Author: Shrutin Shetty

My Second Book – Main Batata Hoon

My recently published book, ‘Main Batata Hoon’, is now available in paperback and Kindle formats on most if not all regional Amazon sites around the world.

An aunt was so amused with the title, she said she couldn’t wait to read the stories themselves. I clarified that I had used all the humour in the moment on the title, and that the stories are more of the everyday variety. A bit amusing, but some also slightly serious.

 

In case you are wondering what the seemingly amusing title means; especially my foreign friends and connections,..
..In Hindi, depending on how it is pronounced, it translates to “I will tell you”, or that “I am a potato.”
It is a line I have used to get a laugh out of people from time to time, and it seemed to perfectly capture the underlying theme of counterintuitiveness of the stories.

You have probably heard the word ‘counter-intuitive’ a few times.

If you haven’t, or like me you aren’t exactly sure how to put it into context, here are some examples of counter-intuitiveness:

  • Some people assume that consuming alcohol will help fall asleep faster. In reality though, it affects your sleep patterns, worsening rather than improving sleep patterns.
  • When faced with a sudden tight deadline or exam preparations, most people jump right into the task, not wanting to waste any time on planning. However, spending a little time on planning usually improves your chances of finishing the task on time.
  • Or how you might assume that you get stronger soon as you start exercising, when in reality, you first get a bit weaker before you get stronger.

So now, what are the stories in the book about?

The book has about 56 short stories that bring your attention to different everyday counterintuitive realities that we are often oblivious to. And that affect our relationships, our investments, or environment, and our peace of mind.

And while you enjoy the conversational stories in the book, I also encourage you to use the counterintuitive ‘aha’ moments the stories might bring, to recognize and better deal with these situations in your life.

And more importantly, I am sure you will start noticing many more similar, amusing counterintuitive situations and behaviours in people and situations around you.

Do share some of them with me either here or if you know me and have my number, WhatsApp them to me.

I look forward to reading about your observations and experiences.

Get your copy here: link

A Possible Cause of Power Bank Fires

A power bank charging a mobile phone
A power bank charging a mobile phone. Pic: source

Given the random exploding or catching of fire of power banks on flights, airlines have either banned or restricted the carrying of power banks to hand luggage only.

According to an interesting article by Andrew Hirst in 2021, there were about 340 lithium battery related incidents on flights (presumably in the US only?) between January 2006 and August 2021.

I read a dozen or more random articles around this. Almost all of them ranged the causative factors from poor quality battery packs, to pressurized cabins on aircraft, to the possibility of the power bank getting dropped, damaged or crushed by luggage contents or by any heavy weight placed over them, as possible reasons.

However, I could not find one possibility on any of those articles.
Could users be plugging the power bank’s cord back into itself for convenience when traveling?

Based on the little reading I did on the matter, power banks have an operating range of around 3.7-4.2 Volts.
However, mobile phones need 5V to be charged. So when you plug your power bank to charge your phone, the power bank’s circuitry boosts that 3.7 odd Volts to 5V, also causing an energy-loss of 10-15%.

In theory, this also means that if you connected both ends of the cord to the power bank, while it would charge and discharge itself, due to the energy loss, it would discharge itself soon.

However, until that happens, I would assume that the 5V output voltage going back in the lower volt input, could cause its temperature to increase? Ever plugged a 120V product into a 240V outlet and seen smoke come out of the adapter?
Could that be a cause of the instances when power banks catch fire on flights? Perhaps in a work or home environment, users might not be as particular about the free end of the power cord as much as when they travel and would like the cord to still be with the power bank, wherever the their luggage the power bank might end up being shuffled around to.

Because if that is the case, it might simplify airline restrictions and checking to some extent, and the airline (and public service messages) could simply ask people not to plug both ends of the cord into the power bank when it is not in use.

Leopard 2 Tanks and the Irony

I can’t seem to get over the irony of how once upon a time, Russian tanks helped turn the fate of a world war against invading Germany..; to current times where multiple European countries are now sending German-made (Leopard 2) tanks to Ukraine to help save it from the invading Russians.
 
