Monday, July 17, 2017

TED talk - How to grow fresh air indoors ?

Money plant that release abundant oxygen can be easily grown indoors .
How to grow fresh air indoors ?? What are the challenges offered by urban living as opposed to rural living. We find that we are living in more congested and constricted places indoors for more than 12 hours a day, forget about the sleeping time. 

This is an exciting TEDx talk (app. 4.5 min) on how some plants can help in aiding healthy indoor living. As more and more citizens move to densely populated cities, we need more of indoor plants giving out abundant oxygen, which is going to be an essential  requirement for healthy urban living in the coming centuries ..

Click here for the TED video on how to grow fresh air indoors ??

Here is a youtube video on how to grow money plant indoors ..


Friday, July 14, 2017

Sitting is the new smoking !!

Sitting for prolonged hours is dangerous ..
(Fro the internet, very useful message ..)

You may have heard the statement "Sitting is the New Smoking!" When I first heard this saying, I thought it was crazy. Sitting is NOT like smoking.
But recently, I looked more into it, and it completely changed my outlook on one aspect of health that most people neglect.

Here's the problem: we sit an average of 9 to 10 hours a day. So we sit more than we sleep. We sit more than we stand or do any activity. 

We sit in our cars. We sit to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We sit to work. We sit to watch TV. We sit at the movie theater. We sit at the dentist's office. We sit everywhere.

What's the problem with so much sitting?
You'll be surprised to hear that it's not really "back pain" or any such thing (although, that can happen too!). The problem with so much sitting is that our bodies were not meant for it. For millions of years, we were in constant movement for 10-12 hours a day. 
Switch that to sitting for 10 hours, and there's no amount of exercise you can do that can undo the damage. Even if, after your day at the office, you went to the gym for two hours, it wouldn't negate the damage done by sitting. 
That's what led Dr. James Levine to coin the phrase "Sitting is the New Smoking!" 
When you stand, your body works very differently than when you sit. Sitting for hours a day causes the following damage ...
1. Because blood flow slows down, you increase your risk of heart disease. 
2. Your insulin is negatively affected by just one day of sitting 10 hours a day. 
3. Sitting increases your risk of cancer, for reasons we're still speculating about 
4. Perhaps it's the antioxidant processes that are engaged when we are in movement. 
5. Sitting compresses your body, slowing down digesting, leading to cramps, heartburn, constipation and bloating.  
6. Brain function slows down when we sit  
7. Your brain gets less blood and oxygen. 
8. Because of the above, mood worsens.  
9. Posture gets worse, leading to strained neck and shoulders. 
10. Your entire body degenerates when you sit 10 hours a day  
11. Standing requires tensing of the abdominal muscles.  
12. Sitting leads to weak abs, leading to mobility issues. 
13. Varicose veins develop. 
14. Your bones get weaker.
One study found that you can increase your lifespan by two years by sitting down three hours or less a day.  Another study found that each hour spent watching TV after 25 reduces your life expectancy by 22 minutes.
On the other hand, each cigarette reduces your life expectancy by 11 minutes.

Hence… sitting is the new smoking! It kills you much faster than smoking !! Get moving your buttocks quick and fast !! 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Start small for a greener planet - reduce your Carbon footprints..

Ask oneself - Do I make conscious efforts to personally have a sustainable life style ?

Always stick to the 3Rs - Reduce, Reuse and Recycle 

These are a set of humble instructions in all the everyday actions in our life, which if followed by everyone will help make planet earth a more greener place to live..

