Thursday, January 23, 2014

How can professionalism at work be demonstrated through dress code?

Normally I am very ‘neutral’ about this topic but a recent communication and importantly the ‘tone’ in the communique made me put up my thoughts on this subject. 

Define Professionalism.

Oxford Dictionary defines it as “the competence or skill expected of a professional”.
Now what are the characteristics that define a true professional and how to show professionalism at workplace? Some of the key traits that I have seen, researched on net and read about are:
·         Someone who puts customer satisfaction first
·         Someone who makes expertise his/her specialty
·         Treats everyone with respect
·         Display competence
·         Takes a leadership role wherever possible
·         Do more than expected
·         Communicate effectively
·         Do what he says and says what he can do
·         Adheres to high values & principles
·         Praises your peers and not yourself
·         Shares knowledge
·         Says thank you
·         Keeps a smile on the face and right attitude in heart

So when you read this, the question that comes up is how a strict dress code norm can ensure professionalism to become an integral part of our work culture.

The reason given by IT companies who enforce strict dress code is that the dress code “professionalism” can be “experienced” by partners and customers when they visit office/workplace and “interact” with the employees.

What to customers/partners look for from their offshoring vendors? Not necessarily in same order but some key points:
·         Someone who understands their problem areas
·         Have sound understanding of your domain, can demonstrate expertise/capabilities
·         Can demonstrate innovation & cost benefits
·         Have sound technology arm/development infrastructure
·         Sound financial stability
·         Proven track record/references available
·         Logical business plan/roadmap
·         Are on the same wavelength

Now when these partners/customers come visiting offices, be it during evaluation stage or probably in routine visits, do you think the top of mind thoughts for them would be to see:
·         Are the employees who are visiting me wearing ties?
·         Are the employees of the organization wearing a round neck Tee or collar one?
·         Are they wearing floaters or sports shoes?
·         Are they wearing business formals or business casuals?
·         Have they brushed in the morning, shaved, cleaned up their noses?

Ok the last one was thrown in by me. But the point is when customers do come visiting; their intent is not to rank the staff on what they wear but more importantly professionalism is experienced by them though some of the key points that I mentioned earlier in the post. As a spoken/unspoken rule already employees do turn up proper formals when a customer is visiting any particular account. Usually in many client visits, managers and key people interacting with the customer/prospect also turn up in blazers/ties. That more than suffices the dress code.  

On any specific day of the week, if an employee come wearing a tie, how is it helping in improving the productivity, efficiency or making him more brainy at work? How is it making him  more professional when he sits to do his work? Or if he comes wearing a round neck tee instead of collar one, how is it diminishing the brand name of the organization? IT services companies are not like banking industry where staffs have to deal with customers on a daily basis hence they are asked to be always in formals or wear ties.

In many of my client visits, I have seen our customers/prospects turn up in casuals/cargo shorts in meetings – while people like me and from other practices have waltzed before them in suits/ties. Going by that logic are our customers unprofessional?

 It’s a proven thing that work happens best when a person is comfortable in his environment. Comfort means productivity and can lead to increase in efficiency. It can lead to generation of new ideas, innovation and boost motivation.  Human Resources might disagree but for me flexible dress code is also part of being comfortable at work. Have you ever heard of any product company putting up strict dress code? When any customers visit their premises, do you think people there would be turning up in best of the formals? There are many IT service companies too who are not too rigid on dress code. Yesterday I bumped into an acquaintance who works as a Business Analyst with Tieto. She was accompanying her clients on a mall visit. She was dressed in crisp casuals and I have seen her going to work mostly dressed in casuals.  

Instead of nitpicking on why employees are not turning up in ties on any specific day, why are they not wearing proper shoes, why are they wearing round neck tee, like a school administrator checking them physically at gates, reprimanding them, asking them to go home, making them apologize on emails, marking mails to their managers – all this leading to creation of water cooler moments or jokes being cracked on whatsapp/cafeteria groups ; organizations should focus more on other aspects of resource development that can lead them to contribute more towards the organization, in an environment that is comfortable to work in.      

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Samsung Galaxy Note - MY Review

Is it a phone? Is it a tablet? Well, do I really care? 

