Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Triple play, Quadruple play or NO play - Confused Telcos in a frenzy

Telcos, analysts and Business management consultants are thinking they found a new mantra to survive in the free and innovation led internet dominated world. Bundled services. They must have realized they do not have anything NEW to offer. So they are repackaging what they have in bundles to live longer. The terms convergence, Triple play and Quadruple play along with IMS are the most hyped words in the recent months, that offer no or little NEW value to the Telco's networks. They are sure however to fill the pockets of analysts, consultants and vendors.

Telcos gripped with fear from VOIP, internet applications and fear of ending up as fat pipes, are looking desperately for advice from people who have no stake in Telco business. The analysts and the Business Management Consultants. They are trying their best to do what they do best. Keep the confusion alive and make it proactively more dreadful than the reality. The result is chaotic strategies and action in hurry... may be just to die sooner than expected. I wish they realize soon.

The new VOIP services like Vonage, Skype are creating a considerable dent in thier revenues. This is equally important for both Mobile and Fixed operators. A larger chunk of calls made on mobiles are made when people are at their homes, airports, hotels, starbucks etc. These days, more people started using VOIP Phones when they are at home, in office, at starbucks or at an airport. In other words, no more long distance calls and Lesser and lesser mobile calls. More and more people are substituting landline and mobile phone calls with internet based services and chats.

How does Triple/Quadruple play or convergence solve this issue? The same analysts, consultants and telcos once created strategies to substitute landline phones with mobiles. They bragged a lot about it investors conferences. Now they are playing the game in the reverse direction.

Seems there is nothing NEW to offer. So bundling all they have or they can get to customers seems to be the one and only choice. Bundling landline, mobile, internet service and TV as one package. Why would anybody buy this package? I don't know. Few things Telcos were advised to do and This is what I know and think of it.

  1. Originally, many people dropped their landline phones when they bought mobiles, thanks to family plans, everyone in family has a phone. It was technically called 'Substitution' by analysts. Why would they buy again landline service now?

  2. Many people dropped thier landlines phones and cutting on their minutes by using cheaper alternatives like skype, google talk, yahoo voice chat etc. So they are infact using internet to cutdown their expenses on Mobile and landline. Now why would anybody buy landline and mobile while all internet services are still working so fine. Infact, they are improving on day by day at an alarming proportion.

  3. Block all VOIP services, ask internet companies to pay and introduce their own VOIP services, tiered internet..... read more about Net Neutrality discussion. No way they can get it. I believe they understand it fair and straight. The commotion, rush and desperation are honest symbols of their confidence in winning against net neutrality.

  4. To get a decent quality of TV over IP, you need atleast 5-10 Mbps connection. Its not that easy to get a customer buy those expensive connections and buy programming on top of it just to watch TV.


May be I am missing some thing in the whole hypedup new bundle of age old services? But I am sure mine and a lot more consumer's bucks deserve a lot more value than the telcos dream of.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

IBM's annual investor briefing in Bangalore

Gravity shifts to Bangalore not just for its Software Programmers, but this time for IBM investors. IBM's annual Investor briefing will be held in Bangalore June 6-7. Got the message?
News Link at Yahoo 

IBM's annual investor briefing is typically held in a bland hotel conference room in New York. But this year look for something radically different. It's kicking off the event 10,000 miles away at Bangalore Palace, a sprawling Colonial-era edifice modeled on Britain's Windsor Castle, in the heart of India's Silicon Valley. Speakers at the June 6-7 extravaganza will include Indian President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and Diya Mirza, Bollywood's answer to Lindsay Lohan, who will emcee an event attended by 10,000 IBMers.

Friday, May 26, 2006

US Senate to double H1B visas up to 115,000

Exciting news for Illegal mexican immigrants in US and H1B visa aspirants:

US Senate to double H1B VisasThe US Senate has approved a landmark Immigration Reform Bill that would give citizenship to millions of illegal people and double the number of H1B visas.

