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.