|Internet commerce has been around for over a decade and Thanksgiving sales have been around for many years. So, one would have figured that a technology company like Best Buy would be prepared to handle a little something called a pre-sale for its Silver Rewards member. Wrrrrrrrooooooooonggggggg. On Monday, November 19th, just days before Black Friday in the US, Best Buy had a special pre-sale event for its Silver Rewards members. These are loyal members of Best Buy who spend at least $2000/year. These are your high spending VIP customers who you really wanted to impress with a good experience so they would come back on Black Friday and shop some more. Unfortunately for Best Buy, this pre-sale turned out to be quite a disaster especially for customers like me who may not want to shop on their site or even deal with their phone lines.
Best Buy had been hyping this sale over the past week with a number of emails about the upcoming pre-sale. They even had a preview on Sunday. With all the preview traffic and email, they should have had an idea of the amount of traffic to expect. The sale kicked off exactly at 11 AM EST. Thanks to the preview, I knew that I wanted to get 3 DVD sets of the Big Bang Theory (yes, I am a geek). I quickly found the items and started adding them to my shopping cart. I must have added 2 items reltively quickly but by the time I got to the 3rd item, the site had slowed down to a crawl. This was all within the first 5 minutes of the pre-sale event starting. I tried to Checkout but the system hung for a while and returned back with an empty cart. Within about 10 minutes the site had crashed and I got the "We were expecting Snow but we got a Blizzard" screen. Awwww, so cute, if this were my child's website but this is Best Buy. You should not only be expecting a Blizzard, you should expect Superstorm Sandy and be prepared for that. Bestbuy.com went down faster than any of the the Kardashian sisters.
They had provided a Silver Member hotline so I decided to call that. After navigating through the phone tree, I was put in the queue only to be rudely disconnected. Seems like the Blizzard hit the phone lines too. I tried calling back but never made it. At this point, I checked Twitter and the FB page and realized that there were many irate customers like me. I tried loading the page every few minutes but kept running into the same "Blizzard" message. About an hour later, the site came back up to some extent but I had trouble adding to my cart. Eventually, I was able to add my 3 DVDs and started checking out when it hit another snag with their tax software. Fortunately, it allowed me to make the payment. It took me about 90 minutes to complete something that I should have been able to do in 5 minutes. I am still unsure the DVDs will arrive in the mail in the next two weeks.
Best Buy is one of the few businesses in the US that sells electronics and has a retail front. In the last few years, with Circuit City and Comp USA shutting down, Best Buy probably survives only because consumers do not have too many options to go to a store and purchase electronic items. They are having a hard time making profits and should do anything to avoid a black-eye or turn away loyal customers. In the age of Cloud Computing and Big Data, is it that hard for a technology company to figure out capacity? After all they have trends for the last so many years on their big sale days.
In the age of social media, they should take advantage and do any damage control, but unfortunately that did not happen either. There was no apology on the Best Buy Facebook page, there was no email from Best Buy and neither a tweet. Ironically, they were promoting Rihanna's new album aptly titled Unapologetic. The reality must be that the Marketing team that handles social media, probably reports to another part of the company and have no idea of this disaster.
They have three days to prepare for Black Friday. If they have the same issues, Black Friday may well turn in Red 2012. Now I understand why folks start camping out 4-5 days in advance, they just don't trust bestbuy.com. I still think they are morons but now perhaps give them some benefit of the doubt.
*On a somewhat funny and related note, there was a headline today that Best Buy provided Romney technology for his campaign. #Winning
Asian Paints is an Indian chemicals company headquartered in Mumbai, India. It manufactures a wide range of paints for decorative and industrial use. It is India's largest and Asia's third largest paint company, with a turnover of Rs 96.32 billion. It is also one of the largest paint companies in the world and operates in 17 countries. Besides Asian Paints, the group operates around the world through its subsidiaries Berger International Limited, Apco Coatings, SCIB Paints and Taubmans. Asian Paints was founded in 1942 and has over 5200 stores.
- At the heart of the new logo, is the ribbon which flows to create the lower case letters 'a' and 'p'
- The ribbon's design is meant to highlight the easy flow, smoothness, dynamism and possibility that their solutions and offerings will provide
- The ribbon has bright colours red, orange and purple giving it a nice contemporary feel
- The word 'asianpaints' with the 'p' shown with some dripping paint it still retained from the previous logo but unlike its predecessor, the term paints is in red not yellow
The new logo was unveiled by Soha Ali Khan. The Pataudi family has been associated with this brand for many years. The company also launched a branded home painting service called "Asian Paints Home Solutions". The launch makes no mention of any updates to Gattu, the impish boy who has been the mascot of the company. Gattu was designed by R.K. Laxman in 1954 (good to know for any trivia contest).
