Friday, February 25, 2005

GCalendar from Google?

Somebody posts something about a bot's (supposedly from Google) hyperactivity on a calendar oriented site and then some people link to some very irrelevant blog posts about possible things Google could provide and then what you get is a complete speculation in the whole Internet community of Google building a killer calendar application.

It would be real splendid if Google actually does come up with a feature packed online calendar. And so would it be if they built the IM that they were again thought to be building, what with all those acquisitions and all. Probably you must read about it on an earlier post of mine: Google rolling out a new instant messaging client.

And if you wish to have more details of the Google Calendar speculations,

Thursday, February 24, 2005

The real priority of Open Source

ZDNet.com has a very interesting article that raises a very simple question: What should be the priority of Open Source? FREE or OPEN?

The free side sees complex software licenses as an enemy, binding each algorithm to different conditions, making real progress impossible.

The open side calls the GPL the "most restrictive" possible license, because it obligates you to offer what you make with GPL tools under the GPL.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Not everyone loves Firefox

In a world that is ever so cruelly dominated by IE, we are fortunate to have with us alternatives. And so we all get busy figuring out which is the best alternative! Not everyone will love Firefox, or for that matter hate IE, and understandably so. Individual preferences vary and so does the usage pattern. So when it comes down to drawing a comparison between these alternatives, it ain't an easy job. All the more difficult, when the alternatives happen to be much superior to the original and similar to each other in ways more than one the way Opera and Firefox are.

There is no denying that Opera is the fastest browser around. Yes, faster than Firefox too. But then, Firefox comes studded with splendid extensions. AdBlock for one, thus providing an opportunity to get out of the clutches of advertisements and have a hassle free experience. Also the way Firefox handles JavaScript secures poinst over Opera and the fact that Firefox is more stable makes it the browser I prefer. Then there are secondary issues. About new links not opening up in tabs in Firefox. which I presume is very easily compensated for with Tabbrowser extension. So Firefox and Opera draw level again. Printing- Firefox does a much better job. Mouse Gestures- Opera scores better, much better. A deadlock.

Again, these are individual preferences, and the comparisons may go on and on without us ever being able to substantially claim which is better!

Friday, February 18, 2005

Outsourcing is Insourcing of competence

A few days ago, I had the opportunity of attending a talk by management guru C. K. Prahlad, the propounder of the concept of "core competence". Amongst a variety of topics he had covered in his lecture, he talked of the recent evolution of the entrepreneurial culture in the country, the needs of grassroots innovation, and the tremendous opportunity to tap the market of the poor and building businesses for the masses, citing examples of success stories such as the IndiOne Hotels, a low-cost hotel conceptualized by the man himself.

Also, he made a very intriguing comment: "Outsourcing = Insourcing of competence". A very subtle remark but when we dwelve deeper, it has a whole lot of significance. The tremendous amount of success in Outsourcing business is lending confidence and experience, to the leaders of tomorrow, helping promote innovation and also the intricacies of managing global level opertaions.

Talking of the role Outsourcing can play in cultivating entrepreneurship, the MIT Technology Review has a very interesting article:
Big outsourcing providers like Infosys may not be fountains of innovation, but their presence will have—in fact, is already having—trickle-down effects. Outsourcing, many Indians argue, is training India’s next generation of tech entrepreneurs.

Firefox - 99 days, 25 million downloads

Sheer demonstration of ther power of open source.


Firefox: 25 million downloads!

The world is on fire!

Monday, February 14, 2005

Programmer or a Software Engineer

Whoever believes that there isn't any difference between a programmer and a 'software engineer' is living in an illusionary world. By the way, when I talk of a software engineer here, I refer to a person who tries to address the requirements of the client applying the rules of engineering systematically (I don't understand why people so often use this title incorrectly), in a substantial contrast to the way a programmer would have gone about the same task.

Well, to be honest, all my escapades into the world of software engineering have only lead me to develop this opinion: You remove fun from programming, include a whole lot of responsibleness and bring in hierarchy, what you get then is 'software engineering'.

Software engineering is all about ensuring quality, cost effectiveness, thereby in some ways having to put aside creativity, and innovation! Now that does not necessarily go down well with a programmer. For years, since we were in high school, we've been coding, writing the most imaginative pieces of codes, driven by some hidden zeal for creativity and innovation, all for fun. And now when we have to do all these things with a great vigil over us, with continuous monitoring and control, all in an environment that is more hostile than motivating, we realize that the shift from a programmer to a software engineer is not entirely a smooth sail.

For all its great features, I wonder if guys at Rational hadn't build all those innumerous functionalities, I wouldn't have had to do so much work :(

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Newsburst: Yet another Web Based RSS Reader?

I am currently playing around with c|net's Newsburst. It might just be another web based RSS reader, but certainly it looks nice to use.