The move will also greatly benefit thousands of Indian software professionals who work in the US.

The Bill passed on Thursday provides for doubling the H1 B visas from the present 65,000 annually to nearly 1,15,000 and with a 20 per cent increase on an annual basis.

US House panel approves net neutrality bill

Good news for the Net Neutrality camp.
US House panel approves net neutrality bill
"A U.S. House of Representatives committee has approved a bill that would prohibit broadband providers from blocking or impairing their customers’ access to Web content offered by competitors.

The House Judiciary Committee voted 20-13 to approve the bill, called the Internet Freedom and Nondiscrimination Act. Bill sponsor James Sensenbrenner, the Republican chairman of the committee, was joined by a handful of Republicans and most of the committee’s Democrats in supporting the bill.

.. the Internet Freedom bill would require broadband providers to give independent content providers the same speed and quality of service as they have."

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Sprint Nextel Sues IBM Over Outsourcing

Another reason why US corporations should turn to Indian IT companies:-))) It may be crazy to say just based recent stories on this topic, but I am not aware of any corporation suing Indian IT company for not delivering on its promise so far. I believe the Indian IT companeis infact are little afraid of lawsuits still (:-)). Blessing in a disguise.
Sprint Nextel Sues IBM
Outsourcing may be one of the hottest trends in technology, but Sprint Nextel Corp. is so unhappy about one outsourcing contract that the company is suing.

Sprint Nextel filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Kansas, this week, claiming a deal with IBM failed to live up to expectations. The lawsuit seeks more than $6 million in damages, according to a report in the Kansas City Star.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

India reinventing untouchability??

If IIT Mumbai has 100 seats, 50 seats will be reserved for people belong to certain castes. People belong to other castes have only 50 seats for which people from all castes can compete. What does it mean? Untouchability in a new form?

India by providing reservations based on caste, is infact reinventing untouchability in a new form in the new world. One of the Key persons that drafted the Indian constitution understood the issue much better than other politicians of any day. He experienced the social outcast based on his caste first hand. When first introduced Reservations in India, the system was set only for 10 years. But the greedy politicians have been extending the reservations system from then on with only one motive, to win elections. Almost 60 years after introducing Reservations for the first time, by thinking about not only extending reservations but by also increasing the %, Indian Goverment is actively nourishing another new form of untouchability. The people who belong to so called forward/higher casts are now legally outcasted from their fundamental right to study and prosper. 50% of all resources and opportunities are made inaccessilble. Reason, they belong to a certain caste.

I have not seen untouchability or discrimination in the form as described in history. It was unfortunately true that people belong to certain castes were not allowed in social gatherings, temples and trade long back in the dark history. But from the moment I saw this world, I haven't noticed it to that extent that need special treatment. I heard stories that in certain parts of India, people still suffer from this, but that is very insignificant in number. The only form in which I saw discrimination based on caste is when it comes to Government, Education, Elections and jobs. I only noticed it whey my friends got seats in colleges, got jobs though they just managed to pass while I had to wait for another year to get another attempt to top the list to get a good college or a job.

I serioulsy doubt that the reservations system in the current form solve the real issue let alone any issue for that matter. It is just suicidal to continue the system that promotes the new form of social ill.

1. The very people who are suffering from this or suffered from this problem, are not the ones who are enjoying the benefits of this system. Almost all benefits are enjoyed by people who never suffered or suffer from this social issue as they are from cities, or from families who are well educated and having jobs. So the reservations system is not attacking the real problem. The policy of using the benefit of reservations once per family we never heard. The same families gets the benefit leaving behind a vast majority of people without any impact.
2. The reservations system is making more people from these castes incompetent and lazy. I had lots of friends who belong to so called lower castes. They are much better both in financial and educational aspects compared to a lot other. Some of them are much smarter as well. But they never competed with others. They never tried to top the lists. They never tried to work hard. Because they had a guarantee of job due to reservations. While though poor, and from families without any educational background, people from other castes worked hard, topped the lists and got better jobs, people who have the advantage of reservations took the full advantage and stuck to some form of Govt jobs. I felt so bad about my friends who did this. Its like closing eyes and taking advantage of charity while having perfect visibility to drive their lives.
3. The Reservations system has been in place for almost 60 years now. If it did not change the system and removed the social outcast, that triggered further extension then there is no point relying on such a foolish strategy now.
4. Reservations at 50% is a nightmare for people from other castes. Its like saying you have access to only 50% of any resource in India, and for that 50% you have to compete with everybody else. Isn't Indian government doing injustice to the people from other castes by removing 50% of all resources from their access?