Growing up in India, whenever we painted our flat, Asian Paints was the paint of choice so the brand and Gattu will always remain in my mind. Its nice to see that the company is emphasising that a good brand matters and are investing in it.
Asian Paints Logo - until 2012
Gattu - Asian Paints Mascot
The new school year has just begun in the US and with a few weeks gone by, its time for their first round of evaluations. As a parent of child from the Indian sub-continent, the question that is asked most often by other Desi parents is "How is your kid doing academically?". Its not about how your child is doing overall, its mostly about the academic aspect. I fortunately, have been blessed with a child who demonstrates intelligence at a slightly higher level than most of the students in his school and attends some extra classes called the "Challenge Program". When other parents find that out, their first question is "Will you get him tested and pushed to a higher grade?". My reaction always has been and will continue to be a BIG No!.
As someone from the Indian subcontinent, I have found that a large number of my friends and colleagues have falsified birth certificates just so that they could attend school early. I never made much of it but now I wonder Why? What is the mad rush to get your child into school early? Should education be treated as a race? Is it really about intellectual maturity or is there more we should consider before pushing our child to a higher grade? All the questions spin in my head.
If you are parent, you would have realized that a child will change tremendously over the course of 1 year, especially at younger age. A child at 4 is much more mature than at 3 and even when they hit their teens, the maturity year over year is noticable. In my opinion, a child's maturity needs to be considered in the following 3 areas.
- Physical Maturity - Physical maturity among young kids changes a lot over the period of 1 year. At age 4 and 5, kids learn to write, kick and throw a ball, swing a bat. Within the period of 1 year, you will see significant improvements in their physical ability. Kids will be bigger and stronger in the space of 1 year. According to the US CDC growth chart, an average boy will grow about 2 inches taller and 4 lbs heavier between the ages of 4 and 5. Why then would you want to push your child to a higher grade with kids that are physically more mature?
- Emotional Maturity - Similar to physical maturity is emotional maturity. A child will show great improvement in their emotional maturity in the space of 1 year. A child at age 4 is more attached to their parents, tends to cry more for small reasons, has a hard time separating from their parents. As they reach age 5 & 6, the emotional maturity is much higher. Another aspect of emotional maturity is their ability to think before they act. Younger kids are typically more impulsive and do not have an understanding of their actions. Why then would you want to send your child early to school, when its unlikely they can adjust emotionally?
- Intellectual Maturity - Last but not the least, the child must demonstrate intellectual maturity. Your child may be a prodigy in one or more areas, perhaps its reading, mathematics or something else. One needs to evaluate if the child is performing at a level higher than just their peers or performing at a level of the next grade. Keeping in mind that there are other kids in the higher grade that also have above average intelligence, your child could fit in the average group for that class. Would you like your child to be average in a higher grade or above average in his or her grade?
If you child is perhaps above average in their class, they may end up being just average in the next grade. In the long run, this may impact the child negatively. They could have been at the front of the pack in their assigned grade but may end of being in the middle of the pack in the grade above. If your child is showing higher levels of maturity in all the areas above and you truly believe that the child needs to move to a higher grade then you should speak to your school.
I am sure many parents may disagree with my views and thats fine. I do see value in pushing the child and driving that sense of competition. I have seen him push himself harder when he does activities (swimming in his case) with bigger kids but I also see him feel a bit down about it when he is unable to compete. He does go through ups and downs but its only in his swim school. I would much rather he undergoes those emotions in a controlled environment for a limited time during the week than to go through it every day at school. The worst thing I would want to ever hear from him is "I hate going to school".
With every passing year, I see so much growth in all levels of maturity in my child that I would never consider pushing him to a higher grade. While he demonstrates a higher intellectual maturity and could perhaps do well in a higher grade, he is very much on average in his physical and emotional maturity. At the end of the day, he is just a regular 6 year old. This reminds me of something someone said to me that always rings true - Learning is a Journey, Not a Race. My journey was slowing down but now that I have a little partner with me, I am back on that journey. Sometimes its down the same old roads, sometimes its down new roads but the journey still remains gratifying. Hope this journey never ends.
