Friday, December 31, 2004

2005

The first mail I received this new year from my friend read:

WISH YOU

H ours of happy times with friends and family
A bundant time for relaxation
P rosperity
P lenty of love when you need it the most
Y outhful excitement at lifes simple pleasures

N ights of restful slumber (dont' worry be happy)
E verything you need
W ishing you love and light

Y ears and years of good health
E njoyment and mirth
A ngels to watch over you
R embrances of a happy years!

Happy New Year 2005

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Content Filtering with AdBlock

The Adblock project has all it takes to be crowned the "Revenue Killer" on the web for the sole reason that it has the ability to filter elements at the source address. So everytime a page loads, Adblock intervenes and then disables the items that have been added to your filter.

Now, that should make the whole process of a page load slightly faster, and it relieves us of a LOT of ADs. And yes, if you decide to block out 'certain elements', then the big-G begins to lose money too, for a major revenue for the big-G comes now through it's AdSense program. I decided to install this extension and give it a try. The filter that I added was /http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js/

The results are here:



Screenshot of the page with Adblock DISABLED



Screenshot of the page with Adblock ENABLED

I have uninstalled Adblock, for the Google Adsense has never been any botheration to me, but ...
What NOW?

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Every Effort Counts

The devastation that has been caused by this Tsunami is heart-gripping. The death toll just keeps on mounting and in force is one of the world's largest relief effort. If there's any way you can help, please do.



Any explanations?

It is true that India has not witnessed a Tsunami for over a hundred years, and this Black Sunday it took all by a shock. But still, how will they explain this?

‘‘Tsunamis are never recorded in Indian history, so it did not occur to us,’’ said R S Dattatrayam, director seismology at IMD, who arrived after 8.30 am to the station after being informed. ‘‘I don’t recall the exact sequence of events.’’

Black or White?

I am on Page # 49 and am yet to make any sense out of this reading so far.

Google putting Libraries Online

Recently came across this comic strip: Foxtrot from Bill Amend



Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Spare a moment

The number of casualties just keeps rising, in thousands. These numbers are just shuddering. Please, take a moment to pray for all who couldn't survive this terrible disaster and also for all those who are still missing.

CERNET2: China's IPv6 Network

This Sunday China's first IPv6 network formally came into operation. The China Education and Research Network is now the world's biggest next generation Internet network in operation connecting 25 universities in 20 cities.

The backbone network reaches speeds of 2.5 to 10 gigabits per second and connects the universities at 1 to 10 gigabits per second, with
a trial on CERNET2 between Beijing and Tianjin on December 7 achieving a speed of 40 gigabits per second, the highest in the world in real applications.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Sensex hits 6500

Celebrations for the new year have already begun for some. The 30 share Bombay Stock Exchange sensex ended over 6500 for the first time today closing at 6,513.03, while reaching a maximum of 6,566.64.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Google Cafe

Somewhere...

Google Cafe
Image source: Devnotes

Higher education in India

The status of higher education in India has always remained a debatable issue, an issue that has always intrigued some of the best policy makers and administrators in the country.

Ancient India had been a world renowned centre of learning. Universities at Nalanda and Takshashila had students who came from across the continents to come and study. But somewhere down the line, perhaps with changing social and economical aspects in the country, the quality of education in the country deteriorated. It is true that present day India can boast of some elite institutions in the field of technology, art and design. But if we were to see the country as a whole, the situation emerges out bleak.

Some of the countries best universities today face a crisis. A crisis that involves funding, faculty shortage, bureaucratic issues and ever so inexplicably, political interventions. Immediately after independence, the Government of India decided to establish certain institutions that would impart specialized education in the field of technology and promote research. It is this that lead to the birth of the Indian Institutes of Technology and later the Indian Institutes of Management, two brand names, two revered institutions. But then with this, where we faltered was our unilateral approach to education that came up with establishments of such institutions. The indifference towards the Universities in the country ultimately was to pay a heavy price. So while these institutions received all the autonomy and funding, other multi-disciplinary universities in the country struggled to maintain their high standards, with the burden of an ever increasing population, decreasing funds and an evident neglect from the government.

The perils are quite evident. One can witness a huge gap in the standards of education that people receive. Today everyone is of the opinion that India is lagging way behind when it comes to research. Now, what people do not realize that research is fostered in an environment where people with multidisciplinary interests meet and set about the task of creation. All of which is only possible in a University setup with faculties in various departments such as art, economics, technology, science, literature, law etc. It is only in such an environ that free exchange of ideas mitigates, a sense of dynamism drives the students, and a multilateral approach is developed not just towards problem solving but also problem creation.

The picture is not all rosy, but still situation isn't yet out of control. Things can still be rectified, only that we'll have to see if the Government still believes in its role as a regulator or as a promoter, because if every other day a bureaucrat goes about teaching an academician what should be taught and what not, then all this comes to nothing. Give more autonomy to the Universities, let them hike their fees, promote the members of the faculty as consultants to the industry, and spruce up the infrasture for most Universities presently cite outdated infrastructure as one major shortcoming. In my opinion, even if every state in the country decided to have one University that could truly proclaim to be out their with the nation's best, we would definitely be witness to the emergence of a stronger nation, powered by youth with multilateral approach, better equipped, driven by the motivation to earn a name for them and their country.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

10 Things about Blogs

In its recent issue, Time lists 10 things about blogging. The world of blogging did witness many colours this year- from being the #1 word on Merrim-Webster's list of most searched word to getting an air hostess fired. And yes, my blogging experiments too ;)

Radio had its golden age in the 1930s. In the 1950s, it was television's turn. Historians may well date the golden age of the blog from 2004—when Merriam-Webster.com's most searched-for definition was blog. How long can it last? Who knows? Here's what we discovered about the new medium this year

10 Things We Learned About Blogs

Friday, December 24, 2004

Should you trust Firefox

Recently, some questions were raised about security and Firefox.

...But the thing that makes me really not trust the browser is that it doesn't matter how secure the original code is if the typical usage pattern of the browser requires users to perform insecure actions.

·Installing Firefox requires downloading an unsigned binary from a random web server

·Installing unsigned extensions is the default action in the Extensions dialog

·There is no way to check the signature on downloaded program files

·There is no obvious way to turn off plug-ins once they are installed

·There is an easy way to bypass the "This might be a virus" dialog


Read: How can I trust Firefox?

Thursday, December 23, 2004

2004 Year End Google Zeitgeist

The 2004 Year end Google ZeitGeist is out. It lists the terms that were most sought after during the year 2004 on Google.

The most popular queries for the year were:

1. britney spears
2. paris hilton
3. christina aguilera
4. pamela anderson
5. chat
6. games
7. carmen electra
8. orlando bloom
9. harry potter
10. mp3

http://www.google.com/press/zeitgeist.html


Wednesday, December 22, 2004

AOL to offer free web mail

Come 2005 and you might find a new web mail offered by AOL. According to News.com, America Online is testing a new web mail service that would rival the likes of Yahoo!, Hotmail and GMail. The proposed service, which will offer 100 MB to users, will be available early nextyear for AOL subscribers and later for general public.

I however do not see why would someone flock to this 'AOL Mail on the Web.' I mean the only reason people migrated to GMail was because of the incredble 1GB that the big G had to offer, not to mention the email search that it provided. But with the 100 MB that AOL is providing and no 'excitingly unique' feature to boast of, I have absolutely no idea why would it make sense to have an account with AOL?

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

RFC Humour

If you thought that the RFC (Request for Comments) document series was just a set of very technical and organizational notes about the Internet, how about these?

