My journey continues on Twitter

Posted in Life on March 10, 2013 by Saquib

I apologize for the break I’m taking from writing. The MBA journey has been exceptionally profound and time consuming. I do occasionally keep the world in sync via Twitter (@saquibhussain), and recommend my readers to follow me.

https://twitter.com/saquibhussain

I will be back.

MBA Building

Decipher what life is really meant to be

Posted in Life on June 16, 2012 by Saquib

The eccentric nature of life, as I’ve come to witness it, has often surprised me. Is it life, which is, essentially, this hard to predict? Or is it how we’ve come to discover for all the noise that distract us?

I’m anxious, disconcerted, shaken. What is this generation we live in and where’s people’s determination to discover something more than those sadistic ornamental externalities? In last ten years, there has been a huge drop of ingenuity, depth, and intellectual courage among the people of Bengal. It is not where I knew I grew up, but it’s everywhere around me. Too many questions and concerns frighten me – the generation we live in, has more or less, lost its way.

There is a lot of pseudo intellectualism — largely vacant personalities that have infected the social system. People’s desire to understand life, the reason for all of us to be here, has faded. So I ask you – if you had to leave the world tomorrow, what would you tell yourself? What have you given back? Would you be remembered for reasons greater than yourself? Would you know, why you were part of this world?

I always think there’s answer to most of our lives’ questions in Sufi Poems. Here’s one I would want to quote from Fariduddin Attar:

Strive to discover the mystery before life is taken from you.
If while living you fail to find yourself, to know yourself,
How will you be able to understand?
The secret of your existence when you die?

We may think Internet, books, and media give us such a vibrant picture of life. We will be wrong, utterly. In fact, such sources along with the pollution of social networks have distracted us from understanding the value of discovering life and believing in a reason greater than ourselves, to make that difference.

Most of us are living ignorant, no matter whatever perspectives we have. I’d urge people to travel, anywhere, and take something back from it. Live the lives you love reading about. Question everything and find answers beyond the usual. Be independent, take risks, work hard, and establish something that will connect to you even when you’re not around, connect to your people, connect to your roots. Forget evaluating your life from others’ perspectives. Question the reasons for your existence and how you can change something here. The magnitude of what you do is less important than the effort you make to do it. It’s clichéd, but it has, certainly, ceased to exist.

Being responsible about taking risks

Posted in Business with tags , , on May 25, 2012 by Saquib

When people asked me about making decisions in uncomfortable situations, I used to consider it lousy. But experience has showed me that we are often in situations to make decisions without having enough intelligence. Of course, we prepare ourselves with tools and knowledge on how to crunch big numbers, use decision-making calculations, and realize the value of what we choose. However, I am generally more concerned about times when we have so little to base our judgment on. If you’re being too cautious, you’re losing opportunity to add value; if you’re being too brave, you’re misunderstanding the threats.

In the beginning of 2010, when I was working at Transcom Electronics, senior management decided to take distributorship of Samsung Electronics — assigning me product management responsibility of Samsung along with my existing Philips portfolio. However, there were many inherent uncertainties for deciding product planning and rollout strategy. First, we would gain distributorship of a brand that is already marketed by another established distributor; second, lack of information on sales trend of these products; and third, it would directly rival our existing Philips and Whirlpool brands.

I chose to have wide range of models for every category of product initially, developing a more ‘experimental’ portfolio and distributing risks to many different products. This would cause some demanding products to run out of stock early but, nevertheless, avoid risks of stock pileup for others. I would later adjust forecasts as we gradually learn the trend. I also ensured Samsung portfolio addressed most limitations of our Philips and Whirlpool portfolio.

I later studied and analyzed the basic sales trend of existing distributor using an intern, but was skeptical about our trends being similar, since our product placement strategy had different strategic focus. Rather I focused on extensive internal communications and confidence from our experiences. I think this was the best advantage I could add. I discussed the reasons behind my product planning and where we wanted to be, but clearly explained areas of uncertainty and the risks we were willing to take. I even compiled a cost of initial shipments to demonstrate monetary value of the risks. It allowed us to share opinion and prepare a product plan customized to fit our organization culture rather than trying to fit into others’.

