Monday, August 27, 2012

Butterfly / Bush / (Whacked) - IMRAN™

I'll have to learn Spanish just to make the landscapers stop chopping off my Butterfly Bushes during hedge trimming. They did it twice this year but I managed to save the bushes the most recent time.

There was still enough time for them to bloom again, rising to about 9 feet, though much less than the 12-15' high they had gotten mid-summer. An amazing growth considering I planted these a dozen years ago, and each was less than one foot tall.

Like all past years, this weekend the butterflies again came out in force, even three at a time on each flowering branch. All peacefully savoring nature's bounty, while their wings showed scars of surviving encounters with predators.

My downstairs deck is filled with the sweet aroma of the bushes, and the dazzling colors of these lovely winged creatures, including a stunning midnight blue one that got away before the Nikon could capture it in a net of photons and electrons. Maybe next time!

© 2012 IMRAN

Friday, August 24, 2012

Blind Emulation Of Industries Like Technology & Entertainment Can Kill Pharma Firms & People!

McKinsey Quarterly, a business and strategy  journal I respect and enjoy reading, did a recent article "Pharma manufacturing for a new era: The sector can restore lost value by focusing intently on manufacturing innovation." This was one that I found logical sounding, but also found difficult to completely agree with.

It is an interesting analysis of what pharmaceutical industry players need to do, to be more like other big industries, in manufacturing operations. But therein lies the rub… pharma cannot completely be like other industries. The writers give examples of how it can learn from archetypical firms like Intel and Disney…. and the steelmaker, Nucor, which left me completely amazed.

Pharmaceutical firms face existential threats not because they do not have cool manufacturing plants like Intel, but when they spend billions in what can sometimes be nothing more than a scientific educated gamble. They can come up with something that "seems to work OK" and  then be denied the right to sell the resulting product -- as it may have side-effects no one can predict -- because the ultimate recipient, the human body, is still such a mystery. 

Keep in mind, I am no defender of pharma, much less any big industry. But, I want them to get a fair shake. Like many industries that get too big, and can (seem to) make "obscene" profits in the eyes of people, pharma gets the worse of both words compared to banking, oil companies, etc.

On the one hand people accuse them of exploiting suffering and on the other hand complain about the lack of more blockbuster drugs. That is not even counting the conspiracy theorists and others who suggest governments and pharma companies conspire to sit on cures for things like cancer "to make more money." {How NOT selling a cure and sitting on it makes more money they are unable to explain}.

We want firms to fund billions in research at their own risk, but ask them to throw it away the minute one patient in a trial dies of a heart attack (as happened just this week with a major drug trial). We put them through onerous processes that can take years, if not decades, then we complain about the time to market for new drugs. We look the other way when they lose billions on a failed drug, but then complain when they finally make a profit on something that (seems to) work… at least until some unknown side-effect pops up years later.

Much that we like Utopian ideals of only launching drugs that have no side-effects, and cost very little, we cannot forget that we live in the real world.

Intel can design a new version of a chip, usually based on an existing architecture, or even a new one entirely, but most likely targeted at one of its usual areas… e.g. CPUs for PCs, or cell phones. Pharma does not have the luxury of saying, we will keep redesigning and launching new versions of a drug every 90 days going after the same sore-throat market as the existing product.

Intel can decide to enter a new industry, say, chips for car entertainment systems, but using almost all the same core knowledge, with the same known laws of physics, electronics engineering and manufacturing, that they use for their other chips. Even if they decide to go into some new type of ASIC (application specific integrated circuit), they can use existing knowledge, skills, processes, people, manufacturing and some levels of innovation to quickly bring the chip to market, seed it to OEMs, see how it works, and go back to designing the next version improving on the last one. They do not have to wait for a trial of 100,000 devices over 2-5 years while they await approval from a government authority (like the FDA in USA) before they can actually "launch" or monetize the product. 

