Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Project 4 Speech at Toastmasters - How to say it

Project 4 speech is considered as a very important milestone in Toast Masters's communication track, in fact many people believe this should be taken as the first sign, of one being serious about achieving his or her Competent Communicator goal. So following that trend, I recently delivered my Project 4 speech at Orators, the Toast Master club that I am part of. I am not going to list down the speech objectives, as they have been described at length, quite beautifully in Toast Master Competent Communicator manuals. The speech text follows

Kirr..Thuck..Kirrrrr..Thuck..KirrrrrrrrrrrrrrR..Haan haan haah. When I woke up, I realized it was not my mobile's alarm, but the doorbell, which was ringing; ringing out loud; loud enough to wake up even the dead. I got down from my bed, started walking with my legs as heavy as those of an elephant. I reached the main-gate while still rubbing my eyes. Kya SaaB, Etna Der Se Baja Raha Hai , Bhains kee mafik so raha tha Kya (I am knocking for a long time, but you were sleeping like a buffallo. I saw my maid thundering like a rocket (Dhech Kaun. Dhech Kaun.. taking evasive action..) I didn't say anything. As has been the norm set earlier, I only said Sorry, promised that from next day onwards, she will not have to complain about anything and let her enter my house.

Fellow toastmasters and guest, right then I suddenly saw something, which had the potential of setting the tone for rest of the day, may be even rest of my life. As I stood in my balcony, I saw two young girls making their way towards my house, one as gorgeous as a greek goddess and other as ugly as a wicked vamp frequently seen in 70’s-80’s bollywood movies. I have understood physics, Einstein’s relativity theory, maths, numbers; how infinity plus infinity equals infinity, I have even understood how India TV shows live ghosts talking to its journalists. (l have even figured out how Amitabh Bachchan starts his day using Big Babool tooth-pase, apply Boro Plus on his face, consume Dabur Chyawanprash, get dressed in a Reid and Taylor suite and drive down a Ferrari and end his day with a blog on BigAdda : I had to skip it, because of time-constraint). But I have failed; failed miserably in understanding why a good-looking girl is almost always accompanied with an equally bad-looking one. (Optional : Describe their clothing, their jewellery, nail-polish etc to create picture … : Again skipped due to time-crunch), a classic case of Rakhi Sawant giving company to an Aishwarya Rai.

But I was not distracted, my eyes were firmly fixed on my target that is the good-looking one, very much like an eagle eyeing its prey. I waited anxiously with bated breath for their arrival. When they were at a stone’s throw way, I got excited. But those high hopes were soon to be left high and dry. When they came close enough, I heard a word; an unforgettable word which was not to be forgotten for the rest of my life. Uncle !! Uncle !! 

I looked around, but could not spot anybody. I was convinced that these ladies had inadvertently called me Uncle, One single word “Uncle” poured gallons of cold water onto all my dreams, I was shattered, my world came crashing down into heaps. Dejected, disgusted, and devastated, I slammed the door behind and made a quiet exit from the scene. It was time to introspect. I got up and looked into the mirror. I discovered that the Y and Z co-ordinates for my body were becoming more prominent than my X-coordinates. I said to myself “This is not the end of world”. I decided to loose weight and look as macho as Hrithik Roshan, as muscular as The Great Khali. But I didn’t know where to start ?? As I was making up my mind, suddenly I noticed a gentleman, as thin as a toothpick, driving an auto in-front of my house. At the back of his auto, I saw a huge poster of Arnold proudly flashing his over-toned biceps and bulging muscles. At the right hand corner, a mobile number was listed along with a tall claim “Build a dream body in 2 week’s time”, I memorized the number and hurriedly wrote it down on a piece of paper at a speed, reminiscent of the promptness, Digvijay Singh shows in issuing controversial statements.