  • RFC 968 Twas the night before start-up
  • RFC2324 Hyper Text Coffee Pot Control Protocol
  • RFC2795 The Infinite Monkey Protocol Suite (IMPS)
  • RFC2549 IP over Avian Carriers with Quality of Service


MMS rocks the country

Probably more is written and talked about a Multimedia Message (MMS) than on any other topic in the country at this moment. It just happens that a schoolboy films his girlfriend with a mobile phone camera, distributes the clip making a quick buck. Now an even more enterprising engineering student in a premier institute of the country decides to make some more money out of it and puts it up for auction at baazee.com, an eBay company.

As a result, topics such as 'erosion in values and discipline', morality, 'technology aftermaths' amongst the youth are debated everywhere in the country. The fellow who puts the clip online is picked up by the Police, the student who shot the clip is not only expelled from school but is also sent to an observation home and what not. All is fine till here. Now the Police decides that it must also put behind bars the CEO of the auction site.

So, a pesonwho actually calls up the police offering his help in the investigations earns an outing at Asia's famous jail. If only someone could explain me any logic behind this... Why arrest the man? I cant see one valid reason for arresting the CEO. The user agreement of the auction site clearly says that you can't trade in alcohol, drugs, antiques etc. and the things cannot be 'obscene or contain pornography'. Agreed that the transaction was not legal but you just can't put the CEO of an aution site behind bars just because the responsibility of the offence in this case lies with the consumers and nothing that could be termed unlawful has been done by the company.

It has somehow been a trend in the Indian system to come down heavily unjustifiably in certain cases. All thi san dmore when they simply turn a blind eye towards more atrocious activities that goes around them. It's high time that India has a rethink on whatever cyber laws that prevail in the country and then comes out with a more just and 'practical' system. Else, why not put the Aviation or Railways Minister in jail whenever there's a plane or train crash in the country.

Monday, December 20, 2004

This morning a question popped up in my head. "Should I discontinue this blog?"

Sunday, December 19, 2004

it has been a week!

Alright. I am back from a week of hibernation. Nothing new to post here for now except that the new semester starts in about two weeks time.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Firefox 10 Million

The headline on spreadfirefox.com reads: "Houston, We have ignition!"

Firefox downloads have touched 10 million. Yes, 7 zeros following 1. And this has been achieved in just a tad over a month. The world is on fire!


Firefox- 10 million downloads

Friday, December 10, 2004

A for Amazon. F for Firefox

That is a seemingly ridiculous title but that is what you get with the new tweak that Google has to offer.

Google Suggest tries to guess what the users actually may want to look for as they enter query in the search box. According to the FAQ section on the Google Labs site, a wide range of information is used by algorithms to predict what the users may be wishing to look for. This information, however, does not include personal search history.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The Da Vinci Code

Is it so difficult for people to actually understand that The Da Vinci Code is not all pure facts?

French fatigue over Da Vinci Code : Personal reflections by a BBC correspndent from Paris.

Monday, December 06, 2004

The key to Educational Success

According to a Stanford education expert,
Educators who want to improve academic achievement often focus on exciting new strategies for teaching reading and math. But without a basic atmosphere of trust—among teachers, principals, parents, and students—such reforms have little chance of success.
I recall the day a couple of years ago, when during the presentation of an end semester report on "Innovation, Academia, and India", my answer to a question on improving research standards at undergraduate level was trust.

Read: Trust, Not Pedagogy, May be the Key to Educational Success

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Design. Usability. Learning

At the end of my course, my Professor actually asked me the most obvious of questions. And I was like stunned. I dont know how was I supposed to put in certain laced words, my thoughts that would give him an idea of what I had 'learned' in my course dealing with usability, user centered design.

Rather unfortunate, the Professor isn't taking another course next semester.

Friday, December 03, 2004

MSN Spaces: No reasons to choose over Blogger

So just like the whole world was keen to try out the latest blogging tool from the Big-M, I too decided to set up a blog on MSN Spaces and found it to be pretty decent a blogging tool.

It didn't take a great deal of time to get started with the whole act of blogging with Spaces. In fact, in under less than 15 minutes, I was able to create and configure 'my space' on the web and post an entry on it too. And in that time I also changed the layout and theme of the blog (the fact that they have pathetically restricted options in this regard is a different thing though.) The service provides some very novel integaration options with other MSN sites to the user such as an integrated photo-album and music lists. Besides these, the most notable aspects are its ability to let you restrict access to your blog and also post through IM. Now that is something that gives this blogging service certain firsts.

However, as mentioned earlier, the layout leaves a lot to be desired and theme changes only allow to change the background colours. Perhaps this is one area where it might need some reconsiderations. And if they plan to allocate users a URL as lengthy as http://spaces.msn.com/members/xyzuser then it simply is not that bright an idea.

Spaces scores well on usability and as there always will remain a trade off between feature-stuffing and accessibility, the service is found wanting in many departments. But then, it is really very easy to get started with it, fairly simple to use and for a non blogger, a fantastic tool to get into blogging mode right away. So while I would not even contemplate about moving from Blogger to Spaces, I might recommend it to my sister.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Blog: #1 word of the year 2004

According to the list released by Merriam-Webster's, the four letter word 'blog' is declared the #1 Word of the Year for 2004 based on online lookups.
Blog noun [short for Weblog] (1999) : a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer
It seems that the word will now be incorporated in the 2005 version of the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

New Netscape

While the world was already test driving the prototype of new Netscape browser, I was busy preparing for my ongoing end semester examinations. Not that I was curiously waiting for this new hybrid thing from Netscape and I sincerely doubt if I would have wanted to download and try it out myself.

These screenshots by Henrik Gemal confirm my skepticism. I ain't ever going to download it!

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Can't help it

I am showing symptoms of a hyper-caffeinic existence. But then, there is not much I could do about it. With all that sleep I am losing out on, and the amount of coffee I am drinking, I couldn't have been hoping for anything else.

Got to burn midnight oil. It's the end-sem examinations.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Not all IE users chose it

eWeek.com reports that numbers released by OneStat.com showed Mozilla Foundation browsers share of global usage increasing to a 7.4 percent while that of IE's dropping by 5 percentage points to a tad under the magical 90 percent mark. Cheers for Firefox that has been chiefly responsible for this!

But I was left confounded by a quote appearing on News.com from Gary Schare who is Microsoft's director of product management for Windows:

I still believe in the end that most users will decide that IE is the best choice when they take into account all the factors that led them to choose IE in the first place," Schare said. "Meanwhile, we're happy that they're primarily (using Firefox) on Windows, and that Firefox is part of the large ecosystem of software products available on the Windows platform.
This left me with the question- "Did I chose it?" I never chose IE! I used IE for a very long time simply because it existed on my computer from day 1. I would say that is the issue with most of the current IE users. Some did choose IE (and still do so), as their preferred browser. But most others simply have no clue about the existence of other better browsers. And so, are we right in assuming that they *chose* IE? I am not quite sure.

(I just found out that Neil Turner has raised exactly the same point on his blog. Individuals with like minded thinking, I suppose.)

Software to detect fake art

Imaginative as it may sound, but a team of researchers at the DartMouth College in US have come up with a computational tool that could actually authenticate paintings and drawings.

A press release on Dartmouth News has:
Using high resolution digital images of drawings by Bruegel and some of his imitators, as well as a painting by Perugino, the computer scientists captured data about pen or pencil stroke patterns and other elements that represent an artist's style or aesthetic signature. This signature was then used to discover consistencies and inconsistencies within a single piece of artwork or among works by the same artist. The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) Online Early Edition during the week of Nov. 22-26, 2004.
Read: Dartmouth News - Researchers develop digital technique for art authentication - 11/22/04

Monday, November 22, 2004

Longest and Shortest

Something prompted me to look for certain English words and I found the following:

According to Guinness World Records,
- the shortest word In English with all five vowels is "eunoia" which means sometning like "beautiful thinking".
-
the longest English word consisting only of vowels is "euouae" which is a medieval music term.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

The sense of touch

In a few hours from now, I'll be giving a talk on 'The sense of touch" as a part of my humanities course. Here is how I plan to open:

Realizing the truth of our existence. Understanding the sense of true happiness. Praising the creation that is us. It is only touch that colligates us and these...

