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!!!