What is interesting here is that this reader is provided by one of the biggest news providers via RSS itself. This launch of newsburst follows the launch of similar branded RSS readers by The Guardian and LA Times last week. The question we need to ask is why are news companies rolling out these branded RSS Readers? According to The Internet Stock Blog,
"Branded RSS readers come pre-loaded with RSS feeds from the content provider. That locks in customers and guarantees traffic. Hosting the RSS reader on the content provider's web site also makes that site the customer's destination of choice."
And we must also remember that such branded RSS Readers bring to the user not just its own contents but those of its competitors too. Now isn't it an interesting way to stop people from visiting your competitors websites? It's like getting people to come to your site to get contents from your competition!


Screenshot of Newsburst RSS Reader
Screenshot of Newsburst RSS Reader from c|net

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Web Services explained

From Business Week, What exactly are web services?
  • Web services refer to a set of programming standards used to make different types of software talk to each other over the Internet, without human intervention.
  • Like Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) that's the face of all Web programming, no one owns these technologies.
  • Web services can also refer to technology that's delivered to a consumer or business over the Internet. It means less up-front costs for the customer. It means the customer gets software updates more frequently. And it means the people who wrote the software -- the ones who know it best -- are the same people running it on a day-to-day basis.
  • Today's Web-service companies design their software from the ground up to be delivered over the Internet as a service. That's a big difference. It means their business model can scale, and the bigger they get, the more profitable they become because they're building on that initial research and development investment.

    Friday, February 11, 2005

    Comment System overhaul from Blogger!

    Blogger has just overhauled its comment system. And an overhaul it certainly is. The work done by the team is simply fantastic. This new system now comes with:

    - option to show or hide the original blog post that the comments relate to.
    - display of any comments that have already been made.
    - and the profile photos of the comment authors too (setting based.)
    - comments in pop-up window (setting based again.)

    And the biggest plus- the identity options! Post as a blogger user, anonymous or any 'other' user.

    Blogger Comment System Snapshot in new window mode
    The new Blogger comment system enables commenting in a new window.

    Blogger Comment System Snapshot
    All previous comments along with the Blogger Profile picture are displayed neatly to the left.



    UPDATE:

    Current Blogger templates on your blogs will, however, behave slightly differently. The comments link which is below every post, like



    takes you first to the individual post's archived page and from there you click on Post a comment to go the newly designed Comment posting page.

    Now, if you wish to override the post-page and jump directly to the comment-posting page without reselecting a template (and thereby losing all the tweaks you made to it) , then you'll need to make a minor change in your existing template as shown below:

    <a class="comment-link" href="<$BlogItemPermaLinkURL$>#comments">
    <$BlogItemCommentCount$>comments </a>

    <a class="comment-link" href="<$BlogItemCommentCreate$>"
    <$BlogItemCommentFormOnClick$>><$BlogItemCommentCount$>comments </a>


    The replacement of text in red with the one in grey will simply update your template and so, when one clicks on the comments link, he'll be directed straight to the comment posting page without having to go the archived post page.

    Thursday, February 10, 2005

    The predicament

    This Friday happens to be a special day. No not just because I pay an honoured visit to the Lecture Theater for Prof M's sake, but for it also is my good friend's birthday. (You might recall him as the one with Orkut profile in red boxers! ) Now, ever so cruelly, when everybody was busy kicking his ass at the stroke of midnight , I was snoring (which in itself is a kind of an achievement,though.) So now I am left with no options but to make it up.

    But then, now I have no idea how to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his move out from his mother's uterus. I might have all friends gather and sing "happy birthday" and even give him the ceremonial salute (which recently is being used here only for some real bond people), but as you may realize all this requires a whole lotta planning and "I dont know what I'll do the next minute" sort of a person, just doesn't do that.

    Wednesday, February 09, 2005

    Are tabloids the way out?

    From an article in The McKinsey Quarterly on the dwindling sales of paid newpapers as consumers increasingly are turning to Internet and TV for their news feed:

    Newspapers have fought back with free subscription trials and other promotions, with advertising platforms such as new or expanded feature sections, and with better home and newsstand distribution. But struggling publishers often seek the quickest method to cut costs and increase circulation without harming ad revenues. Many, particularly in Europe, see their salvation in changing formats: they believe that switching to a more compact one, such as the tabloid format, may lift circulation by attracting disaffected newspaper readers, particularly teens and women. Higher circulation, in turn, stimulates demand for advertising, so newspapers can raise their ad rates. In some cases, the price of the newspapers can rise as well.
    Out here, what has the leading daily 'The Times of India' done. It has compromised on quality, ie, the content it offers. So from sincere and responsible journalism that for so long characterized the newspaper, we can see a marked shift to gossips, glitterati and skin-show. All this just for those circulation figures.

    It may not be a tabloid yet, but with this degrading standards in quality of content, with such uninspiring news reporting, with such bias in International affairs, there seems to be no reason compelling enough to subscribe to it. People would rather read The Hindu or The Indian Express.