And unlike all other previous presentations of mine, I decided not to prepare any slideshow for it. I thought the audience would be able to connect with me better without it.

Wallop

Thanks to Pao, I finally got my wallop invitation. For those who aren't aware of wallop, it is a 'Yet Another Social Networking Service' from the stable of Microsoft. Presently more of a research program than a commercial service, wallop is trying to add two new dimensions to the realm of social networking- music sharing and blogging.

Wallop ScreenshotI haven't yet played around with it a lot but it looks real neat. My first impression: stunning interface! It is very intuitive to use for most of the functions with a very appealing layout all done in flash. The network tree on the left has all your contacts arranged as nodes giving a clear picture of how you're connected with them.

Besides the option to upload pictures and share music with others, it also provides a favourites section to bookmark text entries and pictures. You can also make RSS feeds of your wallop blog and use them externally or publish it as html on the web with a public url. And the most wonderful part, it also comes studded with a RSS reader to import RSS syndicated sites. However, it doesn't seem to have anything like a 'Community concept' like the one in services like Orkut.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Five Million...

The world is on fire!

In case you didn't notice, Firefox download count just crossed Five million.

Five million counter

By the way, it took more than a month for the Preview Release to hit the five million mark. This time though, it has been lightening fast.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Is Microsoft Crawling Google Results to Populate Its New Search Engine?

Jason Dowdell makes a compelling case describing the new 'tactic' adopted by MSN to beat Google at the Search Wars.
... [MSN] said they were going to begin crawling the entire web and doing it without charge. However, that's no easy task. So I believe MSN is using the results from Google and possibly even Yahoo to get all of the pages they've indexed on sites that have a relatively low page count in the current msn search engine.
If Microsoft is crawling Google results (I don't believe it!), then it makes me wonder why wouldn't the guys at Google take note of the huge number of hits coming from an obvious Microsoft IP!
Dear Conspiracy theorists, don those famous conspiracy hats.


Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Examination blues

It's examination season again. And updates on this blog will be sporadic for the next few days as I get into study mode ...

Ah! The joys of student life ;)

Monday, November 15, 2004

Imagine...a walled Web

Imagine a scenario where walls will be erected across the web limiting not just what you could search but also how much you could search. As MSN launched its search service recently, the new fight has highlighted a new speciality of the high-tech industry. Specualtions are being raised on issues on not just the future of 'search' but also on who gains the most from the immense riches it promises.

According to Don Park, the web will be divided into areas searchable only through specialized search services, dominated in part by alliances and affiliates. For instance, MSDN could be looked up only through MSN, Blogger blogs only through Google, and, Amazon only through A9. All the ingredients of making the current web transform into a segregated network!

However, I do not see any such thing happening. The notion of such a walled web would simply defeat the very purpose of search. The simple reason being that what advantage would Google see in letting Blogger bogs be seached only through its search service, and why would Microsoft restrict other search services to list MSDN pages?

Sunday, November 14, 2004

This is how Television ads should be

An hour watching television and one can't help but take notice of the plight of the Indian advertising industry. You wouldn't come across any interesting and eye catching television commercial just as creativity seems to have been thrown out of the window in quest of 'mass appeal'!

So when Tata Group's new Television commercial was released some days ago, it was a refreshing change. The advertisement is woven all around the group's core idea 'Live your values', the values being Faith, Skill, Partnership, Honesty, Teamwork, and Respect.

The commercial starts with a child walking towards his waiting friends followed by an intensely fought football match in rain, highlighting all the above mentioned values during the course of play. Togetherness, team spirit, right attitude and sportsmanship are all conveyed splendidly through the commercial.

Image courtesy: IndianTelevision.com

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Monday, November 08, 2004

Off for a week

Updates on this blog would not be possible for the next week as I'll be away. If everything goes as scheduled, I'll be back on the 15th of this month...

The human side of technology!

Preparing for my trip, I decided to load myself with some hard currency as my credit card alone can't help me drag on for long. So I rode on to this nearest ATM and waited for my turn as I found a gentleman with his 2 cute kids having a gala time with the machine. I would imagine the little boy would have checked his account balance atleast 10 times and withdrawn cash about 5-8 times. I had quite a bit of time to kill and so watched them toying aroud uncomplaining. And honestly, it all seemed very amusing. Reminded me of my first experience with an ATM!

RadialContext Extension for Firefox

Yesterday, I stumbled upon this neat little extension for Firefox called RadialContext which provides a hierarchial context pie menu for Firefox.

Now, as I had written in my earlier post on MileWideBack extension about Fitts' Law and target acquisition, it is known that popup pie-menus have significant advantages over traditional menus. Since a pie pops up whereever you click, you can move to the 'slice of the pie' you want in very small movements. So the time required to acquire the target is significantly reduced.



Just Right click and drag your mouse ever so slightly
in any of the eight directions. Then release.



Another advantage that pie menu has is that the direction information is remembered by the user. So it doesn't take long for you to get used to just 'RightClick + slightly move down and then release the mouse' to reload the page. (In fact, the user doesn't even need the display of the menu once he gets used to it!)

Get RadialContext for Firefox

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Firefox 9/11

Just around the corner, says Ben
We're still on track for a November 9 launch. It's going to be a long weekend...
This November 9th, the world will witness a new revolution, a new Force will rise.

Rich Internet apps and state informations

John Udell points out why Rich Internet Applications (RIA) have not yet become, what we call phenomenon on the web.
I argued that Gmail's aggressive use of DHTML qualifies it as a kind of RIA (rich Internet application). As e-mail correspondents and bloggers pointed out, the technique has a fairly long history. Many wonder why it remains on the fringe. The reason, I think, is partly a weakness common to all RIA technologies. Whether it's based on DHTML, Java, Flash, .Net, or just a standard GUI, an RIA has a client/server architecture. Unlike a Web application that manages state information almost entirely on the server, an RIA achieves a more balanced distribution of that information between server and client. The benefits that flow from this arrangement can include responsiveness, context preservation, and offline capability.
Web based software does provide a very important (and often neglected) strength in the form of state information being stored at the server side. From providing transient application continuity of a user's web experience to facilitating integration opportunities amongst various web applications, across various servers, it can all be accomplished with a standard Web-based architecture.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

India's first multi-lingual search engine

Anna University Chandrasekar (AU-KBC) Research Centre has come up with a India's first multi-lingual Internet Search engine, "Kazhugu". This search engine is capable of searching all the Tamil websites, irrespective of the different fonts they use. The research team is also planning to come out with search technology for other regional languages. The only hindrance they may face is in its marketing. With academia-industry relationship in India still at primitive stages of evolution, this is where most of the innovation in the country is curtailed.

Freedom of Expression?

Some days ago, as I was just about completing an assignment due the next morning, the Electronics club President barged into my room. Apparently he was furious on me for allowing an article with some not-so-positive remarks about the activities of the Club to be published in the campus newspaper. I tried explaining him the editorial policies, and stuff, but to no avail. He walked away infuriated...
Tell you what, atleast his term as some President is over!

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Champs or chumps?

It's after a long time that I am posting anything related to cricket. But the disastrous performance of India against the Australians has caused rampant criticism of the current Indian team from all quarters, the press, and the general public. Somehow all this seems too unfair to the people who fight it out in the middle.

What if the Final Frontier could not be defended. As Team India lies all battered and bruised at the hands of visiting Aussies, why have millions of cricket lovers donned their hats of critical analyzers and have come up with the unanimous verdict- Ganguly's men have failed them. Why is it that contempt is all what the public is throwing at 'its' team.

