Saturday, October 29, 2005

Happy Diwali !

I am heading off to home for a week where I will be celebrating the festival of Diwali with my parents and friends. I'll be back on the 5th of November and so, in this period any updates on this blog would only be sporadic, if not completely non-existent.

Wishing you all a very Happy Diwali!

Happy Diwali from enginerd

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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Yoono - Collaborative Searching and Sharing

Just read on Netanel Jacobsson's blog about Yoono, a collaborative searching, exchanging and information sharing service. The service is employing a unique approach by indexing "web users' bookmarks to overcome problems of language, synonyms and other syntaq quirks."


Yoono
Yoono is a free software application you can download which combines for the first time the management and sharing of information. Based on pooling user knowledge, yoono is a collaborative search engine and an innovative communication tool.
With yoono, don’t search alone, share with those that know...

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Scoble Family on Blogosphere

If one Scoble wasn't enough to 'rule' the blogosphere, now we have the whole Scoble family Blogging. Robert's wife Maryam already blogs at MSN Spaces and the blogosphere now witnesses the arrival of Robert's son Patrick.

Guess what the title of his blog reads. MiniScoblizer. And the tag line: "I'm the son of a 40 year old blogger you can check his blog at scobleizer.wordpress.com."

Here's what Scoble had to say about MiniScoble using Blogger:
I sense he’s just trying to be rebellious. First an iPod. Now he’s using a Google blog tool. I gotta straighten him out. He’s only 11. Imagine how rebellious he’ll be when he’s 14!!
And just in case you didn't know, Robert's brother Alex blogs too!


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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Creepy Mobile phones

I have never owned a mobile phone that had the habit of going into a "hang" mode every other moment and that had to be hit with the palm or tapped not-so-gently at the table to get it up running again and do what it is supposed to do. Tales of such a mobile phone:
  • In the middle of a call, the phone "hangs". The conversation isn't possible but the call is still being charged for. And no matter what he tries, the phone refuses to respond. Furious, my friend pulls out the battery. Order restored.
  • The poor chap is discussing his project with the the Professor. Suddenly there is a beep. Followed by another one. And another. And then the discreet beeps turn into a constant "beepbeepbeep... "putting the powerful Nokia vibration mode into hyperactivity. Chaos as the Professor watched him hitting the phone at the table. All without any success.

The lucrative terrain

The Guardian has an article by Jonathan Freedland on the "multi-million-pound industry intent on turning teenagers and toddlers alike into avaricious consumers."

According to the article, an average British child is familiar with up to 400 brand names by the time he has reached the age of 10! "Researchers report that our children are more likely to recognize Ronald McDonald and the Nike swoosh than Jesus. One study found that 69% of all three-year-olds could identify the McDonald's golden arches - while half of all four-year-olds did not know their own name."
There is, in other words, an enormous children's marketplace, and it is lucrative terrain. The under-16s spend an estimated £30bn a year, including £6bn on clothes and £2bn on toys. Eight in 10 kids have their own TV in their room; half have a DVD player or a video. A million children under nine own a mobile phone. One in five have internet access. With more pocket money than ever before - over £6 a week for the seven to 11 age group and more than £9 for the under-16s - they are a highly-prized target audience. And make no mistake, they are being targeted.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Google Base

Google Base is the latest from Google! While the word was floating around the web about the subdomain base.google.com, I wasn't able to have a look at it as Google had pulled it down showing a 403 Forbidden Error. However, just trying randomly, I could get a peek when the site went live momentarily.

The moment I keyed in the URL http://base.google.com, I was greeted by a weird looking screen that asked me to sign in with a Google Account. The screen however was restored to normality with me signing into my Gmail account.

Google Base Homepage Screenshot


Google Base Homepage Screenshot

What Google Base does is however not amply clear from what is there on the homepage. The FAQ page is still not up showing an "Oops...We didn't understand that. You have tried to access a non-existent page.” " message. The desciption from the Google Base homepage reads:
Post your items on Google.

