Thursday, December 22, 2011

Google Spreadsheet tip: how to SUMIFS

SUMIFS is probably the most useful feature, Microsoft rolled out in Excel 2007. It lets you SUM a range, using multiple criteria. For instance, in the situation below, if we wanted to find out how much John made in 2010 Q3, you could use this simple formula.

Now how do you do this in google spreadsheet? Unfortunately, it only has the older SUMIF formula, which lets you select a single criteria. Let's see how to make it work.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

How To: Test driving Windows 8 on Virtual Box

Are you curious, what the next iteration of Windows has in store for you.
Windows 8 developer preview is now available for download. Head over to MSDN and give it a try. Virtual Box is a great free cross-platform Virtualization application which is easy to set up and lets you run different OS instances in parallel.

Below instructions are for Virtual Box on Windows 7, but should also work for Linux/MacOSX
1. Download and Install Virtual Box for your specific platform (Win/Linux/OSX)
2. Download the Windows 8 developer preview from MSDN. You can chose 32-bit/64-bit w/o Developer tools
3. Open Virtual Box, and  click on New. You will be greeted with a VM set up screen. Give it a name and select Windows 7 (32/64bit) as OS


4. In the later screens, allocate 10-20GB (or lower) for the VM and chose dynamic expansion. This takes shorter time to set up and Virtual Box will dynamically increase the VM space as when needed to a maximum of the earlier chosen capacity.

5. Once the VM set up is done. From the Virtual Box home screen, select the VM and click Run. The first time, you would be greeted with a First Run Wizard. Select the Windows 8 Developer Preview file you just downloaded (*.iso file).

6. The VM would now boot with the iso, and Windows Installation process would begin. To switch controls back to your desktop OS, press Right Control in Windows.

7. Follow the instructions on-screen. Chose Custom (Advanced) as the type of installation.

8. That’s it. Wait patiently for 25-35 mins for the setup to complete. Once done, the VM will restart and you voila, you are right inside the new Metro UI. Do note, it’s a developer preview and could have loads of bugs and issues Smile Enjoy!

Windows 8

9. Some helpful tips
1. Use windows key to switch to the start metro menu
2. Change windows 8 screen resolution (default on VM is 800x600)
3. Live tiles don’t work on a local Administrative account. Create a test user account to get the Metro Apps/Tiles working
4. Right Control-C to pass control back from the VM window

Monday, September 12, 2011

Still undecided on your next phone? The smartphone dilemma continues

My last phone was an iPhone 3GS. I had queued over an hour at the Singtel office, alongside thousand others. This was July 2009.

Back then, the choice was almost too simple.

iPhone was the best touch phone money could buy. The first wave of Android devices were underwhelming (Remember HTC Hero and Magic!). Nokia was struggling to innovate. And Blackberries were (and still are) just dull and uninspiring.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

HP gives up on webOS and exiting PC Business

[spincop1]Tumultuous times at HP. Just 49 days after releasing the first webOS based tablet, HP announced it is discontinuing its webOS devices. The company now plans to "optimize" the value of webOS after spending nearly $1.2b on Palm, a year back. HP could either sell or license webOS off to other manufacturers or more likely salvage Palm's patent portfolio, in  a time where mobile patents are a premium.

The news was part of a bigger announcement with HP openly declaring its intention to spin off its low margin PC business and focus more on enterprise, software and consulting. HP shares immediately fell 20% wiping 12b of market cap in a single day.

One third of HP's revenue comes from PCs with an operating margin a bit above 5% (2010) compared with 11.7% from its overall operations.

HP seems to be taking a page from rival enterprise giant IBM, which successfully sold its PC arm to Lenovo in 2005, after a period of dismal PC sales.