I seriously think our players deserve much better treatment than what they are being meted out. This is the same team that took India to the World Cup finals, the same team that stunned Australia, with the very same bunch of 'invincible' players, on their own soil, and tamed the Pakistanis in their own den. The Men in Blue have not played upto their full potential. But no one likes to underperform. The guys are out there giving it their best, and they are the best in their own rights. The day we question the ability of the Sachins , the Sauravs and the Dravids, I say, we better question our own sanity.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

A9 Toolbar: Now for fireFox too!

A9 , the search service from Amazon, has released a version of its Internet toolbar for Firefox. If you've read this earlier post of mine, you probably know why A9 is so much useful!

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Speeding up Adobe

This is simply awesome. I downloaded this neat package called Adobe Reader SpeedUp and it has resulted in my Adobe Acrobat's load time to a trifle few seconds.

It curtails those truckloads of plugins that Acrobat loads with it everytime, ones which I rarely or never require for the innocuous task of reading the pdfs. (One could always do it by pressing Shift while Acrobat loads but this is definitely a convenience.)

So, if you're one who can't do without Adobe Reader/Acrobat in this world, it's time you download this little program.

Adobe Reader SpeedUp
http://www.tnk-bootblock.co.uk

Saturday, October 30, 2004

.in for india

For those, including me, who always wished to have an Indian identity in their web addresses it's time to chalk out all P&Cs for the .in domain name of choice.

Beginning next year, Internet users and companies would be able to register .in domain names online, enabling increased traffic circulation within the country and faster download speeds, according to the Minister for IT and Communications, Mr Dayanidhi Maran.

Please suggest some whacky address where we may shift this blog to.

Seven million

If you didn't notice, Firefox download crossed SEVEN million.

Friday, October 29, 2004

A viable solution?

The past week I had written about the need for cheaper computing and Internet access devices for emerging and hugely potential markets like India. And when AMD launced its Personal Internet Communicator (PIC), Priced at $185 and $249 (the $249 would also fetch you a monitor), one can't but help get the feeling that it is a step in the right direction, involving the masses in the vision of bridging the digital divide, taking the powers of the Internet to one and all. But it is only a step. The cost is still too high- still too expensive of a computer to get into the hands of those that don't have one.

According to News.com,
The Personal Internet Communicator, or PIC as AMD calls it, will cost about $185 without a display. To reach that price, AMD selected several standard PC components, including one of its own Geode x86 processors, 128MB of Samsung RAM and a 10GB Seagate hard drive. The company also specifies a version of Microsoft's Windows CE operating system, fitted with Windows XP-extensions, allowing it to provide consumers with a graphical interface, e-mail, Web browsing, instant messaging and word processing. The PIC machines will also be able to play multimedia files and show PDF and PowerPoint files, AMD said.
This PIC from AMD certainly has whaty it takes to be a mass-market phenomenon. The market is huge, the opportunities aplenty. With applicatons like distance education, telemedicines beginning to catch the fancy of many including the Govenment and the availability of a reasonably costing device (reasonable compared to the existing. The cost is still too high) , the rural scape of the country can gain a lot. And yes, this is perhaps an ideal option for those who're going in for their second computer at home, and numerous self employed people earning their lives from the internet access nodes, aka cyber-cafes.

ComputerWeekly.com: AMD and VSNL to sell net communicator device in India
News.com: AMD offering blueprint for $185 PC

Now that's a co-incidence!

Just a coincidence that the last 7 visitors to this blog came through Google looking for the file attachment issues with GMail.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Friday for Thursday

I have absolutely no idea why would somebody do anything as weird as this! The college administration has all of a suddden sent a notification that we'll be following the Friday's schedule for this Thursday.

But, as I am free for the whole of the afternoon every Friday, why should I be complaining? That's two complete free afternoons for me. Creature of habit, I guess ;)

FireFox 1.0 Release Candidate Available

The first Firefox 1.0 candidate builds are available for testing. If you want to be involved in testing and reporting bugs, then you may go ahead and get these candidates. Else, you may laze away and wait for a couple of weeks till the official FireFox 1.0 is out.

MileWideBack Extension for Firefox

The last week I installed MildWideBack, a really superb FireFox extension. With this extension, navigation back and forth in a tab becomes very easy. All you've got to do is to 'throw' your mouse to the left edge of the screen and navigate back or forward by left-clicking or right-clicking on your mouse.

This extension works on the simple theory of Fitts' Law. For all of you who are aware of this law, you would know that the time to acquire a target is a function of the distance to and size of the target, the target here being the two *small* back and forward buttons on top left of your browser. This implies that acquiring these targets, ie, pointing to these buttons is not very easy. All the more difficult if you are using the smaller buttons so as to get more space for web page content.



http://dragtotab.mozdev.org/milewideback/


But withthis extension our 'target' effectively has considerable height and an infinite width! And thus one need just move the cursor with high velocity to the left and navigation is much easier.

Usability Glossary: Fitts' Law
Get MildWideback

It s been a while

I know its been a while since I posted anything on this blog of mine. I have just been too busy preparing for the stupid mid terms. But now I can safely say that... mid-terms are over! And I've fared well in all courses, atleast I guess so ;)

And yes, FireFox download count is well past 6 million!

Friday, October 22, 2004

We need $100 PC

Taking computers to the next level of users is someting that has remained a challenge to policy makers and the biggest of corporates in India. Just as India aspires to be a IT hotspot, there aren't two opinions about the fact that the penetration of computing resources remains nothing to boast about.

When Steve Ballmer talks of having a $100 PC, one may begin to wonder if this has potential to become the launchpad for making computers ubiquitous in the current scenario. Steve Ballmer's primary concern here may be to curb piracy, but what we could also achieve is reaching out to a completely new set of users, whom we refer to as on the other side of the digital divide.

The cost of computers may be falling continuously but is still considerable when looked at from the point of view of a common man. But a $100 PC looks to have exactly what it would take to be a mass market success, a phenomenon!

Monday, October 18, 2004

The Indian Broadband Policy 2004

The Indian Broadband Policy 2004, the drawing board of India's digital future was announced sometime ago. According to the preamble,
Recognising the potential of ubiquitous Broadband service in growth of GDP and enhancement in quality of life through societal applications including tele-education, tele-medicine, e-governance, entertainment as well as employment generation by way of high speed access to information and web-based communication, Government have finalised a policy to accelerate the growth of Broadband services.
Broadband has huge potential to bring about far reaching changes in far flung regions of India. Besides revolutionizing entertainment and communication, it can pave way towards better standards of educaton and healthcare with telemedicine and distance education programs for those in the remotest of areas.

But how do we achieve a 'ubiquitous Broadband service'? The sad reality as of now is that connectivity remains a major problem of India. The cost of bandwidth is on the higher side and as result of these, the 'broadband experience' remains restricted to a few of its huge population. Does this policy address these issues? Disappointingly, No.

Five Million

Inexorable. That's how ZDNet UK has described the rise of the browser that's igniting the world.

FireFox just crossed the five million mark!

Saturday, October 16, 2004

google_im://

Speculations about Google rolling out a new instant messaging client have been around for a considerable while now. And some recent developments are only adding to the hype and excitement amongst millions of tech enthusiasts the world over.

According to News.com, a new protocol: "google_im://" was found in the program files of the code of the recently launched desktop application from Google. This new Google IM Protocol has left many in no doubt that Google is certainly planning to come out with its instant mesaging client in the recent future.

But then Google has always mystified us mere mortals and this time too, as it appears, the guesswork will go on an on....

Friday, October 15, 2004

No 4 GHz P4 : Intel

In an announcement that was somewhat surprising, Intel has said that it would no longer focus on releasing a Pentium 4 processor that runs at 4GHz. Instead it would now try to boost performance on newer chips using other means than clock speed.