Google Base is Google's database into which you can add all types of content. We'll host your content and make it searchable online for free.

Examples of items you can find in Google Base:


Description of your party planning service

Articles on current events from your website

Listing of your used car for sale

Database of protein structures

You can describe any item you post with attributes, which will help people find it when they search Google Base. In fact, based on the relevance of your items, they may also be included in the main Google search index and other Google products like Froogle and Google Local.
I tried to post something on Google Base but the got the following error:

For input string: "-5.5"
Error 500
Also, none of the links on the page about Privacy policy, Terms of service, Program policies, and Frequently asked questions (FAQ) worked. All these links currently link to non-existent pages.

I can't wait to see what actually this is all about. There are already speculations about it from being a potential rival to eBay and Craiglist, to Google creating a new GoogleSQL. The earlier one seems more probable. Lets see...

Update:

Google's response at Official Google Blog
You may have seen stories today reporting on a new product that we're testing, and speculating about our plans. Here's what's really going on. We are testing a new way for content owners to submit their content to Google, which we hope will complement existing methods such as our web crawl and Google Sitemaps. We think it's an exciting product, and we'll let you know when there's more news.

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Monday, October 24, 2005

Entrepreneurship

The last weekend I headed off to attend an entrepreneurship seminar, accompanied by two of my friends. The place was buzzing with activity, with an abundant supply of ideas on just about any topic. I met a bunch of really wonderful people, both management and engineering undergrads like me. Quite a lot of companies, some what you would call the top guns in the Fortune 500 list, and some Indian startups, were present at the place and it was simply wonderful to be listening to some of these guys who had made successful entrepreneurs.

Back at campus now, I see myself buried neck deep in assignments, pending projects, presentations, and what not! Almost all projects I am working on currently are approaching their deadline dates at a pace too close for comfort! But then, there is the advantage of working in a team packed with smart guys: They always get the work done with you!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

MySpace

You see statistics like these and begin to wonder what really is happening to the web? Is the dominance of the big guns such as Google, Microsoft, and others coming to an end?

Here are the six web properties with the most pages viewed (remember ads run is mostly equal to pages viewed on the web):

Yahoo! - 43,700MM
Time Warner - 31,600MM (AOL is roughly 70% of this)
Microsoft - 21,800MM (MSN is part of this)
eBay - 10,900MM
MySpace - 9,600MM
Google - 6,300MM

Notwithstanding the somewhat interesting fact that Google is a relatively small page view generator, which makes sense given their reliance on search, the shocking fact is how fast MySpace is catching up to the big guys.

And what's even more amazing is that MySpace's page views have grown 50% in the past three months.

My first experience of MySpace was quite some time ago, as we were browsing through (actually studying them inside out) all the social-networking sites, like Orkut, Friendster, and Wallop for the next killer-Social-Networking-platform we were to build. And honestly, my team, including me, did not have a very high opinion of MySpace . It seemed far less appealing, far less inviting, than some of the others we came across.

Then came the big news, Rupert Murdoch had bought MySpace as a part of his big Internet plans. Suddenly, my interest in it was rekindled. I had to dig out the lost account that I had created but not used for very long, and was back MySpacing. MySpace looked bigger, and more happening. It was quite mind boggling to see so much of activity around. For all the unusable features it threw at the user, it was astonishingly bustling with activity.

MySpacing had turned into a rage. While I could see the impact of Orkut in the campus gradually declining, in part due to the boredom creeping in, and in part because of academic obligations, with MySpace, it was totally different. MySpace was taking over the territory that was once dominated by the Instant Messengers. People found the idea of leaving a message in public domain, that was non transient, much more appealing than an easily forgotten casual IM chat. It sounded weird but it was the way it was. Some of the self-admitted MySpace freaks I came across were living a Myspaced life checking on each other's activities, leaving comments, posting weird pictures, making suggestive remarks and changing silly profile titles innumerous times a day! Baffling as it is, MySpace had emerged as a way of life: a really cool way of life!

