Monday, January 31, 2005

Satellite Simulation

I just came across this cool satellite simulation via YoungBrews and I must say, this is pretty challenging. You have to click and drag to fire the projectile and put the 'satellite' into orbit. There is this moon too which is interfering with your satellites.

Challenging it surely is! It took me 5 minutes to finally put my satellite into orbit and for the past few hours, it is religiously orbiting Mother Earth.

My satellite orbiting the planet!

The $100 PC: Turning into reality

In one of my previous posts titled "We need $ 100 PC" I had written that
Taking computers to the next level of users is something that has remained a challenge to policy makers and the biggest of corporate 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... 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!
This dream of a $100 PC may soon be realized. MIT's Nicholas Negroponte has teamed up with some of the world's major companies like AMD, Motorola, Google, Samsung etc and is working on the development of a $100 Portable personal computer for the developing world.

With promises of a 14 inch colour screen, AMD chips and Linux as the operating system, this machine is sure to find its feet in emerging markets and will certainly go a long way in bridging what is called as the "Digital Divide".

For more on this, visit

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Technology Festivals in India

I write this post in the middle of the biggest college technology festival in the country. With what would have begun as an attempt to create, connect and relate aspects of technology, it has now taken the shape of an entirely commercial event with enormous budgets and unprecedented extravagance.

Forced to wonder, is it still THE platform for the energetic and creative to push the frontiers of expanding technology, or is it the place to see 'branding' take new dimensions, the place to "walk away with a fortune".

Weak Passwords and MySQL

I still remember the day, when I attended my first lecture at this university. The one thing my Prof warned me then was to make sure that I keep my passwords *cryptic*. For me cryptic then meant anything that was not my name or my date of birth. Of course how could I expect somebody to know that a new word could be formed just with my bike license plate number and my sister's name.

Then I was just a kid, someone not exposed to technology, rather someone not exposed to its dark side. But then, I am not alone. People who should know more about this than me, the "system administrators" think on these lines even today too. Else how could a password guessing worm access a flaw in MySQL affecting not one, not two but eight thousand databases!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Republic Day Wishes

India celebrates Republic Day today. Let's hope that this day enthuses vigour and vitality, inculcates in us a feeling for our nation, its rich heritage, and kaleidoscopic life. As my friend wrote in his Republic Day Greeting email, "Let’s hope that this momentous occasion would also bring more food to the needy, more clothes to the ravaged, more cheers and less tears on the face of every child and more grit, courage and determination in every single individual of this nation."

In triumph and in tragedy- One country, under God Indivisible.

Wallop Invitations

A mail in my Inbox

You recently requested more invitations for your wallop account. This request has now been processed. Please feel free to use these to invite new friends to wallop. However, please be aware that after 7 days any of your unused invitations will be recycled back into the system.

The countdown starts... 7

Google Video - Search TV Programs

From web pages to Television programs. That; swhat Google has now ventured into in its quest of organizing world information. According to Google, "Google Video enables you to search a growing archive of televised content – everything from sports to dinosaur documentaries to news shows."

Sunday, January 23, 2005

rel="nofollow" - (Over)Commercializing the Internet

I had written in my previous post that the use of rel="nofollow" attribute wouldn't be all that useful in stopping comment spams. Nikolaos writes on his blog that this could also lead to the already overcommercialised Internet becoming evn more commercialised.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Stopping Comment spam

The big guns- Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have gotten together in the crusade against comment spam with the use of rel=nofollow attribute in the links.

Why it wont score a 10/10?

From the Google blog,
From now on, when Google sees the attribute (rel="nofollow") on hyperlinks, those links won't get any credit when we rank websites in our search results. This isn't a negative vote for the site where the comment was posted; it's just a way to make sure that spammers get no benefit from abusing public areas like blog comments, trackbacks, and referrer lists.
Now, this means that if I add rel=nofollow attribute in the links, then no one can just fool around and increase his website rankings and thereby has no reasons to spam! Right?

But what about those comment spams whose objective is nowhere linked to achieve higher website rankings/pageRanks but is to spread awareness about their 'product', which might be a blog or a brand. All this spam strives for is people visiting these URLs and taking note of their website. In this sort of a situation, I do not see rel=nofollow being of any use.

Thursday, January 20, 2005


It ain't a great feeling being "Bangalored!"
"I have inside knowledge of call centres, having worked in several. It's crucial that the agents be efficient. Barraging them with 60-second calls will ruin their stats and also lower their morale. Eventually, they'll start thinking 'another damn rude American a******' every time a call comes up. All of this will have a cumulative effect. If 100 people across the US would commit to spending 10 minutes a day, we could cripple them, and bring those jobs back to the US."
As Pierce Ranger says, "These incidents are probably just the third and fourth stages of dealing with loss (loss of jobs, in this case), Anger and Despair. Acceptance is yet to come."

