Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sony Ericsson Free Laptop Scam

I am not sure who started it but this has already landed in my inbox a couple of times.

The official replay from Sony Ericsson.Com

Hoax Competition Email

28 May 2009

Sony Ericsson has been made aware of an online email campaign claiming that Ericsson will give away a free laptop computer to users who forward the promotional information. The same campaign includes a photograph of the Sony Ericsson logo and mentions an Ericsson contact name and email number.

Sony Ericsson confirms that this email campaign is a hoax. In addition, Sony Ericsson confirms that the Ericsson contact name does not exist.

All competitions and promotions involving Sony Ericsson are run through official channels such as Sony Ericsson’s website or Sony Ericsson’s partners’ websites. Please be wary of any competition or promotion that appears to come from outside of Sony Ericsson or Sony Ericsson’s partners official channels. Examples of these include via spam emails or SMS.

Please do not reply to or forward the email if you receive it.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Secret to longevity: fruits, green tea, red wine!

Want to know the secret to longevity? Just rev up your diet with fresh fruits, green tea, fish and red wine. 'Breast milk is responsible for higher IQ and leads to lesser chances of having diabetes, hypertension and asthma.

It has long term advantages even when the baby grows up into an adult and therefore ensures longevity,' says Dr Arun Soni, consultant at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital's Department of Neonatology.
'It is a complete food for babies. It is hygienic. It gives extra immunity to the body of the baby and protects them from illnesses,' he says.
Dr Seema Puri of Department of Nutrition at Institute of Home Economics says dietary adjustments may not only influence present health but may determine whether or not an individual will develop diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes much later in life.
Puri recommends a high intake of vegetables (particularly wild plants), fruits, nuts and cereals mostly in the form of sourdough bread rather than pasta, more olives and olive oil, less milk more cheese, more fish and less meat.
Consumption of specific foods like whole grains, vegetables and fruits, fish, green tea, red wine, soy, nuts and seeds, garlic and turmeric may also have a beneficial effect on health.

'Scientific evidence increasingly supports the view that alterations in the diet have strong effects both positive and negative on health throughout life,' she says.
Constituents like fibre and several phytochemicals in these foods bestow antioxidant, antimutagenic, anti- inflammatory, antibacterial and immuno-enhancing properties all contribute to lowered disease risk and hence increased longevity, experts say.
High fruit and vegetable consumption has been consistently associated with protection against muscular degeneration, visual loss, cataracts, respiratory disease, and breast, stomach and colorectal cancer.
Shashi Mathur, principal dietician at Ganga Ram hospital cites the Japanese saying they have the world's longest life expectancy, which has been attributed in part to their increased intake of fruit and fat and reduced intake of salty traditional dishes.
With the number of old in the world increasing due to better living conditions, scientists are renewing their research into what is essential for a long life.

Nutrition is coming to the fore as a major modifiable determinant of chronic disease and age-related decline. The process of determining the lifeline of an individual in fact begins right after birth with breast milk being touted as the best and complete food which provides an early immunity to the body.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Intel Illegally pays Sellers

EU antitrust regulators are expected to say this week that Intel Corp illegally paid computer makers to postpone or cancel the launch of products containing chips made by its main rival, sources familiar with the case said on Sunday.

The European Commission is set to decide on Wednesday to fine the world's largest chipmaker and order changes to its business practices for what the EU executive sees as "naked restrictions" to competition, the sources said. There was no indication of how big a fine might be levied. The largest fine levied by the EC for an abuse of market dominance was the 497 million euros ($655 million) demanded from Microsoft on March 24, 2004. The sources said the Brussels-based Commission is expected to rule that Intel committed two violations in which the firm abused its dominance of the market for central processing units, the chips at the heart of the world's 1 billion personal computers.

The EU executive will say Intel gave rebates to computer makers to restrict or eliminate the use of chips made by its rival, AMD, and provided other inducements to retailers to sell only machines with Intel CPUs. In its ruling the Commission will order Intel to end by a specific date those rebates which it deems to be illegal, the sources said. In its second finding, the Commission will say Intel paid PC makers to delay or scrap the launch of products containing AMD chips. The Commission will characterize the payments as "naked restrictions" to competition, the sources said. The Commission will state that the violations occurred during a period stretching back eight years, they said.

In committing the first violation, Intel set percentages of its own chips that it wanted PC makers to use, the sources said. For example, NEC Corp was told that 20 percent of its desktop and notebook machines could have AMD chips, the sources said. All Lenovo notebooks had to use Intel chips, as did relevant Dell products. The figure was 95 percent for Hewlett-Packard's business desktops, they said. European Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd said the commission had no comment. Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy, speaking by telephone from California also declined to comment. The EU executive charged Intel in 2007 over illegal rebates to computer makers.

