Is Open Office Setup A Fail? My View & Discussions

I recently wrote a Facebook post sharing a sentiment that open office setup / modern work stations is a fail.  At Pricebaba we have always had an open setup and I always considered it to be a good thing in the initial days. However as the team grew we started seeing occasional complaints of ‘too much noise’ but the underlining problem escaped my mind because most of us were on desktops. As we grew and moved to a larger space with most people shifting to laptops overtime, we realised that this setup is a big problem! Many people (including me) started to escape into meeting rooms with their laptops. One of our advisors even commented that finding a closed room / section for developers will up their productivity by 50% or more.

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Here is what my post read:

I am leaning towards agreeing 100% with this.

“The open office plan is a tyrant of interruption, a deep loss of privacy, and the death of productivity.”

The above quote is from a post by Yan on Quartz. He covers the Open Office topic and that sparked my search for more comments from friends about what they feel. Here are a few responses to this. Read More

Little Things That Make Me Stick To iOS

iphone 6 annkur

Its been a decade since I got a smartphone for myself. Right from the Treo 600/650, XDAs to the Nokia E series, I happened to use all the pre-iPhone era devices. But for a good part of this last decade, I have stuck to the iPhone. So far I have tried twice to move to Android with a lot of conviction. First with the Galaxy Nexus and second time with the Moto X 1st gen (I moved to a 5s from there as hinted here). One of my complaints from Android phones I owned always has been the poor camera, but that can be excused given that I never bought a top of the line Android phone for myself. May be my experience would have been different had I got something more mainstream like the Galaxy S5 / S6 or the Nexus 5x (priced Rs 26-30k – it fits my budget) today.

But the camera issue aside, I have been trying to figure what habits of using an iPhone has me locked down into this iOS world? There are a few small things, moving away from which would mean a bit of a learning curve on Android. Perhaps that’s what makes me fret every time I think of moving to Android.  Read More

Marketplaces Are Tricky, Flipkart Needs To Learn From eBay

With most e-commerce players in India moving towards a marketplace model, I have been intrigued as to why eBay.in (Baazee) isn’t the talking point when it comes to e-commerce. They are THE marketplace, they have their own payment gateway since ages and I know first hand that they have done a ton of leg work to get good resellers on board, educating the ecosystem, finesse the dispute resolution process and get an huge variety of inventory online. It is very tough for marketplaces to standardize the supply and give the consumers a good experience!

Here are a few recent incidents with Flipkart. Note: I have high hopes from FK, but not at all from Snapdeal, do see this as an optimistic feedback. I am not even bothering writing about Snapdeal, my only purchase from them was a bad experience and I have heard many negative reviews and hence Flipkart gets my attention & criticism. 

Incident 1: I purchased a Age of Mythology game from Flipkart recently and got the product via a reseller in Delhi. The packing was ordinary (I have been spoilt by WS Retail’s shipping) and I had a faint doubt if the game is pirated. It worked, but I wasn’t 100% convinced. I am still not convinced, but I think it is a genuine game. However the distributor / importer & MRP sticker was missing from the pack I received and that makes me skeptical. I asked my friends on twitter and here are the tweets exchanged. For once, I am not 100% convinced on the quality.

Flipkart AOM

 

Incident 2: Read More

Wordcamp Mumbai #WCMumbai 2014

Annkur Wordcamp Mumbai

After missing the first Wordcamp India (Delhi) in 2009, last year I got an opportunity to attend the my first Wordcamp at Pune. I got introduced to a whole new set of like minded junta (yet the ones who would blow me away with their talent, creativity & lightheartedness). I also travelled to Baroda to participate at Wordcamp earlier this year and when WC finally arrived to hometown Mumbai, I couldn’t wait to see how the participants mix here would be.

