Friday, November 25, 2005

Google's Click-To-Call feature under testing

Being a Software developer in Telecom, I have been hearing about 'Click-To-Call' feature for a long time. Many technologies promised click-to-fax, click-to-call and likes, and there were many implementations particularly in the SIP world as well. But I haven't seen any website either on internet or intranet using this feature. And I happen to read this blog this morning which mentions about such testing going on from Google. Yet another first from Google.

http://www.yardley.ca/blog/index.php/archives/2005/11/23/google-tests-out-click-to-call-adwords/


I tried different searches, but did not see it myself. There are snapshots in the above blog however. There is a FAQ (http://www.google.com/help/faq_clicktocall.htmlFAQ ) also available on the Google site confirming it. Google might be using VOIP behind the curtains to connect the call. Yet another revolutionary introduction from Google. No wonder, analysts are expecting google share prices to go up to $500.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Latency vs. Bandwidth Developers vs. Einstein by Ingo Rammer

Interesting blog posting from Ingo Rammer. http://www.thinktecture.com/staff/ingo/weblog/archives/001431.html

Different perspective about why chunky interface are recommended over chatty interfaces.

Paul English's IVR Cheat Sheet

Link to the Cheat sheet:http://www.paulenglish.com/ivr/

Normally it takes around 15 minutes on most customer care service phone numbers to reach the human agents. But the cheet sheet provided by Paul English might give you the customer care agent at an average of 56 seconds, as per the news story on NPR. What a great relief.

I don't know how long this will work out. And how does it work if everyone try the same option? It has been really frustrating to get in touch with customer care agents. However short time it may workout, it is still a great relief.

I wish, the companies get the message and make it simple and really mean serving customer in providing easily accessible agents. I had a very painful experience with the customer care with Vonage, Uhaul and Budget truck rental and I summarized some of the reasons why customer service sucks for most of the companies along with detailed account of what happened in previous posts on my blog here.
Customer Service Sucks! Everywhere?
Vonage - Expecting good customer service is stupid
Uhaul, they stink
Budget Truck Rental Very tight budget for customer experiences.

Update: I tried calling Sprint PCS customer care, and I got agent just in few moments.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Skype client may steal your bandwidth

I was surprised to know that Skype steals my bandwidth for other Skype users without my notice. Skype architecture is not truly (traditional) peer to peer network, but an overlay P2P network and may steal your cpu/bandwidth[3]. I am not sure whether this is ever conveyed to the end user in terms and conditions or in license. Anyway, it was very interesting to learn the underlying architecture of the one of the most used applications of the day. And, I don't mind sharing my cpu/bandwidth for other skype users. Skype is such an wonderful application, that I don't want to abandon for this reason.

I searched for articles on Skype Architecture on google. Here are some of the links that explain the Skype architecture. I found the links to the first two articles at Brad Neuberg's blog - Coding in Paradise


  1. An Analysis of the Skype Peer-to-Peer Internet Telephony Protocol by Salman A. Baset and Henning Schulzrinne

  2. An Analysis of the Skype Peer-to-Peer Internet Telephony Protocol

  3. Challenges And Opportunities in Deploying IPV6 Applications There is fair amount of discussion over Skype architecture in this presentation


Some important points to note about Skype from the above three references:
"Skype is the first VoIP client based on peer-to-peer technology. We think that three factors are responsible for its increasing popularity. First, it provides better voice quality than MSN and Yahoo IM clients; second, it can work almost seamlessly behind NATs and firewalls; and third, it is extremely easy to install anduse."[1]
"Skype architecture is based on stealing someone else bandwidth, without their consent, for other parties to use."[3]

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Friday, November 18, 2005

Freedom with a Contract

Free enterprise in America does not necessarily entitle the customers with same level of freedom to choose. It is certainly becoming evident with wireless companies. I have been looking for a while to buy a new cell phone for my wife. I looked at all major operators and there are very few or no plans without a contract. I have to sign atleast a 1year contract to get a postpaid plan. And prepaid plans are very expensive. I thought prices will go down as markets and technology improve. But comparing with prices/features to a year back, it is required to pay atleast $10 for the same features, even after signing a contract. This is not the case in the other part of the world. The prices are going down and feature set is on the rise in other markets, while in US prices are on a steep rise.

