13 Oct 2009

Facebook Search. Updated.

Facebook Search has just been updated in a subtle but significant way.

Earlier, to visit a person's profile, an application or a page all one had to do was type the first few letters in the search box, use the arrow keys to select the profile that came up automatically and click return.

Now - this has changed and it instead leads to a search page for that particular keyword instead.

As you can probably see, this small change can potentially have a significant impact on usage inside Facebook.

For instance, if I type a name that's popular among my friends, say Jack, then the search results would show me their profiles (along with profiles of other Jacks) together with status updates/wall posts that include the word Jack.

Similarly, if you searched for a product you are already a fan of, then potentially, in the search results, you'd get the fan page you were looking for, but perhaps also another group that critiques that product or company (on Facebook these usually end up with names like 'We hate Acme'). All this, leading to a more democratic social network.

Maybe this change has come about as a result of Facebook's acquisition of Friendfeed and its people?

This small change would be just one of many others if there wasn't a small rider to the way Facebook search now behaves.

There is no change in the way you browse profiles if you type the first few letters, let the results come up under the search box and then use your mouse to click on the profile. In that case you're led to the profile directly. I suppose Facebook has retained this functionality for the mouse for more 'novice' users who do not mind moving hands from keyboard to mouse for a result.

So what Facebook have (very cleverly) done, is that they've changed the UI for more experienced users while retaining it for more novice users. A very smart move and a strategic one at that.

22 Mar 2009


Originally uploaded by Mia Elliott
Guess its time I posted a portrait of myself taken by my budding photographer girlfriend.

This is me in Poland. We were hiking in the Tatra mountains and this is near the town of Zakopane, just near the Polish/Slovakian border.

As usual, my girlfriend takes much better photos of me than I have ever managed of her. Actually, there is one I took a long time ago - maybe I will post it here in a bit!

24 Feb 2009

University Challenge

The BBC is notorious for moderating comments on their website, so mine will probably not get published - but here it is for my blog's benefit. I challenge you to disagree.

I say: "Questions on UC (like Mastermind) are distinctly British and mainly test memory. In today's world, when it has become much easier to access information, people that are truly intelligent put more effort into being able to analyse diverse and large quantities of information than in memorising its detail. University Challenge participants might be brainy, but for this reason, are probably quite un-intelligent."

So in effect, Gail Trimble might be the brainiest woman in Britain, but her success on 'University Challenge' is perhaps evidence that she does not use her capability intelligently enough.

Analysing this in technological terms, it would be stupid to make the CPU in a computer do the graphics processing when a separate graphics chip is already present on the board. 

Rather than admiring such an obvious fault, we should be condemning those that implement it this way. University Challenge is an obsolete concept from an age when information was still only found in print and fifficult to aggregate. We need a 'University challenge 2.0' now.

Brain power is expensive. Machines are cheap. Lets leave the memorization to the machines please and leave us to do higher things - like analysis, or invention. Anybody?

14 Feb 2009

Two thirds of all Indian people I know have been abused

This Valentine's Day, before we express our love to the significant people in our lives, lets remember that several hundred million people around the world are probably unable to enjoy love as much as the rest of us can, or be intimate with their partners without being affected by trauma that persists from their childhood.

To draw an analogy, yes, when we were young our parents asked us to finish the food on our plate because children were starving in poor parts of the world (and they still are). I haven't seen this in many other parts of the world, but in most parts of India, ostentatiousness is looked down upon when there is so much exposure to extreme poverty everyday. So just as we must respect other people's hunger and poverty, so must we respect the inability of many people to love, be loved and be happy.

Am I being overly dramatic? Well I wish I was.

Consider this: India has 19% of the world's children. Yes, 19%. One in five. And over half of them - 50%, have been and continue to be sexually abused. This according to a UN study in partnership with the Indian government conducted in 2007.

What does that mean? Even if there was no child sex abuse in other parts of the world and remained only in India, such figures mean that one in every 10 children in the whole world would have been sexually abused. The actual figure though, is much higher. There is probably more abuse in your country than you imagine. And these things don't happen to 'other people'. There is probably evidence of some sexual abuse in your extended family. People you know still struggle with it and find it difficult to come to terms with it.

And for Indians under the misconception that this only happens in rural parts of India, well, I am from a fairly elite background and there are several people I know and mix with, who were sexually abused. These are people who have come out in the open - many more lie quiet, too traumatised by their childhoods to ever speak about it again.