According to News.com, Intel plans to boost performance by increasing the cache from the current 1MB to 2MB so as to facilitate faster data access, a marked shift from the idea of increasing the megahertz as the primary way to increase performance.

I have this sneaking suspicion that this move may just result in Intel falling behind in the race with AMD (which is definitly catching attention with chips delivering more efficient performance than those made by Intel eating into the latter's market share) to provide the fastest of processors.

sfx Campaign 3: Overambitious

I always had the feeling that meeting a target of 1000 pics in a week was going to be tough. But it seems that we won't even get anywhere close to it. Currently we have what, some 82 pics in the gallery and just 4 days remaining. No two thoughts in saying the target was overambitious!

I sincerely feel that the newer campaigns should be much better thought of else we'll falter to build up on the momentum that we've gained from the super-success of the '1 Million Downloads' campaign.

Never the less, the gallery is nothing but laced with spunk and splendour, the images simply breath taking. How about this picture?

Googling my Desktop

You may say that my blog has been a bit too much *Google-centric* for the past few days. There's not much I could do. My fav technology company has been busy!

So now they've come up with this new big thing of theirs, Google Desktop to search for files on your computer. It's just a small download and install, followed by a few hours indexing on your PC, and you've got it working.

So now will this 'next big thing' from Google address those situations where I spend simply *too much* of time looking around for something that's definitely stored 'somewhere'? Can't say a lot as of now for I haven't actually used this much but will definitely do so once it's done with this whole indexing process. Maybe then I'll have something to write about it and probably something that's not about Google too ;)


Thursday, October 14, 2004

Google Desktop Search

Download the latest Desktop search tool from Google.
http://desktop.google.com/

GMail based blog

How about an alternative use for the huge unutilized storage space of your 1000 megabytes Gmail account? Blogging, for example!

Gallina is a blog based on Google's Gmail. Gallina allows you to post blog entries by sending a message through Gmail, with the "star" function. Any replies to the e-mail are posted as comments in the blog. This practically has given you a 1000megabyte blog!

I was just wondering how would the guys at Google react to it? For now, Blogger still remains the most popular blogging service but who knows... ;)

Gallina's screenshot:

0.1

Gallina
Gallina Demo blog

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Campaign 3: Its now time to ignite the world

In its latest campaign, the spreadfirefox members are to do some 'old fashioned, real world evangelism.' The purpose of the campaign is pretty obvious. Its time to spread FireFox to people who aren't all that techno savvy, the people who haven't yet heard of FireFox from the ever increasing number of personal blogs or the sfx site!

And now the interesting part: The members can take a picture of their contribution and submit it to the gallery with a description of the picture.

The GOAL this time around: "To have 1,000 fun, creative and relevant pictures in the gallery by October 19th"

Monday, October 11, 2004

Y! has a new front page

OK This has been out for a while now. I had only heard of it from a friend and now today, I have finally managed to find the link to The New Yahoo Front Page.

It is simply awesome, real neat and definitely more usable. [It's surprising how much more I am inclined towards observing the usability of websites these days! My User Centered Design Course Prof would be proud of me ;) ]

No Zip Files! It's Gmail

So now Gmail would not allow me to send a mail with a .zip file as an attachment. When I tried sending a mail with a zipped file attached, it popped up a message that read "Sorry, for security reasons, Gmail does not allow you to send this type of attachment".

Annoying. Isn't it? What's more, it's not just files with .zip extension. Gmail won't let me attach anything with a .tar and an .exe extension :(

Denying attachments to enhance security and curb spamming and virus, somehow doesn't make too much of sense!

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Indian tail wags...

Australia romped to a thoroughly convincing victory, although it took them more than what they would have expected first thing this morning, in the opening Test of the four-match series at Bangalore. The Indian duo of Irfan and Harbhajan did their bit as they stuck in their and also heaved a couple of Sixes, but to expect them to have held fort for a full day was out of question. The end result: Australia CRUSH India by a huge 217 runs.

As an Indian fan held a banner in the stadium: SOS Sachin!

And now, AOL Browser

According to eWeek, AOL is planning to release a stand-alone Web browser of its own.
As the hubbub of alternative Web browsers keeps growing—from speculation over a so-called "Gbrowser" from search-engine leader Google Inc. to the many advances in the open-source Mozilla project—in the background, America Online Inc. has been quietly testing its own Web browser, dubbed "AOL Browser," for more than a month.
And what new features will this AOL Browser have for prospectiv users over the good old IE and the sensational Firefox? According to eWeek, the new browser would come stuffed with features like tabbed browsing, page previews on hovering over back and forward buttons, easy access to clear browsing footprints and many other accessibility features, which the other browsers lack.

AOL stand-alone browser demo, showing a thumbnail view of the previously viewed site. (SOURCE: eWEEK.com)


Thursday, October 07, 2004

Google Print

In its mission "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful," Google announced a new search technology that would allow users to search the texts of books online.

At first sight, one may easily compare it to the recently launched service from Amazon - A9.com but the service has got altogether a new dimension to it. Google Print will allow users to search for the contents and then let them read upto 20% of ther total contents of the book. For this, Google has called for publishers to include entire books in its index, which will let people take a peek at the contents of a book before deciding whether to buy it.

To use Google Print, just do searches on Google as you normally would. Whenever a book contains content that matches your search terms, we'll show links to that book in your search results. Click on the book title and you'll go to a "content page," where you can see the page containing your search terms and other information about the book. You can also search for other topics within the book. Click on the "Buy this Book" link and you'll go straight to a bookstore selling the book online.


The Internet to all of us has been one of the most accessible source of information in recent past, though not the most "Reliable". For a large number of people, books on hard paper still remain the authenic, reliable source. It is this issue that I feel will be addressed with such a service. The 20% limit would however, prove a hindrance. Never the less, for all of us, the information available has just got better- qualitatively and quantitatively

http://print.google.com/googleprint/about.html


Download.com Poll: When will you switch to FireFox?



c|net download.com are running a poll asking when will you switch to Firefox?

Comments by registered members on the poll at spreadfirefox.com

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Micro Movie @ Berlin Film Festival

The Berlin Film Festival this year has a new category- the Micro Movie Award, sponsored by Siemens. The film eligible for this category must be made using the integrated cameraphone of the Siemens SX1 mobile phone. The film, which cannot be more than 90 seconds long, should be made using the properties of the camera phone to its fullest.

The site http://micromovie-award.com has all the 20 nominated movies which can be viewed online. Which one do I like the most? It'll have to be Entry # 6, "Say Cheese", the story of a girl who's trying hard to fit in a camera frame.

The films can be viewed online at http://www.micromovie-award.com
The official festival website is http://www.interfilm.de

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Gmail Reloaded: Save drafts and Mail forwarding

Gmail has announced a couple of new features such as an improved contacts list, mail forwarding and saving drafts.


This morning when I signed in (after trying for two hours last night without any success), I found a link to New Features! and came across the following updates from Gmail:
  • Gmail Notifier
  • Search your contacts
  • Automatic forwarding to another email account
  • And finally... Save Drafts!

Monday, October 04, 2004

Behind Schedule!

As you can see, the campaign to sign up 10,000 new users on Spread Firefox in 10 days, is behind schedule. There are still a couple of days left but I don't see any way the wonder number 0f 10000 in 10 days being achieved.

Never the less, we're still on course to touch a total of 20000 registered users by the end of the campaign. Cheers! The fire continues to spread.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

The Real Divide - 2

In an earlier post of mine, The Real Divide, I had written about the needs to plug the loopholes present in the Indian Rural society and bridging the Income Divide, Opportunity Divide and Wealth Divide that have haunted the Rural Indians for far too long now.