How can people belong to so called forward castes eradicate this new form of untouchability? Introduce reservations for these minority people who suffered from social outcast from 1947 to till now? Hell NO.

Does any body remember the chinese proverb:
Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he'll eat forever.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

H1B Quota for year 2007 : 39,445 applications by 05/15

Link to USCIS Page                                                           http://www.uscis.gov/graphics/services/tempbenefits/cap.htm

For fiscal year 2007, that starts from Oct 2006, USCIS has received 39,445 H1B applications and approved 6,465 cases by 15th May, 2006 update.  That leaves 18755 applications before it reaches the cap for this year. So if anybody is planning to apply for a H1B, better hurry up.

Update: The cap for H1B for fiscal year 2007 was reached on 26th May, 2006 itself. It is suprising since USCIS issued a notification on 25th that they have received around 50000 applications by 25th may, 2006.  And for a long time, they did not update the above link. Even on 3rd of June, it was still showing numbers around 50000. But there is this notification on their home page.

http://www.uscis.gov/graphics/publicaffairs/newsrels/FY07H1BCap_060106PR.pdf

Friday, May 19, 2006

Mobile music is too expensive

Cellular Music Services Overpriced says Strategy Analytics http://www.mobiletechnews.com/info/2006/05/19/093256.html

Kevin Nolan, Director, Advanced Wireless Laboratory, added, "Our research suggests that users are willing to pay a premium of around 35 percent for the convenience of downloading tracks to both their wireless devices and PCs - subject to reliable network performance. In our view, the current 100 to 150 percent premiums charged by the main operators make adoption of these services highly unlikely."

Thursday, May 18, 2006

FON: Revolutionary Community WIFI

http://en.fon.com/ : FON is the largest WiFi community in the World
Join FON, share excess bandwidth at home and roam the world for free

FON is a community based WIFI network, where each individual joins FON network shares their WIFI with other FON members. In return, members can use WIFI whereever FON network(members) is/are available. It is now available in most cities all over the world.

Ever afraid of Telcos/ISPs don't respect net neutrality and force to use the network the way they want, not how you like it, check it out. FON is the best alternative and answer to most important questions about internet access and net neutrality. Gives a comfort feeling that it will survive against huge telco lobbying and market forces with funding from likes of Google, Sequoia and Skype.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Apple to embed camera in Monitor itself

Apple filed for a patent of an LCD Monitor that has microscopic image sensors embedded into it that can act as a high resolution camera.
Link on Engadget : " ... Apple for an LCD display embedded with thousands of microscopic image sensors that would allow users to video-conference while looking straight into the "camera." Data accumulated by the individual sensors would be stitched into actual images using special software, which will probably be bundled into future versions of iLife. Since the patent specifies almost as many sensors per screen as there are pixels, some of those sensors could have different focal lengths, with a defacto zoom lens created by switching between them. Apple goes on to suggest portable uses for the technology, such as employing the displays in cellphones and PDAs .."

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

VOIP will burn PSTN Revenues

A report by UK Firm Informa Telecoms & Media suggests PSTN operators loose $100B of their reveneue to VOIP services between 2005 and 2011.
"After 2010, PSTN will no longer be the main revenue generator in developed countries," report author Malik Saadi said in a statement. "There will be no justification for big operators to reserve a whole network for traditional PSTN voice traffic. This trend will increasingly push operators and network owners to gradually migrate their subscribers from traditional PSTN to VoIP."

