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Archive for September, 2006

Keep that office gossipmonger at bay

Posted by Sathyamurthy www.sathyamurthy.com on September 24, 2006

EACH ONE of us has come across this person. He uses innuendos, hints and associations to speak bad about other people. We end up having a bad impression of whoever he is talking about. Intelligently, he twists the information and speaks everything indirectly. It is impossible to nail such persons down. Often, these persons become so irritating; our impulse suggests us to meet the boss immediately. Such a behaviour will impact us negatively and the gossipmonger attains more freedom in his business. The only approach towards a solution is to deal effectively with the gossiper.

Such persons are called “poop stirrers” because they are filled with feelings of powerlessness. They need to have information that others may not have to become powerful. If this person is well-known for having information about things going on in the office, people tend to seek him out for the latest tidbit. In this manner, the poop stirrer regains power, but in an illegitimate way.

The common characteristic of gossip mongers is that they are not firm on the information being shared and lack confidence. They bait others with little information. Curious people get hooked and have to hear many illegible so-called facts. Firstly, you can avoid such conversations by expressing your disinclination towards hearing bad things about other people. The target will be changed to a safe person curious to hear such things. You are left alone.

Most of them talk in a vague manner. The advantage of being vague is that it minimises risk. You can insist him to be specific in his account about anyone. When the gossip-monger understands that you do not accept things without proof, you get to hear lesser number of such tidbits.

Interrupt the information flow. If it is quite sure most of your colleagues perceive him in the same way as you do, a collective action can help stop the problem. Neither you nor your colleagues should participate in the information exchange. Everyone should have a neutral attitude towards his comments. The moment he loses his audience, he is sure to divert the topic himself.

Try to divert attention towards his work. If you can find out how good he is at work, you can discuss his strengths and opportunities whenever you meet him. You will be amazed at his interest to ignore gossip and speak about the future.

If such gossipmongers are back on track, a polite reminder can do wonders. Restate the fact that you do not want to engage in that type of discussion and change the subject immediately. You can divert his attention towards something useful to the organisation. His problems of lack of power will fade as you get in regular touch with him.

Gossipmongers are powerless and like little children, they try to explore ways to feel more powerful. The grapevine is dangerous to all the employees and can hinder organisational growth to a great extent

Source: http://www.thehindu.com

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Whats in a name?

Posted by Sathyamurthy www.sathyamurthy.com on September 24, 2006

A lot in a name, BY RAMACHANDRA GUHA

A look at a few fascinating stories linked to some cricketers’ names…

In a select group: Pataudi (second from right) with the national selection committee members at the Madras Cricket Club (MCC), 1964.

WHEN Mohammed Yousuf is at the wicket, I often stop by the TV and watch, for he is one of the most graceful batsmen now playing. I thus caught snatches of the three long hundreds he scored against England earlier this summer, in the course of which at least two commentators referred to him as “Yousuf Yohana”. The error was human, for, he had indeed played for many years under that name.

Different impulses

Before Yohana converted to Islam, a man from Madras (as it was then known) was the only cricketer to have played Test cricket under two religious affiliations. This was A.G. Kripal Singh, who made his debut for India in the mid 1950s as a bearded, turbaned Sardar and returned to the Test team some years later as a clean-shaven Christian. Where the Pakistani changed faith owing to the influence of his team-mate Saeed Anwar, the Indian had a more personal reason — it was in order to marry the woman he loved. Yousuf’s name change is visible in the record books, although sometimes missed by the commentators. Did the other fellow also change his name? The scorecards suggest he did not, for, before and after his conversion to Christianity, he played under the name of “A.G. Kripal Singh”. However, a Madras cricketer I know, and who was a contemporary of Kripal’s, claims that while he did not change his initials, he did change what they stood for, “Amritsar Gurugobind” becoming “Arnold George”.

