Tuesday, 14 September, 2010

3-D Creator - Push Button Play God

Even though the article uses the word 'printer', I thought 'creator' or 'modeler' might be more appropriate for the way it functions  - M

A 3-D printer, which has nothing to do with paper printers, creates an object by stacking one layer of material — typically plastic or metal — on top of another, much the same way a pastry chef makes baklava with sheets of phyllo dough.

The technology has been radically transformed from its origins as a tool used by manufacturers and designers to build prototypes.
Kevin Moloney for The New York Times
Charles Overy, founder of LGM, with a model of a resort in Vail, Colo. “We used to take two months to build $100,000 models,” he said, adding that now they cost about $2,000.

A California start-up is even working on building houses. Its printer, which would fit on a tractor-trailer, would use patterns delivered by computer, squirt out layers of special concrete and build entire walls that could be connected to form the basis of a house.

It is manufacturing with a mouse click instead of hammers, nails and, well, workers. Advocates of the technology say that by doing away with manual labor, 3-D printing could revamp the economics of manufacturing and revive American industry as creativity and ingenuity replace labor costs as the main concern around a variety of goods.

“There is nothing to be gained by going overseas except for higher shipping charges,” Mr. Summit said.

A wealth of design software programs, from free applications to the more sophisticated offerings of companies including Alibre and Autodesk, allows a person to concoct a product at home, then send the design to a company like Shapeways, which will print it and mail it back.

“We are enabling a class of ordinary people to take their ideas and turn those into physical, real products,” said J. Paul Grayson, Alibre’s chief executive. Mr. Grayson said his customers had designed parts for antique cars, yo-yos and even pieces for DNA analysis machines.

“We have a lot of individuals going from personal to commercial,” Mr. Grayson said.
Manufacturers and designers have used 3-D printing technology for years, experimenting on the spot rather than sending off designs to be built elsewhere, usually in Asia, and then waiting for a model to return. Boeing, for example, might use the technique to make and test air-duct shapes before committing to a final design.

Depending on the type of job at hand, a typical 3-D printer can cost from $10,000 to more than $100,000. Stratasys and 3D Systems are among the industry leaders. And MakerBot Industries sells a hobbyist kit for under $1,000.

But as 3-D printing machines have improved and fallen in cost along with the materials used to make products, new businesses have cropped up. Freedom of Creation, based in Amsterdam, designs and prints exotic furniture and other fixtures for hotels and restaurants. It also makes iPhone cases for Apple, eye cream bottles for L’Oreal and jewelry and handbags for sale on its Web site.
Various designers have turned to the company for clothing that interlaces plastic to create form-hugging blouses, while others have requested spiky coverings for lights that look as if they could be the offspring of a sea urchin and a lamp shade.

“The aim was always to bring this to consumers instead of keeping it a secret at NASA and big manufacturers,” said Janne Kyttanen, 36, who founded Freedom of Creation about 10 years ago. “Everyone thought I was a lunatic when we started.”

His company can take risks with “out there” designs since it doesn’t need to print an object until it is ordered, Mr. Kyttanen said. Ikea can worry about mass appeal.

LGM, based in Minturn, Colo., uses a 3-D printing machine to create models of buildings and resorts for architectural firms.

Full and unedited article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/technology/14print.html?src=me&ref=general

Monday, 13 September, 2010

Heidi's Story

The 2008 financial implosion/meltdown/collapse: an interesting way of putting it -

Here is an easy understandable explanation of the cause of the recession in the form of story.

Heidi is the proprietor of a bar in Detroit . She realizes that virtually all of her customers are unemployed alcoholics and, as such, can no longer afford to patronize her bar.

To solve this problem, she comes up with a new marketing plan that allows her customers to drink now, but pay later. She keeps track of the drinks consumed in a ledger (thereby granting the customers loans).

Word gets around about Heidi's "drink now, pay later" marketing strategy and, as a result, increasing numbers of customers flood into Heidi's bar. Soon she has the largest sales volume for any bar in Detroit.

By providing her customers freedom from immediate payment demands, Heidi gets no resistance when, at regular intervals, she substantially increases her prices for wine and beer, the most consumed beverages. Consequently, Heidi's gross sales volume increases massively.