Wireless Number Portability has been mandated (which allows to change the wireless carrier while keeping your old number), to provide more choice and freedom to customers to chose from. While all carriers agreed and provided the facility, they found a new way to prevent it from happenning in reality. They introduced contracts system, so that a subscriber is stuck with the same carrier atleast for 1 year. Most carriers have 2 years contracts for most of the plans. In effect, Wireless number portability becomes useless. So far, this feature has only provided more money to equipment vendors to support the feature and cost the subscriber a little more in terms of a regulatory fee to provide the feature. This is ridiculous.

While most of these 2 year contracts offers a free phone, I am not sure if it is still worth of the freedom one looses. You can not change the carrier. Period. Technically, you can. But will be paying around $200 as early termination fee, which does not make sense to most subscribers. So, they will end up using the same service, however deeply they hate it.

High Speed Internet via DSL - 1 Year Contract
Apartment Lease - 1 Year Contract
Satelite Dish - 1 Year Contract
Job - oops, you can be fired before you finish reading this posting.

Migrated to Wordpress

Successfully imported all my posts on blogger to wordpress. Thanks to Andy Skelton's tool [ http://www.skeltoac.com/2005/03/12/from-blogger-to-wordpress-2/trackback/ ] and excellent tutorial at http://catsutorials.catsudon.org/?p=15. The tutorial has step by step instructions to import the content from blogger. Thank you very much Andy.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

USPS is Spamming my mail box

I am not talking about emails sent by USPS to the online users, but the snail mails sent to every american resident and organization that have a postal address. Everyday I receive junk mail from USPS in my mail box. I have to search through the junk each and every day for the mail that I really needed.

Spamming is very well known word in the online world. Everybody in the world who has an email account suffered due to Email Spamming. Wikipedia describes spamming as "Spamming is the use of any electronic communications medium to send unsolicited messages to someone in bulk. While its definition is usually limited to indiscriminate bulk mailing and not any targeted marketing, the term "spam" can refer to any commercially oriented, unsolicited bulk mailing perceived as being excessive and undesired". And there are so many laws around it to protect innocent victims.

Well, in the plain old world, USPS, the United States Postal Service does a lot of this by dumping so many advertisements and booklets like Valpak coupon books each and everyday. Every day, every american served by USPS has to suffer because of this spamming. Why this spamming of your mail boxes is allowed?

Is there any way, I can prevent this from happenning? Any help?

India In News

"India in News" is a news feed digest that provides latest news about India, has been added to this blog. So whenever you visit this blog, you can also see latest news about India right on this page, after the blog items. Scroll down if you don't see news digest in your window. An rss feed is also available for the news digest in the blogrolls section.

The news search is provided by Google via RSS and multiple such searches are digested and made in to one RSS feed, thanks to http://www.feeddigest.com for such a handy feature.

Photos from Disney Magic Kingdom trip



Photos from my Orlando trip.

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

History's Worst Software Bugs

An interesting collection of history’s worst software bugs. There are so many wonderful bugs that haven’t made this list….. like the bug that crashed a premier Wireless Service Provider’s Mobile switches in Dallas last tuesday. But a good historical tally of some of the worst by Simson Garfinkel.

“Last month automaker Toyota announced a recall of 160,000 of its Prius hybrid vehicles following reports of vehicle warning lights illuminating for no reason, and cars’ gasoline engines stalling unexpectedly. But unlike the large-scale auto recalls of years past, the root of the Prius issue wasn’t a hardware problem — it was a programming error in the smart car’s embedded code. The Prius had a software bug.

With that recall, the Prius joined the ranks of the buggy computer — a club that began in 1947 when engineers found a moth in Panel F, Relay #70 of the Harvard Mark 1 system. The computer was running a test of its multiplier and adder when the engineers noticed something was wrong. The moth was trapped, removed and taped into the computer’s logbook with the words: “first actual case of a bug being found.”

Read Article

Invaluable Essays by Scott

Invaluable Essays on Software Development/Project Management and every thing about software by Scott.
http://www.scottberkun.com/essays/

Smoking kills an estimated 400,000 Americans ??

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/sci_tech/features/health/tobaccotrial/usa.htm

Who is responsible for this?
Tobocco companies are talking about responsible marketing, advertising to quit smoking, opening new web sites to inform smokers about the risks of smoking. Come on, there is one big step that these tobocco companies can take to give those 400,000 lives back....(at least won't kill any more) by stopping production of cigarettes. If they think they are so socially responsible why do they abet the killing of so many people every year.