But I went farther. As another competitor also marketed same products, I tried to ensure people could relate Samsung uniquely to us. I designed several new services for our Samsung customers. Many of these (e.g. installment purchase at no interest, multilevel pricing, premium membership, etc.) required investment that would elevate risks for Samsung. I later took help from the marketing manager to refine these services to be able to bundle them with most products we sold. This allowed spreading the cost of the bundled services across all our brands, lowering the risks of uncertain projections. To avoid risks of competitors copying our ideas, I further integrated most promotional offers with Philips products, which competitors didn’t have access to.

Moreover, I was stressed with the fact that an amount of sales would be lost from our existing brands but I couldn’t predict the exact pattern; so I worked with customer service to reduce spare parts ordering as we could use components from sales stock. I am happy the help I used to get from Supply Chain. I further ensured we didn’t send the message of Samsung’s superiority against Philips or Whirlpool, because it risked other Samsung distributor reaping the benefits while our overall sales slump.

We finally completed a successful rollout of Samsung products within four months. Our strategic efforts were well received although our forecasts for CRT TVs had to be adjusted. However, because of our combined effort in planning, teams felt more responsible and assisted in dealing with issues faced primarily. While I don’t think we could have a perfect plan, but calculated risks to contain damage limited major unwanted impacts. You could call me a risk averse for this, but you will have to consider my position and amount of error I’m allowed to make. After all, “with great powers, come great responsibilities”.

Media that mattered in 2011

Posted in Media on February 24, 2012 by Saquib

I’ll start with my mentions of Bangladeshi music. 2011 – I’ve heard quite a lot of music coming out in Dhaka. This year’s been about many musicians old and new. But I guess I’d give away the best album for a band who brought their second album to Dhaka after six years. Yes, Nemesis topped my list of best Bangladeshi Album / Artist for 2011 for many reasons. I guess they sort of grew up in the years that passed, transforming themselves into a very powerful band – the kind of musicians we (the rock lovers) want to see more here.

I loved everything about Nemesis’s new album Tritio Jatra. I made 4 of my friends even buy it. It’s real the strength they posses in their songs that touches you. Their first album didn’t have the proper recording, I had a tough time listening to it; this, however, has changed a lot of it. Sounds are clearer and you will love what you hear. The first thing I noticed was the use of words, where Nemesis truly shines. These are some of the best songs I’ve heard in a decade, and I mean it! My favorite tracks are of course  Kobe, Egiye Nao, and O-Boshobash. For an entire CD you get for 60 Taka (or less than 1 Dollar here), you can’t ignore the exceptional quality musicians give you in Bangladesh (even when they make so much lesser compared to artists elsewhere). But money you pay is just one way of measuring the album. The songs of this album really outshine every other rock album at Dhaka. Songs in Tritio Jatra are about memories, rage, fear, hatred, broken promises, taking a stand for what’s right, and breaking free of the evil that surround us. That’s probably the right ingredient for rock music, but the way you say it is just as much important here as what you talk about.  Interestingly, the album gets better the more you listen to it. At first play you may find my comments to be overrated, but that’s because you need to spend more time with their songs to fall in love with what they are about. Nemesis might have taken six years (and a bit of laziness) to produce this album, but the final work allows us to forgive them for making us wait.

The second notable mention must be Black’s new album released in 2011. This again is a sign of ‘quality’ that has started to emerge to a new level in Bangladeshi music. Their songs have grown beautiful and inspiring. The album has a good combination of varieties in music that surely gets noticed. It’s classy, catchy, and most importantly, fun. Right when you play the first track you’d put up a smile on your face listening to the kind of stuff you here – damn that’s some good music there! The thing Black had in common with Nemesis this year was their ability to invent new things while keeping the best of what they have originally. I guess in simple terms, you’d refer to it as ‘balance’.  While Nemesis has more depth to connect, Black has the ability to give you more instant fun. Certainly, this album will be listend by more girls than that of Nemesis.

