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The impact of currency fluctuations on outsourcing businesses globally

 

The impact of currency fluctuations on outsourcing businesses globally.

If you have a current offshore team in a different country/currency zone then you may find that the significant cost savings from outsourcing have vanished due to currency fluctuations that occur for reasons like earthquakes, war or oil- something which is outside the core competency of your business corporation. As off shoring companies incur cost in local currencies but gain revenue in American Dollars and Euro (mostly), they pass on these fluctuating costs to their customers but rarely pass along discounts on existing contracts. Sometimes the offshoring contract actually gains from currency fluctuations.The Indian rupee has fluctuated from  43.62 Rupees per USD (04-01-2005) to 48.58 (12-31-2008) to the current value of 44.65.This makes for a volatility component of almost 10 percentage points to the revenue and profit margins of an off shoring vendor. Inflation in India has been growing at 8.5 % and the annual increase in salaries has been around 10-15 % for the past few years. Offshoring vendors have been known to cut back on quality in recruitment when costs have risen historically, and the current attrition rate in Indian ITES is almost 17%.
This raises important questions for companies going for global bids for the offshoring contracts. Should macroeconomic indicators like currency fluctuations, wage-inflation be part of the request for proposal process (RFP). Would vendors be comfortable in disclosing the ratio of salary costs to billing revenue. Should dips in service quality be penalized by customer. Most importantly, while going in for a multi year contract, the projection of fore-casted savings may vary greatly due to extraneous factors.
(this article was originally written for and published by http://www.indiasoftwarebrief.com/ in their daily newsletter and their socail media channel- see http://www.linkedin.com/groups/impact-currency-fluctuations-on-outsourcing-3825591.S.48411960)

 

 

What to do if you see a possible GPL violation

GNU Lesser General Public License

Image via Wikipedia

Well I have played with software (mostly but not exclusively) analytical, and I admire the zeal and energy of both open source and closed source practioners- all having relatively decent people executing strategies their investors or owners tell them to do (closed source) or motivated by their own self sense of cool-change the world-openness (open source)

What I dont get is people stealing open source code- repackaging without adding major contributions- claiming patent pending stuff- and basically making money by creating CLOSED source from the open source software-(as open source is yet to break the enterprise glass cieling)

you are either open source or you arent.

bi- sexuality is okay. bi-codability is not.

Next time you see someone stealing some community’s open source code- refer to this excellent link.

 

But, we cannot act on our own if we do not hold copyright. Thus, be sure to find out who the copyright holders of the software are before reporting a violation.

http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-violation.html

Violations of the GNU Licenses

If you think you see a violation of the GNU GPLLGPLAGPL, or FDL, the first thing you should do is double-check the facts:

  • Does the distribution contain a copy of the License?
  • Does it clearly state which software is covered by the License? Does it say anything misleading, perhaps giving the impression that something is covered by the License when in fact it is not?
  • Is source code included in the distribution?
  • Is a written offer for source code included with a distribution of just binaries?
  • Is the available source code complete, or is it designed for linking in other non-free modules?

If there seems to be a real violation, the next thing you need to do is record the details carefully:

  • the precise name of the product
  • the name of the person or organization distributing it
  • email addresses, postal addresses and phone numbers for how to contact the distributor(s)
  • the exact name of the package whose license is violated
  • how the license was violated:
    • Is the copyright notice of the copyright holder included?
    • Is the source code completely missing?
    • Is there a written offer for source that’s incomplete in some way? This could happen if it provides a contact address or network URL that’s somehow incorrect.
    • Is there a copy of the license included in the distribution?
    • Is some of the source available, but not all? If so, what parts are missing?

The more of these details that you have, the easier it is for the copyright holder to pursue the matter.

Once you have collected the details, you should send a precise report to the copyright holder of the packages that are being misused. The copyright holder is the one who is legally authorized to take action to enforce the license.

If the copyright holder is the Free Software Foundation, please send the report to <license-violation@gnu.org>. It’s important that we be able to write back to you to get more information about the violation or product. So, if you use an anonymous remailer, please provide a return path of some sort. If you’d like to encrypt your correspondence, just send a brief mail saying so, and we’ll make appropriate arrangements.