Link to news item at Information Week

I bet PSTN phones will become a history very soon. Skype recently introduced free skype out calls to any phone in US and Canada. There will be less use for having a PSTN phone these days. Almost everyone in family carries a cell phone and when they are at home, they have skype, which is much richer than a traditional pstn phone. Remember the PSTN phone still charges $2.99 each for services like Call waiting, Calling Name etc, and charges more for long distance calls.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Skypeout is now free to all phones in US/Canada

Skypeout, the feature of Skype that allows making calls from skype application to mobile and landlines is now free to make calls to any phone in US and Canada.
http://www.skype.com/

Skype is a little program for making free calls within the US and Canada to all phones until the end of the year. Skype to Skype calls anywhere in the world are also free.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Indian Postal Service and Net Neutrality

Indian postal service does not provide Internet service, so has nothing to do with net neutrality as such. But some of the strategies it implemented to discriminate content has some relevance and insights for the struggling telecom/ISPs and the ongoing net neutrality discussions.

Indian Postal Service, one of the largest postal services networks in the world, runs under the brandname 'India Post' by Govt. Of India. It provide heavy subsidies in its services to reach common man in India. (Have a look at subsidies from 10th 5year plan by the Planning Commison of India,  Page3)  Postcard has been the most common and most used mail service by Indian people. Today, one can buy a postcard at 50 paisa (0.50 Rupee, equivalent to about 1 cent in US currency). Indian postal service actually gives a subsidy of 555.39 paisa (around 10cents) to bring it down to such a low price. Indian Government funds this subsidy through budget allocations for the good of common man.

During early 1990s, television exploded in India with many more programs and introduction of many private channels. Lots of programs started conducting interactive competitions to the viewers, and viewers need to respond with answers on post cards, the cheapest form of communication. People started participating in those competitions at an alarming rate. With the explosion of use of postcards for use to respond to competitions, Postal service and inturn Indian Government has to vest in lot more money to keep the price of postcard low so that common man is not affected. This has caused huge losses and deficit in the operations of the postal service. Remember, on each card Postal service looses about 90% of the cost of the card, providing as subsidy. 

So to solve this problem, Indian Government decided to discriminate the content of the post card, ie., what the post card is used for. In 1996-97 budget, the cabinet proposed to create tiered-postcard to solve the issue. Normal Postcard can be bought at the same price as before. (15 paisa in 1997, 50 paisa now). But this card can not be used for any kind of competitions or commercial activities. A new card has been introduced, called 'Competion Postcard' priced at Rs.2.00(in 1997)without any subsidy. This card must be and the only card be used for all kinds of competitions. On this card, Postal service did not loose a paisa. Almost every year the price goes up for this card, now (2005-06) priced at Rs.10 and India Post is infact now making Rs.5 profit on each card they sell.

"Content discrimination and tiers of service explicitly based on type of content" is at the core of the strategy used by Indian Government to solve the problem of profitability while maintaining the noble cause of providing service to comman man. And it worked so well.

Now the ISPs and Telecom/wireless providers are about to take a similar path to gain more profits from the rising internet traffic.You may compare postcard to internet service, compare competitions to video/music/file sharing... heavy data, noble cause to profits... !!!

Good? Bad? Reasonable? Absurd?  Up to you, to decide.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

India will overtake Japan to become the third largest mobile market

Yankee Report predicts that in the next two years, India will overtake Japan to become the third largest mobile market in the world after China and the US. It expects mobile users to hit 201 million by 2010.

Link to story at rediff

Friday, May 12, 2006

Why my ISP don't like Net Neutrality?

Because, they can not afford to like Net Neutrality. They oversold their current connection capacity. Market pressure is too much and they are not making enough profit. Not just that, they are thinking internet companies are making lots of money by just using their networks. So they realized that If they honor net neutrality, they will soon will be out of their business. Sounds, untrue, let me explain what I understand. Let us remove the sugar coat and special keywords so that we can understand it better. I hope You can easily relate to what is happening in the real world.