America is Spending billions of dollars on War On Terror to fight out the external militants. What about people who are killing 400,000 people every year in America??

"We are an international company, we operate in nearly 180 countries and territories. There is a health warning on every packet and every carton of our cigarettes, no matter where they are sold in the world - even where governments don't require it. We want to do the right thing." - Mr.Harris, Phillip Morris

I believe, the right thing is to stop producing cigarettes. Not producing them and then spending millions of dollars on advertisements to stop smoking.

Monday, November 7, 2005

Communism in Capitalism via Insurance

Capitalism : Compact Oxford English Dictionary defines Capitalism as "An economic and political system in which a countrys trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state."
Communism : Communism refers to a theoretical system of social organization and a political movement based on common ownership of the means of production. As a political movement, communism seeks to overthrow capitalism through a workers' revolution and establish a classless society. -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communism

In simple words, Capitalism recognises classes like rich and poor in the society, while Communism removes classes from society. As per communism, everybody enjoys the benefits irrespective of whether everybody contributed to it. If you see how the insurance works, there is a striking shadow of communism in capitalism. Everybody pays the insurance. But only few will reap the benefits. In other words, if you are paying your medical insurance, you are paying up every one's medical bills. Believe it or not, it is true.

The whole insurance industry runs on the principle that only a few will need to use the insurance amount. If every body gets sick and need serious medical attention to the maximum limits possible, then insurance company will go bankrupt immediately. Health insurance companies use the term "adverse selection" to describe the tendency for sick people to be more likely to sign up for health insurance. Then who will pay for their medical bills? In most cases, you do. According to the latest United States Census Bureau figures, approximately 85% of Americans have health insurance. Approximately 60% obtain health insurance through their place of employment or as individuals, and various government agencies provide health insurance to 25% of Americans. In most cases, believe me it is true that these employees or individuals do not use any insurance benefits.

So everybody in America shares the burden of medical bills for a select few who suffer. Doesn't it charity in the guise. Doesn't it a true sense of communism in the guise of capitalism?
I believe so.

Thursday, November 3, 2005

Microsoft Live Ideas. Btw, what is an idea and What is New??

An idea (Greek: ιδέα) is a specific thought or concept that arises in the mind
of a person as a result of thinking. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idea

I am afraid, folks at Microsoft have a different meaning of what constitutes an idea. I have trouble understanding about this hyped strategy.

I read this news every where in the last couple of days about Microsoft opening up its services on the web. A fusion of Software and Services. "Live era" of software. Peeling off all the marketing hype and visionary overheads, it is a set of web based services like email, blogs, messaging, security, document sharing etc. These services will not be free, but will be based on advertisements and subscriptions. In simple words, application hosting service. Small businesses instead of buying the software may purchase a license to use them on the web, live. So whatz new? I am not sure what is so ground breaking strategy it is. So I visited the web site http://www.live.com/ to figure it out.

Here are the grand ideas on live.com.
Live.com : "Sign in, get the content you want—news, sports, search results, whatever—add columns, and move stuff around at will. It’s all you." Doesn't it look like a personal home page services offered by yahoo (myYahoo) and Google. Indeed, it is just the same. I don't understand, Why should one pay for this service?

LiveMail: "It’s all new web mail, built from the ground up. Preview your e-mail without loading a new page each time (like Outlook®) drag and drop messages into folders, and generally power through your e-mail in a flash. " This is an email service based on Ajax. Google gmail does all this stuff and give 2gig at no cost. Why should anybody pay for it? Yeah, few people who do not know about gmail.

Okay, enough. Some body dare to call them ideas? There is nothing new about these IDEAS, and I don't want to pay for nothing for any of these live services. Live Favourites, Live office, Live messenger, and Live Search......., give me a break. Are these the ideas that Bill gates want to show as an answer to the "Google Services" and/or Google Labs http://labs.google.com/?
Visit the Google Services page or Google labs and figure out yourself.

NDTV.com : Fact or Allegation ? Just another twisted title for sensationalism

This is yet another example of NDTV.com’s sensationalism twisted titles. The title says, as if this was a fact, woman made to urinate in pub...