E-nabling India's rural reaches gives an insight into the various projects such as free phones supported by a wireless ( 802.11b) network and wireless Internet-enabled Community Information Centres, which are helping in achieving the President's blueprint of 'Programme for Urban Amenities in Rural Areas' and bridging the so called 'Digital Divide' and more importantly the Income Divide and Opportunity Divide.

Google News - still in Beta

Ever wondered why Google News, three years after its sensational launch, is still in its Beta Mode? Wired News has this explanation

So while other online publishers like Yahoo News and MSNBC earn tens of millions of dollars in revenue each year and continue to grow, Google News remains in beta mode -- three years after it launched -- long after most of the bugs have been excised.

The reason: The minute Google News runs paid advertising of any sort it could face a torrent of cease-and-desist letters from the legal departments of newspapers, which would argue that "fair use" doesn't cover lifting headlines and lead paragraphs verbatim from their articles. Other publishers might simply block users originating from Google News, effectively snuffing it out.


Saturday, October 02, 2004

Spinach Power for your Laptop

Eating spinach may now not just add to your muscles but also power your laptops. According to this news article, researchers at the MIT have been successful in harnessing the capability of a plant to convert sunlight into energy through the process of photosynthesis.

This has to be hailed as one of the most important breakthroughs in combining the different domains like the fundamental process of photosynthesis and electronics. The technology, which could prove to be a reasonably cheaper and cleaner supply of energy for our portable devices, may still be nascent but it does promise a lot in the coming years.

Friday, October 01, 2004

XP Starter Edition for India

After countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Russia, India became the fifth country to gets its low-cost Windows (XP Starter Editions) pilot programme. The 'stripped down' version of XP is Targeted at those first PC buyers, who'll be not be needing certain high end features required by enterprises but with limited requirements. I am to believe that the executives at Microsoft think that they will be able to curtail widespread piracy in markets such as India and other Asian countries with the offering of such a version of Windows that is more affordable than the existing versions. To what extent they'll succeed is anyone's call!

Monday, September 27, 2004

Why would Google build a browser?

The news that Google had hired some hotshot browser specialist has lead to worldwide speculation that Google may be dabbling into the wide world of browsers. The only thing that I feel hearing all this stuff is that it doesn't make sense for it to be dedicating its resources into building 'just a browser'.

Maybe what it has in store for us is something bigger, real big. What Google did with Blogger is a candid example of it's tremendous marketing. So what could Google be upto? Speculations also float around that Google is working on an Instant Messenger. Some people say that, coupling this with Gmail and adding an element of community networking, something like Orkut may be what Google has in mind. But given the fact that Google has been one of the few companies that have shown its true innovating capabilities, it seems it'll not be just this!

The smartest concept people have thrown about deals with Google's core strengths- data management, integrated web applications and targeted advertising. If Google can offer me a GB, can't it offer a bit more? The result: a remote hard drive, and some twists and turns and we'll have a remote Operating System! So I with my 'impoverished' thin client with very little hard drive space, and almost zero number of softwares can use this GBrowser to access all sorts of programs and data stored someplace on the GNetwork.

And this is just a possibility. Google has always defied boundaries that dictate possiblities. So what I am expecting is something that may simply revolutionize the way people interact with their computer and network. Now wouldn't this make life interesting?

Defending the Fox

LightDarkness has set up a little site called Defending the Fox , to enable more and more websites support Firefox!!!

Defending The Fox eanbles one to post information about sites that don't actually support Firefox. The info may include the website url, webmaster's contact details and general comments to ge them to try and support FireFox.

The revolution has just begun!

Sunday, September 26, 2004

The Bot Army

How weird will it sound to you if you were told that your computer is a part of a global 'army' working in unison with its fellow soldiers infiltrating the global networks and spreading spam at will?

This is exactly what your computer may be doing! A harmless seeming email attachment or a trojan horse downlaoded onto your machine may have made your computer a part of a bot network that could do anything ranging from conducting distributed denial-of-service attacks to advertising spam, or do anything that could be done with the computing power of such large number of 'voluntary' soldiers at disposal.

Read : When Bot Nets Attack

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Skybus Tragedy

I wrote in a previous post about the ambitious SkyBus project which is proudly called a new concept in indigenous technology. I had also written that there were issues relating to the safety of its operations which have been consistently dogging the project.

The Skybus met with a serious accident this Saturday, September 25th on the specially built self stabilising track, killing one and injuring five. According to D.B. Rajaram, managing director, KRCL, the agency behind the Skybus project, "The accident occurred most likely because the bogie was heading at a higher speed than it should have. Also, it oscillated to a higher degree than we had expected." He also said that his pet project would not be affected by this accident and went on to add that every project faces some ups and downs.

The question that still remains from the previous post is "What remains to be seen is that can it move beyond its testing stage?"

Community effort to create a single persistence model for the Java community

A community effort led by Sun Microsystems is aiming to create a single 'Plain Old Java Object' persistence model to provide a single object/relational mapping facility for Java app developers in J2SE and J2EE.

Paul Krill writes

In a letter to the “Java Technology Community” on Friday, specification leads on Java Specification Request (JSR) 220, which is the proposal for Enterprise JavaBeans 3.0, and JSR-243, for Java Data Objects, state that the two technologies feature divergent persistence models. “This divergence has caused confusion and debates among Java developers, and is not in the best of interest of the Java community,” said JSR-220 leader Linda DeMichiel who also is a Sun employee, and Craig Russell, a staff engineer at Sun who leads JSR-243.

“In response to these requests [for an end to the unwanted divide], Sun Microsystems is leading a community effort to create a single POJO (Plain Old Java Object) persistence model for the Java community,” the letter said. POJO will serve as a temporary name for the model until a permanent one is devised.


Nose steered Mouse!

Researchers at the Institute of Information Technology, Canada have developed a mouse that uses your nose instead of your fingers. According to New Scientist, the “nouse”, as the device has been called, employs webcams to determine the movements of your nose and then moves the cursor with it. And what about clicking the mouse buttons? You just got to blink your eyes!

Read Nose-steered mouse could save aching arms

Friday, September 24, 2004

2 million in 10 days.

10 days.
2 million downloads.

The fire just got hotter!

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Personalize your web

In a slew of new products released that promise to personalize our web experience, I wonder what'll be the new face of the web like. The other day I wrote about A9.com, the real cool search service from Amazon. Now that is certainly redefining the way I am organizing the most crucial part of my online acivities - searching!

Furl is another such service that claims to be "Your personal web". Quite an impressive tag line! What it does is that it saves the important items you find on the web and enables you to quickly find them again.

Furl archives a personal copy of every page you save. When you want to recall it, you can find it instantly by searching the full text in your archived items, and for this they provide you a personal archive of 5 GB, large enough to store tens of thousands of searchable items.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Tech Recovery

The McKinsey Quarterly has this Special Collection on Tech's tempered Recovery on how companies are rethinking their objectives and expectations in the recent shift in the economic scenario and exploring ways to thrive in these new conditions.

Read Tech’s tempered recovery

1 million. And 6 more days to go!!

So here we are finally. The progress meter says it all...

The World is on Fire. Thats for sure!

search@Amazon : A9

Amazon has finally entered the wars of the search engines with its formal debut of A9.com. Is it trying to venture into Google's territory just like the way the latter is cautiously reaching out into Amazon's region with Froogle? hmm..

The site is simply superb. Some of the more appealing features I found were:

- A9.com remembers what you last searched,
- recommends sites based on what the other users preferred,
- provides different views of frequently visited sites
- gives you a bookmark column where you could store result items, ie. bookmark them, enabling you to view and edit the results of searches they last performed.
- Another remarkable feature was that of allowing me to save notes about the webpages that I visit.

The site is definitey usable and may go on to mark a change in the way people search information forcing a search company or two, to rethink their strategies!