Somewhere between these two events, we humans forgot our history and lost the plot.
German Leopard 2 tank, image: source

On Seeking Advice

pensive grandmother and granddaughter having a conversation while cooking in the kitchenImage: source

When seeking advice, especially from someone you believe can offer great perspective, stick to gaining clarity on the big questions you need help figuring out.
The advice you receive is obviously for you to consider, not to blindly implement.
And especially not for you to defend when receiving it.

Clarify if you think something was misunderstood. I have observed a good number of people claim to seek advice, but the moment the people they seek advice from points out an improvement area, they try to defend it and start chatting about it.
That is usually the ego’s defenses kicking in, which is natural. However, when we try defending and chat about it, that distracts and diverts focus from that very aspect of our behaviour that we hope to improve on (and why we seek advice for).

When I seek advice, I consider the duration of the meeting or interaction as a time to be quiet.
Start with your most important question.
A good person to seek advice from would ideally ask you more questions for context before jumping to ‘advice’.
Counterintuitively, be wary of those who jump to advising with little knowledge about your context.

And every once in a way, you add more questions or course correct, if you feel the challenge you’ve sought help on has not been accurately understood or has been addressed incorrectly.

But apart from that, seeking advice should be about attentive listening, note-taking, and hopefully getting a new way to look at the challenge, and some ways to take a shot at it.

It should not be like a casual conversation with a friend just for the kicks of relieving the pressure or discomfort from it, though if you choose the people you seek advice from well, the conversation will have that effect on you as an incidental benefit.

Helmets from Scallop Shells

A lot of you probably love scallops?! [controls drool].

Now, imagine scallop shells that are thrown away after we’ve had the good stuff.

Then, imagine 40000 tons of scallop shells thrown away!
That is the quantity of discarded scallop shells the island of Hokkaido in Japan sees each year!

Just left there, the shells would contaminate the soil.

So a creative team from TBWA\Hakuhodo and an Osaka-based chemical company created great looking hardhats and cycling helmets using these shells.

And as part of the design, they retained the naturally ribbed shell structure; and realized it improves strength of the structure. By almost 30%!

Now I am not sure if 40000 tons is excessive consumption or not. Assuming it is not, such innovations are a welcome solution to a global ecological crisis.

But if it implies excessive consumption, it is a good reminder for all of us to do our bit – from moderate consumption, avoiding endangered species and the resulting unregulated fishing, and so on.
After all, there’s only so many hats and helmets one can buy.

Read about it in the article here.

A white helmet made from discarded scallop shells, against the backdrop of the ocean.
Image: TBWA\Hakuhodo

#scallop #shells #design #innovation #ecofriendly #ecodesign #product #helmet

Rest in Peace, Mr. R. K. Krishna Kumar

Padma Shri R. K. Krishna Kumar, Former Tata Sons Director, passed away yesterday. A key pillar of the Tata Group, and close confidante of Mr. Ratan Tata.

I once had the privilege of meeting Mr. Krishna Kumar at the Tata Sons office a few years ago; on a special request through someone. I had some views about Tata Motors strategy and some car designs, and simply wanted to share them with him. He was extremely humble, and patiently went through my report, shared a few views, and then offered to have the report sent to the then CEO of Tata Motors. It right after that meeting I also saw Mr. Ratan Tata for the first time ever.

Today, I heard another incredible story about the Tata stalwart, Mr. Krishna Kumar.

Apparently in the early 2000’s, Mr. Krishna Kumar visited Tata Memorial Hospital and was speaking to the Dean. He knew the patients were well cared for, but he saw a lot of patients who had come from out of town to consult a doctor. And he wondered what they might be doing for lunch. He asked the Dean roughly how many patients visit the hospital for consultations each day.

300!

It seems from the very next day, to this day, there is good quality food available for 300 patients who visit the hospital each day for a consult.

In an age where ‘business=monetize’, and non-profits tend to deploy funds in areas that maximize optics, greats like Mr. Krishna Kumar and the Tata Group show us that there was a better way to work and to live. A more respectable way.

Rest in peace, Mr. Krishna Kumar.

