Friday, October 24, 2014

Information available on internet

Gone are the days, when one would have to visit the nearest library to get information on some important concept. Pre 1995, finding information was painstakingly difficult. Even to find the long form of MF, one would have to read the financial papers or find the investment books in library. Library was not a outdated word, then.

I remember, my uncle checking some English newspaper with utmost interest. The print on the paper (for that particular page) was so fine that many would have got soda bottle specs. Still he and his friends were interested in reading those prints. Years later, I understood that he use to check the price of the stocks. He had a small circle of friends and they kept on discussing and monitoring their portfolio. Have no idea who made profit and who faked profit. However, it kept them busy in their retirement life (ghosshhh, direct equity in retirement!!!) and my aunt never seemed to complain (may be, her ornaments were sponsored by some of the stocks and she felt that another necklace would do no bad :P ).

Internet has replaced everything. Now, we just have to type the word in google and it gives loads of information on that word (btw, never tried ‘understanding a women’ on google). As always, every coin has 2 sides attached to it.

Let us look at the positives of this bombardment of information. Before today, investor did not have the blogs like Subramoney, AIFW, jago and calculator king. Their investment advice was limited to the financial papers and the human beings around. As always, most people preferred the easiest way and hence there were always talks of investment and never actual investment was done by ‘average’ people. Of course, there were exceptional people who discussed stocks in trains and implemented them. Even today, if you catch a Borivali local, you can hear “Tata nu bhav su che”, “Reliance ne bhav vadharigayo”, “Maro broker saro che” and so on.

I still remember, project activity in my school was like a heck of an activity. We had to do loads of paper reading, paper cutting and then we would get some good information to show to our teachers. Today’s kids just go to google baba (instead of their real baba) and download the stuff. Honestly, I do not know which way is better. Now, the children can cut down the time spent on searching through various magazines and papers and just can download the right picture and right article. The rest of the time is available to them to play cricket, football or volley-ball (all to be played in park and not on video games).

Now, you don’t have to worry about your paper cuttings getting wet or getting lost. Just download them and keep it on your laptop (oops, today’s kids use ipads).

My grandmother referred some recipe book and my wife refers online recipes. I have to admit that the recipe books did not have the variety of the dishes that online PDFs has. Eggless cakes, dal dhokli, rassam all are available. I was planning to refer such recipes for noodles but then realized that on the back side of maggi, we have all the detailed instructions. So abandoned google baba.  

The other side to all these examples (and obviously to information available on the internet) is the question “how to sort the information available”, “which one is suitable to my condition”, “how to distinguish the real matter from the dummy one”, “how to distinguish between financial advice and financial porn (word borrowed from Subra)”.

Searching on google is not as easy as it seems. Just type ‘mutual funds’ in google. What you get is not the information on mutual funds but the advertisements of the mutual fund companies.

Mutual funds on Google


Of course, cannot blame the google. It searches everything with mutual funds and displays the links according to SEO techniques. So here rational brain of human (LOLs) is to be used. Read any online article of famous new papers and you would find plenty of funny articles. Like few days back, somebody was recommending equity mutual funds for a goal which was 2 years from today. This was the goal based strategic plan developed by financial experts in one of the reputed financial news papers. So understanding which information to use has now become more difficult.

Few days back, read another article. It listed how every photo that we take from our smart phone has a geo id tag to it. When we upload it on social networking sites, the geo tag can be interpreted by software and exact location of the object (or human being, of course) can easily be found out. Now imagine, how a stranger can actually know where you live and what are your geographic co-ordinates just from your social networking photo.** What is this paragraph doing here.. ummm

One of the financial blog will say invest in debt mutual funds for a goal which is 1-2 years away. Mathematical experts like Pattu can point out that how debt mutual funds too suffer from volatility and if the goal is important one, keep all the money in bank FD, taxes be dammed. However, if we read both the blogs from neutral angle, how one is to understand who is right and who is wrong. So for that, he himself must understand volatility and standard deviation.

Subra says I have 2k units of Palmolive shares. Now, you cannot go and buy Palmolive share because Subra has it. Subra may have bought it 50 years ago.

You read somewhere that Ashal says invest in FIBC fund. You do that exactly. It may happen that, you did not read the article completely. Ashal’s goal is 15 years from now, yours is 2 years from now. I remember, when I had asked Ashal to point out the strategies for handling retirement corpus (handling corpus and not creating corpus). He told me that one size does not fit all. True. Situation matters.

P.S.1: Do not ask me moral of the article (It would be difficult to tell you that I am yet to figure that out). You just read about indiscriminate information available on the internet. This may be one of them.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

End of S .... S for Sujit

It was 2.30 in the night. ACP Gokhale's personal phone was ringing. This was a clear sign of emergency. Very few in the police HQ had ACP's private number. ACP picked up the phone with anticipation of some of his dreaded fear. After listning to the phone call, ACP's heart sank. 

Sujit was indeed his dreaded fear. He has been on the run from last 8 years and ACP managed to get close to him only on two occassions and that too was wasted.

3 murders took place in a gap of 60 minutes, all in one locality and in same manner.