Growing up in India, Uruguay was a only country that we would come across during the World Cup and in World Cup related discussions. I never ever imagined that some day I would visit this little country in South America. For those who don't know where Uruguay is, its located on the Eastern coast of South America, just south of Brazil and north east of Argentina.
I had a weekend to spend in Montevideo, the country's capital, and I decided to visit some of the historical landmarks in the city. Montevideo is located on the Rio Del La Plata and has a very long and beautiful coastline. As I was driving through the city, I noticed a stretch of the coast line was named "Rambla Mahatma Gandhi". For a moment, I was in disbelief as to why this place had an "MG Road". It was late in the day and I decided to return to MG Road on the next day, which was a Sunday morning.
I woke up, had my breakfast, wore my Mahatma Gandhi T-shirt (which I happened to take on the trip) and asked the cab driver to drop me off at Rambla Mahatma Gandhi. I decided to take a walk from one end of MG Road to the other which was about 1-2 kilometers long.
Rambla Mahatma Gandhi hugs the coast of the River Plate and is very picturesque. Parts of the Rambla have beaches with people sun-bathing, playing volleyball and of course, futbol. There is a beautiful paved road where folks are exercising, walking their dogs or sitting an sipping Mate (local tea). It was a beautiful autumn day with mild temperatures and I took my time to soak in the glory of walking on MG Road. I have walked on a few MG Roads in my life but somehow felt proud walking on this one.
Halfway down the Rambla, I found a beautiful statue of Mahatma Gandi and it was an amazing feeling. I stood there in amazement thinking that this man from my country had some impact on a country this far away from India. I took a few pictures and asked a gentleman to take a couple of pictures of me with the statue. I am not the patriotic kind but it was just a wonderful feeling that is hard to put into words (getting goose-pimples as I write this).
I returned to the hotel later that day but never figured out why the statue and road was named after Mahatma Gandhi. Parts of the coastline of Montevideo are named after countries like Peru and Argentina, leaders like Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt and other famous people like Charles De Gaulle and Thomas Edison. Later that day, I also found a Nehru St on the map but did not get a chance to visit it. Perhaps, if life takes me down there, I will make a visit to see it.
Other Indian things I found in Montevideo, Maruti 800s, 1 restaurant selling samosas and a TCS office (and no I do not work for TCS)
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a professional American football team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1933, the Steelers are the oldest franchise in the AFC. Pittsburgh has won more Super Bowl titles (six), won more AFC Championship Games (eight) and played in (fifteen) and hosted more (eleven) conference championship games than any other AFC or NFC team. The Steelers won their most recent championship, Super Bowl XLIII, on February 1, 2009. Have you ever wondered what their logo stood for?
The Pittsburgh Steelers were not always the Steelers, they were originally called the Pittsburgh Pirates by the founder Arthur (Art) Joseph Rooney. In 1933, fans were encouraged to send their suggestions to the team and several nominated the winning name Steelers, after steel, which was the main source of employment in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is also referred to as the Steel City.
The logo was born in 1962 when the Republic Steel of Cleveland approached the Steelers and suggested that they consider the Steelmark, the insignia used by the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), as a helmet logo to honor Pittsburgh's steel heritage. The Steelmark logo, a circle enclosing three diamonds with inward-curving edges (see image on left) and the word 'Steel', was created by U.S. Steel Corp to educate consumers about the importance of steel in their daily lives.
Microsoft Corporation is an American multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, United States that develops, manufactures, licenses and supports a wide range of products and services related to computing. The company was founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen on April 4, 1975. Microsoft is the world's largest software maker measured by revenues. It is also one of the world's most valuable companies.
In Aug 2012, Microsoft unveiled its updated logo (shown above) which is essenially a simplified version of the Windows logo. The Windows logo had the four colors, Blue, Orange, Green and Yellow in the form of a wave. However with the Microsoft logo, they are simple square blocks. In addition, the Microsoft font is no longer italicized but a simpler lighter type font. The font is the Segoe font, which is a font that Microsoft had created and uses in its products and marketing materials for many years. The font apparently figures prominently in the new Windows 8 interface as well. The one element that they have retained from the previous logo is the connection between the letters 'f' and 't'.
Overall, since we have seen the Windows logo for so many years, its hardly a noticable change and perhaps some readers may even wonder, "Isn't that how the logo was in the first place?". The company is at an important point in their history with the launch of Windows 8. Hopefully the product is a much bigger success than this logo.