Image Gallery  |  Travel  |  Digital Photography

:: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 ::

A quick trip to Nandi Hills

I was at Nandi Betta last weekend and had a good time working with the camera. Besides the lovely weather, cool breeze and pretty clouds, I also got to see and photograph a few beautiful birds. Here is one of them - a Tickell's Blue Flycatcher. See more photographs and trip report on my travel blog.

Tickells Blue Flycather

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:: Sunday, January 28, 2007 ::

Feb 2007 desktop calendar

February 2007 desktop calendar is ready for download. To get the image in 1024x768, click on the picture below.

February 2007 calendar

About the image

The mountain in the picture is Mt.Nanda Devi, one of the tallest mountains in India. Nanda Devi is located in Garhwal Himalayas in Uttaranchal state, and is surrounded by Nanda Devi National Park, home to rare snow leopards and Bharals(blue sheep). This image was taken from Auli, a ski lodge near Joshimath, Uttaranchal on a winter evening in 2006. You can read more in detail about my trip report to Auli. Also see images of Auli that I shot in 2005 and 2006.

For those interested to know more about Nanda Devi, I recommend the book "Nanda Devi Affair" by Bill Aitken, published by Penguin India.


:: Friday, January 26, 2007 ::

Some changes with the layout

Today I sat down and decided that I can give some pep to this blog template. I did not want to change the template itself, since I was happy with the simple and convenient template. After thinking about it, I decided to stream thumbnails from my image gallery. Googling around for tools which could do this did not result in much. There did exist some tools, but only for wordpress. My next choice was to design one myself, but I had no clue of programming in PHP, the language in which my image gallery is written in. In the end, I decided to work with it, dug up the code of the image gallery, made some guesses about what to change and where. After spending almost three hours on it, I finally have a widget up and running, which you can see on the right side.

Now tell me if this image streaming widget was a good idea, and tell me if you like it.. Next step - to get rid of the vertical scroll bar, but I think that requires some more scratching of the head!

The widget can be hosted on any website, and you are welcome to use it too. Just cut and paste the code below.

<iframe src="http://www.paintedstork.com/pictures/rand.php" width="130" height="350"></iframe>

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:: Sunday, January 14, 2007 ::

Recycling content..!

What do you do if you are a big online media company and don't have enough content to fill up the home page? You might make your team to work harder and go in search of news, or get them to write some creative content that can go up on the homepage.

And what would you do if you were rediff.com? Simply go back to some old stuff and bring them back to the front! Thats just what I have noticed them doing. I had noticed this article on home loans a few weeks back, may be on December 19th when it went live. A good article actually. Next day, it wasn't there on the home page and had probably got archived or went to the inner pages. But two days later, I saw it back on the home page. Fine, may be they liked it so much that they wanted to put it back up on the main page. But as I am writing this post today, it is back again on the main page! I guess rediff loves the article so much that they can't let it go, or they are seriously running out of stuff..


The New Zen Estilo Ad

Most of you would have seen the ad of Zen Estilo on tv, where everything and everyone is depicted as boring boxes and then comes the Zen Estilo, making a 'style statement'. The first time I was watching it, I wondered and tried to predict what could be the product. I could figure it out before the car turned up on the screen, but next, I wondered what purpose does the ad serve. Let us do some analysis.

First, lets look at what did the advertiser want to achieve with the ad. Naturally Maruti's ultimate aim would be to have their car sell well. If it was an existing and popular product, and people already know about it, an ad needs to serve the purpose of giving a good brand recall. Say, if the ad was for an Alto or Wagon R, people already know about the product. And if a viewer is bombarded with adverts, when he decides to buy a car, he will remember to check out the Alto or Wagon R too.

But the Zen Estilo is new, and is not known to the viewer. So an ad has to serve the purpose of -
a. Introducing the new product to the viewer
b. Educate him of the benefits of the car, and tell him why he should buy it.

So if you have an ad that praised the economy that the Estilo could offer, its low price, smooth ride, or such features that would make a potential buyer think of adding the Estilo to his list of cars to checkout. But the ad does not make any effort in that direction.

Now, even if we consider Zen as an old brand in new avatar, lets see if the ad serves to provide a good brand recall. Brand recall happens when you make an ad that people sit up and notice, like the Hutch ad. Or when you add some nice jingles that make people sing it even when the ad is out from the screen, or with something silly, or by getting celebrities to endorse it and such tactics. The Zen ad doesn't do any of this. Okay, lets forget all the formulas and agree that it's a new 'concept' ad and it might get noticed. If you were told that you are a miserable boring person(or 'dabba') and you can uplift yourself only by getting inside a Zen, do you think you would consider doing just that? Unlikely isn't it? The Estilo ad is trying just that. It tries to call everyone a looser unless you are in the Estilo. Marketers know that such ads have never had a long term positive effect on a product, and if it is a new product, things could be even worse.

Next, lets look at where does the ad try to place the car. It talks about making a 'style statement'. How many car buyers in this segment really look at making a 'style statement' with their car? Although I can't say with numbers and figures that might be arrived out of a survey, personal experience tells me that most small car buyers want better pricing, fuel economy and low maintenance cost. Sadly, though Zen servers all these needs, it is not highlighted. This is debatable though, and I have to give some credit for the idea of 'style statement'. The erstwhile Zen was known as a pretty and stylish car and was known for its good looks, and Maruti may be trying to fill the void created by it. But is the car really worth such a marketing effort is another question they need to ask themselves.

Luckily Maruti, and the Zen are in a position to attract buyers no matter how good or bad its advertisement turns out. Maruti is a well established brand, and being a small, economy car, Zen has a market of ready buyers. But some good marketing could do a bit more to improve its sales.


:: Saturday, January 06, 2007 ::

This humorous post on churmuri gives a gentle but realistic insight to why India still has plenty of problems like poverty, unemployment,...

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