1. Living and surroundings
a. make more use of natural lighting and wind circulation
b. keep surroundings clean
c. use more of cotton bags and less of polythene bags
d. always insist on less packaging for goods and food items
e. try to purchase more from kirana stores than from super markets
f. employ rainwater harvesting to preserve water
g. try to fast for at least half a day in a week or 2 days in a month
h. at source itself, try to segregate waste and prepare compost for organic waste
2. Food and drinks 

a. eat more of unprocessed and unpackaged food
b. eat less of meat, eggs, poultry and fish
c. eat more of locally available food, fruits, vegetables
d. use less of plastic bottles and packaged / processed drinks and water
3. Energy usage 
a. use energy efficient LED bulbs
b. maintain fans, pumps, motors etc regularly for efficient operation
c. switch off fans and lighting when not in use
d. switch off wi-fi routers and other electronic gadgets before one goes to sleep
4. Study / Games / Work environment

a. try to read and study in naturally lit and naturally ventilated rooms
b. try to use more of renewable energy sources like solar panels, wind turbines 
c. while organising sports or other events, be more green conscious
5. Transport 
a. make more use of public transport
b. try to walk more to your destination instead of taking automobile, it is very healthy too
c. if taking private transport, try to do more car-pooling
d. always insist on less storage and less transportation in the supply chain 
6. Socialising

a. go to clubs and entertainment centres near to home to avoid excess travel
b. network with social service NGO to take away excess food at special events

These are some simple steps one can take to make a sustainable world from our home or work environment. And if everyone on planet earth decides to do his bit for the environment, imagine how wonderful and peaceful this planet is going to be ..


Sunday, July 09, 2017

Sindhutai Sapkal from Pune ..

Some people come in our life as blessings, some come in as lessons - Mother Teresa
*Mother to 1400 orphans*, 70 year old Sindhutai Sapkal from Pune is doing great service to society, much more than what words can describe !! How tiny and selfish we are in comparison to this great Lady. 

Even to this day she does not depend on govt funding, but only on the he goodwill of kind hearted citizens.  

Her 80 year old abusive husband who drove her out on the roads when she was just 20, has repented and has come back to the family as her eldest son ..

Click here on the YouTube video  on the life of Sindhutai !!

Click here for a neat writeup from the betterindian site ..

George .. 

Thursday, July 06, 2017

How can companies make their transition to environmental sustainability smooth ?

Environmental Sustainability is a term detested by most of the industries and businesses in the world because it entails extra expenses, more regulations and extra headache. It challenges the status quo, profitability, competitiveness and even the survival of the organisation in the long run.

Everybody talks of going green, being sustainable and so on, but is there a strategic time-tested and proven method of carrying out sustainability transition in large and small organisations, that can make this transition less risky. This is one of the reasons why organisations detest to go green. But there are time tested strategies and illustrated in this paper of a research by a team led by late Prof. CK Prahlad and published in the Harvard Business Review. 

Sustainability has impact not only on the environment,
it has impact on the society and economy too.. 
While going through earlier issues of HBR (Sept 2009), I found that treating sustainability as a new frontier of innovation and creating great awareness of the future benefits through good communications was one way organisations could be made to transition to sustainability initiatives effectively.

In the research, Why sustainability is now the key driver of innovation, the authors have brought out five proactive steps, if adopted can make the sustainability and innovation journey of organisations quite productive and smooth. The five steps are mentioned here.

Step I - Viewing compliance as opportunity

Step II - Making value chains sustainable

Step III - Designing sustainable products and services

Step IV - Developing new Business Models

Step V - Creating next-practice platforms

In step I when we view compliance as an opportunity we tend to accept that sustainability is good for the society and the environment as a whole and change our mindsets and that of the society to take to environment preservation through sustainability initiatives as a top priority.

In step II, as the next step after recognising that sustainability is an inevitable activity, we need to follow it up not only with enforcing sustainability within only our organisations, but also sensitising our suppliers and supply chain partners to be more environmentally sensitive and to contribute to the well being of the environment.

In step III, having setup the supply chain to be environmentally conscious and sensitive, turn to getting advanced designs of one's own products and services which are environmentally sustainable, like electric cars, water less washing etc. 

In step IV, concentrate more on coming up with new business models like sustainable models of solar energy and wind energy generation, developing green buildings, adopting lean manufacturing across organisations etc..