And so, these stats do not surprise me! It may not be a direct threat to Google and Microsoft, for they are completely different paradigms in my opinion, but it is something big happening on the web currently.

It may not be completely wrong to say that MySpace actually turns out to be one of the best examples of Web 2.0, incorporating collaboration, information dissemination, networking and community participation, all without the hype of the AJAX.

(And just so you know, we did build what we had set out to. Only never got anyone to host it for us.)

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Update: Adam Lashinsky has published this story on Rupert's Web strategy: http://www.fortune.com/fortune/technology/articles/0,15114,1117673,00.html.

Startups for a stronger Resume?

When the whole web is abuzz with keywords such as Ajax, Web 2.0, Meebo and all, there is some uncertainity about how this new Internet Bubble will shape up.

Mike at Techdirt writes that some of these new startups may be only to actually stand out for the crowd and act as a strong resume.

While the complaint is that so many of these companies are built to flip rather than to be sustainable businesses, some are noticing that this process is really just a better way for some to stand out and get a job. You build a company quickly and cheaply that gets some attention, and a bigger company comes along to scoop up your company, giving you a nice "signing bonus." In effect, the purpose of these companies is to act as a strong resume to stand out from the crowd.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Yet another to-do list

Remember The MilkHere is another AJAXy to-do list manager, not very unlike Ta-da Lists, with a very unusual title - Remember the Milk. I gave it a try and it looks wonderful, especially the interface. What fascinated me the most was their sign-up form which is incredibly user-friendly.
Remember The Milk is the easiest and best way to manage your to-do lists online. Here are just a few of the reasons why it's so cool:

Features galore.

Sharing, publishing, notes... we've got it all.
Get reminded.
Receive reminders via email, instant messenger, and SMS.
It's free.
Hard to believe, we know, but it's true.


Try it out here!

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Sania Mirza : Changing the World?

India's rebel tennis star now makes it to the list of the the ten people capable of changing the world by London's intellectual weekly New Statesman. This comes days after she was declared by Time Asia as one of the Asian Heroes for 2005.

In his article on Sania Mirza, Jason Cowley writes:
It is difficult to believe that a slender, 18-year-old Muslim tennis player from India has the potential to change the world, but it is equally difficult to overestimate the effect Sania Mirza is having on millions of young men and women, and especially women, in the world's second most populous country. She is the first female Indian tennis player to be ranked in the world's top 40; indeed, she is the first significant female athlete of any kind, in a country where women have been typically discouraged from taking up sport. Mirza has the discipline, the tenacity, the flamboyance...


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Monday, October 17, 2005

enginerd v2.0

And finally, after tons and tons of procrastination, if tons could be a better measure of procrastination than silly units of time, "enginerd" has a new template.

For sometime now, I was planning on making a three-column layout, for the unbounding list of items I think should be placed in the 'enginerd sidebar.' The colour scheme, as you would have observed isn't entirely different from what we had in v0.9 and v1.0. The white background stays with the ususal orange thrown around. I have tried a different shade of blue for the links this time. I am not too sure, if it needs more whitespace, but we'll figure it out soon with the feedback ;)

Meanwhile, the F1 season is over. Ferrari and Schumacher didn't really have it their way, and Karthikeyan, who made all the hype being the first F1 driver from India, didn't really do anything out of the ordinary leaving the only chance of him racing next season with Ecclestone suddenly deciding that F1 could do with some 6, 7 or 8 new teams. Since that isn't remotely possible, his stint with Formula 1 isn't likely to continue.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sue us!

Kiruba created this tee at Cafepress for all us bloggers!

Sue me tee

Friday, October 14, 2005

Rustle the Leaf : Environmental Comic

I wrote the other day about UNICEF choosing Smurf cartoons to convey the impact of war on children. So while the idea of bombing the Smurfs out of existence seemed outrageous to many, it still hit home. I have always believed that comics/cartoons are a wonderful way of putting your message across. They have this zing attached to them, an uncanny knack of attracting attention of all, across all ages.