Note that the GPL, and other copyleft licenses, are copyright licenses. This means that only the copyright holders are empowered to act against violations. The FSF acts on all GPL violations reported on FSF copyrighted code, and we offer assistance to any other copyright holder who wishes to do the same.

But, we cannot act on our own if we do not hold copyright. Thus, be sure to find out who the copyright holders of the software are before reporting a violation.

 

Google Refine

An interesting data cleaning software from Google at

https://code.google.com/p/google-refine/

From the page at

https://code.google.com/p/google-refine/wiki/UserGuide

The Basics

First, although Google Refine might start out looking like a spreadsheet program (Microsoft Excel, Google Spreadsheets, etc.), don’t expect it to work like a spreadsheet program. That’s almost like expecting a database to work like a text editor.

Google Refine is NOT for entering new data one cell at a time. It is NOT for doing accounting.

Google Refine is for applying transformations over many existing cells in bulk, for the purpose of cleaning up the data, extending it with more data from other sources, and getting it to some form that other tools can consume.

To use Google Refine, think in big patterns. For example, to spot errors, think

  • Show me every row where the string length of the customer’s name is longer than 50 characters (because I suspect that the customer’s address is mistakenly included in the name field)
  • Show me every row where the contract fee is less than 1 (because I suspect the fee was entered in unit of thousand dollars rather than dollars)
  • Show me every row where the description field (scraped from some web site) contains “&” (because I suspect it wasn’t decoded properly)

To edit data, think

  • For every row where the contract fee is less than 1, multiply the fee by 1000.
  • For every row where the customer name contains a comma (it has been entered as “last_name, first_name”), split the name by the comma, reverse the array, and join it back with a space (producing “first_name last_name”)

To specify patterns, use filters and facets. Typically, you create a filter or facet on a particular column. For example, you can create a numeric facet on the “contract fee” column and adjust its range selector to select values less than 1. If the default facet doesn’t do what you want, you can configure it (by clicking “change” on the facet’s header). For example, you can create a text facet with on the same “contract fee” column with this expression:

  value < 1

It will show 2 choices: true and false. Just select true. Then, invoke the Transform command on that same column and enter the expression

  value * 1000

That Transform command affects only rows where the “contract fee” cell contains a value less than 1.

You can use several filters and facets together. Only rows that are selected by all facets and filters will be shown in the data table. For example, say you have two text facets, one on the “contract fee” column with the expression

  value < 1

and another on the “state” column (with the default expression). If you select “true” in the first facet and “Nevada” in the second, then you will only see rows for contracts in Nevada with fees less than 1.

Analogies

Databases

If you have programmed databases before (performing SQL queries), then what Google Refine works should be quite familiar to you. Creating filters and facets and selecting something in them is like performing this SELECT statement:

  SELECT *
  WHERE ... constraints determined by selection in facets and filters ...

And invoking the Transform command on a column while having some filters and facets selected is like performing this UPDATE statement

  UPDATE whole_table SET column_X = ... expression ...
  WHERE ... constraints determined by selection in facets and filters ...

The difference between Google Refine and databases is that the facets show you choices that you can select, whereas databases assume that you already know what’s in the data.

 

Interview Ajay Ohri Decisionstats.com with DMR

From-

http://www.dataminingblog.com/data-mining-research-interview-ajay-ohri/

Here is the winner of the Data Mining Research People Award 2010: Ajay Ohri! Thanks to Ajay for giving some time to answer Data Mining Research questions. And all the best to his blog, Decision Stat!

Data Mining Research (DMR): Could you please introduce yourself to the readers of Data Mining Research?

Ajay Ohri (AO): I am a business consultant and writer based out of Delhi- India. I have been working in and around the field of business analytics since 2004, and have worked with some very good and big companies primarily in financial analytics and outsourced analytics. Since 2007, I have been writing my blog at http://decisionstats.com which now has almost 10,000 views monthly.

All in all, I wrote about data, and my hobby is also writing (poetry). Both my hobby and my profession stem from my education ( a masters in business, and a bachelors in mechanical engineering).

My research interests in data mining are interfaces (simpler interfaces to enable better data mining), education (making data mining less complex and accessible to more people and students), and time series and regression (specifically ARIMAX)
In business my research interests software marketing strategies (open source, Software as a service, advertising supported versus traditional licensing) and creation of technology and entrepreneurial hubs (like Palo Alto and Research Triangle, or Bangalore India).