In July last year, it charged the firm with paying retailers not to sell PCs using AMD chips. Intel has said repeatedly it has done nothing wrong.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Outsourcing Vs Obama

While American companies are up in arms about U.S. President Barack Obama’s new tax plans, Indian companies are just plain confused.

Take, for instance, his fixation on Bangalore. Talking about the old tax code which he intends to reform, On May 4, Obama described it as one “that says you should pay lower taxes if you create a job in Bangalore, India, than if you create one in Buffalo, New York.” (For more, see this story from India’s Economic Times, a BusinessWeek content partner.)

Great stuff. But what does it actually mean?

To figure that out, one needs to keep in mind the difference between outsourcing and offshoring. Offshoring is when a U.S. company sends jobs that once existed within that U.S. company overseas to a subsidiary of its own – for instance, if an IBM coding engineer’s job gets moved to Bangalore, but the new employee is still an IBM worker. Outsourcing is when a U.S. company pays another company altogether for doing that job - much of it ends up in India, but a grocery store in Kansas could outsource its book-keeping to a firm in Topeka.

The difference matters, especially since the way this tax code revision is written, it could, theoretically make off-shoring slightly more expensive for U.S. companies, with the extent of the increase depending on the tax rates of the country the jobs go to. (For countries like Ireland, which the president mentioned, the corporate tax is as low as 12.5%. In India, the corporate tax for foreign companies can actually be higher than the U.S.’s – as much as 44% in some cases. )

But its impact on outsourcing? As far as tax experts - and the Indian IT industry has a lot of them – can figure out? Nada. Zilch.

The change, as best as I can understand from speaking to both U.S. and Indian tax experts, will reverse a Bush-era policy where U.S. companies were able to “defer” paying corporate tax on income earned overseas until they brought it back to the U.S., either as dividends or as retained profits on their balance sheets. They got a tax credit for whatever tax they paid overseas already, and paid the difference to the U.S. Government.

Now, if the change goes through, U.S. companies must pay U.S. corporate tax immediately, but will continue to get that credit. Keeping in mind that companies spend a lot of money figuring out loopholes and deductions to keep their tax rate low, the difference between U.S. and Indian corporate tax rates is pretty low already – no more than a few percentage points.

So first, the offshoring company continues to save a huge amount of money due to wage differences, and then, it pays a marginal amount of extra tax because of this change. That’s not going to be enough to stop offshoring, at least to India. After all, IBM didn’t hire nearly 75,000 employees in India to save tax dollars – it hired them because they cost as little as 1/5th or 1/6th of their American counterparts and often produce the same quality work.

Instead, says Rosanne Altshuler, a co-director of the Washington, D.C.-based Tax Policy Center, this change to deferrals policy might just encourage companies to merge with foreign multinationals, or move their headquarters overseas so that they fall under a different country’s territorial tax system. “This takes the former U.S. MNC’s foreign income out of the reach of the U.S. Treasury,” she says. “I don’t see how the change will increase jobs at home.”

As far as outsourcing goes, which arguably has resulted in a large number of jobs being created in India instead of the U.S., the impact is even less. The U.S. subsidiaries of Indian companies like Infosys or TCS do have some earnings in the US or from non-India based operations but the bulk of the earnings – which add up to billions of dollars a year – are generated in India. So far, there is nothing in the Obama budget or even the statement from Monday that affects Indian outsourcers directly.

So why single out Bangalore? Well, for one reason, U.S. voters have always responded to the fear that the best American jobs could flee overseas, where wage differences are tempting and the young, trained labor pool is virtually limitless. Nobody ever lost a popularity contest by calling outsourcing or offshoring bad names.

The other reason? Well, it’s just likely that Obama isn’t done yet. He had made outsourcing an election issue, and has brought it up repeatedly since he got elected. Even after this bill is done, he has promised further tax reforms, where there could be a more direct attack on outsourcing.

For now though, Indian outsourcing giants are waiting to see what’s next. So far, they’ve heaved a sigh of relief.

No Jobs for Indians in US

Last November, Abhimanyu Gupta, an MBA student in New York University’s Stern School of Business, was on the top of the world when he landed a job offer from Bank of America’s investment banking division. This February , he felt right at the bottom of the abyss as the bank withdrew the offer and Mr Gupta’s world crashed just like the global markets.

Now, the 27-year-old chartered accountant, who left Mumbai in 2007 to become an investment banker in the world’s financial capital, plans to return home if he doesn’t get an offer by June when his course ends.

