A Fresh Start

It has been an extraordinarily long break from blogging. After six years of daily updates, I took a break last June-end, necessitated by a bout of influenza which left me bed-ridden for a couple weeks. Around the same time, work became very busy. Also, my son, Abhishek, (growing from 2 to 3 years) made sure that mornings and evenings were his time with me. And, I had just gotten bored of the format of one weekly Tech Talk series (which was becoming repetitive) and giving links to interesting articles. So, I stopped – hoping for a magical makeover and some inspiration! That never happened – until now.

This time around, I will blog more on what I think – rather than giving only the links. So, the posts will be less frequent, but hopefully more meaningful. I have also migrated the blog from MovableType to WordPress. All in all, time for a new beginning.

There’s lots to talk about, so let’s get started!

Will be back in September

Thanks for all your emails. I will re-start the blog in September. Meanwhile, take a look at the right panel on the blog and perhaps you will find something interesting in the archives! — Rajesh.

Blog Break

I will be taking a short blog break. Spent the past 5 days in bed with a severe viral infection. So, there’s a lot of work to catch up upon. Have also been thinking of doing some innovation on the blog itself…this break will help me think that through. Back soon!

Microsoft and Wireless

Ed Sim writes following Microsoft’s acquisition of Tellme:

I remember when I started in the VC world over 11 years ago, the question we always had to ask ourselves before we made an investment was “what is Microsoft doing or going to do?” As I reflect on the last decade, I never really did think that as an investor in software and the Internet that the question would become almost irrelevant and would change to “what is Google doing or going to do?” Given all of the discussion about Microsoft being dead, I must say that while they are still a distant third in the search space, they did make a brilliant move in acquiring TellMe. While most of the revenue does come from TellMe’s hosted speech applications for customer service, the big value in the long run will be Microsoft’s ability to incorporate TellMe’s mobile search and voice-driven search through the mobile handset. In other words, it seems that while Microsoft is not conceding to Google in search, that it does recognize that the mobile opportunity is potentially much larger and that this acquisition will clearly give it a big lead in the mobile space. Think about it – when you leave home, you grab your keys, wallet, and cell phone. The opportunity to reach and market to this third screen is huge and just in the first inning.

Free SMS Updates for Emergic

Mobile users in India can now get free updates via SMS on the blog posts that are done on Emergic. All you have to do is to send START EMERGIC to 676787. You will receive one SMS every morning after I update my blog with the titles of the posts. You can stop updates anytime by sending STOP EMERGIC to 676787. Hope you find this service useful!

Note: The only applicable charges are for the START and STOP messages – they are charged by the operator at premium SMS rates, which are typically Rs 2 or Rs 3. There is no charge for receiving the daily Emergic SMSes.

Here is a sample (today’s SMS):

1. Mobile Conf. Manifesto
2. Entrep. Learnings
3. Adobe’s Apollo
4. User-Gen Content
5. Forbes: Games
6. Blue Oceans + Black Swans

Three Years of Blogging

Three years ago on this day, I began blogging. Blogging is so part of my life that I cannot imagine not doing it! Much of what I wrote in last year’s series “Two Blog Years” still holds true. Look forward to another year of blogging, sharing ideas, reading your comments, and interacting with you.

Indian Express Mention

Join the Dots is a story in the Indian Express about Indian bloggers. It has a small excerpt about me:

[A self-contained, indulgent space] is the last thing one can call emergic.org, entrepreneur Rajesh Jains two-year-old web log on emerging tech, enterprises and markets.

Jain, founder of Indiaworld, the countrys first portal that was sold to Sify in 1999 for $115 million, prefers terse e-mail replies supplemented by appropriate links than one-on-one meetings. He says everything one needs to know about him or what he has to say about technology is there on the blog, real time. In fact, the blog is Jain, in HTML.

Today, I can imagine being without an email or a cellphone for a day, but not without blogging, says Jain, who blogs every morning for 30-40 minutes, with one column, and about 4 to 5 links with abstracts to other articles/blog posts.

The blog reflects his latest thinking, built on the minds of many others. The comments that I receive from many of the readers (and other bloggers) help in refining and getting the best from a community smarter than any single individual.

Well, regarding the “terse email replies supplanting one-to-one meeting” — Murali Menon, one of the two writers, caught me on an exceptionally busy four-day period and so I had to decline a meeting. Anyways, I have no real penchance for photos in newspapers and magazines! Email replies and links to things I have written about why I blog can work just as fine.

Overall, a nice story — hopefully, it will get more Indians to start blogging. And more importantly, sustain it over a period of time.

Pixar’s Pinnacle

Wired has a cover story on Pixar, Steve Jobs’ other company:

By any standards, Pixar Animation Studios has reached infinity and beyond. From 1995’s Toy Story – the world’s first all-CG feature – to last year’s Finding Nemo, Pixar’s five hermetically crafted movies have grossed a staggering $2.5 billion at the box office, making it the most successful film studio, picture for picture, of all time. “You have to take your hat off to them,” says Neil Braun, head of CG-animation company Vanguard and former president of the NBC Television Network. In the history of film, there’s just one precedent for this level of economic triumph, this ability to add to the American childhood’s beloved cast of characters: Disney Animation Studios.

Pixar hasn’t just turned into the new Disney. It has out-Disneyed Disney, becoming the apprentice that schooled the sorcerer. Pixar’s most talented animators grew up admiring Disney, worked at the sketching tables in Burbank, and went on to crib the company’s DNA. Pixar’s story development process as well as its internal lexicon – including sweatbox, when the director critiques individual animations, and plus-ing, heaping more and more good ideas on a structure that’s already working – come directly from the House That Mickey Built. Both companies are technical pioneers: Disney imbued 2-D cel animation with comedy and heartbreak; Pixar coaxed empathy from digital effects. Now the flipbook animation style that made the Magic Kingdom a powerhouse is fading to black: Disney’s Home on the Range, released in April, is the last fully 2-D production for the studio, and competitors like DreamWorks are retraining illustrators to be 3-D mouse jockeys. Pixar’s digital animation is the wave of the future.

As Disney did in its heyday, Pixar has created an assembly line of wonder: Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo. While the rest of the film industry depends on inherited properties from popular media (Mystic River, Starsky & Hutch, even The Passion of the Christ), each Pixar story is sui generis. “What Pixar is so great at is developing wholly original ideas,” says Chris Wedge, the director of 20th Century Fox’s Ice Age and next year’s Robots. “And it’s not just the idea – it’s the story, beat by beat, and the characters and relationships. That’s the real hard part.”