Thoughts on Tizen

Users won’t buy a phone till they know that their basic set of apps are available on the device.
That pretty much rules out players like BlackBerry 10JollaUbuntu OS and Firefox OS.
Even Microsoft is still struggling.
OEMs like Samsung, HTC, LG, Sony have been hit hard by commoditization of Android. Google makes money from Google Play, cheaper phones imply more users. So, commoditization of Android OEMs is good for Google.
These OEMs have to customize Android as per Google’s requirements which have increased over time.
They cannot manufacture a competing version of Android (like Amazon’s Fire Phone) either.
This leaves us with iOS and Google-experience Android duopoly.
The only way to break that duopoly is Samsung, which is big enough that it can convince major developers to develop apps for its devices and throw money at marketing to reach out to end users.
It can make money from selling devices as well as selling apps (via app store).
A completely open source OS can pull open source developers from GNU/Linux and Android to develop it.
A completely open source OS can convince other OEMs to use it and in lieu, they can partner with Samsung on app store revenue sharing.
It remains to see what Tizen’s delayed launch eventually leads to but its a matter of survival for Samsung.

 

Book summary: The science of happily ever after by T Y Tashiro

The book is an interesting take on what it takes to attain happy marriage and why only ~30% of us end up in happy marriages.
The book is divided into three sections – what is love, why we fail in the game of love and what can we do differently to succeed at it.

The nature of love

Why happily ever after is so hard to find

  1. In the western world,
    1. 50% of marriages end up in divorce,
    2. ~10-15% are separated without divorce and
    3. ~7% go along with an unhappy marriage
      which implies only 30% live happily ever after.
  2. Being “in love” is equivalent to having a “liking” (fairness, kindness, loyalty) and a “lust” (sexual desire).
  3. Post-marriage, liking declines at about 3% annually while lust declines 8% annually (in first 7 years of marriage) => from a long term perspective, its better to invest in liking than lust.
  4. Children’s fairy-tale belief about love is beautiful girl falling in for a brave hero and they fall for each other in minutes. This is far from what happens in reality

Continue reading

At a local bus stand in mexico…

[At a local bus stand in Mexico]

After I explained to my mother that to ask for time in Spanish (Espanol), she has to start with ke time se (Haryanvi), replace time with hora and reverse se to es.
She turns to her left and asks the mexican mujer (woman), ke [que] hora es.
The mujer shows her watch and tells the time in espanol, which of course was incomprehensible for us.
Las dos mujeres (The two women) then laughed.

It all went as expected till the mexican mujer asks my mother “habla espanol” (do you speak spanish), to which my mother (learning from my previous interactions with Mexicans) replies poquito (a little bit), and I gave her with a perplexed look.

Android command-line: gradle and testing

For android projects, some engineers use Android Studio (new), some use Eclipse with ADT (old), few like me still savor command line, this blog post is about handling (building, installing and testing) android projects from command line.

  1. To create android project
  2. After changing to directory test_android_app (cd test_android_app), fix a bug

     
  3. Some useful gradle commands
  4. The code will be in src directory, eg. for the Main activity, code is in src/main/java/net/ashishb/TestAndroidApp/Main.java and test is in src/androidTest/java/net/ashishb/TestAndroidApp/MainTest.java
  5. For testing, modify the Main class and add square method,

    And in MainTest
  6. Modify build.gradle to add a testing config

     
  7. Run the test(s)
  8. Complete code can be seen at https://github.com/ashishb/android_gradle_demo

Book summary: Bogleheads guide to investing

While the book is overall a good book, unfortunately, it contains a lot of generic financial advice as well which I decided not to include in the summary.

Choose a sound financial lifestyle

  1. Borrowers borrow money from future (in form of credit loans) till the lifestyle collapses, consumers consume money paycheck to paycheck, keepers focus on accumulating wealth over time.
  2. The focus on net worth mentality (over paycheck mentality) strongly works in keepers favor.