FireFox Download - Countdown Status

Wow. This is cool. At this point of time, there have been an estimated 789,860 Firefox downloads.

The goal seems nearer and nearer. The progress meter here >> says it all.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Spread FireFox - down for now!

So here I am posting after three days. The mid term exams didn't prove too much of a trouble and I think barring Operating Systems course, I have done well in all others.

Anyways, spreadfirefox.com is finally down. I say 'finally' because I had expected it to happen on the first day itself. Kudos to the guys for managing to keep it up and running for three days. A real heavy workload of three days has prompted the following notice on the homepage:

72 hours later: The world is on fire

"There's a window of opportunity for Mozilla to gain significant market share," BusinessWeek reports ... The Wall Street Journal recommends that users switch to Firefox, because it's more secure, modern and advanced ... c|net reports that 18% of its users are now coming to the site using open source web browsers ...

There's a meme infecting the Internet: Firefox is taking back the web. And you are our vanguard in this new movement.

It's been an astonishing and sleepless 72 hours since we released Firefox Preview Release. Thanks to your impressive efforts, nearly 790,000 people have downloaded Firefox in 3 days, bringing us within arm's length of our 1 million goal with a week to go! Over 5,000 people like yourself have joined Spread Firefox already and are poised to take back the web by storm. Over at c|net, Firefox enjoys the highest site rating possible and a staggering 92% approval rating. In the past three months alone, Firefox has gained close to 2% of browser marketshare—the first increase for non-IE browsers in eight years.

With numbers like these, it's getting harder to ignore Firefox—and indeed, the browser is making its way into some very elite circles. Walt Mossberg, the Wall Street Journal columnist that Newsweek called "the most powerful arbiter of consumer tastes in the computer world," told over one million WSJ readers yesterday to dump Internet Explorer and get Firefox. Robert Scoble, renowned Microsoft evangelist, now sports a shiny new Firefox button on his weblog. And Firefox enjoyed 24-hour coverage on the very front page of Google News.

Spread Firefox is enjoying some coverage of its own. It was featured on cable television as part of G4TechTv's Firefox Throwdown campaign. The site is now first in our roll call with over 16,000 referrals in 3 days! Other big name affiliates include Broadband Reports and WordPress, both of whom have been amazingly generous in spreading the word among their expansive clientele. A number of news sites, such as c|net, also wrote dedicated sfx stories. But before all this popularity could go to our head, it went to our servers—and they are struggling. Please bear with us through outages and slowdowns as we work to manage the load; we hope to have the download counter updating more frequently when we get our site functioning better under this massive load.

We would particularly like to recognize a fiction writer named Kevin Karpenske. Kevin recently gave us his previous domain name, Firefox.com, for our use in promoting Firefox. And you might notice something familiar on his new site: four prominent Firefox buttons, linked to an sfx affiliate account. Thanks, Kevin!

We have some incredible things in store for you all over the coming weeks and months, and the sfx team is getting together today to discuss how and when we want to roll them out. Here's a sneak peek of some of the things you can expect in the near future:

  • A chance to put your filming and digital video editing skills to good use.
  • Enhanced promotion of the ten individuals and companies that are making our roll call—and some prizes.
  • The birth of nearly a dozen marketing teams that will collaborate using sfx-provided tools and infrastructure to accomplish some very specific and some very critical jobs.
  • An expansion of our affiliate points system, as well as the meaning of these points. You'll earn points for joining the aforementioned teams, points for donating, points for promoting Firefox in your signature file—points for just about anything you can think of that gets Firefox in the hands of another person.
  • A sneak peak at some of the things we've been creating behind the scenes for the past few months—being a member of this community has its rewards. You're gonna love our new posters aimed at college students.
  • A community rating system for sfx blogs. The top rated blog will be promoted to the front page of sfx at regular intervals, and runners-up will enjoy prime placement in our "Featured" section on the right-hand side.
  • ...and we're unveiling plans for the largest Firefox promotion we've ever undertaken, but we're going to need your help.

But first the Mozilla sysadmins and Daryl are pulling out their toolkit and performing surgery on our server so we can provide you with a more reliable experience here.




Monday, September 13, 2004

Universal Computing

From Wired:

A Silicon Valley startup claims to have cracked one of most elusive goals of the software industry: a near-universal emulator that allows software developed for one platform to run on any other, with almost no performance hit.

Transitive Corp. of Los Gatos, California, claims its QuickTransit software allows applications to run "transparently" on multiple hardware platforms, including Macs, PCs, and numerous servers and mainframes.

This should definitely make it convenient for users while switching hardware platforms, without having to really make drastic changes to existing application code keeping a check on the expenses and time involved. So, would applications remain slaves to platforms no more?

Sunday, September 12, 2004

The Impact of Internet ?

I never imagined people would be so fussy about net speed. My friend who is working on a pretty decent connection in my opinion, is always complaining of slow net speed in the campus. I wonder what sort of speed he needs for his limited requirements. Five years ago, he would have felt fortunate enough just to have a dial up connection working for him at just over a kbps.

In a country, where access to Internet was for a privileged few till the late nineties, we've come a long way in a span of just five years. The remotest of areas in the country are connected. But the impact of internet is yet to be felt at its strongest. The development of services and applications is not moving at a pace we could boast of. All this is probably due to the longevity of infrastructural issues and factors like slow connection speed, high access rates and creative solutions, ones which resulted in the cellular boom in the country.

Proper imagination and influx of venture capital could help us in developing an Internet platform envied by the world. The other day I stumbled across I-neighbors,an online community that connects people to neighbors in their local community. It is a project undertaken by a team at MIT and seems to be just the sort of a service which has the capability of making the Internet make its impact felt. (More on this I-Neighbours in some other post.) It remains to be seen how the present Internet mutates with the advent of low cost access devices, better applications and services for the ordinary and a touch of imagination thrown in.

Microsoft's Wireless Mice

Just read that Microsoft is all set to introduce a new range of mouse and keyboards, including models with built-in fingerprint reader. Now that would really make life much simpler as one will not need to remember that long list of passwords across various applications and websites.

However, I am slightly skeptical of the security if the data from these mouse or keyboard is not encrypted. If the data is encoded in some way by a software for the biometric input to retrieve it, it shouldn't be a big deal for a worm or the spywares to extract it from that software.

Maybe this would also be another of those cases of compromising security for convenience.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

MyDoom is back !

MyDoom spawns four small offshoots. This news on MSN Tech and Gadgets says that these new variants could also be a harbinger of a more lethal version about to hit the web users.

The viruses are largely alike: They are designed to spread by attaching copies of the program to e-mail messages and download additional features from compromised Web sites. Moreover, they are all difficult to clean from an infected Microsoft Windows-based PC, because they stop the system from connecting to antivirus Web sites to download updates.

The fact that several similar variations of MyDoom have been released in quick succession suggest that a more lethal version may be in the works, said Sam Curry, vice president of product management for Computer Associates International's eTrust software.




Deccan's No.1 e-com site in services

Air Deccan, the no frills airlines is making big waves in the country. The Economic Times has this report which says that Air Deccan has become the largest e-commerce site in the service sector in India with transactions or ticket sales averaging $2,50,000 to $2,80,000 (Rs 1.15 to 1.3 crore) a day.


FireFox 1.0 PR

Its time to take a look at the 2004-09-10 build which seems to be the most likely candidate for Firefox 1.0 PR. So I uninstall the prev version of FireFox installed on my machine keeping the application folder intact so as to keep the plugins and extensions already running on the existing version.

Now it was time to make an easy upgrade. When I launched the new FireFox for the first time, it did show me some components which were incompatible, stuff llike my extensions etc.

No big deal. Just had to go to the authors's webpages to get the new installations!

So download one today and test it out. If all goes well, this will become the Preview Release of Firefox 1.0 !