I called up the number, enrolled myself with a subscription costing way more than my salary. But help came from unexpected corners, HSBC, ICICI, HDFC I had plastic cards, not one, not two but a whole bunch of them. I also bought a treadmill for my morning jog and a couple of dumb-bells for my biceps, non-existent by the way. But, I over-estimated my own capabilities, like most of us do, when putting your alarm-clock before going to bed. I was my usual self, lazy, lethargic, laid-back and hardly used any of these equipments. After a week, I noticed my maid doing innovative things with these equipments. She had a perennial complain w,r,t a cloth-hanger, she finally found one in my treadmill. She used to crib about non-availability of mixer-and-grinder. She used my unused dumb-bells for that. I was glad that if not me, at least these equipments are being put to good use by maid and in-fact have made her happy.

But honeymoon doesn’t last forever, do they ?? The worst was about to come. I started receiving numerous calls and messages from the Retail Store reminding me of the balance payment due on my last purchase. When I skipped my credit-card payment, banks didn’t leave any stone unturned in announcing me as a defaulter, a fugitive and letting me know, that I am far more dangerous than a dreaded gangster like Dawood Imbrahim and more corrupt than even A.Raja. After multiple default on my payments, the recovery-agents thronged my house. I had a live-demo of Judo-Karate and Marshal-Art at my house, as I received a royal thrashing from them. I landed in a government hospital, thanks to my roommate. Battered, bruised and injured, I always thought about my dream, a sweat dream, that had just turned into a horrible nightmare ; a nightmare, which haunts me even today. When I got discharged from hospital, I was barely recognizable, as I had lost almost half of my body weight. I had finally achieved my goal, that of loosing weight, albeit via an unconventional path; not by 5 KG, not by 10Kg, but a full 50%. It was like getting a 50% discount, when we go shopping at Big Bazaar.

My journey towards a lighter, thinner version of myself, had finally come to an end. But with so many twists and turns, it couldn’t have been more eventful and exciting. Over to you, ToastMaster.

PS: It was again a cooked up story, but was liked by all fellow Toast Master members and my evaluators alike. In fact, I was one of the very few members in our Orators club, to have cleared Project 4 speech on their first attempt :-)

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Guest Blogger on BlogDefined.Com

About a year back, I started searching for opportunities to do Guest Blogging on other blogs. The first one (and so far the last one :-) that I tried my hands on was BlogDefined.com. It is owned by a full-time blogger Pankaj Gupta,who is a known expert in the field of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) and is currently based out of Bangalore. I wrote a total of 9 blogs for BlogDefined.com of which 3 were related to Cricket, so not really relevant today. However, there were other good posts about Blogging, Social Media, Smart phone specifications, which were liked by BlogDefined.com's readers, as reflected by the number of comments, they attracted.

Technology/Blogging/Social Media/Smart Phone/E-Commerce

1. How To Enable Logging into Facebook Account Using Gmail Yahoo MySpace


This blog post talks about a way on how to enable logging into your Facebook account using your Gmail, Yahoo or MySpace credentials.

2. Motorola Quench XT5 PC Suite Specifications Review Features Price


This blog post gives a product-review of (then newly) Motorola Quench XT5 Handset.

3. How To Add Share It Social Networking Buttons To All Your Blog Posts


This blog post talks about an inbuilt facility inside Blogger to provide a "Share it Social Networking Button" on your blogger blogs.

4. Lava A10 Mobile Phone PC Suite Specifications Review Features Price

This blog post gives a product-review of (then newly) launched Lava A10 Handset.

5. Introducing Like-Dislike Option In All Your Blog Posts

This blog post talks about an inbuilt facility inside Blogger to provide an equivalent of “Like-Dislike” feature of Facebook onto your Blogger blogs.

6. Best Sites Portals For Ordering Buying Books Online

This blog post talks about all websites, which offer online purchase of books, brand new books as well as second hand books.