ISP X has 10Mbps connection to an apartment complex. And it has 5 customers who are paying 39.99 per month for a 1Mbps connection. ISP is just making a little profit thought its pipe is filled only 50%, because of the premium price. All customers always get their 1Mbps bandwidth. Always. They can not go beyond 1Mbps as it is restricted to 1Mbps.

Now, there is a new ISP in the area offering a similar service for 14.99.  So to compete with the new entrant and ISP X also reduced its price to 14.99. Suddenly ISP X is in losses. So it has to bring more customers to stay in profitable. So they changed thier offer to 2Mbps connection for 14.99. It got 20 more subscribers. And ISP is profitable again. But here is the problem. They promised 2Mbps for each subscriber. Now they have 25 subscribers, but only got 10Mbps link. So if all 25 subscribers are using internet, they can only give 0.4 Mbps to each subscriber.

None of the subscribers felt the difference, as they were only browing simple websites until recently. Internet companies and smart entrepreneurs started offerening new media rich content on the websites. Not everybody started consuming that rich media content, but few, say 10 of those subscribers, say some geeks, started downloading video, podcasts and music streams, and thus consuming most part of the bandwidth. Now the rest of the 15 subscribers, were not even able to browse those simple websites. Everyone started noticing how much bandwidth they are actually getting. So they complained. Threatened to disconnect if they do not improve the bandwidth. They might migrate to another provider if ISP doesn't do anything about it.

There are other few not so obvious objectives. ISPs want to make lot more profits on the rising internet traffic. And ISP's want to provide the same services as Google / Yahoo / Microsoft / MySpace... are providing, to make money like they do.

To solve these issues, ISP need more bandwidth and should be able to charge more. But if they invest so much money to add two more 10Mbps links, they will not make enough profit with only the current subscribers at current subscription rates. So, they came up with these plans.

  1. Restrict those 10 geeks not to download video, music and not to use VOIP phone on the internet connection. If they can do that, everybody can browse simple websites without noticing their bandwidth issue.  They can conveniently hide the fact that they overpromised the bandwidth and oversold.

  2. Start tiered internet, for geeks. If they want to download video, music and use VOIP service, they need to pay more, say 49.99 instead of 14.99.  If you don't want to use any of them, you can get connection for 14.99. The companies are very optimistic that many would buy this premium plan, if they can impose, because there is no fun on internet without this rich media content.

  3. Ask the internet companies who are hosting these music, video and VOIP services to pay some amount to ISP.

  4. Threaten everebody that if they don't listen to those three plans, ISP will not invest any more on the networks.


I hope, this will clarify atleast a tiny little thing about the situation and why so many are interested in talking about net neutrality.  Some think it is reasonable. Some say it is not. What do you think?

Update: I found a policy paper by Pheonix Center, discussing why net neutrality is not economically viable and if done how Telcom/ISP companies struggle.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Net Neutrality and Tiered Internet

Net Neutrality and Tiered Internet are the most heard, read and talked about keywords these days. What do they really mean? How these affect a common consumer. Here is my attempt to make it simple to understand what do they really mean and affect consumers every where.
Consider the following ficititious service offerings from your ISP which honors Net Neutrality.

Package 1(NN-Entry Level): You get 1Mbps connection to your home. You will be charged $29.99/month. You are free to use the bandwidth the way you want, for example you can browse google, connect on myspace, signup for vonage VOIP service, download podcasts using itunes, etc. Your traffic is not discriminated.

Package 2(NN-Premium): You get 5 Mbps connection to your home. You will be charged $59.99/month. You are free to use the bandwidth the way you want, as explained in package 1. But along with that, your ISP offers you a high quality VOIP service (better than Vonage for example), unlimited Video hosting service, an alternative to itunes, a free 2GB email service etc. Your traffic is not discriminated either. Your browsing experience will be superior due to higher bandwidth and other services offered may be atleast on par with what is available on the internet. For example, their video blog hosting service is better than youtube.