Start early and invest regularly

  1. Compounding is key to building wealth, people who save and invest early on gets a huge advantage.

Know what you are buying

  1. Stocks represent ownership in a corporation.
  2. Bonds are equivalent of lending money to a corporation who returns you interest on that till it finally pays you the original value (short term bonds – <1 year, intermediate term – 2-10 years, long term – 10 years or more).
  3. Treasury bonds can be purchased directly from treasurydirect.gov – Series I and TIPS are recommended as inflation protected bonds.
  4. Municipal bonds are state and federal tax-exempt.
  5. Bond funds are a collection of bonds with varying maturity dates, the weighted average maturity of them is called duration (A bond funds with duration of 4 years is expected to lose about 4% is value if interest rates go up by 1%).
  6. Bond fund (short term – 1 to 4 year maturity, intermediate term – 4 to 10 years maturity, long term – 10 year or more maturity)
  7. A 27-year old should hold ~27% of net investments in bonds.
  8. Mutual funds buy securities (equities, bonds or could be hybrid).
  9. Fund of funds buy other mutual funds (famous fund of fund is Vanguard lifestrategy funds).
  10. Mutual funds are priced at the end of the day (based on the value of equities/bonds they hold).
  11. Annuities combine insurance with investment, mixing the two is a bad idea, therefore, people are better of considering things like 401(K), IRA etc rather than annuities.
  12. ETFs are like mutual funds but they are traded continuously in the market (which means they can be valued at higher or lower than the value of underlying securities).

Continue reading

Book Summary: “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert B. Cialdini

The book talks about various psychological tactics used by compliance practitioners (salesman, waiters, card dealers, fund raisers etc.) to influence us into saying yes to something to which ideally we would have said no.
The author actually went and performed the roles of car salesman, waiter etc. to see the tactics in action.

All tactics used can be put in one of the six categories, each of which form basis of a chapter of the book.

Weapons of influence

Fixed action patterns, exploitability of shortcuts (fixed action patterns) and the power these lend to people who can use them form the components of automatic influence.

Continue reading

“material design” and Google’s strategy

 

Android

Before 2008, smart phones OS market was fragmented.
There were few big names like Palm and Symbian but most phone manufacturers were doing their own operating systems (Motorola alone had five operating systems).
In 2008, Google came out with an open source smart phone OS.
Mobile phone manufacturers like Samsung, Motorola and HTC embraced it and made short term profits till they got commoditized by a standardized OS controlled by Google.
On the other hand, Nokia and Blackberry decided to ignore and badly lost market share.
Eventually they embraced it as well, albeit, in different forms but it seems its a bit late.
The only winner (till now) is Apple, who was simultaneously working on its own iPhone and has held its ground really well primarily, due to superior UI design and user experience on iOS.

Material Design

Till 2014, web design has been fragmented, flat design is popular but no one controls it.
There are a few big names in web UI development like BootstrapFoundation but most companies are either using home grown or open source jQuery libraries/CSS libraries for design.
In 2014, Google has come out with Material Design, and just like Android, its being given out for free.
Even Android 5.0 is using the same material design.
While app developers are almost bound to replicate material design for android apps, the choice of offering the design to web developers is an interesting one.
If a sizable chunk of web developers decide to embrace material design, Google will control look and feel of the web.
If the android apps and websites will look similar then it will only persuade more and more iOS developers to use material design in iOS apps.

The end game is to corner Apple in user experience by producing a design which Apple will be either forced to adopt or produce something different and superior.
As far as others big players are concerned, both embracing and ignoring material design will be an equally bad proposition.

Disclaimer: Thoughts are solely mine. 
Disclosure: I used to work at Google.

Book summary: The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

Some salient notes from the book

  1. If there’s an elephant in the room, introduce it.
  2. Even if you are in position of strength, be fair.
  3. Have something to bring on the table, people would be more welcoming of you to join in then.
  4. Get the fundamentals right, fancy stuff does not work without that.
  5. When you are screwing up and nobody says anything, they have given up on you (that’s a really bad place to be).
  6. Playing sports is not about learning the technicalities of the game but about teamwork, perseverance, sportsmanship, value of hard work and ability to deal with adversity.
  7. The brick walls are there for a reason. They are not there to keep us out, they are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.
  8. Manage time explicitly like money
  9. You can always change your plan, but only if you have one.
  10. Ask yourself: are you spending your time on right things
  11. Delegate your work as much as possible
  12. What’s more fun than fulfilling one’s own dreams is to helping someone else fulfill their dreams.
  13. Use positive language, “When does this [Disney] park close?” is to be responded with “This park is open till 8 PM”.
  14. Don’t complain about your problems, whining does not help, focus on working harder instead.
  15. Almost everyone has a good side, if you wait long enough, it will come out.
  16. Focus on what people do not what they say.
  17. Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.
  18. You can be an optimist if you have a contingency plan for what to do when all hell breaks loose.
  19. A bad apology is worse than no apology.
  20. No job is beneath you, do you best at whatever job you are put to.
  21. Rights come with responsibilities.
  22. If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself. The dreams will come to you.