1. Pakistan New Zealand Test Series ODI T20 Schedule Results Match Summary


2. Indian Premier League 2011 IPL 4 Players Auction Latest Update & News


3. Pakistan South Africa Test Series 2010 Schedule Results Match Summary

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Thanda Matlab CocaCola :-)

Well, It has been a while, since I last wrote a blog. But then, there are far too many things happening on personal and professional front, so as to keep be too occupied to find time for my writings.

Recently during one of Toast Master Sessions, the table-topic that I choose to speak on was the famous Coca Cola tagline: Thandha Matlab Coca Cola. I tried recollecting my thoughts and came across a nice anecdote from my childhood days, which made for an interesting speech (at least, judging my audience's response), as it resulted into me being duly rewarded with "Best Table Topic Speaker" award at the end of the session. Unlike Toast Master Table Topics, where I am constrained by a 2 minute duration for my speech (plus or minus 30 seconds grace period), there is no such restriction imposed on my writings, as far as my blog is concerned :-). After all, this is my blog-space, is not it ;-)

Every time, I hear this catch-phrase "Thanda matlab Coca Cola", I can't help but go back to my school days, busy doing my utmost preparation, so that I could be go as part of a "Baraat Party". One of my cousin was getting married and he happened to be married to a girl from a somewhat rich family. When we reached bride's place, we were served with cold-drinks, not in bottles or cans, but in plastic glasses (also called "Piyo Pheko" glasses in rural lingo). As far as my memory goes, this was (probably) my first encounter with Soft Drinks. In all the marriages, attended before, we used to be served with Sugar (at times saccharin too, if situation demanded aggressive cost-cutting :-)) based "Sarbat", laced with tinge of Rasna (Remember the catch line from 90's : "I Love You Rasna"). So when I was served with a glass bearing a black colour, full of Coca Cola, looking different from all the previous Sarbat-Offering, I was little apprehensive about tasting it. But I had no choice, so I just accepted it gracefully, held it in my right hand, pretended to drink it and started watching others as to what they were planning to do or already doing with their glasses.

In one corner, we had our grand father, sitting and chatting with his cousins and friends(in the same age group). The conversation was somewhat typical to people from old generations, which went like this

Sushil   : What is this black coloured substance, they have served to us. Does any of you have any idea as to what this could be ??
Falgu    : No clue, I have attended enough marriages in my lifetime, but never seen anything like this. Must be something specific to towns and cities, as I don't remember coming across anything of this sort before in villages.  
Grand Pa (patting his falling forehead with his right hand) : I feel sorry for this younger generation. They are going no where (with a voice filled with sorrow). Look, what they have done. They started serving liquors openly during marriages. Even in our times, we used to have it served, but only to a selected few individuals and that too under the table. But, sadly times have changed. Those were the golden old days !!

Without they realizing it, I was eavesdropping on their conversation. In my school books and elsewhere, I had read enough about liquor and evil effects of its consumption. So on hearing this, I almost felt happy and vindicated of sorts, that I had not touched and tasted the so-called wine-glass

But then there were few hooligan-types, so called macho-men in brides' side, who were drinking coca-cola in big-gulps and were even asking for more. When they saw the gang of my grand-father and few other oldies not even touching these soft-drinks, they went berserk. They started mocking and making fun of us, few of them even started hooting us (it is almost fashionable for people from bride's side to be making fun/mockery of people on groom's side. In general, it is kept within acceptable limits, but sometimes, it does tend to go a little overboard though). They were shouting at the top of their voice : Thanda Matlab Coca Cola..Thanda Matlab Coca Cola ..

