The story of ENRON is like a Greek tragedy, that was doomed to be a disaster from the very onset. The tragedy brought on by the protagonists in this story on themselves had seeds in the actions they took while they were falling prey to their perpetual greed. The people like Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling who started out like heroes to the business world and investors, had become villains for thousands of American public including ENRON investors and employees. As corporate heads they might have made millions of dollars but somewhere along the line, the so called “smartest guys in the room” failed to follow the basics of business ethics and corporate governance. As leaders, when they should have put forward a corporate vision that incorporated some value system, all they ever talked about was earning more money. Following their lead, all the ENRON traders ever wanted to do was to keep bringing in more and more money, come what may. Mistakes were committed, to hide those mistakes, cheating was done, to hide one cheating another was done and so on, till it all came upon them crashing. Like a classic tragedy, all the people whether good or bad became contributers to the eventual downfall of a company that was once seen as the future of energy. It’s a classic case of corporate mis-governance, where all those who were supposed to be responsible institutions and businessmen, were blinded by the shine of freshly minted money. These big names included some of the biggest banks, America’s oldest accounting firm, Arthur Anderson, reputed stock analysts. All of them could see something was wrong, but none of them cared about anything as long as the money was pouring in. The people at the helm, that included Mr. Lay , Mr. Skilling and CFO Andy Fastow, who thought that they could control everything, eventually lost control to the thousands of traders they had trained like horses on the race course, with blinkers around their eyes they could only see what they were told to, i.e. “dollars”. They didn’t see what they were doing could lead the company to an abyss. They were exploiting all the loopholes in the rules and regulations.They were so irrational that they acted on their own will, knowing that their corporate heads were happy and good about everything as long as they earned money for the company. While traders were doing their job, their heads were using all the tricks in the accounting books to show fictional profits to keep their stock prices rising even when the company was in big debt. They were paying themselves big bonuses based on the fact that somehow profits will come from their false future projections. But, in fact they had been axing down the tree they had grown, while at the same time decorating it with false fruits that never seemed to wither away. However, there was only one problem….. The tree fell and the fruits were useless….
The day began with a frantic call from my friend who had to spend the whole night in the college lab because we had forgot to take the keys before deciding to stay up late in the lab. I was with him till 3 a.m. before I told him that it was his decision to stay, even after everyone had left the lab and so, I was going to go to the room and sleep now. After waking up I still had to decide whether I would be attending the Flag Hoisting ceremony in the campus or not. But then, I had a sudden breeze of patriotism blown, by one of the nationalistic fans that had been installed inside me while i was growing up in our highly patriotic nation, through me and I decided to attend it. While listening to the speakers at the event I got some food for thought when one of the speakers mentioned meeting some freedom fighters last year at some event. I wondered who the freedom fighters were and how many of such freedom fighters are there in every corner of India. While the speaker was using words such as great, e.t.c… I wondered how it would have been for these people back then when they must have been of our age. They were like us, ordinary people and many of them would have just have been a part of some rally somewhere. So, what made them great ? read more…
Basic Instinct…..the first thing that comes to our mind is Sharon Stone. But what are Basic Instincts for any life form! And how many basic instincts are there? I tried to find out the answer for the first question on search engines, asked few friends and got various answers. But all agree on one thing that all life form on earth, be it a bacteria or a complex cell form, be it an animal or a plant, a human or a beast, we all are controlled by self-preservation and urge for procreation.
Self preservation can be as simple as the urge to eat food to as complex activity as to form alliances for mutual benefits. In simpler terms, it’s our will to live, to protect ourselves and guard ourselves from getting hurt. As the complexities of organisms increase so does their self preservation activities. From a simple physical self preservation of plants and animals, to much more complex emotional self preservation of humans in addition to their physical self preservation, it can take different forms.
The second basic instinct is that of procreation. Simply put: reproduction. Each and every species on this planet is in a race to bring another of its kind into the world. This instinct is so legendary that I need not spend more bytes on it.
Almost each and everything we do is governed by these two basic instincts.
So, the answer to the second question, that asked how many basic instincts are there, could be two.
Hmmmm, two basic instincts…
but every other animal on this planet has these, so, what happened to us in the timeline, that made us grow into a super species.
Today we almost rule this planet. So, was there any third basic instinct that has lead us towards such complexties, as religion and science.
Its our instinct to seek answers.
The desire to know more.
Aima @ Spontaneous Abstractions
I‘m a sucker for a well-made TV ad.
Inspired by the Nike “Just Do It” and “Air Jordan” campaigns of decades past, I mentally mapped out storyboards of the spots I wanted to produce. Nowadays I laugh at clever beer and soda commercials and get mad or pump my fist in the air along with political ads.
