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!