What better way then, for those of us who are fortunate enough to have led relatively happier childhoods, to give a little money to a charity that helps such children. They only need $12K (although if you're a millionaire and want to donate more, please do)  - a small drop comapred to what is needed, but hey, its not so difficult to make a start. Your $20 will go a long way.

Here's a repost from 12Kfor12K

After the original charity encountered some last-minute problems, we are delighted to announce the charity the 12for12k Challenge will be supporting in February.

Stop the Silence is an amazing charity that is doing some incredibly difficult and heartbreaking work - dealing with the sexual abuse of children.



Across the world, 150 million girls and 73 million boys are subjected to forced sexual intercourse and other forms of sexual violence (WHO, 2002). In the U.S. at least one out of four girls and one out of seven boys are sexually abused by 18 years old. Nearly 50 percent of all sexual assaults are against girls aged 15 or younger. There are an estimated 60-80 million survivors of CSA in the U.S. alone.

Life outcomes often include poor school performance, depression, psychosis, promiscuity, teen pregnancy, prostitution, drug abuse, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV, homelessness, suicide and homicide, and chronic disease. Between doctors, lawyers, social service workers and many others, it costs the U.S. billions of dollars each year to address the aftermath of the abuse - it needs to be prevented, and treated correctly if it happens.

The Mission of Stop the Silence is to expose and stop child sexual abuse and help survivors heal worldwide. The charity’s overarching goals are to:

1) help stop child sexual abuse (CSA) and related forms of violence;
2) promote healing of victims and survivors;
3) celebrate the lives of those healed.

Through their work, Stop the Silence aims to address the relationships between child sexual abuse and the broader issues of overall family and community violence, and violence within and between communities.

While the popular belief is that sexual abuse is carried out by strangers who lure their child victims, the majority is actually carried out by people in positions of trust. Family; friends of the family; teachers; community leaders and more. This leaves the child feeling as if they’re to blame - why else would someone they trust abuse them in this way?

While our original charity for February was going to be an animal-based one, the 12for12k Challenge believes strongly in what Stop the Silence is trying to achieve. We hope you do too, and help us raise much-needed funds for this inspiring cause.


  • Note: When using the ChipIn widget to make your donation, the email on the front page will be the main 12for12k Charities one. However, your payment does go directly to Stop the Silence and your PayPal or Credit Card receipt will show this.


Related posts:

  1. The First Charity for the 12for12k Challenge
  2. Total Raised for January
  3. PayPal Option Now Available

4 Feb 2009

Saul Steinberg and the global economic crisis

Just noticed that Christoph Niemann new post on his blog on the New York Times titled I Lego NY. Someone in one of the comments compared it to Saul Steinberg's art.

So had a look at the Saul Steinberg Foundation page and got this off it: "Saul Steinberg (1914-1999) was one of America’s most beloved artists, renowned for the covers and drawings that appeared in The New Yorker for nearly six decades and for the drawings, paintings, prints, collages, and sculptures exhibited internationally in galleries and museums." Take a look at some of his art in the gallery here

On the foundation's website, I found this one piece particularly fascinating - pretty representative of the current economic crisis in my opinion. Greed, achievement and more greed. And then Kaput.

(click on the image to go to its original source)

21 Jan 2009

Here's what Heston thinks of the Big Chef menu!

(Stupid.  Channel 4 doesn't like to share its videos. Click anywhere on the video to go to Youtube instead)

31 says left - catch up on the show here: Channel 4

Update: Don't feel like promoting links to Channel 4 anymore because they restrict their content (like the video above). They have no qualms about putting a clip on YouTube but don't like people blogging about it.

19 Jan 2009

Heston Blumenthal and Little Chef

Wow, Just saw the first episode of Big Chef takes on Little Chef and I must say it is the most embarassing portrait I have seen drawn of any CEO.

Ian Pegler, the CEO of Little Chef (which is a chain of roadside restaurants in the UK) besides having inanely blank face expressions almost seems like a kid used to throwing tantrums being thrown inside an adult playground where people actually negotiate.

According to the Telegraph, Little Chef collapsed into administration with a £3m annual loss in 2007 and the company is now managed by two investment funds: R Capital and Flight & Partners. Ian, it seems, was the CEO of Dixon's and Marks & Spencer earlier.

