Friday, December 30, 2011

Twitter Cricket Hashtags : Calling for a standard

Writing this with the overwhelming Sri Lankan victory yesterday against South Africa - The first test win after like one and half years. Increasingly the cricket updates in Twitter is becoming interesting and is a perfect way to keep updated on the match while you are on the move. Like my friend  told me Twitter is a real fun way of following cricket because of all the hilarious comments.

Before i get in to the real call

What is Twitter?
Is a social network like Facebook (Second in popularity only to Facebook) based on text updates of 140 characters (Imagine a public SMS system). For more watch this video on Youtube.



What is a hashtag in Twitter?
The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages. Read

How you can track a match in Twitter is by following the match hashtag usually with the format countryVcountry. For e.g. #AUSvIND for Australia vs India or #SAvSL for South Africa vs. Sri Lanka.

There are two major confusions in Cricket hastags - 


1. Which country first
The problem arises when one countires' cricket fans put their country code first and the other country does the other way.

For e.g. Pakistanis tweet #PAKvIND and Indians Tweet #INDvPAK, The Sri Lankans (Always trying to make a balance between the two) tweet with both #PAKvIND &  #INDvPAK so both countries fans will read. This happens in every country in every match.

For this I recommend going in Alphabetical order. No matter how big

2. Just "V" or "VS"
Other confusion is whether to use VS or only V between the two country codes. For e.g. Some tweet #SAvSL while some tweet with #SAvsSL. Here I recommend using only one V, since it saves a character and time typing another letter S.

According to the above - The final hashtags to be used will be (Please ignore page formatting)

Country Australia Bangladesh England India New Zealand Pakistan South Africa Sri Lanka West Indies Zimbabwe
 AustraliaAUSvBANAUSvENGAUSvINDAUSvNZAUSvPAKAUSvSAAUSvSLAUSvWIAUSvZIM
 BangladeshAUSvBANBANvENGBANvINDBANvNZBANvPAKBANvSABANvSLBANvWIBANvZIM
 EnglandAUSvENGBANvENGENGvINDENGvNZENGvPAKENGvSAENGvSLENGvWIENGvZIM
 IndiaAUSvINDBANvINDENGvINDINDvNZINDvPAKINDvSAINDvSLINDvWIINDvZIM
 New ZealandAUSvNZBANvNZENGvNZINDvNZNZvPAKNZvSANZvSLNZvWINZvZIM
 PakistanAUSvPAKBANvPAKENGvPAKINDvPAKNZvPAKPAKvSAPAKvSLPAKvWIPAKvZIM
 South AfricaAUSvSABANvSAENGvSAINDvSANZvSAPAKvSASAvSLSAvWISAvZIM
 Sri LankaAUSvSLBANvSLENGvSLINDvSLNZvSLPAKvSLSAvSLSLvWISLvZIM
 West IndiesAUSvWIBANvWIENGvWIINDvWINZvWIPAKvWISAvWISLvWIWIvZIM
 ZimbabweAUSvZIMBANvZIMENGvZIMINDvZIMNZvZIMPAKvZIMSAvZIMSLvZIMWIvZIM

But we need to find a way to communicate this standards to all Cricket fans. Please comment below with your ideas.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Best Credit Card in Sri Lanka - Whats best for you?

What is the best credit card in Sri Lanka? - HSBC, Sampath, HNB, COM or BOC? - None of them. Yes you read it right. Like i said in my post about best banks in Sri Lanka it depends on your needs and wants.

Brief History of Credit Cards in Sri Lanka
In the past the unarguable market leader was HSBC. They were the first to enter the business and the first to position as an  offers galore. AMEX and Standard Chartered were playing an up market game which no one won. But in the years to come - credit cards became an essential part of personal banking. hence all private banks started issuing credit cards and accumulating offers. At the moment Sampath and Commercial banks are doing quite well. And is giving a strong fight to HSBC market share. Final to enter the scene were the state banks. BOC is doing extremely well. Peoples bank just started and might prove successful with the low end - high quantity market.



What is a credit card?
Silly question, but people are having this wrong impression thinking a credit card is for online transactions. It is wrong. In basic terms asd the name suggests "Credit" - it is cash in advance on a plastic card, which you need to pay later (Usually within a month). Imagine you got a small loan, the size of your salary that you need to pay the coming month - Thats what a credit card is. How it differentiates from a ATM (Debit) card is that debit card is prepaid - And credit card is post paid.
I hope now you understand the risk - If you use the credit card heavily - you have to pay back the coming month and you might go to a level where you live totally on credit (Scary!). Hence i always suggest use it sensibly.

