Sunday, September 25, 2011

About the forbidden fruit

From Evernote:

Something about the forbidden fruit

Apple, and not the fruit because a lots been written about that, but the company really. Well lots has been written about it too, and not much I can add, but since I have to defend it day in and day out, thought I'd just settle it once and for all. So next time you get into an argument and find me not defending Apple (just because I find it pointless), well dont think you won, because am gonna point you right to this post.
Anyways so first heres my attempt at describing apple, people say its a technology firm, well no, thats google, simply because they do tech for the sake of tech. Just because they know they can do cool stuff with tech, they make products to showcase that tech. They are not a consumer products company, thats Samsung and Sony, and they are not a content company, they don't generate any content of their own, although given what Jobs did with Pixar, they could be awesome at that as well. And lets not even talk about Microsoft, they are just driven by revenues, and so are really a selling company, and frankly not worth even discussing here.
So what is apple, well in the simplest terms they are a marketing firm. I learnt marketing from Prof Chandan Chatterjee, and the one thing that stuck is any company is about just two things, the idea and the marketing of that Idea. Apple isin't really the idea generator, they didnot come up with the touchscreen, they didnt come up with the distribution model...but they knew how to use them. And how to build on it!
Marketing starts from the idea, the inception, and all the way upto the demise of the idea and everything in the middle. Marketing is really the lifecycle of an idea, and Apple is awesome at that.
So what really makes Apple different. well,
  1. They are consumer focussed - for apple the only thing that matters and that drives there every decision is the for the end users.
  2. And most of the times it is by knowing that users dont know what they want, and if they do, someone else will build it. Apple guides, coaxes and many times forces the users into choices. Think no floppy drives, think no focus groups.
  3. Apple is disciplined - they have strong strong almost unshakable culture, out of which comes this discipline, an example of which is the secrecy around their products, its not easy in todays media centric world to keep a secret and Apple does that all the time. That takes discipline, which i think really comes out of the DNA of Jobs.
  4. And the culture also gives Apple its balls, the company as a whole is not affected by what the users want it to do, they are not scared of what other companies are doing, they dont launch products because they have to be in a space. And they have the guts to say no, say no to flash for example. And not to make a low cost product which doesnt have a cohesive and complete set of features
  5. Apple is all about give something which is perfect (as per them) or not give at all. That is why rejected 3 different Tablet prototypes, before going ahead with the iPad. They wait for things, they don't give half baked products ala Microsoft. 
  6. Design, design and design and keeping it simple. They know users are not tech savvy, they know that technology is a tool to make life easier and convinient, and not everything. They know that tech is a part of life and not life itself, and so they design and redesign till technology becomes intutive. They also know what technology can do and should do for you, and dont try to make the panacea for everything, only the things possible and logical.
  7. Thinking of platforms and not individual products or services. They build complete cohesive solutions, which might includes multiple products / services, which talk seamlessly to each other. And they know where to stop, they dont try to integrate with the world, only things which are possible, and sustainable. 
  8. Control everything, because then only can you achieve what you dreamed off...and so be pervasive, in the entire vertical of design to manufacturing column. They make their own processors all the way up to productivity apps. And horizontally as well. From their helpdesk to retail stores.
  9. Being different - and not for the sake of being so, but because it makes sense and then because it makes them stand out. They question everything, why should an iPad have 5 Mpx camera when the only practical use for it can be video calling? Why can't an Apple store be more then just place to sell, why can't it be an experience instead of a shop, and why can't it become a monument in a city as full of modern monuments as New York. And being diferent in everything.
  10. And so many other smaller reasons...some of which others have, but hardly any company has most of them, and none, none have all! 
Well so that said, this was not really what inspired me to write this post, the inspiration was that after a lot of searching I finally found something wrong with the company...the lack of giving back. And that is the one reason my Venture will be differnet. A lot of articles, on Apple becoming the most valued company for some hours, made the point that even though sitting on 300+ billion dollars, apple doesn't give back. And not only as charity, they also dont give back to the technology estblishment. They dont contribute in open source projects, they dont share they code, their knowledge. They dont let their engineers host events and talk about tech. Why so I dont know, charity part, giving money out, I dont believe in either, but contributing to the community and letting everyone progess instead of hiding behind patents, that I do. Maybe they believe the best way they can contribute is by making awesome products, or maybe they just don't want to, i don't know, maybe thats the part of the apple which got bitten off, but something, in my humble opinion, they should do.
And why the forbidden fruit, well because, once you get a taste of it, there is nothing else which can please you. Point in case, my second iPhone is as good as dead and i still won't change it for an android or anything out there, simply because, there are no phones for me, just iPhones. Too much i know!!! 
PS: I havent worked at Apple and I dont have first hand knowledge of how they function, this is all from my reading about Apple, and from experiencing there products and services and more then anything thinking about them. And most of all, because I admire the company to the point of being passionate. So if my facts are wrong, please feel free to point out, if you disagree and have valid point please comment. Don't talk about things like Apple is elitist and Apple culture is un-democratic. They might be, and I give a damn!!! 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Not Random...