The writers' giving the example of Disney in a discussion on pharmaceuticals left me even more puzzled. Yes, DIsney went from a movies-based business into an entertainment conglomerate, but how does that relate to pharmaceutical manufacturing? Should pharma firms start selling soda, chocolates and cigarettes to move from being a medicine-based business to a "conglomerate of products that go down people's throats"?

The final comparison the article above makes is to the steel industry, mentioning Nucor. I am sorry, but which one of us would like to have our medicines, that go into our mouths, stomachs, hearts, brains, and bloodstreams, be made by pharma companies that somehow emulate (no disrespect to steelworkers) the steel industry!?

Yes, pharma firms need to focus more on strategy (all industries do), and learn from every other industry what makes sense to learn and emulate. Yes, they need more innovation (all industries do). Yes, we all know, almost any known product or manufacturing process in the world can be improved. NO, you cannot emulate Disney, Intel and Nucor to somehow become more successful in creating, manufacturing, and delivering safe, reliable, inexpensive, drugs that will win approval, of authorities, doctors and the rest of us.

Such blind emulation of other industries like Technology, Steel & Entertainment can kill not just the Pharma industry, but real people, like us!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Summer/Night/City - IMRAN™

Nothing better than Times Square, Manhattan, the heart of New York City, the city at the center of the Universe, to feel, breathe, savor and live the energy of a summer weekend at midnight which one of my favorite ABBA songs refers to. Handheld panorama stitched from 38 photos is the size of a 36MP image. See larger to see individuals, faces, expressions, even folds in fabrics, as people dance to the internal beat, of Summer/Night/City. - © IMRAN
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Friday, August 17, 2012

Reason #1 That I Don't Get Anything Done! Life Is A Beach! - IMRAN™

Life is neither a bed of roses, nor a day at the beach. As a matter of fact, as I took this photo with my iPhone 4S, with the late summer Atlantic rip tide churning near my feet, I was contemplative.

The weekend brought with it an unexpected twist, an unresolved challenge, but I am not one to let the challenges of life faze me. But, as I sat in the wet sand, the reddish summer dusk starting its moody glow over my shoulder, I realized how blessed I am, have been, and, God willing, will be, until it is my time to go.

I resolve to make the best use of my time, to achieve my potential, to find my true love, and to leave behind a legacy, of a life well lived, a love incredibly loved, a family to be proud of and that is proud of me.

In the meantime, there is never a moment that I do not want to waste the opportunity to play with words, to jest with life, to mock fate….

A twist on a "Wish You Were Here" card came to mind, especially as it gave me an excuse to make excuses for all the excuses I cannot make for all the things in life I need to get done, but procrastinate away the precious hours. :-)

Yet, for all that, there are moments, even hours and days, when there can be no better way to savor one's blessings than to do nothing but soak in God's gift all around all day, and then take a break!

All the best to you, all, my friends.

© 2012 IMRAN

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Can't Ration Passion - IMRAN™

I experienced something on Sunday that reminded me of the tenuousness of life. As Pakistan and its youth prepare to celebrate Independence Day, and as my friends, family and beloveds presence in my life shows me how blessed I am, here's  something I whipped v0.1 together to remind you….

Can't Ration Passion
by Imran Anwar

Live, with passion. Love, with passion.
Desire, with passion. Lust, with passion.
Dream, with passion. Pursue, with passion.
Rebel, with passion. March, with passion.
Freedom, with passion. Devotion, with passion.
Achieve, with passion. Sacrifice, with passion.
Until it is time to Die, with passion!

Live long, play hard, love madly, die happy! .... Can't Ration Passion!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Why Email Is Here To Stay, Whatever The Platform Or Interface

It is ironic, and a sign of the times, that the two most interesting discussions in my office email (with many colleagues far smarter than me!) AND on my personal FaceBook page (with many friends even more opinionated than me!) are both about Email, and whether its time has come and gone.

My prediction: Email is here to stay.  Here is why.