Read a bit about his life here: https://www.livemint.com/news/india/tata-veteran-krishna-kumar-dies-11672597446130.html

Earth vs Jeff’s Trillion

When the population of animals or insects in a region grows substantially and causes damage, we call it an infestation.

Yet we humans have never looked at it the same way when it comes to ourselves, on how we grow and expand to displace and occupy forests, oceans, plant and animal territory.

And that concern is worsened multi-fold when public figures like Jeff Bezos say things like he did around 2018, that someday ‘a trillion people will live in space, there will be “a thousand Einsteins and a thousand Mozarts” and we’ll develop other planets, leaving Earth a beautiful place to be’, that isn’t coming from a place of need-based expansion, but rather a fascinating-sounding image to sell tickets on his spaceship.

Because then us common mortals start seeing the planet like we do an existing, well-functioning phone, when someone we admire gives us a preview of a fancy, upcoming phone. Our reaction is often reflected in what I call a ‘rolled model’ (as opposed to a role model).

We are suddenly even less careful with our phone. We don’t mind if it falls a few times, or if something we placed on it risks scratching the screen or leaking onto it.

Because someone we admire gave us a preview of what our world and life would be, with that upcoming new phone.

So what if that person we admire actually sells phones. So what if we are suddenly alright with our current phone getting damaged.

We are simply fixated on the possibilities of the new.

Only, in the case of the planet, the intention of the likes of Musk and Bezos is simply to sell tickets to space. But the effect of such previews don’t just influence our actions to affect our phone, but influence and magnify the damage we cause to the blue dot that’s home to a lot more than just us.

Here’s a very interesting article: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20220905-is-the-world-overpopulated

#earth #population #ecologicalbreakdown #space #balance

Product Design should factor Human Forgetfulness

Product design should factor for human forgetfulness where possible.

This is a picture of the detergent tray from a leading brand, top-loading washing machine.

The hole in the tray is where detergent, mixed with water, drips into the drum during a wash cycle.

However, when the tray is opened to fill detergent, you notice it slopes downward.

This is understandable from a manufacturer’s perspective, the reason for the downward slope of the open tray intended to prevent any liquid or diluted detergent dripping into the drum before the cycle has begun.

However, from the user’s perspective, it also means that if a user forgets to shut the tray, it will fill with water, but mostly likely won’t drip through the outlet, as you can see in this case where, shortly after starting the cycle, it was realized and shut.

And forgetting to close the tray can be a very likely possibility in the hurried world we live in. It would involve an extra wash cycle after one realizes. And more water wasted, to get the job done.

A less desirable workaround solution could involve a sensor check that alerts the user of an open tray.
A intuitive workaround could be where the tray tilts forward (instead of backward), and the outlet is placed on the lower end, and only opens during a cycle and not before. So as not to inconvenience the user.

After all, aren’t machines supposed to be designed to make human lives more efficient?

#product #design #behaviour

An Indian Survivorship Bias Example

Many of you must have seen that drawing of a World War II plane with red dots on it.

It explains Survivorship bias, a bias that statistician Abraham Wald figured out.

Pic: source

Simply put, survivor bias is our tendency to view a situation or pattern as a comprehensive representative sample, often without considering what might be missing from that picture.

For instance, the WWII plane with red dots was a study Wald and his team carried out to determine which parts of returning Allied jets were hit the most by enemy gunfire, so as to reinforce those parts and make them stronger.

It was then that Wald realized that those parts were actually stronger, as all those jets had made it back to base safely. So instead, they focused on reinforcing the other parts, since clearly jets hit on other weaker sections never survived to tell their side of the story.

In India, there has been a belief among many of the older folk that children or people with big/long ears live a longer life, compared to those with smaller ears.

Interestingly, while most of our body shrinks with age, our nose, earlobes and ear muscles keep growing. Which means our elders had the concept backwards.

It was not that those born with bigger ears lived longer. But rather that those who lived longer, had ears that simply had a longer time to keep growing, and are therefore, relatively bigger in size.

#behaviour #behavior #bias #behaviouralscience #behavioralscience