I have for the longest times believed there is no such thing as random. Well when I say for the longest of times, the thought actually came when I was writing my thesis and required a random number generator for some GA work. Excel (yep my thesis was written in the humble Excel) had a random number generator, where you put in an upper value and a lower value and a random number will be generated between those two values. Now I thought, you are anyways limiting the range, and since the significance is also decided, there are a limited number of values that the number generated can take...!

also and more importantly, there has to be some algorithm by which the number is generated, which means if you have the algorithm, there is not such thing as random. 
What is random, but something which cannot be determined beforehand. So basically what we are saying is random can come out of only things where we don't have a way to predict the next value, we don't know the trend or the pattern or the algorithm. 

But the thought is just because we don't know it, doesn't mean someone else doesn't know. Who ever built it would surely know it, because s/he wrote the algorithm or designed the pattern in the first place. Its just that we are seeing such a small part of the pattern, we are not even seeing one block of the pattern and so don't even realize that there is one, and thus assume its random. As you go higher, and you understand more of the pattern, you can start predicting. 
Or maybe its just so complex that you have not worked out all the factors which affect it, one you do, you know the algo and end of randomness.

So the idea is that whatever level you are at, everything that you are seeing below will form a pattern and so be understandable and predictable and not random, where as everything above you, won't be, because you are below its level and still climbing, and maybe even part of it. If you have seen X-Files, there is an episode where Scully and Moulder know that the clue to something is on the floor...but can't make out. Then Moulder climbs a staircase and looks down, and he can make out a box X. So as you rise above the level, you realize what it is. 

Come to think of it, I first saw this in my 9th std class, where a really strict (and as you will see bored) Gujju language proff would ask students to read from the textbook. And like any other language teacher, he would pick random students, so that everyone was paying attention. In one class I paid attention to how he was choosing students, and after about 7-8 students, a pattern emerged. And I started predicting the totally random selection and became the hero for the day...(because now I told whose chance was next and so everyone else could relax). Ofcourse after I realized the pattern, I completely lost interest in it, was almost like 'thats it, i thought he would be more intell then that'.

Well anyways, so the thing is that once you realize and work out something you always kinda loose interest and move on. So going by that theory, at some date, way way into the future, we should be able to work out everything, and then there shall be no random. Everything shall be known, and that truly will be the end of progress and human kind. 
But this is where it gets interesting, I truly believe, that we will never be able to get to that stage, even if Mankind survives for infinity, simply because complexity also tends to infinity (or maybe it just has a headstart).  But as soon as you unravel something, you will realize that something is part of something larger (or in case of cells and molecules and atoms and so on, is composed of something smaller) which now needs to be unraveled. So at both ends of the scale there is something which will always be there to be discovered. So no, we haven't found the smallest particle, and yes there surely are multiple universes, and it might not just stop there. 
Its like expenses and money, expenses always grow to equal and surpass the money you have, or work and time, work always expands to fill the amount of free time you have. 
And why is that, maybe because all organisms are ambitious, and not really ambitious but all organisms need to survive, and to survive means to do better then what you have been till now. And so out of that ambition, comes the need to understand more and more, so that we can control what we understand and then move on. Am thinking what happened to cockroaches then, why did they stop evolving a million years ago, were they the ones who got real peace??!? :D
another scenario really is, and this goes completely against what i believe in, is that maybe there is  a creator, a creator of everything. In which case, two points, one, whatever we have cannot be infinite, because there is capacities to every ones ability, and secondly, maybe the creator is just cheating (or being intelligent), and as soon as we realize a pattern, s/he goes ahead and changes it, modifies it. 
well...whatever it is, we are never gonna find out. so chill.
and no no, am not high, its just Monday!
take care. thanks for reading till this point, and my sincere aplogies. :P