Facts about Google

Google - Some interesting facts from Alan Williamson:

  • The prime reason the Google home page is so bare is due to the fact that the founders didn't know HTML and just wanted a quick interface. Infact it was noted that the submit button was a long time coming and hitting the RETURN key was the only way to burst Google into life.
  • Due to the sparseness of the homepage, in early user tests they noted people just sitting looking at the screen. After a minute of nothingness, the tester intervened and asked 'Whats up?' to which they replied "We are waiting for the rest of it". To solve that particular problem the Google Copyright message was inserted to act as a crude end of page marker.
  • The infamous "I feel lucky" is nearly never used. However, in trials it was found that removing it would somehow reduce the Google experience. Users wanted it kept. It was a comfort button.
  • Orkut is very popular in Brazil. Orkut was the brainchild of a very intelligent Google engineer who was pretty much given free reign to run with it, without having to go through the normal Google UI procedures, hence the reason it doesn't look or feel like a Google application. They are looking at improving Orkut to cope with the loads it places on the system.
  • Google makes changes small-and-often. They will sometimes trial a particular feature with a set of users from a given network subnet; for example Excite@Home users often get to see new features. They aren't told of this, just presented with the new UI and observed how they use it.
  • Google has the largest network of translators in the world
  • They use the 20% / 5% rules. If at least 20% of people use a feature, then it will be included. At least 5% of people need to use a particular search preference before it will make it into the 'Advanced Preferences'.
  • The name 'Google' was an accident. A spelling mistake made by the original founders who thought they were going for 'Googol'
  • Gmail was used internally for nearly 2years prior to launch to the public. They discovered there was approximately 6 types of email users, and Gmail has been designed to accommodate these 6.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The history of Swastika

SwastikaBBC News has a very interesting article on the origins of the Swastika- a mark made on people or objects to give them good luck in Indo-European culture.

The EU wishes to ban the symbol because of its Nazi associations, but the Swastika has been around since long before the Nazis decided to make the swastika (originally a Hindu symbol for luck and 'samsara'), symbolize hatred and racism.

From Wikipedia:
The swastika appears in art and design throughout human history, symbolising many different things — luck, Surya (the sun), Brahma, or the Hindu concept of samsara. In antiquity, the swastika was used freely by Sumerians, Hittites, Celts and Greeks, among others. The swastika today is used primarily as a religious symbol by Hindus – it was first mentioned in the Vedas, the holy texts of Hinduism – but transferred to other Indic religions like Buddhism and Jainism. It also occurs in other Asian, European, and Native American cultures – sometimes as a simple geometrical motif, sometimes as a religious symbol. The pre-Christian Anglo-Saxon ship burial at Sutton Hoo, England, contains gold cups and shields bearing swastikas. The almost universally positive meanings of the swastika were subverted in the early twentieth century when it was adopted as the emblem of the National Socialist German Workers Party. Since World War II, most Westerners see it as solely a fascist symbol, leading to incorrect assumptions about its pre-Nazi use and its current use in other cultures.

Picasa 2

Managing, editing and sharing photos just gets a lot more easier with Picasa 2 from Google. The latest update from Google enables the user to email pictures through the Gmail service and also comes packed with a host of new exciting features. Picasa 2 brings to you the editing tools, not just to crop images, but also to go deeper. It can convert photos to black and white, add filtering effects and burn images to a CD too. : Google touches up Photo Service

Monday, January 17, 2005

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Desktop Search from Yahoo

Yahoo! today launched its Desktop Search in beta. Another major company backing "search" to be the frontier, the company has brought out this desktop search sometime after giants Google and Microsoft have already tasted some success with their own desktop search products.

This offering from Yahoo provides desktop search for videos and MP3 files. Other prominent features include Instant preview of cntent and search filters. Not anything extraordinary from what the competitors have to offer. Probably Yahoo! will have to face the late-mover disadvantage, and come up with something "new".

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Dynamic Movie subtitles

I and a couple of my friends've been burning midnight oil for quite a while now trying to figure out something interesting that we may pick up as a software project this semester. And we are coming up with some real good ideas. How about your media player applying speech recognition on a movie, generating subtitles in a language of your choice, just as the characters carry out their dialogues?

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Advice for CS College Students

Joel on Software has a piece of advice for all Computer Science College Students. An interesting read, Joel's seven gems:
  1. Learn how to write before graduating.
  2. Learn C before graduating.
  3. Learn microeconomics before graduating.
  4. Don't blow off non-CS classes just because they're boring.
  5. Take programming-intensive courses.
  6. Stop worrying about all the jobs going to India.
  7. No matter what you do, get a good summer internship.
* Point # 6, I am already in India ;)

IBM Linux on POWER Innovation Grants

The 2005 IBM Linux on POWER Innovation Grants awards have on list some very interesting proposals. The winners include a university each from India, Russia, China, Itay, Spain and five from the US.

Sunday, January 02, 2005