Iron Man 3 Review – Oh what a tangled web we weave!

Iron Man 3 has more. Twice the villains. Five times the Iron Men. More girls for Tony Stark. Pepper Pots finally gets some action scenes. But I like the guy with the English accent the best- even better than Australian hunk. Anything more and you could end up with a spoilt ending. Hollywood gives us movie sequels knowing we are suckers for watching how the story will turn out. This edition though was not so great as the last Avengers universe franchise. Go with lowered expectations or with your kids, and you will be okay.

On and one more thing! At the end of ALL the credits- the Dr Bruce Banner makes a 2 minute nice appearance. Witty! The movie just make a big hit financially but alarm bells should ring in the Avenger sequel universe. Especially since Star Trek and Super Man are just here!

Iron Man 3 Teaser Poster

Top five ways to do business unethically in India

Over a decade long career , I have often been reminded of this saying from erstwhile mentors in long forgotten consulting email group- It is not WHAT you KNOW, it is WHO you KNOW. The power of WHO you KNOW can defeat even what you know , have learnt or worked hard at. Accordingly these are some wry observations on how businesses sometimes take shortcuts in India, and the whys and wherefores.

1) Regulatory Arbitrage due to Lack of Regulatory Oversight- This is especially true in terms of labor practices. This includes under-paying Caucasians and non -Indians for internships , or jobs (in the name of sponsoring the work visa). India is an extremely inexpensive place to stay in, but it is sometimes unfriendly (in terms of laws not people) to people visiting from the West. This ranges from amusing things to paying 10 times the price for non Indian visitors to Taj Mahal- to not so funny things as paying them lower salaries because they need  a reason to stay on. Unfortunately this is true in many countries -underpaying aliens, but it is much better regulated in the West.

2) Stealing Intellectual Property– I have often known people to steal presentations and even excel macros from the place they were working to the new place. Almost no one gets prosecuted for intellectual property theft (unless you are caught with 10,000 pirated music or film cds)

3) Using Pirated Softwares – Lack of awareness of FOSS means many SMEs use shortcuts including downloading software from Pirate Bay and using this to work for clients in the West. Example- This could be as simple as downloading SAS software from Internet, or using WPS software for training and mis-representing SAS Institute’s name. (added confusion due to SAS -software,company,language ) . There are other major companies who suffer from this too, notably Microsoft.

This could be as complex as using academic versions of enterprise software for businesses purposes. In each case because of the geography, legal risk is quite low, and returns quite high from pirated software. It also helps lower the unethical vendor’s quotation of prices compared to the one who is doing it straight.

One way to avoid this is –ask your vendor to show you copy of how many legal licence’s for software. It can also help in cutting down exaggerated bench strength claims of vendors, as sometimes businesses hire many people and then put them on internal projects.

4) Illegal Trade practices- This include making employees sign a 1 year bond for not leaving the company after they have visited the West for company work- in the name of training . This also includes abusing the loopholes in various types of visa.

5) Ignoring signed contracts and negotiating to lower prices at every step illegally, in collusion with other vendors ( there is no effective anti -trust act ) and using the complete inadequate and lengthy nature of filing court cases in India.
Almost every non Indian client I know pays on time- almost every Indian client I know needs reminders. This is more of a mindset problem , knowing the reluctance to file lawsuits in India given slow progress in the courts ( India has 1.2 billion people and per capita access to judges and lawyers is quite low). The buzz word is- How much can we settle this? Lets do a settlement!

In the long run, this is choking off growth and potential of SMEs in India. In a continuing series- I will help the non Indian users with ways to use technology for legal remedies  in India for intellectual property  along with known case studies and examples.

Using a Linux only package in Windows #rstats

Here is some R code for using a R package that has only a tar.gz file available (used to load R packages in Linux) and no Zip file available (used to load R packages in Windows).

Step 1- Download the tar.gz file.

Step 2 Unzip it (twice) using 7zip

Step 3 Change the path variable below to your unzipped, downloaded location for the R sub folder within the package folder .

Step 4 Copy and Paste this in R

Step 5 Start using the R package in Windows (where 75% of the money and clients and businesses still are)

Caveat Emptor- No X Dependencies (ok!)

for (i in 1:c){source(gsub(" ","",paste(path,"\\",b[i])))}



Adding a + to the link you get to get analytics on your spammers

Just add a + sign to any link and you get to see associated analytics for that link.

you can get information (traffic, referrers, locations, conversations) about any link simply by taking the short URL and adding a “+” at the end (minus the quotes)

Click on the image below and notice the + sign in the URL.

Read more here this can be useful than just fun-

Using for Spying, Link Building and Happiness

Unrelated- I interview Hilary Mason, Analytics legend and Chief Scientist here –

Interview Hilary Mason Chief Scientist bitly


Using R for Cricket Analysis #rstats #IPL

#Downloading the Data for batting across all formats of cricket
tables=readHTMLTable(url,stringsAsFactors = F)
#Note we wrote stringsAsFactors=F in this to avoid getting factor variables, 
#since we will need to convert these variables to numeric variables
table2=tables$"Overall figures"
#Creating new variables from Span
#Creating New Variables. In cricket a not out score is denoted by * which can cause data quality error. 
#This is treated by grepl for finding and gsub for removing the *. 
#Note the double \ to escape regex charachter
#Creating a FOR Loop (!) to convert variables to numeric variables
for (i in 3:17) {
+     table2[, i] <- as.numeric(table2[, i])
+ }

and we see why Sachin Tendulkar is the best (by using ggplot via Deducer)


Also see 

  • Freaknomics Challenge-
    1. Prove match fixing does not and cannot exist in IPL
    2. Create an ideal fantasy team


Understanding the Google Cloud

Google has a lot of services, so I really like this simple explanation of them. Though I may want a clickable , one more level of detail to make it interactive (esp Google cloud SQL vs Google Big Query- love in a tech documentation??)

google cloud


I wish technical documentation had more examples of lucid , infographic like explanations.


Dashboard Design: Google Activity

I quite like Google’s monthly email on account activity. It is the Google way to offer free services, as well as treat users as special, that continues to command loyalty despite occasional exasperation with corporate thingies.

See this dashboard-

1Notice the use of Bigger Font for overall number of emails as well as smaller bar plots- I would say they are almost spark lines or spark bar plots if you excuse my Tufte.

The medium range font shows persons sent/from statistics, and the color shades are done to empahsize or de-emphasize the metric

Colors used are black/grey, green and blue coincident with the Corporate Logo.

However some of the JS for visualizations need to be tweaked. Clearly the hover script ( an  integral part of Dashboard design ) needs better elucidiation or formatting)


I would also venture my neck and suggest that rather than just monthly snapshots, atleast some way of comparing snapshots across periods or even the total time period be enabled- rather than be in seperate views.  This may give the user a bit more analytical value.

Overall, a nice and simple dashboard which may be of some use to the business user who makes or views a lot of reports on online properties. Minimal and effective- and in keeping with Open Data- Data Liberation Principles. I guess Google is secure in the knowledge that users do not view time spent on Google services as a total waste , unlike some of the other more social 😉 websites they spend time on.