In step V, creating next-practice platforms which have a radical look at conventional thinking and do away with many of the present day wasteful practices and customs can help design better revolutionary products that can not only serve human and societal needs but also come up with solutions that can take care of the environment and make it livable even for future generations. 

As much as it is important for organisations to have top-down commitment to foster sustainability measures, it is equally important for them to absorb and nurture the right quality workforce that respects and takes care of the environment and supports al sustainability initiatives of the organisation with full gusto and fervour.


Ref : 1. Nidumolu, Prahlad, Rangaswami, Why sustainability now is the key driver of Innovation, Harvard Business Review, Sept, 2009.

Friday, June 30, 2017

If and when Alphabet / Google fails ..

Larry Page
The reality of the present day metropolitan lifestyle - Alphabet/Google influences more than 50% of a metropolitan citizen's alert life .. With the vast spread of the tentacles of the Internet, the rest of the world catching up is not far away. Look at the scenario below ..

We are all very comfortable presently logging into Google and carrying out our daily chores of communication, knowledge gathering, blogging, Google maps, you tube videos, searching, video calling, using Android smartphone etc..

What will happen if one day Google hangs up and the founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin decide to call it a day and go on a loooooong holiday ? (they are already among the top ten richest people on planet earth now with personal wealth of almost $50 billion each)

The whole world is used to Google apps and innovative offerings for almost everything in their lives. A very tricky situation which we need to ponder about ..  The result is the Google effect -
1. no friendly discussion with colleagues and friends,
2. coccooning effect - people tend to be to themselves most of the time and
3. intellectual laziness - a laziness to understand things, you just need to know which sources to tap for the knowledge, not the knowledge by itself. 
Socrates in 475 BC bemoaned the practice of writing saying it would kill the practice of memorising. Similarly the development of the Gutenberg's printing press in the 15th century, brought many people to decry it saying it would also stop people from memorising. Over time, we have found that these developments instead of pulling us back, have only helped us to scale greater heights in societal development, economic upliftment, scientific growth and technological innovations.

Sergei Brin 
How can we insulate ourselves from the harmful effects of a Google shutdown ? Let me start with the Google effect. 

For example most of us Google site maximum for
1. Internet search
2. Gmail is our indispensable mailing client  
3. most important, Google Drive is also our precious online storage, stores all my class notes, case study manuscripts and final pdfs, academic writings and so on. 
4. It is an indispensable word processing client, most of us have chucked MS and its products for many years now.  
5. Google Blogger additionally serves as valuable teaching aid that supplements classroom teaching, reaching out to the "knowledge-thirsty" student community all over the world.  
6. Google News keeps us updated with events happening around the world and it updates us on a minute-by-minute basis.  
7. Google Maps helps us in Bengaluru to tide over the painstaking traffic by giving real time updates on the traffic conditions in Bangalore
The only two areas where Google has still not entered is in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and E-learning portals. In a world thirsting for knowledge, the earlier Google enters, the better it is for them - just my opinion !!

If Google decides to shut down, most of us are in for serious trouble, as are a good part of the world population !! If Google decides to withdraw its free offerings and charges, we may or may not go for it, that's a different issue. The fact is Google is not in this field of business just for money (like Microsoft..), as much as for their passion for innovation and enterprise ..

The greatest attraction of Google's parent company Alphabet, which has grown inorganically through over 200+ acquisitions over a 19 year period, is its passion to innovate. Google always has a surprise element in its offering and this brings in the needed novelty. Any person logging in anytime never gets bored and is attracted to its different offerings. It could also bring psychological states of addiction in some cases.

How Google Maps helps me tide over the unruly Bengaluru traffic ?

Google's secrets of Innovation .. Susan Wojcicki, earlier Google VP Advertising ...

Google surprises the world with its stream of innovative products ..

Google's innovation potential brought the Google LunarXprize challenge, which Team Indus from Bangalore is very confident of winning.  The prize money is $30 million ..