I silently watched all this proceedings from side lines and thought to myself "Why are these people going mad over some gentlemen not touching these black-coloured offerings, which (in their opinion) could possibly be wine ??". For a moment, I thought that all these turbo-charged people were doing, what they were doing, under the influence of alchohol. But at the same time, I didn't want myself to be classified alongside these old orthodox people, so I decided to give cold-drinks an honest try. I took the first ship, but I could not swallow even a single drop of it. The moment, it crossed my throat, I felt like a burning train moving through my digestion-system. For a moment, I thought of throwing it, but then I was leaving myself up for abuse by these hooligans. So I gave it another try. To my surprise (and many others who were with me), I showed enough perseverance to try it second time and this time, I was able to swallow half of it. I was glad, that finally, I was taking it. But little did I realize, that was hardly the end of my troubles. From that point onwards, every time, I bulged, I could feel the Carbon Dioxide gas coming out of my nostrils and through my mouth, creating burning sensation in both the places. 

As I write this, I can still feel that chilling sensation running through my body, as I get nostalgic about those days. So when did you first had an encounter with soft-drinks ?? When was the first time, you actually tasted it and ended up finishing one or two glasses ??
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Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Great Battle Of Giants : Microsoft 365 against Google Apps

Microsoft has just launched its hosted productivity apps service, Office 365, which brings together Microsoft Office, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Lync Online. This suite has been targeted at small and midsize businesses, which represent nearly two-thirds of global job growth, but don't have the money to make big investments and complex IT Infrastructure.

This has direct competition from Google Apps, which has been around for nearly 4 years. Although, they may look like competitors, on closer examination, Office 365 and Google Apps turn out to be two different products. Office 365 is meant to be used with a desktop installed version of Office (preferably Office 2010), whereas Google Apps is 100 percent in the browser and doesn't require any desktop installation. So comparing them, as to which one is superior, sounds like comparing apples and oranges. However, there are certainly some differentiating factors, that will help organization, especially SMBs, make a choice, as to which cloud, they want to live with in future.

Here is a brief feature-wise pricing details for Google Apps and Office 365
  • Google Apps (free version) -- Gmail, Calendar, Docs and Sites. All with your domain name. Also other Google apps like Reader, Blogger, Picasa. Up to 10 accounts, 7GB limit each for Gmail, various other limits for other apps. You can buy more storage, though.
  • Google Apps for Business -- Everything in the free version plus 25GB limit on email. Google Video for Business and Google Groups for Business. BlackBerry and Microsoft Outlook Interoperability. SSO, forced SSL, custom password strength requirements. 99.9% uptime guarantee SLA and 24/7 support. $50 per user/per year or $5 per user/per month.
  • Google Apps non-profit -- same as Business deal, $30 per user/per year
  • Office 365 Plan P -- Email, calendar, contacts, personal archive, and 25 GB mailbox storage with 25 MB attachments. Online document viewing and basic editing capabilities with Office Web Apps. View files from mobile devices. SharePoint Online. Instant messaging, presence, online meetings, desktop sharing and PC-to-PC audio/video calls with Lync Online. Antivirus/antispam with Microsoft Forefront Online Protection for Exchange. Up to 50 users. $6 per user/per month
  • Office 365 midsize businesses and enterprises -- Plan P and a whole lot of other features$10-$27 per user/per month
Google Apps has ~ 3 million users, but Microsoft boast of ten times as many for Office web apps and as many as 750 million users worldwide, making use of its Desktop based Office Productivity Suite. So just going by sheer numbers make MS the clear-favorite in this great battle of giants. When it comes to pricing, Google Apps does score over Office 365, but the difference is somewhat minuscule (Google Apps for Business at $5 per user/per month or $50 per user/per year while $6 per user/per month Office 365 for Business) and not a significant one, so as to hand over Google Apps a major advantage over Office 365. So looks like the real contest is only between Google Apps Free Version and Office 365 Plan P. 

Office Apps is definitely a better option for individuals and organization seeking an elaborate, formal and polished face on communications. However, For organizations, where most of the work happen online, Google Apps seems like a reasonable choice. Office Apps is a better choice, where individuals have got used to using Office Productivity Suite and are not really comfortable moving data to the cloud.

Sources/Further Reading: 
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