More than two thousand men have played Test cricket. Yousuf and Kripal remain the only two to have played while practising two different faiths. Some others have changed or modified their names while retaining their commitment to their ancestral religion. These include at least three other Pakistanis. That country’s first captain was Abdul Hafeez Kardar who, before Partition, had played for India on the 1946 tour of England under the name, simply, of “Abdul Hafeez”.

Then there was Asif Iqbal who, before he migrated to Pakistan in the early 1960s, had appeared for Osmania University under the name of “A.I. Rizvi”. (Years ago, I came across a clipping from The Hindu, which described a dashing hundred he made under that name and for that team at the old Marina ground in Madras.) Then there was Asif’s close contemporary Majid Jehangir, who made his debut for Pakistan as a fast bowler, and later became an opening batsman while adding the surname “Khan”.

The cynical view — which I do not share — is that Yousuf Yohana changed his faith only so that he could captain his country’s cricket team. Oddly enough, Kardar, Asif and Majid all went on to captain Pakistan after changing their names. It is unlikely that Mohammed Yousuf is aware of this, for, modern cricketers do not usually know much about the players of the past. However, it is an augury from which his supporters and admirers can take heart.

Unique achievement

At least one Indian captain also changed his name. This was Mansur Ali Khan, who became the Nawab of Pataudi when not yet in his teens, owing to the early death of his father. The senior Nawab of Pataudi was in a very select list of Test cricketers — of those who had played for more than one country. An orthodox, careful, batsman, he had appeared for England in the 1930s, and went on to captain India in the 1940s.

At the crease the son was rather more of a dasher. He broke his father’s record for the most runs made in an Oxford season, then lost an eye in a road accident. He was still good enough to be chosen to play for India in 1961. This he did, under the name of “Nawab of Pataudi, junior”. The next year, he was unexpectedly elevated to the captaincy, when Nari Contractor was felled by a blow to the head from Charlie Griffith. This brought him into yet another select list — of fathers and sons who have led their countries in Test cricket.

Where Iftikhar Ali had only one series as captain of India, his son Mansur Ali stayed in the job for the better part of a decade. In 1971, he suffered a double demotion. In January of that year, he was replaced as captain of India by Ajit Wadekar; in December, he had his title taken away from him by the Parliament of India. To his credit, he fought his way back into the Test team and, in time, came to captain his country again. However, his last appearances were not as “Nawab of Pataudi, junior”, but as plain “M.A.K. Pataudi”.

Dylan and cricket

If Pataudi’s was the most democratic name change undergone by a cricketer, surely the most charming was that effected by the England fast bowler Bob Willis. He made his first-class debut with the two Christian names his parents gave him. Then he spent a winter following Bob Dylan around the west coast of America. After he returned to England, and cricket, he changed his name by deed-poll to “Robert George Dylan Willis”. As it happens, Dylan is my favourite folk singer too. If I have not added his name to mine, it may only be because I never had a hope in hell of playing Test cricket for my country.

Courtesy: http://www.hindu.com/mag/2006/09/24/stories/2006092400190300.htm
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Do you really need an iPOD or the Zune?

Posted by Sathyamurthy www.sathyamurthy.com on September 21, 2006

Do you really need an iPod or the latest attempt at extending monopoly by Microsoft – Zune? It all depends on the utility value you see rather than what features these handheld portable music/ video devices offer.

Read on this nice article by ZDNet‘s Matthew Miller, that I came across today.

Since the latest Apple iPod and Microsoft Zune announcements I have been trying to think of a way to take video and audio content with me on the go for viewing and listening to while commuting in the vanpool and traveling for business. I almost pulled the trigger on an 80GB iPod and then gave serious thought to the Zune and then yesterday almost went to my local Apple store to get the iPod. However, last night while recording the next MobileTechRoundup podcast Kevin and James asked why I would want to watch video on such a small screen and why not just use the Samsung Q1 UMPC for multimedia. I have actually been using the Q1 for video content on airplane trips and so their statements got me thinking about my desires and available resources just a bit more.