The problem I feel which could be a major threat is, what if somebody with a lot of money takes over Google ? What if the new owner of Google is not an enterprising, as innovative, as inventive, as open minded, as unorthodox, as unconventional, as inventive and as ingenious as Page and Brin ?

For the time being lets hope such an eventuality never happens !!
Maybe the Google effect will help us conquer some other dimensions of human intelligence which humanity is yet to conceive and comprehend !

Ref : 1. Ramaprasad, T, The Google Effect - Maybe good, maybe bad, The Hindu, April 2012. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A primer on Cryptocurrencies ...

Of late we are seeing the rising surge in use of virtual currency - cryptocurrencies and the issue of many Initial Crypto Offerings (ICO) in the market..

The most popular however happens to be Bitcoin and Ethereumn and some more .. We shall try to explain something about bitcoin, the most popular of them.  

Bitcoin uses peer-to-peer technology to operate with no central authority or banks; managing transactions and the issuing of bitcoins is carried out collectively by the network. Bitcoin is open-source; its design is public, nobody owns or controls Bitcoin and everyone can take part. Through many of its unique properties, Bitcoin allows exciting uses that could not be covered by any previous payment system.-

Value of bitcoins ...
Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency and a digital payment system invented by an unknown programmer, or a group of programmers, under the name Satoshi Nakamoto. It was released as open-source software in 2009.
The system is peer-to-peer, and transactions take place between users directly, without an intermediary. These transactions are verified by network nodes and recorded in a public distributed ledger called a blockchain. Since the system works without a central repository or single administrator, bitcoin is called the first decentralized digital currency.
Besides being created as a reward for mining, bitcoin can be exchanged for other currencies, products, and services in legal or black markets.
As of February 2015, over 100,000 merchants and vendors accepted bitcoin as payment. According to research produced by Cambridge University in 2017, there are 2.9 to 5.8 million unique users using a cryptocurrency wallet, most of them using bitcoin. -

Cryptocurrencies together around the world presently have a combined value of about $80 billion .. (click here for the Economist article ..)

What are the advantages of Cryptocurrencies ?

1. Limited nos of currency in circulation, issue of fake currency is totally removed with encryption and distributed database
2. Difficult to duplicate as it each transaction needs confirmation/authentication from a digital database - the blockchain
3. Just like shares, a cryptocurrency value can fluctuate as more people start using it and can be reliable form of currency
4. The volume of crytocurrencies in use also increase at a predetermined rate in such a way that the value does not skyrocket at any point of time and holds it within reasonable limits. Bitcoins which were issues at $.05 in 2008 are now valued at more than $2420 as of 24 May 2017.
5. It is a global currency, no central bank controls it. The distributed database (blockchain) of the coins and the great secrecy with which it is encrypted makes the database difficult to breach or hack.
6. It gives customers freedom to store their wealth in national currencies or digital currencies
7. As digital currencies escape national government regulations, it is a definite pointer to a unified global currency and unified global markets.
8. The extensive range of use and applications of the block chain concept and encrypted digital currencies can ensure stability in global financial markets in future.
9. More popular an encrypted digital currency, more will be its usage and more value will come out of it.
10. The innovative uses of cryptocurrencies and blockchain is limitless, it could even change the way we do business in future cutting across national boundaries.

The Challenges :
1. The transaction cost is now at $6 per transaction which could demotivate large transactional volume
2. Transaction times can be anywhere from 2-3 hours as databases on blockchain around the world have to be referred before finalising any transaction.
3. Big IT firms can have hold and control of future cryptocurrencies and they could attempt to throttle free enterprise and monopolise global economic transactions
4. Can it be used in the wrong way like for example to finance extortions or drug money transactions ?
The coming days will definitely see innovative uses and applications of the concepts of cryptocurrencies  and blockchain database across the world. Let us wait for more of it. 


TED talk - How to grow fresh air indoors ?

Money plant that release abundant oxygen can be easily grown indoors . How to grow fresh air indoors ?? What are the challenges offer...

My popular posts over the last month ..