    India : Powered by the Youth?

    I remember reading an article yesterday which read that India and China will become the world's number 1 and 2 ecomomies in the world by the end of year 2015. That article made a great reading and made me feel real proud. The reason India is bound to do well, it read, is because of its abundant 'young' people pool, with 65-70 % of population under the age of 35.

    Two things here, are mere numbers sufficient? What about the quality of these reources? And second, what is the youth doing in this country besides running for a "well deserved" job in an IT based company, or vying to be a doctor with a good practice. No more is the youth of this country interested in public service. The reason- an outdated, disgusting political system, with reservations for the elderly who are obviously(?) more intelligent. The last elections did see some "young faces" selected to represent the public. These weren't mere youngsters. They were scions of real big political families. Rahul Gandhi, Jyotiradiya Scindia, two names one would have believed would stand out and lead a fresh charge against so many issues that confront this country. The public took in this fresh wave and ensured them landslide victories, for they believed 'change' was in the offing.

    But when one looks at their status in Indian politics, one cant help wonder and feel pity at this ridiculous political system. Not one of them or the other 'young' leaders is even a minister of state, the cabinet being a distant dream. None of them have even raised an issue or spoken in the Parliament. They haven't been able to stand out as leaders with a different mindset, with ideas to propel India to the next league. All they appear are as obedient followers of the elderly politicians of this country. No wonder, ours probably will be the only country with the Minister for Youth Affairs and Sport aged 75 yrs. And that's not just it. The defence minister, home minister, external affairs minister and HRD minister are all above 70! (I had believed they were old, But this old! I realized this a few days ago reading about it in a newspaper)



    Sunday, February 06, 2005

    Gates and Davos Doodles

    The newspapers had proclaimed him as “a bit of a daydreamer hoping for the best”, someone who is struggling to concentrate, and someone who is not a natural leader.
    AS WORLD leaders discussed international aid for Africa, Tony Blair scribbled notes and doodled. Unfortunately for him, after the World Economic Summit in Davos, Switzerland, his notes fell into the hands of a Emma Bache, a graphologist.

    Her verdict: the Prime Minister’s surprisingly chaotic script indicates an aggressive, unstable man who is feeling under enormous pressure.
    Interesting huh, with all the spices for the media, but as it turns out, these weren't doodles by the Prime Minister. These were actually by Bill Gates {someone not(?) a natural leader!!!}.
    From The Seattle Times:

    "They said he wasn't a natural leader, he was nervous, a lot of things," Gates recounted yesterday during a speech at an Office System software-developers conference on Microsoft's Redmond campus. "Well, they forgot to check whose doodles those were. Actually they were my doodles, and so I thought I'd let you know exactly what I had (written)."

    Gates displayed a page of scribbled notes on large display screens, then zoomed in for a closer look at several passages: "Why does Bill Clinton get to sit next to Angelina Jolie?" the first said. The next said "I miss Clippy," and included a drawing of the animated paper clip that provided user tips in older versions of Office.

    I had never imagined something as trivial as doodles could create such a fuss!!

    Thursday, February 03, 2005

    Jordan signs Narain Karthikeyan

    Its official now! The fastest Indian in the world- Narain Karthikeyan marks his entry into the top echelons of motor sport. The dreams of a million Indian Formula1 fans have come true, as he secures a drive with Jordan in the 2005 Formula One world championship.

    So now you know who I'll be cheering for this season! Schumi, for once, will have to take the backseat


    "I've got the hopes of a nation behind me so I've no choice but to succeed." -Narain

    Wednesday, February 02, 2005

    "Lucky" Kit Kats

    What would a lucky charm have to do with a chocolate bar? You would've known if you were in Japan or had read this news item on BBC. Japanese students have adopted Kit kat bars as a lucky charm resulting in enormous increase in the sales of these chocolate bars. The name actually resembles the Japanese expression - "kitto katsu" used by students to wish each other luck before exams and is translated roughly as: "I hope you will win."

    Now I know what to do this Monday morning before I enter my examination hall - Get someone to buy me a Kit Kat!

    Tuesday, February 01, 2005

    Karthikeyan to race in F1 circuit

    It was in the offing for a long time. The whole country believed that if there was one Indian who could make it to the high profile glamorous world of F1, it had to be Narain Karthikeyan, dubbed as the fastest Indian in the world. But with opportunities to test drive for various F1 cars over the years still not translating into him being the First Indian on the F1 circuit, even the most ardent of his fans had given up hopes.

    However with news coming today of narain having agreed in principle, to race for the Jordan F1 team in the 2005 season, Narain has seen his dream of becoming India's first F1 driver become a reality. And the whole lot of F1 fans in India are now looking up at their icon to take on the likes of world champion Michael Schumacher and Barrichello and Button in his new Jordan.

    So what if we couldn't have an F1 circuit in India, we now have an Indian in the F1 circuit.