DMR: I know you have worked with both SAS and R. Could you give your opinion about these two data mining tools?

AO: As per my understanding, SAS stands for SAS language, SAS Institute and SAS software platform. The terms are interchangeably used by people in industry and academia- but there have been some branding issues on this.
I have not worked much with SAS Enterprise Miner , probably because I could not afford it as business consultant, and organizations I worked with did not have a budget for Enterprise Miner.
I have worked alone and in teams with Base SAS, SAS Stat, SAS Access, and SAS ETS- and JMP. Also I worked with SAS BI but as a user to extract information.
You could say my use of SAS platform was mostly in predictive analytics and reporting, but I have a couple of projects under my belt for knowledge discovery and data mining, and pattern analysis. Again some of my SAS experience is a bit dated for almost 1 year ago.

I really like specific parts of SAS platform – as in the interface design of JMP (which is better than Enterprise Guide or Base SAS ) -and Proc Sort in Base SAS- I guess sequential processing of data makes SAS way faster- though with computing evolving from Desktops/Servers to even cheaper time shared cloud computers- I am not sure how long Base SAS and SAS Stat can hold this unique selling proposition.

I dislike the clutter in SAS Stat output, it confuses me with too much information, and I dislike shoddy graphics in the rendering output of graphical engine of SAS. Its shoddy coding work in SAS/Graph and if JMP can give better graphics why is legacy source code preventing SAS platform from doing a better job of it.

I sometimes think the best part of SAS is actually code written by Goodnight and Sall in 1970’s , the latest procs don’t impress me much.

SAS as a company is something I admire especially for its way of treating employees globally- but it is strange to see the rest of tech industry not following it. Also I don’t like over aggression and the SAS versus Rest of the Analytics /Data Mining World mentality that I sometimes pick up when I deal with industry thought leaders.

I think making SAS Enterprise Miner, JMP, and Base SAS in a completely new web interface priced at per hour rates is my wishlist but I guess I am a bit sentimental here- most data miners I know from early 2000’s did start with SAS as their first bread earning software. Also I think SAS needs to be better priced in Business Intelligence- it seems quite cheap in BI compared to Cognos/IBM but expensive in analytical licensing.

If you are a new stats or business student, chances are – you may know much more R than SAS today. The shift in education at least has been very rapid, and I guess R is also more of a platform than a analytics or data mining software.

I like a lot of things in R- from graphics, to better data mining packages, modular design of software, but above all I like the can do kick ass spirit of R community. Lots of young people collaborating with lots of young to old professors, and the energy is infectious. Everybody is a CEO in R ’s world. Latest data mining algols will probably start in R, published in journals.

Which is better for data mining SAS or R? It depends on your data and your deadline. The golden rule of management and business is -it depends.

Also I have worked with a lot of KXEN, SQL, SPSS.

DMR: Can you tell us more about Decision Stats? You have a traffic of 120′000 for 2010. How did you reach such a success?

AO: I don’t think 120,000 is a success. Its not a failure. It just happened- the more I wrote, the more people read.In 2007-2008 I used to obsess over traffic. I tried SEO, comments, back linking, and I did some black hat experimental stuff. Some of it worked- some didn’t.

In the end, I started asking questions and interviewing people. To my surprise, senior management is almost always more candid , frank and honest about their views while middle managers, public relations, marketing folks can be defensive.

Social Media helped a bit- Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook really helped my network of friends who I suppose acted as informal ambassadors to spread the word.
Again I was constrained by necessity than choices- my middle class finances ( I also had a baby son in 2007-my current laptop still has some broken keys :) – by my inability to afford traveling to conferences, and my location Delhi isn’t really a tech hub.

The more questions I asked around the internet, the more people responded, and I wrote it all down.

I guess I just was lucky to meet a lot of nice people on the internet who took time to mentor and educate me.

I tried building other websites but didn’t succeed so i guess I really don’t know. I am not a smart coder, not very clever at writing but I do try to be honest.

Basic economics says pricing is proportional to demand and inversely proportional to supply. Honest and candid opinions have infinite demand and an uncertain supply.

DMR: There is a rumor about a R book you plan to publish in 2011 :-) Can you confirm the rumor and tell us more?

