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Why I hate calling my business a startup

Originally posted on Quartz:

The first time I called my food truck business a startup was in a brief that I sent to one of the better B-schools in Delhi to get some students to do a project with us.

It made sense. Our business was a new and exciting concept with great potential for scale, and my partner and I were professionals who were pursuing our dream. Our “startup” was a little over a year old and by then, it had iterated several times and started to look somewhat like what it does now.

The idea was simple: We would serve the familiar south Indian cuisine at the doorstep of the customer. On weekends, we would drive into gated communities, taking and serving orders. On weekdays, we would be in driveways of companies and office complexes or colleges. We were right there, super convenient and very compelling.

A Dosa Inc truck in action. A Dosa Inc truck in action.

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Terms And Conditions Are The Biggest Lie Of Our Industry

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

THE LEGAL AGREEMENTS SET OUT BELOW GOVERN YOUR USE OF THIS TECHCRUNCH POST (“TECHCRUNCH”). TO AGREE TO THESE TERMS, CLICK “AGREE.” IF YOU DO NOT AGREE TO THESE TERMS, DO NOT CLICK “AGREE,” AND DO NOT USE THE SERVICES.

A. TERMS & CONDITIONS ARE WAY TOO LONG SO THAT YOU DON’T READ THEM AND JUST CLICK ACCEPT

You agree that you never read TERMS & CONDITIONS. Aren’t we right?

  1. Apple is notoriously wordy — you’re not going to read 20,000 words before using the iTunes Store.
  2. Facebook breaks down its TERMS & CONDITIONS in multiple pages — we stopped after copying and pasting them in a single 15,000-word document.

There is no incentive to make these documents shorter as you don’t want your users to pay too much attention to your TERMS & CONDITIONS. And there are new challenges today that make these TERMS & CONDITIONS even more obsolete (see…

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What is wrong with being ordinary?

Originally posted on The Window On The Street:

There are many annoying things about advertising.

How loud and in your face it can be,

Chemist Warehouse small (Because billboards don’t have wheels)

The way you are sold a product through an (often highly polished and unrealistic) image of a coveted lifestyle,

stupid car ad 2

And the way women’s heads are periodically removed from their bodies:

headless body messes with minds swanston st giant headless lady

But one theme in advertising that has been bothering me lately is this: That to be ordinary – to be anything remotely like anyone else – is unacceptable.

seen not herd toyota ad

coke ad 3


oscar de la renta extraordinary Picture4

Advertising is something I try not to pay too much attention to, mainly because when I look at most ads the standards they imply through photos such as those above strike me as unfair and unrealistic. Like a strange pseudo-reality, or a fictional narrative in which one has to suspend one’s disbelief to get very far, ads frustrate me from how removed they often are from everyday life.

And yet…

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The science is clearer than ever: Long work hours increase your risk of stroke and heart disease

Originally posted on Quartz:

In 1888, Rudyard Kipling famously wrote that too much work can “kill a man just as effectively as too much assorted vice or too much drink.” Working conditions have changed a lot since then, but a new analysis of more than 500,000 modern lives upholds the aphorism.

The meta-analysis published in The Lancet shows that those working 55 hours a week had a 33% greater risk of stroke and 13% increased risk of cardiovascular diseases in comparison to those working for 40 hours a week. This kind of analysis overcomes the limitations of past smaller studies, such as narrow demographics and weaker links, offering up a firmer, overarching conclusion.

One cause of stroke and heart diseases is the increased amounts of stress from extended work hours. Turning to alcohol as a stress reliever makes matters worse. So does the fact that overworked people have fewer hours available for exercise.

Sadly, the chances of your employer paying heed to…

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China has devalued its currency by the biggest margin in more than 20 years

Originally posted on Quartz:

After years of pushing for its currency to gain acceptance to a prestigious International Monetary Fund currency basket, China has decided that it would rather use the yuan to boost its economy after all.

That’s the decision it made today (Aug. 11) when the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) devalued the yuan by 1.9% against the dollar, its biggest drop on record. The yuan fell to 6.32 against the dollar by early afternoon in China, from 6.21 on Monday, marking a three-year low for the currency.

The move was unexpected, but the motivations behind it are well-known. A general slowdown in China’s economy was compounded by a 8.3% fall in exports in July from a year earlier, with shipments to Japan and the European Union dropping by double-digit figures. A cheaper yuan will help make exports more attractive.

The yuan had begun to look comparatively expensive against other Asian currencies as the PBOC supported the currency’s value while China’s…

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Scientists discover an unexpected natural hangover cure that actually works

Originally posted on Quartz:

There is no shortage of alleged hangover cures, but now science is actually backing one up.

Australia’s national science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (“CSIRO”), announced last month on its blog that in its research with Horticulture Innovation Australia, it made an unlikely discovery. Pears, in addition to lowering cholesterol, relieving constipation, and reducing inflammation, can also lower alcohol levels, preventing hangovers before they even start.

If consumed in advance of the alcohol, pears, and specifically Korean pear juice, the researchers say, “significantly reduced” hangover symptoms compared to a placebo drink. The biggest impact was seen in the subjects’ ability to concentrate, says Professor Manny Noakes, the project’s lead researcher.

It works, Noakes explained, because the pears affect the enzymes involved in alcohol metabolism, helping the body metabolize and eliminate alcohol or even inhibit its absorption. “In particular, reductions were seen in blood acetaldehyde levels, the toxic metabolic thought to be responsible…

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Millions of Satellite Receivers are Low-Hanging Fruit for Botnets

Originally posted on Hackaday:

Satellite television is prevalent in Europe and Northern Africa. This is delivered through a Set Top Box (STB) which uses a card reader to decode the scrambled satellite signals. You need to buy a card if you want to watch. But you know how people like to get something for nothing. This is being exploited by hackers and the result is millions of these Set Top Boxes just waiting to form into botnets.

This was the topic of [Sofiane Talmat’s] talk at DEF CON 23. He also gave this talk earlier in the week at BlackHat and has published his slides (PDF).

stb-hardwareThe Hardware in Satellite receivers is running Linux. They use a card reader to pull in a Code Word (CW) which decodes the signal coming in through the satellite radio.

An entire black market has grown up around these Code Words. Instead of purchasing a valid card, people are…

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