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  • Thursday, April 26, 2007

    Maths Tricks

    I've never been the best at the numbers game, but compared to a number of people, I guess I'm OK. But year after year I have become more and more dependant on the calculator, either at the desk, or the one on my phone, when I'm out and about scouting the best deals for anything from dvds to drugs (legit ones of course). And so the number area of my brain has got a bit rusty.

    During my time in the UAE, I realised that the Indians had superior math skills. I just thought this as a trait of the race, but some argues that teaching by rote was how they became so good. Ram Charan would probably argue that the Indians have superior street skills. One evening, when venturing into the alleys of Mina bazaar, I got chatting to a trader who gave me the low down, when I inquired on his mastery of math. "Well, it was drummed into me." "Aha, rote! But then he ventured further. "I also know Trachtenburg." I felt as if I was missing something. "Trachtenburg taught me some secret rules, so I could do some very difficult sums quickly". Who was Trachtenburg and why didn't he tell me of these secret rules? Why didn't my school teach me this way?

    I recently started looking into "The Trachtenberg Speed System of Basic Mathematics" and was stunned at some very simple tricks that one can do to compute some large sums pretty damn quickly.

    I'll give you a basic example:

    To multiply by 11
    e.g. 635 X 11
    take the last digit as the right hand number (5)
    each successive number is added to the number on the right (3+5), (6+3)
    And the first digit becomes the left most digit(6).

    so you get: 6985

    OK, so you can multiply 6350 by 19 and add 635, but this is the most basic example.

    For example, for multiplying by 12, you just double each number in turn and add the neighbour. So 413 (or 0412) becomes 4944. Can you see? And it goes on, for long multiplication, long division, squaring, square roots etc. etc.

    Forget timetables, this would have helped me huge. With my mind as it is, I don't think I could get to a level to compete with the Mina bazaar shop keeper. Where's my calculator gone?

    Posted by at 3 comments :

    Wednesday, April 25, 2007

    The Voice of UAE Bloggers

    Blogging has become commonplace across the world, and, indeed, will be probably seen as a hallmark of the beginning of the 21st century. Who knows whether it will continue its growth or transform its way as the first phase of people's ability to voice opinions? That said, journalism has taken note and viewpoints of reputable bloggers are now considered as an on the ground source of information.

    Take the example of the UAE. While there are a small number of regular bloggers who discuss the various issues in the country, there is probabably a thirst to try and understand what is really going on in the Emirates. There are obviously a lot more bloggers in other countries, but the voice of the UAE bloggers now have a reputation for sane view of the news, and general goings on.

    To realise the extent of how far this has got, I was particularly impressed that the Financial Times had reference to the online voice of the UAE. The story of how Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai's ruler, ordered an end to work on the Umm Suqeim beach and the online petition was featured in yesterday's FT. The fact that the FT referenced this as a voice of reason and not of power says oodles about the leadership of the UAE can use alternative forms of information separate from the normal channels.

    Further more there was specific reference to SD, which deserves a huge pat on the back:

    "The decision had looked arrogant and greedy - let's grab the last land while we can," says the author of Dubai's best-known expatriate blog, Secret Dubai Diary.

    The authorities should take note. By inhibiting the public and the world to minimal amount of information in the free information day and age, sources of information have begun to be sourced elsewhere. The more you close down the channels, the more other channels open up. The more you close them down, the more UAE will be seen as closed. This example is a victory of free speech, not just for the UAE, but for all over the world.

    FT article: Dubai's ruler turns tide on development of public beach

    Posted by at 2 comments :

    Tuesday, April 17, 2007

    The Sheik Who Would Be King of Horse Racing

    Two sites sprung out at me this week as being top dog. One is the new site from TED, which sets the standard for where video should go. The other is the super expensive (rumoured spend on mag and site is in the hundreds of millions of dollars) portfolio.com. It just so happened that there is an excellent article that centres on Sheikh Mo and his love of horses. It's more revealing than the usual piece you get and it is well worth reading:

    “I’m a horseman, so I know what horses can and cannot do,” he says. “Hunting taught me patience. And to enjoy it while you are waiting.”