Factors to consider when choosing your credit card

  1. Purpose - You might be wanting to do only online payments. In that case the Sampath web card is a better solution. I recommend using a credit card for following purposes - 
    • Not wanting to carry cash (Can't use debit cards in all places,specially abroad) In this case go for a card thats accepted worldwide, usually VISA and Master both are accepted worldwide but there can be places where VISA is preffered. In Sri Lanka ive seen many small shops accept VISA and not Master. So VISA can be recommended in Sri Lanka.
    • You want to save by going for offers (If this is the primary purpose - See no.3 factor)
    • Emergencies (When you need extra cash in advance - For example when you are sick)
  2. Cost of the credit card
    • Includes joining fee, annual fee and interest rate (Usually the same for most banks). But heard cards like AMEX are quite expensive. And make sure they don't have hidden charges.
  3. Type of offers you are looking for
    • This totally depends on your taste. For e.g. Take shopping. If you are high class you might shop at places like ODEL, Romafour (Reminds me of my secret santa) like places. But if you are down to earth you might be comfortable with NOLIMIT or CIB like places. Some high end credit cards like AMEX, Std Chtd will offer this high end places and normal credit cards like Sampath or BOC will offer low end places. So go for what you want. For this - Go through some of the offers they have given in the past. Same with food joints and other products. Go for what type you want. In case you are hybrid - Having two cards cost you only Rs.1000-1500 annually. 
I haven't used all cards. So feel free to share your experiences on credit cards and what you recommend.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Metered Tuk Tuks in Sri Lanka - Opportunities & Threats (A SWOT Analysis)

Got the chance to have a chat with a tuk tuk driver from "Budget Taxi" company who had been with the service for a long time. Following is a brief situation analysis of such a company gathered from his words about the history and from what i learnt from customers of the service (Special thanks to Hasitha ayya - who shared his experience in using metered tuks) - The post is for the benefit of entrepreneurs in taxi business, for customers and business/marketing students like you and me to know.



Apparently the metered three wheel services had started about 3 years back. At that time which was only a differentiation factor from "badly looked upon" normal three wheelers. After that the "on call" tuk tuk companies started forming like Taxi services in the past Sri Lanka (There was a joke in a paper so many years back that if you dialled any pattern in a Sri Lankan phone - a taxi will come to you).


Strengths

  • This company "Budget taxi" has build a very sustainable customer segment who travels daily. The driver said there are people who goes to office, travel during office hours, come home, go around for home needs all in the same tuk tuk. This is the biggest strength of the service as it protects the business,assures survival and creates growth specially by word of mouth marketing.
  • Pricing model - is a big strength as it is a key factor when differentiating their service as compared below with the normal three wheel pricing mechanism (Bit of humour).
Weaknesses

  • The current technology used to track tuk tuks is beneficial to the drivers side as he can switch off location tracking and go on private hires. This happened to me where i called the service & there was no tuk tuk but on the road i could find one who had switched off location tracking.
  • No geographical presence is a weakness because you cannot find a taxi instantly. 
Opportunities
  • Well seriously the economy is improving and the people are ready to spend on luxuries after the war. Living standards are increasing and thus people prefer to travel by tuks than in the past.  
  • Technological advancements have enabled tuk tuks to have meters, have location tracking (Even manual tracking). But the advancements are great that companies can go for better technologies such as GPS tracking of tuk tuks. Even the customer end can be improved by better CRM systems such as an improved Taxico android app.
Threats 
  • There are low cost cars like NANOs coming to the market, making travel by car less costly. And this can effect the appeal for tuk tuks. (Apparently NANO is only about Rs.10 more expensive).
  • Threat of new entrance is very high. Already there are half a dozen tuk tuk services with the key word Budget, For e.g.Budget Lanka, Budget Three wheel.etc.
  • Threat from the non-metered three wheels are very high as they are high in quantity and strong with their associations and influential networks.
Overall - It is a booming market as @vidic8d tweeted - NANO is already increasing their prices which means more profits for companies like Budget Taxi. On the other hand the market is becoming fragmented and it is tough to battle out.

Recommendations
It is recommended to move on to better technologies for tracking location and to come up with offices (Geographical service points) to fight normal three wheel services better.

Please feel free to comment below with your ideas and your points to be added to the SWOT. I will update the post with your name.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Siam House Thai : Restaurants in Sri Lanka

Had a good time yesterday - and thought of sharing it for anyone who wants a good dinner out.

Located in Melbourne Ave - Bambalapitya (The sea side road infront of St.Pauls girls school), place is really accessible both from Galle Road and Marine drive (Check the map below) and has lots of parking. Very peaceful place - We were always wondering whether we are being too loud. So if you want the "shout out party dinner" i would better recommend a more casual place like Dinemor.

Food is really good - has loads of varieties. I checked out the Foursquare recommendations - But one of them (The boneless crab curry) wasn't that good - Maybe it was over fried. Cashew salad is superb. Totally out of the place - Try it. The red chicken curry is good if you don't want to risk your dinner by trying new dishes.


The rice portions are very large. Usually enough for 4-5 people - so be careful when ordering. The staff is nice. But the serving is very late. In a way it serves the purpose in getting you more time to chat and relax. There is WIFI - Just saw on their web site. Couldn't use it.

Prices - I don't have a clear idea since i was invited and i didn't pay for it. But from comments i guess it's not so cheap. But not out of the world expensive also. I would say value for money.

Overall 8/10 - for a peaceful dinner out.




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