First rule of first principle thinking, do not use first principle thinking when a mental model is available

Updated Blogroll

Updated my blogroll which was due for so many months now, ( bloglines neatly lines up here , it’s cool, don’t know when they added that feature). Due to this had to change my template to fit in the blogroll properly in the page.

It can happen only in Japan – Fembots

Ultra-Lifelike Female Robot Debuts in Japan

Assumption is the mother of all misunderstandings

This title I picked up from bharani, it is a fantastic phrase and and is quite true. One of the important take ways that I have from my previous employer & people whom I worked with there has been this
“Always Question/Validate your assumptions”.
They were absolute fanatics in doing this step !!
Most of the mistakes that happen in general can be avoided if the assumptions are validated ahead of time. Now what about some assumptions which have had their testimonies from ‘time’ and are age old. I think in those case it would not even occur to question assumptions and if they are being done there will be stiff resistance to that idea( primarily because of fear of change).
I just finished reading the book “The goal” , it is a very popular business book written in the form of a novel which tackles the fallacy behind some of the blatant assumptions made the “cost based accounting” methods.
Eli Goldratt the author introduces an important method called “thoughput accounting”. One of the most important wrong assumption of cost based accounting is to allocate costs to parts of individual steps in a process which thus does a local optimization. For example, inventory appears on the balance sheet of a corporation as an asset. But actually it is a liability, ones wants less of inventory, because it ties up working capital and makes you less lean and agile. The following is the essence from the book
” Throughput accounting focuses on value delivered to the end customers, not on cost reduction. Secondary to throughput is inventory, which includes anything you’ve bought in anticipation of turning it into throughput. Raw materials are one such thing. Inventory could include intangibles like consultancy for product development; it could also include the undepreciated value of machinery as well as product materials. Both of these are deviations from cost accounting. Finally comes operational expense, which is the outlay of turning inventory into throughput.
The goal of throughput accounting is to increase throughput whilst simultaneously reducing “inventory and operational expense.”
Throughput accouting basically offers another perspective of looking at accounting. Traditionally it has been ROI, cashflow & net profit, throughput accounting says what is important is ‘Throughput, Inventory & operational expense.
Well reading this reminded of the course on Soft computing that I had took, where Genetic Algorithms were illustrated to show how they attain a global optimum, one begins with an objective function and then evolutionary operation are mimicked to move towards the objective function within a given set of constraints.

Gaming and India

A host of articles being published in the news zines about gaming in India, also I ‘ve been seing ads of this new channel called gaming TV, not so exciting but well all this indicates towards the booming gaming industry in india.
Following are some thoughts that I had sent in a mail to one of my friends working for a gaming company talking about gaming and also how gaming console can be used as a computing platform for the masses( massputer)
How much does it cost to build a gaming machine purely out of india. ?
Gaming consoles are very advanced and intuitive to work with. One could intreface an eyeToy on PS2 and create applications on PS2 which is of general utility like sending email/calculations etc etc. The eyetoy due it its high usability factor will drastically reduce learning costs for anyone who is using it. ( People who or educated or not educated canuse it with equal ease) People/Companies are talking about what is going to be the computing device for the masses. Why ?? because the PC era/industry which has so far targeted the affluent is more or less saturated.There is an entire segment or market ( the masses ) which lie untapped. [Read this somewhat nerdy stuff and only if you nothing else to kill time ( Fortunes at the bottom of the Pyramid by CK Prahlad)
But the PC’s still costs too high for the mass market ( thecheapest version would still cost around 20,000 ) and their learning curve is high. There are couple of alternatives which could become the dominantdesign for Computing for the masses. Here are few and their problems.
– A handheld computer (PDA), One example is the Simputer.
– the size of the display is too small
– data entry is a hassle, mobility and portability are notessential for most users,
– and the price-points will still be on the higher side.
– A data-enabled cellphone
– The cellphone suffers from similar drawbacks as the PDA. Thenumerical-oriented
keypad makes it hard to do a lot of extended dataentry (even though SMS has become
popular in much of the world) and
– the display size is quite small.
– The TV and set-top-box combo,( The set top in question is thegaming device with PS2)
– Display resolution still does not match that of a computer
– Good for showing the rich graphical worlds for games, but itdoes not yet display the text
and numbers that most users needfor their basic applications
– it is shared by multiple family members, so can’t check emails while somebody is
watching a soap.

Despite given the problems with Gaming Device I would still vote that option because of the usability factor and cost.
Today a PS2 costs about 150 $ and a eyeToy for 30$, if we can puttogether an application suite for 20$ ( utilizing open sourcesoftware) then for a total of 200$ ( Rs 10,000 ) we can provide acomputing solution which is cheaper than least priced PC of today (19,000 ) , simputer( 12,000 ). This solution may only be costly than a mobile phone ( Rs 5000 ) but with better pricing strategy and using economy of scale I am sure that we can come up with a very low cost solution.
Here is another thing that I was thinking about using the gaming device PS2 and eyetoy and that is why I want to know what does it take to build a gaming device. It is generally noted that it is the younger generation ( 16 – 28) which loves Computer Games, even in nations like Korea , Japan the teens are the ones hooked on to games.
What I am thinking is that given adequate incentives/exposure any general person would play computer games. One simple reason as to why I think Computer games are so successful/popular is because it offers a surrealistic world thatplayers love to traverse in and further later associate/attach themselves to. So by offering right kind of surrealism to right segment of people can interest them to play games.
The younger generation tends to love games like FPS( Quake,Unreal ) ,strategic games ( like of AoE , AoK) etc. For the older generation adapt a story from say ‘Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu thi’ , ‘Jassi Jaisi Koi nahin’ and create a game for a game box with an interface like eyeToy or even remove the eye and put a brain-machineinterface (Registration required) like this.
This notion sounds a little crazy (everybody I told this have had a hearty laugh:) ) though but if it is executed I am sure that this would definitely be called as disruptive innovation,”creating a market out of non consumption” and Ekta Kapoor( of the hindi soap serials, Balaji Telefilms) will look sooooo normal in front of this achievement.

I would love to see gaming industry flourish like anything and want so many people to play games. Infact I want to propose a bill in theparliament where they should subsidize the gaming industry 🙂

Rajesh Jain

Marketing, Entrepreneurship, India. Updated daily.

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