Rustle the Leaf is another such endeavour to sensitize the citizens of the world about the environment where Rustle and his friends communicate the essential environment themes and truths through a comic strip. The objective of this environmental comic is to "encourage environmentalists, to facilitate the sharing of environmental views in an engaging, nonconfrontational manner, and to introduce and reinforce environmental education with people ages 6 to 106."

Visit:
Rustle the leaf
Rustlemania Blog Site


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Thursday, October 13, 2005

Master's Thesis on Blogging

Apparently, Scoble is synonymous to Blogging. No wonder, James Torio mentions Robert Scoble in his Masters Thesis on "Social Phenomenon of Blogs"

... [Scoble] seems sane, reasonable, trustworthy, human and somebody who knows what heÂ’s talking about. Which to me helps make Microsoft seem likewise.

One guy and his Blog, doing more real good for his company than any multi-million dollar ad agency campaign could ever hope to achieve.

James Torio's thesis is available as pdf.

via Scobelizer, Doc Searl's Weblog

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Singapore School issues Blogging guidelines for students

Zhi Yang's school, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, sent him some "very important info" to protect him and many others like him!

...While you Blog, please stay on the right side of the Law and stay sensitive to other people around you. Do not blog on things that promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races or classes of the population of Singapore (Section 4 of the Sedition Act).

Students should use the blog appropriately and not to misuse it to arouse social disorder or 'flame' a person online. In a multi-racial society like in Singapore, every citizen or resident should respect other races and religions. As all Bloggers are personally responsible for what they blog, please be careful.

Regards
Computer Centre
Ngee Ann Polytechnic


I'd say this is sensible on the part of Ngee Ann. With so many controversies raging up recently because of Blogging, it is better to have the students already cautioned. No denying the fact that majority of Bloggers are responsible netizens, but still why have someone face any sort of consequences just because of sheer ignorance.

Read: Ngee Ann Poly thinks its students are dumbasses

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Apple's Video iPod

iPod VideoLast year we had Steve Jobs with the following response to the question on what was next for the iPod users, full color video, color screen?
"It's the music, stupid." We have to stay focused on the fact that people are buying these devices to listen to music. People love music. They love listening to music as a background activity when they're doing..when they're exercising, when they are commuting and when they are just hanging out, and music is a wonderful thing because: A, it's music; and B, because it can be listened to as a background activity. And a lot of these other things that people are talking about building in such as video and things like that are foreground activities.

So, we really are very focused on music because that's what we think, that's where we think the revolution is here.

Certainly Video iPod looked like a pretty bad idea at the moment. Not anymore. The new iPod Video is here!


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Smurf Village obliterated

Smurf Village obliteratedA 25 second film, being screened in Belgium as a public service announcement shows the Smurf village, obliterated by an air raid. The final frame of this short video put together by UNICEF reads: "Don't let war affect the lives of children."

According to the advertising agency behind the campaign, Smurf was chosen as it was felt that "the best way to convey the impact of war on children was to tap into the earliest, happiest memories of Belgian television viewers."

Just wondering, what cartoon strip would they choose, if they were to similarly tap into the earliest, happiest memories of American President and convey the impact of war?

In case you are interested in watching the carpet bombing of Smurf Village, get the video here.


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The Web 2.0 Buzz

Beyond Web 2.0 has this article on What Web 2.0 isn't:

Web 2.0 is not “an AJAX” application; although it may use AJAX.

Web 2.0 is not a desktop application ported to the web; although it could be a new

Web Application that renders an existing desktop application outdated, or creates a completely new type of application (Flick’R).

Web 2.0 is not “Social Networking”; although I do believe Social Networking is a cornerstone of Web 2.0.

Web 2.0 is only Web 2.0 when it accomplishes all of the above, and keeps in mind that, “I cannot be trusted with my data”.

An AJAX site that doesn’t manage my data, and backups of that data, is not Web 2.0.

A Web Application that does not solve my data management problems is not Web 2.0.