My first consideration is where and when do people plan on and actually view video on a device like an iPod or Zune? I personally commute in a vanpool or bus one hour each way to work so I have the opportunity to view video at that time. I also travel for business a few days a month and have some time on the plane to watch content. However, if I am home then I prefer to watch high definition TV in our rec room. Are there that many people using public transportation where they can watch video content? Are people watching videos while standing in lines, at their homes, or when hanging with their friends? How many hours a week or month do people watch videos on a small screen? Are these devices being used primarily for audio content like music and podcasts?

I think the answer to these questions helps determine how portable the device really has to be for video consumption. I have loaded lots of content on my mobile devices, but watching video is done more to show people what can be done rather than what I actually do on a regular basis. Before picking up the Samsung Q1 I was using my PSP for video content on the airplane because it had a larger display for a more enjoyable viewing experience. Is video content really that enjoyable on a 2 inch iPod display?

My next consideration was how could I obtain video content? There are programs that let you rip a DVD for personal viewing that work well and can be played back on lots of different devices. There are also download services like the new iTunes Movies, CinemaNow, Amazon Unboxing, etc. However, the service you use will dictate what type of device you can use, i.e. iTunes Movies only work on iPods. I have also used a Neuros Recorder 2 to get analog content on devices so there are plenty of options available that work on a number of devices.Now that we see that video content is fairly easy to obtain, how can we collect audio content? You can rip your personal CDs, purchase music online from several online vendors, subscribe to an online service, and download podcasts for free. I only have a handful of CDs in my personal collection and as a result I am more interested in how to get audio content online.

My wife uses iTunes to buy all her music for her Nano at 99 cents per song, but I wanted to try more than just a few songs and didn’t want to shell out hundreds for music right now. I then decided to try the online subscription service and am using Virgin to start off with since they have one of the largest online collections and their US$14.99 monthly fee allows you to listen on a PC or a mobile device that supports Plays For Sure. I have to admit that after just a few hours of downloading and listening I can see how these subscription services are the way to go for people like me who want to try new things and want fresh content and think Apple is really missing something here by not having this functionality. I also think Microsoft is making a mistake by not having the Zune be a Plays For Sure device and shutting out all these companies that have been supporting these MP3 players. I am not sure how many people will embrace the Zune with it’s own separate service and store.So as you can see there are lots of ways to get video and audio content on a device. However, as you can also see the methods you choose can drive what device you can use. Is there a way to get it all without being limited? I thought about this a bit more and came up with what I think is the answer to my dilemma. Use a UMPC device! With my Samsung Q1 UMPC I have iTunes and Virgin’s media application loaded up and have purchased TV shows on iTunes and subscription music on Virgin with podcasts coming in from iTunes (including video podcasts that sometimes have issues playing on some devices). Video is awesome with the larger 7 inch display, audio rocks with the stereo speakers or use of headphones, and I have something like 30GB of storage capacity. Another couple of benefits are that I can use stereo Bluetooth headphones for wireless enjoyment (where is Bluetooth on the iPod or Zune?), I can download content via WiFi, I can backup my content using a USB drive, and I can even do all my work on the go with a full Tablet PC and music playing in the background.

Now while the UMPC allows me to consume and enjoy video and audio content without any restrictions and with a more enjoyable viewing size, there are a couple of cons. The battery life of the current UMPC devices is rather short at about 2.5 to 3 hours of continuous play (I use a Battery Geek Portable Power Station when I travel), the device isn’t as portable as an iPod or Zune, and the media button interface isn’t there on a UMPC. However, for me personally I think the pros of unlimited content choices, larger display, and Bluetooth headset support outweigh these issues. I am actually now looking at a way to take along subscription audio content to the gym in a device that focuses on audio playback to act as a companion to my Q1. It looks like I’ll be spending my money on videos and subscription services and skipping the iPod and Zune hardware for now.

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