My recommended tracks would be: Akjon, Haat Barao, Aajo, Attokandrik, and the remake of Amar Prithibi. You will be amazed to see how Black did their remake of Amar Prithibi song in this new album. It’s another sign of saying the balanced way to make your best songs better. In fact, I think this is one of the very few rare tracks where I’d actually consider the later version to be better than the original. Black has shown equal caliber with music throughout the tracks I mentioned. I might actually consider this to be the most memorable Black album since their very first release (honestly, I don’t even remember how many other albums they have had).

For music outside my homeland, I’d refer to Ben Harper’s album Give Till It’s Gone and Augustana’s 2011 albums as notable works you might have overlooked.

The year 2011 also had release schedule for many films. I’m sure you have read and heard of most of them. So I’ll take a moment to name a few you might not have considered important. I’ll begin with the film Another Earth. A good movie with excellent storytelling style that was probably very underrated. Other films include: Midnight in Paris, Water for Elephants, Something Borrowed, and Rango.

As far as TV shows are concerned, two shows I began watching in 2011 highly impressed me. The first is How to Make It in America. This is an incredibly creative and new taste in fine grade TV shows (thanks to HBO) – probably the best since Dexter. You must watch all the episodes in HD to get a real vibe of the show that producers threw at it. The next show I’d like to mention is Happy Endings. Another show you might not have followed but has lots of fun moments and good crew in. I don’t think any of these shows started in 2011, but they are quite new here and should be in your list of new things to watch.

Lastly, I would definitely ask you to start watching the news show The Stream on Al Jazeera. It’s the best combination of social networking, new thinking, dynamic viewpoint, and truly creative news making I’ve seen in a decade. While other news channels only fancy about creative and digital integration of news stories, Al Jazeera’s “The Stream” is the show that actually defined what this genre should be.

I guess that’s about all the notes I wanted to make on the must be exposed to media of 2011. If you’re stuck home and ran out of things to do, it’s never too late to spend time with music, films, or television shows.

Have a great weekend!

Quick Fix to Facebook Crashing on Mac OS X

Posted in Linux / Mac with tags , , , , , on February 14, 2012 by Saquib

I’ve been annoyed by my Mac’s continuous crashes with Facebook pages, ever so frequently. Try all 3 of these:

Tip#1: Chrome uses its own Flash, but somehow it was using 2 versions of Flash on my Mac OS X (SL). So the idea is to disable one of them (I kept the internal Chrome’d Flash version).

1. Go to your plugins page by entering ’chrome://plugins/’ in the URL bar.
2. Find your Flash Plugin(s). Mine was at the top of the list.
3. If it says ’Flash (2 files)’, Then you’re in luck! You just might be able to turn one off and make it work again!
4. Click the details link in the upper right corner. View the details of the flash listing.
5. Find your older / external version and click disable under the location section of the list and test out a page in flash and hit refresh. (*You may also try disabling the internal version if it doesn’t help.)

// The detailed discussion source is here. //

Tip#2: I’ve recently checked a few other things and found some additional culprits. First, check all your Safari extensions as well. Also see if Safari is constantly  using CPU/Memory to load preview images for your recently browsed and bookmarked sites. If you can’t do anything about it – uninstall Safari and check Facebook use in all other browsers. Also see if you have some third part bookmark sync working between Safari and Chrome – try removing those too! I am extremely busy at work and haven’t had the time to pinpoint you which one of these are the actual cause or why this  causes the crash – but, I’m certain now: it has something to do with Safari, bookmarks syncing, and fetching of preview images of sites.