Let’s be clear about one thing. A Samsung Note user will never buy the phone to be used as a tablet. At the end of the day it’s a phone – albeit a big smart phone that comes bundled with lots of cool features and offers ‘miniature’ tablet experience.  It would be prudent to call it a tablet as it is not but some of the things that tablets are associated with like viewing experience on big size screen, portability, computing on the move, ease of use & size of the device itself can be experienced on Galaxy Note.

When Apple launched the Ipad, they created a whole new segment for tablet devices. Devices like Galaxy Note has been around since Palm days but Samsung has pushed the envelope further by bundling a host of engaging features, super duper hardware, a cool responsive Android OS, a sleek & thin design and cleverly marketing it as a device that’s a cross over between a phone & tablet which actually it is.

I will not get into technical features or specs of the phone since you can find all those on various review sites but will give my experience of using the phone so far.       

“Is it really a phone? “
“It’s too big to be a phone”.
“You will look weird talking to someone on this phone”.  
“it must be heavy”.

These are some of the common reactions that I came across when people saw my Note and similar views have been shared across many review forums and put up by users too.

Let’s clear the air on this. First thing first, the phone is not at all heavy and you will be surprised to see how light it is when you hold it in your hands. Secondly, holding it to your ears and talking through it doesn’t give weird feeling at all or no one really stares at you. For the past 3 days I have been doing extensive talking and never ever got the feeling as if people were watching me or I was getting uncomfortable holding the phone to my ears. You will definitely feel weird if you hold a Galaxy Tab to your ears but not with this phone. It’s I feel a matter of perception. If you are comfortable with it then you shouldn’t really bother what others feel about it. 

 How the phone looks while you hold it next to your ears

For people who have large hands or a good grip, the phone will suit them a lot. I am one of those guys. As you can see in the picture, the grip comes fine and it doesn’t look too big (well that’s the advantage if you have large hands/grip). 

The next common thing that you get to hear is, with a phone that big, wonder how it will fit in your shirt pocket or in trousers/jeans. Well, you are not stuffing a Dell smartphone in your pockets but a phone which looks like Khali but comes with a Kareena Kapoor waistline. It's light, slim, fits in easily in any pocket and you don't really feel any difference while carrying it. 

  In the picture above, I was carrying the phone in my left pocket and neither did my trousers slide down due to its weight nor did I got tired carrying it around. Unless you are wearing a tight jeans, you don't even get to see the phone outline in your pocket from outside. 

Battery Life

On all tech reviews I have heard a lot about this phone’s battery. Almost all sites have given a big thumbs up to its giant battery size. But do remember that while the battery is big, so is the phone and a big sized phone with a super enormous HD AMOLED screen like that can do drain out the battery but it depends on how you are consuming it. Many reviews/forums have mentioned on how they have tested the battery using it extensively playing songs, viewing movies, browsing etc and the battery has lasted beyond 12-14 hrs or so. A friend of mine who also has similar phone mentions that his lasts for 1.5 days – again depending on what and how you use it.

I tested the battery in 2 ways. In 1st scenario, I disabled all power saving options, kept my LCD brightness to 100% and the whole day I used the phone extensively on wi-fi, downloaded lots of apps, took & made lots of calls, played around with various settings on the phone, clicked some snaps, edited the snaps using in bult tools, extensively used my office mail, accessed facebook & twitter frequently, kept on fiddling with the screen to almost take it off the hibernate mode etc. The battery lasted for nearly 16 hours with the indicator showing 5% left.   

In 2nd scenario I activated my auto brightness and power saving option and again used the phone a bit on wi-fi and mostly on edge for data access, accessing facebook & twitter & making/receiving calls. I also clicked lots of pictures, did some photo editing,  got around 1GB of apps transferred from a friend who had Samsung Galaxy S2 through wifi-Direct (It’s a pretty cool feature to transfer stuff at super blazing speed between Samsung phones), used bluetooth to transfer some files, installed the apps, played around with the phone a bit, accessed my office emails and shot a few emails. Putting across the latest screen shot from the phone battery status. 

A battery app available on app store that gives you the status of your battery left.

It's the screen size that consumes most of the battery.

As you can see, it's been over 22 hours since I charged my battery and still 11% of juice is left which I feel should be worth another 2-4 hours if I use it discreetly. So nearly 24 -25 hours on a battery with normal usage and browsing thrown in is not a bad deal.  

