Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Government announces new loan programs

How is this going to help fix the problem that got the economy here in the first place?
"The government, while looking to reduce fear in the credit markets, is eager to see lenders like credit card companies resume more normal levels of lending to help stimulate the economy. Since September, when credit markets first froze, financial institutions have been hesitant to hand over money for fear they won't be repaid."
This sounds like such a bandaid fix to the real problem - consumers don't have money to spend. By extending a helping hand to the companies that lend money to consumers, the government isn't doing anything to help the consumer other than give the Creditors even more control over consumers. The average American is weighed down by debt - mortgage debt, credit card debt, car payment debt. The American dream comes at a huge price, and I believe one of the reasons the economy has faltered is that both the government and private banks encourage consumers to spend way beyond their means.

A better place to invest at least a part of the 800 billion is in upgrading the infrastructure - this will create jobs, which will reduce the jobless numbers. More people will have a sustainable source of income, a paycheck that they can draw from while shopping at the grocery store or the mall. This is a virtuous cycle in which everyone involved prospers, including the economy. I read somewhere that Obama plans to make large investments in Job creation via infrastructure project; the rate at which the government is spending BILLIONS on bailing out the financial sector, I wonder whether there will be any money left for anything else by the time he is inaugurated.

Regardless of government initiatives, I think it is time that the American populace take back control of their balance sheet from the Credit Card companies by hunkering down and spending on only things they can afford. The "consumer" economy isn't in recession right now - it is correcting itself from the super inflated levels of the last 5 years. People are no longer buying things they *think* they will need a few months from now; people aren't intoxicated by bargain prices on useless items any more. They have figured out what they need and are buying just those things, albeit with an occasional splurge on something they covet. That's how every other consumer is, and it is humbling to watch the American consumer follow suit.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

We’ve Got Nothing but Hope

Reading this brought back memories of the speech at the Democratic National Convention that catapulted Barack Obama to fame in 2004:
"Pure belief will get us through. I can't give you anything more than 'I think it will all work out in the end.' Nor can Warren Buffett. In his oft-quoted New York Times op-ed of a month ago, all he could give us was '… most major companies will be setting new profit records 5, 10 and 20 years from now.' No mention of the trade deficit. No mention of our unhealthy dependence on consumerism. Just belief. Pure belief that everything will be OK.

In the short-term, the doomsayers and short-sellers rule the roost. In the long-term, the recession will pass, and collectively, through optimism and a 'can-do' attitude, we'll work out a way to make the U.S. economy the pride of the world, again."
We all define hope in different ways, but hopefully all our definitions resonate with:

Hope is brave,
Hope is audacious,
Hope is irreverent,
Hope is glorious;
Without hope, we are all lost.

The Yahoo! ship is rudderless

... and that might not be the good news that everyone thinks it is. I don't think it is a coincidence that both Yahoo! Mail and Yahoo! Finance have had outages during core business hours today. These are the only 2 services of Yahoo! I use on a daily basis so I can only speak to their reliability; I wouldn't be surprised if there were outages in other Yahoo! services.

It's a sad day because Yahoo! was an Internet stalwart pioneer, a company that defined what it was to build a true Internet portal. I might be wrong in my analysis here but had Yahoo! not offered so many services for free, the Internet wouldn't have been adopted the way it has been. Yahoo! set the standard for free services, a model that was either replicated by new entrants into the fray or forcibly adopted by established players that charged fees for similar offerings. Creating a market for free services was both Yahoo!'s biggest strength, and in my opinion, the biggest reason for its downfall. With Internet advertising on the downward trend, Yahoo! is seriously strapped for cash. That it can't keep pace with Google's innovation engine is just the 1-2 punch that meant just one thing - "lights out".

Good thing Microsoft never acquired the ailing giant.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Microsoft finally to bring Office to the Web, Windows smart phones

The hype machine is spinning up quite the storm around this release. That's a great thing IMO, but it's a double-edged sword. If the service is not up to the mark on launch, it will be a huge nail in the Microsoft coffin (no one uses Apple's MobileMe service because it is a dud). People's memories vis-a-vis "Software As A Service" products is very long-lived, and Microsoft would do very well by learning from the mistakes of Apple.

With this being said, this is the first time I am craving to be on the beta list for a Microsoft web service. That has to count for something, right? :)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

I asked about Mozilla; I should've asked about IE

Gecko is gonna continue receiving attention from Mozilla because that's the only way Webkit will continue to innovate. Where does all this agile development of Web Standards leave Microsoft? Playing catch up costs a lot of money, and it's already doing that with the Live organization. This begs the question - should Microsoft ditch the Trident engine for Webkit? How about Gecko? It all started with the Mosaic engine now didn't it. Is it time for IE to return to its true roots? :)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The New Hotmail

is friggin' awesome. Check it out! Finally, someone at Microsoft figured out how to make a product that doesn't come in my way; instead, hotmail makes reading my email a pleasure! It's fast, intuitive, the interface is uncluttered (spartan even) and dare I say, has all the features of Gmail in a better package!

Kudos to the Hotmail team for releasing this product. I think it is time that they figured out a way to integrate chatting and texting into the mail product. Given the strides made with the Hotmail revamp, I'm sure there is someone working on integrating IM into Hotmail. Any insiders know whether my faith is unfounded?!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Phys Ed - Stretching - The Truth - NYTimes.com

A form of dynamic stretching is something I have been doing for the last year before squash matches. Now that my theory has been validated, I'm going to incorporate dynamic stretches into my daily workout regimen:
A well-designed warm-up starts by increasing body heat and blood flow. Warm muscles and dilated blood vessels pull oxygen from the bloodstream more efficiently and use stored muscle fuel more effectively. They also withstand loads better. One significant if gruesome study found that the leg-muscle tissue of laboratory rabbits could be stretched farther before ripping if it had been electronically stimulated — that is, warmed up.

To raise the body’s temperature, a warm-up must begin with aerobic activity, usually light jogging. Most coaches and athletes have known this for years. That’s why tennis players run around the court four or five times before a match and marathoners stride in front of the starting line. But many athletes do this portion of their warm-up too intensely or too early. A 2002 study of collegiate volleyball players found that those who’d warmed up and then sat on the bench for 30 minutes had lower backs that were stiffer than they had been before the warm-up. And a number of recent studies have demonstrated that an overly vigorous aerobic warm-up simply makes you tired. Most experts advise starting your warm-up jog at about 40 percent of your maximum heart rate (a very easy pace) and progressing to about 60 percent. The aerobic warm-up should take only 5 to 10 minutes, with a 5-minute recovery. (Sprinters require longer warm-ups, because the loads exerted on their muscles are so extreme.) Then it’s time for the most important and unorthodox part of a proper warm-up regimen, the Spider-Man and its counterparts.
There is a great video describing the stretches and the physiological effects of both static and dynamic stretching. Stay healthy...