When a Brain Scientist Experiences a Stroke

Jill Bolte Taylor is a neuroanatomist specializing in post-mortem investigation of the human brain. She speaks at TED of her experience during a stroke. Coming from a noted scientist (she is the national spokesperson for the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center), it’s rare to hear a message validated mostly by personal experience.
I suppose we don’t have any instruments today to validate her experience.
An interesting watch.

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What a Wonderful World

After seeing this video, I don’t think anybody can stop themselves from saying… ‘What a Wonderful World’.

Louis Armstrong’s deep voice and Raymond Crowe’s flawless shadow pupeteering come together to make a memorable video.

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US Startup Visa Proposal

The United States was known as a land of opportunity. But a recession, followed by tougher immigration norms has closed the economy significantly.

A US Startup Visa, being proposed by Senator Richard Lugar opens possibilities for win-win relationships between international entrepreneurs who can create jobs in the US and the American citizen looking for work opportunities.

More details in Vivek Wadhwa (Harvard Law School/Duke University)’s TechCrunch article: http://tcrn.ch/eJ5X40

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The Startup Acid Test: Five Questions to Think Through Before Starting Up

So you have a great idea and have decided to create your own startup? Excellent news! Write down your idea in detail, and get ready for some bullet-proofing exercises.

Note 1: Your brain WILL try to convince you that your idea is golden.

Note 2: This exercise can be depressing. If you breeze through this, you’re ready to take off. If not, there are still ideas out there, waiting to be captured.

Question 1. Is the idea already implemented ?

OR
Have you checked … really checked .. for another implementation?

If not, now is the time. You don’t want to find out months into your startup that you’re reinventing the wheel.

2. Who is your closest competitor? How different is your idea?

OR

Would the customer care enough to come to you?

Don’t assume there’s no competition. Explore what the nearest competition is, and understand how they work.

3. How will you generate revenue?

OR

Is there more than an ad supported model here?

Ad supported websites led to repeated bubble bursts. It is possible, but you need to be able to drive large traffic before receiving any substantial returns.

4. Do you have the expertise to implement it (or do you have access to experts)?

Getting into a brand new space can seem deceptively easy at first. Speaking to people in the field already will help you gauge your readiness to enter.

5. How much will it cost? Can you bootstrap your startup? (that is, fund your startup yourself)

Venture Capital is great. But remember, it’s still a loan. Be as realistic and think long term.

Once you’ve successfully completed this exercise and things look good, consider putting together a business plan to get more into the details. Some basic business plans can be found on the SCORE website.

Don’t fret if you found something that’s already implemented. You can still consider targeting a separate market segment or making changes that customers would care about. Then, repeat this exercise.

Think something else should be on here? Share important questions to consider when starting up.

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Death of DimDim

“Dimdim – it’s the best thing since sliced bread!”, I remember exclaiming to my partner – just two years ago. “We can now be in two different cities, hold meetings online. And for no charge (zippo, nada, free)!”

With the great find of dimdim, I would always sneer at ads from citrix talking about go2meeting, or cisco touting webex. After all, there’s something free out there, that just works.

Unfortunately, the freemium model doesn’t seem to work always. I got a plaintext email shocker the other day, that said it quite simply:

Dear Customer:

Dimdim has been acquired by salesforce.com. Your free Dimdim account will remain active until March 15, 2011. After that date, you will no longer be able to access your free Dimdim account.

Please see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for additional information.

We appreciate your understanding, and we thank you!

The Dimdim Team

That’s it. That’s how I was hit with it. I’m sure the thousands of dimdim users (millions, perhaps?), will be looking at salesforce.com as the bad guys, as accounts shut down, and the saga plays out.

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Downloaded iPhone Apps Don’t Launch!

Courtesy: gussifer | thecolorawesome.comWithout any warning, all my iPhone apps stopped working yesterday. Only the original apps like Contacts, Mail and Notes were working.

I tried syncing or restarting the phone, but neither helped.
As soon as any downloaded app launches, it would fail, and I’ll go back to the home screen. No error message. That’s it.

After doing some research, I found a way that worked to restore the phone properly. If you’re facing the same problem, hopefully these will help you as well.

