Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Seven ways @RafaelNadal can speed up between points and games

It is an open secret that Rafael Nadal flouts the rule pertaining to the time between points. The rule clearly states that players can only take 25-seconds between points, but Rafa routinely takes about 30. That number goes up significantly after a long, grueling point, such as the 30-some shot exchanges with Novak Djokovic.

It is also no secret whatsoever that I love Rafa. I tend to lose interest in tournaments in which Rafa isn't playing. He brings something to the game, an ethereal quality, a pulse even, that players like Novak just cannot conjure up. In fact, watching Novak play is downright boring!

With this established, let me be clear that I have been vocal about the time between points. Instead of just criticizing though, I have come up with 8-ways in which Rafa can reduce the time he takes between points. Here goes:

1. Between games, towel off while walking to the ball-boys instead of toweling off while handing towels to them.

2. Have the nearest towel-bearer walk over to him at the end of a point instead of walking over to them.

3. Bounce the ball half the number of times than he does today. How about a total of 7-times, because that number is both prime and auspicious in a lot of cultures.

4. Have all racquets in his bag be ready to go, complete with vibration dampener, so that he doesn't have to remove it from his current frame to position into the new one.

5. Carry two racquets with him on the change-over prior to the balls being changed. This will cut down the time he takes to walk over to his bag and pull out a new racquet.

6. Get a haircut so he doesn't have to wear a headband.

7. Combine his drinks so he has to drink out of just one bottle instead of two. Maybe drink some Red Bull to give him wings!

8. Looser shorts; boxer briefs. 'Nuff said!

It is unlikely that he will implement even 1 of these. Wait, it is actually really unlikely that he will even read this blog post. So let me say this - if he implements even one of these ideas, you read it here first! :)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

How Rafael Nadal can beat Novak Djokovic on Clay

Update: Changed point #5

For those of you who have not been following the happenings of the 2014 Men's Tennis Clay court season, here are the highlights:
  1. Rafael Nadal lost in the quarter-finals of two tournaments that he has dominated since anyone can last remember (he has won each of the tournaments 8-times)
  2. He is being pushed around the court by players outside of the top-10 routinely (e.g., Giles Simon, Mikhail Youzhny). These are players whom Rafa used to crush on Clay in years past.
  3. The French Open is coming to a TV screen near you soon!
So how can Rafa get back on track? After looking at footage from previous years of utter Clay court domination, here is my 5-step proposal:
  1. Stop running around his backhand so often - he is giving up too much court on the next ball because his forehand isn't what it used to be (point 2)

  2. Find the lines, or the area closer to the lines, a little more often with his forehand. For instance, Nadal needs to hit the down the line a lot more.

  3. Come to net more and finish points earlier

  4. Protect his service games -> 1), 2) and 3) will help with that significantly

  5. Return second serves from the baseline with flatter shots, increasing pressure on his opponents

Friday, April 04, 2014

The Microsoft resurgence


The last few months have seen Microsoft take several leaps on the path of re-establishing itself as a relevant force in the technology industry. It's not the driving force that it used to be, but it is becoming relevant again. Mind you, Microsoft has gone to hell and back in the last 9-months or so:

1. Ballmer announced a huge shake-up as part of his One Microsoft Strategy (the stock price tanked)
2. Ballmer promptly announced his resignation immediately after (the stock price started to tick up)
3. Microsoft stayed in the news for all the wrong reasons - Mulally vs. Nadella vs. Insert-Name-Here - the world's preeminent software company cannot find a CEO?
4. Ballmer ushered in Nadella (hallelujah - he quit!)

Everyone worried that Nadella would be a figurehead. They couldn't be more wrong! In the last week alone (to the day), Microsoft has made some groundbreaking announcements that align very closely with Nadella, not Ballmer. Here are the ones that stick out for me:

1. Office for iPad
2. Windows is free for devices smaller than 9-inches
3. Open sourcing the C# compiler
4. Package Manager for Windows Power Shell (a la apt-get)
5. Gorgeous Lumia 930

Stock Price as of this writing: $41.39, a level unseen in the last 10-years.

