What I learned when I lived without mobile data for 2 months

I was living without mobile internet for the past 2 months. Somehow Airtel had bonked my data plan, and they couldn’t set it right the first time I got on support. I figured something must be wrong with my hardware and was too lazy to follow up again. The only internet I had was wifi, when I was indoors.

And hey! I know what you just did. Don’t make that face and shrug away my first world problems. I think I deserve some credit for getting by. Do you think there’s wifi everywhere? In trains, on streets, in restaurants? Do you? Let me show you some proof of how hard life is for those who are unfortunate Continue reading What I learned when I lived without mobile data for 2 months

Request for app: Arnab Goswami debate talk time distribution tracker

I bumped across The Newshour on Times Now today after a really long time. It is still _really_ hard to watch. Amazed at the longevity of this format (I presume it is doing very well)

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have probably heard of Arnab Goswami and his antics. Basically if you like to watch people shouting at each other, and see one self-aggrandising man trying to pass himself off as a force for righteousness, then this is the show you need to watch. Arnab Goswami has spawned many memes, and he is famously known as the man who knows what India wants to know.

Anyway, a brilliant app idea struck me while watching. Would be really glad if someone builds it. I think it might be pretty useful <I’m being serious>. So here goes..

What if you could get real time metrics on a debate. Suppose you are watching the newshour, and you could pull out your phone, launch the app and see something like this –

debate time tracker v1

Or maybe even this –

debate time tracker v2

The red indicates time spent shouting or multiple people talking in illegible debate etc. We could also measure decibel levels. I’ve noticed how they keep controlling the volume on the newshour depending on whose voice they want the loudest.

Of course this could be done for other news programs as well. But since the idea came from watching newshour, I want to call it the Arnab Goswami debate talk time distribution tracker. If Arnab funds it, hell I’ll build it myself.

What do you think? Does India want to know debate metrics? What are the other metrics we could track, apart from talk time?

A swing and a miss

This is a follow up to the post – For fun and exploration. I made the following graph in that post –

impact_vs_fun

So there’s good news and bad news. Bad news first –

Assume that Fliptrazon was the golf ball in the above gif. This is exactly what happened when I took a swing at it. So, it seems that Fliptrazon has been forever ordained to the mildly fun and pointless category. No real startup coming out of it.

The good news is I didn’t waste too much time and money on it. I was able to make an MVP, test my hypothesis, try it out on a few known and a few unknown customers and get a reasonable idea of whether or not to make this a full time business (The business part of Fliptrazon was a b2b product). If anyone is interested, I could write a separate post on what I was trying to do with the b2b product and why I thought it did not work out etc.

Anyway, I plan to keep it up and running, now that we’ve built it. It does not cost much to keep it up. And a number of users have started using it fairly regularly as the coupon search engine part of Fliptrazon has some strong user retention. We also made an app which we’ll put up on the play store shortly, which will make it a lot more easier to try out coupons if you’re on Android.

On that note, I’ll go back to trying to figure out what to do next! Cheers.

Unsolicited advice from an older entrepreneur

Look at me being all grown up and calling myself old. I had a few other titles that I was considering for this and it was a close contest. But I finally decided that I’m comfortable calling myself old (relatively speaking!). In terms of tech startup founders’ age, I’m definitely on the older side. The alternative titles I had in mind were –

  • A letter to my 24 year old self (from the future 34 year old self)
  • Yo 24 year old founder, stop being cocky for a minute and listen up

I fondly remember being a cocky 24 year old, so don’t be offended if you are one right now. You’ll grow up too!

Onwards with the advices / rules / lessons then, in no particular order –

Continue reading Unsolicited advice from an older entrepreneur

Pessimism

Going into something unknown, one of my instincts is to think about what all can go wrong. I may take it to extremes in some cases too (like what if.. death!). This is often taken as me being a pessimist. A friend of mine hinted at the same conclusion just yesterday and I mumbled something about me being an unlikely pessimist, after all I like to pursue lofty goals, try things that may be unlikely to succeed etc.

I thought I’ll put down a better articulation of why I (and others who do the same) think like that. It is easy to brand it as “negative thinking”, but hear me out..

Continue reading Pessimism

Noun Project mac app: drag drop on sketch not working (png instead of svg)

This had been bothering me for a while. Hope this helps if you’ve been scratching your head over it too.

The noun project app was dropping raster (png) instead of vector (svg) when dragging from the noun project mac app to Sketch. Simple solution.. just uncheck the “enable png” box in the preferences dialog (keyboard shortcut – ⌘,)

enable_png_nounproject

For fun and exploration

Since I put out the news about working on Fliptrazon, some of my friends and acquaintances have been a little underwhelmed by my ‘startup’. The general comment is like –

“I thought you were going to do something impactful”

This always gets me thinking. And sometimes worried. Life is short. Am I making the best use of my time here? So let me try and make a case for doing something that may not look impactful (tl;dr – for fun).

Continue reading For fun and exploration

A detailed rejection of the arguments in support of Free Basics

Long post warning: This is a long post, with lots of links. But I would urge readers to take the time to read it and digest it. Please do not sign in support of Facebook’s vision of ‘digital equality’ without knowing what it means. In  fact, if there’s even a little doubt, you should not sign it. There is no hurry. On the other hand, if you are convinced by some of these arguments against Free Basics, I would urge you to support the net neutrality campaign – http://www.savetheinternet.in

I was drawn to writing this after I read a debate on a Facebook post by a friend and ex-colleague. The Facebook thread is in turn influenced by a couple of other posts, where the authors presented their arguments in favor of Free Basics and its value on an Facebook thread and another thread on Quora. I am avoiding using names, because writing with names of the respective authors could make my post sound like a personal attack on the authors. The point is to present counter-arguments.

Continue reading A detailed rejection of the arguments in support of Free Basics