    The Sheik Who Would Be King of Horse Racing

    Posted by at 3 comments :

    Friday, April 13, 2007

    The UAE loves bling

    The take up of trends that demonstrate the wealth of the individual is rife in the UAE, be it the new Cayenne or allsinging Nokia. And if things are not available to the mass market, it makes it even more important to get a hold of the item. I present you with two items that I believe will be the want of society in the coming months, maybe a small market, but there will be a few who want to have these items, just to say that they had them:

    The first e-ink watch

    Seiko designed a bracelet style watch using the high contrast e-ink technology. If the futuristic watch is set to its 'efficiency' mode, the display is informative and easy to read. If, however, the watch is set to its 'mystery' mode, the panel expresses the time in a more imaginative, evocative style.

    Philips/Swarovski crystal-clad USB drives

    Partnering with Swarovski, the duo is loosing the Active Crystals collection of 1GB USB drives (and sparklin' headphones, too) onto the fashion-conscience set

    These are certainly niche, and probably target Vertu lovers and those who have aspire to pre-order their car at the factory rather than the showroom.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Wednesday, April 11, 2007

    Would twitter work in the UAE?

    Internet trends come in leaps and bounds. Some fizzle out and some stay, at least for a time. What has been hotting up recently is microblogging, and specifically a product called twitter. What's the premise here? You have 140 characters to update your status at any one time. You can do this online or by sending an sms to a specific phone number. It them can text those in your network or those who have chosen to watch your status or "thoughts". The applications could be huge if conceptually it can be converted from idea to monetisation. Anything from marketing to advertising to discount codes etc. It hasn't reached critical mass yet in the US, but is growing at a phenomenal rate, and soon it won't just be tech nerds who 'twitter'. Either that or it's all froth and another fad to pass through time.

    But the question at this stage in the technology is whether it would work in Dubai or Abu Dhabi? An interesting thought. It is no secret that the concept of mobile is more status in the Gulf Arab states than in some places in the world. (Aside, on one occasion I was with someone who had 4 mobiles with him - Why he just didn't just divert the calls to one, I don't know) I wondered whether the concept of mobile is just to do with receiving calls and looking important or is it really about being in the know. I haven't quite come to a conclusion. Is being in the know what it is all about or does one need to know the gossip? These are two different ideas but depending on the use of this "service", could be covered by twitter.

    There are all sorts of hurdles before twitter would be available as mass microblogging in the UAE. But the ability to inform people real time of your status or thoughts is probably something too scarey for the TRA to consider. That said, would it work anywhere where there is censorship? Twitter would become twatter, not in real time and the very essence of why it is so appealing to the technerd crowd at present would be lost in its formal application by the duopoly powers of etisalat and du. In any case, this is all some time off, as markets collide and twitter looks to devise a business model that can be applied to markets where you pay to receive and pay to send sms.

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    Abu Dhabi on the map

    Even five years ago, mention Abu Dhabi, out of context and you would get murmurs of misunderstanding, questioning eyebrow raises and glances of disapproval. Over recent months, Abu Dhabi has slowly taken prominence and column inches amongst the international press, and the confusion has started to turn to an understanding of what Abu Dhabi could be. The closer we get to some semblance of property completion, probably within 3 years, the more Abu Dhabi will become a household name that one can talk of in the same way that one talked of Dubai, Shanghai or Mumbai not so long ago. Today's special report in the FT is the beginning of seeding the potential of Abu Dhabi to those who need to know, and this seeding will promote further conversation in the months and years to come.

    Special Coverage of Abu Dhabi in the FT

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    Sunday, April 08, 2007

    The next property explosion

    Let's face it. The speculative gains to be be made in Dubai's property market are probably a far cry from what could be earned elsewhere. Much of the talk focuses on places such as Bulgaria and the like, but there is an argument saying that this is also old news. So where can one make that extra buck from investing. Readers to this blog will suspect that I will put my money on Abu Dhabi. However, I don't think there will be much speculative potential. I think the investment in Abu Dhabi will keep its value simply for the nature of the aims of the Emirate. But for me, the next place to put your money down is neither in Dubai, nor Abu Dhabi, nor RAK, nor Sharjah. The next big thing in real estate, if you can call it "real" estate is in second life. For those of you not yet in the know, this is a virtual world where money is transacting, and people look to have a second life doing other things, being an alter ego. But it is not a game, and it should be taken seriously. This video will give you an overview of its potential:

    There are similarities to be drawn with Dubai. Jest with them as you see fit. But those of you with a creative bone within you and can conceptualize life elsewhere, consider putting some money in a land in second life. I have a feeling it is about to go big time.

    Second Life

    Second Life: Real Money in a Virtual World
    Making a Living in Second Life

    Posted by at 1 comment :

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