ACP rushed to the location at 3:15am. The primary investigation revealed that the murder was done using a sharp object like a butcher's knife. All the murders had Sujit's signature: S written on the wall with victim's blood. All the victims were not related to anyone in any manner. Hardly anybody in their families had anything to gain from the murders. In fact, in two of the cases, the victim was the sole earner. After 5 days of investigation, no clues were obtained and ACP had to announce that Sujit was back.

The media, as usual, were highlighting how the police force were inefficient in handling a serial killer. CP called a closed door meeting and wanted to see the results. Everybody just had one question - HOW?

Police inspector David Bregenza suggested an approach. It looked good on the face but the execution was difficult. David's plan was to get personal with Sujit and make him commit mistake. The assumption was if Sujit gets personal he would think with some rage or revenge in mind and it would create some chink in his plan. That was the only hope. Just when the meeting was about to finish, ACP got another call saying there were 3 more murders in gap of 3 hours with 'S' on wall. Sujit was way ahead in his thinking and getting personal with him was difficult as nobody knew his background.

CP suggested David and ACP work together to formulate a plan and get it executed.

They both visited the latest crime site. First victim was Mrs. Ashalata. She was in her mid-fifties. No personal animosity with anybody. Peace loving and involved in social work as well. Has term insurance of 50 lakhs. The amount would be given to her daughter. Her husband expired 5 years ago. Daughter is studying in Shimla. Ashalata had no love interest with anyone. The daughter too was clean. Class topper and friends with everyone.

Next victim was Miss Neelam. She was in mid-twenties and was working in a private firm under reputed person. She was about to get married to that reputed person. Everything was honky-donky, till she was murdered. The man was clean. He had been to visit his native place in south during the incidence. His phone records, natives and other references were verified.

Next was Mr Chander. He was in his mid-thirties and a very corrupt man working in a bank. He would often ask for bribe for approving loan. He was suspended few times for the same charge. Since the bank was PSU, he was still holding his job. However, few thousand of rupees would never be a good reason to kill someone brutally.

David was surprised. He said to ACP, "Sir, there is no pattern". "Exactly and that's the pattern of Sujit. And hence I am worried", came the reply from ACP. They needed to find pattern and that too quickly. The murders were happening in multiples of 3 each week.

David and ACP promised each other of thinking more on the lines to find a pattern and put an definite end to the murders and to Sujit.

ACP reached home at around 8.30pm. Still in thoughts of Sujit. He could neither relate to any pattern nor could find a way to identify who Sujit was. He sat at couch and was surfing few channels. Just then his daughter shouted, "Papa, please go back to the channel. It was my favourite add coming". So he went back to that channel but the add was gone. The daughter started crying. To console her, he took her in his lap and told to hold for few more minutes and that add would be relayed again. To his daughter's cherish, that add was relayed again. That add made both of them happy. The daughter got to see her favourite add and ACP got some hope. The add was of feviquick. The man in the add would stick some glue on the iron rod, dip in the water, wait for few seconds and bingo he had fish stick to that glue. That was exactly what ACP thought could be used to catch Sujit.

He quickly went and called David. They met at local resto in next 20 mins. ACP explained what happened and David liked the idea too. They formulated a plan and left the resto after 3 hours.

The next day, ACP asked a news channel to announce that the media house had received a specific information from a reporter that Sujit

would next kill people from Galaxy compound. Immediately, the police sealed the whole compound. ACP came and happily announced to the media that now Sujit cannot come and kill anyone here. This was the bait. To encourage, rather challenge him to commit his crime in a particular locality and try and capture him. ACP had installed secret cameras all over the place.

Sujit, being a true serial killer, showed up at the site. He came dressed as a postman. Nobody suspected him as he had a perfect bearing as that of a postman. ACP was informed about a postman entering the premises. ACP was immediately alert and went to the same building in the which postman had entered.

ACP and David formed 2 teams. The plan was, 1 team would go by lift and other would go by stairs. ACP and his team went by stairs. No sooner they crossed the third floor, the men with ACP were killed with gunshots. ACP hid himself behind the fire duct. There was complete silence. Something went wrong. David had reached the top 18th floor, when he heard the firing. They quickly got out of the lift and tried contacting ACP overphone. ACP's phone rang and his hideout was revealed. ACP quickly pulled his phone out from his pocket to cut the phone. However, before he could cut the phone, a bullet went past his head. Second was through his head, killing ACP immediately.

Due to the firing noise, all the teams in the compound were on alert. As soon as the postman came out of  the building, he was gunned down by the team waiting with guns and snippers. Sujit was dead and so was ACP. When the police searched Sujit's body and his bag, they found a letter. Sujit had written the letter himself.

He had written: As soon as the news broke about me killing people in the compound, I was sure that this was police's bait. I am aware of your stupid plan. However, I just wanted to show that if Sujit wants to kill someone, he can. ACP Gokhale was a great man. However, he was less clever than me. I want the world to remember that I was always ahead of him in thinking. Now that he said that I wanted to kill someone in this locality, I knew that he would be here. I came here to kill him and I know I can do it. By the time, you would be reading this letter, I would not be alive.

The city finally got rid of their most dreaded serial killer. However, in the process, they also lost a very daring, brave and intelligent police officer.