Everything has a time and place (and audience). Face to face, telephone, old fashioned hand-written letter, email, post, tweet, all have their uses and none of them really replace any of the others.  As a matter of fact, they complement each other. They enable us to build deeper relationships leveraging these micro-contacts even when we are time-constrained and distance challenged.

I am all for social media. I love interacting with many among the nearly 10,000 people following me on Twitter ( if you’d like to connect), and nearly 10,000 more on FaceBook and Flickr. But it would be highly impractical to pull all of them  into my “real” Address Book or inundate my EMAIL Inbox.  The ones who become important to me on social networks are “upgraded” (or as they become real friends, colleagues, associates) to communicate with me via my “real email.”

BUT, here is something I like to point out to people who wonder if Social Media somehow will be a replacement for EMAIL? No!

What they are talking about is simply exchanging emails in much less robust, far less searchable, far less open, and far less secure, proprietary platforms of social media firms than traditional email systems.

Here is what that means….

We do not hold discussions with clients (or even personal family members) in newsgroups or mailing lists. We interact with them usually in one-to-one exchanges of messages sent in “electronic” “mail” called “EMAIL”.

The irony is that the “one on one” communications that takes place on Social Media (FaceBook, Flickr, you name it) is in one-to-one exchanges of messages just like traditional web-based email, that are exchanged out of the public eye, not on the Wall, not in the Timeline, not on a stream, but in specific areas, e.g. called Messages. And with far less flexibility, accessibility, security, or manageability. 

In other words, using  social media to “replace” Email simply means sending private "messages" on their platforms, simply email by another name!

Social media firms know email is, and likely will, remain the most used mechanism for one-to-one exchanges…. with the flexibility of multimedia multimodal multiple-use that even telephone calls do not offer.  

FaceBook is even more obvious in showing its recognition of this fact, by forcibly inserting as your default EMAIL address in the About > Contact Info page, until there was a huge outcry about it. Trust them to go back on their word… Even today they have NOT "fixed" the problem as they promised and most people's pages still show addresses.

Even worse, for those of you daring enough to place their entire (email) stock in a social network, think about this…

You post something that FaceBook deems inappropriate, or if you send out 20 invitations to people and 10 are not accepted, the clerical-gods of FaceBook (and other networks too) may strike you with e-Lightning and cancel your account. If that happens, good luck recovering your email, or any of your content, from there.

With traditional email providers, even if, say, Yahoo shuts down one day (sorry, Marissa!), Hotmail migrates to, Gmail spying gets too intrusive, you can still easily drag your emails onto another provider/server/account/computer/device. You still “own” or have far greater control over your emails/messages in these “legacy” email approaches than you do, or likely will, in the social media sites’ Messages boxes.

The tragedy of “regular” email is that many great discussions like the ones I mention above, including those with actual knowledge transfers from smart people answering questions, are lost in email folders’ deep recesses forever. Mail apps and operating systems like Windows and OS X are getting better at helping us "spotlight" what we need to find, but it can still be a pain, especially in corporate mailboxes. Sometimes you can have 200+ email messages with the same keywords mentioned and poorly written subject lines (a pet peeve of mine) making it next to impossible to find THE particular email you are looking for with the answer to that complex question someone had answered 3 months ago.

In my humble opinion, detailed technical topics, with specific questions asked and many valuable replies sent (that are the majority of traffic on most companies internal email discussions) would be so much more effective, less intrusive, and more useful to others later, if they were held on suitably tailored Microsoft SharePoint or Wiki type collaboration platforms. So, yes, for that email is not the right tool. And the unnecessary traffic (plus resultant bloated mailboxes with each reply-all containing the last dozens of emails in each discussion, in every instance of each message, in all of our mailboxes!) give rise to the type of very discussion my Enterprise Architect colleagues are having. 

