, where he was an offensive coordinator.

For more information on games, schedules, rankings and championship picks, go to Doc Sports which lists a full College and NFL Football Schedule and is even giving away free copies of the 2006 schedule on its site.

Last read-Undercover Economist

Just finished reading Tim Harford's The Undercover Economist. Its a thought provoking book in the same vein as Steven Levitt's Freakonomics, which I had read earlier this year. While Freakonomics covers a wide array of topics such as reduction in crime to cheating by teachers, The Undercover Economist sticks to the fundmental questions of cost vs price, value vs worth etc. I thought one of the most interesting sections of the book was how retailers decide the price of an item and the tricks they use to promote their in-house brands. The style of writing of the book is extremely readable and user friendly. I must say that this genre of books is fast becoming my favorite.

Friday, August 18, 2006

I'm betting on Monty

The 2006 PGA Championship started yesterday in Medinah, Illinois. I'm rooting for Colin Montgomerie, my absolute favorite golfer, who ended Round 1, tied at 138. He had a dismal round with 5 bogeys and 2 double bogeys. Not too good but that's exactly the thing about Monty, he just plays his game and doesn't bother too much about the leader board.

Read more about Colin Montgomerie and the 2006 PGA Championship here in the pga pipeline.

Perfection vs Excellence

Perfection is unattainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch Excellence.

--Vince Lombardi

Manager Assistant

I came across this great software called Manager Assistant that uses an application to track employee records, work, performance and apprasial and reviews. Employee Appraisals and Reviews helps you manage your employee's information without having to deal with the mess of handling word and excel files. With this software, you can compile all your information about employees, track daily activities as well as overall performance in one simple application. The Employee Appraisal section is a really innovative way to deal with one of the toughest and often most dreaded jobs for a boss.

A new direction for advertising

An article in Advertising Age highlights a new type of advertising. Kroger Stores is the first national retail chain to feature advertisements called Ads-n-Motion on conveyor belts at checkout counters. Harps Food Stores an Arkansas based grocery retailer is also testing these ads in 13 of its stores. The new concept is being offered by a Little Rock, Arkansas frim called EnVision Marketing.
"Conveyor belts have never been on anybody's radar screen for marketing," said Frank Cox, president-CEO of EnVision Marketing Group, a Little Rock, Ark., firm with a patented system to print digital, photo-quality ads directly on conveyor belts. "But a store with eight to 10 checkout lanes, well, you're talking about 100 square feet of wasted ad real estate."

Read the full article here.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Syllable-price connection

Do you remember the price of a product 30 seconds after you have seen it? A new study has found that prices with more syllables are harder for customers to remember than those with fewer syllables. Incredible, isn't it? The article appears in The New York Times.

Here's an excerpt:
Each extra syllable in the price reduces the chances of it being recalled by 20 percent, according to the study, which will be published in the September issue of The Journal of Consumer Research. In other words, someone faced with a $77.51 camera (eight syllables) and a $62.30 bookshelf (five syllables) is about 60 percent more likely to forget the camera’s price than the bookshelf’s, after half a minute.

Read the full article here.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Seduction of Silence

Many paths will lead you home, but with every decision you make, every action you take, you will be creating the path on which you must walk. So be silent and yield. For in Silence you will find all answers and all directions. You will never be lost, for you will always be at the centre of all creation.

--Bem Le Hunt in The Seduction of Silence

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Na Jane Kyun by Strings

The words to one of my favorite songs, Na Jane Kyun by Strings from their album Dhaani.

Dekho kaise parbat se baadal gaye
Barsenge yeh ab kahan
Dekho kaise phoolon se khushbu gayi
Mahkegi yeh ab kahan

Sukh ban gaye sapne
Sab kho gaye apne
Dil bhujh gaya, ghar jal gaya
Na jaane kyoon, na jaane kyoon
Yaadon ka phir aanchal uda
Na jaane kyoon, na jaane kyoon -2

Dekho kaise haathon se jugnu gaye
Chamkenge yeh ab kahan
Kyoon so gayi shaamein
Kat na saki raatein
Dil bhujh gaya, ghar jal gaya
Na jaane kyon, na jaane kyon
Yaadon ka phir aanchal uda
Na jaane kyun, na jaane kyun -3

Dekho kaise parbat se baadal gaye
Barsenge yeh ab kahan
Dekho kaise phoolon se khushbu gayi
Mahkegi yeh ab kahan

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Future of Retailing

Read something really interesting this morning in Reuters about the Ralph Lauren store in NYC's Madison Avenue that allows passers by to purchase items directly from the store window using a touch screen panel and credit card swipe. The window display will be on till September 10th and if it receives a good response, the company plans to put them in other stores too.

Read the full article here.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Two year anniversary

Well, I've been blogging two years now. 6th August 2004 was the start of this blog and its been a great experience; having my own space, sharing my views, and linking to some interesting reading material. Blogging makes you aware of issues that otherwise you might not have paid too much attention to, to be accountable and responsible for what you write, and to constantly think of something interesting to blog about. Besides writing, blogging opened me up to a world of other bloggers whose blogs I enjoy reading on a regular basis.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Flying non-stop to the US

Another link:

Article and pics by Ben Mutzabaugh on American Airlines direct flight from Chicago to New Delhi in USA Today. We travelled by the same flight last month for our vacation to the US, Delhi-Chicago-Washington DC and back, using Dulles International instead of Reagan National (that Ben used) in Washington DC.

Read the full article here.

Friday, August 04, 2006

San Francisco parks

A lovely article in The Morning News on the parks of San Francisco, which happens to be one of my favorite cities in the world. The city is often described as America's most European city, and that may account in part for the charm. The combination of its location, weather, history, eclectic neighbourhoods and people, not to mention highly educated too, are some of the obvious reasons but there is that something extra that makes it such a great city.

An excerpt:
There seems to be a park every few blocks in San Francisco, so people often favor the park closest to their apartments. We meet in parks all year to listen to music, to share food, to celebrate together. Friends of mine married atop Tank Hill in their Hayes Valley neighborhood, and my own husband proposed at a nearby dog park with a hurricane fence and a sweeping view of the city lights. There are too many parks to list, and possibly to count, so these are a few of the standouts. I highly recommend coming to visit, so you can choose a favorite of your own.

Read the full article here.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Generosity

You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.

--Winston Churchill

St Michael's Manor, Scotland, MD






These pictures are dated incorrectly. Actual dates were 11th and 12th July, 2006.

Anger

Whatever is begun in anger, ends in shame.

--Benjamin Franklin

Anybody can become angry, that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way, that is not within everybody's power, that is not easy.

--Aristotle