From what I saw, this was one of the only events in Mumbai with more developers than non techies (success or failure?). Wordcamp by its nature attracts a lot of community folks from across the country and that is something I really love. People traveling from Kolkata, Lucknow, all parts of Gujarat and Maharashtra for an event = wow. The Mumbai organizers surely did great by keeping the ticket pricing at Rs 300 (or pay whatever you like over 300) – cheers to Gounder, Kane and the team!  Read More

Journalistic Integrity & Samsung Mobilers

We saw a controversy around CJ’s Berlin visit with Samsung today. The story is evolving and a lot of too and fro would happen. I don’t want to get into that here. I tweeted about an incident where we were offered Nokia T-shirts to wear on a trip to Goa where the Belle series were introduced. I along with a couple of others didn’t wear it. Some bloggers who are taking great offense to Samsung’s treatment to CJ agreed to wear a Nokia t-shirt and being filmed / photographed during the trip.

Now before I make my point, here I am not pointing out malpractices by any company or something that I have an objection too. My point is about my conduct as a journalist / blogger. 

Samsung Mobilers?

My friend Raju suggested that the bloggers (or some bloggers) visiting Berlin with Samsung aren’t reporters on a media Junket. They are part of a marketing program called ‘Samsung Mobiles’. That is debatable, but let’s consider it too.

If I were to be a Samsung Mobiler (under a marketing program and not a reporter) and I also run a technology blog . I might even give a quote or two for a local newspaper about technology and tweet my opinions on the tech industry. The question is, shouldn’t my audience, the reader know about my affiliation with Samsung under a marketing program if I am writing about Nokia or HTC or any other mobile company for that matter?

Consider the flip side, if I am visiting Berlin under the Mobilers program believing myself to be a journalist / reporter, how would my readers trust me if I am wearing a ‘Samsung T-shirt’ and covering their products? Doesn’t that reflect bias?

During my time at OnlyGizmos, this was a tussle I had with the environment at times.

I may not know what Mobilers is, but no matter how we brand it, a marketing program or a modified media junket, it raises doubts on how the journalistic integrity is maintained.

Welcome Junglee, You Got Work To Do

Junglee - Amazon India

This morning I wake up with yet another ecommerce launch and this is the much hyped entry of Amazon in India. People may like, hate or justify the current model that Junglee (Amazon) has adopted and we can all speculate on what would the future be. But as a consumer, a retailer and a user of these same ecommerce sites since over 10 years, I am saddened to see that Amazon makes a mistake that the Indian ecommerce scene has long forgotten.

The very first mobile listed on Junglee.com, a Samsung Galaxy SII is priced at Rs 28,400 on the homepage. A quote lower than what Pricebaba shows for Mumbai and given that most reputed sites are listing the SII for over Rs 30,000, this is a fantastic offer. But wait, click on the thumbnail, and then click again on the seller information page of the lowest bidder and you shall see this

Junglee Transaction

… and if you clicked Visit Seller Store instead, you will notice this only on the checkout page of a site that is at best, Web 1.0.

Charging shipping extra is fine. Charging extra for credit card transaction is ok. But after several clicks quoting me Rs 1998 as Tax is not. Lucrative advertising with hidden charges is a practice most e-retail players gave up sometime back. Amazon has work in hand to curate the experience I get on Junglee. The ‘we are a platform’ wordings hasn’t worked for eBay as an excuse to compete with the ones who are really delivering a good experience, there is no reason Junglee would be an exception!

Welcome Junglee, You Have Work To Do! 

Disclaimer: Pricebaba is my venture.

Lessons In Customer Service

HDFC Twitter

On a day when I find myself defending two companies who have me as a client since years, I find it so obvious to share this simple lesson on customer service. In any industry it isn’t possible to give 100% satisfaction, something ought to go wrong sometime, somewhere. Specially if you are a bank or a hosting service dealing with large no of users. So I find these two gentlemen one after the other, complaining about their experience with HDFC and Hostgator respectively.

Both HDFC and Hostgator are service providers whom I have been very satisfied with (In fact this site is hosted on Hostgator since inception).  When I saw the first tweet from Ashutosh about HDFC asking for a photo identity for a simple work, I replied and defended HDFC. My defense was partly from my experience and largely in good faith. HDFC has been good to me, not perfect, but generally very good. And I jumped to defend them. Pause.

Take 2. Read More