HP's exit from both PC and mobile segment will definitely hurt competition. With the US and EU heading for another recession, it will be interesting to see how HP rebounds after the spin off. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Can you predict American Idol Results by looking at the interwebs

I must confess. I am a huge Idol fan. I have diligently followed the last 6 seasons. The show has consistently managed high TRPs, increasing user votes and some really creative product placements (remember the Coke glass on the judge's table and the Ford ad). The talent pool is sometimes underwhelming but the judges and the musical guests more than compensate. 
Recently, another season of Idol ended with Scotty Mcreery and Lauren Alaina reaching the finals. We obviously know who won, but the question is can the results be predicted by looking at the opinions and the trends in the interwebs? So let's find out.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Removing IT Policy from your old office blackberry

Note: The following instructions is for information purpose only. You could be violating your corporate security policies by applying it on your active blackberry

So you have an old decommissioned blackberry, and you would like to use it as a spare phone. Follow the below instructions to set your blackberry "free"

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Microsoft's acquisition of Skype, an Analyst's puzzle

Merger economics teaches us that the fair value of a target firm is its market value plus "Synergy".  Last September when eBay sold 65% of its stake in Skype, the internet communication company was valued at $2.75 billion. Adding an additional $1 billion that Skype was planning to raise through an IPO, Skype should have been a $4 billion acquisition. Then why did Microsoft pay $8.5 billion? Is the post-acquisition synergy worth $4.5 billlion!

What's even more bewildering is the fact that last year Skype made a nett loss of $7 million on a total revenue of $860 million.  In Microsoft's defence, Skype is a great company to own. Its user base grew 40% last year and the brand is now synonymous to internet telephony. Microsoft instantly gets access to a web property that's as popular as Google, twitter and Facebook. Integrating Skype into both its consumer and enterprise products should create synergy enhancing online collaboration. Along with its Enterprise communication suite Lync, Skype should also work well with their Xbox and Windows Phone platforms.

From a cashflow perspective, Microsoft has over $50 billion oversees, bringing it back would entail US taxes. And historically Microsoft's reinvestment in internal R&D hasn't had great returns. Thus investing in the Luxembourg based Skype is a smart move. But, only if the price was right.

Whatever be the reasons, a $8.5 billion for Skype still does not make sense. One wonders if Balmer got carried away with his vendetta over Google and their initial bid for Skype.What do you think. Do leave your comments.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

What the Flock! Flock Browser finally Shuts down

I was pleasantly surprised when I saw this email sitting in my inbox today. Flock was officially being shut down from April 26th 2011. The social interest in the niche browser had been dropping drastically and when Zynga acquired them for their developers in January, the end was almost sealed.

Personally, Flock was a neat idea. You got a firefox build (later chromium), which came with social features right out of the box. Sidebar access to twitter, facebook etc. Seamless access to your delicious bookmarks, email, blogging platforms..

Why did Flock fail? 

Monday, April 04, 2011

The e-Reader Shootout– Kindle3, Nook Color and the iPad

 As a student, I always missed having a digital reader to browse my notes, books and lecture recordings. I spent most of my time lugging my laptop to classes, seminars and library, and typing in notes on google docs or creating my mindmaps. When coupled with Evernote, iPhone became a great recording device. And I scraped my way out of grad school. I spent a lot of time researching on the perfect student companion, but there is none that satisfies all the requirements. The physical paper and pen are hard to substitute.

When it comes to plain simple reading, it's a lot more straightforward. At present, Kindle and lately iPad dominate in this area, followed by Barnes & Noble Nook and the plethora of cheap digital tables.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sending a mass email to your facebook friend list, the excel-lent way!

Notes: Export contacts from facebook

Facebook is a great tool to connect with people. However, there are times when it get's really frustrating.

The other day, I wanted to drop a mass mail to all my friends in Singapore. So I went to the messaging system, tried to enter "Singapore", hoping facebook would be smart enough to populate the To-List with all my contacts with current city as Singapore.

Alas, it didn't happen. Perhaps I was expecting a lot. So the next thing I did was create a friend list, manually choosing all the people I knew who still lived in Singapore, into it. The exercise took ~5-10 mins with around 200+ friends.