This is IDEAL tiered internet (with Net Neutrality). Your experience is different with different packages. You get lot more services offered by your ISP with premium package. Also you pay more, ofcourse. But the most important thing is your traffic is not discriminated, only your bandwidth is limited. You pay more, you get more services along with bandwidth. But within your 1Mbps bandwidth, you can use it whatever way you like it.

Now if your ISP does not consider net neutrality and offers tiered internet, that means:

Package 1(No NN-Entry Level): You get 1Mbps (not guaranteed) connection to your home. You will be charged $29.99/month. You are NOT free to use the bandwidth the way you want, for example you can NOT use completely or it will be slow searching in Google, but can use search engine provided by your ISP for faster results. You can not connect to myspace or connection will be slow if you connect to myspace and will be faster if you connect to a similar website hosted by your ISP. You can not use Vonage. You can not download video. You can not possibly download music streams aswell. In effect, Your traffic to certain sites or services is either discriminated or completely banned.


Package 2(No NN-Premium): You get guranteed 2 Mbps connection to your home. You will be charged $59.99/month. You are free to use the bandwidth the way you want, as explained in above while honoring net neutrality (NN-Premium).

This is how telecom/ISP companies are planning to offer so called tiered internet.
Compare this to what you get at USPS to make it much relevant. You get Over Night Guaranteed (Express) and 2-3 day shipping (Priority Mail) or general (First class). These are three tiers of shipping services available to you. Obviously, the overnight Express service is faster and expensive while general (Frist class) is cheaper and slower. This is tiered service.

Net Neutrality means, which ever shipping service you choose, you are free to send letters or packages to who ever you like, as long as they are within the weight limits (compare bandwidth here in for internet usage). USPS will not restrict you to send letters only to a certain people or send only certain type of documents.

If USPS becomes like your telecom/internet service provider, who do not honor net neutrality, you still get all tiers of services ( express, priority and first class). USPS restricts you to send documents only to certain people, or only certain type of documents can be sent. Or if you send certain documents, which are restricted, the package will be shipped late. Your packages are discriminated based on what they contain and where they are going, saying USPS owns the shipping trucks and shipping systems . This is what telecom/internet service providers are trying to/will definitely do if netneutrality is not imposed.
You can read a lot more about Net Neutrality at www.savetheinternet.com's blog : http://www.savetheinternet.com/blog/

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

T-Mobile bans VoIP and IM from super-3G service

News story at ZDNet




T-Mobile bans VoIP from super-3G service


T-Mobile announced a flat rate 3G super service, in UK called web n walk professional service that can give users around 1Mbps to 1.8Mbps. Unlike its current web n walk service where the users are allowed to do whatever they want, VOIP and IM applications are banned on this service. As per Analysts, T-Mobile may start its own VOIP service and at that point it might allow users to use VOIP services.

Some believe that we do not need net neutrality as Law, since telecom companies are anyway not going to ban any specific IP traffic for the users. But if there is no law, this is what happens. Network operators decide what applications to run and what applications to use.  This is exactly why we need net neutrality as a fundamental law,

Â

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

WSJ: India's Secret Weapon

Commentary: India's Secret Weapon

By RICHARD WILDER and PRAVIN ANAND
May 8, 2006

The Wall Street Journal reported in its commentary 'India's Secret weapon', that India is evolving into Asia's Innovation center by Innovation and protecting its intellectual property rights and thus differentiating its image as Intellectual Captial rather than mere oursourcing partner.

The commentary reports that Patent applications from Indian nnovation centers have increased dramatically, and there is whole dimensional change in the strategy of every business regarding Intellectual property rights.

It also argues that this new dimension in the strategy of the Indian business, is giving India a definitive edge in the market place, leaving countries like China and Brazil to dust.