A young and dynamic Vice President at the local bank recognizes that these customer debts constitute valuable future assets, and increases Heidi's borrowing limit. He sees no reason for any undue concern, since he has the debts of the unemployed alcoholics as collateral.

At the bank's corporate headquarters, expert traders transform these customer loans into DRINKBONDS, ALKIBONDS and PUKEBONDS. These securities are then bundled and traded on international security markets.

Naive investors don't really understand that the securities being sold to them as AAA secured bonds are really the debts of unemployed alcoholics. Nevertheless, the bond prices continuously climb, and the securities soon become the hottest-selling items for some of the nation's leading brokerage houses.

One day, even though the bond prices are still climbing, a risk manager at the original local bank decides that the time has come to demand payment on the debts incurred by the drinkers at Heidi's bar. He so informs Heidi. Heidi then demands payment from her alcoholic patrons. But being unemployed alcoholics, they cannot pay back their drinking debts. Since Heidi cannot fulfill her loan obligations, she is forced into bankruptcy. The bar closes and her eleven employees lose their jobs.

Overnight, DRINKBONDS, ALKIBONDS and PUKEBONDS drop in price by 90%. The collapsed bond asset value destroys the bank's liquidity and prevents it from issuing new loans, thus freezing credit and economic activity in the community.

Suppliers of Heidi's bar had granted her generous payment extensions and had invested their firms' pension funds in the various BOND securities. They find they are now faced with not only having to write off her bad debt but also with losing over 90% of the presumed value of the bonds. Her wine supplier claims bankruptcy, closing the doors on a family business that had endured for three generations. Her beer supplier is taken over by a competitor, who immediately closes the local plant and lays off 150 workers.

Fortunately though, the bank, the brokerage houses, and their respective executives are saved and bailed out by a multi-billion dollar, no-strings attached cash infusion from their cronies in the Federal Government. The funds required for this bailout are obtained by new taxes levied on employed, middle-class, non-drinkers who have never been in Heidi's bar.

Tuesday, 7 September, 2010

Random Thought Luck

Copywriters and Art Directors should also form unions. We also need a one stay strike to protest against higher workloads and lower quality of briefs. I suspect the only good thing that would come out of that would be the Union posters, if we were given a free hand.

Lokmanya BG Tilak had the biggest activation/on-ground idea before marketers racked their brains trying to form communities around brands or Harley came up with Harley Owners Group. Mr. Tilak's idea will be visible on the streets of Maharashtra in a 100 year old festival celebrated by throngs venerating the elephant headed god Ganpati.

Tuesday, 22 June, 2010

Living in Mumbai

In Mumbai, when you buy a house, you buy into the location and not the surroundings.

Friday, 7 May, 2010

Art As Investment

Art, when it does come up for auction is very rare. And the most expensive ones are works of European masters because among other things, even the well-known auction houses are Eurocentric in their outlook and located in London or New York.
The ten pieces below are the top 10 most expensive works of art since 1990. There may be other works of art that might be better, but they may not have come up for public auction.
The only thing to keep in mind is that this is never going to pay you back quickly. Most of these paintings are over 100 years old.
They are arranged in descending order of big bucks paid out for them, with the Picasso below going for a world record of Rupees 475 crore. A few of these and we could wipe out hunger for ever.