Motion Sense

The Galaxy S2 has many good motion sensor features which are carried forward in Galaxy Note but one of the coolest motion feature which is not even available on S2 is taking a screenshot with a hand swipe across the screen. Simply move your hand from right to left on top of screen and voila - a screen shot is taken! You should see how the jaws of people drop when you do this cool trick in front of them. :D No more pressing of 2 buttons simultaneously as you do that on iphone or other android phones. There are many other motion sensor features bundled in like tilting a bit up and down to zoom in & out of a screen, shaking the phone a bit to scan for bluetooth devices around and some more stuff. As a new user it takes a while for you to get a grip on all these features and I doubt how many of these you will actually use it too. But that screen grab feature is a standout amongst all the rest. I still need to explore other motion sense features but for the moment even if I don't stumble upon them - I am happy as I don't think personally I would be using them unless I just want to show it off in front of my friends!



The S-pen which is one of the USP of the phone is bit tricky to use initially. I have never used stylus in my life and it takes a while before you get a hang of it. There are some cool usage features with S-Pen. Unlike some other stylus, this one is stylish, fits in perfectly in the slot with a light click and there is no fear of it falling down from the slot.The image editing, editing screen grabs, taking snaps and adding any hand written notes, doodling, making notes, using it to sypw across alphabets to automatically construct a word are some of the cool features. Those who love doodling, making sketches etc would love it as the in built app has many such supporting features. 

My 1st output using the Samsung Note stylus

A crude attempt of using the lasso tool- normally seen in Photoshop to crop a image using stylus.

The in built image editing app for S-Pen. 


The phone comes with a 16GB storage. For a person who all his life has max used 2GB on his Nokia phone – 16 GB is simply overwhelming and I have already lined up some good songs & HD movies that I want to load on my phone. J . The Note also supports micro SD and you can extend that storage space.

Screen Case
I don’t know if it’s an introductory offer or a part of permanent offering but Samsung Galaxy Note comes with a free (worth INR 1700) case. So what’s the big deal about it. Well it’s not like any other nallah case or the one that comes with galaxy s2. This one has been carefully thought through. It’s a flip case with an actual phone hard cover attached to the back. This means to use it, simply remove your phone back cover and snap this on the phone. The cover is of good quality and I am sure within few months Samsung will withdraw this free cover offer. 

Touch Response

I had never been a fan of touch screen phones and have always sworn by qwerty models. One of the reason being the ease with which I could type. Call it the fat finger syndrome. You can never type quickly on iphone or any of the other touch screen phones. The Galaxy s2 somehow came with still a better screen layout than any other touch screen phones. Thanks to the size of the screen, typing becomes easy and a breeze on Galaxy Note. Also the response of the screen is pretty fast and a breeze. Samsung has come a very long way since the early days of its touch screen phones. 


I believe the fuss about the big size of the phone, whether it’s a phone or a tablet will keep on continuing on various forums and expect people around to question you – do you really use it as a phone? But over time just like how Ipad managed to create a space for itself, phones like these will manage to create a league of its own. As a person who have always stuck by Nokia for the past 12 years moving on to Android and a Samsung phone is a sign of why people are abandoning the Nokia boat – the company is not evolving and Symbian has nothing new to offer. Even Lumia is slightly disappointing.

If you are a person who love his facebook, social integration of feeds from different channels, contacts, collaboration features, love catching up on browsing on the move, need a powerful device to manage all the multi tasking between office work, mails, social life, good space to store songs/pictures/movies, etc – this device will work for you.

Sign off note: After seeing & using my phone, already a friend of mine in office placed an order for it from the same e-comm site from which I bought and another colleague has made up his mind to purchase one. Well, it’s infectious!  


Friday, October 07, 2011

RIP Steve Jobs

A cold night in Sandton, Jo’berg and the depressing news that UK has readjusted its growth target from 0.2% to 0.1% is what I went late night to bed with. Usually woken up by the 7am alarm, this time it was the early rays of sun that somehow had managed to creep in my room that woke me up. A look at the watch – 7.45am. Damn! A look at the phone – dead. Double Damn! Switched on my TV and hurriedly started doing my chores when got the most depressing news of the day, perhaps more gloomy than the recession news we have started getting used to - Steve Jobs is dead. Damn raised to the power of infinite.  