When, over time, we are able to influence people to use collaboration tools where appropriate, social/mobile media (Yammer/Twitter/Lync/SMS) as practical or needed, somehow overcome a propensity to hit Reply-All on almost every email (another pet peeve ;-) ), get in the habit of writing better Subject lines (PLEASE, You can do better Subject lines than "Doc attached" or "Here it is" or the dreaded "RE:" !!), learn to judiciously delete previous body text not relevant or required, many of the reasons we complain about email would be reduced. 

So, yes, it may shift platforms, take on new interfaces, become more “intelligent”, but Email is here to stay, regardless of what platform we exchange it on…..

What do you think? Email me! 


Imran Anwar is a New York based Pakistani-American entrepreneur, Internet pioneer, inventor, writer and TV personality. His day job is with the world's best software company, but these opinions are his and his alone. He can be reached through his web site . You can follow him on Twitter at

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Leaving A Mark On The Sands Of Time - IMRAN™

Another Hidden Gem Of Eastern Long Island, New York.

A beautiful day to enjoy beautiful company riding on my motorcycle in beautiful weather to a beautiful beach on the Great Peconic Bay, near Southampton, for a beautiful afternoon and later a very special sunset and late evening on the beach, leaving my mark in the soft beautiful folds of nature, on the sands of time, as the day died a little death, as the night silently came roaring to life.
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Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Simply Spectacularly Stunning Sunset At Home

Simply Spectacularly Stunning Sunset At Home NY.

Light layers of clouds without overly heavy cloud cover to the Western horizon almost always ensure beautiful sunsets and gorgeous dusks at my home. Because of torrential rains the previous night, the air was so clear that the sky became brilliantly blue as a backdrop for the shocking pinks.

This dusk was so stunning I did not even make it to the beach and just stayed at the marina dock soaking in this scene.

Handheld photos stitched into a panorama, shown here in low resolution. IMG_6930
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Monday, August 06, 2012

Sun Settles On Seattle Scene - IMRAN™

I finally made it to Seattle Washington (after lots of time in Bellevue and Redmond the last 2 trips).

I had a great time walking Alki Beach Park with a friend, and we had a great dinner at Cactus. My special thanks to the beautiful young lady at the front desk, with gorgeous eyes, who took my friend and me to the top of the long wait list. :-)

As my friend and I walked along the water of Alki Beach Park, the beautiful Sunday was coming to an end. The street vendors at a small fair type event going on there were wrapping up.

A cool nip in the summer air surprised us but I had to stop to capture some photos with my Canon Vixia HD camcorder's built-in camera. It could not match what my Nikon D300 would have captured, but, it was the only camera I had carried with me on this trip.

The tendril like branches of a tree framing the scene…. the layers of mountains under layers of clouds under layers of colors looking like a painting…

So I went with that effect in Photoshop… calling this picture, Sun Settles On Seattle Scene.

© 2012 IMRAN
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Saturday, August 04, 2012

Seattle/Music/Scene - IMRAN™

Seattle/Music/Scene. Redmond Town Center Washington, Unknown Band Plays Well.
Check it out, short clip, great sounding group. Anyone know who they are?

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Earth, Wind & Fire (On The Water) - IMRAN™

Back home after a travel filled weekend and whole month, I stand on a Smith Point Beach deck right now to soak in this beautiful NY summer day languidly melting into the night.

The moist fertile land, in heat, from the strong demanding glare of the sun, opens itself to the cool breezy evening that drops in to seduce it and wrap it into the satin sheets of night.

Shades of passionate pink pastel drip longingly from the sky, now arousing nature, which starts to sing the sounds of night, then thrilling the hungry deep dark blue openness beneath blushing red…. engorged on the fiery heat of the hot sun, and laps up the pearly and pink colors dripping from the heaven above….. until all three, sated, spent, smiling, meld and melt into a tender triple embrace through the long longing night, while the moon, quietly, silently, stands to one side, with the seductive pull of a voyeur, so near, and yet so far…..

© 2012 IMRAN

Title refers to a music group, Earth, Wind And Fire, as well as a song by Chris de Burgh, Fire On The Water. iPhone 4S photo, brightened and framed in Photoshop.