The Renaissance

Let's be clear about one thing: All these products were not developed in the few months since Nadella took on the office of CEO. The more plausible hypothesis is that these have been in development for a long time or were ready to go but were being held back like water is held back by a dam. Nadella is the force that helped tear that dam down, an event that has triggered a metamorphosis of Microsoft's DNA. It is finally starting to act on the realization that it cannot monopolize and dominate every market/category in which it chooses to compete. It has also become comfortable with not foisting Microsoft Windows on everyone that wants to use their world class applications and tools, especially on desktops and on mobile devices. This particular shift might hurt Windows sales in the long term, but let's break down the impact on sectors impacted by this shift.


Windows sales have been tanking for a while in this arena. Windows 8 has been to consumer sales what climate change/global warming have been to the ice caps. Microsoft's moves indicate that they are okay with ceding some of this space in lieu of lost sales.


Microsoft announced the elimination of OS license fees for devices smaller than 9" in size. Expect all Windows Mobile devices to be 8.99" or less over the course of the next few years! More importantly, Microsoft finally released Office for the iPad (something I have written about in the past) and is already the #1 application on the App Store. This is a devilish play if you ask me. The apps are free to download and free to consume content. Creating content requires a $100 Office365 subscription. Paying customers will have 5 additional licenses to leverage Office - the best productivity suite on the planet, hands down. It moves Office customers to consuming SaaS services, which further improves Microsoft's capabilities in this space. With Microsoft teams collaborating more and more these days, the increased user base can only have positive knock-on effects for current and future Microsoft SaaS services.


There is no viable alternative in the Enterprise space, and this has a lot to do with Nadella's leadership in the Server & Tools division. Under his stewardship, Microsoft has released some of the best management and automation tools in the industry.

The Multi-Platform Embrace

Microsoft finally seems unencumbered with the burden of pushing its operating systems on everyone on this planet. For observers and share-holders with my collaborate or be decimated bent of mind, this is a harbinger of a bright future. Cloud-delivered applications are a key part of the technology future, and Microsoft is for once leveraging its strengths without locking out customers on non-Microsoft platforms. I hope Microsoft continues to forge collaborations and partnerships that increase its market share of applications, tools and operating systems. This isn't a zero sum game; everyone needs to be touched by the greatness of Microsoft products. "For Microsoft to win, others don't need to lose"!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Why you shouldn't buy from Staples, or how I learned to love Amazon

Amazon crushed brick and mortar stores in sales this holiday season, and there is a very good reason why they have risen to the top of the rankings: People trust Amazon to do the right thing! Customers swear by Amazon, which is in no small part due to their customer service. Their customer service folks go the extra mile, almost to a fault, to do everything in their power to delight their customers. Staples, not so much...

I bought a shredder from Staples on January 12, 2014. The shredder's price had been "shredded" to a low $19.99 for just one day, and I was quick to pull the trigger on the purchase. I received a receipt in email within a minute of clicking, "Buy", and was provided an assurance of a January 14 delivery.

On the 14th, I received a call from a toll free number. An automated voice asked me if I had received my order yet. I hadn't; I was put on hold for the next available customer service representative. 10-minutes of waiting paid its dividends; the representative came on the line and let me know that there was a slight delay in transporting the shredder to my apartment. I was told that the shredder would be delivered no later than the 15th.

I received another phone call last afternoon, the 17th, from Nova Scotia. When I didn't answer, the Staples representative kindly left me a message inquiring whether I had received the shredder or not. I couldn't call the number she left for me prior to the Customer Service desk closing for the night, so I called them this morning. Mind you, it is the 18th now.

The lady on the line informed me that the shredder was "Missing" somehow even though it had departed the warehouse, and that there were no other items in stock to ship my way. She then put me on hold for about 12 minutes so she could determine the next course of action given the circumstances. Upon returning, she told me that all she could do was:

1. Renege on the order and refund the amount I paid
2. Give me a "courtesy" $50 coupon

Shredders on run North of $90. Even with her "courtesy" coupon, I wouldn't have enough to pay for a shredder equivalent in quality to the one I bought for $19.99. Ergo, Staples wanted me to shell out another $20-odd quid for a mistake that they made!! How is this good customer service? What kind of retailer doesn't honor a purchase after charging the credit card? A retailer like Staples, apparently.

There is a lesson in all of this: Don't shop at Staples if the item is available somewhere else. And trust me, it is sure to be available somewhere else!