1. Pablo Picasso - Nude, Green leaves and Bust, $106.4 million, sold in 2010

2. Alberto Giacometti - Walking Man I, $104.3 million, sold in 2010

3. Pablo Picasso - Boy with a Pipe, $104.2 million

4. Pablo Picasso - Dora Maar with Cat, $95.2 million, sold in 2006

5. Gustav Klimt - Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, $87.9 million, sold in 2006

6. Francis Bacon - Triptych, $86.2 million, sold in 2008

7. Vincent Van Gogh - Portrait of Dr. Gachet, $82.5 million, sold in 1990

8. Auguste Renoir - Au Moulin de la Galette, $78.1 million, sold in 1990

9. Peter Paul Rubens - Massacre of the Innocents, $76.7 million, sold in 2002

10. Mark Rothko - White Center, $72.8 million, sold in 2007

Monday, 19 April, 2010

One Rank One Pension

There is a lot of confusion regarding the One Rank One Pension, previous Pay Commission anomalies and restoration of pension to original level of 70% for all ranks for retired officers of the three Indian Armed Forces - Army, Air Force and Navy.
A lot of state owned banks apparently don't have the knowledge and the wherewithal to understand, process and update the Government of India orders and claims of tens of thousands of retired officers and their widows, to whom the pension is an important way to subside in various parts of India and even the world.
A group of officers have been selflessly and tirelessly working towards this by providing help and information to their fellow officers and co-ordinating between the far-flung men and the concerned banks.
See image attached for details.


A representative from India began: 'Before beginning my speech I want to tell you something about Rishi Kashyap of Kashmir, after whom Kashmir is named. 

When he struck a rock and it brought forth water, he thought, 'What a good opportunity to have a bath.'

He removed his clothes, put them aside on the rock and entered the water.
When he got out and wanted to dress, his clothes had vanished. A Pakistani had stolen them.'

The Pakistani representative jumped up furiously and shouted, 'What are you talking about? The Pakistanis weren't even there then.'

The Indian representative smiled and said, 'And now that we have made that clear, I will begin my speech.

Friday, 5 February, 2010

Fear, Happiness And God

People have often suggested 'amazing', 'this is the baap of movie A or movie X' horror movies to me for a long time. I have politely declined and have tried to explain to them that I can't willingly trouble myself so much. It's a thrill that I haven't quite gotten addicted to. I'd rather stay a creepy arm's length away.

I feel that the fear you experience, stays with you longer than it should. It eventually gets buried deep within only to resurface at an (in)opportune time. Like the times when you are alone at home. Underground car parks after office hours. While working alone at night. I have heard of people packing up and leaving in spite of the advertising deadlines because they couldn't stay back and finish the job alone in office.

Happiness is a great emotion. Altogether fleeting. Unlike fear or sadness, it doesn't stay with you, at least as much as they do. Nothing new to say, but moments of happiness are mere punctuation marks in an otherwise staid, sad, unhappy, fearful existence, depending on the person and the circumstances.

Sadness is an emotion with a longer existence. It takes events, mental effort and circumstances to go away.

So if the fear of the spirits, possession and the occult is a constructed and continuing myth, it is the second most powerful sustained myth other than the concept of a physical manifestation of God.

Herein lies the duality that I live with.

I dislike horror because I feel it is an unnatural, artificial emotion that is propagated and sustained by various people (like shamans) and organizations (like film makers and studios) either for power and/or for profit.

If a human being is isolated and never introduced to the supernatural concepts, I doubt the possibility of such fear ever crossing his or her mind. If we check the isolated communities in Northern Andamans and Nicobar Islands or Polynesia would they have a 'devil' or 'evil' equivalent? I don't know.

When it comes to God and such like, I agree that most religions are, again, a way to control masses through another type of fear. The fear of heavenly wrath. So be good, do good, commit no sin.
So having being born into a religion, I accept it, I celebrate it but there isn't a fervent, 'blind' belief that one might be expected to have. Still, somewhere deep inside is a faith in a force of nature, Gaia like concept of integrated, interconnected creation, which could again have been because of the books that I have read.

It is still another milder, benign fear. Almost like Mother/Father/Androgynous/Big Brother Nature is watching. Which is why we do good. No one wants to be hauled up and dragged over the coals.

Which is also why criminals/mad people are Godless. They don't fear the supreme force because they realise probably that there might be none. Or simply because the Supreme Force or Being(s) are too busy with more important things than worry about a lie, a theft, or something more serious. And if they get caught, it's not like what goes around, comes around. It's more like the law of averages literally catches up with them.

Sunday, 24 January, 2010

Minority Community

Granted that the Muslims in India are just 13% of the population (160.9 million per 2009 estimate according to two sources: CIA Factbook and India Census 2009). But if you look at the figure, how can anyone (or any longer) call them a minority community? Call them vilified, oppressed, ignored or whatever else. But minority they are not. They are the size of an average country by themselves.
Parsis, Jews, Jains and so on can be the new, true minority communities.