I cheered for Apple’s 1997 “Think Different” spot that featured actor Richard Dreyfuss reading the “Here’s to the Crazy Ones” speech. The commercial resonated in a house full of Mac users at a time when Macs were widely considered an endangered species.
Apple’s more recent “Mac vs. PC” ads lampooning Microsoft strike a different chord: Macs are friendly, cool, easy to use, and they don’t have the kinds of problems usually associated with Microsoft’s Windows operating system; PC, portrayed by the hilarious John Hodgman, comes across as ridiculous – not unlike the real-world, buggy Windows Vista.
Now Microsoft is fighting back with its own advertising campaign. I’ve enjoyed some of its elements. The Seinfeld spots were weird. I was intrigued by some of the “I’m a PC” spots that aired last fall, depicting PC users engaged in a variety of jobs – teaching law, protecting endangered species, blogging for Barack Obama.
The message: You can use a Windows PC and still do cool and interesting things. Not bad. Then came the adorable little girls: Kylie, age 4, and Alexa, age 7, e-mailing pictures of fish and stitching together pictures of a fort into one. Microsoft, it seemed, had finally found its advertising voice.
Then came Lauren, the perky, red-haired twentysomething meant to represent an average American shopping for a computer. She wants a notebook with a 17-in. screen, and if she finds it for less than $1,000, she can keep it. Following her as she shops, we learn she considers the Mac too expensive – that she’s not “cool enough to be a Mac person,” she whines.
From the Apple store, it’s off to Best Buy, where she finds a PC that meets her specifications for $699. Mission accomplished, she jumps up and down clapping as though she won on The Price Is Right, ending the spot by saying “I’m a PC, and I got just what I wanted.” Aaaand Cut!
The price weapon
Microsoft used earlier ads to defend itself suitably against Apple’s nerdiness allegations. Now Microsoft is on the advertising offensive, wielding price as a weapon of choice. It’s an effective approach during a recession. But as is always the case with advertising, the full story is more nuanced.
Yes, $699 beats the $2,800 you’d pay for a Mac with a 17-in. screen. But when it comes to PCs, there’s still a great deal more to buy.
First, there’s security software. The PC in question comes with a 60-day trial Norton Internet Security 2009 from Symantec. After the trial runs out you’ll pay Symantec $50 a year to protect your PC (and up to two others in your home) from all the nasty viruses, worms, and other malware lurking on the Internet. That’s $150 over the three years Lauren is likely to hold on to her PC. No need for antivirus on the Mac.
Next, let’s say something goes wrong on the computer once the warranty expires and that it requires the intervention of a third party. Geek Squad will charge you $129 just for a diagnosis. A diagnosis from the Genius Bar in Apple’s retail stores? Free.
Then there’s iLife, the suite of multimedia tools that comes standard on the Mac. With iLife you can organise photos and home movies and turn them into watchable DVDs. Garageband helps you create your own music and another iLife element aids in Web site creation.
Extras cost extra
It’s hard to replicate that bundle if you’re a Windows user. The Hewlett-Packard machine in Lauren’s case does ship with discs for Muvee Reveal, a video-editing program that usually costs $80, and CyberLink DVD Suite, which runs $104.
But if she wants Adobe’s Photoshop Elements, including a membership in Photoshop.com Plus, she’ll need to shell out about $140. Sonic Solutions’ Roxio Creator 2009, which combines video-editing and DVD-creating tools, will cost another $100. And the closest equivalent to Garageband on Windows is Cubase Sequel and it goes for another $100.
Add it all up and it’s not hard to imagine Lauren’s $699 computer costing something closer to $1,500.
But that doesn’t include harder-to-quantify shortcomings. The HP’s battery lasts only 2.5 hours on a charge, compared with eight hours for the 17-in. MacBook Pro, which also happens to be 1.2 lb. lighter and boasts substantially better screen resolution: 1,920 pixels wide by 1,440 high, vs. 1,440 by 900 for the HP.
Even if Lauren doesn’t care about pixels and multimedia software, her machine still doesn’t measure up when it comes to overall consumer satisfaction. No less an authority than Consumer Reports rated Lauren’s computer fourth in a class of six with 17- to 18-in. displays. The MacBook Pro was tops, despite its higher price.
PC makers should focus more on quality
Usually silent on such things, Apple did give me a comment on the Microsoft ads. “A PC is no bargain when it doesn’t do what you want,” Apple spokesman Bill Evans says. “The one thing that both Apple and Microsoft can agree on is that everyone thinks the Mac is cool. With its great designs and advanced software, nothing matches it at any price.” Microsoft declined to comment.
Microsoft and its hardware partners wouldn’t have to make this case had they focused less in the past decade on driving prices down and more on quality. Forrester Research recently released results of a study of consumer experiences with computer companies, assessing their view of a machine’s usefulness, usability, and enjoyability. Apple ran the table in all three categories, well ahead of Gateway (now a unit of Acer), HP, and Dell.