Monday, May 8, 2006

Track your flight from Google

You can track your flight right from google search bar.  Just enter the airline name and flight number in the google search bar. And follow the link 'Track status of XXX flight XXX'. My in-laws left yesterday and I could track the status of the flight live through the fboweb.com website. The website fboweb.com also allow you to open the flight position in Google Earth providing a 3D tracking of your flight.

Another good flight tracking tool available at http://www.flytecomm.com/cgi-bin/trackflight

Watch Bangalore Traffic live !

Live traffic feed is now available as streaming video at Sify max website, http://bangalorelive.in/. The webcams are setup at 

  • Brigade Road

  • Basaveshwara circle

  • Hosur Road

  • Mekhri circle and

  • Bannerghatta Road   


Its fun watching the stream on Brigade road in the evening and scary to watch traffic on Hosur Road in the morning. 

Â

Sunday, May 7, 2006

Router Map of Internet Backbone in US

The Internet router backbone map and discussion on what it means and how to read the map at: Who owns the Internet? We have a map that shows you.

Internet map


Clicking on the image take you to a PDF file where you can see all the labels/info for each router in the map.

Clicking on the image take you to a PDF file where you can see all the labels/info for each router in the map.

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

3rd May : IBM's Deep Blue Beats Garry Kasparov

Link : Mastering the Game, A history of Computer Chess at Computer History Museum
"Machines will be capable, within twenty years, of doing any work that a man can do" - Herbert Simon, Psychologist and AI pioneer, 1965  

As of today, on 3rd May, 2006, after 41 years, machines in particular computers haven't completely replaced men but computers have completely changed the way we do things.  The way we communicate, the way we work, and most important side effect, the way we think through. I am not sure whether a computer has been built which can understand how we think, but we definitely changed the way we think with computers.

Chess is considered to be the best testcase for understanding the complexity of human mind and how fast it works. So evidently the scientists took the challenge to build a machine that can beat the chess player.
In 1770, diplomat and inventor, Wolfgang von Kempelen built a chess-playing machine called The Turk and presented it to the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria-Hungary. The Turk traveled to public fairs and royal courts alike for the next eighty-five years, playing such well known figures as Charles Babbage, Napoleon Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin.

In 1997, another man-made chess machine, a computer called Deep Blue, defeated the best chess player in the world.

On 3rd of May, 1997, exactly 9 years back, IBM's Deep Blue defeated the world champion Garry Kasparov, and proved a point, that a machine CAN beat the mind, if the human plays within a set of fixed rules.  It is quite obvious that human mind is not always bound by a set of fixed rules, but is free and only limited by one's imagination, so human mind per-se hasn't lost to a machine. But a machine can beat a human mind definitely in specific areas where a problem is clearly defined and measurable.
"I never considered Deep Blue intelligent anyway. It is just an excellent problem solver in this very specific domain"  - Murray Campbell, Deep Blue Team

Computer History Museum has the complete story and history of Computer Chess, that one must explore.
Mastering the Game, A history of Computer Chess : The history of computer chess is a five-decade long quest to solve a difficult intellectual problem. The story starts in the earliest days of computing and reflects the general advances in hardware and software over this period. This on-line exhibition contains documents, images, artifacts, oral histories, moving images and software related to computer chess from 1945 to 1997.

Amazon dumps Google for Microsoft

The Amazon's A9 search website replaced Google with Microsoft to power its A9 search website. The contract with Google expired on sunday.

This is definitely a news for Microsoft, lagging in search engine war and is about to almost disappear on the scene. Google enjoys a formidable lead with 49% while Yahoo is standing at number 2 with 22%. Microsoft is loosing its market share almost everyday and stands currently at 11%.

I wasn't impressed by the Microsoft search engine when I first used long time ago. I never looked back at it again. I guess, the reason for Amazon to adopt Microsoft search engine to power their A9 search may not be purely technical. It doesn't make sense to be technical. 

However, this news story reverses the most famous prediction in the EPIC, that Google and Amazon come together to form GoogleZon to make Microsoft a history. Now it is more interesting than ever to watch how each one play the game and who wins.

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...