Momentarily, a deep sense of grief filled in, as if I had lost someone who was very close to me.  Never in my life had my eyes become moist and felt so saddened over the death of any public figure. The global mourning as seen over twitter, facebook, electronic & print media and other social channels with Google – Apple’s  most bitter rival in recent times putting up an obituary on their home page reflect what an iconic personality he was.

While Steve would always be remembered for founding Apple and revolutionizing the way we see & interact with mobile, music & computing devices, for me it’s his intrinsic qualities as a human being that he demonstrated to raise an empire and become a guiding light for millions of people is what the world will remember him for.

In a consumer research driven world, Steve Jobs threw out of the window all the theories we had learnt in Philip Kotler’s Marketing & Advertising bible. Consumer is always right – do extensive research around consumer products to know user behavior. When iPad was launched and it caught fancy of the world, in an interview when asked if any user or market research was done for the product, Steve bluntly replied – “consumers don’t know what they want. It’s our job to provide them”. That was Steve who always lived by his gut feel and instincts. When the big guns were building boxy computing machines in the 80s, Steve targeted for a ‘lifestyle’ product through Macintosh. He was a visionary – a gifted one who just lived his entire life with a single minded motto – follow your dream. He was a person who redefined the phrase out of the box thinking. 

His passion for being a perfectionist is also well known. He threw out 2 iphone prototypes before finally approving the final one. Creatives in Apple have a direct reporting to Steve as all product designs right from an accessory pin to a Macbook goes for an approval through him.  
Inspite of being thrown from his company, being on his own, trying new things out and coming back again to lead Apple and then battling various health issues to rise up again and again to stun the world with one path breaking product after another  reflected his never say die attitude. In his now famous Standford speech he reflected on how "Sometimes life's going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith.

"Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma -- which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

A dreamer. A visionary. A person from a contemporary era who kept on raising his internal benchmarks for innovation. A person who never gave up and taught us to stay hungry and foolish.

RIP Steve Jobs. Apple won’t be as fruitful without you.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Available for Sale - 11/12 DVD collection titled: BBC -Days That Shook The World

A brand new unopened 11/12 DVD set 3 series collection available for sale. Titled: Days That Shook The World. Price: Rs. 2700. I am selling it as someone else bought a similar set for me. I am offering it at the discounted price on which I purchased it.

(click on the photograph to see the enlarged view)

(click on the photograph to see the enlarged view)
If you are interested in buying it, please contact me on 9960601324.  

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What I hate about the new Yahoo Mail user experience

So yahoo mail is going into major upgrade mode with overhauling of entire webmail application UI, new features and integrating with some of other yahoo channels from a single interface. Most of these changes I believe happened couple of weeks/months back but I noticed it recently. While the overall look has become very sleek but I was surprised to see introduction and change made to some key user interaction that contradicts mental model of how a user perceives that feature and adds new learning curve while dealing with the refurbished Yahoo Mail.

Image 1
(Click on image thumbnails for bigger view)
For those who have not seen the new yahoo mail interface, the screen above shows you how the mail now looks in its new avatar. Prominent changes include introduction of lot of tab controls on top, ajax dropdown, overlay windows for actions, integration of applications on left hand side panel.
Earlier, on click of any mail, the mail used to open up in the same window. Now in the new version, the mail opens up as a separate page in a tab (see image below). For illustration example I have clicked the Jet airways mail below.
Image  2

The mail opens in a new tab as shown above. Perhaps in the 1st instance a user doesn’t realize that the mail has opened in a tabbed format. It’s after clicking on Inbox and selecting any other mail for viewing, the realization comes that the mails are opening in tabbed format and user can jump on to the other previously opened mail without going to inbox and selecting the mail. Works really well when it is assumed that a user normally likes performing this task or that’s a normal mail surfer’s interaction pattern. What can be the implications of this tabbed view, will illustrate with another example later but from here would like to highlight a grave ‘flaw’ if I may put it in the normal interaction pattern of a mail surfer which yahoo has deviated from.
Those who are fluent with keyboard control always prefer pressing backspace button to move back to inbox. That is the mental model of any mail surfer for going back to inbox to check the mails. This is where yahoo mail blunders. Notice what happens when you click on backspace button.