PC makers in the Windows camp have done everything possible to make their products progressively worse by cutting corners to save pennies per unit and boost sales volume. There’s good reason Apple is seeing healthy profits while grabbing market share.
It refuses to budge on quality and so charges a higher price. Rather than running ads that seem clever at first but really aren’t, the Windows guys ought to take the hint and just build better computers.
Here are the top 10 things to know about Windows 7:
1 – Application compatibility
The Windows Vista operating system introduced architectural changes down to the kernel level that made the OS inherently more secure than Windows XP. However, this came at a cost; many applications needed modification to function properly in a Windows Vista environment. While at this point in the lifecycle of Windows Vista (post Service Pack 1) most applications are now compatible, deploying Windows Vista into the desktop environment early on required some “heavy lifting” and creative shimming—not to mention a few late nights.
Windows 7 is built on the same basic architecture as Windows Vista, so most applications will retain their compatibility between these operating systems. This alone will make adopting Windows 7 much less challenging than migrating from Windows XP to Windows Vista. If your organization is like many that are still standardized on Windows XP, you will need to transition to updated versions of your key applications, but the availability of Windows Vista–compatible versions and well-proven shims will make this task more manageable.
2 – Hardware compatibility and requirements
Much like the application compatibility issues, adopting Windows Vista early-on was a challenge because of the higher system requirements—such as RAM and graphics. On the flip side, Windows Vista provides manageability and security that just isn’t available on Windows XP, and with more capable hardware, Windows Vista is able to perform a number of useful functions that improve productivity (such as Windows Search 4 and the Windows Aero desktop experience) and increase PC responsiveness (the ReadyBoost technology launches applications more quickly by maintaining a portion of frequently used applications in memory).
Windows 7 was designed to perform well on the same hardware that runs Windows Vista well, while delivering additional performance and reliability improvements. The design team for Windows 7 had a specific focus on the fundamentals—as well as maintaining compatibility with existing applications and hardware. In operation, you will find that Windows 7 boots faster and has a smaller memory footprint than Windows Vista.
3 – Better Together with Windows Server 2008
One of the key benefits of the modern operating system is that Windows 7 and the Windows Server 2008 operating system share a common code base, and are maintained with a single servicing model. This servicing model means updates and security updates are shared across both client PCs and servers, simplifying the process of maintaining an up-to-date infrastructure.
In addition, environments with both Windows Server 2008 and Windows 7 unlock capabilities that extend functionality and help ensure a more secure environment. One example is DirectAccess, which allows management and updating of remote mobile PCs that are connected to the Internet, even when they are not connected to the corporate network. This capability helps ensure that remote users receive security patches on a timely basis, and allows IT to update configuration setting via Group Policy. For the end user, DirectAccess allows access to locations on the corporate network without using a virtual private network (VPN) connection. (In addition to Windows Server 2008 R2, DirectAccess requires IPSec and IPv6 implementation.)
4 – Extend data encryption to removable media
News reports are rife with stories about companies losing control over sensitive information. In some industries, this is an issue with grave legal implications, while in other situations the issue is inconvenience. Regardless, smart compliance policy dictates that sensitive information be safeguarded in the event of a lost or stolen laptop. Further, preventing sensitive information from being removed from corporate resources is a pillar of effective compliance management.
Windows 7 includes BitLocker technology, first implemented in Windows Vista, which now provides full encryption of all boot volumes on a PC; along with introducing BitLocker To Go that offers data protection on portable storage, such as USB flash drives. In addition, BitLocker Drive Encryption and BitLocker To Go can be managed via Group Policy, placing more control over sensitive information in the hands of the professionals.
5 – Control the application portfolio available to end users
Windows 7 features AppLocker, a new capability that allows IT administrators to specify which applications are permitted to run on a laptop or desktop PC. This capability helps you manage license compliance and control access to sensitive programs, but also importantly, it helps reduce the opportunity for malware to run on client PCs. AppLocker provides a powerful rule-based structure for specifying which applications can run, and includes “publisher rules” that keeps the rules intact though version updates.
To see how AppLocker is set up and managed, click here for a screencast demonstration.
6 – Automate routine tasks with powerful scripting
To help IT administrators better maintain a consistent environment and improve personal productivity, Windows 7 includes an updated graphical scripting editor, Windows PowerShell 2.0—a powerful, complete scripting language that supports branching, looping, functions, debugging, exception handling, and internationalization.
- PowerShell 2.0 has an intuitive, graphical user interface that helps make script generation easier, especially for administrators who are not comfortable in command-line environments.
