Life @ Microsoft, with a twi$t

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Here is a funny little take on life at Microsoft.

http://on10.net/blogs/tina/Life-At-Microsoft/

I think I liked it much better than so many of those self important life @ google videos where googlers claim they are gods and live in heaven.

Microsoft may be one of the most hated company by technologists, but I, for one, have been a Microsoft fan. My introduction to computer was with stuff that was all developed by Microsoft. If it were for only Apple, I would have never been able to touch a computer (not so any more though) in the first place. And if it were for linux (or any OS with characters [u|i] n i x in any order), I would never have dared to touch a computer.

PS: Don't let this post convince you that I don't like google because of the comments above. Its because of google that I have a job, not because I work for google but because google works for me ;-)

ted.com

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If you haven't visited this wonderful website yet, please do so now if you like to hear great people talk about ideas. I chanced upon it a year back or so with this video, and then on I just keep looking stuff on and off whenever I feel like.
http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/129

The great thing about the talks is that most of them end within 20 minutes barring a few exceptions which are still less than 30 minutes. If you are a first time visitor and you find the number of talks overwhelming, here is an easy way to get initiated. You can search by talks, themes, speakers; I guess, that isn't actually a lot of help. So here you go further, you can search by - rated most "inspiring", "funny" and so on to get the cream first and then move on to other stuff if you like.

Here is another one (which I thought is quite interesting) to end this post.
http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/199

A disturbing trend

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For last few months I have noticed a trend; a rather disturbing one. A lot of my batch mates are getting married and quite a few juniors too. Well, that's not exactly the disturbing part. In fact, in a way it is also disturbing, because it reminds me of the fact that I have grown quite old. However, that is not the point of this blog.

All the guys after getting married will start posting pictures of them honeymooning in all sorts of places. And then you can see their pictures in all sorts of romantic poses on their orkut albums. This wouldn't have been disturbing at all, only if I had not known those guys. All these guys used to be rather cynical and unemotional. Romance and sentiments were the last thing they would have mentioned when talking about girls (barring a tiny fraction of them who were exceptions of course). There was no place for mushy talk. There were very few times when it was considered permissible and that was never before half dozen pegs had gone down your throat. The fact that the girls to boys ratio in my college was rather abysmal (it was on the wrong side of 10%), further helped the trend.

Looking at all those poses now, suddenly it seems all my friends who used to be angry, stern and non emotional like Nana Patekar of Prahar have turned into Sharukh khan of, well, take any of his films barring a few non-romantic ones.

As much as I would like to mourn the loss of my cynical friends the way I knew them; I am happy that they didn't remain the way they were back then :-).

Here is wishing all you guys marital bliss and a great life of togetherness ahead.

Buffett, Compounding and The Rule of 72

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"The most powerful force in the universe is compound interest"

This is allegedly a statement made by Albert Einstein. Many people argue if those were the exact words, but almost all agree that he said something to that effect. However, there shouldn't be an iota of doubt in anyone's mind about the truth in what is being said.

Warren Buffett and Peter Lynch, two legendary money makers, who made tons of money without making stuff, but by making deals/decisions; both of them have emphasized the power of compounding in their businesses and are reaping the benefits. It would be way too naive to say that compounding was the biggest reason of their success; however, it would be fair to say it had a crucial role to play.

Buffett owned his first stock at the age of 11, but says,
"I don't know why I wasted time before that stock…I got started late."

For quite some time I used to think this statement as plain rhetoric, but now having read a book about his investment philosophy I realise how serious he was and I have no doubt in my mind that he truly believed what he said.

Investing is a complex thing, and it involves among lot other things, the risk of losing your capital. But there are many investment vehicles (like PPF) that are safe and most of us invest in them, but generally that happens after gaining some financial wisdom but losing a considerable amount of time in the process. For all of us, all we had [have to, if you are still young :-)] to do was [is] invest early and forget.

To give an idea, 1 Lac invested at a rate of 12% for 30 years will become approximately 30 lacs. If you are lucky and could earn a 20%, that would be 2.4 crores!

If you think these numbers are high, think again. Historically, Sensex has returned more than 18% to date.

Here is a sheet that shows the results of compounding a sum of money at a certain rate for certain years. Have a look and you will realize that over a long period, how money transforms itself. The sheet contains three tabs:
1. SIP - calculations for a systematic investment plan (for fixed rate of interest)
2. Summary Amounts - compounded amounts for a principal, rate of interest, duration.
3. Summary of growth - growth of money as a factor of the principal amount.

The intensity of Buffett's love for compounding can only be matched by his hate for taxes. He considers tax to be one of the biggest holes in your pocket. Not surprisingly, he tries every trick in the book to save tax. There was a news story about him paying less tax than his secretary (in terms of %). He was taxed at 17% while his secretary paid @ 30%. http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/money/tax/article1996735.ece

He considers the money lost in tax to be a double loss because not only you lose some of your earnings, you lose the amount you could have made using it. If a company is doing well, he would prefer the company to not pay a dividend and keep growing.

Before I close this post, here is a 'nifty' tip for your compound interest calculations.

The Rule 0f 72:
The number of years you need to double your money = 72/ (rate of interest in %). For mathematically inclined, here is how/why it works. http://www.moneychimp.com/features/rule72_why.htm

Link to the excel sheet for compound interest and SIP calculations