Get the latest Branch nightlies here.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Social Interface

We all learn about the importance of making are softwares more usable. All the usual talks of usability. Joel Solsky writes about "the next level of software design issues, after you've got the UI right: designing the social interface."

Software in the 1980s, when usability was "invented," was all about computer-human interaction. A lot of software still is. But the Internet brings us a new kind of software: software that's about human-human interaction.

Discussion groups. Social networking. Online classifieds. Oh, and, uh, email. It's all software that mediates between people, not between the human and the computer.

When you're writing software that mediates between people, after you get the usability right, you have to get the social interface right. And the social interface is more important. The best UI in the world won't save software with an awkward social interface.

Over the next decade, I expect that software companies will hire people trained as anthropologists and ethnographers to work on social interface design. Instead of building usability labs, they'll go out into the field and write ethnographies. And hopefully, we'll figure out the new principles of social interface design.



Wednesday, September 08, 2004

NASA's Genesis Capsule crashes

It was to be plucked out of the air by two helicopters and brought back safely to Earth. But the Genesis space capsule carrying captured particles blown off the Sun crashed back to Earth in the Utah desert after some malfunctionality with its parachutes.


Genesis spacecraft on the ground. Source: www.nasa.gov

According to the latest news from the NASA website, the capsule impacted the ground at a speed of 311 kilometers per hour (193 mph). The officials cannot still say if any or some of the information brought back by the crashed capsule could be recovered.

In critical endeavours such as these, small mishaps could lead to fatal consequences. If I recall correctly, sometime in 1999 too the Polar lander had crashed when it was attempting to land on the Red Planet. So much for the unforgiving nature of these human endeavours to such small errors.


Interfaces for Staying in Flow

After hours of loitering on the web, I finally read something relevant to my academics on ACM Ubiquity. - a paper by Benjamin Bederson on Interfaces for Staying in Flow.

This paper reviews the literature, and interprets the characteristics of flow within the context of interface design with the goal of understanding what kinds of interfaces are most conducive to supporting users being in the flow.


Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Happy Birthday Google!

Let me wish a very happy birthday to my fav technology company Google which is turning six.



Imagine my world without Google today!

Read Google's history at:
http://www.google.com/corporate/history.html

Friday, September 03, 2004

A Social Bookmarks Manager

I just checked out a new bookmarking service - del.icio.us , a very convenient way to store bookmarks. From any Web page, you can use a del.icio.us bookmarklet to post the page’s URL, title, description, and a set of keywords or tags. These pages can then be recovered by searching for text in the title or description or by navigating to it using one of its tags from anywhere with a web connection.

The registration process is simple. Nothing flashy, just key in your desired userID, a password and an email address which is again optional if you can remember your password for eternity. From here on, all you need to do is to add a small 'bookmarklet' to your browser. Whenever you wish to bookmark a page, simply click on this and you'll be prompted for information like title, description, keywords and tags about the page.

The positives are obvious. The process is extremely simple and with features like categorizing your links, sorting and searching by category or date, managing bookmarks becomes all so easy. And you could always share your bookmarks. All this can only make information processing a bit more efficient and less cumbersome!

Thursday, September 02, 2004

IBM makes 'Blade' designs available

IBM is making the design of its "blade" computer servers widely available, so as to gain wider acceptability in data centers and the ICT industry.

IBM and Intel, partners in the design of Blade servers have announce that they would not be charging any royalties and there won't be the need of any patent licensing. It can be said that this move will allow other companies to work with them more easily and with IBM deciding to extend design support and assist in product development, the levels of innovation in this field are likely to notch up a few scales.

So, are the racks in for a hard time? Pretty tough to tell. But these blade servers definitely hold an advantage over those bulty racks!!!


Friday, August 27, 2004

Power packed Java for your mobile phone

Nokia and Vodafone have just got together to simplify the software for your mobile phone with Java. Now that is some exciting bit of news. Java has the potential to be a serious contender for the battle for software applications on the mobile phones. As of now, Java games are rocking the mobile phones but usability of thse programs across varied models of handsets is a hindrance.

Enormous potential exists for software applications for mobile phones demanding fast rates of processing with Java and with the development of an open standards-based mobile Java services architecture, as promised by the companies, we are sure to witness a new range of highly complicated and power packed softwares written in Java and enormous cost reductions in the process of software development.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

SkyBUS - scripting a new chapter in Indian metro transport

When the Sky Bus successfully completed its first test-run, B Rajaram must have been a very happy man. On August 25th, the Skybus completed its 30 metres to and fro distance at the Margao Junction. With that was written a new chapter in the history of Indian Metro transport.

This indigenously developed mass transport system is the brainchild of B Rajaram, MD, Konkan Railways Corp. Limited. The system was promoted as an alernative to underground metro system but this project has continuously been facing resisteance from certain government quarters. Issues relating to the safety of its operations have been consistently dogging the project.


Sky Bus- proves its worth in test run

The Sky Bus, being cost-effective and eco-friendy, has the potential to solve the ever increasing problems of mass rapid transport scenario in the country where urban space is a premium. What remains to be seen is that can it move beyond its testing stage?

http://www.sky-bus-metro.com/

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

The Real Divide

When one talks of India these days, you come up with words like the new economy, the network economy, entrepreneurship and technology. In a way it has become fashionable to do so. And yes, the other term that we often come to hear is the "Digital Divide". In opinion of many, it is this divide we need to bridge that would spur us on our path to wonders.

We need to pause for a moment and contemplate if it would really do so. The pathetic state of Indian primary education system remains hidden from few. Children have to fight for two square meals a day. For a large population of India, each new day begins with a new challenge- the challenge of survival. And we want to use ICT for development!

I was very surprised when my friend asked me this question- "Didn't countries 'progress' when there was not the so called ICT?' Didn't people then know what progress really meant? So why this hue and cry about Digital Divide? " I am sure few would disagree to what he had in mind. Digital Divide is only a term we can and have always used as an excuse for some basic things that we have never managed to get right.

Divides do exist. Income Divide, Opportunity Divide and Wealth Divide are the ones that have haunted us for far too long now. We need to fight these loopholes in our society. Only then can we think of development, development across all sections of the Indian society.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

'Spim' heading for your Desktop

It has never been something extraordinary to find one's Inbox flooded with unsolicited emails. That old fashioned spam is now out in its new 'avatar' - spim which works thru' the instant messaging services. With the development of increasing efffective spam filters being doled out by specialist companies, and the mere fact that hundreds of billions of instant messages being sent every year, the "spammers" are evolving into "spimmers".

Though spim in its current form is not very dangerous, as any infected item will have to be sent only as an attachment and has to be downloaded by the user unlike in an e-mail spam, the annoyance caused by spim is enormous. Who knows, the spim epidemic may just be on its way...

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid

C.K. Prahalad's new book "Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid" has just been published.

The Economist writes in its article "Profits and Poverty" that C.K. Prahalad is of the opinion that there can be a win-win relationship between business and the poor

“IF WE stop thinking of the poor as victims or as a burden and start recognising them as resilient and creative entrepreneurs and value-conscious consumers, a whole new world of opportunity will open up.”

Mr Prahalad reckons that there are huge potential profits to be made from serving the 4 billion-5 billion people on under $2 a day—an economic opportunity he values globally at $13 trillion a year. The win for the poor of being served by big business includes, he says, being empowered by choice and being freed from having to pay the currently widespread “poverty penalty”. In shanty towns near Mumbai, for example, the poor pay a premium on everything from rice to credit—often five to 25 times what the rich pay for the same services. Driving down these premiums can make serving the BOP more profitable than serving the top, he argues, and points to a growing number of leading firms—from Unilever in India to Cemex in Mexico and Casas Bahia in Brazil—that are profiting by doing precisely that.