Tip#3: This is the most accurate one. First check if you can manually disable extensions / add-ons  on your Safari and Chrome. If you can, disable all, and check one by one. I had a much worse issue. One of my Safari extensions were so bad, it made some files corrupt to the point that I would get a blank extensions tab – nothing in it! If this is the case, quit all browsers and delete the following:

  1. /Library/Application Support/SIMBL
  2. /Library/LaunchAgents/net.culater.SIMBL.Agent.plist
  3. /Library/ScriptingAdditions/SIMBL.osax
  4. ~/Library/Safari/Extensions/Extensions.plist
  5. /Library/Safari/Extensions/Extensions.plist

Then log out and log back in. You may need to reinstall plugins, such as Flash and Java again. But it removes all the junk you get from nasty extensions.

UPDATE: Tip#4: I have further narrowed down this issue to corruption in system files caused by fonts. As a person involved in freelancing design projects, I have to work with a huge database of fonts. I’m suspecting some issues with the fonts library can cause this. Make sure to use a font management software on your mac, clean all font caches, and even remove any unwanted fonts to test this. I had a few issues with some complex Bengali fonts that was causing the crash. I haven’t found a real fix, but a workaround to remove those fonts.

Optional Tip: If you suspect Silverlight plugin is creating any issue – use directions in this video to remove the plugin.

Obviously, do make sure you delete all cookies / cache / data saved by websites, after each process.

Bangladesh Turns 40

Posted in Life with tags , , , , , , on December 16, 2011 by Saquib

Remembering the millions who scarified their lives for us, for this day, and for this nation. We remain proud and grateful for the freedom you brought us — we will, despite our tough times, continue to love and fight for this country. Here’s 160 million people celebrating this day in all its glory, from every corner of the world. Let’s talk about our pride, our history, and share the joys of victory — because this was the day when we proved there’s absolutely no possibility of bringing down an entire nation united for a cause by any military or force, regardless of how powerful they seem.

Yes, 16th December has many meanings in our calendar: some remember what sacrifices can bring, while some remember the glory of our Liberation War; some talk about the unity of people that shaped the birth of a nation, while some acknowledge the debt we owe to millions of martyrs. But it’s not just history of a country, it’s identity of who we are and what we stand for. It took 3 million lives and hardships of countless others to achieve the glory that we will remain forever proud of — because on this day, the world witnessed the roar of exceptional men and women of a nation, united for sovereignty, winning against unmatched supremacy. While today we turn only 40, we remain respectful of our past, proud of how far we have come, and resolute on continuing to stand together for our nation.

An artist for the chilly weekend – Hamza Jahangir

Posted in Life, Media with tags , on December 15, 2011 by Saquib

Alright dear readers, let me introduce you to an amazing and relatively new talent in our Bangladeshi music. Now located in US, Hamza Jahangir is an emerging folk / rock musician writing and singing wonderful songs dedicated to many of the most obvious surroundings we have. His album, Kothai Jabo, is set to release in Spring 2012. This generous dude has already shared a ‘taste’ of his talent on Soundcloud that I’m linking you to. Beautifully crafted tunes, smooth vibe, clean recording, and wonderful stories behind his songs are bound to set a mood for some great times whether you are travelling or staying home this weekend.

My favorite, of course, is the song called ‘Amar Shohor’ where Hamza talks about his is memories in Dhaka city. I don’t think our experiences of Dhaka would differ much, making this song a treat for all who miss our city both in good and bad times. Why don’t you try putting the track on your portable gear and listening to it while sitting at your rooftop?

There are two more great songs in Hamza’s trial play – Kothai Jabo and Amar Haar Kala, both showing amazing potential for his talent and capability to make unique music. While Kothai Jabo is a great treat, it’s to be noted how diligently Hamza worked on remaking Bengali folk singer Abbas Uddin Ahmed‘s song in Amar Haar Kala. I particularly note how our generation continues to respect and reinvent past talent.

Can’t wait for his full album release!

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