Monthly Archives: June 2005

Books: The Innovator’s Dilemma

The Innovator's DilemmaThe Innovator's Dilemma is a great book by Clayton M. Christensen. The central theme of the book is that unless specific measures are taken, disruptive innovation causes highly successful businesses to fail. This is not because they are badly managed or are technically incompetent, but because they get pressurized by their existing customers and investors to not commit the resources to the innovation. The markets for disruptive innovation are emerging, low margin, unpredictable and can not contribute substantially to the bottom line of large companies. It also becomes a conflict of values problem for the current cash-cow products and the new innovation. The solution is to form a completely new organization with new management and values and let it grow and gradually shift focus to the new organization.

The book also gives good examples of Computer systems manufactures - mainframe to minicomputers to personal desktop systems, Printer manufacturers - Dot-Matrix vs Laser vs inkjet, Departmental stores to Discount stores.

A very good read.

Update: (2005/06/27) [Here is a link to IT conversation talk with Clayton Christensen]( "IT Conversations")

Anonymity on Internet

On the internet nobody knows you are a dog
On the internet nobody knows you are a dog
Unfortunately it's only true in cartoons! Basically you are leaving a surprisingly easy trail of the websites you visit. Visit Test anonymity if you want to find what web servers can know about you. A determined person can find out about the websites you browsed, what you did on each of them etc.

There are some commercial services like anonymizer that insert a random proxy between you and the destination web server. There are also a number of HTTP/Socks proxies that you can use. But then all of your traffic is subject to monitoring by these people.

Freenet project takes anonymity to other extreme and you can access content that you may not access otherwise, and also provides anti sensorship / banning features. But it has always been very slow, prone to protocol changes. (i.e. sites working the previous day do not work the next day because of release of new protocol and peer software).

Tor project takes another approach for this. The endpoints are still the same, but all your packets are routed using random combinations of tor routers. The routing technology is called onion routing where the encryption is only between hops in the route and none of the intermediate hops know either the contents of the packet or the sender. There is a provision for hidden services(any TCP protocol), which are not accessible from regular internet, which comes close to achieving what freenet does. I have been using tor for some time now and noticing some things:
* The performance is improving a great deal (as more and more tor nodes are commissioned, it will yield better performance)
* You can get routed through completely different continent, so going to google might open their german page (because they send you german page if they detect your IP address is from germany)
* This service might be easily abused by spammers who will definitely want to route spam through tor, child pornographer who can host "hidden services", illegal content downloaders. (Though I believe many tor nodes block SMTP and peer-to-peer traffic). I guess there is a price to be paid for "really free speech"

Books: The Automatic Millionaire

The Automatic Millionaire : A Powerful One-Step Plan to Live and Finish RichThe Automatic Millionaire (by David Bach) is a little book telling a simple and automatic formula to become a millionaire. It talks about saving money (by sacrificing costly lattes, cigarrettes etc. if needed), effects of compounding (really dumbs down the argument).

Here is a brief sumary of the book:
* Save at least a few dollars a day. ($5 saved every day and invested will become $948,611 in 40 years)
* Learn to pay yourself first.
* Make everything automatic (by setting up automatic payroll deductions, setting up 401k etc.) Plan for saving from 5-20 % of pretax income in a pretax account (401k/403b/IRA/Roth IRA). Maximize employee matching dollars.
* Set up "rainy day" fund, automate the process. Set aside the money for at least 3 months (upto 6-12 months) of all living expenses. Invest it money market/ savings bond.
* Buy a home and plan on repaying it early by methods like biweekly payments, extra principal payments each month.
* Become debt free - pay off all loans, credit cards, automobiles.
* Automatic tithing - set up regular donations to charity.