- PowerShell 2.0 supports two types of remoting—fan-out, which delivers management scripts on a one-to-many basis, and one-to-one interactive remoting to support troubleshooting of a specific machine. You can also use the PowerShell Restricted Shell to limit commands and command parameters to system administrators, and to restrict scripts to those who have been granted rights.
- PowerShell 2.0, with the Group Policy Management Console (available as a separate download), allows IT professionals to use scripting to manage Group Policy Objects and to create or edit registry-based group policy settings in Windows 7. Similarly, you can use PowerShell to configure PCs more efficiently, using richer logon, logoff, startup, and shutdown scripts that are executed through Group Policy.
Click here to take a quick tour of PowerShell 2.0.
7 – Troubleshoot faster and more effectively
Windows 7 provides rich tools to identify and resolve technical issues, often by the end users themselves. If a help desk call is unavoidable, Windows 7 includes several features and troubleshooting tools to help speed resolution.
- The Problem Steps Recorder allows end users to reproduce and record their experience with an application failure, with each step recorded as a screen shot along with accompanying logs and software configuration data. A compressed file is then created that can be forwarded to support staff to help troubleshoot the problem.
- Windows 7 includes a suite of troubleshooting packs, collections of PowerShell scripts, and related information that can be executed remotely by IT professionals from the command line, and controlled on the enterprise basis through Group Policy Settings.
- Windows 7 also includes Unified Tracing to help identify and resolve network connectivity issues in a single tool. Unified Tracing collects event logs and captures packets across all layers of the networking stack, providing an integrated view into what’s happening in the Windows 7 networking stack and aiding analysis and problem resolution.
8 – Create, deploy, and manage images more efficiently
Windows 7 includes several tools to streamline the creation and servicing of the deployment image, and to get users up and running as quickly as possible.
The Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) tool in Windows 7 provides a central place to build and service Windows images offline. With DISM, you can perform many functions with one tool: mount and unmount system images; add, remove, and enumerate packages and drivers; enable or disable Windows features; configure international settings, and maintain an inventory of offline images that contain drivers, packages features, and software updates. Windows 7 also enables the same processes and tools to be used when managing virtual machine (VHD) and native file-based (WIM) image files.
Windows 7 also includes Dynamic Driver Provisioning, where device drivers are stored independent of the deployed image and can be injected dynamically based on the Plug and Play ID of the hardware, or as predetermined sets based on information contained in the basic input/output system (BIOS). Reducing the number of drivers on individual machines reduces the number of potential conflicts, ultimately minimizing setup time and improving the reliability of the PC.
When you are ready to deploy Windows 7, Multicast Multiple Stream Transfer enables servers to “broadcast” image data to multiple clients simultaneously, and to group clients with similar bandwidth capabilities into network streams to permit the fastest possible overall transfer rate while optimizing bandwidth utilization.
Watch a screen cast demonstration of the deployment tools for Windows 7 here.
9 – Easier migration of user data and profiles
Windows 7 includes enhancements to the User State Migration Tool (USMT), a command-line tool that you use to migrate operating system settings, files, and other user profile data from one PC to another. In Windows 7, USMT adds a hardlink migration feature for computer refresh scenarios, a capability that stores user data and settings in a common place on a drive, eliminating the need to “physically” move the files during a clean install.
10 – Improve user productivity in branch offices
Windows 7 introduces BranchCache, a technology that caches frequently accessed content from remote file and Web servers in the branch location, so users can access this information more quickly. The cache can be hosted centrally on a server in the branch location, or can be distributed across user PCs. One caveat: to take advantage of BranchCache, you will need to deploy Windows Server 2008 R2 on the related servers.
And, as a bonus:
Better support for client virtualization
Windows 7 delivers a richer experience when users are connected to a virtual desktop—much closer to the experience provides by a native Windows desktop. For example, Windows 7 provides multi-monitor support, bi-directional audio to enable Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and speech recognition applications, and access to local devices, such as printers.
Apple is recommending that Mac users install antivirus software.
But don’t read this as an admission that the Mac operating system is suddenly insecure. It’s more a recognition that Mac users are vulnerable to Web application exploits, which have replaced operating system vulnerabilities as the bigger threat to computer users.
On November 21 Apple updated a technical note on its Support Web site that says: “Apple encourages the widespread use of multiple antivirus utilities so that virus programmers have more than one application to circumvent, thus making the whole virus writing process more difficult.”
The item offers three software suggestions: Intego VirusBarrier X5 and Symantec Norton Anti-Virus 11 for Macintosh, both available from the Apple Online Store, and McAfee VirusScan for Mac.
Apple representatives did not respond to e-mails seeking comment on Monday, but did return a call on Tuesday. A spokesman said he would look into the matter.
Brian Krebs, who first reported on the Apple antivirus recommendation Monday in his Security Fix blog at The Washington Post, said an Apple store employee told him he didn’t need antivirus software when he purchased a MacBook three months ago.