With five months of recruitment time gone, Mr Gupta concedes that his chances of finding similar job in the US, which is battling the worst downturn in decades, are bleak. His chances are as bleak as hundreds of other Indian and foreign national students across top universities in the US, UK and other western economies, who now plan to go back home.

The Harvards, Whartons, NYU Sterns, Kelloggs, MIT Sloans, Michigans and Dukes the dream destinations of students till the other day — no longer guarantee top-dollar jobs. One year of downturn has turned the students’ world upside down.

According to a recent study by the University of California, Berkeley, almost 84% of Indian students and 76% Chinese students in the US think it will be difficult to find a job in their field in the country.

Even lenders are tightening the noose on international students. First-year MBA students, who were relying on loans from US banks to fund their second-year expenses, are in trouble because the banks have stopped lending to international students without co-signers .

According to some students, the Obama administration’s move to put visa restrictions on companies accepting Troubled Asset Relief Programme (Tarp), a bailout fund set up by the government to help US companies come out of the downturn, too, has hit international students’ prospects there.

Now, most Indian students in the West are betting on their home country. “Not getting an offer there, they are looking homewards. Given the economic
health of the US, India seems a better option right now,” says Birla VXL chief restructuring officer Brijtendu Sarkar, who did his MBA in general management for senior professionals from London Business School last year.

The US has been in recession for 18 straight months now and has lost 5.1 million jobs so far. The world’s largest economy shrunk 6.1% yearon-year in the first quarter of 2009, following a 6.3% decline in the last quarter of 2008. A recovery is unlikely before the end of the year even in a best-case scenario.

Indian economy, which has seen a slowdown after growing at over 9% for three years, is still expected to grow at a healthy pace of 6-7 % in the current fiscal. India and China , the other emerging giant, are expected to bounce back faster and drive a global recovery.

In fact, according to the University of California study that surveyed 1,224 foreign nationals from India, China and Western Europe, almost 86% Indian students and 74% of Chinese students believe their home countries’ economies will grow faster in the future than they have in the past decade. Most students coming back home are scouting for openings in sectors where they came from, as switching industries makes it difficult to get jobs. Some are approaching their seniors settled in India. Mr Sarkar himself has got three such requests.

According to Mr Sarkar, a number of Indian students in his batch read the signs early and returned home last year, to be lapped up by a booming Indian industry. Now they are helping their juniors search jobs in Asia, he adds.

While it may be easier for these students to find jobs in India, salaries here are not very attractive for most of them who are sitting on huge education loans. An MBA in a top western university costs anywhere between Rs 40 lakh and Rs 60 lakh. Also, many Indian students in the US are married and have families to support.

Convinced that a job in India won’t earn them enough to pay off their debt and support families, some students like Arihant Chowdhury (name changed) are delaying their degrees to buy time.

Will internet Die??

Video killed the radio star. But could it also kill the Internet? New research from American analyst firm Nemertes Research Group
says that by 2010, increasing Internet traffic, particularly video applications like YouTube and Hulu, will fatally clog the tubes.

This isn’t the first such prediction that has been made in the recent past: Brett Swanson of the Discovery Institute, a think tank, warned in 2007 of a coming surge of data that “today’s networks are not remotely prepared to handle”. So are the increasingly dire predictions of the demise of the Internet on the mark, or have rumours of the Net’s death been grossly exaggerated?

It is true that with the advent of Web 2.0, Internet usage has shifted to bandwidth-heavy applications like YouTube and Skype. The amount of traffic generated by YouTube in 2006 was more than that of the entire Internet in 2000. At 50-60 percent a year, the current growth of Internet traffic is enormous. However, several experts believe that the Internet is in no danger of collapsing under the weight of its own success.

Andrew Odlyzko, a computer scientist at the University of Minnesota who specialises in analysing historical trends in networking, believes that global Internet traffic is and will remain manageable with modest capacity updates.

There is some evidence to support that conclusion. For one, telecom companies in both Britain and America are already investing significant amounts in order to upgrade Internet infrastructure, including the last mile cable, to increase capacity. Secondly, the Internet was originally developed to withstand all kinds of catastrophes and has proven to be remarkably robust. It has coped with massive growth over the past 15 years. There’s no reason to suppose this can’t continue.

Anyway, engineers are preparing for the worst by working to replace the Internet with a superfast ‘grid’. So, even if capacity updates fail to keep pace with demand, an alternative will be in place. No one is suggesting that the Internet wouldn’t face operational difficulties if it was left just as it is.

The debate is over whether the rate of investment in capacity upgradation is fast enough to cope with rising demand. Studies like this can provide an impetus for telecom majors to invest in infrastructure. As of now, though, it’s safe to assume that the Net will be with us for a while more.