This is the step by step procedure. All apps on my phone are now working perfectly:

1. Connect to a wireless network (avoid doing this on 3G, as one user said it didn’t work on 3G)

2. Go to the app store from your phone, and update any apps for whom updates are available.
In case you don’t have any updates pending, downloading a new app should do the trick as well.
3. Wait for the app to install fully.
4. Shutdown the phone (Keep power button pressed, until power-off slider shows. Then slide it to power off).
5. Power up.
6. Voila! Everything should be back in order now!

I hope this helps you. More later!

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BillMonk: Keep track of your money (and stuff)

If I came up with a list of sites that makes life easier, BillMonk would certainly figure in it.

If you split bills with a roommate, share expenses on a trip, or lose track of books lent out – BillMonk can make your life easier!

BillMonk allows you to text in your bills, or use their interface (which is my preferred way) to log expenses. It keeps track of how much is owed, and can send friendly reminders to your friends to pay up as well :-). Friends and I have been using it for a while now, and except for occasional performance issues, we find it is an excellent tool to keep the finances straight. Recommended!

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Smooth Theft

One would often think that thieves come stealthily in the night, or wait patiently for an opportune moment.

I faced another type of theft yesterday. A sort of – it’s lying out in the open – you can steal it if you like – theft.

I stay in this community in Richmond, Virginia, called The Crossings. I ordered a laptop online, and it was fedexed in earlier this month. The community office signed for it and kept it with them. This is standard procedure.

The only problem is – when I went to pick it up, the laptop just wasn’t there!

The community office calmly explained to me, that it has disappeared. There was no explanation given.

Though they agreed they signed for it, they said, ‘The Fedex guy brings a clipboard, and we just sign it’. They added with a smile – ‘We never saw a laptop box. Trust us, we know what a laptop box looks like.”

Well so where does that leave me? After talking to Fedex, it looks like the insurance on the item runs out once it is signed for. The community office did agree to check once more with all their employees. They will get back to me tonight. Hopefully with some good news. Sigh.

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Stay Focused with StayFocusd

StayFocusd image

Ever sat down with your laptop to accomplish something, only to find an hour later that you didn’t get anywhere.

When I noticed hours of my life getting wasted thanks to the web’s distractions, I searched for something to keep me focused on my work.

That’s when I found the Chrome Extension, stayfocusd.

With stayfocusd, I found that I can limit time on sites that I end up wasting time on. For example, gmail and google news are two such sites for me. Stayfocusd lets me limit the amount of time I spend on the sites each day, and shows how much time I’ve spent. Pretty neat!

Wanting some real focused work time, I tried the ‘Nuclear’ option. With this option, stayfocusd only allows surfing sites that I have explicitly set to ‘allowed’. For me, when I want to write, these sites are wikipedia, google docs and my blog.

Stayfocusd also has a great set of checks to keep you working. If you do try to sneak into a disallowed site, this is the message you’ll get:

When Stayfocsd catches you drifting!

That’s a nice way to tell you to get back to work, isn’t it?

Stayfocusd is not fool proof, however, and if you want to cheat – you can find work arounds. At the same time, I think this is a good thing. If I need to go to another site for my research, being able to consciously work around the few sites, helps get the work done.

Having tried it for a month now, I can say that thanks to stayfocusd I have been able to boost my online productivity. To see if others have a similar experience, I tested stayfocusd with an MBA student having trouble working on case studies. He got back to me after a week, happy to report that the extension helped him concentrate and effectively get through his cases. Also, he was grateful that his facebook addiction was getting checked!

So if you’re like me, and find that popups, news, or emails distract you from work- then I recommend giving stayfocusd a try.

Note: This reviews is without any endorsement, and contains my own views.

Mobile Post Número Uno

Readers!

I had setup my wordpress blog with great enthusiasm back in April.
But there was a drop in the excitement when my iPhone’s blogging application refused to post to my self hosted blog.

Things have since improved since then, and if you’re reading this post, I am now able to blog from my phone.

While its great that i can now say what i want from anywhere; I do hope it’s something worth saying.

Okay. And here ends my first mobile blog. Yay?

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