Anyway, so Ian invited Heston Blumenthal, the dude who runs the 'Second Best restaurant in the world' to re-engineer their menu with £350K. Naturally, it seems he spoke to the investors and they okayed it. Now this is fine, but he actually chose to make it a TV show, because in his opinion it makes for good PR.
The idea to invite in Blumenthal and Channel 4's cameras had been discussed with Little Chef's private equity owner RCapital before Pegler's appointment, but he quickly backed the plan. "I'm a great believer in PR-ing the business. It is cheaper than advertising."
No Ian, it doesn't make for good PR when you call in a celebrity chef and know you're being watched by millions of viewers on TV and then slam the phone down because the consultant you hired is asking you for gross profit figures because he needs to know how much you have to play around with!

In fact, the whole show, well at least the first episode, looked like a disaster for Little Chef. Its as if a cheap chinese watch manufacturer had invited Rolex to design its next range of watches hoping it would turn its fortunes around. Its ridiculous. Like we studied in the MBA, the processes followed for low quantity-high variety products, like the food at the Fat Duck (£250 per head) and for high quantity but low variety products (Little Chef!) are pretty different. The first mistake Ian, as CEO of Little Chef, made was to invite one of the world's best chefs to design a menu that costs under £10 and is made by untrained cooks in a kitchen that has no pots (yes! no pots or pans!).

Add to that the cultural aspects that need to be so carefully managed - with Little Chef employees having worked there for 25-30 years and getting an external consultant who is not being given any assitance and who the employees (so far) see as being arrogant and unrealistic. Well, he probably is! Because Little Chef (again, so far), has not done much to educate him on company ways or their goals - or even their current financial status for that matter!

Ian Pegler seems to have a simplistic view that getting a celebrity chef, having the menu redesigned, would give impetus to a company that would otherwise fail. Well, I doubt that his simplistic view of corporate strategy will get the company anywhere. In fact, I'm surprised that the invested companies actually agreed to that. Private Equity, I thought, liked to keep things quiet and in this case, it has the CEO of the company slamming the phone down on national TV!

Anyway, can't wait to see the second episode. Its going to be a challenging individual journey for Heston, but for Little Chef its going to be nothing short of a corporate disaster (regardless of how the TV show turns out, it will obviously end in euphoria because thats what god TV is all about).
Okay, just checked, tomorrow night at 9 PM on Channel 4. And you can probably catch today's show on 4OnDemand.

Oh and by the way, if you're heading off to Little Chef's website to see what they're about, don't bother, its obviously dealing with far more 'eaters' than it usually does!

Update: I love Flight and Partners privacy statement over here on their website. They're obviously firm believers!

4 Jan 2009

'Click' on BBC - Is it even a Technology program?

Tech Geek or Muppet?

Oh there are no two ways about it, I hate 'Click', even its name sucks! It used to be 'Click Online' and then they probably figured 'oh wait, we can also click on the PC can't we?', so they renamed it 'Click'. Its funny because in tech terms, the word click is usually used as a verb and not so much as a noun...so the name of this program sounds like there's something waiting to happen - and I guess that is the story of the show as well.

So when Click Online started off many years ago, its lead presenter was Stephen Cole, who before his lead role in 'CO', used to present news bulletins on BBC world. I think it was probably late 90s or early 2000s, the time of the tech boom and much excitement around the world about dot coms and the possibilities of the internet. So there we had Cole-man, with his white hair and extremely boring tech talk, telling us what it all meant for us. And this is the BBC's flagship technology program - pathetic!

Tech talk on Click is so basic, worn out, bored and even at times quite dated, that it completely bores the hell out of (nay, annoys the hell out of) a techie like me.

To make a pathetic show even worse, Stephen was replaced with Spencer Kelly, who in the BBC's own words, "studied computer science at Cambridge for three years, before realising that he had not understood any of it".

Right. It definitely shows because neither Spencer, nor any of his wannabe flashy geek co-presenters, know anything about technology. I don't understand it. The BBC does not dumb down Panorama or Horizon for amateur audiences - why then must it dumb down Click with presenters who are clearly not technologists but just a bunch of amateur star wars memorablia collectors?

According to the BBC: Kate Russell, a co-presenter and infinitely more annoying than anyone else on the show, "likes to tinker with her PC, is still hooked on video games and is currently teaching herself computer animation. Yes, that's right. She really is a geek."

Right. And here is proof that playing video games does not qualify someone to talk nonsense on a TV show. In today's program, she was reviewing a website, 'It works on Java, so you will need that function activated to get it working'.

No shit Kate. Where can I download this Java 'function' from? From java.com did you say?

The whole program's like a bunch of roadside mechanics talking about fuel cell engined cars. Its just impossible to understand. If the show was indeed meant for grandparents, why hide it under the tag line 'BBC's flagship technology program' - just admit that its not and never will be! And for heaven's sake, stop broadcasting this on BBC World.