AO: I just signed a contract with Springer for ” R for Business Analytics”. R is a great software, and lots of books for statistically trained people, but I felt like writing a book for the MBAs and existing analytics users- on how to easily transition to R for Analytics.

Like any language there are tricks and tweaks in R, and with a focus on code editors, IDE, GUI, web interfaces, R’s famous learning curve can be bent a bit.

Making analytics beautiful, and simpler to use is always a passion for me. With 3000 packages, R can be used for a lot more things and a lot more simply than is commonly understood.
The target audience however is business analysts- or people working in corporate environments.

Brief Bio-
Ajay Ohri has been working in the field of analytics since 2004 , when it was a still nascent emerging Industries in India. He has worked with the top two Indian outsourcers listed on NYSE,and with Citigroup on cross sell analytics where he helped sell an extra 50000 credit cards by cross sell analytics .He was one of the very first independent data mining consultants in India working on analytics products and domestic Indian market analytics .He regularly writes on analytics topics on his web site www.decisionstats.com and is currently working on open source analytical tools like R besides analytical software like SPSS and SAS.

R Journal Dec 2010 and R for Business Analytics

A Bold GNU Head

Image via Wikipedia

I almost missed out on the R Journal for this month- great reading,

and I liked Dr Hadley’s article on stringr package the best. Really really useful package and nice writing too

http://journal.r-project.org/archive/2010-2/RJournal_2010-2_Wickham.pdf

(incidentally I just downloaded a local copy of his ggplot website at http://had.co.nz/ggplot2/ggplot-static.zip

I aim to really read that one up

Okay, announcement time

I just signed a contract with Springer for a book on R, some what in first half of 2011

” R for Business Analytics

its going to be a more business analytics than a stats perspective ( I am a MBA /Mech Engineer)

and use cases would be business analytics cases. Do write to me if you need help doing some analytics in R (business use cases)- or want something featured. Big focus would be on GUI and easier analytics, using the Einsteinian principle to make things as simple as possible but no simpler)

The Writer

Sorry, the words went, we cant offer you a contract
The cheque is in the mail, said another
I will send the contract shortly, was a thirds refrain
Not now, maybe next year, decade or century

Writers, unite
Nothing to lose,
but your editors and creditors

So once again,
going back to the broken worn laptop,
hammering away keys, to ham away the stoic egoistic grief

You are in the wrong country, color, class,
Just when you thought you got the hang of the game,
The game flipped, from rugby to basketball,
but not quite cricket.

You have been hanging out with the rich kids again,
with the richness of your thoughts to compensate,
for the inadequacy of your pocket.

Time to come back,
Dear writer,
It is time to write.

India to make own DoS -citing cyber security

After writing code for the whole world, Indian DoD (Department of Defense) has decided to start making it’s own Operating System citing cyber security. Presumably they know all about embedded code in chips, sneak kill code routines in dependent packages in operating system, and would not be using Linus Trovald’s original kernel (maybe the website was hacked to insert a small call k function ;)

as the ancient Chinese said- May you live in interesting times. Still cyber wars are better than real wars- and StuxNet virus is but a case study why countries can kill enemy plans without indulging in last century tactics.

Source-Manick Sorcar, The great Indian magician

http://www.manicksorcar.com/cartoon33.jpg

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/news/software-services/Security-threat-DRDO-to-make-own-OS/articleshow/6719375.cms

BANGALORE: India would develop its own futuristic computer operating system to thwart attempts of cyber attacks and data theft and things of that nature, a top defence scientist said.

Dr V K Saraswat, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister, said the DRDO has just set up a software development  centre each here and in Delhi, with the mandate develop such a system. This “national effort” would be spearheaded by the  Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in partnership with software companies in and around Bangalore,  Hyderabad and Delhi as also academic institutions like Indian Institute of Science Bangalore and IIT Chennai, among others.

“There are many gaps in our software areas; particularly we don’t have our own operating system,” said  Saraswat, also Director General of DRDO and Secretary, Defence R & D. India currently uses operating systems developed by western countries.

Read more: Security threat: DRDO to make own OS – The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/news/software-services/Security-threat-DRDO-to-make-own-OS/articleshow/6719375.cms#ixzz1227Y3oHg

 

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