Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Is US Really a Free Market?

People says US is a free market. Everything is decided by market, from price of crude oil to the price of aspirin sold in gas station. Government does not interfere or doesn't control price of any commodity. The job is government is to provide competitive and equal environment to all players in business. Sounds good...isn't it?

Yesterday's news that Feds are cutting interest rate by half percent caught my attention and made me thinking that why govt doesn't let market decide what interest rate prevail? Is it against US govt open market statement?

If your are not familiar with stock market or collage level finances you must be wondering how does it matter to you? When interest rates are changed, it affects every single persons life in country whether you know it or not. How? lower interest rate means you get lower returns on you saving, and that is just tip of iceberg, if returns are low in saving people save less and spend more . Lot more money become available in system. More money means higher inflation and price will go up and every one feel the heat. So why govt does that? The answer is simple, to fuel the economy. When bank saving becomes less attractive due to lower interest rate, people invest more in stock market, buy goods and spend their money. So its not surprising when ever feds declare rate cut you see triple digit gain in stock exchanges index.

To understand how feds works we have to go in past. In early nineteenth century all the money in market used to backed by gold in govt reserves. So even govt need more money, they couldn't just print that until they had sufficient gold reserves to back it up. As industrial age arrived, people felt that gold backed economy is inefficient and can't meet demand of new growing economy. So govt decided to remove gold backed currency restriction. With this new power is was in govt control to print what ever money required without backing it with actual gold.

This was very good step for businesses and rapidly growing economy. But extra money in market also could create high inflation and destabilize economy. To avoid this problem govt introduced regulatory bodies, who's whole job is to make a proper money balance, which affects liquidity and inflation, in the market. Fed(Central Bank) works as regulatory body in US.

To regulate money in market Fed has different instrument in their hand. They can either print more money, which generally happens whenever govt budget goes in deficit, or they can change interest rate to move money from one section of market to another section.

So in ideal sense US market is not totally free but rather regulated, which is quite necessary to maintain proper liquidity and inflation in 21st century largest economy in the world.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Google Map can't locate Mountain View (Google Headquarters)

Today I needed to go to Mountain View from my office in San Francisco downtown.
I called my friend, asked his address and typed following address in Google Map's driving direction section:

Start Address: 795 Folsom St San Francisco
End Address: 900 Highland Way, Mountain View, Ca 94041

Surprisingly, Google Map located end address of mountain view in somewhere in San Bernardino near Los Angles, around 400 mile away from its actual location.

Surprised with these results I tried same address with Yahoo Maps, Yahoo found Mountain View correctly but didn't gave me direction till Highland way. At end I tried same query with and it told me that it could not find that street.

I called my friend again to confirm his address and found out I mis-heard the street name first time. After correcting the name every site it correctly.

I was most surprised with the google result, even though I had given the wrong street name, I had given everything else correctly even mountain view zip code. In the Google's result there were no indication that something is wrong with street name or address.

Till now I used to think that Google has done wonderful job with human language interpretation technology to understand users queries in its search technologies, but today's experience will force me to reconsider my decision.
What is ironic with this experiance is that Google has its headquarters in Mountain View, Ca

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Why can't we travel faster than light

Why can't we travel faster than light ??? As all we know that it is not possible Because Einstein said so.... I was trying to find out some common men explanation from the internet and came across to different explanation for this problem:

  • One explanation tell that as matter move faster and faster it becomes heavier and heavier and to accelerate it by speed of light it will take infinite amount of energy.
  • Another way to explain this is with the help of 4th dimension. As all we know space can be represented by 3 axis; X, Y and Z and when you traveling from point A to point B the distance between them can be figure out A and B coordinates.
    Einstein suggested another dimension, a 4th dimension for time and with the help of some complicated mathematics(Which I was not able to understand) he proved following relationship
Speed in Space + Speed in Time = Speed of Light

So as per this relationship if somehow you can manage to travel faster than light in space time will start moving backward( Wow I have just figure out way to build time machine only part left is to build a rocket which can move faster than light)
So even when you are not traveling in space( or even on earth) you are always traveling at speed of light in 4th dimension.