image 3

On press of backspace, instead of opening inbox window, another tab opens up with a mail. After repeated instances like these or perhaps clicking manually on inbox link from the left you get to realize that the backspace button is now linked to opening of next mail below the previously opened mail. So what you get to see is the next mail in your inbox. Bad. How can yahoo assume that a user would like to view this mail only? Shouldn’t that be a user’s prerogative? IF that was not enough, the next example will illustrate on a major blunder that Yahoo has made with the backspace button.  

image 4

I clicked on the backspace button and after realization that it is not linked to going back to inbox, I manually click on inbox and now want to open that Jetairways mail again. But where is that mail? And then I realize what the buggers at yahoo have done.

Image 5

The backspace button is now linked to deleting a mail. Very bad interaction as the usual mental model that a user presumes is that pressing backspace leads back to previous page. This is the pattern followed in ALL webmails – gmail, hotmail, rediff, indiatimes and even previously in yahoo mail too. Many users will I bet not realize this also that they have unknowingly deleted their mail! 

image 6

So now that mails open in different tabs and after realization that this is the model that will happen, I decided to check what happens when I click multiple mails. Since the idea from yahoo is for letting users surf seamlessly between different open stage mails without letting them move back to inbox, with each click the open tab on top navigation panel kept increasing. Will a user click any tab to close his mail and do ‘tab management’? I hope yahoo has done some user testing around this as many people might find this irritating (clicking open tabs again & again).

Image 7

And as I suspected, this is what happened when I clicked multiple mails and didn’t bother to close the open tabs. As I was testing this feature, I was prepared to get a response like this but users who perhaps might miss the open tab mail reading concept and keep navigating through inbox link on left to read mails, might perhaps take a while to realize what this means and the entire concept of tabbed mail approach.

Like with any new rollout where major changes are made, there would be initial reluctance but over period people do get used to it. I am sure with yahoo mail also people will start adapting to the new features but if only yahoo would have not deviated from the key functionality interactions that are followed by all mail users across other sites and retained the same then it would have been perfect.  

Sunday, February 06, 2011

What's the fart about?

Now this is the kind of news that can make any person like me, reeling under a late night party hangover sit and read it attentively.

Oblivion to the world fuel crisis, global recession, the Arab world renaissance, rapidly growing inflation or the even nearly approach 2012 dooms day, a small African nation - Malawi will vigorously debate in the coming week in their parliament if farting in public should be made criminal offence. Wow. I love this kind of news. Sadly this 4 column news was tucked in the World section in TOI. In my opinion this has to be the most catching and attention grabbing news to come in recent months and should have been placed right on front page! People are bored to read about the Egypt crisis, the 65 rs kilo Onion, Petrol & Beer kind of news. Now this is news. A country already reeling under poverty spending the precious little tax saver’s money to debate on issues that can in future have global catastrophic effect. As per the news…

"The government has a right to ensure public decency. We are entitled to introduce order in the country," justice and constitutional affairs minister George Chaponda told independent radio station Capital Radio. "Would you like to see people farting in public anywhere?" Since the country embraced multi-party politics 16 years ago people had felt free to fart anywhere, said Chaponda. 

"It was not there during the time of dictatorship because people were afraid of the consequences. Now because of multipartism or freedom, people would like to fart anywhere, he said. 

I completely agree with you bro. In a democratic, multi party system, people tend to fart albeit loudly – in public places, on the national media, in parliament, on tax payer sponsored foreign visits without thinking of the consequences. Now the only difference is that these are the people who run the country. But let me tell you my friend, in dictatorship too the people – especially the one who call the shots in the country do fart but the only difference is that in dictatorship the fart is passed off by the state owned media as the next perfume brand from the house of Gucci.

Not many people understand that farting is the most technical job you can ever imagine to perform. More complex than the Matrix itself. Imagine stuck in a small group or sitting in a small restaurant, or in front of your would be fiancĂ© or gf and you get the feeling – oh yeah a fart is on the way. You have to draw upon your years of experience to convert that big bang into a silencer equipped muzzle shot so that it’s not heard. Yeah, bet the men reading this post can relate with that.