A Social Networking application that doesn’t provide for management of my data and selective sharing of my data is not a Web 2.0 application.


What is really surprising is that no Indian Company seems to be willing to take the plunge with Web 2.0. The potential is immense, opportunities are aplenty, and yet we haven't really heard of any company being seriously interested in it.


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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Enabling Blogger Backlinks

Blogger now provides Backlinks, just like Trackbacks, to keep track of all the webpages that link to your Blogger post. Backlinks basically is based on the link: operator of Blog Search. This imposes a restiction: All sites linking to your blog will need to be indexed by Blog Search.

Here's how you can enable Blogger Backlinks:

On your Blogger Dashboard, under Settings>Comments, you'll find an option to turn Backlinks ON/OFF.

Blogger Backlinks On/Off

Now, if you are using a standard Blogger template, you need nothing else to turn Backlinks on. But if you have your own template, then you'll have to make changes to your template code. This is what you'll be required to do in this case:

1. Place the following code between <Blogger> and </Blogger>

<BlogItemBacklinksEnabled>
<a class="comment-link" href="<$BlogItemPermalinkUrl$>#links">
Links to this post</a>
</BlogItemBacklinksEnabled>


2. Now within the <ItemPage> and </ItemPage>, place the following piece of code:

<BlogItemBacklinksEnabled>
<a name="links"></a>
<h4>Links to this post:</h4>
<dl id="comments-block">
<BlogItemBacklinks>
<dt class="comment-title">
<$BlogBacklinkControl$>
<a href="<$BlogBacklinkURL$>" rel="nofollow">
<$BlogBacklinkTitle$></a> <$BlogBacklinkDeleteIcon$>
</dt>
<dd class="comment-body"><$BlogBacklinkSnippet$>
<br />
<span class="comment-poster">
<em>posted by <$BlogBacklinkAuthor$> @
<$BlogBacklinkDateTime$></em>
</span>
</dd>
</BlogItemBacklinks>
</dl>
<p class="comment-timestamp"><$BlogItemBacklinkCreate$></p>
</BlogItemBacklinksEnabled>


You may need to change the CSS styles that blend well in your template. Turning of backlinks is simple. Again from the Settings > Comments, select the Hide Backlinks option. In case you wish to disable Backlinks for individual posts, then its done the same way as turning off comments. You just edit the post in question and change the options that appear below the posting form:

Blogger Backlinks


That is it. With the introduction of Backlinks, Bloggers no longer need to use Technorati tags and other tools to know who are linking to their posts. Just how efficient is this offering from Google, we'll have to wait and see.

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Kashmir Earthquake : The toll keeps rising

The death toll continues to mount in Saturday's earthquake that hit the Kashmir region. According to some reports, the toll in Indian administered Kashmir itself has touched 1000.

Let us all take a moment to pray for those who are suffering, and for those who couldn't survive this terrible disaster.

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Monday, October 10, 2005

The Great Indian Blog Controversy

Back after a three-day break and I am shocked to see this controversy that has broken out in the Indian Blogosphere.

It feels terrible to have missed out on truckloads of action! :(


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Friday, October 07, 2005

Google Reader

Google just launched their RSS Reader, Google Reader. It looks real cool and certainly a competition killer. It is running too slowly now, with lots of people taking their first look at it. I was trying to import my OPML file but it just wouldn't let me do that. Too slow at the moment. But then, as things cool off, it certainly looks like an easy way to read all my feeds online.

Update:
After a long long wait, The OPML subscriptions have been imported and this is how my Google Reader looks like. Looking forward to playing around with it, but on first looks, it makes fantastic use of AJAX lending ability to sort and organize content very efficiently. And Gmail's "star" thingy is over here too.


Google Reader Screenshot


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Movie Review: A Lot Like Love

A Lot Like LoveIts a story about two young people meeting on an airplane, and an on- off kind of a relationship that follows over a course of seven long years. A Lot Like Love is not just your another romantic comedy, but it is about something more, something really deeper, more heartfelt.