Don't worry if you think your inter-galactic travel is going to take millions of year for your holiday vacation to our closest galaxy (say M31) scientists have good news for you. Faster inter-galactic travel can be achieved with wormholes

Sunday, September 2, 2007

BlackBerry for Sale

There are rumors that Microsoft and Research In Motion, makers of BlackBerry are talks for possible acquisition. RIM share touches all time high on last Friday.

If these talks end into success than it might be the largest acquisition in Microsoft history. On Friday RIM market cap crossed 47.5 Billion. If everything goes smooth than whole this acquisition may cost up 55 Billion to Microsoft.
This acquisition can give Microsoft great edge over competition, since BlackBerry has penetrated business user market across the globe. On the other hand Micrcosoft Windows Mobile is not that successful, although you can find them in some of Motorola Q and Plam Treo smartphones.

Another reason to believe in this rumor is that Microsoft is in immense pressure from Apple's iPhone and possible launch of Google phone. If Microsoft want to maintain its grip on mobile market this seems a logical move.

In the separate press release Microsoft and Research In Motion denied to comment on news saying its their general policy not to comment on speculation and rumors.

BigFlick's Big Plan

Reliance ADAG has announced to launch with plan to operate online and retails store to rent bollywood movies to Indian community in india and abroad. The business model seems similar to US Blockbuster Inc .
Additional to online and retail sale/rental, company is offering to providing download service to all new Bollywood releases on same day of release. More detail can be found about investment can be found here.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

How to use categories in Blogger

Word press has nice feature categorization, where you can associate your post to different categories for better management of your blogs. This help you as well as your readers for better navigation.
Blogger solves this problem in different way, it has borrowed concept of labeling from Gmail, where you can create different label and associate with your post. To use this feature set up your account as follows:
  1. Login to your account and go to Dashboard
  2. Click on Settings under manage.
  3. Click on Template-->Page Elements Tab.
  4. Add a page element in the section you want to show the categories.
  5. Navigates to Labels in popup page and add to page(You can customize display name for labels)
  6. Now whenever you create post give a label to it and list of all label will be shown on your post

How to choose between blogging services, Wordpress, TypePad or Blogger

This weekend was evaluating some blogs for my own use.
In this evaluation I looked at following services
  • TypePad
  • Wordpress
  • Blogger
Considering features TypePad looks very impressive with lots of integration from third party to include content from Amazon, Skype, ProStores, Technorati and Pandora. TypePad is a paid blogging service starting at $4.95 per month, but basic version is limited in functionality like just allowing 1 blog for user. Since I am not planning to become a profession blogger and didn't expect any income from my posts. I am not interested to pay monthly fee when I can find similar service for free. So I dropped idea to create an account on TypePad.

Wordpress on the other hand is a free service and very very easy to use. It has wide verity of template to choose from and provide many good features which will be useful in long run. Like you can categorize your post which will be helpful for your readers as well as for you if you write on regular basis. You can also create sub categories which can come handful. Another nice feature for wordpress is that you can install it on your server if your server support PHP and mySql, but that would be useful only if you are advance user and keep all the data in your control. With own installation you can add and customize the solution specific to needs.

With all these features and easy of use it is a great site for users. I was very happy for the first hour. But as soon I tried to add some content from other site using javascript and html(specially iFrame, a technologies behind widgets revolution from Google, netvibes and lot other sites) it failed to display those. After goggling on this problem I found that wordpress stripes all javascript/html changes from your post, so you cann't include this widgets on your post until you install it on your server. Same issue came when I tried to integrate with feedburner. Even with these limitation it is great site for mainstream users and I strongly recommend it for anyone who doesn't have basic knowledge of programming or doesn't need advance features.

Since I am a software programmer by profession I was wanted to something more than just plain blogging( and obviously free of charge). So I continued my search and moved to next to next site in my list. is another free site owned and operated by Google. It is also decent site, but not as user friendly as Wordpress. Blogger template collection also seems limited w.r.t wordpress. On the other hand blogger provides you option to edit html which is a big plus over competition specially if you know how to decode html. Blogger also have option to customize your different section to your post. e.g. you can add list of your favorite website or movies or books to it. Also it is pretty nice integration with other google services like adsense, feedburner etc. Also it doesn't block inclusion of different widgets on your page.

I finally decided to stick with Google. Mainly due to its greater integration flexibility, better customization and cost benefits.