I am sure if I google, I can find many games around farting itself. If there are games already available for ipad , iphone & android, bet there should be real versions followed too. The Biggest Farter Wins. Measuring the velocity of a farter by lighting the gas behind! Speaking of which, have you ever wondered why they put up a BIG RED colored ‘STRICTLY NO SMOKING’ bright signage in all corridors of Parliament, the visitor’s gallery & near cabins of all ministers in Government establishments? Yup, you guessed it right! I had an opportunity to visit the Parliament once and if you have ever been to the visitor’s gallery, you will see the AC blower on full blast and a transparent glass screen blocking the atmospheric air emitted by our honourly politicians. While public safety measures are taken what makes these politicans immune from the self emitted every day farts that they release in the Parliament? There are 2 reasons for that. 1) These guys are thick skinned. So any molecular particle floating from a colleague’s fart just bounces off from the skin of these guys instead of settling down. 2) More importantly, all the guys who get selected to represent our constituencies go through a nose membrane transplant. A small mesh is implanted that converts the inhaled foul gas into a fresh reusable fart by the same guy. Why do you think we are the toast of all the carbon credit seeking countries? Innovative mechanisms can be seen right in the bowels of the Parliament especially if some debate is on.

By the way, there are 3 countries that can never ever ban farting. They are Pakistan, India & China.

India, we already know and briefly talked about above why. Read any bi lateral talks results between Pakistan/India or China/India and you can guess why farting can never be banned.

Pakistan has taken farting to next level. Tired of using guns, ammos, normal bombs, suicide bombers in Pakistan, fed with a gastronomic diet of Jihad are turning themselves into a live Fart Bombers. The promises to the bombers I am told are a lifetime McDonalds & Pizza Hut supply in heaven (or hell) and a complimentary tickling by the most beautiful nymph. For bombers in POK photos of Katrina Kaif are passed off as the nymph.

Now Chinese farts are quite tricky ones. You keep your ears up to hear any mumbling noise from a Chinese ass but hardly hear anything. The Chinese farts are more like Chinse whispers. There definitely is a fart but you don’t hear it and smell it a little late. Or else how can you explain this Wen Jiabo chap making an official trip to India – all armed with Hindi Chini bhai bhai scented room freshner, his aides spraying it before hand in any meeting and once he was gone, 2 weeks later you get the foul smell of the Arunachal Pradesh stapled visa issue.

But imagine if they was indeed an actual ministry, just like the Malwai chaps enforcing laws related to farting in India? I wonder what that ministry would be called? Ministry of Renewable Energies or Ministry of Natural Gas. I can think of the latter. But I bilve there is already a minstry by that name. I guess they would have made it Ministry of Natural gas – Internal & Minstry of Natural gas  - External. The internal one would focus on the ‘real’ natural gas sourced from deep inside the earth while the external will concentrate their energies on the natural gases emitted by people. While the country would be reeling under heavy inflation and rising food costs and Sharad Pawar would be grilled in Parliament, the chap managing the MoNG – E  portfolio would be quietly chuckling in one corner in the Parliament. After all the rising food cost is directly proportional to the fart emitted in air. High food cost means less people will buy fart emitting veggies like ‘mooli’ which means less of fart to pollute the air.

Back closer to work, you deal day in day out with guys who have made careers by farting. The mantra is not ‘Work Smarter Not Harder’ but ‘Fart Harder but Smarter’. Yes, in a collaborative world, every fart counts in work and you need to keep updating your repository with newer,  smarter mechanisms of farting and making customers bill you $140/hr consulting rate . After all for them it’s not just a fart. It’s a process of synthesizing efficient paradigms that involve intuitive methodologies to unleash visionary whiff of air to deliver ‘bleeding-edge’ solutions.  The same logic applies internally when you want to don the role of Arjuna – the Savior. Genuine thought process, views are taken as crap. One ‘fart-astra’ from your arsenal can quieten the most vocal or rational ones.

Should really thank the article that got printed ysday. Atleast it motivated me to put this farty post after a long time. Till the time the world is full of news like this, which I am sure it will be, it will always get me on to release some gas of my own!

All farts welcomed in the comments section :-)