Emily, played by Amanda Peet (The Whole Ten Yards) and Oliver, played by Ashton Kutcher have this fling on board an aircraft; spend a day together, only to meet after years. Their paths cross occasionally; situations draw them to each other, and then keep them apart. Somehow the sparks never really occur, either due to his career ambitions or her mates. But there's always the chemistry between them!

A Lot like Love : Review

The best part is that the story feels refreshingly real. The casting works wonderfully well too. The two characters Oliver and Emily have a wonderful chemistry going and while Amanda Pete looks great, carefree, and idiotic all at the same time, Ashton Kutcher is his usual good. He is not your usual super-successful guy in the film. He doesn't always end up winning, doesn't get what he wants, which makes it look that much more natural.

I actually enjoyed the movie, and would recommend it if you aren't really one of those who really give 'originality' and 'intelligence' too much thought.

Sania Mirza : Asian Hero

Sania Mirza
"India's rebel tennis star
," as Sania Mirza is referred to in the latest issue of the Time Asia, becomes the second Indian sports person after Virender Sehwag to feature in the list of Time Magazine's Asia's Heroes 2005.


From Time Asia:
When tennis' latest star made the third round of the U.S. Open last month, she showed up at a post-match press conference in a T-shirt that read: "I'm cute? No shit." That—and her court play—certainly got her noticed. Suddenly, India's Sania Mirza was the tournament's "most popular player" (Reuters), whose "racket bag was sagging with the weight of a country's expectations" (New York Times). "Her diamond-studded nose ring" was one clue Mirza was not "your typical teenage prodigy," wrote USA Today, which also spotlighted her "smashmouth ground strokes and go-for-broke style."
And, just in case you haven't yet noticed, this blog finally features a picture of her!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Blogging unltd.

Yesterday night, the enginerd and the moron were discussing about some interesting new professions that have come to demand serious attention due to the way the web is being redefined. The ones that came to our minds immediately were SEO and Blogging. Where my friend was completely gungho about blogging, I remain skeptical to plain Blogging as a profession. I do realize that there are people like Scoble and Jason, but still, there aren't all that many who are 'only' Bloggers. Plus, there is always the chance to be dooced!

By the way, here's Dilbert on how to get fired for blogging!

Monday, October 03, 2005

What I did today

OK. This is a title lifted straight of a blog that I stumbled upon while clicking on the Blogger Next Blog button. And, in a way, the title actually paves way for this post, but it may be misleading as I intend to write only about what I did this evening. And please do not worry, for this post should not be an indicator that the enginerd weblog is turning into a crappy I slept... I woke up... I ate ... kind of a blog.

'Web Services' has been the talk around the campus for quite sometime, atleast in my circle of people. For some, it is only because of the assignment (of which they unjustifiably make heavy weather of,) and for some others, it is only because of their quest to impress our Professor who called this big shot from IBM Research wing to deliver a lecture on Selection of 3rd Party Web Services and all. Somehow, it was a stark contrast to some of the earlier invited lectures, this one was really impressive and with our knowledge in the field, very informative. I cant recall attending a session so interesting in the recent past.

Someone told me once that a person's attitude is best judged by his attitude on a sports field. And that is exactly what I experienced on the volleyball court today. I could see some people playing the game all tensed up, overkeen on winning, thereby making it a pressure-cooker scenario. The end result: they ended up making too many unforced mistakes, blabbering excuses, complaining and blaming all around them. Sportsmanship certainly wasn't the order off the hour.

Apple and the iPod Nano

When a company responds the way Apple has done to its iPod Nano fragility issue, it is bound to do some serious damage to its reputation.
“This is a real but minor issue involving a vendor quality problem in a small number of units,” said Schiller. “In fact, this issue has affected less than 1/10 of 1 percent of the total iPod nano units that we’ve shipped. It is not a design issue.”
This is certainly one time Microsoft guys would be cheering for Apple, only hoping for them to just mess it all up.